On becoming an Iltani

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On becoming an Iltani

Post  Eleazar on Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:11 pm

I am not often prepared for the shock of eons to strike me as I sit. I seldom speak of how much I have lost since Babylon, since Jerusalem, since Istanbul, since Stuttgart, or since Brooklyn. What is important is that others believe that I hold a millenia of history and ideas within this corpse. Alas, but I have lost so much since then--in the long centuries of sleep and silence. This cannot be helped. But, I prefer to dwell on those things that I do remember. I remember the Law, and I remember my duty. I remember what I am waiting for, and I remember what I am doing walking around this mouldering city in the dead of night. And tonight, I remember something else. I remember what I am. I remember what I must do, and who I must kill. Lo, I have never forgotten his face, but it is oftentimes I forget exactly why he must die.

We were both priests, both Levites in the service of the second temple--both bound to G-d as his caste of chosen servants. I had been born in Babylon during the 59 years where Israel was cleansed of the elements that had brought it into the hands of the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, and the Persians. When we returned with Ezra to the blasted sand and desolated mount that had once been Zion, and once we had built the Temple up again and sanctified it in the name of the Law, I took my place as a rightful servant before the altar, alongside Him--my only friend.

I cannot remember his name, or how we met, but we were brothers in the priesthood--burning the flesh of the sacrifice together, and eating that which the LORD had provided us, his shewbread and his offal. We ministered unto him for many years, faithful and pure in our service until the day that the Stranger came.

He stumbled in on an ill wind in the dead of night. My brother-priest and I were late in the temple, stoking the great sacrificial flame and changing the incense when we heard his howling in the dark. We came upon his wretched form as he writhed pitifully on the steps of the temple--trying to lick up the few spare drops of fallen calf's blood left from the morning's sacrifice. Seeing this heinous, unclean act on the grounds of the temple moved me to have the man killed on the spot, but my brother held me back, telling me to take him into the huts on the outskirts of the city wherein we made our homes. There, he begged us for blood, not speaking of why. I balked at his request, but my brother opened a vein for him, and he drank greedily until my brother pulled himself away. It was near to dawn when we found him, and, as my brother returned to the temple, he begged me to hang sackcloth over the door and ceiling. I obliged him and fell asleep alongside him.

When I awoke, we were in the temple. I raged against my brother, for he had brought an unclean gentile into the House of the LORD. He told me that our new friend had much to teach us and much to share as a reward for our kindness. For many nights--and only now do I understand why the night alone called us into the Stranger's presence--we were taught things. We learned things that, to call simply profane, would be an insult to the darkest of demons and the lowest of wizards and soothsayers. He enlightened us on many things, and I, curious then as I am now, supped on this dank and horrid knowledge for as long as I wanted. He told us, then, after many nights, that he wished to reward us for our care, for we had ministered to him as we had ministered to G-D. We had brought him blood sacrifice in bull and lamb, never quite understanding why. He told us that he was soon departing our land, but, he would give us a final gift--a gift of life he called it--a gift of immortality.

Alas, all have sinned in their times. David sought to number what the LORD had deemed innumerable, and even wise Solomon deigned to whoredom and the worship of the Baalim. Moses and Aaron had called for the waters of Meribah without thanks to the LORD. I am no Aaron, and I am no David, so I am thus not without worse sins than they, and not without temptation. In that black night, I gave over the life that G-d had given me, along with my brother, to become something else--something vile. Until morning, the Stranger told us what we must know to live. He told us that the great fires of the temple were deadly, and the light of the sun was worse. He told us that we must become unclean and drink of the blood of the sacrifice, though it was the LORD's. I thought, what great harm were these sins--these iniquities--when considering the whoredoms that I had already committed. As he left, my brother and I swore to protect our secrets, not just from G-d, but from his servants the Levites, and even the high priest himself, the Kohen Gadol.

But, I was weak, and I grew hungry for the blood of the innocent, while my brother grew hungry for power. Each night I would set out into the city to feed on whom I could find. Perhaps he did the same, but he was also plotting his ascension, and my downfall. One night, while I fed in the city he slew the high priest, and, in finding himself the next in line for power, took up the ephod, the tzitz and the hoshen, and blessed his cursed body with Urim and with Thummim. He came to me, with his armsmen the Reubenites, and caught me as I fed on a woman in the dark streets of Jerusalem.

"Alas", he cried, "a monster is become our brother Eleazar!"
"In his blind hunger he hast slain the master of the Kohanim!"

In a rapid trial arbitrated by a mob bearing spears and flame, I was pronounced guilty and exiled into the desert, never to return. I was put away from God--from YHWH--whom I had served with the utmost faith and virtue these years! The hateful machinations of my brother had polluted me with foul knowledge and fouler curses. I had descended from a chosen man to a cursed and unclean beast, and driven into the sands. I had been removed from my calling, my love, and put at such distance from my LORD, who had doubtlessly rejected me from him, filled as I was with cursed blood and unclean practice. I had lost what no man should lose--his place and his personhood. For power my brother had slain and plotted, and he had received his reward.

I hid myself in the sands, as the Stranger had showed me, and wandered for weeks, lost and empty of feeling or purpose. Then, one night, in the deep, sepulchral darkness of the desert night, it came to me. I buckled to the ground and felt such a great hatred that I had never known flow through me in hot, boiling torrents. I thought only of one thing. I craved death! I craved revenge! My brother must die! I battled with the rage for hours, days even, until I brought it low and made it mine. The words of the Stranger, who spoke of Iltani, alas, how could I have known he was among them?

I wandered to Hebron and began again there. But, I realized, redemption was far off, for the Messiah had made no sign of coming, and I lacked the power to bring down my brother. In a tomb below the city, I slept, tasting for the first time the cold. But, I can wait. I can wait a very long time indeed. And as I awake again in New York, with the memory of the desert fresh in my mind and the taste of venom in my throat, I know he is out there--and I will find him.

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Eleazar

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Re: On becoming an Iltani

Post  Story "the Fray" Teller on Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:35 pm

Awesome backstory man, incredibly authentic and genuine feel to it, damn fine job.

15 xp for these insights into your character's history and motives. I'll definitely incorporate your long-lost brother in if that's cool with you, be very interesting to see where he is at in the modern nights.
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