===The Seraphim: Sentinels of Gehenna===
the SeraphimLong, long ago, the Tremere created the first Gargoyle. He was, upon awakening, sent forth to multiply, creating the hordes of shocktroopers and guardians the Tremere needed to survive their early years. One of these Gargoyles, created that very night by the First, managed to keep his sense of the ironic even though the Embrace destroyed most of his other memories. He named himself Gabriel, in contrast to his new demonic appearance. Gabriel served Tremere well, despite the way they treated him, alternately as cannon fodder or as furniture, it seemed, and the way they mocked his appearance.
When the revolt came, Gabriel stood with the rebels, and after leaving the service of Tremere, he found himself gainful employment as a bodyguard for a Fifth Generation Tzimisce named Rebecca. With Gabriel about, she never had to worry for her safety, as he protected her on her outings and saw that no intruders entered her castle nestled deep in the Alps. Rebecca was a member of the Black Hand, and she had a habit of talking to Gabriel, much as some mortals talk to their pets. She would ramble on about meetings with her superiors, about how the formation of the False Hand within the Sabbat was going, about the deadly seed of Vicissitude which had tainted most of her clan. She told Gabriel how the Souleaters came to this world, and how the Hand intended to cleanse the world of this blemish before the Antediluvians awoke. Gabriel expressed an interest in Vicissitude, as it was capable of removing his monstrous appearance, but she assured him that it was too dangerous to seek it out. Too simple for him to become infected, and what then? She even brought in an oak tree seedling that had been tainted and used it for study, before finally one day destroying it, muttering that it was too dangerous to keep such a vile thing about the castle. Gabriel had to admit that the seedling had been - unpleasant. And yet - how frustrating, to have a power so close that could remake him, perhaps not as he had been, as he no longer remembered what he had looked like as a mortal, but anything would be better than what he was! But his mistress would not lie to him. If it was anything less than too dangerous, then she would try to help him. After all, did he not serve her well?
It was near 1600 AD that Rebecca and Gabriel went to Prague, to investigate rumors the Hand heard concerning demonic kindred. The irony was not lost on Gabriel, who by now had begun to wonder: was he not himself demonic in origin? It would explain much. It was as they investigated the rubble of a wrecked church that they found the Baali, or rather, the Baali found them. The attack came swiftly, as a horned, winged beast dove from the sky at Rebecca. It rippled with heat, and it's legs were goatlike. Gabriel intercepted it, and the ancient Gargoyle fought what seemed a true demon in the sky over Prague. The demon was powerful, breathing gouts of flame at the stony kindred, but Gabriel's Stonekin power and Fortitude allowed him to resist the worst of it. It wasn't long before the battle ended, the demon's corporeal form destroyed by Gabriel's mighty blows. He then landed in the churchyard, and helped Rebecca finish the few remaining Baali. Some of them, too, hurled fire at the pair, but Gabriel's rocky hide would not burn.
After the battle, Gabriel methodically broke the sole living Baali's bones until his mistress was satisfied with what she had learned. She turned away, walking back to the carriage saying "You may kill him now, Gabriel. However you like." Then she paused, and over her shoulder she added "Just make it hurt." And then she was gone.
The Baali looked up at Gabriel, and, bloody tears flowing, sobbed "Forgive us, Lord." He coughed, blood bubbling past his lips. "We did not know the Lady was yours." The words were slurred, as the man's jaw was broken. Gabriel, surprised, arched a stony eyebrow and shrugged his wings in annoyance. "Explain yourself," he rumbled, shaking the broken kindred for emphasis. "The demon we summoned - " he rasped, "could have defeated anything - except a Greater Demon." He smiled. "Like you."
This enraged Gabriel, even as it shattered the last of his doubts as to what he truly was. Convinced that he was no man, only demon after all, his last shred of Humanity died, and he slew the Baali in the most horrific way he knew: by diablerie, and in the process he absorbed much of the Sixth Generation Baali's mind and soul. In his memories, he found the Path of Evil Revelations, and took it for his own. He found Daimoinon, and took that as well. His very Nature changed from Caregiver, as befit his station of bodyguard, to Deviant, as befit his station as a Lord of Hell. The Gabriel that returned to the carriage was nothing at all like the Gabriel Rebecca had known. Seeing his "mistress," he decided to see what she kept secret. Using his newfound Daimoinon power to Sense the Sin, he discovered her greatest shame. Years ago, when she had been experimenting on that oak seedling tainted with the dark discipline Vicissitude, she had become infected. The seed of the Souleater had grown in her, and she had used arcane rituals to hide this from her allies in the Hand. The voice of the dead Baali whispered in his mind "She could have changed you at any time! She chose to let you remain a monster, and now you are one! Why, she could have made you an Angel, but instead chose to leave you as you are, a Demon!" Enraged, Gabriel tore the carriage apart, and devoured his mistress on the spot, infecting himself as well as taking her generation and power.
Gabriel was something new now, more than kindred, he knew. Demon perhaps, but the power was in him to be Angel as well, was it not? He spent the next few years learning who and what he was, and deciding what to do with this knowledge.
Five years later, the castle formerly owned by Rebecca and defended by Gabriel came under siege by forty winged kindred, some demonic in appearance, some positively angelic. The members of the Hand who had made that castle their home after Rebecca's death were all slaughtered, save one Nagaraja who managed to excape into the Shadowlands. Thanks to Rebecca's loose tongue, Gabriel, and the other Seraphim he created, knew all about the Hand, and knew that the Hand would see them all destroyed, just because they were jealous of their mastery of Vicissitude. This was intolerable, and the Seraphim chose instead to attack first. The Seraphim would survive until the last days, when they would sweep the earth and slay the wicked, i.e. everyone. If the survival of the Seraphim depended on the destruction of the Hand, then so be it.
Nickname: Angels of Death
Appearance: The Seraph's natural form is a demonic variation of the Gargoyle norm. Still hideous and winged, most have horns upon their brow, and cloven hooves instead of feet. Many also have tails (If the tail is prehensile, it is a two point merit.). The Seraphim routinely use their powers of Vicissitude to alter this appearance, becoming beautiful and angelic, with great white wings, although individuals have been seen with black, gold, or even green wings. They are beautiful or monstrous, ignoring the middle ground. (Note: the maximum appearance can be raised is equal to the Seraph's Vicissitude rating. Thus odds are good that if you encounter a Seraph with an appearance of Eight, it's most likely Gabriel himself.)
Havens: Vary widely. Cathedrals or tenements. Caves or castles. The only constant is that the havens must be large, as the Seraphim often live in large groups. Each "flock" or "congregation" centers around one Archangel, or Demon Lord, depending on that Seraph's whim and appearance at the moment.
Background: The bloodline maintains a mostly low profile. The are determined to endure until the Armageddon, when, as fortold in Revelations, they will scour the earth clean of the unfaithful. In the meantime, they destroy the Black Hand whenever they can. But the sect is good at staying hidden, and most often the Seraphim must settle with wiping out Sabbat packs that contain False Hand members. The Seraphim are paranoid about protecting the Archangels, as their bloodline depends on their survival.
Character Creation: The Archangels like to Embrace only the most holy, and unholy from the mortal populace. Saints and serial killers make up the bloodline, even though like their forbears the Gargoyles, neonate Seraphim lose their memories of their mortal lives. Physical or Social Attributes are most often primary, as are Talents. Remember though, they have a natural appearance of Zero, and can only change that through Vicissitude. All are taught the Path of Evil Revelations and it's teachings are rigidly enforced. Also, most Seraphim over forty years old have at least one demonic investment.
Weaknesses: Their natural appearance of Zero is distinctive, but can and is changed at will. They have amnesia, but only affecting their mortal memories. As they are descended from Gargoyles, they are at -1 Willpower to resist any form of mind control. And their particular weakness is that only a single Seraph from each generation can produce progeny. Those individuals are named the Archangels, and all the rest have the flaw: Infertile Vitae. The Archangels are: 5th gen. Gabriel, 6th gen. Michael, 7th gen. Raphael, 8th gen. Ephram (now deceased), 9th gen. Eva, 10th gen. Azazel (now deceased), 11th gen. Lilith, and 12th gen. Noah (now deceased). No Thirteenth generation Archangel is known to exist. Because only these five Seraphim are capable of reproducing, the others defend them with their lives.
Organization: Many are lone agents, wandering the earth believing themselves to be earthly incarnations of Angels or Demons - or both. They often work with the Baali, who are greatly impressed by them. Each Archangel is at all times guarded by a flock of Seraphim, all of whom would gladly sacrifice themselves to ensure that the Archangel survives. The Archangels are loathe to stay in any one place for any length of time, as the Hand is always seeking to destroy the other five breeding Seraphim. In fact, there is a rumor that, because of a pack Gabriel forged with the devil Beelzebub, should Gabriel himself be killed, all the remaining Seraphim would be pulled into Hell as well. Whether or not this is true - Gabriel is always well-defended.
Quote: "Now child, don't be afraid. See me, and know that God is real, as I am His angel sent to you. The Lord your God loves you dearly - not that that will save you now, poor child." (Sound of tearing flesh and camera focuses on two blood-spattered white feathers drifting slowly away on the wind - )
Black Hand: These slaves of the Antediluvians fancy themselves to be the agents of Gehenna. They are fools. We are the Horsemen fortold by the scriptures, and We will remove these pretenders to Glory. (The Seraphim are a perfect example of how dangerous Vicissitude can be.They are a threat that endangers us all.)
Camarilla: Sheep. Worthy of shepherding, certainly, but beneath us. To slay one is to bestow him great honor. (From what I have seen, they are bitter enemies of the Sabbat. In that, they are our allies. They also fly over cities and show themselves to priests and criminals, shamelessly breaking the Masquerade. I would rather recruit them that destroy them, but, if they leave us no choice...)
The Inconnu: These ancients are still a mystery. It us unknown whether they serve our Lord above or our Lord below. It is possible that they serve neither and, should that be the case, they will die. (The Seraphim pose an intriguing dilemma. Left alone, they seek out and destroy both Sabbat and Hand members, as well as any Camarillan foolish enough to get in the way. Are they a greater threat than they are a tool? They bear further study.)
The Sabbat: Fools and Pawns of the Black Hand, all of them. Their stupidity is surpassed only by their pliability. Still, there are some that follow the True Path. Weed out the bad, and the rest shall prosper. (Bastards. All I have to the War Party that brings their heads back on poles!)
Final Notes: If you use the Seraphim, you are seriously upping the stakes in your campaign. Read the disciplines over, very carefully, in the Storyteller's Handbook. Visceratika alone makes them powerful and impossible to sneak up on. Daimoinon makes them positively deadly, and creepy as all get-out. And their habit of traveling in flocks is a Bad Thing. A flock entering your city will put an instant damper on the mortal population. Religious epiphanies will flourish, as will horrible murders. They are very, very evil and nasty. Use them with care. Also, do not be fooled by the name. Yes, there are Seraph in the Sabbat. That is a title, like that of "Bishop." There are no Seraphim in any sect. Have fun.