The Night Watch

14

Soul-Eaters

(An Ongoing Saga by Steven R. Harrel)

(Taken from concepts found in “This Side of the Whirlwind”)

Though the peoples of that time would have referred to it as the Second Age of Men or the Second Age following the deluge, men today would refer to it as the year 2067 BC.  Regardless the demarcation or calendar it was the day Apollyon brought news of two great cities soon to be destroyed.

Standing on a minor mount near the city of Bela; a city also known as Zoara a malevolent and Fel Lord regarded the plains south of the Dead Sea.  The Beast’s perch overlooked ancient cities which provided clear views over all the valleys and peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah.

As the Beast haughtily surveilled the surrounding landscapes, Draconous, the Dark Prince, ruler over all the surrounding and ancient plains of Canaan guardedly ascended to ‘his’ precious summit.

Draconous is a Mulish-Demon whose jealous defense over his sovereignty seldom brooked usurpation or dismissal of his authority.  Lord Draconous currently ruled directly under the authority of Lucifer the Mighty, Prince of the Air, he who governs all principalities and powers and dark authorities whose presence desecrates both the surface of the Earth and the bowels of the Underworld.  At this moment he possessively though warily approached the interloper.

Cautiously Draconous spread his massive wings and noisily clambered towards the summit upon which the interloper stood. Silently Draconous fumed, ‘He dares usurp my position’ Snarling lips twisted in a malignant curse. ‘What will those menial-dogs think when they see this upstart standing on my mount… on my pinnacle… as if he were the prince of my sovereign domain?’ For a split second a thought crossed his wicked heart, giving him pause and a bit of unexpected trepidation, ‘What if my Master has sent a replacement!’ He quickly dismissed the absurd notion.

Adding insult to injury, Draconous could sense the usurper’s glowering contempt for him and his command; he stared openly and contemptuously as he ascended the mount. Draconous quietly fumed, ‘Who does this upstart think he is!  The impudent welp…’

The Dark Prince was just about to attack the impudent upstart when one of his servants, a Tribulation-Demon named Misery, flitted to his ear.

“Pardon me oh great Prince, but he who stands upon your mount is no less than Apollyon; the great and future Lord; the Beast who is yet to come; the dragon foretold to be ruler over all the earth during our great and victorious apocalypse; it is even he who will be the future destroyer of Saints and Martyrs, o — oh great Prince of Canaan!”  Astutely and pitifully Misery ducked Draconous’ choleric fist. He fumed.  “So what could he do following such unwelcome news?” He thought.  By sheer act of will, Draconous suppressed his boiling ire; leastwise, he attempted to do so.

“Haw!” Draconous contemptuously guffawed, then silently reviled, ‘Haw, and him, the Great and Mighty Beast to come… delivering messages to ME like he’s some common Sludge-Imp.’  Draconous could barely conceal his contempt as his enormous wings abruptly opened and closed in an attempt to conceal his rebellious actions.  He found it difficult to cover his snide chortles.

With barely a perceptible flick of his wings, Draconous propelled himself the remaining distance to the mount’s summit.  Wisely, however, he landed just outside of Apollyon’s lethal grasp.

Apollyon paced the summit fuming even as Draconous knelt before him, “You dare sneer, Draconous?”  The Fel Lord spared but a glance towards Draconous’ fained obeisance, “Do you know what today is, Little-Mule-Dung?” Apollyon’s contempt roiling.  “Do you know what will happen later this very day in your province, oh, Pus-of-Mules?” Noxious fumes plumed from the Beast’s cavernous maw even as he dribbled – oozed – spued venomous spittle down obese jowls.  His head was obviously Apollyon’s intended target as he showered Draconous’ face with pernicious sputum.

“No, Lord Apollyon,” Draconous said begrudgingly wiping volumes of spittle from his enormous face; Draconous recklessly rose to his full height.

The Beast ignored the potential afront as he turned his gaze out and over the plains. “Today is the day your little province receives a visit from, HIM!” Apollyon insolently pointed towards the heavens then openly snubbed Draconous’ arrogance with a small guffaw. 

“What!” Draconous gaped, putrid and foul froth aspirating from his cavernous and filthy maw. “What do you mean!”

“That’s, what do you mean, Lord Apollyon.”

“Yes, Lord Apollyon?”

Delighted with Draconous’ warble question, the Beast scornfully laid-out further instructions, “The King demands you strike a deal with the worshippers of Dagon in the cities below.  He commands you to strike this deal in the guise of that little Toad-Demon, Dagon.  Do you understand my instructions, Mule-Scum?” Apollyon continued without pause, “Tell them you will spare their miserable and pathetic lives, making them immortal if they will but swear fealty to Dagon.  Say I will be their glorious Dragon Prince and savior.” Apollyon mockingly laughed.  “Tell them they are to worship me by my true name, Abaddon.  Do you understand… Abaddon?” Apollyon laughed again before cackling profusely and directly into Draconous’ face once again, “Do You Understand Me, great lord – Draconous!” Contempt like spittle oozed from the edges of Apollyon’s flatulently teeming lips.

“Yes, my Lord Apollyon!” Draconous shouted with bile filling his throat and mouth.

Apollyon seized Draconous by his flaccid flesh and slowly drew his claws up Draconous’ sodden midsection and chest, “You dare raise your voice to me, Mule-Scum?”  The surrounding valleys reverberated with Apollyon’s shrieks.  Draconous struggled against Apollyon’s grasp, but the sheer force and power behind the Beast’s embrace could not be resisted.  The Beast drew Draconous irresistibly upward towards his face and then dug his talons deep into Draconous’ protruding chin.  “You will yield, yes?” He whispered!

Once released, Draconous fell to his knees with wings and arms forming a protective barrier over head and shoulders, “Forgive me, oh great Beast!  Forgive me, Fel Prince!” Draconous blubbered.

Apollyon returned his gaze to the plains of Zoara as if nothing had just happened, “That’s better.  Now do as you are told, Mule-Scum.” Apollyon quietly vanished.

Hatred, anger, contempt gripped Draconous as he lowered his arms and furled his massive wings. Cautiously, he scanned the horizon and plains for Apollyon’s presence. ‘How dare he? Who does he think he is?’ Draconous decided not to risk an audible rant.

It was the sixth day of Elul according to Abram’s people when his nephew ushered Senegal and Samayel into their modest home.  The doors bulged from the sizable crowd pressing for admittance and seeking access to their strange and new guests.  Senegal slammed the bolts in place before leaning against the door.

“I don’t think that door will keep them out, my Lords!” Lot’s eldest daughter cautioned. 

Senegal displayed only the slightest of concern.

Samayel fixed his eyes on Abram’s nephew, “How many are you, servant of the Lord?”

Abram’s nephew replied, “There are six.  My wife and I, our two daughters and their husbands.”

Samayel commanded, “Gather your family and only that which you can easily carry – for the city will be destroyed early on the morrow.”

Abram’s nephew then commanded meals to be prepared for their guests before dashing to retrieve their sons-in-law.  Within the hour Lot returned empty handed, explaining their sons-in-law refused to join their departure.  “It seemed the more I tried to convince them and assure them of the urgency the more they claimed I must be in jest.  I could not persuade either one to join our band regardless my entreaties.”

Suddenly renewed shouts came to the door as neighbors attempted to force entry, beating on their doors and shutters, demanding access to the strangers.

Lot’s wife, Edith fearfully cried out, “My Lords, I am afraid for your safety!  These are evil men clamoring at our doors.  Should they break thru I don’t believe we could stop them from assaulting or possibly sorefully mistreating you both.” 

Lot turned to his wife, “We must offer them our daughters; maybe then, they’ll be satisfied and not molest our guests.”

After hearing Lot’s fear and determination for their safety, Samayel and Senegal threw open the doors – slammed violently into the riotous crowd on Lot’s porch and began laying hold on the nearest protestor.  Within moments, men and women began screaming, clutching at their eyes and tearing at their faces.  People began falling to the ground as light and power erupted from the hands of the strangers and blinded any who looked on them.

Senegal turned to Abram’s nephew, “If there is anyone else you care to save, now’s the time, gather them!  We need to rally at once.” The strangers looked to each other before addressing Lot one last time.  Senegal spoke first, “Is there not another son-in-law or daughter or friend who might be willing to join you and your family?”  Their urgency obvious.
Edith responded, “I guess this is everyone, my Lord.”

Samayel glanced at the rising sun through the gates, “It’s time.  We must leave.”

Senegal grabbed several bundles and handed them to the girls, “Go!” Pointing towards the city’s gates.

Samayel gently began nudging the family out the door and onto the streets, “Take the shortest route south of the city; and by whatever means you can… now listen to me!  Do not look back at the city once the destruction has begun.  Once you’ve moved beyond the gates of Gomorrah, don’t – look – back!  Both cities will be razed this very day.  None will survive!  Any who look back at these cities will be severely punished.  Is that clear?”

They all nodded their responses.

The Angels pointed, “Now go, and do not look back no matter what you hear or think you might see.  Don’t look back!”

Min-Zippora ushered Elders Abinnar and Edomi, High-Priests to the temple, into the crowded Halls of Worship.  The priests Shiph-Ra, Gabnar and Bashan were already deep in their adulations, laying obsidian blades to their flesh in obeisance to their god, Dagon.  Sihon, Boaz-Ra and Gilmar were busy preparing the evening sacrifices even as Ahrãd and two of his Priestesses were directing drudges to stoke the vast furnaces beneath the imposing Altar of Beth-Dagon: god of death, the underworld, fertility and the harvest.

Just then, Elder Gabnar ran forward to the Portal of Dagon, the supplicant’s entrance to the Underworld.  Gabnar suddenly seized his head and began writhing and screaming in pain, “He’s in my head! He’s in my head! Help me!  Help me, he’s in my head!” Gabnar abruptly flung himself to the ground and started slamming his head against the porch pavers to the Altar.  He continued his howling, “He’s in my head!  Abinnar!  He’s, He’s, He’s in my… He’s in my hea-a-d, Abi-n-nar!” Gabnar’s voice trailed off as he fell unconscious.

Min-Naoni was the first to respond.  Everyone else stood transfixed by Gabnar’s strange actions and fading form.  Min-Noani launched herself towards her lover and Priest, fearing for his life, but before she could reach him Gabnar abruptly stood to his feet and pointed towards the great Altar.  Everyone turned to see what Gabnar was pointing at and discovered the transfigured image of Beth-Dagon shimmering several feet above the Altar.  Gabnar loudly commanded, “Bow before your master!  Bow before your god!  Prostrate yourselves before the mighty Dagon, Lord of the Underworld!” Once he’d finished speaking Gabnar fell limply into Min-Naoni’s arms.

The impressive thirty-foot image of Beth-Dagon stood floating above the great stone Altar, then suddenly burst into flaming glory.  The explosion caused the building to shutter from base to pinnacle.  For several moments, a silence enveloped the Hall of Worship, then deep within the shimmering idol a cracking – resonating drone began to emanate.  Supplicants swooned and collapse throughout the Hall even as the colossal furnaces beneath the sacred Altar erupted into flames.  Timbers and drudges, acolytes and priests, fire and stones were flung across the colossal room.  The furnaces were raging, burning, scorching white hot!  The dead and dying bodies of Acolyte and Priest alike lay strewn against the Hall’s inner walls.

Without further preamble the image of Dagon began to speak in a beautiful and enchantingly seductive voice.  From deep within the midst of the holy place an undulating and powerful presence hypnotically drew supplicants into the Hall of Worship and towards the burning image of Dagon.

“Bow before me.  Bow before me and tremble!  Bow before your god and fear for your souls; for I am Dagon; the only true and living god of the Underworld!”

Every conscious soul within the Hall fell to their faces and worshipped and cried and begged for mercy.  Many of the Priests and Priestesses began to crawl and grovel before the imbued image of Dagon. Cries rang out across the hollowed Hall.  Weeping and shouts of joy and terror erupted from every corner of the temple.  Every throat and newly wounded supplicant paid homage to the fearsome image of Beth-Dagon.

Draconous reveled in their worship, basked in their fear and adulation.  “After all,” he thought, “I deserve such devotion for I am their god.  I’m their Prince as ruler over all these regions far and wide.”  Draconous spoke again, “Priests and Priestess come forth, bow before me and I shall offer you a mighty and wonderous gift.”

With tears of joy and weeping hearts, with the offerings of fresh and blood every eye or wound or pore exuded homage before the steps of the Altar.

“I have decided to destroy your cities this very day.  But because of your great worship I have also decided to spare you, my faithful ones, my children, “IF” you will but swear eternal fealty to me, Dagon, your god!” Draconous smiled and salivated down his stinking jowls and festy chest; he could barely contain his personal amusement and pleasure.

In response to Dagon’s endowment the priests and supplicants continued all the more to weep and cut themselves in delight and adoration of their god who was blessing them with his presence.

“I, Dagon, Abaddon by name, do grant you immortality and power over the souls of your enemies if you will but commit your souls to me now and for all eternity!”

Outside the temple fiery brimstone began raining down on the city; flaming bowlders and fiery rocks slamming into the people and surrounding buildings, bulwarks, and temples. Voices from screaming citizens of Gomorrah carried into the temple expressing the panic and horrors experienced by those in the fray.  Sounds of terrified men and women mounted, echoing the death and destruction in every quarter of the city.  Fires were already raging as plummeting brimstone exploded and rained down into every part of the city destroying buildings and carts and crowds of people – laying waste to everyone and everything within the borders of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Draconous raised his voice over the carnage, “I am your only salvation this day.  I am Dagon, your god.  You will know me from this day forward as Abaddon the Destroyer.  What say you, my children, will you serve me now and forever?”

Just then a terrified acolyte burst into the Hall decrying the horrors he’d been witnessing throughout the city.  Unfortunately, only a moment later the portico exploded sending death and destruction thru the Hall, killing the acolyte and several other bystanders.  An earsplitting scream rang out near the Altar as the image of Dagon suddenly began to fade.

“Choose you now – whom you will serve!” Dagon’s image swelled. “Choose you now, I said!  Choose or die!” The image of Dagon continued to fade and shrink.

AS one the entire group of nine priests and three priestesses fell prostrate before their idol and proclaimed their fidelities to Beth-Dagon!  The assemblage watched in horror as the furnaces quieted and the image of Dagon suddenly winked out. 

In that moment the promises of priests and priestesses alike were sealed.  The moment their commitments left their lips an eternal contract was forged; in that instance, their souls were chained, entrapped in the service of The Beast to come. 

Only seconds later, the temple erupted in flaming fire, exploding under a massive fireball of smoke and divine destruction falling from the heavens!

Then there was silence, everything destroyed, everyone lay dead; only the crackling of flames and the settling of debris filled the smoking silence.

(Watch for the continuing saga!)