I had trusted the smiling Apiru to my peril. The pathway to Endor was not clear as he had told me and I found myself surrounded by bandits, each one of the cut-throats ready to spill my blood and take my belongings. In the twilight I made a silent prayer to Shalim and spoke to the crowd around me.
“Let me pass brothers, you will find no good in hindering my way.”
There was laughter, even as I took my mighty spear from my back and held it forth. One of the bandits replied, his voice harsh like the desert.
“Throw your goods to the ground and we will let you pass naked. You are tall stranger, but we are many and will cut you to pieces if we so choose.”
“Ready your swords and slings then, for tonight you shall taste dust, your souls condemned to Sheol.”
My great size was the only thing stopping them from immediately attacking me, but I knew it would not last. Once blood was tasted they would descend on me like wolves. I had to strike first and with one movement I hurled my spear at the largest of the bandits in front of me. It plunged into his neck and he fell forward while I sprang to the side and plunged a dagger through another bandit’s eye. His scream threw the group into confusion and while some rushed forward to face me, others were stunned by the sudden deaths of two of their comrades. Now I felt alive, the flow of the god had come upon me and I reached forth my hand, dealing death with sword, dagger, feet and teeth.
It did not take long, a few short moments. The few who stayed to fight had died, most had fled. I felt the cool of the night pressing upon me but I knew I had to keep going. The hours passed, Sin looked down upon me from the heavens. His face was not full, but his children were out and there were no clouds to dim their light and so I made my way finally to the village of Endor. Finding the witch’s hut was easy. No other hut would have so many magical wards and charms around it, no other would be built so close to a sacred tree.
Although it was night I knocked on the door and was not surprised when the witch opened it as soon as my fist ceased touching the wood. She was old, a crone, with dark eyes and foul breath. She wheezed as she looked up at me.
“Come in Goliath. I have been expecting you.”
I wondered for a moment whether the Apiru had told her of my desire to visit, but I knew in my heart that was not the case. Perhaps she had spoken to the souls of the bandits I had slain.
“Expecting me? Then you know why I seek you Necromancer?”
“Of course, but you must ask me your questions out loud. For it is not I who will answer you, but the dead themselves. But first, do you have payment? My needs must be met.”
I took out the food I had brought, dates and olives. I laid them down alongside an Egyptian necklace from days of old. They had cost me much. The witch took them with a small grunt and brought me inside her hut. The stench almost made me gag. Smoke swirled around the room and there were strange lights, flames that glowed with cerulean hue. She seated me on a mat in front of a clay pot from which the smoke was emanating. She folded her legs and sat across from me. Her humming and chanting were the only noise apart from the crackling of the flames. Then her words became more focused.
“Spirits of the dead, hungry ghosts, I call you forth. Nergal, Osiris, Mot, let loose your chains and allow the wanderers to see the night again. I call you forth, all you past ones who know of Goliath, who have seen his fate in the deep.”
Her eyes snapped around to face me as the smoke filled my vision.
“Ask your question young warrior.”
I breathed deeply to calm myself and coughed on the smoke. The hag in front of me was difficult to see, my eyes were playing tricks on me for she looked like a young and nubile woman through the mist. I focused and spoke to the dead.
“Mighty ancestors, I come seeking answers about my past. I seek to know my father who I have never seen. My mother was a prize of battle and she knows not who my father could be. Before she died she said that I could have a hundred fathers but they were all evil, except for one. I need to know if I am destined for evil, or if not who that one good person was. Tell me oh spirits, and I will sing songs to remember you by.”
It all came out quickly, the words felt as if they were not my own.
The woman, starkly beautiful, spoke to me and this was no hag’s voice. It was soft yet strong – enchanting, bewitching.
“Goliath, you seek to know your past by asking the dead. Your father is not here, he does not reside in Sheol. But he has been here before and so we know of him. Your mother was correct, you could have had a hundred fathers, but you had only one. You are strong, stronger than any of your people. You are large, like the giants of old. You are not born of man, but are the child of a god!”
My heart raced. All my life I had felt the presence of a nameless god watching over me. Could this nameless god be my father? Could I know him at last?
“Speak then! Tell me the name of my Father!”
“That we cannot do, for he has forbidden us to speak his name to any who are not worthy.”
“Not worthy, but I am his son!”
“Being born does not make you worthy, you must prove yourself! Be like a god! Discover who you are and you will discover who your father is!”
“I don’t understand!”
“No one ever does…”
Her voice cracked and it was the old hag who repeated, “No one ever does…”
I blinked and looked around for the smoke had gone, and light was streaming in through a window. Sunlight. Had the whole night passed so quickly? I got to my feet and the witch led me outside. I was dazed, and mumbled a quick prayer to Shahar as the dawn sun warmed my skin. I had no idea what to make of the ancestors speech. What was I to do now? The witch looked at me with some small pity.
“If you still seek answers then there are others who may lead you to the truth. The Magi to the East, the Egyptians to the South, or even your ancestors across the sea in the West. You are the son of a god, it is only right that you travel the world beyond these simple shores.”
I nodded as I tried to absorb her words. Leave Gath? Perhaps, perhaps… But I had one more question for the witch.
“You have shown me great kindness Necromancer, and I ask but one more favour of you. On my way here I was lied to by an Apiru who sent me on the dangerous pathway to Endor. If you have the gift, if you have some way of knowing who this Apiru was then I would know so that I can seek my vengeance on him.”
“Be calm Goliath, I know the one you speak of. He is sly and cunning. And you will meet him again, for your destinies are intertwined.”
“Then tell me his name witch!”
“He is called Elhanan, and unless you please the gods, he will be your doom.”
I left the witch of Endor and turned east towards the rising sun. Elhanan could wait, I would know my father first before I took my revenge.