Chapter 6: The Coming Storm
The wind outside of Charles’ flat was now whipping willow tree branches against the diamond panes, and a slight hint of thunder rumbled in the distance. Gabriel looked with sympathy at Charles face, on which were playing out myriad emotions: amazement, perplexity, fear, anger, exasperation. They all passed, one by one, but no words were spoken. Finally, Charles leaned forward, rubbing his eyes. He pushed back his hair and looked up at the older man.
“OK,” he said at last, “so, what now? Let’s say I accept what you’re telling me, and all of the things you’ve been telling me all evening. Where does this leave us; and me in particular? What am I supposed to do?”
Gabriel smiled. He had expected this reaction, of course, since he had seen these moments run over and over in his mind. The visions at Mekdes had been deeply impressed into his memory. Yet the emotional impact of the events playing out in reality was greater than he had anticipated. Tears welled up in his eyes.
“Charles, Yeshi assured me that you would be a most remarkable person, but I did not realize just how much so until now. Here I am, telling you things that no reasonable man should be willing to accept, and yet you do so, and then some.
“You ask what you are supposed to do? Certainly nothing on your own! This is but a single melody in a much larger symphony, and it is one I have known about, however incompletely, for many decades. You must act on what I have been telling you, but helping you to reach understanding and obtaining your assent was and is paramount. For, believe me, there are many forces at work that would discourage any action on your part, and they are at work even now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I shall show you. Stand up and go over to the picture window. Take a look outside, as if you were watching the storm roll in. Then let your eyes drift downward toward the street and tell me what you see. Try not to make it obvious that you’re looking down.”
Charles rose from the fireside did as Gabriel bid him. “I see two, no, three men across the street. They appear to be watching my building.”
“That is precisely what they are doing. In fact, they are waiting for you to turn out your lights.”
“So that they can more easily make their way up the stairs to your flat and break in.”
“Why would they want to do that?!”
“Cast your mind back to what I was saying earlier about my travels through Ethiopia to find Yeshi. Do you recollect the men with the lions? The ones who sought to capture Amsale?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Do you remember that I mentioned that each of them had a tattoo on his forehead, a glyph?”
“Yes. I think you said it meant ‘darkness’.”
“Not quite. The glyph was for the word ‘Amenta’. It is Egyptian, and it references the underworld, or the ‘Land of the Dead’. In the context of the mari’s men, it was a sign of allegiance to the forces of evil. Those who bear that glyph are the opposite, in a way, of the members of the MEB. Instead of seeking to sustain the world through the dark ages, they are the very heralds and agents of that darkness.
“Throughout my time of ‘seeing’ with Yeshi, and threading its way through all of the visions that we shared, was the image of Amenta, and the growing evil that it represented. Over the long decades, we traveled a thick thread of light, but ever the darkness followed close behind. That pall has waxed over the years; never more so than in these recent days. And behind that darkness are those who either consciously have chosen it, or who have capitulated to it by default.”
“But how can you say that? Surely the 20th century, rather than our own, was filled with greater horror and evil?” asked Charles. “As bad as things are now, do we really have anything like a Hitler or a Stalin rising to power?”
“We actually have worse, Charles. Hitler and Stalin were actively resisted, but today the seeds of darkness are not resisted, they are welcomed! The average citizen of any so-called free country today is enslaved by his desire for luxury, for comfort, for diversion. Horrors happen on every street corner, but no one notices because they aren’t acknowledged by the authorities, or, if citizens do recognize them and protest, they themselves are often slandered, threatened, or worse. Orwell was right; when you control the language and the media, you control the masses.
“This is how Rome fell, Charles. It is how all the great civilizations have eventually fallen: through decadent neglect of virtue, of truth, of freedom, of human dignity. Once the forces of Amenta have entire civilizations locked into their support of spectacle and of corruption, the end cannot be far behind. Bread and circuses, Charles, bread and circuses! And make no mistake; that is where we are today, whether we look to Europe, to America, or anywhere else. We are not too far removed from the situation that J.R.R. Tolkien described in his book, The Lord of the Rings. Smoke does, indeed, rise from the Mountain of Doom, and the hour grows late. But, we will not ride to Isengard to seek counsel; we will ride, instead, to Mekdes.”
“Yes, and as quickly as we are able. In Mekdes we may house many, as I’ve said, and we may be able to counter the coming darkness, or at least to await the end if that time is truly at hand.”
“But, don’t you know? You’ve said that you foresaw much of what is happening now.”
“I did indeed, but the visions are not guarantees; they are only probabilities. I foresaw what is coming, and it will be horrible indeed, but I could not see past that calamity. For, I am not even a prophet, and even Yeshi herself could see only so far. But you may be able to see more, once you’ve tasted of the Waters.
“First, however, we must escape our current circumstances.”
“Yes, and just how are we to do that?” asked Charles. “You’ve said that these men are here to break in once my lights are turned out?”
“Yes, that is their plan. My own steps have been dogged since those earliest days in Mekdes, and I believe that all of my actions have been watched over the years, and never more painstakingly than now. The enemy has spiritual aid, as do we, and the spirits of the underworld have certainly come to know that you are important and must be…neutralized. I believe that these men intend to break in tonight and capture you or kill you; either would likely be acceptable to the enemy.”
“Then what are we to do?! Surely we cannot leave the flat without their seeing us!”
“No, but we can do better than that, Charles.” Gabriel smiled. “We can simply disappear….”
. . .
April 23rd: The Feast of St. George
On this feast day of our patron saint, I wish to recount the events that led to our coming at last into the holy valley of Mekdes, in the mountains of what is now called Eritrea. It is five full years since Gabriel and I set out from England to escape the men sent to kill me, and nearly four years since we passed the great Iron Gate that leads into the valley. I fear that not many additional souls shall come to swell our ranks while the evil times last, and that the final resolution of these days still remains very much in doubt.
Gabriel was as good as his promise. We escaped from my flat in Oxford with the aid of the invisibility powder that he kept with him at all times. The Enemy’s men did indeed break in as soon as the lights in my flat were doused, but we stood near the window quietly watching them as they ransacked my studio. I had gathered several of the paintings that I knew were important, including my portraits of Sogna and of Gabriel; these, too, we kept hidden from the assassins. I brought all of them with us to Mekdes, but the number of my works has increased greatly since that time; the waters from the Well of the Wise have allowed me to see many things yet to come, and these I have duly recorded in pigment.
Our journey out of England was beset with difficulties, and snags and delays abounded as we traveled across Europe and the Mediterranean and into Egypt. Rather than fly directly to Asmara, as we might have done, Gabriel took us along the route he had first travelled so many decades before, when he first sought Yeshi. Along that route we discretely contacted as many of the Brotherhood as we were able, warning them of what was coming, and telling those we most trusted of the means by which they might send messages to us, and, if need be, join us in exile.
Once we had passed into the upper reaches of the Nile, and from thence to the Atbara, Gabriel found us camels to take us from the river through the rural stretches of Eritrea. And, just as had been foretold, Gabriel and I were again met by Amsale, and in very nearly the same place and in the same circumstances as before. This time, however, the angelic messenger came to us in the form of a young boy. But he was once more being pursued by men who had sighted him in Asmara. I wish I could say that we were surprised at the depravity of a headman who now sought to satisfy his lusts by capturing and defiling a boy rather than a young woman, but in these dark days, deeds that would once have been considered horrors have become routine, and even fashionable.
“It is as I told thee, Gabriel,” said the boy Amsalegenet, “the men who sought to capture me at our first meeting are as saints compared to these.”
Yet, we were able, at last, to reach the mountain passes, and once more Amsale commanded the Watchers who descended from the cliff tops to guard the passage into the holy valley. The great baboons, which had been unable to stop the large force of men that first followed Gabriel into the valley, nevertheless had destroyed all of those who found their way back from the Iron Gate. They were picked off a few at a time as they left the passes to communicate with the mari in Asmara, and thus the secret of the existence of Mekdes had been kept safe through the long years. Gabriel confirmed this, relating to me that when he had finally left Yeshi, the pass was strewn with the bones of those killed by the baboons.
I will not relate all that transpired on our journey, other than to mention that we stopped briefly in Rome to meet with members of the Brotherhood in secret in the ancient catacombs, and to take counsel with the Benedictine Abbott who had first helped Gabriel find the MEB. This Abbott, along with others of his order, remains outside of Mekdes, even as the hour grows late; they seek to find additional shelter and to render further aid to those fleeing the darkness. I fear many of them will be martyred before the time comes for us to close the Iron Gates for good.
Just as we escaped England, Pope Benedict XVI resigned as pope and Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis I. Given what I have seen in my visions, I begin to give some credence to the prophesies of St. Malachy, and fear that Francis may be the last man to sit on the throne of St. Peter. With the rising persecution of the Church, it would not surprise me to hear someday soon that the City of Seven Hills had been destroyed, as has been foretold. And if this comes to pass, then surely we are living in the final days, and even the final hours, of this world.
But, all of this is in God’s hands now, as it ever was. We shall await what comes, offering help to our brothers and sisters in need, and opening our arms to all who seek asylum; this whether they come to us here in the wilds of Africa, or to other hidden places in Europe, Asia, the Americas, or Oceana. The Middle-earth Brotherhood must survive, and will do so, with God’s aid. We will ever nurture the Truth that has been revealed to us, seeking to succor all, and praying even for those who have succumbed to the Amenta and who mean to destroy us.
But for now, I must finish this entry, for Sogna is calling. Today is the birthday of our first child, who was christened Michael George. He will be raised as well as anyone can hope to be in these days: away from the spiraling horrors of the outside world, and kept safe for as long as we are able to do so. Sogna has also drunk of the waters of the Well, and we cannot help but wonder if Michael and his brothers and sisters will not be similarly gifted with the Vision in due time.
I have no doubt that at some point Gabriel will come again to Mekdes, to take Michael out into the world to learn its ways, and to assist him in his never-ending travels. For we can, none of us, ever rest, nor cease from rendering aid and counsel to all who are beset; for we have been commanded so to do. And we look to the ancient prophesies as well as to those given us in our own day, and hold close to what we have been taught:
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
[Thus Concludes The Prophesies of Yeshi, Book 1 of The Gabriel Chronicles]