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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4. The Duel

Kishar tried to keep the sword steady in his trembling hands. After a brief pause, a dozen soldiers fell on him and disarmed him.

“I challenge the king!” he screamed again, through the struggle.

The carriage door opened with a soft click, and immediately all soldiers fell to their knees, their heads lowered. Even the ones restraining Kishar released him in haste and followed suit.

The person who stepped out of the carriage was huge, bigger than any man I had ever seen. His face was covered with a bushy beard and his long hair and bare chest gave him the appearance of a caveman. Could this be Gilgamesh? He was completely different from my mental image!

Another followed him, instantly clearing my doubts. The reflection from his jewelry momentarily blinded anyone who dared to look at him directly. Even his white kilt was embroidered with gold, matching the hair that hung over his bare shoulders. He was pale and slender, but the grace with which he carried himself radiated strength and command. His face held no discernible expression as he fixed his gaze on Kishar.

“Kneel,” Gilgamesh commanded.

But Kishar, stubborn as he was, raised his sword once more. Gilgamesh waited for a moment and gave a sigh of resignation.

“Bring me my sword, Enkidu.”

The wild man disappeared into the carriage once again and retrieved a crimson blade. So this was Ea, I thought, the legendary weapon that had slain a thousand kings. What chance did a blacksmith’s boy have against such an opponent with such a sword? My heart broke as I struggled not to predict the outcome.

The duel began without another word. Kishar attacked with all the ferocity he could muster. But Gilgamesh sidestepped and dodged all his blows with ease, while occasionally giving Kishar a lick of Ea’s blade, opening up gashes on his tanned skin. It was evident to all that Gilgamesh could hack Kishar into two whenever he wished, but he didn’t. Instead, he let him bleed slowly. Before long, Kishar’s feet began to buckle. His cheap sword shattered with the final blow and he fell to the floor, unconscious and drained. He hadn’t even landed a single blow.

The one-sidedness of the duel took no one by surprise. No one applauded, nor did Gilgamesh’s stony face show any sign of pleasure. There was only an unbearable silence, as the king raised his blade to deliver a final blow.

I ran forward and fell at his feet, unable to watch any longer.

“Have mercy, my Lord!” I begged. “Let him live!”

Gilgamesh lowered his sword and pulled me up. He placed a tender finger under my chin and raised my face, as a lover would. But in those pupils, mere inches away from mine, I discovered nothing but cold indifference.

“Not even the fiercest warrior of Uruk would dare to challenge me. The boy’s bravery is commendable,” he said. “But only a thief eyes that which does not belong to him.”

He drove Ea through Kishar’s defenseless chest in one swift movement. There was a twitch as the soul left the body, taking with it whatever emotions I possessed.

“Come,” he continued, gesturing me towards the carriage.

Two soldiers dragged away the corpse to clear the path. As the wheels carried me through the palace gates, I embracing my Lord as a good mistress should, carefully studying the contours of his spotless neck. Some distance away, a pack of hungry dogs fought over a loaf of abandoned bread.

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