It’s been a month since the last Consilium gathering. The last one was in a private ballroom of a downtown hotel; tonight’s is in a historic Masonic hall. Rumor has it the hall is administered by the Guardians as part of “the Labyrinth” -their ongoing plot to conceal supernatural knowledge by funneling would-be magical seekers into dead-end secret societies. The location is a little more modest. The Grand Hall, as it’s called, is a large house on West Eighth Avenue, north of downtown, kind of near Chinatown.
The street is packed with cars as the late afternoon fades into evening. The city’s Awakened file up the front steps and through the front door into a hallway lit with flickering oil lamps and flanked by a pair of young Arrow guards in tailed coats.
If anyone in the neighborhood takes note of the string of odd characters headed down their street, they probably dismiss it as another Shriners meeting.
Aurelia arrives in a conservative blue dress, under a well-worn down jacket.
Elithora already went slick black dress last time so she is upping the ante slightly at the expense of her credit card. A muted black dress kissed with Time magic — light sheens off it touched with the most striking color the viewer saw yesterday. Elithora’s perfume is less shifty this time: the smell is hard to place, but it evokes some memory Fated to be half-forgotten and never clearly remembered.
Blackjack and Sinon are wearing tuxedos—the Arrow is also adorned with a small bronze star ribbon on his lapel, a sword on his hip and wire rimmed glasses on his nose.
“Hey we can pick up furniture for the new place across the street.” Elithora is peering in the shop window, hunting for deals with fate magic.
While the gathering at the hotel was necessarily more utilitarian, whoever was responsible for tonight’s outing has clearly played the occult theme to the hilt. The decor is all wands, coins, cups, swords and pentacles.
Elithora nods with approval at the classically magey touches. Aurelia just kind of rolls her eyes.
Inside, the main hall is a hive of activity. The councilors haven’t taken their seats to officially kick things off, so everyone’s busy drinking punch and socializing.
Blackjack nods at younger Arrows while looking for Horatious. He finds the elder Sentinel near the relish tray, munching on a stalk of celery. “Blackjack. What can I do for you tonight?” His serene voice is a bit hard to make out in these surroundings.
“A small favor. I was hoping you could introduce me to a martial arts instructor. My hand to hand skills are….weak. And I grow weary of seeing the gym fly by as Traceur reminds me.”
Horatius allows himself a small smile. “He doesn’t go easy on anyone, that one. Tell me, Blackjack” – the Talon notices that he always says that rather than “BJ” – “are you familiar with the Perfected Adept legacy?”
“I have heard of it.” Blackjack replies, acknowledging the question.
“It’s the path I’ve chosen for myself, and martial mastery is one branch of that path. I could show you some part of what I’ve learned, if you wish. It’s a different path to power than many mages choose for themselves – as much about inner balance as external power – but you seem like one of the few who might be suited to it.”
Blackjack makes a small bow. “I would very much be interested in that. Thank you.”
Horatius bows back. “You and your colleagues did good work at the library. We need more good men with the clarity to remember who our true enemies are, and confront them.” He seems to come to a decision. “Seek me out next time you’re at the gym. Sooner rather than later. What you learn may have some immediate and practical applications.”
Elithora is looking to schmooze any Mysterium fellows she doesn’t owe research favors to / owe unanswered emails to / have unfinished essays requiring critiques for, which probably greatly narrows the field given her inbox.
As Elithora wades into the crowd, she hears a woman’s voice. “Elithora! Ah, there you are, dear.” It takes half a beat before she looks down to see Minerva there next to her, blinking up at her through her oversize glasses.
“Minerva, my plum. A delight to see you tonight. What can I do for you?”
Minerva takes Elithora’s elbow and guides her to the edge of the room. “I’ve been meaning to get to know you better since you came to Vancouver. Your cabal is the talk of the town lately. I heard you and Aurelia have been looking into that missing map for us?”
Elithora nods, and lowers her voice discretely. “Quite. We’ve made good progress and I’m confident we’re on the scent. We’ve already struck a few possibilities off the list and narrowed things down to a manageable level. I expect we’ll have it for you without trouble.”
Minerva nods. “That’s heartening. There’s only so much one can do in the library, you know, and we’ve been short of good field workers for a while. And with these strictures on our research that Sacerdote keeps trying to push – well, suffice to say that your contribution may well prove to be vital.” She is quiet for a moment, then perks up. Tell me, Elithora – do you think you might be up for a bit of travel at some point?"
“Anything to get away from the papercuts now and then, right?”
Minerva tilts her head. “Paper cuts? …oh. Yes, I get it now. Hah. Well, there isn’t much I can say at the moment, but we may need an expert second opinion on a certain matter and might like you to be the one to get it. You’ve got a certain charm.”
Elithora smiles and shrugs. “I do what I can.”
Aurelia looks around for Jude.
Jude has taken a seat in the back of the hall and is marking papers with a red pen. He’s dressed very professorially, in tweed jacket and corduroy slacks, but in deference
to the occasion has a long black scarf with sigils stitched into it in red, draped over his shoulders. “Aurelia.” He smiles. “Take a seat, dear.”
Aurelia sits down. “I take it you’ve heard we’ve managed to secure some new digs?”
“I did hear! That’s on tonight’s list of business, in fact. Do you need a hand with the decor? I used to have a good eye for that sort of thing.”
“Maybe we could use the help! Personally though I need some help stocking it with research materials. That’s one of the things we intend to do and it’d be nice not to have
to head out to the Athenaeum any time we need to look some things up.”
“Research materials?” He leans in conspiratorially. “I might have an idea where you can get some, if you don’t mind being a bit – well, sneaky.”
Aurelia bites her lip. “I was hoping you’d just have some books I could borrow. Or copy.”
Sinon enters the main hall and grabs a drink. He looks around awkwardly for a bit and summons his will to mingle with the nearest of the Sentinels or Guardians. He finds Rook and Jones exchanging meaningless pleasantries – or meaningful code – over punch. They look up as he comes by. “Hey there, mystery man,” Rook says. Jones just inclines her head slightly in acknowledgment.
“Evening, Rook.” Sinon then nods back at Jones. He proceeds to tell a story about being stuck at the post office, that somehow conveys the fact that he is returning control of his soon-to-be-former sanctum to the order. The story also involves a parcel that he has been expecting, but has not been able to obtain tracking information on online.
Rook makes a face. “You spy guys and your codes.” She pours more punch. Jones smiles oddly. “There MAY be news ON that front. Your package MAY be IN Old ChinaTOWN. May BE.”
Sinon nods. He looks back over to Rook. “I apologize. We had the same boss a while back—the code was a job requirement.” He refills his punch and looks around for a second. “So how about that local sports team?”
Rook laughs, a clear pleasant sound, and smiles widely. "You’re all right, guy. Did you – "
The sound of a gavel cuts through the conversation.
Jude is about to reply, then looks at the council table, as does Minerva. “Oh, my. They’re playing my song. Ta ta, dear,” she whispers to Elithora as she heads toward the front. Rattenbury, the Heirarch, is there, dressed somewhat like a Crown judge in white wig, while at the end of the table to his right, Sacerdote wears a plain yellow robe.
Minerva takes her seat immediately to Rattenbury’s left, and then a few seconds later Janis, the Free Council councilor, sits to her left. Janis is wearing a high-collared white shirt and cream pencil skirt.
There are some murmurs from the crowd as Traceur, dressed in a gray suit, shrugs and begins to head for the seat to Rattenbury’s immediate right. “Guess Khatsalano couldn’t make it, again.” “This is getting old.” “…bad taste…”
Blackjack resists the urge to glare and somehow manages to not say anything.
Then the door from the back room opens up and a leather-faced native in his mid-sixties strides in, wearing a dark suit, no tie, and boots.
“I got it this time, son.” Traceur nods at Khatslano and relinquishes the seat.
Elithora raises an eyebrow in moderate interest at the development.
Rattenbury smiles. “We’re pleased you could make it.” He bangs the gavel once. “Welcome to the seventh meeting of the one hundred and twenty-second year of the Consilium of the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. We seek the guidance of the Oracles in the light of their Watchtowers.”
The Hierarch takes a sip of water. “What business do we have tonight?”
One by one, the Councilors stand up to share the news and discuss the accomplishments of their respective Orders. Much of it this month is reasonably mundane. A Mystagogue has been invited to present their findings on the magical history of Canada’s natives at a symposium in Toronto.
Some Libertines have begun an outreach program to treat the remnants of Bleakscale among the city’s homeless, with the help of Arrowsmith and his cabal.
Rattenbury then consults a paper before him. “I’m told our newest cabal has had a busy month, and is ready to seek approval for a Sanctum. Is that the case, uh….” He peers at the paper. “…cabal name to be determined? Hm. Stand up and present yourselves, then.”
Elithora stands and looks at her compatriots expectantly. “Ah, yes.”
Sinon stands and moves to join the rest of the cabal.
Blackjack stands up and joins the others, standing at ease, eyes looking at a point above Khatalano’s head.
He peers at the group over the top of his glasses. “Hmm. A mixed cabal, yes? Always heartening to see in tense times. I’m told you worked with the Sentinels to cleanse an Abyssal manifestation, and identified a second one as well? Good initiative, very commendable. Tell me, what have you decided to call yourselves?”
Elithora: “Ah, ‘the Searchers,’ sir. Due to our, ah, inquisitive nature.”
“Aw yeah, I love that movie!” comes a voice from the crowd. It’s Lefors. He wilts a little as Sacerdote glares at him.
Rattenbury smiles. “It /is/ a fine movie, though. Saw it when I was a boy, in fact….ahem. Anyway, let it be entered into the record that The Searchers are now a cabal in good standing with the Consilium of Vancouver, British Columbia on this day of July with all the rights and responsibilities et cetera et cetera.” He waves a hand.
Elithora glances at the others uncertainly and curtsies. It’s always hard to tell how much these random formalities matter.
“And I see you’ve claimed a Sanctum, as well. Large space, small Hallow – isn’t that always the way? – hmm, it all seems to be in order. You have one month to decide which if any of the Great Rights your cabal will honor. We do take that sort of thing seriously around here.”
The Councilors mostly murmur in agreement as Janis ever so slightly rolls her eyes.
The rest of the meeting is relatively uneventful. A new cabal of Indonesian immigrants is inducted; they don’t speak English, so the business is conducted somewhat awkwardly in the High Speech.
Then Sacerdote steps up to have a word. “There is one last bit of business that we’ve overlooked. The apostate cabal whose actions inadvertently brought the Abyssal intrusion to our attention.”
Blackjack stiffens at this, his hand flexing and closing, and his Eyes narrowing a bit.
“In his wisdom, the Hierarch agreed to defer their judgment until the intrusion was addressed. But that threat is now passed, and it falls to us to decide what to do with cabals who recklessly endanger the Veil and consort with Scelesti.”
Rattenbury looks like he’s bit on a lemon. “Hrm. Yes. I had forgotten that.”
Minerva speaks up. “Scelesti? What on earth are you…?” Sacerdote stares at her. “You know who I speak of Madame Councilor. The entire room knows.”
Sacerdote continues. “The traditional penalties for these offenses are serious, up to and including death. I recognize that these young apostates were ignorant and likely the catspaws of the exile Gerard, but an example must be made. I move that the apostates called Loki, Arrowsmith, and Memoranda be imprisoned for a term of no less than six months.”
Elithora blinks. Six months?
“This is bullshit!” Janis stands up. “They were /helping/ people and you…”
“Choose your next words very carefully, girl!”
Blackjack takes a breath and raises his hand.
Rattenbury bangs on the gavel. “SILENCE! Both of you. Your…personal issues are not the matter before us. The Council recognizes…the new fellow with the glasses.”
He rises to speak. “If I may seek a point of clarification? While the Apostate status of three of their members is without a doubt, what actions of theirs endangered the Veil?”
Khatsalano leans forward, clearing his throat. “If I read the complaint right, it says they were invitin’ the city’s hobos into a clinic after hours and casting Life magic on them, an’ then the Seers got wind and busted the place up. That’s damn fool irresponsible of ’em.”
“I only arrived at the clinic after the magic had been cast, but was it vulgar?”
Aurelia stands, hand unraised. “No, I witnessed the casting myself.”
“So then their criminal act was annoying the Seers? Because I suspect I myself have run afoul of that crime.”
Sacerdote looks from Aurelia to BJ. "All casting, vulgar or otherwise, endangers the Veil. This is the truth that my order is here to remind us all of. When the city’s homeless trade tales of an unnatural affliction that is cleared up after a man lays hands on them, that erodes the magic used with the taint of disbelief.
“As for the Seers – your activities there were sanctioned – after the fact, I hasten to note – by Minerva, as your cabal was acting under the Mysterium’s aegis. Which I am dubious about regardless, but your Apostate friends can claim no such defense.”
Rattenbury looks unhappy. “If no new facts exist to be brought forward, I think it’s time for the council to render a verdict. Let’s get this over with.”
Sinon raises his hand. “The apostates were obviously… indelicate… in drawing the Seer’s attentions, and punishment is certainly warranted. That said, I believe we should hear from the Sentinels who have been watching over them for the last month. Do they believe the Pentagram have learned from this experience? Do they feel the cabal is likely to endanger the Veil again?”
Rattenbury is in the midst of raising his gavel when Sinon speaks. “Hrm. A fair point!” He leans back in his chair. “Let these Sentinels be brought forward.”