Goddess Ninurta/Tablets of Destiny
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The Legend of the Tablets of Destiny
Sumerian legend told of a set of clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform that were, in essence, a legal contract granting the god Enlil dominion over creation. The legend goes on to say that these were stolen by the monster Anzu and recovered for Enlil by the god Ninurta.
The legend, however, is wrong on several points.
- The Tablets are not made of clay. Each Tablet is made from a precious metal or stone.
- The Tablets are not a legal contract. They describe, in great detail, the forces of nature that enable the world to exist, and allow those in posession of them to make use of these forces to enact changes in the world. It may even be possible to enact changes in the nature of these forces themselves, by making changes to the Tablets.
- Though he did recover the Tablets, Ninurta did not return them to Enlil. Instead, he ordered them separated and hidden even from the gods.
The Tablets Stolen
Anzu stole the Tablets, believing them to bestow dominion in the manner described by legend. Using the power of the Tablets, though with no real understanding of their true nature, Anzu created seven monsters, one with each of the seven Tablets, to guard him from the wrath of Enlil. These creatures were:
- The Dragon - Created with the Golden Tablet, which governed the nature of fire.
- The Gypsum - Created with the Diamond Tablet, which governed the nature of the earth.
- The Palm Tree King - Created with the Wooden Tablet, which governed the nature of plants.
- Lord Saman-ana - Created with the Beryl Tablet, which governed man's higher nature.
- The Bison-beast - Created with the Ivory Tablet, which governed the nature of beasts.
- The Scorpion-man - Created with the Silver Tablet, which governed man's aggression and primal instinct.
- The Seven-headed Serpent - Created with the Onyx Tablet, which governed the nature of water.
Though the beasts themselves did not have the Tablets in their possession, they were imbued with an aspect of those powers in an attempt to keep the god Enlil at bay. However, Enlil called upon the god Ninurta to retrieve the Tablets and to place them where no man, demon, monster, or god would be tempted by their power.
Ninurta, being a god of the Hunt, was able to make short work of the Dragon, Bison-beast, and even the Seven-headed Serpent. Taking their powers for his own, he then defeated the Gypsum,the chimeric Lord Saman-ana, and the Palm Tree King. Though wounded badly by the Scorpion-man, he defeated that creature as well, and was able to use the powers of all of these creatures to defeat Anzu and retrieve the Tablets.
As he and Enlil had agreed, Ninurta then proceeded to dispose of the Tablets. Disguising each of them in the form of a statue of a different deity - some Sumerian, some from other lands - he commanded his High Priest to distribute the statues across the world, and to make no record of having done so.
Whereabouts of the Tablets
To date, four of the seven known Tablets have been found, though only one is known by anyone (Ninurta, in fact) to have been one of the Tablets. Though seven are known to have existed, some students of Sumerian mythology claim that there may have been more - legends speak of Ninurta slaying not just seven, but sometimes nine different monsters. In addition, there may have been other tablets whose power Anzu had not yet used.
The Onyx Tablet
The Onyx Tablet was formed into a statue of Ninurta and remained in the care of the High Preist despite Ninurta's original command to scatter the statues. It was eventually lost due to a natural disaster - a flood caused by Ninurta specifically to get the Onyx Tablet out of his domain so that it would no longer tempt him. It was eventually recovered and made its way to Paragon City, where it - along with Ninurta - was bound to the body of a dying woman in an effort to save her life. Though the effort proved futile, the woman passing on despite Ninurta's efforts, Ninurta found himself - now herself - bound to the woman's body and seeks to honor her memory by defending the city she had loved as a superheroine.
The Ivory Tablet
Cast into the a small statue of the Egyptian goddess Bast, the Ivory tablet became the goddess' most prized posession. She ordered it be worn by a woman of her temple who had proven herself strong, fit, and canny in a secret contest away from the prying eyes of non-initiates. This tradition continued well past the fall of ancient Egypt, the statue passing from woman to woman, usually by way of theft.
It eventually found its way into the care of the Paragon City Museum of Natural History, where another woman unknowingly proved herself worthy of the blessing of Bast by stealing the statue despite hightened security. The accomplished burglar, however, found herself transformed by Bast into a semi-feral cat-person. Overwhelmed by her new instincts, she lost her grip on her own personality, and the superheroine known as Darque Kitten appeared on the scene - practically a blank slate, this feral being took to the streets of Paragon City with a vengeance. The Ivory Tablet is permanently bound to her bones - including her teeth - making permanent injury a virtual impossibility for her, as well as granting her with abilities not forseen even by Bast herself.
The Beryl Tablet
Hearing rumors of the disposition of the Tablets, and suspecting she had been given one in the form of the ivory pendant, Bast commanded her clergy to keep an eye out for other such statues. Thus it was that Bast became the only deity since Ninurta had recovered the Tablets to possess more than one of them, the second being the Beryl Tablet, fashioned of chrysoberyl, or Cat's Eye. Originally a statue of Utu, Sumerian god of Justice and the Sun, Bast recast it in her own image. Much larger than the statuette that had been the Ivory Tablet, the Beryl Tablet, in Bast's form, was over twenty feet tall.
In order to further disguise it, she ordered it concealed, coating the majority of the statue in silver and gold, apart from the eyes, which, once the statue was covered, looked frighteningly lifelike. Ninurta, hearing of Bast's desire to collect the lost Tablets, sought her out and explained his concerns to her.
Convinced, Bast agreed to lose the statue, ordering it taken out into the desert and buried.
Unfortunately, what is buried can be uncovered again, and the statue was eventually discovered and shipped to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, in the mid 19th Century. As it was feared the massive statue would prove too tempting to fortune hunters, it was never put on display, and its discovery was hushed up. However, secrets never remain secret for long, and eventually rumor began to spread through various criminal communities of the statue's existance.
Though she knew it was far too large to move without heavy equipment and a team, one burglar sought out the statue in order to confirm its existance. When she found it, she attempted to remove one of the eyes, hoping the nearly-bowling-ball-sized chrysoberyl would prove the existance of the legendary statue.
Bast, already awakened by the attempted theft of the Ivory Tablet, saw only that her most beloved icon was being defaced. Lashing out in anger, she decided that if the thief wanted her eyes so badly, she could have them. After the curse was wrought, Bast calmed enough to realize she had permanently bonded the Beryl Tablet to the thief. Devoid of the material that gave it structure, the thin plating of silver collapsed under its own weight, taking the would-be-burglar with it.
When she recovered, her reflection revealed that Bast had wrought other changes to her beyond the fall. Her eyes were now the Cat's Eye gems she had coveted, and her body was large, powerful, and feline. Rather than regard this - and, she would later learn, a rage-fueled therianthropy - as a curse, the woman changed her name to Feral Fury and returned to the Rogue Isles, feeling triumphant and eager to try out her newfound power.
The Wooden Tablet
The Wooden Tablet had been reshaped into a mask of the Green Man made from the same petrified wood as the Tablet and shipped far to the west, into the care of that nature deity's chosen guardians, the fey of what would later become Scotland. The queen of the fey, in a fit of pique, bound one of her warriors, Gaoth Siorghlas (pron. GEE SHYOR-glaz) to the Tablet, turning the petrified wood into a statue of Gaoth. Gaoth, kept alive by the power of the Tablet, was able to influence those around her, and contrived to have her statue passed from one magic user to another in the hopes of being freed.
Eventually, she fell into the care of the Cabal, where a Cabal Adept, in an effort to transfer the legendary healing powers of the statue to herself, freed Gaoth, who, having sensed the Adept's nature, stunned her telepathically and fled. The powers of the Wooden Tablet were permanently bound to her, but the only apparent change to her appearance was the loss of her wings, which were removed while she was still a statue, by an owner who felt they detracted from the statue's beauty.
Wings or no, Gaoth resumed her previous role as a warrior and healer, as the superheroine Evyrgreen. (For those concerned, she has recovered enough to heal the loss of her wings, and is no longer scarred by their loss. Physically, at any rate.)
The Diamond Tablet
The Diamond Tablet, now in the shape of Athena, was believed to have been lost with the destruction of the Minoan city of Atlantis.
The Silver Tablet
Fashioned into a statue of Ares, the Silver Tablet is believed to have been lost in the destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius. Though the city has been excavated, the statue either has not been recovered, or its recovery has not been announced.
The Golden Tablet
The Golden Tablet's current whereabouts are unknown. It had been cast into the shape of Enlil, but whether it remains in that shape is also unknown. It was last seen when the High Priest of Ninurta sent its bearer towards Mongolia.
Whether or not there are other tablets is unkown, but considered likely. There are aspects of magic, human nature, and the natural world that do not fall into the domain of the known tablets (powers of air, for example, or light, or darkness). Few, if any, know of the existence of the Tablets, and fewer still of their disposition. None know the location of any Tablet not already found and bound to a host.