Erit Lux 1: A Deal
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A knock at the door. Pavel answers.

From the pouring rain, a keen, bleeding man steps in. His usual eloquence dulled by pain and shame, "Damn pinkertons got us. They completely got us."

"G-good lord Artemy, you're bleeding… God, come in, mum's got some soup goin. You're lucky Uni lets me home in the summer, else you would've given her a heart attack."

"Alyona still around? She's always a sight for sore eyes," Artemy creeks out, as Pavel helps him inside, and into an armchair.

"Not like she could go elsewhere, but yea she's awake. And she'd love to talk, well, spend time with you. Hell, all we'd need is Vadim to make this a family reunion."

"Not like he'd want to see me, or I him, people like him are who we're up against." He winces as his brother dabs at his wounds with a wet cloth.

"Aw come on, yer family. He may have greenbacks for half a soul, but he's not heartless."

"He's a damn banker, they're all heartless. And the one's that aren't are somewhere between naive and sadistic."

"Well, best not to talk like that when your sister's around, yelling still makes her a bit, well, yknow."

"I'll do my best, yeah? she's a sweet one"

"She's sure a sweet 'one. Now, you rest while I get bandages, yeah?"


"Vadim! My how you've grown, it looks like the fast life agrees with you, huh? So stylish, my baby boy!" Miss. Vechnayova spoke with a thick Russian accent, cooing over the richly-dressed son on her apartment doorstep, gleaming pocket-watch and monocle contrasting with obsidian vest and onyx tie. As he crossed the threshold, he was greeted by Artemy's gaze like cold glass, a concerned Pavel, and Alyona, eyes meek but filled with joy.

In the following evening, Vadim's whiskey flowed between them all, Miss. Vechnayova's pease soup, Artemy's words and wit and sophistry, The smoke of Pavel's cigarette, and Alyona's warm smiles.


In the following morning, censer'd by eggs and cooking sausage, all gathered at an old wood table to begin again their reveries.

Artemy swallowed, and spoke, voice like thin maple syrup. "How's University then, Pavel? Bunch of old geezers with cobwebbed libraries between their ears?" Artemy grinned.

Shy, unsure Pavel spoke with the cautiousness of childhood trauma. "Naw, one I quite like, my physics professor. We often talk after class, he's pretty ok." Alyona was silent, rocking black and forth, enjoying the company of her brothers.

Vadim spoke, after observing the girl for some time. He speaks quietly to Pavel: "I swear, the asylum's the best place for that girl. No way in blazes is she gonna marry."

Her pleasant grin died as she looked to him, and the others, before looking down at her hands, no longer rocking but sitting dead still. Artemy got up, slamming his empty shot glass on the old wood table, causing her to flinch. "Banking's a hell of a world eh?" Artemy replied.

"Helluva. Takes smarts, take guts, you learn facts about the world. One of these facts, dear brother?" he leaned in close: "Suffering is made contagious by pity."

Artemy stormed out, Vadim following, while Pavel came over to his sister to share a reassuring look: "Helluva family reunion, eh?"


Tubal-Cain sat across from Alyona, in the space between spaces and the time between times. He spiraled on the ancient rod like a serpent on a caduceus, his counterpart hidden from the girl.

"Be the vessel of my wisdom, Alyona Vechnayova, and the ouroboros will continue to eat its own tail. The universe will stay, the Pillars that hold up Heaven will be still."

"I mean it's not like I have any choice in this, huh?" Her voice was like strawberry jam.

"Everyone has a choice, but what are the choices? The known and the unknown, the world or the void. My other half would see the world undone, you know, and what would come after?"

"It could be something better?"

"Or something worse, there's no way of knowing. Not even with the greatest powers of computation could it be predicted. And what would be lost? Billions of souls snuffed out, murdered by you and your selfish need to rebel."

Alyona was silent. Tubal-Cain gestured to her heart. "All I need is this, dear girl. Or rather, all you need is this." Tubal-Cain pulled something from his own chest, a heart of onyx and obsidian, beating with an inhuman rhythm. "Dear girl, sweet girl, you'll have your time after all this is done. You'll have your heart, safely kept from any harm. From the asylum, from the bigots who saw you holding hands with a girlfriend, from the bullies who never understood why it was so difficult for you to speak."

Alyona was silent, then nodded. "I promise, it won't hurt a bit," and Tubal-Cain exchanged her heart for his own.


A sound started to come from from Alyona's mouth in the quiet of that room, a groan and then a shriek, as her eyes rolled back and she fell to the floor, twitching.

"What the hell?" Voice dripping with irritation, Vadim exclaimed from the hallway. Pavel rushed to her side in an effort to reassure or comfort her, while Artemy simply looked, stunned. In time, she fell still, and when Pavel checked her pulse, he looked up to the family, white-faced. "She's fine, I think. Artemy, help me get her to bed, yeah? And Vadim, get me a glass jar from the cabinet with a blue lid and a glass of salt-water."


Vadim, with a rare softness, spoke to the other two Vechnayov brothers. "How's Alyona? Despite what you think I do care for the girl."

"She's f-fine, I think, a little confused probably, disoriented?"


"The phenobarbital seemed to have helped, but she… something's not right. She's moving, but it's like she doesn't see me. And she spoke too."

"Bout time that girl spoke."

Artemy butted in: "Nothing coherent. Nothing I can understand anyways."

"I-i-i never read anything about this in the literature. Speaking in tongues, sure, but, that's technical jargon she's saying. Physics jargon, electrical specifications, and God knows what."

"What if," Vadim began, "we gave her a pencil and paper? See what she does with that."

The three brothers were silent for some time.

After migrating to the living room, Vadim took out something from his pocket. A silver signet ring, etched with a caduceus and the words "Erit Lux." "Father's," he said, solemnly. "What was that monastery he was in?"

Artemy answered. "Someplace near Moscow, can't remember the name, but it had ties to the Freemasons, yes?"

"The Freemasons, and the Gnostics-"

"Marcosians," Pavel corrected.

"And the Marcosians. Remember the stories he used to tell us, about the making of the world and the creation of man? Of Tubal-Cain."

"Tubal-Cain," Artemy rolled the name around on his tongue like a cough drop, bringing back memories of the Lord of the Sons, the Lord of Wisemen and the Theia Mania: "Tubal-Cain."

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