Reichstag of Solace
It all started just over a century ago in the Outer Realm. Most universes are like bubbles floating together in the network of the greater cosmos. But the universe this world resides in exists within another universe, a bubble within a bubble so to speak. In the first decade of the 19th century a small group of transdimensional explores from this Outer Universe (Known as The Rahnian Sphere) arrived in North America. They soon found themselves trekking through the sewers of London fighting an ancient vampire lord. The battle was a draw, and the vampire eventually left this world of his own accord just over 20 years later. But there were three lasting consequences from this struggle. Three children to be exact. One born from blood and power released during the fight, and two born of components of another being given life through the strange workings of this realm. It is these later two that are the particular locus of these critical events of our time. Born from the essence of a greater being, their very existence saps him of the lion’s share of his strength. This pleases his children who rule the outer world, for he is a remorseless tyrant, bent on revenge for the coup that deposed him. And so the games began…
He sent agents to destroy them. His granddaughter Solace, Princess of the Rahnian Sphere, sent forth her own minions to watch over them and to prepare the way for adding this realm to their own. It did not take long for the children to realize something strange was going. Separated at birth for their own protection, they reunited in 1830 to face the forces arrayed against them. A gentlemen adventure fighting to get back to his life as a peaceful fisherman, and a powerful wizardess & peeress trying to save herself and her realm from alien invasion. With the help of a small group of highly skilled and courageous individuals, the two succeeded. The gentleman went back to his fish. But the peeress was not content. She resented the intrusion of the Outer Realm, this Rahnian Sphere, into the affairs of this world. For although her bloodlines may have originate from that place, she was born here, and it was this world that was her home and its inhabitants her people. She resolved that the people of this world had the right to control the boarders of their own realm, and to control their own destiny as a people.
But there was a problem. The people of this world were not unified. They lived under many nations, many political regimes, and with many cultures. They were not ready to speak as one. Worse, the people had become devoted to the principles of science, relegating magic, the supernatural, and transdimentional activity to the realm of myth and legend. They were not ready as a whole to accept these things were all very, very real. And while the people sat around in ignorant bliss, the agents of the Rahnian Sphere quietly worked in the background to subvert the world. For this realm has certain defense mechanisms built into its fundamental structure that prevent anything too radically alien from entering it until the world can adapt to handle the concepts involved. Slowly but surely the agents of the Rahnian Sphere were introducing technology and concepts into this world that brought it closer and closer to their own realm without regard to whether or not the people of this one were truly ready for them or not. If left unchecked they would soon be able to bring in their more powerful beings and equipment, and then they would be in a position to absorb this world into the Rahnian Sphere outright. She would rule it for them as a province of their greater empire. She was, after all, family. Created by them, beholden to them. She would not refuse.
Yes, she was a peeress born to lead. But she was not a tyrant, not ruler, and it was certainly not her place to deliver up her own people and nation to the subjugation of a foreign power even if she did have relatives over there.
They were… disappointed.
They were also unwilling to take no for an answer. So they conceived a plan. They would prepare an invasion. Nothing so crass as a frontal assault by armies, but they would send their supper soldiers in through the back ways, and they would change Her, alter Her so She would support them, and rule this world in their name. So they altered the fundamental flow of time between this world and their own. In the few months it would take them to prepare, years would pass here, 75 to be precise. Her companions would grow old and die. Those who knew of them and their influence would all pass away. She would be left alone…vulnerable.
She found out. Although her associates were formidable, she had long known that they were far too few to stand up to the incursions from other realms. She had already begun the process of finding and recruiting others who knew the truth about the mystical and the transdimentional to her cause. She would create an international organization independent of world politics to guard the world from outside intuition. This organization could perpetuate itself by finding and recruiting the exceptional individuals of the times who could handle the truth, and who possessed the spirit of heroism necessary to become guardians of their world. This organization would work in the shadows until such time as mankind was ready to except the truths of the greater multiverse. They would neither help nor hinder this process, merely guard the borders of the universe until such time as humanity was ready to expand beyond them. They also vowed that they would not let anyone make this decision for humanity, not outsiders or even the elite few of the organization itself. Thus was born The Customs Agency.
But time was short, so She used their own trick against them. Knowing that her nascent organization needed more than 75 years time to achieve the necessary positioning to stand against The Rahnian Sphere, She altered the time flow herself so that one and a half centuries would pass rather than the planned three quarters. She set safeguards into the structure of the world to prevent them for changing things ever again, she interdicted the routine reports of the agents left behind to monitor things, and released them on a time delay so their masters would not notice what was happening. And even as her organization bloomed and grew, she herself went about performing magical rituals to enact barriers about our world to seal up the cracks in the dimensional walls, close the backdoors of the Ethereal Plane, and conceal the routes of the Astral Plane from invasion. All went well. There were challenges that had to be overcome of course, but by and large the courageous men and women of The Customs Agency overcame and made things work. They even managed to survive the chaos and division caused by the American Civil War and The Great War. Maintaining their organization’s political neutrality in the patriotically charged era while allowing their operatives to follow their own personal conscience was tough, but, by the skin of their teeth, they succeeded. Naturally, through the course of their adversities the organization was tempered and became a truly unified, yet still diverse, force.
But no one anticipated the Nazis.
They were nothing new at first. Hate mongers who rallied around a charismatic figurehead who entrapped people with patriotic bluster. Such people had seized control of nations before and started wars. The Customs Agency spent a good deal of time working with cutting edge technology (among other things) in order to fight monsters. Unlike Chamberlin, they knew a monster when they saw him. They knew Hitler wasn’t going to back down. They knew that the advances in technology would make this a very bad war. But human monsters were not their responsibility, and diverting their attention and resources into opposing the Nazis would allow things to start slipping into this world once again; not to mention destroy the political neutrality they depended on to allow them to operate anywhere at any time as needed. Individuals were, of course, free to do as they saw fit. Many members of the Customs Agency did seek to stop the Nazis (The Baroness herself used her own personal shadowy influence to try and persuade the government of The United Kingdom against appeasement, but she was not listened to), but the organization’s hands as a whole were tied. So the Customs Agency braced itself for the coming storm. They knew it would be bad.
But no one foresaw the peculiar twist Hitler’s personal insanity would add to the mix. Hitler was irrational and unstable. And irrational people take irrational actions, believe in irrational ideas, and peruse irrational courses. The world said that magic and the supernatural were irrational superstition, and that only irrational people believed in them. Hitler was such an irrational person, and he had a knack for surrounding himself with people who shared his irrationality. The sad irony of the situation was that in this case, the irrational was actually quite real.
They had no real idea what they were really doing. The Nazis plunged into occult investigation with reckless abandon. They did this in absolute secrecy, of course, trying to discover a new mystical supper weapon. But their efforts were so much like the proverbial bull in a china shop that that the mystical community couldn’t help but notice what they were doing. Mostly, they laughed at the Nazi’s clumsy efforts. That was a mistake. At first the Nazis were hindered by two main obstacles. First, was that they didn’t have a clue what they were really doing. Second, was that anyone within their reach that could have been of use to them they had already murdered or driven off. Those that accept the existence of the arcane and delve into its mysteries tend to be oddballs, free thinks, and people on the fringes of society. The very people the Nazis had driven off or destroyed to protect their power base. But the Nazis were persistent. They conquered new lands, acquired new information, and perused every avenue of investigation they could think of or find no matter how ridiculous or bazaar. Most of the time they only succeeded in making themselves look as ridiculous and bazaar as their tactics. But occasionally, they found something of value. Here and there a sage’s tome with real information. Functional pieces of a true grimoire. It began to add up. A plan began to be conceived. Many of the tomes spoke of demons and other beasts from the netherworlds, creatures that could be controlled and summoned. If the Führer could summon an army of these creatures to do his bidding, Nazi Germany would be unstoppable.
But the spells would not work. The Nazi occult investigators had acquired just enough expertise in real mysticism to discern the answer: The portals were sealed. Someone or something was blocking the spells from working. So the Nazis secretly set about to find the anchors that bound the boarders of the realm, and kept them sealed. They would reverse, undo, or destroy them so that they might bring forth their invincible army. By this time the Customs Agency had awakened to the danger, but the Nazis controlled all of Europe. The key sites that secure the guardian spells that seal off the Ethereal Plane and protect the Astral Portals are necessarily scattered about the globe. The Nazis don’t have the reach to get at all of them, nor are they ungraded, without protection, or unhidden, and it’s not as if the Nazi occult experts have enough expertise to really understand them… But you don’t really have to fully understand something to identify it and then break it. Even the loss of one, two, or three of these key nodes will create a hole in this realm’s defenses. And there are several behind the Nazi lines, plus a few in vulnerable areas not controlled by the allies.
So now the Customs Agency has been forced to put aside its neutrality, and pseudo-openly side with the Allies. They’re still working in the shadows, still keeping their secret from a public not ready to accept that the Nazis are on the verge of summoning an army of demons, but now they’re coordinating their efforts with the allied military through select contacts and directly participating in the fight against the Wehrmacht and its secret occult commando units.
What’s at Stake
Not what the Nazis and the Allies think is.
The time for the reckoning with the Rahnian Sphere is near. There are only a few decades left before the forces of the sphere initiate their covert invasion, less if they happen to run a final check on the realm right before and discover The Baroness’s time tampering and move up their own timetable. The plan is for The Baroness to personally confront her nice and grandniece just before the invasion, and present herself as a full representative of a fully prepared and defended realm; as, therefore, an equal who must be respected. That Solace will probe the earth’s defenses anyway is a given. If they are found to be tight, then the Sphere will be forced to acknowledge the Baroness as an equal among the family, and back down. If, however, the Nazis are allowed to poke holes in those defenses, then Solace’s advanced, reality-manipulating agents may get through. If they get in, they might very well be able to “change” The Baroness, and force her to their side. The spells and guardian protocols that protect the world are hers. She designed them and forged them herself. NO ONE knows the strengths and weaknesses of this realm’s natural defenses better than she who has spent over a century dedicated to their study and augmentation. If the Sphere gets The Baroness, they get the world.
Truth be told, the spells that the Nazis have work through the main avenues of approach to this realm which are thoroughly controlled by The Customs Agency. Opening holes in these back ways will NOT allow them to bring in their demon army. The spells don’t work through those conduits, and The Baroness is likely the only mage on the planet with the expertise to alter them to work that way. However, those realm sized protective barriers took decades to emplace, and if the Nazis are allowed to destroy some of the anchors it will likely take at least one decade to repair after the Nazis can be driven off to allow uninterrupted access to the sites. That’s cutting things a little too close for comfort. Worse, if the Nazis actually manage to win the war then they’ll be able to spread out all over and completely dismantle the protections in their mad effort to gain mystical power. Also, if the Nazis gain control they’ll be able to ferret out the Customs Agency as a whole, and then they WILL get that army of demons, which is more likely to consume the planet in an orgy of destruction than secure it for Uncle Adolf.
Not that the Nazis actually realize this, they’re still really just blundering around in the dark. The Customs Agency hasn’t bothered to try and set the Allies straight on the matter either. Demon invasion seems to be motivation enough to oppose Hitler’s occult squad, and the full truth would just hurt most people’s brains anyway. Does it really matter if it’s Nazis or the Rahnian Sphere that will ultimately rule the world if Hitler’s occult activities aren’t stopped? Either way it means the end of the free world.
So what’s at stake? What are the PC’s really fighting for whether they know it or not? Just the soul of the world’s primary guardian, and the freedom of determination for every man woman and child on earth. No big deal right?
It is June 4th, 1944, and a fateful day is approaching…