Mirror of Hidden Truth, Soulbreaker, and Weeping Wounds
Three Artifacts For In Nomine
by Elizabeth McCoy
(While these are all relics for In Nomine, alternate forms of them are also listed, suitable for fantasy games.)
While most relics are created by a celestial or a celestial's Superior -- with a few notable ethereal items thrown in for good measure -- there are always the artifacts which . . . just happen. Whether by an Intervention or simply odd concatenations of events, something pops up which was not enchanted, but made.
The Mirror of Hidden Truth
As the legend goes, long ago, before Judgment and Fire were at odds with each other, there was a Seraph of Dominic who had earned enough favor with Gabriel that he -- Gabriel was male then -- gave the Seraph Fire's own Choir Attunement. This allowed the Seraph to see those who lied to themselves about what they were, and combined with her Choir Attunements of Judgment, made her one of the best triad-leaders that the Word had known. But between her attunement of Fire, and her own Lord's dissonance conditions, she was equally unable to dispense mercy when it was called for.
And one day, it was. She and her triad thought they were going to bring in a demon who was responsible for the Falls of several angels. Instead, they found a repentant Balseraph who sincerely threw himself upon their mercy. This, by itself, would not have been a problem -- but the Balseraph was a minion of Asmodeus, Prince of the Game, and had just "lost" two Renegade demons. The Balseraph was Discordant from his betrayal of his Hellish master, Bound into the ring of keys that had unlocked his dungeon's doors, and could not follow the angels to their Hearts (even if the Light of Heaven would not have grievously wounded him), and the team to "collect" the Renegades would be there shortly. If the Balseraph were found missing, the hunt would be up immediately . . .
When the Game-team showed up for the missing demons, they found a tall, lean Balseraph -- or so they thought. Seraphim, as a rule, are not good at lying. The dissonance of it hurts them, and they don't have practice. Nevertheless, the Seraph-in-Balseraph's-clothing managed to fool the team, stalling and delaying, and binding her dissonance into Discord before it could fracture his Heart. Ironically, she, too, became Bound -- to her silver Mirror of Truth that could (with a little Essence) reflect the celestial forms of those visible in it.
And so it was that she could not flee to his Heart in Heaven when the Prince of the Game arrived. The Seraph dropped her pretense and attacked the Prince as best she could, for each precious moment of delay meant her triad could be that much closer to safety. But it was fatal for her; the Prince summoned to him the blade Soulbreaker, and struck down the Seraph, soul-killing her even as she was drawn into the mirror she was Bound to by her Discord.
The mirror stayed in the possession of Servitors of the Game for a while, was stolen by a demon of Theft, and finally wound up . . . where ever the Game Master decides.
In appearance, it's not much. Just a silver mirror (which probably needs polishing), about the size of two human palms. The power of the Mirror of Hidden Truths is this: it shows what someone is, and is becoming, especially if that person is denying self-knowledge. For humans, this means that those gazing in the mirror will be reflected, not sans disguises, but in such a way that the disguise is compromised. Further, their true personality will also show through, no matter the facade they project. If a king is becoming a tyrant, it will show him as such. If a Scrooge has had a change of heart, that, too, will be obvious.
For celestials, it is the same, though it does not display celestial forms unless given Essence (as per a standard Mirror of Truth, p. 66 of the Liber Reliquarum) -- with one exception. If an angel is close to Falling, or a demon becoming redeemable, they (and any other viewers!) will see their Fallen or redeemed celestial form in the mirror, not their current one, nor their vessel. This can be, as they say, disconcerting.
Other Mirrors of Hidden Truth
In a non-In Nominated world, the legends around the mirror may still include an angel of truth giving its life to save someone who sought purity. Or there may be mystical orders which delve into the Illuminated truths of the world, and use this enchanted mirror to see within a person's soul. It reflects the true nature of a human, as above, and sees through all disguises -- even (or especially) magical illusions. (Self-hypnotism, so that one believes one is what one pretends to be, is a possible counter for the mirror. The images it reflects of someone so deluded might be enigmatic.) If werebeasts or spirits come within range of it, they will be automatically revealed only if they are on the road to changing their state somehow -- lunar cycles may reveal the other-form of a were-creature just before a change hits, for example. Non-humans in human form may also be reflected truly if the mirror's holder murmurs the appropriate incantation and pays a cost in magical ener! gies (Fatigue in GURPS, Gnosis or Willpower in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, etc.).
Once there was a Calabite, one of the Destroying demons, who was a Marquis of Lust. His name is not important, and might even be dangerous to know. He had a talent for violence, and sex, and combining them, and the Prince of Lust sponsored him to Lucifer for the Word of Pleasure From Other's Pain. However, when the Lightbringer visited this Marquis, the demon had other ambitions. The Word he asked for -- and received -- would most concisely translate as "Snuff Films" (save that there were no such things when this happened).
Needless to say, the Prince of Lust was not entirely pleased by this turn of events. Andrealphus is an Impudite, and Impudites hate to see humans wasted by death. So the Marquis lost the favor of his Prince, and eventually . . . well, it might have been merely a Servitor of the Game trying to meet quota, but the Demon of "Snuff Films" was accused of plotting treason against his Prince and taken to the dungeons of Hades. Andrealphus shrugged his sinful shoulders and did not speak in the Marquis' defense, and so the Calabite was sentenced to death.
However, Asmodeus and Andrealphus do not get along well. Asmodeus had no wish to do the other Prince any favors by ridding him of a Word-bound who did not please Lust. So instead of merely killing the Marquis, the Prince bound him into a sword. The sword-Demon of "Snuff Films" was stripped of any ability to resist the will of whoever held it, and any way to communicate of its own volition.
Soulbreaker had a long and terrible -- if not very distinguished -- career as Asmodeus' favorite weapon. But in the battle with Makatiel, Renegade Prince of Disease, it was broken. The missing piece (the blade's phallic point) was never recovered, and while Asmodeus attempted repairs . . . it just wasn't the same. He presented it to one of his underlings, who eventually gifted it to one of his minions, and so on, until it was thoroughly lost. Who knows where it might turn up now?
In appearance, Soulbreaker is a blunt-tipped, heavy broadsword, a little short and off-balance from its breakage. The crosspieces are, indeed, suggestive of the blade's Lust-demon heritage. Only those with a Strength of 11+ can wield it with any grace (subtract 2 from Accuracy for every point of Strength below 11), but it is still a vicious weapon, with Power +7. Its true threat is to celestials is that it does Soul Hits equal to Body Hits, and it will strip Forces. The only requirement is that the last Force before soul-death can only be claimed by a thrusting attack (at -5 to skill; the tip is blunt and more inclined to bruise than stab).
Soul-eating swords are, alas, common in many fantasy settings. Soulbreaker is really one of a horde without its demonic origins. Of course, it might get more interesting if the sword's owner exuded a dark charisma, drawing the interest of those around him (or her). Inflicting bloodlust or berserker rages on the owner is hardly necessary for appropriate evil, since the only way to become the owner is to use it to kill the victim one is having sex with, at the moment of one's own climax. Merely using it in battle won't have any ill effects -- except a tendency toward dreams of the ritual above . . .
(In GURPS terms, Soulbreaker should be considered a very fine (p. B74, sidebar) bastard sword (p. B206), with a Minimum ST of 15! It has +5 to damage, above and beyond the +2 for a very fine weapon.)
When the tip of Soulbreaker snapped off, it was lodged within the form of the Demon Prince of Disease. As the Renegade Prince tried to escape, the tip was thrown free . . .
There are many stories about which notable blacksmith found the blade, and how he (or she) re-forged it into a greenish bladed dagger. The truth doesn't matter -- Weeping Wounds' power works without incantations or intent.
Whenever the dagger does even a hit of damage (in celestial, ethereal, or corporeal combat!), the wound it deals never truly heals. It may seal over, but the infection remains, and eventually will break through and ooze. Blood poisoning is almost inevitable; treat as a Strength/3, Speed/1 disease (p. 124 of the Corporeal Player's Guide) which will not heal! The Corporeal Song of Healing or appropriate Medicine rolls will cure the hits, but the infection merely lies dormant for a week or so -- and then returns. Only a Superior can remove the dagger's taint.
Celestials are less affected -- the infection is unlikely to kill their vessels. Still, they suffer a variant of the Stigmata Discord, but with a pus-weeping wound instead of a bloody one. As above, only a Superior's attention will remove the infection entirely.
Holding the weapon is not terribly dangerous, save for an increased tendency to catch colds or whatever minor flu bugs are going around.
Other Weeping Wounds
Again, a traditional weapon which deals out a "never-healing wound," though not one which will cause the victim to die from blood loss. (Blood loss is too quick.) The cure will require not just magical healing, but holy magical healing! (GM's option as to what counts as "holy.") Otherwise, it just keeps coming back. Modern medicine may decide that it is some new form of AIDS or cancer, and attempt to treat it as such . . .
Article publication date: February 22, 2002
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