I’m here with part one of a new Invisible Sun resource for your game, something to ramp up the fun with a supernatural force that often gets passed over in every fantasy setting: angels.
Simply put, in a setting full of devils and nihilistic demons and ghosts and vampires and twisted Nightside vislae there are so many metal things going on that angels seem like boring goody-two-shoes. And yet the source material for angels, the Israelite texts and the religions that branched from them, show angels as anything but that. In those ancient writings (and particularly the dramatic Book of Enoch) angels are mind-warping eldritch creatures with dozens of eyes and fiery forms that were half-bestial and only sometimes human-like. Every time an angel appears they say “be not afraid” and I think that’s probably partially because they’re supposed to be horrific.
Many visual artists have taken on the task of protraying angels in this way and its one of those artists that I’m talking about today. The work of Peter Morbacher, specifically his Encyclopedia of Angels, is inspirational and it’s certainly inspired me on the subjects of angels in Invisible Sun. I have two different groups of angels to talk about (it might spiral out from there) and the first of them are the Iaret.
Caretakers of Creation
Many hierarchies exist among angelkind including the angelic legions follow the commands of Queen Frageliva, the holy choirs listening to the thrumming power of the Temple-Tower of Al Ru Stam, and the dozens of other royal houses of the City of the Hill but these hierarchies are not limited to the Silver Sun. Other angelic orders exist under the other seven suns (and, some say, beyond) but the Iarets are the most famous and well-respected order with seats of power in all eight realms of the Path of Suns.
In the Angelarium these are the Seraphim, but I wanted to get away from that term since it has so much baggage. Instead I’ve gone down an etymologic path to trace the origin of the word saraph which also is used to refer to serpents (a powerful image in Invisible Sun as well). In ancient Canaan images of fiery serpents probably came originally from the Egyptian uraeaus which in Egypt was called an iaret. The plural of this word should actually be something like iarewet but I’m simplifying to help things out here.
The Iarets are a special sect of angel that carries out the will of Creation and sees to it that the infinite plan of the Actuality unfolds as the original spell intended. Outside influences could potentially warp the character of the Creator’s spell and angels of the Iaret move throughout the Actuality to find and end these manipulations. At the head of the order are two powerful angelic spirits, often called “The Archangels” but the Iarets use the term Messengers instead. The most prominent of these is Gabriel, the Shining Herald, whose fiery sword and booming voice commands allegiance. They are the blunt force of the Iarets but on equal power footing with the more subtle Messenger Raphael, the Healing Whisper. If Gabriel is the general, Raphael is the spymaster and gathers in rumors and whispers to consider and direct angels of the Iarets where they are needed. Both Messengers travel throughout the Path of Suns (both sides) and only rarely are found together, though they keep in touch through magical conversation and might be constantly linked through their minds.
Below the Messengers are five Assemblies each with three leaders, though dozens if not hundreds of angels serve in each Assembly. First is the Assembly of the Crown, an order of angels that investigates and divines threats to the spell of Creation. Remiel, Angel of Visions, watches the crystallizing promise of the future for disturbances while Eistibus, Angel of Divination, looks at events in the present that might grow into threats and Raziel, Angel of Mysteries, pries apart those enigmas that their companions uncover.
The Assembly of the Throat is focused on communicating the intention of the Creator’s spell to the rest of the Actuality, sometimes literally speaking its purpose into being which is the principal concern of Phanuel, Angel of Truth. Their words carry a magical weight to them (unsurprisingly, Phanuel spends a lot of time in Indigo) but more subtle effects are accomplished by Zachriel, Angel of Memory, and Israfel, Angel of Song. These latter two construct memetic vectors of protecting Creation, catchy thoughts and persistent songs that shape the perception of beings throughout the Actuality.
Next is the Assembly of the Heart which forms relationships and connections to protect Creation. Sahaqiel, Angel of the Sky, shepherd of winds and the magical currents that traverse the lands of each sun. Matariel, Angel of Rain, gathers together magical currents into storms, both physical and arcane. The third leader of the Heart, Shelegiel the Angel of Snow, freezes rather than spreads, crystallizing magic and emotion into icy blankets of reality to support Creation’s mission.
The Assembly of the Sacral is a dualistic order of Iarets, pursuing missions of both creation and destruction (and spending plenty of time in both Silver and Red as a result). The most well-known of these is Azrael, Angel of Death, who brings an end to people and ideas that threaten the Creator’s vision. Sandalphon, Angel of New Life, fills the gaps of those ends with new ideas and empowered people. For those threats that prove difficult to completely stamp out, Dumah the Angel of Dreams scours the Deeps of Sleep for the final vestiges of dangerous concepts.
The fifth and final Assembly is the Assembly of the Root is the safety and security order of the Iarets, which is to say the military force of the sect. Led by Simikiel, Angel of Vengeance, and Uriel, Angel of Flame, it’s easy to see what sort of tools they bring in service to protecting Creation. Remph, Angel of Time, is even more foundational to the mission, safeguarding the flow of time as the Creator’s spell established it and bringing destruction on the heads of any beings disrupting or changing that flow.
Four other Iarets operate outside of the five Assemblies, though they are roughly equal in power to the leaders of the Assemblies. Suchlaph, Angel of Verdancy, mostly operates under the Green Sun but they move to where their mission of shaping the animals and plants of the Actuality demands. Very few angels take orders regularly from Suchlaph but they do conscript angels from other Assemblies when needed. Leliel, Angel of Night, also regularly conscripts other Iaret angels as they move exclusively through the Nightsides of the eight Suns, watching for sources of darkness.
Even more focused is Shateiel, Angel of Silence, who is concerned with creatures of the Dark and the threat they pose to Creation. Goetics and others who regularly deal with the Dark may see Shateiel or one of their servant angels visiting them and the conversation rarely is cordial. Last of the leaders of the Iarets is Hasmed, Angel of Annihilation, whose mission is entirely unknown to any except (presumably) the other leaders of the Iarets. They appear at places throughout the Path of Suns without explanation and all Iarets except the Messengers seem to acquiesce to their needs.
With all of these many angels and missions, it’s no surprise that the Assemblies of Iarets has many different strongholds throughout the Path of Suns. One prominent location is the Driftwood Cathedral, a fortress in a portion of the Pale that is far from the city of Catafalque. Many Iaret angels move through this location as a base of operations under the Pale Sun but it is often considered the purview of Azrael who spends most of their time here. The Grave of Hope is another important location, a breathtaking citadel on a distant rocky island somewhere in the Grey. The location of the Grave of Hope is carefully hidden, partially because it is one of the few places under the Grey Sun where magic and perception works normally. The last notable location is the Gate of Shaqiel, a towering opening in the Actuality along the shores of the Sea of Aeons to Come in Silver. Walking through the gate leads directly to the Nightside of the Gold Sun on the shores of a nameless and shadowed sea there. Locals have noted groups of angels moving through in both directions at least once a month, though the Iarets are silent about why.
Keep an eye out for the companion piece for this post, another group of angels working in opposition to the Iarets. You’re going to want to check that one out!