Sleeper Awaken!
Atlantean Secrets: Volume 1
Excerpts

For a general presentation of the saga, see Atlantean Secrets.

Who were the Atlanteans? How did Atlantis fall? Samuel Sagan has chosen to present his visions of Atlantis in the form of this spellbinding historical novel, whose background is a large initiation temple in the years preceding the final collapse of the glorious civilisation.

Find yourself immersed in an Atlantean temple, some 12,500 years ago.

Foreseeing the imminent and unavoidable demise of Atlantis, the initiates of the order of the Masters of Thunder have decided to preserve their knowledge for the future in the form of a non-physical archive.

To fulfil the spirit of their tradition, some of the final steps of their grand project will have to be completed not by themselves but by their apprentices, young men and women undergoing the long journey of discovery through which Atlantean high priests and priestesses are trained.

But time is running out! The warp of fields, the foundation of Atlantean technology, is fast collapsing. Unless the sleepers awaken, everything will be lost.

Following Szar, apprentice of Thunder, the narrative depicts the fabric of Atlantean society and presents the paths, practices and supernatural achievements of several orders of high initiates, as well as the phenomenal technology of consciousness which was kept in Atlantean temples.

Through Szar's quest for awakening, the reader is taken on a cosmological odyssey, travelling in distant spaces, facing the Dragon-fire, experiencing the nightmares and marvels of the underworld. There is no time left, and everything to learn. Pressure steadily builds to apocalyptic levels.

Amidst multiple references to mythology and cosmology, Atlantean Secrets tells of the death of a world, and the birth of a new one.

Expect surprises!

Excerpts

1.1 The Forever Love Legend

1.2 Seventy-five thousand years later, Atlantis, the temple of Eisraim

1.3 The man who granted a personal favour to Barkhan Seer

1.4 The Great Sacrifice of the Thunderbolt Bearer

1.5 The creation myth of the Thunderbolt Bearers

1.6 The Archive and the temple in the Fields of Peace

1.7 Gervin's second meeting with the emissary of Ahriman



1 - The Book of the Beginnings

1.1 The Forever Love Legend

Blue.

Gigantic.

Totally ancient. Totally unknown.

An awesome cloud, coming from remoteness.

Born to travel, it moved fast and with great ease.

It illuminated the spheres with a majestic dark-blue glow as no one had ever seen. Not even the gods. Not even the Nagas who know all the secrets of the Underworlds.

The gods of Amaravati were standing in one long row on the shore of the Molten Sea, watching the cloud drawing near.

Among them, Kartendranath. Fingering his triaxe, the god shivered, "If this thing attacks us, then the Lord Melchisedek have mercy on us!"

The cloud's hugeness was what confounded him. He had seen Flying Dragons before, but never so close. Finding himself face to face with one, he was shocked by the sheer magnitude of the being. And the music...

The music was beyond anything his Point could comprehend.

As the Flying Dragon was approaching, inexplicable harmonies filled the spheres. Music multidimensional. Enigmatic vastness.

The Song of Creation.

Trillions of Voices answering each other's calls.

Aeons of strangeness. Dreaming from before the Cosmic Night. Long, long before the gods were born.

When it reached the edge of the spheres of Melchisedek, the cloud stopped.

The music went on. Unfathomable weirdness made sound.

It reflected in the Molten waters – fire at the bottom of the sea, mirroring the flames of astonishing blueness in the heavens.

No one moved.

Silent, the gods contemplated the festival of light.

The language of the gods has a thousand names for blue. Not one of them fitted the aurora that illuminated their sky.

"It wants something!" Kartendranath intuited. "It is waiting for us to do something." He turned to the god on his left, "Gana?"

Eyes fixed on the horizon, the god of the golden helmet responded, "The Web of Love is what has brought it here. As it wants, so it will receive."

The Web of Love, which shines the Light of the Lord Melchisedek.

All of a sudden, the White Eagle of the gods took its flight. From the edge of the Molten Sea it darted skywards.

There was a pause in the music.

The gods held their breath.

The silence after the sound of the Flying Dragons is packed with mysteries. Endlessly profound like a Cosmic Night.

Shaped as a White beam, the Eagle travelled towards the foreign cloud.

A frail beam of light, compared to the cloud's immensity.

In the silence, infinity was held.

As it reached the blue blaze, the beam faded.

The White Eagle of the gods vanished.

Evaporated into nothingness? Engulfed by the cloud?

It was hard to tell, even for the gods.

Until the music was heard again.

A different music. Extraordinarily melodious. It was still multifarious and untraceable like the Dawn of Creation, but its strangeness had softened. Its mathematical fire was enthused with solar fortitude. It carried the White Eagle's unbounded heartness.

The Flying Dragon had comprehended the secrets of the Web of Love.

A legend was born.

On the shore of the Molten Sea, Lord Gana began to dance.

And for an entire night, the gods celebrated the mysteries of remoteness. Through the eye of the White Eagle, they beheld the cloud's glory. The Flying Dragon had come from beyond the Abyss of the Deep and the Fault of Eternity. It had lived through many a cosmic cycle, travelled through many a thousand spheres from the Blue Lagoon to the Great Ant, and from the bottom of the Fault of Eternity where the Mother of the Light can be seen smiling to the Black Night of Remoteness where all secrets of the creation are concealed. Beyond time, space and infinity, beyond pralayas and cosmic births, there are mysteries that elude the gods themselves.

The White Eagle invited the Flying Dragon to stay.

This was not part of the order of the universe. A traveller through eternity, the Flying Dragon had to resume its course.

At dawn the White Eagle reappeared, emerging from the blue fire in the heavens. The spheres were vibrant with music, the gods intoxicated with elixir of infinity. The blazing cloud started moving – slowly, at first, so the White Eagle could fly in its trail.

The Eagle followed it to the edge of the spheres of Melchisedek, where the Web of Love ends and the spheres of remoteness begin. This was where the legendary farewell was exchanged,

"Forever love, Flying Dragon!"

"Forever love, White Eagle of the gods!"

The Flying Dragon disappeared in the immensity of remoteness. Echoes of its music kept resonating through the spheres for a thousand years.

Ever since, whoever cognises the Eagle can contemplate not only its infinite Spirit of Whiteness, but also a tinge of this multidimensional blueness from beyond the Abyss of the Deep and the Fault of Eternity. And whoever crosses the Great Abyss can hear the song of the Flying Dragon –

With all my mind, with all my heart,

I am with you, even when I am far away.


1.2 Seventy-five thousand years later, Atlantis, the temple of Eisraim

When Gervin first came back to his senses, Marka was standing by his side. "Praise the Great Apollo, Gervin of Thunder, ambassador of our Lord Melchisedek," she whispered into his ear.

A thunderous presence filled the room. Loud, hissing sounds, like furious snakes, shook the serenity of the night. They shattered the soft cocoon of shimmering starlight which patient Marka had woven around the sleeping body. From far away, a mysterious, foreign voice whispered, "Space Matrix time reconnection completed." It was but an elusive breath, an improbable thread of meaning in a cosmos riddled with nebulous enigmas, but pregnant with ancient forces of incomprehensible magnitude. When she heard it, Marka shivered. And in a nearby chapel, the principal space controller of Eisraim also heard the wondrous murmur. He was amazed, and he knew – led by Space Matrix, Gervin of the Brown Robe had returned from the remote spheres of the Flying Dragons. He was now re-entering his body, which had been hibernating for thirty-two weeks under the expert supervision and tender care of Marka, the young priestess of Malchasek.

Completely disregarding the lawful necessity for slow transitions, cautious reconnections, and gradual reawakenings, Gervin smiled.

Marka was not in the least surprised. She had learnt the art of travelling from Gervin, she knew what the man was capable of. Despite being less than thirty years of age, Gervin, disciple of Orest, had conquered all the powers of the Masters of Thunder. Softly she chanted an ancient ritual lullaby which invoked her angel of Highness, "O great Malchasek, wings of infinity, silent fullness which moves the world, protect this newborn child."

Using her voice as a thread, Gervin pulled himself back into his body all at once, and opened his eyes.

Marka was a short, dark-haired woman from the counties of the south. She was not beautiful, but what made her special among all the priestesses of Eisraim were her eyes. Looking into Marka's eyes was like catching a glimpse of a primordial glory that had long disappeared from the kingdom – an enchanting, irrational feast of light to celebrate the extravaganza that ran through the world shortly after it had been delivered.

Young Gervin, who wore the long brown gown of the Masters of Thunder, looked into the eyes of the priestess clad in the orange dress of the order of Malchasek. Light met light, and there was fullness.

"Welcome, friend! You are shining with the wonders of remoteness," Marka's smile was glowing. "What extraordinary things you must have seen!"

Gervin kept smiling, silently rediscovering the magic of her eyes after his lengthy odyssey. To him, the journey had lasted not seven months but seven aeons. For in the spheres of remoteness, time can be stretched, curved back, then concentrated all in one point, made to explode in lines that run in every direction and again can be stretched, and curved into an infinity of temporal paradoxes.

Gervin did not use his physical voice. After hibernating for so long, the rule was that no body part be moved for at least three and, preferably, seven days. He spoke to Marka's consciousness through a voice channel of space. "Marka, wise woman in the Law, what a joy to see you again!"

"I have waited for this moment with such impatience, my friend in the Law!" Marka used her normal voice.

"My body is teeming with wonderful energies. Much clearer than when I left. What a feat you have accomplished, Marka! I have none of the dull inertia that usually afflicts travellers when they re-enter their body. How can I thank you for your tender care?"

"Do not thank me, Gervin, thank Malchasek the great angel. It is his light that I have projected into your body. Tell me, friend, how does it feel to be in a human body after having been spread in the infinity of space for so long?"

"Like being squeezed into a tiny dot. The consciousness of the Flying Dragons is incommensurable, Marka. Far beyond anything the human mind can conceive."

"The visions you sent me were staggering."

"So you received them!" the voyager rejoiced.

"Every day, every night – every hour! The images were so beautiful they often made me cry with joy. I was especially moved by those you sent on your way back."

"The Fault of Eternity?" Gervin asked, wondering how Marka's eyes were when she cried.

"And the Abyss of the Deep, where the Mother of the Light can be seen smiling. This was the most beautiful of all."

"Mm..." Agreeing, Gervin brought the subject around, "Marka, the Flying Dragons made me promise that the first thing I would do upon returning to the kingdom would be to inquire about the order of the White Eagle. Unfortunately I had never heard of this order. Can you tell me anything about it?"

"It's a female order. Extremely ancient."

"Do we have any of them in our temple?"

"I know there used to be a chapel of the White Eagle in the female wing of the temple. But it would have been at least hundreds of lawful years ago. I believe the order of the White Eagle has more or less disappeared from the kingdom."

"Well, Marka, this is going to change. I have engaged the Word of Thunder – I will find the White Eagles and make a nest for them in Eisraim."

"Engaged the Word of Thunder?" Marka laughed with wonder. "But this is extreme, Gervin!"

"The Flying Dragons have declared themselves the allies of the Masters of Thunder."

"You negotiated an alliance between the Brown Robe and the Flying Dragons?" Marka marvelled.

"The Flying Dragons have bestowed a shower of gifts on my order, Marka. They have given us full access to their Universal Knowledge Banks. And they have given the Masters of Thunder permission to use Space Matrix, the phenomenal guidance system which they use when travelling through the spheres. But on one condition: that the Brown Robe will give its total and unconditional support to the White Eagles, and even share with them some of its most precious secrets. Had I not accepted immediately, the Flying Dragons would have thrown me out of their spheres."

Marka was in awe, the glory of ancient worlds ablaze in her eyes, "This is quite a story!"

"Poetry in remoteness. It started aeons ago. And the Flying Dragons believe that one day the children of the White Eagle will fly to their spheres, and that an illumination of Love will follow. They call it the Flight of the Eagles."

"And how are you going to find these White Eagles?"

"The Flying Dragons told me that Barkhan Seer, the mighty Master of Thunder, knows one of the White Eagles and will direct her to me."

"Barkhan Seer! But doesn't the legend say it has been more than six hundred years since he last incarnated in the kingdom?"

"He now lives in Highness, but this is not an obstacle for the Flying Dragons. They have already contacted him and arranged everything."

"Gervin, you know what the wise people of Eisraim say about your teacher Orest? That he is not always easy to follow, but one never gets bored in his company. Well, this has become so true of you, my friend. Life with you is always eventful!"

Gervin's eyes flared. Was this the right moment? Crossing the Fault of Eternity on his way back to the spheres of Melchisedek, he had promised himself that the first movement of his physical body would be to take Marka's hand – an Atlantean way of asking her to marry him.

Gervin decided it was too early. He cared about Marka, the delicate soul, and did not want to be abrupt with her in any way, not even with the sweet abruptness of an untimely declaration of his love for her.

"Tell me, Marka, what has been happening in the kingdom since I left?"

"Not only good news, Gervin."

Still smiling, Gervin replied with one of the sayings of Thunder, "Let us start with the worst!"

"Bobros, the giant who lives in the Valley of the Necromancer, has been terrorising the people who live in the forests of Nadavan. And he has destroyed all the crops and the cattle in the north of the county, killing many peasants."

"Bobros, son of Bobros... The Nephilim giant has caused all this havoc?"

"But there is much worse. He has used the magic of the Valley of the Necromancer to manifest ancient dark forces and spread them like a plague in the forests of Nadavan. Thousands of trees have died, Gervin. The elves and the fairies who escaped Bobros' black clouds have all fled from the county. If it continues like this, there will be nothing left of Nadavan. The entire area is becoming a desolate wasteland of dead wood and barren rocky ground. And two months ago, a plague broke out in Eisraim city, killing hundreds of people. It has created panic in all the cities of the neighbouring counties. It strikes people suddenly and causes violent fits of convulsions. And it kills them after a few hours of shivering in terror."

"Has there been any outbreak of this pestilence in our temple?"

"No, not yet. But in the northern part of the county, around Eisraim city, it is spreading very fast."

"What does Orest of the Brown Robe say?"

"Three weeks ago, the prince of Eisraim came to the temple in person for a meeting with Orest. The day after, Orest left for the forest of Nadavan, taking Ran Gereset, Esrevin and Melchard with him."

"This sounds very serious! Have you heard from Orest since then?"

"Five days ago, he sent me a message saying he wanted you to join him as soon as possible. He is waiting for you with Esrevin and Ran Gereset at the ford of Erriba, in the northern part of Nadavan."

"As soon as possible?" Gervin paused.

"Within reasonable limits, Gervin!" Marka quickly added. She knew what irresistible fire drove Gervin when it came to serving his master.

Reasonable limits and Thunder had never gone together well.

Gervin now knew for sure this was not the right moment to take Marka's hand. "And what about you, my good Marka?" he inquired. "What has been happening to you in the last months?"

Marka's eyes shone with the inspired Light of her angel. "Gervin, Gervin... something wonderful has happened. I have applied for the high priesthood of my order and received a favourable response from the
oracle!"

"Are you going to become a high priestess of Malchasek?" Gervin's eyes opened wider.

"Yes, Gervin!" she answered joyfully. "The first of the three vows has already been spoken."

This meant she would never be married.

Gervin turned his head and bit his lip, thus breaking the promise he had made to himself with the Fault of Eternity as his witness.

Sensing his immense disappointment, Marka exclaimed, "Gervin, but... Do you mean..." In a second she understood. She was shattered.

Marka was a person of great humility. She looked up to Gervin as a shining warrior of the Spirit, destined for the highest functions in Eisraim. Despite his young age, he was already a famous healer, doctor of the Law, and a teacher of several occult arts. Three times, the prince of Eisraim had asked him to become one of his ministers. Each time Gervin had declined, preferring to serve his teacher Orest, the kingdom-famous Grand Master of Thunder whose rare public appearances attracted crowds of pilgrims. Never had Marka suspected that a man like Gervin, Orest's heart disciple and close friend, could have wanted her. He was the most beautiful man she had ever met.

She looked at the fine, curly blond hair that had grown down to his shoulders while he was asleep, the noble beard she had trimmed a few days earlier, the high forehead of a man of the north, and the shining grey-green eyes which she had remembered every day of the last thirty-two weeks. Suddenly, his body was no longer that of a child under her care.

The beautiful light in her eyes dimmed, and she cried.

Devastated, Gervin didn't know what to say. Marka had been his friend and confidant for more than four years. She had not only been a constant support but also a source of inspiration for him, and he had come to admire her so much that he had elected to give up his passion for celibacy, judging that her company would make him a better man. One hundred times in the last year he had nearly taken her hand. But he had wanted to be wise, and avoid rushing like a young fool in the Law, and choose the best possible moment. Now that he had lost her, he found it difficult to believe he could have been so stupid.

Marka was shocked by the cruel reality. "Would you have wanted me, Gervin?" she asked in an uncertain voice.

Gervin shrugged his shoulders. Her first vow had been spoken. It could not be withdrawn.

But certain things in life are too important to remain unspoken. Marka needed to hear it from him. "Gervin, please, answer me. Would you have wanted me?"

Drawing from the high fountain of Thunder, Gervin brought down an infinite softness into the room. "Marka, wise woman, let me tell you something that Orest taught me a few years ago, when he announced that he would initiate me as a Master of Thunder. He warned that during the nine months which separated me from the initiation, many alluring offers would be made to me, and a number of circumstances would concur to try and pull me away from my destiny in the Brown Robe. �Make no mistake,' Orest said, �these are temptations coming from the Prince of Darkness.' One week later I was approached by a representative of His Supreme Majesty the King of Atlantis, offering me a high office at the royal palace. This was only the beginning. At one stage the Prince of Darkness even sent one of his emissaries, Aphelion, to put a mind-boggling proposition to me," Gervin paused, remembering the dreadful episode that had nearly cost him his life. "Marka, perhaps this is happening to you at the moment. I would hate to be the one sent to you by the Prince of Darkness to take you away from Malchasek."

"Gervin, I promise I will never mention this again if you do not want me to. But, please! I need to hear this from you. Would you..." Marka hesitated.

"Of course I want you. I love you, Marka. I can't imagine a better husband for you than Malchasek. But if it hadn't been him, I would have been proud to take your hand."


1.3 The man who granted a personal favour to Barkhan Seer

"Nadavan, what has happened to you?" Gervin cried.

Erriba, like the rest of the forest, had been ravaged. Gervin could hardly believe his eyes. The friendly woods where he had often come to seek inspiration, to listen to spirits of wise trees and chat with the frivolous pixies, had turned into a landscape of death. Every single stream had dried up. The lakes had vanished, as if sucked from below by some insatiable creature of hell. The leafless trees stood in shock, erect and with all their branches, not having yet realised they were dead. Gnomes, undines, elves, fairies, pixies, spirits of precious herbs, all had taken off, leaving behind them a parched ground devoid of any grasses. New crevasses were appearing by the hour, releasing noxious fumes that smelled like the filth of the Underworld and thickened the mists with dark, ominous hues.

When Gervin arrived at the ford of Erriba, he saw from a distance a silhouette clad in the hooded, dark-brown gown of the Masters of Thunder.

He hurried, wondering which of his companions was waiting for him. But as he came closer, he realised that the man was too tall to be either Ran Gereset or Esrevin, or even Orest.

Gervin was surprised. There were less than ten Masters of Thunder in the entire kingdom, whom he all knew well, and none as tall as this stranger. Yet the man wore the characteristic brown gown, and his energy was sealed with the unmistakable symbols of Thunder. His light was shining bright – a warm aura of pure, liquid gold that contrasted with the black desolation of the forest.

As Gervin approached, the broad-shouldered man pushed his hood back revealing a square face, short black hair and a short curly beard. "Praise the Great Apollo, Gervin, Master of Thunder!" his greeting was delivered in a deep, melodious voice.

"Who are you, man of the Law?"

"My name is Barkhan Seer, young man. Your master, Orest, sent me to meet you and take you where he is waiting for you in the company of Esrevin, Ran Gereset, and several of our brothers."

"Barkhan Seer!" Gervin laughed with amazement, for his teacher had taught him the superior value of laughing when one is surprised, or happy, or disappointed, or appointed by destiny. "But I thought you lived in the spheres of Highness!"

"I do. But today I reveal myself to you."

Twinging his beard – thank God, Marka hadn't cut it too short! – Gervin took a closer look at the apparition from Highness. Barkhan Seer looked like a man, but his features were incredibly finely wrought, and he shone with a light that felt strangely familiar.

"This light which is with you..." Gervin exclaimed thoughtfully, "it has come to visit me many times before, hasn't it?"

"Many times, yes."

"All glory to the teacher!" Gervin joined his hands in front of his heart, remembering in a flash some of the difficult situations when the light had supported him. One of the most spectacular had taken place six years earlier, in the mountains of the county of Perentie, when Gervin had been caught in an avalanche. Barkhan Seer's light had pushed him violently into a small crevasse, saving him from being crushed by a huge boulder that was rolling down the hill. But Barkhan Seer's interventions had not all been so dramatic. In many simple situations of daily life, his beautiful light had inspired Gervin and warmed his Spirit.

"What gives me the immense privilege of your presence today, Master Barkhan Seer?" Gervin asked with sincere reverence.

"I have come to take part in an important ceremony which is to take place in the coming hours. And I need to speak to you, Gervin."

"An important ceremony?" From his knowingness of Thunder, Gervin immediately hated the sound of this announcement. "What ceremony?"

"We are going to put an end to the obscene black magic of Bobros, son of Bobros. Let us go." Barkhan Seer took Gervin's arm, and he started walking on what used to be a lovely path in the wood, now a track of jagged pebbles surrounded by terrorised rocks and skeletons of trees. Gervin walked by his side, remembering the splendour that was Nadavan, and sending loving, pacifying thoughts to the rocks.

"I believe the Flying Dragons have spoken to you about the White Eagle, Gervin."

"I hope I didn't make a blunder by engaging the Word of Thunder and promising to protect this order without knowing a thing about it."

"Not at all!" Barkhan Seer replied with the unique sweetness of those who are mighty among the mighty. "Had you said no, I would have had to materialise myself in the spheres of remoteness instantly and explain to our Flying Dragon friends that their nebulas of supermental light had stupefied your judgement, and that what you meant to say was yes. Plain yes, and yes, thank you."

"So is this what it takes to obtain the privilege of your divine intervention, Barkhan Seer: a cosmic blunder?" Gervin smiled. "No wonder I have felt your presence around me so many times in the past!"

"Not a good direction to pursue!" Barkhan Seer laughed, gently slapping Gervin's shoulder.

"Will you tell me about the White Eagle you will direct to me?" Gervin asked.

"A great saint, she is. And a knower of the powerful magic of the Ancient Days of the Earth. You will learn a lot from her, but first you will have to train her."

"What is her name?"

"Teyani." Barkhan Seer pronounced the name affectionately, and with a touch of deference.

"Lady Teyani of the White Eagle. In which temple does she live?"

"Well, this is part of our problem, son. Little Teyani, who lives far away in the western shores of the kingdom, is only nine years old. She is not yet part of a temple, and she has never heard of the White Eagle – apart from dreams, of course, for the Eagle visits her every night."

"Would you like me to go and find the child, Barkhan Seer? Shall I bring her to Eisraim?"

"No, this is not what the gods have decided. She will have to find the order of the White Eagle first, and join a temple where she will receive her preliminary initiations. This will probably take some years. Then she will have to find you by herself. Of course, I will help her a lawful little bit. But the gods have insisted that she should first undergo certain trials that will fortify her soul and help recover the unique strength of character that was hers in former lives."

"So what am I to do?"

"Let her come to you. As I have said, I will help, as much as the gods permit. Then you must teach her. Give her as much knowledge and power as you possibly can. And let her create a beautiful nest for herself and her Eagles in the temple of Eisraim."

Barkhan Seer stopped walking. Pointing to Gervin's heart with the index finger of his large hand, he plunged his fiery black eyes into him and added, "And more than anything else, Gervin, be her friend!" The tall man paused, then gently hammered, "Her teacher, her father, and her friend! Gervin, I am asking this from you as a personal favour: not just because of the Flying Dragons, but for me, will you please take care of Teyani?"

Surprised by the solemn tone of the request, Gervin closed his eyes for a second. Then his thunderous gaze met Barkhan Seer's, "My Word of Thunder. I will take care of Teyani."

"Thank you, friend," Barkhan Seer answered softly, as if from high in the spheres.

The two men started walking again. For a long time they remained silent, enjoying the deep space of compassion which Barkhan Seer had created by not speaking an order but by humbly requesting a favour, and the friendship that Gervin had started by giving his word with total sincerity.

As they were passing a small pond which the beast of the Underworld had forgotten to suck dry, Barkhan Seer declared in a joyful voice, "By the way, Gervin, I will send you a present with Teyani!"

"A present?" Gervin smiled with curiosity. No doubt a present from Barkhan Seer would be special.

"A little boy."

Gervin frowned, slightly worried at the idea of all these children who were on their way to him.

Reading his thoughts, Barkhan Seer burst out laughing. "And the Flying Dragons will send you another one, but later."

"Another present, or another little boy?" Gervin asked with a touch of concern, as he suddenly saw his family swelling out of all proportion.

"Both!" Barkhan Seer teased him, laughing.

"What a beautiful mother Marka would have been for these children," Gervin thought to himself as they passed the remnants of a huge fig tree. Breaking under their own weight, all the main branches had collapsed, leaving a shaven totem pointing to heaven like a finger in reproach.

Barkhan Seer felt Gervin's grief. "Are you drinking bitter herbs, friend?"

"I guess I am." Gervin did not try to hide the wave of sorrow that was welling in his chest.

"Will you tell me more?"

Gervin shrugged his shoulders. "For years, I have heard Orest repeat this principle of Thunder, �Truth can't wait!' and I thought I did my best to live up to it. But in one set of circumstances, I forgot to apply the holy principle." He sighed deeply, "And now that I have lost a treasure, I can't blame anyone but myself, can I?"

"There is not much that can be done about this, friend. The past cannot be changed. Better think about building the future."

Gervin thought of asking Barkhan Seer a question, but decided it was futile and kept silent, contemplating the carcass of a deer rotting by the side of the path. Bobros' black art had done so well that no birds of prey were left to clean up the dead meat. Directing his gaze to the other side of the path, Gervin saw more carcasses. One of them still stood on its four legs, so sudden had been the pounding of death. Looking up, Gervin smelled the stench that hung in the mists. As he realised the question would not let go of him, he turned to his friend, "Barkhan Seer, knower of past, present and future events, would you do me a great favour?"

"What?"

"Answer a question for me. Was it bound to be, and planned by the Lords of Destiny, and wanted by the gods, that Marka should become a high priestess of Malchasek rather than Gervin's wife?"

"No, it was not," the omniscient sage replied, matter-of-fact. "Had you asked her in time, Marka would have become your wife."

Gervin pushed his lips forward and nodded. What Barkhan Seer had said, he already knew very well. But for some strange reason he felt better after hearing it. "How could I be such a sleeper?" he blamed himself. But in the desperate dryness of the forest, he found it impossible to cry.

Barkhan Seer's presence of liquid gold came towards him. It did not erase the sorrow, but it added a depth of Spirit to it.

"Will you tell me what bitter herbs are waiting for me at this ceremony you are taking me to?"

"No bitter herbs, Gervin. Only the unavoidable changes that accompany the passing of time."

Barkhan Seer had spoken with so much softness that Gervin immediately guessed. He stopped, closed his eyes and took his head in his hands, "Oh, no! You are not going to tell me that Orest is about to leave his body?"

Barkhan Seer put his hand on Gervin's shoulder, shining the infinite compassion of the Mother of the Light into him. He waited a few seconds and said, "Only a Great Sacrifice will stop the tidal wave of dark forces that Bobros the giant has unleashed from the Valley of the Necromancer. Orest must now give his life, that a massive clearing be performed and the evil magic sent back into the abyss."

In the fields of stars, on his way back from the Flying Dragons, Gervin had sung a hymn to the Great Mother for having given him a teacher like Orest and a friend like Marka. As he sang, the Great Mother had smiled, for she could feel how strong his love for them was.

Having lost one, Gervin was now about to lose the other. For one second, his consciousness was back in the infinity of space, and he looked down to the kingdom, wondering if he wanted to be part of a world where Orest would be no longer, and Marka would be locked in a cell of the tower of Malchasek.

"Gervin," Barkhan Seer called him back, "this is not all. As Orest, Grand Master of Thunder, departs for the Fields of Peace, he must be replaced by a new Thunderbolt Bearer. You are the one, Gervin."

Heard from the fields of stars, where gigantic clouds of light and colourful nebulae drifted mindlessly under the watchful eye of Space Matrix, the news sounded innocuous enough. But when he found himself back in his body and heard it a second time, Gervin was appalled. Until then, he had often thought that the high office of Grand Master of Thunder was wondrous, like a vast sacred crypt with doors open to all the mysteries of the creation. But now he realised the solitude that awaited him in the crypt.

The mists had thickened around the two men. Because of Nature's grief, twilight brought no reddish hues, only darkness.

"Is there no chance I could depart with Master Orest, and follow him into the Fields of Peace?" Gervin asked tentatively.

"We need you here, Gervin. A monumental task awaits you, a work with far-reaching consequences. Dramatic changes are about to take place in the kingdom, so much so that our lineage will have to withdraw into the Fields of Peace. You will be the last of the Thunderbolt Bearers in the kingdom for a long, long time. You are the one we have chosen to secure the transition, and the transfer to the Fields of Peace of an immense archive where the Atlantean lore will be kept."

Gervin nodded, contemplating the still, thickening mists.


1.4 The Great Sacrifice of the Thunderbolt Bearer

Barkhan Seer and Gervin arrived at the plain of Erriba with the first light of dawn. There, an extraordinary vision was waiting for them.

A great fire had been lit. Behind it, Orest was sitting in meditation, his eyes closed, his head covered with the hood of his brown gown. Gervin immediately recognised him by his long, curly, silvery-grey beard and the special light in his aura. Ran Gereset, his son, was meditating on his right, Esrevin and young Melchard, two other brother-disciples of Gervin, were on his left.

Orest, Grand Master of Thunder, had engaged all his power. Chanting ancient hymns of the Law, he had awakened a huge column of light which started in the pyre and ascended high in the sky, where it disappeared into the grey mists. The majestic obelisk of light stood erect like a gigantic lightning rod, ready to convey Orest's offering to the sky of the gods.

But the most incredible part of the scene was the assembly of one hundred Masters of Thunder who had descended from the spheres to take part in the sacrifice and the installation ceremony of the new Thunderbolt Bearer. Never in the kingdom had Gervin contemplated so much power. Dressed in their long brown robes, they stood still, and silent, forming two rows which delineated a broad alley starting from the pyre. They faced each other. The space between them turned into a corridor of mind-boggling shimmers and fast-moving lights of all colours.

"Oh, my God!" Gervin shed tears of awe.

"These are some of the Thunderbolt Bearers who preceded you, Gervin. Each of them was a Grand Master of Thunder." Barkhan Seer slowly led Gervin to the entrance of the illuminated alley. "They have come to communicate their powers to you."

The plain of Erriba was a large, flat empty space with no trees. Where it had been green and lush, now it was grey and barren. In this unreal landscape rendered even more eerie by the complete silence and the uncertain glimmers of dawn, Gervin found himself at the entrance of a temple of light. At the other end of the alley stood the shining obelisk rooted in the fire, with Orest behind it.

Now that he had taken his position for the ritual, Gervin could no longer see Orest. But Orest enveloped him with his presence and his love, and he spoke to him through the space, "Gervin, my child in Thunder and dear friend, the great day has arrived."

"All glory to the teacher!" Gervin gave his thanks as he always did when he met his master. But this time he did not say the words joyfully. Not yet adjusted to the unexpected turn of destiny, his heart was heavy. "I wish I could be stronger, Orest. There is not one thing in the world I could want more than to be capable of conducting this sacrifice instead of you, that my life might be given to negate the magic of Bobros, and your precious life not wasted. This kingdom is going to be so sad and empty without you. And so dull."

"Gervin, shining soul, you could very well have performed this sacrifice instead of me, and reduced Bobros to ashes of oblivion by your own Great Sacrifice. But by leaving my body today, I will take advantage of these unfortunate circumstances to achieve a massive transfer of forces into you. The evil elemental slime that Bobros has spread across our county will be my offering to the sky of the gods, feeding the greatest fire ritual I have ever conducted. Aided by these one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers, I am going to shake the sky of the gods, Gervin. Let me tell you, the gods will remember this! And by tonight, so much power will have been concentrated into your thunderwand that nothing in the kingdom will be able to stand in your way. And you will need this power, Gervin! At the end of the great task which the Masters of Thunder have prepared for you, you will have to perform a ritual of even greater significance and magnitude than this one: the Archive transfer."

"Who better than you could perform a ritual as important as this, Orest?"

"Gervin, your time has come. Now it is up to you, Ran Gereset, Esrevin and the others to carry out the task. And that task will be enormous. Preparing the fields for the Archive transfer will take you at least twenty years. I am not leaving you an easy legacy, my friend. But I trust you will succeed. You have what it takes. And from the Fields of Peace, I will be with you all the way through. Besides this, you will be the most invested Thunderbolt Bearer ever.

Look in front of you, Gervin! At sunset, when you walk the corridor of light, all these great sages will ignite your thunderwand with their powers, and by the time you reach the pyre, I will be lucky if there is still one thing I can give you that you will not have already received."

The light in the corridor had become brighter. Against a background of moonlight-silver, pink-quartz and dark-sapphire hues, white-blue lightning-like shafts zapped wildly from one Master of Thunder to the other. The glow seemed so solid, and the shimmering waves so tempestuous that Gervin wondered if he would have to fight his way through the light.

"Gervin, there are many things I would have liked to tell you, but the time is coming. After the ritual, Barkhan Seer will give you all the instructions you need. Farewell, my friend in the Law, and thank you for being who you are. You have given me great joy."

"All glory to the teacher!"

"Glory to the God who was in the beginning, who is, and who shall be! We shall meet again in the Fields of Peace."

"You stay still and do nothing," Barkhan Seer whispered into Gervin's ear. "Your role begins at sunset."

Orest was the first one to chant. He intoned a slow, low-pitched recitation of one of the most ancient hymns of the Law, which praised the Mother of the Light for having initiated the creation. Concurrently, he threw ashes into the fire, and drew with his consciousness a whisk of the dark energies that Bobros had spread through Nadavan and beyond. The little black cloud moved up into the obelisk of light and vanished.

One of the greatest clearing rituals of all times had begun.

Two days' walk from there, in the gloomy heart of the Valley of the Necromancer, Bobros the giant, whose vision was great, sensed that a fire ritual was under way. He shrugged one huge shoulder in contempt. Considering the tidal wave of black sludge that he had made the valley vomit onto the county, this clearing was no great threat to his evil plans. At their present pace, the brown piglets – as he called the Masters of Thunder whose gathering he was observing in his third eye – would need more than a year to clear just the plain of Erriba.

At the second hymn, Ran Gereset, Esrevin and Melchard joined voices with Orest. The four men pulled small clouds of Bobros' dark influence into the column of light.

But at the third hymn, everything changed. Following Barkhan Seer, the one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers started projecting the Voice. An awesome sound was released as expansive waves of incandescent energies poured from their mouths.

The glow in the corridor went from bright to blinding. The obelisk of light tripled in width, and ugly clouds of black smoke were drawn into it by the power of the hymns.

Down in the Valley of the Necromancer, Bobros frowned. He dropped the piece of raw meat he was eating for breakfast and watched with curiosity to see what would happen to the strange column of light, once attacked by his black smoke. To Bobros' dismay, it soon appeared that instead of being dimmed, the obelisk was becoming brighter by the minute.

On the plain of Erriba, the deluge of Voice resounded unabated. The chanted hymns, rendered alive by the power of the Voice, seemed insatiable. They swallowed larger and larger clouds of black energy and consumed them in the fire of the obelisk, sending them up as an offering to the sky of the gods. Soon the column of light became so wide that Orest and his disciples were engulfed by it, and it kept growing until it encompassed the entire alley and the one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers, Barkhan Seer and Gervin with them.

United in the light, they projected the Voice relentlessly.

It was not yet eight in the morning.

Bobros, worried, withdrew into his cave and started preparing his defence.

In the temple of Eisraim, Marka had been the first to sense the seismic waves of light coming from the clearing in Erriba. In her small cell in the tower of Malchasek, the air was thick with sorrow, for she had been crying all night, and the day before, and the night before that. But as soon as the Thunderbolt Bearers started projecting the Voice, the room shone with white light, and she felt Gervin's presence with her. Through the space, she tried to call him. In response, the light became brighter, and Gervin's presence became stronger. No words were exchanged. But the force was so intense, and the imprint in the space so clear, that not once in the coming thirty-four years that Marka spent meditating and praying in that room, did Gervin's presence disappear. It remained with her and constantly supported her, not just in the first years, when she fought against herself not to run away and throw herself in the arms of the man she could not forget, but also in the last years, when the deterioration of the energy fields in Atlantis became such that Malchasek's light could hardly be felt any longer, and his high priestesses started dying one after the other from despair and from boredom.

That morning, a few chapels away from the tower of Malchasek, Mouridji the prophetess caught the vision of the obelisk of light, and she heard the Voice of the Thunderbolt Bearers. "Oh my Lord Melchisedek! Luciana!" she called her young friend, "Luciana! Go and tell them, quick!"

"Hey?" Luciana of the Green Robe had fallen asleep in her meditation. She rubbed her eyes. "Tell who, Mouridji?"

"Everyone, Luciana, tell everyone! And tell them to send a message to the temple of Lasseera immediately. But tell them to keep it very quiet. It's probably a secret ceremony."

"But tell them what?"

"Orest of the Brown Robe is transmitting his power to Gervin! All his power! Everything! It might even end up in a Great Sacrifice." And from her prophetic vision the little priestess added, "And then Gervin will have to go and challenge Bobros the giant, and one of them will die!"

Mouridji of the Purple Robe, whose gossip was a central part of the communication system in Eisraim, sent messages through the space to all her friends, who in turn warned their friends, and in a matter of minutes all the priests and priestesses of Eisraim knew. The cooks dropped their saucepans, the gardeners their bags of seeds, and the masons left their construction sites. All converged to the chapels and sat still and silent. And those priests whose normal function was to sit still in their chapel sat stiller and more silently. The cows, who were always extremely sensitive to the spiritual vibrations of the temple, refrained from mooing. In the small lake outside the first hall of Melchisedek, the swans became still too, and the fishes swam cautiously. In this cosmic hush they all tuned into the gigantic clearing from a distance, and they received the light.

By the end of the morning, so much of Bobros' evil slime had been offered to the sky of the gods that in Eisraim city, the heavy atmosphere of fear and despair which the pestilence had created began to clear. Some of those who had fallen ill the night before stopped convulsing and they woke up, stunned at still being alive. Many of them even wondered if perhaps they were dead, after all, and when they returned to their normal activities they looked at each other suspiciously, unsure whether they were surrounded by ghosts, but not daring to ask, in case they themselves were the ghosts among the living.

When noon came, the forests of Nadavan had been entirely cleared. The first birds had returned. In some areas it had even started to rain again.

Bobros, furious to see the clearing ritual so successful, launched a massive counteroffensive. He did not waste any time with lower forms of magic. He went straight to the Abysmal Crevasse, which lay close to the marshes outside his cave. There, long ago, when the kingdom was still young, Harmag the Necromancer, a son of Azazel the Watcher, had called on the ominous powers which had made the valley turn dark, and the nature spirits evil, and the mists thick and menacing, and the landscape atrociously gloomy and full of shadows and visions of hell – after which the valley had been known as the Valley of the Necromancer.

Bobros, who believed he was the descendant of Harmag the Necromancer through a long line of Nephilim giants, raised defiant hands towards heaven and turned his head down to the abyss. Using the Voice, he mumbled a mysterious invocation which he had not learnt from Bobros his father but from Bobros his great-grandfather, and which former giants of the Bobros lineage had passed on from generation to generation, perhaps ever since the time of Harmag himself. The dark vibrations of death began pouring out of his mouth, evoking an instant response. The crevasse vomited a flood of slime, and the valley instantly turned darker. Furious winds swept the marshes, to the jubilant delight of the evil nature spirits who, ever since the time of Harmag, had been completely out of their minds and rejoiced only when they smelled a disaster on its way. Soon an ominous umbra overtook the entire area of Nadavan, frightening away the birds that had ventured back, and drying out the first rains.

High above, the denizens of the worlds of the gods looked down to the kingdom and watched with interest, but also with some degree of alarm. The forces that Bobros the giant was releasing were so powerful that they could easily get out of control, flooding the entire kingdom with pitch-black sludge and upsetting the balance of the spheres.

Down in the kingdom, in the citadel which the Nephilim giants had built for themselves on top of steep cliffs at the extreme end of the Eastern Peninsula, so as to proudly receive the first sunrays that swept the kingdom every day, the word soon spread that Bobros the Necromancer was enraged, and about to engage in a duel of magic. The giants, tuning into the powerful fields of energy which allowed them to spy on just about anything in the kingdom, held their breath and watched, wondering who would emerge victorious out of this titanic confrontation.

Neither above nor below, but from the nowhereness where he forever dwells, Ahriman, the Prince of Darkness, also watched with interest, ready to strike like a beast of prey hidden in the night. Like the gods, he knew well that Bobros could lose control over the forces he had unleashed. Were this to happen, he would be washed away, and the aphotic tidal-wave of black slime would present a perfect opportunity for Ahriman to launch a devastating attack on the kingdom, spreading plagues, wars and chaos.

In the plain of Erriba, the column of light had become so wide that it not only comprehended the alley and the one hundred Masters of Thunder, but the entire plain itself, and some of the surrounding forests. When they heard the abyss resounding with the evil clamour and when they saw the horrendous filth erupting out of the depths, the Thunderbolt Bearers raised their Voices. Together, they projected the Word of Thunder, which is the Voice of the Earth and the highest power of the sky of the gods.

It was awesome, unthinkable. Trembling from her own Will, the Earth shook, again and again. And from higher up than the gods, lightning struck the obelisk which by now had become a gigantic flame of light, visible from all the spheres. And the hymns of the Law, rendered ever more hungry by so much fire, started swallowing the darkness that was covering Nadavan.

Bobros too raised his Voice, and from the abyss he called on the dregs at the end of time, and on the endless darkness that is to engulf all things at the end, when everything is accomplished, or much earlier, if the dark side can win.

Above the clouds, the gods frowned, wondering if they had been careless in letting things go so far.

Far in the east of the kingdom, the Nephilim giants shouted cheers of encouragement which Bobros never heard, so loud was his own shouting while he drew sludge from the abyss.

Ahriman, cold, impassive, precise, kept observing.

The Abysmal Crevasse which Bobros had invoked was turning into a volcano of doom, spilling darkness instead of lava. Proud of his works, Bobros laughed, convinced not one power in the creation could resist him.

But the insatiable hymns of the Law swallowed the darkness as soon as it came out of the volcano, converting it into an offering of light which ascended through the obelisk.

Bobros, pulling with all the strength of his kidney and calling on all the necromancers of his lineage for help, drew yet more darkness from the abyss. But the more soot he manifested, the hungrier the hymns of the Thunderbolt Bearers became, and the more darkness was converted into light.

Bobros saw that the light was gaining the edge, slowly but surely, and in terror he realised that Orest's clearing could result not only in stopping the plague he had caused, but also in cleaning up the entire Valley of the Necromancer. In a glimpse, he saw himself becoming the shame of his lineage, the destroyer of the beauty of black arts that Harmag had created, and which had lasted ever since then.

Seeing that time was working against him, and knowing from his prophetic sight that Orest had vowed to leave his body at sunset, Bobros sought recourse to an ancient device of magic. It was a trick that his ancestors had used in the distant past, when many more things used to be possible on Earth, and time was nowhere near as rigid as it had become with time. Bobros, son of Bobros, tried to speed up the course of the Sun, to make twilight arrive early.

This was his fatal mistake.

The magic charms which, long ago, could control time, had long ceased to have the predictable effects they had had in the time of Harmag. The truth was, time, the destroyer of all things, had long since destroyed its own magic. Bobros had hardly spoken his dangerous formula when a tremulousness of all things made itself felt in the Valley of the Necromancer.

The gods held their breath.

The Nephilim giants of the Eastern Peninsula became pale.

Ahriman smiled.

The Abysmal Crevasse became hesitant, as if taken by self-doubts. The soot it vomited not only dropped in volume, but it too seemed to be unsure as to whether it really existed. The evil enthusiasm of the valley and the orgasmic frenzy that animated the perverted nature spirits looked at each other in disbelief. The ghastly winds wavered, uncertain in which direction to blow. Bobros, rendered incredulous by his own spell, wondered whether all this was really happening.

But in a flash he realised that a complete disaster was imminent. He caught sight of a wave of destruction that respected nothing, not even itself, and therefore threatened everything with extinction, including himself.

Drawing on all his power and might, he howled with the Voice to seal the crevasse and to stop everything before the unstoppable was unleashed.

For a minute or two, the entire Valley of the Necromancer wobbled, while groaning bubbles plopped from the marshes.

Then the spell vanished, and an uncannily peaceful silence followed. For one second the valley recovered its former self, when it was lush and joyful, and when happy cattle used to graze on its rolling slopes.

"Oh, shit!" Bobros exclaimed.

In a desperate attempt to restore darkness, he turned towards the Abysmal Crevasse, "Harmag! Harmag! I call onto your venom!" and he held the spirits of his valley, repelling the light with every fibre of his being.

"Harmag! Harmag!"

He plunged his consciousness into the chasm, resolute to reach the bottom of the pit – that mysterious domain where darkness and light are one, all powers are comprehended, and all things are possible.

Tightening every muscle of his huge body and squeezing his kidneys for strength, he furiously invoked, "Harmag! Harmag!"

From the depths of the abyss, a hungry hissing breath of infinite darkness responded, enveloping him, inviting him into the pit.

So great was the pull, so irresistible the charm, that Bobros threw himself into the arms of his beloved evil night.

He jumped into the Abysmal Crevasse.

He sacrificed himself, releasing into the valley the fruits of his life-long necromantic passion for the dark side. The mists were thickened with his venom, the spirits of nature were fed with his wrath.

The furtive glimpse of light vanished. Doom and gloom were back.

The Valley of the Necromancer lived.

Meanwhile, the formidable power of the Thunderbolt Bearers went on consuming the evil sludge, the tension rising so high that in less than three minutes, all the darkness that Bobros had spread was neutralised. Nadavan was completely cleared, the plague of Eisraim destroyed, and all traces of Bobros' evil influence had disappeared from the county.

When Orest saw that the power of the hymns was about to attack the darkness of the Valley of the Necromancer, he raised his hand and stopped the ritual, for he was wise and knew that all things have their place in the world. The valley was the keeper of ancient forces, and deserved respect for the uniqueness of its energy. Victory was total, in any case. There was nothing left of the foul vibrations with which Bobros had thought he could poison Eisraim and its neighbouring counties.

The Thunderbolt Bearers became silent.

In the heavens the celestial beings applauded and sung astonishing hymns, ready to receive Orest like a hero among gods and men.

In the Eastern Peninsula, the giants, enraged at seeing one of their champions defeated, roared their fury and swore revenge.

Nowhere, Ahriman shrugged his shoulders, unconcerned, and resumed his tasks of endless darkness.

"We won, Luciana! A triumph!" Mouridji the prophetess hurrahed.

Luciana, unsure of what exactly had been won, but taken by an irresistible feeling of victory, stood up and clapped her hands, and all the priestesses in the chapel followed her. They laughed loudly, and congratulated each other.

Thanks to Mouridji, the word soon reached all the other chapels of the temple of Eisraim, and everyone acclaimed Orest of the Brown Robe for what was to be remembered as �the Clearing of Erriba'.


1.5 The creation myth of the Thunderbolt Bearers

Sunset had finally arrived.

The incandescent obelisk had regained its original size, but the entire plain of Erriba was still inundated with white light.

The one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers stood silent and motionless like pillars of light, their auras ablaze with the unfathomable energy unleashed by the Word of Thunder.

Gervin, Barkhan Seer by his side, stood at the entrance of the corridor of light, with the fire and the obelisk at the other end, and Orest meditating behind the fire.

"Now!" Barkhan Seer gave the signal, touching Gervin's shoulder.

Gervin turned his head towards him briefly, saying farewell with his eyes. Truly, he was bidding farewell to himself. He knew that as soon as he entered the corridor, he would never be the same again.

Three steps separated Gervin from the corridor of light and the mysteries of the Thunderbolt Bearers.

He took the first step, whispering the verse of the Law, "One Law, one way! He who never sleeps, never dies!"

Then the second step.

From the tower of Malchasek, Marka heard the farewell. She surrendered to the High Light of her angel and whispered back, "Farewell, beautiful man!"

Far away in the north, close to the great lake of the county of Perentie, an old, wrinkled woman remembered the son who had left her long ago, and she cried. She called her husband, "Arvin of the Law! Gervin is dying! Our son is dying, we'll never see him again." Old Arvin bit his lip – a habit he had caught from his father and cultivated through a long life of disappointments – and he prayed the good Lord Melchisedek had mercy on his son. He had been such a good boy, and smart, when he was little. "Why the Underworld did he want to travel and follow that damn brown monk?" Arvin puzzled once more. "Such a waste! He could have been so happy as a ferryman, with me and his uncle." And he sighed, his eyes fixed on the smoky fire at the centre of the one-room shack of mud bricks, pondering on the wonderful opportunities missed, and the good life Gervin could have had if only he had listened to the wisdom of his father.

In a chapel of the female wing of the temple of Eisraim, Mouridji of the Purple Robe was shocked out of her meditation by one of the brightest visions she had ever received. "Luciana!" she whispered in her prophetic voice, her eyes half closed, astonished by what she was seeing. "Go and tell them!"

"What, Mouridji?"

"They're going to throw Gervin into the fire!"

"Who?" Luciana froze in terror. "The Nephilim giants?"

"No, Orest and his friends. Oh, my God! If Gervin survives that, then... then... Oh, my God!" Mouridji was interrupted by another vision, coming from the world of the gods. "And tell them that the gods..." she started saying, but a celestial providence shut her up.

Far above, in the sky of the gods, the Sons of Apollo stopped their flight and directed their blazing gaze to the plain of Erriba.

Much, much further away, beyond the fields of stars and the mysterious Fault of Eternity, spread in an infinity of superimposed spaces and lateral realities, a Flying Dragon heard Gervin's farewell. "Welcome to eternity, friend of the human hierarchy," went the whisper.

And the Mother of the Light smiled.

Gervin took the third step.

As he entered the corridor, all light disappeared, and the obelisk of fire, and the one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers.


He saw but darkness, surrounded by darkness,
As it was before the beginning,
When the creation had not yet begun,
And time had not yet started its course.
There was neither left nor right, neither top nor bottom,
Neither death nor immortality.
In an uncontained voidness,
A fluid breath of nothingness swept a naught-dimensional space,
A womb-ness of times to come,
Where all possible futures were contained as seeds.
In this Noble Chaos, which was both nowhere and everywhere,
A symphony of Voices rose,
Which revealed Life out of darkness,
And prepared for the birth of the light.
The Voices were chanting the Dawn of Creation.
It was the first breath, the first wind.
And there was a centre, and a periphery,
And limits were born, so that infinity could breathe.
And Up looked down, and Down smiled back.
The One had become two,
Ready to desire each other,
But not yet fully aware of how far they would have to go,
And how long it would take
Before they could become One again.
By then, time was already born.
A cosmos of immense complexity had begun:
Myriads of expanding spaces,
Worlds running in all directions,
Spheres revolving around spheres,
And creatures born in all the worlds.
 
The asuras came first, and they were formidable.
Standing on top of the creation, their primordial powers unchallenged,
They shouted loud, amazed at their own glory,
Intoxicated with their own might.
And they became proud and arrogant.
They proclaimed themselves the One God,
Forgetting that their shining lights were but reflections
Of the One Glorious Source to whom they owed their birth.
Thus the asura of life became the asura of death,
The asura of might became the lord of war.
Great angelic lighthouses turned into principles of darkness,
And after them, the blazing light-bearer fell into Lucifer.
And the Ancient of Ancients cursed them,
And shattered their worlds,
And caused a second creation of gods.
Born from the Mother of the Light, the gods woke up in the Molten Sea,
And they sacrificed to the One God,
And the strength of the One God was their strength.
And there were wars in the heavens,
Awesome clashes in which the spheres were set ablaze,
And entire planets shattered into asteroidic pebbles.
Light fought against darkness, gods against asuras,
Angels against titans, Spirits of Truth against fallen angels.
The gods triumphed at the summit of the spheres.
They conquered the nectar of immortality, and its archetypal powers,
Mastered the mathematical magic of the uppermost sky,
And with genius and boldness, repelled their enemies into lower regions.
A safe heaven they made for themselves,
A glorious world of light and fire, the top of a high pyramid of worlds,
Towering upon innumerable other spheres of lesser fire, lesser clarity,
Lesser joy, lesser fun, and marred with mirages, illusion, boredom.
Such was the victory of the gods and it was great and absolute,
But only at the top of the pyramid of the worlds.
Elsewhere, an uncertain and precarious balance remained,
A cosmos of compromise and half-truths which were but flagrant lies,
And where light and darkness kept fighting wars,
But only by proxy, and often in disguise,
And none ever gaining the decisive edge,
Dilly-dallying seemingly endlessly, delaying
The deadly apocalyptic toll of a final, total confrontation.
 
In this established order of clear blurriness,
Human beings were still fast asleep,
Having not yet noticed the cosmic night had ended.
They lay blissfully in the bosom of the gods
And basked in the gods' glorious light,
Which they could not distinguish from the Primordial Darkness.
Spread in a bottomless chasm of forever One-ness, they slept.
They slept a dreamless sleep, a beatific embrace with God,
A soporized ecstasy of transcendental magnitude.
To help them awaken, the gods fashioned a world for them.
A young, fresh, juicy maiden Earth,
An all-fluid virgin, teeming with unbridled life force,
And youthful folly, and strange gigantic beasts, and volcanic wonders.
These were the Ancient Days of the Earth, the early land of Mu,
When every atom was vibrant with magic,
And the breath of the One God breathed through every wind,
And the wet air's warmth was enthused with Cosmic Fire,
And the pregnant ocean remembered the secrets of the Primordial Night.
Few, very few, were those who awoke in the first hour.
They became the great magicians of the Ancient Days,
They commanded over the awesome forces of the young world.
Nature was their enslaved lover, never refusing them a thing,
And they penetrated all her mysteries,
And they stamped her bosom with their spells.
But these magician-conquerors of Nature were but scarce exceptions
In a world where all other human beings were still fast asleep,
Drifting blobs, monotonously fulfilled and hopelessly peaceful,
With no desires, and good food in plenty,
Their needs satisfied before they could even feel them,
Painlessly they dropped blobettes behind them to populate the new world.
And it lasted a long, long time, but they did not wake up.
When the gods sent the call and resounded the trumpets of destiny,
The magician-conquerors heard, and they understood,
And guided by the gods, they left.
But the blobs heard nothing, for they were fast asleep.
And the Earth was shaken, continents rose and others disappeared.
The stupefied Adam-Eve blob became Adam and Eve, naked,
Already desiring each other, but why did it have to hurt so much?
And how far would they have to go, and how long would it take
Before they could find each other again?
The Moon, which by then had just arrived, completely unnoticed,
Knew the secret, and kept it for a distant future.
 
Seeing this rapidly deteriorating world,
In which the winds of God would soon run out of breath,
And sleep had become the antidote to the agonising pain
Of being separated from him, from her, from the Light and from God,
The Lord Melchisedek had mercy.
With his great angels, he manifested a Law,
And the Law was revealed to Manu, and Manu revealed it to men.
The kingdom of Atlantis was born, safely enclosed in womb-like mists.
Set into motion by the Law, the blobs became cobblers, builders,
Fishermen, fathers and mothers, priests and priestesses.
Everyone had a place, a name, a caste, a role, and a destiny.
A language, alive with many powers of the gods, was given to them,
For them to chant the magic hymns of the Law and sacrifice to the gods,
And thus bring kind weather onto themselves, and rains in plenty,
Gorgeous orchards, abundant crops, and healthy offspring.
Through the power of the hymns, the gods were with them,
And the Spirit of the One God breathed in their blood,
That they might slowly awaken, and stop being sleepers.
Tens of thousands of years passed. A glorious civilisation grew,
A large, majestic tree, rooted in the revelation of the Law –
Arts, and lores, and a masterful know-how of all things of Nature,
Phenomenal mastery of etheric forces and plants' growth,
And fields of energy which accomplished all manner of miraculous feats,
And oracles and temples in plenty to celebrate the mysteries.
And tens of thousands of years passed.
But when the Lord Melchisedek looked down to the kingdom,
He saw that the children of His Law had not yet awakened.
Now they were sleeping with their eyes open,
Having turned His wonderful revelation into lengthy codes of rules
Which they repeated like parrots,
While fixed in habits and customs they comfortably slumbered,
A perfection rendered smothering and sterile by so much zeal and faith.
The bold knowledge which He had given them to break new ground,
To step out of the blob stage, and to awaken to the infinity of creation,
They had made a prison, with His high priests the jailers.
The Lord Melchisedek saw the cosmic tragedy and judged
That the time was coming. The prison would have to be shattered,
So a new kingdom could be born.
And moved by compassion for the children of His Law,
He prepared the chaos, and the plagues,
And the deluge that was to destroy the kingdom of Atlantis.

Gervin had arrived in front of the fire and the obelisk of light. In one glimpse he realised the unavoidable fate which awaited the kingdom. He saw cities in flames, ransacked temples, large-scale pillage, famines, and epidemics. More frightening even was the collective insanity which accompanied this tragedy, and which only the final flood would wash away from the surface of the Earth. There followed barbaric times – a world of darkness and desolation, emptied of the presence of the gods, and in which the Law and all the knowledge of the temples were lost.

On the other side of the fire, Orest now stood up, and raised his arms.

Responding to his signal, Barkhan Seer and the one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers once more projected the Word of Thunder.

The obelisk of light exploded, and the plain of Erriba was flooded with white light.

Through the fire, Gervin saw the eyes of Orest.

From the uppermost reaches of the sky of the gods, a shaft of lightning struck.

The flash brought a revelation to Gervin's consciousness: the master plan of the Brown Robe. In the Fields of Peace, the temple of light stood ready to receive the entire knowledge of Eisraim and Lasseera in the form of a phenomenal Archive.

"All glory to the teacher!" he projected with the Word of Thunder, and walked into the fire.

Orest, looking straight into his eyes, joined him in the fire, and a massive transfer of forces was sparked.

Gervin screamed.

And from the uppermost sky, the ultimate summit of the worlds of the gods, he saw the Primordial Night, and the chant of the Dawn of Creation, the superb asuras, the birth of the gods, the wars in heaven, the magicians of the Ancient Days, the Moon leaving the Earth and the blobettes torn asunder, and the Lord Melchisedek, and his Law, and the deluge at the end of the kingdom, and the kingdom of the rainbows after it, and the kingdoms which followed, the true and the false messiahs, the War of All against All, the Knights of the Apocalypse fighting in space, the triumph of the Light, and those left behind, and the maturity of the human hierarchy, when Eve finally found Adam (the Moon had known all along), the spreading in multi-dimensional enlightenment, and the end of time, and the Cosmic Night – all in one second, all in one point.

And he saw the Web of Love which the Lord Melchisedek had woven in His spheres, and it shone far in remoteness.

From beyond the Abyss of the Deep, the Flying Dragon smiled at Gervin and repeated his welcome message, using universal language, "14728 39 23 4 713 4 0 89 72 41 5 7346 3406 873 4 5 96 0243 5 628 4 58 415 83 94 95 3 0 22 09204 358324 35 6495708 56 395 726 4 96 70 18 9 17 4 7 69403858709..."

Mouridji saw, and she remained silent.


1.6 The Archive and the temple in the Fields of Peace

It was late at night. Melchard – Melchard the pure, as Orest used to call him – was sitting on a log at the edge of the plain of Erriba, wondering what would happen to him now that his master had left the kingdom. At the age of nineteen, he was the youngest of the Brown Robe, having been initiated by Orest only nine months earlier. At the time he had thought the initiation ceremony the most incredible of all the rituals performed in the kingdom. Now, he looked back and smiled.

Ran Gereset, his elder by fifteen years, came to sit by his side. He put his hand on his shoulder, "Feeling a bit low?"

"Perhaps."

"After such a high, it's more than normal. Did Barkhan Seer speak to you?" Ran Gereset asked.

Melchard shook his head.

Esrevin was walking towards them, carrying a bundle of dry branches. "Barkhan Seer is coming," he announced. "Let's light a fire. Now the Thunderbolt Bearers have left, it feels much colder down here."

Melchard and Ran Gereset gathered a few more branches, and the fire was soon lit.

"Praise the Great Apollo, Master Barkhan Seer!" Melchard exclaimed with a touch of wonder when he saw the great sage approaching. Barkhan Seer's legend made even the most accomplished of the Masters of Thunder raise their eyebrows in amazement. As foretold in many prophesies, each time he appeared to the kingdom he deeply influenced the fate of the Brown Robe.

"Here are the Masters of Thunder! Praise the Great Apollo, my brothers!" Barkhan Seer saluted the three men in his warm voice. "Let us sit together, if not in the fire as your brethren do when they meet in high spheres, at least around this beautiful fire." He turned to Melchard, "How is the Mother of the Light treating you, young man?"

"Well, Master Barkhan Seer," Melchard smiled. Being addressed by Barkhan Seer was like receiving a high wind of Spirit that illuminated your energy and filled you with enthusiasm.

"You must not blame destiny for taking Orest away from the kingdom," Barkhan Seer's voice carried the balm of the waters. "If we have chosen Gervin to be the Thunderbolt Bearer at the time of the Archive transfer, it is because he is an extraordinarily gifted man, who will be remembered as one of the greatest masters of our lineage. You are privileged, really, to have the opportunity of learning from him and serving Thunder under his guidance, especially during these critical times when so much will depend on you."

"Praise the Great Apollo!" Esrevin voiced his enthusiasm. "When shall we begin the great task?"

Barkhan Seer replied with one of the sayings of Thunder, "Right now!" And the three men laughed and rejoiced.

"Esrevin will direct the operations in the temple of Lasseera," Barkhan Seer went on. "The Archive will gather the spiritual forces and the knowledge from both temples, Lasseera and Eisraim. Gervin and Melchard will hold Eisraim while Esrevin holds Lasseera."

"What about Ran Gereset?" Melchard asked.

"My mission is to go north, brother," Ran Gereset said with great softness, for he knew that Melchard would not like the news.

"North? Where?" Melchard asked anxiously.

Ran Gereset took a long breath. "Far. Beyond the seas of the northern shores of the kingdom, in a desert land where there is nothing but ice."

Melchard had tears in his eyes. "Does this mean you are not coming back?

"I'm afraid so, brother."

"Ran Gereset is needed in the lands of the far north, at the extreme limit of the world," Barkhan Seer explained. "From there, he will conduct a long ritual. Indispensable for the Archive transfer."

Melchard's sadness was deep. During the difficult years of his apprenticeship in the Brown Robe, Ran Gereset had not only been a marvellous teacher but also a real brother to him. Having to lose him, just after losing Orest, was a devastating blow.

"Friends, you shall meet again, and sooner than you think," Barkhan Seer said, his voice comforting like the Sun. "In a matter of months, Gervin will initiate you into the art of being parallel."

"Living in two worlds at the same time!" Esrevin slapped Melchard's shoulder, bringing a glow of wonder in the young man's eyes.

"Exactly. This art is central to the higher echelons of the initiation in the Brown Robe. Gervin himself became a parallel at the very moment of his installation as the new Thunderbolt Bearer. He now lives in the Fields of Peace as well as in the kingdom."

This sounded so extraordinary that for one moment Melchard forgot his sadness. The Fields of Peace were the pure world, the World to Come – the perfection which the physical world aspired to achieve, but which already existed beyond the physical world. "The Fields of Peace are the future of humanity," Orest often taught his disciples, "the immaculate dwelling human beings will inhabit when all is accomplished."

"Soon, you will join Gervin in the Fields of Peace," Barkhan Seer was warm. "There you will find a team of extremely powerful Masters of Thunder waiting for you: Alambar Seer and Firen Seer, who were two of my disciples, Matsyendranath, Olembinah (who has lived with the Flying Dragons for more than two hundred years), and Amitabhadass, the shining one. Together with them you will form the Archive council, which will be supervising the progress of the Archive in the kingdom and liaising with the builders of the temple."

"And what about you, Master Barkhan Seer, will you be with us?" Ran Gereset asked.

"Later. First I will return to the Absolute White Light of Highness. When the time for the Archive transfer approaches, I will descend again and work with you in the Fields of Peace."

"Will you tell us more about this temple in the Fields of Peace, Master Barkhan Seer?" Melchard asked tentatively. "How will it be different from the Archive?"

"The Archive will be kept in the temple. But in reality the temple and the Archive will be one, for the Archive will contain much more than just knowledge. Spiritual forces and seeds of initiation – this is what the Archive is all about. The end of the kingdom, which has now become unavoidable, will be accompanied by massive destruction and chaos. The knowledge of all temples will be lost. And when a new kingdom is born, human beings will find themselves in a spiritual desert, with no oracles, no temples, no lineages of initiates and teachers, no priestly orders. Even the Law will have been lost.

Our mission is to prepare for the future. In our Archive we will preserve the flame of all or nearly all the spiritual orders in the temples of Eisraim and Lasseera. We will keep the spirit alive, that men and women of the future may light their torches from our flame."

Melchard's eyes were glowing. "So is this what will happen at the time of the Archive transfer – the traditions which have been kept in our temples since time immemorial will be lifted up into the Fields of Peace?"

"Yes," Barkhan Seer answered joyfully, seeing he had rekindled the young man's enthusiasm. "And all of us will be there with you in the Fields of Peace. Not just the one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers who took part in the clearing ritual, but all of us! Our Voices will combine, and it will be the greatest ritual that the Masters of Thunder will ever have performed."

"So, will Ran Gereset, Esrevin, Gervin and I be performing the ritual both from the kingdom and from the Fields of Peace?" Melchard asked.

"No. If everything goes according to plan, only Ran Gereset will be in both places at the same time. His position will allow him to hold the energy in a way that will make it unnecessary for you to be in the kingdom. By then, you will have gathered a large team in Eisraim and Lasseera: great Field Wizards and stone makers, and of course your own apprentices in Thunder. This will be one of your greatest joys, as it has been for the masters of the Brown Robe who came before you: train apprentices, watch them grow in Thunder, slowly, and be with them when they make mistakes, help them stand up again each time they trip along the way, and finally see them reach the summits of power that their elders have conquered before them. By the time of the Archive transfer, your apprentices will have become accomplished Masters of Thunder, and it will be up to them to take care of all operations in the kingdom."

There followed a long silence. The three disciples of Orest drank Barkhan Seer's presence, pondering on the new world which was opening before them.

Melchard, who always sat with his back very straight, was shining. Barkhan Seer plunged his fiery eyes into him and took his hand.

Far above, in the world of the gods, Lord Gana was sitting in front of the silvery waves of the Molten Sea. Between his hands he held a fantastic musical instrument made of thousands of rays of light. His eyes fixed on the horizon, he smiled.

Barkhan Seer smiled.

Melchard smiled with him, and a great opening took place.


1.7 Gervin's second meeting with the emissary of Ahriman

In the deepest of the night, Gervin felt an ominous presence following him. It did not take him long to recognise Aphelion, the former Master of Thunder who had been Orest's teacher, and who had shocked the temple of Eisraim by deciding to defect and serve Ahriman, the Prince of Darkness, thereby cutting all his ties with the Brown Robe.

It was difficult to conceive that a man of such knowledge and integrity could have let himself be tempted by the dark side. At first no one had believed the news because Aphelion, or rather Perihelion (as his name had been before he followed Ahriman) had often surprised his friends with his incredible sense of humour, so people thought it must be one of his pranks. But when it became clear that Perihelion would not come back, and that he had become one of the powerful generals of Ahriman, the consternation that struck the temple was beyond words. Perihelion had been a champion of Truth, a blazing star in the constellation of the Masters of Thunder. He had conquered the arch-mysterious powers of the Deep Underworlds, accomplished mind-blowing miracles, and taught and initiated eight Masters of Thunder to the highest degree, Orest among them. And he had been a humble man, who often healed people of lower castes. He had refused the showers of honours that the prince of Eisraim wanted to bestow on him for having saved his wife, whom the kingdom's best physicians had declared paralysed beyond hope after she fell from the balcony of her royal apartment, but who, nine weeks after Perihelion's good treatment, was seen trotting around like a filosterops.

How could a man like Perihelion be captured by the dark side? This was a question Orest's disciples asked themselves over and over again with undisguised anxiety. For if Perihelion, the teacher of their teacher, could be tempted, then anyone could be tempted, especially younger and less accomplished Masters of Thunder like themselves. The wise Orest never tried to reassure them with kind, soothing words. Rather, he exhorted them to pray to the Mother of the Light, hold onto the Fire, and be ready! Sooner or later, Ahriman would knock at their door and tempt them with an offer that would probably take them completely by surprise. "The devil," Orest often said, "is no idiot. Wicked he is, but nonetheless abominably intelligent."

As Gervin felt Aphelion approaching (Aphelion was well-known for walking faster than champion runners), he recalled the first time he had got to see for himself what an encounter with the dark side could do to a man. It was when his brother-disciple Esrevin was found half-dead in the woods of Nadavan, only a few hours' walk from the plain of Erriba – a place not actually far from where he was now, though it was too dark to say for sure. Two months before Esrevin had been due to receive his final initiation as a Master of Thunder, he had been visited by Aphelion, whom Ahriman had sent to tempt him.

Esrevin, two years younger than Gervin, had been with Orest since the age of twelve. Gervin, who had met Orest only when he was twenty, regarded him as one of the strongest souls he had ever met. His enthusiasm seemed inexhaustible, and his aura always shone with the light of the uppermost sky, from which he derived his brilliant intelligence and sound judgment. But when they found him, after six weeks spent in the company of Aphelion, he was lying prostrate with a vague look in his eyes. For six months thereafter he could not say a word or move from his bed. He refused food and only survived thanks to Orest's miraculous healing powers.

Gervin was recalling that dreadfully emptied-out and extinguished look of a man whose foundations had been shattered and hopes long forgotten, when Aphelion called out, "Praise the Lord Melchisedek, Gervin of Thunder!"

The voice had not changed. It brought back memories of Gervin's encounter with Aphelion five years earlier – so dreadful that he did not even want to remember them.

"Praise the Lord Melchisedek, Gervin of Thunder!" Aphelion called out again.

Gervin did not stop walking.

It was two days before the end of the Moon cycle, and so despite the late hour in the night the Moon had not yet risen. In the total darkness, Gervin saw Aphelion's aura. It was but a black hole in the purple space. The shining emblems of the Masters of Thunder had been eclipsed. The pitch-black doom of darkness of those who serve Ahriman was all that remained.

"Congratulations on that magnificent ritual, Gervin!" Aphelion's deep and marvellously melodious voice rang out – the voice of a great master of the Word. "I watched it carefully, and enjoyed every second of it."

"Aphelion, you are wasting your time," Gervin kept striding forwards. "Whatever you have come to tell me, the answer is no."

Aphelion walked on his left side. "Gervin, this time I haven't come to try to entice you into my camp," he stood on his dignity. "My king has sent me to offer you a truce."

"No."

"An official treatise of mutual non-aggression, Gervin, nothing more. This is what my king is offering: he will not try to tempt any of your disciples, and he will guarantee the safety of your temple in the troubled times which are ahead. This will save the lives of many of your friends, Gervin. And all he is asking in return..."

"No."

"Gervin, I hate to see you walking in the dark. Could I transport you where you wish to go?"

"No."

"I see," Aphelion said thoughtfully. "The new Thunderbolt Bearer is even more stubborn than the former one."

"No."

"Gervin, you are angry at me for the way I treated you when I first visited you. I agree, I was rough. But make no mistake, my friend, it was only because of the high opinion my king has of you. In any case, I offer you my apologies."

"No."

"Gervin, Gervin... as a result of your stubbornness, a lot of innocent people will be harmed, starting with those you love."

Right in front of them, Aphelion conjured up an image of Marka. She was no longer young and fresh, but wrinkled and exhausted. She was meditating in her small cell, in the tower of Malchasek, but the light of her angel was not with her. She looked defeated and empty, and desperately sad, as if she had just spent twenty years crying.

If one image could have hit Gervin, this was the one.

"Poor Marka," Aphelion said in a compassionate tone, "her life is about to be wasted. Malchasek has decided to withdraw his light from the kingdom, as you know. And so her high priesthood will not be the illumination she had hoped for, but a long and painful agony. Year after year, the light of Malchasek will dwindle, until it finally dies out. Please, Gervin, let me make her a present. Let me use my influence over the Lords of Destiny. It would only take minimal influence for Marka's first vow to be declared invalid by an official oracle. Then she could run into your arms, and be yours, which is exactly what she wants. For you know how desperate she is at the moment, don't you? See how beautiful she would be if she were your wife!"

The old woman was replaced by a blossoming Marka, whose eyes shone the feast of light of the Ancient Days of the Earth. She not only looked happy and fulfilled, but also wise, and inspired.

"No," Gervin repeated in a neutral voice.

"Gervin, don't be a fool!" Aphelion insisted. "This is a free present I am offering you. You don't have to make any pact, or do anything in return."

"No."

Seeing that Gervin was putting so much will into saying no, the emissary of Ahriman looked for questions that would allow him to keep saying no and yet agree with him.

He manifested images of the temple of Eisraim – scenes of utter devastation. Terrifying hordes of Nephilim giants were charging through the temple's main portal. They slaughtered the guards, and armed with huge maces, destroyed all the statues in the alleys of the temple. Swearing and screaming like madmen, they desecrated the chapels, pillaged the sacred relics and demolished all the buildings.

"None of these images are new to you, are they?" Aphelion sneered.

"No."

"And you know very well that all this could happen during your lifetime. For the time is coming, and the days are numbered. Gervin, do you believe these future events are so fixed and pre-determined that not one force in the creation could stop them?"

"No."

"So you would not want to miss an opportunity that allowed you to preserve the temple of Eisraim, while still accomplishing the glorious mission that the Masters of Thunder have assigned to you, would you?"

Gervin did not answer. Any form of alliance or pact with the Prince of Darkness was totally out of the question. He kept walking.

"Gervin, you are not a man of poor judgment, and you do not lack compassion. The pact of non-aggression that my king is offering you is a golden opportunity. You cannot afford to let it slip out of your hands."

Gervin's lips remained sealed.

Aphelion slightly modified his tactic. He raised his voice, "Do you believe yourself as powerful as Ahriman, Gervin?"

"No."

Aphelion rushed forwards and barred Gervin's way. In a threatening tone, he declared, "Gervin, your blunt refusal of my offer could have disastrous consequences for your Archive project. You would not want to take the risk of losing everything by starting an all-out war against the armies of Ahriman just to avoid one treaty, would you?"

"Yes, I would!" Gervin answered at near-Voice threshold, stopping where he was and standing up very straight, ready to engage the full power of his lineage by recalling the obelisk of Thunder.

Startled at this sudden change, Aphelion remained silent, seeking inspiration for his next move.

"Come on, Aphelion, where are your armies?" Gervin challenged him, shouting with the Voice. "Bring them down, now – or stop this nonsense!" He went on in his normal voice, "Anyhow, all this is ridiculous. You and I know very well that Ahriman will not engage any final confrontation with the forces of light until the War of All against All. And that will not be before thousands of years have passed. Now, let us stop this stupid conversation." He started walking again, "Follow me, Aphelion, I need to speak to you about serious matters."

Aphelion, who could see in the dark, looked at Gervin in disbelief. Something inside him secretly rejoiced at seeing the Thunderbolt Bearer so bright and unstoppable. But only briefly, and so deep inside that he himself barely noticed it.

He followed Gervin, not just because he still hoped to sway his mind, but also out of curiosity.

"It must be hard for a man with your sense of humour to work with Ahriman," Gervin dropped, in a conversational tone.

"What?"

"Ahriman totally lacks any sense of humour, doesn't he?"

Aphelion burst out laughing derisively.

"Have you ever seen Ahriman make a joke, Aphelion?" Gervin persisted.

"My king has a wonderful sense of the irony in all things, and often demonstrates it through his acts."

"Mm..." Gervin replied, "you see exactly what I mean, don't you?"

Aphelion, grinding his teeth, made himself cold. "Say what you have to say, Gervin of the Brown Robe!"

"Of course. But first, tell me Aphelion, why do you still wear the brown gown of the Masters of Thunder?"

"Because one day the whole of the lineage of Thunder will rally behind me, and serve my king with me," Aphelion answered with certitude.

"Aphelion!" Gervin exclaimed compassionately, "Do you really believe this?"

"I have the full power of Ahriman behind me, Gervin," Aphelion was cool and measured. "The king of the world is unstoppable."

"You don't believe a word you say!" Gervin kept smiling. "It's not just that it goes against common sense – at least four hundred of our brethren live in the spheres of Highness. And you haven't been capable of tempting even one of the seven young apprentices in Thunder you have so far visited. Deep inside you, you simply don't believe that Thunder will rally with Ahriman, even though Ahriman has said so."

"Thank you for your opinion, Gervin," Aphelion maintained a glacial facade. "But the future, as you know, holds many surprises. Now, what did you want to tell me?"

Gervin stopped walking and faced the pitch-black aura. He drew a long breath and spoke with infinite softness. "What I have to say is very simple, Aphelion. The Masters of Thunder have decided that one day, one of them will be sent to rescue you from the dark side. I will be the one."

Aphelion burst out laughing so loudly that at first it was impossible to say whether he was sarcastic or flabbergasted.

But his laughter lasted just a little too long.

Gervin kept smiling, sensing the impact of his words on the emissary of Ahriman. He immediately went on, "Aphelion, why not come with me right now? You only have to say one word, and three hundred Thunderbolt Bearers will be with me to clear the darkness out of you. By dawn, we could all be laughing together. We still remember your sense of humour, you know."

"My boy, what are you saying? You are not serious, are you?" Aphelion was so taken aback that for a moment he almost seemed to be hesitating.

"Very serious, my dear enemy. Follow me! Let us put an end to the nonsense!"

Aphelion burst out laughing again, but not as loudly this time. He was thinking deeply. "Gervin..."

"Aphelion," Gervin interrupted him, "you have just seen what one hundred Thunderbolt Bearers can do. One word from you, and there will be three times as many to help me perform your clearing ritual."

"But..." something in Aphelion's resoluteness was almost softening.

"When we clear we are unstoppable," the fierce Thunderbolt Bearer was matter-of-fact. "You only have to say one word, Aphelion, and you are free!"

After an interminable second of hesitation, Aphelion replied in the icy-cold tones of his Ahrimanic voice, "No! You are completely wasting your time."

"I haven't wasted my time, Aphelion. Something inside you was moved."

"No!" insisted the emissary of the Prince of Darkness. "You are wasting your time. I am the servant of the king of the world. It was my choice, and the choice was made in full free will, and with total understanding of what it involved. It is irrevocable."

"All right, then," Gervin was serene. With a touch of irony, he threw the words with which Aphelion had concluded their last meeting, "But I want you to remember one thing: my offer remains, you can come to me any time, whether in this life or another."

Recognising his own words, Aphelion burst out laughing again, this time unambiguously sardonic. And he turned his back and walked away.

"We shall meet again, Aphelion," Gervin whispered. "One way... or another!"

 

 

 

 

– Thus ends the Book of the Beginnings –


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© Samuel Sagan 2004