Illumination

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Abbadon

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“The Soviets destroyed this place, and you helped them.” The Kazakh fisherman replied sternly to the representative currently standing on his front porch.
“You drained the water and left us to choke on the dust. I will have nothing to do with you.” The man attempted to slam the dust-smeared wooded door to his shack, but the representative jammed his boot into the crack and leaned closer.
“What you’re saying is rather unwise, I recommend that you re-think your perspective. The unitary judiciary is not as kind-hearted as I.” Boris said. “Should you choose to sign the papers and enter into a contract with us, you shall be fully reimbursed for the value of the property and a portion of any substantial natural gas revenue discovered on it. I think, Mr. Akzhurek, that you would appreciate the size of that portion.”
The fisherman glared back through the crack of the door.
“How can I trust you?”
“My word is my bond, Mr. Akzhurek, and many of your neighbors and even your relatives can speak highly of what my company has done for the region. The curse on this land is not our sin, but we invest our time and energy into it as a form of penance. So please, look over the papers.”
The fisherman slowly opened the door again and reached out with a calloused and worn hand to grasp the manila envelope of the representative.
“I guarantee you will not be disappointed.” The Russian said, tipping his hat before turning back into the wind that swept across the lakebed-turned-desert and fastening his overcoat. “An associate of mine will return tomorrow for your answer and we will proceed accordingly. Good day.”
A typical day in the life of Boris, one kept behind lies and inconsistencies regarding either a non-existent natural gas company or a toxic waste clean-up operation. The former pleased the impoverished locals, the latter satisfied the appetite of the government. To be completely fair, there would be excavations occurring, just not for chemical remnants or fossil fuels. Boris and his associates were looking for a crypt, a buried mausoleum on an island now sitting amongst a sea of sand.
To most historians, the tomb did not exist, a mere legend of the steppes and deserts that could not be substantiated by the historical record. To Boris’ organization, the tomb was very real and contained treasures greater than gold, silver, jade, or porcelain. His name was Ronahi and he was a devoted mystic in the court of the great conqueror Tamerlane, whose empire had stretched across central Asia. According to texts recovered by a surveying team in Kurdistan, Ronahi had worked fantastical wonders for Tamerlane, allegedly supernatural wonders. This piqued the interest of Boris’s clients and they had not only commissioned him to assemble a team to locate and excavate the site, but also spoke of the alleged mysteries surrounded Ronahi. It was said that he died shortly after Tamerlane himself, although it cannot be said if it was of natural causes or if he was murdered by those who feared him. The Kurdish texts referred to Ronahi as being buried alongside his knowledge, which Boris interpreted as being buried alongside his work. If the tomb was buried and conditions proper, then the texts should be perfectly preserved. He did not explicitly believe in the supernatural but was confident that such texts from the period would do rather nicely at auction should they find a proper bidder. His superiors had already generously supplied him with several million US dollars nestled away in an offshore account. There would be plenty more if he delivered.
Over a period of six weeks multiple excavation sites were surveyed and attended to, without results. Boris knew that such an undertaking took time, that while the island was small, the tomb was even smaller. His superiors were growing ever more impatient with him. As he sat beside a fire burning on the sands, Boris worried that somehow the cover would be blown, that the bribes would eventually not satisfy the local government and the operation would be exposed. How unfortunate that would be.
A rising cry from over the rocks and sand dunes drew his attention back from the recesses of his mind.
“Sir, we’ve found it! We found it!” Some saying it in Russian, others in Uzbek or Kazakh.
Boris quickly made his way up the rocky embankments of the former shores of the island and found the site, surrounded by about a dozen members of his digging team. A black hole had opened into the earth and under the penetrating beam of the flashlights, the gleam of white marble could be seen.
“Quickly, open it wider. Get the larger torches and spotlights. Suit up!” Boris yelled out, clapping his hands as the team scattered. Boris knelt by the entrance and looked more carefully at the exposed marble and other stone granite etchings marked into the walls of the tomb. He could not quite make out what was said upon them, but he would leave that job to the translators.
Soon the preparations were finished, and the team began to slowly trickle inside. They had broken into the antechamber of the tomb, a holding room for funeral processions. What they were looking for lay behind a great marble door set upon lead pilings. After close examination, Boris decided that the door did not need to be breached and could instead be opened with the proper application of force. What sat above the door also caught his eye. A magnificent golden peacock set with jewels in the metallic feathers and one ruby red eye gazed over the entire chamber. Tawuse Melek, Yazidi Angel and Demiurge, greatest of the seven mysteries and the most powerful being in all His creation next to God himself. At least, that was what the legends said.
Tawuse Melek was a controversial entity, decried by Muslims and Christians as representative of Iblis or Lucifer as he was allegedly an Angel that would not bow and serve Man. The Yazidi kept their religion secretive due to prosecution by the Abrahamic faiths. Tawuse Melek was represented by the peacock based upon the ancient belief that the flesh of the bird did not decay after death and that it was an immortal creation. Tawuse Melek, the impartial arbiter of humanity, bequeathed the ability to provide wealth and curses onto man in the name of God. A being that most individuals in both the West and East did not even know existed anymore, divine figure of a faith kept to the shadows and whispers of the sands. Boris had researched the native traditions of the Kurdistan region, but had been under the assumption that Ronahi must have been a convert to Islam to be in the presence of Tamerlane. No wonder Ronahi was so controversial, a perceived devil-worshipper in the court of a Sunni conqueror. This encouraged Boris, because it meant that Ronahi’s personal literature must have been of extreme value for Tamerlane to keep him in the public eye. This could only increase the value of the texts in auction.
With a low-pitched roar the door to the tomb slowly opened. Stagnant air flushed out into the antechamber and flashlights were quickly raised. Boris was the first to creep forward, he had to see for himself what treasures lie ahead.
“It’s nothing, empty.” Boris said in shock at the state of the room. Great white marble walls, ceilings, even the floor, but not a single object in the room. The eight-figure bonus to his account had just gone up in smoke. Boris despondently walked forward deeper into the room, looking for something, anything. A secret panel or latch, a pressure pad. But nothing. Boris stood silently for several minutes, his flashlight acutely angled to the ground as he planned out his next move. Something was wrong, but it wasn’t what was in the room. Boris didn’t hear anything, not a single word from his workers. He turned around to find that none had followed him into the room.
The scene in the antechamber tore apart all of Boris’ conceptions regarding reality as he gazed upon the piles of dust that had once been his excavation team. Tattered clothing was mixed in among the sand and flecks of bone. A dozen flashlights, half-buried in the sand, were all angled toward Boris. No, not toward him, above him. Boris glanced up to see a dark outline where the peacock had been etched into the wall. The fragments of gold and jewels in front of him made him realize that something had broken through the façade of the statue. Then, one by one, each flashlight slowly turned off.

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