All Roads/Ghost Hunting
ST: Where's he headed?
To talk to a colleague
Any Mysterium he may know and vaguely get along well with who would be a speciality on local haunts.
ST: Nacht would probably be your best bet.
ST: She's in the Four Winds cabal with Diana, Isis's old mentor.
Nebuchadnezzar: Foil my attempt to bring in other cabals won't you
ST: Ah. Well, I was thinking someone you'd most likely know.
ST: Let me pull someone else from the list, then.
Nebuchadnezzar: (No worries if that is someone I'd know. Nebuchadnezzar is not all that fond of the Four Winds, they are Isis' friends not really his)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Whatever works)
Nebuchadnezzar: (I am trying to learn more of the city however though)
ST: (Sure, no problem.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (But your right, Nacht would be a good bet, depends what type of Moros he is)
ST: (She, and she's a necromancer.)
ST: (Instead, how about Artisan. Matter-focused really, but that just means you'd have more in common.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Works fairly well then.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Lets go with Nacht)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Strikes me as sensible, unfortunately)
ST: (He's part of The Forgotten City, a cabal that specialises in occult dealings and scrounging forgotten knowledge.)
ST: (Sure. Either or.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (I will note the Forgotten City down though, for future reference)
ST: (They're part genius, part crackpot.)
ST: (Sometimes they find gems, but most times baseless rumors and myths.)
ST: It is a short trip to Nacht's residence and by the time you arrive the sun has long since set. She lives in a grotty-seeming apartment above a pawn shop some ways out on the east end.
Nebuchadnezzar: (Also note, Nebuchadnezzar has not let Speak with Dead lapse since the interrogation. He's a paranoid fucker)
ST: Having rung the doorbell it takes rather a while before you hear movement inside. Curiously all the lights seem to be off.
ST: When the door finally opens it reveals a tall, gaunt woman. Her blonde hair, shoulder-length and lank, is so drained of colour it almost appears grey. A stereotypical necromancer by all accounts, she's even wearing a black blouse and skirt. "Nebuchadnezzar." She states. Despite her appearance and surroundings she exudes confidence and capability, "You don't visit often."
Nebuchadnezzar shrugs. "Research has always been a priority of mine. It tends to win out over friendly visits."
Nebuchadnezzar: "How are you Nacht?"
ST: A smirk spread on her thin lips. "Good. You caught me in the middle of my meditations."
ST: "Come in." She gestures and heads inside, into the dark.
Nebuchadnezzar: He does as he is bid, briefcase in one hand.
ST: It's dim inside but not pitch black. She leads you up a set of creaking stairs and into the apartment proper. You enter into the lounge and immediately you notice that the place is a lot nicer than it seems on the outside. It's furnished sparsely, but tastefully, in a modern style.
ST: More noticeable are the many, many candles that have been set onto the surfaces all around, surrounding a comfortable looking chair.
ST: "Excuse the clutter, if you would." She steps around them easily before flicking on the light. "I think it would be best if we were to speak in the kitchen."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Thank you, yes." Nebuchadnezzar says mostly controlling his curiosity.
ST: The kitchen is thankfully clear and she gestures to a table set against one wall. "Tea, coffee? Or something stronger? I have a bottle of red that's quite nice if you're not driving."
Nebuchadnezzar: "I don't drive." There is a small pause, before he hurriedly says: "Not any more. And thank you the red would be nice."
Nebuchadnezzar: "I guess I should have brought some, my manners are slipping."
ST: "Visiting a lady with wine may have given the wrong impression, Nebuchadnezzar." With a small smile she pours each of you a glass, placing yours on the table as she sits down next to you with her own.
ST: "Now, is this really a social visit or is there something you wanted to talk about?" It seems she knows you well enough to assume you're not here for pleasure.
Nebuchadnezzar: "True." He smiles, the sad little smile he always gives. "I have recently taken into developing my skills with the dead. I hope it will lead to some breakthroughs; after all how does death relate to the awakening."
Nebuchadnezzar: He pauses with to sip the wine. "In that regards I was hoping you could point me to some of the safer local haunts. I intend to inspect and talk with the denizens there. See what I can learn. It strikes me as the safest way of satisfying my curiosity."
ST: She nods serenely as you speak. Her wine goes untouched for the time being. "I see." Tilting her head back a little she seems to think on it. "There aren't many stable haunts these days. We have a policy of clearing them, if possible."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Understandable." Nebuchadnezzar takes another sip letting her continue ST: "There are dangers aside from the ghosts themselves, too. The areas tend to get a lot of interest from a fringe set of, hm," She pauses, "I don't suppose you have heard of the term 'sin-eater'?"
Nebuchadnezzar: "Nope. Not at all."
ST: "Historical connotations aside, I'm talking about people who give their body into a symbiotic bond with a powerful ghost. Like possession, only the sleeper keeps full control. I have only met a handful, and I believe there aren’t many in the city."
ST: "Either way they seem drawn to ghostly activity, especially established haunts."
ST: Without letting you interject she waves her hand vaguely. "That said, there are a couple of places I could direct you to."
Nebuchadnezzar smiles, disguising it with the glass to his lips.
Nebuchadnezzar: (Keep forgetting my SN is my real name
ST: She stands, her skirt flowing about her ankles as she moves to get a pen and a piece of paper. After a moment she returns and writes a short address on it before sliding it over the table.
Nebuchadnezzar: (Out of curiosity what rank is Nacht in the order? I assume same as me Dudecedos)
ST: "This would be a good start. An old squat on the Isle of Dogs; the sin-eaters don't head out that far. There is a young boy there who you could speak to."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Thank you. If will return the favour whenever I am able." Nebuchadnezzar says opening the briefcase and pulling out a map and red pen.
ST: She seems to consider something for a moment before gesturing for the pen and paper again, then writing down a second address near it.
ST: "This one is older. Harefield hospital." She taps the pen against the paper several times before handing it back. "An older woman. She's harmless, but quite difficult to find. Try paediatrics."
ST: "Be careful when you're there, though, and don't meddle. An independent cabal runs in the area."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Independent?" Nebuchadnezzar raises an eyebrow. "I'll be careful. Do they recognise the any of the rites?"
ST: She shakes her head. "None of the established ones. They're a mutual-protection group. I think they don't like the, hm, ambience of supernatural politics."
ST: "Just keep a low profile. If you find one just treat them like any other person."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Interesting that they have managed to stay put in one of the richer areas of London." Nebuchadnezzar muses. They must have powerful friends.
ST: "Fluid territory transition, I suppose. It was free when they arrived and no-one's wanted to put in the effort to uproot them."
Nebuchadnezzar: "South Kensington was never a cheap piece of real estate." He nods in response and finishes up the wine.
Nebuchadnezzar: "I guess I will let you resume your ritual. If you want to cash in that favour you know how to get in contact." He repacks the paper into his briefcase. "Oh and thank you for the wine."
ST: "I'll bear that in mind, Nebuchadnezzar." She smiles a little up at you, then rises. "Give my regards to the rest of your cabal."
Nebuchadnezzar: "I shall." He lets her lead him out and flags down another taxi.
ST: "Where to?"
Nebuchadnezzar: "Isle of Dogs please"
ST: The drive is a short one and soon enough you arrive. "Anywhere here?"
Nebuchadnezzar: "Should be fine." Nebuchadnezzar pays the man and gets out of the cab.
ST: It's dark and seasonably cold. The streets are lit in dull orange and by now are all but deserted.
ST: Cars pass by but pedestrians are sparse.
Nebuchadnezzar is glancing around, intent on finding the squat that Nacht described to him.
Nebuchadnezzar: His second sight focused on the shadow.
ST: With the address it isn’t difficult to find the place. A lonely street of terraced houses bears a collection that are abandoned and sealed. The one you are looking for is unremarkable. Like the rest the windows and door are covered with a sheet of steel to dissuade would-be explorers.
Nebuchadnezzar glances up and down the street and when he is certain there is no one within eye shot he bends the metal out of the way. Returning it to where it was a moment later.
ST: The inside of the house is a mire of decay, rank with the must of mould and the sour stench of whatever pests have taken up residence.
ST: Decades-old wallpaper peels in chunks off the walls, and the place is almost bare apart from the occasional discarded fast food wrapper that suggests human visitation.
ST: Things skitter in the dark as you make your way around. Clearly the correct atmosphere for a haunted house.
ST: The downstairs is clear, but after a while you realise that you can hear an odd whispering coming from upstairs. Nebuchadnezzar: (Good thing I still have speak with dead on)
ST: (I assumed so.)
Nebuchadnezzar ascends the stairs, his skin crawling and his primal mind screaming but neither have ever held much of a candle to his resolve.
Nebuchadnezzar: Even so, he is unnerved. This has long been a fear of his. He pushes forward with some trepidation. ST: The stairs creak and groan ominously underfoot but you reach the upstairs landing with no incident. The whispering has stopped, but following it's vague location you are drawn to a large, front room. It would overlook the street if the windows weren't covered. As it is the place is just dark.
ST: The floorboards are bare and there seems to be no bed, but in one corner is a large wardrobe and against the opposite wall is a chest of drawers. There's nothing here, though you were sure the sound came from this room. ST: It's deathly cold as you step inside.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Hello?" Nebuchadnezzar hovers at the doorway, his eyes taking in the dark of the room. "May I come in?" ST: There's no reply.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Ghosts, always have to be so melodramatic." Nebuchadnezzar mutters, "Well I'm taking silence for yes." He says more loudly.
Nebuchadnezzar: He wanders in sitting in the corner of the room.
ST: As you wait the silence of the room seems to intensify then, over time, you begin to hear something. A tiny, almost imperceptible whimpering seems to be coming from the corner in which the wardrobe sits.
Nebuchadnezzar: He stands slowly, gulping. This child almost certainly didn't die peacefully. Like my psyche needs more scars.
Nebuchadnezzar: Willing himself forward, he very slowly reaches for the door of the wardrobe.
ST: Your hand closes around the cold metal handle and as you pull the door opens slowly, wood swollen by damp grinding.
ST: A sliver of darkness is revealed when suddenly the quiet is cut by the relatively deafening tone of your mobile ringing and vibrating in your pocket.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Sorry about that kiddo." Nebuchadnezzar says with a jump. "Forgot to move it onto silent."
Nebuchadnezzar: Who is calling me?
ST: You don't get a chance to look, as you pull the phone out a dark shape barrels out of the wardrobe and straight through you; leaving you feeling breathless and chilled to the core.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Dammit, twice in one day." Nebuchadnezzar says with a wheeze.
ST: It cowers on the opposite side of the room in a ball, whispering and whimpering. "Holy Mary, mother of god! Help those in need! Holy Mary, mother of god-"
ST: Your phone is still ringing.
Nebuchadnezzar hits a button, with his free hand silencing the phone.
Nebuchadnezzar: And examines the ghost.
ST: A young boy, as Nacht said. No more than 11 or so you'd imagine. He's dressed poorly. Modern-seeming clothes though of low quality. His brown hair is scruffy and his skin is dirty and pale.
ST: In contrast to the rest of his clothes around his neck is a thick, warm-looking scarf. It's dense and a deep crimson colour. His words are muffled as part of it covers his mouth, the rest trailing down his back.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Protect you from what child?" Nebuchadnezzar says, aware that the ghost should be able to hear him. He keeps his distance, scrutinising rather than doing anything threatening.
ST: The whispering goes on for a while but in time his initial fear looks to lessen and soon the boy's just staring at you with wide, glassy eyes.
ST: "I wasn't doing anything. I promise."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Would it matter if you were? As long as it harms no one what does it matter."
Nebuchadnezzar says with a shrug. Feeling around in his pocket for his cigarette case.
ST: "I thought you were my mum. She doesn't like me in here."
ST: (His accent is more regional than I type it. He doesn't sound like he was well brought up.)
Nebuchadnezzar: "Is this her room?" He opens the cigarette case, a row of specially rolled cigarettes in his hand. For the moment he doesn't do anything with them.
ST: He nods, his eyes drawn to what you have in your hand. His posture has relaxed a little and he stands up though still with his back pressed against the wall.
ST: (Wits+comp, -1 for the dark.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (1 sux)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Nebuchadnezzar old vices come through when he is nervous)
ST: The end of his scarf hangs a long way down his body, down to the back of his knees. Now that you have a better vantage the whole thing looks odd. It glistens slightly and the tassels quiver wetly like giblets with each of his small movements.
ST: Occasionally small drops will fall from it to the ground.
Nebuchadnezzar: (Forensic Gaze)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Or rather an alt version for ghosts)
ST: Reading the esoteric signs of death that cling to the spirit you determine that the child's death was caused by a slow bleed due to trauma to the thyroid vein.
ST: You cannot tell the cause of this injury, only that it is what killed him.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Throat Cut. Geeze." Nebuchadnezzar mutters again. "So what is your name, kid?"
Nebuchadnezzar: "You mind if I smoke Ryan?"
ST: His voice is small and strained.
ST: And he looks more than a little skittish.
Nebuchadnezzar: "What do you remember? Last thing you remember before I got here?"
Nebuchadnezzar's taken a cigarette out and is playing it along his fingers, rolling it between them.
Nebuchadnezzar: He isn't very good at it and nearly drops the cigarette onto the floor.
ST: "Dunno." More than his unease it seems that shyness is guiding the boy's words.
ST: His chin sinks down, burying his mouth into his scarf as he blinks at you then down at the floor and around.
Nebuchadnezzar: (Wits and Empathy, do I sense he has noticed how the room really looks)
Nebuchadnezzar: (2 sux)
ST: (No, he's just avoiding your gaze. He's being bashful.)
Nebuchadnezzar: "Come on Ryan, you can open up to me. Who am I going to tell? My name is Nebuchadnezzar by the way, or at least that is what most people call me these days."
Nebuchadnezzar: "As I realised it is only fair you get my name, as I got yours."
Nebuchadnezzar: (Presence and Persuasion)
Nebuchadnezzar: (0 sux, Nebuchadnezzar is obviously out of practice at this. He hasn't had many conversations this long in awhile) ST: "I shouldn't talk to you." Is the short reply. He isn't going anywhere though.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Why not?" Nebuchadnezzar says with a frown, the cigarette now resting between two fingers.
ST: He mumbles something into his scarf, you only catch the word 'strangers'.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Don't talk to strangers, a sensible precaution." Nebuchadnezzar says returning to sit in the far corner of the room. "So what do you want to know that means I won't be a stranger any more?"
Nebuchadnezzar: He closes the case and pockets it again. Pulling out a notebook and pencil instead. The cigarette goes behind his ear.
ST: Silence fills the room again for a long time.
Nebuchadnezzar fills the time sketching, aiming to capture as much about the ghost as he can on paper.
ST: The boy's eyes are locked on the floor and his expression looks blank for the longest moment.
ST: Then, when you begin to think he isn't going to answer he looks up.
ST: "Who did you kill?"
Nebuchadnezzar stays silent for a long moment after that... lost in old memories. After a moment he lights the cigarette and inhales a cloud of smoke. Taking his time before saying anything...
Nebuchadnezzar: "Haunts. Should have guessed you were more aware of what was going on here than I gave you credit for." He mutters, more to himself than Ryan. "No one intentionally." He eventually answers.
Nebuchadnezzar: "But you don't care about intent do you?" He says after another long drag. "Just the guilt my pattern shows, dragging with me like chains."
ST: If the boy understands much of what you're saying he doesn't show it, just watching you quietly with his face half-obscured. Nebuchadnezzar: "I killed the person closest to me, my soul mate. My greatest love." He says quietly, "And everyday I think it should have been her who sits here rather than me." He crumples the unfinished cigarette against the floor to demonstrate his disgust in himself and his continued existence.
ST: He looks away at that, down to the floor.
ST: His stance has relaxed a little and he stands away from the wall he was pressed up against.
ST: "Sorry." Is the mumbled response.
Nebuchadnezzar: "No worries" Nebuchadnezzar says bitterly, "Your only bringing to my conscious mind the thoughts that clutter around my head every moment of every day." His tone settles, as he acknowledges he's let his mask slip and the pain show through.
Nebuchadnezzar: He spends the next few moments struggling to calm himself.
ST: The ghost scuffs the front of his shoe against the bare floorboards. He remains silent as he does so, still looking down to the ground.
Nebuchadnezzar: "So I answered your question Ryan. Will you tell me a little about you?"
Nebuchadnezzar: He finally says his voice calmer, the ice back in his veins.
ST: Again he doesn't say anything but gives a shrug, and you think a nod.
Nebuchadnezzar: "So talk and I will listen" And Nebuchadnezzar covers his chin with one hand.
ST: After a long period of quiet he finally speaks, "I'm Ryan, I'm 10. This is my house."
ST: "Live here with my mum." He shrugs a bit, shyness still evident.
Nebuchadnezzar stays politely quiet. Not yet asking any questions.
ST: He hesitates a bit, perhaps unsure of what you want to hear. "Go to school at St Edmunds. I like football. And Mario."
Nebuchadnezzar: "And what year is it?" Nebuchadnezzar asks.
ST: "I-" He pauses as if to think. "I dunno?"
Nebuchadnezzar: "Oh come on, your ten. Even a ten year old tends to know the year."
ST: He shakes his head, now sounding a little agitated. "I don't remember!"
Nebuchadnezzar: "I could tell you why but it isn't a kind thing to do."
Nebuchadnezzar says sadly. "A kinder question is have you discovered anything neat you can do, fun ways to play here?"
Nebuchadnezzar: (Stupid useless compassion)
Nebuchadnezzar: "Ways you wouldn't have known about before, like my phone? Or is that entirely instinct?" ST: (Referencing something a sec)
ST: He looks fairly confused by your second question, but after a moment begins to wander past you and towards the wardrobe he was hiding in before.
ST: "I like to play cards." He points.
ST: In the bottom of the wardrobe, which you hadn't noticed initially, are scattered a number of grubby-looking cards. They look like they're part of some kind of collectable card game.
ST: Not the standard playing deck, at least.
Nebuchadnezzar: "I'd be interested in seeing." Nebuchadnezzar says his voice now calm, as sympathy works its way back into his voice.
ST: He kneels down and starts to point to them in turn. "This ones my best one. He's the rarest." He points to a card with a dragon-type creature on it. The name on the top states it as 'Charizard'. "But my favourite is Blastoise. He looks cooler." He says as he gestures to another one.
ST: (Nebuchadnezzar strikes me as someone who wouldn't know pokemon, somehow.)
ST: All of the cards are in an extremely sorry state; barely legible with the damp and dirt.
ST: "I don't know anyone else who plays, so I just fight myself." He continues, seeming to come out of his shell a little. "But I can't do it all the time. I get too tired."
Nebuchadnezzar: (2 sux)
ST: (The cards resonate collectively with death. It's only slight, but it's almost like a stored energy.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Are they real cards or do they exist only in the Twilight?)
ST: (They're real.)
Nebuchadnezzar: "May I have a look at one?" Nebuchadnezzar asks after a moment or so "Perhaps you could teach me the rules."
Nebuchadnezzar: (Nebuchadnezzar honestly does just want a closer look, and to be honest, he feels the child could use some company.)
ST: He shifts to the side a bit so you can lean in. "You can have that one." He points to one. It doesn't seem particularly special, it's not holo-foil like the ones he already pointed out though the monster on the front looks formidable enough.
Nebuchadnezzar: (Does it resonate with Death?)
ST: (They all do, though as a collection.)
Nebuchadnezzar examines it carefully with Grim Sight. "So how do we play this game."
ST: (They seem filled with potential that resonates with Moros. You imagine it would be very easy to fashion into a death-based artefact.)
Nebuchadnezzar: (Nebuchadnezzar has no intention of doing so however. He does not want to take away the child's only possession.) ST: He begins to explain the rules of the game and as he does so it becomes apparent that they're just as esoteric and arcane as some of the mysteries you've been studying.
ST: That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but his explanation skills aren’t great and the game seems somewhat convoluted.
ST: "Then whoever doesn't have any Pokémon left to play with at the end loses." He finishes up, sitting back on his heels.
Nebuchadnezzar: "OK lets give this a go." Nebuchadnezzar sits down and plays the game with Ryan wondering how to break the news to the kid that he is dead.
ST: He looks at the cards for a moment then hesitates. "I'm tired now."
ST: It occurs to you that all through his explanation he hasn't touched the cards once, it's only you who has plucked one from the wood.
ST: In fact, by the layer of dirt and dust on them they look like they haven't been touched in years.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Shall I let you rest?" Nebuchadnezzar says quietly, handing Ryan back the card.
ST: He shrugs a bit, still looking at the cards.
ST: "Was she nice?"
Nebuchadnezzar pauses a moment, "Yes she was." A little smile playing at his lips as he recall for once a happy memory.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Before you go can I ask you one last question?"
ST: He nods.
Nebuchadnezzar: "Why did you ask if I'd killed anyone?" He sighs, "It is an odd question to ask."
ST: He blinks at you then answers matter-of-factly, "Because you did."
Nebuchadnezzar: "But how did you know that?"
ST: A long moment passes as he seems stuck for an answer.
ST: "I don't remember."
Nebuchadnezzar: "Something to think on." Nebuchadnezzar says sadly. "Shall I visit you again?" He asks kindly.
ST: "Okay. I'll have to ask my mum though."
Nebuchadnezzar: "When you see her." Nebuchadnezzar says before leaving, his back turned quickly his face a mask of grief, for both himself and that poor child.
Nebuchadnezzar: On his way out he re affixes the plate, and notes the tenement number once more in his notepad, before heading to the nearest bus stop.
ST: The night outside is cold, though only a little more than the place you leave behind.