I had been summoned to his temple and knew that I had no choice but to obey his invitation because he was the cities diety and all believed that it was he that saved us from the barbarian attacks that swallowed the smaller cities; so, I went willingly, followed by two of his messengers.
Until now, I had only seen him from a distance. He had a strong body and blonde hair. I knew he was very powerful; the city he had founded before us has now grown to a thriving, bustling population named Chaldea. He promised to make our city a chief city and no army in the world would be as mighty as we. We also knew that he helped to establish the rule of Babylon and we paid our taxes both to Babylon and to Azrael. I knew he could destroy me if he wanted, he could do it with a word, but I also knew he needed me.
I wasn't scared of him; at least, I wasn't scared for my life. I knew things that could bring his temple down around his ears; and, on the same note, I knew things that could prove his power invincible. But, to know something is not the same thing as to know how to use that thing. For now I wanted him here in Shinar.
As long as he is in our town we were safe from the influences of Persia and their foriegn angels and their trechureous gods; as long as he stays here, I can watch him and know his movements. I knew my own influence would bring him to me, I knew what he wanted; he wants my devote people and more than that, he wants them to worship him and through him, he will tell them that they are worshiping the Creator. It's the same with all the lower beings of Angelic creation. They worship the created instead of the Creator.
It seemed only right to me that he remained here, so that I, a minister of the Paradise Garden, could counter his measures and make his lies known to all and bring light to the darkness he had created, to pray at the places he works evil. Yes, if I could put him anywhere, I would choose here.
He chose to address me privately and the guards took me to a chair; seating me forcefully, they laughed when my old bones gave me trouble and left me alone in a large chamber. Everywhere I looked there was gold and marble, it even made me feel rich. It seemed like everything in this temple was made out of some precious material collected from distant lands.
The temple of Garden Paradise, where the congregation of the Creator assembled, was made of stone and covered with a mud texture; there was one glass window in the back wall allowing the eastern light to color the room in a blue hue. But here in the city temple of Shinar, these rooms had multicolored glass in all it's outer walls; even his private quarters, which were the most elaborate of all the roomshad a window in the ceiling which cast up to twenty colors; it beat all I ever saw; and his private quarters, being situated above the temple, had the best view of any place in the city. A person could almost see both great rivers from the tower.
His apartment was separated from the sanctuary by a square hole in the roof, there was no flight of steps. I had seen entry ways like this before in the temple at Mendeli. I knew it was created to be flown through by the gods and angels and impassible my men. I sat quietly in the chair thinking of what could be on the upper levels and what the tower was for, when I saw Azrael come through a back door.
I slowly backed off in my mind about telling him how Shinar would not accept his lies and that he could go back to Chaldea and worship Ashur with the rest of the Assyrian; because we know about the ways of Seth and we have against started to commune with the Creator.
However I didn't say any of this because before I could get a word out, he waved away the guards and walked close to me. I grew nervous at his seven foot stature and knew for an instant that I was to be killed.
The guards were surprised to be waved away; to see me have his audience alone would have made the temple excited because there is no doubt, he is awe inspiring.
There were refreshments offered by him; I accepted the wine and sampled the foreign cheese, thanking him after every bite. Everything was so good. He left a small time and returned with bread.
"This is the wheat bread from the North," he explained. "You will like it."
I couldn't believe how soft it was. I ate it with a smile.
Then, when the food was put away, we began to discuss the issue at hand.
"You are an old wizard, Gabriel." The god spoke in a thunderous but very controlled voice, it came suddenly but rolled evenly, it was not the same voice he fed me with. "I know we can be friends, there is no doubt of the union we could create. These people trust you and you are a talented speaker and teacher. Please, don't be so foolish as to go against me."
At this I scooted closer to the edge of the chair.
"Hold on," The voice boomed, you will not walk out of here, not without knowing what I offer. Here," he held up a map, "Look at Babylon, look the line of kings I have put in power there, this city is going to be a spectacle for all the world, even unto the last days. And this place," he pointed around, "this Shinar can be just as well. Don't you want to be part of history?"
"I have no choice but to preach against you, Azrael. You have lead many of my people to
death with your lies. Even now you send them to their death." I put my head down thinking of the poor Potter people who left to the desert. "You are telling them about this man in the desert and they go in search of him."
The god slowly sat down in his own throne. "Gabriel, don't be so foolish as to think I lie, look for yourself, send your own servants; you will see that there is a man in the desert. He has heard from the Creator. And even now he works on the arc and calls for all the people so they might be saved." The god hung his head, saddened. "Do you believe in the Creator?"
He knew I did. So, I didn't answer him.
Pleadingly, he continued, "I am only trying to help this city, as I always have. This man, I swear to you, is the only way to be saved from the Creator's great judgment; the Creator is sending a flood of water over all the world, even unto the great seas.."
"A flood?" I scoffed, gripping my staff, preparing to stand. "Where? Here!! In the desert? Baa!!"
"I am truthful old man; and I am truthful about the rains that will soon come. Wizard, you must send your people to me so that I can purify them. They must be purified by a god before they can earn passage onto the arc. Unless they have my pardon they will be turned away at the Arc."
"You can not save the people, Azrael. You were also cast out of God's Garden just as we were; by following gods like you we have all angered the Creator and now none will escape his wrath, especially by living on a boat built in the desert."
"We all strive for the same thing, Gabriel, to be brought back into the loving passions of our Creator" The god stood from his chair and walked to a great table filled with fruit and vegatables. "Don't you know that I am a god , that I am man's earthly father. I represent all that is the Creator and I am your link to Heaven from earth. Don't you know these things? Why do you rebel against the truth?"
"My people are believers in the Garden of Paradise. We believe and have seen that only the Creator can purify our sins. It is through sacrifice that we may attain passage back to the Garden and to the Creator. That is the only way man may have forgiveness. No one on earth can forgive us our sins."
"But wizard, haven't we gods shown you many things? Haven't we always tried to help mankind? And by making your life easier haven't we brought judgment to ourselves?"
It was true. I could not deny that the gods had shared with the people many things. Fire and magic were among the chief secrets that the gods taught man, and by showing us these things they were punished. Even the sight that Eve recieved from the Tree of Knowledge was shown to her by a man-god. So much was taught to men by the gods, no one could deny them that.
I wanted to make it clear to Azrael that I knew the truth. "The gods are only helping us to gain our trust. It's just as it was in the garden: man was deceived, and in one fell swoop, the gods lied to us leading all into death."
"Face it, Gabriel." The god said, sounding as thunder. "The Creator is going to destroy this world. It has been made known through Noah. Send your own men, if you must, but learn the truth. This is for the sake of all your people, don't let another day go by without finding salvation."
"But, Azrael, how can it rain in the desert? Have you forgotten simple facts? I've never seen it rain more than a few times in my whole long life."
"I am telling the truth, old wizard. Bring your people to me and I will purify them for the passage. Through me all shall be saved."
"Perhaps," the old wizard said, loudly, trying to show that he was not scared, "Perhaps the people do not remember, Azrael, but I have the scrolls and the ancient texts, and they tell of the time when a god lied and put all men into death; and because the people trusted him, the Creator cast them from the Garden of Paradise. I remember the stories of old, do you not know that we have the scrolls of Adam and Seth?"
"Who wrote these scrolls, wizard?"
"The people who remembered the Garden wrote them; even Seth long after men were cast out of Paradise set his words to the papyrus. They're many people who remembered the stories and wrote them and kept them alive so that all men would know that there is only one Creator and all others are but weak mockeries. There is no gods here, but only fallen servants of the only true Creator."
The man-god smiled when he heard this. "Who taught the men to write, old man?" Azrael smiled more waiting for the response.
"The man-gods of Babel taught men to write. Butů "
"So, the scrolls were made possible by the gods and the songs about Paradise survive unto this day because of this same gift, even the great tower was built so that man could have a way back into heaven. Do you think that this knowledge was given unto man, so that we gods could achieve greatness? Why do you think I lie now? Do you think I was not here in the garden and did not see Paradise for myself? Do you not think that I was just as surprised at the Creator's banishment of all from the Garden? It wasn't only men who were cast out, Wizard, but all; even us gods were made to suffer."
"You are a liar." I screamed weakly standing up. "All the earthly gods are liars. The scrolls tell about the time when you dwelled in heaven, but because you went against the Creator you were cast to the earth to live with man."
"Then, if that is true, what did man do to be cast to the earth? What did they do to lose heaven? You say the gods lead man astray in the Garden, but in fact man was astray in heaven before the gods were. That's why they are on the earth, Wizard, to help you men find your way back to heaven."
I didn't know what to say. Was man once in heaven? I did not know. The scrolls didn't have knowledge about man before the Garden.
"Because of the gods," I told Azrael again, "because of lies, man was forced out of the Garden. Before the gods interfered, man was in Paradise living with the Creator."
Suddenly, I felt dizzy with anger. I could not argue with this liar all day and night, I was too old.
"Wizard, I plead with you. Save your people and send them to me so that they can confess their sins. Unless they confess to a god they can not be saved."
"I am returning to my temple now, Azrael. I will tell my people about your desert man. I will tell them about the rains that you say will come. But, I will tell them to sacrifice only to the Creator because only He can forgive us our sins."
"You are going to mislead them," The god said, "I can show them the way." Then the man-god disappeared.