It was quite a clear day. The sunrise reddened the sky. Tender light sprinkled down on the two, coating their figures with brilliant golden glow. Enkidu gazed at the morning sun and remarked: “Killing Humbaba was once the pinnacle of my life. It’s proof that I had the ability to fight against the gods. But it is also a sign that my practice in body arts has come to an end. Since then, no matter how hard I worked, I could never feel progress as I did in the years before. This troubled me for a long time. Even though I remained undefeated, I was often bothered by frustration and weakness.
However, after all that has happened on the battlefield recently, where Amon even managed to injure me, I seemed to have found a glimmer of hope in my path. This time, my opponent was not a single foe, but a giant mighty empire. There has not been a big war in the continent for a very long time, and since ancient times, the feats of great heroes have always been built on the battlefield.
This war has spurred my fighting spirit. I failed to kill Amon even after several attempts. This actually helps me recover my ambition and my passion. My power, once bound, boils and erupts. It’s the feeling I had when I was on my way to slay Humbaba. I feel progress again.
Gilgamesh nodded. “I saw you kill Humbaba with my own eyes. Back then, I supported you during the fight and prevented it from escaping. When it revealed its true form, the appearance of the nine-headed serpent was terrifying to behold! The last few days, on the battlefield, I saw the invincible Enkidu once again, just like when you were fighting Humbaba. But what do you mean by progress this time?”
Narrowing his eyes, Enkidu replied: “It is all about motivation. The path doesn’t exist when there isn’t even a goal. That day, when I realized that it was her, I was angry. I had never been so angry before. I felt powerless. But I somehow managed to stay calm within the anger. And then, Horus chose to make his appearance in the sky. Charging to the sky, I destroyed the cloud eagle and injured Horus! He is a real god, the king of gods, worshipped by all the Ejyptians. He’s the ultimate symbol of the empire that I am fighting. When my sword cut through the sky, it seemed to have opened a door. It was a door leading to eternity, eternity that transcends me!”
Gilgamesh put down his staff and stared silently at the rising sun, seemingly pondering Enkidu’s words. After a long time, he finally said: “With great constancy and willpower, you managed to carve a new path from the dead end, which is what I have been searching for all along. Since gods exist, the way to be one must exist as well. Now, I look at you, I see hope.”
The Geb legion finally arrived in Khenmet and joined the main force, replenishing their numbers. The Geb legion was also known as the elite forces which guarded the northern borders of the empire, but when Amon looked at the troops, he was unable to see the morale and aura which they should possess as elite forces. It was little wonder that Amon would be disappointed. He was comparing newly arrived troops to the troops who had already experienced fierce battles.
The Geb legion had not been on the battlefield for a long time. Their nerves were not tuned to the life-or-death mode. Compared to the veterans, they were more like skilled civilians. War were still away from them.
Besides, only half of the real Geb legion had actually arrived in Khenmet. The other half was transferred from the garrisons in a nearby sepat, which were even far less skilled than formal soldiers.
Amon ordered the legion to be split up then reassigned to different parts of the reserves, which greatly displeased Petr, the Head of Geb legion. The latter immediately started protesting. The reason was simple, once split up, it’d be difficult to count the defeats and victories.
Amon had only been appointed commander-in-chief very recently due to extraordinary circumstances. He wasn’t from a powerful clan. He didn’t have time to convince everyone in the army. The old commanders didn’t quite get used to submit to his orders. Petr had only just arrived in Khenmet and did not understand the ongoing situation. All he could think of was that Amon had just broken up his legion into pieces and therefore depriving him of his authority. How could any commander willingly agree to such an order? Furthermore, this order came from a young kid that had only been around for such a short time.
Petr was so angry that he almost wanted to flip the table during the meeting as he protested with harsh words. Sitting in the middle, Amon simply watched on indifferently. Since the order had been issued, it would be carried out regardless of whether Petr was willing or not.
Without needing Amon to speak a word, Lykwid stood up and put one hand on Petr’s shoulder, pushing him down to his seat before speaking slowly, “It’s not just the Geb legion, all the remaining four legions have been split up and the troops reassigned according to the needs of the battle and stationed at either Khenmet or the two camps on either side. If we had not done this, we would not have succeeded in repelling the Uruk legion in the last battle. The order has been issued. Execute it first. If you have any objections, please report them to the Pharaoh.”
As all the other Heads of legions such as Vadin, Ankh and Rod Drick held the same view, Petr could do nothing but comply with the order. Next, Neferu, the oracle of the Geb legion said: “You can reassign the soldiers if you wish, but the priests in my legion have all been trained by me personally. I have the responsibility of commanding them, so they cannot be reassigned. Before you deploy them, my approval is required as well.”
Wadj-hotep was half angered and half amused by his words. “Neferu, both Lord Lykwid and I have no objections regarding Lord Amon’s way of using our troops. We also handed over our command of the priests to him and even the both of us are ready to carry out his commands at any time. What is your point in doing this?”
Amon waved his hand and said: “Just as a country has rules, an oracle indeed bears responsibility for the priests under his charge. Lord Neferu is not wrong in saying that I need to seek his approval before deploying his priests. If that is the case, the priests from Geb legion shall be solely commanded by him. His mission is to defend Khenmet and assist the warriors in defending the city walls in the event of an enemy siege. In order for the commanders who just arrived to understand the situation better, bring out the records of the battles thus far and show it to them.”
The ninth-level supreme mage Lykwid personally operated the records with his magic and put the scenes of the battles on display. Everyone in the meeting hall relived the images of the fierce battles which had occurred between the Ejyptian army and the Uruk legion. Although most of them had seen it already, they were still astounded by what they saw.
Petr and Neferu were shocked speechless by what they saw and they did not expect the battle to be so bloody or their opponents to be so terrifying. Just as they recovered their wits and were about to say something to Amon, the special envoys sent by the Pharaoh arrived and everyone left the meeting hall to receive them.
Upon receiving his latest rewards, Amon finally had a status which matched his post of commander-in-chief. Now there was no one who could raise any objections to his orders. Initially, Neferu wanted to take back his words and delegate command of his priests to Amon. But the latter had no intention of changing the order. Neferu was still in charge of the defense formation of Khenmet. Knowing how Urhiya had been killed by Enkidu, the old oracle of the Geb legion found a trace of fright that he failed to dismiss in the next few days.
However, he did not have to worry about it any longer, for Gilgamesh sent a messenger to deliver a letter of challenge. In the letter, the lord of Uruk stated that they would meet on the battlefield in three days for a final battle. It was going to be the final battle. Either the Uruks took Khenmet that day, or they went back where they were from.
Both sides have already suffered heavy losses. To Amon, the result of that was more than two thousand casualties on the Uruk side. According to the scouts, a force of roughly a thousand troops from the Uruk city’s reserve forces had arrived to replenish the Uruk legion’s supplies and numbers.
Originally, these reserve troops were supposed to be left in Uruk to guard the city. However, two other legions from Bablon had arrived in Kish and made it across the Euphrates river. Now, they were stationed at the northern end of the Syah desert and looking dangerously towards the kingdom of Hittite. Since Gilgamesh no longer had to worry about the Uruk city, he decided to end everything in one final battle. This was the best choice for an expeditionary army.
Amon’s reply was simple and straightforward. “I await you on the battlefield!”
Three days later, both sides once again set up army formations in front of Khenmet. Tension arose from the forest of spears and blades. Before setting off, Amon asked Petr whether he was a supreme warrior. Holding his chest high, he replied: “Yes, I am an eighth-level supreme warrior and I have guarded the northern borders of our empire against the desert bandits and barbarians successfully for many years.”
Amon smiled. “That’s good then. Please wear this armor and disguise yourself as one of my personal guards.”
Petr was stunned. Amon was actually going to use a mighty Head of the legion as a personal guard? Wasn’t that a little humiliating? However, looking towards his sides, he saw two other Heads of legion, Vadin and Ankh, already wearing the personal guards’ armor and covering their faces with their helmets. Gabriel, who had just recovered, also joined in. Metatro was the only one not wearing a helmet that covered his face, but that was due to the fact that he was already a guard.
Including Metatro and Amon, there were now six supreme warriors in this squad of warriors! Not only that, even the two ninth-level supreme mages, Lykwid and Wadj-hotep, had done the same and stood at the rear of the squad. Their staffs were hidden under their robes.
This was probably the most glorious moment of Metatro’s life, for he was now leading some of the most powerful and skilled warriors on the continent into battle! Amon’s reason for doing so was obviously to try to overwhelm Enkidu with numbers. After the previous two battles, Amon was able to ascertain one fact: Enkidu had gone mad, but in his madness, he was single-mindedly trying to kill Amon.
Horus had already made his appearance and he could not rely on Mourrin to protect him again as well. But he was inspired by what Mourrin had done, so he gathered all the greatest experts he could find and disguised them as his personal guards. This was practically unheard of, but Amon used his absolute authority to pull it off. Since Schrodinger had told him that the upcoming test would be the most dangerous one so far, he would not hold back on making whatever preparations he could.
Looking upon the squad of elites, Rod Drick’s blood was burning with excitement and anticipation. He also wanted to wear the armor and join the squad of experts at the frontlines. Unfortunately, he was not even a supreme warrior. Amon’s order for Rod Drick was simple. He was to lead the reserve troops and defend Khenmet together with Neferu. In the case of a defeat at the frontlines, he was to cover the retreat of the troops into the city.
Since the two ninth-level supreme mages had joined the squad of personal guards, Idu was left with the task of commanding the priests in battle. Although Idu was not the supreme mage with the greatest achievements in the army, his ability to command was the best. The formation unfolded. Amon’s chariot stood in the middle of the first line of chariots. Metatro was the driver. Beside Amon’s chariot were the personal guards.
This time, Gilgamesh was not sitting on a chariot. Instead, he remained on the mobile platform, which was placed in front of their army’s formation. In front of the platform stood his personal guards armed with throwing spears and shields while Uruk’s priests stood behind the platform. On either side of the platform were the armored horsemen and chariots, neatly arranged in formation.
Before either commander-in-chiefs had spoken a word, a lone figure holding a broken half of a broadsword and wearing a scalemail filled with cracks walked out and stopped in the middle of the two armies. It was Enkidu. Even though he was an enemy, Amon could not help admiring his fearless attitude.
Getting off his chariot, Amon also walked forward alone before stopping some distance away from Enkidu. From afar, he nodded his head and said: “Enkidu, the battle has not started yet. For what reason have you come forward by yourself? Are you planning a sneak attack or are you intending to surrender?”
Pointing one finger at Amon, Enkidu replied: “Supreme General Amon, beloved of Horus, guardian of the two lands, protector of Cape, chosen by An-Ra, great in victories known by all the states, is that you?”
Amon nodded. “Of course it is me. News certainly travels fast, to think that you have already learnt of my latest title. Why bother asking the obvious?”
Enkidu continued speaking without any expression: “That’s good. Supreme General Amon, I need you to answer some questions. Also, for the honor of a warrior, I give you the chance to make a choice!”
Amon frowned and asked: “You can ask whatever questions you want to ask. But winning a debate means nothing here.”
Next, Enkidu started with his first question. “The Empire of Ejypt, the Kingdom of Bablon, do they always exist and never change?”
Amon was stumped by the question. According to the legends, the Ejyptian Empire was created by the gods. The first Pharaoh was Osiris. But Horus was now the king of gods. More discussions about this would not result well on the battlefield.
Amon answered with a smile: “The Ejyptian Empire has existed as long as the gods and is blessed by the light of Horus. All these information have long been recorded on the pillars of the temples. As for Bablon Kingdom, it seems that a Bablon warrior like you does not know about its history. It’s better for you to go back and ask your people!”
Rather than commenting on Amon’s answer, Enkidu spoke in a voice loud enough for everyone on the battlefield to hear and gave his own answer, “The Ejyptian Empire doesn’t always exist. Its borders have changed numerous times throughout history. The gods have eternal life, but men who worship them suffer in the endless cycle of life and death. In their limited lifespan, they defend and fight over territories for the sake of their immortal gods. Amon, don’t you think this is ridiculous?”
Amon’s frown grew deeper. Even though Enkidu’s words were not wrong, to speak them out aloud in public was akin to offend the gods. Instead of rebuking Enkidu, Amon asked: “Why don’t you ask Marduc this question?”
Enkidu finally smiled. “You can’t answer my question, or you don’t want to. Because your beliefs are shaken. Look at the soldiers from both countries bleeding pointlessly for the sake of the immortal gods. As the Supreme General, don’t you think you should bear more responsibility?”
Amon was nearly driven mad by what he said. He wondered if there was something wrong with Enkidu’s mind. The soldiers were bleeding pointlessly? Wasn’t it him who had taken so many lives on the battlefield? Coughing lightly, Amon said with a serious expression, “Enkidu, it seems that you have gotten something wrong. You were the ones who invaded our land. The warriors behind me are not just fighting for the glory of the gods, they are defending their homes and their dignity! What’s your point after all the nonsense?”
“Good! Then fight for everyone’s dignity! In the name of a warrior’s honor, I challenge you to a duel. I heard that you managed to capture the King of Hittite alive and held him hostage. They call you the bravest warrior on the continent. Now you are the guardian of the two lands, protector of Cape, chosen by An-Ra, great in victories known by all the states. You won’t refuse a duel, would you?”
Amon’s expression was a little weird as he rubbed his chin with his hand. “We are having a war between the two countries! How can I accept a duel now? If you had stolen something from me or bullied my friends, I might be interested in a duel with you.”
Who ever gave the idea of a duel to Enkidu? It was indeed humiliating to refuse a duel in front of the armies! Should this be considered trouble brought on by Inanna? He was indeed a great warrior, but dueling Enkidu was no different from suiciding. Even if it meant losing face and damaging the army’s morale, he had no choice but to refuse.
Enkidu seemed to have expected his refusal and continued with a sneer: “Supreme General, let me finish stating the terms of the duel. If you accept the duel, we will fight in front of the two armies. If I lose, the Uruk legion will retreat from Ejypt immediately. If you lose, you just need to resign from the post of commander-in-chief and give up the title of Supreme General.”
[List of Characters]
Petr: the head of the Geb legion
Neferu: the oracle of the Geb legion.