Chapter 6: Lord of hosts
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Daren sighed. “Alright, I suppose you’re not going to give me anything else on that. Is this the end of this ritual?”

“If you are asking whether or not we are ready to talk about the thing you came here for, the answer is yes.” Immanuel said. By this point, Daren felt exhausted to the point he couldn’t manage a lot more than a weak smile. His body was no longer capable of exhaustion it seemed, but his mind could certainly be worn down, and this experience of viewing the darkness of his own past had proven extremely taxing.

Immanuel walked over to the center of the small temple to stand in front of the pedestal that held the candelabra. Somehow, even though he was standing directly in the path of the light, his body did not obstruct it. Instead, it was as though his perfectly opaque body acted like a magnifying lense and caused the candle's light to become brighter as it shone through him.

“Before you ask,” Haraiel said, “He is the light. That is how he’s doing that. In fact, he is everything in this room.”

Daren was actually not going to ask. He had just assumed the laws of physics like how light was supposed to act simply didn’t apply here in heaven. That assumed answer would have made a lot more sense than the cryptic nonsense she had just spoken.

“Ahh… right then.” Daren said and gave a weak smile at the gigantic woman before he shuffled over to stand in front of God now that he seemed to be acting in a more formal capacity. It felt kinda strange suddenly going from such a personal setting to a more formal one. Not that he wasn’t familiar with the idea of being all pallsy with his boss before getting official at a meeting, but that normally involves having more people enter the room than just him and the boss. Haraiel having helped with the cleaning as well made it hard to count her as anything other than part of the group as well. But, it seemed like this is how it was being played.

“So, uhh… should I bow or something?” Daren asked, already in a half crouch as he was looking for cues. Haraiel was already going down to both knees and lowering her head to the floor, so he took that as a ‘yes.’ However, before his own knees could touch the floor, he was stopped by Immanuel’s words.

“If you wish to show respect,” he said, “do it as you would in the land you come from. In the United States where you originate from, your people traditionally up until fairly recent times had a particular disdain for bowing. It was mostly those who participated in other cultural practices such as those doing various eastern martial arts who would pick up the practice of bowing, and even then it was only in the setting of their practice hall.”

That would be a very detailed and diplomatic ‘don’t force yourself’ then. Actually, it might be easier just to show his respect with a simple gesture like bowing. In other words, didn’t this statement raise the expectations on him to show respect with more subtle cues of body language?

“Well… in that case…” Daren stepped forward rather stiffly. This was definitely going to be awkward. “I know we got to know each other plenty over that whole experience, but…”

“Hehe, don’t worry about it.” He said, apparently picking up Daren’s meaning without him having to finish his sentence. “Yes, let us make our introductions more formal. I am the lord of the Earth, and I go by many names. I would normally go into a listing off of several of them, but that has gone out of style somewhat with the vanishing of nobility from the Earth. I will cut my introduction short then and say that you may call me Jehovah Sabaoth. Or, simply Jehova will do as well. Of my many names, that is the one that fits the current role I am playing the best.”

“Ah, yes.” Daren says. “Jehovah… Sabaoth?” He said. Jehovah was another one of his names he had heard plenty of times, but what was that Sabaoth thing about?

It was Haraiel who came to the rescue with an answer to this question, turning her head slightly to look in his direction from her position on the floor. “Jehovah means ‘the lord’ in the language of my people when I lived on the earth. Sabaoth means ‘host.’ So, Jehovah Sabaoth means the lord of hosts.”

“Ahh…” Daren nodded.

“You are likely curious about the name I gave you before, Immanuel.” Jehovah said. “That name means ‘god with us,’ which I felt was the most meaningful at the time.”

So, now that it’s more formal, his name changes from the intimate ‘Immanuel’ to the more formal ‘Jehovah.’ That would make some kind of sense for an individual with many names with each having a specific meaning.

“Well, I don’t really have a whole bunch of names to make my re-introduction with.” Daren said, stepping forward. “So, as you already probably know, I am Daren. Daren Aldrich.” With those words, Daren extended his hand forward. A gesture which Jehovah reciprocated quite naturally to return a warm handshake as they maintained eye-contact. True to his ‘lord of hosts’ name which he had just given, his smile was so friendly that it just made Daren feel truly welcome and at ease.

“Now then, I suppose you would like to get down to business after your admirable performance in facing your past.” Jehovah said. “You stand before me because you fear the idea of loosing that which makes you the person that you are, your memories and your personality. It is my wish that all of my children on the Earth can avoid this fate. It is unfortunate that you failed to accept that aid which I had offered you in the time which it could have been of use.”

Daren smiled a bitter smile. “That’s my own fault as a rebellious young person I suppose.” He said. “No one can change another person’s life for them. Those words were not only meant for the corrupt heads of the school I worked at who made all the children suffer.”

Jehovah’s face immediately contorted into a frown at Daren’s words and his face got very stiff. “Those individuals have already brought a curse upon themselves.” He said. “The evil brought on by inaction in the face of necessity is one of the most dark and most insidious. What evil they have wrought by their deeds will be returned in kind. All of the protections they had been afforded as my children shall be revoked and I will be turning my back on them. They will soon be set upon by the faceless swarm of many heads, the most vicious demon ever bred upon the earth, one more powerful than any who had existed before.”

The faceless swarm of many heads… wait, is he talking about social media? So, even god himself says that it is a truly insidious force on the earth. But the most powerful to ever exist? Well, he had chosen the words ‘powerful’ and ‘vicious’ rather than ‘evil.’ It is simply a faceless entity that crushes and destroys people just by existing, like some of the worst beings in the Cthulhu mythos.

And the lord’s punishment on these people is simply to withdraw his protection at a time when they’ve gained the attention of this mob? Yeah, Daren really wouldn’t like to be those people right now.

“Let us stop thinking about them.” Jehovah said. “We must discuss how to fix the predicament you have gotten yourself into. Just as you have made peace with your past, it is now time to fix your present and give you a better future. You wish to obtain the touch of divinity necessary to ensure your everlasting life. Because you failed to obtain it when it was offered freely to you, the means by which to acquire it now will require a lot more effort on your part. However, I can help you with the first few steps and give you the tools you need to accomplish your ultimate goal.”

“So, there is a way then?” Daren asked.

“Yes, indeed there is.” Jehovah said. “You must be born once again, into a new life. However, it cannot be on Earth. There is a reason why I do not incarnate a soul until it has fully lost it’s memory of it’s previous life. Knowing of the spiritual world causes an individual to become far more sensitive to the activities of those evil things which exist within the spirit world which is particularly powerful on Earth. Your life would be full of nearly constant attacks by the worst kinds of demons, and you would likely have your second life snatched away from you before you could even accomplish anything.

“Instead, you will be born in a foreign world. One that is not Earth, and one in which I do not dwell. It will be a journey wrought with peril, but I can still offer you some tools to help you survive and thrive.”

“Ahh… another world?” Daren said as his mind went immediately to a lot of the more popular young-adult targeted fantasy shows of the day. They frequently featured people being summoned to other worlds. “So, you’re talking like some Narnia fantasy world or something?” He asked.

“That is one possible option.” Jehovah said. “One of the gifts that I can give you is that you may freely choose what sort of world you will go to. To give you some idea of what is available, the nature of Earth is somewhat special within the many worlds that exist. I suppose you would not know, but the amount of spirit energy that exists in this world is far greater than what is normal. You likely already know it reacts to thought. Well, it is even receptive to the thoughts from other worlds so long as these thoughts are shared over a large portion of the population of that world. Often times, creative individuals will be susceptible to those thought echos, and it will bleed it’s way into their creative works. Writers who are crafting narratives are particularly susceptible to this kind of other-world influence.”

“Wait!” Daren said. “So, are you saying that any work of fiction might be about an actual world that exists out there somewhere?”

“Perhaps not the exact world with the exact same history.” Jehovah said. “A lot of the specifics are the result of the creative individual’s own narrative crafting. However, a lot of the basic structure of the world and how it works will have come from the actual world that exists out there.”

“In other words, if I go to a super hero world I shouldn’t expect Super Man to actually exist.” Daren said.

“The individuals which inspired that character do exist.” Jehovah said. “There have been multiple individuals, and every single one of them were people sent to that cluster of worlds from Earth who nurtured the gifts I gave them exceedingly well.”

Wait! So, not only does that super hero world exist, but it also actually has other people from Earth who already went there? Also, if the super hero stories are accurate, then this world has modern technology.

“Alright, well that settles it then.” Daren said. “I want to go to that world too.” He had to admit, the allure of fantasy and magic was great. But, that glamorous allure of magic would likely wear off fast when he had to deal with a world without indoor plumbing. He wouldn’t be facing that problem in a super hero world.