Temp de Tav, Ters de Tanen
Esau ran and ran, the morning became afternoon and the afternoon was near its end and still no signs of the army but the footmarks on the soil. And the deeper he goes through the land, the more alien it becomes. Ever since Esau entered the valley he’s running on, what he could see in the midst of the mist was that the plants were as mobile as the animals, the animals themselves were misshapen abominations with no semblance to any other in Eretsaphir, the air is thick one could almost swim in it and the water on the little brooks has become as bitter as absinth. But the most worrisome of all is the constant white noise that sings without any wind, which makes Esau unsure if the incomprehensible landscape is starting to damage his sanity or the Malakeben themselves are whispering in a language lost to time.
As the sun sets in the west, Esau drops on his knees from exhaustion and stays ducked for a couple of minutes until he gets on his feet. Sure, his Word of Asiyah being Stamina helps, but his resolve is the main reason why he keeps running to an unknown place. To defend his people, to be a warrior of legend, the dream is so close he can almost grasp it. Closer than he thought, actually, since a couple hundred meters away is a cliff leading to a basin where the High Temple of Tav hid. Esau can’t believe his eyes, the Temple is as big as a metropolis, mostly because of the gargantuan size of its structures, being the main building a monastery that makes Litholeukos look like a bump in the road. However, there’s no sound emanating from it except the white noise, which only seems to be intensified, nor any sign of the army.
After descending from an earthen ramp that connected the valley to the basin, he stares with awe its entrance, an eighty-four meters tall diamond arch shaped as the letter of Tav, with all the letters representing the Malakeben, from Aleph to Shin. Nevertheless, the mighty wolfram gates of the monastery being closed are even more surprising. It was as if the army never made it here, what’s going on? He carefully treads towards the door and, when he reaches it, he touches it and it instantly recoils to the hollow spaces on the sides, revealing an empty nave entirely composed of strange metals and diamond, giving it a rather synthetic and cold appearance, accentuated by the lack of benches and any imagery coupled with the ridiculous dimensions of the nave, to the point of both the ceiling and the altar on the other end of the nave being small to the eye. The white noise no longer is, since the loud levels reveal that one of Esau’s assumption was true, it’s a melody sung in words he couldn’t understand, but the tone suggests both to explore the temple and to leave it at once and, more eerily, it seems to come from every direction.
As he approaches the altar, also made of wolfram, he notices there are three doors, on right in front of him and two to the sides. There are also sculptures in the only stone visible indoors in front of each lateral door. They’re shaped as coffins laid upon a low table and on top of them rest figures reminiscent of Daemon, a female on the left and a male on the right, lying on the coffin as they would within them. Esau approaches the female one and notices that the feet of the table are four chimerical figures that seem different composites of an eagle, an ape, a bull and a lion meshed together, along with minutiae on the sides of the coffin repeating the same three figure pattern over and over again. Esau inspections the male one and notices differences in the feet and sides of the coffin, being the feet an eagle, an ape, a bull and a lion, perfectly intact in terms of morphology, and another three figure pattern, but with different figures. Could the patterns be the names of someone these coffins are representing? And why would they be here in the first place, clashing visually with the rest of the nave? Unfortunately, Esau did not have the time or the sapience to solve this riddle, so he walks towards the frontal door and taps it and it opens like the first one, but this time the sight is very different.
Blood and guts and dismembered limbs and decapitated heads and lonesome torsos and corpses decorate the halls. Corpses after corpses after corpses after corpses, Esau’s blood freezes and his bowls boil and his throat can’t contain the acidic horror brewing in his stomach and he vomits and he stares away from the necrotic orgy. Step after step after step after step, his mind only sees the purple of the mangled flesh, his mind only smells the foul stench of death, his mind only hears the splashing blood from under his feet, his mind only tastes the iron of the blood coming from his sinuses, his mind only feels the hollow seat where his heart once was.
DEATH IS EVERYWHERE!!!
Where is Sathariel Lucifer?
Where are the Malakeben?
Is there anyone alive?
He loses his mind and wanders aimlessly through the monastery, only to find more cadavers until he finally found sounds of clashes and explosions in the distance. Running like never before, he finds a dark fume obscuring one of the massive corridors to witness Sathariel’s body being thrown out of the fume, treated like a damaged rag doll. Before Esau could react to such a gruesome fact, six giant, fiery eyes pierce through the smoke and gawk Esau, making him feel like he met his perdition and that every cell in his body sublimed under the fire of the gaze of Shin, the Judge of Æons, deemed the most powerful of all Malakeben.
: Why are you here, Esau?
: Wha- how do you… I, uh-
: To be one of them? It leaves me flummoxed that your kin, the Daemon, is so keen to devour each other. And, if that fact wasn’t shameful by its own, the fact that the big names devour the little names. If it were the other way around, many of the little ones could devour a single big one, but a big one has to devour by the tens, the hundreds, the thousands, even the millions. Such a thing is alien to reason, considering you’re all of the same descent and of the same land. Mind you, Esau, that all these corpses were already devoured before they stepped in this temple of holy. The lawyers ate them for their written wills; the banks ate them for the taxes of keeping the goods intact; the smiths ate them for their weapons and armors; the doctors ate them for their good or bad health; their creditors ate them for unpaid debts; their heirs ate them for the goods; and, the most gluttonous of them all, Sathariel Lucifer ate them for an ephemeral dream. Poor corpses, not even the tip of the tongue of my fellow Pe, the Devourer of Souls, reached them and they were already consumed. Do you want to be devoured that badly, Esau?!
: No, I-
: Then why do you want to please Lucifer so eagerly? A big name that wasn’t satisfied with his rule of eating the people, the little names, one by one or a few. No, he only met satisfaction when he ate two millions in a single bite and thought that such injustice would be tolerated and unpunished. He thought that, for being one that devoured, he wouldn’t be devoured. He thought that, in our absence, he could go astray from the words left Æons ago. He was wrong. And you? Aren’t you satisfied? Don’t you have enough people eager to devour you? Don’t you see the hollowness of Lucifer’s hunger? Or are you so accustomed to all the devouring of the mortals you can’t think of another way of sustenance?
: My melech
wasn’t selfish! He was good!
: Such ignorance. He dressed the lure in such wondrous concepts of freedom and self-worth that everyone bit, including himself. To be willing to give up your own life for measly bait, you’re nothing but a gullible fish on the wrong end of the fishing pole. A fish willing to call one of his creators a liar to hang on the deadly hook. May this bloodshed be a lesson to you and all of your kin: don’t forget that we created you to consume for sustenance, not for gluttony, and we’ll stop you from dooming yourselves as a populace. Leave this place at once if you value your life and make sure everyone learns the lesson. However, know that, at the end of this day, you shall know the consequences of your devouring. Away with you, mortal!
The fume turns into a large, moving wall of fire*, forcing Esau to flee from it without having a chance to fully rationalize what’s happening. Unraveling the labyrinthine halls, he reaches the nave, in time for the wolfram door to close and save him from the fire. However he doesn’t stop running, what drives him now isn’t resolve, it’s absolute terror.
*Asiyah’s Word of Fire: The Pyre of Gehinnom