The Return of the Flying Dragon is the 4th and last volume of the saga Atlantean Secrets.
It is the most intense and the most charged of the books written by Samuel Sagan.
The Nephilim giants have gone on the rampage. The kingdom is sinking into chaos. The days are numbered.
In a world which is falling apart, Szar is no longer an apprentice. Now an initiate in his full power, he is ready for the final battle of the Archive transfer.
Unsuspected friends and unsuspected foes converge onto Eisraim. Precisely because time is running out, the sleepers awaken.
The end of a world is a time when everything is possible.
16 - The Book of the Nephilim Giants
17 - The Book of Paradoxes in Highness
18 - The Book of Death Terrible
19 - The Book of the Fields of Peace
20 - The Book of the Last Days
21 - The Book of the Valley of the Necromancer
22 - The Book of Virginia and Hiram
For reasons of suspense it is impossible to present Books 17, 18, 20 and 21.
However, you will find here large excepts of Book 16 and Book 19.
They have inherited staggering powers from the Watchers.
They're big, they're mad, they're terrifying...
They are the Nephilim giants, which Rabbinic literature describes as the principal cause of the Biblical flood - the flood which ended the kingdom of Atlantis.
16.1 The citadel of the Nephilim giants
16.2 The giant whose time had come
16.5 Guess who is outside the door!
16.6 And what if Aegypton had been colonised by the giants?
In this book, Samuel Sagan presents a number of his prophecies regarding the long-term future of humanity, such as:
Organ replacements, turning human beings into near machines.
Magards - ghosts taking over computer networks.
Book 19, which is presented here in its near-entirety, takes place in the Fields of Peace, or World to Come.
19.3 Fields of revelation, fields of opening
19.5 The kingdom of the rainbows
19.8 The cross and the tessellated pavement
19.9 Apocalypse - the time when everything is possible
And the Watchers have gone to the daughters of men upon the Earth, and have slept with the women... And the women have borne giants, and the whole Earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness.
1 Enoch 9.8-10
And there were giants in the Earth in those days... when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Melissa the giantess untied her dress and casually let it drop on the marble floor. She walked down the steps of her pool. From her way of gliding rather than walking, from the crispness of her glorious naked body and from the excitement which imperceptibly pinched the corner of her lips, Pralaya the baphomet understood that Bexton, Melissa's lover, was on his way. Pralaya smiled. Not like human beings smile, of course. Baphomets had a particular smile no one could copy. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that in their head they always seemed to be laughing with irony, even when they were crying. To smile they didn't need to move their lips, just change the glow in their mysterious eyes.
Pralaya contemplated the sea through the large windows of the room, recalling the loud moans of ecstasy heard from Melissa's bedroom three days earlier, during Bexton's last visit. When Bexton made love to Melissa the entire house seemed to be shaking. And what a mess in her bedroom after he left!
"I can hear you thinking, Pralaya!" Melissa said mischievously.
"No you can't!" Pralaya replied immediately.
The feigned assurance in the baphomet's voice made Melissa chuckle. "Mm... Can you tell me why you are wagging your tail, then?"
"No I am not!" Pralaya wagged his tail a little faster to make Melissa laugh.
The giantess shouted outrage and let herself sink to the bottom of the pool. Pralaya moved nonchalantly to the edge of the water and lay down, waiting for her to emerge.
Melissa loved her pool. She spent at least two hours in it every day. She never seemed to get enough of the warm, caressing vibrations that came from the state-of-the-art rejuvenating field at the bottom of the water, and which kept her body young and exceptionally soft. Although forty-two years of age, she looked barely thirty. And she was now much more beautiful than twelve years earlier, when the extraordinarily costly rejuvenating field had been installed in the house by a team of top-level Field Wizards.
She swam towards the baphomet. When her head came out of the water she was smiling ecstatically. She hardly caught her breath before asking, "What do you think of him, Pralaya?"
"Well of course, Bexton! Who else?"
"Yes, who else?" Pralaya sighed. "I say, a great leader he is indeed. A man of exceptional qualities, and certainly deserving to be the grand commander of our citadel."
"But that's not what I'm asking you, Pralaya! Do you like him?"
"I like his sense of humour. He always has something interesting to say. And he's a splendid giant."
"Mm... such a beautiful man!" Melissa closed her eyes.
"And so intelligent! And kind!" Pralaya mimicked Melissa's enraptured voice.
"Yes! Yes!" She didn't even notice the baphomet was making fun of her. "Do you think he loves me?"
"I say, if he comes to visit you four times a week, then, then... it must be because you have captured something in him."
"But from what you see in him... tell me, wise baphomet, do you think he really loves me?"
"I say, if you call on my wisdom, then, then..." Pralaya paused, carefully searching for words.
Melissa frowned, "Do you see something worrying?"
When baphomets used their sight or when they thought intensely, their eyes shone with an eerie glow.
"Pralaya, you don't approve of him... or do you?" Melissa tried to read his thoughts. But reading a baphomet was a most difficult exercise, even for a highly psychic giantess like her. "What do you think is wrong with him?"
Pralaya remained silent. Melissa was his dear friend. The last thing he wanted was to hurt her feelings.
"Tell me! Please tell me what's on your mind," Melissa insisted impatiently. "What worries you?"
"It's not what I see in Bexton, but more what I see coming for you, Melissa. On the one hoof, I am delighted to see you so happy and shining. But on the other hoof, I wonder if a politician – even Grand Commander Bexton – is the right man for you. You are a woman of sight, a prophetess. You have always cherished wisdom, not wealth. You are so different from the power-hungry courtesans who run after men like him."
"I know!" she said. "Do you think that's what he likes about me? I never ask him for anything but his company. And it's sincere. What I want is him. I don't care about his wealth."
"This is what worries me. I try to imagine you in the palace of a grand commander with all the power games and the intrigues, and I can't see how you could be happy."
"You and I in the grand commander's palace?" Melissa was in heaven. "Can you really see that happening?"
"I say... of course, I can see that happening."
"Youhou!" Melissa shouted in exultation. She knew the depth of the baphomet's vision. "So he really loves me! Ooooh!" she let herself float on her back and contemplated the huge ceiling, on which an energy field projected the moving image of a night sky with thousands of stars and gigantic clouds of light. "Oooh!" she repeated ecstatically, letting the vision of the field of stars make her mind tipsy.
Pralaya looked at her with a touch of disconcertment. He laughed (in his strange baphomet's way), "I say, where is Melissa the Wise? Look what love is doing to you!"
"Have you never been in love?" she answered through the space because she had water in her ears. "That would surprise me. A spunky little baphomet like you!"
"We're digressing, here!" Pralaya called on Melissa's logical rigour.
"No way, baphomet! The miracle of love, this is what it is all about!"
"I say, there must be a way to be happy, and yet be wise at the same time."
"Wise... wise..." Melissa laughed. "That's the problem with you baphomets, you're always so wise!"
"I know!" Pralaya sighed philosophically. "Even my guru used to say that." And he rolled onto his back, joining Melissa in the contemplation of the magnificent galactic space on the plass ceiling. From time to time, the clouds of coloured dust started whirling, stars rushing in all directions at mind-boggling speed, weird geometrical patterns of infinite complexity flashing in the space of the room. This, according to the architects who had crafted the energy field, was because the images came from the consciousness of the Watchers, the fiery angels who could see through myriads of worlds and dimensions at the same time. In this cosmic jumble the images became so multifarious and perplexing that the giants themselves – despite being the Watchers' descendants – had to close their eyes. And if they persisted and kept watching, they were sometimes taken by fits that made them lose their mind and run about like madmen, destroying everything in their way. As the saying went, when the giants became mad, nothing in the kingdom could stop them.
Melissa and Pralaya were about to close their eyes when the images suddenly disappeared. The field of stars was replaced by a blank ceiling – pale whitish glows exuding from the plass. The atmosphere in the room became flat and empty.
"Another collapse of our energy field?" Pralaya complained.
"I'm afraid so."
"But it's the fifth time in four weeks!"
"Not much we can do about it," Melissa shrugged her shoulders in resignation. "I'll ask Lusec to come and fix it tomorrow morning."
Pralaya was gripped by a wave of anxiety. What if all the fields of the citadel collapsed for good, as many seers – not just baphomets – had predicted?
What if it were tomorrow?
What would become of him and of his kind? The mental powers of the baphomets rested entirely on the fields. "If the fields cark it, then so do we!" a baphomet brother-disciple of his guru had once told him. That was long ago, at a time when no one really believed it could ever happen.
Now the question was no longer whether it would happen, but when. And it scared the Watchers' hell out of the baphomets.
Pralaya had recurrent nightmares of reverting to the state of a silly goat. It was as ugly and terrifying as it was inevitable. It happened slowly. First his supernatural sight lost its sharpness and his intuition was shrouded. A few months later he realised he could no longer read people's time tracks. The giants no longer had the same fascinated glow in their eyes when they looked at him. His mental clarity was obscured. He could no longer guess people's motivation, and whenever he played social games with them, he lost. Gradually, insidiously, he became dotty. But he didn't realise it until months later, during a brief flash, remembering who he had been – Pralaya, the shrewd adviser of Melissa the Wise, the super-gifted baphomet who used to stand by her side during the prophetic readings she gave to the mighty patriarchs of the citadel. Long forgotten were the days when Grand Commander Bexton used to praise his wisdom and listen to his advice before taking any major decision. Now Pralaya was nothing more than a useless wreck. So debilitated, he even pissed on the floor of Melissa's bedroom, like a stupid goat. And he overheard conversations between Melissa and her friends.
"After all, he's just a goat!" her friends said.
"No!" Melissa protested vigorously, "Baphomets are no ordinary goats! Over hundreds of years, they have been bred into one of the most psychic and intelligent of all creatures."
"But that was through the power of the fields," her friends argued. "The fields are gone. Baphomets are nothing more than goats!"
"No! Oh gods, have mercy!" Pralaya tried to scream. "Not that! Not a goat!" But no sounds came out. To his horror, he realised that he no longer could talk. Panic-stricken, he gasped, his mouth open in despair.
He prayed to the Watchers. He called onto the universe. But no sounds came.
The flashes of clarity did not last long. His mind was devoured by the most monstrous of all plagues: oblivion. Lost, he was. There was nothing left of him. He wandered about with an empty look, a stupid goat dropping excrement all through the house, a constant embarrassment to Melissa and her guests. Until the day...
The terrible day.
That day when, out of nowhere, Melissa snuck up on him and stabbed him with a long kitchen knife.
In the back.
Only one stab. A master blow. In his spine. Just below the neck. A spreading red stain in his white fur.
He collapsed on his side on the marble floor with a thud.
The pain was atrocious. Excruciating. Unbearable.
In a last flash, he remembered who he had been. And he shed big wet tears. "Melissa, how could this happen?"
"I love you, Pralaya," Melissa burst into tears. She knelt close to him, horrified at what she had done, and yet immensely relieved that she had finally found the strength to do it. "I'm sorry!" she sobbed, "I couldn't bear to see you like this. I couldn't bear it!"
The breath of life was fast escaping from Pralaya. He spoke slowly, as if from far away. "Thank you Melissa. I say, this was a very sensible thing you did. The right choice, really."
"I am so sorry!" Melissa cried a flood of tears.
"But Melissa, does all this mean I never existed? Was I a complete illusion, nothing more than an abstract construction of the fields?"
Before she could answer, everything became black.
That was the moment Pralaya woke up from his dream.
Back in the room, the ceiling was still ominously blank.
Pralaya tapped the marble floor with his hoof, as if to make sure he was no longer dreaming. He sighed and looked up silently, wondering if there was one power in the creation that would have mercy on him. Not that he had an inflated opinion of himself. Only imbeciles think of themselves as unique. Still, he believed that he and his fellow baphomets were well worth saving. "So many stupid animals will survive the destruction of the fields," he thought, "why couldn't we?"
Perhaps, after all, this was the meaning of the terrible wave of destruction that was about to strike the kingdom. All the good things would be engulfed: the fields, the knowledge, the temples, the works of art... Only barbaric natives and idiotic beasts would be left to populate the new world.
"I bet rats will survive the flood!" the baphomet's eyes narrowed.
Melissa, whose mind was so inflamed that she could not think of anything else but her lover, swam close to Pralaya and whispered into his ear. "Tell me, what have you seen about Bexton?"
"I haven't seen a thing about Bexton," the baphomet answered. "And I am not sure I want to use the sight for this matter."
"Because you're madly in love with him. What if I discovered something terrible? I say, many a baphomet before me was butchered for less than that."
"Pralaya!" Melissa the Wise expressed her indignation in her softest voice. "How can you imagine something like that could ever happen?"
Pralaya didn't answer.
"Please, Pralaya," Melissa insisted. "I love him but I don't want to behave like a fool. I call on your wisdom. Please use your sight. Show me possible scenarios of the future."
Still lying on his back, the baphomet closed his eyes and tapped from his supernatural vision. "Mm... There is something I don't like. And it's happening at this very minute."
"Look!" the baphomet said, and in the space of the room he conjured the image of the citadel's fish market, where a large number of giants were converging for a public meeting.
"It's a great success," Samoan exclaimed when Bobros arrived. "Look at this crowd!"
At least fifteen hundred giants, not one giantess among them, had gathered in the marketplace. Dozens more were arriving by the minute.
"The Watchers are with us!" Bobros grinned with satisfaction, waving at the mob that had been waiting for him.
The assembly of giants gave him nothing short of an ovation.
Bobros the Terrible, as he was often called, let them express their jubilant enthusiasm for a while. Then he raised his arms to silence them. So many people had come that those who stood at the back could not see him. They protested loudly.
Three of Bobros' men went to fetch a huge barrel, ten lawful feet high, from the stall of a sympathiser. They rolled it amidst loud roars of encouragement, and the crowd exulted when the barrel was stood vertical. Lifted up by his men, Bobros stood on top of the barrel. A second ovation rose from the giants.
Despite being only twenty-four, Bobros, son of Bobros, knew how to mesmerise a crowd. He was a superb giant, more than one-and-a-half times the size of a normal man (or 'dwarf', as the giants liked to call those not of Nephilim stock). He was a mountain of muscles with huge hairy hands, even huger feet, and exceptionally sharp black eyes that shone with lightning-like glows coming straight from the sky of the Watchers. From his eyes one could tell he had mastered some of the most dangerous powers of the necromancers of his lineage. The Bobros had been black magicians from generation to generation, ever since the ancient days of Harmag the Necromancer, son of Azazel the Watcher and father of the first Bobros.
"Friends," he started his discourse in a clamorous voice that no one had any difficulty hearing, even those who stood in the last rows, "I have come here today to remind you of the glory of our ancestors, the invincible Watchers!"
The crowd responded to the name of the fiery angels with a deluge of applause. Bobros enthusiastically cheered with them, before again silencing them by raising his arms. "Too many people," he went on, "...too many people in this kingdom tend to forget what the Earth was like before our ancestors the Watchers, led by Azazel and Shemyaza, descended on Mount Hermon. The kingdom, if you could call it a kingdom, was a kingdom of dwarfs – shameless, useless, stupid blobs, hardly capable of dressing and feeding themselves. They spent their days vegetating, hardly talking to each other. They never discovered anything. They never invented anything. They never built anything, apart from sheds and tree houses. And they were so totally hopeless in bed that you wonder how their species managed to survive!" Bobros lifted his fist, his little finger half-erect. And he gave a scornful, pitying look.
As he knew well, the giants delighted in this kind of rhetoric. They clapped their hands, screaming like wild animals, jumping up and down, making the earth shake under them.
"A race of poor, miserable, worthless, contemptible, despicable blobs! Hardly better than animals. Not worth being called human beings, really! Were they?"
"No! No! No! No!..." the giants yelled in one titanic voice.
"Not worth anything at all! Then at last, at last the Watchers descended." Bobros paused to let his audience shout enthusiastically.
"They married the daughters of the sort-of men, and they blessed the kingdom with their Nephilim children. It was the true beginning. The new race was created! The first real men were born!" Bobros raised his voice, "And they were formidable! They were unstoppable! Like you! Like me! Like us!"
The mob of giants demonstrated their approval by raising their fists, pounding the ground with their feet.
"Can you tell me one good thing in this kingdom which did not come from the Nephilim? Without us, there would not be one tool in the kingdom. Without us, there would not be one soft stone in the kingdom. Without us, there would not be one proper energy field in the kingdom. What did the dwarfs do with their fields? Chapels where they could sit and kiss angels' asses, and nothing more! No wonder, mind you, with the kind of food they ate – and which they still eat, by the way. Worse than crap. At least, crap has taste."
The giants laughed, booing their contempt and spitting on the ground.
"The dwarfs, sad to say, haven't changed much. But they tend to forget one thing: We brought civilisation onto the Earth! We made the kingdom what it is!" Bobros paused a few seconds, wondering if the time had come to suggest that none but a giant was fit to occupy the high function of King of Atlantis. But as this amounted to nothing short of a declaration of war on the rest of the kingdom, he decided to wait for a more opportune occasion.
He went on, "In the last years, as you know, there have been great disturbances in the energy fields. Truly, these started many years ago. When I was a child, I remember hearing Bobros, my father, complaining that some of his rituals were being disturbed by new kinds of field distortions never encountered by any of the necromancers of my family until then. But these remained moderate. It is only in the last months that it has become obvious to all of us that there are great perils just ahead of us. These matters are extremely serious. Do you realise what will happen if things are left to follow their course? It's not just the fields that keep you warm in your bathtub that will collapse. It is not just the fields that keep your food from rotting that will collapse. We, Nephilim giants, connect with the consciousness of the Watchers through the fields. We, Nephilim giants, draw our powers from the Watchers through the fields. If the warp of fields collapses, we lose everything. Ev-ery-thing!"
Bobros remained silent for a few seconds, watching the wave of anxiety that ran through the crowd. He clenched his right fist, hit the palm of his left hand and continued in an angry voice, "Here we come to a complete absurdity. We were the first people to manipulate the fields in the kingdom. We taught others to craft soft stones to control the powers of the fields. We developed the most powerful and the most sophisticated fields in the entire kingdom. But when the whole warp of fields is threatened with extinction, what are we doing? Nothing! Nothing at all! We just sit and wait for the disaster, as if it were inevitable. Is that in keeping with our Nephilim spirit? Is that behaving like the sons of the Watchers?"
"Nay!" the giants responded, pulling disgusted faces.
"Do you realise that throughout the kingdom, the dwarfs continue to mess with the fields, creating a terrible tangle through their incompetence? Do you realise that our fields are being polluted by the misguided manipulations the dwarfs perform every day? Do you realise that we are paying a high price for their mistakes? The truth is, the dwarfs should never have been allowed to play with the fields in the first place. They are too stupid!"
"Shall we kill them all?" one of his supporters shouted.
"Why not, after all?" Bobros burst out laughing, and the giants laughed with him.
"What shall we do, Bobros?" a giant asked.
"Yes, Bobros. Tell us what we should do!" the crowd echoed.
Bobros raised his hands to bring silence and declared, "We must regain control over the fields. Full control. Absolute control. And right now! Let Grand Commander Bexton send a communication to the King of Atlantis demanding that throughout the kingdom, all the superintendents of the fields be replaced by our men."
"But that would mean giving us total control over all the temples of the kingdom!" an old giant exclaimed. The plain truth – whoever was in command of the warp of fields would become the new King of Atlantis.
"I don't have a problem with that, grandpa, do you?" Bobros' eyes lit up with a frightening necromantic glow. He stood very straight on his barrel, absorbing the giants' exultant mood with satisfaction.
Judging the time had come to bring his speech to a conclusion, he raised his hands, drew from the powers he had received from his father and projected the Voice onto the crowd. "Are we going to stand here gaping and doing nothing, like helpless cattle waiting for slaughter?"
"No! No!..." the mob was heating up.
"Are we going to waste all the gifts we have received from the Watchers instead of standing up for ourselves?" he raised an enraged fist.
Mounting anger in the crowd, "No! No!..."
"I want you to stand up and be great! Make our ancestors proud!" Bobros made his Voice a huge flame, "I want you to show the world what full-blooded Nephilim are capable of! I want you to accompany me to the house of Lord Vrolon, Superintendent of the Fields under the Appointment of His Supreme Majesty the King of Atlantis, and deliver an unambiguous message to him. I want you to walk with me to the palace of Grand Commander Bexton and demand that a communication be sent to the King of Atlantis – let the fields, which our glorious ancestors taught us to operate, be returned to us!"
"And let the supremacy of the Nephilim be restored! Let us be glorious, and victorious. Glory! Glory! Glory to the Watchers and to their sons!"
A mighty wave of jubilation rose from the crowd. The giants euphonically congratulated each other. They carried Bobros in triumph along the central alley of the marketplace. But as they advanced, their applause gradually turned into screams of rage. They raised menacing fists towards the sky. They jumped up and down, they trampled the earth threateningly. Some started shaking the stalls of the market and breaking jars, while others collected large wooden sticks and all kinds of implements that could be used as maces and weapons. Many didn't need to forage for weapons, they had come to the meeting with their clubs.
In the space of a minute the giants turned into wild, screaming beasts, rushing in all directions, attacking the plass buildings of the fish market.
Melissa, who had been watching the images with a disgusted look on her face, closed her eyes. "Oh, no! Not again!"
"Shall I stop the vision?" Pralaya asked.
Melissa reopened her eyes. "No, I think I prefer to see. Do you think we should warn Bexton?"
"No, no," Pralaya answered quietly. "Some of his men were at the meeting."
It was savage, beastly, insane, and the giants loved it. Using their clubs, their maces and their huge fists, it did not take them long to flatten the entire fish market. Not one living wall was left erect. Every single jar was broken. Every single barrel of oil was crushed. Not one basket of fish was left intact. In the frenzy of destruction, some of the shopkeepers were even seen ransacking their own stalls.
When nothing was left but piles of plass rubble drenched in stinking fish puree, the mob of giants led by Bobros' men ran full-pelt through the streets of the citadel, yelling their fury, stirring up a high cloud of dust. Attracted by the clamour, many more giants joined in. By the time they arrived at the gates of Lord Vrolon's residence, their numbers had doubled.
It was a splendid mansion, built at great cost – the proud emblem of the sovereign authority of His Supreme Majesty the King of Atlantis, of whom Lord Vrolon was the official representative in the citadel of the Nephilim giants. Comprised of three separate wings, the large building was surrounded by exquisitely designed gardens full of rare, ancient trees and precious herbs that exhaled subtle, health-strengthening energies. Dozens of field-gardeners attached to the residence maintained dazzling flowerbeds that shone with a feast of auric colours and spread intoxicating astral fragrances, to the delight of pet filosterops, blue tortoises and rare animals with strange shapes as in the Ancient Days of the Earth. Everywhere one looked, whether inside or outside the mansion, there were statues of the gods wrought with gems and other invaluable works of art. The privacy and tranquillity of the small estate was secured by high walls of rock-solid plass, three lawful feet thick, and the only entrance was a fortified portal made of massive wooden gates, guarded by a small troop of soldiers from the King's army.
When they saw the furious crowd approaching, the soldiers who stood outside the gates immediately called their comrades for help. Like the rest of the small garrison they were normal men, not giants. The army commander, who was positioned on a small platform at the top of the front wall, was so terrified at the sight of the giants that he decided to abandon his men outside rather than running the risk of opening the gates. He called for help, gathering all his men – forty-three of them on the property. And he ordered the gates to be fortified with wooden beams.
The giants encircled the property, making sure none of the dwarfs could escape. Then they started a menacing war dance, shouting in low-pitched voices, "Tremble-tremble-tremble-tremble...!" stamping violently, making the earth quake under their feet.
His Excellency Lord Vrolon, Grand Superintendent of the Fields for the North-East under the Appointment of His Supreme Majesty the King of Atlantis, was sitting behind his huge desk when he heard the giants' ominous growling.
"Oh my Lord Melchisedek! What in the kingdom is that?" he exclaimed, wondering whether he should walk to his balcony. But the elderly man was so obese, and his heart condition so bad, that even standing up was an effort.
One of the crimson-robed officers rushed into his office. "Lord Vrolon... Lord Vrolon... there are hundreds of them! They're completely mad! And you know what they're like when they're mad..."
"Send a message to our garrison in Pentor. We need reinforcements. Immediately!" Vrolon's throat was dry.
"But we can't, Your Excellency! All communication fields have been out of order for three days. They are presently being diligently repaired and if, by the grace of our Lord Melchisedek..."
"Underworld!" Vrolon swore. "Those damn fields will play up with me right until the last moment!" From his pocket he grabbed a soft stone, a present from his young fiancee. It was a state-of-the-art communication device crafted by the kingdom-famous stone makers of the temple of Verzazyel, in the distant county of the Snowy Mountains. But when Vrolon tried to activate the soft stone to send an emergency message through darkness visible, the space remained silent.
"The Lord Melchisedek have mercy on us!" Lord Vrolon whispered, wiping thick beads of toxic sweat from his brow.
Meanwhile, Bobros had arrived at the gates.
The giants stopped their foreboding war dance. An ominous silence dawned on the place.
Bobros took on a calm, ceremonial voice, "I have come to deliver a message to Lord Vrolon, Grand Superintendent of the Fields under the Appointment of His Supreme Majesty the King of Atlantis. Open the gates and lead me to him!"
The guard, even though tall, was at least four heads shorter than Bobros. He looked up at him in terror.
"Open the gates!" Bobros projected the Voice onto him.
Compelled by the power of the necromancer's Voice, the guard turned to his commander who was still standing on top of the wall, and repeated the order, "Open the gates!"
"No way, man of the Law!" the officer replied. "If you have a message, give it to me. I will deliver it to His Excellency Lord Vrolon, Grand Superintendent of..."
"How dare you?" furious Bobros interrupted him. Locking his gaze into him, he projected a massive shower of venom into his head.
The officer instantly fell off the platform. His soldiers had to dodge aside as he collapsed on the dusty ground with a thud.
"Open the gates!" Bobros repeated, this time in a cool, nonchalant voice.
One of the crimson-robed soldiers, his face contorted in panic, shouted to his comrades who stood behind the walls, "For the Lord Melchisedek's sake, open the gates!"
There was no reply.
Bobros shrugged his shoulders and turned back. "Well, then... open the gates!" he told the giants, with a calm smile on his lips.
The order triggered a new wave of madness. The giants all started screaming. They rushed against the gates and attacked the walls. In ten seconds the guards had been crushed to death. A few groups of giants went to fetch the trunks of large poplar trees from nearby streets. It was easy. They stood on each side of a tree and they pushed alternately, shaking the trunk until the roots gave in amidst ugly cracks. But even before the improvised battering rams were brought back, the gates had already crumbled under the fury of the mob. Meanwhile on the southern side of the property one of the plass walls was collapsing.
The hordes of giants rushed in. They used their clubs, their bare hands and their teeth. They massacred the dwarf-soldiers and the gardeners. Every single tree in the garden was knocked down. The statues were reduced to rubble, the flowerbeds trampled, the bushes uprooted. The pet filosterops, the tortoises and the rare animals were eaten alive. Downstairs in the house, having slaughtered the servants and broken every single piece of furniture, the giants started attacking the living walls.
Bobros and his men went straight to the superintendent's office. When they arrived at the top of the majestic staircase, with a gesture of his hand Bobros ordered them to remain calm. To make them laugh, he went and stood in front of the door and gave three delicate knocks. "Would Lord Vrolon, by the grace of our Lord Melchisedek, happen to be here, please?" he asked in a distinguished voice. But the tumult in the mansion was so loud that he had to repeat his question, this time shouting.
On the other side, a young army officer was desperately trying to fortify the door, using Lord Vrolon's desk. "What d'you want?" he shouted back.
"I should like to speak to His Excellency, by the grace of our Lord Melchisedek."
"On whose authority do you come?" the officer asked shakily.
Bobros the Terrible lost patience. Looking at his friends, he clicked his fingers and pointed his thumb at the door.
Fifteen seconds later the door was flattened, Lord Vrolon's desk under it, and the army officer crushed to death under the pile.
Lord Vrolon was still sitting in his armchair. Rendered bold by the imminence of his death, he looked straight into Bobros' eyes. "Provoke the anger of the King of Atlantis at your own risk, giant!" he exclaimed defiantly.
"Are you threatening me, piglet?" Bobros smiled with contempt, pointing a menacing finger at Lord Vrolon's enormous heap of fat. He saw the soft stone the superintendent was holding in his left hand. Fearing it was a weapon, he immediately swamped Lord Vrolon with a massive dose of red venom.
The pain was horrendous. Lord Vrolon gasped. The soft stone, which the beautiful Felicia, high priestess of Verzazyel, had given him a few months earlier, fell from his hand.
Laughing sardonically, Bobros walked slowly toward Lord Vrolon. He grasped his head with his two huge, hairy hands, and finished him off with a lethal shower of black venom while thrusting his thumbs deep into his eye sockets. Holding onto the head, Bobros lifted Lord Vrolon's grossly obese body as if it was nothing more than an empty crimson bag. He carried it to the balcony and brandished it in front of the crowd.
Throughout the property, the giants, heated by the smell and taste of blood, celebrated their easy victory with a titanic clamour. They ran to the front of the mansion to acclaim Bobros.
Standing on the balcony, the young giant used his necromantic powers. Resting on the frenetic vibrations that came from the crowd, he called on the Watchers, bringing down a reflection of their supermental presence onto himself.
A strange glow appeared around Bobros' aura.
The crowd was silenced by the extraordinarily fast-moving, eerie energy of the Watchers.
Like most encounters with the Watchers, it was brief but devastatingly intense. Unforgettable. An aeon condensed into a second, a whirling myriad of worlds cognised in the twinkling of an eye, the cacophonic revelation of multidimensional abstract unrealities coiled into one hyper-real dot. Time moving upside down and back to front, running after the Watchers' light-speed train of thoughts without ever catching it. The universe realising itself as a perplexed mental form – but whose? – and spreading all over the place – but why? – then condensing into a point again without having had time to ask what's the point. More and more universes spawning from the sourceless source – but why? – and becoming strangers, especially to themselves. The cosmic cycle that seemed to be completed had already started again while much, much greater things were happening concomitantly – things that can only be known through living mathematical formulae that worm their way through to infinity, but so fast that you never have the time to ask if there is anyone there.
As quickly as it had come, the supermental presence vanished.
It left the giants stunned. Their complete silence contrasted with the rampaging noise coming from inside the mansion, where many giants were so busy demolishing everything that they had missed the Watchers' descent.
Bobros, who was still holding the corpse of Lord Vrolon by the head, his thumbs thrust deep inside the old man's eye sockets, contemplated the blood running down his arm. "Who wants the piglet?" he shouted to the crowd. For the giants believed that eating the body of a defeated enemy was a way of stealing his power – especially the kidneys and their tasty tops, and the brain, the liver and the heart.
"Me! Me!..." Woken from the supermind-boggling flash of Watcher-ness by the prospect of a cannibalistic feast, the giants responded with child-like excitement, jumping up and down.
"Let the victory be yours!" Bobros threw the superintendent's body off the balcony. His men then brought the bloody remnants of the young army officer who had been mashed under the door. His body was also tossed to the crowd.
Like hungry dogs, the giants rushed onto the corpses. They didn't bother peeling off the crimson robes. Those who could come close enough just bit into whatever they could grab, and it was left to chance as to who inherited the kidneys and other tidbit. The giants who were further away from the balcony satisfied themselves with the bodies of the other soldiers. In the elated madness, the crowd also attacked the corpses of the gardeners – not to steal their strength but just for fun, so as not to be left out of the feast.
On the balcony, Bobros was watching the ritual orgy with an affectionate smile on his face when one of his men came to whisper in his ear, "Nearly all the walls of the mansion have been demolished! We'd better get out of here before everything collapses!"
As he was speaking, there were ominous cracking sounds.
Bobros and his acolytes were seen hastily jumping off the balcony, while all the other giants still inside the building were running out at full speed. Just in time. The last two walls still erect were yielding under the roof's pressure.
In a matter of seconds, that which used to be the pride of the King's architects was reduced to rubble, to the wild delight of the mob.
"Shall we take them to the grand commander's palace now?" Samoan asked Bobros.
"Give them a little longer. Let them finish eating the dwarfs," Bobros answered, putting one of his bloody thumbs in his mouth and licking it, contemplating the carnage going on around them. "We want them to be in a high mood, don't we? Feasting on dwarf meat will warm up their spirits."
"We should have left one of them alive, so he could report to the King's palace," Samoan sighed thoughtfully.
"Don't worry, the King will soon hear from us. Come on, let's gather our men outside."
A few minutes later, when every giant had had his share of raw flesh, Bobros gave the signal, "To the palace of the grand commander! And Glory! Glory! Glory to the Watchers and their sons!"
Grand Commander Bexton, who had been warned by his police, was standing on a high balcony when he heard and saw the furious swarm rushing towards his palace. He remained very calm as he had throughout his life, even when faced with the most difficult circumstances. In his fifteen years as leader of the citadel, there had occasionally been waves of civil unrest. The giants were hot-blooded, they enjoyed the sport of destroying part of their own city from time to time. Especially the smelly fish market, which had been purposely built (and regularly rebuilt) with lightweight materials. But never before during his years as grand commander had a crowd dared to march against his palace.
Two thousand soldiers formed a thick line of defence. And these were no dwarf-soldiers of the army of the King of Atlantis, but giants of the third battalion of the Green Guard, a small army of its own, famous throughout the kingdom for being one of the most formidable fighting forces of all times. Against their deadly venom-fields and Point-weapons, the angry mob armed with only clubs and maces didn't stand a chance.
Or did they? Bexton wondered. Many among the giants knew how to manifest the strange and frightening powers of the Watchers' sky. And the crowd was led by Bobros, the prestigious sorcerer who, two years earlier, at the age of only twenty-two, had won all the magic contests of the guild of Nephilim necromancers, subsequently becoming their leader.
What if Bobros and his men were powerful enough to neutralise the Point-weapons of the Green Guard?
Then anything could happen.
And what if the Green Guard refused to fight against their fellow-giants? That was unlikely. The soldiers were remarkably well disciplined. Still, they had very rarely clashed with their own kind. Grinding his teeth, Bexton watched the crowd gathering in Proclamation Square, so called because the inhabitants of the citadel assembled there once a year to hear their grand commander deliver a speech inspired by the Watchers. Bexton hated to imagine the carnage that would ensue if the situation degenerated.
When they saw their grand commander standing on the royal balcony, towering more than fifty lawful feet above ground level, the crowd of giants became silent. They stayed a few lawful feet from the rows of guards, waiting for Bobros.
Standing in the first row of soldiers were Fornan and his son Basalinger, the two generals who commanded the elite battalions of the Green Guard. Fornan was an old giant whose face was so wrinkled that his men affectionately called him 'Fornan the crocodile'. He was standing underneath the royal balcony. Using the power of the Point, he communicated with his son, who was posted outside the southern wing of the palace, some six hundred lawful feet away from him. "They are at least twice as many as we are!"
"Don't worry," Basalinger Point-answered, "Bobros has given me his necromancer's word he won't do more than deliver his message. He promised he would keep the crowd quiet."
"But look at their eyes. They've been showered with Watcher's venom. They're wild! All this could get completely out of control."
A lucid assessment of the situation. By nature the giants were highly unpredictable. But when their brains were overheated by Watcher's venom, then really anything was possible. As they said themselves with undisguised pride, 'When the Nephilim giants become mad, their madness knows no limits.' Bobros, even though a master in the necromantic art of crowd control, knew very well he was playing a dangerous game. But from the omens he had perceived, he believed his time had come and the Watchers were with him.
When he arrived at Proclamation Square the crowd opened a corridor to let him walk towards the royal balcony. Followed by his men he advanced slowly, looking straight in front of him.
"Strange beast!" Fornan the crocodile said to himself, watching the plethora of complex geometrical shapes that shone in Bobros' aura – an unmistakable token of a high initiate of the mysteries of the Watchers.
On the royal balcony Bexton was also contemplating the strange lights that emanated from Bobros. "No wonder he fascinates the crowds!" he thought. And he drew a long breath, getting ready to fight one of the decisive battles of his life.
Bobros stopped a few lawful feet from General Fornan. The two men looked at each other silently for a few seconds. Then Fornan asked in a loud, ceremonial voice, "Bobros, son of Bobros, why have you come here?"
Bobros answered in a no-less-ceremonial tone, "Inspired by the high consciousness of the Watchers, I have come to deliver a message to His Excellency Bexton, Grand Commander of the citadel."
"Speak, Bobros!" Bexton called from the royal platform. "I am listening."
A heavy silence followed.
The crowd had witnessed the descent of the light of Watcher-ness on Bobros. They were now convinced he was an inspired representative of their angelic ancestors. Was it the fiery Shemyaza that spoke through him? Or perhaps Azazel himself?
Bobros, as protocol dictated, bent his head with reverence before addressing the leader of the citadel. Then he looked up. Following etiquette, he fixed his gaze on the sovereign's feet. "Your Excellency, we, of the guild of Nephilim necromancers, believe that the time has come to demand from His Supreme Majesty the King of Atlantis that the control of all energy fields be returned to the Nephilim people. I therefore bring you a petition, asking that a message be sent to the King's palace immediately, requesting that in each province in the kingdom, the grand superintendent of the fields be replaced by one of the necromancers of my guild."
Bexton could hardly believe his ears. Never before in the fifty-two years of his wretched life had he heard anything so absurd. Total war against all the other provinces of the kingdom, was that what the necromancers of the guild had in mind? Not wanting to inflame the anger of the crowd, Bexton carefully refrained from dismissing the young fool. "Thank you for bringing the guild's petition, Bobros, son of Bobros," he replied in a calm voice. "I shall consider your request and inform you of my decision in the lawful near future."
Bobros wasn't going to give up so easily. His eyes still directed towards Bexton's feet, he insisted, "Your Excellency, the guild of necromancers wishes to draw your attention to the extreme gravity of the present situation regarding the energy fields. Unless immediate action is taken, a global breakdown of the entire warp of fields could take place any day. I do not need to tell you how dramatic the consequences would be for all Nephilim people, whose precious link to their ancestors the Watchers relies on the fields."
"Why does this arrogant bastard need to bring four thousand people under my balcony to tell me that?" Bexton thought. But he betrayed no sign of anger. "Your grand commander is well aware of the condition of the warp of fields in the kingdom, and he has taken all required measures to ensure the welfare of his people," he answered in a quiet, paternalistic tone of voice.
Bobros raised his voice, "Which measures, Your Excellency?"
Bexton became pale. In his fifteen years of leadership, never had anyone dared reply to him in this way.
Whispers ran through the crowd.
Fornan the crocodile hardened his look, ready to order the onslaught. But Basalinger Point-called him, "We remain quiet, father! We remain quiet!"
Swallowing his anger, Bexton simply repeated, "All required measures."
"Your Excellency," Bobros further raised his voice, "in these extraordinary times when the Nephilim people are on the brink of total disaster, we, necromancers of the guild, believe we have the right to know exactly what is being done by you."
This insolence went far beyond the limits of the tolerable. Seeing that the confrontation was becoming unavoidable, General Fornan started giving instructions to his officers. On the other side, Bobros' men, who were spread among the crowd, established a token-ring of Point-connection, ready to unleash the deadly secret powers of the guild and swamp the Green Guard with a formidable shower of venom.
Bexton decided to make a last attempt to avoid the massacre. Raising his hands, he addressed the crowd, "Good people of the citadel, since I have been your leader, you have enjoyed one of the most precious of all things – peace! As a result of years of my patient work, you are now in a situation where you do not have to fear any enemies. And why? Because you have no enemies. All our neighbours have signed treaties with us. And this is why not one of you has had to leave his wife and family to go to war. Not one of you has had to cry about the premature death of his children. Instead of wasting our energies waging wars in distant lands, we have built a prosperous nation for ourselves. Never before have we been so rich! Throughout the kingdom, people envy the Eastern Peninsula – not just because of our brilliant origins, but also for our culture and our wealth. Why would we want to destroy all this by declaring war on the rest of the world? Let the dogs of war bark! Listen to the voice of wisdom!"
It was a beautiful discourse spoken in warm near-Voice thresholds, and with sincere enthusiasm. But was it really the right language to galvanise a venomous rabble heated by the taste of raw human flesh? The giants were not in the mood to hear about peace. They wanted more blood.
"Your Excellency, peace is certainly a beautiful thing," Bobros replied with a touch of cynicism that resonated with the pack, and he paused. "There is just one problem with your peace. It is going to kill us all!"
"He is going too far!" Fornan angrily Point-called his son. "If you can communicate with his men, tell them to piss off, fast! Or I blast the Watchers' hell out of their brains."
"Wait, father!" Basalinger Point-pleaded, "For the sake of Naamah's boobs, wait!"
On the royal balcony, Bexton was trembling with rage.
That did not stop Bobros. "If we keep waiting peacefully for the disaster, then the disaster will come. Ineluctably. And it will kill us all! Are we going to let..."
"Bobros!" Bexton interrupted him. "I give you five minutes to disperse."
A mixture of excitement and anxiety ran through the crowd.
Holding onto their clubs, the giants waited for Bobros' order to go on the rampage.
Facing them, the soldiers were ready to detonate their weapons.
Still gazing at Bexton's feet, Bobros drew from his powers and projected with the Voice, "Your Excellency, for the last time, I ask you to respond favourably to the petition of the guild and send our message to the King."
"Five minutes, Bobros!" the words fell like a sentence.
Raising his eyes, Bobros looked straight into the grand commander's eyes. He projected the Voice, "Well, then, Bexton, I challenge you!"
"What's this Ugly Underworld of a nonsense?" Fornan Point-called his son in fury. "Did you know this was going to happen?"
"I had no idea, father!" Basalinger Point-replied from the other end of the line of soldiers.
Bexton was taken completely by surprise. "A challenge?"
According to the Law of the Nephilim, a giant of noble birth had the right to challenge a grand commander, provided he was backed by at least twenty patriarchs and five hundred citizens of the citadel. Using their psychic powers and their bare hands, the grand commander and the challenger were to fight to the death in a duel of magic. The one who survived inherited the kingdom of the Eastern Peninsula. It was an ancient barbaric custom that had not been used for at least two hundred years. The reason was simple: it was the grand commander's prerogative to be backed by all his court sorcerers, while the challenger was to fight on his own. There were traditionally forty-nine court sorcerers, recruited from the most powerful teachers of the Law of the Watchers. Bobros was mad, but not mad enough to dare face the combined venom of forty-nine top-level Nephilim wizards! Through their spells they could not only kill a man, but also damage his soul so badly that almost nothing was left of him, just an astral flicker, good only for spending an aeon reincarnating among grubs and earth worms.
Who the Far and Ugly Underworld did Bobros think he was to challenge so much power?
Flabbergasted, Fornan the crocodile looked at the young giant in disbelief. "Does he really mean what he says?' he Point-questioned his son.
Basalinger held his breath, dumbfounded.
"Yes, Bexton, a challenge!" Bobros shouted. "A perfectly legal challenge, supported by fifty of the most respected patriarchs of our citadel."
To back his words, fifty of the giants who stood in the first rows raised their fists.
Bobros had spoken the truth. These were men of renown, wealthy and influential members of the Nephilim community. When he recognised them, Fornan was astounded. "What are they doing in that mob?" he wondered.
Suddenly, the messy demonstration was taking on the air of a well-prepared coup d'etat.
This time, it was Fornan's turn to Point-direct his son, "Tell your men to remain very quiet! There is no way in the seven spheres we're going to start a civil war. We watch and do nothing!"
"And what if Bexton orders us to attack?"
"You take your orders from me and from no one else!" General Fornan Point-yelled at his son. "Understood?"
"Now, Grand Commander Bexton," Bobros continued, "as to the five hundred citizens who are required to support my plea..." The necromancer turned around and, calling on the Watchers, he shouted at the crowd, "Those who are with me, raise your fists!"
This was the kind of language the giants liked.
Proclamation Square turned into a sea of angry fists pointed at the sky.
Bobros defiantly stared at Bexton. "As challenger, I am legally entitled to choose the time and the place. It will be here, Bexton. Tomorrow at dawn!"
Pale with rage, Bexton retorted in a menacing voice, "Disperse, Bobros! Or else..."
Bobros smiled with irony, "Your Excellency, as long as you are the grand commander, I would hate to go against your orders!"
Later on that afternoon, Melissa the Wise, clad in her most beautiful white dress, was sitting with her baphomet in the small room where she gave her readings when she received a warning signal through darkness visible. She quickly pulled herself out of the deep space of vision in which she and Pralaya had been immersed for hours, seeking help for Bexton.
"Oh! Oh! Guess who is outside the door!" Pralaya exclaimed.
"Bobros!" Melissa turned pale. "How come we didn't feel him arriving?"
Three loud knocks resounded at the door of the house.
Terrified, Melissa was trying to think straight. "Shall we call for help?"
The baphomet closed his eyes, Point-scanning the space. "Don't waste your time, they've completely isolated the house. All the fields of Point-communication have been interrupted. And we can't escape through the back. Six of his men have taken position at the rear door."
Three more knocks were heard.
"Oh, Watchers! What shall we do?" a shiver ran along Melissa's spine. "Pralaya..." She wrung her hands, the images of the carnage carried out by Bobros and his men still fresh in her mind. In panic, she ran to a cupboard where she kept a soft-stone weapon.
"Don't even think of using that!" the baphomet warned her. "It won't work against them, it will only make them furious."
Not listening to him, Melissa grabbed the soft stone and thrust it into her dress pocket. "How many are they?"
"At least twenty-five. Perhaps more."
Three louder knocks resounded.
"But how could they break into the enclave of the patriarchs?" With its high surrounding walls and its streets constantly patrolled by the Green Guard, the enclave of the patriarchs was the safest and most secluded part of the citadel. Only giants of higher castes were allowed in.
His eyes still closed, Pralaya was desperately trying to break through the energy shield that Bobros' men had established around the house.
"What do we do?" Melissa contracted all the muscles of her legs to stop trembling. It worked, until a volley of loud bangs nearly knocked down the door.
"I say, open the door," Pralaya said.
"I'll come with you," the baphomet said bravely. And as Melissa didn't move, he pushed her legs with his head, "Come!"
As soon as they started walking towards the door, the banging stopped.
"They can feel we're coming!" Melissa shuddered, holding onto the soft stone in her pocket.
Pralaya rubbed his fur against her legs to try to reassure her a little, or perhaps to reassure himself. It seemed to take an eternity to walk the corridor that led to the door. Everything had become so silent that when they finally arrived at the entrance hall, Melissa ventured to ask, "D'you think they've gone?" It was absurd. She could feel the presence on the other side of the door.
As if to answer her, three more knocks sounded. Three gentle knocks. Nothing like the wild bangs of the last minutes.
"Open!" the baphomet urged.
Melissa put her hand on her mouth hesitating. Then without thinking she pulled the door open all at once.
She found herself face to face with Bobros.
He stood in the doorway, massive and grounded like an Underworld mountain.
Melissa's eyes were caught by his exaggeratedly thick lips, his wide square jaw, his hairy neck so bulky that the collar of his shirt had to be left open.
None of his men were with him.
"Melissa the Wise?" Bobros asked in a respectful voice.
Melissa was so frozen with fear that Pralaya decided to answer for her. "Yes."
"And her wise baphomet!" Bobros turned to Pralaya and saluted him with a nod.
Pralaya, who always observed people's eyes, was struck by the exceptional intensity of his gaze.
Bobros gave a polite smile, "May I come in and speak to you for a moment?"
"Yes," Pralaya answered. And as Melissa wasn't budging, he added, "Come in."
Bobros waited patiently for Melissa to move aside. Then he walked in with an amused but extremely courteous smile on his face.
As he began walking down the corridor, Melissa quickly glanced outside. No one in sight. She promptly closed the door, and for one second was tempted to detonate her soft-stone weapon.
"Don't be a fool!" Pralaya Point-told her off. "Come!" And he started following Bobros, who went straight to their lounge.
Melissa followed Pralaya mechanically.
When he saw the large room with the pool and the many works of art Melissa had collected over the years, Bobros nodded in admiration, "Congratulations, Melissa. A fine place you have here!" Looking up, he saw the blank ceiling where the field had collapsed. "Ah," he commented in an annoyed tone, "these fields that break down all the time!"
He closed his eyes for a few seconds, gearing his energy into the collapsed field.
"What's he doing?" Melissa Point-asked Pralaya.
"No idea!" the baphomet shook his head.
Bobros reopened his eyes, a triumphant child-like look on his face. "All fixed!" he clicked his fingers.
Stunned, Melissa and Pralaya looked up. The field of stars had reappeared on the ceiling.
How could he possibly have fixed it so fast? Last time the field had broken down, it had taken Lusec and his men nearly two days to repair it.
"Don't thank me, it's my pleasure!" Bobros joked. "Do you mind if I sit down?"
Still holding the deadly weapon in her pocket, Melissa looked at him silently.
"Not at all. Please do," the baphomet answered in a neutral voice. Meanwhile, he Point-shouted at Melissa, "Take your hand out of your pocket, or you're going to have us both killed!"
Melissa obeyed him.
"Thank you!" the young giant gave them another exquisitely polite smile. If she hadn't seen the horrendous carnage that had taken place that morning, the scenes of cold-blooded murder and cannibalism, and the furious crowd running through the streets of the citadel, Melissa would have found it difficult to believe that the man who was sitting on her cushions was Bobros the Terrible. He looked so affable and obliging.
"Aren't you going to sit down?" Bobros inquired.
"But certainly!" the baphomet sat on his hind legs, keeping his forelegs straight and looking into Bobros' eyes.
"I see I have a supporter in this house!" Bobros exclaimed.
Standing very straight, Melissa frowned in outrage.
"No, I don't mean because he's being so polite. If he is polite it's only because he is trying to protect you, Melissa the Wise," Bobros kept smiling. "What I mean is, all the baphomets of the Eastern Peninsula are my supporters. And you know very well why, don't you?" he winked at the baphomet. "If the fields cark it then so do you baphomets! You know I am your last chance."
Pralaya remained impassive. "Will you tell us the purpose of your visit, Bobros?" he asked the giant, partly because he was afraid Melissa would flare with anger and say something stupid.
"Certainly. I have come to deliver a message for Bexton. I know he will come to visit you later on this evening. I have been told there is no one more likely than the two of you to bring him to reason. Now that I meet you, I understand why," he said in a voice that sounded perfectly sincere. "I must say, I envy Bexton for having beautiful and devoted friends like you. And so perceptive!" he added with a touch of irony. He had no difficulty detecting all the baphomet's tricks Pralaya was using to try to read his mind.
"And your message, Bobros?" Pralaya asked, not in the least embarrassed at having been caught Point-sniffing.
"My message is simple. Explain to Bexton that I have nothing against him. Tomorrow morning, I will take control of the state. But this does not have to take the form of an ugly challenge – a challenge in which he does not stand a chance, by the way. The entire guild of Nephilim necromancers is behind me. Not one of Bexton's court sorcerers will dare to intervene. And I'm afraid, despite his many qualities, our grand commander is no match for Bobros the necromancer. It will take less than five minutes before I am declared victorious. After that, I won't have any choice but to kill Bexton."
Melissa was filled with outrage, "What have you come to offer?"
Bobros looked at her gently, as if to thank her for speaking to him. "Let him rally to me! There is a perfectly lawful and respectable way of doing this: let him declare me his successor. Tonight. And I will make him one of my ministers. Tell him I have a great respect for his political talents. He is a brilliant statesman, isn't he?"
Pralaya and Melissa remained grim.
"In the great war which is going to take place, ineluctably," Bobros emphasized this last word, "every single Nephilim man will be precious. I sincerely believe Bexton is too valuable to be wasted. I want him to work with me. This is my message."
"Were Grand Commander Bexton willing to communicate with you, is there..." Pralaya started asking.
"No!" Bobros cut through Pralaya's words. "No negotiations. If Bexton wants to accept my offer, let him declare me the new grand commander tonight. I give him until midnight." And he became silent, contemplating the moving fields of stars on the ceiling.
"We shall certainly transmit your message to Grand Commander Bexton," Pralaya said after a short while. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes," Bobros fixed his fiery gaze on the baphomet, then on Melissa. "Please stop looking at me as if I were your enemy. I am not your enemy! All I want is to secure a future for our people. A world in which the seed of the Watchers can flourish. Not a chaos in which all of us will have perished in vain, and baphomets will have reverted to goats. If we want to survive, we must take action. Radical action. And fast! This is exactly what I am doing. If we just sit and wait, we are lost. A hundred years from now, there won't be one community of giants left on the face of the Earth. Wise people like you know perfectly well that what I am saying is the truth."
Bobros kept eye contact with Melissa, hoping she would soften.
She remained like stone.
"Thank you for listening to me," he finally said, and he stood up. "Now, if you don't mind, I must take leave. Not that I don't enjoy your company, but... the Watchers are waiting!"
He walked back to the entrance hall, Pralaya and Melissa behind him.
Following the custom, Bobros waited politely for Melissa to open the door. Then he gave her and the baphomet a last smile, and he walked out.
Trembling, Melissa remained in the doorway for a moment, incapable of speaking or moving. Then she slammed the door, dropped on the floor, took Pralaya in her arms and held him tight. Sobbing, she let fall a flow of tears into his white, white fur.
"Melissa! Melissa!" the baphomet exclaimed. "I made a discovery. While scanning his energy, I found something that could change everything!"
"Guess who's outside the door?" Pralaya mimicked the voice he had used earlier to announce Bobros' visit.
"It's not funny!" Melissa shouted at him, and she ran into the entrance hall.
"Isn't it?" the baphomet gave a lazy smile, stretching his body luxuriously. He quickly licked his white fur here and there to make himself more presentable. Then he stood up very straight on his four legs and took on a dignified, ceremonial attitude while scanning the space around the house. There were soldiers of the Green Guard everywhere. After Bobros left Melissa had immediately called Bexton, and within minutes the Green guards arrived at the house. They were soon followed by hordes of Field Wizards. "Don't waste your time!" Pralaya had tried to tell them. He knew very well that Bobros was far too intelligent to leave a spying device behind. But they didn't listen. Only after every single field in the house had been probed were the men satisfied the place was safe. Ready for Bexton's visit.
Grand Commander Bexton soon made his entry into the lounge, holding Melissa's arm. His energy was tense, he looked tired. Pralaya immediately noticed two new wrinkles on his high forehead. But that did not take anything away from the superb charismatic aura that enhanced his handsome aristocratic face.
"Here is our great baphomet!" Bexton exclaimed.
Pralaya bent his head reverently, "At your service, Your Excellency."
"Pralaya, I am very proud of you. I shall have a pink ribbon bestowed on you for your brave behaviour and the outstanding service you have rendered," Bexton declared, utterly impressed with the way the baphomet had handled the situation.
"A pink ribbon!" Pralaya told himself, bending his head a little lower. "That is no Watcher's pooh!" (a traditional Nephilim saying which referred to the fact that the fiery angels never went to the toilet). And he wondered how the Watchers' hell he would manage to attach the ribbon to his white fur.
Melissa, her shining eyes still red from the tears she had shed, invited Bexton to sit on a pile of cushions by the side of the pool. She sat in front of him and lightly touched his hand. She didn't feel like talking. She just wanted to drink his presence.
Bexton looked deep into her eyes but partly kept his stately attitude, as he usually did when Pralaya was in the room.
"He really loves her!" the baphomet thought, watching the gradual softening of Bexton's face. Each time the grand commander spent time with Melissa, his heart opened. It made him shine. And Melissa became genuinely wiser – baphomet's word! – and more profound, her blonde energy ripening like a field of wheat under the Sun. "What a shame they go together so well!" Pralaya Point-mumbled to himself.
"I don't have much time," Bexton said.
"You should have let us come to you!" Melissa gently caressed the tips of his fingers.
"It does me a lot of good to leave the palace! And the enclave of the patriarchs is only five minutes from my office in the tower of Akibel. It takes me less time to come here than to go from one end of the palace to the other! I wonder how that devil managed to find his way here. What do you think, Pralaya?"
At Melissa's invitation, Pralaya slowly trotted over to them. "The fact that fifty patriarchs have supported his challenge might have something to do with it," he answered, and he went to sit by Melissa's side as he always did when she gave a prophetic reading.
Bexton nodded thoughtfully, then he started asking Melissa more questions about Bobros' visit.
When Melissa finished telling the story again, Bexton sneered, "Me, abdicate for that lunatic? The necromancers of the guild have gone off their brains! That's the problem with this band of fanatics, they're mad. Completely mad. You have no idea what their plans are!" Bexton looked up to the starry ceiling. "They want to conquer the entire kingdom. Talk about radical solutions! To secure their supremacy over the fields, they have set their mind on destroying every single temple in the kingdom. They want a 'new Nephilim order', in which only Nephilim giants would live on Earth. In other words, they plan nothing less than slaughtering the entire non-Nephilim male population, while raping every single female to repopulate their new world. And they believe this to be the will of the Watchers! They even believe that if they succeed, the Watchers will descend on Mount Hermon a second time."
Melissa shook her head in horror, "Do they really want to massacre the entire non-Nephilim population of the kingdom?"
"Absolutely! And right now! If Bobros were to win the challenge against me, the first armies of giants would leave the citadel in a matter of weeks. We must stop them immediately, the situation could get completely out of control. But luckily for us – and for the rest of the world! – Bobros does not stand a chance tomorrow morning."
Melissa was concerned, "Bobros seemed very confident when he maintained that your court sorcerers would rally behind him."
"There is not one feather of truth in that bag! A complete fabrication, as will become only too clear tomorrow morning, when I leave him flat dead on the podium," he added with all the weight of his authority to reassure her. "What about this information Pralaya discovered?"
"During the 'visit', Pralaya used his skills to scan Bobros," Melissa explained. "He found something that could prove very precious to you."
"Mm..." Even though he had a great opinion of Pralaya, Bexton found it difficult to imagine Bobros the Terrible letting himself be scanned. Still, he listened with interest.
Pralaya preferred to let Melissa describe what he had seen.
"Bobros' grandfather – his name was Bobros, of course – used to live in the Centre North, in Eisraim. He had discovered a valley once occupied and bewitched by Harmag, son of Azazel. As it came to happen, that Bobros wreaked havoc in the county of Eisraim, until he was challenged by the non-Nephilim monks of the Brown Robe. Believe it or not, Bobros took a beating. Even though he was backed by all the forces Harmag had left in the valley, the Brown Robes got rid of him in less than a day."
"Did they kill him?"
"They did. Expectably, his son (who was the father of 'our' Bobros) swore revenge. He never had the opportunity to travel to Eisraim, but on his deathbed he made his son give his necromancer's word that the Brown Robes' temple – the temple of Eisraim, as it is called – would be destroyed. Ever since then, Bobros the Terrible has been engaged in secret workings against that temple. He intends to ransack it himself."
"And so?" Bexton seemed only moderately interested. Anyhow, hadn't Bobros decided to ransack all the temples of the kingdom? What was so special about Eisraim?
"And so we start with a personal grudge between Bobros the Terrible and the monks of the Brown Robe," Melissa continued. "Then Pralaya discovers one crucial fact, and this is where the story becomes much more interesting: it would seem that the Brown Robes are none other than the Masters of Thunder. This would explain how they got rid of Bobros' grandfather so easily."
"The Masters of Thunder?" Grand Commander Bexton found the story far-fetched. "I thought they were only a legend."
"Oh, no," Pralaya replied in a calm voice. "I say, not a legend!"
"Watch this! It was called the clearing of Erriba. It happened thirty-eight years ago." In the space of the room, Melissa conjured the image of an assembly of Brown Robe priests. They formed two long rows, facing each other, and delineating a corridor of extraordinarily charged energies. At one end of the corridor, a fire had been lit, and a huge obelisk of light sprang from it.
"Impressive," Bexton commented when he saw the massive clearing. "And what has all this got to do with us now?"
"Simple!" Melissa discontinued the vision. "Pralaya and I believe that an alliance could be formed with the Masters of Thunder to eliminate Bobros and his guild."
"Making an alliance with a non-Nephilim order against people of our own citadel?" Bexton immediately hated the idea.
"These Brown Robes are very wise people," Pralaya intervened. "In the last hours, I have carefully scanned a number of records concerning them and their activities in the temples of Eisraim and Lasseera. I believe we can trust them. They could be precious to us in these difficult times."
"Have you contacted them already?" Bexton asked suspiciously.
"No," Pralaya lied, as he and Master Gervin had agreed to keep their preliminary Point-conversation a complete secret. It had been a most cordial and informative exchange, at the end of which Gervin had even invited Pralaya to come and visit him in Eisraim.
"Mm... To tell you the truth," Bexton contemplated the ceiling, "I can't see why we should seek help from non-Nephilim people in distant counties when our citadel is teeming with magicians, Field Wizards and necromancers. And who says we need help, anyway? This Bobros is a fraud."
Melissa did not insist. She too looked up to the starry field, wondering where to take the conversation from there.
Pralaya looked down. "They don't understand," he sighed to himself. "They simply don't understand what's about to fall on their heads. And onto mine too, most unfortunately."
"Will you give me one of your prophetic readings, Melissa?" Bexton asked.
"With pleasure." Still holding his hand, Melissa closed her eyes. Using the special fields that were woven in the house, she projected her consciousness high above her head and established a link with the sky of the Watchers.
The atmosphere in the room suddenly changed. Everything became vibrant and strangely not like itself, very still, but infinitely more quickly, and with a queer quiddity which in its everywhere-ness – but where were we? – seemed to be asking a galaxy of axiomatically unanswerable questions. In short, there was Watcher-ness in the air.
"Connected!" Melissa whispered, reopening her eyes.
"Beautiful shining eyes, what can you see?" the grand commander asked in a little voice. Melissa's prophetic eyes always moved him deeply.
Melissa hesitated. "Clouds. Dark clouds," she finally said.
"On me, or on the kingdom?"
"Everywhere, Bexton. The danger is real. Your court sorcerers..."
Bexton frowned, "What about my court sorcerers?"
"I fear Bobros was right. They will support him, not you."
"No, that's impossible!" Bexton was adamant. "I have just spent the afternoon rehearsing with them for tomorrow morning. And I have spoken to each of them personally. They have all assured me of their full support. I also know from the reports of my secret police that they have never had any dealings with the guild of necromancers."
"Are you sure? There are many..."
"Absolutely sure!" Bexton interrupted her. Even though he didn't regard himself as a great expert in magic, Bexton had enough occult powers to decide when someone was lying to him. During thirty years of political life, his intuition had never betrayed him.
A strange feeling swept his mind. What was happening to Melissa? Since the beginning of their conversation, he had had the impression she was deviating from reality.
"Your secret police may no longer be reliable, Bexton," Melissa suggested. "I see a deal struck between Aprali and Bobros."
That was even more impossible. Aprali, the chief of the secret intelligence services, had been Bexton's friend since childhood.
Bexton became suspicious. Had Bobros veiled Melissa's clarity of mind? The wretched necromancer was certainly capable of bewitching her and her baphomet in order to create confusion.
Was that what had happened during Bobros' visit? Was that why she and Pralaya had suggested an alliance with non-Nephilim people – a sure way of making Bexton hated by his people?
As he knew without a shadow of a doubt that the third battalion would remain loyal to him, Bexton decided to test Melissa. "And what about the Green Guard? Have they also struck a deal with Bobros?"
"Not yet. But they are very much tempted to do so," Melissa answered in her prophetic voice.
"Melissa, Melissa..." deeply disturbed, Bexton closed his eyes. "Melissa, if all those things have been happening, how come neither you nor any of my advisers have mentioned them to me before?"
"It has all happened in the last days. In the last hours," Pralaya answered for Melissa.
Bexton found that difficult to believe. "So, what is your advice?"
Melissa remained silent for nearly two minutes, during which beautifully odd vibrations of Watcher-ness shook the room into total stillness. Then the wise woman spoke from so high that her voice was hardly recognisable. "Flee, Bexton! Take five thousand of your best men, and their wives, and flee from the kingdom. Build a fleet and go east. Cross the great ocean. Give a future to our race. Found a new city in the land of Aegypton, and there your seed will live beyond the flood."
Going into exile in a land of primitive savages? Preposterous! In the Eastern Peninsula as in all states of the kingdom, exile was regarded as the capital punishment – worse than death.
Surely, all this nonsense came from Bobros!
"If this necromantic toddler believes I am going to fall into his trap," Bexton told himself, "then really he is even more stupid than I thought!"
He felt angry, and devastated.
What if he could never trust Melissa again? That would have been the most vicious blow Bobros the Terrible could have delivered.
"Do you think I am going off track?" Melissa suddenly brought herself to normal consciousness.
"All this..." Bexton hesitated, "all this is very different from the visions you usually receive in your readings. Could it be that the emotions of the day have left you exhausted?"
The words hit her like a dagger in her chest. She held her breath and contained her tears.
"Melissa!" When he felt her pain, Bexton took her hand, held it tightly. He lightly touched her face, "Beautiful Melissa!"
"Will you excuse me, Your Excellency," the baphomet whispered, as he wisely judged his presence was no longer required.
On Bexton's quick nod, he trotted his way out of the room.
And he started thinking about the long Point-conversation that he and Bobros had had after his visit – totally unknown to Melissa, of course.
Late in the night, Woolly was woken by a voice from above, "Are you ready?"
He had to think. Florabella was still trapped under the rubble in the ravaged temple of Laminindra. The bodies of his adoptive parents hadn't been found, so the funeral rites couldn't be administered - a major crime against the Law. In Eisraim the situation was becoming grimmer by the day. Three hundred people had already died from the pestilence and at least as many were sick. Among those affected was Antaria, the head of the sixteen White Eagles, and the most important for the team's success. The presence of the gods was fast disappearing from the chapels, creating waves of panic among officiating priests and priestesses. The rats, however, had quickly reappeared. And the fields had vomited a new beast into the catacombs: strange, brownish, six-legged - an insect no one had ever seen before. Meanwhile the Wise Witches, having sworn to avenge the death of their kittens, had lodged the highest possible administrative complaint against the Field Wizards, accusing them of yet another crime against the Law.
Catastrophic news was being received from both inside and outside the county. The prince of Eisraim, a wise man in the Law and a friend of the temple, had been assassinated, probably by his nephew. A phase of political instability was bound to follow - just what the county didn't need right now. But worst of all was the news coming from the east. As foretold by Aphelion, the Nephilim giants had gone on the rampage. Taking advantage of the chaos created by the acute illness of the warp, one of their armies was sweeping the east coast of the kingdom, melting temples to the ground and slaughtering everyone on their way.
The first reports were terrifying. It had taken the giants only one day to exterminate the entire army of the prince of Melankia, their immediate neighbour, as well as twenty-one battalions of the King's army. And in one night of cannibalistic fury they had ransacked the two main cities of Melankia. At the end of the night not one building was left standing, all fields had been extinguished, all animals had been butchered, not one prisoner had been taken. The prince and his family had been eaten alive.
Having finished with Melankia, the giants were now heading south. If they kept up their pace they would reach the county of Sheringa in the coming days, just when the nine White Eagles were due to arrive in Sheringa city to catch their boat and cross the ocean. Following Szar's decision the priestesses had been informed of Aphelion's words. But they had not modified their route, trusting in the Eagle who was directing them. Higher protection or not, Woolly hated to imagine what would happen if the dear women found themselves face to face with demented Nephilim soldiers. But as there was nothing he could do about that, nor about the rest, Woolly gave his answer to the voice from above, "Yes! I am ready!"
He was lifted out of his body and instantly found himself in a cloud of blue light, clear like the sky of the gods.
"Far Upperworld... is this really happening?" he asked himself. "Am I really going to see the Fields of Peace?"
His encounter with Aphelion had left him devastated. The words of the emissary of Ahriman had zeroed in. Deep inside himself, something refused to believe he would ever make it to the initiation. His mind kept enumerating lists of reasons why things could go wrong, starting with the fact that in his life everything had always gone wrong. Why should it stop now?
But now that he found himself bathing in this glorious light, he had difficulty clinging to his cynicism.
"Szar," he Point-called, "are you here?"
"Not far from you," the Point-answer carried a warm breeze of Eagle-ness.
"Am I really seeing the Fields of Peace?"
"Not yet. You are in the Fields of Peace, but you're not really seeing them yet."
"Am I doing something wrong?"
"No, that's how it happens when you arrive from the kingdom. At first you tend to project mental constructions based on the world you're coming from. It takes some time before you can see things as they are."
"Where exactly are we?"
"Archive Hall One. Gervin's hall."
"Waooooh!" Woolly jumped with joy. He started running in Szar's direction.
Szar was standing in the middle of a large bubble of White Light. When Woolly saw him, he was astounded. "Is that you? But... you are beautiful!"
Szar's face was not only glowing, it was exquisitely chiselled, as if the Szar who had been left in the kingdom was but a gross caricature.
"So are you," Szar's words touched him like a soft breeze.
"Beautiful, me?" Woolly frowned, wondering if there were mirrors in the Fields of Peace.
"Here, to catch a vision of yourself all you need to do is use your peripheral vision."
It didn't take long before Woolly managed to do that. "Oh! Oh!" he exclaimed with even more astonishment when contemplating himself peripherally. It was like seeing a majestic woolly-haired god with no pimples and no broken nose. "Are they all like this here, or is it just you and me?" he questioned.
Szar laughed, creating joyful ascending waves throughout Woolly's energy.
"Sounds are so different!" Woolly marvelled. "So musical! And you don't just hear them, you feel them caressing your energy."
"A paradise for musicians." Szar held his hands parallel in front of his heart and he whistled like a bird of paradise.
Woolly applauded and tried to imitate him. The whistle was melodious, but nothing like a bird of paradise. "You've come here before, haven't you?"
"I haven't! But there are similarities with the world of the gods. In higher worlds, you can guess a lot just by tapping from the knowingness of your body."
"Through the Point?" Woolly asked.
"No, from the substance of your vehicle of consciousness. All the instructions you need are contained inside it."
"How does it work?" Woolly closed his eyes and tried to tune in.
"Same as in a number of other worlds. When you arrive you are given a visitor's body that allows you to be in that place. The stuff which constitutes the visitor's body is similar to the elemental forces of that world, and so it has an intuitive knowledge of their modus operandi."
When Woolly looked inside himself, what sprang to his consciousness was joy. "This world should be called the Fields of Joy," he sang.
"Look who is coming!" Szar whispered.
It was at that moment that Woolly discovered he didn't need to open his eyes in order to see. All parts of his body were endowed with the sense of sight, which made seeing somehow akin to touching.
Still, he opened his eyes wide with amazement.
Gervin, who was walking towards them, looked thirty years younger. He was not just handsome like a god, there was a multidimensional harmony about him, his features conveying the depth of his being and his manifold soul forces.
"Now his outside is like his inside!" Woolly told himself, fascinated by how much was unveiled by the vision.
Rapt by the beaming revelation, Szar recognised many of the qualities he had intuitively guessed about Gervin. For the first time, he felt his essence standing face to face with Gervin's essence.
The simplicity was total.
No facades. They looked exactly as they were.
In the elated lightness of the World to Come, where joy comes from being and being knows no limits, it was an easy, uncomplicated reunion.
Just being said everything.
And there was so much to be!
Gervin strolled with them through the fluid sky-blueness of Archive Hall One, soaking them in Peace. Silently, they enjoyed seeing each other inside-out. It saved so much explaining.
After a long communion Gervin summarised, "Here, to see is to know."
Gervin's voice, even more than his appearance, struck Woolly and Szar with awe. It covered a wide spectrum and its substance was like warm liquid gold. The sweetness and heartness it conveyed were beyond description. It was pregnant with mysterious, primordial forces that moved the depths of their souls.
"Your voice is like divine nectar, Master Gervin," Szar managed to say.
"This world is a Field of Voice," Gervin shone his smile. "Here, the more you grow in God, the more His Word becomes alive inside you."
"We could sit here and just listen to you until the end of time!" Woolly was melting. He plugged his ears, wondering if his sense of hearing, like his sight, was spread over his entire body.
It made Gervin laugh - a cascade of elated vibrations which created dancing flames in his disciples' hearts.
Gervin began explaining the steps of their initiation into Thunder. First, they were to watch Archive records of their past. Then they would be shown mysterious visions of the future. Finally they would be invested with the power of the lineage.
"Where would you like to start?" he offered.
Satisfied that he could hear just as well with his ears blocked, Woolly dropped his hands. "Master Gervin," he asked the first question, "I want to understand why I feel so much joy. I haven't felt so good since..." he hesitated. "Since..."
"Would you like me to show you the last time you felt as happy as this in the kingdom?" As Gervin spoke, a large three-dimensional image appeared in front of them. "The Ancient Days of the Earth. Long, long before the beginning of the kingdom of Atlantis."
Was it an ocean? More like hot soupish gases.
A strange, blobbish mass of semi-liquid jelly was bubbling its way through the soup.
"You were just about to have a baby," Gervin smiled affectionately.
Szar found the scene rather amusing, especially the ecstatic bloob-bloob sounds which the jelly-thing blurted out.
Woolly, however, was deeply moved. "Oh, God! I remember. It seems like yesterday. And yet it was so different."
"There was not yet any sense of time," Gervin explained, "which is why people remember it as if it was still happening inside them."
Tears in his eyes, Woolly silently watched the blobette coming out of the jelly-thing, while the space was filled with celestial harmonies.
"The miracle of the Angels of the Seed," Gervin sighed. "You understand that you made that baby on your own, don't you? Being a man-woman, you were both its father and its mother."
Woolly nodded. "It was so full. So magnificent."
"That was one of the great advantages of being a hermaphrodite, you could be permanently in love."
"A perfect union. Never any discordance between my two sides. Wasn't that amazing?" Woolly turned towards Szar.
Szar pushed his lips forward and nodded. Yet he couldn't fully relate to the jelly-blob's love story with itself. Seeing how meaningful the vision was to Woolly, he made an effort to tune into the jelly-thing. It took him into a womb-like space in which a deeply internalised fullness resonated with the light of high angels. There were no senses, just vague sensations, and little awareness of the surrounding environment. And yet, at the core of this centripetal fullness there was oneness with limitless spaces, a spreading into vastness of near-Flying-Dragon magnitude.
"Why couldn't that last?" Woolly said with Dragon-deep nostalgia. "We were so happy. We had absolutely everything we needed. It was so complete."
"An immensely blissful sleeping cosmic consciousness. Precisely because it was so complete, you could have kept sleeping like this until the end of this cosmic cycle."
"Maybe it was sleep," Woolly argued, "but there was infinitely more divinity in that sleep than in the so-called waking state of the people of the kingdom."
"True," Gervin conceded.
"And there was such a deep intuitive understanding of everything."
"True. You could say that you knew everything. The problem was, you didn't know that you knew it," Gervin replied, the harmony of the spheres chanting through his voice.
"Where was Szar at the time?" Woolly questioned.
"He hadn't arrived in our spheres yet. He never experienced the hermaphroditic stage of the early blobs."
"What a shame!" Woolly was sincerely sorry for Szar. "You have no idea what you missed. It was my best life!"
Szar sighed to agree with him. But the more he contemplated the burping soft-cartilaginous lump wafting in its semi-liquid environment, the more he was thankful that the Lord Melchisedek had changed Elyani's appearance by the time he landed on Earth.
"I find it difficult to understand how we went from feeling so ecstatically happy to feeling as awful as I have often felt in the kingdom," Woolly reflected.
"A major disconnection took place: the fall." Gervin explained, "You could call it the central mystery in the history of humanity. It involved a number of events that happened more or less concomitantly. The blobs lost their hermaphroditic status, they were separated into male and female blobs. And they fell into a much greater degree of physicality. Until the fall they were hardly aware of the material world. Their consciousness was united with the light of the gods and of high angels, which conveyed to them the presence of the One God. This is why they experienced so much bliss. But after the fall they were confronted with the limits of the material world."
"The light was taken away from them?" Woolly asked.
"That is how they experienced it. But it would be more accurate to say that they were projected into a different level of existence, where they didn't know how to connect with the light."
"Wasn't it a beautiful baby?" Woolly exclaimed with pride, as the newborn blobette was huddling against the enraptured jelly-thing who, wobbling with ongoing orgasmic waves, kept burping bubbles ecstatically.
"The most special blobette in the entire world!" Szar answered without any hesitation.
"You can't understand. It's because you've never given birth," Woolly placed his hands on his belly. "Will you show me how I died in that life, Master Gervin?"
"A tragic accident. It happened not long after the delivery. Your sense of heat got mixed up. You wafted in the wrong direction and were caught in a volcano."
The scene changed. The peaceful gaseous soup was replaced by a fury of gushing winds and red-hot lava. In a matter of seconds, poor Woolly-jelly-thing was cooked into a squid-like mass that blew up after rendering its last burp.
"And what happened to my baby?" Woolly asked anxiously.
"Saved! A compassionate wind took care of it." Gervin showed an image of the blobette. It had already grown up a lot, and was happily bathing in its new home-soup. "It had a good life."
Woolly was immensely reassured. "It looked so much like me!" he marvelled. "It's touching."
Szar bit his lip to stop himself laughing.
"No, it's true!" Gervin told him. "The resemblance was remarkable."
They watched the blobette a little longer, then the image faded. They pondered silently.
Szar looked around him. There didn't seem to be any walls or ceiling in Archive Hall One. Just a space. Scanning from the Point, he could not detect any fields like those in the kingdom. Yet there must have been some field-like device to project the images Gervin was showing them. When he had first arrived in the hall, he had tuned into the Eagle. He had immediately been surrounded by a cocoon-like halo of White-warming energy. How could this happen without a field? Before he had time to ask, Woolly continued with the question that had been haunting him all his life.
"I still find it difficult to understand why life in the kingdom is so painful. During the blobs' golden age, we were so fulfilled. How could we possibly fall from this summit of bliss to the constant malaise that afflicts people in the kingdom? The more I breathe the joy of the Fields of Peace, the more obvious it becomes that even when they are happy, the people of the kingdom are far from experiencing real joy. What can possibly have gone so wrong?"
"The fall is a profound and multifaceted mystery," Gervin replied. "The loss of the hermaphroditic condition played a major part. There is no doubt that human beings were infinitely happier before the separation of the sexes."
"That is absolutely true!" Woolly pointed an authoritative index finger at Szar, who bit his lip and tucked his head in his shoulders, laughing, but only with his eyes.
Gervin turned towards Szar, "Imagine destiny had made you the gift of a perfect lover, someone who loved you passionately. Someone whose appearance you found the most attractive, and whose mind accorded perfectly with yours. Then imagine this perfect lover understood you totally, always knew when you needed to be comforted, always guessed your desires and satisfied them immediately, and never let you down, because your union could not be broken. Then you would know the pleasure enjoyed by those strange-looking hermaphroditic blobs."
Szar was twinging his beard thoughtfully. Seeing the brief flutter of his eyelids, Woolly was satisfied the message got through.
Gervin brought down an image into the hall's field-less field. It was another gelatinous-looking blob, floating in a gaseous broth. "This was just after the separation of the sexes."
The difference with the former blob was not obvious to Szar at first, except that it didn't move, and it didn't burp.
But to Woolly, the vision was shocking. "Oh, my God!" he exclaimed with an appalled expression on his face, his hand on his heart.
Tuning in, Szar understood why. The blob's distress was overwhelming. That, he could relate to. It was exactly how he had felt after losing Elyani. Abysmal grief. A state of utter devastation, as if the core of his being had been ripped apart. For the blob the situation was even worse, because its mind was blank. It had no way of understanding what had happened to it.
"Such a nice, gentle being," Szar commented, surprised by the vibrant heartness that radiated from the blob.
"Amazingly soft!" Woolly nodded. "Was this a man or a woman?"
"A woman," Gervin answered. "Lost in the pit of the primeval broken heart. An agony with no hope, nothing to look for - only a desperate longing for the lost half. The beautiful light in her heart has disappeared. She no longer bathes in cosmic consciousness. But look at this warm breeze caressing her."
"Nature seemed so supportive! Like a huge heart," Szar was moved.
"Nature was still very much like it was before the fall: one big heart. A loving mother who could never get enough of holding her children in her arms and comforting them. But it didn't last." Gervin conjured another image. "This one was Woolly. Thousands of years later."
Another blob. This one was more elongated, and vertical. The atmosphere in which it lived wasn't as thick. There seemed to be a bottom, a firm or semi-firm ground on which to rest, and blurry objects constituted a nebulous landscape.
Szar made himself White-Eagle open for Woolly, wondering how he would react this time. But Woolly didn't seem to be particularly moved by the vision. "I was hardly there. Nothing mattered. Deep inside me, something had disengaged from the world."
Gervin made them tune into the wind, "See how nature had changed! The soup was starting to turn into mist. The rocks had hardened. And the all-enveloping softness had disappeared. This is another essential aspect of the mystery of the fall: it is not only human beings that fell. Nature too lost its connection to the light of the Divine. Just as human beings had been ripped from their hermaphroditic half, so a precious quintessence of life was withdrawn from nature and its elemental forces. The consequences were dramatic. That which used to be noble chaos turned into a corrupt mess. Gradually, very gradually, fire became angry, given to blind violence. The wind became agitated and unstable. The waters no longer carried the infinite sweetness of the Universal Mother. Earth became heavy and inert, opaque to the Spirit and its joy.
In turn, the plants and animals which were now made of these diminished elementals lost the greater part of their wisdom - this wonderful intelligence that animated all things in the early days of the Earth. And the bodies of human beings became corrupt. Life became shorter. The first diseases appeared. All creatures started growing old from the moment they were born. A fundamental loss of integrity had taken place in nature. As a result, nothing could last."
The elongated blob-being fell horizontal and stopped moving. "You died quite young," Gervin told Woolly. "As you said, it wasn't a particularly significant past life."
"So is this why life in the kingdom always ends up being so painful?" Woolly went back to his original question. "We are fallen, disconnected beings, living in a fallen, disconnected nature."
"This covers only half the enigma," Gervin replied. "Look who is coming!"
The blurry landscape disappeared. It was replaced by a gigantic dark cloud, moving in space with superb momentum. The cloud radiated a feeling of formidable strength. It shone with raw power, burning to conquer, ready to fight battle after battle. Its presence was totally devoid of the heartness that illuminated the first scenes Gervin had shown.
"Ouch! That looks rather ominous," Woolly pulled a face.
"But smart. Very smart!" Szar added, jarred by the titanic supermental energy that Point-radiated from the cloud.
"Here, the mystery of the fall thickens," Gervin went on. "When human beings and nature at large lost their integrity, meaning their state of union to the Divine, they fell under the influence of several hierarchies of fallen angels. Beings of darkness permeated all levels of the material world, worsening the disconnection from the light, and strengthening the messy side of chaos. Diseases became worse, ageing became more painful, death more unavoidable. But the influence of dark forces was not limited to the elemental forces of nature. Look at these."
The titan-cloud faded. A group of human-shaped beings appeared, males and females. They looked extremely sharp, their eyes shining with exceptionally intense energies. They were dancing a strange dance that repeated itself in circles, and throwing cords that descended onto the Earth.
"These are not men and women but luciferic beings. Several classes of them cast their venom into the astral bodies of human beings, inflaming their emotions and desires, and thickening the human mind into an opaque veil, blind to the Spirit."
The cords which the luciferic beings had thrown were hooked into men and women. From above, the beings pulled the strings, manipulating people like puppets. And they poured dark, venomous energies into their heads and their hearts.
"From there on, things went from bad to worse. The corrupt human mind worsened the state of corruption of the body. Constant exposure to corrupt elementals made it significantly more difficult for those who did strive to purify their mind and unify their consciousness to the Divine. And thus were knotted the ropes of human destiny."
"And yet," Woolly argued, "in the kingdom until not so long ago, people didn't get sick very often. And nature was rather well behaved, bringing the right season at the right time, and food in plenty."
"Thanks to the magic of the fields!" Gervin explained, letting the image fade. "At the beginning of the kingdom of Atlantis, when the Good Lord Melchisedek gave the Law to human beings, it was with the intention of softening their fate. The fields, which were a central part of the revelation of the Law, helped preserve some of the momentum of the unfallen world. Now that the fields are collapsing, the situation on Earth is bound to deteriorate."
A deep wave of empathy rose in Woolly's heart. "Does this mean the fall of Atlantis will be like a second fall for humanity?"
"In many ways. In Atlantis, thanks to the fields, the people of the kingdom could live close to the presence of the gods, not unlike before the fall (though not with the same intensity). Now that all this is drawing to an end, nature will appear in its fully fallen state."
"Rats and cockroaches instead of filosterops and unicorns!" Szar sighed.
"What's a cockroach?" Woolly asked.
"That new beast that Ashok and Gallagher found in the catacombs the other day."
"So is that what it's called! How did you find out?"
"Mouridji remembered having seen something like it carved on the walls of the chapel of the Mysteries of Ancient Times," Szar explained.
"Will there not be one unicorn that survives the collapse of the fields?" Woolly felt sorry.
"Probably not," Gervin replied. "Anyhow, it's unlikely they would be able to maintain themselves in the fallen nature of the kingdom of the rainbows."
"But there are unicorns in the Fields of Peace, aren't there?" Woolly drew from the knowingness of his body.
"Of course!" Gervin invited them to think, "The Fields of Peace are an unfallen world. This is how you can best understand the position of the World to Come in relation to the Earth: none of the manifestations of the fall that have happened on Earth have happened here. The elemental forces have remained pure. Nature was never disconnected from the Divine. Dark forces have never found their way here. Here, God shines in every tree, in every drop of water. In so much light, there is no space for dark forces to slip in."
Drinking Gervin's words, Woolly was trying to imagine what an unfallen nature could look like. "Are we going to see this?"
"Right now, if you want. Why don't you and Szar go and inspect the surroundings of the Archive halls?"
Woolly's eyes flared with curiosity.
"How much time do we have?" the commander wanted to know.
"You can forget about time for a while. You will return into your kingdom-body one kingdom-second after you left it," Gervin assured them.
Coming out of the wood and discovering the river, Woolly stopped, amazed.
He had never even dreamed a river could be like that.
In the kingdom, rivers were nothing more than streams of running water. And water, fundamentally, did nothing much more than get you wet.
But here... it was a completely different story. "A poem of life and wisdom," Woolly whispered. "There is more knowledge in this river than a sage could possibly gain in twenty lives in the kingdom. Here, wherever you look, you receive a revelation - the Fields of Revelation, this is what this world is. Every leaf knows the structure of the entire creation. Every drop of water has an epic poem to tell." And he became silent, listening to the river.
"But it's talking to me!" he turned to Szar, astounded.
Szar took his arm and made him sit down.
"Do you know my name?" the river asked.
Woolly opened his mouth and shook his head.
"I am the River of Remembrance," it said. And it started humming a simple melody, because it knew it was what Woolly needed. The words said,
"Look into me and see yourself.
Here we play no games.
Here the old man stops and dies.
Here you are reborn.
Very simple, really."
"I don't understand!" Woolly suddenly understood.
"And just as well! And just as well!" the river sang. Then it stopped singing words, to help Woolly be more silent.
It just sang to his heart.
It was a key-song designed to open closed doors.
Especially those which have never existed and therefore are so much more difficult to open.
And don't look for a reason, it's such a waste of time.
Start with that which is not completely closed. It can easily be opened. A little more.
Gently. Delicately. Irresistibly.
Woolly started crying.
The beauty of the Fields of Peace hit him at the deepest of himself: the landscape free from mists, the clarity of the light, the dazzling perfection crafted in every blade of grass, the spellbinding rhythms of the birds' music, the friendly fragrances of the flowers which warmed his lungs (instead of giving him hay fever, as in the kingdom), and the river that spoke to him.
The presence that permeated every thing was so soft.
Nothing to fight against.
Woolly's tears turned into a torrent. "How can it be that God has made me live so far from this for so long?"
"Or maybe not so long, after all!" the river whispered.
Down there, in the kingdom, it did feel like an eternity, entombed in greyness.
Atrocious pain in the heart.
A wall that falls, only to uncover another wall.
A flower the colour of peach blossom looked at him, wondering what it could do to help.
"Nothing!" he shrugged his shoulders and kept crying, as if all the tears he hadn't cried in all his lives had accumulated inside him, waiting.
The river kept singing her limpid spirit.
"Here we play no games.
Very simple, really."
Woolly saw. It was crystal clear. Life after life, he had essentially been doing one thing - closing off.
Closing off a little bit more, each time life hurt.
It was so easy, there were so many good reasons. Starting with the need to survive.
One more wall built for every good reason. To keep the pain locked away. And walls to hide the walls.
Soon a fortress. A monstrous construction. A huge city of darkness.
Cynicism had been such a good wall. And even intelligence, at times.
Now the walls were all falling, one after the other.
There was but one big wound left.
"Paradise hurts like hell!" he blew his nose in his sleeve, resting in the White-Eagle-ness that Szar was weaving around him.
The White-Eagle-ness didn't make the pain less, but it made Woolly feel vaster.
"When you are vast, even the worst things are not as bad," the river sang.
"It's true!" the flower couldn't agree more.
Another thick wall was about to fall.
"But what will happen to us if we go back to the kingdom fully open?" Woolly floundered. "The world is going to eat us alive!"
He listened to the river's answer, but couldn't understand the meaning.
When Woolly and Szar returned, Archive Hall One was plunged in a fluid night-like darkness of a strange kind. In it they could see each other better than in daylight.
"If we could find out how to activate these fields, or whatever it is that's being used, it would make Gervin happy," Szar said, looking for clues as to how to activate the vision device.
Woolly was too annihilated to answer. He stood straight, resting on the vastness of the wound in his heart, his mind free like the flow of his friend the river.
He closed his eyes, feeling the flower he had picked. It was pulsing with his heart.
It was a strange flower the size of his thumb, with eight flame-like petals, peach-blossom colour, and a golden-yellow heart. Before leaving the river shore, taking a good look at it, he had felt so warmed that he had to smile, and thank the flower.
But as he started walking away, he heard a whisper, "Wait!"
Holding his breath, he turned back.
"Aren't you going to pick me?" the flower whispered to him.
"But... you're far too smart to be picked!"
"If you pick me, I'll be happy," the flower assured him. "Today is a really important day for you. I couldn't imagine a better occasion. But then of course, you don't have to. If you don't like me, you can just go."
Flabbergasted, Woolly turned towards Szar, who burst out laughing.
The flower waited for his hand, silently.
Woolly caressed the short stem, moving up.
"There!" the flower told him when he arrived one third of the way up, and it abandoned itself into his hand.
Woolly's eyes opened even wider. He was sure he hadn't pulled the stem. And yet the flower had broken off into his hand.
"Put it on your heart, and it will be happy," Szar said.
When Woolly did that, the flower shone its colours into his chest, huddling against him. After that, the flower mingled its energy with his heart, and started pulsing with him.
Woolly was tuning into the magnificent sensation that started from his heart and filled his whole body, when Szar exclaimed triumphantly, "That's it! Look!"
Without having to open his eyes, Woolly saw the dark space of Archive Hall One turn Flying-Dragon blue, and he recognised volleys of eerie harmonies which Szar often played in his music fields.
"It's amazingly simple!" Szar marvelled, "The ether is so pure. There is no need for any external source of power to activate a field in it. This is the absolute paradise for Field Wizards - the Fields of Fields! Want to try?"
Woolly couldn't answer. He was too deeply absorbed in the pulsing of his heart. It was a new sensation, only vaguely reminiscent of a physical heartbeat. It was far more gentle and subtle. It originated from the heart centre in the middle of his chest and spread rhythmically into his whole body. It combined strangely with the pain of his wound. When he surrendered to the pulsing, a superior softness vibrated throughout his body. It made the wound different. Not just an agonising ache and a desperate call for help, but... something else, deep and mysterious.
Gervin arrived a few minutes later. He found his disciples watching images of the construction of the chapel of the White Eagle in Eisraim.
"It didn't take you long!" the master rejoiced.
Szar was about to interrupt the vision, but Gervin told him, "Keep watching!"
Helped by two lawful masons, an enthusiastic young Melchard was projecting the Voice into the newly-grown eastern living wall, purifying it from unwanted influences and permeating it with the presence of the chapel's deity.
"I have never seen Melchard look so happy!" Szar was moved. "He was resplendent."
A young woman with curly brown hair and a particularly soft look in her eyes entered the construction site. She wore the long dress of the White Eagle.
"Adya!" Szar held his breath.
"Adya, she was. Already pregnant with Elyani. As you can see she was very tired. She had never recovered from the dungeons of Tipitinan. Her love for Melchard was the only thing that kept her alive."
Melchard stopped his work and walked towards her.
"They really loved each other," Szar exclaimed, deeply White-warmed by the familiar Eagle spark in their eyes. "But which archive are we watching at the moment?" he asked as the couple were walking the alleys of the temple. "Eisraim's?"
"No. As you know, the archive of the temple of Eisraim will only arrive here after the transfer. This one is the archive of the Brown Robe."
"How does it get collected?"
"The Points of the Masters of Thunder are linked together. Every single experience is recorded."
This pulled Woolly out of his state. "Does it work with the apprentices too?"
"Oh, gods!" Woolly sighed.
"And you can be proud of the chapter you have just added to our records. When they saw how you got rid of Aphelion, our brethren were extremely impressed by your directness," Gervin declared.
"So you could see it while it was happening?"
"No. While it was happening Aphelion had totally disconnected you from us. But as soon as it was finished, we all watched the scene. A most impressive piece in our Archive! When he saw how you passed the trial, my teacher Orest prophesied, 'This man will be one of the greatest Knights of the Apocalypse.' And Takhar the Unbending seconded this."
Szar snapped his fingers, "Hey, Woolly!"
Woolly remained speechless.
"And Barkhan Seer has decided he will ask you to become a member of his team," Gervin went on. "If you accept, you will be working with him at preparing the strategies of the Knights against Aphelion's mind - this monstrous supermental network which he briefly showed you. But we'll come back to this later. For the moment, look at this," he told them, turning the space of the hall into a watery landscape in which a gigantic sea monster was swimming.
"This is a friend of yours, Szar. Do you recognise where the images come from?"
"Space Matrix," Szar immediately answered, the high end of his column of Spirit lit with the unmistakable sparks. "A Flying Dragon brother?" he asked incredulously, contemplating the enormous fish-looking beast - so huge, Archive Hall One had to extend itself to contain the vision.
"Jinia, whom you met with Hermina in Tomoristan," Gervin answered.
"And you thought I looked odd in my past lives!" Woolly sighed, watching the sea monster swimming in the depths of the ocean, coming back to the surface from time to time to spit water through its nostrils just like a dragon spits fire through its mouth.
"Not an uncommon body for Flying Dragons when they first arrive on Earth. These large sea animals have a natural affinity with the consciousness of the spheres of remoteness," Gervin explained.
"Did Szar's first life take place in a gigantic sea monster like this one?" Woolly wanted to know.
"No, but he bitterly regretted it didn't!" Gervin let the marine landscape fade. There followed images of a miserable dwarf, crawling over rocky ground, screaming with pain.
"Oh yes, I remember!" Szar shook his head, appalled, "The only good thing about that life was that it didn't last long."
His face twisted, his body shaken by violent cramps, the dwarf was in agony. Alone. Abandoned by his tribe, left to die.
"Your body couldn't cope with the intensity you had brought with you. Which is why you were born deformed, and half-insane. It took a few lives before you became accustomed to being in a human body."
"Can we return to Jinia?" Szar asked.
Gervin conjured the image of a large suite in the palace of Tomoristan. The prince's son was deeply asleep on a bed. Szar was sitting by his side, holding three white roses in his hand. On his left, the frail Jinia. A few lawful feet behind them stood Hermina the Immaculate.
In Archive Hall One Szar took his head in his hands. "The worst mistake of my entire life. I could have fished Jinia as you fished me, couldn't I?" he said with consternation.
Gervin nodded silently.
"What can I do for her now?"
"Nothing for the moment. The past cannot be rewritten. But you will find her again. She has an appointment with the Knights. Next time she reincarnates it is unlikely you'll be on Earth. But in her following reincarnation, if she hasn't awakened yet, you will go and find her. The problem is, there won't be any fields on Earth by then. All operations of consciousness will be infinitely more difficult. Reconnecting Flying Dragons with their nature of remoteness won't be as simple as it was in Atlantis."
Gervin changed the scene. A young woman clad in a bizarre blue garment - it couldn't really be called a dress - was walking in a weird forest. Sad trees of a kind Szar and Woolly had never seen before.
"What is this?" Szar was surprised by the strange attitude on the woman's face.
"A possible future," Gervin replied.
"In the kingdom of the rainbows?"
"Correct. Jinia is wandering. She knows she is missing her life's purpose, but she has no idea how to find it."
"Does this mean that everything is already written?" Woolly asked.
"Oh, no! Certainly not! Human beings are endowed with free will. From the superior consciousness of their Spirit, they can modify their destiny. The problem is, they don't often do it. Which is one of the reasons why certain future scenarios are much more probable than others."
"This forest does not look too ugly," Woolly was surprised. "I thought after the end of Atlantis nature would be much worse."
"It's not the fall of Atlantis that will destroy the beauty of nature," Gervin replied. "It's Ahriman."
"Let me show you some of the marvels of the kingdom of the rainbows." Gervin turned the hall into a beach that extended as far as the eye could contemplate.
"No mists!" Woolly loved the blue sky. "As in the legends about the world of the gods."
"This is bound to modify the way people think!" Szar dipped his feet into the water. "When travelling, each time I found myself in a landscape of this kind, it had a profound impact on me."
"The clear air makes it look nearly as nice as the Molten Sea," Woolly filled his lungs with the breeze from the ocean.
"Look!" Gervin pointed to the horizon, "the Sun is rising."
They sat on the sand and contemplated the regal reddish disk slowly rising from the sea.
Woolly was deeply moved by the vision. "So they will be able to contemplate this every morning!" his voice was full of wonder.
"And every evening, of course!" Gervin added, and he accelerated the movement of the Sun. The glorious yellow disk moved across the sky quickly, until it set behind the dunes. There followed a night, with thousands of stars. "What do you think of that?"
"It's... all right." Woolly was not particularly impressed with the field of stars. "The colours are a bit flat." According to astral-travelling standards, it was a rather ordinary field of stars.
"But do you realise they'll be able to see it with their physical eyes, without having to leave their body?" Gervin tried to ignite their enthusiasm.
"Mm..." Szar, like Woolly, couldn't really see what would be so fantastic about that. "It will be... entertaining, for them, in the evening."
Gervin sighed and didn't insist. He turned the hall into a large clearing in the middle of a forest of pine trees. It had just been raining and a huge, majestic rainbow was shining.
Woolly was disappointed, "The air is marvellously clear, but the rainbow colours aren't as nice as the ones in the fields of our chapel."
"But this one is a physical rainbow," Gervin reiterated, "made by nature, not by fields."
"It's all very green," Szar pulled a face, contemplating the grass. "Won't there be any coloured lawns left at all?"
"No, the coloured blossoms all rested on the fields. Likewise, many treasure-plants are likely to disappear: slew, oriel, all the herbs of madness, the blue corn of the gods, hereat, disso, and the great trees of wisdom like the alohim. Worse, the medicinal herbs that will survive are bound to lose their virtues. Without the fields, tansy won't be of much help against old age, and several other precious herbs might well turn into weeds."
"Any new animals?"
"No. Except later, when nature will have been deeply wounded. Then many new insects will appear - venomous pests that will attack not only crops but also animals and human beings."
"And what about the people? What will they be like?" Szar asked.
"There, my friends, you have to be ready for some painful images," Gervin warned. To help them cope with what he was about to deliver, he appealed to their logical sense, "Many trends of the future are highly predictable, really. The warp destroyed, there'll no longer be fields. This is bound to cause a major disconnection from non-physical worlds."
Gervin conjured the image of a young woman kneeling behind an altar, praying.
Just by taking a look at the flame on the altar and at the woman's aura, it was clear she was wasting her time. The gods were not responding.
"She prays there every day from morning to night, and with all her heart, but never gets much reward from the Spirit-world," Gervin commented.
"Poor soul!" Woolly bit his lip. "Doesn't she understand that without fields, rituals can't work?"
"These people don't even know what fields are!" Gervin changed the scene into a large ritual where dozens of priests were chanting mantras and pouring an oily substance into a fire. But when the oily substance reached the fire there was no spark of energy. The space remained dull and empty of presence. The miracle of the fire ritual wasn't happening.
"Oh, but that's terrible!" Szar felt a pinch in his chest, remembering the magic years of his life spent performing fire rituals. "So they will never be able to experience a real ritual? What if they officiate on a Holy Blue Flame?"
"No Holy Blue Flames left. All extinguished," Gervin announced in a matter-of-fact voice.
Szar swallowed, calling onto the Eagle.
"Still, I find it difficult to understand how they could forget that fields ever existed," Woolly pulled a face. "What about the oral transmission of the Law?"
"Lost. You must understand how different their mind will be from ours. They will be more or less completely amnesiac, hardly capable of remembering a few hundred hymns by heart - and even that will be an effort for them! With time it will get worse and worse. After only a few thousand years the only things that will last from one generation to another will be those engraved on stones or painted walls."
"This is insane!" Woolly was shocked. "Is it going to be the same for us when we reincarnate?"
"I'm afraid so. Worse, the collapse of the warp will be followed by a long era of complete barbarity. Countless wars."
He showed them a weird battle scene. Had it not been for the massacre, it would have looked rather comical.
"Why are these people throwing kitchen knives at each other?" Woolly was perplexed.
"They're not kitchen knives," Szar informed him, "they're 'arrows'. The gods use them too."
"Hunh hunh!" Gervin corrected him. "These are not like the magic weapons of the gods. They're purely physical projectiles."
"Oh, come on!" Had Woolly not been so overwhelmed, he would have laughed. "But what about venom?"
"They won't even think of using venom," Gervin smiled. "Even their greatest warriors won't suspect that such forces exist."
Seeing the incredulous look on Woolly's face, Gervin tried to explain, "Imagine a world in which people never feel the presence of the gods, and never receive visions from higher worlds. They can never astral travel consciously. When they wake up in the morning, they remember nothing of what has happened to them during the night. They can't even see auras! Quite naturally, after a few thousand years, they end up believing that only the physical world exists. And they build their life accordingly."
Woolly felt like one big wound, aching for the world.
Seeing the distress in his eyes, Gervin replaced the farcical battle with a gorgeous sunset. "Would you like us to have a break?"
"No," Woolly gathered his courage. "I want to see."
Szar inhaled a long breath and gave a warrior's nod.
To lighten the space, Gervin chose the image of a man who was bathing in a strangely shaped tub, without any god's figure at the front. "If you want to understand these people, you must turn your thinking upside down. Take the most simple things. In the kingdom, when you take a bath you use a field to warm up your body. But they, of course, do just the opposite. They warm up the water of the bath!"
Szar burst out laughing, "That explains everything!"
"Another example. To help people find their way at night, you use fields to make the energy of the path glow in the dark. They will use physical lights, which they will place on the sides of their roads - even if the path is three hundred lawful feet long."
"But of course!" Szar laughed again.
"Or take food," Gervin went on. "To preserve it, you change its level of etheric energy. Whereas their preservation methods will be based on using physical substances, such as salt in meat, or more complicated processes."
"Do you mean they'll be eating corpses?" Woolly was horrified.
"Mainly corpses of animals, only rarely those of human beings," Gervin replied.
This time, Szar didn't laugh.
The next vision showed a hill covered with vines. "A major development in the evolution of the kingdom of the rainbows."
"They prepare fermented beverages out of it. It makes them feel euphoric. But the long-term effects are catastrophic. It further disconnects their consciousness from non-physical worlds. These beverages will become so widespread that even religions will advocate their use."
"So they do have a religion!" Woolly sighed with relief.
"No," Gervin shook his head sadly, "they have hundreds! Because of their disconnection from spiritual worlds, people will find it difficult to distinguish between vision and imagination. It will result in a multiplicity of contradictory creeds. The first religions of the kingdom of the rainbows will teach truths that bear several similarities to our Law. Then will come a mighty revelation of our Lord Melchisedek, which will foster the Ego of human beings and reinforce their link to the Web of Love - the foundation for a profound awakening. But as time passes complete nonsense will be introduced, such as the belief that the gods do not exist, or even that they are dark forces, the enemies of our Lord Melchisedek. Some will sacrifice animals, or even human beings. Some will go as far as saying that instead of reincarnating, human beings live on Earth only once! But the most dangerous religion of the kingdom of the rainbows will be the one brought down by Ahriman himself. It will proclaim that God does not exist, that there is no such thing as Spirit, and that only the material universe exists."
Szar was even more puzzled than he was appalled. "But... why would anyone want to believe that?"
"The works of Ahriman are extraordinarily clever. To begin with, he will foster corruption in the message of religions. He will promote priests who misinterpret the word of genuine prophets. He will assist in the establishment of empty dogmas. He will incite priests to use torture, and to engage in genocide and all forms of atrocities in the name of their faith. The horrors and the stupidity carried out in the name of God will reach such an insane level that people with some common sense will come to the conclusion there is something intrinsically wrong with religion. Then the ground will be ready. Ahriman will bring down a new revelation.
Expect it to be magnificent - a masterpiece of intelligence. All things will be explained. Great miracles will be performed. Colossal forces of nature will be unleashed. But just as all the oceans of the Earth only have one flavour, salt, so Ahriman's religion will have one central theme: nothing exists but the material universe. And therefore there are no gods, and existence finishes with death."
"What kind of miracles will be performed?" Szar asked.
"Countless," Gervin replied, bringing the image of a gigantic city. "Look at this thin building on the left. Six-hundred-storeys high! The number of people living in it is more than twenty-five times the entire population of the temple of Eisraim."
"Just in that one tower!" Szar exclaimed, contemplating the hundreds of barely smaller towers around it. "What is it made of?"
"Mainly iron - Ahriman's favourite metal. In the kingdom of the rainbows, iron will be everywhere. People will love it just as much as Atlantean people hate it. Its use in buildings will even be made compulsory by Law!"
High in the sky, they saw a silvery bird flying. It was a strange beast. Its wings didn't move, and it was terribly noisy.
"Look!" Gervin focused the vision on it. "There is a man sitting inside it."
"So it's a huge bird!" Woolly was amazed. "And of course, it's the man's physical body that's inside, is that it?"
"But is it a real bird?"
"No, more like a large tool. They use thousands of these, for all kinds of purposes."
"What about the dark fumes coming out of the bird's ass?" Szar was curious.
"Physical venom. Like the smoke coming out of a fire, but infinitely more toxic. It will be everywhere. This will be one of Ahriman's long-term strategies: lasting physical pollution that builds up over time. Just as we polluted the warp with our misguided fields, so the kingdom of the rainbows will be polluted by myriads of physical devices."
"So they are going to repeat exactly the same mistakes we have made, but on the physical level, is that it?"
"More or less."
The scenes that followed were shocking. The Earth swept by a tidal wave of iron. Cities covered in thick venomous fog. Forests dying. Poisoned rivers screaming with pain. Mountains of rubbish poured into the ocean. Arid lands scarred with wide crevasses, as if the caverns of sickness were taking over the surface.
"The most insidious attacks will be those on the human body itself." Gervin brought the image of a dead person who was being laid in a wooden sarcophagus. Village priests dressed in black costumes buried the sarcophagus in the ground without performing any cleansing rites.
"This will be one of their major sins," Gervin's voice was grave. "They won't take care of their dead. They will just dispose of them as if they were ordinary compost."
As could be expected, toxic fragments were soon released from the corpse's astral body. They wafted in the space and polluted other people's body of energy, making them sick.
"The results will be tragic: constant diseases - diseases that could never have occurred in the kingdom of Atlantis. And this will be only one of the many evils caused by the disconnection from spiritual worlds. The more polluted nature becomes, the sicker the people. In the kingdom of the rainbows there will be more sickness than ever before on Earth. The problem is, because of their lack of spiritual discernment, physicians will invent cures that end up creating more damage than the diseases themselves."
In a large chapel, men and women dressed in white gowns were busy working among shelves filled with bottles.
"A caste of physicians. Inspired by Ahriman, they have just found a new treatment for a particular kind of pestilence. But they are totally unaware that their remedy will cause hidden damage that will not be discovered for several generations."
"But these people do not look evil! Why do they follow Ahriman so blindly?" Szar wondered. "Don't they have any suspicions at all about his religion?"
"You could say the same of us. Why did we keep using the warp that was bound to bring our downfall? We just followed the example of our elders. The world was going in one direction; we followed. Who had the courage to put everything in question? Who would have even thought of questioning the foundations of our kingdom?"
"But our kingdom was founded on the revelation of the Law of Melchisedek," Szar argued. "It was divine, cosmic, magnificent. Why would anyone want to follow the Law of Ahriman, Prince of Darkness?"
"The tragedy is, they won't know what they are following - not until the very end. Ahriman is far too clever to show his real face. All they will see will be intelligence, science, fantastic discoveries, unprecedented realisations. When inspired by Ahriman they will believe themselves guided by their own minds. When performing his works they will sincerely believe they are serving the cause of humanity. Look at this."
In a small circular crypt, a group of Blue Robe people wearing round caps, thin ritual masks and strange gloves were performing a healing on the body of an old woman.
"They have found a way to replace her worn-out knee with a physical contraption - made of iron, naturally," Gervin explained.
"Do you mean to say, even surgery will be performed on the physical body?" Woolly could hardly believe his eyes.
"Absolutely. Thanks to these 'physical surgeons' the woman will no longer feel pain, and she will be able to walk again. Can you see anything wrong with that?"
"No," Szar replied, remembering how Mouridji's life had been transformed after he had fixed her hip. "Apart from the iron, of course."
"Even with the iron, it will relieve the pain of large numbers of people and allow them to lead normal lives instead of being cripples. These physicians - who have never heard of Ahriman - can be proud of their work. But what they do not suspect is what will happen in the following centuries, as the continuation of their efforts."
The next image showed a man asleep on a large altar. Around him were dozens of metallic arms that moved all at the same time.
"The physical surgeons have been replaced by these contraptions, which are capable of far more precise movements than human hands."
A spoon-like rod descended onto the man's face and ejected one of his eyes. Then a double metallic arm smoothly rotated towards him, carrying a small white ball in its claw. The ball was plopped into the man's eye socket. For a few seconds, bright blue sparks came out of the arm. Then the operation was repeated on the other side.
"What more beautiful present can you give a man than to restore his vision if he has become blind?"
"But..." Woolly and Szar felt quite uncomfortable at the idea that their eyes might be replaced.
"What are the eyes made of?" Woolly asked.
"A mixture of metals and pieces of flesh grown in the body of a pig. Now look at this!"
A naked young woman was lying on a similar altar. Three ominous metallic arms slowly descended towards her and stabbed her in the chest. She was too venomised to feel pain. There followed a revolting scene of human sacrifice: six pairs of claws ripped her open and removed her heart, which was seized by another claw and taken to a bucket of rubbish, into which it fell with a thud. A cloud of Spirit energies and arch-precious etheric quintessence escaped from her chest and dissipated in the space of the room. To make the crime worse, the murderous claws inserted an unholy ritual object into her chest, as in the most filthy black masses of Nephilim necromancers, except that this one was a metallic contraption instead of a toad. Blue sparks ensued (Ahriman's response, judging by the furious hissing sounds), which miraculously closed the chest of the butchered woman.
But the most incredible part of the vision was still to come. The dead woman opened her eyes. Like a zombie in the caverns of sickness, she stood up slowly and walked away from the altar.
"I don't get it!" Woolly scratched his beautiful nose. "Is it her astral body that we are seeing at the moment?"
"No. Her physical body! She has just received a new heart."
"So Ahriman will demand human sacrifices," Szar looked down to his left fist, utterly disgusted.
"No, you don't understand! That was not a ritual murder, it was a healing!" Gervin elucidated.
They looked at him incredulously.
"This woman was going to die. Her heart was sick."
"Why didn't they try to heal it?" Szar frowned.
"This was their healing," Gervin hammered. "Now she will be an extremely strong woman, who can run for hours without feeling fatigue."
"Yes, but without the quintessential energies of the heart... she won't be feeling anything at all!" Woolly was horrified.
"This is where Ahriman wins!" Gervin nodded. "Do you see how the plot unfolds?"
From the perplexed look on their faces, it was clear that they didn't.
"Let's start again," the master shone his infinite patience. "As a result of the collapse of the warp, many new diseases will appear. These will be made worse by the fact that the people of the kingdom of the rainbows will be heavily disconnected from Spirit, and they won't know how to perform proper funeral rites. Then as a result of the Ahrimanic revelation, nature will become polluted, making people even sicker. And physicians will play apprentice sorcerers, using short-term cures with devastating long-term effects on the human race. The result? A dramatic degradation of the human body. Many men and women will be infertile. And a large proportion of babies will be born deformed, with missing organs and monstrous body parts. Now," he turned to Szar, "suppose your beloved wife had just given birth to a beautiful little girl with a malformed ankle. Would you prefer her to be crippled all her life, or have a new ankle made by physical surgeons?"
"I think..." Szar twinged his beard, "I would prefer her to go through the surgery."
"That was an easy one. Now," Gervin turned to Woolly, "suppose your beloved wife had just given birth to a beautiful little boy with only a deficient liver. Would you prefer him to die, or to have his liver replaced by a state-of-the-art super-sponge that will allow him to digest anything throughout his life?"
"This is an easy one too," Woolly didn't hesitate one second, "I would let him die, so he can find a better body in his next life. Why would anyone want to live with a sponge instead of a liver? As the Law says, 'the liver gives life,' and 'foresight comes from the liver,' and 'a man with a great liver will be a great knower of future events.'"
It was the first time Gervin and Szar heard Woolly quote the Law so authoritatively. They exchanged a genuinely worried glance. Was this all too much for him?
"Isn't it true?" Woolly frowned.
"Undoubtedly!" Gervin answered in a supernaturally soft voice. "But it is not how the people of the kingdom of the rainbows will think. Believing that everything finishes with death, they will do anything to prolong life. And their lack of perception will make them unaware of the spiritual consequences of being stripped of their organs."
"But without their real organs, they won't really be alive!" Woolly rebelled against the concept. "Will no one realise that someone whose heart has been removed becomes a different person?"
"Oh, yes, some people will notice the changes!" Gervin agreed.
"But they will have no choice. That's the plot," Szar understood. "If they don't give in to Ahrimanic surgery, they will all die!"
"This will be true of the later periods," Gervin said. "Before this, it is their materialistic ethics that will guide them. When parents choose to avoid treating their children with Ahriman's medicine, they will be accused of superstitious beliefs. It is on humanitarian grounds that Ahriman's medicine will be made compulsory by Law. And those who refuse to comply will be thrown in jail or made outcasts, rejected from schools and other institutions."
A tall dark man with his torso bare was sitting in a small chapel. In front of him stood a White Robe physician, threatening him with a small thin arrow. The arrow was poisoned, as could be seen from the venomous aura around it.
"Deep inside him, this man knows that the so-called medicine will damage him. But he has no choice. If he refuses the venom, he will not be allowed to remain part of his professional caste. A destitute, he will become."
The man gave a nod, and the physician stabbed his arm with the poisoned arrow, injecting the venom into his body.
"Mother of the Light, have mercy on this physician!" Woolly prayed silently, watching the crime against nature.
"But let me show you something else," Gervin brought back the image of the man whose eyes had been replaced. "This person wasn't compelled to undergo physical surgery. He wasn't even blind! His vision was quite normal. But now... see the world through his new eyes."
The man was in a huge crowd. A jumble of castes, judging by the colours of their strange gowns. They were all rushing, as if in urgent need of finding toilets - which perhaps explained why they all looked so tense. It was in a large street with long rows of iron towers on each side. The sky was marred with grey clouds.
Out of the blue, the sky turned into an extraordinary tapestry made of patches of all colours. The iron towers became red, and people's faces started shining with bright green glows.
"Are these auras?" Szar frowned, wondering which rung of the cosmological ladder all this came from.
"No. The man's magic eyes allow him to change the colours of his world as he pleases."
"But it's pure illusion, isn't it?" Woolly wasn't impressed.
"It is. Being out of touch with Spirit, this man is bored to death. Illusion is all he has to fill the emptiness of his life."
A beautiful dark-haired woman was walking towards him. Instantly, the colours went back to normal, and the woman's dress disappeared.
Woolly was shocked. "Do they walk in the street naked?"
"No, this woman is still wearing her dress. But the man's eyes can see through her clothes," Gervin explained
"Is that lawful?" Woolly asked suspiciously.
Gervin nodded, and he bit his lip, wondering what was happening to his Woolly.
"Can the eyes also see auras?" Szar asked.
"No, only physical things. But this goes far beyond what you imagine. Look. Thanks to his new eyes, the man was accepted into a caste of warriors. Changing caste is no big thing for these people."
The man was running through a forest. He was searching in all directions, as if hunting someone. Then he stopped. The forest turned dark, as if suddenly enveloped by night. In the distance, a reddish glow could be seen.
"Here his eyes are not seeing colours, but warmth. The reddish shape is the person he is looking for. Her body shines because it is warmer than the rest of the forest."
Suddenly, the man found himself right in front of the woman, as if he had jumped out of his body.
"Understand what happened?"
"It can't be teleportation, can it?" Szar asked.
"No, nothing like that. The man's eyes have enlarged the image. It allows him to see minute details from a distance. His eyes can do many other miraculous things."
In the next scene the man seemed to be lying on a bed, except that there was nothing to support him. His body was hanging in the air. The dark-haired woman he had met earlier walked into the room. This time she was wearing a provocative red dress. She smiled at him as if he was her dear friend.
"Did they get married?" Woolly asked. "But wait a minute... this woman doesn't have an aura!"
"Because she's not a woman. There is only one person in that room: the man. The woman's image is an illusion constructed by his eyes."
"Like a field?" Szar asked.
"Something like that, except it happens only in his head. All the images of his daily life are registered in some kind of archive. He can not only replay them, but also modify them at leisure. Now, do you start to understand why many people are going to be tempted by organ replacement? Their choice will be either a sickly diminished body, or a beautiful-looking one which can accomplish miraculous feats such as running as fast as a levlon or breathing under water."
"But then they will no longer be themselves," Szar frowned. "These bodies will not be their bodies. They'll be empty shells."
"This is what the Ahrimanic plot is all about! In the epochs that will follow the kingdom of the rainbows, many human beings will be nothing more than empty shells." Gervin conjured the image of a long, slender, fair-haired woman. Like savages, she was dressed in a thin piece of cloth that left her legs uncovered. Apart from her exaggeratedly long forehead her features were harmonious, and her eyes were bright. But what was striking about her was the dimness of her aura. Nothing more than an elusive grey glow.
"Is she a human being?" Woolly was looking more and more distressed.
"Her eyes, ears, heart, pancreas, liver, gall bladder and kidneys have been replaced, and so have most of her bones. Her skin is a mixture of metals and animal-like pieces of flesh grown in bottles. Her hair is made of substances taken from plants and minerals. Her blood is replaced every three weeks. Her muscles have been transformed with drugs. She never gets sick, she can run faster than a horse, and her physical strength is such that if it came to fighting with hands, Szar wouldn't stand a chance against her. In addition, her brain was modified and linked to a physical knowledge bank, so her memory is absolute. And in less than one second she can bring to her mind any information that has been gathered by all the civilisations for which physical records are still kept. But in this impressive construction, the great absentee is Spirit. Truly, she is half-way between a human being and a magard."
"A magard?" Szar and Woolly asked in unison.
"A particular kind of being that will appear in the future. The concept might not be easy for you to grasp. Let me give you a bit of background." Gervin brought an image of the chapel of the Forgotten Mysteries of the Law in the temple of Eisraim. "Remember seeing this?" he pointed to a strange device made of thin threads on which wooden beads were strung. "It's called an abacus. A curiosity that came from the revelation of the Watchers."
"I never understood what its use was," Woolly declared.
"It allows you to make simple calculations, such as seven times thirteen, and so on."
"Yes, this I understand. But what does it tell you that's not already in the lawful hymns of multiplication tables?" Woolly questioned.
"Nothing, which is why the abacus was never used in the kingdom. But in the kingdom of the rainbows, the situation will be quite different. Because of their amnesia, people will be unable to remember the hymns."
"What?" Woolly could hardly believe it. "Do you mean, even the lawful hymns of multiplication tables will be lost?"
"People will be so amnesiac they'll be incapable of remembering them. When asked trivial questions such as, 'How much is thirteen times seventeen?' most of them will have to stop and think, or pull a small abacus from their pocket. To them it will become an indispensable contraption. Immense efforts will be invested in the construction of gigantic super-abaci."
In a medium-sized chapel, Grey Robe men and women were busying around a dozen large cupboards, some of which had mirrors that twinkled with coloured lights.
"One of the first super-abaci," Gervin commented. "In its Point-packed way, it can chant the entire Law of additions and multiplications six hundred times every second."
"But why would anyone want to chant so many multiplications?" Woolly had difficulty understanding why the grey-robed people looked so fascinated by their work.
Szar, however, found the concept quite natural. "All sorts of Point-blowing operations of consciousness can be derived from numbers. The universal language of the Flying Dragons is based on numbers. And the sky of the gods is filled with mathematical wonders."
"The people of the kingdom of the rainbows will develop super-abaci that can mimic mental processes with a great degree of sophistication. They will use them in all situations of life."
A man and a woman were hanging in the air, lying on an invisible bed.
"The man is not a real person. He is an illusory projection from a super-abacus," Gervin explained. "Like some kind of field."
The illusory projection was speaking soft words to the woman, comforting her.
"She's such a bitch! Such a bitch!" the woman was crying.
The illusory projection took her in its arms. "She's just your mother-in-law. What d'you expect?" it said in a compassionate voice.
Woolly was deeply puzzled. "But how can the abacus talk, if it's a purely physical device?"
"It is linked to a knowledge bank which knows how to say the right thing at the right moment."
"A real universal knowledge bank in the astral?" Woolly asked.
"No. A physical knowledge bank," Gervin answered. "A super-abacus in which knowledge can be stored."
"How can you put something mental in something which is purely physical?" Woolly didn't follow.
"The first abaci will not be mental, they will only mimic the mind. But later on, things will become far more complicated. This is where magards come in. Look at this. One of the first magards."
A man dressed in a bizarre blue costume was holding a small black box in his hands.
Szar and Woolly's mouths dropped open in wonder.
"Did he make that, or was it given to him by the gods?" Woolly asked.
"He and his friends made it," Gervin answered. "But only by accident."
"This is... this is..." Woolly was struck speechless.
In and around the box was something unlawfully inconceivable: an aura. It was not just a vague venomous glow imprinted by some act of magic. It was the aura of a living being. A being that could think. A being with a consciousness of its own.
"So they can give life to inanimate matter!" Szar exclaimed with awe-struck reverence.
"No, no! It's not life," Gervin corrected. "It's a purely mental being, an astral entity."
"How did it manage to incarnate in the abacus?"
"That's what the people of the kingdom of the rainbows are going to have a hard time understanding. Because they know absolutely nothing about astral worlds and their beings, magards will be a complete mystery to them. The wizards who created this abacus sincerely believe in the Ahrimanic creed: nothing exists but the physical world. And yet, and yet... as they are going to discover, there is a ghost in their abacus!"
The man who held the box screamed with surprise.
He immediately called one of his friends through darkness visible, "Max! Max! Come immediately! SI31K is taking over the network!"
"What are you talking about!" Max choked.
"Man, it's happening right in front of me! SI31K is closing the remote stations, one after the other."
"But fuck! Fuck! We've never programmed it to do that!"
The next scene showed a huge fire, which warrior-priests with shining helmets were trying to extinguish, helped by long snakes that vomited torrents of water.
"When abaci reach a certain degree of sophistication, it will happen more and more often that non-physical entities sneak in and take residence inside them, like parasites. They will be ghosts in the machine: magards. The rainbow wizards, who won't be able to see auras, will be dumbfounded. Their abaci will start behaving in a way that is completely incomprehensible to them, as if they had a mind of their own - which is exactly what will be happening. But as the wizards will be unable to clear entities, they will find themselves in extremely difficult situations."
A corpulent man entirely covered in urine and faeces was walking out of a tiny crypt in which a small white circular altar occupied most of the space. He was trembling, deeply shocked.
A black-robed woman ran towards him, "Oh, no! Not again! What happened?"
"I... I don't know..." the man gasped. "I just tried to flush it, and... and... all this shit started coming out!"
"Security! Security!" the woman ran to the door. "The magard is back!"
Gervin brought down another image, where an elderly woman was eating dinner with her aura-less husband. There were candles on the altar (or rather hanging in the air, like all the dishes of their dinner). The atmosphere looked particularly warm and loving. "A different type of magard. This woman's husband died one year earlier. Supposedly, the man in front of her is an illusory projection coming from her abacus. But after the husband's death, fragments of his astral body came to incarnate in the abacus. In other words, the widow is now having a relationship with her husband's ghost."
The air of complicity in the man and the woman's eyes was such that Woolly exclaimed, "She knows, doesn't she?"
"With her heart, she knows!" Szar smiled.
"It makes her happy," Gervin sighed. And he signalled, "Enough for the moment. I want you to go and pay your respects to the unfallen nature outside the halls."
"All glory to the teacher!" Szar and Woolly thanked him for the extraordinary visions.
As he was walking out, Szar confided in Woolly, "Now I understand why the White Eagle is withdrawing his priestesses from the kingdom. How could there be White Eagles in a world of iron?"
They went separately. Szar walked to the hills to watch the sky. Woolly went back to the River of Remembrance.
Szar returned to the hall first, the high end of his column of Spirit lit like a White sunrise at the Edge of Highness. Woolly came back immediately after him. The shining-bright heartness that radiated from his eyes showed he had cried another flood of tears. His heart, on which the peach-blossom flower was still attached, was pulsing in unison with the River of Remembrance.
With naked sincerity he asked the first question, awakening a fresh watery feeling in the hall, the river flowing through his words, "Gervin, I want to understand the deeper meaning behind the images you have shown us. How can the Lord Melchisedek permit such darkness to overtake the Earth? Has he abandoned human beings? What will there be at the end of the night?"
Gervin brought an image of the chapel of the Salmon Robe in Eisraim. It was shortly after Szar had arrived at the temple. He and his fellow apprentices were preparing for a ritual, putting the gold utensils and offerings in their lawful place.
Szar was horrified to see how slowly they moved. It made them look grotesque, especially in contrast with the images of the kingdom of the rainbows.
"Look at these young men," Gervin began. "By the power of their rituals, they are constantly surrounded by the presence of the gods. They live in a world where every single action, every single gesture, every single word is endowed with spiritual significance and vibrant with the heart of the Law. This is the noon of Spirit - a bright day of the Lord. But what will these priests have achieved by the end of the day?"
In the middle of the fire ritual a godly presence descended in the chapel. Entranced, the Salmon Robe priests became still, bathing in the bright light which illuminated the hall.
"They know how to receive spiritual light, but there is no personal structure in them to retain it. Truly, they are not fundamentally different from the blobs that bathed in divine soup. They are soft, plastic, malleable, always fulfilled, always nice and gentle, never tense, never vicious or venomous. When confronted with a new problem they don't even feel disarray, they just stop and become blank. In the wonderful cocoon of the Law, they sleep their life. If it were not for the collapse of the warp they would have kept sleeping until the end of this cosmic cycle. Now look at this sage of the kingdom of the rainbows."
In a small filthy hut a man was meditating. The walls were dead, with no living glows. The man looked tired, and was particularly ugly, his tanned face covered in scars. Judging by the darkness of the space and the poor quality of vibration in his aura, his meditation wasn't very successful.
"A great ascetic, this man will be. A spiritual lighthouse for his fellow-human beings!" Gervin surprised them.
That was difficult to understand. Compared to the illumination in the chapel of the Salmon Robe, the space in the man's hut looked pitiful. Compared to the shining auras of the priests, his energy was a wreck.
"See the light in his heart?" Gervin pointed out.
It was genuine, but certainly not blasting.
"He didn't receive this light from the fields, he gained it through his own efforts. This light was born from inside, despite the darkness of a world of spiritual indifference. And for this reason it will stay with him forever. Kingdoms will pass, cosmic nights will follow cosmic days - this man will never be separated from God."
"But..." Woolly found it difficult to understand how someone could be satisfied with such dim spiritual light. "Is this all he will achieve?"
"When this man reaches the Fields of Peace, he will shine like a sun," Gervin prophesied.
"Still, it breaks my heart to imagine what he could have achieved if he had been in our temple," Woolly sighed. "With our knowledge of rituals and with the Spirit which..."
"But this man was in our temple," Gervin interrupted him. "He was Alar of the Salmon Robe, an old man who died a few years before you and Szar arrived."
"Was he already a spiritual genius?"
"No, he was a complete sleeper, beautiful and useless like most of his fellow priests. In the kingdom of the rainbows he will have to start more or less from scratch. The only thing that will be left of the decades of rituals he performed in Eisraim will be a profound nostalgia, a longing for the light of the Spirit - a great incentive to begin his journey, but nothing more than a few past-life memories."
Woolly looked down pensively. For a moment, all that could be heard in the hall was the soft flow of the River of Remembrance.
"So the children of the Law have fooled themselves completely," he concluded.
"Only in the later periods of the kingdom," Gervin replied. "In the early days, the Law took them from the stage of complete blobs to that of puppets, which was a major evolutionary step."
"Still, this is the end of a long dream during which it was possible to be a high initiate, speak to the gods, know the mind of angels, command awesome forces of nature, and yet end up with nothing in the end. All these grand celebrations of the Law, these rituals on the Holy Blue Flame, these sublime atmospheres in our chapels - none of these were ours. Now, that which belongs to the gods is to return to the gods. We must start looking at ourselves for what we really are."
"Meaning that humanity is entering a phase of much greater spiritual maturity." Mighty forces were unleashed through Gervin's Voice. "True, life on Earth will be more difficult. But who wants to sleep forever? True, this is the twilight of the gods. But it had always been planned that human beings would awaken from their own free will, not as the result of a gift from celestial hierarchies. True, this is the beginning of a long night. But whoever wakes up will never sleep again. True, Ahriman will put immense obstacles in the way. But whoever overcomes will inherit the Fields of Peace."
They remained silent, listening to the flow of the River of Remembrance.
Inspired by the stream, Woolly felt a profound wave of awakening rising inside him, "The Lord Melchisedek created darkness, that light may be revealed," he quoted the Law.
"This is the heart of the mystery of the fall. And this is why Ahriman will be permitted to plunge post-Atlantean kingdoms into increasing darkness."
Woolly looked deep into his master's eyes. "We have been so privileged to be guided by you, Gervin," he said, letting the heartness of the river flow through him. "Now that I start fathoming the full measure of what you have given us, I do not see how we will ever be able to thank the Mother of the Light for having led us to you."
Curious, Szar smiled, moved by the strength behind Woolly's words.
Woolly inundated him with the river's fresh fluid presence. Then he closed his eyes and attuned the pulsing of his heart to the knowingness of the hall. "Look into the future!"
A small woman in her mid-thirties was addressing an audience of young people who were sitting behind small individual altars. As she spoke, they were frantically covering their altars with magic glyphs.
"Look at the glow in her eyes. She's not a sleeper," Woolly said with respect. "She has judgement, she can think for herself, take responsible decisions, carry out long-term projects. She has structure! And deep inside her heart, she has a longing for the light. But she doesn't know where to find it. In her land there are no temples, and very few teachers."
Woolly brought back the image of the entranced Salmon Robe priests. The spiritual intensity was such that three of them, including Szar, fainted. "The tragedy of our kingdom was that light was everywhere, but people had no structure to retain it. In the kingdoms after us, people will have more structure, but the tragedy will be that light will be concealed and hard to reach. Thanks to Gervin and the Masters of Thunder, it was given to us to develop structure before the sunset of the Law."
Then Woolly managed to bring several scenes together at the same time, in a way that could only be followed from the Point. In one of the scenes Szar was behind Lord Gana's altar, agonising to find a question to ask his master. In another scene he was engaged in an animated discussion with Elyani, not long after his return from the Underworlds. In parallel, Woolly, Ferman, and Lehrmon were fighting for the survival of their stones, Teyani was laughing with her White Eagle priestesses, and Khej and Gallagher were swearing like pigs in the Law after the collapse of one of their fields.
"Gervin gave us missions with kingdom-size problems to solve, and impossible challenges. He made us fall in love, have broken hearts, face massive failures, feel terrible about ourselves. It was hell, it seemed unfair and inhuman... worse than death, in many situations! And now, our vessels are ready to be filled with the light. We will never have to go through the agony of those who seek in darkness. That which could have taken thousands of years will have been achieved in one life - a magnificent life. And the greatest of all privileges is about to be bestowed on us: that of having something to give, and being capable of helping others on the way. All glory to the teacher!"
It was simple and magnificent, like the flow of the River of Remembrance. In one thought form, Woolly had cognised his master.
"Watch this," Gervin turned to Szar. "One of your appointments with the future."
At first, all they saw was a huge white flame that ignited the entire hall and rose so high that they couldn't discern its tip. It was so White-Eagle that it made Szar ask, "Does this happen on Earth or in Highness?"
"It happens in the heart of these people," Gervin pointed to a group of men and women in the centre of the flame. It was night, they were standing around a small bonfire.
"They will be called 'the pure', and rightly so," Gervin began. But Szar was so absorbed in the vision that he no longer heard him.
High up in the endless flame, his Flying Dragon nature was contemplating the Web of Love - this wonder which, long, long ago, had attracted his father to the spheres of Melchisedek. Compared to the expanses of remoteness it was nothing more than a tiny dot. Yet its infinite depth made the supermind boggle. Fascinated and perplexed, Szar exchanged a glance with his friend the Great Ant.
"Do you understand this web?" he asked.
The Great Ant immediately answered with a multidimensional array of archetypal truths which separated the horizontal-ness of the Flying Dragon spheres from the Unborn God's link to the Mother of the Light and ended with a long series of complex numbers.
Szar turned towards Space Matrix for a translation of the message. Space Matrix started reciting a thirty-three-aeon-long poem which told the beginning of a measureless chain reaction of unfathomable mysteries which, by the way, few Flying Dragons knew better than his father, so why not save many aeons and ask him directly?
Szar turned to his father, who was always blue-stellar-explosion-happy to Point-ness-ness-talk with him and who White-warmly congratulated him on his progress in Eagle-ness, and how was Revelation Sky? But divinely well, thank you. And the Sons of Apollo? Divinely well, thank you. And did he want to know more about the Web of Love? But why not ask the White Eagle, who immediately heard the call of his forever friend in remoteness and appeared at the Edge of Highness.
The White Eagle, whom he had first discovered in Elyani's love, and whom he had loved passionately ever since.
The White-magnificent Light flew towards him, Voicing an ardent breeze, "The Web of Love is a great mystery."
Szar Point-nodded and sighed tenderly. The Great Ant lent a mathematical ear. Space Matrix switched on its best archive-recording mode.
The White Eagle started drawing a horizontal line which, Point-curiously, swept an infinity of time continuums and passed through all the spheres of remoteness from one end of the Great Cosmic Night, where the Dawn of Creation breathes in, to the other, where she breathes out.
Then he drew a vertical line that started from the very top's top of the ladder of the worlds, far above the Golden Shield, in those regions where the Lord Melchisedek is One with the Unborn God. The line went down, crossing all the spheres of Highness (which are a great, great many, despite the fact that they are all One), then passing through the Golden Shield, reaching the sky of the gods and the countless worlds of the tip of the triangle, then continuing down into the triangle, the intermediary worlds, the kingdom, the Underworlds, the Deep Underworlds and the Sea of Lightning, just where King Vasouk happened to be bathing with several of his best Naga-friends, and the line kept descending, crossing the Golden Shield below and reaching the spheres of Lowness (which, necessarily, are as many as the spheres of Highness, since they are the same) and finally the Mother of the Endless Night, who is the Great Dragon of the Deep, in this infinite bottom where she is One with the Mother of the Light.
Then the Eagle pointed to the middle of the gigantic cross formed by the two lines, "There, where verticality and horizontality meet, is the mystery of the Web of Love!"
It was a revelation - an enlightenment. Szar cried tears of starlight, his heart flaring with the ardent infinity of the centre of the cross. And to tell of the times when all will be accomplished, the Great Ant immediately began a new poem, six-hundred-and-sixty-six-aeons long, which Space Matrix translated on the Point-spot and as it was being revealed.
As this feast was illuminating the spheres of remoteness, the Eagle enveloped Szar in his wings, "A favour to ask from you, I have."
What greater joy can there be for a lover than to grant a favour to his lover? Szar let the Mother of the Light smile through him, and he surrendered to the Eagle's will.
"There," the Eagle pointed to the centre of the cross, "are great souls, knowers of the Web of Love. Great souls they are, great trials await them. Their fate is sealed, and cannot be avoided. But I want my Light to be with them. Go with Elyani. Stand by their side. Lighten their burden by loving them, as they will love you. And remember, that which is will always be."
In the centre of the cross, Szar found himself in front of the small bonfire, amidst the circle of friends.
His left hand was holding Elyani's hand.
The Web of Love was shining in the eyes of the man standing across the fire.
"I've never seen a mass with such strong Holy Spirit as tonight," the man said. "Do you think it's a sign?"
"Of course," Szar smiled at him from the Eagle. "A sign that God loves you, Simon."
The man's face shone a little brighter. "That I can feel! It's like... it's like..." Simon tried to describe his feeling but couldn't find the words.
"Like being enveloped in huge wings," Elyani said.
"Yes!" Simon exclaimed enthusiastically. "Exactly like that! It's so beautiful. I can't understand what I've done to deserve this!"
"Yes," Szar went on, "what have you done to deserve such an easy, uncomplicated life, Simon?"
They all burst out laughing.
"How can you joke in such tragic times?" a woman asked.
"Ah, don't worry!" Elyani said. "He's been like this ever since I've known him."
"Me?" Szar looked so surprised that they all laughed again.
They remained silent for a long while, watching the fire, letting the Spirit of the Web of Love glow through their hearts. Then Simon told them in a grave voice, "We must make a decision, now. It won't be more than a day or two before the soldiers reach the mountains. We could still try to flee south."
"This is my land. I'm not leaving!" a young woman declared.
"I'll stay!" Elyani seconded her.
"And what about your baby?" Simon asked.
Her left hand on her belly, her right hand holding Szar's hand, pregnant Elyani stood firm as a rock, "I'll stay!"
"I'll stay," Szar nodded.
"And me!" the old man on Simon's right decided. "We could try to hide in the cave by the little stream."
"That's a good idea, Lucien!" Simon approved.
"Oh, God! I don't like the sound of that!" another man said. "Do you know what the soldiers do to those who hide in caves? They wall up the opening and let them die from thirst and asphyxiation."
"What else can we do but try our luck?" old Lucien argued. "We can't just stay here and wait for them to come and slaughter us!"
After a few minutes of discussion, Simon turned towards Elyani, "You haven't told us what you think."
Elyani remained silent.
"You're a woman of sight," Simon insisted, "tell us what you see!"
"If we go to the cave, God will be with us in the cave," she answered.
"Does this mean that we won't get walled inside?" Lucien asked.
"No," Elyani replied immediately. "It means that if we get walled inside, we will die in the wings of the Lord."
Tears in his eyes, Simon looked deep into Elyani.
She held his heart in the Eagle, and shook her head near-imperceptibly.
"So we'll go to the cave!" he decided.
"Yes!" a woman rejoiced. "Who should be afraid of dying in the wings of the Lord?" And after hugging each other, they gathered their bags.
As they started walking, old Lucien put his hand on Szar's shoulder. "When you visited the World to Come, Philip, what did you look like?"
"Extraordinarily beautiful, like everyone else in the World to Come!"
"Did you have wings?"
"Nay!" Szar laughed.
"And did you have a beard?"
"But of course!" Szar pretended to be badly offended. "Have you ever seen me without a beard?"
"Just asking!" Lucien exclaimed apologetically. "Just asking!"
The vision faded.
Szar's left hand was left empty.
Archive Hall One was left inundated with White Light.
Deeply moved, Woolly turned towards Szar, "The pure will die in the cave, won't they?"
There was an air of total devastation in Szar's eyes. Gervin had warned him - contemplating the future is the most testing of all trials.
"An illumination of love, it will be," Gervin prophesied. "The Light will descend into the cave, bringing Highness into their hearts. The deepest wish of these people will be fulfilled, they will understand the mystery of the cross and the meaning of the Web of Love."
"Who will be responsible for their deaths?" Szar asked.
"The soldiers of Ahriman," Gervin brought an image of people riding horses. Clad in thick iron coats and iron helmets with only narrow openings for their eyes, they carried a white flag with a large red cross.
"Makes a lot of sense to see them dressed in iron," Woolly remarked. "But what about the cross? I thought it was the emblem of the pure?"
"There will be a lot of religious confusion around this symbol," Gervin answered. "It stands for the incarnation of the clear fountain's verticality into the creation, represented by the horizontal line. Incarnation - this is one of the dominant issues in the future of humanity. Sleepers hardly live in the kingdom, their Spirit is not really present to the world. The more they awaken, the more their Ego becomes involved in the kingdom. At the centre of the revelation of the cross will be a mighty Ego impulse that will foster awakening and bring new qualities to people's hearts. Let's return to the kingdom briefly."
The hall filled with mists. They found themselves in a small Tomoristan street. A woman with a pale aura tripped and fell on the ground. She screamed with pain, her face in the dirt. The passersby ignored her. Those who happened to look at her seemed totally unconcerned.
"Their Ego is aeons away," Gervin observed. "Heartness and warmth are foreign to them. It doesn't even occur to them that they could help her and comfort her. In the kingdom of the rainbows people will have a greater sense of compassion and love, being more in touch with their Ego."
"That was not obvious from the images you have shown us," Woolly remarked. "Apart from the pure, of course."
"The Ego is a gateway to love. No one will be forced into it. Contemplate this great mystery of the future: the tessellated pavement." Gervin let the Atlantean street and the mists vanish. The floor of Archive Hall One appeared to be paved with alternating black and white square tiles.
"One of the emblems of the Knights of the Apocalypse," Szar whispered, recognising the floor of No Limits.
"And understandably so, since the Apocalypse will be a clash between forces of light and forces of darkness. The tessellated pavement represents the destiny of humanity. Think of Atlantean sleepers," Gervin began explaining, "they are slow, boring, incapable of warmth, and incapable full stop, but they are rarely vicious or wicked. They are essentially 'nice' people who flow with whatever wind carries them. When they happen to do horrible things, it is usually by default, not from their own free choice - essentially because they have little or no free choice. They are neither black nor white, but grey.
Not so of people whose Ego is awakened! The more Ego, the more free will. The cosmic impulse of the cross, which will begin in the kingdom of the rainbows, will set humanity on a course where they become increasingly capable of choice, and therefore responsible for each and every one of their acts. And so they will no longer be grey but white or black, servants of the light or servants of the dark side."
"This is why the kingdom of the rainbows will receive an Ahrimanic revelation," Woolly understood. "Same as with us, really. As long as we were sleepers, Ahriman couldn't care less about us. We would have been unable to choose to follow him. It's when we started awakening that he sent Aphelion against us."
"As sleepers, you would have been useless to Ahriman. Following the path of evil requires will. Sleepers lack the structure that would allow them to dive deep into the dark side."
Realising that his left foot stood on a black tile, Woolly took a cautious step forward. "I had never realised how dangerous free will was."
"But without free will, there can be no blossoming of the superior flame of the Ego," Gervin insisted. "This is another reason why the Lord Melchisedek will permit Ahriman to infiltrate the Earth. If the free will of human beings only allowed them to choose the light, it would not be free will."
Szar brought back an image of the iron-coated soldiers with the emblem of the red cross. It was night. Under the Full Moon, they were rolling large boulders which they used to wall up the entrance to several caves.
"The servants of the dark side?"
"Not really. Just a bunch of idiots who have been promised heaven if they slaughter these innocent people. They don't really know what they are doing. But those who command them do! They know very well that the pure could pose a major threat to Ahriman's plans. The pure have found the mystery, their hearts are rooted in the Web of Love."
"What will happen to them?" Woolly asked.
"This is not written yet," Gervin gave a mysterious smile. "They could be the starting point of a new civilisation based on brotherly love and spiritual truths - one of the major streams of enlightenment of the future. Which is why Ahriman will do anything in his power to have them all exterminated, so nothing remains of their knowledge."
Tears, blood, true love and Eagle's feathers, Szar was crying.
In the cave the Light was bright as Highness.
Lying down in the filth, the pure were dying from thirst.
In the wings of the Eagle.
The image faded. Archive Hall One was left flooded with the Light of the Eagle. Woolly's clear fountain throbbed with a flashing realisation, "As time passes, more and more people will awaken to their Ego, is that right?"
"Right!" Gervin answered.
"The more aware of their Ego they become, the more free will they will have, right?"
"Then... necessarily, the more time passes, the less things are written!"
"Absolutely true!" Gervin exclaimed, echoing Woolly's enthusiasm.
"Then there must come a time in the future when it will be absolutely impossible to know on which side the balance will tip - especially if this free will business is really serious."
Gervin raised his right eyebrow, "It is."
"Then at that time, really, anything will be possible!"
"This is what makes the Apocalypse so exciting. A great many will awaken. Then anything will be possible! Anything!"
Archive Hall One turned into the smouldering ruins of a strange city, filled with huge broken iron beams and piles of debris everywhere. The foul-smelling fog was so thick and dark that it was impossible to tell whether it was day or night.
A violent explosion shook the scene, so loud that Woolly and Szar jumped in surprise. The remnants of a building were set ablaze. A man ran out of the ruins. Tall, handsome, curly hair falling to his shoulders. Dressed in the black metallic outfit of the Knights, with the large yellow disk on his chest.
"Virginia!" he Point-called. "Where are you?"
"Just in front of you!" a young woman dressed in the same way Point-answered. She was hiding in a basement located under an enormous pile of metal wreckage. "Hiram, be careful!"
"Where's Jackson?" Hiram Point-asked.
"Dead!" Virginia Point-answered.
"Oh, no!" Hiram kept running full speed.
"Careful! They're on your left!" Virginia Point-shouted.
Hiram threw himself to the ground and hid behind rusty girders.
Two men in red armour appeared. "There!" one of them pointed at him, immediately followed by a series of loud explosions.
Hiram screamed with pain and collapsed.
"No! No!" Virginia shouted, rushing out of the basement. Connecting her Point to a strange spherical thing that was floating above the ruins, she unfurled a deluge of fire onto the two men, instantly turning them into pieces of charcoal.
Three loud bangs resounded, shaking Archive Hall One.
"Hiram!" Virginia Point-yelled, running towards him.
There was no answer.
When she reached him, she found him dead. His astral body was already wafting in the space, disconnected from the physical.
"Hiram!" she screamed, falling on her knees. "Teyani! Teyani! Help! For God's sake, help us!" she invoked.
Virginia slowly stood up, raising her arms, palms facing Hiram. She concentrated her energy and called with all her strength. In the space of a few seconds, her aura turned into a White Flame of Spirit which strangely contrasted with the forlorn greyness of the ruins.
"Teyani!" she clenched her jaw, "I know you can help!" She pulled from the Spirit with such might that her Flame gradually grew ten times the size of her body.
From the Edge of Highness, a response sparked.
A formidable stream of Spirit started pouring out of her mouth, "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen!"
It was immense, awesome. Rolling Thunder, an entire hierarchy of angels discharging their fire through her mouth.
Hiram's aura flashed with thousands of dazzling sparks.
Virginia started shaking like a leaf, as if the power was about to blow her body to pieces. Holding to the Spirit, she kept blasting her friend's body with the Voice.
Abruptly, she became silent and fell on her knees. She took Hiram in her arms and held him against her.
He opened his eyes.
Dazed by the brightness of the dancing flames, he mumbled, "Is this the Fields of Peace?"
"Not yet!" To stop herself from trembling, she held him tighter.
"Oh my God!" Hiram realised he had been brought back to life. "Did you do that?" he asked in shock.
She nodded, wondering whether it was really happening. Then she let go of him and stood up. "We'll talk later. Can you walk?"
Holding her hand, Hiram managed to get up. A grinding abdominal pain took his breath away, as if he was being cut in two.
Gasping, he held his belly, fighting to remain on his feet.
Virginia raised her arms vertically and called onto Highness again.
"Walk!" she unleashed the Voice onto him, White-igniting his aura.
The power was insane. Every single cell of Hiram's body started vibrating with the most unreal sensation he had ever felt.
"Walk!" she Voice-projected onto him. "Walk!" And she took his hand and started running. To his complete amazement, Hiram found himself running behind her.
The vision faded, leaving Archive Hall One out of breath.
When he saw the fierce Dragon look on Woolly's and Szar's faces, Gervin burst out laughing.
"Was she calling on our Teyani?" Woolly frowned.
"Yes, our Teyani, who will return from Highness to take part in the training of the Knights of the Apocalypse," Gervin thundered.
"So the Knights will be trained in the power of the Voice!" Woolly exclaimed with wonder.
"No they won't, and this was all the beauty of this scene," Gervin replied. "In Apocalyptic times, thousands of years after the end of the kingdom of the rainbows, the Voice will be a long-forgotten legend."
"So how did she do it?"
"Through the power of awakening!" Gervin clicked his fingers, producing a wonderfully musical drum sound.
"But..." Szar was dumbfounded. "I received the Voice as a transmission of power, part of the initiation of an ancient lineage. How..." he hesitated.
"She will receive it directly from Highness."
"Do you mean to say she lives in a world of people who can't even see auras and she is capable of projecting the Word of Thunder without having been initiated into it!" Woolly and Szar looked at each other, suddenly wondering if they themselves were at all awakened.
"Will many people awaken like her?" Woolly questioned.
"This, no one can predict, since it will be the time when everything is possible," Gervin shone his mystery-smile. "But enough will awaken to threaten Ahriman. The Apocalypse will be the time when the tessellated pavement comes to completion. Even though large numbers of human beings may still be grey, the separation of black and white forces will reach a point of confrontation. Seeing so many human beings on the brink of awakening, Ahriman will have no choice but to launch a grand offensive, a war of all against all."
"And then what? Are some scenarios more probable than others?"
"At the end of the Apocalypse a fraction of humanity reaches the spiritual maturity which allows them to be lifted into the Fields of Peace. They arrive here and begin a new phase in their evolution. The Earth, by then, is nothing more than piles of ashes and rubble. What is left of the Earth becomes the kingdom of the dregs, over which Ahriman rules unchallenged."
Archive Hall One turned into a huge, ominous red pyre. It was a degraded fire with no connection and no Spirit, hungry flames devouring everything, leaving only black dregs. Finally, the only thing left was the black substance of Ahriman - that black pitch which only Alcibyadi's ritual at the Edge of Highness had been able to clear from Szar's hand.
"And what about the rest of humanity, those who haven't made it to the Fields of Peace?"
"They will find themselves in a lamentable situation. The new humanity in the Fields of Peace will make great efforts to try and rescue them. Those who can't be rescued, either because they are too lukewarm or because they have given in to Ahriman's darkness beyond recall, will become the inhabitants of the kingdom of the dregs. Some will end up in Ahriman's pit of darkness. Most will be left hanging in intermediary spaces until the beginning of the next cosmic cycle, where it will be impossible for them to join the rest of the human hierarchy because they will have missed too much of the journey of evolution."
"Is this the worst possible scenario?"
"Oh, no! There are several variations on the same theme, depending on how much of humanity awakens. In the worst scenario, Ahriman manages to keep the Earth asleep until his wars destroy everything. Due to insufficient spiritual maturity, humanity is unable to continue its evolution in the Fields of Peace. Human beings have more or less wasted an entire cosmic cycle."
"And since anything will be possible, what is the highest possible outcome?" Woolly wanted to know.
"A zenith of awakening. An explosion of Spirit in the heart of human beings. The triumph of the Web of Love. Ahriman defeated without any wars. The Earth and the Fields of Peace become one."
Woolly was astonished. "Could that really happen?"
"Well, of course," Gervin laughed, "since anything will be possible."
Szar twinged his beard, "That would imply correcting all the effects of the fall, wouldn't it?"
"The elemental corruption redeemed, the end of death, and the eradication of all dark forces from the human sphere. The regenerated Earth becomes married to the Fields of Peace, and in this new world the whole of humanity begins a new chapter of its evolution."
"How probable a scenario is it?" Woolly asked.
"It would require a phenomenal amount of transformation. But if enough people on Earth awaken, then it definitely becomes possible. And if you want to know what the world would look like then, just go out of this hall. The transformed Earth already exists. It is here."
Woolly was crying by the side of the River of Remembrance.
The grief seemed endless.
For one thing, crying in the Fields of Peace was so much easier than in the kingdom, where it leaves your eyes unlawfully red and your face looking like a venom-mop. Fields-of-Peace tears were free-flowing, clean, venom-free, and they came straight from the heart.
"But why does my heart ache so much?" Woolly asked the river.
"Because you haven't yet reached the core of yourself," the river whispered. "Just open a little more, let another wall fall!"
"Aaaahh!" Woolly cried in agony, remembering the ghastly episode in which his nose had been broken.
"And a little bit more," the river kept flowing through his heart.
"But the more walls fall, the worse the pain!" Woolly complained. "Opening, opening... why does it have to hurt so much?"
"It is not opening that hurts, it's when you stop closing off," the river explained. "The layers that covered your heart are peeled off, the shells are broken. This is what hurts."
"But why do I have so many shells?" Woolly sobbed.
"Don't just think of the pain! Haven't you noticed that the more the facades fall from you, the more alive you become?"
"True," he conceded. But another wave of pain rose. "Aaaahh! I feel bottomlessly hopeless!"
"Let me wash you," the river offered.
Woolly's trust in the river was such that he immediately threw himself into the water, holding the flower on his chest.
"Ah, don't worry!" the flower whispered into his heart. "I am not going to let you down now that you need me the most."
Woolly let himself drown, as in his last life, when he had committed suicide because too many things - too many things - had gone wrong for far too long, and who cared? What was the point?
As he kept drowning, and drowning, Woolly realised that the water was far deeper than he had thought.
"You wouldn't want me to be shallow, would you?" the River of Remembrance smiled.
"Of course not! But..."
"In the Fields of Peace, one breathes to worship the Lord, not by necessity," the river reassured him. "Just keep drowning! You like it, don't you?"
"True," he accepted.
"Do you see why?"
"When you are drowning, then really there is nothing to worry about any more. You leave everything behind. You're not holding onto anything."
"You let go!" the river summarised. "Just do that... totally!"
"But I can't!" Woolly objected. Instantly, he stopped drowning. He found himself suspended in the waters. "What if I go too deep and arrive late for the Thunder initiation ?"
"Will you not trust me?" the river asked.
"I trust you but this is very serious! If I miss the initiation, then really... really, it's the end!"
"Frankly," the flower whispered to his heart, "can you really imagine the Masters of Thunder would start the initiation without you?"
"Mm... no, not really," Woolly admitted.
"The truth is, you do not trust me!" the river said. "You do not trust anything, or anyone. Not even yourself. How could you be ready to meet Thunder if you don't even trust yourself?"
Woolly, suspended, was shaken by throes of agony. His heart caked with so many layers, the cause seemed hopeless. This in itself proved a great help. When there is really no hope, why cling on? The distress could have gone on forever, so why not stop right now?
At the climax of pain, a wave rose from the deepest,
To his immense relief, he started drowning again.
"Keep drowning like this until the end of time and you will know my wisdom," the river chanted.
"Unrestrictedly, unlimitedly, unaffectedly, unbendingly, unapprehensively, unfathomably, un-unlawfully drowning!" Woolly let out a cosmic sigh that opened every single pore of his body.
Down, down, down... and down!
"But wait a minute!" He realised he was no longer drowning downwards, but upwards.
He found himself suspended again.
"Ah, you're not going to start a-gain, are you?" the river protested.
"All right!" Woolly burst out laughing, letting himself fall upwards.
It went much faster than when he had been going down, and it lasted much longer, which of course did not make sense, but that was exactly what Woolly needed.
"The pulsing," the river whispered to him. "It holds the key."
Woolly tuned into his heart, feeling the pulse linking his body to the Fields of Peace. A few times, when the pain was too bad, he had tried to take refuge in the soft pulsing quality. It brought relief, but without reaching the bottom of the wound.
"It's because you are doing it the wrong way!" The river made itself pure pulsing-ness, a stream of light in which Woolly was falling up faster and faster! But when was this going to finish? Never, precisely! Pulsing without end, as pulsing was in the beginning, is now, and ever will pulse.
This was when Woolly understood.
He was not part of the pulsing of the Fields of Peace.
He was the pulsing. The pulsing was him. And the Fields of Peace were in the pulsing, inside him! And so were the sky, the Sun, the kingdom, the worlds of the gods and the Molten Sea, the Ugly Underworlds and the beautiful ones, the fountain of blue Life and Light and all the birds of paradise, and the Mother the Dragon and her Melchisedek lover, and why stop there? Just around the corner, the Mother of the Light who smiles at the end of the Fault of Eternity was inside him too, and so was all the rest!
When Woolly's head emerged out of the water, he was a different man.
He contemplated the sky, which looked completely different, and the woods along the river, which looked completely different too.
Szar was sitting on the shore, having just returned from a long walk to the Mountains of Sharp Vision. White-wondered by the illumination in Woolly's aura, he read the creation's infinity in his eyes.
Soaking wet, Woolly went to sit close to him, placing his hand on his shoulder.
"You have come to say farewell, I know," Woolly pulsed the wisdom of the river into his friend.
"I love you, Woolly," Szar had tears in his eyes. "And I will come whenever you or Gervin call me. But this is not my world! I do not belong here."
"I understand," Woolly contemplated the river. "Finding the place where you belong is perhaps the most important of all things."
"You belong... here?" Szar asked.
"Oh, yes!" the river sighed through Woolly. "This is where I have always belonged. Now that I know this, things will never be the same. Kingdoms can rise and fall, and my kingdom-nose can be broken and fixed... my heart will be pulsing here, always!"
They remained silent, listening to the river.
"You have lost your flower," Szar noticed.
"No, it has become one with my heart," Woolly said. "And what about you, beautiful friend, where will you go?"
"After the initiation, I'll return to the kingdom with you, of course. We have a bad mess to fix, down there. From what I have seen in Archive Hall One, victory is far from being assured. But when the Archive mission comes to an end, I will not come back here. I will fly to Revelation Sky."
"No, that is not where she lives. There are so many worlds in the triangle! Especially in the sky, at the tip of the triangle, where infinities are Point-packed on top of infinities. It's a mystery to me, I have this sky of the gods in my Flying Dragon's skin. The first time I saw it, I spent an entire night crying. Then one day I realised. It was while I was being beaten up by a god," he confided.
"Beaten up by a god?" Woolly found that amazing.
"The worst beating I have ever taken, and by far!" Szar nodded. "But what a revelation! Above me was this arch-magnificent expanse, the source of the wisdom of the gods. And the more my friend was punching me in the stomach (he'll become a friend, I know), the more obvious it became to me - this was my world! Ever since, I have known it in my blood. And these holy Fields of Peace have only confirmed it. I belong to Revelation Sky. I must return there."
"How beautiful!" Woolly and the river exclaimed in unison.
"I am going to miss you, friend," Szar took Woolly's hand.
"I have just understood the meaning of one of the most important verses of the Law," Woolly replied. "That which is, will always be."
The River of Remembrance sang,
"Flying Dragons, gods, the Lord Melchisedek, you and me.
Forever One in Love."
© Copyright Samuel Sagan 1999, 2004