In human mythology, worlds are lost (or won) through acts of cowardice and valor. And failures may be overcome through acts of atonement.
In the Neo’verse, there is one race whose actions led to the destruction of the ancient order. Those who remain now do eternal penance for their perceived malfeasance.
What follows is the lore of the Neo’verse.
The Celestial Concordance
The purpose of this book is to educate the populace as to our ancient history and to the need of those institutions created from the ashes of destruction. Pacifism does not prevent the defense of innocents; the pursuit of peace requires fighting to preserve it in the long-term.
[Signed] Augustine of Hippo, Doctor Universalis
Annaba, Algeria, Old Earth
The Celestial’s Oath:
“I acknowledge I owe my life’s chief occupation to the continuance of the Sidhe Empire, so that every word and every thought of mine may speak to prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude.”
A Brief History of the Final Destiny of the Gods
What was ‘Ragnarok’?
All school-children know when the gods (the Aesir) were destroyed, the bridges between universes collapsed and the cosmos was divided; we lost our access to the home-realms of the other races. Those who remained in Midgard (the realm of mankind) became immigrants and together, we created the Sidhe Empire. We call that dark time “Ragnarok”, or the destruction of the gods. What is less widely remembered is that Ragnarok was also a place. It was the home planet of the people we call the Celestials.
The Historical Record
Imagine a planet of majestic mountain ranges, shallow seas and alpine lakes. Now see its tall lithe inhabitants, speeding through the cloud-cover on elliptical wings, their song-speech echoing as they go. That is how the Aesir first described the world of Ragnarok when they began their exploration of the universe that was Midgard.
As was their custom on the discovery of a new world, one Aesir would remain with its people, to teach and share with them the wisdom of the gods. It was Mimir who came to Ragnarok and it was he who gave the people the name “Celestials”, both for their natural avian behavior and for their inventive questing minds.
The Latin Script
When Mimir revealed the runes, and rune-craft, to the Celestials he ignited in them a fierce desire to both understand and record the mysteries and histories of the nine realms. They would travel the bridges between the universes, recording all they found. Some worked for millennium in the service of local rulers, where they were greeted with enthusiasm, for they had an amazing skill with language, could learn new dialects swiftly and so were valued both as scribes and interpreters. To manage all this information, they created the Latin Script (or the 26 character alphabet still in use today) and developed robust, almost indestructible, forms of paper and vellum.
The Great Library
Young Celestials were expected to journey on these extended missions, to record their observations, and to send these back to Ragnarok in the form of bound manuscripts. These manuscripts were then indexed, replicated, and housed in the library city of Alexandria. A wonder of the ancient order, it was said all the wisdom of the nine realms might be found on its shelves.
Laufey & Fárbauti
Laufey was the daughter of the first Vicar of Alexandria. She was heralded for both her wisdom and beauty, having learned all the languages of beasts and men while still a girl. When she came of age, she desired to journey to a place the Celestials had not yet explored: Jotunheim, the land of ice giants. Being her father’s only child and so, heir to the Library, he forbade such a dangerous mission, for the dwelling-place of the giants was described as ceaselessly cold, its dark forests and mountain peaks never far from winter. And, its inhabitants had been rumored to be powerful anarchic devourers, agents of chaos who rejected civilization and the will of the gods.
But Laufey would not be dissuaded, eventually appealing directly to Mimir, who counseled her father that the first step of seeking wisdom was to realize we lacked it. Chided, the Vicar relented and Laufey led a small delegation of Celestials to the primeval realm of Jotunheim. They were amazed by what they discovered, how powerful the Jotuns were and how they reveled in their endless battles. Laufey’s company had many adventures, the tales of which they recorded and joyfully returned to the Library each year.
Their wandering led them to a great ice field where the Jotuns had gathered for a festival; they were vying against each other, both males and females, in contests of strength, magic and cunning. It was here Laufey first saw Fárbauti, the Cruel Striker. None could best him in weapons; he was too fast. None could catch him with spells; the runes would not hold him. None could trick him with tactics; he was too nimble. Laufey felt her heart turn toward this Jotun and she conspired to bring her company into his father’s house. And so their secret tryst began, to the ruin of us all.
Eventually, Laufey’s wings turned golden and her companions pleaded with her to return to Ragnarok, so she might marry the mate who had been arranged for her and take up her father’s duties as Vicar of the Library. But Laufey had grown to love the wild world of Jotunheim and would not be parted from Fárbauti. They fled his father’s house for the wilderness, where she conceived a son, whom they named Loki.
There have been volumes written on Loki, the trickster; how he came to sit with the gods in Asgard, how he both enthralled and enraged them, for he was playful, helpful, irreverent and nihilistic. At last, he took his tricks too far, betraying the god Baldur to his death. He was imprisoned in a deep cave on Ragnarok, bound by rune-locked chains crafted with the blood of his son, and guarded by a venomous serpent. There, it was hoped, the Celestials would keep him isolated and unable to do more harm. But he was clever, this bastard child; whispering promises of arcane knowledge and wisdom, he corrupted them.
These fallen Celestials then took their missions to places where Loki had allies; to Jotunheim, Nidavellir (land of the dwarves), Muspelheim (land of the fire spirits) and Niflheim (the land of the dead). They conspired to free Loki, sending his son Fenrir in the form of a dreadwolf. Legions traveled to Ragnarok, in preparation for the coming battle. And so, what had been prophesied came to pass, the gods died fighting their ancient enemies, and Ragnarok was completely destroyed.
Not all the Celestials were corrupted by Loki’s poison. These few began to send books and emissaries to the Tuatha Dé Danann, who sheltered them in secret. When war erupted, some 5,000 were able to escape the utter destruction of their home-world and make their way to Old Earth. At great risk, they recovered Nuada’s Sword and presented it to his daughter, Alexandria Victoria. In gratitude for the fae’s protection, they pledged themselves to the Sidhe cause. And, when the Sidhe took control of the African continent on Old Earth, they rebuilt the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, on the banks of the Nile River.
The Ministry of Immortui Dicione Populi is how we know them today. There are various orders with the Ministry, including the Order of Interficientis.
The Ophanim ~ White-Winged Warriors of the Empire
When a Celestial is born, it looks very like a human child, save for the tiny folded wings covered in pink down. These cherubs stay with their parents until their wings turn white and they are able to fly. Once they have reached the age of reason, they move into schools, where they live and learn with their peers. As they learn and grow, they are evaluated based on their interests and inclinations, moving through the different spheres of knowledge until, upon graduation, they are prepared to venture into the world and record what may be discovered.
All Ophanim learn the arts of war as part of their education. Most, when they move into the greater world do much as their ancestors did: they move through the Sidhe Empire, working as scribes and interpreters for the local gentry. They record what they experience and observe, sending the dispatches back to the Library in Alexandria.
However, some few show particular excellence in the more arcane arts; these are conscripted to the Order of Interficientis, where they specialize in creature remediation. They are the hunters of wolves, keeping the queen’s flocks safe from harm.
The Fylgjur ~ Golden-Winged Guardians of the Word
The Celestials are long-lived, almost as long-lived as the Sidhe. When they come to the latter part of their lives, their wings turn from white to gold. That is a signal they are able to conceive. The Celestials breed slowly; a female may bring three, perhaps four, children into the world.
When a Celestial’s wings turn gold, they withdraw from wandering and return home. They take a mate (most marriages are arranged when they are children) and settle into a domestic life. Both male and female now spent their time in the care of their young, the maintenance of the libraries and the politics of the home office.
As they reach the end of life, their wings turn from gold, to bronze and finally, to black. The only way to tell the relative age of an adult Celestial is by the color of their wings.
The Nephilim ~ Hybrids
On occasion, Celestials will breed outside their race. The product of these unions are called the Nephilim, the most famous being Loki, the trickster to the Aesir. A Nephilim may have attributes of both parents, though given the sad history of these unions; Celestial society will rarely embrace them. They are usually raised by their non-Celestial parent, or put into state-run homes, if that parent is unable to care for them.
So, in the Sidhe Empire we find three kinds of Celestials.
- The Ophanim (wandering warriors and scribes),
- The Fylgjur (parents and guardians),
- and the Nephilim (hybrids).
The children and young adult population of the Celestials.
- ~ May have great physical strength; extremely limber.
- ~ Pink or white wings. Can fly, once their wings turn white.
- ~ Extremely intelligent, with excellent memories and language abilities.
The breeding and geriatric population of the Celestials.
- ~ Counselors, parents, teachers and administrators.
- ~ Golden, bronze or black-winged; the darker the wing, the older the creature.
- ~ Their intelligence increases with age; some develop the gift of prophesy.
The product of a Celestials’ union with a member of another race.
- ~ May have enhanced strength and augmented senses.
- ~ May have the attributes of both parents.