Assursadunni had no ambitions to kingship, indeed as the second son of Libaja he had had no expectation either. His sixty years of life had largely been spent in and around the Royal Castle in Dilmun exercising his talent for administration that had assisted his father his elder brother and lastly his nephew in the smooth running of the united Kingdom of Shumer (less Kholinor which has always stubbornly refused to be run by anyone).
He had, however, been unable to prevent his nephew in the early years of his reign leading an ill-fated expedition to add the island of Salapan to his realm. It was obvious to him after three interregnums, that it was trouble enough keeping the fractious lords of Shumer in order without adding to the problem by acquiring yet more. Samsiadad's error was compounded when after successfully extracting tribute from Salapan, he fell overboard on the return home and inconveniently drowned. He firmly believed this had been no accident and suspected that Adan of Harata had engineered it; but there was no proof and as his nephew had no issue and the queen was only recently with child, there was no one sufficiently interested to investigate.
The kingdom, as it had done previously, fell apart, some lugals were polite enough to send messages informing him that there would be no further tribute, but largely the fractious majority did not even bother themselves with that. However, it was a blessing that this time there had been no civil war. In any event Assursadunni was content to remain in Dilmun, he had never had a martial nature and as he had recently celebrated his 60th birthday was not equipped for exertion. In fact the Mines of Dilmun had long made it the richest of the regions of Shumer, although he was worried about funding the upkeep of the castle and without tribute the royal fleet and army could not be maintained.
And so it proved, it was now ten years since Samsiadad's unfortunate demise; Dilmun, farmed and mined and survived; the castle was somewhat run down of late, and pirates plagued the Southern Sea and beyond; but yes Dilmun survived, as it always had. The same could not be said for Shumer; Dilmun's main trading partner was now Salapan as there was virtually no trade with Harata, any merchant ship being almost certainly prey to pirates. There was still the regular ship from Kholinor but they sailed round from the North having made some arrangement with the local potentate in that region of Arat. Assursadunni pondered on these matters as he stared out of his study at the giant statue of Marduk that stood in the courtyard, he was worried for the future. He was seventy now and his body suffered the appropriate level of degeneration associated with being close to the end of life. His nephew's son was still only a child and although his mother was both formidable and intelligent (the greatest joy of his declining years was discussing matters of import with his niece) she had not his administrative ability; although if she had led the expedition to Salapan it is unlikely she would have drowned on the way back. The Lioness of Dilmun most certainly did not fall out of boats. At this point in his musings as if inside his thoughts, Shalesa walked into the room carrying a tray of the finest Salapan tea; after placing a cup on the table next to him she took her usual seat.
He sipped his tea in anticipation of the coming conversation with his niece; whence he perceived a presence in the room, both he and his niece turned simultaneously. Just inside the door, in what was an appalling breach of protocol, stood a tall, handsomely dressed, Kholinorian, and not the rough and ready bearded types that manned their ships. This one was clean shaven, with high arched features and the distinct pointed ears of those from that land, that he had never seen, but read about in the history books. Both of them were momentarily memorised by the man's presence, strikingly beautiful as he was in the first bloom of youth. It seemed to Assursadunni like an age but after the moment was over the man spoke:
'Can I first say how much I enjoyed reading you work on the Priest Kings, it was remarkable how you made so much of so little evidence'
He heard his niece's intake of breath, the voice was as singular as his presence, it was a voice of the ages, a voice of fathomless wisdom, a voice that both warmed and chilled and it awoke a memory. A memory of a story told to him at his grandfathers knee of his visit to Kholinor as a young man, which must be some 120 years ago now. His grandfather had travelled with old king Assurnugal and had described to him almost exactly the individual standing before them now. His grandfather had been both proud, awestruck and it had to be said terrified to meet he who was known as the High One, Lord of the Sky, The High Priest of Enlil. Assursadunni's reverie was broken as the stranger entered his thoughts:
'Ah, I fear that my reputation has preceded me; may I say that I remained, throughout his life, impressed with your grandfather, he would have made a far better king than that dissolute he travelled with'
My niece, who lacks a degree of circumspection, exclaimed breathlessly: 'Marduk's Blood! How old are you?'
'I think you mean Meradoch young lady, a minor theological point which we may discuss at a later date, but I fear I can not answer your question as I can not now remember'
He paused again; a feature of his conversation which Assursadunni thought could become quite irritating if it persisted.
'It will not stand you know, this affair with Shumer, fighting amongst themselves, letting pirates roam the seas'
He stared at Assursadunni:
'You must act, it is your duty, you must restore the kingship, unite the land, protect trade and perform kingly actions as required'
It was Assursadunni's turn to pause: 'But, I am old, what can I do, I have a boot in the grave for Mard – for Meradoch's sake'
He replied: 'Boot in the grave, nonsense, I will not allow it; you will call a meeting of the lords, I will insist, and you must persuade them of the wisdom of it, how is for you to decide, I do not get involved in politics'
But, thought Assursadunni wryly, getting involved in politics is exactly what you are doing; he was going to say exactly that, when the priest indicated that the audience was over and was gone as promptly as he came.
As history recalls Assursadunni called a meeting of the Lords of Shumer and they argued for many days in the halls of Castle Dilmun on matters relating to trade and pirates and the many other woes that their regions suffered. Finally when they were all exhausted from arguing Assursadunni suggested that they form a confederation, each would be supreme lord in his own land, but on matters pertaining to the sea, foreign lands, pirates and trade they would defer to him as King and pay him a stipend to cover the costs of patrolling the seas and regulating trade. This was a new form of kingship, a novelty, and after much argument amongst themselves, on the first day of winter in the 834th year, the lords, one by one bowed their heads to the 35th king of Shumer after the Winnowing.
Assursadunni ruled as King for twenty years and died exactly where he pleased, in bed. His wisdom became the stuff of legend and his rule a model for all who would follow him. He never saw the priest again, but his nephew's son and grandson both sat at his knee and he related his and his grandfathers story, so that they may recognise him if he ever had further need of the House of Assur.