Born of a demon, intended to be a messiah, only later to become a madman of the forest glen, the enigmatic figure history recalls as Merlin Emrys is not who, or what you think he is. With his faithful owl Vrroch, Merlin wanders high, and low. Ever seeking, always learning. His magic, and meddling can make empires rise or fall.
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Chapter 1. The Devil Comes...
Who said Merlin is dead? If my discovery at Granith Tor is any indication, the man who history recalls as Merlin Emrys roams this universe still. Certainly, the Lady Imogen Drake's recovery and restoration of the weapon Excalibur confirms the existence of the warlord Uther Pendragon, which implies also a King Arthur. Geoffrey of Monmouth and Sir Thomas Mallory just didn't get all the details exactly right. There's little doubt. Merlin was real! Born of a demon, he was both a would be Messiah, and madman of the forest glen.
--- Oriole 'Orin' Amirjeen, Private Correspondence With The Arclayht Triad
[653 BC. Achaemenid Empire, Persia]
The pillar of whirling sand and white fire resolved itself into a form, that of a humanoid male, notably though, a winged being, whose crystalline-like feathered pinions folded down and out-of-his-way, to be hidden beneath a billowing black shroud. Glancing about, the sharply goateed man sighed, while he thought: Transmutation requires of me, much too great power to build such a crude shell so as to contain my code's resplendent likeness. Yet, it's the only way to interact with these creatures. And I have a goal! He painfully realized without Araboth's resources, he'd need be very mindful with his matrix. No new pod waited for him to hatch out of, no resurrection for an outcast. Though, that thought provided him a mirthful chuckle, what he was about to do here went against all Vril culture and teachings regarding death and life.
Indeed, the newcomer to Earth did have a goal. His rebel Legion even now gathered intelligence that El-Shaddai, his very own twin brother began to lay the groundwork for their Father's master plans, and that those plans somehow involved persuading these humans to join them in everlasting faithfulness.
Better to beat them at their own game. He thought.
The newcomer had a name. Actually, a host of names. This was not his first time on Earth, and the humans that either feared him, or embraced him here applied varying terms of accuracy to his personage. Upon his expulsion from Araboth the title Shaitan stuck, though his one and only proper appellation, Iblis Jinn would've been his preference to be glorified under.
Iblis Jinn realized hunger clawed at his newly materialized internal organs. Mortal coils are so fragile. Bodies born of sand and fire require nourishment. Ah, but he thought. Yet only with a body can I father a Messiah!
On the shores of Lake Urmia, Iblis Jinn came to a village. The sun lowered on the horizon, leaving a warm orange haze in the sky which reminded Jinn of Araboth. Someday I shall reclaim my place in Heaven!
More immediate matters however called Iblis back to the moment. Food!
The smell of roasting meat reached Jinn's flaring nostrils, his mouth watered. Sweet aromas played on the air. Corporeal lusts overcame him. Refined Vril senses detected human females about. They were a sort of addiction to his kind. “First food, and then I shall choose.” He said to himself even as his mortal coil surged with primal needs. As he walked past a fire pit in the center of the village, his urges fed the flames that reached upward in a roar hot enough to forge steel.
Dancing girls and onlookers paused in wonder at the enlivened fire, as well as the stately shrouded stranger now in their midst. “I've come from a long distance,” Iblis said. Across the stars, to tell the truth. Yet he did not say such to these humans, barely risen up from the Great Deluge which nearly wiped them off this small planet. “My name is Iblis Jinn.” Let them remember it! “And I seek food and shelter, good people.”
Now these humans were no fools. They could recognize something 'other' about Iblis Jinn. Fading memories of star travelers. Anunnaki masters, who long ago ruled over Earth and mankind, persisted in the collective memory. Even this place's name: Urmia -- Watertown held a connection to those Sumerian starfarers, who fled, yet left behind remnants of themselves to be misunderstood, or ignored. Never mind a few genetic monstrosities to haunt their once slave, gold mining humans. Yet these Parsua tribesmen did not see Jinn in that way, for he was Vril and not Anunnaki. They did not behold evil, but a marvelous burning light that now walked among them.
Iblis Jinn casually questioned if these mid-level beings could appreciate his place in their creation. Without me, my grandchildren, there'd be no Anunnaki, nor humanity itself, born from a seed which I planted. El-Shaddai dares try become lord of what I rightfully rule over! Too bad his twin brother already started a propaganda campaign against him on this planet. He and these humans were truly brethren. He lost his claim when he cast me out of Araboth.
If this were to be their battlefield, Iblis Jinn would hammer for himself a legacy here.
“You are welcome to join us.” Responded a short, roundish man with a white beard. “I'm Hooshyar, headman of this village. Come, sate your hunger my Lord Jinn.”
And sate his hunger he did.
Lustful almond eyes fell upon Iblis. The women hungered for him. His presence ignited in the human females a sexual want. For days on end they served him. Fed and washed him -- This crystalline-winged stranger from afar. To these human villagers he was magnificent. A man of superior build and razor sharp wit.
Yet, though he could have any among them. Only one female caught his discerning eye. Though she did not know it, she met The Fallen's requirements in detail. Her DNA, combined with that of his own Vril matrix would birth the type of offspring Iblis Jinn sought to carry on with his mission here.
In modern terms Shaheen would have been 'A looker'. Tall, proud, with keen smoky eyes. She alone among the village women did not fall over herself to please Iblis Jinn, even though she, like her sisters swooned for him.
That is why when Shaheen arrived at Iblis's cave, his sanctuary and laboratory, carrying a tray of food and drink, the so called Prince of Darkness reacted with a measure of surprise when he looked up to see the curvaceous woman who stood over him. Rising from a seat where he wrote on a lambskin scroll, Jinn welcomed the beauty before him. “Most unexpected Shaheen.”
Despite herself, Shaheen blushed under his piercing blue gaze. No person she had ever encountered owned such vibrant blue eyes, or reddish hair, with its strange touch of metallic gold. “My sisters have other duties...” She bit her bottom lip. “You're our guest Lord Jinn, it's our people's obligation to be sure you are comfortable for as long as you stay among us.” She glanced away, said. “You've given us many gifts.”
“I am a man who only desires to make your lives easier. For I can see grand potential in you, as a people.” Iblis said regarding his bestowing of advancements to this small group of humans. In his opinion, his Anunnaki children kept these creatures far too stunted. There was an innate fire to grow in humanity which needed stoking. He would amend his Anunnaki's mistakes. “My desalination filters will help supply you water for generations.”
“You're not a man.” Shaheen said and moved a pace closer to him.
Iblis Jinn straightened to his full, imposing height, his chest out thrust.
“Not a man?” Iblis grinned slightly. “If not a man, what am I?” He let his hand, with its claw-like metallic nails brush suggestively across the tops of her full tan breasts, that bulged out of her flimsy maroon top.
Breathless, Shaheen uttered: “A son of God, sent from Paradise to walk among mortals.”
God! Iblis fumed, a term which in his estimation proved to both be oddly accurate, while also exceedingly misleading. If only they understood how The One has been chained by Its very own physics. The Divine Artist, a demiurgic force indeed, inexorably hobbled by transcendence!
His metallic claws brushed aside a thin strap which held atop her maroon garment. Made bare for his enjoyment a full inviting breast with a nipple already erect. The Lord of Darkness nibbled upon her nubile, exposed fruit.
Shaheen exhaled, and with her own hand dropped the other strap to provide for him a full view of her ample breasts. Silky fabric piled at her sandaled toes as Shaheen shimmed out of her lower garment making herself totally nude.
Scooping her up in his arms, Iblis carried Shaheen over to his bedding. A nest of richly woven fabric and pillows, meant to hold many occupants in love play. Gently the Vril set her down, lifted her legs, and then he began to kiss, tease his way toward her throbbing sex.
At the merest touch of the fallen Vril lord's nimble fingers Shaheen found herself pushed toward the edge of delight. A wave of ecstasy assaulted her in a deluge of white hot power before Iblis Jinn even thrust himself into her warm slit with his mighty engorged organ. No, not a man at all. The human girl thought while he pumped hard and deep.
Together, they were animals in heat.
Overpowered by his untethered force, almost on the edge of his climax, Iblis Jinn, The Shaitan threw back his head and let out an inhuman growl which could be heard throughout the entire village. Just at that moment he ejaculated.
Bearing the strength of the fallen Vril's otherworldly sperm, Shaheen moaned.
The seed has been planted. Now, it must gestate. Thought Lord Jinn as he stood over the sleeping woman in his plush bedding. “There are other matters which require my attendance, gorgeous creature.” He whispered into Shaheen's ear, she rolled over, blissfully lost to the gift he'd bestowed upon her this evening. “See to our son. Remind him that he has a destiny to claim. When the time comes. I shall call him to it!”
Mission complete, Iblis Jinn burned his body to ash. In its place he became a stream of perfected data, returning to his true luminescent form, that of smokeless fire, so that he might better traverse across the stars upon ethereal wings.
Quickly, unlike any human woman before her, Shaheen grew heavy with child. The baby within her womb matured at a disturbing stride, and not three months after his conception came to be born. This confounded the village elders of course, but then, they reasoned that the girl had consorted with their honored guest, who had been rather unusual.
Owing to its singularly unique genetics, the newly born Nephilim, offspring of a 'Son of God' and a human female, did not first appear all too human. Covered with a fine coat of snow white hair, a pelt over his body as he was, and with a prehensile tail, the boy appeared somewhat grotesque, yet cuddly in a strange sort of way.
More to the point, it seemed as if the child had been born self-aware. No sooner did he enter the world, and the boy was up and walking. Like a very advanced three year-old with an unquenchable curiosity for his surroundings.
But one expects such things from the offspring of angels.
The white animal pelt, which would be the most hair Ambakhun Tan would ever have in his entire long, and ageless days, soon molted away. In his later years, all he would be able to grow is a stark white goatee. Other than that, Ambakhun remained quite hairless. And of course the curling tail soon dropped off. Though even without these odd features, the boy forever would be marked as different.
Like some kind of electric blue tattoo, beneath his skin, flesh much fairer than that of his mother's, could be seen embedded Vril technology. Nanoconduits uncoiled across the left side of Ambakhun's face, and back toward his spinal column, to meet at juncture points that finally vanished deep into his body.
Chapter 2. The Underground City
Without the El-Vod-Yad, the Golden Equation, that which I think to be the true philosopher's stone. I do not believe we Arclayht Warlocks will ever be able to overcome the limitations that the Universe seeks to place upon our magic. As we push ever forward with our wills, it returns our force with an equal measure. You do not get something from out of nothing, there must be an equivalent exchange, and this is the first law. Yes, we can cast holographic illusions, and thanks to our nanobots, even manipulate matter. We can also speak suggestive incantations to impact other beings, while subtle energies let us bring our environment into alignment with our commands. The Vril technology which inhabits our bodies, and plugs us into those eldritch forces all around permits wondrous abilities, even the power to fold space-time so we might traverse without moving. Yet it is the El-Vod-Yad that is the key to our apotheosis.
--- Karaseer Drakonis
[Rome. April 15, 4 AD]
The cone of power swirled and crackled with the collective energy of the supplicants as they whispered prayers. Ambakhun watched the blue nimbus gather like a cyclone above the young Christian congregation. They did not see it of course, yet he was sure that they could sense the raw power of their worship on some gut level, just as he could behold it with his special emerald eyes.
Ambakhun Tan, who appeared to be in his mid-thirties, yet in truth, chronologically was a great deal older, dressed in layered green clothing all of his own fashion and stitch, gazed upward as the force of Easter invocations gathered to trail off into the firmament. To what end did these Christian prayers reach? Clearly the murmurings of the faithful, gathered by the flocks Shepherd were impacting the Universe in some fashion. Or did all these harvested thoughts go unanswered, left to wane and scatter across the vast cosmos?
“The conjurer!” Bellowed a group of children. “Aurelianus!” They called out his Latin name, while he strode casually through the cobblestone streets. It had become his custom in his travels to adopt a native name when he entered a new land. Translation was but a simple matter for a person implanted with Vril technology. He'd been making his way across the globe, in search of rumored subterranean cities that Ambakhun believed his Vril ancestors established on Earth, and ended up in the heart of the Roman Empire. The Citizenry took his trickery, to be just that, mere illusion, and for the most part it was. Nothing more than an advanced sleight of hand which Ambakhun Tan's embedded mechanics helped pass off as magic.
A wave of his lanky fingers and a flurry of holographic monarch butterflies rewarded the children who flocked around him. They giggled at the light show which soon faded away all around them in a dust of sparkles. Contented by the entertainment, the children cleared his pathway in the direction of a grand villa. Home of a Senator who called on him for counsel. The price for his counsel? Maps which the Senator claimed outlined an ancient underground network of tunnels. Perhaps he might at last find one of his celestial ancestors rumored lost cities?
Rome's interest in Gaul, as well as Britannia also brought Ambakhun Tan here. Those nations troublesome, barbaric nature and resistance to Roman rule had enticed him. So he thought, go to the civilized world's center. Perhaps in this place of all places, he might learn all that is learnable. Among all things, knowledge gained is what he thirsted for.
Traveling proved no great problem for Ambakhun. It required of him very little effort, unlike many others, shackled to where they were born and doubtless would die by a lack of easy mobility. Though he did not always end up where he intended. Instinct more than anything else seemed to rule where a spacefold might drop him. He'd gotten much more skilled in jumping however since that day of anguish when he fled from the ruinous carnage of his mother's home village many centuries ago.
A servant escorted Ambakhun into the richly appointed villa.
“Master Aurelianus, welcome! Welcome.”
“Senator Gavrus, we come to serve.”
“Your service honors us conjurer.” Gaius Titus Gavrus's tone exuded disdain for the popular wizard. He did not like foreign rabble traipsing about his beloved pristine city. Yet, this strange visitor who loved to entertain with his parlor tricks, and who never seemed short on good, accurate advice had become popular with the aristocracy. More importantly he held favor with the army, where it is said Ambakhun learned to wield a gladius blade.
The haughty senator called for wine. A nervous barbarian slave came bumbling into the chamber. “Be quick boy!” Gavrus demanded, his fist hit the table and then he returned his attention toward Ambakhun Tan who sat beside him. “I understand General Ambrosius has made you his blood brother, an honor because of that Saxon nonsen --”
Clatter! The clay pitcher which held the wine shattered.
In a rage Gavrus stood. “Imbecile! Uneducated twit!” The Senator back handed the boy who'd tripped with the carafe of wine. “These Britons, they are not meant for civilized Roman living. But what to expect from a tribe that paint's itself blue?”
Ambakhun nodded, yet said nothing. He had to fight an impulse to jump to the boy's defense, sure he could have used his power to shock Gavrus -- Yet dared not unleash his fury. The Senator's behavior however disgusted him.
Suddenly Rome did not seem to be the world's center any longer.
The next morning, Ambakhun set out with his newly acquired maps, hopes to find a Vril city high. Though he could not vanquish Gavrus's ill-treatment of the Briton boy from out of his thoughts. It galled him!
He walked through the forest, and passed in the shadow of a Faunus statue that dominated a Pagan shrine. Faunus played his pipes with much abandon. Offerings of bread and other succulents were laid out for the stone god. And yes, this place of worship, like that of the Christian flock's prayers offered to their Messiah sparked with power, which Ambakhun could see thanks to his particular vision. Stored up might flowed off the roughhewn shrine in an eerie blue vibrancy.
Going over to the Faunus likeness, Ambakhun placed his right hand on the rock. In a surge, a jolt of energy moved up his arm. His Vril technology hummed as it fed off the fresh source of aether. If he allowed himself, the nascent wizard could easily become addicted to such fountainheads of might. How easy it would be for him to become a living god, and leach power from his own worshiper’s prayers as if they were human batteries.
No, he shook it off and returned to his hunt.
Not far from the faun statue, just where the map claimed it would be, Ambakhun came to the mouth of a cave. He made for himself a holographic ball of white light to illuminate the darkness that stood before him in the hollow. Hours on hours he descended deep into the Earth. Thus far it seemed to be a natural occurrence. No indication of mankind or otherworldly beings having carved their way into the crust could be discovered. Though, as he moved further, Ambakhun sensed volcanic activity. Magnetic currents, which followed a lava vein, pulsed under his boots.
This also became a source of power, and explained why Faunus's shrine was placed where it had been above. The current of magnetism lent itself to ritual. A natural venue to focus worship and bottle that energy for later use by those skilled with unleashing it, be they priest or shaman.
On the wall he came across a piece of art. Another depiction of Faunus. This one, much more goat like, even a little threatening. Very much the template for 'The Devil' as he'd begun to be recalled among the Christians. Drawing from a hardwired encyclopedia of genetic memory, Ambakhun knew it for what it genuinely was. A depiction of a Kri-Skar. The creatures that originally visited this planet, and seeded the building blocks for life here. What his Vril forebears called 'World Movers'. Were he to take a guess, these caverns were probably some sort of tomb.
“I've been watching you.”
Ambakhun spun on his heel at the voice, his light globe intensified.
At first the wizard could not see, or feel anything, and he wondered how he did not sense anyone else in the cavern with him. People, or animals always left an impression which his technology could trace through bioelectric imprints.
Then his eyes fell upon a stocky shadow. “Who's there?”
The shadow leaned forward into the sphere of Ambakhun's light. An old, graybeard man, who concealed half his face beneath a wide brimmed hat cunningly grinned back at him. “Just a friend.” Answered the greybeard in a jolly laugh. “Your trickery intrigues me, young Ambakhun Tan.”
“You have me at a disadvantage sir.” The greybeard truly did have the upper hand. No one in this region knew Ambakhun's birth name. Certainly no one alive, and he seldom went under it these days in any event. “What is your name?”
The old greybeard emerged from out of the darkness, garbed in a sky-blue cloak; he stood tall over the young wizard. On his chiseled woebegone face he wore a curious device. Metal rimmed spectacles. “If you'd care to young pup, call me Blaise.”
“Blaise, how might I help you?”
“Like I said boy, your magic, I find it of interest.”
“I'm afraid I can't teach you if that's what you are looking for.” Over the years bystanders would beg Ambakhun for his secrets. He always answered truthfully. He could not teach them to become sorcerers. Though he left off the reason. He had been born with these powers and was not even sure if normal humans were equipped to summon magic such as his own.
“Teach me?” Blaise laughed. The caverns seemed to rumble at his jocularity.
Ambakhun blinked, switched his vision into another spectrum.
“I need no tutor in the art of miracle making.” Blaise boasted.
While Blaise rumbled on, Ambakhun studied him more closely. And quickly concluded. “You're not a Vril.” Could not but grin when Blaise performed a rushed double take at his remark.
“No...” Blaise coughed seemingly taken off guard by the young man's ability to read him. “No I'm not a Vril.” Yet made sure to add. “But I know all about them.” He smiled. “What do your scans tell you about me young Technomancer?”
“I think you're some kind of projection. Not a hologram to be sure, yet I am certain that if we were to leave this cave anyone else that we should cross paths with would see exactly what I also behold as a shared delusion. The source, your point of origin, its power registers orders of magnitude off my scales. Beneath that human facade I see fire -- Blaise, you are a burning bush, a column of light.”
“And thus, I Am.” Grinned the greybeard.
“How poetic. A family reunion.” Yet another voice in the shadows declared.
The owner of that new voice, Ambakhun had little trouble recognizing in the morphogenetic field. It shined with unobstructed intensity, as well as an unvanquished pride. “I'd wondered if you'd show up. In the flesh even, I'm honored.”
“That's more than I can say for the Old Man here.” Iblis Jinn chided. “At least he didn't send my twin on his behalf. However, I think it might yet be too early on for El-Shaddai's return performance. The humans have not yet come to grips with his last incarnation.”
“Thanks for the idea.” Blaise nodded at Ambakhun. “This boy's creation, birth that is, violated too many rules. Vril are not supposed to procreate. I've already lost a Legion here to your kind’s infatuation with human women.”
“I am not bound by your laws. You disowned me, threw me out of Araboth.”
“Yet that does not change the fact Ambakhun is a weapon --”
The Technomancer cleared his throat. “Excuse me, I'm in the room.”
“We are here to complete your training.” Blaise asserted. “My son, Iblis, in his arrogance, left you to your own ends in order to discover what powers you might have. It’s time we unleash your potential so that you may help guide these humans in my plan.”
“You accuse me of violating rules.” The Opposer snarled. “Now suddenly the Divine Artist pretends he does not have to keep to the palette that he's chosen?”
Blaise groaned at Iblis. “Now, you're claiming the high road?”
“I claim free will.”
“The theology of all this is very... Fascinating.” Interrupted Ambakhun over the bickering father and son. “But I have no desire to become a pawn for either of you.”
“Good, then let me hone your power. Do not fear your innate skill.” Iblis Jinn offered. “Own it. Bask in its glory!”
“You'd have him repeat his grand mistake Iblis?”
Blaise mention of his 'grand mistake' caused Ambakhun to ruminate. Still but a boy, he'd been teased back in his village for his obvious difference. One day, the taunting, and invective leveled toward both he and his mother grew to be too much. In a fury Ambakhun unleashed a maelstrom that wiped out all life there, leaving him alone among a decimated settlement while the torrent of water receded back into the great lake from which it had risen. In that moment of devastation, he warped space-time for his first time.
“Yes, you remember.” Whispered Blaise. “The lives cut short by your anger.”
The caverns began to moan in response under Ambakhun's anger.
“You see plainly Iblis, his power must be contained.” Admonished Blaise.
Lord Jinn knelt, placed his hand on the floor as the cavern started to crumble, space-time shifted in a blur and air rushed into the vacuum from where Ambakhun and Iblis Jinn once stood.
Arms folded, Iblis Jinn stood in the forest, over his left shoulder loomed Faunus's marble likeness. “Shockingly close depiction, I knew Pan. A more jolly, or lecherous Kri-Skar you'll never find. Unlike most of his species, he had a thing for humans.”
Ambakhun Tan laughed at his sire. “You realize of course, these humans begin to recall you not as a magnificent, albeit fallen angel. But rather as a malformed goat-man. Baphomet is a word I stumbled on in my travels. I doubt they'd even recognize you, were you to reveal yourself. Now, your twin brother, not having a recognition problem.”
“Coward!” Iblis spat regarding his pod twin. “He couldn't even do the deed himself. Instead he confounds some hapless ovulating virginal girl on her honeymoon so that she'll lodge him at her inn for nine months. All so he does not have to produce any offspring of his own...” He glanced devilishly sideways. “I'm afraid El-Shaddai does not grasp the fun he missed out on.”
“That ornament Blaise -- If that's his name wore, what was it?”
Shaitan looked at his son in puzzlement. “Just one of his multitude of bynames.” Iblis corrected. “Though he -- It to be accurate, did reveal what It likes most to be referred to as. 'And thus, I AM'.” The Lord of Darkness added. “At least The One prefers my kind to address It in such a manner.” Contemplating he said. “You've got a hardwired library of technology, yet you could not identify that simple device? Look harder my young Abaddon.” While Ambakhun shut his eyes to search his library of technology, Iblis Jinn stroked his goatee, thought of his next move regarding the future of his son. Despite himself, he had to agree with 'Blaise'. The boy needed training to sharpen his inborn, as yet unhoned charm bending.
“Glasses!” Ambakhun exclaimed. “Used to correct maligned vision. But why wear them?”
“In some alternate reality, or time period very likely, The Old Man noticed them, and thought they'd make him more grandfatherly, distinguished, none threatening.” Iblis placed a hand on his son's shoulder. Thoughtfully whispered. “We're going on a trip Abaddon.”
“A trip --”
“Is this an underground city?” Ambakhun glanced up with awe at a domed over, crystal cityscape that glistened off in the distance, and throbbed with a white fluorescent glow. “It’s magnificent!”
Shaitan bellowed, a great joyous laugh. “Yes, and no. We are far below the surface, on a planet light-years away from Earth. This city was built by a now vanished race, what I've called 'Ancient Ones', precursors to all which now exists. I've added a few touches of my own.”
“So you don't preside over Perdition on a throne of skulls?”
“Not exactly.” Iblis walked with his son toward the crystal constructs. “It’s time for you to become more than a conjurer of cheap tricks.”
In a fusillade of sparks Ambakhun deflected and threw his own focused energy. First he would create a jump point and then sling a ball of a nascent warped-space through it. All of which resulted in a rather destructive outcome of concentrated power, each a thunder crack!
“Yes, most impressive!” Iblis said while he rained down blue lightening. “But it takes more than plasma balls to make a true technomancer. You must bend creation to your will.”
Over his electrical discharges, the wizard asked. “Back on Earth, The Old Man, 'The One' as you call him said Vril aren't supposed to procreate. Why? If that's true, how do you continue on?”
“Like butterflies from out of a cocoon, we are born, and reborn,” explained Shaitan. “Our program matrices are recycled, resurrected in pods which hang in clusters from vast arched walls of an aureate cathedral. Everlasting life so that we may do The One's bidding.”
“Did The One create your kind?”
Iblis paused with his lightning, stroked his goatee, considered. This very question puzzled his species for as long as he could recall. “Probably. We do not know much about The One's true extent, or nature. Only guesses, theories. For all our history, we Vril have acted as The One's instruments. There has never been a time when we did not serve It.”
“Yet,” Ambakhun wondered. “You were fashioned with male and female traits?”
“Male and female distinctions serve an artistic whim on the part of The One. There are a limited variety of us, yet we are not by any means mere clones. Though we are divided into orders and functions. ” He wisely pointed out. “The One has an uncanny propensity to maintain more than a single thought, even mutually exclusive notions, at any given moment. The One's choices regarding life's little quirks make better sense when you view It as an eccentric artist above all else.”
Ambakhun nodded. “And you've not replicated this birthing/resurrection process here on Thaitin?”
“No Vril understands the procedure, at least in total."
“I suspect,” Ambakhun offered. “At least one Vril has been entrusted with the knowledge of resurrection, and it is this which El-Shaddai promises to his human followers for their eternal faithfulness. I think the procedure has even been tested. On one Lazarus of Bethany.”
“Yess... Yes,” Iblis Jinn agreed, pleased by his son's astute conclusion. “I suspect the upload procedure could be adapted for human morphogenetic signatures. We do after all share a common point of origin. From Vril, to Anunnaki, to human.”
Iblis Jinn thought to teach his offspring more subtle, effective magic.
Calling forth a circle of power, the Shaitan chanted. Flowing, curved letters appeared in the space between them. “This is Enochian, the celestial alphabet. With it you will control earth, air, fire, water.” And he added. “Learn the first law, the one and only law.”
“What is the first law?” Ambakhun asked.
“There must always be an equivalent exchange, you do not get something out of nothing. This fact governs all. Even The One must abide by it. For the law is implicit in the material which he chose to mold the multiverse from. Know that an artist is only constrained by the artistic medium at his disposal. Choose your medium wisely.”
“How can God be limited?”
“The transcendent are shackled by the paradox of transcendence itself.”
On a gut level, Ambakhun grasped the metaphysics of it. “I understand. To be transcendent is to be blinded when confronted by one's own omnipresent reflection.” The universal urge in favor of chaos suddenly made more sense to him, which also oddly caused him to be reassured.
“The One exists in stalemate with its own dark counterpart. All those evils placed at my feet,” Iblis Jinn told his son, with no small amount of annoyance. “Belong to my father's own mirror image, which he is always trying to escape.”
“Are you going to teach me to move mountains?”
“Oh yes, the first lesson shall be to tip the balance of luck in your favor.”
“Indeed, being able to increase your overall chances in any given endeavor helps ensure your desired outcome. This is the very equation I enacted before my journey to Earth when I set out to beget you. A somewhat simple spell, yet very effective.” He traced a sigil between them. An abstraction composed of three Enochian letters. “Serpent's breath,” sung the Lord of Darkness. “Charm of death and life, thy omen of making.”
Weeks, perhaps even years came and went within the sorcerer's training circle on Thaitin. Being the ageless creatures that they were, the passage of time meant very little to either Iblis Jinn or Ambakhun Tan. With each turn of the circle, the Technomancer gained more control over his technology, as well as the superhuman equations that it allowed him to cast.
“Am I alone, am I the only true Technomancer?”
“Perhaps not.” Iblis Jinn told his son. “There are means to replicate that which enhances your power. A device spawned from your embedded Vril technology could be constructed to give others such a magnitude of power as your own. They would need to learn its use.” He made sure to point out. “Make no mistake, your technology heightens what is already inborn in humans. Primitive shamans are affecting change, tapping into this power when they pray, or bend a spell.” He bared his shiny teeth. “Crude, though effective, man's will can accomplish much.”
In the breath he took in order to grasp this new information, that yes, there could yet one day be more like himself, a somewhat personal subject entered Ambakhun's thoughts. “Did you love her?”
“What?” Iblis asked, taken aback.
“My mother, did you love her?”
The Lord of Darkness hadn't expected such a question. “Shaheen, was an exceptional woman.”
“That's not an answer.”
“The truth....” Iblis Jinn once stood as General over a celestial army that would, given the chance slaughter and decimate without remorse any target he had a whim to order destroyed. Yet here he found himself stumbled by such a simple, human question. Up until this moment the Lord of Darkness thought he related to humans rather easily. “I guess, were things different, I might have grown to care for her in that manner.”
“She --” Ambakhun clutched at his temples, overcome. The conduits of Vril technology that ran across his cheek intently glowed. A vision of the future upon him.
“Tell me what you see?” Demanded Iblis Jinn. His son had been gifted with an accurate clairvoyance. The tides of time converged within his enhanced brain to be given substance. With what Shaitan could gain from his son's foresight, he could shape the future to his own liking.
“Under a red banner, emblazoned on it a black, winged creature. I see a boy king. He rules with a sword which shines like lightning. As if to be a phoenix, they rise...” For a long moment, Ambakhun remained engulfed in his aesthesis. “I see a circle of knights. A High King comes of the stars to unite the land...” The vision clouded, filled by a flutter of spectacular wings, and a glimpse at the vaulted, warm sky of what Ambakhun assumed to be Araboth.
“You must help us.” Pleaded the beautiful blue-eyed woman, who wasn't really a woman at all, but rather one of his father's fellow Vril who'd undergone a transmutation to provide for herself a curvy, sensual bronzed body, with borealis-wings, attired in gossamer apparel that did very little to conceal her womanly attributes. Instead, the translucent fabric emphasized those bits which made her startlingly female. “We beg for sanctuary here.”
Lord Iblis Jinn looked down at the small group of his sibling Vril from high upon his illuminated crystal throne, head on hand. Beside him, the ever pregnant Lilith, Queen of the Utuk-ku, his pale and lovely harlot bared her ivory fangs at the beseeching Seraph woman. “Must I now Aiah?” Shaitan sneered. “Quite a thing,” he sighed. “Star-crossed love.”
Silent and as unobtrusive as he could make himself, concealed beneath his green cowl Ambakhun Tan leaned his weight on a staff of his own construction, embedded with many Vril mechanisms. He witnessed the proceedings going on within his father's domed audience chamber with much interest. The Vril woman called herself Aiah Rishona, which his technology translated from the Hebrew into 'Falcon Prime'. He wondered if all Vril had such ordinal designations.
“We cannot go back to Araboth...” Moisture glistened in Aiah Rishona's eyes, and the tears refracted the crystal born light all around. Protectively she stood over a pod beside her well shod foot. Inside pulsed an injured Vril, yet any detail of its true features were obscured by its own faint luminescence that enshrouded it inside the hatching pod.
“Does my brother know a doppelganger serves at his side?”
“The Vretil who acts now as holy register is a copy,” Aiah Rishona truthfully answered. “Resurrected with memories from before he created the monster Ishallrav...” Girlishly she bit her lower lip. “Or fell in love with me.” She continued. “Though El-Shaddai would not let his friend perish in a final death, nor would he also risk the seed of rebellion implicit in Vretil's daring experiments to go forward with the knowledge contained in his current matrix. The Viceroy of Heaven deemed it best to leave my wounded beloved as he was. Preserved, yet forever in stasis.”
Shaitan steepled his fingers, elbows at rest on the arms of his chair, and gazed at Aiah Rishona between the apex of his metallic nails. His attention went to the pod beside her, where Vretil, perhaps the most genius of all Vril lay in near oblivion. “Why flee Araboth? Neither you my dear Aiah, or Vretil are true outcasts. I know you woman, you would endure even this torture of ungratified love for honor. Yet you come here begging for my help. Me, a Fallen One. Tell me what sin did our golden tongued Vretil commit to drive you both from our warm heavenly abode?”
Shaitan raised a severe, arched brow. “Risky.” He chewed on the word. “Only The One can truly exist in more than any single place at a given time. Dangerous also to dilute our matrices in such a manner. Even I would not attempt such a thing.” Though, he had considered it “Where did Vretil send this fragment of himself?”
“Earth...” Aiah Rishona said. “Joined with a boy, who became a great poet in a Sumerian royal court.”
“That explains Vretil's sin, what of you?”
Aiah Rishona locked her gaze on Lilith, she licked her lips as if in consideration, and finally returned her brilliant blue eyes toward Iblis Jinn. “You see my Lord,” she said overly deferential. “I do not have long. Once I put off this mortal coil, I shall soon quicken, and give birth to a whole new generation of our kind.”
This news brought Shaitan up, out of his mighty chair in a thunderous surge. “No Vril has given birth in untold millennium!” The Lord of Darkness actually marveled at the prospect.
“That has not always been so for our people.” Aiah Rishona explained. “Once we were like the humans. We made love, had children. Until The One gave us eternal life.... The urge can still be found in a few of us, as you well know my Lord.”
“Tell me Aiah.” Shaitan inquired as he returned to his chair, brushing his own pregnant concubine's hand. Lilith bred for him many fierce, bloodthirsty warriors. A pity her Nosferatu lacked the noble bearing of their Anunnaki cousins. Lilith's beautiful countenance made her an aberration. Yet all Utuk-ku queens were such as she. Very different from the feral, animal like male drones which they produced. “What plans does The One hold for my intrepid humans?”
“From the moment of their genesis,” Aiah answered. “The One has gathered human morphogenetic signatures. He preserves them in a krater, called the 'Well of Souls'. It, The One believes these souls are special. Singular among all of creation and important to the warp and weft of his plan. I know nothing more than that.”
Ambakhun glanced upward at his father, who he could tell deviously schemed. These fleeing star-crossed lovers offered Shaitan leverage against El-Shaddai. Certainly a sort of kinship existed between Aiah, Vretil, and his father. They were all willing to test the artificial rules which had been imposed upon their species. Pushing back his cowl with a flick of two fingers, the Technomancer leveled a gaze on the voluptuous, dark haired female Vril. When she noticed him for the first time Lady Aiah gasped, in awe.
“He is your child.” A statement, Aiah could see the technology that illuminated beneath his flesh.
Shaitan nodded, proud to recognize Ambakhun as his offspring. Glad also that his species would prosper in this woman. “For my help, I want something in return. Hatch your children here and hide in the shadow of my fall.” He broadly grinned. “You see Lady, I've a whim to be witness to history. Our rebirth as a species. Let me guide this new clutch of Vril.”
“You will not have my children!” Aiah Rishona roared.
“What do you have to give me then Lady Aiah?”
Aiah anticipated that a price would be asked of her for Shaitan's favor and so had brought with her many treasures from Araboth's holy armory. She withdrew a hilt from the folds of her gossamer garment. “This! Ikraan! Vretil's greatest weapon, his lightning-blade, the 'Iron Cutter'.”
“No,” Iblis Jinn got up from his chair, moved toward the burnished cross-hilt of the monofilament sword. “Vretil's greatest weapon yet roams the cosmos,” Ishallrav he meant, and its line of decimation throughout the galaxy. “Where it cracks planets, and consumes stars.” Shaitan eagerly reached for the bladeless hilt. “This trinket however will do. For I've beheld this magnificent blade lit in battle.”
Ah yes, a Vril sword. Ambakhun studied the knobs of the cross guard, it's shaft fashioned from a silfren alloy. At the hilts center an oval red jewel thrummed with power. He thought though, its name to be somewhat crude, and cumbersome. Iron-Cutter, very blunt. The Vril word lacked poetry. He hummed... Remarked to himself. “Caliburn --”
“What?” Iblis Jinn wondered.
“The swords name, in Welsh.”
Shaitan smiled. “I like that son.”
In all his time on Thaitin Ambakhun had mastered his power, and beheld many a magnificent moment of magic. From walking among the naked stars beside his father, to conjuring spectacular beasts from out of the ether, and even bending fate to his whim.
Yet the most glorious thing which he set eyes on while a guest in Shaitan's stronghold had to be the moment Lady Aiah put off her mortal body to return to her true form. Vril, in a raw state were overwhelming to look upon. Beings of light, smokeless fire, which only a properly attuned mind could tolerate for very long.
Soon after that event, as she promised, Aiah Rishona did indeed quicken to bear forth a clutch of twenty-four Vril eggs. Ambakhun even delayed his going from Thaitin for three months so that he could have a chance to see the hatchling Vril.
This also became a thrilling memory for the now full-fledged Technomancer.
“You've done well boy!”
Staff in hand, enrobed in his fine green leathers, Ambakhun Tan simply nodded at his father.
“Now, it is time for you to go --”
“Where will I go?”
“Ambakhun,” said Iblis Jinn. “You have the whole universe before you to command, and shape to your will. I ask only that you be magnificent!”
“Earth then...” Ambakhun thoughtfully rubbed his chin. “I've business there.”
“Business? Of what sort?”
Lo, these many years the Roman Senator Gavrus's ill-treatment of his barbarian slave boy nagged at him. “To right a wrong. Though, I’m not fully sure how I intend to achieve it.” He deeply exhaled. “I'm sure an idea will strike soon enough.”
“In that case I have a gift for you.” Shaitan snapped his fingers. A horned owl descended from the great underground city's dome.
“A pet --”
“No, much more...” Iblis Jinn said.
The owl perched on Ambakhun's staff.
“Meet Vrroch, a faithful friend, and transportation.”
The horned owl, Vrroch jumped from its pole, fluttered above Iblis Jinn and his son. For a split moment, it seemed to expand in space gaining mass. Its insides turned outward becoming a champagne hued spaceship which had swept back illuminated wings that were part of its advanced gravitic propulsion system. Vrroch, was a robotic construct.
Chapter 3. I Am The Merlin
The Sword in the stone, and the blade Excalibur are two different weapons. History, enshrouded in myth, often blurs them together to be a single blade. Yet to be sure, the sword withdrawn from the stone was not Excalibur. What sword then did King Arthur pull out of that granite? Yet more importantly, how did a shard of steel get wedged into that stone?
--- Lady Imogen Drake
[Britannia, 5th Century. The Dark Ages]
Vortigern, warlord, ruled over the land with an iron fist.
The warlord's dictatorship however did not forestall uprising or famine. Nor did it prove itself more just than what Rome, despite all its sophistication brought to these verdant shores when it ruled here. Man remained cruel to his fellows, no matter the time period, or locale.
The wizard shrugged, leaned on his staff as he walked at the edge of an evergreen wood. Overhead his unusual owl friend boomed out a long hoot, and fluttered its wings. Close by the ringing of metal, on metal reached the green mantled wizard's perceptive ears. From beneath his cowl he gazed upward at his companion, whispered: “Go see.”
Sight, by way of Vrroch provided for the wizard a vision of an unfolding battle. Two armies clashed. An upstart warlord thought to claim Vortigern's crown.
The wizard grinned. “Not unexpected.”
This would be worth watching. He walked toward the battlefield where the entrenched armies fought. The upstart warlord, Silas Silverblade it seemed thought himself much more suited to be Supreme Warlord of Britannia -- Vortigern disagreed.
Silveblade's army however had done rather well in its conflict with the Supreme Warlord's forces.
The wizard found himself a hilltop, far out of the way of the bloody conflict, yet a vantage point which allowed him to observe. No need to spook the locals... Not yet. They thought him rather odd. The old wizard who dwelled in the glen. He did not dispel them of such thoughts.
Vrroch settled on a branch, turned his head around to take in the onslaught of warriors.
“Oh yes, there it is!” Exclaimed the wizard almost amused by watching the warriors advance on one another. Though, rather he was actually sad at it all. However stirrings of an idea recently began to take shape, and so he would watch for the outcome of this war. If Silas Silverblade won: Good, less work for him to do. But if Vortigern proved victorious... Well then, he would take what he needed from this recent conflict and build from it.
The solution would present itself.
Silverblade! Silas earned that name for a reason. For he carried with him a noble sword. A weapon of blue-steele, which is said to sing. The sword was unusual in that its cross-guard swept backward, almost like angel wings. Its pommel, a golden acorn. Legend had it that the swordsmith who forged the blade had been a Druid priest.
From his place on the hilltop the wizard could see the flash of Silas's blade. A crisp thrum, like a pluck upon a harp string filled the air. “Oh yes, indeed,” said the wizard. “Meteorite metal!” How did he want this to go? Should he bend the odds in Silas Silverblade's favor? Or would it be best to allow fate to work its hand?
To be rid of Vortigern...
Silverblade's sword cut a line through the Supreme Warlord's men.
The wizard tensed. He might just do it.
The tide of battle suddenly shifted. Vortigern pressed Silas back.
“Now that,” stated the wizard. “Most unexpected!”
Bonfires lit the field as day became night. Though the wizard did not require much light to see what transpired below.
A few skirmishes followed sundown, nothing which brought much advantage to either warlord.
Despite himself, the wizard stretched, yawned.
The wizard's eyes shot open.
Vortigern, and Silas's armies were upon each other.
Birds tweeted happy songs while men hacked at, and bloodied his fellow man on this new spring morning. The pleasant day all but belayed by the carnage that transpired all around.
At last the usurper, and Supreme Warlord faced on the field of combat, swords clashed all around them. Blades swung, Vortigern slashed at Silas, who he hulked over. The younger man dodged a blow. They clashed shields in a thud.
The Supreme Warlord brought his sword down, he struck true.
Silas Silverblade collapsed in a bloody heap.
“Oh no!” The wizard urgently sprung up.
Laughing, Vortigern bent, lifted Silas's blade, held it with little regard, having no idea what sort of steel which it had been forged from. To him this weapon represented rebellion. He was heard to say: “Let it rust.” And with that threw the blade into a nearby stream.
The wizard watched Silverblade's weapon arc through the air, and come to splash down into a body of flowing water.
After the field had been cleared of the dead and maimed, the wizard inched his way, slowly, and out of view of any person's gaze toward where Silverblade's sword had gone to rest.
Respectfully the wizard lifted the weapon out from the water. “Yes, this will do nicely.”
Above Vrroch let out a hoot.
Mounting a peek of black granite, the wizard held aloft the weapon that he'd retrieved from the river bed. Below his boots he could sense an underground spring. The untapped water pulsed within the peek, yearned to be let loose from inside the stone.
He'd always held an affinity for the water element.
Vrroch perched on his staff.
“This sword, raised in rebellion against a tyrant. It shall become a sign of true-kingship.” The wizard declared. “He who withdraws the sword from the stone, he shall be king!”
A rap of his staff, embedded with its Vril technology, and a rush of nanobots softened the granite. The wizard plunged the blade into the now malleable stone, alloy scraped upon black rock. A shower of yellow sparks, and a smell of brimstone filled the air. “Good,” said the wizard. He tested the blade, pulled and the granite that sheathed the sword tightened its grip. “A proper push will release the blade.” He laughed. “Though none of these robber knights have the wits for it...”
The sense of water persisted under his boots, he hummed.
Over his shoulder, the wizard glanced, extended a hand, shut his green eyes tightly and imagined. Power which he once had called on as a young boy, now refined to a pinpoint. A geyser erupted. The water became a torrent. White rapids spilled forward powerful, began to fall down the peek to pool into a new lake below.
A treacherous watery drop awaited him. Getting to this blade would be no easy task. “As it should be.” Said the wizard. Extending his hand once more. A blue jump portal blinked to life. The technology under his skin glowed with his power. Leaping off the cliff, the wizard entered the portal that closed behind him, its corresponding exit aperture blossomed to life near the ground where he stepped out safe upon the earth.
A last glance over at the waterfall that he'd birthed this day, and the wizard walked away. Rumor soon would take hold. How did the sword get there? What did it mean? He would be sure to whisper these things, plant the seed. The sword meant power, and true kingship. Many would come and attempt to pull the sword from the stone. All would fail. Not only fail, be injured, or die in the attempt. Only a true king could wield the Silverblade.
An orange dawn rose over the moor.
Out of his hovel, a cave covered in moss and lichen on the edge of the forest stirred the wizard, clutched onto his staff, his favored weapon, as he went to find out what all the commotion was about. Lately, since returning, he did not get enough sleep. Though they thought him a madman, it never prevented anyone from seeking his help. Either for things which seemed beyond the ordinary, or curatives for many an ailment. When he'd first come to this land, he'd even helped Vortigern with his little dragon problem. In retrospect, he should have let the beasts devour him.
Often he wondered if he did too much. The wizard restrained himself, not handing over too much advanced technology or science. Yet he never held them back. He nudged whenever he felt humanity might go off a righteous pathway. Guided them onto a correct rode. Humans had potential for much good. Often, they only needed to be reminded larger purposes awaited them.
The boy, a child of nine ran, his call held both fear and wonderment at whatever he witnessed out there on the marshland. “Master. A monster upon the moor!”
“What Newt?” Asked the wizard.
“A red bull. Its eyes filled with fire.”
The wizard blinked. “A red bull, you say?”
“Yes master. It’s true, I saw it myself. Our animals are --”
“Very well Newt,” said the wizard, a hand on the boy's shoulder. “Go back to your farm. I'll see to this red bull.”
Great solid head bowed as if in prayer. Steam poured forth from out of its flared nostrils, which set to create a growing fog. Silhouetted by the early morning, diffused sunlight, and crowned with a set of impressive curved horns, in all its primordial majesty, a titan of an ox-blood aurochs stood on the moor. Lord of all that which it beheld.
The wizard grinned, and nodded at the beast whose keen eyes blazed with fire, just as Newt told him. “You do know how to make an entrance,” he said to the beast, aware it could understand him. “I'll give you that.”
Groaning, the aurochs glanced up at the forest dweller and lifted itself to its full height which caused the bull to tower high above the human. Had it so desired, the creature could have charged, and easily gorged the wizard. The red hide began to shift, going from resting on all four hoofs, to become a bipedal, shadowed mass. Ox-blood hide darkened, to become a billowing cloak. “You know, in this form I sired a warlord, Aurik Kreis...” The shadow said from under a tilted wide brimmed hat. “They called him 'The Red Ox'. A marauder, who claimed whatever he so desired.”
A brow up, the wizard stated. “So, you do have children.”
“I've many children Technomancer.” Declared the shadow with outstretched hands. “The Vril are no less my offspring than Aurik. They however exist as a different order of being than that mortal son of mine. Your father left me no other choice but to infuse my own bloodlines into this species. They shall be turned to my cause.”
When last he stood before Blaise, he'd been a column of light, bottled up in a human shell. Not now though. This massive figure before him, was more an endless abyss that threatened to consume all in its line of sight. As if all creation, slouched toward a gyre of darkness. The wizard understood this to be Blaise's true opposite, his transcendent reflection. Created beings were by trait spectrums, not polarities of good and evil. Outside the limits of, and beyond Its own creation, The One mirrored in itself darkness and light. Mankind or Vril could not be personifications of such moral absolutes, for they lived in a mire of gray.
Pivoting on his staff, the wizard began to walk, Blaise's shadow at his side.
“Why are you here?”
Blaise's shadow bellowed. “Isn't that supposed to be my question?”
Halting, the wizard gave Blaise's shade a sidelong glare. “Do you often spend you're free time chewing cud upon the moor?” He chuckled. “I'm sure you've more urgent subjects to attend to. The Universe is a big place.”
“Clockworks need not to be always wound.” Blaise's shadow exhaled, a breath which seemed to bring a chill to the air. “Mine is a well-tuned machine.” Yet added. “Besides, unlike most beings, I can be all places at one time.”
“Perhaps... Or maybe it’s more a piece of artwork which needs to be touched up here and there. Otherwise you'd not constantly interfere.”
“Only to correct that which has gone errant.” Blaise's shadow stared the young wizard down. “Look at you, your plans with that sword. Noble, but you're going to fail.”
The wizard huffed. “Fail?”
“Your new king will prove little better than that tyrant Vortigern now on the throne.” Blaise crossed his thick arms, each as broad as an oak tree limb. “Oh, he'll rule with a measure of justice, even bring peace -- For a time. Corruption, sin, shall in the end destroy what you try to build here. It is mankind's doom to forget, and undo themselves.”
Onward they began to walk down the main avenue of a tiny village. Back and forth they argued. Debated fiercely about the sword in the stone. As they went on, the wizard caught bewildered glances from villagers who strode past him. “They can't see you can they?”
Blaise's shade grinned, answered with a nod.
“Madman of the forest glen, indeed.” And continued on silent, weighing his thoughts, not waiting for Blaise to follow. Of course he did.
“Nothing to say Technomancer?”
“I don't suppose we'd be an equal match in a battle of magic?”
Blaise howled. Not a human sound, it was as though a pack of wolves had gathered to, in unison call out toward the Moon. “I would smite you with but a wave of my hand.”
“Thought not. How then to be rid of you?”
From the folds of his billowing, infinite cloak, Blaise's shadow removed what appeared to be a geode, round, fist sized, iron noduled, and quartz specked. “Plant this seed for me.” He grinned, in what was supposed be an encouraging expression, yet came off as menacing, and shoved the rock into the wizard's free hand.
“What is it?”
“That is my business.”
“I won't endanger these people – “
“They won't be in danger, have faith.”
“Only your power can give it life.”
The wizard blinked, and Blaise's shade was nowhere to be found. He gripped tightly to the geode-seed, thought. What are you?
Geese took wing, rippled the eerie waters of Dozmary Pool.
Above a purple sky seemed to join with the lake, linking the Heavens to the Earth. The wizard leaned on his staff, and listened. Hundreds of his tiny nanobot probe bugs, in the form of robotic butterflies, and other creatures monitored the land for him, sending back data on local populations, their relative health, as well as other basic information. All so that he might put his power to better use and guide these people.
From out of his pocket he removed the geode-seed. “Let's plant you then.”
With his staff he bore a hole near Dozmary Pool. Blaise's shade claimed that only his magic could bring the thing to life. Whatever it was? Holding the geode, he cast a surge of power into it, and the seed responded by throbbing in his hand.
In the hole he dropped the geode, and put earth over it.
The atmosphere over the lake changed, became tinged with an electric current.
Wary, the wizard glanced over at where he just planted the seed.
In the center of the water, a ripple, that soon became a wave washed ashore. A glow, a whirlwind of blue-fire upon the water congealed, to transform into a humanoid figure.
The wizard gaped.
A female mischievously giggled. The figure floated above the lake.
Radiant, her skin pulsed white-light. A halo of fire surrounded the semi-corporal woman as she glided over the surface of the lake toward him. Jewels in her up swept, jet-black hair glistened, swirled with energies. Her ears were delicate, oval points.
“You're something new.” The wizard stated urgent, even as he noticed that she had silver-black, mammalian type wings, and a flat armor plated tail which ended in a silver-pincer blade. His vision shifted, let him see her underlying structure, deeper than even the molecular level, represented by a binary Enochian code. Among the datastream, this woman jumped out stark. Code tightly packed. More data in her composition than most sapient creatures combined. He'd never witnessed code like this before, not even among the Vril, which though she resembled one, she was by no clear measure Vril. “What are you?”
“Perhaps I'm a water sprite come to seduce you?”
“There are no such things as water sprites.”
Inches from him, yet still upon the water, her presence pressed down on the surface tension causing little wavelets. She giggled once more, exotic black eyes filled with knowledge. “However vampires, elves, and angels do.” She said half-mocking, a bright smile on her exotic face. “Yet no water sprites? A limited view, for such a broad mind.”
“What are you?”
“I am, as you said, 'something new',” the lady of the lake playfully grinned. “I am Kheira.” She reached over and affectionately touched the wizard's bald head with her ethereal fingers. “And who, or what might you be?” Though Kheira's tone indicated she already knew the answer.
“They call me... The Merlin.”
“Merlin,” Kheira laughed, to then step down off the surface of the lake, at last to touch upon the raw earth she became substantial, rather than the semi-corporal thing which she'd previously been. Even took a moment to admire her physical body, as if it were not her usual form, or way of being. “You and I have much to do.”
“Why have you come, my Lady of the lake?”
Kheira smiled, wrapped her flat, armored tail around his waist. Behind the couple, flames from an advanced, well before its time sort of fireplace lit the hovel, which proved to be much larger inside than what its humble outsides would lead one to guess.
“I told you,” she ran a nail down his vest, moved aside his leathers to reveal a juncture point of Vril technology that joined above his heart. “To seduce you.”
Merlin couldn't believe it. In his long life he had been many things, a woman magnet never one of them. To have this ethereal beauty openly lust for him, it knocked him off his central point of gravity. Whatever she was, he had never seen such a woman as now rubbed herself all over his body, he longed for her touch. The wizard reasoned she must be a class of alien he had yet to encounter. Though, for the moment, Kheira maintained the water sprite story.
“Truthfully,” Kheira leaned in, kissed him. “I've come to help you create your king.”
How did she know of his plans? “Really?”
On a small oak table Kheira discovered an amulet fashioned in the semblance of a white, and red dragon. The creatures chased each others tails. Lifting the amulet she smirked. “I know these 'dragons'... You are, I hope aware, they weren't really monsters right?”
Merlin recalled. “I suspected they were some sort of machines.”
“They were,” Kheira admitted. “First of a fleet of ships.”
“Your people's I presume.” Merlin managed even as she nibbled on his now bare chest.
“Yes. Self-aware, organic-metal Leviathans.”
Sighing Kheira took hold of Merlin's hand, examined the conduit of cerulean Vril technology which branched off into the fingertips of his right hand. Together they walked over in the direction of a heap of furs which served as the Technomancer's bed. Merlin sat, moved his hands down the generous curves of her body, a thrill sparked a long dormant impulse inside him.
Casting aside her clingy, silver-scaled outfit, the Lady of the lake revealed a pair of womanly bell shaped breasts, capped by surprisingly darkish areola and outward pointed nipples. Kheira went, knelt on the furs beside Merlin, grabbed his face, kissed him, while he, with an eager hand explored one of her more astonishing attributes. A trimmed triangle of black pubic feathers. From her pubic feathers, his fingers, which pulsed with power began to probe her more intimate, female areas, every caress drove Kheira to a low, gratified moan.
He ran the silky-membrane of her right wing between his fingers, found himself, even while enjoying the pleasure of her magnificent body, thinking: It is an advanced fiber. Fabric of some sort, Is she a machine? An unexpected self-realization hit the Technomancer. But, then, does not the Vril technology which inhabits my own body, make me no less?
After they fulfilled their mutual lust, as only two otherworldly beings could, mingling both body, and eldritch powers, Kheira rested in Merlin's embrace, together, silent for a lingering time they watched the flames jump, and spark in the smokeless fireplace until she whispered. “There will be others like you... Technomancers. They'll be called Arclayhts.”
“Huh?” Merlin asked from behind a haze of joy.
“Yes others, and they will create more still from those not born of Vril.”
“My lovely, you've a grasp on the future which not even my visions can hope for.”
Sitting up, black hair now loose about her narrow, ethereal luminescent face, Kheira pulled her legs beneath her, pincer tail uncoiled, its armored length drooped off the furs. Silver and black wings folded behind, illuminated by her own light, as well as that of the fire, proudly nude, she smiled at him. “That's because for me, what was, what is, and that which is to become exist all at once. I need only choose what thread I want to walk upon and there I will be.”
“You're from the future?”
Biting her lower lip, Kheira said. “Yes, and no. Time does not work like that for me.”
“Then you're like Blaise --”
“No... I'm not all-knowing, or omnipresent.” Talking of The One caused her grave uneasiness. “He -- It rather, is altogether a different category of being...” Unlike very many organisms, she had been permitted to enter the tabernacle, to behold The One's third, literal visage. The encounter nearly overwhelmed her, and caused Kheira to lose her selfdom “I'm sort of a test run. Though there are, or shall be many of my kind, none are like me, at least not yet.”
“Where do you begin?” Asked Merlin.
At which Kheira laughed, leaned in to kiss his open mouth. “Earth,” she purred. “We began here. A race of winged beings conceived by my father, and brought to fruition by my stepmother, who as it turns out is a brilliant scientist. Not to mention, a Robot, a machine.” She trilled. “I really should tell Nadia how brilliant she is more often. She'd be skeptical however that I have made love to 'The Merlin' and am about to help him create his king...” The Lady of the Lake exhaled in a pleasured sigh. “The thing is, when I've involved myself in past, or future events. My actions become a fixed point for me. I cannot undo my own history. As you say, I am the Lady of the Lake and it is my job to get your king his sword!” She grinned, a halo of light cast an angelic glow upon her features.
“Purple lightning thunders in the sky, Stormrider comes.” Kheira sung as she and Merlin walked throughout the marketplace. It felt good to her to have, if only for a short time this domestic moment. Picking up an apple she continued her song to a beat not customary for music of this time period. “In the hall honey-wine flows, pretty ladies do pour.” She glanced over at Merlin who proudly stood beside her.
Kheira had done her best to make herself not appear so... Preternatural. The humans, they might have accepted a Technomancer with strange markings on his skin. But a winged woman surely would have been a bit too much to ask them to deal with. Pointedly she had never altered her form very far away from what her terrestrial body once had been, all her concealment’s were in fact illusions of dress, and hairstyle, not glamors. She did not even bother to hide the tips of her ears. The Elf girl look did after all carry a certain sort of power over people. “King keeps watch and the citadel does brightly glow.” She hummed, selected meat pies for she and Merlin to share. She'd enjoy eating, her apotheosisistic body did not require such nourishment.
“What's that song?”
“A favorite of my Father's, considered a grand ballad among my people.”
“Go on, there's a certain... Ring to it.”
Taking his hand, and the sight of the Merlin in the company of a fetching woman did draw all sorts of glances, Kheira continued to sing the rock balled. “Unknown to me lays our fate, dim grows the hour in my eyes.” Truthfully fate among all things was hardly unknown to her. “Declares the king upon his throne. Plowshares have been wrought into shining blades.” She paused for a breath and to look into his eyes. “Worry not, assures his troubadour. I speak not falsely. All that is to be shall be, the dice are cast and a Stormrider approaches, he carries with him fate reborn. From the eastern gorge a howl wakes the beast.”
An odd, and most unexpected reproach arose from a crowd where villagers had gathered to witness a neighbor’s troubles, which had suddenly become a public spectacle due to the struggle involved in the problem at hand.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done.”
Merlin cast a wary glance at his lover. “The Bishop does not care for me --”
“That invocation is not for your sake, Merlin my love, look there.”
“I know that man. Carec --”
“Yes, but my love, look with your other vision.” Kheira whispered. “Don't you see it?”
The wizard gasped. “A Vril!”
Kheira nodded. Unseeable, but for those with the right power, a broken winged shadow clung to the human Carec. All sorts of vulgarisms spouted from out of its mouth and were telephoned through the man's voice to be heard by all. The Lord's Prayer grated on its very substance, causing it to fight harder, even as it was being compelled to exit the lowly mortal it stole essence from and on whose back it now clung. From what Merlin and his lover could tell, the fallen Seraph seemed diminished. Its inner light flickered, like an incandescent bulb about to blow out. “A cast out most likely.”
“Probably,” agreed Merlin, “but its wounded.”
“The Bishop looks to have the matter in hand.” Kheira grabbed hold of Merlin as he moved to act. “The prayer is doing its work. Let the priest exorcise that demon.”
“But I can help.”
“To be a demon slayer is not why you're here.” Kheira's voice became small, meant for only his ears. “For what you desire to do, to make here in this land, you cannot afford to run afoul of the Church. Let them do the work which they were intended for.” She added. “You need the bishop and his priesthood, because they must legitimize what you create. Your king needs be anointed by God to rule. Your magic has its place,” she nodded at the bishop who poured holy water onto Carec. “Demon slaying is his job.”
Merlin relented. For no other but Kheira would he have backed down.
They'd planned a day to lounge about Dozmary Pool, neither Kheira, nor Merlin were in a rush to be gone from each others company. In all the galaxy Kheira had told her Technomancer, he was perhaps the one being which she could relate to.
At Dozmary Pool's shoreline they made a shocking discovery.
“Oh, my God!” Exclaimed Kheira.
Not just any tree. The geode-seed had become a behemoth, which cast its nacreous trunk and branches, covered in metallic leafage high into the sky to create a natural dome with its canopy over the lake. Energy pulled from the Earth's core reached for the sky under the great tree's pearl bark. “There haven't been such trees on this planet since...” She hesitated. “The Garden of Eden.” Kheira turned to look at her lover, awe in her dark eyes. “It's a Sefirot Tree, part of the tree of life. These millennium forests are claimed to hold aloft crystalline Vril cities afloat in the vault of heaven.” She licked her lips. “This is a piece of Araboth here on Earth.”
Kheira followed Merlin's gaze to a wall of Hebrew letters emblazoned in the bark.
“Let he who stands in fellowship, ” Merlin and Kheira simultaneously read the chivalric code engraved upon the holy tree. “Pledge his blood, and sacred honor before this mighty ring. His heart to valor, his blade to defend the helpless, and his wrath to undo the wicked.”
“Summon your father.” Kheira insisted.
Merlin nodded, quickly he cast a summoning circle. Iblis Jinn would not like it. The confines of such a magical device served to only remind him of what sort of limited being by nature he was, unlike his own sire, Shaitan could only be in one place at a time.
“How may I be of help Abaddon --” Confined to the borders of the circle, not able to cross over the threshold, Iblis Jinn stared at Kheira. His expression, enough to make it clear that he understood her to be a different sort of creature. “You're unusual... ” Kheira's beingness however did not hold his attention for very long. Upward the Lord of Darkness set his gaze as he realized he stood beneath the canopy of a Sefirot Tree. Lower jaw open in bewilderment. “What is that doing here?” He pointed at the branches. “The last time any Sefirot grew upon this world, they were from twelve seeds I gave to the Anunnaki to wall the garden where they fashioned mankind.” To be absolutely clear on the point Shaitan informed. “All such megafolia are now extinct on this planet.”
Consumed by the Sefirot puzzlement Iblis Jinn failed to notice, or pay much mind to Kheira as she moved closer to his prison of a summoning circle. “It’s also dying.” Shaitan told his son, he could see it in the roots, which had begun to uproot. Shimmering leaves fell as if Autumn arrived. “All that power to grow, and it will soon wither.”
“A message from Blaise --”
Kheira ripped the hilt from Shaitan's belt, she lit the lightning-blade. A greenish tinged monofilament raised above her head.
Iblis Jinn and Merlin turned to look upon her in astonishment.
“Kheira.” Merlin asked. “What are you doing?”
Iblis Jinn did not move. Not that he could have broken the circle, though, nothing prevented the girl from entering, as she had just proved. The Lady of the Lake easily might have killed him where he stood nearly immobilized, bound. A blade such as what Kheira stole, among a handful of weapons which were able to inflict lethal damage upon a Vril. “You're girlfriend plays at a dangerous game my son. That blade is rightfully mine.”
“He'd never have surrendered the sword willingly Merlin.” Kheira assured him. This moment had been written in history. “Now, I am Ikraan's,” alluringly, she smiled. “Excuse me, Caliburn's appointed guardian.” She glared at Shaitan. “No my Lord Iblis, I reclaim my Father's blade.”
Merlin's brows went up. “Vretil, the holy register is your father?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes, my love he is.” Backing toward the lake she explained to Merlin. “And I do love you, never doubt that. This brief moment, I shall treasure it, use it to gain strength.” She decided to tell him her secret. “In another time, another place, I am a prisoner, of an Ancient One, Jajdag-Al-Sul. I cannot escape that fate, but I can hold onto this memory to see me through until I am set free.” Kheira promised. “We shall be together once more. When the time is right.” Out onto the water's surface she stepped. “Bring your king here, if I think him worthy I shall present this blade to him to rule.” Almost as an afterthought she added. “But if I don't, think him worthy that is, I shall slay him.”
Blade still lit, Kheira lowered herself into Dozmary Pool's water, ripples took on an aspect of her otherworldly glow as her arm, holding the lightning-blade's ornate hilt sunk below the surface. The sword's illumination distributed light across the lake like a glass sheet, under-lit by florescent bulbs and soon faded away.
“Cavorting with none-linear creatures now?”
“I -- Ah...” Merlin appeared crestfallen. In his mind he had already planned a long, happy life together with Kheira. “Never met anyone like her before.”
Merlin broke the summoning circle.
Shaitan placed a consolatory hand on his child's shoulder. “You'll see her again. Find your king, and she'll return to this place.” Iblis gestured at the dying Sefirot Tree. “That will soon be falling down. Oh but does it bring back memories. They were days of glory! When the worlds were young. My clutch and I used to fly between limbs like that. We'd learn to duel on such branches, hide, and strike like thunder and lightning!”
One day, while standing nearby Dozmary Pool lost to his thoughts, Merlin caught sight of a man, a warrior to be sure by his stocky build, with a ruddy complexion. Roman blood in his veins no doubt. Brown haired, blue eyed, the newcomer was a spectacular fellow, filled with a perceptible vitality. He carried with him a bag of tools, which he dropped at his feet in a clunk and then set about to hew the lumber of the fallen Sefirot Tree.
That had been twelve days ago, in that time, a most wonderful thing happened.
Not a throne, or chair of power, the man carved a table, round. To accompany that table, humble barrel chairs. Incised upon the table, this time in Latin, on its inner most ring, the chivalric code which had been written in Hebrew upon the tree.
“A fabulous thing you've created here.”
The woodworker acknowledged the wizard. “You're the one they call Merlin.”
“I am.” Here it is, he thought, I've worked so hard for this, and here it has come to be. While Merlin found himself engrossed in the woodworker's twelve day miracle. Vrroch reported to him that tragedy befell Vortigern. The Supreme Warlord, and all his family had been burned to death in a massive fire at his castle. The land was without a ruler. “And you mighty woodworker. What might I call you by?”
“Uther,” said the woodworker. “Uther Pendragon.”
Merlin grinned. Wild eyed. Uther, a solid name for an upstanding King. He would not need to pull the sword from the stone. For construction of this table must have been Uther's divine task. Moreover, now it was clear to the wizard that Uther Pendragon was appointed by The One to be king over all Britannia. What else could have been the message of the Sefirot Tree? “Vortigern is dead Uther Pendragon. It falls to you to bring the rest of the nobles in line. Go claim your crown.”
“Me?” Uther asked. “I am but a humble soldier.”
“No, you are king.” Merlin asserted, yet amended. “Or will be. First you must rein the nobles in. Even now they quarrel, have begun to combat one another. A strong man can bring them to his cause. Do this and I shall bestow on you a weapon unlike any which you've wielded to help unite the kingdom, and heal the land.”
Pendragon bowed, went to take up his arms, and to become a king.
[August 5, 1914. Belgium, The Battle Of Liege]
Here it all collapsed. This was not just merely a war, mankind had engaged in the slaughter of his fellow men since almost from the moment they were created. No, this salvo, this opening engagement of World War I, triggered by a bullet which had felled Archduke Franz Ferdinand meant something more. A loss of innocence.
Ever after this point, cynicism would grow, and creep into the human heart.
Atop of a bombed, burned out building Kheira watched, tears streamed down her illuminated face, while in her right hand she held Caliburn, its blade still lit, coruscating chromium green, as she watched the German assault throw projectiles across the city.
The air filled with smoke.
Despair brought her to this moment in time, just as love pulled her to Merlin. Thought of the Technomancer caused her to both smile, and further weep. As she stood, watching World War I begin in earnest, Merlin waited for his king. Not mind you, that these moments were parallel, time halted for Kheira, yet for Merlin it moved ahead.
Other thoughts about Merlin made Kheira ache. Great tragedy yet awaited him, between himself and his would be sorceress that desired to become like him. Even with her absolute grasp of the future she could do nothing to prevent it. Time remained delicate Only certain threads could be tampered with, or she risked unraveling it all. And Kheira had already made herself a participant in history. The doom of Merlin, and his Lady of The Lake was unmalleable.
Nadia had, or rather she would at a far off future moment accuse her of talking of events as if she were reading about them from a book. Kheira understood, that's how she witnessed history, lives upon a page. Offten in the past tense, where she could involve herself only in the most limited of fashions, or end up destroying that which she cared about.
From her perch Kheira noticed a Belgian soldier, and he her.
Kheira exhaled, she'd not observed this battle in her aeriform, figuring that with the pandemonium of war, no one would pay her any mind. Clearly that had been a mistake, as this Voltigeur, judging by his awestruck expression plainly recognized her not to be human. For a heartbeat, he looked at her, transfixed by reverence.
What to do? Kheira projected confidence, lifted Caliburn above her head in a victorious gesture. Clearly enunciated in French for both this Voltigeur, and any who might hear: “Vous gagnerez ce jour.” There, a dent in time. They would recall her as The Angel of Liege, a portend of righteousness for the ensuing Great War.
Tick-tock, time ticked on. Merlin's king soon would arrive, and she would be called upon to judge him worthy, or not of her Father's sword. At least she'd be able to see her lover once more. That caused Kheira to smile. In a blink, the luminescent angel who stood on a burnt out rooftop and predicted a victory for the Belgium army at the dawn of war vanished.
Fog thick, and unnatural enshrouded the apple orchard, King-designate, Uther Pendragon slammed a hammer down as he was charged upon by those who would take his crown away from him before he yet could attend his own enthronement. Even as he defended his nascent regime, Uther could hardly grasp all which now took place. He'd gone to the pool, compelled by a voice, woken from a dream, which existed still in his memory just beyond his reach. In a manic state he worked on the table, and chairs. Neither eating, or taking much sleep. The table became his obsession.
Not once during it all did he aspire to become king.
Did he want to be king?
Simply by showing up, and voicing his claim, many of the nobles submitted to his right to rule. They even took a vote, by a majority, he was elected as Vortigern's heir. They were as a body pleased to have someone present himself in a calm, reasonable manner. Hoped his demeanor of assurance, and honor would carry over the land.
One noble alone however opposed Uther Pendragon still.
“Cornwall!” Uther spat.
“Uther -- I will be king. It is my right.” Gorlois of Tintagel, a blond gargantuan hacked his way toward the King-designate, he would not be that for long.
In the fog Gorlois unhorsed Uther, they dueled.
Merlin, as if from out of the fog itself appeared to witness Uther and Gorlois fight. For this martial occasion he wore a silver skullcap. A golden ouroboros decorated it above his third eye. The polished metal reflected all in curved likenesses. Vrroch hooted, and came to perch on his staff.
Gorlois grunted as Uther knocked him to his knees, sword poised to strike.
“Do it!” Cornwall screamed, he did not understand why Pendragon did not strike. Had it been Uther bowed at his feet, Gorlois knew he would not have wasted the advantage.
“No.” Uther threw aside his blade. “I need your sort of strength if I'm to lead.”
The wizard moved closer. A magnanimous, though dangerous gesture of mercy on Uther's part. Cornwall looked confused. He'd been ready to die, and did not understand how anyone could have passed up ridding himself of a challenger to his authority.
“Merlin!” Uther shouted, half aware of the wizard's presence in the whirl of fog. “I have done it. The nobles recognize my kingship.”
“Oh?” The wizard glanced at Gorlois, clearly trying to decide if he would grab the King's thrown away sword and deliver a death blow to the new monarch. Yet, the Duke of Cornwall let the moment pass, realizing he had been outmatched on all fronts. Seeing Cornwall's submission Merlin grinned, an expression of unabashed joy. “Tomorrow, come to the pool. There I will present your prize.”
Bishop Letholdus frowned, Merlin grinned. The two men waited by Dozmary Pool. The wizard serene while holding his staff, Vrroch perched atop. The clergyman by contrast fidgeted with his mitre, and golden shepherd's hook, as both men awaited Uther and his nobles to arrive.
“This is most unusual...” Bishop Letholdus remarked apprehensive at his role in what was about to take place. Not that he was very sure exactly what this was supposed to be. Coronations happened in the church. Not at a lake's shoreline. Why had this madman of a devil worker called him here? Merlin had seemed, when he stormed into the church very urgent that King Uther be anointed as soon as possible. “Most, out of the ordinary.”
Merlin smirked, he could hardly contain himself. “Most out of the ordinary indeed my Lord Bishop.” He watched as Bishop Letholdus shifted in his place, casting a furtive glance over his shoulder at the still pool, trepidation plastered across his old, heavy weary face. “Events such as these do not come but once in a lifetime.” He couldn't help himself. “Don't stare too hard,” he said mysteriously, but with a smirk. “It might jump up and eat you!”
That remark put Bishop Letholdus all out of sorts, so he took a cautionary pace back away from Dozmary Pool, not really sure what might happen.
Merlin laughed, and the Bishop glowered.
Matters of religion seldom entered Merlin's equations. Not that he thought of himself as a materialist. The inverse in fact, given the scheme of his life. Sure, he made a study of the Druids, whose ways and teachings were now on the wane, relics. But he also counted the Christian Messiah as among his blood relations, an uncle. Neither pagan, or Christian, he stood beyond both. Tormenting this Bishop, was but a bit of innocent amusement, he harbored no ill will towered Christians... In truth thought they were a necessity.
Finally Uther Pendragon arrived.
The bishop began the coronation, blessed the new king, and said many a prayer. At last he anointed Uther with sacred coronation oil, Pendragon was pleased to be done with all the pomp and circumstance.
Yet all had not been complete.
The wizard raised his staff, sent his owl off with a flutter. “Lady of the Lake I beseech you,” he hoped this worked, as Merlin realized he did not know how to properly call upon Kheira. “Come, bestow our new king with might sent from Heaven!”
A chromium green blade pierced the water's surface, holding it aloft, a hand clothed in silver-scales, gold bangles at the wrist. Out of the lake she rose, in her undisguised form. For a split second Kheira glinted as she took on a mortal coil, not a drop of water glistened on her, yet like before she stood on the lake as if it were frozen. In but a few steps Kheira crossed to stand beside Merlin on the shoreline. Ever so slightly she graced him with a touch. The sword pulsed in her right hand.
To his credit, Uther did not flinch at Kheira's unusual appearance. Instead he deeply bowed. “My Lady of The Lake. I Uther Pendragon, King of Britannia offer my service.” Merlin had warned him to be humble, show her that he embraced a code of honor. “I have pledged my life to this land.”
“Good, Uther Pendragon.” Kheira, her voice haughty studied the new king. Caliburn hefted at her side, at the ready to use should Pendragon not impress her. If he failed her expectations... Ever, Kheira knew she would slay him. “Because the land and the king are one.” Appraisal reached, she let out a long, contented sigh. “I entrust Caliburn, blade of my father to you, King Uther Pendragon.” She presented the lit chromium blade, could tell he was mesmerized by the filaments vibration. “A sword of kings, forged in the Heavens by a god. Take the oath. Swear on your life. Vow that you shall use Caliburn to heal, not hack.”
Taking hold of the ornate burnished hilt, Uther tested the unusual monofilament blade, having never seen it’s like. Such a weapon could wreak much destruction. No foe could stand against him. This truly was a sword of power. “I swear it! On my blood to wield Caliburn for Britannia and her people. My life, for this blade.” A practice swipe, odor of brimstone, sheared granite. The blade thrummed in his grip. “A fine, dangerous weapon my Lady. ”
“Very lethal.” Merlin emphasized.
As Uther and his party withdrew, Merlin turned to speak with Kheira who had not moved since she surrendered Caliburn. As Uther went, her black eyes watched the new king, a hard, yet sad expression marred her beautiful illuminated features. Like she'd just ushered in doomsday. “In my time,” Kheira said. “We all know about Uther Pendragon.”
“Yes Merlin, my love. We read of him in books, stories are told. Movies are made.” Kheira purred, ran a gentle hand down his back. Thought, how she'd love to attend the Coronation feast at Tintagel. I've not been to a good royal banquet since my Father's palace... yet Tintagel is a place I dare not go. The matter of Igraine must attend to itself. And Morgana... She'll have her reckoning. I cannot punish her for crimes yet not committed. Besides, she's but still a child. “Uther has been memorialized for all history, his story, legend.” Hastened to tease, yet tempted to divulge all of it. “Only one king eclipses Uther's fame.”
“Which king is that?”
She tsked, shook her head, jewelry clanged, put a finger to his mouth, so as to silence the barrage of questions which Kheira could see forthcoming and quickly kissed Merlin on the cheek. “Not yet. Goodbye, my love.”
Merlin wanted to know more. Another king. But who? Had not Uther been The One's own selection to rule over Britannia? She couldn't just tantalize him like that with future history, and then hold back what she knew! Though, answers were not to be. Kheira had promptly gone insubstantial and faded away. Ripples on the lake held the wizards emerald eyes. A mallard bobbed up from catching a fish, devoured it in one gulp.
Merlin waited apart, a steady eye on all the guests who had come by the Duke of Cornwall's invitation to welcome the new king, until Uther, weighed down in his heavy cloak of state, completed by a thick fur collar beckoned him over. “Merlin,” the King's words were touched by a goodly amount of mead. “This is King Leodegrance, ruler of Cameliard. I've made him Keeper of The Table. Oh yes, and his lovely wife, Queen-Consort Tamsin.”
The wizard was familiar with the balding, sharp nosed Leodegrance, whom Uther entrusted care of and keeping for his wondrous round table. As High King he made it an official office of the crown. Leodegrance, a giant of a fellow, good-natured to a fault. Though a king in his own right, he was but simply a client lord who maintained tribal lands in the name of the crown. Very trustworthy. Now his wife, Tamsin, Merlin never met her before. Blonde, green eyed, tall. A gorgeous, generous woman some several years junior than her husband.
“Pleased to meet you Lord Merlin.”
Avoiding offered hands, Merlin instead regally bowed.
“What a pretty owl.” Quipped Tamsin.
“Vrroch seems to like you my Lady.” Merlin observed as the bird jumped from his usual perch on the wizards staff, over into Queen Tamsin's hand. As a show of affection, Vrroch moved up her arm, planted a peck, a gentle bird kiss on her lower lip. This caused Tamsin to let out a girlish laugh. A sound which made everyone gathered in the hall turn to see what elicited such a pleasant noise. Tamsin really warmed up a room.
Merlin excused himself, to go brood. Uther insisted that he should join him at Castle Pendragon. He'd much rather remain in his hovel, to do his work, experiment and fiddle. In private, not while under the watchful eyes of a king's household. Reason however motivated him to agree to the move. It was early, too many things could yet go wrong. Better to keep the High King's ear, act as a font of rationality. These knights were often too quick to the blade.
A rush seemed to fill the air. For a moment Merlin half expected Kheira to have arrived. Yet his time leaping lover could not be seen. Out of the kitchens came a woman. Copper haired, quite tall, majestic with every movement. For lack of a more accurate term, bewitching. The Lady of Castle Tintagel. Igraine.
Lady Igraine brushed by Merlin, took a moment to nod.
Those eyes! Gold speckled eyes. More than her strange eyes, a sense of force emanated from Igraine. A remark Kheira made when they first met, returned to the forefront of Merlin's thoughts. However vampires, elves, and angels do. Do exist she meant... Unbidden, an encyclopedia entry, hardwired into his brain came upon the wizard like a vision. Did Igraine know what she was? Data regarding Vril, and Anunnaki history, automatically compiled a search for the answers he needed. Facts solidified before his eyes. All humans were decent from Anunnaki, others more so than some. Anunnaki, like all societies splintered, began to specialize. As tribes, they ruled over Earth. The Mesopotamia -- The original colonists, those in the North, whose chieftain echoed now as Odin and Zeus. The Anunnaki came to tinker with themselves, in an attempt to become more like their Vril progenitors.
The angels, and vampires, Merlin could account for. But who were the elves? Ah there it was, Tuatha Dé Danann. Albino, ritually scarred, even pointy eared. Moreover, gold speckled eyes. A subtribe of Anunnaki, result of genetic alteration, who once lived in burrows here on the British Isles, where they were honored as gods. Igraine was descendent of these Tuatha Dé Danann, clearly she carried at least one aspect of this tribe within her.
The wizard took the offered mug of mead Igraine proffered to him, let her move on with her hostess duties without comment. He went out onto a rampart to take in the night. Tonight would have been so much better had Kheira stayed.
Later, much later, among sounds of knights still carousing, under a newborn sun, Merlin opened his eyes at a long table, waking from a mead filled stupor. Had he drunk that much? It usually took more than most men could drink to topple him. Or, more likely the mead, combined with lack of rest did him in. From across the room he witnessed a sight which gave his heart a jump. Uther, the King, ogled Igraine, who seemed not have slept herself, yet did not look the worse for wear. Oh he had been gentlemanly, flirty in the manner only a warrior might be. Merlin could see, feel, unbridled lust rise in the High King suddenly enchanted by those eyes.
This would not do...
Going from the table Merlin went for a walk to clear his mind. At the moment he considered bludgeoning Uther over the head with his staff. A tool of magic, it also served to be a very practical weapon. No, that wouldn't break him of his lust. I response, Uther would only become more of the unyielding wall of a man which nature fashioned him to be.
“Can I see your owl?”
Pulled from his ruminations, the wizard found himself confronted by a child, a young girl, of six. “More gold speckled eyes.” One of Gorlois, and Igraine's three daughters. A mini copy of her mother, oval face, an aristocratic nose, the sort she'd have no problem looking down upon her lessers or suitors with. Copper hair, but most telling, Tuatha Dé Danann eyes. “What's your name?”
Already, he could see great power in this one, Merlin perceived it as pulsing light which culminated in the trunk of this child's body. It needed only be harnessed and released. His father, and Kheira both spoke of a device which might allow him to make more like himself. That shall bear further experimentation. I could turn her into a goddess, no longer to be just one, he thought. To the child he said. “The one they call LeFey.”
“LeFey, it’s what they call grandpa Anlawd.”
“Yes, yes of course!” Ah, he thought seeing the truth of it: Anlawd Vledig, Igraine's father, a scion of the Tuatha Dé Danann. None knew where exactly he's gotten himself either... Merlin began to laugh. Not just a little chuckle, right there in the hallway, he tossed back his head and belly laughed, a kind of outlet he'd not for centuries experienced. The answer plain, for everyone to see. “You're a very special little girl.” Merlin knelt so she could get a better look at Vrroch. “Ancient power stirs in your blood.”
[Castle Pendragon, Mallerstang Dale, Cumbria. Six Months Later]
A mongrel design, both barbarian hill fort, and Roman watchtower, Castle Pendragon, beside the river Eden had become Capitol of Britannia. In a large chair within its reinforced ramparts, Uther sat at the table which he carved from the Sefirot Tree with his very own two hands. Knights, pages, and advisers all around him, provided the needed oil which helped him best run his kingdom.
A mania however festered in the King. Even as he set his empire to right, restoring order, correcting many of Vortigern's failures, and tyrannies... Distraction plagued Uther Pendragon. Not a single day went by that he did not think of her. Igraine, and those bewitching golden eyes. Food lacked all taste, courtesans, of which he had his choosing, many the most beautiful women in the land, were but average beside the memory of Igraine.
“Where is Merlin?” Uther asked of his Lord Chamberlain.
“Locked away in his lair sire.”
Uther rubbed at his beard, though his thoughts returned often to Igraine, he had a sense that his most trusted chief adviser, not to mention, very good friend had become dangerously preoccupied. Merlin had not come to counsel in many weeks.
On a far wall, a mural dominated the room. Merlin used pigments, and his own two fingers, painted a rough, nearly abstract likeness of Kheira. The simple pigments did not do her illuminated skin justice, but he captured her big, dark eyes, glossy pink lips and depicted her rich black hair flowing about her face accurate enough. The painting would be the first thing one witnessed on entry to Merlin's chambers, even when he sat in total darkness, the wizard kept the image lit by ingeniously placed candles, which produced an effect of kindling the pigmentation in the manner of her luminance. That is what Uther confronted when he entered the dim chamber, though not unoccupied, as indicted by sparks which flew from a generator that Merlin must have rigged up. Not that Uther Pendragon had a faint notion of what electricity might be. It hadn't been officially discovered yet. “What are you building my friend?”
Merlin, spoke, but did not move from his workbench. “My future.” He enigmatically responded, hunched over an object, at first glance, what might have been a half dollar sized broach. A runic aegishjalmur, or 'helm of awe' set within a metalwork ring housed multicolored fluid, fed from tubes that led from bottles which bubbled and seethed magical concoctions. “I just need to figure out how to keep it alive...” He pointed, but did not gaze up toward his sparking generator. “That only temporarily does it. I must have a divine source of power I think.”
None of this meant a thing to Uther. “You've not been to counsel in days.”
“Things go smooth, nonetheless your Majesty.”
“Yes the kingdom prospers, but that's not my point.
As if he remembered an important fact, Merlin finally glanced over at King Uther, a strange chaotic expression on his face. Emerald eyes darted toward Caliburn, ever sheathed at Uther's hip. Vril swords use a crystalline filament for a blade. But what energizes such a weapon? Do I have such a furnace within my own body? “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Not as yet. I was just concerned for your absence.”
“I'm touched by your worry.” Merlin said to Uther, but his mind kept returning to the workings of his Vril technology. He'd taken nanobots from himself to make the Vriljiin, yet they would not live independent from him. At the moment he doubted very much the device would become a genesis for another technomancer. Won't work, unless the nanobots thrive in a new host.
Uther, waited expectantly. The King could feel his wizard teetered on the cusp of an idea.
Neither man got a chance to break the moment of silence, as Lord Chamberlain Fendrel interrupted the meeting. “Your Majesty!” Called out Tyrian Fendrel. “Majesty, Lady Igraine is here!”
All thought of Merlin's odd behavior pushed aside for Uther.
As for Merlin, Lord Chamberlain Fendrel's news brought the wizard back from his delirium in a manner unlike no amount of friendly cheer could have. Fear, fear of a land in turmoil returned Merlin to the moment. How quickly he, and Uther's roles reversed.
“Constantinople?” King Uther spat. “Constantinople?”
Merlin waited, arms folded, and watched the exchange between Uther, and Igraine, who made quite a lovely sight, dressed as she was in a body hugging maroon sheath which left little to the imagination as to what lay in the offering underneath her frock.
“Yes my King.” Igraine almost whispered. “Gorlois has sent me to inform you that we... Our family will be relocating in a matter of days. He wants to explore the world.”
“I won't allow it. Cornwall is a sworn vassal!”
Of course it'd been meant as a trap, Merlin could see it. Cornwall was no explorer, journeying to far ends of the Holy Roman Empire not in his ken. This whole moment but a test, as well as a taunt for Uther, as if he were saying: I have what you desire, and can easily take it away. But more so to see what action Igraine might take. To her credit the Lady Igraine passed her husband’s trap, as she let slip no sign of attraction toward the High King, though, clearly a mutual interest existed. Maybe not in the manner Uther would have desired.
Either resentful that he did not become High King, or more likely aware of Uther Pendragon's feelings toward his wife, which were one of the more well-known secrets these days, spoken in hushed whispers throughout the realm. Feeling like a cuckold drove the Duke of Cornwall to push the issue. Had Merlin a say, he would have warned Duke Gorlois to let sleeping dogs lay. But you reap what you sow.
Delivering her Lord, and husband's message as she'd been instructed, Igraine made her way back to Tintagel in a timely manner. She left with Uther in a frenzy, raging the halls of his castle. It all had been a gamble on Gorlois's part. Uther might have simply kidnapped Igraine then, and there. Perhaps if he had, things might have ended in a much different way?
Instead Gorlois held up, protected in Tintagel, where King Uther, three days later launched what seemed to many, an unprovoked attack, intent to take Igraine once and for all. Lopsided were the odds. Uther could not raise forces to assault a liegeman who merely meant to protect his wife's honor. The High King stood alone. Just as the Duke knew he would be, isolated.
Fingers rubbed at his temple, the stress of the last few days began to catch up on him. How to salvage the situation? Uther, off waging an unjust war. At least he had the presence of mind to leave Caliburn in his care, lest the Lady of The Lake view his actions as oath breaking. Not that Merlin had been in the mood to examine it. He'd not dare tinker with, or dissemble it either. That could make Kheira mad. He would just need to get his hands on another Vril sword.
Odd how stress worked, forced the mind to recall that which it long since disregarded or locked away. Only in these recent days did he remember that he had not been born Merlin Emrys -- But rather, a very long time ago, he entered life as Ambakhun Tan, son of a Persian woman, and an exiled Vril. Funny, Kheira had never even called him by his given name. Did she know it? When they first met, she seemed quite aware of who he had been.
Yet another realization dawned on him. He did not choose Uther. The One did, and had used It's own shadow to deliver the message. Only now did Merlin see it for what it all was. The One meant to make things plain. It, rather than he was in charge. Blaise wanted him as a servant, and in Uther's kingmaking, he had been just that.
What to do? What to do?
In this agitated state Uther found his wizard, walking without purpose about his chambers, upon returning to Castle Pendragon in order to fetch Merlin himself, and to ask of him a boon. “Merlin I need your aide.” The mania bled through King Uther's words.
“Oh yes, I can imagine...”
King Uther nodded at Kheira's lit image. “I know you understand what it’s like old man.”
“Old man?” Merlin laughed. “I'm no older then yourself.”
“Don't try it. You might fool others, but I know you're far older, and more than human. Despite the body you wear. And I also know other things about you my wizard.”
“You do my King?” Merlin gripped his staff.
“Yes, I know you're in love with her!” Uther pointed at the painting. “Your water sylph, that it rips you apart to not be with her, wherever the good Lady of The Lake might reside, you desire above all else to be with her. Yet you cannot be. I saw it in your eyes the day she presented Caliburn to me. So I implore you, as a man in love. Help me get Igraine.”
Calculations, DNA sequences sped across Merlin's eyes. Things only he could see. Yet his eyes seemed to flash. Igraine's unique linage, Uther's metal. “Yes, the pair of you would make interesting children...” A plan began to form. Time to use my father's spell of luck. The odds must be in my favor. “I'll help you get Igraine, but you must swear,” he reached for Caliburn, Uther appeared to fear Kheira's fury. “Swear that which is born from your lust shall be mine.”
“I swear it. On Caliburn, and by Lady Kheira's wrath!”
A bit of Uther's blood, and his own, the circle fired signaled his intentions.
“Good, it is done. Mmm... Now to make you appear as the Duke.” With a small slate colored square placed upon his bare chest, Merlin changed Uther's appearance to that of the blonde, fair Gorlois of Tintagel. In truth, a hologram. “Go ride! Fast, you've but only a few hours.” A few hours until the hologram lost its current and faded. But it would be time enough for Pendragon to do what needed to be done.
Cornwall, goaded, fed by pride, and righteousness left the protection of his castle, thinking himself to meet Uther again in single combat. A mistake, as this let him be ambushed on the ride by King Uther's bodyguards.
Once in Tintagel Uther, as Gorlois ordered the guard restationed. He even told the gatekeeper to hold the doors open upon the next time he rode out. For he would not be gone long. Uther laughed, went to find Igraine.
Startled by 'Gorlois's' unexpected sudden return, Igraine was half surprised to be whisked off to bed. Her Duke was on a mission, and did not seem likely to be deterred. On the furs he pushed her, a great fire blazed behind them.
“Oh my Lord.” Igraine gasped as he moved one hand up her leg to find her sex, while pushing off her top to expose pointy tits for his kisses. As she lay back, and watched Gorlois disrobe himself, for the briefest moment, was sure Uther straddled above her, a feral look of lust on his face. The apparition of Gorlois, as Uther caused her to flush. Indeed, the whole time they wiggled and thrust on the bed, Igraine could not help but think of her husband, not as Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, but as High King Uther Pendragon.
A wedding. Uther wasted no time in his claim as a conquering warlord to make Igraine, both his Queen, and his wife. At the marriage ceremony, conducted within a silver festooned forest, with red Pendragon banners all about, Merlin observed the bride, dressed in a clingy white-gold gown, though it was not her beauty which he gazed upon. Inside her womb blossomed a life, a future king to be. Named already Arthur by his parents.
Could all this have been arranged without the tricks? Merlin doubted it, they could not have gotten Cornwall out of his castle, nor weakened those defenses without Uther masquerading as the Duke. No, it had to be done this way. There was peace, finally. Besides, now Uther owed him something. Owing a debt to the Devil, always a risky proposition.
[Castle Pendragon. Nine Months, And Three Weeks Later]
Queen Igraine cooed over Crown Prince Arthur as she fed him from her breast. He'd his father's dark hair, and his mother's gold-specked eyes. For being only three weeks old, he was strong. Her girls just loved their new half-brother. Morgana, especially felt highly protective.
“The King,” someone called out.
Igraine glanced up from Arthur. “My Lord. I had thought you in counsel, dealing with the Saxon problem.” Uther did not seem pleased. In truth he appeared to be near a fury. What was going on? Heralded by his owl, Merlin appeared in her bower. The man went wherever he liked, no door closed to him. The Queen, actually rather liked the odd wizard. Morgana surely was infatuated by him. “Tell me husband, what's going on.”
“My beloved...” Uther looked broken. “I swore an oath.”
Fearful she glanced at Merlin, suddenly grasping why both men stood here. “No! You can't have my child. Arthur is your son, heir, Uther. Why?”
Ashamed nearly to admit it, Uther told her the truth. “I made a bargain, with Merlin, that if he would help me gain you... For at least one night, he could have the product of our love.”
“No!” Igraine felt Arthur pull at her hair. “He's mine!”
“Lady Igraine,” Merlin spoke soothingly. He'd put this off, far longer than he should have. The first night he should have arrived and taken the child. But alas, he had slept, exhausted weary. “Trust, I want only the best for your boy.” A truth. Arthur was the once, and future king. His hope for a better time for these lands, and maybe even all of mankind.
As he spoke Merlin reached for the swaddling clothes, and plucked Arthur from Igraine's grip, so stunned was she, the Queen did not even bother to conceal her bared nipple. Vrroch screeched, and Merlin turned, heavy on his staff.
Behind him Igraine cried.
Out in the hallway, Merlin was met by the pleading eyes of Morgana. “Where are you taking my brother?”
Ah, this would be a problem. Who did not know that Uther, and Igraine had a son. Such news had been widely celebrated. As heirs to kingly thrones were want to be. Merlin however anticipated that many would recall this moment. Good, for the future. Yet not now.
“Away, so that he will have a normal life.” Merlin finally responded. “Where he will learn many things. Including how to be a good man.”
“But why can't Father teach him those things?”
Merlin grinned. Morgana, what a precious child. He had plans for her too, though, she would need to be older. The wizard knew he could tap her unreleased energy. Setting aside his staff, that is, letting it stand upright of its own accord, from a pouch the wizard produced a blue, somewhat large marble. He took a tight grip on it, and the marble glowed, hummed, and exploded into a fine dust. Nanobots, carried in the gas spread. They would wipe all memory of Crown Prince Arthur Pendragon from the people. At least until it became time for everyone to remember.
Merlin, Son Of The Devil… (Notes)
Writing The First Technomancer has, at moments forced me to reevaluate assumptions about the character of Merlin himself. There are things we take for granted about this legendary wizard. We assume he’s of the British Isles, and usually that he is an old man, with a long white beard. Many of us likely think of Nicol Williamson, as he depicted Merlin in John Boorman‘s Excalibur. I know I do! In that movie he’s sort of an otherworldly creature, a man, who is not really a man.
Theatrically, Ambakhun Tan in The First Technomancer has more in common with Joseph Fiennes as he played the wizard in STARZ Camelot. It always seemed to me there must be a great back story about Camelot’s Merlin which we only ever got hints at. And you know what? I am not entirely sure the show runners intended to make their Merlin all human either. I think had the series gone on, the revelations surrounding Merlin and his magic would have proven unusual and not simply a matter of ‘magic’ or even demonic forces. The answers surely would have run counter to our typical expectations of Arthurian Legend.
In the back of our minds we tend to think of Merlin in terms of Druids. I do know he is largely depicted as a Pagan and a Druid in The Mists of Avalon. A book that splits male and female spirituality into a very Wiccan, and more broadly Neo-Pagan perspective. One of the things I set out to do is make my Merlin beyond any sectarian notion. He is neither (Neo-) Pagan, nor is he a Christian figure. This idea might upset some, specifically the New Agers among us. Partly that is the goal. My Merlin was not written to carry out one particular agenda outside of servicing the universe of which he was created to be part of.
My goal is, and was, to make a Merlin that transcended the United Kingdom and England. That is why I took his place of origin out of Britannia and placed it in pre-history, on the other side of the globe, in Persia. Many sources tell the tale of how Merlin’s mother was seduced by The Devil. See here for example: http://www.timelessmyths.com/arthurian/merlin.html#Devil
Links of interest…