TC5

                             5A

Even as the southern kingdom of Judah was being laid waste by the king of Babylon, the brother of the high priest in Jerusalem, a man named Lael, led a remnant of twenty-four Jews to the land of Haaretz in Kemen, where they were given possession of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tablet it contained by the decree of God Most High.

But Elyon and Chemah coveted the Tablet, as it was made by the hands of Bat-El himself and could survive being cast into the fires of a sun. Therefore a party of wayfarers sent by Chemah had tried to lull the Remnant by regaling them with tale before their leader, Marsayas, suddenly smote Lael with a cruel blade bearing four edges. What followed was a general melee.

Lael’s wife Sariah restrained Marsayas’ arm to prevent him from striking her husband with a second blow but she was unaware Lael was already bleeding out. The six Brown Beards who had traveled with him quickly jumped out of striking range of Abner, Asa, Josiah and Tobiah. But the Judahite woman named Serach and the Benjaminite woman named Sela restrained two of the fleeing Brown Beards by embracing their calves. As they were dragged, four other len were free to burst through an open hole in the ring of womenfolk seated around the campfire.

At the death cry of Lael the men who had been watching the animals on the rim of the camp immediately took the bows they carried on their backs and fitted arrows to them. They fired at Marsayas and two of the newcomers, shooting over the heads of the women hindering them. Still, four of Marsayas” company were free to make for their real target and rushed toward the Ark of the Covenant to seize it.

Lael’s sons Rosh, Jemuel, and Elam had not been lulled to sleep by Marsayas” tale and had already drawn the swords dangling from their waists. But a fold-door appeared with Lord Belphegor himself standing within, ready to take possession of the Tablet of the Abrahamic Covenant the instant one of the attackers were able to seize it.

Three separate sword duels commenced, and they were far more fierce than any of the len had foreseen. This left a fourth lan free to draw near to the Ark and seize it, but Bat-El entered the fray. When the angel touched the relic he immediately stiffened and fell dead.

Belphegor shifted his gaze to the tussle with blades and watched the humans vanquish their taller opponents one after the other. He was reminded of the tenacity of their forefather Jacob.

                             5B

The body of Marsayas and two of the len in his party fairly bristled with arrows. Jemima, Keturah, and Susanna slipped daggers between the ribs of the angelic strangers to finish them. Atara, Keziah, Dinah, and Leah then dragged the three angels to one edge of the plateau where the men tending the flocks of animals helped cast them over the side, still living or no they cared not.

Belphegor saw that Marsayas had failed him and that he had ran out of time. The fold-door, which always resembled a glass or crystal ball taller than a man owing to the way it bent light, snapped out of existence. Belphegor’s first attempt to seize the Ark had failed, and the Laelites knew the Ark was a prize much sought by none less than a seraph.

A grieving Sariah sought to revive her husband, but his life had already slipped away. She held his body throughout the night and when the white sun became visible over the rim of the Wall of God the sons of Lael buried him where they had made camp.

By that evening the shock of what had happened to them faded. None of the Brown Beards, if any had survived, crawled up to the plateau to renew their attack. So the three sons of Lael began to dispute which one of they would take up Lael’s office of high priest and chief.

Jemuel sank to his knees and said, “O living God of Abraham and Yishak and Yakob, if you will, make known what man of us shall be high priest and hear your voice on the Day of Atonement.”

When there was no answer Elam moved to remove the cover of the Ark of the Covenant with his bare hands, but he was knocked to the ground as though by lighting. Jemuel made no move to repeat the error. But when Rosh touched the Ark Bat-El did not smite him, so Jemuel considered his petition to be suitably answered.

Then Rosh took the White Scroll and found the place where his father Lael had added his own words to the words recorded by Leliel, the daughter of Michael and Lilith. And Leliel had written upon the scroll in characters unknown to Rosh, but the husband of Leliel, Jashen, had copied the words of his wife as Hebrew that Lael might understand them. This same Jashen had been seen by all of them, and he figured throughout the White Scroll. Rosh marveled that he never died.

Lael had added his account of bringing a remnant of the southern tribes to Keman, and daily he had inscribed their journeys in Kemen as though the scroll were a journal.

                             5C

Rosh read all the words of his father aloud to the Remnant, then he said, “I will add an account of last night’s battle at the foot of the Wall of God and of the death of our father at the hand of enemies who would steal the Ark. We will fulfill the charge laid upon him.”

Elam pondered this silently for a time, then he said to his younger brother, “God favors you to be the High Priest, that is plain, and so the oracles of God shall be committed to you. But think you strangers will never again attempt to take from us the Ark of the Covenant?”

Rosh shook his head. “No, Elam, they will return, and I know of a certainty that you are the most warlike of Father Lael’s sons. But when this yoke was laid upon our father it was the will of God that the office of both priest and judge should be in the grasp of one man.”

“Let it never be said that I doubt our Lord God,” replied Elam, “yet recall how this visitor Jashen took the Killing Relic from the hands of our father Lael. Had he not done this, mayhaps our father would be alive today.”

Rosh thought to rebuke his brother for his words of faithlessness, yet wisdom prevailed and Rosh knew Elam spoke only from his grief. He said, “I perceive that God Most High is wise, and employs his servants according to the temperament they each have rather than fits them uneasily to an unbending will. So let the offices of priest and judge now be carried out by two sons of Lael according to our skills. I will set my foot on the path marked out by the oracle of God, spoken or otherwise, but in all other things, beloved brother, I shall obey as though you were our father.”

Then Rosh set the White Scroll of Leliel within its clay pot and set the pot within the Ark of the Covenant. When he set the cover upon the Ark to conceal them Yahweh did not strike him dead. Therefore Elam was persuaded that Bat-El had accepted the division of the offices of priest and judge proposed by Rosh.

When the days of mourning for the High Priest Lael of the Levites had passed, Lael’s third son Rosh took he the Table of the Covenant and held it forth in front of him. Then turned he in a slow circle until a sound like that of a shofar trumpet came forth from the relic. And Lael’s third son Rosh said, “Behold, I am constrained to go there.” And Elam, the chieftain of the Remnant, was compelled to follow his younger brother that he might be true to his word.

                             5D

Yet both he and Jemuel grew wroth with their younger brother by the day for the admonitions of their father that came out of his mouth at regular intervals. Their father was dead, may he rest in peace, but here was little Rosh spouting Laelisms as though the old man somehow lived on through his third son. It rankled, yet neither Elam nor Jemuel dared gainsay God, who had made the Director to point to Rosh as the new High Priest.

Then Elam said to his brother Rosh, “Behold, the very Ark of God dwells in no tent. Would you have the snow fall upon our holy relic? Make you, therefore, curtains of fine twined linen. Adorn them with images of sphinxes, and link them with blue rings and gold clasps.” Then Rosh and his Benjaminite wife Sela toiled through the night to carry out the commandment of their chieftain Elam, but they could not even fairly begin to fashion the curtains before it was dawn and the Remnant broke fast to prepare for that day’s march north and west.

The twenty-three people of the Remnant could only travel away from the Wall of God for a single league by reason of the rough terrain and the thick undergrowth of dangerous flora, and on account of the age of Lael’s widow Sariah, and the livestock they took with them.

During the march Rosh recited from the White Scroll. “Grazing your animals in another man’s field, or burning his crops, is theft. The going rate for restitution for stolen oxen is five to one, and for sheep is four to one. If a thief cannot make full restitution, he becomes a slave.” While Rosh preached Elam and Jemuel grew angry again, but Elam could not order Rosh to be silent since his words were from the mouth of the God of the Remnant and they would have held him to be exceedingly impious.

But when they made camp Elam had words of his own for Rosh: “Make another tent from goats hair, to cover the tent of linen for the Ark of God, but this time the clasps are to be made from brass.” And Rosh persuaded his widowed mother Sariah to aid him and his wife in the mounting tasks, bending brass over a fire. Late into the night did Rosh and Sela and Sariah toil.

The next day when the Remnant resumed their overland march, Rosh again recited the laws written in Leliel’s White Scroll. He said, “If you see your neighbor’s animals running astray, you shall gather them in. “Magistrates among you shall not accept bribery from the rich, nor shall they favor the poor in their judgments. But if the people are stirred to become a mob when they perceive a judge has made his ruling unfairly, you shall not join them in doing evil.”

                             5E

Elam knew it had become a test of wills. When the Remnant ate supper he said to Rosh, “Yet a third covering for the tent shall be made of ram skins dyed red, and over this you shall lay badgers’ skins.” Then Josiah and his son Tobiah left the camp to hunt through the night. Zethan the Benjaminite and Asher, son of Jabez, killed four rams from the flocks of the Remnant for their skins, while Zehan’s wife Atara prepared herbs to make the red dye, but Elam forbade his wife Serach from helping Atara, and Jemuel too held back his own wife Iscah.

When the Remnant made ready to make the next march Josiah and Tobiah returned with the badgers they had killed but there were not enough to cover the Tent of Meeting. They pledged to continue seeking more until Elam’s commandment had been fulfilled. And the people moved out.

There were many imperatives in the White Scroll, and Rosh was not nearly done reciting them. “Do not eat carrion like the vultures do. Do not cook a goat in its own mother’s milk. Keep you the the Feast of Harvest and the Feast of Ingathering.”

And again Elam was annoyed, but a smirk ever graced his face as he contemplated the next series of tasks he would lay on Rosh, he and any who would follow him. That evening Elam said, “Now to the woodwork. The boards get silver bars overlaid with gold. You shall make a veil to divide the tent into two parts. One part shall be just run-of-the-mill holy, and the other part shall be very holy. The Ark shall be left in the very holy part, but you shall make a table for showbread and candles and place them in the ordinary holy part.”

And Abner came to the aid of Rosh to cut tenons in the boards for the Tent of Meeting, and to help build the table of wood overlaid with gold, with rings and staves to bear it like the Ark of the Covenant. His wife Tabitha prepared the dinnerware for the showbread. Again the people toiled late into the night to aid Rosh as he fulfilled the demands of their chieftain to prepare a tent for the Ark of the Covenant worthy of the God they served. On this evening the curtains with gold clasps and images of sphinxes were completed.

In the morning, in the middle of the clearing between the thirteen tents of the Remnant a fold-door appeared. Two tall figures were seen within, and they remained even as the fold-door itself ceased to exist. The men of the Remnant had never allowed their vigilance to lapse in the slightest amount since the attack that cost the life of Lael. Jabez and Rimon let fly with arrows, but these were a clean miss.

                              5F

Zethan fired one of his own, and it too missed, but he saw why it was so. Zethan’s arrow had flown true, but in the instant before it struck the taller of the two strangers it was knocked aside as though by an in- visible hand.

The less taller one, a nephil, said in halting Hebrew, “Hold! We are come in the name of the God of your fathers!” The archers ceased firing and the people gathered more closely around the two strangers. Both were swart like the Adanites, yet one was a nephil, a rarity in east due to certain proscriptions in the Law of Elyon. Che stood a head taller than the Laelites and had no beard. To the humans che looked to be a boy, but they noted the hips of the nephil were a bit too wide for a young man, with small breasts under hez raiment. On afterthought che looked to them to be a young woman, but with cropped hair. It was said the nephilim never needed to cut their hair, but that it fell out of its own accord strand by strand.

The other stranger was a beardless angel who appeared to be older than his nephil companion, though he might in truth have been a decade younger. “I am Remiel,” said he in the same halting Hebrew, as though he recited from the promptings of an inner voice. “I am come with my kinsjen Gabriel to bear aid to the refugees gathered by Lael of Adjara.”

“Lael my father is dead,” answered Rosh, “yet we have read what he has written in the White Scroll, how a servant of God named Gabriel made the will of God known to him in Jerusalem to gather a remnant out of Judah and travel to this place.”

“I am che who met Lael,’ said Gabriel after an awkward pause, as though his inner voice had to provide a translation of Rosh’s words. The people of the Remnant thought it would be impossible to say if the voice of Gabriel was that of a man or a woman.

“I am the eldest son of Lael,” said Elam, lest the newcomers think Rosh spoke for them. “Wheresoever the Ark of God would have us go, we go, yet in all other matters I lead the Remnant.”

“The death of your father Lael is hateful to our God and your God,” said Remiel. “We have been charged to thwart elyomnim led by the incarnation of Chemah himself, the seraph Belphegor, who would seize the Tablet of Abraham’s Covenant after his lackeys have already tried and failed.”

“n the ninth hour of this day you will be assailed,” said Gabriel “If you look to us as chieftains for a short time, we swear the lives people of the Remnant will be preserved.”

                             5G

Elam’s impulse was to reject the aid of the B’nei Elohim and rely on his own strength, but again he saw how his followers would take it to be a great impiety, so he was constrained. “Let it be as you have said,” he allowed, “and God grant that it is for a short time indeed.”

Gabriel was sufficiently pleased with that answer that che broke out into a smile and reached into hez pack for a leather pouch. Che said, “In the other world, they call me The Magician.” Che inverted the pouch to show there was nothing inside, then restored it again. Then Gabriel reached inside hez little leather pouch and withdrew a small loaf of warm bread. Che split it open and offered it to Remiel, who had seated himzelf on the ground. Remiel applied butter to the bread with a knife, and gave it to the first willing hand.

The Laelites were delighted by the miracle. Gabriel and Remiel repeated the sign until everyone had eaten their fill. They were all tired of the fare of salted cuts of lamb they had eaten as they had skirted for many leagues north under the precipice.

Then, after all the people had eaten, Remiel put away the butter and his knife. he stood up, and catching the eye of Elam, asked, “Where is the Ark of the Covenant?” his eye followed the line formed by Elam’s outstretched arm to the most elaborate tent of the Remnant. Remiel and Gabriel saw it was twice as large as any of the other tents of the people, with curtains of fine linen overlaid with multicolored animal pelts, walls of fine wood with many gold and brass accoutrements, and even a jewel-adorned wooden table set up at the entrance.

Gabriel said, “God did not command you to make such a tent for the Ark, nor did such even enter his thoughts.”

“Do we in truth serve the same God?” Elam asked hem. “The God of our fathers is a holy God.”

“Yes, our God is holy,” replied Gabriel. “Holy means entirely other. Our God is a living God, yet his life is wholly different than our life. Do you think God has forgotten this, and you must remind him with a tent for what is little more than a document commemorating a covenant?”

Elam grew visibly angry. “What you call little more than a document is how God converses with our high priest, and it seemed good to our forefathers to carry the Tablet of the Covenant in an Ark covered in gold rather than a saddle-bag, and they also built a Tent of Meeting.”

                             5H

“But that tent became a temple of stone after time,” said Remiel, “which raised the Tablet by degrees into a kind of god. Chemah also thinks this way, and when Belphegor comes to this camp his problem is much smaller if you keep the Ark inside such a tent. Hide it, therefore, in one of your own tents, so Belphegor must search each one in turn, and that under fire.”

Elam knew he must comply or be held faithless. He said to his brother Rosh, “Move the Ark and the table to my own tent, and my goods to the Tent of Meeting.”

After the people aided Rosh in carrying out the new commandment of their chieftain to move the Ark of God into Elam’s tent, Remiel said, “I see that some of the women among you are with child. Send all of the women into Shaula Wood with your flocks. They shall not fight.”

In the noon hour the women of the Remnant gathered their livestock and made ready to drive the animals into the forest, but they lingered, perhaps, more than to the liking of Remiel and Gabriel, since neither they nor their men knew the nature of the enemy that was coming.

Gabriel told Sariah, the widow of Lael, “Go under God’s protection, and take the flocks by whatever paths you may find in the forest, and do not turn about. Pause only when it is dark or when you are come again to the other side of Shaula Wood.”

When their wives had departed, and even the sounds of the animals trodding through the forest could no longer be heard, the men who had been left behind were instructed by Gabriel thus: “Your foe numbers eight mounted len of Haaretz led by Belphegor and his chief lieutenant, Malphas.”

Elam made a noise of derision. “We slew seven on the face of the Wall of God, and that without any warning of their attack.”

“It was a valiant deed, but you lost your father. God has laid upon me that not one man or woman more of you should die.”

“These are eight pikelen,” Remiel added. “Your swords will be of no avail until they are unhorsed. And Gabriel did not number Belphegor and Malphas with the eight, as they are from Magodon and not the Saiph League. So the ones who will come against you number ten in all.”

“When last our enemies came seeking the Ark,” said Jemuel, they “learned we have archers among the Remnant.”

                             5I

“And now these len and the horses they ride are well protected from your darts,’ replied Gabriel. “Can your archers hit the open face of a foe at full gallop?”

When Jemuel could not answer, an arrow flew from the quiver of Zethan to Remiel’s hand. He said, “God did not send the B’nei Elohim merely to serve meals. There is no cause for despair, but tell me, how many bows are found among the whole Remnant?”

This Jemuel could answer. “There would be found among the men who followed Lael four bows of good make, and two others.” When he saw astonishment on the faces of Gabriel and Remiel he went on to say, “Mark you, there are only four among us who are skilled in the bow.”

“This will not be an unsurmountable burden,” said Remiel, yet his face said otherwise. “The important thing is to get your darts in the air and flying toward the enemy, and I will take it from there. Give the two bows that are less good, therefore, to men of you who bear only swords.”

“Alas!” said Zethon, one of the archers of the Remnant, with his hand against his face. “Our travail is not with the bows, but the arrows. We had cast some of our fallen enemies over a precipice, whether living or dead, without removing the shots we had fired from their flesh.”

“Do not be afraid,” said Gabriel. “Bring to me every arrow possessed by the men of the Remnant.” Then Gabriel reached into hez little leather bag, with a different hand this time, and withdrew another small loaf of bread, as warm as the others had been, for Tobiah to eat. What che planned to do next would be deemed magic by the men of Haaretz, but Gabriel knew the secret of it. Che knew it was entirely natural, as all things must needs be. The bag was only to conceal the way hez hand seemed to disappear, which could disturb some watchers.

Jabez returned to Gabriel with a bundle of arrows. “We have sixteen darts, no more. Some are good, but some are hardly fit to be used. Our hope when we reached this forest was to make more, but now you say there is no time.”

Gabriel received the arrows to inspect them. Remiel looked over hez shoulder to help examine them. “Get rid of the ones with black feathers Cousin Gabe. I can’t do much with those.”

Gabriel replied, “I don’t like this pair either, Cousin Remy,” and with Remiel’s agreement they were also rejected.

                              5J

In the end, Gabriel had but eleven acceptable arrows. Then che put the bundle of eleven arrows into hez pouch of skin, which seemed too small to accept them, to the wonder of the same men who had recently eaten their fill of bread from the same pouch. Che reached in with another hand and pulled them out again. This che did again two more times, until he had three bundles of eleven arrows each, which che gave to Jabez.

And Gabriel said to him, “Who are the three other men among you skilled with the bow?” Zethan, Rimon, and Asher came forward and were similarly equipped. Then Gabriel said to Elam, “As the chieftain of these men you must choose which two shall lay aside their swords and take up the bow instead for the fight that will soon overtake you.”

Elam named his brothers Rosh and Jemuel. Gabriel gave them each their own bundle of the three and thirty arrows.

Remiel said, “When the signal is given to fight, the archers must fire their arrows at the foe as quickly as possible, without delaying overmuch to take aim. The rest of you must hurl stones at them as you can. I counsel collecting piles of stones outside your tents now.”

Rosh asked, “What then shall be your signal to fight?”

“Three blasts of my horn,” said Gabriel. “You must all be waiting inside your tents before the ninth hour.”

Young Asher’s hand reached out to squeeze the black rubber bulb of Gabriel’s horn, but che said, “Don’t.”

“I for one will not skulk inside my tent,” said Elam. “I will meet these horselen on my feet with a sword in my hand.”

“That is well,” said Remiel. “Both Gabriel and myself shall stand with you. Belphegor is one of the Holy Ones and B’nei Elohim custom demands a suitable reception.”

Elam and Gabriel and Remiel stood alone in the camp of the Remnant as the third hour past noon arrived. The warriors riding with Belphegor arrived at the camp of the Remnant as Elyon had foreseen, with both len and beast arrayed for battle under heavy layers of black leather and polished brass. Belphegor was at once heartened that only three withstood him, but also dismayed that he could not see the Ark of the Covenant sitting upon the pillars of stone as it was when he saw it last under the eaves of the Wall of God. One of the three hailed him by name.

                             5K

Gabriel went on to say, “I regret we must receive you with caution, not the adoration that is due the Holy Ones, but you come against these people girded for war. Elyon has placed them under B’nei Elohim protection.”

“I am not come against this rabble,” Belphegor said, “only the relic they carry about with them.”

“If you mean the Ark, Lord, and the tablet contained within, these are the artifacts bound up with a covenant between Elyon and Keter, and they have nothing to do with you.”

“Nevertheless,” replied Belphegor, “I will take the tablet, and whether these people live depends entirely on how difficult they make it for me.”

“My Lord, as I said, Elyon has placed this group under the protection of his Extraordinary Force. I beg you to reconsider.”

Belphegor replied with a furious shout and the pikes he and his len bore, each twice the height of even the tallest lan, went from the vertical to the horizontal and were braced against fittings on their saddles to distribute the impact. They charged the Tent of Meeting.

Elam, Gabriel, and Remiel dove out of the way as four of the pikes caught the coverings of the tent and lifted them away to reveal that nothing was inside.

Gabriel sounded hez horn in the call for the men of the Remnant to emerge from their own tents and answer the assault. Eisheth from Zuben Well tried to ram the sharpened point of his pike into Elam’s midsection but Remiel made the tip to bend until it snapped off into a blunt splintered end.

Elam was only knocked to the ground, and Eisheth was left holding a long cane of little heft or use. Then Eisheth cast away the ruined pike and drew his blade to engage Gabriel, striking from horseback.

Belphegor and Malphas rode forward and used their pikes to uncover another tent by casting away the skins, but the Ark was still not seen.

Zethan, Rimon, and Asher fired their arrows simultaneously. With his talent as a B’nei Elohim, and standing well away from them, Remiel took one of the arrows, it didn’t matter which, and accelerated it into the face of Morax. He was unhorsed.

                             5L

Zagan came to the aid of Eisheth, raising his pike to skewer Gabriel, as he deemed the nephil to be the leader. But he took an arrow under his raised arm from Jabez and was unhorsed.

Josiah drew his blade across Zagan’s neck under his chin and he bled out. Many stones were in the air striking the protected flanks of the horses and len, but one thrown by Abner was guided by Remiel into the eye of the steed ridden by Onoskelis. In pain the horse collided with Eisheth’s mount and both len were whisked unwilling from the field.

Jemuel’s tent was overturned in yet another failed attempt to find the Ark. There were ten remaining and the nest of hornets was quite furious now. Belphegor still had no inkling that Remiel was guiding projectiles at him with a tiny fold-door temporarily under his control.

Orobas braced his pike against his saddle. he was so intent on skewering Abner that he was caught off-guard when the pole seemed to slide forward on its own power out of his hands and into the air, missing Abner by inches. Orobas withdrew his sword to defend himself.

Belphegor guessed the Laelites must have hidden the Ark in their most homely tent in a clever play of operational deception. He assailed Asher’s tent with a pike but came up with nothing.

The air in the clearing grew thicker with arrows and stones. A rock hurled by Tobiah was guided by Remiel into the face of Danjal, a mercenary from Eniph, striking with enough force to make him unconscious. He fell at the feet of Josiah, who let out his life’s blood.

With three dead and two missing Belphegor had enough. The thong of a stickywhip curled around the legs of Elam, the human Belphegor had seen standing outside the Tent of Meeting with the B’nei Elohim. The whip’s thong adhered to itself. Elam was dragged behind Belphegor’s horse as his tormentor bent the handle around his saddlehorn.

Malphas signaled with a banner and the five surviving len began to ride east. Another stickywhip wrapped around Elam and he was lifted from the ground suspended between the horses of Belphegor and Orobas. The men of the Remnant began to run after them to save their chieftain.

Gabriel sounded hez horn to capture their attention and shouted, “Hold! You’ll never catch them! Protect the Ark of God!”

                             5M

The Laelites realized che was right and broke off their chase. Remiel then ordered the men to remove the covers of Elam’s tent from the holy relic. Gabriel said to them, “Your enemy has sought cover in the trees along the border of Shaula Wood. Your arrows will be of little use there. I counsel that your archers bear the Ark north and west deep into the Wood on the track of your women and animals.”

This sounded good to Jemuel, so he ordered Zethan, Jabez, Rimon, and Asher to carry the Ark with the two staves which fit through the rings on the corners. The four men obeyed at once, not questioning that Lael’s second son was their natural leader in the absence of Elam.

“But what of my brother Elam?” asked Rosh.

“Belphegor will not kill him right away,” Gabriel replied. “though Elam might, perhaps, come to wish he would. We will remedy that shortly. Belphegor greatly errs if he thinks hy can beat anything useful out of Elam.”

Gabriel and Remiel led the Remnant through Shaula Wood, forming a fence of men lest Belphegor’s force doubled back to assail the Laelites carrying the Ark. But Rosh feared they would go astray in the forest and find they had somehow overshot Belphegor’s len, and he stated so.

Gabriel replied, “Your God and mine has charged both myself and my kinslen Remiel that not another man or woman gathered by Lael shall die at the hands of Belphegor, nor shall they die at the hands of one of his thralls. Rosh, have you not seen the hand of God in all that has happened today?”

At Gabriel’s rebuke Rosh fell silent. Rosh, whom God himself had chosen to replace Lael as the high priest, was deeply ashamed that even he had lapsed in unbelief.

“Orobas, Surgat and Ukobach are all in place, Lord Belphegor,” Malphas told him after having seen to their disposition himself.

“They will raise the alarm at the first sign of the humans.”

“But what of Onoskelis and Eisheth? Have they returned?”

Malphas replied in the negative.

Belphegor said, “If you encounter those two len again, Malphas, the should meet an interesting end.”

                             5N

“Len of the Saiph League can be perfidious, Lord,” said hy, “but the manner of their demise shall teach other would-be hirelings with a sword what they must reap by such incompetence.”

Satisified, Belphegor turned his attention to the interesting thing he had going on himself. Elam was suspended from a tree, with the frayed ends of two ropes twisted around the base of his thumbs. There was no hope of slipping out, as his thumbs had become two bloated purple bulbs. Elam had never felt agony remotely like it before. His back and legs were lashed to a straight log, and this log and all his body weight was suspended by two slender points. He told Belphegor the Ark was in his tent, and described his tent to the finest detail.

Belphegor said, “That is no help to me. Your brothers must have moved the Ark by now. I need to know where it is going so I can arrange a suitable greeting.”

Elam desperately tried to explain how there was no telling where the Ark went but he couldn’t put the words together. Belphegor raised an eyebrow. “You are a strong man, Elam, but your suffering must be at the limit of your endurance. I assure you this torment can be pushed far beyond your endurance, yet endure it you must.” He displayed a stone carried in something like a cradle of rope.

The stone focused the mind of Elam. He said, “My brother holds the tablet up and turns in a circle. When he faces the way Elyon would have us go, there is a loud report.”

Belphegor thought about that. Yes, Elyon might do such a thing to protect the tablet. Good, it took at least four Laelites out of play. So it was time to bring things to a head, Belphegor thought. he draped the stone and its net of rope around a stubby branch on the log strapped to Elam’s back and the weight pulled one of the man’s thumbs out of its socket, then another. Elam began to scream continuously.

Elam’s screams steered the men of the Remnant through Shaula Wood to the place where he was being tormented and they ran into Belphegor’s picket of len. Their shouts of warning went unheard by reason of the noise made by Elam.

Remiel used his talent to shred their cloaks. A wad of cloak wound up in Ukobach’s mouth. Surgat and Orobas found sections of their cloaks wrapping around their heads to both make them blind and stifle their cries. This was utterly beyond their experience and effectively sliced the three of them from the fight.

                              5O

“There is no cause to slay these three yeng,” said Remiel. “You can release them later, one at a time. Let them make their way home to the Saiph League, where their tongues may wag. It will be a generation before any come against the Remnant gathered by Lael.”

Gabriel left Abner, Asa, Josiah and Tobiah to bind the three yeng under guard and take them west toward their camp. Only Rosh and Jemuel remained with Gabriel and Remiel to advance on their enemy. Elam’s every scream weighed heavily on the heart of his brothers. But they were all relieved to find only Belphegor and Malphas with Elam Even Gabriel expected two more .

“Cut the man down!” hy said in the Semitic little changed in Heaven which men from Earth understood no longer. Belphegor hefted hyz blade and replied, “As you wish.”

Rosh saw that Belphegor was about to pierce Elam rather than cut him free, so he loosed an arrow at the center of hyz back. The range was so short he could not avoid striking an organ, but this didn’t suit Remiel, who bent the arrow higher, toward a shoulder blade. Belphegor was not mortally wounded but in hyz shock hy released hyz blade and fell to the forest floor.

Malphas moved closer to hyz lord, shifting the line of hyz own blade between Gabriel and Remiel. Hy said, “Servants of Elyon and Binah you name yourself, yet you hide behind the humans you claim you have come to protect!”

This was garbage to make either Gabriel or Remiel angry enough to fight. Gabriel wasn’t having any of it and frankly che could barely hear hym over Elam’s screams.

Gabriel could feel Remiel’s power tugging on his sword, so it was a matter of letting go and watching it bury itself into the chest of Malphas with no fanfare.

Jemuel and Rosh advanced beyond Malphas’ dying body to cut their elder brother from the tree. As they did they grew sickened by how the weight of the stone and the log and Elam’s own weight, plus the swelling induced by the torment, had deformed his hand, possibly for life.

Remiel knelt over Belphegor and held the arrow where it entered hyz back steady with hyz talent while he bent the shaft with hyz hand. Belphegor was not suffering pain from the wound anymore. As a seraph hy shared the same internal remedy for unnecessary pain as any B’nei Elohim.

                             5P

Remiel and Gabriel gently rolled Belphegor until he was face up, then helped him to sit up. “Forgive the touch, Lord,” said Gabriel. “It pains B’nei Elohim to see a seraph in such straits, no matter what unfortunate disagreements might temporarily exist between we and you.”

Remiel dropped to his knees to put his eyes on something of a level with those of Belphegor. he said, “Your mistake, if you will forgive the presumption, Lord, is that you do not think Elyon to be warlike. But the B’nei Elohim are Elyon’s answer to the ones you call the Eyes of Elyon.”

When Elam was free of his bonds he gave a shout of rage at Belphegor and pawed at the blade sticking out of the corpse of Malphas to no avail. “I’ll kill him! Look at my hands! I’ve been maimed for life!”

“He is of the seraphim,” said Gabriel. “You will get on your knees even as you see we have done.”

Elam saw Rosh with a bow and said, “You swore to obey me as though I were our father. String an arrow, therefore, and finish this one named Belphegor.”

“Your brother agreed to follow me”, said Gabriel, “and I forbid it! Killing captives of war is hateful to the B’nei Elohim.”

Rosh paused as he weighed his obligations for a time, then threw down his bow and sank to his knees before the seated Belphegor even as Gabriel and Remiel had done.

Disgusted, Elam turned to Jemuel and said, “Brother, as you love me, kill this angel who put me to torment.”

Jemuel made his choice with less hesitation than Rosh and extended his blade. Gabriel and Remiel rose to their feet between him and Belphegor. Remiel said, “Jemuel! How fortunate our God has charged that none of the Remnant shall die, or you would be dying now.”

“Listen to none of their lies,” Elam told him. “They have not the Ark. The will of God is unknown to them.”

“For one day in every year the high priest among you hears the oracles of God,” said Gabriel. “How much more so do we who dwell ever in the very presence of God know his mind!”

Elam hissed “Do it!”

                            5Q

Jemuel moved toward the captive with his blade arched to decapitate him. And Remiel, without touching the man, twisted the blade out of his hand and hurled it out of reach. “We have no power of our own but that which is given by God,” Remiel told him. “Now you are disarmed by that same power, Jemuel. Do you hold yourself answered that killing the Lord Belphegor is not the will of our God?”

Neither Jemuel nor Elam made reply, but they kept their place, as Gabriel and Remiel were armed and stood fast against them. Gabriel was angered almost beyond speech. Che said, “I thought to leave Lord Belphegor in your keeping, to be treated well until such time when he could leave of his own power, but I see the faithfulness of Lael was not passed to his sons. We will take the Lord ourselves. A curse lies upon you, Jemuel, for you would do a thing to make the name of our God a reproach among elohim and angels and nephilim and men. On the shoulder of Mount Naratha the sword of your foes shall go through the camp, and you shall be cut down in the flower of youth. And you shall remember this doom, and beg Elam to steer the Remnant far from Mount Naratha where the Ark wills not to go, but pestilence and famine and the threat of enemies shall drive the people thither, where you shall perish before your sons take wives.

“Also a curse lies on you, Elam, for you ordered your captive be slain out of hand, which thing is hateful to God, whether the captive be a seraph or one of the ishim. You crave to lead the Remnant, yet you shall be driven into Eliath Wood to wander for a generation. There you shall yearn to be free yet your enemies shall hem you in, and you shall die never seeing the sons of your sons. The third son of Lael shall lead the Remnant to a land which is choice above all other lands in Haaretz, and the people shall be known by his name.”

Then Gabriel and Remiel, who would have preferred to leave the Remnant with farewells rather than curses, knelt once again close to Belphegor. A fold-door materialized to port the three of them to Nyduly Wood, leaving only a hole in the ground.

After Gabriel and Remiel departed with an injured Belphegor, the Table of the Covenant led the Remnant out of Shaula Wood to skirt along the northern shore of Lake Enkaa. In time the Remnant and their flocks reached outskirts of the city of Mizal, but the Director did not indicate they should stop, but rather to continue ever west.

Indeed, the land around that city seemed overgrazed, and there was in evidence much other livestock.

                             5R

Elam and Jemuel entered the city to assay what prices they might fetch for their animals, it it seemed to them a pittance. So Elam resolved to continue west in the direction urged by the Director on the Ark. But Jemuel lifted his eyes and beheld a large mountain that lay across their intended path, and he inquired as to the name of the peak.

“Mount Naratha,” came the reply from one of the city dwellers, “on the border between Alodra and Nath.” Then Jemuel remembered the curse of Gabriel and begged his brother to turn aside from the way the Ark was leading them, either north or south. But the city dweller told him the tribe of Reuben lay south, with much cultivated land, and they would not look kindly upon wanderers grazing their flocks there. Beyond the lands of Reuben was the kingdom of Alodra, which had been a mere province of House Bellon in the days of the dragon, but now boasted a king of it’s own. And the king had decreed all travelers among the children of Israel must hold fast to the established roads. So Elam made the decision to turn north.

It only remained to see what Rosh would do, as he had vowed to obey Elam in all things except which direction to travel, when he would obey God himself as made manifest by the Director. But when Elam and Jemuel returned to the Remnant, the Ark was already pointing north.

They journeyed with their flocks over a broad saddle between Mount Naratha and a smaller mountain to the northeast, until they were come to the outskirts of Linan. Here the lands were even more arid and impoverished, and the Reubenites of the city turned them away before any could enter, and they would favor Elam with no parley. “Much lessened is the welcome we received from the House of Reuben when father Lael first brought us here,” Jemuel said ruefully.

The Tablet continued to counsel they should move towards the city, but they were clearly not welcome to go on. Puzzled, Rosh said, “I will go where my chieftain leads.”

At first Elam led further west, but after a number of days a vast forest loomed across their path. And Elam remembered the curse of Gabriel. Not wishing to rush his doom along, he steered the Remnant south and west. But the grass was brown and poor provender for the animals. They were fed some of the seed grain they were carrying just to keep them alive.

The land began to rise once again. Against Jemuel’s deepest wishes they reached the western flanks of Mount Narutha.

                             5S

There in the dead of night the Remnant was waylaid by a band from the Saiph League who sought to obtain the Ark of the Covenant for their paymaster. The night watch was vigilant, and the men of the Remnant were aroused in sufficient time and order to fend the ruffians off, but during the Jemuel was struck down by a foe’s blade even as Gabriel had portended.

Sariah the mother of Rosh and Elam was struck to the quick, because she had lost her second son so very soon after losing her husband Lael, and all the Remnant grieved with her for many days. Still the Ark gave no counsel which way to turn.

Elam led the people north and west beyond the frontier of Alodra and Nath into lands of Haaretz that none had yet claimed. Yet the grass on the golden hills was still to poor to sustain the flocks, and the Remnant suffered another raid that took the lives of three of the women. The Ark was still safe, but Elam saw he was constrained to strike north and seek the sanctuary of the forest. Elam said to Rosh, “You, my brother, are the high priest of the Lord our God. Could you not persuade the Lord I am contrite for my sin against him at Shaula Wood? My hands cannot now rightly hold a blade. We’ve lost a brother. Every day we are in danger of losing the Ark of God and the lives of everyone gathered by our father to protect it.”

“This have I done,” said Rosh, “and much more besides. I reveal now what God has said to me: ‘I do not hold everyone to be in service to me, but of those whom I have set aside to commit my blessings and my oracles perfect obedience is demanded. Know you, then, even as night follows the day, when I am antagonized I will retaliate.'”

The Remnant abandoned the open field and wandered among the trees of Eliath Wood, where at least there were many green leaves for their animals to eat. But the trees therein grew very close together, and it was difficult to keep the animals from drifting apart.

Elam repeatedly tried to lead the people out of the Wood, but ever they were assailed by brigands soon after they emerged, forcing Elam to retreat into the forest, and each time they made this attempt some of their livestock was driven off.

Elam himself perished during one of the attacks. Then was the curse of Gabriel fulfilled in its entirety and Lael’s third son Rosh became the chieftain of the Remnant, now fifty souls.

In the time of mourning a woman of the B’nei Elohim was seen.

                             5T

The woman came to the Remnant leading a small flock of their sheep that had gone astray in Eliath Wood. Under the watchful gaze of four warriors with bows at the ready she drew near to Rosh and said, “The B’nei Elohim greet you, Rosh, son of Lael. I am called Ariel, the daughter of Gabriel, who once had dealings with your people. I am sent to retrieve your missing animals, which errand I have only yet begun, but also I am come to convey a message from the Lord our God, who says the Remnant may now leave Eliath Wood without being assailed, and go on to the land of your inheritance. Be of warm heart, Rosh! God has sworn the Remnant shall know peace for all the days that remain in your life.”

Ariel departed then from the presence of Rosh to search for more of thje livestock which had separated from their flocks by ones and pairs, for it was her talent as one of the B’nei Elohim that she could command animals, and indeed many among the B’nei Elohim said she seemed to greatly prefer the company of beasts to that of other people. Certainly it could clearly be seen this genuine affection was returned to Ariel by the animals who felt drawn to her. Ariel, true to her temperament, shunned the company of the Remnant to seek the living creatures she loved all the greater.

As Ariel wandered through the Wood working to restore the flocks, Rosh led the Remnant to good pastures lying in the open to the west. There he founded a settlement he called Shedal. The ample grass of that land was watered from moisture drifting east every morning from the shores of the great sea, and the grass there was ever green. A fence of fallen trees with sharpened tips was set on the perimeter of Shedal, with the Ark and the Tent of Meeting safely held in the center of the small but growing new city. Then after a number of weeks Ariel came to the people with all that lived among their lost livestock. She said to them, “The task set before me by the Lord is finished. Now I shall return to the other world where my heart truly lies.”

And Rosh said to her in reply, “All my people owe you much thanksgiving, Ariel. Our flocks had dwindled to our great alarm, and we feared we might starve.”

Ariel said, “It is not I you should thank, Rosh. In truth, I was not eager to travel to this shadow of the real world, this frozen figment, to carry out this task. Thank you, rather, the living God. It is he who commands and the B’nei Elohim obey.”

Then Ariel departed from their sight in like manner Gabriel and Remiel had been whisked away.

                             5U

The Remnant dwelt peacefully as one body in Shedal for many years after that, while they and their animals increased in numbers. In time the people began to call themselves Roshites, which thing Gabriel also foretold.

When Rosh waxed old he knew he was soon to suffer the common fate of all men. He named his eldest son Jared the chieftain and high priest and commanded that all the doings of the Remnant which came after his death should be recorded in the White Scroll. For all his days, Rosh did what was right in the sight of the. Lord. Then Rosh slept with his fathers.

But after the passing of his father it soon came into the mind of Jared to take the Remnant to a more suitable land where they could plant crops as surety for their livelihood, lest the animals wandered off again, or were stolen by enemies. Yet the Ark gave counsel they should remain. Thus the Benjaminites among the Remnant broke with their brethren and chose to remain in that place to tend their animals.

Jared held the Ark of no account. He led the Levites and Judahites among the people south and west until they reached a plain nigh to Thalury, the great sea. They tried to plant seed on a land that gently rose from the sea, but the soil was thin and sandy, and the crops they grew were poor. Then Jared entered the Tent of Meeting on the Day of Atonement to made supplication to Bat-El, but when he touched the lid of the Ark he was struck dead. Attendant priests dragged his body out of the innermost chamber in the Tent of Meeting by ropes that he had tied about himself, which precaution Bat-El himself had long commanded the high priests should do for precisely that reason. Thus it was known Jared did evil in the sight of the Lord.

His brother Omar became high priest in his stead, and entered the Tent of Meeting to fulfill the rites of the Day of Atonement. Omar, second son of Rosh, was accepted of Bat-El.

And Bat-El sent a servant, a lan of the B’nei Elohim. This visitor said he answered to the name of Kushiel. And Kushiel walked the through the poor crops of the Roshites row by row. He touched each of the withering plants as he passed.

When he was done, he told the people, “By this time tomorrow you will see that your grain has recovered, but that it is changed somewhat in appearance. Do not be alarmed by what you see. The shape of the stalks are a deliberate alteration of God Most High to mark them as different from natural grain, even as you see I have horns.

                             5V

“You may eat the seed of them, even that seed which you would otherwise save to plant the next crop, because what I have done to them does not alter the underlying principle which governs the life of the plants. This is by the design of our God, lest the stalks which are so changed should fill Heaven and displace the original. Therefore, attend most carefully: you must make cuttings of the plants after harvest time and preserve them through the winter in your homes, in pots, as though they were cuttings as from a bush of roses. These cuttings you will plant in the springtime. This you must do until God himself through the Ark leads you at last to the land he promised your fathers.”

The next morning the Roshites beheld the health of their crops and knew everything Kushiel had told them was true. Then Kushiel departed for the other world, and the Judahites and Levites dwelt together nigh to the sea for many years. There they founded a settlement they named Suhar.

There were much going to and fro between the Roshites of Suhar and their brethren who stayed behind in Shedal, and also much trade. Then Omar waxed old, like his father before him. When he saw he was soon to die he appointed his son Abidan to be the High Priest and to record the history of the Remnant in the White Scroll. Then Omar slept with his fathers, and for all his days he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.

As high priest Abidan said it was the commandment of their God that the people should make many blades of bronze, “Lest by any means those who seek the Ark should chance upon us here and destroy us.” But these blades turned he against the Benjaminites who remained in Shedal and he led the men of the city to march against their separated brothers and demand tribute, which thing was never commanded by Bat-El.

Then Bat-El sent the Benjaminites succor by sending to them another of the B’nei Elohim named Raphaela, who had been the chief lieutenant of Queen Lilith in the days of the dragon.

A heavy rain fell on the battlefield on the morning when the army from Suhar came against Shedal. Raphaela knelt with both hands pressed against the ground, caused this rain to freeze wheresoever it touched the field. The Levites and Judahites therefore were made to slip and fall, while the Benjaminites stood their ground behind Raphaela and released many arrows.

Thus Abidan, who did evil in the sight of the Lord, was slain, along with many others among the Levites and Judahites. And this battle of Remnant against Remnant was hateful to God Most High.

                             5W

The survivors in the force from Suhar, seeing how they had been led by Abidan to fight against their own God, withdrew again to the coast. Raphaela said to the chieftain of the Benjaminites, Lemuel, that she had fulfilled the errand set for her by the LORD God, and was now to return to the other world as che, like Ariel before times, longed to do.

Lemuel said to hem, “Thus also did Ariel say when she was sent among us. The other world must be wonderful.”

“It is where humans had their origin,” said Raphael. “Elyonim had human beginnings long ago, and the nephilim sprang from their union. The other world is forty times again greater in extent than the part of Kemen that is free of ice.”

It came to pass in the wake of the death of Abidan that Bat-El accepted his brother Cheran, the second son of Omar, as high priest. Then Captain Jaalan of the city of Caph in the Saiph League arrived on the coast nigh to Suhar with many ships arrayed for war, and soon a full cohort of men under arms stood across all the ways to the city.

Sending a herald under guard, Jalaan demanded the Roshites make a choice: either the Ark of God must be surrendered to hem, or the high priest. And Jalaan thought were the Roshites dared to withhold the Ark and send the high priest in its stead che would shackle him to the prow of hez ship and put the man to such slow and prolonged torment his people would surrender the Ark just to silence his screams.

That evening a stranger, a man, appeared in the city, though none could say how he passed the walls. When he was brought before before Cheran, he said, “I am called David, a servant of God like others of the B’nei Elohim who have brought aid to the Remnant before. I avow in the name of your God and mine that you must never hand over to your enemies the holy Ark.”

“Then what shall we do in the face of these many ships and the warriors who crew them?” asked Cheran. “If we do nothing, the city will be assailed and we shall surely be put to the sword. The Ark will be taken in any event.”

David replied, “This Jaalan has demanded that either the ark or yourself must be rendered up to him, yet he has no idea what you look like. God, therefore, has sent me to be offered up in your stead. Have no fear! It is given to me that no blade or bludgeon or fire or water should harm me.” When he finished speaking David fell to the ground as though dead.

                             5X

The Roshites passed a bier with David’s body outside of the city walls and through the lines to the jen named Jaalan who commanded the tenth of a legion besieging the city. There Jaalan hemself pierced David’s body many times with a blade as surety that he was dead. Then Jaalan ordered the bier mounted on stakes, and commanded the bier to be set ablaze.

But while it burned David sat up, covered in flames, and he leaped down with the Golden Gift in hand to confront the soldiers who surrounded him. Kindling the relic, he took many of their heads before a blade from one of the warriors stuck his right arm and left the burning limb and the Golden Gift it still grasped lying on the ground. Yet somehow, quicker than anyone could see, David stood with his arm intact, as though he had grown another one as soon as the original had been severed. And the flames were no longer seen to feed upon his skin.

David reached down to retrieve the Golden Gift from his original charred arm and used it to cut in twain the nephil who struck him. Then, with none opposing him, David slipped the dark shaft of the Golden Gift through the heart of Captain Jaalan.

When he had done all these things David disappeared from the sight of the invaders with a loud report, leaving a crater on the beach. The surviving warriors of Captain Jaalan were affrighted beyond speech and took ship to disperse once more to their own lands. In the months and years that followed they spread tales of the terror that awaited any who sought to take the Ark of God from the Roshites.

After the attack Cheran sent men of arms south and east to the mouth of the River Sabik along the frontier with the kingdom of Alodra, and from there posted watch stations at intervals north and east along the border reaching the hills nigh to Mount Naratha, lest more paid soldiers from the Saiph League might come seeking to take the Ark of God. If his own forces could not turn them back, Cheran thought, at least warning of the invaders might pass in good time behind the lines to Suhar.

But after the debacle of the ships no enemy came for a generation. Peace reigned until Cheran saw he had drawn very near to his natural death. Then Charan gave his firstborn son Dathan the White Scroll of Leliel, and named him the high priest of God. Cheran slept with his fathers, and for all his days he did what was right in the sight of the LORD.

In the third year of the high priesthood of Dathan word came from the frontier that a force was marching from the south.

                             5Y

They were led by an angel named Mastema who, it was rumored, was the incarnation of Elyon himself, even as Chemah in the guise of Belphegor had come against them in the days of Lael.

It was also said they originated at Toturo in the Saiph League and had commandeered the ferry at Sadl, though the king of Alodra gave them no leave to pass through his realm under arms. The force commanded by Mastema was sufficiently large to turn back the king’s own frontier guard, although with much difficulty. The Alodrans attacked their unprotected flank at Melak and were spent to the last soldier. Yet they took such a toll in battle deaths and other casualties as to reduce the invading force by a third.

After hearing tidings of the battle Dathan entered the Tent of Meeting, taking thought to beg God for help, though it was not yet the Day of Atonement appointed for the high priest to speak with Bat-El. When he was inside the tent he remembered certain writings in the White Scroll. Dathan dared not touch the Ark to remove the cover, lest he suffered the same fate of Jared for his own defect in ritual. Thus Bat-El remained silent and Dathan departed the tabernacle no more the wiser than when he entered.

When Dathan faced the people he told them God would speak no words to him. “Therefore, I will bring the Ark to give to these invaders, lest all the people of the city perish.”

But Boel, the second son of Cheran, said, “Brother, I, knowing how God has always been our salvation, will not be party to such unfaithfulness, nor will anyone else who stands with me. We would, rather, march north with our backs to you than remain waiting in Suhar while you betray our God and full willing give his holy Ark to our foes. Have you forgotten the words of David when he came to us in the reign of our father?”

On that day the Roshites of Suhar were divided, father against daughter, mother against son, brother against sister. Fully half of the Levites went north with Boel, while half remained behind with Dathan. Likewise half of the Judahites departed with Boel, while the rest stayed in the city.

Before he departed Boel said, “Cursed are you, Dathan, son of Cheran, for you have dwindled in unbelief, and worked to drag down half of the Remant to share in your iniquity. Our God spurns you. The blades of your enemy shall cut you off from the living, you and all the men of war who march with you.”

Then Dathan with two of every three men who would not go with Boel marched south, carrying the Ark of God.

                             5Z

After two days’ march Dathan was come within sight of the great host that was arrayed against him, and he came forward with a small party carrying the Ark as a peace offering.

But when Mastema learned the Ark of God carried only an ordinary flat stone the order to give battle was sounded. The army of the Saiph League made quick work of Dathan and his forces.

Then it came to pass Mastema marched up the coast to Suhar where he put to the sword the small force of men Dathan had left behind and plundered the city, yet the Tablet was not found within the walls of Suhar. Twelve survivors among the men who had been left to guard the city were put to torment by whips, even to the death, yet of the whereabouts of the Table of the Covenant they knew nothing save they had seen Dathan take the Ark with him on the march to the south.

In the wake of this atrocity the invading army commanded by Abbadon departed to return home to Toturo, only to meet their own utter destruction at the hands of the king of Alodra. In his wrath the king had arrayed the army at Melak to lie in wait and avenge the annihilation of his border guard. Never again in the whole history of Kemen did mercenaries from the Saiph League assail the Roshites at the command of Elyon or Chemah.

The Tablet was safe in the possession of the faithful who went north from Suhar with Boel, for Bat-El himself had forewarned him of the apostasy of Dathan and commanded the deception. Boel’s group traveled with the Tablet up the coast of Thalury as far as Suhar was from Melak. There was found an unnamed river that was exceedingling fair to behold.

On the southern bank the Director on the cover of the Ark began to spin. The people saw how the river emerged swift and clean from the hills, then slowed to a more stately pace to wind through rich bottomland. Boel’s group no longer had the cuttings from the grain stalks that had kept them alive in Suhar, but they had much seed, and here they found a land well suited for planting. Boel named it the valley of the River Menkal, and he decreed the people of the Remnant should cease all their wanderings in Kemen.

For all the days of Boel there was peace on the fertile banks of the Menkal River. From season to season the harvests never failed and the flocks multiplied to fulfill the needs of all the Roshites. In the midst of this bounty Boel founded the city of Akamar on the shores of the bay where the River Menkal flowed into the Great Sea.