The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
SERVANTS IN THE PLACE OF TRUTH
3.15 am, Tuesday 10th August 1999
Sam, perched on the roof, carefully inspects herself for further signs of demonic contamination. She is relieved to see that none are apparent, and that the claws and scales on her hands seem to be gradually returning to a more familiar appearance. She calls the remainder of the group at the mosque, telling them that she has seen Michael leaving the hotel in a taxi, and that she will meet them just outside of the mosque some time in the morning.
Then, clambering over the rooftops, she heads towards the Old City, and the house of the black magician Wafic Said.
Michael momentarily contemplates flinging himself from the moving taxi, but decides that this would probably not be good for his health. ‘OK, drive on,’ he says coolly, putting his sunglasses on and folding his arms across his chest.
It is another half hour before the taxi rolls up outside an unremarkable suburban house. The driver toots his horn, and two men emerge. Both are carrying submachineguns. Michael is motioned towards the front door: he calmly complies.
Inside, the house is cool and spacious, or at least it would be if it weren’t cluttered with Islamic Brotherhood types lounging about cleaning their guns. They stare at Michael incuriously as he is ushered through into a back room.
In the room is an ornate inlaid table, with two comfortable-looking chairs at it. In one of the chairs is Abdel Essawi. He smiles at Michael. ‘So, the lion returns to its lair, the stork to its nest. Be welcome, Michael Williamson.’
A door opens behind Essawi, and from it emerges Tanya, wearing a demure chador. She winks heavily at Michael.
Michael sits down in the vacant chair, and without asking permission lights a cigarette. His expression, behind his shades, is unreadable.
Early the next morning, at the mosque of Ibn Tulun, debate is heated. One might think that the operatives had not had several days to arrive at a consensus over the various operational issues at stake, so entrenched are their positions.
‘I think it’s a bad idea to blow up the Sphinx,’ says Jo. ‘Think of the logistics. It’s a huge amount of explosive required – even if we can get hold of it, we have to load it all into lorries and drive it over sand and through security guards at the Sphinx.’
‘And we can’t just destroy a national monument on a suspicion,’ agrees Phil.
‘It’s one of the wonders of the ancient world, it would be a crime to destroy it!’ exclaims Arabella. ‘And I’m not so sure that Essawi isn’t after releasing something from, or through, the Sphinx – so destroying it might not actually be working against his aims. Plus I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Sphinx is in fact some kind of solar-powered prison for some God-like being. The vision of Tuthmosis, telling him to unearth the Sphinx, bears out this hypothesis to a degree, especially if there is some kind of guardian inside the Sphinx – assuming the Sphinx itself isn’t in fact the guardian.’
‘And if it’s traced to a group of foreigners, then we will really be in shtuck, to put it lightly,’ puts in Donald.
George looks disappointed, but rallies bravely. ‘Well, in any case, we absolutely must visit the Khentkaus pyramid ruins this morning to contact the two spirits. We seem to have come to a dead end, and these spirits seem to offer a way forward. We must utilize all means at hand, and they may well be the only one we have – but we must do it now.’
‘We could think about joining forces with the mobsters, too, if that’s the only way of stopping the ritual,’ suggests Jo. ‘But I think we should investigate the Sphinx a bit more, taking along these artefacts we’ve got – see if any of them are any use.’
‘The guards are probably a bit roused by Jo and Arabella’s little examination of the Sphinx,’ points out John. ‘During the day means that we may draw attention to our activities while we’re trying to gain the spirits’ attention.’
Arabella, who has been thinking, suddenly says, ‘Besides, if I’m right and the Sphinx is solar-powered in some way, like that obelisk we found, then it is possible that Essawi is going to use the eclipse to drain the Sphinx so that whatever is inside can escape. I cannot see any other reason for someone who worships a sun god to hold an important ritual during an eclipse, when his deity would be at its weakest. I wish it didn’t make sense, but it does and it scares me, especially as I think it’s Aten himself that’s imprisoned down there. I also think Ra, the other Egyptian sun god, is one of the guardians preventing his escape, which would explain the legends that Ra is within the Sphinx and protects the spirits of the dead from a great evil.’
‘The spirits’ll surely be able to give us a clearer picture of what the Sphinx may or may not contain,’ says Phil, ‘and what Essawi’s plans may be. Besides, the longer we are here the longer we put the mosque and the Imam at risk from the Brotherhood, should they find out where we are.’
He glances around. ‘I suppose I was willing to make a ‘contribution’ to Said, so I can’t shirk my responsibilities here. However, I’m not sure any spirits would consider my mind open enough… In fact, I’m not sure exactly what I need to do here?’ He looks sideways at Arabella.
George smiles in relief that someone has finally taken up his idea. But Rupert, who has been sitting with his head in his hands, shivering, chimes in sourly. ‘No, let’s not try and second-guess them. We have no idea what they want. They may want brains, in which case the poor things might go for Arabella. They many want brawn, in which case they’ll go for John, or they may want a completely empty vessel to do with as they will, in which case they’ll go for Jo. You can’t get much more vacant than her, after all. No, let them decide for themselves.’
‘For the female one, though, I doubt Sam will be an acceptable host,’ says Arabella. ‘I think it’ll have to be Jo or me, much as I hate the idea…’
‘Yes, the last person who should be allowed to house one of them is the Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ says Rupert. He is sweating heavily. ‘If she volunteers, there are two possible outcomes. Either the spirits say “no way am I going into a crowded body like hers” and refuse her totally, or even worse, they do go in, and there’s a battle for control of her between the spirit and Fred the Demon.’
‘… but we’ll have to wait and see if either of us is acceptable,’ continues Arabella, talking over Rupert as he continues to mutter bitterly about Brooke Shields. ‘The spirits have knowledge we need, but I’m not about to let anyone be possessed without assurances that such a possession would be temporary. I’ve seen the results of involuntary possession, and I refuse to allow any of my friends to go through that kind of hell!’
‘How exactly are we going to get assurances from them?’ wonders Phil, still torn between scepticism and curiosity over the whole idea.
Fortunately for Arabella, she does not have to answer this, because Imam Hosseini rejoins the group, fresh from his morning prayers. She at once turns to him. ‘Sir, are there any people in the government that you believe are trustworthy and would be able to use these documents to remove Essawi from power, without causing your country problems?’
‘I am sure that President Mubarak, may the good Allah watch over him, is an utterly honourable man,’ replies the Imam firmly. ‘He will know how to dispose of such vermin as Essawi.’
Arabella glances back at her colleagues. ‘Much as I hate to say this, especially considering all Sam went through to get hold of these documents, I don’t think they’re going to help us much directly. Not in time to put a stop to all that we believe is going to happen.’
‘I agree,’ says Phil. ‘Even though it’s against all my instincts to pass up the chance of a story like this one!’ He reflects that Sam still has copies of the documents which he may be able to access later.
Arabella turns back to the Imam. ‘Then I think you should take these documents and use them as you see fit. We are foreigners in your country and do not feel about it as you do. Though if the situation were reversed, we might think the same way if you wished to embarrass a member of the British government. Our task is not to cause your country harm, we are here to stop Essawi from achieving whatever aims his mistress has in mind.’
‘I am glad you understand,’ says the Imam relievedly. ‘You may be sure that the forces of right will prevail.’
‘As for the hit on Essawi,’ says Donald quietly as the Imam moves over to deal with Rupert, ‘I can’t get hold of a sniper rifle or anything useful to do the job properly, and you know what SITU said about me taking one to Glastonbury: so killing him from a distance is out. Now I have a handgun, the only thing I can think of is running up to the guy with it and shooting him. Sometimes I go a little crazy, but I am not a moron, so that is way out of the question.’
‘Let’s leave that plan on the back burner for now, then, shall we,’ says Phil slightly relievedly. Assassinating Essawi is pretty much his limit of acceptability.
Rupert meanwhile is gently comforting van Heuvelen, kneeling by him as Imam Hosseini hovers anxiously nearby. ‘Don’t worry old fellow, I’m going through the same crap as you. Just hang on there for a bit – this nice Imam has got us some stuff, look!’
As Rupert brandishes the two vials of methadone, the Dutchman’s eyes open and blearily focus on the greenish liquid. ‘Is it… are you…?’
‘Yes, dear chap, quite safe, honestly,’ says Rupert earnestly, carefully administering the dose first to van Heuvelen and then to himself. At once his limbs unstiffen, and his breathing stills. The pounding of his heart eases. There is not the instant rush of heroin, but just the relief is pleasure enough for now.
Rupert glances around to see his colleagues preparing to head off to the pyramids. ‘We can meet Sam on the way,’ says John.
‘I think we might have to watch her,’ says Arabella worriedly. ‘I’m not sure I like what’s happening to her. The way she looked when we last saw her spooked me, I admit it and I’m not sure I want to know what caused it.’
‘Er, look, chaps, van Heuvelen may well be the key to all this stuff. I have no idea how, but he knows so much, there has to be a connection there. I say we should take him with us, now he’s in a fit state.’ The Dutchman is now sitting up and looking about him curiously, consciousness returning to his staring eyes. ‘That’s just my opinion of course, so feel free to ignore it, as I’m sure half you idiots were going to anyway.’
Donald nods. ‘You seem to have been having some success lately, Rupert – well done, I must admit I totally under-estimated you.’ As Rupert blinks, struggling to take this compliment in, Donald adds to the others, ‘I’ll meet you at the pyramids a little later, there’s something I need to sort out first. Essawi has left me a calling card, it’s about time he got one of mine.’ He glances from colleague to colleague. ‘Please don’t follow me, you won’t like what I’m about to do.’
‘Are you sure you should go off on your own like this?’ asks Arabella.
Donald gives a tight smile. ‘Don’t worry about me. Remember, I’m only here for the boy – I’ve agreed to do this spirit thing ’cos I need your help to find Mahmoud. I’m still pretty fucked up from that business at Glastonbury, so I don’t know that I’ll be much use with a spirit inside me – but I will open my mind and give it a go if it will keep me in your good books.’
Arabella looks worriedly after Donald as he strides out of the mosque. The murder of the boy has really hardened him up. What chance is there of restoring him to humanity?
She is soon distracted, though, as a newly perky Rupert sidles up to her as she and Jo leave the mosque. ‘I say you two, if what you say is true, and you are so in love, maybe you might be very grateful to me for getting you together. If you are, is there any chance that George and I could watch? All we’d bring with us is a camcorder, for future private viewing.’
George, overhearing, is aghast. ‘But… I… Oh dear,’ he blusters, and looks aghast again.
Jo merely smiles. ‘Sure. Join in if you like? The more the merrier, as they say in the army.’ Her jollity is perhaps slightly strained.
‘Why, Rupert, I have a far better idea,’ says Arabella. She grabs his neck and drags him into range for a long, passionate, French kiss. She lets this go on for a very long time, then breaks the kiss with a slight reluctance, releasing a spluttering Rupert while everyone else looks on in amazement. ‘My apology, for a lot of things, especially what I did to you. I’m really sorry for what I said and what I did and I’d like us to be friends again. I’d also really like to help you with your problems, if you want help, it has to be your choice.’
‘Er… gosh,’ replies Rupert, lost for words for once. ‘At least now you’re showing some taste for a change.’
Arabella screws up her courage. ‘Rupert, why don’t we go out sometime, on a date? Who knows, you might even get lucky, if you stay clear of the drugs for a while. I like you a lot and… and I guess I really want you to get yourself together, for yourself and for me.’ She holds her breath, then kisses Rupert again, slowly, lingeringly and with a lot of suppressed emotion. She doesn’t let go of him when the kiss is over. ‘Please, Rupert, give it a try and I swear I’ll help you, just to give us a chance to be friends… and more. I know you’ve been let down by a lot of people, but I’ll promise you this, I’ll never let you down, I’ll never desert you. All I ask is that you stop killing yourself and give yourself a chance, give us a chance. Please, Rupert!’
She releases the dumbfounded Rupert, gives him a saucy wink and saunters off with a wriggle of her hips.
Sam is waiting a little way down the road, thankfully looking quite normal once more (as normal as someone with blue hair and bare feet can ever look). She looks tired, but not as worn-down as the previous night. The group rapidly fill her in on the plan, such as it is. ‘I can help keep the guards away’ she suggests.
‘Did the guards get a look at you?’ Arabella asks Jo quietly.
‘Yes, but it’s probably different ones on during the day,’ replies Jo calmly. ‘And the pyramid of Khentkaus is a little way off from the Sphinx.’
Sam nods in relief when she learns that the Imam has agreed to take the documents to the Government. ‘I’ve risked everything, including my soul, to help stop Essawi, so if a mere woman can do that then he should certainly be able to take a risk,’ she mutters.
‘Hello, Blaize, Donald Swathe here from the Egypt party. I’m just reporting in – we’ve made contact with Essawi and will be dealing with him real soon.’
‘Excellent! I knew you could handle it,’ says Geoff Blaize’s crackly voice.
‘In the meantime, I have a question to put to you. One of our contacts is a supposed magician – you know who I am referring to. There is a lot of talk about the Beast and how the Ylids are related to ancient evil, now, to be honest I don’t understand much of this but it occurs to me that if Said really is in cohorts with the devil then he is likely to be connected to Essawi in some way. We have discussed removing Said, is this a viable option?’
‘Hmm, good question. It’s certainly possible he could be tied in with the bad guys. If you think he’s going to do the mission more harm than good, then sure, get rid of him – if you can. I imagine he’s a pretty tricky customer.’
‘He certainly is – we think one of our agents has already sold his soul to this man, and if what we think is correct then Essawi might have some control over him.’
‘What? Who would do such a crazy thing?’ Blaize sounds amazed.
‘I will not mention the agent in question as I can’t prove it… yet.’
‘Fair dos, we don’t want any tales out of school if there’s no evidence yet. But you keep a keen eye on that person, Swathe, and if at any point it looks like they’re coming under demonic control, you know what to do. Demons are a nasty business, they can do us a lot of damage if they put their minds to it. Read the debrief on the Russian mission if you want to see what I mean.’
Closing the phone, Donald continues walking to Wasim’s apartment – the waiter will be off work at this time. He knocks on the door, then annoyedly knocks harder when there is no reply. The door swings open slightly, and at once Donald’s spine tingles in warning.
He draws his gun, and carefully pushes the door wide open, ducking down. The hall is in a terrible state, with signs of a struggle, broken furniture everywhere. There is also the smell of blood.
Donald steps quickly into the hall, flattening himself against the wall, listening hard. He can just about pick up the faint sound of movement in the bedroom. Someone is waiting for him in there.
He edges quietly along the wall, glancing through the gap in the partly-opened bedroom door.
He cannot see the waiting attacker, but reflected in a mirror on the wardrobe, he can see the body of Wasim, lying sprawled on the floor, a river of blood running from its slashed neck.
Something clicks in Donald’s mind, and the part of him that in the last few years has been laid over the cold-blooded contract killer is pushed firmly down. He steps forward and kicks the bedroom door hard with the side of his foot, rolling into the room as it crashes off the man lurking behind it, coming up with his gun in both hands, pointing unwaveringly at the heart of the staggered knifeman, who is clutching his broken nose in both hands. He is dressed like a street mobster.
Donald smiles thinly. ‘I don’t know if you speak English, mate, but if not you’d better pick it up bloody quickly. I’ve got some questions I want answers to, about a kid I used to know.’
The man falls to his knees, his hands still over his face, looking imploringly up at Donald. ‘Was not me, effendi!’
Donald kicks him, hard, just over the heart, and the man collapses backwards sobbing. ‘So you know who it was, then? That’s interesting. You might have bought yourself ten more minutes of life, pal. Start talking…’
‘What say I get rid of the guards?’ suggests Sam, as the group heads down the Sharia al’Ahram towards Giza.
As no-one is keen to risk letting Sam get possessed, this suggestion is not rebutted. ‘Good luck,’ she murmurs to the others, then she slips into the crowd of tourists walking out onto the plateau. John rubs his eyes puzzledly – he has completely lost sight of her within mere instants.
By the time they reach the ruins of the small pyramid, there is no sign of any guards, nor of Sam. Rupert says ‘Now people, I suggest we stand in a circle around the ruins, and call to the spirits – internally or verbally, whichever takes your fancy.’
Somewhat self-consciously, Arabella, Jo, Phil, John, George and van Heuvelen shuffle into a circle, extending their hands towards each other, with Rupert by where the main door of the pyramid used to be.
I’m still not 100% convinced by this, thinks Jo. But everyone else seems to want to try it. I hope it chooses me, rather than Bella…
Breathe deeply and regularly, Phil tells himself, not really sure of what to do. Clear your mind of all but thoughts of Essawi and revenge – that should attract one of the spirits.
I hope I can go through with this, thinks Arabella. After all, I’ve got more experience with ghosts than most, even if the last one did take a dislike to me. She tries to will the spirits to accept her, opening herself to them. I hate the idea of Jo being controlled by some spirit, especially if it decides it doesn’t want to leave. At least I can make a deal with it to make sure it leaves when it’s finished its task… I hope.
‘Come, spirits of Haremakhet and Hetepheres!’ says Rupert, in a low voice. ‘We are here! We invite you to choose from amongst those assembled! You require a vessel to walk and talk upon this Earth. We will be that vessel! Choose which one of us is the most appropriate to exact your revenge on Nefertiti! Come, spirits, and join us!’
There is a tingling in the air, and everyone’s hair stands up slightly.
At the Hilton, Donald bumps into Michael in the foyer. His face is tight. ‘The others are down at the pyramids, summoning up some spirits – coming along? You could be useful.’
‘Are you OK, man?’ Michael asks. ‘You look… very pale. And normally I’d mean that as a compliment.’
‘I feel a lot better, actually,’ Donald nods. He lights up a cigarette. ‘Hopefully that bastard now knows I mean business. And I know where the boy is, Mahmoud I mean – this gang leader guy, Ali Ramzy, has him in a warehouse, a couple of miles north of here.’
‘Are you going out after him?’
‘Tonight. Let’s get this spirit thing out of the way first.’ Donald looks at Michael curiously. ‘That French girl, right – the blonde? Is she is who I think she is, from the old debriefings?’
‘Well, in that case, she can’t be trusted – not here of all places. You should ditch her.’
‘It’s not quite as simple as that,’ says Michael. ‘Let’s head for the pyramids – I’ll fill you in a little on the way.’
Rupert glances keenly round the circle, and is gratified to see van Heuvelen and Jo suddenly stiffen and writhe slightly, their limbs jerking. ‘Spirits, are you with us?’ he asks quietly.
In response, the two move together, clasping each other’s hands, their eyes staring widely. ‘Prepare for trouble!’ says Jo in a silky, vicious voice, nothing like her normal tones.
‘And make it double!’ adds van Heuvelen in a deep, harsh voice.
Better start looking up Egyptian exorcism rites, just in case, thinks Arabella to herself, concernedly.
‘Come on, let’s get out of here now and somewhere safe, so we can talk,’ suggests Rupert urgently. No-one seems to be questioning his direction of affairs.
‘Who is it that seeks to bid us, weak and puny degenerate descendants, with blood no thicker than milk?’ demands van Heuvelen haughtily. His eyes flash.
‘Unless we get out of this open space, and preferably to the mosque, this could be a very short-lived campaign,’ urges Rupert. ‘If Essawi’s men find us, or find out about this possession, we’ll be hunted down before we can do any damage!’
‘I will set foot in no mosque, bastion of an upstart faith,’ declares Jo. ‘Let Essawi, the witch’s pawn and slave, bring all he dare against us, he will fail before the might of Hetepheres, restored at last to mortal power! Aye, a mighty kingdom here will I craft, once the witch Khentkaus – Nefertiti, as you know her – is disposed of.’
‘Come on, please, let’s get out of here,’ says Arabella. ‘I’m sure you’re more than capable of dealing with our enemies, but we mustn’t attract attention too early.’
‘Hmph! – very well, it pleases me to humour your girlish fancies,’ says Jo. ‘Where are my palanquins, my lines of slaves strewing petals, that we may progress in a manner according my status? You can scarcely expect me to stir without them, even in this poor excuse for a body.’
‘For goodness’ sake!’ exclaims Rupert, who has been growing visibly impatient. ‘Do you want us to help you, or not? We need to know how we can stop the ritual, stop Nefertiti gaining power. And before that we need to know what the ritual is intended to achieve!’
Van Heuvelen attempts to quail Rupert with his eyebrows. ‘Enough insolence, son of a dog! If we find common cause with you, it is to your good fortune that we allow you to partake of the coming triumph with us, and you should be singing hosannahs of gratitude, or whatever rite your barbarous religion dictates. As for the ritual, ha! – the witch clearly intends to turn these envoys of the distant tribes into her votaries and servants, weak-brained fools that they are. Her priest Essawi, and her cultists, will chant down a trance on them, or some such, I expect.’
‘Why is she doing this during the eclipse, when her sun power should be at its weakest?’ asks Arabella.
Van Heuvelen looks on her with slightly more favour than he has so far bestowed. ‘A good question. My assumption is that she has enough power stored to be able to conduct the ritual even at the time of the sun’s dark. Perhaps she is hoping that we, or her many other enemies, will not suspect her of attempting such a thing at this time.’
‘What about the Sphinx, where does that come into it?’ asks George.
‘The great lion-man is the repository of her secret power, concealed deep within it,’ replies Jo silkily. George feels a strange turmoil in his loins at her voice’s caressing sound. ‘What that power is, I do not know, so well hidden is it. But it is there. If the power can be destroyed, she will be much weakened, and the ritual may fail.’
‘Does that mean we should blow up the Sphinx after all?’ asks George eagerly.
‘Maybe, maybe not. That depends on whether it would destroy her power along with it, or prevent us from reaching it to destroy it by other means. It is a risk.’
‘So, the gang’s all here, then?’ comes Michael’s voice. He and Donald are walking towards the group.
Donald glances around. ‘No Sam? Good. Listen, SITU have given us permission to do away with Wafic. I will need some help, but I would dearly like to be the one to put the bullet in that madman’s skull. Anyone interested? And the other thing, I’ve got a lead on Mahmoud. Who’s going to help me find him?’
‘Who are these new worms?’ demands van Heuvelen. ‘More puny assailants for the witch?’
‘I guess that means the summoning worked, huh?’ says Michael. His expression is unreadable behind his shades. ‘Right, well, I guess this is the time then.’
He takes a deep breath, reaches into his coat and, before anyone can react, he draws an automatic, sights along it, and fires. The flat crack is followed immediately by a shriek of pain from Arabella, who drops to the ground, blood welling from her mouth.
In the stunned silence, Michael quickly takes a step to one side to stay out of reach, his face twisted. He moves the gun around to cover the group. ‘None of you move – not one inch. Or you’ll get the same.’
10.30 am, Tuesday 10th August 1999
Sam – ?
Everyone else – at the pyramid of Khentkaus
Arabella – SITU tells you that Rupert is the younger son of Viscount de Montfort, but that he has been cut off by his family and is no longer recognized by them. His friends were mostly London smart-set druggie types, but since he has lost his allowance he has sunk lower and lower until now his only real contacts are the scuzziest of junkies.
Sam – you meet with Wafic, who is most interested in your account. It shows great power in Essawi that he could attack you with such a guardian beast. He tells you that your own soul is still perfectly OK (barring the demonic contact), but that the one in the bangle has been strengthened by the blood you fed it. It was the soul in the bangle which destroyed Essawi’s hawk guardian; clearly it wants to keep you alive. He does not think that your powers have changed in any way: if the bangle soul really does like you, this is clearly a good thing, although you might want to be wary of feeding it more blood, in case it gets strong enough to free itself: that might be rather unpredictable. He is happy for you to spend the night, and cooks a rather nice breakfast of spicy blood pudding.
At the end of this turn you are invisible, just off to one side of where the group are, about ten yards away from them.
Michael – you talk to Essawi and believe that you have convinced him that your loyalty is no longer with SITU. He tells you to prove yourself by killing Arabella – he isn’t bothered about the others, she is the only one who has the understanding of Egyptian magic to seriously threaten his schemes. After doing so you should make your getaway – a police car with two of his agents in it will appear on the scene shortly after the sound of gunfire.
On the way to the pyramids you tell Donald that you are being watched by agents of Essawi, who believes that he has turned you – and that Donald shouldn’t shoot you even if it looks as though you are attacking another member of the party, as it will be a pretence for the benefit of these onlookers.
You mindstrike Arabella and render her unconscious – the bullet missed comfortably.
Donald – the knifeman gives you details of where Mahmoud is being held, in one of the storage warehouses of the crimelord Ali Ramzy. It is guarded by several armed men. After you have gained what you need from him, you kill him, leaving his body in the same state that the street kid’s was, as a message.
On the way to the pyramids, Michael tells you that he is being watched by agents of Essawi, who believes that he has turned him to Nefertiti’s side. You should not shoot Michael even if it looks as though he is attacking another member of the party, as it will be a pretence for these onlookers.
OOC note to Jo – while you are possessed you have no control over your own actions, and you have no way yourself of throwing off the possession. Write your next turn based on what you’d like to do when you get free of the possession, assuming your colleagues find some way of bringing this about.
OOC note to Arabella – you are not dead, just unconscious, your mind overwhelmed with a brutal mental assault of waves upon waves of dark death energy. Write your next turn on the assumption that you’ll come round in half an hour or so, with a blinding headache.