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(ATSSC) Nabu

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posted on May, 8 2007 @ 05:47 PM
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It was a little difficult to hear his voice, so the king focused on the movements of his advisor’s hands. There would be three columns of attack. One to the north of the king’s position: a massive army of Hittites. One to the northeast: an equal throng of Subarians. A third army of Hurrians would attempt to cross the Tigris River during the night and attack from the south.

The wind died down for a moment and the advisor’s voice came unimpeded to the king.

“You will be tempted to come down from your position here, but you must not move.” The king nodded quickly, like a student in school. He’d given up trying to maintain a regal aura around Munir, his advisor.

Munir closed his eyes and focused on resurrecting every detail of his dream from the night before. The three columns of attack. The plateau. The rain. He wasn’t missing anything.

Munir spoke again, leaning in to the king’s ear to battle the resurgent wind.

“You will be afraid. But you must not move.”


* * *


“Sargon, the first king of Akkad, surveyed the field of battle from right about where we are standing here.”

Andy Barker took a moment to let that sink in. If he was going to get the funding he needed to finish this archeological dig, he would have to play the game.

He flipped his hair dramatically in the wind and leaned in close to his wealthy visitor’s ear.

“Almost a quarter of a million soldiers perished right here.”

Garret Shumaker III, shipping billionaire and amateur archeologist, nodded slowly.


* * *


Munir watched as the Hittite and Subarian horde made its way to the plateau. A column to the north. One to the northeast. The king had sent a small force to intercept the Hurrians and they had done so successfully, massacring the flanking army as they struggled to cross the Tigris river.

It was all just as it occurred in Munir’s dream.

Rain began to fall and the battlefield below became a slick stain of gray and brown. The king turned to Munir, his face pale.

“Rain?”

Munir nodded. The rain pounded down, turning thin trickles of water into cascading waterfalls that fell away from the plateau like a starburst.

The horde to the north charged, intending to traverse the steep incline of the plateau by blunt force. The king’s archers, packed onto terraces built into the side of the incline stood ready, sensing the looming need for their services.

“Pull your men back.”

The king turned to Munir with his jaw dropped. His advisor’s visions of the future had never ceased to amaze, but now he was asking the king to completely relinquish his advantageous position and allow the enemy a chance to fight on level ground.

Munir noted the king’s hesitation and proceeded to do what no man had ever done before. He gave the king an order.

“Do it now.”

The king shouted through the stifling rain and his order was passed through the ranks with increasing mistrust. Slowly, in disbelief, the first defense of the king’s army began to retreat up the hill to the crest of the plateau.

A massive man, covered in mud and grinding his teeth in rage, approached the king. A strident word reached the king before the man, shouted through the clamor of retreat:

“Why?!?”

The man was General Enoch Sabatum, the highest and most feared General in the king’s army. He held his hands before him, pleading with the king who had so rudely snatched his battle from him.

“The hill is our advantage!! Look!”

The Subarians joined the Hittite advance, a broiling throng cheering the retreat of their enemy, and moving toward the base of the plateau like ink. General Sabatum shook his fist at the enemy far below him, unable to garner his rage and disbelief.

“We must advance, or we must retreat. There is no middle ground, sir. To meet them here…we will be slaughtered like pigs! They will march unimpeded to Nippur – “

“Enough!” The king exploded at his General, trying his best to emanate courage in spite of his pale skin and twitching chin. The king’s eyes flicked over to Munir, then back to General Barbus.

“We stay. We must remain visible.”


* * *


“Is there any truth to it?” Garret Shumaker III asked, pulling the collar of his cashmere coat up around his ears.

“What’s that?”

Andy knew exactly what the billionaire was talking about, but the more mystery he could surround the legend with, the better. Rich people invested in archeology because of Indiana Jones, not because of any true historical interest.

“That the Akkadians were led by a prophet.”

“A prophet.”

“Yeah.” Shumaker breathed in sharply through his nose and wrinkled his brow, actually attempting, as far as Andy could tell, to look like Harrison Ford. “A man with the power to see the future.”

Andy felt dirty. He couldn’t believe he was about to prostitute himself like this, but the voices of his team members were still ringing in his ears: Say what you need to say. Play the game. Just get the money.

Andrew Barker, archeologist and renowned expert in Akkadian and Sumerian history, took a deep breath, choked back the bile in his throat, and nodded slowly.

“You’ve done your homework. Yes. There was a prophet.”


* * *


General Sabatum was beside himself. The side of the plateau was covered with the writhing mass of the enemy, advancing toward his meager army, chewing up his tactical advantage like termites.

This was all the witch’s fault, pouring his visions into the king’s ear like thick poison. The prophet had predicted weather until now. Famines and floods. But now his influence had infected the battlefield. My battlefield, thought the general as his knuckles paled against the hilt of his sword.

The Hittites were a stones throw from the crest of the plateau. Within moments, the entire Akkadian army would be overwhelmed. And why? Because they failed to fight based on the counsel of a demon. General Sabatum drew his sword and turned toward the prophet. The first casualty of this battle would be the witch.

He froze. The king’s prophet was staring right at him. No. The prophet was looking past him, over his shoulder. General Sabatum felt a cold chill drain down his spine. The General snapped his head around. The cold chill ran from the bottom of his spine back to his skull.

He couldn’t believe his eyes.

General Sabatum cried out like a child and dove away from the edge of the plateau.


* * *


“There are references to a nabu, a prophet, that King Sargon called upon late in his life.”

“A nabu.” Shumaker savored the new word, swishing it around his mouth like wine. “Do you think any of his possessions could be here?”

Bingo.

“You never know until you look, Mr. Shumaker. That’s why we’re here. Why we want to stay here.”


* * *


Continued...




posted on May, 8 2007 @ 05:54 PM
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* * *


The sound was deafening. It surprised Munir, as his dream did not accurately portray just how loud it would be.

A large crack had sprouted on the eastern side of the plateau. As the rain pounded down, the integrity of the north side of the plateau had been compromised. The crack became a gaping crevice that crawled across the top of the plateau, only a step or two from the edge. The fissure shot across the flat table of the plateau with growing momentum, the earth screaming and sucking as it pulled apart.

Munir found himself wondering if it was the 300,000 men tearing at the side of the plateau that caused it to collapse, or if it would have disintegrated in exactly the same fashion privately, another minor shifting of the landscape, unnoticed.

The king stepped to Munir’s side and pulled him away from the still crumbling side of the plateau. King Sargon was aghast, completely bewildered. The two of them stood at the top of what was now a very high cliff. Beneath them, there was only sporadic movement: random soldiers staggering about, an arm twitching, legs flailing, a priest digging frantically.

The entire Hittite-Subar horde, with only a few miraculous exceptions, had been neatly buried alive.

* * *

“We got it!”

Andy stood at the entry of the tent, arms raised in victory, waiting for the mocking cheer that was sure to be handed him by his team.

Nothing. Andy’s hands slapped back to his side. His crack team of three was huddled together around the table, studying something voraciously. Andy shook his head, walked over to a portable water cooler in the corner, and poured himself a congratulatory cup of warm water. He raised it to no one in particular and offered a toast.

“To Andy. Thanks man, for letting us not be on unemployment. You are great.”

Finally, a head turned from the table. Miriam Barker’s long, brunette pony tail whipped around as her ears finally registered Andy’s voice. Miriam smiled broadly, her smile dazzling against the thin layer of dirt on her cheeks.

“Andy. Where have you been?”

Andy rolled his eyes. The one-track mind of archeology nerds. He laughed and pushed in next to Miriam at the table. He and Miriam had received their PhDs together years ago at Brown, and were married shortly thereafter. They had made a decent name for themselves in archeological circles, known simply as “the Barkers”, they were the first people to call on most Mesopotamian digs.

She put her arm around him and whispered into his ear.

“Paydirt, baby.”

Another shining pair of eyes lifted from the table. Aziz Tanas, the administrative planner of the dig.

“We found it in S-4,” he gleamed, noting the sector of the dig where they had recovered the object of their affection, still resting in the middle of the table. “Grant just brought it in.”

Grant Hawley, a young prodigy of Mesopotamian culture, looked at the item with his hand over his mouth, studying it with glassy eyes.

Andy’s heart was beating hard in his chest and he gave Miriam a gentle squeeze. First the money, now this. It was his day, no doubt. In the middle of the table sat what every historian and archeologist hopes for the minute they break ground. Paydirt, indeed.

It was a book.

“Boxwood writing boards with inlay. Ivory hinges. Ebony housing. It’s…man…” Andy couldn’t believe it. The book, especially considering it had been buried for some three thousand years, was simply beautiful.

“It’s stunning.” Miriam shivered slightly. “What does the cover say, Grant?”

Everyone turned their eyes to Grant, the ranking resource on ancient languages. They held their breath as Grant twisted one of his eyebrows.

“It’s gibberish.”

A collective sigh drifted through the room. Grant shook his head.

“Sorry, it’s nothing I recognize. I mean…I recognize it…it’s Aramaic, more or less…it’s just not a word I recognize.”

Andy stood up and ran his hands through his hair. No matter. There would be time to unlock every character of the book. Grant was the best in the business and all he needed was time.

“What the hell was that thing doing on a battlefield?” Miriam’s voice was dreamy as she stared at the book.

“It was on the same strata as the battle?”

Grant snorted. “Not just the same level. The damn thing was sitting on a breastplate. Inside a bone box, wrapped in linen…but the box was on the breastplate…no doubt from the same era.”

“Aziz, get a hold of the Sharjah Museum and get us-”

“Done. Already done. My man there has a lab waiting.”

“Great. Let’s get this thing out of here.” Andy’s worst nightmare was having a find like this robbed out of their tent by the locals. The black antiquities market would literally kill for an artifact like this and the team knew it. They were already gathering the proper material to camouflage the ancient text for its trip to the museum.

Everyone but Grant, who was still thoroughly enthralled by the lettering on the front of the book. His mouth stretched into a thin smile.

“Here’s something funny.”

Everyone stopped what they were doing. They knew it was only a matter of time until Grant figured out the cover inscription, but this was even sooner than they imagined. Grant chuckled and tapped his cheek with an index finger.

“If you take the phonetic sounds of the characters here…basically, you know…if you sound out the gibberish word the way it’s written here…the way the author would have…you know what it says?”

They all froze in anticipation.

Grant looked up at Andy and shrugged, a bewildered smile creeping across his face.

“It says your name, Andy. It says Andy Barker.”

* * *



posted on May, 8 2007 @ 06:11 PM
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* * *

Munir took a small sip from the clay cup in his hands, breathing in the earthy smell of the sikaru as he looked out at the sunrise. The fermented drink made his head feel warm, charming his headache away and affording him the opportunity to think more clearly about his dreams.

The dreams.

They came sporadically, providing him extended snapshots of the next hour, or the next week, or the next year. Often they were vivid enough to allow Munir to pick out details, brilliant colors and vibrant sound, leaving a pounding headache in their wake which Munir would stifle with cup after cup of sikaru.

The first dream had come when Munir was only five, a morbid vision of his village engulfed in a raging inferno. Munir was seven years old at the time and could not get out of bed for several days following the dream. The headache was ungodly, and the visions of horror sat in his head like vultures. Munir’s mother considered it to be a fever when her son told her that the village would be burned to the ground on the next night of the new moon.

He could still remember the look in her eyes as she stood among the ash of their village, face stained with soot and a crying baby in her arms. She sneered at Munir and jabbed her index finger at him.

Nabu.

Munir was sent away by his mother, convinced that he was a harbinger of death, a mouthpiece of wickedness. Over time, he learned to analyze his dreams. He would replay them in his mind, scouring for details that would make the dream useful, picking through the sounds and images for a nugget of wisdom that might prove practical in the present.

Unfortunately, his dreams were often incoherent in their chronology, and random in their topics. It was difficult to quilt together a meaningful picture of the future…of his future. Many had benefited from the visions that passed through his sleep like lightning, but not Munir. Munir was just as lost as the day his mother ordered him away from the smoking remnants of his home.

There was one dream in particular that hung like dust over his head. It was a rare dream of Munir’s own future, of his fate…of his death. There was a dagger. Munir could still feel it entering just between his shoulder blades and making its way through his torso like a mole.

The sun took another step up the smooth line of the horizon. Munir scooped out another cup of sikaru and breathed in deeply through his nose.

But there were other dreams as well. New dreams of a distant future. Strange dreams that could provide him the guidance he so often offered to others.

* * *

The document room in the Sharjah Museum was filled with a constant hum that filled Grant’s ears like a drum roll as he stood, arms folded across his chest, in the far corner of the room. The hum was the climate control, built to keep the room cool and dry to protect the antiquities within.

Grant’s breath came in shallow tugs as his eyes shifted from the door, to the clock above the door, to the book on the table. It was the book from the dig. The team had playfully labeled it the “Barker Book” in homage to the odd gibberish on the front that could be twisted into a simplistic version of Andy’s name in Aramaic.

Grant had spent every waking moment translating the book, successfully deciphering the first two pages after conquering the dialect of the author. Now Grant was doubting himself, doubting his skill. Doubting his sanity.

The message the book contained was impossible.

The clock above the door clicked softly toward 4:15pm. Grant heard footsteps in the hall and he slowly raised a shaking hand to his mouth. The door opened and Andy walked in.

Grant’s jaw hung open as he stared at Andy. Andy froze, immediately terrified by this strange greeting.

“How can that be, Andy…? It’s impossible.” Grant whispered.

Then he fainted.

* * *

Andy and Grant sat together on the cool floor of the museum’s document room. As an archeologist, Andy had an almost endless supply of patience, but that well was being quickly drained by his friend.

Something had shocked Grant enough to make his brain forsake consciousness. Andy needed to know the origin of that shock, and Grant was shuffling his way back to reality far too slowly for Andy’s flaring sense of curiosity. Finally Andy gave up and pulled away the wet towel that he had previously laid across Grant’s forehead.

“Okay Grant. Enough’s enough. What’s wrong?”

Grant looked long and hard at Andy then shook his head. He grabbed the towel back from his boss and put it over his eyes. After a deep breath, Grant came clean, his mouth delivering the news that his eyes had promised before they were covered.

“It’s your name, Andy.”

“What?“

“It’s your name on the book. For real. All that “Barker Book” crap, it’s balls on. It’s not a joke…it’s true Andy.”

Andy was disappointed by this lame attempt at…what was it…humor? He rubbed his temples, feeling duped and a little angry.

“Dammit Grant…”

“I’m dead serious, Andy.”

“There is no time for this.”

“I’m telling you-”

“So what now, somebody planted this book to make us look stupid.”

Grant yanked the towel off of his face, his voice rising in frustration. “No no. I’m telling you Andy this is legit Akkadian 3000 BC text…I know it is and it is talking about you…”

“Can’t be.”

“It is describing-”

“I have journals lining up for interviews and you-”

“Cancel them.”

Enough!!” Andy’s voice echoed off the walls. He was officially furious. “What is your problem, Grant? Listen to yourself. It’s rubbish…what you’re saying…it’s not possible.”

“I know Andy…I know…” Grant bowed his head and shook it in disbelief. Finally, he looked up at Andy and the two locked eyes. “It describes you Andy. It describes your hair, your clothes, your shoes…”

“Describes…like…?”

“It describes what you’re wearing right now, Andy. It said what time you were going to show up here. It talks about this conversation. It talks about this room and our dig and…”

The room fell into silence, only the hum of the climate control moved against the gray walls. Grant stood up and walked cautiously over to the book on the table.

“Andy…it’s…”

After a moment, Grant began to read, his eyes slowly cycling across the Aramaic text from right to left.

“I am the nabu of King Sargon, the first of Akkad. I see you in my dreams, And-Dee Baa-kur, and measure your thoughts in my own. You hold as relics the common tools of my day, and view as past what to me is future. It is under these rarest of circumstances that I reach to you for assistance.”

Andy covered his face with his hands. Grant peeked up from the book, shook his head, took a deep breath, and continued.

“Cover not your face, And-Dee Baa-kur, for I must see your mouth and face for your words to be translated. You must relay to me a name. A name beyond importance to me. You must tell me who it is that commits my murder..”

Andy’s hands slid away from his face, his jaw slack, his face ashen. Grant looked up from the book.

“Well?”

“I…”

“It looks a lot like this guy is watching us right now Andy, who killed him?”

Andy’s eyes traced the ceiling as his brain scrambled to retrieve what once was a trivial piece of history, but had now become a personal favor. His teeth clenched.

“I don’t know. I don’t know.

Andy’s face blurred into a shade of gray and the walls of the room slowly faded into black.

Munir’s eyes fluttered open. He found himself breathless and sweating. A fresh headache advanced on his brain like a thunder cloud.

end



posted on May, 8 2007 @ 09:09 PM
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Bloody hell Essedarius who killed him!! (my moneys on the King and NOT the General)

Never fail to deliver mate, that was good.



posted on May, 9 2007 @ 10:00 AM
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It was Miriam !

I think. Munir awoke and . . .

What a great story.



posted on May, 11 2007 @ 01:14 PM
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My own personal compass of a good story is one that i don't want to end....this is one of those Ess!

P.S. I noticed you did not use the word "jaunty" at all......



posted on May, 14 2007 @ 09:55 PM
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Time travel via divination, very original indeed. Nice twist at the end!



posted on Jun, 1 2007 @ 11:33 AM
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Great story, Ess.. Wonderful plot line - superb imagery!

Loved it!






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