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Part Three of Four

You are becoming quite proficient with that pencil, Buffone, it becomes easier to steer your hand through the words each time we do this. I have come to enjoy our little story-telling sessions and any kind of joy is a grand prize for a ghost like me.

It seems that you too benefit from our Occult Interaction: I have observed that you can now read and write all by yourself, which you couldn't when we started this story. I can understand why; when I connect with your hand I pass through a part of your brain and can see that you have an enormous unused capacity in here. You seem to have a potentially powerful Avatar brain, Buffone, fit to house a god incarnate. Which surprised me-I mean, don't be offended, my little friend--for you DO seem to be a simpleton. But I remind myself that you were created out of earth by an entranced Theron and that was not more than six years ago. You are still a child, even though your dwarf-body looks mature.

And like any kid, you like a good ghost story. So where were we? There are so many story lines. Ah, Yes...


Brother Arnoldo (me) has been imprisoned by the Bishop of Acre to transcribe The Hellbook, possessed by the demon Magog for five years, and received the Enlightenment of his (my) Soul Memory, enabling me to remember all my mortal incarnations on Earthlevel. Suddenly armed with vast knowledge, I easily escaped the workshop that had been my prison for seven years by awakening an ancient memory (from 100,000 BC) of having once been Wa:Brashanau, the Master Sorcerer of Poseidonus. I/he cast a Spell of Anonymity. It was rather like being invisible in that nobody noticed you or what you were doing.

After seven years in that cell I simply walked out of the Templar fort of Acre, into sunlight and was free, no one even tried to stop me. I needed money to travel so I stole a few bags of coins from the Templar treasury, simply walking in and out past the guards without being challenged. I had not the slightest moral qualm about it: they had enslaved me; I had quit and was collecting my wages. But after that I was scrupulously honest with the Templar's money, paying for everything.

I needed layman's clothes so I bought them in town and then visited a barber to cut my long hair and trim my beard so that I resembled a proper citizen. I did not allow the barber to shave the top of my head; Arnoldo/I was finished with being a monk.

I was still weak from years of malnutrition so I took time to eat a proper meal and drink some wine before setting out on my journey, but careful not to surrender to a gluttony that would debilitate me. Then bought a horse and rode out of Acre just after noon, destination Constantinople.

Knowing that my escape would eventually be noticed, and that there would probably be a dedicated attempt to recapture an escaped lunatic and thief like me, I decided to ride toward Jerusalem rather than sail from Acre. Templars were not welcome there.

Arnoldo/I had never been in Jerusalem before, but I remembered living there in previous incarnations, thus knew my way around. Verily, there had been changes over the last 1200 years: the Al Aqsa Mosque stood where Herod's Temple had been and many other buildings had been replaced, but the heart of the city had changed very little. A steady stream of pilgrims and other tourists made it profitable for religious tourist attractions to maintain some of their historical integrity. Even though the Holy City had been in Saracen hands for the last 17 years, rich pilgrims of any denomination were still welcome to come and spend their money.

I found myself passing through via Dolorosa, which had not changed much at all. It seemed so familiar that I found myself re-experiencing the day another "I" had staggered weeping behind my rabbi, Yeshua bin Yosef, as he bore his bloody cross down that very same street. He was a perfect Avatar with the power to slaughter the Roman soldiers who tormented him, but accepted to be slaughtered Himself because God had plans. I had been the disciple Philip back then, Yeshua had said, "Follow me," so I did. Later I scribed my own more accurate version of a Gospel, but it was not accredited by the Synod of Carthage and never canonized into the Bible. I believe the original scroll still exists in the Vatican's own secret library.

In my wandering I was amused to come upon a small shrine where I could buy a votive candle entitling me to submit a prayer to Saint Philip-yes, myself. But I had more serious business: was looking for a whorehouse.

No, not because I now considered myself absolved of any vows of chastity-although I did-but because there was a chance I could find help. It was where Yeshua drank with the sinners. There had been a scandal about that, since he was a rabbi, but that brothel was just a cover for the House of Angels. The "girls" had been Avatars of the Angelic Race. Obviously, that had been so long ago it was unreasonable to think they could still be there, but it felt right and I had been running on feel all the way.

I found the place, still in business as I had hoped it would be, looking as it always had outside and in, sleazy but cozy, disreputable but clean. It was, of course, that same brothel I would visit as Guy d'Angouleme in 1310, 106 years later, but I didn't know about that yet.

There were men in the bar, most of whom seemed refined, intellectuals and scholars, mostly Jewish, some Arab, some rich, some poor. I knew that genetics was more important than money here: this was where the Angels secretly harvested sperm to improve their own next generations, all the while disguised as prostitutes. Avatars have a different morality than mortals. Verily, most Avatars are quite lusty: why have a permanently young and beautiful body charged with erotic energy if you aren't going to enjoy it? No foolish vows of celibacy for those horny Avatars!

The men were nervously waiting for their turn with a woman, sitting at tables drinking wine. They were nervous because there was only One Turn Each in this brothel and the women were frighteningly beautiful. I still remembered those seductive women from my visit in Herod's day, but assumed myself to be above temptation, armed with the wisdom of half a million years and knowing all about the follies of passionate men. But.

Four women came into the bar, Angels, each so beautiful that I went into shock. Once again a life of celibacy caught up with me as numbing desire literally froze me into place. I wanted ALL FOUR of them then and there, ball-wrenching pain wracked my... well, my whole body, you know. My yearning was so overwhelming that I had to leave at once and turned to go. I could not even speak with those other women at that moment, even though I was seeking help from an Avatar. I would return later to tell them of my mission, but not while drowning in an erotic morass.

But then I recognized Irisia's erotic energy among the women in that room and my desire increased tenfold, but now it was ONLY HER that I wanted. I turned to look but could not tell which one of those four beautiful goddesses was her. They only watched back.

"Irisia? You are there, aren't you?"

All four of them giggled. Funny little mortal.

"Hello Arnoldo," the innocent-looking blond said, finally taking pity on me, "we've been expecting you."

It was no wonder I had not recognized her. She looked exactly as she would over a century later: blonde and sweet, semi-eternally young, but that would be the next time we met, the last time I had seen Irisia she had been Chinese, during the Tang Dynasty around the year 642: she a concubine of Emperor Taizong himself, I a humble but deadly Shaolin priest. I hope I'm not confusing you with all this relative time, just imagine how all this was for me!

But I quickly realized who she was and how she knew I would arrive: Irisia had a talent for seeing the future, that was her special gift. I had met other versions of her several times before over the millennium, we had always been attracted to each other and had been lovers several times before.

"You look terrible," she observed, "the Magog years have drained you." It was true, I was only 42 years of age but looked 60 and doddering. "We'll have to get you back in form." My long-ignored libido came back with a rush when I realized what she was offering: intimate physical contact with an Avatar is absolutely the best way to put some high-powered meat on your bones.

She took me to her room and healed me, fed me, fucked me, turned me into an improved man, younger and stronger, ready to go into dynamic action. We also had a very nice time and discussed my eternal mission between the peaks of passion, which was why she had been waiting for me.

"I must go to Constantinople," I started, "I am responsible for the Hellbook..."

"No," she said, "Constantinople was already ruined three days after the Crusaders invaded, there's nothing you can do there to help. The Hellbook is now in the palace of the Doge of Venice. It is there we must go."

"We? Well, good, I could use the help of an Angel."

"Indeed you could. The Doge of Venice, Enrico Donaldo, is an old man and blind, not capable of applying the spells within the Hellbook. But he has a lieutenant: Fredo Malatesta, a young sorcerer who is still only learning how to use the magic of Magog. Constantinople was his first attempt at doing Evil on a large scale, but they are already planning for something much worse to be next."

So Irisia and I traveled to Constantinople, which would be another fun story to tell, but it really has nothing to do with my becoming a Ghost, except that we did manage to retrieve the Hellbook. Although that was at the price of losing my magic tablet (you know, the one describing the location of The Head of Baphomet). Perhaps I'll tell that tale another time, it really does have all the elements of an exciting adventure in exotic locations: a dashing hero (me), some spicily erotic episodes with a goddess, sorcerers battling it out with cataclysmic magic, all culminating with a brilliant swordfight between myself and a formidable foe-whom as you noticed, just happened to be yet another Malatesta. This was back before that family came to power in Rimini, two generations before Ettorino Malatesta became the first Grand Master of the dark Templars.

But we'll skip on past the Venice story for now and tell what happened later, while on our REAL mission. Irisia, knowing the future, had informed me that Baphomet was going to become active once again within the next century.

She was always adamant about reminding me how I was destined to be an Adversary of Baphomet, but it had been so long since The Head had been a threat to this world that I was unable to take it as seriously as she did. I had lived so many incarnations-hundreds!-since Sassim Arhazz/I had disposed of Baphomet. That seemed to be finished business.

I had to rummage back through some very ancient memories to refresh my knowledge of just how bad it could be when The Head was effecting the Great Satanic Plan. And there they were: Poseidon, Atlantis, Sodom & Gomorrah; all destroyed by Baphomet. The pattern was consistent: a militant dictatorship dedicated to perpetuating deliberate Evil, mass human sacrifices, black uniforms; always leading toward an Apocalypse. In your own era, The Third Reich was a classic example of Baphomet at work, as was the Khmer Rouge.

I remember how bad it got last time Baphomet had ruled.


In those days The Head was firmly mounted upon a golden altar that resembled the body of a great Serpent and thus was called the Dragon of Marduk. There was also an idol of the Sumerian deity Marduk, but it never spoke aloud as The Head did. Baphomet was not secretly pulling strings in the background back then, it was famous and feared and absolute dictator over all the empire of Babylonia. It is known to history as the Kassite Empire, but the ruling elite were only puppets and we were under their heels.

After 400 years of cruel oppression under the Great Satanic Plan, the City of Babylon finally exploded in an uproar that not even the ruthless black-uniformed Kassite Troopers could quell. The population could no longer survive the demand for more human sacrifices-it had just been raised from 10 to 100 per day, there were no slaves left alive to offer, anyone arrested for even the most minor offence had already been sacrificed and now any citizen handy was next. It was an Apocalypse, Babylon was being deliberately consumed from within. It was suicide to even protest, but the Babylonians would rather die in battle than as a sacrifice to the hated Head's Master, Shaitan.

Revolution had been attempted many times before, but always failed because of The Head's power, so everyone knew that nothing would change unless The Head was eliminated. That was a difficult challenge: not only could it kill from a distance with words and lightning, it sometimes manifested three identical inhuman agents: invincible, unstoppable elemental creatures from Hell that could tear an army apart with their hands. You probably know of them as the Hellmen.

When Babylon finally did go out of control the entire population transformed into one vast angry mob, everyone was involved. The Kassite's Storm Troopers were losing some battles, but The Head was killing rioters with lightning when they came too close to the Main Palace. The Hellmen were yet to be seen, but it was feared that they would suddenly materialize from nowhere and kill us all. There was no plan, no leader of the Revolution, it was chaos, apocalypse.

I was Sassim Arrhaz at that time, 19 years old, member of a group of student dissidents and we made revolutionary plans, unaware that The Head always knew everyone's plans almost before they were formulated. I studied engineering: bridges and buildings; but my hobby was war machines. I had been experimenting with a twin-bow-powered siege catapult, so had the great idea that if we could somehow just get The Head into the basket we could launch it out over the wall and into the tar pit, where it would sink and never be found again. It was actually a stupid idea: there was no way to pull it off, especially in a city gone amok and "getting" The Head was absolutely impossible. But nobody else had a better plan, so we tried it.

Four of us set my homemade catapult up on top of the Eastern Wall, soldiers and citizens clashing and crashing below us. Somehow we seemed to be in an unseen safe-zone, as if nobody even noticed us. I practiced catapulting rocks out over the field toward the little black pool of sludge out there, finding stones we guessed to be about the same weight as The Head to get the range zeroed in. Finally I splashed three rocks into the tar and we were ready. All we needed was The Head itself-which was still inside the Palace, blasting rioters with arcane lightning.

Another group of students had gone to the Palace to get it, but they never returned, so the four of us went to see if we could do better. And then, after a series of inexplicable events and unexpected coincidences, we found ourselves suddenly inside the Great Chamber of Marduk, looking right at The Head perched up on that serpent-shaped altar.

It should have blasted us with lightning, but the chamber had been damaged and a curtain of golden threads had fallen upon the horns. It should have killed us with a magic curse, but the metallic fabric was also in its mouth, muffling the silver tongue. Without knowing why, we instinctively wrapped The Head in the curtains and vaulted the idol from its perch. It fell with a hard and heavy crash, but only the floor was damaged (we didn't even know that the idol was indestructible).

We each grabbed a corner of our golden package and ran with it, past soldiers and guards too busy fighting rioting citizens to pay us any attention. No one could see what it was we were stealing and the muffled "bzzzt-bzzzt!" sounds went unheard. We dashed through the crowded streets, soldiers busily looking the other way, clusters of combatants just happening to separate far enough to let us pass, we never did meet the Hellman, one lucky coincidence after another. The catapult was still standing, having been ignored by all combatants, cocked and ready to fire. Luckily, no soldiers had tried to use it. Lucky, lucky, lucky, we thought.

We tossed the package up into the load basket, and were about to pull the launch lever when I realized: "The curtain! It'll drag in the wind and fall short of the tar pit!"

We all knew that The Head had to sink out of sight forever or it would be retrieved and we suspected that the golden curtains had somehow protected us, so we had a problem: how to unwrap it without getting killed?

Well, we couldn't. But getting rid of Baphomet was the only way to save Babylon, one of us had to make the sacrifice. Not that I was so brave, but we were in a situation so critical that there was no time to think. It was the sight of the soldiers finally noticing us and charging our way that made me act. I shouted at the others to run even as I threw a rope around the launch lever and looped it around my neck.

Quickly, I unfolded the curtain from the idol, exposing the horns, the horrible glassy eyes, pulled the rag from its mouth and it was bared. I had never seen The Head up close before, it looked hypnotically beautiful, such perfect craftsmanship, frighteningly alive for a stone idol. But I got just the briefest of glimpses before it lashed at me with lightning.

I didn't even feel being cremated. I was not certain that my dead weight had pulled the lever as I fell. But it had. The Head of Baphomet went flying out over the grassy field like a meteor, splashed down into the greasy black quagmire of bitumen and sank deep out of sight for the next 2500 years.

Afterward, I met others who had also died that day. They told me that Sassim Azharrz had succeeded and was regarded as Babylon's hero for a while, but I also understood that everyone else had been equally heroic. The entire event had been a vast choreography of synchronized souls effecting the removal of The Head from the Game for a period of time. Baphomet had broken too many Rules and was penalized for it by the Gods. Not that any one of us had known what we were doing at the time, you had to die to be aware that the coincidences, accidents and lucky breaks had all been arranged on the next level up.

Not that the world became a better place without The Head: Babylon still had wars and plagues to deal with. Mankind doesn't need an occult head to talk them into doing evil. But human evil is random, based upon greed and hate, while The Head promoted the Great Satanic Plan: the ultimate goal of which is to Win the Game by Apocalyptic destruction of the entire world. At least I had helped to delay that for 25 centuries.

ITALY, 1205

"I know where The Head is," Arnoldo/I told Irisa, "it was I who catapulted it into the tar pit. We can go to Babylon and find it, then hide it in a better place." I was already aware that we could not destroy it, having remembered trying to in many ways before. The Head had even survived the thermonuclear detonation of Sodom and Gomorrah.

"No," she told me, "the Rules of the Game decree that Baphomet must be allowed to rise again, the gods want to raise the stakes," those gods like to have fun too, you see, "but those same Rules allow us to establish a handicap for the opposition."

So we did. Irisia and I found our way to the abandoned Villa della Strega. We both knew about the place: I had been a priest there during the era of Atlantis until The Head's agents had come and killed us all; and Irisia could see a future wherein Baphomet would once again use it as a base of operations.

Even so, it was not easy to find. The land itself had changed over the last 11,000 years. The villa had once been a temple near the center of a city, of which absolutely no trace remained because the fall of the Antantean civilization had been so absolute. Now there were new roads to different villages to confuse the way, but we did find it eventually. I recognized it immediately when I saw it on the plateau: the high walls, the tower, the dome. Remarkably unchanged.

It was a spooky place (and this is a spook saying so!). We could understand why it remained deserted; there was an aura of ancient evil about it that kept the superstitious locals away. It was a dark stormy day when we arrived, cold and wet, so we went into the Main Hall to keep warm, and that was where we decided to hide the Hellbook. I found rusted tools in the cellar and pried some stones loose, put the book into the hole, and reassembled the wall using all my artistic skill to cover any marks of tampering. We left the next day, not wanting to stay a moment longer.

Irisia and I eventually parted ways in Rome. We had been lovers but never truly a couple (although we coupled a lot when together), she being an ageless Avatar and I a mere mortal. But before we separated I wrote that letter to my future self on the back of one of my mandala drawings and gave it to Irisia. She put it inside a silvery envelope seemingly plucked out of thin air and tucked it into her bosom, to give back to me 106 years later.

I continued to travel on alone, feeling that I should use my expanded awareness to do some kind of good for Mankind. Oh, I have lots of stories. But 12 years later in France I got caught up in a battle that ended with the burning of Nancy, was knocked unconscious and robbed of everything, even my clothes.

Thus when Arnoldo awoke he had no example of the Soul-Mandala to copy and could not even remember what it looked like. He could remember things he had done and places he had been, but had no inkling of his motivations. He never became me again, I was trapped inside the simply mortal mind of Brother Arnoldo. Stripped of expanded awareness he reverted to his Christian Faith, believing devoutly in the Holy Church once again. Eventually he joined a monastery in Angouleme, where he once again transcribed manuscripts with great skill. No more secret documents came his way to trigger any feelings, however, and he lived a simple life of devotion until he died a natural death at the age of 83.

Buffone, I can feel our transcription connection dwindling; we'll have to stop here for now. But I promise that next time we will finally come to the part where I become this very Ghost.

Yes, just One more part to go, Part Four

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