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  • KNOT

Even as Keter and Daat aided Chokhmah to establish a covenant people on Earth they were implacably opposed to her doing the same thing in heaven. This new interloper named Michael had made Salem and the nearby lands a lost cause but troops were sent to contain the plague.

Princess Lilith and her Fallen Angels had proven remarkably efficient at shielding Michael from being abducted or killed but as a consequence Salem had effectively been sliced out of intercourse with the rest of the middle lands. Michael wished to bring things to a head.

Lilith and Michael had flown in the avatar of Chokhmah to Anshar many times but never before to the city of Adan where Keter ruled the house of Gerash directly through his own avatar seated on the throne. Princess Lilith was known to many, but by law sha could not speak.

Nevertheless by an awkward and complicated arrangement involving one of the wives of Lord Zadkiel who then spoke to hym in private, that ophan was made aware that Princess Lilith came in the company of one Michael, the prophet who had been giving Keter such grief of late.

So after much effort Michael managed to get hymself arrested after all. Lord Zadkiel suggested there be a public tribunal to allow Michael to in- criminate hymself by hyz own words so there would be no doubt among the people that Michael blasphemed the god of House Gerash.

Michael said, "Let there be such a tribunal, but Princess Lilith must speak in my defense."

To this the ophan Zadkiel said, "That is impossible. It is the eternal law of Keter that no yin may speak in public, nor to any except her close kin. Choose from among the yeng."

"Nevertheless, Her Royal Highness will represent me at the tribunal, or I will speak no words."

Michael was shown yeng suffering the most refined torments Keter could de- vise, but none made hym blench. So the law forbidding Lilith to speak on hyz behalf was set aside.

In a sick parallel to the Sunset Discourse, the tribunal took place in a gladiatorial arena. The charge was insurrection. Specifically, Michael was accused of inciting infidelity to Keter. As in any theocracy, to sin against God is exactly equivalent to breaking the law.

As the tribunal wore on Zadkiel attempted to trip Michael with riddle- words, but hy was dealing with an advanced composite being, both eloah and angel, and Michael had a suitable answer at every turn. It was a back-chan- nel way to bring hyz teachings to the people of Adan.

Even prior to hyz union with Chokhmah Michael could have handled Zadkiel, who was too stupid to realize hy was being soundly beaten by rhetoric. But Michael knew it would not matter in the end. The outcome of the tribunal was fixed. The sole purpose was to discredit hym.

Zadkiel turned to the words of the famous Sunset Discourse in Salem which had been preserved in a growing set of literature called the Sayings of Michael. Hy brought up a thing even King Melchiyahu pondered. "Interesting that you always say 'Sha who embraces Chokhmah.' Do you imply that only yen can be your disciples, and no yang can ever be?"

Michael said, "By these things a yin excludes harself as my follower: Sha grows annoyed at things sha cannot help, and so is perpetually angry. Con- troversies that divide the people attract har. Sha is caught up in every fad and does not affirm har own uniqueness. Such a yin does not truly em- brace Chokhmah. But any yang who does not do these things is on the path to becoming one of Chokhmah's followers, though hy may not even know that to be the case."

Zadkiel said, "And yet, contrary to the Code of Keter you employ yen, your so-called Fallen Angels, which many say is really a female army. Such an absurdity has never existed in the history of heaven."

"The Fallen Angels only scatter the wealth and gather the people."

"So you espouse income redistribution?"

Michael replied, "I espouse giving yen work that draws them together in service of their sisters. Have no fear, there is no overlap with the work of yeng."

"Their sisters! And just where do yeng fit into your schemes, Michael?"

Michael said, "Just as the angels were called out of humanity to have a closer relationship with the elohim, Chokhmah has called yen out of the angels that they may unite and nourish one another."

"The implications are considered unnatural by all our ancient traditions."

"It is natural to stink, Lord Zadkiel, yet none suggest falling back on the tradition of neglecting personal hygiene. To yen who follow Chokhmah the word 'unnatural' simply means 'not on the level of animals.'"

Zadkiel ran out of arguments and waved for Lilith to cross.

As usual, when Lilith began to speak there was a stir from the onlookers at the scandal of hearing a yin's voice in public, but as the tribunal wore on the novelty wore off. Her line of defense touched on the fact that the so- called Code of Keter was of recent vintage.

After spitting Zadkiel's own words back at hym from when hy first began to preach in Salem Lilith argued that the Code of Keter had become known only after Michael's ministry had taken root at Salem, and might even have been introduced purely in reaction to hyz teachings.

"At no time in our history have we condemned anyone for committing actions that were made illegal after the offense," sha said. "Such a thing has al- ways been anathema to our concept of justice."

Zadkiel shot a glance at the High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel, who presided.

As he had done throughout the tribunal, whenever Lilith got any traction and Zadkiel needed a lifeline, Kirodiel ordered har to end har line of questioning and use a different one.

Lilith swallowed har frustration and said, "There is still the question of jurisdiction. The Code of Keter is the law of this city, but Michael is a subject of my father the king of Salem, where hyz will alone holds sway. King Melchiyahu has already found this yang to be innocent of any wrongdo- ing."

Once more Zadkiel signaled Kirodiel for help.

The High Lord Patriarch instructed Princess Lilith to move on to har next objection. Sha was being worn down but Michael took it with equanimity. Hy knew the outcome was predetermined. More important was that the angels in the gallery saw the injustice of the whole farce.

Lilith had one more card to play. "Michael, despite all the evidence we have heard for the charge of impiety toward Keter you still maintain your innocence. How can this be?"

Hy said, "Most yen in Adan are faced with a stark choice: Remain with their husband or starve."

"In the same way, it cannot be a powerful decision to worship Keter any- where in the middle lands, because the alternative is a mock trial and exe- cution."

"So you contend that piety compelled by law is false?"

"Any such 'piety' is as phony as the love of most marriages."

"How much more vital is the love of two angels who are utterly free to stay or part, yet who still choose to stay together!"

"That sound risky."

"Does it? It is the risk of losing things, even our lives, that makes them dear."

Lilith nodded to Zadkiel. "Your witness."

In cross-examination Zadkiel said, "So your claim is that living dangerous- ly is the missing ingredient in Adanite marriages?"

Michael said, "The fear of losing a thing is what lends excitement and sig- nificance to that thing, from a marriage bond to our very lives. Keter once told Chokhmah that to take fate into one's own hands was to rise beyond good and evil. In truth, a rock and a tree are beyond good and evil, and so is every angel who will not, or is not permitted, to make a free choice. Ethics simply does not apply to them."

"So you deny that the Lord Keter has the authority to decree what is right and wrong in our world?"

Michael replied, "Not that Keter or any other power ought to legislate mor- ality, but that they literally cannot do so. It's logically absurd, like a four-sided triangle."

In that moment Zadkiel was certain hy had sprung hyz trap and told Kirodiel the state rested. Lilith, too, thought that Michael had finished on a high note and said the defense also rested. Kirodiel did not even make a pre- tense of deliberating. "Judgment for the State."

No one was surprised except Princess Lilith, who was allowed to pay one final visit to har client in the dungeons beneath the Temple of Keter be- fore the sentence was to be carried out. The first of their last few mo- ments was spent in an awkward embrace though iron bars.

Lilith glanced around the dungeon, assuring harself that their privilege of private counsel, no matter how brief, was still inviolate. Sha said, "Guilty! A sentence of death! What's your plan now?"

"There is no plan." Michael reached through the bars to touch har face.

"I watched you send my brother and his two squires to the other world," Lilith objected. "Could you not summon another such bubble and take your- self out of harm's way?"

"Only Keter and Daat can open a fold-door in heaven. Here I can only manage holding one thin line.They've been planning this tribunal for a long time. It all stinks of Keter moving behind the scenes. He wants something big from me but he's taking his time laying it all out in the open. He has another, much easier way to communicate with me but he refuses to use it."

"Then in the absence of your plan I say we go forward with my plan."

Michael narrowed hyz eyes. Hy said, "Lilith, don't do anything stupid. Bet- ter yet, don't do anything at all."

They were interrupted by Lilith's escorting guard, a kind but unswervingly loyal yang.

Hy said, "I'm sorry, that's all the time I am permitted to give you with the condemned." Then hy gestured for har to leave the chamber, unwilling to touch a princess unless sha made things difficult.

Michael called out after har. "Lilith! Just drop it, do you hear me?"

Michael's next visitor was Lord Zadkiel, who moved very close to Michael's iron cell to look directly into hyz eyes. After studying hym quietly for a time hy said, "Keter sends his regards, Chokhmah."

Michael smiled. "I made no secret of the union, and you denied it."

"The Lord Keter knows that you put on something of a conjuring act just before he opened fold-door in Salem to whisk Melchizedek away. Only Chokh- mah could have timed things so.

"How wonderful," said Michael. "Now that you and your Lord have come to belief, what next?"

"Certain actions and non-actions will be required of you," said Zadkiel. "And you have no choice but to comply."

"Keter knows well I can choose to end my life at any time. No threat of death or torment can compel me to do his bidding, let alone the whim of his slave."

Zadkiel smiled and said, "Oh, a martyr is the last thing we want, Chokhmah. Unfortunately, Princess Lilith has har mind quite made up. Do you really think the Eyes of Keter are not aware of the preparations sha has made to rescue you?"

"What does sha have in mind?"

Zadkiel said, "You will be amazed when you see it unroll, Chokhmah. Fallen Angel sleeper cells! Guards taken out with a head twist. Secret disguises, body doubles, and safe houses from here to the edge of the city! But as you've probably surmised before now, it's a trap."

"That way we catch Lilith red-handed, scoop up key Fallen Angels, and crush your whole movement over the span of a single night. Then this glassblow- er's son's body will be broken and braided on the hub of a windmill with no one left to rally around the spinning corpse."

"I think you are grossly underestimating Lilith and har Fallen Angels if you think it will be that easy to roll them up."

"You may be immune to pain, Chokhmah, but of a certainty Lilith is not, and neither are har co-conspirators. But Lord Keter has a far better idea. If you agree to Lord Keter's demands, your sentence of death will be set aside. Princess Lilith and her friends will have no reason to carry out their suicide pact. Instead, we shall parade you captive in a cage through every city, town, and village from here to Salem."

Michael, knowing that it would have precisely the opposite effect, said, "That would discredit everything that I have taught. I'll let myself die the moment you display me in a cage."

"Michael, you must not refuse, because the alternative is Lilith, remember? Har plan?"

Michael sighed, and made a show of hanging hyz head in defeat. "What are Keter's demands?"

"One, you shall not allow yourself to die until the people of Salem have seen the humiliation of their so-called prophet, the daughter of Keter, dressed up in the body of a yang."

"That will require some backtracking on your part, Zadkiel. Or have you forgotten your own preaching to the effect that Chokhmah is the ungrateful son of Keter and Daat, impatient to come into his inheritance?"

Zadkiel curled hyz lips. "The people have short memories."

"So I must not perform an End of Cycle," Michael said. "Is that all that your lord Keter requires of me?"

"No, you must share with him the secret of merging with a yang as a living avatar, as you have done."

Then Michael understood at last the purpose of the tribunal.

Hy said, "I can teach Keter how to achieve the union, but you should remind him to use a light touch. The temptation will be to take full possession of the world-dweller, but that will only backfire when his entire psyche be- comes that of a yang. He risks dissolution."

"Let the Lord Keter judge if that is true."

"As you wish, Zadkiel. As soon as mother and father have sent Princess Li- lith safely home to Salem by fold-door I will conform to these demands."

Hy chuckled. "Chokhmah, you are in no position to make demands of your own."

"Very well, Zadkiel, I will now shed this container of meat, and after that I will let Keter know how close he came to learning the trick of having one of his very own before you and your incompetence boofed it."

"Hold! I will bring your request before the Lord himself."

One of the farmers who lived nigh to Salem drove to the lines of the Eyes of Keter ringing the city. The farmer and three sturdy dirks in hyz employ removed a box from their wagon and bore it toward the city gate using two staves threaded through brass rings on the box.

One of the Eyes grows suspicious and barks at the yeng carrying the box, "What yang of you be the loadmaster?"

The three dirks let fall the box and edge fearfully away from the oldest yang, who says in reply, "This shipment be mine, milord. I am Sibiel of Odargas."

"Dost thou makest vouchesafement for the goods thou bearest?"

"I do, milord."

"Yet I would see therein." Crestfallen, Sibiel ordered the dirks to open the box. Princess Lilith tumbled out, dazed by the sudden light. The three dirks feigned outrage at the sight of har.

The Eye of Keter said, "Stand ye apart from Sibiel, if ye value your lives, for contrary to the will of Keter hy bearest aid to the fugitive daughter of King Melchiyahu to enter Salem."

But Lilith was not cowed by the pretensions of this uncouth lackey of Lord Zadkiel. Sha cried out in a loud voice, "May Chokhmah send down fire to smite thee all all thy companions!" At first the farmers from Odargas thought the princess was joking, but only a few heartbeats after sha spoke, brilliant orange bolts of fire shot down from the clear sky.

So bright and hot was this fire that Sibiel and the dirks thought their eyebrows had been burnt off. The immolation left only smoking grease spots where twelve Eyes of Keter stood an instant before. None remained to hinder Lilith from proceeding to the gates of Salem.

When Samael, the living avatar of Keter, learned what happened to the Eyes hy knew the attack was direct interference from Chokhmah, the first such meddling that hyz daughter had dared to do in heaven. Samael spoke to hyz prophet Zadkiel of two dilemmas confronting hym. "The people must not come to believe this yang Michael is in union with an eloah. Otherwise my con- troversy with hym will lead angels to hold the eloah Chokhmah in contempt. That is the natural impulse of world-dwellers when dealing with enemies among your own order. Also I have encouraged the people in their belief that yen are unwarlike, and to be treated as mere property. Princess Lilith and har so-called Fallen Angels, who are without peer in heaven, contra- dict this tradition every day. This cannot be permitted to continue. Yet when it comes down to it, who is really worthy to confront them?"

Zadkiel snorted in derision and said, "Surely my Lord makes a ridiculous joke."

Samael continued to explain things to Zadkiel as though hyz prophet had not made hyz ill-informed interruption at all. "Lilith has exactly one weak- ness, and that is Michael hymself. So I am willing to tolerate the human incarnation of an eloah being caged like a beast, because I assure you that is the only thing staying the annihilation of your expeditionary force by the Fallen Angels. When you put the city under seige you must keep Michael in full view of Princess Lilith at all times, with pikeyeng ready to run hym through at the slightest provocation from har Fallen Angels or the forces of Melchiyahu. Your victory will hang upon that slender thread."

At a beautiful cataract in the mountains east of Salem, Princess Lilith and a squad of har Fallen Angels refreshed themselves. Afterwards they resumed their usual mode of riding slowly on their horses while patrolling the land approaches to the city for intruders. The waterfall completely blanked out the sound and vibration of onrushing hooves until it was nearly too late. Not even Lilith's hypersensitive mare gave warning. Undetected, Adanite horseyeng raced up behind Lilith, har chief lieutenant Hashmal Imriel, and the other yen. At the last instant Lilith's sword was unlimbered only to crash against a mighty iron rod. There were sparks and Lilith was knocked clean off har horse. Still stunned, Lilith witnessed another horseyang decapitating Imriel with a single stroke and choked back har grief.

Her horse possessed the intelligence to linger with Lilith rather than follow her equine instinct, which was to bolt. Shaking har head clear, Lilith mounted up again. Poor Imriel was dead but four of the Fallen Angels survived the assault and they rallied around har.

Lumbering after them at a full gallop, Lilith and har companions loose many arrows and fell the one wielding the iron staff. Two other weaving hor- seyeng are slain taking arrows fired at the one who killed Imriel. Hy has a swift horse and far too much of a head start. Hy dove into the safety of a vast forest glade guarded by a large armed encampment. Contrary to har every wish Lilith reared back and brought har horse to a stop. The other Fallen Angels conformed to har movements as the soldier they had chased turned to face them.

Seeing at last the face of the yang who killed Imriel, the princess mouthed hyz name with all the bile she could summon: "Zadkiel!" Yet every indication Lilith had gathered from the path of burning villages told her Zadkiel was yet twelve to fifteen leagues to the west. Sha guessed that Zadkiel must have dragged hyz army here by forced march overnight. But that led har to marvel how hy knew to come to just this place. "Keter," Lilith muttered, answering har own unspoken question. As though in answer, Demon- stoke soared over the trees.

Lilith was shocked to see the first and now last dragon in heaven had been brought to this fight, but he orbited far overhead and made no move to at- tack. Then sha understood Demonstoke was brandished only as insurance against any more interference from Chokhmah's avatar.

Lilith signaled for the Fallen Angels to gather close around har. Sha said, "Zadkiel will pay for Imriel, life for life. You needn't follow me." Sha gestured to the back of har head. "Chokhmah said my death will not be my death, but she has made no such promise to you."

But the Fallen Angels were of a single mind. One of them answered for all and said, "Lead us, Your Royal Highness. For Imriel!"

So heedless of the danger Lilith turned har horse to face the enemy. Sha sped forward to attack Zadkiel directly, and not one yen held back.

Zadkiel ordered the canvas covering Michael's cage to be removed, revealing hym just as Lilith entered the range of the enemy's darts. Sha brought har horse to a halt once more. Hy said, "You can kill me from where you stand, Lilith, but Michael would join me in death."

Lilith stared at Zadkiel with narrowing eyes and rides a bit closer. Mov- ing in a well-practiced dance, Keter's best pikeyeng, arranged in a ring around Michael's cage, bring their forest of spikes to the horizontal, yet not toward Lilith, but inward, toward Michael.

"Don't sink to this, Zadkiel," sha called out. "I expect as much from Sa- mael but it is not worthy of an unpossessed Gerash nobleyang." Lilith was shocked how effectively the use of Michael as a living shield curtailed har actions.

Zadkiel seemed to read har thoughts. "Michael has become a noose around your neck, and the closer you try get to hym the tighter that noose will become. How easy it is to make you dance with a simple threat to Michael's life!"

"Did you not know that is the only thing I could never do?" Then Lilith's eyes became moist as she silently shook har head with a tragic smile. But there was nothing more sha could do on the field. Spurring har horse, sha turned and led har Fallen Angels back to the city.

On the eve of the first battle of Salem Princess Lilith joined har father King Melchiyahu to tally the campfires of the Adanite forces arrayed against them. When they were finished sha asked, "My father and king, how did you survive the countless battles you have fought? It is known that you never lead your forces from safe headquarters in the rear, but share the risk and the hardships of the front."

Melchiyahu replied, "A cowardly commander puts a premium on hyz personal survival, Lilith. This endangers hyz army, and ultimately hymself. When I advance on the battlefield I have already reconciled myself with death. I go into every battle, no matter how great or small, as though I were cer- tainly doomed to die. This leaves my mind clear to concentrate on fighting well. Gaining the victory, I keep my life. Gaining victory, furthermore, I preserve the city and save the life of the people."

During the battle the King's forces, which were a larger body than the Fallen Angels, took the role of the primary force. Lilith's yen were the skirmishers, the saboteurs, the assassins.

On a grander scale, it was King Melchiyahu and his ordinary force that gained the victory, but Zadkiel's yeng remembered only the leather-clad yen who had somehow gotten behind their lines, throwing knives, cutting throats, driving off horses and setting fire to wagons. And Keter, watching through the eyes of the dragon Demonstoke flying high over the field, wit- nessed the defeat of Zadkiel. He discounted his numerical losses and or- dered more yeng to march west from Adan. They moved toward Salem like buckets of water in a fire brigade.

In the second battle for Salem the enemy massed on the king's left, north of the city, and Melchiyahu marched to meet them. There Princess Lilith, asked, "My father and liege-lord, why have you camped your army on this plain, and let Zadkiel attack from the high ground?"

"Ah, but daughter," said hy, "the heights would only be valuable to the enemy if we were the attacker. In that case we would tire ourselves fight- ing uphill and possibly be surprised by hidden forces waiting to ambush our troops. Instead, my army is deployed like water."

"How is that an advantage to us, father?"

"Is not water itself vital if people are to live?" hy answered. "Does not everyone seek it out in wells and rivers and even swamps? By our mere presence on this plain leading to the city Zadkiel will begin to covet the plain."

"But father, we are ringed by hills on three sides. When Zadkiel attacks, we will not know from which direction hy will come!"

"But I have the interior lines. I can reinforce at the point of contact in moments, while anywhere I choose to counterattack he will be weak. And daughter, behold: the hills hy occupies are covered by trees. Hy cannot communicate with hyz own force with signal companies using flags, only with individual messengers that must run around the horseshoe. Lilith, our enemy is a fool and his defeat here is assured."

Hyz boast would have held true against any other foe in heaven, but Zadkiel spent the lives of yeng on the plain of Galcha without remorse until the Adanite horde was on the brink of mutiny. Melchiyahu and Lilith withdrew closer to Salem and the enemy did not pursue.

After they reckoned their own losses Lilith asked, almost in despair, "Fa- ther, why do yeng love combat so much?"

"Because while a dirk is growing hy is filling out hyz potential," said King Melchiyahu. "As long as hy has not yet exceeded hyz limits, hy remains a child."

"For yen, maturity is attained in a very practical and natural way," re- plied Lilith. "Motherhood. Maturity means acknowledging your limits and returning to your root. And it is a yin's nature, even those who bear no children, to make harself still and embrace har center."

"But yeng are always reaching out," said the King, "always extending until they find a breaking point. And while they are on this quest for a limit they can be enlisted in stupid vainglorious campaigns to defend the honor of other yeng who never found their own limit."

Zadkiel came again against Salem with his dwindling army. The forces clashed in the ravine of Anixi and the king was driven down the brook to the plains of Nolesh. Then Lilith with timely reinforcements turned and drove the Adanite army to the brink of the gorge of Armak.

The flags of truce were brought out, and with the King's consent Lilith rode into the lines of the enemy to see if Zadkiel, with his back against an awesome precipice, had come to new wisdom. He had not even believed Ket- er concerning Lilith, but that was before the fight.

"I find I want you working for me and not against me," Zadkiel told har as Michael watched from hyz cage only a few paces away. "You can defeat my army in this position, but I fear that Michael is close to the edge and something might happen to hym during the confusion. To keep Michael safe you will dissolve your band of yen dressed as warriors, ride at the head of this army, and go where I command you in the East Lands and the West Lands, and Salem, and every place where angels dare to hold the law of the God of heaven in derision."

"Where is the honor here, Zadkiel? Where is the glory? Do you really want me to command your army while every decision is tainted by holding hostage a peaceful yang that I love? Keter would do better to shun pretense and send Demonstoke down to finish the Fallen Angels."

Zadkiel was delighted to hear Lilith declare that she loved the prisoner. "Then are the rumors true, Princess? Michael must not fall outside of the control of my army but hy need not be confined to a cage. Consider very carefully. You could go to hym this very night."

"At a word from my father every Salemite would flock into hyz army, Zadki- el; yea, even the yen, the infirm, the dirks and the dolls. The war would grow so bloody that the whole face of the land would be covered with the dead, but no one would have the time to bury them. This," said sha, "must not be." Only then did sha first lock eyes with Michael, turn on har heels, and quit the parley. There had been no need to prod Lilith to do the right thing. Never was Michael more proud of har.

"Sha knows, Chokhmah. The things you love are always used against you. Al- ways! Sha knows!"

"Sha does know," Michael replied, "but woe to those who turn love into a weapon used against the ones who do love. Beware, Zadkiel. The struggle for Salem will end badly for you."

Many years before Zadkiel brought war to Salem, King Gordiel hitched a wag- on to a nearby tree with a knot so elaborate no one has ever been able to fairly begin to unravel it. At that time an oracle said whoever untied the wagon would rule all the angels in heaven.

Zadkiel had heard the prophecy, of course. When the Army of Keter drew near the city hy found the wagon and laid eyes on the Gordian Knot. For several days, while the army built camps in the surrounding fields, Zadkiel tried to undo the legendary knot, but to no avail. This hy did in great secret, for the Eyes of Keter would look askance at any attempt to usurp the power of Samael by fulfilling the prophecy. Then, accepting at last the wagon was going nowhere, Zadkiel had hyz yeng lash Michael's cage to the old wag- on on the hilltop.

Sibiel, the farmer from Odargas who once smuggled Princess Lilith into Sa- lem, was fingered by witnesses after the Eyes of Keter threatened torment. The Eyes elected not to kill Sibiel, for it seemed a waste of good yengpow- er. Lilith had made Zadkiel's army short-handed. Sibiel was issued army livery and pressed into service as a waterbearer in Zadkiel's camp. Hav- ing little else to do for entertainment, often the Adanite soldiers tripped hym, laughing together with their fellows as Sibiel trudged back and forth to refill hyz waterskin.

One night when Sibiel wandered off toward the edge of the camp hy was at- tacked by a hooded shape and dragged into a ravine. When they were alone the attacker revealed harself to be Lilith and ordered hym to swap their clothes. As hy stripped Sibiel said hy wanted to help.

But after some stern words from the princess, tempered with ample thanks for what hy had already done for har, Sibiel faded off into the night under the black robe.

Lilith adjusted Sibiel's second-hand armor and helmet, which was almost worse than no protection at all. Sha padded out har ample curves and ap- plied false facial hair to offset the soft yenish features that belied har status as commander of the most fierce army in heaven. Then Lilith drifted into camp fetching water for the yeng and taking abuse as though sha were Sibiel.

Lilith searched in the area where Sibiel told har Michael was being held captive. The wooden cage that had been hyz home for much too long had been taken off the wagon tied to a tree by the Gordian Knot and relocated to the center of the camp, guarded by only two yeng. The cage was covered with a canvas to keep Michael from dying of exposure. It would not do, Zadkiel knew, to break the single thread keeping hymself and hyz whole army alive.

Lilith could swagger with the best of them. The guards permitted har to bring water to Michael.

Lilith appeared between the canvas and the cage with har ladle of rancid water. For light sha put on a green flexible band of intricate make, a gift from Michael. In the center it possessed a brilliant white light that allowed Lilith to move on the darkest nights. There was none like it in heaven. The canvas covering Michael's cage was thick enough that no light escaped to betray the princess and whispers could not be heard outside. Michael was initially filled with joy when hy saw the face of hyz disciple but this quickly changed.

"Nice beard."

"Hush! Take my headband."

"I gave that to you and I never ask for my gifts to be returned."

"You will have to make an exception."

"Do you want me to use it to escape?"

"Please don't do anything stupid, Michael. Better yet, don't do anything at all!"

Michael immediately got the joke and smiled. Lilith offered the water sha brought, such as it was. Then sha said, "That headband is the only thing I have that says 'Lilith was here' without mistake. Zadkiel will come here later to gloat over you like they always do."

"At that time I want you to let hym see that you have my headband. That's my message to hym, and it is a very simple one: that I can come or go at will."

"It will rattle hym good."

"It will rattle him to the point of pulling many yeng off the front lines to guard you."

"It is a sound plan," whispered Michael. "I never doubted that you had a scheme to get me away from Zadkiel."

Their last moment together that evening was spent in a passionate kiss that was made necessarily short because the guards were already getting suspi- cious.

At dawn Lilith and har father beheld the enemy, now very close to the city, from a small rise. Michael's cage was visible in the center of the field, protected by a sizeable fraction of Zadkiel's available yeng, perhaps up to a third. Lilith marveled how easy it had been.

"Do you see what I have done, father?" asked sha. "Things have been neatly reversed. Michael has become Zadkiel's greatest weakness instead, a pre- cious jewel tying down a third of hyz force just as our attack begins."

And the king did not hesitate to let the attack begin.

The armies slammed together. With the new disparity in numbers the battle inexorably began to tip against Zadkiel. Lilith fought har way to the top of the hill behind Zadkiel's army where the wagon was tied up, standing all by itself and forgotten. Zadkiel spotted har.

Zadkiel nudged hyz horse up the hill to cut har off. A sudden fear gripped hym that Lilith could accomplish what no others had tried, solve the Gord- ian Knot, and inherit the promise of the oracle to rule heaven.

Alone on the summit they both dismounted and squared off. After a flurry of clashing swords just the tip of Zadkiel's blade slashed Lilith's bare midsection and hy attained first blood. Sha feigned shock at the injury and slowed har dance. Zadkiel saw that and let his guard wither for just a few heartbeats, but it was enough. Seeing har slim opening, Lilith let fly a ferocious kick of one booted foot to hyz face and Zadkiel was laid out cold. Hyz sword separated from hyz unconscious hand. Lilith tossed it far away, then returned to har helpless prey with a strong urge to make an end of hym.

Before sha met Michael, Lilith would have done precisely that. No, it was better vengeance to let this ophan live and explain this defeat to hyz god. Sha suppressed har rage and glanced at the forgotten wagon fastened to a tree on the hilltop. Lilith ran to it instead. Sha attempted to untie the knot that her mad grandfather old King Gordiel had made to secure the wagon to a mighty tree, but like so many that came before har sha made no head- way. Sha looked down and saw Adanite skirmishers ascending to come to the aid of their commander. Finally, with no time to lose, Lilith just hacked at the knot with har sword. The wagon was free, but sha was certain Gordiel didn't have that solution in mind when he created the knot. The wagon began to roll downhill and Lilith jumped inside, hanging on for dear life.

Lilith's trademark ululating war cry gripped the attention of the troops guarding Michael. They gaped at the horror rushing down upon them faster than any horse could drive it. All of the yeng fled as har desperate gamble played out. Sha ducked inside and braced harself.

Michael saw what sha was doing also, and flattened hymself against the side of the cage that hy guessed would avoid a direct impact. The wagon collided with enough speed to shatter both the cage and the wagon to splinters. Lilith was unceremoniously dumped on har ass.

Somehow they both survived the collision. Lilith was more bruised and beat- en than sha has ever been in har life but Michael was free. Melchizedek and the Fallen Angels under Lilith's lieutenants pursued the defeated and scat- tered forces of Zadkiel's army into the forest.

But King Melchiyahu knew this defeated army was not the total strength that Samael could bring to bear on hym and its modest size was itself a gesture of contempt on the part of Samael for the power of Salem to defend itself. Hy knew they would return with greater force.

When Zadkiel awoke hy took in the scope of hyz humiliation from hyz vantage on the hilltop. Cursing, hy fled the field alone on hyz horse. For the rest of hyz life, which endured little longer than hyz long ride back to Adan, hy contemplated how to explain it to Keter.

"No more adventures for a while," Lilith told Michael as hy was making sure sha was not seriously hurt. "I've cracked a rib, for starters. But you know this battle would have been unnecessary if you had let me carry out my plan at Aden. "You would have been killed."

Lilith touched the back of har head. "But now you have changed me, and un- leashed a warrior yin on heaven who does not fear the consequences of death." "I would unleash an army of them. But tell me, why did you throw away everything you've worked for since you met me?

"I don't understand what you just said."

Michael held up one end of the wagon's rope. "I'm talking about the Gordian Knot. I'll admit, cutting it was probably not what the oracle intended, but now you are destined to rule heaven. Fate! The unreformed Lilith must re- turn."

"Must sha? You say Keter was behind all this, but do you think he will have his way forever? What if the oracle really meant the spirit of the new Li- lith will take over heaven? The one who changed --" Har eyes brimmed with moisture and har voice broke, but sha went on. "The Lilith who changed on that unforgettable day when sha first heard you speak.

Michael ran hyz had over Lilith's side, and something hy did took the pain away. Sha could breathe deeply again. "It may take centuries to play out, my beloved, here and in the other world, but you may have turned the corner here today. Once and for all...love won!"

When the vanguard of the Adanite expedition reached the shambles of the garrisoned cache they were ordered to line the walls of the central chamber at attention. Carrying a fat short staff, black in color, Bezaliel picked hyz way to the center searching for a flat area.

Hy found a spot that would suffice for hyz purposes and unscrewed a cap on the end of the staff, revealing it to be a hollow cylinder. Bezaliel withdrew a gray mat. Hy had been told by Samael hymself that a whisker extended from this mat to the heart of the sun itself.

Bezaliel could neither see nor feel this whisker, and indeed hy wondered how it was not cut or snapped when the mat was rolled up into the cylinder, but it was a divine mystery. All hy knew was that unrolling the mat would, in effect, summon Samael and Israel to appear.

Hy let the mat fly open by itself and stood back to wait. The living avatars of Keter and Daat were suddenly seen within what seemed to be a glass sphere. Bezaliel and all hyz yeng fell to their knees as though they were a single body as the two seraphim stepped forward.

Israel bids the yeng to rise. Bezaliel says, "Look what the she-demon Lilith has done, my lords!"

Samael looked at the sky visible through a new tunnel in the cave ceiling. Hy said, "Nay, this was Chokhmah, and not the first time I have been assailed by her avatar."

And Bezaliel dared not contradict hyz god, but hy did say, "My Lord has said that were Chokhmah to send an engine of war to heaven the line running back to her would be as fine as spider's silk, like between yourself and the gray mat. Lord, let your servant understand."

Samael deigned to reply to hyz thrall, for he deemed hyz failure with Zadkiel had been to keep hym uninformed. Hy said, "Chokhmah is my daughter. We share our living substance, which forms a short tube between us in our world, even as our bodies are far apart in yours."

Chokhmah, in the guise of her avatar, walked to heaven through this tube, so the link between herself and her avatar is short as well, and she can open a fold-door in heaven as easily as she can do so on Earth.

Lord, I fear the witch Lilith may appear at any time.

Of that you may have no fear," said Samael. "Every six days Chokhmah makes sufficient dark light to open a fold-door large enough for Lilith to enter, but where would sha go other than the heart of a sun to die? I would not open a target portal, and never would Israel.

A regiment of the Adanite army was left behind to set the garrison in order. It would be seven days before Daat could summon another fold-door. There was nothing for Samael and Israel to do but ride with Bezaliel and the bulk of the force to the west in pursuit of Lilith.

During the advance Bezaliel prattled on about the wickedness of Lilith, annoying Samael to an extreme, yet hy did nothing to silence his lieutenant, as Lilith was indeed Samael's foremost enemy in heaven, and Zadkiel had badly underestimated har to hyz final destruction.

After a number of days the Adanite expedition emerged from the ice and the underlying hills to reach the flats of Magodon, where like numbers of Brown Beards stood across the path of their advance. Two soldiers of the House of Larund advanced alone under flag of truce.

Neither Samael nor Israel wore emblems of rank. Their raiment was that of common footsoldiers, and no banners flew over them, yet the envoys from the Larund side steered toward the seraphim without error. Then Samael saw one herald was Lilith harself, to hyz admiration.

The other wore a brass helmet but when hy drew nearer Samael identified hym, from hyz own many visits to the court of King Metatron, to be Prince Barachiel. Both hy and Lilith dismounted and sank to both knees, bowing deeply before Samael and Israel with their hands open.

For Bezaliel to see hyz personal monster Lilith crouching before hym on har haunches, with har head offered as though a sacrifice to Samael, was too much. Hy stepped forward with hyz blade raised over hym and screamed, "See Lord how I remove this dart from your flesh!"

Still upon har knees, Lilith reached for the Golden Gift at har side. Even as Bezaliel's sword fell, the hissing black shaft extended and raised to meet it, and where they crossed Bezaliel's weapons was not. The severed tip fell to the ground as Lilith lept to har feet.

When sha saw that no second attack was forthcoming sha let the black shaft retract into the Golden Gift. Lilith said, "Has the purpose of our embassy been taken amiss? We come in the name of Chokhmah and King Metatron to trade words with the lords of heaven, not blows."

Samael said, "Alas, Princess, the discipline and even the honor of my army has lessened of late, to my embarrassment. Perhaps you can remedy this. Bezaliel is entirely within your power."

And Bezaliel was horror stricken as hyz own god turned him over to hyz nightmare.

Lilith touched the Golden Gift to Bezaliel's arms and legs in segments, letting all see how easy it was for har to turn a yang into a limbless ruin. Hyz agonized screams did not last long. Hy bled out at har feet.

Your weapon," said Samael. "I've not seen the like.

Lord Samael, this is the Golden Gift, the weapon of a cherub. Michael give it to my brother King Melchizedek, and now by heritage it is mine.

So be it, Queen Lilith," said hy. "State your piece.

Chokhmah may become willing to give you that which you most desire.

Your Highness, do you really know, do you even understand what it is I most desire?

The courtship of elohim is beyond anything angels could possibly know, Lord Samael. Yet Chokhmah has put me in something of the role of a chaperone. You must please me to please her.

And what must I do to please you?

First, milord, send the army of Adan back to the land of the Black Beards, and come not again save by leave of the rightful king.

Impossible, dear Queen. Did you not know I never relinquish one scrap where my forces make footfall?

Lilith turned to har companion. "What say you, Prince Barachiel? The elohim are nothing like angels or nephilim or men. It is in their very nature to be true to their word. The same restraint that makes Lord Samael's boast without repentance would hold hyz army here."

Barachiel said, "This land is of small worth. My father would be full willing, I deem, to give it in exchange for the word of a seraph that no Adanite boots would ever cross west. And if that seraph's word ever proved false that precedent, too, would be worth the land."

So answered, Queen Lilith struck up the Golden Gift once more. Sha dug a deep trench in the stony ground between har and the Adanites and said, "My Lord Samael, sight north and south along this line, for this shall be the inviolate frontier betwixt Magodon and Adan."

Samael said, "So too shall it be a fence barring the east to yourself and the Fallen Angels. You shall be queen in name only, with no city to rule. This doom is upon you, your daughter, and all who might come after."

"So shall it be,"" said Lilith, sealing the bargain.

"Such a trifling thing," said Samael. ""Are you now pleased, Queen Lilith? Is Chokhmah now sufficiently pleased that we may proceed to the other thing you spoke of?"

Not yet, milord. The kingdoms in the west are now safe from your army, yet there remains Demonstroke.

Yes, there remains Demonstroke," said Samael as hy reached over his shoulder to draw the diamond blade strapped to hyz back known as Dragonthorn. "There always remains Demonstroke.

From old many living creatures of Earth were brought to heaven through the fold-door.

In the main these creatures were killed by the hostile flora of heaven. Some survived to thrive in various niches or they were herd animals which men had tamed from distant antiquity. Keter knew they would breed beyond the capacity of heaven to feed them, man among them.

Just as the bodies of men were incrementally changed by Keter to produce angels and nephilim, there also appeared in heaven predators from the darkest dreams of man to keep all creatures in check, even Leviathan under the waves who devoured those who foundered therein.

When Keter introduced dragons all that went about on two legs had to keep one eye on the sky as surely as small four-legged creatures feared eagles. But all of the predators created by Keter were merely taken to be strong threads woven into the growing tapestry of heaven.

Men honored the wisdom of Keter in creating the dragons, and they were not truly afraid. For it was man and not any other beast who were the most terrible predators the universe had ever known from the day that fangless, clawless big-brained ape came down from the trees.

On Earth man had contended with lions and tigers and bears for his meat and now that he was unleashed on heaven so much the worse for heaven, dragons or no. The beasts were safe enough if they remained in their aeries where they bred only rarely, but they could be slain.

Lays commemorating the deeds of many dragon slayers, would-be or otherwise, were told in roadside inns dotting heaven They were told still, even as only a single dragon remained

Keter had long wearied of hyz toy after burning portions of many towns and cities across every land west of Adan. Of late hy held Demonstroke in reserve lest Chokhmah send her avatar to assail hyz army directly. Lilith, speaking for Chokhmah, offered a mutual disarmament.

So Samael made the diamond sword Dragonthorn to dart this way and that, and soon Demonstroke was seen in the sky. As he drew nearer the armies of both Brown Beards and Black Beards drew apart, leaving only Barachiel, Lilith, Samael, and Israel standing at the new border.

The dragon circled to the north and lined up on the border. Even Samael backed away from the line then, and the others found it prudent to follow his cue. Lilith was fascinated by the grace of the landing. The wings of Demonstroke spread to their full extent and he sank.

His hind legs touched first, then he tipped forward to run on all fours. Demonstroke came to a stop and sank to the ground directly between the four nobles, and exactly on the trench Lilith had carved and sha saw that the beast did not belch smoke or even seem to breathe.

With the beast so inert, Lilith's curiosity overcame har caution and sha advanced to touch the creature's hide. Sha found its scales did not merely have the appearance of metal, they were metal. Lilith guessed a truth about the dragon then, but said nothing to Barachiel.

Starting at the dragon's tail, Lord Samael walked up along its back. Hy said to Lilith, "Come, Your Royal Highness. Let us leave Demonstroke in the keeping of King Uriel and so complete our bargain."

Sha saw Samael seat hymself forward of a horn on the dragon's back.

Further, Lilith saw that Samael, who was patting hyz thighs, expected har to sit in turn forward of hym and behind a shorter horn. Sha sighed and took the indicated position, knowing it was the only way to be done of har errand for Michael. And Demonstroke sprang to life.

Lilith was not dismayed by the sensation of sudden rapid flight. Sha had flown much higher and faster many times within the avatar of Chokhmah. Far below she saw Prince Barachiel turn west to ride to hyz father and say hy had given away the eastern hinterlands of Magodon.

Sha also saw the Adanite force dispersing at the command of Israel to garrison their new province against invaders who would never come. All the while Samael's thumb touched gems on Dragonthorn and the beast obeyed, which Lilith thought too mundane a ritual for a spell.

Demonstroke's head bent bent back over them on its long neck and fire spewed out in a jet that propelled the dragon into the sky, pushing Lilith against Samael, and hy in turn against the bony ridge at the place where the serpentine neck joined to the rest of his body.

The dragon rose until the air became almost too thin for Lilith to breathe. Then Demonstroke's head bent forward again. He extended his wings and with gentle flaps the beast extended his glide as much as possible as the wastelands of Magodon rose to meet them underneath.

Then, when the tops of deadly trees native to heaven nearly brushed the belly of Demonstroke, he bent his head back again and let loose another long jet of flame. They chased the sun out over the Rammon Sea. Lilith lost count of the cycles as Sealiah Island grew ahead.

Lilith began to wonder, did Samael never eat? Did hy never even piss? If it was to be a test of wills sha vowed sha would not be the first to speak. But as westering Keter sank below the horizon they glided down to one of the many scattered campfires visible on Sealiah.

A party of Black Beards were preparing to sup around their fire on the moors in the north of the isle when Demonstroke appeared and scattered them all away in abject terror. When the dragon came to a stop, Samael slid off to check what was cooking, and seemed pleased.

Lilith joined hym after pissing behind the beast's bulk and found supper was a good beef stew made all the more delicious by har near starvation. Sha smiled and said, "You must have done this before. Will your pet be having some?"

Hy grinned in turn and shook hyz head.

Obviously, Lord Samael, your 'dragon' isn't really alive. It's a contrivance of some kind, like Chokhmah's avatar, except that it can appear to move like a beast. Tell me, is that why we must ride on its back? Would we be ducking pulleys and ropes if we rode inside?

You are quite correct, Your Majesty," said hy. "What a clever yen to have guessed Demonstroke is mechanical after sitting upon its metal hide for hours as it whisked har across Magodon. Tell me, did you imagine any living thing could maintain such a fire within itself?

Lilith shrugged. "Perhaps I fell prey to the delusion that you have fostered among angels and nephilim and men that nothing is impossible to any of the elohim."

Demonstroke has a different purpose than the avatar of Chokhmah. It is not meant to carry anyone around. Think ye Lilith were this Chokhmah's avatar, and we had finished killing Eyes of Keter, and had finished destroying stores in the ice, and had scattered yeng to steal their food, how soon they would already be running back like Michael hymself at Salem that first time.

Queen Lilith took a deep swig from a wineskin no one would try to reclaim by reason of the nearby dragon. "By the gods you have thought of everything, Lord Samael. But when we leave the beast with Uriel what is the qualifying stipulation? With you there is always one."

I will tell the king that Demonstroke is controlled only by Dragonthorn, which is true, and that Dragonthorn must only be touched by a virgin human female or it will grow brittle, and that is not true now but it will be true when we reach Jelaket in the land of Sastrom.

Lilith laughed. "I knew it had to be something like that. Did you know that Michael calls you Hasatan?"

The Accuser?" Samael considered it, then shrugged. "That's fair.

What puzzles me is who it must be that accepts your accusations. Not Michael, certainly. Michael has said he considers humans and nephilim and angels to be students, Lord Samael. The worst you could possibly do is expose situations where world-dwellers might benefit from instruction. And you would never speak of us to Ein Sof, the great city of all elohim.

So it seems the only audience you have as you perform the role of Hasatan is Daat, the other parent of Chokhmah. And that is pathetic, wouldn't you agree?

You know nothing of this, Your Majesty. You neglected to mention my son Chesed, the step-brother of Chokhmah.

Chesed, you see, was a potential open route to Ein Sof through Tiferet, but that way was closed forever when Daat brought him into our, ah, project.

Too late, Samael realized the yin had somehow maneuvered hym into revealing a thing that Chokhmah didn't even know. Briefly, hy considered killing Lilith on the spot, but somehow sha read hyz fleeting emotion as though hy were an unfurled scroll. Sha said, "Chokhmah is prepared to negotiate that you may join with her, Lord Samael, but my personal safety is one of the non-negotiables."

Do not make the mistake of thinking Chokhmah has all the advantages in a courtship, Your Majesty. She has been in existence for seven thousand years, did you not know? Most elohim become mothers within the scale of a single human lifetime. She cannot put it off forever.

Then it was Queen Lilith's turn to momentarily reveal an emotion, but it was one of slight disgust. Sha said, "No doubt elohim have physical imperatives, Lord Samael, but I do not care to listen to any details. It would be like the mommy daddy talk, but for living suns."

Then eat your fill of what our hosts have so kindly prepared for us, nay, more than your fill. Tomorrow morning we shall rise over the Nine Mile Wall that rears behind Rumbek. By this time tomorrow we shall be near Elketz. In four days we shall glide over the Wall of God.

Samael stacked fuel nigh to the inert bulk of Demonstroke out of the wind and kindled another fire there. Upon an outer garment hy stretched hymself out, cursing the need of all world-dwellers to suspend their consciousness when it grew dark, in heaven as it was on Earth.

Before the Deluge heaven was nearly completely circled by the Really Big River that was born on the frozen flanks of Mt. Tureth and twisted its way east between the Northern and Southern Ice, which were then five hundred miles apart. Six vertical miles the river dropped.

In those days the River emptied into the largest sea in heaven, known as Thalury. But the Great Deluge intervened to deepen the ice age. The northern and southern glacial sheets moved to within three hundred miles of each other, and in three places the ice was joined.

West of Rumbek the land of Magodon rises steadily to become the very roof of heaven. Here lies the most extensive merger of the two ice caps, yet glacier-carved U-shaped valleys bore deep into the mountains, and a single way exists to skirt Mt. Tureth and pass beyond.

Here pairs of large wooden cages dangling from ropes and pulleys carry travelers and freight over a vast staircase of twenty-four cliffs, each ranging from sixty-five to three hundred feet. Every haul that goes up is balanced by a slightly heavier haul that goes down.

South of Mt. Tureth the two dozen scattered cliffs merge into a fearsome sheer rock wall some ten thousand feet high that stretches clear to the southern ice pack. This is the Wall of God, festooned with innumerable cataracts, and there is not its like anywhere on Earth.

Demonstroke pitched over. For three air miles he dropped a mile in elevation, even as the treetops of the extreme western marches of Magodon remained just below his belly. Then he reached the ledge of the Wall of God and was out over the void. Lilith gasped at the view.

Lilith saw Thalury then, diminished from its antediluvian majesty yet still the greatest sea in heaven. A bay reached all the way to the foot of the Wall of God, dividing the land of Sastrom from Haaretz to the south. Demonstroke was like a gnat sinking outside a castle.

At the base of the Wall of God was a jumble of talus with some boulders as large as a house. These gave way to foothills that dropped another mile before reaching bottom land. Samael guided the dragon north over a series of forested ridges to reach the city of Jelaket.

At Adan in the east angels number in their hundred thousands, and nephilim in their thousands, but humans only in their hundreds. In Rimmon in the uttermost west humans number in their hundred thousands and nephilim in their thousands, but angels only in their hundreds.

Magodon, which had taken Samael and Lilith the better part of a week to cross even by dragon, had angels and nephilim in the tens of thousands but humans numbered only in the thousands. Now they had crossed over into the three lands of the Red Beards divided by Thalury.

There humans and nephilim were counted in the tens of thousands, but angels only in their thousands. King Uriel hemself was a nephil, while hez daughter Dafla was human. Lilith knew the course of this Dafla's life was to irrevocably change when they arrived in Jelaket.

The city was the keystone of heaven, a seaport and the first step in the staircase to Mt. Tureth. She was the gatehouse for all goods moving east and west and grew fat on the duties levied thereon in commerce interrupted only by war or, just once, by Demonstroke himself.

Many of the people of Jelaket remembered when the monster came last, and they were not happy memories. When Samael sticked a landing in the large outer courtyard of the castle of King Uriel, near the stables, hy was most unwelcome, but a flying dragon need never knock.

Watching from the ramparts, King Uriel saw hez archers assemble in a wary circle around the beast as the two riders dismounted. One che recognized as the seraph Samael, but the other, a yin arrayed for war, che knew not. They conversed with hez guard, and one ran inside.

Uriel reached a silent count of nearly fifty before the soldier appeared. "Your Majesty, Lord Samael has arrived, and with hym is Queen Lilith of Salem. Sha says they have flown upon Demonstroke from the frontier between Magodon and Adan and crave audience with the king."

The king said, "And shall I treat with foreign nobility while their living engine of war skulks within the walls of my castle like a blade over my neck?"

Your Majesty, Lord Samael swore the beast will not move one whit so long as hy and the queen remain as your guests.

And King Uriel knew of a surety they were the words of Lord Samael, not that he once doubted hez soldier. Che knew Samael could never resist coating hyz menace with a honeyed tongue. Che said, "Attend to our visitors' needs and seat them in the smaller council chamber. And send to notify the First Minister. When Lord Samael and the queen are ready we will see them alone, Makassar and myself." Uriel knew the dragon must portend some form of humiliation and it would not do to receive these visitors in the big hall with others to witness.

At a casual first glance, First Minister Makassar Bronzesaber might be mistaken for the king of the Red Beards, and Uriel merely his son. As a human male, for instance, Makassar really had a red beard, while the actual king, as a jen, could only manage a sparse down.

Lilith and Samael stood up when they entered, but Uriel said, "I beg you, esteemed ones, be seated once more. I do not relish trying to observe all the correct formalities here. A seraph in the castle of a cherub? An ophan whose claim to har throne has outrun news of it?"

They both seemed pleased by this overture and resumed their seats as King Uriel took his own seat at the head of the table. Makassar remained standing at the king's side as though interposing between Uriel and Samael, and he was armed with a sword. Samael glanced at it.

Uriel glanced at Samael glancing at it. Che said, "Forgive the perceived affront, great ones, if Minister Makassar is girded for violence, but my servants tell me that you, at least, Lord Samael, bear a weapon yourself, and would not lay it aside. I am a cautious jen."

Deliberately, with a stately pace, Samael brought out the diamond blade and laid it on the table with the hilt toward the king. Hy said, "Dragonthorn is not so much a weapon as a talisman, Your Majesty, with powerful spells to act as invisible reins upon Demonstroke."

Lord Samael, what does your dragon, or this blade, bewitched or no, have to do with me or any of the House of Bellon?

Your Majesty, if you please," put in Lilith, "the answer is bound up with the bloody dispute raging inside House Adan. My father Melchiyahu is dead. Samael took the natural death of my father as the signal to rekindle the Adanite family squabble and moved on Salem." Lilith grew bitter as sha spoke. "My brother, King Melchizedek, suffered a decidedly unnatural death. So I took my faction west but Samael followed. Your Majesty, Michael has revealed to me that no matter how wicked we might deem a particular eloah to be, without exception all elohim hold themselves bound by their word. So it fell to war to unseat my brother from the throne. A mere edict from Samael would not do. Also Samael has said that wheresoever the boots of his host go, there is the frontier of the House of Adan, forever, and so it must needs be. Yet I drew a line east of Rumbek, and Samael can do nothing but hold to hyz word that no Adanite arrayed for war shall cross west. Yet I knew with hyz dragon alone Lord Samael could lay waste to every city outside of Adan. Naturally the question of what to do with Demonstroke arose as we parleyed. In the proposed bargain, Your Majesty, the Dragonthorn blade is brought here into your safekeeping.

More specifically," Lod Samael put in, "the blade must go into the keeping of a human female of the House of Bellon: a girl who has never known man nor jen nor ambi nor yang. She must remain sexually pure for all the days she possesses Dragonthorn, or it will shatter.

Again, Lord Samael," demanded the king, "why the Red Beards?

When I brought humans into heaven from the other world I have ever played the natural philosopher, mixing potions to see what happens. Can one maid child among you remain chaste or do I break the glassware?

Lilith spoke quickly to fill the sudden awkward silence as King Uriel fumed. "Lord Samael makes an unfortunate joke, Your Majesty. All of heaven knows you to be a good and wise king. Who better to keep the dragon out of play than a consecrated virgin in your own court?"

Equally unfortunate," said Uriel, "that I am not in the mood to accept veiled threats, though they be explained away as weak jests. Take your diamond sword, Lord Samael, and make your offer to Queen Aurra.

After Uriel had uttered hez decision the blade began to glow.

Blue and white the weapon shone, so bright that Uriel, Makassar, and Lilith shielded their eyes. Samael simply looked away. When the glow faded once more hy said, "The deed is done. Dragonthorn will shatter of its own accord without a damsel's touch, and that soon."

Nothing will then restrain Demonstroke from carrying out the purpose I instilled in him when he was first created. He will relentlessly seek out and extinguish the life of every planet-dweller in heaven, no matter how long it takes. And he will begin here in Sastrom.

"Your orders, my liege?"" asked the First Minister, and the king saw his hand gripped the sword beneath his tunic.

"Hold!"" Uriel barked, for this was the humiliation the king had expected. Che caught the glance of Lilith. ""Did you know?"

Not the details, Your Majesty.

King Uriel looked into the eyes of Samael then and saw the matter was clearly nothing even Queen Lilith could describe as an unfortunate joke. Che stood up. "Makassar, send for wine and see to our noble guests. A grievous errand has fallen to me and I must be about it."

Uriel loved his nine year old daughter above all others. The King was almost supernaturally patient with Dafla and denied her not the least thing. Even with all life in heaven hanging upon a slender thread, che listened to the girl as she spoke of last night's dream.

Dafla said, "Father, I dreamed it was night and the ground was covered with sleeping metal children. People came out of the sky in two tall silver engines of war that spouted fire, but they wore armor and I didn't know if they were men or women, jin or ambe, yen or yeng."

The first person picked up one of the metal children and they went into the first tower, and somehow I knew that metal child was myself, in the strange way of dreams. We flew into the sky and we were safe. But the second person stayed behind to pick up more children.

"Even though I knew I was was flying away and safe, somehow I was also there watching the second person look for as many metal children as they could find, but that person was caught by strange men and killed. Then I awoke. Is that not the strangest dream you ever heard?"

Uriel smiled at hez Dafla. "I shall interpret your very strange dream, child. The first person in your dream is really myself. You feel protected around me, which is a good thought, because my entire will is bent toward keeping you safe. The second person is your mother. Dafla, your dear mother wanted to have other children by me, and those were the other little metal people in your dream. But in real life, as we know, she fell victim to poison in her drink, and so she was killed by the palace intrigues that never cease here in Jelaket."

"As simple as that, Father?"

"As simple as that. At night your sleeping mind creates images to express what you feel deep in your heart. You are still dealing with your grief. I take solace from the content of your dream that you do not blame me for your mother's death."

"Never, Father!" Dafla was shocked at the mere suggestion that she would think that, or even dream it.

The king placed a hand on hez daughter's hand to reassure her, and che said, "If you did blame me, even in your inner heart, your dream would have been very different."

"Father why have you not married once more? Do you fear a second wife would be killed as well?"

"Not so, Dafla. Soon a woman will try to wedge herself into my life and I will know the identity of the poisoner." Uriel did not mention that che would wed Makassar instead.

Now we must set aside talk of your dreams, daughter, and our lingering grief for your mother, and our lamentation over things we can never change. Did you see the dragon?

Oh, yes father, but only for a little while. First Minister Makassar came and locked my window.

Forgive him, Dafla, he did so only at my command, that you might be safe. Did you know this evening I have been speaking with two nobles who came with the dragon from the uttermost east? One of them is Lilith, Queen of Salem. I do not believe you have seen har before.

But the other noble is a seraph named Samael. In Adan hy is a greater lord than even a king, though hy has no power to rule here. Lord Samael has taken counsel with me before on a number of occasions. Have you learned something of the elohim from your tutors, Dafla?

Yes, father, I have learned that the elohim are alive but they are not like angels or nephilim or humans. They never die. We see them as stars. Chokhmah is really the star we call Nahash, or the head of the snake. Keter and Daat are so close to us we see them as suns.

All that is true, Dafla. Your tutors are excellent. But in less than even your short lifetime the elohim have begun to appear to us in the form of angels as well. No one knows how they are able to do this, but the first was Chokhmah, whom we know as the seraph Michael.

The eloah we see as the cold orange sun called Daat is also seen in heaven as a youth named Israel. And the hot white sun, Keter, has Samael as his living avatar. This is the same Samael who has spoken with me this evening, Dafla, and I would that you might meet hym.

Dafla slid off her bed where she had been sitting and rushed to embrace her father. "Of course I will see him, simply because you wish it. But many lords and ladies have visited you before and I was never invited to meet them."

Truly, daughter, I do not wish this.

I don't understand, father.

Samael has used hyz dragon for murder, and it can hunt down every living thing in heaven. But Queen Lilith has forced a bargain on hym. The dragon will stay with us, forever. But Samael always gives with one hand and takes with the other.

Beloved Dafla, this dragon, Demonstroke, is controlled by a talismanic blade, the largest diamond in heaven. But now only one such as yourself can touch it. Only a human female who has never been a mother or a wife. Do you see why I wish the dragon had never come here?

I think so, father.

Still, Dafla, you are too young to understand everything that Samael will take away from you if you accept the Dragonthorn. In years to come, what you cannot be will weigh upon your body and mind as a terrible burden. Yet what choice do we have?

Father, do you fear that I, at age nine, have no right to decide something for the Dafla at age nineteen? Of course I do! That's just me living my life!" "Such wisdom in a child," wondered Uriel. "Do you know when I hear your words I hear the voice of your mother?

When Uriel introduced Dafla to the nobles waiting with Makassar Lilith knew it could be none other than the king's own daughter who must safeguard the dragon. Samael had conditioned it upon her celibacy, and Uriel, for as long as he reigned, could control that absolutely.

Seeing the diamond blade lying on the table and knowing Lord Samael had given it complete power over the dragon, a deception suggested itself to Uriel as a way to lighten the lifetime burden that was about to be laid upon Dafla. Che said, "Behold, daughter

Take up the sword and none shall have the power to deny your least whim, except touching the one matter of which we spoke. The dragon shall obey you, Dafla. All my subjects shall obey you. If you so choose, I must obey you, as well as Queen Lilith, and even Lord Samael.

The king's daughter did take up the sword, unleashing another light show that impressed everyone present save Samael, who worked it, and Lilith, the wife and first disciple of Michael, who knew all sorcery to be showmanship like the ruse Uriel was carrying out with Dafla.

Lord Samael said, "I commend you, King Uriel, Demonstroke is now bound by chains that may only be broken by an act of human will. Furthermore, you have the means to travel anywhere in heaven in mere days that would otherwise take a year or more. And none dare assail you."

King Uriel said, "Yes, Lord Samael, I considered that when I weighed laying this yoke upon Dafla, that it should be made lighter with a dragon at my beck and call. I need not see you again peddling arms of Adanite craftsyeng and making off with the gold of my treasury."

Dafla took this cue and decided to test the power of the Dragonthorn blade. She pointed the tip at Lord Samael and said, "Leave at once, on foot if you must, and never return!" She pointed the tip at Lilith as well. "And you too, for your part in upsetting my father!"

Lilith raised har eyebrows, stood up, reached inside har breastplate, removed a fragment of parchment, and handed it to Samael. Sha said, "I do not understand any of the symbols written here, but Michael said you would know them and take this to be our next destination."

Samael read the parchment and summoned a fold-door, the one bit of sorcery that even Lilith could not put down as a trick. Sha and Samael were enveloped by an insubstantial dome that showed forth a land free of snow, roaring with the dim sound of Mt. Anshar in eruption.

Lilith bowed to the king and said, "Farewell, Your Majesty! May good fortune be with you and all who look to you." Then with a loud noise that frightened Dafla to tears they were gone, leaving only an unnecessary crater in the floor that had become Samael's signature.

A0 625 Pharmadigm The Center for Disease Control is called in when a drug trial goes bad.

  • A1 640 Erik When Robyn has a near death experience; her father's death is no longer a mystery.
  • A2 717 Soap Opera Stars It turns out that suns have sex-lives as well as planet-dwellers. Who knew?
  • A3 682 Avatar The eloah named Binah crashes a party at Aramel; and Talishi accepts a ride.
  • A4 641 Jerry's Case A little background on the next test subject; one Jerry Aspin; lately of the Colorado pen.
  • A5 683 Yeshua When the Judge of the dead makes a frowny face; that's not a good thing.
  • A6 683 The Hop Talishi is a brave yin; but a suborbital flight to the far north taxes her limit.
  • A7 731 Chokhmah Chokhmah proposes the first merger between elohim and nephilim; and it's not business.
  • A8 576 Mutation Jill's genetic studies prove the Pharmadigm screw-up can be passed along to her kids.
  • A9 691 Jill's Trip Binah shows Jill the entire universe and requests to have a very small thing...her body.
  • B0 675 Voice of Belial The prophet of Belial is troubled by Talishi's message of peace.
  • B1 768 Sunset Discourse Talishi is invited by King Gordiel to preach in the city of Aramel.
  • B2 603 Rewind Introducing one Lilith Gervasi; English Jew and Holocaust survivor.
  • B3 720 Old One Where Jill turned Binah down; Lilith gladly accepts.
  • B4 600 Disciple Talishi takes Princess Khondiel to be her first student.
  • B5 604 Prosecution Talishi is arrested and put on trial for preaching infidelity to the Law of Belial.
  • B6 676 The Mike Snafu Earl Roland watched the next drug trial himself; and it goes even more horribly wrong.
  • B7 658 Bustout The test subjects begin to make their escape from the Hanford site.
  • B8 574 Defense Khondiel attempts to win freedom for Talishi in a rigged trial.
  • B9 608 Sidebar Talishi makes a bargain with Belial; because Khondiel's life; not her own; is at issue.
  • C0 752 Vernita Bridge Jerry has a new-found talent for avoiding unpleasant law enforcement situations.
  • C1 635 Separate Ways The remaining test subjects split up into two groups to increase their odds of escaping.
  • C2 627 Belial Belial puts on Nephil flesh and gloats; Talishi says Bat-El already did it long ago.
  • C3 677 Khondiel Princess Khondiel and her Fallen Angels are ambushed by the Eyes of Belial.
  • C4 659 Buried Alive Jill and Mike discover their talent in a god-forsaken gravel pit.
  • C5 705 Egress Earl Roland's own lying eyes watch Lilith and Robyn make good their escape.
  • C6 607 Alliance King Gordiel comes to the aid of his daughter and the Fallen Angels.
  • C7 669 The Knot Khondiel impresses Talishi when one of her infamous plans actually works.
  • C8 698 The Swim Jill and Mike go for a late winter river swim; accompanied by bullets.
  • C9 614 The Drive Lilith offers the four others one more chance to turn around.
  • D0 732 House Calls Talishi voyages to House Larund and Antero; seeking aid.
  • D1 700 Truce Queen Firegem calls for a council of Royals in the Land We Know.
  • D2 683 Disposal Dr. Roland loads all the loose ends into a special plane that takes off but doesn't land.
  • D3 545 Sacred Pool Lilith's "Gervasi Crime Family" takes a hike that's out of this world.
  • D4 748 Aramel Belial marches on Aramel with his entire force. Khondiel and Talishi flee west.
  • D5 697 The Dream Princess Kari Stronghammer relates a strange dream to her parent; the king of Menkal.
  • D6 733 Flashback In Reality version 1.0; the Plumbers were not arrested at the Watergate June 17; 1972.
  • D7 688 Four Questions Yeshua Bat-El answers certain questions about the Land We Know; and the women therein.
  • D8 652 The Truth Talishi and Belial visit the West Lands by turns. The king prefers Talishi's language.
  • D9 735 Demonstroke On the nature and origin of the last winged dragon in the Land We Know.
  • E0 682 Yom Kippur North In Reality 1.0 Lilith Gervasi fought on the Syrian front of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
  • E1 613 Time to Split The Gervasi crime divides again; this time to entirely different worlds.
  • E2 736 Sealiah War comes at last between House Gerash and House Bellon; with Talishi caught in the middle.
  • E3 613 Council The Council of Royals in Alodra begins with the arrival of the Hamar delegation.
  • E4 671 Yom Kippur South Under an arrogant President Nixon; the Yom Kippur war escalates to World War Three.
  • E5 625 Road Trip Robyn and Lilith head back East on I-90 by car; and find interesting ways to kill time.
  • E6 661 Refugees Belial captures the city of Mandakar as Talishi and Khondiel struggle to escape Sealiah.
  • E7 649 Arrival In the castle of Queen Firegem; more royal delegates arrive.
  • E8 565 Intervention The Watergate break-in takes a completely different turn thanks to Robyn and Lilith.
  • E9 743 The Ride The Gervasi Crime Family crosses the Kingdom of Nath making for the Temple of El Shaddai.
  • F0 698 Rumbek Talishi and Khondiel flee to Rumbek as Sealiah Island falls to House Gerash.
  • F1 665 The Visitors The final delegations of royals arrive in Atria for the Queen's council.
  • F2 600 Reality 2.0 Robyn lays out the changes they wrought by interfering with the Watergate burglary.
  • F3 757 Hadal The Gervasi Crime Family nears the Temple of El Shaddai in Nath.
  • F4 702 Nine Mile Wall Belial gains the upper hand in the battle against the other Houses of Gorpai.
  • F5 691 Testimony The Council convened in Alodra by Queen Firegem begins.
  • F6 697 Cis-Lunar The Gervasi Crime Family meets up again; this time on the Moon.
  • F7 660 Lost Angel Talishi suffers an terrible and eternal loss.
  • F8 611 Luzea The royals have a midday meal and Luzea Cedarbranch incurs the wrath of the Queen.
  • F9 567 Taurus The Gervasi Crime Family get their first look at Taurus City; Selene.
  • G0 573 Interlude Kari Stronghammer confronts Telan Blackseed in his chamber.
  • G1 688 Deviation The Apollo 17 mission goes wildly off-script.
  • G2 708 Retreat Talishi evacuates west with the defeated Houses of Gorpai.
  • G3 649 Apollo Robyn encounters the Apollo 17 crew in the Taurus-Littrow valley.
  • G4 673 Baron Bayard Firegem attempts to "punish" Luzea Cedarbranch; and fails.
  • G5 692 Micro Lilith hires a software guru after interviewing legendary nerds from Reality 2.0
  • G6 674 Stronghammer The Queen proposes a union of kingdoms in the Land We Know to bring about peace.
  • G7 714 Eden As Talishi walks west; she reflects on the real Garden of Eden; which was in Gorpai.
  • G8 723 Ariel Robyn gives birth to Ariel; and Astrodyne gives birth to the Micro.
  • G9 684 Dragonthorn When Lord Blackseed expresses displeasure at the new Union of Kingdoms; Princess Stronghammer breaks protocol.
  • H0 717 Hunky Jill gives birth to a baby dirk; and Astrodyne ships the Micro-75 computer.
  • H1 748 First Deluge Talishi-Chokhmah remembers events that transformed the surface of Gorpai.
  • H2 627 Apostle Lilith attempts to heal a breach in a project that preceded Jerry by many decades.
  • H3 706 Desecration Princess Keri's poor choices reach the light of day; with far-reaching consequences
  • H4 658 Crowded Moon Apollo 18 was five guys instead of just three; and they had to jostle with Russians and Gervasi's folks.
  • H5 747 Second Deluge The final Five Houses emerge intact on Gorpai after a second world-spanning flood.
  • H6 693 Menkal War comes to the Land We Know with an invasion at the Sadl river crossing.
  • H7 689 Viking Carl Sagan tries to explain new images coming from the Viking Orbiter; and the Micro-77 comes out.
  • H8 580 Godspeed Sen. John Glenn and Aleksei Leonov meet up with Jill and Ambe in Taurus City and have a chat.
  • H9 720 Sala Talishi is welcomed by the one House on Gorpai that embraces her teachings.
  • I0 736 Binah's Lab Belial sends Field Marshal Ithuriel through the fold-door to examine Binah's workshop at Proxima.
  • I1 641 Cartel Robyn and Jill get bored; but quickly find something very interesting to do together.
  • I2 701 Charybdis A mysterious and deadly whirlpool appears in the ocean near New Zealand.
  • I3 687 Hybla-Dia With Yeshua in attendance; Talishi offers Belial his pick of one of a pair of her planets
  • I4 731 Conquest Lord Telan Blackseed; despite some setbacks; rapidly conquers most of the kingdom of Menkal.
  • I5 714 Liaison Jerry and Lilith get together; and Astrodyne ships the Micro-79.
  • I6 729 Colony The nephilim of Gorpai begin to move out into the Rigilkent system.
  • I7 728 Nath The war in the Land We Know expands to the kingdom of Nath.
  • I8 728 Brand Lilith gives birth to her own son; Brand; and Astrodyne rolls out the Micro-80
  • I9 701 Eggbeater The nephilim spread out into the great swarm of rocks between Rigilkent and Toliman.
  • J0 637 The Ark Belial is arrested for trying to seize the Ark of El Shaddai
  • J1 606 Monopoly Astrodyne pushes out the Micro-81 and Mark Felton ends up in court
  • J2 637 Shyla & Brand Yeshua rounds up Shyla and her half-brother Brand after they fulfill a task for him
  • J3 699 Lael The first human colonists are sent to the Land We Know.
  • J4 707 Chayn Talishi rounds up Chayn after she delivers horses to the Roshites in Nath.
  • J5 698 Del Lilith rounds up her grandchild Del; a healer of wounded Roshites in Hamar.
  • J6 696 Axis of Evil The Earth delegations arrive at Taurus City
  • J7 728 Victoria Victoria flies over the Land We Know before being summoned to Taurus City
  • J8 712 Possession Hunky talks Chuck into having sex and ends up having Chuck's body...literally.
  • J9 683 Summit Belial opens the Summit by bringing his eternal warfare to an end
  • K0 759 Chayn Hunky adds Chayn to hyz growing collection of Bene Elohim
  • K1 754 World Shaping Lilith begins to describe the terraforming of the worlds of Sol
  • K2 753 Defection Jill confronts har son Hunky; who attempts to possess har
  • K3 720 New Lands Lilith gives the final details of the terraforming program
  • K4 699 Loose Ends The Summit wraps up with a bone tossed to the Americans
  • K5 703 Mother Node The Micro-82 comes out; and changes everything
  • K6 667 Apollyon Hunky meets the son of Emperor Abaddon
  • K7 713 Beaters Gorpai seeds the Toliman system with enemies of Belial
  • K8 0 - -
  • K9 0 - Summit-Belial gives US bots; Mercury crawlers
  • L0 0 - Micro '82; early Beermother tracks recorded.
  • L1 0 - First ships orbit from Gorpai; eight Tradestars constructed
  • L2 0 - Impotent America Entranced LP released
  • L3 0 - Joy possessed by Hunky
  • L4 0 - Entranced concert
  • L5 0 - First Jupiter colonies; four Tradestars built at Jupiter
  • L6 0 - Jerry killed at concert
  • L7 0 - Europa; Lahatiel's family homesteads ice
  • L8 0 - Band arrested at concert; taken to DECON
  • L9 0 - Tanish/Terrel (Lahatiel; raid on homestead)
  • M0 0 - Interrogation of band at DECON
  • M1 0 - White Rock
  • M2 0 - DECON rescue part 1
  • M3 0 - Lahatiel takes Exiler away to save White Rock
  • M4 0 - DECON rescue part 2
  • M5 0 - Punisher incident at White Rock
  • M6 0 - Project Hope. Hunky/Joy issue identified
  • M7 0 - Beater starship gets underway
  • M8 0 - Jerry meets Yeshua on rim of Holy Mountain
  • M9 0 - Lilith tells Belial he's a dead god walking.
  • N0 0 - Lahatiel witnesses Lilith meeting Belial; awarded rank; wives
  • N1 0 - Lilith and Robyn to Mercury; attack bots
  • N2 0 - Lahatiel assembles Exiler crew
  • N3 0 - Lilith and Robyn steal bots; Robyn foresees Lil's death
  • N4 0 - Belial begins work on GIC segments; adding wings to Tradestars
  • N5 0 - Lilith dies in laser hit from Mercury
  • N6 0 - ID Grid moved from Europa orbit (Belial claims it's safer)
  • N7 0 - Robyn to Venus; bot delivered to Mark Felton
  • N8 0 - Exiler long-range combat with Beaters
  • N9 0 - GIC pieces transit LWK to Sol in form of 8 Tradestars
  • O0 0 - Hope taken from Venus to Earth
  • O1 0 - GIC assembled from smaller pieces
  • O2 0 - Victoria recruited to be Hope's mother; then possessed by Hunky-Joy
  • O3 0 - Exiler visits White Rock; Lahatiel turns against Belial
  • O4 0 - Azibeel and Abaddon depart GIC in task force aboard Exiler
  • O5 0 - Hope's childhood in LWK; transfers to Earth.
  • O6 0 - GIC arrives at Mercury; begins to assail Sol
  • O7 0 - Egypt invades Israel; Del reports for duty
  • O8 0 - American ships rendezvous with Belial
  • O9 0 - Del tasked to lead invasion of Egypt
  • P0 0 - Deep space patrol detects Belial's ships
  • P1 0 - Battle of Suez City begins
  • P2 0 - Orbital mines thin out invading ships.
  • P3 0 - Del chewed out by Colonel Adam and sidelined.
  • P4 0 - Dogfight gets Belial's ships in a row.
  • P5 0 - Suez to Galatea. Jill contacts Del; but Del's stuck
  • P6 0 - Taurus defense laster takes out invading ships
  • P7 0 - Avatar takes out Egypt tank columns. Del swims to Galatea
  • P8 0 - Belial takes out last fighter personally
  • P9 0 - Galatea to Deversoir; attack begins
  • Q0 0 - Belial goes cross-country to Taurus City
  • Q1 0 - Del seizes Deversoir
  • Q2 0 - American allies die in bunches on Moon
  • Q3 0 - Del resigns from IDF
  • Q4 0 - Emperor reaches Fortuna rooftoop
  • Q5 0 - Joy aids emperor to find Ark and fold-door tunnel
  • Q6 0 - Abaddon scalded by steam in fight with Gordon
  • Q7 0 - Azibeel; uses Joy as a "hostage" to escape with father
  • Q8 0 - Joy's ship and ID grid destoryed after video of Joy's betrayal
  • Q9 0 - Azibeel limps to Mercury; tracked by Luna
  • R0 0 - Yeshua sends Joy back in time to stay out of trouble
  • R1 0 - Exiler crew assembles at Central after leave
  • R2 0 - Exiler quest commissioned by Yeshua
  • R3 0 - Raziel brieves Exiler crew on Belial's mission to Luna
  • R4 0 - Robyn briefs Exiler crew on Mercury GIC
  • R5 0 - Exiler takes on dependents
  • R6 0 - Exiler departs Central
  • R7 0 - Robyn uses reverse prophesy to tell stories about the LWK
  • R8 0 - Exiler travels to Atria; Alodra
  • R9 0 - Exiler dependents stay with Queen Firegem
  • S0 0 - Robyn departs for Nyduly; will meet Exiler later
  • S1 0 - More dependents stay with the queen
  • S2 0 - Exiler to Toliman; then Minos
  • S3 0 - Spies in Alodra are put to torment and death
  • S4 0 - Criminal released from Rhene prison
  • S5 0 - Eye of Belial sneaks across border
  • S6 0 - Destruction of Iron Dome; rebels crushed
  • S7 0 - Exiler takes Raziel to Palato
  • S8 0 - Raziel updates Belial on events at Selene
  • S9 0 - Raziel has issues with the Eyes of Belial at Palato
  • T0 0 - Exiler departs Palato for Proxima
  • T1 0 - Eye of Belial spy arrives at Palato via worm tunnel
  • T2 0 - Raziel has more issues woth the Eyes of Belial at Palato
  • T3 0 - Royals embark on quest to destroy Demonstroke
  • T4 0 - Victoria drives Hope to school; Mike to pick her up
  • T5 0 - Exiler goes through ID Grid to Proxima; Raziel suicides to protect their secret
  • T6 0 - Robyn abducts Hope from her backyard after school
  • T7 0 - Royals arrive at Glenah by sea
  • T8 0 - Victoria and Mike can't find Hope; call in Deputy
  • T9 0 - Exiler to Proxima Station; bed down for the night
  • U0 0 - Deputy Woody dies in a mine shaft
  • U1 0 - Robyn and Lilith sleep in mine shaft
  • U2 0 - Belial orders ship to Proxima via real space
  • U3 0 - Victoria and Mike follow out false trails
  • U4 0 - Field Marshal Ithuriel outlines FTL principles
  • U5 0 - Robyn tells Hope nothing but the truth
  • U6 0 - Star data given to Exiler; Ithuriel bids farewell
  • U7 0 - Museum of Hitler; Victoria sees aerial photo of footbridge
  • U8 0 - Exiler travels from Proxima to Sol
  • U9 0 - Hope and Robyn reach summit of End Dome Hill
  • V0 0 - Exiler reaches low Earth orbit
  • V1 0 - Mike and Victoria use Sacred Pool to go to the Land We Know
  • V2 0 - Balloon drop to orbit; Hope and Robyn
  • V3 0 - Mike and Victoria join quest; walk to Wazol
  • V4 0 - Exiler evades US laser with chaff; jumps to Venus
  • V5 0 - Wazol to Menkant
  • V6 0 - Freeball game begins; Robyn and Hope sneak off
  • V7 0 - Menkant to Rasal; meet Harek Goldstaff
  • V8 0 - Robyn and Hope search for Ark during Freeball
  • V9 0 - Royals divide up; older ones discontinue quest
  • W0 0 - Civil war comes to Family; Exiler flees station
  • W1 0 - Exiler flees to Mars; Hunky thinks ship destroyed
  • W2 0 - Goldstaff leads party to catwalk
  • W3 0 - Ark and dark blade mated; download to Hope
  • W4 0 - Mike crawls up underground cistern
  • W5 0 - Lilith and Robyn make love for final time aboard Exiler
  • W6 0 - Exiler arrives at GIC; taken aboard
  • W7 0 - Royals traverse catwalk; Victoria saves falling royal
  • W8 0 - Robyn and Lilith assigned housing as dependents
  • W9 0 - Selene fleet arrives at vicinity of Mercury (FTL)
  • X0 0 - Mike relates tale of trip to rim of Holy Mountain
  • X1 0 - Selenites tussle with Belial's fleet
  • X2 0 - Lilith and Robyn search GIC
  • X3 0 - Exiler dispatched to fight Selenites
  • X4 0 - Young royals descend from Holy Mountain
  • X5 0 - Hunky spots Hope and Robyn on camera
  • X6 0 - Selenites attack GIC itself
  • X7 0 - Robyn dies; but saves El Shaddai and Bat-El
  • X8 0 - Young royals arrive at Hadal from rear
  • X9 0 - Lilith captured; taken to CEC
  • Y0 0 - Royals find and awaken Demonstroke
  • Y1 0 - Exiler refuses to return to GIC as ordered
  • Y2 0 - Hunky dies trying to possess Lilith
  • Y3 0 - With little choice; Exiler jumps to FTL blind.
  • Y4 0 - Final Selenite ship destroyed; Belial supreme
  • Y5 0 - Lilith kills Emperor in combat; reveals he is Azibeel
  • Y6 0 - Victoria fights Demonstroke in the air.
  • Y7 0 - Lilith takes command; GIC rigged for FTL...goes directly home
  • Y8 0 - Gorpai's ice melting; mountains are islands; Belial is dead.
  • Y9 0 - Victoria slays Demonstroke; afterlife for all ends
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Strangers In Paradise