Iron Rev 8: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Prince

By Kris Overstreet

Final rating: 4.50


It was a simple job the group of demons got.

Czgrowsky's Hardware and Mercantile, in the sleepy, relaxed, and above all tiny Texas town of Wurtemburg(*), is a small Tether to Dark Humor. About eighty years ago, an accident involving the unwise use of a third-story hayloft for warehouse space inspired the now classic Falling Anvil gag. (What? You thought someone just made that up?)

About two years ago, there was a brush fire a couple miles north. Brush fires aren't uncommon in the Hill Country, but this one got national media attention when, after three days of smoldering, after being 90% contained, it flared up into a tremendous wave of heat, jumped over a ridge, and funneled down a valley on its own wind, taking out a hundred homes in a brand new housing project- killing dozens of people who hadn't had enough time to run before the firestorm struck.

Rusty Canyon is now a Tether of Belial, and the new Tether's Seneschal, Achur, is keen to take Wurtemburg under his diabolic wing. (Or wings, or other things; the Shedite isn't picky.) Lenny Czgrowsky, better known in Hell as Slarizark, Impudite Seneschal, regards the little town full of religious hypocrites, gossipy blue-noses, and back-door drunkards as his hobby farm... and won't let any damn Fire freak push him off it.

In short, the town just ain't big enough for the two of 'em.

"Lenny" has hired the demons- or, if it's an all-Kobalite group, requisitioned them from Shal-Mari- to protect the hardware store and, if possible, take out the trailer parked on the old Rusty Canyon development where Achur keeps his hosts. (The trailer's squatting there- no legal right- so legal action is a possibility...)

A special bonus- a rare artifact- is available to the demon who brings in Binky and Waldo, the two playful puppies whose antics caused the Rusty Canyon Fire when they knocked over a rancher's barbecue grill. Of course, since the dogs play a vital role in the human belief where the fire is concerned- see also Mrs. O'Leary's cow- the dogs are at least as well defended as the Fire Tether itself.

Still, all in all, it looks pretty straightforward. Ambitious demons can go for Binky and Waldo. Scrappy demons can try to take out the Fire Tether. Cautious demons can just stick around and defend the store- rest assured trouble will find them anyway. Oh, and whatever they do, it has to be funny. Very, very funny. Simple, right?

The only worrying thing is, it was Asmodeus himself who gave the order about it having to be funny... or else...

It was a simple job the group of angels got.

Of course, none of the angels (unless they're Flowers) believe it- but apparently Kobal, once the Angel of Laughter, wants to Redeem. He's even persuaded Novalis that he's truly repentant, and she in turn has persuaded a few of her fellow Archangels to at least give the Impudite a chance.

There's just one catch. Redemption is, of course, a very dangerous thing- highly unpleasant, painful, and often fatal. Kobal doesn't want to commit to the attempt quite yet... because he has a bit of unfinished business. Seems he's left some pretty decent (for demons) folks in a tight spot, and he feels really guilty about it. He can't bail them out without arousing suspicion... so perhaps the angels could?

The conditions are simple: first, the demons in question must be protected at all costs. They must then be persuaded to come with the angels, of their own free will, without coercion or harm coming to them. When Kobal sees, with his own eyes, that his little lost lambs are safe and sound, he'll take the cure... he says.

And where are these demons? A flyspeck town called Wurtemberg, Texas...

Yes, that's right. A group of demons, trying to satisfy both Kobal and Asmodeus at once. a group of angels, sent to protect, round up and bring back the group of demons. mayhem ensues.

Is Kobal serious about Redemption? He's serious enough to fool Novalis, at least- although Novalis is always eager to see the potential good in anyone. It is just remotely possible that he really wants to Redeem- or that, even if he wasn't serious about it, that he might be caught in his own trick and, by his own rules, be forced to submit to Redemption or spoil his joke. Asmodeus, of course, believes it's a massive joke on Heaven, designed to undermine Novalis' influence on the Seraphim Council. If he ever actually thinks Kobal might go through with it, it will be open season on Kobal. and every single demon of Dark Humor, or associated with them.

To make certain, Asmodeus has stationed a rather powerful observer in Wurtemberg- "John Hall," a Balseraph in the role of an FBI agent just arrived in Wurtemberg for a two-week camping vacation. His job: make sure the demons follow orders, judge the Dark Humor in their actions. oh, and prevent any consorting with angels.

Dominic- who knows Kobal is lying about something- has sent out his own man to monitor things. The Texas Ranger whose RV pulled in right behind the FBI man- "Ranger Lewis Freeman"- is an Elohite of Judgement. His orders: make sure the angels follow orders, protect any humans caught in the crossfire. oh, and prevent any consorting with demons.

The angels know about Dominic's observer; the demons know about Asmodeus' observer. (If they are smart, they won't assume there's only one of each.) The angels, however, have no knowledge about the Tether turf war in Wurtemberg- only that a few undeserving demons are defending a Tether and need extraction. They do know, however, every bit of information needed to identify the demons in any Vessels, Roles and even Celestial forms.

The demons, of course, don't know about Kobal's repentance. Not a word.

After the two groups make contact- and the likely circumstances of that contact should allow the two groups to separate again. Agent Hall will immediately find the demon group and order them to avoid the angels if possible, string them along if they have to talk. but above all, make the angels the butt of the joke. Ranger Freeman will find the angelic group and remind them that it is vitally important that the demon group be brought to Kobal absolutely within the conditions set. and that Kobal not be given any excuse, any loophole, any way whatever to back out without showing his dishonesty. Further, the angels must not be drawn into any internal affairs of Hell- they're here to protect the demons and get them out, in that order, and NOTHING ELSE.

And, through all this, there are the demons of Fire and their own hired goons, who know nothing of any of this- they just want to burn a certain hardware store to the ground, and keep their pyromaniac puppy dogs safe. There are plenty of gun-toting rednecks who aren't above messing with strangers in town a bit- and some of them have badges. There are nosey old women who believe that everyone else's business is their business, who might make good information sources but more likely will be a constant threat of discovery to all concerned. The air is filled with Superior politics, Hell-spawned turf wars, interfering mortals. it's enough to drive a Celestial mad, mad, mad, mad...

* Mythical, but for game purposes about an hour west-northwest of San Antonio, over two hours west of Austin.

**Flaming Feather**

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