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The Scapegoat

From Storm Constantine’s Scenting Hallowed Blood.

The figures of Anu and Enlil, as well of Azazel and Shemyaza, are combined in this account

***

Shemyaza flexed his wings and stepped from the cliff into a void.

The ground rushed up to meet him, each detail of the rocks below brought into sharp focus. Nano-seconds stretched into eternity. He knew he was falling fast, yet it seemed to take forever to reach the ground. I was tricked! I am dying! The scapegoat. Pushed from the Cliff.

Panic surged through his body, almost occluding consciousness. Then the ground dissapeared, and he was fallling into a black abyss. Down. Down. Down. Through time. It could only be backwards.

Shemyaza fell from the sky, a burning angel. The sun was hot upon his wings and below him stretched a range of spiky mountains, which he knew were of the lost land of E-den. He thought he would fall straight to the ground and threshed his pinions in terror, but soon he remembered the technique of it, and soared upwards, riding the sizzling thermals. He flew over the mountains, until he saw the familiar landmarks of the Garden; Kharsag, a valley of fertility concealed by the punishing crags.

This was the settlement of the Anannage, whom humanity called the Serpent People; the Feathered Serpents — the Angels. It was the place of his birth, his torment, and his death. In this place he’d held the office of Watcher, and humans knew him as a Son of God; a son of the High Lord Anu. The Lord called all the Watchers his sons, and claimed to love them.

Shemyaza circled the Garden several times. On the southern side, the mountains descended into the lush fertile lowlands, where the Anunnage had conducted their education programs with humans, whom they considered to be a primitive race. On the northern side, cliffs shielded the Garden from a barren wilderness where only savages lived. Instinctively, Shemyaza was drawn to this Direction.

Half a day’s walk north from the Garden, there was a place holy to the Anunnake. They called it the Bowl of Giving and Receiving. Here, they offered sacrifices to the Elders; the source of their intelligence that existed beyond the Universe. The Bowl was a large flat plateau on the mountain-side, which hung out over a tortuous slope of scree that led down to the desert wilderness below. Shem recognized it immediately, and his wings faltered. He knew what he would see at this place; what he’d been brought here to remember.

A large amount of people had gathered on the Bowl, all dressed in ceremonial robes. A ritual was taking place there. Shemyaza flew lower, aware that no-one could sense his presence. He felt he should be reluctant to witness what he knew to be happening, but was empty of feeling. Then he saw himself down there.

The young Shemyaza: a foolish romantic, being led to the place of sacrifice by a phalanx of Seraphim.

His older consciousness looked down in revulsion and despise. Stupid idiot, he thought. You believed you were honored and that your sacrifice was holy, but that was only a disguise for punishment. You fell for it, and then took the hardest fall.

Ultimately, he had died because of his love for Ishtar and the fruits of his bitterness, which had burgeoned from the punishment he had suffered. But the events taking place below him now preceded the sentence of death by many years. This was the information that Daniel had not recalled and which had existed in Shem’s memory only dimly. Now, it came gushing back with harsh clarity.

Long before the events that led to Shemyaza’s execution, Anu’s viziers had loosed their poison tongues in the Mountain House where Anu sat upon his Throne. They had told the High Lord that Shemyaza and his colleagues had taken human lovers and were revealing Anannaki secrets to the women. Anu had been astounded and angry, but his full wrath had not been invoked. He had been prepared to be lenient and had withheld the sentence of death. As Shemyaza was seen as the ringleader in this carnal cabal, Anu had held him responsible for his brother’s actions.

“You must be shrived of your sins, my son,” he had said. “You shall be banished into the wilderness, and through your suffering shall expiate the transgressions of your brethren. Your sacrifice shall be that of comfort and warmth, and the love of your people. But when you have suffered enough and have learned true humility, you must return and instruct the Watchers in piety.”

Ashamed at having been caught with his human lover, Shemyaza — young and devout — had thanked Anu for his mercy. He forced himself to view Ishtahar, his beloved, as a wicked seductress, who had tempted him with evil. He expelled from his mind all memory of their love and the happiness it gave them. She was a black and crawling thing; greedy and corrupt. Only the privations of exile could burn the contamination of her from his body and soul.

On the day of the Sacrifice, Anu’s Serpent Priests had stripped Shemyaza naked and rubbed his body with golden dust, so that he shone like the Sun. They led him to the plateau that overlooked the savage lands and there a goat with gilded horns was sacrificed in his honor. They anointed the shining body of Shemyaza with the goat’s blood, to give him the spped and agility of the animal as he roamed in the wilderness. The blood also represented the sins of himself and his brothers, and those of the humans who had transgressed with them.

Maidens sang and rattled bells as the blood was painted onto his skin. He had been drugged with the secret of the poppy, and smiled like an imbecile; his heart full of love and joy and the fierce desire to transcend his sin. The highest lords and ladies of the settlement came one by one to kiss his gilded lips, until Anu himself stepped forward.

[Anu] took Sehmyaza’s chin in his hand and said, “Carry these sins out into the barren land, my most beautiful son. Purge yourself of them, and all who sinned shall be likewise purged. What has begun may be reversed.”

“I will, Father.”

Anu smiled gently and brushed his lips over Shemyaza’s mouth. “Most beloved of my children,” he said, and lifted Shemyaza in his arms.

The Lord was taller than all other Anunnaki. In his hold, Shemyaza seemed no larger than a child.

There was no struggle. Anu carried his son to the edge of the plateau and then, as if releasing a captive bird, threw him into the air.

The gathering hurried to watch Shemyaza’s fall. His drugged body bounced and jerked down the long slope of loose scree that led to the wilderness. Presently, all that could be seen was a smudge of gold and red, and the body lay still, its limbs sprawled out like a discarded puppet.

Anu raised his arms. “Rejoice my people! Take meat and drink in my son’s honor!”

The sacrificial goat was skinned and gutted, spitted and placed over a fire. Servants carried great barrels of wine out into the open. Soon, the plateau rang to the sounds of merriment and celebration.

Shemyaza, hanging onto Life far below, heard these sounds. He had expected a beatific experience — something like astral flight — but now he lay broken and bleeding, discarded upon the rocks. He resented the sound of the feasting above him. No-one knew whether he was dead or alive, and he realized it didn’t matter. He had made the sacrifice. Now they could breathe more easily, sure that Anu’s rage had been appeased.

I will not die, Shemyaza thought, energized by rage.  I will survive and return.

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