14 Sebu’s Blockade
As Sebu silently slid into the Court of the Divine Assembly he observed Nimrod, his brother, standing before the towering gold and alabaster statue of Marduk. Wearing the Armor of Admah, as always, his bronze khopesh slung high under his left arm, his ten foot muscled frame cut an intimidating figure.
Nimrod snarled, without turning. "You've shut the gates on the Ufratu? What are you playing at, my brother?"
Sebu's eyes glowed with avarice. "I have, brother. Today we shall taste the riches we deserve."
Nimrod turned and spoke very slowly, as if to an imbecile. "You "are" aware of the time of year, and the "scope" of traffic on the river? You would risk the notice of the Padishah for a statement of mastery over the Ufratu?"
Sebu began puffing himself indignantly. "Brother, I have seen the wealth that approaches and am aghast at how little we realize each year. Did you know they mock you this year at Poleg Palace? Why Zimrilim's needs for provender, clothing, and lighting for six months minimum, were met by one merchant alone!"
"Yes, yes, so you've said," Nimrod replied angrily. "Have you seen the results of your blockade as of yet? You can't possibly believe you can inspect every vessel that passes south at this time. You risk delaying the delivery of the Padishah's Gifts and raising his ire. My plans require his continued indifference!"
Raising his hands in a conciliatory manner, Sebu wheedled. "In a month, he will be two thousand miles away. Bactria and their Margianan allies consume his attention. Terah am Shem and his arrogant whelps approach anon. This mage I ..."
Nimrod rounded on Sebu , fire flashing in his eyes. "What did you say?!"
A new king, from the House of Shem, shall rise... Ishbi-Erra's words echoed through his head.
The Vizier responded in a condescending tone. "I said, why worry about a distracted Kindatu, when the wealth of his empire travels the river this month."
"No, you said a name, Terah?" Nimrod snapped.
Flinching in confusion, Sebu gabbled. "Yes, a very wealthy merchant from the north. A distant cousin to the Padishah, they say. Terah am Shem and his sons Nahore, Haran, and Abram near and they bear much wealth and affluence. One of Terah's sons, Haran I believe, is a mage of some magnitude. Their goods alone..."
Grabbing the front of Sebu's saffron robes, Nimrod dragged him eye to eye. "You will open the gates on the Ufratu. You will allow traffic southward to return to normal. I don't care what you think to gain from this idiocy. You chance notice when disregard is desired."
He tightened his grip. "You will, however, bring me this Terah and his sons when they arrive, do with their goods as you will. Harm them not though Sebu; I would assess them for myself. Have I made myself clear?" He released his grip on his brother.
Sebu bowed repeatedly as he backed to the door., "I shall open them immediately, is there more you would have of me, my King?"
"Just bring me this Terah and his get. I would have words with the Padishah's cousin..."
Nimrod drew his khopesh, spinning at the ready as the ornate doors of the Esgalia blew inward, off their hinges. A pair of Rapha'im dragged the unconscious form of Sebu between them. An arrogantly strutting Siamun ibn Ham followed. Behind them Nimrod could see three Rapha'im finishing the Gibbor'im who had guarded the doors. The first two contemptuously slung Sebu's insensate body across the marbled floor to the feet of the statue of Marduk.
Without preamble, Siamun cried out indignantly. "You will release my ships and return my goods immediately, or suffer the wrath of the Council! Terah was entirely correct to avoid this nest of vipers!"
A grim smile baring his shark-like rows of teeth, stretched across Nimrod's face. "And hello to you as well, my esteemed cousin. Know you first, that the Council holds no sway here in Shin'ar, and you would do well to remember this. As for you laying hands upon my brother, I shall have to deliver a message of reprimand to the Council personally."
Siamun swelled noticeably with self import. "You pompous ass, the Council whom I represent placed "you" on this throne..."
Nimrod struck like a cobra, the nearest Rapha'im's head was parted from his body. Blood spattering across Siamun's face, cut off his rant as he choked on the viscous fluid. His guards converged on Nimrod from all sides, flashing blades coming from every direction. Nimrod, ducking low, engaged the giant to his right. Catching his descending blow, Nimrod's left hand gripped the guard's wrist and squeezed. Bones crackled as the bronze sappara in his right blurred, slashing the guard's throat.
Even as the giant toppled, Nimrod moved to the next. His wickedly hooked blade snagged the still turning Rapha'im high on his inner thigh. He yanked the giant from his feet with a mighty heave, blood and a piercing wail erupted from the downed giant at the same time. Nimrod placed his back to the wall, flicking the gore from his sickle-bladed sword. He eyed Siamun's remaining guards. Glancing at each other nervously, they nodded attacking as one. Nimrod's parries dazzled with unnatural speed, keeping them at bay.
Throwing caution to the wind, he surged to his right battering the guard's defense aside. A ripping slash burst through the giant's rib cage, throwing him to the ground, gurgling. His disregard bought him a smashing blow from the other guard. The strike to his shoulder was absorbed by his ancient armor with a ghostly flare of runes and a grunt. Even as the sound escaped him, he smiled. He spun thrusting his khopesh up through the belly, bursting the guard's heart.
Siamun backing desperately toward the destroyed entrance of the temple, found his way blocked by a menacing group of Gibbor'im, responding to the clash of sword play. Wiping at his face in horror, he watched Nimrod cut down his remaining guards. Grabbing a silken bag from the altar, Nimrod dumped its contents of gold and jewels on the floor. He proceeded to cut the head from each downed guard, placing them in the sack.
He threw the bloody bag at Siamun's feet. "My message to the Council; I'll not have them interfere in the affairs of my kingdom in the future."
"Now, you will tell me of this Terah you are so enamoured of," he snarled.
Straightening his robe, Siamun attempted to gather his dignity. "You will pay for this Nimrod, the Council will not be slow to act!"
With a growl, Nimrod's sappara flashed, Siamun shrieked, a hand flying to his bloody cheek.
"I'll not ask you again, COUSIN!" Nimrod spat the word like a curse. "You'll tell me all you know of this family!"
Siamun, white now with fear, stammered, "Sh Sh Surely you'd not harm the ch ch chosen representative of the Council of the Nephil'im, they would..."
Nimrod's khopesh flashed again, eliciting another cry from Siamun. He dropped to his knees sobbing, hands on both cheeks.
Sebu groaned and rolled over in time to hear Nimrod thunder. "TERAH..."