The spiral staircase led down into the hidden basement. The door above us closed with a clang and darkness was complete for a moment, as I and my guide went deeper. I heard his steps change as he reached bottom and was prepared when I arrived myself a few steps behind. When we were both down he flipped a hidden light switch, and suddenly we were surrounded by bright reflections off of ornate gold and silver filigree on most surfaces in the small hall. Statuary lined the walkway we proceeded through, done in an old style I thought I recognized... gracious, Tang Dynasty influence on a Gabrielite Kyriotate unless I missed my guess.
“Tang Dynasty, Heaven work,” said my guide.
“I see you’re a connoisseur. Stone, actually, but worked closely with Gabrielites sculpting sculptors.“
“Exquisite. This place needs to be kept secret for those alone; the influence they would have on human artwork would be ruinous.”
He bowed slightly. “There are other reasons, but the Archangel will be pleased to remember your compliment when it comes to his attention.”
We were slipping into antique accents as he parted the curtains at the far end of the hall. Perhaps I’d misheard him. And, the Archangel made these? But, patience. The first question. “What a curious phrasing,” I said.
“All will be explained,” replied one of the figures seated in the room. My guide joined them, and I waited quietly as they joined hands and murmured a practiced Song.
Seven pairs of eyes turned to me in concert. The one in a Davidian Kyriotate’s stone vessel lifted an eyebrow in amusement, and inclined its head. Interesting – that Vessel had been edgy iron pyrite a moment ago. I was sure it was turning to real, smooth gold as I watched. Did David provide metal Vessels?
The Archangel spoke in seven voices, and I understood it to be one. “We have been informed of your skill at the forge: your long hours honing your abilities, and your preference for a single student at a time. We have observed for ourselves that your work bespeaks mastery. You would be an asset to our service – and, perhaps, happier serving among fellows more appreciative of the path of solitary dedication, or the relation of a master and apprentice, rather than wider bonds of brotherhood. This was discerned by speaking with you roundaboutly on the possibilities of joining such a society, or even transferring Superiors; both your loyalty to Stone, as you understood it, and the kind of society that piqued your interest, has been judged of a sort receptive to our service. Thus the offer is made: what would you say to becoming a Mercurian not of Stone, but of Metal?”
All the arguments as to why there is not an Archangel of Metal are well known. There are many angels of individual metals and none of them is worthy to a degree outstanding his brethren. The Word would duplicate connotation with David. Natural philosophical systems of one part of the world, however broad, need not shape Heavenly policy. If all of these sound like somewhat weak arguments, that’s because they are. In truth, the natural philosophy embedded in the cultural referents of a billion people makes for an extremely important front in the War, and one on which Heaven has no intention of yielding ground. However, there is just enough validity to the points raised that a permanent Archangel of Metal would be a touchy proposition. So a curious solution was proposed.
The finest of the angels of metals were gathered, and the Celestial Song of Unity produced from them a gestalt being. That being, taking the name Awase (it means “mixture” or “blending”) was raised by the Seraphim Council to become the Archangel of Metal... and then, at the end of the Song, faded away to secrecy. When needed, the seven angels gather and Awase is summoned once more. If any one of them were killed, even while unconjoined, it would almost certainly be the death of the Archangel, but no one is certain. Thus, the Archangel’s very existence remains as closely held a secret as Heaven can manage. The occasional report of this and that incident has been known to make its way to Hell’s intelligence files, but the indications are surely scattered and point only to a mystery.
Awase has all the capabilities of any Archangel, from Heart attunements to Force-manipulation, so long as it exists. It always has seven instantiations running – the angels who make it up – and might be able to produce more, but has never needed to. The individual angels of metals who compose Awase are all of Stone, all ancient and powerful Word-Bound as likely to be found performing administrative duties in Heaven as on the front lines. The Cherub Angel of Iron is very little like the Mercurian Angel of Silver, but they share a fierce commitment to goals that they have forged through hours spent as one mind and centuries working together. Those goals are essentially involved with shaping the Sinitic cultures’ viewpoints on war, agriculture, material resources, discipline, grief, courage, and all the many connotations that millions of believers attribute to metal as an elemental concept. It is these common traits that dominate Awase’s personality when he is extant – a near obsession with the mission at hand, hardened by discipline and sharpened by a sense of short time.
Angels may be selected for service to the Archangel of Metal if they impress current angels of that Word with the qualities of the element: a rigid discipline, driving goal-orientation, and self-reliance. They must be well-experienced in China or nearby regions, and have internalized the cultural connotations of at least some branch of local philosophy. A candidate will be judged open to such service to an Archangel in addition to their current one, and express interests that seem to coincide with promotion of the Word.
This combination of factors, especially an emphasis on self-reliance, leads to the interesting result that the servitors of Stone make up only a plurality of “Servitors of Metal.” There are certainly plenty, and angels of the Sword make up the next largest group, but more surprising populations are to be found in Metal’s ranks. Feng shui tradition holds that construction should not be started during the Metal periods of autumn or evening, with autumn in general being devoted to the “Yin Metal” pursuit of the harvest, so construction-oriented Trogs are not much found in Metal’s ranks, but the most disciplined and subdued of Flowers angels may be approached regarding induction. Likewise, agents of Trade who are focused on ramifications of material goods, especially gold, silver, mining, and coinage, who seem to have a solid grounding in real things rather than airy financial nothings, are to be found in Metal’s ranks. Overall, the society provides quite a network of angels from Words that David himself is supposed to find distasteful, as long as their viewpoint on that Word is more Davidian than the norm.
Few angels are full Servitors of Metal. Most simply have a Servitor or Choir Attunement, or Rite. Awase is capable of creating native Servitors, and has done so primarily as Seneschals for his few Tethers. These are all Secret and let out in secure areas of the Catacombs near the Catacombs’ point of juncture with the Volcano. The few full Servitors of Metal keep their Hearts in or near these loci.
It is dissonant for a true Servitor of Metal to rust. Dissonance from any other source is doubled. Do not betray discipline.
Seraphim of Metal can refine ores and purify metals with a touch. 1 Essence will cast off 10 pounds of non-metallic dross from any amount of natural ore, or purify 1 pound of metal by a factor of ten (from 90% pure to 99%, from 99% to 99.9%, from 99.9% to 99.99% pure, etc.). This can also be used to separate alloys, with a successful Chemistry roll.
When it comes to protection, Cherubim of Metal lay it on thick and straightforward. For 1 Essence per yard of diameter, these Guardians can encase an inanimate object in a perfectly spherical orb of dark iron. The orb can be made much larger than the object, protecting it from nearly any corporeal attack and making it extremely difficult to move, or creating a substantial physical barrier. (Oh, it will roll... if you can start it moving.) The orb disappears after minutes equal to the degree of success on the Cherub’s original attunement roll, or upon dismissal.
These Wheels can impart some of their own celestial spin to realign the matrix of any metal they touch; for every Essence they spend, 1 pound of metal becomes magnetized. This effect is physical; it functions for 1 minute and exerts at its surface a force equal to the angel’s Celestial Forces in points of Strength, for every Essence spent, to a maximum multiple of the item’s weight in pounds. The magnetization may remain afterward if the material is susceptible to permanent magnetization. Rare-earth metals double the strength of the field, iron, nickel, cobalt and most of their alloys use the base values, other metals halve it, and specially-made materials can resist it entirely (mu-metal) or magnify it considerably.
These angels personify the keen edge of discipline. They add their Ethereal Forces to their Precision for any fine manual task. Quirkily, Awase’s Servitors double the addition for the specific tasks of surgery by scalpel, acupuncture, and sewing.
Malakim of Metal automatically succeed on performances of any of the Songs of Blades. Actually earning one of these Secret Songs is up to the angel. (Laurence and Michael know them; they are also the only Secret Songs Awase is known to hand out.)
Kyriotates of Metal can possess metal objects, though unlike those of Lightning they cannot move them. They retain sight, touch and hearing and can act mentally, including via Songs if they can perform without sound or movement. In possessing a metal object, they obtain detailed information on its chemical makeup. A successful Chemistry roll will answer questions such as elemental composition, crystallographic structure, impurities, tensile strength, and the like; in turn, the CD of that roll is a bonus to rolls involving that material where such information could be useful, such as craftwork, engineering, or alchemy. (Kyriotates with both Stone and Metal’s attunements can obtain metal Vessels.)
The opposite of the Seraphim, Mercurians of metal cause flow and form alloys. For 1 Essence, they can soften up to their Corporeal Forces in pounds of metal and reshape them with simple hand pressure. For double the Essence, they can make the metal act as if fully liquid despite being room temperature, capable of being alloyed with other metals or cast in ingots. This requires a touch if being used in battle, counting as an attack against the object targeted. The metal re-hardens the instant contact is lost.
The bearer of this Attunement gains a bonus equal to his Corporeal Forces to the Power of maneuvers intended to break or cut a wooden weapon or item, and a bonus of Ethereal Forces to the skills necessary to target these. The latter bonus also applies to carpentry, woodworking art, papermaking, and all relevant skills.
Discipline channels intellect. The bearer selects a number of Songs he knows equal to his Celestial Forces, and a number of skills he knows equal to his Ethereal Forces. He practices certain intuitive drills for a month, and thereafter nothing short of unconsciousness can break his concentration on these; he always performs them as if undistracted, with his Forces and attributes as they were during his practice times. With another month’s practice, he can change his choices, though anything dropped is immediately dropped.
(In a game with “The Waters Will Rise,” Servitors of Metal are extremely interested in developments concerning the late Oannes. The existence of their own Archangel as a transient entity suggests to them at least one way that Oannes might have survived in an altered form.)
In hand-to-hand combat, the angel becomes exceedingly good at targeting the Metal points on a target’s body: the lungs (vitals), nose, and esophagus. He halves the usual hit location penalties for targeting these areas, and performs choke holds, neck grabs, and similar maneuvers at base skill. (This Attunement may make more sense in GURPS. The color intent is that the angel can target a foe’s respiratory system; GMs may interpret as they wish.)
Awase hardly has enough Servitors to require any senior Servitors. His seven component angels are quite sufficient to that task.
Typically, Awase does not even exist to be invoked. Contact one of his component angels directly and seek an audience.
The material presented here is the creation of William Keith, and is intended for use with the In Nomine system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.
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