In 2011, Steven Di Carlo, unknowingly living his ninth existence as an executioner, was about to be awakened to his purpose on earth by remembering his many past lives. Along with his prophets Michael and Samuel, they would continue their enormous task of protecting the Book of Wisdom known as the KHoKeM, the very science of an everlasting life. Rumors of its existence had some referring to the KHoKeM as the Holy Grail while others searched in vain for the ever-elusive fountain of youth.
December 12, 2012, feared as the day of the apocalypse, was in fact the date targeted for the retrieval of the KHoKeM. September 9, 2019, would be the day its secrets are to be revealed to the human race. Will the people of earth be ready for this knowledge? Will the prophets and the executioner decide that humanity is still too barbaric and choose to leave the science hidden for another thousand years, or will the path and all its wisdom forever be destroyed by the evil inside us all?
The journey begins with book 1 of this new trilogy by Frank Franco.
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Plati, Greece, AD 949
9,151 Years Later David and Leo
ON THIS DAY, two brothers would die and the people of Plati would woefully mourn their death.
The tiny village was nestled in a small cove on the southernmost tip of the Greek mainland. Its boundaries, from sea level, crawled up the dark copper-colored hills, embracing the olive groves, and spread through the lush green pastures atop Mount Zeon. The fishermen, the farmers, and the shepherds would all protest the execution of the twins, but it was to no avail as the law was the law and those who broke it would pay the ultimate penalty.
Most of the villages' populace, just under a thousand souls, lived a comfortable life that was simple but rewarding. They lived for the day and celebrated their accomplishments at night. They honored their neighbors and watched out for one another. They respected the cycle of life, human or otherwise, killing only for food, and grateful to receive it. To hang the two young boys from their community was beyond comprehension. Thus, the citizens of Plati demonstrated and demanded that mercy be shown to the brothers.
The twins, David and Leo, sons of Helena, were unknowing souls; this life was their twentieth and would be their final existence on earth. The purpose they shared was that of scientists; they were to find a cure for many of the diseases born on earth. When they committed their crime, they stole a sheep that was ill and near death.
Their medicines, they hoped, would cure the sheep and, in turn, be used to help the citizens of Greece and elsewhere. The owner of the animal saw this as simple theft and had the boys arrested and charged.
The families of Plati went back generations. Although they embraced the Greek culture and identity, their roots were seeded by the multitudes from neighboring lands that had conquered their Mediterranean paradise. From the Romans to the Persians, the Langobards to the Avars and even the Slavs, they all took their turn at raping and pillaging this peaceful society. Year after year, century after century, they came, they conquered and then usually left.
Almost fifty years had passed since the last invasion, and they prayed another would never come. The armies of Greece, small in numbers but valiant in courage, would fight until death to protect their citizens. The farmers and fishermen would join them in the futile battle, but they knew the outcome would be the same: many would die, the women and children would be violated, and Greece would be conquered yet again. Each night, they prayed for peace and harmony, and for the last fifty years, their prayers had been answered.
For the most part, the villages were self-governed, crime was minimal, and culture and religion were dominant. Severe penalties were enforced if one broke the law. To do so was to disrespect your neighbor, and to disrespect your neighbor was a violation punishable by death. It had been forty-eight years since anyone had been executed. Today, the two brothers whose family was among the most prominent in the village would be hanged.
The two brothers had experimented for years but usually only with plants and sometimes with each other. They were healers of the future, their mother would proudly proclaim. They had healed rashes and wounds for many of the villagers with their concoctions derived from various plants. They claimed that, in their dreams, the gods showed them how, and they felt compelled to follow their instructions.
The house of Constantine and his wife, Althaia, was among the oldest not only in the region but also in all of Greece. Constantine himself sat as a governor of Greece and would venture to Athens twice a year to sit at the head of its council.
Constantine and Althaia had three sons — Sebastian, Thaddeus, and Michael. Sebastian, blood of Althaia, lost his birth father to a fishing accident days before he was born. It was soon after his first birthday that Constantine, who was then a widower and thirty years Althaia's senior, took Sebastian and his mother in and cared for them as his own. They married immediately and did so with the blessing of Althaia's mother, Helena. She was proud to have a governor as a son-in-law despite his age. Thaddeus was born after Sebastian's second birthday, and as brothers, they were inseparable for thirteen mischievous years. Michael, still a small child at the age of five, would only pester his two older brothers.
Helena had twins who were older than both Sebastian and Thaddeus. David and Leo were the uncles, but because they were older by only a couple of years, the four were more like cousins and together they would run amok throughout the countryside. On many occasions, the four would be seen riding sheep and competing to see who would fall off first. They would dive from the cliffs, challenging each other on who could come closest to the jagged rocks; they would race through the meadows to the delight of all who watched and proclaimed that their swiftness would one day win acclaim for Plati in the games in Athens. Mischievous, yes! Troublemakers, occasionally, but the villagers adored them. And today, to their horror, they would mourn for the two of them.
* * *
Three months earlier, on a cold stormy night, three young boys laden with piles of wood strapped to their backs scurried to get home before the storm trapped them in the woods. On this day, the twins, along with their nephew Thaddeus were charged with gathering the wood to heat their homes during the short Greek winter. Still miles away from their homes, they watched as the dark clouds rolled in and flashes of lightning exploded all around them. The twins, knowing the treachery that they would face should they try to make their way home, instead decided that they would make their way to a shelter that they knew all too well.
The shallow cave was carved into the side of the hill above the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The cave was the ideal spot to weather a fierce storm, but more often, in better conditions, they would use the cave to hide from their parents. The entry was angled perfectly so that its opening faced inland instead of out to sea; it was guarded by thick bushes and trees that would protect them from the looming storm.
As they often did when they were in the cave, the threesome sat around a fire and exchanged stories of ancient legends and, of course, the gods. Settling in for a long night, they began to prepare their meal when a loud clap of thunder rocked the tiny cave.
The impact of the thunder was deafening as bolts of lightning tore apart nearby trees. The three boys, startled and frightened, scurried as far back into the cave as they possibly could. Thaddeus was the one to let out the loudest scream, which drowned out the muffled cries of the older twins. Then nervous laughter seemed to calm the three boys as they looked at one another, attempting to be brave.
The torrential rain that had followed the thunder and lightning was now pounding the mountainside, creating streams of mud and debris that crashed past the cave and over the rocky cliff down to the sea below. Still the cave was a perfect shelter against the elements, and now with the fire at a full roar, it was as warm and cozy as their own home and the comfort of the fire seemed to calm their nerves.
"Brother," David called out in a serious tone, his bright eyes reflecting the dancing flames of the roaring fire, "last evening, Mother told me a story of ancient remedies used to heal those ailing of the stomach pains, but her remedy made little sense to me. She said if we scraped the rot from old bread and even the rot from meat, then boil it with milk that it would heal those and many other ailments."
Leo pondered what he had just heard, his hand on his chin, his eyes closed in deep thought. "Odd," he responded, but then just as though some form of clarity hit him between the eyes, he jumped up and started pacing around the fire. "In my dreams!" he declared. "Two moons ago, the gods sent me a vision of a metal cauldron glowing as red as the embers in this fire." Excitedly, he pointed at the redhot remnants of what was once a branch from an olive tree. "This caldron was shallow and empty and glowing as red as the fires of hell. It had a groove that led to a spout which was angled to pour out onto a plate that sat in cold water. In my vision, the gods poured a mixture of what appeared to be goat's milk and blood. The mixture flowed through the red-hot groove, then what was not lost in steam fell onto the cold plate, creating a thick curd. We shall ask Mother if this vision was that of her ancient remedy."
Young Thaddeus sat silently as he listened to his uncles debate the remedy. Then when it appeared that they were done, he decided to contribute and proclaimed, "I also had a vision from the gods!" His eyes were unblinking as he looked for interest from his two uncles. And then to his surprise, Leo sat down next to him, put an encouraging arm around his shoulder, and begged, "Tell us, nephew, what do the gods tell you?" Excitedly, Thaddeus began telling them of the dream he has had night after night for as long as he could remember, "In my dream, I am much older than I am now." Pointing at himself, he wanted to be sure they understood that the story came from an older version of him. "I was in a large stone house that reached high up into the heavens, its peak as sharp as a needle, just like this." And Thaddeus proceeded to draw a shape of a triangle in the dirt floor of the cave. "Inside this great house, I was not alone. There was a scholar with me who was not much older than you."
Thaddeus, whose heart was racing as he recounted his dream for the first time to someone other than his father, was pointing at his twin uncles. Then he stood up and began pacing as he continued, "In this vision, I am carrying a stone box and am being led deep in to the caverns of this house that was as big as a mountain." His arms arced in a large circle, expressing the enormity of the structure.
Then David jumped in, "Who was leading you, cousin?"
"Why, the gods, of course!" proclaimed Thaddeus. "In every dream, I follow them farther and farther into the cavern but never seemed to reach the bottom." Thaddeus paused, a look of confusion twisted his young face, his nose curled up while his eyes scrunched downward as he wondered why this was so. "Go on," David encouraged, "I think that I have had a similar vision of this great house that you speak of. Was it full of colorful drawings?"
"Yes, yes!" shouted Thaddeus. The young son of Constantine was overflowing with emotion as acceptance from his uncles was indescribable. So he continued, "The drawings are everywhere. There are lions and horses wearing jewelry and strange-looking animals that were both human and creature."
"I've seen them," interrupted David as Leo looked on dumbfounded.
"Why have you never mentioned this to me, David?"
"I will explain later, brother. First I would like to hear more from Thaddeus. Go on, Thaddeus. I beg you to continue."
Now Thaddeus knew for certain that he could finally share his fears, the ones that had been haunting him for the last month since he foolishly angered the gods. Then with a long thoughtful pause, he became more serious. His eyes, now focused at the two older boys, were filled with apprehension while his hands trembled atop his knees. "Well," he began, a sheepish tone taking over his voice, "last moon, on one of the nights when the gods came, I was as curious as I had been for many seasons. These thoughts of desperately wanting to know what it was that I was carrying were hard to set aside, so I foolishly tried to open the stone box, and it angered the gods. They scolded me and said that the time to open the gift was not now and would not be the time for at least a millennium. They said that I must wait until the year MMXII before I would be allowed to open the gift and must protect it even if it cost me my life."
The three boys fell silent; each of them returned to their spots around the fire and sat quietly, their eyes as round as saucers. The gods were not the ones you should anger. How could this be possible? the twins simultaneously thought. Thaddeus would have to become an immortal. Their questions continued to build and were hard to contain until, finally, Leo broke the silence with an "Um." The glow of the fire danced around the walls and up to the ceiling of the cave. Hot embers popped sometimes, casting sparks toward the opening, seeking the fresh air and the torrential rain that was still pounding the mountainside. Somewhere in the night, the sound of rushing water was uprooting yet another tree, but still the silence in the cave was deafening.
* * *
On the day of the execution, Constantine wept in private. He felt as though his world had come to an end. How would he live with himself after today? He strained to understand the rationale of the founders. He understood that the brilliance of the twins had far surpassed their purpose, and perhaps they should have been born much further in to the future. But how could it be that their brilliance could cause irreparable damage to this world? His face contorted with pain at the thought of hanging the two boys; it was too much for him to bear. Still, the founders had spoken, and in his earthly state, he had no recourse to overrule them, so unfortunately, the outcome would not change. David and Leo would die.
Constantine was born a prophet; thus, he had been awakened to his purpose as well as the calling of others for his entire life. His purpose was to guide Thaddeus in his quest as an executioner and to direct Sebastian in the continued efforts for the formation of an improved governing system. Sebastian and Constantine were both founders, and although they had already experienced their twenty-first existence, for both, this was their first birth on earth. Thaddeus was a relatively young soul living his eighth existence, and although this was his sixth on earth, it would be his first as a knowing soul. Upon his awakening, Constantine would guide him in the understanding and responsibilities of not only an executioner but also as an enlightened one charged with protecting the Namzu Anunnaki, the Book of Wisdom.
When the elders, led by Constantine, condemned David and Leo to death, the villagers revolted. "They are special. They have been blessed by the gods," one man shouted with anger.
"You dare not murder them, and if you do, then may all the gods in heaven curse all of you until the end of time," shouted another as the city elders sat quietly.
"Constantine?" Helena called, weeping and pleading for mercy. "These two boys are the brothers of your wife, the uncles of your sons. Surely you must have some compassion. They have helped you with your flock. They cured Thaddeus of the poisoned hives, then saved Sebastian from the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean. My sons have been like sons to you. Why do you not step forward and speak for them as I would do for your sons?" Then she fell to her knees, her arms flailing as they hit the ground beneath; her torso was twisted in agony as she pounded the earth with one breath and then reached for the heavens, gasping and beseeching the gods not to allow this tragedy to unfold.
Helena was also born a prophet; her purpose was to guide David and Leo through their studies in an effort to eliminate the deadly diseases that plagued the earth. In the beginning, Helena and Sebastian were from the same culture and were elected to the council upon arrival on earth. This is her fifth rebirth on earth, all as the birth mother to the twins, and was her eighteenth existence overall. As a council member of the path, her loyalties to the council was very strong, and with Constantine as the head of this council, she could not understand how he could make such a devastating decision. After all, he and Sebastian had been the architect of the path toward utopia, and David and Leo's contributions were paramount to the plan.
Constantine appeared unmoved by Helena's pleas; still, his head hung low as only he understood the pain that was consuming every inch of his being.
"Husband!" The shriek could be heard for legions as she expelled hatred toward him. "Husband, hear me as I speak." Althaia's tone was venomous. For all her beauty, Althaia's anger twisted her face into a frightening mask. "Carry forth this awful deed, and you will lose us for all eternity. If you choose to murder my brothers today, my vengeance will be felt throughout the land. You, as elders, know of what I speak. I order you that in the name of our sacred path, you must release them!" She continued her tirade until her fortitude abandoned her. She then covered her face to hide her shame as she begged and pleaded, moaning and promising anything and everything for their release, and then with one last futile blast of anger, she collapsed next to her mother and wept with her.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Prophets and the Executioner Book 1"
Copyright © 2018 Frank Franco.
Excerpted by permission of Page Publishing, Inc..
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