Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
The minds of both players in the chess game seemed to have been integrated into the shadows and lights that danced around on the table. They were ignorant of the outside world and continued to play their game with deep concentration. Warret and Raphael were silent. If the game was a battlefield, the two high priests were on the sidelines.
Golier sat still while Musenu kept quiet. The entire courtyard was caught in a strange silence filled with adrenaline. The scene was so absurd that onlookers would chuckle at the sight. Musenu couldn’t help but curse the person who sent him the confidential report in his heart. He couldn’t believe he let himself be swayed by an anonymous document, then moved to kick down the door to a room where Lord Golier was busy with his chess game. Was it because the anonymous person wanted to frame him? Who was the young man playing the chess game with Lord Golier? Was he a supreme mage sent to Syah by the king?
Musenu could only think of grabbing the informer to beat him half dead, but now he could only wait at the door until Lord Golier finished his game.
Fortunately for him, he did not have to wait very long. After about a meal’s worth of time, Amon lit up and smiled before saying, “Lord Golier, I concede. I am but a junior to you and your magic and chess skills are far better than mine. Today, this game has opened my eyes. I have learned a lot!”
With his voice, the chess game of lights and shadows disappeared. Golier twisted his beard and chuckled. “Thank you, young man. I have not played such a good game of chess in a very long time! Your skills in the game are not half bad. It seems that you have studied military tactics, but you still lack practical experience. As for magic skill, your achievements are nothing to laugh at, especially since you have surpassed many mages of the same level. You are already astounding! Most people who play this game would at least require a staff to maintain magic power. You are not a loser; the game would have to go on until daybreak in order for a winner to be determined. You don’t want the poor people in the courtyard to kneel all night, do you?” Golier giggled like a child. He was in surprisingly high spirits. “I don’t want that either!”
When he was done speaking, the ninth level supreme mage turned to Musenu, smiled at him and spoke. “Our dear supreme warrior, you come to this residence this time of night and your way of greeting us was quite special! I was playing chess with a young man who has come from afar to be our guest. I apologise for failing to greet you earlier, I presume I hindered your official duties? If you have business to do, don’t let me hold you.”
Musenu was sweating profusely. He did not defend himself. Instead, he shook his head and replied, “I was ordered to arrest a man living in this estate. The information was clearly false and resulted in me breaking down the wrong door. Please forgive me, Lord Golier!”
Golier waved his hand once through the air. “The night is cool. You are still wearing armour. Don’t stay kneeling, stand up and speak. Please have a good look around. Is the man you want to arrest in this room?”
Musenu stood up and shook his head sharply. “I have looked. There is no one here to be arrested.”
Golier’s smile was gentle. “Captain Musenu, are you sure?”
“Of course I am!” Musenu nodded vigorously.
Golier was very clear. He was playing chess with a young man who had come from far away. How could Musenu arrest him? It was unconfirmed whether the man was a secret agent of the Ejpytian Empire. Even if he was, there were likely other secrets at play. What’s more, the man was a supreme mage himself. Musenu and his men would not be able to capture him. This problem, if it ever was one, was now Lord Golier’s problem. Musenu had no desire to ask any further questions.
Then, more movement could be heard outside the front gate. Governor Schmul had arrived with several personal guards and was surprised to see the scene. He rushed up to the broken door and entered the house to greet Golier. “My Lord, you are here? The patrol guards of the city are far too reckless. I am sorry to have allowed you to be disturbed by them during this fine evening!”
Earlier, a few guards returned to their posts to report on Captain Musenu’s effort to capture a spy, knocking down two doors in the process, but they stumbled upon Lord Golier and the two high priests instead. Fermien Schmul was already asleep, but when he heard the news he threw his robes on and quickly left to Allaha’s estate.
With a strong chortle, Golier pointed at Amon and said, “This is Lord Allaha, a former disciple of mine. He has recently become a seventh level supreme mage. He also rescued Warret and Raphael in the desert while they were out on errands for me. He happened to pass through Syah and will be staying for a few days. I was elated at his arrival, so we sat down for a game of chess, but I did not expect Captain Musenu to come and say hello too!”
Fermien quickly explained, “Misunderstanding, this is all a misunderstanding! Lord Allaha is a supreme mage who has come from afar, and he is a friend of yours. He also rescued our dearest high priests while travelling in the desert. He deserves the grandest reception. I will not bother you for tonight, but I will hold a banquet at the governor’s residence another day!”
Amon also rose to salute Governor Schmul and Golier laughed and shook his head. “No, there is no need for a banquet at the governor’s residence. Lord Allaha was only here to speak to me. This is a private meeting, so there is no need to alarm other people. Allaha will return to Ejypt tomorrow with no hard feelings. Since this is all a misunderstanding, I ask the governor, do go back to sleep. I am sorry to have alerted you.”
So, Fermien Schmul returned to rest with great interest in his mind. With all the years he has managed Syah, he never expected something like this to happen. There were no carriages nor horses on the street in front of the courtyard, so it was obvious that Golier and the two high priests had travelled on foot because it was a private meeting.
Musenu’s source for his confidential document caused him to invade Allaha’s residence in order to capture a secret agent. It was not possible for Golier to have not used detection magic to identify the intruders. There were three supreme mages sitting in the room behind the door that Musenu kicked down. Golier could have sent Warret or Raphael out to greet the guards so that Musenu would retreat, but the old man did not do so.
Golier and the young man were playing a serious game of chess as if they were waiting for Musenu to arrive. Golier clearly intended for Musenu to see him to imply that he already knows about this matter and that he would handle it by himself, and ultimately, other people should shut their mouths and keep out of their business.
If the young supreme mage was truly a spy from the Empire of Ejypt, he would not be able to do it easily in a city this secure, especially with Golier and two powerful high priests present, let alone the other powerful characters. If the supreme mage was not an agent of Ejypt, then the consequences of the misunderstanding would be serious, and the men involved would be better off acting like the incident never happened.
Fermien left soon after with Musenu’s apology. These people were very efficient, managing to find the appropriate door as a replacement soon after. Fermien Schmul ordered Musenu and his men to keep quiet about the incident. Musenu then had his soldiers retreat to the street crossings around the residence to ensure no one passes by to disturb Lord Golier and the others. In the darkness, the silence was finally restored.
After a short while, the newly installed door opened and Warret and Raphael stepped out gently. They closed the door behind them and stood guard in the courtyard.
Golier and Amon were now alone. When he spoke, he did not conceal anything. He jumped straight to the point and said to Amon, “Amon, we have not met for nearly three years. I first saw you outside Nietzche’s house. I did not expect to see you again today. You’ve grown up, and you are now a supreme mage!”
Golier’s sharp eyes could still recognise Amon that day. Amon stood up and gestured politely. “Yes, I am the miner Amon of the town of Duc. I know that you are my teacher Nietzche’s friend. You helped me at the very beginning and I hadn’t had the opportunity to thank you until today.”
Golier sat there, eyes full of emotion staring at Amon. “This is really a case of a wise master and a good apprentice. Only Nietzche can teach you to become such an excellent disciple, but you and he are not very similar… Amon, since you have come to Syah, allow me to ask you a few questions as a priest.”
Amon answered respectfully, “Please ask away, my lord.”
Golier thought for a moment before he asked, “I’ve heard of your exploits in Ejypt. You returned Lord Nero’s relics to the town of Cape and later became a glorious warrior in the Temple of Isis. You also rendered your meritorious service at the Hapisidis festival. These are all experiences of your own, but when you first left Duc, you were doing so in accordance with the laws of the Hittite Empire in an effort to find the sorcerer Bair. So I must ask: have you completed your task?”
It was apparent that there was a lot of infiltration between the two countries. Even Golier heard of Amon’s escapades. Amon then replied with a sharp smile, “I completed my mission, my lord, according to the official decree from the Hittite Kingdom. I discovered that the evil sorcerer Bair was destroyed thirty-four years ago by the previous guardian Adoratrice of the Temple of Isis. She sacrificed herself in the process.”
Golier nodded his head. “So then, your task has been completed and the town of Duc no longer exists. According to Hittite law, the Kingdom should not pursue the miner named Amon anymore. I have another question. Are you a secret agent of the Ejyptian Empire?”
Amon did not deny anything, but he said frankly, “I do not understand what you mean by a secret agent. I did accept a mission from the Temple of Isis to investigate the terrain of the desert and the swamp post-flood. The reason why the Adoratrice sent me to execute this task is because of me. I told her I wanted to go home and see what was left of it.”
Golier smiled. “There are thousands of miles of deserts, lakes, swampland and grassland in that area. Who would want to see them all? What the place will become is clear to the top figures of every kingdom in the region. Whether or not you investigate the terrain is not a problem. However, you entered the city of Syah this time, was it to spy on the military situation?”
“No,” Amon shook his head. “I am here with two purposes. The first one was to take a look at the manor owned left by the late Mayor Dusti. It was originally owned by his son Moses, but it was occupied by a band of rogues, so I purchased this residence instead. My second purpose was to see you, Lord Golier. Master Nietzche once told me that if I have the opportunity to see you then I should. You may have something to tell me.”
Golier was startled. He steered away from the subject and asked again, “You are not here to spy on the military but someone said that you are a secret agent sent by the Ejyptian Empire to do harm to the Kingdom of Hittite and the city of Syah. What say you?”
“After I was forced to leave my hometown, I came across a lot of twists and turns,” Amon replied calmly. “Finally, the Temple of Isis took me in. The Kingdom of Hittite is still subordinate to the Ejyptian Empire, at least for now. All I did was ask to return home to see what had become of it. The Temple of Isis gave me this opportunity. If this is a violation of Hittite laws, please exercise the appropriate punishments.”
Golier was deep in thought at this point. He smiled again and said, “Most conspiracies in the world are afraid of having their doors opened. Since you put it this way, you have not violated any laws, at least not until the separation of Hittite and Ejypt. Amon, do you know why I wanted those men to see you with me?”
Amon did not have an answer for Golier. He pleaded, “Please enlighten me.”
“When we played that game of chess, it was clear to me then that the guards would never be able to capture you. If they were to attack you, there would have almost certainly been multiple casualties, perhaps some collateral and innocent. You are an excellent supreme mage, it would not be easy for anyone to defeat you.”
Amon replied modestly, “But with you, I would have no chance of escape. You would overpower me in an instant.”
Golier blinked at Amon’s response. “You think so? Even the Scorpion King Girtublullu hesitated to attack you. You must rely on this. It is said that Nero had made some destructive scrolls and artefacts in his time, more notably, the scroll Tiamat’s Wrath. You were the one who found them, correct? Regardless, these are but rumours. You have not violated any Hittite laws. In fact, you completed the task given to you by the kingdom. I only came to meet and speak to the younger generation of Nietzche, and to play a magic game of chess with you.”
Amon had nothing more to say. He kneeled in front of Golier to express his gratitude. “Thank you!”
Golier groaned and shook his head gently. “You do not have to thank me. Actually, I didn’t really help you, not at the beginning and certainly not now. In the future, if we meet on the battlefield, I will not be polite!”
“You have given me a lot of help. Why would you say that?” Amon responded querulously.
“Because we are in different positions. What I know is far more complicated than what you know. There is, however, one thing I would like to thank you for; saving my disciples in the desert. I have another question, and I would like it answered, if possible.”
The supreme mage waved his hand and a projection of a scene appeared in the room. It was the scene of Girtublullu and Amon making vows. The figures said respectively, “If I violate the covenant, I will never become a deity.” “If I violate the covenant, I will forever be a mortal human.”
With another wave of his hand, the lights disappeared. Golier looked at Amon thoughtfully and asked his question, “What secret do you hold in your vow with the Scorpion King?”
The supreme mage spoke so bluntly that it threw Amon off. He did not want to lie, but he also did not know how to answer the question. In his hesitation, Golier added, “You do not have to answer immediately. Before you accommodate my request, I have a secret of my own to tell you. This secret has been buried deep in my heart for a very long time. I have not told it to even the closest people around me, as it is suitable only for you. Now you are finally here.”
Golier stretched out his left hand and shook it and a staff appeared in his hand. He had a ring on his left middle finger, which seems to be a spatial artefact similar to that of Nero’s. The staff was hidden in there. At the same time, the table and chairs in the room faded away. Amon felt like he had entered another world.
It was not unusual to Amon for message magic to conjure traces of light and shadow, but Golier’s brilliant skill brought Amon directly into a scene that happened some time ago.
It was the time of the flood. Below was a murky ocean, clouded by a dark sky and low clouds. There were heavy rain and lightning that streaked across the horizon like a curtain, emitting thunderous cracks that would deafen the simpler people. A spherical flash of lightning fell, and a spiral of bright tracing ignited in the water. Suddenly, a voice yelled, “God! You finally come to this world! I’ve been waiting for too long!”
A stark figure separated the waves and broke from the water and flew up towards the sky. It was Crazy’Ole Nietzche. His hair and beard danced in the air freely whilst his staff shot thousands of golden bolts of light upwards. His eyes were wide open, darting around the clouds looking for the god that hid behind them. It seemed like he was trying to tear the clouds apart to drag out the hiding god.
At last, the god in the cloud finally showed himself. Nietzche threw his staff further upwards like a javelin. It burst into golden light as dazzling as the sun to strike the hardest he ever had in his life. The blast blew away all the clouds in the sky above Duc. Numerous bolts of lightning discharged towards Nietzche while the heavens and earth shook.
The next moment, the ocean of lightning surrounding Nietzche closed up with another deafening clap of thunder. Swallowed by the thunderbolts, Nietzche was torched. Just briefly, he was as bright as the sun, but he quickly dissipated into ash.
The scene faded away but Golier’s magic had not yet ended. The light in the room shifted into a tall and magnificent temple. Golier could be seen kneeling in front of the statue of Enlil praying when suddenly the voice of the god emanated: “Duc was destroyed by the flood. The flood was brought by the rain. The rain was caused by warm winds from the ocean which collided with the winds from above the plateau. My power directed the winds, my rage guided the lightning.”
Amon could hear Golier screaming in his soul. “What about the Ducians? Nobody survived in the flood!”
Enlil answered, “The flood is my blessing to the state! I will incite cheers from a multitude of people. My believers will pour into my shrines like this flood did the land, thanking me for my kindness! You will know it in the future. As for the Ducians, you want to know why I didn’t save them in the flood? Why should I? It’s ridiculous for me to explain this kind of senseless question to a mortal!”
Amon’s mind was then suddenly filled with information about Duc from when he first left it. The death of many young children and tragedies that happened while the population prayed to Goddess Mourrin. The people violated the oracle of their patron saint.
“Do you see, priest? They disobeyed their patron’s oracle. Mourrin had no reason to stay there. So I will give my own blessing to the land: the flood. But mortals shouldn’t only enjoy the gods’ blessing while giving anything in return. I have no duty to save the sinners in the flood.” Enlil’s cold voice echoed in his head, like a judge reading a verdict.
Golier’s magic ended on that note. Everything in the house returned to normal. Amon fell on his knees like a boulder held his shoulders down. He had not shed so many tears in a long time. His head stayed down for a good amount of time. Now he finally understood the causes and consequences of the great flood and finally saw Nietzche’s last living moments. His mind was so full of indescribable sorrow that he could not bring himself to speak.