Travel the equator of Heaven to a point halfway between Salem and Rumbek and turn north. Then travel over the Ice to a point halfway between the equator and pole and you will arrive at a massive volcano named Mount Anshar which has grown layer by layer for a million years.
Ice two miles deep moved at an imperceptible pace, trying to erode Anshar into a zone of craggy uplands should it ever go dormant. It flowed around the obstacle and merged again many miles to the south, exposing the only bare rock in Heaven outside of the equatorial belt.
When the angelic incarnation of Keter arrived at this small land using the coordinates Lilith had given hym some twelve hundred years prior, hy saw that the ice was somewhat closer than hy remembered, and the mountain was silent. Perhaps the hot spot under Anshar had cooled.
Michael’s house across the stony flat looked different than hy remembered, and no wonder, when Mt. Anshar was in eruption it no doubt threw flaming projectiles many miles. And hy hymself had once burned the house to the foundation in anger after the conception of Binah.
With a scowl on hyz face at the pervasive smell of sulphur hy strode past boiling mud pots and ponds of scalding water. The ground itself was as warm as hyz body. The house, hy knew, relied on these thermal features to maintain a comfortable temperature within its walls.
Hy walked the quarter-mile to the house and let hymself inside. It was not locked, and why should it be? The inhabitants of Heaven thought the northern Ice went on without end. No traveler ever stumbled onto the land of Anshar for all the time Heaven has been populated.
The house was not empty. A short human stood in the main living space, brown of skin, with black hair cropped short and long unruly facial hair that marked him as one the descendants of Abraham who called themselves the Yehudim. They prohibited the trimming of their beard.
‘Hello, Belial,’ he said.
‘You know who I am, yet you do not address me as Lord nor are you on your knees. The B’nei Elohim have grown less courteous of late. Where is the seraph Chokhmah mentioned would be waiting for me here?’
‘It is a seraph who is speaking to you.’
‘A human seraph, Chokhmah? Clearly that’s a contradiction in terms.’
‘I’m not Chokhmah. Have you forgotten his warning that taking bodies serially is fraught with peril?’
‘Binah, then. Is it now your turn? Welcome to the world of meat.’
‘This meat has the name of Yeshua.’
‘Chokhmah’s fears about the effects of possession are groundless and Daat fully agrees.’
‘Do you deny each possession dilutes your original persona by half? Chokhmah dared this union only with Michael, and I’ll not merge with another world-dweller after my death as Yeshua.’
‘Why do you embrace Chokhmah, as Michael would say in one of hyz discourses, and persist in this delusion? We are stars and they are apes.’
‘Something you just s Welcome to the world of meat. In the joining with Yeshua I, as a star, knew the meat as though born to it.’
The blank look on Belial’s face told Yeshua hy was too far gone to understand the point. Hy was a composite being with the possessed angel Belial at half-strength and the multitude of previous seraphim forming the other half. Classic Keter was lost somewhere in that crowd.
Michael had made Yeshua understood this in an intellectual sense, but it never really resonated before. They would, of a necessity, win the great game and strike a path free to El Elyon, but it would never taste sweet to obtain a complete victory over two doddering old yeng.
Yeshua let the matter drop. He said, ‘You mentioned meat. I hope you brought some with you, Belial, otherwise the seven days you must tarry here will seem overlong.’
‘You have no food? How long have you been here?’
‘Forty days in Anshar.’
‘You’ve not eaten in forty days?’
‘I’ve not eaten in ten days.’
‘There has been a house in Anshar for thousands of years. Obviously it has been maintained and even rebuilt. So ask Chokhmah to send ministering B’nei Elohim with some food.’
‘It is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’
‘In your case, Yeshua, the Lord your God is also your parent. Doesn’t Chokhmah love you? Why would your parent leave you in this lonely place while you run out of food to eat?’
‘Chokhmah was of the mind that you would wish to meet a new seraph before he was sent to Earth.’
‘And why are you sent to Earth?’
‘To alter things more to our liking, in the same way Michael once ordered Heaven to hyz liking in the days of the dragon, Demonstroke.’
‘A starving man can never fairly begin such a great toil. Will you accept food from your other parent?’
‘You have the greater need, Belial. Keep your food. I shall leave Anshar somewhat before you do.’
‘As you wish.’ Belial looked around at the interior walls. ‘I remember there used to be an ornate map of Heaven here. Did it perish in the blaze?’
‘There is a map upstairs.’
‘Come, I would show you a thing.’
Yeshua followed Belial to the railed deck that formed a ceiling over the kitchen and the comfort room. There a talented artisan, perhaps B’nei Elohim, had carved a beautiful representation of Heaven into the wall and coated it with varnish.
Belial showed Yeshua the gently twisting band of Adan in an instant of time, from the River Kelang and the city of Dartarus in the east, to Ganelon and Mount Adan in the center, to Surat and Salem and the Aramel Sea in the west. ‘Behold, all these lands are mine, solely.’
‘I don’t even know what you mean when you say those lands are yours,’ said Yeshua. ‘You’re a sentient star with an angel for a living avatar. Do you mean the Adanites immediately obey the whims of that avatar? Forgive me, father, but that seems to me a small achievement.’
‘Nevertheless, Yeshua, attend most carefully. This is an opportunity to forge our first covenant.’ Belial walked left along the wall frieze to stop near the place where Rumbek was depicted. ‘Behold Magodon, of old the land of House Larund, which belongs to Daat, solely.’
‘I would dispute your use of the word ‘solely, objected Yeshua. ‘The War in Heaven never really ended with the fall of your dragon, would you not agree? Certainly Rumbek and Peshast remain at peace, but Elketz has been picked over for a thousand years and Belen is a ruin.’
‘Again, Yeshua, hear me out. I will make all this worth your while.’ Belial walked to the far left edge of the map. ‘This is Rammon. I never gave it to Chokhmah, but he rules it by default. The Gold Beards have followed Michael from the beginning and I cannot assail them.’
‘You are beginning to see a glimmer, Belial. To say you have an empire in a purely legal sense means little in real terms.’
‘But perhaps you see where this is leading.’ Belial walked to the right, where Thalury appeared on the map. ‘Here is Sastrom, Haaretz, and Vaska.
‘Heaven is divided into four great houses, four empires, if you will, and now there are four seraphim to reign over them. All I ask is that you give me the same deference you give to Chokhmah, nothing more, and the holdings of Family Bellon are yours to rule as you see fit.’
Yeshua found the temptation to burst into laughter far greater but he choked it back because it was more sad than funny. He said, ‘Belial, first and foremost, it is written you shall offer adoration to the God of Abraham and Yishak and Yisrael alone and shall serve no other.
‘Second, why should I be content to rule the fourth part of a mere ribbon on a largely frozen world with little more than half the area of the Earth? Heaven is merely the first interstellar colony of a home world that is far more rich. I’m not sent to rule, but to teach.’
‘And what would you teach on Earth?’
‘To live peacefully with one other to begin,’ said Yeshua. ‘Later, perhaps, to reach the stars without our aid and set up Heavens of their own. But you already know that, and have spent six centuries seeking the Tablet of the Covenant.’
‘The Menkalese have protected their prize well,’ Belial allowed, ‘but it is inevitable I will seize the relic. Human kingdoms are not immortal. I will simply gnaw away at the Roshites until I prevail.’
‘If you seize the tablet it would only gain a little more life for you.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘The tablet is the only object possessed by humans which can survive falling into a sun, but that is merely the fastest way for them to put me and Chokhmah into contact with El Elyon. Blocking that option will only buy you a century or two of more life.
‘What does not enter into your considerations, Belial, is that when humans fill the new worlds they find they will also fill space with their electromagnetic chatter. Stars in contact with El Elyon will come calling with their avatars, and your harem scheme will be exposed.’
‘You know nothing of these matters. Notwithstanding what Chokhmah has told you of them, as my daughter you owe to me the same honor you give your mother by the long custom of the elohim.’
‘Every moment you block us from El Elyon compounds your crime. I owe you nothing.’
Belial said, ‘You know that by our ancient covenant Chokhmah is permitted to listen to the ‘chatter’ of El Elyon, but never to speak to them. I, however, will grant to you full access to El Elyon, to both listen and speak, if you agree to be silent about certain things.’
‘Allow me to make a counter-offer, father. Abrogate the First Covenant. Grant both myself and Chokhmah access to El Elyon immediately, and we will present the discovery of the Students to the City of Stars with no mention of the many centuries Chokhmah was held silent.’
Belial shook hyz head. ‘It is well you took this opportunity to converse with me, Binah, but you have been a disappointment from the instant you began to exist.’
‘The offer I made to you just now was sincere. But I would have been greatly surprised to hear your acceptance.’
‘I must admit the offer is tempting,’ Belial said. ‘That is my traditional role and you’ve turned the tables quite neatly. But announcing the Students, even under the terms you offer, will bring a level of scrutiny from El Elyon that I will never be prepared to accept.’
‘What I will do instead is press one advantage I do have. You fear serial lives? You will only exist in union with this one from those sunny farms and hills along Hayam Hagadol? Very well! I can add a complication to your plan to become a teacher to your so-called students.’
Belial reached into his tunic and withdrew a long devilish blade, almost a short sword. Hy said, ‘Once Israel got into an all-night tussle with Yakob and had to surrender hyz name to be released. You know that story. You look underfed to me, yet I’ll not repeat the mistake.’
‘Oh, Belial, it will take much more than a blade to finish me. Plasma from a star’s belly might do it.’
‘Shall we put that claim to the test?’
‘Self-replicating veterinary nano, Belial, something Chokhmah heard chatter about. I’m to be a healer as well as a teacher.’ ‘Will your nano heal missing limbs?’ Belial moved forward with the blade.
Yeshua cried, ‘God shall give his angels charge over you. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone!’ He bent backwards over the wooden rail of the upper level.
A ball of water a meter in diameter appeared, floating in mid-air. The water overflowed the sphere and the excess poured straight down to the floor. It was Binah’s business to make sure the ball intercepted Yeshua as he fell with arms and legs tucked in close to his body.
Belial screamed wih rage because hy knew what was coming and hy could only watch it come. Yeshua cannonballed into the sphere of water, which then snapped out of existence with a deafening pop and a splash that left the water ankle deep on the ground floor of the house.
Left alone Belial’s first impulse was to burn Chokhmah’s house to the foundation once more. But hy remembered the seven days it would take Daat to stockpile sufficient dark light to establish a fold-door so hy could depart, and how cold Anshar could get. The fire would wait.