Just Prologues

At beginning of my books

The Aryan Tablet

Tar Desert, Punjab

June 14, 1936

Northern India

The Great Abu hung from the tight rope as he was lowered into the dark hole. He was not happy about his situation. He wore nothing but a pair of ripped old shorts. His feet were bare and he was hungry. He was widely known as one of the most successful tomb hunters in northern India. Abu was twelve years of age, but knew he would have to give up his financially rewarding life soon — that is, if it didn’t kill him first. He was starting to grow, and would soon be too big to scurry around in the dark holes that he frequented for his clients. He was not adequately prepared for this treasure hunt, and that worried him too.

On a hot afternoon, he had been playing near the bazaar in his adopted city of New Delhi when suddenly four huge men materialized from the crowd and grabbed him. The men were different from the local constables who often chased Abu. They were much larger— and they all had yellow hair. The men were all dressed in black uniforms with funny markings on them. Abu had never seen men like them before.

The tallest one with the scar on his face inquired of Abu, “Are you Abu, the hunter?” He spoke in English, a language that Abu understood as his family had worked for a colonial British company. But the accent was not British. “We have been looking for you for some time.”

“I am The Great Abu,” the small boy said as he thrust out his undeveloped hairless chest and struggled to get out of their grasp.

“You’ll need your tools today,” the man with the scar face informed him. “Where do you live? We will go there with you to retrieve them.”

“I have no home,” the boy replied. “I live on the street of the city. I always carry my tools with me.”

“Good,” replied the man in a sinister voice as he approached the boy. Suddenly a burlap sack was thrown over Abu’s head.

Sometime later Abu realized that he was no longer near the bazaar. He found himself in the middle of a hot windy desert. He had never been to the place before. He was beginning to become concerned. Most of his employers had been respectful. Abu was the best artifact hunter in India. He often recovered a bracelet that had fallen down a well or gathered antique objects in old ruins for his employers. He was always treated well because he was unafraid of the underground creatures and spirits. In India, there were a lot of both.

It was said he could cast a spell on the things in the holes in the ground and paralyze them while he went about his recovery work. His grandfather, the local fakir, had taught the magic of his trade to him before his entire family had died in a fire, leaving Abu to become a child of the street. As Abu rubbed his eyes and stared at the men, he realized they knew nothing about respect. They had tied his waist to a pole.

Abu now stood in the blazing sun. The dust blowing in his face. It prevented him from focusing on the tall man standing in front of him. The giant stood with the bright sun to his back. Abu’s head hurt. He ached from hunger. He wished he could reach his pockets, where a small stash of dried fruit would provide a source of nourishment, but his hands were tied together.

“Who are you? Why have you captured me? Do you have work for me, for money?” He asked the tall man innocently.

“My name is Herr Schmidt,” announced the man dramatically and spread his arms. “I have a job for your unique skills. You have been brought to this secret location to find something. We’ll pay you well for your services.”

The mention of money quickly changed Abu’s attitude. “I’ll do your job,” Abu eagerly agreed with a nod of his head.

“Of course you will,” the man replied with a superior sinister tone which was lost on the young boy. “We will start immediately.”

It was just after noon when the men started to lower Abu into the dig hole. This opening was the worst he had ever seen. While it was freshly dug, the walls of the hole seemed ready to collapse at any moment. The hole was dug in loose sand held in place by heavy wood and was about three meters wide. Abu knew there would be a long passage at the bottom because of the huge mountains of sand around the site. He also knew it would be very dangerous.

Thick rope scratched the soft skin under Abu’s arms as he descended into the gaping aperture. They had equipped him with something called a light torch, which lit up the way without fire. Abu had never seen one before; fire was his normal mode of illumination. Fire in holes helped keep the spirits and others at bay.

The men had told him that all that was required of him was to follow the “x” markings and find a piece of rock with writing on it. He was warned that he must not read the writing on the rock, which they described as a “tablet.” It was, in fact, a useless warning since Abu could neither read nor write. Nor could he understand the importance of a rock.

When Abu hit the ground, he found himself standing on cool soft sand. The hot windy desert was replaced by cool dry air and silence. He untied the rope and wrapped it around his hand so he could pull it; then he looked around. He was surrounded by rock passages which resembled building walls. Abu had seen many structures like these before and knew he was now standing in an old village that had been buried underground in the sand eons ago.

Several of these villages were scattered throughout all of northern India. Abu had visited some to investigate their treasures. It had been very profitable for him. This town was buried deep, maybe fifteen meters deep. That meant the village was very old and Abu could tell the passageway had only recently been cleared. He noticed piles of sand everywhere, and smelled the scent of recent fire torches. Where are the workers? He cautiously stepped forward.

About twenty meters along the narrow two-meter-high pathway, he came upon a small courtyard with several open doorways. He noticed the small “x” on the door frame directly in front of him. As he prepared to enter the enclosure, his senses suddenly came alive. Something was not right inside the doorway.

First, he noticed the smell. It was the thick smell of death. Something bad had happened in the room. Then there was the noise which really wasn’t a noise at all, but rather a smooth vibration that filled the air inside the doorway. It caused the hairs on the back of his neck to rise. Naja naja is in there, he thought.

Abu could deal with the deadly king cobra; he had met him many times before. He knew from experience to move slowly, to maintain eye contact, and to use his secret weapon. After all, he was considered a special hunter. Abu brought the wooden whistle which hung from his neck up to his lips, and began to play the hypnotic music his grandfather had taught him. The light airy music was played with one hand on the flute. The other hand pointed the light. Cautiously he moved forward into the foreboding darkness.

Shining the light through the door, he beheld small wooden tables spread around a medium-size room. To the left was a longer and wider table. He was sure that it was an old tavern. As he turned to his right, the light fell on what appeared to be a large hump on the floor. The hump turned out to be three bodies, all with yellow hair. As he played the light over the bodies, Abu observed that the men had died horrific deaths. Their mouths were distorted in a permanent scream, their muscles all contorted. He realized the men had recently died from snakebites from naja naja. They had died very recently. Usually a cobra bite would take three or four hours to kill a man. They should have had enough time to reach the opening, and yet there were three men dead in the old tavern. Many naja naja, he thought with grave concern.

Quickly Abu rotated the light to see if the snakes were nearby. He knew they could attack silently. He continued to play the sinuous rhythmic music that always tamed the snakes. But he was feeling the sudden rush of real fear in his throat. So many snakes would be difficult to hypnotize. Then he noticed the tablet. It was about half a meter wide and less than a meter long; it was thin, and could easily be carried under his arm.

It was standing upright, like a tombstone, with its bottom buried in sand. The dead men spread out like a fan around the base. They had found the tablet, and, in the process of picking it up, were attacked by the many vipers. They had all died in the rush to get away.

With extra care, he crept closer to the tablet, all the while considering the risk of grabbing the rock and running. He had moved only a few steps when his light shone upon the base of the tablet. The base was moving, undulating like a wave. What he had mistaken for sand was, in fact, hundreds of small snakes writhing on the ground. Naja-naja nest. Abu was stunned by the size of the nest. He wondered why they had nested so far underground, but knew that the deadly king cobra was a very unpredictable snake.

Suddenly Abu understood how the men had died. They had missed seeing the snake nest under the tablet. When they went to grab the rock, the snakes had attacked. The mother snake was probably in the middle of the pack. She was protecting her young. Death would have been quick but painful. Abu didn’t want to become another victim. There was only one chance of getting the tablet and retreating alive. Abu had just begun to tie a loop with the rope when loud shouts filled the air. Abu turned and bolted out the door before the snakes could strike. He ran down the passageway, quickly reaching the opening high above.

“Stop shouting,” he yelled up to Herr Schmidt. “You will excite the naja naja. They have already killed your workers.”

“Did you find the tablet?” Herr Schmidt bellowed.

“Yes, but it is very dangerous in there. I do not know if I can collect it for you.”

“Bring it to me, boy. Bring it now.”

“I —” It was as far as Abu got.

“I’m not interested in excuses; get me the tablet,” commanded Herr Schmidt. “I’ll double your reward.” That was all the motivation Abu needed.

“More slack on the rope,” Abu yelled up the opening. “When I tug on the line twice, pull the rope in slowly, and you’ll have your tablet.”

As he carefully returned back down the passageway, Abu knotted the end of the rope into a noose. So much trouble over a piece of rock! Why was this rock so important? This village has been buried under the dirt for so many years that no one even remembered that it was here. What could possibly be written on a rock tablet that men were willing to give up their lives to retrieve it? Maybe I should ask for more reward.

Back in the tavern, Abu stood very still. He was using his whistle as he kept a sharp lookout for naja naja. The light made the eyes of the snakes seem to glow. There were hundreds of them tracking Abu with their beady eyes. After a few minutes, the hypnotic music began to work. Movement from the snake pile slowed down, allowing Abu to make his attempt at retrieving the stone.

Two chips were missing around the middle of the tablet. He expertly tossed the rope around the tablet. He then pulled slowly on the rope until it tightened around the tablet and caught hold in the chipped areas. He pulled harder. The tablet began to fall over and it landed facedown, crushing many snakes. The rest were now in a full frenzy, biting on the rock, throwing their bodies into the air, and spitting venom.

Backing out the door, Abu moved up the passageway, pulling the tablet slowly as he went. A dozen snakes followed, biting at the movement, but they soon began to slither away back to protect what was left of the nest.

Now he tugged twice on the rope and watched as the slack was taken in. The tablet glided across the sand heading for the exit hole. Abu followed, watching out for naja naja all the way.

“You can lift it out now,” called Abu. He watched as the tablet disappeared above him. He could hear cheering and sounds of joy above. Herr Schmidt was speaking excitedly in English, then in a language Abu did not understand. “The Aryan race will rise again. Adolph will be so pleased.”

“Throw the rope back down for me,” yelled Abu from deep in the hole. “Throw the rope back down.” But the yellow-haired men seemed to have forgotten that he was in the hole. He no longer heard any sound. He had been abandoned.

Abu was shocked that they would leave him in the hole. He turned and noticed several snakes weaving their way towards him. He wasn’t scared, he was angry. He thought about the uncollected reward and made a decision.

He yelled out into the empty space “I am putting a curse on your tablet unless you throw down the rope.”

When no one answered he continued. “May the spirits of honor invade all who possess the tablet and guide its path back to me in my lifetime.” He then pulled some magic dust from his pouch. It had been given to him by his grandfather and blew it into the air above.

With that finished, Abu proceeded to climb up the sides of the deep hole and away from the king cobras.