A Matter of Faith

By Ryan Roth


Despite the heavy rain that soaked the city streets he walked through, Henry was, for the first time in many long, hard years, wonderfully happy. And he owed this joy the man he followed now into the West Side Diner. Excuse me, the angel he followed. Despite his faith and chosen occupation, he could still barely believe it. But God showed him the Truth, had sent a messenger to him, and he had no doubts now. He had seen the angel in its full glory, and now the angel (after assuming human form) was taking him away to give him an important message. A message directly from God. Henry felt honored and proud to be singled out for such a message -- whatever it might be. He knew, in his heart, that God had always smiled upon his holy work, and now God had something to tell him.

His work was, and had been, his whole life. It cost him dearly; his job, his wife, his son - these had all abandoned him. All he had left was his faith - the belief that his was doing God's work. This faith had never wavered; it sustained him every day. His faith buoyed his spirits when the passersby jeered at him, when he was insulted and yelled at. It carried him when he was attacked by street children last year and nearly died. It still hurt to walk, and was painful to stand each day on the street corner, preaching the words of God's Holy Bible to every person who could hear him. He ignored the pain, though, and he ignored the weight of his sixty-five years, for he had a mission. It was his mission to speak the words of God, and try every day to spread His divine message.

As he followed the angel into the diner, he clutched his well-worn Bible even closer to him. It was a gesture he often repeated, and it always helped him remember his faith.

The angel took a seat in a far corner booth, and indicated for Henry to sit across from him. Henry did so, placing his Bible on the table in front of him. He kept is right hand on it for comfort; it looked as if he was expected to be sworn in to some special service. Perhaps that is what he expected.

No waitress bothered coming to the table. As if sensing his anticipation, the angel was the first to speak.

"Henry William Taylor, I have a message. Are you ready to receive the words of God and Heaven?"

Henry didn't hesistate. "I am ready. Please tell me what my Lord and God wishes me to know."

Henry was surprised to see the angel's expression change; up until now, the angel's face had been impassive, almost like an alabaster statue. Now, though, his face bore a look of incredible pity. It was an expression Henry had seen on people who were speaking to terminally-ill patients, or victims of accidents that had mutilated their bodies. The expression scared him, and he realized that he didn't want to hear was was coming.

"Henry Willion Taylor, the Lord wishes you to know that the words and message you have been spreading are based on lies."

Shock and confusion showed on Henry's face. "No..." was all he could manage.

The angel shook his head sadly. "It is True, Henry. For the past forty years you have preached the words contained within that book. But that book was never written by God, Henry, it was written by men."

"But God gave them the words! He directed them to set down His Message!"

Another sad head shake. "No Henry, He did not. Consider how much of that book is devoted to rules regarding moral behavior - rules which today are considered barbaric. Consider how much of that book is devoted to pointless geneological histories and outdated codes of priestly duties. Do you really think that God, who is All-Knowing, would direct humanity to follow rules that would not stand the test of time?"


"There are no 'buts', Henry." The angel's voice was firmer now, almost angry. "That book was written by men. They had no directive from God. They were simply trying to establish control over the populace they lived in. By claiming their rules came from God, they gained credibility. It was a very old trick, Henry. Men have used it at the start of every religion. They constructed a code of behavior that they wanted people to follow, and then wrapped it up in fairy tales and parables to make people believe in it. And if they didn't believe it, they were stoned as heretics."

Henry realized that the angel hated the book -- hated what it represented and what humanity had done with it. Instinctively, he removed his hand from the cover.

Meekly, he asked, "What, then, about Jesus?"

The compasion came back to the angel's face. "There was never a Jesus, Henry. He was purely fictional. Many years after the religion was established, there was a group of young people who were unsatisfied with the priesthood. They wanted to establish their own moral code. They didn't have the political strength to force a change, so they did what their predecessors did - they invented a story. They invented Jesus, Henry, complete with a magic birth and tragic death. They told the story of Jesus over and over, and eventually it got written down. And people began to believe it. The only message Jesus ever brought to humanity was theirs."

The angel continued as Henry sat in silence. "I should point out, though, that Christianity is not the only religion based on such lies. Judaism, Islam - they too are false. Early experiments in population control, if you will. Any religion or man which claims to know the mind and will of God is lying to you, Henry, for God is by definition unknowable. God never wanted any man or woman to restrict the actions of their lives to some ancient moral code."

Tears were streaming down Henry's face now in rivers. "WHY?! Why did God allow this? Why did He let such lies exist? Why....why did let me waste my life?" Henry's voice was loud, but no one in the diner seemed to hear.

The angel's voice was full of compassion. "All God ever wanted of humanity was for each person to exercise his own free will. He wanted every person to do exactly what they felt like doing. He wanted them to enjoy their lives by making the choices they really wanted to make. And since these 'religions' came about by men making choices, He decided not to interfere. Men chose to make the religons. Men chose to follow them. He decided to honor their choice, even when people began to throw their lives away because of it. Which brings us to you, Henry."

The angel reached over and held Henry's shoulder. "God has compassion, Henry. He knows that you have been spending your life in a truely worthless endeavor. And He knows that you are doing it only because you love Him. He can no longer watch you suffer so. So He sent me. He sent me to tell you the Truth, so that you needn't waste anymore of your life. He wants you to stop, stop preaching lies, stop suffering. Stop, and do the the things you always wanted to do -- the things your 'mission' kept you from. There is no God-given moral code, Henry. God loves you regardless of your actions."

Henry stood up abruptly, shaking off the hand on his shoulder. "How could He? How could He?" The ambigious question hung in the air as Henry turned and left the diner, entering the rain-battered streets. The angel made no move to follow. Henry had left behind his Bible, but the angel ignored it.

Instead the angel watched Henry from the window, reading his Fate for the last time. The foolish man was past the point of no return now - in less than a half hour he would commit suicide by jumping from a bridge, which would in turn cause a massive automobile accident on the wet streets below. More than forty people would die in the accident. And Henry would find himself in Hell.

"I do so love watching you work, Israphane. My congratulations."

The angel -- excuse me, the demon -- turned back to the seat which Henry recently vacated. "Thank you, my Lord Lightbringer. I am sure Kronos will be as pleased as you are."

"Indeed. The preacher had almost reached his Destiny. I am glad you were available to take care of this business."

"I am always at your service, my Lord." The demon indictated the book in front of him. "Please, why don't you keep that as a memento of the occassion - I doubt Henry will need it anymore."

"I believe I will. But tell me, Israphane, why are you not pleased as well? Normally you are much more satisfied at the end of an assignment - especially one that went as smoothly as this one has."

The demon looked out the window into the rain, a whistful expression on his face. "To be honest, my Lord, sometimes I think my job is just too damn easy."

Israphane turned back to look at his master and smiled a long, sinister smile. "Sometimes."

Calabite Demon of Broken Faith

Corporeal Forces: 6
Strength: 12
Agility: 12
Ethereal Forces: 6
Intelligence: 12
Precision: 12
Celestial Forces: 6
Will: 12
Perception: 12

Suggested Word-Forces: Lots -- Israphane is almost a Prince himself

Vessels: Middle-aged Human male/6, Old Human female/6, Sparrow/3, Young girl/5, potentially many more

Roles: All of Israphane's Human vessels carry a Role/1. Occasionally he will be given a temporarily higher Role if his assignment calls for it.

Discord: None (see Calabim of Fate Attunement)

Skills: Computer Operation/3, Detect Lies/6, Dodge/6, Driving/3, Emote/6, Fast-talk/6, Fighting/5, Knowledge(Religions)/6, Knowledge(Angelic Lore)/6, Knowledge(Demonic Lore)/6, Knowledge(Psychology)/6, Large Weapon/3, Lying/6, Saviour-Faire/6, Seduction/4, Tactics/6

Songs: Attraction(all)/4, Charm(all)/6, Entropy(all)/5, Light(all)/6, Motion(all)/6, Shields(all)/6, Tongues(all)/6, Thunder/6. Israphane has been known to use many songs of Numinous Corpus as well.

Special Rites: Destroy a belief (+1, usable 3 times a day); Destroy every major belief a person has about something (+3); Get another to attack someone's beliefs; Vessel or soul-kill an angel of Faith (+3); Destory the faith of any angel (+5)

Note: These are only the Songs, Vessels, and Skills Israphane has be observed to use - potentially he has many more tricks up his sleeve. Given his status in Hell, he could also very easily call for the use of any common artifact available in Hell -- he usually has at least one Reliquary on him as an Essence reserve.

Attunements: Knight of Judgement(from Asmodeus), Calabim of Factions(from Malphas), Balseraph of Fate (Mercurian), Calabim of Fate, Impudite of Fate, Fated Future, Baron of the Book of Days (Israphane has been granted this distinction many times - he is knowledgable of every century where a major religon was founded or had major changes. Kronos has modified the Distinctions to allow Israphane knowledge that is more than two thousand years old), Demon of Broken Faith.

Demon of Broken Faith: Israphane has learned to use his resonance to attack faith itself. It is very similar to the way Calabim of Factions can attack relationships, except that in this case the relationship is with God. The damage is also permanent. By engaging a target in conversation about any particular belief that person has, Israphane can attempt to destroy that belief. The demon must first convince the person that there is room for doubt - this can be a Lying, Fast-Talk or Emote roll, depending on his tactics. If the victim fails to resist this opening roll, Israphane can attack the belief. Each round of conversation thereafter, Israphane makes a resonance roll, adding up the damage. If the victim can resist the resonance roll, the damage to the belief under attack is negated and Israphane takes a note of Dissonance. This Dissonace will disappear if Israphane can later destroy any belief that person has.

When the damage Israphane does to a person's faith exceeds the number of Soul hits the person has, that belief is destroyed. If Israphane does this a number of times equal to the victim's total Celestial Forces, that person's entire belief system collapses.

Note that the beliefs do not have to concern God - Israphane can attack a person's belief in their friends, for example. In addition to attacking faiths, this attunement also extends Israphane's Balseraph Attunement, allowing him to use the Mercurian resonance to determine a person's relationship (faith) with God. There has never been a case where a belief destroyed by Israphane has ever been rebuilt - it may be impossible.

There are some demons who aren't really that bad. They don't embrace the cause Hell entirely. They wonder about Heaven, and sometimes seek Redemption.

And then there are some demons who are completely and totally evil down to their very core. Sometimes these demons catch Lucifer's notice, and, if they are skilled enough at spreading that evil, Lucifer will gather them up to be his personal Servitors. Israphane is one such demon.

Israphane began as a Calabite of Fate. His early career was marked by two traits: an odd ability to work well with demons of other Words, and a considerable hatred of God and Heaven. Kronos would often sent Israphane to coordinate with other Princes, and when the job was over, those Princes would always be pleased with Israphane's performance. The Calabite frequently recieved rewards from the Princes he worked with, and Kronos was satisfied enough to allow him to keep those rewards. The key to his success in these situations was an understanding of the Princes involved; Israphane had a considerable knack for knowing not only what the Princes wanted, but how they wanted it done. Israphane was rewarded many times over and many times other Princes attempted to gain his service, but Israphane always remained loyal to Fate. To date, Israphane has never failed an assignment.

Five centuries ago, Israphane was noticed by Lucifer. Israphane had just recieved his Calabim of Factions attunement, and was attempting to extend its use. He could attack relationships, he realized, but faith is just a relationship someone has with God. So he could attack that as well. Israphane's first success was observed by Lucifer, who prompty congratulated the Calabite, granted him his word, and offered him a position as one of Lucifer's own. Kronos was displeased to lose such a valued Servitor, but, naturally, did not object.

Since then, Israphane has expanded his word to include things such as Broken Promises and Betrayal. In fact, Israphane befriended the Demon of Betrayal, only (of course) to stab him in the back. And Lucifer has kept him busy, sending him out to destroy those with dangerously strong beliefs. Over time, Israphane has gained enough power to very nearly qualify him as a Prince himself.

Israphane loves his job - so much so that he is unlikely to accept a Princedom should Lucifer offer him one (Lucifer, of course, knows this). The Calabite feels that being a Prince would mean having to delegate too much responsibility, and never having the time to really enjoy spreading his Word. As it stands, he is perfectly happy to act as one of Lucifer's top troubleshooters - the benefits he gains from Lucifer's favor are enormous, and to this day he still gets a giddy thrill at the sound of someone's faith cracking under his Will. He has come to distain physical destruction entirely -- his joy now comes only from the destruction of intagibles.

You might think that a demon like Israphane would be at the top of Khalid's hit-list. Well, you'd be half-right. Every angel of Faith has heard about Israphane, because Khalid has issued standing orders not to engage the demon. Any angel who has positively located Israphane is to retreat immediately and summon Khalid at the first available opportunity. Being in the presence of Israphane should be considered a +5 invocation modifier for Khalid.

Khalid was forced to issue these orders because of Israphane's track record. In the past century alone, the Calabite has soul-killed over a dozen angels of Faith, and has lead five of Khalid's Servitors to Fall. Four of those five were Word-bound, and Khalid has been unable to replace them. Khalid feels that the Words those angels held will not be available until Israphane is destroyed. Khalid himself has never had the opportunity to confront Israphane, but considering how strong the Calabite is and how favored he is with Lucifer, it is an open question who would win such a conflict.


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