Chapter 7 – The Decent
Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love, is by far, the truest type of love. ~ Unknown
February 24, 2006, Over the Pacific Ocean
Arranging for my travel documents had been more difficult than either Stephan or I imagined. The delay, forced us to stay put in the safe house, after the beach house attack. When the arrangements were in finally set, we traversed through a tunnel that stretched for miles underground the coastal hillside. I couldn’t believe that tunnel could have been dug without anyone discovering its construction. Obviously, with the money and immense power the family claimed to hold, also came the ability to silence anyone.
At the end of the tunnel, Stephan placed his hand on a large metal pad that triggered the heavy metal door to open. Inside was an oversized airplane hangar that easily held three Boeing 747’s. The hangar appeared empty it was so large, despite the Boeing 737-700 stationed in the center of the hanger. Nervously, I accompanied Stephan to the plane; its door opened, at the base of the stairs a tall brunette flight attendant. The young woman, dressed in a navy dress, gold buttons down the front with the House of Thoth crest on each, and navy pumps. She smiled and held her hand up toward the door of the plane welcoming us to our flight. I wondered if she was a Thoth or merely an employee or both.
Stephan was quiet and rarely displayed emotion – today he was distant. I wondered if he mourned the deaths of his entire household staff. I didn’t know them well, yet I felt saddened by their loss, that and the fact we had abandoned their corpses without respectfully burying them. He assured me they would be properly cared for. Somehow his words failed to console me. My heart ached.
To endure so much loss in one’s life, I couldn’t grasp what thoughts were in his mind. I found it difficult to come to terms with my own, let alone his. But for one who had lived through a millennium of tragedies, my heart sank with grief. Using the old cliche in a odd- twist of fate this man who had begun as my captor had suddenly and without warning slowly emerged into the role of my companion. Guilt consumed me over that realization. I questioned myself how it was possible I could desire someone other than Michael, and so soon after his death. But chemistry had developed between Stephan and me; whether it was undeniable, improbable or even inappropriate, the bond was present. I sensed it the instant it began to mold. I speculated initially it was purely me, my perception because I longed for closeness, needed it desperately actually. I watched him, I sensed his pain as only someone with such a bond could possible capture. I realized he too felt it, only he was fighting his feelings or was in denial. He was troubled. The exact root of his anguish was a mystery, however. As usual my preternatural senses were nonexistent, a minor yet futile fact I found hard to comprehend. Stephan held his feelings entirely too close to his heart, to his soul.
We boarded the customize jet at dawn. A recent addition to the fleet, the attendant informed me. It was a bit over the top in my opinion, but, it wasn’t my money. There were two large bathrooms, and two sizeable bedrooms, galley, living area, full size bar, and small office. He had hired a crew of four, including the pilot and co-pilot to take care of our needs. I took a seat on a nice comfortable navy colored recliner in front of a large sixty-inch flat screen TV, and he sat across from me in a beige leather chair. I imagine life could be worse. We could still be back at the beach house fighting evil vampires, or stuck in the safe house brooding. I only wish I knew where on this planet we would be safe from such abominable creatures. I cringed. Both my companion and I were one in the same. I looked out the window as the craft rose into the cornflower blue sky above the wisp of cloud cover. We were heading west I conjectured, as I caught sight of the darkness of the sea against the fluffy white stream of clouds. Stephan remained silent. Stagnant. He was lost in his thoughts.
The morose expression held on his face solidified my earlier supposition that he was indeed troubled. Initially, I believed it was from the earlier attack, until I noticed the presence of a manila envelope lying next to his chair. I presumed it had been there since take off, I failed to notice.
I inspected him intimately. He had picked up the envelope and held it in his lap, as if contemplating whether he should open its contents; then returned it to the chair. His indecisive behavior soon transformed into a vicious cycle of reaching for the envelope, and returning it to the chair; picking up the envelope scrutinizing it and laying it back down. The pattern continued for the next several hours. He was making my head spin just watching.
“Are you going to open that?” I finally asked. His actions were giving me a headache. The only reaction to my comment was a blank stare in my direction. After several minutes he finally conceded. Inside, photos. He studied each image carefully with intent. However, he declined to share their contents. The look of despondency on his face spoke volumes so I refrained from inquiring further.
The flight was long and while we were traveling in the comforts of a well-furnished plane, I grew bored. I could only stand to watch so many mindless movies and flip through so many fashion magazines. He could have at least stocked up on a few copies of the latest Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, or the very least the Smithsonian.
No laptop, no notes, only my thoughts to occupy my time. I had no idea of our destination but considered my options and even attempted to discuss the possibility of diverting the plane to Cairo. I eventually considered a conversation with myself, as Stephan was noncommittal to the idea of one. My thoughts were redrawn to my work. At least what had been my work, until I had entered this damn nightmare.
So much time had passed since the museum robbery and murders, and still no closure. For months I wanted nothing more than to return to Queen Ma’at’s tomb and search for the missing tablets Abdul mentioned. I needed to know their significance. Stephan continual said no. My every move watched like I was going to leave. I practically had to tell him when I was going to use the bathroom. If only Stephan would listen to me.
In my last effort to discuss my theory, Stephan actually seemed to pay attention. To my disappointment he was far more interested in what artifacts had been stolen from the museum than the murders. I would not give him the information he sought, and he refused to hear my theory, or even consider a trip to Saqqara. I sensed he felt my theory held merit and wanted to travel to Saqqara as much if not more than I. However out of duty he was bound to protect me, which meant for whatever reason we were not about to go anywhere of potential danger. Saqqara was out of the question.
Once again I dropped the subject in frustration. I was not about to flip through another pointless magazine, or sit and pout. I resorted instead to begging him to continue the tale of Caius and Inanna and their journey to the Underworld, which he had promised to finish. He finally consented after listening to my incessant whining. I was getting more persuasive as it took less than five minutes before he began singing like a canary.
“As we left our travelers,” He began. “They were approaching the last stage of their voyage through the fiery lake. Approaching the shoreline, they came upon a stone dock, and a tall study gatekeeper. Half man-half beast was covered in a darkened robe, bound by a serpent at the waist, and a sword of steel draped across his chest. In a deep voice words he announced their presence the diction, Inanna recognized was the language of the light.
“Success into the inner realm will result in entrance failure will result in a fate worse than death.”
Inanna challenged the gatekeeper to gain re-entry into the netherworld, demanding entrance as her sister Lilith was awaiting their arrival.
“Your entrance commands a penalty, you must relinquish to me your servant’s soul, witch. Only then will you be free to pass.” The gatekeeper demanded.
Lira screamed in terror for she would be chosen to stay with the beast.
“As you wish so it will be,” Inanna decided. “Lira’s soul is yours, but only upon our safe return from the Underworld.” Inanna’s demand failed to console the girl. Lira screamed and flailed violently as the guard grabbed her by the arm and held her tightly. He licked her cheek with his lizard like tongue then threw her at Inanna. “My kiss will make sure you do as you are bid. Failure to do so will result most horrifically. I assure you.” His tongue slithered.
Inanna turned to Lira and instructed her to go to the main entrance of the tomb and wait three days. “If we should not return you must seek help from the elder gods. Do you understand?”
The girl nodded, frightened by knowlege her fate, yet she would embark as her mistress instructed, alone.
“The arrangement is satisfactory – you may pass through my gate.”
On the other side of the gate two maidens greeted the two kindred souls. “Only the ritual of decent will ensure safe passage into the Underworld. This ritual involves much time and preparation” they spoke in unison. They had been specifically trained for the ceremonial rite of passage, and understood their fate.
The maidens escorted Inanna to a large pool of basil and jasmine scented water and bathed her. When they completed this task they dried her skin with soft Egyptian cloths and anointed her in perfumed and viscid oils by which they rubbed over her body.
When this phase was complete, they dressed her, placing a crown of gold upon her jet-black hair. Beads of lapis lazuli and carnelian were laid gently around her neck, along with a golden necklace inlaid with stones of emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds that lay just above the round curvatures of her breasts. Thirteen bangles of gold and turquoise were placed on her wrists, and a robe of sheer white linen covered her form. The last adornment was a breast-plate bade of solid gold which bound tightly and heavily around her waist. She was handed a lapis and gold measuring rod, inlaid with stones of the same bound her neck as her only weapon.
Caius was treated in similar fashion, as Inanna had endured, only he by two boys who led him toward a pool filled with jasmine, and leaves of basil and mint. His skin was washed and dried with towels of Egyptian cotton. The servants anointed his body with oils of jasmine, basil, and spices then massaged. When completed, he was adorned in similar costume to that of his bride: a golden crown upon his head, golden necklace of beads and lapis around his neck, thick gold and turquoise rings around his wrists, and his body covered in a royal robe stitched in white.
The two royal subjects escorted to the gatekeeper, adorned in an array of finery a brightly colored scarlet and black robe draped over a muscular body, a golden plate around his neck. He wore an enormous steel sword with golden handle strapped to his waist, and his feet were covered in leather strapped sandals. He stood bearing a sign of authority reluctantly allowing them passage – indicating such passage could only be attained at a great cost – for at each gate they would need the removal of a garment for passage to the next phase of the journey.
Their decent was long and arduous as they continued down a dimly lit limestone corridor to a darkened stairwell. An occasional torch hung from the wall lighting their passage. The rays, illuminated intricately laced webs from large spiders, draped from every crevice along their path. Down the long narrow corridor they continued, sticky webs brushed against their skin, adhering to their robes and hair. They swiped away the webbing with their hands. When they reached the first gate, the gatekeeper instructed the two, to remove their golden crowns as passage.
They complied. They continued along another darkened passageway of stone the walls blackened with soot from the torches, which lined the hall. As they approached the second gate, a gatekeeper removed the lapis and gold necklaces that hung from each of their necks. The gatekeeper sent them on their way.
As they continued, they met another set of narrow stairs, one hundred forty-seven steps, lead them down to a third gate. The gatekeeper removed the sparkling stone necklaces and granted them each passage. On route to the fourth gate they passed along an open corridor. Brilliant lights flickered like stars in the evening sky. Bioluminescent scarab beetles consumed the ceiling, their bodies noisily clicked like thousands of crickets. Inanna cringed, grabbing Caius’ arm for comfort. At the end of the corridor they reached the fourth gate, where the gatekeeper removed their breastplates.
They journeyed deeper into the darkened vessel toward the fifth gate, which had become increasing more frightening. Chilling echoes emanated from the distance, skittering clatter of scarab beetles scurried across the cold stone floor. Inanna thrust her measuring rod upon their bodies to kill them, unsuccessfully, as there were too many. They were forced to cross the stone. The beetles crunched beneath their bare feet as they walked over top, others tore away the flesh from their feet and legs. When they reached the gate, bloodied and worn. The gatekeeper met them and removed their golden bracelets from their wrists and sent them on their way.
At the sixth gate the gatekeeper removed the only weapon they carried, the lapis measuring rod which Inanna held firmly in her hand. Reluctantly she released her grasp. Without weapons and nearly void of light, the two continued toward the last gate. As they reached the gate an ethereal fog ensued in surrounding them; a dank and musty stench emanated from the mist. Blood curdling screams induced the hair on their naps of their necks to rise and tiny bumps erupt on their skin. Both shook in fear. They had arrived at the seventh and last gate. The gatekeeper demanded they remove their robes as passage to the inner chamber. Exposed, disarmed, and bloodied, Caius and Inanna tenuously penetrated the throne room of her sister Lilith.
The chamber was the underbelly of a hell dimension. A sickening stench was evident upon setting foot at the outer most wall of the room, seeped from rotting corpses, which littered the cavity. The void illuminated by golden sconces held flaming torches which detonated an inferno of red, orange, and blue. Raging fires billowed sporadically from the very bowels of earth, seemingly from the array of craters positioned throughout the chamber.
The walls of stone covered with thick layers of soot, ash and smoke-filled the air, and a black substance oozed from the crevices in the walls and from the ground beneath them. Enormous statues of various gods in gold and marble, lined the entry way to her throne. It was a gruesome scene of burning corpses and screaming from undead creatures beholding their impending doom.
Adorned in blood-red silk gown, a beautiful scarlet-headed goddess sat high above her immense golden throne, richly inlaid in intricately cut gold and silver lined shaped figures and hieroglyphs. A golden crown inlaid with rubies and emeralds lay upon her head. Her eyes were as green as the emeralds of her crown and fixated on the two intruders who were surrounded by the judges of the underworld. Hags, revolting disfigured witches with stringy black hair laced with gray streaks. Their eyes were fire engine red, and their clothing no more than filthy rags consumed from death, hung loosely from their decrepit bodies. The hags jointly ruled in disfavor of the intruder’s entrance into their world. On either side of the magnificent throne stood two-relic gods hideous beast’s one, half dragon half lion the other half dragon half man.
Inanna pleaded with her sister for admission as she had been promised, to no avail. After minutes of relentless begging the scarlet beauty finally conceded. As she and Caius continued through the darkened chamber of the Underworld, Lilith turned to her younger sister and in their ancient language defiled her, “Espíjrijtuhs o dejmohniohs oíjr miohs krahyges [Spirits of Haides hear my cries]. Egoh Kohndejnoh a ejstah strejgah dejl enfiehrnoh pharah a tohohs lah etejrnijdajd [I condemn this witch to the fires of Haides for all eternity],” in front of the council of hags, she removed her golden measuring staff from her side, and plunged it into the fiery pit before her.
Removing the scorching staff from the raging fire, she stretched out her arm to Inanna and burned onto the bare skin of her right shoulder, the eye of death, a horizontal diamond with a globus cruciger, at the crest, the right point bearing the hand mirror symbol for Venus, the pedestal the crest of the Moon positioned downward over that of the sun, the left point held a symbol of a shield and spear of Mars, at the upper right above Mars, Ceres introverted, and at its opposite, Ceres with its handle down sickle, and at the base below Mars, was an image of a scythe, and its opposite, the thunderbolt or ‘Z’ for Zeus. Lilith turned upon Caius in similar fashion she turned the staff to the other side and burned on the back of his right shoulder the sign of the ‘Marked One’ analogous to that of Inanna, yet in the center of the diamond, the winged helmet and caduceus of Hermes.
Flames exploded from the depths of despair, spewing molten lava and oozing a gelatinous black substance from the partially masticated crevassed walls of the chamber. Lilith spoke against them both, the words of wrath “Espíjrijtuhs egoh queh teh komajndoh o Haides, [As I command the spirits of Haides] mahyoh tugoh utriuhsueh buhtejskoh [may you both burn,] pen ut igneuhs intejrnuhs o ahbysuhs [in the fiery depths of Haides].” She then struck Inanna in the heart with a wooden stake, turning her into a corpse, a piece of rotting flesh, for which she impaled her deadened from high upon an iron rod on display for the entire Underworld to witness.
Caius distraught by what he had witnessed he vowed revenge upon Lilith. “You will pay for your insolence, witch!”
Lilith wickedly turned to him laughing in curse “Prohntoah puejdejh unijrseh a tusah puhtah enh ut pijsijnah o fuehgoh o ut muejrteh deh! [You can soon join your whore in the fiery pool of death]” she shouted. Seething indignation, she spit blackened oozy bile onto his face. She removed her wicked form from her throne, and leaned in toward him toying with him. She had her evil guard’s who were half men – half beast, gag and bind him. She waved her arm and he was catapulted up and onto a hook where he hung by a rod beside his beloved bride.
Lilith took within her hands her golden athamae, and struck it across his chest. Blood erupted down his naked form as she bled him, and then she drank from him, aroused him then drank from him again. For relentless hour’s she continued in this fashion, in front of the council of the Underworld.
Caius begged upon deaf ears for her to stop. He finally lay limp as his body hung from the iron rod. She drank from him one last time, and when she was finished, he was no longer of this world. Unbeknownst, Lilith had granted Caius refuge into the dark realm but at a great cost – that of his mortal soul to serve by her side for all eternity. Caius awoke in a violent frenzy, angered after having learned his fate, having been so viciously deceived and distraught over what had become of his beloved Inanna.
Meanwhile, three days had passed, and when neither Caius nor Inanna had returned, Lira sought Enlil, the god of the wind and air to assist her in retrieving Inanna and Caius. He refused her, “The underworld is not my domain I can not intervene.”
She sought Suenanna, goddess of the moon who also refused. Finally, as a measure of last resort, Lira reached out to HeKet, Lilith’s older sister and the goddess of magic, witchcraft, and necromancy. HeKet was a beautiful infernal divinity, regarded as a spectral being, at night sent from the underbelly of the Underworld demons who taught sorcery and witchcraft to those willing marks. She akin to her sister also drank the blood of the living – mortal men.
HeKet grieved by the knowledge of Lilith’s unsavory actions against their sister Inanna – yet so inconceivably touched at the love that Inanna had for her mere mortal husband, she agreed to help.
HeKet journeyed to the Underworld where she found her beloved sister’s rotting corpse hanging from the rod. From underneath her robe HeKet revealed her golden athamae, adorned with five uncut stones: a ruby, sapphire, emerald, diamond, and rare yellow diamond. She cut upon herself a gash above her breasts, and removed Inanna’s dried corpse from the wall, and brought her body to her breasts. Blood flowed into Inanna’s mouth and she awoke, sucking upon her sister’s breasts like an infant. Inanna screamed in agony as she drank and slowly transformed into her magnificent form. She grieved, and her cries were heard a far away as the heavens. For she believed her beloved Caius had seen a similar fate as she or a fate much worse than death.
Her thirst quenched, Inanna reemerged whole and she pleaded with HeKet to help retrieve her beloved Caius from the evil clutches her sister and return him to the world of mortals. Inanna understood her request would not come without a price, that she would be forever cursed to live within the realm of the Underworld. She did not care. Her life would have no meaning if Caius were not alive. In the end the price was that of her life, which she lovingly traded so he might return to the land of the living.
HeKet and Inanna went into the chamber of their evil sister and instructed her of their request. Lilith infuriated, as she had wanted Caius for herself. She cursed them both and would not release her hold of him. As retribution for such a request she struck Caius in the heart with the wooden stake that turned him into a corpse, as Inanna had once been. A grieve stricken Inanna, implored her to release Caius to the living world. “Take me, take me instead,” she begged, beseechingly.
“It is too late for him is dead.” Lilith screamed.
HeKet witnessing her sister’s actions, took within her hand that of her sacred athamae and struck it across her chest, releasing a magnificent flow of her blood. Within her other hand she held that of Caius’ head for which she bled into his mouth, forcing him to drink from her essence, knowing he would be forever cursed; nevertheless saving him so he could return to the land of mortals.
The arrangement consecrated in the eyes of Lilith and the entire Underworld. Inanna would stay forever in the dark realm so Caius could return to fulfill his destiny. “In time Caius your destiny will become known to you,” HeKet declared. “You may leave our world knowing that your soul is good, but because of what has transpired here you will suffer greatly. No longer will you walk as a mere mortal man, you leave immortal cursed with the taste and lust for blood of the living. Not only will you be cursed, but your children, and your children’s children and all of those of within your family bloodline will bear your curse. Each forced to live as blood daemons, their souls belonging to the underworld for all eternity.”
Lilith satisfied with the arrangement and she released her hold on Caius. He was free to return to the world of the living. Filled with tears and great sadness, Inanna would remain in her sister’s servitude for all eternity.
Not long after the floodwaters receded Caius returned to his land, and sought Noah to beg his forgiveness. Noah viewed his return as a sign from God as Caius’ return was foretold by Enoch. Enoch declared that a man would return from the dark world carrying with him a golden box of gems and bearing the sign of the ‘Mark One’. This man shall be called Thoth and he shall fulfill his destiny as one of the guardians of ancient knowledge and the language of the light, and serve as master over the House of Thoth. Nine son’s four daughters, a Marked One five shall be; thirteen cursed souls rulers of what to be of thee, five cursed watchers behold the key; until the sun becomes the moon, the key of one and three undone.”
Caius removed his robe to reveal an image burned on his right shoulder-blade deep into his skin, which depicted the Mark of Thoth and held in his hands the golden box full of five gems – a sapphire, diamond, ruby, emerald, and rarest of all the yellow diamond.
Hence, Noah bestowed upon Caius the name of Thoth the sign of the ibis, and as such he would serve his life as a scribe, holder of the ancient secrets, as foretold by his fathers. The scribes and those to follow would be protected in perpetuity until the end of time. It was written that those of true bloodline which carried the Mark of Thoth would be cursed to drink the blood of mortal beings, and in their final hours walk amongst the souls of the Underworld.”
Stephan’s eyes closed as he completed the story. My mind in disbelief as I had heard of the decent of Inanna in the mythical readings as a grad student, they could not be true. They were merely a myth. Question swirled in my head as it came to me. I finally had figured out what I was to learn. I needed to return to Saqqara even more desperately than before. Saqqara held the missing link to the puzzle. I was certain.
Our plane was mere minutes away from touching down in at its final destination. Stephan would not discuss the story or address my impending questions further. A strange sensation engulfed my body as we taxied down the runway to our gate. I surmised our secret was teetering on a fine line of discovery.