A Promise Made
(1221 BC Earth Time)
The caravan moved out with surprisingly organized chaos. Dust filled the air along with the bellowing of the oxen and grunting of the camels. They protested their indignation at being driven along with kicks to their ribs and whips to their rumps.
It was a sweltering day, scorching for even the most hardened Bedouin and Persian alike. Syria was to the west and Babylon to the east with deserts, bandits, and scorpions in the middle. It was a wasteland of antiquity that beckoned only the most intrepid souls looking for riches along the most famous of roads—the silk road of the east. Silks and spices from the Medes, the Persians, the Assyrians, and the Chaldeans converged in Babylon for further transfer to the west via this road, eventually arriving in Tyre.
A man and his wife were traveling with their collected companions, heading toward the seaport of Tyre—the gateway to the west of the Chaldean Empire. Having journeyed for nearly a full moon cycle, they were desperate to reach Tyre and settle down to a stable life of leather-making and raising a family.
Choking on the dust and trying to shield his eyes from the sun, the man strained to look ahead of the oxen to no avail. A cloud of dust obscured his vision to within the length of the lead ox. The noise was deafening, and the stench of sweat and animal dung clung heavily in the air. After wiping the sweat from his brow, the man continued to try to determine what was happening at the head of the column because it seemed the caravan was slowing to a crawl.
Running the length of the column, a cry went up—a cry of warning and despair. People started running for their lives as dark-cloaked men on horses swept in from all sides, cutting down anyone foolish enough to resist them.
The man reached up for his wife’s hand to pull her off the cart and put his arm around her, shielding her from any wild swings of death.
“Lydia, we must leave the wagon now,” Eschkta said, smiling to help Lydia stay calm.
“What is going on? Why have we slowed? There is so much dust, I cannot see,” Lydia said with a tremble on her lips. She extended her hand and grasped Eschkta’s to disembark quickly.
“I think it is raiders. We must run and hide, my love. Please, keep up with me.”
“Yes, yes, I am right behind you.”
Running as fast as they were able, with the fear of death chasing them across the small plain toward the mountains, Eschkta and Lydia went unnoticed for a few moments until three men on horseback began to take up the chase. Eschkta looked over his shoulder and realized the raiders were approaching swiftly. Understanding he and Lydia would not be able to get away, Eschkta stopped running and positioned Lydia behind him.
Dropping to his knees, Eschkta looked skyward and evoked a prayer of promise with trembling lips and deep creases of fear running across his forehead. It was a prayer of such intensity it quietly shouted across entangled dimensions to be heard far beyond his understanding, and answered in ways he could never appreciate or witness. He implored the gods to see to their safety and eventual escape, promising he would devote his firstborn to them; giving his first child in service to them. He lifted his arms up into the air in an emotional appeal as the raiders swiftly approached. As soon as he finished with the prayer, a light of immense intensity blocked out the sun, temporarily blinding the two of them and knocking them to the ground.
Upon reviving, Eschkta groggily opened his eyes to semi-darkness. After letting his eyes adjust to the gloom, he found himself in a cave with stalactites dripping water onto stalagmites and down into a pool of clear water just within his eyesight. Lydia lay next to him, sleeping with the rhythmic breaths of deep sleep, hopefully dreaming of quieter times. After slowly raising himself up to survey his surroundings and quiet his disruptive anxiety, Eschkta moved about the cave, inspecting the enclosure. He walked toward the entrance and discovered they were high up on a cliff overlooking a valley of green trees and meadows. The sun was just rising over a mountain range to his left, casting long strands of light down into the valley spread out in front of him, announcing a new day.
It was here that Eschkta and Lydia lived until five new moons had passed, and it was here the product of their love came into conception. Lydia shone with pleasure, and Eschkta basked in his wife’s happiness; each of them was grateful to the gods for their continued well-being.