Don't Ask Me That III

  The next time I awoke, it was to the sound of the wind whistling in my ear. The room smelled of cedar and pine. Sunlight lazily filled the room from awkward angels. Someone had bandaged my shoulder and side -- so only a dull throb remained. I dared to lift my head and look around.

  "Well, well. Welcome back son!" Oh, shit, the First Elder! I leapt from my chair and almost tore the bandages on my side trying to stand up. "First Elder, I did not realize -"

  "Realize what? That the Colonel did a less than exemplary job of getting you here in one piece? Relax Magnus, you have been comatose for almost three days now."

  Three days?!?! Impossible! "I apologize for that, young one, but I did not anticipate the Archer and the Monk being aware of your arrival. It seems that my enemies grow stronger and stronger, as I lie here growing weaker and weaker."

  I sank back in my chair, dumbfounded. "No, I apologize for making you wait First Elder."

  "Nonsense, boy. You gave me a reason to hang on for a few more days. More than I can say for most ... But my time grows limited, so come closer Magnus, greet me properly, and let me get a look at you with these old eyes of mine - that is while light still excites them." I get up and hobble over to the First Elder, who sits up in his bed, and grabs me in a surprsingly strong bear hug for one so near death. Then, he releases me, and for a few moments, just holds my hands. With clear amazement on his face, the First Elder continued, "I knew that the real world would change you, but I had no idea. You have learned much in your absence from us, eh?"

  I sigh. "More than I ever wanted to know First Elder. More than any person should know." The First Elder smiled. "I am so sorry young one. So sorry. You deserve ..."

  We both chuckle at that one. "True, my son, that word has no meaning. I sorely wish that it did - and that you had come to visit me under more fortuitous circumstances." I nod in agreement.

  "Let me waste no more time then. Listen carefully." I return to my chair a few meters away. "Obviously, I am dying, and with my death, a struggle for control of the Sanhedrin Council looms. Moreover, the Creator has seen fit to take me long before Kip is ready to take his place on the Council. And to add insult to injury, there is no other among my people who is prepared to take on this awesome task."

  I quietly begin to shake. Please God do not let this man ask me to do that?! I wring my hands to quell my discomfort. "Moreover, the Monk and his followers intend to use my death as a platform for larger ambitions. It seems that they plan to shift control of the earth from the western to the eastern hemisphere."

  "Respectfully, First Elder, perhaps the time of the West has past. I do not see a dilemma here."

  "I know Champion. You are no fan of this world, or its current masters, and seek change. And while I concede that change is in order, there are forces in motion here that go beyond the traditional evolution of a society. The Ark warned me of terrible dangers should this change happen NOW." I chuckle, "First Elder, you know as well as I do that the war is already over. The change looms on the horizon."

  "Again, young one, you are correct. The West has already fallen, and the sun rises in the east now. But do you know what has been so remarkable about that change?" I shake my head. "That it has happened, thus far, without meaningful bloodshed. The first change of power of this magnitude in all of human history that was not scarred by a pointless loss of life. Peaceful transition is all I, well, we seek Champion. It has been my life's sole ambition to lead the world to this point, and it seems that like my great ancestor, I, too, will not live to see the fruition of my life's efforts. Thus, my first request of you, Magnus, First of Your Kind to Return, is that you insure that the transition in power in the world remains a peaceful one."

  My jaw drops. "First Elder, I --" The First Elder raises his hand, I immediately cease talking. "I know, such a macro task seems untenable, but it is not. The Ark has shown me a way, and unfortunately, it involves you and the Zion." My blood boils at the mere mention of Kip. How could he allow his grandfather to die alone like this. I mean, he isnt even here. Did he care? Or was he somewhere plotting his actions once his grandfather rested cold in the ground.

  "Yes, young one, you are correct. Not only is Kip not ready to lead the Council, he cannot even defend his right to the mantle of leadership, or his seat on the Council, upon my demise. I gather that you engaged the Monk and the Archer?!" Again, I nod. "Their power was fearsome was it not? An entire philosophical system and view of the world that is not based on western ideals or thoughts. Which is not to say that they are wrong, for no one knows the true nature of the Omniverse, we simply make do with the little we have. Which is, where you come in."

  Fuckkkkkkk, here we go.

  "Your power is more, fundamental. It does not derive from a faith or belief system. You can stand up to the Monk and his machinations. The Zion cannot."

  "But you have."

  "True, but it is not an actual limitation of our powers, but in Kip's accord of will and fate. Without this, the Zion cannot wield the power of my Staff, and thus, the Ark. The Zion is out of sync with everything, including himself. Until he so becomes, he is no match for the Archer, let alone his older brother, the Monk. Thus, my second request of you Magnus -- Do not let the Monk and the Zion take control of the Council."

  Hmmm. That was not worded correctly, surely the First Elder meant that I should insure that Kip gets the Staff and takes his place on the Council?

  Noting my furrowed brow, the First Elder sighs, "What would you have me do, young one? Kip may never be ready. And I can scarcely risk the fate of the world based on misplaced feelings of family pride. Too much is at stake here."

  "So I can kill Kip if he crosses me?" The First Elder paused for a long time, before answering. "Despite all, I still love my grandson. Yet, I do not know if I can save him. However, I think that my third and final request shall fully encompass that issue. Lastly, Great Champion, I entrust you with finding the next wielder of the staff."

  The First Elder had gone too far. His staff was not only a symbol of power to the Jewish people and all Christian and Muslims in the world, but it was also a symbol of power, indeed, of leadership of the Sanhedrin Council, and the world itself. If I took that damn staff, the world would hunt me down for it. "No way, First Elder. God knows that I owe you, but do not ask that of me. I mean, how would I even do such a thing?"

  "Funny, I thought that of all my requests that you would balk at that saving the world thing, not keeping the staff from Kip."

  I arched my eyebrows, and shrugged my shoulders. Part of the problem for Kip was that typically, the staff did not pass directly down the line of Moses. Just as Moses gave his staff to Joshua, and not his brother Aaron, the Staff probably will not allow itself to go to the Zion. However, that would not stop Kip from trying to take it.

  "I wont take it First Elder. I wont." The First Elder smiled. "The Ark was right, I offer you the greatest treasure in the history of humanity, and you turn it down. We have chosen very well."

  "Chosen?!" I scowl at the First Elder, chosen was in past tense. I pause to scratch my palm, it had been itching like crazy for the last few minutes. And then, it hits me -- oh no. The old man laughs. "You did not have a choice, Champion, your kind never do." While I am furious, I realize that he is right. I can bicker and moan and groan all I want, I am already knee deep in this mess, and nothing I do is ever going to diminish whatever fucked up role I am intended to play. So, I started laughing too, and we laughed for about 10 or 15 minutes, before I get real quiet.

  "What is wrong?"

  "I just realized that there is nothing funny here, you are dying."

  The old man distantly looks at some faded pictures on the wall. "I am sorry that your mother died Champion. I know that must have hurt you deeply."

  It had, but it wasnt the death that hurt so much. "She died alone First Elder. And there was nothing that I could do about it."

  Rubbing his long grey beard, the First Elder paused for a moment. "Yes, I had heard that your efforts to be with her had been denied. That there was a convergence upon that outcome. I am sorry."

 Mandate of the Creator. An unavoidable, undeniable instant in all space time. "I will never forgive the Creator for that First Elder. EVER." The First Elder paused again. "Well, I think that we can help each other there." Puzzled, I stared at the First Elder for a moment, and then, I understood. "Are you afraid sir?"

  "A little. All mortals must cross death's threshold, yet none may know what awaits them on the other side. This too is a non-localized convergence." I get up and walk over to the First Elder's bedside. Taking his hand in mine, I kneel beside his bed. "I could not do this for her, but I will go with you as far as I can."

  "It is too dangerous." I laugh. "You underestimate my power First Elder, there was a reason that I did not balk at saving the world, but I did for a task wherein I might disappoint you." Suddenly, a bright, shining light filled the mind's eye of the First Elder. He squeezes my hand. "Shall we go?" I steeled my nerves, and responded. "Whenever you are ready." Again the First Elder hesitated, "I can only assume that Antares taught you this?! Do not trust him Magnus ... and in all candor, you cannot trust everything that the Ark says either. Remember, in all of creation, there is no greater jealousy among the Creator's children than that between the finite and the infinite." I smile. Although I was surprised to learn that the First Elder knew of Antares, as I had never mentioned him to anyone, I knew that there was little that got by this little old Jewish man. He had oversaw some of the greatest moments in human history, and even now, stood on the precipe of nonviolent global change. What a lifetime of achievement. Yet, he would never get the credit. In fact, no one would even know who actually orchestrated it all. He deserved better.

  "I am ready Magnus. Let's go." I closed my eyes, and allowed my self to drift into a state of deep meditation. Once in between worlds, I reached out and took the First Elder's hand. He squeezed back, and started down toward the light. Tears welled in my eyes, but I held them back. This was not the end, just a new beginning. All finite beings had to think that when this bright light lands upon their face. Otherwise, who could carry on? Regardless of faith, the finite needed that hope, for the truth was simply too much to bear.

  I walked with him as far as I could without dying, although my heart did stop for a few seconds. I then stood at the threshold, and watched him walk away. As I returned to the real world, I ended my mediation, and fell into darkness's embrace.

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