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From the ebook – The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter

Frontis

We lived for a whole moon in Babylon, my master Zabulun and I, before the danger that was greater than the danger that is upon me now showed itself to me. Just before the hour of the market we would go through the streets of the city and toward the great market place. Throngs of people would be there, gathered together for buying or selling, or for talk of the happenings of the day before. My master would take me to a shady place, and we would sit there, resting or refreshing ourselves with draughts of the wine of the palm.

And Zabulun would tell me that the King we had spoken with was the most foolish King who had ever ruled over Babylon. “Great and terrible he seems when he sits upon his throne in his palace,” Zabulun would say, “but for all that he is foolish, and he delights more to come into the market and hear the talk of strangers than to sit in his council chamber.”

Again and again Zabulun would speak of the King, and he would say: “Often he comes here, and he sits in the market place and talks with all comers, which is against the customs of the Kings of Babylon. We will see him come here, and we will watch him do what is reported of him.”

Seated in the market in a shady place I would watch the throngs that moved about there. I saw the merchants who had come down the river in such round boats as we had voyaged in. They brought casks of the wine of the palm to the market. And I saw those who had come from Arabia with spices, and my master would tell me how these spices had been gathered. Some had frankincense that grows on trees that are guarded by winged serpents. Only with smoke of burning styrax could they drive the serpents from the trees. And others had cassia that is found in a shallow lake guarded by fierce, bat-like creatures. To gather it men have to cover themselves all over with the hides of cattle, leaving openings for their eyes only. And there are the merchants who have the ladanum that settles on low bushes, and that sticks to the beards of he-goats that go amongst the bushes. Others have the cinnamon that is used by birds to build their nests against high cliffs. Men cannot climb these cliffs to gather the sticks of cinnamon, but they make the birds bring into their nests such weights as break the nests down and so strew on the ground the sticks of cinnamon. They slaughter cattle under the cliffs, and the birds fly into their nests with great pieces of the meat, and the weight of these pieces of meat breaks down the nests. And so men gather cinnamon in Arabia.

And one day my master showed me the King of Babylon as he came into the market place.

He wore a black cloak that had only one stripe of purple in it, and a boy went beside him holding an Indian hound in a leash. Having come into the market the King seated himself in a special place, and he drank wine and ate honey cakes, and talked with the strangers that were brought before him, and let himself be gaped at by throngs of people. And then, from one to another of those who were around him, my master and I heard it said, “The King, surely, has had remarkable dreams.”

In three days my master was sent for by the King, and he came into the palace again bringing me with him, and he was saluted as a Magus. The King’s dreams were told to him. The first dream was of a drinking cup that blazed with fire, and the second dream was of a ram-headed man with golden horns, and the third dream was of a soldier in a black cloak. All those dreams, according to those in the palace who considered dreams, were of a treasure. Zabulun, my master, agreed that assuredly they were of a treasure, knowing that whatever the King dreamed of after he had put the thought of a treasure into the minds of those in the palace would be thought to be of that and of nothing else.

Then speaking as a Magus he told them that the blazing fire of the drinking cup, the golden horns on the ram-headed man, and the blackness of the soldier’s cloak all signified the Tower of Babylon. The King and the ancient dwarf became very silent when my master spoke of the tower.

Chapter 5

It was then that the Enchanter took the staff that was made of two serpents twisting together into his right hand, and declared that in order to make the dream of the tower cease to trouble him, the King should sacrifice a black cock in the lowest place of the tower.

Wine was brought us then, and my master and I drank, and this time no bitterness had been put into the wine. We were given permission to go, and we went from the palace.

As for the King and the ancient dwarf who was with him, they took horses and they rode to the Tower of Babylon, the dwarf bringing with him a black cock for the sacrifice. Harut and Marut, the sleeping guardians of Babylon, they looked on, but they went past them and within the tower. In the lowest place in the tower they made preparations for the sacrifice of the black cock.

Zabulun and I sat in the market place and waited, for my master said to me, “That which happens to the King, no matter how great it may be, he will speak of it in the market. We shall wait here and see if the King will come here on his way back from the tower.”

So in the market place we sat, my master and I. And in the tower the King and the ancient dwarf took the black cock and fastened him by a leg to a ring that was in a very light board in the floor. The cock, fluttering upward, lifted the board. Looking down they saw a chamber beneath. They went down into that chamber, the King and the ancient dwarf, and behold! they found in it a treasure of silver pieces, each piece marked with the mark of a King of the old times in Babylon.

Soon Zabulun, seated in the shade in the market place, showed me the King and the ancient dwarf as they came amongst the throng. The King seated himself in his special place and drank wine and ate cakes of honey. My master, watching him from afar, knew that he talked about the treasure he had found. For the dwarf who went with him opened a leather bag and showed certain pieces that made those around them gape in wonder.

Not long were the King and the ancient dwarf there before the Hour of the Market came to its close. Those in the market left and went to their homes. My master and I likewise departed. But those who had listened to the King brought with them the memory of the wonder they had been told about. A treasure was hidden beneath the tower—that was the thought that now possessed every one. And when dusk had fallen upon the city companies of men made their way toward the tower, carrying with them spades and mattocks. The next day, when the King came with the ancient dwarf, he found that all around the tower, and all around the place where Harut and Marut slept, trenches and holes had been dug.

He himself, with a company of men, went down into the lower chamber where the treasure of silver pieces had been found, and there they began to delve. The King found no treasure that day.

When he came out of the lower chamber he found many around the tower digging and delving. He forbade them to do this, and he set guards around the tower. But in the night those who were set to guard the tower began to delve.

The digging and delving within and around the tower went on in secret as well as openly. My master took me to show me what was being done. “Foolish is the King, and foolish are the people of Babylon,” he said. “What I have told you will befall them. Very soon they will strike at the foundations of the tower, and the tower will stand no more. Then will I take to myself the Magic Mirror, and make myself the master of the Babylonians.”

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BATTE-Cover

From “The King of Babylon” – from The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter

ISBN: 9788835366966

DOWNLOAD LINK: http://bit.ly/2v2DzDP

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KEYWORDS/TAGS: Boy apprenticed to an Enchanter, action, mystery, adventure, intrigue, Eean, Zabulun, Merlin, magician, bird of gold, bramble gatherer, daughter, son, fisherman, King Manus, horses, steal, theft, Tower of Babylon, Genii, defiance, quest, seek, Chiron the Centaur, Hermes Trismegistus, master, helpmeet, magic, Island of the White Tower, defeat, western ocean, final, battle, journey, voyage, expedition, conjuror, mission, hunt, apprentice, novice, story, tale, midsummer,