Media: Black ball pen on paper
Date of start: 27.7.2009
Date of finish: 27.7.2009

It was a quick (lazy) sketch of Dhall, whom The Nameless One met only to find even more questions. Took me less than an hour to draw, so I don't think I'm doing the character much justice. Well, he certainly did not look like how I imagined him would be. I suck at sketches.

Dhall is extremely old, and definitely not human. His skin has a trace of yellow, like old parchment. Dead charcoal gray eyes lie within an angular face... a non-human face, as the ears narrow to points. A large white beard flows down the front of his black robes like a waterfall. He coughs occassionally. The book he works in front of is huge, and seems to contain many names of corpses that have been brought to the Mortuary.

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PST: The Mortuary (1-3)

Chapter 1-3

In the centre of this room stood the largest book I had ever set my eyes upon. It was placed on its metal stand so that the bottom nearly touched the floor, and it was tilted about 30 degrees from the vertical plane. Taller than an average man, the old book was bound in brown leather of unknown origin. Concealed behind the book was a living person, obviously one of the Dustmen. He was attentively writing in the huge book.

The scribe looked very old… his skin was wrinkled and had a slight trace of yellow, like old parchment, like the pages he was writing on. Charcoal-grey eyes lie within an angular face, and a large white beard flowed down the front of his robes like a waterfall. His breathing was ragged and irregular, but even his occasional coughing did not slow the scratching of his quill pen. The book he was writing must have contained thousands of names. As I approached him, he did not look up from what he was doing.

Morte interrupted, “Whoa, chief! What are you doing?!”

“I was going to speak with this scribe. He might know something about how I got here.”

“Look, rattling your bone-box with Dusties should be the LAST thing—”

Before Morte could finish his rant, the scribe began coughing violently. After a moment or two, the coughing spell died down, and the scribe’s breathing resumed its ragged wheeze.

“And we especially shouldn’t be swapping the chant with sick Dusties. C’mon, let’s leave. The quicker we give this place the laugh, the bet—” Before Morte could finish, the scribe’s grey eyes flickered to me.

“The weight of years hangs heavy upon me, Restless One.” He placed down his quill. “…but I do not yet count deafness among my ailments.”

“ ‘Restless One?’ Do you know me?”

“Know you? I…” There was a trace of bitterness in the scribe’s voice as he spoke. “I have never known you, Restless One. No more than you have known yourself.” He was silent for a moment. “For you have forgotten, have you not?”

“Who are you?”

“As always, the question. And the wrong question, as always.” He bowed slightly, but the movement suddenly sent him into a bout of coughing. “I…” He paused for a moment, caught his breath. “I… am Dhall.”

“That question was but the first, Dhall. There is much I wish to know…”

“Very well. What did you wish to know?”

“What is this place?”

“You are in the Mortuary, Restless One. Again you have… come…” Before he could finish, Dhall broke into a fit of coughing. After a moment, he calmed himself and his breathing resumed its ragged wheeze. “…this is the waiting room for those about to depart the shadow of this life.”

“This is where the dead are brought to be interred or cremated. It is our responsibility as Dustmen to care for the dead, those who have left this shadow of life and walk the path to True Death.” Dhall’s voice dropped in concern. “Your wounds must have exacted a heavy toll if you do not recognize this place. It is almost your home.” His last sentence sent shivers.

“Shadow of life?”

“Yes, a shadow. You see, Restless One, this life… it is not real. Your life, my life, they are shadows, flickerings of what life once was. This ‘life’ is where we end up after we die. And here we remain… trapped. Caged. Until we can achieve the True Death.”

Restless One? Why do you call me as such?”

“Restless is as good a term as any…” Dhall drew a ragged breath. “Something keeps you here, does it not? Something that must be resolved, some passion that must be quenched before you can reach the True Death?”

“True Death?”

“True Death is non-existence. A state devoid of reason, of sensation, of passion.” Dhall coughed, then gave a ragged breath. “A state of purity.”

“Sounds like oblivion. Why would anyone want that?”

“Is it worse than remaining in this shadow of what life once was? I think not.”

“Perhaps you can explain why the Dustmen want me dead.” I recalled Morte's warnings about these people.

“We Dustmen are a faction, a gathering of those of us that recognise the illusion of this life. We await the next life, and help others on their journey.”

Dhall sighed. “It is said there are souls who can never attain the True Death. Death has forsaken them, and their names shall never be penned in the Dead Book. To awake from death as you have done… suggests you are one of these souls. Your existence is unacceptable to our faction.”

“ ‘Unacceptable?’ That doesn’t sound like it leaves me in a good position.”

“You must understand. Your existence is a blasphemy to them. Many of our faction would order you cremated… if they were aware of your affliction.”

“You’re a Dustman. But you don’t seem to be in favour of killing me. Why not?”

“Because forcing our beliefs upon you is not just. You must give up this shadow of life on your own, not because we force you to.” Dhall looked about to break into another coughing jag, but he managed to hold it in with some effort. “As long as I remain at my post, I will protect your right to search for your own truth.”

“You say that I have been here more than once. How is it that the Dustmen do not recognize me?”

“I am a scribe, a cataloguer of all the shells that come to the Mortuary.” Dhall broke into a fit of coughing, then steadied himself. “Only I see the faces of those that lie upon our slabs. The dark of your existence lies safe with me.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“I know scant little of you, Restless One. I know little more of those that have journeyed with you and who now lie in our keeping.” Dhall sighed. “I ask that you no longer ask others to join with you, Restless One — where you walk, so walks misery. Let your burden be your own.”

“There are others who have journeyed with me? And they are here?”

“Do you not know the woman’s corpse interred in the memorial hall below? I had thought that she had traveled with you in the past…” Dhall looked like he was about to start coughing again, then caught his breath. “Am I mistaken?

“Where is her body?”

“The northwest memorial hall on the floor below us. Check the biers there… her name should be on one of the memorial plaques. Mayhap that will revive your memory.”

“I don’t know. I don’t recall ever travelling with a woman.”

Dhall made no response to this. He simply stared at me in silence.

“Before, you said there were others interred here who journeyed with me?”

“Doubtless there are, but I know not their names, nor where they lie. One such as you has left a path many have walked, and few have survived.” Dhall gestured around me. “All dead come here. Some must have travelled with you once.

“How did I get here?”

Dhall snorted in contempt, as if he found the memory repugnant. “Your mouldy chariot ferried you to the Mortuary, Restless One. You would think you were royalty based on the number of loyal subjects that lay stinking and festering upon the cart that carried you.”

“I arrived here on a cart?”

“Yes… your body was somewhere in the middle of the heap, sharing its fluids with the rest of the mountain of corpses.” Dhall broke into another violent fit of coughing, finally catching his breath minutes later. “Your ‘seneschal’ Pharod was, as always, pleased to accept a few mouldy coppers to dump the lot of you at the Mortuary gate.”

“Who is this Pharod?”

“He is a… collector of the dead.” Dhall drew a ragged breath, then continued. “We have such people in our city that scavenge the bodies of those that have walked the path of True Death and bring them to us so that they may be interred properly.”

“Doesn’t sound like you like Pharod much.”

“There are some I respect, Restless One.” Dhall took a ragged breath and steadied himself. “Pharod is not one of them. He wears his ill repute like a badge of honour and takes liberties with the possessions of the dead. He is a knight of the post, cross-trading filth of the lowest sort.” He frowned at further thought of Pharod.

“Knight of the post?”

“A knight of the post…” Pharod coughed. “…a thief. All Pharod brings to our walls come stripped of a little less of their dignity than they possessed in life. Pharod takes whatever he may pry from their stiffening fingers.”

“Did this Pharod take anything from me?”

Dhall paused, considering. “Most likely. Are you missing anything… especially anything of value?” His voice dipped as he frowned. “Not that Pharod would take exception to anything that wasn’t physically grafted to your body, and sometimes even that’s not enough to give his greedy mind pause.”

“I am missing a journal.”

“A journal? If it was of any value, then it is likely it lies in Pharod’s hands.” The instructions tattooed on my back told me to read the journal, then find Pharod. It seemed that I have to act in reverse, if indeed this man kept my journal.

“Where can I find this Pharod?”

“If events persist as they have, Restless One, you have a much greater chance of Pharod finding you and bringing you to us again before you find whatever ooze puddle he wallows in this time.”

“Nevertheless, I must find him.”

A slight warning creeped into Dhall’s tone. “Do not seek out Pharod, Restless One. I am certain that it will simply come full circle again, with you none the wiser and Pharod a few coppers richer. Accept death, Restless One. Do not perpetuate your circle of misery.”

“I have to find him. Do you know where he is?”

Dhall was silent for a moment. When he finally spoke, he seemed to do so reluctantly. “I do not know under which gutterstone Pharod lairs at the moment, but I imagine that he can be found somewhere beyond the Mortuary gates, in the Hive. Perhaps someone there will know where you can find him.”

“Earlier you mentioned my wounds. What did you mean?”

“Yes, the wounds that decorate your body… they look as if they would have sent a lesser man along the path of the True Death, yet it seems as if many of them have healed already.” Dhall coughed violently for a moment, then steadied himself. “But those are only the surface wounds.”

To my questioning look he replied, “I speak of the wounds of the mind. You have forgotten much, have you not? Mayhap your true wounds run much deeper than the scars that decorate your surface…” Dhall coughed again. “…but that is something that only you would know for certain.”

His coughing now and then brought about a trace of concern within me. “You sound ill. Are you not well?”

“I am close now to the True Death, Restless One. It will not be long before I pass beyond the Eternal Boundary and find the peace I have been seeking. I tire of this mortal sphere…” Dhall gave a ragged sigh. “The planes hold no more wonders for one such as I.”

“Are you certain? There might be some way I could help you.”

“I do not wish to live forever nor live again, Restless One. I could not bear it.”

I stood for a moment, considering him. However, I needed to find a way out of the Mortuary.

“Can you tell me how to get out of here?”

“Hmmmm… the front gate is the most obvious exit, but they will not let anyone other than Dustmen pass…” Dhall broke into a ragged cough, then continued. “…one of the guides by the front gate has a key to it, but it is unlikely he will open it for you unless you are extremely persuasive.”

“Thank you. Farewell, Dhall.” As I turned to leave, Dhall spoke.

“Know this: I do not envy you, Restless One. To be reborn as you would be a curse that I could not bear. You must come to terms with it. At some point, your path will return you here…” Dhall coughed, the sound rattling in his throat. “It is the way of all things flesh and bone.”

“Then perhaps we will meet again, Dhall.”


  1. Dustmen: The "Dustmen" are the caretakers of the Mortuary, a huge morgue filled with bodies. The faction seems to be a pretty somber bunch, rarely showing expression or interest in anything. They seem intent only upon taking care of all the dead bodies that come into the Mortuary, catologuing them, preparing them, then burying them... somewhere.
  2. Bone-box: The mouth; named because of its inherent nature - the teeth, jaw, and skull make up the bony structure of the mouth.
  3. Copper: The currency used in the city of Sigil; a coin made of copper.
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