Back at the temple, Umma sat over a great tome of the Ancients. She was looking for a passage, anything that could prove the gods were enemies of the Creator; that would solve everything, if she could find that the gods were to serve man, it would stop man from falling for the lies of the gods. She had heard that a rebellion broke out in heaven and all who went against the Creator was cast out onto the earth for punishment. but, so far she wasn't able of find it in the Ancient scrolls.
She stood when she heard Gabriel climbing the stairs.
"Finally," she called, "your back. I was worried!! Where have you been?" She got out the Wizards bowl and poured the soup. "I knew you would be sick. You have been gone too long. You have to eat more. An old man like you…"
"Yes, yes," I answered, not wanting a lecture. I am a little more than five hundred years old and I don't need a youngling telling me about supper-time or about rest. I have been thinking of the people and about this new god." I sat a caught my breath while she dipped broth into a bowl for me. "Have you heard anything about this man-god who came from Chaldea. He talked of the tower. He said he had been here when it was being built, he talked as if it were made to serve us."
"The patron god? You mean our god?"
Sometimes, I can't believe what comes out of the mouth of youths these days, I looked at my understudy. "Do not be mislead, these patrons are not our gods. Why do you break an old man's heart and tell him such things? They are only servants to the Creator. Have you learned nothing from being my assistant."
She nodded her head. "I know… but he is so…"
"I know," I said, still amazed at the persuasion the man-god had on all the people. "He is beautiful and wise and knowing of all things. But, he is misleading all the people and sending them into death. No one realizes that the Creator is watching and that His judgment will be known."
"Yes, sir." She said, looking down and feeling her stomach.
"Well, have you found anything new in the scrolls? Here, here, whats wrong with you? stand up straight."
Umma stooped a bit more and said, "Nothing? What do you mean?"
I sipped more soup, aware that she was lying. "Nothing, girl, but tell me, where are you in your reading?"
"I am reading the third book of Seth and will be looking over the Diary of Eve this evening."
"Is that all? You young people read so slow." I took a drink of the wine, feeling the strength return to me. "Well, I suppose I can't complain you have mastered five language since you came here. I remember when I became the assistant here at the temple, I couldn't wait to read all the scrolls here. but, the languages, they baffled me so..."
"Gabriel?" Umma asked, not wanting to hear his past story.
"Why didn't Adam keep a record of what he did?"
Her question renewed hope in me, it showed me that she cared for her job and she did want to know the truth. "My dear, Adam was ashamed of what happened in the Garden and his shame of what EVe did. The situation outside of Paradise was even worse than ever, so he didn't want anyone to know about any of it."
Umma thought about this for a minute and nodded her head, "yeah, that makes since."
Azrael was the patron god of our city, he had arrived two years before and the people visited his temple daily in respect to his knowledge and his guidance. He brought riches from far places and jewels from lands the people had never heard of; he brought mighty men from the west, who had worked on the giant towers in Egypt, and set them to work building the major buildings in Shinar. He was worshiped here and it would take alot of persuasion to keep the people from doing his bidding. Along with four other man-gods, Azrael came to our country and quickly became known as life givers, but Azrael did more than the other gods had ever done in this city. Azrael had taken the sick and made them well. He also took wives and seduced many women, which was not uncommon.
He took our purest maidens from their families and showed them the acts of fornications and other lustful abominations. In fact, so many people were worshipers of Azrael that his temple, which stood high above any other building in town, had been built to house all his wives and their children. Besides his majestic apartment, the wives of Azrael also had wonderful accommidations and every woman wanted to be part of his harem.
It was becoming known in many surrounding cities that Azrael had the largest collection of wives and that they represented all tribes and tongues of the world.
"I think," Umma began timidly, lifting the tome she had been reading, "that Azrael is going to be a good god. I don't think he is going to be a liar like the serpent."
I almost dropped my spoon at this. "Umma, please!! Do not be mislead by any of these earthly gods. They are arrayed against the Creator. Haven't you learned that by now? Haven't you seen they way he lives, while the poor line the streets?"
"But, master, I have read all the scrolls and all the Ancient Writings, not a single phrase has been hidden from me, and yet no where have I found that the gods were cast from heaven. No where does it say that the gods are leading us to death, and no where does it say that the god are supposed to heal the sick. Azrael has already healed many people and that is more than any other city deity has done."
"If you believe that, then you have forgotten why we no longer live in the Garden. Don't you remember what we read in the scrolls? Look for yourself, read what Seth has taught us, and what Cain did. And can't you see what our mother; she who bore us all, what she did?"
"Yes, it was a serpent…"
"No!!" the wizard shouted and slammed his palm on the table. "It was a man-god in the form of a serpent!!"
"A god, in the form of a serpent" she paused, but I made her continue.
"what did he do?"
"A serpent seduced the people of the Garden and lied to them."
"And then the people sinned against the Creator by eating the forbidden fruit and were banished out of the Garden."
"You see, these gods on earth are liars and seducers. They lead man into death, and they are here now clouding our Truths with these grand cities and these wonderful foods; as if it wasn't enough to lead us against the Creator, now they want us to worship them and call them our saviors."
"I know all this," she said, "but Azrael seems to care…" She stopped suddenly. I could only look at her.
"So, you have spoken with him. You have been to the midnight mass." Umma looked down.
"I only…went...so I could know what we were..."
That was all he needed to hear. I knew it was already to late for her. "Did he tell you about the man in the desert?"
She nodded her head. "He told us all."
"And did you want to go on the journey? Did you want to be forgiven for your sins and ride this arc into heaven?"
Again she nodded her head.
"So, you confessed…"
She slowly looked up at her temple leader, her minister of the Truth. She started to cry. "It wasn't the only thing I did to get to heaven. I also prayed to the Creator and sacrificed on the alter here at the temple. I did both so that I would be sure."
"But you have to put your faith in only one, Umma. Who do you believe this desert man is. Is he the Creator's workman or is he just a man that the gods put there to deceive the people. Just like before the man-gods are lying to us?
"I do not know who he is, I have not seen him. But, word has reached us and there is a man there and he is building an arc. He has his sons with him and even the animals are gathering around."
This struck me like lightening. "The animals?"
"Yes, this man's name is Noah and he says it is going to rain. He says it himself." She gave me more broth to eat and a piece of meat with bread.
"Thank you, my dear." I took her hand. "I do not want to be cross with you. You are very important to me and to the followers of this small congregation. The people who worship here come to get the Creators word." I pushed my plate back. "I am not hungry at the moment. I feel as if the whole world is lost and will leave for the man in the desert tonight. You know if they do that they will die in the sand. There is no oasis between here and the arc."
"The old man is not far from here. Perhaps we could see him ourselves tomorrow. Would you like to go?"
I choked on a sip of wine "Go?!? Me? Now what do you tink the congregation would think if they saw an old man like me trudging through the heat of the desert in search of a man building a boat on sand?" I stood. "No, I do not want to see this man, he is full of lies and works of evil. He is for the man-gods, not for the Creator's people."
"You don't know that." Umma screamed. "You are only jealous of Azrael and wish your temple was as big as…" Then she stopped. "I'm sorry." She clutched her stomach again and a wince came to her eye. Finally she said, "I'm leaving."
"You don't have to," I told her, "I know how you must feel. Even I am confused at the moment. Azrael has stumped me with his questions today and now this with the animals, what is this magic that beguiles even the animals?"
"What do you mean?" Umma asked looking at her temple leader. "Did you speak with him."
"Yes, child, I was summoned to his court and we talked. We argued and exchanged knowledge for quite some time, during which he asked me a question that has not left me."
"What did he ask?" Umma asked, nervously.
"It's not for a young mind, child. Questions about the Creator only lead to dissatisfaction. We are his servants, we do not question Him. If we do, you can be sure of disappointment."
"But I have to know. Tell me!!"
"I need to know so that I can look up the answer. I know the Ancients have provided everything we need know in the Book of the Garden."
"I fear that not everything has yet been written. There will be people, even after us that will add to the book. And even though we do not have all the knowledge, there are times when we have to trust in the Creator even when we do not know the answer."
"I trust the Creator," Umma assured her teacher, "but what if the man in the desert was sent to save us from judgment? What if we miss our only chance to see heaven."
"Little child, do not believe in men or in the little gods of this world. Only seek the Creator, for in Him all things will be known." With this I stood and walked to bed. "I am sleeping now, little child. Please stay in and do not attend the mass of Azrael tonight. I fear terrible things from him."
"I will," she said and began to wash the old man's feet. "Will you do me one thing. Please, tell me the question that he asked you."
The old man sighed. "I fear it will only cause doubt in your mind."
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