Sha Naqba Imuru (Gilgamesh)

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Sha Naqba Imuru (Gilgamesh)
Date of Cutscene: 26 September 2018
Location: A nebulous museum on Metastasis earth
Synopsis: Gilgamesh reads the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Cast of Characters: Gilgamesh

I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh;

This was the man to whom all things were known,

This was the King who knew the countries of the world.

The King, whose word was law, had lied.

He stood in the museum, ignorant of the swarming masses that gathered around him. Cameraphones snapped and flashed like starlight in the night. People whispered that he was so beautiful he must be a celebrity, dressed there in his black coat, his white sweater, his beige slacks. They swarmed around him, eager to breathe in the scent of glory, eager to taste the hem of his robe. Women and men alike moved past him, unwilling to touch him, unable to avoid getting close, incapable of getting too close.

He, the King who surpassed all other Kings, gave none of it pause. He gave none of it thought. His eyes were fixated on the tablets under glass.

He was wise.

He saw mysteries and knew secret things.

He brought us a tale of the days before the flood.

Gilgamesh supposed he had not lied exactly. When the man, the man of iron, had said that Babylon had failed, Gilgamesh had pretended not to know why. He had let his head sink in sorrow at the failure of it. He had pretended to cry for Babylon, to swoon for a lost paradise.

The black coffee stained his lips as he read his own handwriting with dispassionate red eyes. He had pretended, but he had not lied, exactly. All that he had not said was that he had noticed Babylon's fall long ago.

So it was written. So it was written in his own hand. So it was written into his hand, into his flesh, into his very being. So it was written, and so it had to be.

He read the words on the clay tablets without a second thought. Gilgamesh held no mortal fear of seeing the future. He had seen it long ago. The road laid out for him was clear as day, and always had been. This was merely confirmation.

When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body.

Shamash the glorious sun endowed him with beauty.

Adad the god of storms endowed him with courage.

The great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others,

Terrifying like a great wild bull.

Two thirds they made him god and one third man.

Fingers closed around the coffee cup, as strong as a star from heaven. The cup erupted in his hand, scalding black liquid splattering across the floor, across his face, across people. He did not notice or care.

Yes. Babylon had fallen. There had been nothing left behind. There could be nothing left behind. He, who had decided at his moment of creation to destroy the demesne of the gods, had also destroyed the foundation he loved so dearly. He, who was as wild as the raging bull, had also destroyed the miracles humanity had depended on, and left them to bleed and crawl in the muck, in hope of a future brighter than Shamash.

In Uruk he built walls, a great rampart,

And the temple of blessed Eanna for the god of the firmament Anu,

And for Ishtar the goddess of love.

Look at it still today.

The outer wall where the cornice runs,

It shines with the brilliance of copper,

And the inner wall, it has no equal.

Touch the threshold; it is ancient.

Approach Eanna, the dwelling of Ishtar, our lady of love and war,

The like of which no latter-day king, no man alive can equal.

"Excuse me," said someone in a uniform, "Sir, are you alright? You spilled your coffee. You...destroyed your coffee."

The voice jolted him out of his reverie. Gilgamesh looked at the woman like she was far away. She was passingly attractive, a blonde in a clean blouse that showed her figure well. He heard the fair Huntress's voice as he looked at her, the passing resemblance striking the root of memory; 'something to tell my grandchildren.'

Gilgamesh waved his hand. "Leave me. The King is well."

The woman did not question him. She bowed, and stepped away, a look of far-off wonder on her face. He watched her go before he turned back to the tablets. His fingers brushed against the glass. The words he read were his own, proclaiming his arrogance to the world, proclaiming his foolishness. The words he read were the words of a man who looked back and saw a tyrant, and he heard his own voice speak them all.

In the back of his mind, he saw Yang's smile, and heard her say that he could be human like the rest of them, and his eyes shut, and he let his own words play. He let the words of Enkidu dance across him, Enkidu who had come to tear down the old order, and saw him in the shadow of Time. He let the words of Ishtar play across him, as she begged for his love, and he felt such rage that he nearly crushed the glass he touched when she invoked the Bull of Heaven. His chest swelled with deserved pride as he crushed the Bull beneath his feet.

He felt Enkidu die, and he fell to his knees and wept for a brother he did not know, and heard his own voice weeping through the distant gulf of time.

He, Surpassing All Other Kings, Saw The Deep.

None around him dared to look. Each passing shadow felt as if they were witness to something they could not witness, an impossible paradox that went against all sense of reason. It passed from their minds as they filtered away. They could not comprehend the King of Heroes' sorrow. They could not comprehend the idea of the King of Heroes' sorrow. To see something perfect broken before you is a paradox that the human mind cannot resolve. If it is broken, it is not perfect; and yet, here, it is so. And so they left rather than be driven to madness, the incident stricken from their souls, and the King was left alone to grieve.

He did not grieve for Enkidu.

He grieved for himself.

He grieved for the hand that must one day write these tablets. His fingers, stained with coffee, brushed across the glass as tears the color of sorrow itself rolled down perfect cheeks. He wept for those fingers.

The words of the mage. 'You're not just a story, you're THE story.'

Sha Naqba Imuru. He saw the depths of time and cursed them deeply as he stood. From the Gate of Babylon he plucked fine silk to dry his eyes, casting it back into the portal. It was not a thing he had not known before, not a thing he had not understood long ago, but now, to see the physical proof of it, to have that slim and scant hope that he could, indeed, be human like the rest, that he could, indeed, be a mere piece of Multi-Vars, that he could, indeed, defy this fate…

To have it broken and murdered before him, lying in the form of Enkidu, was too much for him to bear stoically.

Babylon had not failed. Babylon had needed to fail. Babylon had had to fall that the wonders of the gods did not eclipse the wonders of man. Babylon had had to fall that all the gods fall with it, and that he, Gilgamesh, would go on to inspire all others.

And to do that…

And to do that he must live it.

And to live it, he must be broken. He must be humbled. He must be filled with humility. But first he must be filled with tyranny. He must walk the path ordained for him by the gods at the moment of his creation.

The King of Heroes put a hand to his head and laughed at himself. What a fate. What cruel irony. To rebel against the gods, to break the hold of the gods and let all mankind have even a slim chance to flourish, to choose, to become greater than their deities, he, Gilgamesh, had to walk their path. Where he had wept mere moments before now mad laughter rocked the halls of the museum. The people laughed with him, though they knew not why, only that their King was amused, and thus it was in their best interest to be amused as well.

To save a world he hated, he would walk a path he despised, and die, alone in all the world, deprived of his brother and with no other who could hear the truth of his voice.

The King turned away from the glass. He, who could have no children, who could never know the joy of descendants, who could never love or be loved, could have no equal in all the world. He would tell no grandchildren his story. He could have no one who could be called his equal. He could not be one of them. He could not be human.

To be human was to choose.

If he chose to be human, he would destroy even the slim hope of that shining world of man.

Such a thing could not be done.

For he was Gilgamesh.

Surpassing all other kings.

He who saw the deep.

This too was the work of Gilgamesh, the King,

Who knew the countries of the world.

He was wise; he saw mysteries and knew secret things.

He brought us a tale of the days before the flood.

He went on a long journey, was weary, worn out with labour,

And returning,

Engraved on a stone the whole story.