Daimon in Wonderland

Daimon in Wonderland...

"We rightly associate the idea of suffering with a state in which the opposites violently collide with one another, and we hesitate to describe such a painful experience as being 'redeemed'. Yet it cannot be denied that the great symbol of the Christian faith, the Cross, upon which hangs the suffering figure of the Redeemer, has been emphatically held up before the eyes of Christians for nearly two thousand years."

- C. G. Jung

In the last few minutes of my consciousness in the back of that stinking puke smelling taxi, while I had a hand viciously held to my side, I reached over and grabbed a handful of Dana's blouse. Not knowing if my vessel was about to die or not, I whispered to her several of the secrets I held within my head, uttering names, dates, occurrences which I had been privy to in the last ten years, some of which could save her, and others damn her. I knew if I lost my vessel I would be in Andrealphus's hands, and I would die slowly a horrible death lasting millennia. She was the last person I would be in contact with, she needed to carry the name of the Core and preserve the Principality, even if it only meant carrying the message onto someone else. At all costs, my mission, at this late date, could not end a failure, dead in the back of a taxi on US-23. I had sworn.

And then as my vision faded to black and I was using the last of my energy to push my will out of my hallucinating mind up to the Marches, I realized she hadn't understood a word. It had all been in Helltongue.

The wind whipped through my hair, and I stood in the shadow of the Tower. It's twisted effigy reached its arms to the featureless gray sky above me, a gnawing monster reaching for the empty heavens. In the shadow it was cool and dark, but there was an implication that something was lurking just around the corner, ready to reach out of my worst nightmares and become reality. I clutched my arms around myself, furrowed my brow, and bit my lip. Beleth's Tower strikes fear into all those who approach it.

Behind me were the black huddled shapes of dark encamped armies, holding back and licking their wounds. Shapes, too far away for me to pick out individuals, patrolled at the borders of small clutches of tents and supplies. In the eternal gray light, the encampments looked like dark hulking masses, seething with tentacled life, small rodent like beings crawling over their surface of the darkened mother creature, giving way to hideous spawn. I didn't need to go there.

I looked out into the Vale of Dreams, and my breath caught. I closed my eyes against the wind, and held myself tighter. No, it wasn't true. None of it was true. I was only wildly hallucinating, a product of my wound. But I lied to myself.

I ventured out from beneath the shadow (come in under this red rock) and walked among the gray sands, soaked black from the let blood and clinging to my shoes, kicking up to stick in globs to my jeans. As far as I could see, infinitely to the horizon, lay the crumbled, fallen corpses of dark twisted creatures, faces contorted into the last moments of agony as the killing blow struck. The bodies of my comrades, my creatures in arms, littered the landscape, their lives pouring out onto the ground and soaking the hot sands with the black ichor.

I stepped carefully between the outflung limbs, watching the sands cling to my pant legs. A twisted corpse here mangled beyond recognition, a headless body there, another creature left in a pile of unrecognizable morass. On the edges of my vision I saw clutches of creatures moving through the bodies in the slow tentative path of the searching. There were the Ethereals, fearsome nightmarish wasted hags who were claiming weapons for their own to better prepare themselves for their own battles. A small group, picked out against the horizon wearing Baal's colors, searched carefully for survivors to take back to the encampments, patch up, and set back on the front of the battlelines for another day of ceaseless war. The black cadaverous demons, their cackling carried on the dank winds, stopping to scavenge and feast among the dead bodies, filling themselves with the already decaying forms, cannibalizing their comrades and friends. The midnight blue suited beings walking through with clipboards, serious looks upon their faces as they took down notes to later add to their carefully crafted nightmares. And all took no notice of me.

And I wondered, is this my side of the War?

I looked down at the bodies at my feet, and felt an upwelling of sorrow amidst the fear, very possibly the only being in creation to feel sorrow for the fallen bodies of the damned demonic hordes. Yet until recently they had been thinking, feeling beings who had, at some level, believed in their cause as I believed in mine. They had come up to fight in a pointless battle, one they could not possibly win, because they had been ordered to, and this was the way of their existence.

My eyes caught a glimpse of fine, well spun emerald among the hard black and silver and red. My heart caught, and quickly I made my way, tripping over bodies and equipment. I knelt down, in the black soaked sand beside the body, and gathered it in my arms. I knew her name. It had been Iesaia, and she had been my Sister. We had spoken more then a few times. She defended her choices as vehemently as I defended mine. Until a few hours ago, she had be alive. I bowed my head and cried.

When the tears were gone and there was nothing left, I lay her back down on the sand, and ran my hand over her eyes, shutting them forever. I reached over and drew her cloak over her body and covered her.

I stood, and walked my way, head bowed, into the desolate wasteland between the Towers and the realms, knowing I wasn't much of a demon anymore.

"I understand what you want from me, you motherfucker!" I screamed up to the sky as I walked in a wavering pattern across the gray sand. My mind wandered in and out between agony and wakefulness, a product of my failing consciousness. I was beginning to move between my own dreamstates and the tenuous contact with the corporeal realm. "I understand now! I get it now! So let me out of the goddamn geas!"

My words echoed back to me across the empty expanse, filled with nothing more then the bodies of the damned and the wordless spinning dreamscapes. The madman made his way across the desert, and that madman was I.

The poem echoed in my head...

I muttered at the gray sky, for there was no one else to listen. And nothing but emptiness replied.

Don't be so melodramatic, Daimon...

The quiet, sensible female voice echoed inside my head. My own voice, full of reason, patience, knowledge, ruthlessness.

Shut up, I hissed at it. I don't need you anymore.

Listen to you, my own voice continued. Full of guilt and fear and your own masochism. You could have been a powerful force in Hell, a real power behind the workings of the cosmos. And look how far you've fallen, groveling in the dust for repentance.

"Shut up!" I fell to my knees in the sand, and clapped my hands over my ears. "Shut up, shut up!"

You would think you were becoming one of them. Do you really, honestly believe that they will take you in and love you? What happened to your strength of mind? Your strength of conviction?

"I don't need you anymore!" I screamed. "Shut up! Go away! I'm not you anymore!"

You're not searching for your soul, or even redemption. You're just searching for comfort.

I bent down, my forehead pressing against the wet sand, and squeezed my eyes tightly against the harsh tears. "Go away! Go away! Go away!"

Do you really, honestly believe that there is this one magical act that you can perform that will wipe away your entire bloody history? There is one thing you can do that will make it all just 'okay'?

I sobbed into the sand.

God is dead, Daimon.

I shook my head. No... no... untrue. "I need God! I need God!"

Just pull yourself together, for god's sake. You're making a spectacle of yourself. You don't need some sort of neurotic crutch to get you through life. Just think what you could be if you threw it away and came to term-

I pulled myself to my feet and spread my arms and screamed.

I don't remember wandering into the angelic camp. I just opened my eyes, and I was there, no longer walking among the corpses and the black soaked sand. Few stopped to take notice of me, even the dark winged Malakim whose heads were bent to task. I wandered, feeling vacant, mad, lost, and alone, among the hustling bodies. I clutched my arms around my chest, bowed my head, and allowed myself to be buffeted between the bodies. In my vessel, dark haired and wild-eyed, I was just another celestial among the thousands. No one would know what I was. Not even me.

I stopped and stared up at Blandine's tower, casting its own shadow among the camps, a darkness as dank and fetid as the one I had stood in on the other side. Both sides of the War, moldering, falling into the same cycle of disbelief, forgetting why they were here in the first place. My eyes floated to strange sights that I would not have dared earlier in my lifetime, the wall surrounding Heaven, the hulking shape of the volcano. I wondered, faintly, what it looked like on the other side of that wall. But that was not for me.

I wandered, mindlessly, between the open tents. Within came the empty hopeless moaning of the wounded, and the tight faces of the attending, as they looked down upon the dying with the knowledge that this was simply another being they could not help out of the many. Outside on pallets were those who would survive to see another day, but made weaker by their blows. Stained bandages wrapped around stumps, heads, seeping wounds that would heal, in time, horribly scarred. I stared down in a pained pity, feeling more for those would survive then those who would die, for those who lived to see another day would live with the pained memories of falling. Much like those on the other side, without the barred scars on their souls.

"My god," a voice came from my shoulder and just behind. "You're bleeding! You have to let me take a look at you. Are you one of those Creationers who were let free? You certainly look like one. Oh, this is a terrible wound in your side."

I turned slowly, and looked down upon the unbearable beautiful angelic form, who stared up at me in an anxious need to assist. I extended my resonance, and felt her mind. I knew she had a certain need to look at my wounds and remove any pain that I was feeling, but there was an undercurrent of Need to bring about peace and love and happiness and see this fighting end. I reached out a gore coated hand to stroke her flawless white cheek. She flinched back, and looked at me with confusion in her eyes. "It's in my vessel, back on Earth," I said in a distracted manner. "It's okay, really."

She looked momentarily confused, and then she took on a look of concentration. I put my hand over her mouth before she let out a scream. I slipped behind her with a deft step, leaned forward, and whispered into her ear, "I'm not here to do anything to hurt anyone, you can have my promise. Now, if I take my hand off your mouth, will you not scream?" I looked around for anyone watching me, but I had so far drawn no notice. She nodded once under my hand, and I removed it from her mouth. She pulled in a gasp. "Okay then," I said as I leaned backwards.

"You're... you're..." she said, as she squirmed around to take a look at me.

"I'm not what you would expect," I said as I let her go and took a step back. "And everything you assume."

I turned from her, and started heading deeper into the camp. I could here her footfalls as she ran for help, but it was beneath my notice. She was not why I was here.

My eyes roved, looking for something, I didn't know what. I had no idea what it was I intended on doing. I was a madman, with dark staring eyes and uncertain purpose. It was onto a pile of crates I climbed, standing unsteadily upon the top one, staring out over the top of the camp. The army spread into the horizon on both sides. Below me, people walked back and forth, preoccupied with their own lives, a few shooting me curious looks as they passed. I was just another mad celestial busily trying to remember a few stanzas of that all important poem, or how exactly that certain piece of music went.

I settled down to sit on my perch, my legs hanging over the side of the wooden crate, hands in my lap, staring out at the angels as they moved quickly, back and forth to the beat of their own needs and desires. Sometimes I resonated on them, sometimes I just watched. I have no idea how much time passed, or how much time was passing on Earth. I just know that I needed to watch, and so I did.

Finally I spoke, out loud, over the heads of the beings tarrying below. "When you think about it," I said in a distracted way to nobody at all, "the evil and cruelty of others becomes our own evil, because it kindles something in our own hearts. Anger, fear, hatred, it all comes from perceived wrongs inflicted upon ourselves. It becomes our own downfall." I paused, and looked down among the crowd as they bustled past to someplace more important. "You know, Christ said, 'But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.' But no one has ever listened, for if we did, then the dead would still be living, and we would not need to hang our heads and mourn for our lost brethren. As little as we accuse Christ of fraternizing with evil, so little should we reproach those who love the sinner who has made a pact with evil, for to love one is to make one better, to hate is to drive one further to the pit." I had no idea if I was referring to the combat with the Dominicans or with Hell. In the end, I decided, it didn't really matter much.

I watched the angels pass before me. A few muttered angrily under their breath, "crazy creationer" and moved on to their duties which led them elsewhere. A few others shook their heads sadly for the poor confused being who sat up on the crates and spouted gospel. And some stayed to listen, wondering where I had come from and why I was speaking to the faceless crowd who was busy with the machinery of war. Just another wild eyed prophet come in from the desert.

I thought of the urge I had on Earth, sometimes, to stand on the edges of large statuary dedicated to dead warlords and long passed criminals against humanity, and spout randomly created poetry. Would anyone come to listen? Would anyone care, other then the pigeons eating crumbs at my feet? Would anyone remember me as they passed on into their lives?

I stood unsteadily on the boxes, and turned my eyes up to the sky, arms out from my sides. The wound at my side began to bleed afresh, and my vision wavered momentarily, sending my spinning head into darkness. I blinked my eyes clear.

I spoke down to the crowd, "We will never be beyond good and evil, because we are subject to moral judgment. The more we experience, the more tangled and confused our judgment becomes. Eventually, we are forced to throw our morals out, or else we will find in the future that the wrongs we have thought or committed in the past will plague us. But if we are forced to consider this within ourselves, are we in the right when we force such issues on our brethren? Should we kill them for the wrongs they too have committed in the past, evils that are only based on our subjective criteria of good and evil? Is it our right to make war on those who are our kin, for only to support a campaign of righteousness?" A little psychology, a little theology, and I wondered what exactly it was I was talking about. I simply assumed it was the geas talking, not I. I would never say things like this. I was calm and rational.

I stared down at the crowd, and the set of beings who were pushing their way through to me, heavily armed. Three, four, five, mostly Malakim with their large wings outstretched and their chains of oaths rattling heavily against their armor. I thought darkly it was humorous that they needed to send multiple armed soldiers to destroy one small demon, wounded and weak. I supposed, in their uncertainty and their fear, they needed to be thorough. Behind them came another being, thinner, stronger, carrying the weight of authority.

"Daimon," the being yelled out with a voice laden with exhaustion from under his gore splattered armor, "What the hell are you doing? Is this some sort of weird prank? Because if it is, it's not funny."

I looked down at him and grinned a wry grin. "No Rigziel. I don't know what this is. I think I may have lost my mind."

"Come on, Daimon," the Seraph said, his hand outstretched, "come on down from there. We can go and talk about this."

I smiled down at him, one of those weird sad smiles where I knew a secret I couldn't share even if I wanted to. "Rigziel, have you ever wondered about the wall that surrounds Heaven? Have you ever wondered if it is designed to keep us out, or to keep you in? With your guards and your laws, have you ever once questioned?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" the Seraph yelled up to me.

I grinned, shrugged, and stepped back unsteadily on the crate, avoiding the guards who wished to pull me down. "Have you ever heard the old Rabbinic maxim, Rigziel, that God cannot see the righteous, for he has hidden them under his throne where he cannot see them?"

As the Malakim started to pull down the crates I looked up over the crowds and the tents, and noticed a decidedly larger, more important presence making its way through the crowd toward me. A hand brushed my ankle, taking with it some of the black splattered sand from the Vale. The crowd murmured in nervousness, the few who had chosen to stick around, and some decided that now was a good time to make their escape.

I saw out of the corner of my eye a form standing there on the side, mingling and almost lost among the crowd, a strange small smile on his face. A man, with the long pony tailed hair, wearing his tasteful tie dye and khaki pants. I tried to hate him, but I couldn't. All my hate was used up. I had run through my allotted supply for my lifetime.

I turned around, and leapt off of the crates. For the one small moment I hung in the air, I wondered if I would fly, or if I would fall, or if I would find myself impaled on one of those many weapons racks, my blood dripping down and coating the shafts of the spears in preparation for an early attack. And if any of those were true, would anyone care?

My world turned black as I forced myself out of the Marches long before I discovered the answer to my question.

In my pain and suffering, I dreamed I was in the Cathedral with the vaulted ceilings and the twisted, writhing Christ on the cross. Before me on the podium stood the huge book, and it was sealed with seven seals. I ran my hands over the cover, fingering the inlay. I did not look up, even as I heard the footfalls slapping against the marble floor.

"There is no end," I said. "There is only Hell, and it goes on for eternity."

"There is an end," he replied. "And it starts with pain."

"I will not end your pain!", I shouted in my anger. "It is not my place to end your personal purgatory!"

He fell silent, and then laughed, the harsh desolate laughter of the damned. "My pain? I thought we were discussing yours."

I kept my head bowed, and realized it was only a dream. "Maybe they're the same."

"Maybe. Maybe I am only the form that your consciousness has chosen to take," he said with some mirth in his voice. "Allegory and all that, you never really can tell."

I fingered the book. "But why do I keep feeling like I'm sliding back to Hell?"

"Because it is where you belong?" He chuckled. "Because you revel in your masochism? Because you have this driving need not to be alone, and it's killing you? Those are my guesses, but what do I know? I'm just a latent hallucination."

I fell silent. "I need my mysteries. I need my terror. I need to know God. Is it what Kierkegaard said? We can never know, we can only believe?"

"Break the seals, Daimon," he said to me.

"No," I answered. "It is not my place to end your suffering." I lifted my hands off the book, and stared up at him. And he laughed and laughed and laughed.

I stared at the dome of the ceiling as the darkness began to fill the enormous chamber. Large cracks formed in the walls, and the stained glass began to twist and churn and change. The statuary took on a decidedly darker cast, changing from saintly visages to empty eyed corpses staring out over the aisleways, mourning their lost life and eternal damnation. The light dimmed from the bright white of the day to the blood red cast of Hell. The flowers strewn between the pews rotted, crumbled, and left empty husks. Christ began to bleed. Darkness, forever.

"But it is my place," he said, "to continue yours."

And all I could think of, all those years of service, my dedication, my entire life. It's a lie, it's a lie, it's a lie....

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.