As soon as they met, they chatted and laughed among themselves, leaving Amon to his own devices. Amon put down his cup and asked: “You wish to duel me, Lion King? Even the judge has been invited, but you haven’t asked whether I agree or not. If you were trying to prove your love to Goddess Mourrin by dueling, I think you are using the wrong method.”
The Lion King turned his head and said: “I am not dueling with you to prove who loves Goddess Mourrin, much less to decide who should be loved. Drink this cup of wine and then I’ll tell you the reason for the duel. Actually, I came from Ennead’s divine realm.”
Amon drank the wine and said: “Ennead’s divine realm? Did Seth send you to duel me?”
Ugallu’s voice shook the air around him with the echoes of metallic clashing: “I was sent by Seth, and soon, the shrines of Ejypt will send their men after you. Seth asked me to follow behind those pursuers and to provide assistance accordingly. But I don’t wish to do that. I just want to resolve this matter in my own way, so I came ahead of the pursuers to meet you.”
The Scorpion King interjected: “Ugallu, you didn’t do what Seth told you to do. But did Seth not tell you that Tiamat’s Wrath is in Amon’s possession? Are you still going to duel him despite that?”
The Lion King stared at Amon. “I know you have Tiamat’s Wrath in your hands, but are you sure you can activate it before I kill you?”
Amon could only laugh bitterly in his heart. The real Tiamat’s Wrath had already been taken by Maria, and the one he had was only a fake. Although it looked flawless on the surface, it was doubtful if he could deceive the eyes of Girtablullu and the Lion King. In any case, activating it would also mean getting yourself killed, and no one would use it unless they wanted to die together as a last resort.
And it’s not always possible to activate the scroll as one desired to. Amon had experienced this when he faced Enkidu, where he couldn’t even find the opportunity or time to activate the scroll. Under normal circumstances, activating a scroll was but a simple action, but it took time and magical power nevertheless. Besides, using it on the battlefield would mean killing everyone within the range of the spell, regardless of friend or foe.
Today’s Amon had an even higher level and strength compared to back then, and his magical power had greater depth. Amon was confident that even if he encountered Enkidu again, even if he wasn’t a match, he would still be able to find an opportunity to activate Tiamat’s Wrath. Without moving a muscle, he replied: “You can try.”
The Lion King laughed and waved his hand. “I’m not a fool, after hundreds of years of practising to achieve what I have today, I value my life and will not die worthlessly together with you. Even if I wanted to force you to use Tiamat’s Wrath, I’m afraid Girtablullu wouldn’t agree. He agreed to come as a judge, so of course he wouldn’t even take any risks to himself.”
Amon asked again: “Then what do you want, if not a duel?”
Ugallu: “A duel is only an agreement, a way to decide the outcome and honor it, not necessarily to kill the opponent. Of course, this is assuming that you indeed have the capability to activate Tiamat’s Wrath in front of me.”
Girtablullu interjected again: “Ugallu, you’re talking too much nonsense, just tell us exactly how you want to duel.”
The Lion King nonchalantly lifted the wine jug on the table, without pouring it into the cup, and drank directly from it, emptying the jug. Putting it down, he said: “It’s simple. As long as Amon can withstand three roars from me, he’s considered to have won.”
Girtablullu hugged the two scorpion demons on his lap and laughed. “Three roars should at least be manageable for him. If you really wanted to kill him, he would have activated Tiamat’s Wrath already!”
Ugallu replied: “Yes, I have no intention of forcing him to die with me, but if I could make him unable to even activate the scroll, how would he be qualified to duel with me? If he is able to stay sitting peacefully through my three roars, then he has the right to sit here and drink with you and me.”
Girtablullu tilted his head and looked at Ugallu. “You’re even stronger than before after you recovered from your injuries. Are you going to roar now? Then I will take cover from a distance first!”
Ugallu laughed. “Scorpion King, can’t you even withstand this bit? You’re invited to judge our duel. You shouldn’t be away when we do it!”
Girtablullu pinched the waist of the two female scorpions and said: “Of course I’m not afraid, I’m only afraid that my two beloved consorts won’t be able to stand it.”
Ugallu: “Then you cast a spell to protect them, and let Amon also see the Scorpion King’s prowess. In short, you have to sit and not move, if you do, I lose.”
Girtablullu snorted. “You’re such a stubborn lion. Fine, I’ll just hold my girls with me and sit still, you can roar all you want.”
Ugallu asked Amon again: “Are you ready?”
Amon held up an arm. “Hold on! You still haven’t explained why you want to duel me? Also, I haven’t agreed to duel you either!”
Ugallu looked at Amon with interest. “You’re quite an interesting person, I can tell you what happened. When I wandered far away with my injuries, Seth had helped me by allowing me to recuperate in Ennead’s divine realm, and later allowed me to continue my path in Aeru.
In return, I helped him in his victory over Horus, so I already owe him nothing. But to obtain the freedom to leave the Ennead’s divine realm and to come and go freely, he asked me to do one more favor, which was to act as an emissary and secretly provide assistance when you were being hunted by the shrines of Ejypt. But I didn’t want to do that. I chose to meet you before the others to do Mourrin a favor.”
Amon laughed bitterly. “So I have to sit and listen to you roar three times?”
The lion king blinked. “You can choose to run away. But once you run from me, you become my prey. And I will have to do what Seth told me to do and hunt you down. Are you willing to be my prey?”
Amon poured himself a full glass of wine and lifted the glass as he said: “I have no intention of running away, I just want to make things clear. Since it’s an agreement, there has to be something at stake, right?”
The Lion King said to the Scorpion King: “Since you have been invited to judge, you will be the one to tell him our terms.”
Girtablullu said: “If Amon is still sitting there safe and sound after three roars from Ugallu, it is considered Ugallu’s loss. Seth’s task will be considered done, Amon will receive a gift, and that will be it.”
Ugallu: “The gift is ready. If Amon wins, consider it my apology. But if he loses, it’s a win for Seth, and don’t forget that I’m here for Seth’s mission. Amon will make a promise to build a shrine for Seth in the Plains of Duc and summon Him.”
Girtablullu smiled. “If you win, consider it our win too, Lion King. If he loses, he must also build shrines for both of us in the Plains of Duc and perform summon us as well.”
Ugallu said to Amon: “These are the terms of the duel, you have two choices now, either agree to the duel, or run away now.”
Amon took a sip of wine and took a deep breath. “The terms seem fair, but I just don’t understand why Seth wants to build a shrine in the Duc Plains and why two of you wish to get involved as well?”
Ugallu and Girtablullu looked at each other and said: “You don’t have to worry about that yet.”
Amon actually knew quite a bit of why they want their own shrines, but he just looked at the wine cup and said: “I’m well aware of one thing though, without people’s sincere offerings and faith, the statue is like a body without a soul, do you care the body that much?”
Ugallu laughed so loudly that it seemed as if the clouds in the sky were shaking with the laughter, and even the wine jug on the table jumped up. The Lion King had not roared yet, he was just talking and laughing, but it had already displayed such power. He laughed as he said: “You are right, but you haven’t completely understood many things in this world. We will need you to not only build shrines, but also perform a summoning ritual.
This way, it will be as if we were standing there, and we will be able to understand much of what is happening in the Plains of Duc. Through the wishes that people make before the statues, it will also serve as a form of practice in the understanding of all things in the world. As for whether or not there are offerings or sincere faith, you don’t have to worry about that, because once the shrine is there, people will always come to the shrine for their own reasons.”
Girtablullu also laughed and added, “It’s a small revenge. That place was Mourrin’s realm, so he wants a shrine there. As for me, I’m also doing this to show Marduc and Enlil a piece of my mind.”
Amon nodded and said: “I see, so please begin.”
Ugallu put away his smile and asked again: “Don’t you want to see what I’m going to give you as a gift?”
Amon shook his head. “I’ll accept this duel whether you give me a gift or not, it’s not too late to see it after the fight, and I don’t want to ask what it is first.”
The Lion King said with slight approval: “You are truly a man who will not be moved by temptation, I hope your strength is as strong as your mind.”
Amon had expected him to open his mouth and yell, but Ugallu sat there not moving at all, just watching him quietly. Amon was never afraid to meet anyone’s eyes, he also looked at Ugallu and suddenly noticed that there was something familiar about his eyes, much like the pupils of a cat in the darkness, these pupils were actually dilating!
In this moment of delusion, the surrounding scenery changed, the bleak desert became a vast grassland with no end in sight, the tent and the table disappeared, and only a small mountain-like lion stood in the distance, opening its bloody mouth to roar at the sky. The lion’s roar shook the heavens and the earth, while Amon seemed to be just an unknown living thing, and all the other living things on the grassland were trembling and crawling in the roar of the lion.
In the midst of the shocking roar, Amon remained clear of mind. He gently put his right leg on his left, and then a chair appeared beneath him, and a wine cup appeared in his hand. Following that, the surrounding scenery returned back to normal, and he was “back” to that tent on the sand dune, while Ugallu was still sitting across him.
Girtablullu laughed and said: “This roar of yours did not do much to him. If it were a real fight, he would have been able to activate Tiamat’s Wrath already.”
Ugallu replied with a heavy expression: “No one would choose to self-destruct before they’re in a desperate situation, this kid anchors his mind well, unlike those demons we once slew. … Pay attention, there are two more roars!”
As soon as he said that, Amon couldn’t hear anything, and the tent around him and the table in front of him disappeared. This time it wasn’t an illusion, but these objects were in fact shattered by raw power, and not into pieces, but instantly reduced to powder in the violent tremors. The roar was too overbearing and powerful, so much so that there was silence between heaven and earth.
Amon closed his eyes, neither looking nor listening, but he could feel the intense impact, like two mountains crashing together in a grind. This silent roar could reduce everything to dust, and in the impact, people couldn’t control their own power, as if body and soul were separated. If Amon had been suppressed by the roar, he wouldn’t have been able to use any scrolls, and it would have been too late even if he wanted to die together.
Girtablullu sat at the side, both female scorpions in his arms showing a painful expression. The sand around them rose up and wrapped around their bodies in a strange flowing movement, using rapid vibrations to block the impact of the roar, allowing the two scorpion demons to barely withstand it.
An unknown amount of time passed, but Amon finally opened his eyes, and realized that the sun had risen to its highest point. He had met Ugallu shortly after sunrise, then the Scorpion King showed up. The few of them hadn’t talked for long, but it was actually noon already.
As soon as his eyelids moved, the silent roar disappeared, the barrier of sand that enveloped the Scorpion King fell, and Girtablullu patted the shoulders of the two beloved consorts. “Fear not, it’s all right! …Ugallu, you’ve ruined the banquet, I haven’t had enough of the wine!”
The Lion King looked at Amon with widened eyes, and there was a hint of weariness in his eyes, the two roars just now had consumed a great amount of energy. Amon also felt a wave of weakness, but he remained silent and continued looking at Ugallu. Ugallu waved his red sleeves, apparently he had a spatial artifact as well, and in the blink of an eye a table was set up again.
Girtablullu’s hands were caressing his scared consorts huddling up against his chest. Finally, the Scorpion King reached out to pour the wine himself, and said as he drank: “Amon, you are indeed good, Ugallu’s roar did not paralyze you. If it is really a fight to the death, he would not have been able to stop you from using Tiamat’s Wrath. He has one last roar, and it’s not simply about physical power, so be careful.”
Ugallu, who had been sitting, finally stood up and stretched his hand across the table to point at Amon with one finger. In the instant that his finger extended, it was as if the world was silent and colorless. Everything disappeared, no sound, no image, nothing to be sensed. Human body grows with feelings and sensations. Without them, common people will lose the sense of existence and fail to respond to their own needs.
The world disappeared, and so did Amon himself. If Amon hadn’t passed the test when he broke through the eighth level, his soul would be lost instantly, then he would lose control of his body. Fortunately, he found himself back again. If this was a real fight, he should have made a move to break the opponent’s spell. But this wasn’t a real fight. This was just a game, a contest.
Amon held his soul as peaceful as being at home, as if the so-called body was just an imagination, a reflection of his mind, a beam of light shed on a blinded eye. Then came another roar from the endless void, a sound that could not be heard. It was the vibration coming from the souls in this world, with a power to shake any soul into pieces.
All the past events that lurked in the memory were suddenly presented with clarity, dragging him away from the reality and pulling him into the turbulence of time and space. Once he pulled a thought, he would be lost in the disordered chaos of his own spiritual imprints. This illusion was so unreal that it appeared to be real in turn. It was like a prison built with his own soul and the only way out was the total denial of his self. If Amon hadn’t experienced Schrodinger’s spiritual imprints, he would have already thrown out the scroll of Tiamat’s Wrath, even knowing that it was fake.
But Amon remained unmoved. Not only was his figure sitting there securely, but there was no wavering inside either. When the sunlight finally pierced the void and spilled onto him, he was back in the desert by the sea, holding half a cup of wine in his hand.
Ugallu looked at him with an unbelievable gaze and said: “With this last roar of mine, even if you weren’t a match for it, you can still cast magic to try to break free. But it seems that you were not touched at all, how is this possible, are you also a god who has passed the test of endless ceasing and arising cycle?”
Amon smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. “Perhaps I was luckier and thus was able to withstand your third roar. Lion King, you are stronger and more accomplished than me, but I am not without the power to fight. If you really want to kill me, even without using Tiamat’s Wrath, you will have to pay a great price. Thank you for settling it in this way, and thank you for the wine!”
He drank up the rest of the wine slowly, and only now could he feel a buzzing echo in his head. He felt mentally exhausted and all his bones ached, as if he had just experienced a fierce battle. The sun was already starting to set in the west, the two female scorpions in Girtablullu’s arms had already passed out. Amon could withstand this roar thanks to the experience in Schrodinger’s spiritual imprint, but he certainly was not going to tell Ugallu and Girtablullu about it.
Girtablullu sighed. “Ugallu, according to the agreement, Amon won! … Didn’t expect that, didn’t expect that at all. Amon, congratulations!”
With a wave of his hand, an object flew towards Amon, and Amon reached out to catch it, only to see that it was a polished bull horn. It was completely different from an ordinary horn, over three feet long, curved with a slight spiral, obviously refined by magical power. It existed in a single flawless body, and it was translucent with an onyx pattern.
Amon asked in surprise: “What is this?”
The Lion King looked at the horn in Amon’s hand with a sad look in his eyes. “You should have heard of our legends. When the war of the Anunnaki started, Girtablullu and I were both summoned by Tiamat and Kingu. There had been nine of us, talented beasts raised by or received guidance from the Ennead. We were called the nine emissaries. Girtablullu and I survived the battle, so were Mushmahhur and Kulullur. The others didn’t. Kulullur left immediately after the battle and is nowhere to be found today. Mushmahhur, who later called himself Humbaba, was eventually killed by Enkidu.
In that war, Kusarikku, one of the nine emissaries, was slain by Mourrin, and this is the horn of that poor bull which Mourrin gave to me as a reminder of that battle. It is a powerful weapon, a natural artifact. It can even be made a deitifact. I am not keeping it anymore, so if you see Mourrin, take out this horn and tell her what happened today.”
Girtablullu sighed. “Kusarikku was different from the rest of us. He had a gentle temperament. He never killed anyone in his life and only ate grass, but no one can stop him when he goes berserk. In the battle of the gods it charged at the forefront with flames on its hooves, and the thunderbolts of Marduc only destroyed one of its horns. Then it used its remaining horn to take down two other gods, and was finally slain by Mourrin. This horn became Mourrin’s trophy.”