Chapter 0

There was once a Rite whose very words echoed the Banishment from Heaven.

The Banishment eluded all human language in its fury, in the cold that suddenly enveloped the universe, in the shadows that whipped through the newly created Light. For there had been but Seven Days in the reckoning of Man, perhaps centuries in Man’s imagination, perhaps some other measurement of time for which no word had yet been uttered – Seven Days, the Good Book would later say; for on the seventh, the Creator rested.

Why would a Creator of Infinite Time need to rest? Why would a Maker of Infinite Energy need to sleep?

Or had the Day of Rest been a respite from Centuries of Battle? God looked upon creation, saw that it was good – and saw the evil that attempted to destroy it.

Where in that space of Seven Days was the battle that turned an angel into a serpent?

That same angel had once illuminated the newborn sky. High ranked and most handsome was he among the heavenly hosts, and his armor shone through the universes and time, like a star that would never die.

But die that star did, on one morning, in the dawn of creation – some time within those Seven Days – when the celestial soldier found that his power held no sway in the decisions of his General.

And so he was sent, or so he fell, as prize to his pride. Nevermore would he sing praises, or lead armies, or hold swords of fire, or wield powers, or guard the souls that his General – his Creator – set forth in the worlds that He had shaped.

Nevermore would he guard souls.

Oh how he hated those souls, those bodies of Men fashioned in the image and likeness of his maker.

How he hated the light. The firmament and the waters. The lands and the seas. The heavens and the seasons. The beasts of earth and beasts of air.

Creation was a matter of division, of drawing boundaries. Man from beast. Season from season. Water from earth. Sky from ocean.

Darkness from light.

The Creator saw the boundaries as guidance. The Banished saw the boundaries as rules unduly placed, unjustly drawn, oppressively made. They would forever hate creation, seek its destruction.

For evil truly cannot make; it can only ape, imitate, destroy.

The Morningstar crept into his hole, somewhere in the darknesses of time, with his loyal horde of Banished creatures. They hatched their plans, cackled with glee, sneered at the universe as it grew and rose and fell and expanded, growled as humanity lived and loved and won and lost its own little battles, its own puny wars.

There was no order in the hole, no loyalty or love, only a cold, forbidding darkness that ate through everything in its path. There were demons that hated everything their Creator had made – including each other.

And every so often, one of them would spring free, be allowed to wreak havoc, be allowed to speak through a human. Every so often, one of them would pull out a legion from the hole, and as a body of thousands would chorus about their miseries, feed on human suffering, draw out that anguish in both mind and body –

But when the Rite was read, by the right person, with the right disposition – the Banishment would happen all over again. A fall. Fire. Warmth. Hope.

Every deliverance was Banishment replayed.

The Rite had been left unchanged for hundreds of years. When it had finally been reexamined, it had been used, misused, abused – so the new authors changed it, shortened it, translated it, revised it.

But not all translations carry the spirit of the words. Not all shortcuts are efficient.

And, even when ordered, not all The Banished leave.

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