And I Feel Fine - Part 7: The Locusts
"The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen
from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of
the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke
from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from
the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and
were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told
not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those
people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were
not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months.
And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion
when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will
not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. The
locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore
something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.
Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions'
teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound
of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots
rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in
their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had
as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is
Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon." -- Revelation 9:1-11
(Lacking any canonical name for it, I recommend the Grigori Archangel of
Song be called "Semyaza," after the leader of the Grigori in the Book of
Enoch. As Archangel of the Abyss, its name is either Abaddon or
Apollyon, according to Revelation 9:11. I recommend "Apollyon" to avoid
confusion with Abaddon as Saminga's domain in Hell. Thus this Archangel
would be referred to as Semyaza, Semyaza Apolyyon, or Apollyon,
depending on the Word to be emphasized.)
It stands on the topmost parapet of a tower. It looks like a young
woman in an elaborately embroidered grey gown, it but is no such thing.
Blandine raises her head, appearing to listen for a moment, then says,
A figure appears next to her. It looks like a young man made of liquid
gold, seven feet tall, but it is no such thing. He is robed in black.
Under one arm, he holds a circular harp, resembling a dreamcatcher.
"Welcome, Semyaza, Song," says the Archangel of Dream. She surveys the
churning sunset/sunrise/rainbow clouds of the Vale, not looking at him,
though the shape of his instrument is not lost on her. "What brings you
"My lady, I come with a request. A large one."
"I am also Archangel of the Abyss, and now is the time when I must open
that Abyss. But the manner of that opening is mine to determine. I
have an idea, but I need your leave to put it into action." He gestures
at the open air before them and a locust appears -- horse-sized,
human-faced, scorpion-tailed. "I would send my angels, in this form,
into the dreams of Therrian's servants. There, they would rob them of
rest and afflict them with terror, pain, the memories of recents sins,
and, it may be, guilt."
"So that they cry for death and do not find it?" Blandine asks. "I am
not in the business of fomenting nightmares, Apollyon."
"I know. But I am."
"What of she whose Word is Nightmare?"
Apollyon smiles. "Believe me, I do not stand in *her* tower, asking
Blandine shakes her head. "I mean, she will retaliate. You are
escalating the War, and in my realm."
"Indeed. I mean to. Call on Zadkiel for help, then, to defend your
dreamers. And Michael, Laurence, Gabriel, Janus. I think they will be
more than willing."
"And Beleth will call on Baal, Vapula, Valefor, and so on. More
Apollyon nods. "Indeed. If we could, we would draw every demon out of
Hell and into the Marches. Not that we expect Lucifer to leave his
house so emptied. But as much as we can."
"A feint? Is this some plan you have hatched with Michael?"
"I am even now discussing it with him. But may we have your
Blandine stands on her tower. But she also sits in the Seraphim
Council. There, she looks over at Apollyon, who is quietly listening to
Marc addressing the Council on logistical matters. Michael does the
same ... here, but doubtless sits talking with Apollyon in the Groves.
Blandine also stands before the Throne, robed in white, crowned with
gold -- robed in love, crowned with glory. She gazes into the Light
from the Throne. It gives no message, but it clears her thinking. It
is too late to protect the old. Let the new come. Therein lies hope.
"Go ahead. But a favor in return, Semyaza. I would hear you sing."
It is over three years since Belial died and the Upper Heavens opened.
The Saints, Grigori, and Grigorids have all been rallied. The 144,000
are nearly completed.
On Earth, the Four Horsemen rampage. Therrian's imperial UN reaches out
from Rome, controlling all the major cities and Therrian reigns, in
splendor and adulation hyped by an ecstatically busy Nybbas. Baal's
forces seek to gain territory for Therrian -- the smaller cities, towns,
farmlands; Michael's forces resist. Mammon and Valefor loot the world
for Therrian; Marc and Janus resist. Saminga sends zombie troops and
zombie labor everywhere; it's getting hard to keep them secret; Death
angels lead attacks on them more and more openly.
Then the dreams start. Singly and in swarms, locusts appear over and
over in the dreams of Therrian's human servants. They bring horribly
vivid sensations of pain, and memories of the dreamer's latest sins.
They leave exhaustion always, psychosomatic illness often.
Locusts sometimes haunt the dreams of Therrian's foes, too, but there
they generally attack figures that threaten the dreamer, driving them
away. Heroic monsters.
And what explanation can Therrian give for this plague of dreams,
without bringing in the supernatural and revealing the War? It's
depressingly easy: giant locusts have appeared all over the world, the
way UFOs used to do, only far more frequently. Most often, they are
seen at a distance, and always fleetingly. Sometimes, they appear next
to a particularly noxious person -- a noxious person left writhing in
pain and incapacitated for weeks afterward.
Therrian blames the resistance forces, without specifics. Multiple
rumors claim the resistance (or Therrian's own labs) have brewed up
monstrous robot vehicles, or transgenic horrors, or mind-addling
technologies. But plenty of people have read Revelation, and more
accurate rumors circulate, too.
The locusts appear on Earth because Apollyon has been handing them out
as bizarre vessels. The Archangel of the Abyss has given one to every
Grigori in existence, and to all its servitors of other choirs, and to
any other angel or saint that asks for one. So far, these heavenly
monsters have seldom appeared on Earth -- not NEVER, but SELDOM.
Mostly, they appear in dreams.
Roleplaying seed: Dream Wars
No matter what Word they serve, PCs may now be invited to go fight in
They may be attacking or defending individual dreamscapes. Heavenly PCs
should use the locust form as their default self-image.
They may be playing hide-and-seek Ethereal combat with small enemy
groups in random surreal landscapes of the Marches, especially if they
have been sent ahead as scouts. Such things can be spiced up with
appropriate artifacts and encounters with local Ethereals.
They may be swept up in mass combat in the Marches. Besides the obvious
scenes of mass melee, there is the challenge of *escaping* the battle,
if and when retreat is sounded, and everyone in the party is down to
their last few Mind Hits, and you have one or two points of Essence, at
most, among the lot of you.
The pagan pantheons and other Ethereal communities are bound to get
involved, whether they want to or not. PCs can be sent as diplomats,
asking for allies or negotiating passage through to other realms. Of
course, some Ethereal realms are solidly aligned with Beleth. But how
solidly, and can that be changed, now that unprecedented masses of
angels are invading the Marches?
Or PCs can infiltrate as spies, scouts, and saboteurs. Even totally
un-military PCs can arrive openly as missionaries (from either side) to
stir up appropriate feeling among the masses -- the dreamshades and
minor myth figures of a given realm.
Roleplaying seed: Bugging the Beast
Ever want to play an avenging angel in the form of a giant grasshopper?
Sure you have! *Really* leap tall buildings in a single bound as you
hop and fly through the streets of Therrian's "recovery centers,"
dealing out terror and agonizing stings to demons and hellsworn. Then
switch back to your old vessel and lay low. Or buzz out of town and
join a swarm of buddies, to attack a slave labor camp, military outpost,
or zombie factory.
Of course, every demon in Hell will be looking to Vapula for
insecticide. And your locust vessel is by no means invulnerable. And,
when you go celestial and vanish, you *may* find some recently-stung
Calabim have just done the same thing, and are waiting for you.
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