The Tower of Tzimtzum, Sitra Achra, Land of Zeus
Tenth Day of Aries, ten days after the Fall
Jacob joins Cathariel on the front of the Pulpit of Gilgul. Still in disbelief, Cathariel whispers to him.
Cathariel: What in the name of Tav are you doing here?!
Jacob: Reclaiming what was denied to me. Plus, someone has to fill the spot my brother left open.
Cathariel snorts in fury. So close to the throne of most power of all Eretsaphir just to be usurped by somebody that was out of the equation long ago. Jacob raises his hand to catch the attention of the populace below as he starts to pronounce to everyone.
Jacob: So what are these “foolproof, realistic plans” you spoke of, fellow king?
Cathariel tries his best to hide his spiteful mood and reveals an uneasy expression in his face.
Cathariel: They’re simple, really. We must reinforce the power of the temples and make the king the head of such power so he can’t be corrupted again to betray the Malakeben.
Jacob: So you basically want to gorge in more power than Sathariel Lucifer had.
Cathariel: No, I-
Jacob: You know, all these years being excluded from this position instead of expecting it from falling on my lap made me realize what’s wrong in Eretsaphir and it became pretty clear: too much power on the top. Both Sheiriel and Sathariel were a single man government on a nation too populated for that and Sathariel even talked about eventually creating a parliament after almost being killed for denying it by Stærk Orc, but, alas, he never created it. We need to create that parliament with 404 seats, each one representing each million of Daemon and each Land will be represented in direct proportion to its population. For example, the Land of Forseti will have one seat while the Land of Zeus will have 85 seats. After creating it, all we need is for political parties to form and let the people vote for them to elect a government based on the parliament.
The people witnessing the exchange were delivering different reactions. The majority were puzzled by Jacob’s idea of a parliament, mostly because didn’t know what a parliament was to begin with and what its existence implied, but those who knew applauded fervently the initiative for someone in power to finally disrupt the ancestral tradition of absolute leaders, be them of small kingdoms or vast empires. Cathariel barely manages to hide is contempt to Jacob’s proposition.
Cathariel: You’re but a stupid man, crowning yourself and striping yourself of all power and give it to someone else!
Jacob: Cathariel, I didn’t know you were as ignorant as you were greedy.
The populace yowls at the worded whipping by Jacob, while Cathariel notoriously grinds his teeth.
Jacob: If my vision comes true, you can still approve or fail any propositions by the government, pitch propositions to the government, dismiss the government or the current composition of the parliament and you can still rule over the army and its operation, so there’s plenty of power left for you. If I agree with your decisions, that is. So it’s really simple, you can be a king with limited powers until your death or you can apply for head of government for... I’m still undecided if governmental mandates should last 4 or 5 years.
Cathariel swallows his pride. Jacob already has his mind set in stone and the people already heard the promise of power for them that most of them didn’t even dream of before. To worsen the situation, he can’t dispatch Jacob to Pe’s bowels like he did with Esau now that he’s an immortal, even if he’s seemingly not aware of such. Cathariel turns his back to the people and whispers to Jacob.
Cathariel: You’ll regret that crown, sooner or later.
Jacob just shrugs off Cathariel’s threat as he turns back to the people and raises his hands alongside Jacob, marking the start of a troublesome diarchy.
Twelfth Day of Aries, ten days after the Fall
Ietsuna: Look, it’s raining!
The grey mantle of clouds covers Sitra Achra, washing the city with its rain, a phenomenon that intrigues many scholars of Eretsaphir. The water cycle of Eretsaphir is truly a curious one. The water that evaporates from rivers, lakes and seas, instead of forming clouds, it condenses and freezes directly in the central part of the Shamayim shel Qerach, aided by the winds that normally wind from the seas to the land, and only rains down when the Sun of Resh reaches its highest point and nearest to the canopy ice, on the Mountains of Eden, located east of Illay and dab in the middle of the springs of the four major rivers: Pishon, Tigris, Euphrates and Gihon. However, even though the waters of Eretsaphir precipitate the overwhelming majority of the time in such a small patch of mountains, rains also happen near other mountain ranges, like the Alecto Mountains east of Sitra Achra, making clouds and rains a curiosity.
Ietsuna looks at the abundant showers of water through one of the windows of the study room of the Alastor residence within the Tower of Tzimtzum. On the study, Jacob is overwhelmed by the papers of legislation, petitions and pleads of help from all over Eretsaphir he accumulated in just 20 Grand Hours due to his coronation and funeral arrangement of his father. Both the past events and the relentless session of reading have been taking a toll on Jacob, whose eyes are in a permanent droopy shape. Fortunately for him, Miburo has been a valuable aid for the cause.
Someone knocks at the door and Jacob lazily lays the papers he was reading on the table and opens the door, to reveal Rachel, a gorgeous Alastor with golden locks, dark skin and a belly swollen by the fruit of her love with the new king.
Rachel: By Tav, my dear, you have such a malaise on your face!
Miburo: You should have seen him when he saw for the first time the pile of papers!
Miburo frees a coarse guffaw as the couple embraces with utmost care due to the large belly.
Rachel: Don’t you want to go to bed to rest for a bit?
Jacob: Thanks, but I’ll stay for a while. The quickest we sort out Eretsaphir’s situation, the better.
Rachel: Why isn’t the Satan helping you?
Miburo: Too busy mending his own ass hole after this guy ripped it open.
Jacob: Watch your mouth, there are two kids in here!
Miburo: Like they’d understand.
Ietsuna stops watching the rain and turns back, confused by the mention of “kids”.
Ietsuna: What? What you’re talking about?
Miburo: See? That huge belly is messing with your head meats, Alastor.
Jacob: Trust me, it’s just one of the things.
The front door opens and sounds of wet steps and drips, much to the surprise of the residents. Everyone rushes out of the study and into the hall, to be flabbergasted by the furtive figure.
Jacob: Esau! You’re alive! How?
Esau replaces a response by walking towards Jacob and tries to punch him, but Miburo stops his fist by grasping it.
Jacob: Rachel, Ietsuna, Miburo, please leave this hall.
Miburo: Are you sure?
Jacob nods, making Miburo free Esau’s hand. The three people mentioned prudently leave the hall, making sure Jacob isn’t attacked again.
Esau: You bastard, how could you do this to me?!
Jacob: Everybody thought you were dead ever since the sundering of the Land of Tanen and I couldn’t let Cathariel rule alone.
Esau: That’s your biggest flaw, you just can’t help yourself but to meddle on things nobody asked you. You knew very well that crown was mine and father banned you from using it!
Jacob: If we’re pointing out flaws, you’re still a spoiled child! Father catered to your every whim just because you were born a few minutes earlier and you just convinced yourself you were entitled to everything! Damned be the second child!
Esau: Well, if you actually did something of value instead of being rebellious, you wouldn’t be in this situation!
Jacob: I did nothing of value? Are you serious?! I did everything to please our father but it was in vain because I wasn’t his precious Esau! So of course I was rebellious, why would I admit the injustice?!
Esau: You liar, you dropped out of the Ward and went missing multiples times with no explanation given! Even worse, I know you were mooching money from Sathariel while I was sweating blood to become a Rank 19 Captain! There’s no injustice in your end!
Jacob: Then ram your fancy title up where Resh can’t light because, while you were in contests to see who had the biggest sword, I was killing people because that’s what Sathariel was paying me for, his dirty work! Be damned your bloody sweat, I literally had people’s blood on my hands to make a living so shut up about working hard because you have no clue about reality!
Esau: But I do! You know who I met in the Land of Tanen?! The freaking Malakeben, Shin! And you know what he said?! That Sathariel was a devourer of people and for that he was devoured! I say the same will happen to you but much, much worse because you can’t die!
Jacob: Wait, what? I can’t die, what the hell are you talking about?!
Esau: That crown you stole was blessed with immortality!
Jacob hesitated on his word, not certain of the veracity of such bold claim, but then his mind shattered. He, who lived by the trade of death, never thought the only certainty in life would be taken from him. Immortality, a blessing? How can it be if he’ll outlive his wife, his children, his descendants, if the world around him will die and be reborn while he stands unchanged, alone in the sea of ephemeral. Jacob snaps out of it and catches Esau by surprise when he pins his brother to the wall with his right arm.
Jacob: WHO DID THIS CURSE?!
Esau: I don’t know!
Jacob presses Esau further, almost growling him in rage.
Esau: I-I really don’t know! Only Sathariel and our father knew who made it and they never told!
Jacob bites his lip and slowly releases Esau, ensued by pointing out the front door with the arm.
Jacob: Get out of my sight.
Jacob: GET OUT!
Temple of Beth, Lechimayim, Land of Tawuse Melek
2 Grand Hours, 8 hours, 43 minutes, 41 seconds (02:08:43:41)
Third Day of Aries, 511 Years after the Fall
Bento: And that was the last time the Alastor twins saw each other. Lord Jacob Alastor went after Esau because he regretted the words said because they were spawned from frustration, but no avail, since Esau disappeared. And that ends today’s lesson, tomorrow we’ll talk about the consequences of the Fall, starting with the Gates of Alecto and Megaera.
Only when he finishes telling his tale he realizes half of his little audience is either half-asleep or confused by the gaps born from the oracle’s censorship. Wasn’t the army in the High Temple of Tav when Esau talked with Shin? Why did Iemitsu invite Jacob to the Temple of He? But, regardless of their mental acuity, every single one of the orphans is glad that the lecture is over. Barbariccia gathers them around and thanks the oracle before leaving the auditorium, just to be surprised by a pandemonium of scholars rampaging through the library like they were hunting for a specific book. Alarmed by the ruckus, Bento walks towards the library and release a mighty yell.
Bento: What’s going on?
A Gusion, a demon with a baboon body and the head of a jackal, runs up to the oracle to elucidate him.
Gusion: The Gate of Alecto is active again!
Lodged in the Alecto Mountains and not far from the middle of the Second Royal Road, which goes from Sitra Achra to Natrix, the Gate of Alecto is an arc-like structure spawned from the cataclysm of the Fall, capable of forming random wormholes in the space-time continuum. To this day, nobody has figured out how the Gate of Alecto came to be and how it has acquired its mindboggling capability. Some have hypothesized that the gate is leftover technology of the Malakeben and it served to create Eretsaphir, others entertained the thought that Sathariel was secretly building a device to conquer other worlds.
Truth to be told, the only certainty about the Gate of Alecto is that it’s very uncertain where and when it’ll lead, always changing both location and time period every time it activates, which might take just a couple of days to decades or even centuries. To worsen this fact, it has no recognizable sign of activation or deactivation, meaning one could be forever stuck in the otherworld, baptized as Gaia after the myth of Lilith and Adam. However, the most baffling fact about the Gate of Alecto is that its counterpart, the Gate of Megaera, located in the very south of the Land of Hurakan in the Isle of Megaera, has shown no evidence of activity whatsoever.
For all these reasons, the Gate of Alecto has captured the fascination of scholars all over Eretsaphir, to the point of news of its activation flying all over the continent in a matter of hours. Bento, being a sponsor of history and information due to his title, was not immune.
Bento: I think we’ll have to postpone some lessons, matron. The last time the Gate was active was 112 years ago and we need to study it!
Gate of Alecto, Northern Alecto Mountains, Land of Zeus
2 Grand Hours, 9 hours, 03 minutes, 44 seconds (02:09:03:44)
Third Day of Aries, 511 Years after the Fall
Even if it has only been 71 minutes since the first news about the Gate’s activation, there’s already a considerable amount of both scholars and curious bystanders gathered in the small patch of grass immediately below the mountainous crag where the gate is lodged like a cave. Surrounding it by using improvised platforms, the few scholars from Sitra Achra, Arion and Natrix make preliminary tests, like planting rods around the gate to measure numinous levels, waiting for the scholars of the Temple of Beth and the Temple of He, who study the gate in the fullest extent possible. Unfortunately, they’ll probably spend 4 hours to reach the gate, so they have nothing else to do in the mean time.
Suddenly, an orchestra of unstable wheels, trembling steel and bursting gasps of steam is heard from a distance. Just a few moments later, a steam-powered vehicle enters the patch below the gate, revealing that the kings, Lord Jacob Alastor I and Lord Cathariel Satan, have arrived. Possibly due to some meddling by Medusa, both Cathariel and Jacob haven’t aged a bit, although the weight of the centuries can be witnessed in the jadedness of their eyes. The clothes also changed, from armor plates, hides and cotton vests and leggings to from frock coats, ascot ties and tweed clothes.
Cathariel: Looks like the circus is already pitching its tent.
Jacob: You always have to complain about coming here.
Cathariel: Just how many times did we come here to witness absolutely nothing of interest and we were already too late to catch the rogues who jumped through it?
Jacob: 435. You should have thought of that when you agreed to that article of the Constitution or all the times the governments gave you the opportunity to amend it.
Cathariel expels a wrangled sigh as both him and Jacob exit the vehicle. Jacob waves to the scholars above.
Jacob: Is there any word from Lechimayim or Nagasukujira?
A demon of angelic looks, a Penemue, looks down and responds.
Penemue: Not yet. I’ve already sent the message, but the answer might take about 40 minutes to get here.
Cathariel: That’s just great, what we’re supposed to here?
Jacob: There’s a little village near here, named Pulón if I’m not mistaken, we could rest there for the time. Only when the specialists come we’ll know what’s on the other side.
Victoria Drive, Hueytown, Alabama
Twentieth Ninth of June, 2008
Like the purtiest song floating through the branches of the tall trees, the day breaks in Alabama, more accurately Hueytown, a small town that serves as a suburb to Birmingham and where nothing much happens. Long gone are the days when the town thrived on the coal mines, when the town thrilled with the Alabama Gang and when the town was puzzled by a hum that was suspected to come from a gargantuan fan within a mine nearby, but never confirmed.
With the scent of freshly made black coffee and the soothing voice of Nat King Cole playing on the radio, the Kirby family wakes up. Waiting for the breakfast to reach the dining room, in the ground floor, Raphael Kirby is the patriarch of the house and the current pastor of the local Baptist church. Entering the dining room with a tray full of coffee, pancakes and syrup, Martha smiles to her husband while she lays the tray and calls for her sons.
Martha: Kids, come on down, the flannel cakes are right hot!
The Kirby sons, the twins Gabriel and Raziel, wake up in their bunker bed in their bedroom on the first floor. Although they share the same tanned complexion, dark hair and hazel eyes, it’s easy to distinguish them by their physique. Gabriel, the younger of the two by four minutes, sports a brawny physique, byproduct of his love for sports, especially American Football, where he’s a prominent fullback of the Hueytown Golden Gophers, representing the local high school. On the other hand, Raziel is much leaner since he’s much more enamored with science and philosophy. Gabriel, still dizzy with sleep, gets out of the top bed, while his brother groans and stays still in the bottom bed.
Gabriel: Didn’t you hear Ma?
Raziel: Don’t worry, I’ll be there in a minute.
Gabriel: It’s about last night, ain’t it?
Raziel simply gets up without saying a thing.
Gabriel: Put yourself in his shoes. In the mornin’ Unck Don left his job as deacon and thought to hisself “My Raziel has a silver tongue and he’s smart, I’m goin’ to make him the deacon!” and then, when he’s done talked you about it, you tell him you’re an atheist. You thrown him off!
Raziel: Are you saying I shouldn’t have why I couldn’t consider the job?!
Gabriel: No such thing, I’m just sayin’ that he only got right angry because of the shock. He speaks the word of Jesus Christ Almighty, a word of love and forgiveness, you’ll see he’ll forgive you.
Raziel: You really think so?
Gabriel: He’ll be ill for a while because you gone to his Sunday service with your heart closed to the word of the Lord, but he’ll be over it and will start preachin’ back to the faith.
Raziel: You’re probably right. But you seem calm with what I said, it really doesn’t bother you that I’m an atheist?
Gabriel: You’re my bro, I know you and that you know what you’re doin’. I don’t understand how you cain’t believe in the Lord, but if that makes you happy, I cain’t judge.
Raziel: Thank you.
After they quickly dress, they descend the stairs, Gabriel first, Raziel after him. When they enter the dining room, Raphael sets a cold stare on Raziel.
Raphael: I ain’t eatin’ my breakfast meal with some godless atheist! Go back to your room and wait for us to finish!
Gabriel: If Raziel ain’t eatin’, I won’t either!
Gabriel crosses his arms at the same time his father’s eyes do a slow burn.
Gabriel: I ain’t more than him and he’s still the same guy he was all these years. You might could give him a break, Pa.
Raphael glares his sons for a good half minute, before swallowing dry.
Raphael: Just sit down and eat. Both of you.
As they do just that, Raziel smiles. It’s not everyone who has such a valuable friend as a brother. The meal goes by with a word professed or a single glance. Only when a single drop of syrup is left from the meal does Gabriel break the silence.
Gabriel: You ain’t attending the meeting, are you, Raziel?
It only managed to make the atmosphere heavier
Raziel: … no. I’ll take care of the house while you’re away.
The silence perpetuated until the family left Raziel alone. Gabriel tried to break it a few times before he left the door, but such attempts were cut short by the imposing obduracy of their father, casting censorship with just a widening of eyes. For the first time, Raziel felt like an outcast for something he couldn’t help but be. He never felt the metaphysical even when he tried to do so, how he could believe in a thing he had no way to perceive, to prove?! This isolation is only made worse by the fact his family has a long tradition of being Baptist pastors and deacons. It seems the only consolation for him is that it won’t get worse than this icy resentment… right?