Unholy empire chronicles.., p.4
Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 4
“You mean we are to bring an offering to the Lord?” asked Cain.
“Yes,” said A’dam. “But you must not think you are offering to God from your own ability or strength. There is nothing worthwhile that we can present to Him. It must be done in simple belief and trust. That is how you worship God. That is how you overcome the evil in this world. And that is how the promise can be realized.”
Abel looked at his father with a new understanding and compassion. The fire cast a glow on him that made him seem suddenly years older. In an instant, Abel’s mind flashed back to glimpses of growing up and watching his father’s passionate hope to recapture something he had thrown away. He remembered A’dam in worship, talking to God and offering Him the firstlings of the sheep. He also remembered the frustration and bitterness that sometimes rose up, as A’dam scorned the very earth he had himself brought a curse upon. Abel thought that he understood his father much better now.
“The next time the moon is complete in the sky,” A’dam, continued, “it will be time for both of you to begin making your own offerings to the Lord. And remember, these gifts must be from your heart, complete acts of submission.” He pointed his finger at both of his sons. “If you think for a moment that your offering is in and of itself worthy, you are in sin. You must offer something that does not smack of pride or self. It must be sincere and from your innermost being or it will not be accepted.”
Abel turned to his brother after A’dam left them to join Eve. “Cain. We are going to begin offering to the Lord. Think of it!”
“And think of the promise!” said Cain excitedly. “But what am I to do about it? How am I supposed to make this happen?”
“You heard father,” answered Abel. “By worshiping God and loving Him.”
Cain had a concerned look upon his face. “Yes, that is wonderful. For you that will be easy. You already know the Lord, you talk to Him often.”
“You know Him too,” responded Abel. “You just have to listen to Him. Your problem is that you are always trying to please Him through what you do. I have learned that He is not interested in what we do, but who we are.”
“Yes, but I sometimes feel that He loves you more than He loves me,” said Cain. “And that is the truth of the matter. That is why he accepts you.”
“Perhaps, brother,” said Abel, “it isn’t a matter of how much He loves you, but of how much you really love Him.”
“So be it,” sneered Cain. “I will make an offering to Him that is so worthy that yours will be like ashes in comparison.” Cain stood up, holding a stick and pointing in the direction of the flocks. “All you do is raise the sheep and watch them. What kind of offering can come of that? I till the earth—a cursed earth at that—and force its harvest. I sweat, brother, and create from nothing! We’ll see whose offering is acceptable and whose is not!”
Abel watched his brother storm off into the darkness. He had tried to better understand Cain, but the two had always been opposite sorts. “Someday, my brother,” called out Abel, “your anger will destroy you!”
“I would say it is destroying him already,” came a voice from the darkness.
“Cain is a fool!”
Several of the fallen angels had assembled near Cain’s field, awaiting the arrival of their commander, Kara. They spied Cain, who was working the earth and at times cursing it. Whenever he uttered an oath they laughed hysterically.
“Poor fellow,” one of the angels, named Sellus, said. “Humans are so completely stupid. And so easily flustered.”
“Particularly this one,” agreed the other.
“Not so stupid that he doesn’t understand the importance of bringing the Lord an offering,” came Kara’s voice.
The angels suddenly came to order and awaited Kara’s appearance. He came gliding in and landed in their midst. He looked at Cain and smirked. “This one is a bit of a brute, to be sure,” Kara said. “But he and his brother still pose a real threat.”
“This temperamental beast?” said Sellus. “I can see the threat Abel poses simply because he seems sensitive to the Lord. But Cain?”
“Either of these humans could be the One who was foretold,” said Kara. “Lucifer is quite clear on that point. I have my doubts about Cain, nevertheless we must beware. I have Abel watched as well, although we cannot get in as close to him.” He scoffed. “The prophecy is quite clear that it will be an offspring of Eve.” Cain uttered another oath. “I must admit that this one’s unhealthy attitude of praise to the Most High provides a bit of comfort. Maybe even distances him some from the protection of Michael.”
Sellus and the others shuddered at the mention of the archangel. Kara saw their fear and continued. “Ah, Michael. Of all the angels in Heaven, Michael is the most feared by us. And for good reason. His loyalty to the Most High can never be compromised. And for that I envy him and hate him all the more. “
“I dread the day of confrontation with him,” said Sellus.
“As does every angel on earth,” admitted Kara.
“Except for me,” came a rough voice.
“Oh yes, Rugio,” said Kara, not looking up. “I had forgotten how the sting of being bested by Michael has inflamed you.” He smirked as Rugio appeared before them. “Given you a sense of motivation, hmm?”
“Don’t test me, Kara,” said Rugio, the chief of Lucifer’s warrior angels. “I had Michael’s sword once. I shall have it again.”
“Perhaps this time you’ll learn how to handle it,” purred Kara. The other angels remained uncomfortably silent or slowly eased back into the darkness of cover. They all turned as Cain walked across the field, carrying a large stone to the side. Kara laughed as Cain threw the rock down on a pile of similar-sized stones.
“I honestly believe Cain is a bigger threat to the promise than we are,” said Kara. “If that is the best the Most High can muster, we have little to fear.”
“That is what brought me to you,” said Rugio, as they watched Cain sit down on the side of the field on a fallen tree, wiping his brow. “Even beasts like Cain can change.”
Kara looked at Rugio suspiciously. “What have you heard?” he asked.
Rugio smiled. “Apparently your teams are not as thorough as you believed,” said Rugio with an acid tone, “or else you would know that both Cain and Abel will begin bringing offerings to the Lord very soon. Fortunately for our side we are not completely dependent upon your little spies for all of our intelligence. I have some ‘ears’ of my own, so to speak.” Rugio enjoyed the effect of his words on Kara, who glared at Sellus and the others.
“Congratulations,” said Kara. “Yes, my angels are still learning the craft of subtlety and spying,” he said with forced good nature. “Just as your warriors are still learning the art of war.” He looked at Sellus with icy eyes. “I see that I need to discipline my charges a bit more.” Sellus slowly vanished into the darkness. Kara turned back to Rugio. “So, it’s come to offerings to the Lord?”
“Yes,” said Rugio. “That can only mean that they are growing closer to Him…”
“And the closer they grow to the Most High, the greater the chance for the Seed to emerge,” Kara mused. “Interesting assumption, but it makes sense.”
“Lucifer has assigned me personally to see that Cain doesn’t become too close to the Lord,” said Rugio. “I’ll make sure his worship doesn’t create any problems for us. He’ll mourn the day he was born to Eve.”
“Cain is a fool,” said Kara. “All he needs is a little encouragement and he becomes enraged. A stone in a field can bring him down as easily as one of your warriors. I prefer the more subtle approach, something that requires thought and contests their minds—such as we are using with the parents. You know, ongoing accusations that keep them steeped in guilt and bitterness and consequently, alone.”
“Do as you like with his parents,” said Rugio. “And with Abel. But leave Cain to me. He’ll be my first trophy of the war.”
“And your last,
“I will see to it,” said Rugio.
He gave Kara a resolute look, then vanished. Sellus emerged from the darkness, with a curious expression on his face. Kara smirked at Sellus.
“Rugio will never be clever enough to handle this task,” Kara finally said. “It requires subtlety, not brutality. This I know. And Lucifer will know this as well.”
Chronicles of the Host
Thus it was that Cain, son of A’dam, became a source of effort on the part of those who had rebelled against the Most High.
Though all of Heaven wanted the honor of shepherding Cain through the conflict, the task fell to Serus, an angel who had proven his mettle in staying fast with the Lord during the critical time of darkness in Heaven. To Serus went the mission of watching the movements of Cain and reporting on his progress through life, which to a human was very long indeed, but to an angel seemed but an instant.
The Host anticipated many such assignments as the war carried on and more and more humans populated the earth. We continued to learn more and more of the unfolding plan of the Most High God, witnessing His marvelous and excellent wisdom in dealing with the rather inconsistent humans. Though the humans were separated from Him because of their disobedience, in the heart of every angel remained the hope of the coming one who would crush the head of the serpent.
All of us understood the significance of the offerings that the humans made to the Lord, though we never understood the Lord’s pleasure in the offerings. Thus as the sons of A’dam prepared their offerings, all angels, both holy and fallen, took great interest in the proceedings. It seemed that something critical to the war hinged on the offering—something that would turn the war in a new direction…
“He rejected it,” said Cain. “He accepted your offering and didn’t even bother with mine.” Cain kicked over the offering of grains and fruit that he had brought before the Lord, spilling it onto the grass. He then sat down and wept bitterly.
Abel walked over to his brother, trying to think of the right words, the right expression of feeling. The smoke was still rising from the offering he had presented; the aroma of fat still crackling over the smoldering fire hung in the air. He glanced at the remains of Cain’s rejected offering, now scattered in the grass, and felt a deep compassion for his brother. Finally he spoke up. “I’m sorry, Cain,” Abel said, placing his hand on Cain’s shoulder. Cain pulled away from Abel’s touch.
“I don’t need your pity,” he said, looking up with tear-filled eyes. “I have been rejected and you have been accepted. It has always been that way and it always shall.”
“Cain, the Lord has no favorite between us,” Abel assured him. “I simply brought an offering that pleased Him. You remember what Father said…”
“Father’s offerings are accepted because he was the first,” Cain replied bitterly. “But why are your offerings any different from mine?”
“Because mine was done in faith, from my heart—not by the sweat of my brow. The Lord requires faith, Cain. Father told us that.”
“Father again?” Cain exploded. “Excellent advice, considering he is the one who disobeyed in the first place. If he had had faith in Eden none of this would be necessary.”
Cain looked at his brother harshly. “And what do you know about anything that requires the sweat of your brow?” he demanded. “You have always tended the flocks while I have worked the fields. It is obvious that the Lord prefers shepherds to farmers.” He scoffed. “From now on I’ll be neither shepherd nor farmer.”
“You can’t simply give up everything because you suffered a loss,” reasoned Abel. “Find out what pleases God and do that thing.”
“How can you please a God who rejects your best effort?” came a voice. Nan, one of Rugio’s lieutenants had finally crept into the conversation and was whispering into Cain’s mind. “You cannot please a God who plays favorites.”
Lucifer, Kara, and Rugio were watching the scene unfold from the side. Opposite them, and across the way, were Michael, Serus, and several holy angels. They had come down in response to Eve’s praying for her two sons following the offerings. Kara was talking to Lucifer, in hushed conversation.
“Well, Kara,” said Michael. “I see, as always, that you cannot let the humans play this out on their own.”
“We’re merely expediting the inevitable,” said Kara. “Cain has complete control. We are only suggesting, not demanding. The choice, as always, is his to make.”
“Nevertheless you are forbidden to touch him,” said Michael, his belted sword beginning to glow. “Eve is praying for her sons and we are sent here in response.”
“Things must be really extraordinary in Heaven these days,” sneered Kara. “In response to the sniveling of a distraught mother, they send an archangel accompanied by…a traitor. To do what? Keep us from touching this human? We have no need to touch him, Michael. He is destroying himself.”
Michael was disgusted with the scene as more and more demons flocked in to enjoy the spectacle. All the while Nan continued hammering away, whispering in Cain’s ears how God had rejected him in favor of his brother.
“God does love you more, doesn’t He?” said Cain, looking up at his younger brother. “Even though I am the firstborn, He loves you more.”
“Cain, please,” pleaded Abel. “That is not true. God loves you…”
“It is true!” said Cain, almost screaming. Cain stood up and leaned against a tree. “Your offering is still being accepted,” he said, pointing to the smoldering remains of Abel’s firstling. “I really think I hate you, my brother.”
Abel was taken aback by Cain’s words. Never had he seen Cain so vehement in his anger towards him. He had grown up with Cain and was used to his occasional bursts of anger. But this was something deeper—something that had to be dampened. Abel could only begin to pray to the Lord on behalf of his angry brother. He prayed silently:
“Most High God. You are the Lord who made Heaven and earth. You have accepted my offering and now I come to ask You to hear this plea. Lord, my God, help Cain to understand that You love him. Help him to grow in love of You. And whatever the enemy of my father might be attempting, I ask You to war for us, Lord, for we cannot fight him alone. War after my father’s enemy and cause him to release Cain from his grip, for I see something unholy here.”
Suddenly Michael’s sword became a brilliant blue light. Lucifer watched intently as the others with him jumped back. The archangel lunged at Nan, sword drawn. Nan shrieked and disappeared into the sky, many of the demons scattering with him. Michael looked around with fierce eyes of protection. Rugio began stepping forward as if to fight but Lucifer stopped him.
“Interesting move, archangel,” said Lucifer. “But not quite fair. None of us are to interfere with human choice, remember?”
“Unless a human chooses to pray a prayer of faith, Lucifer. I was compelled by the Most High to act—as is any assigned angel.”
“But who prayed? Eve? She can hardly pray so bold a prayer as to release your authority here.”
Michael smiled. “Abel prayed for his brother,” he said. “You forget, Lucifer, that you can only try to influence the minds of men. You cannot know their minds—or know what they are thinking. Abel prayed to the Most High and I was instantly released to help him. Incidentally, it was a marvelous prayer.”
Lucifer seethed as Cain began to recover from his anger. Cain stood up and began to talk calmly with Abel. Before long they embraced each other and left the place. “I’m sorry, Abel,” said Cain. “I know the Lord loves me. And I don’t hate you. I sometimes let my temper get the better of me.”
“Next offering we’
“Well done, Michael. It seems men can call on the Most High and cause you to act. It seems you have two masters now—God and the dirty humans.” He walked over to Michael. “But you have taught me an important lesson today about this war. Next time I will be equally prepared.”
Michael looked coldly into Lucifer’s eyes for a few seconds and then disappeared. Kara turned to Lucifer with a look of concern. “I had rather hoped that Rugio would make a better effort of it,” he said, watching Rugio speak with Nan over Lucifer’s shoulder. “I suppose there will be other chances. Still, I might have tried something a bit more convincing.”
“More convincing than your present approach, I hope,” Lucifer said slyly.
Serus remained behind on Michael’s orders to keep watch on the situation. He stood alone, looking at Lucifer, to whom he had once pledged loyalty. Snickering began to fill the air as Rugio and some of the other demons began harassing their former ally.
“Well, Serus,” said Lucifer. “I have often wondered what my words would be to you when ever we met again.”
Serus remained silent, ignoring Lucifer’s comments.
“Tell me, Serus,” said Kara. “How does it feel to be a traitor?”
Serus laughed. “You should know that, Kara. You betrayed so many.”
“Well done, Serus,” said Lucifer with an astonished tone. “You have become bold since we parted company. You would never have been so brash as to speak to one of my highest officers in such terms when you were in my service.”
by D. Brian Shafer have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes