By: Elizabeth "Archangel Beth" McCoy (emccoy @ nh.ultranet.com)
(Or maybe "than friction"?)
[This all started with Maya's notions about Andre and the authoring of smut. It got out of hand.]
Deborah, Free Lilim, has a little problem... She's one of the suppliers of what's know around Shal-Mari as "Angel Porn." She's working on a little story involving one of the Virtues (Malakim Porn is a popular niche market, though usually it involves what's known in the demonic smut industry as a "plucking scene") and her friend (an Impudite Knight of Lust) says that their wings just don't bend that way.
Deborah has a certain pride in her work, and so she wants to get the (naked) truth about the celestial anatomy of Malakim. Her own vessel is hardly combat-worthy (she's rather low in Corporeal Forces), so she's hiring a bunch of demons (many of whom owe her -- she's actually quite talented at writing her smut, and it's very popular) to catch her one and bring him to her apartment in the Guildhall at Shal-Mari. Secretly, so that her research subject won't be stolen away by some Prince or other before she's finished the book.
They get a relic bag which, if they can stuff someone into it, will drag him along when they return to their Hearts, or if they go down a Tether.
Enter Emmanuel, Malakite of Creation in (loose) service to Destiny. There's one of Lilith's rare Tethers in his area, and he's been making a nuisance of himself with the local demons -- they've been calling for reinforcements to deal with him. He's probably the best target for a secret raid...
These are, of course, the group Deborah has contacted to kidnap her a Malakite. Or bribe him down, or whatever. She'd even be willing to let him go after she's finished this novel and done her research.
(If there happens to be a Malakite NPC around that the PCs are already fond of -- or fond of hating -- he can substitute for "Mannie.")
Demonic activity in this area has been getting a little more obnoxious -- some of it before Emmanuel showed up, and a lot of it afterwards, as they try to bounce the Malakite back to his Heart. But now there's a group who seem to be hanging around and trying *not* to kill him...
(If one of the PCs *is* a Malakite, then he could be substituted for the target of all this attention.)
Deborah: Interestingly enough, she isn't entirely evil. She's very sheltered, sort of, since she's spent most of her time in Shal-Mari writing smut. And she's naturally selfish. But if Emmanuel sees her -- and more importantly, sees some of her writing -- he's going to decide that he can suffer her to live if he can get her converted (preferably by Eli)...
Besides, if he *does* get captured, it's a great way to introduce propaganda. ("No, no, no -- that dialog is *all* wrong! Here, *this* is what the angel should be saying in that scene...")
Emmanuel: *Very* laid back, for a Malakite. He's quite fond of celebrating the joys of creation when he's not out celebrating the joys of bashing demons. If he hears that the demons are trying to get him for a good cause (research on writing), he might cooperate a little, depending on if the demons are at all honorable. (Not with Balseraphs, though, and he'll do his best to bash demons after they've let their guard down and the book's been written.) This will attract the attention of any Servitors of Judgment who might be around -- possibly with justification, if he over-reached his plots and let some of the demons get away without being bashed. (Dissonance!)
Demonic PCs: There are any number of Princes who would like to get their hands on an angel, *especially* one of the Virtues. Trouble is, Deborah wants this one all to herself, unharmed ("I can't see if their wings bend like that if they're *broken*!"), and has Geased the group to make sure he arrives in that condition and that nobody finds out he's there (except the Guildhall door-keeper, who's already been bribed to secrecy). The Game will not be amused, if they find out. Likely, the PCs' Princes will also have a certain annoyance...
Angelic PCs: Why are demons trying to capture a Malakite? What fiendish plan do they have for him? Is it all a diversion? And what are they going to do if the demons actually *succeed* in kidnapping Emmanuel?
Deborah has a small, windowless, *cluttered* one-room apartment in the Guildhall of Free Lilim (see _Heaven & Hell_). All the walls are full of bookshelves, most of which contain her own works, or the works of notable others. (All of the other works have underlinings and notations -- "Good phrase," "Overused," "YUCK!", "Does this actually work?" and the like. Her own are also marked up, but less-so.) The floor bears manuscripts in various stages of editing -- only the current one is in any kind of accessible order. Inkpots and quill pens are all over the place (quills are often used as bookmarks), and a VapuTech computer with a busted screen props up a low table that's missing a leg. Cushions are the only other furniture... with one exception.
The clutter has all been shoved out of the way of a large cage (rather like a bird-cage), which is just about the right size for a full grown Malakite. (It could fit up to three inmates, but that would be a tight squeeze.) This relic prevents anyone inside it from ascending to Earth, the Marches, or Heaven. You don't want to know how much it costs. Even to rent...
The relic has no corporeal form (it can't be taken to Earth), and will only unlock to Deborah's hand. It does, however, have Soul Hits (equivalent to the body hits of a steel cage with inch-thick bars, say); do enough damage to enough of the bars, and the occupant could be released.
This is where Mannie will be put within minutes of him showing up in the Guildhall, and what he will be endevoring to break out of constantly, even while he's critiquing Deborah's work. (She'd put a gag on him, but she's concerned he'd find some creative use for it as a crowbar to damage the cage.)
If the PCs find some way to sneak into the Guildhall (there *are* Lilim who would help them, for a price...) to rescue Mannie, he'll go along readily enough -- except for one little thing. He wants Deborah to be dragged along too. And isn't it handy that there's this little relic-bag that will haul someone along with the holder... He won't want to leave without her. She's got talent.
(He'll refrain from bashing demonic rescuers, if they're honorable ones. But they'd *better* be on the road to redemption!)
Other potential amusements include the chance that the charming Virtue manages to coax Deborah into two things: letting him out of the cage, and going back to Earth with him.
Mind you, this isn't going to please the Game or Judgment any. Demonic PCs may be questioned about their part in this little escapade; the Game will call Deborah Renegade the instant they find out. And Debora's agent (a Balseraph of the Media) is going to scream the moment she's late with the next book... (Or, if she hands over the manuscript, he's going to scream as the Game declares that it's subversive material and anyone involved with its production needs to be... talked to.)
Angelic PCs may be quizzed about the whereabouts of a certain Malakite who was next-to-last seen being dragged down a demonic Tether, and *last* seen with a very attractive female headed for points unknown (or maybe just up to see a really spectacular sunset). Depending on the GM's whim, maybe Mannie has asked them to help brainwash--ah, *coax* Deborah onto the Stairway Upstairs, and the PCs *know* he's rooming with a Renegade Lilim author. Or they're drafted to help find him and his demonic "girlfriend."
(What with all the demons down in Hell, Mannie may have picked up a note or two of dissonance -- he may be coping with it well enough, but it's yet another thing Judgment will have Longhorn steers about.)
Corporeal 1 Strength 2, Agility 2 Ethereal 4 Intelligence 7, Precision 9 Celestial 4 Will 7, Perception 9
Vessel: Female human/1, Charisma +2 [7 points]
Skills: Artistry (Erotica writing)/3, Computer Operation/1, Detect Lies/2, Emote/3, Fast-Talk/1, Knowledge (non-fiction writing)/3, Lying/1, Savoir-Faire/2, Seduction/3, Singing/1 [20 points]
Songs: Charm (Celestial/1), Affinity (Celestial/1), Harmony (Ethereal/5), Healing (Corporeal/2). [9 points]
Discord: 9 Geas/3, last seen with Lilith.
Attunements: None. She has chosen to accept Lilith's Rites and Dissonance Conditions, though.
Deborah is young for a demon -- only in her 30's -- and most of her existance has been spent in Shal-Mari. She got her start in the demonic porn industry when she was filing the many reams of what Andre always intends to be his definitive pornographic masterpiece -- which he never gets more than a paragraph or two into before he decides that doing is more fun than writing about it.
Deborah decided that *she* could do this sort of thing, and finish it, too, so she did a little spying, changed names to protect herself, and crafted some generic demonic smut. It sold rather well, and she used the Essence to rent out a little apartment in the Guildhall. She's researched Djinn-porn, Balseraph Knot-Weaving, Habbalah (and whips and chains), and even gritted her teeth to find out what Shedim *really* like to do to each other. ("Truth is grosser than fiction!")
Now, most Shal-Mari angelporn is of the non-consensual sort -- hence the common "plucking scenes" in such material -- but that gets old quick (except with the Calabim). Much more entertaining is the romantic stuff, where the usual happy ending is a new-Fallen living in selfish bliss... Or at least gets a vessel toasted in the end. But there's an almost underground market for angelporn romances. This is what she's trying to write now. And this is what she needs a research subject for.
Deborah tends to read her writing out loud to check how it actually sounds. Usually, she's alone in her room, doing this, but she'll read snatches and ask for opinions from anyone who might be around. She'll even translate what she's reading from Helltongue to straight celestial, for any angels who might be willing to offer suggestions about sticky phrases. This will include Emmanuel, if he gets caught.
Corporeal 3 Strength 7, Agility 5 Ethereal 3 Intelligence 7, Precision 5 Celestial 3 Will 7, Perception 5
Vessel: Human male/2, Sex Appeal +1 [7 points]
Skills: Acrobatics/1, Artistry (Sculpting)/4, Detect Lies/1, Dodge/3, Emote/1, Escape/2, Fast-Talk/1, Fighting/1, Knowledge (Fiction Writing)/2, Large Weapon (Club)/2, Move Silently/2, Running/1, Savoir-Faire/1, Seduction/2, Singing/1, Small Weapon (Knife)/1 [27 points]
Songs: Form (Ethereal/1), Healing (Corporeal/1) [2 points]
Vows: Never suffer an evil to live if it's his choice; never surrender in a fight or allow himself to be captured by the forces of Hell; encourage beauty in unlikely places; offer evil at least one chance to repent unless ordered otherwise.
Attunements: Malakite of Creation
"Mannie" is, first and foremost, a young Servitor of Creation. Secondly, he's a Malakite, and thirdly, he works for Yves. Yves cuts him a lot of slack -- he's got a *long* leash, and his orders usually boil down to, "Be cool, and make sure that Fate doesn't get a toe-hold where you're at. And don't kill anyone if that would seal their Fate." Mannie's happy with that.
Mannie's not going to be too happy when he finds out that he's the target of some demons who want to kidnap a Malakite. He's going to be even less happy to discover that the orders came from some Free who's known as a famed smut writer -- *he's* heard of "plucking scenes"! (This disgust will last until he actually reads some of her stuff -- or hears it, in the case of capture -- and discovers that she's got an unexpected gift.)
Corporeal 3, Strength 4, Agility 4 Ethereal 2, Intelligence 4, Precision 4 Celestial 4, Will 9, Perception 7
Skills: Computer Operation/3, Emote/3, Fast-Talk/3, Knowledge (Contract Law)/4, Knowledge (the Shal-Mari pornography market)/3, Knowledge (Accounting)/6, Savoir-Faire/4, Seduction/2 [28 points]
Songs: Charm (Ethereal/2, Celestial/2), Tongues (Corporeal/2, Celestial/2) [8 points]
Attunements: Balseraph of the Media (Servant/2: A Hellsworn damned soul, a former porn director; Status 2 (skilled labor in Perdition), Class/2 (he's only about as useful as an Imp, in Hell).)
Michri-jeru, a Hellborn Balseraph who's never been to Earth, is Deborah's agent. (She figured he was convincing enough to her, so maybe he'd convince other people.) He is, of course, skimming her profits shamelessly. He's all for her having a research subject -- if he finds out, since she didn't mention this to him -- but he'll want to branch out into film. And he'll want to start with the plucking scene. Deborah will resent being pushed around (though she's a little curious about how closely fictional pluckings mirror reality), and probably try to protect her prize. Mannie will want a piece of Balseraph to descale. Michri's servant-soul will hover around smarmily, trying to ingratiate himself with his master and Deborah.
[Image of Michri facing off with Deborah, while Emmanuel reaches through the bars, just inches away from that tempting Balseraph tail... Additional image of all six of Michri's eyes bugging out as he gets cartoon-yanked through the cage-bars, with his scales being pulled the wrong way...]
If Mannie can tempt Deborah into defecting, Michri-jeru will be the first person the Game questions. He might involve demonic PCs in an effort to get Deborah back and clear him of the charges of conspiring with a Renegade.
Corporeal 0 Ethereal 2, Intelligence 3, Precision 1 Celestial 1, Will 2, Perception 2
Skills: Computer Operation/1, Detect Lies/2, Emote/1, Fast-Talk/2, Knowledge (pornography production)/6, Lying/2, Savoir-Faire/1, Seduction/1 [16 points]
George Smith (probably not his real name) has managed to attach himself to what he hopes is an up-and-coming demon of the Media. It was either that, or be repossessed for debts owed to the various brothels in Shal-Mari. (He managed to scam a few imps too many...) He's pretty much just Michri-jeru's tagalong beast of burden, but he actually knows his subject better than his master. He also knows better than to flaunt this, and merely makes occasional suggestions, which Michri takes as his own genius.
Michri-jeru told George that if they get powerful enough in Hell, they can go to Earth -- together, with George in a new vessel. George, desperate to escape Hell even that much, hasn't questioned this -- even if it was a Balseraph who told it to him. He'll do his best to help his master no matter what, even if he would like to get some action with that hot porno-Lilim... (Deborah is well aware he's got the hots for her, and hasn't bothered to satisfy that need -- but for the right favor...)
His reaction to angels will be as hostile as any demon's, but he would happily try to fake them out, eager to help them...right into Michri-jeru's coils, or Nybbas' own clutches!
If the Game shows up after Michri, George will bail out and do whatever
he can to keep his Forces together.
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