Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 22
“Very well, send for him!” Rameses said, as he took a seat on his council chair of state that always traveled with him for impromptu meetings. “And send for my wine!”
“I have sent for him already, divinity,” said Kephti. “I shall summon him.”
“You are quite confident, aren’t you?” asked Rameses, as he received his cup.
Kephti bowed low and excused himself from Rameses’ presence. They were meeting in an uncompleted portion of a wing dedicated to Seti’s victory over the Ethiopians. Huge reliefs on the wall depicted Seti charging ahead of his troops on his royal chariot, running over scores of the enemy. Rameses would some day commemorate his own recent victory against the Hittites at Kadesh.
Maret-men entered Rameses’ presence, head bowed low, with Kephti behind him. He waited until Rameses acknowledged him and then he spoke.
“Great Pharaoh, lord of Egypt, sacred of Amen-Ra…”
“Yes, yes, go on,” said Rameses. “I understand you had a visitation by one of the greater gods.”
“Yes, divine one,” said Maret-men. “The god Anubis journeyed from his great underworld domain to speak to me in the night. He told me that the deliverer has already crossed your borders.”
“Crossed my borders undetected?” asked Rameses, glancing at his military aide-de-camp and grinning an incredulous grin. “Is his army invisible?”
“He travels alone, majesty.”
“Under the protection of his God, great one.”
Rameses sipped his cup and held it in both his hands for a moment.
“Ah yes, the Hebrew God,” he said. “Governor Anipur reports to me that these Hebrews in Goshen cry out to this God.”
“Not only that, but they believe that they will soon be set free, great lord,” added Rash-eman, Rameses’ military attaché. “I was recently in Goshen and heard precious little else.”
“Real or not, even a perceived deliverer could be troublesome,” said Rameses. “Tell me, Maret-men, did the great Anubis tell you when we shall encounter this man?”
“No, Majesty,” said Maret-men. “But very soon.”
Rameses considered the discussion for several minutes, conferring with his chief aides. Finally he spoke:
“Send for Anipur, my governor of Goshen. I want a report from him on what is happening in Goshen. And as for you, Maret-men, you will remain at Thebes in the company of Kephti until the deliverer presents himself. I suggest you speak further with the gods and determine how best to handle our enemy.”
“As you wish, divinity,” said Maret-men, bowing.
“There he is,” said Sar. “That is the deliverer!”
The raucous demons who ruled with Sar in Goshen laughed and jeered wildly. They had been spoiling for a showdown ever since learning that the deliverer had crossed the frontier into Egypt. Now they were at Goshen, watching Moses meet with the elders of the people to tell them that God had sent him to bring them out of Egypt.
Kara had given orders to Sar to discover whatever he could about this man and report immediately to the council. But Sar had decided that rather than take the subtle approach, he would decide the contest here in Goshen and receive the greater glory. He and his strongest warriors loomed over the meeting in Goshen as Moses spoke with the elders of Israel.
“Kanil!” called Sar. “Move in closer. But beware the Host. There are many angels acquainted with this man.”
Indeed, thousands of angels had gathered over and in Goshen since Moses’ arrival the day before. Since being named governor over the region, Sar had never seen such a large assembly of holy angels in Goshen. He understood that this man had the prayers of his people with him, and that would be troublesome.
“Whoever this deliverer is certainly inspires the people in prayer,” said Sar, looking at the ever-increasing numbers of angels.
“Kara will be interested in that,” agreed Sar’s scribe.
“Kara will even be more interested after we destroy the pestilence right here in Goshen. He’ll never make it to Thebes!” said Sar confidently.
“But Kara ordered only that we gather information,” said another aide.
“Kara wants information so that when the deliverer arrives in Thebes, he can destroy him there,” sneered Sar. “Why should he receive the glory for our work? Why must Thebes be the center of all we do? No! I will destroy the man here in Goshen—in the very midst of his people!”
It was Kanil—looking quite harried.
“What is it?” said Sar. “What have you learned?”
“I have learned that we cannot get anywhere near the elders,” said Kanil, whose aura was just now beginning to abate. “Excellency, he is well protected. I had only just made it near Moses when I was cast out.”
Sar had already ordered one pullback from the parameter they had established around Goshen. He intended to hold his position for now. But how could he defeat this man, much less get the information Kara wanted? He looked at the thickening canopy of angels around Goshen—turning the very atmosphere a milky white with their radiance.
“These angels are stifling,” Sar admitted. “Lucifer’s assumption about the amount of support here is incorrect.”
“Excellency, are we not going to wait until more reserves come and destroy the enemy here in Goshen?” asked Lek, a former wisdom angel, who had taught at the Academy of the Host and now served as Sar’s liaison to the council.
“Idiot!” snapped Sar. “There will be no reserves. Kara does not see Goshen as important enough to warrant more legions…not yet, anyway. All he is concerned about is losing face in Thebes. That is where he is holding the bulk of his legions.”
Sar looked down upon the massing angels doubtfully. “Kanil and Lek, come with me!” he said. “We must get that information for Kara!”
The three demons got as close as they could before they were resisted by the Host, whose cordon held tightly. The holy angels would not give way, and even the slightest penetration of their lines was quickly resisted. Sar regrouped with his aides.
“It is useless to try this,” said Sar. “We will never break through.”
As they spoke, directly below them was a child of perhaps seven, carrying a cat in his arms. The boy was stroking the cat and talking to it. He had just walked out of the defensive parameter that closely hugged the area around Moses. All three demons realized their opportunity.
“Now is your chance,” said Sar. “He is outside the angelic net.”
“I’ll have your information directly,” said Kanil, who slipped away.
“The gods of Egypt shall not fail you!”
Kanil stalked the child, who was nearing his house in Goshen. The demon had decided to enter the cat before the boy had a chance to take it into the house. Just in case this one got away, Kanil was also scouting other animals but he preferred a cat.
Sitting down in front of his house, the boy let the cat go. It purred and rubbed up against the boy, making him smile and speak sweetly to the animal. From inside the house the boy’s mother called him, and he stood up. Before he could pick up the cat, Kanil made his move and entered the feline.
The cat convulsed wildly, spitting and raising its back. The boy jumped back, and the mother appeared at the door. When she saw the cat’s behavior, she chased it off and scolded her child for bringing home a stray animal again.
Now firmly in control of the cat, whose heart was racing, Kanil quickly guided it through the crowded streets of Goshen to the place where the elders were meeting with Moses. Taking the animal through the layer of angels, he was surprised at the ease with which he passed through. Apparently the Host did not detect his presence in the cat; or perhaps they did but could not attack him inside the animal. Either way, Kanil took the cat right into the house where Moses sat with the elders. He perched himself in a window seat and listened.
Moses had just recounted his story to the people: how he had indeed been
“But you are old,” said one of the elders. “And God has called you to deliver us?”
“Do not be taken in by outward appearances,” said Moses. “I admit that I have nothing to offer you in myself. But God has spoken and will do mighty wonders for Pharaoh, who will drive us out of the land.”
“What sort of wonders will you perform?” asked another.
Moses demonstrated for the people the signs that God had given him. First his staff turned into a serpent. Then he placed his hand inside his cloak. When he pulled his hand out, it was leprous. Next he stuck his leprous hand inside his cloak and pulled it out again—this time it was back to normal! The elders were astonished at the displays and began to worship the Lord.
“I will go to Pharaoh,” said Moses finally. “And we shall see that Rameses and the gods of Egypt will fear the living God!”
It will take more than magician’s tricks to secure the release of these people, thought Kanil, who immediately left with the cat to report to Sar.
“Serpents out of sticks,” said Lucifer. “Interesting approach.”
Sar had just made a report to Lucifer and the others in the Council. He told them that Moses had the support and confidence of the elders. He also said that he needed more forces to deal with Goshen.
“Never mind Goshen,” said Kara. “After we deal with Moses at Thebes, Goshen will fall into place.”
“For the moment hold Goshen with what you have,” suggested Lucifer. “Should the battle warrant it, we will send you whatever is needed. I suspect that we will need greater forces here in Thebes.”
“As far as Moses is concerned, we need to deal with him in a way that impresses Rameses,” said Pellecus.
“Moses comes with a bag of tricks,” said Lucifer. “I suggest that we prepare our magicians to duplicate whatever Moses manufactures. Rameses will be less impressed with Moses if he sees that his own wise men are able to do whatever Moses does. We have learned in our dealings with humans that they are hungry for visible signs, for outward demonstrations of power.”
“True, my lord,” said Pellecus. “But we can never match the Most High for demonstrations of power.”
“Except in the minds of men, Pellecus,” countered Lucifer. “Men are driven to discover the divine—some spark of God. But in their corrupted state they are limited to searching for it by any means they deem possible or we deem prudent. And so we offer up these nonsense gods, visitations in dreams, appearances from the dead—anything that will keep the minds of men distracted from the mind of God!”
“Very well,” agreed Kara, who felt the urgency of concluding the discussion. “Amen-Ra shall speak to Maret-men and have him prepare the court sorcerers for a confrontation!”
“Rally all of the greater gods in Egypt,” said Lucifer. “This is a time for great religious expression. Get the priests engaged in much activity. I want the gods of Egypt to shine during this season of conflict with Moses, so that when Moses is finally defeated, it shall ever be remembered as a victory by the Egyptian gods!”
“It shall be done,” said Kara. “The gods of Egypt shall not fail you!”
Maret-men and Kephti had left the pharaoh at Seti’s temple and walked down some stone steps leading to a favorite walkway for the privileged of Thebes. They passed through the river gates and crossed the river by the special ferry reserved for the priests. They were headed to the eastern bank of the Nile—to the old city of Luxor and the great temple at Karnak.
Rameses wanted further consultation from the gods, and Maret-men was pleased to oblige his pharaoh. Ever since he was a child, Maret-men had been able to communicate with the other side—the world of the dead and the place of the gods. It was something that had been a part of his family history and he felt it was a special gift given to him by the gods. He would thus use the gift for the glory of Egypt.
Of course such men were of great use to Kara and the other demons, who were in a position to exploit such dedication. What Maret-men believed to be the favor of the gods was merely a deception that was multiplied the world over in the form of holy men, sages, oracles—all of whom thought they were creating magic but did not realize they were being used by it.
Maret-men washed himself in the ceremonial manner and then put on the special robes that he used when calling upon the gods. He sat in front of a great bronze bowl that contained a mysterious black-colored water—from here he could see the future and communicate with the dead. Lighting a small oil lamp, Maret-men sat in front of the bowl and began chanting the mantra that he believed conjured gods and spirits to his side.
Kara stood by, waiting for the appropriate moment to speak to Maret-men. Once the customary ceremonies had occurred, Kara appeared to him as Amen-Ra, chief of the gods of Egypt. He explained to Maret-men that the deliverer was soon to arrive. Amen-Ra said that the gods of Egypt were rising up in anger against the Hebrews, and that all of the temples were to begin an intense time of oblation. He also told Maret-men how to deal with Moses at Rameses’ court—and suggested that the sorcerers be present.
“The gods of Egypt will stand with Rameses, for he has done well in honoring the gods,” he concluded. “Moses and the Hebrews will become disgraced in the land. And the gods of Egypt will be forever exalted as the Hebrew god is humbled. Thus speaks Amen-Ra!”
“Your majesty, Moses is here in Thebes!”
The royal chamberlain bowed low as he made the announcement to Rameses, who was taking a light meal in a garden with his wife, Neferteri. He looked up from his plate, acknowledged the message with a slight nod of his head, and sat back, enjoying the light music that was being played nearby.
Neferteri was a beautiful woman who was revered by her people. Known affectionately as “The Mistress of the Two Lands,” Neferteri was active in religious and state affairs. Rameses often deferred to her and even allowed her to meet delegates of foreign nations and conduct other matters of state in his name. A most capable woman, she had stepped out of the traditionally invisible role played by most pharaohs’ wives, whose chief duty was to produce an heir to the throne.
“My lord, does this deliverer worry you?” asked Neferteri.
“Inasmuch as I can finally deal with him—no, my queen,” said Rameses. “The fact that I once shared my father’s love with this man is what disturbs me. He was once Egyptian. I looked up to this man, who was taken from the Nile god and given an Egyptian name and heritage. Yet he was ungrateful. He might have been great in Egypt. He chose rather to become a rebel and fugitive. And now he returns to vex me.”
He poured his cup of dark red wine out on the ground.
“Would that the crocodiles had finished with him! But the gods have left it for me to complete the work. I should have him arrested and executed on the spot for the murder of that Egyptian in my father’s time.”
He stroked Neferteri’s cheek softly.
“But rest assured, my pet. We will deal with this man Moses, my one-time brother, and his god quickly. Maret-men has assured me that the gods of Egypt shall prevail over the Hebrew god of the desert.”
“You have certainly become religious of late, my king,” said Neferteri coyly.
“Not religious, my queen,” said Rameses. “Merely prudent.”
Michael, Crispin, and several other powerful angels walked alongside Moses as he traveled the long corridor toward the official reception room in Rameses’ palace in Thebes. They carried a special anointing of protection, from the Lord Himself, that would protect Moses from any harm. As they approached the great bronze doors that were intended to impress foreign heads of state, diplomats, nobles, and priests, Michael also noticed the great numbers of fallen angels who were watching his every move.
“This is reminiscent of the visit that Lucifer made to the Throne during the tro
“Yes, Michael,” said Crispin. “This is indeed a vile and wicked place. The heart of the enemy. Lucifer has staked a great deal personally in Egypt. A model of his ability as ruler over this world, so to speak.”
Moses looked at Aaron as the bronze doors swung slowly open, with the words bidding their entrance: “Enter ye into the dread presence of the great Ra! Beloved incarnate of Amen; servant of Isis and Osiris; protector of the holy places; and of upper and lower Egypt, Pharaoh! May he live forever!”
Moses and Aaron entered the vast reception room. It was decorated in motifs celebrating the various victories and accomplishments of the great dynasty to which Rameses belonged. The pharaoh sat on his receiving throne of state, his wife next to him on a lesser throne. His greatest political advisors and military commanders stood at one side. To the right of the throne were the priests of Amen-Ra, god over Egypt and ruler over Thebes in particular—the chosen deity of Rameses’ dynasty.
All eyes were upon the desert prophet and his troublemaking brother. The court had heard much in advance of Moses’ mission and were interested to see how Rameses would deal with this insolence.
Unseen by the humans were Lucifer, Kara, Rugio, and Pellecus, along with the other principle rulers over Thebes. Some of them appeared in the guise of the gods they represented, including Sobek, the Nile god who had missed his chance with Moses years earlier.
Kara was proud of the way he had managed Egypt and was anticipating a great victory that would forever place him at Lucifer’s right hand. He addressed Michael as the archangel entered behind Moses.
“Welcome to Thebes, archangel!” said Kara. “Welcome to my little domain!”
Michael ignored Kara and maintained a strict watch of the situation. Crispin, however, felt compelled to answer Kara.
“Thank you, Kara,” said the scholarly angel. “You have done well in Egypt. The Hebrew slaves have built for you an incredible empire. It’s unfortunate for your king that the Most High God has other plans for his source of labor.”
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