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What’s the worst possible outcome now? If the tobacconist meets a dustmen entourage that has already pieced together something like the true story and has with them his full description from the man at the committal wall, then the only new useful information they’ll gain is that he is now dressed in a dark vest and boots. The rest, the part about Clerk’s Ward and the claims of great sorcery and power, should all be to his benefit and tend against continued pursuit. And they walked what, ten minutes from the tobacco shop? So he has at least twenty minutes to work here.

The greater danger is that the enemy is still watching this place. But having already come here, he should proceed with as thorough an investigation as he can.

How does this fit in his five scenarios?

Actually, first. He should move his hands about every possible item and bit of trash in this alley. Any one of them might be the locked journal. Certainly if he were himself now fleeing a threatening adversary, with any hope of recovering his memories tied to his future self’s finding a hidden journal, he would have summoned the utmost of his wits to find a way to safely dump the thing nearby.


Hmm. He notices his mind is racing. Or is it something about this odor? Also he should knock on these doors and maybe check with that gang of children they passed. Any possible witnesses, even if they only heard and did not see, could help add to the story. And he should search for tripwires or snares to test for Option b.


He’ll first go back to the doors on either side of the lane. 

He knocks on each in turn, and then, if he hears nothing for a minute, he’ll knock a second time, much more loudly.


Nobody answers him.

There might have been some movement behind the third door, but he isn’t certain.


He'll try again before he leaves this place.

He moves back to the last turn of the lane. He proceeds carefully towards the splattered wall, bent over and combing the ground along the way, and he picks up every stone or piece of rubbish he sees. What does he find?


Spread throughout the lane are several bits of glass, most of which are smaller than the first knuckle of this thumb.  There are scattered remains of some sort of shellfish or seafood.  He finds a copper common smeared in excrement.  He finds a child’s shoe with the toe missing, and a crumpled up piece of a broadside.  There are only a few legible words on it, but it appears to be a proclamation or writ concerning something in Sigil, evidently exposed to the mist and light rain of the city for several weeks.

He also passes some stains that are probably blood.  Then, of course, there’s the pile of gore in the corner.


He will remove his vest and spread it in his arms like a basket. Into it goes everything equal or greater than a copper common in size, the soiled coin included. He carries the bundle back to the water pump at the compound’s entrance. He washes everything and then passes his hands over each piece individually, looking for small moving parts.

What are the results?


No unusual moving parts discovered.


The problem with attempting to locate a wizard’s journal in Sigil is that literally any object could be either a gate key to a secret vault or an enchanted puzzle box. He knows there are spell forms to detect such things, but he does not possess the anchoring scroll or spellbook needed to instantiate them.

And that’s not even the worst of it. Sometimes the keys have a particular gesture, too, or they must be prepared in some way, and only when all the conditions are met and the traveler is within a few paces of the portal’s anchor will it materialize. It could be that the child’s shoe would open a door to a cache full of gold, if only brought to the base of Sigil’s Siege Tower. It could be that the excrement on the coin is part of the requisite ritual of gate opening.


His mind helpfully conjures an image of a gray-skinned man racing down a corridor, frantically stripping his armor and clothes, squatting over a coin held in his open palm, and coaxing out a shit in hopes of triggering the wall behind him to open into a gate portal, all while a blackened acid drake makes its cramped advance down the alley towards him.


Thank you, mind.

So, there are a few possibilities.

  1. He was killed while wearing his full getup and then stripped immediately by his adversary, leaving him to be found in the loincloth later by the street boy
  2. He was killed and then stripped by a third party shortly afterwards, early enough after the murder that the blood was still wet
  3. He was killed while traveling about The Hive wearing nothing but his loincloth

The first possibility is the baseline, because if he himself were attacking an immortal wizard, he would obviously wish to take all their valuables. What stands contrary to this interpretation is that he was not imprisoned, which should have been just as natural an action as looting the body. If it turns out that he was, in fact, stripped immediately by his attacker, then that supports Option c, the one where his being brought to the mortuary to meet Morte was intended, rather than Option a, the one where his adversary’s motives are so alien that they simply do not care to inhibit the defeated amnesiac’s future movements. For if it is an illegible monster which only knows to hunt and slay him, why would it strip him of his valuables and some of his garments, but leave him in a loincloth?

The second possibility is very unparsimonious. It requires not only for his adversary to have chosen NOT to strip him, but also for either the boy or the tobacconist to have stripped him. The tobacconist already provided the argument for why the boy would have been unlikely to have done it, and his own perception was that the tobacconist was not lying when he said he recovered no property from the corpse.

The third possibility is one he already considered during his interrogation of the tobacconist but felt himself flinching away from, and as he looks at it again he sees that it threatens not only his pride, but his very equanimity and poise in relation to the world around him. Because if this scenario is true, then it means he is actually a tramp, a mere bedlam beggar, and because within his own internal mental monologue he continues to perceive himself to be well spoken and resourceful, then that must mean that his grip on reality is profoundly compromised. 

What would that even entail?


In answer to that question, his mind furnishes a flash of different images and concepts. Reviewing them over the next few seconds, he elevates each to an explicit thought and attaches a few words:

  • You were an immortal wizard, yet you lacked allies to find and enlighten you after you suffered temporary death and amnesia
  • You periodically experience verbal commands or statements within your own mind that appear to come from one or more external personalities
  • You saw and spoke with a ghostly woman whom your companion could not see
  • You sought to cast a magic spell in a street fight but nothing happened

Are his own senses that warped?

He looks down at the pile of trash before him. Then he withdraws the coin purse and pulls out another one of the silver coins.

No. He is not a penurious madman. In less than one day’s time, he has secured for himself a gold ring - that’s what, a quarter ounce of gold - and six or so ounces of silver. Even if he just made a habit of wandering about darkened alleyways and won such a prize off of local bloods once per week, that alone would be enough to secure him a modest townhome and a well tailored black suit, given time.


Then an idea comes to him. Call it Option a.2

What if this is not the first time, nor even the tenth time, that he has been slain as a beggar in an alley? What if his current state of disequilibrium is precisely what his adversary desires? What if that adversary has implanted a powerful enchanted device within his bowels that constantly signals his location, and what if every week or so when his adversary has a spare moment, they send a powerful minion after him to slaughter him and cast the amnesia spell, leaving him to awaken, confused, in a pile of his own gore?

Unfortunately, if that’s true, it doesn’t actually change the actions available to him. It would just be further proof that the enemy is strong. Well, no. If the enemy vanquished him the first time when he was at the height of his power, all subsequent vanquishings are less impressive. Rather, it would be further proof that the malice borne him is of a very long-lived sort, more like a calculating punishment than a blinding rage.

But, it does potentially resolve one point of confusion. Option a.2 says that the reason he has multiple fragmentary personas within himself is because each repeated re-birthing cycle leaves some impurities behind it. The amnesia is not total. And it would also explain the tattoo's reference to the journal, his "fingers remembering how to open it".


He feels a sense of satisfaction that some disparate pieces of the mystery are beginning to interlock snugly with one another.

Push further. Option a.2. What else does it imply?


The more cycles that he has gone through, the more marks upon the world he should have made about him, whether in sheriff’s records, hidden caches of goods, repeated purchases of wizard’s materials and reagents, or bank accounts and lines of credit. He has memories of Sigil, therefore he should have records in Sigil.

Also, the more times that he has reincarnated as an amnesiac, the greater the likelihood that he has found workable methods to progressively gain power and advance his interests, despite the circumstances. The tattoo may be just the most obvious example of this. He should look for others.

In fact, the tattoo’s main three axioms - find the journal, find Pharod, sleep in no place more than one night - are likely to have each been obeyed many times. When he finds Pharod, presumably they will repeat a conversation they have already had.

And if there are any resources that must be expended each cycle by his adversary either to 1) locate him, or 2) wipe his memory after slaying him; or his own resources expended to 3) cause the revitalization process to take hold, then any number of those resources might be finite, and could possibly be approaching exhaustion, even now.

His body is, at least superficially, scarred and disfigured. It is decidedly not a maiden’s unblemished pearly skin. What if the reincarnation is just mildly imperfect, and is perhaps restoring only nine hundred ninety-eight parts per thousand in each iteration?


Oh. Now he sees it.

Why is it that he first linked the amnesia with an action of the enemy, rather than his own action? Because amnesia is one strategy for dealing with an immortal opponent. 

But if the amnesia is the best that the reincarnation can do when it restores his mind, given the delicate nature of the brain tissues where a man's memories are stored, then that entirely changes the constraints on the nature of his enemy.

Another burst of mental satisfaction. He feels himself gather speed in a downhill run.


Then the enemy does not require cleverness or the capacity to use the Art. If it lacks intelligence and initiative, but is nevertheless incredibly mobile, powerful, and either indestructible or many in number, then if it can hunt him doggedly enough, it may be expected eventually to succeed. 

And then what does it do? It splatters him against a wall, leaves behind this strange smell and residue, and then it departs? Why? Because it cannot detect his presence anymore?

And it does not wait about him for his body to restore itself, even though it has hunted him many times and has seen for itself the proof of his immortality because… it is stupid and bestial? Or because it loves the chase? And the “fate worse than death” mentioned in his tattoo must refer to this: To be endlessly tracked and torn apart by some sort of ethereal, planeswalking bloodhound.

And that means the origin of his troubles is that he was a powerful and prideful wizard who developed an immortality spell and who then used his newfound freedom to take greater and greater risks, and eventually antagonized something eldritch from beyond the spheres which haunts him to this day.


And the reason he has those precisely placed gaps in his memories, the many little holes like in a cheese, leaving him to remember many places and actions with confidence but to not remember one single name of another person is…

The reason for that is…


And the cascade of this thought slams into a wall.

Hell. He thought he had it.

He clenches his fists in anger. He draws in a great breath as if to unleash a bellow.

Then he pauses, and catches himself.


No. He doesn’t have the solution yet. And he should wait till he’s in a safer place before he thinks farther on it.


Then he will gather the bits of washed rubbish back into the bundle of his vest. He returns to the stained wall and places the makeshift sack on the ground just outside of his marked semicircle. He looks for a portion of gore that seems to have the highest concentration of the foreign, black material, and he uses his axe to excise a clump of it about the size of a crab apple.

He holds it up before his face and inhales deeply. Apart from the instinctive flinch from the odor, what else does he detect within it?


The most succinct description of the experience would be: wrong and complicated.

The substance seems to be off-gassing. The odor has an immediate sharpness that is both concerning and alluring, like distilled spirits or alchemical solvents.  It makes his sinuses tingle, and it comes with a kick, creating a moment of heightened wakefulness.

But the scent is more complex than any single compound should be. After the initial sharpness comes a much larger and varied hit to the palate. Through resemblance but not direct equality, it calls to mind petrichor, nitre, chocolate, and bat guano.  At the very back of the sensation is something that makes him think of burnt, gummy plant material in a jungle swamp.



That is definitely not something that his primary personality remembers. However, the scent is so peculiar that it may prove a valuable lead, if he can only find a sufficiently skilled chemist to identify it.

He uses the crumpled broadside to wrap up the thing as best as he can, and he stows it in his coin purse.

Then he returns to the mass in the corner. He is going to thoroughly rake through the material with the blade of his axe, breaking it into small pieces. He is looking for any small bits of jewelry, gemstones, or metals, and he is going to be thorough enough as to not miss even a single gold tooth.

What does he find?


He finds no precious metals nor jewels.  Sifting through the material reveals it to be a mix of blood, the strange black coagulant, and brain matter.  There are several pieces of small plate-like bones that suggest skull fragments.  He finds a two-inch piece of jaw bone with the teeth still attached.  If he holds it in his hand and raises it to his own jawline, he will be able to confirm that it is indeed the size of his own.

He does not find any coils of guts, nor fragments of the other large organs of the torso.

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