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Son of perdition, p.6
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       Son of Perdition, p.6

           Wendy Alec
 

  My tormented brother, Lucifer,

  I saw you in my dreamings this very dawn, a lone figure overlooking Golgotha.

  So assured of your victory at Armageddon.

  The White Rider, your Son of Perdition – coming forth to rule the Race of Men.

  Heralding the tribulation of the Apocalypse of the Revelation of Saint John.

  Gabriel sighed. He pushed his long platinum locks back from his flawless features, then continued.

  And I remembered another dawn when you came to me in my dreamings.

  The dawn when your iniquitous plan was conceived.

  The dawn when you stood sleepless on the Portico of the North Winds.

  . . . The dawn of the Wizard Riders . . .

  FORTY YEARS EARLIER

  1981

  Almost two thousand years after Golgotha

  Chapter Eight

  Diabolical Schemings

  Lucifer stood, a lone figure, on the Portico of the North Winds under the great silver battlements of the Citadel of Gehenna.

  He stared out grimly at the seven comets of Thuban, their flaming hoar-frost tails blazing indigo as they rose over the barren ice-plains of Gehenna. Then he raised his head to the freezing arctic blizzards approaching from the White Dwarf Pinnacles of the North, venting their fury against the monstrous forbidding fortress.

  His Winter Palace.

  It had been almost two thousand years since Golgotha.

  Since his humiliation at the hands of the Nazarene.

  He scowled. He could taste his defeat on the scorching black pitch plains inside the monstrous iron gates of hell, as though it were yesterday.

  He had vowed by the dark Codices of Diabolos to embrace eternal winter until his allotted time was up according to the Tenets of Eternal Law.

  Until the Final Judgement – The Lake of Fire. He shuddered.

  His slumber had been fitful these past thirteen moons.

  Marred by strange and sinister nightmares.

  Charsoc the Dark had plied him with myriad sleeping potions of belladonna, mandragora elixir and hellbroths, furnished by the Warlock Kings of the West.

  But nothing had eased the menacing spectres that tormented his dreamings.

  He pulled his velvet gown tightly around his form and stared bleakly past the ice-capped crags of Vesper.

  Since Golgotha, his power in the land of the Race of Men had been greatly curtailed by the Tenets of Eternal Law. His presence on their futile mass of mud and vapour was illegitimate. The Race of Men was plagued with infirmities . . . beleaguered by vanities . . . contemptible. But he had no alternative. He had to use the craven masses.

  His time was running down. He sensed it.

  Armageddon drew nearer.

  And with it a thousand years incarcerated in the bottomless pit before his demise in the Lake of Fire.

  His nails dug harshly into his palm.

  At Golgotha his fallen armies, ranged against Michael’s warriors and the Nazarene’s sorceries, had been vanquished with ease. It would never happen again.

  This time there would be no error. Deep beyond the Vaults of Vagen, his scientists had been building super-weapons and manufacturing vast armies of monstrous hybrids these past thousand years – preparing for Armageddon.

  Lucifer raised his face to the skies.

  He would conquer the Nazarene. But there was still one more addition to his ambitious scheme.

  The ice blizzards tore the hood from his head, exposing the once-exquisite imperial countenance, now scarred almost beyond recognition in the torrid inferno at his banishment from the First Heaven.

  He would produce a super-legion of the Fallen.

  A two hundred million army.

  He smiled malevolently.

  To defeat the Nazarene in the Great Battle.

  Armageddon.

  His contemplations were interrupted by the thunderous pealing of the monstrous bells of Limbo, echoing across the bleak ice plains.

  A thousand jaundice-eyed demonic gargoyles soared from the Citadel’s spires into Gehenna’s skies, screaming maniacally, their scaled wings beating like giant bellows, their great horn claws slashing the skies.

  Lucifer swung around to the shadowed figure standing at one of the hundreds of hideous stained-glass windows lining the Eastern Wall.

  ‘Who summons me at this infernal hour?’ he hissed.

  Balberith, Lucifer’s chief of angelic courtiers, bowed deeply.

  ‘Your Excellency,’ he said, trembling, ‘Charsoc the Dark requests an audience with you.’

  ‘Charsoc the Dark,’ he scowled. ‘Bearing yet another ineffectual potion!’

  A tall bony form moved from the shadows and stood in the Portico entrance.

  Charsoc the Dark, Chief High Priest of the Fallen, bowed deeply. Charsoc’s fall from the First Heaven had been second only to his nefarious Master’s. Formerly one of Yehovah’s eight High Elders of the First Heaven and second only in rank to Jether the Just, Charsoc had sunk effortlessly to become the most depraved of Lucifer’s Necromancer kings. He was Governor of the dreaded Warlock Kings of the West and the Dark Cabal Grand Wizards.

  Cold-blooded and scheming, he ruled from the Catacombs of Gehenna, second in rank only to Lucifer.

  ‘My Lord, Esteemed Excellency, it is no potion that I bring.’

  Charsoc smoothed his vermillion taffeta gown. ‘It is tidings. Pleasant tidings.’ Charsoc grasped Lucifer’s sleeve with pale jewelled fingers.

  ‘What, Master, if your reliance on the Monarchs of the Race of Men were at an end?’ Charsoc moved closer. So close that Lucifer could feel his hot breath on his cheeks, ‘What if you could mobilize your armies under a messiah – your own messiah?’

  Lucifer grasped Charsoc’s arm so fiercely that Charsoc winced in agony.

  ‘Explain yourself,’ he hissed.

  ‘The Dark Cabal Wizards.’ Charsoc exhaled. ‘They ride from the Crypts of Nagor as we speak.’ He hesitated. ‘The Twins seek an audience.’

  Lucifer’s eyes searched Charsoc’s face, instantly alert. ‘The Twins.’

  He released Charsoc from his fierce grip. Charsoc caressed his arm and bit his lip in pain as Lucifer strode past him under the colossal columns of the Eastern Portico.

  Seemingly from mid-air, Charsoc withdrew a black missive sealed with a silver pentagram.

  ‘From the Twins’ emissaries, Your Excellency.’

  Lucifer snatched the missive and scanned it. It blazed fiercely in his palm, then evaporated.

  ‘Release my vulture shamans from their hell cages as their welcoming parties. Send word to the Grand Wizards of Phaegos and Maelageor that I prepare to grant them audience. Summon the Darkened Councils from under the earth.’

  Charsoc bowed deeply.

  ‘Your word is my command, sire,’ he said, and vanished into thin air.

  Lucifer moved to the very edge of the Portico, deep in contemplation.

  Slowly, he raised his palm to the skies.

  The form of Gabriel became visible, slumbering deeply in his chamber in the First Heaven.

  Lucifer stared at his youngest brother.

  ‘Gabriel . . . ’ he murmured.

  Gabriel’s exquisite features were bathed in the glimmering radiance from the Western Wall. Serene. Undisturbed.

  ‘Dream deeply, Revelator,’ Lucifer uttered.

  Gabriel’s breathing became shallow. He tossed restlessly from side to side.

  Lucifer smiled a slow evil smile.

  ‘May the Wizard Riders infect your dreams, brother,’ he whispered. ‘My redemption draweth nigh.’

  * * *

  Gabriel stared up at the soaring gold-columned palace that towered high above the Western Wall of the First Heaven. His normally serene features were troubled.

  His grey eyes clouded.

  The Eastern and Northern Wings of the Palace of Archangels were still inhabited by himself and Michael but the Great West Wing, once occupied by the former Prince Regent, Lucifer
, lay desolate. The magnificent mother-of-pearl chambers lay deserted. Their towering golden doors engraved with the emblem of the Son of the Morning had been shackled since the dusk of his banishment, to worlds long since departed.

  The West Wing had been unchained only once in all the past millennia. The day that Lucifer was summoned to appear at the First Judgement, nearly two thousand years ago. He had dressed in these very quarters before he was delivered to the Great White Plains.

  Gabriel ran his fingers through his pale gold tresses, uneasiness etched on his flawless features. He gave a backward glance at Zadkiel who rode a clear ten feet behind him, with Sandaldor by his side. Gabriel nodded.

  As one, the small party rode through the Western Gates a full mile above the glistening diamonds that paved the winding roadway. Gabriel hesitated outside Lucifer’s vast orangeries. Once vibrant with the heliotropes and lupins that his eldest brother had so loved, it was as it had been since his banishment.

  Desolate. Bleak. Austere.

  Nothing flowered and yet at the same time there was no decay. It was a vacuum. As though even the blooming flora of the First Heaven had sensed Lucifer’s treacherous betrayal and declined to grow since his exile.

  Gabriel pulled gently on the reins of his mare Ariel. They continued, past the drained Pools of the Seven Wisdoms, drawing to a halt directly in front of the two towering golden doors of Lucifer’s West Wing chambers.

  Gabriel dismounted, followed by Zadkiel and Sandaldor. Zadkiel laid a hand gently on his arm.

  ‘You are sure this is your wish, my Prince?’ he asked.

  Gabriel bowed his head, then raised his gaze to meet Zadkiel’s.

  ‘It is my wish,’ he whispered, his normally serene eyes awash with intense emotion.

  Zadkiel studied the Prince intently, then bowed. He gestured to Sandaldor who moved forward. Zadkiel nodded. Together they raised their huge iron axe-hammers high, then swung them forcefully against the monstrous iron manacles, shattering them cleanly in two.

  Slowly Zadkiel pushed open the heavy golden doors of Lucifer’s quarters. Gabriel drew a sharp breath. The West Wing lay untouched.

  Zadkiel walked after Gabriel into the atrium, staring into Lucifer’s chambers. They stood together a long while in silence.

  ‘I cannot contend with this, Gabriel.’ Zadkiel bowed his head, his hands trembling. Remembering. ‘It brings back memories of all that damned my soul.’

  He raised his tortured gaze to Gabriel. ‘I plead with you, Gabriel.’ Zadkiel’s voice shook with intensity. ‘Release me from this undertaking.’

  Gabriel studied Zadkiel intently with compassion. Finally he spoke.

  ‘I release you, old friend. Return with Sandaldor to my chambers and await me there.’

  Zadkiel bowed deeply. ‘May you find, my revered Prince, that which you so earnestly seek.’

  He started to walk away.

  ‘Zadkiel,’ Gabriel called after him. ‘Michael . . . ’ He hesitated. ‘He has no knowledge I am here?’

  Zadkiel held his gaze. ‘He has no knowledge.’

  Gabriel nodded. ‘I will reveal it when I am ready. And Jether?’

  ‘I have not revealed it to Jether.’ Zadkiel smiled faintly. ‘But his knowledge will be from a higher source.’

  Zadkiel bowed once more, then remounted his steed. He tore at high speed back down the roadway, followed by Sandaldor. Without a glance back.

  Gabriel stood in the gateway staring after Zadkiel until he had completely disappeared from view. Then he retraced his steps, pushed open the chamber doors and moved into the atrium. He secured the doors from inside, surveying the vast chamber.

  He shook his head in wonder.

  It was almost as it had been in aeons past before their world fell.

  Lucifer’s collection of pipes and tabarets.

  His Sword of State still in its magnificent jewelled sheath.

  Gabriel walked under the great frescoed Arc of Archangels and into Lucifer’s inner sanctum, staring up at the magnificent trompe l’oeils – Lucifer’s own handiwork, painted on the vaulted ceilings that soared a hundred feet. Heliotropes, damsons, and amethysts merging into magentas and vermilions covering the ornately decorated surfaces.

  His gaze fell onto the carved marble writing desk. The very same desk where his elder brother had penned thousands of beautifully italicized missives in worlds long gone.

  He paled.

  Leaning next to the desk was an enormous objet d’art, covered with gold cloth. It had not been there two millennia ago, the day of the First Judgement.

  The answers to his disturbed dreaming of the night before lay there. He was sure of it.

  Lucifer and his infuriating sorcerers’ games!

  He strode over to the desk and untied the golden cords. The gold cloth dropped onto the floor, revealing a painting. Nine feet tall. Twelve feet wide.

  Gabriel studied it intently.

  In the centre of the canvas was an exquisite depiction of Christos, each feature captured in light. It was breathtaking, but for one jagged crimson line that severed the face from one side of the canvas to the other.

  He lowered his gaze to the left of the image.

  There they were. Just as he had known. The Dark Cabal Wizard Riders – astride their monstrous creations. Their destination the ice world of Gehenna.

  Lucifer had painted the scene down to the finest detail. It was exactly what Gabriel had witnessed in his disturbed dreamings.

  Directly below Christos was a precise depiction of Lucifer himself standing on the huge, pearl balcony of these very chambers. Exactly as he had in ages past when he watched his brothers race across the sands. His sculpted alabaster features were perfect in their beauty.

  Gabriel stared mesmerized into the cold sapphire eyes. They were almost lifelike.

  His gaze dropped to the foot of the picture where an enormous menacing serpent writhed across the entire canvas.

  He shuddered.

  ‘They ride the North Winds.’ A soft voice shattered the silence.

  Slowly, Gabriel turned.

  Jether the Just, imperial angelic monarch and ruler of the twenty-four Ancient Kings of Yehovah, stood directly before him, resplendent in his striped scarlet robes.

  He studied his old student intently, his ancient lined features filled with compassion.

  Gabriel bowed his head.

  ‘The Dark Cabal Wizards,’ Jether said softly. ‘They left the crypts of Nagor before the dawn moons rose. They ride as we speak.’

  Gabriel raised his face to Jether’s, his features etched with anguish.

  ‘Lucifer spoke to me in my dreamings, Jether,’ he whispered. ‘He said he has been sleepless many moons. He bade me come to him.’

  Jether laid his veined hand on his arm. ‘But you did not.’ He smiled gently.

  ‘No.’ Gabriel bowed his head. ‘But he came instead to me in my dreaming. “Gabriel,” Lucifer said to me, “I would have you know I will be sleepless no more. The riders come.” Then he smiled. A wicked evil smile. And said, “Tell Jether – my redemption draweth nigh.” And he was gone.’

  He looked at his mentor with imploring eyes. ‘What dastardly scheme is afoot?’

  ‘It is the fullness of time,’ Jether murmured, his venerable features grave. He walked over to study the painting carefully.

  ‘They prepare for Armageddon. The Grand Wizards ride through the underworld from the dead places. He grants them audience.’ He walked to the balcony and parted the heavy velvet curtains.

  ‘How did you know I would come?’ Gabriel whispered.

  Jether looked at him benevolently.

  ‘The older seer discerns the younger.’

  He felt for the huge set of keys at his waist and removed one engraved with the Son of the Morning’s insignia. ‘I could have saved Zadkiel and Sandaldor their exertions, magnificent though they were.’ Jether smiled into his beard. With nimble fingers he unlocked the immense glass doors, then walked onto the balcony, s
taring out towards a towering golden, ruby-encrusted door, ablaze with light, that was embedded into the jacinth walls of the tower – the entrance to the throneroom.

  Thunder roared and blue bolts of lightnings leapt from the Rubied Door.

  ‘They meet,’ said Jether softly. He bowed his head in reverence.

  Gabriel walked out onto the balcony.

  ‘Yehovah, Christos and the Sacred Spirit.’

  Jether’s watery blue eyes were deep in thought. ‘What Lucifer discerns today,Yehovah in His omniscience knew aeons past. Yehovah summoned me this very moon. Lucifer gathers the Courts of Perdition in council even as we speak. The plan to conceive his own messiah, the Son of Perdition, will be set in motion.’

  Jether’s gaze became as steel.

  ‘Make no mistake. Lucifer’s grand schemings are transparent to Yehovah at every turn. There is nothing that is hidden from His gaze. He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. He knows the end from the beginning to the ages of ages. Lucifer well knows this. And trembles.’

  His features softened.

  ‘We rest in the brilliance of Yehovah’s multitude of discernments and great and infinitely tender compassions. We rest in His infinite wisdom.’

  Gabriel was quiet a long moment. Jether laid his hand on his arm.

  ‘You have what you came for, Gabriel. He has delivered his message. The Seed of the Serpent. The seed that will become his son. His Son of Perdition. That is what disturbs your dreamings.’

  Jether closed the balcony doors.

  ‘Now, come. We have urgent matters to attend.’

  Together they retraced their steps through the chamber ino the atrium. Gabriel glanced back at the painting.

  ‘The Seed of the Serpent. His own? Nephilim?’ Gabriel asked.

  Jether shook his head.

  ‘No, Gabriel. Not Nephilim.’ Jether closed the doors of Lucifer’s chambers behind them and relocked them.

  Gabriel turned to him, confused. ‘If not a hybrid mixture between the angelic and the Race of Man – then what . . . ’ His voice broke off as he caught sight of Jether’s sombre expression.

  ‘There will be no mixture of the seeds.’ Jether’s voice was soft but it cut the air like a blade. ‘Lucifer’s messiah will be fashioned neither of the seed of man nor the egg of woman. Lucifer mimics the Christ’s seed – ex nihilo.’

 
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