There was a general hush as the Archangel of the Heavens took the podium. Although Leilani speaking before the Council was nothing out of the ordinary, the angels flanking her bore the sigils of Fire, Revelations and the Sword, indicating that she had something of extraordinary importance to say. Even the normally disruptive Ofanim stilled themselves.
"I have come before the Seraphim Council this day, by leave of my Lord of the Sword and the Archangels of Fire and Revelations, to speak of a matter which has, to date, concerned only angels of the Heavens. This is the matter of Gendu, my most bitter rival, whose minions scatter among the stars as weeds among the grass. I wish to set the truth of the matter before this Council." Leilani spoke in dulcet, measured tones, struggling to speak a complex Truth plainly.
"It is generally known that one night close to two millennia ago, a child was born in Bethlehem, who would grow to become the Christ. The Archangel of Fire, divinely inspired, led a chorus of his angels in glorious song over Bethlehem; this produced a Tether, one which has since been lost to time and memory. The "Bethlehem Quest" to recover this Tether is quite popular among Servitors of Fire and the Sword, and I understand that even a few angels of War have attempted it.
"But what is not generally known is that a second Tether was formed that night. A star, blazing in the night sky, led a party of travelers to the child. They paid homage, leaving gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their faith was strong and their intentions pure, and for that the star itself became a Tether to Fire."
A few of the angels present took advantage of Leilani's pause to glance at Soldekai, sitting quietly in his mistress's seat. His face was impassive, his gaze fixed on the Archangel of the Heavens.
"Gabriel appeared at the Tether and stabilized it," Leilani continued, "and returned to Heaven, leaving behind a Cherub named Gendu who had distinguished himself in his master's service. There are angels of Fire who still remember this Cherub, and testify that he was one of our greatest warriors." A general murmur of agreement broke out among the Servitors of Fire present. Soldekai remained silent.
"Alas, the Archangel of Fire never returned, and the matter of the Cherub's binding was never brought before this Council." Leilani glanced briefly at Dominic, unreadable in the folds of his dark cloak. "I dare say that it was the immediate summons of Gabriel to this Council that prevented him from returning to the star. What follows is speculation, I must tell you, for no one knows the truth of this but Gendu himself.
"I believe that Gendu Fell at some point, unable to punish cruelty among the stars as his master had bade him do, and that he eventually found his way back to Earth. Even celestial forms do not travel the void of space instantaneously, and the journey drove him mad. The Prince of the Stars is a formidable opponent, I dare say, but he is also quite insane. The object of his existence to this point has merely been to find that one star, for even he does not know which star it is among the untold billions in the cosmos.
"I have spoken to Gabriel of this matter, and she has been most forthright about it. We do not know which star it is. For that matter we turned to the Archangel of Revelations, who has set a team of his ablest Servitors to assist us in finding that one star." She nodded to Litheroy, who beamed at her from his seat on the Council.
"You will ask why it is essential for us to find this star. Two factors are most important to take note of at this point: first, we do not know why this one star blazed so brightly that night over Bethlehem. I have spoken with the Archangel of Destiny about this, and he assures me that the rediscovery of the star is an essential component in the collective destiny of mankind. I have my own speculations as to why the star is so important.
"Second, and this is of greater gravity, my rival is close to discovering the star. We have intercepted communications that indicate this, and consultation with several of my fellow Archangels has led me to believe that the information is valid. Gendu may, in one stroke, damn humanity to the pit. I confess that I do not know what his plans are, but one thing is clear: we must reach that star before he does. Or humanity shall fall, and all of Heaven with it."
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