Authors: Brian Godawa
Gilgamesh and Enkidu arrived with their entourage of warriors at an entrance to the Great Cedar Forest.
An impenetrable wall of timber towered over them with an opening that seemed like a gateway into a haunted world. They could hear strange and unfamiliar sounds from within that sent chills through their skins. A pathway disappeared into the murky foliage, apparently well-worn by the Guardian who patrolled its vast expanse. The peak of Mount Hermon rose out of the earth and was visible above the tree line, just leagues into the forest. It was the abode of the gods. The very cosmic mountain where the pantheon came down from heaven and congregated in assembly for deliberation. They were weary from their journey and made camp on the perimeter. They would rest the night and prepare to engage the giant within.
Gilgamesh offered a sacrifice of two kid goats to the sun god Shamash. Enkidu knew it was important to Gilgamesh, so he encouraged him to do so, though Enkidu himself did not think much of it all. Gilgamesh implored
Shamash for protection and help to enter the mountain land to fell great cedars and slay the giant Rapha, Humbaba the Terrible. Unfortunately, oracles were not forthcoming.
The seven warriors from one mother were tireless in their endurance. They practice
d their art of war every day, even after long grueling marches. The eldest with hands like the paws of a lion would scratch bark off trees; The firespitter would help start their campfires; the serpent-tongued one would gauge the weather and check for nearby intruders with the lick of his tongue; the one with powerful hands would crunch trees into manageable firewood; the one who could call down lightning avoided practicing his art for obvious reasons; and the one with the serpent sword Rahab would practice his technique by slicing through trees with his whip-like sword of flexible metal. He had even showed the curious Enkidu how the weapon worked and told him the story of how it was forged on the mountain of Eden by angels and passed down from their forefather Lamech through the line of Noah and eventually got into his hands.
After dinner, Gilgamesh and Enkidu sat before their campfire, separated from the other men. Enkidu sharpened his axe blade on a whetstone as Gilgamesh stared into the open flames, playing with the mutton on its bone.
“My lord is contemplating the mysteries of the cosmos?” asked Enkidu.
Gilgamesh kept staring into oblivion, “So I enter this mountain land, and I defeat the giant
Humbaba. What then?”
“We return to Uruk, and I make love to my lioness, Shamhat, and eat food again that
does not taste like this leather,” said Enkidu. With that, he lifted his leg and let loose a loud rip-roaring fart.
Someone barked out, “Keep it down, gas bag,
you will trumpet our location to the giant!” The other men laughed.
But Gilgamesh was not laughing. His face was scrunched with an angry look. He stood up. Enkidu thought he may have pushed Gilgamesh’s respect.
But then Gilgamesh crouched and let loose a long blast of gas that sounded like the trumpet the others had joked about.
He had clearly one-uppe
d Enkidu, who gave him a surprised look to challenge his etiquette.
“You think a god king does not fart?” said Gilgamesh.
The other men were chuckling.
smiled and pronounced, “Enkidu, when outside the court and in the company of men facing sure death, you may consider yourself entirely free to violate the laws of etiquette against passing gas.”
“Thank you, your majesty,” said Enkidu, and grunted out another
blast of rumbling gas. It was not as loud or as long as Gilgamesh’s.
Enkidu concluded with a faux bow to Gilgamesh, “But
I do yield. You remain the king of flatulence.”
Gilgamesh pinched his nose in disgust and quipped, “
You give me a run for my money as the prince of stench.”
The men broke out in laughter again.
But as they settled back down into their own interests, Gilgamesh returned to his serious posture and probed Enkidu. “You are a man of the earth and of nature. Do you ever concern yourself with higher things like the meaning of life?”
Enkidu thought for a moment and said, “If you refer to gods and dreams and spiritual knowledge, then
‘meaning’ is something that evades my sensibilities. The only ‘meaning’ I know is the hunger in my belly, the desire in my loins, the sight, sound, and smells of wherever I am at this very moment, right here and right now. My brother at my side, my wife waiting at home. Beyond that, I know no meaning.”
But Enkidu was not being completely honest. He was not telling Gilgamesh everything. For he did have experiences in the wild that
made him wonder about his creator. But now was not the time to speak of such things.
Enkidu picked up a leg of mutton and took a bite. It was terrible and old tasting. He spit it out with
a gag of distaste and threw the bone in the fire.
Gilgamesh laughed. “Yes. We will eat, drink, and be merry. And then we will die
, like every other man.” But then he turned morose. “I have seen rivers plugged with corpses. I have looked upon battlefields drenched in blood and piled high with the carnage of human bodies. So too it will happen to you and me.”
“Hopefully later than sooner,” offered Enkidu.
But Gilgamesh was not listening. “No matter how tall a man is, he cannot reach heaven. And no matter how enduring, he cannot traverse Sheol.”
Enkidu said, “And no matter how philosophical, he cannot conquer a
giant of the Rephaim with words of profundity.”
Gilgamesh brightened. “Enkidu, you are my only truest friend. Together, we will enter this mountain land,
slay a giant, and I will engrave my name in this Great Cedar Forest. We will return to Uruk with mighty cedar wood to dress my glorious palace.”
Humbaba will kill us and feed on our corpses,” added Enkidu.
Gilgamesh smiled, “Strengthen your trembling arms, Enkidu. You speak like a spineless weakling. Where is your ‘Ho, hurrah,’ annoying though it may be? I will gladly run with you into the face of death and go out in flames of glory. I will be honored to have you by my side in the valley of Sheol.”
Enkidu was not so glorious minded. “I would prefer, my lord, to make it out of this alive, if you do not mind.”
“Enkidu, we two can do together what one cannot,” said Gilgamesh. “Together we vanquished three legendary lions.”
“Yours was bigger than mine,” said Enkidu.
“But yours was the fiercest,” said Gilgamesh.
“I used the skill of a javelin, dagger, and axe. With what did you vanquish your lioness?”
Enkidu averted his eyes
shyly, “My bare hands.”
Gilgamesh grinned wide. “
That is nothing to be ashamed of, Enkidu. You have earned your name.” Then he thought better. “Just do not boast about it around the palace.”
Enkidu smiled humbly.
Gilgamesh said, “We had better get moving. But do not forget your axe. I suspect even the mighty Enkidu’s bare hands will not be enough this time.” And he winked at Enkidu with a genuine humor that only a true friend could give when bettered.
The warriors picked up camp and journeyed into the forest in the direction of Hermon, home of the gods.
Azazel found his way toward the palace. He saw that the entire city of Uruk had been rebuilt upon the ruins of the Flood. It was quite glorious. And the walls were an impressive innovation. He did not know just how long he had been trapped in his living tomb, but it must have been generations. Needless to say, mankind had done rather well in picking up the pieces and starting over. Or at least, this city had done rather well.
I must meet this king
who has achieved such glory,
And I must find out what has happened to the other gods
Azazel’s first stop on the way to the palace was
the new temple of Inanna. It was bigger. Everything was bigger in the city. Signs of grandiosity abounded. And it was a different layout. But it was easy enough to recognize the copulation chambers, and servant and priestly antechambers after passing through the garden-like courtyard where the hierodules plied their trade with patrons.
Indeed, I must meet this king,
Azazel thought again.
He has taste, a sense of spectacle and self-aggrandizement that suits me.
Temple servants scattered in fear, as Azazel made his way to the High Priestess’ chambers. He was after all, eight feet tall, shining,
naked, and covered in blood. Not a friendly sight for the citizenry. He had decided to maintain his identity as the goddess Inanna because he had worked hard on that persona and had come to enjoy the theatrical spectacle that it allowed him to release. Though he was going to make one significant change that he would announce upon his arrival to the palace court. But first, he needed some garments.
burst into the chambers of the High Priestess. She was engaged in certain erotic group activities with several highly placed assembly members. They had not consummated their shenanigans. They were only beginning.
Too bad for these pathetic saps
, thought Azazel.
Unable to complete their last spasm of pleasure.
Azazel slaughtered the men in several swipes like flinging small puppies against a brick wall. The Priestess screamed. Azazel put his finger to his lips to shush her. He backed the Priestess up against the wall. Her eyes were wide with fear, her vocal chords paralyzed by the immense creature towering over her.
Azazel paused with a smile, victim’s blood dripping down his face. “Why do you look so surprised, priestess? I
the goddess of war that you worship. You never expected to see me in the flesh?” He enjoyed such moments of irony and fear in his subjects.
She could only shake her head with short jerky movements. Azazel actually looked hermaphroditic. He had male genitals, but female breasts that he had created by
cutting into his chest cavity and artificially inserting bags of saw dust under his pectoral muscles. His long tangled hair had not stopped growing all those decades trapped in the earth. He would have to do something with it.
“I thank you for your devotion on my behalf,” said Azazel. “And now, I must ask you for one more act of sacrifice.”
Azazel gently grabbed her head and broke her neck. She dropped into his arms, dead. He needed a clean kill because he wanted to use some of her clothes for himself. She had a fabulous gem laden necklace and earrings to kill for.
It was necessary for him to eliminate the High Priestess because he would have to start all over with a new and loyal retinue of servants. There was something dangerous about keeping old leadership
with a regime change, no matter how flexible their loyalties. It was always just better to kill them all and start over with fresh blood.
He found some additional garments in her wardrobe that he put together to create a flamboyant outfit. Though he liked to alternate with androgynous body wear, he thought he would stress the female identity to start with so there was no question as to the gender of this long lost goddess. And he wanted it to create a splash, a memorable introduction, not easily forgotten. Perilously high heels, brightly colored loud hairdo sprinkled with sparkling
gem shavings, a very tight see-through tunic, accented with billowy cuffs, and a satin robe that flowed behind her carried by two hand-picked half-naked male cult prostitutes.
Inanna was back.
Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the fifty warriors made their way into the forest a
couple of leagues toward Mount Hermon. They stopped by a river flowing through the forest and filled their water skins. They had followed the beaten trail created by the guardian giant with the intent of crossing his path. However, the forest was so thick and so vast, they knew they were not likely to find Humbaba’s residence. So they would have to help Humbaba find them.
Gilgamesh raised his mighty axe in the air and swung. Its head buried in the bark of a mighty cedar tree with a crunch. They all heard the strangest sound
emanate from the wood. It was not a sound they heard, but a sound they felt, like the screeching pain of a child crying out for its mother. Enkidu swung his axe and hit the same tree. They intended to chop down the very wards of the Forest Guardian until he came to rescue them. The other warriors hacked away together on several other trees, and the sound of heavy chopping drowned out the silent screams that resounded all around them.
something changed. The screams became like a song that lilted in their ears. And the men became tired and sleepy. In threes and fours, they dropped to the forest floor like sleeping dogs, until even Gilgamesh and Enkidu laid down and drifted into unconsciousness. Something had enchanted them with an aura they were not prepared to encounter.
Gilgamesh began to dream. And in his dream he saw again the wild bull of the wilderness whose bellowing snort split the earth beneath his feet
as a cloud of dust obscured the sky. And then a man came before him and gave Gilgamesh a drink of water from his water skin, and somehow Gilgamesh knew that the man was his father, holy Lugalbanda. And the bull suddenly spoke with a roaring voice, “Gilgamesh, awake! So says Shamash. Gilgamesh awake!”
Gilgamesh came to with Enkidu shaking him and yelling, “Gilgamesh, awake!”
Gilgamesh heard the sounds of rumbling in the forest, the sounds of giant feet stampeding their way, getting closer. A massive roar of monstrous rage penetrated the thicket a hundred feet away and wakened the other warriors. Humbaba the Terrible had found them.