She descends the white stairs holding a sword and sheaf of corn. Blinding the ignorant, fallen dumbstruck before Her. A body drops slain, a maiden with child.

For She is Justice and perfect in every way.

Grasping Azad close unto Her the embrace warm and tight, the Goddess Inanna did whisper in his ear:

“Worry not Azad, O worry not faithful servant of Inanna for the maiden Delah does dwell in the night sky with Me. The maiden Delah will dwell forever in the night sky with the Eight Pointed Star, living in memory and shining bright unto eternity. But you, O Sakrisan, you must atone for your crimes.”

With hand clamped round his neck She lifts him from the floor. His eyes agape with shock and surprise; he claws at Her hands but to no avail. The holy Inanna looks up to Azad with curiosity and interest; studying his face as he thrashes and pulls at Her fingers.

“O accursed mortal; O weak and cowardly man. Did you not look unto Delah as She burned, as She burned with your hot lies. Well, O mongrel most vile, you shall no longer talk. Your tongue will be silent, silent as the long night without the light of the Moon to aid your sight.”

Squeezing his throat, She forces Azad’s tongue loose from behind his bluing lips. With dagger of ibex handle, She slices and drops it to the floor, where it burns brightly with a green flame. Lowering him to the floor, the Goddess releases Her grasp leaving Azad choking, gasping for breath as blood dripped from his mouth. He looked up to her with perplexed horror.

The Queen walks slowly, languidly once more in a circle around Azad, as he follows her gaze whilst on hands and knees. Blood pools beneath him, the dark fluids gathering. She points to a star, bright in the darkness. Pure and white, warming the Earth:

“That O servant is the maiden Delah; the maiden Delah you will see every night from now unto distant days. For you are accursed Azad-kutu-ana of the Temple of E-ana. You are accursed thrice so. For the death of the innocent maiden Delah you have been delivered unto silence. For the love you forsook for your Goddess Inanna-“

She picks up Azad once more by the throat, holding him in place whilst slicing away the tattered and scorched remains of his robes of office. Deliberately and with great care as Azad wailed in agony, She drew the Eight Pointed Star upon his chest.

“For the love you forsook for your Goddess Inanna, may you be reminded daily of your vows and love. Of Inanna’s love and compassion for the Sakrisan, the Ninth and last Life of the Temple of E-ana.”

Dumbstruck and in great pain Azad looked to Inanna before him and tried to mouth the word ‘third?’. Sticky blood seeped from between his fingers on his chest and abdomen, where the blade had left a perfect relief of the Eight Pointed Star for him to carry unto death.

The Goddess smiled:

“O Sakrisan, weak and cowardly worm; death will not come unto you. Death will not come unto you and release you from your pledge to your Queen. For you will walk the night with Me, gathering unto the Earth the dead and diseased. You will walk the night unto distant days being the digger of graves, the guider of the dead to the Underworld, to the arms of my Sister, the wondrous and dread Erishkigal. So be it O Sakrisan, so be it!

You will not lack for company O accused mortal for you will see that those who make the Goddess Inanna BEG for the love of a mortal are never forgotten. O sweet Azad you did make your Queen beg your sweet mercies and that will remain seared onto your being unto the end of all time.”

Turning to the broken remains of the Temple she proclaimed loudly to the people of the Valley:

“O people of the Valley, O those who have lost the love of the maiden Inanna, daughter of Anu. I do curse you to an eternity of war and bloodshed. Nothing will grow apart from seeds of violence; the weak and desperate will be drawn here only to be betrayed by the greedy and malevolent. For in payment for My Sister Delah, this place is accursed for ever more.

I curse this place to never-ending war, until the day My temple stands once more.

So be it! So be it!”

To Azad She sneered:

“There will be death and no glory to be found here O accused man, but your work will be long and ever needed. You will receive neither joy nor payment for your servitude for now and for ever more. So be it you night rat, so be it.

Now be gone from this place of desecration and desertion of the holy gods. Leave this place but know you can never leave this Plateau or Valley; you must always return each night and perform your duties. Be gone from My offended sight. Justice has been done this night.”

Quavering and mumbling nonsensical noise, Azad rose and scurried away into the night.

From the darkness came a quake of feminine laughter and Lilith did enter the stage from the shadow in the left:

To Chapter Seventy-Six – The Black Ballad of Lilith

Cover: Themis, the Goddess of Justice