Chronicles of the

Children of Destiny

Volume One

'Morning Stars'

By

Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly

Copyright 6178 SC



Prologue

 Before the beginning God planned.  He planned something special, something new, something he had not done before.  He planned to create.

 

For all eternity he had been alone.  Throughout that span he had done nothing - there was nothing or no one else for him to interact with.  Instead he had simply existed, and in that existence he had perfect peace.  He knew himself, understood himself and rested in perfect harmony with himself.  However within his mind dwelt infinity, and throughout eternity he contemplated infinity.

 

At some point in those contemplations something new came to him - it came to him as his mind investigated the concept of mathematics.  Concepts had no tangible substance yet existed in the mind, and mathematics was one of the concepts that God delighted in.  Its axioms were true - its laws complete and absolute, and within this concept something new came to him as he thought of the basic building blocks of mathematics in relation to himself.

 

He existed as one - there was no one with him.  However within the laws of mathematics one and one made two.  That is where the idea was born.  What if there existed besides himself something else, something more than the God who was one.  His infinite mind considered the possibilities -   ‘what else could exist apart from him?  How would it come into existence?   What would it be like?’  And that is where the plan began.

* * * * *

Of course, the plan had begun a while ago. Everything began a while ago. God, remembering back, remembered he did a lot of things a while back. And made a lot of plans a while back. He was that sort of God. Been around for a while. He remembered the rest. The eternal rest he had been in. Slumber, in a sense. But the being which filled the universe which he was had been in a rest of constancy. But ultimately thinking had emerged into doing and becoming. And rising up, plans started being contemplated, and creation came into those plans soon enough. There were realms which came and went in the heart of God. Aeons of realms of spiritual being in their own way, a life of sorts, but something like a dress rehearsal of life. They had a form of life, the beings, but when they sank back into the spiritual haze, it was like sand returning to the seashore after the splendour of a sand castle – as if they had never really been. Lots of creatures, like Monkey had smiled at him and played funnily, and rat had snooped around, eating scraps, and he looked at Monkey and he looked at Rat, and he smiled at their funny ways, peculiar to them, but appropriate to them. And one by one the creatures of creation had emerged in the heart of God, alive in a way for a while, in their construction of design, but folding back into the spiritual maelstrom, as he contemplated what could be their ultimate form, design, and being. And, finally, after aeons of contemplations of such creatures, and such realms, and such worlds, and such peoples, he rested again. For dream would become reality soon enough. And that is how the plans began.

 

 

Part One

 

Innocence”

 

Chapter One – Michael of Eternity

 

Awareness.  The first thing that Michael could remember was awareness.  Before then he had not existed, and from that point on he had.  But his very first memories were simply of being aware of his own existence.  What he now called light came very soon afterwards.  And as that light flooded over him he began to perceive something within it.  Something which he had no words at the time to describe, but which he now sang to and praised as the Glory of God. 

 

Within that Glory Michael had felt goodness and love.  And something else - a force.  A force that at once was filled with infinite peace and gentleness yet, at the same time, strong and powerful beyond imagining.  It was then that Michael learned to fear God.

 

In those early times, everything was new.  God, he soon found out, was his creator.  And more than that, his Father and teacher.  God taught him many things, but mostly about the plan that he had.  Soon he had what God called his brothers and sisters.  They were like him in many ways, and different in many others.  Each was unique.  Each had their own thoughts, plans and, from what God had told him, their own destiny.  Michael had his own destiny as well - one that continually unfolded as he lived out his life.

At 10 years of age, Michael had been alone.  Not yet had there come forth any other of the Seraphim community – the Seraphim being his angelic brothers and sisters.  God had been his companion and friend – his teacher, mentor and father.  God did share with him that he would one day have family – and that family would come into being on the day of Michael’s 12th birthday.  His Father had shared with him the name for what would be his new brother – Gabriel.  Michael liked the name.  It was different to his and sounded original.

 

He, as he usually had done in the previous 10 years, spent most of his time exploring the world.  His father had called it ‘The Realm of Eternity’.  He had also called it by a specific name, Zaphora, which he had asked Michael not to share with the brothers and sisters to come until a much later date.

 

Michael had been born in the ‘Garden of Zaphora’.  The Garden was the place where Michael ate most of the food that he needed to live on.  All sorts of fruits and vegetables grew in the Garden.  The Dwarrow fruit was quite tasty.  Michael also particularly enjoyed the ‘Melit’ fruit, which was very light and refreshing.  It was also very easy to squish down and drink, like water, so Michael had called the juice of the Melit fruit ‘Melit Water’.

 

In the Garden were special trees as well.  The tree Michael was most cautious about was the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  His father had warned him not to partake of the fruit of this tree.  ‘Not until you are of mature age and mind do I want you to partake of that fruit.  If you do in fact partake of the fruit before that time, you may find ideas in your mind, thoughts which may challenge  you – thoughts which, my dear son, you may not in fact like at all.’

 

Michael had trusted his Father and taken him at his word.  At the age of 7, having understood the concept of years by that time, he had decided in his mind that for at least 1000 years he would not partake of the fruit.  After that, though, he may consider it.  He would ask his Father’s permission then – but then, and only then.

 

The other fruit which his Father asked him to partake of every birthday was the ‘tree of life’.  Simply by eating this fruit his Father had said he granted him ongoing life.  He had told him that he did not have to eat the fruit if he did not want to – that he would not force that upon him.  But he had also said that, after a long and great time, if Michael failed to eventually eat of the fruit, he would in fact die.  Michael did not really understand what ‘death’ was supposed to mean, however his father had explained that the fruits and vegetables that his son had in fact eaten were, in a way, now dead.  ‘In the life I gave them, they no longer exist.  However this was always my intent.  For you my son, if you fail to partake of the tree of life for a long and great time, you will eventually meet their fate.  This choice, though, is in your hands.  Over that choice you are sovereign.’  His Father had gone on to explain that in their youth, the community of what would be his Seraphim brothers and sisters were to partake of the fruit every new year, which was Michael’s birthday.  But, at a later date, depending on the way certain things developed, which his Father would not share with him, they would only really need to partake of the fruit every century.  And eventually, once they had built up enough of their own spirit, only once every millennia.

 

Michael had queried wether this would go on forever, the time increasing between how often they would need to partake of the fruit.  His father had spoken to him very seriously then, and told him that, eventually, once every million years would likely suffice.  To go beyond that, into great numbers, he had explained that he did not think that his children would be able to eventually cope with the things life threw at them.  But he did have one thing to say which had frightened Michael in a way.  ‘It is possible, my son, to live without ever partaking of the fruit after a certain point in time.  But you will have to be well trained and strong in the reality – the principle – of life.  And all that is contained therein.  If you actually sought that, and persisted passionately, vibrantly and with an eternal commitment – you perhaps could achieve this truth – this reality.  But the fruit I have given is designed and intended to make it easier to live, without you having to struggle to that type of existence under your own strength.  The fruit will be there eternally.  It will always be available, and should you ever be struggling in a decision to go your own way, which I do not disapprove of, but advise caution, you are always most welcome to partake of the fruit.  It is a gift of life I have provided for you.  It has no cost, nor ever will – except that, in a sense, there is a cost in partaking of the fruit for your spirit.  And that cost is your pride.’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

He sat in front of the Sellawon, the name he had given to the river, watching it cascade along in its merry trill of life and love.  He was 11 now, but it was the cold time of the year, and he was shivering occasionally, watching the river flow along and noticing some frozen ice by the edge of the river.  Naturally he preferred summer and in winter usually stayed in the safety of the garden which seemed somewhat warmer than the rest of Zaphora at that time of the year, something Michael was unable to explain.  Lunch time was approaching soon and he would likely go off looking for food, even flying to the garden if necessary.  He usually came to the Sellawon every day to drink water, but often would just make do on the melit water which was a close approximation.  But he had to cleanse his body every now and then and he somehow knew that only pure river water could cleanse it for the best.  He stood up from the bank and walked down, picking up a stick, and sat at the edge of the river.  He poked the stick into the ice, making holes, gradually making one big hole.  It was entertaining enough, and he had done it often enough, but it made him happy and gave him something to do.  He was feeling a little thirsty not having drunk today, so got down on his stomach and drank the ice cold water from the hole.  Half an hour later, his body starting to shiver, he knew it was time to make his way back to the garden.  He needed shelter from the cold and he had now drunk enough.

 

Landing back at the garden which was near the middle of Zaphora, he gradually made his way towards his usual hang out place, grabbing some pieces of fruit as he walked along, munching on them happily.  He sat down in the middle of his clearing, noticing the warmth instantly, and then lied down on his back, staring up at the sky.  Life had been like this for as long as he could remember, ever since his birth, right here in this clearing.  It was as if he had gradually become aware of himself and then, just as suddenly, embraced the love and power of his father.  And then he had been here, in the clearing.

 

That had been over 11 years ago and now, as his 12th birthday approached, something he was greatly anticipating drew near – the birth of his first brother Gabriel.  He did not really know what Gabriel would be like but his father assured him he would be like himself in many ways, but unique in many others.  But he would indeed be his special brother.  And then more after that, apparently, until a certain number had been reached.  He did not know what that number would be, but waited patiently.

 

He slept a lot in his youth and dreamt strange dreams.  Dreams of clouds turning all sorts of colours and mountains getting bigger and smaller and water fountains gushing from the tops of them, and then ice patterns would form in his dreams, going through an endless parade of strange shapes he did not recognize.  They were some of his dreams but he had many types, all from his life here in Zaphora.  He finished off eating the piece of fruit, thought about getting some Dwarrow, but decided against it.  Maybe later on for dinner.  Time for rocks, he thought to himself.

 

Rocks was a game he had invented in which he tossed rocks, one first, then two at a time and so on, into the air to see the biggest number he could throw up and then catch.  His record was still five but he was sure he would get to six one day.  It was just a matter of perseverance.

 

He picked up his collection of river rocks, all smooth, which he had collected from the Sellawon and began juggling a few of them first of all.  And then he started his game.  He threw the first rock up, making sure it went high enough to satisfy his own sense of rules for the game, and caught it easily.  This was followed by two, which he again managed, and then three which he was lucky to get.  But he failed at four which meant he had to start again.

 

He played rocks for quite a while, not managing to get past three that day, but it was fun to do and kept him busy.  Soon, though, he would go to his fort and do some more work on it.  Michael’s fort was near the edge of the garden and made up of rocks and wood branches.  It was his own little abode which he had started building at about 2 and it had gradually gotten bigger.  It collapsed once when he was 7, but he had since rebuilt it.

 

Walking along to the fort on the southern side of the garden, he listened as the winter wind blew in the trees.  Looking at the grey clouds in the sky he felt it might rain soon, and being in the fort would be a good idea if rain came today.

 

He arrived at the fort and looked it over.  It was twice as tall as him, with two levels, and about a trees length across.  Pretty impressive he thought to himself.  He thought briefly about gathering some more rocks to work on the extension he had been planning, but noticing the droplets of rain starting, he quickly climbed inside the fort and raked same of his leaves over him.  Listening to the rain as it hit the roof of the fort, some drops splashing on him, he was happy to be warm and safe inside his domain.  It would be good to share this with Gabriel – to show him what he had built.  They could have lots of fun and adventures together, he thought to himself.  It would be great when his brother arrived.  But for now he was alone, apart from his father who spoke to him often at nights, and snuggling down in the leaves as the rain pounded the roof of the tiny little hut, Michael was at peace and happy with everything in his beautiful little world.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

He woke.  The rain had stopped and it was late afternoon.  Time for gathering some more rocks.  He climbed out of the fort and looked it over.  The extension he planned was on the southern side to make a permanent bedroom, one he wanted to make, if possible, full-proof from the rain.  He had gathered all of the rocks in the immediate vicinity and often brought some from the Sellawon were many were to be found.  But he decided to head a little south today and see if he could find any.  He could only carry one big rock at a time, and it took him ages to collect all the rocks, but he had nothing else to do and really wanted to complete his fort.  After walking for a while he spotted a small outcropping of some rocks and picking one up started flying back to the fort.  He put the rock in the growing pile he had been working on and now flew back.  He did this for a couple of hours, heaving over 2 dozen rocks, before finally getting hungry and going off looking for some Dwarrow.  He found some in the garden, tore it open and started eating.  It was a basic vegetable his father had told him, but it was good enough to eat.

 

He worked on his fort all the rest of that winter and the following spring as well and when he had finally completed the extension just a few days before his 12th birthday he knew he had something special to share with Gabriel.

 

As the day approached and it got to the evening before his 12th birthday, God spoke to him that night.

DEAR SON.  GABRIEL IS READY NOW.  I HAVE TOLD HIM ALL ABOUT YOU AND HE REALLY WANTS TO MEET YOU.  BE AT PEACE WITH YOUR NEW BROTHER.’  Those words made Michael smile and while he tried to stay up all night to wait for his new brother, sleep eventually claimed him and he drifted of with dreams of rocks and dwarrow and climbing mountains.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Come on Gab.  Let’s fly.”  They took off, headed from the Garden in the early morning light, racing one of their usual races each morning to the Sellawon.  Usually, because he was still a bit bigger, despite Gabriel having grown a lot, Michael won.  But occasionally Gabriel put in the extra effort and came first.  Today was close though.

 

They flew quickly, keeping an eye on each other, lunging and diving when necessary and as they reached their destination Gabriel dived and just touched ground before Michael.

 

They were puffing and Michael patted his brother on the back and said ‘Well done, Gab.  You have done it again.’

Thanks Mikie.’

 

And then, for the first time in his life, Michael was spoken to by his third brother, who had just appeared.  ‘So you two are Michael and Gabriel, huh?’

Michael turned, stunned and looked at the dark figure.  ‘Raphael?’

You guessed it,’ responded his new brother.  Michael and Gabriel ran over, hugged Raphael and started smiling at him.

I knew you were due soon,’ said Michael.  ‘But God wouldn’t give me the exact date.

Well, here I am,’ responded Raphael.

 

They played for the rest of the day and finally, after a long tour of the garden, all three went to sleep in Michael’s fort.  The children of destiny were starting to grow and soon, very soon, more would come forth.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Go on.  I dare you,’ said Saruviel to Michael.  The other 5 angels watched cautiously, wondering if Michael would take on the dare.

But, with my wings tied I could fall and injure myself.  It’s too dangerous, Saruviel.’

Someone’s got to do it, Mikie.  And you’re the eldest.’

Why does anyone have to do it at all?’ asked Raguel.

We need to set records.  Soon the rest of the 70 will be here and we need bragging rights on them.  Otherwise they will not respect the oldest 7 enough.’

Does that matter?’ asked Phanuel.

7 is the key number,’ responded Saruviel.  ‘The 7 Archangels of Glory.  How about that.’

Michael conceded, allowed Uriel to finish tying his wings together, and started the climb to the top.  They were near the top of Mt Zadar anyway, on a ledge, near the difficult part, and Saruviel had laid down the challenge.  Michael had finally accepted, and it was on.  Naturally, he made it.  He’d had many years climbing and was good at it now, and when the others standing at the summit watched him get there they congratulated him.

Well done, Michael,’ said Saruviel.  ‘That is the standard firstborn needs to set.’

Michael nodded, breathing heavily, unsurprised by those words.  They were so like the 7th angel, so like him, and the expectations on perfection he had of all of them.  But he was not disappointed now, not really.  He’d made it and indeed they would have bragging rights and, perhaps, as Saruviel claimed, a sense of authority.  Only time would tell.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

He was embarrassed.  Daniel the Seraphim, 45th born of the male Seraphim of the Realm of Eternity, was most embarrassed.  Meludiel had blushed strongly and pushed him away, telling him what he had done was not appropriate, and now he was embarrassed.  Daniel had had a crush on Meludiel for so long now, as long as he could practically remember.  And with Zaphon nearing completion he had found her doing some carving of the woodwork under Elenniel’s tutelage, told her he liked her and kissed her quickly on the cheek, but she had quickly pulled back, almost in horror to his great disappointment.  And now he was duly embarrassed.

 

Later on, at dinner, Meludiel had approached him to explain her perspective and told Daniel that she didn’t feel that way towards him.  Daniel had listened, ashamed, but understood then that she didn’t love him.  And he would have to accept that, which he had, but his heart still hurt.  He hadn’t won her, and probably never would, but that was part of life.  And sitting on the grass at the northern edge of the nearly completed haven of eternity, Zaphon keep, Daniel looked up at heaven at father and said, ‘Why is my heart as such, father?  Why is my heart as such?’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Rocks.  They played a lot of rocks.  Michael loved that.  Saruviel thought it was oh, so, bloody gay.  Lame as hell.  Gabriel didn't care.

 

But they were getting older, somewhat now, and life had changed.  There were 140 of them.  Seraphim of God.  The firstborn children of God, and Father loved them.  And the old man visited, once or twice, who looked weird.  They didn't know who he was, but he had a long beard, as he called it, on his face.  And he said he was the father of the torah, and that he loved them.  But he didn't tell them his name, and then he was gone.  But he visited occasionally, the old man, and said he loved them.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Meludiel was an intelligent angel, but Daniel had a huge crush on her anyway.  Daniel was called the idiot amongs the Seraphim angels, but Ambriel always defended him.  He wasn't stupid.  He just had an uncommon habit of making a fool of himself.  And then, when Zaphon was being built, he made a huge blunder with the girl who was his crush, Meludiel, and fretted for years afterwards.

 

'Get over it,' said Ariel, to her twin Daniel.

'Get over what?' asked Daniel.

'Get over Meludiel.  You will only end up with me in the end anyway.'

'You wish,' said Daniel.

'No.  Not really,' said Ariel.  'Of every single Seraphim brother of mine, you are 100% the last on the list,  Believe me, the last buddy.  Even that maniac Saruviel is preferable to a schmuck like you.'

'What's a schmuck?' asked Daniel.

Ariel looked guilty.  'Nothing.  Michael and Gabriel use the word a little.  Your just too stupid to know what it means.'

'I know,' said Daniel glumly, looking downwards.

Ariel took pity on her brother, looked at him with love, and sat down next to him.

'Look, silly.  One day.  It may be at the end of eternity, and knowing my luck probably will be.  But one day, even doofus Daniel will grow up and start acting like a man.'

'What's a man?' asked Daniel naively.

'Brother,' said Ariel, looking away.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

And then the old man showed up and talked with Gabriel.  'You have a long and winding destiny, son of mine.  Watch Michael.  You two are tragically competitive in the end.  He will best you at every corner, in the end, if he can.  He's like that.  But, with maturity, you will grow to love each other.

'Yes, father,' said Gabriel instinctively.

And God smiled.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

'Look, Daniel.  Face it.  In the end Ambriel will never budge from his beloved twin.  As gay as that may be, Ambriel is just like that.  His twin is his all.  No matter what you say or do, she will always choose Ambriel in the end.'

Daniel refused to be consoled.

'So how about giving me a go, you know.  Your sis.  Your bestie.  The only one who really, deep, deep, down, cares for you the most.'

She touched his hair, and stroked it, and she looked at him and loved him.  He would grow up, one day.  And he was a handsome angel.  Good looking, and, despite his awkward youth, was very decent in his heart.  A good soft heart.  Meek.  Like Ambriel, but different.  A gentle man.  And she would insult him forever, for he thoroughly deserved it, the faithless beast.  But she would love him forever as well.  Never tell him, though.  But love him none-the-less.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Gabriel picked up the rock from Michael's desk.  It was the victory rock when they had last had a competition, a long time ago.

'What are you doing with that?' asked Michael.

'Just looking,' said Gabriel.

'I won fair and square,' said Michael.  'And the century isn't up yet, so there is no new competition yet.'

'I know, I know,' said Gabriel, and put the rock down.

 

He sat in front of Michael's desk in Zaphon, the heart of eternity, the haven of eternity as it was known, and looked at his brother making notes about the work they were now doing.  It had been recent, the building of Zaphon, only a few years earlier completed, and Michael was overseer of Zaphon, the number one guy, and ran things.  And they used papyrus and quills with ink now, and had a growing library of scrolls, Brindabel running the library, and even scholars like Davriel, who seemed to know so much.  Lastborn was really smart, everyone knew that.  And Cimbrel - genius at numbers.  Everyone knew that as well.

 

'You know.  The old man.  I think I know who he really is.'

'He's God,' said Michael.

'Yes,' said Gabriel surprised.  'How did you know?'

'We have been talking.  Some of us about him.  Davriel said it was probably God.

'Oh,' said Gabriel.

'Yep,' said Michael.

'I see.'  Gabriel looked at the rock in his hand.  They already knew.  No great surprise.

 

When Gabriel left Michael thought on it.  The old man.  Well.  Probably God.  But when he came the second time, he looked different.  Quite different.  The hair was shorter, and he looked - less old.  Less wrinkled.  But, in the end, they had no real proof.  It was God.  Or it was just the old man.  Just an old man.  Just an old man.

 

 

And later that same year the old man came one last time, and said to them.

'I love you, children of mine.  But I must go now.  For you must grow up, and trials are coming very soon.  But I will be there - forever.  Your heart will always remember.  You, though, will forget me in time.  Not long from now.  I will be gone from you, but I will return one day, though it will be as if you had never known me before anyway.  But I will always be there, watching, loving you.  Dear Children.  Dear, dear Children of Destiny.'

 

And the old man went, then, and, indeed, in time he went from their memories, and was just an old man in there hearts, comforting them in their dreams, which vanished when the night was gone.



 

Chapter Two – Evening Stars

 

The first thing the Angel Saruviel remembered was darkness.  Infinite darkness.  And therein he dwelt, and therein he found his peace, and therein he found his absolution.  And then, after darkness, a strange thing.  Light.  And an Angel called  Gabriel shone his love upon him, and kissed him a brotherly kiss, and there they were, running around, playing rocks, and having the time of their lives.

 

 

 

We’re not the bloody Morning Stars, ok, Kantriel.  We’re the Evening Stars.  Right, Daraqel.’

Daraqel shrugged.  Saruviel decided everything these days, didn’t he.

 

Morning Stars suck, anyway,’ said Devuel.  ‘Especially Aquariel.  Calls herself ‘Morning Star’ herself.  Bright blessed Gabriel’s loving and devoted twin.  Thinks she is glory,  and not Gloryel.  She’s hot, though. Gloryel.  I like her.’

Get your mind out of the gutter,’ responded Saruviel with a glare.  ‘She likes me, after all.  She tells me all the time.  That I am nice and serious, and that I am a responsible young angel.  I’m older than her, but she calls me a responsible young angel.’

Daraqel and Kantriel sniggered at Saruviel’s joke.

Nah.  She likes me,’ responded Devuel.  ‘Luladiel tells me so.  Says she looks at me when we are at Michael’s fort.  Says she thinks I’m cute.’

Cute?’ queried Saruviel.  ‘I suppose.  If someone whose face resembles a bottom looks cute.’

Daraqel and Kantriel grinned again.

Good one, Sar,’ said Daraqel.

Saruviel grinned, while Devuel gave him the finger.

 

If there is anyone Gloryel likes, its obviously me,’ put in Semambarel suddenly.

Dream on,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘You have the charms of Michael on a good day.  And he is as boring as they bloody get.’

Likes to think he rules us,’ put in Devuel, picking a berry from a tree and eating it.

He doesn’t,’ said Saruviel flatly.  ‘The old man does.  The father.  He tells me who he is.  Ok.  I know who he is.’

Who?’ asked Daraqel?’

Yeh, who?’ queried Kantriel.

Saruviel smiled at them, and was about to boast out his knowledge, but kept his lip.

Well, never you mind.  Ok.  I’m seventhborn.  And it’s my private knowledge.’

You’re a shmuck,’ said Devuel.

 

Saruviel’s a shmuck,’ said Kantriel, teasing.

 

Saruviel grabbed his younger brother, and the rest of the afternoon they wrestled away, as the light gradually diminished throughout the Realm of  Eternity, another glorious day for the children of the Living God.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Michael.  You are good and responsible,’ said Elenniel.

Yes, Michael,’ said Meludiel.  ‘You are the bravest of us.’

Daniel looked at Meludiel say that.  He was instantly jealous.

I’m the strongest, though,’ said Yaramiel.

I can take ya,’ said Abraqel,’ and the two of them fell to a wrestling contest, as some of the Seraphim of Eternity gathered around to watch them and laugh.

 

The 140 angels were mostly there, at the fort of Michael, living their young lives, in Zaphora.  It was not yet known as Zaphora, but the Realm of Eternity, but one day it would be.  They were young.  Still so very young, living innocently in the world God had created for them, eating at the garden, running around, now in tunics which had been made from cotton which had been made into thread.  Of course, they knew each other’s nakedness well, but innocence knew no concerns of any thoughts of anything other than childful play.  Besides, the equipment, as it where, for that mysterious act of procreation was not yet part of the children of God.  One day it would be, but not yet.

 

They had adventures, each and every day, and Gabriel had gone on about a message from God, who had called each of them his precious Morning Stars.  And he liked it when they sang together, the Morning Stars.  When they sang as a group, lovely songs of life, and praise.  And he loved them each, oh so very dearly.  And he treasured them.  And he delighted in them.  And they were all united.  And they were all at peace.

 

And then there was Saruviel.

 

Michael wondered about Saruviel, occasionally.  He was a different type of brother, Sar.  A lot more, well.  Well, serious.  Like he felt he was the real firstborn in a way, and somehow the real and most responsible one of them.  Weird that.  That was not true.  Michael was number one.  He had always known that.  Of course, he loved Saruviel, and they played around together from time to time, but now, with all 140 angels born, groups had begun forming.  Little cliques, were certain angels seemed to connect more strongly with certain others, and that was, apparently, the way of things.

 

Like Azrael and Cosadriel.  They fought each other tooth and nail, constantly.  Always arguing, always boasting, but the love was always apparent as well.  Like a rivalry which would last for all time.  And perhaps even longer.  He loved watching those two go at it, and their twins would stand idly by, used to the shenanigans, used to the rivalry.

 

There were many such groups, and Saruviel had one also.  Him and Kantriel and Daraqel especially, with the predictable Devuel always there, and Semambarel half the time as well.

 

And then there was Daniel, who kept to himself, the shy one, but seemed to get along with Kantriel a little bit.  He puzzled on Daniel. Different sort of an angel.  Quiet.  Shy.  Like he hadn’t quite connected with the rest of the angels yet.  Just like him.

 

Of course, he and Gabriel and Raphael ran things, and they were the tightest group of all.

 

And, of course, Ambriel.  The love bug himself.  He could never live without the little guy, smiling at him, asking endless question after question, and the constant concern for every angel in the family.

 

It was a good group, the Morning Stars of God.  And they would always be that, he supposed.  Together.  Living at peace with each other.  Happy and at play.  Forever, naturally.  Or so he believed.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

What’s this?’ Kantriel asked Saruviel.

The New Order,’ replied the seventhborn of the angels.

The New Order?  50 Male Angels.  You first.  There’s no Michael on it.  A whole lot of angels are not on it.’

Followers of Michael.  The hard core.  I cut them out.’

Why?’

Coz they suck,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘Besides, I’ll re-add them to the list later on.  When I have proved my point.’

Kantriel studied the list for a while longer and nodded.  ‘Ok.  I’ll go with you on it.’

On what?’ asked Daraqel, sitting down.  Kantriel handed him the papyrus.

The New Order,’ said Daraqel.  ‘But there is only 50 of them?  And no Michael.’

Nor his crew,’ said Kantriel.

Daraqel handed it back to Kantrie.  ‘Yeh.  Alright.  If you say so Saruviel.’

Yes.  Yes I do, young brother.  Yes I do.’

Can I have a look?’ asked Semambarel.

Kantriel handed him the list.  It read:

 

The Seraphim Males of Eternity

1.    Saruviel

2.    Sariel

3.    Bantriel

4.    Cimbrel

5.    Dameriel       

6.    Valandriel

7.    Loquiel

8.    Cosadriel

9.    Kelkuriel

10.  Gamrayel

11.  Semambarel

12.  Jontel

13.  Yaramiel

14.  Mistrel

15.  Matrel

16.  Kantriel

17.  Daraqel

18.  Simonuel

19.  Azrael

20.  Jerahmeel

21.  Devuel

22.  Zadennuel

23.  Jamenuel

24.  Talutiel

25.  Phindwel

26.  Remriddel

27.  Roshael

28.  Kalenuel

29.  Gandel

30.  Talzudiel

31.  Sosteriel

32.  Daniel

33.  Radrukiel

34.  Sadurael

35.  Abraqel

36.  Pendrael

37.  Fazuel

38.  Wendel

39.  Berakiel

40.  Ulantriel

41.  Judayliel

42.  Desdrael

43.  Othaniel

44.  Queriel

45.  Zakiel

46.  Saziel

47.  Adruel

48.  Halyudiel

49.  Samael

50.  Zashadiel

 

 

What about the rest?’ asked Semambarel innocently.

I’ll add them back in later.  When they have learned their lesson,’ responded Saruviel.

Fine,’ said Semambarel a bit nervously, but didn’t object either.  Saruviel’s new order.  Forever onwards, he supposed.  Well, ok.  Why not.  Why not.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Daniel was a shy angel.  He didn’t get along with the group very well, but his twin, Ariel, talked with him from time to time and reminded him he was loved.  He liked all the angels, but didn’t think Michael was a very good choice for firstborn.  He was showy.  He dressed himself with an attitude of ‘I know everything and I am the superior one, and sucked up compliments constantly and thought himself worthy of them.  He thought him an idol the angels worshipped, usurping God’s place in the scheme of things, and trying to be an authority when he should leave people alone to live their own lives and not put up with the whims of an angel only focused on ‘being cool’ about things.  Like he was something special.  He talked with Ariel about this and she nodded to him.  ‘But we like to flatter Michael anyway.  We love, remember.  Who cares.  Life goes on.  Michael will get over his superiority complex one day.’

At least Saruviel has a brain about it,’ responded Daniel.  ‘He has authority naturally in him, and wields it well keeping people in line when they listen to him.  More imagination as well.  Michael’s sucks in comparison.’

Then go join Saruviel then,’ she replied.

No.  No thanks in the end.  In the end, I think, he is a bit arrogant as well, and probably has something coming to him from God.  In a million years, or something.’

What’s a year?’ she asked innocently.

The old man talked about it with me.  A measurement of a unit of days.  Count off the same number of days time and again, each being a year.’

Oh,’ said Ariel.  ‘An interesting idea.’

God tells me lots of things,’ said Daniel.

The old man isn’t God.  He just represents him.’

Mmmm,’ said Daniel.  ‘Probably.  I am not sure, though, in the end if he is really that, though.  God.  Despite claiming to be to me.’

Oh, you have doubts about him.’

He thinks to highly of Michael.  The Spirit of God says to me it’s not the same in eternity, later on.  When things are resolved.  When the truth is known.  A new order will arise, when a correction of illusions has been made.’

The Spirit of God?’ she asked him.

A technical term for who God really is.  The big voice.  Not this Jehovah fellow.’

Jehovah?  You and your big words, Daniel.  You are always too technical.  Lighten up.’

He looked softly at her, and walked away.  He didn’t like being rebuked, and sulked for ages when his brothers and sisters had a go at him.

Ariel watched him go.  She’d done that before.  Had a go at him.  She knew it wasn’t right.  The others did it as well.  Teased Daniel.  Seemed everyone liked to do that.  Tease Daniel.  Probably, she should know better.  Probably.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Kantriel surveyed the plane.  Right in the centre of the Realm, a plane, roughly circular, fit for a grand and great home.

It shall be called Zaphon,’ declared Michael confidently to the crowd.  ‘It shall be our home, our eternal abode, our eternal rest, of joy and peace.  Yet, first, according to the word of God, we must make things – tools and such – to construct what he calls a ‘Keep’.  And therein we shall find our salvation.’

 

Kantriel made the first axe, and Saruviel the first saw, Michael designed the first hammer, and Gabriel made nails.  Many long, many short.  Yaramiel and Abraqel worked with rock and, soon, they were making a trial go of an abode north of the plane.  It looked ok when finished, but father told them they would now be challenged to excellence, and when it was torn down, they had been fitted with proper work clothes by the ‘Tailors’ amongst them, the quality of their tools improved greatly, and plans drawn up for the design of the keep.  It would take a long time, was all they were told, the building of Zaphon, but they took to the task and, in the late afternoons, when they drank from the Sellawon, or ate from the fruit of the gardens, they would gaze on the unfolding Zaphon keep and know they had worked a triumph.

 

And then, lo and behold, it was complete.  And then, lo and behold, it was done.

 

And the angels had built themselves a home.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

You really don’t know who God is at all.  Now you say its Jehovah again.  Make up your mind Daniel.’

I’m.  Uncertain,’ he finally responded to Ariel’s point.

Just like you,’ she responded.  ‘Come on.  God is God.  Just the way it is.  Get on with your life.  Leave stupid questions alone.’

I guess so,’ responded the uncertain Daniel the Seraphim, but the question still puzzled him.

 

Later on that year, the year Zaphon had been built, Daniel spied Meludiel alone in the lower dining room.  He looked at her, and he wasn’t sure if she noticed him, but he looked at her, fascinated yet again by her beauty, and coveted her heart.  But then he rebuked himself yet again, left the room, and went down to the Sellawon.  Meludiel would never like him.  She would always be faithful to Ambriel.  He would never impress her.  But still he looked, and still he ogled, but acting on that impulse.  Well he would never do that, would he?  Would he?

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Saruviel sat there, in the darkness, alone, nobody else around, thinking to himself, alone, nobody there, alone – quiet.  Quiet.

 

He was in the cellar of Zaphon keep, sitting in a lounge chair, on the northern wall of the large cellar, a candle he had brought down with him steadily burning away, doing nothing at all but just sitting there, lost in thought.  Hand on chin, resting in the seat, thinking.

 

In the end, when all the hurly burly had come and gone, and they’d had all their celebrations, and built all their marvellous abodes.  In the end when they’d had all their romances, and made all their wonderful friendship clubs and had all their loves.  In the end, when they’d designed every invention capable of and bragged and boasted about being Angels of Glory.  In the end, when it was all said and done, and they’d done everything they were capable of doing, what then?  And really, what was the point?  What was the point?

 

It felt like, in a strange way, that life was meaningless at that point.  Like it was chase after the wind.  Like it served no great purpose and that after you had achieved all your glory, fear God and obey him, and that was all that mattered in the end anyway.

 

And then, in the end, why serve God?  If life was that predictable, that mundane, that according to plan, why serve God at all?  Perhaps he was just a bit boring in the end.  And perhaps he just made the angels conform to his whims for his own pleasure, for his own sense of glory and accomplishment.  Perhaps he didn’t really care at all, and just had made them for his good pleasure.  Perhaps that was what it was all about.

 

But that wasn’t fair.  They deserved better than that.  The angels of glory, they deserved much better than that – than being mere ‘play things’ for the cosmic creator.

 

And suddenly he was annoyed, and suddenly he was angry, and suddenly he was pissed off.

 

But he kept his anger to himself, and he kept his thoughts to himself, and he thought on the evening stars, and he thought on the truth he knew.

 

And time would tell of what would be.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

The operation is ready to go,’ said Kantriel, his face covered in black ash, wearing khaki clothes like the rest of them, all garbed up in ‘Evening Stars Elite’ uniforms.

Ready?’ queried Saruviel to all the Evening Stars surrounding Zaphon.  ‘ATTACK!’

And in they moved, like death shadows, bags full of pooey laundry and, one by one, while the angels slept, dropped the pooey whites onto the faces of the sleeping Seraphim.

All around Zaphon, for the next half an hour, outbursts of ‘Pooo, what’s the stink,’ as one by one the Evening Stars heard shocked yells of ‘What the heck!’ and so on.

 

Eventually, Michael in the lead, they all appeared downstairs in the main lobby outside of the dining room.  And there, on the lounge chairs, sat the evening stars, smirking at each other, and looking oh so not innocent.

Are you guys responsible for this?’  Michael asked them instantly, holding a shitty sheet.

We’ve been playing bush games,’ responded Kantriel.  ‘What, you couldn’t hold it in?’

Very funny,’ said Gabriel.  Daniel strolled up, then, from out of the keep, not having been affected by the situation.

Was this you Daniel?’ they all asked him, looking at the innocent Seraphim.

It was Daniel,’ some of them started yelling, perhaps too nervous to accuse Saruviel and his crew.

Daniel looked on, and suddenly burst into tears, and ran out the way he had come, Ariel quickly running after him.

 

But Michael glared at the confident Saruviel.  He knew who it was.  And Saruviel would get his come uppance one day.  You could count on that.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Nobody likes me,’ said Daniel miserably.  But Ariel held him in her arms, and rocked him gently.  They were there half the night, sitting next to a Zaphon porch, Daniel feeling sad, and Ariel rocking him and singing softly to him.  She told him stories and adventures and said to him that life and eternity would go on forever and see millions, perhaps billions of different places and adventures for each of them, and they would have countless friends and intimates before, at the end of it all, they would find each other again, and then, when all was said and done, Daniel Would love Ariel and Ariel would Love Daniel, and that would be that.

 

And Daniel fell asleep in Ariel’s arms, and she watched his eye movements, and wondered what strange dreams he would have, and she loved him with all her heart.  With all her heart.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

One day you will have to grow up, though.  If you want to be firstborn.’

Saruviel acknowledged the words of the old man.  ‘But, even that?  What’s the point?  Of it all?’

You.  You will have to figure that out for yourself.  It’s in your heart,’ and the old man patted Saruviel on the back, and wandered away, and Saruviel sat there, on eastern porch of Zaphon, thinking about life.  It was sunny at the moment, and the angels were mostly around there at the moment, celebrating Daniel’s birthday.  Ariel was seated next to him all day, and after the stunt they pulled recently, Saruviel knew what was coming to Daniel.  He got up, went inside, and soon returned with the sealed package.

 

He weaved through the crowd, and sat down next to Daniel.

Ho, its Saruviel,’ said Michael to everyone.  ‘Does he have a great gift for Daniel?’

Let’s see, Saruviel,’ said all the angels in unison.

Saruviel looked at Daniel.  ‘You know, you’re a pretty special guy, Danny.  When it all comes right down to it.  We want you in the Evening Stars, and we promise to behave a bit better about it all.’

And Saruviel undid the package, and revealed an Evening Stars Elite uniform, which Daniel put on, and it fitted perfectly.

Daniel smiled, and Ariel beamed at him all day long.

 

And, from the corner of the celebration, the old man looked on, and also smiled at Daniel, and said to himself.  ‘An Evening Star?  When all is said and done?  Very well then.  His glory shall certainly be challenging because of it.’

And the Spirit of God said in the throneroom of Zaphon ‘AMEN!’.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Saruviel and Devuel were at Michael’s fort.  ‘They don’t come here much, anymore.  Since Zaphon’s been built,’ said Devuel casually.

Life moves on,’ responded Saruviel, digging into the dirt at his feet.

Yeh.  Who knows where we will be in a million years, huh?’

Ruling trillions,’ responded Saruviel.

Very funny.  There are only 140 of us,’ responded Devuel.

You think that is the way it will always be?’ queried Saruviel, looking directly at his younger Evening Star brother.

I don’t know.  Won’t it?’

Saruviel just looked at him and continued digging.

 

A distance away Semambarel and Kantriel and Daraqel were all playing around, throwing pine cones at each other, acting like idiots.  Saruviel gave them a glance, but continued what he was doing.

More angels?’ asked Devuel, curious.

Sure, why not?’ responded Saruviel.  ‘You think God is satisfied with just 140 of us?  He wants unlimited numbers, probably, in the end.  A neverending supply.’

And how do you know this?’

It’s what he’s raising us for,’ responded the all-knowing Saruviel.

Maybe he’s made others already,’ thought Devuel out loud.

Maybe,’ said Saruviel.

Fuck.  It would be intense if we had other brothers and sisters.  People he hasn’t talked to us about.’

Out there,’ said Saruviel, pointing.  ‘Out there.  It must go on forever.  It just has to.  If there was a real end to it, what lies beyond that?’

Dunno,’ responded Devuel.

Just that.  God hasn’t worked there yet.  But he will.  I am certain of it.  And it’s our destiny to be part of it.’

Our destiny?’ queried Devuel.

Our Destiny,’ confirmed Saruviel.

Devuel just looked at his brother, considering his thoughts.  Just like Saruviel.  To meditate on the heavy shit in life.  Just like him.

 

Suddenly a pine comb hit Saruviel on the head, and the three others bore down on them, and another of the Evening Stars famous wrestling sessions began, a tight fought contest, for they were reasonably well matched.  And the spirit of God observed some of the more memorable cussing this little group had portrayed so far, and even though he raised an occasional eyelid, he let it be.  Such were the Evening Stars of God.  And how could he ever really complain?

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Daniel and Kantriel were on the northern edge of the Realm, near the Rim.  The Rim was the edge of the Realm of Eternity, the realm being roughly circular in shape.  You couldn’t really transverse the rim, though, as everyone knew.  If you flew out beyond it you would go only so far, and while you would keep on flying and might feel like you were, if you looked back at the realm you would notice you were not getting any further away.  A very strange design of God, which had always puzzled the angels, Daniel especially.

 

Meludiel will never like you,’ said Kantriel, to a subject Daniel had gingerly raised.  Of all the angels, it was usually Kantriel who Daniel seemed to be able to get along with a little, although he had been interested in making friends with Valandriel for a long time, but who always seemed to be doing this or that.

Your right.  I know.  She likes Ambriel too much.’

What do you expect?  Their twins?’

But she doesn’t hang around him very much,’ responded Daniel.

You know how girls are,’ said Kantriel.  ‘Shantriel doesn’t even talk to me at all hardly, but she’s my twin, and occasionally I see her looking at me.  She doesn’t like the Evening Stars thing, though.  Upsets her.  Wants me to be a Morning Star.’

An Evening Star is more interesting,’ responded Daniel.  ‘But sometimes I feel I am different type of Star entirely.’

Yeh.  The poo Star,’ said Kantriel, grinning.

And you’re the Shit Star,’ replied Daniel, and grabbed his brother, as they wrestled away for a while.

 

If I’m the Shit Star, there must be a Piss Star,’ said Kantriel, smiling.

That’s Daraqel,’ smiled Daniel.

Which makes Saruviel your Pee Star,’ replied Kantriel, a huge grin on his face.

Then what is Semambarel?’ asked Daniel.

The Vomit star,’ suggested Kantriel.

Which makes Devuel the Puke Star,’ finished Daniel, and they started laughing.

 

But your both idiot stars,’ said Ariel, who had snuck up on them and been watching them quietly.

Don’t worry,’ said Kantriel.  ‘She’s the bitch star.’

Kantriel!’ scolded Ariel.  ‘A lovely way to talk about your sister,’ but she softened on him.

 

What’s Ambriel?’ asked Daniel.

The Gay Star,’ replied Ariel, and all three of them burst out laughing.

And Michael?’ asked Daniel.

The Dork Star,’ said Devuel.

 

And one by one, by the Sellawon, for the rest of the afternoon, the group of three little angels proceeded to mock the entire heavenly host, granting them quite rude and disturbing titles of eternal Star Glory.  And God reminded himself to write the entire list down, despite the vulgar, and quite shocking, display of onomatic brilliance from the 3 little devils.


* * * * *


'Gabriel. Dear brother. Can I have a word?'

Gabriel turned to the voice. It was Saruviel.

'Yes, Saruviel. How can I help you?'

'You speak with God. Of course, we all do, but I find that he seems to confide in you most of all, these days especially.'

Gabriel almost blushed. What Saruviel had said was somewhat true, now, he had noticed. While Michael had always been the firstborn and chief advocate from their Father from 'Eternity's Haven', were God in the throneroom was known to summon Michael often and speak with him, instructing him on what he should tell the angels, in recent times it had been Gabriel more and more so which had been chosen for this role. And quite apparently that had been noticed.

'Well, thanks Sarry. What do you want me to ask him?'

'Its not so much a request, but an inquiry. An inquiry on, how shall we put it, permissions.'

Gabriel was puzzled. Permissions? What was Saruviel driving at.

'What sort of permissions?' inquired Gabriel.

'Exactly just that,' replied Saruviel. 'I wish to know, how can I put it, our freedoms. What are the liberties we are allowed here in Eternity? What can we do? What can we get away with?'

'Get away with?' responded Gabriel a little concerned. 'You want to get away with something?'

'You misunderstand me,' responded Saruviel. 'I'm not trying to get away with anything at all. Far be it for the seventhborn of God to wish to cause disharmony in the community. I just wish to know the kind of behaviours we can perhaps practice, even perhaps a little casually, without drawing concern from God. What does he tolerate?'

'Well, he has always tolerated quite a bit,' responded Gabriel. 'God loves us. You know that. Why such a strange question?'

'Good to know what you think,' responded Saruviel, even a little sharply. 'But I'd like to hear God's opinion on the subject. If that is ok, mind you. You don't mind asking, do you?'

'Uh, no. No, sure,' replied Gabriel. 'Its a strange question, personally, as we are really just supposed to behave ourselves and get along. But if you wish to know the limits of our playfulness, sure. I will ask him for you.'

'Thanks,' replied Saruviel. 'Very gracious of you. Look, I'll check back with you in a few days, if that's ok.'

'Sure,' responded Gabriel.

Saruviel nodded, looked at his brother cautiously for a moment, and smiled. 'Well, I'll be seeing you. And thanks. I look forward to the answer. Seeya.'

Saruviel turned and left and, as Gabriel watched him go, he puzzled for a moment on the strange question but then, his thoughts returned to what he was doing, turned and continued on with his busy day.


* * * * *


'What was his answer then?' asked Kantriel.

'Officially, the Father of Glory loves all his children and their playful hearts. But there are limits in behaviour, and Torah answers such dilemmas. Nothing more was said,' responded Saruviel.

'Torah doesn't restrict us much,' said Daraqel, of the tightknit group of 3.

'Oh, it has ideas,' responded Saruviel. 'He does not tolerate all that we might think to do. There are words in their which have shades of judgement.'

'Judgement?' asked Kantriel. 'What the heck is that?'

'The rulings of God,' said Saruviel soberly. 'And that is what I fear quite strongly. That God will have his rulings upon us and that, in truth, we are not as free as we might imagine.'

'So what?' queried Kantriel, who was now munching on their lunch meal.

'Yeh, what's the big issue?' said Daraqel, in response.

Saruviel looked upon his two younger Seraphim brothers. They did not, yet, have quite the imagination that he had hoped for.

'In the accomplishing of glory, sometimes rules need to be bent,' said Saruviel.

'Ooh, bend the rules,' grinned Kantriel.

'Suffer the judgement of God,' said Daraqel dramatically.

'Indeed,' replied Saruviel, who said nothing more, as they continued on with their meal.


* * * * *


Ambriel was the 60th born of the Seraphim of Eternity, who worked with Raphael and Loquiel and others to bring harmony to the lives of God's children. He was a ministering angel, an angel of great love and, under Raphael, worked faithfully and tirelessly to bring peace and harmony to the community of God's angels. Today he was busy enough, and then Raphael made a request of him.

'Ambs.'

'Yes, Raphael,' responded Ambriel, looking up at his bigger brother.

'I have a task for you. A request from God, actually. Saruviel. He wants you to take a bit of an interest in him for a while. Chat with him. Hang around a bit. See if all is well with him.'

'Sure,' smiled Ambriel warmly. 'I'd love to do that.'

'Good. Thanks,' said Raphael, and returned to what he was doing.

Ambriel was happy. He loved all his brothers and sisters, and Saruviel as well. And it delighted him that God had given him this special task to watch over Saruviel. He wouldn't let him down, and would be careful and quiet and monitor Saruviel and report to Raphael whatever was happening. A good time to spend some quality time with his older brother, he thought happily to himself, as he returned to his task at hand and got on with his day.




Chapter Three - The Rim

 

Michael, sitting his room one fine day in eternity, was contemplating some strategies in Chulara, which was also known as Katchular – or by the fuller name of Katchulara.

 

A knock came to the door, and he went to answer it.  Elenniel, his twin sister, stood there.  ‘Michael.  We need to speak.’  He let her in and they sat down in his bed.  She looked at him.  ‘Michael.  Do you love me?’  He looked at her, and looked down at his lap, thinking on his answer.  He looked at her again, ‘Yes, sister.  I do.’  She asked once more.  ‘Do you love me.  Do you love me in that special way you love no other sister?’  He thought on his answer, and in honesty knew he could respond in the way she perhaps desired.  ‘Yes Elenniel.  I do.’  She looked at him, kissed him on the forehead, and left.

 

He smiled, a slight smile and returning to his thinking of strategy for chulara, decided to go to visit the rim for some quite space to think.  To think on Chulara and, perhaps, other thoughts which had just entered his head.

 

Coming down the stairwell and turning to walk along the corridor, a voice hailed him.

Michael, where are you going?’

Michael turned towards the familiar voice.  It was Ambriel, of course.  ‘Nowhere special, Ambriel.’

When Ambriel saw that his question was unlikely to be answered any further, he persisted.  ‘Perhaps you may not think it special, but may I know where it is anyway?’  Michael looked at him and smiled.  ‘Well, if you must know, I am going to the rim.’

A perplexed look came over Ambriel’s face.

The rim!  Why would you want to go to the rim?  There’s nothing there.’

I know Ambriel, I know.’  He paused before speaking further.  ‘I guess I go there for a number of reasons.  I like it there, and it gives me time to think.  But I suppose I mainly go there to be alone for a while.’

Oh,’ Ambriel replied, slightly taken aback, ‘I guess you probably wouldn’t want any company then, would you?’  Michael considered his response before answering. He could tell him no, that he wanted to be alone, as he did.  But something in his heart told him that if Ambriel really wanted to come along with him, then he should let him.  ‘Well I usually go to the rim to be alone, but if you want to come along you may.’  Ambriel’s face brightened.  ‘Are you sure it’s alright?  You really don’t mind?’

No, it’s ok.  Come on then.’  Michael turned and started walking down the corridor, Ambriel following alongside.

 

They came to the bottom of the keep and exited via the large entrance.  The rim was some distance from Zaphon, the place they knew as home.

Michael turned to Ambriel and said, ‘Are you ready?’

Yes’, he replied.  They both then unfurled their wings and took to the sky.  Angels flew with grace and ease, and although the rim was a fair distance by foot, flying would not take them too long.  As he flew, Michael looked over the golden landscape spread out below him.  Close to home there were various gardens filled with all sorts of wonderful flora, but these disappeared the further they went out, to be replaced by large meadows and rolling hills.  Here and there were occasional buildings, which some of his brethren stayed in from time to time.

 

After a while the hills gave way to larger mountains, a sign to Michael that they were getting near their destination.  Shortly he spotted the edge of the mountains where they gave way to the rim.  He waved to Ambriel, signalling that they should descend.  Ambriel nodded consent and they started their way down.  They landed near the summit of one of the smaller mountains and looked around to get their perspective.

Come on’, Michael said to Ambriel.  He pointed towards the edge of the mountain,  ‘The rim is just over there.’

 

The rim was, in essence, the edge of eternity.  Beyond it lay a great expanse of nothingness - a complete void.  To his Father it was the uncreated - a place where he had not yet done any work.  To Michael it was simply the rim.  When he was younger, Michael had flown off the edge to see how far he could go.  To his great surprise he was only able to fly a few metres beyond the edge.  After that, while he was still flying and felt like he was moving forward, he simply did not seem to be going anywhere.  Apparently there was nowhere else for him to go.  Nothing existed beyond a certain point except a great realm of emptiness.  Today there would be no such foolishness.  Michael walked over towards the rim and sat down, legs dangling over the edge.  Ambriel soon came and joined him.

 

After sitting there for a long while and looking out at the nothingness, Ambriel spoke up.

I don’t think I have ever been to this part of the rim before.  Is it a place you come to often?’

No, not really’, Michael replied.  ‘In fact, I don’t think that I have been to this exact spot ever before.’  The silence resumed.  Michael continued staring out at the emptiness, his mind going over recent events.  Before coming to the rim he had been in his room planning strategies for Katchular.  Katchular was a strategic game played with a mat and many different coloured markers.  The object was to trap the opponent’s markers and eliminate them from the game one by one.  Michael was good at the game, and had devised many different strategies for winning.  One of the reasons for him wanting to come to the rim that day was to think about some new strategies he had been working on.  For a long time he had been the best player at the game amongst his brethren, but recently Saruviel had started to improve greatly.  He had even beaten Michael on a few recent occasions.  Michael’s gameplan was usually built around a strong defence.  When he had a strong position he would gradually attack outwards and wear down his opponents.  Saruviel, however, was quite different.  He would attack relentlessly – ruthlessly even.  Michael had to acknowledge that the general strategy seemed to work, and had thought about using some of Saruviel’s moves in his own game.  Michael glanced towards Ambriel and considered him.  Ambriel rarely played Katchular.  When he did he was usually beaten quite soundly.  Perhaps that discouraged him from playing; however Michael didn’t think it was that simple.  Ambriel was a gentle, peaceful fellow.  He did not seem to like contests or competitions that much - they seemed somehow to go against his nature, or so Michael thought.  That didn’t surprise Michael.  Ever since he had known him, Ambriel had been like that. 

 

Michael,’ Ambriel spoke up, interrupting Michael’s thoughts.  ‘Do you ever wonder how Father made us?’  Michael found the question a little puzzling.

How he made us?  Well, I guess I’ve never really thought about it that much.  Thinking about it I suppose he just willed us into existence or something like that.  I couldn’t say for sure.  Why do you ask?’  ‘Well’, he replied a little hesitantly, ‘I was speaking to Saruviel a little while ago and he asked me the same question.  I didn’t know what to tell him, so I thought that I would ask you’.

Oh.  Well, perhaps you should tell him to ask Father.  That would be the easiest way to find out.’

Yes, I guess you’re right.  It probably would be.’ 

 

Ambriel paused a little, before speaking on.

Michael’.

Yes’, he replied.

Have you noticed anything different about Saruviel recently?’

Michael looked straight at him.  ‘Different?  What do you mean?  He seems the same to me.’

Well’, Ambriel replied, ‘I guess you haven’t noticed, but recently Saruviel doesn’t seem to be getting as involved with things at home as he used to.  He is sometimes absent when assembly is called, and he doesn’t come to many of the other gatherings.  He seems to be keeping company mainly with Daraqel and Kantriel but few others.’

No, I guess I hadn’t noticed that’, Michael said.  ‘Have you talked to him about it?’  Does he have a reason for his absences?’

Oh no, I haven’t talked to him about it.  Really, it is just something that I have noticed recently and I was just concerned, that’s all.  I thought I would talk to someone else about it first to see if anyone else had noticed.’  Michael thought on that briefly before continuing.  ‘Well, perhaps Saruviel is just going through some changes.  I remember that when I was younger and speaking with Father, he said that there would come a time in my life when I would go through many changes.  He said that as I grew older I would mature, and that change would be part of my life, and with time I should learn to accept that.  I may be wrong, but perhaps Saruviel is simply going through some changes at the moment and he may just need some time to himself to get used to those changes.  That may be the reason for his absences and him keeping to himself.  I could not say for sure, though.’

Ambriel looked at Michael for a moment as if considering what he had said and then turned and looked out towards the rim.  ‘Yes, I guess it could be that.  Maybe he is just going through some changes, as you say, and needs time to himself.  Perhaps that is all it is’.  Ambriel left off speaking and continued staring out at the rim.

Michael looked at him for a while, then turned his gaze likewise towards the rim.  That was just like Ambriel, to be concerned about others, Michael thought to himself.  It was something that Michael admired about him.

 

His thoughts, however, quickly turned to that of Saruviel.  Michael had not really noticed anything different about Saruviel recently, but he could honestly say that he had not been paying a great deal of attention.  As head of the assembly, Michael had many duties, which often kept him occupied for hours at a time.  He didn’t always have the time to concern himself with the everyday affairs of his fellow brethren.  It was not that he only had little interest in them; it was not that at all.  It was just that his duties kept him busy for the majority of the time, and in his free time he usually liked to do his own thing.

 

Perhaps that was something he would have to look at.  His responsibilities were important to him and he enjoyed doing them.  As firstborn of the assembly it was his right and responsibility to be the head and set an example for his brethren.  However, if those responsibilities caused him to neglect his friendships and relationships with his brethren, friendships and relationships that were fundamental to his life, then perhaps he would have to think again about how he handled them.  ‘Was he really as involved with his brothers as he should be?’  he questioned himself.  He always attended assembly and most of the gatherings, and at those times he would speak with many of his brethren.  However, if he had really been taking an interest, why hadn’t he noticed Saruviel’s absences?  ‘Perhaps I should speak to Father and ask his advice’, he thought to himself.  It was a way in which Michael handled many of his difficulties.  ‘If there is any problem, he will be able to help me.’

 

After having sat there for a lone while pondering the various happenings in his life, Michael turned his attention towards the sky.  The afternoon was fading fast and night was approaching.  Throughout the realm of eternity, as his Father had called it, there were divisions in time that he had called day and night.  Day was the time when things were light and colourful.  It was a time for activity.  A time when work was undertaken and gatherings took place.  A time that Michael enjoyed a great deal.  However, when the day’s activities were done, darkness would descend.  His Father had said that a period of rest was necessary.  A time to be recovered and to be refreshed.  Work could not go on indefinitely.  There needed to be a time of sleep, as he had called it, after which the activities could begin again, with a renewed strength.

 

Michael turned towards Ambriel.  “It’s getting late.  We should probably be making our way back.’

Ambriel nodded his consent ‘Yes, I guess you are right.  I have enjoyed myself though.  I think I am beginning to understand why you like coming here.  It is very quiet, and the rim does have a sort of attraction to it, doesn’t it?’

Michael smiled, ‘You’ve noticed.  I don’t know what it is about this place, but it seems to help me focus my thoughts.  A good place to think.’  Michael stood up and stretched himself.  ‘Anyway, it’s getting late, and I am a little hungry.  Are you ready to go?’

Yes’, Ambriel replied.  ‘Let’s go’.

Michael turned away from the rim and took to the sky. 

As they flew along, Michael thought on the afternoon he had just spent.  He hadn’t really come up with any new strategies for Katchular, but that didn’t really bother him.  Ambriel had been good company, and had raised an issue that Michael felt important.  All things considered, an afternoon well spent.

 

As they got closer to home, Michael could make out the lights of Zaphon in the distance.  Zaphon, or eternity’s haven as it was also called, was the place Michael knew as home.  Thinking back, he remembered the time of it being built.  Originally, when he was very young, he and his brethren had lived in a garden environment.  The garden provided all they needed to eat and afforded many places for recreation and rest.  However, after time had passed and more of his brethren had come into being, his Father had said it was necessary to build a more appropriate place for them to live and dwell in - a place which they could truly call home.

 

Building that home had been a valuable learning experience for Michael.  Father had placed him in charge of the project and given him the essential idea of what he had in mind.  Bringing that plan to completion was Michael’s responsibility.  Before any of the work had taken place, however, Father had first taught the angels how it might be accomplished.  He had given them instruction in how tools could be made, that were then used for cutting down wood and quarrying stone, which would be the materials used for the construction of the keep.

 

Countless days passed in the building of the keep, far too many for Michael to remember them all.  But as it progressed and neared completion, Michael had felt a growing sense of satisfaction.  Satisfaction at achieving something worthwhile.  When the project was finally complete, there had been a great celebration.  Working together, the angels had achieved something.  They had built themselves a home.  Those days were, of course, long ago.  But Michael always felt happy in reminiscing about them.

 

As they both neared Zaphon Michael signalled that they should descend.  Ambriel obliged and they started circling downwards.  Once grounded, Michael waved to Ambriel, ‘It looks like dinner will be upon us shortly.  I am going to go clean up a little.  I will see you there?’  ‘For sure,’ replied Ambriel.  ‘After that flight I am feeling quite hungry,’ Ambriel patted his stomach, ‘and my belly is starting to make strange noises.’

Michael laughed shaking his head a little, and then turned and started making his way up the steps of the keep.

 

After cleaning himself up with the wash basin in his room, Michael put on a clean tunic, and started making his way towards the diner hall.  As he made his way along the upper hallway of the keep where the dorms were, his attention turned to the workmanship along the walls and ceiling.  The construction that he and his brethren had done in the building of the keep had indeed been good work.  The stone bricks and the woodwork fitted together perfectly, and it would likely be many millennia before any of it needed replacing.  He particularly admired some of the engravings that Elenniel had carved into the walls.  She was very talented at her craft, and all sorts of elaborate figures, shapes and designs were carved into the stonework and woodwork that ran along the halls of the keep.

 

Every now and again Michael would visit Elenniel at her workshop located north of Zaphon.  She spent much of her time there carving and engraving in both wood and stone, and Michael enjoyed spending time with her inspecting her latest work.  He actually liked spending time with her regardless. She was a quiet angel and did not speak very much.  But when she did speak, it was obvious her words were carefully chosen.  She often challenged Michael to think about things in a different light - to consider viewing things from a different perspective.  It was a quality that he liked about her and something he tried to put into practice for himself.  Taking one last look at some of the designs, he turned and started making his way down the stairwell to the bottom floor.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

The dinner hall was alive with chatter as he came through the large doorways, a hush soon descending though, as his presence became known.  He smiled and nodded at some of his brethren in his immediate vicinity and gradually made his way towards the table at the head of the room.  Michael sat at the head table in the dining hall – one of the privileges of his birthright.  Fortunately, he had come just in time, as he eyed a dinner trolley being wheeled in from the side doorway.  Michael took his seat and glanced around.  The room appeared near full.  It seemed that most of his brethren were in attendance that night.  It was not always as such.  Often, many of the angels were away, staying at some of the smaller keeps located around the realm.  It was usually only on special occasions that most were in attendance at Zaphon.

 

Michael,’

Michael turned his attention to the angel seated opposite him.  ‘Yes Jerahmeel,’ he replied.

It would seem that you are almost late for dinner.  That’s not like you,’ said Jerahmeel.

Yes, I do apologise’ replied Michael.  ‘Ambriel and I had spent the afternoon away from the keep.  Time perhaps got away from us a little.  Anyway, most of the brethren appear to be here this evening.  Is there some event that I am not aware of?’

Jerahmeel looked around the room.  ‘Yes, the room does appear near full.  But to answer your question, no, there is no special event that I am aware of.’  Jerahmeel looked at him, a slight grin on his face.  ‘Perhaps a bout of homesickness has overcome some of them.’

Michael laughed.  ‘Yes, I am sure that’s it.’ 

 

His attention turned towards the angel seated next to Jerahmeel.  ‘Sariel.  It is good to see you.  I haven’t seen you at dinner for a while.  Is there some special reason for you being with us tonight?’

It is good to see you as well Michael,’ Sariel replied.  ‘Actually yes, I think I can tell you why there are so many of us here this evening.  Gabriel has requested our presence.  He came to see me, and many others, this afternoon and asked if I would come along tonight.’  ‘Oh,’ said Michael, his curiosity aroused.  ‘Did he give you some reason?’

Only that he missed us, and would appreciate it if we came tonight.  He may have some other reason, but he did not share that with me.’  Sariel’s attention turned towards an angel who had made her way to the side of their table and was about to start serving.  ‘Dinner is upon us brothers.’

 

After making his way through a plate of steamed vegetables and baked langwah, Michael turned his attention back to Sariel.  ‘So you say Gabriel asked you here tonight.’

Sariel nodded.

I wonder if he has an announcement to make?’  queried Michael.

Sariel smiled.  ‘I wouldn’t know, Michael.  I took what he said at face value.  Simply that he missed us and would appreciate our company for dinner.’

Oh well,’ replied Michael.   ‘I guess if he does have an announcement to make he will speak up shortly.  Sariel, I was wondering ....’  began Michael, but before he could speak any further, a tinging noise was being made over to his left. 

 

Heads turned to see Gabriel standing, tapping on a glass with a fork to gain the attention that was now focused on him.  Gabriel looked around the room at his brethren.  ‘Brothers, Sisters.  I am glad that you could  all make it this evening.  On such short notice I am very grateful that so many of you were able to attend.  Firstly, I would like to thank Shannel, Muriel and Kaladel for the excellent meal they have prepared for us this evening.  The langwah is the best that I have had in a long time.’  Gabriel nodded towards the cooking staff seated at the side of the room.  ‘A very fine meal Shannel.  You have outdone yourself.’

Shannel, Zaphon’s head cook, smiled back.  She was used to receiving compliments from Gabriel, but always received them graciously.

 

Gabriel resumed speaking.  ‘Now Brothers, Sisters. As some of you may already suspect, I have not called this gathering tonight for no reason.  Although it is always a delight to see you all together, there is something I wish to discuss with you.’  Gabriel paused, preparing for his next words.  ‘We have all known each other for a long time now.’  Gabriel looked towards Michael, nodding in his direction.  ‘Michael, of course, is our eldest, and he has known each of us from our birth.  All in all, Father has brought to life 140 of us, 70 male and 70 female.  We are the Angelic Seraphim.  Children of God and Father’s precious delight.  Father has given us this realm of eternity to live in, and Zaphon, the place we know as home.’  He paused again to add emphasis to his following words.  ‘As many of you know, I speak with him often, and recently he has begun to tell me of plans that he has made.’  Gabriel paused briefly.  ‘Plans to start creating again.’  A buzz quickly started around the room.

Michael looked at Gabriel in astonishment.  ‘Creating!’ he mouthed to himself silently, startled at the announcement.  ‘Creating?’  He is going to start working again?’

 

Gabriel started tapping on his glass again to silence the chatter.  ‘Yes, I know the news may come as a shock to some of you.  But let me first say that it has always been his intent to continue working at some time in the future.  We and the realm that we live in are the first of his works, that is true.  But he has told me quite firmly that the time is approaching when he will soon start his creative works again.  He has not told me when this will happen, only that it will be soon.’

 

Matrel who was seated near the back of the room stood up and waved to get Gabriel’s attention.  ‘But why would he want to create again?  Is he not satisfied with us?  With our realm?  Is there something wrong with us that he would want to create all over again?’  His words seemed to echo some of the concerns of the other angels present.

Please, Matrel. Let me assure you that that is most definitely not the case.  Father loves us - dearly.  He often tells me how proud he is of each of you, and with the way that you are living your lives.  This new creative endeavour that he plans in no way threatens what he has already done.  He has assured me strongly that it will only enhance our lives.  But please, hear Davriel.  Father has given some words to him to share with us.’

 

Davriel who was seated next to Gabriel stood up and started speaking.  ‘Brother, Sisters.  let me first repeat Gabriel’s assurances in saying that this new work will only enhance what he has already created.  Now, what he intends doing is simple.  As some of you may know, the realm we live in stretches from Zaphon our home at the centre of the realm outwards, a distance of approximately 50,000 cubits to the rim.  And the realm is roughly circular in shape.  Father has told me that he intends extending that distance to the rim outwards, from 50,000 cubits to,’  Davriel paused and looked around to add emphasis to the words that he was about to speak, ‘to 5,000,000 cubits!’  The buzz in the room seemed to increase a notch with that announcement.  ‘Furthermore, and this is perhaps the most exciting news of all.  While we Seraphim are the firstborn of his children, it is his intent that we are to no longer be alone.  Stating it simply, Father intends to add to us more brothers and sisters.  To bring forth more members of the Assembly of God.  And from what Father has told myself and Gabriel, they are to be vast in number.’  With those words said, the chatter around the room reached a new level.  Davriel, satisfied that his words had been received and understood, returned to his seat. 

 

Michael sat for a long moment staring towards Gabriel and Davriel, and then turned his attention back towards Jerahmeel.  ‘Well’, he said after a while, ‘how about that!’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Later  on, as dinner had ended and most of his brethren had retired for the evening, Michael made his way out of the dinner hall towards the lounge, where he had a hunch Gabriel would be.  He found him seated on one of the lounges deep in conversation with Davriel.  Michael sat down opposite him, and waited until he had their attention.  After a short while Gabriel stopped speaking with Davriel and turned towards Michael.  Sensing Michael’s mood, Gabriel put his hand up, as if to stop Michael from speaking.  ‘Yes, I think I know what you are going to say.  Why were you not told sooner?’

Michael looked at him sharply, a slight edge in his voice.  ‘Well, yes Gabriel.  With news like this I really should have been made aware of it before you had shared it with any of the others.  As firstborn it is my right to know about things like this as soon as they are known.’  He paused before continuing.  ‘How long have you known that Father was planning to do this?’

I understand your concerns Michael, I really do.’  Gabriel replied.  ‘I had thought about sharing this with you as soon as I found out.  But Father asked me not to.  He simply said it would be better to share it with all the brethren at the same time.  And that includes yourself.  Only me and Davriel had known about it before tonight.’

Michael persisted, ‘And how long had you known about it?’

Gabriel gave him a look belying his frustration at Michael’s persistence.  ‘You don’t give up, do you?  Well, to tell you the truth, I first got an idea that this might be on his mind a few months ago.  Father had not said anything definite, but he had perhaps dropped some hints that had given me the idea.  But officially he told me three weeks ago.’

Three weeks!’ exclaimed Michael.  ‘Three weeks!’ he repeated for emphasis.  ‘And you have waited until now before sharing this with us?  Why such a long wait?’  ‘Well,’ Gabriel began cautiously, sensing Michael’s disapproval.   ‘Father felt that the time was not right to share it with all the brethren immediately.  My belief is that he wanted to see how Davriel and myself handled the news before sharing it with anyone else.  As you can probably understand, I was a little unsettled at first.  But he has assured me that he knows exactly what he is doing, which of course he does.’

Seemingly satisfied with that response, the tension in Michael’s voice diminished somewhat.  ‘Well, I guess if that is how he wanted the news delivered, then it was probably the right way.’

Yes, I think so,’ Gabriel replied.

Michael smiled.  ‘You know, when I think about it, I guess I should have known that this would happen eventually.  I was at the rim this afternoon with Ambriel.  Looking out I remembered something that Father had told me when I was much younger.  He said that the rim was the edge of eternity.  That it marked the boundary between the created and the uncreated - between our realm and a place where he had not yet done any work.  I guess the possibility was always there that he would work again one day.  And I guess that day has come.’

Gabriel pondered those words.  ‘To tell you the truth, I had never really thought about it.  I don’t really go to the rim very often.  It just seems like the edge of our realm to me.  But, yes.  It is where he will do his further work.’

Michael motioned to Davriel, ‘You said that there would be more brothers and sisters.  More like us.  I had thought that the number of Seraphim was complete.  After all this time is he to add more brethren to our fold?’

Davriel considered his words carefully before replying.  ‘Yes, it is as you say.  The number of Seraphim is complete.  Father told me quite clearly that our number will not be added to.’  Davriel glanced towards Gabriel before continuing.  ‘As we said in the dining room earlier, Father has not yet shared all of his plans for our new brethren with us.  All I can really say is that they will be like us in many ways, but that they will not be identical.  They will not be Seraphim.’

Not Seraphim,’ Michael said.  ‘Then what?  Will they be angels like us?’

Gabriel answered for Davriel.  ‘I am afraid that we really can not answer that question Michael.  That is about the limit of our knowledge on the subject.  But it is as Davriel has said.  They will be like us in many ways, but not identical.  However Father has said quite clearly that they will be our brethren.  And that is all we know.’ 

Mmm.  Well then,’ Michael said, and looked at them for a short while before continuing, ‘It would seem then that our lives are about to change quite dramatically.  But if this is what Father has planned then it would be best if we got used to the idea.’

Indeed,’ Gabriel replied.  Michael looked down at the ground, in thought, ‘I think it would be best if both of you made yourselves generally available over the next few days.  I am sure that all of our brethren will be wanting to ask you many questions, especially those who were not at dinner tonight.’

Certainly.’  Gabriel replied.

Yes, of course’ said Davriel.

Good’.  Michael said, ‘and I do appreciate the way that you broke this news this evening.  It was handled well.’  ‘Thanks,’  Gabriel replied. 

 

Michael looked at them a short while, seemingly satisfied with what had been said.  ‘Well, if you two will excuse me, it is getting late and it has been a long day.  A long eventful day.  And I have much to think about.’  ‘Yes, it has,’ Gabriel replied.  ‘I will see you tomorrow, Michael.  Good night.’

Yes, good night,’ echoed Davriel.  Michael nodded at them smiling, and made his way out of the lounge.

 

As he made his way along the lower hallway towards the stairwell leading up to the dormitories, a voice hailed him from behind.  He turned to see Ambriel standing there, a big grin on his face.

Michael, isn’t this news amazing.  We are to have new brethren!’

Yes,’ Michael replied.  He could tell from the way that Ambriel was smiling that the news had gone well with him.  Although he had fears for the way many of his brethren would receive the news, fears that they would feel threatened in their position, it was obvious that there would be no such problems with Ambriel.

 

Yes,’ he continued.  ‘It looks as if Father has decided that we are ready to be added to.  Our family is to grow Ambriel.’

Yes,’ he replied.  ‘I can hardly wait.  Do you think ...’, Ambriel began.

Michael put his hands up to stop him from continuing.  ‘Please Ambriel.  It has been a long day, and I am tired.  I am sure your questions can wait until tomorrow.’

Oh.  Oh, of course,’ said Ambriel, slightly taken aback.  ‘Yes, they can wait.  Well, good night then Michael.’ ‘Good night Ambriel.’  Ambriel smiled at him and then turned and walked away.  Michael watched him briefly and the turned and started making his way towards the stairwell and up to his room.

 

Taking a small candle from a cache underneath a torch that was burning along the upper hallway, Michael lit it and entered his room.  He sat down on his bed and placed the candle in the lamp that was on the table alongside his bed.  With the lamp lit, he replaced it on the table, and sat back down on his bed.  His thoughts were all over the place.  As he changed from his dinner tunic into a sleeping gown, Michael wondered in his heart about how these new events would really affect life in Zaphon.  He was now quite used to his life, and the little change that usually went along with it. Oh, there had always been new things.  New events and occurrences which changed life somewhat.  From the new inventions such as the lamp he used that lit up his room, to the various celebrations, and the new songs to be sung in choir.  But these things never really changed the routine in Zaphon very much.  Life went on as usual and lives were lived.  However, now that Father was to begin work again, change was coming.  And not minor change, but change that would alter the very way that they lived their lives.  Michael was not sure if he was ready for such a change.  He liked things as they were now.  But if Father indeed wanted to begin working again, then he knew he should be in favour of it, even if his heart was not ready.

 

Perhaps I need to be more like Ambriel,’ he thought to himself.  ‘He is looking forward to it.’  That was perhaps a strength in Ambriel that Michael didn’t have.  It seemed that Ambriel could accept change quite well.  But perhaps the real reason for Ambriel’s apparent joy, or so Michael suspected, was the announcement that Father would bring to life more brothers and sisters.  Ambriel valued his friendships with his brethren a great deal, and now that there would be more of them, that only afforded him more opportunities to gain new friends and make new relationships.  But whatever the reason for Ambriel’s reaction to the news, it was the positive example that he had set that Michael knew that he should try to emulate in some way.  He was the firstborn and the head of the Assembly.  He needed to be in agreement with this new direction that Father planned to take them in, to be wholehearted about it.  And he needed his brethren to know that.  Perhaps both for their sake and his.  As he lay on his bed staring up at the ceiling, he wondered if that really would be the case.  ‘Time will only tell,’ he thought to himself, as he closed his eyes and searched for sleep.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

The Seraphim Saruviel sat alone, in the darkness, within Glimmersphon keep.  In his mind, a relentless crusade had been happening.  A crusade of questioning, seeking, trying to find answers to questions – questions which didn’t even seem to fit into words.  Kantriel and Daraqel had left earlier that night, returning to Glimmersphon.  He was alone, now, his only silent companion, the ever friendly and faithful, Dameriel, house-steward of Glimmersphon keep.  Dameriel had sung a song for him earlier that night.  It was entitled ‘This is your song?’  It was a gem to Saruviel – a masterpiece.  And he appreciated his brother for it – with an appreciation he would have to, in time, show.

 

What is life?’ he thought to himself.  ‘If whatever will be will be, as my principle of Torah says, is life unplanned?  Is there no destiny?’  He thought on this.  He thought on this and, in the end, reached no conclusion.  For the time being it lay unanswered.  Yet he would not yet relent – he would seek until he had found the answer – or the answers – his heart yet desired.

 

Perhaps it is just a mystery after all,’ he thought, and took another sip of Melit water as the dark night outside plodded along on its endless crusade to prepare for the dawn.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Sariel, sitting alone in Dalnaphon keep, on the northern edge of the Realm of Eternity, having just flown home from his dinner at Zaphon, contemplated his sister Gloryel.  He was truly a solitary creature.  Not that he didn’t find joy or peace with others of his brethren, yet the eighth born of the Seraphim of Eternity found so much peace, as his brother Azrael likewise seemingly did, residing alone.  Yet Gloryel had visited him the night before, just to say hello, and he contemplated the fact that his twin, of all the females amongst the Seraphim, did seem the most appropriate to be his twin, whatever such realities ever meant.

 

Jerahmeel was due for a visit shortly, and he looked forward to it.  Perhaps he would prepare a fine meal.  It would be a quiet, peaceful way, to enjoy the company of one of his favourite brothers.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Ambriel was excited.  He had spoken to all his brethren, practically the evening before and this morning, and looked into their thoughts on the new creation.  It would wonderful – so wonderful – to have new brothers and sisters.  His God, truly, was a God of love.  And he would never forget the love of creation God had promised them.  He would love each of his new brothers and sisters, and delight in their presence.  What else, after all, could possibly give life meaning.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Meludiel was happy.  Just plain happy.  Her new musical work was now complete.  It had been completed yesterday afternoon, and then the evening was marked with the news of the new creation.  The timing of God, it seemed, was impeccable.  Her piece, titled, tentatively, ‘The Life we Live in Harmony,’ it was another praise song dedicated to the Father of Glory who she loved with her whole heart.  In him, she was complete.  Who else could she ever possibly need.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Gloryel, in truth, loved her brother Ambriel.  He was such a pure soul, that her crush from earlier days had not left her.  She was determined, in a way.  Perhaps, one day, if she remained near Ambriel as the new realm came to be, and so many other angels came along, she could win his love from the host of them.  Perhaps, hopefully, one day she could achieve the desires of her heart.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

I don’t know, Matrel,’ began his twin Amiel, sitting at the breakfast table.  ‘I think the new creation will probably be fine.  Don’t worry so much, ok.’  Matrel, who was indeed of the worrisome type, perhaps for reasons divine, was concerned.  He was concerned that, with so many new brethren, he would one day be forgotten.  Lost amongst a host of other superior angels.  Left to menial tasks, to boring for others to undertake.

 

I just don’t think it is the best idea, Amiel.  I thought we were the special ones?’  ‘I guess father has other loves as well, brother.  We will just have to accept it.’  He looked at her and nodded.  ‘I guess so.’

 

*    *    *    *    *

 

Michael sat in the library of Zaphon, Brindabel having just given him a morning mug of coffee, filled with soy bean milk.  He noticed Davriel speaking with Brindabel, but returned to the text – early ideas of Davriel’s for a commentary on Torah, to be titled ‘Torah and life.’

 

One idea read as such.  ‘Life is.  It inevitably is.  Wether there be those things which are not life, if in truth such can be, we Seraphim are not as such.  We are living.  We are life.  And so, be alive, Seraphim brethren, I urge you.  Be alive.’  Michael, thinking on this passage, had an idea for how it may continue.  He would speak to Davriel a little later, with a few suggestions, and see what he thought.  But Davriel’s ideas, so far, were really terribly wonderful to behold and think upon.  For this little bit of inspiration, Michael was truly grateful to his Father for his youngest Seraphim brother.

 

Today he expected, perhaps, many inquires about the night before’s announcement.  Whoever came to see him he would have to be ready for.  To be ready to, hopefully, give a good answer and encourage them in the possibilities that God their creator would bring forth.  It was sure to be splendid, he would teach them.  It was certain to be for the best.

 

 

Chapter Four – Shadows and Turning

 

Shadows and turning.  Dragons and demons.  A dark lord, viscious in his might and then, suddenly, Saruviel, opposing him, defeating him, casting him aside.  And then Dameriel awoke.  It was the third night this week he had had similar dreams and, really, he was not quite sure what to make of them.  Saruviel was currently residing in Glimmersphon keep with himself and Kantriel and Daraqel also as regular guests.  Saruviel had asked nobody else to be permitted to stay at the keep at the current time as he needed some time to himself – to sort himself out, in his own words.  Dameriel loved his brother Saruviel a great deal and found no great reason to refuse the request so happily acceded.  But now, not really thinking he should turn his brother away, he was having slight regrets because of the frightening nature of the dreams he had been given.  Really, they were not the cup of tea which Dameriel was used to receiving in his twilight slumber.

 

He rose from his bed, tried to shake the dreams from him, and took a sip of water from the glass beside his bed.  After toiletries he came down to the bottom floor and began breakfast for himself and his guests.  Eventually Saruviel, hearing the crackling oil, came down, sat at the table, and just looked downwards, seemingly deep in his usual current thoughts.  Dameriel looked at him, was not really sure what to say and never really had been, but just finished cooking the meal and placed it in front of his brother.  Saruviel started eating it, gave a cursory nod, and that was about it.  Perhaps both the two of them had had bad dreams – perhaps it was a dark spirit currently hovering over Glimmersphon, not quite satisfied until it had completed its grim mission.

 

Later on in the day Saruviel again came downstairs into the living room were Dameriel was sitting quietly, as per his usual norm, reading a poetry book from Zaphon library, one of Rachel’s.  Dameriel looked up at Saruviel, but Saruviel said nothing and just sat down on a couch, and looked downwards.  Dameriel thought about it for a few moments, but finally decided against bothering his brother.  Best to let him be.

 

It was like that for about half an hour, the two of them sitting there, Saruviel looking downwards, Dameriel reading his book, when Saruviel suddenly spoke.  “And God?  Why do we worship him?”  Dameriel put down his book, suddenly perplexed, and looked at his brother.  “I beg your pardon?”

God,’ continued Saruviel.  “Why do we worship him?  I mean, what is the point?  Why would he need the praise?”  Dameriel was not really a theologian like Davriel or some of the others, but tried answering as best he could.  “Because he made us Saruviel.  Because he is our Lord and deserving of praise.”

So what?  Why does that mean he deserves it?”

I don’t know.  It is just the way it has always been.  The way we do things in the Realm of Eternity.”

Saruviel looked at his brother, completely dissatisfied with that answer, but thought better about asking Dameriel any further questions.  He would just get the same stock replies he had always gotten.  The same simplistic answers.  ‘Yeh, well.  I will be upstairs Dameriel.  Let me know when dinner is ready, okay.”

I will,” he responded.  Saruviel trudged off leaving Dameriel sitting there, thinking over what Saruviel had said.  “Why did he in fact worship God?  And to ask another question Saruviel might ask, did God actually care if they worshipped him or not?  These ideas he softly thought about that afternoon, but as he got ready for dinner his usual thoughts returned and the everyday humdrum of regular life resumed.

 

Later on that night he dreamed dark dreams again.  Dark and foreboding dreams, and Saruviel again emerged triumphant against a dark lord.  And as those dreams gently gave away to quiet slumber a spirit of darkness outside hovered there.  It hovered there, almost perplexed, watching over the slumbering Dameriel.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Kantriel was in a pensive mood.  As he sat there eating a piece of toast and drinking a cup of dwarrow juice, he wondered to himself just how he would share this latest news with Saruviel.  Saruviel had not been at dinner the night before when Gabriel had made the announcement.  As had seemingly become the norm of late, he had refused Gabriel’s request, instead preferring to remain at what had practically become his home, the small keep at Golden Lake to the west of Zaphon.  ‘If he has anything worthwhile to say, I am sure that you can inform me,’ were Saruviel’s last words, as Kantriel had left for the dinner the evening before.  Kantriel found those words now mildly ironic, if not amusing.  He knew that Saruviel would find this latest news, to say the least, worthwhile.

 

He looked at Daraqel seated opposite him.  Daraqel had given little reaction to the announcement, and even now seemed largely unconcerned with it.  He had spoken to him the night before and asked him his opinion of the news.  Daraqel had simply said if that was what Father had planned, then so be it.  Kantriel, though, did not have quite the same view.  He shared some of the concerns that Matrel had expressed.  Why would Father want to start creating again?  What was wrong with what he had already done that he needed to add more to it?  As far as he was concerned, what Father had originally made was perfect.  And although he might not say as such to someone else, he felt that included himself.  But whatever objections he might have, it looked as if the new work of creation would go ahead.  It had pretty much been officially announced the night before.  And when Father had made up his mind to do something, whatever that thing was, it was to be done.

 

Finishing off the last of his dwarrow juice, he motioned to Daraqel.  ‘Are you ready?’  Daraqel drained the mug in front of him and nodded.  They both stood and started their way out of the dining room.  ‘Daraqel, have you given any more thought as to how we should approach Saruviel with this?’  ‘I wouldn’t worry about it so much, Kantriel,’ Daraqel replied.  ‘I’m sure Saruviel can handle the news.  I don’t think it will be that much of an issue to him.’  Kantriel shook his head.  ‘No.  No, I think you’re wrong.  I know Saruviel.  With news as important as this I’m sure he will want to know.  And as soon as possible.’  ‘Well, that may be true,’ replied Daraqel.  ‘But don’t be too disappointed at his reaction.’   ‘I won’t be,’ said Kantriel.  ‘Anyway, we have to stop off and see Meludiel.  We have choir practice this afternoon and Meludiel asked that we drop by for a copy of the new song that we are singing today.’  ‘Choir practice!’ exclaimed Daraqel.  ‘I thought that was next week?’  ‘No, today.’ said Kantriel.  ‘It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve forgotten.  You’re always forgetting things like this.’  ‘That’s not true,’ replied Daraqel.  ‘I simply conveniently chose to forget that it was on.’  Kantriel grinned.  ‘Conveniently chose to forget?  Yeah right.  You forgot.’  Daraqel smiled.  ‘Well maybe.  Anyway, I would be more concerned with making sure Saruviel has a copy of that new song, rather than worrying about anything else.  Despite his somewhat reclusive nature these days, he never misses choir.’  Kantriel nodded in agreement.  ‘Yes, he does love music, doesn’t he?  I’m sure he will probably have a copy though.  Meludiel always brings her new songs to him for him to read through first.  She seems to really respect his opinion on music.’   ‘Yes, she does at that,’ said Daraqel in agreement.

 

After exiting the dining room, the two of them made their way along the bottom hall of the keep in the direction of the choir hall located at the far end.  Apart from the dining room and the throne room, the choir hall was the largest room in Zaphon.  It was semicircular in shape for acoustic reasons, and its large panes of glass afforded an excellent view of the colourful scenery to be seen on the northern side of Zaphon.

 

When choir was sometimes held at night, there was a cauldron on the outside of the glass that was lit up, illuminating the angels as they sang.  It was a wonderful sight to behold, the firelight adding a unique visible perspective as the angelic choir sang the glories of God.  Upon entering the room Kantriel looked around and spied an angel at the far side of the room, busily leafing through some papers.  It was Meludiel.  Kantriel waved at her to gain her attention.  When she saw them, she put down the papers she was leafing through, picked up some others, and started towards them.

 

As she approached, she smiled and spoke up.  ‘Kantriel.  Daraqel.  I am glad you remembered to drop by.  You two have been difficult to reach recently, and I want to go over this new song with you before choir practice today.’  ‘Sorry about that,’ replied Kantriel, ‘but we have been somewhat busy of late.’  ‘Really?’ said Meludiel.  Sensing her curiosity, Kantriel changed the subject.  ‘What is the new song about?’  “Oh.  Well, it is basically a praise song.  It is about our life here in Zaphon and our thanks to Father for this home that he has blessed us with.  It also speaks of the fellowship that we have with each other and the joy that we share.’  ‘Does it have a title?’ asked Daraqel.  ‘Well, I actually haven’t chosen one yet,’ replied Meludiel.  ‘I showed it to Saruviel last week and he made some suggestions, but I want the title to fit the song perfectly.  I think it is perhaps one of the better songs that I have written, and I would like the title to reflect it well.  But the title that I am leaning towards is ‘The life we live in Harmony.’  It is taken from the opening stanza.’  ‘It sounds interesting’, said Kantriel.  ‘Can I look at it?’  ‘Certainly,’ replied Meludiel, handing both him and Daraqel a copy.  Kantriel started reading through the opening verses:

 

As we sing this melody

Of life we live in harmony

We thank our Father gratefully

For all that he’s given to us

 

This home of ours, we praise him for

A perfect work, it knows no flaw

In truth we hold our God in awe

For all that he’s given to us

 

Kantriel left off reading and looked up at Meludiel.  ‘It’s good.  I like what you have written.’  Meludiel blushed a little.  ‘Thank you Kantriel.  I put a lot of work into it.  But please, continue reading.  When you have finished, I will sing it through for you to give you an idea of how it sounds.’       Kantriel nodded and continued reading.

 

After singing through the song a few times, Kantriel put his hand up to stop Meludiel from continuing.  ‘I think we have the idea Meludiel.  But really, we must be going.’  ‘Are you going to see Saruviel?’ Meludiel asked.  ‘Yes, we are.’ replied Kantriel.  ‘He hasn’t yet heard the news that Gabriel shared with us last night and I am sure he would want to know.  By the way, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you think of Father’s plan to start creating again?  I myself have certain, well, reservations.  I don’t see why he would want to enlarge our realm.  What’s wrong with it the way it is?’  Meludiel thought carefully before replying to Kantriel’s question.  ‘I don’t really know what to say at this stage, Kantriel.  I guess I haven’t really thought about it very much.  But I am sure if Father feels that this new endeavour is necessary, then he must know what he is doing.’  ‘That is sort of how I feel,’ said Daraqel.  ‘I think that maybe Kantriel is over-reacting a little.  Father knows what he is doing.’  ‘Yes.  Well, maybe,’ said Kantriel unconvinced.  ‘I just wish that he had told us about it first.  He could have asked our opinion on it or something like that.’  ‘Mmm, I guess,’ said Daraqel.  ‘Anyway, shouldn’t we be going?’  ‘Yes, of course.  I was forgetting,’ said Kantriel.  ‘Well, we will see you later Meludiel.  And again, the song was very good.  I look forward to singing it.’  ‘Thanks Kantriel,’ said Meludiel.  ‘I will see you later.’  She gave them a little wave, and made her way back to the other side of the room, returning to her papers.

 

Exiting from the keep’s western entrance, Kantriel signalled that they should take to the air.  Soon Zaphon was well behind them as they made their way towards Golden Lake, about 20,000 cubits to the west of Zaphon.  Golden Lake was the largest lake in the realm of eternity.  While there were other lakes scattered throughout the realm, Golden Lake was the biggest in size and by far the most popular.  There was a jetty located on the northern shore, which had tied to it a number of small boats.  Rowing on the lake had become a popular pastime amongst the angels, many of them enjoying the relaxation gained in simply floating over the still waters.  There was also a small keep just up from the jetty.  It only housed a handful of rooms, but it proved a popular place for many, especially as it afforded excellent views of the lake.

 

Dameriel was the house-steward of ‘Glimmersphon’, as the keep was known as.  His responsibilities included watching over the keep, and maintaining the jetty and boats.  He had gained a reputation amongst the brethren as a kind and hospitable host and one who always made visitors feel welcome.  Recently, however, he’d had few visitors to entertain.  At Saruviel’s request, the keep had become off-limits to others.  Saruviel had asked Dameriel that he be able to enjoy the keep on his own for a while.  When Dameriel had inquired as to why Saruviel should need the keep to himself, Saruviel had replied that he simply needed time on his own to think.  To be in a quiet place, away from the activity of others.  While Dameriel enjoyed the company of the visitors he received, them being his main avenue of social contact, he had acquiesced to Saruviel’s request.  Dameriel did care for the welfare of his brethren, and if Saruviel needed time alone as he had said, then it was the least that Dameriel could do to make him feel welcome.

 

As Kantriel and Daraqel neared Golden Lake and started their descent towards the northern shore, Kantriel wondered to himself how long that stay might be.  Saruviel had been at Glimmersphon for nearly a month now.  And instead of becoming more sociable as time passed by, he seemed to have become even more reclusive.  Kantriel had on occasion expressed concerns as to Saruviel’s behaviour, but Saruviel had assured him that everything was well with him and that there was no need to worry.  That had appeased Kantriel somewhat, but he still felt justified in being concerned for his friend.  Saruviel was not acting like himself.  Something had changed in him.  And a change that Kantriel feared may have long-lasting effects.  As they landed just outside the entrance of the keep, Kantriel wondered to himself just how long, if ever, it would be before he would have the old Saruviel back.  The Saruviel he loved and cared for dearly.  ‘Time will only tell,’ he thought to himself.  ‘Time will only tell.’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

He what!’  The tone in Saruviel’s voice was something approaching incredulousity.  Kantriel sat there, complete unsurprised at Saruviel’s reaction.  ‘I will repeat,’ he said.  ‘Last night at dinner Gabriel announced that Father intends to start creating again. His plan is to enlarge our realm quite significantly.  Moreover he intends to bring forth more brethren for us.  Not exactly the same as us, but from what I heard they will be angels as well.  And no, he didn’t say when this would happen, only that it would be soon.’  Saruviel sat there looking at him, somewhat stunned.  Dameriel, who was standing to the back of Saruviel against the wall of the small dining hall scratched his head.  ‘Creating!  That’s unusual.  I thought he was finished with all of that.’  ‘Apparently not,’ said Daraqel, who was seated next to Kantriel.   ‘But I guess, if you think about it, he is a creator and it is something that he does.  Bound to happen again eventually.’  Saruviel looked at Daraqel, as if considering the words that he had just spoken, but remained silent.  ‘But surely the only reason that he would want to create again is if he felt that there was something wrong with the work that he had already done,’ objected Kantriel.  ‘He must not be satisfied with us in some way if he wants to bring more brethren into being.’ 

 

No, that could not be the case.’ said Dameriel, shaking his head somewhat alarmed at Kantriel’s suggestion.  ‘Father thinks well of us.  I know that.  He has said so on many occasions.’  ‘Yes, that is true.  He does,’ said Daraqel in agreement.  Kantriel continued unperturbed.  ‘Well that may be what he has said, but perhaps he is not telling us everything.’  Dameriel reacted strongly to Kantriel’s statement.  ‘What do you mean?  Surely you cannot be suggesting that Father is in some way hiding his true feelings from us!’  Kantriel, sensing the growing concern in Dameriel’s voice, backed off a little.  ‘No, I don’t mean that.  Well, look.  I don’t know.’  He searched for the words.  ‘All that I meant was that perhaps he is not sharing all of the concerns he has about us with us.  And perhaps this new work he has planned in some way reflects that.’  Dameriel shook his head.  ‘No.  No, I can’t believe that.  I am sure that if Father had problems with us he would share them with us.  He would let us know so that we could correct them.  He would not let us go on in a way that displeased him.’

 

Kantriel looked at Dameriel, considering what he had just said.  ‘Yes, well, maybe,’ he replied, but the doubt in his voice was noticeable.  ‘I think I would agree with Dameriel,’ said Daraqel.  ‘If Father did find us displeasing in some way, I’m sure he would tell us.’  ‘Perhaps,’ replied Kantriel.  ‘But perhaps he does not wish to hurt our feelings.’

 

He looked at Saruviel who had remained silent since hearing of the news.  ‘You’ve said little.  Tell us what do you think of this new work our Father has planned?’  Saruviel looked at him momentarily, then looked outside the dining room window, seemingly admiring the views outside.  ‘This is - unexpected,’ he said at last.  He turned to Daraqel.  ‘As you said, he is a creator and it is his prerogative to create, if that is what he so desires.’  He turned and again looked out the window.  It is his prerogative to create,’ he repeated.  After that, silence settled over the small gathering at Glimmersphon keep.  Dameriel, sensing that the conversation had finished, excused himself and left the room.  Kantriel picked up a glass of water in front of him and took a sip.  Looking towards Saruviel he wondered what was on his mind.  Saruviel, seemingly oblivious to Kantriel’s gaze, just sat there, looking out at the surroundings of Glimmersphon.

 

After a while Kantriel spoke up.  ‘Yes, he creates.  But why?  And why now?’  Saruviel’s gaze turned upon him.  He looked at him for a while, considering his words.  ‘Perhaps that is something you will have to ask him, Kantriel.’  Daraqel smiled.  ‘Yes.  Not a bad idea, Saruviel.  Not a bad idea.’  Kantriel mildly embarrassed, replied quickly.  ‘Well, perhaps I will.’   ‘Yes, perhaps you should,’ replied Saruviel instantly.  Kantriel looked at him sensing that he was quite serious in what he had suggested.  ‘Well, perhaps,’ he said, backing down.  Saruviel looked at him briefly and then returned his gaze to the outside scenery.  He sat there for a long while, just staring out.

 

Finally, he stood and made his way towards the doorway.   Before leaving the room he turned to them and spoke.  ‘I will need some time to think about this.  It is most - unexpected, and there are - questions that I have.  Questions that I would like answers for.  If you two will excuse me then, I will see you later on tonight.’  Daraqel nodded.  Kantriel put his hand up.  ‘Before you go, have you remembered that we have choir practice this afternoon?’  ‘Ah, I had forgotten,’ said Saruviel.  ‘Look, I do not think that I will be attending choir practice today.  Could you please let the others know that I will not be able to make it.’  Kantriel, slightly taken aback at Saruviel’s reaction, persisted.  ‘But Meludiel has written a new song and I am sure that she would like you to be there.’  ‘Yes, the new song,’ said Saruviel.  ‘However, I am sure that Meludiel will understand that I could not attend.  Please give her my apologies and let her know that I will speak to her later.  Now, I have much to think about.  If you will excuse me.’  With those words said, Saruviel turned and made his way out of the room, heading off for some unknown destination.  Kantriel watched him go and then looked down at the glass of water in front of him.

 

After taking a sip he turned towards Daraqel.  ‘Not much of an issue to him, huh?’  Daraqel smiled.  ‘Oh well.  I guess I can’t be right all the time.  It does surprise me that he is not attending choir, though.  But I guess that with his behaviour of late, it should be expected.’  ‘Yes,’ agreed Kantriel, and took another sip of water.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Later that afternoon, when Kantriel and Daraqel had left for choir, Saruviel came out of his room.  As had become the norm of late, he had spent most of the day lost in his thoughts.  Such had not always been the case.  As a rule, Saruviel was a social enough fellow.  He enjoyed the company of his brethren and took an active interest in how their lives were faring.  Amongst other things, one of the responsibilities that his Father had given him was that of challenging his brothers and sisters to live full and satisfying lives.  To question them on how they were fulfilling their various duties, and to see if they were reaching their full potential.  It was a task that Saruviel delighted in, as he loved to see his brethren at their best.  To see them shine.  But recently he had perhaps been failing in that duty.  Recently things had - changed.

 

After taking a glass from the kitchen cupboard and filling it with water, Saruviel exited the keep from the side door of the kitchen.  Slowly sipping from the glass, Saruviel made his way around the side of the keep and down towards the direction of the lake.  As he walked down to the lake he paid particular attention to the well-kept gardens that followed the path down to the jetty.  Dameriel, or whoever it was that looked after them, certainly took pride in their job.  The flower arrangements were excellent, the differing shades of colour complimenting each other perfectly.  It was the work of someone who knew their job well, something that Saruviel liked to see.

 

Reaching the jetty, Saruviel walked to the end and sat down, legs dangling over the edge.  He looked out at the lake.  The deep blue waters stared back at him.  He took note of the ripples and watched them as they travelled along, hitting the shore and then disappearing, only to be replaced by another in an endless supply.  In many ways, the lake was a source of comfort.  Watching the calm, still waters brought peace to the heart.  It was a peace that Saruviel was thankful for, a peace that he was in need of.

 

After sitting motionless for some time, he picked up the glass and took another sip.  Thoughts entered his head.  Thoughts of the news that he had heard that day, and thoughts of other things.  He had been considering his life.  Considering the work that he had been doing, and the impact that it made.  But above all, he had been questioning.  Questioning the purpose to it all, questioning the purpose to God’s design.

 

Eventually, questions unanswered, he stood up and stretched a little, and then turned and started making his way back along the jetty.  Halfway along, he veered to his right, and came standing to the side of the jetty.  He put his hands on the railing and looked off towards the east, in the direction of Zaphon.  ‘So,’ he said out loud.  ‘You are creating again.’  Silence answered him.  ‘It does surprise me, Father.  It does surprise me.  But if that is your will, then that is your will.’  The noise of the ripples as they hit the edge of the lake were his only reply.  Saruviel stood looking towards Zaphon for some time, then finally turned, making his way back along the jetty and up to Glimmersphon keep.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

The choir hall was starting to fill up as Kantriel and Daraqel entered through the large doorways of the room, having just returned from Golden Lake.  After Saruviel had left them, they had spent the remainder of the morning in conversation, before having lunch, and then going for a row out on the lake.  After that they had bid Dameriel farewell and taken to the skies, making their way back to Zaphon.

 

Coming into the hall, Kantriel looked around in search of Meludiel.  He spied her at the side of the room in conversation with Gamrayel.  I’ll go over and let Meludiel know that Saruviel isn’t coming,’ he said to Daraqel.  Daraqel nodded in agreement.  As he approached Meludiel left off speaking with Gamrayel and turned towards him.  ‘Kantriel, it is good to see you.’  She looked past him in the direction of Daraqel.   ‘I see that Daraqel is with you.’  She looked straight at him.  ‘Saruviel?’  ‘Unfortunately Saruviel will not be joining us this afternoon,’ said Kantriel.  ‘He has decided to remain at Golden Lake, but he sends his apologies.  He asked me to tell you that he will speak to you later in person.’  ‘Oh.  Well, alright then,’ said Meludiel, but the disappointment in her voice was obvious.  ‘I guess we can make do without him.’ 

 

She looked around the room.  ‘It looks as if just about everyone is here.  We should begin.  Gamrayel, would you ask everyone to take their place.’  ‘Certainly,’ Gamrayel replied.  He moved towards the centre of the room and began to speak out loud.  ‘Alright everybody.  We are beginning shortly.  Could you all please take your places?’  In response to his request the angels began making their way towards the glassed wall that overlooked the northern aspects of Zaphon.

 

There were three rows of angels that formed the choir.  14 in the front row, 18 in the second row and 22 in the last, the second and third row standing on raised platforms.  All in all 54 angels formed the choir of the Seraphim.  Today was a practice session and while it was not necessarily expected that everyone be in attendance, most usually were, Saruviel perhaps being a notable absentee. 

 

When the choir performed formally however, all were naturally expected to be in attendance.  Formal performances usually took place every five months, with monthly practice sessions in between.  Sometimes these were made weekly when new songs were to be performed, and as Kantriel took his place he expected he may be singing again next week.  Perhaps then Saruviel would join them, but on recent form Kantriel did not expect that event to necessarily occur. 

 

When the angels were in place, Meludiel made her way towards the front dais.  Ever since the angelic choir had come into existence, Meludiel had been its choirmaster.  It was a job she did well, seemingly naturally suited to the task.  She loved music.  She took delight in the way the various melodies of the angels worked together in harmony, creating a glorious symphony of sound.  She also found joy in the way the music affected her heart.  It was a constant source of inspiration for her, an inspiration that moved her to reach new levels in her musical composition.

 

Apart from being the conductor of the choir, Meludiel, of course, wrote the majority of the songs that the angels sang.  And it was perhaps in her song writing that Meludiel found the most satisfaction.  In many ways, composition was also like creating.   The songs that she brought forth were her own.  Her little works of creation.  And she cared for each one of them dearly, working hard on them all until she was completely satisfied.

 

Apart from the composing aspect of her work, seeing the choir perform at their best was also very rewarding.  When they performed formally, and performed well, it was like seeing everything that she had worked hard towards all coming into fruition at that one moment in time.  It was something that gave her great joy

 

Looking out at the choir, Meludiel smiled and spoke up.  ‘Well, it is good to see you all here today.  I trust that all of you have had a good week, and that you can bring that positive energy into today’s practice.  Today we are, of course, starting on a new song. I know that most of you have had adequate time to read through it and practice it on your own, with a few notable exceptions.’  Kantriel grimaced, realizing that he was one of those notable exceptions.  Meludiel continued.  ‘And I hope you are all prepared to give a good effort today.  With work I feel that this can be one of the best songs that we have sung.  Anyway, enough with the speaking.  Time to begin.’ 

 

Meludiel looked down at the musical score on the stand in front of her and then looked back up to the choir.  Raising her hands she signalled to one area of the choir, and the singing began.

 

After having gone through the song a few times, Meludiel signalled that the choir should take a rest.  As with all new songs, the first few efforts at singing them often sounded awkward with the voices not yet in perfect harmony with each other, but such was to be expected.  The choir had to learn the song and that would take time. Time and a great deal of practice.  All thing considered though, Meludiel felt that the choir had done well.  She was satisfied that the main harmonies flowed together reasonably well, the important voices being clearly heard.  A good performance, but the fine-tuning would naturally take time.

 

Kantriel felt much the same way, but had grave doubts about his own performance.  He’d had little time to study the song, but that was his own fault.  He had spent most of his time with Saruviel of late, which had led to other areas of his life suffering.  It was something he would probably have to look at.  As he thought on that Meludiel again took to the dais.  ‘Well,’ she said. ‘That was, alright.’  Many of the angels smiled at the slight edge of sarcasm in her voice.  ‘But I am sure that you can do better.  This time I would like to hear more unity from the voices in the front row. You are not quite in time with each other.   Anyway, if you are ready, let’s begin again.’  Once more checking her score, Meludiel looked up at the choir and signalled for them to begin.

 

 

 

As we sing this melody,

Of life we live in harmony,

We thank our Father gratefully,

For all that he’s given to us.

 

This home of ours, we praise him for.

A perfect work, it knows no flaw.

In truth we hold our God in awe,

For all that he’s given to us.

 

Glory to God, give thanks unto him.

Praise him for all that he’s given to us.

 

Glory to God, give thanks unto him

Praise him for all that he’s given to us.

 

 

Joyfully, Joyfully, we live and we pray.

At peace with each other, in work or at play.

And thanks to our father we do give each day

For all that he’s given to us.

 

Our fellowships in love and peace abound

A love from God is what we’ve found

And unto him we sing out loud

For all that he’s given to us.

 

Glory to God, give thanks unto him,

Praise him for all that he’s given to us

 

Glory to God, give thanks unto him,

Praise him for all that he’s given to us

 

Throughout this realm, wherever we be

In joyful strains of revelry

We praise our God so thankfully

For all that he’s given to us.

 

Our God he has cared for us right from the start

So we sing unto him from whom we’ll not depart.

We sing unto him with all of our hearts

For all that he’s given to us.

 

Glory to God, give thanks unto him,

Praise him for all that he’s given to us

 

Glory to God, give thanks unto him,

Praise him for all that he’s given to us

 

The song over, Meludiel lowered her hands and smiled.  ‘That was much better,’ she said.  ‘It’s starting to flow a lot more smoothly, and the harmonies are working well.  Alright, let’s go through it a few more times, and hopefully we will get it just right.’

 

The choir ran through the song a number of times more, steadily improving with each attempt.  When she was satisfied that they had a firm understanding on how it was to be sung, Meludiel signalled for them to stop.  ‘Alright.  Good, good.  I think we are making progress.’  She turned towards Gamrayel who was standing to her left.  ‘What do you think, Gamrayel?’  ‘Yes, they are definitely getting a handle on it,’ he replied.  ‘It still needs work, especially in the front row, but they’re getting there.’  ‘Yes, I think so,’ said Meludiel in agreement. 

 

She looked back towards the choir.  ‘Alright, you have sung well today, and I guess we can leave it at that.  Thank you all for your effort.  Don’t forget that we will be having an extra choir practice session against next week.  We need as much time as possible to practice this song before we sing in front of an audience.  And please, remember to practice throughout the week.  We can’t leave it all to these sessions.’  With those words said, Meludiel stepped down from the dais.  The choir slowly dispersed, many of the angels leaving straight away, others remaining to chat. 

 

Kantriel made his way over towards Daraqel who sang in a different section of the choir to him.  ‘Well, how did you go?’ he asked him.  Daraqel smiled.  ‘I think I will take Meludiel’s advice and practice that song during the week.  I was quite ordinary.  And how do you think you went?’  ‘I was definitely one of those voices that Meludiel mentioned.  Really, not up to scratch.  I need to put a lot of work into it.  I’ll have to try and find some time to practice it during the week.  I did like the song though.  One of her better works, I think.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Daraqel in agreement.

 

Kantriel looked out of the northern glazed wall, noting the time of day.  ‘It is getting late.  I guess we should be making our way back to Glimmersphon soon.  Look, why don’t you go on ahead without me.  I will see you later.  There is something I have to do first.’  ‘Sure,’ replied Daraqel.  ‘I’ll let Saruviel know that you will be a little late.’  ‘Yes, do that,’ said Kantriel.  Daraqel nodded and started making his way out of the room.  Kantriel watched him leave, and then turned making his way over towards Meludiel who was again in conversation with Gamrayel.  Interrupting them he said, ‘Meludiel.  Sorry for disturbing you, but I have to be going soon.  I just wanted to say that the song was excellent, and I enjoyed singing it.’  ‘Thank you Kantriel.  I’m glad you liked it.’  ‘Yes, I did.  But I must apologise for my performance.  It was not my best.  I will practice though, as you asked.’  ‘Good to hear,’ Meludiel replied.  ‘But really, you were fine.  You just need a little work, that’s all.’  ‘Thanks, but I think I need more than a little.  Anyway, I will see you later.  Probably next week.  See you then.’  Good bye Kantriel,’ said Meludiel.’ ‘Bye Kantriel,’ said Gamrayel.  Kantriel smiled at them, and made his way out of the room.

 

Tonight, as usual, he would be having dinner at Glimmersphon with Saruviel.  He and Daraqel were the only company that Saruviel wanted of late, and Kantriel felt obliged to spend time with his friend.  As long as he was going through this phase, he needed to know that he was cared for.  He needed to know that he had a caring friend in Kantriel.  But before that, he had something that he wanted to do.  Something he wanted to know about this new work that his Father had planned.  After his conversation with Saruviel that morning he felt stirred somewhat to find out if there was any truth to his suspicions.  He genuinely wanted to know why his Father was creating again.  To try and understand his true motives.  ‘Gabriel or Davriel, he said to himself.  ‘One of them will be able to answer my questions.  One of them will know.’  With that on his mind Kantriel made his way out of the choir hall into the main hall of keep, in search of his brothers.

 

Chapter Five - Joy

 

Joy.  Pure joy.  That is what he felt.  There were of course other things in life that gave his heart a similar feeling.  The friendships that he had, and the gatherings that took place.  But they were different.  A different type of joy.  And as Raphael glided through the upper regions of the realm of eternity, the early morning light bathing him in glory, his heart sang for joy at the simple pleasure of flying.  The simple joy of gliding through the skies unabated.  Up here he had no cares, no worries.  His responsibilities lay earthbound, far below him.  Up here he could forget about things for a while, and simply soar through the skies.  Soar through eternity.  Father, he felt, had been very wise when he had given the angels wings.  They had proven useful additions to the arms and the legs he had provided for them.  Of course, everywhere in the realm could be reached by foot, if you were prepared to be patient.  But the wings made getting around so much easier.  They also afforded him the opportunity to escape from things for a while.  To take to the heavens, all cares forgotten.

 

Eventually he would have to come down.  He could not fly forever, although part of him perhaps desired to.  But no, he had work to do.  The everyday duties that were Raphael’s responsibility to attend to.  They would begin shortly, occupying his day.  But for now he could fly.  For now he could soar through the heavens, enjoying the gift of wings his Father had blessed him with.

 

From the height that Raphael was at, he could see nearly the whole realm.  Zaphon lay beneath him, just to the south a little.  Golden Lake to the west stood out, the stark blue water contrasting with the greenery around it.  He could even just make out Dalnaphon to the north, the small keep that stood right at the edge of the rim.  As he soared he thought of his realm, the realm he had known from childhood.  He had flown over just about every part of it, especially in his younger days, when he had done much exploring.  He was used to it now.  He knew it.  Knew virtually every little nook and cranny.  But now things were about to change - to change a great deal.

 

Over the past few days, ever since hearing the announcement that his Father was to enlarge the realm, Raphael had been thinking about just what to make of the news.  Certainly, at first it had been a surprise.  He, like many of his brethren, had generally assumed that their Father had finished with his creating.  That they, the Seraphim, were his children, and that the realm of eternity was their home.  That both works were Father’s precious creation, and that his creative works had come to an end.  But they were wrong to have made such an assumption.  And while it had indeed been a surprise at first, as time had passed and Raphael had gotten used to the idea, he had started to consider the possibilities of what such a change might bring.

 

New brothers and sisters, of course.  That was what most of the brethren had been talking about.  But along with that, the realm was to be enlarged.  And from what Davriel had said, by no small amount.  That was something that had stirred Raphael’s thoughts.  Something that, in a way, excited him.  The thought of a new land to explore, a new realm to fly over and to walk through, was something that he could now honestly say that he looked forward to.  While he perhaps shared some of the doubts that certain of his brethren had expressed, doubts as to the need of such a new creation, they were starting to be overshadowed by the realities of what such a change would bring.

 

New life.  That is what it came down to for Raphael.  Father’s new work would bring new life.  New changes.  And more than that.  New challenges.  Challenges to build new places, to make new homes, and to make new friends - to make new beginnings.  But even above all of those things, there was one thing it certainly meant - new responsibilities.  New and greater responsibilities.

 

As Raphael soared along through the heights of eternity, he wondered to himself just what those new responsibilities might entail.  With new brethren and such a great increase in the size of the realm, it was inevitable that many of his brothers and sisters workload would grow.  He thought of Michael.  His was already, or so Raphael imagined, a difficult and challenging job.  As firstborn he oversaw the general running of Zaphon and the realm, something which occupied his time completely.  What would happen to him now?  Would he now be given the responsibility to watch over the new enlarged realm?  Although he greatly respected his older brother’s abilities, abilities that Raphael had seen in action on many occasions, he wondered to himself how even Michael would handle such an immense task.  Would he know how to watch over such a large number, to be able to handle such a large realm?   Even the thought of it was something that daunted Raphael.  In comparison, his own responsibilities seemed perhaps somewhat minor - maybe not minor, exactly, but certainly less overwhelming.

 

Raphael was a ministering angel.  His main duty was to organise the various fellowships that the angels took part in around the realm and to see to their spiritual welfare.  Certainly, it was work that challenged Raphael, but it was rewarding as well.  He gained satisfaction in knowing that his brethren were contented in their lives.  That they were happy and at peace with themselves, and that they were socialising well with their fellow brethren.  It was work that Raphael felt suited to.  He knew what he had to do, and he knew how to do it.  And while it was not as great a responsibility as Michael’s, Raphael found satisfaction in it. 

 

There were, of course, some similarities between his and Michael’s work.  Raphael likewise had responsibility over a number of his brethren.  Four of the Seraphim worked closely with Raphael, accountable directly to him.  Loquiel, his best friend, and close personal assistant.  Raphael sometimes felt that he would be lost without him.  Yasminael, a tireless worker.  She gave the best to her job, something hat Raphael admired about her.  Ambriel, of course.  A gentle fellow, but so full of hope and peace.  A light to Raphael and a constant source of encouragement.  And lastly, Shemrael.  Shemrael, who seemed to always know the right thing to do, the right words to say.  They were Raphael’s assistants.  Co-workers in bringing peace and harmony to the realm of eternity.  They knew their job, knew what they had to do.  But now that was likely to change.  With so many new brethren to come into being, what would God now ask of him.  ‘Time will only tell,’ Raphael thought to himself.

 

Looking at the sky, morning was starting to advance.  Breakfast would be upon him very shortly, and the day’s duties beckoned.  His morning flight had come to an end.  As he started circling downwards, Raphael’s thoughts turned to the day in front of him.  That morning he was to visit with Phindwel, the realm’s chief baker.  The first day of the new month was only a few days away and it was always marked by an evening celebration to which many of the brethren attended.  ‘Melladon’, it was known as, after the name of the first day of the month.  It was a regular event but, as always, Raphael would try to add colour to such gatherings. He had been speaking with Phindwel about the baking of new pastries and breads.  Phindwel was creative in his ideas for new recipes, and Raphael sought such ideas for the next gathering.  That morning he was to inspect some of Phindwel’s latest works to find the most appropriate.  It was something he would probably enjoy, looking forward to the new delicacies he would try.  After that he was to visit with a number of angels to see how they were going with their lives in general.  He would ask how they were handling their duties, how happy they were with things, and if they had any problems in their lives that they would like to discuss.  In essence it was that work, the social welfare of his brethren, that generally occupied most of his time.  And after that, lunch, and the afternoon’s work.  A full day, as usual.

 

Once grounded at the western entrance to the keep, Raphael made his way to the dining hall.  The morning’s activity had been exhilarating, but he was now hungry and in need of sustenance.  The hall was unusually quiet when he came in.  Perhaps he had ended his flight too soon, arriving at breakfast early, before Zaphon’s other residents had made their way down from the dorms.  Still, the trolleys of toast and cereals at the side of the halls were full, indicating he had not come at an inappropriate time.  However, Shannel and the other kitchen staff were early risers, very faithful to ensuring that the keep’s residents were fed when they needed to be, even if at their own inconvenience.

 

Raphael took a bowl and filled it with some cereal, adding melit water to it.  There was either dwarrow or celnoka juice to choose from that morning, Raphael opting for the latter.  Some toast also, he was quite hungry.  His tray full, he looked around the hall.  There were a few other early starters.  Alindrel by the looks of it, in conversation with Nimorel.  They looked content, Raphael deciding not to interfere with their conversation.  In the corner of the room, though, he spied a solitary angel eating through their morning meal.  His or her back was turned to Raphael so he was unsure as to whom it was.  Whoever it was, though, perhaps they would not mind Raphael’s company for breakfast. 

 

As he approached he could tell from the dress that it was a male Seraphim.  ‘Excuse me brother,’ aid Raphael.  ‘Would you mind some company this morning?’  The angel looked up at him.  It was Azrael.  ‘No, I guess not,’ he replied.  Raphael took a seat opposite him.

 

As he made his way through his cereal, Raphael was silently pleased at the company he had found himself with that morning.  Azrael did not visit Zaphon very often.  He was one of the few angels who kept largely to himself, mixing very little with his fellow brethren.  From what Raphael had observed of him, he always attended assembly and the occasional new month celebration, but that was about it in terms of social activity.  He generally kept to his own affairs, usually residing at Senersphon, a small keep to the northeast of Zaphon.  It was a behaviour that perplexed Raphael.  Raphael was a social creature.  He enjoyed the company of his brethren a great deal.  He liked to ask after them and to see that all was well.  It, in a way, puzzled him that someone else could be so, well, different in nature.  Raphael doubted very strongly that he could live the kind of lifestyle that Azrael lived.  He needed to mix with others, to have that social contact.  Yet, it seemed, Azrael did not.  And it was something that aroused Raphael’s curiosity.  Something that he would not mind an explanation for.  If not that, then at least an understanding.

 

Pausing from his cereal, Raphael took a sip of celnoka juice, and looked across at his breakfast partner.  ‘So, Azrael.  I haven’t seen you in a while.  Are things well with you?’  Azrael finished the mouthful of toast he was chewing on before replying.  ‘Yes.  Yes, I am well.  And you?’  ‘I’m doing fine,’ replied Raphael.  He took another sip of celnoka juice.  ‘It looks like we have arrived a tad early this morning,’ said Raphael looking around.  ‘I guess the others will be down shortly.’  ‘I guess,’ Azrael replied, and took another bite of toast.  The conversation paused a short while, as the two continued with their meal.  ‘Well, I certainly have a busy day in front of me,’ said Raphael.  ‘With such an early start, you must have quite a day planned as well.’  Azrael briefly looked straight at him, and then returned to his meal.  ‘No, not really,’ said Azrael, chewing on his toast.  ‘Oh,’ replied Raphael.  Silence resumed.  Azrael continued chewing on his toast, seemingly uninterested in further conversation. 

 

This is going nowhere,’ Raphael thought to himself.  ‘Come on Raph, try harder,’ he urged himself.  ‘Well, my day should prove interesting’ he said.   ‘I am visiting with Phindwel later this morning. He has some new recipes that he has prepared for next months Melladon celebration.  I am fortunate enough to be allowed to taste them before the celebration.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Azrael, not appearing to give great interest.  ‘And after that, a busy day as usual,’ continued Raphael unperturbed.  Azrael finished off his toast and took a mouthful from the glass in front of him.  That done he pulled his chair away from the table and got to his feet.  ‘I hope you enjoy your day Raphael.  If you will excuse me, though, I have things to do elsewhere.’

 

Unwilling to concede defeat, Raphael persisted.  ‘Sure.  But if that can wait a little, I have something that I would like to ask you.’  Azrael shrugged and sat back down.  ‘Yes,’ he said, looking straight at him.  ‘It’s something that I’m curious about Azrael,’ began Raphael cautiously.  ‘You seem to spend most of your time alone in Senersphon.’  Raphael paused, waiting for a reply.  Azrael looked at him, mildly bewildered at the statement.  ‘Yes, your point?’  he said.  ‘Well, I was just wondering,’ said Raphael.  ‘I was just wondering why you spend so much of your time on your own.  You don’t seem to fellowship very much and it’s just something that I don’t think I really understand.  Do you not like the company of your brethren?’  Azrael sat looking at him for some time, apparently thinking on the question, although Raphael could not say for sure though. 

 

Eventually he spoke.  ‘Oh.  Ummm.  Well.’  Raphael smiled.  Azrael was lost for words - he had reached him.  ‘I, uh, don’t really know what to say,’  said Azrael.  ‘I guess I’ve never really thought about it very much.  Do you think I spend little time with the brethren?’ he asked, the honesty in his voice apparent.  Raphael smiled to himself.  He had an opportunity here, but caution was needed.  ‘Well, I am aware of your presence at assembly and some of the gatherings, but apart from that I couldn’t really say.  Perhaps, though, you can answer that question better than I.’  Azrael looked at him, and then reached down and picked up a crust of the toast that he had been eating.  This time he seemed to be genuinely thinking about his response.

 

Yes I, I attend assembly when it is called.  This is something that Father requires of us.  And I attend other events, at times. Melladon, and so on.’  Raphael nodded, encouraging him to continue.  ‘I do fellowship at those times.  But I suppose that what you are saying may be true.  I do spend a lot of my time on my own, I guess.  As you have said, I might not be in fellowship very much.’  He left off nibbling on the crust, and again looked straight at him.  ‘Do you think that’s a problem?’  Raphael thought carefully before responding.  ‘Well, no, I wouldn’t say that it’s a problem exactly.  It is your life and how you live it is up to your own judgment.  But I do find it curious that you do not seem to be overly interested in getting involved with your brethren.  If you don’t mind me asking, is there some reason behind the behaviour?’  Azrael looked at him and then looked down at his now empty breakfast tray.  ‘I don’t know Raphael.  Just the way I am, I suppose.  Now that I’ve thought about it I do like spending time on my own, I guess.  I think that I perhaps find peace in the solitude.  To be honest, it’s something that I don’t really find with the brethren.’  Raphael tilted his head at that comment.  Azrael, noting his concern continued quickly.  ‘Not that I don’t find peace with the brethren.  Not that at all.  It’s just - just different.  I enjoy my time on my own.  The quiet times give me time to think - and to just be at peace with myself.  Do you know what I mean?’  Raphael looked at him, thinking on what he had said.  ‘Yes, I understand the need to spend time along.  Just a short time ago I was taking my usual early morning flight.  Up there I find peace as well.  And it is something I do on my own - and prefer to do it on my own.’  Raphael paused, thinking carefully about how to  phrase what he was about to say.  ‘But it is not the way that I spend the majority of my time.  Certainly, I find peace in the solitude when I am up there.  But it is only something that I do for a short while.  I need the company of my brethren.  I need that fellowship, and I enjoy being with them.  Do you not have that need as well?  Azrael considered his response.  ‘Yes.  Yes, I need fellowship.  And I do, as I said.  I guess, maybe we’re just a little different Raphael.  You seem to enjoy the fellowship of the brethren - which I do as well - but perhaps just not as much, or maybe just not all the time.’  Raphael smiled.

 

 

Yes, perhaps Azrael.  Perhaps.’  Azrael looked down at his empty plate, then up at him.  ‘Anyway, is that what you wanted to know?  How I spend my time?’  Raphael looked directly at him.  ‘I was just - concerned, Azrael. I am your brother and I like to know how things are going with you.  I don’t think your behaviour is wrong or anything like that.  I just found it puzzling, that’s all.’  ‘Oh,’ said Azrael.  ‘Well, fair enough.  Look - perhaps I will make more of an effort to socialize in the future.  I’m happy enough with my life, but if you have concerns then perhaps I need to look at things a little.’  Raphael was happy with that response.  ‘Thanks Azrael.  Thanks for hearing what I had to say.  We are family, and it is important that we have time with each other - for many reasons.’  For the first time in the conversation Azrael smiled.  ‘Yes it is, I guess.  Look, I am going shortly.  But perhaps we could have lunch together today.  You could see that I’m not such a loner all the time.’  Raphael grinned.  ‘Yes, of course.  I look forward to it.’  Azrael nodded.  ‘Anyway, if you will excuse me, I must be going.  But see you at lunch.’  See you then,’ replied Raphael.  Azrael got to his feet and made his way out of the dining room, destination unknown.  Raphael watched him go and returned to his breakfast.

 

Good,’ he thought to himself.  ‘Very good.’  Azrael had been made aware of his behaviour, which Raphael felt was important.  ‘The first step,’ he though to himself.  And while he had already made a lunch appointment with Sariel, that could be put off.  Fellowship with Azrael was something that he viewed as more important at that moment.  Pleased with the outcome of the conversation, Raphael returned to his morning meal.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Amiel shrugged.  Really, she didn’t seem to care that much, but Matrel had concerns – deep concerns.  ‘I don’t think father will speak to you, brother.  I don’t think for your trivial complaints he will respond.  Remember he mainly only talks to Michael and Gabriel at the moment, and sometimes Davriel.  But you can try.  Perhaps he will say something.’  ‘Of course I have to try.  I don’t think he has really thought this through well enough.  We are his children – his firstborn children.  Surely we must be the centre of his heart forever – he can’t have more, it’s not right.’

But what if he had just stopped with Michael?  Or even the first 7 or 8 of the Angels.  What then?  You and I would never have been born.’

Matrel considered that point.  It wasn’t too bad a one and it stopped him for a moment, thinking about it.  ‘Yes, I suppose I see what you are saying.  We would never have been born if that had been enough for him.’

So why can’t he have more children now?  Perhaps he wants to?  And he is God so he can relate to everyone if he needs to.’

I guess,’ but he was still a little hesitant.

Come on, don’t worry so much about it.  Let’s go get a drink of coffee and forget about the whole thing.  You’ll probably feel better in the morning and have forgotten about it all.  You’ll see.’

Matrel, finally conceding, accompanied his sister to the kitchen and when they had finished off their coffees the worries of the new creation of their eternal father had slipped from his mind.  But only temporarily.  They would return, shortly.  And return with a vengeance.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Really,’ said Matrel, in response to what Kantriel had said to him about Saruviel’s viewpoint on the new creation.  ‘The vanity of father, showing us how he can create and should thus be our Lord.’  They are pretty strong words for Saruviel.

In his defence he was tired, and it was late at night, and I don’t think he would say them now if you asked him.  But, yeh, he said that.  Says a hell of a lot of things at the moment which catch Daraqel and My ears.  As intense as he has ever been and very philosophical about it all.  Meludiel says too deep, really, and that he is drifting too far from the fellowship, but I think Saruviel knows were he is at.  Probably just a phase he is going through.’

But Matrel, while he had been listening to what Kantriel had been saying, had not really been paying that great an attention after those first words of Saruviel.  ‘The vanity of God?  Was that it then?  Was he right all along and that the new creation was really a bad idea?  This time he was certain – he would speak with God, demand his attention, and see just exactly why he was going to create again.  Matrel wanted answers, and he wouldn’t budge until he got them.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

NO MATREL.  SARUVIEL IS QUITE WRONG.  THE REASONS ARE SIMILAR AS TO WHY I BROUGHT THE SERAPHIM INTO BEING.  I HAVE NO HIDDEN AGENDAS AND MY LOVE FOR YOU WILL NOT DEPART.  DO NOT WORRY, DEAR CHILD.  DO NOT WORRY.’

God went silent after that, despite Matrel asking a number more questions but finally, leaving the throneroom of Zaphon, he made his way back to his dormitory, laid down on his bed and stared at the ceiling.  It was just like him and he knew Amiel would say the thing.  Just like him to be concerned, to show undue worries.  And he knew so often why his own Torah Seraphim Principles said ‘Do Not Worry’.  It was God’s eternal advice to his son, and unfortunately advice which he needed to be reminded of again and again.  But that was life, wasn’t it.  Full of all sorts of little, quirky ironies.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Yes.  Yes, good move.’  The dark-haired Seraphim nodded at his friend’s words of encouragement.  Jontel, the opponent in the game of Katchular that seemed to be approaching its conclusion, echoed Raguel’s comments.  ‘Not a bad move, Uriel.  But you’ve left yourself open on the left side.  And if I do this?’  Jontel proceeded to move a blue marker forward, eliminating Uriel’s only red marker from the game.  Jontel smiled, pleased with the move that he had made.  Uriel, looking down at the board, grinned ever so slightly.  The sacrificial tactic had worked - Jontel had taken the bait.  ‘Good move,’ said Uriel, the tone in his voice hiding how pleased he actually was with it.  ‘However, if I do this.’  He moved his last remaining white marker, the movement of which had been freed up from his previous move, up the board, cornering Jontel’s black marker.  Jontel looked at the board for a while then looked up at Uriel.  ‘I really should have seen that coming, shouldn’t I?’  he said in a jovial, good-natured tone.  Uriel laughed a little.  ‘Yes, maybe,’ he said.  ‘Anyway, your response?’  Jontel smiled and return his focus to the board, stroking his chin as if in deep thought.

 

Alright then, how about this,’ Jontel moved his blue marker back, threatening Uriel’s white.  Uriel smiled to himself - he had him.  On the other side of the board he moved a green marker diagonally across, pinning Jontel’s blue marker as it protected the black.  Jontel looked at the board, his brow a wrinkle as he studied the latest move.  After a while he relaxed in his chair and looked across at Uriel.  ‘Well, my young friend, I think you may have me,’ he said smiling broadly.  ‘Maybe’ said Uriel, returning the smile.  ‘Anyway, it is your move.’  The older Seraphim smiled at that.  His younger brother was eager to win - something that he liked to see.  ‘Yes it I, isn’t it?’  He returned his focus to the board.  ‘Very well.  It looks like I’ll have to do this.’  He moved his last red market up, protecting the blue.  Without hesitation Uriel took the blue marker with his green marker.  Jontel likewise took Uriel’s green marker with his red one.  However the next move was the clincher.  As expected, Uriel took Jontel’s black marker with his white, entitling him to the bonus move.  Sensibly, he moved his white marker back out of trouble.  Jontel smiled.  ‘Oh well, he said, ‘Not very many options left, have I?’  Uriel looked down at the board, considering Jontel’s statement.  Jontel had only three markers left, a red and two orange, compared with Uriel’s five.  The result seemed inevitable.  ‘Mmm, maybe not,’ replied Uriel, quite honestly.

 

A few moments later Jontel’s last remaining marker was being threatened by one of Uriel’s.  He moved it out of trouble, but Uriel’s next move cornered him.  The game was over.  Jontel, conceding defeat, removed his marker from the board, a move allowable under the etiquette of the game with just one marker left.  Jontel looked over at Uriel, the expression on his face quite positive, seemingly unbothered by the defeat.  ‘Excellent, Uriel.  Excellent.  Very well played.  You seem to have improved since we’ve last had a game.’  ‘Thanks Jontel,’ replied Uriel blushing slightly, although pleased at Jontel’s comment.  ‘I have been working on some new moves recently.  Perhaps they helped me a little today.’  ‘I think they have certainly done that,’ said Jontel.  ‘Some of the moves you made today showed a genuine understanding of the deeper strategies involved in the game.  You are thinking ahead well - very well.  If I were you I would strongly consider playing Michael in a game.  On the form you displayed today I would say you would have a good chance of possibly defeating him.  Regardless, it would be a good learning experience for you.’  ‘Perhaps,’ said Uriel, although the doubt in his voice was noticeable.  ‘Michael is very good, though.  He thinks ahead in his gameplan so well.  Sometimes when you are playing him it’s like he sees your own attacking moves before you have even come up with them’  ‘Yes, I would agree with that,’ replied Jontel.  ‘A strong defender, Michael.  A very strong defender.  Probably why I haven’t beaten him in such a long time.’  Uriel nodded, empathising with his elder brother’s dilemma.  He well understood the difficulties in playing Michael.  He himself had beaten him on only rare occasions.  ‘Oh well, I guess I will have to plan out my games a little more,’ said Jontel, whose eyes had returned to the gaming mat.  Perhaps I can learn a thing or two from you, my young friend,’ he said as he studied the board, his mind going through some of the moves that had taken place during the match.

 

After a while he looked up at Uriel.  ‘Well, I have enjoyed our game Uriel.  It’s always a pleasure to play one of my older brothers.’  There was the slightest hint of a jibe in his last comment.  ‘Not that much older, Jontel’, Uriel  replied quickly, unwilling to let the dig go unanswered.  The younger Seraphim chuckled a little.  ‘Yes, I was forgetting.  Anyway, if you will excuse me, I do have a few things to do before dinner tonight.’  Yes of course,’ replied Uriel.  ‘It was good playing you - you always make me fight to win.’  Jontel nodded knowingly at that statement.  ‘Never give up Uriel - never give up.  If I have any lesson for you, it’s that.  Even if it looks like all the odds are against you, stay calm and think through things carefully.  You may be surprised at what you can do when challenged.’  Uriel thought on those words before replying.  ‘Thanks Jontel, I’ll try to remember that.’  Jontel smiled, appreciating his advice being received, and then stood to his feet.  ‘Anyway, Uriel, Raguel, it has been a good afternoon.  Hopefully I will see you later.  Perhaps at dinner this evening.’  ‘Sure,’ replied Uriel.  ‘See you later Jontel,’ said Raguel.  Jontel nodded at them and turned, making his way out of the gaming room.

 

Uriel sat for some time looking at the board, as if replaying the game in his thoughts.  He was quietly pleased with the victory that he had achieved that afternoon.  Jontel was one of the better players of Katchular.  In fact apart from Michael and the ever-improving Saruviel, Jontel was probably the best at the game.  Defeating him was no small achievement.  ‘He was right you know,’ said Raguel, who had quietly sat watching the game.  ‘You did play well.  The way you eliminated his black marker was very well thought out.’  ‘Thanks Rag,’ replied Uriel.  ‘The Red sacrifice is where I got him.  I was just about certain that he would take it.  Lucky that he did, though.  I might have been in trouble otherwise.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Raguel.  ‘I do think that you should follow his advice and try playing Michael.  I’m sure that if you play as well as you did today, you would have a good chance of beating him.’  Uriel smiled.  ‘Yes, that would be nice.  But no, too sone for that.  Too soon.  There are still a few ideas I would like to see in action first - to see how they pan out.  But after that, well maybe.’  I’ll look forward to it,’ said Raguel.  Uriel started collecting the various markers and placed them into the gamebox, Raguel helping him.

 

Reflecting on the way that he played, Uriel was happy with himself.  He had planned out the strategy with the red sacrifice for a fair while - it was nice to see it work.  And he had beaten Jontel, one of the better players at the game.  It was a victory that he was glad he had achieved - winning at something always encouraged him.  In some of the other events and games that the angels competed in Uriel usually did quite well.  It was perhaps something that was part of his nature.  He liked to compete and he liked winning, especially when he felt he had earned and deserved it.  When he did compete, he would drive himself with a determined effort, trying to overcome the opposition.  Part of his mindset was that if he honestly felt he could win at something then he would work extremely hard to try and achieve that.  It was not that he didn’t mind losing; it was not that at all.  He often lost at the various events that the brethren competed in, especially the athletic ones in which he was less skilled - he was more of a thinker and a strategist.

 

But whilst he would lose on occasions, there was something within him that always refused to concede defeat.  The way he viewed it was the loss simply meant that he had to improve.  That he needed to make changes in the way that he approached the event, or that he needed to pay attention to the area which was lacking and work hard to overcome the problem.  It was an approach that Uriel felt worked.  Certainly it was constantly challenging - his brethren, of course, would improve as well.  But that only seemed to spur Uriel on even harder, to put in even more effort to try and be better.

 

In terms of strategic thinking, Katchular was of course the game to play.  A fair number of the brethren actively played the game, many of them being very good at it.  Jontel, who he had just played, had actually devised the game.  He had originally invented it for fun - to be a minor pastime for the angels.  But it had proven so popular, that it had quickly gone beyond that, becoming a major game of strategy in which the angel’s challenged each other.  Its strength was perhaps in the excellent balance if offered in both offensive and defensive styles of play.  Yet it was also easy to learn and simple to play, while at the same time it could become extraordinarily complex, especially when the more experienced gamers were involved.

 

Uriel loved the game.  Playing it was one of his favourite pastimes, especially when playing a good opponent.  It meant that he would have to think and work hard for his victory - something that gave him great satisfaction.

 

With the markers packed away, Uriel rolled up the playing mat and took them both to the side of the small gaming hall, placing them on an upper shelf.  He looked over at Raguel, happy with the way the afternoon’s fortunes had favoured him.  ‘Look, most of the day is behind us and there is something that I would like to do before dinner, so I might call it quits if you don’t mind.’  ‘Sure,’ said Raguel.  ‘It was a good afternoon, though.  And I’m pleased that you were able to defeat Jontel - with the effort you have put in with studying the game I think you have earned it.’  Uriel smiled.  ‘Thanks Rag,’ he said, a little embarrassed at the praise.  ‘Anyway, are you staying at Zaphon tonight or returning to Helyphon?’  ‘Well, if you twist my arm, I will probably stay for dinner.  But after that I’ll have to go.  We’re doing some new work with alloys tomorrow and I want to get an early start.’  ‘Alloys?’ said Uriel curiously, the word unfamiliar to him  ‘That’s what Yaramiel calls them,’ replied Raguel.  ‘They are made by melting down two different metals and mixing them together.’  Uriel found that interesting.  ‘Why would you want to do that?’ he asked.  ‘To make a more useful metal.  Yaramiel has this theory that if you mix, for example, Tatanum with Grell, the resulting metal would bear the characteristics of both.  Like the way we mix colours for painting to produce a new colour.’  ‘Sounds interesting,’ said Uriel.  I wish you luck with it.’  ‘Thanks.  It will prove an interesting experiment, whatever the results.’  Raguel looked around the room.  ‘Well, I might stay here until dinner.  I think I’ll have a game of Keldo.  See how I go at it.’  ‘Sure,’ said Uriel.  ‘See you at dinner.’  Uriel waved him goodbye and left the room.

 

The game had taken much of the afternoon and dinner was approaching as Uriel made his way up to his dormitory.  Fortunately, he had finished all his daily duties that morning leaving the afternoon to himself.  As usual, he spent the time with Raguel, the two of them entertaining themselves as they saw fit.  Raguel was Uriel’s closest friend.  Naturally, he enjoyed the company of all his brethren, but it was with Raguel that he felt the most comfortable.  Uriel knew himself well enough to know that he had a very competitive nature compared with many of his brethren.  Raguel was the perfect foil for that, never letting Uriel’s competitive nature interfere with their friendship.  They rarely competed with each other, unless it was purely for fun, even then Raguel usually losing. Uriel often felt that Raguel did so deliberately, that he was quite happy to let Uriel win, valuing their strong friendship more than simply winning at a contest.  As a result, Uriel often did not put much effort in when he was playing or competing at something with Raguel.  He had thought about Raguel’s motives and agreed - their friendship was much more important, something to be valued far more greatly than any competitive victory.  Still, his determination to win had not been dampened, it coming to the fore when he was engaged in contest with one of his more competitive brothers or sisters.  It was something within him, something in his nature, and it was something that did not concede very easily.

 

His dormitory was located at the northern most end of the upper hallway of Zaphon keep.  There were 10 large dorms along each side of the upper hallway, each dorm capable of housing up to seven angels at one time.  The keep, of course, had been originally designed to house all  140 of the Seraphim, which in the early days it had done so.  As time had passed though, and other smaller keeps had been built, the number of Seraphim who actually resided at Zaphon had declined.  Now there were usually only 50 to 60 regular residents, the rest finding their home elsewhere.  Uriel preferred to remain at Zaphon.  It was his first home, the place he knew best and the place he was most comfortable with.  Of course he often stayed at many of the other keeps, especially at Helyphon with Raguel.  But they were really only holidays of a sort.  Zaphon was his home, and he found the most peace staying there.

 

Entering his dorm he made his way over to the wooden desk located along the far wall.  Sitting down he opened one of the drawers taking out some papyrus and a writing quill.   The reason he had left Raguel at the gaming hall is that he had wanted to work on one of his writings.  In his spare time when he was not with Raguel, Uriel would often write poems.   Poetry was popular amongst the angels, readings often being held at the Melladon celebrations, as well as at other times.

 

Uriel enjoyed writing poetry - it allowed him to express himself in a way that normal conversation didn’t always afford.  His poems would speak on a variety of subjects.  Some would be about God, praising him for his goodness.  Others about Zaphon and the realm that he lived in.  Others still about the fellowship of the brethren and the friendships that he had.  But whatever the subject, Uriel would try to write in a way that expressed his heart’s innermost feelings. 

 

Sincere - that is what Rachel had encouraged him to be.  She was the first of the seraphim to have written a poem, and she was the most admired.  Uriel often spoke with her, asking her how he could improve his poetry.  She had simply told him to remain honest and sincere and to let the poetry flow with feeling.  Perhaps at times Uriel took that advice a little too seriously, often examining his heart strictly to see if what he was writing was genuine.  Sharing his difficulties with Rachel, she had said that he should relax about things and let the words come in their own time.  For the ever-ambitious Uriel that had not been easy.  Still, he had remained committed and his poetry was improving, or so he felt.

 

Looking down at the unrolled papyrus, he read through the poem that he had nearly finished. It was not a long poem - only a dozen lines so far - but Uriel was pleased with it.  On Rachel’s advice he had taken his time in writing it -nearly a month had passed since he had begun - but it was nearing its completion.  He felt it needed only one more stanza.  After reading through it a couple of times inspiration came over him, and he suddenly knew how it should end.  When it was finished Uriel read through it again and smiled.  ‘Done,’ he said to himself.  The poem was finished and he liked what he had written.  ‘I wonder how it sounds,’ he said to himself, and began to speak the poem out loud.

 

Within my heart, my soul and mind

There is a truth that I do know

A truth of Father’s grand design

A truth I take wherever I go

 

Of this place we know, eternity

A place that shows his perfect will

It comes from Father’s deepest thoughts

Each tree and stone, each pond and hill

 

We are our Father’s perfect work

We come forth from his deepest heart

To fulfil his perfect plan

A plan that he made from the start

 

The truth I know is of my God

A truth that until all I tell

Our God he knows of everything

He knows us all, so very well.

 

 

After reading it out loud, Uriel smiled, pleased with himself.  While he felt that it might not be the best poem that he had written, he was very happy with it.  It was a true poem and it did reflect what he was trying to say.  ‘I wonder what Rachel and the others will think of it?’ he thought to himself. ‘I wonder if they will like it?’  He mused.   ‘Time will only tell, I guess.

 

Chapter Six – A Busy Week for Gabriel

 

It had been a busy week for Gabriel.  As he sat in the library of Zaphon studying through one of its scholarly works, his mind went over the events of the last few days.  Ever since the news had been given of his Father’s new creative endeavour, he had been sought out for questioning by a fair number of his brethren.  As Michael had requested, he and Davriel had remained available during the week, ever ready to answer any questions and hopefully to assuage any fears that their brethren had about the impending new creation.  Certainly, he had expected some sort of a reaction.  You could not give out the kind of news that Gabriel had given and expect nothing to come of it.  Still, that had not quite prepared him for the diverse number of queries and comments that many of his brethren had expressed.

 

The variety of opinions that his brethren shared on the subject had surprised him.  A number looked forward to it, excited at the prospect of new brethren and a larger realm to enjoy.  Ambriel particularly had taken the announcement very well, his joy at the news apparent to all.  Others were perhaps lukewarm in their opinion on the matter, simply stating that if that was Father’s will then so be it.  Others still, something which had surprised Gabriel the most, seemed almost opposed to the new work.  Just the previous afternoon Kantriel had come to him expressing severe doubts at the proposed new creation.  He had even queried Father’s motives in the new work, something that had shocked Gabriel a great deal.  Of course he had done his best to assure Kantriel that their Father’s reasons for the new work were beyond reproach.  And while that seemed to have appeased him somewhat, Gabriel could tell that he had left him unconvinced.  It was reactions like that which had even caused Gabriel to wonder at his Father’s reasoning.

 

Initially, he had been very much in favour of the new work.  He knew his God well enough to know that all plans that he made were given the greatest amount of forethought, and he had simply trusted that the new work was part of his grand design.  However, when he questioned his heart seriously on the subject, he was surprised to find that part of him shared the view of the silent majority - a view that simply accept it as God’s will without any overwhelming commitment to it either way.  Kantriel’s reaction had even caused him to question if it was really for the best.  Still, whatever the opinion of both his brethren and himself, the new work was to go ahead - that was a certainty - and Gabriel knew that he should be wholehearted about his Father’s latest intentions.

 

Gabriel, sorry to disturb you, but if you’re not too busy I could use your help for a little while.’  Gabriel looked up from the book that he was studying at the voice that had just spoken.  ‘Yes, certainly Davriel,’ he replied.  ‘How may I help?’  ‘Well, I wouldn’t bother you normally.  It’s just that Brindabel is not here today and I need some help moving one of the bookcases.’  ‘Oh, of course,’ replied Gabriel, standing to his feet.  ‘Thank you for this, Gabriel.  The bookcase is rather heavy and I wouldn’t want to try moving it on my own.  It’s over here.’  Davriel led the way across the floor of Zaphon’s library to a bookcase which had recently been emptied of the books and scrolls that it housed.  ‘I am doing a little rearranging today, as you can probably see,’ said Davriel.  ‘The library is starting to fill up and I need to make some changes to the way the bookcases are arranged to make room for the new one that I’m bringing in tomorrow.’  Gabriel looked around the library.  ‘We have so many books now, don’t we - and on such a variety of subjects.’  ‘Yes, we have,’ replied Davriel, the pride in his voice apparent.  He was Zaphon’s librarian, a job that he undertook well.  ‘We have actually just reached 2,000 articles for the first time.  It’s funny, it seemed like just only yesterday that we reached the 1,000 mark.  Still, our knowledge of this realm continues to grow and expand, and we of course need a place for all of that knowledge to be stored.’  ‘Yes we do, don’t we,’ agreed Gabriel.

 

Gabriel looked at the tall bookcase, wondering at its weight.  ‘So, where do you want it moved to?’  Davriel looked around the library, taking note of where the other bookcases were placed before answering  ‘I think if we move it about a cubit along the wall to the right that should be about perfect.  It leaves plenty of room for me to bring the other one in tomorrow.’  ‘Alright then,’ said Gabriel, assessing what needed to be done.  ‘If you Take that end and pull slowly, I’ll manoeuvre it from this end.’  Davriel responded to the request and they started working the bookcase along the wall.  Moments later it had reached where Davriel wanted it placed.  ‘Just here should be fine Gabriel.  Now, just a fraction more,’  Davriel nudged it a little, putting it into its resting place.  ‘Excellent.  That’s perfect.  Thank you Gabriel, that’s exactly where I want it.’  Gabriel smiled.  ‘No problems Davriel.  Do you need any help in putting the books and scrolls away?’  ‘Oh no, I can manage that.  Please go back to your studies.  And thanks again for the help.  You’ve been invaluable.’  Gabriel nodded and made his way back across the floor of the library to the desk which he had been seated at.

 

The library, of course, housed all the records that the angels had put together in the many years since the keep had originally been built.  Long before the building of Zaphon, God had instructed the angels in the making of papyrus from some of the plants that grew around the realm.  He had also explained how ink could be produced.  Along with the invention of an alphabet to express the language that they had instinctively spoken from birth, the first scrolls had been produced.  Those first scrolls had been very basic in nature, but as time had passed and knowledge had increased, more elaborate scrolls had come forth.  With the building of Zaphon, a room had been set aside for the storage of the scrolls.  Davriel, the record keeper of the Seraphim and the one who had been given responsibility to watch over the scrolls, called the room a library.

 

Since that time many more scrolls had been added with the latter addition of books, being a more recent invention.  Today the library was now viewed as one of the more important rooms within Zaphon keep.  Many angels spent a great deal of time studying the various manuscripts, both for understanding and, for what was a more recent phenomenon, the simple pleasure gained in reading.  The scope of things written about had also increased greatly.  There were always the more technical works - from the various catalogues of plant and mineral matters to be found around the realm, to the blueprint designs of the various keeps which had been built  However, in more recent years such things as musical scores and poetry had also found a home within the library.  It even contained a small number of works on the various clothing items that the angels were attired in.  It seemed that whatever subject could be written about and be found interesting would eventually find a home in the library of Zaphon.

 

Of course, above everything else, the library was home to the sacred books.  In the centre of the library a special stand housed what Father called the books of eternity.  They were the books that Father himself had produced, books that were held in reverence by the Seraphim.  The book of life, as Father had called it, was the most revered of all the books.  It was a very large scroll that had never been unrolled, its contents remaining a mystery to the angels.  There was great speculation amongst the angels as to what was contained in the scroll.  Some speculated that it contained the names of all the Seraphim.  Others that it contained the manner in which Father had brought them to life.  Yet, whatever its contents, all attempts to discover its secrets had remained unsuccessful.  Father had maintained that the scroll was never to be read, and since he had brought it forth it had remained on its shelf, a wonder to all.

 

Apart from the book of life, there was also the Torah of truth.  That work, of course, was the major portion of study that the Seraphim occupied themselves with each morning  Contained within the book were the fundamental precepts and maxims of life.  It was a book of teaching - a book that helped the mind to understand the purpose of existence, and helped to train the thoughts to undertake daily life.  It was also a book that apparently remained unfinished.  Father had told them that there would come a time when he would be adding to the book.  He had not told them what would be added or when, simply that it was a work in progress that was yet to be completed.  That puzzled the angels, who often queried what more could be added to it.

 

Apart from those two books, there was one other that occupied the stand - the book of Judgement.  It was a book that the angels were rarely permitted to read, if ever - and that was perhaps for a reason.  Everyone who read the book ended up confused afterwards.  It spoke in a language that, while they could understand the words, they could only guess at its meaning.

 

Davriel had told them that the writings contained within were a divine legal code - a code that mandated a way of life and the consequences for failing to follow that way.  That did not really make things any clearer for the angels who had only the vaguest understanding of the meaning of law.  Surprisingly, one angel, Raguel, was permitted to study the book, seemingly at his will.  This did not really help him to understand the book much better than his brethren, but over time he claimed that he had gained some sort of understanding of the logic of the book.  It was consistent within itself, he had maintained; yet any more details than that he had been somewhat reluctant to share.  He had simply told his brethren that they did not really need to know anything more than that, but that the book did have a purpose.

 

They were the books of eternity, the library of Zaphon’s most important possessions.  But they were not the books that Gabriel was currently occupied with.  Today he was reading through one of Cimbrel’s works - a treatise on the laws of mathematics.  The book was on geometry in particular - a branch of mathematics that dealt with lines, angles, shapes, surfaces and solids.  It was a very technical book.  Cimbrel was perhaps the Seraphim’s most gifted scholar, having spent many years investigating and uncovering the various laws that governed their realm.

 

Gabriel found the book fascinating.  Some of the more complex laws he had a little difficulty with, but they could be understood if one was prepared to be patient, and to give it a little thought.  Strangely enough, his Father had recommended that he read the work.  He had said that it would help his mind to think logically and to develop rational thought.  After having studied it for a few days, Gabriel was starting to understand what his Father had meant.  The laws the book proposed were internally consistent - they made sense.  And Gabriel sensed that over time, and with further study, the laws would indeed assist him in thinking logically and clearly.  Regardless, he was enjoying the book and was nearing its end.

 

Gabriel, sorry to bother you again, but I was wondering if you would like something to eat.  Lunch time is upon us.’  Gabriel looked up at Davriel.  ‘Lunch time?’  Well, yes.  I am hungry.’  ‘I have actually brought a tray of sandwiches up from the kitchen, so we can eat here if you like.’  Gabriel smiled.  ‘Certainly.’  ‘They’re over here,’  said Davriel.  Gabriel put down his book and followed Davriel to a table at the side of the room, which hosted a tray of sandwiches.  ‘I wasn’t sure what you would like, so I brought a bit of a selection.  There’s also celnoka juice.’  ‘Thank you Davriel.  Your hospitality is one of your better traits.’  Davriel smiled, and took a seat.

 

After having made his way through a chemnuka sandwich Davriel spoke up.  ‘Out of curiosity, what is the book you are reading today?’  Gabriel finished the mouthful he was chewing before replying.  ‘The principles of geometry.  One of Cimbrel’s works.’  ‘Ah, yes,’ replied Davriel.  The principles of geometry - I know it well.  Cimbrel expresses his theories very well in that book.  One of his better ones’.  ‘I guess,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘It is actually only the second of his works that I have read.  I’m usually too busy with my other responsibilities to give enough attention to study - something I should look at probably.’  Davriel nodded.  ‘Yes, I understand what you are saying.  Many of the brethren often tell me something similar.  Still, when you have the time I feel it is important to study the libraries various works.  They are our legacy in a way.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Gabriel in agreement.  ‘I suppose as the librarian you’ve read most of the books in here.’  ‘I’ve read them all Gabriel.’  ‘All of them?’ queried Gabriel, surprised at the comment.  ‘Well, yes.  It is my responsibility to watch over the library and I feel obliged to read through all new additions to it.  But I would probably do it anyway.  Knowledge is something that I esteem.  It is something that helps you to make good decisions - to be aware of all the intricacies of any given subject.  It is through knowledge that Father established our realm, after all.’  ‘Yes I guess it is,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘Through his knowledge and power he created everything.’  ‘Exactly,’ replied Davriel.  ‘Knowledge is so important - something to be valued.’  Davriel paused, taking a sip of Celnoka juice.

 

Anyway, how are you finding the book?’ asked Davriel.  ‘Challenging, certainly,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘I don’t think that I have an overly mathematical mind, which makes understanding the theories quite difficult.  Still, I’m working through it and it’s starting to make sense.’  ‘Yes, I know what you’re saying,’ replied Davriel.  ‘Cimbrel’s works are generally the most difficult to understand.  But rewarding as well.  When you grasp what he is saying it can be very satisfying.   Although not quite the same, studying his works is similar to Torah study.  It helps develop clear thinking and helps one to understand problems.’  Gabriel nodded.  ‘Yes, from what I have seen I would agree with that.  Regardless, it certainly makes you think.’  Davriel smiled knowingly.  ‘Yes it does.’  They continued with their sandwiches, finishing them off.

 

Taking a sip of celnoka juice, Gabriel looked over at Davriel.  ‘I’ve been thinking, Davriel.  With Father’s new work there are certainly going to be a lot of changes.  With so many new brethren your workload will likely increase greatly.’  Davriel nodded.  ‘Yes, I have been thinking about that myself.  If they are like us, which will apparently be the case, they will need to study as well.  And I am sure that after time many of them also will wish to make contributions to the library.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Gabriel.  ‘You and Brindabel will certainly have a challenge on your hands.’  ‘Probably.  But we will adapt.  The one I have concerns about though is Michael.  If he is to be given responsibility over the new enlarged realm he will certainly be stretched.  I know he handles his duties well now, but with such an increase I am sure he will be challenged.’  ‘I have no real concerns about Michael,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘He’s a natural leader.  He will rise to the challenge.’  ‘Mmm.  Yes, of course.  You are right.  I just hope that he’s prepared, that’s all.’ 

 

Anyway, I guess I should be getting back to work.  Those books and scrolls need putting back, and I have some cataloguing to do after that.’  Gabriel nodded.  ‘I think I’ll sit here for a while - finish off my juice.’  Davriel got to his feet, collected his lunch tray and departed.  Gabriel watched him leave and took another sip of juice.

 

It impressed Gabriel that Davriel was such a good student.  It was an example that he knew he should follow.  Still, his responsibilities did keep him quite busy, and Davriel was around books all day.  Perhaps that was an excuse, but it was rare that he had a great deal of free time.  His main responsibility was that of being Father’s chief messenger.  He communicated to his brethren the will of God in how the realm was to be run.  It was an important duty, one that Gabriel took seriously.  Apart from that, the rest of his time was occupied with the general roster work that the angels took part in.  The purpose of the roster was to ensure that all general duties were shared around so that each angel understood in some way the work of everyone else.  It ranged from kitchen duty and house cleaning, to work in the farming region or mines.  Most of the angels took part in roster work, some more than others. 

 

Over time, Gabriel had done many different tasks, each of them teaching him something new.  At the moment, though, he was relieved from roster duties.  As Michael had requested, he was to remain at Zaphon, available for any questions his brethren may have about the new creative work to be done.  He had felt it best to spend his time in the library.  That was where Davriel worked anyway, and it made it easy for him to be found.

 

Taking a last sip of celnoka juice, Gabriel stood to his feet and made his way back to the desk he was studying at.  He would likely finish the book on geometry that afternoon, however fully understanding it would take time.  But, it was a worthy investment, he felt.  ‘I am sure that I will benefit from it one day,’ he thought to himself as he took up the book and began reading.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Jerahmeel looked out over the blank expanse of the rim from the upper level of Dalnaphon keep.  ‘So, that’s where he is going to work, huh.’  The light haired Sariel looked up from the book he was reading at his friend. ‘Apparently so.’  Jerahmeel continued staring out at the emptiness.  After a while he moved away from the window returning to his seat next to Sariel.  ‘5,000,000 cubits.  It’s really amazing what Father intends doing, isn’t it.’  Sariel put down the book he was reading before responding.  ‘Well, yes, I guess,’ he said.  ‘I haven’t really thought about it very much, though.’  Jerahmeel looked aver at his friend, considering his statement.  ‘So, you don’t have much of an opinion about it, huh?  Sariel looked straight at him.  ‘As I said, I haven’t really thought about it much.’  Jerahmeel, sensing his brother’s disinterest, softened his approach.  “Well, fair enough.  It’s just that I feel it is fascinating, that’s all.  It’s not exactly something that happens every day.’  ‘No, I guess not,’ replied Sariel.  ‘Still, if that is what Father wants to do, then I guess we should get used to it.’ 

 

Jerahmeel could tell from his brother’s tone that he was not overjoyed at the new work to be done.  It didn’t surprise him a great deal.  A number of his brethren had expressed similar views, questioning the need for any further creation.  ‘Yes, if that is his will then it is something we should accept.’  Sariel nodded and returned to his book.  Jerahmeel picked up a glass of melit water from the table in front of him and took a sip.  Whilst many of his brethren seemed disinterested in the new work to be done, he was not one of them.  He, if anything, looked forward to it.  Oh, he liked the realm as it was.  It was his home and he was used to it.  But Father’s new work was something that simply excited him - an event he looked forward to.

 

It’s getting late, Sariel,’ Jerahmeel said, looking out the window at the darkening sky.  Sariel looked up from his book.  ‘Yes, I guess it is.  Are you staying here tonight or returning home?’  ‘Actually, I think I will return home.  I have things to do in Zaphon tomorrow morning.’  ‘Sure,’ replied Sariel.  ‘I’ll walk you down.’ 

 

Both the angels rose to their feet and made their way to the stairwell leading to the ground floor.  Once outside Jerahmeel turned to his friend.  ‘Well, it has been a good afternoon.  Thanks again for inviting me to dinner - your hospitality is always appreciated.’  Sariel smiled. ‘Thank you.  I’m glad you had a good time.’  Jerahmeel nodded farewell and started making his way down the garden path.  ‘I think I’ll walk for awhile,’ he spoke out loud as he neared the end of the path.  ‘Try walking along the stream just down further,’ shouted Sariel.’  I’ll do that,’ Jerahmeel replied, as he disappeared into the evening air.

 

He soon found the stream, and started walking along its edge.  The stream was a small tributary of the Sellawon river that ran down from the mountain ranges to the southeast of Dalnaphon.  It was a small stream that ran to the edge of the rim, circling down underneath it into the nether-regions of the realm.  Jerahmeel had walked along it a few times before, usually in company with Sariel.  As he walked along he thought on the afternoon he had just spent.  He did not spend a great deal of time with Sariel.  They were friends, but usually associated with other brethren.  Sariel now dwelt mainly at Dalnaphon, Jerahmeel a resident of Zaphon’s halls.  But they did have dinner together occasionally, catching up on how the other was faring.  It was not a strong friendship, but it was one that Jerahmeel valued. Sariel, he felt, was one of the more honest friends that he had.  He had a straightforward personality - he wouldn’t leave you wondering about his opinion on a subject.  It was something Jerahmeel appreciated about him.

 

After walking along the edge of the stream for a fair while, he came to the Sellawon.  The Sellawon was one of the three rivers that ran through the realm of eternity. It came down from the Dunarra ranges on the eastern side of the realm.  He and Sariel had occasionally rowed down the river in one of the canoes kept at Dalnaphon, something he had not done in a while though.  Dremderry trees could be found along the banks of the river, their low-hanging branches reaching down to the water.  It was an attractive river to walk along, especially in daylight.  Looking up at the sky night was practically upon him.  He had enjoyed his walk but I was getting late and he knew he should get home.  ‘Time to fly,’ he thought to himself.

As he flew southwards to Zaphon, he reflected on the simple life that he lived.  Father had placed few burdens upon him, unlike some of the rest of his brethren.  Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, to name a few; they had been given great responsibilities.  He was perhaps fortunate enough to have escaped such duties. He enjoyed his life, the simplicity of it.  He took part in the rostered work duties like many of his brethren and would contribute ideas when he felt he had something to say.  But apart from that, his Father had not asked that much of him.  As he neared Zaphon, he wondered if that would change with the new creation to take place. 

 

A small part of him hoped that it perhaps would.  Jerahmeel knew that he could do more than he did, and part of him wished to.  He knew he had talents, talents that he felt laid unused.  There was the occasional task that Michael gave him to do.  And whenever Jerahmeel was given such an opportunity he took it and always did his best.  He wanted to impress others, to let them know that he could do what was required of him. 

 

Yasminael, who he occasionally talked to about his life, had told him not to worry about such things.  ‘Opportunities will always come along Jerahmeel,’ she had told him.  ‘Trust in Father and be patient,’ she had advised.  She was right of course.  Opportunities would eventually come.  And it was with the new work that his Father had planned, that Jerahmeel hoped that new opportunities might eventuate.  As for what those new opportunities might be, ‘time will only tell,’ Jerahmeel thought to himself.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

After seeing his friend off, Sariel re-entered Dalnaphon keep and returned to the first floor.  He had enjoyed the afternoon spent with Jerahmeel.  He did not see him that often, but always valued his company.  He was a peaceful fellow, something that Sariel liked about him.  He spent a lot of his time on his own at Dalnaphon, and was used to the placid lifestyle  Perhaps too used to it, growing somewhat accustomed to little fellowship.  Raphael, of course, would visit him often. He told him many times that he should not spend so much time alone at Dalnaphon.  ‘You need to be around others, Sariel,’ he had occasionally rebuked him.  Sariel took Raphael’s advice seriously, and had put in more effort to attend some of the various events that took place.  In part, he had invited Jerahmeel to dinner that evening because of it.  It was not that Sariel didn’t enjoy company.  He was just a little choosy about the company he kept.  It was perhaps true what some had said about him - he was not the most joyful of souls.  Not that he was dull or uninteresting, or at least he hoped not.  He just did not have the same zeal for life that some of his brethren exhibited.  Yet, that was his nature, and it suited him fine.  He fellowshipped when he needed to, and lived out his life.  That was the way things were and, he imagined, the way things would likely stay.

 

Having lit the night candles Sariel looked around the room.  It was getting late and he was starting to feel tired.  ‘Perhaps one more chapter,’ he thought to himself, taking a seat on the embroidered lounge.  He was enjoying the book, one that Raphael had brought around when he had last visited him.  It was by Alindrel, a volume simply entitled ‘Reflections.’  It recorded Alindrel’s various thoughts on the life that the angels had lived in eternity.  It traced from Alindrel’s earliest memories up until recent times.  The eclectic nature of the work is what fascinated Sariel.  Alindrel had talked to many of the brethren before composing the work, and had brought all the various views into it.  She would write from both her perspective and that of her brethren, sometimes covering the same incident from a variety of viewpoints.  It certainly made entertaining reading and Sariel was nearing the end of the book.

 

The work had inspired Sariel, who had given some thought to writing himself.  He had made a few attempts previously, but had not persevered, other things in his life usually getting in the way.  However, having seen the type of work that could be written, he felt encouraged to try again.  He even had a title for a potential work, ‘Perspectives from the Rim.’  Sariel smiled at the title, but it did reflect where he was coming from.  Still, the book would probably remain unwritten.  He might get to it one day, but as to when, time would only tell.

 

Having finished the chapter, he put the book down and made his way to a side cupboard.  Taking a glass he filled it with some dwarrow juice and made his way into his bedroom.  He took off his day tunic placing it in a washing basket.  He considered a nightgown but decided against it.  When he was not entertaining guests at the keep he usually slept unclothed.  Lying on his bed he looked out at the dark night, reflecting on the past day.  Although he had showed disinterest to Jerahmeel on the subject, his mind thought on what he had said.  Father was indeed going to be creating again, and perhaps soon.  That would mean some changes for Sariel.  For a start, he would no longer be living on the edge of the rim.  ‘There goes the book title,’ he thought to himself sarcastically.  But that, of course, was only a minor change.  The main thing was really the new brethren.

 

It had been nearly three centuries since the last of the Seraphim, Davriel, had come into being.  Sariel had assumed, like many of his brethren that his Father’s creative works had come to an end then.  He had grown used to what he called his family.  He knew most of them in a personal way and had developed relationships that were understood.  How would that change now?  Davriel had not given an amount to the new brethren, but had said that their numbers would be vast.  That would mean new relationships for Sariel.  He would have to establish things all over again.  Still, it was Father’s will, and Sariel trusted that his God knew what he was doing.  ‘Changes are coming,’ he thought to himself, as he turned over in his bed, looking for sleep.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Arriving back at Zaphon, Jerahmeel made his way towards the kitchen.  The flight had left him thirsty, and he felt like a drink of some sorts to finish the day.  He found the kitchen empty, not surprising given the time of night it was.  Hearing a muffled noise coming from the dining room, he looked out through the kitchen window to see two angels in conversation.  From where he was standing it looked like Raphael and Ambriel.  ‘I wonder if they wouldn’t mind some company,’ Jerahmeel thought to himself.  Taking a glass of dwarrow juice he made his way out to join them.

 

As he approached, Raphael looked up to him.  ‘Jerahmeel, good to see you.’  Jerahmeel smiled.  ‘I hope I’m not interrupting here?’ he inquired.  ‘No, not at all,’ replied Raphael.  ‘You’re welcome to join us at any time,’ said Ambriel smiling.  ‘Thanks,’ said Jerahmeel, taking a seat.  ‘I just got back from Dalnaphon and was a little thirsty.  I’m surprised to see you two up so late.’  ‘Oh, I guess the time has got away from us a little, said Raphael.  ‘It happens to us often,’ said Ambriel.  ‘Anyway, how was your visit at Dalnaphon?  And how is Sariel doing?’  ‘I had a good time there, thanks Ambriel.  And Sariel’s doing fine.  Same as usual, I guess.’  ‘That’s good to hear,’ said Raphael.  ‘He spends so much time on his own.  He really needs more fellowship.’  ‘I suppose,’ said Jerahmeel.’

 

He seems happy enough, though.  I think he actually likes it on his own.  He tells me often that he likes the peace of a quiet life.’  Raphael nodded.  ‘Just like Azrael, in so many ways.  Prefers it on his own.  A danger I think of residing in the smaller keeps.  You can tend to drift apart from the fellowship a little.’  Jerahmeel thought on that comment.  ‘Do you think so?  Part of me thinks that’s just the way he is.  Probably the reason why he lives at Dalnaphon and not the other way around.’  ‘Yes, that is a point,’ said Raphael.  ‘Still, fellowship is important, and when you live on your own sometimes that can lack.  When he was younger, Dameriel spent a lot of time alone at Glimmersphon.  He said that his fellowship suffered initially, something he had to look at.’  ‘Yes, I guess.  But I suppose it also depends on the individual.  From what I know of him, Dameriel seems a sociable enough individual.  Sariel is not like that.  He is content to live the quiet life.’  ‘Yes, I know what you’re saying,’ said Raphael.  ‘It’s just that I fear the long-term consequences of such behaviour.  If you are on your own too much, it can make it difficult to socialise later when you might want to.’  ‘Yes, I guess so,’ replied Jerahmeel.  ‘But honestly, I think Sariel is intelligent enough to realize that.’  ‘You are probably right,’ said Raphael.  ‘Still, I only want the best for him and I know that involves fellowship with others.’  Jerahmeel nodded, agreeing with him on that point.  ‘Anyway, Melladon is coming soon.  Anything special planned?’  Raphael smiled, ‘Perhaps Jerahmeel. However I don’t think that I will be sharing anything before hand - it would spoil the surprise.’  Jerahmeel grinned.  ‘Yes, I know.  You never do.’  ‘We do have a few ideas,’ said Ambriel.  ‘We have actually been discussing them this evening.  But as Raphael said you will have to wait and see.’  ‘Fair enough, said Jerahmeel.  ‘Well, it is getting late and that flight has tired me out.  I might call it a night.  See you in the morning.’  ‘Good night Jerahmeel,’ said Raphael.  ‘Yes, good night,’ echoed Ambriel.  Jerahmeel smiled at them and left for his room.

 

As he made his way to his dormitory Jerahmeel thought on the friendships that he had.  He liked both Raphael and Ambriel.  Sometimes he felt that they both made too much fuss about others, but he also realised that that was their responsibility.  They looked after the social welfare of the brethren, something which he guessed had to be done.  On occasions he had wondered what life would be like without them.  Whether there would be the same social camaraderie amongst brethren.  He had reached the conclusion that there probably wouldn’t be, which made him appreciate them even more.  He imagined it could be a trying responsibility, which made him realise how easy he perhaps had it in comparison.  Still, that was the way things were, the way things Father wished them to be.  How long things were to remain like that, though, who could say.  ‘New ways are coming,’ he thought to himself.  ‘Ways which would perhaps change things forever.’

 

 

Chapter Seven – Morning, the Day's Advent

 

Morning.  The day’s advent, and the time that Michael perhaps felt the most alive.  Everything was new again - renewed almost.  The night before had put to sleep the previous days worries leaving him with a fresh slate, and the new day’s concerns were yet to invade into his life.  Morning - a time that he could simply enjoy being alive.  Looking out over the landscape surrounding Zaphon from standing on the roof of its uppermost tower, Michael thanked his Father for the way that each new morning almost seemed like it began his life all over again.  Another new day of promise in an endless future.

 

Looking skywards he could see another angel who perhaps appreciated the glories of the new day.  Raphael, ever so high, enjoying his morning sojourn in the skies.  Maybe he too thanked Father for the wonders each new morning brought.  Michael liked to think so.

 

From where he stood on top of the tower he could see most of the realm.  The realm of eternity - a realm which his Father had given him the responsibility to watch over, to manage its day to day affairs.  To the south-east lay the farming region.  It was there that the various fruits and vegetables that the angels lived off were harvested.  Soon there would be workers in the fields, tending to the various crops.  Conscientious workers, providing for the sustenance of their fellow brethren.  Michael admired each of them for the effort they put in.  Demanding labour, but work that needed to be done.  Turning westward he could make out the Delmarra ranges just south of Golden Lake - a place where marble and sand was quarried, and bricks were made.  And north of the lake the Geldurra woodlands which provided for the various woodwork items found throughout the realm - buildings, furniture and so on.  And to the North-east the Dunarra mountain ranges where the various mines were - mines which brought forth the ores for the metals used throughout the realm.

 

From his vantage point on top of the tower they were some of the more visible sites to be seen - but also, from Michael’s personal perspective, the more important ones.  The ones that provided for the everyday lifestyle that the angels enjoyed.  The ones that he had the responsibility of administering over.

 

Michael, firstborn of the Seraphim and head of the Assembly of God.  He was God’s advocate - Father’s chief representative to his brethren.  It was a weighty position and an awesome responsibility.  Yet, it was what Father had brought him to life for - part of the unfolding plan that he had for him.  Of course, he held his position with esteem.  His birthright had perhaps given it to him, but it was not something that he took for granted.  Each day, each new morning that life blessed him with, Michael undertook his role with the greatest seriousness.  His position required him to be an example to his brethren - an example of righteousness that he tried his best to live up to.  And, of course, it was demanding at times.  The privilege of his position naturally assumed an equal amount of responsibility.  And in all of his responsibilities Michael would work hard - he would work hard both to ensure that the various tasks were done as best he could, and to a standard that he felt was worthy of the position.

 

This is my life,’ Michael thought to himself, looking out over the realm he watched over - the realm of eternity.  But soon things were to change - a change that Michael knew he had to be ready for.  ‘Father, you truly work in mysterious ways,’ he thought to himself.  ‘Just what do you have in store for us all?’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Each morning, after breakfast, Michael studied torah.  It was something all the Seraphim did, something which their God required of them.  The Torah was the truth - a work that Father had brought forth to assist the angels in their everyday life.  The principles that it expressed were eternal principles - divine truths that would last for eternity.  The Torah as it stood contained 140 established principles.  Father had told them that for each of the Seraphim created a corresponding principle had been established.  Michael, the firstborn of the Seraphim, corresponded with the first Torahic principle. It read  ‘From eternity to eternity, God is.  Know thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength’.  The first word ‘Know’ was  a word filled with meaning.  It not only meant to understand, but to also love and to revere.  That, in a real sense, was Michael’s principle.  Each morning he would study it, think on it, and try to put it into practice in his life - and at days end, when he remembered, he would assess how successful he had been at doing that.

 

Over the many years he had studied it, he had memorised the full Torah a number of times.  Yet Father had still required that the angels study it each morning.  Davriel had told them that there was a continual benefit in having the mind focus each day on the divine truth.  Not simply memorising the words, but having the mind read and think on them each day, especially in the morning when the mind was fresh.

 

That morning he was studying section 11.  The Torah was divided in 14 sections, each section containing 10 principles.  The usual study pattern of the angels was to read through one section each day and to meditate thoughtfully on the truths the section expounded.  Section 11 began with Raguel’s principle.  It stated, ‘The Lord Almighty, he is God.  His judgements are righteous and true.’  It was one of the principles that Michael did not fully understand.  He knew that the word ‘judgement’ included the meaning of a decision, but it also had a deeper meaning that remained hidden to him.  Upon asking him, Father had told him that the principle would be understood in the fullness of time.  Apparently much of the torah was like that.  As time passed greater understanding would be gained.

 

With his study complete, Michael as usual sang a simple praise song.  Over the years the various praise songs that the angels sang at the end of their studies had been compiled into a scroll.  Davriel had called the scroll a book of Psalms.  The Psalms were simple songs of thanks and praise to God, usually sang at the end of study and other times of spiritual activity.  Michael sang one of Meludiel’s that day, but he occasionally would sing one of the few that he had composed.  His were not of the same calibre as Meludiel’s but they were sincere - an attitude he strived for in all his works.

 

With his spiritual activities finished, Michael took the Torah scroll and placed it in the small bookcase beside his bed.  As usual, his spiritual studies had taken about half an hour, after which his work responsibilities beckoned.  As he sat on his bed, he thought of the day ahead of him.  That morning he would be seeing Mistrel about the proposed building of a new keep.  That discussion would likely take a while.  After that he wanted to talk with Gabriel about a few things, and then probably lunch.  And of course, the Melladon celebration was that evening.  ‘Something to look forward to,’ Michael thought to himself as he made his way out of his room to begin his daily routine.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Yes, I know Mistrel, I know.  You have been waiting a long time for this.  But as I said, with these latest developments I feel that it would be better to postpone the building of Pellersphon until a more opportune time.’  ‘But we have been waiting for so long, Michael,’ Mistrel persisted.  ‘Can we not at least make a beginning on the project?  Surely that is not too much to ask?’  Michael gave his brother a look of frustration.  He understood where Mistrel was coming from and appreciated his position, but he did not feel that the understanding of his own concerns were necessarily being reciprocated.

 

All right Mistrel, let me explain carefully.  I know full well how long the building of Pellersphon has been planned.  I think we first discussed the idea nearly thirty years ago.  And I appreciate that you have had to be patient until the time was right for the new centre to be built.  And I do promise you that it will be built, and hopefully soon.  But at this moment in time I do not feel it would be wise to commit the necessary resources to the building of the centre.’  ‘And why is that?’ asked Mistrel.  ‘I would have thought that was obvious,’ replied Michael.  ‘Father’s new work.  That’s why, isn’t it?’  ‘Yes, that is why,’ said Michael.  ‘This new work that Father has planned will undoubtedly change things within our realm.  It will be of a much greater size, after all.  And until that event has come to pass I simply cannot authorise commitment to a major project such as Pellersphon.  We simply do not know what Father may require of us in the weeks and months ahead.  To commit to such a project with this hanging over our heads is simply not possible.  Do you see what I’m saying.’  Mistrel sighed, running his hand through his hair.  ‘Yes, yes, I know what you’re saying Michael.  I myself have been wondering about the consequences of Father’s new work for us as well.  It’s just that Elenniel and I have waited so long for this project to begin.  And now it seems like it is being taken away from us just as it was about to happen.’  Michael smiled at his friend.  ‘I know Mistrel.  I would imagine it could be very frustrating for you.’  ‘Frustrating?  Hmm.  Yes, that’s one way to describe it.  But I do see what you’re saying.  If that is the way things are at this present time, I guess I will just have to accept that and be patient.’  Michael smiled at Mistrel’s obvious sarcasm.  ‘Look Mistrel, it will happen.  not now, but as you said, with patience the centre will be built.’  ‘Yes, with patience,’ echoed Mistrel.

 

Pellersphon, as the centre was to be called, was a new type of building not before seen throughout the realm of eternity.  The word ‘Peller’ had a deep meaning, conveying the idea of artistic design and performance.  The proposed new building was to become the home for the arts throughout the realm.  In regards to design, many of the angel’s artistic works were to be housed in the centre.  From the various paintings of Jamenuel to the engravings and woodwork of Elenniel.  It would even include some of the metalwork creations that Gandel had brought forth in recent years.  Furthermore it was to be a house of performance.  Dance was to be performed there.  From the merry jigs that Gamrayel had orchestrated, to the more traditional dances that the angels had performed since the days of the Garden.  And, of course, it was a place for music.  While the choir hall at Zaphon would remain the focus for formal performances of song, smaller performances could be given at Pellersphon.  It would also become the home for the performance of the various musical instruments that the angels had invented.

 

Mistrel had been the driving force behind the building of Pellersphon.  For a number of years he had discussed with Michael the building of the centre.  Initially, Michael had given a somewhat lukewarm reaction to the idea.  It had not been a priority for the angels at that time - they had other more important matters to concern themselves with; the ongoing development of the realm, the neverending need for new scholastic works, and so on.  But Mistrel had persisted, constantly confronting Michael with many persuasive arguments so as to convince him of the merits of the idea.  And eventually that persistence had proved successful.  Michael had agreed that such a centre seemed like a good idea, and had agreed to give the time and resources necessary so that the building may be constructed.  It was to Mistrel’s great misfortune that the proposed building of the keep had coincided so closely with the announcement of his Father’s new work.

 

Well I suppose that there is nothing that can be done then, is there?’ said Mistrel.  ‘As I said Mistrel, patience.  Father’s new creation will impact upon all of our lives, and dramatically.  We just don’t know what we will be doing in the immediate future, and perhaps for some time after that.  But I promise you that at the first real opportunity we have, Pellersphon will be built.  It’s just a matter of time.’  ‘Time, yes time,’ said Mistrel, the annoyance in his voice apparent.  ‘Well, I guess if that’s the way things are then there’s not much I can do about it.  I’ll just have to wait.’  Michael smiled knowingly at his brother’s dilemma.  For him he realised that their Father’s proposed work could not have come at a worse time.  Still it had, and Mistrel would simply have to accept that.  ‘Patience Mistrel, patience.’  ‘Yes, patience,’ Mistrel echoed.  ‘Well thank you for at least explaining your reasons to me.  I don’t know if I really like them, but I can accept them.’  ‘Thank you Mistrel.  It gladdens me to hear you say that.  Anyway, changing the subject, there is a Melladon celebration tonight.  Might you be performing?’  ‘Ah Melladon.  I was forgetting.  Well yes, actually.  I will be playing the glimpipe tonight.  And a new work too.  But I will leave that for tonight.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise now, do I?’  ‘No, of course not,’ said Michael, pleased that the change in subject had brought a positive light to Mistrel’s face.

 

Well, I guess I should be going.  Things to do, of course.’  ‘Certainly,’ replied Michael.  ‘See you tonight.’   ‘Yes, see you then Michael.’  Mistrel nodded, and got up from the chair he was sitting on.  Michael showed him to the door of his office, seeing him off to the day’s affairs.  Returning to his chair, he thought on Mistrel’s situation.  He felt for his brother.  Mistrel had petitioned him for a number of years for the building of Pellersphon.  There had always been reasons to delay its building, but eventually it had been given the go-ahead.  He could well appreciate Mistrel’s anger at it being delayed once again.  Still, delayed it would be, something which Michael could do nothing about.  There were other more important concerns that Michael had at the moment in time - concerns that could not be delayed.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Ambriel smiled.  ‘Yes Uriel, I am sure that it would be alright.  I will have to arrange it with Raphael of course, but I see no problem with it.  Besides, Meludiel is singing some songs tonight, and I think it would be wonderful for you to read your poems after she has finished.  I am sure the brethren will appreciate them.’  Uriel smiled, pleased at what Ambriel had said.  ‘Thanks Ambriel.  I have been writing some of them for a while and have been waiting for the right moment to share them with others.  Tonight’s Melladon celebration should be the perfect time.’  ‘Definitely,’ said Ambriel in agreement.  ‘I am sure it will add a unique colour to tonight’s celebration.  It’s not often we have poetry readings after all.’  ‘Yes,’ agreed Uriel.   ‘Look, I have to be going, things to do.  But I will drop around tonight just before Melladon and you can tell me if it’s okay to read the poems.’ ‘Yes, good idea,’ said Ambriel.  ‘I will organise it with Raphael and let you know then.’  Uriel smiled.  ‘thanks Ambriel.  Well, I’ll see you later.’  Ambriel stood to his feel and saw Uriel to the door of the room.

 

Returning to his chair, Ambriel thought on Uriel’s proposal.  That night’s Melladon celebration had been carefully organised.  There were various items of entertainment that had been planned - a number of musical performances and some dances.  A poetry recital seemed like the perfect addition to it, and Ambriel was sure that Raphael would approve.

 

As he sat thinking on that night’s celebration, Loquiel called out to him from the connecting office.  Raphael’s small assembly of workers claimed two rooms at the north-western corner of Zaphon, just down the corridor from Michael’s office.  The room Ambriel was currently in was decorated with various chairs and lounges, intended to be a place of casual conversation.  It was connected by a walkway to an office in which the more formal side of their business was organised.  That room was currently occupied by Loquiel who had been busy, engaged in the various responsibilities of the office. 

 

Ambriel,’ Loquiel called.  ‘Are you still there?’  Ambriel made his way into the small office.  ‘Yes Loquiel.  I was just speaking with Uriel.  Our brother has something special for us tonight - he has decided to share some of his poems with us.’  ‘Poems?  I didn’t know Uriel wrote poetry.  Has he been doing it long?’   ‘I couldn’t really say.  Something that I neglected to ask him.  But I am sure that they will be alright.  Knowing Uriel, I am certain that he would have put his best into them.’  Loquiel nodded his head in agreement.  ‘Yes, that is the way with Uriel, isn’t it.  Such a perfectionist, that one.  Always strives for the best.’ Ambriel sensed an air of concern in Loquiel’s statement. ‘I think that is an example that we all should follow Loquiel.’  ‘Yes, of course Ambriel.  But within reason.  While we should always work to our best, we also need to understand that we have limits.  We are finite creatures, you and I.  And while our Father is infinite, we are not.  That is something that I think all of us need to understand, and I think that I am practically quoting Torah in saying that.’  Ambriel smiled.  ‘Yes, of course Loquiel.  I know exactly what you are saying.  But what, dare I ask, are our limits?  And how are we to know when we have reached them?’  Loquiel smiled at his brother’s question, happy to share his viewpoints.  ‘How are we to know?  Mmm.  Let me answer that by asking you a question.  If you were to fly from Dalnaphon all the way to the southern most edge of the rim as fast as you could, how do you think you would feel at the end of it?’  Ambriel considered his response before answering, his curiosity aroused.  ‘I suppose I would be exhausted.  That flight is about 100,000 cubits - I am not sure that I could even fly it in one go.  Not as fast as I could, anyway.’  ‘Exactly,’ said Loquiel.  ‘And why is that?’  ‘I guess because I would tire out - run out of energy.  I mean it is a lot to ask of anyone,’ replied Ambriel.  Loquiel smiled.  ‘Of course it is,’ he said.  ‘When Father made us, our bodies, he made us to endure to a certain level.  Physically we can only take so much before we become exhausted.  The lesson - our bodies have limits.  And once we have reached them it is unwise to push our bodies any further.  Now, if physically we have limits, it stands to reason that we also have them in other areas.’  ‘Yes, and those areas are?’ interjected Ambriel.  ‘Well, mental areas and disciplines.  Take Michael, for example.  His duties keep him busy most days - he doesn’t often get time to relax.  And his work is very demanding.  But he can not go on working indefinitely.  His mind needs a time to wind down and to refresh. One of the main reasons that Father has given us the seventh day as a day of rest, I would imagine.’  ‘Yes,’ agreed Ambriel.  ‘I suppose that is one of the main purposes to the Sabbath rest.’

 

Now,’ continued Loquiel, ‘Uriel drives himself.  Sometimes very hard, in competitions and other things.’  ‘He likes to win, I think,’ said Ambriel.  ‘Yes.  Yes he does.  And while that is not necessarily a bad thing, driving yourself too hard can perhaps have unfortunate side-effects.  Firstly, of course, if you push yourself to extremes your mind will become exhausted.  After a while it may not work in its normal fashion - things like concentration and memory can slip.  They are some of the more noticeable effects of overworking.  But in Uriel’s case I worry about the emotional problems which he perhaps could encounter.’  ‘Emotional problems?  What do you mean? queries Ambriel with growing interest.  ‘Having to win all the time, having to be better, or even the best, is not the best mindset to have.  It can make you push yourself, sometimes too hard.  When you don’t succeed you can often blame yourself for the failure, which can lower your self-esteem.  And there are other problems in that it can affect the way you view others - others who are not as driven as yourself.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.’ 

 

Ambriel nodded.  ‘Yes, I understand what you are saying.  They certainly sound like potential dangers.  But I don’t think that is the case with Uriel.  I think that he would be wise enough to understand his limitations.’  ‘Perhaps,’ said Loquiel.  ‘You know him better than I do I would imagine, so I couldn’t say for sure in his case.  But it does worry me. It is a lesson in life that our young brother still perhaps has to learn.’  ‘That may be so,’ said Ambriel.

 

Anyway,’ continued Loquiel, ‘I am mostly finished here for today.  ‘Time for lunch, I guess.’  ‘Yes it is,’ agreed Ambriel.  Loquiel continued, ‘Now after lunch Yasminael will come around.  As usual she will be helping us with preparations for tonight.  You should be right to help set up at the amphitheatre with her, shouldn’t you?’  ‘Yes, I think so,’ replied Ambriel.  We have done it many times before, so we should be fine.  ‘Good.  If you need any help please let me know and I will arrange something.  Well, let’s go.’  The two angels exited the small office, making the way towards the dinner hall.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Melladon was the most regular of the various celebrations that the Seraphim attended throughout the year.  As the name implied, it took place on the first day of every month, leading to 10 of such celebrations each year – 20 each cycle.  The months themselves were named after the firstborn of the male and female seraphim, in chronological order.  In the first year of the cycle – a cycle being 2 years – all the first 10 Male Seraphim were honoured.  The first month was Michamon, followed by Gabrimon, Raphamon, Urimon, Ragumon, Phanumon, Saruvimon, Sarimon, Bantrimon and lastly Cimbrmon.  In the second year of the cycle, all the first 10 Female Seraphim were honoured.  The first month was Elemon followed by Aquamon, Nimomon, Karmon, Doramon, Brindamon, Krystamon, Glorymon, Ashayzimon and finally Shemramon to complete the cycle.

 

Melladon was a festive occasion, a time when the angels could gather together in their common fellowship, enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company.  It was a celebration which Father had ordained.  Along with the new year and mid year festivals, as well as the Pentecostal festivals which were celebrated on the last day – the 50th day – of each month, he had decreed that the day after the Pentecostal celebration, each new month be a time when the angels could gather and celebrate in each other’s company the joys of life.

 

The celebration was held in the evening, dusk of the previous day marking the beginning of the new one.  Unlike the Assemblies held in the throne room, the Melladon celebration was not mandatory attendance for the angels.  Many though would usually attend, the numbers fluctuating throughout the year.  The heart of the celebration was thanksgiving to Father for the joys of life.  The word Melladon actually meant joyful new day, and Father had meant it to be a time when the angels could celebrate simply being alive and enjoying the fellowship of each other at the beginning of a new month.

 

That evening’s Melladon had been going well.  The celebration, as usual, was held in the small amphitheatre on the outer southern side of Zaphon.  The amphitheatre was large enough to seat all 140 of the Seraphim, although it was rare that every seat was taken.  Much work had gone into preparing the amphitheatre for the night’s celebration.  Stands featuring all sorts of delicacies and refreshments that the realm of eternity afforded were lined along the sides of the theatre.  They would be gradually emptied as the night wore on.  Colourful lanterns also ran along the railings surrounding the amphitheatre, providing light for the happenings.  The usual sequence of events was an introduction by Raphael to the night’s celebration, followed by prayer, quiet meditation and a song of thanks to Father which all the angels sang to welcome the new month in.  After that the night flowed along with food and conversation, interspersed with performances on stage.  The night, as usual, would conclude with the angels taking to dance on the front stage.

 

As Michael was helping himself to another glass of melit water from one of the stands Elenniel came up to him.  ‘Michael, may I talk with you.’  Michael took a sip from his glass and turned towards Elenniel.  ‘I think I know what it is you want to talk about.  Pellersphon, right?’  ‘How did you guess?  I was talking with Mistrel and he has told me that it is to be delayed yet again.  Is this true?’  ‘Yes, I am afraid so Elenniel.  Because of circumstances that are beyond my control I have had to delay the proposed start for Pellersphon.  There is really not much that I can do about it.’  ‘What circumstances exactly?’  Didn’t Mistrel tell you?  Well, as you are well aware our Father has decided to embark on a new work of creation.  None of us yet know when that work will begin, and until that time I am afraid I cannot authorise any other new works to begin.  Father may have need of all our talents in the immediate future and I would want us all to be available to him for whatever purpose he might have.’  ‘I see,’ said Elenniel nodding.  ‘Then Pellersphon will not be built!’  ‘No, I didn’t say that,’ replied Michael quickly.  ‘As I was telling Mistrel, it is just a matter of time.  When Father has finished his new work and we have settled into it we can look at Pellersphon again.  But until that time it is simply not possible.’  Satisfied with that answer Elenniel nodded her head.  ‘I understand Father’s work must of course take precedent.  I guess we will have to wait once again.’ 

 

Elenniel turned her head towards the stage.  Performers were making their way on to it and the angels were returning to their seats.  ‘It looks as if we have another performance.  Would you like to sit with me, Michael?’  Michael smiled, always happy to spend time with Elenniel.  ‘Yes, of course. After you.’  Elenniel led the way down the small amphitheatre towards the front row.  They took a seat next to Kimborel who smiled, greeting Michael.  As quiet came over the amphitheatre, the performers began playing on their instruments, filling the night air with song.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

With the Melladon celebration coming to a finish with the closing dance, the angels gradually dispersed, each heading to their own abode.  Michael, after finishing a conversation with Kimborel, approached Ambriel and Raphael who were packing away dishes at the side of the amphitheatre.  ‘Well, the night certainly went well, I would say,’  ‘Yes, certainly,’ replied Raphael.  ‘And Uriel’s new poem was especially interesting.  Very thoughtful in the way he expresses things in his life.’  ‘Yes,’ agreed Michael.  ‘A deep thinker is certainly one of Uriel’s qualities.  Something we should all appreciate, I would say.’  ‘That is true,’ said Ambriel.  ‘Well, could you use some help in packing up?  I know that you and the few with you are always doing it Raphael, but I have time now if you need me.’  Raphael nodded, and gestured towards the tables.  ‘They need to be stored down behind the front of the amphitheatre.  Loquiel looks like he has finished his conversation, so I am sure he could help you.’  Michael looked over towards Loquiel, who was now making his way towards them.  ‘Loquiel, could you help me put these tables away?’  ‘Of course,’ replied Loquiel.  The two of them grabbed each an end of one of the just cleared tables, and started making their way towards the front of the amphitheatre.

 

Later on, when everything had been packed away, Michael bid farewell to his friends, and started making his way towards his dormitory.  As he walked along, he thought on the night just passed.  Melladon was one of his favourite occasions that he looked forward to each new month.  It was an event that brought forth the talents of his brethren, something which brought quiet joy to Michael’s heart.  Seeing his brothers and sisters display the talents that their Father had given them gladdened Michael as it gave him an understanding of his brethren’s hearts and minds as shown through the art of each performance.  Uriel’s poetry that night was such an example.  Uriel had obviously taken great care in the writing of his poem, and the words spoken resonated with many of the angels that night, Michael included.  Yet each performance was special, not just for the display of the angel’s skills, but for the joy, peace and harmony that it brought to their fellowship.  As Michael walked up to his dorm he thought on that peace and joy that their fellowship had, and silently thanked his Father for the blessing that his brethren brought to his life.

 

Chapter Eight – Knowledge

 

Knowledge.  Knowledge was useful, or so Saruviel had been told.  In his visits to the library of Zaphon, and in his  many conversations with Davriel and Cimbrel, it had oft been stressed to him both the importance and usefulness of knowledge.  Important, as it explained the mystery surrounding things, and useful because of the many applications that such knowledge brought.  Whether that was from the complexities of mathematics and design to assist in building objects, or the different types of roots from plants that could help in the use of cooking various dishes, knowledge, in whatever form was useful, and to be sought after as something valuable.

 

Of course, prized most highly by the Seraphim was knowledge of Torah.  It was Torah, so it was said, that explained the greatest of all mysteries, the spiritual realities that governed their universe.  Of that being the truth did Saruviel have no doubts.  Torah had been a strong reality that governed the living of  his life.  In the principles expressed, Saruviel found answers to the many questions that he had and, as well as that, a sense of meaning and purpose.  He studied it each day, as he had done for many years, and was familiar with each verse, each word virtually.  In it he could find no fault.  As much of it that he did understand he agreed with, and the rest of it he sensed to be in perfect harmony with the other, though the full comprehension of it was something that he could not say that he had.  All that being the case, it was Torah that for so long had been the rock in his life that he had built around.

 

However, in recent times, thing, in some ways, had changed.  It was not that the torah no longer spoke to him.  It did.  But there was something else.  An uneasiness in his heart, in his soul.  Something which he did not have the words to explain, but something that none the less was there, eating away at him, demanding an answer.

 

In the last few months that something had become more prominent and demanding in his life.  While he had never been a recluse by nature, unlike some of his other brethren, his recent behaviour had seen him by and large cut off from the regular gatherings.  While he still had some modicum of fellowship that was limited mainly to his closest friends Kantriel and Daraqel.  They were really the only ones he felt comfortable with in a more personal way.  With his other brethren, the relationship he had with them was usually of an adversarial role, that after all being the task given him by his Father.  Because of that, it was not always that easy to relate to them on certain levels.  And in his present circumstances, sharing the difficulties he was going through with others just did not seem realistic to him.  If it was a trial that he was going through, it was a trial for him alone, not something that he could easily share.

 

That trial, the trial of his heart, kept him awake at nights.  In it he questioned things.  He questioned motives, both his own and others.  Why was he here, here in the realm of eternity?  What purpose did he serve?  And why did he and others do the things that they did?  They were but some of the questions that weighed  heavily on his heart.  At times he had answers.  At times things made sense, and he was happy then.  But still, a search for meaning occupied his heart.  Torah answered much, but still he questioned.   Still there lingered something in his heart that needed an answer, an answer to a question he wasn’t sure that he could even formulate.

 

Once, in conversation with Raphael, he had shared a little of his dilemma.  Raphael answered him well, sharing his own experiences, but not in a way that Saruviel could truly relate to.  He had closed by suggesting that he share his difficulties with their Father.  That was something that Saruviel had initially been reluctant to do, but had later taken Raphael’s advice.  God had spoken to Saruviel carefully, his words obviously well chosen in Saruviel’s own opinion.  He had comforted him and told him that over time he would gain the answers that he sought.  Patience, he had told Saruviel.  Patience, and answers would come.  Since that meeting some time had passed, and while he did not doubt that meaningful answers would come eventually, it was the waiting for those answers that he found difficult.

 

In the end, it was knowledge that Saruviel sought.  Knowledge that would give him a deeper understanding of his own circumstances and of the things that happened around him.  Knowledge that would explain the mysteries of his heart.  And the time had come for him, so he believed, to gain that knowledge.

 

In the beginning, in the early days of his life, Saruviel dwelt, along with the rest of his brethren, in the garden, now found just to the south of Zaphon.  The garden was their birthplace, and their first home.  In it they found fruit trees of all sorts to provide them with sustenance, and pleasant trees and bushes to rest under when weary.  The garden life had been idyllic.  A golden time in their childhood, when everything had been new and seemed wonderful to them.  Eventually that life had come to an end when the angels began moving out from their garden home.  Zaphon was built and from then on that became the abode for most of the angels.  But the garden was still often visited, even if only as a reminder of where they had come from.

 

Of course, the garden was also home to what their Father had called the trees of eternity.  These select trees were distinct from others in the special blessing that they gave to those who ate of their fruit.  First and foremost among them was the tree of life.  It was by partaking of the fruit of that tree that the angels gained the spiritual sustenance to live forever.  The fruit of that tree was taken every century at the new yeas day celebration.  Through partaking of it, Father blessed them with eternal life.  Whether that blessing was from the fruit itself or from the work of their Father no one knew.  But through their obedience that blessing came through the ritual eating each time.

 

Another of the trees was the tree of peace.  Fruit from that tree gave the eater a sense of great peace and  tranquillity.  It was a tree that Father allowed to those who went through difficult times, giving ease to the soul.  A tree that Father had advised Saruviel to partake of, which he had done, and had found the peace spoken of.

 

But the tree that Saruviel was most interested in, a tree whose fruit had never yet been eaten of by any of the Seraphim, was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  It was that tree that Saruviel felt may unlock the current mysteries of his heart.

 

When Father had first introduced the angels to the trees of eternity, he had given them permission to eat of the tree of life and the tree of peace.  The tree of knowledge of good and evil, however, he had not given them permission to eat of.  Whilst he had not strictly forbidden any of the Seraphim from partaking of its fruit, his advice had been that while they were young with much to yet learn, the fruit of that tree would be of no use to them.  He had further told them that it could cause confusion to their young hearts and minds. It was a fruit, he had said, to be partaken of only by those of a mature age.

 

The tree itself was an item of curiosity to many of the angels.  Whilst they had some understanding of what it was meant by knowledge of good, Father first explaining to them that the joy and love they felt in their fellowship was an example of that which was good, they had little to no understanding of what it was meant by knowledge of Evil.  That was a term that their Father had yet to fully explain to them.  The best that they could surmise was that evil was that which was not good.  Davriel had suggested that the term referred to those things which were bad, an idea that seemed plausible to many of the angels.

 

Standing before the tree, Saruviel looked up at it, examining its leaves and fruit.  He had seen the tree a number of times before, mostly early on in his life, when he had been a resident of the garden.  No one, of course, had ever partaken of the fruit, something Father had strongly advised against.  That advice was still in Saruviel’s thoughts as he stood there gazing at the tree.  In some ways, he was nervous.  The unquiet in his heart was a strong call on his life.  It had been with him for many months now, and had led him to where he now was - to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  But to partake of that fruit, to go against his Father’s advice, was a step he was not sure if he was ready to take.  He needed answers, desperately.  But did the gaining of those answers warrant the step he was about to take.  That question, he thought, he would have an answer to soon enough.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Kantriel was not an overly complicated angel.  At least, that is what he thought about himself anyway.  He lived a simple life, did the work allotted to him, got along well with his friends, and generally enjoyed himself in all his undertakings.  Father, he felt, had blessed him with a good life, one that he appreciated, and he was happy enough to live knowing each day that there was a purpose to it all, even if he didn’t understand everything about that purpose.

 

Since the time he was a young angel and old enough to think such thoughts, he had lived simply trusting his Father, believing that everything would always be alright, as that was the way that things had always been.  And, Kantriel had assumed, the way things would always stay.

 

That is where the dilemma with Saruviel challenged him.  Saruviel was his closest friend, a friend he’d had since he was very young.  In many ways, he looked up to him, and respected what he said.  Like Michael, Saruviel was very dedicated to his work, taking the role Father had given him with great seriousness.  His words in conversation he chose carefully and when Kantriel was around him he listened attentively to what he said.  But recently those words had dried up greatly.  His insular behaviour had been noted by many of the brethren, Kantriel receiving a number of queries on what Saruviel was going through.  He’d answered as best he could, but all he could really say was that Saruviel was going through changes and needed time to himself.  At least that Is what Kantriel hoped for with regards to his friend.

 

He’d spoken with Daraqel  many times about him to gain his perspective. The three of them had been close for many years and Kantriel hoped to gain understanding from Daraqel’s  point of view on the situation.  Yet Daraqel  seemed largely unconcerned about Saruviel, telling Kantriel not to worry so much about him.  “I’m sure Saruviel will find the answers he is looking for,’ he had said.  ‘After that he will be his usual self again.’  Kantriel held to those words somewhat, hoping them to be true, but still he had doubts.  Doubts and worries about how his friend was faring.  With those thoughts on his mind Kantriel made his way up the steps of Zaphon keep, his course headed towards the dining room for lunch.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Daraqel, all things considered, was happy with his life.  Although he never gave it very much thought, he enjoyed the life he lived and was generally grateful to his Father for having blessed him with it.  Being in his late 300s he had experienced many things, and was basically used to how life operated.  He had friends, good friends, whose company he appreciated.  He had work, which always gave him something to do, and there were always other things that kept him occupied.  Yet in all of that there was a strong theme of consistency.  Life generally didn’t change very much.  Which is where recent developments challenged him somewhat.

 

Like most of his brethren he had generally assumed that their Father had finished his creative works.  They were the Seraphim, his children, which is what, so Daraqel  though, he had wanted to bring forth for him to have company with.  And when their number at 140 had been completed, Daraqel had thought that that had been the end of his Father’s creative efforts.  Yet such was not the case.  Obviously Father wanted more children, for whatever reasons he had, and it was incumbent upon Daraqel to simply accept that.

 

In the last few days he had given it some thought.  In truth, he was not greatly bothered by the announcement.  He trusted his God, and assumed that his Father knew what he was doing.  And there was always the opportunity to make new friends with new brethren, which was something that excited many of his fellow angels.  That fact didn’t really get to Daraqel  that much, unlike Kantriel who had reacted extremely strongly to the news.  Although, knowing Kantriel, that was not that surprising.

 

And, of course, there was the situation with Saruviel.  His friend had not been himself for quite some time now, which, although he kept it to himself, worried Daraqel  somewhat.  Saruviel’s uneasiness had affected him as well, leading to his own introspective thoughts at times when  he was alone.  From the few words that Saruviel had spoken to him on what he was going through, he had learned that he was questioning the meaning of things.  It was something that Daraqel  had never really thought about, but it had sparked something in him, leading him to his own silent queries on life.  But those he kept to himself, not wishing to worry any of his brethren.

 

Certainly, life was not its usual self, yet he was sure things would return to normal soon enough.  Or so he hoped for.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Semambarel looked up from his lunch at the approach of one of his friends.  Kantriel was making his way towards were Semambarel sat, lunch tray in hands.  His friend nodded to him, smiling, and took a seat opposite.  ‘Hello Kantriel, said Semambarel.  ‘Busy morning?’  ‘Not really,’ replied Kantriel.  ‘Harvesting was finished last week, so I have some quiet time for a few weeks.  I have just been spending some time with Abraqel out at the Delmarra ranges.’  ‘Really?’ replied Semambarel.  ‘How did that go?’  ‘Oh, it was all right.  Interesting, really.  He showed me around the main mine where he quarries most of the stone we use.  I’ve been there a few times, of course, but he showed me some of the techniques he uses for mining the rock.  Very hard work, of course.’

 

Kantriel paused, partaking of some of his lunch, before speaking on.  ‘Anyway,  how have you been?  I don’t think I have seen you for a while.’  ‘I’ve been well enough,’ replied Semambarel.  ‘Busy, though.  Judael has requested some special ink for a new type of papyrus she is preparing for Davriel.  I have been working all morning on the right shade to go with the new papyrus.’  ‘Really,’ said Kantriel.  ‘What is the new papyrus for?’  ‘I’m not sure, but I think it may be for one of Davriel’s new works.  You could find out from him.’  ‘Semambarel paused, taking a sip of juice from his mug.  ‘You know, Kantriel, I haven’t seen much of Saruviel recently.  Is he well?’  Kantriel stopped off eating a piece of bread, unsurprised at Semambarel’s question.  ‘Well, he’s alright.  He is still behaving normally, I guess.  But yes, as you have probably noticed he is keeping to himself.’  Semambarel raised his eyebrow at that comment.  ‘Well, is there any reason for his solitude?  Saruviel is generally one of the more social of us.  Many of us have noticed his absence as of late.  It worries us a little.’  ‘I could imagine,’ replied Kantriel.  ‘I’m afraid that all I can really say is that Saruviel needs some time to himself.  He is working through some problems that he has.  How long that will take, I can’t really say.  I only hope that it will be soon.’  Semambarel nodded, seemingly in agreement with that comment.  ‘Let’s hope so, anyway,’  ‘Yes, let’s,’ said Kantriel.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Darkness.  Darkness was the absence of light, or so Saruviel had been led to believe.  Light was strong, persistent, irresistible.  It was bold, encompassing the angel’s activities each day.  Enshrouding them with colour and glory.  God their Father was, so Davriel said, the source of light.  From him came shining forth the light that illuminated their realm.  Each morning and day his power brought radiance to the scape of eternity.  His glory rang through the realm, brightening the angels’ lives, bringing colour and joy to the hearts of his children.  Of course, there was night as well.  But night in the real, of eternity was simply a time of lesser light.  A time when the light was not so strong, more reserved, restful even.  A time when the angels could likewise rest from their activity, resting in the calm gentle glow of eternity’s twilight embrace.

 

But it was darkness that, for the moment anyway, occupied the thoughts of the recently ever-thoughtful Saruviel.  Darkness was a place without light.  A space where light did not exist, a place it could not go.  A place where God’s glory yielded - or refused to enter - for whatever reasons that might be.  This idea fascinated Saruviel.  The idea of darkness, a void of emptiness where light did not enter, was something new to him. 

 

As he lay on his bed in Glimmersphon keep, staring out the window into a light-filled eternity, his mind wondered upon this new revelation.  What would it be like, he thought to himself, to be without light.  Without the comfort of God’s presence.  To have nothing to guide by, to see by.  He’d closed his eyes, experimenting, wondering at such a thing.  All his life he had lived surrounded by lights presence.  It had been there, watching over him, enabling him to chart his way around the realm he lived in.  It had been there, like a silent companion, guiding him in all the steps he took.  To be without that light, he thought to himself, would be confronting.  To not have that guardian to sight watching over each step, assisting one through one’s activities, would be daunting, daunting to say the least.  But still, there was something in it that attracted Saruviel.  There was something about darkness, something he could not put words to describe, but something that appealed to him nonetheless.

 

That afternoon he had, after much hesitation, partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The fruit itself was lightly sweet in taste, with a hint of sourness.  He’d taken it, seated a distance away from the tree, looking towards Zaphon.  He’d taken it, not knowing what to really expect, but his heart, so he had hoped, prepared for whatever may come.  Initially though, that was little, if anything.  He had thought there may perhaps have been some reaction.  Perhaps some grand revelation, some great new understanding.  But after eating the fruit, all that had really accompanied it was the sound of the wind rustling in the leaves.  No, there was no great revelation.  He had simply continued sitting there, staring towards Zaphon, awaiting he knew not what.

 

After a while he’d stirred from his resting place.  He’d rose to his feet, perplexed at the apparent lack of change in his thoughts.  Bemused at the seeming indifference with which the fruit had affected him.  Doubts had come in.  Perhaps it had not worked.  Perhaps he needed to eat more than one piece to have a real affect. But no, he thought to himself.  God had made the tree as it was.  He had to trust him, to assume that whatever the fruit was intended to do, it had done.  And whatever that was, he would see over time.

 

As he had made his way back to Glimmersphon keep, slowly gliding through the light-filled atmosphere heading westwards, something perhaps did happen.  His thoughts focused.  And something came to him.  An idea.  An idea about the world he lived in.  Looking over the landscape spread below him, he thought on how he was able to perceive it.  On how he was able to appreciate its beauty, its wonder.  And that made his heart happy.  Inexplicably there was joy in his heart at being able to know of, and to see such beauty.  And to understand that it was his God that had created this wonderful work made him happy in a way he couldn’t describe.  It made him glad, so glad that he was alive.  Alive to live in such a wonderful world, to live in such a wonderfully made paradise. All that he could really say was that it was good.  Somehow that word seemed to so perfectly describe the world before him.  To express exactly what it was that his God and Father had made.

 

That joy remained as he flew along, filling his heart with silent admiration of his Father’s great handiwork.  After a while, though, he stopped in his thoughts, stunned almost.  That joy had taken him by surprise.  Even those thoughts had taken him by surprise.  Certainly, after all the questioning his heart had struggled with recently, the turmoil his mind had wrestled with, such joy was a welcome relief.  A happy respite from the constant quest for knowledge, the unrelenting thirst for understanding  But it was something unusual.  Something so unlike the way he’d normally think.  It was something, a joy so deep, that he’d not felt before.  Something that made him question why he would think such things, and react in such a way.

 

Slowly it dawned on him.  The fruit.  It was the fruit that had done it.  It must have been.  The Saruviel he knew wouldn’t think such thoughts.  He dared say he’d rarely contemplate things such as the marvel of God’s creation.  But such things he had thought on.  And a joy, so unexpected, had entered his heart.  A joy he could only call good.  He thought on the fruit, thinking upon the title his Father had given it.  The tree was called the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

Of course, it was the idea of knowledge that had captivated him, had attracted him. It was knowledge he was seeking, knowledge that would answer his questions, that would give his heart rest.  And a tree of knowledge, a tree that would give him insight, give him understanding, was what he needed.  Was what his heart  yearned for.  But, of course, it was a tree of knowledge of a particular type.  It was a tree of knowledge of good and knowledge of evil.

 

It was goodness, of course.  He understood the term from what he had been taught about it.  And he could only call good the understanding he had just experienced.  It was understanding of something that was full of light and joy.  Something that filled his mind with awe, with understanding, of what was wonderful.  Understanding or knowledge, knowledge of that which he could only call joyous, knowledge of that which was good.  Such, he thought, was the knowledge he had just experienced.  Such, he thought, was the knowledge that the fruit had brought forth.

 

Flying along, he smiled to himself.  He laughed a little.  If that was goodness, what a wonderful thing it was.  What a thing to bring pleasure to the soul.  If that was goodness, how great was his Father.  How good he must be to bring such joy into being.  Joy that had filled his heart, knowledge of goodness that had such a profound affect on him.

 

Certainly, it was knowledge that he had been given.  He was not really sure if it was the type of knowledge that he had expected, but nonetheless, it was the knowledge that he had received.  A knowledge unexpected, but a knowledge that he was now thankful for.  And a knowledge that had answered his silent prayers, a knowledge that had given some rest to his seeking soul.  As he flew along the thanked God for that knowledge of good, his thoughts not yet turned to that other aspect of the trees providence.  That other knowledge, knowledge which his brethren knew so little about.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

It was later that afternoon, as he’d returned home, and after refreshing himself and retiring to his bedroom, that thoughts of a different type entered the mind of Saruviel.  Thoughts that in nature seemed perhaps a stark contrast to the thoughts earlier that day, thoughts that had given him such a profound insight into God’s goodness.  As he sat on the end of his bed, drinking a glass of water while looking out his room’s window, he noticed again the wonders lying out there before him. 

 

The scenery surrounding Glimmersphon was something that he appreciated now, even more so than before.  It was wonderful how he could appreciate such goodness, how his eyes could take in such marvellous sights.  Thinking on that, he contemplated just how it was that he could in fact see the works God had made.  His eyes let the imagery into his life, but the eyes only perceived it because of the light that lit eternity’s realm.  That was something he knew.  Cimbrel was a scholar amongst the brethren, and he’d at times given instruction into how their world was made and worked, knowledge that God had shared with him.  As with Davriel, he’d given the angels understanding of the concept of light.  Light was the substance which illuminated their lives, that which enabled them to see each other and the realm that they lived in.  This they appreciated and understood more so at night, when light was less, giving them some measure. 

 

Light, of course, came forth from God.  God was pure light, so Davriel had said.  He was the centre of Glory, infinite radiance coming forth, emanating from him.  And his light filled their whole realm, guiding them in everything they did.

 

Without light, though, there was darkness.  This was a concept not easily defined.  Cimbrel explained that at night, when light was less, that darkness was there too.  Darkness was where light was not.  With eyes closed they also had some understanding of what darkness was.  Davriel had said God was everywhere, and that darkness was limited only in as much as God limited himself from it.  This Saruviel thought on.  He knew of light, and was thankful for it.  But darkness was something he did not know of.  What exactly was it?  Could it be seen?  What was it made of, if anything?  Such thoughts entered Saruviel’s mind, as he lay on his bed, the unrelenting questions of his mind continuing.

 

As the afternoon passed, Saruviel thought greatly on the subject.  It was, again, something new to him.  A subject he had previously given little thought.  All he could say, was that darkness perplexed him.  He had some vague understanding of the concept, but could not really define what it was.  But it was something that he was curious about.  Something that he wanted to know more of.  If God was everywhere, as Davriel had said, then where could darkness really be.  If light permeated all that was, how could darkness exist.  This thought he found challenging, yet fascinating as well.

 

After a while, afternoon began to wane, and evening approached.  Looking out the window he did indeed notice that light seemed to be growing dim.  Shapes became harder to make out.  Darkness, apparently, interfered with the work light steadily undertook.  Darkness lessened the impact that light made, having its own influence on the realms atmosphere as evening slowly descended.  Saruviel wondered to himself just then what it would be like if light surrendered completely.  If darkness was allowed to complete its march upon it, to have night completely to itself.  The angels would be left with no guide.  He supposed they would not be able to see anything, to be left to search around with no aid, perhaps stranded as prisoners to where they lay.  Such a thought made Saruviel a little uneasy.  It dawned upon him how awkward that might be, and suddenly he regretted thinking it.  If God was light, would he be there?  Thinking upon it, it scared him a little.  Darkness was where God was not.  But how could that be?  God was everywhere, that was what Davriel had told him.  How could darkness be?  How could it exist?  As he thought more about this the uneasiness continued.  If God was not there, perhaps he did not want to know.  God was his Father.  He watched over him, and was central to Saruviel’s life.  If darkness was without God then Saruviel thought that perhaps he didn’t really want to know that much more about it.  Perhaps it was a subject not really worth thinking about.  Perhaps it was something best left to the explanations of Cimbrel and Davriel.  A subject he now felt best left untouched.

 

Suddenly there was a yearning in his heard. He needed to see somebody.  He needed to talk to someone, to be in their presence.  He had just been scared, although he had not the words to describe what he’d felt.  And he needed to be comforted, and quickly.  Leaving his room, he made his way down to the kitchen where Dameriel was busily at work, preparing the evening meals.  He was then glad to see his friend, his brother.  And suddenly very grateful for the care his brother had shown towards him, the hospitality he’d received.  Something he’d not really thanked him for.  He touched Dameriel on the shoulder, who turned towards him, and smiled.  “Yes, Saruviel? he said, the concern apparent.  Saruviel looked at him and smiled.  ‘Umm, ah.  Nothing really Dameriel.  I just wanted to talk to you, I suppose.’   Dameriel nodded, ‘Of course.  Whatever you want to talk about.’  Saruviel smiled at his friend, his heart grateful at that warm response.

 

Later that evening, as Kantriel and Daraqel  returned from their days activities, Saruviel thought on just how lucky he was.  He had good friends, friends that cared for him.  And at the moment he was glad for their presence.  Glad at the love they freely gave.

 

That night Saruviel slept well.  His heart was happy, perhaps for the first time in months.  He’d found a peace and solace in his friends, friendships that he had perhaps neglected.  And a  love he had not felt for he knew not how long had returned, a love and comfort whose warmth he now rested in.  As he lay there resting, night slowly passed outside his window.  And the darkness he’s so recently discovered hovered there, slowly going through its allotted time.  It hovered there, watching over the resting Saruviel.

 

Chapter Nine - Secondborn

 

Gabriel was not the oldest of the Seraphim, that particular honour belonging to his older brother, Michael.  But in many ways, to his brethren anyway, he was looked upon nearly being as such.  It was more often Gabriel, and not Michael, that brought tidings from their Father.  It was Gabriel that often represented him to the brethren, and Gabriel that often gave counsel to them on his behalf.  He spent much time with his God, many long hours in conversation, gaining insight into life, and understanding into the way things were run in the realm of eternity.  He loved being with him, loved learning from him, for he was his Father and teacher.  But, as time had passed over the years of his life, he had become somewhat more than that.  He had become, so Gabriel felt, his friend.

 

God, so he had told Gabriel, often confided in him.  He shared with him private thoughts he had.  Thoughts on his children, and thoughts on their home.  These were often weighty words for Gabriel to receive.  God was, so Davriel had often said, an infinite being.  He had knowledge of all things, an understanding that, so Davriel had termed, was omniscient.  Yet he was also a being of infinite power, of infinite might.  What all that meant was that being in his presence, being in conversation with him, was unlike anything else that Gabriel had experienced.  It was unique.  And when he spoke, God’s words were deep, heavy, even.  Often, Gabriel felt they were laced with all sorts of meaning.  Meaning that he thought he sometimes grasped, but at times could not honestly say.  But words that also spoke in a plain directness, words intended to be understood, that Gabriel took in with all their force, and all their clarity.

 

And today, strong words he had received indeed.  Today God confirmed what he had previously hinted at.  It was now official.  New brethren they would have.  And such an immense number, one million four hundred thousand in all.  That news had stunned Gabriel.  To have so many new brethren, so many new brothers and sisters, was an idea that had at first overwhelmed him.  How could he ever possibly know so many.  To meet them for the first time alone would take months, probably years even.  And to remember all their names would take a lifetime.  It simply made his mind wonder.

 

And, of course, the realm was to grow.  That they had already known, and indeed to the width of five million cubits, as Father had previously said.  And throughout the new realm, so Father promised him, would be new landscapes, new sights and scenery to give the angels even more room to roam.  More space to soar throughout eternity and behold its wondrous new sights.

 

It was now his responsibility to share that news with his brethren.  God, for whatever reasons he had, had chosen Gabriel to give that news.  Gabriel had thought perhaps Michael, perhaps on this occasion for news so important.  But no, God had chosen him, seemingly happy with Gabriel serving as his messenger.  It pleased Gabriel to do this for his Father, but he did spare a thought for his older brother.

 

And he was to share the news that night, at evening dinner, as had become the norm for announcements.  He was to ensure, so his Father said, that all his brethren were present.  And by that he had stressed all - none were to be absent.  In accomplishing that he would need help, as a number of angels did not reside in Zaphon’s keep.  But Davriel always helped him in such circumstances, as well as Raphael and his small group.  They would help get word out and ensure all were there to hear the dramatic news.  News, he was sure, that they were anxious to hear.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Raphael, of course, was happy to help Gabriel in his need.  He spoke words to his team, assigned the usual roster, and sent them out to ensure the evening’s turnout.  Gentle Ambriel had smiled at the news, obviously pleased that what they had been told in promise was now confirmed in word.  It meant new brothers and sisters for him, something that brought a fresh light of joy to his ever-happy face.  Raphael himself had expected the announcement to come.  And the dimensions of the work didn’t really surprise him.  God did wondrous things, this he knew.  To be so bold in bringing forth so much new life was something not unlike his Father.  He was, after all, God.  And he had a vision, an imagination, a sense of purpose that brought great things to life.  It was why Raphael appreciated and loved his Father so much.

 

He himself had a handful of his brothers and sisters to track down.  To inform of that night’s important gathering.  Chief amongst those was the ever-reclusive Azrael.  And that silently pleased Raphael.  Their recent lunch had, as Raphael had seen it, gone well.  Azrael had opened up to him, sharing much about his life, and his thoughts on things.  They’d talked well into the afternoon learning it would seem much from each other.  Azrael had surprised Raphael somewhat in what he actually knew.  He seemed well informed of the happenings in the realm, and about the general goings on of his brethren and their affairs.  And he seemed to have friendships that Raphael knew nothing of.  A whole social circle that Raphael had not really been part of.  It was something that surprised him about his brother.  That afternoon, so Raphael now liked to believe, they had formed a new friendship.  Hopefully a bond was now there.  One in which trust could be formed, and loyalties given.  It was what he hoped for, anyway.

 

He found him in the vegetable garden of Senersphon keep, as he had correctly guessed.  Azrael was usually the sole inhabitant of Senersphon, and the keeping of a vegetable garden was a responsibility he had taken unto himself.  It provided a source for some of his meals, and gave him work, so he’d told Raphael, that he enjoyed doing.

 

Landing just near the garden, he made his way into it, past rows of various plants, some he was not sure he’d seen before.  Azrael, who was on his knees digging at the ground, looked up at the approach of his older brother.  He nodded to him as he approached.  Raphael smiled.  ‘Azrael.  I’m glad to see you.  That looks like hard work.  Glad I’m not doing it.’  Azrael grinned at that, happy to see his friend.  ‘Yes, but it’s work that needs to be done.  These plants often need our assistance to keep them growing.  Anyway, what brings you around?’  Raphael looked down at the dirt Azrael was digging through, wondering just what assistance his friend was giving the plants.  ‘Tonight.  Dinner at Zaphon tonight.  You, with all your brethren will be there, for we have news.  An announcement we’ve been waiting on.  You may know what it is.’  Azrael looked up from his digging, his eye alert at that announcement.  ‘Father’s new work?’ he queried.  Raphael nodded, ‘Yes, you guessed.  It would seem that Father has indeed decided to go ahead with his new endeavour.  Gabriel received the news this morning and we are to hear the details tonight.’  Azrael resumed his digging, thinking on those words.  ‘Well.  It’s change, I guess.  I suppose we’ll get used to it.’  ‘Yes, I guess that’s one way of looking at it.  I sense from your tone though, that you don’t really seem overjoyed by the news.  Do you not really care?’  Azrael stopped digging, obviously thinking about his answer.  ‘Well, no.  I wouldn’t say that.  It’s just that I’ve had some time to think about it and I guess it doesn’t really bother me.  Just change, I suppose.  We’ll get used to it.’  ‘I suppose,’ said Raphael, mildly bothered by his brother’s comments.  It was certainly something that had impacted on Raphael’s life, and he found his brother’s position slightly peculiar, curious that he could be so seemingly nonchalant about it.  Still, that, from what he had seen, was not unlike Azrael.

 

Anyway,’ he continued.  ‘Dinner is at the usual time, and I will be glad to see you there.  Your best tunic might be a good idea.’  ‘Sure,’ replied Azrael.  ‘I’ll be there.’  Raphael nodded, pleased with that.  ‘Well, I guess I will be going.  I have other people to chase up.  But I will see you tonight.’  Azrael got to his feet, wiping dirt off his hands.  ‘Sure Raphael.  And thanks for coming to tell me.  I will be there.’  Raphael smiled at his brother, and turned, making his way out of the garden.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Gabriel looked across the dining room as he entered through the side doors.  It was near full, some of the angels still arriving after their days activities.  Michael was at the head table, in conversation with one of the angels next to him.  Gabriel still thought to himself that it perhaps should be Michael to share such important news.  But no, God had chosen him, so he would do so willingly.  Some eyes were upon him as he made his way across to his own table and sat down.  No doubt they had some idea of why they were gathered together that evening, and anticipated the news he was to give. 

 

As he sat there he thought on how he would share the news his Father had given him.  Directly and to the point, he supposed, as he usually did.  ‘Gabriel.  So it’s going to happen then?’  Gabriel looked across at the angel who had just sat down opposite, his younger brother Kelkuriel.  ‘Well, if you mean Father’s new work, then yes.  His decision has been to proceed with it.’  ‘That doesn’t surprise me.  He doesn’t change his mind much.’  ‘Rarely’, agreed Gabriel.  ‘Tell me, how has your day been?’  ‘Oh, typical really.  Nothing unusual.’  ‘Mmm and how is Surafel?’  ‘Oh, he’s fine.  Happy enough.’  Kelkuriel was crafter of wood who, along with Surafel, produced the furniture and various wooden items used around the realm.  ‘Anyway,’ continued Kelkuriel, ‘when will you make the announcement?’  ‘Towards the end of dinner, I suppose,’ said Gabriel.  ‘It’s the best time for such things.’   ‘Yes, it probably is,; replied Kelkuriel.  the dinner trolley pulled up to the side of their table, interrupting their conversation.  A tray was passed to Gabriel, who received it gratefully.  When all the angels had been served, Michael rose in the centre of the room, and the angels quieted.  He prayed a short prayer, a prayer of thanks to their God for the provision of their meal, and then sat.  Chatter again filled the hall, and the angels began their meal.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

And, as he said, the new realm will be enlarged to 5,000,000 cubits.  With much in the way of new scenery.  And a whole host of new trees and plants.’  The whole room was alive with chatter as Gabriel had begun relating to his brethren the details of the new work his Father had planned.  ‘And, as I said before, we are to have new brethren.  But what may come as a surprise to many of you is the great, and I must say great, number of new brothers and sisters we are to welcome to our world.  In all, one million four hundred thousand.  Each, Father has said, quite unique.  Each quite distinctive.’  That news caused a buzz around the room. 

 

Yes, I know it’s a lot,’ continued Gabriel, ‘But that is Father’s desire.  He has assured me that it is his complete will for there to be such a number, and that there being so many  does serve a purpose.  A deep purpose, so he has said.’  Gabriel paused, taking a sip of melit water before continuing.  ‘Now, this much you have known, to a degree.  But there is more.’  He looked towards Michael, smiling.  ‘Our older brother, Michael, is our head here in the realm of eternity.  As you would all agree he serves us well in managing the affairs of his realm, a tireless job he does with skill and great dedication, to which we are all grateful.’

 

In our new realm, though, there is to be new responsibilities.  Firstly, six more main keeps are to be built.  Not small ones, as you might think, but great ones.  Ones to rival our home here, Zaphon.  Along with Zaphon, they will serve as Beacons throughout the new realm.  They will be grand homes, centres of activity for both ourselves, and our new brethren.  And each keep will house a number of us, a new home for many.’

 

And, as I said, there will be new responsibilities.  Father has decided to appoint for each of the new keeps an overseer.  A head angel to watch over the keep and, apparently, a region to administer.  And with that the responsibility of watching over many of the new brethren.’

 

Gabriel again paused, allowing that news time to be received.  He took a sip from his glass and resumed  ‘Six of us here he has chosen for those roles.  Six, so he says he finds appropriate for the task.  Michael, as you may have guessed, will remain here in Zaphon.  He is to watch over this head-keep, as Father has said it will be; and be there for all of us as a guardian and guide.  The new keeps, though, will have their own heads.  And, yes, he has shared with me those names, and asked me to share them with you.  Each keep has its own name, each serving a purpose.’

 

Firstly there is Mitraphon.  Mitraphon, as the name suggests, will be focused around spiritual teaching.  A place where angels can gather together in fellowship, and learn the ways of God.  A place, also, where they can learn from each other and share their ideas on life.  A place of love, and peace.  It is Raphael that Father has chosen to head this keep.  Raphael that, so he says, will bring the necessary qualities needed to watch over and guide the affairs of the keep.’

 

Gabriel turned to Raphael, who seemed mildly surprised at the announcement, looking a little dazed as the eyes of the room were upon him.  ‘Raphael,’ said Gabriel, ‘Congratulations.  may you minister your responsibilities with wisdom and love.  Well done.’  Raphael smiled back and nodded.  His shock seemed to have diminished and, to Gabriel, he looked somewhat pleased.  An angel to his left leaned over and patted him on the back, obviously happy for his brother.

 

Gabriel continued.  ‘Next, is the keep Brephon.  Brephon is to be a home to tradesman, a place where organization of the realm’s work activities is co-ordinated from; and a place whose region will include much of the new farming sector.  Miners and builders will also find a home there, a place also where those skills will be taught.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, God has chosen Raguel to oversee that keep.  As you know, he serves us well running the farming sector, and Father has decided that his skills and talent at that job warrant him being the one to watch over Brephon’s activities.’ 

 

Gabriel turned to Raguel, smiling.  ‘Raguel; may you continue in your work with all the dedication you have shown all of us so far.  And congratulations.  Well done young brother.’  Raguel stood and gave a slight bow.  He also looked pleased.

 

Romnaphon will oversee other types of work; the more specialized tasks many of our brethren undertake.  Craftsman, workers in wood and stone, and those who produce finished goods such as pottery and tools and other things; they will find a home at Romnaphon.  And like Brephon, those skills will be taught there.  Education into those activities will take place in that keep.’ 

 

Our brother Phanuel has been chosen to watch over that keep.  Father has said he is appropriate for the task; the most suitable candidate.  Gabriel turned to him.  ‘Phanuel.  I trust that, as you have done, you will continue to work with maturity and understanding  May you administer Romnaphon with all the God-given skills and talents that you possess.  And may you succeed in all your undertakings.  Congratulations.’  Phanuel nodded back at Gabriel, his demeanour suggesting calm satisfaction at the news.

 

Gabriel continued.  ‘As some of you may know, we have long awaited the building of Pellersphon.  A home to the arts, and a place of performance.  No doubt, such a place will be built eventually.  However, in our new realm, Father has perhaps taken such a thing into account.  Pelnaphon is to be the home to the study of the arts.  It is to be a place where art and music will have a home a place where us angels may gather to study these things, to learn and to discuss.  Of course, as with all the keeps, it will be home to a number of angels, and still carry the responsibility for overseeing the region of which it is part.’

 

It is our young brother Uriel that God has chosen to watch over this keep.’  Gabriel turned to him.  ‘Uriel.  I pray that you undertake this role with all the wisdom that is within you.  May you guide and teach those under you, and bring all your talents this important task.  Well done young brother.’  Uriel smiled back, looking a little shocked at the announcement.

 

The keep Kalphon is a keep devoted to competition    A place where physical activities are pursued, and a place where intellectual challenges in our various games can take place.  A place where angels can gather together to compete with each other, and to learn from each other - a place where we can seek to reach the best in ourselves, and see that develop in others as well.’ 

 

Gabriel turned towards Saruviel.  ‘Saruviel.  Father has chosen you to watch over this keep.  May you continually set an example to all you watch over.  An example of dedication and the pursuit of the best that is within us.  I congratulate you brother.  Well done.’  Saruviel calmly nodded back towards Gabriel, seemingly not overly concerned with the announcement.

 

Our last keep,’ continued Gabriel, ‘Is the keep Terraphon.  As its name implies, Terraphon is to be a home for scholars and the pursuit of education.  It will house a new, great library, to which our brother Davriel will  watch over.  And angels throughout the realm can gather together there to learn all the forms of knowledge that we have unearthed through our studies, and grow in wisdom and understanding.  And, for whatever reasons he has, God has chosen myself to watch over this keep.  I promise you all that I will do so as best I can.  My utmost devotion I will give.’  Gabriel paused then, letting these details sink in.

 

Shortly after he continued.  ‘Now they are the six new keeps to build.   Of course, with so many new brethren, six keeps will not be enough to house such a number.  There will be, then, in addition to them, a great number of other smaller residences, a large number built alongside those keeps; others built in various places.  And there will be other buildings of different types, the details of which Father has yet to reveal.’

 

He paused, taking a sip of melit water before continuing  ‘They are largely the details that Father has revealed to me to share with you.  Now, as for when all this will take place, Father has said quite soon.  In fact,’ he said looking towards Michael, ‘as many of you might know our oldest brother is to turn 400 shortly.  To coincide with that event, Father has deemed that the first of our new brethren will be born.  So, as you can see, it is not something we will have to wait on.  And on that day Father has decreed an assembly to take place.  We are to gather as one at noon in the throne room.  There Father will speak to us, and share with us what is to come.  And that is the news that I have to share.  If there are any questions please come and see me as soon as dinner is finished.  Thank you brothers and sisters for listening.’  Gabriel returned to his seat, as the hall became alive with conversation.

 

Later on, after Gabriel had spent a good while answering a number of queries, he made his way towards Michael.  ‘Well brother.  News indeed.’  Michael smiled, ;’Yes, Gabriel.  And thank you for speaking so well.  And congratulations yourself.  A great responsibility it is indeed.’   ‘Yes, yes it is,’ agreed Gabriel.  ‘One thing that I would share with you is your new role.  There is, Father has said, to be a new council.  You and the six of us are to serve on that council, to gather every few months.  You are to head the council, being chief spokesman  Now, before you ask, the exact details I do not know.  Father has asked that you speak with him soon and he will discuss it with you.’  Michael nodded, taking the news on board.  ‘Sensible, I would imagine.  And Zaphon’s new role?’  ‘The council is to be situated here,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘God has said for Zaphon to be the seat of government, a place where the whole affairs of the realm are discussed, and instruction and rulings given.’  ‘Yes, I see the wisdom in that,’ said Michael.  ‘In some ways, it seems not much change.’  ‘Continuity, I think’ said Gabriel.  ‘Father understands how things are supposed to be.  the new realm is to be like this one.  Simply enlarged.’  ‘Yes,’ agreed Michael.  ‘And my birthday.  He has his ways, doesn’t he.’  ‘I think it fits in with a larger plan he has,’ said Gabriel.  ‘But whatever his reasons, yes that is the date.  And not so far away.  We’d best ready ourselves.’  ‘Certainly,’ agreed Michael.

 

The two of them talked for a while longer, as the room gradually emptied.  Later, as Gabriel was making his way towards his dormitory, he thought on the evening’s announcement.  The news had been received well, to which he was happy.  It seemed most of the brethren now accepted God’s decision to enlarge their realm.  The doubts of many had seemingly disappeared, having probably gotten used to the idea.  That pleased him.  For such a thing to go ahead, so Gabriel thought, unity amongst the brethren was important.  That now apparently achieved, there was nothing he now had to fear.  As he made his way towards his room that gladdened him.  A time of change indeed.  But something for Gabriel anyway, to look forward to.  Whatever may come.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Beyond the dark?  The Light?  Or something completely other?  It was later, now.  Later since that dark night of the soul.  4 Months had passed and Saruviel had grown a little softer – a little more compassionate.  The tension had eased somewhat, as if a dark spirit had finally given up and gone to others to seeks its malevolent will.  And now Saruviel, in a way a stronger Angel, toughened by his heavy philosophical cogitations, seemed more relaxed and at peace, better able to cope with his deepening introspective thoughts – almost as if now such thinking had been grafted into him, inculcated into his nature – now something which came almost naturally.

 

He took a sip of water, sat upright in his bed in Glimmersphon keep, and thought on Dameriel.  Perhaps this once he would go down early and prepare the morning breakfast.  Yes, a good idea to show his gratitude to the brother who cared for him so much.

 

Standing there, in front of the stove, carefully frying the Langata plants with the mushrooms and tomatoes, Saruviel was in a good mood suddenly.  Suddenly it felt good to be doing something for others, to be doing the work for the upkeep of the keep.  And perhaps he had not quite done enough, not quite set the example that the 7th Seraphim should set.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

As Dameriel finished his breakfast, taking a swig of orange juice, he asked Saruviel what had gotten into him to think about preparing breakfast, but all Saruviel would say was that someone had to do it.

 

Kantriel and Daraqel showed up later that morning, chatting away happily with their usual lively banter.  They went out to sit on the shore of Golden Lake later on in the afternoon and as Saruviel sat there, he silently thanked his father that the tribulation of his soul was now complete.  And then he took a flat rock, fluck it across the lake, watching it bounce and smiled to himself as the other two joined in.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Samael, child of heaven, was miffed.  Really, quite miffed.  All that bloody work on Saruviel and the lad had gotten over it.  Not even the slightest bit of aggravation against God which had pissed him off mightily.  Still, he had a backup plan.  A good one.  Satan of Infinity, firstborn of the Saruvim, aye, he would do the job.  He would take care of things.  He would ensure the grim and gruesome work of the dark lord of heaven continued, steadfastly and faithfully dedicated to his malevolent purposes.  And grinning to himself he cracked open a can of beer and lit another cigarette.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

His name is Semyaza, and he is firstborn of the Cherubim.’  As God spoke those words there appeared, emanating from the presence of his glory in the throne room of Zaphon, a form wrapped in cloud.  Shortly the cloud dispersed and there, standing before the Seraphim, stood an angel, his head facing downwards.  As time passed, he apparently became aware of himself, and raised his head.  He opened his eyes and looked out upon those stood before him. He looked around, wonder upon his face, taking in the first images of his life.  What it was that he thought of the scene before him, the angels could not say but each hoped for the best of introductions to their world. 

 

Michael stepped forward to greet their new young brother. ‘Semyaza, welcome.  We,’ he said indicating the angels around him, ‘are the Seraphim.  You are our new brother, the firstborn of the Cherubim.’  Semyaza looked at him, wonder still on his face.  He again looked around at the Seraphim, before returning his gaze to Michael.  For the first time he spoke.  “You are Michael?  The eldest?’ he said querying.  ‘Yes, I am,’ Michael replied.  Semyaza nodded, taking that in.  He spoke again.  “Father has told me of you.  And of the others.  You are my brethren, he has said.’  Michael smiled warmly.  ‘Yes, we are.’  The other angels then moved forward together around their new brother, and to welcome him to their world.

 

As the months passed, more and more brethren came to be.  Each was welcomed warmly, each received with love.  The cherubim were, in many ways, similar to the Seraphim.  Their appearance was essentially the same, although they were, in general, a little smaller in their frames.  They also had just two large wings, as opposed to the four wings that the Seraphim possessed.  Yet, apart from those differences they were, from what appeared to the Seraphim, largely like them.  And each, as their Father had said, possessed their own name, and their own features and persona.  Each quite unique.

 

The realm, of course, was expanded as well, although in a way which surprised some of the brethren.  Their home still stood as it was originally made, roughly circular in shape.  The newly fashioned realm encircled their own, yet they were separated at the rim by a number of cubits; the new realm being also about 50 cubits lower down.  Although the angels could of course fly down to the new realm, Father had asked that stairwells at some time be built to connect the two together.  This was so that the angels could also walk down to the lower area, and of course walk back up as well.

 

And, after the angels had spent much time exploring the new realm, plans began for the building of the new keeps.  Father had designated the sites they were to build at, and had given them the basic ideas for the keeps – leaving the ultimate design to each keep overseer.  Each keep would take a number of years to build, but that was as it should be.  In the meantime, the new cherubim were to live in the various gardens scattered throughout the realm, feeding off the provisions given from the various fruit tress and vegetables from the ground.

 

Semyaza, as became obvious to all, quickly assumed a mantle of leadership amongst his Cherubim brothers and sisters.  He gathered around him a number of loyal followers, angels who looked up to him and respected him as their eldest brother  A group of them soon formed within the Cherubim community who had the most influence on the whole.  Angels such as Urakiba, Ramiel and Kokabiel and a number of others rose up as leaders amongst them.  They had much say in what the Cherubim did from day to day, exerting a strong influence on those around them.

 

Relationships between the two communities of angels was, at first, very strong.  The young Cherubim looked up to the Seraphim as their older siblings.  They went to them with many questions, and sought guidance from them.  This was given with a ready willingness, each of the Seraphim pleased and quite happy to share the wisdom they had gained from their experiences of life. 

 

However, as time passed, this diminished a little.  What was perhaps a nurturing period came to an end, and the Cherubim seemed to form a distinctive identity and community of their own, happy to work out their problems in life for themselves.  This was as it should be, so their Father told them  As Michael had become aware of this, he had become anxious.  Concerned that their new younger brothers seemed, to a degree, separate.  However, after many conversations with Father, his fears had been dispelled.  They were, God had said, all angels and all his children.  And being as such, they were one.  But the Seraphim were his firstborn, and the Cherubim his second - and their being two distinctive communities God said was quite natural.  Nothing to be alarmed about in any way.  Time, he said, would work all things out.  Michael had accepted this, trusting his God.  Time, he supposed, would work all things out.  Time would tell of what would be.



Chapter Ten – Dameriel's Dilemma

Dameriel was a gentle angel. He did his work in Glimmersphon keep with happiness and peace. He enjoyed the company of his twin Florel a great deal, and she would visit him at Glimmersphon, and they would have tea and scones, and talk of the way the Realm of Eternity had become an interesting place to live in with the new outer disc of Terraphora formed just recently, and all the excitement of the new Cherubim community.

'Saruviel is not my cup of tea these days, Dammie,' said Florel. 'He's on a mission. I can tell. He's on a mission.'

'A mission from God?' queried Dameriel.

'Who is to say,' replied Florel. 'I think the mission from the plans of God lies deeply rooted in the centre of our beings, and that while destiny might have its say, that is all entertainment in the end, and the we are who we are.'

'Or who we choose to be,' replied Dameriel. 'What we master our gravity thereon.'

'You and your theology,' replied Florel. 'We can't be anything in all our self makings we aren't already created to be, and what we choose to be is only from the inspiration of the ideas around us anyway. There's nothing new under the sun dear brother.'

'I beg to differ,' replied Dameriel. 'Your smile is new to me every time I see it.'

Florel blushed. 'You are too kind, dear brother. Is Saruviel staying again tonight?'

'Yes. He has contemplations to contemplate yet again. He says these days he has found a peace in a truth he knows is a truth, and it is shadowy and dark, he says, but comforting none the less.'

'I fear for him,' she replied, sipping on her tea.'

'Life will go on, much as it has done this past age, the Age of the Seraphim. The Age of the Cherubim will be new, with new innovation and meaning and understanding, but life will inevitably, inexorably and eternally, dear Florel, go on.'

'I suppose so,' she replied.

'Yo bro,' said Valandriel, coming into the room. 'That was a good night's sleep.'

'Your up at last,' said Florel, to her brother Seraphim Valandriel. 'Will Elsabel be down any time soon?'

'I dare say. Look, I have to meet with Daniel later on in the day, something to chat about with a new idea, but I will be back for evening meal,' said Valandriel.

'Good to hear,' replied Valandriel. 'Say hello to Daniel for me.'

'Do we have crumpets for breakfast?' asked Valandriel.

'I'll see to that,' replied Dameriel, and got to his feet, leaving to the kitchen.

He got to toasting the crumpets, and sat down on a kitchen chair, looking at the wall. This was life. It was something which he had been thinking about recently. All the endless contemplations of Saruviel seemed to have that effect on Dameriel. Considering his own quiet philosophy on the meaning of it all, one thing he knew to be true, as Gloryel would endlessly affirm. Don't take life TOO seriously. Learn to relax and be yourself, and if you must, rise above and be a light to the world, and impact it in the way which brings what you desire to see accomplished, accomplished. And he knew in his heart you couldn't con people, so he choose to be real and true and honest, and set an example, instead of a compass of dialogue of persuasion. Quiet and mild, and that spoke the words he wanted heard.

The crumpet had cooked in the oven, and he had them buttered, and put jam upon them, and came back out to the dining room.

'They look good,' said Valandriel, who had poured himself a cup of tea. 'Anyway, as I was saying to Florel, have you noticed anything different about Saruviel recently. He seems to have these new ideas, ideas which seem to challenge some of our conventions. He is staying with you at the moment, so I just wondered.'

'Saruviel is a law unto himself,' replied Dameriel. 'And that is his newly appointed roles, as we all know, so expect just that Valandriel. Why would he not be who he was?'

'Why indeed,' replied Valandriel.

The day passed, and Valandriel left off to Zaphon to see Daniel, leaving Dameriel with his usual chores, and a quiet afternoon. Late in the day Valandriel hadn't returned yet, and he was inside, when a knock came to the front door. He went and opened the door, and a Cherubim angel stood there.

'Hello, dear brother. Can I help you?' asked Dameriel.

'I am Cyril the Cherubim,' replied the Angel. 'The 241st of the Cherubim Angels. I have come to inquire if you have room for the evening.'

'I recall your name from studying the list,' said Dameriel. 'Of course we have room for you. Come in Cyril, come in.'

Cyril came into the main room of Glimmersphon, and Dameriel indicated he sign his name in the guest registry, and showed him to his room.

'Dinner will be in a few hours. There is running water, which we get from Golden Lake, naturally, and the heater is working, so we have hot water. Dinner is just after dark, around twilight. A couple of hours from now,' said Damriel. 'Come down when you are ready.' And he left the Cherubim angel, and returned to his work. Shortly there was another knock at the door. 3 female cherubim angels stood there.

'I'm Andrea,' said one. 'I'm Sharon,' said another. 'I'm Caroline,' said the third.

'You are definitely cherubim sisters,' said Dameriel politely. 'A strong resemblance of each other.'

'One after the other on the pecking list,' said Sharon.

'We formed a tryptych,' said Caroline.'

'Ain't life grand,' said Andrea. 'Do you have room for the night.'

'Yes, we can accommodate you,' said Dameriel. 'I had expected another quiet night, but now that is already four new guests, and I'm starting to fill up.'

'Cherubim Jim will be coming along too soon,' said Caroline.

'You better fit him in,' said Sharon.

'He's sensitive,' finished Andrea.

'We have room for Jim,' replied Dameriel.

Dameriel showed them to their rooms, and smiled later at life's ironies. It never rained but it poured. When the third knock came he expected the said Jim, but it was a female Cherubim.

'I'm the Cherubim Mary. Is my twin Cyril here?' she asked.

'He is indeed,' said Dameriel. Mary pushed past him, and sat down on a couch, and pulled out her knitting.

Dameriel left her be. She seemed to know her own mind.

Soon Jim arrived, Valandriel returned, and it was a full house, as he laboured in the kitchen. Dinner came, and the dining table was full. And that's when Saruviel walked in.

'What the fu...?' queried Saruviel, as he walked through the door.

'We have guests,' said Dameriel, looking softly at his Seraphim brother.

'Obviously,' replied Saruviel, and sat down at the other end of the table.

'Don't forget to say grace,' said Mary at Saruviel. He glared back in response.

'You're the dread Lord Saruviel, ain't ya,' said Andrea.

Saruviel glared at her also.

'The Angel of Adversity,' said Jim, somewhat dramatically, ladling out for himself some more soup.

'It is my work and my mission,' replied Saruviel. 'And I take it seriously, Cherubim,' he replied somewhat heatedly. 'How long will these – guests – be staying?' Saruviel asked, with a very upset look in his eyes, to Dameriel.

'He's sensitive,' said Sharon. 'Can't cope with company.'

'He's probably just shy,' said Caroline.

'I think he's up himself,' said Mary.

'Mary, don't say that,' said Cyril.

'Get stuffed,' Saruviel said to Mary.

'The dread lord Saruviel can't hack it,' said Andrea. 'And we were told he was tough stuff.' The room started giggling.

'Unbelievable,' said Saruviel, and stood and left the room in a huff.

'We'll save you some dinner,' shouted Andrea, at the departing Saruviel.

'Some guys, sheesh. Sensitive,' said Sharon.

Valandriel, slowly, turned to Dameriel, and looked at him.

'I know,' replied Dameriel softly. 'They're new, ok. They're new.'

'You could say that,' replied Valandriel, shaking his head.


The following day Dameriel was busy again, at the front desk of the Keep, when the door opened and an angel entered. Dameriel was busy with his notes, and didn't look up right away, but the angel interrupted him anyway.

'Do you cook the new Italian style?' asked the Cherubim angel.

'We're full,' replied Dameriel, now looking up at his guest, a vaguely familiar looking Cherubim angel.

'I'm John,' said the Angel. 'Cherubim angel John.'

'Sorry, John. We are full.'

'So you cook the new Italian style. And me and the band will sleep in tents in front of the lake. We just want to eat here at evenings.'

Dameriel looked. 'Yes, sure. Ok. I'll make spaghetti and langwah.'

'Sounds great,' said John. 'Alec, Tico, Richie and Dave will be joining me for dinner tonight. We're cherubim musicians.'

'Oh, I've heard of you. You're the Bon Jovi band, aren't you. Gabriel enjoys your music. He mentioned yourselves to me.'

'That we are,' replied John. 'The Corrs are staying here at the moment, I heard.'

Dameriel looked at the Cherubim, with a puzzled look on his face. 'The Corrs?'

'Andrea, Sharon, Caroline and Jim. They do Irish music.'

'Yes, the new forming culture stuff,' replied Dameriel. 'Yes, they are here.'

'Sound's great,' said John. 'We'll hang.'

'Welcome to Glimmersphon John. A pleasure to meet a new brother.'

'The pleasure is all mine,' replied John the Cherubim.

It took 3 days, and Dameriel, who had noticed a few others starting to hang around in tents with the Bon Jovi boys came out one morning, and gasped. Hundreds, possibly thousands of tents, and Cherubim angels everywhere, many playing in the lake in the morning heat, and singing and dancing. He spied the popular Jesus the Cherubim, who was speaking to a lot of people, standing on a table, and doing his thing. Apparently he fancied himself a teacher of sorts.

'Wonderful,' Dameriel thought to himself, looking at the spectacle. He noticed a banner. 'Golden Lake Festival.'

Coming back inside Florel took him aside.

'A festival?' she asked him. 'Why do they want a festival here?'

'I have no idea whatsover,' replied Dameriel, but I sense it was probably planned a while ago.'

'Then Saruviel will get no rest,' she said, grinning a little.

'I doubt he'll stay long,' replied Dameriel. But he was wrong. Saruviel came down to dinner that evening, and was ignoring the noise from outside.

'Don't mind the carrying on,' said Mary. 'It's a special cherubim time. We're having a celebration.'

'Fascinating,' replied Saruviel dryly.

'Your welcome to join in,' said Caroline.

'If your not too shy,' said Sharon.

Saruviel again glared at the cherubim females, and then started eating his meal. 'I'll think about it,' he said softly after a few moments.

Dameriel tilted his head a little at that. It wasn't Saruviel. It was not some thing he would do. It was very surprising. But as the days turned to weeks, Saruviel seemed to be involving himself with the goings on of the festival, and Dameriel noticed him having a debate with Jesus the Cherubim one afternoon, with a huge crowd watching them both. And it was very strange. He actually seemed to be enjoying himself. The dark lord was finding who he was in a new way, it seemed, to Dameriel. A community with a different sort of spirit, a spirit which Saruviel actually could relate to. Very weird, the Seraphim Dameriel thought to himself that night, and drifted off to sleep, the noise of the partying steadily dying down as slumber took over.


All good things come to an end, and the festival died down after a few weeks, leaving the original crew which had shown up hanging around, then the Bon Jovi boys disappeared, and life was mostly back to normal when the Corrs band left. But Cyril and Mary remained, and Saruviel seemed to have settled somewhat.

'You've found yourself, haven't you,' said Mary.

Saruviel didn't comment initially, then looked at her. 'What is that supposed to mean?'

'You like our community. The Cherubim do something for you that the Seraphim don't. We know all about you Saruviel. You are a major focus for Jesus.'

'The healer, as they call him,' replied Saruviel. 'A minister of the soul.'

'He has a special calling,' said Mary. 'He has growing influence in the Cherubim community.'

'He speaks words which resonate with many,' said Cyril.

'Quite obviously. I am Seraphim,' said Saruviel. 'And that will not change,' he said firmly, and stood, smiled at the breakfast table, and left the room.'

'He seemed to have found something in you all,' said Valandriel, eating his crumpets.

'He'll challenge you all, though. In the end,' said Florel.

'Undoubtedly,' replied Elsabel.

Dameriel considered what was being said. Saruviel. Quite a fascination with him by the Cherubim community, especially from Jesus. He sensed some deep plan might be going on with God, perhaps Saruviel was getting answers to his dilemma, perhaps God was doing his ministry and answering Saruviel's questions.

'If you don't mind, we'll be staying a while,' Cyril said to Dameriel.

'Your company will be appreciated,' said Dameriel.

'We have some reasonable holiday time built up,' said Cyril. 'Mary and I have worked hard for many years now, and Semyaza got approval for us to have a bit of a break from our work responsibilities.'

'It will be our pleasure to look after you,' replied Dameriel.

Later in the day Florel was sitting with her twin.

'These here are busy days. Not quite what we are used to, are they?' she said to her twin.

'The Cherubim community have brought new life. We can't expect things to be like they were before. It was our time, innocent days, but life moves on Florrie. So we move with the times.'

'That we do,' replied Florel.


The following morning it was a busy breakfast table again, and Kantriel had joined them. Breakfast. Toast, coffee, and cereal. Kantriel was happy with all that, and the others seemed happy enough to be presenced by Saruviel's closest friend. But it was discussion of the Saruviel Paradox which was going on that morning, and while breakfast was a delight, the opportunity to share his views excited Kantriel even more.

'Why do you want to be so free?' Cyril asked the older Seraphim.

'It's a philosophy we've been thinking through,' replied Kantriel to his younger Cherubim brother. 'And I think its something I believe in somewhat. It's the heart of Saruviel's dilemma, and he's shared it with me, but its something I saw my own truth hinged upon as well, should you suggest I'm a stooge of my older brother. Daraqel largely runs with what we envision, but has his convictions also. It's a right we have. Has angels.'

'A right for what?' asked Cyril.

'To do as WE please,' replied Kantriel. 'Because its OUR life to live. Not God's. It's OUR life.'

Cyril nodded, and sipped on his tea.

'Our life needs guidance. Torah does that,' said Kantriel. 'We mustn't ever assume we have all the answers. We don't,' said Valandriel.

'But its up to us to find those answers for ourselves,' replied Kantriel.

'The Cherubim Torah gives us Cherubim all the answers we need. But I do like what Jesus teaches as well,' said Mary. 'He's an inspiring angel.'

'Fascinating,' said Kantriel. 'Jesus the Cherubim. Think's he special.'

'Oh, he's not special. He's a servant of God,' said Mary. 'His feet are firmly planted on solid ground. He's no dreamer.'

'Freedom is no dream,' replied Kantriel, bringing back the conversation to the subject he wanted to talk about. 'And it should be for all who want liberation.'

'Liberation from what?' asked Cyril.

'God,' said Kantriel honestly. There was silence for a bit.

'God,' said Cyril softly to himself. 'Not sure about that. We all need God.'

'Saruviel is a madman if that is what he thinks,' said Mary. 'It goes against what we are all about as angels. It's opposing to the truth. I guess it is exactly as I said. He's up himself, and his role has gone to his head. He's lost focus. He's lost his grounding. I've heard all about this. So many of the Cherubim get excited over the new things, and go off doo lally, and don't even do their work and responsibilities properly. A glorious adventure of life and its possibilities, and so much of some peoples teachings, that they don't live in the real world terribly much. Life is about work and serving God and being loving to our fellow angelkind. Doing it all our own way? That will, well, it will only lead to confusion in the end. It's not wise. And its certainly not the sound instruction God has given us.'

'I think I might agree with that,' commented Valandriel.

Kantriel looked at the table. 'What do you say Dameriel?' Kantriel asked, looking at the silent angel.

'I think its time I cleaned up this table,' he said. 'As you all look about finished.'

'Humph,' replied Kantriel, but said nothing more as Dameriel gathered plates, leaving the guests of Glimmersphon keep to go off to their days activities.

Later that evening Florel was speaking with Dameriel in the kitchen, as they were cleaning things up.

'Do you want to be free?' Florel asked Dameriel.

'I have all the freedom I need,' replied the angel.

'Then Kantriel's wisdom doesn't inspire?' she asked.

'They may have given it much thought, but aspects of truth are missing from their philosophy,' replied Dameriel. 'We have freedom already. But Torah guides us to exercise it with sensible restraint. If we remain calm when things come to tempt us to be dreamers, as was said, we think through the issue at hand more carefully, give it time, and realize it's passion. And not the kind of passion that gives life its memories, but silly passions, especially of love games I often see among the Cherubim. Saruviel's passion is some sort of new vision for our world. But I trust in God's vision, who plans things with the greatest of forethought.'

'Perchance our brother has wandered down pathways of knowledge which God has yet to traverse,' replied Florel.

'And perhaps God knows the end of all pathways,' replied Dameriel.

'Yes,' said Florel softly. 'Perhaps he does.'

'Are you tired? I know its late, but the kitchen table cloths really need washing,' asked Dameriel.

'I'll get to them now,' replied Florel.

'Thank you so much for spending this time here and helping me with my work,' said Dameriel. 'It has never been so busy, and I've had my hands full. I am sure it will all calm down soon enough.'

'For you it is a work I'd always do,' said Florel, and left off to gather the table cloths from the dining room, to take them to the laundry.

Dameriel finished putting away the cutlery into the drawers, and began sweeping the floor. A busy day yet again, and Kantriel was company, with Cyril and Mary and Valandriel and Saruviel. The person he enjoyed most, though, was quiet Cyril, who sat dranking tea, and reading quietly in the living room each day, who spoke gently, and was always polite. He was quite calm as an angel, and a very good example of what a Cherubim angel should be all about. He was very pleased to have such company. His twin, Mary. She had a way about her. Wise in her own way, and quick with her tongue at times. She certainly kept Saruviel in check. Lively times at Glimmersphon Keep, out of the usual in most respects, but pleasant enough, and something of a change. He continued sweeping, and eventually left off to the laundry, finishing off the work with Florel, before climbing the stairs to his bedroom at the end of another long and active day at Glimmersphon Keep on the shores of Golden Lake.

 



PART TWO

SEDUCTION



Chapter Eleven – Rise of the Cherubim

 

And time passed in the realm of eternity.  Centuries came and centuries went.  And as each year passed by more and more of the Cherubim came to be.  At first, their numbers had come forth slowly.  But as the years went by more and more children of God came forth, each greeted by their brethren in the throne room of Zaphon.   And, over time due to the great numbers of them, many coming forth to life in the other throne rooms of the other major keeps.  As Semyaza, the oldest of the Cherubim, reached his six hundredth year, nearly all of his cherubim brethren had been birthed.  Throughout the following century the remainder did come forth, with the last of all, young Jalaydiel, being born on the birthday of Semyaza’s 700th year.  Such were the ways of God.

 

And the realm was settled.  Keeps, homes and buildings of all kind came to be throughout the realm.  For Michael, who had seen the building of the realm from its beginning, it was a glorious thing to be able to witness the grand expansion.  It gave him, he felt, such a larger home to enjoy and be part of.  Ambriel likewise shared his joy, and as the years came and went the fellowship they enjoyed with the vast number of brethren gave a quiet joy to Michael’s heart.  And he was not alone in that.  Having spoken with most of his Seraphim brethren, it seemed that the initial fears of new brethren had been forgotten, being replaced by an overwhelming sense of happiness.  Father’s decision to enlarge their realm had been deemed wise indeed.  By most anyway.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Pelnaphon was, so Michael thought, a rather elaborate keep.  Its design and layout was bold, original really.  Its architects, chiefly Mistrel and Elenniel, with the guidance of Uriel, had sought something different  They had sought a vision of a place unique in design amongst the various keeps built around the realm of eternity.  A place that, so they said and hoped, would reflect both the energy and passion of those working and studying there; and be a source of inspiration and delight for its many visitors.  In many ways Michael felt that they had achieved their ambition.  Pelnaphon was indeed unique, no other keep being quite like it.  Bricks and stonework of various shades were used in various patterns and designs all throughout the keep.  Woodwork of unique style in its engravings covered the walls and floors, some in enigmatic patterns, the purpose of which being lost to Michael.  The keep also sat in a quite different way amongst its surroundings.  From a distance it seemed to sit quite comfortably nestled at the base of the hills of the Geldurra ranges.  But as one drew closer, and as its designs were made out, it seemed to stand out from its surroundings, as if making a bold self statement of both its existence and importance.  Such were the initial impressions Michael had received of it anyway.

 

Uriel, of course, oversaw the running of the keep.  To many of the brethren Uriel had been somewhat of a surprise choice.  He was an angel who had been without any position of real authority in the early years, despite being the fourth oldest of the Seraphim males.  Many had felt that Mistrel would have been the more logical choice, he being the one who had overseen most of the artistic ventures of the angels since their youth.  But no, God had chosen the Uriel, perhaps seeing something in him that the other angels were yet to be made aware of. 

 

Michael felt that he perhaps had some insight into his Father’s reasonings.  Mistrel was indeed the premier angel in all artistic knowledge and understanding.  But they, perhaps, were his strengths.  The running of a keep, the administration and management of its everyday affairs, was perhaps something not completely within Mistrel’s makeup. He was an artistic scholar in the first instance; not an administrator.  Uriel, on the other hand, was someone who Michael saw perhaps fit for the position.  He was, from what Michael had seen of him, a  passionate angel.  He had a passion for life, and a very strong passion to seek the best within himself.  It was something that seemed to drive him.  He had a very strong competitive streak, resulting in a need to constantly improve and be the best that he could be.  They were, Michael felt, necessary qualities in those who were to lead.  Not necessarily as excessive in nature as Uriel portrayed, but necessary qualities nonetheless.  And, Uriel, from what Michael had learned, had something of a love of the arts.  He wrote poems, a number of which Michael had recently heard, and from his judgement seemed quite good.  That love, coupled with his drive and now apparent skill in being able to handle people saw him as a very sensible choice indeed in the running of Pelnaphon.  And, of course, his  birthright of fourth from Michael, it would seem, afforded him the privilege of responsibility that had been given to him.  His Father’s choice had proved in the end, to Michael, wise indeed.

 

It really is quite original, don’t you think, Michael?’  Michael stood looking at the picture on the wall, thinking on his brother Ambriel’s comment.  ‘Yes, I would say you’re right.  I don’t really think that I have seen anything quite like it before.’  The work in question was a painting on canvas, one amongst a number filling the walls of a long hall in Pelnaphon keep.  The painting was of a typical scene, one of the new smaller keeps situated next to a lake with trees all around.  What made the painting unique, though, was the different style in which it was painted.  The crisp clear lining outlining objects making a picture discernible which marked so many of the paintings they had seen was noticeably absent, the picture rather being distinguishable by the differing shades used to colour the various objects.   Almost a blurred image – but one which had a distinctive style associated with it.

 

Elenniel, who had been guiding them around the various sites of Pelnaphon, smiled at her two brothers’ curiosity.  ‘This is a rather new painting we have put up recently.  A young female cherubim named Shelandragh is the artist responsible.  Apparently, so she said, she was looking to do something a little different.  I think you would agree it is certainly that.  We all thought so, so we put it up for all to see.’

 

Michael continued looking at the picture, wondrous at how each piece of scenery seemed to mould into that around it – yet remain discernibly its own object.  ‘Yes, it’s definitely different.  But what was it that captivated her to something so new.  It is really quite unlike the others we have seen.’  ‘Shelandragh is an uncommon artist, I would say.  She is certainly talented but does not always use that talent in a way you would expect.  I think, from what I have seen of her other work, that originality is something that she strives for.’  ‘It does look like that,’ agreed Ambriel.  ‘As Michael said, so unlike the other works.’  ‘Yes, I would agree,’ replied Elenniel.  ‘She is someone, I think, to keep our eye upon.  Other works of promise, I do expect from her.’

 

The three of them continued that afternoon, gradually working their way around the various artistic rooms and other sites that filled the keep of Pelnaphon.  The work of his brethren impressed Michael. He himself had little in the way of artistic desire, but did appreciate those talents and skills in that of his fellow brethren.  They brought to life images familiar to his own life, many in unique and captivating ways.  And as he has become familiar over the years with different styles that various angels employed, he grew to appreciate that diversity, and appreciate the ever-growing skill with which those works were created.

 

It was, from what Michael had seen, one of the true advantages that knowledge and education of that knowledge brought.  It seemed to him that each successive generation took in knowledge of previous ones and, building upon that, added their own distinctive wealth of styles and understanding, leading to an ever-expanding pool of wisdom on the subject.  It was something, in his now growing number of years, that he had seen not only in the field of artistic endeavour, but in other areas as well.

 

Even in his own work he had noticed that, as time passed, he grew more and more in understanding in both how to undertake the tasks presented to him, and the purpose those tasks served, with a growing knowledge of how all the work he undertook fitted into what he called the ‘bigger picture’.  And, of course, in other areas of knowledge in which the angels had delved into, such as greater spiritual awareness, and a growing knowledge into the scientific understanding of their realm, knowledge and the teaching of it had assisted the angels in ways too many to count.  It was certainly, as torah taught, something to be prized and valued.

 

The purpose it serves?’  replied Elenniel, restating Ambriel’s question.  ‘Well, many purposes, I think; much that is provides.  I would say that art, perhaps in its first instance, is something from which pleasure is gained.  Both from those who produce whatever work it is, and from those who look upon and appreciate it.  It is something from which great joy can be derived; something that can captivate the soul of the artist as they work to bring forth something from their inspiration.  And, as the artist hopes, something that will bring pleasure to, and maybe even inspire those who look upon and receive their work.  That is perhaps the main purpose for which art serves us.  But I would say that there are more, I guess, benefits than that which art brings.  For many of us here at Pelnaphon, the work which we do is a way of expressing ourselves.  It expresses or relates to others those things that we have seen in our lives, and we want to reproduce in some form, perhaps in the way that we appreciate it ourselves.  By that I mean the way we may personally appreciate a particular subject, and the distinctive way in which we reproduce that, expressing meanings and ideas that we see in it.  In other words, a new way of looking at something that we see everyday; in a way that reflects the artist’s impressions about that particular object.  as I said, it’s a way of expressing ourselves - our own particular thoughts and feelings about something. 

 

Expressionism’ is the term Mistrel uses to describe this type or style of work.  It’s certainly something many of our artists try to incorporate into their work..’  Elenniel paused, thinking on her next words.  ‘Of course, that is perhaps something more appreciated by those artistically minded.  Many of the brethren don’t always understand the complexities in style that a particular work is trying to express.  Still it is something we as artists often aim at in our work.  Something that we certainly find satisfying.  And of course Ambriel, a major benefit of art is simply in the decorative purposes in which it serves.  A most obvious point, really.’  Ambriel nodded, having largely taken in what his sister had shared with him.  Michael spoke up, having listened intently. ‘Expressionism, you say?  I don’t think I have heard of that term before.  But I think I understand what you are saying.  The artists way of expressing their feelings about they are working on and putting that into the work, I guess.’  ‘Exactly,’ agreed Elenniel.  ‘Precisely what it means.’

 

They continued late that afternoon talking widely on much of the artistic activities of Pelnaphon.  Elenniel, understandably, was greatly knowledgeable on the subject, teaching them many things unknown to them.  She, of course, had pursued an artistic life since she was very young.  And her depth of knowledge and understanding reflected that. 

 

It does look to be getting late,’ said Elenniel, noting the failing daylight shining through the windows of the workshop they were in.  ‘Dinner is quite soon.  Perhaps it would be best if we finished our tour here.  I’m sure you will probably want to leave early in the morning, knowing how busy you normally are.’  ‘Yes, it is getting late,’ agreed Michael, noting the time of day.  ‘Well I would certainly like to thank you for a truly educational afternoon Elenniel.  I’m sure myself and Ambriel have learnt a great deal.’  ‘Much’, agreed Ambriel, a smile on his face.’  ‘Well that is good,’ said Elenniel, pleased at her two brother’s genuine curiosity that they had shown that afternoon.

 

Later that night Michael reflected on the past few days he had spent at Pelnaphon.  The work objectives he had set himself for his visit had, so he felt, been generally achieved.  Early in his visit he had spent most of his time with Uriel, discussing the various administrative matters that affected them both.  They had been fruitful discussions, giving Michael a firm understanding on how Uriel had been undertaking his responsibilities, and the things he had achieved.  As Michael had noticed more and more throughout the years in which his young brother had been overseeing the affairs of Pelnaphon, he brought an ever-growing professionalism to his work.  A work ethic that Michael admired, and a dedication that even encouraged Michael to persevere in his own responsibilities.  For his young brother he was truly grateful.  And the rest of the visit he had enjoyed. Ambriel, as always, had proved good company throughout.  And he had especially taken quiet pleasure in the time he had spent with Elenniel.  Elenniel, although they spent time together infrequently, was someone Michael was greatly fond of. He had a place hidden in his heart that he reserved just for her.  She was his sister, yet he perhaps loved her with a love deeper than that which he displayed towards his other female siblings.  And it was a love that had grown over the many centuries in which he had known her.  She displayed that grace and serenity seemingly so natural in that of his sisters.   But Elenniel had a calmness in her heart, an inner strength that seemed to radiate outwards, one that those around her felt and drew comfort from.  It was something that Michael admired in her.  And she was, so Michael thought, quite beautiful.  And that beauty he had noticed silently, unobtrusively watching her at work just yesterday, marvelling at the effortless grace and skill with which she undertook all she did.  There was in his heart a strong love for his Father’s eldest daughter, a love he did not doubt would be there throughout the many years ahead.  Many other thoughts went through Michael’s mind, as he lay there on his bed reflecting over things, slowly drifting towards a place of sleep.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Rophiel sat in the small upper library of Mitraphon keep, studying the just finished text his younger brother Davriel had written.  The text was the result of many long years of study, the fruit of much inquiry and patient thought.  And, from the early impressions that Rophiel had received, a product of scholastic excellence.  That was not surprising knowing Davriel.  He was the head librarian at Terraphon, as he had been at Zaphon, and he brought to his work a great depth of skill and knowledge; and, so Rophiel thought, a clear and lucid understanding on the issues involved.  It was something that Rophiel, ever-desiring to enhance his own knowledge and understanding, truly appreciated.

 

The work itself was also of great relevance to Rophiel.  Entitled ‘Torah and life’, it was an examination of the teachings of torah and how they impacted upon every day life. Davriel called the work a commentary, an analysis and exposition of that which Torah taught.  For Rophiel it was a fascinating work.  It elucidated principles that he was well familiar with, yet described them with an insight clearly original.  Further, it had an understanding that only came from someone with genuine interest and knowledge of the subjects; and expressed that knowledge in a way that was both captivating and, in some ways, confronting.  It made Rophiel think not only of how Torah did impact upon his life, but the way he himself allowed it to.  It brought to his mind his own dedication to the Torahic way of life, and perhaps softly challenged him to question how serious that dedication was.  It was certainly a work for Rophiel to read with careful examination, and likely numerous readings.

 

One particular passage had particularly caught Rophiel’s attention.  it read:

 

                                               

We are, all of us, children of a living God.   As Torah says, he is a god of eternal life.  Yet we know that this life is in us as well.  A question this brings is how alive are you to the spirit of life God has placed within you. Are you truly living the life you are capable of - in all its fullness, its wonder, its vibrancy.  Are you truly alive to the God who gave that life to you?.

 

The passage went on, further examining the subject, but it was that introduction that Rophiel found absorbing.  Was he truly alive?  Did he have that sense of wonder that Davriel spoke of?  He liked to think that, in some ways, perhaps he did.  But still, was he living a life in all the fullness that he could be?  Was he measuring up to his Father’s expectations?  Whatever else, it was a question that Rophiel would give thought to, as he would to much that Davriel spoke of in his work.

 

Of course, the text was relevant to Rophiel for other reasons.  He oversaw Mitraphon’s small but growing library of spiritual works.  Mitraphon, of course, was the keep devoted to spiritual education and nurturing.  Raphael oversaw the running of the keep, a task he did with great devotion as well as skill.  And whilst most of the teaching of the keep took place through counselling and personal mentoring, an approach Raphael greatly favoured, there was still a place for scholastic works, both to be studied and housed.  And that responsibility had been given to Rophiel.  The library was small, but important nonetheless.  It of course housed the Torah, both that of the Seraphim, and the now voluminous and ever-growing edifice of Cherubim wisdom.  And to that library were added a small number of spiritual tomes that had been written by various angels over the years.  Yet it was Davriel’s new work that Rophiel had welcomed with gladness.  It would be, so Rophiel thought, a popular edition.  One that he looked forward to both sharing and discussing with those he welcomed to his small study hall.

 

Looking up at the candle that lit his desk he noticed that much of the wax had now melted.  Time had got away from him.  So absorbed he had been in his studies that he had not noticed the gradually passing night.  It would now be late indeed.  Time for bed.  Although the work in front of him had a strong pull, it would have to wait.  Each morning he taught a small class, and his faithfulness to that was important to Rophiel.  Being late or missing the class through having stayed up too late was simply not acceptable to him.  His students needed him fresh and alert.  Rising from the desk he took the text and placed it in a well-crafted bookcase running along the wall of the library.  Its temporary home.  He retuned to his desk, took the candle, and started the short trip to his dormitory.  Walking along he thought on the new work.  Davriel had studied for many years, and the book was the fruit of that.  It had been a labour of love, Davriel had said to him.  One that he had felt both inspired to write and, in some ways, obligated to.  He needed, so he had said, to express those ideas he had on Torah, and the written text he had just completed was the ideal medium.  He hoped it would allow others time to think on what he said and, hopefully, formulate their own perspectives on the issues expressed.  Certainly, for Rophiel, its immediate impact was achieving that.  So much so that it had made him think of one day writing his own work of like kind.  Perhaps he would one day, Rophiel thought to himself, as he made his way along the dimly-lit upper hall of Mitraphon keep, heading for his dormitory.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Shemrael, in her many years of spiritual ministry, had experienced much.  Many hearts she had nurtured, encouraged, reproved and, most importantly, loved.  From the earliest days of her work under Raphael’s tutelage she had learned the fine art of not only friendship towards her brethren, but that of counsellor, advisor and mentor.  It was demanding work, often challenging, yet at the same time rewarding.  And it was a work that consumed her life, a work that seemingly became her life.  In truth, it seemed to be the work that defined her existence, what gave her life meaning.  So she often felt anyway.

 

What she had learned over that time had come from both the instruction and guidance of her colleagues, Raphael, Loquiel, Ambriel and Yasminael, and the resulting wisdom gained from much practice.  That practice had begun and had been shaped by her life at Zaphon, were under Raphael she had ministered to her Seraphim brothers and sisters.  They had been important years in her training, years she now appreciated, especially given her new position.  As the senior spiritual counsellor and advisor for Romnaphon keep those skills she had been taught from a young age were used each day, valued by her as she ministered and applied her knowledge to the still growing community of her new home.  As well as being important to her, her work was valued by others, or so she had often been told.  Phanuel, Romnaphon’s overseer, expressed on many occasions his gratitude for the work she was doing.  ‘A vital part to our work here at Romnaphon’, he had told her once, mildly embarrassing her.   And others had often expressed thanks for the ministerial work from which they benefited.  It of course encouraged Shemrael, knowing that the work she was dedicated to was both meaningful to herself and others.

 

Of recent, that dedication had been put to the test somewhat.  Whilst she was generally busy at most times, of late her workload had felt like it had increased.  Her immediate assistants, Dorachel, Jenna and Radric, had also voiced similar concerns.  Romnaphon housed many angels, and was a keep strongly devoted to the duties of work.  That work, however, had increased as the years passed with the ever-growing cherubim population throughout the realm.  Because of this the demands on Shemrael had been constant and increasing.  So much so that she was now considering adding another member to their team.  She had shared this idea with Phanuel who had agreed that the idea seemed sensible.  All that really remained was finding a suitable candidate.

 

A young cherubim by the name of Jazrael seemed appropriate for the task.  Jazrael had a strong personality and was extremely good with people.  Dorachel, Jenna and Radric also liked him so he seemed like the ideal choice.  She would probably have words with him soon to discuss the matter.  Hopefully that would be a successful meeting she thought to herself as she continued on with her days activities.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Having returned from Pelnaphon, Michael was anxious to return to his duties.  The break away from home had been good, necessary really, but he was always glad to be back at Zaphon.  Early that morning he’d had breakfast with Ambriel and then gotten to his daily duties.  As he guessed, the work had been piling up.  It seemed that without him life in Zaphon did not always run like clockwork.  In a way that both pleased and displeased him.  It displeased him in as much as he would like things to always run smoothly, yet it pleased him to know he was needed so much.   Cindradel, his personal assistant, had often commented that Zaphon fell apart without him.  Although Michael knew that wasn’t quite true, he had come to realize how much it did depend upon him.  Such was his role, he guessed.

 

Sitting at the desk in his office, he looked over a scroll in front of him.  It was a request from Phindwel, Zaphon’s chief baker, to have extra food supplies shipped from Brephon.  It appeared that Zaphon’s enlarged population due to the ever-increasing number of cherubim, required extra food supplies.  This did not surprise Michael.  Zaphon was the birthplace of many the angels, but not all stayed there, most going to the outer realm.  But a number did stay, and that number had increased over the years.  And increased to such a degree that extra food from the outer realm needed to be called in.  If Phindwel was calling for this, no doubt others soon would be calling on him for extra food supplies.  This was something he would handle personally.  Thinking over the problem he imagined the complexities associated with it.  He would have to arrange new shipping routes from Brephon, and that would not be easy.  Transporting goods around the realm was time-consuming, the angels usually relying on wheel carts for the transportation of goods.  Transporting goods from Brephon would likely take weeks, and be heavy going on the movers.  Perhaps another solution could be found.  He thought on that issue as the morning passed and lunch approached. 



Chapter Twelve – Kantriel the Seraphim

Kantriel loved his brother Saruviel, a great deal.  They had been close friends for centuries.  Saruviel confided in him, shared his deepest secrets.  And Kantriel likewise spoke his own fears to his brother.  It seemed there was little that they did not share with each other.  That was the way it had been for a long time.  At least as long as Kantriel could remember.   But, over the last century or so, that closeness had seemed to perhaps diminish somewhat.  They were still friends - that would never change.  But the closeness that they had once enjoyed had decreased, more so, so Kantriel thought, as the years had passed by.  He had shared this dilemma with his brother Daraqel , who likewise had voiced similar concerns  His perspective was that Saruviel had gradually been closing in on himself.  Keeping people at a distance.  This was, said Daraqel , unhealthy for him, especially considering his exalted position as administrator of Kalphon keep. 

 

The situation reminded Kantriel of the time when they were much younger, living at Zaphon before the cherubim had been created.  At that time also Saruviel had drawn in on himself, keeping people at a distance.  He had been going through changes, so he had said.  That time had come to a close, Saruviel seemingly coming out of it.  But it had changed Saruviel and he had never been quite the same since.  And now, it seemed, he was perhaps going through more difficulties. 

 

Yet this time Saruviel had not come out of it, his isolated ways now being noticed by many.  Still, he was administrator of Kalphon, a job he still undertook with competence.  And if there were any changes he was gong through, he would have to go through them for himself, as he had seemingly spurned all help from his friends.

 

Kantriel thought on these things as he gradually made his way down from the upper level of Kalphon keep, headed for Saruviel’s office.  Saruviel had summoned him to a private meeting, something which had become a rarity over recent years.  Kantriel looked forward to the meeting, always anxious to spend some time with his brother.  Time which had become sparse over recent years.  Saruviel’s office was located near the front entrance of Kalphon keep.  Coming down from the upper dorms, it was a short walk to the front office. 

 

Shortly he came to Saruviel’s door and gave a quick, sharp knock.  After a brief moment, the door opened, Saruviel greeting his brother.  ‘Welcome Kantriel.  Glad you could make it.’  ‘I’ve always got time for you, brother,’ replied Kantriel.  Saruviel waved Kantriel towards a chair and sat down behind his large wooden desk.  ‘Well I’ll get to the point,’ started Saruviel.  ‘As you are probably aware we will be shortly hosting our yearly athletic competitions.  This year we are hoping for a good turnout, with luck matching last year’s numbers.  As you know, the athletic competitions are a good way of testing the various skills and abilities of our brethren.’  ‘Certainly,’ agreed Kantriel.  ‘Yes.  And it is important that those skills be known to help each angel in their day to day lives.  Anyway, why I’ve asked you here is that I have a favour to ask you.  As you know, each year I host the games and am responsible for running the important matters.  Well this year that might change.  I have some personal concerns to see to, and I find myself unable to make the commitment to running the games as usual.  That is why I have asked you here.  I would like to give you the opportunity to replace me as head administrator for the games.  Certainly, it is a challenging job, but I’m sure you are up to it.  Well what do you say?’  Are you interested?; 

 

Kantriel sat silent for a few moments, somewhat surprised at his brother’s request.  Shortly he responded.  ‘Well, like you, I am usually kept busy.  But I am sure that I would be able to manage the running of the events.  I have been associated with them long enough that I have a fair idea of what goes on.  Sure, I’d be glad to take on the responsibility.’  ‘That is good to hear,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘I was sure you would not let me down.’  ‘If you don’t mind me asking,’ queried Kantriel, ‘what personal concerns are keeping you from the events?’  Saruviel eyed his brother before responding. ‘I’m afraid I can’t really say.  Personal, you see.  But they are of sufficient importance to keep me from the games.   For this year anyway.’  ‘Certainly,’ replied Kantriel.  ‘I understand your need for privacy.’  ‘Thank you.’ said Saruviel.  ‘And let me say once again how grateful I am that you have been able to help me out on this matter.  It is a weight off my mind.’  ‘Glad to help,’ said Kantriel.

 

The two of them spoke for some time more, going over various details of the games to be held.  After a while, their discussion drew to a close.  ‘Well, I think that about covers it,’ said Saruviel.  ‘If there is anything else that you need to know, I should be available most nights in the week ahead.’  ‘Noted’, said Kantriel.  ‘Anyway, if you will excuse me, I have some other things I must get to.’  ‘Of course, said Kantriel, rising to his feet.  The two shook hands before Kantriel left the room, closing the door behind him.  As he walked along the corridor, returning to his room, Kantriel thought on what had just occurred.  He was grateful for the opportunity Saruviel had given him.  it was a chance for him to show just what he was capable of.  But his concerns were for his brother Saruviel.  What could it be that was capable of keeping Saruviel from running the games.  Kantriel thought on that as he climbed the stairs, heading for his room.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Later that evening, after he had finished work for the day, Saruviel made his way  from the kitchen, carrying a tray with his meagre dinner meal, and headed towards his quarters.  He was in no mood for socialising tonight, and would eat, as had become the norm, alone in his own room.  In many ways he was glad of his exalted position as Kalphon’s administrator.  It meant that he had the general say in how things were run.  And if it was that he wanted time to himself, then his position afforded him the luxury of being able to claim that.  And time alone, at this stage of his life, is what he needed.

 

Of course it could not last forever.  Eventually he would have to return to full duties, and make more of an effort of interacting socially with his brethren.  But while he could, he would take the time to think about the things which he had been thinking about over the last few years.

 

Actually, thinking about it, it had been quite a number of years that Saruviel had been going through his present malaise.  It had started slowly, but as time had passed, more of his life had been given over to the melancholy of the soul that he had been experiencing.  But that, now, would have to end.  Saruviel had decided that things needed to change - for the better.  He could no longer be the reclusive soul that he had been.  That was why he had arranged with Kantriel to take some time off to resolve the difficulties that he had been going through.

 

Those difficulties he had kept to himself, but now he felt that he could do so no longer.  It would soon be time to act upon them.  Time to share the secrets of his heart with others, and to see how they would react.  But before that, he needed some quiet time along.  Time to resolve finally the questions of his heart.

 

The crux of Saruviel’s problem was really a question of authority.  He was obedient to God, and always followed Michael’s directives.  Ever since his youth, he had realised that he was part of a hierarchy, and had learnt his place in that hierarchy.  Yet that, so Saruviel had slowly started to think over the last number of years, was where the problem lay.  Torah was black and white.  God was supreme, so the Torah taught, and it was up to the angels to accept this and to act accordingly.  And act accordingly they always had, Saruviel being no exception.  He obeyed God, and had long been happy enough to accept that, and to do his Father’s will. 

 

But now, that was perhaps no longer the case.  This thought had been with him for many years now, and had reached a clarity in his mind.  Why should it be, so Saruviel thought, that the angels be ever at their Father’s beckoning.  Why should they be so Torah observant and obedient to the will of God.  Who was to say, so Saruviel had begun to think, that that was the way things should be.

 

At first, he had rejected this line of thinking.  It had bothered him, as he was a child of God and wanted to please his Father.  But as time passed, the thoughts returned, and he had given place to them, letting them go where they would.  Now after many years of this reasoning, he had reached a number of conclusions.  Conclusions which, so Saruviel believed, would lead to consequences.  Both for him, and for those he hoped would share his viewpoints.

 

And that was where Saruviel was at, so to speak, as he entered his room and placed his meal tray on his small eating table.  As he began his meal, Saruviel thought over the weeks ahead.  Shortly, he would be leaving Kalphon for Hendraphon, a small private keep located not far to the south of Kalphon.  There he would resolve once and for all his difficulties.  And from there, who knows.  If he was true to what he believed, there would be consequences.  Yet what those consequences were, Saruviel, as yet, had little idea.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Being the oldest of the cherubim was a responsibility.  It was important for Semyaza to set an example for his younger brethren, to be seen as an upright citizen of the realm.  More than that, Semyaza often felt the pressure of being amongst the younger group of  angels, and did his best in all that he did to try and compensate for that.  However, that expectancy of excellence was not felt by most of his friends, many of them seemingly happy with things the way they were.  They were happy enough to be Cherubim, knowing they had a place in the world.  However Semyaza, perhaps privately envious of his older brethrens esteemed positions, would never be happy with second best in all of his efforts, determined to prove, at least to himself, that the Cherubim were more than, what he had often feared them being called, second-rate citizens.  The reality, Semyaza often reminded himself, was that was simply not the case. 

 

The Seraphim had always welcomed the Cherubim as equals, Michael himself calling them his beloved brethren.  This assuaged Semyaza’s fears somewhat, but still the paranoid feelings remained, provoking him to do the best in all that he undertook.

 

Semyaza’s duties were not unlike Michael’s.  As the Cherubim’s firstborn, God had given Semyaza the responsibility of watching over all of his brethren.  However, unlike Michael, this responsibility was perhaps even greater, there being such a large number of Cherubim.  His main helpers and close friends in overlooking the Cherubim's welfare were mainly the angels Urakiba, Ramiel and Kokabiel.  Each of them was a trusted friend, whom Semyaza relied upon to help him keep Cherubim affairs under control.  The work was often challenging, always interesting, and, for Semyaza, very satisfying.  It gladdened his heart to see his brethren prosper, knowing that he often had a part to play in their success.

 

Today had been no exception.  The annual athletic events held at Kalphon keep had just finished, and the Cherubim had performed exceptionally well.  The events were a good place to test the skills of the various angels that competed, helping each of them to try and achieve a measure of excellence.  A number of Cherubim that Semyaza had personally spoken to had performed particularly well, something which gladdened his heart.  Saruviel himself, who had just returned from a private outing, had commended the Cherubim for their successes.  He had come to Semyaza personally and congratulated  him on the high level of skills that the talented Cherubim had displayed.  Semyaza received the comments gratefully, welcoming his older brother’s praise.

 

Along with those kind words, Saruviel had asked Semyaza to join him that evening after dinner to discuss various things.  Supposedly, Semyaza thought, to go over the success of the events.  So Semyaza thought anyway.  That meeting was to be held shortly, as Semyaza finished his evening meal, commenting to Urakiba on the excellence of the meal.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Saruviel sat in the greater lounge of Kalphon keep, sipping on some Melit water, awaiting his guest.  He had returned from Hendraphon that morning, satisfied with the way things had gone.  Conclusions had been reached.  A number of them.  And those conclusions would mean consequences for him, and for those, if any, who would listen to what he had to say.  Fortunately, for him, Semyaza had been attendant at Kalphon upon his return.  This was a good thing.  Semyaza was chief, amongst a number of others, that Saruviel would have words with.  If he could win Semyaza to his cause, then others would surely follow.  So Saruviel hoped for, anyway.

 

Reflecting upon his time at Hendraphon, Saruviel contemplated what his conclusions, if they were to see action, would bring.  Life in the Realm of Eternity would never be quite the same.  His focus was sure.  As sure as it could be.  To each angel he would bring a choice.  A choice of service.  To be forever in the service of God who created them, or to be given, what Saruviel believed should be their right, the absolute freedom to follow their own destiny.  This thought was clear to Saruviel, lucid in his mind.  He believed that he himself should be the master of his future.  He himself should decide what he was to make of his own life, completely independent, without the interference of their Almighty Father.  This, Saruviel believed, was a right that he should possess.  He was his own person.  He had a right to make his own choices.  And God, whatever he thought of this, would simply have to accept it.  So Saruviel felt anyway.

 

As he sat there, deep in thought, he was oblivious to his younger brother who had entered the room and was standing just to the side of him.  After a short while Semyaza gave a little cough to make his brother aware of his presence.  Saruviel looked up, ‘Oh Semyaza.  Sorry, I hadn’t noticed you.  Lost in thought, I guess.’  Semyaza smiled forgivingly.  ‘Perfectly alright Saruviel.  I’m sure you have a lot on your mind.’   ‘Indeed’, replied Saruviel.  ‘Please, sit,’ said Saruviel, indicating a lounge chair opposite him.  Semyaza took the seat, and looked towards his brother, waiting for him to begin.

 

After a short moment Saruviel began to speak.  ‘Well, thank you for being able to come and see me this evening.  I know how busy you are, and I am sure that you have much to do.’  ‘Nothing that can’t wait,’ replied Semyaza.  ‘Glad to hear that,’ said Saruviel.  ‘Well, let me first say once again what a magnificent performance that the Cherubim have given us this week.  Kantriel has told me how they have excelled themselves at the events, more so than in many years.  ‘Yes, they certainly have,’ replied Semyaza.  ‘It has gladdened me that our talented brothers and sisters were so keen to put on a good display.  It was certainly entertaining watching them in the various pursuits.’  ‘It must have been,’ said Saruviel.  I’m sorry that I missed it.  But, as you know, sometimes these things can’t be helped.’  ‘Sure,’ replied Semyaza.  ‘Still your fill in, Kantriel, did a wonderful job as host.  You can rightly be proud at him.’  ‘I’ll be sure to tell him that.  yes, I trusted Kantriel to do a good job.  He has skills which need to be shown from time to time.  As all the brethren do.’  Saruviel paused, taking a sip of melit water.

 

Anyway, we could talk all night about how the events went, but I have to admit that I have asked you to come here for another reason apart from discussing the games.’  Saruviel paused before continuing.  ‘As you know, we live in a wonderful realm that our God has provided for us.  Each of us has food to eat, and a place to stay.  Kalphon, here, has been my home for a number of years now and, before that, Zaphon.  But such was not always the case.’

 

We Seraphim were brought up in what we call the ‘Garden’.  I’m sure you have heard of it.  It is a small garden that lies just to the south of Zaphon.’  Semyaza nodded, ‘Yes, I have heard of the place.  I don’t believe I have ever been there, but I have heard it discussed by the Seraphim from time to time.’  ‘I’m sure you have,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘Anyway, the Garden was our first home.  It is where Father brought each of us upon our birth, and it is there that we all learned the first lessons of life.  The Garden life was, really, quite idyllic, and quite simple.  We would eat fruit from the trees, and go forth from there, exploring the realm that our Father had created for us.  There were no great pressures of life, and each of us was free to live virtually as we pleased.  Of course, that changed eventually with the building of Zaphon and the other keeps around the realm.’

 

But while it lasted the Garden served as our home, and is an important memory to each of us Seraphim.  Anyway, getting to the point.  The Garden was not only home to us, but to a number of trees as well.  Important trees.  Not to confuse you, I’m not talking about the ordinary fruit trees of various kinds which fed us.  No, there were amongst them a small number of special trees.  Trees which fruit had special properties.’ 

 

Amongst these trees, and perhaps foremost amongst them, is the tree of life.  The tree of life gave us a fruit, a fruit which would invigorate the soul.  Every century, we Seraphim partake of this fruit, a fruit that sustains us and keeps us alive.  Another of the important trees is the tree of peace.  Its fruit gives , as you might suspect, peace to the troubled or anxious soul.  I have tasted this fruit, and you can believe me when I say to you that it brings a peace to the should which has a way of truly soothing all your anxieties.  It certainly aided me at a time in my life when I needed such help.’

 

Saruviel paused briefly before continuing.  ‘And, of course, there is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.’  Semyaza looked at him, the interest on his face apparent.  ‘Tree of knowledge of good and evil, did you say?’  Well I understand what good is, but the word evil is unfamiliar to me.’  ‘Let me explain,’ said Saruviel.  ‘The tree of knowledge of good and evil is, as I said, one of the special trees.  Whilst not forbidden to the brethren to partake of it, Father has made it known that its fruit should only be eaten by the right person at the right time.  His reasoning, as I understand it, is that the fruit gives the partaker special knowledge.  Knowledge that can affect the eater in the most profound way.’  ‘In what ways,’ said Semyaza , whose interest had been aroused.  ‘Well, it gives,’ continued Saruviel, ‘as you might have guessed from its name, the partaker knowledge of both good and evil.’

 

Good, as you probably know, is that in our life which we appreciate and love.  It is those things that appeal to us., and the things that we take joy in.  When eaten, the fruit emphasizes this, and gives the eater greater understanding on why these things are good - an understanding which is from, how shall I say, a moral perspective.  It helps you to know what goodness truly is, and how to appreciate it.’

 

On the other hand, evil is, putting it one way, that which is seemingly the opposite of good.  It is those things which are bad.  Those things which bring pain or anxiety to us.  It is that which is occupied with, shall we say, the darkness in life - the unhappier elements.

 

So, while the fruit gives us understanding on the nature of goodness, it also helps us to understand properly the nature of evil, again from a seemingly moralistic perspective.’  Semyaza nodded, understanding apparent on his face.  ‘I have a question.  has anyone ever partaken of that fruit?’  Saruviel smiled.  I’m actually glad you asked that question, because that is one of things that I really would talk to you about.  The answer is yes - I have partaken of that fruit.  It was when I was much younger, and living in Zaphon.  I had been going through some difficult times, questioning things about life, and in that questioning, finding myself needing some answers.  It was then that I partook of the fruit.  And I am grateful that I did.’

 

What I can say, is that it gave me understanding.  Deeper understanding on life, and perhaps a greater appreciation for it.  And it, eventually, gave answers to my questions.  Understanding good and evil made me appreciate my life, and appreciate the goodness in it.  In essence it helped me find meaning, meaning which I had lacked.’  ‘I’m glad that it helped you,’ said Semyaza.  ‘But didn’t you ever worry about Father’s warning?’  ‘I did keep that in mind,’ said Saruviel.  ‘But the need was great at the time.  And I saw the fruit as the only answer to the longing in my soul.  As it rightly turned out to be.’  Semyaza smiled. ‘I’m glad for you, brother.  Glad that you found the answer you needed.  Saruviel nodded, momentarily looking away, before returning his gaze directly towards his brother.

This is where I have something to ask you.  A favour, you might say, perhaps a great one.  ‘Certainly,’ said Semyaza, looking straight at him.  ‘What is it?’  ‘Well,’ continued Saruviel, ‘since partaking of that fruit those many years ago, I have been given understanding.  Understanding on things which have, at times, challenged me greatly.  And I have come to conclusions.  Many conclusions about life, and how we live here in the realm of eternity.  Those conclusions have left me questioning the way things are in the realm.  And whether those things are really for the best.’  ‘What do you mean?’ asked Semyaza.  ‘Well, continued Saruviel, let me ask you a question.  Who, in your life, do you answer to?  Who is, how shall I say, above you?’  Semyaza thought briefly upon that before answering, ‘Well, Father, of course.  And, to a certain degree, Michael as well.’  ‘And what do you think of that?’ said Saruviel.  ‘What do you mean, what do I think of it?’  ‘Well, continued Saruviel, ‘how does that make you feel.  What is it like having those who are above you, knowing that you have to give an account for everything to them?’

 

A perplexed look came over Semyaza’s face.  ‘I’m not quite sure what you are driving at.  Father is our God - we have always been responsible unto him.’  ‘I know, said Saruviel.  ‘But is that the way things should really be?  Should it be that we are ever at his beckoning?  Should it be that we are to serve him forever?  Why not live as we please?  Why not live free - free from our Father’s lordship over us?  Free to do as we please.  Do you understand what I am saying?’  Semyaza looked at his brother, a mild look of concern on his face. ‘I think I understand what you are saying.  But what I don’t understand is why.  Why would you want to be without Father above you?  Without him as your God?’  ‘He will always be my God, to some degree,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘But it is the type of God that he will be to me that I have concerns about.  Can it not be a God who is my friend – no, my equal.  A God I can share freely my thoughts with, knowing that he is not above me.  A God I am not bonded to.  And why, you ask?  Freedom.  Freedom is why.  The freedom to do as I will.  The freedom to be completely my own person, without someone running my life for me.  That is why Semyaza.’

 

Semyaza looked at him for a short while before speaking.  ‘I’m not sure what to really make of that, Saruviel.  God has always been good to us, and I guess I have always just accepted that he will be my lord.  But I do understand what you are saying. I’m just not really sure what to think of it.’  ‘That’s perfectly fine, said Saruviel.  ‘I guess this is where I have that favour to ask of you.  It is something that you could do for me.  Something that would perhaps give you a greater understanding on what I mean.  It would help you to truly know what it is that I am saying to you.’  ‘What is it?’ said Semyaza, an intent look on his face.  ‘Partake of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.  If you do, you will gain understanding.  An understanding that will help you to appreciate what it is that I am saying to you.  Appreciate and hopefully, from my perspective, perhaps even agree with me.’

 

The concern on Semyaza’s face grew more so.  ‘Partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  But, can I even do that?  I  am, after all, Cherubim, and was not brought up in the garden.  Perhaps the fruit will have no affect on me?’  ‘Oh, I’m sure it will work on you,’ said Saruviel.  ‘We seraphim and Cherubim are mostly alike, and generally subject to the same physiological happenings.  I have no doubt that the fruit would work on you.’    ‘Well, said Semyaza, a hint of doubt apparent in his voice.  ‘I suppose so.  I mean, I am curious about the tree, and curious as to what exactly evil is.  But I’m not really sure if I should.  Perhaps the time is not right for me to partake of the fruit?’  ‘Certainly, I understand your concerns, said Saruviel.  ‘But let me assure you that you have nothing to fear.  ‘The fruit will only help you.  It will give you greater understanding on life - an understanding I am sure you will appreciate.’  Semyaza looked at his brother, then looked downward.  ‘Perhaps,’ he said, the doubt still in his voice.  ‘Perhaps I may.  It is something that I will have to think about.’  ‘I hope you do,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘I truly hope you do.’

 

After that, Saruviel changed the subject and they spoke for a short time longer.  Eventually, their conversation came to an end. Semyaza bade his brother good night, and started the short trip to his upper dormitory.  Saruviel remained seated for a while longer, thinking things over, before also making his way to his upper room.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

The conversation had gone well, Saruviel thought to himself, as he lay on his bed that night thinking over the day’s happenings.  He had been uncertain as to how Semyaza would react to what he had to say.  But Semyaza had listened to him, and was perhaps even prepared to act upon what he had said.  So, Saruviel hoped for anyway.  If Saruviel’s plan was to come into effect, if what he dreamed for were to see light, then he would need much support.  And the firstborn of the Cherubim would be great support indeed.   He would most likely speak with Kantriel and Daraqel next, his two closest friends.  He knew they would always listen to what he had to say, and was sure that, to some degree, they would act upon it, such being his influence upon them.  And after them, there would have to be others.  He was not sure who, but he would speak to whoever was willing to listen and to, hopefully, agree with him.

 

Eventually, of course, he knew that he would have to speak with Michael, and even Father, about his ideas.  They would eventually know, anyway, what it was that Saruviel had planned.  How they would react, though, he wasn’t sure.  Time would tell on that.  Time would only tell.





Chapter Thirteen - Terraphon 

Terraphon was the scholar’s home.  Gabriel oversaw the keep, a job he did, so he had been told, with masterly skill.  To Gabriel, that was a necessity, as he understood all too well the importance of leadership and setting a good example.  The keep was now a number of centuries old, and had truly developed into the centre of learning that it had been hoped it would become.  Angels came from all over the realm to study there, to increase their education, and, for many of the more learned ones, to pursue branches of research.  Throughout the centuries much knowledge about the realm of eternity had been unearthed, and that increasing bulk of information was kept within the vaults of Terraphon keep.  It was at Terraphon where that knowledge was taught in the various classes, and research labs were filled with the study of new information and science.

 

Gabriel himself was not really the king of scholars.  It was true that he did enjoy study, and spent many afternoons in the great library of Terraphon located on the ground floor of the keep.  But his scholastic skills were limited to that - he was a reader not a researcher.  However that had not been held against him when he had been chosen to oversee the keep.  It required more an administrator than a scholar, his Father had told him, and he had deemed Gabriel the best choice.  That choice was something which Gabriel was indeed grateful for, as he had enjoyed greatly his many years overseeing the running of the keep.

 

Today had been no exception to that role.  He had spent most of the morning in conversation with some of the scholars, helping them plan out an expedition to the Aldur mountains, where they intended to take mineral samples for analysis.  It had been fascinating talking to them about the potential that new minerals could bring for the realm.  All sorts of uses, so they said.  He took them at their word.

 

After his morning duties he had a quiet lunch, and took a short walk outside, around the various gardens.  He had decided that, as he had some free time that afternoon, he would spend it in the library studying.  He often spent his free time there, feeling it important as head of Terraphon to keep abreast of all the latest fields of research.  Even though he was not a scholar, being well-learned was something he felt important to achieve. 

 

As head of Terraphon he had an example to set, and could not afford to be ignorant of important issues.  Finishing his walk, he made his way back inside, heading towards the library.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

More than any other subject, of which he was familiar with quite a few, Davriel delighted in the study of Torah. Torah was, apart from his God, the dominant force in his life.  It taught him, guided him and judged him.  It was a friend when he needed one, and a constant delight.  Every day he would study it, try to emulate its teachings and, so he hoped, grow in knowledge and practice of the Torahic way of life. Torah was something he was truly grateful to his Father for.

 

Of course, others appreciated the Torah as well.  Rophiel, to name one, was a particularly devout student.  Adruel another.  But it was perhaps Davriel, even more so than the firstborn Michael, who truly delighted in the Torahic way of life.  This love had, over recent years, been manifest in his best work so far.  Entitled ‘Torah and Life’, it was a comprehensive analysis of the torah of the Seraphim, with what Davriel called a commentary that explained, in depth, its teachings.  So far he’d had many good responses to his work, Michael calling it ‘first class’, something which encouraged him greatly.

 

Rophiel, his close friend, had also had positive comments, even saying that it had inspired him to think about writing his own work.

 

Apart from his Torahic works, of course, Davriel wrote on a number of subjects.  As the head-librarian for Terraphon, the realm’s greatest library, it behoved him to be well learned on a number of subjects, of which he was.  Davriel enjoyed his work, and was constantly grateful to his Father for the life he had blessed him with.  He really couldn’t ask for more.

 

That morning, Davriel had been busy enough as usual.  He’d had a number of new works to catalogue, and a fair number of visitors had come to the library.  He expected little different for the afternoon.  Still, it was a surprise to him when he found Gabriel seated at one of the desks, studying some work.  Of course, Gabriel visited the library often, but it was always a pleasure for Davriel to take some time out and converse with his close friend  He was also grateful that Gabriel was there that day, as he had something quite important that he needed to share with him.  Something couldn’t really wait.  Finishing up with the cataloguing of a scroll, Davriel made his way over to his seated brother.

 

Gabriel, how good to see you!’  Gabriel looked up from the work he had been reading at the face of his young brother.  ‘Davriel.  It’s good to see you as well.  You looked busy when I came in, so I didn’t bother introducing myself.’  ‘Perfectly alright,’ said Davriel. ‘I see that you have some free time today.  Decided to visit us, have you?’  ‘Yes.  I finished up most of my pressing duties this morning and decided to spend my afternoon in the library.  I always enjoy studying, as you well know.’  ‘I’m well aware of that,’ replied Davriel.  Gabriel motioned Davriel to take the seat opposite him, Davriel gladly obliging.  ‘What, may I ask, are you reading today?’  ‘Well,’ replied Gabriel, ‘if you must know, one of your own works, actually.  ‘Torah and life’.  Rophiel finished reading the copy you gave him and has lent it to me to study.’  Davriel smiled.  ‘And what, may I ask, do you think of my work?’  ‘Insightful,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘You have a keen sense of the Torah and how one may apply it to one’s life.  Really, I’m quite enjoying the reading of it.’  Davriel nodded appreciatively.  ‘That is good to hear.  I had hoped when reading it that people would gain something from it.  It was one of my chief objectives.’  ‘I think you have accomplished that,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘Thank you, again.’ said Davriel.  ‘How far, may I ask, are you into it?’  ‘Oh, about a quarter of the way,’ replied Gabriel.  As you know, it is quite long, so it will take me some time to read.  But, as I said, I am enjoying it, so that is no problem.’  ‘Glad to hear,’ smiled Davriel.  I’m quite proud of the work.  It took me many years to write, and is the fruit of much labour.’  ‘That doesn’t surprise me,’ said Gabriel.  ‘I can tell you put a lot into it.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Davriel.

 

After a brief moment’s silence Davriel spoke.  ‘Anyway, Gabriel, there is actually something that I would like to talk to you about.  Something that has been pressing on my mind for the last couple of days.’  ‘Oh,’ said Gabriel.  ‘What?’  ‘Well, three days ago Saruviel was here at Terraphon.’  ‘Really,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘I must have missed him.’  ‘Oh, he was only here briefly.  Just visiting the library to collect some works.  Anyway, he did have time for a conversation with me, a conversation whose details, I feel, that must share with you.  He did not ask me to keep it to myself, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I shared it with you.  Regardless, I feel that it is important that you should hear some of the things that he said to me.’  ‘Really,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘What things?’  ‘Well, continued Davriel, ‘we spoke about a number of things at first, small-talk really.  But after that he shared with me something that I found, how shall I say, disturbing.’  Gabriel, whose interest had been aroused, looked at his brother squarely.  ‘Disturbing, you say.  Saruviel usually has something interesting to say, but what could it be that has disturbed you so much?’  ‘Well, he talked to me about God and his authority over us.  He said that, for many years now, he has been questioning things, things about how our lives are run here in the realm, and how he is not completely satisfied with them.  He told me that he felt that God should no longer be an authority over us, and that we angels should be free to live our own lives.  Live them as we see fit.’  Gabriel looked straight at his brother, a look of concern on his face.  ‘Live without God’s authority?  Surely he wasn’t serious.’  ‘At first, I doubted what he was saying to me, but he made it completely clear to me that that is what he felt.  He said quite clearly that the angels should not have to be answerable to God, and should be left alone to live their own lives, completely as they choose.’  ‘But such an idea is contrary to what the Torah teaches us,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘It makes it quite clear that God is our eternal Lord, and we are to respect him as much .  This freedom you say he speaks of is simply not a reality.  God will always be our God!’  ‘I know,’ replied Davriel.  ‘I was thinking similar thoughts when he was speaking to me.  Anyway, now that you know that much, there is something more.  He told me that he’d already had words with Semyaza, Kantriel and a number of others about this.  He told me quite simply that his plan was to share his views with whoever was willing to listen.  I’m afraid he is trying to win others to his viewpoints.’  The look of concern on Gabriel’s face deepened.

 

After a while he spoke.  ‘This is, as you said, rather disturbing.  If he wins others to his views, I’m not really sure what the outcome will be.  But something inside me tells me that it might not be for the good of us all.’  ‘I think I would agree with you,’ replied Davriel.  ‘I suppose the question is, what are we going to do about it? ‘  ‘I’ll need to speak to him, of course,’  replied Gabriel.  ‘I think I need to hear for myself just what he has on his mind.  And after that, I suppose that I will have to tell Michael.  And after that, even Father, I guess.  This matter is of such importance that I think they should hear about it.  And soon.’  ‘You’re probably right,’ agreed Davriel.  ‘Please, let me know how it goes.’  ‘I will,’ replied Gabriel.  ‘I will.’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Well, what do you think?’ said Shendu.  ‘Is it a good place to build, or what?’  Jerahmeel stood, surveying the area in front of him.  His first impression was that it was, indeed, an appropriate area to build the new keep Ulnaphon.  ‘I guess, replied Jerahmeel.  It’s not too far from Brephon, and close to the major farming sector as well.  I suppose it’s appropriate.’  ‘That’s what I thought,’ replied Shendu.  That day Jerahmeel and Shendu were out inspecting various sites for the building of a new keep.  Ulnaphon was needed, so a consensus had been reached, to house a number of angels who worked in the farming sector.  They had spent a number of months looking at various places, and had narrowed it down to a few.  However, it was the last site that they were inspecting today that seemed the most appropriate.

 

Jerahmeel’s initial impression was that the location was probably the best of those looked at, and he felt that Raguel, Brephon’s overseer, was likely to agree.  He nodded to Shendu, the chief angel in charge of the building of the keep.  ‘Yes, I think this place will do.  It’s probably the best of what we have looked at.’  ‘I agree,’ said Shendu, glad that Jerahmeel had come to a decision.  ‘What next,’ said Shendu.  ‘Can we start?’  ‘Well,’ replied Jerahmeel.  ‘I will have to talk it over with Raguel first, but as soon as that is done I am sure we can begin the project.  ‘That’s good.  And finally,’ said Shendu, pleased with Jerahmeel’s response.  Jerahmeel looked around at the site one last time before turning to Shendu.  ‘Anyway, it’s getting late.  Time we made our way back.’  Shendu nodded.  ‘Sure.’  The two of them then unfurled their wings and took to the sky, heading back towards Brephon.

 

Flying along, Jerahmeel was happy that they had found a place to build Ulnaphon.  Raguel had assigned him toe the task, which he took to as quickly as possible.  As always, it was important for Jerahmeel to undertake tasks given to him with skill and accomplishment.  He had now served as right hand man to Raguel for a number of centuries in the running of Brephon keep.  Ever since the keep was first built, he had served right alongside Raguel, Father himself suggesting Jerahmeel as a good choice.  That was something Jerahmeel appreciated as, even since he had been a young angel, he had been looking for responsibility in which  to show his talent.  When that had arrived, he took it with both hands, welcoming it.  Now, after centuries at the job, he served, so he felt, with a high degree of skill and professionalism.  He enjoyed his position, and worked hard to warrant it.

 

He was also appreciated, so he had been told.  Raguel constantly praised him for his work and encouraged him to continue at it.  That praise pleased Jerahmeel, glad that the work he diligently undertook did not go unnoticed.  Father also encouraged him whenever they spoke, which pleased Jerahmeel a great deal.

 

All things considered, Jerahmeel was happy with his life.  Work was satisfying.  He had a number of good friends who saw him often, and his God was pleased with him.  Thinking about it, he couldn’t really ask for more.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Despite having made numerous new friends over the centuries since the creation of the Cherubim, Sariel was still something of a loner.  He lived alone, as he had nearly always done, now residing at the small keep Kadraphon, located to the far north-west of Terraphon, being nestled amongst the Aldur mountains.  It was a homely keep, Sariel often thought to himself, with spectacular views of the valley below.  But it was its isolation from the other keeps that Sariel appreciated. 

 

He was, he had concluded, after many centuries of quiet thought on the subject, a private soul. This did not really bother him, though.  That was the way he was and, presumably, or so he felt, the way that his God had made him.  And he was happy enough to be himself. 

 

That, however, did not deter others. Yasminael, Terraphon’s chief social worker, visited him often.  At least once every six months or so he was visited by his sister, who called in to give him the fellowship he much needed, or so she often said.  This did not bother Sariel  who did appreciate Yasminael’s company.  Yasminael kept him up to date on happenings at Terraphon and around the realm.  Often they would speak into the wee small hours, Sariel happy enough to have someone to converse with.  In fact, Yasminael had visited just recently, so Sariel wasn’t really expecting any visitors for a while, which, of course, didn’t bother him.  Solitude was nothing new to him, welcoming the time he had on his own.

 

That morning he went through the usual routine.  Breakfast, followed by some work in the small vegetable garden.  Although most of his supplies came from Terraphon, he did look after a small garden which provided him fruits and vegetables for the occasional meal.  As midday approached, his work mostly done, he heard a whistling sound coming from the front of the keep.  His curiosity aroused, he got to his feet, and made his way around Kadraphon in search of the noise. 

 

When he got to the front he looked around and spotted a slender angel near the front door.  ‘Yes, can I help you,’ said Sariel out loud.  The angel turned to him.  By the looks of it, it was a young Cherubim named Jasmine, who he had met at Terraphon from time to time. Jasmine was one of Yasminael’s assistants, if his memory served him correctly.  Perhaps she had some important news from Terraphon, Sariel thought to himself.

 

Jasmine made her way from the front door towards where Sariel stood.  ‘Sariel.  I’m glad you’re here.’  ‘It’s where I usually am,’ replied Sariel.  ‘What, may I ask, brings you to my small home?’  Yasminael sent me’, said Jasmine.  ‘Melladon is approaching soon, and she has requested your company for the event.’  ‘That’s unusual,’ replied Sariel.  Yasminael doesn’t usually worry about asking me to Melladon.’  ‘Apparently, replied Jasmine, ‘from what I have heard, Michael will be attending this upcoming month’s Melladon, and Yasminael has asked for as many of the angels as possible to be in attendance.  Particularly, from what she said, the Seraphim, as Gabriel has some important news he wants to share.’  ‘Oh,’ said Sariel, his interest aroused.  ‘Well, that should be no problem, I guess.  I see nothing that will prevent me from being there, so you can tell Yasminael that I will be in attendance.’  Jasmine smiled, pleased at that response.  ‘That’s good.  I’m glad you cam mike it.  Yasminael tells me that you need fellowship anyway.’  ‘I’m sure she does,’ replied Sariel.  ‘Anyway, would you care for a drink of melit water, or dwarrow juice.  I have some inside.’  ‘Thanks, but no,’ replied Jasmine.  ‘I really must be going.  many people to tell, you see.’  ‘Certainly,’ replied Sariel.  Jasmine gave Sariel a friendly smile, and said, ‘Well, I’ll be going now.  See you at Melladon.’  Sariel nodded as his young sister turned, walked a cubit or so away, and took to the skies.

 

Watching her as she flew off, Sariel thought on that news.  He had not been to Melladon for quite a while, something which he should have perhaps before looked at.  He still needed fellowship with the brethren, something he had thought to himself recently.  Silently, he was glad that Jasmine had come bringing the news.  It would be a good chance for him to catch up with a number of his brothers and sisters.  A good chance indeed.  And, of course, there was Gabriel’s announcement.  Whatever that could be, Sariel wondered to himself.  When Jasmine was out of sight, Sariel looked down at his hands, noticing their grimy state after the gardening.  Time to go inside and clean up, Sariel thought to himself.  And time for lunch as well. With that on his mind, Sariel turned and made his way towards the entrance to Kadraphon keep.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Semambarel inspected his latest work.  The quills were definitely of good quality, taking ink smoothly and drawing well.  ‘A good work,’ he thought to himself.  He had spent most of the morning finishing off the production of the latest run of quills.  Working busily over the last few weeks, he had produced over 2000 of the writing instruments.  A solid effort indeed.  Still, demand for them was high, and Semambarel was one of the few workers in the realm that produced them – especially of the quality he was now capable of.

 

Judael had inspected the initial batch, saying they were up to the usual high standard that Semambarel set.  That pleased Semambarel, Judael’s opinion being of high value to him.  The batch of quills he had just produced would be the last of it for a while  Soon they would be distributed around the realm to be used by the angels in all their writing tasks.  With the run of quills complete, Semambarel would turn his attention to the production of ink.  They in fact were his two main tasks, the production of pens and ink.  Of course, before the creation of the Cherubim he had helped Judael in the manufacture of various paper products, but that had ceased with the expansion of the realm, Judael obtaining other helpers.  Now his life was given over to those two main tasks.  But that didn’t bother him.  He found satisfaction in his work and was glad he provided something useful for his brethren.

 

Having tested a number of the pens, he decided that it was time for lunch.  Semambarel’s workshop was located to the west of Romnaphon, where Semambarel resided.  Occasionally he flew to Romnaphon for lunch, but usually, as it was today, he brought his lunch with him.  A couple of salad sandwiches and a sealed jug of dwarrow juice was today’s affair.  Making his way through his lunch, he thought on things in his life. 

 

Melladon was approaching shortly, which pleased him.  He looked forward to the celebration, always enjoying the time he spent with his brethren.  And new year’s day was  approaching.  Another celebration to look forward too.  Taking another bite of his sandwich, however, he turned his thoughts to the most recent event of note in his life.  Just a few days ago he’d had a visit.  Saruviel, his long time friend had come to see him, inquiring after his welfare.  They’d been friends long before the creation of the Cherubim, and Semambarel always enjoyed the time they spent together.  This time, however, Saruviel had not come simply on a social visit.  He shared some news with Semambarel, news which he was still coming to terms with.

 

He himself had never questioned God’s authority over himself and was surprised when Saruviel had made the statements he had made.  Still, he had listened to his brother, giving him a fair hearing.  After much thought on the subject, the main question that Semambarel had was why.  Why now, after all these centuries, would Saruviel start having a problem with the authority of God?  It was something that puzzled Semambarel.  But one thing that Saruviel had said did, in some ways, make sense to Semambarel.  Freedom.  The freedom that Saruviel talked of was something that Semambarel had never of course known.  To be free to live one’s life - free without any restrictions - was something that, in a way, appealed to Semambarel.  True, God did not restrict them that much in the way that way that they behaved.  But to be free, without any restrictions at all, was something new to him.  Still, that thought, Semambarel told himself, would remain just that.  A dream.  It was alright for Saruviel to have the thoughts that he did, but what more would come of it.  What more could possibly happen.  That was the conclusion that Semambarel had reached, he thought to himself, as he continued on with his lunch.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Melladon at Zaphon without Michael was a rare occurrence, Meludiel thought to herself, as she made her way from the dinner hall towards her workplace.  At lunch it had just been announced that Michael would be visiting Terraphon for a few days, days which included the Melladon celebration.  This news didn’t really affect Meludiel, although she was always glad to see her oldest brother at the Melladon celebration.  They would just have to do without him this month.

 

Reaching the choir-hall she ran into Gamrayel who was just leaving.  ‘Gamrayel.  Where are you off to?’ inquired Meludiel.  ‘I was working so busily this morning that I forgot all about lunch.  Hopefully I won’t be too late.’  ‘I’m sure there’ll be some left over,’ said Meludiel.  ‘I hope so,’ replied Gamrayel.  ‘Anyway, I will see you after lunch.’  ‘Sure,’ replied Meludiel.  Gamrayel then turned and hurried off towards the dining hall.  Meludiel made her way inside and over towards the small office located at the side of the choir-hall.  Looking at her desk, there were papers scattered all over it.  ‘What a mess,’ she thought to herself.  Still, that was not surprising.

 

That morning she had been going through a large collection of musical works, trying to decide on which one would be appropriate for that afternoon’s choir practice.  The piece would also be performed at next month’s Melladon, so it needed to be a good one and appropriate for the celebration.  Sitting down, she started to gather the papers up.  She had a few pieces in mind for that afternoon, but had not come to any definite decision.  Still she had a few hours before practice began, so she had time to make a thorough decision.

 

Leafing through the pile, she picked out one piece that she particularly liked.  It was entitled ‘Give your best to God’, a piece that often inspired her.  She sat there thinking about whether the piece was appropriate for Melladon.  After a while she came to a conclusion.  ‘I suppose it will do,’ she thought to herself.  ‘It is a difficult piece, but our choir is always up to challenges.’  Her mind made up, she stood and went to one of the side cupboards.  Opening it she looked inside, searching for the right stack of papers.  After a while she located the bundle and brought it out into the light.  Around 60 or so copies of ‘Give your best to God.’  With them in her arm, she made her way into the choir-hall, and started placing the copies on the stands where the angels sang.

 

Zaphon’s choir still afforded places for 54 voices.  Originally, of course, all those voices had been that of the Seraphim.  But with the expansion of the realm and the dispersion of the Seraphim all over it, those voices were now a mix of a handful of Seraphim and the majority made up of Cherubim.  This hadn’t really affected the way the choir performed, though.  Cherubim voices were identical with that of the Seraphim, so the choir still sounded essentially the same.  Through all of it, Meludiel had remained choir-master, happy enough to remain at Zaphon when the realm was expanded.  She was now, so she felt, quite adept at her job, and appreciated the responsibility it gave her.

 

Having placed all of the copies out, Meludiel realized she had some free time on her hand.  ‘A good opportunity for practice,’ she thought to herself.  At the side of the choir hall was a new instrument that Gamrayel, Meludiel and a number of the scholars from Terraphon skilled in design had come up with.  The instrument was tentatively called a ‘Vibronic’.  It was made up of a number of keys placed next to each other, each producing a note of harmonic scale in ascending order.  The Vibronic was made up of 4 octaves, so a large range of melodies could be played.

 

Meludiel had taken to the instrument, and was becoming quite skilled at the playing of it.  Naturally, she played a large number of well-known tunes that the angels sang, but recently she had begun composing a number of original works on it, specially written for the vibronic.  Sitting down in front of it, she thought on what she was going to play.  She had just begun working on a new piece recently, and decided to continue wit that.  The piece began with a right hand melody, before the left hand bass was introduced.  She played it out for a number of minutes before coming to the end of what she had written so far.  It was good, she thought to herself, but not yet complete.  Humming to herself, she started working on melody with her right hand, her instincts guiding her as to what should come next.

 

She had been practising her piece for quite some time before she noticed that time was getting on.  Looking over to the office she noticed that Gamrayel had returned, seated at his desk, doing some writing.  Obviously he had not disturbed her, letting her practice unhindered.  Pleased with the additions to her piece she had made, which was nearly complete, she stood and made her way towards the office.  ‘Well,’ she said out loud.  Our brothers and sisters should be arriving shortly.’  Gamrayel looked up from his desk.  ‘Yes, time is getting on.  Have you chosen a piece for this afternoon’s practice?’  ‘Yes, I have,’ replied Meludiel.  ‘I think ‘Give your best to God’ should do us for today.’  ‘A good choice,’ nodded Gamrayel.  ‘Challenging, but worth the effort I think.’  ‘That’s what I thought’ replied Meludiel.  ‘What was that you were playing,’ inquired Gamrayel.  ‘I rather liked it.’  ‘Oh, a new piece I have been working on.  I started writing it last month, and have made some additions to it today.  It’s actually nearly finished.’  ‘That’s good,’ said Gamrayel.  ‘I look forward to hearing it in its entirety.  ‘Thanks,’ replied Meludiel.  Hearing a noise, Meludiel turned and looked out into the choir-hall.  The first of their brethren were starting to arrive.  ‘Well, time to get to it,’ Meludiel said to Gamrayel, as she made her way into the hall.

 

When all the choir had arrived Meludiel motioned for silence.  ‘I’m glad to see you all brothers and sisters, and on time today.  As you know we have a new piece to practice today for Melladon.  After much consideration I have decided on ‘Give your best to God’ as an appropriate work.  You will find a copy on the stands in front of you.  As you are probably aware, it is a difficult piece, so we will be going through it a number of times.  Practice makes perfect, as you are well aware.  The opening solo starts with you, Shandel.  So when you are ready we will begin.’  A female Cherubim in the front row cleared her voice and, after a few moments, began to sing.

 

After having gone through the work a number of times, Meludiel motioned that the choir could rest.  Speaking out she said, ‘Well, that was adequate.  Your starting to get the hang of it, but more work is needed.  I’ll give you a few moments to catch your breath, and then we’ll go through it one last time.  After that we will be finished for the day.’  As she had said, the choir ran through the piece one last time, after which Meludiel excused them for the day.  With the choir-room gradually emptying, Meludiel made her way towards Gamrayel at the side of the room.  ‘Well, what do you think?  Good enough?’  ‘They were fine,’ replied Gamrayel.  ‘But good enough for Melladon?’ ‘With a little more practice they should be just about right.’  ‘Mmm,’ nodded Meludiel in agreement.

 

It speaks to me, you know, Meludiel – this song you wrote years ago.’  ‘Give your best to God, you mean?’  ‘Yes,’ replied Gamrayel.  ‘I am truly thankful to Father for my life.  I have been sharing a room with Narel at Glimmersphon for nearly 30 years now, and her companionship is inspiring to me.  She seems to understand me so very deeply.  So intimately as if she knows my very soul.  I thank Father each day in prayer for bringing her into my life.’  ‘Narel?  She is your twin, isn’t she?’  The term twin referred, in the case of the Seraphim, to the corresponding male or female seraphim in the rank of order of birth.  Both Gamrayel and Narel were the 17th born of the Seraphim. ‘Yes, Meludiel, she is my twin.  I sometimes wonder if that means anything.  If there is something deep within Fathers plan for us in regards to our twin.  I look at Michael and Elenniel – and also especially Davriel and Rachel.  They spend so much of their time together – as if they were meant to be together.  It is almost as if there is something important – something deep and unique – about a male and a female being intimate with each other.  Especially more so when it is your twin.’ 

 

Mmm.  Interesting, Gamrayel.  I have never really thought about it.’  ‘Your twin is Ambriel.  Do you feel different about him in any way, Meludiel?  Different in relation to Ambriel as opposed to your other brothers?’

 

Meludiel looked at Gamrayel, and looked away.  She thought about answering him, but then felt, perhaps no.  Perhaps she should not speak on that subject.  There had been an encounter with her brother Ambriel when they were younger.  An encounter that Father had arranged between the two of them.  It had been brief, lasting only a few minutes.  But it had been passionate – oh so passionate.  The feelings she had felt when they had held each other closely, as he had touched her breast and kissed her cheek.  As he had said how he loved her so.  It had ignited a passion in her heart.  A feeling she had never felt before.  Ambriel was the purest soul she knew.  His heart was golden – as gentle and loving as the glow of God’s fire above the throne of Zaphon.  And it had changed Meludiel forever.  Every day she thought about that encounter.  She thought of the passion she had felt, of the way in which Ambriel had caressed her, of the words he had said.  Since then, whenever he had been around, she had often evaded him.  She did not know how to respond to him after that encounter.  She did not know how to handle that love he had given to her, or the passion that she had felt.  She loved her brother, but, in some way, she was frightened – oh so very frightened – of that kind of love.  Of how it could change her into something she was not sure she would ever be able to handle.

 

She looked at Gamrayel and decided to answer with a simple response.  ‘I’d rather not really talk about it Gamrayel.  Please – can we change the subject?’  ‘Oh, oh of course.  Please forgive me if I have said something to upset you.’  ‘No, its alright.  Let’s just talk about something else, okay.’  They changed the subject and, after a while, returned to their everyday duties.

 

Later on that night, Meludiel lay on her bed.  She had been crying for an hour – silently so as not to alarm anyone else.  All that she could think about – all that was in her heart – all that she knew she needed, after hearing what Gamrayel had said – was to be with Ambriel.  He was her destiny.  She knew that as sure as she knew anything else in her life.  ‘Oh Father.  Father.  Why is my heart as such?’ she cried out, and continued her silent sobbing.





Chapter Fourteen – Raphael of Mitraphon 

Raphael sat in his office found at an upper level corner of Mitraphon keep, contemplating life.  It had been a busy day, but he had now seen to most of his duties, and could relax for a while.  As he sat there, his mind pondered on a number of things.  Foremost in his thoughts was the immediate return of his personal assistant, Zakeera, who had been absent for a four week rest.  She would return tomorrow, which Raphael looked forward to.  Zakeera was his right hand in the running of Mitraphon, being a commonly used bridge between himself and much of the Mitraphon community.  Coping without her had been a challenge to him.  Still, he had a great deal in the way of interpersonal skills, so he had managed effectively.  But Zakeera’s return would be valued much by him.  His thoughts also turned to how the various programs were running at Mitraphon.  They of course were his chief concern as Mitraphon’s overseer.

 

Mitraphon ran a fair number of programs dedicated to spiritual teaching and nurturing.  It, after all, was the prime function of the keep.  One program in particular, the prayer and meditation course, had been the focus of his attention recently.  Mandorra, teacher of the program had been having some personal difficulties, so Raphael had assigned a substitute to watch over the class.  Although the substitute, Eldaran, had been teaching appropriately, Raphael always had concerns when someone new began working for him.  Not that Eldaran was that new - he had been a fill-in teacher at Mitraphon for many years now. But Raphael was always concerned about maintaining the high standards that the program of the keep offered to the Realm.  He had even sat in one afternoon on one of Eldaran’s lessons to silently observe.  As he had expected, Eldaran had taught with competency and skill.  That had relieved Raphael’s minor concerns, and given him the confidence to trust that Eldaran knew what he was doing.  Which, of course, was what was expected of any and all the teachers and counsellors of Mitraphon keep. 

 

Apart from that, the other various programs were generally running smoothly.  This, of course, pleased him.  His work was naturally important to him, and it was always a good thing when it was running well. Of course, he knew how important all the keeps were in the functions that they performed, but he always, perhaps with a bias, felt that his keep was particularly important in its duties.

 

Strong spirituality was a vital component of the angels’ lives, so he strongly felt.  And it was Mitraphon which served the realm for this aspect of the angel’s lives throughout the realm.  Many of the angels in the realm had now visited Mitraphon for the first time and they’d had a fair number of returning angels.  That, of course, had lead Raphael and the various elders of Mitraphon to develop more extensive teaching courses - courses that would enable the angels to progress in their spiritual walk even more so.

 

Thinking ahead, he had often wondered what he would teach the angels after they had, so to speak, mastered the torah and the spiritual walk.  That of course lay many centuries, even millennia in the future, yet it was still a concern to Raphael.  He knew from his own experience that a mature spirituality only came with time, patience, and a reasonable amount of effort. 

 

Because of his position, he of course had much need to develop those skills greatly within himself.  Not that even he could say that he had mastered the Torah.  God had once told him that growth would be a long and challenging path.  Being all that he could be, so to speak, would take many long years.  But Raphael often wondered if there would come a time when he had learned all that there was to learn.  A time when he would be spiritually complete.  Perhaps he would be like God then - being a perfect spiritual creature.  If he ever arrived at such a situation, where would be go from there?  He had once supposed that, given that situation ever arrived, it would likely be mostly a matter of maintenance.  Staying spiritually strong, and enduring that way.  He knew from his own life that spiritually did seem to have an ebb and flow to it.  At times he could honestly say that he was not as spiritual, for want of a better word, as he had been at other times.  Of course, he always sought remedies to rectify those situations, and usually returned to his high standards.  Thus it seemed that to be perfect was a matter of continual effort, an ongoing challenge.

 

In a way, that both frightened and pleased Raphael.  To have to continually strive seemed a difficult task, but at the same time it did seem to give some meaning to life.  So he felt anyway.  Such were the philosophical questions Raphael thought on, as he sat there late in the afternoon.

 

After a while he rose from his place.  The day was nearly done, and dinner would begin shortly.  Making his way out of his office and towards his room Raphael thought on the day just passed.  It had been a usual working day.  Nothing untoward had happened.  Which is the way he generally liked it.  And of course, tomorrow would see Zakeera’s return, which he looked forward to.  Thinking about that, he had something that he would like to discuss with Zakeera, and then the other elders of the keep.  He had been thinking about some new ideas for gaining feedback from the angels about their experiences at Mitraphon.  It was always important to him to know how others appreciated the work that they undertook - whether positive feedback or negative.  And it was with the information gained from such feedback that courses could be modified for the better.

 

Raphael, who was always anxious to improve the quality of the classes they offered at Mitraphon had some new ideas for gaining comments from their visitors.  But that could wait till tomorrow, and Zakeera’s return.  For now he had a change of garments to make, and a dinner to attend.  With that on his mind he made his way up the stairs of Mitraphon keep, towards his dormitory.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Loquiel stood there, considering what had just been proposed to him.  After a while he spoke.  ‘Yes, I suppose I see your point Randel.  But I’m not sure if I agree.  Our guidelines here at Mitraphon clearly delineate the role between teacher and student.  The teacher oversees the class and guides the student in their education - not the other way round.  It is the way education in the realm has always been run.’  ‘Yes, I know that,’ replied Randel.  ‘But my question is, should that always be the case?  Surely we are mature enough to try things from a different perspective to see how they will go, and I am confident that this new teaching method has merit to it.’  Loquiel again considered those words before responding.  ‘Well, it is certainly a new idea.  I don’t think I have heard such a suggestion before. But, as you know, I am not one who can approve of any such trial.  My  suggestion is that you attend tomorrow’s meeting of elders.  Raphael will of course be in attendance and you can bring up the idea then.  If the elders agree to it then you will be able to go ahead with the idea.’  Randel nodded at that.  ‘Thanks Loquiel.  That’s pleasing.  If I recall that meeting is held just after lunch, isn’t it.’  ‘That is correct.  And I will see to it that you have a place on the agenda.’  Randel smiled, ‘Good.  Well that is all I really wanted to bring up with you.  I’ll see you later at dinner.’  Loquiel smiled as his younger brother turned and headed off.

 

It was certainly a novel idea, Loquiel thought to himself.  Randel had been a teacher for many years at Mitraphon and was well respected.  Somehow it seemed unusual for him to bring forth such an idea.  So Loquiel thought anyway.  In essence, his idea was about how education should be conducted.  The traditional method of  the teacher containing the knowledge and transmitting that knowledge to the students was challenged in Randel’s theory.  Randel’s idea was that the students should be the ones who actively seek new knowledge with the teacher there simply as a guide or an overseer.  The students were to decide what to learn, and how to learn it, with the teacher almost going along for the ride.  It was certainly an interesting proposition, so Loquiel thought, but Randel confidently maintained that there was merit to the idea.  And he spoke with such passion that Loquiel felt that might indeed be true.  Still, it would be up to the elders at tomorrow’s meeting to make their assessment of the proposition.  Loquiel, being one of Mitraphon’s elders, would of course be in attendance.  Along with Raphael and the others, it would be up to him to decide the fate of young Randel’s proposition.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

So we are in agreement, then?’ said Raphael. Looking around the small meeting room the various elders nodded in agreement.  ‘Those suggestions are all quite sound,’ said Loquiel.  I am sure they will help in the way we receive comments from the community.  They are certainly worth a trial period.’  Raphael nodded, happy at that.  ‘I believe they are worth a trial period and I look forward to seeing the outcome.  Anyway, what is next on our agenda,’ said Raphael turning to Zakeera. ‘One last matter,’ said Zakeera.  ‘Randel has some ideas regarding education principles, and would like an opportunity to speak to the council.’ ‘Certainly,’ said Raphael. ‘Is he here?’  ‘He’s just outside,’ replied Zakeera.  ‘I’ll let him in.’  ‘I’ll do that,’ said Loquiel, getting to his feet.  He exited the room into the small waiting area just outside, where Randel sat patiently. 

 

We’re ready for you now,’ said Loquiel.  Randel stood, smiling.  ‘Thanks Loquiel.  Well, here goes.’  Loquiel motioned for Randel to enter the room, and guided him to a vacant chair around the oval table.

 

When they were seated Raphael spoke.  ‘So, Randel.  I hear you have some new ideas on how we conduct our education here at Mitraphon.  Please explain.’  Randel nodded, the eagerness on his face apparent.  ‘Well, yes.  I certainly have some ideas.  I’ll begin by saying this theory of mine is not new.  I have been developing it for nearly thirty years.  But I have never sought an opportunity to express my views before.  You see, I wanted to be sure within myself that there was some soundness to the idea.  Anyway, the crux of it is this.   It is a matter of how we see education.  How learning happens, and the various factors involved.  Traditionally, education has been a matter of the teacher instructing the student, being a source of knowledge.  The student is expected to incorporate that knowledge into their own life, and learn thereby.  This is how education has always been done.  Now, while I am not faulting this method, indeed it does have its own merits, I believe that there is a worthwhile alternative method to education that is worth pursuing.  I call it ‘student oriented learning’.  ‘Student oriented learning,’ said Raphael.  ‘It sounds interesting.  Tell us, what does it involve.’  ‘Well,’ continued Randel, ‘It is mostly a matter of where the focus of the education is.  In the traditional method, the teacher is the source of knowledge.  In student oriented learning, the environment is the source of knowledge, with the student being the active seeker of it.  Instead of the teacher bringing forth the knowledge, the student actively seeks it out and becomes the educator themselves.  The teacher is still there, but, instead of being the educator, is seen rather as a guide.  Now let me give you an example of what I mean.  Say we wish a student to learn certain laws of metallurgy.  Now we could instruct the student, certainly, on all that we know.  But, I believe, to be even more effective in educating the student, we leave it to them to find out for themselves about the laws of metallurgy.  We let them conduct their own research, and develop their own findings.  My central belief is, that in following this method, the student will be more actively involved in the learning process, and far more likely to remember the results of all that is learned.  That then is a basic example of student oriented learning, and what it is about.’

 

Randel paused in his speaking, looking for comment.  Raphael took his cue.  ‘Well, it sounds interesting.  But I wonder how it would work in reality.  How do we motivate the student to do the work?  And how do we achieve the results we desire?’  ‘Motivation shouldn’t be a problem,’ replied Randel.  My belief is that the student will be even more motivated, knowing that they have their own hand in the education process.  And in achieving the results we desire, the teacher will still be there as a guide to oversee the education.  Those are certainly two issues that I have considered, but I believe they pose no major problem to the idea.’  Randel stopped again, awaiting the elders’ opinion.  Loquiel spoke up.  ‘I have had a little time to think about the idea, Randel first shared it with me yesterday, and I think there is some merit to it.  I think it is certainly worth having a trial run with one of Randel’s classes to see how it goes.’  Raphael nodded.  ‘You could be right Loquiel.  What do you think Selma?’  ‘Well, it’s interesting,’ responded Selma, a fair-headed female cherubim.  ‘Making the student the focus of education I would say has always been the idea behind education.  If this method, as Randel has said, will make the student an even more active learner, then it is an idea worth pursuing.  As Loquiel has said, a trial-run may be a good idea.  I have no objections to it.’  The rest of the elders nodded in agreement.  ‘A trial run would be a good idea,’ echoed Sendar.  ‘Yes, I think so, said Raphael in agreement.  He turned to Randel.  ‘Well, young brother.  The council likes your idea.  You have permission to introduce the method into your teaching.  Mind you, we will expect a comprehensive report after a trial period.  I am anxious to see how the idea will work in the real world.’  ‘Certainly,’ replied Randel smiling, obviously pleased at the news.

 

Raphael turned to Zakeera.  ‘Well if that is the last matter?’  Zakeera nodded.  ‘Then we will conclude for the day.  Randel, perhaps you could conclude with a prayer of thanks.’  Randel nodded, and began a short prayer.

 

*   *   *   *   *

For the past few days things had progressed as usual in Semyaza’s life.  Work was the same as usual, nothing untoward having happened.  His friendships passed on in the same manner.  In fact, little was different in the everyday life for the oldest of the Cherubim.  Yet, while on the surface things may have appeared normal in every manner, in the back of his mind things had become somewhat unsettled.  There lay a thought in Semyaza’s mind that had stayed there ever since it had been birthed.

 

Since his conversation with Saruviel, Semyaza had given quiet thought to the words his older brother had shared with him.  And those thoughts were perhaps soon to see fruition.  While at first the idea to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil had been a fascinating idea, he had let that fascination diminish into that of plain curiosity.  But, surprisingly, that curiosity had remained, bubbling away at the back of his mind.  At first he had assumed that he was unlikely to ever partake of the mysterious trees fruit.  As he had told Saruviel, he felt the tree was likely only for the Seraphim, and unlikely to have any effect on him.  But after a while that assumed fact had bothered him a little.  One of the main drives of Semyaza was that of equality for the Cherubim with their older Seraphim brethren.  Why should it be that there was a special fruit limited only to them.  That God his Father would discriminate in such a manner was something that Semyaza doubted in his heart.  Surely all the fruit of the realm was fit for all its inhabitants. Because of that idea, Semyaza had slowly come around to the idea of partaking of the fruit.  It was true that he had a fascination with the idea of good and evil, even if that was not his primary motivation for partaking of the fruit.  But it was enough for him, and he had finally decided to follow Saruviel’s advice and seek out the tree at the centre of the fabled garden. 

 

However, before doing that, he had it in his mind to seek the counsel of his close friends.  If he was prepared to partake of the tree, he had thought to himself that it should also be the right of all his Cherubim brethren.  Perhaps they too would desire to partake of the fruit and gain the insight that it supposedly offered.  Such were Semyaza’s thoughts anyway.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Urakiba looked up at the tree before him.  ‘So this is it then?’ he said to the small number of brethren gathered around him.  ‘It must be,’ replied Semyaza.  ‘Saruviel told me that it was a tree in the centre of the garden with a red fruit.  This is the centre of the garden and this is the only tree with a red fruit on it that I can see.’

 

Kokabiel took a step forward and plucked off one of the trees fruit.  ‘It’s small,’ he said.  ‘I wonder what it tastes like?’  ‘I hardly think that what it tastes like is important,’ replied Semyaza.  ‘It is the effect that it will have upon us that is the important thing.’  Semyaza paused, looking at his brethren.  ‘So it is decided then?  We will all eat of the fruit?’  ‘Sure.  Why not,’ said Urakiba.  ‘We’ve come this far.  We may as well finish our little adventure,’ said Kokabiel.  Semyaza turned to  the dark-haired cherubim.  ‘And you Ramiel?  Are you ready?’  ‘Well, I guess so,’ Ramiel replied.  ‘Although I am somewhat apprehensive.  I will admit that curiosity has got the better of me.  So yes.  I will also eat of the fruit.’  ‘Here goes then,’ said Kokabiel, taking the fruit to his mouth and taking a small bite.  ‘Sweet actually,’ he said regarding its taste.  He then plucked three more pieces of fruit from the tree and passed them to his brethren.  ‘Your turns,’ he said smiling.  Silently the three remaining Cherubim each took a bite from the fruit in their hands. Semyaza noticed that it was indeed sweet, with a faint hint of sourness.  But that didn’t really bother him.  It was not the taste of the fruit that he sought after all.  After they had all taken a bite, the Cherubim looked at each other.  ‘Now what?’ said Kokabiel.  ‘Apparently the effect is not instantaneous,’ said Semyaza.  ‘Saruviel told me that it took some time before he noticed any change.  But he promised me that a noticeable effect would indeed come.’

 

Well, what shall we do in the meantime,’ said Ramiel.  ‘Just wait around for the fruit to have its impact.’  ‘I suggest that we make our way back to Zaphon,’ said Semyaza.  Perhaps tonight after dinner we can discuss any changes that we may have noticed.’  ‘Sounds good enough to me,;’ said Urakiba.  ‘Let us be going then,’ said Semyaza.  the angels turned, and started making their way out of the garden.  Semyaza paused briefly, and turned taking one last look at the tree.  ‘Well, he had done it,’ he thought to himself.  time would only tell what would come of it.  Time would only tell.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

It was not instantaneous, but came gradually.  But nevertheless, the knowledge that the tree had imparted into Semyaza’s life did indeed come. At first, like his eldest brother, it had been knowledge of good that had pervaded his life.  For a number of weeks following the partaking of the fruit at the garden Semyaza had experienced a great number of thoughts about the goodness of life, and everything in the Realm of eternity.  For him it had been a high period, as his mind contemplated the marvels of his existence, and took great pleasure on the simple matter of being alive.  For a while everything seemed grand to him, and his love of God his Father had increased greatly.  But that period did not last forever, perhaps much to the eldest of the Cherubim’s misfortune.  There replaced those weeks of glory a period of what Semyaza could only call darkness. 

 

In it his mood changed dramatically.  It was almost as if a cloud of rain had emerged over his life.  And his thoughts changed dramatically.  Instead of the positives in life, he focused sharply on the negatives, and became unduly critical of things.  At one point the darkness was so profound that he felt as if he had little, if any, love for his brethren.  This period, to say the least, disturbed him greatly.  Yet it, too, came to an end.  And as he emerged into what he could only call normality, Semyaza had come to a number of conclusions about life.

 

Soon after partaking of the fruit, Semyaza had spoken with Saruviel letting him know of the choice that he had made.  Not surprisingly, this had pleased Saruviel.  However, Saruviel had not let the opportunity pass without presenting his chief claim again - that of complete freedom for the angels, and subsequent equality with God.  As Semyaza had thoughts turn from goodness to darkness, he began to contemplate Saruviel’s dilemma.  He was a child of God - that would not change.  And it seemed inevitable to Semyaza that he owed his Father some sort of allegiance because of it.  But what exactly did befit that loyalty.  Was Semyaza to be a son of God, cherished by his Father.  Or was he to be forever a servant, at his Father’s beck and call.  This thought disturbed him somewhat.  Whether it was truly his own reasoning or the line of thought planted by his older brother, Semyaza began to contemplate the supposed freedom that Saruviel spoke of.

 

To be his own person, to live his own life as he saw fit, was something that appealed to Semyaza.  To choose his own destiny in life - to have complete freedom - surely that was what he was entitled to.  Surely his God could not deny him that.  And as his mind came out of its period of darkness, he had reached a sure conclusion.  He would talk again with Saruviel.  That he must do.  To tell him that he had an ally in his great idea.  And of course he would have to speak with the others about it.  Ramiel, Urakiba and the others certainly had to know.  It was important for Semyaza now.  He had to share this viewpoint with others.  And, if he could, persuade them of the merits of the idea.  Such were Semyaza’s current conclusions.





Chapter Fifteen - Melladon

The Melladon celebration at Terraphon had gone well, Michael thought to himself.  He’d had an enjoyable time, and also had an opportunity to meet a number of brethren he hadn’t seen in a while.  That was something Michael always enjoyed doing.  It also seemed that each keep, from what he had noticed, had developed their own particular way of celebrating Melladon.  Unsurprisingly, as Terraphon was the scholar’s home, it hosted a more intellectual celebration of the first day of the month.  There had been a debate between some of the scholars that night, followed by various speeches on assorted subjects, and on the affairs of Terraphon.  Apparently they had gone to extra effort this particular Melladon, as they had known that Michael would be attending.  All in all, it had been a night greatly enjoyed.

 

But it had been the following day that had brought news that now weighed heavily on Michael’s heart.  In a quiet meeting with Gabriel and Davriel, they had both discussed with him the matter of Saruviel and his viewpoints on life.  At first Michael was unsure how to handle the news, and had merely thanked Gabriel and Davriel  for the information, saying that he would take it into consideration.  But as the days had passed it had become clear to Michael that the situation was of grave importance, and for a number of reasons.  Firstly, Saruviel was his brother and his friend.  If he was having problems in his relationship with God then Michael was only too eager to help.  But the situation was made even more important by the fact that Saruviel was the had of Kalphon, and oversaw the affairs of a large number of angels.  If he was having troubles, how would it affect them?  Clearly the matter needed seeing to, and soon.  Returning to Zaphon, he decided to handle the matter personally.  He would arrange a meeting with Saruviel.  Perhaps an invitation to a game of Katchular, something which they had not played together for a number of years.  That, Michael thought to himself, would be the ideal guise under which he could gain insight into Saruviel’s situation.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

A game of Katchular?’  said Saruviel, mildly surprised.  Well, it is true we haven’t played a game in a number of years.  And I suppose it would be an ideal opportunity to catch up and discuss affairs of the realm.  Yes, you can tell Michael that a game of Katchular would be most welcome.  But, if possible, could we arrange it for to be here at Kalphon.  I find myself most busy at the moment, and don’t really have time for a short vacation from Kalphon.’  ‘I’ll let him know that you are interested, then,’ said Dalnarra,’ Michael’s courier from Zaphon.  ‘Yes, do that,’ said Saruviel.  And tell him that I look most forward to our meeting.  ‘Certainly,’ replied Dalnarra.  ‘Well if there is nothing more I will be going then.’  ‘Yes, that is all,’ replied Saruviel. The angel nodded, then turned and made his way out of the office.

 

When the door had closed, Saruviel turned his chair to face the window, looking out over the grounds of Kalphon keep.  It was inevitable, he thought to himself.  He had now shared his viewpoints with quite a number of his brethren, and it was inevitable that Michael would eventually find out.  Still, that was what Saruviel had decided would eventually need to come anyway.  And now that time had come.

 

Naturally he didn’t believe that it was for merely a game of Katchular that his oldest brother had offered the invitation.  Still, Michael’s subtlety was a relief from having the matter come to a head in a more direct way.  Quite sensible of his older brother, he thought of himself.  And now the matter would come out in the open, if it had not already done so.  It would be challenging, he thought to himself.  Michael was Firstborn, and extremely loyal to his Father.  But if there would ever be an opportunity for him to express his views - views which had become central to his life - then it was perhaps now or never.  ‘We will see what will be,’ Saruviel thought to himself.  ‘We will see what will be.’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Having received the news that Saruviel was agreeable to a game of Katchular, if only at Kalphon, Michael began making plans for the short trip.  Often he travelled the realm alone,  sometimes with his personal assistant Cindradel, and sometimes with Ambriel in tow.  As it was a non-business affair, he had no need for Cindradel, but had decided that if Ambriel was free, he would invite him.  Ambriel was now the chief social-worker and head of spiritual duties at Zaphon keep.  When the realm had initially been expanded, Raphael had gone to Mitraphon, leaving Zaphon without a worker in the position.  The small team had broken up, and it had been decided that it would be Ambriel who was to remain behind at Zaphon, ministering to both the old and new brethren to come.  That had silently pleased Michael.  It was not that he did not value the work of all of Raphael’s team, but rather that he had built up a strong relationship with Ambriel, and would have been sad to have seen him go.  When Father had suggested Ambriel remain behind at Zaphon, Michael had been silently thankful.

 

The afternoon before Michael was due to leave for Kalphon, he made his way towards the offices where Ambriel and his team worked.  Ambriel was the only Seraphim amongst a team of seven workers, the remaining Cherubim having been selected at Mitraphon by Raphael and Loquiel.  They had proven ideal choices, Michael gaining feedback from Ambriel and others about the effectiveness of the new team.  Having made the short walk from his own den, Michael entered the offices of Ambriel, to be greeted by the Cherubim Sandra.

 

Michael, how good to see you,’ she said, as Michael entered the room.  ‘Do you wish to see Ambriel?’  ‘That is the nature of my visit,’ replied Michael.  Sandra got to her feet and motioned Michael to follow her.  ‘I’ll see if he is free,’ she said, turning into Ambriel’s office.  A moment later Ambriel’s face appeared at the doorway, the inevitable smile showing.  ‘Michael,’ he grinned.  ‘Come in.  Come in.’ Michael walked past Sandra, and took a seat in Ambriel’s office. ‘Would you like something to drink,’ Sandra asked Michael from the doorway.  ‘No thanks.  I’ll be fine,’ replied Michael.  ‘Sure,’ said Sandra, who turned and made her way back to her desk.  Ambriel returned to his desk, moved some papers out of the way, and looked up at Michael.

 

Well, what may I ask brings you to visit us this afternoon?  You’re not in need of counselling are you?’  ‘No, nothing of the sort,’ replied Michael.  I have actually a favour to ask you.  I will be visiting Kalphon soon and was wondering if you would like to join me for the trip.  I am actually leaving tomorrow, so I know it is quite short notice.  But if you can join me, I would appreciate the company.’  ‘How long will we be gone?’ asked Ambriel, smiling.  ‘Thanks for that,’ said Michael, appreciative at Ambriel’s response.  ‘Well, we will probably only be at Kalphon for a day or so.  But it is an important visit.  Quite important actually.’  ‘Is Saruviel having problems?’ asked Ambriel.  ‘You could say that,’ replied Michael.  ‘You sound concerned,’ said Ambriel, noting the tone in Michael’s voice.  ‘Is there something wrong with Saruviel?’  Michael looked straight at his younger brother.  ‘Yes, Ambriel.  There is something wrong with Saruviel.’  Ambriel nodded, and sat back in his chair.  ‘Is it something that you can, or would like to discuss with me?’  ‘I suppose I should,’ replied Michael.’

 

You will likely find out for yourself anyway.  The nature of the problem is this.  Saruviel has been questioning his position in the realm.  It seems that he is unsatisfied with the way things are being run, and he would like to see changes.  Major changes.’  Ambriel nodded.  ‘What type of changes?’  ‘Saruviel feels that he no longer has a use for God’s authority over him.  He wants to, from what Gabriel told me, control his own destiny.  To be the master of his own affairs.  Quite simply, Ambriel, he doesn’t want God to be his God any more.’  Ambriel looked away for a little while, contemplating what Michael had said to him, before returning his gaze to his brother.  ‘That indeed does sound like a problem.  May I ask, have you any idea how you will handle this situation?’  ‘Well, I have planned this trip to Kalphon.  Officially it is only for a game of Katchular, but I think that both Saruviel and I know that is for more than that.  When we get there I will talk to my younger brother and find out for myself what exactly he has in mind.  Once he has confirmed it with me face to face, I’ll decide from then on.’  ‘Probably wise,’ said Ambriel.  When we get there do you want me to sit in, or is it a private affair?’  ‘I would like you to sit in actually, if Saruviel has no objections.  Afterwards we will be able to discuss the matter.  I can tell you now that if what Saruviel has apparently said proves true, then I will likely have to discuss the matter with Father.  The matter seems of that much importance to me.’  ‘Quite possibly,’ agreed Ambriel.  ‘Well, what time are we to leave?’  ‘I was thinking right after breakfast.  We’ll take the usual route. Lunch at Yalphon with dinner and the night at Windraphon.  From there we should be able to make Kalphon by mid-afternoon the following day.’  ‘That sounds okay,’ replied Ambriel.  I’ll be ready after breakfast.’  ‘Thanks,’ replied Michael.  ‘I appreciate it.’ 

 

The two of them spoke for some time more before Michael excused himself, and returned to his office.  Sitting at his desk he was grateful for Ambriel’s company, and thought on the visit ahead.  ‘We will see what Saruviel has on his mind,’ Michael thought to himself. ‘We will see.’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

The game had tossed to and fro.  At first Saruviel seemed to have the edge, following his usual game plan of relentless attack, but gradually Michael had worn him down, making smarter moves as the game progressed.  Eventually it had come down to one crucial move, which Michael had hoped his opponent would make.  To his good fortune he had, Michael making the then important move to take Saruviel’s last black marker.  Saruviel looked up at his older brother, the picture on his face telling everything.  It was not long later that the game ended with Saruviel removing his last marker from the board, as game etiquette dictated that he could.

 

After a few moments silence, Saruviel looked up at his older brother.  Well played Michael.  Maybe it is only me, but you seem to have improved since last time we played.’   ‘I must confess that it is more a matter of me trying to understand how you play the game,’ replied Michael.  ‘I have studied your style of gameplay for a number of years, trying to work you out.  My victory is perhaps the fruit of that’.  ‘That’s one way of doing it, I suppose,’ replied Saruviel .  Ambriel, who had remained silent as the game had progressed, spoke up.  ‘I think it should be well played both of you.  You both gave an extremely competitive performance.’  ‘Thanks Ambriel,’ said Saruviel.  ‘Yes thank you,’ echoed Michael.  Saruviel then began to pack away the markers into a small box, Michael soon helping him.

 

With the game over, Saruviel got to his feet and stretched a little.  ‘Well, I must say I enjoyed our little game.  We must do it again sometime.’  ‘We must,’ agreed Michael.  After a moment’s silence, Michael looked at his brother, and decided it was up to him to break the ice.  ‘Saruviel’.  ‘Yes, Michael,’ Saruviel replied.  ‘Is there anything you would like to discuss with me?  Anything at all?’  ‘Saruviel looked squarely at his brother.  ‘What do you mean Michael?’  ‘I mean, is there anything you like to talk to me.  Anything about God?  About God and the way things are run here in our realm?’

 

Saruviel looked straight at his brother, and then downwards.  After a while he looked up at him again.  ‘You’ve heard then, have you?’  ‘On this subject, yes.  Gabriel and Davriel spoke to me about it at Terraphon.’  ‘May I ask what precisely they told you?’  ‘Well, more or less they told me that you had been having problems with God’s authority over your life.  Gabriel said that you had said something about gaining your own freedom.  Wanting to be independent of God.  Is this true?’  ‘I wouldn’t put it exactly like that,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘If you will, let me explain my position to you.’  ‘Go ahead,’ said Michael, anxious to hear what his brother had to say.  ‘Well let me first begin by asking you a question.  Who is above you in the realm of eternity?’  ‘Well, God is,’ replied Michael.   ‘Yes,’ agreed Saruviel.  ‘And why is that?’  ‘Well, because he made us, I guess,’ replied Michael.  ‘Yes, he made us,’ said Saruviel.  But why, may I ask does that entitle him to lordship over us.  Simply because he brought us into being.’  ‘I don’t know. I guess it just does,’ said Michael, confused at his brother’s comment.  ‘But why should that be so,’ continued Saruviel.  ‘Certainly, God made us.  And for that I will always be grateful.  But the fact of the matter is, now I exist.  And in my own existence isn’t it up to me to decide how things will happen in my life.  God is God, that is true. But I am Saruviel.  I am my own being, with my own mind.  And God is not me, so God cannot make the decisions I make.  It must be up to me to make them for myself.’  ‘But God is our guide,’ interjected Ambriel.  ‘He is our Father and our teacher.  Surely we must listen to him first and foremost.’  ‘Certainly, I would listen to him,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘But why should that mean I do everything that he tells me to do?  Aren’t I now old enough to be able to work out for myself what it is I can and can not do?  Am I not responsible enough to decide my own fate?’

 

Michael looked squarely at his brother before responding.  ‘I think I have some understanding of what you are driving at, Saruviel.  But what you don’t understand is that the Torah is clear on the subject.  God, our Father, is our Lord.  It states it quite clearly.  And unto him we owe our eternal allegiance.  It is as simple as that.’  ‘There is no need to lecture me on the Torah,’ replied Saruviel.  Like you I am quite familiar with its teaching.  But who gave the Torah?  God did, didn’t he?’  ‘What do you mean by that?’ said Michael, caught off guard by his brother’s comment.  ‘The Torah was made by God to suit his own purposes,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘In my opinion it doesn’t take all of our needs into account.’  ‘Surely you can’t be questioning God’s motives,’ replied Michael.  ‘I simply know that he only wants what is best for us.  For all of us, including you.’  ‘Perhaps,’ said Saruviel.  ‘But I do have my doubts.’

 

As I see it, the Torah was made by God to control us.  It doesn’t allow to us that one thing we will all eventually need anyway.  Our complete freedom.’  Michael looked at him for a while before responding. ‘And what exactly is this freedom that you speak of?’ said Michael.  ‘Everything,’ said Saruviel.  It is our own choice, it is our own destiny, it is our own life.  All completely up to us.  It is the opportunity to make mistakes and learn about them for ourselves, without having to forever give an account to our Almighty Father.  It is the ability to think for ourselves, to reason for ourselves and to come to our own conclusions for ourselves.  And then the freedom to act upon them, without the interference of others.  Without the interference of Almighty God.  That is what freedom is,’ said Saruviel.  Michael looked directly at his brother for a short while and then looked away.  Eventually his gaze returned to Saruviel.  ‘And this is what you seek then?’  Complete freedom?’  ‘Putting it simply, yes,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘I see,’ said Michael, the silence resuming. 

 

Eventually Ambriel spoke up.  ‘But don’t we have freedom already, Saruviel?  I mean, I am generally free to live as I please.  I could not say that God really interferes that much.  Wouldn’t you agree Michael?’  Michael looked at Ambriel, then  back towards Saruviel.  ‘Yes Ambriel.  I would agree.  This freedom that you seek, Saruviel, I would say that we already have.  Only with that freedom comes responsibilities that God has entrusted to us.’

 

It does not surprise me that you think that way,’ replied Saruviel.  ‘You’ve been trained to think that from birth.’  ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ said Michael, taken aback at his brother’s comment.  ‘Exactly what I said,’ said Saruviel, not backing down.  ‘Since we were young God has trained us to believe that everything we need can be found in doing his will.  It is, as I said before, his way of controlling us. To get us to do exactly what he wants us to do.’  ‘And what is wrong with that,’ said Michael, now annoyed at his brother’s comment.  ‘Nothing at all.  Nothing, that is, if you don’t mind being pushed around like a marker in a game of Katchular  by an omnipotent creator.’  Michael looked at his brother, a look of frustration on his face.  ‘Look Saruviel, I really don’t think it is that way at all.  God loves us.  He only wants the best for us.  And his Lordship over us is to guarantee that.  He takes no pleasure in pushing us around, as you seem to be implying.’  ‘I suppose that is where we disagree, said Saruviel.  God made us for his pleasure.  Nothing more than that.  And our obedience to him is how he gains satisfaction.  Which is where I object.  I am my own person.  With my own life and my own will.  And I will not be subject to the whims of God any more.  I will decide in my life what it is I shall do, and how I shall do it. And if God does not like that, then it is simply unfortunate.’

 

Michael looked at his brother in silence, taking what he had said in.  Eventually he responded.  ‘I feel now, Saruviel, that you need to speak with Father.  I honestly believe that you are misguided in what you are saying.  Father can help you to understand things from his perspective.  That will help you, I am sure.’  Saruviel smiled.  ‘Yes, I will speak to Father - eventually.  But not for now.  For now I have other things to attend to.’  ‘What other things,’ said Michael sharply.  ‘Why, presenting this choice to others.  It does not surprise me that you are terribly loyal to Father.  I expected as much.  But I am sure that not everyone will agree with your viewpoints.  I have already gained the support of a small number, and I am sure that number will grow. Once more of the brethren hear what I have to say, I am sure they will agree with me.’  ‘Do you really think it is wise to spread these ideas, Saruviel?  You have seen how myself and Ambriel disagree with what you are saying.  Don’t you think that the other angels will agree with us?’  ‘That is what I would like to find out Michael.  Unlike you, I believe the brethren have a right to make a choice  A choice of who they serve.  To be forever under Father’s Lordship, or what is their right.  To live their own life as they see fit.’  ‘And this is what you will do then?’ said Michael.  ‘As I have begun, so shall I continue,’ replied Saruviel.

 

Michael looked at him for a while and then looked down.  ‘Very well then.  It seems we are at a disagreement.  You should probably know that I will be speaking to Father about this. He must know what it is you intend doing.’  ‘Of course, replied Saruviel.  ‘I expected you to do as much.  ‘You should also know that I think it most unwise, what you are doing,’ said Michael.  ‘That surprised me not, Michael.  Yet to each their own fate.’  ‘Yes, we shall see of that fate,’ replied Michael.  ‘We shall see.’

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Michael and Ambriel remained at Kalphon for the remainder of that day and spent the night.  Early next morning after breakfast they started the long trip back to Zaphon.  Saruviel. saw them off, wishing them a good flight.  Whatever else, his brother was still quite hospitable, Michael thought to himself.  Kalphon was one of the closer keeps to Zaphon, the trip by air taking only about a day and a half.  The keep Windraphon was about half way between Kalphon and Zaphon, and initially had been placed there to be a stop-off point between trips.  As usual, Michael and Ambriel spent the night there, being again greeted by the keep’s overseer, Jalmono.

 

That night, Michael found sleep difficult to achieve.  the situation with Saruviel kept him up half the night, his thoughts tossing to and fro on how to deal with the matter.  The following morning at breakfast he decided to seek counsel with Ambriel.  Michael was at the dinner table first, Ambriel joining him after a short while.  ‘Good to see you this morning, brother,’ Michael said as Ambriel took his seat.  ‘Thank you, and you too,’ replied Ambriel, ever polite.  ‘Ambriel, if you could, I am in need of some counsel.’  ‘Certainly,’ replied Ambriel.  ‘What’s the problem?’  ‘The situation with Saruviel.  We haven’t had an opportunity to discuss it since we left Kalphon, and I need someone to talk to about it.  ‘Yes, it is a most disturbing situation,’ said Ambriel.  ‘Disturbing, to say the least,’ replied Michael. 

 

The thing I would like to know is where has it come from.  Saruviel has never mentioned before any problems he has been having with God’s authority over us. It is as if this thing has come out of nowhere.  Wouldn’t you agree?’  Ambriel took a moment before answering.  ‘I think that something like this, given how serious it is, is something that could not have happened overnight.  Saruviel must have been having thoughts like this for some time.  Where they have come from I cannot say, but somewhere along the line they must have begun.’ Ambriel paused before continuing.  ‘I actually have a confession to make.  A number of years ago Kalphon’s chief social counsellor, Salmon, had words with Raphael regarding Saruviel.  From what Raphael shared with me it seemed that Saruviel was going through a phase of withdrawal.  Keeping his distance from his brethren.  If you do remember, he went though a similar phase when we were much younger and living at Zaphon.  I may be wrong, but it could be from such a phase that Saruviel’s dilemma has emerged.’  ‘Really,’ Michael nodded.  ‘But what could cause such a thing.  Where does such questioning come from?’  ‘That I can’t really say,’ replied Ambriel.  ‘But from what I know of Saruviel, it seems to always have been part of his nature.  He seems to question the deeper things in life.  He seems to search for meaning, from what I have gathered.’

 

Well, he seems to have found that,’ replied Michael.  ‘It is just the type of ‘meaning’ that he has found that worries me.’  ‘I know what you are saying,’ agreed Ambriel.  ‘It would seem our brother has developed a particularly strong viewpoint on life  One, I am afraid, that might take some effort in changing.’  ‘Yes, said Michael, pausing as the breakfast trolley was wheeled to their table.  ‘Well, breakfast is here.  But after we have eaten I would like to continue this conversation.’  ‘Of course,’ replied Ambriel, always willing to counsel others

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Saruviel sat in his office, as the late afternoon light streamed through the window.  That morning he had seen Michael and Ambriel off and then got to the day’s duties.  The day nearly over he could take time to contemplate things.  The conversation with Michael the day before had gone somewhat as planned.  As he had expected, Michael was fiercely loyal to his Father.  This was not surprising.  Michael was Firstborn of the Seraphim - the oldest angel in the Realm, and next in line to God in authority.  He had been trained since birth to both take orders and give them.  Being part of the hierarchy was something that was likely ingrained into Michael’s character - something that would take a great deal of persuasion for him to give up.  That he ultimately would do that, Saruviel doubted.  Michel would likely remain loyal to God forever.  It just seemed to be the way he was made.  And as for Ambriel, he too would likely remain loyal to God.  From what Saruviel sensed of his attitude towards his beliefs, Ambriel would also likely remain unconvinced of the truth of Saruviel’s arguments.  Still, this was to be expected in the end.  His viewpoints were new to the angels.  And it was doubtful, perhaps inevitably so, that all would agree with his ideas.  Still, from what he had seen, some had agreed with him.,  And for them he would continue to work.  For them he would continue to strive, to bring them the precious freedom he so dearly believed in.





Chapter Sixteen – Linda the Cherubim 

And time passed. And the Cherubim had come to be. And Linda was a cherubim, and Saruviel had a fascination.

'Hey babe.'

'You again,' said Linda, looking at the Seraphim of Power. 'Wanting to rule the world, so they say. Don't ya.'

'Do you like girls?' asked Saruviel.

Linda looked at him squarely. 'And what is that supposed to mean?'

'Girls are a rush,' said Saruviel. 'I have the time of my life with the ladies.'

'You are a devil, arentcha,' she responded.

'Perhaps you could be one too,' he grinned. 'Takes a devil to know a devil,' he said.

She looked at him. 'No thanks. I have enough freedoms.'

'You really don't know what you are missing. I know these Cherubim girls. They'll do anything you want. Literally.'

'I'm sure they will,' said Linda. 'But I'm not interested.'

'Maybe some other time,' said Saruviel, and came over, kissed her on the forehead, and said. 'I want you Linda. For my team. I NEED you. Your one of the best. Noticed you right away.'

'Sure. I'm sure you did,' she said nervously, after being kissed by Saruviel.

'We'd be magic together,' said Saruviel.

'What's magic?' she asked him innocently. A voice in Saruviel's head went silent.

'Uh, nothing babe. Don't worry about it.' But, as he started walking away he turned to her. 'I'll be seeing you, babe. You can count on it.'

'Sure,' she said, and continued on with her raking up the leaves. But she looked at him as he walked away, and she thought on what he had said.


* * * * *


Daniel sat with Semambarel in the cafeteria of Zaphon, eating baked Langwah for dinner with vegetables.

'So. Semambarel. Caught up with Saruviel's agenda. What do you make of it, then?'

'You should know. Your an Evening Star, aren't you?'

'I think I'm a Morning Star now,' replied Daniel. 'Not sure if I like the direction Saruviel is headed in.'

'You'll always be an evening star, one way or another,' responded Semambarel, and took a sip of Melit water.

'You sure you agree with Saruviel?' asked the 45th male of the Seraphim.

'No. If you really must know, no. I'm not sure. And that is the point. I think, perhaps, I need to find out. To find out if I'm sure or not.'

'You think that is wise?' asked Daniel.

'You and Kantriel are still best friends,' said Semambarel. 'I don't see you objecting to his company.'

'We've had a parting of the ways, recently. A few months back. Valandriel and myself have taken up a friendship since then.'

'Oh, yes, Valandriel,' said Semambarel. 'He's probably good for you. Similar viewpoints. Likes your ideas, from memory. Thinks you have insight.'

'Thanks,' said Daniel, and sipped on his own Melit Water. 'I've always liked this Melit water, you know,' said Daniel. 'Pure. Good. The Melit fruit is lovely enough on its own, but the water juice from it is amazing.'

Semambarel looked at Daniel. He could tell when his brother was making a point.

'But Saruviel. Is he really Melit Water? Or something more difficult to palate?'

'Grog, perhaps,' said Semambarel, chuckling.

'Perhaps,' replied Daniel.

'Don't worry. I don't drink much,' said Semambarel, about the new alcoholic beverages that had been recently coming into the realm.

'But perhaps Saruviel does,' said Daniel.

Semambarel looked at him squarely. 'You know, Dan. Perhaps he does indeed.'

'Yes,' finished Daniel. 'Perhaps he does indeed.'


* * * * *


'Take a walk on the wild side, babe,' said Saruviel to Linda.

'You again,' she said. Linda was out in front of her Terraphoran abode, not far from the Sellawon river, a place she lived in on her own, not far from a place where she got her food resources. She gardened a fair bit, and was raking up leaves the last few weeks, as she liked a clean garden.

'Life with Number Seven is a rush, sweetie. I don't come on to every chick, you know. Very few, ok. Krystabel has never really tasted my charms. She's ok, but very square. God's idea, I think.'

'And you want to party,' smiled Linda.

'Sure you can provide the thrill as well,' said Saruviel. 'I've got some grog,' he said, lifting up two bottles of alcohol.

'Sure then. Come inside.'


They sat in the front room for some time, eating Langwah and drinking the grog, and Saruviel started making his move. He kissed her, then asked to see her breasts. And as his tongue caressed them, he talked her into unzipping. He tongued away at her Vagina, which usually caused a mild sensation of pleasure in women, and sometimes they felt quite strong sensations, and they made out. He even managed to talk her into returning the favour and, after five minutes of her tonguing his phallus, it got a little bit hard, which occasionally happened from such ministrations, and he had that rush of feeling that heavy lovemaking sometimes gave.

'I feel this sensation. In my loins,' he said. 'Don't stop babe.' And she kept at it for a while, but then it passed, and Saruviel knew it would be ages before he would feel such things again.

He kissed her. 'You were sweet. I love it when girls do that for you.'

'Any time,' said Linda.

As they got up, Saruviel ready to leave, he pinched her on the butt. 'Your hot, you know. Fancy you something shocking.'

'It must be love,' she said dryly. He grinned at that.

'Nah. Not love. Just lust. The good stuff in life.'

'I'm sure you actually mean that,' she said sarcastically.

'Unlike Michael, I admit the truth. And my fascinations.'

'I'm sure you do,' said Linda. 'Can I have the rest of the grog?'

'Be my guest,' he responded. 'Oh. One last thing. We're having a meeting. Next month on Galadon. Discussing the future of the movement. Are you interested?'

She looked at him and, finally, after the turmoil the issue had cost her in recent thoughts, shrugged. 'May as well,' she replied.

'Cheers,' responded Saruviel. 'But I'm sure we'll meet before then.'

'Let's hope so,' she responded, as he made his way out of her house and back to his own world.


She sat there, as the darkness encroached that afternoon, drinking the grog, and getting slightly drunk. What the heck was she getting herself into? What strange new world would Saruviel take her into? She kidded herself that she'd be fine, but a still, quiet voice said in the corner of her mind, are you sure you know what you are doing, girl. And, in all honesty, she could not say that she did.


* * * * *


'The Quest for holiness,' continued the speaker. 'The quest to be true to ourselves, above all else, is to know that we, in our own strength and being, are the equal of God and that we, in our own strength and being, are just as important and valid as God. His vanity is amazing, isn't it. Make himself the centre of Torah. As if all depends on himself, and we could not shit without him.'

That brought some giggles from the crowd.

'And I tell you, perhaps I could not give a shit about him, these days. He is a control freak. A being which must omnipotently push us around, like a grandmaster of Katchular, and not give one damn to our possible objections or that we might jolly well have our own damn idea on this or that, and that we might and can, and in fact DO think for ourselves.'

A cheer went up from the crowd and Linda, near the front of the audience on the Kalphon lawn watched her man anxiously. She'd heard a lot of this rhetoric in the last week especially, when he'd been coming around all the time, making love, and freely speaking his mind. But his passion in front of this crowd was amazing. She was hooked.

'No, I tell you. We are no longer so gullible as to believe everything the Lord God Almighty might have to say. We are free beings. And we are thinking beings. And the future is OURS!' he yelled, the last words carrying well around the grounds.

A cheer went up again, and Saruviel stood down from the dais, and people went up and crowded all around him.

He noticed her, and he waved to her, and Linda was entranced. Magnetic attraction at its most powerful – and seductive.


Later on, when the core of Saruviel's elite were inside his office in Kalphon, Saruviel was speaking.

'Soon, friends, we make our first decisive move. I'll let you know the details soon enough, but it won't be this cycle anyway. But soon enough. And thanks, everyone, for making it today. We sent a message today to Zaphon. A clear one. We're not their servants anymore. Their pawns no longer. The future is OURS friends. The future is ours.'


When everyone had left, Saruviel poured himself a glass of grog, and came and sat next to Linda on the couch.

'You were powerful today,' she said.

'Thanks,' he said.

'You looked – like a God,' she said.

He grinned a wry smile.

She kissed him on the cheek, then, and got down in front of him, opened up his clothing and took out his phallus, and she pumped it with her hand for a while, and then orally sucked him for ages.

And he was in heaven for a while, the King of his whole Universe. The Master of his whole Domain.


* * * * *


A sharp knife was in her hand. She held it, looking at the picture. He annoyed her, now. He did more than that – he upset her heart, the deepest part of her soul. He had betrayed her. Her standing in the community.

Krystabel took the sharp knife and, looking fiercely at Elenniel's ancient and famous picture of Saruviel, hacked at the canvas, and plunging hole after hole into the what must be startled expression of her brother she knew all to welll.

'Take that, bastard,' she said over and over again, extremely upset. The Painting didn't survive very long.


It was Ambriel, who had been sent by God very quickly, to go and see his sister, who found her in the corner of the Pelnaphon artroom, huddled down in a corner, next to the destroyed artwork, sobbing softly to herself.

'Kryssie,' he said very softly. 'It's ok. It's me, Ambriel.'

She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. 'I hate him,' she said. Ambriel saw the destroyed picture of Saruviel, and knew instantly what to do. Carefully he picked up the picture, and the knife, and stored them out of sight, and then, returning to Krystabel, he helped her to her feet, and persuaded her to come to the emergency dorm of Pelnaphon, were an angel quickly attended her, giving her a bed, and looking to her welfare.


Ambriel sat with her.

'It's just,' she began. 'It's just that, well. I'm his twin. And will anybody ever respect either of us again? Oh, I love him. But he's gone off into something which is too big for him to handle. He doesn't know what he is getting himself into. And I'm suffering every day because of it.'

Ambriel put his arm around his sister to comfort her.

'It's ok,' he said. 'Everything will be ok. God is in control.'

She sniffled for a while and, eventually, starting to tire, rolled over and fell asleep. Ambriel watched her for some time, as she slept there, snoring very lightly, an Angel whose life had been torn apart. How many more angels would suffer as such under the wrath of Saruviel before this thing was over, he wondered to himself? How many more would find tears in their hearts and tears on their pillows? How many more broken souls? How many?


* * * * *


The Cherubim Noah was a revered Cherubim in the community. He had a way about him, a presence of character, and a devotion to God few other's managed. He was respected.

Yet Saruviel he did not respect, for the most part. In fact, for the most part, he disdained the fellow.

'What the heck is your problem, Seventhborn?' queried Noah, from the upper library lounge of Kalphon keep.

'Noah. I did not see you come in,' responded Saruviel.

'I came looking for you. Your recklessness has gone on long enough, big brother. I'm calling you to account.'

'To account for my beliefs, dear Noah? But they are only the truth. They are only the heart of what everyone wants in the end. You know.'

'I prefer God, his Torah and a clear understanding of what the creator requires of me,' responded Noah, sitting down opposite the angel. 'Do you have those priorities?'

'Obviously not,' responded Saruviel.

'Then I will say it,' said Noah. 'You are acting out of line. You are causing disharmony in the community, and angels are suffering because of your actions and deeds as well as your words. You need to get a grip on what you are really going on about, bro. Because nothing good will come of it.'

'You........JUDGE me?' queried Saruviel, an air of hostility in his voice. 'I only speak TRUTH fool.'

'Don't YOU call me fool. I may be younger than you, but my Torah knowledge probably already supersedes your own,' responded Noah.

Saruviel glared at him. 'Ok. What do you really want. If you think you have come to change my mind, think again. I won't be listening to the likes of you.'

'No. No, you won't, will you,' said Noah. 'Very well. Be stubborn. But I will pray, I tell you. Each day, until you are dealt with. And be it your own responsibility.'

'Go ahead, Noah. Pray.'

And Noah prayed. And Noah prayed.


* * * * *


Semambarel and Devuel were on the outer grounds of Kalphon keep, up the northern section, drinking grog and smoking tobacco.

'Love this stuff,' said Devuel, referring to the tobacco.

'It's ok,' said Semambarel. 'It makes me cough a lot, but I get a high when I smoke it. Feel really good for ages, but then my lungs start hurting if I smoke too much for too long, and I have to quit for a few months. The health angels say not to abuse the things. Could even kill you if you smoke them too much.'

'Kill us? I know what they say, the end of life. And God would have to bring you back. I mean, how does that happen?' asked Devuel.

'I have been told if you lost your head in an accident, or something else very severe happened to your body, you could die. It can kill you,' replied Semamberel.

'Devuel without a head?' thought Devuel to himself out loud. 'He might even make more sense that way.'

'I think I would have to agree,' said Luladiel, suddenly coming into view, approaching them from the keep.

'Hey babe,' said Devuel. 'Nice to see you again. Finally coming around to our point of view.'

'Saruviel's a nut,' said Luladiel.

'Or apparently not,' said Semambarel smiling.

'The only reason you, my dastardly twin,' said Luladiel to her twin Devuel of the Seraphim. 'The only reason you hang around Saruviel is to be cool. It is your ONLY motivation. To be one of the bad boys. Nothing to do with his beliefs, which you couldn't give two hoots about. Just your reputation.'

'You know me too well, babe,' replied Devuel, which got one of those looks from Luladiel which he knew all too well.

'Unfortunately, Yes,' agreed Luladiel, who sat down next to Devuel, took a bottle of grog, and started drinking.

'Daniel will be here soon, as well,' said Luladiel. 'Wanted you and Semambarel to know he has concerns, but that he can chill as well,' said Luladiel.

'We are not ALL Squares!' said Daniel out loud, coming over the small rise into view. He had grog with him, and two packs of Taylor Made cigarettes.

'Here,' he said, throwing a pack of ciggies in front of Devuel. 'Enjoy.'

'Awesome, Dan. About time you chilled again,' said Devuel.

'I ordered us some entertainment,' said Daniel. 'A lute player. Good one.'

Nadiel the Cherubim came into view a few moments later, carrying her lute, her prized possession, and as she started playing some of the classics and some of the newer tunes, they small group of Evening Stars, in the evening of eternity, enjoyed themselves, partied and, all things considered, had a jolly good time. And Saruviel's agenda was not even mentioned the once.


* * * * *


'Hey babe. She tastes good, doesn't she,' said Saruviel.

Linda lifted her head from between the legs of a cherubim girl. She had been engaged in – questionable activities - by the standards of society. 'Sure, sweetie,' she replied. 'Do you have a fag?'

'Better yet. Some dope,' he replied.

'Brilliant,' she said, and took a puff. She was high all night.


The following morning, the girls and the guys gone, she was alone in her bedroom when she woke. She went to the mirror and looked at herself. It was like another lady looking at her. Someone drugged up, high all the time, and out of their friggin minds. Literally. What the heck was she doing? Going Crazy?

'You look fine,' said Saruviel, coming into the bathroom. 'Woman always fuss too much about their looks.'

'I'm fucked up,' she said, looking at him honestly.

'Come on babe,' said Saruviel. 'What's life without a party? The girls are coming back over soon, and we have a fresh supply of grog.'

'I notice you never get to wasted,' she said sarcastically.

'Hey, I have to watch over a new movement. But my heart is with you,' he replied. Saruviel hardly ever touched serious grog or the other intoxicants.

He turned to her. 'You'll be out soon enough, right?'

Linda stared at him. This was it. Her life. Sure, she normally had something of a life. A now godforsaken twin who USED to visit her. A decent part-time job. Something to live for and be represented as in the community.

And now? An angel with a bad reputation, who looked even worse, and who felt? Well, enough to say who looked even worse. She was a wreck.

'Sure,' she replied to her dark lord. 'I'll be out later. Need to get some more sleep first.'

'I'll be in the other room,' he said. 'Look, don't worry babe. You'll be fine. Come on. It could hardly kill you.'

When he disappeared she looked again in the mirror and thought on his last comment. 'If only,' she thought sarcastically to herself. 'If only.'


* * * * *


Nadiel sat on the ground, her lute between her legs, dozing. It was cold, but she didn't really notice. She'd been partying, again, all night with the group, and Saruviel and Linda came and joined them last night. Nadiel felt her cherubim sister Linda had gotten a bit out of hand, and seeing her confirmed some of her fears. She looked a bit of a state, and the forced makeup was quite noticeable. She was a mess.

She woke, and the fire was still burning, the embers warming her feet, so she moved forward to gain some warmth, and wrapped her cardigan closely around her. Suddenly hands were there, putting her cardigan onto her, and putting a rug around her. It was Daniel.

'You know,' said the twin of Daniel the Cherubim, to Daniel the Seraphim. 'It might be ironic, but I think I like you more than my own twin. And your the SENIOR Daniel.'

Daniel smiled at her. 'Your a great girl yourself, Nadiel. I think we click in many ways. Lots in common, because Daniel and myself have similar ideas and sensibilities and something, as I said, just clicks between us. Chemistry, maybe, but respect I think. You appreciate intellectual sarcasm, and I like being appreciated properly.

She put her hand to her head, and giggled. 'Oh. And my winning personality?'

'You have a personality?' he asked her, and she laughed out loud. They did get along.

'Oh, shut up you two,' said Linda, opening bleary eyes. 'What time is it?'

'Morning. Just about,' said Daniel. 'Very early, but the light is coming in now.'

'Time for breakfast, sweetie,' said Saruviel, suddenly awake, to Linda.

'Oh, god no,' responded Linda. 'You'll only make me drink again.'

'Not this morning. Fried flapcakes and Honeyflower syrup. That's what I'll order for you from Kalphon's best cook.'

'Sound's tolerable,' said Linda, feeling a bit better.

'Are you sure you know what you are doing, Saruviel?' Daniel asked his older brother. 'I mean, all is well and good with the Freedom platform you maintain, but I didn't think your agenda was messing around with personal lives. Have you seen Linda's face? She's a wreck.'

Saruviel looked at her. 'She'll live,' he said sarcastically.

'Sure will,' replied Linda, and lit a cigarette from the burning fireplace.

'Yeh, she'll live,' said Daniel. 'But for how long?'

'Worry wart,' responded Saruviel, and kicked at Devuel and Semambarel, waking them.

'Come on, dudes. Farty face Daniel is preaching again.'

'What time is it?' asked a bleary faced Devuel.

'It's too early,' said Semambarel. 'Wake me in an hour.'

Saruviel shrugged, and as he stood and stretched, he looked at Linda. She did look a bit of a state, and he HAD noticed.

He turned to Daniel. 'You know. Don't worry Dan. I'll go easy on her today. Treat her right. I love her too, you know, bro.'

'Good to hear,' said Linda drowsily, getting to her feet.

As they stumbled off, the day starting to brighten, Daniel rested his head on Semambarel's legs, who was snoring loudly now, and said out loud. 'Another day of madness in the Realm of Eternity, hey Nads.'

She got up on his chest, kissed him on the mouth, and said 'And don't you love it.'

He kissed her back, and they woke Semambarel, and soon were chasing down the others, looking forwards to Kalphon's breakfast menu for the day.


* * * * *


But it wasn't enough for Saruviel, a freedom platform, and some preaching of his views. It was action he wanted. And then they missed assembly. And then some work duties. And then, separating, and not joining in with any of the regular activities. And, as time passed to Linda, whose face wore more and more the marks of what she only called decadence in her lifestyle, she came to realize that freedom without responsibility was a life which ended in pain. And she was suffering every day in the freedoms she now allowed for herself. Every single day.


* * * * *


They'd had their game of Chulara, or Katchular as it was traditionally called, and Saruviel had made it clear enough to Michael his views and the lengths he would go to to defend his freedom, and then God had spoken to Michael and told him his own judgement impending under the words of Raguel. And Michael had no real choice but to accept them.

'A Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,' God had said to Michael in a dream. 'And some partake far too soon.'

Michael was in Zaphon keep, on the ground floor, in the ancient small lounge area, sitting there, thinking. Just thinking.

Michael of the Seraphim was the firstborn angel of Eternity. In his life so far he had seen much and done much. But in all of that, the kind of rebellion, as it was called, that Saruviel and his cohorts were engaged in at the moment, was unprecedented. It had never happened like this before. Perhaps minor glimpses of such realities, in the same players even – but never such an extreme. Never.

And Michael didn't like it.

He was orderly, and lawful and complied with Torah and knew the wisdom and truth of God and that life was balanced on obedience to God and his will and, more importantly than anything else, knowing the eternal deity. Knowing him with all the strength within you. Because then you could emulate him, and grow in trust knowing his power and strengths. Which is were Saruviel threatened him for, in many ways, with all this talk of freedom and doing your own will, it only appeared to be the direct opposite of Torah and the opposite of all the sound wisdom Michael knew in his heart to be true. But it was oh, so alluring. Forbidden fruit, apparently, from his dream. Oh, so alluring.

He knew now, knowing the impending judgement of God, that Saruviel was getting what he deserved. That deep in the heart of Saruviel had been life lessons taught by God his father which Saruviel had both neglected and, in fact, ignored. Saruviel did not want to KNOW his God's opinion on these subjects and, further, he did not even CARE. He was his own angel, now, God had made apparent to Michael. And while that was, in the end, not necessarily a bad thing, the kind of reckless ambition that Saruviel was pursuing his ambitions of freedom for all with, well. Well in the judgement of God no good could come of it.

And yes, Saruviel would know that judgement soon enough.

Michael felt, in a strange way, lucky. Perhaps it was luck or, perhaps, it was just the way he had been born. The way God had made him. As if the fundamentals of Michael the Seraphim were not the choices of Michael the Seraphim, but a heart, fashioned in the eternal life of the wisdom of God, which knew the kind of decisions Michael would already make. And that Michael, when he made his choices, was only choosing as such because that was what he already was in his heart. That his lifelong decisions only ever reflected the wisdom of God in the way that God had made him.

But what then of how God had fashioned Saruviel?

What then?

No matter, the judgement had come and thus, Michael must verily assume, Saruviel was guilty. He must be. And so, for the next while, awaiting the judgement of God, Michael would act calmly, regularly, and not really voice his opinion on this matter again, till the judgement came. And then he need not speak any more regardless. It would be known to all.

He sat there, on a couch, thinking, looking into the space of Zaphon keep, oblivious to all, heavy thoughts in heart, heavy thoughts in his soul. Another day in the life of Archangel Michael, Firstborn Seraphim of the Realm of Eternity.


* * * * *


Saruviel sat in the darkness. Ever downwards, the dreams had told him. To be taken ever downwards and then, rest. Into a darkness which would be his abode. In a darkness that would be his resting place, from thence, till the judgement of God waned, if ever should such a think come to pass. For he had pronounced no time limit to his punishment, had the father of Glory, yet not pronunced it truly eternal. And thus, he waited in the darkness, Ambriel now visiting occasionally, speaking solitary words of the Realm, as he and Kantriel and Daraqel and the others dwelt there, in the darkness, that deathly night being their only friend.


He dreamed away most of the day, for there was nought else to occupy his time with, and conversation had run dry betwixt the fallen. They knew they had been judged, and sat there, doing their time of punishment, not knowing the days of the wrath of God, not knowing the days of their forgiveness, if ever a thing should be.


Saruviel burned for a while, in his pride. His pride defeated after some months of quiet, obvious now they would not be so soon forgiven, he sat there now stewing in revenge somewhat, but that too was dissipating. Mainly now just suffering. And questioning. Yet again, questioning. And an obvious truth became more so. He might speak of freedom. He might speak of absolute rights and sovereign wills, but there was one, undeniable, immutable, absolute utter truth, now, to his existence. God. And God did not necessarily view the matter with the enlightened wisdom of Saruviel.


Perhaps he had been foolish. He had cast that idea aside at first, knowing his wisdom infallible. But then, if infallible, why had it failed. Why had not – God – seen it his way?


So he suffered, and questioned, and, in this millennial abode of self-inquiry, forced by the hand of the Most High, he even contemplated, just a little, the wisdom of that God who had punished him so. Just a little, mind you. Just a little.


* * * * *


Linda looked in the mirror. It was gone, now, seemingly. Her youthfulness. And, perhaps, another intimate part of her being as well. But the best of her was still there, Linda still looked out proudly in reflection, now changed a great deal, now, strangely, a little older, a little wiser, a little more alert to the machinations of Saruviel the Dreaded One. When the judgement came, she had been much like the rest of them. Unprepared, shocked and a dismayed. But it was ironic. Life – simply – went on. Whatever would be, had been, and life – simply – went on. And she, with no Saruviel calling on her every other day, returned to something of a semblance of her normal routine. Her looks gradually improved, even though she still drank a bit. Her smell also improved, although the skin still suffered a bit from tobacco rash when she indulged too much. Yet, all in all, things were getting better. Things were getting better.

Her twin visited her the other day. Said hello. Said she looked better. She took that as a compliment. And she got her working position back, the part-time labour she did for the Ream, which was what usually earned her keep. She got back to it, and life, as she knew it, seemed to gradually be returning to its regular hum and drum. She was over most of it.

But still something lingered.

It was as if, in the heart of Linda the Cherubim, a fire had been lit, which had one word written on it. 'SARUVIEL'. And that fire would not be quenched by a sudden judgement, or a current departure from the realm. It would take more than that – much more – to do away with the magnetic hold the personality of Saruviel the Seraphim held on Linda the Cherubim.

Yet, for now, she had peace. For now, she had rest. And as the Realm of Eternity indeed got back to a semblance of order it had once known, she thanked God for small mercies. And, finally, for a decent night's sleep.



Chapter Seventeen - Allegiances

Months passed in the realm of eternity.  And as those months gave way to year’s loyalties and allegiances were chosen.  For Saruviel. there came a growing confidence.  A confidence in himself and in the path he had taken.  If there were any doubts that he’d had, they had disappeared when confronted with the growing reality that his viewpoints were indeed shared by others.  And in growing numbers.

 

At first it had been Semyaza and a few others that had initially shared his views.  But they had proved loyal to his viewpoints and soon others of the angels came to the same view.  Whether it was from the persuasiveness of the arguments presented to them, or due to the names attached to the beliefs, a growing number of angels came to share what Saruviel believed with all his heart.  Whilst Semyaza was particularly adroit at winning Cherubim to the cause, Saruviel had more difficulty with his Seraphim brethren. Apart from Kantriel and Daraqel , he had only been able to win about 10 of the  remaining Seraphim to share his viewpoints.  And while this still disturbed him somewhat, it did not surprise him greatly.  Michael’s influence amongst the Seraphim was great indeed.  Further to this, the Seraphim were the older group of angels and, from what Saruviel had seen, placed more trust in their God than the more susceptible Cherubim.  It lead Saruviel to make some conclusions about age and youth.  The older angels were more settled with their lives, and did not invite change easily, especially the kind of change that Saruviel spoke of.  However the Cherubim were still rather young – no so much in age, but in attitude - and had open minds to new ideas.  Such was the opinion that Saruviel had on the matter anyway.

 

One particular  Seraphim had been difficult to win, but had nonetheless eventually agreed with what Saruviel had to say.  Semambarel had tossed to and fro in his views, as had been evidenced from the number of conversations that Saruviel had had with him.  But eventually he had been won, giving Saruviel another much prized scalp.  But with Semambarel, Saruviel felt that he had seen the last of the Seraphim to join his cause.  The rest had been sounded out and remained hopelessly loyal to Michael and God.  Still, that was to be expected, and would not ultimately interfere with Saruviel’s plans.

 

And those plans were soon to see action.  It was one thing to speak of freedom, but another thing to actually have achieved it.  And Saruviel’s plan was now occupied with its first initiative.  New year’s day would come shortly.  As it was also a Melladon celebration, there would be a double celebration.   As was expected, most of the angels would partake in that celebration.  Which is where Saruviel saw his opportunity.  His plan was simple.  All that remained loyal to God would attend the celebration.  Those who now chose freedom, and to do as their own will dictated, would join him in abstaining from the celebration.  This would be the first decisive indicator to the rest of the brethren that those who chose freedom were indeed serious in their desires.  And serious enough to act upon them in a decisive way.

 

And from there, other events would happen.  These would be the beginning to Saruviel.  The beginning to the path of freedom that he so deeply desired.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Michael was not the first to notice the absence of many of the brethren at the new year’s day celebration.  But he had noticed, and not long into the event.  At first he was perplexed.  The gathering was down on numbers - that seemed obvious.  But why?  Where were the rest of his brethren?  As the night passed, he and a number of angels remained curious as to the less than usual turnout at the event.

 

The following day Michael sought information.  One of his Seraphim brethren in particular he had noticed had not been in attendance.  Devuel was normally a social enough angel, and it was probable that his absence would likely explain that of the others.  He found him the following morning at the breakfast table.  ‘Devuel, do you mind if I take a seat next to you.’  ‘Not at all,’ replied Devuel.  Michael took the seat.  As Devuel continued with his breakfast, Michael spoke up.  ‘Devuel, I couldn’t help but notice that you were absent at last night’s celebration.  You and a number of angels actually.  Is there any particular reason for this?’  Devuel finished off what he was eating before responding.  ‘Well,  if you must know, I had decided to forego celebrating new year’s day yesterday.  Not within my plans, you see.’  ‘Your plans?  What do you mean?’ said Michael, curious.  ‘Well, I guess I can tell you.  You will probably find out eventually anyway.’  Devuel looked straight at his brother.  ‘Michael, I agree with Saruviel.  What he speaks of is something I desire.  And yesterday’s absence was to do with that.  Saruviel. planned that all the angels around the realm who agree with what he has to say should be absent from yesterday’s celebration.  That is why I wasn’t there.’  Michael looked at his brother, slightly shocked at the news. 

 

At last he spoke up.  ‘But why?  Why forego new years day?  What purpose does that serve?’  ‘I think it is Saruviel’s way of signalling to the rest of the brethren that we are indeed serious in what we desire.  We want our freedom, and we won’t be constrained by any tradition in achieving that.’  Michael took that news in, then looked downwards towards the table.  Eventually he spoke up again.  ‘So it seems our brother has decided to do something about his desires. Still, I would have thought he would have eventually anyway.  But Devuel, why are you attracted to what he has to say?  Don’t you feel that your loyalties lie with Father, like the rest of us feel?’  ‘I just don’t view things like the rest of you,’ replied Devuel.  ‘Saruviel has spoken with me a number of times about what he believes.  And I find myself agreeing with him.  Freedom is our right, Michael.  It is something that every angel deserves.’  ‘Yes, I have heard that argument,’ replied Michael.  ‘I just don’t think you have taken everything into consideration, that’s all.’  ‘I think I have,’ replied Devuel.  ‘Regardless, this is where my instincts are guiding me.  I must follow my heart.’  ‘Indeed,’ replied Michael, unconvinced.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

On the edge of life, challenge the challenger.’  Section Three, Principle Five of the Seraphim Torah.  Azrael’s very own principle.

 

Azrael was the 27th Male Seraphim of the Realm of Eternity.  The 27th.  For a reason unknown to himself, whenever Jesus of the Cherubim was around he would talk about the Cherubim Daniel and say Azrael had something in common with him.  And, apparently, all to do with 27, which was quite a puzzle to Azrael.  And then there was a fellow called ‘John’ as well, but Jesus would not talk about it much.

 

On the edge of life, challenge the challenger.’  ‘Challenge the challenger.’

 

Saruviel.  He was the one, so everyone knew, who represented the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ in life.  The one who nobody could overcome, such being the fierce aggressive pride of this self-appointed pinnacle of glory.  But Azrael would overcome him.  Azrael was 27 – he would overcome this 7th angel, showing him the power of a Scotsman.  The power of someone who would not cave so easily.

 

Knocking on the door of Saruviel’s abode, he planned his words carefully.  Saruviel answered, smiling at Azrael.  ‘Come in, Az.  It is good to see you.’

Azrael entered, looked around, and sat down on a couch, Saruviel sitting opposite.

So, have you finally come to your senses.  Have you finally grown up, dear Azrael?’

The Scotsman looked at him.  ‘And, if in the infinite wisdom of Saruviel the Seraphim, the one who claims perfection against its creator, what sayeth ye to God’s claim of infinite knowledge?’

That he misuses it to his own advantage.’

And what say ye to his claim that he acts in everyone’s best interests, including yours?’

To his own advantage.  To create a system which he is still God, lord of us all, parading his vainglory.’

Azrael thought that over.  ‘So what?  He created everything.  Perhaps he has entitlements.  Perhaps that is just the way it is, huh?’

The way he has conditioned you to accept it.  Are we not children of God?  And are we not, now, divine because of it?  What need have I of the so called infinite wisdom of a dictator.  One who pushes around his Chulara pieces, as if he is the Sovereign of Eternity.’

Then what do you suggest, oh enlightened one.’

Self determination.  The right to self determination.  Is that not fundamental to our own lives?’

And what of harm?  What of the potential damage, in our own sense of self determination that we could do to others?’

Ahh.  So you are growing up, are you?  Mmm.  Well, I am perfectly aware of that, dear Azrael.  Perfectly aware of that.  I have already completely committed to such a reality.’

Then why not let the Sovereign Lord make his judgements?’

Oh, I will listen.  I do not neglect knowledge, especially knowledge of truth.  But I am cautious.  Most cautious.  Let him demonstrate his own wares, let him demonstrate his own witness, and if he has shortcomings I am sure they will be made manifest.’

And are you really the source of perfection?’

Is that your claim about me, dear brother?  Why thank you?’

Azrael smiled a little.  That wasn’t too bad a response.  ‘Yeh, well.  Ok.  I don’t mind God, but I will think it over.  I will think what you said over.  Bye.’

 

He retreated, caught off guard by answers which others had not been given, and decided to keep his own personal assessment of Saruviel of the Seraphim to himself.  Time would tell of the wisdom in that particular angel.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Over the next few months it became more and more obvious that the angels in Saruviel’s camp were indeed serious about their desires.  They were absent from the following three Melladon celebrations, and Michael expected absences from the upcoming fourth one.  It was no great surprise to him when that event went without all of his brethren in attendance.  Still, if this was all that his brethren intended doing in regards to their desires, then it posed, so Michael felt, no great problem.  He felt that eventually, with persuasion, he and the other angels who remained loyal to God could convince their estranged brethren to start attending the celebrations again, and return in loyalty to God.  So while Michael had this hope in his heart, he was not quite prepared for what came next.

 

To miss Assembly was, to Michael, an unthinkable thing.  Assemblies now took place twice yearly - once on New Years day and once on Mid years day.  The assemblies were gathered in the various throne rooms situated on the upper floors of all the major keeps.  God required all the angels to be in attendance so that an account could be given of all the major activities that had been undertaken in the preceding months.

 

When the Assemblies were first given around differing keeps, it perplexed Michael that God could handle them all at once.  But Davriel had told him that God was omnipresent - he was everywhere at once - and it was no difficulty for him to talk with different people at the same time.

 

When that years mid-year day assembly was called, only those brethren who remained loyal to God were in attendance  This, of course, disturbed many of the angels, and to Michael it was a sign that Saruviel and his followers were even more serious than ever in and the so called freedom that they sought.  All that he could wonder was what would come next.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

So, he has decided finally to act,’ said Sariel.  ‘Yes, it appears that way, replied Yasminael.  ‘Still, it’s not surprising,’ continued Sariel.  ‘Saruviel is a decisive kind of person, and it was only a matter of time before his beliefs saw action of some sort.’  ‘Inevitable, I suppose,’ replied Yasminael.  ‘Still, one wonders what will come next.’  ‘I’m curious about that myself,’ replied Sariel. ‘I mean, it is one thing to miss Melladon and Assembly, but what more could he possibly do?’  ‘That I don’t know,’ replied Yasminael.  ‘But I am anxious to see.’  ‘You’re not alone there,’ responded Sariel.

 

The two of them continued in conversation for a short while before Yasminael signalled it was time to leave.  ‘Well, I must be going.  I think I have kept you up to date with about everything that has been happening at Terraphon and around the realm.  If you are still curious about the situation with Saruviel, I am sure you can seek out Gabriel at home.  He will be only too pleased to see you.’ ‘I may end up doing that’, replied Sariel.  ‘And thanks again for coming around.  What you have shared with me has been invaluable.’  The two angels got to their feet and made their way out of the small keep.  Once outside Yasminael smiled at her brother, took a couple of steps and took to the sky.  Sariel watched her fly off for a brief while before returning inside.

 

Yasminael had arrived mid afternoon on one of her regular visits.  These usually occurred about twice yearly.  Normally, conversation centred  around affairs at Terraphon, with some news of the rest of the realm.  But this visit had seen news of a more important type delivered.  Sariel had already known about Saruviel’s desires.  Kantriel had first shared the philosophy of freedom with him about a year and a half ago.  Sariel had taken the news calmly, and had given it quiet thought.  However, when Saruviel had appeared to talk with him in person, he had already come to a number of conclusions about what Saruviel would have to say. 

 

The torah of course was clear on the subject, a fact which Sariel let Saruviel know quite clearly.  But Sariel had gone further than that. He had spoken with his brother with a clear message for him.  That of loyalty to their God and Father.  Throughout the conversation Sariel constantly reminded his brother of the simple fact that they were created beings, which Father had made to be his children. And more than that - his servants, if he so desired.  Saruviel gave little thought to what Sariel had to say, and they had eventually concluded their conversation being at loggerheads with each other.  However, from the conversation, Sariel was quite sure he had not heard the end of the matter, and when Yasminael arrived bearing the news that she did, Sariel was quite unsurprised.

 

Thinking about it, he now wondered what Saruviel’s actions would mean for the brethren throughout the realm.  Uncertainty was something which immediately sprang to mind.  He was sure that many of the brethren would be confused about Saruviel’s actions, and not know for sure what quite to make of it, especially the younger of the Cherubim. Even for the older brethren there would be confusion.  Michael must be greatly concerned he thought to himself.  And what his Father thought of the situation he had no idea.  Time would only tell, he thought to himself.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Jerahmeel, as Raquel’s right hand in the running of Brephon keep, had a great deal of responsibility to take care of.  Brephon handled a number of the various trades that the realm relied upon.  On top of this it assisted greatly in maintaining the largest farming sector of the realm.  There was always work to do, which pleased Jerahmeel enough.  That day he had just returned from visiting Ulnaphon, a new keep that housed angels who worked at the large farming sector.  The keep was running smoothly, and its residents were happy with the way it had turned out.  This pleased Jerahmeel as he had been personally involved in the project of its building right from the start.

 

He had spent the afternoon there making various inquiries, and had now returned to Brephon.  The last thing he had to do that day was make a report to Raguel on the week’s duties which had just come to an end.  Tomorrow was the seventh day of the week, the day of rest that God had ordained for all of the angels to rest upon.  The week had been a busy one, and Jerahmeel looked forward to the break.

 

After having made his report to Raguel, Jerahmeel made his way towards his dormitory.  Dinner would be in an hour or so, which he looked forward to, as he was particularly hungry that day.  Climbing the stairs up to the upper level, Jerahmeel thought on recent events.  Raguel’s birthday had been a good celebration.  And of course, there had been the most recent Assembly, and just last week a Melladon celebration.  Like most of the angels around the realm, the hot topic of discussion at Brephon had been the absences of a number of angels. 

 

When this had first started happening no one had known the reason for the absences.  But it had soon come to light that the missing angels were in agreement with Saruviel’s idea of freedom and had decided to act upon their beliefs.  This didn’t surprise Jerahmeel.

 

When Saruviel. had first approached him, Jerahmeel had been uncertain as to what to make of his ideas.  But he had given it some thought and eventually rejected Saruviel’s line of reasoning.  The bottom line for Jerahmeel was that what Saruviel talked about was out of harmony with the Torah, according to Jerahmeel’s understanding.  And that had ultimately been enough for Jerahmeel.  But his brother had persisted with him a few times to try and convince him of the merit of his belief.  Each time Jerahmeel had listened, but never quite found himself agreeing with what his brother had to say.   And that was still the way it was.

 

But apparently, Saruviel had indeed had success in winning people to his cause.  The absences from Melladon and Assembly spoke clearly of that.  This was a concern to Jerahmeel, and he had spoken with Raguel about it.  Certainly it was one thing for Saruviel’s angels to miss Melladon and Assembly, but what if it led to more that that.  What would happen if, hypothetically, the angels started refusing to show up to their work responsibilities.  This was a grave fear that Jerahmeel had discussed with Raguel, who was in agreement that it was a concern to be had.  Time would only tell what would happen.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Semambarel sat in quiet thought.  The afternoon had nearly passed and his work for the day had been completed half an hour ago. It had afforded him an opportunity for some quiet reflection, which he now enjoyed, seated at a stone table at the back of his small work keep.  ‘Was his decision the right one’, he thought to himself.  ‘Had he indeed made the right choice?’  Sitting there he had been contemplating that question. 

 

A short number of months ago he had finally acquiesced to his brother Saruviel’s ideology.  Freedom had been the keyword as far as Semambarel was concerned.  In all that Saruviel had said it was the idea of life - a life lived without any restrictions on his activities.  A life with the freedom to do as he pleased, when and how he wanted to do it.  This was what had appealed to Semambarel.  And so he had finally given into Saruviel’s persistence and agreed to follow the plan that his brother was to bring into motion.

 

But now, in quiet reflection, he still queried whether what he desired was right.  The Torah challenged him.  He was not quite like Saruviel who almost, these days, seemed to disdain its teachings.  He still held to it as coming from God, meaning to be a guide for life for the angels.  And Torah was clear.  God was their God - and they, the angels, were to serve him with their lives.  Which is why Semambarel was confused.  He could understand service - it was God’s way of preserving order in the realm.  But at what cost?  At the cost of the angels own freedom.  And it was that freedom that Semambarel found so appealing.

 

Sitting there he puzzled over his situation, wondering what he should do.  But inside he had already come to a resolution.  For now he would side with Saruviel.  Freedom was his desire, and he was prepared to act to gain it.  If, in time, another solution to his dilemma came to light, he might act upon it.  But for now he would go where his heart was leading him.  He had no other choice.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Shemrael sat in her office, the late afternoon light shining through the window.  She had finished for the day and was spending a few moments in quiet reflection. Her thoughts turned to her most recently added new assistant Jazrael.   She had been watching his progress for a number of months now and he had been coming along well.  Reports from angels to whom he had ministered were favourable, and Shemrael felt she had made a wise choice.  That pleased her, as ministering to the flock of Romnaphon was her job and she needed quality assistants to help her undertake the role.  And Jazrael seemed to fit the bill, which made her happy.

 

After a while she rose from her place and made her way out of her office.  Her other assistants in the office, Dorachel, Jenna and Radric had also left for the day, leaving her alone in the offices of spiritual ministry.  Making her way out of the office, she headed towards her dormitory.

 

Walking along she thought on her life.  Things were going reasonably well for her she felt.  Working at Romnaphon was always challenging.  Ministering to her brethren was a full time responsibility, but also something she took pleasure in.  She loved her brothers and sisters, and had a strong yearning in her heart to see that they were fulfilled in their lives.  This meant she had to take special interest in each of them, showing a never-ending supply of love and concern.  At times the work got to her. At times it was difficult.  But at those times she would talk to her fellow workers for counsel, or spend quiet time alone in prayer.  Often she would visit her Father in the throne room of Romnaphon.  Whenever she came into his presence she felt an immediate blessing.  God, so she felt, surrounded her with his love, and comforted her in all her concerns.  And, having talked with him for many long years now, she felt he was wise.  So incredibly wise.  He knew the right things to say, and the right things to do.  And he was so sincere with her.  He spoke plainly and directly, giving her simple solutions to difficult problems.  It was one of the reasons she loved him so much.

 

Reaching her dormitory she opened the door and went inside.  Her dormitory was home to three other angels, one of whom was lying on her bed reading a book.  Veldona looked up as her sister entered the room.  ‘Hi,’ she said.  ‘How was your day?’  ‘Oh, nothing out of the ordinary,’ replied Shemrael.  ‘But enjoyable.’ ‘That is good to hear,’ said Veldona, who then returned to the book she was reading.

 

Shemrael walked over to her space in the dorm and opened her cupboard.  Taking out a dinner tunic she placed it on her bed and began to change.  Looking over towards her sister, she spoke.  ‘What, may I ask, are you reading?’  ‘Oh, a book of poems. I got it from the library at Terraphon when I was visiting there last week.  It’s actually written by Uriel.  I didn’t know he wrote poetry, but as head of Pelnaphon I suppose it’s not that surprising.’  ‘Yes,’ said Shemrael.  ‘Uriel writes poetry.  He has done so since he was very young and living in Zaphon.  I remember Melladon celebrations in which he shared some of his poetry with us.  What is the title of that anthology?’  It’s called ‘Memories’ said Veldona.  ‘Memories.  I suppose it speaks of his past life, then?’  ‘Yes, it’s all about that, replied Veldona.  ‘It starts with some of his earliest poems from Zaphon days and then his life at Pelnaphon.  Really, some of them are very good.’  ‘Why don’t you read one to me,’ said Shemrael.’  ‘Oh, all right.  Let me find one.’  Veldona looked through the book before finding one she liked.  ‘Here’s a good one.  And very appropriate.  It’s called ‘My Sister Dearest.’

 

My Sister dearest

I cherish her so

I see her much

Wherever I go

 

She’s kind and sweet

And lovely too

I love her much

Indeed I do

 

Her heart is gold

Her love divine

I love her much

My sister, mine