Celestial Compact

(Unfinished)

Innumerable tomes fill the libraries across creation highlighting the terrible deeds of Fiends. From the lowest larvae, to the greatest Demon Prince, mortals have a fascination with the forces of the Depths Below that some would say borders on obsession. Countless bestiaries, especially those penned by the mad Milton Faust, expound upon the various spirits that personify Evil throughout the Cosmos. Whether it is the craftiness of the devil, the lies of the daemon, or the destructive impulses of the demon, mortals are enamored by Evil, seemingly venerating the very same thing they claim to despise and fear. This interest, this outrageous obsession, has caused many to forget that in the Cosmos, there is an answer to virtually everything, a mirror-image that reflects just as intensely. Many forget about the forces of ultimate righteousness and light that have stood against the tide of darkness that has constantly threatened Creation. Mortals have forgotten the Bastions of Righteousness.

In most cases, when priests refer to those that stand opposed to the devils and demons that infest the Depths Below, they refer to their own gods. What many of these clerics forget is that there are gods of evil and vice almost as wicked as the Arch-Fiends themselves. The likes of Nerull, and Takhisis, and Cyric are every much as sinister as Anthraxus, Asmodeus, and Demogorgon. So, it stands to reason that the gods of goodness also have cosmic entity allies, beings that personify goodness to a degree so total that even the greatest powers of goodness are mere shadows. From the lowest lantern malak to the greatest of the Bastions of Righteousness, celestials surreptitiously aid and support all sentience – indeed, all of Creation – that stands for goodness and holiness. And, although not as well known as the various Arch-Fiends, the Arch-Celestials, known as the Sarim, are every bit as powerful, and in some cases more so, than the forces of Evil against whom they stand opposed.

So, why is it that so very little is heard about these beings? Why is it that Good seems so lacking in its involvement with mortals and with the Prime worlds that are plagued by vice and decrepitude? Simply put, the Sarim themselves are responsible. This will shock most readers, but such is the very truth. Before delving into an explanation as to why the Sarim are in this situation, let’s discuss what precisely angels are.

All priests and most servants of righteousness are familiar with the various celestials known collectively as aasimon, or more mundanely, angels. This collective name is used as a catch-all term for the Celestial Hosts, or Celestial Choirs. Sometimes, the term is extended to other celestial creatures not technically a part of the Choirs, such as guardinals; however, in its most correct form, angels are those celestials which were either created during the Unity of Light, or else are ascended from petitioner stock. As a whole, celestials stand as the righteous answer to the various fiends. The majority of celestials are angels who, unlike the fiends (who are divided into three distinct camps, or four if one includes the gehreleth offshoots), are generally either considered as one unified group of spiritual entities, or as several groups of closely related spiritual entities. The differing groups of angels have a common background (although the ophanim dispute this, and perhaps for good reason), and several major, common causes. For certain, there are angels dedicated to the liberty of Chaos (largely found in the ophanim choir), others subject to the rule of Law (from among the hashmallim choir), and many answerable to unfettered goodness (known as the tarshishim), but these distinctions are not perfectly reflected in the choir system, which allows for chaotic good tarshishim and similar anomalies. Moreover, these alignment differences are most noticeable in only three of the seven Celestial Choirs. Thus, while most hashmallim (sometimes referred to as archons) are Lawful angels, many Lawful angels are not hashmallim. The situation is no different with Chaotic or Neutral angels. As a whole, the angels recognize each other as part of a group, bound together by love and goodness; however each choir holds differing attitudes and beliefs as to what constitutes true goodness. These differences are discussed and debated vigorously and powerfully across the choirs, and the politics of the Upper Realms have led to particular alignments holding more sway in terms of the unified approach of good in the cosmos at various times throughout celestial history. However, such differences never lead to blows between choirs or individuals (cases involving the fallen being the exception to this), despite the fact that the political and philosophical maneuverings of the various angels have sometimes been referred to as the War in Heaven.

The very core of the unity of the Bastions of Righteousness is found in the Celestial Compact. Indeed, the very concept was determined by The Sarim immediately prior to the Unity of Light, meaning that no aasimon has ever been unfamiliar with the Compact, just as none were created or born outside of its influence. Some scholars of the Upper Realms suggest that this move was a reaction by The Sarim to the fall of one of their own – Netzach, Defender of Victory. Others call attention to the Dawn of the Gods and the Birth of Mortals, both of which seem to have occurred contemporaneously with the framing of the Compact. There is additional evidence, found in musty, apocryphal texts long ignored, that some foresight of Uriel compelled such action from The Sarim collectively. Whatever the reason might be, the Compact was contrived early in the Age of Mortals, and the angels followed swiftly thereafter. And whether the reason for it was originally bound up in mortal affairs, it is undeniable that the Compact quickly became almost entirely mortal-focused.

Despite its name, the Celestial Compact is not some hallowed, written contract, sitting under heavy guard and glowing with immense power in some hidden heaven. Notwithstanding the attempts of both the Virtues and the hashmallim to put in place conditions and rules that applied in a binding fashion universally, the Compact at its most constricting has still fallen far short of such a mark. Rather, it is a concept that guides the actions of the Choirs in interacting with Gods and mortals. Indeed, in many cases, it is the only method by which the choirs can regularly gain access to mortals in any fashion.

This is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than on the world of Midlorr, where the Aldra, the governing deities of that world, set in place a Pact of Dominance. By means of this pact, access to Midlorr is heavily restricted, denying the entry of all otherplanar beings, particularly interloper deities and cosmic entities. When faced with this closed world, impervious to their influence, The Sarim had only two real choices for access: brute force, or negotiation. Finding brute force to be distasteful and inappropriate, the angelic princes determined to negotiate, and the genius of the Compact was that they did so on a united front. With a united agenda and approach for Midlorr – such as the offer of powerful servants in the newly formed solars – The Sarim were able to sway enough support from among the Aldra to allow some minor, conditional access to the world in question. While this access did not extend to more powerful aasimon (let alone the Sarim themselves), except in the case of personal servants of the Aldra, it allowed for minor angels to visit Midlorr on occasion, as well as for the influence of the Upper Realms through dreams and prophetic visions.

Ultimately, the agreements made with the Aldra were too restrictive for ophanim and Defenders’ liking, and not restrictive enough for hashmallim and Virtues’ liking, and over time the specifics of access to Midlorr for the choirs has changed, seesawing between overwhelming support from not just good, but also either lawful or chaotic Aldra, and almost absolute exile for the aasimon from one or more of the Continent-Realms in Midlorr-space. Eventually, the Sarim know that the Compact will be set aside, and those deities which attempt to prevent the Apocalypse that follows will be caught up as chaff in the whirlwind, before being flung aside in the Wrath of the Heavens.

At times and places the Compact has been a victory for the hashmallim, at others, its restrictions have been virtually nonexistent, demonstrating the strength of Chaotic Good in the politics of the Upper Realms. Despite its nature differing in specific terms from world to world, and even in determining the interaction of the Choirs with particular congregations, three momentous events have swayed the overall thrust of the Compact:

  1. The Unity of Light. This was the beginning of the compact, and the Compact had no particular chaotic or lawful overtones. It was a tool that was used by all three alignments of Good, and much good came of it.
  2. The Voyeur Crisis. With the casting out of the Voyeurs, the hashmallim became politically ascendant in the Upper Realms, as aasimon reeled over the actions of so many angels connected with service within Mortal Spheres. Good deities across myriads of worlds became fearful of such events happening again, and called for greater restrictions on access to mortals. Overtones of Law swept swiftly into the nature of the Compact.
  3. The Great Fall. Perhaps due to holding more power for so very long, a great many hashmallim and their supporters made up the bulk of those aasimon to fall through pride during this stain on Heaven’s memory. Realizing what had occurred through allowing more power to the Lawful factions of the Upper Realms, deities reacted by loosening collective restrictions on access to mortal realms, instead dealing on a more individual basis with angels seeking to serve on the Prime. This led in turn to the ophanim becoming politically ascendant, and tingeing the Compact with Chaos. In the modern era, this had led to a situation in which the Compact is virtually dissolved in some cases, and the level of freedom under which the ophanim operate is a cause for concern in many quarters.

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