Shaking with apparent fear, the man fell to his knees, wondering if it would be his last day of life.
“What is this? What have you brought before me?” the emperor asked.
“I...I...have been commissioned to give this to you…as an indication of the morale within the army units, my lord,” exclaimed the messenger.
“Bring it to me,” the emperor demanded from one of his guards.
Taking the object, the emperor examined it with growing anger and a deep-seated knot of anxiety upon his countenance.
“Who gave this to you?”
“My commanding officer, my lord, General Adad Buvalu Shalman-Hu-Asir. He asked me to give it to you as an indication of the sickness that sweeps the Assyrian army. He implores your majesty to give him direction. This ring belonged to the officer Rab-Suna Mindroos. It demonstrates his complicity in the revolt by the slave army contingent that rebelled and fled south towards the sea above the land of Akkad, my lord.”
The emperor fingered the ring with growing fear, knowing the full implications of a mutinous rebellion upon his empire by the slaves and commanding officers. It would spell the end of the Assyrian hegemony and his rule.
Babylon once again was asserting its lust for empire, demanding more autonomy, pushing for more control over its army and less involvement in its political and economic affairs. Elam continued to send incursions into Assyrian lands just south of Nineveh, compounding the precarious position in which Assyria found itself.
Assyria survived to this day because of its ruthless will to dominate and partition Mesopotamia and its people under both his ancestors’ and his right to rule. The situation was not something to ignore it must be dealt with and in the most severe manner possible, or his days would be numbered. ”Ashur would approve,” he thought.
“Take this ring back and tell the general to conduct full investigations and execute any and all individuals complicit in this rebellion, as an example of justice and Assyria’s steadfast conviction in its right to empire,” Ashur-dan I, Emperor of Assyria, stated as he turned away from the messenger, gesturing for his military council to follow him.
Ashur-dan I dismissed The General Court of Decision, and the messenger took his leave with a sigh of relief, quickly vacating the throne room, a small smile of satisfaction creeping upon his mouth as he hung his head down in demonstrated subservience. Once outside the emperor’s palace, he quickly gathered up his horse and necessary equipment for the long ride back to the Assyrian army’s field division assembled 181 leagues to the southwest of Nineveh. It would take him five days to arrive, so he had a lot of time to contemplate how to deliver the message effectively.
The emperor and his military council, meanwhile, gathered in the war chamber to discuss the disturbing news.
“Rebellion? What is this rebellion I keep hearing about?” asked Ashur-dan I as he put his palms on the edge of the table and looked intently at his realm carved onto a calfskin draped over it.
“My emperor, a division of soldiers 1,000 strong has left the army and is heading south; it seems, towards the Sea of Akkad where the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers converge. We dispatched a contingent of the best soldiers and pursued them. We met the division in battle, 27 leagues, west of the Tigris River, confronting them with your personal viz’ir to negotiate their surrender. However, it seems the army contingent was unsuccessful both diplomatically and militarily,” the unfortunate army commander reported.
“It seems a substantial number of men within the contingent defected to the mutinous side and assisted the fleeing slaves, hence the Assyrian contingent was wiped out or taken captive to the man. This ring you have points towards a contingent commander within the army behind the mutinous defection of our pursuing soldiers. This rot will ultimately be cut out, my emperor. This contingent commander will be executed as an example to any others who doubt Assyria’s resolve.”
“Where is this rabble now?” the emperor asked.
“Our spies indicate they are heading southeast towards the Zagroth mountain range, perhaps to flee within the mountain range itself to lose themselves to our scouts and spies.”
“Are the Babylonians aware of this situation?”
“We have not informed them as of yet, my lord.”
“We will take care of the escaped slaves ourselves. No need to let the Babylonians know of this, especially now that they are pushing for more political, economic and military autonomy,” Ashur-dan I commanded.
“Yes, my lord. We will keep in pursuit with our scouts and spies to determine their final destination and report back to you for further direction, my emperor.”
“Now, what are we to do with these impetuous Babylonians and Elamites? They continue to push our goodwill even to the point of raiding our border villages.” Ashur-dan I sighed and sat down on his stool at the head of the table, waiting while the rest of his council seated and organized themselves to brief him on his empire.
Ashur-dan I was a man of sophisticated rational and emotional makeup. He was a man of excellent detail and yet able to fashion the top-down macro overview of a situation with extreme dexterity. To the amazement of his counselors and military commanders, he could pull the disparate parts of his empire into a cohesive working machine envied by all the surrounding kingdoms, principalities and tribes without losing control or touch of his subjects and slaves. Administering the empire bore a tremendous amount of responsibility on his part to the point, for that period, of exacting savage brutality and reprisal on those that did not obey or conform to the Assyrian hierarchy.
The creases of stress and concern laid their paths across his brow with an ever-expanding trail of age. Ashur-dan I loved his empire and his people, contrary to popular belief. He took his oath of office seriously, not like some of his ancestors, but instead faithfully carried out his father’s wish that the empire expanded, strengthened and brought to a height of envy by all people, tribes, and nations.
He sighed again and leaned forward on his stool, resting his chin on his hands and looked around the table at his counselors, wondering if they had what it took to keep this rebellion at bay. He looked once again at the map as a small knot of fear slowly climbed up from the deepest parts of his soul to lodge itself firmly onto his mind. He could keep it off his countenance so as not to alarm any of his subordinates, but nonetheless there it sat, gleefully playing with his nervous anxiety and exhausted stress.
He knew if something drastic did not intervene soon, the Empire would be at serious risk. Therefore, he leaned back and asked the question everyone was dreading.
“Do we need to purge our commanding ranks, and are we ready to go to war against Babylon and Elam?”