Zadkiel the Angel of Justice, Memory, Luck, Self-Awareness, and Roads
Zadkiel is not the most powerful angel in Heaven, but he holds an important responsibility. He represents divine justice on the worlds of the Ash.
He does not judge other angels, and he has little authority in Heaven. The beauty of Heaven that trickles down into creation loses its perfection and incorruptibility when exposed to worlds hanging on the branches of the Tree, and so the justice that Zadkiel represents is only what he can bring to lesser beings. He embodies a powerful and necessary force in the universe, but those who believe that as the Angel of Justice, representing one of the angels' highest principles, he holds elite status among his peers, would be mistaken. Zadkiel is very much aware of how mean justice is outside of Heaven. His duty is more a chore than a glory, like someone who has heard the music of Brahms and Beethoven performed by the greatest orchestras of all time being made into a high school band teacher.
But he does not resent his duties, nor does he ever betray a hint of dissatisfaction. He carries out his mission zealously. He loves his Estates, Justice no more than any of his others. He is a perfectionist, and doesn't really understand mortal creatures. He does not even understand his own Powers. He is perfect and flawless, as an angel should be. His Powers contain shards of his own soul; therefore, should they not also be perfect in the execution of their duties? Zadkiel does not tolerate, because he does not comprehend, failure or lack of ability to carry out his wishes.
His countenance is stern and (naturally) judgmental. Mortals in his presence feel all their sins weighing against them, and cannot suppress any feelings of guilt they might have. It is not uncommon for the most iniquitous to sweat beads of blood in Zadkiel's presence. The greatest punishment Zadkiel can exact on a human is to afflict him with a perpetually recurring "playback" of his most evil deeds, along with the full realization of his culpability, pared of all rationalizations or equivocations or self-deceptions. To face oneself without filters can be a terrible thing.
But some humans are devoid of guilt, whether because they are sociopaths, or because they truly believe their actions were justified. Zadkiel could simply make them feel guilty, of course, but that would not be justice -- it would be akin to making an innocent man guilty. Punishment must be imposed internally or externally, but one cannot "cheat" and alter the conditions that call for justice.
Thus, he has a second punishment: Banishment. With a touch of his left hand, Zadkiel can send any mortal (and even a Power, with an Imperial Miracle) to the Wastelands, a realm of eternal cold and endless frozen wastes.
Zadkiel came to Earth thousands of years ago, during Rome's ascent. He was very fond of Rome, helping shape its legal codes, and even some of its roads. He did not have Powers then; he came to Earth to shed a little bit of Heaven there, and he created The Wayfarers, a mystery cult dedicated to traveling the world's roads and seeking clues to perfect justice, fortune, and enlightenment that Zadkiel left scattered around the world. The Wayfarers learned paltry bits of Imperator lore, enough to bring themselves bits of luck, and pass on their memories to succeeding generations. It was said that when a Wayfarer had traveled every road on Earth, and that the memories of all Wayfarers were collected in one place, thus holding knowledge of every road in a single repository of knowledge, that they would be given the secret of a truly divine society, one in which justice is perfect and unavoidable, one which is incorruptible, one which mirrors Heaven itself in its justness.
But Zadkiel, not understanding how fallible humans are, left Earth then, and the Wayfarers slowly became corrupted, first by Fallen angels, and later by Execrucians. Now they are a widespread and powerful secret society, still possessing some of the magics Zadkiel left for them. They are travelers with magics of the road, they know how to bring themselves good fortune and curse others with bad fortune, and they can copy and transfer memories amongst themselves. They still seek that final enlightenment that will come when they have collectively traveled all the world's roads, but unknown to them, Zadkiel's gift has been perverted; if they ever actually succeed, they may instead unravel all the roads on Earth.
When the corruption of his mystery cult was brought to Zadkiel's attention, he came to Earth resolving to set matters right. After a stern talking-to by Gabriel and Raphael, Zadkiel was convinced that he needed to stick around until the job was done this time. He enchancelled himself and chose his Powers and promptly became embroiled in a bitter feud with Darklord Medan, host of the Locust Court. Zadkiel's demanding nature has led to a high attrition rate among his Powers (and it is rumored that some of Medan's servants and allies also have played a hand in it). In just 50 years, every one of Zadkiel's Nobles has had to be replaced at least once. Zadkiel is sure each time that his new shard will perform to expectations.
They are typical humans, but possess some magics and are able to cause all the problems described under "Corrupted Mystery Cults" for Zadkiel's powers. In particular, many members of the cult have the equivalent of the Wayfinder Gift, and some have rituals that work like the Luck Gift.
She was once a psychiatrist, plying her trade in the mental health ward of Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. Even before she became a Noble, she revelled in her duties, and experienced a great personal joy whenever her patients had a breakthrough. She was a major proponent of the theory that almost all problems of humanity can be traced to denial of basic faults and strengths- especially on an individual basis. It was a firm belief that if people were honest with themselves and followed the adage of "Know Thyself", then much of the tension existing in the world would not exist. Her devotion to the cause of self-awareness drew the attention of the previous Domina of that aspect of reality, who secretly began influencing, grooming her to take his place as the noble of self-knowledge. The previous occupant of the role (Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud) was growing old. She has only just been EnNobled at her predecessor's passing, and is just beginning to be aquainted with her new situation, though already she's made a name for herself in her Chancel.
A Power of Light, she feels drawn to the preservation of humanity on both the global level and personal. With her level 0 Aspect, she herself remains intricately tied to humanity for in that manner at least she is no greater than any other mortal. Her own mortality is an important part of who she is, and a part of her looks forward to growing old and dying, as these are essential parts of the human condition.
Bob Richards, once a computer programmer formerly of London, England, found himself at the age of 24 thrust into the position of luck incarnate. Initially stunned by the massive change to his very existence, he began to get somewhat cocky with regards the possibilities that were now open to him. The one thing that prevented him falling into insufferable arrogance was when he felt for the first time a mirror breaking, on the other side of the world...
Taking care of his estate absorbs the lion's share of his time, a task he goes about with relish. However, despite his command of luck, or perhaps because of its demands on his time, he is a relatively minor personage within his Imperator's chancel compared to some, and his soul does not blaze the brightest.
In the mid-1980s, her father was a Soviet military attache in their Washington embassy, helping to run the spy network for 3 years, before a political problem with his superior caused him to be recalled to the Soviet Union. He had been toying with the idea of defecting for a few years, and instead of returning, he defected to the United States along with his family. He was thoroughly debriefed by the CIA, and many Soviet spies in the US were arrested as a result.
Since the defection, the family has been given new identities. Her parents now run a successful Fusion-style restaurant business, serving a non-traditional recipes that mix a range of styles. Their new history is that they emigrated in the mid 80s from the Soviet Union, and had previously run a factory in Russia.
As the baby of the family, Tasha is the most American one in the family. She speaks with a fluent American accent, with only the slightest hint of a Russian accent. She does pepper her speech with Russian, a habit picked up from her family (family members tend to speak to each other in Russian or in Russo-American). Words like "da", "nyet", "da svidanya", tend to find their way into her speech, lending her a slightly exotic air.
During high school, she got together with Jon Alexander in a long-lasting relationship, which extended into college. Unfortunately for her, one of Jon's friends, Amy Lisle, also fancied Jon, and started a subtle campaign to separate the two of them. This culminated in her arranging Jon to see Tasha kissing Simon, a friend of hers, during the graduation party. It was a friendly kiss, rather than one of passion, but in his slightly drunken state, Jon was easily persuaded otherwise by Amy.
Jon and Tasha had a blazing row, and split up soon after. Amy moved quickly and became Jon's next girlfriend. Soon after that, Tasha was elevated into Nobility, but resisted the temptation to meddle with their memories. Up until her elevation, Tasha had only a slight inkling of Amy's duplicity in the breaking up of her relationship with Jon, but unable to resist the temptation of going through Jon and Amy's memories, she discovered the horrific truth.
She still loved Jon, and discovered that he still loved her, though he felt he couldn't trust her. He was made into an Anchor reluctantly. Amy, by now a known enemy, was forced into becoming an Anchor. For her third Anchor, she asked her older brother Misha, who was glad to help his beloved baby sister.
Ryan grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, the oldest son in a family with five childred. Three of those children, and his father (who was in law enforcement) were killed after being caught in the crossfire of a gang war when Ryan was 13. His father's closest friend, a police chief in Chicago, acted as a sort of substitute father for the family, and so naturally when Ryan grew up he went into law enforcement. He had an impressive arrest record, but never rose very high in the ranks because he was unwilling to turn a blind eye to anything. Regardless of rank, however, his name was feared on the street - he seemed to have an uncanny knack for finding and bringing to justice - or at least bringing to the justice system - the worst violaters of the law. Among the less well - off people of Chicago he became something of a hero - he didn't ever look the other way, for anyone, or anybody.
Russell's always been on the move. In high school, he worked as a delivery boy. His college plans got postponed by the Draft Board, and he wound up in Vietnam, driving supplies where they were theoretically needed. On his eventual return, he set out to see America, hitch-hiking from one side of the country to the other.
Partway back, he met Paula. She got pregnant, they got married. Life working a factory job held him for a couple of years, but he managed to work his way back to the road, and by the time the kids were in school, he was driving auto parts across the country. The money was good, and the benefits were better, what with seniority and all.
He retired at 62, the kids grown, some of them with kids of their own, and he and Paula would finally get to take the Winnebago and see the country, just the two of them on the open road.
Until that night.
A flat tire. No problem. He pulled over, set the emergency blinker, and made the long walk back to set the flares. Paula started some tea -- it would be good to come back to, on such a cool, damp night.
Then it happened. A G.D. yellow corvette, dashing in and out of lanes, darting into the right lane, ignoring the 18-wheeler already there. Brakes, lights, cars skidding on the slick road, and the sickening -crunch- of his life ending.
She died on the way to the hospital, as he rode with her, holding her hand and praying, praying as he'd never prayed before. He died, too, maybe. He's still not sure. He felt something tearing, and the light got blinding and white. And one other thing. He could =feel= the road under him, like something alive. He felt it trying to get them there faster, answering his prayer. Then it was gone, and so was he.
The Free State of Nogorovgrad -- Zadkiel's Chancel
In the far north of Russia, on the very edge of Siberia, is/was a one-time fur-trading town that had always been racous and independent, a "Wild West" town on the Siberian frontier. It had had other names in earlier history, but the Soviets named it Spavograd, and the residents renamed it Nogorovgrad.
Always seething with resentment under Soviet rule, the citizens of Nogorovgrad broke into open rebellion in 1954 and declared themselves "The Free State of Nogorovgrad."
The USSR sent Colonel Pyotr Nogorov to suppress the rebellion. Nogorov was a highly-decorated veteran of World War II, but unknown to his superiors, his parents were actually from Nogorovgrad. He convinced his command to defend the city instead, and for a few brief months, the Free State of Nogorovgrad flourished, with a simple and straightforward set of laws, and justice enforced equally for all.
Then the USSR sent General Dorchev Petrov to crush the rebellion. Petrov was known as "The Butcher," both for his tactics during World War II, and for his tactics against rebels following the war. He loved pounding cities to dust and breaking the spirit of the civilian population. But despite being vastly outnumbered and fighting a hopeless battle, the citizens of Nogorovgrad fought bravely and ferociously.
At some point in the carnage, Nogorovgrad was pulled out of Russia and reanchored....somewhere else. Now surrounded by trackless tundra and pristine forests, a fur-trapper's paradise, Nogorovgrad has been erased from Prosaic reality both by Soviet revisionist historians and by the power of the Angel Zadkiel, who made it his chancel upon his return to Earth. The Free State of Nogorovgrad is not in Mythic reality -- its people still see the world through Prosaic eyes (though many of them have some awareness of Mythic reality), but it is isolated in a sort of pocket dimension, no longer connected geographically to Earth. Roads do lead in and out of Nogorovgrad, and if one wishes, one can travel those roads to get to various places on Earth (and back). But without knowing the way, those who walk out of Nogorovgrad walk into an endless Siberia -- not an unpleasant place, for tigers and bears and wolves and deer still roam freely, and forests stand uncut, but certainly a harsh place for the uninitiated.
Pyotr Nogorov is now the permanent Governor of the city. His priorities are maintaining Nogorovgrad's code of laws, and maintaining its defense. He is a stiff-necked war-hero prone to an autocratic style, and he's generally mistrustful of Zadkiel's Powers. He gives them due courtesy, but considers them to be pampered foreigners who have been elevated to Nobility but who shed none of the blood, sweat, and tears that built Nogorovgrad. Thus, in his mind, they should have no say in the running of the city, but should be content to be residents.
The Nogorovgrad Militia is a fearsome force, being magically enhanced soldiers of the former Soviet Army, reinforced by spirits of winter when necessary. They man the gates of Nogorovgrad and patrol its exterior. Over time, Nogorovgrad has regressed, visually, to a 19th-century aesthetic, looking like a fortified frontier town, even though within they have electricity and modern medicine and other contemporary technology. It is quite a sight to see Russian MIGs scrambling over the wooden pallisades of the city. The Militia also has tanks and artillery, but those winter spirits, taken from the heart of Russia herself, are what makes Nogorovgrad's defenders very difficult to defeat in a siege.
One road leading out of Nogorovgrad does not take you back to Prosaic Earth, but instead leads to an even more desolate place. Some call it the Wastelands, some call it the Endless Winter, some call it Eternal Siberia. Traitors and other terrible criminals are sent out on that road, which becomes colder and colder with every step, sapping your strength and your will until you are a shivering, frostbitten wretch.... but the damned souls cursed to wander the trackless frozen wastes beyond Nogorovgrad never die. They are arctic ghosts, haunting the wastelands, cold and hungry, for eternity. (Or until Zadkiel, very, very rarely, decides to bring someone back.)
The forests surrounding Nogorovgrad mostly contain normal animals, but there are a few magical beasts with furs resplendent in miraculous energy absorbed from Zadkiel when he first enchancelled himself here. Thus, Zadkiel's Powers occasionally go on hunts to bring back a golden boar or a giant wolf, and the Miracle Points that can be extracted from their hides.
Nogorovgrad is a vibrant, free-spirited city, with a remarkably low crime rate for a "frontier" town (having an angel in residence tends to keep people's passions wholesome). However, it is not without its dark corners. Some of the Soviet soldiers who came to crush the Free State were also trapped with it when it became a Chancel. They have become undead revenants who occasionally launch attacks against the city from the forests, or ambush fur trappers. It is said that Dorchev Petrov is their leader, still dreaming of reducing Nogorovgrad to rubble, but for now he is merely a bitter ghoul, as he has no power to overwhelm a city containing the heart of an angel. Still, besides the Soviet marauders and occasional diabolical beasts who haunt the forests, sometimes bad things happen in the city. Unexploded ordnance is a common hazard, but Zadkiel's Powers suspect there are some other Banes who have actually wormed their way past Nogorovgrad's gates. For one thing, bureaucracy in Nogorovgrad remains Soviet-like, sometimes to a kafkaesque degree, and it seems whatever mysterious nemesis has influnce in the city's offices takes particular delight in scheduling street repairs and fire drills outside Zadkiel's Nobles' estates at three o'clock in the morning, particularly after they have just returned from an exhausting hunt or a battle with Execrucians in the outside world. Then there are the frequent and suspiciously-timed power failures and water outages, misdirected mail, and other petty inconveniences that one would think should not afflict Nogorovgrad Nobles with Realm miracles at their command.
Of course, some of this might be due to meddling by Darklord Medan's Powers (though it seems unlikely they would be successful in infiltrating Nogorovgrad the Militia is very good). Medan despises Zadkiel, as Zadkiel has been openly campaigning to move the courtroom for Noble society on Earth from the Locust Court to Nogorovgrad. Medan's Powers will certainly cause trouble for Nogorovgrad, its residents, and its Powers, at any opportunity.
(Given 9 points in PC Realm scores.)
Total: 19 points