Earth In Hell (The Damnation Of Father Andrew Part 5) by Keith Kitchen

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SUMMARY: Father Andrew and his team, still in the Third Circle, search for the soul they are to save, but the forces of Hell are rallying to waylay them.

I
(Near the Garden of Gethsemane, outside Jerusalem, Wednesday, early afternoon, the day before the Last Supper)

"Walk with me, Judas."

His voice was soft, as it almost always was, though Judas had heard his Master's voice take on a hardened edge when necessary, as he had when he had cleared the Temple just days before. Yet, there was something in his voice tonight that brought a tinge of fear to Judas.

"Of course, Master." The past three years had seemed almost an eternity, though they had also sped by with a speed that astonished Judas. They were almost a blur, yet he wouldn't have changed a thing. He had changed so much that he could barely recognize himself.

The pair walked away from the rest of the group onto the road towards Jerusalem. After a few hundred yards, out of sight of others, the Master stopped and placed his hands on Judas' shoulders and looked into his eyes in a manner that precluded Judas from even considering looking anywhere else. There was intensity in those eyes that he had never seen before and they frightened the large man more than he had ever been frightened before.

"I must ask you to do something, Judas, a hard thing. Perhaps the hardest thing anyone on this Earth has ever been asked to do." A small, sad smile touched the Master's face. "It may be the hardest thing anyone will ever be asked to do."

"Anything, my Master," Judas said.

"Perhaps you should ask what it is I need of you." Sadness permeated the Master's voice.

"Name it, and I shall do it," Judas said, firmly.

The Master looked sharply at Judas. "Would you burn in Hell for me for thousands of years? Would you stand at the right hand of the Great Enemy as his greatest trophy, his greatest triumph? Would you be reviled for all time, a pariah among the Godly to do my bidding? Would you sell me for a pittance, betray me so that my Father's will be complete?" Anger flashed into the Master's voice, attaining the hardness that Judas had heard just days ago.

Shock flowed through Judas. He knew something was happening and that whatever it was, it was building to a climax. Every one of the Twelve could feel it. None worried, however; for they knew that the Master would deal with it.

And now, this.

"Surely, you are jesting, my Lord," Judas snorted.

The Master shook his head. "No, Judas. I am not. You, one of my trusted Twelve, perhaps the most trusted, has to do it. There will be work for you near the end of time and only from the right hand of the Fallen One can you accomplish it." A small smile crossed his face. "Not to mention that you must betray me."

Tears began to roll down Judas' face. "How can I possibly betray you? I love you! I would as soon cut off my own hands!"

"Would you stand in the way of the Lord's plan? Not even I can do that, Judas." Anguish was plain on the Master's face. "You must go into Jerusalem and seek audience with Caiaphas and Annis and give them the means to arrest me.

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