A Dialogue and the Choice before Death
“A miniature civilized world, with intelligent organisms the size of ants.”
Xu Zhi lowered his head to look at the intelligent species that had proliferated and evolved step by step. They were still within the size limit that he had imposed upon them. Looking at the tearful, white-haired old man, he felt somewhat pensive.
The young bugape who he had held in the palm of his hand all those years ago, the hot-blooded youth who stood at the top of the giant tree with the Sword of Damocles in his hand as he growled towards the sky, was now just an aging man waiting to die.
It seemed like only yesterday that he had been a youth with lofty aspirations and great ambitions, so hot-blooded and arrogant… And indeed, it was only two days ago.
What seemed like long, endless years to the bugapes were only a brief moment to Xu Zhi.
“Gilgamesh, how have you been all these years?” Xu Zhi whispered softly, his voice piercing through the vast layer of clouds and resounding throughout the entire prosperous Uruk Kingdom below him.
Gilgamesh was trembling all over as he gripped his holy sword.
“I… I’ve been well, I guess”
His throat was dry, he was thirsty, and his voice was hoarse as he looked up at this towering giant who reached up beyond the clouds.
Even though this was not the first time he had seen this giant, he was still dumbstruck by the magnificent sight before him. The ten-thousand-foot-tall giant was so massive that he pierced right through the clouds. His torso seemed to hold up the entire world, and a rich brilliance covered his face. There was a faint glimmer of light shining through the clouds, a hint of white and holy light. His majestic countenance could not be seen, but his eyes were visible amidst the clouds and were very deep.
This giant was looking down and surveying the entirety of Uruk City.
Stalwart, majestic, solemn, divine… No words in the world could possibly describe the astounding grandeur!
“It actually exists!”
The city’s entire population consisted of tens of millions of people. Merchants in leather suits, slaves in rags, ladies in long noble dresses,moners, and craftsmen all dropped their work. They walked out of their shops and houses and gathered on the streets where they stood and looked up at this towering giant who pierced right through the sky.
“The legendary Great Beast of Wisdom, the intelligent being that granted us civilization…”
“The huge giant that stands a thousand feet tall!”
“What a great and majestic existence this is, evenparable to the sun, moon, and stars in the sky!”
They were all immersed in shock and their minds went blank. Longing, awe, and shock – a myriad ofplex emotions intertwined that finally converged to be unparalleled admiration.
The surrounding court ministers were, likewise, also in shock. This made Gilgamesh burst out laughing as he was reminded of the first time he met the Great Beast of Wisdom. He had also experienced this feeling of being dumbstruck with astonishment.
After a moment of silence, Gilgamesh looked up with a yearning look in his eyes and said, “Great Beast of Wisdom, I have already aplished the mission you tasked me with over a hundred years ago when you handed me the legacy of civilization.”
Xu Zi was like a colossal giant who had traversed eternal time. His thundering voice penetrated the clouds and resounded throughout Uruk City. “The meritorious contributions and great achievements you have made will be recorded in the Sumerian epic that your people will write, The Genesis. You will be the first, and the greatest, king in Sumerian history. Hero King Gilgamesh, future generations will dedicate the hymns of history that they will write to you to sing your praises.”
“No. A thousand years of glory after death, living on in the epics that are passed on through word of mouth is not what I want.” Gilgamesh was suddenly very worked up.
“Then what do you want?”
“I want to be like you, to have eternal life.” Gilgamesh raised his head and looked up at the towering giant in the clouds. With great longing in his eyes, he said, “I’m willing to give up everything. I’m willing to give my all. Please let me have the Three Treasures of Immortality!”
Xu Zhi was silent.
Gilgamesh was the king who had practically everything he could ever ask for in this world: glory, women, power, and wealth. The world belonged to him, but he still was not satisfied.
Eternal life. Xu Zhi wanted it too!
Xu Zhi, terminally ill and on the verge of death at any moment, envied Gilgamesh’s glorious life, which was like a chapter from a great epic.
“Gilgamesh, you are too greedy. I don’t have the Three Treasures of Immortality.” Xu Zhi calmly looked down at this aging king who was approaching his final moments and said, “The birth and death of all creatures follow the Law of Nature. It is something even I cannot change.”
At the end of their life, who wouldn’t have the desire to live on?
At this point, Xu Zhi also seemed to be lamenting his own life.
At this very moment, identity and status held no significance, and they had traversed the scales of countless civilizations. Both he and Gilgamesh were just two pitiful creatures silently waiting for their impending death and both facing the same fear of what was toe.
It did not matter whether one was an emperor or an ant. Ultimately, everyone shared the same fate. From dust you came, and to dust you would return.
Xu Zhi suddenly wanted to say something.
I am just like you. I am also facing death.
However, he said nothing at all and simply looked down at the kingdom beneath him with mixed emotions.
Gilgamesh looked at the huge, holy face surrounded by clouds in the sky and barely managed to speak in a hoarse voice. “No, you’re lying. You can do it, you can clearly do it!!”
His eyes seemed to burn fervently as he looked at Xu Zhi’s sturdy and young body that was towering above him like lofty mountains. The giant looked as strong as rocks. More than two hundred long years had passed, and he had aged. But time had not left a single trace on the body of this great giant.
For the bugape, it seemed like they had first me only yesterday.
In Gilgamesh’s eyes, the Great Beast of Wisdom, being the most enigmatic of all intelligent species, had eternal life.
“What great power, what enviable longevity…”
Gilgamesh’s lips quivered, and his eyes were downcast. Then suddenly, he looked up and could not help but roar, “Then have youe in response to my call just so you can witness my death? Are you just here to see the end of my lowly and pitiful life as I die of old age while shivering in fear?”
“I havee to see you off, and I can’t extend your lifespan. I have alsoe to inaugurate the next handover of civilization as well as to deliver a warning.” Xu Zhi let out a sigh and said, “Your civilization is too brutal. You exterminate the lifeforms around you, destroy the forests, slaughter the giant beasts, and tramp on entire plots of lands. A true civilization is neither brutal nor barbaric, so I demand you stop your killings!”
Gilgamesh’s burly body had turned hoary, but he was still strong and robust. He suddenly trembled and his entire body shuddered. His eyes seemed ablaze with a flame that grew increasingly strong and intense as it burned away.
This white-haired old man took a sudden step forward.
“No, it’s impossible to put a stop to the killings. My footsteps also cannot be stopped! Do you know that for all these years, I’ve always felt like this Sword of Damocles that you have given me is suspended high above my head? It has given me great strength, but it has also brought me iparable fear… And today, I am going to pull down this sword that has been hovering above my head with my own hands!”
“I’m here.” The historian who was in charge of writing andpiling the content of ‘The Genesis’, stepped forward.
“Record this very moment in the history of our civilization. I’ll talk and you’ll write.” Gilgamesh’s tone was firm and resolute.
Akkad silently picked up his quill from the red table, spread out a gray scroll made of animal skin parchment, and said, “Your Majesty, you may begin speaking.”
“The history of man’s struggle against nature is a history of courage and hymns. My original purpose in ordering ‘The Genesis’ to bepiled was so that the future generations would know their history, and also to allow them to understand the courage that our ancestors have shown in their struggle against nature.”
“Now, let history record the courage that I show at this moment.”
Gilgamesh let out a heavy, ragged breath. Leaning his aged body against the Sword of Damocles, he let out a low laugh and began to explain.
“Era of Genesis, year 175 of the Sumer Dynasty. After slaying the most powerful beast in history, the legendary beast, Finba, the Hero King, Gilgamesh, who had sealed his sword for more than a hundred years, struck again. Calling on the strength of the entire nation, he lured the Great Beast of Wisdom, who was high above him, into making an appearance. He was prepared to wield his sword and slay the Great Beast of Wisdom!”
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