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Roleplay Stories - The Secret World

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Nathaniel "Vinculus" Hawksmoor

Excerpt from an Interview with Nathaniel Hawksmoor, of London

Look, I ain't a great sharer right? You buy me a scotch and a packet of smokes and maybe we can talk. Until then I'll tell you what you need to know for your forms and records and whatnot, and that's it. We gotta work together for the greater good right? That's why i'm telling you this shit, and that's why I'll be covering your back when it hits the fan.

So what do you want to know? My childhood you say? Jesus, you're a glutton for punishment. Right, well it ain't a particularly happy tale and it ain't one that's gonna make the news either. I've lived in London all my life. My Mum brought me up in Crouch End by herself, bless her, after my Dad ran off with some a bit of skirt he met at work. I ain't seen him for years. My Mum took care of me till she caught the big C, then I took care of her until she passed away back in '02.

Of course I miss her. What kind of a question is that? Lots of people miss her, she had a lot of friends. She was a card reader, used to have all kinds of visitors to the house and tell them their fortunes, or what they wanted to hear at least. I used to think it was all baloney, a grift, but now I ain't so sure. I'm thinking now, after all that's happened that maybe she knew more than she was letting on.

Anyway, I know I disappointed her for much of her life. I never really made much of myself I guess, but I've always had a way with people and managed to get by. Odd jobs and scams to start with, though the last few years I've been doing some shamus work, putting my skills to good use for once. With my contacts and charm I don't find it too difficult getting information out of people. If all the weirdness hadn't started I reckon I could have made something of being a private investigator. The bees fucked all that up though...

I guess in this dirty trenchcoat and with the new I'm kinda like a cross between Columbo and Harry Potter. Except with more swearing and sarcasm. I'll let you decide if I'm being sarcastic.

How did I acquire my powers? Don't beat around the bush do you? Right in there with the fucking 64 million dollar question eh? You heard that old nursery rhyme? The one about the old lady who swallowed a fly? Well, it's a bit like that. Perhaps I'll die (as the rhyme says).

I don't know how long I've had my... jesus "powers" is such a fucking melodramitc word ain't it? I would say "gifts", but it don't always feel like a gift. Anyway, the fly/bee thing? I ain't so sure that's where it all started, but I reckon that's what awoke what was already there if yer catch my drift. I've always been able to read people, bit like my Mum now I come to think of it. Yeah, there was already something there before I had my bee sandwich.

I've been trying to find out what. I don't know the whole story yet... it's something to do with an ancenstor of mine, a street magician called Vinculus. Crazy name huh? Yeah, well from what little I know he were a bit crazy himself. I'm still trying to find out more. Good job the Templars have one of the best libraries in town right?

Why the Templars? Look I ain't stupid. If the end of the world is comin' I want to be on the side with the biggest fuckin' guns! I don't play well with others, not strangers at least, but there's something indefinably English about the Crosses ain't there? They have long roots in the soil of this country, and so do I. Besides, that Sonnac fellow ain't so bad for a suit. He's got more goin' on in that head of his than most, and I reckon' he's gonna do alright.

The Dragon I don't know much about. My mate Baz say's they're a bad lot though, and he knows what's what. He has a stall down at the Haitian market and he keeps his ear to the ground, so when Baz speaks I tend to listen. The Illuminati... what's not to hate? The governments of Europe and the States run our lives and tample all over the little fellas. The corporations and banks do what they like without fear of reprisal, keepin' the rest of us trodden down in the dirt. And guess who's behind the lot of 'em? That's right, the fuckin' Illuminati. No thanks.

Which brings us back to you lot. The Scarlet and Cross. Look, I'll be honest, I need you guys right now a lot more than you need me. You got the resources to help me find out about this Vinculus fella and I have a feeling I'm gonna need someone to watch my back. Eh? No, nothing like that, just a hunch, but my hunches have a worrying tendency to work out true.

What can I offer you? I know I don't play nice with others, but I tell you this. You take me in and I'll go to the bitter end with you. You need something dirty doing, you can call on me. I'll do what you ask and not ask why. Dark days are coming my friend, and it's time to take sides right? And I ain't talking about the Hammers getting relegated from the Premier League. I mean [i]really[/i] serious.

I have my contacts and I'm a pretty good private eye, plus I got my anima juices flowing now. I'm a loaded fucking gun, just point me and click.

Right, I need a drink. This is Scotland ain't it? You must have a decent single malt here somewhere...

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Nathaniel Hawksmoor Data File

General Appearance

Early forties. Dark blonde hair, grey eyes. Height: 6'. Medium Build. English. Londoner.

Demeanour

Abrasive and sarcastic. May need monitoring during teamwork. Dislikes authority. Smokes and drinks. Overconfident in his own abilities.

Skills

Private investigation, using traditonal methods (distrusts technology). Good London-based contacts. Some skill at fencing. Despite professed reticence talks readily and convincingly, with a colloquial London manner.



A Murder of Crows

Nathaniel Hawksmoor pulled the collar of his long leather trench coat up to shield him from the cold London rain. He jogged from the dry sanctuary of the cab across the street, a copy of the New Statesman held above his head in a futile effort to keep dry. When he reached the porch outside his flat he shook himself dry and pulled a half empty packet of cigarettes from one pocket along with a sodden box of matches. The matches refused to light in the damp air, despite his best efforts to shield them from the wind and rain.

"Oh, for fucks sake..." he muttered, exasperated, running one hand through his short shock of dirty blonde hair. He stared at his reflection in the glass of the front door for a moment, thinking. His reflection stared back, a sardonic smirk on its lips as though mocking him. There were dark bags under its eyes and three day's stubble on its chin. He really needed to get some sleep.

Grimacing, he sighed and closed his eyes in concentration. The unlit cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth suddenly flared and lit as if of its own accord. With his eyes still closed he sucked hard, savouring the acrid taste of the smoke.

The door opened in front of him suddenly as his landlady left the building, her six month old son strapped tightly to her chest in a baby wrap.

"Oh, hi Nat," she smiled at him. "This weather huh?"

"Yeah, this bloody weather... hi Sal."

He smiled inwardly as he saw her unconsciously shield her son from the smoke of his cigarette.

"He letting you get any sleep?" he asked her, nodding down at the stirring bundle under the wrap.

"Oh, you know... more than you're getting by the look of it," she smiled back.

She had a nice smile Hawksmoor thought. He wondered how long she'd be able to hold onto it. It can't be easy being a single parent and trying to earn a living in this city. He was glad he didn't have such responsibilities.

They stood in the porch awkwardly for a moment before Hawksmoor remembered his manners and shifted to one side to let Sally out.

"Oh, your cousin arrived early Nat," Sally said as she ran out into the rain. "I let her in to your flat for you."

"Ok, thanks Sal. Take care." he replied, frowning slightly. He didn't have any cousins. None living anyway, and it was the the stars weren't right for the dead ones to come calling.

Hawksmoor made his way up the stairs to his flat quietly, avoiding the creaky step near the top. He paused and listened, senses alert. He could hear someone humming from behind the door to his flat; it sounded like the tune to an old nursery rhyme he vaguely remembered his mother singing to him as a child. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled with the slightest sense of magic in the air.

He stepped up to the door and silently placed his ear against the wood. The humming changed into a voice, singing the rhyme with an odd lilting tone. Hawksmoor grimaced. There was something unsettling about the voice, and the words were all wrong.

"There was a young man who swallowed a bee.
I don't know why he swallowed a bee,
Perhaps we'll see..."

The voice stopped suddenly and called out loudly in a female tone.

"Oh stop standing outside your own door like a boyscout Nathaniel. Come on in."

Hawksmoor pushed the door open and looked into his flat. It wasn't a big flat, but it was all he could afford, even in this least salubrious parts of Crouch End. A short hallway with plain unadorned walls opened out into the main room. The lights were on, flickering slightly with an electric buzz, but he couldn't see anyone. Taking a long drag on his cigarette he shrugged and strode in, leaving a trail of raindrops.

He entered the room and walked straight across to the small kitchen area that was separated by a low wooden counter, pointedly ignoring the person he sensed was sitting on his worn brown leather sofa. He shrugged off the trench coat as he did so, placing it over the counter, and opened an overhead cupboard, looking for something. He still hadn't turned round to look at his uninvited guest. Instead he rummaged in the cupboard before pulling out a half drunk bottle of cheap blended whisky.

"Jesus, I need a drink," he said to himself. "Can I get you one too?"

There was a silence from the room behind him as he went to the fridge and fished out a tray of ice cubes which cracked loudly as he dropped several into a glass. He poured himself two fingers of scotch before finally turning round to face his visitor. Leaning nonchalantly against the counter he took a long swig from the drink.

Sitting on his sofa was a young woman with russet hair, he guessed in her late twenties. Green eyes glinted behind square-framed spectacles. She sat primly in a knee-length scarlet dress with her hands on her knees, staring unblinkingly at Hawksmoor. For a brief moment surprise crossed Hawksmoor's face. Who was this stunningly beautiful woman? He didn't let his shock show for more than a second however, covering it with a second large gulp of whiskey and a deep draw on his cigarette.

The woman broke the silence.

"Hello Nat. Can I call you Nat?"

"You can call me anything you want sweetheart. Don't make us pals."

They stared at each other again for a moment. Hawksmoor took one long suck on his cigarette then flicked the smoking stub across the kitchen and into the sink with practised ease. He drained the remainder of his drink.

"You can start by telling me who the hell you are and what you're doing in my fucking flat."

"Looking for you of course. We've been wanting to talk for you for some time. We were hoping to speak to you before you joined up with the Crosses."

The Crosses... The Templars...

How did she know about that?

"Well, I'm here now. Knock yourself out," Hawksmoor smiled without mirth.

The young lady shifted slightly, taking off her spectacles and cleaning them with the hem of her dress.

"Tell me Nat. Have you ever heard the name Vinculus before?"

"Never," Hawksmoor answered.

He opened his mouth and roared. A huge, powerful jet of blue flames raced across the room from his jaws, catching the woman in the chest and hurling her up and back against the wall with enough force to crack the plaster. She fell heavily and tried to stand.

Before she could recover Hawksmoor reached under the counter for something, then vaulted over it, a large sledgehammer in his hands. Runes glowed dully on its forged metal head. He swung it round with force, hitting the woman in the belly. She flew backwards across the room, hitting the window.

Glass shattered.

The woman continued to fly back with the force of the strike, falling out into the street. As she passed the threshold she came apart, her dress, limbs and torso undoing themselves and reforming into a flock of black crows with red eyes. The crows wheeled in the air, then rose and flew off over the rooftops.

Hawksmoor stood at the broken window, staring out into the rain. He sighed. He'd have to find a glazier, then ask Morwenna to come round and put some new wards up on the door to his flat.

He walked back into the kitchen and picked up the bottle of scotch.

"Didn't think that would work. That's another one I owe you Baz." he said to himself. He rotated the bottle in his hand. The label was stamped with the sigil of the Haitian Market, and the script below the stamp read "Dragon's Breath Eluent. Use With Care".

He looked back at the window, then grabbed his trench coat. He'd best head to the library. He had some research to do.

It looked like they had caught up with him at last.

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