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“Where can we find the high priest?”

The old man spoke to a wizened old hag, ancient eyes opaque and sightless, sitting against the wall beside a stall selling pottery wares.

She had a pipe and was smoking some ill smelling brew, no doubt homemade, powerful enough to bring tears to the eyes if you got caught in one of her hacking exhalations of smoke.

“Who wants to know?” she said, spitting a stream of dark liquid into the dirt beside him.  “You got a reason to talk to him?  He’s a busy man.”

The old man made no reply.  One of his companions indicated the temple and said, “Let’s go and ask someone in there.”

“He ain’t in there,” the old woman said, then indicated with her head at the tower.  “He’s way up there.  Nigh unto heaven.  Seems they all getting ready for a big event tonight.”

“What event?”

“They gonna open up heaven or something.  Makes no never mind to me so long as I have my pipe and a bit of something once ´n a while.”

“Thank you, grandmother.  I guess we’ll have to make our way up there, then.”

“Grandmother, is it?  Nobody’s dared call me that for a long time.”  She paused for a second and then seemed to make a decision.  “You be careful of that there Sargon character.  Full of himself, he is and he ain’t got no right to be, if you know what I mean.”

“I think I do.”

“Everyone’s expect’n something for nothing these days, as if all our troubles are gonna go once we open up that there gateway.  Suppose you’re no different.”

“We’ll soon find out.”

The old woman thought about that for a moment.  Then she laughed. “I guess that’s right,” she said.  “It surely is.  They’ll soon find out.  Maybe more than they bargained for.”  Then she scowled and looked up in the direction of the old man’s voice.  “Sargon and that high priest now, they got plans.  Don’t you be getting in their way or nothing.  It’ll just bring a load of grief.  There ain´t no give and take with them.  No way.  Hard men they are.”

The old man turned away, looking up at the tower thoughtfully.  He walked over to his donkey and loosened a sack and threw it to the dirt beside the old woman.  She looked up startled.

“Thanks for the advice,” the old man said.  “That’s a bit of something for you.”

“Obliged,” the old woman said, and then she hacked and spat again but this time it landed on her own sandaled foot and she swore under her breath.  The old man and his two companions had already turned away, headed for the tower in search of answers.

*****

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The Tower of Babel by Bert A. Amsing.  Used with Permission.
Excerpt from Tears of the Desert Warrior by Bert A. Amsing.
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers.  All rights reserved.
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