NPCLog #12 - The Sounds of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains
Within the sound of silence.

I remember breaking my Heart. It was amazingly difficult. I didn't want to. It didn't want me to. I stood in the grey haze and held it up to the reddish light of the sky, and peered at the cracks. They were legion.

"It's going to go by itself," Zarell said. She flapped her wings in agitation. Six thieves died for my Heart. Six of them. All because Valefor thought this was a good plan for some reason that no one could understand. "It might have been more economical to just let Andre hold on to it, and watch it poof to dust in his hands."

I shook my head. "No, because then he would have had shards."

"Ah." She squinted in the distance, looking for someone, anyone, who might be stalking us.

I looked back down at my Heart. It looked so very delicate in my hands. Four and a half centuries of service, some of it loyal, some of it not, right now. I was already a traitor, I knew that much, but this was the last true symbol, the last gesture, the last line to cross between myself and salvation. But which salvation?

I pressed my hands against the side of the Heart. It felt solid, and warm. I closed my eyes and looked away. With all my strength I twisted.


I stared down at the shards in my hands, the glittering pieces of fancy stone. The facets caught the red light, shining and glittering in my palms. I felt the sharp edges along my skin.

Zarell screamed, "Incoming!"

I turned to look...

In restless dreams I walked alone narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a street lamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night and touched the sound of silence.

My eyes fluttered open. I was lying on the damp cobblestones in some back alley. Dark shapes stood over me, milling about and making sillhuettes in the light of a street lamp. I could hear the sounds of a crowd near by, but I couldn't discern the position.

"She's coming around, man," said a voice.

I tried to sit up, but the world was spinning and my head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. I dropped my forehead into the palms of my hands and waited until the world stopped rotating in a slow counter-clockwise direction. I felt someone brush against my back, and then take my shoulders into strong hands.

"How are you feeling?" A male voice, strong, powerful. I knew that voice.

"Erlithan?" I asked, questioningly.

"Can you stand?" He held onto my shoulders, and steadied me as I stood. I moaned out loud. "Javan filled you full of some sort of drug. I hit you with something I think is the antidote, but who knows these things."

I looked over my shoulder at him, his old Impudite face, his rumpled clothing, and just said, "What? How?"

"You were jumped." He started walking around me, smoothing out my suit, checking my tie. "Can you stand? Can you speak?"

I blinked, confused. "What?" My head was just spinning around and around and around.

"I need you to talk to Them," Erlithan said, fixing my knot. "The people of Shal-Mari."


"Because," he said with some exasperation, "instead of getting on that bus like I told you to, you went ahead and became a popular cultural icon. What happened to my Mediator?"

That, I thought, was an awful good question.

They dragged me out of the alleyway and pushed me up on the statue in front of the Palace, and I swayed unsteadily on the dias while there were wires run around me. I blinked in the neon lights, and squinted, trying to clear my sight.

And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared disturb the sound of silence.

They were collecting at the foot of the statue, looking curious. Some of the bystanders even stopped to peer up at me, and settle in to wait for whatever entertainment was going to befall them. I stood and looked out over the passing crowd. The square was filled with beings, moving to and fro in their pointless, empty lives. Demons, implings and souls moving about to the tune of their own private drummer, beating endlessly in their heads.

I squinted out at the Shal-Mari thoroughfaire. A million people living lies. A million people seeing nothing but themselves and their own selfishness and their own Needs and their own Wants. Why is it that Lilim are the only ones who can really see into a soul, and know what one really needs? Is it our curse, or our boon? And why are we chained to it?

And no one here to change it. The pain was like a neverending endless tide, washing through my consciousness. It will be like this forever unless someone does something. Unless someone says something.

I swayed unsteadily.

Above, I heard the low snaps as power was activated and the transformers were filled with electricity. The spotlights kicked on, and the lights illuminated the throngs before me.

"Fools" said I,"You do not know silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you, Take my arms that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell, and echoed
In the wells of silence

" not think that I have come to abolish your laws and your way of life," I yelled out to the crowd as my head swam. "I have come only to fulfill the Needs of the people. I am telling you the truth. Only through giving up your selfless ways will you find true fulfillment within yourselves."

The crowd had gathered, and there was a muttering among them.

And I spoke to them of selfishness and selflessness and the freedom from the Princes. I told them how to leave, how to lead their own lives, how to no longer play the endless game. I told them how to give up the Rules and do what is best. I told them that they lived a lie. I offered them my hands to take, and I would reach them.

They only saw the coming of a new Demon Prince. I saw it in their eyes. They Needed a replacement for my Lord, and that they wished it would be me. They needed a leader. They needed to be inspired again to fight their War, a War I no longer believed in.

And so having nothing else, I inspired them.

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning, in the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls."
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence.

And when it was over, and Eli had redeemed me, I knew that I had spoken empty words to an empty crowd. I had followed my own words, listened to my own advice, and now I was a different being. Same as I always was, but without the pain of being penalized for doing the Right thing, the thing that Needed to be done. I held my new loved ones, and embraced my change, as I had left Hell forever to become what I had been designed to become when I was born.

I stared up at Heaven, and knew we had to face the turmoil up there head on. But maybe, in Hell, there would be a few who would read the writing on the walls, and chose to follow me. Just maybe.

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.