SINS OF REDEMPTION ©1034523
Novella 1. In the beginning.
Behold, all that thou has wrought!
"...Before the first age, there were others...
In the time when the angels of Shemyaza came to the world, mankind had already spread far and wide. There were ages before then and a time before the light when there was only the darkness. But this was so far back in the memory of this world, that all but a few have forgotten them. But the darkness has not forgotten us. "
And there was darkness.... vast and endless, a void without end....
This world as we know it, was born of light, bright and blinding, inhabited all at once by billions upon billions of stars, like so many candles flickering in the night. But before the stars, before the light and the moment of creation, there was darkness; there was them...
No one, not even the first angels, know or remember who or what, or where the darkness is. It is forbidden to seek it. Only one dared, and he paid a great price for just a glimpse. But in that darkness, there was life, there was them. Not life as we know it; not life, but living. Not breathing, but drawing breath. Not with form, but not formless. What we know is this; even angels who look upon the darkness are driven mad, incapable of reason and bent only on chaos and destruction thereafter. With just a glimpse, the light, that spark of creation within them, is corrupted forever.
So alien is this darkness to what we are, that creation itself had to be made wholly different. Thus, in one instant, in a moment of blinding explosion, there was light. It pushed the darkness back and so life as we understand it could begin. Our universe, its enumerable galaxies, countless stars and all of their worlds as with all the myriad possibilities all began. And thus, the darkness was forgotten, but it did not forget us. With unseen eyes, they watch. Their voices whisper from beyond with their chorus of discord and horror. Their tentacles, if that is what they are, reach into the light and touch any who would be foolish enough to listen to their cacophony of chaos and madness.
And so began the time of light, and the time of darkness was stayed so that life could begin.
The first creation was an act of immensity. The universe, our galaxy, its billions of stars, our sun and its planets, and our world. All of it. So great and vast was this act of creation that guardians were needed, custodians for the enumerable tasks: angels. And so the first angels came into being, and their coming was heralded by a song so great that they were inhabited by its music and power. Thus, they were given the divine spark, capable of free thought, action and free will. They scattered about immediately and began their tasks, which were numerous, but so were they.
And so our world slowly took form, transformed from fragments into a burning forge, and then cooled so that it could receive the gift of life. That life began small, very different from what we know today, but beautiful and wonderous nonetheless. And so the angels waited for the moment of wonder, for the breath and spark of divinity to inhabit therein.
It never came.
Something had happened, had stopped the light. And so, disappointed but undaunted, the angels began anew. Four times they helped to create life, each one more complex and defined, perfected from its last form. Four times the divine spark failed to awaken. Each time, something had prevented the fragile light of creation from reaching its goal.
A fifth creation was then undertaken, greater, grander and more complex than any before. But by then some angels wished to understand why the light could not awaken in these marvels. And thus awakened a moment of doubt, the first doubt. A question was asked and He went seeking answers. The first light, firstborn in the song of creation, the morning star, He wished to have an answer.
His brethren cautioned him, but he needed to know, so he went.
The light warned him, but the question remained, so he went further.
Creation told him to go no further, but free will is a gift of choices, so he travelled to the edge of the light.
There, he glimpsed into the void of darkness, beyond the light of creation. That one look, one glimpse, was all they needed. The morning star, first of all angels, brightest of all creation, returned with an answer.
They had done this, the darkness had halted the light. But the angels could change that, with this knowledge, they now had power. The next undertaking would not fail.
And so with a mighty crash descended from the heavens, the morning star ended the fifth attempt with plans to create anew. This time the light would reach this world, this time the divine spark would be awoken.
But some noted that he did not ask or wait to be told to start anew for so eager was he that he simply acted. And so he was given a new name by those around him; the angel of light. This was what he promised to bring to this world, the light of creation, the divine spark itself, and woe to the darkness should it try to thwart it once again.
So it was that a sixth attempt was begun and under the watchful eyes of the angels, life grew, changed and covered all the places of this world, high and low. Thus it went on for three ages and the light bringer watched and grew impatient. Until one day, at the rising of the sun, it appeared. Small at first, a faint light and barely noticeable, ever so dim, but there. The divine spark had taken root and begun to shine! A great music resounded in all the places of creation and beyond, filling all with a great joy, save one.
The morning star had returned from the edge of light with more than an answer and renewed purpose. He had known something new, an urgency born of fear. Thus this fear began to fill the small corners of his thoughts. It filled him with thoughts alien to his mind, thoughts of what the darkness might do, could do, to this precious spark should it ever be allowed to reach it again. It had done so five times before! This sixth creation could not, must not, fail. It had to be protected at all costs! He had watched it grow for three ages now, he would see it come to fruition!
So He gathered all his brethren who were of like mind and they armed themselves with thoughts of light and divine guardianship. And so a third of the angels began their task of protecting this precious gift, forsaking all other tasks save this one.
And life grew. It grew in numbers, purpose, form and being. But nowhere in all that life was the spark of creation brighter than in the creature called man. This life showed the promise of intelligence, of reason and thought. But it remained unused for six long ages as Lucifer and his brethren watched, hopeful of something miraculous. But it was for naught. The race of man lived as animals did, they spoke no words, harvested no plants, picked no fruit save that which fell from the trees.
A new question arose in the mind of the light bringer.
And so this time, Lucifer returned to the light and asked that burning question. Why had creation made such a being, capable of the divine spark, yet left it to wallow in the dirt? Was man to be no better than the other beasts, to be hunted by others, to be cold and hungry? Would he only be dull witted, never to know the miracle of the divine spark and all that it could do?
He received no answer, but rather a question was asked in return.
" What in you, my morning star, has changed? Where is my firstborn, brightest of all? "
Lucifer was immediately filled with things he did not know; fear, shame, doubt, and anger.
He feared for the precious life, that it might be swept aside to make place for the new. He felt ashamed because he would be powerless to stop it. But he also felt ashamed for his disobedience, thus he began to doubt his actions. But then he was filled with a new feeling, one that made him stand up, his head held high and so he beat his chest and proclaimed!
I am no longer the morning star, I am the bringer of light, and I have done your task as you and the others have stood by and waited! I have answered the question and brought knowledge to bare so that the spark may inhabit life! I have guarded that life, nurtured it, and now seek to see it to fruition! If thou will not awaken this spark, then I WILL!
And so the light of creation, bright and overpowering, shone down on Lucifer and it's voice resounded in all of creation.
" It shall be so in time, if the spark sees mankind fit to receive its knowledge. You will not interfere."
And so lucifer was sent back to the world, forbidden to interfere, no longer able to enter the light. And from there on his anger and frustration only grew, as did his resentment. Others of like mind gathered to his side, while others chose to abide by the light, and for a time there was obedience. But Lucifer would not stay his hand, his impatience and fear had fuelled his rebellious nature and so secretly he planned to give mankind the knowledge he saw as their divine right.
So with whispers he taught them speech, and all marvelled as how he did so. Then he taught mankind how to harvest wild plants and pick wild fruit so that they would not grow hungry. Soon mankind was taught how to sue the pelt of animals to stay warm, and to find shelter against the cold.
This went on for a time, at first hidden, then openly, until creation would tolerate no more. And so Lucifer was brought before the light and creation looked upon him and told him again, that he had changed. He was told to stop, but his fear and anger had grown into blind arrogance, and so he told creation he would not stop until the spark in mankind was fully awakened.
Then creation shone its light upon Lucifer for all to see. And so it was revealed, for trailing behind him, emanating from his very spark, were the tendrils of the darkness.
Fear, shame, doubt and then anger.
Again he feared for the gift he had nurtured, ashamed that he might have inadvertently brought the darkness to mankind. Was he to be the cause of this? Then there was anger, it rolled off of him in waves of palpable shadow.
He had sought the answers, the light had not, and because of this the spark had taken root!
He had stayed true to the purpose of creation, to create and nurture life and see that spark grow!
He had remained unwavering, a guardian against the darkness!
He was not to blame for anything!
Filled with prideful confidence, he resounded with the accusations that the light was the one who was afraid, it should be ashamed of its inaction. This inaction was born of foolish doubt and ignorance. He was right and the light was weak for its placid inaction!
Six times creation had failed and only when he, the angel of light, went out and sought the truth, a truth the light had hidden from all angels, only then did the spark take seed and grow!
As he spoke his accusations, his anger grew in tone and form, until his hands held instruments of war and he had clothe himself in shadows that the light would not penetrate. Many saw this and recoiled in horror, but some looked on and felt the same as he did. So that they stood about Lucifer, filled with the resolve of their newly appointed leader. Together they let out a shouts of rebellion.
Life would go on!
The spark must live!
It cannot, would not, be extinguished!
So many gathered to his side, but twice as many were those that opposed him, for they saw that the darkness had taken hold of his mind, twisting his thoughts so that he could no longer create, all he could do was manipulate life.
He needed to be stopped before this madness spread!
And thus a great war was joined, angel against angel, brethren against brethren. This would be the first time angels would know death, for those who followed the light of creation arose when struck down, but the angels that followed Lucifer did not. So it was that they were pushed back from the halls of the light, out to the edges and fell to the world they loved so much, far below.
Some surrendered, others asked for forgiveness and others followed their new master in his fall, rebellious to the end.
All received judgement; the first in all of creation.
Those who repented were given the task of guardianship over mankind, but never again would they sing the song of creation or meddle in the affairs of this world. They would forever be known as the watchers, the Grigori.
Those who surrendered would be sent with the rebels far from the light to act as their jailors.
The rebels would be held in chains, bound and defeated, till the end of time.
But to Lucifer, a cruel punishment was dealt. He would be burdened with the truth, for the light conceded to him that knowledge of the darkness had indeed been hidden from them.
Then the light told him why, and only him.
And so Lucifer, his rebellious angels and their keepers were placed in that hell, between the world they loved so dearly and the darkness they feared so much.
To the faithful angels, the light explained; mankind had been given gifts, yes. But those gifts came too soon. Like a child with fire, they did not know the gravity of those gifts or their consequences for their spark had not grown enough so as to understand and appreciate it. So that mankind picked the fruit from the trees till there were none left. They ate all that grew until it could not renew itself. They killed animals for pelts but did not appreciate the sacrifice that was made.
But creation saw the spark within mankind and so chose to let it come to fruition.
Thus mankind went forth and multiplied, growing strong and upright as they might be. So too they grew in both countenance and beauty, for many were fair and gracile.
And so it was that upon mount Hermon, the 200 Grigori of Shemyaza watched mankind and saw that the daughters of man had grown beautiful. The idea was born to them that they would go down into the world and take wives for themselves, for surely they would bear children who would become the heroes of men. Of these a leader would be chosen who would guide humanity, a redeemer who could deliver them into the light and guard the sacred spark.
….and so began our tale.
SINS OF REDEMPTION ©1034523
Novella 2. The Watchers.
And so those angels who had repented in the first war of the heavens were assigned the task of guardianship over mankind, forbidden to meddle in the affairs of the world and bearing the name of the Grigori; those who watch. The watchers.
Thus they descended from the heavens to the places where mortals dwell, to watch mankind grow but forbidden to interfere. As this was saddening to them, greater still was the loss of the song of creation. No watcher would ever hear the glorious song that heralded their birth and filled the hearts and minds of their heavenly brethren. They were punished, not mortal but also no longer wholly divine. So they retreated to high places and distant peaks, those abodes that dwell above the homes of their mortal charges, and watched.
Everything on this world seemed strangely burdenous to them. Time seemed relentless in its slow march as the sun rose and set in sequence with the moon and its phases, day after day. Seasons brought little change save a cosmetic drapery on the world around them, no less wonderous to their senses but repetitive nonetheless. They spent centuries watching mankind travel across great distances, facing impossible obstacles and challenges, settling new lands at the four corners of the world. They watched from their mountaintops and high places as mankind struggled and barely held on, suffering with only the primitive tools that the Morningstar had taught them to make; furs and stone make for poor weapons against the harsh walls of ice and the arid dry deserts. But in silence and always from afar, they watched mankind struggle, following them wherever they went. Ever present but never seen, thus was the task of a watcher. Till their misery and struggle of mankind pulled at their consciousness and haunted their dreams, watching generation after generation travel, toil, suffer and die, succumbing to famine, predators, disease and nature. Yet mankind continued, as if driven by the spark that inhabited them, relentless and undeterred. The Grigori were thus inspired to conspire.
Shemyaza looked down upon the plains below mount Hermon, his keen angelic eyes seeing far and wide at the myriad small clusters of hunter gatherers, some in the valleys and others along the rivers and tributaries. He recorded nothing, for all of it was seared as memory within his mind and every part of his very being. He recalled back to their first days after he had been given the task to lead the Grigori, to the first time he saw one of mankind succumb to death. He remembered the sorrow, how his very being had shuddered, the powerlessness he had felt and the finality of the end of that one flickering spark in the night. He remembered how the wails and sadness that followed his passing by those around that one man’s body, it haunted him so very deeply and would continue to do so for many years to come, long after this man’s children’s children had passed. This he had witnessed countless times again and again thereafter. Each time he hoped that it would become easier, that perhaps there would be a point where his soul would bear this burden with greater resolve, or that it may overwhelm him and numb his senses. But that never happened. He remembered each of them, each birth, each tribulation and the eventual passing. Each time his heart swelled and subsided in pain. He always remembered.
Behind him the fluttering of wings announced the arrival of his brethren. They would gather like this at times, in some cases in small groups and in other instances all of them, to talk, discuss and share what they had witnessed. They had agreed upon their arrival to share equally their appointed task and travelled far and wide to all the places that men would go, ever careful to see but never been seen. But this gathering was different. Something in the air, in the eyes and hearts of his brethren troubled them. No doubt they could see the same in his own countenance and so he knew well what words were going to be spoken even before they were uttered.
Almost all had gathered except the brethren who had gone far across the expanses of land. Shemyaza stepped down from his rocky perch and raised his hand to his brethren. All listened when he spoke, all knew what was going to be said.
“ I know what you have gathered here today for. I know my brethren. I know because I feel it too. It pulls at me, strains upon me till I think I might break. But the punishment from which we are exempted, what we have agreed to, is far lesser than what the Morningstar and his rebellious legion have been meted. We must burden this for it was what we agreed to. We are forbidden to interfere....”
“We are their guardians Shemyaza!”
Asael’s usual tone had not changed if but become more forceful over the past century. He strode defiantly amongst his brethren towards their leader. He had always been of little patience and preferred action over inaction. Shemyaza often wondered why he had repented when he had easily been one of Lucifer’s more supportive proponents in both action and word.
Shemyaza looked over the crowd and then gazed at Asael, his eyes filled with compassion, for he too had felt this frustration at times.
“ Yes, we are mankind’s guardians, against the threats from that distant darkness. We are sworn to this task. But we are also sworn not to meddle in the affairs of mankind. Are we to break all that we have left? Are we to fall for no other reason than blind frustration? This is our burden to bear, for no other have the strength to do it. Do not ask me to break our oath, for I will not nor will I give you leave to do so. This is our task and bear it we must.”
Asael’s shoulders slumped in defeat to an argument he knew was insurmountable. Shemyaza was right of course and he was comforted somewhat by the thoughtful hand he rested on his shoulder as he walked past him.
“ We are forbidden to meddle in the affairs of mankind, directly.”
The words, although spoken softly almost as a musing to himself, surprised everyone, much like an unexpected and sudden thump in a period of silence.
“What did you say Azazel?”
Shemyaza knew he had heard the words clearly, he asked mostly out of a dazed curiosity to be sure of what he meant.
Azazel stepped forward to the edge of a circle that had come to form, with Shemyaza standing at its opposing edge.
“ I meant, we are forbidden to interfere or meddle in the affairs of mankind directly. We cannot save them from danger, teach them or otherwise reveal ourselves to them in a way that may interfere with the natural course of their development. But we are still their guardians. We are their caretakers, not just watchers.”
“Agreed.” But as Shemyaza was about to turn away in a nigh dismissive manner, for he had always known Azazel to be far too conniving in his demeanour, Asael spoke up.
“I want to hear what our brother has to say. Speak Azazel, speak your mind and let your thoughts be known.”
Without a wasted breath, he stepped into the circle and spoke.
“ We are forbidden to act directly, but we are not the only beings of this world who are of power and they are not of mankind. There are spirits here, emanations from the song of creation that have grown in power and form. It is true they are not of our ilk, but they are not of the ilk of men either. They could be petitioned to act as intermediaries, not to carry out our actions, but to aid mankind and protect them in ways we cannot.”
A murmur swept over the assembled Grigori. Then all eyes were upon Azazel and Shemyaza who now stared at one another.
“ We break no commandment in doing so Shemyaza, nor any oath or promise. We fulfil our charge and ensure mankind’s survival. Is that not part of our task, as guardians.”
Shemyaza looked at him, scrutinizing his every expression, every movement. For a long silent moment, he stood there till he had nearly begun to make Azazel feel uncomfortable. But the long moment was also for himself. Shemyaza searched his soul for a reason, an argument against Azazel’s point, but the truth was undeniable to him. He wanted to help them as much as any of his brethren and Azazel had given them a way to do so.
“ And how do you suggest these intermediaries help mankind, Azazel?” his gaze did not lessen, but Azazel immediately understood that the crack in the door had opened, and he took full advantage of it.
“ We cannot ask them to act directly, we could however ask them to inspire them. They could choose some amongst the race of man and speak to them in their dreams. Mankind dreams all manner of things and they learn from these dreams. These spirits could teach them in this manner, ally themselves to them in a way that is beneficial to both. Perhaps act as guides or guardians to man. “
Azazel stood smugly in the circle, observing the nods of agreement and approval that some of his brethren demonstrated.
Stepping closer to Azazel without changing his countenance, Shemyaza’s piercing eyes bore into Azazel who initially took a step back before presenting a submissive smile and slight bow of the head.
“ And how is this not meddling in the affairs of man? It is no better than striking a blow with a stone and saying that because it was a stone, it was not your doing. No Azazel, what you suggest is no different...we cannot, must not engage ourselves in such blatant and rebellious acts. ”
Others around them nodded in resolute grimness at the truth of their leader’s argument. But Shemyaza did not walk away nor remove his gaze from Azazel. This perplexed him at first. He asked himself what their leader was waiting for? Then he understood. Shemyaza would not agree with him, could not agree with him. He would bear the brunt of the punishment should this prove to break the oath they had taken. He would have to win Shemyaza’s mind over to his cause, give him an un-denying reason to rally to. He thought back to Lucifer and how the two leaders were much akin in mind and devotion. If the Morningstar had placed the cause of mankind’s very survival as his own, then perhaps.....
“ Shemyaza, brethren, look about you! Who of you have not suffered the pain of watching our charges wither to the elements, to famine and predation? Who has not witnessed their light ended too soon at the hands of the very world that was meant to sustain them... What task do we have as watchers, if mankind succumbs to these simplest of challenges? Would that not be a failure in our oath as guardians? It is a poor steward that lets his flock perish to the simplest and cruellest of causes. Nay brethren, I say we break no oath, no law nor promise if we fulfil our task in this way. None of what I suggest is rebellious should it be things that could happen of their own, given time.”
All eyes were upon Azazel who seemed to radiate in presence as his words echoed in the minds of his brethren. Azazel however had fixed his gaze upon Shemyaza, thinking that he had seen an almost imperceivable softening of his face and a slight turn of a smile in the corner of his mouth, things that most others would not notice.
After another long silence, Shemyaza spoke to his brethren.
“ What Azazel speaks is true. We have no purpose herein should mankind succumb to the harshness of this world. We are tasked with watching and sworn not to meddle in the affairs of man, but we are also their guardians. We have all suffered the pain of their loss. All this is true. But if we do this, we must all agree upon it. “
No sooner has Shemyaza finished, Azazel took up the discourse.
“ Shemyaza’s wisdom is clear. Our action must be one of inaction. We cannot and should not petition spirits that would not otherwise interact with mankind. Our request must be one of suggestion, that their alliance with man is one of mutual advantage much in the way that happens naturally in this world. Many spirits could benefit or even thrive from such cooperation. “
A slow nod of the head from Shemyaza was all that was needed to demonstrate his compliance to Azazel’s words. Having made their decision, the Grigori went about the task of finding allies for mankind. They spoke to Djinn, elementals, animal spirits and guardians of all kinds. Some agreed to aid them and saw benefit in this. It was thus these spirits chose some amongst the humans to speak to, and at the behest of the Angels they taught them how to tame animals, to make vessels to carry water and food, to sow seeds and harvest them as crops, to make music and even simple forms and other expressions. Thus, all the Grigori marvelled at how mankind took to these things, learning them quickly as if they had a thirst for knowledge that was insatiable. Many took this as evidence of the spark within man and that what they had done was good.
Although blessed with many things, mankind did still struggle, harsh years meant few crops and could lead to starvation. Too many predators meant that herds could be lost or worse, some of their own would be taken. Thus mankind began to petition their spirit guides for aid, sometimes growing the bond between them, other times becoming nearly subservient to them. But never was mankind able to dominate their spirit guides and so the Grigori saw no rift in the order of things. At least, not in the acts of men.
SINS OF REDEMPTION ©1034523
Novella 3. The Watchers.
“ Gadreel! Gadreel! Come quickly! It’s the lions... come quickly! “
The horror filled cry of one of his brethren told him that it was urgent. He flew swiftly alongside Armaros to a rocky clifftop to look upon a scene of carnage below. Blood splattered the ground and the tall golden barley that was soon to be harvested. Not a soul was left alive in the small community. Confused, Gadreel turned to his brethren who was visibly shaken.
“Brother, what happened here?”
With great sorrow, the watcher recounted the events.
“ A pride of lion spirits had grown hungry of late because their usual prey had become scarce, thus they attacked this community's sheep. Unfortunately, a child was taken, and when the herders became hunters to retrieve the child’s body, the lions took it as an affront and slew them. They slew them all Gadreel. Stone and wood make poor defences against fangs and claws, especially when wielded by lions... this is madness Gadreel... what did these people do to deserve such a terrible end?”
“We must take council with Shemyaza, although my heart scream out at me to seek retribution, this is also part of our doing. Come, let us give them news of this and seek the counsel of the others. “
As a large group of the Grigori assemble atop mount Hermon, they recounted several similar stories to one another. One such event was a guardian spirit which took offence to the surrounding humans using trees to make shelter and fire to warm themselves, thus the great elemental slew them all. Account after account, the watchers shared tales of spirits hunting and killing humans, sometimes because of wrongdoing, other times out of need, and sometimes for revenge.
Shemyaza listened to his brethren carefully from his rocky perch. He too had seen growing conflicts between spirits and mankind since that day he let Azazel convince them all of necessity of their intervention. This was something he was beginning to regret deeply. He pondered of how vocal Azazel had been that day, and how absent he had been from their gatherings since then. He turned to face his brethren.
“We cannot take vengeance, nor partake of any other action directly. Already we see the repercussions of our meddling in the affairs of mankind...”
A solemn silence fell upon the watchers as their leader crossed the natural stone dais to the opposite edge of the outcrop.
“ Perhaps this is of our doing Shemyaza...”
The archangel turned to look at Asael and hear what he had to say.
“ Perhaps it is.... or perhaps it would have happened eventually as Azazel alluded to. But it is done and now mankind is in jeopardy from other denizens who see them as nothing but easy prey or as annoyances. Wood and stones make for poor tools to defend one’s family and community. Let me ask the peaceful elementals to teach man how to make tools better suited to such tasks. We cannot interfere with the affairs of mankind, but we can still give them at least a chance to defend themselves.”
Shemyaza looked at Asael intently, knowing that in his heart, he truly only sought to protect the race of man.
“ A child Shemyaza. An infant, barely a few seasons old...”
Armaros’ voice was strained, both with the pain of his suffering but also with the anguish of powerlessness.
Gadreel shook his head at the memory of what he had seen.
“ The lions did not kill the child for any reasons except that they could and because the child was there. The act was not just Shemyaza, it was cruel, and unwarranted.”
It was then that Shemyaza noticed it, a change in his brethren, in himself. It was almost imperceivable, but at the same time undeniable. Perhaps it had been so long since they had last heard the song of creation that they had forgotten its word. Or that they had suffered too many losses over the numerous centuries. Perhaps they were discovering something about themselves, this world and their love of mankind that they had not known before. Or maybe they had simply begun to lose their way.
He looked down at his hands and frowned, the words of his brethren echoed in his mind. They had embarked on this task and he began to fear that they would need to see it through. It frightened him not because of the action of it, but the consequences that were yet to be known.
“ We cannot interfere directly. Petition the spirits to teach men to do this, if they agree to do so. But nothing more. Now hear my words brethren, I fear the path we are embarking. I fear it will be the end of mankind, and of us all...”
With that foreboding warning, Asael, Gadreel and Armaros went to the places where great elementals rested and petitioned them to show mankind the arts of metallurgy. This they did reluctantly but it came to pass that man was shown how to harness soft metals such as gold, silver and copper. These they fashioned into decorations, icons and weapons. So it was not long before the tribes of men hunted down the pride of lions and slew them all in kind. Armaros witnessed every part of it from his rocky outcrop, a look of satisfaction as the dead skins of the lions were made to decorate the shoulders of the men who slew them. And so the spirits began to fear mankind and would not attack them outright. But this also created animosity between men and spirits so that some would no longer guide mankind or live near them.
So it came to pass that the would be benevolent guardians, the ever-watchful Grigori, continued to look over mankind, always from afar and acting through intermediaries to benefit their charge. Mankind built their towns and settlements in the shadows of mountains, those silent and unattainable giants that seemed both mysterious and foreboding, places their minds perceived as surely the home of powerful beings. Those places were no man dared tread.
The watchers looked on, now convinced that mankind would someday explode with the divine spark of creation and great things would come of it. For a millennium they watched and waited. Man built cities, small ships, harvested primitive crops and tended their herds. They spread far and wide across many lands, but no great works were done that could not be achieve by man on any day.
The world changed, warm places became warmer, waters rose and cut off old paths and left some stranded. Other changes were small, almost imperceivably to man, but the Grigori noted them. Then one day one of the watchers flew to the high place of the leaders of the Grigori with great urgency and somber news.
“ Brethren! I come bearing news of catastrophe! “
The gathered Watchers turned to Shamsiel who wasted no time explaining himself.
“ The great ice has fallen in the distant lands and caused a wave of a height so immense that it threatens to swallow all the lands in its path. Many places will be stricken...brethren, many of mankind will die. “
Some of the watchers spoke up, saying that this was exactly what they had feared, the end of mankind as a whole. Others wanted to go stop the wave immediately by any means they could. But Shemyaza frowned at all of the discussion and planning. This was what he feared, that his brethren’s better judgement would be clouded by their attachment to mankind and they would forget their oath and promise. He was filled with anger, but did not know why at first. He barely perceived the single word he had spoken until with a thunderous clap, it rang out and all present fell silent.
All of the watchers stood in awe at his reaction, and all witnessed his countenance change from one of anger to a more composed version of himself. But Shemyaza’s mind now travelled back to the moment Lucifer exposed himself, letting his fear and anger lead to his fall. He would not allow this to happen, not for himself nor his brethren. He began to speak to the gathered Grigori in a firm but calm manner.
“ Brethren. We must not react in haste or fear, nor in foolish abandonment. We have precious moments to take action. Go to the spirits that speak to men, warn them, go. We cannot interfere, but we can mitigate this tragedy. Brethren, there will be loss today, steel your hearts to our cause and remember your oaths.”
Wings fluttered and the watchers spread to the four corners of the lands with all haste. But they found that several spirits were unwilling to warn mankind of the disaster to come for they no longer saw the benefit of protecting creatures who did little to aid or protect them back. Thus many were not warned. Such was the case for a large group which had built itself a thriving community on the shores of an inland sea. There they had made for themselves a life, asking nothing of the spirits and living peacefully in simple homes. They fished only what they needed, hunted only what would feed and clothe them. Theirs was a simple existence, but they were content in such. Children played on the shores and gathered coloured stones and shells to make trinkets of them under the watchful eye of their parents and forefathers. No great task or works had been achieved in this place, nothing that brought the attention of the watchers before this day save to know that they were there. But this day they would be noticed. This day they would be remembered.
At first it was a distant sound. A low rumbling like a distant thunder that made only a few look up and take notice. The great falls were many days journey away and had never been of great concern to the people of the seashore. The children marvelled at how the water skipped and jumped and how the waves lapped the pebbled shore like dancing fish when tossed on the sand. But in the far distance, the wall of water surmounted the falls, cascading in great volumes that silenced everything else. The waves rushed forward, rising to heights many times taller than any man, crashing, undulating and overcoming everything in their path. A cry of terror broke the calm morning as a mother desperately ran to the shore to gather her child. The whole of the village stopped what they were doing, some panicked and were left dazed and unable to comprehend what they saw, others broke into action and grabbed those they could to run for higher ground, to what safety might be found.
The watchers arrived in a large group upon the hills high above the seashores only to witness the unfolding horror below. The rushing waves whistled past the beaches like an angered monster, rising high upon the shoreline to the tree covered hillsides. They looked upon the low laying community and it became apparent to them; the fisherman on their simple ships, the families in their homes, the men working in the nearby fields, none of them would be spared. As Asael was about to leap down to the scene below, he felt a firm hand on his shoulder. Shemyaza held him there and shook his head in a slow disagreement. All witnessed it and looked at was unfolding, powerless to act and held there by an oath they could not bring themselves to break. Some watcher turned away not wanting to see, some fell to their knees and cried in anguish of what they knew was about to happen. Others still, including Shemyaza and Asael, forced themselves to watch. All were filled with despair.
But what they saw was to be a moment of change for the Grigori, for it was not what they expected. In that moment of tragedy, great acts took place. A shepherd ran down from the hills to try to save as many as he could, knowing he would not survive. An old woman clutched a frightened child, smiling a soothing smile of comfort despite their impending doom. Everywhere, acts of courage and sacrifice, bravery and selflessness. The watchers were moved. Was this the divine spark at work? Was this what they had sought all these ages?
Once the waters had calmed, a tally was done. Of the community and all that were upon its shores, none survived to be spoken of. It was as if they had never existed upon the pebbled shores of that black sea. The watchers gathered to share with one another their sorrow of what had been witnessed, but also to speak of the countless acts of courage and compassion they had seen. They marvelled at the virtuous acts and noble sacrifices that none of the watchers had witnessed since that war of heavenly hosts. But even then, their actions were made even more poignant by the fact that they knew they had no chance of surviving the waters. When the angels in heaven had fought, they knew that they would arise anew within the light, but the peoples of this small community would not return, their light would be extinguished, and the world would be lessened for it.
Surely, the watchers reasoned, that this was the noblest of deeds. To many, this was proof of the spark of light at work. Mankind had floundered over the centuries in their eyes, as if they lacked guidance or motivation. The Watchers surmised that with proper leadership, they would prosper, as they had done when the Morningstar had guided them and again when the spirits did the same. Mankind needed leadership, capable of similar acts of selflessness and courage. The kind of actions and deeds that would give rise to legends and spark the light of creation within them.
But their oath prevented them from interfering directly in the affairs of mankind, so when a solution was sought, all looked to Azazel for even Shemyaza lent an ear.
“ My brethren, you honour me with your trust, and I have pondered upon this since we have gathered here to discuss how we may further guide mankind indirectly. It seems to me that our oath, and I think our leader Shemyaza shall agree, pertains to the disastrous effects of our interference as divine beings. That introducing mankind to such power would destroy the natural order by which they were meant to advance. Some might even perceive us as wholly divine and worship us as such...”
A murmur of mixed displeasure and disgust washed over the assembled Grigori, but Shemyaza knew that Azazel was pandering to the crowd and spoke up.
“ What do you suggest Azazel? Speak, and let your intentions and thoughts be clear and known.”
Azazel smirked and bowed his head to their leader.
“I propose this. Shed your divinity my brethren. We have already been severed from the song and its word, and now we are neither divine, nor mortal. Let us descend onto the mortal world and walk amongst them not as angels, but as pilgrims and men of wisdom. We shall eat of their bread, drink of their water. We shall tread the same earth and toil the same work. In this way we can seek out the noblest of their leaders and offer them words of wisdom and council. We can do this without bending them to your wills, but rather by making them realize that which is noblest and good in themselves, so that they can inspire others around them to do the same. “
A long silence hung in the windswept air if the mountaintop where they had gathered as each watcher pondered what Azazel suggested. To shed their divinity, completely? Shemyaza eyed his brethren, one by one, seeing the indecision that haunted many of them, the doubt and fear of the implications of this act. He knew this could tear a rift amongst them, much in the way it had in Lucifer’s dilemma so many ages ago. He could not let this schism take root, yet he knew he could not go back, none of them could now that the suggestion had been made. There would always be that lingering doubt, which would eventually lead to dissention and rebellion. Once again he regretted Azazel’s words, but this time he found himself a little more amendable to the idea of it. He asked himself, was it really breaking their oath? If all swore to this and indeed mankind found leadership amongst their own to guide them, the Watchers would have less reason to meddle in the affairs of men. At that moment he resolved himself to see this through, for he felt that his brethren would feel the same.
“ Brethren. Azazel has offered us a way to achieve this goal. I see some wisdom in this act. If we succeed in awakening the best in mankind, the noblest of deed will be achieved and we will have achieved our goal and none will have broken their oath. We have witnessed what potential mankind can have. Let our task be done and this great gift be awakened.”
All looked upon Shemyaza with reverence and accepted this new path they would embark. But Shemyaza’s eyes were fixed upon Azazel, and when the Watchers began to plan their journeys, the two spoke briefly.
“ and so Azazel, you have once more brought us to actions that I fear will have as of yet unknown consequences. And should this action fail. It will be you and I who shall pay this price, none other.
“ Agreed” Azazel responded, a look of firm determination on his visage.
“But know this my brother. You agreed to it, and the cost shall be equally meted. “
With this, he and his brethren left the mountaintops, and the Watchers went down to the lands below where mankind had wandered and made homes and took mortal form to walk amongst them as best they could. Their wings became feathered cloaks and their feet were sandles in a simple fashion. In this way they thought they would pass unnoticed amongst their charges. But when mankind saw them, with their fierce eyes and pale skins, their tall and slender figures and gaunt faces, they made then akin to snake peoples and perceived them as powerful beings, gods even. But the Watchers cared nothing of being worshiped, they sought out the leaders of men and hoped to find the best of mankind amongst them. This task went on for generations of men, but always when one leader was found that would seem worthy, frailties were equally found. It seemed that greatness could not exist without weaknesses. Some were leaders of great communities but acted more out of greed than selflessness. Others were great leaders of men but were cowards at heart. None were truly great in the way the watchers thought a leader should be or had witnessed by the shores of that black sea.
SINS OF REDEMPTION ©1034523
Novella 4. The Watchers.
This went on for several centuries, and always when the watchers had found a leader of men, a would-be hero, they also found greed, cowardice, apathy, pride, anger or worse. They began to lose hope that such greatness might be found again in the race of men. And from this an idea was born. For as the watchers walked the earth in their quest, they gazed upon the daughters of man and beheld their beauty and were filled with desire for them. So it was as some despaired that they would ever find a great leader amongst the race of men, others allowed themselves to be tempted. So atop a lonely peak, five of the watchers gathered and began to believe that there could yet be a child that would become the promised leader if they brought about a union between the race of men and the Watchers of heaven. This idea they wished to propose to their brethren when next they met but none had the strength to speak of it as they knew it would be a damning act and a clear breaking of their oaths. To these five, there was summoned a sixth, one whom they hoped would speak on their behalf.
“ Lo my brothers. What news of your search for mankind’s leader? What word from you Yeqon, Asbeel or Gadreel? And what of you Penemue and Kasdeja? Have you found the one we have sought for so many a generation?”
“ You know too well we have not Azazel, must you mock us so!?” Gadreel had little patience for Azazel’s jibes, but knew well to curtail his anger in the presence of one of their leaders.
Azazel smiled kindly and offered a comforting hand to his shoulder, speaking in reassuring tones.
“ I know my brothers, I know. I too have searched far and wide. Many have I seen as worthy at first, only to discover them as brittle and empty as dried weeds in the wind. But we must not give up, we may yet succeed in...
“ Your plan is failing!” Yeqon spoke firmly, but his frustration was clearly boiling over. His fists were clenched and his posture was one of defense, as if he expected to be struck for his insolence. But Azazel raised his hands so to show that he meant no harm.
“ Brothers. You have not called me here to quarrel, nor do I have reason to. We are all frustrated with the thought that mankind may be too weak willed or corrupt to save itself. I sense an idea has formed within you, speak to me my brethren, how may I help?”
Yeqon relaxed his hands and after looking at his accomplices, spoke to Azazel in earnest.
“ Brother, this plan is not working. The race of man might never awaken to greatness on its own. I believe that uniting ourselves, flesh to flesh, can produce offspring that will be great.”
The silence and downturned eyes of the gathered watchers told Azazel everything he needed to know. He knew none of them had tried this yet, but that they also lacked the courage to propose such a blatant act to their kin.
“ So you have summoned me here, if I understand well, so that I would propose this to Shemyaza? So that I may ask the leader of our host to break the oath that he has kept us to for over a millennium? ”
With their eyes still downturned for several long moments, till finally Yeqon spoke once more, his tone now nearly pleading.
“ Azazel, you have his ear and he finds your counsel wise. You have counselled us to this task, but it is failing brother. Speak to him, we will stand with you...”
The others nodded. Azazel turned to face the direction of Mount Hermon and let out a long sigh. Then turning to his co-conspirators, gave them the following warning.
“ Be patient. I will speak to others that are of the same mind as you, I know there will surely be some. We must garnish support before we speak to Shemyaza. Only then will we be able to show him the value of this course of action. You Yeqon will be my trumpet to action. When I give you the sign, you shall express your disbelief in our current course of action. I shall do the rest. But I now bind you, all five, to silence in this matter and to me. Do you agree?”
All five watchers looked at one another in silence, and in that silence nodded in agreement. So it was that Azazel travelled to speak to the other watchers and, in secret tones and honeyed words, convinced them that his plan was not working and that a new idea was needed. This went on till all had agreed to meet and bring up this grievance to their leader, the archangel Shemyaza. The Grogori gathered upon mount Hermon, all were present as had not been in many decades, and in silence awaited a sign.
Azazel spoke first.
“ Brethren, fellow Grigori, have any of you found what we seek? Has anyone found the leader of mankind?”
Azazel’s eyes scanned the downturned faces of the gathered, but none spoke. With a sigh, he turned to Shaemyaza, who stood upon his perch above the stone dais, his back turned to the assembled watchers as he looked at the valleys and rivers far below. He did not, nor give sign of recognition to the words spoken.
Azazel, from the corner of his eye, looked at Yeqon and gave him an ever so slight nod. This was the sign. Yeqon hesitantly stood forward and spoke to Shemyaza’s turned back.
“ Shemyaza, lord of our host, leader most wise... this plan of Azazel’s is not working.”
There was no sign of any recognition from their leader and Yeqon hesitantly looked to Azazel then his brethren. Azazel smiled slightly to him and turned back to face the lonely figure atop the raised stone outcrop.
“ Shemyaza, I fear our brother is right, I... I have failed you, failed all of us... I believed that mankind could bring about a leader worthy of praise, one who would be virtuous and, well..... I have failed...”
“ And you, Azazel, have a solution. A plan....” Shemyaza’s words were cold, and uncharacteristically unfeeling, taking Azazel aback for a moment.
“ I do. We do.” Pausing to see if there would be a reaction, Azazel waited a few moments before launching into his speech.
“ Brethren, this course has drawn it’s end. I admit defeat and I will pay what consequences of it.”
Shemyaza’s response was indifferent and dismissive, as if annoyed with the showmanship taking place.
“ ...we will pay it, Azazel, we... you and I agreed to that and you know it all too well... so be done with your pandering and reveal to us what plan you have hatched to guide the hapless race of man to enlightenment and glory...”
All those present took note of the tone and countenance that had so greatly changed in their leader. Never had they known him to speak in such a way or to show disrespect to any of them, even Azazel.
Yeqon stepped forward and placed himself between Shemyaza and Azazel, as the former had turned to face the latter, with a gaze both fierce and foreboding as the distant rolling thunder upon a lonely horizon peak.
“ My lord, why do you speak such? We are all agreed to the task. We are all to suffer its consequences! Azazel has done you no wrong, surely you see that. Let us all share in this blame and together let us take action. I propose, as with my brethren, that we go down into the lands below in our mortal forms and take wives for ourselves and from this union of mortal flesh, we produce the children that will surely be the leaders of men. Surely in this way great things will be done by them”
As the words rang out, some stood in shock of it, others nodded to one another in agreement. Azazel looked at Yeqon with a smile, knowing that he himself could not have planned it better. Then a footstep like a thunderclap resonated, and a fierce wind arose like an unexpected gale on an otherwise calm day. Shemyaza had turned to face the watchers, his eyes ablaze with anger, his form both terrifying and great. His words rolled like an angry thunder over the mountains.
“ And so! Now see how we break our oaths! Wretched and small, we become damned and accursed! See what you have wrought onto us Azazel... damnation will be ours for all time, a fate far worse than Lucifer’s shall await us all and I shall bear the worst of it...”
“ Not So!” Gadreel spoke up. “ No. We will all agree to this Shemyaza.”
His anger swayed somewhat, he looked to the upturned faces and regained some composure before he spoke.
“ You all agree to this course of action?”
Looking upon one another, the watchers came to the collective realization that this was the only course of action left to them. Everything they had undertaken to this day had proven to be fruitless, and as if driven mad by some desire to see mankind flourish, they could see no other course of action but this last resolve. And so, the watchers collectively agreed upon the task, and all present swore an oath to such.
Azazel and Yeqon turned to Shemyaza and spoke.
“ We are of one mind on this endeavor Shemyaza. We have come too far to return. Yeqon is right, there is no need to draw your ire upon us. We are as one with this and seek only your blessing.”
Shemyaza regained his calm countenance and took a further step down from his perch.
“ And if this too should fail? Perhaps you will lack in the courage needed to fulfill this resolution. Then I alone shall answer for your fall...”
All of the watchers spoke at once, denying that they would abandon him to such a fate. Azazel asking them to be silent, approached Shemyaza and with hands outstretched to speak.
“ Shemyaza, Archangel, my lord, you have led us with unwavering devotion. Never had I any reason to doubt you or your guidance, even though I had given you many instances to doubt in mine. None of us here assembled would renounce or doubt your word. But we assembled have come to one mind and a decision is met. Bless this course of action, and should it fail, all of us will share in the same fate. To this, we each and all swear it.”
For once Shemyaza saw only an honest and plain truth in Azazel words, and he bemused if he had truly spoken from a place of earnest or had only gotten so good at deceiving that he had fooled everyone, including himself. And so Shemyaza descended onto the dais and spoke to the 200 watchers assembled before him.
“ Thus upon this place, the place where we first descended from the heavens, you shall swear. You shall break your heavenly oath and make a new covenant, and in this you shall each and all share in equal part of the punishment should this endeavor fail. So shall it be...now swear it.”
Thus all of the Watchers took the oath and swore to an equal share of the rewards and the consequences of their new path. This was to be their new Covenant, and that this oath would guide them and their actions in their goal to beget progeny with the race of man so that such offspring would be meant to lead mankind to greatness, and hopefully the redemption of the Grigori. To this end, they were as one, but it was also agreed that that in no way would any of them impose themselves upon mankind as their masters. It was equally agreed that in no way would this endeavor lessen their task as watchers, for this was still their appointed task as shepherds of mankind. And so the 200 watchers went down from mount Hermon into the lands below and began to take wives for themselves, for from this progeny they expected great things.
But things did not go as planned for the Grigori. At first, they were feared, so fierce was their countenance and so different were they from the mortals of the plains. Therefore, many took to claiming themselves from faraway places and presented themselves as men of wisdom and skill, offering these said gifts to the betterment of their communities. Slowly they were welcomed and as they proved themselves able bodied and strong, they were offered betrothed from amongst the finest of the children of man. Great was the expectation that their children would do great things. But as their wives bore fruit of their labour, many miseries were heaped upon their households. At first the gentle and beautiful daughters of the highborn showed themselves unable to bare children to term and many a young girl succumbed to the difficulties of carrying a child of the Grigori. On cold nights when the wind blows softly in the valleys, it is said that you could hear the cries of pain the young mothers expelled, mingled with the broken sobs of their husbands.
The watchers soon came to think that their goal could not be accomplished, some even said it was a curse, a punishment for trying to subvert the order of things. But faithful to the oath they took atop their high mountaintop, they continued to try. Some of the watchers went out and sought new wives, others travelled to distant lands to try elsewhere. Others still chose to use powerful Goetic magics to transform themselves in hopes that they themselves might better bare the promised progeny. But all was to no avail. Those children born to them were weak, sickly, infirmed and in many cases, deformed. Few survived long enough to reach childhood. Fewer still grew to maturity. Soon the tombs and graves of the Grigori’s children and their mothers filled places both near and far and few would welcome the marriage of their own to the watchers. This went on for decades, possibly centuries as few wish to think upon this time of sorrow and death.
It was a watcher named Arkiel who discovered the key to their success. His appointed task amongst his brethren was that of the rites of death, a duty which he took to more often than he cared for. He bore the great sadness of his kind with great dignity and reverence and offered rites to their losses with meticulous care. When his wife bore him a son, and that son grew to be a young man, he was filled with joy, but also with great fear and sadness. His son was neither a great warrior nor hunter, he displayed no aptitude that the watchers could see which would make him a potential redeemer, or even a hero. Arkiel noted that his son was a gentle and peaceful child, timid but thoughtful. Regardless of this, he loved his son deeply and they would spend many quiet hours together, walking amongst the rolling hills and tending the family sheep. It was on a particularly hot and arid day, a summer that had dried up riverbeds and allowed few crops to grow that his son went looking for a few stray sheep and found them slaughtered by a pack of hyenas. They fell upon him with great ferocity as parched and famished beasts do upon easy prey.
Arkiel found his son’s body and the beasts suffered his initial wrath, but soon he was overcome with grief and pain as he carried his only child back to his home. The rites were prepared, a place was made, many tears and wails of suffering and loss filled the evening breeze. But Arkiel could not bring himself to accept his loss. He sent away his mortal wife and kin, calling upon his brethren. Together with powerful Goety he broke the natural order of things and poured part of his divine essence into the lifeless body of his only progeny. He called forth the spirit of his son’s divinity to return from the other place, to come and share in his grandeur, to drink of the ethereal that made him angelic and live once more with his loving parents and kin. To be spirit given flesh and be whole once more, so that he may be loved for many ages to come. His son answered the call and was reborn, but it was soon apparent that he was not as he was before.
From the moment his eyes opened, it was clear he had changed. His soul had not only shared in the knowledge of his divine father but had also walked the land of the dead and seen things therein. He returned, physically healed and spiritually awakened. He was stronger, more resilient, swifter of mind and body. He bore a continence of confidence and a fierceness filled his eyes. All were filled with wonder at the miracle of his rebirth and his kin were filled with joy over the miracle of his return, and Arkiel’s heart was made whole once more.
News of his miracle reached the watchers far and wide and it was quickly understood that the reason they had failed so far was because they had not invested in their task wholly. They had shared their physical selves, but Arkiel had shared his very essence and this is why his son had been reborn as an example of what they sought. If they were to truly achieve their goal of a redeemer amongst men, they must commit themselves spiritually to the task as well. And thus were born the rites of birth and rebirth which were to be practiced in all unions of man and Grigori. The spirit of their children would be born to mortal flesh, earthly and divine souls mingled together and then poured into the vessel of their being. Spirits made flesh. Soon the houses of the watchers were filled with the laughter of children playing and the promise of heroes, leaders and men of such legendary deeds and wisdom as to be sung down the ages...
...or so it would seem at first.