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Angelic Hosts Series Book 2, Episode 7, Part 2
A secret revealed…
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“Where are we going, Gabe?” Camael followed the angel blindly. He had no other clues to guide him at the moment, and he knew his anger at Michael would do him no good.
“To Lazarus’ tomb. It’s the one place you were told to go that we have not yet checked,” said Gabriel, glancing over his shoulder. Cam caught a glint of desperation in his eyes.
“You already know that was a false lead. Why even bother?”
“Maybe it was, and maybe it was only meant to make you think so. We won’t know until we know.”
“Why do you care, Gabe? What is it you really want from all this?”
They skimmed the rooftops of Jerusalem once again, this time heading to the West Bank. At the outskirts, they soared over the hills and valleys, finally alighting atop the al-Uzair Mosque. Gabriel stood looking out over what once was the city of Bethany. “Look at it, Camael. A Greek Orthodox church there.” He pivoted, then pointed, “A Roman Catholic church there,” and then he looked down at the wall around the minaret upon which they stood, “and a mosque beneath our feet.”
Cam stayed back a few feet. Gabriel was acting strangely, like a lion cornered and seeking a way out. “What’s your point?”
“My point?” He tossed a disgusted look in his direction. “My point is that these infantile humans know not what they are doing. They all think they have the answers, that their way is the right way, and no amount of truth will shake their beliefs. They say they’re Godly, but then they hate. They hurt innocent children, beat and rape women, lie, cheat, steal, and then they justify their actions not with the word of God, but with man-made rules, their rules!”
“They’re not all bad. They simply know not what they do.”
Gabriel laughed. “You know, Jesus said the very same thing. He, too, forgave. He, too, had the same goodness in him that I see in you.”
“And he was human, so doesn’t that prove my point that there are good ones?” Cam waited to see where this was going.
“Jesus was half human. His father was an angel sent by the Almighty. He was Nephilim,” Gabe turned to Cam, “just like your child.”
Cam blinked. He’d never thought about it like that. “You’re mistaken. Mary was impregnated by Him.”
Gabe reached out and touched Cam’s arm, his fingers squeezing gently. “No, Camael, He never comes down among them. He only watches. We, his creations, do His bidding, sometimes without even realizing we are carrying out His plans. And I have to say, it’s starting to tick me off.”
Cam gasped. “Gabe, don’t say such things!”
The restless angel looked up and around, spinning with his arms spread. “Why? Do you think our father can hear me?” He grinned looking for all the world like he was spoiling for a fight.
“Yes, I do.” Cam looked up as if expecting a bolt of lightning to shoot down at any moment. “I don’t, for the life of me, understand how you get away with your rebelliousness even if I get why you feel that way sometimes.”
A deep chuckle erupted from Gabe. “What makes you think I get away with anything? What makes you believe that even in my rebellion, I’m not doing exactly as he expects of me at all times?”
This stopped Cam cold. “Zaureliana mentioned that there were ways of keeping things from Him, but she wouldn’t explain, so I assumed you had some kind of shield, some kind of magical umbrella under which you hide your non-angelic dealings.”
“Then she is laboring under an illusion. There is no free will for us. He grants that gift only to humans, and even then, I’m skeptical.”
Camael shook his head, trying to take it all in. “You said the Nazarene’s mother was impregnated by an angel sent by God.” He looked at Gabriel. “According to our legends, you were the angel sent by Him.”
Gabe lowered his head. “Yes.”
“But the gospel says you told her that the Holy Spirit would visit her that night.”
“I did say so.”
Camael pushed it further. “You’re saying you visited Mary, the Virgin Mary, that night?”
Gabe looked up. “Yes.”
“Then the virgin birth was a lie? You lay with her?”
“In a sense, yes.”
“What do you mean “in a sense?” “How else do you lay with a human?”
Gabe rubbed his hand over his jaw. “I was the vessel of delivery, but the soul that would be born of the seed came from Him. It was a piece of our father, a tiny spark if His divinity.”
“But all the physical attributes were yours…and hers?” Cam was stunned.
“Yes.” Gabe sighed. “For all intents and purposes, Jesus of Nazareth was my son.”
Cam ran a hand through his golden hair. “Well, that explains a lot about why you never seem to suffer the consequences of your less-than-angelic actions.” The sun began its descent to the horizon. Soon, it would be dark, and time was running out. “So, Gabriel, just what does that mean for me? What does that make my child?”
He locked his violet eyes on Cam’s crystal blues. “Your child is the second coming. Your child holds the fate of this world in its hands, but that won’t happen unless we find this blade first. Astarte doesn’t want to see an age of reason. She wants chaos to reign…” He sucked in a breath and continued. “And she wants to punish me.”
Misery clouded Gabe’s eyes and colored his voice with grief. “For loving Mary.”
“You loved her?” This had not even occurred to Camael. “She was a married woman.”
“Not until after.”
Cam’s mouth hung open in shock. “But, Gabe… I mean…”
Gabriel felt his condemnation. “I know what you meant. And I respected her status. There was only ever that one time, the only time I was allowed to be with her, but afterwards I left Astarte to keep an eye on Mary, to be near her until the end of her time on this Earth. She never forgave me for that. After Mary passed on, I tried to go back, but she would have none of it. Finally, she relented, and our relationship heated up once more. We were a couple again, but then I found her.”
“Found who?” Cam was getting confused. Gabriel had one complicated love life, and it still astounded him that he had one at all, that so many hosts of his acquaintance were engaging in these relationships.
“Mary, of course. But she wasn’t Mary anymore. She’d been reincarnated into a remarkable woman. She was to be married to another, that was her destiny, and again, all I could do was be a shadow in her life. I visited her once when she was but a girl, battered and bruised by a father who twisted the word of God for his own sick purposes. I told her she had a real father who loved her very much, and one day, an angel would come to take her to Him, that she must simply live her life.”
Something clicked in Camael’s head. He’d heard these words before. Understanding began to unfold inside him. “What was her new name?”
Gabriel’s voice dropped low, speaking softly. “Elia.”
Silence settled over them as Camael absorbed this information. He’d personally delivered Elia to the throne. She’d been welcomed home like royalty, and now he knew why. So that was the mother of Jesus… He walked over and sat on the wall. “So now what?”
Gabe looked out over the edge of the mosque. “Now, we go down there to Lazarus’ tomb and see if there’s a surprise hidden in it.”
“It’s a public tourist spot. Surely there’s nothing there that hasn’t already been found.” Cam was not convinced they would find anything at all, and his heart sank as he realized that without the blade, time would run out, and any chance of saving Hannah would disappear.
“That area isn’t his tomb. The tomb itself is buried beneath this old church. The one open to the public belonged to his family, and his sisters were later placed there, but an earthquake in the sixth century buried the actual tomb of Lazarus. I don’t think anyone has set foot in it since then. It’s sealed.”
Cam looked up. “Did you say sealed, as in, unopened?”
Gabe replied. “Yes. That’s what it usually means.” It suddenly hit him. His eyes grew wide. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“I am.” Cam stood. “Shall we?”
They jumped over the side, careful to avoid being seen. On the ground, Gabriel led the way inside the mosque through a side door. “We’ll have to get down into their catacombs. From there, it will be tough going.” He looked back at Cam. “We’ll have to break through a few walls.”
“I don’t care. Let’s just find this blade fast.”
They rounded a corner and came face to face with a cleric. The man wore a white turban and black flowing robes. The wire-rimmed glasses on his face slipped forward down his nose as he suddenly stopped, looking up at the two large men dressed in black. “What are you doing here? You should not be here!” He raised his fist to shake it at Gabriel who reached out and touched the man’s hand. Instantly, he fell forward in a slump. Gabe caught him and laid him down on the stone floor.
“You didn’t kill him, did you?” Cam checked the man’s breathing by watching for the rise and fall of his chest.
“Of course not. What do you think I am? A Dark One?” Gabe gave him an exasperated look. “Let’s go. He’ll sleep it off and won’t even remember seeing us.
“That’s a handy talent you have.”
They found the staircase that led down into the burial chamber where past clerics and those considered holy by the Islamists lay enshrined. It was behind one of the walls of tombs near the east end that Cam noticed a crack. “Here. It has to be here.” He leaned in and sniffed. “Yes, there’s definitely a hollow space behind this wall.” He fit his fingertips into the crack and yanked for all he was worth. A massive chunk of the wall came down showering him with dust. Bones fell from the crumbling stone, but behind that now opened tomb, was a hole. Dust particles floated through from the other side, and a hiss of air blew a dank, moldy odor into the room.
“Stand back.” A golden ax appeared in Gabriel’s right hand. It was a large, heavy, and ancient weapon. He gripped the handle with both hands, and flexing his muscles, hefted it high, and then let it fly. It struck the wall above that small hole tearing down the boulders and pulverizing the aged mortar. A second swing opened the entire wall.
Camael stepped around the clusters of bones still wrapped in shrouds. He entered the crawlspace and looked left, then right. He spotted an archway at the far end. “We’ve found the old stairs, Gabe.”
Gabriel anchored the axe across his back into a leather holster that disappeared from view as soon as it was sheathed. “There should be twenty-four steps down if it’s the right staircase.”
Camael made his way to the door and took the first step. “One…”
Gabriel followed and counted each step as he went. “Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four.” He landed in a dark corridor.
Camael grinned. “Now would be a good time to find us a torch.”
Gabe laughed. He felt the walls seeking something he could use. His hand found an old torch holder on the left side. In it, thankfully, was a torch. He waved his fingers over the top of it, and it burst into flame. “And Gabriel said, “let there be light.”
Cam snorted. “You’re such a blasphemer.”
“I think we’ve covered that already. Let’s go. Time’s wasting.” Gabe led the way following the winding path as it narrowed. Their shoulders could barely fit through, and they had to step sideways. When it seemed the path would never end, it did. Gabe faced a solid wall.
“Well, we seem to have arrived at a dead end.” He twisted his body around to look back at Cam.
“Exactly. Look down.” Camael pointed.
Gabriel did so and noticed what appeared to be a pile of stones about as high as his knees. “We could ghost through it,” he suggested.
Cam shook his head. “We don’t know what’s on the other side. We need to remove the stones first, at least, some of them, so we can get an idea if there’s even room to materialize inside. If not, we’re stuck with excavating all the stones and one of us crawling in to see if it’s there.”
Gabriel faded to a wisp and walked through Camael to gain the other side. He became solid again and grinned. “It’s your party. You do the digging.” He stepped back further, giving him room in which to pile the stones.
Cam shook his head and leaned down. He began loosening, and then lifting the large rocks that had been carefully constructed to fit together and form a seal in the opening to the burial chamber. As each one was dislodged, he reached behind himself to drop them down onto the vacated ground. Gabe stayed back, merely holding the torch to light Camael’s way. The pile grew higher, but finally, he broke through.
“It’s definitely hollow in there.”
More rocks landed atop the pile smacking loudly in the small space. The opening was now cleared out and a rectangular hole three feet high and close to three feet wide opened before them. Cam knelt and angled his body to slide in. It was a tight fit. His muscular shoulders took up all the width.
“Hand me the torch.”
Gabriel stepped up and leaned over the pile of stones. He placed the handle in Cam’s hand, but he still had to wiggle back out of the hole in order to put the torch through first. He scooted back inside. Gabe watched as his legs disappeared through the small doorway.
Minutes ticked by and Gabe became impatient of standing around in the dark. “Well? Is it there? What did you find? Cam?”
Light flickered, and then grew brighter. Flames came out of the small hole, and he could see Camael wiggling back out. He reached down and took the torch from him, and then grabbed Cam’s arm with his free hand, yanking him all the way out and onto his feet. The golden-haired angel held what appeared to be a pile of rags in his hand.
Gabe lost all pretense of patience. “Well? What is it?”
Camael slowly unwrapped the fragile cloth. The light from the torch bounced off something shiny, something metallic, something made of gold. He dropped the remainder of the wrap which nearly disintegrated as it hit the ground. A burnished multifaceted hilt engraved with ancient angelic script was revealed. The blade was forged of an unrecognizable metal flecked with bronze, silver, and gold. It was the size of a short sword, and still lethally sharp.
Camael wrapped his hand around it and held it higher. Gabriel’s eyes went wide with surprise.
“I honestly never truly believed that it existed.”
Cam agreed. “I’ve known about it for far less time than you, and I didn’t believe it, either.”
Gabe reached out to take it from Camael, wanting to hold the legendary Blade of the Morning Star himself, but Cam held it away.
“Come on! Let me see it.”
Cam shook his head. “I was tasked with retrieving it. It will not leave my possession.”
Gabe sighed and rolled his eyes. “Goody two shoes. Let’s go then. We don’t have much time.”
“Wait! Where are we going? We don’t even know where this ritual is taking place.” Camael followed as they moved faster exiting the underground burial chamber.
“I’m sure there will be another messenger awaiting you above. We’ll know shortly.” Gabe took the old stairs two at a time reaching the catacombs beneath the mosque before Cam.
As Cam followed, he heard the clash of steel.
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