A Rumor of Judgment

By Beth McCoy


Once, it is said, there was a reliever who came into being. (And none, not even the reliever, knew how, for relievers often appear simply when the essence and wonder of Heaven is made manifest somehow.) She chose to serve Judgment, and fledged into the most beautiful and gentle Seraph in the celestial realms. (Though not the most peaceful; that distinction belongs to one of Flowers.)

It is said that her devotion and dutifulness made Cherubim gaze after her in admiration. It is said that her sense of honor and justice made Malakim kneel as she passed. It is said that her balance and unswerving clear- headedness made Elohim smile, if only to themselves. It is even said that her pure and encompassing love for every being she met caused Mercurians to flutter their wings in awe and send her presents or invite her to social occasions.

But because of her unfailing loyalty to the Word of Judgment, she sent all the invitations and presents back (politely), and though she cared deeply for all beings, she did not let that sway her personal judgment. (For the Love of Heaven is not a compromising Love, and can be awesome and terrible as well as gentle and compassionate.) And she served well, and fearlessly, ever without guilt in her heart.

And it is said that she rose high in the Most Just's ranks, gaining all manner of atunements and Distinctions, and that she was the most trusted of all his Servitors. That sometimes, he would even take his cloak off entirely in her presence, that she might taste the Truth of something without its cloaking influence.

Then one day, the rumors tell, in their duties on Earth, she and her triad came face to face with the Lightbringer. And as is his way (for Temptation is a tool of evil), he offered the triad each a boon. Further, he wrapped each member of them in a silence so that they could not hear each other's answer. (For mistrust can be a tool of evil as well.)

But the Cherub turned his face away from the First Fallen and shook his head. And the Elohite lowered its head politely and murmured that though it was a generous offer, it could not accept. And the Seraph...

The Seraph spoke to the First Balseraph, her triad reported. Spoke with him, and frowned, and spoke again with impatience and emotion in her motions. And he replied. And she nodded. And he stepped forward and smiled, as she raised her face to him, and then he kissed her for a long moment.

After he had stepped away and vanished, the Seraph and her triad returned to Heaven, and she would not say what had passed between herself and the Lightbringer. Nor could the Truth in her refusals be sensed, nor her memories searched, for the First Liar had clouded the encounter totally.

And so, because she would not speak, she was placed on trial. For consorting with the Lightbringer. For obstructing Judgment. For betraying Heaven. And she was found guilty of the first two, by the testimony of her triad and her own silence, though when she pleaded not guilty to the third, she did indeed believe it firmly.

Yet she still would not speak. So the Most Just gave judgment, that she would be stripped of all Distinctions. That she would be stripped of all attunements save the one his Seraphim had for Truth (for Truth might yet save her soul). That she would be stripped of her vessel and her Corporeal Forces that she might never wander upon Earth again. That she would be confined to a room in the Celestial Tribunal, with a window to gaze upon Heaven's glory and as many books to read as she might wish -- but that she would never again speak to any but an Archangel, lest a hidden seed of taint spread to infect others in Heaven.

And though she had held herself straight, and met the eyes of the Most Just as the trial had proceeded and as he pronounced sentence, she closed all her own eyes and bowed her head and furled her wings about her body as she wept. And she whispered, "So, it was True. I had told him nay, when he said that you did not Truly trust anyone, not even me. But it is indeed True." And she turned her face away as she whispered, "I repent."

It is said that she lives yet, a Seraph of the Sword, who ever and always requests a Role that will let her watch and guard the Commander of the Host's churches: that of a nun with a vow of silence.


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