NOTE: WHILE USING RELIGIOUS SOURCES, THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE NEITHER ASCRIBES TO OR SUPPORTS ANY PARTICULAR RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE OR SECT.
“Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 * Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. 6 b You will hear of wars* and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. 7 c Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. 8 * All these are the beginning of the labor pains. 9 * d Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; 12 and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold..."
A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?
We live in a world which is increasingly one of conflict and confusion.
Many appear to take this as a sign that the End Times are coming, in fact many ancient cultures predict such an event in one form or another. In literature, especially our particular area of the Self-published or Indie Author, battles between immortal beings of great power, the world post-apocalyptic, the zombie plagues have become rather popular indeed. Even mainstream entertainment has seen a sharp upturn in demand for these genres. Some might call it zeitgeist. Some might call it a sign of the times, which us actually the same thing only not in German. Others might call it prophesy.
The #ChroniclesOfEnoch call it The Canvas.
The character of Lucifer was always going to be a challenging one of present as well as a controversial one. He's been done before. We have the lusty beast of Legend, we have the nebulous metaphor of Keyser Soze. We have de Niro's excellent foil to Keanu's moral lawyer. We have the comic book anti-hero of @neilgaiman 's creation....there are a great many. We even chuckle as autocorrect applies a perhaps subtle alteration to the name of the actor who faced two incarnations of Lucifer (played excellently Robert de Niro and Peter Stormare)... irony? No, we don't think so. Coincidence? We've never believed in that. Maybe that fine Hawaiian actor who refuses to age is hiding something? There is a conspiracy theory about that.
So, in representing Lucifer, we are not concerned with a dearth of information and representation, rather than with quite a wealth of it. Let us take a small aside and explain something important about the origins of the Chronicles. We have always been fascinated by conspiracy theories, not the actual theories themselves, though. No, we are more intrigued by their existence and also by the sheer quantity of them, of humanity's seeming inexhaustible need for them. So contradictory are most of them that we started to wonder. Where did they come from, why did so few agree or appear to undermine one another, and what could their purpose possibly be? At this point, we welcomed Asmodeus in what appeared to be his perfect incarnation.
We knew the Chronicles had to deal with conspiracies, of shadowy figures infiltrating various levels of human society for their own nefarious ends but we soon saw that there was no way we could include all of them. Or could we? Asmodeus would tell us about that later. It took a large leap in logic and study into what we'd like to call the source material; the ancient religious works of just about every long gone society.
The Aztecs, the Incas, the Mesopotamians, the ancient Jews and Romans (by way of the book of Revelation and of Isiah and, of course, the titular Book if Enoch himself...)...they all spoke of a similar event. Many names could be given to such a thing as that, we prefer concordance. Our Lucifer would call it a big hint.
Now, let us return to the Biblical Lucifer. We all know his origin story do we not? Greatest Angel becomes greatest betrayer who vows revenge upon the human race upon his first defeat. He built Hell to punish the dead and to oppose his Creator father (always found that one odd... would the Embodiment of All Evil be in re likely to reward the wicked if we follow the current story?). He's always existed. He was Baphomet, Seth, Horus, Baal, Sekhmet, Hel, Ahriman...the Unmaker God who opposes the Creator and is jealous of His Creation. Essentially, we decided, this is the basic desire that drives Lucifer; jealousy.
But is it really that simple? Let us go one step further and ask this, between father and son there is always conflict. In the subtle battle for male dominance, the son (or daughter but we're giving Lucifer male traits for tradition's sake but don't worry, you'll see he's no stereotype later) will rebel in his attempts to show that he knows better and is worthy of, ultimately, love and respect for himself. As himself not as a reflection of his parent(s). Lucifer might be an angel turned demon but he's still a son in some sense of the word. We decided that he is, deep down, looking for his father's approval, for the Creator to be proud of him. He will gain this favour by proving that he was right about the human race all along. So he appears to think. Essentially we humans are caught in the middle of what he could call the First Argument. This began to take us in some controversial directions once we really began to explore what that would entail. Lucifer wants to remove all of mankind's 'support systems' and have them behave according to their innate nature's. That which he claims will cause us to betray and disappoint the Creator. Our innate nature, he says, is that of the selfish animal, interested only in its own betterment. Several churches and, ultimately, those who express loyalty to the world's smallest theocratic country feel we are unfairly targeting them and, some of the self-proclaimed religious in America even accused us if spreading 'the devil's message' in talking about them in such a manner.
The emails were rather unpleasantly non-campassionate and non-charitable, ironically enough. So, he infiltrated the churches, he created the false prophets, he engineered ways to divide us and set us into conflict with each other. Ultimately, he wants us to destroy ourselves for what we could call the ultimate "I told you so!" moment. Bringing about the apocalypse and having demons slaughter us wouldn't help his cause at all. Billions of deaths simply to prove a point? It's hard to imagine colder but, to Lucifer, we are all just pieces in a game, after all.
So, we have the ultimate villain but he seems a little two-dimensional doesn't he? Yes he has some subtlety and depth, we can sort of understand his motivations and see what drives him but can we relate? Think about it. Then consider how he's going to do it. Enter Asmodeus, master manipulator and Lucifer's right-hand (or left-hand?) demon. Our solution for giving credence to all of those conspiracy theories as we mentioned earlier.
Asmodeus is the mastermind, the one demon who seems able to do that one thing the others are incapable of; to invent, to adapt, to change. Change is something eternal beings seem to lack. They don't change and evolve like we do. Lucifer is always Lucifer. Asmodeus is different, Asmodeus is inventive. He found solutions to problems Lucifer just couldn't get his very fixed mind around. He also discovered how possession of human bodies could give his kind human traits and emotions yet ensure they do not become slaves to them as, Lucifer claims, the humans are. It is said that it was he who discovered the Anathema Stones (which will require at least one article of their own). He showed Lucifer that, just like the eldest son (or daughter) will rebel against the father (or mother), the oppressed will rebel against oppressor. Fear, might, and intimidation will only work for so long and on so many. The disastrous war Asmodeus helped erase from the historical record proved that.
"No," Asmodeus said. "There will always be strong and intelligent humans who will fight back, who will resist, who will revolt. Free will is stronger in some than in others and, if these stronger ones are blessed with charisma, the others will follow them."
"So?" Lucifer would ask him, sarcasm and threat dripping from his tone. "What is your alternative suggestion?"
"Simple," Asmodeus would reply with that characteristic sickly smile for which he'd later become famous. "You give them someone else to fight."
His solution was actually so simple it was complex beyond all human imagination. Only a mind with as much time to think and experiment as he has could have conceived of it. Asmodeus has invented, taken advantage of, and continues to feed and maintain every conspiracy theory currently in existence. Every society changing rumour, every earth shattering revelation, every rebellious movement which populates the internet was his invention. Every single one. Think on that for just a moment. He helped ensure the internet was developed and its technology pushed forward just so his job would be easier.
He told it to Lucifer like this;
"you can try to murder and oppress Truth and not everyone will believe you but, go out of your way to throttle the Lie, bury it, deny it, even ghost a few of the humans that speak out about it and they will lap it up! Deny a lie hard enough and people will start to believe it as a matter of principle. Ask me why."
"Why?" was Lucifer's bored reply.
"Because," Asmodeus would run those too-long fingers together in nauseating glee. "They'd say 'well why go to all that effort to cover it up if it isn't true?'..."
Add to this that Lucifer has been occupying a long line of human bodies for centuries and we begin to get a degree more of depth into a character who is two-dimensional by definition. Once he starts to enjoy his game and take pleasure from it, he is no longer a cold force of evil, he is invested in its outcome. He has something to lose. Of course, there is much more to it than that but we're trying to avoid spoiling the eventual surprise of Lucifer's final and inevitable fall. Just as our own role as the hero or villain of our own story is shaped by the roles others play in it - and, more importantly, how we react to these - so too can the characters we invent evolve and be defined by other, seemingly less important characters. Then again, is there really such a thing as an unimportant character? You tell me if you believe that could ever be possible...
Asmodeus refused to remain in the background after all...