That’s Guild-a-Verse for the hyphenectly impaired – Where the otherworldly and mind warping universe of the Guild of Deacons is explained…somewhat and probably very badly.
The ‘Once over the World’ Summary
Rise of the Giants (RoTG) is the first book in the Guild of Deacons urban fantasy trilogy based on the concept that a society of forty-nine humans bestowed with the power of God’s wrath (aka Deacons) has existed in the backdrop of the world, as we know, it for millennia. The sole purpose of the Deacons is to combat the result of divine treachery that occurred at the very beginning of time when two hundred angels (the Watchers) illicitly defected to the Earth and procreated with human women creating a race of angelic/human half-breeds known in biblical lore as the nephilim. Based on the writings within the Book of Enoch, an apocryphal text authored by the prophet Enoch, the nephilim were a race of ancient giants that nearly devoured the mankind prompting God to send the great flood to start anew. The Deacons were charged with maintaining the ‘Balance’ upon the Earth – the delicate Balance between mankind and the collection of abhorred creatures (the nephilim) that attempt to lure them into the darkness the prevailed during the reign of the Watchers.
So, understanding that much – Let’s talk a little about the Fallen Watchers and the Nephilim (aka ‘the Nephers’)
The backstory of the Watchers and their leader, Azazel, provides important context within the story, so I’m going to explain it a bit. According to the Book of Enoch, Watchers were a class of angel charged with the observation of mankind during the early days of the Earth, nearly six millennia ago. Their purpose was to primarily safeguard man from premature exposure to the Forbidden Knowledge – or knowledge of Heaven. Things like technology, mathematics, science, metallurgy, making of weapons, etc. More arcane topics included astrology, enchantments, and even sorcery. At any rate, they were supposed to prevent man from learning of such things at all cost as mankind was intended to gradually discover such things over time and of their own volition.
- After honoring their responsibility for many centuries, a faction of two hundred Watchers became smitten with human women. In direct contradiction to the will of God, and under direction of Azazel, they illicitly defected to the Earth in the form of humans and took wives. Slaking their carnal desires with the daughters of the Earth, the Watchers spawn a race of cursed hybrid beings (the nephilim) that grew to the size of giants and devoured all the man had sowed, reaped, and nurtured until nothing remained. Then they turned their appetite on mankind itself. As the cannibalistic giants reeked havoc on the Earth, the fallen Watchers then began to spread all facets of the Forbidden Knowledge sending mankind into a down spiral of sin and depravity for centuries following. This, in essence, is what prompted God to send the great flood to cleanse the Earth and start over (according to the Book of Enoch).
- From this point, God dispatches the archangels to rid the Earth of the nephilim, imprison the fallen Watchers, and warn Noah of the impending flood and the rebirth of mankind by his seed.
- The archangel Gabriel was tasked with destruction of the nephilim, Michael was tasked with imprisonment of the fallen Watchers in the eternal prison of Tartarus, and Raphael was tasked with binding Azazel to the solitary prison of Dudael to suffer in darkness and isolation, estranged from his fallen brothers – for the sins of Azazel were of the greatest offense to God. Then God incurred his wrath upon the Earth and sent the flood with Noah and his three sons sparred to rebirth the race.
From this point, Rise of the Giants takes the story in a couple of new directions.
- Firstly, the breeding of angel and humans didn’t just create a race of cannibalistic giants – it also created an aberration in the human genome (the nephilim gene) that was carried onto the ark by Ham’s (second son of Noah) wife. So when the human race was repopulated, it also contained a crazy permutation of half-angel/half-human beings that possessed all manner of supernatural’ish characteristics that have mutated in varying fashion throughout history explaining all facets of exceptional people and or creatures of legend and lore.
- Secondly, at some point after the flood – Azazel was set free of his eternal bonds and has been roaming the Earth for millennia disguised as a human for the sole purpose of rebuilding the race of giants and plotting to liberate his fallen Watcher brothers from Tartarus. Throughout human history, he’s assumed countless human identities and instigated significant acts of war and bloodshed as he attempts to repopulate and deploy legions of the nephilim giants. This is the primary driver for the inception of the Deacons – to combat Azazel and his exploits.
- And since Azazel was imprisoned by an archangel, it is insinuated that only another angel possessed the ability to set him free. To what purpose is not clear however the concept of the ‘traitor in Heaven’ is propagated throughout Rise of the Giants and solidified at the end setting up Wrath of the Fallen (Book 2).
Are the Nephilim just giants?
Who the hell really knows – but, in the Guild’verse the answer is a resounding ‘Hells No.’ Here’s the dealio…
As somewhat explained above, in the universe of Rise of the Giants & The Guild of Deacons, the nephilim are not just giants. Dubbed ‘nephers,’ the nephilim consist of a mind blowing race of beings composed of twisted divine genetics tracing back to Noah’s son Ham and his nepher wife. The main delineation between the giant nephers and the ‘other’ nephers is that the giants can only result from direct angel and human breeding while the other nephers result from the generational passing on of the nephilim gene. This is all revealed midway through RoTG in a section I call “Meet the Nephers.” Here’s the cliff notes version:
- The Anakim: Are the nephilim giants of biblical lore that have been re-spawn through the ages in small numbers by Azazel and subsequently snuffed out by the Deacons in the ‘secret history’ of the world. The Anakim are ‘pure blood’ nephilim and can only be created through direct angel/human breeding. They are impervious to weapons of man and thirst for human flesh.
- Aside from the Anakim there are more than 563 species of ‘other’ nephers as classified by the Guild of Deacons. For the most part, nephers look and act perfectly human and in most cases don’t realize they’re not human.
- Generally speaking, they are referred to in broad terms as the Conscious and the Blind. The Conscious are those that understand they’re origin whilst the Blind as those that are ignorant of it. The concept of nephers living amongst humans explains the truly exceptional people throughout history as having some variation of the nepher gene, i.e. superior intellect, strength, ability to manipulate the elements, impossible good looks, etc.
- Another category of nephers is called the Gothen which are the animalistic creatures of legend and lore which essentially masquerade as human until they take form or ‘neph out’ in which case they morph into whatever supernatural beastie they truly are. A few of the notable types of gothen introduced in RoTG are draugrs (vampire like beings), lychaon (werewolf like beings), varangian (beserker like humanoid bears), korrigans (forest dwelling evil leprechaun people), barghests (creepy dogmen), and lidercs (titantic demon like, dino-bird things). There’s few others introduced in the book but that’s the gist.
At any rate, it’s important to note that not all nephers are indeed bad-guys or inherently evil. There are those that operate side by side with humans in everyday life. And others that serve the Deacons within the Guild. The bad-guy nephers serve Azazel in a global secret society of miscreants referred to as the Maradim who fight against the perceived tyranny of God and the liberation of the fallen Watchers.
So, Why did God create the Deacons????
Simply stated, God has long lost confidence in angels to do his bidding because of two primary reasons:
- The treachery of the fallen Watchers which resulted in the creation of the nephilim and the intentional spreading of the Forbidden Knowledge.
- The fact that the archangels blew it when they were supposed to destroy the nephilim prior to the flood and somehow allowed Azazel to escape and continue his exploits under a protective veil hiding him from the all seeing eyes of the Heavens.
And most importantly – After the issuance of the flood, God vowed never again to implore his wrath upon mankind. So, to combat the treachery of Azazel and the continued threat of the nephilim – God bestowed humans of the line of David with the power of his wrath to maintain the Balance upon the Earth. Humans were chosen over his divine sons to wield this immense power because they have free will and alone possess the strength to bridle the wrath and control it with reason and honor.
What’s the dealio with the Deacons anyway?
Awesome question. Here’s the answer…
The first Deacon, was in fact the first deacon of the early church – Stephen (yep…as in St Stephen). As described in RoTG, Stephen’s stoning at the hands of the Sanhedrin in 31 A.D. was instigated by Azazel himself masquerading as a high priest in Jerusalem. Upon his mortal death, Stephen passed into the Heavenly Realms and was sent back in the year 312 A.D. bestowed with the power of God’s wrath to face Azazel at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome where Azazel had assumed the identity of the Roman emperor Maxentious. Behind the walls of Rome, Azazel had secretly bred a formidable force of Anakim and was planning to wipe out Constantine and thwart the impending rise of Christianity. Stephen appears to Constantine before the battle and tells him that Maxentious is not a man but an angel and weapons of man cannot defeat him. He also explains that he was sent by God to restore the Balance aka destroy the nephilim so the battle will be fought on even terms amongst men. He also introduces Constantine to the Chi-Rho symbol which was painted on the armor of Constantine’s legions as they stormed the city (played off the actual history of the battle: ‘With this sign you shall conquer’). At any rate, Stephen destroys the giants at the battle with an epic show of hellfire and brimstone as Azazel flees and Constantine seizes the city and Christianity is off and running, etc.
Throughout the ensuing history of man, Deacons were created by God based on the need to maintain the Balance. God decreed that his wrath would be graced upon seven lines of seven (aka forty nine men). As Stephen was the first, we come to find throughout the story that Dean Robinson is the last. So, inherently when all forty-nine Deacons are in existence – the Balance is in the greatest of jeopardy.
Deaconly Powers & Abilities
You won’t find these Deacons patrolling the aisles at your friendly neighborhood church.
As alluded to earlier, Deacons are chosen by God himself and descendants of the line of David. A human becomes a Deacon upon his mortal death. He then crossed into the Realms of Heaven and accepts the mantle of God’s wrath. By definition, a Deacon is neither angel nor human – he is something else. Blessed and cursed with the power of God’d wrath he is conceived of the Earth but no longer a part of it. Impervious to weapons of man, he has but one purpose – to render judgment upon the bastard sons of Heaven (the nephilim) and those that foster their existence upon the Earth. They are a physical manifestation of the left hand of God walking amongst men.
- The source of their abilities is the Deacon’s Cloak that represents the physical embodiment of the wrath. Once willed into existence, the cloak provides the Deacon will both protection and an immeasurable source of power. They cloak has an otherworldly awareness and often described as having a mind of its own.
- Also at their command are ethereal gauntlets that form about their hands and forearms taking the form of barzel (the metal of Heaven), ashen hellstone (from the cliffs of Tartarus), and Gehenna fire from the unquenchable lake.
- Deacons have the ability to cast judgment fire upon their enemies and well versed in the use of swords. The whole sword thing is a running joke for Dean Robinson as he’s a modern day elite soldier type and would much prefer a large gun. Oddly enough, Rooster actually makes Dean a special shotgun that shoots judgment fire rounds because Dean is so incredibly bad with a sword.
Lastly, just as any other supernatural being – a Deacon can be ‘killed’ if their head is severed with a blade of barzel (which is the metal of Heaven).
What’s a Deacon without a Guild?
And of course…no self respecting biblical/urban fantasy story would be complete without a Guild of some sort or another.
The Guild of Deacons refers to the lines of Deacons and the global society of other folks (spanning all periods of history) that support the cause. Headquartered in various otherworldly outposts aligned with the seven earthly gates to Heaven, the Guild is made of up Deacons, Clerics, and Acolytes. Clerics are nephers (in varying forms and species) that have renounced the darkness and Acolytes are humans gifted with the Sight (like clairvoyants, seers, prophets, etc).
The primary outpost feature in Rise of the Giants is called the Quartermaster which is a bar/command center tethered to Boston’s Back Bay. And of course it’s tricked out with supernatural technology powered by an ophanim class angel super computer and other similar arcane pleasantries that’s cast in the setting of an irish pub meets a medieval castle powered by a Delorean with a flux capacitor. It’s pretty cool. I want to go there someday….
No semi-divine secret society can exist without it’s rival gang, right?
The Maradim is essentially an age-old secret army of nephers loyal to Azazel. Composed of varying types of nephers, they serve Azazel with complete loyalty and are well positioned within the human ranks and hidden in plain sight. It’s important to note that like Azazel – those that bear the mark of Maradim are veiled from the all seeing eyes of the Heavens.
So, that’s Guild 101. Nicely done. There is no test at the end. Although, you could always email Rooster and get a lengthy lecture on shadow realms or ask about that time he was tracking rogue gothen through medieval France. Seriously…send the crazy ginger an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I dare you.
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