In another time, half a world away, military commanders waited for the Time of the Horn, the early morning when the predawn light let the herdsmen begin to make out the horns on their cattle, to launch their two pronged attack. It was a time of death that Maier knew well for he had been there to slay and sort the angelyk and the spirits of men.
Now death had been industrialized. There were no solemn times for reverence as something crafted by the Creator was destroyed. What ovens, crematoriums, and labor camps had begun, mockeries of worship had completed. Just as a time of stillness was removed from the day, the day of worship was removed from the week and replaced with a workday, in all but name.
Not far away, the lights of a small city shown on the clouds, but from the train tracks on, out past Heiki's house, the power was out. All was dark, but in the predawn light Maier begin to make out the tops of the trees, the power poles, and the roofs of houses as he flew towards his destination. Reminiscent of seasons past, Maier took the time for quiet reverent thought as his flight terminated on the sun deck of Heiki's house.
Maier took his command to pray unceasingly seriously. Some times it was easier than others to be obedient and while he knew that love did conquer all, he also knew that through obedience, comes relationship. So he prayed, but to the West, the direction of night, waking in the trees and taking flight, curiously early for sparrows are a creature of the day and it was still dark.
Heiki was a lucid dreamer, given to dark and violent dreams, memories of which would usually entertained him upon waking. Other times he'd travel astrally. The morning he died, it made no sense, at first, to him. There was no silver cord connecting him to his body, his anchor in the astral plane, and the guns that were an extension of his arms, projectors of his thoughts, were missing too. Then he understood that he was dead and in the presence of a supernatural being who had been waiting for him. He wasted no time.
"I'm ready" Heiki said, as the swarm of sparrows twisted in the dark, it's numbers growing. "No light?" he pondered, wondering if all he'd heard and believed was false.
"You'll see the Light, soon enough" Maier answered, startling Heiki, for he wasn't sure he had spoken aloud, in a tone that could have been a statement of fact, or a warning. The cloud of sparrows was growing, a darkening cloud contrasting the breaking dawn, as it looped and swirled unnaturally close to the two.
Feeling the hilt of his sword growing warmer, Maier knew that evil was present. In what form, he wasn't sure.
Reaching out with his left hand, Heiki gently caught a sparrow, his thumb and forefinger on the neck, an effortless scooping motion captured a second with his remaining 3 fingers. A quick glance showed 2 sparrows, trapped in a powerful hand, unharmed, ready to take flight.
"I'm ready" repeated Heiki, his tone belaying his impatience. Without an apparent thought, he crushed the sparrows and dropped them in the yard. Overhead the swarm broke and flittered away. Where the crushed birds fell, the grass died in a 2 foot circle. Amongst the anguish and heartache that was soon to awake in the house, it would be days before the dead spot would be noticed. Years would pass before grass would again grow there.
The two spiritual beings passed from the physical to the eternal realm and with a thought, flew to their destination. Reality melded into a long hall, evenly spaced bunks with adjacent cubbyholes with hooks and shelves, told Heiki he was in a barracks. The absence of gear and bedding told that it was vacant.
"I wanted to talk to you before you were judged,"
Heiki nodded in acquiescence, part of him relieved that his understanding of the afterlife could begin to fit with the truth of it.
"To thank you and apologize. I take lives, both the living and the dead. It's never changed, but the people, they've changed, even in the blessed land, they don't pause for death."
What this was about, Heiki couldn't imagine.
"I was there when you held the fetus. The Creator is worthy of the reverence you had for that passing life. That's rare in this age. Thank you."
"That's not what you brought me to a private place to tell me. What is it that you need an abandoned building to talk about?" Demanded Heiki as he zeroed in on the issue.
"The mother's, they are always attacked by Unending Guilts, Relentless Remorses, or even more powerful unclean spirits. Their souls are ripe for infection. I slay the ones that would destroy the mother."
"I slayed none that day. The more powerful ones fell into you. I was not expecting it. It's never happened before, or since, I was out of position to do anything about it" and with a look of mature sincere regret "I'm sorry."
"God's will, and all that. You think a couple more of those things will make a difference?" The blow to the shoulder, thought it rocked Maier on his feet, punctuated an absence of blame. It was powerful, but not hostile. "I'm ready, lets go."
"One more thing..."
"The Heavenly Choir"
"You need to hear"
Heiki grabbed Maier by the back of his tunic and girdle and began for force march him. "I know what I believe. I'll go hear it after I'm judged." After a few steps, it was obvious Maier was done argueing, and Heiki let go of him. Many of the buildings glowed like alabaster held to the sun, but one stood out. It's architecture spoke Temple of the Most High, and it was formed of what looked like molten gold, so hot it was both transparent and reflective. It was towards this building the two headed.
The layout of the Temple told it's one purpose. It was to serve the Most High and therein was a crowd, doing, presumably, just that. On the dais, from three thrones, shone a white light that struck with the power of a tidal current and threatened to wash Heiki away except for the love in the light that held him fast. Stories of how anyone could see the light and not go to it seemed incredulous to him.
The purity of the light contrasted with Heiki's life and memories. Though he had strong faith, he saw that if all that was unclean in him was burned away, there'd be nothing left. Not even ash. He knew that he didn't belong here. He knew something was going on around him, maybe something important, but it was lost to him.
The light faded and a throng became apparent. Their different roles suggested by their wardrobe, priests, military commanders, others unique, but unknown. One stood out, an older distinguished male, unlike the others, wearing clothes Heiki recognized, a pinstripe suit, black with fine white stripes, cut from the best of fabrics, white spats over polished black shoes, one who radiated his own light. However as bright as it seemed to be, it didn't reflect off anything in the room like earlier light did. It didn't even reflect off his glossy shoes.
Standing right next to Heiki, Maier called "Before Judgement is passed, does anyone have anything to say?" but Heiki was lost to his thoughts.
The distinguished gentleman began "Do I really need to list all of his transgressions. Transgressions that grieved you, oh, my most gracious host?" Though the lower case 'host' was an old joke, he still grinned at his mockery. It was all he had.
Lost in his remorse, Heiki forgot his faith. He knew he didn't belong, but neither did the guy now speaking. Heiki knew his name, knew where he belonged, and knew how to put him there.
Standing to his left, Heiki stepped on Maier's left foot with his right, pushed him backwards with his left hand while grasping his sword in a backhanded grip with his right hand, the hilt so hot it seared his hand. With is left foot trapped, Maier reached up for the hand on his chest as he felt his sword draw out. He did have the frame of mind not to try to grab the blade as he went down.
One who was obviously a military commander stepped between Heiki and the man in the suit, his hand raised in a universal gesture of "Halt!" Heiki knew what he had to do. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. A right uppercut caught the commander under the chin, the added mass of the hilt in his fist lifted him off the ground, the blade swinging forward bit into the flesh of the left armpit and continued up and exited just above the right ear.
The oxymoronical foolishness of ceremonial armor caused Heiki to grin.
With his right fist above his left shoulder, Heiki reversed his grip on the sword, letting it's inertia swing the point up as he doubled his and stepped into the downward swing on his target. The old man lost his composure, shrieked like a girl, and as the sword descended, had his bowels fall out of his suitcoat. He'd been mortally wounded, disemboweled, or worse all this time, putting on a front. As the sword bit into his shoulder, he was gone, retreated.
Heiki laid the sword down, looked at the cleaved commander, walked to the dais head in hands, kneeled, and began "He was right about me. I've..."
"Father, I know him." interrupted a voice who's substance gave Heiki understanding into how a spoken word could create the universe.
Back in the barracks, Maier was explaining that the slain commander had been tasked with defeating the principalities and powers that had claimed Persia and been suffering devastating defeats lately. That a year ago, this very barracks had been full of troops under his command. Troops he had lost in battle.
Heiki knew is instincts were good, just as he knew his faith was good. Maier was still shocked that the Persian Commander's reaction and to who's defense he jumped. That the defeats in Persia were a betrayal was unimaginable.
Later that night, a servant interrupted the two in the barracks to deliver a sword, a decree, and to wash Heiki's feet. While washing his feet, the servant explained that the swords name is "Mine" and he is being offered the command of the Host to retake the Persian realm.
Realizing that the servant washing his feet had the authority to assign commanders to armies, Heiki cried, awash in a love that threatened to wash him away.