Volume II : The First Sin
Chapter 61 – Bring Me Back to Ejypt[2906 words]
Amon had made his own bed and now he had to lie in it. He had woken up too many souls and helped them escape the Underworld. He couldn’t help asking himself, “Would I have done that if I had known what would happen to me now?” The answer was affirmative. He would have made the same choice. He couldn’t just leave the souls of his father and Mayor Dusti and the other Ducians trapped in this place forever.
Meanwhile, he was using the Detection Eyes to search the void around him. All of a sudden, he sensed someone behind him. He turned around and saw Neti, the gatekeeper of the Underworld, appearing from the void with a black smoky chain. He spoke coldly, “Your soul now belongs to the Underworld. You will stay here forever, as a humble servant of the Queen of Kur.”
Amon couldn’t find a trace of emotion in his icy voice. There was no room for bargaining. Neti stalked towards Amon, like a cat cornering a mouse. But he suddenly let out a terrified, queer cry before he pulled out the chain from his hands. He paused, as if he had just seen the most frightening thing in his life, then turned around and quickly ran away.
What he saw was that Amon had pulled out three scrolls and threw out two of them. The last one was a grey scroll which he grasped tightly in his hand. Amon made a quick decision. If he must escape, he had to use the maximum amount of power he had at his disposal. And the most powerful means he had were the three label-less supreme magic scrolls that Nero had left behind.
Since Nero used them as his final reward, they must be the most precious and powerful ones. Amon once thought that it would be a long time before he could figure out what they were and use them. But he was wrong, he had to use them now, with merely a clue of what they did.
After passing through the seven gates to the core area of the Underworld, Amon knew that he must be in the deepest depths of the giant cave. The whole Underworld was an enormous magic formation that created a strange, otherworldly space. It must be formed from many supreme space and message magics.
Of the three scrolls, the slimmer one with silver handles was called “Space Turbulence”. It could break spatial restrictions or distortions, and thus was very useful as an escaping method when besieged by spatial magic. However, once released, “Space Turbulence” would create numerous spatial cracks that could also harm the caster himself, making it a highly dangerous supreme magic.
The other scroll with golden handles was called “Message Annihilation”. Able to breach any message magic, it also served as a destructive magic. Sophisticated message magic could not only be used to preserve and deliver a message, but it could also be used to create camouflage, disguises and traps, all of which “Message Annihilation” could destroy completely.
Amon wasn’t sure how exactly these two scrolls worked. They were the best weapons he had in the current situation. He took all three scrolls out of the rib, and then threw out Space Turbulence and Message Annihilation. The last one was a thin grey scroll. He couldn’t even activate it. So he didn’t throw it out with the other two. But the gatekeeper seemed to know the effects of the scrolls he had just thrown out, quickly fleeing as soon as he saw them.
Message Annihilation created a large hole in the void with countless wrinkles in the surrounding space. Then Space Turbulence exploded, smashing the hole into a huge, spinning whirlpool. Small fragments of space were drawn into the whirlpool, draining to somewhere unknown. It seemed that the scrolls broke through space and created a tunnel to somewhere else. But since Amon couldn’t fully control the scrolls, the tunnel was full of spatial cracks and torrents. But he had a good tool to protect himself.
He took out Osiris’ rib. The bone expanded into a huge boat. Amon got into it, took his staff in hand and ordered the boat to enter the whirlpool.
The vast hole created by Message Annihilation was still expanding, throwing more space into complete chaos. The afterwinds of Space Turbulence dragged the boat violently. Amon guessed that he was no longer in the Underworld. But he couldn’t exactly tell where he was either. Would he be caught and locked back into the Underworld, or just get lost in nowhere?
He made it. He had escaped from the Underworld.
Deep in the cave, Kella’s furious voice was echoing in the resplendent palace, “Useless piece of crap! How could you let a mere fifth-level sorcerer escape from my realm?… How dare you, as my gatekeeper, flee from an escaping man?”
Neti was on his knees in front of his queen, shuddering with fear. He muttered, “My great lord, I was too scared. Do you know what I saw in his hand? He was about to use a ‘Tiamat’s Wrath’!”
The Queen of Death was astonished, “What? Tiamat’s Wrath? Who could make such a scroll? Who was willing to make it?”
Neti reminded her warily, “I know of a mage in Ejpyt called Nero. He could make such a scroll. Has Your Majesty heard of him?”
Kella frowned, “Nero? I remember this name. A true genius scroll-maker. Did he really make such a scroll? But I heard that he died long ago. How could this boy get to know him?… Wait, I checked him when he was here. He had no scrolls with him. Moreover, he would be committing suicide if he used Tiamat’s Wrath. But he wanted to escape. He didn’t use it.”
Neti explained, “He didn’t. He took it in hand and used two other scrolls: a Message Annihilation and a Space Turbulence.”
“I know.” The Queen of the Underworld snapped, “It’s my realm. He’s gone.”
Neti replied in a small voice, trying not to infuriate his lord again, “The Message Annihilation might have prevented Your Majesty from seeing what was happening. But the Space Turbulence must have already torn him to pieces. He was committing suicide anyway.”
The gatekeeper’s effort obviously failed. The goddess shouted furiously, “He would’ve just used Tiamat’s Wrath if he wanted to, you idiot! He was trying to get out of here and he made it!… There’s one thing I can’t understand. He was presented in front of me with three scrolls which I didn’t detect. What’s your explanation of this, my gatekeeper?”
Neti seemed to be pushed back a step by her oppressing eyes, “Mourrin! It must have been Mourrin! ” he shouted, “Only a deity could do this to another deity. It’s her revenge for what you’ve done to her!”
But it didn’t make sense. Goddess Mourrin wasn’t with Amon when she left, nor could she pass the three scrolls to him under Kella’s nose. The three scrolls just came out of nowhere. As the lord of the realm, Kella noticed them immediately after they appeared, but before she could figure out how, the Message Annihilation turned the area to complete chaos and Amon disappeared soon afterwards.
But to Neti, it was the only explanation that made sense, though it couldn’t clear the doubt in his lord’s mind. Another related problem was that, if Goddess Mourrin did bring a man to exchange for Amon, the Queen of Kur wouldn’t be able to return Amon to her.
Even the Patron of Duc and its people didn’t expect that Amon could escape so quickly. When she came out of the Underworld and flew over the gorge, all of her attire and accessories returned to her. She stared down for a while at the entrance to the Underworld and uttered resentfully, “Kella, my sister, I will remember what you’ve done to me today. You will taste my vengeance one day.”
She was about to leave when a huge magical perturbation suddenly resounded deep from below. She trembled with fury and scolded, “That’s your response? Great. I will bring you a man right away.”
She disappeared from above the gorge. Not long after, the goddess emerged over the Syah Plateau. It was within the territory of the kingdom of Assyr. The altitude was high. The land was covered with ice and snow. The mountains were shrouded by cloud and mist. Inanna walked over this vast barren land. She pointed her ivy staff forward and entered a wonderful land that common people would never to able to see.
Streams wriggled merrily on an extensive grassland. Flowers blossomed at the foot of the mountains. Amid this picturesque place was a magnificent palace, where rousing music could be vaguely heard from faraway. How could any mortal imagine that such a beautiful wonderland could be found deep in the harsh, barren, and freezing cold mountains of the Syah Plateau? Without a deity opening the gate, no mortal would be able to find a trace of this paradise even if they were standing right there.
The goddess flew soundlessly into the palace, drifted across the corridors and entered a splendid hall, where the music came from. A beautiful girl was dancing in the center of the hall. She was barely wearing any clothes. Her long blond hair covered her chest from time to time. Only a golden chain was hanging around her waist. The long, shining pendants attaching to it softly patted against her full and round hips as she twisted her body.
In front of her was the throne that belonged to the Goddess Mourrin. But now, a man was lazily lying on it. He was young, tall, strong and handsome. He was holding a goblet of wine and enjoying the young girl’s dance.
“Shubla! Dumuzid! What are you doing!” The goddess suddenly appeared at the door and shouted at them. Her voice was as cold as the ice in the high mountains.
Shubla, the dancing girl, turned around immediately and prostrated herself at the goddess’ feet and cried with surprise, “My great lord, you are finally back!”
The goddess glared at her, “Of course I’m back, or are you hoping for the opposite? I didn’t expect that my maid would one day seduce my husband.”
Shubla burst into tears, “No, my lord, you misunderstand… Your husband said that you would never come back from Kur. He said you were trapped by your sister… He told me that he wouldn’t rescue you unless I dance for him and wait upon him as his maid. I am telling the truth! How can I lie to you! Your majesty can see what has happened here at any time.”
The young man lying on the throne had already jumped up from panic. He tried his best to smile and said, “Mourrin, my dear Goddess! You are back! I was just thinking of how to rescue you!”
The goddess pointed at the naked maid, “And that’s your solution? I have a better idea. The Queen of Kur just asked me to send her a man that I once loved to be her slave. You’ve just made yourself one!” She pointed her staff at Dumuzid.
“You are insane! Mourrin! You think you can do whatever you like with me?… What about you seducing Gilgamesh, and letting Enkidu fall in love with you after being refused?… What about all the men you have loved and hurt? I merely asked your handmaiden to dance and I have to be punished for that?”
Dumuzid was enraged as well. He cursed his divine spouse and splashed the wine in his goblet towards her. The wine expanded into a cloud of golden fog and covered the entire hall. The goddess simply coughed, and the fog turned into tiny pieces of ice which fell to the ground.
“Only a dance? Would I ever do things like this to you? I punish you not only for your betrayal, but also for the sins you’ve committed when you betrayed me.”
The goddess reappeared from the dissipating fog, but the young man was gone. He transformed into a snake and quickly flew out of the palace and swiftly out of the whole domain, disappearing behind the ice-covered mountains.
The goddess was still enraged. She shouted to her maid, “Why didn’t you flee with him? Are you still loyal to me?”
Shubla was still weeping, “My great lord, Shubla has always been your loyal maid. Your majesty has always known it.”
Inanna started to calm down. She nodded, “Indeed, I can see everything that has happened here. Dumuzid is the one who has betrayed me. Take my staff and go to every one of my realms with Shara and Takku until you catch Dumuzid. Take him to the Underworld and hand him over to my sister, in exchange for a man called Amon.”
“But, he is your husband.” the handmaiden reminded her.
Amon didn’t expect that the rescue would come so soon. Inanna asked her servants to capture her ex-husband in order to get him out. But where was he now?
After he drove the boat into the whirlpool of spatial torrents, he was lost in the turbulence of space. He could only sense the seemingly endless impacts and tractions from the enormous spatial forces outside the boat. He had no idea where he was. Without the protection from the boat, he would’ve already been torn into pieces.
Finally, the bumpy journey in the strange space ended with a huge concussion. Amon almost passed out. But then everything went quiet. He found the boat stranded at a riverside. Above his head, the night sky was full of stars. The water was broad and calm. It could be a lake or an ocean. The shore was full of reeds. Behind the shore was a vast desert.
Where was this place? Why was he here? Before Amon could think of anything, he jumped off the boat and went to the shoreline — he saw a cat lying in the reeds, enervated, dying. It was Schrodinger.
“This is the Syah Desert, the border of the realms of the Anunnaki. I know you have the scrolls and the bone, which helped you escape from the Underworld. I expended my power to get you here. Go south, then go west. Bring me back to Ejypt…”
This was the message left on the ground by Schrodinger. It was hastily written and unfinished. The cat’s paw was just beside it. The cat was already unconscious. Its fur was as matted as it used to be when it lived in Crazy’Ole’s house. But it had done an amazing job, bringing Amon’s boat all the way from the north of Bablon to this place.
Seeing the message and looking around, Amon suddenly recognized this place. It had once appeared in the images that Inanna had shown him that day. One of the Euphrate River’s affluents changed its course and formed a large lake at the foot of the mountains on the west side of the Euphrate River, just north of the Syah Desert. He was standing at the southern shore of the lake. Travelling to the south, crossing the desert, and then turning to the west, he would arrive at the State of Cape of the Empire of Ejypt.
Amon didn’t know exactly how far it was from the very northern part of the Syah Plateau to the edge of the Syah Desert. But it must be more than a thousand miles. He couldn’t explain what had happened with him and the cat. However amazing it was, the cat couldn’t tell him anything now.
Amon recalled that Schrodinger always loved to sleep. Had it been accumulating its power that whole time? But it seemed that it had used everything up for him now.
He held up the cat gratefully and summoned the rib back. Then he threw all the healing magics he knew at it. Lights appeared from all directions and shined on to the cat’s body. But Schrodinger was still unconscious. If it weren’t for its weak breaths and heartbeats that Amon felt, he would’ve thought it was already dead.
Amon felt terribly worried, but he could do nothing about it. From the message it left, the cat shouldn’t be in a critical state. What it needed was more rest.
The cat asked Amon to bring it back to Ejypt, which fit well with his plans. Amon had been on his way to the State of Cape in Ejypt before he became involved with the princess of Bablon’s affair. He still had the certificates signed by Lord Drick.
According to Crazy’Ole, this cat had been brought out from the Isis Shrine by Bair. Now it asked him to take it back to Eyjpt. Did cats have nostalgia too?
Amon was a bit curious. If Schrodinger could run all the way from the Euphrate Valley to Duc and travel all the way from the side of the Euphrate River to this place, it could well have traveled back to Eyjpt in the past thirty years. Why would it wait for his escort?
It was possibly because it had lost some important abilities or power that made it possible for it to travel across the desert. That was the best reason Amon could think of. Perhaps Schrodinger would tell him after it woke up this time.[List of Characters]
Shubla : Inanna’s handmaiden.
Dumuzid : Inanna’s husband.
Shara : Inanna’s servant.
Takku : Inanna’s servant.