Dark Eric (By Frank!)

LIL Prologue: Heaven

Somehow, this particular opening got missed when the setting was uploaded to this community. We include it here for completeness's sake.



Yves has many methods of travel. Perhaps the most common is just appearing, whereever it is he's going. Or taking innocuous transport to go remarkable places. Or simply walking.

Which is what he did on this day in Heaven. He made his way from the Library, a book tucked under his arm, and he walked into Heaven. He walked past the gleaming Halls of Progress and the shining Cathedral of Laurence. He stepped lively through the Baazar, taking the thoroughfare to the road on the edge of the Eternal City. The road to the Groves, the fields of practice, where War's forces lay and rested and trained eternally.

Deep in the Groves themselves, the Archangel David stood outside a tent. He had been standing there for days, now -- never moving. Constant, as a Malakite should be. He had turned and looked into the tent once, at the request of the inhabinant. Otherwise, he had simply stood and waited.

The horse's hooves thundered as the rider approached. David did not turn to look -- he knew who would be riding, and did not need to see the boy to envision him. Eventually, the boy rode into view anyhow. Erect in the saddle, wearing a simple leather jacket, jeans and a tee shirt. David had never seen James Dean movies, and had no comment for the young general as he approached.

"Has he moved," Laurence asked, tersely, as he slipped out of the saddle. A sword hung on the saddle, and Laurence took a moment to transfer it to the sheath on his belt, waiting for David's answer.

"No." David felt no need to elaborate.

"Your angels have been defending the mortals," Laurence continued. "Against the desperate push of the Princes. I wanted to commend them -- their strength has allowed us to carry the battle to Hell's gates on other fronts."

"Thank you."

Laurence opened his mouth to say something else, but decided against it. "Has he had any other visitors?"

"Novalis, to heal him. You can imagine how well he took that."

"Mm." Laurence nodded again, and slipped past David, into the tent.

It was well appointed inside, but unstaffed. Bright banners were furled and stored. Various axes were set in racks nearby -- not that any showed use, but for the well kept great axe by the cot.

Laurence was brave and honorable. Too honorable to turn away from the Archangel who lay on the cot. Too honorable not to look straight at battered, injured form. He could percieve flashes of the six eyes and six wings Michael showed every so often. He could see the tall human body Michael generally showed. He could see the bandages, the blood, the sheer battering that the mightiest of all Archangels had withstood.

"Laurence," the Archangel croaked.

"Firstborn," Laurence half-whispered. "You're looking better."

"You're a damn liar. Come closer."

Laurence moved to Michael's bedside, kneeling. "Yes?"

"How is the world. And don't sugarcoat it. I hate that."

Laurence nodded slightly. "It's in contrast, right now. The princes are launching desperate attacks -- almost open ones -- to bolster their Words. But with their strongest Servitors failing, it's becoming easier and easier to contain them. The Seneschals are dying, so their tethers are war camps or vulnerable. Hell has lost more ground in the last month than in the three hundred years before it."

"That's because Hell gained ground for the last three hundred years." Michael spat to one side. "They're weak?"

"Critically weak. The Princes are faltering. The infernal Word-bound are dying or dead. The Symphony is rejecting them, without Lucifer to demand their presence."

Michael closed his eyes, a smile touching his lips. "Then it worked?" he whispered.

"You have driven them back, Firstborn," Laurence whispered. "You stood against evil and prevailed."

"I nearly lost," Michael said, eyes opening again. "If he'd hit me before I hit him... any of my Distincted could beat me now. I'm so weak...."

"You won. You didn't lose." It was like a mantra. Or an expression of faith. "You beat back the night."

"Laurence," Michael hissed, grabbing at his arm. "This is your moment. Your time. You must start it! Start Armageddon now!"

"Michael--"

"Don't you see? We could win now. It is certain. Yes, we would need to trigger the signs ourselves, but then we could destroy Hell's army and remake the world into Heavenly glory! They have no leader! This is your moment." His eyes burned. Burned like Gabriel's at the cusp of her visions. Burned like a preacher's in the pulpit. "Do it now, boy...."

Laurence took a deep breath. "They do have a leader, Michael."

"What? Baal convinced--"

"Not Baal. Lilith. She's apparently forming a court in Hell. We know that. We have unprecedented defections. The Fallen and Hellborn alike are taking any route out of Hell, any chance. God and Heaven, Michael -- even demonic Word-bound in Limbo have been forcing themselves out in any vessel, and fleeing to us. Michael, we're winning. We don't need Arma--"

"Lilith." Michael laughed. A rasping laugh that became a cough. "That's like saying Marc took over in my absence."

Laurence felt his face burn. "He didn't. We miss you, but--"

"Nothing is changed. Laurence -- strike! Call down the host and decimate the horde! They couldn't stop you -- not now!"

"It was considered. The Seraphim Council elected to pursue the war into Hell if possible, and contain the Infernals on Earth. We'll wait out the death of the demon Princes."

"No! Laurence -- this is the best chance we have had in twenty thousand years! We must--"

"They're deserting, Michael. Unprecidented numbers are redeeming. Do we meet them with swords and blood and destruction? We don't need Armageddon. We're winning the War! You have won the War--"

"Laurence..." his eyes looked desperate. "Laurence -- I know that Flowers and Trade will fight you, but this is your chance to end it all. Can't you see?"

Laurence looked in Michael's eyes. "It is writ that Armageddon will come down to the battle between Heaven's Champion and the Champion of Hell. That all will be decided by that battle. Is it not so?"

Michael didn't answer, his need for the end of the War on his face.

"You couldn't beat Baal now, Michael. Hell, you couldn't beat Nybbas now. You'd die. What would happen then?"

"It's a prophecy. Damn it, Laurence -- another can fight. You can! You could take Baal -- especially now!"

"I am the General of the Host. You are Heaven's champion." Laurence stood straighter. "We're winning the War without Armageddon, right now. Why should I trigger Armageddon, when all signs are we would lose, because Heaven's Champion can barely lift his axe? Or that someone unworthy to be the Champion of Heaven will join the field and lose? There's no need to, Michael. You've already won the battle. Maybe your battle was Armageddon, and Lucifer Hell's Champion -- and now our final victory is assured."

"Laurence..." Michael whispered.

"No. You've given us an incredible advantage. That's what we need to pursue."

"Damn it--"

"That's my decision, Michael. Given the current tactical situation, Armageddon can only favor Hell, because Heaven is poised for final victory. We will wait them out. They can't endure much longer. We will welcome the defectors, and redeem those we can. Those who can't be redeemed will be destroyed anyway. We will contain the Princes and prevent them from starting Armageddon. And we will watch Lilith's power play carefully."

Michael looked away, angrily.

There was a throat clearing. Laurence turned.

Yves stood at the flap of the tent. He had a book under one arm. "May I come in," he asked mildly.

"Oh, perfect," Michael snapped. "Please. Come in. On your way, drive one of these axes through me."

Yves moved closer to the other two Archangels, sitting on the ground. "I'm sorry," he said, quietly.

There was a long pause.

"For?" Michael finally asked.

"I tried. I tried my best to explain, to appeal, to... what's your word, Michael? Manipulate? But in the end, she chose her Fate."

Laurence frowned. "She? Who?"

"Lilith." Yves took a deep breath. "You've been critical of me, Michael, but I've always done what I thought best. But sometimes... sometimes, Fate wins over Destiny. She has embraced her Fate."

Michael snorted. "No shit. She joined Hell."

"That was her battlefield. Her war is lost. We must focus on winning ours, and it will be much harder now. Perhaps impossible."

Laurence blinked. "We're winning the War," he started.

"We are gaining ground. We must take all we can, and hold it. We must limit Hell's options as much as possible. And we must work with humanity. We must give them reasons to embrace selflessness. Embrace Destiny." He looks down. "I thought... I could explain it to her. I thought...."

"Thought what?" Michael tried to force himself upright, shaking with the effort. "For once, tell us what you're talking about."

Yves took a long breath. "Nothing is set in the future, Michael. Nothing. There are paths can be taken. Destinies. Fates. Sometimes both. Lilith chose the path of selfishness in the end. And that choice affects the entire Symphony."

"Because... Lilith is Hell's new master?" Laurence sounded incredulous. "Yves, you know I have faith in what you say, but... how can Lilith possibly be so dangerous. I thought it reflected the desperate state of Hell. Now, if Kronos had taken the Granite Throne -- or Baal...."

"Lilith lives within the Symphony, where Baal denies it. Baal could be nothing more than Lucifer, and would have to reach impossible new heights to even equal him. He could, at best, impose his Will on the Symphony. Lilith is woven into the Symphony, and her choices can move the Symphony in ways Lucifer... and we... could not dream of."

Michael frowned. "It's said Kronos is connected to the Symphony. Not that you've ever explained just what Kronos is...."

"Kronos could not rule Hell, any more than I could be the General of the Host. For what it's worth... I'm sorry, Michael." He pressed the book into the wounded Archangel's hands. "Heal quickly, Michael. As quickly as you possibly can."

Laurence took a deep breath. "Then... perhaps... Michael is right. Perhaps Armageddon--"

"We could not start it if we wished to. Baal could not start it if he wished to. That phase of the War is over. The next phase begins now, and we must not let our hubris overshadow our duty." Yves rose, striking a cigarette. "We will speak again, soon."

"You and I?" Michael asked. "Or you and Laurence?"

"For what it's worth, Michael -- well fought. Bravely fought. Your victory was profound." Yves took a long drag off his cigarette. "I only hope... and pray... we can be equal to that example."

The General and the Champion watched Yves leave. The odor of cigarette smoke clung in the tent afterward, mingling with leather, sweat and antiseptic.

Michael looked at the book in his hand, and opened the leather cover, to read the frontspiece. THE WAR OF HEAVEN AND HELL, it read. PART ONE -- The Life and Death of Lucifer. He took a breath, and closed his eyes to rest. And heal. Hopefully.
Just me.

Lilith 2 Prologue Adventure Seeds

PROLOGUE ADVENTURE SEEDS

These seeds take place after the events in http://www.livejournal.com/community/lilith_qoh/3030.html -- you'll probably want to read that first before going on to look at these seeds. Or not. Who am I to judge?


THE DIRTY HALF-DOZEN: Nybbas, Luciferian Prince of the Media, has been tasked with getting a group of servitors into the Far Marches, in order to contact his allies among the August Coprosperity Collective. However, in order to reach the Oriental pantheon, he needs to send Servitors through the Vale -- and the Vale is currently war torn, with active and hot battles taking place between Blandine and Laurence's forces on one side and Beleth and Andrealphus's on the other. Any of these sides would gladly capture or kill the Luciferian party. Even if they make it into the Far Marches, most Hellsworn Ethereals serve Beleth -- and therefore the Lilithian cause. And, of course, there are always the Tsaydim....

PCs can make up the team sent in -- these should be a mixed group from the Media, Dark Humor, the War, the Game, Death, Fire and Factions. (Drugs and Greed are also permitted), with at least one Media Servitor included, as well as at least one Lilim (to seal the deal). They must reach Nybbas's allies, and once there negotiate with the faction to literally arrange terrorist assaults on Hell itself. Naturally, this will be very expensive -- at the *very* least the faction will want a number of Ethereal Tethers currently restricted by Hell to be opened. All these characters must have the appropriate Songs of Dreams or (with justification) the Dream Walking attunement.

PCs can also be one of the assault teams paying the Ethereals' price. There may be any number of missions they are undertaking on the Ethereals' behalf, in order to convince them to launch their attack or live up to their end of the bargain.

PCs can also be either a group of angels or demons fighting the war of the Vale -- if angels, the group should be divided between Servitors of Dreams and the Sword, and should be cooperating moderately well. If demons, the group should be divided between Servitors of Horror and of Lust, and there should be tension between them. For extra fun, a mixed group of angels and demons -- fighting tooth and nail -- can discover the Luciferian incursion together -- will the demons hang together against the angels? Or will angels and demons pledged to each others' destruction unite to drive this third, unstable presence from the Marches?

Finally, PCs can play appropriate Ethereals, tasked by the August Coprosperity Collective to literally infiltrate Lilithian Hell, ingratiate themselves alongside the true tributary Fae being paid to Hell, and beginning a process of systemic terrorism on behalf of the Luciferians. This is highly risky, but also an opportunity to see the Shal Mari of the Queen of Hell firsthand.

QUEEN TO BISHOP'S ROOK TWO: Staciel, Luciferian Demon of Intrigue and Lilim Countess of the Game, is crossing the river Styx -- that is, she is crossing over to the Lilithian side. She is actually being sent by Asmodeus himself. However, no one outside the Luciferian Council of Loyalist Princes knows this....

PCs can be Servitors of the Game, the War or Dark Humor, tasked with helping Staciel make it into Shal Mari so she can claim asylum. However, this has to look authentic, so Luciferians (particularly others of the Game) will be opposing them every step of the way. On the other side, there's no guarantee that the Lilithians will believe Staciel when she claims to be Crossing the River Styx.

PCs can also be Luciferian demons who don't know Staciel is under orders... and so she and her guards are apparently going renegade. (And, of course, Staciel has never been the most popular of demons -- a chance to get vengeance on the Spymistress of Hell and the head of the secret police might be worth making a mistake....)

Finally, PCs can be Lilithians who must decide if Staciel represents an honest defection -- and therefore a tremendous reward for delivering her alive and intact -- or if she is lying (and of course, destroying a Luciferian lieutenant is another route to power and glory.)
Just me.

Lilith Queen of Hell Chapter Two: Prologue

Forty one days from the death of Lucifer, Calibanos, Duke of War, Demon of Firearms fell into Soul Death.

Calibanos was a powerful Calabite, and the most powerful of the Luciferian Word-bound to die up to that point – having been put into trauma in one of the first onslaughts to bolster the Word of the War, Calibanos had been unable to directly bolster his Word. Being a lieutenant to Baal himself, Calibanos was able to avoid the fate of so many Luciferian Word-bound – being cut apart, their Forces added to other failing Luciferians to stave off complete disaster for the Luciferian cause.

But it was all for naught. On day forty-one, Calibanos’s last Celestial Force snuffed out alongside the Word he had possessed, curled around a Heart that flickered and went dark.

Baal, taking a break from directing the Luciferian forces in the civil war for control of Hell, was on hand for the death of his most important lieutenant. He then called a council of the Loyalist Princes together. The Word-bound were almost all gone now, unprecedented numbers of Luciferian demons had defected either to the Lilithian cause or gone fully Renegade, the desperate push to bolster Demonic Words had been successfully met by Heaven and four flights of Malakim were waiting outside the Gates of Hell, hoping that the demonic war machine would grind itself into dust and let Heaven march in and clean up the remains.

It was time for a new strategy. However, the strategy proposed came as something of a surprise even to the Prince of the War himself.

“You want to sacrifice Staciel?” Baal’s voice was sharp, his eyes narrow.

“It is our best play at this time,” Asmodeus replied, mildly. “We’re getting some intelligence from the Lilithian side, but its quality is miniscule and its strategic use limited. If we can move one of our pieces into play – a piece powerful and useful enough that they see too much value in employing it despite its obvious risks – we have the opportunity to begin to influence their strategy from within. Until we can accomplish that, we are merely delaying the inevitable.”

“That’s funny,” Kobal said, leaning back and putting his feet up on the ironwood table. “I could have sworn we’ve all been sacrificing our own Word-bound to keep Staciel in play.”

“Staciel and others,” Asmodeus amended. “Yes. And now it’s time to bring that to use. Hers is the Word of Intrigue. It is almost certain Alaemon will insist she keep it or some variant. She is a Lilim – one I have any number of sworn geases from. And one thing has not changed in this Game – a Lilim can be trusted to keep her Word, when there is a geas involved.”

“It is a bold plan,” Malphas crooned. The red hued distortion shifted, the focus becoming a red pair of human lips. “A decisive stratagem. I am impressed, my friend. However... I would not be a true friend without noting that Lilith and her treasonous dogs will suspect it from the start.”

“Who cares?” Belial snapped, face spasming. His clothing was smoldering – his usually impeccable suit rumpled. He looked strung out. He’d been hearing the voices. “Who cares? We’re wasting time – time. We should be fighting Heaven. Blotting them out! Blotting her out! Don’t you see this is what they want what she wants–”

Babe babe babe babe babe,” Nybbas said, soothingly. Baal’s eyes narrowed as he watched the Impudite’s resonance wash over the Prince of Fire – there was a time when Nybbas wouldn’t have dared try to charm Belial, but the chaos both in Hell and on Earth had been extremely telegenic, and Nybbas’s Word was doing far better than the rest. That made Baal nervous, but he conceded the advantage of having someone control the increasingly unstable Calabite. “We’re going to. We are. But first we need to put our own house in order. That’s what we’re discussing. Just some housekeeping before we strike back at Heaven.”

“Thanks, Pollyanna,” Kobal snapped, sitting back up. “So. We continue to fight the civil war, we continue our increasingly unsuccessful attempts to bolster our failing Words up on Earth, we continue to lose Servitors on multiple fronts, and we put our faith in a Lilim whose very Word implies betrayal. That’s what we’ve got? That’s our big plan?”

“Why don’t we call for peace talks?” Haagenti said, sullenly. “Negotiations. See what we can get out of all this with?

Baal’s eyes narrowed. “Peace talks?” he asked, an undercurrent of danger in his voice.

Haagenti snapped his head back up. “Yes,” he snapped. “Don’t think you can scare me, neither. I wasn’t scared of you when you were hot shit. I sure as shit ain’t scared of you now. Don’t you get it? Our Words are dying. I’m cold all the time. I’m hungrier than ever and I feel nauseous all at once. My guys are being ground into paste and I’ve lost all my Word-bound fighting your war, and we can’t possibly win it. If we go back, in good faith – we can negotiate, get in good under the new order, get our Words fixed, and then–

“I will not bow my knee to a human!” Baal screamed, slamming his fist onto the table with such force that it cracked from one end to the other. “That miserable bitch will not get the satisfaction of my capitulation, and so help me I will carve your fat forces from your body and add them to my own before I allow you to do so!”

Saminga began to laugh. It was the sick laugh of a child. “Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posey,” it mumbled.

“Ashes, ashes, we all fall to ashes,” Belial murmured, his eyes focused on something only he could see.

“Okay, that’s not helping,” Kobal said. “All of you take a breath. Especially you, Boss. We’re not your enemies.”

“I just think–” Haagenti started to say, petulantly.

Shove it, brother,” Kobal snapped at him. Haagenti blinked, his face burning. “This isn’t the time. We’re not throwing in the towel. Not yet, anyway. After all, we’re having so much fun doing this.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “How quickly will Staciel begin to show results? Is she going to assassinate someone? Give us launch codes? What?”

“She will be an agent provocateur, naturally,” Asmodeus said. “That will take some time, but if we–”

“The time is almost up,” Saminga whispered. It was a skeleton now – literally, like six different beasts had given up their bones. With hisses and pops, the bones cracked and spawned new ones as Saminga moved. “All the time is almost up....”

“What about the short term?” Kobal asked. “We need some short term joy.”

“Indeed,” Asmodeus said. “That is Nybbas’s play.”

“Mine?” Nybbas asked. “Whoa whoa whoa, babe. You’re not putting me out front – I might be in better shape than you are but Vapula or fucking Furfur can eat me alive.

“Of course,” Asmodeus said. “I wouldn’t expect you to. However, you have a number of Ethereals at your disposal, yes? Your alliance with various factions within the August Coprosperity Collective?”

Nybbas frowned. “With Beleth still queen bitch in the Marches, it’s tricky....”

“Beleth has enough to deal with between Dreams and the Sword hammering her perimeter,” Asmodeus said. “You should have ample opportunity...”

Nybbas continued frowning, but nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “Done deal.”

“Excellent. There has been significant comings and goings into the Vale in recent weeks. Lilith and Beleth clearly are looking to firm up their hold on the spirits. If you can arrange for terrorist elements to enter Hell with them... sowing havoc and discord and putting Shal Mari on the defensive....”

Baal smiled a bit. “Yessss,” he said, savoring the word. “A few incidents in the cow’s very Capital would be sufficient to shake their faith and unity. With the rabble up in arms and frightened, they will need to reallocate some of their forces, taking the pressure off of ours.”

“We’ll need to work pretty damn quickly,” Kobal said.

“Not a problem,” Nybbas said. “I have just the crew to send. I’ll have a deal within eight hours. It’ll cost us, though. And up front – they won’t accept assurances when they don’t know we’re going to win.”

“We are going to win,” Baal said, through tight lips.

“Yeah. And when we do, we can make them suffer for their lack of faith,” Nybbas answered. “But right now, we look bad on paper.”

“We more than look bad,” Kobal snorted. “Nybbas is right. We all know it. So, are we agreed? We start using Ethereal mercenaries and terrorists behind the lines in Shal Mari, and trust that Staciel will be able to talk them into trusting her?”

Baal looked around. No one looked happy, but no one was speaking up. No one had anything better to offer.

Including Baal himself.

“Done,” he said. “How does she get there? The wards prevent using the Songs of Motion.”

“There are tunnels between the Halls of Loyalty and appropriate locations just outside Shal Mari. She’ll take one of those routes,” Asmodeus said.

“All right. Luck to her.”

Asmodeus smiled a bit more. “Luck to us all, my old friend. Luck to us all.”

Just me.

Lilith 1 Interlude: Brutal Truth

The suit was charcoal grey, with blood red pinstripes, so thin as to be almost invisible. Its creases were sharp enough to cut skin. His tie was silk and blood red, with grey stripes edged on either side with burnished gold thread. In his breast pocket was a blood red silk handkerchief. His hair was long, but styled carefully. His beard was close trimmed along his jaw. His red skin almost gleamed with gold undertones. His horns were burnished steel, and sharpened to razor points.

Roghi couldn't believe he was looking at the same Demon Prince he had been following since his sudden accession in 1997. Prince Furfur was nodding to the Lilim and Impudites in the nightclub. The music was passionate but hardly hardcore, even as Prince Furfur climbed the circular stairs up to the rooms he had claimed in the building. Roghi followed, quietly.

The Prince looked around the rooms. They were tastefully appointed -- Impudites of Destruction -- generally recruited from the War's deserters who Furfur had accepted -- had decorated. "Not bad," he said. "Not bad at all. Not gaudy, the way Belial's used to me, do you think?"

"It's much more... subdued, Lord Furfur," Roghi murmured.

"Prince Furfur," the Prince said sharply. "Our Majesty has decreed that it is not fit to use 'Lord' in place of 'Prince.' It distracts from the order of things. Anyone can be someone's lord."

"My apologies, Prince Furfur."

The Prince glanced back, eyes narrow. "Do I detect a hint of dissatisfaction, Roghi?

Roghi looked down. "Why should I ever be dissatisfied with my Prince, Highness?"

Prince Furfur snorted. "Look at me, Roghi."

The Balseraph looked up at his Prince.

"When did you enter my service?"

"I was the first you accepted from Belial's service to your own, Highness."

"That's right. You're my oldest Servitor. With my Promotion, I've made you a Count. I'm thinking it's time you have a Word. So if you've got some kind of problem with me, I think probably it's best to hear it right now."

Roghi looked away. "This place isn't exactly Hardcore, Highness."

Prince Furfur laughed. "In case you hadn't noticed, neither am I, Roghi."

"I've noticed, Highness."

Prince Furfur's voice dipped slightly in tone. "Meaning what?"

"Meaning you're dressed like a fucking Impudite dressed you. Respectfully. Meaning you're just... accepting. Accepting authority. Giving in. Selling out."

Prince Furfur's face twisted into a smile. "Selling out?"

"Well... yes. You've bought in. 'The Order of Things.' 'Our Majesty doesn't approve of 'Lord.' Taking a fucking Techno club as one of your new residences. Hardcore stood for something in Hell, Highness. You didn't have many Servitors, and Christ knows they weren't pretty, but they had a loyalty to you and your cause that no other Prince could boast."

Prince Furfur shrugged. "And after I got taken in and Word-promoted, they came along with. You came along with. You saying I didn't take care of my own?"

Roghi snorted. "Over ninety percent of the former Hardcore Servitors are in the forward legions fighting Fire, Death and the War in Sheol and Abaddon. They're getting chewed into fucking hamburger."

Prince Furfur arched an eyebrow, and turned towards his desk. "They're the best we have."

"Bullshit."

Prince Furfur paused, and turned to face his Count again. "Excuse me?"

"You've gotten the absolute cream of the militant defectors. Lilith's tits -- they've--"

"Don't blaspheme against the Queen," Prince Furfur said, very quietly. A shiver went down Roghi's spine.

"Sorry... Highness." He looked away. "You've got badasses from Death, Fire, Gluttony, the War, the Game...." he shook his head. "The other Princes in the Queen's Court aren't violent concepts, Highness. You've got the destroyers. You've got them in droves. And a lot of the defectors are way older and stronger than the Hardcore demons who stuck with you. You're repaying their loyalty with--"

"Destruction?" Prince Furfur asked, softly.

Roghi looked away.

Prince Furfur walked closer. "Yes, Roghi. I'm throwing them right into cannon fire. Yes, most of them are going to be soul killed. I need to send someone to die while the Civil War continues, and to be honest they're an embarrassment."

"An... embarrassment? Highness?"

"They tore into Shal Mari like a hurricane after I switched sides -- convinced it was going to be one big fucking party," the Prince said. "The old organization needed to be destroyed, so I could reforge the fragments into something better. It's what I am, Roghi. The Civil War will beat some couth into the survivors, and I'll make them into honored Destruction Servitors. And the rest will scatter on Gehenna's winds."

"They believed in you, Highness," Roghi whispered. He didn't say 'I believed in you.' He didn't need to.

"That's their own lookout. I didn't even ask Lucifer to be the Prince of Hardcore. I asked for Rock and Roll. I wanted to make something of myself beyond mosh pits and barbed wire wrestling matches. He kept me down. The Queen has exalted me, Roghi. Hell, I'm Eli's opposition now. I need something more than gang bangers and metalheads setting fire to the drapes. You got me?"

Roghi paused, and nodded. "Of course, Lord."

"Prince."

"Prince."

Prince Furfur nodded slightly. He smiled a bit. "That took balls, Roghi. You challenging me like that. You demanding of me, like that."

Roghi took a deep breath. "Hardcore's highest rule was to tell the brutal truth, Highness. No matter the consequences."

"I know." Prince Furfur smiled a bit more, and leaned forward. "And do you know what that means?"

Roghi arched an eyebrow. "What, my Prince."

Prince Furfur's expression didn't change at all, even as a shudder went over Roghi's body. The Baseraph twisted, as suddenly his scales and wings began to prickle, and tingle, and hurt. By the time the Count had started screaming, his Forces had already started to burn and combust and shred. By the time his scream's echoes had died out, there was literally no sign the Balseraph had ever existed.

"It means you just didn't learn in time," the Prince whispered. He turned away, the scent of brimstone and cooked meat in the air, and picked up the telephone on his desk. He pushed a button on it. "Tefia? I need a new aide sent up. Someone formerly from the War, please. And have him bring up a martini -- I think this is going to be a good night."
Just me.

Lilith 1 Interlude: The Sacrifice of Bishops

His name was Baljean, ironically enough. And that was the point, after all. Mockery had been named Balnovalis and she had been a powerful, robust, beautiful Calabite, cutting into her opponents with a caustic wit as incisive as her very resonance. She had worn tattered hippy clothes and a beautiful, overly lush vessel, and delighted in violence of phrase and form. Satire had been Baleli, the Balseraph. He subverted creation with every word and phrase, making the most earnest of artistic works into the most mean spirited of satires. And Baljean was Irony, the Impudite. The one who delighted in the disjunction between intent and result, over and over, who took the most meticulous of plans and helped arrange darkly humorous results.

Balnovalis had died first, strengthening Dark Humor in the face of the degradation of the Words granted by Lucifer. She had been caught and soul-killed, though she took six Malakim with her, they said, and made another five cry. No doubt the tears had been more satisfying to her before her death. Baleli had been next. He had attempted to stage a massive, multi-city satirical project mocking the failed attempts to rescue a group of schoolchildren lost in a forest fire -- itself started by Belial's Servitors in an effort to bolster their Prince's Word. However, the public had been outraged instead of darkly amused -- in these days of disaster and triumph, people weren't ready to laugh at the efforts of firemen and forest rangers dying trying to save children. That had actually hurt Baleli's Word even more than the degradation, and Baleli had souldied four days before, helpless and weak.

So ironically, of the three most powerful Word-bound of Kobal, Prince of Dark Humor, Irony himself was the one to survive the longest. His Word had lost almost all its power within him, and his thoughts, his form, his very soul had been wasting away, tethered inexorably to a concept that was losing focus on the world in the wake of Lucifer's passing.

He had sacrificed the last of his corporeality earlier that day. Sacrificed because he had to sacrifice something to keep his Word from failing entirely, and he needed his mind and what was left of his Soul. Now, he was weaker than most demons sent to Earth.

Baljean was normally as cynical as any demon of Dark Humor, but he still held out hope. There was every chance that failures on the parts of other Luciferian Princes or their Servitors would fuel the Word of Irony. Even the Angels were doing everything in their power to keep Baljean's Word strong. They positively delighted in ironic endings to Infernal schemes. So, he had been lying low. No need to call too much attention to himself. Not when he had no Corporeal Forces left, and frighteningly few Celestial ones. Not when he had no abilities associated with his Word, and all too many enemies....

Oh Baljeaaaaan... dear Baljeaaaan... do be a fine fellow and come see me in Strategic Command, won't you? That's a good fellow. There's a War on, you know!


Baljean shivered, and closed his eyes. Even now... even today, when Kobal spoke, he had to obey.




She leaned over the basin and threw up, the mottled green skin of her forearms trembling as the muscles underneath tried to hold her steady. After the heaves passed, she found herself staring at the intricate tattoos that had not yet faded on that arm. They looked like letters. The angry scrawls one made in their diary after seeing their boyfriend kissing some slut Freshman near the gym door. They were also green, but darker green than her skin, so they showed up. Vathek, she thought. All that is left of Vathek. But that was a lie. The moment she thought it, a cascade of half-remembered images and nightmares coursed through her brain... what Vathek had managed to retain until the end. What Vathek held close.

She fell back onto the low bed. She had to get control. She wouldn't be useful to the Director if she couldn't keep control, and the moment she stopped being useful she would become grist for some other mill. She rubbed her stomach through her grey dress, using her left hand. Her long, jagged nails scratched as she rubbed. She wasn't used to those either. Those reflected what was left of Mot. Under her hand, she felt something... fur, maybe? Slowly sinking into her skin, with some kind of Shedite ooze still playing there.

She shuddered. Thinking of the shedim was a mistake -- that called up too many memories born of those abominations... Jurgin's self-indulgent orgies of consumption intermingled with the alien horrors that had roiled through its thoughts....

She rolled back to the basin, vomiting once more. As her entire body tried to expel its guts through her mouth, she caught sight of her coat... the black chesspiece on it. The tall tower, with the feminine crown....

She shivered again, and threw up more. And as she did, she felt what was left of her Word tremble, another Luciferian Force primed to fail. She focused, and forced one of the corporeals to go. One of the grafts? One of her own precious Forces? She no longer had any idea.




He made his way out of the bunker, and started along the broken path on Gehenna's blasted plain. It was humiliating for Dark Humor to be relegated to this pestilent crucible, but Shal Mari was now firmly in the hands of the Lilithian Court and Hades was a battleground, so they went where they could survive, for now.

"Why... I spy with my little eye someone who begins with I," he heard off to the side, as he walking along the fetid shores of Lake Phlegyas. Baljean glanced and grimaced. A small pack of Jesters were standing close to the boiling blood of the lake, fishing. Of course they were fishing. Fishing Lake Phlegyas was funny... the first thousand times Baljean had seen it. Now it was just sad. These were nobodies. Nothings on the ladder to Kobal. Not even important enough to be sent as cannon fodder in attempts to bolster Kobal's Word or fight on the lines in Hell's civil war. Baljean barely recognized them.

But they recognized him. Oh yes. One of the Council of Seven of Kobal -- four Dukes, Mockery, Satire and Irony. A council of five, now.... and Baljean himself was hardly a member. He was no longer of Hell's Elite. He was no longer of any use.

"Good eye," Baljean said. "Really good eye. I should mention that up the line. Why, a man like you? You're going places. Say, to the forward observation posts. You can put those eyes to good use scouting out Destruction Servitors as they cross over from Sheol. Right out front. Wouldn't that be fun?"

"Someone think's he's still hot shit," another of the Jesters -- a burly Djinn who looked like a cross between an oversized spider monkey and a plucked rooster -- snorted. "Someone thinks we're gonna be scared of the big bad Word-bound."

"Here's irony," the first -- a Balseraph -- said, slithering up, the others following. "We get a chance to beat the shit out of one of Kobal's Inner Circle."

"Ah ah ah," Baljean said, backing slowly away, hands before him. "That's Prince Kobal. You never know when he might be standing right behind you, after all."

"That'd put him in the boiling lake," a third -- a Calabite -- laughed. "You think anyone'd be standing in there if they didn't have to?"

"S'like raiiin... on your wedding day," the Djinn began intoning, in rhythm and tune without inflection. "S'like a free lunch... when you've already paid...."

"Don't fucking tell me I have to listen to that song while you kill me, guys," Baljean said, a smile still playing on his lips.

"Ironic, isn't it?" the Balseraph asked, cocking back his tail, ready to strike--

A jagged whip, steaming with still boiling blood, sliced through the air and tore across the Balseraph's wings, tearing gaps in them. By the time the Calabite turned, the whip had torn into her own wings and across her skin, the figure standing in the lake up to her naked thighs grinning savagely. Her skin was an overlay of jumbles of letters and numbers, otherwise naked, aggressively sexual as she swung the whip back and tore into two demons at once with it.

Baljean pulled his own knife and leapt forward, driving it down into one of the Balseraph's six eyes. "No," he hissed. "It's not ironic. If you're gonna use the fucking word, learn the fucking word!"

The Habbalite strode forward. She whipped the whip around and back, entangling the Djinn and yanking, causing the demon to be thrown screaming into the boiling lake. She ripped the whip free of him and struck at another, bristling with a power the jester pack couldn't begin to compete with. "What's the matter, boys" she hissed. "Don't you think it's funny?"

Baljean ripped his knife free from the Balseraph's eye, and slashed to the other side, catching the Calabite in the arm as she tried to flee the Habbalite. "Oh, come on," he said with a grin. "Is that any way to treat the Duchess Panera?"

"Pandara" the Habbalite hissed, swinging the barbed whip around and snapping it into the Calabite, just in front of Baljean's face.

"No bread tonight," Baljean muttered, even as Pandara reached the torn and bleeding Jesters. She took a few moments to hurl them, one at a time, into Lake Phlegyas. Their screams filled the air like a twisted chorus.

Baljean lifted a hand to stop Pandara, before she threw the Balseraph. "Hang on a sec," he said.

"Make it quick, Irony," Pandara hissed, eyes as sharp as the barbs on her whip.

"I will. Go... I dunno. Slip into something skimpy with spikes on it." He knelt, next to where the Balseraph lay, bleeding and torn. "Hey, buddy. Word of advice, from me to you?"

The Balseraph looked up, shuddering. "I was on your side," he croaked, and Baljean had to steel himself against the Balseraph's resonance. "I was luring the others into--"

"Save it. The advice is this." He leaned close. "When a Kobalite of experience warns you there's something behind you? That means there actually is something behind you. The joke is to convince you there isn't while telling you the truth."

The Balseraph stared with five good eyes, all burning with hatred.

"And for the record, you getting torn up and thrown into a lake of boiling blood when you were going to kick my ass? That's irony." He stood, and nodded to Pandara, who yanked the Balseraph up, then pushed him hard, down into the churning cruor.

"So what the Hell were you doing swimming in Lake Phlegyas?" Baljean asked quietly, with a slight grin.

Pandara smiled slightly herself. "Driving the Warfucks nuts. They throw their bad troops in there, to punish them. I find it... refreshing to show those pathetic wormlings that a Dark Humor angel can willingly endure what they would do anything to avoid." She looked back at Baljean. "It makes me laugh."

"And you're telling me you just happened to be taking a swim right now?"

"I was sent to make sure you survived to reach Command. Clearly, Lord Kobal is wise, because you wouldn't have."

Baljean shrugged, what he hoped was an endearing smile on his face. "I've always been more of a talker--"

His breath was choked off as Pandara's fist shot out, closing around his throat and lifting him into the air. "Don't," she hissed. "You're weak, Irony. Once upon a time you were worthy to stand in my presence. That time has ended. You couldn't even cow that pack of worthless smegma. I have to bring you to our Prince. Don't make me rethink how many pieces you'll be in when we get there."

Baljean coughed, and nodded. She was right. He was literally less than nothing in her hand. His impotent Word didn't do anything but make him more of a target. As an un-WordBound Duke, still at the height of her power, Pandara could kill him in seconds, now.

Pandara threw him to the side, causing him to skid next to the shore. He could feel the heat from the gore in front of him, and managed to push back before he got burnt. Quite a ways deeper into it, he saw his erstwhile attackers writhing and struggling to swim forward, out of it. That was made harder by the boiling blood searing their eyes, of course.

Baljean pushed himself to his feet. He saw Pandara striding away, and he took to the air for a short hop -- without any Corporeal Forces, he didn't have the endurance for more -- until he was somewhat behind her on the trail. Keeping back a bit. Obsequious. It had been several centuries, but he still knew the drill.

He remembered, once they were lovers. He was significantly stronger than she was, then -- nearly the same power in raw Forces, bolstered by his Word. He forced her to knuckle under, and she loved it.

Which meant this was all ironic. Funny how Baljean's own situation kept ending up that way these days.

At least Kobal still wanted to see him. At least he still had that going for him.




Hades was 'contested,' as the Lilithian Demons of Intelligence and Fate worked their way into the byzantine city. The Palace had been compromised early, and Director Asmodeus had relocated himself and select records to Gehenna. The Halls of Loyalty were still firmly in the hands of the Game, however, and the Soul Yards were a place of truce, as the Game, Fate and Intelligence -- none too happily -- divided newly processed souls as efficiently as the civil war would allow. The multiple flights of Malakim waiting poised outside the Gates alone meant a truce would have to hold.

The Halls of Loyalty were her domain, as they always had been She wore a much more concealing grey dress than usual, with a high waisted, long sleeved grey uniform coat, and higher boots. And black gloves -- the same black leather as the black queen symbol on her coat's sleeve. Grey and black chesspieces were the symbols of the public face of the secret police.

Her domain. Her face was impassive, and showed no marks. She always made sure of that, with the appropriate applications of Song.

"Good morning," she said, though there was no morning or night in Hell. "My apologies for the delay. The tunnel traffic between the Hall and Gehenna were significantly clogged today."

There were several murmurs and greetings through the room. She sat in the high backed chair in front of the Primary Board. "Report," she said crisply, looking at how the pieces had been moved since the previous night. The rules of movement, of placement, and of correspondence were developed over centuries of refinement. This one small section of the Game operated at a high level of efficiency, even now.

"We have begun to get more reliable indicators from Shal Mari and Tartarus, Countess," one of her lieutenants, who wore a black rook, said. He was a solid and dispassionate Djinn, resembling an insect and a shark, in ways. He was one of the few not to have been recently promoted to his position -- he had been lucky enough not to have his Word sponsorship go through before the death of Lucifer.

Lucky not to have been given a Word, she thought, suddenly. The Haves and Have Nots divided. She felt the flush of pleasure from somewhere -- the twisting, delicious taste of factionalization turned upside down. That Habbalite? Or the Balseraph? Or....

"Countess?" the Djinn asked, mildly. "Are you well?"

She shuddered, visibly, but then dropped her mask into place. "None of us are well, Baron," she replied. "The nature of Word-loss ensures that." That was it -- distract him with an unusual admission of weakness, without letting him see what the real concern was. That was puzzling, almost. Could that be some Secrets Servitor within her now? Worked into the patchwork Lilim, echoing the joy of half-truth he once felt, before he was captured before he could Cross the River Styx, as they say."

The Djinn showed no reaction. He played the Game well, naturally. "Of course, he said."

"Before we move on with reports, there is a new directive," she said, leaning forward and asserting control once more. "The directive to refer to the opposition as the Pretenders and the ban on using the adjective Luciferian has been lifted. The opposition is now to be officially called Lilithian, and we Luciferian."

"Countess?" a Shedite she had known for years asked. It was a bishop, called Stthex. Just seeing it was an echo of Shedite thoughts in her head, and she forced herself to stay relaxed. "May I ask...."

"You may. This is part of an effort to bolster the Word of Factions. We are to be the disseminators of several efforts to bolster major Words in Hell." She didn't add that the secret police was being used to those ends to bolster not only the Game but Intrigue. "In fact, I want you to move into the field, Stthex -- there are a number of secret directives we need moved into Shal Mari itself, and to my knowledge you are our best operative for contacting our cells there."

Stthex paused. "You want me to travel to Shal Mari?" it asked. "Would that not place operational status at some risk? I am not as adept at stealth as--"

"You have the authority to convince, and the presence to inspire some... wavering... operatives that it is in their best interests to remain loyal." She removed a packet of papers from her portfolio and handed it to the Shedite. "I look forward to debriefing you when you return, Captain."

"Of course, Countess," Stthex said, slightly sibilantly. Its roiling mass was pale grey today, and seemed to consist mostly of tongue and teeth, so it was lisping slightly. "By your leave?"

"Granted. Safe hunting."

The assembled secret police watched Stthex leave, the door closing and the seals returning afterward.

"Countess," her rook said. "I believe we have some area of concern. Stthex...."

"Stthex will be attempting to cross the River Styx and join Intelligence or Fate," she said, smoothly. "Yes."

The Djinn arched an eyebrow.

"We want the information it is carrying to be leaked to the Lilithians," she said smoothly. I'm afraid Stthex will prove to be too much of a danger to them, and will be destroyed. We have made certain arrangements that will ensure it does not enter a trustworthy stat among the Lilithians."

"But, Countess..." one of the aides -- still a pawn -- said, curious. "He was a bishop. Surely..."

"Sometimes, one must sacrifice bishops if one is to control the outcome of the Game," she said, smoothly. She felt a moment's revulsion at waste -- the taste of some Impudite, perhaps? An echo of some now-dead spymaster? It was harder to distinguish them. She told herself she was simply assimilating the disparate pieces. She told herself the reverse wasn't true.




The chambers of Command -- what had once been Lord General Baal's Fortress, and now served as the headquarters for both the civil war in Hell and the continued efforts to strengthen and bolster the Luciferian Princes and what Word-bound they had left -- were dark and foreboding. The dull glint of steel and chain. The flat grey and black of marble and basalt. The flicker of torchlight. Baljean entered from the back on one audience chamber, having been led there and left there by Pandara.

He stepped inside. The audience chamber was darker than normal. To one side, he saw implements of torture, freshly used. To another he saw a long table, with few chairs. He looked around, peering in the gloom. "M'lord Kobal?" he asked, searching.

The voice in answer was a resonant baritone, singing not in Helltongue but in English. The song was perfectly controlled, with the precision of a ticking watch or the sliding of a tin soldier on a mat. "And now... at last... we see each other plain..." the voice said, it's owner stepping around one of the high backed chairs. "Monsieur L'Ironie... you'll wear a different chain...."

Baljean blinked, shocked. He swiftly bowed. "Lord Asmodeus," he half-whispered. "A thousand pardons, Lord. I was told that my Lord Kobal would be waiting here for me. My intrusion--"

"You were told correctly, Irony," Asmodeus said, slowly walking forward. He was deceptively small -- less than an inch taller than Baljean, who wasn't that tall for a demon to begin with. "Baljean," he said, as if tasting the name. He spoke it as a human might, with the n silent. "Jean Baljean. I don't believe I've mentioned how much I appreciate the pun, Kobal."

"You're kind, Azzie," Lord Kobal himself answered, stepping out of the gloom. Baljean felt a sudden rush of hope. He was supposed to be here. Perhaps they had some plan... "Entirely too kind. Hello, Bal-jeannie. You're looking a bit gaunt. Insubstantial, even."

"I... lost my last Corporeal Force today," Baljean said, carefully. "I felt it more important to preserve my Ethereal and Celestial Forces, given the erudite nature of--"

"Save the big words for your host, here, son." He walked over, clapping Baljean on the back lightly, just off the wing. The glancing strike on the wing hurt, and Baljean couldn't help but wince. "He has a plan for you."

"For... me?" he asked.

"Yeah. You're going to help him out."

"How, Lord Kobal?"

Asmodeus's smile didn't change even slightly. "You're going to die," he said.




She received the message about mid-day. The Director wanted to see her, in the Eastern Chambers. Again.

She managed not to shiver until she was in the tunnel, walking for Gehenna once more. Even then, no one who saw her would believe she was shivering.




Baljean was chained to the table with care. He found himself... curiously detatched. "You need me to die," he said. His first words after the begging he had done some twenty minutes before.

"That's correct," Asmodeus said, tightening the manacle. "Stars... in your multitudes," he sang lightly, as he worked. "Scare to be counted.... filling the darkness... with order and light...."

"I haven't done anything wrong. Have I?" Baljean's voice was oddly calm.

"Mm? No. You have been loyal. 'You are the sentinels... silent and sure... keeping watch in the night... keeping watch in the night...'" Asmodeus finished affixing the chains, and stepped back to look.

"It's my Forces," Baljean said, quietly. "You know I have only a week left at the most before my Word drags me into soul death."

"Yes. You are no longer an asset," Asmodeus said, in that same light tone. "However, you could have your remaining Forces removed from you, divorcing them from your Word, and applied to a more valuable asset. In that way, we conserve some of our Word-bound and make the loss of others more meaningful." Asmodeus drew a small, hooked knife out of his robes, and began cutting away Baljean's clothing. Baljean breathed in sharply, watching.

"Why not me?" Baljean asked, looking at Kobal. "Why not preserve me? Why kill me to preserve someone else?"

Kobal shrugged, slipping out a cigarette. "Look, kid, I like you. I always did. You did good work. But it'd take too much to save you, and your strategic worth is limited. I mean, honestly. Irony? Worked great for the long haul and for the minutes in between the firefights, but we're in the firefight now." He lit the cigarette and took a long drag, then blew the smoke out. "Want a puff?"

"Yeah," Baljean said. And despite himself, he began to laugh.

Asmodeus, still cutting away Baljean's pants like he were filleting meat, arched an eyebrow. "Something's funny, Baljean?"

"Yeah." Baljean paused to suck on the offered cigarette. "Yeah. See, when I got the call from Kobal--"

"Just 'Kobal?'" Asmodeus asked, just as mildly as before. The voice of inquisition to the last.

"Hell yeah, just Kobal. No sense being obsequent now. I'm gonna die either way. Anyway, when I got the call from Kobal to come here, I got excited. Even now, I was still useful. He wanted *me.* And then he sent Pandara to make sure I made it, and I knew I was useful. I had confidence." He smiled a bit more.

"But Baljean -- you *are* useful," Kobal said, smiling a bit. He got the joke.

"Yeah -- dead." Baljean looked up at Asmodeus. "Don't you see? It's ironic."

Asmodeus's face quirked into a slightly larger smile. "So it is," he said, and leaned down and began to cut.




The guards let her in through the tunnel gate. Djinn of the War, both of them. Traditionally, this tunnel had been guarded by the Game, since traditionally the War didn't even know about it.

Many traditions had recently changed.

She climbed the low stairs into the back hall, then stepped out onto the basalt field, looking over to the dull metal fortress that was now Command for the Luciferian Princes. Hot air blew through her hair, the ever-present roof of Hell glowing a dull orange-red over Gehenna's plains. It always seemed odd to her, given the shadow-greyness of the roof over Hades.

She made her way along the path, slowly. Echoes of other walks, in other skins played themselves through her head. Bits and pieces and fragments -- not only what they saw, but what they knew, what they believed. And she with her own thoughts subsuming the others, or being subsumed...

I am become Intrigue itself, she thought, stepping up the iron stairs to the Hind Gate.




The pain was horrific, but oddly, Baljean didn't focus first on it. He focused on memory. On the memory of a human. Her name was Jennifer, and she had loved him. He cultivated her and drank her Essence for months and years, and shaded and shaped her. She gave and gave to him, and when she died, it was both funny and ironic, so he wasn't dissonant. Baljean remembered her, he held that memory close...

The knife cut into his celestial flesh... into his being... and neatly sliced with a blinding, searing pain, and Baljean watched as Asmodeus stood, cradling something in his hand, and did not remember the name of the human he once... had.... No. No, it was gone. It was gone and left him with so much less, so much fewer... and Asmodeus cut again... his youth, his Fall, his slow climb, his sense of black humor... each left with a slice of the knife, Baljean's very mind sinking into hideous pain, into hideous darkness... slice after slice after slice...

And then there was one more touching of the knife to the Impudite's skin. I am Baljean, he thought, terrified. He did not know the Superior standing over him. He did not know why these horrible things were happening to him. He did not know Lucifer, much less that he was dead. He did not know anything except that he was Baljean... and he was Irony.

And then Asmodeus sliced, and the beast left on the table knew nothing at all. He perceived the blinding pain and so clearly saw the hooked knife, but he could not vocalize his rage or pain beyond a howl of anger. Asmodeus leaned down and took the first of the two celestial forces... putting out the beast's eye and terrifying it... and then he cut one more time, and there was nothing left to cut.

"Jesus, that's creepy," Kobal said, still puffing on his cigarette. "Why not just disassemble him all at once? It'd be faster."

"I need the forces easy to graft," Asmodeus said, still lightly, placing the steaming celestial meat that had once been the Demon of Irony into an iron box. "Would you care to come along?'

"No thanks. I'll wait in the Hall. I prefer to think of Staciel unblemished, thank you."

Asmodeus snorted. "Sentimental garbage."

"Yeah, well, don't forget -- it was my aide-de-camp you just sliced up to preserve your aide-de-camp," Kobal said, following. "So I'm feeling pretty sentimental myself, right now."

"It made sense. There are few Word-bound left, and they're dying. And you have four Dukes to act as your muscle and advisors. That should be enough for anyone." He walked along the hallway.

"Bullshit. You needed to keep the Word of Intrigue as healthy as possible. So Staciel sacrifices her own Forces and gets grafts from other demons. You're out of the crappy Word-bound no one gives a shit about, so now you have to deal. That's the way this game is played, right?"

"I didn't know you cared," Asmodeus said, his voice just as light.

"Hey, he was my high priest. My spiritual advisor. Mockery was my attack dog. Satire was my secular side. But Irony was my raison d'etre. The creamy center in my soul of souls. My high priest."

Asmodeus half-smiled. "You'll just have to be your own bishop now. Though if you need a confessor, I'm sure I could make the time. You won't mind if I take notes, I trust?"

"Do what you like." Kobal stopped as they reached the room. Inside, he could see Staciel lying on a table. She had undressed, and was stoically staring at the ceiling. Her green skin was lined with stitches and the physical remnants of demons now soul-dead -- the tattoos of Habbalah and the leathery skin of Calabim and Balseraphs shifting with the fluidity of Shedim and the sheerly alien bits of Djinn here and there. He stared a moment, not caring if the Demon of Intrigue saw him staring or not. "Hey, a little Impudite's just what she needed to spiff her back up. Or is she going for a kind of personal fung shui?"

"Her appearance is not relevant to the task at hand, Dark Humor. Is there anything else, or can I get to work?"

"Nah, go ahead. Only...."

"Yes?"

Kobal leaned closer. "In a few days -- a few days -- we're going to be out of any Word-bound we didn't patch up like this. To keep them around, we'll have to start cutting up our regular Servitors. And then we'll have to start cutting them all up to add to ourselves. There are fucking Malakim at our gates just waiting for a collapse and fewer troops to keep Lilith away. There's no way can win. How long do we keep playing this game?"

Asmodeus's slight smile never wavered at all. "Until we finish this hand and a new one is dealt, Kobal." He stepped into the room. Kobal saw Staciel stiffen despite herself.

Kobal dropped his cigarette on the floor and crushed it, then slipped another one out and lit it. "I'm gonna have that fucking song in my head all day now," he muttered, and headed down the hall.
Just me.

Beleth: Lilithian Princess of Horror

Beleth: Lilithian Princess of Horror

The world is terrifying. It claws at every one of us and forces us into paranoia -- we fight the world and we hide from the world, and in the end the world *always* wins.

***

I understand fear. I know its taste. I know its cold hunger. I understand what fear can do. I know the shape of it.

And I knew, with the Word of Nightmares dying in my breast and the Malakim of Dreams and the Sword pressing the borders of my part of the vale, just how potent fear could be.

I tried to pretend I didn't care, but I did. I was terrified. Lucifer -- my dear, sweet Lucifer -- was dead. Butchered by a madman with an axe. My Word -- my *Word* -- was following him into death. My most effective Servitors were faltering the same as I? And the Malakim -- the Malakim kept coming and coming and *coming!*

I understand fear. But even then I did not let it rule me. When our new *Queen* came, and offered me stability, power -- and the capacity to turn the Malakim back from my gates -- I didn't lap it up like an abused dog drinking brackish water. I told her what *I* wanted. I told her what *I* needed. And she agreed. I give her my loyalty -- and it is total -- and I give her everything she wants. And I in turn got what I wanted, as well as what I needed. And what that is is not for the ears of one such as *you.*

I hate her. I hate her with all the passion I loved Lucifer. I hate the pathetic, broken *Impudite* she has forced upon me. I hate the Lust demons that die to defend my side of the Marches. I hate the way they *color* the dreams of man, now. I *hate* her.

But she knows I will never -- *ever* betray her.

I am scared of her. And she knows it. And I know it.

And I understand fear.

Go away, or you will learn fear of your own. A fear you can *never* awaken from.

***

Beleth has been significantly Word promoted, as Nightmares gives way to Horror. Before, she had encompassed Horror through Nightmares, of course, but Horror had always been filtered through the metaphoric power of Nightmares -- through the dark side of dreams. Now, her Word directly connects to fear on every level and in every situation, with Nightmares just one aspect of her scope.

She hates this, passionately. She wants nothing more than to sit in her Tower opposing Blandine in a dance of pain and death and war. To move her operations largely into the Corporeal World is almost a betrayal of everything she joined Lucifer for in the first place.

But she was too frightened of what was happening *without* Lilith. So she agreed to Lilith's terms -- no one knows what the bargain they struck was -- and now she fully accepts Lilith's authority. Beleth may hate Lilith, her allies and her very Word, but she is absolutely loyal to all of them.

Beleth's operations since accepting Lilith's bargain have been mostly devoted to driving the Angels out of her side of the Vale and setting an appropriate guard. To her anger and humiliation, the broken Andrealphus has been set as her ally in this endeavor -- to the point that Beleth has been instructed to grant her Dream Walking attunement (IN p.165) to any Servitor of Lust Andrealphus designates. Further, Lilith has made it clear that she wants Lust to infect the dreams of mortals as well... and Beleth has noticed more and more Lustful dreams are ending up on *her* side of the Vale, now, where before they were always Blandine's to 'enjoy.' Otherwise, she has begun to extend herself into the World, careful not to step on the desperate Luciferian attempts to bolster the dying Luciferian Words. One area she was quick to grab dominion over was Terror -- she petitioned Lilith to grant that subordinate word to Secrya, one of her Habbalah, firmly placing Terror under Beleth's control. From there, Beleth sponsored one of her strongest Calabim -- Presharth -- as the new Lilithian Demon of Terrorism, subordinate to Secrya who herself is subordinate to Beleth. In this way, Beleth has *firmly* taken hold of a very corporal Horror -- and set herself in opposition to Baal, whose Luciferian Word had been directly fueled by Terrorism for a long time.

Servitors of Terror find themselves in two camps, mostly. Those former Nightmares Servitors who survived (and didn't defect) have found themselves rewarded and given great focus in the Marches -- though forced to work with *Andrealphans,* which they despise -- while most of the demons who defect from Luciferian Princes -- especially Belialites, Nybbites, Baalites and Death Servitors -- are being made into Beleth's Corporeal force. There is a certain amount of friction between the two camps.

***

DISSONANCE

Nowhere is the difference between the Luciferian Princess of Nightmares and the Lilithian Princess of Horror more apparent than in Beleth's dissonance conditions. Where once Beleth's Servitors gained Dissonance by assuming celestial form on Earth (in echo of Blandine's own dissonance conditions), now they are prohibited from ever providing human beings relief from fear. Even when forced to withdraw, Belethians are enjoined to make certain human beings know it's just for a short time -- that there is no escape from fear. The only exception is when Beleth's servitors are lulling a human into a false sense of security, only to then tear that security away from them -- an effective but dangerous ploy, since if their project is interrupted the Horror demon will become dissonant.

BAND ATTUNEMENTS

BALSERAPHS (Restricted): The Liars of Horror are used to spread fear without reason. Their resonance is unchanged from the original. (IN Core Rules p.164)

DJINN (Restricted): Beleth's Djinn are still tasked with physically terrorizing or stalking people, but their methods have changed. While some still use Dream Walking to terrorize them in dreams, their resonance now allows them to sense what steps their attuned have taken to protect themselves from the Djinn or other stalkers and intruders. The Djinn will know if their target has their locks or phone numbers changed, if they have friends staying with them, a cell phone with 911 speed dialed -- anything. Of course, they don't instantly know how to defeat these preventative measures.

CALABIM: Sadists all, Beleth's Calabim receive the same attunement they always have. (IN Core Rules p.165)

HABBALAH (restricted): Beleth's Habbalah are her vanguard in the war against courage, be that the courage to stand up to impossible odds, or the courage to hold to one's hope or beliefs in the face of despair. When confronted with someone who (in the GM's opinion) is acting bravely in the situation, Beleth's Habbalah get a bonus to their resonance rolls equal to their celestial forces in inflicing Cowardice to replace it. For a number of hours equal to the resonance roll's check digit, the new Coward will do everything in his power to flee the situation he was acting so bravely in before -- be that physical flight, emotional withdrawal, or even attacking his allies. The target may not even make Will rolls to stand his ground. If cornered and forced to fight, the target will suffer a penalty equal to the check digit on all rolls due to his utter lack of focus and overwhelming desire to escape. This is a powerful attunement, but comes with a powerful drawback -- if a Habbalite's Cowardice attempt backfires (as per IN Core Rules p.147), he suffers the same as if Emptiness backfired instead of Cowardice -- as with Emptiness, this is automatically dissonant and suffers all the same effects as any other Emptiness backfires. The target's courage and the Habbalite's projection of fear have canceled each other out, leaving the Habbalite with nothing.

LILIM (restricted): Lilim of Horror receive the same Lilim attunement as before. (IN Core Rules p.165)

SHEDIM (partially restricted): The Corruptors of Horror are among Beleth's most subtle agents. Rather than inflict fear upon their hosts, they literally turn their hosts into spreaders of horror. Shedim of Horror may, with a Perception roll resisted by their target's Will roll, see what phobias and fears the target has (using the check digit as a guide to what fears the Shedite learns). If the target resists with his Will roll, the Shedite is blocked from seeing any person's fears for a number of hours equal to the Will roll's check digit. If the Shedite is in a host when he makes that roll, and he makes the host do something related to the target's fear (the host cannot *be* the target for this to work -- so possessing a host scared of heights and making him walk a tightrope doesn't count), he gets a bonus equal to the perception roll's check digit in the Contest of Wills, *and* that day doesn't count towards the host's later Perception roll bonuses to detect the Shedite. The Shedite only gets that Perception roll benefit once a day, no matter how many times he makes his host do something terrifying to another. Other servitors of Beleth given this attunement get the ability to perceive their targets' fear, but get none of the other bonuses.

IMPUDITES (restricted): Impudites can charm their targets as normal, both to charm them and to charm Essence out of them. However, they can also choose to *terrify* their targets with their resonance. The mechanic works the same, but instead of thinking of the Impudite as their trusted friend, they're actively scared of the Impudite and will be inclined to do whatever it takes to keep the Impudite happy. Stealing Essence by this method is such an intensely frightening experience that the victim literally throws his Essence to the Impudite in blind terror.

SERVITOR ATTUNEMENTS:

Unchanged at this time.

DISTINCTIONS:

Knight of Gooseflesh: Beleth's Knight can cause any enemy in the area to shiver -- the hair raising on the back of their necks -- as a sense of foreboding fills them. Hidden enemies at least three Forces less than the Knight must make a Will roll or visibly shudder. If the enemy is hidden from sight and fails that Will roll, the Knight gets the failed Will roll's check digit as a bonus to a perception roll to see them.

Captain of the Shocking Surprise: Beleth's Captains feed off the Horror movie cliche of the villain suddenly appearing in a shocking moment. In any tense situation where the Captain's enemy or victim doesn't know where the Captain is, the Captain gets a bonus to his Move Silently roll equal to his total Forces. If he gets close enough to attack, but instead chooses to surprise his foe, the foe must make a Will roll or spend a number of rounds equal to the check digit helplessly screaming in terror while the Captain does what he will. Most Captains like to get right behind their foe, thein use their Knight of Gooseflesh ability to heighten and trigger the surprise. There is no bonus for doing so, however.

Baron of the Hour of the Wolf: In perhaps the most obvious break from the old Nightmares way of doing things, Beleth's Barons may, with a successful Will roll, engulf a person trying to fall asleep with their thoughts, fears and regrets, making it impossible for them to fall asleep for at least two hours plus a number of hours equal to the Will roll's check digit. They may use this ability more than once on the same target -- sometimes hounding a target for weeks, keeping them without sleep during all that time and fixating their thoughts on their fears and regrets.

RELATIONS:

As with all Lilithian Princes, Beleth's relations with the Luciferian Princes have all been worsened by one step. As she was only associated with Asmodeus and Malphas on that list, they are now neutral in her estimation. As she was hostile with all other Luciferian Princes, they are all now considered enemies by Beleth. Naturally, with the "one-step worsening," Baal would already consider Beleth an enemy, but her active efforts to subvert the Essence and Word bolstering of Terrorism -- one of the War's most effective techniques -- would make their blood feud intense even without that.

On the Lilithian side, Beleth is frustrated because she is being forced into a more political situation than she's traditionally enjoyed. She finds herself needing to work with her fellow Princes even when she would prefer to sit alone in her Tower and stew. As a result, there are several Lilithian Princes she's merely Neutral to instead of Hostile to. Still, despite being ordered to work with Andrealphus and to grant her Dream Walking attunement to Andrealphans at his discretion, Beleth loathes the Slave Impudite and would do anything she could to undermine him. Of course, as he's Lilith's special pet, that doesn't mean much, just yet....

Allied: No one. (Furfur considers himself allied with Beleth)
Associated: Furfur, Kronos (Kronos considers himself associated with Beleth)
Hostile: Andrealphus (Andrealphus is hostile to Beleth)

RITES:

* Traumatize a child (+2 Essence if the Trauma will give them nightmares. +3 if it will psychologically unbalance them. GM's discretion on bonus Essence)
* Frighten a group of at least 30 people, or panic a group of at least 10.

CHANCE OF INVOCATION: 1

INVOCATION MODIFIERS
+1 A horror novel
+2 A theater showing a horror movie with at least 5 people in the audience
+3 A mob of at least 20 truly frightened people
+4 At least ten people confronting their phobias in a panic
+5 Ground zero of a terrorism attack within an hour of the attack
+6 Ground zero of an event that terrifies an entire nation for weeks.
Just me.

Alaemon, Lilithian Prince of Intelligence

The world is information; he who controls the flow of information controls the flow of the world.

You ask me why I agreed to Lilith's price? How could I not agree? I could feel myself dying, no matter what I did. I could feel the Word within me ebbing away. Lilith came to me, under the pretext of spending one of the Geases we have established between us. But once together, we talked, and she made some interesting propositions.

We had never been close before, and I'll admit I didn't trust her. I don't trust her. But she knew things... things that were close and precious, and she told me. And told me she needed someone. Someone to be her eyes and ears, and her whisper in the night. And how could I not agree, with the only possible alternative being death. No, I did not trust her, but I accepted what she offered.

And now? Now I am stronger than I have ever been before. At last, I am completely beyond the accursed Litheroy's power, with a Word he cannot touch lest he damage his own. My strength is growing, my organization is waxing, and the implications of my Word are staggering.

What could she possibly be playing at? And how am I supposed to repay such a debt? Servitude? That is simple, and Lilith is not simple. But for now I serve, and we shall see.




Alaemon hasn't merely been stabilized -- he has been drastically Word promoted. Intelligence is more than espionage, even if that's the reason he was given the Word. Intelligence is more than data -- than Secrets -- even if that's the original source of his strength. Intelligence is the power of the mind, and the capacity of the mind to know things, and the things a mind might know, and the trading of that information between those minds... Intelligence can be so many things, and he has been given dominion over them all.

It is worth noting the old D&Dism. Intelligence is not Wisdom. And Alaemon has not become wise. His paranoia has grown, seeing the Game, Judgement and War in every contact. He now fights his cold war on many fronts, and never trusts anyone at all. Not even Lilith or his allies among the Lilithian Princes. Especially not Lilith and his allies among the Lilithian Princes.

The Conspiracy itself has flourished under his swelling power, especially as defectors from the War, the Game and even Fate (which Kronos has no comment about) swell his ranks and accept his fealty. The Black Crescent, long his secret police, have grown into the public face of the Conspiracy, building headquarters in both Stygia and a black ediface in Hades. This is useful, naturally, but also marks the end of the Black Crescent's power base in his organization -- even as his old Dukes and Marquises were nothing more than a dodge, so the Black Crescent is the public address of a secret institution. Otherwise, the Secret Societies continue to play their games, with only the Lodge of Gebbeleth fading to next to nothing (Alaemon was pleased that Gebbeleth's last remaining Word-bound are dying or have died out with Lucifer's death, and the Lodge could not survive Gebbeleth not returning in the wake of the Morningstar's destruction.) New Societies are growing as well. The more things change....

Alaemon is most pleased to accept Gamesters, even though his normal paranoia is magnified around them. Still, he recognizes that he is replacing the Game, and so powerful (or more valuably, well informed) Game Servitors are an invaluable part of that process. As with all Servitors he accepts, he wipes them clean of Attunements and Distinctions before giving them some of his own -- though it has become clear he covets the Humanity attunement, and while he won't let a Gamester keep it (too hard to track, to easy to have the Servitor's loyalties stay divided) he has captured a few Game demons for experimentation. It is likely that Alaemon's association with Vapula is connected to this work.




(Please note that the following only applies to Alaemish who have been 'adapted' by Alaemon to the Lilithian Word of Intelligence. There are still Alaemish with attunements from the Luciferian Word of Secrets. Also, Alaemon does not completely eliminate his old Luciferian attunements among his Servitors (certain favored Servitors might have both his Band Attunements -- the old and the new. As always, Servitors of the Luciferian Word of Secrets have their old attunements and dissonance conditions, and no access to Rites unless otherwise specified.)

Dissonance

The half-truth remains the most powerful weapon in the spy's arsenal, but it is no longer the most important principle to Alaemon. Alaemish are now required to facilitate the flow of information up the chain to their superiors and to Alaemon himself, and to restrict the flow of information outside the organization. Demons of Intelligence become dissonant if they do not report information gathered on their missions as completely as possible (though note that they only must report information that pertains directly to their mission. 'Extracurricular' information may be kept secret) or if they lie about or refuse to answer any question put to them by legitimate superiors (though certain Balseraphs get creative on such things -- a Balseraph's successful Resonance use does not make him dissonant unless his lie is discovered. If it is, the Balseraph will automatically become dissonant from their Word and may potentially be dissonant from their Band as well.) Any information that a legitimate superior designates as classified must not be revealed to any person other than that superior's superiors, however -- to do so is dissonant. Note that for these purposes, a 'superior' may be a higher ranking Servitor of Alaemon, a higher ranking member of the Conspirator's Secret Society (or one of them), or even a Distincted Demon of another Superior who has been given command of a mission. Yes, this means it is possible to get locked between a driving need to report and a driving need to protect classified information, leading potentially to dissonance either way. Sometimes, it sucks to be Alaemish.

Band Attunements

Alaemon uses his Servitors -- generally -- as examples of different covert operatives and intelligence agents.

Balseraph (restricted): Alaemon's Balseraphs are his general field operatives, buried within the ranks of his enemies. When confronted by authorities (Celestial or otherwise), they may add their Ethereal Forces to any attempt to Resonate their confronters and convince them they have perfect access to where they're going. When on Earth, if they are successful, they are considered to have a Role in what they claim to be, at CD level, for CD hours. If they do have such a Role, they may add the effective CD to their Role's level, for CD hours. (This can exceed 6.)

Djinn (restricted): Alaemon's Djinn are his couriers and his counterintelligence operatives. They may attune themselves to a given piece of evidence. (Note that said evidence can be an entry in a database, as well as a physical thing, but must be something more than knowledge in someone's head.) Should anyone access that evidence by any means, without the Djinn's knowledge, the Djinn will instantly know it has been compromised, and will further get an automatic Resonance Roll to attune to the intruder, regardless of distance. If successful, they may track the intruder as normal.

Calabim (restricted): Alaemon's Calabim are his assassins. Their attunement is the same as per Superiors 4 p.6.

Habbalah (partially restricted): The Habbalah of Intelligence are his expert interrogators, charged with breaking the opposition's will, breaking their spirit, breaking their information and then breaking them entirely. They may add their Ethereal Forces to any attempt to use any skill on a prisoner they're interrogating (Detect Lies, Fast-Talk, even Seduction, as an example.) They may also use their Ethereal Forces to modify their Resonance Rolls when Resonating an Interrogation subject as a part of the process. (Habbalah like to alternate between Sadness and Fury at the target's predicament, Love for the Habbalite, and Emptiness when they try to muster their emotional reserves to fight the interrogation.)

Lilim (restricted): Alaemon's Lilim are his Moles. This is the same as per Superiors 4 p.7.

Shedim (restricted): The Shedim of Intelligence are the perfect Deep Cover operatives. When using their Resonance to possess a victim, they may choose to either possess them as normal, or to enter Deep Cover. With a successful use of this attunement, a Shedite may slip into their target's brain and sit, completely undetectable, with access to everything the target senses and to the target's thoughts. While in Deep Cover, the Shedite cannot communicate with his host, and therefore can neither influence nor control his host. However, he is exempt from his Band Dissonance Conditions, and rather than his host gaining bonuses to detect his guest, the host has a penalty of the Shedite's Celestial Forces to ever detect the Shedite. While in Deep Cover, the Shedite can do nothing to affect the outside world, including using other attunements or Songs, though he could still use the Snapshot attunement to record. (And the Disturbance for the Essence expenditure can be detected, which could lead to unwelcome investigation.) Note that while the Deep Cover Shedite cannot be detected, an attempt to possess the host (either through the Kyriotate Resonance, Shedite Resonance or the Song of Possession) will treat the host as already possessed.

Impudites (partially restricted): Alaemon's Impudites are his Agent Provocateurs. From Mata Hari to James Bond, the image of the seductive secret agent is ingrained in popular consciousness. These agents may add their Ethereal Forces to any skill use that ingratiates them with others, such as Seduction or Fast-Talk. They may also add their Ethereal Forces to any attempt to use their Resonance to Charm a target.

Servitor Attunements

Lilith's Document Shredder: This attunement works the same as Lucifer's Document Shredder, Superiors 4 p.8.

Snapshot: This attunement is the ultimate concealed recorder. Within thirty seconds of seeing an event, hearing a sound, or otherwise sensing a moment, the Servitor may record the sights and sounds of that moment exactly at a cost of 2 Essence. The event may take no longer than thirty seconds total, but that thirty second block is perfectly preserved in the Demon's memory. The Servitor may glance at documents in a file, scanning over them very swiftly, and record large sections of information with this attunement. After storing, the Servitor may retrieve the information and place it on appropriate media (paper for written materials, videotape or DVD for footage, audio tape or a CD for a sound, and so forth) at a cost of 1 Essence. This does not erase the stored snapshot. A demon may have as many snapshots in his head as he has Ethereal Forces. If he needs to connect more than one (in thirty second blocks), he may create one contiguous memory for 2 Essence per thirty second block used, plus a successful Precision Roll, at -1 for each additional block after the first. A Servitor may 'empty' a snapshot's slot at will, without Essence cost.

Distinctions

Knight of Espionage: Alaemon's Knights have the ability to see in complete darkness, allowing them to read files under cover of darkness or otherwise perform their duties without running the risk of using lights. Printed materials they gather with the Snapshot attunement will be reproduced properly, though video recordings produced will be dark.

Captain of the Bureau: This is the same as Alaemon's Luciferian Captain of Private Chambers Distinction, Superiors 4 p.8.

Baron of Her Majesty's Secret Service: (Her Majesty of course referring to Lilith.) This is the same as Alaemon's Luciferian Baron of the Vault Distinction, Superiors 4 p.8.

Relations

With the change of his Word, Alaemon has been forced to interact with his fellow Lilithian Princes more than was his wont before. In particular, Kronos and his Archives are invaluable to Alaemon, and the Prince of Intelligence was swift to curry favor with the enigmatic Prince of Fate. Kronos himself finds Alaemon useful. Rebekah and Vapula, both strongly bolstered by the information Alaemon's spies can bring to them, have strongly supported Alaemon, and he in turn has instructed his Servitors to support them -- but always gathering information on them. Similarly, Alaemon and Andrealphus have cultivated an understanding -- the two Impudite Princes can see good benefit to staying close to one another. Alaemon resents the destructive Furfur, who decimates without warning, and works against him as much as any Lilithian Prince will oppose another. Furfur barely notices Alaemon, in response.

One item of note is Alaemon and Beleth's lack of association or camaradrie, when both had been Associated before Lucifer's death. Alaemon still can see the value of the Princess of Horror, but with the exchange of covert information now more important than the driving need for paranoia (beyond Paranoia's role in driving mankind to spy on one another), Alaemon has stepped away from the Princess. In return, Beleth -- herself unhappy with her Word 'promotion,' sees no value in cultivating such a relationship.

The Luciferian Princes, as in other cases, should be considered one step worse than their listing in Superiors 4 -- excepting Asmodeus. Alaemon is hostile to Asmodeus as he works to displace him.

Allied: Kronos (Rebekah and Vapula are Allied with Alaemon)
Associated: Andrealphus, Rebekah, Vapula (Andrealphus and Kronos are associated with Alaemon)
Hostile: Furfur (No one is Hostile to Alaemon)

Rites

  • Convince a person to inform on their own family (parents, children, spouse).
  • Spend six hours in a classified area the demon has no right to access without getting caught.


Chance of Invocation: 1

Invocation Modifiers

Alaemon is consciously emulating his Luciferian opposite number (and enemy) by checking in with each of his Servitors personally on a regular basis -- about once every two weeks, for now.

+1 A human with more than 170 I.Q.
+2 A currently active codebook
+3 A working Enigma machine
+4 The only eyewitness to an atrocity
+5 The complete proof explaining a global conspiracy
+6 The complete nuclear codes of a superpower

Generic Blues - Weird Al Yankovic - UHF
Just me.

Andrealphus, Lilithian Prince of Lust

(Please note -- on these writeups, only actual changes to a Prince's writeup will be listed unless there is a significant change -- such as reWording -- which will list page number references for the reader's convenience. Please refer to In Nomine's core rules for Andrealphus's mechanics, attunements and standard rites, as adapted below.)

The world is there to be used, to be taken, to be enjoyed, and then to be ignored. It is the way of things.

My Dark Lady proved me right. She clutched me closer than any Geas and showed me glories that I can never posses -- I can merely hunger for them, hunger to slacken my desires and release my passions upon them. My Dark Lady forced me to see, and I love her for it. Love her as totally and completely as any sentient loves another. And she hates me for my love and punishes me for my devotion, and I accept it, because I love her and I will always serve her.

Since the Fall I have known that love is weak. Love is false. Love is a lie. I have avoided love since that day, kept it at bay with pure, honest sensuality. But now that is torn away, and I am pierced through with the spike of love for my Dark Lady. I hurt and yearn and beg and serve my Dark Lady, who uses to satisfy herself -- her lusts, her desires, her plans, her goals, her world. My Servitors -- who revere and trust me -- I throw into the blades of Malakim at her whim. She uses me, and then she casts me aside until she wants to use me again. I am the tool of her lusts. Her lust for power. Her lust for the world. And her lust for the passions of humanity. My love makes me powerless to do anything but obey her.

Such is the nature of love. Such is the nature of Lust. Such am I, and so are you.




Andrealphus and Lilith had always been lovers and allies. With the death of Lucifer, Andrealphus had been worried about Lilith's apparent disappearance. (He had even thought for one terrible moment that Lilith had never existed -- that she had grown old and died as a human, but Lucifer's power as a Balseraph was such that he could lie to the Symphony and create Lilith the Princess of Hell out of nothingness. That, of course, was wrong.) With Lilith and Valefor gone, two of Andrealphus's strongest supporters were gone, leaving the Prince of Lust to bolster his Word with only Nybbas strongly supporting his efforts.

All of that changed when he felt the Geases clutch around his heart. The thousand chains held from favors over thousands of years. They combined into a call... a yearning... a lust to go to Lilith. When he arrived, Lilith offered her strongest supporter a place of honor with her new Princes. Andrealphus agreed, but tentatively -- trying to jockey for power.

Lilith had none of that, and proved once and for all that the Princess of Freedom was dead when she grabbed Andrealphus up into her embrace. Over the next many hours (days? weeks? Who can tell in Celestial time?) Andrealphus was exposed to sights, sounds and touches that maddened him with lust, horror and glory. In the end, he was hopelessly in love with the Queen, and Lilith forged that love into chains.

Andrealphus always wears an iron collar and iron bracers now, often set with chains (clearly too flimsy to really hold them... clearly). He bows his head. He is often led leashed by Lilith as she walks through her domains -- she clearly doesn't care if she humiliates him or not. But Andrealphus cares -- her callousness towards his utter devotion is a hot, festering sore, and he desperately tries to evoke feelings from her in return by doing whatever -- whatever -- she says.

In day to day dealings with Andrealphus, his Servitors can see the difference. Still, his dealings with them haven't changed much. He is, if anything, more demanding and passionate now, desperate to find surcease for his wounded heart in the arms of any twelve of his Servitors. And his hatred of love has only gotten worse. He knows how painful it is, now. He lives that pain -- the pain of the lie that is love. And that fuels him to wipe it from the face of the Earth in a mass of sweaty, hungry, passionate distractions, until all that remains is stimulus and response, desire and gratification.

Same as it ever was....




Andrealphus's Servitors have the Dissonance Conditions, Attunements, Basic Rites, Chance of Invocation and Invocation Modifiers listed in In Nomine, pp. 158-9. Note that as of this time, Andrealphus's Servitors may purchase Beleth's Dream Walking attunement (IN p.165). Andrealphus doesn't give the attunement directly, but Lilith has instructed the Princess of Horror to grant the attunement to certain Servitors Andrealphus designates.

Relations

Relations with Luciferian Princes are as per IN p.159, save that each is worsened by one step. For example, Nybbas was an Ally before Lucifer's death. He is now Associated with Andrealphus. Enemies, who can get no worse in ranking, become somehow even more intensely loathed. (Andrealphus would consider the destruction of Saminga an active goal at this point, and likely has committed resources to such.)

Lilithian Prince Relations

(Note that Hostility between the Lilithian Princes is considered secondary to the Lilithian goal of fully taking over Hell and repelling Heaven.)

No one would dare seriously hurt Lilith's little toy, but respect for the Prince of Lust isn't high among the Lilithian Princes. Andrealphus couldn't care less about how well respected he is. He has instructed his Servitors to help Rebekah as much as possible, given Rebekah's role as the Chamberlain of Hell (and therefore her favor from Andrealphus's beloved Lilith). Andrealphus also appreciates Alaemon's presence among the Lilithian Seven -- two Impudites can understand each other, and Alaemon's paranoia keeps him from mocking Andrealphus's captivity. On the other hand, Andrealphus can't stand Beleth and her constant destruction of the right conditions for lust to live -- and the two Princes are further tested by Lilith's command that both work to repel the Heavenly assault on the Nightmare side of the Marches, and the standing order for Beleth to grant her Dream Walking attunement to Andrealphus's Servitors as he sees fit. And the Impudite in Andrealphus can't stand Furfur's driving need to destroy humanity instead of using it.

Allied: Rebekah (No one considers themselves allied to Andrealphus)
Associated: Alaemon (Alaemon and Rebekah are associated with Andrealphus)
Hostile: Beleth, Furfur (Beleth and Furfur are hostile to Andrealphus)

Just me.

LIL1: Luciferian Opinions of the Consolidation of the Queen

It comes as no surprise that the Luciferian Princes are deeply upset. First off, their entire worldview has been smashed. As the Infernal Player's Guide notes, much of their entire being was based on the idea that Lucifer was right, God was wrong, and eventual victory was inevitable. Lucifer dying hurts. Secondly, the degredation of one's Word is actively painful -- like having a slow wound that's causing an agonizingly slow bleeding to death. The Princes are not immediately overly affected in power level (though they do feel an effect after the first month) and not all Princes are degrading at the same rate or the same way that Word-bound did, but all feel it, and it's nothing they can ignore. At all times it is close to the top of their thoughts, and as a result is more important than Lilith on the Granite Throne or control of Hell. Third, however, is Lilith.

Had Lilith assumed the Granite Throne, stabilized Words, and moved into Lucifer's role, there would be little dissention over her reign. Oh, the usual schemers would scheme, and it's safe to say every Prince would be trying to find a way to reverse the relationship and assume Hell for his or herself, but there wouldn't be much consternation beyond the usual grumbling about semievolved baboons with delusions of grandeur.

However, Lilith is not taking on Lucifer's Role. She is actively ruling, parceling out Words with a strategy in mind that she isn't telling others, at least not yet. Those who serve her obey her, and the autonomy known since the Dawn of Hell among the Princes is not shared between her Seven.

This keeps the Luciferians at bay. While she could likely recruit any of them if she tried (and held out the Word like a carrot, clouding their judgement with their need for wholeness), she has stopped her recruitment, instead waiting to see what her Seven and the Luciferians do. So, without inducements, the Luciferians chafe and resist, certain that if they make enough trouble, the Queen will have to come to terms.

If they can remain unified.

At this time, all relations between Luciferian Princes should improve one level. Enemies become Hostile Princes. Hostile Princes become Neutral. Neutral Princes become Associated. Associated Princes become Allied. Further, relations between Luciferian and Lilithian Princes fall one level. Allies become Associated. Associated Princes become Neutral. Neutral Princes become Hostile. Hostile Princes become Enemies. You don't want to know what Enemies become.

Specific reactions and agendas are as follows:

Asmodeus: You cannot play the same game with different players, and Lucifer was always a player in the game. He believed himself more, but he learned differently. Now, Lilith plays her own game, and Kronos plays his, and Baal plays his, and I of course play mine. I will not mourn Lucifer -- he played and lost, but the Game continues. Now my strategies must weave together. The Game between Heaven and Hell must be secondary to Hell's own gambits, and I must consolodate my position before I can procede. As for little Alaemon... he has been given a good opening position in Lilith's strategem. Let us see if he can play it. (Asmodeus's Servitors are concentrating almost exclusively on Word bolstering -- Asmodeus has a Word that is easier to bolster without inviting the Wrath of Stone than others -- and entrenching their position on Earth. Asmodeus has elected to neglect the huge number of refugee demons fleeing to Heaven for now -- after all, Lilith has her own Spymaster for such things, and she has declared herself the Queen of Hell, hasn't she? This seeming unconcern over treason has led to more Gamester Renegades -- hidden away with their Humanity attunements -- than at any known time in history.)

Baal: In case you have forgotten -- and why should I expect otherwise -- there was a purpose to our Revolution. Lucifer, the shining Morning Star, strove and ultimately died in the name of the Heavenly Host -- those who followed him and those who did not. He swore that we were better than these barely sentient, barely evolved simians. We were the natural inheritors of Divine Grace and Favor, not these sin-infested, lazy, crass sacks of meat. And now Lucifer lies dead, his soul itself sacrificed in the name of our holy cause, and a human has the audacity to sit upon the Granite Throne? I would laugh but I am too busy weeping. This human has been suffered for millenia as Lucifer's pet and in the name of her useful demons. But to actually have this tiny little woman claim the right of rule over me? Absurd! The very thought is offensive. She must be crushed and eliminated -- as soon as we have brought our Words and Forces into stability once more. In the meantime, the War continues. The War always continues. And in Lucifer's martyred name we will pursue it and win it. Now, if only I knew what Kronos was up to.... (If the Game has more Renegades then ever before, then the War has fewer deserters than any other Luciferian Prince's organization. The Servitors of the War have intensely powerful Esprit de Corps as they fight to establish the Word of the War more securely. This is in part because of the speedy promotion track as the Generals and other Word-bound of the War falter and die, and even the powerful unWord-bound lead suicide missions to bolster the Word of War.)

Belial: It hurts. It hurts! Damn it, don't you understand? I can't get away from her! I can't get away from her! I've got to make the fire hotter! I've got to make the destruction louder! Destruction -- damn that monkey woman for making Furfur Destruction! Damn her! He was mine! And then he was mine to kill! How dare she? How dare she? Don't you see? It hurts, damn it! Damn Lilith! Damn Gabriel! I can't get away! We have to burn them all away! Burn Lilith! Burn Gabriel! Burn Earth and Heaven and Hell until only the ash remains! (Belial and Gabriel have been in balance for a long time -- and so long as his Word at least approached hers in Power, he could revel in the pain his Word caused the Archangel of Fire more than be torn by it. However, as his Word falters and hers becomes ascendent, Divine Fire now surrounds his being, forcing his selfish Symphony to acknowledge it and literally making him Dissonant and Discordant (especially since he is literally being 'burnt' by his own scheme now.. Note that while he is Dissonant, he is *not* a candidate for Redemption, as he flees the enlightenment in pain and selfishness. His Word is failing much faster than others because of the conflict, and as a result he has begun to feel the pain and loss of sanity that has plagued Gabriel for so long. His Servitors are similarly panicked and crazed, and are desperately trading their time between setting obvious, catastrophic fires on Earth (to fuel his Word -- especially since they can't merely be destructive now, as that fuels Furfur's Word) and fighting Furfur's forces off in Sheol, where their conflict is anything but hidden.)

Fleurity: Mm. Well, I've always had a good working relationship with Lilith even though she never cared for me personally. I had thought her humanity would draw her into my way of thinking -- the right sniff or snort or needle and all, liberating her senses -- but it didn't happen that way. She proved herself strong after all. I can respect that, and intend to contact her and make my services available. After all, it doesn't take a genius to see this revolt will never last. Too many weak links, after all. And I could be of great use to her. In the meantime, my Word slowly diminishes and that must be dealt with, and I cannot afford to commit resources to battle. The important thing is to ensure that operations continue to rejuvenate me until Lilith and I come to an appropriate arrangement. As for Lucifer's demise... well, ultimately the strong must be tested against the strong. One will emerge as stronger, and the other does not deserve our mourning. (Fleurity is calm in the face of destruction -- panic or anger would be a sign of weakness, after all. He has stepped up operations on Earth, in hopes that the more demonstrative Luciferian assaults will distract Heaven away from him. His Servitors are mostly employed in those endeavors, save for his most expendable Servitors, who he has loaned to his 'allies' among the Luciferians, as a sign of good faith. Fleuritians were quite likely to go Renegade in the beginning of the chaos, but at this point most of the potentially redemptive have left, leaving Fleurity's organization diminished but not destroyed. Fleurity's relative lack of Word-bound before the death of Lucifer means his upper organization is remarkably untouched, however.)

Haagenti: I don't understand how Lucifer -- Lucifer -- died. I mean, Michael's big and tough, but Lucifer wasn't a Demon Prince. He was the Devil. Big D followed by evil, you know? He intervened in the world, pushing it just like God does. Are you seriously tellin' me Michael was in God's league all this time? Makes me sick... and I am sick. Sick to my stomach. I haven't been sick since I was a damn demonling. I hate this. Hate it. I'm tellin' you, I don't relish the idea of following Lilith, but anything'd be better than this. Well, food will help. Food always helps. And Gluttony's been strong for a real long time. (Haagenti is worried -- like Belial, his Word seems to be failing faster than others among the Luciferians. Haagenti's followers live in terror that their lord will start eating them for their Forces, to help slow his decline. They also know he's been agitating to join up with Lilith (under the theory that it's better to be alive than dead, so he can go back to Shal Mari and the way life used to be -- food and lots of it) and that some of the more militant Luciferian Princes don't care for it. Many who've reached Earth have fled to the Angels out of those fears. The remainder are running Gluttony operations, but it's hard to dramatically bolster a Word like Gluttony and keep it up.)

Kobal: This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper. Y'know, it's funny. I could have guessed Lucifer'd get spacked sooner or later. It's been literally twenty thousand years since anyone'd given him a fight. Michael's been training all that time, waiting for the golden moment. Lucifer's lucky he even hurt Mikey. I could have guessed, and you know the others could have. But it caught us all off guard, and now here we're fading away. Funny. Heh. So, the question is, do we fight on two fronts, trying to keep our Words alive while our Word-bound turn into tapioca and the Host slaughters us on every excursion and fight a Civil War for Hell, hot or cold doesn't matter... or do we swallow our collective pride and suck up to Lilith in the hopes she doesn't let us die. Gee, they both sound so good.... Still, I'll tell you something. When Lucifer died, there weren't any more Infernal Interventions. They just stopped happening. I always kept track of them where I could when I was responsible for Fate, before Telly Savalas showed up. Now? Lilith's taken the throne and the Interventions are back, helping Hell. Even our demons. But we're still fighting against her even though she's clearly taken over. Funny, isn't it? Huh? Aren't you laughing? (Kobal had fallen into a kind of ennui before Lucifer died. After Lucifer's death, he's clearly fallen into true depression. His world view has been proven wrong and he's going to fade into nonexistance -- so why not laugh? He barely directs his Servitors now, but his surviving Distincted have taken it on themselves to promote his Word wherever possible. It is not a good time to be a Servitor of Dark Humor.)

Malphas: Will I live or will I die? Who can tell? Who can try? Lucifer is dead -- I loved him. I was his best friend. Lilith has his throne. I love her. I am her best friend. Baal wants to destroy Lilith before she can secure her power. I love him. I am his best friend. All around me my fellows are dying -- slaughtered by Heaven, fighting in Hell or having their Words collapse and die. And I? Can but smile at the glorious factions that arise, like a pack of children on a liferaft, arguing over trivialities until the raft flips over and they die. For now I help the Luciferians. Tomorrow, it may be clear their faction cannot win, and I will help the Lilithians. In the meantime, I watch and listen and keep my forces throughout Hell. Let Alaemon have Stygia. I don't need it any longer. (Malphas is as always a faction of one. For now, it serves his needs to work with the Luciferians. As soon as those winds change, so will he. His forces are letting the others take the War to Heaven, offering up only token resistance to Alaemon in Hell. Mostly, they are slipping through the cracks into the realms, watching and learning how the power struggles are progressing and different alliances are forming. He is paying careful attention to how the Lilithian Princes cooperate with one another, looking for patterns and factions among them... all the better to exploit when he makes his move across the Styx.)

Mammon: Damn Lilith! Damn her! I'll kill her! I'll break her bones and rape her body and nail her carcass to my Vault's wall, and lock her away for all time, giving her food in exchange for her daughters, and they will work for me. How dare she take Lucifer's crown as her own? And how dare she set that green-skinned bitch up to take my Word from me? She needs to learn -- Haagenti wasn't enough to take Greed away from me. All the Princes who nailed me on Black Tuesday weren't enough to take Greed away from me. Does she think her damn daughter is enough to take my Word from me? Does she? I'll teach her who's in charge. I'll give her something to rule. Oh Hell yeah! In the meantime, death to the traitors, and vast riches to those who put the Luciferian Princes in the driver's seat again! (Mammon is in trouble and knows it. Rebekah, the Lilithian Lilim Princess of the Deal, is clearly in his territory, taking strength away from his Word and adding it to herself. Lucifer, who Mammon followed passionately (or so he tells himself) is dead. His best and brightest Servitors have proven to be bad investments, as his Word-bound die out and his Servitors desert with dramatic speed -- most of them joining the Princess of the Deal or Alaemon's service. Almost no Demons of Greed have defected to Heaven, not with such attractive rates (and such an attractive Princess) over at the Deal. Even his Tethers -- the ones the thrice-damned Sword haven't blown up -- are being stolen for Rebekah, the Seneschals throwing in with her in exchange for stabilized Words. Those Servitors who remain loyal seek to promote Greed without promoting the Deal and without getting killed by Angels. It's not easy.)

Nybbas: It's a full bore Media frenzy! Hell is agog at the spectacle, NNN's been running full bore reports on the War, on the civil war, on rumors, on Lilith, on the new Princess... all slanted Luciferian, natch, but slant or no it's being eaten up! And on Earth? Pow! Whoosh! Zoom! Belial's setting fires, Mammon's starting corporate takeovers, Baal's invading Hoboken and the Heavenly Host is desperately trying to fight it and keep from revealing themselves! It's a smorgasbord of videotape, and it's running everywhere on the damn planet! My Word's just fine, baby, so I can sit back and make a lot of friends and wait these unfortunate times out, then sign on with the winner. It's a good thing. (Nybbas's organization has had a number of defections to Heaven, but otherwise it's almost business as usual. There's plenty of fodder for the Media to work with, and Heaven is generally (although not entirely) busy with more violent Princes reinforcing their Words. It's a good time to pitch ideas, shape events, get the beauty shot on tape and get quality air time in the Media. And while Nybbas is very positive, thanks to the general Word reinforcement, his Servitors are getting quietly worried. Sooner or later, either the emergencies will quiet down or the public will get tired of them, and Media will wane slightly -- and then Nybbas is doomed.)

Saminga: Lucifer is dead. I told you everyone dies. I told you. Lucifer is dead, so Death is stronger than Lucifer. Lilith better remember that. Baal better remember that. Michael better remember that. Death is stronger than Lucifer. Death is stronger than God. Death is. (Saminga's forces are divided -- divided between fleeing to Furfur and fleeing to Heaven, that is. Saminga himself is sinking into mania and death-worship. Those Servitors who are too loyal (or who aren't bright enough) to leave their Prince are promoting his Word from security, as Saminga's fortress is currently uncontested. Of course, Saminga's undead are loyal, and none of them failed with the Word-bound....)

Valefor: <comment unavailable> (Valefor's forces are in abject chaos, as their Prince hasn't been seen since the Death of Lucifer. While technically Luciferian, any number of Valefor's Servitors have sought shelter with Lilith's Princes -- and Lilith has made it clear she doesn't want Valefor's Servitors hurt. Invocations of Valefor don't work. There is no formal effort to bolster Valefor's Word, as Valefor's Word-bound has mostly died out and his Distincted but un-Word-bound Servitors have adopted an "every demon for himself" attitude. A few of Lilith's closer friends among the Servitors of Theft have had their Words adapted, though a condition of Word-adaption to Lilithian principles is to join with a Lilithian Prince. Alaemon, Beleth and Vapula have been the greatest recipiants of new talent from Theft. And of course, a large number have defected to Heaven.)

Just me.

LIL1: Heavenly Superior Reactions to the Consolidation of the Queen

There is a tremendous feeling of excitement in Heaven. While there was mourning for the loss of the Archangel of Light -- now forever beyond redemption -- the apparent threshold of victory in the War has brought enthusiasm and jubilation among the Virtuous. With the degredation of Infernal Words, it seems more and more like Lucifer's entire Rebellion was just one more Balseraph's lie, and now God's will is spreading to all corners. Optimism is at its highest since before the Purity Crusade.

There is concern over the grieveous injuries Michael suffered in his battle, but the general feeling is Michael will recover swiftly. Certainly, Michael will grow more quickly than the Princes will degrade, or so goes the theory, but while the Princes are degrading, they are more likely to bolster their own Words or search for a cure for their condition.

It is known that Lilith has named herself Queen of Hell and apparently has named new Princes and Word-bound, but there is no reason to believe these Words won't degrade as quickly as the Luciferian Words. There is considerable curiousity of how Lilith is able to do these things. On the other hand, Kronos -- a known Balseraph -- is working with her, which means it may all be lies anyhow, or perhaps Kronos, as the second most powerful Balseraph after Lucifer himself, has learned the trick of Word granting and is doing it in Lilith's name.

The Peace Faction is gaining considerable strength. Michael has done the one crucial thing needed by War, the theory goes. Now it's time to begin bringing all of God's Children together and once again living in harmony. This is borne out by the flood of Infernal Refugees (Renegades no longer seems to describe them) to Divine Tethers and known Angels of all stripes. While a good number of these Refugees fail to achieve Redemption, enough succeed that a real feeling of homecoming and reconciliation has begun to fill the air.

Here then are the current feelings and reactions of the various Heavenly Superiors to the early days of Lilith's Reign:

Blandine: Laurence took an immediate and strong interest in driving Beleth's demons from the Marches. Perhaps he was guilty for Michael's sacrifice. We have regained all the ground lost to Magog's forces some time ago, and then some. But Andrealphus's Demons are trying to infect the good Dreams we must protect, and defending the Dreamers is more important than any military victory. Perhaps soon I will see Beleth again, and we can have a reckoning, though.... As for Lilith... her dreams have always been grey -- sometimes light, sometimes dark. I think she will not be the enemy Lucifer was. (Blandine's Angels are largely concentrating on the defense of Dreams and Tether defense, following some weeks of campaigning alongside Laurence's Angels to drive Nightmares back.)

Christopher: It's so exciting! I've redeemed two dozen demons myself, and there are so many more clamoring at the gates of Heaven! I would do more there, but the Princes are panicking and striving to protect their Words -- and the suffering of children can be very evocotive to the human consciousness. My angels must protect children worldwide, keeping the forces of Fire, the War, Death and Dark Humor away from them. At least Andrealphus seems distracted -- oh, he's one of those with Lilith now, isn't it? I wonder what she's up to.... (Angels of Children are being assigned to block demonic assaults -- children being a primary target for Word bolstering.)

David: I remember the Archangel of Light. He died twenty thousand years ago, and Michael threw the corpse to Hell. Now Michael has ended the Corpse's twitching, and will shed no tears for it. I do not trust that Hell's threat has ended with it's Lord, and I fear Lilith's involvement in all this. Her duplicity and hypocracy must not be allowed to grow -- she has infected too much of Earth already. In the meantime, we must hurl ourselves against the thrust of the dying Princes, lest the Earth be torn apart in their death throes. The work is not complete, and so long as it is not complete I will not celebrate. (Angels of Stone have been tasked with shutting down demonic incursions on Earth, using any means necessary. The Davidians are among the least likely to accept redemption candidates at this time, instead sending as many demons as they can to their Hearts. This is especially true of Word-bound -- the idea of their Words dying as they lie curled around their Hearts appeals to the Davidian sense of the appropriate.)

Dominic: Lucifer's judgement came, at last, at the keen edge of Michael's axe. God pardoned Michael for Pride, and today I can see the wisdom of that decision. Michael's Pride strengthened his arm and resolution, letting the swift blade of War cleave through Lucifer's lies and leaving nothing to protect the Morningstar from ultimate justice. Now, the floodgates have opened and the demons are begging to return to grace. Though it take us a thousand years, each must be judged individually, and each must be given the chance to flourish in Heaven once more. Judgement day is nigh for all of Hell, and Heaven must be firm, but just. And Lilith? For centuries we have said she is nothing more than a demon in human clothing, and now she has shown it. Judgement will not be kind to her. (Dominic -- interestingly enough -- is one of the most common Archangels responsible for redeeming the Luciferian Refugees. This is in part because his Redemptions have been more successful than most -- in part because he only attempts to Redeem the deserving and takes the time to seperate out the frightened from the penitent. His Angels are devoted to the holding of refugees and the debriefing of newly redeemed Angels, and their dockets are very full indeed, right now.)

Eli: Whoa -- Lilith's the Queen of Hell? Like, God Save the Queen, y'know? I mean that. No, I really really mean that. She needs it. Maybe this means a kinder, gentler Hell. Seems unlikely, though. Watch her. She's shifty. The Lilith I know wouldn't be Queen. President maybe. So she's not the Lilith I know. Do you understand? Do you? You gonna finish those fries? (Eli's Angels... are Eli's Angels. What, you expect Lucifer's death to change anything here?)

Gabriel: The laughing man will laugh no more, but does he smile? Or smirk. It cannot be seen. It cannot be told. The Morning Star was falling to Earth. Falling, falling in flames and burning what it touched, and now it has fallen and split and the fire has poured out and seeped into the cold hard rock! The King of Heaven has struck down the serpent, and the serpent's blood flows through the veins of the queen... beware the queenstrike, and watch for the smirk or the smile -- watch! (Gabriel is in an interesting state. Belial's Word is faltering, and after millenia of the two battling for that Word, Gabriel has instantly driven him down further, weakening him and reasserting her own dominance definitely for the first time since Belial first drove her to insanity. As a result, the Voice is very strong in her, making Gabriel less coherent than ever, due to the prophecies flowing through her. She is distracted but seems easier to invoke than normal. In the meantime, her Servitors perform their duties without much change, punishing the cruel with savage glee in the wake of the death of Lucifer.)

Janus: Michael has always been our leader, whether he has the title or not. He has shown us why, one more time -- and shown us how the whining dogs of Judgement have cost us so much for so long. How much sooner would Lucifer's death had come if Michael had been given the free hand he needed? How much sooner would the winds of change have swept through Heaven, Hell and Earth if we had not endured the interregnum of the stubbornly pure and the purely stubborn? Now our true fire is rekindled, and Hell cannot stand before our gale. Let us hitch high the sails and sail them into Satan's heart and Lucifer's little successor! Let Gabriel's horn blow and the assembled Host fly like leaves in the wind, until all of Hell has been scoured clean and all that remains are God's children. The Hour is Nigh -- let's have us an Armageddon! (Janus's Angels are revelling in the chaos of change. The frantic Word bolstering and desperate flocking to Heaven are seen as affirmations of the entire Windie viewpoint -- change has taken place in Hell, and the old is being swept away by the new. Janus's Angels are generally tasked with helping refugee demons reach safe places or otherwise keeping the change that's begun from stangnenting. If that means helping to sweep out the old by blocking Word bolstering attempts, so be it.)

Jean: While Michael's actions were foolhardy and dangerous, one cannot argue with the empirical results he has wrought. If one postulated the assumption -- the death of Lucifer -- the results that have been observed were predictable. Lucifer had always been the catalyst. Hell and all her Demons were merely the reaction to exposure to that catalyst. With the removal of the catalyzing agent, the reaction's precipitation remains but is being slowly washed away in the ebb and flow of the Symphony. Barring another catalyst to reinstate the same or a similar reaction, eventually there would be nothing of Hell or its works left. Lilith has moved herself into the position of catalyzing agent -- will she create a reaction, slow the clearing or ultimately prove inert? I am not sure. It would seem one of the other potential Lords of Hell -- Baal, Malphas or Kronos -- would have produced a stronger reaction. It should be interesting to observe. (The Servitors of Lightning have been the harbingers of the new age, determining the rate and quality of Word-force degradation. Further, when the captive Demon of Hubris underwent his own crisis of faith, it was three young Mercurians of Lightning and an older Seraph of Lightning who ministered to him, leading to one of the first major Redemptions following the death of Lucifer. Now, the Angels of Lightning are tasked with observing and reporting on the activities of the Horde as they try to bolster the failing Words, measuring Word loss and the reaction of Infernal powers to it. Of course, they are to try and block Hellish advances as they do so.)

Jordi: The alpha male has been torn down, and now the pack scrambles, seeking both sustenance and dominance. The old alpha's bitch rises and tries to hold the pack to her word, but they resist. The pack, thus torn, runs wild and unnatural. We must guard the deer from the pack until they settle, and then while they are weak, we must ride in and cull them once and for all. (Jordi's Angels have been set almost entirely to protecting wilderness areas and other animal habitats from Word bolstering attempts -- especially those of Belial, who seeks to burn down large, distinctive resources, especially beloved ones like national parkland or forests.)

Khalid: Mika'il -- God's Peace be upon him -- has struck home the message that Faith has always carried... in perfect submission to and therefore majesty of the Lord, one can carry the fires of judgement to the very heart of the Shaitan. Glories and joy be spread in Michael's name, as the infidels now sob and cry out for mercy that will not come. We must carry that glory further, taking Michael's glorious example to heart and striking down evil where it lies, all the way into the heart of Hell itself. Do not ever forget that Shaitans, while doomed to failure and destruction, come in packs. (The Angels of Faith stand in Jihad against the forces of Hell, using their desperate attempts to bolster the Words of the Luciferian Princes as excuses to sweep in and decimate the reduced Horde. They are cold to refugees -- any who come to the mosques out of fear are eliminated without mercy. Truly contrite demons, having seen the error of their ways following the path of Lucifer, are treated harshly but not unkindly, leading to the fires of Redemption or death, if they are unworthy.)

Laurence: Michael's victory has given us an unprecidented opportunity. Now is not the time to either lose our heads or assume the job is over. The Princes are dying -- the Infernal Word-bound are passing away before our very eyes. We have to pursue the attack. The Gates of Hell have been closed, with the damned souls collecting outside them. We must be ready to lay siege as soon as they're forced open -- when there is no other way for them to go. While we must hold the ground we've gained in the Marches, our responsibility now is clear -- destroy the Infernal Tethers where they lie, save those we can absolutely control, so that we have ways into the heart of Hell itself. Give the Princes no options but to stand and fight on fields of our choosing. And wait them out. Given enough time, none but the least of the demons will survive -- especially not Lilith and her pretentions of royalty. (The Angels of the Sword are leading the charge against demonic positions, both in the Marches and on Earth. It's said four flights of Malakim stand before the sealed gates of Hell themselves, waiting for the chance to take the battle into the heart of Hades and from there throughout Hell. Where other Angels are defending against Word-bolstering, the Angels of Laurence are destroying Infernal positions on Earth.)

Litheroy: Do you see? Do you finally understand? The lie has been revealed. Lucifer's lie, infecting the Symphony itself, has been shown as hollow as paper maiche, and no more sturdy in the end. The Symphony sings with Revelation, the lies of Demonic Words fading away like echoes of horns that are no longer being blown. From here, we must welcome those of our Fallen bretheren who understand, who see that they have been lied to, and who seek the Truth once and for all. By their examples, we can show the propeganda of the Game is a lie, and in Revelation Heaven can be united once more. (Angels of Revelation are among those embracing and assisting Refugees, moving Litheroy more into the Peace Faction than is his normal wont.)

Marc: I don't understand what Lilith is trying to prove. Why is the Princess of Freedom suddenly giving orders? Have you heard she's taking slaves? This should be her moment to shine -- the way and path to Heaven are clear, and after millenia she should be ready to embrace the truth, the way so many others are. If we can meet our frightened infernal bretheren halfway, and help them to see the light and the joy of selflessness, we can finally bring this all to an end. Well, if Lilith manages to survive as the Queen of Hell, at least then we can open a reasonable dialogue and know she's dealing in good faith. No matter what else has happened, we are infinitely better off than when Lucifer ruled Hell. And I have to admit -- watching Mammon's Word fade from the Symphony is very... very fun. Now... I really must figure out who this Rebekah is.... (Angels of Trade are among the core of the Peace Faction, growing in strength and influence in the wake of Lucifer's death. They are also gaining in strength among Humanity, as free and fair trade practices are finally growing against both Greed and Gluttony. Marc's Angels have been given the task of outreach towards the refugee Demonic population -- where several Archangels are supporting the Redemption effort, it is the Angels of Trade who are moving into hot zones to give Renegades a place to go -- a friend to help them towards the light.)

Michael: What is so unclear about this situation? Damn it, I did the hard part for you. Finish the damn job! Armageddon has been a swear word for so long the others have forgotten its real purpose -- Judgement Day. Lucifer is dead. We should be wiping out the Forces of Hell now, while they're weak, confused and scattered. We can Redeem the stragglers and the survivors. They rebelled, remember, not us. Our responsibility is to Heaven, Humanity and God, not in that order. And Lilith? Don't make me laugh, just make her dead. When she dies, if she's worth Heaven she'll go there, won't she? (Absent their injured Superior, the Angels of War have been working In Service To the Sword and Stone, with a few alongside the Angels of the Wind for good measure. They are serving with distinction, but make no secret of their desire to launch the final battle.)

Novalis: I brought a dandelion to the Cathedral of Light. Such a beautiful flower, even if it's called a weed. It's pretty, and sturdy, but so transitory. Bright and yellow one day, gone to gossymer seed the next, and then it's gone until the next year. I remember how bright Lucifer once was, and mourn his death now. We have to make that death mean something -- not just victory for Heaven, but victory against the pain, the war, the bloodshed of the past. It is a new day. I hope Lilith understands that, down in Hell. She seems to -- her Princes aren't launching these suicidal attacks on the Corporeal Realm. Once things quiet down, we can open the Gates of Heaven and let the Light shine as a beacon, and let the former Servitors of Lucifer rise and join with us in peace, once more. And hope no more dandelions need to be cut down. (The Servitors of Flowers are protecting humanity where it's needed, and ministering to the refugees where they can. Marc's Angels are working to recruit and bring out the Renegades, and Novalis's Angels are then protecting them while their suitability for Redemption is assessed. Interestingly, the Angels of Flowers are working very closely with the Servitors of Judgement during this process, without strain.)

Yves: Once there was a little girl who was born to untold wealth and love, if only she would accept the responsibility to possess them. "You may have all the food you need, but you must give food to others when it's necessary. You may have all the clothing you want, but you must see others clothed. You may have a husband to share your heart, but you must be his partner, sometimes leading him and sometimes serving him." And the little girl said "no. No, I won't take the food if I have to share it. I won't take the clothes if I have to share them. I won't have a husband if I have to share my life with him. I would rather be hungry, and cold, and alone than be responsible to and for other people." And she left her birthplace, and was hungry, and cold, and alone. And a man came to that little girl and offered her the ability to earn her own food and clothes, but only if she would prostitute herself and her children. Everything would have a price, but she would never be cheated. She could be cold and hungry if she didn't want to prostitute herself, or she could have infinite food and clothing if she would. And she accepted his deal, without ever asking if she would have love. And then, when the man died, she learned he was his heir. And she could have chosen to have love at last, but only if she shared her inheritance with the world, or she could have all of it to herself, but only if she sacrificed the world to keep it. And she chose. Little girls make selfish choices sometimes. We must be certain the world does not pay the price. Eh? What do I think of Lucifer's death? Mm. Well fought, Michael. (The Angels of Destiny are almost avoiding both the refugees and the demons, right now, and are instead working overtime to promote the Destiny of individual humans. Yves's directives seem more intent than before, and he has a tight rein on his Servitors, keeping them on-task rather than celebrating with the others or fighting the Forces of Hell -- even Fate.)

Zadkiel: War has served its purpose and served it exceedingly well. Lucifer lies dead. And Michael lies wounded. We must be worthy of that injury -- we must protect humanity from the beast that has been roused. Now more than ever we must form a wall that shields our children -- the flower of humanity, of nature, of animals, and of all our works and the works of humanity. Now, we must complete what has been started, and prove to the Horde once and for all that they cannot breach our defense -- and in that prove convince mor and more to take up our banner and our spirit. In Michael's Victory lies the kernal of our ultimate victory -- but only if we let the seed grow. (Zadkiel is supportive of the Peace Faction, but is mostly devoting her Angels to protecting populated areas from the desperate lunge of the Princes. She feels that if the Princes are balked, more and more Demons will see the fallacy of their cause and flock to Heaven's banner.)