Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 27
“As long as Moses has their confidence, they will follow him,” said Rugio, who rarely spoke up at the conferences. He then muttered, “I would enjoy tearing him in half.”
For a fleeting moment every mind envisioned such a thing with great satisfaction.
“Unfortunately, Moses enjoys the protection of the Most High and the most powerful angels in the heavenlies,” said Pellecus. “It will be about as easy to get to him now as it was to get to him when he was a baby in the Nile.”
“They key is not Moses,” said Lucifer. “The key is, as always, the human propensity to wander. That is the legacy we left them at Eden. Our mistake in Egypt was that we directly assaulted the Lord’s honor. We have learned a great lesson here. Let me explain further.”
Lucifer picked up a handful of sand and salt, and slowly sifted it out of his fingers. “We must not forget that these people are now in the wilderness of an alien and hostile land. No longer do they enjoy the bounty and security of Egypt. I tell you—give them some time in the blistering sun, with little water; give them a few more weeks of pitching camp and tearing it down on a moment’s notice; let them experience hostile raiders and scorpion bites and endless horizons!”
Lucifer smiled. “It won’t be long before these people turn on Moses and establish their own nation apart from God! It is in their nature to rebel. And I believe that, with some encouragement, they will not only overthrow Moses and his simple brother, Aaron, but will turn on the Most High as well!”
As Lucifer spoke a demon appeared and, discreetly making his way over to Kara, whispered something to him. The others watched and waited. Kara smiled and nodded his head. He seemed delighted with what he heard and looked at the others with a knowing, confident expression. Most of the demons present nodded back in response. A few ignored him altogether.
For all the faults that the others saw in Kara; in spite of his foolish inclination to boast and then be bested; even though he was currently out of favor with Lucifer, Kara maintained an enormous advantage over the others: he maintained the greatest network of agents and information gatherers on earth. This fact made him quite dangerous in the hostile world of territorialism that was part of Lucifer’s government. Every devil knew that Kara could use his information to damage a rival as easily as to further the war against the Most High.
“Well?” asked Lucifer finally.
“My lord, you have often said yourself that the Lord Most High has a propensity for leaving open a door,” he began.
“Yes, yes, well?” said Lucifer.
“It seems that at a place called Marah, Moses threw a stick into a pool of bitter water and made it sweet for the people to drink. It was the Lord, of course, and Moses was merely following instructions…”
“What is your point?” demanded Pellecus. “You, of all of us, should understand the Lord’s power over water!”
A few snickers escaped the group.
“The point, my learned brother, is that Moses had to do this in order to satisfy the complaints of the people.” He looked at all the angels as if he had stumbled upon a wonderful revelation. “Moses commands a nation of grumbling, petty Hebrews!”
“We have known that since they came to Egypt,” said Tinius, who had recently begun attending the Council of War. “They always complained.”
“Ah, but that was under the taskmaster’s whip,” continued Kara. “That was when they were in bondage. Now they are delivered…and still they murmur and grumble.”
Kara waited for his words to be absorbed by the council. Lucifer looked intently at Kara, then nodded slowly in understanding. Pellecus too seemed to understand, albeit grudgingly, since the words came from Kara. The others seemed lost as to the significance of Kara’s words.
“Don’t you see?” Kara went on. “You were just saying, and rightly so, that an assault on Moses directly would never be successful. The way to get at Moses is through these rotten, childish people…”
“Who murmur at every turn,” continued Lucifer, picking up Kara’s reasoning. “How true that these people are some of the most ungrateful people in the world. And how ironic! They are in covenant with the Creator of the universe, yet they grumble at the first bit of thirst—and in a desert!”
“Exactly, my prince,” said Kara. “And a grumbling, ungrateful people are not going to be prayerful or faith-filled.”
“Which means we can have greater access to them,” mused Pellecus. “Interesting. So what are you proposing, Kara?”
“Just this,” said Kara. “We take full advantage of this opportunity to discourage, distract, and embitter this rabble against Moses and the Lord God. We turn the people, his family, even Aaron and Miriam, against him. We scour the nation and find the leaders among them whom we can encourage to oppose Moses outright. Once Moses is overthrown, we will then have the rebel leaders escort the people back to Egypt.”
“Brilliant!” said Lucifer. “We will make the hardships of the desert, and consequently of freedom, so harsh, that they will beg to return to the comfort of Egypt.”
“You really think these people will return to the bondage of Egypt?” asked Pellecus. “They clamored for four hundred years to be released.”
“If there is one thing I have learned about humans, dear Pellecus,” said Lucifer, “it is that when they are pressed, they will trade their freedom for a sense of control—even if it means returning to bondage. We learned that in Eden—and we are seeing it now!”
He turned to Kara.
“Unleash your agents,” Lucifer said. “Uncover every element of discontent among the Hebrews. Anything we can exploit I want a full report upon. We’ll have Moses begging to get back to Egypt himself!”
Once more the immense camp of Israelites was on the move, the cloud of smoke having indicated that the journey must continue. The trumpet had sounded and the cry had gone forth, “Let God arise! Let His enemies be scattered!”
Crispin and Michael surveyed the scene: uncooperative animals; cranky children; wives and mothers hastily organizing the household goods; fathers and sons herding the animals or grabbing their weapons for the next leg of the journey.
“It’s a marvelous thing to watch these humans push themselves along,” said Crispin, looking at a mother chasing down her young child. “On they go.”
“But when will the Lord bring them into the land He swore to them?” asked Michael. “These people have such a limited ability to endure, it seems.”
“Indeed,” agreed Crispin. “I have been teaching the Host on the ways of men. I am astonished every day by some new ability to choose recklessly. And yet…”
As he spoke an ancient man walked by, singing praises to the Most High God for the deliverance He had brought them. Crispin continued, “And yet they have a capacity for touching the Lord’s heart.”
“There’s Gabriel,” said Michael, hailing the powerful archangel arriving from the North.
“Hello, my brothers!” Gabriel called back.
“Well, Gabriel,” said Crispin. “You are certainly a welcome sight. I thought you were meeting with the Elders.”
“I just returned from them, good teacher,” Gabriel answered. “The people are on the move again, I see.”
“Yes, the cloud broke this morning,” said Michael.
“What news from the Elders, Gabriel?” asked Crispin.
“The same, I’m afraid,” said Gabriel grimly. “The enemy is planning a new assault on the people.”
“Naturally,” said Crispin. “And we shall defend them as always.”
“Perhaps,” said Gabriel. “But their faith grows weak. The Elders reaffirmed the Lord’s command that, apart from a sovereign move on His part, we cannot interfere or help in situations—unless a prayer of faith is being offered up.”
“But Gabriel, there are many righteous in this nation,” responded Michael.
“I agree. There are some individuals of remarkable faith. But these people must learn to act in faith as one. And so often they disintegrat
“They have a great teacher in rebellion,” mused Crispin.
“And it is rebellion that is Lucifer’s latest ploy,” said Gabriel. He then recounted to Michael and Crispin the briefing he had received from the Elders. Apparently they had received the information from one of the more gossipy demons. It seemed that Lucifer was seeking to divide the nation from within.
“He certainly has the right people for it,” said Crispin. “These people are bent on complaining.”
“He’ll exploit it if he can,” agreed Michael. “And we are to simply allow the enemy access to the camp?”
Just as Michael finished, a fight broke out between two men. One of the men, from the tribe of Gad, was accusing the other, a Levite, of having taken some of his animals. Behind each man stood a grinning devil. The demons chattered with each other, enjoying the fruit of their interference. They looked in the direction of Michael and Crispin, nodded their heads in mock salutation, then returned to watching the scuffle.
“No, Michael,” said Crispin. “We don’t need to allow the enemy access to the camp. The humans have already given it to them!”
As Crispin finished speaking, he and the archangels could see groups of two and three of the enemy drifting in and alighting in various parts of the camp. Some were in dialogue, as if planning their movements; others seemed focused on particular individuals and headed straight for them. Crispin noticed that as the devils came in they sidled up to their particular charges to observe them.
“This is exactly what I have been teaching my students about this war,” Crispin observed. “Notice how they learn about the humans to whom they are assigned and then begin making suggestions to incite their base passions.”
“I only wish we could deal with them immediately,” said Michael, a bit frustrated.
“True, Michael,” agreed Gabriel, looking about him as if sensing something in the air. “There is certainly not a great deal of prayer being offered up these days.”
“These humans!” snorted Crispin. “Like many of my students. They believe that only things which come easily are the sweetest attainments. The Lord God releases them from four hundred years of bondage; He humbles the Egyptian gods; He brings them out with great wonders—and what do they do? They find occasion to murmur, just days into their new freedom. And with Lucifer’s angels fanning the poison that is already within them, I’m afraid we are going to have quite a difficulty ahead!”
“Why are they so susceptible to suggestion by Lucifer’s angels?” asked Michael. “Can’t they tell the difference between what is pure and what is profane?”
“Of course they can, Michael,” said Crispin. “They are spiritual creatures by nature and as such are very aware of spiritual suggestion. There are times when these people demonstrate remarkable ability to hear from the Lord and communicate with Him. Take Moses, for example. Or Abraham. Flawed as he was, Abraham had a heart for God that allowed the Lord to speak to him. The problem is not in hearing a voice—the problem is in making a choice.”
“And humans seem bent on choosing wrongly,” said Gabriel.
“So it seems,” said Crispin. “Ever since the corruption in Eden they have had a tendency to stray. Remember Eve’s desire to know good and evil? Well, humans now know good and evil—and they seem to opt for the evil.”
“Which our friends exploit with great success,” said Michael, looking at a group of demons sitting among some men who were resting from their labors. They were speaking angry thoughts into the minds of the men—thoughts directed at Moses.
“Yes, Michael,” agreed Crispin. “But as always, I must point out that all that Lucifer can do is suggest. It is human responsibility to discard what he says or allow it to take root.” Crispin stood and surveyed the vast sea of people around them. “If the Hebrews are to be the harbingers of the Seed they had better learn that with this great honor comes the great responsibility of choosing wisely. And they’d better learn quickly with the enemy closing in like this.”
Moses sat across from Aaron in his tent. The two men looked haggard and careworn. The crowd outside the tent was becoming more and more bold in their demands that Moses provide for them food and water and a definite destination and…
“Moses, what are we to do?” asked Aaron. “The people are not going to let up until we provide an answer for them.”
“Moses, my children are hungry!” came the desperate and angry voice of a woman. Others joined in support of her.
Moses looked up at Aaron. He smiled a weak smile.
“Aaron, you of all people should know that you or I can provide no answer for these people,” Moses answered. “The Lord God knows what is happening. He will direct us. I have prayed to God; He has answered and will provide.”
“When will you tell them?” Aaron said, wincing at the sound of a small rock bouncing off the tent. Moses watched as the rock glided down the roof above him dropping to the sandy surface with a dull thud.
“This evening,” said Moses. “This evening I will address the people.”
“Well done, Kara,” said Lucifer. “The people are certainly agitated.”
“Thank you, my prince,” said Kara, glad to be back in good stead with Lucifer. “These people are given to agitation. It is only a matter of appealing to the carnal passions that drive them.”
“As always,” added Pellecus. “The human propensity for degradation will always be our advantage. I think sometimes that the less we interfere the better the war goes for us.”
“Quite right,” said Lucifer, surveying the camp from the top of a hillside where he stood with the others. He looked at the pillar of fire, which had manifested as the sun was setting. “But as long as they are guided by so present a God, we will always have to remain vigilant.”
“And as for Moses?” asked Pellecus. “Who is going to be assigned to him?”
“I have decided to assign Rugio to Moses,” said Lucifer. “Quite an appropriate counter to Michael’s obvious interest in him. The bitterness that Rugio holds for the archangel will be a great motivator for him.”
“Moses is not our only obstacle,” said Berenius.
“You mean Joshua?” asked Lucifer.
“Yes, my lord,” said Berenius, a bit surprised at Lucifer’s acumen.
“Joshua does indeed present a bit of a problem,” said Lucifer. “Moses is obviously grooming him to take over when his day comes. I understand that Serus has been assigned to him. I have just decided, Berenius, that you shall be over Joshua. I want you to use whatever means you can to discourage and dissuade him from being a part of this disastrous journey into the desert.”
“Disastrous?” asked Pellecus. “For whom. The Hebrews—or us?”
“Hear me. This will be our message to all of the principle humans involved. Moses has led these people by sorcery into a desert from which there can be no escape except to return to the servitude of Egypt—where at least they were well fed and allowed to live in relative peace.”
“Interesting strategy,” said Pellecus. “Then what we need from among these creatures is a leader. One who is respected and whose opinion carries weight with the people.”
“Excellent summation, Pellecus,” said Kara. “I believe I have found a prime candidate for our little Sinai adventure.” He spoke as one who has a bit of information that he cannot wait to divulge. He looked at the others.
“Well?” said Lucifer.
“I have found among the Levites a man of great influence. I believe in due time we shall be able to set him up against Moses and many will follow him.”
“And who is this man?” asked Lucifer, becoming impatient with Kara’s need for drama.
“Korah, the son of Izhar,” said Kara. “The perfect subject. He is well acquainted with the leading families; he worships at Moses’ side and has his full confidence. He outwardly supports Moses but secretly covets his authority.
Kara stopped before concluding his statement. Pellecus smirked at Kara’s discomfort. Lucifer ignored the obvious comparison.
“Very well, Kara,” said Lucifer. “Cultivate this Levite and when the time is right, turn him against Moses.”
“He shall be a viper in the midst of the reeds, my lord,” said Kara.
“We are here to watch the demise of Moses.”
Moses stood before the congregation of Israelites in what was becoming an all-too-familiar situation—explaining to the increasingly hostile crowd their predicament. Kara’s agents were in the crowd, working up the anger that was brewing and trying with all their might to disrupt the proceedings. They wanted to demonstrate a lack of control on Moses’ part and to illustrate a deficiency in his leadership.
Aaron, Joshua, and the leaders of the various tribes attempted to quell the unrest among the people so that Moses could speak to them. Beside Moses, Michael kept a vigilant, wary eye on Lucifer’s demons, making sure that not one even came close to Moses. In reality, not many demons dared approach Moses with the archangel nearby. Kara and Rugio, of course, were the exception.
“Ah, Michael, still guarding the prophet from his own people, I see,” said Kara, as he and Rugio crossed over toward Michael.
“I believe he is very well protected,” said Michael. “From humans and demons.”
“Come now, Michael, do you really believe we would stoop to assaulting Moses personally when his own people are apt to tear into him at any moment?” Kara purred.
“Moses can handle these people,” said Michael. “And they certainly are not grateful at times.” He looked at Kara and Rugio intently. “But then both of you understand what true ingratitude is.”
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