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Marduc replied: “I asked you to be the bait to lure Enlil to make a move, and that is indeed a great risk for you in itself, so feel free to ask for what you want.”
Amon thought about it and said: “First, you can not strike at me and take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of me together with Enlil, including your divine emissaries. Second, the people of Salem have their own gods, you can not force them to change their beliefs or interfere with their choices.”
Marduc laughed. “The first condition is not a problem, and it is perfectly normal for you to make such a request. As for the second condition, I can also promise you that I will not interfere with the faith of the city of Salem even if my followers take over the entire continent. But I want to remind you of one thing: people believe in gods not because they were born to believe, but because they can get spiritual solace from them or fulfill their desires in the name of the gods. The world is changing and people’s hearts will change, and the descendants of Salem will make different choices, and by then you will be watching your statue tumble.
Amon nodded and said: “Okay, it’s a deal! When everything is ready, how shall I inform you?”
Marduc replied, “You are also a god, you should know that you can summon me in many Marduc shrines in the world.”
Amon shook his head and said: “If Enlil wants to kill me, he will definitely not let me have the chance to summon you.”
Marduc laughed, then reached out and held his hand in the air, as if grabbing something in the void. The thing he grabbed condensed into a blood-red stone, which he handed to Amon and said: “This is the blood I shed during the test to become a god back then. Just crush it with magical power at the right time, and I will naturally appear. Remember, when you use your magical power, please call out my name – Bosun!”
Amon took the blood-red stone, slightly stunned, and said, “Bosun?”
Marduc stood up with his chest raised and said: “This is my other name, I have many names on earth, please do not reveal them to anyone.”
Having said that, he turned and stepped into the void, and Amon said: “I will tell you my plan in advance, and then crush this stone at the most appropriate time. But you should provide another kind of assistance, how can I get rid of Sennachi?”
Marduc’s voice came through: “That’s your own problem to deal with by yourself. But I can give you two small hints.” He walked away with aplomb, but left a message imprinted into Amon’s soul, saying two “little things” –
The first was the origin of the Assyrian Queen Naqia, and she was actually related to the monster Merfolk King guided by Tiamat in the battle of the gods of the Anunnaki system. The name of the Merfolk King was Siren, and his whereabouts were unknown after the battle of the gods. Girtablullu and Ugallu did not know where he went, but Marduc and Enlil found him later on.
Merfolk was a type of mutated sea demon in the depths of the ocean, and Celia’s summoned beast Rulio was originally merfolk as well and had managed to activate his spiritual wisdom. Just like Rulio, Siren also came to the continent in a similar way, but he was more fortunate than Rulio, as he was able to receive Tiamat’s guidance and become a powerful divine emissary in the Ennead divine clan.
During the battle of the gods, Siren was badly wounded, and after escaping, he realized that he could not recover from his wounds, so he made a choice – to give up the form of this life and start anew with his spiritual imprint.
When Bastet made her choice, she still wanted to be a cat, but Siren became a human being, born in the northern city of the Assyrian kingdom. As a newborn baby in the human world, he grew up and gradually awakened his spiritual imprint. When one starts to train the power of origin in a new life, one would naturally be much faster than in the previous life, but it does not mean that one could necessarily achieve the same level as before.
There are many experiences, trials, and tribulations as well as the occasional luck which may never come again in the new life, and Siren eventually reached the end of his life again. He may have overlooked one thing, that a human’s life was much shorter than a sea demon’s life. His experiences and verifications on his previous path of training might not have been suitable for this shorter lifespan of a hundred years. Before he could come to pass the test of endless arising and ceasing cycle, his life had come to an end. And that was when Enlil found out his whereabouts.
When the end of his life came, Siren made a decision. He would not take on the new life with the spiritual imprint of his former lives but leave completely. He dispersed all his power including his memories after the new birth, only to do one thing before his death, and that was to leave a certain imprint in the souls of his direct descendants and pass it on from generation to generation until someone could awaken it one day.
Siren disappeared, but he left his descendants, who had formed a clan in northern Assyria, with the spiritual imprint containing the guide to the power of origin, passing down from generation to generation. Until now, the last one was Naqia. Naqia was now a ninth-level supreme warrior, but Amon sensed that she knew magic arts. Although she did not directly use supreme magic arts, she used her power very skilfully, very much like a battle-oriented divine emissary.
Naqia should have awakened that imprint in her soul and received the guidance of the power left by Siren, and this imprint disappeared from then on. Shortly after the death of her former husband, the imperial general, Sennachi wanted to marry her. She could either marry the king or see her people wiped out – that was the choice Sennachi gave her, and Enlil told Sennachi of Naqia’s origins in the oracle.
Naqia was forced to agree to marry Sennachi with a pact: she must not harm the king, and the king must not harm her people.
This was the story of Naqia’s origin and her marriage to the king. Marduc told Amon another little secret, about Faust.
Faust, the Assyrian Sage Advisor, was revered by the nation. He was a lover of knowledge but not of women, and lived an ascetic life. But from the moment he met Naqia onwards, his soul never had a moment of peace, because he fell in love with Naqia. In addition to knowledge, the sage also aspired to love, but this wish was almost impossible to achieve.
When Amon came back to his senses with the blood-red stone in his hand, the sun had already risen over the valley, and before he knew it the time was noon. Golier and Faust had ended their conversation, and Faust stood up and bowed to Golier, before walking down the hill.
Although Amon had been discussing things with Marduc, he also had a clear idea of what was going on in the talks over there. Golier did not tell Faust to do anything but only talked about Faust’s wishes and what Sennachi had done, pointing out the past, present, and future of the Assyrian Empire and suggesting a possibility of an alternative. Only a change of king and a change in its state policy could end this disaster.
To put it bluntly, a palace coup was to be staged so that Sennachi the Great would die at the peak of his life’s achievements. But the new king on the throne had to be supported by all the forces in the country and be able to control the priests, the bureaucrats, and the military groups. This person had to have sufficient authority, as well as the desire to change the policies of the state.
Faust did not agree or disagree with what Golier said, but silently excused himself and left. Naqia had also heard all these words, but she remained expressionless without saying a word. When Faust walked down the hill past her, she also turned and walked down the hill together. Golier held his winecup and watched the backs of these two disappear among the pale peaks.
Faust walked silently on his way back to Enlil City, his heart suffering from the torment that every word that Golier said was right, and also what his desires pointed to. He did not express any disagreement or objection during the meeting, and this was an indication of his attitude, the desires that had already sprouted in his heart.
Naqia walked right behind him, and for Faust to let a ninth-level warrior come so close to him, if Naqia wanted to prevent a possible future coup, it was easy to kill him now. But the queen did not do it, and when they exited the mountains to the plains, Faust suddenly heard Naqia’s voice: “No matter what you want to do, I will not hurt Sennachi.”
Faust did not turn around and asked in return: “Do you still believe in that god? My faith has drifted away from him.”
Naqia replied: “My oath has nothing to do with the gods.”
Faust sighed. “My queen, you can kill me. I would rather die at your hands to end this suffering.” Naqia replied with silence instead, she did not make a move.
The two crossed a stream in the wilderness and walked into a lush wood when Faust suddenly heard an ethereal voice: “Wise man of the earth, why do you suffer so much? The knowledge you seek changes kings not as you would like to see them, while the love you seek is near you but you cannot ask for it. O sick one, you do not know where your wounds lie! Why do you still witness that disappointed self in patience? Tell yourself what you want, free your soul, and accept the guidance of that joy.”
Faust was taken aback, for the voice was imprinted directly into his soul from a great distance and could not be heard by Naqia behind him. With Faust’s means, he could not detect the source of the voice, indicating that this person’s magic skills were more advanced than him, and that meant that this person was most likely a god. Years of training had made him very calm, and he did not show any abnormalities on the surface. As he walked, he asked in his soul: “Who are you, and what kind of god are you?”
Then a scene appeared before Faust’s eyes, floating directly in his soul world of meditation. A god standing in the clouds clad in a sky full of haze, smiling, replied: “You can call me Satan, or call me Mephistopheles, according to the Assyrian language. I am the antagonist and the one who will help you to fight against that disappointing fate.”
This was the alter ego of God Amon, which was completely different from his usual appearance, created by artists and derived from the frescoes and carvings of the Ejyptian Empire. The Ejyptian Empire had declared that the name of the “blasphemous demon” was Satan, who tempted people to fight against the will of the gods, which, if written in the hieroglyphs of Anunnaki, was Mephistopheles.
Pharaoh Merneptah did not declare this person to be Amon, but the craftsmen and artists had created this image and depicted it in the frescoes of the shrine and even in the carvings of the tombs, often with the theme of people escaping from the temptation of Satan, looking up to the light of the gods, or the victory of the gods over Satan.
The artists of Ejypt gave Satan a double image in their works: a perfectly handsome face, but with a black mist behind it, which contained a shadow with a long, hideous horn and a tail with a sharp fork.
Amon had just learned by accident that Marduc had another name, Bosun, and it reminded him that he also had another name, Allaha, as well as the title of Satan. No one knew that Satan was Amon, but this image was brought to life from the imagination of countless people.
When Amon moved his mind, he took on this form and appeared in Faust’s soul, not without reason, but because his identity matched exactly what he wanted to do.
Faust instinctively chided in his soul: “Mephistopheles, do not shake my faith!”
Amon laughed: “If that is your faith, I cannot shake it. A man’s faith is the master of his own heart, and I am only asking you to look within. Please release your desire and tell yourself how to achieve it.” Along with the words, there was a message naturally imprinted into the depths of Faust’s soul, revealing exactly the hidden secret inside the supreme mage’s heart.
Amon knew Faust’s desire: he wanted not knowledge itself, but the fruit of wisdom; he wanted not abstract love, but Naqia herself; he wanted not the power of magic, but the ability to transcend the sufferings of life. This message was like a fiery brand placed onto the soul, and Faust shuddered involuntarily.
Behind him, Naqia asked: “Sage Advisor, what is wrong with you?”
Faust hurriedly replied: “Nothing, I just feel the pain, the pain of choice.”
Amon said again in his soul: “Faust! If you make a choice and let me assist you in granting your wish, we can make a pact.”
Faust asked in an almost groaning tone: “What pact?”
Amon hadn’t thought of making any exchange with Faust, but at this moment he felt that this might be an alternative way of testing the mortal soul, so he slowly replied: “Your wish is the master of your heart, and the power I guide is its servant. On the day when it is fulfilled, offer your soul.”
Faust asked in return: “But how can you take it? That’s impossible!”
Amon laughed. “The gods have their own means, and when the servant becomes master, you will understand! If you agree, I can tell you an answer right now, and that is the knowledge of the power of origin required to become a true god. In fact, Queen Naqia, who is beside you right now, knows this secret as well. The answer you are struggling to find in the ocean of knowledge has long existed in a place you cannot see.”
Faust asked again: “You seem to be able to see into the souls of people, so please tell me, does Naqia love me?”
Amon laughed again. “Your desire is the master of faith, my guiding force is only its servant, so you should ask yourself if Naqia will love you? If Sennachi is still there, you will never get her. Golier has already told you what to do, and isn’t that exactly what you want?”
Naqia was walking when she suddenly saw Faust turn to her and say: “My queen, if His Majesty is to marry Princess Sissila as another queen, he must also have me, the chief high priest of the empire, perform the ceremony and clearly point out your transgressions.”
Naqia replied expressionlessly: “With Sennachi’s madness, he is perfectly capable of having two queens and ordering changes to the imperial decree. But that ceremony does require your presidency, and you should be receiving orders to rush there very soon.”
Faust: “I ask of you to come along with me, this is both a request and an order! Although I have never exercised this power, as Chief High Priest of the Empire, I have the right to request that His Majesty have another queen present when he enthrones her, whether His Majesty intends to depose you or not.”
The most significant recent event in the Kingdom of Bablon was the marriage of Princess Sissila. The marriage of one princess to another king was often a sign of an alliance between the two countries, a very common political marriage. For example, the former Pharaoh Ramesses II of Ejypt once married the daughter of the former King Luciel of Hittite, when the two countries concluded a peace treaty after a great war.
But today’s situation was clear. Princess Sissila was marrying Sennachi after the Kingdom of Bablon had submitted to the Assyrian Empire, this meant that both countries recognized this fact in the alliance. But in any case, the heavily wounded Kingdom of Bablon needed a chance to breathe, and many hoped that the beautiful and wise Princess Sissila could bring peace and a chance at a comeback to the kingdom.
Although the kingdom had just lost the war, the dowry of Princess Sissila was still rich and luxurious, with dozens of luxurious carriages filled with gifts. The venue for the wedding of the princess was the city of Ris in the former Kingdom of Bablon, which was now the territory of Assyria. Ris was a rich city and was the last of the six cities that fell to Assyria.
At that time, the Assyrian Empire’s new policies were introduced under Faust’s advice, so the city was less damaged and largely retained its former prosperity. After Sennachi captured the city of Ris, he scattered all the native inhabitants and brought in a large number of people from other occupied areas, giving them land to settle in, so as to serve the kingdom and pay taxes.
The city of Ris was located on the eastern bank of the Ris River, which flowed downstream with the Euphrates River, forming a vast plain on which the city of Bablon was located, the birthplace of an ancient civilization. After Sennachi captured the city of Ris, his military expansion had reached its limit. The Assyrian army had to manage the vast area of occupation, and production in the destroyed areas had not yet been restored, so the great emperor rested his sword.
Sennachi liked the climate and the beautiful environment of Ris, which was much more comfortable than the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. The Ris river flowed sparklingly, and to the northwest of the city were beautiful mountains and grasslands, rich in vegetation and water. They were also inhabited by many wild animals, making it a natural hunting ground, which was now set aside as a royal hunting ground for Sennachi the Great.