Two Groups - Trade and Greed

By James Walker


Humans die. Not a problem in and of itself: on the contrary, many Celestials consider it a good thing. But as any human can bond themselves to an artifact, and the Symphonically Aware can make artifacts, this does result in artifacts scattered around the Corporeal Plane, far from the humans who owned them. Both Heaven and Hell take advantage of this.


Bequests is the name of a small clearing house run by Trade. They busily buy up Artifacts from those who find them but cannot or will not bond the artifact: then Cherubs of Trade (and of Creation - may of Eli's Cherubs have ended up working for Bequests) tracks down the original owner. Assuming that the owner was human, and is in Heaven, arranging for the transfer of the artifact is fairly simple - most humans will gladly trade an item they can no longer use in return for a Cherub being attuned to a loved one for the remainder of that person's life. Similarly, if the human is going to be reincarnated, the artifact is simply stored until they return. Of course, nothing can be done if the human has disbanded; the artifact must be bonded the hard way. Complications arise when the human is either Hell or The Marches. Although angels are not permitted to deal with Ethereals without permission, humans can. Negotiations by Trade are normally conducted via mundane Lucid Dreamers employed on temporary contract by Trade. Fortunately, most artifacts created by Dreamshades during their mortal life are Talismans, which the mundanes can use: the ethereals rarely guess that they have been dealing with Heaven.

If the artifact's owner is in Hell, things are more difficult, and it's rare for these items to be bonded. As often as not, they end up sitting in a Tether waiting for a solution. However, Trade doesn't waste resources; Demons assume that it won't be difficult to bully a Damned soul into transferring ownership of the artifact after the demon has acquired it, so Malakim use these artifacts as bait to encourage diabolical attacks which they can ambush. Overhearing a Seraph comment that a stash of artifacts are going to be transferred from one Tether to another, and that the bureaucrat in charge of security has refused to authorise any extra guards, is too much for most demons to resist: one more reason why Trade has been defeating Greed.

However - there are rumours. Nothing substantiated, of course. And nothing actually unethical. But...that one about Trade hiring a Sorcerer to Summon & bind a Djinn, which was used to contact the Damned; contrary to the laws of Heaven, yes, but if they did, surely they'd just be fighting the War? Strengthening Heaven? Of course, the fact that these artifacts are being continually moved from Tether to Tether while trolling for demons means that it's difficult for Judgement to confirm that all of the artifacts are still there - especially as very occasionally one is captured by Hell.

Mort Prise

Greed's answer to Bequests, Mort Prise takes a more pro-active stance towards humans with artifacts. Those who are too useful to mug/kill are lured towards Damnation - minor Word Bound routinely sell their Rites to these individuals, and have developed worship Rites to trap those who are not Symphonically Aware. Where ever possible, the human is persuaded to formally sell their soul so as to guarantee Greed possession. Despite this, Mort Prise often finds themselves with an artifact whose owner is in Heaven - or a different Principality, which is sometimes worse. After all, if the owner is in Heaven, the item can often be sold (at an extortionate rate) to an angel whose Superior hates one of Mammon's rivals in Hell. If the owner is held by one of Mammon's enemies, things get uglier. As such, Mort Prise is a regular employer of (Free) Lilim, with ownership of artifacts travelling from sister to sister until residing safely with the Bank.

Dealing with Ethereals and Dreamshades is somewhat easier for Mort Prise - they tend to think of it as dealing with Nightmare's backwater slums. The desperation their 'customers' feel makes for one-sided transactions.


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