Gangus's dreams for his people seem shattered once he learns the god's
true reasons for his journey to Bethica.
Visions of the Gods
Gangus, asleep in his tent--heard a voice that sounded like a whistling breeze. Straight away, he was swept into a blurry vision where he stood before a strange male figure.
The radiance of that figure's glory filled the surroundings like an endless sea--clear and bright as crystals. Rivers of colorful light appeared as inverted topaz.
The figure sat upon an ebony throne decorated with ruby stones. Circling the throne were dark hues of yellow and orange as resplendent as gold. On a lower tier, shone four thrones decorated with sapphires: Upon each throne sat--Dahlia, the goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women, Gailzur, the god of war, Nelchael, the god of the underworld, and Zakzakiel, the god of peace and tranquility.
Gangus stood in an enclosed place that had no roof; high above it, the moonless sky bore no heavenly light. Only the halo above their crowns was needed; it lit up the firmament, and the bright gems at the bottom of their thrones were the lamps of its misty floor.
As Gangus stood, his blurred vision suddenly became clear. When he swept his eyes to gaze upon the figure--the head deity, his glory caused Gangus to drop at the foot of his throne like a puppet cut from its strings.
Earlier in the third heaven, a meeting of the gods had taken place. In robes that glittered like stars, Raziel, the god of gods, and Gailzur, the god of war sat at a round, marble table waiting on Dahlia, Nelchael, and Zakzakiel.
"Well, Raziel, Lord Abram, and his tribe finally made it. It seems you made a good choice this time."
"I am quite pleased," Raziel replied.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Gailzur asked.
Raziel spoke matter of factly. "They need to rest, Gailzur. We can't rush it. Look what they've already accomplished."
"Rush it? The Nordoxz are moving east where they will surely come in contact with Lord Abram and his people."
"The man doesn't even know the real reason I summoned him here," Raziel snapped. "We need time to prepare him. Besides, unlike the other mortals I had summoned to destroy the Nordoxz, Lord Abram won't turn and run."
Gailzur laid a finger upon his chin. "Yes, I do recall sometime back when he trained an army of farmers and defeated the trolls--the same trolls that wiped out a large village and the king's army that was sent to protect them."
As they waited on the others to arrive, Raziel's pet birds entertained them with sweetly tweeted tunes. Gailzur sat quietly then fidgeting in his chair, he muttered, "Where in heavens are they and especially Dahlia?"
After thanking and dismissing his birds, Raziel said, "You know Dahlia. She loves to make her grand entrance. And by stars don't start anything."
"Start what? I'm just asking where she could be."
At that moment, as expected, Dahlia made her grand entrance draped in a floor-length, ice-blue, shimmering garment. She strolled towards them, her train trailing like a thin blue stream.
"Well, it's about time, don't you think?" Gailzur snarled. "And where are the others?"
She didn't answer, but scooped up her train and walked around to each--lowering her cheek for a kiss which Gailzur bestowed begrudgingly.
"This better be good," she said. "I was just in the midst of elevating six new priestesses when you summoned me." She took her seat across from them.
Gailzur cocked his head and made a pity sound with his teeth. "Oh...did we take you away from your giant dolls?" He hated the way she doted on, what he called, her six-foot doll babies--and the way she'd encouraged them not to trust men.
"Stop calling them that," she snapped.
"Dolls, dolls, silly big dolls," Gailzur repeated childishly.
"You call them dolls again and so help me ..."
"All right you two," Raziel warned. "We're here to discuss a mortal war, not to start one among the gods." He turned from them momentarily. "I swear you two can't be on the same planet without arguing with each other."
Still reeling from Gailzur's comments, she pointed her finger at him but glared at Raziel. "You tell him to stop insulting my dolls... I mean..."
"HA!" Gailzur howled with laughter.
"You see, he's gotten me so upset!"
After Raziel cut an eye at him, Gailzur muffled his laughter, but Dahlia saw that his shoulders still shook. The lines in her forehead slowly smoothed and a curl appeared at each corner of her mouth.
"Uh-oh," Raziel mumbled, knowing her temperament.
She slowly turned to Gailzur and smirked. "I think I'll send a lightning bolt in the midst of those little toy soldiers you're always playing with," referring to the vast armies that worshiped him.
Gailzur cut off his laugh, his gaze burned as his eyes fell upon her. "You lay one finger on my armies, and I'll turn those man-hating rag dolls of yours into eighty-year-old hags. Let's see who'll mate with them then."
"Stop it, both of you," Raziel warned. "I am tired of refereeing you two every time we come together. The Nordoxz are going to destroy Bethica if we don't do something. Now, try to get along!"
"What's the matter," Nelchael, the god of the underworld spoke as he entered, "forget how to rain down fire from the sky? Sounds like you're getting soft," Nelchael said of Raziel with a sinister laugh.
Dahlia turned quickly and watched Nelchael as he strolled towards them--his long robe as black as volcanic rock and sparkling as if sprinkled with crushed diamonds.
"You'd like that wouldn't you, Nelchael?" she scoffed. "You'd like raining burning stones from the sky or raising more foul creatures from the dead as you did in Horromog and Modes."
"That's right, blame me," he said taking his seat. "Mortals couldn't possibly be evil all by themselves."
"You deny it?"
"Of course not. I've done nothing mortals haven't requested me to do."
"I just bet you tried talking them out of it," she scoffed.
"Three times, those are the rules--right Raziel? And if I can't, their souls are mine. You know that Dahlia," Nelchael said with a sinister grin.
She gritted her teeth and stared at Nelchael. "I don't understand how you can even stand yourself."
"What now?" Nelchael blurted.
She sighed and shook her head. "While the rest of us try to bring sunshine into our creation's lives, you're helping them destroy themselves with black magic. You're supposed to keep the underworld in check, not use them to please revengeful mortals."
"It's not my fault mortals enjoy delving into forbidden things they can't handle."
"Yes, but you..."
Dahlia, Nelchael," Raziel interrupted. "I hate to break up this little rendezvous, but if we could get back to the matter at hand...and to answer your question, Nelchael. Raining down fire would destroy Bethica. We don't want to make the same mistake with this world as we had with others. Our powers are simply too strong to settle matters among mortals. "
"I have a question."
Raziel was more than happy to answer Gailzur's question and turn them from bickering. "Yes, Gailzur. "
"What else do we have for Dinary?"
"I can answer that," Dahlia said fingering with her sparkling bracelets. "Zakzakiel has a plan of his own for Young Dinary--though he hasn't revealed much. The necklace he arranged for Dinary is very powerful and, I believe, could be instrumental in defeating the Nordoxz. I do recall him saying something about ramping up the power of the necklace."
"Oh, yes," Gailzur said. "I forget how mysterious Zakzakiel can be. He's always done things his own way. And where is he, anyway?"
Dahlia pulled out a mirror and started primping her hair. "Zakzakiel prefers being among the mortals. He likes it. I've never understood why. He either walks invisibly among them or in some fleshy incognito." She twisted a curl then put away her mirror. Besides, I'll fill him in on our meeting."
"Well," Raziel said, speaking smugly, "at least Zakzakiel is on our side and not making the Nordoxz in the west a growing threat by using black magic to create beasts to do their bidding."
Nelchael knew Raziel was referring to him. "Hm, sounds like something I would do," Nelchael said. "But sorry...wrong again." He waved his hand at them. "You know, it's amazing how you three can play chess moves with the lives of your subjects--bringing them across dangerous paths under a false pretenses. And with a straight face no doubt. At least my worshippers know what they're getting into and the consequences of their actions." Nelchael laughed deeply and loudly, with the sound of his laughter trailing off as he slowly disappeared.
"Good, he's gone," Raziel said. "Now do you see why it's important for Lord Abram to succeed? That's why we are here--to work together to save the land of Bethica from the Nordoxz. Now, dear Dahlia, have you considered what we spoke of in our last three meetings?"
"Yes, and the answer is still no. I am not forming a male priesthood. My Domarian priestesses would be furious...they want me all to themselves. Besides, they'd feel betrayed."
"Why are you being so stubborn about this?" Gailzur snapped. "We've been over this time and time. Why can't you..."
"Gailzur," Raziel interrupted, "let me handle this."
Raziel leaned forward and spoke quietly to her. "My dear Dahlia, it will only be temporary. It will take team worship to bring down the Nordoxz; your women won't worship anyone but you. They shunned orders from men. And most importantly, my dear Dahlia, you have gifts our male priests and warriors could use to build a powerful fighting force."
"But my Domarian women are well-trained warriors. Why can't you just let them fight with the men?"
"Dahlia," Razil pleaded, "don't you see, unless we can bestow all of our gifts on one army and have full worship and loyalty from all of our subjects...including priest and priestess, we cannot hope to destroy the might of the Nordoxz that has powerful dark forces behind them. We need to pool our strength behind a man like Gangus, who has the gift to train ordinary men to be fearless warriors.
But before he can do that," Raziel continued, "he must raise a mighty army from among the Timbaknis, Engamars, Aenwyns, and Qu'Venars. It won't be easy since they always resist getting involved in anything that doesn't directly threaten them. Plus, they don't particularly trust or like each other."
"And you truly believe Lord Abram is the man who can pull them together?"
Raziel could see a spark in Dahlia's eyes and he hoped he hadn't misread them. "I do," Raziel answered quickly.
She pondered a few moments, placing a finger against her rosy cheek. "He is an extraordinary man," she said. "No mortal has ever killed a Drake or fought against the undead the way he and his men fought. And this is only temporary you say?"
"You have my word," Raziel assured.
She thought a while longer, and then said, "All right, I'll instruct Brehira to choose seven priests from among her male people. But they must be single and men of honor," she said with her chin slightly raised. "I'll just have to make my priestesses understand."
"Be firm with them, my dear," Raziel instructed. "You've spoiled them to no end. I know this decision wasn't easy for you." Raziel blew out a breath of relief, "But finally, my dear Dahlia, you have come to understand the importance of this."
Surprised at her sudden change of heart, Gailzur looked upon her kindly. "My dear, Dahlia allow me to apologize for speaking harshly about your priestess. It started a tease that got quite out of hand. My fault, of course." He smiled and held out his hand. "Shall we call a truce...for the sake of Bethica?"
She searched his eyes and spotted sincerity--took his hand and cupped it within hers. "All I ever wanted was your respect, Gailzur, and you have shown it."
Gangus trembled in a cold sweat as he lay face-down at the foot of the figure. For no mortal had ever been summoned to the throne of Raziel.
Raziel adjusted his appearance so mortal eyes could look upon him. "Rise, Lord Abram. You are not dreaming, and this is not my natural form; that is forbidden to mortals. You've received a great gift. For to other mortals, I am but a voice, but to you, my loyal servant, I have granted you my presence."
Gangus stood shaking in his nightclothes. "B...but, w...where am I?"
"When you are in my presence, you are everywhere, for I am everywhere. I am Raziel, the god of gods. I have brought you here to say how pleased I am with you--that you made the journey. And...some other things," he mumbled lowering his eyes.
"I am glad you are pleased, my dear savior. And the land is indeed beautiful. At last, I and my people will live a quiet and peaceful life and...and we owe it all to you, Great Lord of the universe. You...you have no idea how much the people worship you. Oh...oh of course you do. After all, you know, see, and hear everything. How very silly of me... Great Lord, we..."
"Oh Great Lord, I...I'm so sorry. I'm not letting you get a word in..."
"No Lord Abram. It's not that. There is something more I must tell you."
Gangus stood looking like a little boy. "Yes, Great Lord?"
"I'm afraid it isn't peace and tranquility...just yet." Raziel watched Gangus's forehead wrinkle. "You see, bringing you here and giving you the land was really putting the cart before the horse."
"Thee cart before the horse, Great Lord?" Gangus repeated, slowly.
"I rewarded you for a task you have not yet performed because I have full confidence that you will perform it."
"The land was a reward for a task I haven't performed?"
"Yes, you know...the cart before the horse."
"Ah, Great Lord, I'm...not sure I..."
Impatient, Raziel blurted, "Lord Abrams I brought you here to raise an army to destroy the great and deadly Nordoxz who, with the help of demonic forces, has never been defeated and is positioned to destroy Bethica and I can't let that happen. I rewarded you the land because I've watched you over the years and have found you to be an extraordinary man of great courage, an impeccable warrior--an excellent trainer of fighting men and know you won't fail. So... there it is," he said, letting his voice drop at the end.
Gangus stumbled back--his mouth swung open and he stared. "Raziel--god of gods? Lord of lords? You lied to me? My people have suffered greatly coming here. Many lives were lost. They trusted me and followed me here."
"I told them I was bringing them to a land of peace and tranquility. I knew it was possible that we might have some problems with the inhabitants, but we were prepared for that. But...but this? Telling me these Nordoxz creatures will wipe them all out if I don't raise an army?"
"I did not mean to deceive you, Lord Abram, but you would not have come otherwise. The gods cannot destroy the Nordoxz without wiping out the universe. We can only help through the might of our creations. You must save Bethica."
"I...me...must save Bethica?" Gangus chuckled nervously. "Do you have any idea what you've done?"
"Lord Abram, listen."
"Do you have any idea what this means? My wife's heart will shatter into little pieces."
The people will hate me, turn from me, and they should.
"My...my soldiers who watched their fellow warriors die in ways too horrible to imagine. They might just string me up from...from the nearest tree, and I won't blame them."
"Gangus, will you listen?"
"In fact, I'll help them. I'll put the rope around my own neck then..."
"For heavens' sake man, are you through?"
Gangus stood, looking bewildered.
"Gangus, I will speak on your behalf in five hundred dreams if I have to. I'll break my own law...appear before them on a cloud, a great wave, or on the wings of a giant bird."
"I won't do it."
Raziel suddenly grew several feet high and looked down upon Gangus. "This is not a request!" his voice boomed. "It is a command! Yes, I deceived you. But I am your god--the god of gods...and you must do this."
Gangus looked up--his neck bent back as far as it could. "How? I only have seventy-nine soldiers and hundreds of peaceful settlers, mostly women," Gangus said, his voice cracking.
"You will raise an army among the inhabitants. The Timbaknis, Engamars, Aenwyns, and Qu'Venars, to name a few."
"And what if I can't? What if they won't be persuaded?"
Raziel spoke sternly. "Then you have not earned your reward. It will be taken from you." Then he spoke gently. "But, Gangus, you will not fail. All the odds will be in your favor. I have confidence in you. You must have it in yourself."
Gangus pondered--shaking his head. He blew out a hard breath and paced a few moments. Then turning to Raziel he said with a frown, "All right, Great Lord, as you wish."
"Fine. Fine. You need not look worried, my unconquerable warrior. I and all the gods will be with you.
"Yes, Great Lord."
"Oh, and Gangus, I have set you far above my other subjects, and will not tolerate even a thimble of disobedience from you. Is that clear?"
"It is clear, Great Lord."
Gangus snapped awake, and he was back in his bed with Brehira sleeping soundly beside him. He jumped up and went to where he hid his staff. It was still there--but, there were now two, two-edged steel swords sparkling beside it. There was no shield, but a breastplate made of shiny, blue metal. On the front was the symbol of Raziel.
Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zack-za-key-ahl) God of Peace and Tranquility
When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.
Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.