Friday, November 3, 2017

Equipment Files: Skullfang

The Grim Scythe is cool and fearsome as Hell, but it’s not the coolest or fearsomest weapon in the Reaper arsenal, mostly because it’s not really a weapon at all. Skullfang remedies this deficiency by being a weapon to the greatest extent possible, one precision-engineered by Athena to be insanely cool and fearsome. Skullfang includes many useful features, not least of which is the bitchin’ skull on the hilt. In terms of practicality, it boasts a wicked blade (pitch black, of course) that’s sharper than my wit and harder than loving Eris. Plus, a mere thought can set it ablaze with flames hotter than that burn just now. Since Athena always goes the extra mile, the flames come in a variety of rad colors, like black, violet, blue, blood red, rainbow, hot pink, (because fire is hot, you see) darker black, and I guess orange if you’re some kind of chump. Another neat thing about Skullfang is its name, Skullfang, which is extremely good. The Skull comes from the skull on the hilt, and a fang is something that’s sharp, like a sword, which is what Skullfang is. Unlike a lot of your equipment, Skullfang isn’t a replica of anything; it’s a completely original weapon designed for reapers, which is always cooler than jacking someone else’s style.

But I’ve saved the best feature for last. You may notice that I’ve neglected to mention exactly what kind of sword Skullfang is (other than “a damn fine one”). That’s because it’s all of them.  The same way you can activate the flames, you can also change the blade’s shape to a type of sword that fits your fighting style. You can make it a shortsword, (best for dual wielding) a rapier, (good for stabbing) a scimitar, (good for… horse warfare? I’ll see if I can hook you up with some sick skeleton horses to make this happen) a greatsword, (very big sword wielded with two hands) a claymore, (another very big sword wielded with two hands that I guess is somehow different from greatsword) and probably some other things, too. Maybe a sword-whip thing? That would be tight as Hell. The transformation happens in less than a second, so it can be used mid-battle to throw off your opponents. You can also do some fancy moves like stabbing someone with the rapier, then transforming it into a claymore while it’s inside them, turning a small stab into a big stab.

While looking cool is the main function of Skullfang’s flames, they’re “technically” there because they allow the blade to cut through souls, allowing Skullfang to function as a backup reaping tool, in case your scythe is busted or whatever. A heavier form like a claymore is your best bet for making a clean cut with it, but even then, you’re way better off using a scythe, so Skullfang should only be used for reaping in emergencies. That said, you should also only really use it for fighting in emergencies; if you ever find yourself in a confrontation, remember that your most powerful weapon is teamwork. So, if at all possible, run like Hell and find someone stronger to fight so you don’t have to. There’s a whole process you can go through to request combat assistance from the Bureau, which you can find somewhere else in this book. But if you keep shouting long enough in the Special Task Office, that’ll probably do the trick. Just be sure to clarify that you’re ignoring proper procedure because you’re lazy, not because of how bad the situation is. Whatever it is you’re trying to get out of fighting, I assure you that you’d fare better against it than you would trying to explain to Atropos why she was summoned to lay waste to a nymph that got a little too saucy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

You are Fine


You are fine.

You are confused. But you are fine.

You are alone. But you are fine.

You are scared. But you are fine.

I know, because I am confused, I am alone, and I am scared. But I am fine. And I am you. I am Lethe, the forgotten daughter of Eris. You are Lethe, The Goddess of Forgetfulness and Oblivion. And we are brave.

If you do not remember reading this, then you probably just woke up with no idea who you are, or where you are, or why you have forgotten. So I have written this note to tell you. As I already said, you are Lethe, Goddess of Oblivion. Your home is Lethe, the River of Oblivion. And you have forgotten everything because of who you are. Because of what I have made you.
Gods and Goddesses are changed by the domains they oversee, and you are no exception. As Goddess of Forgetfulness, you will be incapable of forming long term memories, and will retain very few, if any, from your life before. On top of that, your name, your domain, your very existence, will be forgotten by most. You will forget, you will be forgotten, and you will suffer. And it’s all my fault. You may hate me for that. And that’s fine. But I won’t apologize for my decision, because I made the right choice. You made the right choice. If there is any mercy in this universe, then you have forgotten why this is the right choice. And I beg for you to keep it that way. Because we always look on the bright side, and if there’s one bright side to this whole mess, it’s that you are now free from that burden. But I will ask that you not hate anyone else for the suffering that I alone have brought upon you. The Fates may have assigned you this domain, but only at my insistence; Aunties Chloe, Sis, and Atropos love you very much, and would be terribly hurt if you were to resent them. You may be tempted to hate all the cowardly gods who could have taken forgetfulness as their domain, but left you to suffer instead. But they do not deserve your hatred. Perhaps they are cowards. But you are brave. And that is fine.

As Goddess of Forgetfulness, your duty is to remove memories from those who know things they shouldn’t, and dispose of them in the river Lethe. I cannot tell you how to do this, but as Goddess of Oblivion, it should come to you as naturally as breathing. You will report directly to The Moirai: Atropos, Lachesis, and Clotho. The exact protocols governing your duties have not yet been formulated, so until you are told otherwise, you are only to remove memories if ordered by The Moirai (see Useful Job Tips below for new rules! VERY IMPORTANT). It may be difficult to do such an important job without memories, but you can do it. I believe in you.

Please write in this journal regularly, so that the Lethe who wakes up tomorrow can be a bit less confused, alone, and scared than the one who woke up today. It doesn’t have to be every day, just any day you learn something helpful. Thank you.

Dear Past Lethe,
You were right. I was confused, and alone, and scared, and so much more. But now I think I’m fine. Thank you. I feel silly for writing this. I know you can’t read it. You don’t exist anymore. But I still feel grateful.

I’m happy to say that I haven’t forgotten everything. I remember my name. Lethe. I remember Auntie Chloe, and Auntie Atropos, and especially Auntie Sis. And I remember promising to help them any way I could. And that’s it. It’s not much. But it’s enough. I don’t remember mom, though. At first I thought that was sad. But then I met her, and now I think that maybe it’s good that I forgot.

Auntie Sis said that this was my first day as Goddess of Oblivion. Which means that if you’re reading this, it isn’t your first day. You got through yesterday. And you’ll get through today. Because you’re fine.

I don’t think I like this job. Or, I guess, I don’t like the people I have to talk to. They’re not nice like Auntie Sis. They’re not even mean like Auntie Atropos. She only got mad at me when I was in trouble. I didn’t like it when she was mad at me, so I tried to stay out of trouble. I think she wanted me to stay out of trouble because she’s actually nice. But the people today weren’t. If I was in trouble, I didn’t know why. they asked me to do things that I can’t do, and then got mad when I said that I couldn’t. I asked why they were mad, and how I could make them not mad. But that just made them even more mad. A lot of them yelled at me, calling me mean names and threatening me. One of them even attacked me, which was scary. But he wasn’t a god, and I was, so I was a lot stronger than him. And that’s why I wrote this down. At first, I didn’t want to, because I didn’t want you to be scared of all the bad things that could happen to you. But I realized that it’s fine, because you are strong enough to take care of any bad things that happen. It’s fine if you are scared, because you are also brave.

Useful Job Tips (IMPORTANT!)
DO NOT let anyone drink from the river. You can drink from it just fine, but I guess something very bad will happen if anyone else tries to drink it.
Don’t talk to people who don’t know your name. If they have something important to say, they’ll remember you.
Keep a log of all memory removals, including when it happened, who had their memories removed, who told you to do it, and a description of the memory (nothing too secret!)
Anyone can ask you to remove their own memories. But you have to look around in their memories to make sure they aren’t being forced to, or anything like that.
If someone asks you to remove someone else’s memories, you can only do that if they are an important person, or have a special paper from an important person saying that they’re allowed.  A list of important people can be found on the poster by the door.
When removing someone’s memories, always remove their memory of having their memory removed. Put a check mark in the log when you do this, so you know you remembered.
Try not to get mad. If someone is mad at you, getting mad at them will probably make things worse.
If you get mad at someone, at least try to act like you’re not mad. If they know that you’re mad, they will get more mad.
Don’t get mad at yourself if you end up getting mad at them. You tried your best.
If someone is acting scary, say that you’ll tell on them to Atropos. That might get them to be nice.
If it doesn’t get them to be nice, tell on them to Lachesis. They won’t be as scared of her as they are of Atropos, but they should be.
You don’t have to feel bad for anyone Lachesis punishes because of you. You warned them.

REMINDER: You are not alone. You are loved. Auntie Sis told me that today. And I believe her. I was feeling sad, but when she visited me, she knew exactly what to say to cheer me up. She’s just as funny and nice as she was before. She also said that I should talk to her or Chloe or Atropos if I feel sad. Or even if I don’t. And I think you should, too. I had a lot of fun with her. Also, if she asks if you want a hug, say yes. The same thing goes for Chloe. And Atropos.

Auntie Chloe also loves you. At least, I think that’s what she said. She still uses a lot of big words, and I don’t remember what they all mean. But she sounded really… happy. You know, that way she only talks when she’s really excited about something. And she was talking about how she would always be there for me.

Auntie Atropos loves you, too. “Unconditionally,” she said, which I think means “no matter what.” Even if you mess up your job and make things harder for her. Even if you couldn’t do your job at all. Even if you get really mad at her and say things that you don’t mean. She still loves you.

I don’t know if Baron Samedi loves you, but I think he is a very good friend. You won’t recognize him; he is a very handsome skeleton with a top hat and a nice suit. I don’t want to describe him too much, because he wants me to remember him on my own. But I want you to know that he doesn’t like being mean, so if he accidentally says something mean, please tell him. He will apologize and try to make things better. He’s very good at that.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Personnel Files: Baron Samedi, Part 2

Alright, first of all, Baron Samedi is 👌. That’s right, he is so fine that I am going to use all of my wisdom to teach some copyeditor what an emoji is, and all of my clout as the second most powerful being in The Bureau of Death to force the poor bastard to include it in The Handbook. If you are not aware of exactly how fine that is, let me just say that it is extremely fine.

Aside from the charming tuxedo, dashing top hat, and booty that is literally to die for, Baron Samedi is generally an extremely cool dude. Don’t let the fancy duds or the impressive title trick you into thinking that he’s a respectable gentleman. Conversations with him are no holds barred, nothing off the table. His words are the only things more perverse than Zeus’s actions. He’ll use every dirty word you know, and at least 3 you didn’t, just to say “Hello.” Like, when I say [EXPLETIVE DELETED] around Atropos, she chastises my language for being too coarse. But when I say it around Baron Samedi, he chastises my language for being too fine. In an underworld full of boring prudes and legitimate psychos, he’s easily the second most fun person down here. (With myself being the most fun person, obvs –Sis) (Must you annotate your own writing? Truly, you rival Narcissus himself –Chloe) (Yes, I do, and no, I really do not. Shut up –Sis) But, at the end of the day, anyone can be a rude, vulgar asshole. What makes Samedi special is that his vulgarity doesn’t interfere with his duties (See the previous section for what all that entails). When it comes to actually getting the job done, he’s always exactly as respectful as he needs to be, and carries out tasks efficiently and without complaint. And it’s a good thing, too; as an extra-Hellenistic deity, one toe out of line is all it takes to send him packing to Tartarus. Luckily, his work ethic and general likeability, coupled with my dedicated interest in preventing that from happening, have managed to prevent that from happening.

Though he may not seem it, and he would certainly never admit it, Baron Samedi is a 300% S+ rank sweetheart. He’s one of the few people, other than me, who spends much time hanging out with Lethe; he claims that he just wants to say something to her so shocking and vulgar that she has no choice but to remember it, but I know he enjoys her company, if only because he takes some perverse satisfaction from trying to corrupt an eternally innocent mind. And she enjoys spending time with him, too. At first, I had to explain each time that he was just teasing, and meant no ill will, but it seems like recently, she’s gotten used to it. I still have to introduce him each time, but some part of her remembers him. And that is adorable as Hell. I’d ship them.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Personnel Files: Baron Samedi Part 1

A rare instance of an Extra-Hellenistic Reaper under the employ of The Bureau of Death, Samedi is not to be trusted with the handling of souls or quintessence. As such, he is responsible for the physical death of mortals, a task which is necessary, but which many Higher Ranking Officials believe to be beneath them. In his own pantheon, he oversaw the destruction of deceased corpses as a means of preventing sorcerers from taking their souls and turning them into zombies. Though sorcery has more or less fallen out of fashion with mortals, the rotting of corpses still serves a purpose, exemplī grātia, mortals would grow suspicious if their dead suddenly ceased decomposition. But his role is entirely discrete from the role of a Reaper. As such, there is little reason for Reapers to be briefed on his tasks or how he carries them out.

What makes Baron Samedi worth mentioning within this handbook is his precarious political position within the spheres of the divine. It is extraordinarily unorthodox to allow an Extra-Hellenistic deity to live outside of Tartarus, let alone entrust them with tasks vital to our operations. As such, his position is controversial, but enough deities with enough influence have decided that he is trustworthy enough, even if their arguments for believing so amount to little more than him being “likeable”. He is particularly well-liked among those who value crassness; he can be rude and unseemly at times, but so long as his behavior doesn’t interfere with his duties, (which it never does) it is none of The Bureau’s concern. Among the most prominent proponents of his freedom are Dionysus, Zeus, and even one of the Sisters of Fate. (Why even bother being ambiguous about it? They’re gonna know it’s me when they read the next section -Sis) Notable detractors of his are Hera, Demeter, Apollo. It is worth noting that, while he is not outwardly malicious towards Baron Samedi, Hades does harbor a quiet resentment towards him, perhaps stemming from envy. (It actually really isn’t worth noting. At all. –Hades)

His job has him working with the bodies of the recently deceased, so it is not uncommon for him to cross paths with Reapers. He is generally rather friendly, and will often converse with Reapers that he meets. (If one can consider obscenities and crude jokes to be “conversation”) So long as Reapers don’t allow souls or quintessence to come into his possession, or break any of the Rules of the Reaper, they may interact with him however they wish. However, they must do so with caution; speaking with him is not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Equipment Files: The Arrow of Time

                The Arrow of Time is the fourth (4th) most powerful weapon in known existence. (See Equipment files: The Loathsome Shears for further details on the most powerful weapon in known existence) It also bears the distinction of being the most powerful weapon authorized for use by a non-deity entity, as sufficiently high-ranking reapers of the Special Task Force are permitted to use it, provided the proper paperwork has been filed. It is further worth noting that it is one of the few weapons in The Reaper’s Armory usable by a being not affiliated with The Bureau of Death, namely Artemis, who, among all gods, is most adroit with a bow and arrow.

The Arrow of Time was created for a singular purpose: to kill a god. Not to kill one god in particular, but to kill any god who may be deemed a threat to The Pantheon. The arrow’s development began immediately after the end of The Divine War, as a countermeasure to prevent a second Divine War before it ever began. Though the Extra-Hellenistic deities outside of Tartarus number too few to pose a significant threat, and a breakout at Tartarus is impossible, The Moirai are nothing if not thorough. To put it in layman’s terms, the arrow works by piercing a deity’s natural protection against aging. Essentially, it renders a divine being into a being that is functionally similar to a mortal. It must be noted that the effects of The Arrow of Time are purely theoretical, as the arrow has never been fired on a divine test subject. That is not to say that its effectiveness is entirely speculation; it was the product of many decades of Research and Development. If nothing else, the fact that none are willing to serve as its target practice is a testament to its lethality.

  The arrow itself is crafted from a femur of Chronos, tipped by an incisor of Cronos. (Note that these are two distinct entities – the former is the God of Time, while the latter is the father of Zeus.) Its tip is aflame with the fires of the nine (9) circles of Hell. The shaft is painted with each of the seven (7) colors the original Covenant’s Rainbow. The bone’s marrow has been replaced with a unique poison, a mixture that includes water from each of the five (5) rivers of Hades. For fletching, it has three (3) feathers, each plucked from a being of a foreign pantheon. One, the feather of a winged serpent, one, the feather of one who oversees the desert skies, and one, feather of a three-legged crow. All forged within the Heart of Chaos, the One (1) being to have shattered the symmetry of time. But an arrow made as described is only a vessel. The true power of The Arrow of Time is imbued by ritual. From the moment of its creation, the names of all gods of time are uttered over it, stretching into eternity in both directions. In the future direction, they are spoken in reverse; in the past direction, they are spoken forwards, converging on the moment of creation.

The Bureau of Death waives responsibility for any personal catastrophe that will befall any foolishly attempting to create their own Arrow of Time outside of The Bureau’s authorization.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Personnel Files: Athena [REDACTED]

Athena! Athena freakin’… I wish that the divine had surnames, just so I could spend more time saying Athena. She’s so cool. Like, if a high-five and a fist bump had a baby, it would be Athena. Which is ironic because… er, she actually never was a baby. She was born a full adult from Zeus’s head, because he had lain with this Titaness, Metis, and then swallowed her because he was afraid her offspring would overthrow him. It was this whole thing. Anyway, details of her birth are mad unimportant, so I won’t go into any further detail.

Athena is basically a bad bitch who gets it done. What is “it”, exactly, you may ask? Well, anything and everything, really. She’s the Goddess of wisdom, crafts, and tactical warfare. She’s basically Ares and Hephaestus rolled into one, except not nearly as sucky as those guys. (Great, now I’m being mean. I apologize to Hephaestus. He’s not that sucky. Ares, on the other hand, is pretty sucky. –Sis) (Wait, I just remembered that Hephaestus is actually HELLA sucky. Basically, every God is just the worst, and I wanna go fight them all right now -Sis again) You know how Hephaestus makes pretty much all of the toys the Gods get to play with? Well Athena designed pretty much all of that stuff. And all the stuff from antiquity, that predates her, was improved by upgrades she suggested. Before Athena, Zeus just had regular old lightning. Now he has forked lightning, upwards lightning, not to mention ball lightning. Do you know how much he loves that stuff? More than his wife, that’s for sure. Hey-o!

Anyway, Athena is pretty much The Pantheon’s problem solver. She has a hand in almost every major project of The Gods. You know how Tartarus has more security measures than you can possibly imagine? Athena came up with at least half of those. Our utter faith that the secrets in The River Lethe will remain lost? All on Athena’s good word. Atropos’ impossibly sharp Abhorrent Shears? OK, Athena had nothing to do with those. I’mma level with you: no one knows what those are or where they came from. At least, I certainly don’t. See, this is why I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to write about Athena. Because I honestly don’t have much to say about her other than “she’s the coolest and greatest” and various synonyms, so I keep getting sidetracked.
While Athena isn’t technically an official of The Bureau of Death, she’s something of a contractor, so you may see her in The Underworld from time to time. And, even though I can totally understand why you would, don’t just stand there slack-jawed at her brilliant splendor. Athena is super chill, and won’t mind at all if you just come up to her and start chatting. Just tell her you’re a fan of her work. Because, trust me, you are. Do you like how The Grim Scythe cuts through souls like a hot knife through butter? Do you enjoy flying across the world on winged sandals at speeds matched only by Hermes? Are you a fan of not being utterly annihilated by angry extra-Hellenistic deities with a vendetta? Then give her your thanks in person. Unless, of course, she’s super busy, which is, unfortunately, all too often. She has a tendency of being rather… curt when she’s focused on a certain task, but she’s still polite. And if she says she’ll get back with you, she will. All in all, Athena is a 10/10 badass, a 10/10 sweetheart, and an 11/10 pal. Would recommend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Personnel Files: Athena

Hephaestus has no section within this chapter of The Reaper’s Handbook, as he needs none. The entire armory of The Bureau of Death serves as his biography. As the God of The Forge, it is by his hands that the most powerful artefacts of The Hellenistic Pantheon are wrought. Yet it is not entirely accurate to say that they are of his design. For even if you can play the lute skillfully enough to make Hades himself weep, it is quite a different matter to compose a masterpiece. In much the same way, Hephaestus’s aptitude for turning ideas into reality is unparalleled, but his capacity for coming up with those ideas is limited. The task of invention falls to Athena, Goddess of wisdom, crafts, and tactical warfare. The irony of Athena’s role as Inventor of The Gods is that she herself was invented by the Gods. She is unique in all the Hellenistic Pantheon, for she was not born of natural processes, and later assigned a domain by We, The Moirai. Her domain was preordained, and it is the very reason for which she was created. In truth, Athena is a living weapon: a second God of War.

There came a time in The Divine War when it was clear to all that the contest could not be won by brute strength alone. All sides had their champions, their paragons of strength, and none could ever definitively best the others. Mighty though Zeus and Ares were, even they were matched by Thor and Odin, Take-Mikazuchi and Izanagi, Metatron and Michael, and myriad adversaries besides.  We, The Moirai, realized that a new approach to warfare was needed, and with it, a new God of War. Yet it would not do to have this new God of War be anything less than perfect. All our hopes rode with him or her, so it was decided that it would not be enough to merely bestow the title upon an existing God. Only by creating an entirely new being from scratch could we ensure its perfection. We, the Moirai, decided that the one to shift the tides of Fate in our favor must be Goddess, in every way the counterbalance to Ares, so that their combined wisdom and might could topple even the most formidable opponents. With our final reserves of Quintessence, We, The Moirai, wove a thread of immeasurable length, that even Atropos’ own shears would have difficulty severing. Her mind is sharper yet than The Grim Scythe, and her body as resilient as the very Aegis she carries. The former was accomplished in part by the unusual circumstances of her birth: she incubated within the brain of Zeus. His cerebrum was her womb, and his brain stem was her umbilical cord. The latter is the magnum opus of The Lame One. (Look, I know he isn’t the prettiest dude, but you don’t have to call him out like that –Sis) (I cannot be faulted for using his official epithet –Chloe)

The secret of her origin is secret to most, including her “Father” Zeus, her true father, Hephaestus, and even Athena herself. Zeus was tricked into believing he’d impregnated Metis, and further tricked into believing he’d swallowed her. One may wonder what Athena had to gain from the mind of one so easily deceived. But it is not wise to underestimate the mind of one who is deceptively simple. Though originally privy to his own greatest creation, Hephaestus’s knowledge was stricken from him, following an incident that deserves no further description within these pages. Athena herself is ignorant to her own nature, though she is clever enough to figure it out. Thankfully for us, she is also wise enough to know that there are things she is better off not knowing. It is for this reason that Lethe is no stranger to her, though she be a stranger to Lethe.

(This section contains the following violations: explicit names of Divine War Criminals, information that Reapers do not have clearance to access, graphic and misleading metaphorical imagery. Editor, see to it that this section is not published in this state –Atropos)