The Awakened City

The Awakened City

New Jerusalem

London is a place of power — the whole city leaks magical energy from its streets, from ancient buildings, from the river with its great, proud spirits. London is the Heart of Albion. The magicians know it’s the Heavenly City, here on Earth, Jerusalem.

The magicians of London hold to a tradition of high magic; the London Consilium has in its library the secrets of spells, beyond the capacity of any living mage, that could open the earth and swallow the city, that can cause rains of blood and swarms of angels. Theirs is the right to a heritage of raw magical power, a union of arts the likes of which the world has not seen in any other place. The world won’t see it again, either, for it’s all under lock and key.

But even under the watchful eye of the Hierarch, London is a city of power. It is the second most powerful Consilium in Britain, behind only the ancient and awful might of Glastonbury. The Awakened come here, and the Awakened grow powerful here. There are most 1st Degree Masters of the Arcana in London than almost any place else in the world, and 2nd and 3rd Degree Masters are not unheard of. Some say that it’s due to the City itself, that merely being in London grants the power that once ruled an Empire. Others have a more prosaic, though no less idealized vision, that it is because of the people. Mages come to London from the world around, to study and grow and network, and in so doing grow strong.

The Occulted History of London

London is an old city. It has been the city of magic since Roman days, and through it all, the city has had an arcane history few can rival. Nevertheless, in the modern day, three events still resonate in Awakened memory.

The first is the Great Fire of London in 1666, when much of the city was consumed in an inferno of staggering proportions. Though the histories claim that very few people died, the fact is that the fire was hot enough to cremate bone and level entire city blocks. It wiped the slate clean for London, the cleansing fire destroying countless records and grimoires, and consuming the London Consilium. The Hierarch and all but one of his Councilors died that night, and Mysterium scholars have spent the last three hundred years trying to reassemble the knowledge and power lost that night.

The second is the Nameless Wars of the 19th century. Though the modern Free Council was formed on New Year’s Eve of 1899, the Nameless Cabals had been skirmishing with the Consilium of London for decades before. The Nameless Cabals fought to overthrow the Atlantean Orders, and though much of the conflict was a bloodless game of shadows and secrets, this was not always the case. Few mages in London at the dawn of the new century didn't have a friend, a mentor, an apprentice perish in the War, and memories run deep in the Consilium, especially among the Ungula Draconis, the Adamantine Arrow that bore the brunt of the fighting.

Following the Great Refusal, when the Free Council was formed, the Libertines were integrated into the London Consilium, and their final integration in 1906 marked the end of the Nameless Wars in southern Britain and led to a number of changes in the way that the London Consilium was organized. The most notable of these was the reservation of one Council seat for each of the Pentacle Orders.

The third and final great event of London's recent history is the October Coup of 1914. The Edwardian Era, depending on who one asked, was either a golden age of Awakened existence in London, or else an extended slide into decadence and abdication of duties. The Mysterium ruled the city then, under Lord Arthur Talbot, who went by the Shadow Name of Redcrosse, and theirs was an academic sort of rule, where the many Cabals of London were left to do as they pleased. Learning and scholarship flourished, and many Artifacts were uncovered and Rotes devised in those years. But it was also the time of Aleister Crowley and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, of Thelema and the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society. Atlantean lore was filtering into mortal society more than it had at any period since the Regency, and many of the Awakened of London met openly as practicing magicians or members of metaphysical societies.

The truth of the October Coup has been lost to the march of time and the active propagandizing of all participants, but the story went something like this. The Guardians of the Veil began to plot in secret amongst themselves, incensed by what they percieved to be the casual attitude of the Mystagogues to the Precept of Secrecy, or else simply jealous of the power that could be wielded from the Hierarch's office. By means of persuasion, blackmail, and the occasional threat, the Guardians of the Veil organized a vote of no confidence in the rule of Redcrosse, securing the support of all the other orders. Hemmed in by all sides, Redcrosse stepped down, and the hidden organizer of the coup, the mage then known as Plautus, stepped from relative obscurity to the rank of Hierarch, adopting the Shadow Name of Civitas in the process.

Within a few years, the Guardians cracked down on the occultism spreading through society and instituted a much more severe code of secrecy. There was grumbling, no doubt, but Civitas's eyes and ears were everywhere, and after a few of the most recalcitrant of the Awakened quietly disappeared, Civitas's rule has gone mostly unchallenged for almost ninety years.

The Web of Government

The London Consilium is old, secretive, and torn apart by factionalism and mutual distrust. The Consilium is a viper's nest of competing loyalties and agendas, both among the Orders and within each Order as well, to the extent that individual Cabals frequently have closer links with Cabals in competing orders than with their own nominal allies and actual competitors. This is precisely the way the Hierarch of London likes it.

Structurally, the London Consilium is surprisingly liberal in its orientation, a result of compromises put in during the close of the Nameless Wars between the newly-formed Free Council and the then-Hierarch Redcrosse. There is a Prime Concord, written in 1904, which serves as a quasi-constitution for London's Awakened government, elucidating the main Gold and Silver Laws, which tried to stem the problems that arose from having two thousand years of precedent (or four hundred years of well documented laws and scattered fragments of a further sixteen hundred years). The Prime Concord can only be changed on a four of five vote.

There are four Councilors plus the Hierarch, representing the five Pentacle Orders, which is enshrined in the Prime Concord. Their task is to serve as both the judicial and the legislative branch of the London Consilium, whereas the Hierarch further serves as the executive. Each Councilor and the Hierarch has a Provost of their own Order to carry out directives. Generally speaking, the Councilor is the most politically astute member of the Order, whereas the Provost is the most magically powerful Mage that can be roped into the job. There are also Heralds (who function as ambassadors to foreign Consiliums or other supernatural organizations) and Sentinels (the enforcers and soldiers of the Consilium), who represent the Consilium as a whole and are chosen by the Hierarch, usually for the duration of a single embassy or military action, respectively.

Othern notable offices include those of Interfectors, sanctioned assassins serving the Guardians of the Veil, and Lictors, official judges and investigators belonging to the Silver Ladder. These are chosen internally by their Orders and have standing appointments.

The London Consilium holds an Open Session on the last Friday of every month at 10 PM, which is open to any of the Awakened who choose to attend. The open meeting tends to be large, unruly, and full of demagoguing, and is attended by a great many mages, as well as a few ghosts, spirits, and emissaries of both Changeling courts and the Kindred of London. There's usually a werewolf or two in attendance as well. The Open Session is a general forum for grievances and public business. There is also a Closed Session, held irregularly but usually twice a month, with only the Council and the Provosts in attendance, when the actual work of government gets done.

The Open Session meets in a boardroom in the building of the Institution of Civil Engineers near Westminster Abbey, under the cover of a 'Special Lecture' series, usually on some unimaginably dry topic such as sewer maintenance or road construction. A team of Sentinels, always with a mind mage, are directed to keep the rare onlooker away. Closed Sessions are held away from prying eyes, usually in the Highgate Citadel.

Lair: Room #319 of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Size 2, Library (Awakened History of London, Laws of London Consilium; recorded by a bound memory-spirit) 2, Occultation 3, Sanctum Gauntlet (-2, bring the Gauntlet down to 1) 2, Secrecy 1, Security 1

Hierarch: "Civitas" (Rupert Havelock Jeffries), Guardian Obrimos, 2nd Degree Master of Life and Prime
--Provost: "Seventeen" (Vincent Jeffries), Guardian Obrimos, 1st Degree Master of Forces
--Provost: "Reitia" (Lyla Talbot), Mysterium Moros, 2nd Degree Adept of Death and Time
Councilor: "Kore" (Evelyn Manning), Thearch Moros, 2nd Degree Master of Life and Death
Councilor: "Catesby" (Farid Kala), Libertine Thyrsus, 1st Degree Master of Spirit

Herald to the Edinburgh Consilium: "Cuchulainn" (Ian Tait), Guardian Thyrsus, 2nd Degree Disciple of Life and Matter
Herald to the Seelie & Unseelie Courts of London: "Marduk" (J. Ilkin Aylesworth), Libertine Acanthus, 1st Degree Master of Fate

Interfector: "Seventeen" (Vincent Jeffries), Guardian Obrimos, 1st Degree Master of Forces
Interfector: "Whim" (Ashley Saunders(?)), Guardian Moros, 1st Degree Adept of Death

Lictor: "Taws Melek" (Seth Myers), Thearch Mastigos, 2nd Degree Adept of Mind and Spirit

Note: Seventeen, Cuchulainn, and Whim were formerly Interfectors, but following December of 2005, Cuchulainn has been 'promoted' to Herald, while Seventeen and Whim are off active duty.

TheVisus Draconis

The Guardians of the Veil are the most politically powerful Order in London, and they are the largest, and they are generally thought to be the best led. But it's a giant with feet of clay, which may come tumbling down with one perfect blow.

The Guardians in London:
For the past ninety years, the Guardians have been the dominant Order within London. They were the ones that arranged for the October Coup back in 1914, and they've held power ever since. The Hierarch of London is also the political head of the Guardians of the Veil, and he has manuevered the Guardians to a position of unassailable security over the course of his tenure. Guardian Interfectors have taken over many of the duties of the Sentinels, if they don't hold both positions simultaneously. Guardians are rarely subject to Consilium sanction unless the violations are exceedingly public, and Guardians frequently have the pick of artifacts, Hallows, and other magical resources.

The Guardians of the Veil are one of the 'Ruling Two' Orders of London. In alliance with the Silver Ladder, the Visus Draconis has been consistently successful in picking off one or the other of the opposing Orders, ensuring a century of dominance despite being technically in the minority. Civitas is able to manipulate the Consilium at his liesure, or ignore it when inconvenient.

Of special note is the close relationship of the Guardians of the Veil with the Jeffries Family. The Jeffries are one of the Veiled Dynasties, a centuries old line of Proximi that trace their descent back to the time of William the Conqueror. There are close to a hundred Jeffries alive at the moment, an extended clan with fingers in business and politics, though only a handful of actual Proximi and Awakened are aware of the Supernal reality. The public Jeffries Foundation, a charitable organization, serves as the 'visible' arm of the Guardians of the Veil, dispersing money as necessary.

Membership: Their long-standing place in the center of power, along with almost a century's worth of rule by Civitas, has had a great effect on the Guardians, and not always for the better. On the one hand, the Visus Draconis has attracted more and more of the Awakened to its ranks, as to be part of the Guardians was to be part of the power structure. This has led to downright bizarre situation that the Guardians of the Veil are the most populous Order in London, with some forty or fifty active magi and nearly hundred more who pay lip service. One out of four mages in London is part of the Visus Draconis, in name or deed.

This has given the Guardians an immense base of magical power to draw upon, and a not inconsiderable amount of temporal resources as well. At the same time, however, there's been a certain lowering of the bar for new Guardians. Too many of the new Guardian mages are ambitious for ambition's sake, or careerists, or simply want a comfortable position within the main Order of London.

At the same time, the hierarchy of the Guardians of the Veil has effectively fossilized. Civitas is the leader of the Visus Draconis, and has been since before most of the membership was born. He runs the Order as he runs London, a master of bureaucratic tactics and careful politicking, and as such there's a sharp limit to how high new Guardians can ascend. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Civitas is, quite literally, superhuman. He can go for a week without sleep and for days without food without noticing, while casually multitasking on three things at once.

The result has been a subtle infantilizing of the Guardian membership of London. The most dynamic and ambitious mages leave for Orders where the path skyward isn't impeded by a two-hundred-year-old Master, and the remaining membership falls too easily into a habit of thinking that "Civitas will handle it."
Hierarch: "Civitas" (Rupert Havelock Jeffries), Guardian Obrimos, 2nd Degree Master of Life and Prime
--Provost: "Seventeen" (Vincent Jeffries), Guardian Obrimos, 1st Degree Master of Forces
The upper ranks of the Visus Draconis reflect the power of the Hierarch. Civitas has ruled the city for ninety years, and is one of the most puissant mages in London. He's a subtle creature, preferring politics and bureaucracy to open conflict. He's been skillfully dividing the opposition to his rule by means of blackmail, appeasement, and subtle threats for nearly a century.

His great-grandson, Seventeen, is the Provost, and obeys his great-grandfather in all things. A powerful Master of Forces in his own right, he is personally charming, but popularly disliked due to his status as the Hierarch's heir.

Relations with Others: The Visus Draconis is closely allied with the Silver Ladder, a relationship born of philosophy, pragmatism, politics, and the personal sympathy between the Hierarch and the Thearch Councilor. In many ways, the two are almost one Order, with Thearchs being welcome in Guardian sanctums. That's not to say that there aren't occasional creaks and strains. Most of the Guardians think that the Silver Ladder have a somewhat exalted sense of their own importance in the grand scheme of things. But it's a fond kind of relationship nevertheless.

The Guardians and the Libertines, on the other hand, share a passionate loathing for one another. The Guardians of the Veil consider the Free Council to be full of idealistic idiots and starry-eyed dreamers, who if allowed free rein would shortly lead London into utter disaster. Their disdain is cordially returned by the Libertines, who view the Visus Draconis as a gang of oppressive fascists. The fact that the Libertines are the fastest growing Order in London and the greatest challenge to Civitas's dominance in a generation does nothing to improve relations.

To what would be the Mystagogue's appalled horror, the Guardians of the Veil views them in much the same light as the free Council. Not as bad, certainly, but the fundamental divide between the Mysterium's task of gathering knowledge and the Guardian's task of suppressing knowledge is tricky to reconcile. Both Orders are also possessed of very long institutional memories, and well remember that it was the Mysterium that Civitas overthrew a century ago. Relations, needless to say, are less than pleasant.

The situation with the Adamantine Arrow is most complex. The Ungula Draconis is seen as sympathetic to the goals of the Guardians, but misguided and old-fashioned. The Arrows believe that sword and spell are still the best weapons against the enemies of the Awakened, whereas the Guardians fear that this direct approach will lead to the revelation of the Mysteries to Sleepers. At the same time, the Arrow means well. The result is that the Guardians tend to have a somewhat patronizing attitude to the Adamantine Arrow, compared to their loathing of Mystagogue and Libertine, and Guardians frequently try to recruit Arrow mages for their own ranks. The Ungula Draconis, meanwhile, returns the the Guardian's condescension with consistent distrust.

Strengths: Petrified with age and decayed from statusthey may be, but the Visus Draconis can still muster a frightening amount of power when they need to. They are the largest Order, with a great many skilled magi. They have a close alliance with the Silver Ladder, and the Hierarch has quiet but firm ties with both the Unseelie Court and the London Kindred.

More than that, however, the Guardians of the Veil are an Order of spies and secret policemen. Civitas has eyes and ears in every Order of the Consilium, and in the other supernatural societies as well. Nothing passes without the Hierarch knowing of it, and many a scheme is quietly pruned before it goes too far.

Lastly there is the Hierarch himself. Civitas is one of the most powerful wizards in London. He is ancient, subtle, and dangerous. He is a political creature, and he's managed to keep a tight lid on Awakened society for a century now.

Weaknesses: Their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. Civitas's decades-long rule has blocked other possible leaders the chance to grow. If Civitas were ever to die or retire, the Visus Draconis would shortly find itself in a crisis of succession. There are simply no other competent mages that can replace the Hierarch. Civitas has recently become aware of this problem and is trying to fix it, maneuvering choice Guardians up a path of power, but the inertia of a hundred years isn't easily overcome.

There is also the fact that Civitas himself can be troublesome. The Hierarch is a patriot, and he truly wishes the best for London. At the same time, however, Civitas is proud, haughty, and jealous of his prerogatives. The Hierarch is sublimely convinced that he knows what is best for London, and he would react poorly to any attempts to ease him out of power, (rightly) forseeing the crisis that would follow. If he were to ever be removed from power, or faced with a credible threat to his control, matters could degenerate dangerously.

Centers of Power: The main center of power of the Visus Draconis in London is the Highgate Citadel. This is a collection of stone chambers beneath mausoleums in the Highgate Cemetery, linked by Space portals both permanent and temporary and guarded by a pack of bound and branded ghosts. It is a fortress, and probably the most defended place within London.
Lair: The Highgate Citadel; Size 5, Guardian Ghost (Lesser Bound Spectres x12) 3 each, Guardian Ghost (The Highgate Vampire) 5, Library (History of the Guardians of the Veil, Secret Societies, The Abyss) 3, Ritual Area (Life) 3, Ritual Area (Space) 1, Ritual Area (Prime) 1, Sanctum Gauntlet (+2, to a Gauntlet of 4), Secrecy 4, Security 5

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