|Favorite Civic:||Caste System|
|Favorite Wonder:||The Great Library|
It was cold and foggy, the kind of thick, solid fog that can only be sustained in the man-made canyons of a city. Everything more than an arm's length from the two walking figures started to disappear in the murk, so she had to stay fairly close in order to keep them in sight. Here and there, the soft glow of torches and lamps changed the color of the woolly vapor. She avoided them as much as she could. Casting shadows was not a good idea in her line of business.
When she saw him in daylight, Sandalphon remained perfectly visible, as solid as the next man but with an unnaturally pale complexion, and dull eyes. It was as if the light never glinted off his pupils. In this foggy twilight, however, Sandalphon seemed to... blend. He seemed to glide in and out of it, or become one with it, vaguely luminescent. He did not appear to be entirely solid. At any rate, it was impossible to say exactly where the fog stopped and Sandalphon began, even though it was not hard to actually distinguish him from his vapourous surroundings. The whole man was like an optical illusion. It was a rather disturbing effect.
Unexpectedly, his voice, drifting back through the mist, was strong and commanding, not at all the vapourous whisper or distant hiss you would expect from his shadowy appearance. He was discussing the merits of being a shade with his travelling companion.
Immortals must necessarily become creatures of habit in the end, she reflected. It was their weakness. Years of repetition set their lives in patterns, comfortable and predictable. SandalphonÂ’s most exploitable habit was these walks, giving those who are considering undergoing the ritual a taste of the life of a shade.
"I never really missed love," Sandalphon mused, as they ambled along between the taverns and shops. "Love, hate, anger, greed and jealousy are just a few of the confusing, unnecessary emotions bound up in your soul. You soon realise that you are better off without them."
"Was there nothing you missed? Nothing you felt you were giving up when you abandoned your soul?" As the acolyte asked the question, they turned a corner. Cursing, she swept after them.
"Oh, of course there were things I missed. It took years before I got over the loss of pleasure over food, and smells, and music. All those things appeal to the base instincts. But in the end, they paled in comparison to the prospect of getting drunk on knowledge, of gorging yourself on all the wisdom of the world, which you have endless time to explore."
They kept walking, the acolyte asking questions, Sandalphon answering with calm certainty, their route twisting in and out of the city streets, never presenting a good opportunity for her to make her move. Silently, she kept pace with them, praying that soon she would have her chance. "But surely some shades get tired of their never-ending existence? If I am to join you, am I doomed to forever walk the earth, with no escape in sight?" the acolyte asked, as they turned the corner into a short road that ended in the mouth of a long tunnel.
She could not follow them in there without making too much noise. It was now or never. She pounced.
Sandalphon considered the question: "Suicide is always an option," he announced at the same time as he straightened up, as if sensing a change in the texture of the fog. "It's not that we cannot die, for example, a violent death", he continued, making an elegant step to the left, and thrusting out his hand, grabbing the assassin's knife-arm. "We can." He wrenched the unfortunate assassin toward him, and for a split second he became very solid indeed, as if suddenly stepping out of the shadows and into a floodlight, as he snapped her head back and thrust her spine forward in one fluid movement that produced a sickening crack. "It's just that we are very, very hard to kill," he said, and let the assassin's limp body slide to the ground.