William Burke was one half of the pair responsible for the West Port murders committed in 19th century Edinburgh, Scotland. He and his partner, William Hare, smothered their victims and then sold the bodies to the anatomist Robert Knox. The pairs murdering spree was interrupted when lodgers at Mr. Hares boarding house discovered the body of their 16th victim.
The police could not prove the pair guilty of their murders, so the magistrates offered Mr. Hare immunity if he turned King’s evidence. After being convicted for all 16 murders, Mr Burke was hanged, his body turned over to anatomists for dissection, his skeleton put on display at Edinburgh Medical School (where it remains to this day), and a portion of his skin fashioned into a wallet.
A Resurectionist’s Relic
Within the world of In Nomine this is not the end of the story. The Burke’s Skin Wallet is a Relic. Whenever the wallet turns up, it will be filled with a couple thousand dollars worth of local currency.
Unfortunately, this money does not come cheap. Whenever someone takes money from the wallet they will feel unclean and lose 1 essence for every $50* taken. If they do not have enough essence available they will go into “debt” and permanently lose access to one point of essence. Additional permanent essence can be lost by taking the maximum amount of cash their essence can cover.
For example, a Soldier with 6 forces and 4 current essence finds the wallet. If he takes $200 or less, he will only lose current essence. If he takes $250 he will lose on permanent point of essence, and he will lose an additional point of permanent essence for each $300 he takes out of the wallet. (If he takes more than $1700 from the wallet he will have no essence left and will likely die and be sold for parts in the near future).
Permanent essence can only be regained through the intervention of a Superior or by repaying all money taken from the wallet. However, the wallet wont take just any money. Only money earned from the sale of organs and cadavers will count.
By turning King’s evidence, William Hare escaped his partner’s ghastly fate… in this life. However, he would most certainly have been relegated to the care of The Game after his death. It is entirely possible that one of Asmodeus’s artificers has built a second such wallet out of Hare’s skin – one that is repaid out of the bounty on one’s erstwhile allies.