In the Ruins of Ash

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In the Ruins of Ash

Post by Seleukos of Olympia on 2012-09-04, 12:26

The archaeologists had been working for weeks under the scorching sun, patiently digging, with the greatest of cares, in a grid over a segment of what was believed to be the ruins of the ancient city of Ash. A couple of students were practicing their field work at the burned clay foundation of what was, at first sight, assumed to be a bakery or some such shop on a by-street near the palace district. Shovels had given way to toothbrushes as the, by now rather bored, students took care to wipe the sand off every piece of clay in their charge. As Susan was dusting a corner, the façade cracked and, to her horror, came crashing down at her feet. With the dust from the crumbling clay still in the air, she shouted

‘Simon! Get here!’

From the other side of the ruined room, Simon walked over carefully, secretly grateful that it was Susan who had messed up and not him, and secretly resenting himself for thinking such thoughts. His attitude shifted when he saw Susan examining the hole left by the falling clay, and he sat besides her staring into her discovery. It was a cuneiform tablet, its lower part badly damaged but its upper part perfectly legible.

‘What is this? I think I can read some of it…’, he said.

‘I recognize some characters. There’s “Urlash” and here you can see “Hagromish”. Simon, this is big. This could be one of the precursor texts to what later became known as the Epic of Hagramesh!’

The two students agreed that they should report this to the head archeologist at once. But they didn’t. Instead they sat there and started reading, each of the two filling in the gaps in the other’s translation as far as they could make out what was written. Here’s what was on the tablet.

A Chronicle of the Final Days of Urlash

IN the 11th day before the final day:
The people of Urlash were disturbed by strange signs and portents, such as birds flying backwards and the channel waters turning a strange not-quite-violet colour, which no one could quite agree on. And it was on that day that barbarians from far Germania descended from the mountains onto a village, and they did cause much mischief and murder until they were apprehended by cunning.

IN the 10th day before the final day:
King Hagromish the Great showed pity on the barbarians, brought in chains before him. And in his royal kindness he clothed and fed them and showed them all the comforts of urban life. And he did especially befriend the strongest one among them, Grof Ninetoe, with whom he wrestled and found him his equal. The hero-king, beloved of Tamlabanda, did then set out on a Quest with Grof and with Ahirom ben Ahirom to the Cedar Forest; where Grof was thought to be slain by the demons, which left King Hagromish inconsolable. The gods then directed Hagromish to a higher quest, but wickedness then set foot in Urlash as the barbarians took the castle by surprise, slaying many brave defenders. Ahirom ben Ahirom and the esteemed Lord Sauglish almost restored order to the city when a strange omen, a cow undead walking to the steps of the Great Ziggurat of Kai-Nev, predicted high-walled Urlash’s destruction. There were great wails then and great hurry to flee the doomed city. And many were those trampled underneath the fleeing people.

IN the 9th day before the final day:
The hosts of Esem and Bakuur marched on Urlash, whose walls and strong gates they took unopposed. But Grof Ninetoe, wrongly thought to be dead, and aided by his young apprentice Sigr, met both hosts in battle and did defeat the champions sent against them. Esem and Bakuur then pulled back their men to pay homage to the gods on their high ziggurats, out of respect at the Germanic champions’ prowess. The Germanics similarly pulled back to the Palace, where the mage Hrolki kept his counsel.

IN the 8th day before the final day:
The hosts of Esem and Bakuur did march across the streets and clashed with each other, inflicting great wounds and death. But then Lord Sauglish returned to Urlash and united the hosts, which he did command to scour the country for refugees and to attack the Palace in unity. And it was then that Grof Ninetoe, in his rage at Hrolki, had left the Germanics to go sulk in his room, and the Germanics did suffer much from the assault on the Palace. But they held the gates with blades and magicks until the sun set and the day was ended.

IN the 7th day [before] the [final day]:
[…] [Hagro]mish did return and battle […] Hrolki’s third sight revealed […] giant lob[ster](?) […] the walls of Urlash did shudder from […] and they feasted on iced cream […]

The text became completely illegible from that point onwards.

‘Wow’, was all Simon could say when they were done.

‘Yeah’, Susan added. ‘Definitely a precursor text to the Epic of Hagramesh. The friendship between him and Grof is already established, although Hagramesh’s quest to save Grof from the underworld and Grof’s resurrection is rather… underwhelming in this version.’

‘And is seems like Grof and Hrolki are in league. The great trickster-deamon adversary of Hargamesh seems a lot more… human in this version.’

‘He still has magic powers’, Susan added.

‘True, the kernel of what his character would become is there. And Sigr appears to be male, rather than the warrior-maiden of later lore.’

‘Yeah, I wonder how that came about.’

‘Maybe there are more tablets like this, just waiting to be unearthed.’

Susan reflexively panned her eyes around the sand-covered, sun-scorched wilderness, a whole civilization buried under the sands of millennia. What other secrets could there still be down there? And what other stories might have been lost forever, without even a cracked tablet for a reference?

‘Yeah’, she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. ‘Maybe’.

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Re: In the Ruins of Ash

Post by Volksie on 2012-10-11, 02:22

This saddens me.
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Re: In the Ruins of Ash

Post by Cogre on 2012-10-15, 12:08

i am presently re-reading (4th time) the illuminatus triolgy, by robert anton wilson. this kinda feels like it.

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