Human Words

By Sean McCarthy


Everyone knows you cannot give a human a Word. That is, itself, correct. YOU cannot. Even if you are Lucifer. The human has to grant themselves the Word. Not by fiat, but by working to make themselves synonymous in the Symphony with a concept. Such that when reality itself looks up a Word in the Great Dictionary, your name is right there. You also have to have the degree of enlightenment necessary to recognize this happening and step into the place you briefly belong.

Given a lengthy life, an unusual grasp of the Symphony from the inside and the chance to do really earthshaking things, any human could have a Word. The astute among you will realize humans seldom have any one of these things and are unlikely to have all three. Very true. Some say God's plan was for humans to better themselves over time until they reached this kind of perfection. That is why most humans reincarnate upon death.

Adam, Lilith and Eve were different, of course. They represented a peek to the back of the book. Even if they were not examples of the apotheosis(in more than one sense) of humanity -- which they might have been -- they certainly represent humans much further down the path of development.

Lilith has a Word. She wandered, studying the world. She devoted herself from her creation to a concept. She perceived matters now clouded to humans, or perhaps not yet clarified. She then did something that shook the firmament and made a huge difference in everything that came after.

You heard Lucifer offered her infernal power and the Word of Freedom if she did as he requested. You heard that from demons, didn't you? Otherwise, from someone who heard it from someone doesn't matter. Demons lie. Including Lucifer. Especially Lucifer. Lucifer didn't grant Lilith a Word because he could not...

Heaven and Hell have Words and such words can be shared. Fire. Cities. Death. The reason the sharing is possible (if ill-advised) is because each side only 'uses' part of a Word. It isn't a perfect division, see the whole Gabriel/Belial mess for proof. Yet it is a division. Good and Evil. Angels and Demons. Destiny and Fate.

Humans are another matter. They are the focus of the Symphony. They are what matters and, most importantly, they are not inherently on either side. If a human takes a Word, they take the whole thing. Neither Lucifer nor all the Host can give that Word...there isn't anything left over to give. Nor can they take the Word away.

Let's talk about Sorcery. Sorcery as represented in the books is fine by itself. There are, however, other ways for humans to gain power. Remember what I said about long life, hard study and special circumstances being necessary to take a Word? All true. However, the beauty of humans is manifold. They do not have to take the whole Word. Much as with celestials, they can be tuned in to a Word without actually holding it. The difference here is that humans don't get tuned by Superiors. They tune themselves. The quest for a Word, for a human, is a process of accumulation.

Different humans have different perceptions, of course. None today are so naturally qualified and familiar with the Symphony as Lilith was then. Humans aren't there yet. So they have many, many ideas about how to do this. Two are especially worth noting.

One theory is that becoming in tune with the Word is becoming the Word. This is 'correct' as Celestials perceive it. I probably don't need to explain this. This is how Celestials and Words interact. Janus IS Wind...and he acts as Wind acts, can do what Wind does.

The other theory more closely resembles Servitors and the Words they Serve. You become part of the Word, the Word becomes part of you. More and more, if you do it right. But this link doesn't make you the Word or give you its power directly. It allows you to carry out certain actions, like Rites, for power. Essence. The Word of Death, for example, wants things to die and decay. It also wants things to end in a general sense and it wants a great many other things. Want is deceptive, yes, like saying two atoms want to bond or that fusion once started wants to continue. It isn't a conscious thing. It is just the way these things are. But humans can take advantage of freon wanting to become a liquid under certain circumstances...and they can take advantage of Death wanting these things.

Take a natural event, even cause a natural event. Position yourself just the right way and when it happens, you can siphon off some of the energy. Use your own power generation metaphor here. Congratulations, now you have the energy to Do Something. You might spend it the normal human probably have learned to control that if you have gotten this far. You might use it to power a Song. A song you came across in your travels or research, most likely. Of course, you have been studying your Word, so you probably came across a related Song. Something in theme. Not necessarily, though. Celestials could be really surprised when that Death magic practitioner heals a puppy. Or conjures up lunch. Or when the Lust magic practitioner turns the marrow of their vessels' bones to molten lead...

What kind of campaign you have determines how you might use this stuff. Here are a few factors to skew the brightness, contrast and other knobs:

Progress: Is this how humans were supposed to go? Lilith was the first one who did this and it's known what Heaven thinks of HER... What does Heaven think? Most importantly, what if Heaven thinks the wrong thing? But...surely the Archangel of Destiny would not let that happen...

Exclusivity (Human): If a Celestial is given part of a Word, or even if one or more on each side is, it probably doesn't use up enough to render the humans involved powerless. That would be boring, if only because many of the neat words are already taken. Would a human taking a Word lock out all other humans? Again, it's kind of boring. Maybe it's like a metaphysical game of King of the Hill...there can be only one, but that one can keep changing. Or maybe not: Perhaps there will only be one human, ever, who takes a given Word. See WordLock, below.

Exclusivity (Celestial): If enough humans have partial attunement to a Word, is that enough to stop a Celestial from being given that Word? What does Hell do about that if it does happen? Perhaps the pogrom against non-Infernal Sorcery is there for a very good reason... For a real scare, what happens if a human can take a Word after a Celestial already has part of it? It probably can't happen. If it could, though ... would the Celestial lose their Word? If so, both Heaven and Hell would probably have factions spending a lot of time keeping those pesky humans away from the major Words. What if a human came to embody War ... to the exclusion of Michael? Alternatively, assume that God Given Words are the ones that cannot be stripped this way. That puts the demons and all the newer Wordbound in a bad spot, but at least you can always kill Humans... or can you?

WordLock: What if killing a human doesn't help? Once a human takes a Word, that word is Taken and Done With. Killing the human just means that Word in all its potential, positive and negative, is lost. That would be bad, right? Maybe if the human passes on in a natural, Symphonic way, they free up the Word on the way out. But if you kill -9 the human, they depart ungracefully leaving the Word still locked. Anyone have the root password to reboot the Symphony? As a final choice, perhaps humans can still take Words from each other under the right circumstances under any of these rulesets.

Knowledge (Celestial): Maybe, perhaps, possibly...there's nothing definite here. Does anyone know? Perhaps no celestial. The reason Lilith is alive and to some degree courted by both sides could be that NOBODY (even her!) knows the answers to all the questions posed by this...


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