Malakim don't Fall. This is one of Heaven's constants. The Host takes comfort from the knowledge that their greatest warriors will never join the enemy. The fact that Malakim are virtually immune to temptation, and cannot be dragged down to Hell no matter how dissonant they become, is a source of immense frustration and resentment to the damned. Lucifer has promised a Principality to any demon who succeeds in causing a Malakite to Fall. As he has never been able to do this himself, most everyone on both sides assumes it's impossible.
A Malakite who fails a dissonance roll can become an Outcast. Usually, this is as flawed as they get, in large part because Outcast Malakim are hunted obsessively, both by the Inquisition and by other Malakim. Almost always, they either redeem themselves or are destroyed very quickly.
If an Outcast Malakite fails another dissonance roll, he does not Fall. Instead, he suffers as demons do, earning another note of dissonance, and Discord equal to the check digit of the failed roll.
But no matter how much Discord a Malakite accumulates, he cannot Fall. His Heart may be marred by countless fractures, but it will never shatter on its own. It will, however, gradually dim. Every crack diminishes the light that naturally glows from an angel's Heart, and while other angels inevitably Fall long before their Heart goes totally dark, a Malakite can theoretically accumulate massive amounts of Discord, enough to rob his Heart of light completely.
Everyone knows that Malakim don't Fall. What few know, and even fewer like to talk about, is that Malakim can become Dark.
Dark Malakim are extremely rare. Considering that Malakim will usually be put on probation with just two notes of dissonance, and most Superiors will destroy out of hand any Malakite with more than three levels of Discord, it's unlikely that any Malakite accumulating large amounts of Discord will survive long enough to turn Dark. No one knows how many there have been since the Choir's inception, but Bright Lilim are more common than Dark Malakim. Most angels, if they've even heard of Dark Malakim, consider them to be apocryphal.
Dark Malakim aren't really Malakim anymore. They aren't really even angels. They still have an angelic Heart in their former Superior's Cathedral, but it is effectively dead. A Dark Malakite can't assume celestial form and can't ascend to Heaven, and if his vessel is killed, he will suffer as do other Outcasts. In the extremely unlikely event of a Dark Malakite who has not become an Outcast (see sidebar), suffering physical death would mean the Dark Malakite's celestial form would ascend to Heaven to form next to his darkened Heart. Most Archangels would quickly destroy him.
It takes a lot of Discord to turn a Malakite Dark. It can't happen until the amount of Discord, of each type, exceeds the Malakite's Forces of that type. For example, a Malakite with 4 Corporeal Forces, 2 Ethereal Forces, and 3 Celestial Forces would turn Dark upon accumulating at least 5 levels of Corporeal Discord, 3 levels of Ethereal Discord, and 4 levels of Celestial Discord.
A Malakite can try to avoid turning Dark by stacking up Discord of one particular type. There is a limit to this, however. Once a Malakite (or any angel) has accumulated levels of one kind of Discord equal to his total Forces, any further Discord must be of another type.
Using our nine-Force Malakite above as an example, a minimum of twelve levels of Discord could turn him Dark. However, in an effort to avoid this, he piles on Corporeal Discords initially. After having acquired Vestigium/6, Stigmata/2 and Ugly/1, the Malakite has reached his limit on Corporeal Discord. If he gains still more Discord, it will have to be either Ethereal or Celestial. If he accumulates nine levels of either type, the remaining Discord will have to be of the third type. So, our Malakite could theoretically accumulate up to twenty-three levels of Discord (nine Ethereal, nine Celestial, and five Corporeal) before turning Dark!
A Malakite so wracked with Discord, of course, is a pathetic wretch. This is another reason why Dark Malakim are so rare. If they haven't been hunted down already, it's very difficult for a creature so encumbered by physical, mental and supernatural deformities to go unnoticed, either by mortals or by celestials. Such a Discord-laden angel is begging to be put out of his misery, and most celestials of either side will be quick to oblige.
A Dark Malakite cannot suffer further dissonance. His angelic nature has become so perverted, he no longer even has a resonance! Dark Malakim lose all resonance abilities, and all attunements. Distinctions aren't automatically lost, but it's inconceivable that an Archangel would not strip a Dark Malakite of all Distinctions.
What you have left is a celestial with only his skills and Songs and innate celestial abilities. You'd think that with the loss of most of his powers, and the addition of a dozen levels of Discord at the very least, a Dark Malakite would be easy prey, and you'd be right, for the most part. But becoming Dark gives Malakim a few advantages as well, and those advantages can make them extremely dangerous.
Dark Malakim Servitors?
Technically, a Dark Malakite does not have to be an Outcast. A Malakite who keeps suffering dissonance, and turns it into Discord as fast as he gets it, can theoretically keep his Heart from cracking all the way through, even though it's riddled with countless fractures. His Heart will still go dim, and it's possible he could reach the point of Darkness without actually becoming an Outcast. However, no Archangel would allow one of his Malakim to reach this point without either casting the Malakite out himself, or (more likely) destroying him. Any Malakite still in the service of an Archangel and accumulating large amounts of Discord will soon receive a visit from his Superior, in person.
Remember that you must roll higher than your highest level of Celestial Discord each day, or you do not regenerate Essence normally. Thus, anyone with a level 6 Celestial Discord no longer receives Essence naturally- and if he's an Outcast or a Renegade, he doesn't have access to Rites either, which means he's in big trouble! A Malakite who accumulates Celestial Discord may try to spread it around, but the GM should not allow an angel with nine levels of Celestial Discord to take nine different level one Discords. Once a Malakite starts piling on Discord, it's recommended that every new one be rolled randomly, and that however many levels have just been acquired all be put into the same one.
Geases are an exception to the limits on accumulated Discord described under "Turning Dark". Even though Geases are an Ethereal Discord, they don't count towards exceeding your Ethereal Forces, and they don't count when calculating how many total levels of Ethereal Discord you can accumulate. However, dissonance can't normally be converted to a Geas, nor can a Geas be inflicted as a random Discord.
"I've got something to say:
It's better to burn out than to fade away!"
-The Kurgan, "Highlander"
Dark Malakim are creatures of Discord. The Forces of which they were originally composed are now weaker than the negative energy that clings to them. The Symphony warps unnaturally around someone so discordant, and a Dark Malakite can actually aggravate this disturbance and harness it for his own purposes. By fueling his Discord, a Dark Malakite gains a temporary increase in power, but at a terrible price.
Dark Malakim can use their Discord in place of their weaker Forces, but this eventually strips them of their Forces completely. A Dark Malakite can temporarily raise any of his Forces up to his total amount of Discord of the same type, to a maximum of six. This does cause his Characteristics to rise also.
To power his Forces with Discord, the Dark Malakite must make a Will roll, adding the number of Forces of the type he is trying to boost. The check digit of a successful roll is the number of minutes the increase lasts. On a failed roll, he gains Discord and/or loses Forces of the appropriate type, equal to the check digit! Even if successful, the Dark Malakite will still gain one level of Discord or lose one Force at the end of the duration. If a Dark Malakite already has the maximum allowable Discord of the type in question, he must lose Forces instead. Your Forces can be lowered to 0 by using Discord to boost them (In Nomine, page 68). Any Force lowered to 0 cannot be powered with Discord. If a Force is reduced to 0 by a failed roll and there is some left over, ignore the excess.
|Example: Ahiel, a former Malakite
of the Wind, has turned Dark. Originally possessing 3 Corporeal Forces, 2
Ethereal Forces, and 5 Celestial Forces, he now has 10 levels of Corporeal
Discord, 3 levels of Ethereal Discord, and 10 levels of Celestial Discord.
Ahiel is little more than a crazed monster now, but he's a very dangerous
In a fight with a Triad of Judgment, Ahiel decides he needs more Corporeal Forces. He has a Will of 8, so with a target number of 11, he can use his Corporeal Discord to give himself 6 Corporeal Forces. He does so, rolling a check digit of three. For three minutes, he fights as if he had 6 Corporeal Forces, with a matching Strength and Agility of 12 each. At the end of that three minutes, he falls back to 2 Corporeal Forces; since he was already at his limit of Corporeal Discord, he had to lose 1 Corporeal Force instead.
Had Ahiel failed his roll (which would have happened only on a 12), he would have been reduced to 0 Corporeal Forces, destroying his vessel completely.
LOSING DISCORD WITH FORCES
There is one advantage to losing Forces when you're a Dark Malakite; you also lose some of your Discord. Every time a Dark Malakite loses Forces, for whatever reason, he loses an equal number of levels of Discord of the same type. A really desperate Dark Malakite might try to lose Forces deliberately, in an effort to shed a particularly dehabilitating Discord along with them!
Dark Malakim, almost always being Outcasts, have no Rites, and probably have too much Celestial Discord to regenerate Essence at sunrise. This makes gaining Essence extremely difficult for them, and contributes to their short lifespan. However, they have another option available: they can wrench Essence out of the Symphony by tearing at it with their Discord. Strip-mining the Symphony in this manner creates a loud disturbance and painful backlash, but a Dark Malakite might be desperate enough to do it and suffer the consequences.
To use Discord to obtain Essence, a Dark Malakite chooses one of his three types of Discord, and rolls d666, with a target number equal to the amount of Discord he is using (he may use less than his full amount, but he may not mix different types of Discord). On a successful roll, he gains Essence equal to the check digit. On an unsuccessful roll, he may not repeat the attempt (with that type of Discord) for a number of days equal to the check digit.
Whether successful or not, attempting this creates a very loud disturbance in the Symphony, equal to the Discord being used plus the check digit, and inflicts damage, of the appropriate type, equal to the target number. It also tends to create strange phenomena in the area, as a result of warping reality with Discord. Nearby inanimate objects may be damaged or deformed, strange sounds and smells might fill the area, and mortals will feel uncomfortable, possibly sick or fearful. When a Dark Malakite draws discordant Essence from the Symphony, everyone notices.
|Example: Ahiel escaped the Triad,
but he's being pursued, and he needs Essence badly. He decides to use his
Celestial Discord to rip Essence from the Symphony. He has 10 levels of
Celestial Discord, and he uses all of it, so his target number is 10.
Fortunately, he succeeds, and with a check digit of 4, the tortured
Symphony provides him with 4 points of Essence. It also protests with a
disturbance of 14! Ahiel's pursuers will have little trouble following him.
Furthermore, Ahiel takes 10 Soul Hits. Hopefully the Essence was worth it.
Meanwhile, a strange crackling sound fills the air, and dogs bark for miles around. Mortals who tread in Ahiel's wake feel their flesh crawl for days afterwards.
Had Ahiel failed, he would still have taken the damage and created the disturbance, and it would be four days before he could try using his Celestial Discord to gain Essence again.
Dark Malakim, like truly free Lilim, have no metaphysical bond with either Heaven or Hell. Being technically unaligned, they are treated as enemies by both sides. A Malakite who has turned Dark is a discordant abomination. Angels will be horror-stricken at the sight of him. Most will run away (and report the Malakite to their Superior immediately), the rest will try to kill him. Demons will react similarly, though the smart (or foolhardy) ones may try to capture this bizarre, twisted caricature of a Malakite. Even mortals will notice something is very, very wrong with a Dark Malakite, even if none of his Discords are immediately visible. Most Outcasts are virtual pariahs, but Dark Malakim truly have no friends. Outcasts will not associate with them; those who have hopes of being readmitted to Heaven know that befriending a Dark Malakite is as bad as consorting with demons, while those who are avoiding both angels and demons will dread having a mad, discordant creature of uncertain temperament following them around. Renegades too will see a Dark Malakite either as an almost-Fallen enemy to torment or avoid, or as a dangerous jinx who will only draw fire on anyone who gets too close.
A Dark Malakite's outlook is grim. Their lives are usually brief and violent, as they are hunted relentlessly by angels and demons alike. They drag their Discord with them like iron chains. While it offers them brief moments of power, moments they often need to preserve their existence, each time they are forced to draw on their Discord, their Forces dwindle a little more. None last long.
A Dark Malakite's behavior depends on what Discords he's accumulated. At the very least, the Dark Malakite will be suffering from assorted psychological disorders. Most are totally insane. A Dark Malakite has purged himself of the last vestiges of divinity, yet he remains a celestial, and he is not a demon. In many ways, he is now a free agent, but his mind has become so twisted, he may be barely aware of his own nature and his motives. Depending on what brought him to this state, and what Discords he's acquired, he may still obey his oaths, but if he does, it's out of force of habit; since Dark Malakim are no longer truly Malakim at all, they are no longer bound by their vows.
Most Dark Malakim, knowing they're doomed, obey their instincts and attempt to go out in a blaze of glory. They may hunt demons, if they retain some devotion to their original purpose, or they may attack any celestial they encounter. Some become completely psychotic and start killing mortals too. They may walk into a crowded restaurant with an automatic weapon, or they may became hunters of individual humans, turning their perverted killing instinct into a game. Their rationales are as varied and insane as those of human serial killers. If a Superior realizes a Dark Malakite is on the loose, every Servitor in the area will probably be put on his trail. A celestial with nothing to lose can inflict a lot of damage, and often won't hesitate to display celestial powers in public.
Dark Malakim who still consider themselves aligned with Heaven may throw themselves into one last assault on the enemy. Descending to Hell for a suicide attack is one option; driving a truck bomb into an infernal Tether is another. Such desperate beings may believe that with this final act, they have a chance of redeeming themselves. As no one knows the fate of any Dark Malakite who self-destructed on the corporeal plane, they may be right.
Instead of going down fighting, a Dark Malakite might try to hide. This isn't easy, since with so much Discord, he probably can't blend into human society even without doing anything to disturb the Symphony, and as long as an Archangel or a Demon Prince knows there is a Dark Malakite unaccounted for, they will never cease their pursuit. But it should be noted that Dark Malakim can easily burn themselves down to a Remnant after a few uses of Discord to power their Forces. It's whispered that a few Malakim have gone Dark, and never been found.
Dominic considers Dark Malakim more dangerous than most demons, and tries to keep even their existence a secret. He has been known to punish his own Servitors just for repeating rumors about Dark Malakim, and any angel who actually comes into contact with one will almost certainly be detained and questioned by the Inquisition. Judgment's official position on Dark Malakim (if forced to admit they exist) is that they are to be accorded the same status as Fallen angels, and destroyed on sight. Needless to say, anyone who aids and abets a Dark Malakite, no matter what the reason, will face charges of treason if Dominic finds out about it.
Diabolical Superiors have a rather different view. In fact, not all Demon Princes are even certain that Dark Malakim exist. They have all heard rumors, but very few have been presented with direct evidence. Thus, many of them would love to capture a Dark Malakite alive, so the former angel can be dissected and examined at leisure. Capturing a Dark Malakite is usually just as difficult as capturing a regular Malakite, so any demon who managed to accomplish this would be richly rewarded by his Prince.
A secret agreement exists between Asmodeus and Dominic. Just as they occasionally cooperate to hunt down Renegades, they also join forces to destroy Dark Malakim. If Dominic receives word of a Dark Malakite, he will notify his diabolical counterpart, and Asmodeus will go to great lengths to ensure that no other Prince succeeds in capturing a Dark Malakite alive. The agreement between the two Superiors is that Asmodeus will present proof to Dominic of the Dark Malakite's destruction. Of course, Asmodeus would seize the opportunity to capture a Dark Malakite himself, if he thought he could do so without Dominic's knowledge.
If it's difficult for an Outcast to redeem himself, how much more so is it for a Dark Malakite? The simple truth is, it's never happened. The circumstances that would allow a Malakite to accumulate enough Discord to turn Dark, and yet be worthy of forgiveness by his Archangel, would have to be extraordinary indeed. It's not likely that anything short of slaying a Demon Prince would earn redemption for an angel who, if a member of any other Choir, would have Fallen many times over.
A Dark Malakite could always try, of course. He cannot ascend to Heaven, but he can attempt to invoke his former Superior, though it would be at -10 since he is not really a Servitor of that or any other Archangel any more. But remember what it takes to become Dark. Even a forgiving Superior like Novalis is sure to destroy a Dark Malakite; the effort it would take to remove so much Discord would be taxing even for an Archangel (more than they'd exert to purify a dozen less corrupted Servitors), and Dark Malakim are just too dangerous to let live.
The only other hope for a Dark Malakite is to gain more Forces, enough to equal his Discord in at least one area. If this happens, he will immediately become a true Malakite again, albeit an Outcast, heavily-Discordant one. No Dark Malakite is known to have lived long enough to do this, and even if one did, he would still probably be too far gone to avoid termination.
No angel can have more Discord of any one type than the sum of their Forces, which puts an effective limit of three times an angel's Forces in Discord, total. It's possible that unusual situations could inflict even more Discord on a Dark Malakite, to the point that he's reached his limit in all three types of Discord, and beyond. What happens then?
This is another one of Heaven's unanswered questions, because it's never happened. Would the Dark Malakite simply keep accumulating Discord, beyond the limits previously thought possible? Would he self-destruct as his Forces disintegrate under the weight of so much Discord? Or would this finally shatter his Heart...causing a former Malakite to Fall?
Hell would dearly love to know the answer, and Heaven would like to make sure no one ever finds out.