Athena's Device

By Moe Lane


It's amazing what you find when you clean out the closets.

The Roman goddess Athena was doing her usual housecleaning (well, temple-cleaning) when she came across something that she could swear wasn't there last century. What it was, nobody in Heaven or Hell is quite sure ... but very shortly after she found whatever-it-was, three Tethers to Nightmares exploded quite messily.

This has obviously managed to catch the interest of both sides. Normally, one side or the other would send a raiding party to 'acquire' whatever-it-is... well, actually, they did. The ones from Heaven came back tight-lipped and refusing to talk to anyone except Michael (the one who sent them) and Dominic. Shortly after their debriefing, further expeditions to that particular part of the Marches were forbidden until further notice.

The ones from Hell didn't come back at all.

Now, there isn't a Superior on either side that's willing to let this slide, so naturally they're all planning to quietly send another expedition. Unlike the first ones, anyone sent this time is just supposed to scout and report back, avoiding an open confrontation at all costs. Well, an open confrontation with the Olympians: a little discreet conflict with certain rival reconnaissance parties might be necessary. Try not to look too obvious.

Now, if the PCs aren't sufficiently unnerved at the fact that apparently Michael and Dominic are actually agreeing on something, they will be after they start encountering gibbering, quite mad celestials on their way. None of them will have any real information to give: contradictory information and wild ravings is definitely called for, here. The PCs will almost certainly be quite nervous as they reach Olympus...

... and find it deserted, and already starting to fade away. It would seem that the Greek gods have finally died. A quick examination of the area will seem to indicate that the end was quick, and strangely nonviolent: we're talking about the standard "supper laid out and a pot left to boil over" kind of mass vanishing here. However, there simply aren't any real clues, so eventually even the most thorough party will eventually conclude that there's nothing left to see here and return to base.

Unfortunately, they can't seem to find it now - and the landscape is starting to look strange, even for the ethereal plane - and every so often there seems to be a whisper on the wind that they can't quite make out...

Now, GMs that were planning to incorporate some good, old-fashioned horror into their IN campaigns anyway can easily insert their versions of the Evil Even Worse Than Hell here and go for a resolution. For the rest, well, there's nothing like an Elder God or two to spice things up. Needless to say, springing this on players who won't appreciate it is contraindicated, but you knew that anyway.

If you simply must have a Scooby-Doo version, however, then the Greek gods aren't actually dead, just relocated. Athena apparently came across an old artifact of Vulcan's that would allow all of them to create a more secure stronghold: unfortunately, it required the life force of a Seneschal to be operated. This wasn't considered wise (or really needed) at the time, but that was before the Crusade. Anyway, as Athena doesn't much like Beleth, anyway, the choice of whom to grab and sacrifice was obvious. It just took a couple tries to bag one alive, that's all. The Heavenly raiding party appeared just in time to see Athena power things up: Michael and Dominic put a lid on the report until they could figure out countermeasures.

Meanwhile, any celestial in the area (which will include the PCs) is being whapped with Songs that induce insanity, the better to confuse the issue. If the PCs can just figure things out (and break the damned artifact) before they get driven mad, the situation gets resolved. The mad celestials will probably even recover in the end. See? There's a rational enough answer, after all.

I still think that Elder Gods would be cooler, though.


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