Monday, May 11, 2009

Danger in Londinium (continued)

The profane chapel

Strong hands grasped me from behind, took my pistol, and shoved me in a chamber that began to fill with water. I struggled against the chains that bound me, but was held fast. The water level continued to rise until it was past my chest, then my neck, and then I was drowning, my head thrashing as I fought to escape. At last the water drained, the chamber opened, and a hooded figure spoke. “Now you will tell us why you came to Londinium.”

I protested that I had no ulterior motive in visiting. My hooded captor did not believe me, and interrogated me further. I feared that he would send me into the water chamber again. Instead, he forced me into another small room, bound my hands, lowered a hook, and left me dangling like a piece of meat. My companion on the next hook had clearly fared even worse than I, and the smell of decomposing flesh turned my stomach. “We have those who know how to deal with someone like you,” the hooded figure said. “In the end, you will tell us what we want to know, and they will enjoy the process. Think about that.”

He left. I considered my predicament, hanging there in the flickering torchlight. As I strained against the ropes that bound my hands, I realized my captor had left some slack in the restraints. Carefully – and ever so slowly! – I maneuvered my hands to increase the slack, and eventually managed to release both hands. I still dangled several feet off the ground. Footsteps echoed distantly in the passageway, and I realized I was running out of time. I swung my body like a pendulum, in an ever-increasing arc, and eventually touched the wall of the chamber. The footsteps became louder. Using the wall as support, I kicked down with all the force my legs could muster, which raised me high enough to clear the hook, and I fell onto the stone floor.

Picking myself up as quickly as possible, I dashed down the passageway in the opposite direction of my approaching captors. They would soon find me gone and raise the alarm. I picked a tunnel at random, and here my luck improved: at the end of the corridor stood a stone stairway. I rushed there, only to find that the stairway ended in a stone ceiling. From behind me, I heard raised voices; they must have discovered my escape. Recalling the mechanism that slid the lectern to reveal the staircase downward, I felt along the side of the wall until I discovered a switch that triggered the release of the stone overhead. I raced up the stairs as quickly as my still-sodden garments would allow me and into a large building – the Theater of Light and Sound.

Renaissance waterboarding

I await my fate

My pursuers were close behind, so I left the building, scaled a small fence, and ran down a street of derelict houses and shops, made black from years of accumulated soot. No doubt the inhabitants understood that I was running from those in charge, but they ignored me – whether because they did not want to get involved or because they instinctively found themselves supporting anyone who found herself on the wrong side of authority I did not know; either way, I was grateful.

I paused to catch my breath and then continued at a more sedate pace. “Escaped from the clergy, have ye?” a voice whispered from the shadows. The voice stepped from between two buildings and revealed itself to belong to a man of mid-years, possessed of a beard mottled with gray, thinning hair and bad teeth, dressed in a tattered mockery of a livery uniform. He explained that he had been in the Lord Mayor’s service until His Lordship had dismissed the driver and since then had been eking a living in the underbelly of the town. No friend of the powerful in Londinium, my new friend offered to smuggle me out of town. I exchanged clothing with a lady friend of his, a barmaid by trade, and he led me through a twisting passageway to a waiting dray. He led us safely out of town, while I hid beneath layers of straw.

My benefactor left me at an inn along the main route back to Babbage. I had no Londinium currency, so I gave him my earrings in the hope that he could trade them for something more useful, along with my heartfelt thanks. I walked into the inn to arrange a room for the night and passage back to Caledon – a direct route this time.

The shopping district

[OOC comments] Okay. Deep breath. At least some of the above actually happened; I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which events. Londinium is a fascinating place: an atmospheric 17th-century (or thereabouts) village (with some odd anachronistic elements – for example, the Lord Mayor’s mansion has light switches!) that takes dark role playing very seriously. As a rule, I have found that wearing an observer tag is the next best thing to being invisible. Players ignore you. Despite my observer tag, both people I spoke with in Londinium were very much in character, and I did my best as well. Perhaps being dressed in Victorian garb helped.

The “dark” aspect cannot be overemphasized. In addition to the aforementioned killer on the loose, the town contains a brothel, underground torture chambers, a sewer system with BDSM and what appeared to be dolcett equipment, and, um, “adult” poseballs galore. The introductory notecard given out at the Visitor’s Center points out that rape, murder, torture, and vore storylines may occur. (And who says Second Life isn’t educational? In addition to the many historical factoids I have learned from fellow Caledonians, I have also expanded my vocabulary to include “BDSM,” “dolcett,” and “vore.” Thanks ever so much.)

The church (foreground) and tower

The sign on the Visitor's Center wall reads, "The first impression Londinium offers is that of a perfectly tuned, misogynistic, Victorian world powered by an unending supply of clean, soothing and scalding hot steam.

"Pose-ball junkies and those who think roleplay is a 'quivering emote' before orgasm will not see much more than this, but those who have a deeper desire to explore Londinium will unravel its darker underbelly. Rape, imprisonment, torture/inquisition, mutilation, ritualistic killings, cannibalism/Dolcett, vore, capital punishment, mind cokntrol, dollification, and whatever else the residents hatch into reality lurk patiently in the shadows of Londiunium, waiting to offer all those who find it a big welcoming hug and a hot cup of tea.

"Welcome to Londinium, and always remember, the closest exit may be the one behind you."

The Lord Mayor's house

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