People of the Ark (Ark Chronicles 1)

BOOK: People of the Ark (Ark Chronicles 1)
2.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

Novels by Vaughn Heppner:

 

THE ARK CHRONICLES

People of the Ark

People of the Flood

People of Babel

People of the Tower

 

LOST CIVILIZATION
SERIES

Giants

Leviathan

The Tree of Life

Gog

Behemoth

Lod the Warrior

Lod the Galley Slave

 

HISTORICALS

The Great Pagan Army

The Sword of Carthage

The Rogue Knight

 

Visit www.Vaughnheppner.com for more information.

 

People of the Ark

(The Ark Chronicles
I)

 

by Vaughn Heppner

 

 

Copyright © 2010 by the author.

 

This book is a work of fiction
. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

 

Preface

 

Like waves against a sandcastle, time erodes our knowledge of the past. Written fragments, shards of pottery and a handful of pictures on a wall are all that are left of the world’s most ancient kingdoms. Further back lies prehistory. The only clues of those times, given by the actual peoples themselves, are ancient myths handed down from the generations. They tell of dire calamities.

Interestingly, many of the world
’s oldest myths are remarkably similar, as if they’re based upon the same root source. Whether they’re American Indian legends, Babylonian, or Roman, they speak of a Golden Age or Era, an Eden World of lush vines, green glades and noble men and women. Then doom indescribable overtakes them. There are many legends of this doom, including that of Lost Atlantis, Hyperborea and the Great Flood of Noah, the Deluge said to have destroyed a world.

Perhaps the greatest writer of this story is one of history
’s most amazing men. Prince, shepherd, prophet and liberator of an entire slave people, Moses edited old first-hand accounts of this dawn-time. For that is the meaning of the ancient Middle Eastern signatures of “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1), “These are the generations of Noah” (Genesis 6:9), “These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth” (Genesis 10:1). As we add footnotes today to denote authorship, so Moses did with those “generations of.” The implication was that he had copies of earlier works, firsthand accounts of the very people who lived through those calamities.

The tales are scanty, several pages altogether
. They tell of amazing actions, and they corroborate Greek, Norse and other myths, that once godlike beings had close interaction with humanity. The shocking verse, Genesis 6:4 says: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days…when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

Could Hercules, Gilgamesh and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim
have been such heroes? Could these tales be ancient memories of those Pre-Cataclysmic champions, and the mythic stories such as Zeus’ rape of Europa a remembrance of a time when godlike beings had congress with women? Perhaps as interesting, much of the shadowy history of this world is told or seen through the eyes of a single family. In direct sequence, part of the genealogy goes like this:

 

Methuselah

|

Lamech

|

Noah

|

Ham

|

Kush

|

Nimrod

 

Methuselah, the longest-lived man in history, survived 969 years. Lamech was one of the only two antediluvian patriarchs whose prophecies were written in the Bible. Noah was the great animal-keeper and Ark-Builder, and said to be like Adam, the Father of Humanity. Ham suffered a dreadful curse and Kush was said to be the ancestral father of most black nations. And finally, that name which is shrouded in mystery: Nimrod the Mighty Hunter, World Conqueror and prototype Antichrist. What he started in Babel is recorded in Revelation as “the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.” Unbelievably, Noah was Nimrod’s great-grandfather!

Two terrible dooms are said to have
transpired in humanity’s dawn: the Flood, and the building of the Tower of Babel. These two dooms involved one biblical family.

This is their tale
.

 

Pharaoh’s Palace

 

 

1.

 

Ham was ancient, blind and dying, and had been for over one hundred years
.

R
ats scampered across Ham’s bedroom, their claws skittering over tiles. One rat gnawed on wood, its chisel-like teeth scraping a chair leg. The chewing stopped. Hurried rat-feet pattered across the floor. A moment later, a latch rattled and a door creaked. Sandals shuffled and a rich perfume odor billowed in, a scent Ham knew could only belong to the Princess Taia.

She
rushed to him and knelt by his bed, weeping.

Ham wrestled a sticklike arm from under the covers and touched her
smooth young skin. How quickly they grew up—and how quickly these days they died!


There, there,” he mumbled. He had never gotten used to speaking without teeth, and he hated it when his lips smacked together. With a touch of envy, he recalled that his great-grandfather Methuselah had kept his teeth to the very end.

“Great
-Grandfather,” Taia wept, “Pharaoh has ordered your death.”

Ham’s thoughts
concentrated. Taia was Pharaoh’s daughter. Pharaoh was Ham’s great, great, great, great-grandson.

“What have I done
to deserve this?” Ham whispered.


Oh, Great-Grandfather, it’s because of that—that
woman
.”


What woman?”


Sarai!”


That isn’t an Egyptian name.”


She’s a foreigner. Oh, she’s beautiful, Great-Grandfather, and so meek and gentle—at least she pretends to be. But I’ve caught her praying to the same god you do.”

The ancient blind man
—the youngest son of Noah—stiffened even as his heart thudded. He had many regrets, many things he wished he could have changed. The one that haunted him as he lay dying in Pharaoh’s palace was how cruel and idolatrous the Egyptians had become, and in so short a time. It pained him that a country bearing his name—Kem—should be home to such immorality and adultery.


Are you certain she prays to Jehovah?” Ham asked.


Of course I’m certain. I tiptoed into her quarters and eavesdropped until I heard enough to accuse her of impiety against our gods. Having watched her in court, and observed her demure ways before Pharaoh and his princes—and how my brother Khufu can’t take his eyes off her—I was certain she would break down weeping before me.”


What does any of that have to do with Pharaoh ordering my death?” Ham asked.


This Sarai refused to weep and refused to acknowledge Amon-Ra or Horus or even Isis. She said our gods and goddesses are nothing but stone, wood and gold, and that they can’t hear us and aren’t even alive. ‘Blasphemy!’ I cried. ‘No,’ she said, claiming there is only one god, a jealous god whose wrath is kindled whenever people turn away from him. Then it struck me that she said the same things you do.”


You said Pharaoh ordered my death.”


Yes! Pharaoh is sick. Many say he’s dying. He has ordered his guards to slay you the moment he breathes his last.”

Instead of shriveling
up his last reserves of strength, the news galvanized Ham. He, too, was dying, but he refused to end his days assassinated by one of his own blood, however distantly removed.

Taia was weeping again, her warm arms draped over him.

“Why do you care about this Sarai so much?” Ham whispered.

“Because I know it’s her sorcery that has sickened Pharaoh.”

“What? That makes no sense. You said she prays to Jehovah.”


She pretends meekness and yet is as hard as bronze. She is sly, and deceives both my father and brother.
She
has brought sickness to Pharaoh and the plague upon the rest of us.”


How has she done this?”

Through her hiccups and weeping,
Princess Taia told Ham how her brothers had spoken about an unusually lovely woman, the sister of a traveler from Canaan. Famine stalked that land. Curious, Pharaoh had summoned the woman from Canaan. He’d found her to be lovely, meek and gentle and had wished her to become another of his many wives. So Pharaoh had given the woman’s brother sheep and oxen, donkeys, servants and camels and had taken Sarai into the palace. Pharaoh had decided to make it a state wedding, even though it was whispered that he burned with lust for the woman. For reasons known only to him, Pharaoh hadn’t immediately ravished her, as was his wont with women that took his fancy. Soon thereafter terrible plagues broke out in the palace. Now, boils covered Pharaoh and he lay dying in bed.


It was at that point he ordered me slain?” Ham asked.

“Only after he breath
es his last,” Taia said.

Ham
pondered this. It sounded as if the power of Jehovah was upon this foreign woman. Yet why would that cause Pharaoh to sicken?


You must gather me a litter,” Ham said.


Don’t you remember?” Taia asked. “On pain of death, Pharaoh has forbidden you to leave your room.”

The old fire, which Ham had thought long dead, flamed once more in his breast. For one hundred years he had been dying
. He would not now pass from this world by an assassin’s knife.

Ham struggled to a sitting position, gripping Taia
’s forearm with strength he hadn’t realized he still possessed.


Get the litter and bring me clothes worthy of a prince of Egypt,” Ham said.


I don’t dare act against Pharaoh or against one of his decrees.


A litter!” Ham said, ancient and withered, blind and toothless, but with the timbre in his voice that had once challenged a giant.

Taia drew a sharp breath
. “Very well.”

 

2.

 

The shock of reentering life outside his room confused Ham, though he lay in a litter carried by strong slaves and was protected by guards under Taia’s command.

The slaves grunted
and the carrying-poles shifted on their broad shoulders so the litter swayed like a ship at sea. A myriad of forgotten odors and sounds assaulted Ham’s senses. He smelled charcoal, heated bronze, and heard the hammering of metalsmiths. Half-rotted fish and butchered rabbits left too long under the hot sun, sold by shouting hawkers, made an awful reek.

Although
Ham couldn’t see it, he knew the city children went around naked except for earrings and necklaces, the girls wearing a string of beads around their middles. Free men and women wore a short, tight skirt of white linen, the men going bare from the waist up and sometimes the women as well. Slaves, servants and peasants wore loincloths. Only the rich had sandals.

The sounds
, smells and the constant swaying disoriented Ham. It was much hotter than his cool room hidden behind palace walls. He clutched a pillow, forcing himself to concentrate, to think, to remember… not the distant past. It was easy to remember his childhood, building the Ark and afterward those early years alone in an empty world. It was much harder to recall recent things.

Soon the
slaves set down their load, knocking the breath out of Ham. Curtains were brushed aside and hot sunlight beat on his face.


Are we there?” Ham whispered.


Can’t you hear the bleating of sheep and the lowing cattle?” Taia asked.

All
Ham could hear was the blood pounding in his ears. He was certain that he was pale, and he felt cold sweat on his brow. He felt old, and feverish.


What is this about?” Ham heard a man’s strong voice ask. “You barge in here as if I’ve done something wrong.”

Princess Taia withdrew from the litter
. “Are you Prince Abram, the brother of Sarai?”


I’m not of royal blood,” the man Abram said.


But you are the brother of Sarai?” Taia asked.


I am.”

From within the litter
, Ham scratched his cheek. He heard deceit in Abram’s strong voice. “Bring the man closer,” Ham said.

The odor of sheep
grew. Abram must be a shepherd. Yes, the man smelled sweaty and dusty. Did Abram perform manual labor? No Egyptian warrior would and certainly no priest.


You honor me, lord,” Abram said.

Ham
’s ears caught the low growl of nearby guards. He heard the word “shepherd,” as if the guards spat dust out of their mouths.


Taia,” Ham said, “tell the guards to move back.”

H
am waited until she gave the command, until the clattering of swords and the shuffling of sandals told him the guards actually moved away. He was used to people trying to trick the blind, old man.


Abram?”


I’m here, lord.”

Ham frowned
. There was something different about this one. “You traveled from Canaan?”


I already told you that,” Taia said.


Dear Taia,” Ham said, “could you please fetch me a cup of water.”


Guard!”


Taia, my child, from your own hand if you please.”

Although he was blind, Ham could feel her staring at him
. The slap of her feet told him she was going.

Why would
taking Abram’s sister cause Pharaoh to sicken? What was the mystery here?


Tell me, Abram, do you serve Jehovah?”


L-Lord?”


Don’t bother lying to me,” Ham said. “Where did you learn of Jehovah?”


…In Ur, lord, the land of my birth. Jehovah spoke to me, twice.”

Ham reached out, groping, until Abram took his hand
. The shepherd’s grip was strong and callused. “Do you know your lineage, O man of Ur?”


Yes, lord.”


Tell me!”


My father’s name is Terah, lord.”


Hurry, continue. As you love Jehovah don’t hold anything back.”


Terah is the son of Nahor, lord, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the—Lord, are you well?”


Listen to me, Abram,” Ham said, the excitement causing his heart to flutter and blood to flush his skin. “When I speak it, if you can I want you to finish this ancient line of doggerel. Are you listening?”


Yes, lord.”

Ham wet his lips and took a deep breath
. “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” Ham waited. “What’s wrong with you, man? I know you’re there. I can hear you breathing like a bull about to charge.”


Lord,” Abram whispered. “How… how did you come to learn those words?”

Ham groped again for Abram
’s rough hand. When he found it, he clutched it as hard as he could. “Finish it if you can, man of Ur.”

Abram
’s voice was unsteady. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”


Ah-ha!” Ham said. “You quote the old promise of the coming Redeemer, of He who will be born to a pure and righteous woman.”


Do you know who first spoke those words, lord?”


Jehovah did when He banished Adam and Eve from Eden.”


…May I ask, lord, where you learned this?”


First answer me this,” Ham said. “Why have you lied about Sarai?”


Lord?” Abram fairly squeaked.


So, I was right. Sarai is not your sister.”


But she is,” Abram protested.


Hmm,” Ham said. “Perhaps in some way she is, but you have also hidden the truth. Isn’t that so?”

Abram hesitated before whispering,
“She
is
my sister, lord, the daughter of my father but not of my mother. She is also my wife.”

His wife
? “Listen to me, Abram. Do you know that Pharaoh and his household are stricken with plague?”


All Egypt knows, lord.”


Why do you think this has happened?”

“Because I lied…because I let Pharaoh take her to wife.”

“Then Pharaoh must be warned before he brings the wrath of Jehovah upon all Egypt.”
And before Pharaoh dies and his guards come to slay me
.


Surely Pharaoh will kill me if he learns what I have done.”

Ham let go of Abram
’s hand and lay back on his cushions, thinking. Perhaps he dozed. The next thing he heard was Taia saying, “Here’s your water.”

With trembling hands
, Ham accepted the water. “Abram?”


I’m here, lord.”


Pray for me, that as I speak to Pharaoh Jehovah grants me wisdom.”


Lord, is that wise?”


What is this, shepherd?” Taia asked. “You dare address him so?”


Forgive me, Princess,” Abram whispered.


Hush, child,” Ham told Taia. “No need to speak like that. We must treat him well.”


For his sister’s sake?” Taia asked coldly.


No,” Ham said. “For our sake, child, for ours.”


You’re not making sense,” Taia said.


Will you do as I’ve asked, Abram?”


I will sacrifice a lamb, lord, and ask Jehovah to give you the needed words as you speak to Pharaoh.”

As Abram retreated and as the guards returned, Princess Taia said,
“It’s your head and likely mine if you set foot in the throne room.”


If I am to be slain then I will be slain. But Pharaoh must learn the truth.”


What truth, Great-Grandfather? What have you learned?”


Pharaoh must learn this truth in such a way that he will repent rather than strike out foolishly,” Ham said. “Hurry. We must return to the palace.”

 

BOOK: People of the Ark (Ark Chronicles 1)
2.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

What We Become by Arturo Perez-Reverte
The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
Nobody Dies in a Casino by Marlys Millhiser
The Goblin's Curse by Gillian Summers
Awakening the Wolf by Crymsyn Hart
Hush by Cherry Adair