-The Amulet of Delilah-
You've no doubt heard the stories. Well that's what they are, stories. What you are about to read is what really happened, and though you may not believe it. Once you finish reading, you will have a chance to learn whether or not it's true. To start things off, we must travel back to a time long ago, to an age where Gods mettled in the affairs of man. One man in particular was given great power by his God, as long as he never cut his hair. Samson's story is told in a tragic sense. He fell in love with a treacherous woman who, once she discovered the secret to his power, stripped him of it and handed him off to his enemies. The question you must stop and ask is, who was this woman? Certainly we all know her name was Delilah. But who was she? Samson has a thoroughly told history, from his birth until his death. Delilah is only mentioned during the period leading up to his death. So let this be the opportunity for you to hear, the whole story.
My father was a good man. He was not a perfect man, a rich man, or even a well-known man. But he was a good man. He did not deserve the fate that befell him or my family. Though it could be said by many that my people did not deserve any of actions they were victim to, but sadly the Gods are not always fair. My father had long been loyal servants to the Gods, my father was the high priest of our village's temple and my mother was a loyal wife who ensured the children were tended to. We were not a wealthy family, but we were happy. Having recently reached the age of adulthood, my father had arranged a husband for me. Sudru was his name, and he himself had recently taken over his father's responsibilities as our village's craftsman. He was a kind and gentle man, and he always attempted to make me feel as if I was the center of his world. We were only days away from our bonding ritual, when that man came to my home.
Samson had long been called the hero of the Hebrew people, but that was because many facts were not shared with all. People spoke of how he "heroically" tore a lion in half. But did they explain why the lion attacked in the first place? Did they mention that Samson had attempted to take on the lion's cubs to gift his hopeful bride as a gift? No, Samson was no hero. He was a man who was gifted greatness, and his arrogance led to him to belief he could act as he pleased. Now, brutish as he was, Samson did have his share of enemies who would stop at nothing to defeat him. The Philistines were known for their hatred of the man, and he for his hatred of them. My people, did their best to avoid such conflicts. For we had lived in relative peace for many generations, and knew that involving ourselves in such matters would only bring about destruction. Though the Gods it seemed, had other plans for our people.
When Samson arrived in our village, he claimed to bring good tidings and merely requested that we provide him with shelter and food. My father feared that honoring such a request could cause the Philistines to assume we had taken a side and so he politely denied Samson's request. The noble hero that stories told of was not present that day, and he took our denial as an insult and proceeded to destroy all in his path. He cursed us as heathens and swore to make us pay for honoring the false Gods. The sounds were terrifying, and until my father burst into the temple to warn us we were unaware of what was occurring. As my father screamed for us to flee for our lives, one the front pillars of the temple flew through the entrance, collapsing the wall onto my father. As the building crumbled, my mother screamed and ran towards him in a foolish attempt to aid him, only to be crushed by the falling stone. I still do not know how I made it out alive, though I can only assume that the Gods had a hand in it. My elation at my own survival was quickly turned to horror as I saw the rest of the temple fall to the ground, forever entombing my parents. As I fell to my knees and wept, I saw one image that would be forever burned into my memory, he was laughing.
1 year later...
I knew that they would betray me. Even while blinded by fury, I knew that their word was worthless.
"Find the secret to his strength, and we shall reward you 1,100 silver coins," the Philistines had said.
Thankfully, once I had cut his seven locks, the fools were too focused on taking him captive. They simply handed me the silver and left with their prize. They never even thought to ask what was to be done with his hair. I had acted quickly and collected the hair into a small pouch that was easily concealed in my clothing, then I had set out to begin my plan.
First, I had gone to my husband Sudru for his part of the task. He melted down seven of the silver coins, while I carefully wove the seven locks into a tight ball. Once the silver was fully liquid, Sudru poor it into a small mold shaped like a shield. I gently placed the hair into the molten metal, closed the small model, and let my love dip it into the cooling water to harden the piece. Once the metal had solidified, he attached a chain to the charm and presented it to me. I held the chain in her hand and allowed the silver piece to dangle in front of my eyes. It was odd to me how beautiful it looked. Sudru had picked the mold special for this, a pointed tip at the bottom and two rounded edges at the top. He had told me that it resembled a shield once wielded by a warrioress spoke of in the legends. I looked up from the amulet with tears in my eyes.
Sudru smiled at me, "Do not fear for me my love. The Gods will watch over us in our journey."
I touched my lips to his gently, "I pray they do my love."
I left him with the rest of the silver so he could easily buy passage north. That was all we could do. We had heard stories of the peoples of the north and had hoped that they would not hinder our journey. Though for now, he would go alone. I still had one more task left. My father had taught much of our traditions to me. I had hoped to one day serve the Gods as he did, but that man had changed everything. He had abused the blessing that was given to him, and I swore to myself that if the Gods granted me mine I would remain humble. I had gathered my offerings to the Gods I wished to ask favor of; Anat, our Goddess of War; Athtart, Goddess of Fertility; Shapash, Goddess of the sun; and Baal Hammon, renewer of all energies. The one thing I was missing was an altar of great power. And it just so happened that the Philistines had one in their possession. Something stolen from the Israelites.
It amazed me how openly the Philistines would talk of this stolen treasure. They say it housed the commandments of the Hebrew God, but that was not what intrigued me. It was the power the chest was said to emit. Stories of the good being healed and the wicked being set with boils had traveled to even my home. My father cast off such stories as heresy, but my mother would tell me in secret that sometimes if enough people say something is true, then it must be. I had hoped that my mother was right, otherwise this might be my last night alive.
The men who had paid me had invited me to a celebration of capture of Samson. I was told there would be revels throughout the night followed by a sacrifice to their deity Dagon at sunrise. My arrival was met with little notice and I was able to easily steal away to the temple that housed what the Israelites called the Ark. My trip back to Sudru had taken more time that I had planned and I knew that sunrise would be approaching soon. I needed to complete my ritual quickly. I arranged my offerings in front of the artifact, placed the amulet around my neck, and became the ritual. As I completed each God's offering, I thought in frustration at how long each incantation actually is. I had just finished the offering to Shapash as was about to enter the final blessing for Baal Hammon when I heard a noise behind me.
"YOU DARE CONDUCT THIS RITUAL IN OUR HOLIEST OF SITES?" the man in front bellowed, "You shall be punished for this insult, treacherous whore!"
Before I could reply, the men behind him moved forward, dragging another man. It was then men who had paid me. The man they were dragging was small, frail, and had no hair on his head. His eyes were bleeding.
"So it seems we will not have to track you down after all," the leader said. He added with a smile, "Guards? Seize her."
The guards approached me quickly. My heart was pounding; I was too late. As the first guard reached his hand out to me, I whispered a silent prayer for Sudru. I asked the Gods to ensure he would be safe for the rest of life. At this moment, something happened that none of them were prepared for. The sun shone through the ceiling of the temple and instantly the amulet around my neck began to glow. Something was happening. My breathing was quickening, my heart beating faster, the blood in my veins on fire. It would seem that the Gods has heard my prayers after all.
I was startled from my reverie by a large hand grasping my wrist. Instinctively I pulled arm away from the hand, and was greeted with a man yelping, followed by a crashing sound. I looked to my left and say that one of the guards was lying in a pile of rubble where I assume a pillar had once been. The other guard took a step back out of caution. It was then that I noticed that I was now looking him directly in the eyes.
What was happening to me is hard to put into words. Only now that some time as passed I truly understand what the amulet was doing. Once I had discovered that Samson's strength came from his hair, I assumed that the ritual I performed would simply make me as strong as him. Once I saw that the man being dragged was not a giant covered from head to foot with muscle, but a short and frail man, I understood. And I the guard’s eyes got lower and lower I realized that my body was growing to match Samson's former size. My body was swelling and bulging in every way possibly, and the power I felt was intoxicating. I looked down to see my silk dress slide up my legs as they grew longer and thicker. My breasts began to also grow larger, as if they intended to stay proportionate to the rest of me. The bulges in my arms were clearly visibly, and I was thankful for my dress not having sleeves. Before I could even register the rest of my changes, the feeling stopped. My formerly brown hair had grown longer and was now a crimson red, like the color of a rose. It was then that I realized that I was almost two or three heads taller than all of the men present. I tensed my large, powerful muscles and smiled as I thought what I was going to do to these traitors.
I took a step forward with malice in my eyes, when a voice in my head startled me.
You are not him.
I halted and a realization came over me. This power, it was a gift. And I would not abuse it like he had. The Philistines were still frozen in awed fear as I gathered my materials from the ritual. As I turned to leave one of them spoke.
"I do not know what sorcery this is, but you are not leaving this temple alive."
I looked down at the defiant man and frowned, "I am willing to leave in peace, go far from this land, and never return. If you try and stop me, you will not like the consequences."
I began to walk forward, astounded at how much faster my longer legs moved me. The sack I placed my ritual offerings in was also incredibly light thanks to my larger arms. As I passed them, the one holding Samson shoved him aside and stepped towards me. Samson clumsily fell against one of the pillars near the entrance.
The man in front of me spoke as I started past him, "We will find you my dear. And though we may not be able to stop you. Those you love do not have your power."
The last statement caused me to freeze. I turned to look at them with fire in my eyes. Before I could speak, though, I heard a prayer being muttered by Samson. He was asking his Gods to grant him strength once more and allow him to avenge himself against the Philistines. I smiled darkly.
"Your Gods are not listening today. But mine will answer your prayers."
I stood between the two pillars at the front, placed a hand on each, and shoved them outward. The stone did not protest or resist and flew into the pillars in their path. I turned and strode out of the temple, and the only sound louder than the crumbling stone, were the screams of the Philistines. I stopped for a brief moment and asked the Gods forgiveness for what I had just done. I told them that it I ever acted in way that was undeserving of this gift that they should take it from me. I waited a moment longer and when I realized that the strength remained I thanked them for their understanding.
I reached the road without incident, save for a few stares and gasps. I imagine nobody had ever seen a woman like me before. I looked ahead and thought of Sudru. He was probably not too far ahead of me. A coy smile crossed my lips and I started running. The world around me was passing me faster than I could recognize it. I continued at this speed well into the night, my body never tiring. As I reached a small camp, I saw the sun rising in the distance. Suddenly, the sack began to grow heavier, and I felt a wave of exhaustion overtake me. I looked down in horror as my shrinking body gave to me a realization, the Gods gifts were leaving me. I fell to my knees, the sack landing next to me with a thud. The disappointment that filled my heart sent warms tears streaming down my face. I thought back to the ritual, and realized that I was not able to honor Baal Hammon, the renewer of energies. My disappointment turned to understanding, with his blessing, the power was only temporary. I stood slowly, the exhaustion replaced with resolve. I thanked the Gods for their help, and prayed that they continue to aid me in returning to Sudru. The tears ended, I hefted the heavy sack, and continued forward.
I stopped at every traveling group or encampment I crossed to inquire about my love. It was long into the night when I finally found where he was camped. The friendly man I met pointed me towards him tent and stared oddly at my torn dress as I passed. After a full day of travel, the relieve of finding him brought a wave of exhaustion over me and I struggled to walk into the tent. As I made it through the flap, my shaky arms lost their grip on the sack and it hit the ground with a loud thud, jarring Sudru awake. His startled look became one of joy as his eyes focused on me. Without a word, he leapt from the bed and pulled me into his arms.
As the sun crept over the horizon, I wrapped my arms around his waist and smiled up into his eyes. With a confused look he asked, “My love, your eyes. They are the color of steel.” Suddenly, I felt an energy flowing through my limbs. I gasped as I realized what was happening. As my body once again grew, I smiled excitedly. Sudru was certainly surprised when he felt his feet leave the floor as my stronger arms lifted him while I grew taller. The change was over quickly, and I felt my hair graze against my lower back. Looking at the rapturous smile on my husband’s face, I also felt something rigid graze my nethers. I smiled hungrily at my love.
“I assume the ritual worked my dear?” he asked joyfully.
I began to move towards the bed. “It did my love, though not quite as we planned.” I lowered us towards the blankets and kissed him deeply. As our lips separated, I heard him gasp for breath. “Though there is plenty of time for that story later. For now, let us take some time and explore this body, together.” He pulled my face to his without words, and kissed me firmly. All I could think was how fun this was going to be.