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Mark Felton looked around at the assembled nobility and asked Yeshua what was the occasion. Yeshua replied, With Abaddon in custody there is a very short window by which the Union of Kingdoms is able to roll back the conquests the emperor made in the Land We Know. The primary hurdle is to neutralize Demonstick, the last living dragon. These great personages have made a holy vow to execute a quest to kill him, or to die trying.

Mike said, Lord, did you not condition the next life for humans on the life of Demonstick? If the beast is killed the Pearly Gates slam shut.

'Indeed, Michael. Such was the ancient covenant we made with Belial.

Belial has broken the peace we forged at Taurus City, Mark Felton said. Surely the earlier covenant is now forfeit and the dragon safe to kill.

Do not make the mistake of thinking myself or El Shaddai to be unfaithful in the slightest degree even to agreements we have made with Belial.

Victoria said, Lord, Lilith once told me that human beings did not begin to be resurrected here or on the Sacred Mountain until well after your time on Earth came to an end, and that you were always reluctant to do it.

That is true, Vic. You see, at first I was only interested in reforming Judaism. The brothers I left behind and the rest of my followers only brought my teachings to other Jews. They called it the Way but it wasn't really another religion, just a kind of philosophical overlay to a Judaism that remained intact. But El Shaddai saw that there would be a civil war that would end with the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, and there was nothing we could do to alter that. So I found Saulus, the worst enemy of the Way, and brought him here to be personally tutored by myself for a year before sending him back with the mission to extend the Way to those who were not Jews. He was educated in such a manner that my brothers could make no mistake and deny his authority to teach, but it was Saulus himself who began to make mistakes. He got it into his head that I was going to bring all my believers here, living and dead, which would have been problematic because as you know the Land is only about the size of Montana.

Is that why you have never revealed the conditions of the next life, Lord? asked Mark. Because there really is no third life?

'Mark, once again, please do not attribute the kind of infidelity of Belial to me or my mother. There is a process, but it does not cover everybody. That would be impossible. A child is abused by her parents and dies, I make it up to her. Hitler starts a world war then commits suicide, he's done. But even some of the elect refuse to go on to the next phase.

What weapons do we have that can hurt a dragon? Mike threw out there.

Queen Alodra unwrapped a cloth from around the broken pieces of Dragon- thorn, the blade Kari Stronghammer once used to command Demonstick. This is the only heirloom we possess with which we can hope to even the odds against the dragon and it is nothing more than a pile of sharp baubles.

Victoria stepped forward to gather up the diamond shards. The one still attached to the hilt could serve as a long dagger, or very short sword. She said, I can fly behind the dragon and ram this into his brain.

'The covenant says she who wields Dragonthorn must be a virgin woman, Yeshua declared. Otherwise the dragon will not be mortally wounded.'

I have never known man, Victoria declared in turn, with a wink at Yeshua. She didn't mention the crazy sex with her yin niece Shyla or with the woman Chayn. Maybe that skirted the intent of the virginity requirement, but it was the elohim, after all, who made their demigods such horn dogs.

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Strangers In Paradise