Elohim

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  1. AA0: It is in the nature of the Watchers to have an endless hunger to know, and even the very young children of elyonim, nephilim, and men ponder their own origin. To silence the questions of the One, Thaumiel said, 'Your beginning was the result of our own joining.'
  2. AA1: But this was not sufficient to still the questions of Chokhmah, who had spoken only with the Two. She asked of the origin of Thaumiel and whether there lived others of their kind. Her parents said, 'The elohim exist in a multitude far beyond your ability to reckon.
  3. AA2: 'But it is the long tradition of the Watchers to isolate a young eloah for a span of time. You must fully develop your own unique identity before we permit you to be immersed in the song of the City of Stars, lest you be lost in the cacophany of the many voices.'
  4. AA3: The One accepted that answer, and did not think her parents to be untruthful. But she also realized that merely asking endless questions of Thaumiel would be little different from drowning in the lore of the Watchers. So Chokhmah vowed to discover her own answers.
  5. AA4: From the time she began to exist the One had known only the Two, and she knew them only as voices. But there was also a thing she knew how to do, although she did not know how she was able to know it. Chokhmah could send pieces of herself out of her body.
  6. AA5: These fragments were like hot drops of liquid, very tiny, yet each one was as heavy as a stone temple, and they shone with a light that would blind a world-dweller after a single glance of one brief instant. These drops were hurled into a void surrounding Chokhmah.
  7. AA6: The drops expanded and cooled, becoming frozen shapes as tall as trees. They flew free of Chokhmah's body, yet each shape remained connected to her by a thread which none could see, not even with her own surrogate eyes in the shapes. Chokhmah turned to behold herself.
  8. AA7: Chokhmah saw that she was a globe of light, and her surface was made of flames which erupted into the void. With the flying tools which Chokhmah had made she saw identical eruptions of flame, but each tool saw them erupt at different times, and she pondered this.
  9. AA8: Chokhmah reasoned that light must travel through the void at a sluggish pace compared to how fast it travelled through the invisible thread that linked her to each tool which she had fashioned. Or perhaps the threads were strange shortcuts that really had no length at all.
  10. AA9: Then Chohkmah turned to face away from herself. She beheld the stars, and knew that she was seeing countless others of her kind, but they were so dim that Chokhmah, who saw how her own light faded with distance, marvelled how far across the void they truly were.
  11. AB0: She knew that two of those stars must be the bodies of Thaumiel, though she was not yet sure which ones they were. Certainly none were very close, thus Chokhmah knew there must be threads between herself and the Two like the ones that linked to her tools.
  12. AB1: Chokhmah saw points of light that looked like stars, yet they only reflected the light that the One herself made, and they were much closer than the elohim. Chokhmah decided to visit these objects. She fattened the link to one of her tools and let hot gas flow through.
  13. AB2: This gas then escaped into the void and caused the tool to move. As it responded to Chokhmah's will and offered her the sense of sight, she lived through the tool vicariously, as though her body was free to move through the void. This tool she called her avatar.
  14. AB3: She found the nearest point of light to be an airless world so hot metals were as soft as butter or even liquids lying in dull gray puddles. The next further world was even hotter, because it had a blanket of air to trap the heat. At night the ground glowed dimly red.
  15. AB4: But there was a third object at a distance that was a hundred-fold greater than the width of the body of the One. There temperatures were much more moderate. The avatar of Chokhmah dropped below the cloud layer and cooled off at last in a world-girdling expanse of water.
  16. AB5: When Chokhmah emerged from the ocean she crossed over a land thickly covered with green trees. She plowed through the vegetation and Chokhmah observed frightened apes fleeing over the ground using all four limbs to move. One of these was taken down by a predator.
  17. AB6: Chokmah leaped into the void and came down once more in another area of the Earth. She reached a grassy plain with a single mountain dominating it for many miles. Here Chokhmah observed another group of apes that walked on just two legs. She changed her shape to watch.
  18. AB7: Hidden from human eyes as a white rock, Chokhmah observed a burial ceremony for a newly dead hunter. Afterwards the apes polished elaborate bone tools with stone tools and repaired the animal hides they slept within during the hunt. At night they entered a cave.
  19. AB8: A tendril from the avatar of Chokhmah snaked in to watch the apes. A female applied pigment to the wall to produce a beautiful painting. Chokhmah saw resin boiling in a pot over a fire. The resin was then used to fix a stone spearhead to a shaft for hunting.
  20. AC9: Chokhmah spoke of all these things to the Two. She had found creatures who were alive and awake in the manner of the Watchers, yet were unutterably different. Keter refused to pass along to El Elyon his daughter's observations. But Chokhmah had two parents.
  21. AC0: Daat could reach El Elyon through the eloah named Hod. Chokhmah's discovery would unleash scrutiny from El Elyon that Keter was unprepared to endure. Keter knew he must immediately tempt Daat into the same transgression as his own to ensure his silence.
  22. AC1: The act of giving birth changed an eloah from female to male. This normally happened within a span of time similar to a human lifetime, yet no Watcher had ever died a natural death. For every female among the elohim there were countless males vying for them.
  23. AC2: As the ages rolled on this only grew worse, and courting among the Watchers became ripe for abuse. The only way for an eloah to speak with others was through two umbilical cords that always connected a Watcher to his parents, and through them to their parents, and so on.
  24. AC3: Individual living suns could be entirely sealed off from the greater community of elohim. Two male elohim could conspire to set up a kind of harem. They could take turns mating with each other's offspring as Keter had done with Daat, a great crime among the Watchers.
  25. AC4: Daat's mother Hod had been one of those trapped females, allowed back to the City of Stars in return for mating with Keter. There was a covenant of silence in force. Hod was enjoined from speaking of his captivity, but nothing would forbid him speaking of the Students.
  26. AC5: Keter knew Hod would enjoy announcing the discovery of the Students to El Elyon as a certain way to bring about the judgment and unnatural death of Gevurah and Keter, the elohim who had imprisoned him, without violating the pact that still existed between them.
  27. AC6: Daat was an orange sun very near to the Earth, as the gaps between suns go. Chesed was another such orange sun, somewhat further away. Keter arranged their liaison and they mated with Daat fully aware that he was guilty of breaking the highest law of the elohim.
  28. AC7: In the mating of elohim eight ripples fly out into the void. It took over four years for the first ripple from Chesed to reach a wild but cool orange-red sun and quicken into a living and conscious being. The second ripple from Chesed arrived a month later.
  29. AC8: But Netzach was already well along in becoming the newest female member of the Watchers, so the ripple did not tarry. Instead, four months later, it reached a very small red sun and began to quicken life there. But this sun and two others beyond it were too cool.
  30. AC9: The three red suns formed a trap for the six remaining generative waves. They repeatedly quickened into newborn elohim, only to Aesult in a stillbirth soon after. At the end of the mating Chesed, the mother of Netzach, had become forever male.
  31. AD0: As Chokhmah waited in vain for even a simple acknowledgement that she had made an important discovery she thoroughly explored the rest of the Earth. Then she took to flight to examine a smaller world nearby, in the hope she would find more living things swarming there.
  32. AD1: This world was half again as distant from Chokhmah as Earth was, and cooler still, yet it was not so cold as to remain perpetually frozen. But it was too small to retain the amount of air required by the kind of life she had already found on Earth and no surface water existed.
  33. AD2: In the gap from two to four times the distance of Earth from Chokhmah there lay an expanse where the largest body was smaller than Earth's moon in the same proportion the Moon was smaller than the Earth, and like the nearest world to Chokhmah it had no air at all.
  34. AD3: At five times the distance of Earth Chokhmah found a very large world attended by four moons of its own. Chokhmah thought that in some ways this world was like a sun itself, but it was a failed star that did not shine, though it had own family of icy worlds.
  35. AD4: At ten times the distance of Earth Chokhmah found another world that was somewhat smaller. It had only a single large moon, but there were also large rings of made of bits of ice. Two more frigid worlds were discovered at twenty and thirty times the distance of Earth.
  36. AD5: Beyond these worlds there seemed to be only small scattered balls of ice, and then the stars. Chokhmah made an end of her survey. She looked at herself and saw that she, too, had become essentially another star, albeit still very much the brightest one.
  37. AD6: But neither Keter nor Daat had said a word about the living things of Earth. Chokhmah saw that some of the stars had shifted in their position and in this way she reckoned their true distance. She said, 'It would be a small thing for me to reach one of the other suns.'
  38. AD7: Keter said, 'You will find it impossible. The link to your avatar will grow too thin to be useful as a conduit for matter when it has reached the distance light travels in the time this Earth makes one full circle. You could begin such a crossing but you could never stop.
  39. AD8: 'We rule our own near vicinity absolutely, but we can reach no further. If it were not so, even now I would be preparing to cross the void myself and destroy all of these living creatures you have discovered, to kill them with fire from my own belly.'
  40. AD9: Chokhmah said, 'Help me to understand, father. Something within me says these living things are not our enemies.' And Keter replied that even if they were not dangerous to the Watchers now, perhaps they would be mortal enemies of the elohim in the near future.
  41. AE0: 'I will reveal to you that we Watchers have found many worlds with life of like kind, but the tool-making creatures you have discovered are potentially dangerous to us because they are fully awake even as we are, guided by their own will rather than nature.'
  42. AE1: Chokhmah suggested their very uniqueness made them something to be treasured and not cast away. But Keter replied, 'I am fully persuaded in my own mind that the risk is too great, yet I can do nothing but block your announcement. This does not give me pleasure, my daughter.'
  43. AE2: Chokhmah said, 'It may be true that I cannot halt my avatar at another star, but certainly information is not so constrained. After all, I can speak freely with yourself and Daat. When my avatar reaches a nearby star I can still see, and use whatever I carried.'
  44. AE3: Keter replied that he could not imagine what good Chokhmah thought it would do. She replied, 'My avatar will perform a fly-by of a living star and I will use the gas I carry to remain pointed at him as I speak in a quiet place of the creatures I found on Earth.'
  45. AE4: And Keter was dismayed how his daughter, entirely without recourse to the lore of the Watchers, knew that a sun's own body filled the void with noise, yet there remained silent regions where creatures such as the ones she had found could make themselves heard.
  46. AE5: Keter knew Chokhmah's threatened action would of a certain be his undoing. He said, 'You are too young to understand the responsibility that has been thrust upon you by your misfortune of finding these creatures. You have not been granted access to El Elyon.'
  47. AE6: She said the oversight could be corrected any moment he choose to do so. Keter replied, 'It is the way of the elohim to introduce our young to El Elyon in stages, after they have developed a stable personality. But after this exchange I judge you are now ready for this.'
  48. AE7 'But you must be willing to ac- cept twp conditions before I give you access to the City of Stars. The first is you must send some of these clever animals you have found to a world circling myself, that I may examine whether they are amenable to our control.
  49. AE8: 'The second condition is irrev- ocable. For your entire span of ex- istence you shall only be able to listen to the idle chatter of the elohim. Never shall you ask of them the smallest question. Never shall you speak to them of these creatures nor any other thing.'
  50. AE9: So Chokhmah entered into the First Covenant with Keter. Full con- tact with El Elyon was offered in return for helping establish a human colony in Keter's system. But she could only listen to El Elyon, never speak, not even to a sun she ap- proached with an avatar.
  51. AF0: A fierce prairie storm hurled lightning, rain, and hail. A man clad in animal skins picked his way to the base of the same mountain once visited by Chokhmah that one day would be named Green Dome. His mate carried a child as she followed him and she was also wearing skins.
  52. AF1: The man found a cave in the mountainside to shelter from the storm. The woman sat on a boulder and breastfed her child as her mate started a fire. A noise other than the crackling fire startled both of them. The man moved deeper into the cave with a torch to investigate.
  53. AF2: He passed a wall that was cov- ered with images of animals and hunters, evidence the cave had been used long before. But there was also much dry firewood, which spoke of more recent habitation. He thought perhaps the ones who lived there were caught out in the storm.
  54. AF3: The cave narrowed to a tunnel that meandered and grew lighter when intuitively it should have grown darker. The man was joined by his woman and her child. They reached another cave mouth deep within the interior of the mountain that re- vealed cyan bushes and a purple sky.
  55. AF4: A branchless tree resembling a whip stirred into motion and struck the ground before them. The whip tree grabbed the man's torch and hurled it away, where it started a fire. The couple could not emerge from the cave entrance by reason of the whip tree and the growing fire.
  56. AF2: The man and woman edged back into the tunnel away from the heat. When the whip tree caught fire it began to thrash more intensely than they saw it do before. They retreated deep inside the cave until the tree burned to a lifeless crisp, and returned when the fire abated.
  57. AF3: A black patch of land lay before the man and woman and continued to smoulder. They stepped across the hot burnt soil and carefully watched for any movement. When they gazed back towards the tunnel they were startled to see it was set it a low ridge. The mountain was gone.
  58. AF4: When the sun set a second brilliant light remained in the sky, tinged with orange, far brighter than any star. Still, it began to grow cold. The man used some of the smouldering embers to rekindle a fire in the tunnel entrance and returned to the other world to hunt game.
  59. AF5: So supper was two hares caught by Adamu and skinned by Chava, milk for little Kayin. In the morning they saw the burned acreage was already sporting shoots of grass that was blue. The next day the grass was tall enough for the couple to run barefoot and free.
  60. AF6: It was a whole new world. Adamu and Chava thought it belonged to them, solely, but that was not to be. A small herd of bison emerged from the tunnel and proceeded to eat the alien grass, driven by a tall figure in the shape of a man but without a face, as black as obsidian.
  61. AF7: The black figure carried a twin-headed ax to the edge of the burn where a native plant took root in the burnt area. It laid the ax to the base of the plant and chopped it cleanly off, then flipped the ax around and used the handle's sharp tip to pry the weed out of the soil.
  62. AF8: The black figure interposed itself between the cave entrance and the human family and approached them. They backed away until they reached the perimeter of the burned area. The avatar held out the tool and motioned for the man to take it until he did as Keter bid him to do.
  63. AF9: As the black figure watched, Adamu found another plant that was growing on the edge of the grazing ground for the bison. He duplicated the actions he had seen to kill the intruding plant. Then the black figure taught him how to restore the keen edge of the ax with a stone.
  64. AG0: The faceless black figure returned to the tunnel entrance to be joined by the avatar of Chokhmah, which had become identical in size and shape and make, except that it was white. 'Interesting geometry,' Chokhmah said. 'The link to my avatar passes through our umbilical.'
  65. AG1: The avatar controlled by Keter held up a black hand as he reflected upon it. He replied, 'I find this strange mode of being even more fascinating, daughter. Liquid drops of separated star-stuff buffeted by charged clouds. So very slow, yet the combinations are without end.'
  66. AG2: 'Here are the animals,' Chohkmah said, 'transplanted to a world you can reach with your avatar to do with them as you will, that you may ascertain whether they are a danger to our kind. Now fulfill your word, Father, and allow me to listen to the song and lore of El Elyon.'
  67. AG3: 'All you have given me,' said Keter, 'is three creatures in a place that will kill them if they try to leave their small garden. I need forty more such families before you get access to El Elyon, for that will capture your psyche for many turns of this rock around my body.'
  68. AG4: Chokhmah complied with all of her father's demands to begin populating the chilly world he called Heaven, entirely without voicing an objection. For it was a facet of quickened stars who might measure out their lives in billions of years that they had patience, and to spare.
  69. AG5: Over the course of time the elohim planted several dozen gardens in heaven, and nearly a hundred human children had been born away from Earth. There had been many deaths, for the native flora was unrelenting in its hostility, but man in his turn was the monster from Earth.
  70. AG6: In the first garden the eldest sons of Adamu and Chava were of an age to have wives of their own. Chokhmah emerged from the tunnel escorting a woman from Earth as Keter observed from the cliff overhead. Chokhmah and the woman approached Kayin, who had been born on Earth.
  71. AG7: Kayin was harvesting vegetables. He bowed to Chokhmah and offered his best ones. The woman turned up her nose at the food. So Chokhmah ignored Kayin's sacrifice and took the woman to see the younger son instead, Hebel, the firstborn of heaven. He was barbecuing bison.
  72. AG8: Hebel bowed and offered a stick with meat cubes to Chokhmah, who in turn handed the stick to the woman. She ate the meat greedily because a fertile female instinctively goes for iron. Chokhmah placed the hand of the woman in the hand of Hebel as Kayin looked on with anger.
  73. AG9: Kayin began to braid native vines for a long rope. Near the time of the setting of the white sun Kayin paused to watch the woman preening outside and he looked upon her with lust. Hebel emerged to gather his woman back inside his hut with a haughty glance at his brother.
  74. AH0: In the morning Adamu and Chava brought clothes they made for their younger son's wife, but they ignored Kayin, who continued to make his rope. All day Hebel and his wife pawed at each other in full view of Kayin, who smiled calmly until he finished his rope, then departed.
  75. AH1: Only one safe path led away from the Garden. Along this trail was a quivering whip tree which had not yet been cut down. It was bent away from the path and secured by a clever knot to a stump. The rope ended in the hand of Kayin, who meditated upon a new thing in heaven.
  76. AH2: Near dusk Hebel and his wife walked the path away from the Garden. Kayin tugged on the rope, freeing the whip tree just as his victims approached. The tree beat them into the ground. It broke their bones and bruised organs. Blood flew from their mouths as they cried out.
  77. AH3: The whip tree only stopped thrashing when Hebel and his bride were not recognizable as once-living humans. Adamu and Chava ran up to investigate their screams and were horror-struck. Chokhmah and Keter arrived soon after. Rope in hand, Kayin glared at them with defiance.
  78. AQ4: Chokhmah refused to watch Keter's response to the first murder in heaven. She returned to the tunnel in the Garden wall, and thence to the hillside cave on Earth. The avatar of Chokhmah did not return within the lifetimes of Adamu, Chava, Kayin, nor any of their children.
  79. AQ5: Chokhmah clambered to the summit of the peak a chief of the Kuwapi people would one day name the Island in the Sky, and white trappers would name Green Dome. There she beheld the unobstructed view, and Keter soon joined her. He said, 'How very instructive of humans, would you not agree?'
  80. AQ6: Chokhmah said, 'I cannot answer without comparison to our own kind, which you still deny me. You have made subtle changes to the animals that persist in their offspring without studying them to learn how it could be done. Such knowledge could only come from this El Elyon.'
  81. AQ7: Keter said, 'You have given me the colony I ordered, and my word is true. Lower your center of gravity, daughter, it is unbecoming a goddess to have her avatar fall on its face. And do not forget you will never be AMle to make targeted queries of El Elyon as I have done.'
  82. AQ8: Chokhmah did as her father suggested and seated her avatar upon the summit of Green Dome. Keter seated himself next to Chokhmah and for a moment they took in the same view. 'I envy you this world,' he told her. 'How very much unlike Heaven with its narrow unfrozen band.'
  83. AQ9: But Chokhmah made no answer, for she was already in contact with El Elyon. As Keter had predicted, it was overwhelming. For many years her silent white avatar sat motionless atop the Island in the Sky as the seasons changed, as winds buffeted her and snows blanketed her.
  84. AR0: From old the creatures discovered by Chokhmah looked into the night sky and saw a faint white band. They called it the Backbone of the Night. Later the Romans called it Via Lactea. Later still humans fashioned tools which revealed the mist to be made of innumerable stars.
  85. AR1: Two-thirds of these stars are much more cool and dim than yellowish Chokhmah and Keter, or even than orange Daat. They are entirely subject to convection with no stable layer for a sentient eloah to form, yet they may host one of two species of pre-elohim nuclear life.
  86. AR2: A distant ancestor of the elohim diverged into three species. One adapted to cooler and cooler red stars and even colonized the ubiquitous L and T class infrared 'brown' stars that burn, ever so briefly, using a deuterium cycle for energy rather than fusing four protons.
  87. AR3: A second species became adapted for the middle-range red dwarf stars which humans would much later classify as lying between M2 and M7. By necessity they reproduced prodigiously, since a large stellar flare would kill them on the time scale of a few decades.
  88. AR4: A third species adapted to claim the hotter but more stable habitats of the K, G, F, and A class stars. With much longer lifespans, a network arose bringing community and full sentience. These are the elohim and the oldest living member, Yefefiah, is 980,000 years of age.
  89. AR5: Other suns were blue or blue-white giants as much as a hundred times more massive than Chokhmah, far too hot to be quickened as one of the elohim. Once or twice in a century these stars died in a vast explosion that for a short moment of time outshone the entire universe.
  90. AR6: The center of the galaxy has a spinning bulge of stars elongated into a bar nearly as long as the distance of Chokhmah to the pivot point. The elohim emerged where this bar joins with the Scutum-Centaurus Arm and have spread to reach the first wrap of the Sagittarius Arm.
  91. AR7: From the way Keter had spoken of this El Elyon before she was granted access to the greater community of her kind Chokhmah assumed he was a powerful lawgiver among the elohim, or perhaps even a deity. Now she knew El Elyon was nothing more than all the elohim in aggregate.
  92. AR8: Early in the existence of El Elyon, long before Chokhmah encountered Earth, another world of sentient life based on chemistry was known to the elohim. They were aquatic creatures who adapted to cross land when an ice age reduced their shallow world ocean to scattered lakes.
  93. AR9: El Elyon took delight to find the universe looking at itself through different eyes, but the energies unleashed by the creatures hastened the end of the very glacial period that made them tool-users. The elohim watched them slowly revert to silent ocean-dwellers once more.
  94. AS0: On ten occasions the elohim detected signals coming from civilizations somewhere beyond the reach of El Elyon. In every case the broadcasts faded in less than five hundred years, sometimes as a gradual change to more efficient communications, other times far more AMruptly.
  95. AS1: More frequently a young eloah exploring her own neighborhood ran across the ruins of extinct culture which had attained sufficient know- ledge to reach beyond the world of their birth. In some cases an echo of these creatures lived on in the machines they left behind.
  96. AS2: It was inevitable that the elohim must cross paths with a similar kind of life once more, but the next time, it was collectively vowed, the elohim would not sit idly by as the creatures brought AMout their own extinction. They would be made aware of the dangers.
  97. AS3: For El Elyon knew how truly precious and rare was life, even life which was so different from themselves. The Watchers looked to the coming of the Students, and Chokhmah had found them, yet Keter and Daat worked to ensured they would remain hidden.
  98. AS4: And Chokhmah thought to her- self, 'My own parents are enemies not only of myself, but enemies of the whole community of our kind. They have fallen into the forbidden way, and now work to hide the stud- ents, or even to destroy them.'
  99. AS5: Chokhmah had been overwhelmed by sudden access to the chatter of El Elyon, even as her father had warned, but over time she learned to separate her identity from the truly endless stream of infor- mation. Atop Green Dome her avatar stirred to action once more.
  100. AS6: When Chokhmah returned to full awareness she saw Keter waiting for her on the summit. 'You are a liar, Father. This is not a research pro- ject, merely part of your harem!' Keter did not deny that, he only restated there was a covenant and Chokhmah must abide by the terms.
  101. AS7: Chokhmah said, 'Have no fear that I will break our covenant, for I will do what my own parents could not, and obey every law and custom of El Elyon. But one day these creatures will make such a noise that every Watcher will hear them. That is what you should fear.'
  102. AS8: 'It will never come to that, daughter. While you were immersed in the lore of El Elyon this world made two circles around yourself, and there was another killing. It is clear your precious woken creat- ures will destroy themselves and leave nothing but ruins.'
  103. AS9: Chokhmah sneered that Keter's colony would raise up thralls who worked only to hasten their own extinction, but she would teach her students to survive. Keter said, 'You can do nothing but fail, since you can only listen to El Elyon as an outsider while I make queries.'
  104. AT0: Chokhmah did not despair. Vowing to preserve the sentient creatures she found, Chokhmah knew she would have the willing partici- pation of those she called the Students, while Keter and Daat would only heap to themselves the resentment of their slaves.
  105. AT1: There is no native fauna in Heaven but some of the flora moved of its own accord and most of it was dangerous. A whipping tree could render an angel down to a pile of broken bones and bloody flesh in a few heartbeats. Some of the leaves formed clenching mouths with teeth.
  106. AT2: Thorny ball bushes rolled under their own power by shifting their weight and selectively gripping the ground. Most plants were deadly to touch. For centuries the death rate of the colonists in Heaven exceeded the birth rate, mandating a steady stream of new volunteers.
  107. AT3: In Mesopotamia, Chokhmah caused a temple to be erected around her end of the celestial bridge. No one was ever seen to return from the sacrificial chamber so priests sent criminals through, but Chokhmah decreed that virgin females also be sacrificed.
  108. AT4: Heaven is cooler than most of the Earthborn find to be ideal. Only a single narrow belt of land remained unfrozen, drained by a river that arose in the high mount- ains far in the west of the lands later claimed by the Brown Beards of the kingdom of Larund.
  109. AT5: As it made the circuit east the World River lost five miles in elevation before it reached the largest body of water in Heaven. The sea of Thalury was constrained by a cliff nearly four miles high forming the western bulwark of the uplands where the river was born.
  110. AT6: Several times a year rock the size of a hill smote Heaven and released a blast sufficient to destroy a walled city. But every century a rock the size of a mount- ain smote Heaven with enough force to lay waste to an entire kingdom. In the main these collisions went unnoticed.
  111. AT7: Most strikes occurred on the uninhabited ice sheets that covered the vast majority of the surface of Heaven. But if a large rock struck the band where the ice terminated it would rain for many days, then freeze, and cover all Heaven in ice for a whole generation.
  112. AT8: Only plants that could spore would survive. Keter commanded the inhabitants of Heaven to cons- truct ships and stock them with enough food to preserve their lives and those of their animals during the coming catastrophe. But few heeded the oracles of Keter.
  113. AT9: An entire forest was denuded to build forty ships, which became the first novelty architecture in Heaven. Scoffers amused themselves until the very day a dazzling blue- white light was seen over the southern ice and rain began to fall in nearly unbroken sheets.
  114. AU0: Forty days and nights it rain- ed scalding water until the Adanite ships were lifted off their blocks and carried by winds and currents east to scattered points around the belt of Heaven. Then the rain cool- ed and began to fall as snow. The ships slowly came to a frozen stop.
  115. AU1: Then Chokhmah waxed wroth at both of her parents. She said, 'It would have been a small thing for one of you to prevent the object from striking Heaven yet you let it come, for no good purpose. And now, nought that goes on two or four legs lives outside of the ships!'
  116. AU2: Keter said, 'The purpose is manifest. You saw how the faith- fulness of the world-dwellers burns like kindling but then quickly becomes unbelief.' But Chokhmah questioned why the world-dwellers must conform to the will of the elohim to demonstrate uprightness.
  117. AU3: 'If you cannot discern that we are as high above these creatures on the Chain of Being as they are AMove the things they cultivate for food, then granting you access to El Elyon was a waste of time.' But Chokhmah predicted that in time even El Elyon would be surpassed.
  118. AU4: Keter said, 'In Heaven at least they will not have the time to overtake El Elyon. I will give no warning of the next great deluge and they will perish.' But Chokhmah pointed out that forty Adanite ships proved world-dwellers could remain faithful to his decrees.
  119. AU4: Keter said, 'The Adanites remain loyal to me only because I speak to them directly from time to time. Were I to turn away from them for a short span, they would fall into unbelief.' Chokhmah sug- gested that familiarity led them to see Keter as a mere chieftain.'
  120. AU5: Keter asked his daughter if she proposed to test her claim or to let it remain a naked boast. She answered, 'Even as I toiled to establish your colony in Heaven, you must assist me in this test. Release three yeng to raise up a people to me while I remain aloof.'
  121. AU6: 'That would be a good test, daughter, but have patience! It could be centuries before the Adan- ites recover from the Deluge.' So Chokhmah named the testing the Second Covenant. She knew there would be no more unannounced rocks from the sky until it was done.
  122. AU7: Outside of Salem's stone walls the angels of the city rejoiced over a record harvest. But as the celebration of Hellberry Days reached a fevered pace something the size of an engine of war descended on blue flame heralded only by a terrifying roar that scattered the crowd.
  123. AU8: The first Salemite to return to the pavilion was not a soldier of the warrior caste nor one of the elders of the council, but a young dirk who proved more valiant than the yeng and yen who ran away. Curiosity had overcome hyz fear, and Chokhmah was selecting for curiosity.
  124. AU9: The blast of the descent uprooted the fabric of the pavilion tent and blew it far away. The dirk stood hyz ground, albeit at some distance. Hy was curious about the object, but not stupid, and not eager to be burned. A loud voice then rang out from the avatar of Chokhmah:
  125. AV0: 'Adanite child, if you are willing, draw near to me.' The dirk obeyed. Hy saw how by resting on six legs the avatar of Chokhmah remained shoulder high AMove the ground. Underneath the central pillar a round hatch dropped open on a hinge and inside this hatch were steps.
  126. AV1: 'Again, if you are willing, come inside.' The brave dirk squeezed between two of the six white legs to look inside the hatch. The central pillar was hollow. There was much light within, and also many ribs embedded in the interior wall forming circular edges to be grasped.
  127. AV2: As the dirk crawled inside the central core the voice requested hyz name. 'I am Michael, son of Jophiel the glassblower,' hy said, and noted how the hatch below closed of its own accord. Hy climbed until the core flared out into a larger space with cushions and windows.
  128. AV3: Looking outside, the dirk saw only a handful of angels daring to draw near. 'Do not be afraid, Michael. I am Chokhmah, co-eval with Keter and Daat. I have many things to reveal, but only with your freely-given consent. If you leave now, your life may resume as before.
  129. AV4: If you stay, I will take you to a land far to the north. The journey will be quick and safe, but it will also be the most frightening thing that ever happened to you. And there is no way to avoid that because Heaven is not in my system.' Michael said, 'I will stay, Lord.'
  130. AV5: 'Excellent, Michael. Lie down while I make you secure.' Several straps embraced Michael as though alive. After that the avatar of Chokhmah ignited in flame again. There was much shaking, and Michael was pushed down into the cushion where he lay with steadily growing force.
  131. AV6: As the weight piled on, Michael began to cry. The dirk was brave, but hy had reached hyz limit. Chokhmah said, 'Michael, recite to me the scriptures you have been taught to memorize, from the beginning.' Michael obeyed for as long as hy could but speaking was difficult.
  132. AV7: Hy said, 'Before time was, in a place that was no place, the principle of life had being. Male and female it was so that life would always seek the other and continue life. The maleness called himself Keter, the femaleness called herself Daat. And they drew together.
  133. AV8: 'A third was conceived and born, a male, and they named him Chokhmah. When Chokhmah was grown he came to Keter and asked, 'Father, what shall you give to be my inheritance?' So Keter filled reality with ice. North, south, east, west, up, and down the ice was, without end.
  134. AV9: In the direction of up Keter transformed half of reality from ice into air. Keter created the warm white sun to rule the day, and the cold orange sun to rule the night. Also Keter patterned the sky with many lesser lights, and causes all of them to tunnel beneath the ice.
  135. AW0: Keter created a furrow in the ice where he laid down soil and carved lakes and seas. Daat also toiled for Chokhmah's inheritance. She caused living plants to fill the waters. But Chokhmah was not content even with all these gifts, which made his parents wroth.
  136. AW1: 'Keter and Daat vowed to create a paradise, but they would delay the giving of it to teach Chokhmah patience. So Keter caused hills to rise. Daat covered these with trees. Keter crafted rivers and many rushing streams. Chokhmah beheld the beauty of the land.
  137. AW2: 'But Chokhmah could not yet claim Heaven as his own, and he was exceedingly vexed. He wished his father dead that he might come into his inheritance.' Michael paused there thinking that it might anger Chokhmah to hear those words. Also it was almost impossible to speak.
  138. AW3: A great weight seemed to bear down on Michael but the ascent was not over and Chokhmah bid hym to go on. 'Filled with hatred for his parents, Chokhmah created the first elyonim. But he could not prevent some of his malice from passing into the angels which he made.
  139. AW4: 'The angels were created to spite Keter and Daat, which is why they strive one against another to this day. Chokhmah did not take the greatest care with his creation. From the beginning they were beset with many ailments. So Daat taught the healing arts to the angels.
  140. AW5: Also Daat created cattle and fowls and swine, and she taught yeng how to grow and harvest greens and rice and wheat. And it came to pass the numbers of the children of Adamu and Chava were greatly multiplied in heaven, as they no longer had only fickle Hellberries to eat.'
  141. AW6: Michael had to stop reciting the Creation Litany because the invisible force pressing hym into hyz seat had become too great for hym to speak. 'Enough!' the voice of Chokhmah said. The shaking stopped, and Michael suddenly felt blessedly free, as though hy were swimming.
  142. AW7: Only the straps kept Michael from bouncing around inside the bulb at the top of the central pil- lar. The avatar of Chokhmah performed a half-rotation until the curved white bulk of Heaven could be seen through the windows. The sky was no longer purple but black.
  143. AW8: Chokhmah told him his world was really a ball, as he could now see, and the suns did not tunnel under the ice. 'I had thought it to be a ring, Lord,' said Michael after a time. 'There are tales that yeng have crossed the West Lands to arrive in the East Lands.'
  144. AW9: 'You are correct, Michael, the unfrozen part of Heaven does form a ring, do you see?' Michael affirmed this. The avatar rotated to put the bulk of Heaven and the two suns out of sight. Michael saw countless stars. Chokhmah said, 'All the stars are just faraway suns.'
  145. AX0: The avatar was on a short sub- orbital arc. Michael began to feel hyz weight again but hyz mouth remained wide open in wonder. Chokhmah had greatly expanded the scale of hyz conceived reality. Hy knew the Litany of Creation hy had recited for her was entirely shit.
  146. AX1: The avatar of Chokhmah descen- ded along a parabola high over the northern ice sheet. The speckled brown and blue belt that was the inhabited portion of Heaven slipped below the horizon and out of Mich- ael's view. Almost all of Heaven was covered in miles of ice.
  147. AX2: Precipitation was greatest at the poles, where the two world- glaciers, north and south, were miles thick. And the glaciers moved very slowly, grinding the surface and underlying bedrock flat. Only at the equatorial belt were temper- atures warm enough to melt the ice.
  148. AX3: There at the foot of long terminal moraines large chunks of ice sheared away and melted, the source of water for many streams and freshwater lakes. Across Heaven volcanoes such as Anshar were born far below the surface and burned their way through the ice.
  149. AX4: The northern ice cap gave way around the bulk of Mount Anshar and closed back up again many leagues to the south, forming a rugged land in the shape of a teardrop. In that place, which abounded with geysers and boiling lakes, the avatar of Chokhmah touched down once more.
  150. AX5: Anshar was the name Michael hymself later chose for the hidden land after hy surveyed it. So dist- ant was Anshar from the inhabited places along the equator that no angels had discovered it, thinking the Northern Ice to be a wasteland that continued without bound.
  151. AX6: When Michael climbed back down through the central pillar and reached the ground Chokhmah ordered hym to walk a short distance away. After hy did so, the avatar begin to shrink and change shape until it attained the form of a slender angel of indeterminate sex.
  152. AX7: The avatar was encased entire- ly in featureless white, even the face, which remained perfectly smooth with not even eyes to see nor mouth to speak. Yet see and speak it could still do. The figure pointed across the barren flats to a dwelling made of glass and wood.
  153. AX8: 'Michael, there is only one structure in all of this land and it now belongs to you. Let us go indoors and I will tell you many things.' Michael agreed. Hy found that when Chokhmah walked the ground shook far more intensely than it did under a horse's gait.
  154. AX9: Michael said, 'I am safe Lord, though it was as terrifying as you warned. The Creation Litany helped. Yet now I see the Litany is false, and I wonder what else they taught to me is not true.' Chokhmah told hym that she was the daughter of Keter rather than his son.
  155. AY0: The house was more glass than wood, built on a stony knoll with an outstanding view of the ever- changing fire torrents of Mount Anshar only two leagues distant across a pumice plain. But there was no danger of lava engulfing the house. A great chasm intervened.
  156. AY1: In design the house was just a single room with an alcove above the kitchen where Michael could sleep with some degree of privacy, but there was no other living soul for a thousand leagues. On the main level were plush cushions and a glass table of superior make.
  157. AY2: Chokhmah, requiring no cushion for comfort, simply seated her ava- tar on the stone floor to put its head on a level with Michael's head and began to speak. 'We elohim call ourselves the Watchers. Keter and Daat call angels and men the Serv- ants. But I call you the Students.
  158. AY3: 'Contrary to your scriptures I did not make you, I found you, in another world than this. You are the most important discovery that we Watchers have ever made, as you are fully awake, even as the elohim are. But that is also why my parents Keter and Daat fear you.
  159. AY4: 'From the beginning Keter and Daat sought any justification they could contrive to have you destroy- ed. Your very existence will expose their hidden transgressions. How- ever they cannot prevent me from sharing with you everything the other elohim know.
  160. AY5: 'But how shall I do it, Michael? Shall I lecture you as I am doing now and hope we understand one another? I have found another way, but it will require your full cooperation. I am not Keter, I would not force you to accept the changes required by this way.'
  161. AY6: Michael asked what he would become if he agreed to the changes that Chokhmah proposed. 'Your mind, your identity as Michael would not change, but my memories as an eloah would be added to you as your mem- ories, and your memories as an angel would be added to mine.
  162. AY7: 'My will shall be manifest to your mind always. You would become my living avatar, yet you would remain free to act. In that way you would ratify our joining from mom- ent to moment. But you must know the physical changes cannot be un- done for so long as you live.'
  163. AY8: Chokhmah touched a hand to Michael's temple. 'Your brain is like a cup that you've been filling with wine for your entire life. The new cup will have a greater capacity, but the wine of your memories will remain the same. Even when the cup is gone that wine will remain.'
  164. AY9: Michael asked Chokhmah for how long. 'Not forever. Even an eloah has a finite lifespan. But that is so much longer than the span of an angel that I cannot express it with symbols that you would understand until after we are joined. Your culture never developed them.'
  165. AZ0: Michael stood up from hyz cushion to stare at the volcano while he weighed the words of Chokhmah. Then hy asked whether following these changes would he look very different 'Most of the changes will be inside you, Mich- ael, and small changes otherwise.'
  166. AZ1: Hy returned to kneel before Chokhmah. 'O Great one, let it come to be as you said, this union of elohim and elyonim. I am full willing, yet not to push my own end into a far distant time out of all reckoning. Let us join so that together we will both come to know many things.'
  167. 0: Lilith was a scrubby urchin who rose to the very top of the Fallen Angels gang because no matter what trouble sha got into, sha never seemed to actually get into trouble. This was mostly a matter of har con- nections. Lilith was, after all, the daughter of Cherub Melchiyahu.
  168. 1: In the hierarchy of Heaven Li- lith held the rank of Ophan. Saint Aquinas would mark har down as a Throne. Had sha been male or born in the West Lands or East Lands, Lilith would have ruled one of the cities tributary to Cherub Melchiyahu and commanded an entire army.
  169. 2: In the country around Salem Mi- chael began speaking to angels and hy confirmed the authority of hyz teachings by healing many of their infirmities. Soon hy began to draw crowds wherever hy went, and the Fallen Angels in turn were drawn by the opportunity to steal from them.
  170. 3: But even Lilith and her gang of pickpockets grew captivated by Mi- chael's words. Hy promised no para- dise to come in the future, and hy assigned no blame for the errors of the past. Michael taught a quiet spirituality of the present that spoke directly to the hearts of yen.
  171. 4: Lilith witnessed Michael healing angels with salves prepared from fireweed and the bark of vogul trees. Michael said, 'You have heard it said that Chokhmah is the un- grateful son of Keter and Daat. But I say to you that Chokhmah is their obedient daughter.'
  172. 5: After a time Ophan Lilith spoke of Michael to har father, but it was much more than the new teacher's words and deeds that impressed hym. For Melchiyahu also knew hyz daugh- ter had stopped dressing like yeng, and was again seen of evenings with- in the walls of the castle.
  173. 6: When the fame of Michael's heal- ings and teachings reached the ears of the dark avatar of Keter in Adan he commanded Zadkiel, a nobleyang of the house of Gerash, to appear be- fore his throne. Keter said, 'Go to the angels of Salem in the west and preach what I will tell you.'
  174. 7: Salem lay a thousand leagues away, a summer's journey even with fresh horses taken at intervals. Yet Daat, whose body was the tiny cold orange sun in the sky of Heaven, was able to set the endpoint of a short- cut in space-time near Salem for Zadkiel to walk there directly.
  175. # : For a time Michael returned to hyz home near Mount Anshar, yet the angels of Salem would continue to form crowds in the countryside, hop- ing to draw Michael out from hyz retreat. Zadkiel found them ripe to hear hyz own teachings, which were as contrary as could be.
  176. # : 'Thus says Keter,' Zadkiel began to say in a powerful voice. 'Chokh- mah! My son! For your inheritance I created all things in Heaven. But this I have against you, That you wished your father dead so you might come into your inheritance before the time of my choosing.
  177. 0: 'Therefore, Chokhmah, yen and yeng shall no longer call you a god. Behold, I cast you out of the para- dise of Anabas, and you shall die like the wretched mortal angels in pain and fear. And this also I have against your false prophet Michael son of Jophiel the glassblower,
  178. 1: 'Michael! You claim that you are united with Chokhmah in body and soul. Because you do not affirm your station as a commoner who carries only angelic blood, behold, I pro- nounce the penalty of death upon you. You are doomed to die for mak- ing the lie that you are a demigod.'
  179. 2: 'Hear now the great Code of Ket- er and take due care to adhere to every precept, for these are the edicts of the Lord of Heaven. No yin may speak to any yang in public, nor may sha own the least thing, for sha is property herself, belonging to har father or to har husband.
  180. 3: 'Four days are appointed, with names after the names of the four major families. These are Saladay, Bellonday, Larunday, and Gerashday. Three days you shall eat, and on Gerashday, you shall eat a double portion. But on Keterday you shall eat nothing, and drink only water.
  181. 4: 'Four days you shall work. But Keterday is the day of worship, you shall not work on that day, neither you nor any male in your whole household. On Keterday you shall worship in the shrine. None shall be exempted. The old and infirm shall be carried to worship Keter.
  182. 5: 'This is the essence of worship, You shall give one-fourth of your increase to Keter. The procedure for worshiping Keter shall be to present to the priest your worship card made of crackerwood sealed in a leather pouch together with the money you have earned on Gerashday.
  183. 6: 'The priest shall inspect the seal, unwrap the worship card, and inspect the pattern of recent punch- es. If the punches are in order, the priest shall make a new punch using one of five different punches drawn by lots, a star, a square, a trian- gle, a circle, or a rectangle.
  184. 7: 'And the priest shall store the worship card back in the leather pouch, add a seal, and return it to the worshiper; but the money hy shall put in the temple treasury. Yen, however, shall not worship, nor shall a yin be found in the Temple of Keter nor any shrine of Keter.
  185. # : 'You shall not suffer a yin or doll to earn income. A father shall count a dirk's income as hyz own for the purpose of reckoning the correct amount of worship due. If a yang's worship card has a missing punch that yang shall be put to death for failure to worship Keter.
  186. # : 'When a dirk is of age hy shall enter the rites of the Cupel system of testing. The dirk who survives the personal combat shall take the sister of hyz opponent, as well as his own sister, to be hyz wives. Hy shall enter the ranks of the Ishim, and hy shall worship Keter.
  187. 0 'When a Ravmalak is deemed wor- thy to qualify for the middle choir hy shall fight in the second Cupel rite of trial by individual death combat. The victor shall possess the two wives of hyz dead and vanquished counterpart and hy shall be counted among the ranks of Sarim.
  188. 1 'When a Hashmal is deemed worthy to qualify for the highest choir hy shall fight in the third Cupel rite of trial by individual death combat. The victor shall possess the four wives of hyz dead and vanquished counterpart and hy shall be counted among the ranks of Ophanim.
  189. 2 'The spirit of the warrior who falls on the field in the service of Keter shall be received in Anabas, the diamond palace above the clouds, and there hy shall receive the gift of immortality. Therefore do not shrink back in battle for it is Ket- er who rewards and punishes.'
  190. 3 When the interloper's words reached the ears of Cherub Melhiyahu through hyz officers hy was summoned to appear before the throne forth- with. Zadkiel found hy didn't rate an audience before the actual throne. Hy met Melchiyahu in hyz salon and was announced by the ma- jordomo.
  191. 4 Zadkiel found the lack of pomp striking, but hy was too stupid to discern what it really meant. No armed guard was present to protect the Cherub save hyz son Melchizekek, who bore no visible weapon, yet hy was armed with a small, powerful artifact forged by Chokhmah herself.
  192. 5 The Cherub said, 'Lord Zadkiel? I know of a Hashmal in the city of Adan who goes by the name Zadkiel.' 'Yes, Sire, I am hy.' 'And yet you did not obtain leave from my son Melchizekek to preach in our realm. You did not even ask my daughter Lilith. Ophanim, both of them.'
  193. 6 'Sire I say this all due defer- ence, Even were I the get of a lowly craftsman like this glassblower's son Michael, I would still have leave to preach in Salem. For Keter himself commissioned me, and your kingdom still lies, no matter how uneasily, within the Middle Lands.'
  194. 7 'And were Keter to come to Salem himself he could not pronounce death even for a glassblower's son. That is the right of a Cherub, and the giving of the scepter is without repentance.' 'Then Sire I counsel you restrain this Michael by fetters if not through death.' 'Why?'
  195. # 'Consider the alternative, Sire. Yin-centered rituals and devotions! Hy could destroy our entire sacri- fice-atonement system overnight! As long as someone is punished Keter is satisfied. But now this Michael comes along saying we actually have to be nice to each other!'
  196. # 'What a terrifying prospect.' 'Will you move against this dirk named Michael, Your Highness?' 'Not in haste, self-described Voice of Keter. My daughter admires this young prophet and puts hyz words into action, which gladdens my heart in a way I cannot begin to tell.'
  197. 'Sire, the ideas admired by your daughter are spreading through the land like a plague. Already the riv- er of pilgrims who flow to Adan seeking absolution is slackening. The priests had to raise rates across the board! Michael is a dag- ger pointed at the heart of the State.'
  198. 1 Melchiyahu looked at hym with an odd mixture of pity and amusement and abruptly Zadkiel realized the Cherub's purpose in limiting the audience to just two yeng. Hy could not punctuate hyz words with grand- standing. In their raw state the words sounded insane even to hym- self.
  199. 2 The Cherub said, 'I will listen to the words of Michael with my own ears and judge whether they are a threat to the realm. As for you--' 'Have a care, Melchiyahu!' Zadkiel dared to interrupt. 'The Lord Keter will not hesitate to bring an errant cherub to heel through war!'
  200. 3 Melchiyahu did not grow angry. Hy only rose to his feet and said to hyz son, 'This Hashmal I leave to you. Remember you will one day be Cherub.' When hyz father departed Melchizedek brandished Chokhmah's Artifact and allowed its dark shaft to extend to the height of a yang.
  201. 4 'Say no more words in my presence,' the Ophan warned. 'You would be cut in twain even as you spoke. A horse shall be given you with comestibles and water to see you to the first outpost thirty leagues east. A herald shall follow after Cherub Melchiyahu has heard Michael.'
  202. 5 Melchizedek allowed the black rip in the universe to fully retract into the hilt of the relic. 'If your master asks, tell him the Lord of Salem would gladly receive a messen- ger who comports hymself with the basic rudiments of court etiquette in the presence of a Cherub.'
  203. 6 After hyz audience with Zadkiel, the Cherub Melchiyahu sent hyz daughter the Ophan Lilith to seek Michael, to convey the Cherub's re- gards, and to bid the new prophet to visit the court in Salem to teach what hy would, if hy was so willing, for it was no sovereign decree.
  204. 7 Michael agreed to come if the encounter was open for any of the people to witness as they chose. Melchiyahu prepared the amphitheater where often hy thrilled visiting nobles with exhibitions of personal combat. Lilith attended as well, dressed for once like an actual Ophan.
  205. # These were the words Michael spoke in Salem as the white and or- ange suns sank in the west. In years after, the sermon was remembered as the Sunset Discourse, 'Chokhmah is a lamp whose light is these words. The darker your thoughts, the farther from Chokhmah you must be.
  206. # Sha whose thoughts have led har to drift far from Chokhmah is in no better state than hy who outright denies Chokhmah. 'Yeng are said to be superior to animals because they can control their own environment, but sha who embraces Chokhmah can control har own behavior.
  207. 0 'The noble born are called fa- mous, but sha who embraces Chokhmah sets an example by har deeds and becomes influential. 'The wealthy accumulate many riches but cannot keep all of them safe. Sha who em- braces Chokhmah has few desires, and so holds on to all that sha has.
  208. 1 'The self-satisfied demand to see good in others, and attribute the cause of a tragedy to unbelief or a defect in ritual, but sha who embraces Chokhmah is too busy merci- fully addressing the needs at hand to render judgment, and sha does not live for yesterday or tomorrow.
  209. 2 'A strong yang can do hy wills to do, but hy cannot even determine what hy wills. Sha who embraces Chokhmah makes har own awareness of injustice the determinant of har actions. Sha diminishes the over- flowing bounty of the corrupt to meet the needs of the impoverished.
  210. 3 'The boastful put their riches and knowledge on parade, but sha who embraces Chokhmah does not tell all that sha has, nor all that sha can do. 'The proud will never admit er- ror, but sha who embraces Chokhmah sees those who point out har faults as har greatest teachers.
  211. 4 'Hy who denies Chokhmah speaks only of the dead traditions of hyz longfathers of old, and by coercion leaves them in force, but sha who embraces Chokhmah cultivates the living and the new as the coin to buy har way, and sha knows that ful- ly half of a dialogue is listening.
  212. 5 'Hy who denies Chokhmah may re- fuse to grow or merely say that hy is willing to grow, yet in truth hy lives only to quench hyz appetites that hy might feel sated. But sha who embraces Chokhmah does not re- main idle; rather sha grows, ful- fills har passions and becomes joy- ous.
  213. 6 Hy who denies Chohkmah values only that which hy does not and can not have, and which do not multiply when shared. But sha who embraces Chokhmah empties har purse and finds har heart being filled. Sha contents herself with those things which are possible for har to obtain.
  214. 7 Hy who denies Chokhmah evaluates how much a yin is worth by consider- ing only how much sha possesses and what sha might do to benefit hym- self. But sha who embraces Chokhmah looks to what a yin does for others and who that yin protects, for that is what sha is truly worth.
  215. # Hy who denies Chokhmah considers yen vile and always falling short of his ancient standards. Sha who em- braces Chokhmah extols har sisters over all existing standards because when yen do go astray it is always induced by the repression induced by those very same standards.
  216. # Hy who denies Chokhmah examines everything about who is speaking except har words, and hears only what fits hyz prejudices. Sha who embraces Chokhmah recognizes har own tendency to have a bias and tries to set it aside so that sha may under- stand what is really being said.
  217. 0 'When hy who denies Chokhmah suffers an indignity hy mindlessly retaliates by committing another in- dignity. Sha who embraces Chokhmah knows the greatest revenge is simply not to be like hym who did the in- jury. The greatest conqueror is the yin who has conquered harself.'
  218. 1 Michael concluded the Sunset Discourse by healing many of the angels who came to hear hym speak and it was hyz sincere hope that one day the instruments and medicines hy used would not be viewed as magic. King Melchiyahu sent word bidding Michael to come before the throne.
  219. 2 After hy entered the castle and drew near to the Cherub's seat Mi- chael was announced by Lilith, who at har father's command was still in the temporary role of herald. No titles were given. It was known that Michael was a yang of the city, the commoner son of a glassblower.
  220. 3 Melchiyahu asked, 'When you re- peatedly say, 'sha who embraces Chokhmah' do you mean no yang can become your disciple? 'Not at all, Your Majesty,' said Michael. 'When I speak in those terms I wish to con- vey an image. A yang that admires Chokhmah will have a gentle heart.'
  221. 4 'The yang who embraces Chokhmah sees others around hym as another 'I' yet hy will retain his strength and hyz male angelic nature, as hy rightly should.' 'My own daughter has always had a fierce heart, yet sha has come to admire your teach- ings, and this has gentled har.'
  222. 5 'My Lord is aware that some pre- fer to use the left hand,' Michael said. At first Melchiyahu and hyz attendants were puzzled by this ap- parent non-sequitur. But Michael continued. 'This is not a matter of choice. There is an element of chance that is a part of every birth.'
  223. 6 Suddenly Melchiyahu saw through the elliptical manner of Michael's digression and admired the way it was done, so as not to embarrass hyz daughter Lilith. Sha saw it also and said, 'Don't forget that some angels are equally at ease using both their right and left hands!'
  224. 7 'Lucky you, Ophan Lilith,' said Michael with a gentle smile. 'Enjoy your life and never allow yourself to be convinced you should live a lie.' Melchizedek looked at his be- loved sister then and belatedly no- ticed sha wore no leather above har feet. Sha had cleaned up nicely.
  225. # Melchizedek raised hyz eyes to take in Lilith's red dress and hy could not recall the last time hy'd seen har wear one. Finally hy saw how har eyes seemed to be drowning in Michael and in an instant hy knew what was happening to har. Hy said, 'Who are you really, Michael?'
  226. # Michael drew near to Melchize- kek. 'Your Royal Highness, for years you were not to be seen in Salem but only your father Melchiyahu, your- self, and two servants knew that you were in the other world searching for a man who was not content to worship the gods of his fathers.'
  227. 0 The Ophan was stunned to si- lence. Melchiyahu said, 'My son found a man named Abram, but Abram's loyalty to his own father's well- being exceeded any loyalty to what was, to him, an unknown god. Mel- chizedek found no other of his like, and when he returned he reported failure.'
  228. 1 Lilith said, 'I was told nothing of my brother's missing five years.' 'Is it not some measure of who I am that I know what even Ophan Lilith does not?' Michael said. 'Tell me, if you will, Ophan Melchizedek, how this Abram foiled the charge laid upon you by three elohim.'
  229. 2 Hy answered, 'After many days of preparations I was told to enter a pool of water. I emerged, somehow, in a warm lake called Tana in the other world with my Malakim servants Zophiel and Kemuel. They dragged a raft covered with supplies tightly bundled to keep them all dry.
  230. 3 'After organizing our goods we paddled across the lake. Reaching the outflow we encountered rapids the locals considered unrunnable, and at one point we did have to portage around a great cataract. Below this the river calmed consid- erably and became the Blue Nile in- deed.
  231. 4 'For many days we were content to sit in the raft and paddle gen- tly, since the heat of the other world is oppressive at times. We passed water-loving beasts and human onlookers who dared not approach. Eventually we reached the place where the Blue Nile and White Nile merged.
  232. 5 'Day and night we drifted past bountiful riparian farms until we reached the vast Nile delta. There we tied up and haggled with men to trade the raft and our gold for food, water, pack animals, and ever- ything else we needed to make a long overland journey to the northeast.
  233. 6 'My father commanded us to trav- el to the land of Chaldea in the marshy place where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers joined together before flowing a short distance to the sea. Near the mid-point of our overland journey we sojourned at Harran where the Ninevah road forked.
  234. 7 'At the crossroads we found a shop owned by an elderly man named Terah, according to the sign over the door. Terah carved stone idols for dozens of different gods. One of the stone idols inside the store had fallen on its face and a younger man helped Terah stand it back up.
  235. # Terah inspected the idol and found it to be damaged. He groaned and began to repair it with hammer and chisel. The other man said, 'What is this useless thing you are doing, father? Are you not being a god to this god by healing it? I should have left it bowing down to you.'
  236. # 'Terah eyed his son with suspi- cion and said, So, Abram, was it you who knocked it over? Ask your gods, if they can speak, said he. I grew interested in this exchange and en- tered the shop. When I was seen by them, the angry words of father and son dwindled to silence.
  237. 0 'Perhaps they fell mute seeing I was a head taller than they, and my raiment was a dazzling unsoiled white with a subtle rainbow sheen. I made a slow tour of Terah's idols, inspecting everything, and I could see that both Terah and Abram gazed at me with similar curiosity.
  238. 1 After making a complete review of the wares I signaled for Zophiel and Kemuel to begin unpacking our gold on the street in front of the shop. Like fish to a baited hook, five robbers soon approached the shop with swords drawn and faces veiled. Then I prepared the Arti- fact.'
  239. 2 Melchizedek did not brandish the weapon, knowing hyz father did not give hym leave to do so. Rather, hy said, The Artifact is like a small gold ingot. I squeezed it firmly and a hissing black shaft emerged from it about the length and thickness of the shaft of a spear.
  240. 3 'The shaft drank all light and even the very air it cut through. One of the thieves was sliced into two equal pieces from head to toe. Another one was beheaded as I swept my golden gift made by the hand of Chokhmah and did not so much as shift my feet. The other three fled.
  241. 4 I lessened my grip. The noisy black shaft withdrew into what re- sembled the hilt of a blade, a hilt of gold. I secreted the Artifact about my person once more. Then Zo- phiel placed hymself to my right and Kemuel to my left as Abram and Terah both sank to their knees before us.
  242. 5 'Things became solemn. Zophiel said, 'Abram son of Terah, get thee hence from your father's household and from your kinfolk in Harran and journey west.' Kemuel said, 'There in the land of Canaan nigh to the great sea the living and true God will make of you a great nation.
  243. 6 'Then I added, 'Abram, your name shall be reckoned mighty among men, and henceforth every generation on Earth shall find blessing in you. These are the prophetic words of the Eloah Chokhmah, the name of the Holy One who sent me. What say you to this, Abram, son of Terah?'
  244. 7 'Abram rose to his feet and said to me, simply, 'No.' When I found my voice I said, 'What do you mean no?' I was thrown off my stride. That was not how these things were to go. Did he imagine it was all a big jest? Abram drew near to his father and took him into his arms.
  245. # 'He said, 'My father has grown old and no longer earns enough to buy his food. I do not often agree with Terah, but as I love my own life, I can never turn aside from him for all the days that he lives.' Then Abram stepped outside to ful- fill the purpose of his visit.
  246. # 'Abram gave Terah two living lambs from his own flock, one to kill and eat and the other to sell for a little money to buy other things to suffice until he came once more from the country to visit his father. Then I understood, and I ordered my servants to restow the gold.
  247. 0 'We quietly left the shop, careful not to tread on the fortress of human dignity that Abram asserted with his refusal. Then we departed Harran for Ninevah and thence by stages to the largest city in the world, Ur, but we never found anoth- er man dissatisfied with his idols.'
  248. 1 Michael had no power to open a space-time bridge in Heaven, only Keter or Daat, but the Abram case remained a piece of unfinished busi- ness. Communicating directly with Keter, Chokhmah demanded a link. A bubble grew to envelop Michael and through it Earth could be seen.
  249. 2 Desert heat seeped through the wormhole into the Cherub's throne room. Michael stepped out of the spherical mirage and said, 'Ophan Melchizedek, know that the father of Abram is dead. Now return to the other world and complete the errand your father solemnly laid on you.'
  250. 3 Melchizedek seemed to be frozen in place. Hy glanced at Michael, then at hyz father, and had nothing to say. Michael said to the Ophan, 'Make haste, noble one, and tarry not to take anything that you think you will need on Earth. I will pro- vide them for you myself.'
  251. 4 The Cherub rose from hyz throne. 'Guriel! Iofiel! Come forth!' Two court attendants drew near to Melchiyahu and knelt. Mel- chiyahu said to hyz son, 'These dirks shall accompany you, since Zophiel and Kemuel have attained yanghood and I have released them from service.'
  252. 5 Iofiel means 'Beauty of God'. Guriel means 'Whelp of God'. They followed Melchizedek into the ball of distorted desert light and seemed to shrink as they walked away to- wards Harran. Keter was not willing to mar the stone floor and raised the bubble before snapping it shut.
  253. 6 Melchiyahu approached Michael and dropped before hym on one knee, but Michael bade hym to rise. 'Truly I am in union with the holy one you call Chokhmah. Your daughter has heard me say this. But for my part I call you students, not our servants as Keter would have you be.'
  254. 7 Hearing this Cherub Melchiyahu rose and said, 'Lilith has expressed to me a strong desire to become your leading student, Michael, if you were willing to receive har. I deem that you would return to me a daugh- ter none could gainsay was a fitting princess of this realm.'
  255. # After a long pause Michael re- plied, 'When I used the word Stu- dents in the past I always had in mind all world-dwellers in general. I never thought to establish a for- mal school. Such would demand a far greater commitment than just a few hours away from the castle every day.
  256. # Would you, Ophan Lilith, be willing to part with your father for years? It might be you would never see hym again as a living yang.' 'I am willing to do so Lord Michael, and much more, I would put the Fall- en Angels at your command. But not, let me assure you, as thieves.'
  257. 0 In that moment Michael needed no more persuasion. Hy had found will- ing allies in the ancient dispute with Keter and Daat, and despite hyz frequent assurances that Chokhmah viewed planet-dwellers only as stu- dents, hy saw the utility of having some who were servants as well.
  258. 1 Michael said, 'Sire, let it be as you say. I accept your daughter Ophan Lilith as the first acolyte of what I shall call the B'nei Elohim, the offspring of the gods.' Then hy bowed deeply, a god-yang paying sin- cere tribute to a cherub-king, and the audience was concluded.
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Strangers In Paradise