Palmyra tower

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” – Pearl Buck.

Bardisan stood at the centre of the towering tomb’s black interior. The darkness swaddled thick and heavy around him, so dense that it felt as though his ears were humming with shadowed whispers. There was a chill in the night air, a cold wind sighing through the cavernous maw of the tomb’s doorway and pricking the hairs on his neck.

The master thief’s knees shook, but not from the chill of a desert eve. His eyes were transfixed by the large stone coffin in front of him. It was a dark stone, smooth as marble but infinitely finer. He could not place it, but knew it had to have been brought many thousands of leagues over shifting dunes and bleak mountains.

It would have been beautiful, he thought, if it hadn’t been broken. Someone had obliterated the sarcophagus’ lid in their desperation to get at what lay inside. Now the contents were gone and the black coffin seemed to know it had been emptied, its dark void calling out into the night with a voiceless yearning.

On tiptoes, Bardisan leaned forwards and peered into the bottom of the black stone bin. A hollow face stared back up at him. The master thief pressed a spool of thread into the cavity where eyes had once stared out from now withered sockets. He knew better than to take without giving in return.

Hoofs thundered on the dusty plain beyond the doorway and he heard leather harnesses creaking, saddle ornaments and spurs jangling against each other with a metallic ring. Bardisan let out a panting breath, a robber’s silent scream, and fell back into the shadows.

Read the latest Palmyra news here (BBC) and click here (Sacred Destinations) to find out more about the city’s fascinating history.

For something similar, and an excellent read, check out Emperor and Prophet on one of my favourite blogs (John’s Life and Travels)!

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