Houses

In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored…
—T. S. Eliot, East Coker

The seven Celestial Houses created by God defined the duties and the powers of each angel within them, refining their individual natures and shaping their identity within a rigidly structured hierarchy. Prior to the Fall, each House was governed by a central angel (referred to as the autarch), who directed the activities of his subordinates through a council of lieutenants. These lieutenants had their own circle of subordinates who reported on the activities of the angels under their authority, and so on, down to the lesser rank and file of holy servants. There was no allowance for promotion or demotion. The duties of each angel never varied, and the Elohim were content in their duties as the cosmos took shape, expecting nothing more than what the Creator gave them.

When the rebel angels broke from their brethren, their identity as members of a specific House remained as strong as ever, and in short order, the fallen re-established the hierarchy that had been lost, restoring the sense of focus and function that the angels craved. These rebel Houses, collectively referred to as the Sebettu (literally, "the Seven"), found themselves somewhat at odds with the feudal structure that Lucifer imposed on the infernal host at the beginning of the war. As time passed, the function of the rebel autarch and her lieutenants became focused on supporting the priorities and agendas of House members while simultaneously contributing individually to the war effort. Some among the fallen point to rivalries and intrigues that grew from intra and inter-House competition that hindered the effectiveness of the legions during the war, but even as the tide inexorably turned against the rebels, neither Lucifer nor his lieutenants tried to disband the Sebettu or curb their influence. Forcing the fallen to reject any ties to their House, no matter how desperate the situation, was simply inconceivable.

Divided Loyalties

During the war, the typical rebel found herself juggling her loyalty to her lord commander and the wishes of her House elders. Later, as internal factions split the host into competing philosophies, this balancing act became even more difficult. Each rebel had to decide, based on her own goals and desires, which master to heed and which to ignore when conflicts arose. These loyalties often shifted from day to day and moment to moment.

This issue of divided loyalty is even more acute now that the fallen have returned to Earth. Most (if not all) of the warlords, House elders and factional leaders remain trapped in the Abyss, leaving each demon with the freedom to choose where their allegiances now lie. They can choose to follow the orders of distant lords, seek to restore the primacy of their House or reject the old ways and shape a new order based upon the tenets of their faction.