Chapter 2 -- A Triple Ko Fight with the Demon King

Lucinda Cheng

In the afternoon, the guests left and the house returned to serenity. Marlow's alarm rang. He set the alarm according to Saturn and Pluto’s positions in the sky.

He went down the spiral stair and disappeared into the basement. Marlow closed the stone gate from inside. He put on a robe, lit a candle, and summoned the demon king Paimon to play Go, the board game where black and white stones encircle and smother each other to gain territories.

A flicker suspends over the white candle. He is dressed in a white robe with a red dragon embroidered on the front. The candlelight illuminates his protruding forehead and sunken eyes, and a skull from North Africa under his right hand, like the La Tour’s painting.

This is the ritual room that is privately kept for himself.

Techno synthesizers like cockpit control panels lined up against the walls. Their colorful signal lights twinkle like the bird-view of Los Angeles from an airplane window.

Buchla Skylab, Moog, Eurorack, the deep electric sound waves and continuous pulses they emit can directly put people into a trance state. Marlow is a master of this kind of consciousness alteration art, and Techno is his Cappella.

He snatched a piece of chalk, went around the desk, and drew a new circle on the ground. He stepped into the circle and chanted. The sound of brass trumpets and cymbals came near, followed by a gust of wind swinging the candlelight -- almost blew it out.

Then there seemed to be a crack in the ground, with no visible burning lava, but the room temperature spiked suddenly. The panels of Buchla, Moog, and Eurorack flashed like they short-circuited, and the synthesizers made a deep bellowing sound from the universe.

Marlow knew that Paimon had come on a dromedary, and he can sense his fury today. Paimon had a feminine feline face.

He worn a gem-stud crown, a long lion tail drops from his slender figure, sitting high on the camel, elegant and majestic. In silence, he possessed an air of the elven princess in the Lord of the Rings, icy cold, when he calculates, he was like Vivian Lee coming to life with Cleopatra’s Crown of Hathor, in the Bernard Shaw’s play, cunning, psychotic and fragile.

He howled loudly as soon as he came, "Ah—! The Inferno is a zoo right now. You should be busy doubling down on arms supply to the Falkland Islands. The broken ass riots there are hunting the riches down. If you don’t bomb them now, they will build a Republic before you knew it.

Marlow: “Yes, my intel on the ground has told me about Falkland.”

Paimon: “Two of the bankers showed up at the Inferno registrar yesterday. I just implanted them in Falkland two weeks ago!”

Marlow paused, and couldn’t hold back from pointing out the irony: “The guerrilla is beating the military at their own game? Have I heard it right? How long since this Keith knew how to move an army? The Department of Offense (a joke) threw 500 million dollars into this region, and gone with the money we made from dropping cocaine from all those chopper flights.”

Paimon: ”Who gave you that permit to handle the route? And didn’t you make loads of money out of it? I will tell you this: if we lose Carlos’s government to the mobs, I’d have to build another Deigo or Jose from scratch all over again. If you stand by and watch, I wouldn’t give you the Mexico - Keywest crack route the next time. Hell, I will take it back from you right now!”

Marlow: “Calm down. To double down on the arm supply, we need a pipe twice as wide to move the dollars out, don’t we? I might have a better vehicle to get the money out through some Panamanian companies. Maybe you could help with fundraising for Twin-F. Ask Jesuits or CIA?”

Paimon: “We could talk about that. The time has changed. Have you not studied your Aegyptiaca (Pharaonic Calendar)? ” he sighs, “I feel feeble lately. My power doesn’t match my ambition. The once formidable fortress is now eroded with ant holes.”

Paimon’s mind goes towards the earth’s trajectory in time, spinning from the dawn of human consciousness, traversing 40,000 years.

Manetho, the last High Priest of Ancient Egypt left one line in his ten thousand-year chronicle, Aegyptiaca:

“Each Great Year has 25,860 to 25,920 years and 12 arcs or constellations. Each passage through a constellation takes 2,155 - 2,160 years. These are the ‘Great Months’. The current cycle or year began around the year 10,858 B.C.”

Around 1700s, the world leaves the “month” of Pisces and enters Aquarius. Revolutions and War of Independence lit the torches around globe in that era.

320 years later, in year 2020 A.C., or 38,786 Pharaonic Calendar, the delayed shadow of the world now enters the “month” of Aquarius, the revolutionary chamber of the cosmos pantheon.

Paimon thought: I knew the Armageddon was coming 320 years ago. I prepared for it for three centuries. The curtain has lifted, and by 2070, the middle point of this Cycle, the curtain would drop. Within the 50 years, between the ethnic-nationalist churls and us from the Inferno, only one stand here to see the next two thousand years. I’m going to put on a hell of a show.

Paimon says slowly, “2070. That is the year referred by Newton as the end of the current world. Don’t you want to see me as the king of the next aeon?”

Marlow sensed the sentimentality, understanding it was one of those Paimon’s melancholy episodes. He comforted Paimon: “You shouldn’t believe in what Newton wrote. Hey, you are talking to a quantum physicist. We are way past that. Yes, you are ancient, but don’t be a relic.”

Paimon woke up joyfully, whipped his tail and said: “Right, quantum physics! Have you found that boy Shakuhachi? At least, on the Day of Judgement, we can use this pair of killer bombs. Although it’s not the time yet, but I showed you the ‘Dream Ninja’. It’s been two years.”

He is talking about a device that shows the observer visuals of the subject’s dream. The subject is a boy called No. 8. The target they are chasing, is Shakuhachi, who lives the day life as No. 8 dreams it in the night.

Dream Ninja” has a sister device called “Counter-flow”. It is said that Counter-flow could listen remotely the white noises in a target space, and wind the space and time back, to listen to the sound in that location over the span of the past 200 thousand years.

Paimon gave Dream Ninja to Marlow, and Counter-flow to CIA. Both parties want the other device from each other.

Marlow: "No.8 is currently in an unstable state. He is always stuck in the merging medium of the dream and astral planes. There was fish flying over the desert and his “father” who he has never met. If I enter now, wouldn’t I miss the step and fall into the abyss, becoming Azathoth’s sacrifice?”

Paimon: "Well, can you at least keep the Pyramid steady? Hold the fucking line please?! Falkland, South American, the BACKYARD! Losing at the home field. Grassroot forums in the whole world is like watching France losing the World Cup. Backwoodmen and backwoodwomen of all colours are laughing at us with all languages! Those ethnic-nationalist country bumpkins are almost succeeding in building their own state, a Republic!”

His shouts comes to a crescendo: ”I haven’t being so insulted since the kingdom of Italy beat the Papal City into a bulb and shrunk it into Vatican!"

Marlow nodded. When Paimon lashes out on him frantically, Marlow usually zip his mouth and retreat to silent obedience. Just like when his wife Claire shouted him down during a dinner with friends at presence, spewing heated words on him and his mistress Courtney.

After Paimon released all his frustration. Marlow asked: "Shall we play Go?"

Paimon: "Same rules?"

Marlow: "If I win, I want a seat in the Board of the White-light Elderlies."

Paimon was shocked by this offense and couldn’t speak. In mid of all the fuck-ups, he asks for a seat?

But immediately, he remembered the contract and laughed inside. He found Marlow’s confidence amusing.

It’s been 20 years. He hasn't remembered that we made the contract. It seems he will never remember. Memory Compartmentalization is such an endearing weapon to the mind.

At that moment, Marlow was eyeing the chess board and visualizing his seat in the most powerful cabal ruling over the earth. Like a gambler and drug addict, he saw only the chips and the drug, and not the large failing rate permeating the peripheral vision.

When the magician draws a circle on the ground and uses it to confine the demon; the demon also uses desire to put an invisible lasso around the magician's neck. Demons do not obey easily, especially for a demon king.

When called into the circular confinement for silly reasons, the evil spirit was usually enraged. He has destroyed many who wave the magician wands, turning them into Schizophrenics.

Marlow, the high black magician, over the course of his 23-year practices has been engaging in an arm race with the demons to get an upper hand. But like every human being, he at times forgot about this one internal factor -- his desires and thoughts, do not just come from himself.

Paimon only encouraged him: "Don't fritter away your luck."

Marlow sat down, rubbed his palms, stretched out his hand to catch a black stone, and spoke to the northwest side of the room, "It's not because I am humble. I am the paramount of the sunny upside of the world, which makes me the Yin, so I should hold the black stone; you are the paramount of the shadowy underworld. That makes you Yang -- you hold the white stone."

The Demon King responded by moving Marlow’s pen on the Enochian board with letters, "Of course, I always want you to make the first move. Remember what I gave you as a gift, and I will ask for your returns in the future. Maybe from your daughter."

The white stone fell after the black stone and dotted a pair of Yin-Yang eyes on the board.

The devil took no time to calculate, and moved like electricity. Marlow switched back and forth between intuition and calculations. His thoughts were like clouds and mists, or like an octopus sprawling out all tentacles to test the water. The many paths merged into one stream, and he dropped the stone, like a monk knocking on a wooden fish late into the night -- one drop for a long time.

Endowed by the creator, Jinns have bodies made out of fire and electricity. They can travel thousands of miles in seconds. But in this miraculous creation, there is one flaw: they can only think linearly and thus only exist in the mechanistic reality. In terms of intelligence, the most evolved Jinns hit a glass ceiling, below which, they are the king; beyond which, they are half-tier lower than the most evolved human. But luckily for them, and they know, that glass ceiling called “the quantum state of the mind” is veiled from most humans. It is like a potent laser cutter, squandered and dusted in everyone’s garage, occasionally shoots out an unintended beam and missed the target due to the foggy lenses.

Endowed by the creator, humans have bodies that are made out of the soil, ensouled with a spirit of fire and electricity. Without refinement through special training, it will be difficult to crack the clay shell and break the linear logic in the material world and merge into the light.

But Paimon is the king of demons, only bowing down to one spirit in the Inferno; neither is Marlow an average Joe. He took the path of magician 23 years ago and has been thinning the clay shell.

When these two extraordinary lives were wrestling against each other, one can’t tell who the winner is by comparing the two species. It is quite hard to predict an outcome.

Not for long, the territory was clouded by the black dragon and the white dragon, intertwining and smothering each other. Both have abandoned their tails.

The demon king moved like thunder. Although with his fiery electric body, Paimon couldn’t dab in the micro quantum state to explore all paths, in the material world, he killed it with an agility that no one can compare.

In the standoff, the magician hold the circle that confined the demon king and smote him with the wand -- purple electric shock coming down from the sky and hit Paimon. The sphere that is locking him in shines brightly and lit up the basement.

The demon king tightened his lasso on the humans neck and roared to tear his mind. He waged a flaring sword and pierced into Marlow’s heart -- blazing flame firing Marlow up from within, scorching and vaporizing the still water of his cool emotion which is demanded from a magician.

On the board, entrenched in the center, the White encircled the Black to smother the “breathing air” of the stones. For several times it could end the game; the Black dragon resisted ferociously, lifted up its head and inserted its fangs into the White’s neck.

Seat at the White-light Elderlies....

Arm Supplies.....

In the end, a rare situation of a triple Ko appeared.

Marlow has calculated that this infinite Triple Ko Fight will come up. He glanced up towards the northwest, to sense if Paimon has also seen it. The Demon King held his breath, without releasing any traces of unstable electromagnetic waves. He wanted to laugh but held back the heat flow in his body, and only made the thought tremble slightly.

Fool, he can’t tell that I knew, and he thinks he was taking the initiative, that he still had his freedom.

Marlow took a black stone and responded to the Ko threat instead of ending it. The devil chuckled in the dark,

He thinks that he is a magician, but he is just a fool at best. God said that he gave you all the possibilities, but you chose to fall into my trap. How can a person made out of soil level with my body and spirit of fire?

When he laughed, the current of electrons hit the candle, and the candlelight was blown to the other side. Black smoke rose. Marlow is not someone who would concede.

Stern faced, he chose to play another Ko threat. The Black and White are looping in a Triple Ko fight.

This ominous position on the board corresponds to the Honno-ji Incident in 1582.

Marlow remembered that day: after a Triple Ko Fight occurred on the board, the Japanese hero Oda Nobunaga was assassinated by his general Akechi Mitsuhide in a coup.

His other general Hideyoshi Hashiba also marched with his army to the temple too soon as if he knew.

Marlow suddenly thought of the Jesuit, Luis Frois. Frois reported that he had seen wounded Nobunaga retreated into his room to suicide. But Nobunaga’s body has not been found. The temple is burnt down and only a black warrior escaped without any trace.

Of course, that is Archer Norton, Marlow’s fellow magician, traversing to Medieval Japan with his magical weapon Tinker. People call him Ash, or the black gunpowder. Wherever he goes, there will be a whirlwind of chaos.

Now trapped in this eternal triple ko, Marlow fell into contemplation and didn’t look at Paimon.

How would they allow the son of a villager who grew up wearing straw sandals to become the king?Is this a warning?

Paimon is grinning at him in the dark.

Marlow remained silent without a sound of the breath. Half of his linage are peasants and the other half are aristocrats. Omen or warning, he is tightening all his muscles to hold the horse of this rushing manifestation.