Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cthulhu Gaslight: Secrets

Last time, Dai and Cat ended up at Dai's flat after an adventure that was a bit more than they had both bargained for. Cat is asleep as soon as her head touches the pillow, so at least one of them gets any sleep that night. Dai spends the night wide awake, too high on adrenaline and worries to rest. He's a rather private man and he rarely has guests. Cat's an inquisitive young woman and he knows fully well that his flat holds the key to a great many of his secrets. But so be it. After all, he has invited her to ask about his past before.

*Secrets Revealed*


When Cat wakes up, she needs a few moments to remember where she is. She gets up and finds Dai in the living room. The awkwardness of the moment (they are Victorians, after all) is glossed over by their usual friendly banter and Dai offers to make breakfast. He had been cleaning his revolver when Cat came in and he finishes, obviously a routine for him, so much that he barely has to look at what he's doing.

Dai busies himself with cooking, so Cat has some time to make herself a bit more presentable and to take a look around the living room. A small house altar with some sort of elephant idol catches her eye, it's very clearly not just decoration. There's also a great number of books on all sorts of topics, fiction and non-fiction alike, including some that she cannot read at all and guesses to be written in Hindi.

Over the second cup of tea Cat asks Dai if he has ever been involved with someone, although she puts it much more delicately. He tells her that over the years there have been a few relationships and that the last one ended due to his life as a soldier of the occupying army. Cat misses or ignores the term occupying and still assumes a British or at least white woman until Dai mentions the Indian name Rashmi. That raises an eyebrow with Cat... it's not something people do or at least admit to. They end up discussing their different views on the Empire - Dai has come to doubt the right of the British to just march in and declare countries part of the Empire, which is a new point of view for Cat and not one she immediately understands.

From there the conversation steers towards what exactly Dai did during his 25 years of service and that's the moment when he finally shows how very nervous he is about this whole subject. Nevertheless, he values Cat's friendship and her opinion highly and he's done with hiding so much of his past. He used to be a sharpshooter with the Rifle Brigade and he was good at what he did. Cat doesn't see this as very shocking until Dai tells her the exact number of people he has killed.

Things are not made any better when she picks up on the fact that he still takes pride in his skill and that he misses it. Not the killing as such (or, as he puts it, "London would have a problem on her hands"), but the whole experience: choosing a vantage point, waiting for a good target, the thrill of taking the shot. He does not want to be a soldier any longer and he thinks that he had no right to take the life of the people he killed, but that doesn't change the way he feels.

It's all a bit much for Cat to take in. She knew already that there were secrets, but now she feels that there is a completely different person hidden behind the Dai she befriended and she's not sure if she likes that person. She needs some time to think about it all and prepares to leave when the doorbell rings.

Dai opens the door to the mail man and receives a small package, with just his name written on it. He takes it upstairs and finds a rifle cartridge with his name scratched into it. The note that comes with the cartridge tells him that one of his sins has come back to haunt him: he killed the brother of the man who is now out to kill him. Both were soldiers who went over to the enemy's side and Dai knows that the man is not only an excellent marksman, but also a fanatic.

Dai tells Cat the short version of what has happened and asks her to give him five minutes before she leaves the house. In the meantime, he takes his rifle out of its case and loads it, again clearly something he has done many times before. Cat watches with a mixture of fascination, fear and distaste, it's the first look she gets at the rifle, although she had noticed the case before (it was sitting in plain sight after all).

Dai climbs up on the roof and manages to go unnoticed by the at least three people who are watching his flat from across the street. Cat waits the five minutes and leaves, half expecting to be shot when she opens the door, but nothing happens. She does however notice a man who is watching her, even though he is very inconspicuous. Dai sees her leave and has to fight the urge to shoot the men, especially when one of them suddenly moves to leave his observation post (he's the one who is spotted by Cat).

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The talk between Dai and Cat has been long in the making and I think it has definitely changed the dynamics between the characters. The future will tell how much and in exactly what way. The evening was a lot of fun, basically just a conversation between players, the GM got to lean back and watch the show for the most part.

Yes, I did notice that the package had no address written on it. I'm going to do something about it next time, but I decided that at the moment, Dai was too distracted to pay any attention to it.

I have no idea where the whole vendetta storyline is going, but I can tell you that I had a major "oh crap"-moment when Dai read the note. If he had only himself to worry about, it would be much easier, but with Cat in the equation, things may get very ugly. I'm looking forward to it. Part2

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