Monday 18 June 2012

Radiance 19 - The floods raise up a roar

    Stripped of all armour, without the sword that cuts and the shield that saves, Ostar and Mercury seemed quite tiny, suspended by the wrists from tall wooden staves, their bodies pale, bruised and lacerated. Ostar’s silvery hair lay about his neck in a dirty bedraggled mass, caked in dried blood. Mercury seemed no better, with a jagged wound across her scalp. If consciousness hovered behind their eyes it was well-concealed.
    They had put up a decent fight, Ashmedai mused as he looked at them, thinking back to the cellar in Netanya, especially considering their lowly position in the Seven. It had been most diverting.
    But this whole business was beginning to try his patience - the Unborn Prince had dared to invade the Lower Temple, desecrating the sabbath and causing trouble among the demons. Then he and Virgo had fled before they received the brunt of Ashmedai’s wrath. If the Seven were desperate enough to enter his sanctum on the holy sabbath, who could tell what else they might do? Better to receive the promised reward and be done with the whole business.
    “Where is my payment?” demanded Ashmedai as Samael stepped away from the captives and walked back down the tunnel towards him. Ashmedai took on the angel’s face as he spoke, twisting the features of fire and stone into the shadows that surrounded him.
    “The task is far from over, Ashmedai,” said Samael, burning coldly. “Until Leviathan, the twisting serpent, rises once more you are still needed - your payment will wait.”
    “It can, can it?” Ashmedai whispered, in a tone that would have sent any of his demons cowering.
    “Yes, the plan continues.”
    “Be careful Samael. I am not one of your Sitra Achra that you can order me around so easily, no fallen angel or little ghost. I am not one of your lackeys but the king of demons. Have a care how you address me.
    “We both serve the Boss now, Ashmedai, the plan continues, as does your role. The powers of Netzach and Hod, even combined has not been sufficient. These two,” he gestured towards the prone figures of Ostar and Mercury behind him, “are weak. We need the Unborn Prince.”
    Ashmedai bared his teeth “I do not like this new Malchut, there is something different about him. His is unpredictable.
    “Sounds like he and I will get along just fine,” said Samael. “Come now, my King of Demons, let us consult with Ov and plan our next move.”
    Samael did not wait for a reply but stormed down the stone tunnel, burning and flaring with each step.
    Ashmedai paused before following - even at this distance, he could feel the power of the coiling serpent, the primordial Leviathan, with its circle of eternal watchers. It was still contained but barely, always straining to be free. Soon, Ashmedai thought, soon we will both be free. Without further pause, he followed Samael back to the inner chamber of the Sitra Achra.
    It was, of course, not the first time that Ashmedai had made common cause with the other side - over the long millennia there had been many opportunities to work towards their shared interests - but something was different this time, something that made even the King of Demons slightly nervous.
    No, it was just the Unborn Prince in his synagogue that had so disturbed his mind. Nothing good could come from this - and Samael’s overconfidence was itself troubling. He knew something that Ashmedai did not, and he never enjoyed that rare sensation.
    They entered a low cave, lit by flickering torches in high alcoves, their pungent smoke rippling through the air like water, surrounding the twilight figure of Ov sitting at the back. She breathed deep of the fumes, expelling a green vapour from her nostrils; but she did not open her eyes.
    “Welcome, King Ashmedai,” Ov whispered, “glad you could join us.”
    Ashmedai did not deign to respond.
    “We have no time for pleasantries,” barked Samael, “is there word from the Boss?”
    She shook her head slowly, “no, but there is something - from beyond the curtain.” Ashmedai could taste the excitement in her blood.
    And then her eyes snapped open, shining with pure light. And when her mouth opened, a multiplicity of voices poured forth:
    “The days of the Seven are almost over - while they may succeed for a time they shall swiftly fall, for among the Seven lurks a traitor. When the depths rise, when the Bound One wakes, then this world shall come to an end and Asher son of Eliav will die.”
    Good, thought Ashmedai, it would all be simpler with Malchut out of the way. And a traitor in the Seven? Perhaps this was the knowledge Samael seemed to possess - and maybe this was the same as the mysterious ‘boss’ that they kept referring to.
    “Excellent,” rumbled Samael, deep and low. “Ashmedai, I believe we have another task for you.”
    The King of Demons nodded slowly - soon they would all be free.

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