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The Trials of Great Sister

It is known, of course, that our Red Goddess has had many children. It is also known that Her children have had a pre-existence before their first recognition by the broader world. This is Red Truth, the strongest kind of all, and incontrovertible. So let it be understood, readers and listeners, that the Red Emperor and Great Sister knew each other before they had those names. And when they were young together, above Mernita, they were the youngest of the Goddess’s children. And Great Sister was older than the Red Emperor, and so she knew it was her duty to watch over him. 

So when the Red Emperor was very young, and nearly jumped off of the Moon and fell to Earth, then it was Great Sister who pulled him back up and away from the world. And when the Red Emperor almost stuck his little hand into the Baths of Nelat, it was Great Sister who shook her finger in his face and said, “No” and threw a selene into the Baths to illustrate. And as the years went on, Great Sister proved to her mother that she had what it took to watch over her little brother, and that became her responsibility whenever her mother departed on one of Her journeys to incarnate Herself and walk the streets of Mernita. 


Now by this time Homura* had departed, bearing the sword of her uncle at her side, and went away into the south, taking with her many curious and inquisitive people. And indeed, few were the children of the Goddess still upon the Moon. Great Sister, perhaps, grew a little weary. And when the Red Emperor nearly shot his foot with the Bow of Conquest, she said, intemperately, “Stop touching mom’s things or I’ll tell her you’ve been playing with the little sheep boy again.”

“I wasn’t!” the Red Emperor protested. “I swear!” Great Sister snorted. 


“I know you weren’t, squirt**,” she said, “But I’ll tell her you did, and then you’ll be in serious trouble.” The Red Emperor scowled and scuffed the floor with his sandals, and then gave her little trouble for the rest of their mother’s absence. But when She returned, he went and told Her of Great Sister’s words, and the Goddess’s face grew a little grave.

“Why?” she asked Great Sister, later, when they were alone. 


“Something must be done to keep him in line,” Great Sister said. “He’ll cause all kinds of problems if he loses his discipline.” The Goddess sighed, and Great Sister went on, “Just the other day, he nearly crashed the Moon into the Earth, or would have, if I hadn’t stopped him.” 


“It is not good to live in fear,” the Goddess said. “So you must find another way to make sure that he doesn’t get into trouble.” Great Sister opened her mouth to agree, and the Goddess continued, “And you must swear an oath that you will not, and be bound by it.” Great Sister ground her teeth a little. 

I swear on the river Styx that separates the living and the dead that I will never let terror outweigh benevolence in my deeds,” Great Sister said directly and calmly, and it was done and she abided by it, for she could do nothing else. And so when next she was set to watch over the Red Emperor, she showered him with kindness instead, and indulged him so deeply and so thoroughly that he never had a chance to do anything mischievous.

And then by the time the Goddess had returned, the Red Emperor was sickly, and Erissa the White Lady had to be called, and there was a whole hospital built in the process, and the selenes took to chasing each other around wearing masks and white uniforms.*** And the Goddess tapped Her foot in vexation and cornered Great Sister in her room. “Is this because you’re jealous?” she asked Great Sister. “I don’t understand why you’re doing this.”

“I have no jealousy towards my brother,” Great Sister said, “I simply did what I could to keep him safe and happy.” She folded her arms. 


“Overindulgence in desires can be a Hell of its own,” the Goddess said. She sat down on Great Sister’s bed and lay an arm across her shoulders. “When next I incarnate, you shall come with me,” She said. “Learn how the mortal people live.” 


“Yes, mother,” Great Sister said, but she resolved that she would not leave the Red Emperor alone to hurt himself. So, knowing that she could neither frighten him nor cozen him into safety, she thought and thought and at last she pulled out her eye and made of it an amulet, and gave it to the Red Emperor, a little silver plate that reflected anything it saw. “Call for me if you’re in trouble,” she said, and the Red Emperor nodded, and whenever Great Sister focused, she could see through her eye, which was called Mirror, and she knew what her brother was doing. 


And feeling secure, she incarnated and loved the mortal people. She went among them often, and lived with them, and listened to all of their troubles and offered her advice and aid. And they in turn loved her, and when the Roofer destroyed the Goddess’s body, the people of Mernita hid Great Sister far away from her mother’s shadow, where she could be safe in turn. 


Great Sister remained in the world long after most light had left it. She contended with the Devil's proofs alongside the Soft Logicians, she bore her older sister's body away and cast it into the Sky again when she fell, and at last when her uncle destroyed the world she was only destroyed and reborn with it, the marks of her hands on the cave where she dreamt still visible to this day.


It was a long time before the Goddess found Her daughter again. But when She did, they embraced, and Great Sister sat at her mother’s foot, and she swore never to turn her face from the Earth, knowing that her mother’s face would turn away from time to time, as was necessary. 


So you who are inducted into the Sister’s Army, you must know this:


We cannot protect through fear, we cannot protect through indulgence. We must protect through having eyes everywhere, and ears open at all times. And you must, as Great Sister does, love all the people who live under the Moon. Some of you have seen Great Sister already, and may ask why she has two eyes if she took one out to watch the Red Emperor. Think, and it will come to you, and you will know of the great sacrifice Great Sister made for us all. 


Remember:

Great Sister Is Watching You! 




*The first child of the Red Goddess, her name is a generic term for gemstones today and it may be a pet name.

**Lit. “Rufalio/Rufalie”, a diminutive related to size or diminishedness.


***Lunes also have been known to join in. This is, I have been told, exasperating for White Ladies in cities like Glamour and Karantes, where confusion happens frequently. 


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