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The Romance of Heaven and Hell

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Come, sit down at feet, O' Best Beloved, and listen closely: for this is a tale from the War in Heaven and the Fall of the traitor angels.

But let us be clear Best Beloved, this not one of tales it is traditional to tell. This is not the bold tale of Micah's last stand against the hordes of Hell, nor the scary tale of Light Spinner's corruption and Fall and the people she dragged down with her. This is not the tale of Glimmer's search for justice and this is not the tale of Sea Hawk's search for glory.

It is closer, Best Beloved, to the sad tale of Scorpia: who the Creator placed in charge of the scorpions and spiders and other crawling creatures, but found that her duties made her hideous in eyes of her fellow angels; and how she searched and searched only to find that only the Lords and Ladies of Hell would welcome her into their family.

Do you still want to listen, Best Beloved?

Very well.

Let us begin.

Once upon a time before that terrible War, O' Best Beloved, lived two angels tasked by the Creator with helping the poor and the weak. The first, Adora, was a warrior-shepherdess who took the weak as her flock. Villages would call upon her to protect from the raids of the warlords and bandit kings; travellers would stop at her shrines seeking her blessing to ward away the dangers of the road; and mothers alone with their children in flimsy homes would pray to her to keep the winter cold at bay.

And Adora would heed their pleas.

The bandits would find their terror thwarted: their predatory deeds met with heroes carrying Adora's blessings rising to stop them. Travellers would find the roads clear and safe; and the mother's fire would crackle on through winter's curse.

And this was good Best Beloved.

The second angel, Catra, was quite different.

Where Adora was motherly, Catra was animalistic even before the Fall. Where Adora was said to have fought with a sword great and graceful, Catra used her cunning and her claws. Where Adora offered protection, Catra offered advancement. Where Adora offered stability, Catra offered change.

When she smirked, it is said that a bitter old patriarch died with a whimper- his position ready for those he had once abused to fight over.

When she whispered, it is said that the guards with orders to keep out the starving would turn their swords upon their masters.

When she laughed, it is said that a tyrant died at his supper- no one sure whether he died from poison or a knife between his ribs or just because he choked on a bone and no one felt inclined to save him.

And when she roared, it is said that empires across the world crumbled like sand and the very foundations of the earth quivered for fear that they'd be next.

And this to was good, O' Best Beloved.

Though their methods couldn't be more different, the two angels were united by their common goal. First they were allies in the Parliaments of Heaven against the more callous angels that saw those placed in the pair's care as rust on the gears of the Creator's machinery.

Over the centuries, they became friends: Adora's gentleness soothing Catra's fury and Catra's passion spurring Adora to action. Some say they became something more: speaking of tender nights spent bathing together in liquid moon light; of kisses burning like star fire down each other's spine and of sleeping together with the night's sky as their blanket.

But I am sorry to say Best Beloved, that what ever they had was not to last.

For as with many who would Fall, the nature of her duties had poisoned Catra's heart with resentment.

It is known, O' Best Beloved, that those who were called saints for feeding the poor were branded as trouble makers for asking why the poor were in need of bread; and that others who grant mild relief for the hungry will condemn the hungry seizing power for themselves. And so it was that many who sang the blessings of Adora hated and feared Catra: making her name into a curse long before she Fell.

Over the centuries her anger at this grew, yet Catra hid it from Adora, desperate not to lose her.

Until the War in Heaven.

As Adora, ever the loyalist, strode forth to fight at the Creator's side; Catra listened to the call of the traitor angels, and heard her anger given voice, saw a thousand other angels who had suffered the same injustices as she.

So when Adora called for Catra, she didn't move.

And when Adora called again, Catra whispered:

"No."

"What?" Adora asked, hoping, all but begging that she had misheard.

"I SAID NO!" Centuries of rage burst through. "Tell me Adora: why are you loved by the mortal world for keeping it in a cage while I'm hated for freeing them from it? Why are you so loved and I so hated when we are both doing what the Creator made us to do? No, I can't live in your shadow any longer. And if that means fighting against you, then so be it!"

Catra's claws extended, and Adora drew her sword... But there was no fighting. They could declare enemies all they wanted Best Beloved, but neither could bring themselves to strike the first blow.

And this carries on today O' Best Beloved.

Look to night skies! Look upon the stars! Adora's constellation, the Sheperdess, has her sword raised ready to strike. Catra's constellation, the Panther, is coiled up to pounce. Yet neither do so: ever have they circled each other, but never have they struck.

Do you see O' Best Beloved?

Oh, but there is far more to this story Best Beloved.

Look now, to the cities.

It is known, that wherever a cathedral to Adora stands it will have a shadow: a shady casino or thieves' den or a bar where the revolutionaries drown their rage in drink; where there will be a shrine and offering table devoted to Catra.

And it is known, that in the pirate ports and communes where Catra reigns, that there will always be a chapel or mission set up in Adora's name.

Do you see yet, O' Best Beloved?

No?

Well, there is more.

We all know that the matrons and abbots and abbesses of the angels and the cultists of traitor angels fall into deep meditations wherein their Heavenly or Hellish masters will use their hands to write instructions and messages for when they awake. It was quite long ago now, when an abbess of Adora woke to a sealed letter and a peculiar instruction: to take it to the shrine of Catra as an offering.

And a few days after the letter had been burnt with rest of the offerings, a cultist of Catra arrived at the abbess' church: himself carrying a sealed letter with instructions to give it as an offering to Adora.

These are still past from offering bowl to offering bowl to this day. What do these letters say you ask?

Who is to say, O' Best Beloved? These letters weren't written for the eyes of mortals like us.

Sometimes though, we mortals do get a hint. Every now and then, the meditating worshiper will wake to a musical composition as well as a letter- with instructions to play it during the offerings to their master's opposite.

If they tell you this, O' Best Beloved, follow them.

Follow them to the offering bowl.

And watch.

When the music plays something can be seen in the fires of the offerings: a figure, gracefully dancing half of a two person dance. Are they practicing for when their other half joins? Perhaps.

What I do know is this.

Almost every church has a prophesy or two, of how Glimmer will rout the armies of Hell or of how Shadow Weaver will seize the throne of the creator. And who am I to argue with them?

But if you talk to the clergy of Adora and Catra, really talk to them, you'll find that they have and share only one.

Ask them about it, and their features will soften. They'll speak of claws retracting and a sword going back into its sheath. They'll speak of tearful apologies and a long awaited embrace. They'll speak of fingers softly stroking through a mane whilst a tail coils oh so gently around a leg. And they'll speak of the nights spent together in liquid moonlight and the kisses that burn like the Sun returning.

Forever.