Unleashing Hell on Heaven

My Deal with Dalembertus (4-8AP)

An extract from the turnsheet of Tsung Chang-Mai.

In court I signed an agreement with Dalembertus, both of us in blood. This agreement says that I shall not tell the Brandages of Dalembertus' plan to lure The Evil One from Nippon to the gates of heaven, and that I would aid in getting a theurgist of his finding to Cathay to open a gate to heaven. In return Leah and David Crandage are not to be hurt or killed by his people and should they be captured, they are to be returned to me as quickly as possible. We also less formally agreed that Dalembertus would withdraw his demons from Cairo and allow me to collect the device that creates the gate therein. I would then open a gate with it from hell to the mortal realms of Cathay while the theurgist he choose would open a gate to heaven. His forces could then move through swiftly without any diversions in the mortal realm - for as part of our agreement, should the forces of hell hurt a single person of Cathay, then the truce is ended, and the might of Di Yu will bear down upon them. For my part I have not told the Brandages that Dalembertus intends to use The Evil One in his plan.


The Result

From the turnsheet response of Tsung Chang-Mai. Written by Ivan.

Note that this immediately follows retrieving the Hellgate and then other events in Cathay.

To the East Coast

Together Tsung and Leah journey east to the coast nearest to Unmade Nipppon. Those islands were once more than two-hundred leagues from here, but even so far removed the effects can just be detected. The sky in the east seems pale and ghostly, as if it were not wholly there, though the eye can detect no signs that it has been bleached clean of colour even at the distant horizon. A train of carts has accompanied the married couple, carrying soil and in one decorated carefully in mourning white a single coffin. Tsung spends some days searching the coast for a desolate spot and a few more days investigating the local magistrates records so that she may find its current owner and purchase it. Since the tiny spot of land is used for nothing, not even hunting it is a simple matter to purchase it with the money from the Imperial Treasury. With the Empress' not entirely knowing permission it has become the site of Albion's embassy in Cathay.

Tsung arranges for the soil and rock from Albion to be set upon the plot and then for the body she has brought from Albion to be buried such that to a depth of six feet and more the soil is English. A headstone in the Albion style has been arranged and Godric of Fyfield, who fought and fell alongside King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, finds a new resting place on the opposite side of the world.

The shovelling of soil and digging of the grave complete Tsung pays the workers she has hired well and dismisses them. They leave immediately, spooked by the strange actions of the apparently important jinshi and her gwailo companion. Several make gestures to ward off evil as they disappear from sight. Tsung and Leah are now the only people for miles around, their comfortable tent the only habitation.

The Gate to Di Yu

Next Tsung prepares the Yuan Tieh (Circle of Iron) on Cathayan ground. Upon prayer scrolls composed of thin tree bark she carefully scribes a different character and from the nearest butchers has acquired the blood required to soak a chain. Each prayer scroll is tied by Tsung through every second link in the chain and then the chain spread in a complicated pattern resembling 鐵. The Circle finished Tsung retrieves the Aztec gate from its hiding place.

The Aztec gate is the same as before it was opened in Egypt, an odd gold disc covered in Aztec pictograms with their warning 'Do Not Press This Button'. Once more a Brandage is present while the warning is ignored except this time it is Tsung who pushes the combination of depressions using the other end of her scribes brush. The disc grows increasingly warm in her hand, quickly reaching an uncomfortable temperature at which point she carefully places it upon the ground.

Shortly afterwards it is glowing white hot and almost blinding, difficult to look at. Then a small black spot grows in the centre, quickly expanding till it covers and extinguishes the glow. More disturbingly the blackness is expanding beyond the diameter of the disc and lifting clear of it. You can see no trace of the disc as the blackness grows to the size of a wagon wheel and starts to shift upright.

The black disc is upright and rippling now, about twice the height of a man. With a flash and loud bang it becomes suddenly transparent and you can see through it. Beyond is the realm of Di Yu and the ten levels in which mortal souls are judged and relieved of their sins before journeying on to reincarnation.

Nine Fires Cap the Hills materialises behind her mistress Tsung who turns and greets her. She directs Nine Fires, in English so that Leah will understand, to journey through the portal and request an audience with Jiang Qin Guang Wang - the Yama King who protects all good men and also measures the time of a man's birth, death and life-span as well as his luck. She asks Nine Fires to explain that she is aiding Dalemburtus' attack on Heaven to ensure that no innocent souls are harmed in his crossing. If the venerable Yama-King is concerned by the presence of one such as Dalembertus then his humble servant (Tsung) would beg that he send some of his most trusted guardians to line the route that the creatures of Dalemburtus will walk to ensure their proper behaviour. Any transgression, any harm that comes to a Cathayan mortal, will be a direct breaking of the bond made between Hell and Di Yu and thus incur the wrath of Di Yu.

Nine Fires bows her head in her customary posture as Tsung begins explaining her mission. But when Tsung explains that she is to help arrange an attack upon Heaven she explodes in fury. Tsung is aware from her motions that her Scribe is only barely holding in the urge to grab her mistress and shake her! Moreover in hindsight this is the first time that Nine Fires has interrupted her as she spoke. Nine Fires angrily demands to know why her mistress believes she will invade any kind of attack on Tian by the chòubiǎozi of Hell. Nine Fires may be a rebel in the sight of the Jade Emperor but she has her pride and her duties as she sees them herself. How dare she be asked to do this! How dare Tsung ask her to do this! Nine Fires directs several poisonous looks at Leah, clearly attributing the blame for this outrageous demand beyond her mistress.

It takes Tsung a few moments to recover enough to protest that she does not mean Tian, not the Heaven of the Jade Emperor, but instead the Western Heaven that corresponds to Eastern Heaven. Nine Fires gives Tsung a measuring look and allows her to continue her explanation of what Nine Fires will present to the Yama-King Jiang Qin Guang Wang. There is still a dangerous fire burning in Nine Fires as she looks Tsung in the eye throughout the rest of Tsung's speech. She does not bow her head.

As Tsung ends with the statement that any transgression, any harm that comes to a Cathayan mortal, will be a direct breaking of the bond made between Hell and Di Yu and thus incur the wrath of Di Yu. Nine Fires nods once slowly.

Nine Fires silken robes of red and white shimmer and transform. Now Nine Fires is dressed in scale armour of scarlet, the nine braids of her hair emerging from a thin slit in the rear of her helm and her nine tails from a carefully overlapping sequence of scales in the back of her armoured skirt. Supported by her back she flies two white banners decorated with Cathayan characters of Tsung's name. She steps through the portal and disappears at a run. She does not look back at her mistress.

It is almost a half-day later, as the Circle is beginning to fade, that Nine Fires emerges once more from the Hellgate. A number of lesser Yaojing have emerged from the gate during that period, each pressing itself against the boundary of the Yuan Tieh before reluctantly withdrawing when they see Tsung, favoured of the Yama-Kings.

Accompanying Nine Fires are a number of horse-headed and ox-faced Guardians of the Yama-King. Nine Fires steps easily across the Circle, already granted permission by her mistress. The Guardians must wait within while Nine Fires indicates that the Yama-King has reluctantly agreed to Tsung's request. Nine Fires makes it abundantly clear that the Yama-Kings were not well-pleased by her request. That, although it does not affect their domain or that of the Jade Empire, it smacks of an attempt to upset the Celestial order and rightful of the world. They have grudgingly acquiesced since the harm may be greater without their cooperation than with. Nine Fires repeats their parting message “Repair what you have broken” with considerable urgency of her own.

Tsung breaks the Yuan Tieh and allows the Guardians to pass through. They wait patiently their ears flicking like the animals they resemble for her to complete the next step of her plan. Nine Fires has already disappeared as Tsung deactivates the gates connection to Di Yu

The Theurgist Arrives

Tsung has failed to locate a Cathayan theurgist capable of opening a gate to Western Heaven; most Cathayan theurgists are sceptical that such a place even exists and those who are not have generally leant more of the place from conversations with Jesuit missionaries. The latter are deemed more than passingly dangerous companions to be alone with on a deserted moor. Instead Tsung has received a note, blackened at the edges and written in what might be blood, that informs her that Dalembertus has made arrangements.

It is thus not entirely with surprise that the two women observe a small group of Europeans approaching them down the road. The men have hard looks to them, the look not of warriors but thugs and bandits. But the eyes are drawn inevitably to the man they are apparently guarding, riding upon a donkey. The man is cowled in black and rocking gently back and forth as if in laughter though no-one appears to have spoken to him while the sorcerers watched.

The small party come within hailing distance and shout “a gift from Dalembertus” before one of their number slaps the donkey hard on its rump, setting it on a canter away from them and towards Leah and Tsung. They immediately turnaround and depart.

As he draws nearer Leah and Tsung can hear that the man on the donkey is in fact giggling to himself. He is repeating a phrase to himself over and over. “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” A stops a few steps from Tsung and Leah and draws a dagger, black and oily the edges of which seem to squirm, and with a swift motion cuts the donkey's throat. It dies instantly and while it is still falling he is covering his hands in blood and wiping them all over its body. He ignores the sorcerers until the last of the animals blood has drained, his face shrouded, painting the donkey with its own blood.

He picks up the saddle bags fallen from the murdered animal and turning to the pair of women, still giggling, tells them, “close enough”.

With hands covered in blood he pushes back his cowl. Leah and Tsung recognise him as the Bishop of Bristol though when they knew him before his eyes did not glow red and his teeth weren't filed to points. They look at him with horror.

“Ladies, you needed a theurgist. Dalembertus took a personal interest in me as your tool, a personal interest in changing my outlook on the world.”

He reaches into the bag and begins to consume something found within. The meat is raw and the skin of the “animal” is hairless; no-one wants to know more.

From the other half of his saddle bag the “Bishop” retrieves some bones, clearly human bones, and sets to carving them with his bloody knife. He has apparently entered a light trance, which the two sorcerers do nothing to disturb as they make their own preparations to use the Hellgate again, and to guard against any betrayal by Dalembertus when he emerges. The Bishop's carving of the bones is producing several keys. Eventually he has produced five of them. He signals to the sorcerers that he is ready to proceed.

Opening the Gates to Heaven and Hell

Tsung carries the Aztec disk within the grounds of the new Albion embassy, though there is little there beyond disturbed soil and a fresh grave. It is time to test whether the Hellgate generator will link to Hell or Di Yu. Once more Tsung depresses the buttons set within it and allows it to grow hot and form the gate. The rippling blackness seems to flicker, as if uncertain. Colours begin to bleed into the blackness forming disturbing patterns, the sorcerers begin to experience an effect like a hall of mirrors as what at first glance appear to be reflections flicker across the gate. Most are very similar to what is upon this side of the gate though there are numerous small errors, Tsung has a different hairstyle or Leah is wearing different clothes. In a disturbing few Leah is slitting Tsung's throat or Tsung has opened Leah's belly with a knife from navel to neck. The final vision hangs still for a moment, it is not a reflection at all, but instead an image of fire and snakes. Then the disk gives a shrieking whine, goes brilliant white once more, and when the sorcerer's vision has cleared there is a gate to Hell.

Tsung takes a deep breath and walks to the edge of the gate where she cries out in a great voice, “Ambassador Tsung is under the protection of Dalembertus the Lord of Hell and demands his presence.” The Guardians of Di Yu move into position behind her and Niquanshé materialises in front of her and growls.

It is an hour later when a man steps through with a cocky grin on his face. He resembles a little John of Chester and a little the gentleman from Jerusalem, but is clearly Dalembertus. “Well,” he says in his distinctive drawn out way, “it seems you're living up to your side of the deal. Time for me to continue mine.” He nods at the Bishop who picks up the five bone keys and turns them in the air in front of him. Each just hangs there as if in an invisible door until the fifth and last is turned. There is a great white light and then the air tears and turns and there is a doorway through which is a realm the opposite of Hell. A brilliant light and tranquillity is carried through by the light.

“Right boys, let's show the fuckers what's what.”

As the Guardians take up position, shoulder to shoulder, between the two gateways an enormous thundering noise emerges from the hellgate. At a run a horde of demons pours through the gateway and sprints for the Heavenly gate. The soft fresh ground beneath is first churned up, and then worn away until the bedrock is showing and still the demons pour through climbing on the backs of their fellows to reach the now raised gate that is their destination. It takes a night and a day for the whole army of Hell to storm through while Dalembertus calmly watches and the Guardians of Di Yu suffer nothing more than barging and jostling.

The weather has reacted to so much demonic energy flowing upon the earth. At first just a breeze and then driving rain, by the end a typhoon has blown up. Gales threatening to carry Leah and Tsung away on the exposed land until Dalembertus notices and with a gesture the howling winds no longer touch them. Lightening is flickering almost continuously, the thunder of the storm almost as loud as that of the hooves and legs of the charging army.

The Emissary of the Evil One

It seems that the storm and demonic energy has attracted new attention however. Standing also untouched by the wind is a new figure. The main is Cathayan and in his mid-twenties and tall for a Cathayan man though small for a westerner with long hair worn in a plait down his back but with the front of his head shaved (as is the Chinese style). He is of fairly slim build and gives the impression of being a scholar. He is also bleached completely devoid of all colour and where he stands the ground begins to lose its hue.

Leah Brandage recognises him as the strange young man (or demon?) who hurled insult at her during a lecture many years ago. Tsung simply whispers, “Wo Feng”. His blank white eyes turn to her.

“Hello my love,” he turns to Leah, “and my replacement. Does she love you as much I wonder?” He seems to find this question hilariously funny, and laughs - utterly insane. He turns back to Tsung, “Do you understand yet what you've done Chang-Mai? How you love me and hurt me still?” A little colour enters his eyes, dark brown, and he screams in agony though he does not change his mocking posture. Then the colour fades again and he laughs even harder.

Nine Fires has materialised now beside Tsung, swords both drawn and red-armoured. The Guardian Niquanshé too flanks her.

Dalembertus steps forward. “I'm sure a scholar such as yourself doesn't need me to explain this,” he gestures behind him as the army of demons pours onward. “Fancy a bit of the action? Bring the big man, eh?” Dalembertus smiles invitingly.

“Oh my master is on his way. I thought I'm come early and enjoy the party. Catch up with an old flame.”

And suddenly he is upon Tsung his lips pressed to hers. Nine Fires and Niquanshé act at once as if they expected it. Nine Fires swords, long and short, disappear into his side and the lion-head of Niquanshé rips at his side even as the serpents of its fang bite into every piece of him they can reach. The Wo-Feng-thing is undetered and apparently unaffected. His great strength pulls Tsung's jaw open, and colour begins to drain from her.

It is Leah's intervention that drives him off. The attacks of the Cathayan demons appear to have affected him not at all, but when her fist crashes into the side of his head, he is knocked sprawling on the ground, dazed a moment.

“True love. Delightful.” He rubs the side of his head. “I look forward to this.” And he disappears.

Tsung has crumpled to the ground, almost all the colour drained from her, breathing only shallowly. Leah puts her ear to her chest, her heart is barely beating. A great lassitude has come over her, she can barely summon the energy to tell Leah that she is all right. Fine.. Really…

The Evil One

Dalembertus is looking out to sea where the storm is being unmade; the black clouds and lightning leaking colour and turning white. A great black figure, rivers of bronze flowing over him, is striding towards the headland on which they stand. As they watch, Tsung propped up by Leah, its enormous height gradually diminishes until as its foot touches the ground it is man-high. Behind it is nothing, a featureless whiteness. No sea and no sky.

Dalembertus has lost his cocky grin and with a quick gesture the horde of Hell ceases. In seconds there are only the Guardians and Nine Fires, Dalembertus and the fallen Bishop, Tsung and Leah, and the Evil One in sight. The Evil One walks up to the line of Guardian's protecting the passage between Hell and Heaven and regards them for a moment. Then they are gone, a whiteness a little like a corrupt snow falling to the ground. Dalembertus bows low and the Evil One regards him too for a moment. Then it looks at each of the gateways, one to Heaven and one to Hell. There is no features or expression on it shadow and bronze face and then it walks through the gate to Heaven.

Dalembertus quickly follows and as he passes the giggling Bishop of Bristol, he pauses for a moment to say apologetically, “Where we're going you can't follow”. Then he gently taps the man's head which explodes.


The gate to Heaven closes almost immediately, Dalembertus the last to pass through. Leah stands and leaving Nine Fires to care for Tsung, runs to the Hellgate and deactivates it. The space beyond is empty and moreover gives off a feeling of emptiness, as if of a house abandoned.

Together Nine Fires and Leah carry the limp Tsung away from the unmade ground. It takes days to reach Hangzhou where a great panic, caused by the sudden storm and then the horrible whiteness that destroyed Nippon rushing upon the coast, is slowly dying down. Nine Fires is listening carefully and reveals that rumours are already spreading of strange rites in the east, of a mad jinshi who sought to destroy everything with her evil companion.

Leah makes the only decision possible, she carries Tsung to the offices of the East India Company and has them dispatch her the same day for Albion. Vital diplomatic dispatches. Tsung is too weak and drained, literally, to argue.

bonus.unleashing_hell_on_heaven.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/15 13:36 by ivan