Part 9: Journal of The Nameless One: Part 6Journal of The Nameless One: Part 6
Sigil, City of Doors (Cutscene)
The lurid yellow light cast over the city, though bright enough for the peak of the day, was muted and dull as an ancient knife. The heavy smell of smoke and burning oil assailed my senses. The stench was thick enough to wade through, but somehow my eyes barely watered, my lungs seemed somehow used to the filthy air.
I shouldn't have looked up.
The streets followed a steep curve upwards on either side. The city curled in on itself so that the buildings were wrapped around the sky, and I could make them out in the distance. Self-encased as it was, the stench and the fumes of the city had nowhere to go, and the dirty air was trapped, poisoning the sickly-looking populace that wandered the streets. I felt a little dizzy. It wasn't the fumes.
"Multiverse?" I mouthed as we wandered the streets, "Where are we?"
"Just be glad a Clueless berk like you has a mimir like me. Here's the chant: Sigil, the City of Doors, is the center of all planes of existence. Portals lead in, portals lead out, apparently to everywhere. Now if you wanted to- oh hey!" Morte whistled at a passing prostitute. I sighed. Perhaps a real metaphysician could help me instead.
The Mortuary was definitely less repulsive on the outside. It was a dome of stone and metal, low and menacing, walls windowless. Surely the Dustmen couldn't let any light in, even with a noontime glow as cheerless and sickly as it was. Black spiky buttresses radiated from the center in a thorny crown, and the cobbled stone all about its surface gave the Mortuary a scaly, reptilian feel.
"Well, Morte. I guess this is where we part ways."
He chuckled, "Ha! Without me, a berk like you would get himself stabbed and strung up in the Mortuary again ten times over before he knew to stay on the other end of the knife. And who'd help you then?" He was right, as much as it annoyed me.
"Are you sure you want to be traveling with me?" I asked hesitantly, "You heard what Dhall said."
"What, that old laryngitic sack of wrinkles? Come on, if he isn't totally barmy or senile he's half of both," he didn't face me; much of his attention was on the streetwalkers of the city. Still, he chirped out bits of information here and there as we walked down the street. "This here's the Hive. It's a den of scum and villany and you don't want to associate with any of 'em- oh hey, babycakes! Care to jump my bones?" The lack of lips didn't stop Morte from whistling.
At the outer gate, a figure in a ragged cloak and cowl stood hunched over, eyeing the passerby. His clothes were filthy, but somehow I knew he was neither vagrant nor pickpocket.
"We really gotta talk about your standards, chief."
The cowled figure stood hunched just outside the Mortuary gate. His face was obscured by the shadows of his hood... what little I could see was his chin, covered with stubble and what appeared to be a foul green and purple rash. The rash seemed heaviest around his neck, fading as it crawled up to his face. Given the horrors I had witnessed since I woke up, I was unfazed.
He didn't budge at my greeting. There was a moment of silence before he responded in a high-pitched voice that sounded more suited for a girl of ten years than a man. "Hai?"
"Uh… who are you?"
"Pox I am, hai."
"Uh... Pox?" An odd name, but fitting.
"Mother and father named me, wished a pox-on-first-born, a curse given, came true, it did, hai."
"Yech." Again my eyes were drawn to the purplish-green rash covering Pox's chin and neck.
"You're a collector, then? Do you know someone named Pharod?"
Pox nodded stiffly, "Hai, Pharod. Collector, big, name has weight, casts long shadow, it does, hai."
Excellent. "Do you know where I might find him?"
"Hai, in the Hive here, he is. Someswheres, hai."
"Can you be more specific?" my foot tapped impatiently. I hoped not everyone in the Hive was as addled. Meanwhile, Morte was catcalling some of the prostitutes. I hoped not all my friends were as addled, either.
"Hai, someswheres in the Hive, he is. Pharod hide, he does. Very hard finding, he is. Not worth finding, he is."
I could tell Pox wasn't going to volunteer information, "Not worth finding?' What do you mean?"
"Hai, many hates him, other Collectors, even. Sharegrave hates him, not like Pharod at all, hai."
"Sharegrave?" I blinked.
"Hai, Sharegrave big name, carry weight, casts long shadow, he does. Tell Pox what to do, he does."
"Would your boss... this Sharegrave... know where Pharod is?"
"Hai, Sharegrave knows darks, he does. Know Pharod-a-hiding, he does. Sharegrave in Ragpicker Square, many blocks west-o-here, hai. Say Sharegrave that Pox send you, tell him, Sharegrave become Sharecopper-with-Pox he will, hai."
"All right. Thank you, Pox."
"Hai. Good to see you again, hai."
I spun around, eyes wide, "Wait, you know me?"
"Hai. Pox know many time. Help sneak into Mortuary."
Considering the effort to get out, I wondered why and how I got in. "But... how?"
Pox unpeeled his arms from his robes, revealing a rusted dagger in each of his rash-splotched hands. With a blur, the blades cut two lines across my throat. There was no pain, oddly, just the quick press and slash of metal on flesh.
"Hrghl!" Shocked, I reached my hands up to feel my throat, blood gushing and trickling down my chest and hands with each beat of my heart. Oddly enough I was curious as to how it could be so painless; especially if the blades were so dull as to leave such jagged skin.
My body tumbled backwards, twitching. It became more difficult to move my limbs as they became heavier each moment. My heartbeat slowed. In the distance I could hear Morte crying out, teeth clacking, Pox squealing in terror.
As my vision faded to black the last thought on my mind was of awe: at how beautiful the sky was, a ceiling of streets, avenues, and buildings misted by gold and gray.