The Council of the Sword

By Rolland Therrien


In Heaven live the Greatest Generals History has ever known... Or at least the ones who've accomplished their Destinies. One might assume that they spend their afterlives resting or otherwise move up Jacob's Ladder, but usually, after they learn of The War, well... once a soldier, always a soldier.

Usually, the Blessed Souls of those Generals flock to the word that best examplifies how they spent their lives. This is usually War, as expected, but not always. Leonidas, King of the Spartans, was more attracted by the philosophy of Stone, for exemple.

But a lot of things changed when Laurence became Commander of the Host. ...Or, to be specific, after Laurence recieved his first few defeats in the corporeal realm. Laurence realized that for all his hightened intelligence and divine inspiration, yes, he did lack some experience. But he wasn't going to pester advice from Michael or David on a continual basis... The other two Archangels had their own vital duties to perform, after all, and there had to be an other way... Someone else to turn to.

...Thank God (or Yves) for coincidences, as Laurence was just pondering this situation as he was visiting the Groves, when he came upon a Blessed Soul who asked him what was wrong. At the moment, Laurence was considering ordering a group of angels to attack a fortified Tether of Infernal Fire, and had been criticized by Janus for his hesitation to attack quickly. Laurence, sensing this soul was that of an honorable general in life, simply shrugged and told him the matter. The Soul considered the problem, then said "What the Archangel Janus sees as Hesitation, Honored One, I see as careful planning. It is in the planning stages that a battle can be won or lost long before it is ever fought. Only when one has predicted victory by properly analysing the factors of a given battle should a leader send his troops out to fight. Otherwise, he is gambling with their lives.."

Laurence listened to the soul, and nodded slowly, his lips curling into a smile. He had considered listening to Janus and ordering his troops out to destroy the Tether as soon as possible, but this soul was right: He would be gambling with the lives of his Angels and Soldiers, and that was unacceptable. He thanked the soul for his advice, and asked for his name. "I am honored that I could help, Honored One. In life, I was called Sun Tzu, general to King He Lu of the Kingdom of Wu."

Laurence blinked once... Realizing he'd just gotten advice from one of Humanity's wisest and most skilled generals, a man whose life's work included unifying much of China under one military rule, had given him advice. Laurence had to ask... "Have you been giving Michael this kind of advice, Blessed One?"

Sun Tzu shook his head. "The Archangel of War keeps his own counsel on his strategies. And he does not need my guidance, as the Art of War comes naturally to him. I mostly teach strategic and tactical planning to the Servitors of War, as per my instructions."

Laurence shook his head. While he could understand that Michael seldom needed advice on tactics, he felt that Sun Tzu's talents were underutilised. And so he made his decision... "From now on, Blessed One, you shall be called upon by The Sword for another task... I shall come to you next time I seek advice in my pursuit of The War. Until then, I bid you a good day." And with a bow, he left the blessed soul to his tasks.

As he returned to his cathedral, Laurence gave praise to God for his meeting with Sun Tzu and the advice the soul had given him; another reminder of the importance of mankind in this eternal conflict. It was then that he realized that Sun Tzu was far from being the only soul in heaven who had been a leader of soldiers in life. What if others had valuable military advice as well? Surely, Heaven's War Efforts, and thus all of Humanity, would benefit if they participated in an advisery capacity...

At this point, Laurence had decided that he would organise these souls into a war council, and called upon Yves for a list of the blessed souls who would be fit to sit upon such an advisory council... When first organized, not even a dozen such souls stood in Laurence's war room: Sun Tzu, King Leonidas, Julius Caesar, Vercingetorix the Gaul, Hannibal of Carthage, and William the Conqueror. Most others had moved up the ladder already, had met their fates, or had simply yet failed to achieve their destinies. Nevertheless, Laurence would not let his new council go to waste, and began to present them with the military status of Heaven, the current goals of Heaven's armed forces, and then asked them, "What would you do, in my place?"

Needless to say, the first war council was hardly a calm, simple affair. Everyone had a different Idea on how to wage war: Caesar and Sun tzu wanted to organise Heaven's forces into Legions, while Vercingetorix and William preferred a looser, feudal model. And they never agreed on how to attack or defend Tethers... And yet, through all this chaos, Laurence sat back and listened, and gathered his own ideas... He gained a useful insight from Caesar, a different one from Leonidas, and yet another one from Hannibal.

When he finally dismissed the council, he thanked the souls for their advice, and that they had helped him gain the insight to properly manage Heaven War's efforts for another year. The souls thanked him in return for the chance to "get back in the game", as it were, and wondered when next they would be called. As it turned out, they would be called again the next year, and the next... and the next, until today.

By now, Laurence's "War Council of Souls" has grown to about two dozen Souls, and includes such illustrious commanders as Generals Wellington, Lafayette, Bradley and Patton, along with some other figures, such as William Wallace and Cardinal Richelieu. They are now all familiar with modern warfare tactics, from the use of modern weapons to special operation tactics. Nevertheless, they all have varied opinions on how to wage Heaven's war on Hell, and every Council Reunion becomes the sight of one or more arguments on the proper deployment of Soldiers, the use of Relics or the organisation of Servitors.

And throughout every council session, Laurence smiles as he watches the gathered souls argue on how to fight... While their advice is still useful, the council's true purpose goes much further: They show Laurence a veritable microcosm of Heaven's politics, reflected upon a sample of Humanity's History throughout the ages. Through this council, he understands Humanity a little better, and how Heaven's efforts affects it.

Although he now has a near millenium of experience under his belt, Laurence would never disband the War Council. Not just for the above reason: their advise still comes in handy, and besides, it gives those souls something they like to do for their afterlives. Laurence just loves hearing Julius Caesar lecture Patton on how he would've used tank battalions to take Berlin...


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