The Aftermath of Ishaq's Prayer

  I can never tell how much time passes after I pray Ishaq’s Prayer as I usually lose consciousness once the blinding flash of light hits. I am always hesitant to invoke the Prayer of Submission, as it is an all or nothing tactic - made all the more dangerous since I do not really understand what it actually does. Nevertheless, despite my ignorance, the Prayer has always rewarded my faith and He, or at least someone of great power, has always come to aid me. And no "evil" had ever survived the flash.

  Immediately upon regaining consciousness, I began to grope around on the ground for Wrath and Justice, and much to my chagrin, the cannons were abruptly pushed into my hands. I opened my eyes and through blurred vision made out the silohuette of the leader of the demon legion. “How? What? Who, Who are you?” I asked. The demon shook off some derbis and dust, and drew himself to his full height. Despite being almost as badly wounded as I was, the demon flung his head back and roared. The fabric of reality across that dreamscape quivered. The demon emoted to me, in a furious stream of images, sounds and smells: “I-am-Behold.“ The demon stepped back further, and he roared again, as hellfire engulfed him. He unfurled all of his wings, despite the undoubtedly painful tears in many of them.

  Obviously wincing from pain, the demon bowed his head and released a wave of energy that I had never experienced or felt before. It washed across me like a prolonged chill from an open window. My mind exploded with the newly acquired memories of a cacophony of sounds and images, that, source aside, was nothing short of beautiful. And I heard, no comprehended, deep in my heart something that I had not known the second before. This demon, no, before me stood Antares, First Fallen and Vassal of the Harbinger, Defiler of the Creation, Seeker of His Face, and One Time Witness to His Glory.

  Then, the demon relaxed, and the air returned to normal, and walking toward me, he half emoted, half growled: “Name”. I began to answer “Magnus…” but before I could completely utter my given name, the demon just attacked. Shit, he was fast, and truly moved at the speed of thought. In fact, I barely had time to psychically raise Wrath and Justice to stop his talons from separating my aching head from my badly burned and broken body. The demon clutched me in his arms and his wings began to encircle us. I could hear at least one tail slapping furiously against the ground. Through blood covered fangs, it hissed, “You dare to so offend me? I ask your name and you do this?” Apparently, the demon could speak quite clearly when he so desired. He snatched Wrath and Justice out the air and crushed them both like so much peanut brittle. I screamed in agony as the pieces fell to the ground with a sickening crystalline sound. A pain shot through my chest, and I suddenly realized that I had several broken ribs. Yet it felt like I had broken them all.

  “Who are you? Who just came in answer to your prayer? Tell me or I will kill you over and over again for all eternity. Speak! For I must know who you are!” In stark horror, I realized that I not only did not understand the demon's question and thus could not provide the answer, but that both Stinky and I were going to die. This being had just crushed extensions of my soul as if they were nothing. And more importantly, the demon, who was clearly an "evil" creature, had survived Ishaq’s Prayer. And unfortunately, I didn’t have many tricks left. The demon ended my personal musings as he plunged a talon into my left shoulder, and drew me in close. Hellfire singed my face as he spoke again. “Do you even know? Foolish human, do you even know?” He hurled me toward my tree, and my back struck the trunk of the tree with a dull, wet thudding sound.

  The demon started to laugh. “Answer me human! Answer me or I will kill your little friend as well.” I managed to lift up my head and glance toward the edge of the ravine and the ledge where I had buried Stinky. The demon laughed again. “Your arrogance is unbeleiveable. Did you think that I did not know? Did you really think that you had fooled anyone? You who do not even know your own name?” Antares, in a ballooning cloud of dust, abruptly flew into the air, circled briefly, and like an arrow, dived to Stinky’s position, and with a single swipe of his tail, unearthed Stinky. He then teleported back to me with the swaddled babe in his grasp. “This. Does this stranger mean something to you? He couldn’t, because if you knew who he was, you would not be defending him.“ Enraged by his growing frustration with me, the demon spat hellfire on my right foot. My vision blurred with pain. The demon tossed Stinky aside, and I heard him cry out in pain as he landed a few feet from the edge of the ravine. “But make no mistake human. I will not stop here, if you do not answer my question, I will torment all you love, even, the one you love most. And she has no one to protect her from me.”

  Spitting up blood, I gurgled, “No”. I tried to get up, but I crumpled to the ground as my right foot and leg failed to support me. But the demon could not harm her. I would not allow it, and nothing, nothing in all of creation could stop me, not even Death, carrying a mandate from the Creator. I desperately called to Wrath and Justice. As I reached for the fragments, the pieces of my cannons trembled on the ground, and slowly began to drift and amble toward me. A shard cut through the demon’s forewing, as it came to me. The demon turned to me with renewed interest. "So, there is fight in you yet. Shall we test it?" And without warning, the demon's tail impaled me through the chest. I screamed a soundless scream. My lungs had far too large of a hole in them to push air along my vocal cords. The demon removed his tail and dropped me to the ground. And assuming thinking me dead, Antares turned to walk away.

  And for a brief moment, there was only darkness. Pure, unadultered darkness. The demon was right. I was a fool. I prayed prayers I did not understand. I wandered in a world that I did not understand. I was trapped in this place by aspects of myself that, again, I did not understand. And most disturbingly, despite all of these things, I did not know who I was or am.

  But the demon was not entirely correct. I knew a few things. I knew that much wrong had come about because of me. I knew that I could not allow any more suffering to be inflicted because of me. I was born of suffering and pain. Of loss and hopelessness. BUt I would not abide it any longer. Indeed, I first found my faith in the midst of those of prayers to the Creator that remained unanswered, but heard. I recalled Wednesday night prayer meetings, where grown men cried like babies at the plight of their lives, and the sufferings of their women and children. Wasted lives, or worse yet, lives filled with dreams indefinitely, and wrongly deferred. I remembered the woman who loved me more than life itself, despite knowing, at least subconsciously, that I was, sadly, not her own. The throes of life. No solutions ever came, but at least comfort, in the cold wind that burns. No answers, but there was always the solace of the cold wind that burns. Tears of blood streaked down my face. I may not know who I am, but I had some inkling of who I am not. Besides, it is not yet your time young one, whispered the voice in my head. Yes, I did know that too, and it was all that I needed to know.

  The fragments of Wrath and Justice gathered at my feet, and I attempted to stand again. Crystalline shards flew around my right leg and foot, impaling my flesh at its weak points, and this time, despite a piercing pain a thousand times more intense than anything prior, my right leg and foor did not fail me. I staggered to my feet. “Demon!”, I shouted. Antares turned and gazed intently at my battered form. “Wwwait … I wish … wish share with … something … may answer question.” The shards of Wrath and Justice began to float around me. “Forgive … I … weak … come closer … bad … emoting.” The demon roared again, and without hesitation walked into my immediate presence. And so I embraced the shards of Wrath and Justice with my remaining ki. They began to wildly encircle the demon and myself. And with a burst of focus and concentration, I shared with the demon my soul’s song.

  Antares stood in awe, and briefly staggered back against the sphere of ki and shards that entrapped us. “No leave … friend … more … share.” And so as the fragments of Wrath and Justice furiously flew around us, I shared more with the demon, the infinite instances of sufferings within the omniverse that seemingly went unaddressed, and the apparent indifference of the Creator to such pain. As I emoted more, the air around us became heavy, suffocating, crushing. I fell to my knees. Antares screamed, “fool, stop this, lest you will kill us both this time.” I slowly lifted my hand, “Maybe.” And in a blinding flash of light, the weight and gravity of the dark and violent energy circling us collapsed into a small glowing ball of light in the palm of my hand. I looked at Antares, who was also on his knees, as the collapsing of my sphere around us had left him gravely injured. The demon laughed, “Incredible. This is no prayer, if I had not witnessed it, I would not have believed.” Pulling himself erect again, Antares continued “Very well young one, show me your true power.” And the demon summoned what remained of his strength.

  And so, like the grains of sand that I had played with earlier when I first arrived in the ravine, I let the singularity fall from my hand.

  This is how I met Antares, First Fallen and Vassal of the Harbinger, Defiler of Creation, Seeker of His Face, and One Time Witness to His Glory. Antares who first set me on my path to becoming a Champion of frightful power -- power that may yet destroy your world. And more than that, Antares armed me with knowledge, much of which I impart to you now. And lastly, he taught me much of what I know of my destiny, but I babble and shall move on, for the revelations of Antares will be shared in much greater detail later.

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