By David Edelstein (DavidEdelstein@compuserve.com)
Corporeal Forces 5 Strength 10 Agility 10 Ethereal Forces 5 Intelligence 10 Precision 10 Celestial Forces 6 Will 12 Perception 12
Human/4 (Charisma +2), Human/2 (spare vessel)
Form (Corporeal/6, Ethereal/3), Harmony (Corporeal/5, Ethereal/6, Celestial/5), Light (Corporeal/4, Ethereal/2, Celestial/3), Numinous Corpus (Wings/6), Projection (Corporeal/4, Celestial/3), Shields (Corporeal/4, Ethereal/4, Celestial/4), Tongues (Corporeal/6)
Detect Lies/6, Dodge/4, Emote/4, Fighting/3, Knowledge (Etiquette/6), Large Weapon (Sword/6), Savoir-Faire/6, Tactics/3
Malakite of the Sword, Seraph of the Sword, Mercurian of the Sword, Purity of Purpose, Divine Silence, Master of the Armies of God, Angel of Etiquette
Compared to other Malakim of the Sword, particularly of his rank, Curtis is not an awesome fighter, though he can more than hold his own. It's a mistake to think that he isn't just as dedicated to purging the world of evil as every other Malakite. Curtis just goes about it in a rather more subtle manner than one is used to seeing from his Choir. Laurence approves of Curtis's work, though he does consider it secondary, which is one reason why there aren't that many Angels of Etiquette.
"Good day, I am very pleased to make your acquaintance. It's always a pleasure to meet an angel who's just earned his wings, so to speak. Yes, my servant told me you feel you have an affinity for my Word. I'm delighted to hear it, but I do feel it necessary to point out that I am rather particular. I hope you understand that it is meant as no reflection whatsoever on your potential as a loyal Servitor if I conclude that you would best serve the Host in another capacity. I will be more than happy to recommend you to another superior if that is the case. Good, good. Since we understand one another, perhaps you could start by telling me a little about your experiences as a reliever?"
"Well, that sounds most promising. You do indeed possess exquisite manners. However, you seem to be laboring under a common misapprehension concerning my Word. I do not want to create more rituals in society just for the sake of having visible rituals. In fact, that kind of thinking often leads to abuses of my Word which have led to the sad repute into which it has fallen in recent years. Rituals must serve a purpose. Allow me to explain.
"You are probably aware that the Angel of Dueling was once one of my Servitors. Sadly, he Fell years ago, but there is a reason why I have not sought to replace him. Consider:
"At one time, it was considered socially acceptable for gentlemen to kill one another over slights of honor. This was not necessarily a good thing, and contrary to the accusations of Archangel Novalis, I never encouraged it. But by establishing rules of etiquette concerning duels, we limited the bloodshed and prevented these disputes from getting out of hand.
"Now, however, society increasingly respects no rules whatsoever -- the ultimate extension of 'free expression'. But fundamentally, the only difference between drive-by shootings and pistols at dawn is that the latter were conducted under formal rules that limited the violence to the involved parties, and ostensibly ensured some measure of fairness. Both phenomena were and are precipitated by individuals who feel they have been shown a lack of respect, for which the only redress is bloodshed. Now, if Archangel Novalis believes she can restrain that violent impulse in humans, I applaud her efforts. In the meantime, however, we have the same situation -- individuals unwilling to accept a non-violent solution to their problems. Given that, isn't encouraging rules to limit the scope of such engagements preferable to the indiscriminate retaliatory carnage to which we are now treated? Unfortunately, society can no longer accept the concept of etiquette limiting behavior which is considered immoral -- it can barely accept the concept of limiting behavior in any way whatsoever."
"Do forgive me if I sound a trifle bitter on occasion. These are trying times for Etiquette. It is not about place settings and rules of precedence, my dear young angel...those things are merely the external manifestations of my Word. Etiquette is about making it possible for humans to coexist in an orderly manner. Etiquette provides a common frame of reference by which humans can understand one another and interact in a civilized manner. If you wish to be an angel of Etiquette, you must most assuredly be polite....but more importantly, you must have respect. Even demons can be polite -- but courtesy motivated by selfishness is just another way of getting what you want at the expense of others, and possibly not alerting them as quickly that they have been victimized. That is not Etiquette."
When about to meet the Angel of Etiquette, some angels snicker, imagining a frivolous Cherub of Novalis fussing over whether the color of one's shoes matches the season. The snickers stop -- often to be replaced by incredulity -- when they learn that the Angel of Etiquette is a Malakite of the Sword.
"Curtis" is the name he uses nowadays; the root of that name is "Courteous", and some of his older Servitors still call him that. He usually presents himself as a distinguished gentleman of elegant manner and dress...and oh yes, he is _always_ polite. God help the diabolical who thinks that Etiquette is incompatible with turning demons into bloody smears, though. Curtis is less reactionary than many Malakim -- if a demon is polite, he'll forbear smiting the diabolical immediately. But demons exist outside the bounds of etiquette -- they have already violated the conventions of celestial society that, to Curtis, define the rules of proper behavior. If possible, he'll wait until such time as it wouldn't be rude to anyone else present to destroy a demon, but if a demon manifests his infernal nature, Curtis will strike immediately. Sometimes one has to choose between the lesser of two evils, you see, and allowing a demon to continue to pervert the Symphony is a _much_ greater Heavenly etiquette violation than getting bloodstains on the carpet.
The core of Etiquette is respect. Curtis is not some fussy pedant obsessing over what type of fork one uses to eat salad. Certainly, depending on the situation, one _should_ take care to use the correct fork....different rules for different occasions, after all. But formal dinner parties are meant to be enjoyable, not competitive events where the winner is the one who catches the most mistakes made by others. The important thing is that the rules to be followed must be understood by all. Creating rules of "etiquette" just to chastise those who don't know them is snobbery, and it's rude. Demons have done this a lot to Curtis's Word (they had a ball messing with him in the Victorian era), and he won't stand for it. Unfortunately, etiquette has fallen out of fashion in modern society. Many people now associate it with elitism and classism, and worse, consider it to be a hindrance to their right of "free expression." Diabolicals have done their work well, and Curtis has taken quite a beating. But he's not about to give up the fight....he is, after all, a Malakite.
Outwardly, angels of Etiquette _do_ spend of a lot of time trying to teach and enforce rules of etiquette, including those for formal occasions. Curtis would as soon lick Lucifer's boots as show up at a white-tie affair with a black tie, or call his Superior "Laurence" in public. (That's _Archangel_ Laurence!) But Curtis sees Etiquette as the only way that people -- especially humans -- can coexist in a civilized manner. Curtis's ultimate goal is not to have everyone on Earth dressed in formal wear, eating off of fine China and always saying "please" and "thank you". It is to have everyone on Earth being polite to one another. Curtis realizes that being polite doesn't always mean being good. But it's very hard to be bad without being impolite, so the rules of etiquette, at the very least, make it easy to spot the sinners. If everyone knows the rules, and obeys the rules, there should be no unpleasant disputes, and those that occur can be resolved with a minimum of fuss. Of course this is rather like saying that if everyone loved and respected one another, there would be no war. But Curtis is nothing if not idealistic....he is, after all, a Malakite.
What frustrates him the most is the free-for-all into which Western civilization has now descended, where "etiquette" has become synonymous with "stuffy and pretentious", and people have become convinced that only by expressing themselves freely can they be truly happy. It is bad to suppress one's own feelings to spare the feelings of others, it is bad to refrain from doing as one pleases because it might distress others -- true happiness can only be achieved by acting out impulsively and without consideration for anyone's needs but your own. Anyone who claims to be offended is just oversensitive, or trying to impose their morals on others. Rules and standards are the tools of dictators and the self-righteous. Not caring what anyone else thinks has become a virtue, as if taking pride in one's ability to offend was a sign of being principled -- and being "judgmental" is now a greater sin than being callous and insensitive. It's enough to turn a Malakite's stomach.
Curtis perseveres, though. He is guardedly optimistic about places where things have gotten so bad that people are finally trying to turn it around, and he's delighted by the concept of "netiquette." (There isn't an Angel of Netiquette yet, but Curtis would like to talk to Jean about that.) He adores Judith Martin, better known as columnist Miss Manners, and has one of his most potent Cherubim watching over her. And he knows that, no matter how much the rules change and how bad society deteriorates, people will always have to have _some_ kind of order to their everyday existence. Without rules of any kind, people would act in a totally random manner and no one would be able to interact with anyone else except on a bestial level. It may be possible to live under anarchy (though don't tell Dominic that!), but humans simply can't live without etiquette
Curtis has a small but dedicated following. His angels are experts on rules of etiquette, and they encourage the enforcement of those rules. They also encourage the developing of new rules and discarding outdated old ones as necessary. Curtis is rather picky about this, though -- he abandons a cherished convention only with great reluctance, and he's suspicious about new "innovations", when often just adapting an old rule to a new situation would do.
Some Angels of Etiquette may appear ridiculously formal and polite -- it's common for Curtis's Servitors to go overboard. He doesn't mind...you can never be _too_ polite. What bothers him is if they begin to substitute ritual for underlying intent -- replacing substance with style. Angels of Etiquette are supposed to combat rudeness (politely!) and encourage civility, not just show off their sophistication.
All Angels of Etiquette are also Servitors of Laurence, which means they have Laurence's Choir attunements (Curtis can't grant Choir attunements of his own), and may buy Laurence's Servitor attunements. They also have all the Rites and dissonance restrictions of both the Sword and Etiquette.
Angels of Etiquette earn dissonance for being rude. This means doing anything _they_ consider rude, not accidentally violating someone else's perceived notions of politeness. And making up rules of etiquette on the spot to trap an Angel of Etiquette won't work. On the other hand, clever demons can sometimes draw them into sticky situations. But minor etiquette violations, especially in a good cause, are tolerable. (For a Malakite of Laurence, Curtis is surprisingly flexible this way -- but most of his Malakim take a Vow "_Always_ follow etiquette", which means they don't have this leeway.) In other words, showing up at a white-tie affair wearing a black tie won't earn an Angel of Etiquette dissonance, if he had no choice. Doing or saying something you know is impolite just because it's convenient -- or because you want to -- will.
This Servitor attunement, which almost all Angels of Etiquette buy, is just like Dominic's "Incarnate Law" attunement, except it gives the angel an instinctive knowledge of the local rules of etiquette, rather than the law. Of course, often the two overlap. Having this attunement also guarantees an angel will never fail a Savoir-Faire roll (treat a failed rolled, even on a default use of the skill, as having a check digit of 0). You must still have the skill in order to get the positive effects of knowing Savoir-Faire, however. An Angel of Etiquette who _doesn't_ have this attunement had better have Savoir-Faire at a high level.
Malakim of Etiquette can apply their resonance to search for a subject's most courteous and/or discourteous acts, if they wish. "Noble/Ignoble" acts are not always the same as courteous and discourteous ones. This is not an attunement that one must buy -- Malakim of Etiquette get it for free, as it is simply a slight extension of their natural resonance.
Also, an addendum to the Angel of Etiquette: he will grant one of his Rites (recipient's choice) to any Malakite who takes the Vow "Always be polite" (or some other Vow that Curtis considers to be partially dedicating the Malakite to his Word.)
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