Unholy empire chronicles.., p.23

Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 23

 

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



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  “We shall see who is king and who is slave soon enough,” Kara snapped.

  “Moses,” said Rameses. “I never thought to see you again—alive.”

  Some of the men in the room snickered.

  “Rameses, you know why I have come,” said Moses, looking at his brother Aaron. “You know why we are here.”

  “Yes, I understand there was quite a stirring in Goshen when you arrived there a few days ago. News travels fast in Egypt. Perhaps too fast!”

  The court again laughed. Aaron began to speak.

  “The Lord God, the great I AM, says to Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go that they may worship Me freely in the desert.’”

  Rameses sneered at Aaron.

  “Why must you speak for Moses?” he asked. “As I recall, Moses, when you were in my father’s house you were quite an orator. Has service to your god also caused you to be slow of speech?”

  Again the room filled with muffled laughter.

  “Hear me, Rameses,” said Moses. “The Lord demands of you that you let His people go.”

  “Great priest of Amen-Ra!” called Rameses.

  Kephti came forward, bowing low.

  “What is it, great one?” he asked.

  “I am familiar with the great gods of Egypt,” Rameses began with mock seriousness. “I am intimate with the living gods of my fathers, the pharaohs. But I am not familiar with this god of whom Moses speaks. Are you?”

  “Great Pharaoh, the god of the Hebrews is a simple god of the desert, quite unlike the great gods of Egypt. He prefers to be worshiped as one god. He is a Canaanite deity, therefore far inferior to the gods of Egypt, who are great in power. He truly fell to disgrace when your great fathers expelled the foreign invaders who occupied the kingdom during the time of the Israelite migration into Goshen. It seems that when the Hyksos invaders were defeated, the Hebrew god also fell into impotency.”

  “Well said, Kephti,” said Rameses, as the priest bowed and returned to his place among the other priests. “Moses, I see no need to either fear your god or heed his command—if it be His command. I believe that you are a troublemaker with a score to settle. I believe that you have concocted this whole affair for personal favor among the people you abandoned years ago. Go away, Moses. And tell your people that the only place they shall go is back to the brick pits to build cities for my son!”

  Michael placed his hand upon Moses to encourage him in his confrontation with Rameses. The devils who filled the room were enjoying the contest; Kara in particular was smiling at being able to host such a spectacle.

  “Well, Michael,” Kara finally said. “It looks as if Moses’ message is not getting through to the pharaoh!”

  “I thoroughly enjoyed Rameses’ charges against Moses that he is nothing but a pretender. Excellent!” added Pellecus.

  “This contest is just begun,” said Crispin. “You, of all angels, should realize how foolish it is to presume upon the Lord—or his messenger!”

  “Don’t lecture us here, teacher,” said Kara. “This is not one of your classrooms and we are not your students!”

  “Perhaps this is not my classroom,” said Crispin. “But I believe a great lesson is about to be learned here!”

  “Rameses, the God of the Hebrews has met with us,” Moses continued. “He demands that you let us worship Him in the desert. He also promises great judgments to befall Egypt should Pharaoh not heed His word.”

  A rumbling of whispered conversation broke out in the room.

  “Judgment upon Egypt?” asked Rameses. “I alone judge Egypt! I see no need to allow you or your people any such freedoms. In fact I have a report from Anipur, governor of Goshen. Anipur!”

  Anipur, Seti’s former advisor and now Rameses’ governor in Goshen, stepped up to the throne and bowed. The old man, still quite adept at statesmanship, was a valuable advisor to Rameses.

  “Yes, great king?” Anipur said.

  “Tell Moses and the rest of this court the report you gave me of Goshen,” Rameses began. “Tell them of the great disruption that has occurred since Moses’ arrival in Egypt.”

  “It’s true, great one,” said Anipur. “The Hebrews are simple people and easily distracted. When Moses arrived with news of a deliverer, the production of these people fell dramatically. Indeed, the taskmasters and foreman report increased instances of outright insolence, as these people talk more and more of their freedom.”

  “You see, Moses?” said Rameses. “You and Aaron are causing nothing but trouble. You are filling their heads with nonsense and their work is suffering. Now get back to Goshen. And remove the hope that these people carry in their hearts—for I shall never let your people go.”

  Kara moved over to Kephti and spoke into the priest’s mind. Kephti looked at Pharaoh and asked if he might approach. He then whispered into Pharaoh’s ears and returned to his place in the court.

  “My high priest has come up with an excellent idea,” said Rameses. “Since the people are so distracted, it is obvious that they need something else to occupy their minds. Therefore I issue this decree: Let it be set down that the Hebrew children will continue to make bricks in Goshen—but they will not be provided straw. They can find it themselves. And to make sure that they are not idle, high priest, I also believe that they will maintain their daily quota of bricks.”

  He stood up and walked to Moses.

  “Not one brick less per day, Moses” he said. “Perhaps a bit more labor is what is needed. I have been too soft with these Hebrews and they have become lazy. Now go! Tell your people that there will be no freedom for them—now or ever!”

  Lucifer turned to Kara as Moses and Aaron left.

  “A very gratifying meeting,” he said. “I commend your suggestion about the bricks. That should put Moses in well with the people!”

  “He’ll be back,” said Pellecus. “As Crispin said, this contest has just begun.”

  “Yes, he’ll be back,” agreed Kara. “Provided his people don’t tear him to pieces!”

  Chronicles of the Host

  First Blood

  And so Moses returned to Goshen not with a promise of deliverance but with the burden of harsher labor. We moved in as a caution, to protect him not from Lucifer but from his own people. For Israel was enraged that Moses had caused such hardship to come upon them, and they complained bitterly.

  But Moses, encouraged by the Lord, promised the people that he would go back to Pharaoh, and that the Lord God would bring the people out of Egypt in great power. Thus Moses did indeed return to Pharaoh, this time in Luxor at the great temple of Amen-Ra at Karnak. There Rameses was being attended by the priests in an annual ceremony reaffirming Pharaoh’s position as god-king…

  CHAPTER 17

  “It will take more than tricks to release your people.”

  “Moses? Again?” asked Rameses.

  “Yes, divinity,” said Kephti. “Maret-men foretold that he would return. I believe he will continue until he is destroyed.”

  Rameses looked at the great temple around him, then stepped off the ceremonial dais and took off the robes he had worn for the occasion. He looked at Kephti.

  “I understand a man’s devotion to his god,” said Rameses. “It can be intoxicating. But it can also be a snare. I believe Moses has become devoted to a god who will in the end abandon him as He has done to the rest of the Hebrews. Send for Moses. I’ll see him in the temple garden. And send for Maret-men and his magicians!”

  “Yes, my king,” said Kephti, who was incensed at the thought of Moses profaning the great temple of Amen-Ra. “I will see him to the garden.”

  Kara had assembled the council in order to display the might of Egypt that was under his control. Knowing that Rugio was quite jealous of his position in Egypt, Kara wanted to make sure that Rugio and any others who had doubted his abilities, would be stifled once and for all.

  Lucifer arrived with an angry look upon his face.

  “What is the meaning of this, Kara?” Lucifer demanded
. “You have no authority to call the council together. Only I have that privilege!”

  “My prince, it is out of respect for your authority that I assemble the council,” Kara answered. “Together they will see how your authority is exercised through me to oppose the Most High in this rather intricate game.”

  “Then I suggest that you play the game well, Kara,” said Lucifer. “I cannot afford to have my authority look foolish.”

  “Trust me, my prince,” said Kara, as he escorted Lucifer to the garden complex.

  Moses waited nearly two hours before Rameses finally appeared. The pharaoh came in with several of his aides, as well as Kephti, a few priests of the temple, and Maret-men and his two sorcerers. They assembled themselves around Pharaoh in their usual positions.

  “Moses, you have returned,” said Rameses. “Forgive my lateness; I was in the midst of a dedication to the great god whose house you are in. Perhaps if your god lived in a temple so marvelous, I might be willing to take you a bit more seriously!”

  His attendants laughed.

  “The Lord God has no need for houses made by men,” said Moses, who was once more accompanied by Michael and Crispin. This time Serus and several warrior angels had also come. “For He is not merely an image carved by men that frowns upon worshipers. He is the great I AM, the living God of Abraham and Israel. He demands once more that you let His people go!”

  “Moses, twice now you have come to see me,” said Rameses. “And I have been in a generous mood. But you are beginning to wear on me—you and your desert god. For the last time I shall not free your people. Why should I? Who is your god that I should listen to him?”

  Moses looked at Aaron and nodded.

  “Behold, Pharaoh, the power of the Lord!” Moses said.

  Aaron threw down his staff. The crowd laughed at first and Rameses could only manage a quizzical look upon his face. But then the staff began to move and quickly transformed itself into a cobra. Rameses stepped back in astonishment and the others gasped at the sight.

  “You dare try to frighten me with magician’s tricks?” asked Rameses. “Really, Moses, you disappoint me. Bring two staffs here at once!”

  Two servants came back with rods. Rameses ordered them given to Maret-men and his sorcerers. They understood at once what he wanted.

  “Highness, my greatest sorcerers, Jannes and Jambres, stand ready.”

  “Bid them commence,” said Rameses.

  “Time to get in the game,” said Kara, who moved in near Jannes and Jambres.

  “It is only by such subtle deception that you rule here,” said Michael. “These men think they are calling upon the gods for great powers!”

  “And so they are,” said Kara, smiling.

  Jannes and Jambres began reciting a series of incantations summoning the great god Thoth, who was lord over the secret arts practiced by the magicians of Egypt. They continued calling upon the god, begging his intercession.

  “I believe Thoth has arrived,” said Kara, as a wisdom angel called Condar who had thrown in with the rebellion arrived.

  “Condar, be so good as to accommodate these two servants of yours,” said Kara.

  Condar looked at the angels around him—both holy and profane—and realized that this was no ordinary display of power. He nodded at Lucifer but was quite surprised to see Michael.

  “Even the archangel is present,” said Condar. “I shall try to do something truly spectacular for you, Michael.”

  “Your manipulation of earthly elements is hardly spectacular,” said Michael.

  “Ah, but we must play by the rules that the Most High has set up,” said Kara. “Now, Condar!”

  Condar walked over to Jannes and in an instant entered his mind, so that Jannes convulsed for a second or two and then was completely under the control of Condar. Jannes took the two sticks as Jambres continued praying to Thoth, and tossed them down on the floor.

  The rods lay still at first, but within seconds they began to quiver and move. They suddenly became cobras as well so that three snakes slithered along the floor of the garden. Rameses looked up at Moses with a smirk.

  “Your magician’s tricks mean nothing, Moses,” said Rameses. “It does not surprise me that you would retain some of the knowledge from the fine education my father gave you when you were in his house!”

  “My king, look!” said one of his aides.

  All eyes were upon the snakes. The one that had come from Aaron’s rod quickly consumed the other two snakes so that they completely disappeared. It then became a staff once more. Aaron bent down and picked it up. Thoth was furious and, throwing Jannes down in a rage, came out of him.

  “Let the people go, Rameses,” said Moses. “Or a far greater and more terrible demonstration of the Lord will occur that will humble the very gods of Egypt!”

  “Leave me, Moses,” said Pharaoh. “It will take more than tricks to secure the release of your people!”

  Sobek was enjoying the visit of Pharaoh at one of the river temples along the Nile. Rameses’ presence was an indication of the importance of the Nile river god, and Sobek enjoyed the esteem of his brother gods.

  Pharaoh had finished dedicating the season to Sobek and was preparing to perform the rite of deluge, that is, the pouring forth of Nile water from a sacred pitcher to ensure the seasonal flood that was the lifeblood of Egypt. He held the pitcher in his hands and began to recite the customary words.

  “Rameses!” came a now familiar voice. “You have not heeded the words of the Lord God Almighty to let His people go!”

  Rameses, visibly annoyed, set the pitcher down and looked at Kephti, who immediately went to fetch Maret-men. Moses and Aaron moved to the little pavilion that served as the small place of ceremony.

  “Moses,” said Rameses. “You are really trying my patience. I thought you had left Thebes for good.”

  “I will not leave until you have met the demands of the Lord of Heaven and earth,” said Moses.

  “Rameses is the lord of Heaven and earth,” said one of the attending priests. “He is the god incarnate, Amen-Ra!”

  “You are disturbing a ceremony dedicated to the god Sobek,” said Rameses. “You are tempting the anger of the Nile god!”

  “And you are tempting the anger of the living God,” replied Moses.

  Sobek was in fact very angry. He ordered his agents to find Kara and bring him at once. Sobek wasn’t sure how to handle Moses. He had tried to kill him once before, but the child had been well protected. True, this time there weren’t as many angels around. Still, the ever-present Michael again stood beside Moses in Pharaoh’s presence.

  “Michael, you are certainly persistent,” said Sobek. “Don’t you know that you are opposing the power of the Nile god?”

  “Moses opposes you in the name of the Most High, Sobek,” said Michael. “And your powers are meaningless.”

  Sobek saw Jannes and Jambres returning with Maret-men. He also saw that Kara had arrived with sufficient forces to make him feel more comfortable. He smiled at Michael.

  “We shall see how meaningless my powers are,” he said.

  “This what the Lord says,” began Moses. “Egypt’s pride is this great river which the Lord Creator blessed upon this land. Yet you have profaned that which was given by the living God and made it into a thing to be worshiped—an abomination in the sight of God! Therefore, the Lord God shall turn this ‘sacred’ river Nile into blood so that every living thing within it shall die. Thus shall your god Sobek be humbled; thus, perhaps, you shall see that the power of God is greater than that of the gods of Egypt!”

  “Then it is here on the river that we shall make our stand!” said Sobek. He quickly ordered the legions under his command to create a wall between the sacred river and Moses. They stood shoulder to shoulder, massing until the river itself was blotted out by their presence. Sobek himself stood in front of the massed legions.

  “I defy the living God of Moses,” he said.

  By this time Pellecus
had arrived with Lucifer and was waiting at a distance to see the outcome of the contest. He whispered to Lucifer:

  “Does he know what he is doing, defying the Most High?” Pellecus asked.

  “He is not speaking to the Most High as much as he is speaking to the human sorcerers,” Lucifer said, indicating Jannes and Jambres, who in turn boasted aloud that Sobek cried out in defiance of the Hebrew god.

  Moses raised his staff and pointed it toward the river—directly where Sobek stood defiantly in front of the massed devils. The power of the Lord shot forth, throwing Sobek to the ground and scattering the wall of demons like so many hornets whose nest has been disturbed. Sobek was paralyzed and in a panic.

  Lucifer and Pellecus both moved back as the brilliant light, unseen by the humans, streamed out of Moses’ staff and into the middle of the river. Moses then walked to the bank of the river, treading directly over Sobek, and dipped his staff into the Nile. Suddenly from the middle of the river a thin reddish streak could be seen, which became more and more pronounced.

  Fishermen and barges stopped whatever they were doing and looked in wonder as the Nile turned red with blood! The red ribbon continued expanding until it reached both banks of the Nile, creating a stream of bloody red water. Sobek’s own image began bleeding from the eyes and teeth. The crocodiles in the river, the very image of Sobek, began thrashing about, dying or moving out of the poisonous water.

  Rameses looked in disbelief at the scene. He looked to the priests, who only offered prayers to Sobek, to overcome the Hebrew god’s visitation upon the river. But Maret-men spoke soothingly to the pharaoh.

  “Majesty, this is only another trick of a prophet without a god,” said Maret-men. “The Nile does indeed flow red, but not because of the power of a god, but the tricks of a magician! Behold!”

  Upon his cue Jannes and Jambres took the pitcher that Pharaoh had been holding and with Kara’s involvement, turned the water into blood. Pharaoh’s fear turned into anger as he looked upon Moses. Rameses took the pitcher, smashed it at Moses’ feet, and turned away in anger.

 
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