It’s always been a mystery to me how the Balance chose its servants. Was it something they said, the way they walked, did they all like crunchy peanut butter better than smooth? Kandol, the Herald, even myself I suppose, or the few I’ve seen sprinkled across other worlds, have little in common on the surface, and at least one of us was a dubious choice (that would be me, in case you were wondering). But with Celetran, it wasn’t a secret at all. Majestrix handpicked and initiated her to the Balance and the role fit her like a glove. Finbardin, in a happy coincidence, (the golden one was ignorant of the Balance’s true meaning up to the very end) had already pinned her with a shiny badge and named her his duly authorized cosmic cop, judge and jury, so adding the Balance to her boss list was more an expansion of jurisdiction than a change in purpose.
Majestrix always understood the Balance and the Necessity better than Zuras. She accepted the Balance’s truth in the Void and taught Zuras that a little sweat made triumph sweeter. Her mate though, was a slow learner and let go of his old philosophy slowly. After the Craeylu got their sea legs, she and Zuras stepped back from running the day to day operation and retired to Tar Devalle, but the Balance still needed someone to work its will upon the gods and the Lady of Esel was the perfect choice.
Let me take a few steps back and set the stage. When the Elder Races drew near, Finbardin enlisted the Craeylu and Elemenes to create the Ealar and the Elehu. The Gods of Light, as the combined pantheons were called, had a common purpose – to live on Sangrar with the Elder Races and keep them safe from the Dark Lord. The gods weren’t much for laying down the law, Lillandra’s ban was about the only one of any importance. Oh for sure there were things you shouldn’t do, like any act of violence against another, but there wasn’t any need to write them down. The rules were simply understood, accepted and followed because they were simple and made sense to decent folk.
Even the best children, however, misbehave on occasion and Finbardin knew that the Elder Races would make mistakes. He needed someone to crack down on them when they did. He already had a right hand man in Deridean, but needed someone on his left to complement the Councilor and for that, he chose Celetran, the Lady of Esel. She looked like Storm of the X-men, with jet black skin instead of cocoa. She was a bit of a wild child herself, you’ve no doubt heard how much she enjoyed … mingling (or praying, if you prefer) with the Elder Races, so she wasn’t an obvious choice for an enforcer. I always thought Finbardin picked her because she was Spirit’s daughter (like all Elehu, she came from a single parent home and there was no father in the picture, giving Goldie no reason to be jealous) and he was soft on her. Even better, Celetran and Olllare weren’t part of the four seasons club, so they were free for assignment.
After getting her marching orders from Finbardin, Majestrix took Celetran aside and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, to work on the behalf of the Balance. Then Celetran took up residence in Belecontar, the Winking Star, where she could see all that transpired below. If anyone got out of line, she could knock them back in to place, like she did with Sunome and Embyrl. Those two dared to dream of breaking Lillandra’s ban. The Lady’s justice was swift and harsh. No matter how much empathy she had for the star-crossed lovers (her own proclivities gave her great insight), she couldn’t afford a drop of sympathy, not with Sorrow was waiting in the wings.
As “the sword of the gods”, the people of Sangrar knew Celetran’s justice, but when she was Celetran, agent of the Balance, her authority extended much higher, as Father Zuras found out the hard way when he took exception to the Laughing God declaring his love for Spollnar. It was rather strange, Zuras coming out to take a stand on such a trivial matter after hiding so long in Tar-Devalle, but the whole idea of opposites attracting always troubled him. Some days, he also had problems recognizing himself in the mirror. Celetran, though, thought spring and fall a cute couple and told Zuras to back off. She did it because the Balance told her to (it didn’t really talk, but if you worked for it, you knew what it wanted), without knowing why. We learned why ages later, from Celetran herself, when she ran her Ealar/Elehu matchmaking service. Garruth and Spollnar’s romance complicated things, but not insurmountably and especially not after Celetran brought Spollnar into her inner circle.
Celetran had plenty of company in Belecontar. Annumbra set up shop there after bottling up One Eye and was glad to share the space. Belecontar was a big star with more than enough room. Celetran’s sky sister, Ollare the Caretaker (Spirit’s other Elehu offspring) stayed with her and Annumbra when she wasn’t out dancing among the stars with Numra (she would have been a great contestant on your reality show). Celetran had been happy when her sister and Numra found each other. Ollare was rather plain looking compared to her and didn’t have nearly her experience with the opposite sex.
Things ended badly between Ollare and Numra and according to most historians Ollare was the reason, but both should have shared the blame. Numra could have handled the situation more gently. Kandol said that when the Sky Sisters were young, Ollare was the more staid and conservative of the two, a rock of respectability next to Celetran’s playful ways. Then, after her breakup, Ollare went off the deep end and did things so terrible that even her name became taboo.
I could tell that Kandol didn’t enjoy talking about Ollare, by that name or her other one, but boy did he like to talk about the Lady. Even after all those years, sometimes, his cheeks would turn red, and that’s something. Kandol spent an awful lot of time between the Stones, but not even the most raucous prayer sessions left him as drained as his time with the Lady of Esel. Velora, a very understanding woman, usually laughed at his embarrassment. In all my years at Pel Aesylle, I never saw anything rattle her.
The Lady always had a thing for those of Nammoran’s blood, from the Firstborn on down. Rumor had it that she’d bedded most of them and for once, rumor nailed it dead on. She got to Nammoran early on, when he was searching for the perfect location to found Nammovalle and had Belecontar light the way to the bend in the River Daraling in exchange for his favors.
The way Kandol told it, Elras was her favorite. Kandol admitted to being with the Lady often and if I ever questioned any of his fish stories, Velora backed him up. Fate, and the Balance, had brought Elf lord and goddess together. They were working towards the same goal and too many late nights at the office led to the inevitable. With Kandol and Celetran, it was all fun and games and both of them understood that. With Elras, there was more to it, even though she was a goddess. Elras had that effect on everyone he met. No one spent time with Elras without being changed in some way. She even took him to Belecontar to live with her for a while. When he returned, he carried a gift in his pocket – a diamond from the Mere of Gems that one day he’d affix to Caerycal’s pommel. Unfortunately, his wife, Tildienne, wasn’t nearly as understanding as Velora, and Elras spent a long time in the doghouse.
The day Elras died was the most important day of Kandol’s life. That was the day he became an earthmage. Kandol was studying in the Harnae’s grove the day it happened. Elras perished battling a Maldok, making him the first person to die (Lindivar was a god, his death didn’t count), EVER. The idyll of the Elder Days was over. Those close to Elras sensed his passing. His mother, Ylindelay mourned him for a thousand years.
Kandol more than sensed Elras’s death, he saw it in a vision. Then Elras’s gift passed to Kandol and he became an Earthmage able to fuse song and sorcery. His flexed his arcane muscles and his aura grew bright, impressing the Harnae and arousing their curiosity. Until that moment, Kandol had been a priest and could channel in the Stones with the best of them, but outside the Stones he’d heard nothing. No longer. Now he was an Earthmage and the grove was bursting with earthsong. The Harnae couldn’t hear it, they were born deaf to it, but the evidence was standing right in front of them.
After Kandol left the grove, the Lady came to him and said that she’d given him Elras’s gift. Gifts of earthmagery didn’t pass from father to son and they couldn’t be left to someone in a will. Once an Earthmage was reborn in the Outermost Heavens, his or his gift was lost to Sangrar, but in the case of Elras’s, the Lady interceded on the Balance’s behalf. At first, when Kandol asked why, she said because he reminded of her of Elras, but then she quit clowning around and told him the truth, that the Balance made her do it. Elras’s gift was important to Sangrar and could not be lost. That was the first time Kandol heard that from the Lady, but not the last. If he had a nickel for everything she told him the Balance made her do, he’d have been a wealthy Elf. Make that wealthier. Another favorite line of hers was “that which is dead may live again.” That one gave Kandol lots of heartache, Hali too.
Celetran maintained her reputation into the Age of Mankind. She didn’t want any temples and didn’t have any, prayers weren’t really her thing. People of every nation knew the Lady of Esel and wanted to stay on her good side. She had her followers, many officers of the law, the occasional wandering prophet and vigilantes, lots of vigilantes, but they had the good sense to keep their faith to themselves for the most part. Those wielding the sword of justice didn’t need fancy temples to show off their faith.
She hadn’t gotten any softer over the years, if anything, she’d gotten craftier. Millenia serving the Balance will do that to anyone, it comes with the territory. Some people mistakenly thought her the mother of the Vanara. The idea might have been hers, but she could only claim Bangal as her own. She did put a lot of effort into the Vanara. Some of the others took a lot of convincing, especially Spollnar. Dracorys and Davyrma were the eagerest beavers. The Seeress had pronounced her doom so long ago that they could barely remember what each other looked like. It all worked out for the best between those two, but not exactly how anyone would have thought.
Somewhere along the way, Celetran fell for Sudnar. She’d thought his buns cute for ages, but when the Vanara scam started, she thought it would be just one more roll in the hay for the good of the Prophecies, but Sudnar reeled her in and she stayed caught. She stayed with him until the end, in Belecontar. After so many years of churning through mortal lovers like pages on a skimmed book, settling down suited the Lady. Sudnar was good for her, but Razu, his tiger, never really got comfortable living in a star.