5 King Zimrilim
"At last we can get off this slow moving prison barge." Though excited, as it was his first trip down the Ufratu, Abram was bored.
"Get used to it little brother. If you come to work for me, we will be making trips like this regularly. The merchant side of the business demands it." Again, his older brothers were haranguing him.
"You won't often have to make trips like this at all, should you decide to breed livestock, with me," said Nahore.
"Perhaps you should work for father in the village. Someday you may end up running all his business interests there." Haran pitched in, helpfully.
His two older brothers were constantly harping on him about growing up and accepting responsibility. Terah, his father, was one of the wealthiest men in the empire and a distant cousin to the Padishah. He had interests up and down the Ufratu and all the way to Kiriath Arba, the highland stronghold of the Anak'im. Abram had been hearing this same thing for years now, yet he still harbored dreams of one day studying at The School of the Chaldeans, established by his ancestor, Shem, in Ur.
A fanfare of horns rang out across the private pier, interrupting the brothers and their ceaseless pitch. At this time of the year, Zimrilim, a powerful merchant of noble birth and chosen by the Karum (the mercantile council) to rule as King of Mari, did every thing with a garish display. Every year tribute to the Padishah was collected in three locations in the empire. Ecbatana, the empire's summer capitol, sitting upon the Silk Road, gathered the tribute from the eastern provinces. Anshan, the cradle of the Elamite people, was the collection point for the southeastern satrapies. Ur, a huge metropolis on the Gulf of Parsa and first city of mankind, was the collection point of the western provinces.
Mari, situated on the Silk Road and the Ufratu River, had been chosen by the northern kings and merchants as the location they would gather to embark in convoy. A measure taken to safeguard the massive wealth that moved down the river, to Ur, at this time. King Zimrilim, a magnate of no small renown, and ever one to recognize an opportunity, had begun to sponsor a feast for the northern kings and prominent merchants, marking the beginning of the "tally". The Padishah set certain quotas for the northern principalities that must be met.
As all eyes went to the arrival of Zimrilim, as he intended. Abram noticed a disturbance approaching from the public wharf, which was also owned and maintained by his father. A troop of guards had moved to intercept this fast moving party and stood arrayed to block its access to the private pier, weapons drawn. Though they looked far out matched by the nearing group, he saw a unit of Royal Guardsmen moving quickly to reinforce. Terah and his brothers, seemingly oblivious, moved to meet the loudly hallooing Zimrilim. Abram though, kept his eyes trained on the escalating confrontation.
The guardsmen seemed to have stopped a number of Nephil'im, judging by their heights, they must be of the Hor'im or Gibbor'im tribes. The malevolent stare of their saffron robed leader was almost palpable. Taller than his surrounding guard, he was gaunt nearly to the point of emaciation. Abram sensed a searching presence as they drew nigh. Though he felt that this entity probed the group, he somehow "knew" it searched for him. This was a creature to be avoided.
The short, rotund Zimrilim stepped forward, embracing the tall hawkish Terah. "My old friend welcome! You do not come south often enough these days."
As they turned arm in arm, Terah replied, "My son Haran has assumed a lion's share of my interests on the Ufratu as well as the overland routes to Kiriath Arba, since his graduation from The Business Academy established by our esteemed friend, King Megum. Soon we look to expand to Ur itself."
Abram, perking at the mention of Ur, interrupted them. "Did you notice the giant sorcerer scrutinizing us as we passed?"
"Ah Sebu," exclaimed the King. "The new Vizier of Babel, sent, no doubt, to size us up for his brother Nimrod, King of Shin'ar. I have been ignoring him as of yet, awaiting his formal introduction this evening. My court magi suspected him of being an adept, though I am curious as to how you might know this, my observant young man."
Zimrilim looked, however, to Terah.
Terah nodded. "He is a "true" descendant of Shem and all that implies," he answered, cryptically.
Moving on brusquely, the King took the hint. "You will stay at the palace of course. Arrangements have been made for your whole family. I'll have none of your protests! Your khanate is full to over flowing, no doubt. I would have the pleasure of your company and as your time here is short, and I say we make the most of it.
"Besides, Shibtu would skin me alive if I don't bring your boys to the palace immediately, having never met your youngest, she has been planning for this all winter and has surprises for the youngsters."
They quickly moved to the waiting palanquins and were ushered into the city proper by the Royal Guard.