Last time the cabal was attending the second monthly Consilium gathering at Vancouver’s Grand Masonic Lodge. They met some people, schomoozed a bit, and were formally named and recognized.
Then, as the meeting was winding down, Sacerdote raised the issue of the three apostates from your first adventure and their disposition.
He is pushing hard for their imprisonment. You guys want to speak in their defense.
Sinon suggested that the Sentinels watching the apostates be interviewed before the council, and that’s where we left off.
Khatsalano leans forward. “Which Sentinels oversaw the apostates during the last month?”
Rook, Carson and Lefors, and Donatella step forward.
Rattenbury motions them before the long table. “Well, you four have been following the proceedings. What do you think?”
Carson shrugs. “I’m not really one to say bad of a man who hasn’t done me dirty. They were good kids when I was watching them. They didn’t know much about much of anything – they’d been learning from Gerard, the exile, and he’s a few broncs short of a rodeo.”
There’s scattered laughter at this.
Aurelia shrugs. Gerard wasn’t so far gone.
Khatsalano leans back in his seat. “The apostates are a…what?” He consults his notes. “A Thyrsus, Moros, and Acanthus?” There are nods. “How’d Gerard single-handedly instruct them in that many arcana?”
Sinon pulls his phone out of his pocket and holds it at his side. He keeps his eyes locked ahead at the proceedings as he idly turns the device over in his hands.
Rook coughs slightly and steps forward. “I can answer that. I asked them that exact question during one of my interviews – Councilors, if you’ll consult the packets I prepared. The apostates said that Gerard brought in outside help.”
“…Outside help?” Khatsalano says, warily.
Elithora leans forward, curious.
Sinon leans over to the others and whispers, “Gerard mentioned friends in Seattle, yes?” (He totally did—it is where he got the Bleakscale book!)
“Not that I recall.” Blackjack pitches his voice low. Not whispering but keeping it low so not to be overheard.
Aurelia shrugs again. “I don’t really recall any specifics.”
Elithora murmurs, “I was assuming he meant people who argue with pigeons in the park.”
Rook: “Gerard told them that Vancouver was entirely in the control of the Seers and that they, as mages in the city, were targets. He and they spent six months as itinerants around British Columbia, periodically meeting with mages, experts in various arcana, whom Gerard knew and introduced to the apostates as fellow ‘fugitives.’”
“The mages would set new tasks for them to practice and would leave, saying almost nothing of Awakened society or the wider world. The cabal was given the impression that they were completely dependent on Gerard for their survival.”
The councilors are leaning forward, interested. “Did you recover anything on these other mages?” Sacerdote says.
Lefors steps forward. “I looked around in their heads and got physical descriptions. You’ll find those in your packets as well. Bottom line, though, Gerard kept interesting company. Some were members of other Consilia, others were apostates of various stripes…one was a Scelestus. And one was a Seer.”
Sacerdote leans back. “So this cabal could be dupes of a madman. Or they could be left-handed. Or…they could be Seer spies.”
Murmurs fill the room.
Jones, the Guardian provost, steps forward and whispers into Sacerdote’s ear.
Aurelia looks to the others, “That’s no good, for anyone.”
Elithora: “Yeah, this isn’t good.”
Blackjack rises to speak. “May I ask a question?”
Rattenbury sighs. “I suppose.”
“Inside their minds, did you find that they sought to adopt the seer ways?”
Lefors shakes his head. “No…no, I didn’t see that.”
Khatsalano holds a hand out. “Butttt….”
Lefors finishes, “but there are ways around a mental scan. Artifacts, certain attainments…they might have been doing the Seers’ bidding without realizing it.”
Khatsalano looks to the crowd. “I know it’s kinda far from fair, but, that’s where it lays. Magic means bein’ nice is just giving them another boot ta kick us with.”
Janis looks over to him. “Then why aren’t we going after the Seer instead of talking about locking up three kids? Huh? Is a fair fight just too much work for some of the old men here?”
Khatsalano glares at her. “I’d suggest kindly that you rethink your tone, little miss.”
Rattenbury bangs his gavel. “That’s..quite enough of all that. I expect more decorum from my Councilors.”
Elithora raises her hand.
Aurelia stands up again. “I think Janis is right. We must have the identity of the seer agent, and we can discern even a subtle pattern given enough time.”
Rattenbury looks at Aurelia standing up and Elithora with her hand up. “I, uh…were you going to amplify your cabal mate’s statement, Elithora, or do you have something to add?”
“I simply wonder if it’s worth squandering potential resources by imprisoning them for months on end. Not to be mercenary, but if they’ve had contact with Seers and other undesirables, couldn’t that be to our advantage in investigating the issue? Why not simply keep a close eye on them and keep them on probation rather than tossing them in the brink?”
Minerva looks at Rattenbury to her immediate right. “That is the official position of the Mysterium as well. Nobody wants to unduly endanger the Consilium – we simply don’t think imprisonment is necessary.”
Sacerdote looks to his fellow councilors and to the crowd. His face sags and he suddenly seems very much like someone’s sad Asian grandpa. “Khatsalano – Janis and these young people are right to question us. And they deserve an honest answer, even when the questioner is…passionate.”
He holds his hands out. “The answer is simply that we do not have the manpower to address the issue this Council faces while at the same time keeping a constant eye on three mages to ensure they do not betray us. All it takes is a moment’s laxity – or less, with Time magic – to tell the Seers the location of our next gathering.”
“Or the location of a priceless artifact, or the best way into a vulnerable cabal’s sanctum.”
Sinon tilts his head slightly. (" ‘the location of a priceless artifact, or the best way into a vulnerable cabal’s sanctum.’ A threat? Interesting.")
“If we kept them in one place, their movement curtailed, we could keep that eye on them. And if they passed, they could be admitted as valuable new members to our community. Or we may exile them, and leave them as a problem for some other city.”
“What we cannot do is have three mages who have had intimate dealings with enemies of the city – with Abyss-tainted willworkers, with Milady’s agents, with god knows what – free reign of Vancouver. I am open to alternatives, but my commitment to our safety – to all of our safety – will not allow me to just let these people off, misguided though they may be.”
He sits down from the half-standing position he had risen into while speaking.
Blackjack rises again. “When you speak of three, you do not include Memoranda. Am I correct in that assumption?”
Aurelia, still standing, simply states. “He isn’t including Gerard, so what does that tell you?”
Khatsalano rumbles in his throat. “She’s a good kid, Blackjack. But her training can continue under house arrest as well as anywhere else.”
“Can it? You can only sharpen a blade so much before you are merely wearing it away. Would any bit of practice replicate the experence she had dealing with the frost spirit?” Blackjack tilts his head just a bit.
Aurelia: “You could separate them, assign them individual, personal wardens.”
Rattenbury stands up. “We seem to have reached the point in the evening where we begin going in circles. This council has a decision to make – an unpleasant one, to be sure, for both sides, but a decision nonetheless.”
Sinon leans back in his chair, crossing his arms.
Elithora silently resolves to send correspondence to the cabal in mage-prison. “Weather outside is good. Paradox not 2 bad. Wish you were here. xoxo, E”
“Councilors, on the question of the disposition of the three apostates known to us as Memoranda, Loki, and Arrowsmith. Do we imprison for a term of three months? Exile? Separate and watch? Or declare innocent?”
“Declare innocent,” she says, before he’s even finished speaking her name.
“Separate and watch, or declare innocent,” she says.
“Imprisonment or exile,” the Guardian says.
Sinon uncrosses his arms and leans forward. (“Tie vote coming up. Which way does the Hierarch swing?”)
“Imprisonment or exile,” the old Arrow says. “Sorry, son,” he says to Blackjack. “But it’s gotta be a way.”
Blackjack’s eyes are fixed on Khatsalano. No expression on his face. Still not a comforting look.
Rattenbury sits down and sighs. “Nobody’s changed their mind, eh? I was afraid of that…”
“This isn’t a time for dithering, Rattenbury,” Sacerdote says. “How does the Hierarch decide? Mercy or safety?”*
Their gazes lock – Sacerdote quiet but unblinking, with something passionate underneath his words. Rattenbury meets it for a moment, then looks away.
“…imprisonment or exile,” Rattenbury says at last.
Elithora purses her lips and says nothing.
Aurelia shakes her head and finally sits.
The HIerarch bangs his gavel. “Each of the apostates will be brought before me tomorrow and given that choice. Three months of house arrest, or to leave Vancouver. Nobody’s choice will be taken to reflect poorly upon their fellows. Those who serve their terms will be observed closely, investigated, and should they pass, welcomed into the Consilium for training.”
“I believe that concludes our business for tonight. This month’s session is adjourned, though you may stay to conduct business as long as you like.”
Rattenbury all but runs away from the council bench. Sacerdote and Khatsalano call some Sentinels over to them to give them instructions. Minerva sighs and slowly gets up, moving toward the buffet table. Janis stands up.
“I urge everyone who has strong feelings about tonight’s events to visit the Free Council at our next Assembly and make your voices heard.
All are welcome there.”
Blackjack leans over and speaks very softly. “Sinon, I am aware this is an unpleasant situation for you. And I assume my reaction will be of very minor intrest to the Guardians. But should the subject come up, my reaction was very simply to ask you if I repay my debts.”
Sinon nods, acknowledging the implication. “There was nothing any of us could have done to affect this decision. The dynamic that led to this”
-motions to the Hierarch and Sacerdote- “is obviously decades old at this point. The only question being, how long will the Free Council stay around and put up with it.”
Aurelia just kind of sulks without moving. She speaks up “Well after the show tonight I’d say they’re well within rights, that’s not good for the council or the city.”
As Aurelia speaks, there’s a tap on her shoulder.
“I need to speak with Janis a moment.” Blackjack rises and walks. Anger only visible if someone reads his aura.
Janis has a small crowd of hangers-on at this point as only hipster firebrands do. A few people see you and how you look, though, and part ways. Janis meets your gaze with an acknowledging nod. “Blackjack. I’m so sorry about your friend.”
“I owe you a debt for your actions.” With a great deal of formality.
Janis nods. “Thank you for that, but I don’t like to think in terms of debts.” Her voice is slightly raised for the benefit of the small crowd around you. “I like to think in terms of good people following their consciences. You don’t owe me anything. What matters is how I can help you.”
“Loki of the aposates. He thinks he may be Arrow material. I think he may be more suitable for you. During his imprisonment will you speak to him? See if I may be correct?”Janis meets your gaze for a moment and then nods. “I’d be glad to. We’ll be checking in on them regularly, in fact, to ensure humane treatment.”
“As will I. And there is another matter I need to speak of with you. One that may also be unpleasant. But one requiring more time. Will you be free tomorrow in the afternoon?”
Janis nods. “My door is always open. Impresario?” Her provost – who seems more like a business manager, at times – hands you a card with a phone number and nothing else. “Text that number any time,” he says.
Takes the number and slips it into the tuxedo pocket. “I will. Now if you will excuse me, I need to speak with Khatsalano. Again, my thanks.” Giving a rather stiff bow.
Valentina is behind her. Jessica Price, star of screen and uh, smaller screen. She smiles. “Hi, everyone. I don’t think we’ve been introduced…” she offers her hand.
Aurelia just kind of turns red and stammers “I… uh… no! No we haven’t! Uh, Valentina is it? I’m Aurelia. I’ve uh… I’ve seen your show.”
Aurelia quickly takes her hand, as an afterthought. “I was just about… I mean… sorry, you must get this all the time.”
Valentina beams. It’s a 200-watt gaze. “Thank you. That’s so sweet of you. Usually all I hear around here are…well…catty remarks. Or Sacerdote complaining about how we’re endangering the Veil. I just wanted to tell you that the Free Council appreciates that your cabal aren’t afraid to speak their minds.”
“I was just going to go see what Janis had to say, actually. I mean, not that I don’t want tohear what /you/ have to say…”
her voice lowers. “Janis sent me. She knows you know you made some enemies tonight. But you’ve also made some friends. A lot of people think it might be time for a change.”
Aurelia buries her inner fangirl. “I don’t fear what people think of me. I say what I feel is right. And I don’t think change is necessarily for the better.”
Valentina smiles. “Nobody’s asking for any sort of commitment or anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with. Just…promise me that you’ll keep on speaking your mind. Okay?” She puts a hand on Lily’s shoulder.
Elithora and Sinon
“For an organization this concerned with outside interlopers and rival factions, I’m surprised they would broadcast the message, ’We’re stretched too thin to do anything except this.’” Elithora muses.
SInon looks at Elithora. “How long will they watch the apostates, anyway? If you think paranoia will subside in 3 months…”
Elithora shrugs noncommittally. “To be honest, I’ve never known anyone who fell on the wrong side of Mage law and I don’t know what to expect. I think they just want this problem to go away.”
Sinon’s phone vibrates. A text. “Sacerdote wishes to meet you. Back room,” followed by directions (it’s a big lodge hall).
Sinon glances down at his phone. “Excuse me, El, I’ve been called to the principal’s office.” He heads back.
Elithora nods to Sinon and drifts to whomever has the champagne flutes and brie.
Aurelia notices Sinon and Eli drifting off in the background, and her resolve wavers a bit. “I… Well I don’t think I was going to stop.”
Aurelia is suddenly very on edge. “I should get a drink… um, do you want anything?”
“Champagne would be lovely, thank you. Do you mind if I take a moment to speak to your friend Elithora?”
Aurelia smiles nervously, “Oh no, not at all, please do! She’s wandered of somewhere, I think. I’ll be back.” She quickly walks away towards the champagne.
Sinon finds Sacerdote in a conference room, munching on brie and crackers from a paper plate. He swallows, then motions you in. “Ahh, come in, come in! I’m sorry we haven’t had the pleasure before now. Jones?” She steps forward and closes the door behind you.
Sinon motions to a chair, “If I may, Epopt?” before sitting.
“Sinon, I want you to know that Jones has been keeping me up to date on your work. I received your suggestion earlier and took it into account. It’s a possibility that had occurred to me and one that we will be exploring. I also wanted to thank you for your…candor.”
“I think it’s good that you’re out there, asking me to explain myself in public. Too many people think of us as…a company store. A cult. That we think and move with one mind. Seeing that we allow a, uh, robust conversation helps moderate that image.”
Sinon nods. “I had expected as much. I hope you understand also, that my placement in a mixed group complicates my duties somewhat. I trust that the order’s traditional respect for the sanctity of the cabal is honored here as well as it was in DC.”
He nods slowly. “Indeed. In fact, we have to be especially mindful of that respect here, where so many are so eager to see us as oppressors. No, I understand the difficulty of your position, and I would not seek to compromise it or you.” He waves a hand airily. “No, what worries me right now is my dear niece.”
Sinon leans forward. “Your niece.” It is a question that sounds like a statement.
The little firebrand in the beret, a few seats over from me?" He smiles conspiratorially.
“Indeed. The resemblance in… passion… is rather remarkable.” Sinon’s right eye narrows a bit. “I suspect she will be wondering where Mr. Rhodes’ money is sometime soon.”
He nods. “Yeah, we’ve got Volcker on that. Have you met? He’s a herald, our man in the halls of finance. He’ll set her little group up with some money and keep a very close eye on where it goes and why.”
“I’ve not met him as yet, but I am sure that will happen in due course. It does trouble me that we are this divided when Paternoster is obviously ramping up its operations here. While I am as loathe to admit it as any, I doubt that we will be able to hinder them much if the Free Council splinters off.”
Sacerdote gets an odd look in his eye. “We may not have to for long.” Jones tilts her head at an odd angle; she’s wondering about this turn of phrase as well.
A statuesque young woman approaches Elithora. This is Valentina, whose real name – Jessica Price – is known around the world as the star of TV’s “Nightfall,” where she plays a reporter in a forbidden love with a werewolf.
Elithora pivots in time to watch Aurelia looking nervous en route and then turns to Valentina with a confused smile.
Valentina steps forward and introduces herself with an outstretched hand. She inhales deeply. “I love that scent…! You must tell me where I can get it.”
Elithora takes Valentina’s hand and smiles more brightly. “Oh! A bottle could be procured — I know a woman who knows a woman. Most powerful Time mage I’ve ever met; spends her time doddering over flowers. Blind as a bat, but a nose like … a werewolf?”
Valentina smiles widely. “Oh, that sounds lovely. I’m going to be in touch about that, then. But first things first – I just wanted to tell you what I told your friend Aurelia. Your cabal stood up to something unjust, and people have noticed. And appreciated it.”
“It just seems heavy-handed.” She glances around for wherever Aurelia went, speaking of. “In a world of satellites and cell phone cameras, I have a hard time worrying that much about these few wayward lambs. The only things they know about our society are what they’ve been told and now they’re going to be thrust into a prison or exile. They’ll tell each other their mentor was right.”
Valentina nods. “Exactly. We already have enough enemies, and we’re making more from among people who should be our friends. Look, uh, there’s only so much I can say here, but Janis is going to be talking about this soon at the Assembly. Would you consider paying a visit and hearing her out? Nothing more than that,” she says, hastily waving off any implications of conspiracy.
THe Talon begins walking over Khatsalano.
The Councillor is conferring with Traceur, Carson, and Horatius. They look over at your approach. Traceur starts to say something, but Khatsalano cuts him off with a hand. “I figger you’re pretty sore right now, huh, son?”
“My feelings are irrelevant. I am oath sworn to serve the order. Part of that oath is obediance within limits.” Looking at Khatsalano. “I am here on something else all together.” He stands at something between attention and parade rest.
He furrows his brows at the younger mage. “That east coast formality ain’t really my style, son.” He looks you in the eye. “Say your piece.”
“I wish to assume the role of Banner Warden for my cabal.
He pauses for a long moment, then nods his head. “Absolutely. Traceur, make it official. Blackjack is recognized as Banner Warden of the Searchers.”
Blackjack bows formally. “I wish to tell Memoranda about her fate. I took responsibility for her. It is my duty.”
Carson steps forward. “Uh, I’ll take you. She and the others are at a secure spot right now.”
He tilts his head to Carson, gesturing for the Sentinel to lead on.
Elithora & Aurelia
Aurelia returns with two champagne flutes. “Miss Valentina, and Eli I’m glad you have yours already.”
“I’m always up to hear a new point of view. Maybe I can drag Aurie here along to the assembly.”
Elithora clinks glasses with Aurelia and then Valentina before taking a sip of her rapidly-vanishing champagne.
Valentina laughs, a pleasant, tinkling sound. “Only if she wants to.” She takes a sip of her champagne. “We’re very big on do as thou wilt, you know.”
Aurelia drinks, and makes her best fake smile. “I was actually already planning on attending. But it was nice to meet you, of course. I am something of a fan.” She makes a rather broad comic grin.
Elithora takes a final sip of her champagne and regards her now-empty flute with dismay. “The subservience of that waiter boy really ought to be the whole of the law if you ask me.”
Elithora glances around for any champagne-laden silver trays and sees none sufficiently close. “So how is showbusiness, anyway? I hear quite the muted rumbling about your show’s existence.”
Aurelia smiles at Eli, almost guzzling her champagne. “It’s quite a good show, I think. I mean, it does have, uh… hints.”
Valentina smiles, clearly eager to talk shop and change the subject. “Showbusiness is…well, it’s as banal as anyone would think. But what we’re doing on that show…see, it’s me and a few others – we’re trying to raise consciousness. Let people know, subtly, without breaking the Veil, that there’s more to the world than they think.”
Aurelia nods, finishing her flute. “Yes, yes. There’s a lot of that. Glimpses of something enticing, just beneath the surface. With just enough covering it to keep the censors off.”
Elithora nods slowly to both. “I like that. I think you have to speak … an appropriate level of truth to the audience. They need an art form that makes sense to them and has resonance. There are hurtful lies and then there are ‘lies breathed through silver.’”
Elithora gasps in mock surprise. “Aurie you are a devious mind mage, reading my very thoughts! Yes please.”
She smiles excitedly. “Yes, that’s it exactly! We have to, you know, put it out there in code. And with some, you know, some soap opera and some violence and a bit of this…” she tugs down on her neckline, laughing. But we think if people are more aware, they’re more likely to Awaken. And Vancouver is filling up with the Awakened. I don’t want to jinx it and say it’s working, but…" she shrugs.
Elithora laughs in mock scandal. “Rhetoric in the modern age needs any advantages it can get!”
Aurelia blushes and turns away. “Right, champagne.”
Sacerdote stands. “Would you describe yourself as a man of…faith?”
Sinon considers for a moment before speaking. “I believe that Paradoxes Strengthen the Abyss as Punishment Answers Pride. That Sins for a Just End Grant Wisdom to the Awakened. That Merit Must Guide the Fallen World.”
Sacerdote turns away to face the wall for a moment. “A wise answer. Guarded. Saying what the audience likely wants to hear. Useless.” He turns around, his face moved by a passion you can’t guess at. “I’m speaking of /faith/. Real faith, the kind that moves men to great deeds.”
“I assume Jones told you of how we know one another? Of the prices paid in Marseilles? Let me be perfectly clear: I will not have my /conviction/ questioned by anyone. Not. Even. You. Epopt and councilor though you may be.” Sinon’s voice remains completely calm, but this is obviously not a good place for a starting conversation to venture with him.
The elder mage’s face falls. He seems genuinely apologetic. “I wasn’t…I wasn’t questioning your loyalty. I was hoping…” he exhales and looks into the distance for a moment. “You’re a good man and a good Guardian, Sinon. Keep up the good work. Jones will be in touch when we have need of you.” He turns away.
Sinon stands to leave. As he reaches for the door he turns back to the old man. He speaks with an unusual amount of hesitation. “There was a television program filmed here 20 years ago. The main character had a poster that said ‘I /want/ to believe.’ The truth is… after Jones and I killed El… eliminated the Seer threat… well if the mission is for nothing… if the Hieromagus is not real… Then we /are/ the monsters they name us.” (I edited this a bit—i didn’t feel like i got across quite what i wanted in play, so this might be more what Sinon /thought/ he said.)
Carson leads Blackjack out to his car. He beeps it open, and once the two of you are in, tears somewhat recklessly down the downtown streets. “We’re goin’ to the Sheraton. We’ll probably be keepin’ them someplace like that. It ain’t real prison, not really, man. I mean, it sucks, but you know. It’s only for a little while.”
“The historian in me…well the less said of that perhaps the better.”
Carson looks over at you oddly, fingers drumming the top of his Stetson as it rests on the seat between you. “Nah, man, I like history. I mean, you can tell, right? What’s on your mind? I’m not a, a superior officer here man. I’m just in the trenches, same as you.”
“They are being held on suspicion. Evidence to the contrary. The Free Council sees this as a wedge issue. And they will drive it. Perhaps win. Making the apostates into a symbol. The Guardians will not take this well. And symbols have power. And targets on their back. Unless Khatsalano maintains that balance…but he will not.”
Carson nods. “Yeah, the old man’s…well, he’s tired of the game. He’s a master now, you know? Has been for a while. And word round the campfire is that he’s getting ready to take the next step. Maybe he just don’t care about this stuff anymore.”
“So the balance will fall apart. Carson, I am oath-sworn to the Order. To obey the lawful orders of the Consilium. But I can see this becoming a situation that will become grey and quickly. If that happens Carson, I suggest you have a bug out plan.” Takes a breath. “That sounded too much like a threat. I apologize. I am…angry. But do have a bug out plan in case the Guardians decide that a good symbol is a dead symbol.”
Carson chuckles uncomfortably as you speak. “You, uh…really think it can get that bad, huh? Well, I got me a ranch in…well, suppose I should start keeping that on the down low now, huh? Anyway…we’re here.”
Aurelia & Elithora
Aurelia hunts for the mystic open bar. She eventually finds it—it serves a collection of beverages best described as “eclectic.”
Aurelia smiles at the bartender. “You wouldn’t happen to know what Valentina likes, would you?”
The bartender smiles widely. “A fan, huh? She asked for a Dom Perignon last time she was here.”
“Oh, champagne, huh?” Aurelia looks a bit crestfallen. “Well, I suppose I need three flutes of the bubbly then. I don’t suppose the good stuff is free?”
The bartender nods. “It’s all paid for, lady! Knock yourself out.”
Aurelia grins “Sweet! Better yet, could I get the whole bottle?”
He disappears through the back door and returns with a bottle dripping with condensation. “Yeah, just don’t go breaking it, okay? We gotta clean up afterward.”
back with Eli and Valentina
Elithora waves a hand dismissively. “I could overlook a lot of thickness for a little hair of that dog.”
Elithora demands any sordid details on Valentina’s dishy hunky co-star while Aurelia is bringing champagne.
She tells the mystagogue all about Mike Ledford, who plays Joachim, the werewolf. “He’s a sweet guy but oh my god he is thick. Like, in the head. He tries so hard but it’s about all he can do to memorize a script…” She laughs at “hair of the dog.” “Oh, god.” She leans in. “He did bite me once….”
The two Arrows pull in to the lot at the Sheraton. He leads you up to the third floor, where the apostates are gathered in a private suite under the eye of some other Arrows you don’t recognize.
“I may just be being paranoid and angry.” Blackjack says, nodding to them.
One of the Arrows opens the door and lets them in. Loki is smoking a joint in the corner. Arrowsmith and Memoranda are sitting on the bed, watching reruns. She gets up and regards you, her lip trembling. “We’ve heard.”
“I came to tell you myself. I am sorry. I will not tell you what choice to make. But if you decide on Exile I will understand. And any aid I can offer in either choice is yours. You surrendered to me, and because of me you are in this position. I regret that it lead to this.”
She looks down. “It’s okay, BJ. We’ve talked and decided…we’re going to stay. And we’re going to turn out fine and we’re going to rub it in these assholes’ noses.” Arrowsmith nods and chimes in. “Nobody’s going anywhere. That’s the easy way out. This city obviously has worse problems than a few diseased homeless.”
He looks at Memo for a long moment before nodding with a bit of pride. “I am pleased to see that I was right about you.” Looking at the rest of the group. “But there is somethings I know that you should before you make a final decision. Your fate has become…political. The Guardians see you as a threat and I believe they will do their best to extend the three months. And the Free Council sees you as a cause celeb. I am not sure their fighting will end at words. You may be caught in the middle.”
Memo and Arrowsmith look at each other and nod. “I’m okay with it if you are,” he says. She swallows and nods. “…Yeah. Besides, if we run, it’ll just look worse for whoever stays, right? We’ll be careful, BJ. I promise. And…thank you.” Her eyes start to water. “Oh god, I’m a /dork./” She turns away. “Look, come visit soon, okay? Right now I just…wanna watch cartoons.”
“No. You just made a brave decision.” Blackjack reaches out and touching her shoulder. “I will be back tomorrow. Do any of you need anything? Food? Music? Books? Movies? I’m not sure what they will allow me to bring in but I will try.”
The other Arrow clears his throat. “Uh, you can bring whatever, we’ll just need to examine any items briefly before passing them on.”
She looks up. “Books sound nice. And PB Twix.” Arrowsmith chimes in. “Books. Any good movies you know.”
Loki looks up, bleary-eyed. “Some dank bud, bro. Or some brews!”
“I will bring an assortment.” The Talon looks to the Arrow guards. “Is she allowed arms for practice and training?”
They nod. “With supervision, yes.”
“You are here. Will you supervise her training in my absence?”
Carson nods. “Yeah, uh…you can come by and train her too sometimes. They’ll be allowed to, you know, exercise and whatnot.”
Blackjack reaches into his pocket and carefully pulls out his carry Glock. Fingers not near the trigger. “While I am away, I want you to practice disassembling and cleaning this.” Offering it to the guards to check for hidden magic.
The guards set the gun and magazines gingerly on the dresser. “We’ll let her have it as soon as it’s been checked over, sir.” Carson turns to the door. “Alright, BJ. I think they’re about wrapping up back at the lodge. You want a ride back?”
“If you do not mind. I would appreciate it.” He then takes out a pair of magazines. “And reloading these.” Offering them to the guards as well.
“No man, I don’t mind. You’re a brother in arms.” The two of you walk down to the parking lot. “She means a lot to you, huh?” It’s not really a question. He adjusts his Stetson. “Will you feel better if I tell you I’ll do my best to make sure she’s okay?”
“I swore an oath that she was worthy of being an Arrow. And I was right.” If he’s perceptive he might pick up on the sentence being a bit of a personal insult to BJ.
Carson meets his gaze and nods once, slowly.
Aurelia & Elithora; Sinon
Aurelia returns with her prize.
Elithora raises her eyebrows with a conspiratorial look at Valentina and then laughs delightedly at Aurelia’s triumph. “The good stuff, no less!”
“Oh, my!” She holds out her flute. “Aurelia, you’re a real problem solver.” She giggles.
Aurelia grins, fumbling with the cork. “It’s what I do!”
Elithora bumps her hip against Aurelia, inadvertently nudging her toward Valentina. “You resourceful little minx! That’s excellent.”
In the distance we see Sinon come back from the Hall and head immediately over to the drinks. He downs two flutes—apparently wishing that he could forget how to eliminate drunkenness with a thought.
Valentina points the rim of her glass at the bar. “Oh, isn’t that your cabal mate over there? He doesn’t look very happy. I hope Sacerdote didn’t bite his head off. It was so brave of him to stand up like he did.”
Aurelia continues grinning as the bump causes her to nearly drop the champagne. Luckily she catches the bottle. “Eli stop! I’ll drop it!”
The cork pops out of the bottle as she catches it, beaning Valentina in the nose. “Someone should go tell him…OW!” She drops her glass.
Elithora freezes, her face a perfectly balanced mix of amusement and horror.
Aurelia gasps “OH SHIT”
Sinon flags down the bartender. “Four Roses. Single Barrel. Neat.” He gets his drink and turns toward the mystagogues just as the cork fires.
Elithora minutely adjusts Time and opens her palm to allow the cork to bounce straight into her hand. She looks at the cork in her hand, then looks back up at Valentina. “Uh.”
Valentina blinks at the hand and the cork right in front of her nose. “I, uh…good catch!” She dissolves into laughter. “Oh my god, that’s great.”
“My makeup girl will be sending you a giant box of chocolates and enough flowers to fill your front room.”
Aurelia just kind of looks shocked, champagne bottle in hand bubbling over and dripping onto her dress “Oh god I’m sorry… I almost…”
Sinon walks over to join his cabal mates. He looks over at Elithora. “Nice… catch.”
Elithora starts to turn to Aurelia with a lifted flute and then notices the bottle.
“Oh no, your /dress/…” Valentina grabs a handkerchief and begins trying to mop up the worst of it from Aurelia’s dress.
Aurelia just sort of freezes and looks at Elithora haplessly.
“Oh, hi, uh…!” Valentina looks at Sinon while she pats away the champagne from Aurelia. “Sorry, it’s escaping me right now.”
“Aurie!” she says and lifts the bottle away, angling it to let the runoff pour into her own flute to prevent delicious spillage.
Elithora hands her now-full flute to Sinon and instructs him to make himself by drinking it. She takes Aurelia’s and Valentina’s flutes while they deal with the dress situation, carefully filling both while pinching them together in one hand. And you guys thought I only learned history in college.
“No, you don’t have to do that, please, it’s fine. It’ll come out. Champagne doesn’t stain, right?” Aurelia looks to Elithora for confirmation
Elithora replies, “Uhh. We can get it to a dry cleaner ASAP, don’t worry.” She regards her own discarded flute that Sinon has set down and the two she now holds.
Sinon downs the flute, turns and sets it on the nearest surface. e then looks around to make sure no other Guardians can see before calling on the spirit of Aurelia’s dress to help with the drying.
Aurelia’s dress warms up and feels suddenly much drier and more pleasant.
Eli delegates the bottle to Sinon and holds out one flute between Aurelia and Valentina. “Here, you two work on this one.” She sips from the other flute and regards Aurelia for a brief moment with a raised eyebrow.
Aurelia looks a bit flabbergasted, completely out of her element “I’m sorry, please, here, you should have this. I got it for you. I mea us. I mean All of us. Here. At the table I mean.” She holds out the flute, desperately trying not to make eye contact.
Valentina takes a long sip from the flute Elithora has offered and then passes it to Aurelia, a bit of her lipstick on the rim. She smiles. “I can see why everyone’s talking about your cabal. You’re interesting compan – oh.” She looks behind your group. “Impresario is giving me that look of his. Secret cabal meeting time.” She moves away, miming a phone with finger and thumb and mouthing “call me sometime!”
Sinon looks from the actress back to the mystagogues. “So, I see the two of you were busy having… fun… out here.”
Aurelia kind of gulps then sips the champagne, trying not to smudge anyone’s lipstick. “If you call that fun!” She plops herself heavily on a chair, looking worse for wear.
Elithora regards Aurelia for a moment before nodding to Sinon. She can’t help but tease, “Hey, I think Aurelia has real Man In Black potential. Did you see that shot she took? I mean, even BJ would have been impressed by the accuracy. POW!”
Sinon sits down next to Aurelia. “Personally, I would have much preferred an evening dealing with abyssal entities or Seer infiltrators.”
Aurelia nods. “Yeah, it’s funny but that felt less, uh, stressful.”
Blackjack enters the room and nods to Carson. “Thank you. If I offered any offense tonight I apologize.” He rejoins his Cabal.
Elithora pats Aurelia on the shoulder while taking the Dom bottle from Sinon and giving it a swig. She offers it to BJ as he walks up. “Man, where’d you disappear off to?”
The Arrow declines the bottle. “To speak with Memo and the others. I owed her that.” He clears his throat. “I have something I should have discussed with you all earlier.”
Elithora sighs at his tone of voice and sits down next to the others, not yet relinquishing the bottle. “What’s up?”
Aurelia looks up “Cabal meeting?”
“I applied for and was accepted as the Cabal’s banner warden. We need a sigil of some kind.” You might almost hear some sheepishness. Some people rebel by breaking things. BJ shows his with more duty.
Sinon finishes his bourbon as Blackjack speaks. “It is role for which you more than qualify. Once we have agreed on the Rights, a sigil should be easy enough to design.”
Blackjack nods at Sinon. “I should have asked. But I was…thinking of other things.”
“Oh. Man, you always seem serious. I thought another abyssal plague was about to break up. That should be no problem.” Aurelia looks worn down.
“All I ask is that you all not set me up for multiple duels in the same day.” Blackjack replies with a wry tone.
“I suppose a signifier would be in our wheelhouse.” Aurelia seems much relieved by the more familiar turn to semiotics.
Elithora suddenly looks serious. “We wouldn’t set you up for multiple duels in a day. Aurelia would take half of them. Corks at ten paces.”
Aurelia blushes from embarrassment. “Oh my god this night.”
SInon chuckles at the mystagogues for a second before speaking. “Since we are bringing up cabal business… I am a Guardian, but the order holds that the role of the cabal in awakened society comes first. I will have to keep secrets from time to time, but I want all of you to know that it will never be at the expense of us as a group.”