Belial's Legacy [Chapter 8]
By M. Greene published April 9, 2018
Didham Priory, Kent, England: November 1206.
The recently created angel Barachiel had been enjoying a very happy three months looking up some of his scholarly friends in England, the Holy Roman Empire, France and a few of the little Italian states. He had even visited Rome and had been honoured to gain a private audience with His Holiness Pope Innocent III. It was glorious indeed to be able to fly from one place to another, so very much quicker and completely safe from the usual dangers associated with travel. As Father Berthold, he had been old and almost totally blind; now he could see better than he had ever done as a human and, as an immortal, he was totally immune to disease or the debilitating effects of age.
Archangel Rafael had taught Barachiel how to don a flesh envelope, essential for all spiritual beings to remain here on the material plane for any length of time. Not only that, his mentor had shown him how, with a little effort and concentration, it was possible to modify the appearance of this outer shell in order to fit the circumstances required at particular moments. To his old colleagues and correspondents in the various monasteries and universities he had been visiting since the summer, Barachiel adopted a guise similar to his previous human form. A little less ancient, perhaps, and certainly not afflicted with blindness, but very close to that of the former Father Berthold. After all, he had actually met a few of his old friends in the flesh, years before, and it was wise not to arouse too much suspicion…
Today, however, returning to Didham Priory to see how much further it had fallen into depravity since the previous August, Barachiel allowed his flesh envelope to temporarily melt away and floated, invisibly, as a tiny mote of light hovering just outside the monastery walls. He actually had no idea how vulnerable he might be to a concerted attack by his depraved former brethren, but he was not going to take any chances…
As he drifted through the air towards the main entrance to the priory, he saw a rider dismount and walk up to the huge wooden gates. The man was in his forties, well-built and dressed like a noble, with a two-handed great-sword strapped to his back, the steel blade of which glinted in the sunlight. Flying closer, Barachiel recognised him as Sir Laurent de Mandeville. He watched as the knight pushed against the barrier preventing him from entering the main courtyard of the monastery. The gates appeared to be barred from the other side. He heard Sir Laurent utter a particularly blasphemous oath and then shout for one of the brothers to come and let him in. There was no reply; no one appeared to be on gate duty. Had he presently possessed a head, Barachiel would have shaken it in despair. Here was yet another flagrant breach of St Benedict’s Rule; travellers were never to be stopped from seeking hospitality or sanctuary within a community…
In his current insubstantial form, high stone walls were not a problem for Barachiel. Floating over the top, he found the courtyard completely deserted. Clothing himself with his usual flesh envelope, complete with a monk’s habit and sandals, he quickly walked over and unbarred the heavy wooden gates.
“About time!” the knight said, his face quite red with anger. “Father Berthold, isn’t it?”
“Look here; I know my son Gervais is skulking in this place and I wish to see him immediately!”
Barachiel respectfully bowed his head. “Of course, Sir Laurent… Please accompany me to the Prior’s study…”
They crossed the cloisters together, Barachiel feeling more confident now that he had a strong, fully armed knight by his side. However, the Prior’s study proved to be empty and, on their way to it, they had not heard or seen a sign of any of the monks. The monastery appeared to be deserted…
“Perhaps they are all praying together in the church,” Barachiel suggested, glancing out of the window to observe the position of the sun. “It is almost midday, so it will soon be time for Sext…”
“Do you not even know what your own brothers are doing, Father?”
Barachiel shook his head. “I have only just returned here myself this morning from a long pilgrimage…”
Sir Laurent frowned. “Very well; let us go and see if, as you say, they are in the church…”
Although Barachiel had known very well that the monastery had fallen into a trough of evil and corruption, nothing could have prepared him for the sight he and Sir Laurent saw when they pushed open the heavy oak church doors. Barachiel hardly recognised the place in which he had worshipped daily for over half a century. The stone walls were draped with long, red curtains that looked as if they were made from silk. Rows of flaming braziers burned in front of these, throwing off so much heat that they very air in front of them seemed to ripple. Several gaudily painted sculptures were arranged around the sides of the room, all life-size representations of men engaged in sexual intercourse in every imaginable position. Even worse than this, the high altar was now occupied by a monstrous carved idol in the form of a massive black cross-legged goat. On padded leather mattresses arranged at the foot of this abomination the thirty of so monks who had once been his beloved brothers writhed naked together in an orgy of wanton homosexual lust and abandon.
Sir Laurent’s face turned deathly pale and he repeatedly crossed himself as he watched his only son and heir joyfully licking the posterior of what could only be described as a demon from Hell. The thing was horned and crimson-skinned with enormous black leathery wings and a muscular, thrashing tail. Sir Laurent swallowed hard as he saw the hideous creature grin broadly, revealing impossibly sharp teeth, as it begin to urinate over the copulating monks beneath it. Instead of moving out of the way, the depraved wretches appeared to welcome this shower of filth, even opening their mouths wide in a desperate attempt to drink the demon’s stinking piss…
The angel and the knight backed slowly out of the accursed church and shut the double doors behind them as quietly as possible.
“I do not think they noticed us,” Barachiel observed softly, his voice shaking with the shock of what they had both just witnessed.
“No, they were too engrossed in their perverted lust,” Sir Laurent replied in agreement. “This is so serious a matter that it needs to be brought to the attention of the King, the Archbishop and the Knights Templar,” he added, grimly. “You must accompany me to the castle, Father Berthold. There is no way that you can remain a single moment longer in this unholy and satanic place…”
Provence, France: November 1206.
“So what are you saying, exactly?” I ask, washing down the last of my croissant with a slug of red wine.
Rafael smiles. “Merely that you review the side you chose to support in the Great Rebellion…”
I shake my head. “I can’t do that,” I say. “We demons did what we did for very good reasons…”
“Oh yes, I remember,” Rafe says, an ironic tone creeping into his voice. “Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, or words to that effect…” He takes hold of both my hands and stares at me through those beautiful bright blue eyes he’s currently wearing. “…Except you’re not ruling, are you Bel? Let’s face the facts; you’re Lucifer’s total slave…”
Despite the fact that I’m very fond of Rafe, a spasm of anger flows through me at these words. I break away from his grasp and start pacing round the tiny cottage. The peasant boy, Sebastian, realising that we may be about to start having a serious argument, sensibly snatches up our empty plates and heads off out to wash them in the nearby stream.
“And I suppose you’re going to tell me that you aren’t a total slave to the Almighty?” I say.
Rafe nods. “Yes, as a matter of fact…” He lifts the cup to his deliciously plump, pink lips and takes another sip of wine. “He doesn’t really concern Himself with this particular plane any longer…” He shrugs. “He’s far too busy creating other worlds in other universes to worry about this miserable little dimension… Things have been that way for quite a while now… He’s left Gabriel, Michael and I pretty much in complete charge of all His Earthly affairs…”
My head starts to ache. It’s a little early in the day to take in such raw Deism; not to mention the fact that the idea has arrived about five hundred years too soon. I mean, honestly; this is supposed to be the medieval period, not the fucking Enlightenment…
“If you think I’m going to join forces with Gabby and Mikey, you must be out of your mind,” I splutter. “Those two stuck-up prigs sicken me with their hypocrisy and cant…”
“Oh I quite agree,” Rafe replies, grabbing hold of my arms to stop me pacing around. “I’m not suggesting that you join their team…” He stares right into my face again. I try to avert my gaze, but find I can’t, which is extremely disconcerting…
“What exactly are you suggesting, then?”
“I’m asking you to join me, Bel, not them…”
“Join you? What do you mean?”
Rafe leans in and kisses me on the mouth. This feels very good indeed…
“While this stupid unending war between angels and demons continues, century after interminable century, the humans on this planet, who should, after all, be our main focus, continue to suffer and die in the most terrible ways imaginable…”
“Yeah…” I find myself returning his kiss.
“It isn’t right, Bel…”
We kiss again, with tongues this time, and it’s quite a few moments before we can resume our conversation…
“Join with me,” Rafe gasps when our lips finally separate. “Seize your independence. Give up your allegiance to Lucifer and help me to help humanity…”
“I won’t side with the gruesome twosome…”
Rafe laughs and shakes his head. “I’m not asking you to, dumbass. I’m suggesting that we adopt a completely neutral stance and devote our entire existence to assisting men and women all over this planet.” His face becomes serious once more. “They need to stop wasting their time with these petty religious squabbles and start caring for themselves in the here and now…” He smiles his gorgeous smile. “We can help them with that…”
I look into his gorgeous blue eyes again. “I’m not sure I can ever give up gay sex…”
Rafe smiles and rubs his nose against mine. I can feel one of his hands gently squeezing my groin. “Does it really look as though I’m asking you to?”
I shake my head. Now I’m smiling too. Then we’re passionately kissing once again and moving slowly together over towards Rafael’s bed to do a whole lot more interesting things with each other…
Near Dover, Kent, England: December 1206.
Damael and Aventis flew together over the white cliffs and, as soon as they were in the middle of the English Channel, let go of the heavy statue they were carrying between them. They watched as the brightly-coloured representation of two men engaged in anal intercourse fell down through the air and splashed into the sea below.
“Well, that’s the last of them,” Aventis said. “We had better return to the Priory…”
Damael was still staring down at the spot in the water where the statue had landed. “I liked those carvings,” he said sadly. “Why does Master want to get rid of them?”
Aventis shook his head. “Fuck knows; he’s been so different the last couple of weeks…”
Damael sighed, momentarily lost for words. It was certainly true that Belial had changed since his recent trip to France. Although the sex orgies continued every day as usual, they now took place in the demon dimension once more and the church had been completely cleared of every last vestige of Satanism. The red drapes, leather mats and flaming braziers had all gone. Belial himself had smashed the black statue of Lucifer to pieces with a sledgehammer and told them that he had dropped the sack of fragments somewhere far out in the North Sea…
“Ours is not to reason why, but to obey, I guess,” Damael said, at last.
“Indeed, my brother… Come on; let us return and discover what else Master wishes us to do…”
Flapping their leathery wings, the two demons flew disconsolately back home.
Didham Priory, Kent, England: December 1206.
The study door suddenly burst open so violently that it hit the wall behind it with a loud bang. Belial looked up from the Priory account books that he had been studying and sighed. Oh no… Anything but this…
Arch-demoness Lilith strode into the room and pounded his desk with one of her meaty fists. “Have you gone completely crazy? Do you imagine for one minute that His Awesomeness doesn’t know exactly what you are doing?”
Adhelm appeared in the doorway, his face ashen. Although he was fully dressed in his habit and sandals, he was shivering. “Master – I’m so sorry – I told her that you were not to be disturbed, but she just barged past me!”
Belial forced his features into a benign smile. “Do not worry about it, Adhelm. The Abbess and I have a few important matters to discuss. Please be so kind as to fetch some refreshments for us from the kitchens.” He turned to Lilith. “A little wine, perhaps, Mother Lilian?”
“A pint of warm ale, if you’ve got it,” she grudgingly replied in her deep, hoarse voice. “It’s snowing like a bastard outside, or hadn’t you noticed?”
Adhelm withdrew, closing the door behind him.
Lilith grabbed a chair and sat down on the opposite side of Belial’s desk. She pulled a cheroot from the leather pouch slung around her waist and fumbled for her lighter. This turned out to be bright pink and made of plastic. Belial shook his head. It really was too bad; the idiot was a walking anachronism with absolutely no respect for the time continuum…
“Lucifer’s seriously pissed with you,” Lilith announced at last, breathing out a lungful of foul-smelling smoke. “By abandoning worship of Him, you’re putting our whole Kent operation in great jeopardy…”
Belial waved the disgusting vapour away from his face. “The brothers and I have far more serious business to attend to than to waste our time grovelling before Lucifer…”
Lilith grinned sarcastically. It was not a pleasant sight. “Oh yes, we’ve heard all about your so-called ‘business’ activities,” she snarled. “Giving alms to the poor, setting up a hospital near the village…”
“Indeed…” Belial indicated the account books littering the desk in front of him. “I’m always in search of funds for our charity work, should you wish to make a personal contribution…” He looked the demoness in the face and smiled. “Unless, of course, you’re going to tell me that you don’t have two pussies to rub together…”
Lilith clenched her fists and rolled her eyes. “In Satan’s Name, Belial, what the fuck is the matter with you?”
“I have simply come to the conclusion that, rather than of tugging humanity towards our respective sides like vultures or hyenas quarrelling over carrion, we should, instead, assist them in this life…”
The door burst open again, making both Belial and Lilith jump. This time it was Aventis in his human form. He sounded slightly breathless and looked seriously scared. “Master! You need to come quickly! The Priory is completely surrounded by soldiers!”