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Son of perdition, p.26
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       Son of Perdition, p.26

           Wendy Alec
 
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  ‘Died as one of them.’ A voice came from behind them.

  The brothers turned to find Jether outside the chamber.

  ‘He is touched with the feeling of their infirmities, with their weaknesses.’ Jether smiled gently. ‘He understands all the besetting things that ravage their souls.’

  Gabriel stared at Jether. ‘I have seen things too terrible to utter, Jether. The Seven Seals will be opened. The riders . . . ’

  ‘Beloved Revelator.’ Jether looked at Gabriel fondly. ‘You speak truly. You have journeyed many nights as a seer. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will soon ride the West Winds of the Race of Men to unleash their furies.’

  ‘The Race of Men – their world crumbles.’ Gabriel bowed his head.

  Jether walked over to him.

  ‘It is a strange thing, Gabriel.’ Jether laid his hand on Gabriel’s arm. ‘I have lived among them as one of the Angelic Unawares for more than four decades. I have seen evil and wickedness among the Race of Men that is unimaginable.’ Jether closed his eyes. ‘And untenable,’ he said softly. ‘Rape. Abortion. Cold-blooded murders. The most iniquitous of deeds.’

  He opened his eyes.

  ‘And yet . . . ’ A look of wonder crossed Jether’s wizened features. ‘And yet I have seen a love in the world of the Race of Men, that defies even our Angelic comprehension.’ Jether paused, deeply moved.

  ‘I have seen a mother sacrifice her life to save her child. I have seen grown men in war lay down their lives for their brothers. I have seen first-hand the most base and selfish of the Race of Men’s ways. And yet . . . ’ Jether raised his tear-stained face to Michael in wonder ‘I have seen their glory. I have seen His image – His imprint in them. Oh, what is man that He is mindful of them?’ Jether whispered.

  ‘There is worse.’ Gabriel spoke with his back to Jether and Michael. ‘I see Yehovah weeping.’

  Michael drew in his breath. Appalled.

  ‘Yehovah weeps for what is to come.’ Jether nodded. ‘The Great Tribulation upon the world of the Race of Men.’

  Michael bowed his head.

  ‘In precisely nine moons, Yehovah will hand over the execution of the Seven Seals to Christos. They are His subjects. He is their King.’

  Jether gazed out beyond the twelve pale blue moons of the First Heaven, beyond the shooting stars and lightning arcing over the Rubied Door, then raised his palm until the outline of the planet earth became faintly visible through the shifting lilacs of the horizon.

  ‘At the end of human history,’ Jether said, softly, ‘Yehovah turns at last from grace to judgement. He has compassionately, tenderly, invited the Race of Men, each and every one of them, decade after decade, aeon after aeon to companionship with Him. The End of all Ages is now upon us. He has been their lover.’

  Jether raised his gaze to the two brothers, his eyes burning fierce with intensity.

  ‘Now He will become their Judge.’

  Chapter Thirty

  Bolt from the Blue

  5 January 2022

  Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York

  Jason’s chauffeur closed the limousine door as Jason hurried out of the lashing rain, ducking under the white and gold canopy of the Fifth Avenue entrance of his newly acquired Central Park penthouse. The other Manhattan penthouse, which he and Julia had shared for seventeen years during their marriage, had finally been sold. Much to Julia’s delight and ensuring her lifetime financial liquidity, no doubt. He scowled.

  And Jason, to the shock of his family and associates, had unpredictably splashed out seventy million dollars of his personal trust fund on prime real estate. Now his primary New York residence. Deeded in the name of Lily De Vere.

  He strode into the lobby, nodded to the concierge in greeting and walked straight into the elevator. A pulse quickening forty seconds and forty-two floors later, its gilded doors opened onto the private elevator landing of the triplex penthouse that spanned the top three floors of the palatial chateau in the sky. Lulu bounded towards him at full speed, her tail wagging. He bent down and rubbed her head affectionately, then headed straight for the bar in the 2,500-square-foot grand salon.

  The room was ‘to die for,’ as Lilian would say. Decades ago it had been the entertainment hub of the elite of East and West Coast society. The Roosevelts, Kennedys, Reagans, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, even Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh had whiled away days and nights under what was now Jason’s roof.

  For the last forty years it had belonged to an inordinately wealthy Wall Street tycoon who was a complete social recluse. Jason flung his jacket over a sofa and poured himself a whisky.

  The cycle would continue. The salon would entertain only himself, Lily during her vacations and Lulu, surely the most pampered dog in Manhattan.

  He yawned. He desperately needed some shut-eye.

  He walked over to the soaring twenty-foot French doors and strolled onto the terrace. The moon was out. He stared at the panoramic view of Central Park, the skating rink and the glistening city lights. New York at night. The view was unbeatable.

  He sighed. The next few days would be relentless. A twelve-hour flight to Babylon, followed by dinner with the Iraqi Prime Minister and late-night drinks with Adrian. Then up at 6 a.m. for breakfast with the Minister of Telecommunications. At 8 a.m. the Ratification of the Concordat of King Solomon, then at 5 p.m. the final signing of the Ishtar Treaty.

  It would be the biggest media scoop in the world. And thanks to his little brother, VOX had the exclusive. Jason finished his whisky, then retraced his steps back inside and walked over to a marbled desk under the huge Palladian windows.

  He rifled idly through the mail laid out by his housekeeper. The usual. Junk mail. Bills. No personal mail. He hesitated, then picked up a cheap blue hand-addressed envelope at the very bottom of the pile. He studied the postmark – were those Chinese characters? Curious.

  Slitting it open with a paperknife, he turned it upside down. A tiny disk no larger than his thumbnail fell out, followed by a grubby piece of paper.

  Jason unfolded it. The handwriting was a scrawl, but legible.

  One to follow. Weaver.

  Jason crumpled the paper in his hand, picked up the disk and crossed the heated marble floors to the library. He switched on his laptop and inserted the disk, sinking down into his leather chair in front of the fireplace, refreshed whisky glass in hand. He studied the screen.

  The first document was a letter with his father’s signature at the bottom – James De Vere. He’d recognize that forceful italicized hand anywhere.

  He sighed. He missed his dad. He’d hardly seen him the year before he died.

  There was a second document signed in green ink.

  Scrolling back, he read James De Vere’s letter to Lawrence St Cartier, then leant back in his chair, staring blankly into the fireplace for several minutes.

  He brought up the second document and scanned it.

  Requisition for a live biological agent from Fort Detrich.

  A note of monies paid to low-level thugs in Amsterdam.

  His gaze dropped to a third file.

  Live AIDS virus delivered 4 April 2017. Injected 12.07 a.m. Signed warrant for Nicholas De Vere’s execution.

  Jason stared at the screen, stunned.

  What was it that Nick had written in his last note to Julia? ‘They gave me AIDS.’

  Jason ran his fingers through his hair, perplexed, then drank down the rest of his whisky and flipped open his phone. He scrolled down until he reached Xavier Chessler’s name. He paused, then continued scrolling past Smythe, Stephens, and St Clair. He stopped on St Cartier.

  Jason had always been fond of the old man. His mother trusted him implicitly. It seemed as though his father had, too.

  He studied the three phone numbers for St Cartier. London. Cairo. Alexandria.

  He hesitated. Lilian had said the old man was wintering at his apartment in Cairo. He’d get hold of him there.

  Chapt
er Thirty-one

  The First Seal

  Slowly, the colossal Rubied Doors of Yehovah’s throne room swung shut.

  Out of the rising mists, the twenty-four Ancient Kings of Heaven became visible. They were the High Stewards of Heaven – twenty-four of the wisest and most powerful of the angelic host of the First Heaven, who because of their faithfulness had been endowed with the Seven Seals of the Wisdom of Yehovah. Angelic elders of greatest humility who, having proven faithful through a million aeons, had been set in governance of the present end-time age of the Race of Men.

  They walked majestically up the nave of the throneroom attired in brilliant white raiments signifying their refusal to join the rebellion of Lucifer, and wearing crowns of gold that signified their victory in battle with the Fallen. The jewels on each elder’s crown represented love, joy, benevolence, serenity, fortitude, humility, forbearance, fidelity, chivalry and temperance.

  Leading them was Jether the Just – the most powerful ancient Angelic King of the First Heaven.

  ‘Jether the Just!’ an angelic herald proclaimed. ‘Steward of Yehovah’s ancient mysteries.’

  They stopped before the twenty-four golden thrones that stretched in a semicircle on either side of the gleaming sardius altar.

  Jether held his gold sceptre high before the angelic host and as one they bowed in accord.

  Jether took his throne, followed by Xacheriel who had taken Charsoc’s throne at Jether’s right hand, aeons before. Then the twenty-two remaining elders followed.

  ‘Gabriel the Revelator, Chief Justice. Prince of Archangels,’ a second angelic herald proclaimed. ‘Long may you reign with wisdom and justice.’

  Gabriel gravely followed the Ancient Kings through the Gates and into the throne room, Michael at his side.

  ‘Michael the Valiant, Commander of the armies of the First Heaven,’ the angelic herald proclaimed. ‘Long may you reign with justice and valour.’

  Michael walked beside Gabriel carrying the Sword of State. Together they walked towards the Seat of Kings. Their knights-in-arms fell into step behind them, solemnly bearing the banners of the Royal House of Yehovah.

  As one, the brothers knelt in the burning crimson mists that rose from the sardius altar.

  A huge shuddering and roar broke forth as flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder emanated from the throne-room walls, shaking the entire chamber. The throne room became bathed in the most brilliant and luminous of colours. The walls emanated a deep glimmering sardius, then almost at once transformed into the soft dappled azure of a million burning sapphires. Brilliant amethysts radiated from the immense, circular descending rainbow as Yehovah’s throne descended.

  Michael lay prostrate, his face pressed against the crystal floor, trembling.

  Jether, too, fell prostrate, his mouth moving in supplication and adoration as still Yehovah descended through the open dome. The Angelic Host fell prostrate as the great and terrible roaring of the Ancient of Days filled the chamber.

  Thousands of suns and myriad moons from millions upon millions of galaxies were woven as a living, pulsating tapestry of the cosmos that cloaked Yehovah’s being. From each moon and planet and from the millions of stars that radiated from the translucent cloak of His radiance, light waves resounded, oscillating throughout universe after universe – an inexorable tsunami of sound.

  The luminous white light of the chamber transformed into a dazzling amethyst brilliance, which turned to a glimmering emerald and then a robust sapphire – the spectrum of light reflected in Yehovah’s mantle. The rainbow seemed to stretch throughout the universe.

  Before Yehovah’s throne seven blazing torches burned a hundred feet high, seven columns of the intense white fires of holiness, and in the midst of each torch were the flaming coals of the Spirit of Yehovah – His eyes.

  And still the throne of His glory descended with Him. The floor of the throne room became as mercury, then transformed from fluid metal into a sea that was as living, breathing sapphire. It was transparent, and there was no flaw within it. Ear-splitting peals of thunder shook the chambers and it was as though the very atoms of the walls pulsated.

  And as the thundering subsided, blue lightning bolts, shot through with white fire, coursed through the cloak of the Ancient of Days, lighting up the universe in their wake.

  Yehovah’s countenance was hidden from view, veiled in burning clouds, but above His robes, in the place where His face should have been, a light shone like the orbs of a thousand brilliant suns.

  His beauty was indescribable. His tender mercies and compassions were unfathomable.

  And so, as One, He dwelt in the throne room. And as Three.

  For they were indivisible. And they were indissoluble.

  And when the throne and the One who sat on it had come to rest, Yehovah’s hands became visible through the thick luminous hanging mists of Glory.

  In His right hand He held an enormous scroll of linen parchment that emitted a burning white light.

  Gabriel stared in wonder at the scroll.

  ‘It is the scroll from the Ark of the Race of Men,’ he whispered, gazing at the glowing golden handwriting covering both the front and back of the scroll.

  The ancient angelic lettering emitted shafts of light, pulsing from Hebrew to Greek, to Arabic, then to ten thousand languages both of the ancient Angelic and of the Race of Men. The scroll was secured at the front by seven vast Seals crafted of fine gold, each with one enormous uncut diamond in its centre.

  Except for the First Seal. The First Seal had no diamond. But in its place was a stone of sardius.

  Michael raised himself up from the crystal floor, trembling. He looked over to Gabriel.

  ‘It is the Title Deeds to the Earth.’

  Gabriel nodded. ‘And the Chronicles of the entire universe. Yehovah holds in His hand the only record of the Chronicles of the Race of Men. Past. Present. And all that is to come. The consummation of all history. The Title Deeds have resided in the Ark. The Seven-Sealed Scroll has rested hidden below the twelve great Codices of the Ark in the lower Western Labyrinths of the Seven Spires for over two thousand years.’

  He raised his eyes to the throne in adoration.

  ‘Since the Great Sacrifice of the Lamb,’ Michael uttered.

  Gabriel nodded. ‘Waiting for the very end of days when it is to be opened. If none from the Race of Men is eligible to claim the Title Deed, the claim will be lost and Lucifer’s reign will never come to an end.’

  Michael stepped forward. His emerald-green eyes blazed with righteousness. He raised the Sword of State high.

  ‘Who in the Race of Men is worthy to open the book, and to loose the Seals thereof?’ he cried.

  ‘Who is worthy?’ the angelic heralds cried.

  Jether and the elders fell prostrate again. ‘We are not born of the Race of Men. We are not worthy!’ they cried.

  ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll?’ the angelic heralds cried a second time, this time to the ten times ten thousand of the Angelic Host.

  ‘We are not born of the Race of Men. We are not worthy,’ the roar of the Angelic Host resounded through the throne room.

  ‘Who in the Race of Men is worthy to open the scroll?’ the angelic heralds cried a third time, this time to the millions of the Race of Men gathered in the throne room, both of the righteous dead and those who had accepted the terrible sacrifice on Golgotha in aeons past.

  Jether raised his head. He surveyed Adam, then John the Baptist, then Moses and Elijah.

  Finally John the Baptist stood, his eyes blazing. Then he fell prostrate.

  ‘I am one born of the Race of Men. I am not worthy,’ he uttered, tears streaming down his face.

  Adam fell prostrate behind him. ‘I am one born of the Race of Men. I am not worthy.’

  Hundreds, then millions of the righteous dead fell prostrate across the throne room, each crying, ‘I am not worthy . . . I am not worthy.’

  Jether watched as King Aretas of Pet
ra and his daughter, Princess Jotapa, fell prostrate, tears streaming down their cheeks.

  ‘I am not worthy,’ the noble king uttered.

  ‘I am not worthy,’ Jotapa sobbed.

  ‘Jether the Just,’ Gabriel said, ‘read the consequences, according to Eternal Law, if the Seal remains unopened.’

  Jether stood.

  ‘If the Seal is not opened, Lucifer’s Kingdom stands for ever sealed on earth. His Kingdom comes. For ever and ever, without end. The Fall. The Curse. The utter misery he has wrought in the world of the Race of Men – his mark of pain and suffering on every living thing will remain on earth eternally. There will be no redemption from his kingdom. He will reign eternally as sovereign of the Race of Men if the Seal is not broken.’

  He paused.

  ‘If one of the Race of Men is found who is worthy, the earth will finally be reclaimed from Lucifer, the Fallen, and men who have usurped God’s ownership.’

  Michael walked forward and raised his arms toward the thone and his face to the dome.

  ‘Who is so exalted in rank and might to be authorized, to be worthy to open the Scroll and break the Seals thereof? Who of the Race of Men is sanctioned to wrest the planet Earth back from the usurper Lucifer?’

  Michael stared around, his eyes blazing.

  ‘Who is counted worthy to overthrow the intruder? To rid us for all time of Lucifer and his legions of the Fallen? Who has the sanction to open the Seven-Sealed Scroll?’

  ‘Only one,’ a voice whispered.

  And Heaven almost stilled.

  John the Revelator stood, tears streaming down his cheeks. He raised his arms towards the throne.

  ‘There is only one,’ he whispered, in between his racking sobs.

  Gazing in complete adoration toward the throne at the right hand of Yehovah. He fell on his face like one dead.

  Gabriel stared, transfixed.

 
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