The spirit world is real…very real. In many cultures outside the Greek thinking west they know from experience that all events in the physical world have their origin in the spirit world.
This story is riveting, to say the very least. It is a very short fictional story of the Watchers from Genesis 6 who took human wives and mated producing a race of giants based on the Book of Enoch. But in my opinion this story is as realistic as any story I’m ever read. I could not put it down.
The physical remains of these giants have been found on most every continent, and that fact has been effectively covered up by lying authorities for centuries. Why is that? Well, we know, do we not, beloved!
Many in the western church refuse to give credit to Enoch’s book even when his book is quoted verbatim (1 Enoch 1.9) in the inspired book of Jude.
Jude 1:14-15 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Jude also describes a bit earlier the banishment of the fallen Watchers due to their sin of taking the wives and abandoning their eternal domain.
Jude 1:6-7 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Enoch is not the only apocalyptical book quoted in the Bible. The Book of Jashar is also mentioned.
Joshua 10:13-14 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.
You may download a modern translation of The Book of Enoch here. The true story of an angel that protected a Florida family from sheer disaster in the California mountains from a hard-core motorcycle gain and captured on film is here.
Fall of the Watchers
– by Karyn Henley…based on The Book of Enoch, 220 BCE – 100 CE; Angel Legends Series
The characters in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental. You may purchase this short ebook here.
Semjaza lowered and folded his wings slowly to avoid disturbing the early morning river mist and the dark figure crouched on the other side of the water. “Is she the one?” he murmured.
“And her sister.” Azazel nodded toward a second figure swaying downhill toward the river’s edge. The maiden’s feminine voice drifted across the water in musical tones.
The crouching girl laughed and stood to her feet, hoisting a jar to her shoulder. The mist swirled.
Azazel nudged Semjaza and whispered, “I would be hard pressed to say which is more beautiful.”
“Many things are beautiful seen through a fog.” Semjaza turned and strode away from the river. “We’d best not be caught lingering. Not for this purpose. It’s forbidden.”
“Why?” Azazel’s soft footsteps rushed to catch up.
“Because we’re Watchers. Guardians. Protectors.”
“I know what we are. The question remains: Why is it forbidden?”
Semjaza lengthened his stride, his hands in fists. As captain of the Watchers he could have partnered with anyone. He had chosen Azazel to spare the others from dealing with the sharp-nosed angel, who sniffed out compromising situations and always pushed the limits. Semjaza had thought he was strong enough to counterbalance the weight of Azazel’s seductive reasoning. Now he was not so sure. Somehow Azazel always sensed his partners’ weaknesses. He had found Semjaza’s.
Azazel’s voice came at his shoulder. “You know the next camp will hold more of the same. We are free to choose, are we not? Why not take a wife from the children of men? Why not partake of the same pleasures as the humans we protect? Why not produce sons and daughters of our own? They can dwell here, safe under our watch.”
Semjaza whirled to face Azazel. “Do I look like the Great Am? Do you think I’m so holy and omniscient? How should I know the answer to these questions?”
Azazel clenched his jaw and snorted but kept his peace.
All day long the suggestion plagued Semjaza like an itch. By twilight he stood on the outskirts of another camp, once again watching young women draw water from a lake. Azazel leaned against a tree trunk, his arms folded, making no effort to cover his interest in the women and his scorn for Semjaza’s reticence. Semjaza rubbed the corners of his mouth. His shoulders were tight, and his gut was churning, clear signals for him to turn away. In fact, he was halfway turned already. Still he gazed at the round-faced maiden. She was a feast for the eyes. Only for the eyes, he told himself. One moment more and he would move on.
As Semjaza hesitated, the maiden looked his direction, searching the woods as if she were looking specifically for him. Although he knew he was hidden, he held his breath. Dark eyes, smooth olive skin, a tall, shapely form.
Azazel leaned in, this time whispering not why but, “Why not?”
A shadow, winged and silent, descended through heavy gray clouds into a cleft between snowy mountain peaks. Moments later another followed. Then another. One at a time the Watchers sank through the murky billows and emerged in a rocky clearing at the tree line.
From a boulder under a frost-laden cypress, their captain, Semjaza, noted each arrival. Harakiba in his midnight blue, Rameel in brown, sleek Kokabiel, dark Tamiel. Camos strutted in from the downhill side, Dael and Ezeqeel from the woods. Qijal dropped from the overcast.
Azazel was already there, having been the first to arrive. Now he personally welcomed each angel with a grin, a handclasp, a pat on the shoulder, or a whisper in the ear. He had invited all eighteen leaders, and Semjaza could see his eyes counting them.
Gadarel climbed down the rocks. Lasam strode in with Maros. Batarel arrived. Vanael, Zaqiel, Orsa, Naret, Yuriel. Their murmured conversations simmered with energy. Chariel descended and shrugged apologetically, late as usual.
Semjaza tapped his fingers on the boulder. He had expected some to refuse Azazel’s invitation, but all of them had come.
Azazel cleared his throat, and all heads turned his direction. “You know why we’re here.” They nodded. “Is everyone in agreement?” Again they nodded. He swept his arm toward their captain.
Semjaza narrowed his eyes. “This is not your first meeting on the subject, is it?”
Some exchanged glances. Others shifted uneasily. “This is our first meeting with you,” said Azazel.
Semjaza rubbed the corners of his mouth. Even now he could change the direction of the discussion. But first he should find out how far they had gone. “You leaders agree,” he said, “but what about the Watchers under your command?”
Dael squared his shoulders. “Mine are set on finding wives among the children of men.”
“As are mine,” said Batarel. The clearing rippled with smooth, confident voices, each leader committing his band of ten.
Semjaza caught the eye of each angel in turn. Were they serious? No one avoided his gaze. “What happens if you back out?” he asked. “What guarantee do I have that you will not leave me to pay the price alone?”
Azazel peeled bark from a sapling. “Each of us will swear an oath and bind ourselves with mutual curses to fall upon anyone who reneges.” He stroked the smooth inner skin of the tree trunk. “We mark our vows here.”
Each Watcher plucked a feather from his own wing and began sharpening the quill. Azazel raised his dark eyebrows at Semjaza. Wind gusted, and the trees shuddered, sending a shower of ice crystals into the clearing.
Semjaza hesitated. He could halt this now. But in his mind’s eye he saw the camp in the plain at the foot of the mountain. He saw the tent with the red and gold weaving beside the door. Better yet, he saw the round-faced maiden inside. He plucked a feather and strode to the sapling.
At Semjaza’s urging, all Watchers agreed to retain their ethereal forms until Enoch, the local patriarch, returned from his latest jaunt into the mountains. The old man ruled this camp and five others nearby. Well aware of the challenges of leadership, Semjaza respected the patriarch’s position and needed the old man’s trust, not only to preserve the peace between humans and Watchers, but also because he desired Enoch’s youngest daughter, Zillah, for his wife.
Invisible to humans, Semjaza paced around the neatly spaced tents and paused under a blossoming almond tree to gaze north at the snow-hooded mountains. In spite of the warm, late spring breeze, a chill twisted through him. The old father had been gone six days. What was taking him so long? Had Enoch climbed as high as the treeline? Had he discovered the grove where the Watchers assembled? Semjaza snorted. Even if the man found the place and saw the marks in the peeled trunk, he wouldn’t guess the Watchers’ plan. And if he did, so what? Who wouldn’t want to wed his daughter to an angel?
Semjaza turned to resume his pacing and almost swept into Camos and Kokabiel coming from the other direction. They glowed with eager energy.
Camos sidled up to Semjaza. “The women return from the river chattering like a flock of birds.”
“They heard news from the southern camp,” said Kokabiel. “Azazel showed himself. Qijal and Ezeqeel, too.”
“Horse dung.” Semjaza ran a hand through his thick hair. “Why today?” He saw the answer in the eyes of the two who stood before him. Now that Azazel and the others had made their move, Camos and Kokabiel couldn’t be expected to restrain themselves, much less the Watchers under their command.
Semjaza nodded. “Notify your angels. If they’ve not taken on flesh, they may do so at their will.”
Kokabiel and Camos brightened and strode off so quickly they vanished before they were a stone’s throw away.
Semjaza retreated to the almond tree and watched the dark-haired, round-faced maiden make her way down the path toward her tent, lugging a dripping water jar on one shoulder. Zillah had a slight limp, but he had watched her often enough to know that her gait was strong. He had never seen her complain. Humming a carefree tune, she stepped to the entrance of her tent, where she paused and stared his direction. Though he knew she couldn’t see him, he smiled. A limp made no difference to him. He had chosen well. She had sensed his presence several times before. So had the old man.
In spite of his irritation at Azazel, a sense of relief flowed over Semjaza. The waiting was over. Almost. He calmed himself and breathed deeply, slowing and dimming his energy to receive the weight of a human body.
As Zillah ducked into the tent, the old man appeared in the distance, descending from the foothills.
Enoch trudged the well-worn path that led down from the hills, steadying himself with a walking stick worn smooth under his grip. Visits to the stone altar in the mountain grove always left him light of heart, but the return trip made him painfully aware of his aging body. He wondered how much longer he would be able to trek up and back, even in weather as balmy as that spring had been. Perhaps one day he would walk up and not return. Dying of old age in the grove of the Presence would be a privilege.
But not yet. Not yet. He still had his daughter Zillah to consider, the daughter of his old age. Her mother had died in childbirth, so her sisters had raised her and had done a fine job, too. He had arranged suitable marriages for all of them. No so for Zillah. From infancy, her limp had discouraged match making, for parents of eligible young sons believed that a birth defect signified a curse on the child’s future. Still, Enoch had options, not the least of which was offering his daughter as a second wife or marrying her to a widower seeking a reliable young woman to care for his children.
Enoch reached the outskirts of camp and sighed as the responsibilities of leadership returned to burden his shoulders like a stone yoke. The heaviest at the moment was fatherhood. He admitted that he should have found Zillah a suitable husband years ago. The fact was, he found it hard to let go of his youngest, not least because they shared a common spiritual sensitivity, and both limped. Although his limp came from old age, he and Zillah often laughed at themselves, which made their difficulties easier to bear.
Enoch was smiling, anticipating the warm reception Zillah would give him, when he sensed a presence in a nearby grove. He slowed his steps. This was not the powerful, overwhelming weight of the Being called Am, the Holy Great One. He experienced that Presence at the altar in the mountains. This was a lesser presence, perhaps the same one he had felt from time to time during the past few months. He always paused when he felt it, looked around, and waited for a word or impression, but he had never seen or heard anything.
Until today. When Enoch paused and leaned on his staff, a man stepped out of the grove. Tall, brown-haired, no beard. His stride was strong, his smile reassuring, his skin that of a sun-warmed youth. But his eyes held a thoughtful, gauging, purposeful look that came only with age.
“Greetings, stranger,” said Enoch, although the term stranger did not seem quite accurate. “May I offer you our hospitality? I have just returned from a journey myself and intend to partake of the best my daughter can scratch together at short notice. I would be happy for you to join me.”
“Even if I’m of a different tribe?”
Enoch studied the young man. His robe was not worn and dirt-stained like a traveler’s. “What tribe would that be?”
“The Grigori. We’re Watchers.”
Enoch frowned. “I don’t recall hearing of Grigori or Watchers.”
“We guard the world of humans. We’re angels.”
Enoch’s smile broadened into a grin. “Ah. Angels I’m aware of. You are of the Sons of Am.”
The young man inclined his head. “Some call us so. My name is Semjaza.”
“Watchers. Of course, of course,” Enoch mused. He had spent most of his life seeking Am, and while he often felt encircled by the Presence, he had never actually seen the Holy Great One. Now a representative of the Presence stood before him, clearly visible, speaking as man to man. Was this to reward an old man for a lifetime of dedication?
“Your tribe is always welcome here.” Enoch pointed his staff toward his tent. “This way.”
Enoch soon gave up his hope of spending a quiet evening with Zillah and the visitor. The entire camp was buzzing about the angels who had appeared not only in their camp but in the neighboring camps as well. Everyone wanted a word with Enoch and a look at his guest.
It was late before Enoch and the angel were finally alone and Semjaza felt free to mention the reason for his visit. He shifted uneasily on his floor cushion and cleared his throat, trying to find the right words.
Semjaza’s discomfort surprised Enoch until he realized what the angel was asking. He angel wanted Zillah as his wife. Enoch could hardly contain his joy. To have a Watcher as a son-in-law! To be allied with the divine! He could think of no greater privilege for Zillah and no better way to ensure his camp’s safety and prosperity.
The next morning Enoch wrote out the marriage agreement between Semjaza and Zillah, and a fortnight later, the two were wed. No one objected to Semjaza’s marriage, but most other Watchers were not as fortunate. Unpledged maidens were few, and although most parents welcomed the offer of an angelic son-in-law, the eligible men of the camps were not so accepting. Azazel challenged his rivals outright. Skirmishes broke out here and there. A few betrothed men died in suspicious accidents or never returned from a hunt.
Enoch and Semjaza worked together to mediate and bring peace, but even when the rivalry settled, an undercurrent of tension remained. Moreover, Enoch could do nothing about the challenges that belonged to Semjaza alone.
Before Semjaza’s marriage, thoughts of Zillah had distracted him from his duties as Watcher, but his tasks – overseeing angels, scouting, protecting and guiding mortals – had helped him override the distraction. Azazel had assured him that after gaining a wife, the distraction would cease. It was not true. Semjaza was attached to the world now. He not only had a wife, he had possessions as well. No longer could he remain unbiased. Enoch’s camp held his heart; his wife was his foremost concern, and while Zillah was accustomed to her father’s occasional absences and knew tribal hunters left their families for weeks on end, each time Semjaza left, she vowed her love, told him how much she would miss him, and begged him to return soon. When Semjaza journeyed, he was doubly distracted.
Visiting the heavens now tested him. He had always greeted angels of other ranks with ease, freely discussing matters both earthly and heavenly. Now he tensed even nodding to gatekeepers, and he could no longer enter the courts of even the lowest realm without cringing and glancing around, suspecting that the other angels could clearly see what he had done. He felt as if he carried a banner announcing his union with a mortal woman.
Torn between the two domains, Semjaza entered the heavens only when necessary and spent more time in the mortal world, even as he tried to maintain his position and carry out his angelic duties. He saw how this double-minded life affected the other Watchers. All were unsettled. Some chose to neglect their mortal ties. Some opted to shirk their angelic tasks. Azazel dropped any pretense of trying to follow heaven’s orders and accepted assignments only at his discretion. Semjaza could not report the scoundrel without exposing his own guilt. He knew that sooner or later, he would have to deal with Azazel. Meanwhile he picked up the slack and covered for Azazel.
Spring drifted into summer. Summer baked itself dry until at last the hot wind came laced with a hint of coolness. Autumn brought rains and refreshment. And Semjaza made it work. Then came winter.
Thick clouds blanketed the setting sun, and the wind gusted, spitting snow. Semjaza shivered as he wove around the goatskin huts toward the oversized assembly tent. Transforming from his ethereal body into human form proved more difficult each time. Today winter seemed intent on reminding him that cold air stung mortal flesh. He rubbed his hands, anticipating the warmth signaled by the wraith of smoke drifting from the roof-hole of the assembly tent. Wind spun the smoke into threads, filling the air with the sharp aroma of burning wood.
Hearty laughter rang from the tent, and a woman pushed out through the heavy flap, grinning at a pendant swinging from her fist. She glanced at Semjaza. “News?” Her eyebrows arched.
“Not yet.” He paused at the entrance, looked over his shoulder, and tried to pick out the smoke rising from his own tent. The midwives had made it clear that he wasn’t welcome during the birthing. He had tried to explain that as a Watcher, he had witnessed many births and deserved to be at his wife’s side, but they had glared their answer. And their anger. Watchers’ babies, although exquisitely beautiful, were so large that both women and babies often died in childbirth.
Voices rose from the assembly tent like a wave and splashed into laughter. Semjaza raised the flap and ducked into the haze-filled warmth. He clenched his jaw. The usually solemn tent had turned into a bazaar. On one side of the room women huddled around tables, discussing the display of colored tinctures for eyelids or cooing over bracelets of costly stones. On the other side Azazel enjoyed the admiration of the men as he showed them the features of a glinting, short sword.
Azazel glanced at Semjaza and grinned, then turned back to his admirers. “A shield!” He handed a broad polished disk to one of the men. “A breastplate.” Demonstrating he slipped a metal vest over his tunic.
“To protect from the blades?” asked a hunter, as men pushed forward to inspect Azazel’s armory.
“You’ll be invulnerable,” promised Azazel, who had taught his camp how to work metal, fashion jewelry, and forge swords.
Old Enoch shouldered out of the crowd, his countenance as dark as storm-threatening clouds. “Battle,” he muttered, stabbing the dirt floor with his staff. “What if we don’t want battle?” Beckoning to Semjaza, he headed out of the tent.
Semjaza lifted the flap for Enoch and then followed him into the cold. Ezeqeel stood nearby with a youth, their faces to the sky as they discussed how cloud shapes foretold weather. Semjaza nodded with approval. He had insisted that the angels share their knowledge to benefit the people they had chosen as their own. He himself had revealed enchantments and the use of herbs. Qijal and Kokabiel explained astronomy. Vanael taught the signs of the earth, Naret the ways of the sun, Orsa the course of the moon. And Azazel? Semjaza snorted. Swords.
When they reached Enoch’s tent, the old man said, “Let us wait together.”
Semjaza held open the tent flap and followed Enoch inside. In the center of the room, a servant stirred the fire in the brazier. A safe distance away, baskets of scrolls lined the shadowed back wall. Enoch wrote more than any scribe Semjaza had ever seen. The old man had explained that humans, keenly aware of the fleeting nature of life on earth, felt compelled to keep a permanent record.
Moreover, to the earthbound mind, possessing – and keeping track of possessions – carried great weight.
As Enoch eased down to a cushion near the brazier, the tent flap opened and Naamah, one of Zillah’s older sisters, leaned in. “Enoch, you have a grandson.”
Semjaza, halfway between sitting and standing, gaped in wonder. “A son. And Zillah?”
Enoch waved him out. “Go to your wife.”
Naamah bobbed out, and Semjaza joined her. “She lives,” repeated Naamah, trudging ahead. “But she’ll not likely want any more children. Not by you anyway.”
Semjaza lugged a basket heaped with dried meats, apples, pears, and figs toward his oversized tent, wondering when his son would stop growing. At least the youth didn’t have wings like his father. Watchers’ children were wingless, which made them easier to watch. As if you could miss a giant. At sixteen Javan towered over him by five hands.
Javan ducked out of the tent and raised his arms in triumph. “Food!” he crowed. “I’m starving.”
Semjaza stared up at his son. Make that six hands. Maybe seven. The tent wasn’t tall enough to hold him. Soon Javan would have to go and dwell in the caverns where other Watchers had sent their towering youth.
Javan followed Semjaza into the tent, snatched the basket, and began stuffing his mouth with fruit.
Semjaza scowled and dusted his hands. “Have you no courtesy?”
“I’m hungry,” Javan mumbled with his mouth full.
Semjaza’s wife, Zillah, sat in the sunlight by an open flap at the rear of the tent, stitching softened leather. “Do you know how many skins it takes to clothe your son?”
“More than the last time I saw him.” Semjaza kissed her cheek.
“Where have you been?” she asked. “You’re never here.”
“Where do you think?” He squatted beside her. “I’ve been raiding orchards down south where there are no giants to eat the entire harvest.”
“Shhh. He’ll hear you.”
“He can’t hear me. He’s slurping and smacking.”
“It’s not my fault,” she muttered. “I can’t control a giant.” Javan belched, and she grimaced.
Javan tossed aside an apple core and headed out of the tent. “I’m going to find something to eat,” he called over his shoulder.
“My father wants to see you,” said Zillah. “He can’t control Javan either. The Watchers’ overgrown offspring are old enough to take mates, and they know it. You watch. There will be fights. They’re already bickering with the hulks from Azazel’s camp.”
Shouts cut through the usual sounds outdoors, followed by the pop of fists hitting flesh. Zillah yanked a strand of red yarn. “What did I tell you?”
Semjaza trudged outside, where Javan was brawling with Azazel’s son, Elam. Gangly youth gathered around cheering or jeering. Semjaza wanted to cheer Javan on and send Elam home with a message written in bruises.
“Hold!” Semjaza barked, “You’re endangering the camp. Stay your hands!”
“Make us,” garbled Javan, struggling against Elam’s hand clamped at his throat. He grunted and rolled and pinned Elam to the ground.
Semjaza gritted his teeth. He would make them stop. But he would have to use angelic power – exactly what Javan wanted to see and what Semjaza did not want to flaunt.
Javan tugged Elam to his feet and slammed him into a tree trunk.
Semjaza sighed, drew his sword and channeled energy into it. Just enough to daze. But would that be sufficient? Short of death, what would truly make them stop their destruction? Would he someday be forced to kill Elam? Might he someday have to kill his own son?
Atop the bald mountain a scarlet-winged figure crouched so still he seemed carved of stone. The setting sun brightened his copper chain mail and ruddy hair. He tightened his grip on a longbow as his dark green eyes scanned the smoke rising from the plains below and then locked onto a dark smudge on the horizon. Most angels could see distant objects so clearly they appeared to be only an arm’s length away, but Uriel’s sight was sharper than most.
A gold-winged angel in gilded armor settled behind him, holding a silver spear as a staff. Red streaks wove through his brown hair, which matched the color of his dark, compassionate eyes. Raphael squinted at the drifting smoke. “They escaped?”
Uriel didn’t move. “Most of them.”
“The old man?” asked Raphael.
“He was here in the mountains, deep in contemplation. He saw the attack too late. He’s headed down the mountain now, but all he can see is smoke. He doesn’t know if anyone survived.”
Gabriel drifted down. “I’ll tell the old man.” He folded his midnight-purple wings against his thick, silver tunic and swept stray strands of black hair off his sharp-featured face. His gray eyes glinted purple as he peered through the woods below the treeline, sensing the small figure of Enoch scrabbling down the slope.
“He can probably track the survivors,” said Uriel. “Unless the giants find him first.”
Michael strode into view. “If giants return I’ll intervene.” His long blonde hair and white wings glowed in the lowering light of sunset, which glinted like sparks off his silver armor. His blue eyes narrowed as he flexed his hand over the pommel of his great sword and growled, “If I had been there –”
“Where was Semjaza?” snapped Raphael. “Where was Azazel?”
“Semjaza is away on Watcher business,” said Uriel. “He has tried to live dual lives, and it has cost him.”
“At least he tried to keep up his duties as Watcher,” said Michael. “Azazel doesn’t even try anymore. He’s now the head of the tribe’s war council.”
“It’s going to cost them all,” said Gabriel. “More than they know.” He headed down the slope.
Gabriel found Enoch huffing and stumbling over roots and rocks in an effort to descend in a straight line instead of following his usual meandering path. The angel retained his ethereal form, for Enoch, a Seer, had met with him before. Gabriel caught the old man’s arm and steadied him.
Enoch looked up in surprise and clutched the angel’s sleeve, his lined eyes searching Gabriel’s face. “You’re my answer,” he rasped.
Gabriel nodded toward the plain. “Many escaped. Your tribe moves south. I’ll take you there.”
Enoch’s grip tightened, and his gaze bored into Gabriel. “You can present our cause to the Great One. Plead for us.”
“Your cries already reach the gates of heaven.” Gabriel glanced up the mountain. “I don’t know if you may deliver your petition in person, but I can take you as close as the Great One will allow.”
Enoch stared at Gabriel. “I?” He not only gripped Gabriel’s sleeve, he tugged. “I could get closer?”
Gabriel grinned at the childlike sparkle in the old man’s eyes. “You’ve already come closer than most.”
“May I go now?”
“Any time you wish.”
Enoch turned around, leaning heavily on his staff. Gabriel took his other arm, and they headed up the mountain.
In the moonlight above the tree line, the biting cold wind spun rooster tails of snow off the three summits of Sirion. Enoch had never climbed this high and would never have tried if not for Gabriel’s support. The angel’s hand on his arm provided a constant warm flow of strength to his aged limbs. The old man marveled at how, with each step, his spine felt straighter, his heartbeat steadier, his leg muscles firmer.
The gentle pressure of Gabriel’s hand guided Enoch toward a bank of clouds that veiled a ridge and crept, snake-like, into a ravine. Together they hiked to the cloud and entered at a steady pace. Unable to see through the swirling gray fog, Enoch relied on the angel’s hand on his arm and the feel of solid ground under his feet – until he realized his feet had left solid ground. Only Gabriel’s firm grip kept him from crying out in panic.
Eventually the fog thinned to mist, and then it cleared away altogether. Enoch found himself walking a blue-black sky filled with thousands of stars, random jags of lightning, and distant, drifting tones of music. Wind flapped his mantle and sent Gabriel’s dark hair streaming back from his angular profile. The angel’s smile reminded Enoch of the pure pleasure that lit the face of a man eagerly heading home at the end of the day.
Wind gathered and thickened at their feet, then lifted and swept them through the sky. They rushed past stars, lightning, ice crystals, islands of mist, and vague shadows. But Enoch only glimpsed these, for his gaze was fixed on the light that grew larger and brighter as they neared. It was a wall, he realized, a wall of crystal surrounded by flames.
Enoch was inclined to slow as they approached the wall, but Gabriel surged ahead. Enoch kept pace, although he could not help cringing as they plowed straight through the flames. He relaxed only when they landed unscathed in a well-swept flagstone courtyard that fronted a crystal palace and its surrounding towers.
As a young boy Enoch had seen a palace when his nomadic family spent a few days trading at the gates of a king’s walled city. But that palace was paltry compared to this one. Here a blazing fire licked the palace walls, glowing white-hot where it shielded doorways and windows. Angels, each with a different shade of wing color, busily strode through archways, along colonnades, and across high bridges that connected the towers to the palace.
An angel with pearl-white wings emerged from the fiery palace entrance, acknowledged Gabriel and Enoch with a nod, and stationed himself beside the white-hot door, one hand on the pommel of his sword.
“Good.” Gabriel released Enoch’s arm. “You’re expected. Go in. I’ll wait here.”
Enoch felt weak in the knees. He turned to Gabriel, intending to ask what he would find inside. Where should he go? What would be expected of him? But fear had swollen his throat closed.
“Go on,” said Gabriel. “You’ll know what to do.”
Enoch nodded – stupidly, he felt. Summoning his courage, he forced himself to walk to the fiery entrance. When he reached the flame it parted, and he strode through into an inner courtyard that was as hot as fire and cold as ice. He rubbed his arms and glanced around, both sweating and shivering.
Colorful crystal mosaics lined the walls. Slabs of highly polished marble in alternating black
and white squares formed the floor. Overhead, three fields divided the open sky. Two were dark, although stars sprinkled one and lightning sparked across the other. The two dark fields were separated by an expanse of heaven as clear as water, which seemed to be some sort of highway, traversed in all directions by fiery, flying cherubim.
Enoch returned his attention to the inner courtyard and the options that lay before him. Several doors led from the courtyard into the palace, including a silver-paneled, double doorway guarded by extremely tall angels, who eyed him graciously. As they made no move to direct him, Enoch approached the only door that stood open. Beyond lay a garden not unlike a favorite grove he had explored in his youth.
As soon as Enoch stepped in, the familiar weight of the Presence pressed into him, stronger than he had ever felt it before. He knew he was in the right place. The Great One was here. He sank to his knees, suspended in awe, as his petition swelled within him. But he could not find his voice. The moment was too rich, too full. Here was his Source. His Hope. His Home. His Life. He wanted the Presence not only around him but also within him. He closed his eyes and inhaled.
On his knees in the celestial garden, Enoch basked in the Presence. How long his reverie lasted, he didn’t know. Did time even matter here? He felt suspended in the gracious, beating heart of Reality.
When the Voice spoke, Enoch jolted to his senses and looked up, but he saw only white light. Nor had he heard the Voice with his ears. It existed independent of him, but had flowed into his thoughts, clear and strong. In the wide-ranging realm of his mind, two bodies of thought walked side by side: his and the Other.
The Other repeated, “You’ve come with a request.”
Enoch’s spirit welled with hope, and his thoughts spilled out. “Great Am, Holy One, you created all things and have power over all you made. I come from the tribes of Mahalalel, descendent of Seth, son of Adam.”
The Other warmed and . . . chuckled? Did the Great One laugh? “I know you, Enoch,” said the Other. “We meet on the mountain, remember?”
Enoch’s thoughts blurted, “Not this close.” Although he had not spoken aloud, he clapped a hand over his mouth, cringing at his insolence.
“Granted.” The Other sounded amused. “But I would know you anywhere, Enoch. Voice your request.”
“My tribe received your angels, my Lord, and we are not ungrateful, for they have shown us great wonders and have protected us on numerous occasions. But they have also produced children who are –” Enoch hesitated to accuse the angels outright.
“Giants,” said the Other. “I know.”
“At first we welcomed their offspring, but these children grow unusually tall and strong. They have become unruly and destructive, and we felt it best to separate ourselves from them. I know that in all the earth, my complaint is a small thing.”
“It is not so small,” said the Other. “The deeds of the Watchers affect the entire world. They left the heights, divided their attentions, and neglected their duties. Return to your people, Enoch. Gather the Watchers, and give them this message: ‘You chose to dwell within Time’s bounds, but since you are not Time’s creatures, this choice will bring you no peace. Yet since you wished to live as humans, you shall. You shall reap the consequences of planting destruction on the earth. You shall witness the murder of your loved ones and lament the ruin of your children. I will give your honored positions to others who are trustworthy, and you shall nevermore ascend into the heavens.'”
Enoch bit his lip as his thoughts raced. He had expected holy power to restrain the giants, to diminish them in strength if not stature. He had anticipated an edict to recall the Watchers, not an eternal decree prohibiting their ascent into the heavens. What would happen to the banished ones? What of Semjaza? Even though the angel had brought trouble, Enoch loved him as a son.
The Other waited, patient yet pulsing, and Enoch knew Am was aware of every thought. At last Enoch spoke aloud. “Surely you’ll not exile all Watchers. They’re not all guilty to the same extent. Semjaza was goaded by Azazel.”
“Yet Semjaza was their leader,” the Other answered. “A leader should not be so easily influenced.”
“Semjaza loves my daughter,” Enoch ventured. “Surely love is no crime. I ask for mercy. At least for Semjaza.” He hastily added, “I’m sure there are others like him.”
The Presence thinned, and Enoch shivered at the sudden chill.
“I’ll consider it,” the Other whispered in his ear. “For your sake, I’ll consider it.”
As the Presence lifted, the garden dimmed. Enoch pulled his cloak tight and paused for a moment in case Am wished to speak an additional word. When the Great One did not return, Enoch rose and cast one last, longing look at the grove that reminded him of his youth. Then he turned to leave.
Gabriel stood at the door, waiting. Enoch nodded at him, and together they strode back across the courtyard toward the fiery entrance. Enoch was eager to see his family again, but he dreaded returning to the weight and age of his limbs. Worse he dreaded delivering Am’s message to the Watchers.
The acrid odor of ash and charred wood made breathing a chore for Enoch. He had insisted on meeting the Watchers at the old campsite, which was now a swathe of scorched ground all the way to the river. He wanted the angels to stand in the midst of their destruction, to face a visual reminder of their guilt, so he sat where his tent had once stood. The back of a cart functioned as his chair, but he sat it like a throne as he listened to the angels squabble. The cart’s unhitched donkeys, staked beside the shoals, shifted restlessly, eying the group.
Thirty Watchers had come, more than Enoch had expected. After hearing his message from the Great One, the group had milled into three factions. Azazel, his brown and gray mottled wings fully extended, had gathered the largest number beside a blackened snag of a tree to Enoch’s left, where they boiled with anger. Semjaza, arms folded and jaw clenched, stood at Enoch’s right with Harakiba and Ezekeel, all three as shamefaced as scolded children. Eight others, as wary as the donkeys, paced the charred ground.
Ezekeel’s face had paled to match his white-blonde hair. He gripped the side of the cart. “Did I hear right? We’re nevermore to enter the heavens?” His smooth voice choked, and he cleared his throat. “Is that not excessive?”
“Of course it is,” barked Azazel. He glared down his sharp nose at Semjaza. “You’re our captain. The blame obviously lies at your feet. At any point you could have warned us about this.”
“Who suggested our liaison with humans in the first place?” hissed Semjaza.
“A suggestion is only a suggestion,” said Azazel. “We all make suggestions from time to time.” His group nodded. “We count on you to assess the dangers and direct us as a captain should.”
Semjaza rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“So –” Azazel cocked one eyebrow. “How do you intend to deal with this affront, Captain?”
“We’ll send a petition to the Great One,” said Semjaza.
Beady-eyed Maros pushed to the front of Azazel’s group. “Who will take the petition? I tried to return to the heavens two days ago. Kokabiel tried. Rameel tried. Every path is barred and guarded.”
“Enoch can take the petition.” Semjaza placed a hand on the old man’s shoulder.
Azazel reddened. “What makes you think a mere mortal can find audience when Watchers cannot?”
“He’s right,” said Enoch. “I can’t say I’ll be received.”
“I ask only that you try,” said Semjaza.
Enoch glanced at Sirion’s peaks. He could at least go to his usual grove. Farther than that, he couldn’t promise. He sighed, flipped open his pouch, and dug out his writing box. “What is your petition?” he asked. As he moistened the ink powder, the angels’ squabbling began anew.
Enoch braced himself on the waist high stone altar in his mountain grove, dropped his gnarled staff to the ground behind him, and knelt, ready to voice the Watchers’ petition. From the fold in his belt, he removed a scroll, which he unrolled and held to the late afternoon light that sifted through the branches. Sheepskin scroll. Black ink. Simple words. A plea for forgiveness. Nothing to reveal the prideful anger smoldering behind Azazel’s eyes when he reluctantly assented to Semjaza’s wording.
Swords hissed from their scabbards, and Enoch stumbled to his feet. Three angels stood on the far side of the altar. One, with ruddy-streaked brown hair and gold-tinted wings, bore a silver sword that glinted in the lowering light. Another, with scarlet wings and a tunic of woven copper, held a sword that glowed like molten metal. Gabriel, with his black hair and midnight-purple wings, stood between the two, unarmed.
Enoch froze, fearing for a moment that he had offended the heavens by coming to the grove. He started to ask what was wrong but then realized that the angels’ daunting glares had locked onto something behind him. He turned to see six Watchers step into the clearing. Semjaza led with Ezekeel and Harakiba. Azazel and two of his supporters followed. Only Azazel had drawn a sword. Glancing back and forth between Semjaza’s group and Gabriel’s, Enoch quickly decided he was not fool enough to stand between angels holding swords. He hobbled aside without his staff.
Semjaza inclined his head to each of the three in turn. “Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel. Peace to you.”
“Peace?” hissed scarlet-winged Uriel. His sword brightened.
Gabriel scanned the Watchers. “Did Enoch not convey the wishes of the Great One?”
“He did.” Semjaza picked up Enoch’s walking stick calmly, but Enoch knew his son-in-law was far from calm. “We asked Enoch to convey our response,” said Semjaza.
“And he is agreeable?” Gabriel turned to Enoch, his dark eyebrows arched.
“I am,” said Enoch, “if it’s allowed.”
“Shall we find out?” Gabriel extended his hand to Enoch. Semjaza offered Enoch’s walking stick, but Gabriel waved it away. “He won’t need it.”
Azazel strutted forward, returning his sword to its scabbard. “We’ll wait here.”
Gabriel shrugged. “So will Uriel and Raphael.” The two angels did not lower their swords.
Enoch had never felt the grove so full of tension. The strain in the atmosphere felt akin to the crackling edge of power that surged through the air before a storm. One foolish move, one hissed insult, and the grove might go up in flames. He gladly took Gabriel’s pulsing hand, and they headed up the mountain.
Enoch instinctively pressed closer to Gabriel as they neared the flaming crystal wall and its gate of fire. Even so, he managed only shallow breaths until they had cleared the flames and entered the courtyard. Then he lifted his face to the star-glittered sky and inhaled the fresh-rain scent of the ethereal city.
Gabriel pointed to the archway that led to the garden where Enoch had last heard the Voice. One angel stood guard. “The portal stands open,” said Gabriel.
Enoch nodded his thanks. As he headed for the garden, he chuckled at his spry gait and the giddy desire to trot, skip, and leap. With effort he governed his impulses and strode as calmly as he could. But before he reached the entrance to the garden, the angelic guard extended her silver wings and blocked the way. She motioned to a covered walk that led to a stairway.
Enoch turned to Gabriel for confirmation.
Gabriel’s dark eyes widened as he stepped to Enoch’s side. “Are you certain, Livia?”
“I am.” The angel smiled and lowered her silver wings. “You may escort your friend.”
“Yes. Well . . .” Gabriel smoothed his black hair. “An unexpected privilege.”
Enoch searched Gabriel’s face, which held a tentative smile.
Gabriel dusted off Enoch’s cloak and straightened its shoulders. “We’re to approach the throne room.”
Enoch ran his hand through his own hair. “Enter the throne room? Of the Holy Great One?”
“I didn’t say enter. I said approach.” Gabriel took Enoch’s arm and guided him down the covered walk. “Although who knows?” Gabriel mused. “I didn’t expect to get this far.”
At the top of the stairs they crossed a tiled courtyard, which fronted a palatial building. Angels with fiery wings guarded its flaming doors, but parted to allow Gabriel and Enoch to enter.
Enoch trembled as he and Gabriel stepped through the blaze and onto a floor of fire. High above, lightning streaked across the paths of a thousand stars, and ahead, beyond an open archway, stood a crystal throne flanked by Cherubim. From beneath the throne flames flowed outward in streams, and upon the throne sat the Great One with robes glowing brighter than the sun, whiter than snow. Enoch’s eyes watered at the brilliance, and he looked away.
The familiar Voice spoke. “Come, Enoch, and hear my word.”
Gabriel ushered Enoch forward to the archway, but there Gabriel halted. He knelt and tugged Enoch down.
Enoch went to his knees, staring at the blazing floor and blinking sweat out of his eyes.
“Do not fear, Enoch,” said Am. “I know why you’ve come. Return to the former Watchers of heaven and tell them: ‘You should intercede for men, and not men for you. I am Mercy. But you accuse and condemn. I am Love. But you turn love into lust. I am Life. But you foment death. Therefore death you shall see. The giants of your lineage are evil. When they die – which they soon will – their evil spirits shall be barred from this part of the heavens. Be warned: as they oppressed and destroyed in the flesh, so they shall oppress and destroy as spirits.'”
Enoch heard footsteps, but did not look up, nor did Gabriel. Bare feet appeared on the flaming floor before them, and an angel spoke. “A scroll for you, Gabriel. You will know what to do when you return Enoch to the grove.”
As the angel retreated, Gabriel rose, lifted Enoch to his feet, and said, “Thank you, Most Holy One.” Gabriel bowed.
Enoch bowed as well, and they turned to leave.
“Enoch,” the Voice called.
Enoch turned back to the brilliant blaze and immediately closed his eyes against the brightness.
“Warn my Watchers: ‘You shall have no peace.'”
“Yes, Lord.” Enoch bowed again. Then he strode back to the stairs with Gabriel.
The stairwell seemed dim to Enoch now, compared with the light that had engulfed him moments before. But worse, the hope in his heart had dimmed. ‘You shall have no peace.’ Though the prophecy was meant for the Watchers and their offspring, Enoch held no illusions. Their turmoil would spill into the world. Peace everywhere would be fragile.
Gabriel loosened his sword as he and Enoch descended from the star-strewn heavens into the field of clouds that hovered over the Sirion mountains. Enoch’s chest tightened. He had no memory of ever seeing Gabriel’s sword glow as it did now. No less disturbing was the scroll Gabriel clenched in his fist. Whatever it said, Enoch did not want to hear it. The Great One’s edict was dire enough and still echoed in his ears: You shall have no peace.
As Enoch’s feet touched the bald stone of Sirion’s peak, the shroud of fog swirled, and a white-winged, broad-shouldered angel emerged. Enoch lurched into Gabriel.
Gabriel steadied Enoch and chuckled, but his smile was thin and tight. “Meet Michael,” he said.
Michael nodded, his blonde hair dripping with mist.
Enoch tried to smile, but the angel’s silver armor and the set of his jaw were unnerving.
Gabriel offered the scroll to Michael, who waved it away. “I’ve already been told,” he said. His nostrils flared, and he gazed in the direction of the grove as though he could see through the fog.
“We’re to allow Enoch to deliver his message first,” said Gabriel.
“Is that wise?” asked Michael.
Gabriel shrugged. “The Watchers sent him with their petition. He returns with the response.”
“You’ll keep him safe, then?”
Michael snorted and headed down the slope. Enoch’s legs felt as stiff and heavy as logs. He gripped Gabriel’s rock-firm arm, and they followed Michael, who slowed to allow them to catch up.
The fog thinned as the three descended, and at last Enoch spied familiar landmarks: the slant of twin cypresses to the east, the overhang of the rock formation to the west. Then through the trees ahead, he saw the secluded grove, its altar flanked by Uriel and Raphael, still holding their swords. On the far side of the grove, Azazel inspected his blade, while his two supporters paced behind him. Semjaza, leaning against a broad trunk, wiped his brow on his sleeve. Ezekeel and Harakiba sat on a boulder nearby, eying the others uneasily.
Azazel and his two followers stilled when Gabriel and Michael ushered Enoch into the grove. Ezekeel and Harakiba rose, alert. Semjaza stepped forward and handed Enoch his walking stick.
Enoch read the question in Semjaza’s eyes but looked away, which was answer enough. As he hobbled to the center of the grove, he saw Gabriel slip the scroll to Raphael.
Branches bobbed in the sighing breeze, a forest creature skittered through the underbrush, a crow squawked a warning cry and flapped away through the trees. The Watchers stood silent, balancing on the thin line between their past and their future.
Enoch faced them, feeling as if he had swallowed a wad of wool. He took a deep breath and let his mind return to the floor of fire and the brilliant throne. He heard again the Great One’s message, and he repeated it aloud.
With every word, the Watchers grew more agitated.
“The giants of your lineage are evil,” Enoch repeated. “When they die – which they soon will – their evil spirits shall be barred from this part of the heavens. Be warned: as they oppressed and destroyed in the flesh, so they shall oppress and destroy as spirits –”
“Outrageous!” Azazel shouted, red-faced. “This is completely unacceptable!”
Enoch raised his voice to be heard. “You shall have no peace!” As the words left his mouth, the grove erupted in fighting, and his feet left solid ground, as Gabriel swept him into the woods. Gabriel set him down among the trees, but Enoch lurched after the angel, who darted back to the grove, drawing his sword.
The struggle was already over. Michael had subdued Azazel’s two supporters. They lay groaning on the ground beside Azazel, who struggled to no avail as Uriel bound him. Raphael crouched in a menacing stance before Semjaza, Ezekeel, and Harakiba. Their blades lay at his feet.
Sword in hand, Gabriel scooped up the scroll, which lay beside the altar. He read it aloud, clearly and without malice. “Bind Azazel and cast him into the darkness to await judgment. Except for Semjaza, all former Watchers must choose: Forfeit your wings and become fully human, or join your children, the giants of the land, who are under siege from the forces of heaven.”
“And I?” asked Semjaza.
Michael glared at him. “We give you a head start. You have been appointed leader of your giants.”
The color drained from Semjaza’s face. “The evil spirits?”
Gabriel tossed the scroll to Semjaza. “You’re their captain now.”
Michael’s white wings whipped out as he pointed his sword at Semjaza. “Go!” he yelled.
Go! The echo of Michael’s shout followed Semjaza as he raced east, only vaguely aware of footsteps following. He dodged tree trunks and crashed through underbrush but gained speed as his body shed the heaviness of flesh and returned to ethereal form. As soon as the canopy of branches thinned enough to allow a clear ascent, he leaped, spread his wings, and flew.
He heard the whip of wings behind him. “I’m with you,” called Harakiba.
“Chose humanity.” Harakiba reached Semjaza and flew beside him but lower, assuming his rank. “Ezekeel’s wings were shriveling as I left,” he said. “I’ve never seen such a thing.”
“Nor have I,” said Semjaza. At least Ezekeel and Harakiba had been given a choice.
As they soared toward the smoke on the horizon, Semjaza’s keen sight caught the glint of swords, the flash of wings. Spirits escaping their giant bodies swirled into the sky, then circled back to fight as demons. Semjaza gritted his teeth. How could he captain a group of demons?
By the time they reached the blood-streaked battle plain, the fight had moved east into the hills. Semjaza knew how it worked. Angel warriors would wait in the heights for the leading edge of the giants to reach them, while others would chase stragglers from behind and root out hiding cowards. No giant would survive. Not in the flesh.
Semjaza landed among the mangled corpses, searching for the body of his son. Evil spirits had already been released from those bodies. He sensed them brooding in nearby ravines and groves. They exuded the stench of rot, spiked with a sharp, bitter anger, and he dreaded trying to muster them. No doubt Javan’s spirit hid with the others.
He turned to Harakiba, whose wings drooped behind him pathetically. Semjaza poised his own wings fully outstretched to display his authority. “I want to find my son’s body,” he said. “You’ll want to locate your children as well.”
Harakiba stared at him, ashen-faced and wide-eyed. “Our wings,” he said, extending his.
A chill shuddered through Semjaza. Harakiba’s feathers had dropped off, leaving bare, leathered, bony appendages, fit for flight but worthless for looks. Semjaza resisted the impulse to inspect his own wings. He turned away from Harakiba and blinked to clear his eyes. Then he inhaled the death-soaked air and returned to his task. “Javan?” he called, turning over a corpse with his foot, hoping he could identify his son’s body when he found it.
A slap of heat stung Semjaza’s cheek, and a fist-size coil of hot vapor danced back. “Searching for a son?” hissed Javan’s voice. “You slaughtered us.”
“I just arrived,” said Semjaza. “I had nothing to do with this.” The lie burned. He had everything to do with this. If he had not listened to Azazel years ago, none of this would have happened.
“Too slow to support your friends?” Javan’s spirit unfurled and thinned into a sideways wisp.
“They’re not . . .” Semjaza’s throat felt thick. “They’re not my friends. I’m on your side. We’ll gather the spirits –”
Javan cackled. “Good luck!” He coiled and circled his father.
Semjaza grabbed the coil and marveled at how firm it felt. But Javan’s spirit thinned in his grasp and began oozing out of his hand, writhing and muscular like a snake. Semjaza squeezed, hating himself for what he was about to do, but he had to gain authority. He had been too weak with the Watchers and would not make the same mistake again. He would lead. Whatever the cost.
Javan growled and flailed against his father’s grip.
Semjaza clenched his teeth and struck the ground with the snaking spirit. “I’m your captain,” he shouted. He whipped the spirit right and left and then shook it until it went limp. “You will obey me.” Again he struck the ground.
“Gather the spirits,” barked Semjaza, flinging Javan across the field. “Do it now or suffer.”
Howling, Javan coiled into a ball and shot toward a ravine.
Semjaza began dragging the bodies of the giants into a pile. Harakiba joined him. Before long, the stinking spirits crept toward them.
“Gather your bodies,” Semjaza commanded them, slapping a spirit toward the dead. He speared one who held back, Harakiba wrestled another, and soon the spirits fought each other into submission. With Harakiba at his right hand, Semjaza stood back and thundered orders.
When the last body lay on the pile, Semjaza pointed at the hill of corpses and summoned his energy, wondering if he still had power. He did. Fire darted up around the bodies. A gleeful shout rose from the spirits as they encircled the pyre. Semjaza dared not look at Harakiba, afraid that the sight of his old friend would soften his resolve. That was the last thing he needed.
Semjaza folded his arms and glared at the spirits joining the flames in a writhing dance. In spite of his resolve, he pitied them. Would they always be on the wrong side? Was there no hope?
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