Super busy this week, it’s good, but days feel a little breathless at the moment. I made it ! Here’s this week’s chapter. Hope life is good!
Chapter 83 – A Ghost
Banipal stretched out the ache in his back. After Asklepios’ failure he had returned to his own studies and spent longer than he intended bent over his bench inscribing clay tablets.
He rested his head in his hands and closed his eyes. He was avoiding the obvious question – was Asklepios a fake? Was the man he had pulled from the river, the man now sleeping beside the expensive round table in the other room, making a fool of him?
If so then he was being tricked by a well-educated man. Banipal had already incorporated some of Asklepios’ number secrets into his own work and solved problems he had previously struggled with. No, to doubt Asklepios was to doubt the Gods. Ishkun was right, this was a test of tests. If the Gods so chose they would reveal their purpose when it suited them.
The last time he hunted with Ishkun the lion had taken their final quarry. It was a clear message from Ninurta, Lord of the Hunt, that they had hunted enough. So far there had been no such sign from wise Marduk.
The strangest feeling came over him. Unbidden, he found himself looking towards the door of the room where Asklepios slept.
The feeling grew and grew. He felt oddly separated from the room in which he sat. Somehow he had become distanced from it, yet remained within.
The door drew his eye powerfully. Still seated, Banipal simultaneously felt himself rise up and move forwards. He passed through the door without opening it. Three ghosts stood there.
Charcoal grey and semi-opaque, the apparitions stood braced against a wind Banipal could not feel. For a moment he was frightened, certain they were three of Anu’s terrible demons. Then he saw one was Asklepios. And here was another wonder for Asklepios’ body lay sleeping on the mat. The second ghost was a tall, dark-haired young man. The third had the form of an old woman.
The ghost of Asklepios turned to Banipal and solemnly raised his hand. Without quite knowing why, Banipal did the same, and realised Asklepios was filled with a great joy. He wanted to speak but before he could Asklepios faced the tall ghost and they both vanished.
The ghost of the old woman turned her cold grey gaze on Banipal. Their eyes met and –
Banipal lay at his scribing bench, his face pressed on the desk. One of the fired clay blocks pressed uncomfortably into his cheek.
He stood, filled with a transcendent sense of connection to his vision. This had been no simple dream. As he opened the door into the other room he was certain what he would find. He was right, Asklepios was gone.
To be continued…