Unholy empire chronicles.., p.21

Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 21

 

Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2
 



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  “That is most gratifying,” said Sobek.

  “Yes, but not reassuring. The Lord is not a fool. He will surely make an attempt to rescue the child. However, he is bound to the rules of the game and subject to the whims of human choice—just as we are. Therefore we must be vigilant in watching for subtle human plans to get the child out of Egypt.”

  “Berenius has not uncovered the child yet?” asked Sobek.

  “No,” said Lucifer. “And I suspect that he will not until a move is made to actually take the child out. And that is where the Host will make their mistake.”

  He laughed as if imagining the scene.

  “They will cover the child with great numbers of angels, and in an attempt to save the poor lad will only end up exposing him. Then we can kill him at our leisure.”

  Sobek nodded in understanding.

  “But there are only a few ways to conceal a child and take him out of the country. They cannot take him west into the desert. They could possibly take ship into the Great Sea, at which point the child will be trapped onboard an isolated vessel. He might be smuggled across land, but I have seen to it that Anipur has doubled the border patrols.”

  Lucifer walked over and placed his hand on the head of one of Sobek’s images that lined the several steps into the small temple.

  “So my dear Sobek, god of the Nile, it is quite possible that the child shall be smuggled down this great river.” He looked at him. “And should he get by, it will mean destruction for us all—do you understand?”

  “My lord, I can assure you that if the child is on my river, he and the mother shall never leave it alive!”

  “That’s well and good,” said Lucifer. “I believe you are a capable angel.” He indicated the priests who were finishing up their river blessing ceremony, chanting the name of Sobek. “But never make the mistake of believing you are as great as these priests believe you to be!”

  “My lord,” said Sobek, showing his ugly lizard teeth. “I am Sobek, the terrifying god of the great sacred river Nile! I serve only you! Have no fear about the child. All that I do is in your service. And I promise you, by the name of this sacred site, that this river shall one day turn to blood!”

  By the time Michael arrived, the angels under Serus’s command had created a parameter around the little reed vessel making its way slowly down the Nile. As far as he knew, the enemy had not yet been alerted—but it was only a matter of time. He immediately ordered the angels who had accompanied him to scout ahead farther down the river.

  Serus was glad to see his mentor and hoped that the defensive measures he had taken were adequate in the archangel’s eyes. Michael flew over to Serus, who had stationed himself just above the ark. Michael inspected the setup.

  “Excellent work, Serus,” he said. “As long as Jochebed continues in prayer we can maintain quite a force here.”

  “Yes,” said Serus, “her prayers have increased our strength considerably. If only humans realized the value of calling on the Most High.”

  “How is the child?” asked Michael.

  “Quite safe,” said Serus. “There are angels below him as well as above.”

  “Good,” said Michael, looking about. “Then we’ll just have to see how long before the enemy gets here.”

  “You won’t be waiting very long, archangel,” came a voice above them.

  Michael and Serus looked up to see Berenius, with a large number of angels, looming above them. He was smiling at Michael.

  “Still guarding the Lord’s precious plan,” said Berenius. “I am touched by your loyalty, Michael.”

  “Stay away, Berenius,” said Michael, who pulled his great sword out. The sword gave off a magnificent blue aura that backed off some of the devils. Berenius only smirked.

  “You’re wasting your time with that,” Berenius said. “The woman Jochebed is even now despairing of praying. I suspect it won’t be long before she gives up altogether.”

  Michael could sense that the strength from the woman’s prayers was not what it had been only moments before. He noticed that a few of the angels that had made up the defensive line had already been called back to Heaven.

  “Sobek will be glad to host the child,” said Berenius. The angels with him howled with laughter. “He is lord of this river, you know.”

  “He is lord of the deluded minds of men,” said Michael. “He has no real power here!”

  “Then you had better tell them that,” said Berenius. “I believe Sobek would argue otherwise.”

  Michael turned to see three of the largest Nile crocodiles he had ever seen swimming rapidly toward the ark. Above them with a troop of reptilian-looking devils was Sobek, who had come to finish the fight. At the same time, Berenius and his troops swooped in and began clashing with the holy angels who surrounded the ark.

  “Tighten it up!” shouted Michael. “Come in close to the ark. Mind those crocodiles before they get to the child!”

  Michael himself dived into the water and killed the first crocodile with one swing of his sword. The creature sank deep into the Nile mud. The other two were already opening their ugly jaws in anticipation of crushing the little ark. Serus grabbed the ark and pulled it out of the water just as the mighty jaws snapped together in a loud crash. Serus set the baby down in the reeds and stood watch.

  Sobek faced Michael and came down hard with his sword across Michael’s shoulder. Michael winced and swung back, just clipping the Nile god. He gave orders for an attack, and the others joined in and began hitting the archangel from all sides. Some holy angels managed to jump into the fray, and within seconds swords were flying and bright streaks of light were breaking in every direction.

  “Go after the child!” Sobek screamed, as he ducked another parry by Michael. “Kill it now!”

  Berenius immediately broke off the fight and pursued the ark, intending to drown the child. Several of his attending warriors followed.

  From the shore, a little girl watched the progress of the ark, unaware of the great battle that was occurring over the river. Her eyes remained fixed on the ark, which now rested in the reeds near some steps leading up to a pavilion. The child crept over toward the walkway, careful not to be seen. The ark was safe, it seemed. She was about to come into the open and check on her little brother when she heard voices coming toward her. She ducked down to watch what would happen.

  “A child, my lady!”

  The angels and demons immediately stopped fighting, when they realized the child had been discovered by another human. Sobek cursed Michael and flew over to the bathing pavilion where the child had settled. Serus continued to watch over the child, even as a woman gently took the baby from the ark.

  “Bring the child to me,” came a voice.

  As if in a gallery or arena, the angels now watched, all of them eager to see what would be the fate of the child. The woman handed the child to a very regally dressed lady, a princess from the house of Pharaoh. She held the child curiously at first, and then looking at the ark, realized it had been placed there for safety.

  “Destroy that vessel,” she commanded. She looked at the little three-month-old boy and had compassion for him. “I will keep this child. He shall be my son! He shall be a prince in Pharaoh’s house.”

  “My lady?” said one of the handmaidens.

  “Yes,” the princess repeated. “It shall be just as I say. Have an offering of thanksgiving made for me in honor of the god Sobek, for bringing me a child in my loneliness!”

  “Yes, lady.”

  “And since I drew my son out of the water, I shall name him Moses.”

  “Well, Michael,” said Sobek. “This is a very interesting development. It looks as if the deliverer of the Hebrews shall be raised as one of the oppressors in the pharaoh’s own household!”

  All of the devils standing near Sobek burst out in mockery and laughter. Some of them even spoke the name ‘Moses’ over and over.

  Michael looked about but did not respond. Serus also kept a weary ey
e watching the baby as the princess wrapped him in soft Egyptian linens.

  “Not only that, I get a thanksgiving in my honor,” said Sobek. “I think this is even better than delivering the child to one of my crocodiles.”

  “Indeed,” agreed Berenius. “Instead of being a Hebrew devoured, Moses shall become a devourer of Hebrews!”

  “And the people will remain in bondage,” added Sobek, looking hatefully at Michael. “You hear Michael? It’s over! The deliverer has become the oppressor!”

  ”And the Seed shall consume itself,” added Berenius, smiling.

  Chronicles of the Host

  House of Pharaoh

  And so it was that the child Moses was indeed raised in the house of the god-king Seti. Raised alongside the prince and heir Rameses, Moses learned all of the wisdom that Egypt offered: military tactics, diplomacy, history—the greatest places of learning that existed on earth at that time were open to his young mind.

  Holy and wicked angels alike watched him grow from boy to man. We clung to the hope that he was the deliverer, while the enemy sought to keep him enamored with his life as a prince. And as for Israel—the nation toiled in backbreaking slavery for another 40 years, waiting for their deliverance, hoping that someday their God would return to them.

  But Moses knew that he was a cast-off Hebrew, and it was in his heart to feel compassion for his people and to be moved by their affliction. Indeed the day came when he rose up and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. When the crime was discovered, Moses fled Egypt into the wastes of the desert in Midian. He believed that his life in Egypt and his part in the nation of Israel were finished. We the Host also wondered if indeed he was correct. Perhaps deliverance should come from another. In fact, Moses’ part in the nation of Israel was only just beginning…

  “So Moses has just crossed the frontier into Egypt,” said Kara. “I wondered if he would return. I knew we should have killed him in the desert.”

  The council had just received word that Moses, former prince of the household of Seti, was returning to Egypt in order to confront Pharaoh and demand the release of his people. The messenger stood by to answer any questions the council might have. They looked at each other.

  “Triumphant return, hmm?” mused Pellecus. “Or complete madness!”

  “How many troops has he with him?” asked Rugio.

  “None, my lord,” said the messenger. “He travels alone.”

  Kara sprang to his feet.

  “Alone?” he asked. He began to laugh. “Moses intends to release from captivity a nation held by the most powerful country on earth by himself?”

  “He brings with him the assurance of God, excellency,” said the messenger. “He met with the Most High on a mountain and was ordered to go and speak with the pharaoh. From what I understand it was in rather spectacular fashion—the Lord spoke to him from a burning bush.”

  “A burning bush? The Most High always did have a dramatic bent,” said Kara.

  All eyes looked to Lucifer, who stood amidst the statuary in Seti’s recently completed tomb. Rather than following the conversation, he seemed mesmerized by the splendid treasure that was heaped around the room: gold cups, ornate furniture, beautifully carved figurines, jewelry of all sorts. They were meeting in the antechamber next to the large stone sarcophagus which held the recently entombed Seti.

  “I am always amazed by how much the Egyptians want to live forever,” he finally said. “I mean, it is in the nature of humans to desire to live beyond this present world—it is also their curse. But these Egyptians have taken it to a greater sophistication. The City of the Dead that lies about us—an entire complex of tombs and temples dedicated to the idea of achieving immortality!”

  He indicated the burial chamber they were in. “Look at all the meaningless trinkets that they have buried with this man.” He smirked. “The great Seti! Every man on earth once trembled at his scowl, and now his body rots away in a splendid tomb, surrounded by dazzling treasure.”

  Lucifer vacantly picked up the pharaoh’s cup.

  “We were discussing Moses, my lord,” said Pellecus, interrupting Lucifer’s rather philosophical interlude.

  Lucifer turned to the group.

  “Yes, well?” he said.

  “Well, my lord, we have watched this man Moses since he was saved by Pharaoh’s daughter. For 40 years he grew up in the greatest house of Egypt, but fled as a fugitive after he committed murder. We then followed him for another 40 years and hoped he would die an uneventful and unremembered death in Midian. Now he comes as one called by the Lord to release His people. If Moses is in fact the deliverer sent by the Most High, then perhaps we should take measures,” said Pellecus.

  “And what measures do you suggest?” asked Lucifer. “Shall I appear to him in a burning bush and send him back to the desert? Perhaps Kara should speak to him through an image of Amen-Ra? But I agree that whoever the deliverer is, the people of God must remain captive. It would be a critical error on our part for them ever to leave Egypt.”

  “Yes indeed,” spouted Kara. “The building projects of Rameses must continue if Egypt is to remain at the forefront of the nations.”

  “Your petty pride in Egypt is misplaced, Kara,” said Pellecus. “There is much more at stake here than your precious temples. If Israel leaves Egypt we shall never again have such an ability to control their destiny.”

  “Yes,” added Lucifer. “Better that we fight the Seed on our own ground, where we can use the power of the greatest nation on earth to grind these people into the dust from which they came.”

  “And Moses?” asked Pellecus.

  “If Moses has met with the Lord on a mountain, and the Lord has sent him to the pharaoh, then we should accommodate him,” said Lucifer. “Let him see Rameses.”

  “But he will demand that Rameses let the people leave Egypt,” said Kara.

  “And what do you think Rameses will do, Kara?” chided Lucifer. “Rameses is far more capable than his father, whose glory rots next to us. He is much more cunning than that servile opportunist, Anipur, who served his father and now serves Rameses as governor in Goshen. And he is much more dedicated to the gods of Egypt than any priest in the land.”

  The council looked at him, not completely understanding his point.

  “And as Kara has already said, Rameses is engaged in the greatest building projects ever seen in the history of Egypt! Do you think he is going to allow his labor to be freed on the words of a desert prophet? And a fugitive at that?”

  “I see,” said Pellecus. “So you are suggesting that a confrontation might be just what is needed? Interesting.”

  “What a better display of our might against theirs. Think of it! The gods of Egypt against the desert God who appears in…what was it? A bush?”

  “A burning bush, my lord,” corrected Pellecus.

  “Ah yes, a burning bush. The God of Moses is a theatrical genius, but in comparison with the might and power of the gods we pose in Egypt He is nothing!”

  “But we are talking about the Most High God!” said Kara. “How can you say He is nothing? The gods of Egypt are, after all, only we your servants.”

  “Yes, God Most High is still the greatest living Person in Heaven. I will not deny that. He is a most capable adversary.”

  He set the cup of the pharaoh down. “But He is also a God who is limited by human frailty. Mark me, brothers. This time no mother’s prayers will be lifted for Moses. No angels will be able to contest for him. He will be in this alone—him against us. The Hebrew God, hindered by a failure of a man, a fugitive murderer, a man who is slow of speech—against Rameses, Amen-Ra, and the might of all the gods of Egypt. It will be a marvelous stage on which to demonstrate our power to the world!”

  The gold and jewels in the room began to glow in the light of Lucifer’s aura that was manifesting as he spoke: “Moses will be humbled, the slave rebellion crushed, and like this great pharaoh who lies forever buried, the Seed will be lost to his
tory, forgotten in the dust of Egypt!”

  The city of Thebes was bustling with activity. Its new building projects rivaled any in the world. Rameses had set forth an intense campaign to make Thebes the greatest cultural and religious center in Egypt and, therefore, in the world. He loved inspecting the latest progress of his planned cities. Thebes would be the envy of all!

  The pharaoh surveyed the final stages of the temple of the spirit of Menmare Seti, a mortuary temple begun by his father, Seti. Rameses also planned a new southern section dedicated to himself, one on which his own throne name, Usermaatre Setepenre, would be inscribed.

  He was proud of the heritage that he carried, and felt the great responsibility to hand down an even greater Egypt to his own successor. His god-like authority was unquestioned; his great army was undefeated in battle; his priests were servile and supportive; and the people were happy. All was well in Thebes. All except…

  “What?!” said Rameses. “The deliverer again?”

  “Yes, great one,” said Kephti. “It has been told to us in a vision.”

  “Yes, yes,” said Rameses. “Another vision. Who was it this time?”

  “The great Anubis, dread god of the underworld, saw fit to visit Maret-men, one of my greatest wise men.” “Yes I know all about Maret-men,” said Rameses. He’s all full of tricks, that one! Dabbling in all sorts of black and mystical arts. Plus I don’t like my excursions into the projects interrupted by the visions of dubious magicians.”

  “Maret-men is indeed mysterious,” said Kephti. “Great in the art of sorcery and magic. The gods of Egypt speak to him because they know that he is jealous for the welfare of your kingdom, majesty.”

  “The man is possessed by a spirit,” said Rameses. “If he weren’t of such value to me, I would have him impaled for blasphemy—and for interrupting my view of the work on my father’s temple!”

  “Majesty?”

 
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