Monday 13 August 2012

Radiance 27 - Sound the horn

by Zeeksie,
8] Count seven sabbath years – seven times seven years – so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9] Then sound the trumpet everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10] Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11] The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12] For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
13] In this year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own possession.
    -Leviticus 25

    The George Washington Bridge loomed large above their heads as Asher found himself blinking furiously in the sudden bright sunshine.
    “We have to move,” Virgo said, taking him by the hand a starting to pull him down the road.
    “I can barely stand,” Asher said, supporting himself on a nearby handrail. “Anyway, Rahko’s half a world a way right now.”
    “After all this time, he still doesn’t get it,” said Li, her lip curling.
    “Asher, the Leviathan isn’t a big fish or a whale,” Virgo said, looking impatiently at Asher, “its the personification of chaos, more an aspect of creation that a creature of flesh and blood. It was imprisoned beneath the centre of the world but not physically - did you really think God actually went hand-to-hand with the Loch Ness Monster?”
    “But we were in Jerusalem,” he protested.
    “The physical and the spiritual are overlaid one on the other,” Virgo continued hurriedly, “but the point is that the Leviathan could rise anywhere and everywhere - and Rahko almost certainly tracked us here.”
    And just as Virgo finished speaking, a crash of waves could be heard above the constant hum of people and cars. Tyres screeched, car horns blared and people began to scream.
    “The Hudson!” shouted Li, and ran down to the footpath that ran along the river with Virgo in swift pursuit and Asher limping behind.
    And then he saw it, and for just a moment, Asher forgot to breathe.
    Though every sense he had was shrieking at his brain, his mind refused to believe what he was seeing. It fitted with no version of reality Asher had ever imagined, despite the demons, ghosts and spirits he had fought since joining the Seven. Everything about it was wrong, defying all sense of measurement, scale and sanity.
    Like a giant snake the Leviathan coiled out of the water, moving as easily as a bird through the air, impossibly long, tall and sinuous. Its head - no, its heads - were full of row upon row of teeth, each longer than the Sword that Cuts, boiling and biting, ripping the water to shreds like cloth. Cyclopean scales were arrayed down its vast bulk, monstrous and sharp like diamonds, glittering as the creature’s spines parted the waves and the spray poured across their oily surface. A miasma of smoke and ash burst forth from the creatures nostrils, black and twisting, moving against the wind in all directions, as the Leviathan beat its wings against the summer breeze. And its eyes, its monstrous eyes that froze Asher down to the bones, were as colossal pools of nothing, empty holes that sucked in the light and left nothing in their wake.
    “Leviathan the elusive serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent,” whispered Virgo, her knuckles blanching as she clenched her fists.
    Asher could not bring himself to speak. Language itself failed in his mouth. He sought to summon the energy, bring forth the power as he had learnt to do, to find the edges between things - but he found nothing, however hard he tried or deeply he reached into himself.
    With a screech of a thousand tortured souls, the Leviathan hurled itself at the bridge - an instant later and it was simply gone. There was no sign of metal, no trace of the cars that had been trapped upon it, or the people caught with nowhere to go. There was nothing left.
    “What do we do?” Asher asked.
    “The Seven are broken,” said Li, shaking her head and staring in disbelief. “We are unbalanced and cut off from our source - all of our powers have faded.”
    “The Palace of Understanding is gone,” added Virgo, “my Staff is lost and the greatest among us has gone over to the other side.”
    Asher nodded. “So we agree then?” He asked.
    They all nodded - “we go down fighting” they said together, clasping one another around the shoulders - and as one, they walked down the path towards the small lighthouse that stood just beneath the bridge, determined to do all they could to restrain the Leviathan’s destruction.
    “I’m sorry,” Asher said as they walked, “sorry I didn’t trust you, Li, sorry I broke the circle of the Watchers.”
    “I forgive you,” Li said, “I was not exactly transparent with you either. When Ostar and Mercury walked into Ashmedai’s trap, I was supposed to be there to help them - but I was actually keeping an eye on you. I didn’t trust you, Asher, and I should have. I too am sorry.”
    “And we know how persuasive Rahko can be,” Virgo added, “he had all of us fooled, chasing our own shadows. You shouldn’t blame yourself.”
    But the guilt burned deep inside him, black and fierce, a wave of nausea and despair - this was his fault, and all the deaths that followed would be laid on his conscience, the blood was thick on his hands, stained red through flesh and bone. As they walked to the edge of the river, Asher knew, with a strange kind of certainty, that he now faced the death the prophecy had spoken of; and despite himself, he welcomed it.
    They reached the edge of the river and looked out on the New Jersey view that had become so familiar to Asher after years of living near Columbia university, now alien, misshapen, as the Leviathan seemed to warp all of reality around it basking in the sounds of panic and terror.
    “I never thought I’d live to see this,” said Virgo, looking out onto the water.
    “On the bright side you might not live much longer,” answered Li, without a smile.
    “What have you got?” Asher said grimly.
    “A few flames,” said Li, “not sure how much I can muster.”
    “I have a verse or two just for this occasion,” Virgo said, “Asher?”
    “I’ll see what I can do,” he responded.
    “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord,” chanted Virgo, closing her eyes and swaying slightly from side to side. Without the Staff of Moses, she seemed smaller, shrunken and tired. Asher willed the power once more, trying to feel the boundary between himself and the world, the skin that divides, the boundaries between objects, but he got nothing.
    “Awake, as in days of old, in the generations of old,” Virgo continued as a small spark of flame burst from Li’s forehead and palms.
    “Are You not He who cut Rahab in pieces and wounded the dragon?
    That seemed to catch the Leviathan’s attention. It paused and moved to look down at the three small figures standing on the shore, heads darting back and forward as it considered them. Burning tongues flickered back and forth and slaver seemed to form around the titanic teeth.
    “Are You not He who dried the sea, the waters of the deep?
    “Whatever you’re doing, I don’t think it’s working,” said Asher.
    With a shout, Li hurled a ball of fire towards the closest of the creature’s heads - but compared to the power Li had wielded in the Palace of Understanding, this attack seemed feeble and weak. With a small flick of its head, the Leviathan shrugged it off and bent towards them.
    “He who made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?” finished Virgo but the Leviathan stood unflinching and unconstrained.
    The creature roared and drove a head straight for the three of them - with a flick of her wrist, Li sent them flying backwards, away from the gaping maw that turned earth and rock to water.
    Asher landed heavily, feeling the hot tarmac ignite the pain of the shards of crystal embedded in his hand. The street was abandoned and empty, everyone having fled from the sanity-breaking creature of Chaos. He stood gingerly, brushing himself down, before he felt a shadow cover him and blot out the sun.
    The Leviathan reared up above him, fixing him with its empty gaze, baring its savage teeth dripping red and black. It snorted a cloud of ash before opening its jaws wider than the moon. Water and fire welled up its cavernous throat, as Asher waited for the molten death that had been predicted.

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