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The fall of lucifer, p.19
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.19

           Wendy Alec
 
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  ‘Lucifer.’

  With intense effort, Lucifer raised his head inches from the podium. He was trembling as he stared into His countenance. Completely vulnerable.

  ‘Christos . . . ’

  Gently Christos moved the raven locks that had fallen across Lucifer’s face.

  Lucifer’s tormented eyes locked on the eyes of Christos. He clasped Christos’ hand, his grasp so fierce that Christos flinched. A deep serenity crossed Lucifer’s countenance, and a smile flickered at the corners of his mouth.

  Christos looked upon him, deeply moved. ‘Lucifer,’ Christos said softly, ‘it is dangerous for you to kick against the goad.’

  Lucifer’s eyelids closed heavily.

  There was a long silence. ‘When He destroys the race of men,’ his voice was a whisper, ‘then I will repent.’

  Christos vanished.

  The Grand Councils broke from their paralysis. Lucifer stormed up the aisle. Several younglings stood to their feet in awe, hastily pulled back into their seats by their mentors. The great doors slammed as chaos broke out in the councils.

  Michael stared angrily around the room. ‘Would we give him licence to gain his end? We play into his hands. Surely not!’ He hit the table with his palm. ‘We must find a way.’ He strode after Lucifer, his sword drawn.

  Gabriel looked up from the tomes to Jether, who sat unmoving on his throne.

  ‘I go to Yehovah,’ Jether said at last. ‘I will tell Him we have failed. The race of men is lost to Him forever.’

  * * *

  Michael tore across the golden meadows after Lucifer’s swiftly disappearing black stallion. He had speculated that his brother could not have resisted one last dash across the eastern gardens that he had once so cherished. He had guessed well. He urged Ariale on, gaining on Lucifer with each second until he was almost neck and neck with his elder brother.

  Lucifer turned, his hood flying in the gales, his disfigured face now fully visible under Eden’s lilac horizon. Michael leaned across and pulled on Lucifer’s reins with his great strength. The stallions whinnied as both magnificent steeds finally drew to an uneasy halt.

  Michael and Lucifer remained mounted, staring at each other: Michael, raw with emotion, fierce; Lucifer, inscrutable. Both seemed dwarfed by the sheer majesty of the undulating rainbow horizons surrounding them.

  Lucifer saluted and bowed his head in recognition to Michael. ‘I greet you, my brother, Chief Prince Michael, full of wisdom and valour.’ He put his hand up to his head, realizing that it was uncovered.

  He winced. For a fleeting moment, Michael thought he appeared almost vulnerable. He remembered their last moments in this meadow, before evil had taken its full course, when he had clung, sobbing, to Michael, pleading with him to save his soul.

  ‘I read your mind, Michael.’ They stared at each other for a long moment. ‘You would urge me to repent.’

  Michael nodded. He closed his eyes and bowed his head, suddenly unable to trust himself to speak. The memories of their brotherhood swept over him like all-consuming, searing waves that sought to drown him in their ferocity.

  Lucifer expelled a terrible, trembling sigh. ‘I miss Him, Michael . . . ’ His voice was barely above a whisper. A terrible suffering clouded his features as he stared up at the seven spires.

  ‘You were His shining one,’ Michael entreated. ‘His confidant . . . ’

  ‘Evil’s hold is far-reaching in me, my brother.’ Lucifer swallowed hard. ‘There is no way back.’

  Michael raised his head; tears coursed down the noble cheeks. He wiped them away with the back of his hand, not caring. ‘His mercies are endless.’

  ‘There is no restitution for me,’ Lucifer whispered. For a fleeting moment Michael could swear that Lucifer’s eyes were wet. He gazed directly at Michael without guile, as when they were younglings. ‘Even if I wanted it to be so.’

  Michael was silent.

  ‘You will tell our Father of our conversation?’

  Michael gazed a long time at his brother’s blistered, ruined features. He nodded almost imperceptibly.

  ‘Thank you.’

  ‘I pity you, Lucifer,’ Michael whispered. His eyes filled with a terrible love and a terrible sorrow.

  Lucifer looked back at him with a strange fire in his eyes and spoke a tongue that was neither angelic nor of man. And then he was gone.

  Chapter Thirty-three

  The Holy Mountain of God

  You were on the holy mountain of God;

  You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.

  You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,

  Till iniquity was found in you.

  Indigo lightning struck far above the rock face of the Holy Mountain. The sacred rubied entrance to the throne room was barely visible, wreathed in the silver glistening mists that rose and fell in Eden’s zephyrs. Seven scorching columns of eternal white fire blazed fiercely and unrelentingly at the outer entrance of Yehovah’s palace. An immense flaming rainbow was suspended directly over the mountain. Hues of every spectrum ebbed and flowed in intensity from violets and indigos through pinks and vermilions. Yehovah’s eternal remembrance of the race of men.

  Michael, his white steed held by Sachiel, paced incessantly up and down the gardens outside the entrance. Gabriel stood silent near him. Finally he spoke.

  ‘They convene for many moons over the fate of man.’

  Michael turned from his pacing, grief etched across his features. ‘He is filled with a great and terrible regret. His heart is broken that so easily they have deserted Him.’

  His voice broke with sorrow. Gabriel clasped his arm gently. ‘There are still those of the race of men who love Him and seek after His presence.’

  The colossal golden doors of the rubied entrance opened. Jether, exhausted, walked past the Watchers towards the brothers, his head covered by his grey mantle. ‘Yehovah mourns,’ he said softly. ‘He cannot be comforted.’ He looked at the brothers silently for a long moment, then bowed his head.

  ‘He loves them beyond our comprehension . . . ’

  He looked at them, his features etched with grief. ‘The penalty will be paid.’

  Michael stared at Jether, uncomprehending. ‘He will destroy man?’

  ‘No,’ Jether said, his eyes filled with agony. ‘He will send Himself.’

  * * *

  Michael rode bareback for a hundred leagues, his white stallion’s hooves thundering across the fields of Eden, his blond hair flying. The tears dried on his strong, noble countenance. His soul was aflame with unanswered questions and raw with pain.

  He came to a halt on the western side of the Holy Mountain, at the back of the entrance to the throne room, outside the western labyrinths of the seven spires. He dismounted and lowered his head as he entered the sacred caverns. His path was lit only by the flaming eternal torches high against the walls of the caverns, which were fuelled by the burning coals of the seven spirits of Yehovah.

  There were seven hidden chambers in the mountain, each descending into the inner sanctum of the labyrinths. Michael knew that the mountain held some of the answers he desperately sought. Aeons had passed since he had last walked these paths with Jether. The memory was still as vivid as if it had been yesterday.

  He had been just seven moons of age, a fledgling prince, clutching his mentor’s muscled arm tightly, his eyes screwed shut at the same strange and terrible apprehension that nearly overwhelmed him now. And so they had passed the first flame, Wisdom, though he knew not to look or stop as he kept at Jether’s steady pace.

  Then they passed Discretion and Valour, but still they did not stop. They ascended to a higher chamber, and as they neared the fourth flaming eternal torch, the young Michael fell prostrate, as if dead, onto the stony chamber bed. And he had heard a voice, at once within and without, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy – worthy is the Ancient of Days.’

  The youngling raised his chin awkwardly off the chamber floor. Jether’s
hand was upon his head, and a terrible burning sensation raced through his body. All at once he was upon his feet . . . he knew to look.

  In front of him blew a stormy wind, and out of the wind burned a great cloud with a fire, and great lightning and flashings came out of the fire. Out of the fire came four living creatures – the mighty cherubim of Yehovah. The four-winged, four-faced creatures bowed in obeisance to the Ancient of Days. As they did, Michael could see the face of an eagle at the back of their heads. The eternal burning torch of Yehovah was in the midst of them, containing the burning coals moving to and fro among them. Out of the coals, lightning blazed. And beneath them were whirling wheels of living flame.

  Then he saw Jether’s face glow as burnished bronze, his skin translucent with the glory of God. He walked into the midst of the whirling wheels of the cherubim. Michael saw a cherub stretch forth his hand and fill both of Jether’s hands with the burning coals of fire. Jether came out of the midst of the cherubim, and as he spoke, it was as though his voice shook the chamber: ‘Michael, partake of the stones of fire.’

  It was a command. As though magnetized, the young prince started to walk, and as he walked, the cavern bed suddenly became a living, burning mass of gleaming sapphires, burnished as the summer sky. He found himself walking in the midst and up and down on the burning sapphire stones of fire.

  ‘The fires of holiness,’ said Jether. And as he spoke, he touched Michael’s lips with the red-hot coals. Michael felt the burning white-hot sensation flood through his spirit, soul, and body. It was as though Yehovah Himself had passed through him. He was flung to the ground.

  ‘Consume!’ Jether commanded.

  Again the lightning bolts of holiness invaded him.

  Michael shook with a trembling that would not stop. When he looked up, it seemed to him that many moons had passed. The living creatures and the whirling wheels were gone. Only the burning eternal flame on the chamber wall remained.

  Jether’s weathered face peered down at him as he tenderly lifted the young Michael’s still trembling limbs from the floor. ‘You did well, young prince.’

  Michael gazed up at him, still feeling the red-hot fire coursing through his veins.

  Jether smiled tenderly. ‘You will not return until the appointed time.’

  And Michael never had . . . until now.

  * * *

  He walked, head bowed, past the third eternal flame. But as he ascended higher into the chamber, a familiar dread seemed to fill his being. His ascent continued, climbing deep into the heart of the labyrinths. He stopped for breath.

  His eyes were growing accustomed to the strange, unearthly light. He could vaguely make out eight or nine tall forms next to the fourth burning lamp: the Watchers, guardians of the flame. Tall and silent warriors, they stood with flaming broadswords. No word had ever been uttered from their mouths, for their mouths had been sealed with the very coals that they were guarding.

  Michael stood next to the cavern wall, catching his breath. Beyond this point he had never dared venture. Nor had any archangel, for surely this was the hidden sanctum of the Ancient Ones. What did the labyrinths house? Sacred mysteries? Hidden treasures of His person?

  The Watchers remained still. Michael saw them bow in recognition of his personage.

  A voice from somewhere deep within the chamber echoed, ‘Celestial prince of Yehovah’s presence, commander of heaven’s armies, full of holiness and valour.’

  As one the Watchers raised their flaming swords to him in brief acknowledgment . . . then returned to their worship of Yehovah.

  Michael continued through the darkness. As he passed the Watchers on the fifth level, a great and terrible fright took hold of him. Still he ascended . . . to the sixth eternal flame . . . past the very fear of Yehovah.

  Then he saw them: the Watchers of the seventh flame.

  The dread warriors’ faces were as flint. The Watchers beheld him. As one, they lifted the weapons that barred his way through to the seventh chamber. Slowly, so slowly, he walked on through a huge iron grid.

  Facing Michael was a strange and twisted crown. It was mesmerizing. He could hardly withdraw his eyes from it. In a manner that he did not understand, it held a strange and terrible beauty.

  Michael reached out his hand to it . . . it ripped his flesh. He withdrew in agony. As he looked more intently at the crown, he realized that it was made up of huge, jagged thorns.

  But he knew to move deeper into the cavern. As he did so, the Watchers drew back and disappeared. He was alone.

  As his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he saw a large hill far in the distance. Facing him in the darkness was a group of beings that seemed not to be angels, for their bodies were not transparent.

  ‘Man,’ Michael whispered.

  But as he watched more closely, he did not understand. For they were dressed as warriors in gold and crimson, but they were not of noble intent. They were jeering and laughing. He looked again and saw women; tears fell from their faces. Suddenly, he felt his attention drawn upward, and as he stared into the darkness, he saw the outline of a large, wooden cross.

  All at once he was gripped by a great terror. A voice said, ‘Come.’

  Michael drew nearer until he stood directly under the base of the cross. A warm and sticky liquid poured down upon his hands. His garments went crimson with blood, and as he looked up, he could make out the outline of a form hanging from the cross. Directly above his head, a pair of feet were impaled on one enormous crude iron nail. The hole gouged through the man’s sinews was a sight so terrible that Michael turned his face away.

  A chilling scream rang out from the impaled figure: ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!’ It resounded throughout the Holy Mountain as if the echo would never stop.

  Michael put his hands over his ears to block out the awful, chilling desolation and flung himself onto the cold earth of the cavern as vision after vision of the sufferings passed before him.

  He saw the crown of thorns being pushed into the man’s head until the blood saturated His matted hair. He saw Him scourged. And he saw, lying on the open hand of Him who was seated on the throne, a scroll, closed and sealed with seven seals. And he heard an angelic voice crying, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’

  No one in heaven or in earth or under the earth was worthy to open the scroll. Then one of the twenty-four elders cried, ‘See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has won. He can open up the seal.’

  It was many hours, maybe even days, later that Michael lifted his head off the ground to see a Lamb standing before him, with seven horns and seven eyes.

  The Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. The twenty-four elders fell prostrate on the ground, and they sang, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a royal race and priests to our God, and they shall reign over the earth.’

  He heard the voices of many angels on every side of the throne and of the living creatures and the elders, and they numbered ten thousand times ten thousand, and their voices thundered: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was sacrificed, to receive all the power and glory.’

  And every created thing cried out, ‘To Him who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honour and the majesty and might and dominion forever through eternities of eternities!’

  ‘Michael.’ The voice called to him as the sound of many waters. ‘Michael.’

  Slowly Michael raised himself to his knees. In front of his face were two feet of burnished bronze. They were gouged and scarred, the wounds still fresh. Above them the hem of a white garment dripped crimson blood onto the chamber floor.

  As the holiness and the glory of His presence coursed through Michael, he flung himself at His feet as if dead.

  A third time the voice called tenderly, ‘M
ichael . . . ’

  ‘Christos?’

  Christos reached down to Michael and took his hand in His.

  Michael saw the fresh, jagged wounds in His palms. As he rose to his feet, tears coursed down his cheeks. He could hardly speak for the terrible emotion that overcame him. ‘The Race of Men – they will do terrible things to You.’ Michael placed his hand on his broadsword, his heart filled with a dread fury. ‘I will protect You. I swear it!’

  The Christ smiled at him then. And in His smile were the mercies and compassion of a billion aeons. ‘Nay, My fierce and noble Michael – stay your sword.’ He placed His hand tenderly on Michael’s. ‘There is much I must suffer still at the hands of the race of men. Let this one thing be your comfort in the moons ahead: that these are the wounds of love.’

  He held out his palm to Michael. Slowly Michael reached out his fingers and touched the jagged wounds.

  Then he was falling. He fell and fell, as through a thousand worlds.

  Whether he was awake or slept, he would never be sure, but he awoke trembling and frozen on the ground, with a terrible dread. He sensed a figure standing over him, and he drew himself up, still shaking.

  The figure stared down at him gently. ‘The sacred mysteries, Michael.’

  Jether reached out for Michael’s hand. ‘Come. It is time.’

  Chapter Thirty-four

  The Vaults

  ‘The sacred vaults,’ Michael said in wonder.

  They stood in the seventh spire, before the stormy wind that burned with fire and great lightning and flashings. The mighty presence of the cherubim of Yehovah were visible through the iridescent light. Jether motioned to Michael to follow him.

  Beyond the veils stood an enormous vault between the cherubim, covered almost entirely by their golden wings. As Jether drew nearer, his face began to burn with what appeared to be living flames. He fell prostrate, weakened by the cascading glory, his face lying against the transparent golden floor.

  Michael watched silently from the entrance in awe as the cherubim’s wings unfurled, revealing the enormous golden vault. Carved on the right side were strange angelic writings of which Michael had no understanding . . . except for the small, beautifully carved sign in the centre that he suddenly recognized: a cross.

 
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