Unholy empire chronicles.., p.9

Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 9

 

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



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  “For one hundred years of this miserable planet’s life Noah has labored on this ark, as he calls it. And in all of those years we have hardly been effective at all, much less impeded his work. Would someone care to explain to me why the greatest angels ever created cannot stop one old man and his family?”

  Not one angel dared look at Lucifer straight on. Each deliberated in his own mind what answer he would frame should he be called upon—but nobody dared volunteer an answer. Lucifer, clearly disturbed, looked over his leadership. They were assembled upon a high spot that overlooked the meadow where the ark was being constructed.

  “Look at it down there,” he said. “For years we have had to watch this work take place. You hear that laughter down there? Those vile, harassing humans aren’t laughing at Noah. It is we who are being laughed at! Rugio! What happened to your vaunted legions? I thought they were inciting people to torch this folly?”

  Rugio looked at Lucifer. “My lord,” he began, “as you well know I have several times assembled the humans in a riotous grouping with the intention of destroying the ark. But as they approach the site they begin to panic and break up.” He shook with anger, his reddish aura beginning to manifest. “There is always a cordon of holy angels surrounding it.”

  “They are like an impenetrable wall,” admitted Kara.

  “There will always be opposition to our efforts,” said Lucifer.

  “We have learned that. With most humans there is little or no covering. But those who are close to the Most High, such as Noah, or that tired old dog Methuselah who is finally dead, will always be strongly protected. If we are to win this war we must find a way in!”

  They all heard the noise of construction resuming.

  “Every spike driven…every plank put in place…every deck completed is another victory for the Lord,” said Lucifer. “Kara! What of your efforts?”

  Kara stood as if addressing the Council of Elders in Heaven once more. “My lord, I must admit that of all our efforts, short-failed as they might be, I believe mine have proven the most useful and effective.”

  “Naturally,” said Pellecus sarcastically. “This is why the ship is almost completed.”

  “I only say this because we have learned the power of discouragement,” Kara continued. “Noah is a man of faith. So be it. But I have seen his faith at times grow weary—even weak—through the persistence of a discouraging spirit working through those closest to him.” Kara smiled. “It seems humans are hurt most by those who love them most!”

  “Love is a powerful weapon when used correctly,” mused Lucifer. “Go on.”

  “True, we have never stopped the ark’s progress,” Kara continued. “But those times that the work did slow down correspond with the times that Noah was discouraged. I believe that the ark is a schoolmaster for us—an academy of sorts—that is teaching us how to refine our tactics for future engagements.”

  Kara was quite animated now. “I tell you that more powerful than torches and curses by filthy outsiders are the wounds of one’s own family! That, my lord, is a valuable weapon that makes the one hundred years’ of human time and effort seem small in comparison.”

  Everyone remained silent for a few moments. A hawk circled overhead, lazily and elegantly riding the gentle breezes. Lucifer watched the graceful bird, now careening to one side, now to another, finally disappearing over the mountains to the west. Then he spoke up. “Just like that hawk, who seeks out his prey and strikes swiftly and unexpectedly, so must we engage our enemy in this war.”

  “Perhaps you are correct, Kara.” He stood with the ark looming behind him, engulfing much of the horizon. “Perhaps we cannot stop the ark’s construction. But what we can do is prepare for the next effort. You see, there will always be a next effort…the next battle…the next place where we can watch for the Seed to emerge so that when it finally comes out into the open it can be destroyed!”

  He waved his hands in dismissal. “Let the ark be completed. If it is to carry the Seed, then we shall watch its progress. And like the hawk we shall be watching from afar…our prey’s time of vulnerability…and then we shall strike hard and swiftly.”

  Behind him Lucifer could hear the sounds of rejoicing. The ark was finished! Turning to look at the family, he saw the raucous celebration turn into a time of prayer and thanksgiving led by Noah. Holy angels gathered over the family as they prayed, keeping a watchful eye on the dark spirits who were always nearby.

  Lucifer looked at the angels gliding in from Heaven and positioning themselves around the family. “They too, like hawks, are patient and vigilant,” he said, “swooping in on their prey, greedily holding it in their talons.”

  “I never thought that part of my duty to the Most High would include rounding up animals!” said Serus.

  Serus and Archias walked alongside the pair of water buffalo, who suspiciously eyed the angels herding them toward the ark that loomed in the distance. A well-worn trail, fast becoming a path, indicated the way to the craft that would soon be the home of all sorts of creatures, human and beast.

  “No, this way,” yelled an exasperated Archias. He steered the brute back onto the trail, to the snickering of other angels who were engaged in similar tasks. All along the pathway leading to the ark were pairs of animals, some accompanied, but most being guided by holy angels sent to help Noah fulfill the Lord’s command that animals be brought into the great boat.

  As for Noah, he was amazed to see the animals coming to him, as if they had minds of their own. Of course he could not see the invisible herders, and he gave all of the glory to the Lord Most High.

  “Look at it, my sons,” he said with a feeling of pride in his God. “The Lord is so good. He sends us the animals so that our work is greatly lightened.”

  “Yes, Father,” said a panting Ham, who was carrying a heavy bundle of straw up the gangplank leading inside the bowels of the ship. “But provisioning for these animals is quite another task!” Coming down the plank, Japheth met Ham and indicated that they were almost done with the straw.

  “Father, I think we’re nearly finished,” Japheth said. “At least we’re almost out of room for any more food.”

  Shem came running out of the entry, knocking a portion of the straw off Ham’s shoulder.

  “Hey! Careful there,” yelled Ham, as he saw a portion of straw scatter at his feet. Shem ignored his brother and headed right to Noah, who stood at the end of the gangplank watching the animals pass by.

  “Are the animals settling in?” Noah asked.

  “Yes, Father,” said Shem, “for now.” He glanced nervously at a passing pair of brown bears, coached by the unseen guides who were shuttling them up the wooden walkway.

  Noah smiled. He knew that Shem’s fear of some of the animals was exaggerated. That was why he had put him in charge of caring for the larger ones, especially the cats. Noah placed his hand on Shem’s shoulder.

  “You have nothing to worry about,” he said. “These animals will not harm us. They are special to the Lord. Look at them coming in…as far as you can see they come. And all on their own instinct!”

  “Instinct, he says,” remarked Darus, an angel who was at that moment wrestling a large boar up the path. The other angels laughed.

  “They are under the Lord’s care and complete control,” Noah said. “Here now! This way, you old sow,” he said, gently tugging on the great boar and pulling her back on the mark. Darus looked at Noah and said, “Thank you, sir.”

  “He can’t hear you,” said Archias, as he and Serus, having deposited their beast, moved out of the ark.

  “Never hurts,” said Darus, a little ruffled.

  As he said these words a great noise came from somewhere down the path. Dust was being kicked up and the sound of branches crashing and trees being snapped could be heard, along with the sound of a trumpeting elephant gone mad.

  “Japheth! Ham!” Noah screamed. “This way!”

  Shem and Noah hurriedly made their way past the other anima
ls toward the source of the disturbance. A mother elephant charged uncontrollably this way and that, scattering the animals into the bush.

  “Again!” came the voice of Berenius, who, with the help of 20 or so devils, was tormenting the beast, causing it to react violently.

  “Steer her to the village,” he ordered. “The townspeople have had enough of Noah and his bloody animals!”

  The devils were buzzing around the confused and angry animal like bees, swarming her ears and mind, and causing her to charge at anything and everything that moved. Suddenly the beast turned, crashed through some blackberry bushes, and charged toward the village.

  “Stop that animal!” came the order from Michael, who had arrived on the scene with several others. Serus and Archias crashed into a group of devils riding the animal, scattering them. Michael drew his sword and swooped in, aided by other angels who were now showing up in strength.

  The sight of Michael caused some of the devils to relent and shriek, disappearing into the woods. Berenius held tight, ordering his charges to continue the fight. Michael swung his sword at Berenius, narrowly missing the angel, who then gripped the elephant’s mind in a tormenting lock that caused her to rear up madly.

  Michael took another swing at Berenius, this time hitting him squarely on the shoulder. Berenius yelped and loosened his hold on the animal, looking about for any assistance that might be forthcoming. By the time Michael raised his sword for another blow, Berenius saw that he was being enveloped by heavenly angels and gave it up, cursing as he released the animal. He vanished into the air with what was left of his party.

  Michael moved to the elephant and began speaking to her calmly and soothingly, finally causing her to stand motionless and dumb. Villagers came running out to meet the beast with clubs, spears, and torches. Kerz saw Noah arriving on the scene and pointed to him.

  “There he is!” he said. “This man will destroy us all. The boat is one thing. But bringing dangerous animals near our homes is too much!”

  The hostile crowd agreed, directing angry affirmations and oaths against Noah and his family. Noah’s two angels, ever at his side, stayed near him as he walked to the elephant and began to pat her huge leg.

  “There, there, old girl,” he said, giving the beast a piece of cane to eat. “You see? She is alright. Just a little nervous.”

  “Hold her steady, “said Michael, as several angels ministered a calm over the animal, speaking softly and gently into her mind.

  “What do you expect?” said Kerz. “Herding these animals into that stinking boat of yours—we will have no more of it!”

  “Your gods are wicked,” said Cyron, the local shaman. “You worship devil gods who have enchanted these animals. You are collecting them to use against us one day!” He threw some white powder into the air in an attempt to ward off the evil that Noah had brought into the village. “The ark must be destroyed!”

  “No, hear me,” said Noah, raising his hands. “Hear me, for this will be the last time I speak to you.”

  Noah motioned to his sons to help him climb onto the back of the elephant, who only a moment before had been charging wildly.

  “You see? She is calm. At peace. Cyron, I serve no devil god. I serve the living God. You think that by sorcery I have brought these animals here to the ark? I don’t pretend to understand any of this. I can only tell you that if you do not repent from your wickedness, you will all die.”

  The crowd murmured restlessly, their anger building.

  “You threaten us?” asked Kerz, waving his weapon in the air.

  “No,” said Noah. “I invite you and as many as will accompany us. The Lord Most High is gracious. Anyone who will come with us and serve Him will be spared!”

  The crowd burst out in laughter, jeering Noah. Shem was becoming angry and began looking for a weapon just in case.

  “Just where are you going in that floating zoo?” asked Kerz. “The nearest river is miles from here, old man. You are in the hills, not on the sea. And you bring your shame to us all. All the villages around us are aware of your nonsense, and we are paying for it. The ark must be destroyed if you ever want to have fellowship with us again!”

  The crowd again burst out in raucous agreement.

  “Look out,” said Serus, to Michael, who also had seen Lucifer, Kara, and a company of their demons coming in. “This is their chance.”

  “Well Lucifer, “said Michael. “Come for one last attempt?”

  Lucifer landed near Kerz, ignoring the human who continued his carping at Noah. He walked among the mob toward Michael.

  “No, archangel,” said Lucifer. “We shall not attempt anything. Of course whatever these wretched humans want to muster is entirely up to them.” He looked at Michael. “There might still be human blood on your hands before this is all over.”

  “I won’t kill a human unless the Lord decrees it,” said Michael. “Even one of these,” he indicated the unruly mob. “But I am sworn to protect Noah and his family and no human or angel shall get through to them.”

  Kara sneered. “Never fear, archangel. We came to see the result of Berenius’s plan to destroy the village. I see that he fell short.”

  “I told him the plan was useless,” said Lucifer. “But he insisted on at least one more attempt. I never want to discourage an eager disciple. A pity really,” he added, envisioning the elephant dashing through the village, destroying and killing as it went and inflaming the people to complete violence against Noah and the ark. “And where is Berenius?”

  “The next time you see Berenius, my mark will be upon him,” said Michael resolutely. “As it shall be on any angel who opposes the Lord’s will.”

  “How dreadful that you are relegated to protecting these rebellious creatures,” said Kara, amused at the scene. “How like the very animals coming into the ark are these humans. Horrible vermin!” As he said this he kicked at a man standing near him who was holding some of Cyron’s emblems. Startled, the man winced in pain, gripping his gut and dropping the shaman’s gear. Cyron scolded him loudly.

  “Get them onto the ark,” said Lucifer. “We are ready to continue this war on the other side of this.” He looked over the crowd. The men were still clamoring for Noah’s destruction. Women watched from a distance, carrying their babies. Children ran about carelessly. “I am ready to see these people destroyed if that is the will of the Lord. Every dead human is another failure of the Most High! What a bloody god you serve!”

  “Wrong, Lucifer,” came Crispin’s voice. He landed near Michael, nodding at the archangel. “Every human death is the result of human carnage and sin introduced so capably by you in Eden. It is not the Lord’s fault but their own. Noah has told them the truth for one hundred years now. The choice, as always, is theirs.”

  “And the choice, as always, will be the wrong one,” said Lucifer smugly. “It matters not to me how they choose. Death is death.”

  “Then we shall see you again, after the present judgment comes,” said Michael, in a dismissing sort of voice.

  “Of course, “said Lucifer. “And how prophetic, Michael. Judgment indeed is coming!”

  He vanished in a violent, howling flurry that caused many of the villagers to scatter from the physical disturbance. The elephant, too, startled for a few seconds and then calmed down once more. Kara smirked at Michael and vanished with the others.

  “What shall it be, Noah?” asked Kerz grimly. “Your family or the ark?”

  Noah looked over the crowd for a few moments and then addressed them. “I go now. And I shall not see you again until perhaps one day when the Lord of Heaven and Earth judges all things.”

  A young boy of about four came running up to Noah and playfully handed him a half-eaten piece of fruit. The boy’s mother hastily snatched the boy to keep him away from the “mad” Noah. The godly man wept as he saw the little boy being taken away with the other children of the village.

  “Your blood be on your own heads! Your wives…your children…it is all
on your own heads! The Lord have mercy on you all!” He tore at his clothes violently, ripping them midway down his body. The crowd watched curiously and was for the first time, quiet. There was not a sound in the village, except for some children splashing in a puddle nearby. Cyron looked around at the dumbfounded people, shrieked a curse against Noah, and rattled a talisman. He demanded that Noah leave and take whatever dark spirits accompanied him.

  Noah sighed and turned away, motioning for his sons to leave with him. The villagers watched as Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth left for the last time, with the elephant lumbering behind, and did nothing to hinder their departure. Cyron continued his railing until Noah and his sons had disappeared down the pathway. Then the mob began breaking up.

  Kerz remained where he stood, bitterly disappointed that Noah and his sons had come and gone without incident. His anger was so aroused that he picked up a stone and threw it at a dog strolling lazily nearby. The dog yelped and ran off. Kerz was so agitated that he almost growled under his breath.

  Unseen by any of the others, one of Berenius’s angels appeared next to Kerz. The devil, who was a spirit of anger, massaged Kerz’s mind, speaking into it thoughts of destruction, of finishing this affair once and for all. Kerz looked at two or three rough-looking men in the crowd and motioned them over to him. The demon whispered the word “tonight,” into the heart of Kerz.

  “Tonight,” Kerz repeated the word to the men, patting his axe and looking around carefully. One of the men, whose front tooth was broken, grinned and nodded. Several devils who began appearing around the men also grinned.

  “That’s the last of them,” said Serus, as Archias managed a female ostrich up the ramp and into the now noisy and foul smelling ark. “And I for one am glad of it.”

  “Tired of your duties there, Serus?”

  Serus turned and saw Michael and Crispin standing on the first level of the ark high above him. He smiled and recovered himself. “Not at all,” he answered. “I simply look forward to my next assignment.”

 

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