The Chronicle of Belthaeous
by John W. Steele
Chapter 55: The Wheel of Empire
My nerves felt as if they’d been struck by a psychic thunderbolt. My hands and feet tingled, and a cloud of detachment numbed all sensation. The stench of this demon caused a wave of nausea in the pit of my stomach. I gagged and my eyes watered. So powerful was its presence that I teetered at the threshold of psychological collapse.
The monster had no aura, but a frigid sensation more intense than the blistering cold I had known in the Himalayas surrounded it like a frozen vacuum. There was no mistaking the authority of this creature. This was Tartarus, the spirit force of Mammon incarnate in a body of flesh.
The King of Demons eyed me, its face the essence of horror. It did not use a psychic voice to communicate, and when it spoke, it sounded like the grinding screech of some unoiled machine about to explode. “So it is you who holds the Eye, cherub. I would not have imagined such courage existed in the world of the marrow-cakes.”
Death stood at the door of every exit, and I decided to leave this cesspool on my own terms. A strange feeling of bravado came over me. I realized that this prison of torment held nothing but death; everything else amounted to little more than transient fascination. Somehow this perspective filled me with an absurd sense of courage.
I looked Tartarus squarely in his reptilian eye, and the oval dilated. “I could smell you the second you jumped through the window. What is it about the stench of decay that you find so exquisite?” I shook my head. “You are one twisted truck.”
The giant stood firm as boulder and the fire in his eyes intensified. He raised his head and roared like a raging tornado. “I am Tartarus, the physical shell of Mammon. The consciousness of the False Light Creator god resides in this vibratory complex. You will fall on your knees and worship me, lest I bite off your head like a flesh-covered apple.”
“Worship you? You must be psychotic, demon. You are not my equal, let alone my superior.”
He continued to eyeball me, a look of confusion embossed in the furrowed scales on his face. “You want to play, cherub? Maybe this will stimulate the program in that decaying organ of tissue you believe is your mind?”
In one fell swoop, the giant reached forth and grabbed Nacroanus by the waist. The monster raised him to its mouth and its jaws snapped like the jagged teeth of a bear trap.
“What are you doing?” Adrian cried, his arms flailing and his face bleached white with horror. “I am the will of Belthaeous. Without me, he is impotent. I have served evil with valor and dedication. How dare you assault me?”
“You are just another slave in my eyes, mortal,” Tartarus boomed. “I have used you according to my design. Your self-fulfilling prophecy has come to pass.
“A test is required. The seraph must choose. There is no room for compromise in our realm of perfection. Father must betray son, and son must betray mother. This is the way of the ancients to prove the depth of their devotion to my will.”
“That’s absurd. Put me down,” Adrian cried. “Without me, none of this would be possible. The power of my genius delivered the theomorphs to you, and this is how you repay me?”
Tartarus shook Nacroanus like a rag doll. “Silence, you effeminate fool. This saga has nothing to do with you. I did not know the whereabouts of the Eye until now. When Belthaeous channeled from the Fifth, my spies intercepted the transmission. The Eye belongs to me, and I can take it, but it would give me much satisfaction if your son betrayed you before you die.”
“You’re lying, Tartarus,” I said. “Not even an imbecile would fall for that story. If you were omnipotent, you would have known where the Eye was, and you would have not needed me to find it.”
The monster’s mouth curled, and his teeth peered like spikes from his maw. “Do you think I do not admire the power of the Light in theomorphic consciousness? I cast away all knowledge of the Eye when the priest removed it from the Archon’s forehead. It was the only way I would discover the one worthy to challenge my authority. Not since the martyr Bruno have I found one of such courage. But when it does occur, I must prove to myself that I can outwit even the most valiant warrior of Light.
“Wisdom is relative to the circumstances that impede it, cherub. If this were not so, my legion of robots and demons would have no authority. But I am superior to even the most awakened mind in the matrix. It gives me great pleasure to defeat the Light in the sport of Dharma combat, where only the depth of Light is paramount. It has been centuries since I have encountered such a worthy adversary, but in this cycle, that entity is you, Neumann.
“I am the father of ego, and I can be reckless. Your predecessor, Belthaeous, knew this, and his dedication to wisdom defeated him. Though you exist on a lower octave, you are much like him. I gave him my will, and you will give me yours.
“When I possess the Eye, no Light force in the universe can defeat me. Belthaeous will never regain the Eye. He tasted my magic, and the Archon is now dependent on sensation, but Nacroanus will not control Belthaeous; I will.”
Tartarus tightened his grip. Adrian gasped and the air wheezed from his lungs. The monster stared at its prey, its gaze single-minded like a boa constrictor savoring a victim in the last throes of asphyxiation.
“Nacroanus is a biological aberration,” it said. “I needed his intellect to complete my plan. I formed his body feeble and incomplete so that it would suffer the agony of sexual discontent and humiliation. Is not the craving for flesh the most aching of torments? I created the human body and filled it with flame.
“It is the burn of desire that illuminates my cosmos. Desire is my strength and provides me with endless bodies of flesh to house my host of demons.
“Nacroanus cannot truly enjoy the fruits of power. His only desire is to be idolized as a living god. But there is so much more for a man of developed appetites.”
Tartarus fixed me in a hypnotic gaze. A sense of supreme confidence surged within. I realized that this mentality controlled the dictators, and warmongers, and those of authority chosen to rule on this plane.
“Is not the stimulation of the ego a desirable sensation? I can empower you to see beyond the confines of the physical mind,” Tartarus said. “Cast away your Light, my son, and ye shall rule as my own in earthly paradise.”
“Why do you call me son, demon? We are not ontologically the same.”
“Those who defy me are those I desire, cherub. The demons and the robots are of no consequence. I own them, and they do as I command for trinkets. But you are dear to me, my son. To capture the Light is my only desire. Son... my beloved son, behold the Wheel of Empire.”
The great demon held me spellbound and a vision formed my mind’s eye. Endless lands replete with towering mountains were mine to rule. Oceans the color of jade and gleaming in the splendor of a golden sunset beckoned me with the illusion of fulfillment.
Mansions of unparalleled majesty were mine to enjoy. Within them concubines of exotic nymphs awaited, all eager to please. No power on earth could overthrow the gifts of my sovereignty, and no obstacle stood before my wish or desire.
“This is a glimpse of what I bequeath to those who do my bidding, cherub. Why do you defy the one who could grant you paradise in the realm of desire?”
Like a flash the vision faded and my gaze drifted beyond the veneer of earthy splendor. And I saw war-torn countries enveloped in flame. And in the smoke and ash there were starving, wounded children suffering in the aftermath of designer wars created to profit the rulers in Hell. Disease, poverty, slavery and despair consumed all but the princes and their demons who served the king.
The face of injustice and exploitation revealed itself, and I saw the truth hidden behind the electronic programming and centuries of mind control. Then came the final vision where only my skin bag remained; a body infested with worms and discarded like decaying garbage. A mind ravaged by Archons, its light devoured by the theocrats that bought it for the illusions granted in the 3-D hologram.
In a fit a wrath I cried. “Death and impermanence in conditioned existence is all you have to offer one of the Light, demon. Only those of your family feast on the riches of your filthy design. Your evil creation must end. You have nothing I want. I am a son of the Light and forever I will remain true to the Light!
An inexorable conviction exploded in my heart: there would be no more entrapment in the realm of illusion. Matter is hell, and the magic of Maya could no longer beguile me.
When the vision vanished, an old man stood before me. He wore a snow-white beard that flowed to his chest. His hair was the color of platinum and his eyes were huge, dark, and vacant. A plain linen robe the color of straw hung from his shoulders and a coarse woven sash lay draped on his torso.
This frail, beatified weakling appeared as the embodiment of humility and wisdom. He spoke to me like a gentle guru, his voice enchanted with kindness and virtue. “Give your heart to me, and I will grant thee all these things and more,” the ascetic said.
“What about my father?” I asked.
The sound of thunder boomed overhead. A red ovoid chamber sparkled with shafts of silver light and swirled within clouds of gray energy. The cloud alighted on the platform and hissed with a sound like a serpent. The Enukai demons fell to their knees and chanted an eerie mantra.
From the veil of mist, Raom and the council emerged. Their slender fingers were curled and separated in some ancient symbolic gesture, and their faces were tight and drawn. A smoke-colored nimbus swirled at the crown of their skulls and their eyes burned with a crimson flame.
Raom channeled in a voice that resounded in the hall. “I am Empress Raom. I command you to release Nacroanus, Tartarus. He belongs to us, and you are bound by cosmic law to obey our commandments.”
Tartarus laughed deep and loud, and the walls rumbled. “Cosmic law? I am cosmic law, you frigid, anal-retentive gasbag.”
The monster raised Adrian to its mouth, and with a snap of its jaws, severed his head. His body squirmed in the demon’s grasp and blood spurted from the neck, pouring to the floor in a scarlet torrent.
Tartarus drew a deep breath and spit the skull through the air like the pit of a cherry. Adrian’s head landed with a thud and rolled across the floor in hollow clogging sounds until it rested at the feet of the Vulpeculan magistrates..
“There’s your cosmic law, bitch. Call the cops.”
Tartarus roared with laughter and the Enukai followed suit. The auditorium shook and the dimensions of evil squared off in a frightening display of matter versus mind.
Raom raised her hand and pointed a long narrow finger. “You have transgressed the law of the elders, Tartarus, and for this you shall drink bitter waters. Great demerit shall befall you. We are the gatekeepers of the higher dimensions, and no one passes beyond without our blessing.”
Blood streamed from the corner of the demon’s mouth and strands of tissue spewed from his throat when he spoke. “Shut your trap, you cosmic whore. Dimensions... We don’t need no stinking dimensions.”
Raom’s eyes grew wide and her mouth puckered like a prune.
Tartarus threw the body to the floor where it landed in a crumpled heap. He turned his head and faced me. Smoke billowed from his nostrils and his eyes burned cherry-red. “No more mister nice guy, cherub. Give me the Eye or be prepared to join your father in the Astral realm called Hell.”
My time was up and I knew it. There was no fighting this thing alone, and for a moment, I wondered if the whole concept of Light amounted to little more than wishful thinking.
I had to make a decision, and the verdict bubbled forth from somewhere deep inside me. “Anything that has a beginning has an end, Tartarus, and you are destined for death. It is not better to rule in Hell. Victory belongs to those who awaken to the knowledge of the True Light Creator living within them. Long after you are gone, the Divine Light will reign forever. You are an impostor, and your kingdom will come to an end.”
A brilliant radiance exploded in the auditorium, an unearthly flash so intense that it could not be mimicked by any known science or technology. A sensation of awe swallowed me up and I fell into a swoon.
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele