Authors: Glenn van Dyke,Renee van Dyke
First Read Book 1
Copyright © 2015
Glenn Van Dyke
and Renee Van Dyke
Café House Editing
All Rights reserved.
Cover image copyright
© 2015 U.S. Copyrights Office
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, places, events and incidents are either the products of the authors’ imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or actual events is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.
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AND COMING IN
Their story continues…
Now comes the answer
to the eagerly anticipated
from 2287 A.D.
Four Days Earlier
Steven’s chest clenched as he took his first step inside Enlil’s throne room—the stench of death permeating the air. A grimace traveled across his face as he imagined the horrors that lay ahead.
The large fire pit, that had once cast moving depictions of glorious Anunnaki battles upon the walls, had gone cold from neglect—drowning the room in darkness.
Removing an unlit torch from the entryway, Steven dipped it into the vat of oil that sat atop a short pedestal beneath it. Lighting it with his blaster, he headed for the hidden tunnel entrance that led to the underground maze. Steeling himself against the nauseating fumes emanating from the rotting and diseased bodies below, he stood before the open tunnel doorway and took a deep breath to embolden his resolve. Stepping inside, his heart twisted in his chest as he recalled the unspeakable tortures that had occurred here.
Forcing his thoughts away from the horrors, he focused upon retrieving the Sword of Truth and his desire to return it to its rightful owners. In the darkness, with only the torch and his memory to guide him, the maze felt larger than he remembered it. A gust of chill wind whistling through the tunnels stirred the flame of the torch, making the cast image of his shadow on the wall sway indecisively, as though it were a separate living thing. He had insisted on going into the caverns alone, wanting to spare his friends from memories that would forever haunt them.
Steven shivered. He tried to recall if it had been this cold last time, but he couldn’t remember. At that time, his attention had been focused upon only one thing—finding his son.
Rats with glowing eyes, mutated survivors of the radiation from the Anunnaki war between Enlil and Enki from thousands of years before—squealed in protest to the torch’s flickering light. Most scurried away, choosing to watch him from the shadows, only their beady red eyes visible. A few of the bolder rats were running along the cold stone floor behind him, keeping pace. They walked when he walked, stopped when he stopped, hopeful that he might be their next meal. Whirling, Steven shouted and thrust the torch in their direction. Squealing in fear, they turned and retreated into the darkness.
Moving deeper, the rays of the torch illuminating but a scant few meters of the area around him, he spotted the skeletal remains of a person on the ground. As he got closer, he saw just how little was left. Only the skull, pelvis, and a few of the larger bones remained. The smaller bones had been gnawed away or dragged off. As he began to turn aside and continue on, a baby rat poked its head out of an empty eye socket in the skull and stared up at him. The little creature stretched upwards on its hind legs, placing its front paws on the edge of the socket. It’s nose and whiskers twitched, capturing his scent. The innocence of his curious face stood in stark contrast to the belly full of flesh and bone that filled it.
With Steven’s next step forward, the fearful baby rat ducked inside the skull, seeking shelter. Only the adults held their ground, ignoring the heat and light from the torch waving above them, their hunger driving them to boldness. The sound of the rats gnawing on the bone was grating on Steven’s nerves, and he shook his head as if trying to clear the sound from his ears.
Though he’d had an expectation of what he would find, it had been impossible to prepare for such a visually brutal reality. His heart broke for the victims of Enlil’s atrocities. Steven had helped thousands to escape, but for these fallen ones his rescue had come too late. As Steven progressed deeper into the prison, the number of dead on the ground, grew. They’d been ill, diseased, and weak from starvation, but still they had persevered, dragging themselves toward freedom until their last breath had left them.
Finding another torch hanging on the wall, he dipped it in the vat of oil, lighting it with his already lit torch and put it back on the wall. The brilliance of the two lights illuminated a corpse a few yards away. Unlike the other skeletal remains he’d seen thus far, this victim had gone untouched by the rats, apparently too diseased for even them to eat. The decay process had been slowed by the coldness of the cavern. A grease like fluid glistening on the ground around the body was now home to flies and maggots.
Saliva filled Steven’s mouth, his stomach churning as he saw a flesh-eating fungal growth swaying to a soft breeze wafting through the tunnels.
He moved quickly, wanting to leave both the memory and the sight behind.
From behind the bars of the cells, the red eyes of the rats stared at him, some hissing from atop the pile of bones they had collected and turned into nests.
It was with a deep sigh of relief that Steven turned a corner and saw his prize ahead of him. In the darkness, the sword radiated a soft, white aura from within. Stepping into the weapon’s vault, he slowly approached the white stone statue of the Anunnaki holding the sword. The ornate sword stood upright, its point hovering above the base of the pedestal.
Steven translated the Sumerian words on the base, aloud. “The Sword of Truth.” The words inspired a great reverence within him.
Removing the sword, he held it up with pride. A strange feeling of excitement and joy filled him as he wielded it and got a feel for its weight. He sensed a warm, internal energy emanating from within the sword, almost as if it were alive. So hypnotizing was the flood of emotions that he didn’t hear the cell door closing behind him, sealing him in. The removal of the sword from the pedestal had triggered the trap that Enlil had set for him.
The soft sound of shuffling feet caught Steven’s attention. Turning around, he saw the closed cell door. Beyond the door’s bars, hidden deep within the shadows, an old, white-haired woman dressed in loose, black clothing, stepped forward. “Did you really think me so easily beaten, Tin Man? I am surprised that you were so easily fooled.”
“Enlil?” said Steven, nearly gagging on the word. The astonishment in his eyes quickly changed to one of hatred. Steven went to the door and grabbed the bars, straining to open it. Enlil in the form of the white-haired woman laughed, her scratchy voice matching the aged body of the form he’d taken. “Your abilities are gone. You are surrounded by an impenetrable, dampening field. You are powerless,” said the woman. “Within the cell, you are pathetically human and nothing more. You cannot shift form or draw from the energy in the air around you.
“That is the one skill you displayed that intrigued me, Tin Man. I wish I had more time to dissect you and learn the source of your ability.”
Steven grimaced while again grabbing at the bars, his actions inspiring yet another cackling laugh from his captor.
“You were so kind, even having one of the Guardians carry me home. No one thought to suspect the fragile, little woman who walked in from the desert,” Enlil said mockingly. “They never knew that the wolf was walking among the sheep.”
The old woman then changed into Enlil’s natural, male form—tall with long white hair, his physique imposing. “You were boringly predictable. It was so disappointing. I thought you to be so much more than you were. And now, look—” Enlil transformed into Steven and in Steven’s voice said, “You have lost—everything!” Putting his arms out wide, he gloated and stepped up to the bars. Just inches from Steven’s face. “I now have a powerful Anunnaki ship to take me to Heaven, where my father will bow before me. He will beg me to spare his world, his people—and curse me when I burn Heaven beneath his feet.” Enlil’s eyes turned upward as he envisioned his glorious attack upon the home world.
“Father was right. There is no goodness left in you.” Steven slid the tip of the sword between the bars and thrust it deep into Enlil’s chest. “I hadn’t wanted to believe him.”
Enlil gasped in horror. He looked down, his hands wrapping around the Atlantean steel blade jammed between his ribs. Blood spurted from between his clenched fingers and onto the ground. He then looked up to see that it was not Steven standing before him, but his brother Enki. His pained eyes widened. “Enki? How brother? How?”
Enlil’s mind raced, thinking back to the moment when he had first met Steven in the courtyard above—to the moment when Steven had claimed to be Enki. He questioned himself, thinking maybe he had been wrong the whole time.
Enki thrust the blade deeper—until the sword’s cross-guard slammed against the bars of the door. With the sword’s blade now jutting out from between Enlil’s shoulder blades, Enki grabbed the bars of the cell door and swung it open. Enlil’s feet dragged along the ground, his body moving with the door until his back was pinned against the bars of the cell. Through a trickle of blood streaming from his mouth, Enlil again asked, “How brother? How did you know?”
“Lord Steven and Lady Ashlyn have a different destiny—a better one than the one you wanted to give them. I owed them. Our people owed them. The Council gave me permission to change the future for them, saving them from your cruelty. You forgot that they are bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. We created them in our image. They are Anunnaki. They are family.”
Blood was now pouring heavily out of Enlil’s mouth, drenching his fine, white, linen clothing.
“Your planned deceit for this day has been known to me for thousands of years, so I disabled the vault’s dampening field. I have been waiting, hoping this moment would never come—hoping that you would seek forgiveness from our father before it was too late. He tried to reconcile with you so many times, but your heart never softened. He had hoped you would come home with me.”
“Father…” Though on the brink of death, saying the word aloud made Enlil’s eyes smile. Images of himself as a young boy flashed before him, reminding him of the glorious wonders of the universe that his parents had shown him. “Tell Father—I love him. Tell him that I am sorry for what I did.”
With a final twist of the sword in Enlil’s chest, Enki whispered into his brother’s ear, “He knows, my brother. Though he stood alone, he never lost hope that you might find your way out of the darkness.”
With the last of Enki’s spoken words, the light in Enlil’s eyes died.
Enki pulled the sword out of Enlil and swung the vault’s door closed, letting Enlil’s body collapse to the ground. He stared for a moment at his fallen brother, knowing he had broken Anunnaki law by killing him. Grasping the handle, his grip tightened. In response, the blade of the sword turned brilliant white—the sizzling energy emanating from within creating a low humming sound. Pointing the tip of the sword at Enlil, Enki released an energy beam, disintegrating Enlil’s cellular structure. Enlil’s body disappeared.
The weight of the sword suddenly seemed immeasurable, and it slipped from his hand and clattered on the ground. With the release from his grasp, the blade’s white glow vanished and Enki fell to his knees. “I’m sorry, my brother,” he said softly. His eyes closed remembering a time when they had laughed and run together on the shores of Tryskellyon—and Enlil had playfully carried him on his shoulders into the white frothed waves of blue water. “I will not forget you.”