My name is Al-Salaam. I live in a village that was in Assyria; now it’s north of Mosel in Iraq. Over one-hundred generations of my family have served the Assyrian Guard. I have sworn an oath to protect the tomb of King Sennacherib, who built his kingdom in Nineveh. Anyone who knows about Nineveh knows that it was reclaimed by the desert centuries ago.
“The King’s crypt is deep beneath our land.” My father would remind me. “It is our duty to protect it with our lives.”
My father died last spring and I am the last of the Assyrian guard.
“The Wraith of Kings protects the tomb!” My father would say as he retold the history.
When I was a boy, he would remind me that the very captain who fought the Medes and Babylonians murdered the king. He then carried the body to the vault and sealed it. Before the Babylonians caught up with the captain, his remaining army made a blood oath to protect King Sennacherib’s sarcophagus.
“They killed the Assyrian guard; my great, great, great grandfather was the only one to escape.” I finished the narrative.
Archeologists were always nosing around and I knew it was only a matter of time that ISIS would arrive to destroy this protected spot.
On the night of the waning moon, in a year predicted by astronomers, I opened a leather bag that contained a powder that, when ignited, opened a portal.
“Please, reveal what it is I am to do.” I inhaled the smoke .
After a few moments, I opened my eyes and saw the wraith.
“I am Atenagoras,” the ghost stated. “You have summoned me?”
“I’m Al-Salaam, the son of Salam. The spirits foretell the enemy will plunder the king’s tomb.”
“In two days, they will arrive. Tell them the tomb is full of gold. The guardians marked the entrance with the mark of Sennacherib. Resist as long as you can. If you provoke them, it will lead to your death,” Atenagoras warned.The specter whisked away.
I wept. “My family’s sacrifice was for naught. I’ve given up everything only to be beaten and murdered. My birth-line will cease and all the army has preserved will be stolen.”
I gathered my courage and waited. I was a warrior and I pledged to die fighting. The noonday heat caused me to slumber. When I awoke, it was to the sharp edge of a knife against my throat.
“I am called Junaid. I demand that you show me the gold!” Junaid hissed.
“I will tell you if you don’t kill me,” I begged.
“It’s Allah’s will. If you lie, I will stake you to the desert and watch the jackals feast on you.”
“Under the carpet,” I said with steel grey eyes. “and down many stairs there is a marker with the king’s seal on it. Underneath there is more gold than in all of Egypt! But you must beware…”
“What you scoundrel?” His knife caused beads of blood to encircle my neck.
“There is an ancient guardian who protects the tomb. I have seen him once but I have heard…”
This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”
And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.
many thanks to my editor: Leslie Moon aka Moondustwriter