The midday sun bore down upon my shoulders, the dry dust swirled around my feet, my throat parched with a thirst that was not entirely due to the dry heat. My precious child would be dead soon without medicine, and the money required by the temple priest was beyond my means. I paused in the shade, thinking over my options. As her father, I had to chose, and quickly. I could steal, but if caught I would be dead, and so would she. I could try and take what money I had and gamble it on the chance of winning more. Or, I could break into the temple and attempt to find the medicine the priest of Bel so fiercely protected. Of course, finding the medicine and knowing the dose would be another challenge, one that I would once again gamble my daughters life on.
I bowed my head, offering a curse, or a prayer to anybody listening. How could the gods not care about us? Did they enjoy seeing people in misery? A shadow moved near the side of my head, and I turned to observe a being cloaked in black from head to toe, their face shadowed by the hood. Startled I stepped back, while part of my mind wondered how they were even walking in this heat.
"Come to the stone in the fork of the trail, in the high pass of the mountain, at dusk, if you wish the means to heal your daughter" rasped a leathery voice. Swirling in a mist of dust and clouds they vanished from my sight, leaving me wondering what had just happened. It was possible, not probable mind you, that a priest had heard of my plight, and felt some sympathy. Well, then again it would almost have to be a priest, because none other knew of my plight.
I returned to the small room I was renting in the city of Elam to look in on my daughter. Her mother had vanished 5 years ago without a trace, and my precious angel had never recovered. The midwife who watched her looked up, her eyes sad, knowing the end was near. I shook my head at the unspoken question and sat holding my daughters hand. Even in the heat, it was cold. I was losing her as well, and there was nothing I could do, except travel to the standing stone.
I looked at the midwife, asked her to watch her through the night, that I had one more attempt to make. She merely looked at me, nodded her head, and went about making my daughter as comfortable as she could.
The stone was a good three hours walk from Elam, and the day was half spent, I would need to begin my travel immediately. I grabbed a few wine skins, filled them with water from the town well, grabbed a loaf of overpriced dry bread and began my journey.
As the evening drew near, the oppressive sun began to set, and the temperature began to become more bearable. I was nervous, scared, and hoping I hadn't sacrificed my daughters life on a priest sick sense of humor..I arrived at the stone shortly before dusk, and settled in to wait. A short period of time later, a shape detached itself from beside the stone and glided towards me.
"I am pleased to see you came, I can use one as hopeful and full of love and determination as you", the cloaked figure spoke.
"My daughter, can you truly heal her?" I asked, hope making my voice quake and quiver. "Of course, hence this meeting. However, the medicine does not come cheap, and will require a sacrifice on your part. And trust. You must accept to the price, before receiving the medicine"
"What is this price? I do not have much money." I replied. Depression began to set in as doubt filled my mind.
The figure spoke without hesitation, "The price will be collected at a future time and date, unspoken now. I will give you the medicine, you can cure your daughter, and at some point in the future I will return to collect my fee. How much do you love your daughter?"
I looked at the figure, drew a deep breath, and replied "Enough to agree. The cure for a price of your choosing at a future time."
The figure extended its hand towards me, and I shook its hand, feeling a shiver coil its way to my feet. In its other hand was a vial which it handed me. After I received the vial, while looking at it I noticed the figure had vanished. I also noticed blood trickling from my palm, and a very faint symbol glowed on my palm briefly, then vanished.
Pocketing the vial, I turned and ran back to Elam, knowing time was of the essence. Reaching my daughters side, I opened her mouth, and gently poured the contents of the vial in her mouth. The results were instantaneous. A gentle glow surrounded her and her eyes snapped open. Or I assume they did, mine were full of tears as I grabbed her and held her close, whispering her name over and over.
I awoke some time later to the sight of my daughter walking across the floor. I smiled and stood up and she bounded over to me, wrapping me up in a hug. She told me she loved me, and that she was going to get some sun and be back soon. I smiled, watching her leave, full of life and energy. As she walked out, a whisper from the dark corner of the room revealed itself as the mysterious figure. I turned, as it walked towards me.
"The time is come for my price. Meet me at the edge of the oasis at dusk, alone." With those words it turned and left again. I began to feel nervous about this, now that the time was near, I was unsure what would be required of me. I rose, dressed my self and went looking for my daughter. I found her beside the well, drinking some water, simply vibrant with life. Walking over, I put my arm around her shoulders, and was rewarded with a smile. It was worth it, I told myself, no matter the cost.
As dusk approached, I left for the oasis alone. As I neared, a fire sprang up near the shore of the oasis, then another, and another. Five fires total. I walked nearer and saw a bundled shape on a stone in the middle of the fires, the cloaked figure standing at the north of the stone.
"My price is as follows. Take the knife, stab the bundle where the mark is, and walk away".
I gulped, then convinced myself the bundle was an animal, surely not a human. I walked forward, took the knife, turned, raised it over my head, and plunged it towards the bundle. In the instant before the blade struck, the figure tore the cloak off the bundle, and my wife lay revealed on the stone, eyes open, staring at me, as I plunged the knife into her heart. A terrible scream of rage erupted from me, and I turned towards the cloaked figure and swung the knife. Rage and pain filled me. Having found my wife, then killing her in the same heartbeat. As my knife approached the shadow figure, my wife's body jerked, and rose up. My step faltered and I turned and looked at her. Laughter split the air as her hair turned a fiery red, her eyes slanting slightly , so alluring, her teeth, her teeth extending into fangs such as on a wild animal.
"Mortal, I come to thee, I thank thee, for thou hath unbound me from my prison." My wife said. I stepped back, stammering, "Who are you? What do you want?"
Smiling, floating, my wife flowed above the stone. "My darling, I am Lilith. And you have bound yourself to me, with blood and deed, to make my will upon the people of this planet." Fangs extended, she leapt for me. I remember the blood leaving my throat, then sensual darkness surrounded me.
I awoke in the darkness, yet could see as well as if it was day. There was within me a thirst, that had nothing to do with the dry, arid, desert heat.