The world is no place for hothouse flowers. Be like the
weeds and fend for yourself.
The outcome was never really in doubt.
No one really knows why Belial did it. Maybe he was having a really bad day Word friction-wise, maybe he lost a bet with Kobal. The secret of the why went up in flames with the what as the Demon Prince of Fire torched an entire old-growth forest and all the animals that lived there and all the campers and hikers who picked the wrong day to enjoy nature. As Belial bathed in the flames and laughed, the other Princes started placing bets on whether Jordi or Zadkiel would show up to pound on him first. When Novalis arrived, Kronos smiled and raked in the Essence.
The fight was one-sided from the beginning. There stood Belial, a towering figure covered with cinders and crowned with flames. Novalis faced him in the form of a bronze-skinned Madonna with golden eyes. The Calabite went celestial and gestured obscenely to his foe. Come get some, honey, he said.
Novalis smiled, then her Vessel melted away to reveal the shaped of a winged dryad. The two celestial forms crashed together, Archangel and Demon Prince each trusting the power of their Words, and the battle began in earnest.
Three things were forgotten that day. Belial forgot that Novalis was a Cherub and how fiercely that Choir of protectors will fight to defend their charges. He also forgot that there were forests before there were forest fires and that, despite the fires' best efforts, the forests were still there.
Novalis forgot to try kindness first.
When it was over, the smoke faded away taking with it the wisps of Belial s shattered Forces. Novalis picked herself up and licked the ichor and ashes from her hand. She remembered how it felt to rip Belial apart and shuddered with sensuous delight. Then she noticed the silence that engulfed her and looked down at herself. A purple-black the color of fresh bruises spread across her spring-green skin. The leaves that adorned her perfectly formed head shriveled into thorns. Worst of all were the brambles that sprang up wherever her feet touched the earth. The new Djinn let forth a howl of rage and anguish before she vanished from the Corporeal plane.
The assembled Princes stood in awe at her victory, except for Lilith, who turned to Baal and arched one magnificent eyebrow. The Prince of the War grumbled and swore under his breath, and then humbly accepted the Geas.
It was several weeks later when a figure dressed in red stepped daintily through fetid wetland. A path marked by twisted mangroves led the way to a curtain of plump, wet vines that moved disturbingly, almost seeming to breathe, in the sticky hot wind. The brightly clad interloper parted the vines to see a clearing. There in the center sat Novalis surrounded by swamp weeds and carnivorous plants. She raised her head as the figure in scarlet came over and stood in front of her.
I can't hear them anymore, she said, The voice of the grass, the songs of the flowers, even the hum of the trees. All the plants that told me every day how much they loved me, they're all gone. She gestured to the rank growth surrounding her. All I hear is the noise of these wretched things screaming out their demands for air and water and light. She got up and paced the clearing. The world I nurtured, the peace I worked for, they've forgotten me. All because I killed that - that disease! Novalis stopped pacing when she noticed the weeds turning their faces toward her as if she were the Sun. It's not fair! I didn't mean to kill him. But it felt so right, she whined, and stood eye to eye with her visitor. It felt so good, she moaned.
The figure in red put out a hand and stroked Novalis cheek. There, there, you poor dear, it said, I believe in you. I've always believed in you. And whether or not those stupid plants care about you, I'll always care. The scarlet wrapped itself around them both, and for a time the voices of the weeds were stilled.
Afterward, Novalis found that she had no strength left with which to summon remorse. The weight of apathy settled over her soul and hardness armored her heart. When Andrealphus took her hand to lead her down to Hell, she did not resist.
Demons of Thorns are expected to "grow" wherever they're "planted." Relying on others to get their needs met gains them Dissonance (getting one's needs met by exploiting others is fine). Novalis doesn't care if her servants are discontent, but they'd better not complain. In the organization of Thorns, griping causes black marks on one's soul as well as one's record. It's a shame that there's so much in Hell to gripe about.
Novalis' Liars can use their Resonance to project visual and olfactory illusions around plants so as to make toxic or otherwise harmful plants appear innocuous. For example, they can create the appearance of a bed of grass over a patch of poison ivy or make a bouquet of roses look as if they've been dethorned. They can also cause drug-sniffing dogs to ignore any amount of plant-based pharmaceuticals.
Djinn (Partially Restricted)
These nature-oriented Stalkers are difficult to track while moving through foliage or across grass. Any attempt to detect them by sight, hearing or scent suffers a penalty equal to the Djinn's Celestial Forces. They also suffer no visibility penalties for looking at an object of their attunement through foliage.
Plants have been known to split concrete or even solid rock simply by growing through them. Calabim of Thorns can accelerate this process. By spending Essence and making a successful attack roll (Thrown Weapons), they can cause a seed to take root and grow into the body of a target. The resulting growth does one Body Hit per turn for a number of turns equal to the demon's Corporeal Forces times the Essence spent. Removing the plant does additional damage equal to the CD of the attack roll.
Habbalah of Thorns can use their Resonance to inflict pain. Victims feel as if their flesh is being rent by thorns. This does no damage, but it imposes a distraction penalty on all rolls equal to the Habbalite's Celestial Forces.
The Tempters of Novalis like to seal their deals with a kiss. Once this is done, a successful Will roll makes the victim forget what favor he owes and to whom until the Lilim calls it. Geasa and Geas-hooks held by Lilim of Thorns look like bracelets of flowers when viewed celestially (Geasa have thorns, Geas-hooks do not) and can only be seen after a successful Perception roll.
Shedim in the service of Thorns can possess plants. Full-grown trees are always suitable. With smaller plants, the demon requires an area at least (total Forces) feet in radius. These Corrupters don't have to spur their vegetable Hosts to acts of depravity because their mere presence corrupts; a possessed plant will appear visibly blighted after (demon's Corporeal Forces) days. No roll is required to possess a plant, but those that have been somehow attuned to Heaven cannot be possessed at all.
Novalis' Takers can exude soporific pheromones by spending 1 Essence per person to be effected. Each victim gets a Strength roll to resist; Celestials and Ethereals add their Celestial Forces. Those who fail to resist the pheromones have -2 each to Will and Perception for (Impudite's total Forces) minutes.
Flowers of Evil
Servitors of Novalis can imbue ordinary flowers with a portion of their personal Symphonies. By succeeding on a Will roll and spending 1 Essence, the demon can create a token that encourages selfishness in anyone who holds or wears it (demons are immune, of course). The subject has a penalty of -1 on all rolls to resist selfish behavior. Flowers of Evil are not detectable as Relics. The effect lasts for one day, after which the flower withers and dies.
The demon is specially attuned to a specific patch of ground, which must be bare soil or covered with plants. If the demon is standing on that spot at the proper time, the daily Essence recharge is doubled. The demon can also use her Home Soil as a Reliquary with a capacity equal to her total Forces x 3. The area of Home Soil is (demon's total Forces) feet in radius. Home Soil cannot be moved save by Novalis or one of her Harvesters.
A demon of Thorns whose Vessel is damaged need not wait for normal healing or disturb the Symphony with a Song of Healing while the Sun shines. The rate of healing varies with how much of the Vessel's skin is exposed to sunlight; normal clothing allows one Body Hit per two hours, a T-shirt and shorts would be good for one Hit per hour, and nude or nearly so is worth two Hits per hour. This Attunement only works in natural sunlight. Otherwise, it is constantly active whenever the demon is wounded.
Wheat and Tares
A Servitor with this Attunement can see connections between Humans as spiritual vines binding them together. The state of these vines - green and flowering or black and withering - tells the demon which relationships will probably lead the subject to his Destiny and which are most likely to drag him to his Fate. The demon must first be attuned to the subject (via the Djinn Resonance or a Song of Affinity) and then spend 3 Essence to activate Wheat and Tares.
Knight of Weeds
The demon can spend 1 Essence to see what sin or vice the subject is most prone to. He may then add his Celestial Forces to any attempt to encourage the subject to indulge in that activity. This Essence expenditure does not disturb the Symphony.
Captain of Roses
The simple giving of a gift - a plant, of course - allows the demon to attune to its holder as through a Song of Affinity. The attunement lasts for as long as the plant remains alive and in the subject's possession (but not necessarily on her person) or until the demon makes a successful Will roll to break it (with the same consequences for failure that apply to the Djinn Resonance). Demons attuned to a subject via this Distinction are free to harm the subject, but may not harm the plant. Attunements gained in this manner don't count toward a Djinn's total.
Baron of Bitter Roots
The holder of this Distinction is totally immune to all plant-based drugs and toxins. He may still enjoy the beneficial or recreational effects thereof if he wishes. This immunity may be conferred on someone else with a touch. The effect lasts for (recipient's Corporeal Forces x 5) minutes but can be revoked at will. The Baron may inflict the deleterious effects of a plant-based chemical that is currently in his system on someone else with a successful Will roll. The victim gets a Strength roll to resist; Celestials and Ethereals add their Corporeal Forces.
This is the only Higher Distinction that Novalis offers. The one additional power that it grants is the ability to change the location of a demon's Home Soil. The demon is saddled with numerous responsibilities, but the increased authority and privilege more than compensate for this nuisance. All Harvesters are powerful Word-bound demons with at least one other Distinction. Many are Songmasters as well.
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