Legends of Amacia: The Gathering Shadow

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Chapter 10: The Banquet: Demons and Prophecy

A half an hour after leaving their quarters, Nathanael led Hannibal and Selina into the dining hall. As they entered the dining hall, Hannibal noticed a crowd of almost a hundred people talking amongst themselves in select groups while the cafeteria workers set the food out on the buffet tables. Hannibal quickly scanned the scene, finding his team sitting at a table with Nicodemus, Joshua and several others. They were talking softly with each other. Harry sat opposite of Nicodemus with three places vacant next to him to his right. Arabella and Morrison sat next to Harry with Thomas and Jonathan next to them. Ned, Sam, and Cracko sat on the other side of the vacant seats. Joshua noticed Hannibal, Selina, and Nathanael’s entrance to the dining hall and motioned to Nicodemus. He looked over to the door, rising as they stopped just inside the entrance.

With a smile, Nicodemus waved them over, speaking loud and clear so everyone could hear. “Welcome to our table, my friends. Please, have some meat with us. You, your wife, and father-in-law are welcome at our table,” he declared. The dining hall suddenly became quiet as a tomb with the only noise being the food being set out. All eyes fastened on the trio.

As Hannibal moved forward, he replied so everyone could hear, “Thank you, Nicodemus. The Lord has indeed been good to us in these trying days.” Gasps of astonishment issued from the crowd as Hannibal walked to the table with Selina at his side and Nathanael behind them. Some of the crowd gazed in wonder at the trio while others seemed barely interested in them. Nicodemus looked around at his people with disdain and anger at their lack of response to Hannibal’s presence.

Suddenly, an old woman rose and stood before Hannibal as he passed her table. He stopped to regard her as she knelt before him. Looking down at her, he saw her eyes full of tears. Trembling, the old woman reached forward to grasp his hand, which he allowed, and kissed it. Hannibal could suddenly sense her thoughts along with a vile evil presence tormenting her that seemed familiar. “Don’t bow to me, kind lady,” Hannibal instructed in a gentle tone, taking her by the hand. “I’m just a man. You’ve shown great faith. Of all here, only you have endeavored to greet me personally. Rise and be at peace, Naomi.” He helped Naomi to her feet as he looked into her face. Wonder and adoration covered her face. He sensed that she wanted to hug him but was unsure whether it would be appropriate. Therefore, once she was standing, Hannibal gently hugged her as he would his own mother. At that, she cried out with gratitude and kissed his hand again.

When she turned to step aside, Hannibal stopped her under the influence of the Holy Spirit. “Wait, Naomi,” he said softly, holding her hand and sensing her pain. “I can see you have been troubled by a great many things, both physically and mentally. You have been bereaved and are a widow. You’ve also been tormented by foul spirits, which have caused you much pain and disease. You’re plagued with terrible headaches and tremendous pain in your joints and bones that even now torments you.”

“How did you know?” Naomi asked, her mouth hanging open.

Hannibal smiled warmly at her, putting his arm around her in a brotherly fashion. “Sister, the Lord is good and shows us all things in His time and good pleasure,” he declared. “Of all the people here, only you had faith enough to come to me. Tell me…you thought that if you could just touch me that you would be healed of your infirmities. Is this correct?”

Naomi looked him in the eye with great love and faith. “Yes,” she replied humbly. “I knew you’d come because the Ancient of Days told me so. He told me to greet you in the manner that I did and if I did, He would heal me of this tormenting spirit that ravages me even now.”

Hannibal marveled and spoke to everyone. “Do you see this old woman? Great is her faith,” he announced. “Only she had the faith to come forward for help. Nicodemus, Joshua...would you come here please?” By now, Hannibal and Naomi were the center of attention. Hannibal’s team paid close attention, anticipating that something tremendous was about to happen. As Nicodemus and Joshua made their way to Hannibal and Naomi, Hannibal said to her, “You know I’m just a man, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Naomi answered. “But you’re not just any man. You’re the hand of the Ancient of Days, the great warrior the prophecies said would come. He told me so, and He also told me that if I were healed that you wouldn’t take credit for it.”

Hannibal’s eyes grew round as an icy chill raced down his spine. “You’re correct,” he stated. “Should the Lord choose to deliver you this day, it’ll be by His power and not mine.”

“I know this and believe,” Naomi whispered. “The Ancient of Days promised me deliverance if I did this. Please…help me.” Nicodemus and Joshua arrived as she spoke.

“I cannot refuse this request,” Hannibal stated. “It’s a righteous plea, filled with faith in the Lord. All I can do is pray for you, if that’s all right.”

“Please…help me,” Naomi begged, her face beginning to twist in pain.

“We will,” Hannibal said softly to her. “Nicodemus, let’s lay hands on this precious sister and pray the Lord removes the terrible burden she is afflicted with for far too long. Joshua…you, Selina, and Nathanael help as well.”

“Right,” Nicodemus replied. “We’re with you, brother.”

Hannibal looked Naomi directly in the eye and said, “Do not be afraid and believe and the Lord will deliver you.” She looked him in the eye with childlike faith as Joshua brought a chair forward. “Sit, my precious sister,” Hannibal told her and she sat as they gathered around, placing their hands on her head. The whole place went silent as Hannibal placed his hands on the crown of her head. Even before he touched her, he knew something wasn’t right. When he touched her head, the Holy Spirit opened his eyes and he saw the hideous demon that was tormenting her. Immediately, he opened his mouth and prayed in tongues with great authority. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit come on everyone laying hands on the old woman and a chorus of tongues came forward.

As they prayed, Harry and Arabella prayed silently along with the elders of Arionath. Naomi began to writhe under the pressure of the prayers and the demon began to speak in a deep reptilian voice completely different from Naomi’s voice. “Let me go! It burns! It burns! Let me go, damn it! She’s mine! We have permission! It burns!” the demon shrieked.

“Silence, Dagos, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth!” Hannibal boomed supernaturally. “Bet you didn’t think you’d see me again down in this cursed forbidden land, did you, you vile sadistic monster?”

The demon shrieked as it wracked Naomi’s body with intense pain. “Beowulf!” Dagos hissed through Naomi in a deep guttural voice. “I’ll rip her apart before I give her up to the likes of you! She’s mine!”

At that, terrible claw marks appeared on her face and Hannibal shouted with great authority “Cease and desist in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and come out of her, Dagos! Go back to the infernal fires where you belong!”

At the same time, Nicodemus cried out, “Come out of her, foul tormenting spirit, and return to the abyss that spawned you in the name of the Almighty Ancient of Days!”

The thing shrieked as Naomi’s head looked to the ceiling with a nauseating, stinking black cloud spewing out of her mouth. The vile cloud hung over them for a few seconds, forming into a hideous reptilian face with a long snout, razor sharp teeth and eight compound eyes like that of a spider. It caused everyone in the immediate vicinity to gag with the fetid stink. “This isn’t over! You’ll not get away with this betrayal of us! I’ll see you in hell, Beowulf!” the cloud bellowed as it dissipated.

“You first, Dagos,” Hannibal snapped coldly. “Go back to the fires of the Abyss in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, son of the Almighty Ancient of Days!”

As soon as the demon had come out in the form of a stinking cloud and vanished, Naomi slumped in the chair. Nathanael immediately reached out and held her in place. “Oh, thank you, Father, for the deliverance of this precious sister in the name of our precious savior, Jesus Christ!” Hannibal cried with tears of joy and relief in his eyes.

“Yes! Oh, merciful Ancient of Days, we praise and glorify you for this mighty deliverance,” Nicodemus agreed. “Bind up her wounds, Almighty Father, and fill her with your spirit!” A resounding amen arose from Hannibal, Joshua, Selina, Nathanael, Harry, Arabella, and the elders. The crowd of people in the dining hall began murmuring softly as Hannibal, Selina, and Nicodemus squatted down in front of Naomi. She was out cold. The wounds inflicted by the demon were oozing slightly.

Hannibal reached out and touched her shoulder, shaking her slightly. “Naomi,” he said softly as he shook her. “Naomi, wake up, Naomi,” Hannibal repeated himself as he shook her a bit more vigorously.

Her head began to bob and then move side to side as she opened her eyes. Upon raising her head, the first face she saw was Selina. She was smiling and holding her hand. Naomi blinked a couple of times, unsure of what she was seeing. “I’ve passed on to be with the Ancient of Days,” she exclaimed feebly. “I’m seeing an angel!”

“No, Naomi,” Selina purred. “You’re not dead yet. But the demon that has tormented you for so long has fled from you.”

“Yes, Naomi,” Hannibal said. “Selina’s right. You’re still with us. How do you feel?”

When Hannibal spoke, Naomi realized that she still lived and that Selina wasn’t an angel. She turned to Hannibal and beamed with pure delight, “The pain is gone! Oh, glory to the Ancient of Days, the pain is gone!” She immediately latched onto Hannibal’s forearm, hugging and kissing it as she cried, “Thank you! You truly are the Promised One of the prophecies. Oh, praise be to the Ancient of Days!”

Hannibal smiled and placed his hand on her head. “Peace be to you,” he said warmly. “Now go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Almost immediately, Hannibal heard the crowd murmur at the statement and he rose, turning to them. Nicodemus heard their response to the comment, becoming visibly angered by it. He stood with Hannibal while Selina and Nathanael kept close to Naomi, wiping her wounded face with a clean handkerchief. Righteous anger flared in Hannibal as he said, “Why do you murmur so about my statement? Surely, you have a prophet in your midst and surely, he has warned you many times about such murmuring against the truth. Let me explain something to all of you. This woman had a demon. You saw its physical manifestation here just a few moments ago, which proves it was not a figment of Naomi’s imagination. Furthermore, you should consider yourself fortunate that the Ancient of Days allowed you to see the demon’s physical form. Most of the time, when demons are exorcised like this, no one ever sees their form. The Ancient of Days allowed this to prove to you His existence. If demons like Dagos exist, then so do angels and by default, the Ancient of Days since he created all things, including the angels and demons. Why He did that I have no idea, but He did so we must accept their existence. It makes no difference whether we like it or not. It’s a given fact of our existence. Now, getting back to Naomi, do any of you have any concept of how she acquired this demon? To put it plain and simple, she sinned. When you sin, you give the devil place and once he has access, he will take everything he can, including your body and soul if you let it go far enough. But she had enough faith left in her, even with the demon infesting her, to come forward for help. This demon had completely and utterly destroyed her flesh and will. It’s what I call being turned over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh. It’s an extreme measure our God goes to when his son or daughter is in extreme rebellion against Him.” He looked around and saw looks of arrogance and indifference, which angered him further. He could tell that a sizable chunk of the crowd didn’t receive what he said. Hannibal turned to Nicodemus and saw he was even angrier with them than he was.

“What is wrong with you?” Nicodemus shouted. “Ahhh! Can’t you see that you’re being told the truth! Your will and iniquity is showing out again! Here is the very manifestation of the prophecies right in the midst of you and you still kick against it? Repent of this evil!”

“Well said, brother. Well said,” Hannibal replied. Then to the crowd, his anger waxed hot and he rebuked them harshly, saying, “You should take heed to Nicodemus. Repent of this evil, you rebellious house! Heed the warning and repent! But I can tell you one thing for sure. God is not going to tolerate this kind of response to His truth. I honestly don’t know if I’m the one your prophecies speak of, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is what is happening right here before your eyes. Do you really think that the Emperor is going to allow you to stay safe here from him and continue to defy him? Do you really think that the beast-men and the great animals in the forests of Kasa Bek are going to protect you from his wrath? You’re sadly mistaken. You have been lulled to sleep by your security. Well, be sure of this: your security here is an illusion. You should have taken heed when the Emperor overrun Khitia and slaughtered your brothers and sisters like vermin. If he can do that there, what will he do here if properly motivated?”

Hannibal looked around and saw the demon spirits take chunks of the crowd. Looks of hate and contempt came forward from various people. “Oh, you rebellious house,” Hannibal railed. “Now I know what Brother Paul and Nicodemus have to deal with! You should glory in the truth when it’s presented to you, not crucify the messenger when it doesn’t fit into your petty little plans. Let me tell you something: my plans, your plans, Nicodemus’ plans don’t amount to squat in the eyes of the Lord. He’s trying to save His people from their sin and preserve and the entire universe from chaos and destruction! Apparently, you have been classified as His people, otherwise you’d be doing the Emperor’s bidding; however, that can change. The traitor that betrayed your friends in Khitia should be proof enough of that. The end is upon you whether you like it or not. If you don’t repent, the Lord can and will cut you off without remedy. Things are not going to go on as they have since the beginning of time. My very presence here should testify to that.”

Hannibal’s anger softened at bit as he turned from rebuke to pleading and exhorting. “Please…don’t give place to this vile, unbelieving spirit,” he begged. “Just before I came down here, I had something dropped into my spirit that has rattled me to my bones. Only my precious wife was able to get me out of that funk it put me into. The Emperor will soon find you out and when he does, there will be a greater loss of life here than in Khitia. The Lord has been angered to the point of wrath with the rebellion of his people, both here and on the surface. He’s going to allow this purge, both here and on the surface eventually. Many in this room may not survive what’s coming. Please…His wrath is about to be poured out and He’ll use the Emperor and his infernal cohorts to do this. I beg of you, repent while you have been given time. Repent. It’s for your profit to do so. But I can see by some of the faces staring back at me that many of you aren’t going to heed. Understand this, though: the end of all things is here. Our God is fixing to rule and reign over all the Earth and universe. He’s preparing to set all things back into balance and harmony. All He has to do is save His people from their sin. You’ve been His remnant in this realm since before the calamity that buried you and this land in this grave. Don’t make Him a liar. Repent and turn to Him. He will forgive you. There’s only one thing He cannot forgive and that’s if you don’t believe that He can forgive. That’s making Him a liar. If you don’t believe He can forgive you, He can’t and won’t. Turn to our God. He will not fail you and save you from eternal destruction.”

Hannibal noticed that some of the crowd began to respond positively to his words, conviction showing on their faces; however, some still refused to respond positively to his words. “Please, brothers and sisters. Don’t give place to that demon. Just believe what I’m telling you. You don’t have to understand it, just believe it because I wouldn’t lie to you. I have no reason to; nor do I wish to be a judge or ruler over you. I come as a friend and brother who wish nothing more than to see peace in this land and in your hearts. I can see that I’ve reached some of you. But let me be perfectly clear with this. I’ve dealt with the spiritual world all my life from both sides of the line. I know what to look for when a spirit takes someone as some of you have been taken. If you persist in that rebellion, you will be cut off without remedy. You’ll find no place of repentance and will be lost. As for this precious woman who was delivered from the demon Dagos, she should be a shining example to you. Look at her. Even now, my words have smitten her heart and she is in sincere, godly repentance,” he said evenly, pointing out that the old woman was crying like a baby in deep repentance. Selina, Nathanael, and Joshua were gathered around her, strengthening her with kind words and instruction.

Hannibal turned to Naomi as Nicodemus watched with approval. Naomi looked up at him with tears running down her cheeks and cried, “I’m free of the demons and of my sin! Oh, Ancient of Days, I believe! I believe! Please, Almighty Father, help my unbelief!”

Hannibal looked at Nicodemus for a moment with a smile, and then spoke to Naomi. “Well, praise the Lord, sister,” he crowed pleasantly. “At least one soul here heard what the Lord was saying. You’ve heard the voice of the Lord and are numbered among His children. Be at peace and sin no more.”

Nicodemus then turned to the people and said, “The Almighty Ancient of Days has been incredibly merciful to us today to have this timely warning brought to us. If you’re wise, you’ll heed His words and obey. He’d much rather have an obedient people than sacrifices. Repent. Examine yourselves closely and repent of your sin. You have less time than you think. Please, heed this timely warning and don’t waste this opportunity. Repent.” At that, he turned to Hannibal and apologized, saying, “I am truly sorry that you had to see this kind of reception. There are some who just don’t grasp the seriousness of the hour that is upon us.”

“There’s no need to apologize,” Hannibal replied. “The Lord’s people are a rebellious house not only here but on the surface as well. Most people on the surface won’t embrace the truth either. Those that do are few and far between. I have been particularly blessed by being able to have gathered some of those few to assist me with the Lord’s work at Tiamat, despite my own failings and rebellion. I’m sure that a similar remnant is here as well. The Lord just has to bring them forth.”

“Well said, my friend. Well said,” Nicodemus said, impressed with Hannibal’s candor. “Come, my friends. Let’s sup together and give thanks to our God for your safe arrival.”

“That sounds good,” Hannibal said. Then he turned to Naomi and asked, “Would you care to sit with us?”

Naomi looked at Nicodemus and he nodded. “Yes,” she beamed. “I would be honored to sit with you.”

“Then come, my sister,” Hannibal replied with a smile. Selina helped her up and they followed Nicodemus to his table.

Harry got up as they arrived and said, “Here, take my seat, kind lady.”

“Why thank you, sir. I’m overwhelmed by all this kindness,” Naomi said humbly. “It’s been many cycles since I’ve seen such kindness.” Harry moved down and sat next to Jonathan.

“Why’s that?” Morrison asked after everyone sat down.

Naomi looked at him and answered, “It’s a long story, young man. Let’s just say that when my husband was killed along with my children, at first there was sympathy. But it quickly dissipated and I’ve been looked on by many as a burden on the community because I don’t have a family any more and more importantly, because I’m old and not able to look out for myself.”

“That’s just not right,” Arabella replied indignantly.

“Yes, it’s not right,” Hannibal agreed. “The longer I’m here, the more I see the people here acting like the people on the surface. You shouldn’t have been treated that way. It’s a disgrace!”

“I would have been dead long ago if it hadn’t been for Nicodemus bringing me into his home. He’s the only one who had mercy on me,” Naomi said gratefully.

Hannibal looked at Nicodemus and he nodded slightly. “Yes,” Nicodemus admitted. “What she says is true. When she came to my attention, she had been shunned and rejected by most of the population. Moreover, she was dying of malnutrition and a myriad of other diseases, which we now know was caused by the demon. I brought her into my household at the order of The Ancient of Days. Now, I know why. She was meant to be here today to greet you and be delivered from her curse.”

“How long has she been in your house?” Selina asked.

“Three and a half cycles,” Nicodemus replied. “It’s been five cycles since her family was killed and the people shunned her.”

Ned shook his head in disgust at what he was hearing about the treatment of Naomi. “How could these people treat her like this?” he growled angrily.

“It’s the spirit that prevails here the great caverns,” Nicodemus replied coldly. “The vile evil spirit of Amacia and the Emperor have poisoned many and caused many to be cut off. That’s how we were betrayed. One of our closest, most important men turned.” He paused for a moment, remembering the betrayal, and then said softly, “The boy was like a son to me. I tried to bring him back but it was not to be.”

“This boy…how familiar was he with the routines of Arionath?” Hannibal asked bluntly.

Nicodemus and Joshua immediately knew the implication of Hannibal’s question and their faces fell with dismay. “He knows everything about our defenses and routines,” Joshua hissed.

“God help us!” Nicodemus groaned. “He was in charge of our defenses not only here but in Khitia as well. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him go.” He leaned forward and briefly covered his face with his hand, crying, “Maybe we should have executed him. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that he had detailed knowledge of our defenses here.”

“You let him go?” Thomas asked in amazement. “Why?”

Nicodemus looked up and declared, “The Ancient of Days commanded it. He told me not to kill him but to send him to the Emperor with a message.”

“What was the message?” Nathanael asked.

“The message to the Emperor was that there’s once again a prophet in the land and that his days are numbered by the Almighty Ancient of Days. Part of the message was a piece of the prophecy that has been passed down from the time of the beginning to us,” Nicodemus said. Nathanael, Selina, and Hannibal suddenly straightened up, their eyebrows rising with great curiosity.

“What’s the prophecy?” Harry asked.

“The prophecy, even though it’s incomplete, is the source of our hope,” Nicodemus replied, clearing his throat before starting. Silence fell over the cafeteria with the only noise being those who were preparing the banquet and a few handfuls of rebellious people in the far corners murmuring softly amongst themselves. “I will tell it as I know it. What I’m about to say is what I had the traitor take back to the Emperor,” Nicodemus stated. “Back in the mists and fog of time from the time of the beginning, from the days when our people lived on the surface come these prophecies. Many millennia have passed since the Ancient of Days passed judgment on the world. Many of the accounts of that event and time have been fragmented and lost to us. For in time, history becomes legend, and legend becomes myth. Things were forgotten that shouldn’t have been and for twelve millennia the knowledge of what befell us passed from our knowledge as a people. All that remained was a fairy tale: a myth of our origin that told of the days when the gods of old battled each other on the surface for the soul of the planet, decimating the world and angering to wrath the Ancient of Days. However, the Ancient of Days remembered His people and at the time of His choosing, revealed the location of the fortress of Srandi along with the last known accounts of our fall, the source of the prophecies. What you hear now is the only known account left from that time, even though it is still fragmented and we continue to search for the complete prophecy. Hear the words and take heed for the days of their fulfillment are at hand. Listen carefully, my friends.

“Just before the cataclysm the Ancient of Days visited upon us and the world, the Demon Emperor ruled the whole world with blood and terror. Billions of souls perished at his hand. He allowed the forces of the most Ancient Darkness to manifest in our dimension and plague the living. In those days, he was nigh unstoppable because of his power. Therefore, our great God, the Ancient of Days sent forth prophets and they foretold the destruction of Amacia and the Emperor.

“These prophets prophesied and chronicled the fall of Amacia and the destruction of the Emperor just before the cataclysm. They wrote down the prophecies and hid copies of them from the Emperor. In many cases, the copies of the prophecy were split and sent to various lands as a way to keep the Emperor from circumventing and destroying the whole of it. They also managed to secure a remnant of our race for the Ancient of Days. The Emperor decimated them just as he decimated our brethren in Khitia recently. When the Emperor slew the last prophet in the throne room of his Black Fortress, he didn’t realize that he doomed his kingdom. The very same day the Emperor killed the last prophet, the Ancient of Days raged in His wrath at the wickedness perpetrated by the Emperor and those who followed him. He sent the Hammer of Nibiru, the great wandering star that blasted the planet and turned it upside down. At His order, it caused the ground to open up and the Earth swallowed our country up whole. The periphery of the Empire subsequently fell to the Deluge caused by the great star, reordering the surface of the world in the process. Amacia fell exactly as the prophets had predicted. The world was cleansed and only a few handfuls of pure souls were allowed to remain above to start over; souls He warned of the coming calamity and who acted on His word. Nearly every trace of the Empire vanished and the Emperor was banished here with the whole of Amacia. The outer world lost all knowledge of our existence when the Ancient of Days wiped the surface clean of the Emperor’s vile Empire. The prophecy of the destruction of Amacia occurred in that day just as the prophets had foretold. A depiction of this event lies on the tapestries in the King’s Chambers of this very fortress…a tapestry a handful of fearless warriors and I retrieved many cycles ago from none other than the Fortress of Srandi. But despite popular belief, the destruction of the Emperor didn’t happen at that time. The destruction of Amacia and the Emperor are two different events separated in time and space. Now, the Emperor’s downfall is at hand. Listen to the prophecy of the Emperor’s destruction as we know it from the fragmented writings and take heed, for the time is now. The Ancient of Days has decreed it and reads as follows from our fragmented accounts.

“In the end of days, the Dark Prince will shake from his slumber and many will despair. The great Dark Cat will roar, the world will shake, and darkness will come as the Cat stirs. The Draken Lord will arise in the east and rage in fury. A monster Chimera will sweep out of the northeast with vengeance and a Giant of immense power will arise with great strength out of the northwest. In those late days will he come, the great Warrior guardian from the Outer World with his celestial mate and ten of his own and the great Ancient of Days guiding their way while being pursued by an old enemy out for vengeance and an enemy who isn’t his enemy. For in those days, the Ancient of Days’ anger shall be kindled against the Emperor and his kingdom will be plunged into darkness. Stars and fire shall fall on the Dark City of the Damned in divine fury. The moon shall be struck and bloodied; the sun and stars hammered and their light shall be withdrawn. For the righteous Wrath of the Divine God will fall on the kingdom. Indeed, the very Earth will stagger and sway as a drunkard, being pulverized by bolts of power from on high for the Emperor’s transgressions and atrocities are piled up to Heaven and the Ancient of Days has remembered his crimes. Even the great celestial Hammers will be called forth from the heavenly armories to smash the Emperor’s evil as he tries to spread his dark power over the planet once more.

“In those dark days, the Almighty Ancient of Days sends His Messenger – the mighty Warrior guardian from the Outer World and his allies into the cursed darkness of His Enemy. Upon entering the cursed domain, the Warrior and his celestial mate fall prey to a trap set by the Warrior’s old enemy and are taken before the Demon Emperor, where the inseparable pair is separated: the celestial mate to become a slave to the Demon Emperor, and the Warrior to be altered and mutated into his opposite, tortured, and condemned to oblivion. Yet, the Ancient of Days preserves the Warrior in his fiery trial, allowing him to escape the Evil, showing him the way to lift the curse that altered his form, and return to the Dark City of the Damned to save his celestial mate and all souls trapped by the Evil in the deepest vilest darkness while awakening to his destiny as the hand, the very Sword of the Ancient of Days that spans the ages and saves all life from the Evil’s wrath and its source within the most Ancient of Darkness that seeks the extinction of all life.

“Thus the Ancient of Days sends His messenger – the mighty Warrior guardian from the Outer World, to His Evil Enemy, to prophecy against him, to be His divine wrath against his kingdom, to battle the Evil at the Fortress of Srandi, and triumph. The Evil shall be as the sands of the desert as they cross the face of the Earth to the Fortress of Srandi to annihilate the redeemed of their species. The Almighty Ancient of Days shall arise from His place and do battle for them as in the days of old, crushing the Evil underfoot with His mighty Hammers. Fire, brimstone, and billows of smoke shall rain upon the cursed City from on High as the Earth itself rises against the Dark City, not leaving one brick on another anywhere. Then shall the ENTIRE WORLD know that He, the Almighty Ancient of Days is the great and Almighty God – Creator and true Master of the Universe!”

Nicodemus sighed and slumped back in his chair as he finished telling the prophecy, obviously fatigued as he looked down at the table. A few moments later, he looked up at Hannibal, seeing him pale and shaken. “You cannot deny it, my friend,” Nicodemus stated bluntly. “You are the One the prophecies speak of. The fact you have a Lynxian mate removes all doubt. She is the celestial mate and you are the One…the great Warrior guardian from the Outer World. Even you cannot deny it now that you’ve heard the prophecy. It’s your destiny.”

Hannibal’s team stared in utter astonishment, bordering on disbelief. “Whoa,” Thomas said softly. “Unbelievable. What does that make us?”

“That means you and your companions were meant to be here too,” Nicodemus stated. “You are the Warrior’s team that will help him destroy the evil of the Emperor and return balance to our land, the planet, and universe.”

“Man…I feel like reality just got up and left the table,” Sam declared. “This is nuts! How can a prophecy from the time this place sat on the surface so accurately tell about Hannibal and Selina?”

Nicodemus smiled warmly. “The Ancient of Days is how,” he stated. “These were His words spoken of by prophets long ago, not mine. He has a great plan and purpose for Hannibal, Selina, and the rest of you. You find yourself in the middle of a celestial grudge match that fixing to play out before our eyes. But if you listen closely to the prophecy, it says the Warrior and his people win the day with the help of the Ancient of Days.”

“I cannot deny it,” Nathanael admitted. “The Word of the Lord is the Word of the Lord and it cannot be changed. Besides, it sounds so familiar.”

“It should,” Hannibal called out, breaking his silence. “It’s the rest of the prophecy we saw carved in the wall of the cave at Skull Pass. Moreover, it’s a variation of the prophecy the Zinzera had. This may be where their prophecy came from.”

“Of course,” Nathanael chimed. “That’s why it sounded so familiar. Do you suppose it was put there as a warning for us and you?”

“I don’t know,” Hannibal admitted. “At the moment, I’m tending to agree with Sam that reality suddenly stepped out of the room. But Nicodemus is also right. I cannot deny the obvious. They knew I was coming twelve thousand plus years ago to make war with the Emperor. That’s seven thousand years earlier than I believed Amacia to have existed. I’m astonished by this.” A pained look crossed his face as he added, “Why does my life seem like it’s not my own? Why do darkness, pain, evil, and death seem to follow me wherever I go? I’m frankly getting tired of it. I didn’t come here to make war or be a messiah. I came here with the simple question of what was the world like in the days of Amacia. Is that such too much to ask?”

“I feel for you,” Nicodemus replied soberly. “You’ve been placed in a terrible position by the great powers of Light and Darkness; a position you did not ask for.”

“You’re right,” Hannibal snapped. “I didn’t ask for this. But I cannot fight it. Ever since I set foot in this place, I’ve felt like I’ve finally come home. Moreover, my blood burned as you told us the prophecy, Nicodemus. I know it’s the truth. I cannot fight against the truth, otherwise I’d be no better than those around us who reject my presence here as a sign. Please forgive me if I seem cross or unthankful to hear the truth. I have to repeatedly remind myself that the truth…the Lord’s truth isn’t what we may think it is or want it to be. All I can say at this point is the Lord is good and always has my best interest at heart. If I am to be this Warrior guardian from the Outer World as your prophecy indicates, then so be it. Let the Lord’s will be done.”

“You’re a good man, Hannibal Smith of the outer world,” Nicodemus declared. “The Ancient of Days told me you’d be a little temperamental, but insisted you have a good heart and soul that seeks redemption and truth. He’ll give you what you seek if you just let Him. Whether you believe it or not, your destiny is at hand in this place. It’s just beginning. Have faith in your God and you will see His wonders. In the meantime, you have us to help you find your way through the darkness of Amacia and your own heart. In time, you will understand why it must be this way.”

“I’ve never liked being manipulated,” Hannibal replied. “It reminds me of the Darkness that used to imprison my soul; however, since it seems this is the Lord’s doing, I’ll submit to it because I love Him. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“You’re a man of brutal honesty too, Hannibal,” Nicodemus chimed with a chuckle. “I like that and so does the Ancient of Days. It’s okay to be honest about your feelings.” A man approached and whispered in Nicodemus’ ear. “I have just been informed that everything is ready,” Nicodemus stated. “Come and eat your fill, my friends.”

“Yes, let’s eat,” Hannibal agreed; feeling a bit relieved that his tirade didn’t offend Nicodemus. “We can digest what we have just heard while we eat.” Nicodemus rose and Hannibal did likewise, followed by his team.

“Indeed…Follow me,” Nicodemus ordered. “I’ll show you where everything is.” At that, they followed Nicodemus to the buffet table. Nicodemus stopped at the head of the table, got everyone’s attention, and then blessed the food before pointing out everything. Hannibal, Harry, Selina, and Nathanael felt right at home for the way everything was set out was just like the cafeteria at the Temple of Tiamat. The rest of the team quickly learned what to do and they all helped themselves to all manner of roasted and fried meats, vegetables cooked in every conceivable ways along with strange breads and fruits. Some of the foods looked familiar to them, like beans, corn, potatoes, etc.... The meats, however, tended to be a little more difficult to identify, though a pleasant aroma rose from them and they looked very good to eat. When Hannibal and his team encountered something they couldn’t identify, they asked Nicodemus, Joshua, or some of the cooks who stood behind the table with sober smiles on their faces. Within minutes, Hannibal and his team, along with Naomi, Nicodemus, and Joshua had gotten what they wanted along with something to drink and returned to their seats where they ate and had pleasant conversation with each other.

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