Lilim -- the debtor's prison

By Hart, Joanna (


(last band write-up. I was going to include a example free lilim but I figured this was getting long enough without ;) Comments?)


Being a Lilim is like being born into the debtors prison in Dickens' London. (Or going to an expensive college in the US :) ). You get out into the real world -- otherwise known as Hell -- with an almighty, overbearing debt hanging over your head. The creditor is decent enough to give you as long as you like to pay it back, but the longer you leave it, the higher the accumulated interest rates. And you can never guarantee that 'the girls' won't drop round unexpectedly to demand an instant repayment of part of what you owe, or that segments of that debt won't have been sold on to other debt collectors.

This could be a pretty miserable existence if you let these things get to you.

Fortunately, like many other Victorian debtors, you have the option of selling yourself on the streets to raise the readies. Work at a reasonable rate and you'll at least be able to keep your payments up to date and hold your head up as part of an equally miserable sisterhood who, unlike any other demons in Hell, can claim that they do have the choice not to work (don't think about those debts piling up, that would only depress you).

Let's talk about the debts a bit more before we get onto the fun stuff. Demons know that the self-geas of a Lilim is actually worth something -- which can't be said for the word of any other demon. So in cases where demons of other bands would be asked to pay for services in essence, a Lilim can expect to be asked for a low-level geas. Maybe you can shop around and find someone who is willing to take essence from you instead, but given the choice, most demons will go for the more useful option. They can get essence from any old damned soul, after all...

So any time another demon offers help to a free Lilim, or a Lilim in service to another Prince (even an allied one), that Daughter can expect to be adding to her debts. Whilst their Princes might be unamused at servitors practicing extortion on their own bound Lilim (or actually they might be very amused, but it isn't good for Lilim-morale), the Frees are entirely fair game. Get a decent geas from a Free and your seniors will be patting you on the back, saying 'good for you,' and deciding reluctantly that you need to be kept alive at least long enough to call that geas in.

The Lilim themselves are almost worse. A vapidly rapacious bunch, you _know_ that the worth of any person or any service is only in how much it will pay back to you in terms of geases. Whilst it is probably worth bothering to collect geases on other demons when you have the chance (after all, you can never be sure that some capricious prince won't promote an idiot, and if that happens, you want to be the one with a hook in it!), that doesn't mean that you are there to fulfil the deepest desire of every two-bit 7-force Shedite in Shal-Mari, whatever they like to think. There is an exception -- most Lilim will think it worth the effort to collect geases on other Daughters, when the chance presents itself. Oh, they'll charmingly offer to sell the debt back, because of course they don't want to be wantonly adding to a sister's bondage,but it wouldn't do any good at all to the reputation of the frees if they were to just .. give it away .. however much they might want to.

The Lilim are also traders and extortionists par excellance. With an eye to the bottom line the whole time, and the ability to track anyone who owes them a geas, they are the finest debt collectors in Hell.

If a few Free Lilim have decent geases on a demon who is in trouble with its superior, they might stir themselves and their contacts to help it out -- because a dead demon can't pay its debts -- although of course this will substantially increase what it owes. Lilim will tend to help other Lilim for the same reason; especially if one of their number is being threatened by another demon. It hurts everyone if demons think that killing their creditors will get them off the hook, and the Lilim in question _will_ pay them back.

So Lilim can expect to be offered help whenever and however they need it, from any infernal quarter.

So why be so cheerful? Once you've got used to the idea of all those debts, you might as well just firewall the misery. So you'll never pay them off? So who cares. Neither will almost anyone else, and meanwhile you are on one of the cutest sinecures in Hell. You work when you want, and for whom you want. Everyone treats you pretty well. You can sneak on up to the corporeal world any time you like (you did pay Lilith another Geas/3 for a decent vessel, didn't you? And another Geas/1 for the passage through one of her tethers...) without worrying too much about fascist princes.

Some people party as the debts pile up, knowing that they are too valuable to their creditors to be allowed to come to much harm. Some (most?) Frees take that attitude. They are in Hell for the duration, so why not live a little. If a debt gets called in tomorrow that sends them to certain death then so be it, and it can't be helped, but tonight we can drink and be merry!

Others default on the debts or declare themselves bankrupt. This is equivalent to Lilim binding themselves to a Prince. They get out of the debts they owed to Lilith (although not any of the minor geases), and will never have to worry about scraping together favours for vessels, living space in Hell, or many of the other necessities for which they have always had to pay. But they will never be free again either.

Then there are others, the rare few, who take the sensible approach to paying off debts. They live frugally, plan for the long term, and work hard. They obsess about nothing else but paying off their geases, and in fact will not get out of bed in the morning unless they have something to do which will help towards that goal. It is almost all they ever think about, their only topic of conversation. Mercenary and miserly to the point of fanaticism, these are the demons who will stop at nothing to collect geases with which to pay off their mother and other debtors. Extortion, blackmail, fabricated threats, honied words -- whatever works. They don't bother with unimportant celestials or mortals unless it is in the terms of their contract. They are so used to assessing everything and everyone in terms of utility that they relate best to mortals who view life in the same way. Preferably powerful and influential mortals. Their desire to avoid being in debt is so high that they'll actively refuse favours, however badly they might want them.

Others profess the same desires but are too lazy to really cash in on it. They'll read others' needs but find other ways to use them than actually having to get the geas (as that might involve work). A perceptive Lilim can cash in by selling lists of needs to her less perceptive (but more hard-working, and higher willed) sisters.

In the corporeal world, Lilim work best as tempters of those mortals who recognise the same basic rules of life 'You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.' Financiers, mob bosses, ambitious musicians or actors -- anyone who sees the world as a dog-eat-dog place; anyone who understands that everything and everyone has its price -- these are Lilim prey. They hate generousity because they don't understand it. People who are willing to give away something for _nothing_ are more likely to attempt to resist a Lilim's geas, because they think other people should do things for the sake of it also. This category includes many angels.

The notion of selflessness is one that is so alien to the Lilim mindset, that they can't see it in action without being suspicious of the motives. (Other demons will equally not understand, but will be more likely to ascribe it to stupidity).


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