The Thief

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  • Published: 31 May 2015
  • Updated: 31 May 2015
  • Status: Complete
The story of a girl living in ancient Mesopotamia under the rule of the legendary Gilgamesh.

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3. Fate

Gishkim lined us up by the palace boulevard. All the girls were dressed in extravagant clothes that they did not own. Most of them shifted nervously on their toes. Some looked happy, but most, like me, were full of worry.

The king would pass by in his carriage and he would choose the one that is most pleasant to his eyes. Amma stood at some distance, among a large group of onlookers, her lips moving in prayer. Everyone could’ve heard the thumping in my chest if it weren’t for the noise  of the impatient crowd.

The palace gates opened with a loud screech as soon as the bells announced midday. The royal carriage was led by two magnificent white horses and few soldiers marching behind it as escorts. It rolled by slowly with red curtains drawn over its windows. The king observed us through the thin fabric, and even though I couldn’t see him, I felt fully conscious of his gaze.

Lord Gilgamesh rarely presented himself in front of the people, in fact, I knew him only by description. People called him the golden king — for he had golden hair and was quite fond of gold and treasures. He had spent most of his life conquering and looting kingdoms to accumulate the largest treasury in the history of mankind. I imagined him now, measuring us critically, about to change one of our lives forever with a mere command.

The carriage turned around as it reached the end of the line and began retracing its path. It made three such painfully long passes while we held our breath in crippling anticipation. Finally, it came to a halt — a little distance away from me! A soldier walked up to the windows and having heard the king’s voice, signaled me to step forward.

My world came crashing down.

“The mistress has been chosen!” I heard him shout through the ringing in my ears. The crowd responded with a half-hearted applause.

The reality of my fate hit me full on for the first time. Until then, I hadn’t really believed that I would be picked. There were over fifty girls after all — what were the chances? Everything began to swim in my vision as tears filled my eyes. I considered running, but it was, of course, pointless.

In my distress, I didn’t see a figure silently emerging from the crowd and taking a stand in the middle of the street, nor did I hear the several gasps as he drew his sword. But the words that followed silenced the world and hastily pulled me out of the recesses of my mind.

“I challenge the king to a duel.”

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