The Soal: Introduction

It is believed by the people of the Phynara city-state that among us are the Soal: these monsters whom kill a person, wear their skin, and live the life of the original person.  They could go about the world without the loved ones, colleagues, and acquaintances would never know.  This is a scary idea among the people, who have laws to deal with these things, and means to find them out.

And I'm here to tell you that it's all bullshit.

I'm Redena Bakeman, and I submit to the Ordona council that not only are the Soal not real, but that the belief in them has no founding in logic or reason, and is rooted in nothing more than mass paranoia - and anyone accusing someone of being soal is to be treated with the scorn that any grudge informer deserves.



***

It started with a frantic knock on my door where I live in the south end of the Blana District in Phynara.  It was a friend of mine: Nana DelVoro, and she was in tears.

She told me it was about Darmon, her husband of five years.  He served in the 23rd Battalion in the Phynara army.  He was a Sergeant, whom was part of the Battle of Themos three years ago.  He was stationed in barracks at the north end of the city.

"What happened?" I asked.  In between sobs she replied "He's dead."

Dead? I thought.  "You never told me that he was in a combat zone," I replied.

"He was a soal," she replied, "his squad found him out and they killed him." 

A soal.  At first, as anyone would have been, I was terrified to hear this.  Nana went on: "How long had he been a soal?  Was he a soal when we first met?  Did he become one recently?  My god, how could I not know?  He's my husband!"

As I comforted her something clued in.  In that dark and terrifying moment, something dawned on me:

How did she not know this monster was inside her own husband?  When he's home she would tend to him as a wife would: she cooked for him, cleaned up after him, tend to his more carnal pleasures and the like.  If he at any point ceased to be the man that he was she would surely know.

Or maybe it was recent as she said it was.  Perhaps it happened in the barracks.

At the time I was willing to entertain the notion that the soal were real.  They were real and they tricked Nana.

Admittedly, as an unwed woman myself, I can't fully sympathize with her, but even still if I was to have a man I want him to be the man I meet, the man that courted me, and the man that bedded me on our wedding night.  I am sure you all feel the same way about your own loved ones.

This became an obsession with me.  I wanted to know when a soal took Darmon's skin and started parading as Darmon.  I wanted to know how the wife could miss it but his soldier friends did not.  I want to know the weres and the whens.  I wanted to know how the soal could imitate everything.  I wanted to know why they did what they did.

I take my findings to you, members of the Ordona council, for two reasons.  Firstly, as a woman, the other agencies wouldn't take me seriously at all.  The Ordona council takes and contemplates whatever information it receives.  Secondly, you have made promises to Minerva, goddess of knowledge, that you would not have me hunted for believing in contradictory ideas.  After all, I have become convinced that the paranoia surrounding the soal is such that suggesting that they don't exist would be enough to have one accused of being soal and sentenced to death- because of course the soal would say that so they could continue on to take our bodies.

So, this is what I found.

<continued with The Conspiracy>