I will very shortly be creating a separate blog for the Nobilis campaign, but until then, such posts get put here.
We played on Sunday. This is the first of the player diaries. (And we have more players now, so more diaries. Yay, diaries.)
18 May 03
I gazed down at the body. No ID. No eyes. A neat cluster of shots in his chest. Nice work. I assumed it was mine, unsure why the assumption felt so natural, save it might be a memory I could not remember.
The gun’s weight in my hand was a comfort. With it, I felt I could do almost anything. I knew that was a dangerous sentiment, but did not know how I knew.
Sirens warbled in the distance. Time to leave. The gun tucked into the belt at my back like it had grown there. The alley was an odd artifact of intersecting buildings, with no purpose save for a door to one side, redolent dumpsters beside it. If there were anything painted on it once, the legend had long since flaked away in the grime. But, then, I needed only to know that this was the way out, not wonder what it was the way to.
That seemed vaguely familiar as a sentiment as well, and just as unfamiliar in its origin or meaning.
If the door had been locked it would have been no problem something whispered, but it made no difference, as the door barely fit into its jamb. I wonder how they keep it secure at night? Again, it made no difference. I’d never be here again. Unless I’d been here before, and simply didn’t remember it.
It was an Indian restaurant, and my stomach rumbled. It was a sensation both distantly familiar and utterly strange, and I was getting very tired of feeling that way. Whoever did this to me will pay. Dearly. That felt better.
I was in the mud room, a drain for the mop to one side, a ladder to some ancient storage place embedded in a wall. Ahead the way held a pantry, then the kitchen proper. It was between meals, and off in a far corner two men jabbered in Urdu about a friend of theirs who gambled too much. I hadn’t known I knew Urdu, but that was turning out to be par for the course today.
They weren’t facing in my direction, and a third man who was grunting and groaning to clean a grill was only somewhat angled toward me. They never had a chance to see me slip past them into the butler’s pantry between kitchen and restaurant. I glanced through the windows, took in the few quiet patrons polishing off their lunch, and casually passed into, then out of, the room, for all the world someone who simply ought to be there. None of the customers even looked up from their curry and vindaloo.
The dark-skinned woman at the door, hair dark as coal, looked at me a little strangely. I could kill her, to be sure. I knew I could frighten the hell out of her, too, but this wasn’t the time for that, either. I simply gave her a nod, took a peppermint, and exited.
Whitechapel by day is always busy, and there were plenty of businessfolk there for cheap eats, tradesmen and housewives shopping among the tatty shops, and, of course, the tourists. If they’d seen what I’d seen, they’d vomit up lunch from last Tuesday, I thought, wondering what I’d seen in the same mental breath.
A Metropolitan police cruiser had come to a stop a building or two ahead, another car behind it, and since half the crowd was gawking I felt I could, too, without drawing attention. The alley was behind me, and glancing there I could see another of the silly little cars stopped short there. Both uniforms and plainclothes were getting guns out of the trunk, and I could hear the crackle of microphones and speakers. “Shots fired, officers responding,” other bits of that sort. They were taking it seriously, and part of me automatically wished them luck, while part of me furiously backpedalled from that wish.
I stepped down to the next storefront, a newstand. I entered, to get myself off the street (were there descriptions of me out there?), and to see if any of the news headlines jogged my memory. I could hear the cops speaking as clearly from inside as out, which was both odd and natural in that annoying paradoxical way that was already burning a slow fuse within my gut.
My eyes skimmed across the headlines, taking in whole stories at a glance. Huge Power Outage Strikes Malaysia. US ‘Rave’ Fire Kills Hundreds. Gun Battle Terrifies Londoners. I gave that last one a special look, as though it rang a bell, but it was full of lots of words and very little content. What can you expect from the Guardian?
Meantime, the cops had found the body, word was, out looking for some sick bastard who’d mutilate a corpse (only beforehand), and I had heard all I was going to unless I hung around long enough to make folks suspicious. So I didn’t.
I knew London, but I didn’t know London. A glance at a tourist map gave me the layout of the city, burned in my head like I’d walked every street there a hundred times (perhaps I had). And paying for a candy bar (the hunger remained odd, but I knew it had to be dealt with) gave me a chance to look at the wallet in my jacket pocket.
Si?n Ewig. An address in Whitechapel. How convenient, as was the ?30.
No keys in the pocket, though. Interesting.
I walked casually down the street, paying as much and as little attention to who might be watching me as I could. I’d been found once (I somehow sensed, guessed, that the man in the alleyway had found me, not the other way around), which meant I could be found again. Which meant that my flat was a trap I could not avoid.
I knew it was my flat, just as it was my name. Even if it was neither where I truly lived, nor what people called me. Yes, the systemic confusion was no less annoying with repetition.
I approached my block — familiar only from the map, not from my mind’s eye — with caution. I would deal with getting in the door without keys when must. But until then …
I spotted him across the street, on the stoop of another flat, reading the same page of the paper over and over, his shaded eyes on my place, not on the words. He did not, I was sure, see me.
Fine. Pulling out the gun and killing him would be counterproductive, both attractive of unwarrented attention, and not, at this point, satisfying. I wondered at that pairing of concerns, even as I saw a man in black with a bold white collar, speaking Cymraeg and holding forth at length on both the value of life and the terrible wrath of the Lord, and His divine punishment on those who killed his sheep, while I stood stock-still in my pew, lest Da clout me on the head again. The vision was gone as fast as it came, leaving me to blink behind my own sunglasses.
I shook my head slightly, then moved back a block, passed down another alleyway into the back garden of the building upon whose stoop the watcher sat. I passed unnoticed through the back door, past two flats in back, then to the front two. One, I could hear, had a dog within it, a small yapping thing which made a frightened noise at my displeasure and slinked away. The other was empty, better suited to my purpose.
My vest had within it various items, including lockpicks, and I clearly knew how to use them, for the door was open in less time than it took to tell. I glanced around, noticing the bay windows. A half-glance through them showed the watcher, still oblivious to his target’s true location.
I went back to the hallway, pulled out the gun which sang to me in my hand of lightning and blood and the Lord’s mighty punishment.
Then I silently opened the foyer door, opened the front door, grabbed the man by the scruff of the neck, the other hand boring the gun barrel into the base of his skull, and pulled him inside before anyone on the street could notice.