Sorvad Heron didn’t sleep well. Opening up his stash of fey pepper, he smoked until dawn.
Cala met Sorvad at the café, where he passed on his plan – if he were suspended from the RHC, he could be their man on the inside in criminal society. Cala remained noncommital. “Did Walker get the message?” asked Sorvad. Cala replied that he had. “Then where is he?”
Walker, on his own, had returned to the Thinking Man’s Tavern, a bar where he had once talked about the philosophy of qualia in order to obtain information. This time he wanted to talk about the philosophy of justice.
Buying whisky for one of the local philosophers and giving him a platinum piece – six months salary for the man – Walker asked him: If you knew someone had made a terrible, terrible mistake, had attacked people, had lost part of his soul to the Bleak Gate and was becoming less and less human – and you had the power to stop that – what would you do?
The philosopher replied that he’d have a talk with the individual concerned, try and stop them moving further down the path towards darkness.
“But what if you knew it was too late?” asked Walker. “What if this person had already fallen too far?”
The philosopher avowed that he’d cut off contact with said person, and get as far away from them as they could.
“And if that wasn’t possible? If it was someone close?”
The philosopher had reached the end of his knowledge. Walker gifted him the rest of the bottle as he left.
Visiting the Evidence Room back at the station, Walker took something from the locker and concealed it in his coat; then returned to the Thinking Man’s Tavern, where he engaged Thames Grimsley and two Dockers in a high-stakes poker game. A game which he deliberately lost – but not before checking with Thames that the person he was losing four hundred odd gold pieces to was a good man.
As they played, Walker discussed the morality of justice with Thames – who was the worst man in the city? With some prompting, Thames admitted that Lorcan Kell would probably be described as such by the majority of the populace – but that he himself held things like Health and Safety as being more powerful than that. What would happen, asked Walker, if the worst man in the city was eliminated tomorrow? Someone would take their place, said Thames.
But not someone as bad, with such power for evil, Walker said.
With the last of his money gone, Walker left the Tavern.
Almost ten minutes later, Cala and Sorvad entered the Tavern to find it almost empty. The high-stakes poker tables were empty, and all the Dockers gone, as were Walker and Thames. The barman pointed them out the door.
Walker strode through Lorcan Kell’s territory to the theatre where they had met before, ignoring the armed thugs on every roof. Soon he became aware that someone was following him, and grabbed them. It was a Docker. Thames had told him to follow Walker.
Soon, Walker was in front of Kell’s Theatre. Thames Grimley was already there, together with a dozen Dockers. He again tried to talk Walker out of entering the theatre. “It’ll be suicide. And we need you.”
“I’m nothing without my team. Cala. Christian. Sorvad. Gladness. They’re the people who really make a difference. I’m just a name people put to the police.”
Unable to talk Walker out of entering the theatre, Thames accompanied him within.
Into the middle of the tense standoff outside between Dockers and Kell’s Men, Cala and Sorvad arrived, quickly pushing their way through into the theatre. Just in time to see Walker raising his gun towards Kell, having breakfast on the stage.
Cala threw herself at Walker, grappling him to the ground and knocking Ignis from his hand. Landing on him, she felt something break and the dark viscous substance in the flask he had retrieved from the Evidence room bled out upon his coat as it broke.
While Sorvad calmed the crowd down, Walker raved and ranted. He wanted to die, he’d had enough at last, he wasn’t making anything any better.
Several of Kell’s thugs slipped in blows as Cala dragged him from the room to a place of safety. After they left, Thames put the four platinum pieces that Walker had lost onto Kell’s desk. “As a peace-offering. To forget about this.”
In a warehouse a safe distance away, Cala, cleaned off the Witch Oil from Walker’s coat – not enough remained to store his soul now – and he started to calm down and tell his story.
Walker was one of the Reincarnate. Outside the walls of Alais Primos four hundred years ago, he found himself in battle against the god Srasama herself. As he hit her, he looked into her eyes for a moment before they were drawn apart in the battle. Soon afterwards, she died. He doesn’t know if it was his blow that killed a god, or simply one of many.
Whichever it was, since then Walker has led a dozen or more lives.
He doesn’t remember much from each life – flashes, a moment here, a few minutes there. Sometimes enough to help him out in a pinch. And each time he re-incarnates he knows a little less. He’s not even sure who he is any more – all that he knows is that each time he passes through the Bleak Gate he leaves a little bit more of himself behind.
Knowing that Witch Oil would trap his soul before it could reach the Bleak Gate, Walker wanted the cycle of life and death to stop one last time, doing what little good he could on his way to his final death.
One more thing slipped out. A memory from his most recent life. Walker knew Jann Heron.
Sorvad’s murdered father.