A Paraleipomena By Horace Brave Scout






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The Flamesteeds of Ara

Falling for untold lengths of space and time--what was it? No one but God’s eye could have observed the seemingly endless fall of Evil Incarnate from heaven’s heights.

How deep was the Bottomless Pit? That was as far as Lucifer, who had no claim to his former name, since he had become a Darkness not a Light-Bringer--was destined to know; yet his descent, at one point or other, was arrested. Or, rather, a question was put to him. Which did he prefer? To fall endlessly in utter darkness of a whirling,chill nothingness that sucked and squeezed him simultaneously with agonizing pressures? Or would he like to exit?

Naturally, a speedy exit from the descent to nowhere proved appealing to the still falling archangel. But here he was challenged with iron-clad preconditions to which he must adher with the most strict obedience or else be cast back immediately, without reprieve, into the Pit. “Yes!” he cried, and instantly the Pit flung him out into what seemed in comparison like limitless life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But what had he agreed to in his pact with the Lord? Unknown to himself, he has served admirably to harrow heaven of those who would choose evil, over against the righteousness of God, if they had the opportunity to exercise their free choice--and one third of the angels had done so. Now he would serve another important purpose, quite like the first, though for a long, long time it was not apparent, particular in the minds of chief figures such as Michael and the Cherubs, just what the Almighty had in mind for this free-roaming bat out of hell.

Ara’s ruler, Uran, knew before it happened that Michael desired an audience. He rode his flamesteed, just as much later on Earth giant beasts called elephants would transport maharajahs on the subcontinent of India, as he toured the southern plains of the third planet, and pondered the events going on all about him in the heavens.

Ara was like all the other planets in the Fouth Heaven, a system of stars and worlds that teemed with life of every description. He had much to distract his thoughts, which were sober and lined with puzzlement.

As the freed Rebel neared Ara, a darkening of the Fourth Heaven had occurred, for the Rebel was spreading not only contaminating rebellion and sin, but he was vindictively destroying everything in his path. Apparently, having agreed to being quarantined to Earth I, he was determined to leave nothing behind of any use or beauty. Rather than let others have it, he destroyed.

But why had the Ineffable let him out? Why was he permitted to destroy all that the Almighty had created? What possible use was the quarantine on Earth I when the Pit had been sufficient to hold him and his followers forever?

Letting evil run rampant, spreading ruin everywhere in one of the two Universes, seemed too terrible to contemplate, but Uran was forced to look at it since evil was rapidly approaching his own domain.

Yet, when he was wondering what his response should be when the Almighty’s has been so permissive, Michael’s intent to call upon him reached him.

Yes! He would very much like to talk to Michael, Uran thought, and, no doubt, the thought reached Michael simultaneously.

Moments later, there was a flashing of light above Ara and then Michael stepped from the blazing light to bow and greet the Cherub.

The flamesteeds, their multiple eyes dazzled momentarily, pawed the crystalline ground with hooves like torches. Uran beckoned, and Michael leaped up to the chair. There was room for him too, and together they began to finish Uran’s tour of his southern plains.

Michael had seen it before, but he was forever refreshed with the magnificence of Ara, where the Almighty has expended unusual pains to create joy and satisfaction for his Cherub.

The passing arrays of creatures, all perfectly suited to each place, were enough to keep Michael’s attention, but his heart was heavy, and he could not receive much pleasure from the sights.

Uran, deferring to Michael’s mission, waited for his guest to speak.

“Will you stand with us when he comes this way?” Michael said, speaking as a commander in the war. “He will try to seize this gate, so that he will not be trapped on the other side.”

Now Uran had, for a time, thought the war was over when Lucifer was cast into the Pit. Now that he was released, everything that was formerly thought was overturned. No wonder he was puzzled!

“Yes, I will!” Uran finally declared, after he thought about his situation a bit more. “He cannot be allowed to destroy all this nor take the gate over which I have responsibility! Not while I am here!”

Michael paused, and eyed the Cherub grimly. “But he has destroyed other such stars as yours, and most of those who fought with me formerly have been called back.”

This was unwelcome news. “Called back?” Uran burst out.

“The enemy will have superior numbers.”

Uran was shocked. Why should the enemy be allowed so much latitude. He simply could not fathom the divine will on this point.

Nor could Michael, who shook his head slowly and sadly. “We may not, even together, be able to save your home, Great One, even if we do keep the gate from his hands!”

Uran’s eyes widened. He had never once conceived a thought that he might see his domains ruined and stripped from his hands like jewels from his fingers. But Michael, who did not lie, had just told him that such might very well befall him soon.

Then Uran grew angry.

“Let him work his worst on what is mine, I will resist!”

The flamesteeds, catching their master’s mood, suddenly turned ferocious, like they were riding volcanoes about to explode. The ground beneath them was sprayed with fire that shot from their hooves like raging furnaces. Their mouths open, and more flames shot out into the far distances, scattering the flocks of long-necked land fishes that swam in the shallows of the land-seas.

Uran, holding them in check, also blazed from head to foot, and Michael would have been incinerated except that he was beyond the touch of fire. In any case, it was not so much fire but intense holiness that spread out from Uran--and this was most scorching to anything that was not equal to it.

“He will come from that point,” Michael said, lifting his finger.

Instantly, the flamesteeds flew toward it, for Uran was ready to do mortal combat and needed no more prompting.

At the gates of Ara Michael and Uran were joined by Michael’s cohorts, and it was only moments later when a dark clouds with a bright center shot directly toward them.

Hundreds of millions of foul, unclean spirits struck them with the force of mountains uprooted and thrown.

Uran, with Michael’s help, wielded his sword and his flamesteeds also struck out with their fire, and the enemy forces were parted, like multitudes of fish around a great rock in a stream.

They could not stop the enemy, but they inflected grave damage, and the enemy, seeing that the opposition was dangerous, steered clear.

Turning to attack the retreating enemy, Uran and Michael flew after them, but since there were so many, and they were so scattered, it was an impossible task. Everywhere they arrived, it was too late to stop the damage. The fiends delighted in cutting every creature open, leaving it alive but lacking some body part, and those they slew outright they spread across the landscape. They were just as hateful to the vegetable kingdom, and also to the natural beauties.

Spreading their own fire, they blackened and turned upside down Aran world after world as Uran and Michael hewed down as many of the enemy as they could.

Then, suddenly, the host of darkness fled away, leaving Ara the Altar in shambles. Yet the Portal to the Earths remained in loyalist control, the control over the door-bridge being the reason for the enemy’s coming.

“He’s headed toward Earth I, his destination. He cannot avoid it, for he will be returned to the Pit if he does not go there. And he must go through this gate, so, be warned, he will not give up trying to tear it from our hands because we have had this first victory.”

Uran was appalled at what he had to view. His home had been destroyed despite his best efforts. Now Earth I was next. What chance did it have, since it was so small and had so few defenders? If a Cherub and an archangel like Michael could not stop the enemy, who could? Could they hold the gate?

Just then the chief of the enemy forces, Lucifer, appeared.

Uran nearly exploded.

Lucifer laughed. He was the same magnificent being, even without his attendant star-jewels.

Where were they?

It was Michael’s turn to look puzzled.

Catching his glance, The appointed Harrower of the Heavens smiled. “I can do without them if the Enemy wants them so much. For I would hate to deprive you of --”

“The Lord rebuke you, what you said is a lie,” Michael challenged him.

Again, as in a former time, the archangel seemed to darken and wilt when the rebuke struck him. But then he blazed forth twice as brightly, like a jewel of great evil and power.

“I don’t need their powers anyway!” Lucifer shouted. “Look at me, and what works I can do! Who can withstand me? Who? Not even the likes of you! It is commanded by your master that I be given Earth. You are rebelling against his will. Now stand aside. This gate is mine, and I am going through!”

Michael and Uran stood, tasting something bitter like defeat in the sting of the satanic charge against them, but they wisely said nothing.

Lucifer strood up and down, casting contempt at them. “It’s my will that matters now, not yours. Even with the Stones of Fire, you are foolish to defy me! Now I will go to the first Earth. True, it is pitifully small, but I will make a greater place of it than this wretched Ara of yours!”

There was a flash of light like a star exploding into jagged lightning, and then he was gone, leaving the crystal-clear air reeking with ozone and a sense of defiling contempt. Only one path to Earth I, prepared especially for him, was open--a dark straw that, that once entered, would permit not side excursions into the Fourth Heaven. Once at his destination, he could not penetrate the quarantine that the Lord God had placed round the planet.

Uran was amazed. Why did the enemy flee away just when he was most defiant? Were they, indeed, turned rebellious in fighting for the Gate of the Fourth Heaven? Michael turned to Uran. “Don’t be misled by the enemy’s proud words. He was given the Earth, but none of the gates belong to him. So he will be back when he is least expected. He will not give up the struggle until he has this gate in his hand.”

“But why must Ara be destroyed? If Earth had been fore-doomed, why must the enemy be opposed at the cost of Ara?

Michael, however, divined the Cherub’s confusion and had the last word. “He must be prevented from taking charge of this gate to the Fourth Heaven. He cannot be prevented from taking the Earth allotted to him for a time. But even so the heavens and the remaining Earth are the Lord’s. As long as we can oppose him, he shall not take what is the Lord’s. And one day we shall win back the lost first Earth!”

Uran said nothing more on the subject. He was in deep sorrow. To think the Almighty would permit such upheavals and the seeming triumph of evil! Why “allot” one inch of territory to the fallen cherub? It was beyond comprehension! What would come of it, allowing such things to go unchecked? Poor Ara! And poor, poor first Earth! What terrible woes it would now see fall upon it with such a master bent on spewing his full wrath and his evil upon it!

Just as Michael said, the enemy returned to the contest, since the outcome decided if he were really going to be held a perpetual prisoner or not on Earth I. In the violence the Cherub Uran suffered a terrible blow and was thrown from his flamesteads. They charged on without Uran, and Lucifer met them head-on, returning fire for fire. It was like two opposed suns spewing firebolts at each other, for the enemy knew that this gate was absolutely vital. Without it in their possession, they could not avoid the eventual return to the Bottomless Pit and, after a time, to eternal punishment in a lake of fire.

The ferocity of furious anger that Lucifer spewed forth from his heart appalled even the Cherub and Michael. Worse than the fire, the myriads of thunderbolts unleashed darkest, deepest contempt and hatred, and thoughts that could spread the greatest evils and corruption if they once pierced Uran and Michael’s armor.

What a foul contagious spirit Lucifer had despite his beautiful, brilliant appearance! In the blackened gate, with Uran unable to push Lucifer back, and Michael deflected by hordes of the enemy, Lucifer managed to slip through, though he wasn’t able to station his guards at any point where they could stand unmovable. In a moment his army fled after him, howling with triumph though they had not attained their master’s first objective.

Giving up the fight for the gate, Lucifer’s escape route was sealed off by his own decision to pass without first capturing it. He wasn’t giving up, he had assured himself he could find a way around the gate later on. And at least he had succeeded in gaining a good half of his objective: access to the Fourth Heaven hitherto denied him! Didn’t that expose a weakening of the Divine power or at least a fatal decline of Divine resolve to fight?

Soon shocking, absolutely appalling reports reached Michael and Uran standing watch at the Ara Gate of vast destruction Lucifer and his hordes were wreaking on the Fourth Heaven. What should they do now?

Leave the gate undefended? They had failed to keep Lucifer from his objective, and now he was destroying everything. In council Michael and Uran decided it was best to hold the gate with Michael’s troops, then go and pursue Lucifer and his main army and see if they could be turned back before all was lost.

Checking the word of God that was given to each over the ages past, it seemed the right thing to do, and they set off after stationing all the guards they could spare.

Even though the Ara Gate was useless to protect the Fourth Heaven now, at least it prevented Lucifer’s return to the Third Heaven. At all cost it must be held against him!

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