And I Feel Fine - Part 13: The Chimera Riders
"The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from
the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth
angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the
great river Euphrates." And the four angels who had been kept ready for
this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third
of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I
heard their number. The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like
this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as
sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of
their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed
by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their
mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails;
for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict
injury. The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still
did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping
demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that
cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their
magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts."
-- Revelation 9:13-21
There's a minor Tether in Iraq, not far from Bagdad, near the ruins of
Babylon. Years ago, longer ago than an archeologist would believe,
people tried to build a tower to Heaven there. Something happened, and
they failed. The Something was a Divine Intervention, which did not in
itself create a Tether. Rather, the Tether was created by the great
human effort just prior to the Intervention.
It would have made a good Tether to Technology, but that Word was not
held by anyone yet. Instead, it became a Tether to Lightning. Jean was
displeased, since the humans had been trying for just the kind of
peek-at-the-back-of-the-book hubris he discourages. He was able to
shuffle it off to Raphael, and the place became a minor Tether to
Knowledge. The renowned scholarship of Babylonian astrologer-priests
helped stablize it. Yves inherited it when Raphael died and Destiny
took over large parts of the territory of Knowledge.
Yves let it stay a minor Tether, but he sent four angels to keep the
Senechal company, and he gave those angels very special powers and
responsibilities. Using Songs and tricks discovered by the Grigori and
anonymously forwarded to him by Semyaza, Yves set the four angels to
dancing in and out of Limbo, performing rites to harvest Essence and
generating vessels. Very strange vessels. Two hundred million of
them. Eli dropped by from time to time...
Centuries passed. The Tribulations began. The War heated up and the
world divided into a patchwork of territories, some held by the
Antichrist, some held by his foes. Early on, Therrian made sure to
capture Jerusalem, Mecca, Antioch, Medina, and as much of the Holy Lands
in general as he could.
It didn't help.
Sometime in the latter half of the Tribulation, a Heavenly cavalry
erupts from the Lost Tether of the Tower of Babel. Of course, Lucifer
and Therrian are expecting the cavalry, but each and every lion-headed
horse has all the Corporeal and Celestial Songs of Motion built into it,
in addition to their breath-weapons and venomous tails. And each one
carries a warrior saint or avenging angel on its back.
Soon, the cavalry of chimerae is dispersed all over the globe. Soon,
the Holy Lands are held by Heaven's forces, and people begin flying and
teleporting into them from all over the globe. Therrian forms a similar
concentration in Italy, centering on Rome.
The horse/lion chimerae are all level 6 vessels. Each has the Corporeal
and Celestial Songs of Motion built in, so they can fly and teleport.
The vessels act as artifacts, so the chimera can teleport the rider to
any place the rider has been. The fire breath acts like Gabriel's Smite
attunement, and the snake-headed tail does 2d6 body hits with its bite.
The chimera vessel is capable of speech, but the soul animating it may
not be, since, most often, it is a blessed animal's soul. Next commonest
are Ethereals aligned with Heaven. Third come relievers, often in the
role of familiar to the rider. Blessed human souls, Saints, and angels
are also possibilities.
The riders themselves are usually angels, but may be Saints. PCs could
wind up as either chimerae or riders, if they wish.
Roleplaying seed: Demonic Detection
Lucifer has read Revelation; he is virtually certain that a fifth of a
billion Heavenly cavalry will show up, sometime soon, somewhere in the
Euphrates area. He has Baal send some spies (demonic PCs) to try to pin
down exactly where and when. Laurence sends counter-intelligence agents
(angelic PCs) to make sure they don't stumble upon the Lost Tether of
Babel, or, if they do, that they don't recognize it as the cavalry
launch point, or don't live to report it.
Roleplaying seed: Holding Action
As soon as the chimerical cavalry starts bursting out of the Euphrates
Tether, the forces of Hell will converge on them. How well-prepared
Hell is depends on how successful Baal's agents were in the preceeding
adventure. If PCs are interested in being, or fighting, chimera-riders,
this is the place to start. Since the chimerae can teleport, Song
combat is going to be very important, as the only practical way of
pinning them down.
Since there are *200,000,000* chimerae, this will be a long-drawn-out
conflict, lasting days or weeks. It is also likely that, having come to
the Euphrates Tether to collect their chimera, angels will then go to
some *other* Heavenly Tether to actually descend. So chimerae will leak
out all over the globe, eventually.
Roleplaying seed: Chimerae on the Battlefield
Soon, there are 200 million flying, teleporting chimerae (minus
casualties) flitting around the many battlefields of Tribulation Earth,
carrying avenging angels. Cavalry may sound old-fashioned, but not with
those tricks at its command. And the angels on their backs are packing
anything from firey swords to Lightning-Labs ultra-tech zap-guns.
Of course, the demons and Hellsworn they're up against are packing
Vapu-tech zap-guns, and riding mecha, Ogres, and so forth, so the battle
isn't entirely one-sided.
The battle becomes still less one-sided when Baal and the other warlike
princes begin manufacturing the Hellish equivalents of Heaven's
chimerae. These beast-vessels are quite varied in appearance, though
variations on the classic dragon are commonest. Since Hell has not
spent millenia stockpiling them, they have far fewer monster vessels,
but they make them even more loaded with tricks.
These dragon cavalry can be animated by demons (including PC volunteers
or draftees), but demonlings are commoner, and commonest are
Force-stripped damned souls that have been degraded to bestial levels,
Hell's nearest equivalent to animals.
Note again the huge number of chimerae. A fifth of a billion. That's
one chimera for every thirty humans alive now; after all the losses of
the Tribulation and the Rapture, the ratio gets even larger. So it
isn't surprising that the chimera cavalry can kill off a third of the
remaining human population.
The other thing the chimera cavalry does is move people around. Soon,
almost nobody is in Therrian-held territory unless they want to be. The
battle lines of Heaven and Hell used to run through every house and
every human heart, infinitely crinkly, like a fractal curve; now they
are becoming plainer and plainer.
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