THE THREE ORDEALS
'What trinket poureth thou over fool?' screeched Death, his brow wrinkling into an infinite number of furrows. 'What wants thee with such a pyramid box?'
'It is nothing!' said Sudanenka.
'Sphinx!' shouted Death, snorting the air. 'Are ye so afraid of Death that thou must cling to some Holy relic? To some Saint's squat phallus in a box, I'll wager! Hath doubt been conjured in thy heart? Speak!'
'It is all and it is nothing!' replied Sudanenka.
'What intrigue is this? Thou hast bred curiosity in Death'.
But Sudanenka remained silent. And Death continued:
'Tell me: wouldst thou a deal with Death do?'
'I strike no bargain!'
'Not for thy salvation, fool?'
'I think nothing of perishing for my Lord'.
And Death laughed, causing the whole of the abyss to shake. 'This be no match for Death. I gain nothing either way by executing my lust; thou causeth not one leaf to fall, nor wind to stir, for thou art nothing in Death's tempest. Yet Death is sporting, even when the outcome is inevitable. Therefore do I set thee three ordeals. If thou shouldst fail, thou must walk freely into the palace of the abyss. If ye not fail, then let the abyss look on God's face and tremble! What sayest thou?'
'I have rejoiced in the palace of good and evil, and all are one to me, for I have no beginning and I have no end!'
'Then choose ye well from the middle!' said Death impatiently.
'I have chosen!' replied the holy man.
'Then let it be written: Thrice shall ye face Death's legion and thrice must ye triumph!' And Death was gone into the mist, upon his steed, cursing and blaspheming.
Many thousands of years were to come and go. And Sudanenka remained within the Holy shade of sorrow, for all truth is but darkness reflected upon the light of falsity. And for many hundreds of years did it rain and thunder, without cessation, and it was a black, poisonous rain, filled with corruption that fell. But Sudanenka felt it not, for he was protected in the sacred circle of the tree; the centre of his universe; the supreme extension of his Light which reaches unto all eternity and radiates unto all the worlds.