“Second Journey of the Magus” by Ian R MacLeod

This fantasy story from Subterranean Press Magazine shows Balthazar the Wise Man returning to Jerusalem thirty years after his first visit to the baby Jesus. In this alternate world Jesus jumped from the Temple as the Devil prompted him to do. The result? A strange and dark Kingdom indeed:

The story which he heard from all of them was essentially the same. Of how two figures had appeared atop the main tower of what had then been the largest temple in this city on the morning of the Sabbath four years earlier. Of how one of the figures had been dressed in glowing raiments, and the other in flames of dark. And how the glowing figure had cast himself as if to certain death before the gathering crowds, only for the sky to rent from horizon to horizon as many varieties of angels flew down to bear him up. Even the most conservative of the local priests could not deny the supernatural authority what they had witnessed. When the same figure had arrived the following day at the closed and guarded city on a white horse in blazing raiments and demanded entry, Pilate the Roman prefect, who was subsequently crucified for his treachery, ordered that the gates be flung open before they were broken down.

Everything had changed in the four years since. Jerusalem was now easily the most powerful city in the eastern Mediterranean, and Jesus the Christ or Christos was the most powerful man. If, that was, he could conceivably be regarded as a man at all.


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