TC-Roshites2

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CHA: When the days of mourning for the High Priest Lael of the Levites had passed, the Director on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant turned in such manner to point west from the face of the Wall of God. And Lael's third son Rosh said, 'Behold, I am constrained to go thither.'

CHB: And Elam, the chieftain of the Remnant, was compelled to follow his younger brother that he might be true to his word. Yet both he and Jemuel grew wroth with their younger brother by the day for the admonitions of their father that came out of his mouth at regular intervals.

CHC: Their father was dead, may he rest in peace, but here was little Rosh spouting Laelisms as though the old man somehow lived on through his third son. It rankled, yet neither Elam nor Jemuel dared gainsay God, who had made the Director to point to Rosh as the new High Priest.

CHD: Then Elam said to his brother Rosh, 'Behold, the very Ark of God dwells in no tent. Would you have the snow fall upon our most holy relic? Make you, therefore, curtains of fine twined linen. Adorn them with images of sphinxes, and link them with blue rings and gold clasps.'

CHE: Then Rosh and his Benjaminite wife Sela toiled through the night to carry out the commandment of their chieftain Elam, but they could not even fairly begin to fashion the curtains before it was dawn and the Remnant broke fast to prepare for that day's march north and west.

CHF: But the twenty-three people of the Remnant could only travel away from the Wall of God for a single league by reason of the rough terrain and the thick undergrowth of dangerous flora native to Heaven, and the age of Lael's widow Sariah, and the livestock they took with them.

CHG: Rosh recited from memory the White Scroll. 'Grazing your animals in another man's field, or burning his crops, is theft. The going rate for restitution for stolen oxen is five to one, and for sheep is four to one. If a thief cannot make full restitution, he becomes a slave.'

CHH: While Rosh preached Elam and Jemuel grew angry again, but Elam could not order Rosh to be silent since his words were from the mouth of the God of the Remnant and they would have held him to be exceedingly impious. But when they made camp Elam had words of his own for Rosh.

CHI: Elam said to Rosh, 'Make another tent from goats hair, to cover the tent of linen for the Ark of God, but this time the clasps are to be made from brass.' And Rosh persuaded his widowed mother Sariah to aid him and his wife in the mounting tasks, bending brass over a fire.

CHJ: Late into the night did Rosh and Sela and Sariah toil, but the next day when the Remnant resumed their overland march, Rosh again recited the imperatives written in Leliel's white scroll. He said, 'If you see your neighbor's animals running astray, you shall gather them in.'

CHK: He went on to say, 'Magistrates among you shall not accept bribery from the rich, nor shall they favor the poor in their judgments. But if the people are stirred to become a mob when they perceive a judge has made his ruling unfairly, you shall not join them in doing evil.'

CHL: Elam knew it had become a test of wills. When the Remnant ate supper he said to Rosh, 'Yet a third covering for the tent shall be made of ram skins dyed red, and over this you shall lay badgers' skins.' Then Josiah and his son Tobiah left the camp to hunt through the night.

CHM: Zethan the Benjaminite and Asher, son of Jabez, killed four rams from the flocks of the Remnant for their skins, while Zehan's wife Atara prepared herbs to make the red dye, but Elam forbade his wife Serach from helping Atara, and Jemuel too held back his own wife Iscah.

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

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

CHP: And again Elam was annoyed, but now there was a smirk on his face as he contemplated the next series of hoops he would make Rosh jump through, he and any who would follow. That evening he said, 'Now to the woodwork. The boards get silver sockets and bars overlaid with gold.'

CHQ: 'You shall make a veil to divide the tent into two parts. One part shall be just ordinary holy, and the other part very holy. The Ark of God shall be left in the very holy part, but you shall make a table for showbread and candles and place them in the ordinary holy part.'

CHR: And Abner came to the aid of Rosh to cut tenons in the boards for the Tent of Meeting, and to help build the table of gopher wood overlaid with gold, with rings and staves to bear it like the Ark of the Covenant. His wife Tabitha prepared the dinnerware for the showbread.

CHS: Again the people toiled late into the night to aid Rosh as he fulfilled the endless demands of their chieftain to prepare a tent for the Ark of the Covenant worthy of the God they served. On this evening the curtains with gold clasps and images of sphinxes were completed.

CHS: During the next march Rosh said, 'Kidnapping men and women to become slaves shall be punished by death. Maiming a slave shall be cause to set the slave free. If an animal kills a man and it was known to be aggressive in the past both the animal and the owner shall die.'

CHU: Jemuel discerned that Rosh had burned through the hundreds of precepts in the White Scroll, and had turned like a great wheel. Rosh was reciting them all over again. So he set his own mind working on more tasks to set for Rosh as a deterrent to his insufferable preaching.

CHV: When they reached the fringe of Shaula Wood Jemuel in his annoyance gave Rosh instruction to prepare the Tent of Meeting. But Rosh was unmoved. He did not recognize the authority of Jemuel to command the smallest thing. But Elam told him, 'What Jemuel said seems good to me.'

CHW: Therefore Asa's wife Jemima and Josiah's wife Keturah offered up some of the gold that had been given to them from the Nathites. Tobiah's wife Susanna and Jabez' wife Keturah rendered up the onyx stones they received from the Hamari for Rimon to set in the edge of the table.

CHX: Then too Dinah, wife of Rimon, prepared oil for the lamp, and Leah, wife of Asher, made ready pungent spices for the lamp oil and for sweet incense. The whole Remnant, save Elam, Jemuel, and their wives, labored long into the night to complete the tent for the Ark of God.

CHY: In the middle of the clearing between the thirteen tents of the Remnant a fold-door appeared, bending light in the way that made them appear to be a perfect sphere of crystal. Two tall figures were seen within, and they remained even as the fold-door itself ceased to exist.

CHZ: The men of the Remnant had never allowed their vigilance to lapse in the slightest amount since the attack that cost the life of Lael. Jabez and Rimon let fly with arrows, but these were a clean miss. Zethan fired one of his own, and it too missed, but he saw why it was so.

CIA: Zethan's arrow had flown true, but in the instant before it struck the taller of the two strangers it was knocked aside as though by an invisible hand. The less taller stranger, the nephil, said in halting Hebrew, 'Hold! We are come in the name of the God of your fathers!'

CIB: The archers ceased firing and the people gathered more closely around the two strangers. Both were swart like the Adanites, yet one was a nephil, a rarity in the House of Gerash. Che stood a head taller than the Laelites and had no beard. To the women che looked to be a boy.

CIC: The men of the Remnant noted the hips of the nephil were a bit too wide for a young man, and che had small breasts under hez strange raiment. Che looked to them to be a young woman, rather, but with hair cropped short. It was said the nephilim never needed to cut their hair.

CID: The other stranger was a beardless angel who nevertheless appeared to be older than hyz nephil companion, though he might in truth have been a decade younger. 'I am Remiel,' said hy. 'I am come with my kinsjen Gabriel to bear aid to the refugees gathered by Lael of Adjara.'

CIE: 'Lael my father is dead,' answered Rosh, 'yet we have read what he has written in the White Scroll of Leliel, how a servant of God named Gabriel Shybear made the will of God known to him in Adjara to gather a remnant of the fallen kingdom of Judah and travel to this place.'

CIF: 'I am che who met Lael,' said Gabriel, and the people of the Remnant thought it would be impossible to say if hez voice was that of a man or a woman. When Gabriel spoke it was after a lengthy pause, as though che listened to an inner voice and only repeated what che heard.

CIG: 'I am the eldest son of Lael,' said Elam, lest the newcomers think Rosh spoke for them.

'Wheresoever the Ark of God itself would have us go, we do go, yet in all other matters I lead the Remnant.'

'And that is well,' answered Remiel. 'If you would have us depart, so be it.'

CIH: 'But the death of your father Lael is hateful to our God and your God. We have been charged to thwart a force of angels led by Daat himself in the flesh, the seraph Belphegor, who would seize the Tablet of Abraham's Covenant after hyz lackeys have already tried and failed.'

CII: 'God would have willing servants,' said Gabriel, 'not unwilling thralls. But God also knows that in the ninth hour of this very day you will be assailed. Look to the B'nei Elohim as your chieftains for a short time, and we swear the people of the Remnant will be preserved.'

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

CIK: Gabriel was sufficiently pleased with that answer that che broke out into a smile and reached into hez pack for a small leather pouch. Che said, 'In the other world, they call me The Magician.' Che inverted the pouch to show there was nothing inside, then restored it again.

CIL: Then Gabriel reached inside hez little leather pouch and withdrew a small loaf of warm bread. Che split it open and offered it to Remiel, who had seated hymzelf on the ground. Remiel applied a dash of butter to the bread with a knife, and gave it to the first willing hand.

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

CIN: When all the people had eaten Remiel put away the butter and his knife. Hy stood up, and catching the eye of Elam, asked, 'Where is the Ark of the Covenant?' Hyz eye followed the line formed by Elam's outstretched arm to the most beautiful and elaborate tent of the Remnant.

CIP: Remiel and Gabriel saw it was twice as large as any of the other tents of the people, with curtains of fine linen overlaid with multicolored animal pelts, walls of fine wood with many gold and brass accoutrements, and even a jewel-adorned wooden table set up at the entrance.

CIQ: Gabriel said, 'God did not command you to make such a tent for the Ark, nor did such even enter his thoughts.' 'Do we in truth serve the same God?' Elam asked hem. 'The God of our fathers is a holy God. What is more holy than the tablet made by the very hand of our God?' CIR: 'Yes, our God is holy. Holy means entirely other. Our God is a living God, yet his life is wholly different than our life. Do you think God has forgotten this, and you must remind him with an elaborate tent for what is little more than a document commemorating a covenant?'

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

CIT: 'And that tent became a temple of stone after time, which raised the Tablet by degrees into itself a kind of god. Daat, too, thinks this way, and when Belphegor comes to this camp looking for the Ark you will have made hyz problem much smaller to keep it inside such a tent.'

CIU: 'Hide the Ark, then, in one of your own tents, that Belphegor must search each one in turn, and that under fire.' Elam knew he must comply or be held faithless. He said to his brother Rosh, 'Move the Ark and the table to my own tent, and my goods to the Tent of Meeting.'

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

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

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

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

CIZ: Elam made a noise of derision. 'We slew seven Brown Beards on the face of the Wall of God, and that without any warning of their attack.' 'It was a valiant deed, but you lost your father in that fight. God has laid upon me that not one man or woman of you more should die.'

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

CJB: 'When last enemies came seeking the Ark,' said Jemuel, 'they learned we have archers among the Remnant,' said Jemuel. 'These yeng and the horses they ride are well protected from your darts,' replied Gabriel. Can your archers hit the open face of a foe at full gallop?'

CJC When Jemuel could not answer, an arrow flew from the quiver of Zethan to Remiel's hand. Hy said, 'God did not send the B'nei Elohim merely to pull forty loaves from a small pouch. There is no cause for despair, but tell me, how many bows are found among the whole Remnant?'

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

CJE: 'This will not be a problem,' said Remiel, yet hyz face said otherwise. 'The important thing is to get your darts in the air and flying toward the enemy, and I will take it from there. Give the two bows that are less good, therefore, to men of you who bear only swords.'

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

CJG: 'Do not be afraid,' said Gabriel. 'Bring to me every arrow possessed by the men of the Remnant.' Then Gabriel reached into hez little leather bag, with a different hand this time, and withdrew another small loaf of bread, as warm as the others had been, for Tobiah to eat.

CJH: What che did was considered to be supernatural magic by the men of Haaretz, but Gabriel knew the secret of it. Che knew it was entirely natural, as all things must needs be. The bag was only to conceal the way hez hand seemed to disappear, which could disturb some watchers.

CJI: Jabez returned to Gabriel with a bundle of arrows. 'We have sixteen, no more,' he said, 'some are good, and some are hardly fit to be used. Our hope when we reached this forest was to make more, but now you say there is no time.' Gabriel received the arrows to inspect them.

CJJ: Remiel looked over hez shoulder to help examine them. 'Get rid of the ones with black feathers at a minimum, Cousin Gabe. I can't do much with those.' Gabriel replied, 'I don't like this pair either, Cousin Remy.' Discarding all those, che had but eleven acceptable arrows.'

CJK: Then Gabriel put the bundle of eleven arrows into hez little pouch of skin, which seemed far too small to accept them, to the wonder of the same men who had recently eaten their fill of bread from the same pouch. Che reached in with another hand and pulled them out again.

CJL: This che did again two more times, until he had three identical bundles of eleven arrows each, which che gave to Jabez. And Gabriel said to him, 'Who are the three other men among you skilled with the bow?' Zethan, Rimon, and Asher came forward and were similarly equipped.

CJM: Then Gabriel said to Elam, 'As the chieftain of these men you must choose which two shall lay aside their swords and take up the bow instead for the fight that will soon overtake you.' Elam named his brothers Rosh and Jemuel. Gabriel gave them the three and thirty arrows.

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

CJO: Rosh asked, 'What then shall be your signal to fight?' 'Three blasts of my horn,' said Gabriel. You must all be waiting inside your tents before the ninth hour.' Young Asher's hand reached out to squeeze the black rubber bulb of Gabriel's horn, but che said, 'Don't.'

CJP: 'I for one will not skulk inside my tent,' said Elam. 'I will meet these horseyeng on my feet with a sword in my hand.' 'That is well,' said Remiel. 'Both Gabriel and myself shall stand with you. Belphegor is one of the Holy Ones and custom demands a suitable reception.'

CJQ: So Elam and Gabriel and Remiel stood as the third hour past noon arrived. The warriors riding with Belphegor arrived at the camp of the Remnant even as Chokhmah had foreseen, with both yeng and beast arrayed for battle under heavy layers of black leather and polished brass.

CJR: Belphegor was at once heartened that only three withstood hym, but also dismayed that hy could not see the Ark of the Covenant sitting upon the pillars of stone as it was when hy saw it last under the eaves of the Wall of God. One of the three, a nephil, hailed hym by name.

CJS: Gabriel went on to say, 'I regret we must receive you with caution, not the adoration that is due to one of the Holy Ones, but you come against these refugees girded for war. After the death of their high priest Chokhmah placed them under the protection of the B'nei Elohim.'

CJT: 'I am not come against this rabble,' Belphegor said, 'only the relic they carry about with them.'

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

CJU: 'Nevertheless,' replied Belphegor, 'I will take the relics, and whether these people live depends entirely on how difficult they make it for me.'

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

CJV: Belphegor replied with a furious shout and the pikes hy and hyz yeng bore, each twice the height of even the tallest yang, went from the vertical to the horizontal and were braced against fittings on their saddles to distribute the impact. They charged the Tent of Meeting.

CJW: Elam, Gabriel, and Remiel dove out of the way as four of the pikes caught the coverings of the tent and lifted them away to reveal that nothing was inside. Gabriel sounded hez horn in the call for the men of the Remnant to emerge from their own tents and answer the assault.

CJX: Eisheth from Zuben Well tried to ram the sharpened point of hyz pike into Elam's midsection but Remiel made the tip to bend until it snapped off into a blunt splintered end. Elam was only knocked to the ground, and Eisheth was left holding a long cane of little heft or use.

CJY: Then Eisheth cast away the ruined pike and drew hyz blade to engage Gabriel, striking down at hem from horseback. Belphegor and Malphas rode forward and used their pikes to uncover the Tent of Meeting by casting away the curtain and skins, but the Ark of God was not seen.

CJZ: Zethan, Rimon, and Asher fired their arrows simultaneously. With hyz talent as a B'nei Elohim, and standing well away from them, Remiel took one of the arrows, it didn't matter which, and accelerated it into the face of a yang from Toturo named Morax. Hy fell from hyz horse.

CKA: Zagan came to the aid of Eisheth, raising hyz pike to skewer Gabriel, as hy deemed the nephil to be the true leader of the humans. But hy took an arrow under hyz raised arm from Jabez and was unhorsed. Josiah drew his blade across Zagan's neck under hyz chin and hy bled out.

CKB: Many stones were in the air striking the protected flanks of the horses and yeng, but one thrown by Abner was guided by Remiel into the eye of the steed ridden by Onoskelis. In pain the horse collided with Eisheth's mount and both yeng were whisked unwilling from the field.

CKC: Jemuel's tent was overturned in another failed attempt to find the Ark. There were eleven remaining and the nest of hornets was quite furious now. Belphegor still had no inkling that Remiel was guiding projectiles at hym with a tiny fold-door temporarily under hyz control.

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

CKE: Belphegor guessed the Laelites must have hidden the Ark in their most homely tent in a clever play of operational deception. Hy and Malphas assailed Asher's tent with their pikes but again came up with nothing. The air in the clearing grew thicker with arrows and stones.

CKF: A rock hurled by Tobiah was guided by Remiel into the face of Danjal, a mercenary from Eniph, striking with enough force to make him unconscious. Hy fell off hyz mount at the feet of Josiah, who let out hyz life's blood. With three dead and two missing Belphegor had enough.

CKG: The thong of a stickywhip curled around the legs of Elam, the human Belphegor had seen standing outside the Tent of Meeting with the B'nei Elohim. The whip adhered to itself and Elam was dragged behind Belphegor's horse as his tormentor bent the handle around hyz saddlehorn.

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

CKI: Gabriel sounded hez horn to capture their attention and shouted, 'Hold! You'll never catch them and we must protect the Ark of God!' The Laelites realized che was right and broke off their chase. Remiel ordered the men to remove the covers of Elam's tent from the holy relic.

CKJ: Gabriel said to them, 'Your enemy has sought cover in Shaula Wood. Your arrows will be of little use in there. I counsel that your archers bear the Ark north and west into the Wood on the track of your women and animals. God himself will show you the way with the Director.'

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

CKL: 'But what of my brother Elam?' asked Rosh. 'Belphegor will not kill him right away,' Gabriel replied. 'though Elam might, perhaps, come to wish he would. But we will remedy that shortly. Belphegor is greatly mistaken if hy thinks hy can beat anything useful out of Elam.'

CKM: Then Gabriel and Remiel led the Remnant through Shaula Wood, forming a fence of men lest Belphegor's force doubled back to assail the Laelites carrying the Ark. Rosh stated his fear they would go astray in the thick forest and find they had somehow overshot Belphegor's yeng.

CKN: Gabriel replied, 'Your God and mine has charged both myself and Remiel that not another man or woman gathered by Lael should die at the hands of Belphegor, nor to die at the hands of one of hyz thralls. And have you not seen the hand of God in all that has happened today?'

CKO: 'Orobas, Surgat and Ukobach are all in place, Lord Belphegor,' Malphas told hym after having seen to their disposition hymself. 'They will raise the alarm at the first sign of the humans.'

'And Onoskelis and Eisheth? Have they returned?'

Malphas replied in the negative.'

CKP: 'If you encounter those two yeng again, Malphas, I trust they will meet an interesting end?'

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

CKQ: Belphegor turned hyz attention to the interesting thing hy had going on hymself. Elam was suspended from a tree, with the frayed ends of two ropes twisted around the base of his thumbs. There was no hope of slipping out, as his thumbs had become two bloated purple bulbs.

CKR: Elam had never felt agony remotely like it before. His back and legs were lashed to a straight log, and this log and all his body weight was suspended by two slender points. He already told Belphegor the Ark was in his tent, and had described his tent to the finest detail.

CKS: Belphegor said, 'That is no help to me. Your brothers must have moved the Ark by now. I need to know where it is going so I can arrange a suitable greeting' Elam desperately tried to explain how there was no telling where the Ark went but he couldn't put the words together.

CKT: Belphegor raised an eyebrow. 'You are a strong man, Elam, but your suffering must be at the limit of your endurance. I assure you this torment can be pushed far beyond your endurance, yet endure it you must.' Hy displayed a stone carried in something like a cradle of rope.

CKU: The stone seemed to focus the mind of Elam. He said, 'There's an image on the Ark...it turns of itself...God steers the Ark...'

Belphegor thought about that. Yes, Chokhmah might have done such a thing to protect the tablet. Good, it took at least four Laelites out of play.'

CKV: It was time to bring things to a head, Belphegor thought. Hy draped the stone and its net of rope around a stubby branch on the log strapped to Elam's back and the added weight pulled one of the man's thumbs out of its socket, then another. Elam began to scream continuously.

CKW: Elam's screams steered the men of the Remnant through Shaula Wood to the place where he was being tormented and they ran into Belphegor's picket of yeng. Their shouts of warning went unheard by reason of the noise made by Elam. Remiel used hyz talent to shred their cloaks.

CKX: A wad of cloak wound up in Ukobach's mouth. Surgat and Orobas found sections of their cloaks wrapping around their heads to both make them blind and stifle any further cries. This was utterly beyond their experience and effectively sliced the three of them from the fight.

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

CKZ: Gabriel left Abner, Asa, Josiah and Tobiah to bind the three yeng under guard and take them west toward their camp. Only Rosh and Jemuel remained with Gabriel and Remiel to advance on their enemy. Elam's every anguished scream weighed heavily on the heart of his brothers.

CLA: They were all relieved to find only Belphegor and Malphas with Elam. Even Gabriel expected two more. Cut the man down!' hy said in the old Semitic little changed in Heaven which men from Earth understood no longer. Belphegor hefted hyz blade and replied, 'As you wish.'

CLB: Rosh saw that Belphegor was about to pierce Elam rather than cut him free, so he loosed an arrow at hyz back, center of mass. The range was so short he could not avoid striking a vital organ, but this didn't suit Remiel, who bent the arrow higher, toward a shoulder blade.

CLC: Belphegor was not mortally wounded but in hyz shock and pain hy released hyz blade and fell to the forest floor. Malphas moved closer to hyz lord, shifting the line of hyz own blade between Gabriel and Remiel. Hy said, 'Servants of Chokhmah and Binah you name yourself.'

CLD: Malphas went on to say something about the B'nei Elohim hiding behind the humans they claimed they had come to protect, the usual garbage to make either Gabriel or Remiel angry enough to fight. Gabriel wasn't having any and frankly che could barely hear hym over the screams.

CLE: Gabriel could feel Remiel's power tugging on his sword, so it was just a matter of letting go and watching it bury itself into the chest of Malphas with no fanfare. Belphegor saw it. 'Disappointed?' Gabriel asked. 'The point is to get Elam down from that tree, not jerk off.'

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

CLG: Remiel knelt over Belphegor and held the arrow where it entered hyz back rock-steady with hyz talent while he bent the shaft with hyz hand. Belphegor was not suffering pain from the wound anymore. Hy shared the same internal remedy for unnecessary pain as any B'nei Elohim.

CLH: Remiel and Gabriel gently rolled Belphegor until hy was face up, then helped hym to sit up. 'Forgive the touch, Lord Belphegor,' said Gabriel. 'It pains B'nei Elohim to see a seraph in such straits, no matter what unfortunate disagreements might exist between we and you.'

CLI: Remiel dropped to hyz knees to put hyz eyes on something of a level with those of Belphegor. Hy said, 'Your mistake, if you will forgive the presumption, Lord, is that you do not think Chokhmah to be warlike. But the B'nei Elohim are Chokhmah's answer to the Eyes of Keter.'

CLJ: When Elam was free of his bonds he gave a shout of rage and pawed at the blade sticking out of the corpse of Malphas with useless hands. 'I'll kill hym! Look what hy did to me!'

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

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

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

CLL: Rosh paused as he weighed his obligations for a time, then threw down his bow and sank to hyz knees before the seated Belphegor even as Gabriel and Remiel had done. Disgusted, Elam turned to Jemuel and said, 'Brother, as you love me, kill this angel who put me to torment.'

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

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

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

CLO: Elam hissed 'Do it!' Jemuel moved toward the captive with his blade arched to decapitate hym. And Remiel, without touching the man, twisted the blade out of his hand and hurled it out of reach.

'We have no power of our own but that which is given by God,' Remiel told him.'

CLP: 'Now you are disarmed by that same power, Jemuel. Do you hold yourself answered that killing the Lord Belphegor is not the will of our God?' And neither Jemuel nor Elam made reply, but they kept their place, as Gabriel and Remiel were still armed and stood fast against them.

CLQ: Gabriel was angered almost beyond speech. Che said, 'I thought to leave Lord Belphegor in your keeping, to be treated well until such time when hy could leave of hyz own power, but I see the faithfulness of Lael was not passed to his sons. We will take the Lord ourselves.

CLR: 'A curse lies upon you, Jemuel, for you would do a thing to make the name of our God a reproach among elohim and angels and nephilim and men. On the shoulder of Mount Naratha the sword of your foes shall go through the camp, and you shall be cut down in the flower of youth.

CLS: 'And you shall remember this doom, and beg Elam to steer the Remnant far from Mount Naratha where the Ark wills not to go, but pestilence and famine and the threat of enemies shall drive the people thither, where you shall perish before your sons take wives to themselves.

CLT: 'Also a curse lies on you, Elam, for you ordered your wounded captive be slain out of hand, which thing is hateful to God, whether the captive be a seraph or one of the ishim. You crave to lead the Remnant, yet you shall be driven into Eliath Wood to wander for a generation.

CLU: 'There you shall yearn to be free yet your enemies shall hem you in, and you shall die never seeing the sons of your sons, and the third son of Lael shall lead the Remnant to a land which is choice above all other lands in Haaretz, and the people shall be known by his name.'

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

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Strangers In Paradise