TC3

Judith was met in the desert by a number of Jewish farmers who lived a few miles inland from the Mediterranean, at a kibbutz founded by Polish immigrants in 1943 named Yad Mordechai. Judith could see the kibbutz near at hand. The settlement lay on the coast highway only eight miles north of the city of Gaza and in later years it was only two and a half miles outside of the border of the Gaza Strip. Judith spoke no Polish, nor at that point had she even learned Hebrew, which had been revived from extinction. But all she had to do was brandish the tattoo on her forearm, and it was enough for the pioneers.

In the weeks and months that followed, Judith began to suspect she had been taken to her new home by an actual angel of God. The settlers refused to speak of Michael, other than to acknowledge they were on good terms with him. That first morning began to seem like a dream to Judith. But much fighting lay ahead, and it became much more like a nightmare.

During the War of Independence when the Israeli defense activity completely abandoned the coastal highway running south from Tel Aviv, Judith’s kibbutz at Yad Mordechai was completely cut off. Only two private aircraft maintained contact between north and south, carrying newspapers and boxes of medical supplies. The pilots of these aircraft were called Mahal, or foreign volunteers. Judith herself was part of the Gahal, or immigrant soldiers. Most of the children in the kibbutz were called sabra. That is, they had been born in Palestine and knew no other home. Judith was their guardian when their parents worked the fields, both before and during the war.

Egypt hurled two infantry battalions, one armored battalion, and an artillery battalion against the kibbutz for five days. Much enemy armor was taken out with the PIAT (Projectile, Infantry, Anti-Tank) mortar. There was a subtle line about a hundred meters out where the soil of the desert made a sudden transition to the soil of the kibbutz. Perhaps it was an artifact of the water table. Before the battle the kibbutzim already set the elevation of the PIAT to strike this line by firing dummy rounds. Now it was only a matter of rotating the barrel on its iron pivot sunk into the ground to take aim at approaching tanks. When fired each round contained a shaped charge massing one kilogram, designed to penetrate 100mm of armor.

Those tanks which managed to breach the perimeter were set light at close range with Molotov cocktails or attacked with hand grenades whose fragments would enter the tank through the view slit, wounding the crew and forcing them to retire. Other tanks were taken out with buried mines, and still others simply broke down and were dragged out of range by armored cars. But there were just too many Egyptians and the shelling never ceased.

When the settler’s ammunition was spent Judith and the other uninjured settlers helped carry the wounded through the Egyptian lines under the cover of darkness. Yad Mordechai lay abandoned, and in the morning the Egyptians occupied the place and burned it to the ground. But during those five days of resistance Tel Aviv was saved from being overrun. The stubborn defense at Yad Mordechai gave Tel Aviv time to bring in reinforcements and firm up the defensive line on the road between the city and Gaza.

Between the third and fourth cease-fire in the war Judith and the Polish settlers moved back into the ruins of Yad Mordechai and began to rebuild their farm. There would be a sharp bout of renewed fighting in the winter, followed by a fourth and final cease fire, but Judith judged the continued existence of her new nation was no longer in doubt.

                          * * * * *

Even as Elyon and Belial aided Bat-El to establish a covenant people on Earth they were bitterly opposed to her doing the same thing in Kemen. The interloper named Michael had made Salem and the surounding country a lost cause in Elyon’s view. He sent his army to contain the plague and neutralize Michael, but Ophan Judith and her Fallen Angels had proven remarkably efficient at shielding Michael from being abducted or killed. As a consequence Salem was sliced out of intercourse with the rest of the Middle Lands.

Michael wished to bring all these things to a head and flew by way of the avatar of Bat-El direct to the Adanite capital, where he was made to stew for a number of days in a dungeon cell before receiving his first visitor, the Hashmal Bezaliel.

The noblelan moved very close to Michael’s iron cell to look directly into his eyes. After studying hym quietly for a time he said, “The Lord Elyon sends his regards, Bat-El.”

Michael smiled. “I made no secret of the union, yet Hashmal Zadkiel came all the way to Salem to deny it, and he pronounce death upon me for having the audacity to claim it.

“The Lord knows that you put on something of a conjuring act just before he opened a fold-door in Salem to whisk Melchizedek away to Earth. Only Bat-El could have timed things so.”

“How wonderful that both you and your god deny the lies of Zadkiel and have come to belief.”

“Certain actions and non-actions will be required of you,” said Bezaliel, “and you must obey. ”

“Elyon knows well I can choose to end my life at any time. No threat of death or torment can compel me to do his bidding, let alone the whims of one of his thralls.”

Bezaliel smiled and said, “Oh, a martyr is really the last thing we want, Bat-El. Lord Elyon has a far better idea. Your sentence of death will be set aside. Instead, we shall parade you captive in a cage through every settlement from here to Salem. The people must see the humiliation of their would-be god, Bat-El dressed up in the body of a helpless captive.”

“That will require backtracking on Elyon’s part, Bezaliel. Or have you forgotten your Lord Elyon’s decree pronouncing my death for presuming to teach Elyonim that I am the living avatar of Bat-El? Now I am to live after all?”

Bezaliel curled his lips. “The rabble have short memories. The Lord Elyon also demands you reveal to him the secret of merging with a lan as a living avatar, as you clearly have done.”

“Very good. When my mother and father have brought Ophan Lilith here for, let us say, a week of final instruction, in somewhat more comfortable surroundings than this cell, and after they have sent her safely home to Salem once more, I will conform to the demands of Elyon.”

Bezaliel chuckled. “Bat-El, you are in absolutely no position to make any demands of your own.”

“Very well, Bezaliel. I will now shed this container of meat. After that I will let Elyon know, through more direct means that are always available to his daughter, how close he came to learning the trick of having a meat sack of his very own before your arrogant intrasigence ruined it.”

“Hold! I will bring your request before the Lord himself.”

                          * * * * *

After the war someone who appeared to be a very tall boy of indeterminate race arrived at Yad Mordechai. Che said, “I am named Elin, a servant of one who is known to the people of this farm. Michael would have me speak with Judith Margolies, one of the kibbutznikim here.”

Judith was relieved of her duties teaching the children and brought to one of the empty houses in the kibbutnikiyot section to meet Elin. She saw how the short-haired newcomer was at least a foot shorter than Michael, yet che was still loomed like a tree over Judith. And being this close to hem, Judith was entirely unsure if the visitor was male or female. It was her first encounter with one of the nephilim.

The jen said, “Peace be with you, Judith Margolies. I am called Elin. I serve the one who met you on a beach of the English Channel and asked if you would hunt the enemies of Jews throughout the world.”

“And it is proof of your sincerity, Elin, that you know exactly what he said to me on that early morning.”

“Michael sent me, first of all, to ask if you were well.”

“Apart from my trusty British-made rifle,” Judith began, “I have very little in the way of personal possessions. I own some clothing, I ‘own’ a radio I share with the others in the Women’s House, and I have other such simple things. There are a few tractors and jeeps, but they belong to the whole community. All the profits of the kibbutz are pooled together for the needs of the laborers. I have a little pocket money from my reserve duty. I have good health. In fine, apart from the occasional firefight with the Arabs, you may tell Michael I am living in utopia.”

“That is good to hear,” said Elin, “because it clears the way to my next question. Have you heard of a man named Horst Wagner?”

Judith wanted to spit, but caught herself as she realized she was indoors. She said, “What Jew doesn’t curse the name of the German diplomat who was instrumental in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of European Jews to death camps in Poland? I know he was arrested by the allies and testified at the Nuremberg trials as a witness. But what happened to him after that I know very little.”

“Then Judith, allow me to pick up his trail where it runs cold for you. Late in 1947 Wagner was placed in an internment camp for Nazi war criminals called Nuremberg-Langwasser but it was guarded very weakly. He managed to escape to Austria and made contact with a rat line.”

A rat line was a kind of underground railroad for Nazis, and Judith didn’t need that explained to her.

Elin went onto say, “Specifically, he availed himself of the Kloster Line run by elements in the Catholic Church. He was hidden in a network of monasteries until a German bishop named Alois Hudal made arrangements for him to obtain an International Red Cross passport. He then made his way to Genoa, Italy. Using Vatican funds he sailed to Argentina to link up with the likes of Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele. We’re going after those last two, eventually, but for right now we’re beautifully set up to get Horst Wagner, and Michael wants you to be part of the extraction.”

“Who else is part of this?”

“There’s a woman of the B’nei Elohim named Adriel. She has a certain talent, as do each one of us. Adriel can cause others to have illusions. She can make herself appear to be a native South American woman without this…halo…you see on my head. She’s been working Wagner undercover for two months. Wagner prefers a very neat home and Adriel has been coming in to tidy things up for him. Along the way he’s been flirting with her, much to Adriel’s disgust off the record, but she’s very professional about it. Recently she got Wagner to agree it’s time for a major field day so that’s where we come in. We’re going in as extra cleaning girls.”

Elin threw a bundle on the dining table and said, “You should change into these. I can step out if you want me to.”

“That depends on whether you’re a bloke or a bird. I still can’t tell which.”

“I’m both, actually. I lean slightly to the bloke side but I can turn around while you disrobe, if you think that will be sufficient.”

Judith nodded. While she was changing she said, “Where do you come in?”

“My code name in the B’nei Elohim is Arc Flash. Sometimes they call me the Stick. I’m going to incapacitate the subject so you can deliver him to your government alive and fit to be prosecuted.”

“Why does Michael want me to be involved?”

“Someone has to make the actual delivery of the package to Mossad HQ. Michael thinks there are multiple advantages all the way around if it’s you.”

In a few more moments Judith was fully dressed as an Argentine housekeeper. “Go ahead and turn around, Elin.”

Che did, and after a quick glance at Judith, the scenery around hem changed from a home in the kibbutz to a back alley in Buenos Aires. They had gone there so no one could see the transition. Judith marvelled at this once more, but she was not stunned to totally incapacitation by the transition. Michael once used the same trick to whisk her away from England.

Judith followed Elin out of the alley to one of the better-looking houses on that street. There was no need to knock. The door was opened just as they arrived on the portico. Judith assumed it was opened by Jashen, and she noted that he seemed to be of normal height, for once, although he was still somewhat taller than most men she knew.

They followed him inside. Judith saw Wagner standing in his den and tried to suppress her rage. She had picked up enough German in the camps to know he called he was asking “Diego” if these were the housekeepers he spoke of. Immediately after he spoke a miniature bolt of lightning played between Elin and Horst Wagner. He fell to the floor in a dead faint.

Jashen said, “Sit on the floor right next to him, Judith.”

She did as she was instructed. Elin sat the unconscious man up in front of Judith and propped up his knees so together they both had a small profile. Then che said, “I’m sorry about this next part, it will probably disgust you more than Jashen’s undercover work did him, but Judith, you need to hold his knees so he doesn’t spread back out, at least until you get where you’re going.”

While they were gathering Wagner into an even smaller configuration Jashen went through his desk drawers as though he knew exactly what he was looking for and where they were. He threw a small book down at Judith’s side. “There’s his fucking ill-gotten Red Cross passport.” Then he threw down a thick ream of correspondence right next to that. “And your Mossad agency should find that stuff to be very interesting reading indeed. But now, Judith, off you pop back to Israel. I’m glad we met, and I hope we work together again.”

“Wait! Tell me one thing, Adriel. Who is Michael?”

“More to the point, you should be asking what is Michael.”

But she didn’t have the opportunity to ask. The next thing Judith knew she was still crouching with Wagner on his kitchen floor, but the floor was now just a circle of wood lying in front of Mossad headquarters at the Red House on Yarkon Street in Tel Aviv.

                          * * * * *

One of the farmers who dwelt outside of Salem drove to the lines of the army ringing the city. The farmer and three sturdy young len removed a box from their wagon and bore it toward the city gate using staves threaded through brass rings on the box.

One of the Eyes of Elyon barked at the yeng carrying the box, ‘What yang of you are the loadmaster?’ The three dirks lowered the box to the ground and edged fearfully away. The oldest lan said, “This shipment be mine, milord. I am Sibiel of Odargas.”

“Do you pledge troth for whatsoever goods you bear in the box?”

“I do, milord.”

“Yet I would see within.”

Crestfallen, Sibiel ordered the dirks to open the box. The Ophan Lilith tumbled out, shielding vision dazed by the sudden light. The three dirks feigned outrage at the sight of har.

The Eye of Elyon said, “Stand apart from this Sibiel, if you value your lives! Contrary to the will of Elyon hy bears aid to the fugitive daughter of King Melchiyahu to enter Salem.”

But Ophan Lilith was not cowed by the pretensions of this uncouth lackey of Lord Zadkiel. She cried out in a loud voice, “May Bat-El send down fire to slay you and your companions!”

At first the Eyes of Elyon thought the princess was mocking their speech, but only a few heartbeats after She spoke bolts of fire shot down from the clear sky. So bright and hot was this fire that Sibiel and the three dirks thought their eyebrows had been burnt off, and the noise of the attack seemed to deafen them. The immolation left only smoking grease spots where twelve Eyes of Elyon stood an instant before. None remained to hinder Lilith from proceeding to the gates of Salem.

When the living avatar of Elyon learned what happened hy knew the attack was interference from Bat-El. It was the first such meddling that Bat-El had dared to do in Kemen. So Samael went himself to the vicinity of Salem to impress upon Zadkiel the dilemma now confronting hym.

He said, “The people must not come to believe this yang Michael is in union with an eloah. Otherwise my controversy with him will lead angels to hold the eloah Bat-El in contempt. That is the natural impulse of world-dwellers when dealing with enemies among your own order. Also I have encouraged the people in their belief that yen are unwarlike, and to be treated as mere property. The Ophan Lilith and her so-called Fallen Angels, who are without peer in Heaven, contradict this tradition every day. This cannot be permitted to continue. Yet when it comes down to it, who is really worthy to confront them?”

Zadkiel snorted at the mere thought and said, “Surely my Lord makes a ridiculous joke.”

Samael continued to explain things to Zadkiel as though his prophet had not made hyz interruption at all.

“Lilith is held at bay only by the continued health Michael. So I am willing to tolerate the human incarnation of an eloah being caged like a beast, because I assure you that is the only thing staying the annihilation of your expeditionary force by the Fallen Angels. When you put the city under siege you must keep Michael in full view of Ophan Lilith at all times, with pikelen ready to run hym through at the slightest provocation from her Fallen Angels or the forces of Cherub Melchiyahu. I assure you victory will hang upon that slender thread.”

In the days of King Melchiyahu when war was come to the city of Salem and Michael was captive of Hashmal Zadkiel, Ophan Lilith instructed her chief lieutenant Imrael in what Michael said was ‘War the Way Water Flows’.

And Imrael inquired, “Your Royal Highness, I know you have fought in countless battles. How did you survive all of them?”

Lilith replied, “A coward thinks only of his personal survival. Thus he endangers himself and his entire force. But a yan of war advances on the battlefield already reconciled with death. She goes into battle as though she were certainly doomed to die. When the thought of dying has already been accepted, this frees the yan of war to focus only on fighting. Thus she retains her life. Keeping her life, she gains victory. Gaining victory, she preserves the life of the people she protects.”

True to her foretelling Lilith carried the day. The Fallen Angels drove off the Adanites in the first engagement and there followed a brief season of peace. But none yet dared to hope Elyon had put the conquest of Salem out of his mind.

At a beautiful cataract in the mountains east of Salem Lilith and a squad of her Fallen Angels refreshed themselves. Afterwards they resumed their usual mode of riding slowly on their horses while patrolling all of the land approaches to the city for intruders. The waterfall completely blanked out the sound and vibration of onrushing hooves until it was nearly too late. Not even Lilith’s hypersensitive mare gave warning.

Undetected, Adanite horselen raced up behind Lilith, her chief lieutenant Imriel, and the other yen. At the last instant Lilith’s sword was unlimbered only to crash with sparks against a mighty iron rod. Lilith was knocked clean off her horse.

Still stunned, Lilith witnessed another horselan decapitating Imriel with a single stroke and choked back her grief. her horse possessed the intelligence to linger with Lilith rather than follow her equine instinct, which was to bolt. Shaking her head clear, Lilith mounted up again.

Poor Imriel was dead but four other Fallen Angels survived the assault and they rallied around har. Lumbering after them at a full gallop, Lilith and her companions loosed many arrows and felled the one wielding the iron staff.

Two other weaving horselen were slain blocking arrows fired at the one who killed Imriel. he had a swift horse and far too much of a head start. Hedove into the safety of a vast forest glade guarded by a large armed encampment.

Contrary to her every wish Lilith reared back and brought har horse to a stop. The other Fallen Angels conformed to har movements as the soldier they had chased turned to face them.

Seeing at last the face of the lan who killed Imriel, the princess mouthed his name with all the bile She could summon: ‘Zadkiel!’

Yet every indication Lilith had gathered from the path of burning villages told her Zadkiel was yet twelve to fifteen leagues to the west. She guessed that Zadkiel must have dragged hyz army here by forced march overnight. But that led her to marvel how he knew to come to just this place. “Elyon,” Lilith muttered, answering her own unspoken question.

As though in answer, Demonstroke soared over the trees. Lilith was shocked to see the last dragon in Heaven had been brought to this fight, but he orbited far overhead and made no move to attack. Then She understood Demonstroke was brandished only as insurance against any more interference from Bat-El’s avatar.

Lilith signaled for the Fallen Angels to gather close around har. She said, “Zadkiel will pay for Imriel, life for life. You needn’t follow me.” She gestured to the back of her head. “Bat-El has said my death will not be my death, but she has made no such promise to you.”

But the Fallen Angels were of a single mind. One of them named Sarathiel answered for all and said, “Lead us, Your Royal Highness. For Imriel!’

So heedless of the danger Lilith turned her horse to face the enemy. She sped forward to attack Zadkiel directly. Buy Zadkiel ordered the canvas covering Michael’s cage to be removed, revealing hym just as Lilith entered the range of the enemy’s darts. She brought her horse to a halt once more.

Zadkiel said, “You can kill me from where you stand, Lilith, but I assure you Michael would join me in death.”

Lilith stared at Zadkiel with narrowing eyes and rode a bit closer. Then moving in a well-practiced dance, Elyon’s best pikeyeng, arranged in a ring around Michael’s cage, brought their forest of spikes to the horizontal, yet not toward Lilith, but inward, toward Michael.

“Don’t sink to this, Zadkiel,” She called out in disgust. ‘I expect as much from Samael but it is not worthy of an unpossessed Gerash noblelan.”

But her words were mere bluster. Lilith was shocked how neatly the use of Michael as a living shield curtailed her actions.

Zadkiel seemed to read her thoughts. ‘Michael has become a noose around your neck, and the closer you try get to hym the tighter that noose will become. How easy it is to make you dance with a simple threat to Michael’s life!’

Michael shouted, “Lilith! Forget about me!’

Lilith’s eyes became moist as She shook her head with a sad smile. She said, “Did you not know that is the only thing I could never do?’

Yet there was nothing more she could do that day on the field. Spurring her horse, she led her Fallen Angels back to the city .

On the eve of the second battle for Salem Sarathiel came to Lilith and said, “Your Royal Highness, you have been gracious to instruct me in the way of Bat-El, but many of the Fallen Angels have remarked that you are a yan of very few words. It seems that to be a yen of war is to set yourself apart from all other yen, not to mention apart from all len and jen and men.”

Lilith said, “This is true, Sarathiel, but it is not not rooted in a desire to be considered elite, and therefore powerful. Power attracts people who are more interested in expanding and clinging to their power rather than nourishing their mind in the way of Bat-El. But the common people lack ambition. Here in Salem and even in distant Rammon they have embraced the preaching of Michael and live in natural simplicity, and so too does the yan of war. She protects her inner dignity even as she protects the people, by being supremely mysterious. Only the outward actions of her can be observed, never her guarded inner core.”

Sarathiel said, “Your Royal Highness, before I make an assertion, I always take care to qualify it with, ‘I may be wrong about this, but…’ or ‘I’m not really certain, but…’ or ‘This will probably sound stupid, but…'”

Lilith said, “You do not even realize it, but with such self-effacing language as you describe, you are really playing down your intelligence in order to gain acceptance from the opposite sex.”

Sarathiel said “Your Royal Higness, are saying that mincing words is not true humility, but actually a form of display?”

Lilith said, “Yes! And when your tentative speech becomes a habit, you begin to automatically think bad of yourself. This serves only to perpetrate the dominance that len enjoy over yan which is reinforced by physical strength and by law, None of those things are important to the yan of war. She is interested, rather, only in the survival and well-being of the people.”

And Sarathiel said, “Excellent.”

During the battle the King’s forces, which were a larger body than the Fallen Angels, took the role of the primary force. Lilith’s yen were the skirmishers, the saboteurs, and the assassins.

On a grander scale, it was King Melchiyahu and his ordinary force that gained the victory, but Zadkiel’s yeng remembered only the leather-clad yen who had somehow gotten behind their lines, throwing knives, cutting throats, driving off horses and setting fire to wagons.

And Elyon, watching through the eyes of the dragon Demonstroke flying high over the field, witnessed the defeat of Zadkiel. He discounted his numerical losses and ordered more yeng to march west from Adan. They moved toward Salem like buckets of water in a fire brigade.

Zadkiel spent the lives of yeng on the Plain of Galcha without remorse until the Adanite horde was on the utter brink of mutiny. Then Melchiyahu and Lilith withdrew closer to Salem but the enemy did not pursue.

There was relative quiet for a time as Zadkiel waited for replacement troops to come west. But on the day before the third battle for Salem Sarathiel came to Lilith said, “Look at that, Your Royal Highness! Thrice ten thousand arrayed against us! Did you ever see such a host?”

Lilith said, “A large force does not assure the enemy a victory, Sarathiel. What are the stakes? They are fighting to restore Salem as a taxpaying province in Samael’s empire. But our people can barely made do as things stand now. Paying the ‘worship’ tribute to the Eyes of Samael would starve them. They are fighting to survive.”

Sarathiel objected, “But the hashmalim Zadkiel and Bezaliel are over there!”

Lilith said, “And they hate each other more than they hate us. They only joined together against me only because Samael commanded it.”

Sarathiel said, “But under them are the most famous erelim and sarim in House Gerash!”

Lilith said, “And how did they get so famous, Sarathiel? By their reckless aggression. If I present my shock troops to them as bait they will rush out to engage them, thinking how this will advance their reputation.”

Sarathiel said, “But behind them are the best fed and best trained soldiers in Kemen!”

Lilith said, “But they aren’t fighting for their wives or cities or farms in the east, they are fighting to prop up a bankrupt culture and a fragile slave economy.

Sarathiel said, “Your Royal Highness, help me to understand how we, numbering in our thousands, can hope to prevail against our enemies numbering in tens of thousands?”

Lilith said, “A light commando force wreaking havoc behind enemy lines will tie down a much greater force hunting for it. A small army that is still and rested with have the better of a large army that is worn out marching double-time to meet it.”

Sarathiel said, “But there must be a limit to how small a unit can be before it is ineffective no matter how intelligently it is employed.”

Lilith nodded in agreement. She said, “Too light, and we invite aggression. Too heavy, and our army becomes unwieldy. A commander in harmony with the way of Bat-El coordinates the small with the great, the strong with the weak, the eager with the reticent, balancing opposites to attain the middle path. I will unleash the extraordinary force. When they see the carnage wrought by the Fallen Angels, they will hesitate. And in that moment my father the king will strike with the main force. Salem must prevail because the army is humble. Our soldiers and the officers who lead them do not think of self-aggrandizement of the aggrandizement of the state.”

During the battle the King’s forces, which were a larger body than the Fallen Angels, took the role of the primary force. Lilith’s yen were the skirmishers, the saboteurs, and the assassins. On a grander scale, it was King Melchiyahu and his ordinary force that gained the victory, but Zadkiel’s yeng remembered only the leather-clad yen who had somehow gotten behind their lines, throwing knives, cutting throats, driving off horses and setting fire to wagons.

They clashed in the ravine of Anixi and Melchiyahu was driven down the brook to Nolesh Wood. But Zadkiel’s greater numbers were of no advantage there. Then Lilith came with timely Fallen Angel reinforcements to turn Zadkiel’s flank and press the Adanite army to the very edge of the gorge of Armak.

The flags of truce were brought out, and with the King’s consent Lilith rode into the lines of the enemy to see if Zadkiel, with hyz back against an awesome precipice, had come to new wisdom. He had not truly believed Elyon’s words concerning Lilith, but that was before this fight.

‘I find I want you working for me and not against me,’ Zadkiel told her as Michael watched from his cage only a few paces away. ‘You can destroy this finger of army in this position, but I fear that Michael is close to the edge and something might happen to hym during the confusion. To keep Michael safe you will dissolve your band of yen dressed as warriors, ride at the head of this army, and go where I command you in the East Lands and the West Lands and Salem, and every place where angels and men dare to hold the law of the God of Kemen in contempt.’

‘Where is the honor here, Zadkiel? Where is the glory? Do you really want me to command your army while every decision is tainted by holding hostage a peaceful yang that I love? Elyon would do better to shun pretense and send Demonstroke down to finish the Fallen Angels.’

Zadkiel was delighted to hear Lilith declare that she loved the prisoner. ‘Then are the rumors true, Princess? Michael must not fall outside of the control of my army but he need not be confined to a cage. Consider very carefully. You could go to hym this very night.’

‘At a word from my father every Salemite would flock into his army, Hashmal Zadkiel; yea, even the yen, the infirm, the dirks and the dolls. The war would grow so bloody that the whole face of the land would be covered with the dead, and no one would be left to bury them.

This,’ said sha, ‘must not be.’ Then she turned on her heels and quit the parley. There had been no need to prod Lilith to do the right thing. Never was Michael more proud of her .’Sha knows, Elyon. The things you love are always used against you. Always! she knows!’

‘Sha does know,’ Michael replied, ‘but woe to those who turn love into a weapon and dare to use it against the ones who love. Beware, Zadkiel. Your doom lies before you. It takes no supernatural power of foresight to know the struggle for Salem will end badly for you.’