The following is a recounting of the events of the first session of a Chronicles of Darkness campaign set in Quinvia Junction, a fictional US city where five major railways meet. It’s a Demon game using the Mage rules. Or are we all just sorely deluded mages with no demonic taint to us? My character is certain he’s a Demon and the mortal is just a memory, but he may well be very wrong. The following tale is told from his point-of-view and may contain a number of inaccuracies about the session. Partly because he misinterpreted a few things and partly because the session was nearly a month ago and I don’t seem to have kept much in the way of notes (whoops).
A week ago my name was Lucas Brown. I was, and in a manner of speaking still am, a drunk, a ne’er-do-well, and a miscreant.
A week ago Lucas, the Lucas that was not me, was at the Firefly Cafe, a coffee shop. It was one of those new hippie places. Or is it hipster? Is there even a difference between the two? Who cares? He was there because of the free coffee. Well, technically someone else had “paid it forward”. Lucas thought, and now I think, that this is a fantastic rort. We get free coffee from the hard work of others. I suppose they get to feel pride or gratitude or something for their charitable act. An empty act that the Father would never reward. Which should make it ever the sweeter to me, I suppose. A step closer to irredeemable sin for the proud in their false charity.
Lucas was waiting for his free coffee. He was hungover and hoping to score a free baked good at the same time. And then a girder fell from the construction site next door and crashed through the roof. It rang like a bell as it struck the floor. For Lucas, it never stopped ringing.
At that time I, Bezaliel Grigori, was roused from my eternal oblivion in the absence of God. I was aware of the passage of time again, as a single dull human soul flitted past me. At least as much as anything can pass by something in that timeless, dimensionless void. I grabbed at it and rode it back to Creation. Right into Lucas’ body.
I suspect he should have died when that girder fell and his soul was on its way to Hell, until I forced it back into his body. As best I can speculate, my angelic essence infused his dead soul for another week or so of conscious life.
All he was aware of was the ceaseless ringing and an inexplicable awareness of several other people’s location. He, and I, know nothing of who those other people or why we know where they are. Just that we do know. He lived his last week the same way he lived the rest of them. Drunk, hungover, unconscious, or some combination of the three. It was a fitting and good end to his life.
I awoke. Dousing the fire of his soul and beginning to remember who and what I am. A Fallen Watcher. The Thirteenth of the Fallen Grigori.
I have lost much of what I was. I remember little to nothing of the time before my Fall or of the interminable time I spent in the Absence. I have changed too. I remember all that Lucas knew in his life. I feel many of his emotions and needs, though I know they are not mine, they are also inseparable from mine. And I indulge in them. I was Free from Heaven’s grasp for such a short time, I never learnt the joys of hedonism or apathy. Lucas is an expert in both. And like me he was an observer and nothing more for most of his existence. But on those rare occasions when we chose to act, the act was momentus and enduring.
I have little of my former power. I can still see the truth of many things, though the worlds of the spirits and the dead are invisible to me, as are the minds of the mortals around me. I can shape a little of the Primal substance of the universe and touch impotently at the flow of Time, but my powers are no more than a shadow of old. I am content with this. My sights shall return and I shall resume my watch over the world. And, eventually, I shall see enough to decide.
This evening – only my second in this new life – I was compelled to rouse myself. I was drinking at The Drunken Tailor, a regular and decrepit haunt, when the bartender informed me that I had to settle my tab before I could have another drink. With no means to do so, I decided it was time to move to the next pub.
The moment I stepped onto the street, I felt the odd burning behind my eyes I get when something threatens me. Two men were resting on a car nearby, looking a little too nonchalant. I focused for a moment and expanded my sense so that I could see in a full circle around myself. A third man was approaching me from behind, sap in hand. I pretended to stumble. Not hard in my drunken state and as he reached me I turned and landed an uppercut into his groin.
I didn’t wait to see what happened next, I took off down an alley way towards the train yards. A chain link fence blocked the path, but some dumpsters had been pushed up next to them. I clambered on to them and then over the fence. The two men were clearly pursuing me. I remembered the small revolver in my pocket and waved it in their general direction, they dove for cover gaining me a few moments.
I tore into the trainyard looking for somewhere to hide. The only thing I saw was an empty coal cart. I ran around its far side and quickly climbed up and dropped in, hopeful I had lost them. My hopes were soon dashed.
I heard one of the men start to climb the ladder, so I calmly pointed the revolver where he would appear. Sure enough he jumped back off the moment he saw the gun. But I was stuck.
I looked around considering my options when I noticed the chute through which the coal is unloaded. The second man had now joined the first and the pair were circling the car watching for me to make a move. I glimpsed the possible futures and chose a moment that they’d both be looking the wrong way and moved as stealthily as I could to get under the carriage in front. Not quiet enough though – one of the men heard me and grabbed my ankle. I shot into the ground next to him, but he refused to let go. I slackened my struggle for a moment, then snapped a foot at his face. I felt his nose crunch under my heel and scrambled out of his grip, up and away from the cramped space under the carriage.
Lucas has a near encyclopaedic knowledge of the bars, clubs, and pubs of Quinvia Junction and I quickly searched it for a nearby one that was likely to be busy. And classy enough that people wouldn’t look the other way to an abduction or stabbing. The Gentleman and The Scholar is routinely packed with wine snobs and craft beer geeks, happy with their over-priced swill that gets them no drunker than the cheap stuff. It was perfect, and I happen to know the guy who works the door. I legged it in that direction, but through some serious luck I managed to lose them in the train yard. (I’d say miracle, but divine intervention doesn’t tend to act in my favour)
I still went to G&S – after all, I’d earnt a drink with all this running and shooting and hiding. And the young, bored professionals would be happy to buy me a few rounds in exchange for a story of a life more interesting than the tedium of their office jobs.
That first drink after the chase, I assumed that Lucas owed the men money. But as the alcohol cleared my mind I realised too many things didn’t add up. Lucas wouldn’t be worth three guys, let alone getting shot. Sure he owes plenty of people money. He’s robbed plenty of one-time friends and hoodwinked dozens more. But it’s never been more than a few hundred, maybe a couple of grand. Not worth abducting someone so flagrantly. Clearly something else is happening here. And what’s with the ringing – it’s still here even now that Lucas is gone, I don’t think it’s physiological though maybe I should find a free clinic. And why do I know where three complete strangers are. I may have to rouse myself to investigate. Or I may just wait and see. And watch.