F3

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F3 - HADAL

Hadal, capital city of Nath and site of the Heavenly Temple of El Shaddai.

From Linan it was one more stint of forty miles to the capital city of Nath where the heavenly temple of El Shaddai lay, and this structure was far more magnificent than even Solomon's original earthly temple had been. For Solomon's temple had been completed in seven years, but work on the temple in Hadal had never ceased in one hundred thirty generations.

Following the destruction of Solomon's temple by the Babylonian king in 587 BCE, twenty-four colonists were gathered by a prophet named Lael from among members of the tribe of Judah who had scattered to Egypt. There was Lael himself and his wife Sariah; Zethan and his wife Atara; Elam the eldest son of Lael and his new wife Serach; Jemuel the second son of Lael and his new wife Iscah; Rosh the third son of Lael and his betrothed Sela; and Rimon the youngest son of Lael and his betrothed Dinah.

From among the remnant of the tribe of Benjamin, Lael chose Abner and his wife Tabitha; Jabez and his wife Keziah; Asa the eldest son of Abner and his new wife Jemima; Josiah the second son of Abner and his new wife Keturah; Tobiah the third son of Abner and his betrothed Susannah; and Asher the youngest son of Abner and his betrothed Leah.

And it came to pass that the colonists traveled from Egypt to the downfallen kingdom of Judah, which was completely vacant, and every dwelling had been looted by the Babylonians and later by robbers from the neighboring kingdoms. The Judahite and Benjaminite colonists made their way to the charred debris upon the Temple Mount in what had been Jerusalem and stood in the exact place that had been the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and they instantly found themselves on a vacant and wild hilltop in the Land We Know, in the place where they and their descendants would construct a new temple that would never be destroyed.

In the heart of the Heavenly Temple was two chambers, and only the High Priest of El Shaddai, currently Jakun Ardath, could physically enter either one of these, but the elaborate interior of the larger one, called simply the Holy Place, could be seen by the other priests briefly when they prepared Ardath on the day of the Feast of the Atonement. On that day, the High Priest put on certain vestments, and was tied at the end of a rope, for when the High Priest entered the innermost chamber any defect in the ritual would result in his immediate death by El Shaddai, and the priests would need to pull him out by that rope around a corner while they averted their eyes from looking at the open door into the Holy of Holies.

But what all this secrecy really did was hide from the priests the fact that the Most Holy Place was not a second chamber at all, but a solid block of stone, with a false door set into it, and once a year El Shaddai created a wormhole passage for the High Priest to float through until he arrived at the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, on a world that was physically very far from the Land We Know, a world where the High Priest weighed just thirty pounds. But even the High Priest didn't know was there was a trap door set into the gold-covered wooden floor in one corner of the otherworldly chamber containing the Ark.

When Lilith's people and their handlers arrived in Hadal, they entered a nondescript house in the heart of the city, and Ambe Omphal carefully inspected the place to assure herself nothing had been disturbed. While Maris and Jae stayed behind to guard the house, Ambe led the way through a narrow winding passage that went from the basement under that house in the direction of the Temple, but in eight hundred feet she encountered solid rock, much like the false door in the Temple Holy Place, and indeed, any unauthorized persons who stumbled on the house would come to the same dead end. But for Ambe and her pilgrims, El Shaddai created something like a pipe, just large enough for a person to enter horizontally. And when the pilgrims entered this pipe they felt no weight, as though they were floating underwater. But after crossing through the pipe they could stand and walk again. They felt light and free, and bounded down the passage with joy.

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