Cowardly - 2
Feris, an Impudite of the War, screwed up bigtime a little while back. It
was the sort of mistake that could have gotten him busted down to emptying
dumpsters in Shal-Mari for the next century or so, or worse... perhaps much
But his boss (a Balseraph Captain of the Infernal Armies, one Urhious by
name) just smiled at him. No problem, said Urhious. You'll get to stay on
Earth, my lad. And what's more, you're going to be privileged to
participate in a _very special_ experiment in logistical support..
Feris has two vessels and one Role: He's a toll collecter on a highway
just outside a major city. He works a shift in one vessel, then swaps to
another and works another; with overtime, this means that he's almost
always on the job.
His job is to be a living Essence battery for the demons of the city.
Feris' Role lets him chat briefly with hundreds of humans per day. As he
greets each one, in the few seconds as he leans out to smile hello, he
tries to Charm them; as he takes their change, he can try to drain a bit of
Essence. Hundreds of humans pass him every shift, so Feris can acquire
some startling amounts of Essence a day this way.
Stop at his toll booth, recite a line from T.S. Eliot's _Waste Land_, and
he'll give you 2 Essence. Recite one from Sylvia Plath, and he'll give you
5 Essence... but be careful; he reports these incidents to his Captain, and
you may get a visit from a 12-Force distincted Balseraph wanting to know
just why you needed that much. Most demons just take the lesser hit; he'll
distribute Essence once per demon per day, so they can always just come
back tomorrow for more.
Feris is very, very unhappy with his job, but he knows better than to
complain. Things are bad, but they could certainly be worse.
His boss, Captain Urhious, is delighted; he thinks he's discovered a
brilliant new strategy for generating Essnce *and* a clever new way to
punish wayward Impudites. He hasn't gotten around to telling his Baron
about it yet, though, because he wants to have a demonstrated success up
and running. Indeed, he's toying with the idea of skipping the Baron and
going directly to Baal...
Well, it _is_ clever, but not as clever as he thinks. What Urhious doesn't
know is that this trick has been tried before, and there are some problems
The biggest one, of course, is that Feris is a serious security risk. He
now knows the appearance, favorite vehicle, and license plate number of
every demon who's taken Essence from him (giving up Essence goes directly
contrary to Impudite nature, so they're more or less branded into his
memory). And he's a coward... so anyone who gets hold of him and twists a
bit, will have a great deal of valuable information.
(Originally, only a dozen or so demons of the War were supposed to have the
password. But demons are demons; one of them passed it along to a friendly
servitor of Saminga, and another got drunk and let it slip to a Lustie,
and, well, by now something like thirty demons know about the "Essence
ATM" out at the toll plaza... most of the demons in this particular city
do, in fact. And Feris is starting to feel the strain, as demons are
coming by for Essence almost hourly now.)
Also it hasn't occurred to Urhious that an *angel* might drive through the
toll plaza at some point. It is, after all, very busy; that's the point.
And an angel would almost certainly realize that he was dealing with an
Impudite as soon as Feris tried to Charm him (main book, pg. 154).
_Feris_ has considered the possibility -- he's got nothing to do all day
but charm human drivers and contemplate his situation -- but he's stuck;
it's just one more thing to make him miserable.
Another problem is the side effect on the humans who are being drained of
Essence. The stretch of highway beyond the toll plaza has seen a sudden,
mysterious spike in accidents; three people have died there in the last
month alone. The police have noticed this, but are at a loss to explain
it. Someone may write an article about it in the paper soon...
The deaths and accidents weren't _caused_ by the Impudite, exactly... he's
just making them a lot more likely, statistically speaking. So instead of
the "BONG" of Symphonic disturbance from killing a human, something else is
happening, something rather strange. The stretch of highway just beyond
the toll plaza has begun to gently hum with a continuous low level of
Symphonic disturbance. The demons don't notice it -- their perceptions
tend to be lowish, and they're too high on their Essence hit when they pull
away -- but an angel might (-2 on the roll, as it's Very Hard to hear).
The longer Feris stays, though, the more accidents he's going to contribute
to, and the louder the noise will become.
Feris carries a pistol (against toll authority regulations, of course), but
if threatened he's more likely to run than fight. If caught, his Cowardly
discord means that it shouldn't be too hard to beat some interesting
information out of him.
If the PCs are angels, or demons hostile to Baal, discovering and
interrogating Feris would be a major coup; he'd be able to give them the
appearance and license plate number of a couple of dozen demons.
Keep in mind, though, that Urhious' Captain of the Infernal Armies
attunement lets him know the location and health of his subordinates at all
times. So if Feris is injured or killed, a very tough 12-Force Captain
will be showing up to investigate. Once he belatedly realizes what a
security risk Feris is, Urhious will be VERY determined to recover or kill
him; otherwise, he'll be in Really Big Trouble with his boss, and his boss'
Alternately, demon PCs could be tipped off about Feris by a "friendly"
Servitor of the War. In this case, they'll have the benefit of "free"
Essence... for a while. But in the long run, they'll be the ones whose
identities and Roles are at risk. Which may teach them a salutary lesson
about taking gifts from fellow demons.
If nobody interferes with Feris, eventually he'll be shut down, once
Urhious tells Baal or his Baron (or once the Game finds out). Urhious may,
depending on Baal's mood, get complimented for his creativity or have a
Force or two ripped away. And Feris will be debriefed as to just who has
been taking Essence for the last few months. If he survives, he'll
remember always everyone who ever used him, and will quietly watch for a
chance to do them a bad turn.
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