Ghost Story - Look But Don't Touch



So, you made it back, kid? Good thing you tracked me down, things in the lands of the Quick are hotting up. But then, when aren't they? Good thing you got out of Boston, at least. There's bad things happening there, out of your sight and mine. How'd you manage it? Bribe a Harbinger? Hook up with a Circle that got you out? Hell, it don't really matter. What matters is that you found me.

Chicago, Chicago. My home town, though I bet you guessed that right away. Bright kid. You might just make something of yourself yet. But even here things aren't good. Something big's happened in the lands of the Quick, I dunno what and I ain't sure I want to. What do you mean, 'The Quick'? Don't tell me you don't remember... Okay, I hope you're taking notes. I might just fox you with a quiz this time. Learn fast, kid, or you're just another brick in the wall. And yes, I mean that.

The Skinlands, that's what we call them. The place only those with skin can do anything. Don't believe me? Damn skeptic. Look at it this way... A car's got it's parking brake off, near the top of a hill. Some guy's being chased by the cops, smacks into the back of it without looking. That car's going to roll right down the hill. Or, I go back to my office and grab a bottle of whiskey, like I used to. If I had skin, I could lift that bottle, feel the whiskey slipping down my throat...

Sorry. Him Upstairs giving me reason to drift off. But either way, that'd only happen if I had skin. Without it, like we are, it's strictly look but don't touch. We can see, but not affect. If you ran into the car... The car I mentioned? If you ran into the back of that, you'd just go real ghostly and pass right through it. The car wouldn't notice a thing. I can't lift a bottle any more, let alone my old .45, like I used to. Bane of our death.

Hellfire, kid. Cheer up. You want to embarrass yourself here? Just because you can't do anything? I guess it's time you learned something, then. You might already have noticed, you can see the living. Gives you an idea of how to get out of the way. Have you seen how strong your senses are, now? How you can feel how rough a window is, hear onea' them television things or a wireless all through a building if you try? An' look at a car on the other end of a long street and read it's license plate right off? That's one of the benefits that set off the bad sides.

Another's the LifeSight. You can hear the capitals, yeah? Some of the deeper thinkers in my Legion say it's because we're attuned to the energies of life and death, or some such crap. I dunno. I think it's something to do with the enhanced vision, myself. It's a double-edged sword. We can see the life energy in things, if we squint. Hell, even see a swarm of color orbiting a person's head. Get as good at it as most people, and you'll be able to tell their mood. Not quite mind reading, but useful in it's own way. Try it out, it'll give you an insight into anything alive. Hell, try it on a tree. At least they ain't moving about.

Yeah, it's a two-edged sword. Think about it too much, and it'll gnaw at you. You can do this on anything alive, that seems like a kick, right? Try seeing your lover filled with sorrow and remorse at the fact you've gone, and you stood there watching, knowing deep down inside that there's nothing at all you can do. Or worse, seeing her with another man and the love for him boiling within her, all thoughts of you forgotten. That getting you down yet? It damn well should be.

Yeah, maybe someone else you met told you it ain't all like that, sometimes you can reach out through the Shroud, that damnable curtain. I'll tell you about that later. I got more things to say, first. DeathSight. Capital letters and all stuff like that again. This one's a downer with a bit of an upside: You can see when people are going to die. That's all that the guy teaching me told me that it was, but that's not the half of it. You can see Oblivion's hand in the Skinlands. If a building's going to crumble, you can see it. If a man's going to die soon, you can see it. now, you remember all of that about the LifeSight? They're both on together, and turning them off ain't an option. So go back to your lover... she's there, with her new man, all dolled up on account of heading to a speakeasy. You can see that she's going to bite it and soon, so you look around. And then you see the cars, and you get it. She's going to get slammed by a car. She doesn't realize. Now what is this woman was one of your Fetters? Even though she loves another guy, it doesn't matter to you because you still love her and that's all that matters.

You can see the treacherous bitch is going to bite it, you can see how, and you can see she's got no clue. Perfect time to sit back and enjoy.

What? What're you looking so shocked for? Aww, fuck. You sit there and cry it all out, you just calm down, okay? Take your time. And as soon as we're done here, I'm hauling off to see a Pardoner. Been too long this time. The band's heckling too much.

Feeling better? Good. Just be glad I'm one of the nice guys, most would have beaten you to hell just for being so soft. Just be glad you still got your feelings. I envy you for them. But the Deathsight's useful, sometimes. I know, after that outburst you don't believe me. Look at it this way. I had my old forty five, damn, people these days will be thinking it's a damn antique. But I knew that leaving it where it was was dangerous. Weren't till the DeathSight saw Oblivion's grubby mitt's all around it that I got it moved.

How? That comes later. First off, I gotta tell you about the others. Yeah, others. They're out there. I'll tell you what I mean. There are others out there, other supernaturals. What, you thought we were the only kind? Don't see why you wouldn't. Easiest to see are the vampires. Walking corpses, hungry for blood, don't like sunlight. Yeah, you don't believe me now but when one thinks a Quick that you've taken a fancy to is needed to it's plans, you won't be laughing then. Other than that, watch out for the whacked ones that seem to think they're some kind of wizards. Some of them hold power over us, and a bad power. So, unless you want to spend the rest of your death trapped in a box, learn to recognize them. They are severely bad news, and if I could I'd set the whole set of Legions on them. Of course, breaking through is against the rules, but they've screwed one too many of us around.

Then, there's werewolves. Yeah, just like in the horror movies, furry killing machines. There's a lot of stories going on and on about how they're supposedly fighting some kind of worm and how they all need to save the planet and get really spiritual about it. That's two things, jack and shit. Only time you're likely to see one is at some kind of massacre with them in the center, doing the killing. Saving the world, my ass. They're just out to kill as much as they can. Some of them can breach the Shroud and come on down into the Shadowlands. Take no chances, kid. Get yourself to a Legion barracks as fast as you can damn well travel and sic them on it. They go on about umbra's and spirits and how we're just living part of the cycle, from what I heard. Just a load of horseshit to justify all their killing. Monsters, every last one.

The ones that really freak me out are the ones that think they control the world. They think they're some kind of magicians, but don't bet on seeing a top hat and wand, doves from handkerchieves or anything like that. Most don't bother us, 'cept when they start fighting. Then thing's start getting really freaky. Anything goes, kid, and with that kind of power flying around, people die. Sometimes a few, more often a lot. All claim they're doing it to save the world. Seeing a pattern with the nutcase murderers yet? But some can see us, the ones into death and rebirth and all that, and they are the freaky ones. Some walk down here, some even ask nicely for our aid. If they bother asking in the first place, of course. If they do, and they ask you, you might make an ally. Then again, you might end up fed to Spectres, and you can guess which is more likely. Lucky they're as rare as the rest of them. They raise a siren's song to your LifeSight, all that power that's inside them makes them shine a mile off.

Most of these magician types are locked into some kind of war with a big conspiracy. I ain't seen much of these guys, but from what I hear they're just as bad. No magic, but they shine just the same. Beats the hell out of me why. This lot, they've got a nice line going when it comes to technology. Everything that the Century promised and a lot more. Laser guns, radios in watches, hell some of them even have bits put inside them. Some of the newer sort that I know call them cyborgs, but they're just plain weird. You won't see much of them, and be glad for that right now. The few that can be bothered to look for us come up with a lot of long words as to what we are, and come out with some damn weird guns come to hunt us down. 'Ghostbusters'? What's that? Yeah, a bit like that, I guess. But they think they're cleaning up the planet by getting rid of us. Dangerous as all out.

Some people I know say they've seen kids pretending to be things that they ain't, but that's just bluster on their part. Claim to have talked with kids that have seen them, called them fairies or some such. Some people will say anything for attention. Just kids playing make believe, maybe one or two have the Sight but it's not anything to write home about. Sure as hell not.

The Sight, that's what I said. Some of the Quick can see us. Not like the others, they're not anything out of a bad horror flick or anything like that. They're just normal people that can see us. Most times, one of us will latch on to a new one pretty quick, use them to press their own angle. Talk with them, tell them what needs to be done. And yeah, they listen. Listen good as well, as I figure that they know that if they do nothing about it then their own little protector is going to go away and let anyone near them scream into their minds. They're useful people to know, they can get things done. Like a Fetter moved to a safer place, or a message sent to a loved one. Then again, they could spill the beans to others, weird ones that like them can see here but also walk here. Like anything good down here, it's a double edged sword. The bad's just got one blade, and it's pointed right at you.

Only thing is, talking to them's against the rules. Charon, the big bad grandaddy of all ghosts, the one that set up the whole damn Hierarchy, passed down a Law that was meant to stop the Quick upping and running in fear from us, or destroying our fetters. It's a simple law: Don't cross the Shroud. Sure, he dressed it up in fancy words, but that's what it means when you get down to it. Why? Lord, boy, you got to learn to think deep. Look at it this way. The Quick find out about what happens when you die. You think one of them would want this? This miserable excuse for a half-existence that makes you wonder why you bothered living in the first place if this is all that you get forever? They'd set up people to make sure that all known Ghosts got their Fetters trashed. Yes, that's a bad thing. No Fetters means you ain't coming back to the Shadowlands, as in ever. Feel like being condemned to the Tempest for the rest of your existence? Just hope that Oblivion takes you away, or you'd be just another Spectre. They'd make sure no more of us made it through. They'd make us beg to end the second chance that we had. And you want that?

I didn't think so.

Of course, sometimes the temptation's too much. Sometimes you need to touch things, to see things happen on the other side to get a Passion hit or to make sure a Fetter don't get trashed. Course, them that's ruling in Charon's wake seem to think his word is Law Absolute. Bunch of them can't come here anymore, someone trashed their Fetters. So they think we should have no truck with the Skinlands, just because they can't. Or sometimes, that's how it seems.

Some of the Dead flaunt that openly. They're the ones that get hauled to the Forges most often. The best ones, the ones that claim they're part of the Guilds, they do it in secret. Guilds, they're for another time. Secret societies, you could say. Outlawed, every last one. They grouped together by Arcanoi, and that's how they touch the Skinlands. No, I can't reach through. Not in the slightest way. My talents don't run that way.

Good, kid, you're asking questions. How to affect the Skinlands. Just hush up when you ask such things, a Legionnaire like me ain't supposed to know such stuff. Yeah, I'm a Legionnaire, though I'll tell you about that later as well. Inhabit lets you ride in machines, from what I know. It's only affecting machines, which is less of a violation in my eyes. Phantasm's subtle, it lets you work with the sleeping so unless you're caught in the act there's no proof. Puppetry lets you ride in and even control one of the Quick, and that's just too much. Embodying's even more flagrant, getting a body of your own to be alive in, if only for a short while. Outrage doesn't let you do anything in fine detail, but if you need to trash something, like an enemy's Fetter, it has it's uses. Pandemonium's just good for scaring people, and why you'd want to do that is beyond me. I catch you being so damn obvious I'll clap you in chains myself. Flux... Flux is a set of tricks that can help or hinder your Fetters, in a way kinda similar to Inhabit. Best to leave that one alone.

But for now, kid, I've said all I can. I need to get back inside. You go calm down a bit, I've laid a lot of knowledge into you this time around. You'd better remember it all, as if I see you slicing the Shroud willy nilly I ain't going to be pleased at all. You get going, I need to see a Pardoner. I'll tell you why another time.