Authors: Chuck Black
All but one. This one never left his mind, and although it was a question regarding his great Lord, it did not cause him to question his devotion or loyalty to his King.
Why hadn’t Validus been chosen to defend humanity against Apollyon’s evil army? Was it because he was the last angel created? The last and the least? So many of his brothers had gone and were at this very moment fighting for the glory of Elohim and for the implementation of a plan to deliver both realms from the disease of sin.
Validus wondered if such a thing were truly possible, for he had watched
the great Deceiver inject his darkness into the veins of every living being in creation.
It was as if the whole of the Middle Realm was groaning in pain from his great corruption
, begging to be redeemed yet despairing from the hopelessness of it all. Day by day and year by year the perfection of creation became an echo of the distant past as the utter ruin of the Middle Realm seemed inevitable.
Just when the holy angels were tempted to despair, the word of Elohim came as a promise and an oath. Elohim swore an oath to fulfill His promise to redeem humanity and all of the Middle Realm from the destruction of Apollyon and his evil works. On that day, great joy returned to the hearts of the angels, for they knew that their Creator would hold nothing back to fulfill His promise. He would exhaust the resources of heaven if need be. Elohim’s promise and oath became known as the Plan, and although angels desired to know it and understand it, the secrets of Elohim were undiscoverable until His time of revelation.
Validus, like countless others, submitted to faith in their perfect King, giving all for the Plan. It was why many had been dissolved in the great battle below and why many still fought with great courage, like his friend Cadriel.
Validus reached for his sword, feeling the knurled grip, almost sensing the desire of the blade to be drawn and used in the great battle below. Once he had questioned his purpose as an angel, but now he knew exactly what it was—to be a warrior. He was created for it. His sword was created for it.
He remembered the day the magnificent blade of justice was given to him. Shortly after the fall, every angel received an unbreakable sword of brilliant white steel and flawless gold from the hand of Elohim. Their swords were symbols of a new era—an era of war. Apollyon’s petition against such an advantage had led Elohim to allow the demons each a sword of permanence translated from the hand of men … far inferior but no less deadly. And as man’s craft of war increased, so did the quality of their blades and thus the Fallen’s.
Validus looked at his feet. Below him the war raged on without him. The mere thought of it compelled him to leave the sea and return to the portal.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
The deep but gentle voice shattered his thoughts. He turned to greet his friend.
“Persimus, I hide from you, but you always seem to find me.”
“Well, today it was especially difficult because I had to look in more than one place.” Persimus brushed a lock of sand-blond hair back over his head. Much lighter in complexion than Validus, Persimus had a youthful face of innocence.
“If you’d waited a few more minutes, you could have saved yourself a trip,” Validus said.
Persimus flashed a quick smile, but Validus read the concern behind his pale-blue eyes, eyes much like Niturni’s.
“Don’t worry, my friend. I’m not any more obsessed with the war than I was yesterday,” he said to assure Persimus.
“Well, that sure is comforting.” Persimus smirked and lifted an eyebrow.
Validus eyed his friend. “I didn’t think I would ever see the day that you would resort to sarcasm … and used so adeptly, I might add.”
Validus’s thoughts flashed briefly to that which he and Persimus rarely spoke of—their missing friends. He felt the deep ache in his soul every time he thought of them, and he knew that Persimus felt it too.
When Niturni left, everything changed. Validus had felt as though a part of his soul had been ripped from his chest, for he and Niturni had become kindred spirits. Validus knew there was a similar bond between Persimus and Cadriel, but Cadriel had been chosen as a warrior and was fighting on earth under Commander Danick. Four friends separated by allegiances and by war.
Validus was grateful for Persimus, but even their friendship seemed different now. Something solemn and sobering denied them the joy they once shared as a brotherhood of four.
Persimus shook his head. “Let’s go check on Cadriel and Commander Danick, shall we?”
“If you insist.” Validus put an arm on Persimus’s shoulder and spun him around toward the Hall of Vision.
“I insist,” Persimus said with a wide grin. He unfolded his wings and launched upward with one mighty stroke.
Validus felt the air push down on him from above as he looked up at his friend.
“Well? Come on!” Persimus called.
“I think I’ll walk.”
Persimus’s wings spread wide and remained still as he gently touched down
just a little ahead of Validus. “They’re going to grow weak and frail if you don’t use them,” Persimus chided.
“I prefer the push of the ground on my feet.” Validus took two large strides to close the distance between them. “Besides, up there”—Validus nodded toward the sky—“you miss the intricate beauty and detail of Elohim’s creation, which can only be experienced walking among it.”
“You are right, I suppose. A little odd, but right.”
The two angels passed through one of the outlying gardens, and a sleek black panther followed them until Validus stopped and stroked the beautiful animal for a few minutes.
“Have you completed your studies and duties for the day?” he asked Persimus.
“Yes, and you?”
“Yes, but my perimeter watch begins in two hours, and I want to bring some manna to the men on the southern line first.”
“Always going the extra measure,” Persimus said almost to himself.
“It seems to encourage them, and we all need encouragement from time to time,” Validus replied.
Encompassing the city of Zion was a jeweled wall fifty feet high and just as wide. Seven gates with towers stood sentry to the city, for the outer lands of heaven were not yet purged of the Fallen, though they dared not come near the holy city. The sphere of heaven was vast, and they found outlying valleys and caves in which to dwell, but they preferred the Middle and Lower Realms of earth.
Validus and Persimus arrived at the entrance of the Hall of Vision just as a trumpet sounded from the guardian tower of Mount Simcha. Validus and Persimus stopped to honor the warrior angel who had fallen in battle.
“There have been too many of those lately,” Validus said.
Persimus remained silent.
Twelve towers guarded Mount Simcha, the mountain of bliss. Twelve trumpet angels were stationed at each tower, and their duty was to herald those brave and courageous angels who had fallen in battle against Apollyon and his demons. On the earth below, their spiritual bodies were dissolved and sent to Mount Simcha, where they were comforted and remained until the End of Days. It would be a long wait, and although it was a place of comfort, it was
also a prison, a place of idleness and reflection. Validus imagined the angst that those mighty angels must feel as they considered their brethren left to fight the wars of the realm with one less sword, one less fellow warrior.
During a major encounter, there were times when all 144 trumpets sounded throughout the battle. Those were solemn days. The demons who fell in battle were sent to the Abyss, a place of utter darkness in the heart of the earth—lower than the Lower Realm, where the pit had no bottom. As the war raged on, angels and demons fell, leaving the fate of humanity to fewer and fewer combatants.
Validus ached to be on battlefield earth fighting for Elohim, but it would never be, for the number of angels and demons sent to fight was set by the Genesis Accord.
The Genesis Accord was a set of statutes established to govern the warfare between Elohim’s angels and the Fallen. Validus had studied them carefully, memorizing each one:
1. Three hundred thousand angels and demons from the Warrior Orders will be sent to earth to battle for the future of humanity.
2. There will be no replacements for attrition.
3. Angel and demon warriors will be earthbound, subject to the physical attributes of the Middle Realm until dissolution or the End of Days as determined by Elohim.
4. Use of wings is left to the discretion of each warrior, but a warrior is not allowed to ascend above the second heaven or below the earth. Warriors may morph and demorph wings as needed.
5. Nothing physical may be modified or moved by an angel or a demon while a human is watching.
6. Neither angel nor demon is allowed to directly take the life of a human without approval of Elohim.
7. Demons who fall in battle will be sent to the prison of the Abyss, or the bottomless pit.
8. Angels who fall in battle will be sent to the prison of Mount Simcha.
9. Both prisons will be opened at the fifth trumpet at the End of Days when all prisoners will be released.
10. The righteous men and women who die will be taken by the Carrier Order to Paradise in Hades.
11. The unrighteous men and women who die will be taken by the Draeger Order to the place of torment in Hades.
12. Elohim will not interfere with Apollyon’s attempt to conquer earth. The fate of each man will be granted according to his own will.
13. All children who die before reaching the age of reason will be taken to Paradise.
Validus and Persimus entered the Hall of Vision and found an open portal near the center of the magnificent hall. Ivory columns rose sixty feet into the air, supporting a jewel-inlaid glass dome rimmed with gold and silver lines. The beauty was breathtaking, and it astonished Validus every time he entered, for it had been designed by none other than Lucifer himself. It was a testimony to the creative intelligence of the former first angel.
Lucifer had made the request of Elohim after the Creation so that the angels could peer down on the miraculous world of the Middle Realm whenever they chose. There were windows throughout heaven through which one could see into the realm of man, but the view was always the same and with the same level of distance and clarity. The 144 portals in the Hall of Vision were designed to allow an angel to see anywhere with as much detail as was desired.
At each portal was a twenty-foot circular marble table. Properly controlled, the bowl-shaped center of the table allowed the observers to see three-dimensional, lifelike images almost as if one were actually there. The outer rim of the table was flat and was where an angel could manipulate the imagery.
Validus wondered if it was here that Apollyon began to tempt the other angels, for only he and most of the One Hundred had been given access to the Middle Realm before the Fall. Never before had such whispers filled the ears of the angels. Validus shuddered as he remembered the enticing words of Niturni. He became lost in thought as the memories of that fateful day filled his mind.
“Not really seeing much from here.” Persimus’s voice shook Validus from his memories. “How about we look a little closer?”
Validus looked over at his friend and then back at the portal. A serene
picture of Earth in the Middle Realm hung in the blackness of the second heaven, surrounded by the crystalline protection of the firmament. There was nothing like it in heaven. The handiwork of Elohim was breathtakingly beautiful.
Validus set his hands on the marble panels and slid his fingers across the cool, smooth surface. No other angel could operate the portal like Validus, for no other angel spent nearly as much time observing earth as he did. Persimus called it an obsession, and perhaps it was, because Validus could hardly keep himself from it when he had free time.
Since the Genesis Accord, each decade that passed entwined the lives of men and angels of the Middle Realm. As the population of humanity increased, the number of angel and demon combatants decreased, for the battles between them were costly and there were no replacements due to the agreement.
Validus had watched the number of angel warriors decrease steadily for fifteen hundred years. At the Battle of Balos, 543 angel warriors fell to only 216 of the Fallen. At Urso, 68 to 52. At Mordi Bensulan, 112 to 72. And on and on it went through the centuries until Validus wept in sadness at the impending doom he knew was only a matter of time. The Fallen were rising up and overtaking the forces of his brethren one battle at a time.
Three hundred years ago, Validus first contemplated the possibility that his brothers might actually lose the war for the Middle Realm. He dared not speak his thoughts, for they felt almost blasphemous. He confided first in Persimus and was chastised for it. But in the last fifty years, the devastating outcome of many battles was too difficult to overlook. There were too many trumpets sounding and too much ground being lost, too many cities falling. That was when the other angels reconsidered the perceptive insight of the last angel.
Validus felt justified and hated that he might be right. But surely Elohim saw it too. Very few righteous men remained: Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah from the lineage of Seth, and a few who lived in the city of Kish. Humanity grew more and more evil with each passing year, and the forces of Apollyon grew stronger and stronger from their embrace of his hideous ways.
Was this the Plan? Could the army of Apollyon truly defeat the army of Elohim? It seemed impossible, and yet …
Validus flew the portal through the firmament and across the vast valleys of the lush green planet. The land rose gently to the rolling hills of the eastern
hemisphere, and he slowed the approach as he entered the Cadari Valley. Here lay the city of Kish, the last great city that was not yet conquered by Apollyon’s army. All the other cities had fallen and the righteous men and women with them.
As Validus scanned the city, his heart quickened, and he froze the portal.
“What is it?” Persimus asked.
Validus turned to see that two other angels had joined them to observe their portal.