A Matter of Judgment

By Manny Nepomuceno


He began life as the kind of joke Kobal liked the kind that poked fun at a powerful Demon Prince and a powerful Archangel both. Kobal would later tell him that he wasn't expected to live very long, and that his predecessors had died, messily, at least one of them by his own hands. He didn't care. He was given a job to do, and an important Word to protect and serve. God Himself had spoken to him, through Lucifer, and he was absolutely certain that not even the Hordes of Hell could keep him from fulfilling his mission.

Now, if only Heaven would cut him some slack, he might actually get something done on Earth...

Kobal's laughing his head off in Shal-Mari. Not two months ago, he trumped Kronos, harping on the death of the Demon of Trade (a 12-Force Impudite) and pointing out the messy and embarrassing deaths of the Demon of Flowers and the Demon of Faith. It would be quite some time before the Prince of Fate would experiment with binding Superior-level Words to lowly demons. The Demon of Faith had had to be hunted down and killed and in the process he'd taken out three of Baal's demons, one of whom was Distincted. In the meanwhile, Kobal was setting up his own grand jest. He'd created a 15-Force Habbalite and petitioned Lucifer for the Word of Judgment. The Lightbringer, originally reluctant to go along with Kobal's plan, eventually relented. The Habbalite was granted the Hellish equivalent of Dominic's Word.

Everything went downhill from there.

The new Demon of Judgment looked around him - at the smirking Prince of Dark Humor, at Kronos, who had been invited to the Word-binding and who was scowling at the proceedings, and lastly, at Lucifer himself. The Lightbringer raised an eyebrow.

Then the Demon crumpled and fell to the ground. When he rose, it was to shriek at the onlookers. Yelling in an obscure language not heard on Earth in millenia, he rushed deep into the Lower Hells and vanished from sight. Lucifer broke out laughing.

After two weeks in the Lower Hells, Shaph, the Demon of Judgment, returned to Shal-Mari, ready to become a star. By special arrangement with Nybbas, Shaph would be given his own show, called The Judgment Game. Garbed in a heavy black cloak, the Habbalite of Judgment would be called on to mediate disputes, settle arguments and, best of all, hand out punishments. Sexy Lilim in skimpy outfits would serve as baliffs and officers of the "court", and everything would be done game-show style...the better to please the masses.

Asmodeus, of course, was not happy. Both he and Kronos, members of Hell's upper crust, were cheerfully sideswiped by Kobal in one swift move. Because of a timely leak to Heaven, he also began having trouble getting Dominic's cooperation; the Archangel of Judgment was not pleased to be sharing his Word with a demon.

It was when Nybbas announced that the show would be syndicated for Earthly distribution that he decided to act.

The Game team was ready, each demon heavily armed and just itching to take out the Habbalite of Judgment. At its head was Lison, Balseraph of the Game, flaming sword flickering steadily in his hand. He would earn a Distinction for this mission, provided he killed the Habbalite.

The team stormed onto an empty set, occupied only by a single, forlorn-looking Djinn. The Djinn dropped the donut he was eating.

"What's going on here? Where's Shaph?" Lison yelled at him.

"Kobal reassigned him. He got a vessel and went up to Earth. The Boss sent some camera teams with him."

Lison felt a queer twisting in his stomach. Asmodeus would not be pleased.

This is an adventure for a mixed party, although it can also be played by just one side. Heaven and Hell both want Shaph dead, and they want Shaph dead quickly. Preferably before Nybbas can tape enough to make Dominic the laughingstock of creation (for Heaven) or undermine Asmodeus's authority (for Hell). Demons of Fate and the Game and angels of Judgment, quite naturally, have a special interest in this scenario, although motivations can be found for virtually every Superior on either side of the War. Nybbas and Kobal won't actively prevent the PCs from killing Shaph, but they will mislead and misdirect the party, and Nybbas's people will be on hand to film every blunder the PCs make. After all, this is quality entertainment.

Unfortunately for the PCs, Shaph isn't defenseless. He may be new to his Word, but he does share it with one of the oldest beings in creation. He feels Dominic through their Word's link, and the older Seraph is reinforcing the Punisher side of his Habbalite nature. However, Dominic's dissonance conditions are also coming into play...Shaph genuinely wants to punish only the guilty. He's also quite insane (all Habbalah are), and delusional, to boot. He can manufacture evidence to support his beliefs about a subject's guilt or innocence.

While he's not a Superior, he does have access to some of Dominic's attunements. Which these are is entirely dependent on the GM and on the tone of the game. It might even be possible for Shaph to gain the Seraph resonance as a result of the shared Word! Also, Dominic is bound to the Habbalite...which could cause problems in Heaven. Meetings with favored Servitors could turn interesting, given that he may sometimes exhibit distinctively Habbalite behavior. Some of these Servitors might even be ordered to tattoo, pierce or mutilate Dominic's celestial form!

In the meanwhile, of course, Shaph is somewhere on earth, wrapped in a black cloak and seeking out evildoers. After all, that's what Judgment does. That's what God told him to do. And that's what he plans to do, once he gets these pesky celestials off his case...


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