At the Edge of All Things

Session 4

Welcome to the Working Week

“Now that your picture’s in the paper being rhythmically admired
and you can have anyone that you have ever desired,
all you gotta tell me now is why, why, why, why.
Welcome to the workin’ week.
Oh I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you.
Welcome to the workin’ week.
You gotta do it till you’re through it so you better get to it."
- Elvis Costello

It’s been a few days since four neophyte mages met up for the first time and, working together, recovered a stash of stolen Tass, and that feat has apparently made an impression on their elders, as each of them has specifically been asked to be sure and attend tonight’s Consilium and be prepared to answer questions about their experience.

The Consilium is being held this month in the ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel downtown, an art-deco landmark dating back to the 1930s. It’s listed as a meeting of the “Provincial Theosophic Society.” Blackjack arrives in his MG, wearing his dark suit again, adjusting the glasses on his nose as he has the valet park his car. Aurelia arrives a bit later on foot, looking “the very definition of frumpy” in a dark brown sweater and matching wool pencil skirt with some chunky boots chosen more for comfort than fashion. Sinon arrives in a rather nondescript import sedan, and unlike his first meeting with the rest of the cabal-in-waiting he is dressed in his normal neatly-pressed black suit. Elithora is once again driving herself in her late-model Jetta. She’s wearing a sleek black evening gown, dark wrap, small black purse and a silver necklace with a small pendant from a few centuries ago.

Blackjack nods at Sinon and inclines his head toward a quiet alcove. Sinon pauses for a moment, looking around, then moves over while Blackjack casts a quick Control Sound cone of silence.

Blackjack: “The cabal we encountered last week may have attracted the interest of the seers. After the council finished with the clinic, a team of professionals did a thorough sweep.”
Sinon: “I know. I doubled back after being dropped off to see if they would show up. It looks like ‘Gerard’ may have been a busy boy.”
Blackjack: “I believe the council may choose to use that information to justify making an example of them. Will you speak up on the apostates’ behalf? It may gain them greater leniency then just me speaking up.”

Elithora glides in and takes Aurelia’s arm, pointing at the alcove. From outside, the alcove is totally silent. Aurelia looks taken aback but follows along into the spell’s radius. “Hello?”

Sinon: “You’re here. Good.” He turns back to BJ. “In my opinion the apostates’ actions were infinitely more subtle and restrained than the protocols used at the meet. I don’t agree with the totality of their methods, but stopping bleakscale and the risk it poses to the Veil is important as well."

Elithora: “I’m more interested in the details of this bleakscale issue than factional slapfighting. I don’t trust the apostates, but I don’t particularly trust Montesquieu at this point, either.”

Sinon: “You might have a chance at surviving yet, El.”
Blackjack shrugs: “One of them is no longer apostate.”
Aurelia: “At least a couple of them seemed like good kids.”
Elithora raises an eyebrow to Blackjack. “Opening an orphanage, are we?”
Aurelia raises an eyebrow simultaneously. “Don’t tell me you actually convinced the not-nurse.”
“Yes. I think Loki would have been interested but he is far from ready. But Memoranda swore her oath last night. Today we began training. Nothing quite like a 5 am fun run.”
Elithora gives a small, noncommittal shrug. “One ought to keep both friends and enemies close, so fair enough.”

The ballroom is huge and not close to being full, but there are still more mages in here than any of them have likely seen in one place before – four or five dozen, easily. And each of them is dressed wildly differently; there’s a tall, muscular black woman in track pants and a sleeveless shirt next to an older man in purple wizard robes.

Aurelia scans the crowd. “There are some weird ones here, huh?”

A tanned, hyper-fit white kid with blond hair and dreadlocks walks in, shirtless and covered in tribal tattoos and carrying a huge He-Man sword on his back. He steps up to the banquet table and grabs a handful of crackers before sitting down next to a prim woman in a business suit.

Sinon surveys the crowd. Montesquieu is holding a cell phone by his shoulder, barking into it above the murmur of the room as he spoons heaps of caviar onto a cracker. Carson and Lefors are sat in the audience; one seems to be telling the other a joke. Sinon also recognizes the Guardian Councilor’s provost, Jones.

Elithora: “I wonder what the line of inquiry will be tonight. Have we done any fishing in the crowd? It doesn’t feel terribly tense yet.”
Blackjack: “I have not beyond checking in with members of the order. I do not have access to the local gossip yet. Sinon, you?”
Sinon: “Not much. I’ve been given a short overview of the situation here, but no details.”
Elithora: “Let me see if the fish are biting at all.”
Aurelia shrugs. “I just got here. I hardly know anyone anyhow…”
Blackjack grimaces and adjusts his glasses. “Then perhaps we should work the floor. We can just pretend it is a donor party.”
Elithora laughs. “Anything but squeezing donors for money. I get enough of that as it is. Let’s see what’s bobbing in the stream.”

Elithora moves with poise into the crowd, trailed by an echoing scent of pressed flowers dried in a book opened in winter. The rest of the party follows, dispersing to socialize as best they can.

A thin, short-haired guy in rumpled jeans, a Weakerthans t-shirt, and black-rimmed glasses waves Elithora over. “Hey! Hey! Ella – Eli – Elithora, right?” He smiles shyly and offers a hand. “Our newest researcher. I’m Sterling.”
Eli extends her hand gracefully. “Of course, Sterling! They actually unchained you from the desk? So glad you could make it to the inquisition.”
“Well, I kind of have to. I’m Minerva’s provost. I’ve been meaning to bring you and, oh, the other one – Aurelia? – up to speed but we’ve been kind of swamped. You’ll get a chance to meet everyone tonight, though.”
“Splendid. I have a few lines of research of my own percolating. Once we have a chance to update everyone on the news, I’d like to bring some of our people to bear on this. But give me a hint, at least — what’s been going on?”
Sterling continues excitedly. “We think we’ve found some interesting leads in our Saguenay research. We might finally be on the trail of the lost country; at least, if Sacerdote and the Guardians don’t get us completely shut down. That mana you recovered was absolutely critical, by the way. Very…oh, hold on, I have to take this.”

Sinon introduces himself to several people, but he has two strikes against him: he’s new, and he’s a Guardian. Some people are polite about it and others aren’t.

A short, balding man in rimless glasses grabs Blackjack’s elbow, points upward, and starts discoursing at incredible velocity about the mystical patterns inscribed in the seemingly innocent ballroom ceiling.

“Have you tried the canapé?” Sinon asks the plant in the corner. He’s decided to change tactics and observe the room from its edge.

Aurelia meets a pale, dark-haired woman in a conservative dress and jacket that nonetheless absolutely reek of money. She introduces herself as Friday, and is full of questions about what happened the other night – apparently the Consilium is abuzz with rumors about Aurelia and the other newcomers.
Aurelia smiles congenially. “Wednesday, was it? I’m still not sure exactly what happened. What about you? What do you do?”
The woman smiles. “Friday. I’m a Sentinel. I asked Carson and Lefors to spill the beans but they wouldn’t say anything. I heard there were Seers involved!”
Aurelia looks taken aback. “There were? That’s news to me. All I saw were some confused kids trying to do a good thing the wrong way.”
“I heard there were men with guns, and…oh, they’re here! It’s starting!”

The conversation dies down, and people toward the front of the room stand up. From a side entrance, five Mages file in and stand behind the long table at the front of the room.

Aurelia whispers, “I’m new, can you give me the skinny on those guys?”

Each of the five stands behind a chair draped with the Atlantean sigil of one of the Paths. From left to right, they run Acanthus, Moros, Obrimos, Mastigos, and Thyrsus.

“It’s the Council! Well, four of them. Khatsalano decided not to show up, AGAIN. That’s his provost, Traceur…”

The man behind the seat of the Lunargent Thorn is tall and thin – at least, judging from what you can see under the robes. He has somewhat Asian features, an aquiline nose, and is graying at the temples. His plain gray robe bears the sigil of the Guardians of the Veil.

Next from the left is the seat of the Lead Coin; the man behind that is a lanky black man with a shaved head who appears to be in his late thirties. He’s dressed in a dazzling white suit and wears a set of rimless glasses. Blackjack recognizes him as Traceur, the Provost of the Adamantine Arrow councilor.

Then comes the seat of the Golden Key. It’s the center seat and the tallest, and clearly belongs to the city’s Hierarch, Rattenbury. The man looks to be in his early sixties, with a craggy face and a full head of gray hair. He wears an old-fashioned double-breasted suit and carries a golden staff topped with a huge red gem.

To his left, behind the seat of the Stone Book, is a short, round-shouldered woman in her late forties or early fifties. She has short brown hair, enormous glasses that take up about a third of her face, and a grandmotherly mien. Her shapeless white robe bears the Mysterium sigil on it.

Lastly, behind the seat of the Iron Gauntlet, is an Asian woman – although the newcomers’ first instinct is to say “girl.” She can’t be more than twenty-five and doesn’t quite crack five feet, even with her thick-soled boots. She has a red beret over shoulder-length hair, black-rimmed glasses, and a red neckerchief.

Friday leans in to Aurelia. “Wow, Janis really turned up the militant today. I bet we’re in for some readings from Kropotkin.”
“I think the look works for her.”

The double doors at the entrance of the ballroom open up, and the crowd grows even quieter as a figure in black robes and a skull mask strides down the center aisle and takes up position with folded arms to the left of the Council’s table. The robes are fuliginous – an utterly matte black that seems to suck light in and not let it out again – and around the figure’s waist is a belt of loose links of some gray, dull metal hammered into the shape of skulls.

Aurelia scrunches her face up. “Who’s the drama queen?”
“The Interfector. Harpocrates, god of silence. The executioner.”

“A skull mask? Someone is overdoing it.” Sinon thinks to himself. Elithora adjusts her wrap and resists the urge to peep with any mage sight at the dignitaries.

The Hierarch raises his staff. “Welcome, friends, to the sixth meeting of the one hundred and twenty-second year of the Consilium of the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. As always, we seek the guidance of the Oracles in the light of their Watchtowers.” He gestures. “Alright, let’s get comfortable.” The Councilors move to take their seats. The Hierarch, as he sits, fumbles around, trying to lean his staff up against the table; it keeps rolling off. Finally, looking peevish, he freezes it upright with a Forces spell. “Ahem. Sorry about that. Councilors, what business do we have tonight?”

The Acanthus Councilor – or rather, the the Guardian Councilor, as seems to really be the case – immediately leans forward. “I’m afraid we have a serious matter to address. Yet another breach of the Veil brought to us by reckless apostates from the gods-know-where.” Aurelia, helper of refugees, rolls her eyes at this.

The Hierarch frowns. “I was under the impression that the matter was dealt with.”

The Guardian shakes his head. “There have been further developments. And as I have reiterated for months, this is an ongoing issue. We can expect to see only more of these incidents unless we address the root….”

The Mysterium councilor holds up a hand. “I don’t think we need Fate magic to know what you’re going to say next, Sacerdote.” A low chuckle runs through some quarters of the crowd. “If there’s a trial we need to have, then can we just have it? Let’s save the latest iteration of this argument for another time.”

Traceur, the Adamantine Arrow provost, has a fixed and uncomfortable smile, and is drumming his fingers along the table. As not-actually-a-Councilor, and for that matter not actually a Moros, his position is somewhat odd and he clearly would rather not have to weigh in on anything.

The Hierarch rumbles agreement with the woman from the Mysterium. “Yes, I think we should probably just get on with the trial. I call forward the Sentinels who managed it – uh, was it Horatius? No.” He checks a paper. “Carson and Lefors. The dynamic duo, yes. Come on forward and tell us about what happened.”

The odd couple the party met at the clinic, the tall, rangy Albertan in blue coveralls and the short, jokey Asian man in sunglasses, come forward and stand before the Council table. They look at each other for a moment, then Lefors shrugs and steps forward. “Uh, five nights ago, we received a call from Montesquieu, the Hierarch’s provost, informing us that a purchase of Tass from a, uh, outside supplier, had been compromised and stolen. Montesquieu had been meeting with some neophytes and he had put them on the trail of the thieves, I guess, uh, as a test? Anyway, they found them." A pause. "Er, to clarify, the neophytes found the thieves. They were operating out of a clinic on the Downtown East Side, over by Hastings, and had apparently stolen the Tass to, uh, try and do something to help local homeless who were afflicted with ‘bleakscale,’ an Abyssal infection. The neophytes engaged in a brief duel with one of the thieves before rounding up the rest. Carson and I secured the Tass, the majority of which was still intact, and took the three apostates in for questioning.”

The Hierarch smiles and leans back. “That sounds remarkably straightforward for once. And these apostates, are they here tonight?”

Carson clears his throat. “They’re not, like, ‘here’ here. But we can bring them in whenever you’re ready.”

Sacerdote smiles. “I think our Hierarch would like to address this and move on, so yes, let’s bring them in.”

Elithora glances toward the entrance. The doors are shut. Two people who have the air of Sentinels are standing guard next to them. Then there’s a noise from the side of the room, and a Portal opens up.

Memoranda, Arrowsmith, and Loki walk through, followed by a bald man in a karate gi. He nods to the Hierarch as the Portal closes behind him. “The accused. They go by the shadow names Memoranda, Loki, and Arrowsmith. …Not like the band, he wants it made clear.”

Blackjack gives Memoranda a nod of support. She meets his gaze and smiles weakly.

Over the next couple of minutes, a list of official charges is read out, with theft of Consilium property and use of vulgar magic before Sleepers receiving the most emphasis. When asked how they plead, Arrowsmith steps forward. “We’re guilty. We don’t contest the facts of what happened, nor do we care to. We wanted to help people, and we were helping people. If I had it to do over again, I would.”

Sacerdote frowns. “Casting vulgar magic in front of Sleepers? You’d jeopardize all Awakened, all magic, again like that? Perhaps this is not the defense you imagine it to be.”

The Free Council Councilor, the girl in the red beret, leans forward. “They were helping Sleepers and thought they were being attacked. Nobody in this room would have done anything any differently! You’re holding them to an insane standard!”

The Mysterium councilor nods assent. “Bleakscale is potentially very serious. If that’s what it is, we should be focusing on uncovering its source and putting a stop to it. In a life or death situation, casting a vulgar spell or two in front of, well, some hoboes, frankly, doesn’t strike me as terribly significant.”

From the Adamantine Arrow seat, Traceur clears his throat. “I, uh…why don’t we ask the neophytes what they think? They were there before the Sentinels. They were present for the theft /and/ at the apprehension. It would be a mistake to overlook their testimony.”

Blackjack looks like he just swallowed a lemon. He’s not looking forward to this.

The Hierarch nods. “Very sensible. Come forward, uh…” Traceur leans in and whispers in his ear. “Blackjack, Aurelia, Elithora, and Simon. Simon? Sinon. Sorry.”
The neophytes rise and head forward. Aurelia stands up and gives Friday a weak smile. “That’s my cue…” Friday gives her a reassuring shoulder pat.

“If it pleases the Council …” Elithora begins with a small bow.
The Hierarch pulls a pair of silver bifocals from his pocket. “It does please the Council, young lady. Or at least, me. Why don’t you tell us about that night?”
Elithora: “We were present when the tass was magically stolen from our … commercial intermediary. As this was naturally of great concern, we went to investigate with all due speed and discretion. The three mages" – she carefully avoids using the word apostates – "were in fact in possession of it, using it in the process of an … independent investigation of their own.”

At “commercial intermediary,” one wag in the audience calls back “you can say ‘skeezy pothead’ if you want!”

Elithora thinks fondly of her three dots in Composure and continues, unruffled, “The propriety of our fuel sources is surely a concern for another time. Regarding these three, there is no denying that they were operating outside of proper protocol and jurisdiction. Nevertheless, their discovery should be of concern to us all, and frankly their compliance thus far commends them to the Council’s use. In fact, one of these has already begun steps …” She gestures to Memoranda and glances to BJ.

Traceur clears his throat. “I can vouch for this. Memoranda has asked to join the Adamantine Arrow. And in my capacity as First Talon, I agreed. She is no longer an apostate.”

Sacerdote frowns slightly. “I’m curious what Khatsalano would say, were he here…”

Rattenbury harrumphs. “But he’s not, is he? Go on, young lady.”

Elithora quickly interjects, “Even the firmest proponent of mage discretion would have to admit that these three wayward mages are already seeing the error of their ways and falling into line…”

Elithora’s perfume just-so-subtly infuses the room with the smell of flowers at midsummer. “Perhaps the council could devise a sort of probation to assess the mages to your liking while making use of their studies into this bleakscale, which would only be fair for them to share with our own scholars.”

Blackjack interjects: “Which brings us to another matter involving the bleakscale. After the council mages searched and cleaned up their clinic, a second group entered the clinic and searched it professionally. It is my understand those searchers are believed to be working for the Seers. If that is the case, given the cabal’s statements that they expected an attack from the Seers, that means this cabal has found itself in opposition to them. To me, that does speak rather well of them.”

The Hierarch leans forward. "Hold on a moment. What? A second group? Seers? Where the hell did this come from?”

Blackjack: “I defer to the Guardians on this matter. I believe they can explain their findings better then I.”

Sacerdote looks like he swallowed a lemon. “Yes, well, we were going to address this shortly. It seems that after the Sentinels cleaned the scene and departed, a youth gang broke into the clinic, ostensibly for drugs, but carried professional-level forensic equipment and conducted a thorough search.”

Aurelia speaks up. “They could have sympathetic links to all of the accused, as well as all of we neophytes, and the investigating sentinels. This is not good at all.”

Sacerdote nods. “Indeed. Though at the moment I’m sure this council will forgive me for wondering how a neophyte had access to privileged information that was supposed to be confined to the Guardians.” He stares at Blackjack. Traceur does his best to sink into the council chair.

“Anyway,” Sacerdote clears his throat. “The bodies of two transients have since turned up the city morgue, victims of routine stabbings. But our contacts noted the stabbings were carried out with ritual knives. They were interrogated and sacrificed for Mana. The Seers heard of the commotion at the clinic from all that ‘harmless’ vulgar spellcasting.” And now it’s Arrowsmith’s turn to look pained.

Sacerdote begins standing out of his chair. “This is what we continually warn this Consilium of! Magic, even in the most well-meaning hands, is inherently dangerous, and without discipline, the slightest slip will bring Seers, Banishers, or worse things upon our heads! And not just ours, but the Sleepers some of you profess to value so highly!”

Sinon steps forward. “If I might have a word, councillor?”

Sacerdote nods. “Ah, our newest Guardian.” He sinks back into his chair, catching his breath, and gestures. “Please, do speak.”

“I am a neophyte in this city, but some of you know me by reputation. The facts of this case are clear. Did the apostates steal the tass? Yes. Did the apostates use vulgar magic in front of sleepers? Yes. If the facts alone are sufficient to sentence the apostates then the course is clear. However…if the the facts alone are clear then we must also prosecute your Provost, Hierarch Rattenbury. After all, he sanctioned regular use of vulgar magic not 100 feet away from a major highway. It was, in fact, the showy usage of the space arcana that allowed the apostates to abscond with the tass in the first place. I do not agree with the totality of the apostates’ methods, but they showed infinite restraint in comparison to the ‘contractor’ we all choose to sanction. Further, if Bleakscale is indeed present in the city, then their use of vulgar magic was in fact in service of the Veil and not against it.”

Montesquieu stands up. “I want to make it clear that I didn’t ‘sanction’ anything. Pitch stands outside this Consilium and we’ve agreed to tolerate him for reasons that I don’t need to belabor.”

Rattenbury holds up a hand. “Relax. Nobody’s blaming you for what Pitch does. But our new friend does have a point.”

Sacerdote looks deeply unhappy at Sinon’s testimony. Sinon continues: “Make no mistake, the Seers are here. We all need to make wiser use of the gifts awakening has granted us. In this case, I would suggest leniency as these apostates may prove an asset.”

BJ ponders whose boss is more annoyed with them, his or Sinon’s.

Rattenbury stands. “Judgment is for the Council alone to make, not for the Hierarch or anyone else. But it is my privilege to set the night’s agenda, and I think we’re going to defer the sentencing of these…” he waves his hand vaguely – “sort-of apostates until next session. The Bleakscale is an infinitely more pressing issue.”

Sinon leans toward Blackjack and mutters, “I’ve done you a favor. Do not forget it.”

Rattenbury continues: “I urge the Wise present tonight to lay aside other issues for the time being. I expect the various Order heads to come to me with plans for how we shall handle this infestation within the next two days.”

The apostates look almost sick with relief. Arrowsmith sits down on the tiled floor and exhales. Loki jumps up and pumps his fist. “Fuck YEAH, bro!”

Aurelia and BJ both shoot Loki a glare

“Might we be allowed to assist with looking into the bleakscale issue?" Elithora asks the council. "There’s some research done for us that needs verification, and clearly we need to seek out the root cause of it as well as its vectors of contagion.”

Rattenbury looks at Elithora indulgently. “You very well might. First, though, there’s a matter of bookkeeping to attend to.” He gently taps his staff on the tiled floor for silence and it echoes around the room in brilliant surround sound. Forces magic; it’s better than a twenty thousand dollar amp. "We have before us tonight four neophytes. New to Vancouver or to the Awakened life itself. They have chosen their Orders, but we all of us, from the eldest Archmagisters on down, need friends and allies who come before politics. I ask each of you – Elithora, Sinon, Blackjack, and Aurelia – you have worked together and in one night accomplished much. Do you consent to form Vancouver’s newest Cabal?”

Sinon gives a single nod.
Elithora: “Of course.”
Aurelia shrugs. “These guys are pretty alright, I guess.”
BJ: “I do.”

Rattenbury nods. “Do the Councilors consent?”

The girl in the red beret leans forward eagerly. “Janis of the Iron Gauntlet consents.”

Traceur raises a hand. “Traceur, speaking for Khatsalano of the Lead Coin, consents.”

The woman in the big glasses nods. “Minerva of the Stone Book consents.”

Sacerdote pauses almost imperceptibly. “…Sacerdote of the Lunargent Thorn consents.”

Rattenbury smiles. “Now comes the hard part. I expect you four to come up with a Cabal name before next meeting.” He wags a finger. “And it had better be good!”

The evening moves toward other business, and the new cabal return to their seats. “Well, that was something,” Elithora sighs in relief.
BJ: “It could have gone much worse.”

Aurelia returns to Friday. “So… that happened.”
Friday blinks. “You went from 0 to ‘Sacerdote hates you’ in record time. Good work!”
Aurelia mock raises the roof. “Woo. I guess I should catch up with my new cabal then. What do you think of the name ‘Mystery Club?’”

After some more parliamentary business, the Councilors retire to the back room to take care of business. Minerva notes that Finn will be presenting his findings on geomantic mana-collection systems in the next suite if anyone’s interested. Janis says the Free Council is holding an afterparty at a warehouse, and holds up a stack of flyers.

Sterling approaches the mystagogues and asks for a moment of their time. Elithora nods. “Naturally. What is it?”
Aurelia: “Geomancy sounds fun. You want to sit in on that? Oh hi, uh… what was your name again?”
“Sterling. I’m Minerva’s Provost.” He offers his hand. “As our newest mystagogues, I’m wondering if you two would be interested – in between dealing with Cabal business, of course – in helping the Order with our ongoing investigation into Saguenay.”
Elithora: “I’m intrigued, Sterling. I’d like to look into this.”
Aurelia looks a bit puzzled. "Sorry, Sterling… what’s Saguenay? I’m sorry, I must seem like a complete airhead tonight. I’m certainly interested in helping the order, of course!”
“A myth. The Canadian El Dorado. A lost city of treasure that lured explorers back and forth across the North. We’re uncovering bits of evidence that suggest that it was a real place, possibly antedating the migration across the Bering Strait. A colony of Atlantis…or the lost city itself. The Order has been digging up odd artifacts and tantalizing legends for years now, and we’re in the process of trying to put some of the clues together at last. We could use every hand we could get.”
Elithora shrugs to Aurelia. “Could be a wild griffon chase, but what’s the harm?”
Aurelia: “Sounds like fun to me!”
Sterling claps his hands together. “Excellent! Uh, when you guys have settled in, register with Finn, the Herald. He keeps track of everyone. Bike messenger. He’ll let me know how to get in touch with you.” He wanders off to the buffet table.
Elithora: “Could be interesting, at least. You listening to this geomantic presentation? We ought to begin buttering up Minerva now …”

BJ looks at Sinon “We could complete the trifecta tonight and make ourselves so very popular by attending that Free Council party.”
Sinon: “I might be more popular with them right now than with Sacerdote.” Right then, Harpocrates walks by and, through his death’s head mask, shoots Sinon a look. He nods at Sinon, almost imperceptibly and under pounds of costume, but it conveys something…approving.
BJ: "So how is Sacerdote likely to express that to you? I mean I have to spar with Traceur tomorrow, so I know what I am in for.”
Sinon: “I don’t know, unfortunately. He is Acanthus, so its possible he just sent his expression to yesterday.”

The bald man in the karate gi moves up to Sinon and Blackjack, bowing slightly. He’s dressed like a Shaolin monk but looks like a white dude in his fifties, albeit in terrific shape. BJ rises and bows back to the older man.

“I am Blackjack and this is Sinon.” Offers his hand.
“I am Horatius. The prisoners spoke to me about you two. It seems you’ve acquitted yourselves well twice now, in both combat and words. This may be premature, but I ask that you both consider the path of the Sentinel. Our ranks are fewer than they should be, and this Council needs…more forthright men.” He speaks slowly and haltingly, like someone who’s almost forgotten how. His palms are one giant callus. After saying his piece, he bows again and backs off.
Blackjack blinks. “That…was unexpected.”
Sinon looks at Blackjack. “I think that may be more your gig than mine. ‘Forthright’ does not come naturally to me.”
Blackjack: “Always good to step outside your comfort zone from time to time. You might have to impersonate an Arrow member one day.”

Aurelia smiles conspiratorily. “So, Eli, what do you think of the name ‘Mystery Club.’ Sounds fun, right?”
Elithora adopts of a look of grave contemplation. “I don’t know, I thought ‘the Elithora Fan Club’ had a certain grandeur to it …” As the curtain drops, Elithora heads off to the dry lecture, leaving behind the scent of spring’s first blossoms.



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