On top of a rock spire rising high above an endless plain two beings conversed. One, a shining being with charred stumps where wings would have been had he been a real angel still, sat in lazy repose on a smooth black rock. At first look, the rock would have been mistaken for a carelessly carved marble block streaked with strange red veins. But there was nothing careless about the rock, and the veining that made it look like a piece of marble pulsed with life.
The other being on the spire, a hulking creature with two three-foot horns sprouting straight up from the top of its head, was on its knees. An incongrous position for one so obviously possessed of great physical strength despite being colored an improbable shade of yellow. This was the demon Baalpeor, and he was kneeling before the only being who was older and more powerful than he could ever become.
“Milord, Helel,” Baalpeor growled, staring at the rusty iron manacle clamped to the ankle of the one seated on the black rock.
“Ahh. You’ve noticed Our mark, haven’t you?” Helel drawled lazily.
“Forgive me, milord.” Baalpeor muttered.
“And if We didn’t, what could We do? Send you to hell?” Helel laughed and it was a laugh that rumbled throughout the endless plain like unforgiving thunder.
Far below the spire, in a pit filled to the brim with liquid rock, a flock of ravens looked up from their task. They had been feeding on the eyes of a man submerged to the waist in the hot molten rock.
“Why do you stop?” the man cried out. “You must not stop! I killed my wife and raped my son! You must not stop!” he begged the birds..
“Some idiot who calls himself ‘the Devil’ was trapped in, of all things, a computer, Baalpeor,” Helel said, when his mirth had subsided. “One of yours?”
“That may have been my son, milord.” Baalpeor replied shakily.
“Don’t be droll, demon. Your diseased cocks have produced more sons than you can count. Which one?”
“Well, milord,” Baalpeor began, strangely mollified at Helel’s casual mention of his potency, “if it was a computer, then it would have been Belphegor.”
“Ah. Belphegor. Didn’t We assign him to promote sloth?”
“Yes, milord. Computers used to be very difficult things to work, milord. So, he came to this university student named William Gates and showed him how to make it so that anyone could use a computer to do the heavy lifting for their brains.”
“We see …” Helel smiled. “Very enterprising of him.”
“As milord says.”
“Well, old friend, We say bring the whelp to Us.”
No sooner than Helel had said it than Belphegor appeared on the rock spire – a horned and bearded demon, its mouth hanging open and long gnarled fingers tipped with jagged pointy nails.
“Spare Us the theatrics, whelp,” Helel said. “Appear pleasing to Our eyes.” Suddenly, where the monstrosity was, stood a naked woman with pale skin and fiery red hair.
“Now tell Us of your encounter with one of His toys.”
The woman opened its mouth and a deep voice bellowed out:
“How to corrupt a blogger? One way is money of course. There is nothing wrong with money. But the combination of the love of money to the point of dropping one’s principle is equivalent to corruption.
LOVE OF MONEY + DROPPING OF ONE’S PRINCIPLE/S = ONE CORRUPTED BLOGGER
This can be done with nearly all things from products to people and causes. But nothing can be more savory that compromising a blogger for politics.
Light Bringer Inc is interested in recruiting souls … bloggers who will be compromised by money. Convicted by their personal convictions.”
Helel sat silent for a while.
“You speak of politics as though it were to be the downfall of these writers, and yet you speak of principles,” Helel began quietly. “But politics is a way of expressing and actualizing principles. So We suppose that you were referring to situations where the writer abandons his principles in order to promote politics not consistent with those principles?”
The woman merely nodded and smiled.
“And this you consider to be a new … shall We say, market? … for souls?”
The woman opened her mouth once more. “In the end, A Blogger sows what A blogger has planted.”
Suddenly, the woman’s mouth slammed shut and her lips melded together. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at Helel with panic and outrage warring in her gaze.
“You sound like a fortune cookie, Baalpeor’s spawn. Be silent while We decide how best to deal with your impertinence.”
Baalpeor moved between Helel and his son. “Milord! What has my son done to deserve your wrath?” His voice seethed with anger and nascent rebellion; his eyes flashed fire; and runes traced in blood spiralled up and around his great horns.
“Pax, Baalpeor,” Helel smiled. In the distance, thunder rumbled and a murder of crows appeared from out of nowhere. “We may have shown you mercy for your rebelliousness many many times, but you would do well to remember that We are the sovereign of this place.”
Helel then stood from the black rock and walked over to where Belphegor, still wearing the aspect of a naked woman, stood.
“You fool,” Helel hissed.
“Like His toys, you place too much worth on people who can be corrupted for money or things. You presume to know what Our hordes need, and so make us look like a beggars, scrambling for the crumbs that fall from His table. These … bloggers that you speak of, who abandon their principles for money and material rewards, they need no recruiting. For them and their kind, the road to Hell is wide and well-paved with bricks of gold and silver.
“Throughout history, We have been blamed for the moral deaths of these fools. And idiots like you only add to the misconception. We say to you, Belphegor, thou enemy of the sixth Sephiroth, we are not interested in bloggers – even those who fall off their moral high horses. Those will come to us in such droves that we will have to shut the seven gates and the thirty six bridges into the realm.
“We are interested, instead, in those who do not compromise. We are interested in those who continue to trumpet their principles, confident in the knowledge that they are doing good – that they are fighting the righteous war – when in fact, they do nothing but rouse people to anger and hatred and violence for their own sake, for their own satisfaction. These are the ones who will be Our agents, and even as they stoke the fires of animosity, they will be astounded by their own magnificence while We laugh at the smallness of their vision.
“Pride, Belphegor, is the sin that feeds Our flames the best. And it is their pride that will provide Us with Captains and Generals for when the time comes for us to once again storm the gates of Heaven.”
Helel reached out to caress Belphegor’s face.
“Go now, son of Baalpeor. And make things easier for these fools. Give them the casual miracles of your …. technology, to make it easier for them to spread their gospel. And do not disappoint me again.”
The storm that had gathered around the spire while Helel spoke slowly dissipated into the perpetual gloom of that Realm, leaving once again only two beings on the rock spire.
Somewhere far below, the ravens returned to their task and the man who killed his wife and raped his son sighed contentedly, once again proud that he had merited this most horrific of fates.