Saturday, November 03, 2007

A tale of murder most fowl...

Since this is both National Blog Posting Month and National Novel Writing Month, I thought I'd share a story of mine. This is a scenario I wrote to resolve a plot in one of the live-action roleplaying (LARP) games I'm a member of. It might be hard to follow the plot, not knowing the context. If that's the case, let me know!

A Murder of Ravens

The night rain beat a steady rhythm on the corrugated aluminum roof, like a thousand desperate heartbeats sounding in cacophony. To the fugitive, they were a dull roar overwhelmed by his own desperate heartbeats.

He was chilled, but not from the dampness on his skin. In fact, the warm blood on his arms offset much of the climate. The source of that blood was what froze his own solid.

I didn't…it wasn't…I could never … The gears of his reason attempted to rationalize the actions of the past few hours, but could not gain purchase. He remembered one of his former patients. The man had let his friend drive after a night of hard drinking. What's a couple of beers? He's only going a couple of blocks.

That night, Mr. and Mrs. Patel missed their son's high school graduation, just like they would miss his acceptance into his grad program, his wedding, and the births of their grandchildren.

It was a night like this, too, the fugitive recalled. He quickly glanced over both shoulders as lightning lit up the path between buildings, followed by the loud crash of thunder. It sounded like judgment.


The man looked around the living room, or what was left of it. Scarlet paths cut their way through the white carpeting. Most traced a mandala in the centre of the room, where the man of the house hung suspended from the ceiling fan by his own entrails, like some grisly piƱata.

While the onlooker could still be inwardly horrified by such carnage, it troubled him that his body betrayed no physiological reactions. I'm getting used to these things, he thought, and that's frightening.

Two men walked down the stairs in a grim-faced procession. The one in the trenchcoat would have been handsome, if his features were not perpetually set in stone-faced determination. Behind him, the man in the suit was even more impassive.

"It's even worse upstairs," he told the onlooker. "You really don't want to know."

"It was definitely him, though," said the Councillor, slowly pulling a rifle from beneath the folds of his trenchcoat. "And it wasn't long ago."

Two older men joined the three from outside.

"We have a trail," said one.

The Herald stood straighter, taking some weight off his cane. "My associates have been quite forthcoming on the subject," he said in his impeccable Received Pronunciation. "They despise the Intruder and its medium even more than we do."

The first man looked around the room one more time. "Why are we wasting anymore time then?" the Sentinel demanded.


Cold and wet, the fugitive reflected on how things had gone wrong. His order often required someone to pull a trigger so others wouldn't have to. It was a form of self-sacrifice that was never to be undertaken lightly, and always for the greater good, the self be damned.

As time went on, however, he found himself pulling the trigger more and more often, and less for the greater good, and more because he liked it. He wasn't going to let an affliction slow him down, and if it meant giving over control of his body for an hour or so, what was the harm?

Why won't the blood wash off? He held his hands out to the falling rain. His companion offered no explanations.


"This way!" His companions followed the interjection between the buildings. The rain was harder now, battering the docks with its staccato beats. The five ran hard, bearing arms conventional and otherwise.


Seeking shelter in a warehouse, the fugitive tried to rest. Rain and sweat turned to vapour on his face, and only made him hotter. He tried to relax while his heart continued to pound a desperate pattern.

The Voice came to him then.


No! You got me into this!




That's not true!


I am not a murderer! I kill only for the greater good!




No, that's not how it works—


he stumbled with his thoughts. He turned to his companion, but could no longer find the solace that was once there. Its once noble and proud features seemed twisted into the feral visage of the most cowardly and savage of predators.


"You're sure he's in this building?" the Sentinel asked.

"Positive," said the Herald.

"I can confirm that as well," the Councillor agreed.

"OK, then." The Sentinel quietly stalked his way around the warehouse, stopping every few steps to inscribe a mark with his pocketknife.

The Herald and the other older man bent their heads together in discussion, before seeming to address the empty air.

The Councillor readied his rifle with a practiced hand, while the man in the suit closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

The Sentinel returned.

"It's done," he said.

The man in the suit opened his eyes. "Everyone remember the plan?" asked the Councillor. Four heads nodded their assent.

"Let's do this."




No wait, come back! I…


I will! I'll just…

The fugitive gesticulated wildly in the air and drew upon his power, power which never came.


In his mind's eye, he could see the golden lines of primal energy surround the building.

This is my cage.


The door blew off its hinges as the axe-wielding Sentinel crashed through.

"Raven, Walker of the Path of Pandemonium! The Council of the Mens Ferrum finds you guilty of Hubris and conspiring with the enemies of Ascension! Submit to their judgement!"

"You won't take me! I'll…" He called upon his power again, and again failed. The Herald stood with a look of intense concentration.

"Get them!" the fugitive beckoned his companion, only to notice the companion had problems of its own.

"You can't stop me! You don't have the…AARRGGGHH!!!" Blood trickled from his nose and eyes as spears of intense pain shot through his head. The man in the suit stared at him, sweat beading along his brow.

"I'll kill you all! You don't have the stomach for this! That's why you need me! You need…" His last sentence was clipped short by the rifle round piercing his chest.

The Councillor stalked forward, ejecting the spent casing from his weapon. "No," he said impassively. "We don't."


The fugitive knelt on the floor before the Sentinel, the Herald and the other man. The man in the suit and the Councillor stood behind him.

"You three can leave," the Councillor said. "We'll finish up here."

"Indeed," intoned the man in the suit. "Your services have been exemplary, but this is our matter now."

"No way," protested the Sentinel. "We did this together, we finish it together. It's my job."

The Councillor shook his head slightly. "No, your job is to fight the battles. Slitting the throats of whoever's left on the battlefield is our task. Now go."

"I won't."

"Witness if you like," said the man in the suit, cutting off further discussion, "but the task is ours."

Unholstering his pistol, the Councillor placed it at the back of the fugitive's neck.

"Farewell, brother," the man in the suit whispered in the fugitive's ear. "We now return you to the Diamond Wheel. May you choose a better journey next time around."

The only response was a gunshot.