Badaim joins us again to discuss the orgin of Raziel: Keeper of Secrets and share a great story featuring everyone's favorite Lion Scorpion: Mardykhor.
Raziel is an archangel who is an important figure in the Kabbalah, a school of Jewish mysticism. Raziel has varying forms, depending on the tradition, and is sometimes depicted as a member of the Ophanim, which were described by the prophet Daniel as glowing wheels or whirlwinds covered in eyes that are said to guard the throne of God. Raziel is considered the Ophanim closest to God, earning him/her the title 'Keeper of Secrets' since he/she sits closest to God and writes all that is said and discussed.
It is believed that Raziel was the author of the 'Book of Raziel' which he/she gave to Adam after he and Eve were expelled from Eden so that they may find their way home. This angered the other Angel's as an affront to Gods will, and so they stole the book and cast it into the ocean. However God decided not to punish Raziel and instead sent the Angel/Sea-monster Rahab to return the book to Adam and Eve. Due to the striking parallels, this story is sometimes considered an adaptation of Prometheus from Greek mythology.
The book was then passed on to Enoch who then transformed into the Angel Metatron. From there the book was passed to Noah who used the book to build the ark, and then to King Solomon, who is considered one of the 48 prophets of the Quran.
After the destruction of Solomon's temple, a Jewish noble by the name of Daniel was exiled to Babylon, where he served under several kings as an advisor. While the veracity of many of his writings are disputed, they have found their way into all three major traditions. The books are split between a series of court tales and a number of apocalyptic visions. While he is most well known for the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den, his introduction of the concept of resurrection, as well as his interpretation of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (where a statue made of four different metals falls apart) are seen as a crucial influence for many religious traditions today.
Since there is uncertainty if he was even a real historical figure, there are several tombs for Daniel that are located throughout Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Morocco; and are favored by different traditions depending on geography or cultural presence.
Raziel and the Mardhykors Den
The thick canvas bag that draped over D’nyel's head amplified every other sensation that crossed his senses: the crunch of the gravel that grinded beneath the vehicles' tires, the filmy paste of bloody silt that smeared against his teeth, the buck of the ephemeral road’s careening coils, and the stench of the armed zealots who sat at either side.
'Some keeper of secrets, he couldn't even mask his treachery to the Empress!'
'Did you hear what this one was doing?'
'Blogging-spreading heresy to poison minds against Parsa.' The other zealot tutted sardonically.
'It is the Empress' and her ambition that has betrayed the people of Parsa. The tru-' a hardened fist erupted from the darkness and cracked at D’nyel's jaw to silence him.
'We are the truth out here, and the truth is that you will bow at the feet of your new goddess soon enough. El is dead my friend, and we will be more than happy to send you to join him.' The zealot's voice dripped with an imbued comfort only impunity could impart.
'...is not yours to judge.'
'So...they say you're a dream reader? That you can see the future, huh? Tell me: what do you see under that hood, prophet?'
'Can't argue with you on that one! I guess I'll just have to take your word for it! Maybe your infinite wisdom can help enlighten us of Raziel's plan since her expulsion, oh great prophet?
'I merely speak.'
'Ohh that's right. You don't know anything, do you?' Well, I bet you know one thing: I bet you know exactly what's at the end of this road, don't you?' D’nyel could feel the zealots jeering smirk through the mask.
'You think you're pretty smart, huh? Well, Ragnarok has come and gone. It was supposed to be the end, right? Yet, here we are. Out of those ashes and blood we have forged a new Empire, and it has no need for doomsayers like you stirring up trouble with whispers of its impending fall. This...fifth kingdom? You're more dangerous than any and every weapon we could carry in our arsenal.'
'You hide from yourselves, but Raziel sees all.'
'It seems to me like it's your rebel friends who are the ones that like to do all the hiding. Tell us where their hideout is, and maybe we won't notice an insignificant insect like you buzz out the window.'
'What you seek...is but your own shadow...and it will elude you just as easily.' Another fist crossed his chin with sadistic glee.
'Well I tried being nice, but this little bastard seems to like doing things the hard way. That's all right though: D’nyel could feel the zealot lean close to whisper in his ear. 'I love the hard way.' The others in the truck smattered chuckles behind their compatriots' assertion. 'Whoo! Looks like it's gonna be another long night boys and girls! Can I get a glory?'
'GLORY TO PARSA!!' The rest echoed in unison.
'Alright, alright, seriously now: one last chance prophet: if you can tell me what I'm holding in my pocket, I promise we might make it quick.' The other zealots did not struggle to stifle themselves.
'It is a thing...of so little use and stature...that it needs no mention.'
'Did he just say you have a small dick, bro?' The other zealots roared as the the questioning zealot's jaw pulsed in silence. He lashed out and seized D’nyel 's throat with a crushing grip.
'I had no idea Raziel saw fit to keep comedians as pets. what is it that he sees in you that we appear to be missing?' The zealot growled behind gritted teeth of injured vengeance before releasing D’nyel to bask in his sputtering gasps.
'Hey, easy with the asset! We still need to do some…"advanced interrogation”.’
'Raziel...has stood at the right hand of El since time immemorial, and was there by his side as he passed. With his final expiration, El shared with the Keeper one last vision. The last secret. Since it appears my time grows short, I am compelled to impart its nature, no matter how reluctant the audience.'
'Are you sure she'd be happy with you sharing that little secret?'
'The keeper of secrets does not deal in ignorance. That is a responsibility he has left with your Empress, along with his allegiance to her tyranny.'
'Well that's really too bad, I was looking forward to making you break. And you all always break. I guess I'll just have to try to be creative if I want to show you the full spectrum of my artistry. But, go ahead. And just so you know: this won’t change a thing.' The zealot nevertheless drooled expectantly as a hush fell over the bounding vehicle.
'Our world...is but a statue: a stagnant vestige of the old and passed.Immobile. Indifferent. Shiftless. It is posed in a stance of violent strength, but weathered cracks betray its frail and fractured composition.
It holds high up on its shoulders, a head of gold. Its face: masked with an expression of defiant arrogance to obfuscate its true form. Visionless eyes look to a vanishing horizon so that it may conceal its blindness. The head shines so brilliantly that it humors itself the sun, and its mimicry so convincing that even it believes its own falsehood.
A breast and arms of silver sit below the golden head, its ochre tarnish a vain attempt at imitating the golden head's mock brilliance. There is no heart that beats within, and despite being molded in the shape of fine armor, its soft nature easily draws and reveals injury. Its arms bear great weapons within its grip, but with no way to move, it merely holds them uselessly in futile menace.
A belly and thighs of bronze stand in hungry support, but a green copper tarnish reveals a sickened corrosion coursing from within. The tin and other traces, while rigid, are brittle and break under all the weight it has been forced to endure.
Then there are the legs of iron. While solid and strong it its stance, sanguine oxidation weakens the structure as it slowly feeds upon itself. Its unquenchable thirst an unwavering guide leading the lot toward its own demise.
Last are its feet…its feet...are of clay: raw and humble earth that has been enslaved to serve the ends of unworthy masters. It is from this base that the fragile alliance will crumble. Not due to ambitious usurpation from below, but from the simple nature of the clay’s mortal wane. But so long as the entire precarious composition remains rigid above a static earth, so too will the clay's subservience endure.
From a diminutive and unsuspecting stone, a great mountain shall arise from beneath the earth. Her rise shall shake loose the statues faltering rivets and bindings, thus returning the clay to its mother, and in doing so bring forth a fifth kingdom to stand upon the constructs' burial for eternity. This is the vision of the last word of El, and is the last message that Raziel delivered to the Empress before he was cast out.'
As D’nyel finished, an immense silence was revealed to have saturated the zealots. Only the apprehensive stirring of some of the more verdant recruits squeaked their seats.
'That's it?! A story about a statue?! That's what you've decided to die for?! A-HAHAHAHAHA! And...and I though I was dumb! AHAHAHAHA!' The other zealots chuckled along nervously but slowly fed on each others cautious assurances. By the time the vehicle came to a stop, their initial uncertainty had sublimated into genuine uproar.
'Grab the battery from the other car, we don't want to get stranded like last time.'
While a car battery does not have sufficient amperage to kill, that aspect can be considered a benefit or detriment, depending on the perspective. With the appropriate accessories, it can deliver hours of continuous localized current with minimal apparent physical damage, aside from minor burns at the points of contact.
It is often suggested that, when enduring extreme pain, it helps to draw one's focus to an unaffected part of the body. When pain is applied universally, an alternative coping strategy is to focus on something outside of it: finding a place in the mind to ride out the storm. As the current surged through him, D’nyel grew more and more distant from himself as he traveled down the dark tunnel that seeped down the edges of his vision.
Sequestered within that numbulous cloud, D’nyel did not expect to return for quite some time, so he was surprised when he felt the kiss of a warm glow eke a glimmer of brightness through his eyelids. As he opened his eyes, a miraculous feast steamed before him with a refreshing variety of glowing delectables wafting amorous odors too succulent to be mere illusions. At the other end of the table sat Raziel: fluxing between masculine and feminine form, with arms extended.
'Am I forsaken?'
'It never ceases to amaze me that even as I sit before you, doubt still predelects you mortal nature. I remember you when your name was Adam, when you were that trembling foal cast from the garden. It is strange to realize that my sympathy for you now flows deeper than it did then, as I too have savored that taste of abandon. Do you remember? Do you remember the book I gave you to guide you home?'
'And yet, for all it's worth, we still appear to be lost. It seems we are no closer now than we were that day. What books we bear now only carry blank pages, decorated with vapid filigree that entice distraction.'
'Such a luxury you mortals possess to be able to entertain such narrow spectra. While true my brethren have jealously stolen away these precious words, it was not before they were etched into your very heart; so that you may carry them with you across the amnesiating turns of the hourglass.'
'Then am I doomed to heave this burden across the ages for such a habitually ingrate assembly?'
'With what you know now, would you prefer to be among their gnashing throng? Stranded within that uncertain fog? As the scribe to your soul, I already know your answer; reluctant though you may be to admit it while within this transient state.'
'Then is my reward merely teasing mockery?' D’nyel gestured to the banquet that stretched between them.
'Do you really think, after everything, that your reward would be this...material?’ Raziel walked toward D’nyel, passing through the table and food. ‘Your reward still awaits, and is greater than any count of quantity that can be expressed. But...for now...your body’s caverns growl, and you will need your strength. We both knew what this would bring. I thought I at the very least I owed you this small degree of bitter respite; or would you prefer that I return you to humanity’s clutches?’ D’nyel glared at Raziel for a moment before diving ravenously into the banquet. Raziel continued to walk towards him.
‘I am surprised. You are usually quicker about this sort of thing.’ D’nyel paused mid bite before setting down a greasy chop.
‘Why will I need my strength?’
‘You have yet to walk your whole path. This supplement will have no effects on your material needs, but that is not where I worry you will falter. This is a meal that sustains the spirit, and you will need every ounce for the road to come.’ Raziel now stood in the dish of steam buns D’nyel had pawed apart. She leaned down and whispered. ‘With this blessing, take my breath, so that when you speak, it shall be the word that has been passed unbroken.’ Raziel pressed her lips to D’nyels, and exhaled.
D’nyel launched himself upright with a screeching gasp that awoke a dull pain that seared across his body. Torn tendons paired with what he was certain were a few broken bones we coaxed loose by the intense convulsions he endured. His unfocused eyes formed his surroundings into an enduned room with a barred window and iron door that spilled a blade of light from its foot.
The blade of light at the door broke in two, followed by a heavy clunk. The door crept open as a zealot poked her head in. She silently pressed her finger to her lips before cautiously looking over her shoulder. A billow of smoke, drink, music and revelry puffed into the room before dissipating back behind the closed door. D’nyel pushed himself back with his good leg feverently. The zealot raised her palm and drew a plastic water bottle with the other.
She knelt down beside him and raised his head so she could pour the water down his throat. His eyes would not leave hers, even as she looked away.
‘It’s...complicated.’ She finally lamented.
‘Is it?’ The zealot just shook her head, as she couldn't bring herself to find a more suitable answer. She pulled off one of her gloves and pressed her bare palm to his leg. A lapis glow fumed, pushing his pain aside.
‘That should be enough to take care of the worst of it, it should at least get you walking again. I crimped the fuel line on one of the trucks, they’ll all be too drunk to notice if you take the other and leave now.’
‘No...you have to...save yourself.’ The zealot arched her eyebrows quizzically and lurched her head back.
‘Don’t worry about me, I’ll make it look believable.’
‘That’s not...what I mean.’ The zealot squinted as she tried to forage through his crypticity.
‘If you stay...who you are...will not.’ She just stared at him in disbelief for a moment.
The zealot stood up and flicked open her folding knife. she reached behind D'nyel and cut almost completely through his bindings; just enough so it looked like the ropes still held. She folded her knife away and hugged him, before disappearing again behind the door.
from the window D'nyel could hear the hand break disengage. The truck's wheels stealthily popped against the road as it rolled away into the darkness. By the time the engine kicked over, it was faint enough to be shrouded by the desert's wind.
The zealot kicked the back of D'nyel's knee and removed the hood from his head, revealing a pockmarked wall streaked with crimson.
'Can you read the writing on the wall, prophet?'
'It says you're a coward.'
'What? This is what faith looks like, my friend.'
'This is not faith, it is only fear. You are so scared of being where I am, that you did everything you could to put yourself where you are. I am but one man. Yet you all stand here, with your false confidence, drawn from comfort of being able to hide behind each other.
But the real reason, the real reason I'm here: is because I remind you. I remind each of you of a choice you didn't have the courage to make. You hope that by burying me away, along with the truth, your fleeting memory may salvage a degree of dignity from your own judgement.'
The zealot’s pistol cracked.
D'nyel watched a puff of dust escape from the wall as his ears rang from the shot. The zealot gruffly grabbed him by his collar and dragged him to a massive folded tarp that hid several ominous lumps that blossomed brown splotches.
The zealot unfolded the rightmost corner to reveal a Shadhvar's horn. Beneath the next fold: a Broxa's wing. Then there were the severed heads: An elf informant's, an enforcer's helm, a Strigoi skull. A Ved'ma's eyes glowed red from behind a soaked blindfold; some witches were known to cast basilisk death spells on themselves before battle, so that they could still fight even after they fell.
Then the zealot pulled back the last corner of the tarp that concealed an immense mass to reveal a Mardhykor's head. It's glassy eyes stared vacantly at D'nyel. The zealot squatted down in between the two, as if to introduce them.
'Magnificent, isn't it? You know, this thing killed half my squad trying to protect its mate. That's what they all had in common: they all fought to the death. Now That...is something I can respect. Unlike you, speaker. They all made themselves worthy of being added to my collection. Do you want to know how I did it?' The zealot unslung a long swaddled object from his shoulder and gingerly pulled back the cloth with great caution and reverence. A glowing spear slipped from the cover. It looked ancient, but not a speck of rust or tarnish sprouted from its impeccable surface.
'We found it in the ruins of Solomon's Temple. You know what it is, don't you? The spear of Longinus. Do you know what would happen...if I actually touched it?' The zealots other hand quivered as he held it over the shaft. 'I would have a power that would rival the Empress herself, legions would follow my command without question as I rose up against her. But instead, I bring it to her as a gift. With it I shall sit at her right hand, as Raziel once did, and together we would bring order to this chaos.' The zealot closed his fist tightly and shook it at D'nyel. 'Now that...is faith.'
'If you pair your faith with fear, then one will disappear as soon as you lose the other.'
'Want me to show you fear?' The zealot waved a signal to the two cannon operators. The turrets slowly turned and pulled tight a pair of tow-cables that were affixed to the barrels. The cables dragged apart a set of steel plates that were hidden beneath the sand; exposing the maw of a massive pit behind them. From within, a mighty Mardyhkor roared as it hungrily paced and swiped at the edges with rabid lunges.
'It's been two weeks since we last fed it. See? We have learned our lesson from history too: camps and detention centers are bad for optics. While a much slower process, we have found this to be a much more effective and subtle method for dealing with undesirables.'
'Kill me if you must. I am but a man. Words of truth do not die so