By: email@example.com (GR Cogman)
Along the street (which both was and was not Cheapside) came the dead Jewess. She walked slowly, for she had a great way to go and had all the breadth of Dreame-Countries to cross before she would reach Heaven's Marches. In her arms she carried the little Christian boy, the widow's child, Orlando Beaufort. He was not sleeping (for the dead do not sleep) but he had buried his face in her neck and his golden curls were mingling with her own. -- _Stopp't Clock Yard_, Susanna Clarke
And this adventure was inspired by that quotation.
Not long ago, as times run on earth, a child was born: this child had something of a Destiny. In a diabolically sponsored accident, the parents died: the mother went to Heaven's side of the Marches, and the father to Hell's. They still loved each other. The child lived.
Yves' servitors keep an eye on the child, given his Destiny. This has prevented Hell from taken any obvious strikes. All the more leeway for unobvious ones.
Three days ago, the child fell asleep, and has still not woken up. He won't.
Today, the mother has left the Marches, and come past Gabriel's Citadel, and made her way to the pavilions of Heaven. She beats upon the doors of Dominic's Citadel - or perhaps that of Laurence - and asks for help for her child, who has been kept in the Marches by a demon, and is now being lured towards Hell itself.
Step forward the PCs, please.
Investigation with the Servitors of Yves, on earth, will reveal that nobody has actually _checked_ on the child in a few weeks now. (Some slight embarassment, pointing out of more important tasks. The child may have a high Destiny, but things have been quiet, and...) Examination of the child will show that his spirit is absent, somewhere in the Marches.
Trying to follow via the child will present a _very_ nasty ambush. Think of forces sufficient to hammer the PCs into a humiliating withdrawal (or, in the case of Malakim, being dragged off by allies) and add a few more. The Diabolicals were expecting a possible investigation: if the PCs simply try and call in more forces, the trail will get very, very muddied. Plus damage to local dreamers. Plus perhaps the Angel of Military Law (I did like him).
Fortunately, there's another option. The PCs may think of it themselves, or a Supervisor may suggest it. The soul of the mother has a natural link to the soul of her child, sympathetically. This will, in a spiritual sense, enable tracking. (All right, no abilities cover this, but it makes a certain sense.) If the players leave Heaven and travel with the mother past Gabriel's Citadel, through the Marches, past Blandine's Tower, and into Beleth's Realm, perhaps they will be able to find and save the child...
First, the obvious hazards: Gabriel will want to know what's going on. She remembers the mother passing through, and permitted it, but will look with more interest at a travelling party of angels going the opposite way. While she will not actively obstruct the players (well, probably not) the journey _can_ be rather more difficult if she is displeased.
Blandine, also, will take an interest. She will be unamused by suggestions of negligence on her part or those of her servants.
Then, the entry to Beleth's Marches. I'm sure you have many fine ideas of nightmares for your players, that you have been wanting to try out for a while. Indulge yourself.
The mother herself is a problem. She is fixated (naturally) on reaching her child, and will want to take the most direct route, and travel with all due speed.
The demon who is holding the child (I fancy a Balseraph of Beleth, perhaps, or of Kronos, who lured the child into dreams with many fine promises) is travelling towards Hell, but slowly, as too fast would risk damaging the child's soul (and such a fine soul, such promises for a dark Fate.) Maybe he has a Djinn of Beleth with him, attuned to the child. A big, hefty, angry Djinn.
Finally, the father. (No, I hadn't forgotten him.) He has the same sort of link to the child as does the mother, and at this moment he is being used to guide a posse from Hell (from Belial, who has noticed all this activity, and believes the players are an emissary from Gabriel to reclaim the child - tch, misinformation). He is torn between genuine love for his child, and despair at the situation. A possible use for this group is as hunters once the PCs have reclaimed the child, chasing them back towards their side of the Marches.
(a) Collect the child's spirit, and return it to Blandine's Tower, where that Archangel can safely return it to the child's body.
(b) Keep the mother's spirit safe. She is a virtuous soul, and under the protection of Heaven.
(c) Possibly reclaim the father's spirit. His love for his child is genuinely unselfish, and may show up at some crucial moment.
(d) Don't get killed.
I haven't put any stats in this, because I think it's the sort of adventure that fits better being customised to your PCs. It's more of a mood thing, really. And read the story that the quotation comes from, in the Sandman Collection. It's very good.
Opinions appreciated, and thank you for reading this.
--- Genevieve Cogman (Maya, Daughter of Amber and Chaos)
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