Ends of the Earth
A Brief History of Eternity and Knowledge
The Binding of Tasks and Burdens is considered by many scholars (the Pearl Promenade among them) to have been – overall – poorly executed. The ideology behind the Binding is generally considered sound, but the radical lack of Task-Entanglement foresight rendered the entire operation messy at its best and disastrous at its worst. For every Celestial-Infernal pairing that functioned within reason – i.e. with proper ebb and flow of relative power and strict adherence to rules of engagement and non-immortal influence caps – there was a pairing that, through one of the innumerable feuds that has accumulated over recorded infinity, did everything in their power to disrupt balance. For every bitter struggle fought with honor and duty, there was one fought with grudges and hate. For every Michael and Ba’al, there was a Sariel and Murmur.
Sariel is titled Archangel of Eternity and Trembling, Fourth of Seven, as the Burdens of Eternity and Trembling (each distributed over a few score of Angels) overlapped across seven distinct generals to which lieutenants of both Burdens reported to and received orders from, in a decision that the Eightfold Harvest Master of the Pearl Promenade remarked “…would be laughable in its idiocy, had Celestial-Infernal miscalculations not long ago passed humorous gaffes directly into the realm of cataclysmic fuck-ups.” [Ed. Note: the original noun described by the adjective ‘cataclysmic’ has been replaced with kinder language due to the offensive nature of the original statement.] The Burden of Eternity is concerned not with infinity itself as the name would imply, but rather with the maintenance of immortal beings as they are reborn, reformed, or moved to alternate physical vessels. Simply put, the Burden regards those who are eternal, rather than eternity. The Burden of Trembling is concerned with deference and fear in the face of said immortals, and carries with it a variety of Tasks that create and govern the precise balance of terror and respect in mortal beings.
Sariel himself is a proud general, and not without certain admirable qualities. Though he is an average tactician, he is a remarkable judge of skill and character, and has a nearly spotless history of selecting able bodied lieutenants to determine Celestial troop placement and operations. He is also known as a fair commander, neither punishing too harshly nor rewarding undeservedly. However, Sariel has an incredibly vindictive streak which has rendered both him and his troops enmeshed in centuries-long vendettas far outside their expected course of action. He is single-minded in his pursuit of justice, which would be an admirable quality were it not for his sometimes self-defined vision of what constitutes justice.
Murmur’s title is Duke of Knowledge and the Conjured, the naming of which implies sole ownership of those two Burdens, though this is obviously not the case considering his Task-Entanglement with Sariel. He shares his Burdens with 6 additional Dukes, though only 4 are currently active and in known locations post-End. The Burden of Knowledge governs the dispensation of immortal answers to those who seek it in the forms of omens, oracles, or other methods of divination. The Burden of the Conjured is slightly more complex, and deals with the spirits and messengers that are brought forth into the mortal realm to dispense said omens and divination. These spirits are often autonomous entities such as departed spirits or primordial forces, and so those to whom this Burden falls become quite skilled at wrangling and controlling those conjured. If great care is taken, the Burdened demon can also utilize lesser imps and fiends to take the place of ordinary spirits and dispense the knowledge in a manner advantageous to the infernals.
Here, now, we begin to see the shape of the conflict that lies within this Task-Entangled pair.