"What's Your Pleasure, Sir?"

"Why are we here...? Hmmm. It's been a while since anyone's asked me that.

"I'll tell you why we're here. You see that guy, there at the bar, back in the real world? The one with the ACT-UP pin? I've been watching him for a long time. He's well in his cups, by now, trying not to let anyone see him cry when they play 'Fernando.' And he's thinking of someone he loved and lost a long, long time ago... all over one, silly day that he'd give anything to take back.

"Somewhere else, there's a wage slave I know. And I know that he's working late in the office, tonight, all by himself. He thinks his promotion's only a matter of time. Just one more project. Just one more day of sliding his nose up his boss' ass. Just one more thing. It's so close he can taste it. He wants it as bad as Christmas.

"Somewhere else there's probably at least one kid outside a toy store's window, staring at a brand new bike and not noticing that his mom's told him "no" a hundred times. There's probably at least one woman at the beach, looking at Adonis and knowing he'd be perfect at everything - perfect for her.

"And let's not forget that guy looking at his best friend's girl, up there at the altar, and thinking 'Damn, she used to be mine.' Imagining what her neck smelled like when he kissed her. Remembering how she looked at him. And thinking he'd give anything - anything at all - just to be the guy up there saying "I do."

"Desire is everywhere. Men and boys staring at wank magazines or new cars. People imagining themselves in the experiences they're sold on TV. The toy your mom threw out when you were six. The past, the present, the future: without Desire to help you fondly remember, or goad you on, or give you something to focus your energies on, life is meaningless, isn't it?

"And that's the key word here, 'life.' Those people, back in the meat world? At least they can still try to get what they want. No matter what the odds, there's a chance, at least.

"That's not so easy here, now is it?

"So you can imagine how much more painful Desire's sting is for the dead. But then, I don't think you have to imagine it. You can feel it for yourself... can't you?

"'Why are we here,' you asked? Let me turn the question around, friend: why are YOU here?

"And how can I help you?"

Blackmailers, blackguards, backstabbers and snakes - that's the Solicitors, to hear the tales the others tell. They are not trusted. They are not loved. Most Guildwraiths would rather pretend they just don't exist at all.

They moved in the shadows long before the other Guilds were outlawed. They were considered bad well before the Mnemoi fell. In all the dark corners in all the Necropoli of Stygia, they have been lurking... waiting for some poor soul to tread into their web. Waiting for you...

But yet they have their uses. When something needs doing, and no one else can seem to achieve it - or convince someone it needs doing - they are there, ready to make it happen. When someone really needs them, he'll find them waiting patiently... almost as if they knew he was coming...?

That's the trouble with them: no one really knows whether the idea to use them was their own idea, or an idea a Solicitor gave them. To use them is to be used, and to be used by them is to be lost - this is as well-known as anything else in Stygia. Yet the Solicitors have never wanted for customers, then or now, and that is a very frightening thought.

But there are more frightening things to speak of, here. As bad as their reputation is, the truth about the Solicitors is worse. Much worse.

For they are not a small group of wraiths hiding in the corners of Stygia's ruins. They are a worldwide brotherhood, working towards a goal that can only be as dark as the methods used to achieve it. They are in contact with something they claim to be more powerful than anything imaginable. And they are in possession of a certain understanding that has made them the kings of this dead world, but has also seen the best and brightest amongst them fall to a fate worse than Spectrehood.

They say that ignorance is bliss, but it's much too late for that now. The Book is open, and now you will read it...

What's Here That Must Be Read

Part I: A History of Desire and Hir Children covers the illustrious history of the Cabal, seen both from within and without. Its shadowy origins are alluded to, its more tangible past is laid bare, and its recent movements are discussed. And it's all true, even if it never happened...

Part II: The Kings of The World explains - or lies about - how the Cabal works, and why it does what it does. Its organization is highlighted, as well as what it thinks of - and does to - other organizations in Stygia, and all over the Shadowlands (perhaps).

Part III: Spinning Wheels and Grinding Gears covers the mechanics of the Cabal in some detail. New Intimation Arts, Merits and Flaws, Artifacts and Backgrounds await your gaze, as does an explanation for why there are so few old, bold Solicitors. But don't let deter you...

Part IV: The Hands of Desire presents sample characters, Solicitors of note, and some places of interest to both.

What You Must Keep In Mind

Believe it or not, the Solicitors are the good guys. At least, that's what they'd like you to think, provided they wanted your wraith to know anything about them at all.

But then, that's what the Solicitors truly believe. That's what they tell their Apprentices and hammer into their Novices. That's what the Masters tell themselves when they do things that would make you want to crawl under a rock and die just to watch. Their hands might be getting dirty in the here and now, but their eyes are on the horizon, staring off at some grand future that only they can see. And that future they see - however darkly - is one that will make what happens today seem very well worth it all.

That is one thing that should be understood about these wraiths: they are as fanatic as any Heretic could ever be. They are willing to sacrifice everything - even their own sanity - to bring their grand designs about. That's because Solicitors know they're right. They have always known that they were right. They know what the truth is, because it's cut them as sharply and deeply as any knife.

But, as with any truth, there are numerous interpretations. Portions of Guildbook: Solicitors are presented in a number of voices. Some of them may seem insane, sadistic or a little suspicious. They might also contradict one another at times. The truth lies within them, somewhere, but you'll have to decide for yourself what the Solicitors truly are.

After all, they can't all be right... can they...?

For Your Own Good...

This netbook has been written from the perspective of Wraith Revised material on Ex Libris Nocturnis, which picks up from the events of Ends of Empire. If you're not following that metaplot, or you haven't read what I've written there, some of what's here might not make sense. You should go read it first, if you haven't already.

The movies Hellraiser and Hellraiser II are excellent inspiration. Avoid the third and fourth movies.

As diametrically opposed as they might be, Bester and Mr. Morden from Babylon 5 would make wonderful Solicitors: Bester for his self-righteous and self-serving fanaticism, and Morden because... well... watch it again and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Avon from Blake's 7 is also a wonderful, self-serving rogue to emulate.

If you want a modern study in desire gone wrong, or the bizarre things it makes people do, you can't do much better than to read books and short stories by Yukio Mishima. This Japanese author surrounded himself with a private army, tried to overthrow the post-war government, and then committed ritual suicide when the revolution failed. Anyone who wants to run a Kindred of the East game should read him. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace From the Sea is a great place to start.

In this day and age, anything written about fanaticism, charismatic leaders and cults, shadowy business deals gone awry and things of that nature would be of use. Given how much of that is going about lately, you hardly need to read anything outside of the paper or news magazines.

But, given that such things are aimed at the lowest common denominator - which you are not - it wouldn't hurt.

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