Damned Washbyrne

By David Wood


It's been a personal thorn in Laurence's side for a few centuries. Michael doesn't want anything to do with it because even when he destroys it, someone else claims it sooner or later and it springs up all over again. Jean wants to study it and understand what freakish Symphonic convolution allows it to exist, but it's never really safe to do so. Mention it to Novalis and she just sighs and changes the subject.

The small New England town of Washbyrne has seen it all. Fires, floods, lightningstrikes, plagues of frogs, plagues of grasshoppers, an air disaster or two, and even threats from some nebulous sea-borne horror from the waters of the nearby Atlantic (and did the Seraphim of Jordi have a time explaining that one away). And yet, it keeps getting built up again, time after time after time. It's little more than a large building surrounded by the shacks and houses of the people who work and live in the tiny community, and can't afford to move elsewhere.

It's not a historically significant city; it was too far away from the action to be in any American war, and nothing notable in the span of human events makes it memorable. Travel guides usually don't mention it because it's such a dreary place to visit that nobody ever wants to go there. But Washbyrne has its own peculiar significance that neither Heaven nor Hell can lose sight of.

It's called, simply, "The Stubborn Tether" or "The Washbyrne Tether," and it has been the site of a tether to Hell since the town's founding in the late 1600s. It began with a typical conflict between angel and demon, and blossomed into a slaughter of local townsfolk and as a result a tether to Baal. Shortly after that, more angels came in to close up the new infernal beachhead, and did so -- or so they thought. Burning it down merely allowed it to become a tether for Belial instead.

The fact is that every time angels come into Washbyrne to smash up the tether, it reforms. Usually, it's some superior other than the one who held it last who claims it. It's been in the hands of everyone from Andrealphus to Vapula and everyone in between at least once, easily twice -- except Lilith. Hell is overjoyed with it, except that it's a hot potato that nobody ever holds onto for very long, one way or another. Heaven is nonplussed with it to say the least.

Archangels usually leave it alone, but once in a while, some subordinate gets hopeful. And besides, it doesn't hurt to screw with Hell's supply lines once in a while. More than once, the Washbyrne Tether has changed hands because other demons attacked it.

Needless to say, this presents an unhealthy environment for pretty much anyone that passes through.

Normal humans rarely like to come to the town unless they have relatives trapped there, and then usually to try to rescue them. The travel guides are right; the town is a dreary place which no tourist would want to pass through, much less visit. The residents are, in a word, defeated.

Demons not of the current "Prince of Washbyrne" will usually get a hostile reception, since it's assumed that any concentration of 'foreigners' is a sign of an impending attack. Demons of that Prince are, of course, welcome ...but sometimes when the Washbyrne Tether changes hands, agents in the field aren't immediately notified and get an awful surprise when they go there.

And angels? Hoo boy! Word that Heaven has forces there spreads like wildfire, attracting demons from all over, like sharks who know a bloody morsel of meat is about to drop into the water. A few will want to defend the tether, naturally. Most will want to be on hand when it falls to try to be the first ones in to take it over and rebuild it in the image of their Prince's word...

And through all of this, nobody has ever thought of the correct way to destroy the site... (Spoiler)

Every time Celestials act to destroy the Tether, they do so personally, spending Essence, slinging songs and atunements around, and generally causing all manner of Disturbance. It's the power thrown around by the attackers that lets the Washbyrne Tether hold its power.

If Angels attack the Washbyrne Tether, they can't spend Essence or cause Disturbance. Humans attacking the Tether can spend Essence, and don't cause Disturbance. However, the only groups of humans available en masse are the townsfolk.

The easiest way to beat the Washbyrne Tether, then, is to arm the residents of Washbyrne and motivate them to over throw it themselves. It won't be easy, though, because not only have Washbyrne's people been beaten down by the demons for generations, but the demons will be watching for any rabblerousing, and may get extreme on some of the rabble as an example.

So yeah, it's not easy. The Washbyrne Tether may well survive its first few encounters with a group of angels, and change hands repeatedly. Washbyrne, for all its smallness and dreariness, could make its own campaign...


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