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HELIODYSSEY -- BOOK TWO

Ian Fry's cover for Cain, Slayer of Abel, Phase One 1988

COUERANNA'S CURSE EIGHT

CAIN, SLAYER OF ABEL

- Double-click to enlarge Ian Fry's cover, which was originally intended for the Phantacea Phase One project -

According to some Outer Earth scholars, the first exactly dated year in history was 4241 BC. One of the first names noted on a monument was that of Manes, the likely fabulous Etocretan fighter who left his Island homeland to unite Upper and Lower Egypt sometime in the latter half of the fourth millennium before the Christian Era began. This maybe mythological Manes thereby inaugurated the First Dynasty in modern humanity's ancient past.

By comparison, the legendary Gilgamesh of Uruk-Erech was said to have ruled until 2750; King Zoser, founder of the Third Egyptian Dynasty died around 2720; and the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed around the year 2000. However, it was not an act of God, like an earthquake or volcano, that ignited the bituminous soil in the southern regions of the aptly named Dead Sea, or the equally apt Lake Asphaltitis as it was called during Persian-Hellenistic times.

Nor was it God's revenge on the denizens of the wicked metropolises. Not necessarily anyhow. It was Trigon landing for the start of the Recurring Male Entity's seventh lifetime. And it was also nearly twenty-seven hundred years after devils came to the Whole Earth en masse.
========

The all-male Xuthrodites were named after Xuthros Hor, the Biblical Noah, whereas the all-female Antheans traced their lineage to Hor's wife, Anthea, the mother of Ham, Shem, Japheth and a number of daughters who, like their mother, were never named in the Bible. Both age-old groups were a little more precise in their dates. They agreed there was a Great Flood, though perhaps not entirely of water, and that it occurred in the year 4000 BC. On the Inner Earth, that date corresponded precisely with the Moloch Sedon raising the Cathonic Zone out of his own essence. Which thereby divided the planet into its two present day sections.

Another thing the Illuminated Faith and the Antediluvian Sisterhood agreed upon was that Sedon's Head was initially the Northern Pacific archipelago of Pacifica, the Places of Peace, which was traditionally known as Lemuria. They further acknowledged the existence of what Plato called Atlantis but they referred to as Eden. They avoided debate about Cro-Magnons, Neanderthals, and what time span encompassed the Stone, Silver, Bronze, and Iron Age. They were unanimous when it came to classifying the slightly more than fifteen hundred years before the Flood as the Golden Age of Mankind, however.

Went a step further and concurred that Alorus Ptah, the Biblical Adam, was born exactly one thousand, six hundred and fifty-six years before the Genesea. In this, and very little else, they therefore considered the Bible accurate. Not that the rest of it was all made up; by no means was it. For example, the ten Biblical patriarchs from Adam to Noah were all born exactly when the Bible stated. All lived as long as it said as well. It was, however, rubbish to say that Droch Nor, the Biblical Enoch and seventh patriarch of Golden Age Mankind, never died. He did. Was crushed beneath the Sedonshem as it landed not far from Kanin City, in what was now central Marutia, Sedon’s Cheek, six hundred and sixty nine years before the Deluge.

Nor was three hundred and sixty-five when he was killed. Had therefore lived as many years as the year had days. Proper Golden Agers were a peculiar breed, however. They aged normally until they reached puberty but thereafter, at least from the time they were twenty, began to age very slowly indeed. One rule of thumb used by Illuminaries in the Weirdom of Cabalarkon, and by some scholars on the outside, was to consider every one of their years a month. In human terms one could think of, say, Amemp Tut, the eighth patriarch and the one who lived longest, as being the equivalent of eighty years and nine months, rather than 969 years, when he died.

By that reckoning, Nor was barely four months past his thirtieth birthday when the Sedonshem arrived right on top of him. In truth he had been patriarch for sixty-five years; three hundred being the traditional date for the first born of the previous patriarch to assume his father's mantle. Perhaps ironically, this meant he was the first patriarch to die since Ptah-Adam passed on at the age of nine hundred and thirty in 726 PD, Pre-Dome. Which made Droch three hundred and eight at the time.

By the time of the Flood, however, only Amemp Tut and his grandson, Xuthros Hor, were still around. All the rest were dead thanks almost exclusively to devils. Not that the devils directly killed anyone; not after Droch Nor and those unfortunates with him, that is. Even way back then, their father-progenitor, the eventual Demon King Sedon, forbade his descendants killing their potential worshippers. Their adherents, though, were a different matter.

Illuminaries of Weir, whose ancestors did not arrive on the still Whole Earth until a decade before the Flood, never learned much about the antediluvian civilization of Eden. Even devils gained only a smattering of information about its rise and fall. Somewhere around ten thousand years before the present day, the Earth's last Ice Age ended. As vast glaciers melted, waters throughout the globe consequently rose, swamping much of the planet. There remained a lengthy archipelago that stretched across the Atlantic Ocean between North Africa and Iberia all the way to what would become the West Indies and North-Central America.

Long ago fully sunk, presumably in Hor's Flood, its remains are now under the Sargasso Sea. But, when it was above water, this area must have been Plato's Atlantis. Eden's society was so highly advanced some have suggested it was extraterrestrial, perhaps even Utopian, in origin. Its technical achievements made those of 1938's Outer Earth pale in contrast. However, it had become decadent in much the same way Old Weir's civilization had, -- not content with extremely long, healthy lives provided by their famous golden apples, hence the term Golden Agers, Edenites wanted immortality, the stuff of Godhood.

As one might expect, many of the experiments they performed in order to attain immortality were biogenetic; affronts to nature some had it. The majority of them failed miserably but Edenites never threw anything away. What they did instead was deposit their results, the ones that survived that is, on the continent-sized archipelago of Pacifica-Lemuria, which thereafter became known as Eden's Zoo. That practise accounted for the incredible diversity of sentient lifeforms still found on Sedon's Head.

Around the age of one hundred, Alorus Ptah left Eden's Atlantean homeland and moved first to Africa or Spain before ending up in the Middle East, -- at Power Point Sumeria, which might have been the Island of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Following his lead, the patriarchs tended to adopt a continent, or a large chunk of a continent, and its people. Ptah himself oversaw Northern Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East as far as the boundaries of Persia. His third son, the one after Abel and Cain, was blue-skinned Pseth Ra, the Biblical Seth. He lived at Power Point Bharata in the Indus Valley and maintained a proprietary interest in the subcontinent of India and the towering highlands of the Himalayas.

Pseth's son, the third patriarch, Enolon Su or Enosh-Pseth, lived at Power Point Gobi near present day Mongolia’s Ulan Bator, the coldest capital city in the modern world. His territory was what became China and indeed much of the Orient. Number Four, Kemem Seb or Kenan, had the southern two-thirds of Africa, Australia, and Antarctica, which was then largely ice-free. Number Five, Mahurus Zir or Mahalel, had South America, particularly the Andean and Amazon regions while Six, Jaro Dan or Jared, Droch Nor's father, ruled Northern America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia. Since all his predecessors showed no signs of giving up what amounted to their personal protectorates, Nor opted for Lemuria, Eden's Zoo.

Even though like some natives of the then largely submersed, howsoever shallowly, continent he had green and slightly scaly skin, Droch did not have to go for Lemuria. With Ptah's passing, Power Point Sumeria was available. From it he could have ruled the entire Mediterranean Basin, Arabia and as far east as the beginnings of Pseth Ra's sub-continental and Himalayan realms. Indeed that was what Ra, still the most respected man alive, wanted him to do. Nor pleaded humility. He could never replace Alorus in the hearts and minds of the Sumerians. Besides, no other patriarch had taken much interest in the sad state of the castaway Lemurians.

The real reason was that Nor was not much of a fighter. And fight he would have to do because, in what was now the Sinai Peninsula, there stood Enoch City. Dominated by three mighty ziggurats it was the last stronghold of Edenite Science. And there also lived the oldest and most hated man alive, -- Cain, Slayer of Abel!

Although the Moloch Sedon, the Six Great Gods and Goddesses, and their devic offspring had dealt the finishing blow to Weir System's Utopia by deactivating its Mother Machine, in many respects Old Weir had brought about its own demise. After all it was their quest for immortality that led the Recurring Male Entity to produce the Devil and eventual Demon King in the first place. While details about the final fall of Eden remained sketchy, it was known their technology had been the main culprit; that Ptah had voluntarily left Eden to sink under the weight of its own perversions but that the Cainites still espoused its use and, more importantly, that they had plenty of it left in Enoch City.

Consequently, Droch preached a simple message to the Lemurians; one that stressed the natural life of the hunter-gatherer. He condemned cities and science with equal vehemence and, particularly in the tormented products of that science, found a highly receptive audience. If the miserable Cainites did try to re-establish the glory of disgraced Eden, -- and, as mentioned in the Bible, Cain had his own dynasty of anti-patriarchs already in place --, then Lemurians would fight to the last drop of their mutated blood.

Droch was more for moral persuasion than violence but he and his never got the chance to face down the Cainites. 'When he was 365 and in constant touch with God, he disappeared. For God took him.' His passing did not go unnoticed of course. The Sedonshem landing had left a rather enormous depression in what would become the Gregarian Fields, Sedon’s Mole, the site of Thrygragon over four thousand years later. Those who had been underneath it died instantly, atomized by the force of its arrival. However, since it was made up of Sedon's essence and filled almost entirely with devic spirit beings, it dissipated upon impact.

It was therefore understandable that those who survived, particularly the fortunately high-flying Angelics, believed Droch had been struck down by a bolt from the sky. Or taken up, as the story came to be circulated. Certainly no one realized the Whole Earth had been invaded by devils; that the Moloch had in effect brought Hell to Earth. Not even earthborn demons, who denied they were yet another product of Eden's discredited experiments.

Truth told, once they became aware devils had in effect fallen from the sky, these demons and their cousins, the fays, faeries or feeorin Fair Folk, were among the first to join with Alorus Ptah and his descendents, notably Jaro Dan, the sixth patriarch of Golden Age Humanity, in trying to drive them back to the stars from whence they came.

In many respects demonic opposition to devils continued to this day. However, some three decades more than 200 years before the Great Flood of Genesis, the Genesea, the earthborn lost a legendary battle against the skyborn and they were forced to acclaim Sedon their undisputed ruler and become the devils’ greatest allies. Hence the Moloch Sedon becoming the Demon Sedon.

Jaro Dan is best remembered today as one-eyed Odin while the legendary battle during which he was killed was of course Ragnarok.
========

Devils had been a long time coming to Earth, thousands upon multiple thousands of years. Had been throughout the Cosmos, sowing the seeds of evil everywhere they went. Even devils had no idea how many of them there once were; not even how many of them finally made it to the planet after the ragtag remnants of Thrygragos Lazareme's expeditionary force reported back to the Sedonshem, which was then on the Moon, that the Earth was ripe for the conquest.

All the more so since a person who may well have been the Heliosophos Entity had died some sixty years earlier.
========

The Trigregos Sisters, Demeter, Devaura, and Sapiendev, the collective mothers of devazurkind, had never been with them; had been left behind in Trigon on New Weirworld. That did not mean there could be no new devils; there could not have been anyhow. The Recurring Male Entity, the very person who created Sedon, had seen to that when he had his miraculous Mnemosyne Machine render Weir Star an instantaneous supernova during one of his myriad lifetimes, -- he never said which one. The explosion must have slaughtered thousands of devils, not to mention billions of their followers.

Devils, though, were immortal in the sense that, while they could be killed, they never aged unless they wanted to and never died anything so prosaic as a natural death. Even when there was no one worshipping them, they could survive on nothing more, and nothing less, than stellar energy. One who was not so blessed, or cursed as the case may be, was Cabalarkon, the Utopian scientocrat out of whose eye Heliosophos first fashioned Sedon.

Throughout the hundred and fifty, maybe two hundred thousand Earth years since the Sedonshem left New Weir, he had been sealed inside a tub of Cathonic Fluid. He could never emerge from it, not fully, but he was still alive, albeit in a state of suspended animation. Sedon's first order of business therefore was to bury the sarcophagus containing the Utopian he regarded as his father more so than Helios, his ever-dying but ever-returning enemy. The site he chose was well north and slightly west of the Gregarian Fields.

"There!" he proclaimed, after the deed was done. "This place is sacred. No devil, no follower of a devil, shall ever trespass on this land. I shall call it the Weirdom of Cabalarkon and guard it with my immortal life."

In those long gone days, Sedon was but one of four constantly solid devils. The others were the Three Great Gods, Thrygragos Lazareme, Thrygragos Byron, and the VAM Entity, Thrygragos Varuna Ahriman Mithras. But was this Mithras a Great God? Was Sedon Himself not the third one? The question was still hotly debated among the Illuminaries of Weir and even devils themselves, those that granted interviews, seemed not to know the answer.

One theory was Mithras was not just a tripartite being but a conglomerate monstrosity; that all the children, male and female, Sedon, Byron, and Lazareme sired upon the Three Great Goddesses congregated within and indeed made up Mithras. Certainly it was true that, after the destruction of the first Weir Star, the only reason any devil survived was by massing inside their respective fathers, -- their mothers having sided with the Dual Entities. The so-called Female Entity was mostly a miraculous mechanism based on Weir's original Mother Machine but she had an innate intelligence and her own highly distinct personality.

So, had Sedon merely secreted all his offspring in his first three, Varuna, Mithras, and this Ahriman? Could well be, since another thing that was known, very strongly rumoured rather, was that the four solid devils were not lacking female companionship during their multi-millennia journey through the stars.

Just as he got his life from Heliosophos, Sedon got the idea to compose female companions from the Male Entity. As he knew from their previous encounters, Mnemosyne could become humanized by possessing or being possessed by a devil. On the Weirworld of his third lifetime and whatever one it was he caused Weir Star to go supernova, Mnemosyne took over the Trigregos Sisters. And what Helios could do, Sedon could do one better.

He divided the devils within the three brothers, if that was what they were, into the two sexes. Males stayed inside Thrygragos but females were drawn out and massed external to them. However, because the four resultant women were each composed of dozens, perhaps even hundreds of third generation devils, -- of necessity the Great Gods' own daughters --, they had many and myriad personas. Not to mention physical appearances.

Even though the Spirit Being Illuminaries eventually named Aphropsyche Morningstar, APM, was the most sexually adept of his daughters, Byron came to prefer Smoky Sedona, as she came to be called. This mostly due to the fact, even then, he was disproportionately more head than body.

Lazareme, as was his wont, liked all of his daughters equally and let each of them come to the forefront as often as they desired. Being the Libertine, he sometimes even let some of sons shine through him, -- Chaos, Eventual-Abaddon, of his first litter being his favourite. The VAM Entity, with his three personalities, had three individual favourites: Eventual-Coueranna, Eventual-Marutia, and Eventual-Belialma, respectively also Kore of the Many Names, Kanin Marut, and Sinistral Lust of Satanwyck.

One he had no use for was Eventual-Methandra, she nowadays only nominally of Mythland, the only female born in his first litter. She thus became known as Varuna's Virgin, a nickname that stuck until the present century when she started having fourth generation devils by Tantal Thanatos, he eventually of Frozen Lathakra. Along with long-cathonitized Phantast, the mastermind of the Crimson Conspiracy, Thanatos was her breed brother and one of the most powerful Master Devas ever to become solid. Likely his only rivals in that department were Byron's eventual Beast, Rudra Silvercloud, and the two male Unities, Chaos and Order.

Not one to be left out of the action, Dark Sedon extracted his own mates. For most of the time the primary one was Pyrame Silverstar, as she came to call herself, but after she was lost within the already extant Egyptian Sphinx during Thrygragos Lazareme's preliminary scouting mission on the Earth, the Moloch made Eventual-Vetala his preferred companion.

This was six some millennia before she voluntarily became a vampire and, after his father's sarcophagus was safely secured in the Weirdom of Cabalarkon and he had turned his mind to conquering the Earth, she also became his principal agent. It was not by choice of course. He did cherish her but, as became quickly apparent, devils were next to useless when it came to conquering anyone by force.

Even if Sedon wanted them to, as spirit beings they could not slay anyone. Could no more harm a mortal than eat roast boar or drink beer. Made piss-poor deities as well. What could they do to make anyone want to worship them? They were simply too insubstantial. Oh, as a Mithras Spawn eventually given the name of Trawl discovered on the Libertine's mission, they could possess many of Lemuria's intelligent abominations. There was nothing new about this, though. Devils had been possessing sentient lifeforms throughout the cosmos; had been corrupting them since seemingly forever and a day. The trick was to possess the right ones, those in power and who had influence.

But, and here was the astonishing reality of the Whole Earth sixty-five hundred years ago, the persons in power and influence were the patriarchs and anti-patriarchs, the direct descendants of Alorus Ptah and this horrible Trishtar Thrae woman, the Biblical Eve, and their offspring. It was like they were back in the realm of the Celestials, where they lost one of Great Byron's firstborn, the litter sister of the two eventual Silverclouds, -- she whose story, once Illuminaries of Weir learned of it, inspired them to name her Serathrone Hallow. Devils could not possess these Golden Agers anymore than they could Celestials or, before them, Utopians of either Weirworld.

Did that mean Edenites were Utopians who, over the centuries, had intermingled with the indigents of the planet, had lost their distinctive black or white skin colorations, but had nevertheless passed on their genetic immunity to devic possession? Was it something more simple; these Golden Apples that were everywhere about perhaps?

Sedon was not one for speculation. He still wanted this planet for himself. Although his dreams for an instant conquest were thwarted by his progenies inability to overtly affect the Earth's dominant people, there were always other ways. It might take some time but what was time to an immortal? Like any good military strategist, he determined to learn the lay of the land before he went much further. Golden Agers might be beyond the capacity of devils to occupy but Ptah/Trishtar's descendants and theirs were hardly the only humans, let alone the only sentient lifeforms, on the planet.

He gave his three sons complete command of their offspring then divided up the world amongst them. To use modern terminology Byronics got the Americas, Mithradites much of Asia, and, his personal pride and joy, Lazaremists, the elder lands, what was left of Old Eden, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, and the Middle East. Keeping Lemuria, Pacifica, the Places of Peace, for himself, he sent them on their merry, meddlesome way.

"Go now. And do not return until this planet is ours!"

"Within our grasp, don't you mean, father?"

"Do not return until I summon you back then, Libertine!"

And so the Great Gods and their offspring, his allocated ones in Mithras's case, set to scouting the Whole Earth in much more depth than Lazareme's party had been able to earlier.
========

Each of the brothers went about their task in characteristic fashion.

========

"Our way is the way of tolerance and the pursuit of higher goals," Great Byron instructed his. "However, anyone who interferes with our efforts shall be dealt with severely."

"Ours is the way of command," Mithras warned his. "Anyone who disagrees with my commands shall be dealt with, -- personally!"

"Let whatever will be, be," swilled Lazareme, who was not a spirit being and therefore could drink beer. If Byron was mostly head, Mithras ambition and boundless determination to become a true son of Sedon, then the Libertine was largely beer belly. So much so that in his more mirthful moments he let his third eye peer out of his navel.

"So long as we win!"

If victory amounted to reconnaissance trips and an effective, though hardly decisive, degree of subversion, then they were very successful. While his sons and theirs scattered to the other three corners of the Earth, Sedon kept to the fourth one, the archipelago of Lemuria. It was not that his Utopian father rested beneath its ground or that the vast majority of Eden's cast-offs were eminently easy to possess. Rather, it was because he had decided to cultivate one particular genera of these discards.

Demons were very much like devils in a lot of ways. Their king, such as he was, was not very much like Sedon, however. Not when it all came down to dust, -- though demons were more sludge than dust.

The Moloch had to admit Daemonicus was a decent name, though.
========

Shem, in one tongue at least, meant name. It was also the name of one of Noah's sons, the ancestor of the Semite race according to certain professorial types who probably should have known better. A Shem was one other thing, however, -- a flying vehicle. Edenites did not call these mechanical birds akin to modern day airplanes that, though. As in the Vedas, they referred to them as vimanas.

Outer Earth iconography generally depicted them as either a caduceus or a winged sun-disk, often with an 'X' in the centre of a circle. In the Bible, the Mark of Cain, which was branded into the middle of the anti-patriarch's forehead by God the Singular after he slew Abel, was also a circled X. So were the symbols of Xuthros Hor, the Persian Mithras and the Greek Sun God Helios much later on in recorded history.

Shortly after his disappearance, Droch Nor's son landed one of these war-birds on the outskirts of Power Point Bharata in what was now the Indian subcontinent. With the death, ascension as rumour already had it, of his father, Amemp Tut became the Golden Agers' nominal patriarch. It was only a slightly premature promotion. Later that same year, 669 PD, when he turned three hundred himself, he would have anyhow. Officially only. Even Nor recognized that the de facto patriarch of Golden Age Humanity was Magister Pseth Ra, the Biblical Adam's third son. Had been since Alorus' death fifty-seven years earlier.

Everyone but his second son, that is. Then again, few believed Cain was Ptah's by Eve. Most thought he belonged to Daemonicus’s ever-wayward mate: the strangely missing Lilith. Demon Queen of the Night.
========

In modern human terms, Pseth Ra appeared to be a still vigorous man of about seventy. Centuries of exploring his territory had tanned his blue-skin, turning it almost brown. For state occasions he even had to resort to dying it with indigo in order to maintain his primogenitor image. Eto-Edenites, true Edenites, who hailed from the Islands of the Atlantean Archipelago, were expected to be blue-skinned, the colour of the sea and the sky, -- though his mother, Trishtar Thrae, the Biblical Eve, like Droch Nor, had been more of a leafy green.

This Eve was born in a garden; possibly even the Garden. It wasn’t the Eden once found on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, however. Her Eden, where Ptah met her while on a trip to it, was a Lemurian Island. Was, to be precise, Apple Isle, where Master Kyprian was currently being held very much against her will by Cruel Plathon, the Bull of Mithras. Then as now, it was three-quarters jungle. Was a lot larger then that it was now, though.

After he raised the Cathonic Zone out of his own essence, Sedon in particular and devils in general, through their host-shells and ever-expanding armies of adherents, terra-formed Lemuria-Pacifica. Their task was made moderately easier by the fact the water for the Genesea had to have come from somewhere and much of it actually came from what had been an archipelago. As the nowadays North Pacific, continental area dried up, its islands and shallow seas were replaced with mountains and valleys, vast plains and millennial forests. It also gained the semblance of a human skull, left-side perspective; hence the name Sedon's Head.

Now surrounded by the Gulf of Corona, Sedon's Human Eye, Apple Isle was its pupil. However, in the Golden Age of Humanity, the Flood Lands, currently home to anthropomorphic Saurs and their dim-witted cousins, actual dinosaurs, were linked to it via the Gulf, which was only partially below water level. Amemp Tut wasn’t in Bharata to talk about either Pseth Ra’s mother or Apple Isle, however. He’d come hither to receive his forbearer’s blessing. And his instructions as to how he should proceed with patriarchy.

In what was even then the style of the indigents of his long pre-Indus Civilization land, Ra wore a turban and long robe. He kept himself clean-shaven, head-hair included, and had the unwholesome habit of smoking herbal hallucinogens in a fat, water-filled hookah, -- the better to travel the Grey without ever leaving his body. By contrast his five hundred and fifty odd years younger, linear descendant did not need to dye his skin. He was a natural blueblood; even made his home in one of Old Eden's remnant Islands, Power Point Bimini, off the coast of Florida.

Although other patriarchs ran the gamut from Semitic to Oriental to African to Aboriginal Australian to Polynesian, like Pseth Ra, Amemp Tut's features were essentially Caucasian. His greenish hair was unkempt after his long flight and he probably had not shaved in a couple of weeks. His clothing was a simple linen toga, functional and appropriate for Bharata's heat.

Out of respect for his predecessor, he carried no weapons and, although he much preferred spirits of the alcoholic variety, which were hardly conducive to getting about between-space, even partook of Ra's hookah. Tut was no mystic, though; no great thinker. For him, sleep should be dreamless. A respite from the day's activities, not an extension of them.

"Droch was bodily weak," Ra confessed, not necessarily disapprovingly. "Given what his father's like, that is perhaps understandable. Even I have been cowed by Jaro Dan on occasion. His temper is justifiably legendary. I sometimes feel it is more distemper, a symptom of mental disease than anything. Comes with the climate he chooses to live within, I suppose. When you are surrounded by ice and raked by north winds ten months of the year, rage is probably all that keeps your blood circulating.

"That said though, your father was a good man. Of a deeply philosophical, one might even say religious bent. I worried about him sometimes. Despite the lifestyle he advocated, a lifestyle practised by my slain middle brother, he was nowhere near earthy enough; head lost in the clouds and all that. The life of a hunter-gatherer, sanctified by Abel's blood as it is, and as honourable, as pure, as it may be, is a bit of a throwback after all. Damn hard work too. No fun at all. Still, one shouldn't criticize the dead."

"Disappeared," interrupted Tut, whose biblical name was Methuselah. "The Angelics say he was taken by a bolt from the sky." Amemp Tut was big on creature comforts. Saw nothing wrong with availing himself of the toil of others. Patriarchs had enough on their plate already. Why should they have to waste all their energy filling it with food as well?

"Quite," acknowledged Ra. "By dead I was referring to Abel," he added. "An act of God does seem somehow appropriate. I doubt that was the case, though. You're aware I felt obliged to offer Droch Nor Power Point Sumeria shortly after my father's death?" Tut, the hereditary Eighth, acknowledged he’d heard as much from his father, the Seventh, but, begging Pseth’s pardon, he wondered what the gracefully aging Second was getting at.

"My rationale was simple. A patriarch's presence so close to Enoch City might have been kept Cain’s miserable anti-patriarchs in line. I'm retroactively grateful Droch didn't take it. The Lemurians had been neglected and, if only as a boost to their self-esteem, they undoubtedly benefited from his presence. Point is the Cainites would have made mincemeat out of him. Ptah relied on more than moral persuasion to keep his bastard under control, you know."

"Talked soft but carried a big stick," Amemp provided.

"And wasn't afraid to use it either. In many respects it was fortunate Father Alorus survived long enough for Droch to become patriarch. Had Jaro still been in charge, well, there's another aphorism about sticks and stones. Between him and Cain I doubt they'd have bothered calling each other names before they went at it full bore. And using Edenite weaponry to boot. So to speak."

"Surely you're not suggesting my grandfather killed his own son, Magister."

"On the contrary, had Dan your Dad's Dad wished to resume his suzerainty he would have done it long before you came of age. Probably would have done it fifty-seven years ago when my father died. Filicide is as evil, as unforgivable, as unthinkable to Jaro, as fratricide should have been to Cain. No, mark me, while it may have been God who took him, Droch Nor was murdered by Cainites."

"Because they think I'm mentally and physically weak."

"And morally corrupt, thanks at least partially to your mother who, daddy Ptah and Mama Thrae's efforts to the contrary, has always remained one of them. Also because your son, Oriartes Ma, is well over a hundred and eighty years away from succeeding you. Despite his Cainite blood, he seems an admirable boy. More Droch's disciple than yours."

Lamech-Cain, as opposed to Oriartes Ma, who was also referred to as Lamech-Pseth, was the sixth in Cain's line. Lamia, Tut's mother, was his sister. Amemp's other name, Methuselah, was very similar to Methusael, Lamech-Cain's father and the fifth anti-patriarch.

"And you're getting on yourself, Ra. But so is Cain. Considerably more so in fact. You think they'll target you next, don't you?"

"Listen to me, youngster. Cain refuses to give up on the ways of drowned Eden. He lives in a city, seeks dominance for his line as opposed to mine, and has weapons. Old weapons. Wicked weapons. But we too have weapons. The weapons that destroyed Eden are still ours as much as his. Jaro and Kemem Seb, his grandfather and of a like mind, have repositories full of them in the extremes of their realms. They will obey me, will obey my Enolon Su, Seb's father as well, but if both of us die before Cain, I doubt very much either would obey you. Especially if they see you as the bastard's pawn."

"What are you saying?"

"I have smoked on this at length, Tut. Have studied many 'Ys', many indicative arrows, many possible futures. Fate has chosen you to carry on my line. It is your birthright. But you remain a few months shy of your three hundredth birthday, the traditional age of attaining wisdom, 'Ys-dom'; of succeeding to the patriarchy. Therefore you may still be considered a foolish youth; one understandably angered by your father's wilful murder by the anti-patriarchs. One who might be forgiven if you suddenly acquire your grandfather's rage and do as he always desired but Ptah refused to allow."

"You want me to prove myself by killing Cain?"

"I have foreseen many things. Most Ys point to you, the youngest of us all save your own son, outliving the rest of us. So I prophesy, so I promise. But first Cain must die!"
========

Deeply disturbed by Magister Ra's words, Amemp Tut returned to Power Point Bimini and summoned his young, teenage-looking son to his residence. Then one hundred and thirteen, Oriartes Ma, had been born and spent most of his time on the nearby mainland while Tut himself preferred the Island remnants of the Atlantean archipelago.

From what became the Great Lakes southward all the way to the Isthmus of Panama were considered Tut's realm. Consequently, since patriarchs tended to acquire the characteristics of their people as if by osmosis, Ma was red-skinned, more Polynesian than Caucasian or Semitic. There was not much doubt that when he became the patriarch some hundred and eighty-seven years thence he would make North America his home.

This was as both he and his father desired. Not for them Power Point Sumeria. Not with Cain still around. Additionally, as Pseth had accurately noted, Oriartes was a true disciple of Droch Nor, though he was more in the hunter than the gatherer category. A shame his eyesight was so bad but there it was. Inbreeding had its inherent drawbacks.

Tut's weakness, though, was more laziness than anything else.
========

Even Golden Agers had gods, a God rather. Supposedly only Alorus Ptah and, some said, Droch Nor had ever seen him. According to Droch and their own folklore, the Angelic race were this God's representatives, his messengers more like, but that was probably only because they had wings and could fly, some even between-space. A majority felt Angelics were yet another Edenite biogenetic experiment gone awry. Certainly they were not immortal; were in fact less long-lived than even modern day men and women.

They did have souls, however, and practised metempsychosis such that a dying angel's life force could be captured in a soul sink and transferred to an aborning child. Along with their souls went at least a modicum of the life force's mind and, with it, an ancestral memory. When an angel claimed to have seen God it meant that one of his long-gone forbearers had seen God. And when angels as a collective said that God was a singular entity, a male one at that, those of a 'religious bent' tended to believe them.

This God, some said, was of the heavens, was a Celestial, a member of a star-born race and therefore could not be one of a kind. Others said he was a rebel Celestial, the equivalent of the Titan Prometheus, who gave humanity sentience against the wishes of his fellows. Dependent on one's race, he was variously described as Semitic, Caucasian, Oriental, African, Polynesian, or Australian aboriginal. Most agreed that, whatever his skin colour, he was next to unbearable to look upon because his hair and beard, if he had one, were composed of sunrays.

Except for the fact his skin was definitely blue, much the same thing was said about Alorus Ptah. This led to the oft-quoted statement that man was made in the image and likeness of God. Other upper-level sentient beings on the Whole Earth may object to such a characterization but it suited human beings. Gave them all the rationale they needed to ignore the plight of the Lemurian Frog Folk and their equally usually bipedal, yet non-human, neighbours. They were animals given sentience. Otherwise why would they live in Eden's Zoo?

As for Ptah's firstborn, the farmer, Anti-Patriarch Cain, he of Enoch City, in his youth he too was blond whereas Abel was dark-haired. Cain was even more weathered and wrinkled than his younger brother, Pseth Ra, only he made no effort to dye his skin; preferred the dark-tanned look. His hair and beard were long and grey; their brightness thoroughly faded. Even the light in his eyes had gone out, gone dark and receded into the depths of his skull's sockets. He was a walking corpse but one who could never lie down and die. At least that was one interpretation of the curse this Solitary God put upon him after he killed Abel the Shepherd.

"The Mark of Cain," Tut was saying to Ma after he fully related all Pseth Ra had told him in Bharata, "His third eye as some wags describe it, is God's warning to stay away from him. Whoever kills him will suffer seven times his punishment."

"So he can't toil the ground any more," smirked Oriartes. "Big deal. Others can and they'll gladly provide him with all the sustenance he and his require. They better or they'll be punished. And not by Celestial God either. Cain controls Enoch's armies and Jared's navies. They're pirates, raiders, ravagers of land and sea alike. His great-grandson, Mehujael, has vimanas equipped for war and his Methusael has rockets that don't need men to pilot them."

"Magister Ra reminded me of that. My namesake and maternal grandfather's missiles could account for what happened to Droch."

"They could indeed. And a lot more than that if it really was them. But I doubt it was. I think it was an Act of God. Anything else, a meteor, even a lightning bolt, would have left a lot more evidence of itself behind than a big old hole full of next-to-nothingness."

"Try telling that to Pseth."

"Look, anti-patriarchs have the easy life. They don't have to hunt or fish for their living. Jubal-Cain, the son of Lamech-Cain, has ranches where he keeps cattle to supply them with all the meat they need. Tubal-Cain, another of Lamech's sons, albeit by a different mother, is a mighty artificer; his foundries churn out instruments of bronze and iron which, in addition to nearly unbreakable weapons, make tilling the fields a comparative breeze. And Jubal's brother, Jabal, invented harps and flutes for his travelling bards to use in order to seduce and incite good people everywhere into returning to the ways of Old Eden."

"I have heard these story-telling musicians of his," pointed out Tut. "I find them much more soothing and pleasant to listen to than you with your damn drums and God-awful caterwaul wailing. Ask me it's a wonderment you aren't more deaf than blind."

"Loud noises scare away evil spirits, father. Jabal's music attracts them. Attracts you too it seems. Understandably I suppose, the three anti-patriarchs I just mentioned are of your generation after all. Are your cousins, my uncles and aunts." Like Cain and the majority of his descendants, Droch Nor's Edenite wife was still alive and living in Enoch City. Lamia anticipated moving to Power Point Sumeria when Ptah died and wanted nothing to do with Lemuria, her husband's personal choice of protectorates.

Although they stuck close to home in the Sinai Peninsula and championed Old Eden's way of life, the anti-patriarchs paralleled the patriarchs in many respects. For example, Enoch-Cain was of Enolon Su, Enosh-Pseth's generation. As well as commanding Cain's rampaging armies, he ruled the metropolis that bore his name with an iron hand. Had written laws, -- something that was anathema to most patriarchs, who relied on an unwritten moral code assigned them by God the Singular --, judges and even enforcement officers. He called them police but, as far as even Tut was concerned, they were little more than state-sponsored brigands

"That was Ptah's idea. Or Trishtar's, -- I never figured out which one's, actually. In their dotage they thought it time to unite the two dynasties of Adam; that of Lilith and that of Eve. Of course they never admitted Cain's mother was a Chthonic Daimon. They just figured the poor, dull-witted creatures, -- regardless of whether, as they claim, they predated Eden or, as most say, they were simply the result of some Edenite wizard’s early, and more successful, experiments in terms of attaining near-immortality --, had been, pardon the pun, demonized enough already."

"Quite properly if you ask me," argued Ma. "They haven't the most wholesome way of reproducing themselves for one thing."

"Oh, I don't know. Snakes cast off their skin too."

"Yeah, but they don't eat it."

Demons fused like most creatures did but not so much sexually as bodily. Often a great many of them fused at once. Some of what they excreted became living beings in their own right. They fed on what was left of their parents, -- the ones that did not walk away --, inhuming their remains and acquiring aspects of their minds at the same time.

There was considerable debate about whether they had souls like most of the higher sentient orders did. One school of thought had it that they devoured sentient souls. Which was the main reason cognizant reincarnation never seemed to work. More practical men such as both Tut and his father, Jaro Dan, held that demons simply fed on decomposed biomass. Certainly their delicacies were fungous in nature, mushrooms, mould, mildew and such like, though they sometimes went for moss and lichen.

Those who cremated their dead did so to keep them away from demons. By contrast, those that either buried them or left them up in trees or in open-topped structures on hills did so to appease demons. Witches and warlocks, priests and priestesses, those who sacrificed animals, even infants, children, virgins or year kings, did so in the misguided belief that demons could somehow influence the course of Nature Itself. There was no evidence of that but it was true that demons could be bribed by a fresh kill; one properly pulped of course since they liked their bones powdered. Probably had a calcium deficiency.

They also made for very formidable fighters since they were sort of squishy and therefore could absorb a lot of punishment, had no vital organs as such and did not burn particularly well. The best way to dispatch them was to literally blow them apart or hack them into dozens of pieces, starting with the legs, assuming they had any. Not the easiest thing to do considering demons could use weapons as easily as anyone with arms, a modicum of intelligence, and opposable thumbs. Some even had tentacles, tails, and very impressive teeth to add to their arsenal.

All in all it was a good thing they were fairly passive creatures with a general level of intelligence not that much higher than that of a slug. Which they must have had a kinship with since their young, known affectionately as 'little turds', bore a distinct resemblance to snails without a shell or even a rudimentary carapace. Unfortunately, and this was the evil genius of Old Eden's genetic engineers, if it was them and not just Mother Earth, as the demons themselves claimed, female demons were bred to be compatible with human beings and indeed most other order of sentient lifeforms.

The logic was somewhat sound. In their quest for immortality, Edenites recognized three aspects of being. These were the body, the mind, and the soul. Thanks to Golden Apples, the main problem wasn’t long life; it was the decrepitude that went with it. Although the body could be preserved, albeit for only so long, especially in the very old the mind often went before it did. For that reason, the body was deemed the most expendable. The trick was to get a new one before the mind went its own way and was gone beyond reclamation.

Demons were born with their progenitors' memories. If there were too many of them, they could not assimilate and therefore sublimated all but the most primeval of them, -- the will and wherewithal to survive. However, if the demon was born of a single sentient, a human say, they would inherit his memories alone. Arguably, his memories amounted to his psyche, his mind, his intelligence. Presumably also they included his soul, his animus, since psyche literally meant soul. But only if they fed off their placental parent; their father in other words.

This was hardly satisfactory. Most men with their minds intact had no desire to be eaten by their aborning son even if it meant they would live on through him. And what if the child was a girl? It was almost too horrible to contemplate. As well, most women, make that virtually all women, did not wish to see only their men survive. There had to be a better way and the Edenites went looking for it. They never threw anything away, however, so the demons they either created or just experimented upon were taken to Lemuria and left to fend for themselves.

So, even without supping on Ptah-Adam, could Cain have been the son of Ptah and Lilith? Had he, over the decades, fed on Lilith until there was nothing left of her? Did that explain her long absence? Or was he as Trishtar Thrae claimed: was he her son? Right then, on Power Point Bimini, Amemp Tut could care less.

"Maybe not. But what should I do? Even if he didn't say it in so many words, there's no doubt Pseth wants me to kill Cain. How can I do that and hope to outlive the rest of the patriarchs? My maternal cousins, uncles, aunts, and their progenitors, the ones left, are hardly the forgiving kind."

"Seems obvious to me," observed Oriartes Ma, with the wisdom, the Ys-dom, and practicality of youth. "Do nothing. You're a mere kid of three hundred. The other five patriarchs will likely die before you anyhow. And so will Cain. Curse or no curse, that's the nature of things. The Lord said not to kill him. Not that he would never die."

"You're right. Time is on my side."

"Dead rights it is, dad. Pardon the pun. Besides, if I'm destined to die before you, why should I want to risk you being prematurely cursed. If I have to go, I've absolutely nothing against dying the day before forever ends."
========

Armageddon was not yet in their vocabulary but devils certainly knew all about defeat. They had been on, and driven off, countless worlds in their multiple millennia of existence. It was not as if the Male Entity always showed up to ruin their good, as in self-serving, works. In fact the inhabitants of virtually every planet or planetary system they touched down upon eventually found a way to get rid of them all by their lonesome.

Often, though by no means always, that method amounted to self-destruction. And as much as they could live off stellar energy, devils were as vulnerable to too much of it as anyone else. A surfeit of the stuff was akin to overeating one's favourite food. The devils, though, referred to it as other than stellar.

They called it Atomic Power.
========

Because of their supplementary Golden Apple diet, most of the extraterrestrials agreed, Golden Agers seemed immune to devic possession. So did the Angelics, though no one was quite sure why that was. Were they Celestials? Utopians? The devils found no answer to that either. What they did find, due primarily to investigations conducted by the future Trawl, aka the Taskmaster, was plenty of other sentient beings whom they could possess. A great many of them turned out to be human. And why was that? The quick, analytical, aesthetic mind of Great Byron soon formulated an explanation.

These humans were allergic to Golden Apples. Gave them gastric indigestion and the most painful stomach cramps. He could tell because they rarely lived beyond three score and ten Earth Years. There was another reason why they were so short-lived as well. Male or female they loved making love far too much. Not only that they insisted upon reproducing and even some of their own philosophers held that having children robbed humanity of its inbred immortality, -- leaving souls their only claim to perpetuity.

This God of theirs, be he a rebellious Celestial or the recurring Male Entity, Heliosophos Himself, had a nasty sense of humour. Pay the price of pleasure, he was saying, and pay the price of dying. Children were not just a matter of carrying on the family tradition. They guaranteed one's death. And what child could make his Mark of Cain on Life while hers or his parents, either one of them, still lived?

Thrygragos Byron was a bit of a philosopher himself, but he was also extremely practical and his domain included Power Point Bimini. Although Edenites and Angelics were denied him and his, Byron discovered that Amemp Tut, magnanimous sort that he was, entertained lavishly and often. He had nothing against short-lived humans either. Kept a number of them as servants and a few to warm his bed at night, -- Edenites were big on sex too. The Devil-God, through some of his daughters in particular, therefore found no difficulty infiltrating the young patriarch's stronghold. Consequently, he soon learned of both Pseth Ra's prophecy and Old Eden's discredited weaponry.

As he said at his domicile, near what’s now the Potomac River, to some of his favourites, Yati, Malar Tzigame, Sedona and Chimaera, to name four as the Illuminaries of Weir eventually named them: "If these weapons are what I think they are, perhaps my two brothers and the Earthlings will blow each other up." What he thought they were was atomic-powered.

Within a few years of the Sedonshem landing, the VAM Entity, Thrygragos Varuna Ahriman Mithras, had his spies within Power Point Bharata as well. He thus became aware of Magister Ra's hatred of his older brother, Anti-Patriarch Cain. As he said to some of his favourites, Vetala, Plathon, Baaloch and Marutia as they came to be called, one day at his home on the banks of the eventual Volga: "Although we cannot seem to harm these humans directly, with a little push they might do in themselves."

In the confined, mountainous region that would become the Sinai Peninsula, a group of nomads, three of whom were possessed of the Unities of Lazareme, Yajur, Abaddon and Harmonia, as Illuminaries of Weir would much later personalize Order, Chaos and Balance, came across Enoch City. It was an impressive site. Other than Corona City on Apple Island, earthquake, flood, and volcano-ravaged that it was, a few cyclopean structures in neighbouring Egypt, the sunken remains of Atlantis, and the great but abandoned cities now being covered by the unrelenting sands of the Sahara Desert, it was the only human settlement they had come across made of stone; made therefore to last in perpetuity. Or the next thing to it.

What immediately struck them were the three monumental pinnacles of stone that dominated the city. It was not that they reminded them of the Great Pyramids of Giza; these structures were veritable mini-mountains compared to them. Although from a distance they seemed man-made ziggurats, they bore a striking resemblance to the three peaks of Trans-Time Trigon, -- the Entities' Islet-sized territory that, thanks to Brainrock, accompanied the Male throughout time and space whenever he was killed.

But were the peaks artificial, Order wondered. Might they not be the real thing? Could they and this Enoch City nestled at their bases be either Trigon as it first was or Trigon come to this planet hundreds of years ago, along with Ptah's God? Chaos was all for investigating the place but Harmony advised caution. If the Recurring Male Entity was indeed still here chances were he could spot them in their shells. Worse, he might have prison pods that could rip out their devic spirit selves and imprison them forevermore.

Unless, and this was Order’s point, it was one of his very earliest lives, his first, second, or fourth perhaps. It was not until his fifth that Helios created Sedon and, in his third one, arguably without realizing what they were, he actually supported devils in their struggle against Old Weir's oppressive Mother Machine.

As Father Lazareme's exploratory force discovered after it came planet-side a century earlier, the Male Entity had definitely been on the Earth during one of his other incarnations. The Moloch Sedon believed he had been this Singular God who revealed himself to Alorus Ptah; may have been he who drove the Biblical Adam to leave Atlantean Archipelago before it was finally destroyed, -- presumably by him. Certainly, but for the blue skin, Heliosophos was bright-haired and controlled incredible technology via his Trigon’s artificial innards, the Mnemosyne Machine, the miraculous construct with an innate intelligence and a highly distinct, and distinctly female, personality that he had based on Weir's Mother Machine.

There was no doubt the wingless Giza Sphinx and its winged equivalent on an island in the southern regions of Grandfather Sedon’s archipelago was his doing. Helios left structures like them throughout the cosmos. As they well-recalled, Ptah himself had used the one in what would become Egypt to incarcerate a large number of those who joined Lazareme on his expedition to the planet while Sedon and the vast majority of their fellow, surviving devils rested on the Moon. Although thus far without success, since shortly after he returned to the planet, their father, the Libertine, had been spending much of his spare time trying to free those trapped inside the Giza Sphinx.

Because of their marked physical similarities, Lazareme had briefly entertained the notion Alorus Ptah was Heliosophos. It was only when Ptah died that the Great God felt confident enough to assure Sedon that Helios was gone. Without that assurance, the Moloch would never have brought the Sedonshem to Earth. But was he? Or, and given the look of the three mini-mounts this had to be asked again, was Heliosophos here in his original life?

Quite conceivably Grandfather Sedon was right in assuming Heliosophos had merely been Alorus Ptah's God. However, the Male Entity was the most confounding individual ever to exist. Being a time-tumbler, he could have arrived on the planet without realizing his first self was either already here or, if it was early enough, may be a few years shy of being born. The Memory Entity might have realized it. However, she always had her own agenda and could well have filtered out any awareness he retained of his original self before she let him come conscious again.

Whatever the case, the future Unities determined to investigate Enoch City firsthand. What they saw there sent them scurrying back to Giza and Thrygragos Lazareme.
========

"Run that by me again," said the sceptical Libertine.

"If that isn't King Kad of Trigon, it's his identical twin," obliged Eventual-Yajur. King Kad was the name Heliosophos went by on the Trigon of New Weir after he caused the first Weir Star to go supernova.

"And his three wives," posited Eventual-Harmonia, "Well, if our collective mothers, your shared wives, ever gained complete solidity they would have looked like them." It was not a supercilious statement. While the Trigregos Sisters never came fully solid, which was why they gave birth to spirit beings, the Memory Entity could become human by occupying them. Her physical presence was fairly unchanging and Cain's current wives could have passed for her siblings or daughters, albeit with different coloured hair.

Cain's first wife was Awan, a word which reputedly meant wickedness compared to his which meant smithy. Adam and Eve's daughter was born between Abel and Pseth, probably before the final destruction of Eden-Atlantis, and, in the first manifestation of Cain's curse, died giving birth to Enoch-Cain. Ptah and Trishtar's fifth child, whose name was Azura, remained alive and married to Pseth, her slightly older brother, in Power Point Bharata.

"Yet they don't have third eyes," considered Lazareme, as relieved as he was somewhat perplexed at the news. Although he knew of Cain, of the anti-patriarchs, and of Enoch City from the days of his expeditionary force, he had never come across Cain or equated him with Heliosophos.

"No, but one of them, the one with the all-black hair does go by the name of Mnemosyne," pointed out Eventual-Abaddon with a certain degree of delight.

"While the one with the white and black hair calls herself Eden," reported Eventual-Yajur in his matter-of-fact manner. "And the fat one, the one with the two tones of red in her hair, is Cybele. All three are Edenites but they're young ones, no more than two hundred is my guess, and may well be the daughters of one of the anti-patriarchs, though which one I couldn't say."

"This Mnemosyne looks like the Female Entity when she assumes human form?" puzzled Lazareme. The Unities nodded their heads as one. "And if she is the Memory Entity it suggests she'll be possessing one of us; one of the ones that are supposed to be stuck inside the Sphinx up there on the plateau. Which might account for the fact I can't detect any of the ones I lost in it."

"Grandfather Sedon will be pissed if it turns out Helios is poking his Silver Star," chortled Eventual-Abaddon.

"Of course," rationalized Eventual-Harmonia, "If Alorus Ptah was Heliosophos, as you thought, then it stands to reason Cain would look like him. He is Alorus's son after all."

"There is that," granted Lazareme, with a perhaps premature sigh of relief.

"And," noted Eventual-Yajur, "If Helios was just Ptah's God as our grandfather believes, well, these Edenites do claim to be made in his image and likeness."

"Superstitious claptrap that, Order," snorted the Libertine, who loved to put down his officious, simultaneous firstborn. "Let us look at the facts we do have. Cain may only look like an aged Heliosophos, King Kad of Second Weirworld's Trigon being the only one of those we've ever seen. Ditto his three young wives."

"Too bad they're Edenites," offered Eventual-Harmonia. "Otherwise we could get inside them and find out if they are possessed of your sister-wives."

"If they were, we couldn't get inside them anyhow," provided Eventual-Abaddon. "We devils might be able to fuse with each other, and our fathers, but not with sentient being who are already possessed. Or don't we know that yet?"

"Oh, do shut up," demanded the Great God, much to Eventual-Yajur's glee. "Or I'll order you inside your brother's shell and we’ll see what happens." Through their hosts the two male Unities glared at each other. Despite their personal animosity toward each other, what used to give Lazareme the severest of headaches when he kept them inside him, they chose to say nothing. Wisely, as it happened. Third generational Master Devas, which was what they were, were genetically incapable of disobeying their fathers and sometimes the Libertine liked to remind them of that. In the most embarrassing of ways.

“We have to take seriously the possibility that I overlooked the obvious, that Cain is indeed an incarnation of our greatest enemy; perhaps the very first one. If you think about it, it makes some sense."

"How so?" asked Eventual-Harmonia.

"Celestial God, call him Heliosophos if you wish, put a mark on Cain, the circled X. Forbad anyone to kill him. He is now the oldest man alive and, though you say he's well on in the aging process, he shows no signs of dying. Not if he can keep three young wives satisfied he isn't. If he is the original Helios and if he never dies, then we'd never come into existence. That we have indicates he did, but can we be certain of that? Given the confounding nature of the beast, I'd say it behoves us to hasten along his end."

"Just for arguments sake," interrupted Eventual-Abaddon, who had never been much on obedience, especially involuntary, no-choice-in-the-matter obedience, "Say there is a God the Singular and say he is the same as the Celestials' Almighty. Wouldn't we risk his wrath just as we did when we passed through that Celestial Sphere of theirs and lost so many of our companions, including one of Great Byron’s firstborn."

"Just for argument's sake, say that's the case then," allowed Lazareme, without a hint of annoyance. "I still say it would be judicial to employ a dash of preventative medicine. We don't have to kill him ourselves. Father Sedon is against that anyhow."

"Didn't stop him from dropping the Sedonshem on top of this patriarch fellow, Droch Nor," recalled Eventual-Yajur, somewhat cynically.

"True enough," concurred his father tolerantly. "However, it is he whom we must obey. What's good for the goose, us, is not necessarily good for the gander, him. Don't forget his overriding maxim: ‘The only good Helios is a dead Helios’."

"You're going to ask Sedon to kill Cain?" wondered Eventual-Harmonia.

"No, that would place him in an untenable position. He would not want to do what he has expressly forbidden us to do. The other thing that worries me almost as much as a potential Helios in our midst is these weapons of theirs. If they are atomics, we must see to it they are never used against us. Angelus," he said to the future Irisiel Mercherm, one of the others there. She was his female Heliodromus, his main messenger to the other Great Gods. "Contact Mithras. Tell him I have uncovered a hazardous situation but have a plan to sort it out."

"Why Mithras?" demanded Eventual-Yajur. "Surely we can handle anything that comes up ourselves."

"Ah, but if it fails, I'd rather his children take the fall than mine."

"Because they're Sedon's children," prodded Eventual-Harmonia. "And he would never punish his own."

"Oh, I'm sure he'd punish Mithras, my dear."
========

Although most of old Eden had sunk beneath the waters of the eventually-named Atlantic Ocean long before Thrygragos Lazareme led the devils’ initial expeditionary force to the planet, the Great God had made a study of its cultural complexities. He had observed and preserved in writing, for purposes of posterity as well as to save himself the bother of remembrance, many of Eden’s then still prevalent ‘remnant elements’, as he termed them.
========

These included such practises as mummification and ‘healing’ witchcraft, especially among the life-giving womenfolk; the presence of pyramidal structures on all of the planet’s main continents, widely separated as they were by vast distances by land and even vaster oceans; and, particularly amongst the 3-score-&-10 non-elite, such peculiar habits as head-flattening, tattooing and both hair and skin-dyeing.

Perhaps not so surprisingly the commonest colour the non-elites, those who couldn’t digest Eden’s Golden Apples, dyed their skin was blue. Since the commonest colour they dyed their hair was white, what wasn’t at all surprising was the non-elites developed an abiding respect for the wisdom of their elders. That they also ate a lot of apples, albeit of the non-golden variety, had a lot to do with that very same wisdom. ‘An apple a day keeps the witchdoctor away’ amounted to a mantra on both sides of the elite-divide.

Even the so-called Elites, the patriarchal ‘bluebloods’, as well as blue-skinned, and the just as long-lived many who could digest the Golden Apples, practised ‘couvade’. Ostensibly that referred to a father-to-be mimicking the actions of a mother-dot-ditto while she’s giving birth in order to take upon some of her pain. More likely, Lazareme suspected, it was because all too many women died giving birth and, if only to remain emotionally detached from the loss of their presumed beloved ones, the surviving fathers made light of their sacrifice by claiming women were just surrogates for them, the men.

The use of three-pointed stones, of which Enoch City's tri-peaks were an extreme example, was another commonality between the sunken-then and the surface-now. As for the tradition of cataclysm, that must have stemmed from their remembrances of old Eden’s last days. Went back even earlier than that actually, claimed one of Lazareme’s least favourites, the know-it-all he called ‘Librarian’ but whom would eventually become known as Biblio Drek. Went back some four thousand years earlier, Drek would drone. Went back to when much of the northern Whole Earth had been swamped by melt-water that marked the end of the planet’s last Ice Age.

The couvades and head-flattening were not particularly Atlantean. Men from primitive tribes throughout the Earth, even some of the non-human ones on Lemuria, mimicked giving birth as their women were doing just that. Head-flattening, which was no longer practised in Enoch City, was even more primitive; an elementary exercise designed to distinguish friends or chosen ones from tribal enemies. Witchcraft, however, was a science as much as a craft and preservative mummification was yet another way of keeping demons away from corpses, one that did not involve cremating the body.

Another virtual science was astrology. Edenites knew there were twelve signs in the zodiac, that each sign marked a passage of 2160 years, and considered that their Age was the tailwind of Gemini or the Celestial Twins, -- conceivably that of the Helios and Memory Entities. They had further divined that the coming Age would begin some three hundred years from Ptah's death and that it would be that of Taurus the Bull.

Divined was pretty good word, Lazareme also discovered. No doubt in anticipation of the coming Age, Edenites actually worshipped the Bull before Ptah's God the Singular showed up and straightened them out. Not that he demanded they worshipped him as such. In what sounded distinctly like the Male Entity, most patriarchs believed they, that is humanity collectively, were all the gods they needed. Cain though, as part of his propagation of the ways of Old Eden, actively encouraged the practise of bull-worship.

He even knew what the bull should look like, -- black in colour but having a square spot of white on the forehead, the likeness of an eagle on the back, with double hairs in the tail, and the mark of the scarab beetle on the tongue. The bull's generic name was Apis and Cain's own pet bull in Enoch City was called Serapis. Despite his manifest perfection, he, Serapis, was just a bull, though. What came to visit Cain towards the end of 664 PD, five years after Amemp Tut was officially crowned patriarch despite Pseth Ra's reservations with respect to having a miserable half-Cainite in charge of Mankind's affairs, was no mere bull.

The old, oft-reviled killer should have realized it immediately. Not only was it huge and anthropomorphic, it did not have a white square in the middle of its forehead.

It had a third eye.
========

While devils, unless they fused together like the Great Gods' favourite female companions often did, were essentially spirit beings, they did have their chosen forms. Some were quite grotesque. Eventual-Vakarol for example appeared as a Kraken, a gigantic octopus. Her breed sister, Eventual-Pyconja, was a flying fish with wings for pectoral fins. Their other sister in Byron from the same litter was Eventual-Malorca, a huge grey whale, -- whales also being her favourite shells. Tau Hanuman was a monkey, Eventual-Ganesha had an elephantine head, and Eventual-Chimaera changed his shape on an hourly, sometimes minutely basis.

That they too were Byronics would not have disappointed any observers privileged, if that was the right word, enough to see devils as they were. That Great God was a freak himself, a massive head on a dinky body. He was such a balloon-brain that he floated above the ground and propelled himself by farting.

Although they were nowhere near as freakish themselves, the two other Great Gods had their share of monstrosities. Lazareme had Daybreak, Starlight and Midnight, respectively, in time, Mariamne Dawnstar, Rapith Nauroz, and Zenit Suryad. The first was moon-faced, the second star-faced, and the third shone like the sun only in the negative. Which, for reasons obvious, was why he came to be nicknamed Blacksun.

Byron's Eventual-Yati was a dragon. So was Mithras's Eventual-Mildoth while his Eventual-Trawl and Eventual-Marutia were both Cyclopes, two of the few devils with only one eye, their devic one. By contrast, Byron's own Aphropsyche Morningstar, or APM as she would become known, a veritable Venus like Lazareme's Eventual-Mariamne and Mithras's Eventual-Belialma, was seemingly all eyes.

And not for nothing was Eventual-Plathon, Kind or Cruel dependent on one's point of view, called the Bull of Mithras. It was he, possessing Serapis, who could go anywhere in Enoch City he/it damn well pleased, that manifested himself in Cain's bed chamber.

Taking care not to wake Eden, Mnemosyne or Cybele, all of whom were sleeping beside the aged anti-patriarch, Eventual-Plathon archly proclaimed: "Hear me, murderer. For I am the Lord Thy God!"

While it was true that Cain had become a hollow-eyed old man, a walking corpse, a mere shadow of his formerly six foot six and truly majestic self, his two, coal-dead eyeballs very nearly burst out of their sockets the moment he beheld the Bull of Mithras. But for the fact Eventual-Plathon was standing on his hind legs and had a third eye instead of a white square in his forehead, in almost every way this was his prized Serapis.

"Old man, I pity thee. And, though I have forbidden any other to take thy life, I have not denied myself that right. I shall grant thee one boon before I take thee unto me. Name it. What is it Ye wish most?"

"Lord, to see the Tree of Life one last time."

Although he had been a mere babe in arms when he and his parents fled Eden in the days before it finally sank beneath the waves, Cain ever-longed to return to the place of his birth. That was impossible of course, or would have been impossible for anyone but an omnipotent God, but he knew one part of it still stood in Power Point Sumeria, -- the presumably carefully-transplanted Tree of Knowledge, of Long Life Itself.

Thanks mostly to Alorus Ptah, Trishtar Thrae, Pseth Ra, wife Azura, and their immediate families, the original source of the Golden Apples of Near-Immortality now grew throughout the world. However, to quote the much later Outer Earth Bible, God ‘... placed mighty angels at the Gates of Eden, with flaming spears to guard the entrance to the Tree of Life.’ This God may or may not have been Ptah's God and the angels were certainly Angelics, products of Old Eden's disgraced science, but that did not make them, or their weaponry, any less real.

Even though it was going on nine hundred years since Alorus fled Eden, they, rather their offspring's offspring, were still there, still had what amounted to laser lances, and would use them against any and all transgressors. Cain expected that once Amemp Tut assumed the patriarchy he would let him revisit the Tree. It was a forlorn hope, however. Magister Ra was still the power behind Tut's throne and he would never forgive the Anti-Patriarch for murdering Abel. Also, so long as the huge shadow of Jaro Dan still loomed over the eighth patriarch, his half-Cainite linear descendant was not about to grant him any favours.

"Tis a difficult request," considered Plathon. And it was, but it had also been anticipated. "Angelics are renowned for their adherence to dharma, to duty. Still they may let you pass. But you must heed my instructions precisely." The false god's directions were extremely specific. "You must craft an idol in my likeness so the Angelics realize you have spoken with me. But the idol must have a heart and I will send you people to help you build that heart." And so he did. But they were possessed of Lazareme Spawn.

Thus did the Great Gods and the Moloch Sedon learn the secrets of Old Eden's technology. The more they learned, the more determined they became that, even if Cain was not Heliosophos, both his line and Pseth's had to be extirpated before they used those weapons to destroy the entire world. It was not the first time devils assumed the role of planetary saviours.

They prayed that, not quite just for once, they would be successful.
========

Sixty-five years after the death of Alorus Ptah, eight after Droch Nor's, in what was therefore 4661 BC, the Golden Calf, the idol Plathon/Serapis had Cain construct, was finally complete. Perhaps realizing what its heart contained, the anti-patriarch, in his eight hundred and eighty-fifth year, applied one last time for permission to see the Tree of Knowledge. Yet again Amemp Tut, no doubt appreciating how old, how desperate, Cain was becoming, turned him down flat.

He finally forced the issue. For the first time in many ordinary human, as opposed to extraordinary Edenite, generations he and his three wives left Enoch City. Stealing a page from Droch Nor's non-violent advocacy, he marched towards Sumeria amassing thousands of followers as he did so. Significantly but hardly unexpectedly given who he was, he did not bring Enoch-Cain nor any of his direct descendants with him. They were massing too, -- Enoch's armies, Jared's navies and Mehujael's air force. With all of them nearby, Methusael's pilot less drones overhead, Lamech-Cain firmly in charge of Enoch City, and carrying the Golden Calf, the anti-patriarch strode up the hill towards the Gates of Eden.

No devils were around, not even in possession of any short-lived humans, whom Cain disdained in any case. Nor did any of the former patriarchs challenge him. It was left to the Angelics to either do their duty or fall down upon their knees in adulation at the sight of the Golden Calf. ‘Let God's Will be done’ must have figured Amemp Tut and his forefathers. And God's Will may or may not have been done six hundred and sixty-one years before Xuthros Hor caused the Deluge, -- sixty-one years before Tut's grandson was even born.

The Angelics took to the air, solar-powered laser lances firing, and sought to disperse the Cainites. Turned out their God was Ptah's God the Singular and not the Eden-Atlantean Taurus. In what amounted to disbelief, Cain raised the Golden Idol in case they did not see that letting him pass was God's Will. He may have been shot; may have triggered the device himself. Maybe a bolt did it for him. Whatever the case, that was it for the first son of the Biblical Adam, his wives, thousands of his followers, the drones, armies, navies, and air force, and his linear descendants who were simply too close to the blast's epicentre to get away.

In short order that was also evidently it for Enoch City. No one, not the devils nor the latter day Illuminaries of Weir, who put together the saga of Anti-Patriarch Cain from speaking with devils that gave interviews as well as a variety of other, at times divergent sources, was quite sure what became of it. Could be Jaro Dan, coming out of the far north with his own drones, armies, navies and air force, obliterated it. Could be, if Enoch City truly was Trans-Time Trigon, it simply followed Heliosophos into the time stream, be it for the first or the umpteenth time. Whatever the truth of the matter, to this day its ruins have never been located. So much for the permanence of stone.

Unfortunately, that was also it for most of Power Point Sumeria, -- wherever it was --, and all of the Tree of Knowledge. Not to worry though, there were plenty of its offshoots planted throughout the globe. Edenites were in no danger of shortening their already long lives just because the first one was gone. In fact, there was always the suspicion it had been replaced.

Tut was as crafty as he was lazy and what could be transplanted once could be transplanted twice, couldn't it?
========

Almost exactly sixty-six hundred years later, -- six thousand, five hundred and ninety-nine to be precise --, probably only one participant in the events of January 30, 1938 at Castle Nightmare, realized from where a certain thick, rune-carved tree branch came. That person did not necessarily have the Mark of Cain emblazoned on either his forehead or his chest. Did not necessarily have blue skin, tanned, dyed or otherwise, a great grey beard, or exceptionally long, going white hair. Did not even, necessarily, recall what had happened to him in his first lifetime. In fact, that person was not necessarily Cain, Slayer of Abel.

He was, however, the Heliosophos Entity!

********

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Phantacea Publications in Print

- The 'Launch 1980' story cycle - 'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Fantasy Trilogy - The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels - The phantacea Graphic Novels -

The 'Launch 1980' Story Cycle

The War of the Apocalyptics

Front cover of War Pox, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2009

Published in 2009; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Nuclear Dragons

Nuclear Dragons front cover, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2013

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Helios on the Moon

Front cover for Helios on the Moon, artwork by Ricardo Sandoval, 2014

Published in 2014; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

The 'Launch 1980' story cycle comprises three complete, multi-character mosaic novels, "The War of the Apocalyptics", "Nuclear Dragons" and "Helios on the Moon", as well as parts of two others, "Janna Fangfingers" and "Goddess Gambit". Together they represent creator/writer Jim McPherson's long running, but now concluded, project to novelize the Phantacea comic book series.

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'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Epic Fantasy

Feeling Theocidal

Front Cover for Feel Theo, artwork by Verne Andru, 2008

Published in 2008; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The 1000 Days of Disbelief

Front cover of The Thousand Days of Disbelief, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published as three mini-novels, 2010/11; main webpage is here; ordering lynx for individual mini-novels are here

Goddess Gambit

Front cover for Goddess Gambit by Verne Andru, 2012

Published in 2012; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Circa the Year of Dome 2000, Anvil the Artificer, a then otherwise unnamed, highborn Lazaremist later called Tvasitar Smithmonger, dedicated the first three devic talismans, or power foci, that he forged out of molten Brainrock to the Trigregos Sisters.

The long lost, possibly even dead, simultaneous mothers of devakind hated their offspring for abandoning them on the far-off planetary Utopia of New Weir. Not surprisingly, their fearsome talismans could be used to kill Master Devas (devils).

For most of twenty-five hundred years, they belonged to the recurring deviant, Chrysaor Attis, time after time proven a devaslayer. On Thrygragon, Mithramas Day 4376 YD, he turned them over to his Great God of a half-father, Thrygragos Varuna Mithras, to use against his two brothers, Unmoving Byron and Little Star Lazareme, in hopes of usurping their adherents and claiming them as his own.

Hundreds of years later, these selfsame thrice-cursed Godly Glories helped turn the devil-worshippers of Sedon's Head against their seemingly immortal, if not necessarily undying gods. Now, five hundred years after the 1000 Days of Disbelief, they've been relocated.

The highest born, surviving devic goddesses want them for themselves; want to thereby become incarnations of the Trigregos Sisters on the Hidden Continent. An Outer Earthling, one who has literally fallen out of the sky after the launching of the Cosmic Express, gets to them first ...

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The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels

The Death's Head Hellion

- Sedonplay -

Front cover for The Death's Head Hellion, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Contagion Collectors

- Sedon Plague -

Front cover for Contagion Collectors, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Janna Fangfingers

- Sedon Purge -

Front cover for Janna Fangfingers, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2011

Published in 2011; two storylines recounted side-by-side, the titular one narrated by the Legendarian in 5980, the other indirectly leading into the 'Launch 1980' story cycle; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

In the Year of the Dome 4825, Morgan Abyss, the Melusine Master of the Utopian Weirdom of Cabalarkon, seizes control of Primeval Lilith, the ageless, seemingly unkillable Demon Queen of the Night. The eldritch earthborn is the real half-mother of the invariably mortal Sed-sons but, once she has hold of her, aka Lethal Lily, Master Morgan proceeds to trap the Moloch Sedon Himself.

In the midst of the bitter, century-long expansion of the Lathakran Empire, the Hidden Headworld's three tribes of devil-gods are forced to unite in an effort to release their All-Father. Unfortunately for them, they're initially unaware Master Morg, the Death's Head Hellion herself, has also got hold of the Trigregos Talismans, devic power foci that can actually kill devils, and Sedon's thought-father Cabalarkon, the Undying Utopian she'll happily slay if they dare attack her Weirdom.

Utopians from Weir have never given up seeking to wipe devils off not just the face of the Inner Earth, but off the planet itself. Their techno and biomages, under the direction of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon's extremely long-lived High Illuminary, Quoits Tethys, have determined there is only one sure way to do that -- namely, to infect the devils' Inner Earth worshippers with fatal plagues brought in from the Outer Earth.

Come All-Death Day there are more Dead Things Walking than Living Beings Talking. Believe it or not, that's the good news.

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phantacea Graphic Novels

Forever and Forty Days

- The Genesis of Phantacea -

Front cover of Forever and Forty Days; artwork by Ian Fry and Ian Bateson, ca 1990

Published in 1990; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The Damnation Brigade

- Phantacea Revisited 1 -

Front cover of The Damnation Brigade, artwork by Ian Bateson, retouching by Chris Chuckry 2012

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Cataclysm Catalyst

- Phantacea Revisited 2 -

Front cover for Cataclysm Catalyst, artwork by Verne Andru, 2013

Published in 2014, main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Kadmon Heliopolis had one life. It ended in October 1968. The Male Entity has had many lives. In his fifth, he and his female counterpart, often known as Miracle Memory, engendered more so than created the Moloch Sedon. They believe him to be the Devil Incarnate. They've been attempting to kill him ever since. Too bad it's invariably he, Heliosophos (Helios called Sophos the Wise), who gets killed instead.

On the then still Whole Earth circa the Year 4000 BCE, one of their descendants, Xuthros Hor, the tenth patriarch of Golden Age Humanity, puts into action a thought-foolproof, albeit mass murderous, plan to succeed where the Dual Entities have always failed. He unleashes the Genesea. The Devil takes a bath.

Fifty-nine hundred and eighty years later, New Century Enterprises launches the Cosmic Express from Centauri Island. It never reaches Outer Space; not all of it anyhow. As a stunning consequence of its apparent destruction, ten extraordinary supranormals are reunited, bodies, souls and minds, after a quarter century in what they've come to consider Limbo. They name themselves the Damnation Brigade. And so it appears they are -- if perhaps not so much damned as doomed.

At least one person survives the launching of the Cosmic Express. He literally falls out of the sky -- on the Hidden Continent of Sedon's Head. An old lady saves him. Except this old lady lives in a golden pagoda, rides vultures and has a third eye. She also doesn't stay old long. He becomes her willing soldier, acquires the three Sacred Objects and goes on a rampage, against his own people, those that live.

Meanwhile, Centauri Island, the launch site of the Cosmic Express, comes under attack from Hell's Horsemen. Only it's not horses they ride. It's Atomic Firedrakes!

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Webpage last updated: Winter 2014/15

There may be no cure for aphantasia (defined as 'having a blind or absent mind's eye') but there certainly is for aphantacea ('a'='without', like the 'an' in 'anheroic')

Ordering Information for PHANTACEA Mythos comic books, graphic novels, standalone novels, mini-novels and e-booksSun-moon-kissing logo first seen on back cover of Helios on the Moon, 2015; photo by Jim McPherson, 2014

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