The darkness didn’t bother him, bleak as it was, but the rain did. It had been raining and thundering in the high heavens for three days now. The lightening was so incessant as to simulate a bright day at some intervals. The rain gave a stark unhealthy quality to the atmosphere, and reeked of uncertainty.
Verily, he was uncertain about the near future.
The wind swept through the abietic trees, and wrapped around his naked form. Using his hands and the brightness of the lightening which streaked across the cloudy skies, he parted the branches of an overhanging balsam tree and went forward still. He couldn’t see the flashing sky of course, not through the multiple canopies of vegetation above him, but the flashes filtered down every now and then.
His breathing was only slightly laboured as he had been walking just three days from the outlying hills of Nod. His feet seemed permanently encased in the muddy soil, but he did not mind. He only had a mind, and eyes, for one thing.
Behind him, high atop the trees which surrounded him, a slithering form followed. Its eyes, as they reflected the flash of the lightening above, did not cease being crimson like the blood-red rubies that lined the white banks of the Pishon. The beast moved quickly and in inevitable silence, its ancient eyes on the straggling figure below. Soon, the chill gave way to distant warmth. It was time. The red orbs left the man for the first time in a long while.
The man slowed in front of a hedge. Slowly, as though with uncertainty, he reached out with a hand and parted the obstruction. He squinted in the blue light which lit up his face. His eyes adjusted quickly, and he made a detailed examination of the phenomena in front of him.
He was looking into a circular clearing about 500paces in diameter, a perfect circle, he surmised correctly. The centre of the lot was blurry, as though seen through a wall of still water, the way he examined the sun. The rippling blur was luminous too, though the man knew it wasn’t the blur which gave out the light. At the very centre of the clearing stood a large rock, and upon the face of the rock stood a small tree, unremarkable in every way except that its roots seemed to dig into the hard rock. It also had a very potent guard, the man reminded himself. The man was very aware of the presence of Gamukir, the flaming sword which had been stationed here. Gamukir revolved—at the speed of lightning. He wasn’t surprised as to how he suddenly knew this. The flaming weapon was revolving so swiftly around the tree that it had become invisible. The man concentrated, squinting painfully at the vision. His vision slowed, and he could see the glorious sword during a revolution. Its spiral filigreed hilt, two cubits tall, held a large emerald at the very centre. From the top of the hilt shot out a thin body of solid light, out of which blue flames roared. It was this which was responsible for the azure hue thrown on everything, and the welcome warmth.
Gamukir would allow nothing through to the tree and its hallowed trinitarian fruits.
A few cubits above the tree from whose lithe branches hung three blue fruits, a canopy of water had formed. Gamukir had refused even the tiniest droplets of rain ingress into its circle of movement- 50paces around the tree. As a result, the whole area within the purview of the sword was completely dry. The rain gathered above, and drifted down in a rush, as though racing down an invisible semi-circular shell.
The man had seen enough.
He closed his eyes, pulling on the reserves of his energy, and steeling himself for the task ahead. After a long time, feeling the rivulets of rain running down on his face, he exhaled and turned, looking above him at the darkness of the trees. Nothing was there. His escort was gone. He felt the stirring of a fear; a strange feeling, but one he was getting used to with each experience.
On the other side of the clearing from him, the beast slithered into view. The serpent was as wide as the man’s thigh, long as fifteen paces and moved with obvious regality. The man allowed himself to admire the serpent for a moment. Welded to its head was a diadem on which were nested seven variegated jewels, dug up from the mountain of fire before the world was young. The blue glossy scales of the serpent caught the ambient blue light from the flaming sword, rendering it a vista of living brilliance.
The sword stopped suddenly, and faced the slowly approaching serpent. Two words emanated from empty air as the spirit of Gamukir spoke, “Be gone”. The sword stopped at about fifty paces from the tree. It could go no further, for it was too dangerous to be bestowed that concession in its original mandate.
The serpent hissed rebelliously, baring gilded jaws and adamantine fangs of melded onyx and diamond. The jewels around his flat skull suddenly flared brightly, adding a variegated splendour to ambient lighting in the the clearing. Gamukir spoke no more. The emerald at the hilt flared. Something like a liquid drop fell off it, and the area around the tree was suddenly alive with green flames. The serpent hissed disdainfully, and sprang forward, though not coming too near to the lethal guard. The fire died away as it approached, and Gamukir began to vibrate. The stones on the serpent reached out with separate rays of light, all seeking to fall on the sword, except they didn’t.
Gamukir reacted quickly. The emerald jewel shot a beam to counteract the will of the serpent. The serpent represented ancient evil, evil older than even the spirit of the sword. The sword focused its will, bent on driving the serpent into a paralysing stupor.
The two contenders were perfectly still now as though stuck in a moment of time, the man saw. The battle of the will instigated by the serpent was now in progress. The sword was not made for this, and it would hamper its response time to the man’s own action. Now was the time. He breathed deeply.
One moment, the man was looking through the gap in the clearing, the next he was beside the sword. Gamukir had felt the swift movement, and had lately decided to face the new enemy. Leaving the throes of the serpent’s gaze, it sought to swipe at the intruder which was about to enter its guard radius…
The man stopped just outside the guard radius. His ability would not work within it. He didn’t stop to think. He simply continued running on the bare strength of his feet, perfectly aware that Gamukir was already about to slay him…
The man’s huge hands wrapped around the hilt of the sword as it began to swipe. Gamukir resisted violently, and flared brighter still, searing the man’s hands. The man roared, a terrifying sound, and held on tightly. The observing serpent shivered slightly for the first time since the Old War.
Gamukir submitted to the will of man, and became dim. The area was now only illuminated dimly, the diadems on the serpent having stopped radiating. Gamukir began burning a brilliant yellow, evidence of its corruption and loss. It had no choice, for it was being wielded by the son of God.
Adam smiled at his victory in the very centre of the garden of Eden, and grinned at the approaching serpent. It seemed only slightly etiolated.
“You have done well, Diablo. Now, I shall never return to dust, or face the eternal judgement of God”
Grinning slightly, his face lit by the yellow flames from the vanquished sword, Adam, the son of God, reached for the fruit of Life.
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