Heaven and the Throne of the First
The people of Liafa believe in Heaven. There, the gods have created kingdoms for themselves and their devout. These kingdoms spiral outward around the symbol of the strength of the gods – the Throne of the First – creating an elaborate latticework of domains and castles spinning out on truesilver strands. Each god claims their own place on the Celestial Lattice, and each domain drastically differs from kingdom to kingdom, depending on the god.
Like the Seven Paths, theologists speculate that Celestial Arches exist on Liafa, allowing mortals to climb the Celestial Lattice, provided they discover how to traverse the Mirror Lands in order to do so. The devout souls beloved by the gods pass through these arches after their death, leaving the memories of their mortal life behind as they travel to Heaven to be with their god.
The Throne of the First lays in the center of the Celestial Lattice, providing a view of all the nested kingdoms below. There is no domain surrounding the Throne, for whoever sits upon the Throne of the First lays claim to all of the kingdoms below as their First. The Throne of the First is inextricably linked to the one who sits upon it, becoming a manifestation of the god themselves. Only by casting down the Throne of the First from Heaven onto the world can the one who claims it be usurped.
This is known, the clergy says, because it happened when Zaelen fell. According to the church, Zaelen was one of the Great Archangels of the Cobalt Queen, They Who Sit Atop the Throne Most Graciously. Zaelen, the Argent Scholar was prized by the Queen as their most loyal of Great Archangels, second only to another Great Archangel who can no longer be named. Zaelen was charged with keeping the secrets of the outside, imparted to the Queen by Liafa when it was called from the Void.
As Zaelen studied the mortals upon Liafa, they grew to love them and sought to share with them the secrets of the outside meant only for the Cobalt Queen. The Queen refused each time, knowing that the secrets within could plunge them back into the Void. Zaelen disagreed, but respected the wishes of their Queen. Zaelen spoke of their plight to this other Great Archangel, after one such discussion. It was here Zaelen learned this Great Archangel, too, knew the secrets Zaelen believed the Queen had only entrusted to them.
Zaelen grew jealous of this Great Archangel. It was a powerful jealousy that overtook them completely, Zaelen drew their blade and struck down this other Great Archangel. Knowing that the death of a Great Archangel cannot be undone, Zaelen knew their only hope to be spared this fate was to face the Cobalt Queen and emerge victorious. Thus, Zaelen cast down the Throne of the First, and challenged They Who Sit Atop the Throne Most Graciously.
The Cobalt Queen, upon easily defeating Zaelen, shed tears that fell across the land, marking it forever with their grief. They showed mercy with their former trusted servant. Rather than unmake a second Great Archangel, the Cobalt Queen had Zaelen imprisoned in Hell and constructed the Citadel around them as a punishment, and to fulfil the role they once held. Should Zaelen show the proper penance, they would ascend to the Queen’s side once more.
Most scholars believe a snowball has a better chance of spending a long, storied life within the Citadel.
Hell and the Seven Paths of the Citadel
As they tell people about Heaven, so too do the clergy speak of Hell. It would be difficult to ignore the truth of it when devils walk the world, after all. It is as their gods and their clergy tell them – the wicked are punished and tormented as they deserve.
According to current theology, there are seven hidden paths that allow those who walk it to travel to the Citadel – a massive fortress at the center of Hell that serves as the prison of Zaelen and vault for the gods. The Citadel is said to hold a copy of all information that has been lost or forbidden since the world was saved from the void.
The Seven Paths are attributed to the gods. Legends say that these paths were made through the Mirror Lands when the gods dragged the Archdevils to Hell and imprisoned them there, leaving them to ever seek an escape. Those that walk them will find paths to the realms of the Archdevils, and eventually lead to the Citadel itself.
It is primarily souls of the damned that walk these paths after death – being forcibly punished by the gods for their deeds, but stories speak of mortals making the journeys to the Citadel in times of dire need, walking the Seven Paths as they traverse Hell.
“Barren Wasteland” by Josh LeClair is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0