Gentle breezes carried the sweet watery scent of the Euphrates to his bedroom. Gilgamesh lay on the wooden couch and stared out to rows of golden brick houses and temples that hid the suffering of the people underneath the glamour. His brilliant light burnt them to ashes. That… beast, Enkidu, was born from mud and god’s breath for him. And what a beast it was! Am I mad to declare that? he wondered, a rapid dog as my equal?
When he reached over for his rings and bracelets, Gilgamesh swore he heard another rib crack. How many did that make? Fourteen? Fifteen? Physicians quickly hovered over him, armed with myriad of medicinal herbs. He only rolled his eyes at the fuss. The king was indubitably sore, covered in cuts and ghastly bruises. But the worst had passed. Against feeble protests, Gilgamesh swept a long, plain sash over his shoulder and walked out as if his wounds did not ache with every graceful step he took. The king never did well staying in bed all day even if there were women and wine.
—H-hold him down!
—Shit, it bit me!
On the other side of the private quarters, a great cacophony of crashing objects and shrieking men and girls echoed down the long corridors. Shredded bandages and blankets were scattered all over the floor, spotted in red. Soiled water splashed right across his bare feet as he entered the chamber. The bronze bowl rolling aimlessly until it hit the wall where the bloody washcloth splattered.
“I’d rather you not destroy this palace too. I like this one.” Gilgamesh’s voice cut through the clamour. A hush fell over the room. The head physician then threw himself at the king’s feet before sitting back up, his arms waving about desperately.
Your Radiance! This is—well, it’s a bit difficult b-but—! We’re doing the best we c—!
“Leave us. All of you.” Gilgamesh commanded. Servants bowed and obeyed silently, averting their eyes, while the guards hesitated. When the room emptied, the king took a seat almost immediately and did all he could not to grunt in pain. His bones cracked again. His head throbbed and he felt nauseous. All that was left were the splotches of green to surface with the bruise purple. Healing was always ugly.
Ruby eyes glowered at Enkidu, their back still turned to him, showing off their own bruises and welts. Such a small body, he mused, remembering the grotesque claws and bizarre, fleshy weapons that tore through their skin when Enkidu transformed. “You destroyed a third of my city, hundreds are on the streets. The plaza must be reconstructed first lest the markets stop opening, leaving more to starve.” Gilgamesh said deadpan then chuckled scornfully. “And yet you refuse to be treated when a child would kill for bandages? Hah, you’ve a cold heart.”
The feeling of cool water on her tongue brought the girl back to her senses. Groggily taking the large, clay jug into her own hands, she quickly gulped down the rest as her caretakers looked on in awe. With a loud, satisfied gasp, the girl set aside the container. Now refreshed, Enkidu groaned softly and stirred amongst the silken sheets. The King of Heroes had lived up to expectations; his armory was boundless and his strength rivaled the Gods who’d created her. And yet, when they stood toe to toe at the end, they’d collapsed in unison as equals.
The ache in her bones was dull, but a sharp pain shot along her spine with each movement. Her skin was bruised and tender; her face swollen and purple. Dressings covered her tightly, from head to toe and she’d been dressed in fresh robes. The girl stroked green strands aside and looked curiously to the strangers that surrounded her. It was clear that they were not here of their own free will; not with looks that varied from disdain to fear. Hoping to ease the tension, the beast offered a wide, toothy grin. “Please, do not worry for me! Sore I might be, but I’m none the worse for wear.”
Every person present gasped in reply. They’d not imagined she’d awaken any time soon, let alone speak. Surprise was to be expected. With no time to waste, Enkidu slid from the bed. Hesitant at first, four men quickly made to restrain their patient. The girl uttered a low, guttural growl as they laid hands on her. As she attempted to tear away, her vision had doubled. Her limbs felt light and her mind clouded. “What… What did you do to me?” She snarled, knees buckling.
At a loss, she bit the appendages in warning. The men yelped like children, but did release their hold. It was unfortunate for them that the girl was far more relentless when provoked. Shattering tile beneath her feet with a powerful stomp, the Enkidu used all of her strength to fling two men over her shoulders. They hit the floor, crashing into and destroying supplies. One after another, guards and physicians suffered the same fate. In less than a minute, the room was thrashed – bandages lay scattered, jars were destroyed and medicinal liquids coated the floor.
Stepping back in a spotty daze, Enkidu watched as the assistants scrambled away like startled cattle. With no one to stop her, she staggered groggily towards a doorway. But a proud, powerful voice called all to attention; even the girl stilled. Enkidu looked to the king who now entered with head held high – no weakness visible in his countenance. Imposing and glorious, his words sent both guards and healers scurrying away. Scoffing, the little beast turned from him and folded arms across sore chest.
Gilgamesh’s words wounded her more than his weaponry had. Shame lit her eyes as she looked to her chapped hands; hands that had taken homes from the people of Uruk. “Take the bandages and give them to your people.This body will heal. I do not need your pity, or your attempt at guilt.” With a sigh, her voice became soft; the drug in her system was taking its toll now. “It was never my intention to cause such destruction…”
Enkidu frowned, eyes narrowing as she gazed forward. “Had you been more just in your own choices, my presence would have never been necessary. Consider this a lesson to those who choose to look down upon the people they should be raising up.” She paused and turned to face him on unsteady feet. Curious violet eyes flicked over his battered body – at least he was in no better shape than she. A short laugh rose from her throat. “Should you not still be in bed? I understand a king must show strength in the face of his people, but stupidity is unbecoming of a ruler, wouldn’t you say? It’s not as if I was gentle with you.”
A hint of a smile formed on her lips, though it was more antagonizing than gentle. “Your reputation is well founded; you are a stubborn man, indeed.”