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The fall of lucifer, p.13
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.13

           Wendy Alec
 
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  As the brothers and the Watchers drew nearer to the gates, hundreds of huge, blinding light sources turned on them as though switched on by an intelligent, unseen source, seeming to illuminate the entire outer darkness in its wake.

  On either side of the towering black iron gates, the entrance into the nether regions, loomed two macabre, black, stonelike seraphim, towering a hundred metres above them. These were the black seraphim. Each had six scaled, black wings and two heads: one with the face of a dragon and another with the face of a Gorgon. Their alert red eyes blazed with the flames of the damned. Circling overhead at the entrance were thousands of giant black banshees, with wingspans of thirty feet, evil glinting in their beady yellow eyes. Their ghoulish screeching filled the solar system.

  Michael stopped and gestured to the company to wait.

  The gates were suspended as by an invisible force in the centre of the magenta solar system – nothing above or beneath except for the ominous, towering gates. The perimeter was enclosed for thousands of leagues by a forbidding jagged iron barricade. At least a hundred enormous watchtowers soared above them, and menacing, black-armoured Luciferean guards patrolled the perimeter.

  Michael turned to his company. ‘Come, let us ride.’

  They halted directly in front of the iron gates. Their stallions stood on some kind of black tar and pitch, which was now the terrain under their feet. All at once the ground began to shudder underneath them, like an earthquake.

  Michael’s stallion began to whinny, and Michael stroked his neck. ‘Easy, Ariale.’ He turned to Gabriel. ‘He smells the sorceries,’ he murmured.

  The shuddering drew nearer and became rhythmic. Suddenly a huge troll-like creature bent down and peered through the gate, his yellow eyes gleaming in the semidarkness.

  ‘It is I, Shaitan, keeper of the gate.’ The creature drew nearer to Michael and grimaced. ‘You trespass, Michael, chief prince of Yehovah,’ he hissed through the iron bars. ‘You are not welcome here.’

  ‘We come in peace . . . by invitation of your king. We bear the title deeds.’

  Shaitan hesitated, perplexed. He shielded his face from the light of the Watchers. ‘I must consult . . . ’ With shuddering footsteps he shuffled away into the pitch-blackness.

  Gabriel looked up at the nearest black seraph. It shifted its scaly wings and turned its Gorgon face to watch him. Michael, Gabriel, and the Watchers waited.

  A hooded figure rode towards Michael and Gabriel on a powerful black stallion that snorted fire from its nostrils. Its eyes flamed a demonic red. As the figure came nearer, his features become visible – marred but still starkly beautiful. His expression was grim.

  Michael inhaled sharply. ‘Zadkiel!’

  Zadkiel bowed his head briefly in recognition of Michael, Gabriel, and the Holy Watchers. His eyes were soulless. ‘I bid you welcome, Michael and Gabriel, chief princes of the Royal House of Yehovah. You have been granted permission to enter the gates of Perdition, entrance to the kingdom of our emperor, celestial prince of the nether regions.’

  Michael’s fierce stare locked directly on Zadkiel’s hooded eyes. ‘Zadkiel, prince of Holy Watchers.’

  Zadkiel’s eyes flickered. ‘You speak as one who does not yet comprehend.’ He spoke as if in a stupor. ‘His Majesty’s generals await you.’

  Michael turned aside to Gabriel. ‘The enchantments are very strong. Guard your soul.’

  The beast Shaitan returned, clutching a massive cluster of iron keys. He unlocked the gates. The black seraphim unfurled their many wings one by one. The banshees’ screeching became a crescendo. And the accursed gates opened.

  Michael, Gabriel, and the Holy Watchers passed through. Zadkiel winced at the light emanating from the angelic company as they followed him onto white sand. A dank and slimy sea stretched into infinity. The waves threw up black pearls onto the beach.

  Gabriel stared in wonder. ‘A dark Eden.’

  Vultures circled overhead as they rode. Red-eyed creatures shrieked and scuttled away from the luminescence of the Watchers. The inky sea erupted with movement, then narrowed, becoming a river. Michael, Gabriel, and the Watchers followed Zadkiel farther upstream into a large, gloomy cavern lit at turns by torches on the walls.

  ‘We enter the nether regions,’ said Zadkiel, continuing to ride forward.

  Michael shuddered. Bloodcurdling screams ricocheted through the cavern. Slimy serpents and sluglike creatures slithered across their path. Their horses stepped gingerly over strange burning coals.

  Zadkiel led them forward in silence until they reached a wooden pier on the side of the river. A ferryman waited there. His face was ravaged, his eyes gouged out.

  Zadkiel turned to Michael. ‘The Stygian will take you down the river Limbo to your destination. He is blind and mute.’ Zadkiel saluted, then rode into the semidarkness and vanished.

  The Stygian gestured to them to board the colossal wooden ferry, and the party set sail out of the cavern and into the swamps of Limbo. Far above them, towering hundreds of feet on either side, were the stark black onyx crags of Perdition.

  Gabriel craned his neck upward. Far in the distance, on an immense black marbled mountain, stood a magnificent, glistening castle hewn out of ruby.

  ‘He has made himself a palace.’

  * * *

  Lucifer gazed out through the palace’s enormous crimson windows as Michael and the Watchers far beneath him made their way through the swamps. He watched Gabriel staring upward.

  ‘You sense me, my brothers.’ A strange smile flickered on his lips. ‘As I sense you.’ His eyes narrowed. ‘We shall see how pure you are. Perhaps you will be counted one of us before this day is through.’

  Lucifer walked over to a long table, elaborately set for three. It was draped with exquisite white satin and was set with the finest crystal and silver flagons of every description, filled with elixirs and exotic berry liqueurs to fill the three princes’ jewelled golden goblets. Twelve immense golden candelabras, each holding a hundred black tapers, illuminated the chamber. Frankincense burned and sputtered fiercely.

  Lucifer gazed down to the ferry thousands of feet below and smiled. I have laid a place for you, Gabriel, my brother.

  * * *

  Gabriel moved to the back of the ferry, breathing deeply. It was as if he could hear Lucifer’s voice echoing in his head. Michael and the Watchers gazed resolutely ahead.

  Come to me, the voice said. Converse with me.

  Gabriel stared up at the garnet palace, transfixed.

  Surely you would save my soul? Or do you too intend to desert me to an eternity in Perdition?

  Gabriel gazed down into the water, filled with a terrible conflict. ‘I worship Yehovah,’ he whispered lifelessly, his words sounding hollow.

  Michael looked at him and frowned. He moved to where Gabriel stood frozen and lifted his face to the cliffs. ‘Leave us, Lucifer!’

  I cannot leave you, Michael, as you once left me on the Mount of the North.

  The seductive dulcet tones echoed in the very fibres of Michael’s being.

  I cannot desert you – even though you and my Father deserted me in my hour of greatest need.

  Far above them in the palace, huge bejewelled doors were flung open. A figure walked out onto the western balcony. He stood at the very edge of the cliff, visible to Michael thousands of feet down, his white satin robe billowing in the wind.

  One for eternity. The figure crossed his chest with his arms. Brothers forever.

  Visibly shaken, Michael bowed his head.

  * * *

  As the ferry entered a large inlet, the palace disappeared from view. Ahead lay a huge iron drawbridge hung with great black chains – the entrance to the Black Citadel.

  The Stygian, with his great strength, flung the enormous ferry anchor down into the murky sea beside the pier. A pack of fifty hellhounds surrounded the ferry, baring their vampire teeth and keeping the Watchers at bay. The hounds’ eyes gleamed red.

  Vidar, l
eader of the battalion of dark angels, gestured to the Watchers to tie their horses to poles above the inlet and wait. He waved for Michael, Gabriel, and the revelators with the ark to proceed. Michael and Gabriel rode towards the drawbridge, followed by the revelators.

  They stopped outside the colossal black gateway. On the iron poles of the gate were twenty live skulls of vicious hellhounds, baring their teeth and growling ominously. Giant black serpents writhed in and out of the railings emitting sulphureous fumes, while four gargantuan black-scaled dragons flew over the palace grounds, flames pouring from their mouths. The drawbridge slowly creaked open. No one was in sight – only a long, winding causeway that headed towards the foreboding Black Citadel. Michael turned to Gabriel and nodded.

  Michael’s steed snorted in terror and shook his mane. ‘Easy, Ariale – easy.’

  Finally they reached the black palace. They remained mounted as the colossal black pearl doors were unchained.

  Asmodeus stood before the brothers, crossbow in hand, his features still beautiful though ravaged. Gone were his gentle countenance and erect stature. He bowed in reverence. ‘His Majesty, the great king of Perdition, awaits you, Chief Princes Michael and Gabriel of the Royal House of Yehovah.’

  Michael and Gabriel dismounted.

  Asmodeus spoke to a horde of demonic creatures that stood guard in front of the revelators. It was a harsh, guttural tongue that the brothers had never heard before, neither of angels nor of men.

  The demons took the brothers’ horses. Eight strapping fallen angelic warriors picked up the revelators’ golden casket on their shoulders.

  Asmodeus said, ‘We will take possession of the ark of the race of men. Follow me.’

  Michael and Gabriel left the revelators behind and followed Asmodeus through the vast grand halls, which were almost an exact reproduction of Lucifer’s original palace in the First Heaven. The fallen angelic warriors followed, bearing the deeds.

  Gabriel gazed up in wonder at the imposing frescoed ceilings as they walked. ‘Why, it is as before he fell!’ he whispered.

  They passed legion upon legion of the Luciferean Guard, who glared at them menacingly from behind black visors, their eyes flickering yellow with evil. Michael’s noble features were grim.

  Asmodeus stopped in front of two enormous ebony doors. The Luciferean guard bowed deeply.

  An immense, broad-shouldered angel appeared as if from nowhere, his matted hair falling over his big, craggy face. He pushed it back, his pale blue eyes filled with sorceries. ‘So, Chief Prince Michael of the Royal House of Yehovah!’ He licked his lips, then gave a loud, lecherous laugh. ‘My pretty . . . ’

  Michael stared, fierce and silent.

  Moloch stood a full cubit above him. He bowed deeply, his eyes evil. ‘My master awaits you.’ He stepped aside from the door.

  ‘Guard your soul, Gabriel,’ Michael said. ‘A great and terrible evil resides here.’ Slowly he pushed the door.

  On the far side of the chamber they entered stood Lucifer, his features hidden under a hood. Charsoc and Araquiel, a demonic scholar, stood silently to his right.

  Lucifer bowed deeply. ‘I greet His Excellency, the esteemed Prince Regent Michael.’

  Michael bowed his head in deference. There was a long, heavy silence as the two beheld each other. Michael’s immediate impulse was to grab Lucifer’s shoulders and embrace him as he had in millennia past. His confidant – his elder brother.

  But as Lucifer came nearer, Michael saw that his brother’s sapphire blue eyes, which once had blazed with holiness and nobility, now glinted with the arrogance of the damned. He drew back, agonized, as he remembered Lucifer’s once fervent love for Yehovah.

  Lucifer turned to Gabriel. ‘And I greet His Excellency, the esteemed Prince Gabriel, revelator.’

  Michael noted the strange gaze with which Lucifer studied Gabriel.

  Then Lucifer smiled broadly. ‘It is good to see you, my brothers!’ He clapped his manicured hands, and the demons laid down the ark in the centre of the vast chamber. He walked around the burnished golden casket and caressed the golden cherubim. ‘The deeds are in order?’

  ‘They are in order,’ Michael replied grimly.

  Lucifer nodded to Charsoc, who moved forward. Charsoc’s hair, now jet black, was parted in the centre like two veils of water falling to his feet. His eyes burned like hot, blue coals.

  Gabriel removed the large golden key from around his neck and slowly opened the casket. Twelve huge golden codices filled the ark, their covers embedded with jacinth, diamonds, sapphires, chrysolite, and multitudes of other precious stones.

  A cruel smile hovered at the corners of Lucifer’s mouth.

  There was no sound, but Gabriel heard Lucifer’s voice in his head.

  They have lied to you, my brother. Michael has lied to you. The council has lied to you.

  Gabriel shook his head as though dazed. He laid two bound books on the ornately carved table.

  They have their own intentions.

  Charsoc studied the codices intently. ‘Earth and its solar system, Your Majesty. Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter . . . ’

  ‘Yes, yes . . . I tire,’ Lucifer said, waving him quiet. ‘The Second Heaven above Earth?’

  Gabriel bowed his head. ‘It is yours.’

  ‘And Tartarus?’ His eyes narrowed, and he watched Michael intently.

  ‘It is not listed in the tenets,’ Michael stated.

  ‘But it exists in Earth’s centre – the molten core.’

  ‘It is not in the tenets.’

  ‘So He would still hold Tartarus . . . ’ Lucifer seemed lost in thought. ‘No matter. And my trophy? Man?’

  Gabriel opened an enormous gold-bound codex. ‘You are now ruler of the race of men, their sovereign. We must sign the tenets.’

  Charsoc’s eyes narrowed. ‘Your Majesty, I urge caution. What you sign will be universally binding.’

  Lucifer smiled in triumph. ‘Of course we must adhere rigidly to eternal law.’ He motioned to the codices. ‘You have examined them. You are satisfied?’

  Charsoc slowly nodded. ‘They appear in order.’

  Lucifer held out his hand.

  Araquiel handed him a large quill pen. Lucifer signed the documents with a flourish. He held the pen out to Michael. ‘Yours to witness.’ A slow, malicious smile crossed his lips.

  Come and rule with me, Gabriel. I will grant you the kingdoms of men . . .

  Michael signed.

  ‘Araquiel, I would celebrate with my brothers.’

  Araquiel poured a golden berry elixir into the three crystalline goblets.

  Lucifer handed one to Gabriel, who sipped. He gave the second to Michael. Michael shook his head.

  ‘You would refuse my hospitality, Michael?’

  Michael looked at Lucifer frostily. ‘I do not thirst.’

  Lucifer laughed. ‘Tut, tut, dear Michael. After all these aeons, you still haven’t mastered the fine art of pleasantries, as Gabriel here has.’

  ‘Treason is no matter for celebration.’

  Lucifer laughed, enjoying Michael’s repartee. He reclined on an ornate platinum throne, his white satin robe wrapped around him. Six hellhounds lay next to his feet on satin cushions. He stroked the largest on the head. ‘Cerberus . . . ’ Lucifer gestured to Michael and Gabriel to sit.

  Gabriel sat next to Lucifer. Michael remained standing at attention.

  ‘These men I now rule,’ Lucifer began casually, ‘access to heaven is denied them?’

  Michael said nothing.

  ‘They do not have access,’ said Gabriel. ‘The portal has been sealed. The First Heaven and the wonders of Yehovah are sealed off from mankind forever.’

  ‘His presence will never be known here?’ Lucifer stared at Michael unrelentingly.

  Michael bowed his head in reverence. ‘I do not presume to know our Father’s mind.’

  ‘Hah! But I know His mind!’ Lucifer frowned savagely. ‘He would seek fellowship with them still! I
know it! He would trespass!’

  Michael’s voice rose. ‘You have no jurisdiction over His presence, Lucifer.’

  ‘He is obsessed, infatuated!’

  ‘No, Lucifer. He is pure. He is holy. His love for them is eternal.’

  ‘I am king now! Men are my subjects.’

  Michael lowered his eyes. ‘Some shall not bow, Lucifer.’

  ‘Oh, they will bow, Michael. How easily they will bow. I shall eradicate every memory of the First Heaven . . . and of Yehovah!’ He laughed gleefully. ‘They shall remember Him only as a vague imprint, a fable! His memory shall fade from generation to generation until His name shall be only as a myth for children. They shall each and every one desert Him. Then He shall come to His senses and realize the folly of His creation. He will realize my triumph. And then . . . He will relent.’

  Michael lifted his eyes to Lucifer’s. They were like steel. ‘Come, Gabriel. We must take our leave.’

  Gabriel sat dazed, heavy-eyed. ‘I – I would stay and dine with my brother.’ His voice was unnatural, almost lethargic.

  Michael too suddenly felt sluggish and strangely weakened in his soul.

  ‘I have sumptuous chambers prepared for you, Gabriel.’ Lucifer smiled mysteriously. ‘And a special gift: a collection of magnificent frescos depicting my being crowned as sovereign.’

  ‘Come, Gabriel,’ Michael said, slurring. ‘It is sorcery . . . he plays to our souls.’

  Gabriel stared at Michael, and his listlessness transformed into something akin to loathing. ‘I would not desert our brother, Michael. I deserted him once on the Mount of the North.’

  As you deserted me, Michael.

  Michael gritted his teeth. ‘Swear your allegiance to Yehovah, Gabriel! It will break his power.’

  Moloch and the Luciferean guard grabbed Michael and savagely thrust him out of the door.

  ‘Get out, Gabriel!’ Michael cried. ‘If you stay, we will never return!’

  Chapter Twenty-one

  The Penitentiary

  Michael was flung onto the granite floor of the mammoth torture chamber. The massive iron prison doors slammed, and the key turned in the lock.

 
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