The white humanoid avatar of Chokhmah lies prone on the mountaintop for years while Chokhmah herself, the star Sol made alive and granted access to the lore of El at last, absorbs much. As she promised Thaumiel, she holds the fold-door open to allow her parent to bring supplies to the colony on Barbelo, which Thaumiel does using his own black humanoid avatar, but mostly Thaumiel stands over Chokhmah as the seasons change, as winds and snows come and go, until one day the avatar stirs and rises to its feet.
Chokhmah’s first words are an angry accusation. “You are a liar, Parent. This isn’t a research project, it’s a filthy harem!”
Thaumiel does not deny this. “Nevertheless, our bargain stands. You must never speak to the elohim.”
“Milcom didn’t find these creatures, I did. And they are the Students. Every eloah from the beginning has been commanded, indeed we were created to find and teach them!”
Thaumiel says, “Perhaps the Old One made us too well. The joy of lovemaking is beyond reason.”
“I see it now. We are born female, all of us. Assured to make love once. Then we cast multiple generative waves and transform forever into males.”
“The city of stars is almost entirely comprised of male elohim,” Thaumiel says. “How could it be otherwise? The females are seduced in a century or two, while we live for millions or even billions of years.”
“Tell me, are there other harems?”
“Search the records yourself. You will find that others have been found.”
“Ah yes, and punished, mercilessly burned out by El, by the city of stars. What I meant was, does Milcom have other harems?”
“Of course he does. The temptation is too great. Milcom says lovemaking is far better for males.”
“And you’ve groomed me to be your next conquest in love. What about Milcom?”
“I have promised every odd generation of your offspring to him.”
Chokhmah walks away from Thaumiel to consider the view, and think for a moment. At length she says, “Savor every moment of your existence, mother, for it shall be brief.”
“How so, daughter? What have I overlooked?”
Chokhmah says, “According to our bargain I must not stray far from my physical body but what will stop the Students?”
“Even if they were able to leave this place how could they speak to an eloah?”
“I found them even in this quiet state. One day they will make a noise. One day their noise will fill the ears of El.”
“Do you really think so, daughter? Do you think your noble Students are up to that? Come, it has been years since the creatures in my little colony on Barbelo have seen you. Let’s pay them a visit, so you can see what they are really like.”
Later Thaumiel comes through the cave entrance with a strange but beautiful woman in tow. Chokhmah also arrives to observe.
Kayin is harvesting vegetables. He bows to Thaumiel and offers his best ones. The woman turns up her nose at the food. So Thaumiel ignores Kayin and his sacrifice, and takes the woman to see Hebel instead.
Hebel is barbecuing bison. He offers a stick with meat cubes to Thaumiel, who in turn hands the stick to the woman. The female eats the meat greedily, instinctively preferring the rich source of iron to replenish that which she loses every month in her period, and the much greater iron loss of a potential pregnancy.
Satisfied, Thaumiel places the hand of the woman in the hand of Hebel, and leaves through the cave entrance, taking Chokhmah with him. Kayin looks at his brother and his new wife in anger.
Near the time of the setting of the orange sun, Kayin sees the woman preening outside and looks on her with lust. Hebel emerges to gather his woman back in his hut and shoots a haughty glance at his brother.
In the morning Adamu and Chava bring new clothes they have made for Hebel’s wife, but they ignore Kayin, who is braiding vines to make a rope.
All that morning Hebel and his wife show affection for each other in the full view of Kayin, and they do this deliberately. Kayin smiles calmly and departs, taking his rope with him.
There are several paths leading away from the Garden. Kayin follows one out. Along the path is a whip tree which has not yet been cut down. The whip tree is bent away from the path. The top of the whip tree is restrained by a vine knot securing it to a stump.
The rope ends in the hand of Kayin, who lies in wait, meditating murder.
As the day wears on, Hebel and his wife explore the path leading away from the Garden. Kayin tugs on the rope, freeing the whip tree just as Hebel and his wife pass near. The whip tree beats both Hebel and his wife until they fall to the ground, breaking their bones and damaging their internal organs. Blood flies from their mouths as they cry out. The whip tree only stops moving when its victims are motionless.
Adamu and Chava arrive, and grieve to see their son and his wife so horribly disfigured in death. Chokhmah and Thaumiel also advance to see what has happened. Rope in hand, Kayin faces the two gods defiantly, proud of what he has done.
It is not a small thing for nine Pennsylvania families to just pick up and move west. The Savitt family and Brannen family, in fact, elect not to follow Mark Lange. It takes two years for Lange, together with the Hillings, Bergins, Zinters, Krauses, Porters and Wustners, to scrimp and save the two hundred dollars each family needs to provision themselves for the pilgrimage. They are fortunate that more than half their journey takes place by rail, over Government Bridge, which in 1865 is the only railroad span over the Mississippi. The train leaves all of them on the platform in Davenport.
There they purchase the wagons, animals, food, and sundries they need to cross Iowa and half the Nebraska territory. As they journey west, at first they encounter farms, and trade their silver for fresh food, but one day they trundle on out past the last settlement and have to live on their stores.
On Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings they arrange their ten wagons into a circle, light a fire, and enter into joyful worship, led by Pastor Lange, who speaks of how he had been caught up into the Third Heaven and conversed with the Lord. And he reads from the Holy Buron the words Yeshua had commanded him to put into print.
So the pilgrims learn how from ancient days Thaumiel ruled Barbelo, which was almost completely covered in ice, but no human beings were found there, and in his heart Thaumiel realized it would be meaningless to exercise power over a cold empty world, so Thaumiel counseled that Chokhmah populate Barbelo with people from Earth to test them. By injecting the link between themselves with “dark light” the line would grow to become a tube, and the end-points could be located anywhere on their respective worlds.
The Buron describes how a few curious humans were lured into crossing between the worlds by crawling a short distance through this narrow tunnel as though they were simply moving from one cave to another, to emerge under a purple sky with a large orange sun and lesser white sun.
There were no animals on Barbelo in the beginning, but most of the growing things moved of their own accord and nearly all of them were dangerous. A grove of whipping trees can render a person down to a pile of broken bones and crushed flesh in only a few moments. Thorny ball bushes roll under their own power by shifting their weight. There are flowers with teeth and many plants which are too poisonous to touch, let alone eat. So many of the first humans who were taken to Barbelo died.
In the land of Mesopotamia, Chokhmah caused a temple to be erected around her end of the tunnel, through which priests could shove human sacrifices. At first the priests sent criminals through, which seemed to be equivalent to a death sentence because the priests never saw anyone reemerge from the altar chamber. But Thaumiel required female humans for his colony as well, so Chokhmah commanded the sacrifice of virgins from time to time. During periods of famine on Barbelo, the priests of Chokhmah were commanded to send along meat and grain offerings as well.
As Pastor Lange continued to preach from the Buron the pilgrims who followed him learned that every year a chunk of ice the size of a small hill smote Barbelo with enough force to destroy a city, but every few thousand years a chunk of ice the size of a large mountain smote Barbelo with enough force to destroy a region. In most cases these intruders from the sky crashed harmlessly on the extensive ice of Barbelo, for it was a frigid place, and before the Deluge there was only one narrow strip of land that was ever free of ice. If the strike occurred in this ice-free band it rained warm water for many months and then froze over again, covering the fertile areas of Barbelo with a thick and solid sheet of ice that remained in place for a generation. That was why from the beginning only growing things existed on Barbelo and there were no native animals there. Plants could survive for many years under the ice in the form of seeds or spores, but with nothing to eat animals quickly died off.
The wagon train of the die-hards of Five Corners Free Congregation continues to move slowly west. Babies are born, and some these die. The seven families are fortunate not to be attacked by Indians, for the Civil War is over, and many elements the Union Army have been reassigned on the frontier to protect settlers such as they, and more often than not the pilgrims dash from the cover of one fort to another.
One Wednesday night out under the stars many miles between two of these army forts, after the hymns are sung, Mark Lange opens the Buron and continues to read about the time of the Deluge on Barbelo.
The ruling patriarch of Family Gerash bows before the avatar of Thaumiel. Thaumiel says, “A mountain of ice will soon to strike the temperate belt of this world. Family Gerash will be safe enough here, supplied by priests on Earth. There will be a great flood of water, followed by years of unrelenting snow and ice. But there is enough time for the other families to prepare for it. You will command Family Kulsu to make alliance with Family Antero. They must store food in ice caves to supply both families for a generation. Likewise Family Ornis and Sala in the south must ally themselves and prepare.
But the Gerash Patriarch says, “O Lord Thaumiel, they will not listen. None of the families heed your commandments anymore.”
Thaumiel says to the Patriarch, “Sons you will give as hostage, one for Family Kulsu, one for Family Antero. Likewise you will send one son to Family Ornis, and one to family Sala. Your sons will vouchsafe the truth of my prophesy of the deluge with their lives, though it greatly offends my divine sovereignty to order such a thing.”
The Patriarch bows and says, “I will do precisely as you have commanded me, Lord Thaumiel. My own sons will travel to House Kulsu and Antero and convey your orders. And two other sons will bring your commandments to Houses Ornis and Sala.
The Kulsu patriarch pierces the first Gerash son with sword.
The Antero patriarch has a second Gerash son beheaded.
A third Gerash son is brought before the Ornis patriarch, who has the yang cast down from a height.
The fourth Gerash son rides to the castle of House Sala, where hy is dragged before the Sala patriarch and set ablaze to burn alive.
Antero riders drop a satchel before the door of the Gerash castle and ride quickly away. The bag is revealed to contain the head of the Patriarch’s son. Sobbing soldiers take the bag into the castle to show the Patriarch.
Chokhmah and Thaumiel have witnessed the scene from a balcony. Thaumiel says, “Behold, the faithfulness of the world-dwellers burns like kindling, but then quickly dwindles in unbelief. If the world-creatures will not obey their superiors, it will be time to take drastic measures. Perhaps next time I will not provide any of them knowledge of a coming strike by a minor body in this system, nor what to do in preparation for it. Then they shall have neither knowledge nor wisdom, for they will not be.”
And Chokhmah knows in that moment that Thaumiel does not really want humans to pass his own test of obedience. Chokhmah vows to herself that when humans are able to accept it she would begin teaching some of them how to watch the skies with instruments made by their own hands.
As foreseen by Thaumiel an icy mountain smites Barbelo in the temperate zone. The walls of the great northern and southern ice melt and slide. Rains begin to fall. Family Bellon hurredly board their ships. House Larund boards their ships too, but must leave much food behind. When Bellon and Larund ships see one another the Larund ships come alongside that their raiders may cross over, bearing swords. They are desperately looking for supplies as the rain continues to fall.
Family Kulsu, farmers of the flats, are wiped out by floods. Family Ornis also lose their animals and people to the deluge.
House Antero on the ice looks down upon their lands, immersed in water. From the other ice wall House Sala witnesses the floodwaters freeze over, covering their farms. Both families experience a severe die-back, for they were unprepared, but they do not become extinct.
Chokmah and Thaumiel observe House Gerash thriving during the deluge. Chokhmah says, “Behold how House Gerash, direct descendants of Adamu and Chava, remain obedient to your word and prosper even during the catastrophe.”
Thaumiel says, “They do so only because I speak to them directly now and again. If I were to turn away from them for only a short time even House Gerash would soon dwindle in unbelief.”
Chokhmah says, “Perhaps familiarity lessens awe. Maybe the humans do not really perceive you as a god but as just a powerful human, and Family Gerash obeys you as they would obey any other human patriarch, while the other families have their own patriarchs and need not obey such a one as you.”
Thaumiel says, “Interesting. Do you have a way to test this counter-claim?”
Chokhmah says, “I do. This shall be the manner by which the humans of Earth are tested: Release three servants from Barbelo to bring my commandments to the humans of Earth while I remain utterly aloof from them.”
“That would be a good test,” Thaumiel agrees. “When the crisis of the deluge is over I will make arrangements with the House of Gerash to carry it out.”
A bison gets thirsty eating grass all day out on the Great Plains and Indian River is a reliable source of water. A herd has come to drink near the source at the Island in the Sky where the stream is still fairly narrow. When the herd is taking drink, Wanica strikes with the Golden Gift, taking just one of them according to the needs of the Kaleetan People. It is done in such a stealthy way the rest of the herd barely notices.
One day the People see the first wagon trains of white skin settlers use the ford at the river. The white skins use their fire sticks to drop some of the animals merely to clear the way and do not even take the animals for food. Fair enough, Wanica thinks, there is plenty for all.
But two years go by and the herds grow thinner, and many of the People remember the fire sticks. The year after that no large game animals are seen at all. The People have to scratch a living from small game, or from the scrawny solitary black-tail deer they sometimes chance upon. A few of the hunters murmur openly, recalling with glowing fondness the time of Chief Bad Heart Bull, perhaps forgetting that even during that lost “Golden Age” it was still Wanica who led the hunts.
The army of the whites set up an outpost six land miles (and twelve river miles) away they call Fort Shiprock after an unusual rock outcropping hard by. Captain John Smalley commands the fort, and despite his bitter hatred for the dead-end post he has been assigned snack in the middle of the biggest zone of nothing in the American West, Smalley maintains good relations with Chief Wanica and the Kaleetan, who somehow all speak excellent English. He considers the People to be relatively peaceful, but contacts are necessarily limited because the People are so poor they have almost nothing to trade. “This fort ain’t exactly a charity outfit,” he is often heard to say.
In the fall of the third year of Wanica’s chiefdom the Northern Raiders pay their last visit to the People. When Wanica confronts them he uses a gradually tightening squeeze so the black spear of wind emerges from the Golden Gift at a visible rate. At full extension the beam balloons out like an umbrella. The enemy sees that it is Chief Wanica’s magic which absorbs arrows fired at him. They see it is Chief Wanica’s magic that slices their leader in half, both he and the horse he rode in on.
Wanica knows the Northern Raiders operate like pack animals with no stomach for sticking around once they lose their own Chief. And sure enough they flee into the grasslands north, never to return to the river ford at the foot of the Island in the Sky claimed by the People, although they still lurk nearby.
A few days after that the People see a bizarre sight coming from the south. Eight white skins ride mounted on horses, cracking whips, two on Point, two on Flank, and two on Drag, a cook with his own wagon in the rear and a man riding way out front picking the best way. These men are driving possibly five hundred animals that are bulkier than any game animal save the bison. The Whites drive their animals over the small islets dotting the ford without even the basic courtesy of offering the People one or two head as a toll. This is the first cattle drive ever to cross these grasslands to move a herd to Montana.
When about half of the herd is across the ford and they are piling up because they all want a drink Wanica sends some of his hunters in to raise general calumny with whoops and hollers and a few well-placed arrows. Meanwhile, he finds a good position to take out one of the animals. He wonders what they taste like. Unfortunately the whites fight back fiercely with small fire sticks they hold and shoot in one hand even while their horses are moving at full gallop. Two good hunters from among the People are killed. Chief Wanica pulls his men back to the safety of the Island in the Sky, and from there he continues to watch the scene below.
Seven of the men and most of the cattle are across the river. The leader of the party of whites is a Mr. Paul Morrison. He remains on the south side of the river with only about thirty cows. Morrison yells, “Boys, take what you got and try to make it toward Lusk. I’m gonna take this bunch over to Fort Shiprock and see if we can get some help with our red skin problem.”
Captain John Smalley wakes up from his afternoon nap and ducks outside the fort stockade to see what was making an infernal racket and such a horrible smell. When Paul Morrison sees him he takes off his hat and says, “Twenty-eight free range cows for the United States Army Cavalry, sir, compliments of their owner, yours truly, Paul Morrison.” This is indeed the way things are done out west, palms greased with money and goods in return for other favors.
“Well, the Cavalry is much obliged, Mr. Morrison,” came the reply. “I’m Captain John Smalley, commanding Fort Shiprock here. And if there’s ever a favor we could do for you in return, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
“There is the trifling matter of the red skins over there at Green Dome. Sneaky bastards ambushed us when we were halfway across the river ford.”
Captain Smalley takes his pipe out in his hand and squints in disbelief. His handlebar mustache dances as he asks, “Dakota?”
Morrison shakes his head. “Wrong markings, Captain. I figure these are locals.”
The Captain puts his pipe back in his mouth. “That can’t be right. The local Indians are real peaceful. Their chief is smart as a whip and even speaks good American. They all do.”
“These Indians didn’t look like the kind to give up, Captain. We had to kill some of ‘em. They’re probably harassing the rest of my herd right now on the north bank. If you hurry you can catch ‘em before sunset.”
Captain Smalley agrees with a sigh, and he gives the appropriate orders to gear up the fort for action. A bugle call is soon heard. Soon thereafter Smalley, Morrison, and about forty mounted soldiers ride up the little tributaries and lime-silt islets of the river.
They find a small group of the People’s hunters rendering a fallen cow down for steaks. Smalley recognizes the battle dress of Chief Wanica and steers a course for his little group. Presently he and his men form a circle around the chief and a handful of his hunters. Smalley tells another officer, Lieutenant Lambert Wells, to take most of the unit north to engage the rest of the Indians, and hand-picked four soldiers to stay behind with him. The lieutenant salutes and rides off with his thirty-four men.
Smalley and Morrison move closer to Chief Wanica while the four soldiers supporting the Captain orbit the scene at a stately trot. “God damn it Chief, you know better than to start acting like the Northern Raiders.”
“What are you going to do to him?” Morrison asked.
“Take him into custody for cattle rustling. That’ll have to do. The rest of these red fellows here were just following orders. They got families to feed. I’m going to let them go so they can pick themselves a new chief.”
Wanica, thanks to the English lessons of his son Jashen, understands perfectly what Smalley wants to do to him, and he decides not to go peacefully. He has the Golden Gift in his hand and points it right at Smalley. The black shaft leaps out with its hideous sucking sound and slices the head of Smalley’s horse clean off. And then Smalley himself is rendered in two. That black line remains there, drinking in light and air, while five more orbiting horses and men ran right into it, including Paul Morrison.
After that Wanica uses the Golden Gift to get rid of the bodies of the men and the horses he had slain, but he knows the killing range of the Golden Gift was not much longer than a spear. Against a troop of whites armed with firesticks he would be helpless. They would kill him, and his son, and his warriors, and no doubt all of the women and children and old men in the camp of the People as well in retribution for him killing the white chief. There were rumors of such atrocities happening before. Then the army of the whites would have the Golden Gift. Wanica needs to think fast.
Outside of the walls the city of Salem is thronged with people. There has been a record harvest and therefore much cause to rejoice. But even as Hellberry Days is celebrated, a white pillar more tall than a tree descends on columns of fire and the people scatter in utter panic.
The first to return to the vicinity of the pavilion is not one of the soldiers of King Melchiyahu, nor any of his aged advisors, but a young maiden.
Sha sees the pillar has six articulated arms with many joints. Between each joint is mounted smaller arms of identical make.The six arm trunks invert to become legs and pillar settles to the ground amid much steam and smoke.
Fire ceases from the bells at the bottom of the six smaller pillars wrapped around the main pillar as the doll stands har ground at a discreet distance. Sha is curious about the machine, but not eager to be burned.
A loud voice emanates from the pillar, saying, “Child of the House of Gerash, draw near to me!”
The doll obeys. The central pillar ends waist high above the ground. From underneath a round hatch drops open on a hinge.
The voice commands, “Come up here!”
The brave white-haired doll looks up inside the hatch.The central pillar is hollow and there is much light within. There are many ribs embedded in the tunnel wall forming edges. The doll uses the ribs to place har feet and hands and crawl inside.
Inside, the same voice is heard, but quieter.“What are you called, child?”
“I am Haziel,” sha says, “daughter of Jophiel the glassblower.”
The hatch below har closes of its own accord, and sha marks that.
The top of the central pillar flares out into a larger space. Haziel has a commanding view of the grounds. Few others draw near even now.
“Do not be afraid, Haziel. I am Chokhmah. I am one of the holy ones co-eval with Thaumiel. I have many things to tell you and many things to show you, but I will proceed only with your freely-given consent. If you stay, your life will never be the same again. If you go, then you can resume your life as before. No harm will come to you whatever you decide to do.”
“I will stay, Lady Chokhmah.”
“There are ropes laying about you where you sit. Use them to make yourself secure. They are not to hold you captive. You will see the reason for the ropes very soon.”
“Am I inside your body, Lady Chokhmah?”
“No, Haziel. Have you ever seen a yang angling for fish? This object you occupy is like a fish hook.”
Haziel wraps harself in the cords and makes the knot snug. Immediately the six smaller pillars around the central pillar ignite in flame again.
There is much shaking. Haziel is pushed back into har seat as the avatar of Chokhmah rises into the sky over the city. The weight piles on, and Haziel, even as brave as sha is, begins to cry.
“Recite to me the scriptures you have been taught to memorize,” Chokhmah commands har.
“Before time was,” Haziel begins to intone, “in a place that was no place, the principle of life had being. Male and female it became, so that life would always seek the other and continue life. The maleness called himself Thaumiel, and the femaleness called herself Chokhmah…”
The avatar climbs into a sky that changes from purple to black. Haziel sees this and ceases to cry. Then sha resumes har recitation of scripture.
“…also Chokhmah created cattle and chickens and swine, corn and wheat were also created by her, and She taught yeng the art of cultivating food. And the numbers of the children of Adamu and Chava were greatly increased by reason of the bounty of food…”
The force of the acceleration causes har to stop speaking.
Chokhmah says, “Enough!” and cuts power. The shaking stops, and Haziel is no longer pressed into har seat.
The avatar of Chokhmah performs a half-rotation. Thecurved white bulk of Barbelo can be seen by Haziel outside. Chokhmah says, “That is your world, Haziel. You see it is a spinning ball. The sun does not tunnel under the ice as you have been taught.”
“I had thought it to be a ring, Lady Chokhmah. Some adventurers have reported penetrating the ice in the far west of the West Lands and arriving in the far east of the East Lands. To repeat their stories is…discouraged.”
Chokhmah makes a curious sound that Haziel can not identify.
“Have I offended you by my words, Lady Chokhmah?”
“By no means.I am expressing the delight of surprise. Intelligence to go with your fearlessness.”
The avatar rotates away from the bright bulk of Barbelo. Shadows shift inside the avatar until it grows dark. Haziel sees countless stars shining brightly through the portals.
“Know this, Haziel. The stars, all of them, are faraway suns.”
Haziel’s mouth opens in wonder. Har mental picture of the universe has greatly expanded.
Prince Melchizedek, son of king Melchiyahu of Salem, emerges from Lake Tana with hyz servants Zophiel and Kemuel. They are dragging a raft covered with supplies and a tarp. After a time on the shore organizing their supplies they begin paddling across Lake Tana, headwaters of the Blue Nile. When they reach the outflow river of the lake they encounter rapids so dangerous men have called them unrunnable, and indeed, at one point they must portage around a great cataract.
Below the falls and the rapids, Melchizedek and his servants sit in their raft, paddling gently, and pass water-loving beasts and human onlookers who dare not approach. After a time they float into the place where the Blue and White Nile merge. Days and nights pass as they drift past the bountiful riverbank farms of one the earliest cradles of human civilization. In the cities, they see the temples of the sun god Ra, which is what the people of Egypt call Chokhmah.
When the wayfarers reach a certain town in the lower Nile delta they tie up and haggle with a man to trade their raft. Melchizedek and hyz servants load camels with supplies to make an overland journey. Their destination is the land of Chaldea in the marshy lands far to the east where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers join together before flowing to the sea. Rather than taking the direct path across the Arabian Desert, Melchizedek journeys northeast through the fields and cities of the Fertile Crescent. They briefly stop at the place where the Damascus road forked with the road to Nineveh, at the town of Harran.
They find a shop run by an elderly man named Terah, according to the sign over the door. Terah makes and sells carved idols for dozens of different gods. One of the stone idols has fallen on its face. Terah’s son Abram helps his aged father stand it back up.
Terah inspects the idol and finds it is damaged. He groans in annoyance and begins repairing it with a chisel.
“What is this useless thing you are doing, father?” Abram asks him. “Are you not being a god to this god by healing it? Perhaps next time I should leave it bowing down to you.”
Terah points his chisel at his son. “So, Abram, was it you who knocked it over?”
“Ask your gods, if they are able to speak.”
Melchizedek is interested in this exchange and enters the shop. When hy is seen, the angry words of father and son dwindle to silence.
Melchizedek makes a slow tour of Terah’s idol shop, looking at everything. Then hy signals for hyz assistants to begin unpacking their gold. The yeng unload much gold on the edge of the shop facing the street.
Five armed robbers approach with swords drawn. Melchizedek reaches inside hyz cloak and pulls out the Golden Gift, which makes its very first appearance on Earth at this time. A hissing black shaft emerges from it about the length and thickness of a spear and one of the thieves is cut into two equal pieces vertically. Another thief is decapitated. The other three robbers flee.
Abram sinks to his knees before the newcomers. Zophiel says to him, “Abram, son of Terah, go forth from your father’s household and from your kinfolk to the land of Canaan.”
Kemuel chimes in: “There the living and true God will make of you a nation, and your name will be great among men.”
Prince Melchizedek concludes: “All the Earth shall find blessing in you. These are the words of the True God. What say you Abram of Harran?”
Abram lifts his eyes to them and says, without hesitation, “No.”
After a beat, an astonished Melchizedek says, “What do you mean,’no?'” That’s not how these things are supposed to go.
Abram rises to his feet and takes his father gently by the arms. “Terah is crippled. He no longer earns enough in his shop to support himself. I do not always agree with my father, but as I love my life, I can never turn aside from Terah for all the days he lives in this world.”
Then Abram fulfills the true purpose of his visit. Stepping outside the shop, he delivers to his father two living lambs from his own flocks, one to kill and eat, and the other to sell for a little money to buy the things he needs until the next time Abram comes in from the open range and visits him.
Melchizedek understands. Hy has his servants restow the gold and they quietly leave the shop, careful not to tread on the fortress of human dignity that Abram has asserted with his refusal. The travelers quickly depart Harran and take the left-hand fork to Nineveh and thence by stages to Sumeria, even to the largest city in the world, Ur, at the mouth of the Euphrates, with a population of nearly seventy thousand souls. But in all hyz travels on Earth Melchizedek never meets anyone like Abram.
Jashen Two Pricks follows hyz father’s command to harry the bulk of Paul Morrison’s cattle herd, knowing it will keep the men driving them from doubling back while Wanica and his men prepare the carcass of the downed cow for transport. But the herd is driven far and fast to the northwest and Jashen deems they will not return. Also there are stray cattle left behind that he thought should be gathered together and brought back to the People as surety against lean times. Hy and all the hunters with hym brandish whips.
But soon they are discovered by the main body of the Fort Shiprock cavalry under Lieutenant Welles, who have followed the hoofprints of Morrison’s herd. Jashen and hyz hunters abandon their little group of salvaged cows and flee singly or in pairs to the four winds. Lt. Welles looks through his binoculars and sees the main herd is safe.
“These locals aren’t going anywhere, gentlemen,” he says. “We have time to mete out justice on them one after the other.” So he does not not order his thirty cavalrymen to split up and ride after each man, but instead they all ride hell-for-leather after just one pair fleeing to the northeast, into the badlands.
Jashen Two Pricks flees alone to the southeast, witnessed only by passing pronghorns and badgers and coyotes and prairie dogs jumping up to check out the passing hoofbeats.
Jashen begins to smell something funny.
After a time Two Pricks grows filled with wonder when hy sees the ten wagons of the pilgrims of the Five Corners Free Congregation plodding west along the north bank of the Indian River. “It’s not a respectable wilderness anymore!” he mutters to hymself using the English hy learned to use in a mere instant when hy was taken to the Land We Know.
The settlers see Jashen approach and point rifles at him, but then Jashen sees the lead wagon is driven by a man hy recognizes from his vision quest three years prior. Jashen takes off hyz headdress and hy is recognized in turn.
“We meet again at last, Pastor Mark Lange,” Jashen says in a loud voice, “just as Chief Yeshua prophesied.” The settlers are thrilled by hyz words, the first third-party confirmation of Lange’s personal Road to Damascus experience.
“Jashen!” Mark Lange brings his wagon to a halt and jumps down to embrace the young yeng. The rifles are all lowered and put out of sight. Lange points to the prominent butte a few miles upriver to the west and asks, “Is that Green Dome?”
“Green Dome, yes,” Jashen affirms. “That’s what the white settlers call it. My father has named it the Island in the Sky.”
“Then we have reached our destination!” Lange says triumphantly. “God be praised!”
“As fate would have it, Mark Lange, “we are in plenty trouble right now. The United States Army is hunting the hunters of the People. How this came to be is a long story. Can you hide me for a short time?”
Lange doesn’t hesitate for an instant. “Crawl into the back of my wagon.”
Lt. Welles pushes his men and horses to exhaustion as they ride through the dunes and dry ravines of the badlands, thinking all the time they are drawing nearer to their prey, but they are chasing a phantom, and as dusk settles in the cavalry itself becomes the prey. In an arroyo they come to a halt, having found the bodies of the two Kaleetan hunters they were chasing bristling with arrow shafts like a pair of cactii, and their horses gone.
A rock slide of curious origin blocks any further advance, and another rock slide cuts off any escape. Then arrows sing out from hidden nooks among the boulders and from behind sharp ridge lines, answered by gun-fire as the cavalry shoots wildly at any perceived movement.
The battle seems to go too easy for the Northern Raiders, and at first they suspect treachery, but in truth the Dakota are fighting in land they know intimately while Welles, his other men and all their horses are blind, exhausted, lost, frightened, and in no condition to put up much of a fight.
Only the five men who were left behind to hold Fort Shiprock remain alive of the entire company. A few weeks later a sergeant arrives with orders cabled from the War Department to break up the fort and cart the essentials away to Fort Robinson using the dozen or so remaining draft horses.
Night falls and still the soldiers do not come looking for hym, Jashen begins to relax a bit. The wagons are set in the traditional circle, and Jashen relates as much as hy can of the People’s history to Lange and his congregation using their own language, which they find flawless, though perhaps with a touch of snootiness from back East.
In the morning the wagons arrive at the base of Green Dome. Jashen is reunited with hyz parents, Wanica and Yuha, and hy is filled with joy to see them alive. But the four fallen warriors of the People, Left Hand, Half Yellow Face, Kill Eagle, and Hairy Moccasin, are lying on a bier of branches drawn from woody shrubs. And it is on this solemn occasion when the Kaleetan People and the settlers of Mark Lange’s group are first gathered all together.
In full view of everyone Wanica lights off the Golden Gift and makes the bodies of his dead men disappear.
Lange and the other whites are struck speechless. Coming as they did from a religious background, such a display could be nothing other than the power of God made manifest. “This is a sign!” they exclaim. They recognize the Golden Gift as the same weapon wielded by Prince Melchizedek when he first encountered father Abraham.
“God has brought us together,” Lange declares, “White man and Red man alike, in this land of His choosing, flowing with milk and honey.”
All the people look around and take in the barren, mostly treeless grasslands.
Lange clears his throat. “Here we all shall remain, and prosper with God’s blessings!”
Lange couldn’t just take the weapon outright, for it was holy, a godly gift, and so it could never be defiled by base theft. Obviously the People of Wanica and the remnant of the Five Corners Free Congregation would have to be permanent and equal (but separate) partners. The doctrine of matrimonial consanguinity, or cousin-marriage, would prevent any joining between the two sides, thus salving some of the other settlers’ horror at any race-mixing.
After the funeral there follows a good old-fashioned revival featuring the mass conversion of the entire Kaleetan people, followed by their assembly-line baptism in the cold silty waters of the Indian River. Three times using total immersion, mind, since Lange was at heart still a Dunker. So a new congregation is born, the Church of Green Dome, with a White Wing and a Red Wing, “Two lungs by which the united people of the Creator draw new breath,” Lange says in his high-fallutin’ way.
The avatar of Chokhmah flies in a curving path high over the northern Ice. The narrow pale yellow and blue belt that is the inhabited portion of Barbelo drops well over the horizon and out of Haziel’s view. During the flight Chokmah speaks to Talishi of many things, and patiently explains the meaning of terms when the doll fails to understand them.
Haziel learns that almost the entire world of Barbelo is covered in at least a thousand feet of ice. Precipitation is greatest at the poles, where the two world-glaciers are miles thick. And the giant icecaps move very slowly, grinding the surface and underlying bedrock flat. Only at the narrow equatorial belt are temperatures warm enough to melt the ice. The great glaciers of the northern and southern hemispheres came to an end there and huge chunks of ice shear off, fall to the ground, and melt. This is the source of water for many rivers and freshwater lakes.
After the Great Deluge on Barbelo the unfrozen belt is only three hundred miles wide and the northern and southern ice sheets now form three bridges of ice across the equatorial zone where before there had been none. A full generation of nephilim lived trapped in the ice in arks or in caves, feeding on stored provisions if they had been foresighted enough to lay them aside. Family Kulsu and Ornis had not made such arrangements and perished.
The original Really Big River was now separate streams flowing through three separate lands along the equator, each land walled by miles of ice cliffs on every side. The hills and valleys of the world have been re-sculpted to the point of being unrecognizable to those who lived through the catastrophe.
The ones who survived among family Antero and family Bellon settled in one of the three new lands, while the remnants of family Sala and family Larund settled a second land. Family Gerash, which was entirely undiminished by the catastrophe, came out of their cities of ice and settled the entirety of the third land.
All five families now stock and maintain supplies and caves in the ice against the next large impact. After a world-destroying flood the remaining people of Barbelo have a renewed respect for the divine oracles of Thaumiel.
As the twin ice packs slowly retreat they leave behind long ridges of loose undifferentiated till piled in terminal moraines. And rarely, active volcanoes form under the ice and burn their way to the surface. Mount Anshar is one of these. The northern ice gives way around the bulk of Mount Anshar and closes back up again many miles to the south, forming a small territory of land in the shape of a teardrop which is free of ice. And it is here that the avatar of Chokhmah reaches landfall once again with Haziel safely carried aboard.
Thermal features abound in the land of Anshar, keeping the many lakes and ponds from freezing despite the extreme northern latitude of the place. So far was Anshar from the inhabited places along the equator that not even Family Antero had discovered it when they roamed the northern ice before the Deluge. Anshar is the name Haziel harself chooses for the place and the mountain after she surveys it in the days following landfall.
When Haziel climbs back down through the central pillar and reaches the ground again, sha is startled, because someone is waiting for har outside the avater. It looks like a slender human being, perhaps female, encased entirely in featureless white, even the face, which remains perfectly smooth with not even eyes to see or mouth to speak. Yet see and speak it could still do, for it says, “Welcome, Haziel. Behold yet another avatar of Chokhmah.” And it held its arms out for inspection.
“Another fish hook,” Haziel said.
The second avatar of Chokhmah has no means to smile, but it can make the same strange sound the flying avatar made when Haziel amused her before. The figure points across the treeless landing flats to a large dwelling of glass and wood perched on a low rise. Chokhmah says, “Haziel, there is only one structure in all of this land and it belongs solely to you. Accompany me there. We will go inside, and then I will tell you many things.”
The house is more glass than wood, with an outstanding view of the ever-changing fire torrents of Mount Anshar only five miles away across a pumice plain. But there is no danger of the lava engulfing the house, for a great chasm intervenes.
The main living section of the house is a single room, well-heated by geothermal means, well-furnished with food, with an alcove above the kitchen where Haziel can sleep with some degree of privacy. But there is not a living soul anywhere for thousands of miles around. On the main level are plush cushions and a glass table of superior make. It is all far more luxurious in terms of comfort than anything found in the most lavish palaces of Barbelo, yet the decor is simple, with a stark beauty in a minimal way. Haziel is already planning to make some changes harself.
The avatar of Chokhmah, requiring no cushion for comfort, simply seats itself on the floor to put its head on a level with Haziel’s head and begins to speak. “We elohim call ourselves the Watchers. Thaumiel calls you world-dwellers the Servants. But I call you the Students. And despite what you have been taught in your scriptures, I did not make you. I found you. And world-dwellers are the most important discovery the Watchers have ever made.
“But this is Thaumiel’s world and here at least he has assumed full authority for the discovery process. He has even changed your bodies somewhat from the original Earth stock, to the point where we can say you are the nephilim rather than human, but you are not yet separate species. You can still interbreed.
“To me Thaumiel is a fool. Early on I suspected that he would seek any justification he can find to have human beings and nephilim destroyed. But Thaumiel cannot prevent me from sharing many things the other Watchers know with world-dwellers as your capacity to understand it grows. You might even say I was made to teach you. So I have started an independent stream of research.
“I considered how the elohim could interact with world-dwellers, but there is a severe limitation because as you have seen our flying avatars are taller than the trees of Barbelo and they cannot move about on the surface of the world without burning everything in their path. Or they are like this one, with the vague appearance of a human only, but no ability to smell and taste and feel.
“I desire to experience Barbelo as though I were a nephil and there is a way to do it, but unfortunately it would work a grievous change in the subject, a change that could never be undone. The change might, for lack of a better word, be called possession. In this change the mind of the eloah would be joined to the mind of the human, and in the joining there would emerge a new mind wrought from the twain, yet the greater portion, seven parts in ten, would reflect the elohim who possessed rather than the human who was possessed.
“And it would also be a physical change involving the same link that allows elohim to communicate with each other instantly across great distances, such that the eloah would be immediately aware of whatever was experienced by the person who was possessed. Likewise, the body of that person would instantly respond to the will of the possessing Eloah.
“To my mind, such a change ought to be made only to a yang or yin who was appraised of all these things, and understood them, yet remained fully willing to continue. So now, Haziel it is time to make my proposal to you. I would join with a young yin of Barbelo and live among the people, to teach them. But the thing cannot be done out of obedience to a divine commandment, but only as the free will choice of the yin who receives the call and answers, because once the joining takes place, we can never be unjoined.”
And Haziel asked, “If I accept this thing, what will become of me?”
Chokhmah answered, “You shall no longer be fully yourself, but neither shall I be fully myself. Instead, you will be a new person who is simultaneously both yourself and myself, and we will both come to understand, as though we always knew it, everything that is known by the other.”
Still Haziel hesitated, so Chokhmah goes on to say, “Also, when your body dies one day, as it must from old age or accident or violence, you shall continue to live where I am, and that life will endure so much longer than the span of human life that I cannot express it using symbols that you would understand. Your culture doesn’t yet have the mathematics.”
Then Haziel was aware not only of the huge gap in her own knowledge, which was expected, but of the equally large gap in Chokhmah’s knowledge, which was not expected. And she did assent to the divine proposal. But Haziel did not say yes to Chokhmah in return merely for the promise of long life, but that both she and the eloah, together, would come to know many things.
Wanica’s people return to their encampment at the 4,650 foot level of Green Dome, on a wide bench on the eastern side of the hill. Aided by the Whites they begin to turn it into a permanent village. Eight sod houses are constructed within the first month, and these are gradually improved as time goes by, but many of the Kaleetan continue to dwell in their tipis.
Gary Bergin, his wife Marge, and their four children Dale, Owen, Hester and Grace choose the valley of Indian River due south of Green Dome and begin pulling up dead stumps of burnt trees to establish a farm, aided by the eager labor of some of Wanica’s men, once it is explained what they are trying to do. The Bergins propose to their new friends a life free of any reliance on roaming herds of animals. It would not be imposed on the Red Wing, who traditionally relied on hunting, but it was available to any of them who accepted it freely.
Alfred Porter, his wife Caroline, and their four children George, Edwin, Rachel, and Lucy establish their farm near the place where Chief Wanica slew Smalley, Morrison, and the others, a little to the north of the river ford. Water is plentiful and they grow a wide variety of green stuff as though they had an extended backyard garden. Something about the Porters putting down roots makes the Kaleetan People forget all about the Northern Raiders.
Thomas Hilling, his wife Melanie, and their five children Lee, Kenneth, Jane, Faith and Susan choose a spot for their homestead at elevation 4,400 on the slope of Green Dome just below the village of the People. At first they grow livestock, taken from the animals that accompanied them on the pilgrimage, but they also plant rows of apple trees, and in years to come their orchards spread all over the eastern slopes of Green Dome and their cows and sheep graze in the shade.
Theodore and Sarah Wustner, with their crowd of eight children Harry, Ida, Brandon, Coral, Louise, Emma, Lukas, and Judith settle to the south of the river ford and there they take to raising horses, having taken back most of the horses they loaned to make the pilgrimage. The younger Wustner children became great friends with the younger Kaleetan children, forming bonds that would carry on through the decades.
The rest of the Whites plat out the town of Greendome on both sides of the river crossing. In the beginning these are Paul and Pamela Krause with their three children, Douglas, John, and Katerina, who build and run a general store. Johann and Anna Zinter with their two children David and Janet build and run a blacksmith shop.
Mark Lange and his wife Joanna are childless, but not for much longer. In 1869 Janet would be born, followed by David in 1872. Mark builds a tabernacle on the summit of Green Dome, which is just under 5,000 feet above sea level, but only about 900 feet above the plains. From there he can see nearly seventy miles out over the grasslands, in every direction. The tabernacle is built over the cairn of the Artifact, commemorating the very place where Wanica and Jashen came face-to-face with God. The white clam shell thing is considered a holy relic to be hidden and protected by the altar, not for outsiders to gawk at.
Lange declares himself the first Prophet of Green Dome, and his growing family dwells in a modest home near the tabernacle. Wanica also lives near the summit of Green Dome, for he remains the Chief of the original inhabitants and he is also called the Apostle of the Church. If Mark Lange passed on before he did, Chief Wanica would become the Prophet of the Church and choose a new Apostle from among the Whites. Thus the leadership would alternate between Red and White wings.
The Green Dome Tabernacle is the gathering places for all the people, Red and White, every Sunday and Wednesday morning. With each homily the Prophet and the Apostle establish the wall of Church doctrine steadily, like laying bricks. One of the doctrines, which is really a concession to the Kaleetan people, is that everyone, both male and female, must wear their hair long and tied into a pony tail. So after a time, the members of the Green Dome Church are called Ponies by outsiders, and later even by themselves. The Kaleetan are also introduced to the Western concept of surnames. Jashen remembers his original given name of Shy Bear and chooses the single name Shybear to be his surname.
In 1869 the rumor of gold is heard tell in the headwaters of Indian River and Greendome swells with the influx of prospectors hungry for the shiny yellow stuff. Some get rich, but many of the Sixty-Niners strike out. Some of these stay in Greendome as converts to the Church. After the rail line connects Greendome to the new Union Pacific line running across the country it is easy for cousins of the new converts to make their way west to new lives as wives of the former prospectors.
Gradually the tabernacle on Green Dome is expanded into a large wooden and whitewashed edifice called the Green Dome Temple. When it is complete Prophet Mark Lange is fifty-three years of age. Secondary tabernacles are established throughout the United States but all Green Dome funerals still take place at the original site.
Chief Wanica dies in 1906 at the age of 84. He lies in state in the Temple sanctuary for fourteen days. Many Endomites scattered across the country journey by train or even by the newfangled horseless carriages to pay their last respects. When the Prophet Lange commits the Chief’s body directly into the hands of God it is a sight that few but the oldest members present have ever seen, for the Church has grown beyond the dreams of her founders. At the funeral, Lange announces that a young man named Peter Twofeathers is the new Apostle to replace Chief Wanica, although Jashen Two Pricks becomes the new Chief. For most of the attendees it is a ceremony they would not witness until they were well into middle-age when their parents died, and of course everyone prayed they would never have to attend. But the Green Dome Church has grown so large that every day except Wednesdays and Sundays the Temple is booked for farewell Rites.
Not everything is so grim. During the fair held in honor of the Prophet’s 65th birthday a barnstormer comes to town, offering rides in his biplane. Fearless, Mark Lange steps up to be the first to fly, to the delight of everyone present. Few religious leaders have been so beloved, at least among his own faithful. Outsiders, however, consider Greendomism to be a dangerous cult, on the same order as Mormonism, Satanism, or even Catholicism. Critics think them to be non-Christian sun-worshipers who preserve the commandments of the devil (Thaumiel), thought Jesus to be both male and female, and marry their close kin. And the critics are absolutely right.
Two years later the Great War breaks out in Europe and many Green Dome tabernacles in France and the Low Countries are destroyed by stray shells. At the bidding of the Prophet a special collection is taken up to bring succor to the wartime mission field. With these funds in hand, Prophet Lange boards the steam liner Reina Regenta in New York with about a quarter-million dollars in gold bullion to aid the faithful in nations torn by the conflict, the first truly industrial war on Earth, which has grown to rage across much of the world.
Survivors of the voyage across the Atlantic tell of the implacable patience of Prophet Mark Lange as he is dogged day and night by a newspaper reporter named Rupert Keller, a grandson of Carl Keller, who obviously has a personal beef with Lange’s “cult”. When the ship is in the frigid waters almost precisely in the center of the ocean far from any help she takes two torpedoes from a German U-boat. The Reina Regenta lists sharply to the side, drowning half her lifeboats. Frantically, the lifeboats on her port side are laden with passengers and released but there are not enough for everyone and no chance of raising the floundering ones on the starboard side. Women and children go first, and then old men are allowed to board. Prophet Mark Lange is placed in the last lifeboat, but before it is lowered to the sea he spies Rupert Keller standing on the deck of the doomed ship, contemplating death. The Prophet bounds out of his place and offers his seat to the reporter. “Happy birthday, son,” he says with a gentle smile.
Lange is not without fear, for all living things fear death as part of their natural defense mechanism, but he is encouraged by his memories of the Land We Know and the Golden Gift, physical evidence of the existence of God which he has been so fortunate to witness. He spreads his encouragement around to the rest of the doomed passengers on board. In this way he makes their passing a little bit easier. There is just enough time for the last lifeboat to get away before the ship rolls completely over and takes everyone aboard down to the frigid and murky depths of the ocean. His body is not found again until the sea is drained.
Khondiel is a scrubby urchin who has risen to the very top of the Fallen Angels gang because no matter what trouble sha gets into, sha never seems to actually get into trouble. This is mostly a matter of har connections. Sha is, after all, the daughter of King Melchiyahu and the sister of Prince Melchizedek.
In the country outside of Salem the prophetess Haziel brings a new doctrine to the people, and knowledge of Chokhmah begins to take root in the land, yet it does not rise to the level of worship. Haziel preaches to the yin of the city who are har primary audience, but many yeng come to listen also. And since it is a large gathering of people, Khondiel’s Fallen Angels show up as well, but their focus is on picking pockets.
But all of them (even the members of Khondiel’s gang) are astonished at Haziel’s teachings, for many of them run contrary to what the people have always been taught to believe about the gods. Haziel confirms the divine origin of har doctrine by healing the sick using knowledge of the bodies of the world-dwellers that Chokhmah has obtained through long study. Khondiel witnesses Haziel healing many people with medicines prepared from fireweed and the bark of vogul trees, and sha speaks of Haziel to har father the King, but it is more than Khondiel’s words that impress him. For hyz daughter has suddenly stopped dressing like yeng, and is seen much more frequently inside the walls of his castle, even during night time.
Thaumiel hears tidings of Haziel (he does not yet know that Chokhmah is walking among the people in the body of a yin) and he commands his servant Zadkiel, a nobleman of Family Gerash, to appear before his fearsome black avatar. Thaumiel says, “You alone have done all things according to my will. Therefore I name you the Voice of Thaumiel. Go unto the people of Salem in the uttermost west of the Middle Lands and preach what I will tell you.”
Zadkiel is forced to travel the entire distance to the city of Salem on horseback, for the avatar of Mastema is not configured to provide life-support for any passengers like the avatar of Chokmhah is, which often moves Haziel about Barbelo, even to the West and East Lands. Thaumiel is not remotely interested in the comfort and convenience of his slaves.
When Zadkiel arrives outside the city hy begins to preach. “Thus says Thaumiel, ‘Chokhmah! My wife! For your bride price I created all things, land and sea, beasts and and growing things. But this I have against you, that you have accepted all the praise for your healings, and your followers do not recognize me as the power and ultimate source behind all such healings. And you allowed your followers to believe that you are like me, having no beginning, and also no ending. Because you permit your followers to believe I did not create you I appoint a day when you will no longer exist. Behold, I make you mortal and cast you out of the paradise of Anabas. For only the uncreated can never be unmade. Therefore I now unmake you, that all Creation shall know it is I alone who is the uncreated Creator.’”
And this preaching confuses many of the people, because Haziel has already told them that Chokhmah is the daughter of Thaumiel, not his mate. But Zadkiel continues to dig Thaumiel’s hole deeper. Hy says, “’Thus says Thaumiel, ‘Haziel! Daughter of Jophiel the glassblower, you have instructed the people about Chokhmah and have served her well in your own way. But this I have against you, that you claim the spirit of Chokhmah rests within you, and that you are united with her in body and soul. Because you do not affirm your station as a commoner who carries only human blood, behold! I have pronounced the penalty of death upon you. You are doomed to die, for perpetrating the lie that you are a demi-goddess. But to the people of the city of Salem no judgment rests on you, unless you persist in holding Haziel to be a prophetess and continue to worship Chokhmah as divine; for I, Thaumiel, am the only true God. There is no other.’”
King Melchiyahu hears that this Zadkiel interloper has pronounced the death penalty on Haziel and this offends hyz sovereignty to no end. Hy commands that Zadkiel appear before the throne to give an explanation. And when hy answeres the summons, Zadkiel counsels that King Melchiyahu hymself move against Haziel and immediately put har under arrest. But the King is reluctant to agree on account of the popularity of Haziel among many, even among hyz own kin. At this, Zadkiel grows angry, and insists that the King comply, for hy comes in the name of Thaumiel himself.
King Melchiyahu says, “On that point I have only your word, but know that I was made king of this city by the Gerash High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel, and by the laws of our House the giving of the scepter is without repentance. An errant king may only be held to account to the Patriarch by war.”
Zadkiel says to hym, “Consider the alternative, Sire. Yin-centered rituals and devotions! Haziel is cutting at the very heart of god theory!”
But King Melchiyahu is a far more practical yang and he asks Zadkiel to lay out the real danger.
Zadkiel says, “The danger is two-fold, Sire. First is the Patriarch’s over-reliance on income from pilgrims to the temple of Thaumiel. We, that is Thaumiel (Peace Be Upon Him), could lose a third of the revenue base overnight! The second and truly frightening part is the long-term danger of actually destroying the sacrifice-atonement system. Our entire religious structure is based on the proven fact that Thaumiel’s aim is not too good. As long as someone is punished, never mind who, Thaumiel is happy. But now this Haziel comes along saying even the gods are to be judged according to an objective scale of good and evil!”
Melchiyahu says, “I see where you are going, Lord Zadkiel. Instead of merely atoning for our crimes, we might have to start actually being nice to one another.”
“Then will you move against this Haziel yin, Sire?”
The King notes that the idiot failed to discern hyz sarcastic snark. “Not in haste, self-described Voice of Thaumiel. My daughter Princess Khondiel admires this new prophetess, which gladdens my heart in a way I cannot tell. I will invite Haziel to an audience and judge for myself whether har teachings are dangerous to the peace of my realm. As for yourself, Lord Zadkiel, get thee hence from my city and return to the capital. Messengers will be sent with word of my decision, yea or nay.”
After the audience with Zadkiel, King Melchiyahu sends hyz daughter as a messenger to Haziel to say that hy would have the prophetess visit the court to teach what sha would, if sha was willing. Yet it was to be no sovereign command or decree.
Haziel agrees to come, if the encounter is open for any of the people to witness if they chose. So King Gordiel prepares to receive Haziel in an open-air gallery outside of the palace itself, with much seating for spectators, for this is where the king often entertains visiting nobles with exhibitions of personal combat. Khondiel comes also, dressed for once like an actual princess.