"There are two things one needs to remember about the Great Game," - declares Passionario, as though starting a debate at a Society salon, - "Firstly, it is not actually a game: it is a neverending war, as hellish and bloody as any other. Everyone loses the Game eventually, and most involved in it die young. Second, there is very little that is great about it. Treachery, lies, theft and murder are as common as breath and water. Even those who play minor roles and mundane tasks are cogs in the machine that produces atrocities, and are thus complicit in them."
"So what are their lives worth, these villains who are living on borrowed time anyway? ‘Nothing’ - that was the answer of Alice the Cheesemonger." He frowns. "I think she may have been slightly before your time, but you probably have heard of her. Alice wanted to end the Game in a very direct way: by killing most, if not all, of the spies involved in London operations."
He makes a sweeping motion with his hands. "Evidently, since the Game is still going strong and Alice is… no longer with us, her plans have failed. But before we get into reasons for that, let’s first look at the reasons why she embarked on that path in the first place."
"The life of the spy is a stressful one. One has to constantly worry about deception, betrayal and violence - and then there’s the enemy side. It doesn’t get easier over time, either - if anything, the burden of one’s sins only compounds the pressure. The existence in the Neath presents its own unique challenges, from threat of soullessness to unnatural nightmares to monsters that lurk in the darkness. Combine these factors, and there’s small wonder that so many London spies turn to alcohol, honey, laudanum or more exotic methods of getting a few hours’ worth of sleep. And when even those inevitably fail, you get someone like Cheesemonger."
"Eventually, the Game in the Neath developed its own immune response to this madness. The Order of St. Joshua, whose members are Canons, Midnighters, violet priests of oblivion. Well versed in subtle and cunning arts of irrigo, they perform rites that lift the burden of sin by erasing the memory of it. The confessional seal is upheld by irrigo, for the secrets divulged within the Shrine of St. Joshua are swiftly forgotten by the confessor as well."
Every trace of pain and weakness gone from Passionario’s expression, replaced with confidence and pride:
"As a Midnighter, I was considered to be one of the best in my profession. My eyeless face served as foolproof evidence of my experience and dedication to the craft. Combined with the favor of the Bazaar, it allowed me to enjoy the same privilege as our current Mayor: the ability to pick the cream of the cream as my clients. Head coordinators of Surface networks, top-level quadruple agents, even other Midnighters: all came to my shrine to receive the benediction of forgetfulness. Every night, I learned secrets that could unmake nations. Every morning, I rose with every trace of them lost to me. Infinite power flowed through my hands, yet remained forever out of my grasp…"
He smiles broadly, obviously enjoying this part:
"…Until our common acquaintance Elias Lowe gave it all back to me."
edited by Passionario on 8/22/2016