Friday, November 26, 2010

Chapter 34

I fell into the trap. It had been many days since I'd eaten and the idea of delicious food appealed to my hungry stomach. A large board platter of peasant and duck enmeshed between grapes, figs and pomengrates, was laid before me. I ate heartily, then sipped a peculiar tasting wine, drugged with a sleeping narcotic. I should not have been surprised to find myself bound with cords when I awoke. Even so, the guards were afraid to remove the sword. They planned to wait until I was dead before handing that items over to the Mahan. The Mahan stood over me laughing and licking his thick lips. Around his neck was the bronze necklace covering all the other jewels . They had me tied to altar beneath the statue of their vile god. I would be sacrificed to the sun god Re. The world was upside down. My whole body froze with fear. This is how it would end? A priest donning a tall hat and purple robe dug a dagger into my throat.

"If you are a sorcerer, who is your god? " The Mahan asked.

“He is the God of Noah.”

He spit in my face. "Noah is dead. I am the living god ," Mahan bragged. "And here is my prophecy. If the taste of your blood is sweet, I shall cause rain to fall and end the drought; if not, then I will cause your body will be dissected and scattered in the mountains."

"You do not have the power to summon the rain nor any part of the heavens!" I said. "You are not a god, but the devil. The true God will punish you."

The priest raised his dagger over my heart. A smile was on his lips and his eyes were glazed with ecstasy. "Quick!" Mahan said. "I thirst for the blood." The priest gritted his teeth and prepared to deliver the fatal blow. I shut my eyes and waited. My body shook with fear. Suddenly the world was spinning. I had known this scene before , seen others face death. My parents died from the effects of the bomb; Thomas gave his life in Normandy to the king who’d killed his father; Agnomon drowned trying to escape his own shame; and Heber's prisoner was tortured to death. Then there were those whom I murdered at the instance of Heber. I remembered Caicher's vision, the marriage of Tea Telphi and Heremon and the humble Nel who prayed to the true God. Perhaps I had a redeeming virtue which would also save me. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of the priest. My voice found words. "Dear Father in Heaven, thou knowest me; please save me!" The priest stumbled backwards. There was noise and wild screams. Not of narcotic delight, not of my death, but something else. I struggled to observe a lean and hungry Laboi ripping open the chest of the priest and everyone running.. Even the cowardly feet of the self-proclaimed god, the Great Mahan, ran with great speed. I managed to loose my sword from the scabard and cut myself loose. The wild dancing eyes of the beast were fixed on his prey as he tore flesh and broke bones. The sight of it sickened me and I vomited. Suddenly he stood erect and dropping the flesh of the priest from his teeth walked towards me .

“Get away from me!” I screamed, frailing my arms . “You are eating human flesh!”
His answer was a ferocious howl while showing me a full set of grizzly carnivorous teeth.

I ran through the streets and out of the city gate. All that I cared about was finding that other world, that city of love and peace promised by Allegoram. It must exist in this millennia. The scriptures spoke of Zion, a city which Enoch built to protect the righteous. I threw off the tunic and wore the sword proudly over my tartan kirk. I was not afraid. No one would stop me now. Instinctively, I journeyed into the south country asking for directions as I went. But no one had heard of Zion. My reputation of conjuring up a lion to rescue me from being sacrificed on the altar of the Great Mahan allowed me to move freely among the peasants. A simple life was preferred by the peasants rather than the fineries and luxuries of the city which included the evils of the Mahan cult. I took up with a band of nomads who fed me in exchange for tending a small herd of horses. Their flocks were a ragged selection of sheep, goats and chickens. The father of this group was Geran. He had not faired well because he had seven daughters. After being with his company awhile and trusted to tend the horses, he asked me to marry one of them, but I declined. I could never love anyone but Karscha.

"Do you know of Zion?" I asked him. His eyes told me that he did not. "Enoch?"

"Ah, Enoch! We have heard of Enoch. He is one of the grandfathers hundreds of years old.“

"Do you know where I might find him?"

"We only have the legend of this austere patriarch."

"Where is his camp?"

"It is rumored that he lives near a crystal sea so green in color that all that you need do is reach down into the water and grab your fish for dinner. The land is bountiful with figs, olives, grapes and citrus fruit. No man labors; he simply picks the fruit off of trees. And the herds are never hungry because the grass is always green. A paradise. But I cannot point my finger one way or the other to find it. Only those who worship the one god know of its location."

"I worship the one God."

Suddenly the whole story came together for me. Enoch, the city of Zion, which was taken from the earth and translated to its heaven. It's separateness from the human family was not enough for those who obeyed God's every law: they had reached an epitome of perfection and were worthy of translation. My heart beat wildly with excitement. This thousand years was to be the last phase of my search. I knew how I would leave the earth. The key meant answer. It was the entrance into the city! I would be translated with the inhabitants of the city. This is what Allegoram meant.

Geran breathed a long frustrated sigh. "Such a waste when you are so gentle with the horse. Ah, but you must follow your own course."

Although he was fair-skinned and a kindly man, it was unlikely that Geran was my contact in this generation. He was too greedily enmeshed within the culture. Surely that one person who has all of the answers will come along, take me by the hand and show me the way. But as solutions are difficult to discover and rarely fall into our path, so it is that the struggle for answers within my own soul continued. I was troubled over whether or not I was actually ready to pass into the glorious heaven. If Zion is the key, is there no one to help me find Zion? I walked for hours with the hot baking sun blistering my neck. When nightfall came and I still did not know the direction to the city of peace, my feelings of self confidence oozed away. Laboi was not tracking me. But with the eating of human flesh his wildness was unconstrained. Yet it was this ferocious wildness which saved my life! He was the answer to a prayer. Somehow the lion was linked to the quest for peace. This knowledge provided some sanity to what had occurred.

The sounds of the night sharpened my alertness.. Crickets, frogs, something moving in the brush. A howling wolf. The natives could not be trusted; they believed in appeasing their gods with human sacrifice. I was alone. The next morning after a sleepless night my aching body was drained of its strength; the hips were stiff, ankles swollen and the legs would only bend slightly. While rubbing the legs to try and restore agility, my empty stomach groaned. I searched for a clump of Laboi's meat, then remembered that he'd quit me. I dismissed the hunger. Somehow I must go on. I calculated a logical course southward towards the green sea and started walking. The noon sun shone directly overhead when I came upon another group of fair-skinned nomads also traveling south. A veiled woman seeing my weakness led me out of the sun into her tent and gave me a bread cake. After devouring it, I slept for many long hours. Upon waking and finding myself alone, I followed the trail of the nomads. The trail ended at the top of a wide crater of white sand stacked on a high ridge overlooking a basin of lashing waves of a green sea which were washing away the clay foundations of houses. I ran to the ridge where the nomads stood . A mushrooming cloud of smoke surged towards heaven while the sea closed in on the cataclysmic basin and swallowed up its remains.

"Zion is fled," the veiled woman said.

My heart sank. The supposition that I was worthy to be translated with the city of Zion choked in my throat. My search for someone who had the key eluded me and the supposition that Zion was my destination was erred. But one thing was certain. No one had the key but me. I was searching for answers. Allegoram had given me the test that no one on earth had ever been able to avoid and that is to discover a purpose in the eternal scheme of things. Enoch finished his work on the earth. His wisdom went with him. I had to find my own way.

"Did you know him?" I asked. "The man, Enoch?"

"He was a legend to us, that is all. What will you do now?"

"I wonder that myself."

The nomads eventually packed up and left the region. Once again I was alone. For some unknown reason, I began searching for the wild Laboi, but he had long since deserted me. I longed to see the gentle face of Katasha and to hear her consoling voice. The sadness of having lost her company was more heart-wretching than being too late for Zion. Once again I was displaced. For lonely persons, there is a time for tears and a time for self pity. I pushed back those feelings. My journey was not ended.

All day I sat there on the bank watching the sea waves churn to the surface an array of jugs, pots, clothing, all of the evidence of daily living, then splash over these items with a furious vengeance and bury them deep under crater. This millennia was shutting me out.

Adam-Ondi-amen. There was no memory of my placement into the era of the final thousand years. I was in an open country which stretched for miles across a flat terrain and ended at the foothills of a ridge of purple mountains. Sultry red roses grew in abundance alongside a road and a gentle breeze floated the petals across a meadow of yellow dandelions. Flowers of every imaginable color painted the landscape and the fragrant blossoms of white magnolia trees scented the air.

Hordes of families were all journeying towards a towering white temple which seemed to rise up in the clouds. It was unlike any other structure that I had seen in my journeyings. Nineveh’s temple, nor the tower of Babel, nothing of the Greeks or Romans, could not match its supreme majesty. Strangely, the generations after Adam had failed to achieve such architectural beauty. It was as though God himself had given the blueprint. A row of tall columns surrounded the temple and a vast terrace separated a declivity of steep mountain slopes. A cascading waterfall splashed down the mountainside into a basin of flat stones and fed a watery pool, then trickled down rocky cliffs and fell into a network of cisterns which served the temple.

I found myself following others along the yellow dandelion path to the temple. The closer we came, the more beautiful was the countryside. It was an earth I had never before seen or imagined. Adam’s memory of Eden seemed to be reflected in the landscaping and care of the gardens. It was as though Adam and Eve, having remembered the beauty of the garden of Eden recreated it in the wilderness. The private sanctuary of Adam and Eve. "What is the white cloud over the lodge?" I asked someone. "It is the cloud of God." I looked around me. Adam’s children were being called to a the last family conference with the ancient of days. It was both a joyous and sad occasion because only the better part of his heirs were assembling. As they staked their tents in the meadows and valleys, thousands more poured into the region. More than twenty seven generations had passed and the children numbered in the millions. If this were the better part, what is the count of the greater part not assembled? In my own cinder world the greater part oppressed the populace by using the tools of wealth and power. It’s over powering influence seemed impossible to stop. Apparently they were mimicking something which had been done before….the evils of all the generations which had passed. While the activities of the good people of every era bear criticism and tyranny, likewise these respectful children would afterwards return to that same frail human condition among their oppressive brothers and sisters were it not for Enoch‘s plan.

A festive mood prevailed in the center of the meadow where young children played music on their clay flutes, lyres, harps and sistrums and women cooked bread cakes in the smoldering coals of a dug pits and turned roasting pigs, deer and sheep over a spit. Excitement stirred as a group of men wearing turbans on their head and dressed in long white robes entered the arena of festivities. One of them sat on the ground next to a young boy and listened while he played his flute. When the boy stopped playing, he hugged and thanked him. His gentle spirit commanded the attention of those around him and they gathered to hear him pray. Never having heard anyone pray so lovingly for his brothers and sisters and with such concern for each one of them, my heart told me that this was the Enoch for whom I had so frantically searched in the last millennia. I listened to every word of the prayer, and understood. When he finished, he stood to his feet and addressed the crowd.

"It is time to build Zion," he said, pausing momentously to observe questioning eyes and anxious faces. "I know your thoughts. How is it that we are worthy to have God dwell among us when there is too much wickedness? Who among you hath not wished it? Our father is old and will soon die. Those sacred ordinances with which he has blessed us must not be scattered among the greater population where it's purity will be lost. We will build a city and a temple to preserve the link between ourselves and our ancestors in the spirit world. And we will baptize and bless our children and prophesy unto them of the savior who is to come and redeem the world.”

"Will we no longer preach to our apostate brothers and sisters?"

"The time is come to cease pleading with brothers and sisters. They have already condemned themselves by their own testimonies."

The news was both joyous and disheartening. The preparation for the separation of siblings was underway. Zion represented peaceful co-existence and unified purpose in those who desired to serve the God . But Enoch's Zion would only exist about two hundred years before the world would pay the utmost farthing. Then the end could come at last to the idolators, murderers, persecutors and oppressors. Their bodies would wash under the sea when the earth was flooded.

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