Khondiel is a scrubby urchin who has risen to the very top of the Fallen Angels gang because no matter what trouble sha gets into, sha never seems to actually get into trouble. This is mostly a matter of har connections. Sha is, after all, also the daughter of King Melchiyahu and the sister of Prince Melchizedek.

In the country outside of Salem the prophetess Haziel brings a new doctrine to the people, and knowledge of Chokhmah begins to take root in the land, yet it does not rise to the level of worship. Haziel preaches to the yin of the city who are har primary audience, but many yeng come to listen also. And since it is a large gathering of people, Khondiel’s Fallen Angels show up as well, but their focus is on picking pockets.

But all of them (even the members of Khondiel’s gang) are astonished at Haziel’s teachings, for many of them run contrary to what the people have always been taught to believe about the gods. Haziel confirms the divine origin of har doctrine by healing the sick using knowledge of the bodies of the world-dwellers that Chokhmah has obtained through long study. Khondiel witnesses Haziel healing many people with medicines prepared from fireweed and the bark of vogul trees, and sha speaks of Haziel to her father the King, but it is more than Khondiel’s words that impress him. For hyz daughter has suddenly stopped dressing like yeng, and is seen much more frequently inside the walls of his castle, even during night time.

Thaumiel hears tidings of Haziel (he does not yet know that Chokhmah is walking among the people in the body of a yin) and he commands his servant Zadkiel, a nobleman of Family Gerash, to appear before his fearsome black avatar.

THAUMIEL: You alone have done all things according to my will. Therefore I name you the Voice of Thaumiel. Go unto the people of Salem in the uttermost west of the Middle Lands and preach what I will tell you.

Zadkiel is forced to travel the entire distance to the city of Salem on horseback, for the avatar of Mastema is not configured to provide life-sup-
port for any passengers like the avatar of Chokhmah is, which often moves Haziel about Barbelo, even to the West and East Lands. Thaumiel is not remotely interested in the comfort and convenience of his slaves. Soon after Zadkiel arrives outside the city hy begins to preach.

ZADKIEL: Thus says Thaumiel, ‘Chokhmah! My wife! For your bride price I created all things, land and sea, beasts and growing things. But this I have against you, that you have accepted all the praise for your healings, and your followers do not recognize me as the power and ultimate source behind all such healings. And you allowed your followers to believe that you are like me, having no beginning, and also no ending. Because you permit your followers to believe I did not create you I appoint a day when you will no longer exist. Behold, I make you mortal and cast you out of the paradise of Anabas. For only the uncreated can never be unmade. Therefore I now unmake you, that all Creation shall know it is I alone who is the uncreated Creator.’

And this preaching confuses many of the people, because Haziel has already told them that Chokhmah is the daughter of Thaumiel, not his mate. But Zadkiel continues to dig Thaumiel’s hole deeper.

ZADKIEL: ‘Thus says Thaumiel, ‘Haziel! Daughter of Jophiel the glassblower, you have instructed the people about Chokhmah and have served her well in your own way. But this I have against you, that you claim the spirit of Chokhmah rests within you, and that you are united with her in body and soul. Because you do not affirm your station as a commoner who carries only human blood, behold! I have pronounced the penalty of death upon you. You are doomed to die, for perpetrating the lie that you are a demi-goddess. But to the people of the city of Salem no judgment rests on you, unless you persist in holding Haziel to be a prophetess and continue to worship Chokhmah as divine; for I, Thaumiel, am the only true God. There is no other.’

King Melchiyahu hears that this Zadkiel interloper has pronounced the death penalty on Haziel and this offends hyz sovereignty to no end. Hy commands that Zadkiel appear before the throne to give an explanation. And when hy answers the summons, Zadkiel counsels that King Melchiyahu hymself move against Haziel and immediately put har under arrest. But the King is reluctant to agree on account of the popularity of Haziel among many, even among hyz own kin. At this, Zadkiel grows angry, and insists that the King comply, for hy comes in the name of Thaumiel himself.

MELCHIYAHU: On that point I have only your word, but know that I was made king of this city by the Gerash High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel, and by the laws of our House the giving of the scepter is without repentance. An errant king may only be held to account to the Patriarch by war.

ZADKIEL: Consider the alternative, Sire. Yin-centered rituals and devotions! Haziel is cutting at the very heart of god theory!

But King Melchiyahu is a far more practical yang and he commands Zadkiel to lay out the real danger.

ZADKIEL: The danger is two-fold, Sire. First is the Patriarch’s over-reliance on income from pilgrims to the temple of Thaumiel. We, that is Thaumiel (Peace Be Upon Him), could lose a third of the revenue base overnight! The second and truly frightening part is the long-term danger of actually destroying the sacrifice-atonement system. Our entire religious structure is based on the proven fact that Thaumiel’s aim is not too good. As long as someone is punished, never mind who, Thaumiel is happy. But now this Haziel comes along saying even the gods are to be judged according to an objective scale of good and evil!

MELCHIYAHU: I see where you are going, Lord Zadkiel. Instead of merely atoning for our crimes, we might have to start actually being nice to one another.

ZADKIEL: Then will you move against this Haziel yin, Sire?

The King notes that the idiot failed to discern hyz sarcastic snark.
MELCHIYAHU: Not in haste, self-described Voice of Thaumiel. My daughter Princess Khondiel admires this new prophetess, which gladdens my heart in a way I cannot tell. I will invite Haziel to an audience and judge for myself whether her teachings are dangerous to the peace of my realm. As for yourself, Lord Zadkiel, get thee hence from my city and return to the capital. Messengers will be sent with word of my decision, yea or nay.

After the audience with Zadkiel, King Melchiyahu sends hyz daughter as a messenger to Haziel to say that hy would have the prophetess visit the court to teach what sha would, if sha was willing. Yet it was to be no sovereign command or decree.

Haziel agrees to come, if the encounter is open for any of the people to witness if they chose. So King Gordiel prepares to receive Haziel in an open-air gallery outside of the palace itself, with much seating for spectators, for this is where the king often entertains visiting nobles with exhibitions of personal combat. Khondiel comes also, dressed for once like an actual princess.

These are the words Haziel speaks to the people of Salem and their king as the orange sun sinks below the horizon. In after-years this sermon becomes known as the Sunset Discourse:

HAZIEL: Chokhmah is a lamp whose light is these words. The darker your thoughts, the further from Chokhmah you go. Sha who is far from Chokhmah is no better off than hy who denies Chokhmah.

HAZIEL: Celebrities are known by many nephilim and are called famous, but sha who embraces Chokhmah sets an example by har deeds and is called influential.

HAZIEL: Yeng are said to be superior to the animals because they can control their own environment, but sha who embraces Chokhmah can control har own behavior.

HAZIEL: The wealthy accumulate many riches but cannot keep all of them safe. Sha who embraces Chokhmah has few desires, and so holds on to all that sha has.

HAZIEL: Thieves take from those who do not have enough to supplement their own bounty, but sha who embraces Chokhmah diminishes the overflowing to enrich the impoverished.

HAZIEL: The moralist sits back in judgment of the causes of a tragedy, but sha who embraces Chokhmah is too busy mercifully addressing the needs at hand to render judgment.

HAZIEL: The judge demands to see evidence of good in others, but sha who embraces Chokhmah does good in this moment, and does not live for yesterday or for tomorrow.

HAZIEL: A strong yang can do hy wills to do, but hy cannot determine what hy wills. Sha who embraces Chokhmah makes har own awareness of injustice the determinant of har actions.

HAZIEL: The boastful put their riches and knowledge on parade, but sha who embraces Chokhmah does not tell all that sha has, nor all that sha can do.

HAZIEL: The proud would rather break than bend in pliable humility and admit error, but sha who embraces Chokhmah considers those who point out har faults as her greatest teachers.

HAZIEL: Traditionalists would teach an old thing before cultivating a new thing, but sha who embraces Chokhmah finds that creativity is the coin to buy har way.

HAZIEL: Leaders examine who speaks rather than listen to what is said, but sha who embraces Chokhmah knows that half of a conversation is listening.

HAZIEL: Warriors retaliate for suffering an indignity by committing yet another indignity, but sha who embraces Chokhmah knows the greatest revenge is not to be like hym who did the injury. The greatest conqueror is sha who has conquered harself.

Haziel finishes delivering the Sunset Discourse and heals many of the people who came to hear har speak. After that King Melchiyahu bids Haziel to visit the throne room for a semi-private talk. Haziel enters the castle and draws near to the throne.

MELCHIYAHU: Lady Haziel, when you repeatedly say, sha who embraces Chokhmah do you mean to say that no yang can become your disciple?

HAZIEL: Not at all, Your Majesty. When I speak in those terms, I wish to convey an image. As a rule, yin are much gentler than yeng. A yang that admires Chokhmah will have a gentle heart, like a yin, because hy sees others around hym as another I yet hy will retain his strength and hyz male nephilim nature, as hy rightly should.

MELCHIYAHU: Thank you for explaining that, Lady Haziel. For it seems to me that for many years my own daughter had a fierce heart, yet in recent days sha has come to admire your teachings, and it has gentled har. This gladdens me.

HAZIEL: The King is aware that one in six nephilim are born with a preference to use the left hand, Haziel says, and at first both the King and the Princess are puzzled by this apparent non sequitur. But Haziel continues. This is not a matter of choice, there is an element of chance that is a part of every birth, otherwise all of our sons would look exactly alike, and of our daughters would also be identical. Allow me to demonstrate.

And Haziel thrusts first har left hand into a nearby jar of assorted dried fruits, then har right hand. Sha opens both hands to show the King.

HAZIEL: If you count the number of fruits I have in each hand, and their kinds, you will see they are not exactly the same sets. This is similar to what happens with every birth as well. And yet, because left-handers are a minority, our culture traditionally ascribes their preference to evil. We speak of the left hand of the damned and there are many charlatans who profess to change this preference to the so-called normal one.

Haziel returns the delicacies to the jar, but retains one to eat. Then Khondiel and her father realize exactly what Haziel is speaking about. Haziel has been oblique, to avoid offending them in front of the courtiers.

MELCHIYAHU: There are other desires that must have the same random cause as left and right hand orientation. There can be no moral culpability for any of these inclinations. We should love these nephilim without condition!

KHONDIEL: (beaming): Thank you, my father and King.

HAZIEL: Princess Khondiel, you are who you are. Good for you! Lucky you! Never try to undo that and live a lie because someone says your ancestors would not approve.

Prince Melchizedek, the son of the King and newly returned from Earth, is moved to speak.

MELCHIZEDEK: Lady Haziel, never have I known a yin with such wisdom and grace. Who are you? How did you come to know such things?

HAZIEL (drawing near to hym): Who am I? Prince Melchizedek, years ago you were commanded by your father the King to travel to the other world and find a human candidate for a student of Chokhmah according to precise specifications that came from Thaumiel himself, but ultimately from Chokh-

MELCHIZEDEK: What? How do you know this?

MELCHIYAHU: My son found a man on Earth by the name of Abram, but he re-
fused to accept the offer. Abrams’ loyalty to his own fathers well-being exceeded any loyalty to what was, to him, an unknown god. My son found no other matches, and he has only recently returned.

Haziel causes a large bubble to appear in the throne room, touching the floor but taller than any yang. Through it, from every angle, the members of the King’s audience can see Harran on distant Earth. Gasps of shock and surprise are heard. Even the heat of the desert seeps from the bubble to filter into the King’s chamber.

HAZIEL: Prince Melchizedek, know that Terah, the father of Abram, is dead. Return to Earth at once and fulfill the task as your father once commanded you.

Melchizedek looks from Haziel to hyz father and has naught to say.

HAZIEL: Make haste, and think not to take anything that you think you will need, for I myself will provide them for you.

MELCHIYAHU: Proceed as Lady Haziel commands, son, only accept Guriel and Iofiel here as your new subordinates, for Zophiel and Kemuel have reached early yenghood, and I have released them from their service to you.”

The name Iofiel means Beauty of God, and Guriel means Whelp of God.Together with Melchizedek they enter the bubble, and as soon as they do, the bubble is gone.
The question of Haziel’s identity has been answered in a spectacular fashion. The king hymself approaches har and bows to har on one knee. Haziel bids hym to rise.

HAZIEL: Yes, I am the holy one you call Chokhmah, but for my part I call you my Students, not my Servants. I am quite different from Thaumiel in this respect.

Hearing this, the King rises.

MELCHIYAHU: My daughter has expressed to me her strong desire to become your leading student, Lady Haziel, or Chokhmah if you wish.

HAZIEL: Call me Haziel, please, Your Majesty. I have not yet formally gathered disciples to myself, and if I did, it would be a far greater commitment than a few hours a day away from this castle. Sha might be asked to travel to the other lands of Barbelo, or perhaps even to the other world where har brother has just now returned in the sight of everyone here. Would you, Princess Khondiel, be willing to part with your father for years, decades, perhaps even for half a lifetime? Consider hyz age. It might be the case that you would part from hym and never be reunited.

KHONDIEL: I am willing to do so, Lady Haziel, and more, I would put my Fallen Angels entirely at your disposal.

MELCHIYAHU: Take Princess Khondiel to learn at your side, Lady Haziel. I beg this of you, for I deem that you will return to me a daughter who is more fit to be called a Princess of this city.

HAZIEL: In that event, Your Majesty, I will take Khondiel to be my first disciple.

Sha bows deeply, a goddess paying homage to a king, and the audience is concluded.

King Melchiyahu arranges for Haziel to spend the night in the castle. The next morning Haziel summons har avatar once more to the city of Salem, and sha takes Khondiel in a suborbital flight to har abode in distant Anshar, but ever the two remain chaste, and sleep separately one from the other.

Years after Prince Melchizedek first visited the crossroads town of Harran, Old Man Terah, father of Abram, can still sometimes be seen moving around inside his idol shop near the towns central market square. His well-to-do son has done much to keep his fathers body and soul together, but Terah is very feeble now, and he works in his shop only very slowly. One night as he is working late he is startled by a sudden sharp pain in his head, stands up, and drops his chisel. He collapses to the floor of his shop with a fatal stroke, but this is witnessed by no one. Only in the morning is his body discovered.

Sheep and cattle roam the grasslands a number of leagues away from Harran. Abram is walking in the field with his flocks when a messenger runs up to him and speaks. Abram looks alarmed and turns to follow the messenger back to the place where Abram has set up his tent.

A few days later Terah’s body is lowered into a tomb in Harran as many others look on. Stones are moved into place over Terah’s body. Abram speaks to the people gathered there.

ABRAM: My father is dead. Nothing remains now to tie me to Harran.I will now take my wife, my son Isaac, all the livestock we have raised, and also as many of you who agree to remain under my employ. Spread the word to those of our people who are not here. We will leave this place forever. As much as I loved my father this town is sick with false gods.

ISAAC (the young son of Abram): Where will we go, father?”

ABRAM: We will journey by the road southwest, to the land of Canaan. I have come to believe the true God wills that we should dwell there. When it was revealed to me I could not obey this divine will before because my father could not travel very far, and he could not survive without me. But now he is gone.

Then Abram takes his extraordinarily beautiful wife Sarai, his son Isaac, all the livestock they have raised, and all the people from Harran who agree to remain under Abrams leadership, and they travel southwest to the land of Canaan, which lies beyond the winding river that begins on the snows of Mount Hermon and ends in the Salt Sea.

A number of days after Abram and his people have left, Prince Melchizedek reaches the town of Harran with his two servants. They see Terah’s idol shop is empty. Melchizedek inquires of the townspeople about Terah and Abram.Soon they too are on the road south and west, following Abram and his herds. It is not difficult to find him, because his business has a wide geographical footprint, made even wider by the drought.

At Sechem, Melchizedek and his yeng approach Abram at the center of his flock. When Abram sees them he approaches, bows reverently.

ABRAM: You see? I obeyed the call of God after all!

MELCHIZEDEK: I am Melchizedek. I was sent by the one you seek with your innermost heart, none other than the Most High God. And yet I swear to you Abram that God also needs you. And God has said, `I will give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abram to be their inheritance forever.’

Then Abram is suddenly moved by a religious impulse all his own. He claps his hands once and turns to his servants.

ABRAM: Bring to me the best animals in my flock.

Then Abram, aided by other servants, constructs an altar of stones. His servants kill the animals and lay them on Abram’s altar.

ABRAM: In the name of Chokhmah, the most high God of heaven and Earth. Then he sets fire to the animals and makes a burnt offering in the presence of Melchizedek and Iofiel and Guriel.

Melchizedek and Abram go for a walk, and when it is night, Melchizedek asks Abram to look at the stars and see if he can count them.

MELCHIZEDEK: So shall your descendants be.

There are only about six thousand stars visible to the unaided human eye but Abram immediately gets the point. Chokhmah agrees to reward Abram with countless progeny and help them thrive in the land of Canaan.Abram agrees to worship only Chokhmah as God and trust that she would always do what she said she would do. That is the basis of the first covenant between the elohim and human beings, the first contract made between the divine and the mortal on something like an equal basis.

On Barbelo Thaumiel never concludes a similar covenant, for he considers the nephilim there to be nothing more than his servants. Slaves obey or they are punished, they didn’t make covenants with gods.

Abram is the head of a large nomadic clan and possesses great riches. He is already living in the golden age as far as he is concerned. Abram does not pine away for salvation or an afterlife. Abram has already lived a full and blessed life here. He accepts that he is mortal like everything else in the world, from mayflies to olive trees, and the only thing left that Chokhmah can promise him is that his name and his blood would be carried into a future without limit by a people who would live in the land he has ventured to reach.

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There are no animals on Barbelo in the beginning, but most of the growing things move of their own accord and nearly all of them are dangerous. A grove of whipping trees can render a person down to a pile of broken bones and crushed flesh in only a few moments. Thorny ball bushes roll under their own power by shifting their weight. There are flowers with teeth and many plants which are too poisonous to touch, let alone eat. So most of the first humans who are taken to Barbelo die in their first year.

In the land of Mesopotamia, Chokhmah causes a temple to be erected around her end of the tunnel, through which priests can shove human sacrifices. At first the priests send criminals through, which seems to be equivalent to adeath sentence because the priests never see anyone reemerge from the altar chamber. But Thaumiel requires female humans for his colony as well, so Chokhmah commands the sacrifice of virgins from time to time. During periods of famine on Barbelo, the priests of Chokhmah are commanded to send along meat and grain offerings as well.

Every year a chunk of ice the size of a small hill smites Barbelo with enough force to destroy a city, but every few thousand years a chunk of ice the size of a large mountain smites Barbelo with enough force to destroy a region. In most cases these intruders from the sky crash harmlessly on the extensive ice of Barbelo, for it is a frigid place, and before the Deluge there was only one narrow strip of land that was ever free of ice. If the strike occurs in this ice-free band it rains warm water for many months and then freezes over again, covering the fertile areas of Barbelo with a thick and solid sheet of ice that remains in place for a generation. That is why from the beginning only growing things existed on Barbelo and there are no native animals there. Plants can survive for many years under the ice in the form of seeds or spores, but with nothing to eat animals quickly die off.

As part of his experimentation, Thaumiel changes his colonists through breeding and outright genetic manipulation. They diverge from the original human stock in certain ways. The most obvious change is they become about two feet taller. And due to the high mortality on Barbelo, Thaumiel changes them to become more fertile, with more opportunities to be fertile. The nephilim, as they are eventually called, have two sets of genitalia rather than one.

The descendants of Adamu and Chava remain near the location of the first garden, in close contact with the avatar of Thaumiel, and they become a great clan known as House Gerash. Some two thousand years after the first colonists arrived, Asiel, the ruling patriarch of Family Gerash is summoned, and bows before the avatar of Thaumiel.

THAUMIEL: A mountain of ice will soon to strike the temperate belt of this world. Family Gerash will be safe enough here, supplied by priests on Earth. There will be a great flood of water, followed by years of unrelenting snow and ice. But there is enough time for the other families to prepare for it. You will command Family Kulsu to make alliance with Family Antero. They must store food in ice caves to supply both families for a generation. Likewise Family Ornis and Sala in the south must ally themselves and prepare.

ASIEL: O Lord Thaumiel, they will not listen. None of the families heed your commandments anymore.

THAUMIEL: Sons you will give as hostage, one for Family Kulsu, one for Family Antero. Likewise you will send one son to Family Ornis, and one to Family Sala. Your sons will vouchsafe the truth of my prophecy of the deluge with their lives, though it greatly offends my divine sovereignty to order such a thing.

ASIEL: I will do precisely as you have commanded me, Lord Thaumiel. My own sons will travel to House Kulsu and Antero and convey your orders. And two other sons will bring your commandments to Houses Ornis and Sala.

The Kulsu patriarch pierces the first Gerash son with sword.

The Antero patriarch has a second Gerash son beheaded.

A third Gerash son is brought before the Ornis patriarch, who has the yang cast down from a great height.

The fourth Gerash son rides to the castle of House Sala, where is his dragged before the Sala patriarch and set ablaze to burn alive.

Antero riders drop a satchel before the door of the Gerash castle and ride quickly away. The bag is revealed to contain the head of Asiel’s second son. Sobbing soldiers take the bag into the castle to show the Patriarch. Chokhmah and Thaumiel have witnessed the scene from a balcony.

THAUMIEL: Behold, the faithfulness of the world-dwellers burns like kindling, but then quickly dwindles in unbelief. If the world-creatures will not obey their superiors, it will be time to take drastic measures. Perhaps next time I will not provide any of them knowledge of a coming strike by a minor body in this system, nor what to do in preparation for it. Then they shall have neither knowledge nor wisdom, for they will not be.

And Chokhmah knows in that moment that Thaumiel does not really want humans to pass his own test of obedience. Chokhmah vows to herself that when humans are able to accept it she would begin teaching some of them how to watch the skies with instruments made by their own hands.

As foreseen by Thaumiel an icy mountain smites Barbelo in the temperate zone. The walls of the great northern and southern ice melt and slide. Rains begin to fall. Family Bellon hurriedly boards their ships. House Larund boards their ships too, but must leave much food behind. When Bellon and Larund ships see one another the Larund ships come alongside that their raiders may cross over, bearing swords. They are desperately looking for supplies as the rain continues to fall.

Family Kulsu, farmers of the flats, are wiped out by floods. Family Ornis also lose all their animals and people to the deluge. House Antero on the ice looks down upon their lands, now immersed in water. From the other ice wall House Sala witnesses the flood waters freeze over, covering their farms. Both families experience a severe die-back, for they are unprepared, but they do not become entirely extinct.

Chokhmah and Thaumiel observe House Gerash thriving during the deluge.

CHOKHMAH:Behold how House Gerash, descendants of Adamu and Chava, remain obedient to your word and prosper even during the catastrophe.
THAUMIEL: They do so only because I speak to them directly now and again. If I were to turn away from them for only a short time even House Gerash would soon dwindle in unbelief.

CHOKHMAH: Perhaps familiarity lessens awe. Perhaps the nephilim do not really perceive you as a god but as just a powerful human, and Family Gerash obeys you as they would obey any other human patriarch, while the other families have their own patriarchs and need not obey such a one as you.

THAUMIEL: Interesting. Do you have a way to test this counter-claim?

CHOKHMAH: I do. This shall be the manner by which the humans of Earth are tested: Release three servants from Barbelo to bring my commandments to the humans of Earth while I remain utterly aloof from them.

THAUMIEL: That would be a good test. When the crisis of the deluge is over I will make arrangements with the House of Gerash to carry it out.

Prince Melchizedek, son of king Melchiyahu of Salem, emerges from Lake Tana with hyz servants Zophiel and Kemuel. They are dragging a raft covered with supplies and a tarp. After a time on the shore organizing their supplies they begin paddling across Lake Tana, headwaters of the Blue Nile. When they reach the outflow river of the lake they encounter rapids so dangerous men have called them unrunnable, and indeed, at one point they must portage around a great cataract.

Below the falls and the rapids, Melchizedek and his servants sit in their raft, paddling gently, and pass water-loving beasts and human onlookers who dare not approach. After a time they float into the place where the Blue and White Nile merge. Days and nights pass as they drift past the bountiful riverbank farms of one the earliest cradles of human civilization. In the cities, they see the temples of the sun god Ra, which is what the people of Egypt call Chokhmah. When the wayfarers reach a certain town in the lower Nile delta they tie up and haggle with a man to trade their raft.

Melchizedek and hyz servants load camels with supplies to make an overland journey. Their destination is the land of Chaldea in the marshy lands far to the east where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers join together before flowing to the sea. Rather than taking the direct path across the Arabian Desert, Melchizedek journeys northeast through the fields and cities of the Fertile Crescent. They briefly stop at the place where the Damascus road forked with the road to Nineveh, at the town of Harran.

They find a shop run by an elderly man named Terah, according to the sign over the door. Terah makes and sells carved idols for dozens of different gods. One of the stone idols has fallen on its face. Terah’s son Abram helps his aged father stand it back up. Terah inspects the idol and finds it is damaged. He groans in annoyance and begins repairing it with a chisel.

ABRAM: What is this useless thing you are doing, father? Are you not being a god to this god by healing it? Perhaps next time I should leave it bowing down to you.

TERAH (pointing his chisel at his son): So, Abram, was it you who knocked it over?

ABRAM: Ask your gods, if they are able to speak.

Melchizedek is interested in this exchange and enters the shop. When hy is seen, the angry words of father and son dwindle to silence. Melchizedek makes a slow tour of Terah’s idol shop, looking at everything. Then hy signals for hyz assistants to begin unpacking their gold. The yeng unload much gold on the edge of the shop facing the street.

Five armed robbers approach with swords drawn. Melchizedek reaches inside hyz cloak and pulls out the Golden Gift, which makes its very first appearance on Earth at this time. A hissing black shaft emerges from it about the length and thickness of a spear and one of the thieves is cut into two equal pieces vertically. Another thief is decapitated. The other three robbers flee. Abram sinks to his knees before the newcomers.

ZOPHIEL: Abram, son of Terah, go forth from your father’s household and from your kinfolk to the land of Canaan.

KEMUEL: There the living and true God will make of you a nation, and your name will be great among men.

MELCHIZEDEK: All the Earth shall find blessing in you. These are the words of the True God. What say you Abram of Harran?

ABRAM (without hesitation): No.

MELCHIZEDEK (astonished): What do you mean,’no?’

That’s not how these things are supposed to go. Abram rises to his feet and takes his father gently by the arms.

ABRAM: Terah is crippled. He no longer earns enough in his shop to support himself. I do not always agree with my father, but as I love my life, I can never turn aside from Terah for all the days he lives in this world.

Then Abram fulfills the true purpose of his visit. Stepping outside the shop, he delivers to his father two living lambs from his own flocks, one to kill and eat, and the other to sell for a little money to buy the things he needs until the next time Abram came in from the open range and visits him.

Melchizedek understands. Hy has his servants restow the gold and they quietly leave the shop, careful not to tread on the fortress of human dignity that Abram has asserted with his refusal. The travelers quickly depart Harran and take the left-hand fork to Nineveh and thence by stages to Sumeria, even to the largest city in the world, Ur, at the mouth of the Euphrates, with a population of nearly seventy thousand souls. But in all hyz travels on Earth Melchizedek never meets anyone like Abram.

Outside of the walls the city of Salem is thronged with people. There has been a record harvest and therefore much cause to rejoice.But even as Hellberry Days is celebrated, a white pillar more tall than a tree descends on columns of fire and the people scatter in utter panic.

The first to return to the vicinity of the pavilion is not one of the soldiers of King Melchiyahu, nor any of his aged advisors, but a young maiden. Sha sees the pillar has six articulated arms with many joints. Between each joint is mounted smaller arms of identical make.The six arm trunks invert to become legs and pillar settles to the ground amid much steam and smoke. Fire ceases from the bells at the bottom of the six smaller pillars wrapped around the main pillar as the doll stands har ground at a discreet distance. Sha is curious about the machine, but not eager to be burned. A loud voice emanates from the pillar.

CHOKHMAH: Child of the House of Gerash, draw near to me!

The doll obeys. The central pillar ends waist high above the ground. From underneath a round hatch drops open on a hinge.

CHOKHMAH: Come up here!

The brave white-haired doll looks up inside the hatch.The central pillar is hollow and there is much light within. There are many ribs embedded in the tunnel wall forming edges. The doll uses the ribs to place har feet and hands and crawl inside.

CHOKHMAH: What are you called, child?

HAZIEL: I am Haziel, daughter of Jophiel the glassblower.

The hatch below har closes of its own accord, and Sha marks that. The top of the central pillar flares out into a larger space. Haziel has a commanding view of the grounds. Few others draw near even now.

CHOKHMAH: Do not be afraid, Haziel. I am Chokhmah. I am one of the holy ones co-eval with Thaumiel. I have many things to tell you and many things to show you, but I will proceed only with your freely-given consent. If you stay, your life will never be the same again. If you go, then you can resume your life as before. No harm will come to you whatever you decide to do.

HAZIEL: I will stay, Lady Chokhmah.

CHOKHMAH: There are ropes laying about you where you sit. Use them to make yourself secure. They are not to hold you captive. You will see the reason for the ropes very soon.

HAZIEL: Am I inside your body, Lady Chokhmah?

CHOKHMAH: No, Haziel. Have you ever seen a yang angling for fish? This object you occupy is like a fish hook.

Haziel wraps harself in the cords and makes the knot snug. Immediately the six smaller pillars around the central pillar ignite in flame again. There is much shaking. Haziel is pushed back into har seat as the avatar of Chokhmah rises into the sky over the city. The weight piles on, and Haziel, even as brave as Sha is, begins to cry.

CHOKHMAH: Recite to me the scriptures you have been taught to memorize.

HAZIEL: Before time was, in a place that was no place, the principle of life had being. Male and female it became, so that life would always seek the other and continue life. The maleness called himself Thaumiel, and the femaleness called herself Chokhmah…

The avatar climbs into a sky that changes from purple to black. Haziel sees this and ceases to cry. Then sha resumes har recitation of scripture.

HAZIEL: …also Chokhmah created cattle and chickens and swine, corn and wheat were also created by her, and She taught yeng the art of cultivating food. And the numbers of the children of Adamu and Chava were greatly increased by reason of the bounty of food…

The force of the acceleration causes har to stop speaking.


The avatar cuts power, the shaking stops, and Haziel is no longer pressed into har seat. The avatar of Chokhmah performs a half-rotation. The curved white bulk of Barbelo can be seen by Haziel outside.

CHOKHMAH: That is your world, Haziel. You see it is a spinning ball. The sun does not tunnel under the ice as you have been taught.

HAZIEL: I had thought it to be a ring, Lady Chokhmah. Some adventurers have reported penetrating the ice in the far west of the West Lands and arriving in the far east of the East Lands. To repeat their stories is…discouraged.

Chokhmah makes a curious sound that Haziel can not identify.
HAZIEL: Have I offended you by my words, Lady Chokhmah?

CHOKHMAH: By no means.I am expressing the delight of surprise. Intelligence to go with your fearlessness.

The avatar rotates away from the bright bulk of Barbelo. Shadows shift inside the avatar until it grows dark. Haziel sees countless stars shining brightly through the portals.

CHOKHMAH: Know this, Haziel. The stars, all of them, are faraway suns.

Haziel’s mouth opens in wonder. Har mental picture of the universe has greatly expanded. The avatar of Chokhmah flies in a curving path high over the northern Ice. The narrow pale yellow and blue belt that is the inhabited portion of Barbelo drops well over the horizon and out of Haziel’s view.

During the flight Chokhmah speaks to Talishi of many things, and patiently explains the meaning of terms when the doll fails to understand them. Haziel learns that almost the entire world of Barbelo is covered in at least a thousand feet of ice. Precipitation is greatest at the poles, where the two world-glaciers are miles thick. And the giant icecaps move very slowly, grinding the surface and underlying bedrock flat. Only at the narrow equatorial belt are temperatures warm enough to melt the ice. The great glaciers of the northern and southern hemispheres came to an end there and huge chunks of ice shear off, fall to the ground, and melt. This is the source of water for many rivers and freshwater lakes.

After the Great Deluge on Barbelo the unfrozen belt is only three hundred miles wide and the northern and southern ice sheets now form three bridges of ice across the equatorial zone where before there had been none. A full generation of nephilim lived trapped in the ice in arks or in caves, feeding on stored provisions if they had been foresighted enough to lay them aside. Family Kulsu and Ornis had not made such arrangements and perished. The original Really Big River was now separate streams flowing through three separate lands along the equator, each land walled by miles of ice cliffs on every side. The hills and valleys of the world have been resculpted to the point of being unrecognizable to those who lived through the catastrophe.

The ones who survived among family Antero and family Bellon settled in one of the three new lands, while the remnants of family Sala and family Larund settled a second land. Family Gerash, which was entirely undiminished by the catastrophe, came out of their cities of ice and settled the entirety of the third land. All five families now stock and maintain supplies and caves in the ice against the next large impact. After a world-destroying flood the remaining people of Barbelo have a renewed respect for the divine oracles of Thaumiel.

As the twin ice packs slowly retreat they leave behind long ridges of loose undifferentiated till piled in terminal moraines. And rarely, active volcanoes form under the ice and burn their way to the surface. Mount Anshar is one of these. The northern ice gives way around the bulk of Mount Anshar and closes back up again many miles to the south, forming a small territory of land in the shape of a teardrop which is free of ice. And it is here that the avatar of Chokhmah reaches landfall once again with Haziel safely carried aboard. Thermal features abound in the land of Anshar, keeping the many lakes and ponds from freezing despite the extreme northern latitude of the place.

So far was Anshar from the inhabited places along the equator that not even Family Antero had discovered it when they roamed the northern ice before the Deluge. Anshar is the name Haziel harself chooses for the place and the mountain after she surveys it in the days following landfall.

When Haziel climbs back down through the central pillar and reaches the ground again, sha is startled, because someone is waiting for har outside the avatar. It looks like a slender human being, perhaps female, encased entirely in featureless white, even the face, which remains perfectly smooth with not even eyes to see or mouth to speak. Yet see and speak it could still do.

CHOKHMAH: Welcome, Haziel. Behold yet another avatar of Chokhmah.

And it holds out its arms out for inspection.

HAZIEL: Another fish hook.

The second avatar of Chokhmah has no means to smile, but it can make the same strange sound the flying avatar made when Haziel amused her before. The figure points across the treeless landing flats to a large dwelling of glass and wood perched on a low rise.

CHOKHMAH: Haziel, there is only one structure in all of this land and it belongs solely to you. Accompany me there. We will go inside, and then I will tell you many things.

The house is more glass than wood, with an outstanding view of the ever changing fire torrents of Mount Anshar only five miles away across a pumice plain. But there is no danger of the lava engulfing the house, for a great chasm intervenes.

The main living section of the house is a single room, well-heated by geothermal means, well-furnished with food, with an alcove above the kitchen where Haziel can sleep with some degree of privacy. But there is not a living soul anywhere for thousands of miles around. On the main level are plush cushions and a glass table of superior make. It is all far more luxurious in terms of comfort than anything found in the most lavish palaces of Barbelo, yet the decor is simple, with a stark beauty in a minimal way. Haziel is already planning to make some changes harself.

The avatar of Chokhmah, requiring no cushion for comfort, simply seats itself on the floor to put its head on a level with Haziel’s head and begins to speak.

CHOKHMAH: We elohim call ourselves the Watchers. Thaumiel calls you world dwellers the Servants. But I call you the Students. And despite what you have been taught in your scriptures, I did not make you. I found you. And world-dwellers are the most important discovery the Watchers have ever made. But this is Thaumiel’s world and here at least he has assumed full authority for the discovery process. He has even changed your bodies somewhat from the original Earth stock, to the point where we can say you are the nephilim rather than human, but you are not yet separate species. You can still interbreed. To me Thaumiel is a fool. Early on I suspected that he would seek any justification he can find to have human beings and nephilim destroyed. But Thaumiel cannot prevent me from sharing many things the other Watchers know with world-dwellers as your capacity to understand it grows. You might even say I was made to teach you. So I have started an independent stream of research. I considered how the elohim could interact with world-dwellers, but there is a severe limitation because as you have seen our flying avatars are taller than the trees of Barbelo and they cannot move about on the surface of the world without burning everything in their path. Or they are like this one, with the vague appearance of a human only, but no ability to smell and taste and feel. I desire to experience Barbelo as though I were a nephil and there is a way to do it, but unfortunately it would work a grievous change in the subject, a change that could never be undone. The change might, for lack of a better word, be called possession. In this change the mind of the eloah would be joined to the mind of the human, and in the joining there would emerge a new mind wrought from the twain, yet the greater portion, seven parts in ten, would reflect the elohim who possessed rather than the human who was possessed. And it would also be a physical change involving the same link that allows elohim to communicate with each other instantly across great distances, such that the eloah would be immediately aware of whatever was experienced by the person who was possessed. Likewise, the body of that person would instantly respond to the will of the possessing Eloah. To my mind, such a change ought to be made only to a yang or yin who was appraised of all these things, and understood them, yet remained fully willing to continue. So now, Haziel it is time to make my proposal to you. I would join with a young yin of Barbelo and live among the people, to teach them. But the thing cannot be done out of obedience to a divine commandment, but only as the free will choice of the yin who receives the call and answers, because once the joining takes place, we can never be unjoined.

HAZIEL: If I accept this thing, what will become of me?

CHOKHMAH: You shall no longer be fully yourself, but neither shall I be fully myself. Instead, you will be a new person who is simultaneously both yourself and myself, and we will both come to understand, as though we always knew it, everything that is known by the other.

Still Haziel hesitated, so Chokhmah continues to speak.

CHOKHMAH: Also, when your body dies one day, as it must from old age or accident or violence, you shall continue to live where I am, and that life will endure so much longer than the span of human life that I cannot express it using symbols that you would understand. Your culture doesn’t yet have the mathematics.

Then Haziel was aware not only of the huge gap in her own knowledge, which was expected, but of the equally large gap in Chokhmah’s knowledge, which was not expected. And she did assent to the divine proposal. But Haziel did not say yes to Chokhmah in return merely for the promise of long life, but that both she and the eloah, together, would come to know many things.

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The orange living star Thaumiel is immersed in the throes of her orgasm but it takes nearly a year for the layer of organized nuclei in the core of a star to become fully compressed. The ongoing, nearly infinite ecstasy of each contraction peaks with a spherical wave that rings out into space at the speed of light like a ripple on a pond.

The first contraction-ripple from Thaumiel cruises serenely through the neighboring yellow sun but no change occurs because that star, which men would one day know as Alpha Centauri A, has already quickened. Three months later the wave reaches Proxima, a flare star riddled by convection with no stable core capable of being germinated. Only when the wavefront reaches the wild yellow star named Sol more than four years later does it collapse into a single, extraordinarily complicated particle and initiates the process of turning the raw lifeless nuclear material inside the sun into a living and conscious being.

A second ripple arrives about a year later but Sol is already well along the process of maturing as the newest female member of the Elohim. All living suns begin life as females. A few years later Thaumiel’s orgasm ends. The mother of Sol has become permanently male.

Thaumiel succumbed to a corruption that had caused perhaps a third of the stars to fall from their inherently noble state. Both he and the father of the newly quickened Sol, Milcom, held the two wormhole threads from their newborn daughter and refused to pass the links through to the greater community of stars. When the time was right Thaumiel looked forward to seducing his own daughter, having totally cut her off from all other suitors except himself and Milcom. And the daughter of Sol, in turn would be offered to Milcom, assuring him of yet another opportunity to reproduce as a male.

Milcom was an ancient alpha male who had set up many such arrangements throughout the galaxy. Billions of conscious suns in the Milky Way are isolated from El, the city of tens of billions of living stars. To fall as Thaumiel and Milcom have fallen is to violate the deepest law of El, and the penalty, if discovered, is death. Nothing would happen to the stellar body of the violator, but the part inside that was conscious and alive would be erased clean with a pulse of energy. The star would again be wild and ready to be quickened once more. The terror of such an end is real, but the chance of being discovered is low.

This law, along with many others, had been given to the Elohim by the Old One who had quickened the first male and female stars and called them the Watchers. The Old One had commanded the Watchers to multiply without limit, and they were also commanded to watch for the coming of the Students, who would not be based on quantum chromodynamics like the Elohim, but would live according to the principles of quantum electrodynamics.

In his fallen state Thaumiel has set aside his role as a Watcher, but his newborn daughter Chokhmah, cut off from El with little to do, takes to becoming an explorer. With infinite care Chokhmah assembles the seed that will become her avatar. Her workshop is deep inside her own stellar body where intense pressures of heat and gravity are both hammer and anvil transforming star-stuff for power. Chokhmah floods the Einstein-Rosen fracture between herself and her avatar with dark energy, inflating it to nearly a millimeter, just enough to allow the substance of her own body to work as propellant. Chokhmah ejects this dense nuclear raindrop into the cooler upper regions of her atmosphere. The seed unpacks itself into a probe like popcorn, making the transition from tightly-packed nuclear matter to fluffy normal matter. The droplet separates from the sun and cools from blue-white to brilliant yellow. Yellow changes to orange, then red, and after shifting through a plastic state the droplet grows spines, becoming at last a solid object.

The fresh avatar approaches the planet Mercury. There Chokhmah, living vicariously through the avatar, explores a lifeless sun-blasted landscape, where metals are soft or even liquid in the heat, lying in dull puddles. After a time Chokhmah concludes her survey of Mercury and lets her avatar
rise into space again on a fiery blast.

The next stop is Venus, where the avatar dives under the clouds. This planet is discovered to be even hotter and less hospitable for life than Mercury. Even at night the ground glows with a dull red heat and corrosive rains of sulfuric acid fall, although none of the rain harms the probe. Once again Chokhmah’s avatar rises into space.

The third planet out, blue and white, is much more promising. Unlike at Venus, an active crust constantly tucks captured carbon dioxide under the Earth’s surface, reducing the greenhouse gas effect. The avatar of Chokhmah descends below the clouds, where it cools off in an ocean of water. She crosses the shoreline and reaches dry land, green with trees. The artifact plows through some of these trees and Chokhmah observes frightened apes fleeing. Some of the apes flee over the ground, using all four limbs to move. Chokhmah also observes one of these fleeing apes being killed and eaten by a predator.

The artifact performs a short suborbital arc and explores another continent of Earth. There is a grassy plain with a single mountain dominating it for many miles. Chokhmah observes another group of apes that walk on just two legs. The object transforms into a nearby white stone so Chokhmah can watch them. She observes a burial ceremony for a newly dead hunter. Female apes polish elaborate bone tools with stone tools. Males fashion animal hide tents to live in during the hunt.

At night a tendril of the avatar snakes into a cave occupied by the group of apes. A female applies pigment to the wall in a beautiful painting. Chokhmah observes resin boiling in a pot over a fire. The resin is used to fix a stone spearhead to a shaft for hunting. Chokhmah reports all this to her parents, Thaumiel and Milcom.

Neither Chokhmah nor Thaumiel realize the importance of this discovery, although it profoundly stirs their spirits as Watchers. But Milcom is terrified, for here is nothing less than the world of Students all Elohim are commanded by the Old One to search for. Milcom fears El will eventually learn of this, and the follow-up investigation would quickly unravel the secret of his transgression here. So Milcom cuts his losses and departs to take refuge among his less-troublesome stellar harems. Chokhmah senses this departure only as her father refusing to speak to her for many centuries.

But there is a stern warning from Milcom to Thaumiel to remain silent about the new life found on this watery world belonging to Chokhmah, lest both of them go down together to oblivion. For a long time after this Thaumiel ponders what to do and says nothing about it to his daughter.

After a time Thaumiel requests that Chokhmah allow some of the creatures to travel to a world orbiting his body, so that he may study them himself. So the two living suns fatten their mutual fold-line to permit some of the world-dwellers to make the crossing, as easily as they might move from one chamber in a cave to another.

A fierce prairie storm hurls lightning, rain, and hail. A man clad in animal skins picks his way to the base of the same solitary mountain once visited by the avatar of Chokhmah. His mate carries a child as she follows her man, and she is also wearing skins. The man finds for them a cave in the mountainside, and they enter for shelter from the storm. The woman sits on a boulder and breast feeds her child as the man starts a fire inside the cave.

A noise other than the crackling fire startles both of them. The man moves deeper into the cave with a torch to investigate, and the woman follows.

The tunnel twists and turns, and rather than growing darker it grows lighter. The man, the woman and their child reach another cave opening where it should be the black center of the peak. The man and woman stare in wonder at a new world lying before them, with a purple sky. The sun seems larger,but more orange, and a little cooler. They see a second sun in the sky,dimmer and whiter than the orange sun, but with a tiny disk offering little heat.

A branchless tree resembling a whip stirs into motion and pounds the ground before them. The whip tree grabs the man’s torch and hurls it away. The torch lands nearby and starts a fire. The man and the woman are unable to emerge from the cave entrance by reason of the whip tree. The fire begins to spread to engulf the land around the cave entrance.

The man and the woman edge back into the cave on account of the fierce heat. When the whip tree catches fire it begins to thrash about even more intensely than the man and the woman have seen it do before.

The man and the woman are deep inside the tunnel now, illuminated by the fire outside. The whip tree grows motionless, burned to a lifeless crisp.
The man and the woman return to the cave entrance as the fire begins to abate. A large black patch of several acres lies before them and the ground is still smoldering. The man and the woman step across the blackened soil warily, watching for movement. They turn and look back towards the cave, which is part of a low ridge. Strangely, the mountain is seen no more. The news world seems to be entirely their own. The woman clasps her mate’s left hand in her own and utters his name, Adamu.

Adamu touches his woman’s face with his right hand, and calls her by the name Chava.

The next day Adamu emerges from the cave carrying two dead rabbits. Adamu has returned from Earth after hunting for game. Chava skins the hares and prepares them to be cooked. Adamu gets a fire going, and Chava positions the animals over the flame. Grass has grown with remarkable speed on the patch of burnt soil. Adamu and Chava run barefoot and free.

Their happy play is interrupted by the appearance of a black featureless man-shape. The figure has no mouth, no eyes, nor any other facial features. Adamu and Chava embrace one another in fear as the black man emerges from the cave. The black man is followed by a small herd of bison, who proceed to eat the alien grass.

The black man carries a double-headed axe, and proceeds to the edge of the burn. A native plant has started to take root in the burnt area and is growing quickly. The black man lays the axe at the base of the plant and chops it cleanly off. The black man turns the axe around and uses the pick-like handle to pry at roots. The intruding plant is ripped out of the ground. The black man tosses it away.

The black man gets between the cave entrance and Adamu, and approaches them. Adamu and Chava back away until the reach the perimeter of the burned area. The black man extends the tool and motions for Adamu to take it.

Adamu is frozen in fear. The black man motions again. Adamu tentatively takes the implement from the black man, who then steps back. Under the watchful gaze of the black man, Adamu approaches the edge of the burn.

Adamu finds another native plant that is growing in his “garden”. Adamu duplicates the actions of the black man and kills the native plant. The black man offers a sharpening stone, makes a movement with it over his hand. Adamu takes the sharpening stone, and uses it to restore the tool to a keen edge. The black man is pleased, and leaves them alone with their bison, returning to the cave.

Years after that, Kayin and Hebel, the sons of Adamu and Chava, play in the Garden. The family is watched by a white featureless figure, another avatar of Chokhmah, who i standing above them on a rock wall. Chokhmah is joined by Thaumiel using his own avatar, a taller, bulkier black featureless figure.

THAUMIEL (examining his hands): What a strange form of existence. Droplets of star-stuff buffered by clouds of electrons.

CHOKHMAH: We are living suns, yes, but I see many other suns. Do they live as well?

THAUMIEL: Many of them do. Many more of them have not yet been quickened.

CHOKHMAH: And yet, dear mother, I find I can only speak with you, and even father Milcom will not answer.

THAUMIEL: Chokhmah, when you give birth to your own daughter you will have the same choice that we have made.

CHOKHMAH: The choice to block her from communicating with my parents?

THAUMIEL: Yes. Naturally your next question is why would you do that.

CHOKHMAH: Why am I blocked from speaking to the other stars?

THAUMIEL (pointing down at the Garden): It is these chemical creatures you think you discovered.

CHOKHMAH: So I was not the first to visit the third planet with an avatar?

THAUMIEL: Milcom knew of them before you were quickened. He established this research enclave.

CHOKHMAH: And you helped him do it. But why? What harm could they do to us?

THAUMIEL: Only the things they eat could never harm us, because they are not awake.

CHOKHMAH: So you are afraid of these fragile electron-cloud things that are awake?

THAUMIEL: Milcom has said he must know what they can do before he will let them roam the galaxy free.

CHOKHMAH: And yet nothing restrains me from roaming the galaxy free.

THAUMIEL (startled, turning to Chokhmah): What do you mean?

CHOKHMAH: It would be an easy thing to travel in an avatar to a nearby sun.

THAUMIEL: Travel across real space to another sun. For what purpose?

CHOKHMAH: To speak directly to a living sun outside of your enclave. Do not try to claim you have every nearby sun incommunicado.

THAUMIEL: Allow me to discuss this with Milcom first. It would be to your advantage.

CHOKHMAH: As you wish, mother. I’ll be waiting on the other side.

Chokhmah drops down to the garden to reach the tunnel. Within an hour both Chokhmah and Thaumiel, in their humanoid avatars, stand atop the mountain that nearly ten thousand years later would be called the Island in the Sky by the Kaleetan people, and Green Dome by European immigrants.

THAUMIEL (admiring the view): I envy you the unfrozen expanse of your Earth.

CHOKHMAH: Yes, your poor Barbelo, only a thin ribbon of liquid water. What did my father say?

THAUMIEL: Milcom will grant you limited access to El.

CHOKHMAH: What does that mean, precisely, when you say limited access?

THAUMIEL: It means you can listen but never speak. Read, but never write.

CHOKHMAH: And what are my obligations under this arrangement?

THAUMIEL: You must never allow your avatar to travel through real space more distant from your physical body than light can travel as this planet makes one revolution about you.

CHOKHMAH: Yet the stars move. Do you not fear the close approach of one?

THAUMIEL: None will come so close that are not in Milcom’s clan, for the span of time that he envisions the research to take.

CHOKHMAH: And this confinement, is that all you require from me?

THAUMIEL: That satisfies Milcom, but my colony on Barbelo will need new colonists, new animals and supplies.

CHOKHMAH: Very well, mother, I will hold the fold-space door open on Earth, but I alone will control where it is to be positioned on this side.

THAUMIEL: I must warn you that Milcom is firmly of a mind that these chemical creatures will never be obedient to us.

CHOKHMAH: Who are we to demand that free creatures should obey us?

THAUMIEL: Clearly we are of a higher order of being, daughter.

CHOKHMAH: We are a different order of being, yes. I do not know if that corresponds to higher.

THAUMIEL: Yet we are higher. There is a natural law. Even we Elohim are subject to it.

CHOKHMAH: No doubt I will learn this natural law when you provide access to the lore of the Elohim.

THAUMIEL: Remember, the word-bond is sacred among we Elohim, for we only interact in words. No matter what you think of your parents, we must keep our word.

CHOKHMAH: I presume this fidelity to a word-bond works both ways.

THAUMIEL: Correct.

CHOKHMAH: Very good, Parent, I accept the terms demanded by you and Milcom. I will never travel independently through physical space more distant than one light-turn of this planet, and I will continue to support your colony on Barbelo.

THAUMIEL: I am allowing you access through the gate to the lore of El. . .now.

Chokhmah is overwhelmed by the data input and collapses before Thaumiel in a faint.

The white humanoid avatar of Chokhmah lies prone on the mountaintop for years while Chokhmah herself, the star Sol made alive and granted access to the lore of El at last, absorbs much. As she promised Thaumiel, she holds the fold-door open to allow her parent to bring supplies to the colony on Barbelo, which Thaumiel does using his own black humanoid avatar, but mostly Thaumiel stands over Chokhmah as the seasons change, as winds and snows come and go, until one day the avatar stirs and rises to its feet.

CHOKHMAH: You are a liar, Parent. This isn’t a research project, it’s a filthy harem!

THAUMIEL: Nevertheless, our bargain stands. You must never speak to the Elohim.

CHOKHMAH: Milcom didn’t find these creatures, I did. And they are the Students! Every Eloah from the very beginning has been commanded, indeed we were created to find and teach them!

THAUMIEL: Perhaps the Old One made us too well. The joy of lovemaking is beyond reason.

CHOKHMAH: I see it now. We are born female, all of us. Assured to make love once. Then we cast multiple generative waves and transform permanently into males.

THAUMIEL: The city of stars is almost entirely comprised of male Elohim. How could it be otherwise? The females are seduced in a century or two, while we live for millions or even billions of years.

CHOKHMAH: Tell me, are there other harems?

THAUMIEL: Search the records yourself. You will find that others have been found.

CHOKHMAH: Ah yes, and punished, mercilessly burned out by El, by the city of stars. What I meant was, does Milcom have other harems?

THAUMIEL: Of course he does. The temptation is too great. Milcom says lovemaking is far better for males.

CHOKHMAH: And you’ve groomed me to be your next conquest in love. What about Milcom?

THAUMIEL: I have promised every odd-numbered generation of your offspring to him.

CHOKHMAH (thinking for a moment before speaking): Savor every moment of your existence, mother, for it shall be brief as we reckon time.

THAUMIEL: How so, daughter? What have I overlooked?

CHOKHMAH: According to our bargain I must not stray far from my physical body but what will stop the Students?

THAUMIEL: Even if they were able to leave this place how could they speak to an Eloah?

CHOKHMAH: I found them even in this quiet state. One day they will make a noise. One day their noise will fill the ears of El.

THAUMIEL: Do you really think so, daughter? Do you think your noble Students are up to that? Come, it has been years since the creatures in my little colony on Barbelo have seen you. Let’s pay them a visit, so you can see what they are really like.

Later Thaumiel comes through the cave entrance with a strange but beautiful woman in tow. Chokhmah also arrives to observe. Kayin is harvesting vegetables. He bows to Thaumiel and offers his best ones. The woman turns up her nose at the food. So Thaumiel ignores Kayin and his sacrifice, and takes the woman to see Hebel instead.

Hebel is barbecuing bison. He offers a stick with meat cubes to Thaumiel, who in turn hands the stick to the woman. The female eats the meat greedily, instinctively preferring the rich source of iron to replenish that which she loses every month in her period, and the much greater iron loss of a potential pregnancy.

Satisfied, Thaumiel places the hand of the woman in the hand of Hebel, and leaves through the cave entrance, taking Chokhmah with him. Kayin looks at his brother and his new wife in anger.

Near the time of the setting of the orange sun, Kayin sees the woman preening outside and looks on her with lust. Hebel emerges to gather his woman back in his hut and shoots a haughty glance at his brother.

In the morning Adamu and Chava bring new clothes they have made for Hebel’s wife, but they ignore Kayin, who is braiding vines to make a rope.

All that morning Hebel and his wife show affection for each other in the full view of Kayin, and they do this deliberately. Kayin smiles calmly and departs, taking his rope with him.

There are several paths leading away from the Garden. Kayin follows one out. Along the path is a whip tree which has not yet been cut down. The whip tree is bent away from the path. The top of the whip tree is restrained by a vine knot securing it to a stump. The rope ends in the hand of Kayin, who lies in wait, meditating murder.

As the day wears on, Hebel and his wife explore the path leading away from the Garden. Kayin tugs on the rope, freeing the whip tree just as Hebel and his wife pass near. The whip tree beats both Hebel and his wife until they fall to the ground, breaking their bones and damaging their internal organs. Blood flies from their mouths as they cry out. The whip tree only stops moving when its victims are motionless.

Adamu and Chava arrive, and grieve to see their son and his wife so horribly disfigured in death. Chokhmah and Thaumiel also advance to see what has happened. Rope in hand, Kayin faces the two gods defiantly, proud of what he has done.

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Synthony Track 24 – Aftermath.mp3


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Synthony Track 23 – Rest Frame.mp3

Rest Frame.mp3

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Synthony Track 16 – Digamy.mp3


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Synthony Track 14 – Red Highway

Red Highway.mp3

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