And I Feel Fine - Part 12: The Two Witnesses

By Earl Wajenberg (


"'And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.' ... If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. ... But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on." -- Revelation 11:3-12

Blandine stands on her tower and surveys the Marches. They are calm again -- calmer than they have been for centuries, in fact, after the tumult of the Dream Locust Campaign, and the hasty withdrawl of demons back to Hell. Many servitors of Dream and Nightmare now work on Earth, loaned to other Archangels and Princes. It almost seems like peace.

But Blandine knows better, so she is only surprised, not shocked, when Shinniah appears at her balcony. Shinniah is an Ophanite of Dream, a swirling cluster of misty, rainbow rings, studded with rows of eyes like those on peacock feathers. It is a senior scout in the Far Marches.

"My Lady," it cries, "movement in the Dawn Marches!"

"An attack? Diabolical or Ethereal?"

"Ethereal, my Lady. The Hindu pantheon. But not, I think, an attack. They send forth heralds. In fact--"

A hawk's cry shrills. Rushing out of the Dawn Marches comes a giant eagle of gold, Garuda, the Mount of Vishnu.

Things never seen before have become frequent in Heaven, in the last three and a half years. But still people are surprised when Blandine ushers the Hindu gods into the Celestial City, commingled with the Taoist, Jainist, and Buddhist pantheons. They form a gaudy parade, marching straight into the hall of the Seraphim Council.

There, Trimurti speaks -- the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The three gods address the Archangels in perfect chorus, a single voice in three mouths, explaining their position and, to a degree, themselves.

Trimurti is no human-dreamed Ethereal. Rather, it is a primal spirit, but even then not an ordinary primal. It is the primal spirit of the Symphony itself. (Many philosophically-minded angels and saints wonder what the difference may be between Trimurti and God. Staring into the infinite Light that shines, now, from the visible Throne, they learn only that this question may be fascinating and profound, but it is not of immediate importance.)

Like other primal spirits, though, Trimurti has been shaped -- or has allowed its appearance to be shaped -- by human thought and belief. It appears in many aspects. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and their wives, the various avatars of all of them, and many other members of the Hindu pantheon, are all members of this One. In impersonal aspects, it is the Way sought by Taoists and the Nirvana of Buddhists.

For many reasons, primarily for the stability of the cosmos itself, Trimurti has stayed out of the War as long as possible. It is possible no longer; clearly the Kali Yuga is at hand, and Shiva prepares to dance. To aid its followers, Trimurti casts its lot with Heaven. In earnest of this, it presents the Seraphim Council with a resource, an ally:

An ancient dreamshade, in the form of a young Indian man, steps out from behind the towering, flaming figures of the gods and bows politely to the Archangels. He has been reincarnated myriad times and awaits one last journey to Earth. He is Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future.

Khalid now exchanges glances with Yves and the Metatron. "Welcome, Maitreya," he says. He then stands and claps his hands. A saint appears in the Council chamber, of Arabic appearance and garb. "I present to you your partner, the Hidden Imam."

The Two Witnesses of Revelation are Maitreya and the Hidden Imam. They soon take vessels and begin their careers as prophets, Maitreya mostly in Asia, the Imam mostly in the Moslem world. When not visiting plagues on the wicked, they preach. Maitreya exposes the deceit of Hell's lures; the Imam urges the lukewarm to righteousness. The Two preach cooperation among all good folk who are anti-Therrian.

Roleplaying seed: Guard Duty

Lucifer knows full well what is supposed to happen; the Two are to continue in this vein for three and a half years, then get killed in Jerusalem, for all the good that will do. To break the momentum of prophecy, Lucifer wants them assassinated before that date.

Opposing his agents are teams of angels and saints. They are told, "Some time in the next three and a half years, your charges will be assassinated, but the longer you can put that off, the better." The guards include lots of Malakim and Cherubim, but some of everybody. If PCs aren't on the immediate team, they may be involved as backup or as aides in a particular locality. The Two move around a lot, whisked from place to place by Ophanim.

Plot and foil can keep PCs busy as long as desired. Attacks can be as mundane or freaky, as subtle or obvious, as desired. I recommend that the powers attributed to the Two in Revelation be a slightly poetical expression of the powers wielded on their behalf by hosts of Angels, Saints, and allied Ethereals, none of whom feel obliged to pull punches any more.

Roleplaying seed: Nightmare Defection

The August Prosperity Collective, the modern organization of Japan's Shinto pantheon and its recent additions, decides to defect from Hell and join Heaven and the Hindu gods. This is a sticky proposition. First, Beleth *always* has demonic ambassadors and their retinues present in the Collective's realm. Second, not everyone in the Collective wants to defect to Heaven. But the defectors get secret word to Blandine. Now what to do?

Should they try for a massive, one-time breakout? Hard to coordinate. Should they try trickling out in ones and two and simply failing to come back? The Nightmare demons will notice eventually and make further departures difficult. Should they try exterminating the demons and Hell-loyalists in a coup? Depends on Nightmare's firepower.

Roleplaying seed: Ill-Met by Moonlight

The Seely Court is split over this new polarization of the Ethereal Plane. Oberon and Titania want to join the Heaven-Trimurti alliance. Puck wants to maintain independence and is willing to take help from Hell to do that. Many fays want to run even further away into the Outermost Marches. You can bet that both Dream and Nightmare are putting on the pressure.

Similar splits can occur in any surviving pagan pantheon you care to name.

Roleplaying seed: Aztecs Again

Turns out that one of the "treasures" Lucifer had stored in the Lower Hells was most of the Aztec pantheon. A lot of them managed to escape when Semyaza opened the Abyss. Cope.

Roleplaying seed: Uriel Again

So here are all these high-level Ethereals, entering Heaven by some special dispensation of Blandine's and/or Trimurti's and/or God's. And here they are standing in the chambers of the Seraphim Council, face to face with Uriel. Now what?

Here's where GMs can resolve some Canon Doubt and Uncertainty, if they want to. Does Uriel express remorse for his Crusade? Does he justify it? Does he refuse to talk about it? Does he offer amends? Does he hint that the Ethereals got off lightly?


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