Over the days, weeks, and months that intervene, visions of the sacred heart, the blossoms, and the child intercessor appear in all the brothels, festhalls, and houses of ill repute in Selene, bearing the message of the fall of Merciless Tzaluth, the tale of his birth to a temple prostitute, of the inherent holiness of all whores, and of his replacement by a loving mother-goddess who holds their profession sacred. Gifts of the finest garments, scents, sweet-meats, fruits, wine, and bedclothes appear heaped in their common rooms to be distributed, always accompanied by a single blossoming young apple tree hung with silver coins stamped with an all-too-familiar glyph. Tied to each tree is the same note, repeated in every language, written in blood, and smelling of apple-blossoms:
Know that I am Love. These gifts are yours that your work may prosper and be fulfilled. Know that as St. Elena, the mother of Lord Tzaluth was holy, so you, my daughters, are also holy, as are all who partake in your work of love. The Lord Tzaluth was our child, conceived in love, but there was no love in him. For this, it was our duty to destroy him, for Love bears up against a host of evils. The merciless child is slain and Love reigns in his place. You, my daughters, I task with showing our love to the people. Remembers that Love trusts all, protects all, and above all, Love Hopes. Have hope for the future my daughters. Do not despair for a new world is coming, where people will be free to live and love as they should, free from the terrors and suffering of this one. I ask you to show them how it will be to live in this coming world. Teach them the freedom of Love. Love freely and live freely.
Know that Love provides for you always, you shall never be in want. As you receive freely, so Love asks you to freely give. On this next 14th of Februarius, let there be the first of many celebrations to the freedom of the people!"
A Tryst in Limbo:
Smashing kegs, drunken pixies, and again, the howling of the wind. Wind it seemed had become her lot in life. Lust screamed in agony and exultation as the harpy's claws bit into her back and her own small teeth found purchase at the lillend's beutiful waist, blood raining down on the revelers below.
Amidst the chaos, the blood, the violent passions, Love realizes that these two are also his children, bound to one another by bonds as strong as any more traditional couple. Reaching into their minds he greets them with the image of their six-armed seductress, entwined about an apple tree...
"Sisters...Beloved...You have heard of the world that is coming..."
Slowly, the rich voice of the Harpy blends with the high, clear soprano of the Lillend, as they hear the tune, first so faint, and then stronger, with a pulse like a racing heart.
"I begin to sing of rich-haired Love, awful Goddess /
Of her and her trim-ankled daughter, whom Chronos rapt away /
Given to him by all-seeing Tzaluth, the loud-thunderer /
Apart from Love, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits.
I will sing of well-founded Love /
Mother of all, eldest of all beings /
She feeds all creatures that are in the world, all that go upon the goodly land /
And all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed of her store. /
Through you, O Queen, men are blessed in their children, and blessed in their harvests /
And to you it belongs to give means of life to mortal men -- and to take it away."
The tavern was loud and boisterous and the women were free and easy, as they all had been since their return to Holy Selene. Miltiades San Demaine of the Ordo Apostolic had been told to expect a bloody fight for the city. He was pleasantly relieved when the doors were swung wide and they were all invited in as heroes. After the crusades, it was a welcome respite to get to spend his coin on wine...and not have to spend it on the women.
There was something about this city. Something he couldn't put his finger on. Maybe it was the fact that all the whores were free. Maybe it was the fact that there was more apple-jack to be had than wine. Maybe it was the interesting broadsheets lying on the counters in most of the shops, all of them on high-falutin' academic topics that he felt he should understand but somehow couldn't. Really, he thought it was the fact that, for once, all the Orders were getting along. Just last night he had been out drinking with an Ignatian, a Malleus, and an Episcopal.
He took another deep drink of his apple wine. Yeah, he thought to himself, he was definitely starting to love this city.
And it came to pass on the first day of the week, that the Lady Rose stood up on the steps of the Great Cathedral of Tzaluth in the midst of the people gathered for the celebration of the return of the heroes of the Lord's Crusade against the heretics of Messian and read aloud from the books of the prophecies of our Lord.
"Seventy weeks are determinedThe people cheered and marveled at her reading, but she read on.
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Holy Selene
Until Love the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times."
"And after the sixty-two weeksThe cheering stopped, and as Rose put down the scroll she stared out into a sea of silent faces, local and crusader alike. "People of Selene!" She decried. "I declare to you this day, that this prophecy has come to pass. Lord Love is slain and in seven days this world will be unmade. Even now Famine, the Abomination of Desolation rides forth to bring ruin and gather its kindred. But, even in death, Lord Love, the true anointed of Tzaluth is not defeated. He offers covenant and reconciliation to all those who wish good will for their fellows, and a home in the new world that is to come."
Love shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.”