by Mike Carey (updated 2-6-05)
To begin, as it were, at the end...
Lucifer Morningstar, the firstborn of Heaven and the lord of Hell, announced his resignation. He walked away from his realm and his role, giving the key of Hell to Dream of the Endless to dispose of as he wished. Then he moved to Los Angeles and opened a piano bar, called Lux, which he ran with consummate skill. It seemed that he preferred the dignity of disengagement to the shame of serving as an instrument in the realisation of someone else’s grand plan.
But this state of affairs was not acceptable to Heaven. Amenadiel of the Thrones, one of the strongest and sternest of the Host, visited Lucifer on Earth and put a proposition to him. There was a task which God wanted accomplished, and no-one save Lucifer could undertake it: it involved the assassination of a group of ancient immortals known as the Voiceless Gods.
Lucifer agreed to take on this mission, and demanded as his payment a letter of passage – a mandate signed by God’s own hand, which would allow him to leave God’s Creation and travel in the void beyond it.
The Voiceless Gods were duly slaughtered, and the Devil returned to claim his due. Amenadiel, with bad grace, handed over the letter.
But before using it, Lucifer travelled to Hamburg to obtain a divination from the Basanos, a living Tarot deck created by – and in the custody of – the angel Meleos. In the course of this encounter, the Basanos broke free from Meleos’s control, but Lucifer was still able to compel it to reveal his future. As part of that divination, he learned that the letter of passage was itself part of a subtle trap on the part of Yahweh: it had been constructed in such a way that it would open a gateway into the void once only. When it closed, it would close forever, leaving Lucifer exiled in the void.
Angered by this manipulation, Lucifer returned to Los Angeles, where he proceeded to tear the letter of passage apart – and through the power contained in it, to tear a hole in reality in the place where it had been. This hole (a gateway into the void beyond Creation) he welded open with the tetragrammaton, the letters of Yahweh’s name.
The whole tawdry business served mainly to galvanise Lucifer from his lethargy: to stir in him thoughts and ambitions long dormant, and to inspire him to a fresh rebellion against his father’s rules. In fact, some contend that this may have been the real point all along.
Lucifer began to assemble the requisite materials for an audacious design of his own. He journeyed to the afterworld of Izanami, the queen of the Shintoist after-life, and retrieved from her the wings that he had surrendered when he resigned as ruler of Hell. And along the way, for reasons not then apparent, he visited a twelve-year-old schoolgirl in London, Elaine Belloc, and saved her life in passing.
This encounter was far from fortuitous. The girl had forced herself on Lucifer’s attention by a farcical attempt to summon him – and once he had noticed her existence he realised that she was a clue leading to something else that would be of great use to him. For Elaine was the fruit of a grotesque experiment lasting for much of humanity’s existence as a species. She had a human mother, but the quickening seed was no human spermatozoon – instead it was a spark of the demiurgic fire, the creative force that birthed the cosmos. And the only place where such a thing might be readily obtained was from Lucifer’s long-lost brother, the archangel Michael.
Investigating further, Lucifer found Michael imprisoned in a micro-universe within a disused factory in North London – held there by another fallen angel, Sandalphon, who was trying to breed an army of archangels for a renewed assault on Heaven’s Silver City.
Sandalphon’s plan would have involved using Elaine’s ova to produce a further generation of archangels capable of breeding among themselves. But Lucifer over-ruled him and freed Michael from his captivity.
Michael was in agony, his body ruined by geological ages of torture and misuse. Lucifer promised him death and rebirth, which was a promise he could not possibly keep – within God’s Creation. As the vessel for Yahweh’s demiurgic power, Michael would release that power upon his death, causing a cataclysm so vast that nothing would be left of the material universe.
At this point Lucifer’s master plan stood revealed. He took Michael through the gateway that he had opened into the void – and it was there that he slew Michael and remade him. The immense, explosive release of energy created a new cosmos on the far side of the gate: a cosmos which Lucifer would own and administer. He invited Michael to join him in this enterprise, but Michael refused: he was still dutiful to his father and his father’s plan.
The birth of the new Creation caused a further deterioration in the relationship between Lucifer and Heaven. In due course Michael was sent to visit Lucifer and to inform him of Yahweh’s decree: that there could be only one Creation, and that the gateway must be closed. Enraged at this interference in his affairs, Lucifer instead split the one gateway into unnumbered thousands, spreading them throughout the world of men and the realms adjacent to it. From now on, he said, he was keeping open house – and those who liked not the rule of Heaven could find a new life in his Cosmos. He made only one; laid down one sole commandment: that those who chose to live in his Creation must worship no-one and nothing, not even him.
It was at this point that two enemies Lucifer thought he had left behind him re-entered his life. One was the Basanos, the living Tarot, now inhabiting the body of a human woman, Jill Presto. The other was Susano-O-No-Mikoto, the Japanese storm god, whose brothers Lucifer had killed during his sojourn in Izanami’s realm.
An alliance of convenience between these two foes resulted in Lucifer being deprived of his near-godlike power and brought to the brink of death. The plot hinged on two extraneous feathers woven into Lucifer’s wings by Izanami while they were in her keeping. At a crucial moment, when Lucifer was about to strike a killing blow against the Basanos, these tainted feathers awakened and absorbed the power of that blow, storing it within Lucifer’s own body until it burned him up from the inside.
The Basanos then declared themselves the rulers of Lucifer’s Creation – and celebrated their ascension with a mating dance. In Yahweh’s cosmos the living Tarot had been unable to breed: but here in Lucifer’s realm the rules were different. The hapless Jill Presto now became their unwilling tool for a second time, quickened with their seed and doomed to bring it to term.
But the Basanos’s celebration was somewhat muted, despite this triumph – because Lucifer’s body had been spirited away from the ice crevasse where it had fallen, and they were unable to confirm his death. In fact he had been taken into hiding by Meleos, the maker of the Basanos. Meleos had no great love for Lucifer, but he held himself responsible for all the harm that the Basanos had done. By intervening now to save Lucifer, he hoped to sabotage their schemes and earn some respite from his conscience.
Saving Lucifer, though, was not a straightforward proposition. The Morningstar was so close to death that the effort of will necessary to pull him back from the brink would probably be enough to expend the last of his energy and snuff out his consciousness forever. So Meleos found a way of sending Lucifer a little package of additional energy, in the form of the half-angel Elaine Belloc.
Being a Tarot, a divinatory tool, the Basanos had foreseen this moment – and they had done their best to prevent it by arranging for Elaine to die at the hands of Cestis, a demon from an earlier Creation. They had only failed because the archangel Michael had sent Elaine a protector, a fallen cherub named Gaudium. Even so, Elaine’s physical form was lying battered and bleeding in a London subway tunnel: in spirit form she entered the alien landscape of Lucifer’s spirit, and opened the way back for him, bringing him from death to life. In doing so, she herself made the same journey in the opposite direction.
So Lucifer was resurrected, but with no more strength, no more puissance, than an ordinary mortal. Even so, he was able through the exercise of his will and intellect to defeat the Basanos, and then to best the angel Amenadiel in single combat in the fields of Hell.
Then he set out to repay his debt to Elaine by finding her soul, now residing in the Mansions of the Silence, and offering her – as she had offered him – a second chance at life.
Things did not turn out so neatly. Lucifer found Elaine’s soul, and retrieved it, although in the process he destroyed the Mansions and the countless other souls that they contained. But Elaine refused to be reincarnated, choosing instead the role of guardian angel to Lucifer’s cosmos. And in the meantime, a new crisis had arisen as Yahweh chose this moment to abdicate and leave his own Creation forever.
Into the gap thus created, a great many beings of varying power and wit sought to step. The titans, Gyges and Garamas, despite their torpid intellects, were the first to realise the possibilities of the new order. By walking athwart the river of time, they succeeded in intruding themselves into the conceptual space that had been Yahweh’s, invaded the Silver City, and came close to destroying Lucifer with a Duinum, a toxic doppelganger created out of the memories of a human woman who had met him.
But Lucifer saw off the titans’ threat with the grudging aid of his brother, Michael, and for the moment order was restored. Shortly afterwards, an attempt by the demons of Hell and the demons of the diaspora to unite into a single horde and lay siege to Heaven’s Silver City was similarly thwarted.
These events made Lucifer profoundly mistrustful of the immortal beings who were living in his own realm. To avoid having to fight on two fronts, he evicted all immortals except for the Lilim and the spirits of Elaine Belloc and Mona Doyle, now the grudgingly accepted guardians of his Creation.
But it was gradually becoming clear at this point that Yahweh’s defection had touched off a crisis far more profound than the opportunistic schemes of demons and monsters. Yahweh’s divine name, the word that was spoken at the beginning of time to divide the darkness from the light, is written on every atom of his handiwork: it is the glue that holds Creation together. Now, with Yahweh himself no longer on hand to renew that making and binding, Creation began to crumble and the fabric of existence to unravel, without any help at all from outside forces.
At first, Lucifer felt that his own cosmos might be spared from the general dissolution – but Fenris the Wolf, the embodiment of destruction and chaos, was determined that the ruin would take in everyone and everything. Gathering his strength, he engineered a meeting with Lucifer, Elaine and Michael at the world-tree, Yggdrasil: a meeting which was to have the very gravest consequences...
© 2003-2005 Mike Carey
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