3 Marduk Answers
The priest rose from the bloody altar, worry in his eyes. Richly decorated bronze doors, at the end of the room, swung open. A figure glided into the room, moving around the twenty foot statue of Marduk in the center of the sanctuary. His movement fluid and not at all awkward, as his size might indicate. He towered over the holy man, topping him by three feet. His legs resembled gnarled hundred year old tree trunks, his shoulders were wider than a tall man's height.
The Court of the Divine Assembly, the largest room in the Esgalia, was topped by a soaring dome of lapis lazuli. A figure of Marduk, picked out in gold, serenely gazed down from above. The giant’s blonde, medusa like oiled braids, his huge, abnormally long arms and over all bulk seemed to dwarf every thing in the room, though he was only half the height of the gold and alabaster idol behind him,
Ishbi-Erra, the cowering High Priest of Marduk, had once been the most powerful man in Babylon. At one time he had been in charge of the temple tax collectors, warehouses, temple sponsored caravans and hundreds of priests. The wealth of Babylon had once flowed through his hands. Though it was Sin-Muballit, the jaded descendant by marriage of Sargon the Great, who had been appointed, by Padishah Kindatu am Shem (Shah of Shahs), as his factor in Babylon.
The Satrap however, had shown no active interest in the politics of rule, the reins of power, nor even in the functions of the city. Rather, the foppish concerns of this prominent former merchant lay more in banquets and state sponsored parties. This had all ended with the arrival of Nimrod and the Rapha'im. Rapha, his son Og, and five thousand Rapha'im had suddenly appeared from the sands of the Arabian Desert, marching from the west into the city uncontested.
Their unforeseen entrance had not allowed the inattentive city guard to remove the wooden platforms from the great stone piers spanning the Ufratu River. This had enabled the Rapha'im to march right to the gates of the Esgalia itself. Simultaneously Nimrod and his Gibbor'im had sailed into Babylon through the north gate on the Ufratu and disembarked with little or no resistance at the Royal Docks outside the palace. Thus, the city faced with the invasion of nearly six thousand hulking and unassailable warriors, none had noticed the tiny reed boat floating down river. Sin-Muballit, in saving his wife and only child, had committed a silent and most cowardly abdication. He had eventually carried his family and word of this event to his liege, Kindatu, begging sanctuary and mercy for his family. He knew full well, however, the penalty to himself for his actions.
Nimrod and his mongrelized tribe of giants, the Gibbor'im, quietly and bloodlessly assumed control of the reins of power, as had been decided by the Council of the Nephil'im in Ashteroth Karnaim. Representatives of all save one of the tribes, the Anak'im abstaining, had come to the conclusion that now was the time for action. With the Padishah being preoccupied, whilst consolidating his power in the east, and a weakling on the throne of Babylon, the Council had placed their most expendable tribe in this new territory. They had been most encouraged by Kindatu's lack of response, though they had continued paying the Padishah's tribute right on schedule.
Ishbi-Erra had lost his whole power base in that one cowardly act by the former Satrap. He had been relegated to nothing more than the King's personal diviner. Though he enjoyed continued control over all religious functions, all financial activities of the temple had been removed from his purview.
"What word from Marduk?" The booming voice rang out, so loud and profane in this place.
"Most exalted, I have not yet had sufficient time to finish..." Ishbi-Erra squeaked, as he prostrated himself before the immense figure.
"Do not presume to utter another lie to me again!" Nimrod’s deep voice boomed through out the temple. "Think you to deceive me? This is your third ewe, and mind you well should you decide to lie to me again, you will join it upon that altar. "
He snarled, " I am both Nephil'im, as well as a descendant of the Royal Family of Noe, and your petty little god will answer me!"
It became clear to him, in his one truly prescient moment in his thirty years as High Priest. He came to the realization that the only two options presented to him led to the same destination. In that grim moment of reality, he spoke.
"The portents are grave, your Excellency. The House of Noe, though still in ascendancy, is in turmoil. The son's of Shem shall once again strike a successful blow against the son's of Ham. A new king, from the line of Shem, shall rise to new and greater heights. The signs also hint that an older empire or people shall fall, but that last would of course need signs of reinforcement."
"Signs of reinforcement, of course." Nimrod mimicked the cowering High Priest.
Suddenly one of his enormous six fingered hands shot out, crushing the throat of the Ishbi-Erra. Carelessly he tossed the still twitching corpse onto the altar with the ewe.
Emerging on to the steps of the Esgalia, the clear afternoon sky was ripped asunder by a vivid blue streak, brighter than the sun. He had exited the temple expecting to bask in the adulation of the assembled throng. As he looked up, the sky split open, revealing not the reaches of Heaven, but spilling forth fire and brimstone from Hell. Shocked, their cries of adoration turned into screams of fear and pain.
A mountain high tongue of flame punched its way skyward, north of the city. The surrounding ground, the Valley of Babel, was sucked into the column, turning it black. The pillar rose, shot through with purple jags of lightning, towering forty miles into the sky. A wave of heat ripped through the compound, scattering the crowd like pieces from an upended chess board, followed by a thunderous concussion. Buildings collapsed and uncontrollable fires broke out across the city. Seedah Bedar, a day intended to end Akitu (The New Year) on a relaxing note, had been shattered.
Families all over his kingdom, spending a day of picnicking and playing games, would have borne witness to this cataclysm. Its message was unmistakable. Left the only one standing in the compound, Nimrod looked to the roiling ominous clouds. Marduk had spoken, he knew his future held little promise.
An evil black rain began to pour.