The Hall of Heads

By James Walker


The Ascension of Kronos of Princehood annoyed a number of Princes. Saminga's response was simple - if collecting information was enough to to make one a Prince, then he would prove that Death was the ultimate storehouse of knowledge! [Maniacal laugh]

Servitors of Death were ordered to locate the experts in every field of human endeavour, and persuade them to accept mummification. The resulting Mummies were rounded up, had their bodies carved away and are stockpiled in catacombs beneath a [secret] city.

The Heads are not completely bodiless; they need lungs and a throat to talk, and their diaphragms operate from a stripped down rib cage; the Heads look remarkably like busts, with the diaphragm etc forming the base. Each has a skill at Mastery level; most possess Area Knowledge (as this must be updated regularly, there are multiple heads for each region, specialising in different eras), while Languages are the next most common speciality. However, any skill, no matter how obscure, is sufficient justification for inclusion in the Hall. The Habbalah who mind the Hall keep the Heads quiet and obedient - if insane; and organise the Heads to simplify finding the knowledge one seeks. The Hall is row after row of Heads sitting in the burial niches of the catacombs.

Any Servitor of Death may access the information held in the Hall, if they can persuade the Seneschal of the linked Tether to allow them through (this is not much more expensive than any other Tether). A Flue connects the Catacombs to the surface, which can theoretically be accessed. However, it is forbidden on pain of Death to use either NC:Wings or the Songs of Motion while in the Hall, as the Heads might learn them.

There have been two break-outs from the Hall. The first was after repeated use of the Celestial Song of Motion by the 'librarians' to visit the surface. Waiting until every demon was on the surface, the Heads who had learnt the Song fled; a number of other Heads learnt the Song while observing their comrades and joined the break-out. The other Heads had been persuaded that revealing what had happened would allow the Samingans to prevent a second break out, and so told the returning Librarians that demons dressed in cat suits had broken in and stolen the heads. Saminga executed the librarians, so the chance to learn the Song again was lost.

A second break out, a century later, was caused when some of the Heads learnt NC:Wings, and flew out of the flue. This could not be concealed, and the new Librarians realised how the earlier heads had escaped; they also managed to pin the blame for the more recent escape on a visiting Servitor, who was personally killed by Saminga. Aware of their near-deaths, the librarians are incredibly paranoid about security.

The Tether was trivial, until the creation of the Hall; the thousands of heads now feed it and it has waxed to become a Minor Tether - the Seneschal wanders the Hall chatting to the Heads.

The escaped Heads seek to regain their bodies, of course - or failing that acquire more essence and Songs. The Heads spy on Celestials, hoping to learn Songs; if they feel that they can trust a Demon (generally an Impudite) they will offer their services in return for learning Songs or being granted Rites. The sight of a Head flying through the night should warn any being that they are being continuously spied upon.


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