When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Balseraph

By James Walker


When I grow up, I want to be a Balseraph.

Balseraphs don't lie.

It's a strange truth. A demonling who learns the Lying skill had best avoid becoming a Balseraph - if he is foolish enough to do so he will be twisted by Dissonance whenever he uses the skill. Demons make great liars - so long as they are not Balseraphs.

Balseraphs really don't lie.

Nor do the smartest demonlings. Where's the point? It's not like anyone will believe you. Lying is pointless. The truth is pointless. The only thing that matters is that some people are bigger than you are and they hurt you when they feel like it.

How do you stop them feeling like hurting you?

A demonling lives in a demon's world. Everything around him is owned by beings much bigger and more powerful than himself. Whenever he makes a mistake, he gets punished. When a demon storms in demanding to know why the demonling has taken something, he's in trouble. Unless...

He lies? No. He tells the 'truth'? No.

What will either achieve? The demon has already made up his mind. The demon says I stole the cup? Then clearly I stole the cup. Do I have the cup? Yes? Then yes, I TOOK the cup, because I thought that if I polished it you'd be pleased. I'm sorry. Should I finish polishing it? No? Is there any other way I can show I'm loyal?

Perhaps I don't have the cup. But I stole it - the demon says so, and if I contradict him he'll hit me. Perhaps: "He made me take it, he wanted it himself, so he made me take it and then ran off with it! Who is he? [insert name of bigger demonling who demon will believe the worst of - that's almost anybody]. The last I saw he was going..."

Of course, the cup may have been misplaced. But our little demonling isn't foolish enough to say that. If he finds the cup, he can hide it in the lair of the framed demonling. See? He did take it!

In game terms, this is Fast-Talk being twisted. In roleplaying terms, it's something much deeper. The demonling lives in a world where everybody is bigger and stronger and brighter than he is.

And they're always right.

If the demon believes that the demonling is guilty, then he's guilty. This is clearly true, because he gets punished. That's what 'guilty' means, after all. It doesn't have anything to do with what you've done. If he doesn't punish you then you are innocent. So the demon can never be wrong.

The only place they aren't always in control is in his mind. They normally control his mind, of course; his emotions are the toys of the habbalah, his beliefs the toys of the balseraphs. Still, his mind is the closest thing the demonling has to a possession. He can't control who tramps through it, any more than he can prevent a demon wandering into whatever hovel or cardboard box he calls home; but he gets to choose what to hang on the walls. When a Balseraph tells him that he's better off telling the truth, he must believe - but he can decide what the truth means. The demonling masters the intricacies of helltongue; the innuendoes and implications, learns to shift the emotional baggage associated with words.

There's nothing 'relative' about the demonlings view of the world. He feels the soft song of his personal symphony, knows that what he perceives as the truth is true - in his symphony. He knows that bigger demons have stronger symphonies, so what they say is true, because they can enforce their world on him.

And strongest of all is God.

But not different.

The demonling who aspires to being a Balseraph knows something that makes a Habbalah's delusions seem quite reasonable - every Balseraph is God. They speak the word, and it becomes so. Unfortunately, their Symphony is smaller than God's, so they're at a disadvantage. For now. But Lucifer is playing well; how long before he defeats God?

And Lucifer must win, because he says he's the First Balseraph. If God was mightier, then Lucifer would only be the second Balseraph, and claiming to be the First would cause him dissonance.

So the demonling feels smug about his future. But not complacent. Who created the world he is walking through? Did he? if not, then he is in another Balseraph's world. A world created for the benefit of that Balseraph. Maybe he is a brain in a vat, deluded by a rival. Sure, he's walked past the banks of vats with brains in them, but wouldn't you put that image in the world, to ensure complacency? Paranoid world that he lives in - better become a Balseraph quickly, so that he can protect himself.....


Back to the INC Mainpage.
Back to the Resources page.

Send mail to the Curator