The Chapel of Lost Familiars

By James Walker


The smell is the first thing to strike you - the unpleasant odour of thousands of verminous animals. Above you, bats wheel through the chapel, gliding down to the countless cages of the other creatures, before their pinions bear them up to their own cages in the belfry - unless one decides that flying into your face would be amusing. Flinching from the bats, knowing that no real bat would make that mistake, you see a cat prowling in its cage, hellish eyes focused on the rat in the next cage. Suddenly the rat ceases cowering, and leaps to the door - its paws work an incredibly complicated puzzle lock fiendishly swiftly, and the rat scuttles free; racing across the floor it reaches a rat hole and begins the torturous climb to the belfry, to reply to the message from the bat. When next you patrol this aisle, the rat will have returned, locked itself in, and will once again be cowering from the cat - unless the cat has freed itself and is delivering a message. Behind you you hear a sharp squeak - another rat, a new one, has seen his compatriot 'escape' and sought to work his own puzzle lock - and received a light electric shock for his pains. He can barely be heard over the din; animals complaining, begging to be released - sometimes with their animal yowls, more often in Helltongue. You will probably be on duty here for years - but then this is a punishment assignment. You really shouldn't have ticked off your Superior, Novalis...

Kyriotates often need to get in contact with each in a hurry, but are low on free Forces for either possessing a host or taking Celestial form. They also have a habit of picking up the Vessels of Infernals, and not knowing what to do with them when they've finished their current task. The Chapel of Lost Familiars deals with both problems. Possessed Familiars (and Remnants) are brought here and caged; as they only possess a couple of Forces they are easily repossessed by Kyriotates whenever they wish to leave a message for their comrades; as angels can use their resonances via photographs and demons cannot, access is quite secure. Although living in the cages is far from ideal, it is preferable to suffering the whims of demonic or sorcerous master, so dissonance is not a problem.

Leaving messages is the biggest problem. Most of the familiars lack the manual dexterity to write, and the din makes tape recordings impractical. Generally the Kyriotates arrange beforehand to meet in the Chapel (sound proofed rooms are available for conferences) or leave a token with their personal symbol, indicating the need to talk.

The Chapel is maintained by Novalis; it provides a useful service to Heaven which would not be possible if the demonlings had been Vessel-killed, and so furthers her goals - to the limits of the demonlings potential. The demonlings lack the potential to Redeem, which is why they are left caged here; Novalis hopes that over time, the demonlings can slowly grow to the point where they can understand the concept. Of course, every time a demonling is possessed, it is projected to the base of Beleth's Tower, making attempts to Redeem them before the end of the War an unnecessary risk.

Kyriotates of every Superior use the Chapel, and it has existed for millennia, and so is filled with tens of thousands of Familiars and Remnants, all of them written off as dead by Hell. They're simply too insignificant to be worth the effort of rescuing. Even Superiors normally hostile to Novalis use the Chapel (it does prevent their Servitors getting dissonance, after all) so the wardens (generally Novalians who have been too violent for her liking) must deal with War faction angels 'buzzing' them with possessed bats and birds - 'just making sure that you're staying alert...'

It is punishment duty to be assigned here, after all!


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