The Fall of Lucifer, p.16Wendy Alec
He clasped his hands together and looked around the council. ‘Lucifer’s generals . . . some of whom were once our close compatriots . . . are to be cast in eternal chains into the lowest regions of the netherworld – Tartarus.’ His voice grew hoarse. ‘The pits of gloom until the Day of Judgment.’
* * *
Hundreds of numberers and record keepers pored over the millions of records in the great Willow Library of Archives. Jether and Xacheriel paced up and down the aisles, past the countless towering shelves crammed with fastidiously preserved parchments, scrolls, and tomes.
Obadiah ran up to them, followed by a panting Methuselah.
‘They are nearly finished with the second count, milord,’ Obadiah reported. ‘The final count will be ready by dusk.’
Methuselah wrung his hands. ‘It is no use – there is not one uncontaminated generation. We have been through them meticulously.’
Jether looked up towards the enormous crystal chandeliers hanging from the vast frescoed ceilings. ‘That this day would ever be upon us . . . ’ He wiped his forehead with a great white handkerchief. ‘Methuselah, summon the full councils for the results of the final count.’
Methuselah hurried from the room, muttering to himself under his breath.
‘This is Lucifer’s evil genius,’ Jether said grimly, still pacing. ‘The outworking of his diabolical mind. He has planned meticulously that there should not be one family line left uncontaminated. If there is not one uncontaminated, -Yehovah will be forced to destroy them all. He hopes to extinguish mankind forever – by Yehovah’s own hand!’
Xacheriel pointed across the library. Methuselah shuffled through the massive mahogany doors followed by Paolomi, the chief numberer, and twenty-one Ancient Ones.
Jether led them past the never-ending corridors of archives and up a golden spiralling staircase to the uppermost floor of the great library, where an enormous polished jacinth table was surrounded by twenty-four jacinth thrones that stood beneath the open heavens. Solemnly all twenty-four elders took their seats, Jether at the head. He nodded to Methuselah, who stood, the final report in his hands.
‘The numberers have scrupulously checked the records against those of our own. The final count was completed an hour ago.’ Methuselah looked down at his papers. ‘I regret to inform the council that the results are as follows. Paolomi, please read the findings.’
A tall angel rose, his gentle features grave. ‘Milords, revered high council of Yehovah, the demonic seed has not been confined to a specific sector of Homo sapiens. We have cross-referenced hundreds of thousands of halflings infected with every genealogical line on earth. Our findings reveal that the reproductive history of every Homo sapiens line is contaminated.’ Paolomi looked slowly around the table. ‘Not one genetic generation remains pure.’
‘There must be one!’ Xacheriel’s eyes flashed with passion.
‘Surely one?’ Jether pleaded.
‘No, milord.’ Paolomi bowed his head. ‘I am sorry.’
Jether covered his face with his hands. ‘A terrible evil has been perpetrated against mankind,’ he muttered. Slowly he looked up. ‘He has carefully crafted this.’ He slumped in his chair, haggard. ‘Truly, Xacheriel, this is a dreadful day.’
The council gathered in small groups, speaking in horrified whispers. One of Methuselah’s record keepers ran to his side and handed him a sheaf of papers. They whispered intensively.
Methuselah, surprise on his face, shuffled over to Jether, who was staring straight ahead, his hand still covering his mouth in horror.
‘Honourable Jether,’ Methuselah whispered, ‘this did not reach your desk.’
Jether looked up at him, his mind reeling, barely conscious of the upheaval around him and unable to bring himself to speak.
Methuselah stood fixed like stone. ‘It took us longer than we would have liked to get the results . . . ’ He held out a paper, his wizened hands trembling.
Methuselah pushed the paper under Jether’s nose. Jether halfheartedly took it from him and scanned the information. Then his mouth dropped open in wonderment. He rose to his feet and clasped Methuselah’s stooped shoulders. ‘You are sure?’
Methuselah nodded emphatically. ‘The numberers have cross-referenced it four times.’
Jether thrust the paper to Xacheriel, suddenly exuberant. Xacheriel studied it intently through his monocle.
Jether held Methuselah at arm’s length, then drew him closer and kissed him fervently on both cheeks, his shoulders heaving with an unrestrained euphoric laughter. He snatched Methuselah’s papers back from Xacheriel and held them high above his head in exultation. ‘There is one! There is one!’
The entire assembly quieted. The Ancient Ones and Paolomi turned to stare at the exhilarated Jether, who slowly laid the papers down.
‘There is one! A just and upright man, perfect in his generations.’ Jether’s voice was intense. ‘One who worships Yehovah. One whose bloodline is not contaminated. He is our only hope for the continuation of the race of men. His name is . . . ’ Jether looked over the rapturous Xacheriel’s shoulders.
‘His name is Noah!’
Xacheriel glanced at the huge stopwatch dangling from his neck. He turned to Jether. ‘I’m late! The simulation . . . the younglings will be impatient.’
Xacheriel pushed open the simulator door.
At least twenty youngling apprentices were gathered around a huge simulation of Earth’s crust. A miniature bargelike ship sat in the centre of a mammoth tank of water.
At Xacheriel and Jether’s entrance, the younglings bowed deeply. ‘We await you, our revered curator of the universes and sciences.’
Xacheriel smiled broadly and moved to the centre of the activity.
‘And milord Jether,’ the younglings said, ‘exalted steward of Yehovah’s mysteries.’
Jether bowed and took his place seated in the simulator next to Xacheriel.
Xacheriel nodded. ‘You may proceed, Tirzah.’
Tirzah’s attention was on the miniature bargelike structure resting on the simulated Earth’s crust. He pressed a remote control, and a light rain started to fall from above them onto the simulation. The intensity of the rain grew to a torrent.
Tirzah bowed to Xacheriel. ‘We have christened it “the ark,” milord.’
‘Humph!’ Xacheriel sighed deeply.
The younglings tittered. Jether gave them one of his best dark looks, and they immediately quieted.
Jether and Xacheriel exchanged an amused private glance. Then Xacheriel frowned deeply, his bushy eyebrows almost meeting. ‘Scientific data, Tirzah. Data, not baptisms.’
Jether’s gaze was riveted on the ‘ark,’ which was being tossed around violently. A youngling bowed and handed each of them a pair of infrared viewfinders. Xacheriel and Jether placed them over their eyes and foreheads. Instantaneously they were transported into the very epicentre of the simulated storm.
Tirzah’s narration echoed in the simulator audio. ‘When Earth’s supporting pillars collapse, huge tidal waves will be generated into the surface and subterranean waters. The pillars will be crushed like powder into rock fragments that accelerate into space.’
Xacheriel and Jether reeled into the horrifyingly lifelike simulation of Earth’s supporting pillars collapsing, generating huge tidal waves. The pillars collapsed with such violence that pieces of them accelerated into space as meteoroids.
Tirzah’s monotone continued. ‘Meanwhile the boiling black subterranean water – six hundred degrees – ruptures Earth’s crust, creating giant cleavages. High-velocity fountains of black mud jettison high above Earth. Oceans of water explode from these fissures.’
Xacheriel and Jether rode the ark on the waters in simulation as it was beaten violently by the turbulent floodwaters and meteorite fallout – narrowly escaping being smashed to smithereens.
Finally, Xacheriel could take no more. He flung his infrared viewfinders
‘Tirzah . . . transfer it to the pulsar radar system immediately,’ Xacheriel barked. ‘Run the playback.’
Slowly the hologram of the ark re-materialized in front of them. The entire chamber watched, speechless, as the great ship rode the tsunami-like waves, battered but whole.
Xacheriel rubbed his forehead wearily and heaved a loud sigh. ‘Open the door,’ he instructed quietly. Slowly the ark’s door opened. ‘Scan for body readings.’
A laser pulsar calculated the body readings, which appeared as laser-green mathematical calculations in the air above them.
Xacheriel wrung his hands. ‘As I feared . . . every human being and animal inside the ark – dead, smashed to a pulp!’
‘With great respect, sire,’ Tirzah beamed, ‘they drowned before they were smashed!’
Jether shook his head in despair. ‘An entire race – wiped out . . . ’
Rakkon raised his hand eagerly. ‘If I may speak, sire?’
Xacheriel rolled his eyes and lifted his hand wearily. ‘Speak if you must, Rakkon.’ He turned to Jether. ‘He is a bright youngling, this one.’
‘Surely it seems much simpler just to transport them here and save the new race.’
Xacheriel’s ears turned beetroot red. He slammed the table. ‘His brightness has diminished!’ He glowered at Rakkon, who was now shaking like jelly. ‘How many times must I spell it out? Their cellular component is matter – they would die on entry. We have to keep them alive in their own tailor-made atmosphere. There is no other way. We must find the solution.’
Xacheriel twirled his long moustache, then slammed his staff on the ground. ‘Reconfigure the length-to-width ratio of six to one. Rakkon! That comes out to 137.16 metres by 22.86, with a height of . . . ’
Rakkon wrote in the air like lightning.
Xacheriel paced up and down the simulator, muttering as one inspired. ‘ . . . 13.716 metres . . . The total volume equates to 1,518,000 cubic feet – twenty thousand tons. We must build a ship that is impossible to turn over!’
Tirzah spoke up. ‘Permission to interject, milord?’
Tirzah saluted. ‘With the capacity at over twenty thousand tons, at three storeys, it’s almost impossible!’
Rakkon jumped in front of Tirzah. ‘And the leaking propensity, sire – we’re dealing with an unenlightened race; the materials to work with are almost prehistoric . . . it leaks no matter what we put on it, at every pitch of the sea . . . ’
Jether raised his head from his supplications. The younglings stared at him as one, subdued, silent. ‘Younglings, younglings. Yehovah loves this man and His creation. He will not see them perish.’ He rose to his feet. ‘We have to find a way.’
Xacheriel was pacing again, his muttering accelerating. ‘It leaks . . . leaks . . . at every pitch of the sea. Pitch of the sea . . . pitch . . . ’ He stopped in mid-stride. ‘Pitch! Rakkon, you are a genius!’
Jether frowned. ‘You have something?’
Xacheriel slapped him vigorously on the back. ‘Pitch, Jether! Pitch will make the ship waterproof – the gopher wood needs a lining to stop the leaks. What was I thinking of? Tirzah, Rakkon, get us pitch, and don’t delay!’
* * *
The Holy Mountain was wreathed in silver mists and lightning that struck far above the rock face. The Holy Watchers guarded the sacred entrance to the throne room where the seven scorching columns of eternal white fire blazed.
Jether approached Michael and Gabriel from out of the flames. ‘He would not destroy them,’ he said softly.
‘But their DNA is contaminated!’ Gabriel exclaimed. ‘It is defiled by demons.’
Jether nodded. ‘He knows. If He does not destroy the demon seed, the race of man is lost to Him forever. His decision is made, but still He grieves for this man He so loves and has lost.’ Jether sighed deeply and turned to Michael. ‘Go to Him, Michael. He awaits you. He would issue His commands.’
Michael and his dread generals approached Earth at great speed. They passed through the canopy of moisture and descended to the desert floor, riding like lightning. Michael tore across the desert on his magnificent white steed, his thousand angelic generals close behind him. They flew over the vast desert plains and mountains until they came to a full league from the forbidding black castle walls.
Michael lifted his visor. ‘We must arrest all two hundred of his generals,’ he said. ‘I will take Zadkiel myself. May Yehovah guard our souls.’ He saluted, shut his visor, and galloped ahead, his stallion’s hooves thundering towards the tower keep.
They thundered over the moat’s bridge and straight through the thousands of arrows fired by the human crossbowmen through the loopholes of the castle. Michael’s legions smashed the portcullis and rode into the forecourt as the petrified guards threw their crossbows down in terror and ran for their lives.
Michael and his generals burst through the heavy wooden doors of the castle and surged into the huge banqueting room.
Seated at the head of the banqueting table, devouring a cow’s leg, sat Gadreel, surrounded by his demonic underlings. He leered malevolently. ‘If it isn’t His Highness, pretty Prince Michael. Come to settle a score, have you?’
Michael’s face was grim. He nodded to Raphael. ‘You know what to do. I search for Zadkiel, supreme commander of His Excellency Lucifer’s armies.’
Gadreel took another huge, slobbering bite of the cow’s leg and wiped his mouth on his chain-mailed arm. ‘My master, Abaddon, is occupied,’ he growled. He looked towards the stairs. ‘He copulates . . . ’ Gadreel leered at Michael. ‘As for me . . . I am not so taken with the daughters of men. But you, my pretty . . . ’
Michael raised his sword. His face was impassive.
Gadreel nodded to his angelic rabble and licked his lips suggestively at Michael. A dark, demonic fire filled their eyes as they stared at him. ‘We have unfinished business, my prince . . . ’ Gadreel’s face contorted into a vicious mask. He drew his metre-long broadsword, as did his hundred fallen angelic followers. Michael’s warriors squared off against them.
With one deft move, Michael knocked Gadreel’s sword from his hand and edged him against the stone wall, the Sword of Justice at his heart, emitting ruby lightning.
A raging fury filled Gadreel’s face. ‘Michael and his white sorceries!’ he roared.
Michael turned to his generals. ‘Shackle him,’ he commanded.
Mayhem ensued as Gadreel’s warriors threw tapered axes and swung their morning stars, clashing savagely with Michael’s warriors. Broadswords and quarterstaffs clashed violently; axes and maces flew into shoulders, heads, and thighs. Eight of Michael’s angelic warriors shackled the rabidly fighting Gadreel with heavy iron chains all across his body and shackled his feet together in heavy irons. They rolled him into the centre of the room, face down.
‘We seek only the generals,’ Michael said.
‘You seek for me, then.’
Michael looked up the ornate staircase to see Zadkiel, dressed only in his shift, staring down at him. Michael inhaled sharply. His eyes were pained from many memories – as were Zadkiel’s.
Zadkiel bowed. His princely tones were gentle. ‘His Excellency, the esteemed Prince Michael.’
Michael bowed. ‘Zadkiel, supreme commander of Lucifer’s armies.’ He paused. ‘I come only for the perpetrators.’
Zadkiel backed up the stairway, strangely perplexed. A beautiful fair-skinned woman – a daughter of man – walked towards Zadkiel swathed only in a cloth. Her body was covered with jewelled bangles and pierced with silver ornaments, her dazzling face adorned with cosmetics. Braided golden tresses hung to her thighs.
‘Zadkiel . . . ’ She held out her delicate ringed hand to him.
Zadkiel stared back at Michael, his eyes assessing the situation. He stared down at the chained Gadreel, the dreadful comprehension dawning. He looked at Michael, horrified. ‘I am not an animal like some of these.’ He gestured to Gadreel. ‘You of all know this, Michael . . . ’
Michael looked down at the floor, refusing to meet Zadkiel’s gaze. ‘The punishment for transgressing the eternal law is clear and irrevocable. For cohabiting with forbidden flesh, you and your generals are to be to be cast in eternal chains into hell – the pit of gloom – until the Day of Judgment.’
Zadkiel blanched. ‘Michael!’ he pleaded. ‘I beg you, no!’
Michael’s chin set in a firm line. ‘Zadkiel, mighty leader of Yehovah’s Holy Watchers, partaker of the fellowship of Christ . . . Lucifer has used you. You did his bidding, and your reward was the delectable pleasures of the flesh.’ For a fleeting moment Michael lost his iron discipline, raw with the emotion and vulnerabilities of their age-old friendship. ‘You violated the sacred mysteries of Yehovah – the forbidden knowledge . . . ’ His voice broke, raw with anger and grief. ‘At what price such treachery, Zadkiel?’ His mouth trembled. ‘Your eternal soul?’
Zadkiel’s countenance filled with a deep bitterness. ‘Then cast him in the pit. Your blood brother is the supreme master of treachery – he surely is the diabolical master of this scheme.’
Michael shook his head. ‘In this matter Lucifer is untouchable. We can take only the ones who did his bidding. This he well knows.’
Zadkiel dropped to his knees, the full web of Lucifer’s treachery suddenly apparent. ‘He betrays his own generals?’ he murmured, his voice unsteady.
Michael slung off his helmet and walked up the steps, for a fleeting moment no longer the warrior but the friend, his face a hand’s-breadth away from Zadkiel’s. ‘Why did you not return with us when you had the opportunity?’ He grasped Zadkiel’s shoulders with his fierce strength. ‘The Christ called for you by name.’ His voice shook with passion. The darkness lifted momentarily from Zadkiel’s eyes, and Michael caught a fleeting glimpse of the Zadkiel of old.
The Fall of Lucifer by Wendy Alec / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes