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The fall of lucifer, p.6
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.6

           Wendy Alec
 
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  Jether shook his head. ‘You mean, if they fail Him?’ He moved his hand, and immediately they were back again, standing in the central portal. ‘Such is the enormity of His love,’ he answered quietly, a sense of wonder transforming his features.

  ‘Ahem . . . ’

  Someone cleared his throat behind them. They turned.

  Charsoc, one of eight ruling monarchs of the Ancient Ones, stood at the portal door. Majestic, his noble features clothed with wisdom, he was attired in the flowing crimson royal robes of heaven’s kings. He bowed, his long white hair and beard sweeping the crystal floor. ‘The council is gathered, my revered Jether. We await your report with great anticipation.’

  ‘When will the new race be ready?’ Michael asked.

  Jether’s eyes lit up in exhilaration. ‘Very soon.’

  Chapter Four

  Eden

  Michael stood a long while on Earth’s surface, staring up towards the firmament, marvelling at its palette of cerises and lilacs, sapphires and ambers. He wrapped his deep blue cloak around him and strode towards his chariot to resume searching the heavens for signs of Lucifer as he had the past hour.

  Far in the distance there was a sudden thundering as Lucifer’s monstrous golden chariot became visible through the clouds, riding the shafts of lightning, pulled by eight of his finest winged stallions, their glistening white manes intertwined with platinum. The chariot’s huge silver wheels touched down and ploughed through the soft brown dirt of Earth’s surface, drawing to an uneasy halt. Lucifer stood, an imperial figure, his ermine cloak flying behind him, his ruby crown on the raven hair.

  Michael stared at him gravely.

  ‘Yes, yes.’ Lucifer stepped down from the chariot and strode towards Michael. ‘I am late, brother!’ He bowed and kissed Michael in affection. ‘Forgive me.’ Lucifer swirled around dramatically. ‘So . . . this is what all the furore in heaven is about!’ He knelt and picked up a handful of earth, letting the fresh dirt slip through his fingers. ‘As I surmised,’ he said disdainfully, surveying the stark brown terrain of Earth’s surface. ‘It has absolutely no exonerating features.’

  He lifted his arms to the heavens. ‘Ponder on Gardesia, where the volcanoes spew molten gold. Or Seraphia, where the grains of sand are rosy pearls and the thousand pale lilac moons exude their lights.’ He sighed deeply as he strode over newly budding shoots of emerald grass beneath his feet. ‘Think of Eden, where the meadows are bulrushes of golden hues and the rain forests are laden with the elixir of life.’

  Michael narrowed his eyes. ‘Be not so easily disappointed, Lucifer. I have a surprise that will hearten your conceptions of this small, new world.’

  ‘Michael, even if it was a veritable Eden it would be hard pressed to win my favour.’ Lucifer sighed deeply.

  Michael clasped Lucifer’s shoulders, suddenly earnest. ‘But you see, dear brother . . . ’ he stared at Lucifer in sheer exhilaration, ‘it is Eden!’

  Michael mounted one of his stallions and sped over the lush green meadows towards the eastern side of Planet Earth, followed by Lucifer astride one of the horses from his chariot. As they neared the entrance to Earth’s Eden, Michael drew in his reins, staring in awe at the sight before them, his face shining.

  Lucifer came to a halt, silent, staring out towards the two enormous pearl gates towering in the distance. He struggled to disregard the appalling premonition that beyond the gates lay a precise reproduction of the Hanging Gardens of Eden and the great Waters of Eden that would drop a full mile down into the Eternal Fountains.

  ‘The Race of Men are truly beloved of our Father.’ Michael stared ahead in wonder. ‘He has replicated Eden for them.’

  Lucifer flinched, then stared grimly ahead, pulling on his stallion’s reins. He raced his horse across the golden bulrush meadows, on through the lush rain forests, the same heavy elixir-laden undergrowth as in the First Heaven drenching him as he rode. Then his eyes locked on the incredible vista before him.

  The monumental Waterfalls of Nectar thundered a hundred leagues down, reflecting the changing rainbow hues of Eden’s horizon. Lined by ancient willows, its hallowed streams flowed north, south, east, and west out of the lush, tropical celestial gardens, watering Earth. The same unicorns and oryx that grazed in the fields of the angelic Eden were grazing in the Eden of Earth. Lucifer recognized birds of paradise, rainbow-hued flamingos, and blue griffins, plus other exotic creations that were unfamiliar to him.

  Incredulous, he dismounted, his hands trembling on the reins. He strode swiftly through the same knee-high gladioli and frangipani, and the same beds of pale blue tulips with long crystal stamens that grew in the First Heaven near the second gate.

  Slowly Lucifer pushed the gate open. It was almost twelve feet high and two feet in breadth, carved of solid gold and embedded with rubies and diamonds set in a vast jacinth wall that surrounded the entrance to the inner sanctum of Eden.

  He stared transfixed towards the farthest corner of the hanging gardens. Two trees stood there, almost wholly enveloped by constantly swirling white mists, their fruit glistening gold in the lightning. To the north of the trees he could see a narrow pearl arbour covered with pomegranate vines laden with lush silver fruits. He knew with a terrible certainty that beyond the hanging blossoms of the Gardens of Fragrance would be the simple wooden gate.

  ‘He would walk with them . . . ’ Lucifer murmured.

  Very slowly, Michael lifted his gaze to Lucifer’s face as he stared ahead at the grotto at the very edge of the Cliffs of Eden, surrounded by eight ancient olive trees. A harrowing look of intense suffering clouded Lucifer’s features. A solitary tear fell down his cheek. His whisper was barely audible.

  ‘He has abandoned us.’

  Chapter Five

  Matins

  The council of twenty-four long-bearded ancient kings sat at silent matins around a carved mahogany dining table, elaborately set as for a lavish feast. Each white head, adorned with a golden crown, was bowed, rapt in worship. A sleeping owl perched on each monarch’s shoulder.

  Jether sat next to Charsoc and Xacheriel, who was snoring deafeningly in Charsoc’s ear. Charsoc opened one eye, frowning just as Xacheriel’s monocle fell with a splash into his steaming broth.

  Xacheriel woke with a start. ‘Oh, drat and bumble!’ he spluttered.

  Charsoc glowered at Xacheriel as all the other forty-four eyes opened at once, gazing ominously at the semi-blinded Xacheriel fumbling for the monocle in his broth, which had spattered onto his beard. Lightning flamed up from the broth onto the table. Jether surreptitiously wiped his mouth with a large, white napkin as Xacheriel tried most ineffectively to put the fires out with his own napkin, which caught fire from the leaping flames.

  A youngling named Rakkon hurried over, closely followed by Dimnah, who enthusiastically poured an entire flagon of elixir over the burning napkin and Xacheriel’s head. Jether smothered a loud laugh. Xacheriel stood, now drenched and fuming, as Jether fished the monocle out of the broth while Dimnah attempted to wipe the seething Xacheriel down with a towel, apologizing profusely between his multiple bowings.

  The other twenty-two elders retreated back to their private matins, again in rapturous prayer, while Xacheriel, still spluttering and gasping, strode from the room, followed by the languishing Dimnah.

  Jether looked out from the corner of his eye towards Charsoc, whose countenance was hidden behind a large white napkin. His shoulders were shaking in a most unmonarchlike manner. Jether started to shake with merriment. He leaned over to whisper in Charsoc’s ear, and immediately the two elders vanished.

  * * *

  They reappeared together on the High Place of the Tower of Winds, the retreat of the eight elders who formed the High Council of Heaven. A hundred enormous white owls, perched on the battlements, screeched in delight when they saw Jogli and Bashkar, Charsoc’s owl, on the two Ancient Ones’ shoulders.

  ‘Let us walk, ancient friend.’ Jether clasped Charsoc’s arm as Jogli
and Bashkar flew to join their compatriots. They walked in easy companionship through the lush gardens and past the water fountains and manicured hedges, their conversation low and intimate. Charsoc from time to time laughed into his handkerchief at the recollection of Xacheriel’s mishap. They rested by the sapphire fountains, the water cascading down as glistening blue mercury.

  Jether held out a goblet to catch the elixir. ‘Ah,’ he said, a smile of satisfaction crossing his face, ‘tayberry and white currant!’

  Charsoc held his goblet under the flowing elixir. He sipped delicately. ‘Harebell and honeysuckle,’ he murmured, gratified. He plucked a silvered sweetmeat from a large tree hung with thousands of white blossoms and delicacies. He broke it in half, revealing a glowing white meringue-like mixture bound with a thick custard-like substance. He popped it in his mouth, savouring it. ‘A sublime mix of raspberry cream and persimmon.’ He closed his eyes in rapture. ‘With a hint of curds!’

  Jether moved to the centre of the tower to the large golden table surrounded by eight golden thrones where the angelic zephyrs of wisdom and revelation raged in eternal cyclones. He sat down on one of the eight jacinth thrones, and the zephyrs immediately subsided to a gentle breeze. Jether breathed in the invigorating aromas of the myrrh and frangipani that swirled in the gusts over his head. ‘Tell me of your musings, revered friend.’

  Charsoc sat on his throne and closed his eyes in bliss. ‘I reflect on the sacred mysteries of Yehovah and of my journeyings to the treasuries of the winds and the snow,’ Charsoc crooned, breathing deeply of the zephyrs. ‘I think of the sacred vaults of the cherubim. I muse on the instant I witnessed Yehovah as He spread out the firmaments of the universes as a molten mirror . . . I have seen where the winds take their course and the hail is formed.’ He inhaled the perfume of frankincense and closed his eyes. ‘All these marvels of the angelic universe, I ponder.’

  They sat in silence a long while.

  ‘Yet you are disquieted, my age-old compatriot,’ Jether said.

  Charsoc opened his eyes. He clasped Jether’s old veined hand in his own. ‘You are too much a seer, my time-honoured companion.’

  Jether nodded. ‘We have travelled many roads these past aeons, venerable friend. I know there is aught that weighs upon your soul.’

  Charsoc rose and walked to the very edge of the Tower of Winds, where the zephyrs raged more fiercely. He turned to Jether, his hair and robes blowing violently in the rushing tempests. ‘The sanctity of our angelic world must be protected at all costs, Jether.’ He spoke softly but with passion.

  Charsoc strode away from the tempests back towards the lush manicured gardens. Bashkar flew at once to his master’s outstretched hand. Charsoc looked back at Jether over his shoulder. ‘Do not fret for me, cherished friend.’

  And he vanished into the white rushing mists.

  Chapter Six

  The Revelator

  Gabriel tossed and turned on the royal blue silk sheets, sweat pouring from his brow onto his pillow. His breathing was shallow and erratic. His eyes were tightly shut, his flaxen hair matted with sweat. ‘Sedition,’ he muttered.

  Michael stood at the door of his bedchamber. He stared at Gabriel, his face troubled. He strode over to his brother’s side. ‘Gabriel,’ he whispered, grasping his shoulders.

  Gabriel’s eyes rolled back.

  Michael shook him. ‘Gabriel!’

  Slowly Gabriel’s eyes focused. He sat up, trembling. ‘Michael . . . the dreamings . . . they have become unendurable of late.’ Great sobs racked Gabriel’s chest. ‘Kingdoms rising . . . falling. The race of men . . . Yehovah . . . treason.’ He flung his hands over his face.

  Michael stared at his younger brother. Helpless.

  ‘There is no danger in our world, Gabriel,’ he pleaded. ‘It is just dreamings . . . imaginings.’

  ‘Michael?’ Jether’s voice was soft.

  Michael turned, visibly distressed, to Jether, who stood in the doorway. ‘Each night I have heard his screams, Jether. He suffers so. It becomes intolerable.’

  Jether moved towards the bed, and the light from Eden’s pale moons fell across his face. It was drawn. Haggard. ‘It is the cost for the gift he bears, Michael.’ Jether was quiet for a long moment. ‘He is the revelator, Yehovah’s seer. Each night his dreamings take him through the aeons to future worlds. He sees the travesties, the devastation, that are yet to be wreaked upon our kingdom. He carries these visions in his heart and in his mind.’

  Michael shook his head, confused.

  Jether smiled compassionately. ‘You, my son, bear a different burden. Gabriel, the revelator – Michael, the warrior.’ Jether closed his eyes. ‘The wars he sees, you will yet fight. Great will be your lot in the aeons to come.’

  ‘And Lucifer?’

  Jether was silent. His forehead furrowed. ‘Leave us, Michael. I would comfort him.’

  Michael bowed in respect, kissed Jether on both cheeks, and strode though the bedchamber doors.

  Jether placed his wizened hand on the trembling Gabriel’s shoulder. ‘I too am a seer, Gabriel. I see in part what you have seen, my son.’

  Gabriel slowly raised his tear-stained face.

  ‘The risings and the fallings of worlds upon worlds,’ Jether continued softly. ‘The treasons . . . the blasphemies . . . the wars . . . the devastation.’

  ‘Desertion . . . ’ Gabriel whispered. ‘The race of men. Yehovah is deserted!’

  ‘Yes, desertion,’ Jether murmured. ‘You have seen truly, Gabriel. But that is not what haunts your dreams.’

  Gabriel eased his legs over the bed and rose, flinging his mantle over his unsteady limbs. He moved to the massive windows of his bedchamber, staring out at the amethyst waters lapping at the pearl sands. He lit a vast bowl of myrrh. ‘You read my soul, Jether. That is not what haunts my dreams.’ He turned to Jether. ‘I cannot speak of it.’ Great sobs wracked his frame. ‘He must be warned! He could not do such a thing.’

  Gabriel and Jether stared at each other for a long while in the darkness.

  ‘I will go to him,’ Gabriel said.

  ‘His love for you is very powerful.’ Jether looked at Gabriel, his face etched with grief. ‘It is second only to his love for Yehovah. Guard your mind. Guard your soul. My supplications will be with you.’

  Jether vanished.

  Chapter Seven

  Man

  Follow me, Your Excellencies!’ Xacheriel’s deep voice boomed down the central portal corridors as he paced excitedly towards an enormous steel vault. Dimnah trailed behind him, attempting to hold Xacheriel’s train in his vain efforts to keep up with his tutor.

  Xacheriel stopped abruptly outside the vault and swung around to face Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer, his eyes lit with exhilaration. ‘Dimnah!’ he proclaimed. ‘You are dismissed!’

  Dimnah bowed deeply and scuttled away down the corridor as fast as his short legs could carry him.

  Jether walked towards them, tall and majestic, Charsoc following a step behind him. ‘My Chief Princes,’ Jether declared, ‘this is truly a sacred moment.’

  Xacheriel reached deep in his robe pockets and fumbled around in irritation. ‘Drat and bumble!’ he declared.

  Jether coughed politely. ‘Ahem.’

  Xacheriel glowered at him.

  ‘Ahem.’ Jether’s cough become more meaningful.

  Xacheriel followed Jether’s gaze to the large vault key hanging around his neck. He blushed and spluttered and placed the key in the vault entrance.

  Slowly the heavy steel door opened.

  The three archangel brothers and the two Ancient Ones followed Xacheriel into the outer vault, then through a second door until they all stood in the centre of a smaller inner portal.

  All at once, there was a roaring above the portal atrium as the crystal cupola directly over the small assembly opened, and a vast, brilliant chamber of light began to descend. As the angels watched in awe, a figure swathed in brilliant, shimmering light became visible in
the centre of the brilliance, suspended two full leagues above the ground.

  Charsoc stared as the light gradually settled, magnetized to the descending figure. ‘Man . . . ’ he whispered in awe.

  Gabriel stared at the figure, captivated. The prototype, now hovering just above the ground, appeared to be completely covered by a thin, incandescent clayish layer. Gabriel noticed that it was at least a cubit shorter than the angels and had no discernible wings. Its outer layers were created of matter and therefore appeared much duller than the translucent angelic bodies. He could not be sure, but it seemed that the atoms that continually radiated around the angelic host were missing. But it was beautiful. He stared, incredulous. With great difficulty he drew his gaze away to Michael. ‘Its features are flawless!’ His face shone. ‘As the angels . . . ’

  ‘It is not angelic!’ Lucifer retorted.

  Michael gazed strangely at Lucifer.

  Gabriel frowned. ‘It looks angelic, Lucifer.’

  ‘You insult us.’ A dark, fleeting fury crossed Lucifer’s countenance. ‘Brother.’

  Gabriel stepped back from Lucifer, perplexed.

  ‘Lucifer,’ Jether said, placing his hand gently on Lucifer’s arm, ‘you forget yourself.’

  Lucifer stared grimly ahead, his fist clenching the balustrade in front of him.

  Jether bowed his head a moment in reverence. Slowly he opened his eyes. ‘My revered angelic princes, I have mentored and served you throughout the aeons, but I tell you that never in the annals of the First Heaven has there been such a day as this.’

  ‘A new race . . . ’ Charsoc said in wonder, ‘created in His own likeness . . . ’

  ‘The race of men are not fashioned as we, the angelic,’ Xacheriel explained, his face shining with rapture. ‘We, the angelic race, are each individually created by Yehovah. Fearfully and wonderfully fashioned. Yet we hold no ability to replicate ourselves.’

  ‘Yehovah has endowed the race of men with the capacity to create after its own kind.’ Jether turned to Lucifer. ‘As does Yehovah.’

 
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