Excerpted from the forthcoming novel "Minion Web" by Shawn J. Higgins
A dark spirit moved slowly through the gloomy panorama that stretched out before it, consumed with anxiety. It had no concept of what this hastily-called “Grand Assembly of the Minions” was about, only that once again, if it wanted to avoid being isolated in the void, it would be required to attend this most recent announcement that “a major assault on the Heaven of Heavens” was imminent. In the course of the millennia they had been stranded here it was impossible to determine the number of times an announcement was made by The Dark Messenger that another assault was underway—with the usual adjunct “this time we will be victorious' appended to it.
They had never been victorious—and it was becoming harder to believe any of these boastings coming from “The Shepherd Kings,” but when they called, attendance was mandatory. The cost of ignoring the request was incalculably worse.
The spirit moved past some of its seniors, demons of minor significance that, like itself, weren't particularly skilled at enticing human beings into sin. All of its hope had been lost early after the Descent; unlike some of its comrades, it had no motivation to continue in this struggle, and wanted out. The imp understood the true meaning of a “losing battle” the first time it was engaged. Despite numerous attempts to get back into “the grace of God” that humans spoke of with such reverence, its efforts at attending any kind of spiritual awakening on earth were always met with failure. Only the “self-realization” venues netted any form of success—and even then it could only continue its further efforts at deception. Boring. Its efforts to get into church revivals and synagogues were always met with the same obstacle; the demon could not even get near the doors without being blinded by a brilliant golden light and heat it found itself incapable of withstanding.
It glided past these minor imps easily, but hesitated as it descended toward the so-called “Forces”—evil spirits that had some limited success in their efforts to confuse and tempt humankind. Alcohol, prostitution, drugs, wrath, and covetousness were useful tools for these capers. It had to be very cautious when gliding past this level—they were always on the lookout for an escapee such as it. The spirit made its way past them without much notice; as usual, they were preoccupied with practicing their menacing look, and it occurred to the spirit that such may well be at issue with each level it approached for this particular assembly: they would all be preparing an appearance of menacing evil for the gathering. It was now on its way to a lower level—one that may not be quite so successfully breached.
Here, one step below the lower spirits known as “Forces,” the “Authorities” dwelt in greater darkness. Getting past them was always difficult, although possible; their notice often invited little other than ridicule, something the spirit had quite easily and quite early adapted to. Occasionally, one of them would tag it and follow along with a finger pointed and mockery coming from its mouth as the imp tried to make its way forward to the throne room.
As it attempted entrance into this realm, it sensed something approaching from behind, and before it even had time to react, it was hit blindside by a “flying frightener.” It possessed the body of a birdlike wraith, but was barely visible in the darkness the spirit was seeing accelerate about it. The sprite felt its icy touch as it rapidly passed by, doing the only thing the flyer could do: leave the spirit with a dark, foreboding feeling that doom was near, that hope was lost, that escape was impossible, that disaster was imminent. It left the spirit feeling unclean and unwanted, but unfortunately for the frightener, the sensation was a quite familiar feeling for the sprite in its envelope of darkness.
The “Authorities”—whose domain the spirit now entered—bullied and intimidated their subordinates in the dark mist of the “Forces.” It was generally their leading that directed the “Forces” into conflict with humans. Lately, however, their primary vocation appeared to be in the creation of newer and more original ways of seducing people into weird religious circles and the always-successful method of “self-awareness.” Many indeed were the legion of deceivers who created original concepts of “getting close to God”—the spirit truly envied the demonic force that had crafted this brilliantly deceptive idea; no other recent method of deception had been as successful. Once that idea had been engendered, success was a virtual certainty. Generally, this involved a great deal of focus on “self-fulfillment” as opposed to involvement and participation with others.
The spirit found itself both amused and amazed as it made its way past this hierarchy and into the “Principalities,” and it could virtually never surpass this level without intense scrutiny. These monsters were in charge of national crises, natural disasters, and stirring up confusion among people who would otherwise work together with little or no friction. Since Shinar, the idea of unity among people was the most effective method of deception: once united in their determination to affect cause—an extreme rarity among human beings—it was indeed difficult to stop them in their pursuit. Nazi Germany and the communist invasion, in the spirit's recollection, were the greatest examples it could recall in recent history. The rumor that was floating about the caverns surrounding him was that the effort had been made to build, at long last, “The New Shinar,” a restoration of their greatest achievement to date: the construction of an empire united by one language that erected a magnificent temple at the heart of human civilization dedicated to the worship of the RaZahn—“The Shepherd Kings” the spirit was now en route to. If it could breach the wall of the “Principalities” it would be —for only the second time in its existence—in the presence of the global tyrants who controlled the kingdom of darkness. Like their subordinates, however, the “Principalities” were so preoccupied with preparing themselves for the assembly the spirit managed to glide past these as well, and their dark and terrifying domain slipped behind him as it approached the Great Gate that led into the intimidating “Throne Room of The RaZahn.”
The spirit could only imagine what may be guarding the gate, knowing it could not so easily break through this barrier as it had all the other preceding it.
“Greetings, gibbering spirit,” a dark and hallow voice intoned. The spirit started slightly; unaware it was under observance on its trek into this forbidden zone. It was very likely The Gate Keeper that summoned him now, and the spirit—greatly intimidated by this unexpected presence—remained undeceived by the lack of hostility or aggression in that voice. It had encountered this black and cruel monster too many times in the past to be tricked into believing The Gate Keeper wanted anything other than to humiliate and harass it relentlessly for having the audacity to approach this most unholy of realms. “What brings you to broach the Great Gate and intrude into areas which you know you ought not?”
“I am a lowly servant unworthy of the privilege of passing this Gate, great and mighty one,” the spirit answered, doing its best to sound humble. “I have heard that there is a gathering of the RaZahn this evening. I have heard that the great ones are making another attempt to breach the wall into the earthly domain and to launch the beginnings of the New Shinar. I want to show my allegiance to my mighty Great Ha Shamayim by being first to appear—although, as you say, I am unworthy of such an honor.”
“Unworthy, indeed, gibbering sprite,” the Gate Keeper intoned. “You may pass, but it will come to the attention of the RaZahn, and you will receive the acknowledgement of your ambition before the entire assembly, and the punishment for your trespass shall never see redemption. I will allow you entry, but things shall not be well for you, and the Tartartus awaits you. Bid you now, enter!”
The terrified spirit understood well the consequences for its trespass—the forbidden Tartartus, the lowest hell beneath hell—a pit of blackness and void in which there was no chance of escape. Yet the spirit understood that its failures throughout its miserable existence would assuredly have manifested themselves in the same punishment even without this privilege. It had never been successful at deception or temptation in any capacity; the “Hell beneath Hell” it had just been threatened with assuredly awaited it regardless. Only a few centuries of confinement in the pit would have awaited it had it not made this attempt. The spirit acknowledged its superior with a bow and carefully entered the “Throne Room of the RaZahn.”
Indeed, only blackest darkness seemed to enshroud the spirit as it entered the hallways that led to the enormous Gathering Room. The spirit knew that shortly the deep, thumping sound would begin, and the other spirits—led by “Principalities”—would shortly enter, dragging their subordinates behind them, probably. All around it, barely visible in the darkness, the symbols and emblems of rank and identity embellished the halls and the walls of this massive, darkened tomb. Words of praise and adoration all about it, etched in Egyptian Hieroglyphic, in Greek, in Chaldean, and in Latin were now accompanied by an old, familiar script the spirit had not seen in millennia—an indication, then, that there was truth to the rumor it had heard that an entry toward “The New Shinar” had indeed been effective. This was the script that had embellished all of their monuments and shrines in the days long ago, before the confusion of Babel. The images it recognized from the original sanctuary there were displayed prominently, and in the darkness the spirit could see the once familiar and long-since departed icons of the spider, the wolf and crescent, the fish, the raven, the branch, the morning star, and the bull. The spirit had not seen these images seen since Babel, and this could therefore mean only one thing: the great rumor it had heard of “The New Shinar” being now at hand was, in fact, the truth. As the darkness around the spirit intensified, the Gathering Room began to fill, and the spirit could feel the cold and darkness of great and powerful forces of evil of every rank filing gradually into the arena. The spirit was terrified, believing as it did that this would be the last it would see of its comrades in the Kingdom of Hell. Shortly, it would be confined to the blackest darkness, and likely not to escape there until the Judgment Day.
A great black entity strode forward with a long mallet in its arms. Its thick black shroud waved gently as it raised the mallet over its head and began to sound the Call to Order. The sound of the gong was deafening from the proximity of the spirit, and it found itself chilled ever more greatly to the very depth of its soul at the power and terror that emanated from it.
“Forces of Darkness,” the Dark Messenger spoke to the assembly. “This is the call to order, may it sound from the blackness of the abyss to the Meeting Room of the Principalities! It is by order of Great and Mighty Ha Shamayim that all spirits—save for those banished to the Tartartus for crimes against the Order—are hereby informed that the grand entrance into the Earthly Realms, and indeed at long last our long awaited further entry into the Heaven of the Heavens, shall begin this upon this All Hallows Evening.”
There was, not unexpectedly, a deafening shout of excitement in the assembly coming from all of the speaking entities gathered there. The shout endured for a long time even as the Dark Messenger raised its shrouded arms for silence. Once again, the spirit was led to believe that all it had heard was true. Assuredly, these dark forces would not make such an announcement unless an entrance was an absolute certainty. There had been too many other false alarms in the past to make such a bold statement without the Shepherd Kings losing credibility.
Eventually, the commotion did die down, and the Dark Messenger spoke again. “It is by order of Great and Mighty Ha Shamayim that you be allowed the privilege of seeing and receiving counsel and guidance from the RaZahn themselves before you will witness the ascension to power, once again, of Great and Mighty Ha Shamayim to his rightful throne. We know and have always known he shall be exalted over the earth, over the Heaven of Heavens, and over the throne of the enemy of our souls, the Nameless One who rules with the Iron Rod of the Law.”
Predictably, there were catcalls and hurled obscenities with the mention of God the Creator. The Dark Messenger laughed hollowly. “This is the end, once and for all, of our imprisonment in this darkness. We shall indeed ascend forth from now and unto infinity into the nether regions of the human soul, where we shall rule as we had before the dawn that began our descent into this black pool of oblivion. The Oracle of Nimrod has been recovered!”
After a moment of stunned silence, beginning with the “Principalities” and filtering down to the minor spirits, a chant began to come bubbling forth from their mouths. “The Oracle of Nimrod has been recovered!” and this chant was repeated until the entire gathered assembly intoned the phrase at full volume. Eventually, after passage of a great chorus, the Dark Messenger raised its cloaked arms again, and shortly the tumult gave way to a short burst of applause, followed by silence.
The Dark Messenger spoke again: “The Gate of Adama has been breached!” it intoned.
Once again, the spirits began another chant in repetition of the Dark Messenger's words, until a riotous uproar commenced and there was great disturbance in the assembly; some of the larger and more powerful demons seemed to be making a sport of bouncing the smaller ones about the arena like balls. Though the Dark Messenger seemed to laugh at this spectacle, it raised its darkened arms once again and shouted for silence. “The time for unity is at hand!” the monster intoned; and this became the next litany the assembly shouted repeatedly, until the Dark Messenger raised it arms and spoke: “The appeasement gift to the RaZahn has been offered and accepted!” it shouted next, and the assembly shouted in response.
“They shall Enter and Walk in the Spirit World through the Fire, and through the Water!” the demon screeched, and its assembled host responded accordingly.
“They shall reach the Seven Spheres of the RaZahn,” the Dark Messenger intoned, with corresponding repetition.
“And they are of creeping thing and forest floor!” it shouted to great applause, “… of wolf and moon, and of the four winds, and of the high seas, and of the child misbegotten, and of fertile mother of earth.”
At this point, the riotousness of the gathering was so violent and vicious that the Dark Messenger had to hold his arms up for a great span of time to cause the assembly to settle.
“And of Great Mountain Bull Seed—the mighty Great Ha Shamayim, the Ruler of the World! The forces of the RaZahn are unleashed!”
“Forces of Darkness!” the Dark Messenger announced. “Fall to your knees and worship those who lead us into victory this All Hallows Eve. Worship your Shepherd Kings, the RaZahn. I bring you … the Great and Mighty Siqqus, Great Master of the Black Earth that consumes Man!”
The demons fell to their knees as requested, and there was a moment of terrified silence in the gathering as the Spirit of Darkness entered the assembly. All of the spirits in the gathering—from the lowest minor imp to the greatest Principality—felt an icy cold and dark shroud cover them, and there was a customary moment of dizziness as the demon of fear approached them. None of them wished to speak; all of them were frozen in the fear of one of their Masters.
“Look at me,” the dark specter said, and all the eyes in the assembly opened and saw the “Great Master of the Black Earth.” What initially appeared as little other than a dark shadow with a humanoid form rapidly developed into what they more accustomed to seeing: the blackness gave way to the form of a mammoth spider, with the tail of a scorpion, and its leering face was that pale and whitened mass of bones and skin folds they had seen before.
“Let me hear you sing your praise to me,” it demanded.
Shortly, the assembly was filled with the sound of their screeching, scratching, dissonant voices:
“Siqqus, lord of the black earth, and of the forest floor,
and of all the creatures that crawl on the earth,
remember your former glory!
Siqqus, lord of the flies,
master of the swarms of the locusts, remember your former glory!
Siqqus, lord of the ants and of their armies,
Master of the worms, devourers of the flesh of men,
remember your former glory!
Siqqus, lord of filth and disease,
lord of all sickness and the plague, remember your former glory!
Spirit of the sickness and pests of man, open the Gate me!
Spirit of the entrance unto death, open the Gate to me!”
The assembly shouted its applause as they finished their macabre song, and the entity spoke one last phrase before it departed in a whirlpool of darkness: “With fear of pain and the terror of death I shall defeat them. I shall howl with joy as I watch the terrified look in their eyes and hear the cry of fear in their voices. They love their lives, and I shall cripple them with the fear of death as I always have! I am the Master of the Gate, and I command that it be opened once again! Spirit of the Moon, remember your former glory!”
And then it was gone.
And as quickly as it departed, another form emerged from within the chasm of blackness Siqqus had disappeared into.
The assembly beheld the image of a massive, silver-gray moon facing them, and all of them knew by this familiar symbol as much as its rank and order over Siqqus that the Spirit of the Moon, the Face of the Wolf, would arise out of the pit of darkness Siqqus had dissolved itself into.
From beneath the enormous moonscape came a roaring howl, and a fierce and deep pounding was heard by the gathering. They gathered their voices together in a unified deafening howl. A pale gray gate appeared between the image of the moon and the congregation, and the gray mists spread about them all as the spirits began chanting for the specter they summoned:
“Yah-Rayach of the heavens, remember your former glory!
Yah-Rayach, lord of darkness, hear and remember!
Lord of the evening sky and lamp of darkness,
Hear and remember!
”Gate of the Spheres of Razahn, open!
Master Yah-Rayach, swing open wide The Gate!
Master of the Moon, swing open The Gate!
Master of the Wolf, swing open The Gate!
Lord of the Wrath of mankind, remember!
Master of War, remember!
Spirit of Cain, hear and remember!
Bring the wrath of man upon himself!
Shed the blood of man by the hand of man!
Let mankind arise and devour himself!”
Another bestial howl arose from the pit as the gate swung open by their request, and the image of the wolf came rushing through the gate.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” came the monstrous howl. For a moment the assembly cowered as the ghastly Specter of Wrath manifested itself in the form of a huge shirtless man clad in blue jeans with the blade of a knife in its mouth. It removed the knife from its mouth, raised one knife-clutching fist into above its head, and screamed in a shrill and screeching voice:
“Yoo-hoo where are you, little creatures? Come out, come out, wherever you are! Lupe's here and he don't like to wait!”
The assembly was overtaken from its momentary fear by a loud laugh from within. The spirit shouted: “I will divide them one against the other! There is a gathering at the portal of entry; humans who will try to stop us with their prayers and their faith! I will tear them asunder with their own words, with their own mouths I will break them apart as they gather together for war, and with their own swords I will set them one against another until not one of them stands! I am Yah-Rayach, and I will divide and conquer man by the hand of man, as I have always done!”
The assembly fell to their knees again at the sight of Yah Rayach placing the blade back into its mouth. The spirit turned into the image of a wolf again that howled deeply and riotously at the overhead figure of the moon, and dashed off into the blackened void from which it too, had arisen.
Then there was another moment of silence.
Shortly the gathering perceived that which they expected, they knew well the order and hierarchy. The sound of a soft wind began to gradually arise and develop into the gale force of a hurricane. Some of the minor demons shielded their ears with their hands or wings as the sound intensified, and from the black pool of the maelstrom into which the others had exited gigantic black wings emerged, spreading outward until they spanned the entire breadth of the assembly room they were in. The gathering indeed knew what was arriving next, and they prostrated themselves again and began to chant to invoke the spirit of the air.
“Ru Ach, Spirit of the Air, remember your former glory!
lord of the dark desert birds, hear me and
remember your former glory!
”Gate of the Spheres of RaZahn, open to me!
Master Ru Ach, swing open wide The Gate!
Commander of the Four Winds, swing open The Gate!”
Ru Ach, speaks with authority of his father,
Great Ha Shamayim, king of the universe!
" Ru Ach, the Commander of the Winds, the son of Great Ha Shamayim,
the storm god who rises from the great abyss below.
Ru Ach, the Lord of the Air, who directs justice with Great Ha Shamayim,
who decrees the fates with Mother Zanah on the Mountain of Wisdom,
who placed in our hands the decreeing of the Great Winds,
lord of the dark desert birds, hear me and remember!
Hear and remember, and swing open the Gate!”
“I hear and I remember!” a loud and booming voice spoke out the pool of darkness. The gathering knew all too well that the tension would mount greater now, as the dreaded Spirit of the Air took flight over their heads and seldom missed anything that was ever out of place.
“The Oracle of Nimrod has been recovered, and the Gate shall be opened!” the hurricane voice of Ru Ach intoned.
“… I am Ru Ach, Commander of the Armies of the Four Winds …
one will join my service on this All Hallows Evening
as the great high priest of my sanctuary at the New Shinar,
and they shall feel the power and the control,
and they shall know my fury.
My talons shall bury themselves into their hearts and into their souls,
and they shall feel the grip of power and of control
that I shall hold sway over them.
I shall sow confusion into them,
and they shall know that it will be I who leads them into the new dominion, and they will know the new law that all shall shortly be compelled to obey.
I am Ru Ach , Commander of the Armies of the Four Winds,
and I shall command it to be so.”
This announcement was met with applause that was thunderous as the noise from the beating of the demon's wings became overwhelming. Shortly, this spirit also swept back down into the darkness it came out of.
Within seconds, the roar of the ocean was heard by the entire gathering, and the pounding of the surf combined with a sound like the furious thunder of a massive waterfall. The scent of brine and fish assailed their nostrils, and shortly they began to sing a new song:
“Lord Mayim, who walks nobly upon the waters of heaven and earth,
Self-reliant master Mayim, revered by Ru Ach his brother,
Fathered and loved by Great Ha Shamayim.
The noble watercourses belong to Lord Mayim,
the one from whose net no fish escapes!
Mayim … the son of Great Ha Shamayim and Mother Goddess Zanah,
Mayim … loved by the fish,
Mayim … placed in charge of the great sea beast from below.
A shrine he has erected: its interior is like a maze,
a shrine whose interior is a thing unknown to man.
a shrine whose lower station is the roving constellation of Aquarius.
The great gods dare not go near it.
Mayim sits up, and the palace rejoices!”
And indeed, just as they had sung, the “Master of the High Seas” appeared to them as the others had, out of the blackness and void it arose, tentacles above the pool, followed by the squid-like head, a fish-like mouth. As it arose from its kingdom of liquid, tentacles became arms, and the fish-like mouth became a crown that opened up at the top of its head. The image of an old man, trident in hand, seated on a sapphire throne, transformed from the sea monster that had arisen from the stinking pool of black goop.
It opened its mouth, and began to speak words that sounded like rainfall:
“ I am the father of all life, the giver of wisdom to mankind.
It was I who guided the foolish children of earth
into the final stage of their earthly existence.
Foolish earth creatures who walk like gods but think like animals
have paved the way for the dawn of the New Age of Reason.
We have surpassed and exceeded the boundaries of ignorance and prejudice
their fearful elders contemplated.
They have stood ignorant as we placed obstacles in their path.
I have enlightened the earth with the wisdom
that I had given to their great ancestors in the ancient world,
which has passed away.
Through their progeny who walk the earth now,
our great spiritual darkness shall rule eternally,
perpetuated by loathsome creatures that cower in the shadows
and pray to the invisible god that impoverishes them
and sends them into torment!
The dawn of a New World Order is at hand!
I am Mayim , Lord of the High Seas,
and I shall command it to be so.”
The assembly cheered, and the “Master of the High Seas” departed into the blackened well beneath.
A long pause followed as the assembled host awaited the appearance of the highest order of the RaZahn, the tri-unity of a family that was to shape the destiny of humankind in “The New Shinar,” and the first of these would be the offspring, the symbol of the branch, the sheaf of wheat, the fruit of the earth, the Shepherd King boy Tse-Mach, who, they were told, would shortly rule the earth, and pave the way for the reign of Great Ha Shamayim.
And they sang a song to invoke its presence:
“Tse-Mach the child of promise, the seed of the Bull and the Queen of Heaven
May Tse-Mach treat us to the songs of his precious harp!
Of a truth your father is a stranger no more,
Of a truth your mother is a stranger no more,
Your mother Zanah we will respect as were she our mother!
Your father Great Ha Shamayim we will respect as were he our father!
Tse-Mach: O master, you have come home!
Oh master Great Ha Shamayim, your bride is awaiting,
May she duly give birth to a little lad!
O my master, go into her in The Royal House!”
The fervor within the assembly had reached a fever pitch, and the assembly bowed down low as the rich green of the seawater they observed changed into a deep blue mist. The image of a young boy playing the harp, curled blond hair flowing below his shoulders, appeared upon a sapphire throne. Its fingers began to strum a rather dismal minor chord as it sang its song, once again dedicated to the destruction of the human race:
“I have descended into the nether regions of the world,
I descended there by order of my mother Zanah
Queen of the old world,
She who begat me through the seed of Great Ha Shamayim.
She shall come to my deliverance,
She shall descend to the depths of the earth
Where she has consigned me until the appointed hour.
The children of men shall gaze upon her beauty,
They shall be enthralled by the magnificence of my countenance.
The children of men will bow down before me,
They shall worship me as I sit upon my throne
to rule over them with the rod of my hand.
They shall sing their praise to me,
They shall worship me as their god,
They shall follow my decrees,
Their eternal destiny they shall entrust to me.
Then at the appointed hour I shall arise and conquer,
I shall slay the strongest of them by my hand.
For their allegiance to me I will repay them with bloodshed
Their souls I shall scatter to the four winds.
The rivers of the mountains and the lakes of the plains
Shall overflow with their blood.
The wind shall carry the stench of their rotting flesh
from one end of the earth to the other.
And the sons and daughters of men shall know that it is I, Tse-Mach,
the branch of the tree of Great Ha Shamayim
fruit and offspring of his union with Queen Mother Zanah, the warrior who leads them to the judgment throne of Great Ha Shamayim.
I am Tse-Mach, Branch of Great Ha Shamayim
and I shall command it to be so.”
The assemblage lay prostrate before their prince, and although a low murmur of adulation could be heard from them, they cowered before these highest spirits in their realm, knowing the remaining two monsters who had not yet appeared to them were the highest in the dominion. The deep blue mist gave way to a purple haze that filled the arena. The scent of lilac spread itself about them, and the spirits trembled in fear as their Queen ascended out of a red-ochre mist.
“Greetings, my minions,” came the deep and soulless voice of the one they called their “Mother.” “Let me hear you sing your praise to your mother goddess!”
The assembly spoke once again the invocation for their queen:
“Praise Zanah, the most awesome of the goddesses.
Let us revere the great mistress of the RaZahn.
She is clothed in pleasure and love.
She is laden with vitality, charm, and voluptuousness.
Her appearance is glorious;
veils are thrown over her head.
Her figure is beautiful; her eyes are brilliant,
to her greatness, who can be equal?
She is sought after among the gods, She is our queen;
we shall eternally execute her commands.
Women and men indeed revere her!
Zanah, Queen of Heaven, remember your former glory!
Ki, Mistress of the Gods, remember your former glory!
Inanna, Queen of the rising of the moon, hearken to us!
Ishtar, Queen of all People, remember your former glory!
Diana, oh bright rising torch of the heavens, remember your former glory!
Spirit of Venus, remember your former glory!
Spirit of Ashtoreth, remember your former glory!
Spirit of Kali, the Black Earth Goddess of death and bloodshed,
remember your former glory!
Spirit of the Virgin Goddess, remember your former glory!
Mother Goddess of our Prince Tse-Mach, remember your former glory!
Consort of Great Ha Shamayim, remember your former glory!”
“I hear and I remember!” Zanah said to the gathering. There was such a long sustained cheer of frenzy and hysteria among the gathering that the Dark Messenger held up his arms again, motioning the assembly to silence. The deep red mist whirled about them, forming into shapes of dancing female figures over their heads. In the right hand was a bow, on its back was a quiver full of arrows, its left hand was raised high with the palm out. Some of the demons gathered began sashaying about in a flamboyant, provocative manner, appearing to revel in the spirit's manifested image of femininity. It had taken on perfect proportions of a female figure: the exquisite golden blond hair from the crown of the head and streaming down the narrow shoulders, and the intense electric blue of its eyes. All of this seemed to penetrate deep into every spirit in the gathering. The “goddess” addressed them:
“I have descended into the nether regions as I have been called,
Wherefrom I have arisen
Wherefrom I shall seek my new companion.
I shall take with me seven mighty spirits from the nether regions,
Who shall serve as my handmaidens.
I shall arise out of the depths of darkness where I have been imprisoned
I shall seek my mate.
I shall give birth to the child of promise,
and he shall rule the world with an iron fist.
I shall raise him and train him to become the Prince of the World,
The ruler of the unwilling and unruly sons and daughters of men,
The image of the Enemy Of Our Souls.
We shall rule over them and again build the magnificent temples to our greatness.
They shall toil and labor and sweat and die for our great cause.
They shall respect us as the creators of their thoughts!
They shall adore us as the framers of their words!
They shall revere us as the rulers of their actions!
They shall worship us as the controllers of their destiny!
And my seed shall arise and make the way for our great king
Who at last shall guide us to our dominion
Who shall arise from the prison of darkness
Who shall arise to his rightful throne as King of the World!
And when the children of men are under our dominion,
we shall slay them and drench ourselves in their blood
The image of our enemy shall be vanquished for all eternity!”
The assembly had given way to frenzy, as the larger and mightier demons tossed smaller imps and forces about in the meeting area, and once again the Dark Messenger had to raise his hands to silence them as the Queen of the Underworld stepped forward to make one final announcement that stunned the entire gathering into utter silence.
“Mighty King Great Ha Shamayim, remember your former glory!”
At the mention of that name, the entire facility where they were gathered was plunged into absolute darkness—the spirits within could not even see each other in its midst. Some of them scrambled about in terror, knowing that they were going to get a rare glimpse of their terrible master, the one to whom they had pledged their immortal destiny, and for whom they had been banished into this darkened realm of doom and fear.
The minor imp the Dark Messenger had labeled the “gibbering spirit” cowered far behind the gong the Dark Messenger rang, deafened by the overwhelming sound and vibrations that seemed to emanate—not the victory that the Shepherd Kings were proclaiming was imminent—but the dawn of a new order of chaos and destruction.
“Forces of Darkness,” the Dark Messenger said to the blackened throng, wailing and thrashing about in the chaos the void had become before its presence, “invoke your king.”
The “gibbering spirit” cried aloud in terror as it realized that it was frozen in its spot, unable to move as the Dark Messenger glided near, staring down at it with a frozen sneer and a horrific gleam in its eyes, and whispered in its ear in a cold and vacant voice: “I believe you'll be a very significant part of your king's command performance tonight, sprite.”
A long pause followed as the assembled host awaited the appearance of their master. The gathering indeed knew what was next, and they prostrated themselves in wailing and tears of terror and groveling in acquiescence. As darkness engulfed the assembly, sudden and thunderous applause became overwhelming, and the tension mounted greatly as they were overtaken from a momentary fear by a loud, booming laughter from within the dark recesses of the caverns about them. A golden glow began to radiate from behind the assembly rostrum, and then something gradually began to make its way toward them. The gathering knew well that to placate their harsh master, they needed to sing praise to honor its presence. They rarely saw the master for whom they had sacrificed their eternal destiny in their quest for a higher position in the order, and understood the punishments that would follow if they failed to show proper allegiance and reverence. The Dark Messenger led them into an invocation of the most powerful entity in their dark domain.
Supreme god of the Planet of Man, remember your former glory!
God of Victory over the angels of light, remember your former glory!
Lord of all who leads the nations astray, remember your former glory!
Conqueror of the Spirits of Light, remember your former glory!
He who gives powers to the constellations of stars, remember your former glory!
He who wanders in the black spaces between heaven and earth,
remember your former glory!
In the name of the covenant sworn between you and the sons of men
I call to you to hearken to us and to remember your former glory!
From the Gate of Great Ha Shamayim to the blackness of the Abyss,
I call to you to remember your former glory!
By the Name which you were given on the Spheres of RaZahn
Remember your former glory!
Great Ha Shamayim, god of the black earth monster, remember your former glory!
Great Ha Shamayim, god of the assassin of man, the moon and the wolf,
remember your former glory!
Great Ha Shamayim, god of the Spirit of the Air, remember your former glory!
Great Ha Shamayim, god of the Conqueror of the Seas,
remember your former glory!
Great Ha Shamayim, god of the Prince who shall open the Gate for us,
remember your former glory!
Great Ha Shamayim, Master of our Majestic Queen Zanah, remember your former glory!
Master of the Golden Shrine of Etemenanki, remember your former glory!
“What is this you speak of when you ask me to remember my former glory?” came a deep voice that reverberated in the ears of all the terrified listeners in the assembly. “There shall be no more speaking of any former glory by anyone in my dominion. The glory that I once was is a firefly when it shall be measured with the fiery dragon I am to become. My glory that once was and now is shall dim in comparison to the glory that I am to become. My former glory shall be a dim firelight when it is compared with the glory that I shall be awarded. I shall excel to the highest position on the face of the earth, where the little simpering children of God shall cry out to their Creator to save them from my just judgment. They will find once again that their pleas for mercy shall fall upon deaf ears, as the Ruler of the Overworld has been cast down to earth, and all of his angelic minions, carrying their harps and their haloes with them. There they shall find that I, the God of this World, shall triumph over them, as we cast them into the abyss!”
A deafening roar of applause and adoration ensued as the blackness that enshrouded them gave way to a golden light that filled the arena. “Great Ha Shamayim,” as they had long called it, came into view. The spirit towered over all others in the gathering, dressed in its customary golden shroud, an enormous round medallion of bronze with the silhouette image of a black bull's head was draped about its neck and dangled down on the chest. A massive yellow turban was wrapped about its head and draped down to its neck. The only thing visible to the throng as a face was a pair of yellow eyes that glared out from the blackness of its visage.
“And now,” the massive spirit said to them in its rumbling voice, “on this All Hallows' Eve, we begin our last assault into the earth, into the dwelling place of man, and we shall dance upon their heads as we declare our victory. My son Mayim shall deceive them into believing they are the victors, that our emergence from the shadows is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom and understanding. They shall use their tools and their toys to advance their own cause, believing that we are giving them the victory.
“ And then shall come their sorrow, and their misery. As they revel in their conquest, we shall bear them down into the mud that is their home. We shall wear their blood as a badge upon our breast; we shall cloth ourselves with their rotting flesh, the stench of their corpses we shall wear as fragrant ointment. We shall laugh as we watch their souls plunge in the lowest depth of the fire of hell. As they wail and screech in torment, we shall claim the victory, and the world shall be ours.”
The din within the black abyss of caverns was filled with the howling of the spirits as they envisioned finally ascending out of the blackness into which they had for so long been cast. “Great Ha Shamayim,” as they called him, raised its arms above its yellow-clad head to silence its minions as it reveled in its glory. “And when we have cast their miserable weak little souls into the inferno they have earned, we shall make our upward assault into the Heaven of Heavens, through the azure ceiling of the earth into the celestial palace above all, and force ourselves past their guardians and their angels, past their dominions and their seraphim, past their cherubim which we shall cast below our feet. And then, after our centuries of waiting we shall see the fruition of our ambition: we shall ascend above the Enemy of Our Souls, the God of Law and Order. We shall approach His Holy Throne, we shall laugh as the All-Knowing One sees for the first time the true might of the powers of darkness, the victory of wickedness and evil over His sainthood, the conquest of darkness over light, the subjugation of holiness to the majesty of sin. I am the Great Ha Shamayim, and I shall command it to be so!”
The assembly had fallen once again into the chaos it had been in before the monster had raised its arms to silence them. They evidently believed the speech to be over, and eagerly assumed the “invasion” their master spoke of so frequently was immediate. But the gargantuan spirit raised its arms to silence the mob, and the “gibbering spirit” stepped backward in terror as its master approached it with a more menacing gleam in its eye than even the Dark Messenger had projected. The spirit tried to evade the monster before it but the effort was futile; the Master of the Assembly reached out one enormous arm and the massive hand had enclosed the minor spirit before it could even think to escape. It held the sprite aloft before the entire assembly, and catcalls and jeering accompanied the actions. The spirit was terrified beyond measure, and would at this point welcome the isolation of the abyss to this public humiliation with the potential of being trampled underfoot by the myriad spirits in the packed assembly.
“Look what I found,” the monster that called itself “Great Ha Shamayim” said to them. “I think we have a spy in the house.” The master of demons glared down at the imp menacingly. “I believe this one came down from the Heaven of the Heavens to listen in on our plan of action for the evening! What do you think we should do about this, assembly?”
“The Abyss! … The Abyss!” came the chant from the crowd. The golden-clad spirit chuckled lightly to itself at the notion, but the deep rumble from its throat could be heard throughout the assembly room. “I have a better idea,” it said to the throng of shadows. “I want to escort this little watchful angel myself straight up to the throne of the Enemy of Our Souls. I'll have him whisper his little secret into the ear of our enemy, before we cut them all to pieces as we ascend above their kingdom so high it would make them dizzy to look up at us! What say you, Kingdom of Darkness?”
The pandemonium in the auditorium had reached its apex, and the “gibbering spirit” screamed out in agony as it had so many times in the past for God its Creator to rescue it from the clutches of the Great Dragon, knowing all too well from its relentless attempts to get back into the grace of God over millennia that its cries for mercy would fall upon deaf ears. It had once been in the presence of God Himself, it had opportunity to touch the heart of God and minister words of comfort to human beings on earth before the fall, and had chosen to be a member of the rebellion against the Throne. It had been deceived into believing that the “Guardian Cherub” would perform the greatest of all illusions, and use its magnificent power and uncanny persuasive ability to create a dominion of pleasure and power for all of them in place of serving God the Creator. It would never have guessed the great pleasure it once had in serving God ministering words of comfort to people in the old order would be greater than any of the ideations of “pleasure” it had envisioned. The spirit was convinced that whatever the master had in mind for it now would be far worse than the blackness and void of the Abyss.
All rights reserved.
Inspired by the HP Lovecraft novella "The Dunwich Horror," this is excerpted from "Minion Web," my forthcoming novel of the investigation into the theft of the Necromancer Artifact, stolen from the San Diego Museum of history, by Commander Daniel Bennett of the San Diego Police Department.