Chapter 1: The Vision of the Eleven
Atos looked into a night of entombed stars. From it came a cosmic raven with wings out-stretched, and nameless Immensities looming, titan scope, over a dying world. They shrouded the horizon of Tarasha Lehi, the home of Flame.
An immense mouth gaped, a spreading chasm of night. From it came a buzzing, like the frenzies of bees in a nightmare parade. A storm of machines exploded: flying, crawling, swarming, tortured and fused with seeing darkness and wreathed in spells that rot the light. They came, matter animated with spirits gorged with Death's milk, terrible weapons blighting Flame. Around them were the roar and stench of charging soldiers, twisted by slicing energies and burning machines driving flesh. Barely human, with minds empty of all but a terrible Will, they came on at unnatural speeds, their bodies chained to the word of the Six.
Next came rings upon rings of blood-drenched sorcerers. Standing on black flying machines, they chanted madness and waved their staves of rot and doom. They invoked curses, they hymned the Abyss, they twisted to inferno’s tunes. They drew upon their god and the nameless Presences of death, and hurled their wills against the retreating Border of Light. It was their moment, the day when the Eleven would fail at last.
Then came the great Abomination, the skyscraper of Hell. Carved out of a great Atlantean hill, and filled with numberless corpses compacted, it was the living temple of Moloch, the fallen god, now a demon and master of the Six. The Abomination floated forward, planted firm on vast slow-flying machines, its dark Blood-Eye feeding the army with ecstatic torment and shielding it with an energy mocking life; furious and rapid, yet suffused with the stench of cadaverous hilla. Thus protected, the army of the Abomination had overwhelmed the Towers of Flame and destroyed their Guardians.
In spirit, a Word was shouted, and a vast Flame fell. Atos’ spirit form became lightning pregnant with ocean fire as his storm songs surged. And reaching above, Atos called on the Eleven. Yet they were remote. The wide, august potencies native to their Plane were too far removed from the cramped and narrow confines of the ignorant Earth. Even in the land of their descendants, even in the being of their great disciple, they could not put forth their full might. The great Work had taken too long and now it was too late.
Nevertheless, Atos raised his staff, its tip a terrible blue-white star.
A huge Presence struck first, its Will unflinching and hatred cosmic. Fire rose and Darkness smite. Atos felt the Six combining, their wills one with the Will of their god. Claws of fierce flame leapt, gigantic swords of tearing doom. But Light exploded into Night. A divine eagle with eleven-hued wings rose up like a huge fortress of white flame. The claws were ripped apart like thin paper.
The eagle of the Word thrust into adamantine darkness hunting Prey, its victorious dawn spreading. Sweeping aside resistance, Atos’s spell stabbed deep into the Abomination and bound the huge Darkness with greater chains. The Blood Eye faltered, its fire smothered.
From afar, a diamond white staff was raised high.
A star-force besieged the Eye like an ocean crushing in; a Word foreign and ecstatic devoured from within. The Six faltered as their god, the son of Death, was eaten by ruthless Light. Chains of fire pulled, and for a while it appeared as if Moloch would be hurled, mortally broken, back into the abyss.
But only for a while. Not all of Atos’ power could force Moloch out or destroy him. The dark prince endured, though torn by luminous wounds that would never heal. He called on his slaves. The Six rallied, chanting mighty spells and summoning the Presences of Death. They came, looming, like clouds of claws, like a dead night full of eyes. They challenged the burning spirit wielding Flame.
The ancient fall of man fought his ascension. The primal sin wrestled first rising. Bloodshed of the Earth overwhelmed the dreams of peace. A burning continent, a burning city of the Tarasha, destroyed the triumph of the Light. Too little, too late was the goodness of man. Tenebrous claws ripped into the emissary of the Eleven.
A thunder of yellow Light and Atos was free. But the Blood-Eye flamed anew, its darkness resurrected. The eagle of Light became splinters quickly swallowed by overwhelming Night. Atos’ exorcism had failed. He withdrew, defeated. A monstrous laugh mocked him, echoed by a thousand Presences, immense and nameless revolving around a Nether God. Death would conquer; hell would reign. Tarasha Lehe would fall.
A great white desk of fine wood; many chairs, tucked into desks; a little library, with books neatly shelved. The evacuation was sudden, but the students had left their classroom in its usual condition. Order and beauty, Atlantean virtues, reigned here.
Atos smiled a little as he walked around. He could visualise the classroom as it once was, matching faces with desks, voices with silences, and lives with emptiness. As he turned a corner, splashed with light from the noontime sun, he found himself at a map of Tarasha Lehe, carefully pinned onto a wall. He stretched forth his fingers and touched Salem, the great fortress—the target of the Six. All the Towers of Flame had fallen, and the army of the Six was closing in. The surviving Guardians had gathered at Salem for a last stand. Part of Atos too, a portion of his being was there, feeding them light. But most of him was here, in this classroom, in the Academy. He will need all his Power for what had to be done.
He paused, concentrating within, musing on the sweet Flame that was always in him and above him. That, and only That was the real solution. Yet now, flame of another kind was needed.
He sighed, his hand slowly sliding from the frozen map. In a vast luminous peace, an ocean fire, he felt sorrow—stirrings of a Mother forced to slay her children. Turning away and raising his head, he looked out of the window. His classroom was in one of the Academy’s great towers. He could see Salem soaring, its diamond Fire adamantine and unyielding, its towers like brilliant swords challenging Night. Beyond that, he could see a starless gloom that ever grew. He knew what was there.
He turned back to his classroom. For centuries, he had taught here. Though revered as the herald of the Eleven and the father of the Guardians of the Flame, he had long ceased to engage in political or military work. He left that to the young ones. The Council was capable and wise, and given the circumstances, Tonfe and his commanders did an excellent job containing the dark Atlanteans. For himself, he needed peace and time to find a solution to the menace of the Six and the corrupted Stones. In addition, he knew that the future of Atlantis was ultimately fought and won not on the battlefields of Egypt or India or even Tarasha Lehe, but in the minds and spirits of her young. Thus, he became a teacher, taking a small class each year at the Academy.
Many of his students had become Guardians. Many of his students were out there now, preparing for the onslaught of the Six. Tonfe himself was at its walls. Many had also perished over the centuries, or had been corrupted by bloodshed.
Atos paused at the open door, looking around at the empty desks, hearing the voices and the dreams of long ago.
‘Farewell, old friend,’ he whispered.
Down at the Academy gardens, Atos paced quickly. He was headed for the library. The silence was broken by shards of bird songs, and then a swirl of electric breeze, a tantalising life. Next to an old cedar burst out a cackling blue fire fused with multi-colored clouds swirling, a large sky-blue eye with tendrils of cold light.
Atos silently greeted the school Intelligence as its radiance sparkled in the shadows of trees. Created centuries ago, its tireless consciousness animated the army of machines that swept the grounds, ordered the library, trimmed the grass, guarded the compound; it had performed its thousand tasks with perfectionist zeal, and it would continue forever though the school would never open again. Machine-like though it might be, it was sentient and self-aware. Yet it knew itself not as a separate individuality, but as a portion of the Flame.
‘It feels so empty.’
Atos nodded. He too could feel the void. For those who look with eyes of Flame, and not those of flesh, the Academy was always radiant, especially with the Fire of Wisdom, one of the Eleven Rays. The Elder Philosopher had made his home there, putting forth a portion of himself at this great seat of education.
‘Why remain at a place that is already of the past?” Atos asked.
‘ For I sense the setting of many suns: of death swallowing beauty - of an age in its death throes, of the footfalls of a new and perilous age. I feel the sadness of the Flame. And I mourn the corpse of an old friend.’
Atos nodded, eyes lost in forlorn time. He would miss the Academy, the great school of the Art. He knew nothing like it would ever be built again until perhaps a distant age—when Atlantis rose again.
‘Come with me. Your mission here is ended. And come with the Order if you wish, when this age passes.”
The Intelligence grew still, inward and contemplating. It seemed to muse on the Academy’s soaring towers of learning, its massive stores of knowledge, its numberless pillars that rose like eternal trees, uplifting the weight of Light that was Atlantis. Then the blue eye hovered near, gently looking at its creator.
‘ Teacher, I will come,” it said quietly. Across the campus, quietness spread as machines slowed and gently ceased. In one more corner of Tarasha Lehe, high works and sculptured symphonies began transforming into silence and dream.
As the Intelligence began to fade, withdrawing its presence from the school forever, it looked into Atos’ sadness.
“I remember the boy you brought from Egypt. His sacrifice will not be in vain—though I know this will not console you.”
The boy who became the terror of the Tarasha, a serpent and lion of the light, and the commander of the Order who now stood at the gates of Salem. Atos looked across the training field of the Academy, over scattered hard rocks, across time that stretched into a distant green. There he was.
Tonfe was ablaze, clutching a small round stone that housed a hidden sun. A shard of white lightning, a luminous crystal orb, hovered in front of his out-stretched fingers; his dusty robes, badly ripped, revealed flesh that tore the evening dark with diamond light. Tonfe turned to Atos and smiled, his lips fiercely curled up in fire, his eyes lost in killing light.
The boy had summoned the white fire for the first time. He was fifteen.
In another time, another space, a boy lay on a bed, eyes lit by curtained light. He murmured a song interweaved with the music of home-bound birds, songs riding on sweet winds that bring sleep. His palm, scarred and almost warm, rested on an ancient hand. Atos gently touched the forehead of the boy, whose eyes closed in unaccustomed peace.
Soaring above Salem, another part of Atos watched a large army of men and women dressed in seamless white robes. A man, grim and huge, was at their head.
The man walked towards the growing mist, head hung, arms drooping, eyes shining with grey dreams of brooding night. The low light of dusk revealed white and red: a smooth, thin linen of Atlantean white streaked with the blood of battles. He held his staff firm, but wearily.
He raised his palm, an ascending star.
In his reverie, Atos had arrived. He pulled back most of his consciousness. He looked at the massive domed building ahead, ringed by beings of stone, in various poses, often eccentric and awkward, manifesting the frozen presence of the first Melchis. Fronting giant pillars of sweeping stone lightning ringed by silver words, these statues rose from waters of flickering sunlight. Behind them, carved on a massive door, were sweeping golden lines celebrating the freedom of shining space. They blossomed into a vast silver-golden carving of the Tarasha, the eleven-hued Truth that crowns the arduous climax of knowledge’s climb.
Starlight burnt in Atos’ eyes as he neared the massive doors of wood and stone. He waved a hand--the door parted, revealing a vast cavern illuminated by peace. He walked deep into the air of the Tarasha, the library of the Academy, the home of a hundred thousand tomes. Here was knowledge accumulated over 10 millennia, and faithfully preserved.
He cut into darkness, into the fragrance of shadowy books and mysterious scrolls. The staff had taken what they could in their hurried flight. Yet much remained, including the most precious. To that, Atos was headed, moving on well-worn paths through a maze of shelves, his footsteps echoing into cavernous night.
He reached a door—though to all others, there was only a seamless marble wall guarded by two massive pillars. Atos raised his left hand and opened his palm. A soft glow spread outwards, elongating, stretching—then a sharp light was made flesh. Atos lifted his staff and pointed.
A groan and a heavy rumble of massive weights shifting, and the wall parted. Crossing over, descending into warm depths, Atos moved down white steps past walls of strange beauty: ships with great sails parting rippling waters of ancient stars; a landing near sharp mountains and steep cliffs; construction and mighty works of stone rising. Unlike the other hidden rooms of the Guardians, this passageway was free of traps and massive defenses. What was here needed no protection.
At the end of the passage way was a smooth white cloth emblazoned with a chalice of eleven feathers rising like searing ether flames.
Kneeling in heart, Atos entered the holy of holies, the heart of the Atlantean Fire on earth: the abode of the eleven master Stones.
In deep soul he saw the chalice of Flame,
With eleven feathers like rays of fire rising
From hidden heart to wide mysterious dawn.
A many-planed light revealing the worlds,
An integral gnosis, an infinite bliss,
The Flame where God is the knower and the known -
He saw the lucent Rulers of its rays,
Transfigured beings who were the Flame.
Seer-Poet of visioned ecstasy,
Master singer of eleven-hued Flame,
Divine speech in the guise of earthly tongues
Revealing the hidden infinities :
Epic echoes of high and flaming planes,
Sweet melodies of the winds of dream,
The pastoral musings of distant stars,
A sonorous drumming of a divine beat,
Evoking the deep unheard soul of things,
The music unfolding the hierarchies
Of the Gods of Truth and Power and Love,
A sacred singing of wondrous Ecstasy.
A Silence listening to the voice of Truth,
A seer of planes high, rhythmical and supreme,
Bright-flaming, wide and pure and still,
a moonlit lake shining with silent ecstasy.
A yellow-white occult Sun surged as
creation and destruction stood nude
in their lightning and miraculous modes.
Here was divine chemistry and the Art,
a mad pell-mell fusion and fission of
The hidden rays of spirit, mind and life.
A Knowledge - immortal, blissful, luminous -
Of the play of the layered universes,
The correlating harmonies of their laws,
their formulaic potencies and the master Words—
the divine Faces of Creation's apex
guiding the interlocking dance of one
same exuberant Consciousness.
A storm rage of compelling soul rhythms,
A song wondrous and wild, yet a movement
encircled and bound by Truth's fire ring.
Soul in its outbursts of truth and power,
Architectonic flames of divine bliss,
Soul-Will incarnated as potent chants,
the songs and insane magic of the Word.
He is the King-Shaman of the flaming skies,
Walker of the planes, mystic seer and Mage,
He who raised human speech to lightning wielded
By inner heart over infinite worlds -
the womb and bearer of the Atlantean gift.
Divine gardener, luminous Friend of life,
One spirit and dream with the plants of the earth,
Silent, humble, tranquil and compassionate.
Knower of the breath moving through trees and shrubs,
Seer of the souls of flowers and sweet herbs,
Love who nourishes, radiates and cares,
Channel of the forces uplifting nature,
Seer of light who makes the earth fertile,
Gentle power inspiring the souls of things.
His art inspires that hidden in seed:
Rich nourishing grains, medicinal herbs,
Aromatic spices, and trees fragrant and strong,
flowers' radiant lights and sweet perfumes
Revealing the marvellous soul of the world.
Tranquil joy looking deep into Nature's eyes,
A wisdom of sun and water, earth and wind,
An artist of nature's glorious harmonies,
A seer of life's radiant play with death,
A Knower of its miraculous destinies -
Harmoniser between man and nature,
He is the Lover one with nature's heart.
He sees, in an electric white-blue radiance,
an ancient figure, calm and wide-visioned,
Armed with the sovereign and seeing might of Mind :
A high force of an illimitable Plane,
A luminous driver of massive energies,
A grasp of power, a compelling force of truth,
A sceptre of Thought commanding the cosmos,
Empowering man to seize the springs of nature.
He wears the royal robe of transcendent mind.
He is the lightning charioted Thought of science,
A knowledge sea of algorithmic genius,
A seer of the laws governing the planes:
The whirling dance of matter's phantom sparks,
The evolution and flame patterns of life,
The luminous powers and seas of cosmic mind.
His Light one with the cosmic rhythms
a sight rotating equations multifarious
In a flaming bliss of sight and lucid joy.
High and austere, a fire of askesis
A sovereign and disciplined will of vision,
A creative net of lightning born from Above,
Meticulous in grand conception,
Mad in its waves and flames of ideas whirling,
careful in inventive construction,
A wild fission and fusion of forces,
He is the radiant creator of the Supreme.
Number's potencies and universal laws,
The multifarious properties of line and plane,
Logic-forged architecture revealed in light,
A view of the inevitable relations,
Blissfully clear in the pure white sight
Of the grandmaster of divine theorems,
the king of arcane austerity.
One with the occult mathematical Mind,
That greater reality, world architect,
The conductor of the music of the spheres,
The flame net Spirit of shining beauty,
The formative potencies unifying quantity and quality,
Where number and figure are the keys to all.
Around he sees the metered play of chance,
The ordered rhythms of chaos' dance,
The high seer lines and planes of vivid truth,
The symbol songs of luminous number,
The ineffable play of infinitudes,
The symphonies of truth bathed in Logic's flame.
He peers into problems insoluble,
His concentration absolute, invincible -
His lightning unravelling their hidden knots,
His royal precise touch, infallible.
Ocean white wisdom, mountainous and still,
Son of Knowledge, the elder philosopher and
Mighty one who sails the seas of thought
Capturing myriad Ideas in nets of knowing,
flame nets of ordered truth spanning infinity.
A glance that catches a universe of thought,
a bliss and flame of ideal vision,
Clear sight which reigns in lucent meditation,
He is the tower of white fire and far sight.
He sees the Knowledge and its inner flame,
He probes the high mysteries of the Good,
Imbibe the marvels of the Beautiful,
Climbs the flaming peaks of the Truth.
His thoughts echoing in the fields of sleep,
King seer of highest Self and Being,
The aloof immortal silence of the One,
Withdrawn in omniscient sleep above time,
The eternal, unmoving base of the Dance.
Knower of the transcendence beyond
Still and silent concentration's Fire,
Unveiling the omnipotence and being,
The sleeping Joy behind the whirling worlds,
A universe of starless ecstasy.
He is the philosopher seer who incarnates
highest Truths in webs of intricate thought.
Mighty gaze unifying a million theories,
He puts the All in one, the One in all.
Beauty and harmony, noble uplifted,
Royal and high, a craftswoman's eyes,
a queen of beauty and strong high tower of dream,
careful for harmony, perfect proportions,
Exact, meticulous, painstaking,
Enduring and focused, toiling for utmost
Perfection, a light flaming out a precious pearl.
A spirit fiery, filled with infinite passion,
Unerring perception and deep patience,
Seer of the beautiful soul behind form.
A fiery crystal vision of the innermost,
Incarnate in luminous forms of stone,
Soaring and majestic, high and massive,
Or small, fine cut, elegant sculpted songs.
Or she brings forth the hidden soul of beauty
In divine brush of color and line,
In flowing robes lustrous with inner flame,
In music's rippling seas and colored waves,
And rhythmic inevitable dances,
In crafts of exquisite eternal beauty,
A bliss, a weave, a beautiful face of
Her aspiration to universal Joy.
She sings her symphonies of Ananda,
Her sacrifice to universal beauty.
She is the supreme artist who brings down the Flame.
An ocean compassion aflame with grace,
A high priest fire, adoration's ecstasy,
An old man with deep eyes, star-fire soul.
Love that broods over all pain, a solace that knows,
An evening flute for the lonely heart,
A luminous bliss in the heart of pain,
A flood of sweetness over desert dryness,
a fire warm and pure like the hearth of home.
The firm clasp of lovers made wholly one,
The shining light of stars on Nature's face,
The warm glow of a child on motherly lap,
The kingly smile of beauty on a far Face,
The giving of self for Self in Truth's flame,
The high rising adoration fire leaping -
He opens the temple door to deepest Mystery,
He is the face of the King of Peace.
Ancient father and soul and king,
Nourishing touch and Truth force, kind and deep,
Wide grace and sweeping beneficence,
A mother's love and comfort and sweet care,
The kindness and grace of the heart of the Flame.
A massive warrior armoured in white strength,
A mass of force and heavenly courage,
A calm lion flame majestic and puissant,
He stood, a soldier of the divine law.
His heart fiery and immense and a sun,
rising in sacrifice to temple heights,
He is righteous discipline and calm control,
He obeys the Eternal's high command,
He flames with the joy of the straight and the true.
Mentor of generals, infallible strategist,
Spirit of vast war wisdom, subtle, deep,
A king wide luminous Seer of warrior fire,
Knower of the profound rhythms of the worlds,
Staff upraised and aflame with Truth's glory,
He enlists the elements in his cause,
He chants Titan- winged hymns that shatters the dark,
Lights a resurrection fire in death's cave,
Raises a Force transforming perverse pain,
And slays the angels of falsehood with Truth's flame.
A wall high rising around chosen souls,
A righteousness defending immortal Light,
An adamantine fortress unassailable,
huge power and subtle skill guarding Truth's home,
He is the primal Guardian of the Flame.
An heart deep and one with the mystery of Law,
A Force with fierce cleaving wings of clean light
Queen of wisdom and clear eyed justice,
A Woman flaming with the golden force.
One with the Truth that governs the cosmos,
Arranging all by Reality's ideas,
She embodies Maat, the divine Law,
The Force that brings forth the inevitable,
The Power that gives form to hidden truths.
A woman of illumined might and lightning fire,
She hews open the straight and direct path,
She lights the aspiration to the highest,
She obeys the will of evolution,
She embraces the mission of the Gods,
She toils for the divine manifestation.
An adept of the great work, selfless, surrendered,
A priestess of the great sacrifice,
the one who lights the mystic Flame of God,
The one who endures the toil and the ordeal,
The worker hard and deep fraught in pain,
Offering her all through the alchemic flame
Forging the divine Art and Revelation through
the hammer beats of the universe.