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The fall of lucifer, p.18
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.18

           Wendy Alec
 
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  Jether’s lips tightened. He held his hand out towards Charsoc.

  Charsoc nodded and drew out a golden pouch with his bony ringed fingers. He withdrew a missive sealed with Lucifer’s royal seal and placed it in Jether’s grasp. Jether tore it open, scanning the contents.

  Finally he looked up. ‘So, it is as my premonition bade me. He would lodge his claim against the race of men.’

  Charsoc shrugged. ‘They have deserted Yehovah. He demands judgment.’

  Jether nodded wearily. ‘It is written in eternal law. He is legally entitled to lodge a claim against mankind in the courts of heaven.’

  Charsoc paced leisurely up the bank.

  ‘You have disclosed the contents of the codices?’ Jether asked.

  Charsoc gestured to his sightless eyes. ‘My master’s rewards are more compelling than your overlords have been of late.’

  ‘Transgression is reduced to ashes in His presence, Charsoc. This you well knew.’

  ‘Yes, yes. I should really have been more careful. Well, really, I should have been burned to a crisp.’

  ‘You are fully cognizant of all our undisclosed tenets, Charsoc. I take it that Lucifer is now well informed about them as well.’

  ‘Well informed,’ Charsoc said. ‘We will ensure they are used to complete man’s total eradication from our universe. He would enforce the penalty that every man’s soul is his to be with him in hell and the grave and in Tartarus. And when his judgment comes, they will burn with him in the lake of fire.’

  ‘And you, Charsoc?’

  ‘That is all.’ Charsoc lifted his bangled arm. ‘ I will take my leave.’

  Jether indicated agreement and turned, the hot, dry south wind blowing his robes. ‘Charsoc,’ he whispered, staring out beyond the blue glazed bricks of the upper levels of the ziggurats glistening in the scorching Babylonian sun. ‘You who were privy to so much, ruler of the ancient elders of the Ancient of Days, high steward of His sacred mysteries . . . ’ He turned and stared directly into Charsoc’s face. ‘Why did you betray us?’

  Charsoc smiled thinly, and his pale blue eyes stared ahead expressionless. ‘I told you, Jether – I am a pragmatist. In simple terms, I wanted more.’

  With that he vanished back into the mists of the Tigris.

  * * *

  Jether was seated at the enormous lapis lazuli table in the lower vestibule of the Great Elders’ Hall, almost completely obscured from view. Only his crown was visible behind the numerous stacks of ancient tomes of eternal law that surrounded him.

  ‘It is untenable!’ he uttered in exasperation, closing yet another of the great jewelled tomes. Distractedly, he placed it next to the remaining volumes, then rose to his feet wearily and began pacing the cavernous room. He stared out of the wide crystal windows surrounding the great hall and gazed towards the Holy Mountain, then sighed deeply.

  ‘What is it that ails you, old friend?’

  Jether turned slowly from the vast crystal windows. An imperial figure stood in the upper vaults of the hallowed, ancient willow sanctum of the elders, looking down at him. ‘Ah, Michael,’ he sighed. ‘It is this claim of Lucifer’s.’

  Michael walked down the grand willow stairs and came to stand beside the lapis lazuli table, where Lucifer’s missive lay with the seal exposed. He frowned. ‘You have not yet lodged the claim?’

  Jether shook his head. ‘I cannot.’ His lips formed a thin line. ‘Not until I have searched every jot and tittle of the tomes of eternal law.’ He walked back to the table and sat heavily down in the midst of the tomes. ‘Eternal law,’ he muttered, turning the pages. ‘The race of men, conditions and ramifications, man’s desertion of Yehovah, man’s transgression of eternal law . . . ’ He turned another page and ran a gnarled finger across the ancient inscription. The angelic writings instantly took on a life of their own, the contents of the tome displaying themselves in the air as thousands of pulsing blue hieroglyphics.

  The automated voice of the narration expounded: ‘If a claim be lodged against the race of men that can be proven that the race of men has persistently and without penitence committed desertion and has transgressed eternal law, judgment will be due.’

  Michael crossed his arms. ‘There is no remittance?’

  ‘No.’ Jether shook his head. ‘It is Yehovah’s wish to mete out mercy, but the claimant has demanded judgment. And Yehovah is just, Michael. He cannot judge Lucifer and his fallen angelic host and not mete out the same judgment to man. Their transgressions are the same. Both were granted free will. Both have transgressed against Yehovah and eternal law as an act of their own volition.’

  Michael noticed Gabriel watching silently from the stairway. ‘Join us, brother.’

  ‘He is omniscient, Michael,’ Gabriel said as he walked towards them. ‘Yehovah knew even before He created the race of men that they would desert Him. He saw the great falling away of the race of men aeons back, before our universe was even created – and yet it pleased Him to create them.’

  ‘As it pleased Him to create Lucifer,’ Jether echoed. Jether opened a second tome and rifled unceremoniously through the pages. ‘Conditions of the race of men to pay the penalty of judgment according to the tenets of eternal law – without the shedding of undefiled blood there is no remission of sins for the race of men.’

  Michael inhaled sharply. ‘So there could be a remission?’

  ‘That’s right!’ Gabriel said. ‘The tomes explicate precisely that a substitute can meet the claim – or pay the penalty or the ransom; call it what you will – allowing the race of men to go free.’ He removed his blue velvet cloak and placed it over one of the ornate carved willow chairs, then sat down at Jether’s right hand.

  ‘Yes, that is true,’ Jether said wearily, ‘but under what conditions, my old pupil?’ Jether rubbed his wrinkled forehead. ‘Conditions that Lucifer has ensured man cannot possibly meet.’

  Gabriel passed his palm over the tomes. A bluish electric beam arced from his palm through the pages of the codex.

  The modulated voice narrated. ‘Tenet 7728891977 of the Code of Eternal Law. If one undefiled from the race of men is willing to shed his or her lifeblood on behalf of the race of men and become a substitute for judgment, the said race of men – inclusive of past, present, and future generations – will be released from eternal judgment by the death of that one. This is binding eternal law.’

  Gabriel spoke thoughtfully. ‘If one undefiled could be found from the race of men to trade his life . . . ’

  ‘It is impossible for man to carry out the terms!’ Jether said grimly. ‘Absolutely impossible! The substitute must be undefiled.’ He ran his palm down the tome. ‘Definition of “undefiled” as pertaining to the race of men.’

  The narration answered. ‘The substitute’s blood must be pure and untainted from the mutation of the Fall of man.’

  Jether leaned over and swiftly picked up Michael’s cinquedea. He nicked Michael’s arm, and the thin indigo fluid flowed out onto the table. ‘Our angelic blood is undefiled,’ Jether said. ‘Untainted from the Fall. But we as the angelic do not qualify as a substitute. The law specifies that any substitute be from the race of men. Every generation of the blood of the race of men is defiled by the Fall. They do not qualify. They are all tainted from the start.’

  Jether shook his head sadly. ‘Lucifer is a veritable master of the knowledge of the tomes of eternal law. He has painstakingly planned man’s demise. He knew of this possibility in the law, and he has made sure there would be no substitute.’

  Michael stood. ‘So, the claim can be met, but there is no man to meet it.’

  Jether nodded.

  Michael’s gaze was grim. ‘He has damned the entire human race!’

  Jether raised himself slowly to his feet. ‘Summon the Grand Councils of Heaven. I must go to Yehovah.’

  Chapter Thirty-two

  The Claim

  Over ten thousand of the angelic host were seated in four vast circles around a tall, jacin
th pulpit. In the inner circle sat the heavenly council, the twenty-four ancient monarchs, on their golden thrones. Lamaliel and Jether sat at opposite ends of the circle, while Michael and Gabriel were seated on two magnificent mother-of-pearl thrones set apart and slightly to the right of Jether’s.

  Obadiah and forty of Jether’s youngling scribes knelt before the pulpit, quills in hand. The sound of excited conversations filled the auditorium.

  Lamaliel walked to the pulpit, his white silk and gold cloak billowing. Jether wrote intensively, engrossed in studying the huge codices and archive papers.

  Lamaliel picked up the great gold hammer and crashed it three times. The enormous roaring of the angelic company across the auditorium was immediately silenced, their attention fixed on Lamaliel.

  ‘I bid you all welcome, full councils of Yehovah.’ He turned to the inner circle and bowed. ‘The Council of the Ancient Ones, stewards of Yehovah’s sacred mysteries.’

  The crowned elders rose and bowed in obeisance.

  ‘The councils of the outer universes.’

  A thousand in the next circle rose and bowed.

  ‘The councils of justice, presided over by Chief Prince Gabriel, lord chief justice of the angelic revelators.’

  Gabriel and two thousand of the angelic company rose as one and bowed low.

  ‘The warring councils, presided over by Chief Prince Michael, commander in chief of the armies of the First Heaven.’

  Michael and ten thousand of his glorious warriors rose as one and bowed their heads.

  Lamaliel turned to Jether, who sat at the far end of the table, now surveying the auditorium. He raised his eyebrows at Obadiah and the young scribes. Lamaliel nodded in understanding.

  ‘And let us not forget our students, eager to show themselves well approved by the Ancient of Days – the younglings of heaven, the scribes!’

  Obadiah and his group jumped to their feet in haste, all out of sync with one another, elbowing each other and bowing at irregular intervals.’

  ‘Scholars of the sciences and universes!’

  Xacheriel’s group jumped up, Rakkon and Tirzah waving their arms excitedly at the glowering Xacheriel, who laid his hand over his eyes to blot out the view. Jether watched, poker-faced apart from a cough into his hankie.

  Lamaliel gestured to the groups to quiet them, then turned to Jether. ‘My honoured colleague, Jether, please address the councils.’

  Jether rose to his feet, his features now weighted with strain. ‘The gravity of this assembly cannot be overemphasized,’ he stated, surveying the room. ‘We have been summoned here today to review the fate of mankind.’ Jether held up a missive sealed with Lucifer’s black royal seal. ‘A claim has been lodged in the courts of heaven against the race of men.’

  He stood without speaking for a full minute, then opened the codex before him. ‘It demands that they pay the highest penalty for their transgressions . . . that they be destroyed.’

  A ripple of horror circulated through the councils.

  Jether waved them quiet. ‘We have painstakingly searched the archives and studied the tenets. I can attest to this council that not a jot or tittle has been overlooked in our research. The facts remain. Yehovah, in His infinite mercy, allotted to mankind free will, establishing Himself as their Father as well as Creator. Man has continually and through all the aeons fallen to depravity, therefore incurring judgment.’ Jether picked up his papers. ‘The claim is both valid and binding in the courts of heaven, according to eternal law. Man is guilty and must be sentenced.’

  With heavy steps he returned to his throne. Gabriel clasped the old, veined hand. Michael leaned forward, and the three conferred in whispers as all around them the council erupted in noise and opinion.

  A young record keeper jumped up. ‘Destroy them, I say! I am sick to the heart of recording their lewd practices!’

  A second record keeper sprang to his feet. He sifted through the huge pile of records. ‘Greed . . . envy . . . fornication . . . theft . . . murder . . . lies . . . incest . . . treason. They are depraved!’

  More record keepers raised their voices from all sides of the auditorium. ‘I keep the records here,’ called one. ‘The race of men grows more evil each passing day. Destroy them, I say!’

  Michael stood up. The assembly quieted immediately, all eyes upon him. His voice was raised barely above a whisper. ‘’We, the hosts of heaven, do become liege servants of life and limb to the race of men, and in faith and truth we will bear unto you throughout eternity of eternities.” He looked over the angelic host. ‘Remember well our vow to the race of men all those aeons past, compatriots. We, the angelic host, are stewards of the race of men – their protectors. I would remind you that there is a greater perpetrator of mankind’s evil.’ He sat back down heavily.

  Gabriel stood. ‘The one that Michael speaks of used to lead this very council – his eloquent debates used to ring through these halls. It is he who has sown the seeds of his own iniquity among the human race. And why? Let us not forget his own diabolical envy of mankind’s position with Yehovah. His aim: to erase the human race from the universe and to break Yehovah’s heart.’

  A slow, solitary clapping resounded from the very back of the auditorium. Jether frowned, his ancient blue eyes alert. ‘Well spoken, Gabriel . . . ’ the familiar imperial tones rang out. A huge uproar broke out towards the back of the auditorium as a tall, white-hooded figure strode down the aisle of the auditorium. Half the assembly rose to their feet in horror. The remainder sat, stunned. A dreadful silence fell.

  Horrified, Michael rose, drawing his broadsword. Jether grasped Michael’s wrist and frowned fiercely from under his bushy eyebrows. Lucifer watched them from across the chamber. Grimly, Michael replaced his sword in its sheath and sat back down.

  Lucifer ceremoniously walked across the floor to the pulpit and stood before the assembly, brazen. ‘Their crime is heinous,’ he cried. ‘It is unpardonable. The race of men must be destroyed!’

  He flung his hood away from his face, revealing his scarred, ravaged features. The assembly sat in horror, appalled. Lucifer raised his gnarled hand into the shimmering living stream of atoms of Yehovah’s light shafts blazing through the crystal dome above him. The gnarled, yellowed nails morphed, becoming short and clear. Lucifer stared in marvel at his now perfect hand. A fleeting vulnerability, an ever-so-fleeting wonder, crossed his face. He turned to the blinding, pulsating light, shaking his head from side to side, bathing his deformed features frantically in it. Again he appeared Lucifer, the beautiful son of the morning.

  ‘It is his former state,’ Gabriel gasped. ‘The angel of light!’

  ‘He is on holy ground,’ Michael said grimly. ‘He suffers no ill effects from the purity of Yehovah’s presence here as long as he is not in direct proximity.’

  ‘Do not be deceived.’ Jether’s ancient blue eyes became steel. ‘His iniquity is deep-rooted – he cannot maintain this form.’

  Lucifer walked deliberately over to Jether and stood directly in front of him. Jether stared back, unwavering.

  ‘Why, Jether, your most avid scholar is back.’ Lucifer smiled sinisterly. ‘To confirm your worst nightmare.’

  Michael pushed out his chair and stood to his feet.

  Without breaking his gaze, Jether placed his hand on Michael’s arm. He shook his head. Gabriel turned his head away from Lucifer, suddenly intent on studying the codices.

  Lucifer laughed triumphantly and turned to face the councils. ‘In the archives of Perdition every generation of Homo sapiens is registered, with all its evil deeds. Their darkened intelligence, their degraded wills . . . their iniquity.’

  There was an outburst of horror as his words sank in.

  ‘The records are meticulous. Even my fastidious mentor Jether will find them indisputable.’ He strode to the podium, his beautiful features starting to scar. ‘They are a race of rebels! I, their rightful sovereign, put man on trial!’ He made a sweeping motion with his hand, and thousan
ds of records appeared across the chamber. ‘I lodge my claim against mankind in the courts of heaven. He cannot banish me to the lake of fire and not banish man. I demand judgment!’

  He lifted his rapidly gnarling hands to the heavens. ‘The penalty must be paid. Every man’s soul is mine – to be with me in hell and the grave and in Tartarus. And when my judgment comes, they will burn with me in the lake of fire!’

  Lucifer stopped in mid-speech and turned his head. He stared intently at Gabriel; then an evil smile spread across his face. His gaze moved to Jether, who sat completely still, not a muscle on his face moving. Lucifer walked to where the brothers and Jether sat. He grabbed the codex from Gabriel’s grasp and scanned it. Then he threw it aside and leaned his face near to Jether’s.

  ‘What are you up to, old man?’ he hissed. ‘Angelic blood cannot be shed – it does not qualify as the substitute mentioned in that book. Our blood is astral. Only one born from the race of men can meet the legal demands and pay the penalty!’ He turned to the hushed spectators, his maniacal laugh resounding through the auditorium. ‘And man’s blood is tainted, mutated from the Fall. Even the line of Noah. How easily it succumbed.’ He swung back around to Jether. ‘His scheme is flawed, old man. There is not one left pure. I claim my prize – the race of men must be destroyed!’

  He stopped in mid-sentence. Sweat poured from his temples, and he seemed strangely weakened. His breathing became slow and laboured. The councils watched, transfixed, as his great strength ebbed from him. He leaned trembling against the podium, his head fallen over his chest, incapacitated.

  ‘Christos,’ Jether whispered.

  A blinding light became visible at the back of the auditorium. Christos appeared and raised His hand, and instantly the Grand Councils froze in time. The council members on each side of the auditorium stood as wax figures staring straight ahead. Christos walked imperially down the grand sapphire steps of the chamber, drawing closer to where Michael, Gabriel, and Jether all knelt, paralysed. He stopped directly in front of the Lucifer, who had collapsed on the podium.

 
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