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     The LocalsArchonsCopyright © 2000 by Monte Lin

(When the Modron March tore through Heart’s Faith, some sod demanded an explanation from a silver sword archon. Why did the archons not interfere with the March? Why did archons act so much like cowards? She answered thusly)

Of all of the celestial peoples, we archons are perhaps the closest to mortals. We find this a great pleasure and a great responsibility. It is also the reason we are not the most powerful of the celestials, but it is the exchange my people had made for free will and the chance to teach, and learn from, mortals such as yourself.

This is the first fact you must understand if you would understand a celestial; greater power means less freedom. This is a paradox that is strongest amongst us archons, and I will try to explain it to the best of my ability.

With knowledge and experience, comes understanding. In the Outer Planes, this understanding manifests as power. It has been said that once a being achieves greater power, it realizes the restrictions within the multiverse, and must live within them. For those with lesser power, such as a mortal like yourself, the possibilities are limitless.

Archons have chosen to be the gap between divine and mortal. While the celestials of law plan for centuries and the celestials of chaos remain in isolation, practicing their self-determination, we archons plan in the short (in celestial years) term, and intervene on an individual level. Once we do so, we find our powers resembling more of mortals than that of the divine. This is a law of the universe that we have discovered, and that we cannot fully explain.

The lower archons, including the lanterns, must stay within the Mount. They do not have the power, nor the wisdom to survive outside of the protective confines of Mount Celestia. However, they are free to wander, to roam, to choose a Path of Understanding, and even intervene in mortal life. They have this freedom, yet they do not have the power to drastically affect the universe.

The higher archons are hardly ever seen. They deal in the long term, in centuries, overseeing the progress of the universe and contemplating the fate and place of Mount Celestia. Their power and knowledge wanes if they deviate too much from this role. Hence, they have great power, yet they cannot directly intervene.

We middle archons have the greatest mix of both worlds. We possess mortal knowledge and understanding, and the ability to affect change. Most of us stay within these ranks, believing that we can do the most good as we are. But please realize that this is the good of short term for individual lives; the advice for a mortal here, the intervention there, but it is our elders that seek out and defeat the greater threat, the Blood War, the fall of a power, and so on.

We middle rank archons are also at the greatest risk. The lanterns are too pure and simplistic to be corrupted fully, most simply fade and die. Although some, in their naivete, believe themselves to be fighting for Good, only to find that they have been led by something not pure.

Deep in Baator, a pit fiend discovered a means to bring lanterns to their rotten plane. By careful deceit and lies, it managed to convince a handful of souls to believe in its version of Good, tainted by evil. These souls, however, still believe in Good, and retain their shape, if not the luster. Otherwise, lanterns are hard to corrupt.

Our elders bask are too deep in the glow of Good to fall, although some have. Ambition, desire, vengeance, indifference, or even despair can push a great one to fall. In most cases, however, they are so removed from mortal life, and so engrained into the life of the Mount that they have no taint within them.

We middle ranks are the most vulnerable. We travel into the Lower Planes on a regular schedule. We must deal with the messy philosophies of mortals. We sometimes must make difficult compromises. Our constant exposure to the multiverse may cause us to doubt, have pride, or lose vision. In this way, again, with greater freedom comes less power.

Less horrific but more shameful is the taint of chaos in our beings. Some archons exercise this great freedom fully, and fall to chaos. Again, the lower archons are too simple to believe there is anything else but law. The higher archons are nearly part of the Mount themselves.

But we also have the long-term view in mind. We know that a mortal is a mortal. If she dies, at least she becomes a petitioner, so we do not usually mourn death. We try to honor our word. I believe that interpretation leads to corruption, however; we always strive for the Greater Good.

Mortals either see us as cold and over-righteous, or pliant and ever giving. We are both and neither. We value choice and free will. If we offer service to everyone, mortals may worship us, or worse, depend on us. Mortals that depend on us for everything, from guidance to aid, simply follow another form of slavery, the slavery of their own dependence. If we forcibly convert, mortals turn against us. Mortals should worship their power, or the Greater Good, and live their life on their own terms. Intervention on our part can disrupt this choice, and corrupt the mortal. This is the fine line we always walk when we deal with mortals. So we try not to interfere, if only to give direction and advice. That is our function. The needs of an individual are not as important.

It is interesting and distressing to us that you mortals would rather run to a fiend than to us, because you fear our agenda. I am sure you feel that the fiends offer, at least, some profit. We do not play dice with your soul. We know where it should go.

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