Word-binding Seneschals

By William J. Keith


Seneschals may be Word-bound to their Tethers. This process grants the Seneschal significant abilities beyond that granted by simply attuning them to the Tether; however, it also afflicts them with the main disadvantage of a Word, namely, the prospect of going into decline and eventually dying with their Tether. As a Tether can be an ephemeral entity, wholly dependent on fickle human perceptions and behavior, Seneschals Word-bound to their Tethers often face considerably more danger of sudden or slow death than the average Word-bound. In particular, being Word-bound to a living Tether, which must eventually die, can be easily construed by immortal beings as a virtual death sentence. Heaven and Hell each have ways of dealing with this problem.

The simplest solution is to attune the Seneschal to the Tether rather than bind them. In a canonical campaign, for most Tethers, this is an acceptable solution. Celestials chosen for Seneschal duty are frequently proven Servitors with a long record of devoted service, and their Superior will want to preserve them for future duty. The Seneschal forgoes the additional abilities of the Tether as a Word, but for minor Tethers, or short-lived Tethers, the attunement abilities are frequently strategically sufficient.

For major Tethers, or Tethers under frequent attack by the Other Side, this may not be enough. However, such Tethers are often strongly perceived and celestially very stable, or otherwise long-lasting. Each of these presents a useful solution.

In the case of strongly-perceived Tethers with a powerful impact on a Superior's Word, one option held out to potential Seneschals is future expansion of the Tether-Word to a more stable Word related to a concept the Tether embodies. This is most appealing to demons who seek advancement, though cautious angels may welcome the prospect as well. For example, the Word-Bound Seneschal of a major Tether of Andrealphus', La Coste (the castle of the Marquis de Sade), is widely rumored to be in line for the Word of "the Hedonist Rich" once La Coste starts fading -- presuming that Andrealphus finds the Seneschal's efforts worth the upgrade. On the other hand, Hell has a separate sort of option for this kind of situation, and said Seneschal may decide to earn the Word of Sadism itself (which would, of course, require offing the current holder of the Word). In such a case, a new Seneschal would be Word-Bound to La Coste under the expanded Word of the newly-promoted Seneschal -- probably with the same deal.

Some Tethers are very long lasting. Shenir, a Malakite of Light, still keeps watch over a four-billion-year-old natural Tether which has no need of human knowledge. Heaven has by far the lion's share of such old, natural Tethers, since many of them have been around for far longer than the War. The Word of such a Tether can be as permanent as any of the major Words, and the Senseschal Word-bound to such a strong, old Tether rarely need fear for their continued existence except as a direct consequence of the War.

Living Tethers present unique problems with their finite lifespans. The Corporeal Song of Entropy, or Eli's Ofanim, can be invaluable here, if the Tether is far away from Man and its agelessness will not be noticed. However, the Tether can still fail (often in a relatively short time, on the War's timescale), due to disease, accident, or malice. Attunement is the heavily-preferred solution here. If a Seneschal must be Word-bound, rapid advancement to standard Worded status is often planned. However, it must be said that some celestials accept mortality in this manner, whether from emotional exhaustion, self-destructiveness, or selfless duty. Some of all three of these might be found in the motivations of The Old Guy, Word-bound Seneschal of the Treaty Oak. In fact, whether an expansion is planned or not, angels are far more likely to volunteer for this duty, as with their selfless nature they are willing to take greater personal risks for the sake of the War.

One should note that it is possible for Lucifer to give an unwilling (or even unaware!) demon a Word. In this way, an unlucky demon might find himself bound to a Tether, working desperately to earn a way out while at the same time devoted mind and soul to a concept that has just been made part of his being.

The last and least-favored solution is Word-stripping. However, it is rare indeed that the Seraphim Council or Lucifer will feel a Tether important enough to require a Worded Seneschal, when it is temporary enough to require a planned Word-stripping later. Even though the two events may happen decades apart, this is energy-intensive for the overseeing entity(-ies) and painful for the celestial that must undergo such rough handling. As the Seraphim Council will take the Seneschal's concerns under greater consideration, this is more likely to happen to a demon. (An angel is more likely to volunteer to ride out the Tether's lifetime, for the good of Heaven.)


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