"Whim"
Ashley Saunders (Legal Identity), Cassandra Rivière (Real Name?)

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Hierarch's Mercy
Path: Moros
Affiliation: Guardians of the Veil, Harbingers
Paradigm: String-magic / Ideation and sympathy
Born: 1983 (stopped aging in 2007)



[spoiler=Whim in Action]

[/spoiler.]

Virtue: Ambitious
Vice: Lustful
Long-Term Aspiration: To become immortal (or specifically, to find a way to preserve her mind and personality indefinitely).

Background: For someone so seemingly young, Whim has done a very thorough job of cutting away all links to her past. Cultivating mystery as though it were rose-bushes, Whim draws a veil of silence and misinformation over anything to do with her life prior to arriving in Britain. Still, for a sufficiently dedicated investigator, a few facts can be learned.
  • Whim was born in 1983 in the United States, and lived most of her early life in the American South. She's of French Creole extraction and can slip from a vaguely generic British accent into a nigh-indecipherable Creole patois at will. Of her family or her parents Whim says nothing other than cryptic comments to the effect that they would not have approved of her current lifestyle.
  • Whim arrived in Britain in 2001 on a student visa to study drama, and stayed in the country after dropping out some six months later. These days, Whim lives under the name of Ashley Saunders, and mostly survives off of odd jobs (research assistant, bartender, tourist guide) and some help from her fellow Guardians of the Veil. Presently, Whim lives in a cheap tenement in Camden as Ashley Saunders. She lives alone, her only companion being a three and a half-foot long snake named DC, a Water Moccasin that serves as her familiar.
  • Already Awakened when she arrived, Whim sought out the Guardians of the Veil promptly upon coming to London, and has since positioned herself as a competent agent with a distinct lack of squeamishness. While still young and low-ranked, she's been noticed favorably by the Hierarch of London, one of the Guardians of the Veil. The day may come, not so far off, when Whim becomes the leader of one of the Guardians' Labyrinths.
  • Whim is heavily involved in the local goth and heavy metal scene. She works twice-weekly as a bartender at Lucifer's, a faux-Satanist club in Lambeth, and unless on a job for the Guardians she can usually be found there or at some other club in her off-time.
  • Whim maintains an on-again, off-again relationship with a brawny young man named Jayce Fortier, a fellow Creole expatriate, former Sleepwalker, and current Revenant who works as a bouncer at Lucifer's. Jayce died in a shoot-out when Whim was fourteen, taking a bullet to the jugular, and the Moros has been reviving and fixing him regularly in the years since. He's a comfortable presence, big, loyal, and not overwhelmingly bright.

Storytelling Hints/Personality: Understanding death, Whim embraces life. This is the key to understanding just what drives Whim forward. Like most necromancers, Whim holds a distinctly un-romantic view of death as a concept. It is The End, the end of pleasure, the end of vitality. It is rarely pleasant, usually messy, often frightening and painful. It comes without warning and without mercy.

This gives Whim a somewhat off-kilter perspective on what is important in life. For the time being, Whim wants, above all else, to enjoy herself. If life is so impermanent, why not take pleasure in it while you can? And so Whim parties the night away, losing herself in flesh, dancing to the music. She's young, she's pretty, and she's willing to try just about anything – or anyone – once. Whim is a social creature, and she revels in companionship.

This is not to say that Whim lives entirely in the present. On the contrary, Whim takes an unusually level-headed view of the future, impermanent and uncertain as it may be. God helps those who help themselves, after all, and so Whim plans out her life quite carefully, obscuring her past and securing her future with the Guardians of the Veil. She's ambitious, really, in that very pragmatic sense of knowing what she wants and fully intending to get it. She's quite protective of her body and her health, and takes full advantage of the fact that several of her friends are Life mages.

Likewise, it would be wrong to consider Whim completely immoral in her search for pleasure. She can be ruthless, certainly, and there is an under-current of power-hunger in her soul. But she's also a person who genuinely, truly likes other people. She's friendly and inimitably cheerful for a necromancer, with a piercing sense of humor. And life's just more fun when you have friends, isn't it?

[spoiler=Appearance]Age: Late teens/early twenties
Eye Color: Hazel
Hair Color: Acid green with a streak of bleach white
Skin Tone/Complexion: Light-skinned
Hair Style: Frizzy, short layered bangs in front and on the top, with long hair down to the shoulder blades in the back.

Figure Notes: A slim and rather average sized girl, Whim can turn heads with a pretty face and even more with her bright green hair. Of white French Creole ancestry, she has an oval face with a petite chin, and a small dimple on her left cheek when she smiles. She has soft features more reminiscent of a schoolgirl than a model, but they are quite attractive, and her eyes are lively and pleasant. She often accentuates her striking hair color with similarly striking shade of lipstick; purple, bright red, or absinthe green. Whim has two piercings in the lobe of each ear, a piercing through her tongue, and a piercing just under her left clavicle. She has a black silhouette of a kris tattooed on her left shoulder blade, a Trisula on the right side of her back, and a serpent/naga with a twisting tongue curling to the right of her navel. Her nails are often colored with an eye catching shade of nail-polish.

Clothing Notes: Whim tends to dress casually in any times, her clothes matching the trends of the London club scene. While out at night she can wear brand t-shirts or tank tops, short skirts, tights or striped knee socks, and knee high boots. When more practical attire is required, she has a pair of cargo pants, sometimes fastened with a thick black belt, and more sensible boots. She has a leather bomber jacket to toss over the whole ensemble.

Other: Whim has a light, musical voice.[/spoiler.]

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 4, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 5, Manipulation 4, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Academics (Research) 3, Craft 1, Investigation 3, Medicine 2, Occult (Necromancy x2) 4, Politics 3, Science 2
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Larceny 2, Stealth 2
Social Skills: Empathy 3, Expression (Music) 4, Intimidation (Control Ghost) 4, Persuasion (Make a Deal) 5, Socialize 4, Streetwise 3, Subterfuge 4

Merits: Anonymity 5, Contacts 5, Familiar (DC) 5, Language (Creole French; Native is English) 1, Resources
1+Well-Paid
2, Sanctum 4, Status (
Well-Fed, Well-Paid, Support Group
Harbingers) 1, Status (
Where the Bodies are Buried; Disciplined; Pull; Tithe
Guardians of the Veil) 3, Striking Looks (Gorgeous Goth Angel) 2
Lair: Small Camden Flat

Willpower: 7
Wisdom: 6; +1 Support Group
Universal Banes: Paradox, Paradigm, Nimbus (Corpse-coloration & stitched lips and flesh)
Personal Banes: Blood Magic; Disruption (Salt)

Initiative: 9
Defense: 3
Armor: 5/5 (Mage Armor)
Mind Shield: 7 (Mind Shield+Disciplined)
Health: 9
Speed: 20

Gnosis 5
Mysteries: Flesh ●●●, Lore ●●, Mind ●, Passion ●●●●●, Soul ●, Space ●●●●, Twilight ●●●●●
Magical Tool: Wavy-Bladed Knife (Twilight 4: Control Ghost) 4
Mana/Per Turn: 15/5; +2 Starting (Sanctum 4, Tithe -3, Well-Fed +1)


Whim's FamiliarDC
Damn Cottonmouth

[spoiler.][/spoiler.]

Name: DC
Born: 1992

Eye Color: Black
Figure Notes: DC is a Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma). He's about 95 centimeters long, just over three feet, and is rather muscular for a snake, with a broad body and a tapering tail. His neck narrows and gives the head a distinctive arrowhead shape, with a blunt snout. His coloration is almost entirely black, though close examination reveals a series of diamond patterns in dark brown. His head is a bit lighter, brownish and again with a diamond design, and his mouth is actually rather pale.

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 1, Wits 5, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 1, Dexterity 5, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 4, Manipulation 0, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Investigation 2
Physical Skills: Athletics 5, Brawl (Bite x2) 5, Stealth (Ambush x2) 5, Survival 5
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Intimidation (It's a goddamn SNAKE x2) 5

Merits: Double-Jointed 2, Fighting Finesse (Bite) 2, Fast Reflexes 3, Hardy 3, Iron Stamina 3

Willpower: 7

Initiative: 11
Defense: 5
Size: 2
Health: 6
Speed: 17 (Species Factor 11)

Power Stat 3
Supernatural Powers:
As Obfuscate 1: Provided DC does not call attention to himself, no one notices him
Camouflage ●,
As Mystery of Lore 1: DC can notice magic, and goes into Clash of Wills against supernatural effects
Familiar Sight ●,
DC has a Toxicity 6 Poison that affects supernatural beings.
Venomous Bite ●●●

Attacks.................................Damage.....Dice Pool.....Special
Bite..........................................1L..............13.................Toxicity 6


"Seventeen"
Vincent Jeffries, 7th Viscount of Candlesby Hall

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Hierarch's Mercy
Path: Obrimos
Affiliation: Guardians of the Veil, Harbingers
Legacy: The Jeffries Family
Paradigm: Techno-Hermeticism
Born: 1975



Virtue: Courageous
Vice: Gluttonous (tinges of alcoholism)
Long-Term Aspiration: To get out from under Civitas’s thumb

Background: Vincent Jeffries is a man who has absolutely everything in the world. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with two doctors and a professional midwife in attendance, and his name was put down for Eton within the fortnight. Vincent grew up with a succession of tutors and governesses, boarding schools and quiet vacations at his family's roaming pile of an estate, Candlesby Hall. He also grew up with a succession of strange sounds in the dark, with uncanny urges at school, peculiar accidents and the grim and terrifying visits of his great-grandfather, Rupert Havelock Jeffries, the Earl of Rawcliffe.

The Jeffries are one of the Britain's oldest magical families, and they are also one of Britain's most secretive. They are a Veiled Dynasty, men who have Supernal blood flowing through their veins. For ages beyond counting, the Jeffries have given birth to Sleepwalkers, men who can see the world for what it is, and to Proximi, those who can wield just a sliver of Supernal power by virtue of their blood. And every so often, one of them Awakens, to become a full Mage.

For most of his early life, Vincent grew up utterly unaware of his preternatural heritage. He went to all the finest schools, Eton and Christ's College at Cambridge. He was always considered something of a dandy and an eccentric, charming and likable but always a little odd. A better lover than a scholar, Vincent emerged from college with a degree in business, and in short order secured a position as a stockbroker in the City. He moved to London, took a fashionable flat in Kensington, made scads of money and slept with very pretty girls. No more inhuman faces in the window, no more spidery whispers when he turned off the lights. Life was good.

Then he Awakened. After six months of in London, Vincent Jeffries was dragged right back into his huge and terrifying family. Taking the Shadow Name of Seventeen, Vincent became the third living Jeffries Mage in the Guardians of the Veil, alongside his uncle, Dominic, and his great-grandfather, Civitas, the Hierarch of London. It is Civitas who has taken Seventeen under his wing, guiding the young man's life guiding the young man's political rise, establishing him as heir to the Jeffries estates (complete with the courtesy title of Viscount) and directing Seventeen's magical training personally.

Presently, Seventeen lives in a small but incredibly lavish apartment in Kensington, with irregular visits to Candlesby Hall, and a manifestly luxurious lifestyle, even if all the money belongs to his grandfather. He has a job as a stockbroker with a small but prestigious firm in the City, and is on the board of two charitable trusts and a museum, although in all four cases his job description can best be summarized as "look pretty and let us have a Viscount on the letterhead." Guardian business and twice-weekly training sessions with his grandfather occupy the bulk of Seventeen's time. In his remaining free time, he engages in coin-collecting, amateur fencing, and studying physics, which he is now capable of teaching at a college level, should the matter ever come.

Seventeen is someone who has been shouldering an immense weight of expectations to the point that he is all but crushed by it, but hasn't quite the self-awareness to realize the situation. The essential paradox of Seventeen is that he's someone who is good at understanding other people, but very bad at understanding himself, and at understanding that he doesn't really want the power and prestige that is being thrust upon him by virtue of his birth. After all, he's never known anything but expectations.

Seventeen can be a little schizophrenic in his actions. On the one hand, he does try to live up to the standards set for him. Noblesse oblige, the protection of the weak and helpless, the destruction of the work of the Abyss, so on and so forth. He's really very generous with his time and his energies. If anything, his flaw is that he's not able not to be generous with his power, to the point that he is willing to work himself into a coma rather than admit that something is beyond his power.

[spoiler=Appearance]Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Brown
Skin Tone/Complexion: Fair skinned and pale
Hair Style: Combed back over his head

Figure Notes: Tall and aristocratic, Seventeen is possessed of a very fine bone structure, and it's somewhat evident he's never had to do a hard day of physical work in his life. He has a rather elegant, handsome face, and he knows it. His cheeks are high, his face a bit thin, his nose long. His lips are possessed of a rather soft, sensuous curve, and are easily suited for smiling. His eyes are a bit sunken, leaving him prone to dark circles under them.

Clothing Notes: Seventeen doesn't appear to understand the meaning of "casual". He usually wears a well-made, dark grey three piece suit, with polished dark brown leather dress shoes. His idea of dressing down is to remove the suit jacket. If he's feeling very outlandish he'll take off the waistcoat. The only sign of oddity in the outfit is his tie, which appears grey, but is actually white with small black patterns set very close together - sometimes numbers, sometimes odd geometric patterns.

Accessories: A thin, black cane with a diamond shaped top (an imbued weapon from the 1840s), a thick gold ring bearing a coat of arms, an old gold George VI two pound piece set on a chain with a pentagram carved into the obverse (his dedicated magical tool), and a number of monogrammed handkerchiefs. He has a black and white cloth mask for Guardian assignments.[/spoiler.]
Path Obrimos
Order Guardians of the Veil

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 4, Wits 3, Resolve 3
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 5, Stamina 3
Social Attributes: Presence 4, Manipulation 4, Composure 4

Mental Skills: Academics 3, Computer 2, Investigation 1, Occult 3, Politics (London Consilium) 3, Sciences (Physics, Casting the Towers x2) 4
Physical Skills: Athletics 3, Stealth 3
Social Skills: Empathy 1, Expression 1, Intimidation (Quell the Crowd) 1, Persuasion (Fast Talk) 3, Socialize (Working the Crowd) 4, Subterfuge (Deception) 4

Merits: Dragon's Tongue 2, Fast Reflexes 3, Indomitable 2, Status (
Well-Fed, Well-Paid, Support Group
Harbingers) 1, Status (
Where the Bodies are Buried; Disciplined; Pull; Tithe
Guardians of the Veil) 3, Resources 5, Sanctum 4, Striking Looks (Aristocratic) 1
Lair: Highgate Flat (Shared with Chavez); Security 4, Warding 2

Willpower: 7
Wisdom: 6; +1 Support Group
Universal Banes:Paradox, Paradigm, Nimbus (Tracery of azure fire and lightning dancing over his form)
Personal Banes: Gone Horribly Right (Elements: Fire); Voidcaller

Initiative: 15 (18 w/ Glimpse)
Defense: 6/6
Armor: 9/10B (1/2B Kevlar Vest + Mage Armor)
Mind Shield: 7 (Indomitable + Mind Shield + Disciplined)
Health: 8
Speed: 11

Gnosis: 6
Mysteries: Elements (Air) ●●●, Elements (Fire) ●●●●●, Electromagnetism ●●●●●, Flesh ●●●, Foretelling ●, Lore ●●, Mind ●, Time ●
Magical Tool: Sword Cane engraved with the Jeffries Seal (Elements 4: Casting the Tower; Dice Pool +4) 4; Rune-inscribed 1914 golden Sovereign coin (Lore 2: Mystic Shield; Gnosis +2) 4
Mana: 20/6; +2 Starting (Sanctum 4, Well-Fed 1, Tithe -3)
Legacy Curse: Paradox rolls gain 8-Again

Attacks...........................Damage.....Dice Pool.....Special
Casting the Tower (Fire).......5A..............20.................Minus Defense


"Cuchulainn"
Ian Tait

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Hierarch's Mercy
Path: Thyrsus
Affiliation: Guardians of the Veil
Paradigm: Potions and herbs
Born: 1958



Virtue: Determined
Vice: Curious
Long-Term Aspiration: To understand the Other City

Background: Ian Tait was born in Glasgow in 1958, the son of a factory foreman and his home-maker wife. Ian grew up a relatively normal child, quiet but bright. Ian passed out of the secondary school in the top quarter of his class, and went on to get a degree in journalism from the University of Dundee. He got a position as a cub reporter on the police beat with The Herald (Glasgow), under the editorship of Arnold Kemp, and even married his university sweet-heart, Lilian Kelly. In short, Ian was on the rise in life.

Then came 1983, and the arrival of the Other City.

What is the Other City? No one knows, not really. But once every few months, starting in the 1960s, a few blocks of Glasgow suddenly find themselves elsewhere, in a city that is altogether different, and altogether more alien. Stay in your homes, and you're safe. But Ian was a reporter, and he heard sounds, and he was curious. So he left his house and went out into the street, and the Other City took him.

The Other City was a place-that-was-not-a-place, a strange splitting off of reality where faceless thousands go about their business to the squeal of impossible engines and the strange shrieks of thousand-faced things that flew overhead. It was a nightmare, a place where logic and reality bore only a tenuous connection. The laws were cruel, where a man may be taken and hanged and no one ever eplained why. The other dangers were worse.

For over a year, Ian lived in the Other City, until for its own inscrutable reasons, it let him go. He emerged different. He was tougher than he had been, and perhaps a little brutal from surviving in this mad place. Certainly he'd put on muscle even as he lost weight. But his mind was fragile, and on his side was a perfect ring of pale, frostbitten flesh.

Ian spent the better part of two years bouncing between psychiatric assessments and the divorce courts, and it was only through sheer willpower that Ian managed to avoid being committed. He lost his job and he lost his wife, however, and he fled Glasgow. He got a new job in London, and some years past he married again, a paralegal named Elizabeth Drummond. For a while, it was almost as though Ian had escaped his past and the horrors of the Other City.

Then he stumbled across a spirit. It was just a small thing, really, a lesser crow-spirit that had pushed itself through the Gauntlet to feast on the energies of this world. It was found and banished by a werewolf twelve hours later, but for Ian Tait, the sight of this cloud of floating feathers, ripping the flesh from a dead squirrel without any claws or beak, was a sign from the Other City.

If Ian couldn't run from it, then he would fight it. For the next few years, Ian Tait was a man possessed. He managed to lose his job once again, and it strained his marriage almost to the breaking point. He followed up leads in obscure books, searched the tunnels beneath London, and met with the stranger denizens of the world he lived in. And mostly, he killed them.

Ian was a hunter, and the year of survival in the Other City had hardened him. He educated himself on the plundered libraries of mages and vampires, joined circles of dabblers and cultists. He found a great many frauds, but he found some who were real as well, and if he found them to be evil or harmful, he disposed them. Ian didn't have supernatural powers, but he was smart, he was tough, and he was paranoid as hell.

But fate was not done with Ian Tait. It was while reading the poached library of a vampire of the Ordo Dracul that something clicked in his mind. In that moment, Ian was transported into some place very, very far away, where for just a moment everything, from the monsters to the Other City, could be understood. Ian Tait signed his name in his own blood on the walls of a stone tower in that distant land, and when he returned to his body some days later, on the floor of that blood-bought library, he had Awakened.

On the whole, Cuchulainn has adapted to Awakened life admirably well. He joined the Guardians of the Veil, finding their dogma of separation of supernatural and mortal appealing, and in turn they helped order his life into something resembling sanity. Presently, Cuchulainn lives with his long-suffering wife, Elizabeth, in a nice house in Waltham Forest. He is a freelance reporter, and has made something of a name for himself disproving the many frauds he encountered in his hunting days, with the approval and fiscal support of the Guardians of the Veil (by means of the Jeffries Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts & Sciences). He owns two cats, Rebecca and David, and has no children, though several nieces and nephews are spoiled rotten.

Cuchulainn is an old hound, battle-scarred and tired, yet still fearsome enough to put fear into those who'd threaten what he holds dear. Cuchulainn tends to come off as gruff in his interactions with others. Some of that is due to the things he's seen, but more of it is simply a deeply-hidden shyness. When writing, Cuchulainn can be flowing, eloquent, passionate in his prose. But in person, he's all taciturn looks and short phrases. He opens up more with people he likes, and he can be at ease when talking about his work, but Cuchulainn does not do small talk.

It would be wrong to misinterpret this as coldness or indifference. Cuchulainn is a passionate man, though that passion's been weathered down a good deal over the years. He's a family man, with a wife, a good career, and a strong desire to keep it. But it's that basic spark of passion that started him as a crime reporter in the first place, and that's propelled him through life as a Hunter and as a Guardian of the Veil. Threaten what is truly important, be it his family or the ideals of the masquerade which he upholds, and Cuchulainn shows all the berserker rage of his namesake.

[spoiler=Appearance]Eye Color: Green
Hair Color: Grizzled red
Skin Tone/Complexion: Pale, weathered and beaten
Hair Style: Shortish, two to three inches all around, somewhat uneven and messy. Has a similarly messy beard.

Figure Notes: Cuchulainn is not a particularly tall man, but is a very solid one. Beneath a healthy layer of fat is a wall of thick muscle. Broad shoulders and thick bones complete the impression the Guardian could be made out of brick. His arms are more visibly muscled, his hands have prominently visible veins and are rather gnarled. His face is lined and rough, with a thick, crooked nose and a slightly pouchy jawline. He has thin lips and a grim set to his mouth.

Cu's face and hands bear a lot of small nicks, most prominently on his nose. He has a small scar over his left eyebrow. More recently, he has a pair of very brutal scars on the front and back of his torso, like someone had run barbed wire through his chest. Most peculiarly, he has a perfect ring of white flesh just under his left arm, six inches in diameter and half an inch wide, as though from frostbite.

Clothing Notes: Dressed as unobtrusively as possible. T-shirts or long sleeved shirts covered with a sweater, blue-jeans, and a pair of worn tennis shoes. He has a blue winter coat if the weather recommends it.

Accessories: A half-skull mask (bottom half, nose to jaws) he wears on business, and an obscenely large handgun.[/spoiler.]
Path: Thyrsus
Order: Guardians of the Veil

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 5, Wits 4, Resolve 5
Physical Attributes: Strength
4+Perfected Form 1
5, Dexterity
4+Perfected Form 3
7, Stamina
5+Perfected Form 2
7
Social Attributes: Presence 2, Manipulation 2, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Academics (Research; 9-Again) 4, Investigation (Crime Scenes; 9-Again) 4, Medicine 2, Occult 4, Politics 2
Physical Skills: Athletics 3, Brawl 3, Firearms (Heavy Revolver x2) 5, Stealth 3, Survival 4
Social Skills: Expression (Written; 9-Again) 4, Intimidate 3, Streetwise 3, Subterfuge 2

Merits: Allies (Media) 4, Allies (Police) 4, Enhanced Item (
Heavy Revolver with +3L Damage
Erin-Made .44 Magnum) 3, Fame (Debunker) 1, Fast Reflexes 3, Professional Training (Journalist; Academics, Investigation, Expression) 5, Quick-Draw (Heavy Revolver) 1, Resources
3+Well-Paid
4, Status (
Well-Fed, Well-Paid, Support Group
Harbingers) 1, Status (
Where the Bodies are Buried; Disciplined; Pull; Tithe
Guardians of the Veil) 3
Combat Merits: Fighting Style (Firefight) 3
Lair: Suburban House; Security
2+Wizard's Tower 1
3, Warding
0+Wizard's Tower 3
3

Willpower: 7
Wisdom: 6; +1 Support Group
Universal Banes: Paradox, Paradigm, Nimbus (Racing blood and distant battle cries and howls)
Personal Banes: Disruption (Rowan); Avatar (Warp-Spasm)

Initiative: 15 (16 w/ .44 Magnum)
Defense: 5/5 (6 Base, -1 Kevlar)
Armor: 6/7B (Kevlar + Mystic Shield)
Mind Shield: 2 (Disciplined)
Health: 12
Speed: 12

Gnosis: 4
Mysteries: Flesh ●●●●●, Health ●●●, Hearth ●●●●, Lore ●●, Time ●
Magical Tool: Bag of Herbs (Flesh 5: Perfected Form) 4
Mana/Per Turn: 11/2; -2 Starting (+1 Well-Fed; -3 Tithe)

Attacks..................................Damage..,...Dice Pool..,...Special
Erin-Made .44 Magnum............6L..............20................ Range 35/70/140, Clip 6


"Civitas"
The Hierarch of London, Rupert Havelock Jeffries "III", the 14th Earl of Rawcliffe (previously the 12th and 13th Earls as well)

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Order of the Seventh Seal
Path: Obrimos
Order: Guardians of the Veil
Legacy: The Jeffries Family
Paradigm: Ceremonial Magic (Enochian)
Born: 1798



[spoiler=More Civitas][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Pragmatic
Vice: Arrogant
Long-Term Aspiration: To ensure that Seventeen becomes Hierarch after him.

Background: The history of Rupert Havelock Jeffries is the history of London, and the history of London is the history of the Empire. And the Jeffries lived through all of it.

R. H. Jeffries was born on September 22nd, 1798, a Proximus of the large and powerful Jeffries clan. There was never a time when R. H. did not know what he was. He was one of the Jeffries, and by dint of bloodline and willpower, he had powers that others never would. He would live longer than mortal men. He could trigger fear or lust with a glance. He was stronger, faster, better, and this was drilled into him by his family from the very first day.

But it wasn’t enough. A Proximus is a frightful thing, more than human, but it is not a Mage. Though R. H. was the most potent Proximus born in a generation, he was still only a tool to the Awakened elders of the family. This was something that R. H. could not stand. And so, when he was eighteen years old, he left.

R. H. Jeffries travelled first to France, still recovering in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. He studied at the Sorbonne, learning rhetoric and grammar, but more than that, R. H. studied in the occult circles of France. Paris had always been one of the souls of the world, and there was no shortage of petty sorcerers and secret societies that offered to teach a young, wealthy English nobleman. R. H. sought them all out, and learned from every one. He travelled the catacombs beneath the city, and spoke with the white-robed priests who cast offerings of meat to the dead. For four years, he supped at the wrist of one La Charpentière’s childer. When Paris had given him all that he felt he could offer, he left it as well.

For the next eighty years, R. H. Jeffries made a slow pilgrimage across Europe. He went to Italy, studying for a time in Rome and gaining access to the Vatican archives. He studied old legends in Serbia and Montenegro, and spent nearly fifteen years in Constantinople. He had money enough, after all, and he never needed to worry about age. By 1890, when R. H. Jeffries finally returned to London, he was 92-years old, looked about 40, and had experienced more magical studies than most living mages. He had also Awakened.

R. H. Jeffries knew a good deal of the theory and mechanics of the Awakening, and he tried to force it in every fashion he knew how. Vision quests are frequent components of the awakening, and R. H. tried hypnosis, narcotics, ascetic self-denial and hedonistic indulgence both. Sharp stress was a common trigger, and R. H. tried an increasingly fool-hardy series of experiments in self-flagellation and near-suicide. He had himself nearly drowned twice, and one of his legs is still seared with the scars of a hot iron.

When the actual Awakening came, it was, of all things, an accident. R. H. was out riding in Syria when his horse reared, cast him off, and he hit his head on a rock. Brains thoroughly stirred about in his head, R. H. spent the next day and night in a coma, walking the Path of the Mighty and signing his name at the Golden Tower. When he awoke, he had gained two very valuable things. He gained the Awakening, and he gained a sense of humor about the caprices of the cosmos.

When R. H., now going by the Shadow Name of Plautus, returned to London, he was feted and welcomed into the Consilium, and soon joined the Guardians of the Veil due to his experience with secret societies and obscure religions. But the Edwardian era was a dark time for the Guardians of the Veil. The Mysterium was in command of the city, and in their casual approach to secrecy (or so the GotV saw it), they had let too many mortal occultists run rampant in London. This was the era of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley, of Theosophy and the Golden Dawn.

For years, the Guardians of the Veil watched and waited, and when World War I erupted, they made their coup. The details of that shadowy night in mid-October of 1914 are lost to history, but in a way of extortion, assassination, and political maneuvering, the Mystagogues were cast down and the Guardians of the Veil took their place as rulers of London, with the Silver Ladder at their right hand. As the orchestrator of the coup, and with the potent backing that the name of Jeffries brought to the table, Plautus, now renaming himself Civitas, ascended to the position of Hierarch.
Path Obrimos
Order Guardians of the Veil

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 6, Wits 4, Resolve 5
Physical Attributes: Strength
2+Perfected Form 1
3, Dexterity
4+Perfected Form 4
8, Stamina
4+Perfected Form 3
7
Social Attributes: Presence 6, Manipulation 6, Composure 5

Mental Skills: Academics 5, Craft (Control the Foundations x2) 6, Investigation 3, Occult 4, Politics (The Art of the Possible; 9-Again) 6, Science (Casting the Towers x2) 6
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Larceny 1, Stealth 3, Survival 3
Social Skills: Empathy 3, Expression (9-Again) 3, Intimidation 4, Persuasion (Making a Deal) 6, Socialize 5, Subterfuge (Deception x2; 9-Again) 6

Merits: Indomitable 2, Languages (German, French, Greek, Latin, Italian; Native is English) 5, Professional Training (Politician; Expression, Politics, Subterfuge) 5, Resources 6, Sanctum 5, Status (
Where the Bodies are Buried; Disciplined; Pull; Tithe
Guardians of the Veil) 5, Striking Looks (Distinguished) 1
Lair: Candlesby Hall; Warding 4, House Rules (vs. Fire, Thieves, Abyssal Beings, Werewolves, and Demons); The Hall is a ramshackle white elephant, falling apart, but it does have significant occult protections. Civitas commutes via Portal.

Willpower: 10
Wisdom: 3
Universal Banes: Paradox, Paradigm, Nimbus (Photo-negative tendrils of coruscating black lightning)
Banes: Gone Horribly Right (Elements: Air); Disruption (St. John's Wort); Avatar (The Plotter in the Shadows)

Initiative:17 (21 w/ Glimpse)
Defense: 8/8
Armor: 8/8 (Mage Armor)
Mind Shield: 9 (Indomitable + Mind Shield + Disciplined)
Health: 12
Speed: 16

Gnosis: 8
Mysteries: Lore ●●, Elements (Air) ●●●●●, Elements (Fire) ●●●●, Elements (Earth) ●●●●, Elements (Water) ●●●●, Flesh ●●●●●, Foretelling ●●●, Mind ●, Supernal ●●●●●, Time ●
Magical Tool: Staff of the Hierarch (Supernal 2: Counterspell) 6, Jeffries Signet Ring (Elements (Air) 4: Casting the Tower) 4
Mana: 30/8; -2 Starting (Sanctum 5 + Tithe -5 + Daily Flesh 5: Perfected Form -2)
Legacy Curse: Paradox rolls gain 8-Again

Attacks...........................Damage..........Dice Pool.....Special
Counterspell..............................N/A..............21...............costs 1 Mana, Dodge Action, if the successes exceed those of the caster, negate the spell
Hurricane Blast............................5L..............25................Minus Defense, costs 1 Mana, Knockdown (Roll Dexterity, on failure knocked Prone)
Fireball...................................4A..............20...............Minus Defense, costs 1 Mana
Icicle......................................4L..............20...............Minus Defense, costs 1 Mana, -2 to all Physicals for the Scene
Tremor...................................4L..............20...............Minus Defense, costs 1 Mana, Stun (Roll Stamina, on a failure lose next action)


Magister "Aleph"
Albert Higgins

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Order of the Seventh Seal
Path: Thyrsus
Order: Adamantine Arrow
Paradigm: Western Alchemy
Born: 1890
Apparent Age: Somewhere in his 60s or 70s -- Old but healthy

[spoiler=Magister Aleph][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Courageous
Vice: Pessimistic

Background: Albert “Al” Higgins awakened in 1908, at the age of 18, while he and his fellow Irish navvies were digging a tunnel for the expansion of the London Underground. As near as anyone else could tell, Al Higgins had a fit or stroke of some sort, but the young wizard remembered something altogether different. He remembered being led down a subterranean path by a chthonic entity of black soil with eyes like flaming pits, all horns and scales and curious nodules. He went beneath London, through the ruins of a dozen cities and empires – the empire of Elizabeth I, and of Richard Lionhearted, and of Arthur, and of the Emperor Claudius, and of long-ago peoples who left no names or kings to know them by. There, beneath the twelve ruins and the one living city, stepping over the bones of the ages, Albert Higgins signed his name into a book of stone with his own chisel, and his mind Awakened to the universe.

Al Higgins, calling himself Aleph now after the fashion of the time, joined the Consilium of Albion and became a foot soldier in the Adamantine Arrow, the only Order interested in accepting him. That was a different time, and the cold fact was that neither the Mysterium, nor the Guardians of the Veil, nor the Silver Ladder showed much interest in a poorly educated Irish laborer. And the Free Council? Well, Aleph considered them a bunch of nancy-boys, and precious little has happened in the last hundred years to change his mind. Anyway, the Arrow always needed warm bodies, and the young Al Higgins had the kind of build that logically develops from digging ditches since one is eight years old.

Compared to most of his contemporaries, and indeed compared to most wizards, Aleph had two notable advantages – he knew when to keep his head down, and he knew when to take a risk. The first meant that despite being in a career that tends to see one murdered by Abyssal horrors or mad Left-Hand mages, Aleph kept surviving his assignments, largely by having a very good instinct for when to duck and always preferring to hit the other guy when they weren’t looking. The second meant that when the Guardians of the Veil staged their coup in 1914, Aleph took a chance and joined them. He was still a young wizard then, but he’d seen the kind of havoc that wizards without limits could cause, most notably when he was part of the group that put down the ‘angel’ or whatever-it-was that Councilor Sandalaphon of the Silver Ladder summoned for his private cult.

After the coup, Aleph stayed in the Arrow, and over the years he slowly rose in the ranks, mostly by virtue of being the last man standing when the dust settled – Aleph was a very good earth mage, and while earth magic wasn’t flashy or exciting like shooting fireballs or lightning bolts, there’s something to be said for constructing an instant rampart of rock two yards thick. Since his Awakening, Aleph fought renegade mages, rabid werewolves, manifested demons, German mages in both World Wars, things from the Abyss… he dueled a Scion of Itzpapalotl in Central America once, still has the scars from it, or that time in Syria when a pack of ghuls took offense and tried to carve his thighs for steaks, still limps a little from that.

Really, if two words can summarize Magister Aleph today (he was named Magister in 1952), it’s scars and service. In his prime, Aleph was one of the Adamantine Arrow’s greats. He was a hard-driving, intensely pragmatic man well-suited to cutting Gordian Knots by means of broad-spectrum destruction, who subsumed himself in his work. There were always things that needed doing, and as Aleph grew older, work seemed a way to ignore the flow of time instead of a way to rise in the ranks. Aleph could always tell himself that he was doing valuable work, and he was. It eventually consumed him.

He’d married, back in the twenties, and been happy then right up until Margaret died in 1971. There were two children, both now dead of time, and there were grandchildren and great-grandchildren who know Aleph only as the vague figure of family lore. Most think him dead. Aleph prefers it that way.

Nowadays, Aleph is simply damaged. Compared to entire generations of his contemporaries, Albert Higgins survived – but not without marks. Some are purely physical. He limps in wet weather, his face looks faintly melted as a result of an obsidian butterfly’s venom, he’s half-deaf from a lifetime of being at ground zero of earthquakes and explosions. Other marks are mental. He sleeps uneasily, and watching so many others die has left him both profoundly lonely and severely paranoid. He’s been embroiled in the arcane world for so long that he’s sometimes forgets that magic isn’t normal – he can make his kettle boil by looking at it, he mutters in Enochian, any place he lives in tends to become seismically active.

Aleph retired from active duty following a particularly brutal Paradox backlash in 1988. He brought half a mountainside down on an open portal to the Abyss, and absorbed the magical energies rather than risk bringing the rest of the mountain down on himself and his team. The effort burned countless tiny holes in Aleph’s brain and smashed his psyche into atoms. Despite the best efforts of some very skilled mind-mages, Aleph suffers from low-grade aphasia – his ability to use language seems to come and go, with common words being the hardest to use, paradoxically – and reduced ability to form short-term memories. He can recall in perfect detail an assignment in British Palestine during WWII, but struggles to remember what he had for breakfast.

He’s usually good at remembering people, though, and his bluff friendliness causes people to think of him as a loveable old duffer, which actually suits Aleph fine. Better an object of fun than an object of fear, after all. He putters about mostly, letting other people do the actual work, though the truth is that while Aleph is a bit mad he is far from senile.

In person, Magister Aleph is an old, doddering man who shows every one of his hundred-plus years. He’s a broad-shouldered man who had once been enormously physically powerful, but has mostly withered away from the years. He still has all his hair, which forms an enormous white mane, and a grey, drooping walrus mustache that combined with his sagging skin gives him a rather melted look. Aleph stopped caring about fashion when his wife died, so most of his clothing consists of ratty suits, ratty robes, and ratty mackintoshes. He always has a large collection of vials containing all manner of alchemical concoctions for his magic, and tie-pin with a seven-legged symbol that has a distressing tendency to writhe in public.
Path Thyrsus
Order Adamantine Arrow

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 4, Wits 4, Resolve 7
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity
8+Perfected Form 4
12, Stamina
8+Perfected Form 4
12
Social Attributes: Presence 6, Manipulation 2, Composure 6

Mental Skills: Academics 4, Craft 4, Investigation 3, Occult 5, Politics 3, Science (Casting the Towers x2, Engineering) 7
Physical Skills: Athletics 3, Brawl (Elemental Strike x2) 4, Larceny 1, Stealth 4, Survival (Underground) 4
Social Skills: Animal Ken 1, Empathy 2, Intimidation (Quell the Crowd) 4, Persuasion 2, Socialize 1, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge (Scrutinize) 2

Merits: Familiar (Roger) 5, Indomitable 2, Resources 4, Sanctum 5, Status (
Where the Bodies are Buried; Disciplined; Pull; Tithe
Guardians of the Veil) 4
Combat Merits: Fighting Style (Street Fighting) 1
Lair: Quaere Cottage; Secrecy
0+Wizard's Tower 4
4, Warding
1+Wizard's Tower 4
5; Innocuous (-8); House Rules (vs. Fire, Fae, Spirits, Ghosts, and Demons); Hallowed; Aleph uses a Portal established by another mage to commute to Highgate.

Willpower: 13
Wisdom: 4
Universal Banes: Paradox, Paradigm, Nimbus (Earth tremors, howling winds)
Personal Banes: Avatar (I am Albion); Unearthly Sight; Technophage
Conditions: Madness (manifests as Aphasia that causes minor but persistent social penalties)

Initiative: 26 (19 in Elemental Form)
Defense: 16/16 (8/8 in Elemental Form)
Armor: 10/10 (Mage Armor)
Mind Shield: 8 (Indomitable + Mind Shield + Disciplined)
Health: 17
Speed: 19 (20 in Elemental Form)

Gnosis: 8
Mysteries: Lore ●●●●●, Elements (Earth) ●●●●●, Flesh ●●●●●, Health ●●●, Hearth ●●●●●, Mind ●, Nature ●●●●●, Shadow ●●●●●, Time ●
Elemental Transformation: Due to his high Gnosis and high Elements (Earth), Aleph is able to transform into a variety of earth elemental forms, distributing (Nature) dots among Damage, Armor, and Size.
Magical Tool: Tie-pin of the Cthonians (Elements (Earth) 4: Casting the Towers) 6; Impenetrable Hat Band (Lore 2: Mage Armor) 4
Mana: 30/8; -1 Starting (Sanctum 5 + Tithe -4 + Daily Flesh 5: Perfected Form -2)

Note: Aleph's usual elemental form (used when Mana conservation and Paradox minimization is important) grants him a 4L attack and a +1 Size bonus, and moves 7 Dots from Dexterity and 1 from Stamina into Strength.

Attacks...........................Damage..........Dice Pool.....Special
Malachite Blow.........................4L..............20................
Cthonic Spell............................5L..............32................Minus Defense, costs 1 Mana, Stun (Roll Stamina, on failure lose next action)
Blast........................................5L..............15................Minus Stamina, costs 1 Mana, optionally 1WP to deal Aggravated


Aleph's FamiliarRoger the Cat

[spoiler.][/spoiler.]

Roger is a tiny black-and-white tuxedo cat with very large yellow-green eyes. He's small, fuzzy, and generally lovable and playful, though he does feel a compulsion to shashay in front of people's feet and trigger any bad luck superstitions or compulsions they may have. He also has a serious rivalry with Kore's familiar Lucifer, who bullies him constantly.

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 1, Wits 5, Resolve 3
Physical Attributes: Strength 1, Dexterity 5, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 5, Manipulation 0, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Investigation 2
Physical Skills: Athletics (Climb) 5, Brawl 1, Stealth (Hide)
5+Small Framed
8, Survival 1
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Empathy 4, Persuasion (Kitten Eyes x2) 3, Socialize 3, Subterfuge (Innocent Kitten x2) 3

Merits: Double-Jointed 2, Fighting Finesse (Bite) 2, Fast Reflexes 3, Fleet of Foot 3, Small-Framed 2, Striking Looks (Adorable) 1

Willpower: 6

Initiative: 11
Defense: 5
Size: 1
Health: 5
Speed: 17 (Species Factor 11)

Power Stat 3
Supernatural Powers:
As Obfuscate 1: Provided Roger does not call attention to himself, no one notices him
Camouflage ●,
As per the Mage Mystery, and Roger is able to use Cantrips and Hexes
Mystery of Fortune ●●●●

Attacks.................................Damage.....Dice Pool.....Special
Bite..........................................0L..............6.................


"Kore"
The Councilor for the Silver Ladder, Lady Evelyn Manning

Type: Ghost Mage
Cabal: The Order of the Seventh Seal
Path: Mastigos
Order: Silver Ladder
Legacy: Bene Ashmedai
Paradigm: Ceremonial Magic (Ars Goetia)
Born: 1865 (stopped aging in 1929)

[spoiler=Kore][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Confident (Evelyn has a very bad habit of overestimating her capabilities. That she is in fact, intrinsically very capable makes it all the worse when she overestimates things.)
Vice: Corrupt

Background: Lady Evelyn is older than the British Empire. Lady Evelyn was the victim of Saucy Jack who escaped. Lady Evelyn called the Great Beast Aleister Crowley a fatty and made him cry. Lady Evelyn had a torrid sapphic affair with Tallulah Bankhead that was barely kept from the papers. Lady Evelyn only tells the truth. Lady Evelyn lies like a dog and you don't want to play poker with her. Which of these statements are true? All of them? None of them?

Lady Evelyn isn't telling. In fact, when confronted with questions about her past, her usual answer is a sweet sort of smile, the kind a grandmother gives before a gentle scolding, followed by "When one reaches my age, having a past that's multiple choice is a fringe benefit one grows extremely fond of."

What is known for certain however, paints a rather interesting picture. Before the October Coup, she was barely a blip on the radar. After the October Coup, she was the Councilor of the Silver Ladder, and Civitas was in power. If these two events are related in any way, no one's been exactly brave enough to mention that relationship near either magus.

For now, the "Lady" makes her living as a Grand Dame of London high society, equal parts Queen Mum, and Betty White dropping the F bomb because old ladies swearing like sailors is high comedy. Of course, when she isn't busy being wealthy because she's wealthy, she's busy as one of the premier rumormongers, scandalmongers, and blackmailers of the London Consilium. Despite running the local Silver Ladder with an attitude that can only be described as laissez-faire, she's the sort who remembers every little indiscretion, every slight slip that she was kind enough to let by. And if she should need a favor, she's also kind enough to politely remind you of it, and collect on that favor with interest.

Despite letting things slide usually, she can be rather conservative in her mindset. With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes knowing when something is a terrible idea. Of course, her ideas are never quite as terrible as others, but she hasn't quite hit the point where being "promoted" to the Magisters is in her future. Yet.

For right now, Lady Evelyn, or Kore as she prefers in "interesting" society is content with what she has, with a great many of the Ghosts of London, old and young both bringing secrets to her ears. Should waves be made, she'll work to calm them.

Unless of course, they benefit her.

Description: To all appearances, Evelyn Manning is a short (5'5'') woman in her early sixties, an austere, icy woman in whose face one can see the remnants of what had once been a great beauty. Her face has a kind of aristocratic grandeur to it, her features sharp and elfin, her skin like finely-aged parchment stretched over a skeleton of steel. Her once dark hair has gone silver, though her hazel eyes continue to flicker with life and joie de vivre. She is always dressed immaculately, in exquisitely tailored gowns and with her hair elaborately coiffed, with a somewhat ecletic collection of jewelry made of human bone and spent bullet casings. Only periodically does there seem to be something off about her appearance, a whiff of ashes, or a glimpse of a dark eyes burning with blue fire out of the corner of one's vision.

The truth is that while everyone knows that Kore stopped aging sometime in Interwar Period, few know that she actually died, committing suicide as part of an immortality ritual (she drank hemlock, it's not something she cares to do again). Her present appearance is partially illusory, and under certain circumstances (if pushed onto holy ground or confronted with a holy symbol forcibly presented, under the light of the full moon, or under powerful magics) one can see her true appearance -- that of pale, translucent woman with eyes burning with blue balefire, smelling of ash and hemlock. Revealing Kore's true appearance, or even hinting that one knows of its existence, is an excellent way to get an enemy for the rest of your life -- brief as it is likely to be.

Kore is usually attended by her valet/bodyguard/rumored lover/undead slave, a blond man named Dietrich who's face is always in shadows, and by her black cat, a lazy, malevolent beast she calls Lucifer.

Rank: 4
Mental 5; Physical 3; Social 7
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 7
Notable Powers: Necromancer; Blackmailer; Tallulah Bankhead Stole My Lines
Banes: Unearthly Sight; Arcane Bond (Lucifer the Demon Cat); Magical Tell (Cold and Ash)




"Catesby"
Farid Kala

Type: Mage
Affiliation: People's Republic
Cabal: Collective Action
Path: Thyrsus
Paradigm: Animism
Born:1968

[spoiler=Catesby]

[/spoiler.]

Virtue: Ambitious (for the Cause!)
Vice: Cold

Background: The system has not been kind to Catesby, and so Catesby wants nothing less than to tear down the system. Born the son of Bengali immigrants in the Estates of Tower Hamlets, Farid Kala had nothing to look forward to in his life. School seemed unpromising, the teachers foolish and the lessons pointless, so Farid went looking for better tutors, who could give him useful knowledge. By the age of nine, Farid was shop-lifting, by twelve he had joined the Tower Cobras Bengali street gang, and by fifteen he was supplementing the income he earned at the local grocery store by jacking cars and selling them for spare parts. His long-suffering family kicked him out of the house when he was sixteen. More by luck than by judgment, Farid managed to survive till adulthood, though he managed to pick up a half-dozen scars and two jail sentences (fifteen months for stealing a car, three years for mugging) by the time he was twenty-seven. Then he Awakened.

If people ask Farid how he Awakened, he says that he was in a gang war and lets them draw their own conclusions -- so most of the Consilium figures that he awakened in some modern-day street battle, a soldier's Awakening. The truth is a bit more embarassing. Farid and a gang of the Cobras beat up some rivals, the gang went and got drunk, and then Farid had the brilliant idea of driving back to his flat. He crashed, and in the moments between hitting the tree and when the EMT's cut him out of the wreck, Farid wrote his name into the Stone Book in his own spilled blood, standing above the wreckage of a million incomprehensible machines.

It was a long recovery -- six broken ribs, a broken arm, a concussion, and more bruises than Farid cared to count did not heal quickly. Farid spent the time reading, something that he hadn't done in a serious sense since he was in primary school. The local library was woefully short on occult texts, but it did have an impressive collection of Marxist literature, the bequest of a leftist university professor from the 70s. Maybe because Farid's life had been one long trip through the gears of the police state, or because he'd seen how fragile the capitalist-industrial-technocratic society was, but Marx clicked for Farid in a way that little else did. He became a convert, and he had a convert's fervor. He abandoned his gang and his old way of life -- being a member of the lumpenproletariat failed to appeal -- and sought out something different. He found the London Consilium, and the Free Council.

Since his Awakening in 1995, Farid's served the Consilium and the Free Council as a Sentinel, a Provost, a Councilor, and a Provost again -- the position he holds today. The Libertines could always use a skilled thug, and more than that, Farid (or Catesby, as he became known now) had both the passion of a convert and the charisma of a former gang leader. It sometimes bugs Catesby how similar mages (and the supernatural in general) are to a bunch of a juvenile gangs, but there's nothing he can do about it. At least the Free Council is the best gang -- the Guardians, the Ladder, and the Mystagogues are all lead by honest-to-god aristocrats. In the twentieth century. He's not sure if that's tragic or farcical.

Today, Catesby is a serious, no-nonsense kind of man, who speaks with quiet passion and who is a very self-aware observer of supernatural society -- all of which he considers a little ridiculous. He tends to consider himself not the smartest man in the room but the sanest one, and though he hides it well, he's not actually all that fond of other mages, whom he usually considers either frivolous or insane. They have so much power, why aren't they doing some good with it? Beneath the surface of the idealistic, only-sane-mage-in-London facade lie darker impulses. Catesby remains a bully at heart, a dangerous thug who defers to those more dangerous, and is a complete bastard to those weaker than him. Nothing gives him quite as much joy as delivering a verbal or physical beat-down. Catesby tries to defy his own nature, but it's hard, and especially when he's stressed, the villain in him shines through.

Catesby remains a dedicated Marxist, and he's stayed at the edges of the criminal fraternity, operating a small bookstore-cum-pawnshop in the East End and acting as a mentor and teacher to the gang members that he collects as an entourage (it helps that even at his age, he can still beat them in a fight -- magic is nice that way).

Description: Catesby is a tall, wiry man in his early forties, with dusky skin and piercing, light brown eyes. His fellow gang-members called him "lean and mean," which is a good description. His body is covered in hard, dense muscle, and his skin bears the signs of a life hard-lived. He keeps a tattoo of a striking cobra on his forearm as a memento, though he's magicked the other tattoos away. Usually, he dresses in neutral tones and unexceptional clothing, jeans, t-shirts, and brown or beige jackets. His black hair is usually cropped close to his skull.

In combat, Catesby shapeshifts into supernaturally-powerful animal forms, favoring the Kodiak Bear for power, the Siberian Tiger for speed, and the King Cobra for toxicity (and sentimental reasons)

Rank: 3
Mental 4; Physical 5; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers:Shapeshifter; Dedicated Marxist; Ex-Gang
Banes: Avatar (Vengeance); Heavy Hand of Fate



Melissa Westly, M.D.
Hygeria

Type: Mage
Affiliation: People's Republic
Cabal: Collective Action
Path: Mastigos
Paradigm: Psychic
Born: 1973

Virtue: Kind
Vice: Curious

Background: Melissa likes to joke that she's essentially a well-adjusted Carrie. Like the heroine of Stephen King's novel, Melissa grew up in a single-parent household and she was a psychic, blossoming into high-level empathy and occasional, uncontrolled telepathy during puberty. Since Melissa had read Carrie, she decided to keep her powers quiet, at least until she met a wizard named J. Ilkin Aylesworth while studying psychology in college. One brief romance later, she was a Sleepwalker, and not too much later she Awakened.

For Melissa, Awakening was a gentle thing, a smooth transition from one state of being to another, a slow metamorphosis. She had been a psychic first, then a Sleepwalker and a psychic, and now a Mastigos, and so she never had the experience of having her entire reality upended quite as violently as other supernaturals (whether wizard, vampire, fae or werewolf). Which meant that when she encountered the Awakened Orders of London, she was... not impressed. A compassionate soul, her feelings upon Awakening could be summarized as 'Now I have the power to help people'. Then she met the Guardians and the Mystagogues, who seemed to think that since they had Awakened, what they should do is... try and recreate an ancient society of mages who had been wiped out from existence. For that matter, from what Melissa read about the Atlantean world of Awakened, it didn't sound like a very nice place. Sure, being a Mage was fine, but what about everyone else? All the mortals, all the people whom Melissa had wanted to help? Did they have a place in this Atlantean order? Between that and Ilkin's influence, Melissa soon joined the Free Council.

Once among the Libertines, Melissa quickly settled in as a local voice of reason, as well as one of the Order's diplomats. Most supernaturals tend towards extreme ideologies, since once one's life has been turned upside down, awakened to the supernal truth of reality or simply to the occult world, the word 'impossible' doesn't have quite the same heft to it. Compounded by group dynamics of getting a bunch of far-left types all in one place, and the Free Council as a whole tended towards the radical. Melissa, with her smoother transition, did tiptoe to the left, but she remained a relative moderate among the Libertines, as well as a voice trying to clamp down on the more outrageous ideas of her colleagues.

In person, Melissa is a sweet, compassionate woman, partially as a result of her empathetic powers growing up. When Melissa says that she feels your pain, that is not a metaphor. Thus, Melissa always tries hard to see things from the perspective of others, to analyze why they feel the way that they do, and to respect that. Not everyone enjoys being psychoanalyzed and devolved to a bundle of neuroses, but Melissa is also blessed with extremely good people skills -- she always knows just what to say, just what not to say, and which topics to avoid.

Of course, the people who do know about her Mastigos nature tend to not be entirely comfortable with it. Melissa is a Mastigos and a psychic, and she has a very lax view on the privacy of one's mind. She's not hurting anyone, she's trying to help them (the irony of the fact that she reviles the Guardians of the Veil for their Big Brother antics is somewhat lost on her). Melissa is aware enough not to trumpet her casual psychic intrusions, but plenty of people in the Free Council give her a wide berth all the same, finding her just a little too on the ball.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 1; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Psychologist; Mentalism
Banes: Gone Horribly Right (Mind)



"Root"
Brendan Elliot

Type: Mage
Affiliation: People's Republic
Cabal: Collective Action
Path: Moros
Paradigm: Alchemy
Born: 1981



Virtue: Determined (It's not an easy task by any means. And it's not as simple as black and white. But someone has to, and Root somehow keeps his passion.)
Vice: Shy (Is there a point in trying to convince those who don't agree? Root doesn't bother - it's easier to just do things without bothering to ask.)

Background: There is a saying in academic circles that to leave college without becoming either very liberal or very conservative is to have wasted one's time. Brendan Elliott was the former: born one of four siblings, his father had been the first of his family to go to college, and impressed the importance of his education on all of his children. Brendan, who had always had a fondness for BBC documentaries as a child, decided to go into ecological studies. He found it brilliant, and soon was doing research on Earthships and hydroponics and ways to extract fuel from plastic bags. Unfortunately, he also got into a specific manner of health kick, and also wound up heavily into veganism and gluten-free diets and the importance of all organic foods to society.

His family treated this with extreme skepticism.

Brendan took it in stride, even if he had to bring his own dishes to family dinners. So long as he didn't talk about it at the table, his family didn't take issue with it, beyond the relentless teasing of siblings. At night, he would dream of visiting all the places he studied, walking across the land with bare feet and feeling the echoes of a dying earth. He dreamed of dust from the land rising from his footsteps, following in his wake. He dreamed of crossing the world, a single step at a time, and when he finally dreamed of reaching home, he Awakened.

It was a maddening epiphany. He could turn an oil slick into clean, fresh water. He could make plants grow even in inhospitable conditions. He could turn plastic bags into a wedge of fine cheese. He went mad with power a little bit, wrapped up in the sheer joy of his sudden potential. It was, quite literally, a magic solution to the world's problems. Pollution, hunger, the energy crisis, natural resources... utopia seemed within his grasp.

Of course, this quickly caught the attention of the London Guardians of the Veil, who caught up with the newly Awakened mage and told him to settle down. Brendan accepted their explanation on why what he was doing was a terrible idea, though this has mostly resulted in him doing things a little more quietly. He joined the Free Council - also quietly - in what was probably a snub to the Guardians, though he is not terribly outspoken politically. Instead he tends to commit guerrilla acts of magical conservation - what good is power if you don't use it for anything useful, and what point is saving the planet magically if it just dies ecologically? There's rumors he's trying to recruit other supernaturals into his environmentalist group, and sometimes strangely unfortunate things happen to companies, slaughterhouses, or other polluting bodies. No one has managed to catch him at anything more dodgy than turning his grocery bags into groceries and drinking unpasteurized milk... at least, not yet.

He also continues his mundane work in conservation, and maintains a lovely rooftop organic garden. If anyone asks, he tends to attribute his Awakening to healthy living and a lack of pesticides.

Description: Born of mixed (English/Sierra Leonean) heritage, Root has extremely dark, curly, and unruly black hair that he keeps heroically trimmed to about an inch from his head. His skin is a light umber, and he has brown eyes, and very strong features. He wears outdoorsmen shirts or polo shirts, and thick pants suitable to working in the field - he prefers pure cotton or other fiber based clothes, and eschews anything made from animal products. He has a yellow bead bracelet from a trip to Africa, and usually sports some manner of cheap plastic wristwatch. He tends to smell vaguely like herbs. His familiar, a red squirrel named Sky, can usually be found clinging to Root's clothes or curled on his shoulder during Awakened business.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 3; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Eco-Geek; Direct Action
Banes: Technophage



Vera
Maat, Vera Connolly

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Flying Aces
Path: Acanthus
Order: Adamantine Arrow
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Flesh, Transmutation; Legacy Curse: The Uncrowned King must have a calling -- something that involves both mind and body (alchemy is traditional, but martial training, auto-repair, book-binding, hand-crafting furniture, and so forth are all acceptable). The mage must work at his calling for at least twenty hours a week, or else suffer a -3 penalty on all Mystery rolls for one month.
Uncrowned Kings
Paradigm: Mixed Martial Arts
Born: 1985

[spoiler=Vera][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Confident (Beliefs must be strong enough to stand up to conflict. A weak conviction is a worthless conviction.)
Vice: Greedy (Vera is the best. It's not enough. She needs to be stronger, more powerful, in all possible ways.)

Background: Might makes right. That's how it is and always will be. Even as a child she tended to bully her way into getting what she wanted - and it always worked, because no one likes a victim, and confidence is always more important than "fair." She was quickly encouraged towards sports as a place to channel her aggression, and Vera quite eagerly agreed. She was always a physical sort, and she got into mixed martial arts and kickboxing, taking to them very rapidly. Losing many of her matches also taught her a bit of humility... of a kind. She rarely took losing well, but there was no point in throwing a tantrum over it when the solution was clear: get stronger, get to the top, and stay on the top. And she was determined to stay on top. This has lead to a few not-so-wise decisions, such as continually taking on opponents out of her weight class, or getting into street fights with random chavs. She has an impressive number of hospital visits and police reports on her record. But it taught her a lot of important lessons - straight up physical strength wasn't enough. She needed power, in every form it came in. Money, political clout, fame... she needed it.

Her only distraction from this was her bizarrely incongruous fascination with ancient Egyptian culture. Her parents joked she could have become a historian if she'd wanted, and they weren't too far off. Vera never took any classes, but she never missed a museum exhibit and she even studied Middle Egyptian on her own. She did, however, have a rather unfortunate kinship with Set - the storm lord who killed Apep every day. Fortunately, none of her friends or family knew anything about Egypt, and mostly just nodded along if she got into it.

She didn't slack off on her physical power, however. She competed in several championships and won, trying to get some measure of fame - her name was starting to get even outside of local London sports. It wasn't enough. But in one particular tournament, she found herself facing down mythic, beast headed gods instead of fellow athletes. She beat them, one by one, and at the end of the matches, she stepped up to be judged. She won the tournament that day, and won something even more - the Truth.

She joined the Adamantine Arrow without much question, and she climbed the ranks fast. She was young, in the prime of her life, starting to gain fame, and she threw herself into magic with the same intensity she threw herself into martial arts. In 2009, she was named Provost. It was an unconventional move, given her youth, but she definitely had the presence the position needed. Some mages vaguely wonder if someone else pressed for it - the Arrow is one of the weaker factions, and someone might have made a political play, hoping to have a volatile Arrow provost as some manner of pawn or decoy.

Since her promotion, Vera has turned her eye on the Consilium as a whole - might makes right, and the mages need more might. They are not, currently, the undisputed power in London. This is a situation that Vera needs to change. Either by converting the other supernaturals into solid allies, or by cowing them into submission with the Consilium's power. If Vera has her way, preferably both. Cooler heads do their best to deflect her or reign her in, but she has already attempted to kickbox a few werewolf alphas.

Since the younger mage has shown up, Vera has developed an unfortunate friendship with Kiiroe, and they are known for causing trouble.

Description: Vera is a highly distinct individual, with her dark brown hair shaved very close to her head. Her skin is tanned and usually flushed from exercise. While she little makeup makeup, she always wears very thick eyeliner, traced out from her eyes in a mock Egyptian style, and sometimes powders her face to give it a goldish sheen. She has some interesting scars on her arms (knife fight), left cheek (broken glass), and left ankle (broken bone through the skin). There are two cartouches tattooed on her upper arms, as well as two more on her feet. A full colored scarab with a sun-disk is tattooed on her back, an ankh on her left index finger, and an Egyptian style picture of Set down her right thigh. She wears no jewelry or anything that could be caught easily by an opponent. For clothing, she sticks to tank tops and shorts or tight, sturdy pants, as well has heavy steel-toed boots. Her wrists are usually wrapped with cloth sport wrist supports.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 4; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Egyptomaniac; Mixed-Martial Arts Star and Really Good At It;
Banes: Avatar (Shade of Set)



"Kaguya"
Suzuki Kiiroe

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Flying Aces
Path: Acanthus
Order: Silver Ladder
Paradigm: Traditional Japanese Shinto
Born: 1991

[spoiler=Kaguya][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Helpful (Kiiroe's power has been granted to her by the Gods, and she is placed upon this Earth to do great things.)
Vice: Arrogant (Of course she knows what she's doing! Who do you think she is?)

Background: Kiiroe always had an overactive imagination. She watched way more movies than anyone thought was healthy. She read far too many comic books in her spare time. Her extracurricular activities involved helping out at a local shrine and performing zen archery, and these hobbies were chosen because of all the magical legendary power that supposedly went along with them. She'd dabbled in all sorts of other things, from martial arts to cooking, but always lost interest when they failed to live up to the exciting movie hype. So when she awakened during a ceremonial dance practice on her seventeenth birthday, following a calligraphy path up to the moon, It. Was. AWESOME.

Knowing that she had become a heavenly guide, placed on earth to guide heroes to great wisdom and destiny, Kiiroe got started right away. After all, she'd read all the books. She understood all the great wisdom given by the great mentors and sages. She knew all the right things to say to the hero to teach him, and all the things to say to the villain to weaken them. She immediately turned to a bullied student in her homeroom class, hoping to inspire him to overcome his torment. The only trouble was, the student refused to stick to script. He kept not asking the right questions so she could dispense her heavenly wisdom, and kept going off script and doing things she didn't expect. Eventually she tried to force the matter when one of the bullies tried to beat their victim up. The bully accidentally tripped over his own shoe... and shattered the bullied victim's nose, by plowing face first into him. Eventually the victim transferred to another school, when his parents moved. But Kiiroe was certain her wisdom will stick with him, and he will learn his lesson and not be picked on any longer. Instead, she turned her eyes to the head of local martial arts school, who was struggling with financial and family issues.

Once the resulting mess had been cleaned up, Kiiroe's parents decided maybe college abroad would be a good idea. In London, maybe. Given it was halfway around the world, that was probably far enough away.

Description: Kiiroe is a young Japanese woman in her late teens. She has a rounded, cherubic face with a broad nose, and black hair that it cut in a bob. She still has and oily teenage completion, so she wears a lot of makeup to cover it up and to appear older. Kiiroe likes to wear traditional Japanese miko outfits, but realizes this makes her stick out and makes everyone think she's an idiot. She therefore varies between short-skirted dresses, outfits that could be seen on an anime cosplayer, and clothing that resembles a miko outfit as closely as possible without actually being one. She does not wear much jewelry, but will sometimes wear insanely decorative headpieces if she can do it without getting stares.

Rank: 1
Mental 2; Physical 1; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 1
Notable Powers: Shinto; Overactive Imagination; Sweet
Banes: Gone Horribly Right (Fortune)



Sydney Thorne
Monochrome

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Flying Aces
Path: Mastigos
Order: Adamantine Arrow
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Foretelling, Time; Legacy Curse: Questions must have a mystery to solve -- it can be a police case or a scientific research project, or some other mystery, but it must be a serious mystery that challenges the Question's skills. The Question must spend at least twenty hours per week working on this mystery, and during that time, the Question takes a -(Gnosis) penalty to all Mystery rolls that does not somehow relate to their present case. Self-defense and survival always relates, however.
The Eleventh Question
Paradigm: Mirrors and Reflections
Born: 1975

[spoiler=Sydney Thorne][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Righteous (Sydney is out to do the right thing, and if the police don't help, she'll do it without them.)
Vice: Gluttonous (She has an unfortunate need for speed, and might enjoy the thrill of the chase a little too much.)

Background: Sydney used to be a cop. Also an albino - still is. The latter she tried not to keep her down, even if she had to wear sunglasses all the time and was sick of the phrase "never trust an albino" within a week. The former worked out well enough, for a time. It was a hard job, simultaneously unrewarding and boring at times, but keeping the peace was important and Sydney knew it. In her spare time, she cultivated a hobby involving fast and sexy sports cars. She claimed to her colleges she was training for high speed chases, even if her preferred driving style resembled something more out of a Hollywood movie. She never did get her criminal chase, but she stuck with it, right up until the point where she got that anonymous, panicked phone call.

Sydney wasn't even sure what they encountered there. She knows what she saw - horrible, strange, shadowy things that didn't seem to move or exist correctly - but she doesn't have a lot of words to describe it. Hitting them... seemed to do something, though it left an unpleasant feeling in her arms that lingered for some time. The police managed to get out, some in less than one piece, but they were all clearly changed by what they'd seen. There were men in suits waiting for them, back at the station.

Everything got neatly cleaned up, swept under the table. Sydney's fellow officers all seemed to accept the party line about hallucinogenic gas and terrorists. Sydney, of course, couldn't let it lie. Not just for the truth, or for the victim at the end of that phone call. Not for her fellow officers, that were falling to suicides and alcohol and mysterious disappearances. Not just because she was frustrated with how the police were ignoring evidence, on the word of some suited schlubs. She couldn't let it go because she was the only one who even admitted something had happened back there. She was starting to doubt her own mind. Her failure to toe the line got her put on leave, and she used that leave to go back to the scene and start poking. Eventually, she must have poked the wrong thing, because they came back. And it was horrible.

She fought them off somehow, in part by becoming like them. She fought them with strange shadowstuff and moving in ways that she shouldn't. And she understood them, just a little, then. It made her sick, but she didn't let it stop her. She plowed onward, searching for the truth, and at the top of Pandemonium's Watchtower, she found it.

There were different men in suits waiting for her, when she got back. These ones have proved a bit more acceptable to her.

Description: Monochrome is a wiry woman marked with albinism - her skin is chalk white, unless its seen too much sun, at which point it turns a blotchy red. Her hair is pure white, and her blue eyes are run through with pink and blood red. She wears sunglasses during the day by necessity, and often a hat to keep the sun off her. Giving into the inevitable image this presents, she tends to dress like one of the Blue's Brothers. For athletic practice, she favors a gray gi top and exercise pants; otherwise, she wears normal shirts and pants, but true to her Shadow Name, will only wear black, white, and gray.

Monochrome generally has a reputation as a cool cat - smooth and unflappable in that 1920s noir way, but she is definitely an adrenaline junky. Her vice of choice is sports cars, usually ones that are going at dangerously high speeds.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 4; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Ex-Cop; Cool Cat; Speed Freak
Banes: Voidcaller



Zev
Zev Miller

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Flying Aces
Path: Thyrsus
Order: None
Paradigm: Magical Imitation
Born: 1989

[spoiler=Zev Miller][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Hopeful (Zev thinks the best of everyone and every situation.)
Vice: Jealous (He'd never harm anyone out of envy, but he sure tries to imitate them.)

Background: Zev was just a normal kid, until the Guardians pulled him out of the wreckage of a Seer attack. The stress and panic had caused him to Awaken, his mind riding out the battle in a distant Watchtower. His parents were in Cambridge, with him supporting himself via a job at the local Tesco, so the Consilium sort of adopted him. The mages bounce him between one another to both keep an eye on him and teach him magic. Unfortunately, he is really, really, hilariously bad at magic.

The Mysterium sometimes runs experiments on how he could be so incompetent. It seems to defy all good sense. Presumably, as an Awakened Soul, he ought to be magically capable at at least some fashion. But no. His attempts are near uniform in their failure, though not uniform in the details. Sometimes, he just fails, but more often, he fails in bizarre and interesting ways. Half the time, his failures defy the known rules of magic. His successes attract attention by being rarer than hen's teeth. He's accomplished some highly skilled and unusual spells, which points to him having the makings of a talented mage... if it weren't for the fact he can never repeat it, and otherwise completely sucks. Some of the Mysterium have theorized that he simply doesn't have a proper paradigm - he keeps trying to cast by imitating other mages. He's been encouraged to find his own understanding of magic, but he hasn't really got a clue what he's supposed to be doing.

Zev does not appear to have taken to the grandeur of Awakened life. He continually treats the mages like his best friends in the whole world, and not a Cabal of enlightened will-workers that reshape reality with the power in their souls. He's been thrown out of a few Mysterium functions for inviting people to play X-Box games (possibly because some of the mages took him up on it), and the last time he was called before the Council he brought soda and doughnuts. For this reason, the mage higher-ups politely encourage him not to come to the Consilium, so everyone can pretend that they're dignified persons. For this same reason, he tends to be popular with the less stuffy sorts. Zev is relentlessly cheerful, rather generous, and generally innocent. He also has a strange knack for showing up at the right... or precisely wrong... time. Fortunately, he has some very good instincts on when to run, as well.

Zev has no Order, but is generally found with the Mysterium or Free Council, assuming he can avoid Lyla, as she scares him.

Description: Zev is a tall young man, with wide brown eyes and short brown hair. When not dressed in his Tesco employee's uniform (which only happens if he doesn't have time to change) he dresses utterly casually: t-shirts, gray sweatshirts, cargo pants, sneakers. Most his clothes look like they've seen much better days, with large and small holes scattered in odd spots. It's not so much that he can't afford to replace them (though Tesco does not pay him much), so much as that like many lazy bachelors, he's too lazy and uncaring to go clothing shopping. Most of his budget tends to wind up spent on food and videogames.
Path Thyrsus
Order None

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 1, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 4, Stamina 3
Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulation 2, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Academics 2, Investigation 2, Politics 1
Physical Skills: Athletics (Run Away) 3, Brawl 3, Larceny 1, Stealth (Unexpected Appearances) 2, Survival 2
Social Skills: Persuasion (Good Guy Bromage) 2, Socialize 2, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge 1

Merits: Allies (Criminal)
0+Fusang 1
1, Fast Reflexes 1, Resources
0+Fusang 1
1, Status (
Well-Paid (Influence: Criminal)
Fusang) 1
Combat Merits: Fighting Finesse (Punch) 2, Fighting Style (Martial Arts) 1
Lair: None

Willpower: 7
Wisdom: 7
Universal Banes: Paradox, Nimbus (Chaos and Fortean Phenomenon)
Personal Banes: Arcane Maelstrom (counts for 2), Chaos Mage

Initiative: 8
Defense: 1
Health: 8
Speed: 11

Gnosis: 3
Mysteries: Lore ●●●, Flesh ●●, Fortune ●●, Shadow ●
Magical Tool: None
Mana: 12/3

Attacks...........................Damage.....Dice Pool.....Special
Sad Punch............................0B...............7.................AP 1, Reduced Called Shot Penalties (1)
Blast....................................3L...............7................Minus Stamina, costs 1 Mana; Paradigm-Less



Lily
Lily Anderson

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Parliament
Path: Acanthus
Order: Silver Ladder
Paradigm: Inscriptions and Implements
Born: 1957



Virtue: Pragmatic (For better or worse, Lily is not a woman of strong passions or reckless actions.)
Vice: Cold & Prideful (It was rage that caused her to harm those who wronged her, but it is pride that causes her to continue to harm herself.)

Background: What do you do when everything you love is a lie?

Lily is old enough that most the mages in the current Consilium only know her as she is now. She goes simply by Lily, or Lily Anderson - most doubt it's her real name, though perhaps it is and she simply doesn't care. She Awakened in her late teens, and showed a promising talent for for magic, and studying artifacts and making magical implements. She was very useful, and pretty, and young. Young enough not to know the dangers of dealing with humans that had too much power. An older, more powerful mage took her under his wing, offering to be her mentor. Within a week, she was "madly in love" with him, trapped under a powerful enchantment. And the other mages let it stand.

There was, to be certain, defense in ignorance. Some suspected, but were long on suspicions and short on evidence. Lily's "mentor" was a powerful old mage, and he left no traces. There were some who thought the insinuations were a political ploy against a high-profile target. Lily's "mentor" was a powerful and vicious spider, who had been carefully spinning his alliances to guarantee a catastrophe if anyone moved against him.

It took a very brazen - and lucky, and foolish - mage to free Lily from the spell... and in truth it was mostly by accident. And so Lily woke after more than a decade of dream walking, feeling the love that had defined her life crashing all around her and vanishing into smoke. The entirety of her Awakened life revealed itself to be a rancid lie. Lily killed her savior for that. When her husband, her mentor, came home, she killed him too.

She was punished, but not so harshly as she ought to have been. Those in charge did not wish to linger upon the case, and have people start to ask other questions, about more than just her.

Her psyche from that point entered a rather tight downward spiral. She was a rather emotional woman, and she hated it. Every loss of control, every breakdown, just invited pity and silence, and it was humiliating. Emotions, she decided, were the root of it all. Anger and betrayal were ravaging her, and love... well, love was the worst of them all. Love had ruined her. Love had lead her to expect better, from everyone. So she concocted a ritual to get rid of it, forever. And as soon as she though it was safe enough, she performed it.

Did it work? No one has managed to enchant her again, and a few people have tried. Lily is pleasant enough these days - quiet, stern-faced, but safe to talk to. She bears no ill-will towards those who abandoned her. She has no anger against those who screw up or backstab her. To hold either would require her to hold any expectations that anyone would do better. And she certainly has never loved. She could hold a good working relationship with someone for years, and if the Consilium ruled they had to die, she would willingly help, without any hesitation or regrets. There are a few mages she seems close to, and many mages like to ascribe motivations of fondness or envy or resentment to her. To do otherwise is to believe she cares nothing about the horrible wrong done to her, and that she cares even less for the people she knows - to believe they aren't even dogs to her, not even insects. And that is something that even the mages aren't quite comfortable with.

In her day job, Lily works as the personal assistant to the Honorable Christopher Gregory Abbott, a Labour MP -- managing his itinerary, setting his schedule, fielding calls from harried constituents and curious journalists, and otherwise creating order out of political chaos. She is very good at her job.

Description: Lily is a tall woman in her fifties, with pale, washed out skin, and pale, washed out blue eyes. Her pale, washed out blond hair is cut mid-way down her neck, parted, and often hangs in whispy thin strands about her face. She is very thin, making her face and features very sharp. She does not wear makeup or jewelry, and she tends to dress in pale, washed out, unrevealing dresses, usually with long sleeves. She used to be quite pretty, and there's still some of that left in her sharp, austere face.

The only luxury she affords herself are a pair of Celtic-style bracers from the Silver Ladder's vaults, and a number of acrostic amulets, most of which she herself made.

Rank: 3
Mental 6; Physical 5; Social 1
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers: Mind-Mage; Gematria & Kabbalism; Relic-Crafter; Thoroughly Emotionless
Banes: Mirror Reversal, Gone Horribly Right (Mind)



Chanteraux
Isiah Moore, Isiah Chanteraux, Dr. Chanteraux

Type: Mage
Affiliation: People's Republic
Cabal: The Parliament
Path: Obrimos
Paradigm: Mad Science (Frankenstein-style, lots of beakers and chemicals and electricity)
Born: 1960



Virtue: Kind & Helpful (Why does the doctor do what he does? Because he wants to help, and he asks nothing in return.)
Vice: Indecisive (It's too easy to smooth over conflict, to be reasonable, to not offend, and to accrue a lifetime of small regrets and "what if"s.)

Background: Isiah was the sort of small child that enjoyed pulling the wings off bugs and performing experiments on small animals. In any television show, this moral failing would have irrevocably marked him as a sociopath and inevitable serial killer. Since he was not a television character, it was instead a phase he grew out of and that morphed into an interest in biology. He limited most his depredations to things that were already dead, was more humane and scientific in his general experiments, and only caught and killed animals that polite society did not like. He even kept a number of pet mice and lizards without incident. In general, he turned into a perfectly normal young gentleman. At least, until he Awakened. That's where things got weird.

He doesn't recall much of what happened, only that lightning was involved (he thinks he was struck by it, but as he isn't dead, he might have hallucinated that part), and that he was laughing a lot. The local mages eventually came to pick him up, and introduce him into the world of the Awakened. He had to fight them to return to school - his magic now seemed irrevocably entwined with his mundane studies, and Isiah seemed to have lost the capacity to tell which was which. It took a while to reach a compromise, and it lead to Isiah significantly under-performing a few semesters. Eventually, it sorted itself out.

The downside to this was he now owed some large favors to a powerful mage, who wanted Isiah to go perform powerful rituals on a powerful magic fountain so he could perform a divination ritual. Isiah did it, but there was nasty magical backlash - no doubt why he'd been the one told to go look in the fountain, and not the man he owed the favor to. If the ritual succeeded, Isiah has no idea - he was simply flooded with unyielding visions of his own death. When he woke up later, the other mage was gone. That mage wound up dead not too long afterwards.

But Isiah's eyes were permanently cursed from then on, constantly seeing his life slowly tick down. He sometimes sees it on other people as well - but its erratic. On a dying person he can see their life down to the last minute, but most the time he can only catch quick glimpses, a vague impression. The numbers can change from one encounter to the next, as well. Even someone with their life nearly gone could find themselves suddenly turned around. A decision, a stray action, a life saving dose of medicine, it was amazing how little it took. But no matter what he did, Isiah's own life kept steadily ticking down. His death seemed set in stone.

Was that why he became a doctor? To try and make something of his life before it was gone? To spite the unyielding force of fate? To spare others what he himself could not escape? Perhaps that and a thousand little regrets that he's been burdened with, over the years. He can see people in danger of death, and he can't always prevent it. Should he have stopped them from going to work? Said something different? Or was their fate locked in stone, just like his is? He is, by nature, a peaceful sort, and not prone to stirring up trouble, but his eyes have left him constantly questioning and regretting. Could things have been changed, if he'd stood up? If he'd pushed harder? If he'd said no?

He's made his peace with his own doom, though some wonder if it's because he has decided he deserves his fate. Too many little regrets, and too many large ones. His worst is Lily - he'd known her, and he'd suspected, and they'd tried to dispel her and failed, but at the time it seemed there was nothing that could be done. But someone did manage to free her, later on, even if it was by accident. And so Isiah feels that failing heavily, wondering forever if he couldn't have done something more. He goes out of her way to talk to her, even loves her, just a little. He's her closest friend, and he know he means nothing to her. He can see her death etched in her face, a cold and lonely end. It makes him sad.

There are some people who are trying to convince him that his impeding doom is wrong, or avoidable, or simply a trick of a magic addled mind, but Isiah dismisses them without even hearing the argument. He's convinced that anyone who says as much simply hates the thought of destiny being unshakable.

Isiah -- or Chanteraux rather -- is a highly-respected member of the Free Council, much to his own bewilderment. He joined the Libertines out of some vague sense of old-fashioned Gladstonian liberalism, and his peacefulness and placatory tendencies meant that he never really got any enemies, and if he has few close friends, he has many people who like him and respect him. Thus, Chanteraux is a favorite compromise candidate for Free Council offices, serving a term as Councilor back in the 80s and is presently the most respected diplomat in the Order -- though when matters are time-sensitive, the Libertines tend to send someone to hurry him along, as Isiah has a tendency to misplace the odd day or week when working on his experiments. Since 2003, he's also been the Emissary to the Kindred, the result of a political deal between Civitas and the Free Council. He acts as a voice of somewhat absent-minded reason, both between the vampires and the mages, and between the Libertines and the Consilium.

He tells people he was Councilor because he lost a coin toss. No one contradicts him.

Description: Isiah has managed to age particularly well, being a well-looking man in his youth and remaining a well looking man now. His blond hair is neatly combed and parted, and of a shade that does not make the gray in it stand out. He has green eyes that catch the light and shine easily, and he wears a pair of thin-framed glasses to correct his vision. He has a small but thick scar cutting across his upper lip, and likes to make up a different story every time someone asks him how he got it (he fell as a teen and split his lip on rough asphalt - it is a completely uninteresting story). He speaks with no lisp and has a deep, low voice. Despite his profession as a doctor, when off the job he likes to dress in black. Standard garb includes suits, collared shirts, ties, or sweater vests (casual). He doesn't like short sleeves but is quite willing to roll up long sleeves. He owns a very fancy black and gold wristwatch.

Isiah doesn't have a malicious bone in his body, but he does have that particular combination of long and short attention spans that can make him misplace his priorities. He's easy-going, charismatic, and calm, with a non-conflictive personality and a friendly smile for everyone. He rarely sends a visitor away from his door, and treats them with the hospitality that one might give a friend. On the downside, he's unfazed to the point of looking callous, and tends to get overly wrapped up technical issues of solving things or in his own discoveries. He's a bit of a ditz, basically, but he's a purely altruistic man. The good doctor has never intentionally harmed a human being, and the thought of doing so unsettles him.

Rank: 3
Mental 5; Physical 2; Social 5
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers: Good Doctor; Aged Gracefully; Nice Word to Say About Everyone; Respected by Mage and by Vampire
Banes: Heavy Hand of Fate, Unearthly Sight (Kirlian Photography)



Div
Kuja Dewanji, Zelatores of the Mysterium

Type: Mage (Mad)
Cabal: The Parliament
Path: Thyrsus
Order: Mysterium
Paradigm: Abacuses, beads, and code (Matrices)
Born: 1982



Virtue: Determined
Vice: Resentful (It's not fair. Kuja didn't do anything wrong. So why does everything go wrong for her?)
Fault: Envy/Punish those who are better off/Nature

Background: Life just isn't fair. Kuja Dewanji had everything else going for her. She'd been born to hardworking immigrant parents, who'd moved over from India. She'd had a good education, though she'd left medical studies to pursue a degree in computers. She'd had to deal with her parent's bitter disappointment, but she had her two brothers to deflect their attentions onto. The guilt was harder to shake, but she swallowed it down. She had a promising career start as a freelance web designer, she had a burgeoning social life, she had a boyfriend (even if her parents didn't approve), and she was doing pretty well for herself. Then she got sick.

The state covered the money, but Kuja was too tired to work after the treatments. Her parents chipped in, helping to keep her afloat. Her friends all sent her positive messages. Just hang in there, everyone said. Kuja did. Months turned into years. She was, so the doctors claimed, getting better. But they meant it in a dry, medical sense - that the disease was dying faster than she was. What they did not mean was that she would be well enough to go out with her friends, or that could get back to work and stop leeching off her parents, or that she could even so much as eat a meal with one of her siblings. She was simply too sick, too nauseated, too tired for any of that. Everyone tried to be sympathetic, tried to help - they really did. But after years of trying to do things with her only to find her too tired, years of trying to give comfort that never made her feel better, and years of trying sympathize while having no idea what to say, an inevitable distance set in. And Kuja, who had desperately trying not to be a bother, out of cultural pressure, and out of resentment that no one could understand, let it.

Her closest friend, Abigail Lawson, still stuck with her, visiting often and escorting Kuja to her treatments. Kuja kept her a a confidant for her dark secrets, and her despairing and paranoid feelings that this was divine punishment for disappointing her parents. When Kuja Awakened, in a nightmarish haze of nausea and delirium, she immediately sought out her friend - unaware of the Masquerade or the perils of paradox. Even so, Abigail worked with her to figure this new magic out. They managed a system of computer code that could control the strange phenomenon, which she could transfer on to beads to form mathematical matrices to get the same effect. She wasn't really really sure if Abigail could truly see or was humoring her. Maybe Abigail simply pitied her poor, delusional friend, who had finally gone off the deep end. Maybe that sneaking suspicion and resentment is why the demon ripped its way out of Kuja's heart, and tore a bloody line from Abigail's throat to her navel.

Panicked, Kuja ran. The murder made the papers, but no one bothered to ask Kuja about it. It was like the world had forgotten about her. Already estranged, Kuja didn't find anything odd about it. She didn't really feel any better, but her magic made her strong enough to start searching for answers. She slowly made her way to the London Consilium, and after a bit of observation, joined the Mysterium. The mages cured her disease easily. If anyone could find a cure for the demons, it would be them. She just had to make sure no one caught her, or they'd kill her - she could see for herself how willing to go above the law these mages were. So she became outspoken against the Guardians, to curry favor with the Mysterium. There were more incidents, more demons, more murder. The Guardians came sniffing about, of course, and the Mysterium claimed they were being politically persecuted. And in the ensuing argument, Kuja fell right through the cracks.

They'll find a cure. She knows they will. Just hang in there.

Description: Kuja is a short Indian woman in her late-twenties, very thin, with dark brown skin. Her face is rounded and mildly childish, with thin, prominent lips, though she has a rather sallow look to her face that bespeaks her former illness. Her jet black hair only falls to her shoulders and is rather thin - Kuja wears it up and near her scalp whenever she can. She wears fashionable English clothes, preferring light colors and creams, and trending toward turtlenecks and long sleeves, as she still gets cold easily. She often wears a patterned scarf around her neck as a memento to her Indian heritage. She has long nails she likes to paint in intricate ways, and likes gold hoop earrings and bracelets. Since learning the art of shapeshifting, Kuja enjoys spending time in animal forms (less sickly than her own, more powerful, more capable) and can often be found in the form of just about any animal imaginable -- though outside her flat, she sticks to ones that don't attract attention.

Even after her Awakening, Kuja (taking the Shadow Name of 'Div,' an alternative name for 'Daeva' or 'Demon') still tries to do everything right, still tries to avoid putting her problems onto people. She tries to be nice, and certainly in comparison to Lyla she comes off as the pleasant one, though there's still a little touch of fanaticism in her pro-Mysterium, pro-magic stances. The rest of the time, people tend to forget her, fail to notice her, try to get away from her. She can come off like a hospital nurse - perfectly pleasant, but somehow you know she's overworked and surrounded by awfulness and you just want to leave. That's the feeling that Kuja gives people, even if few can articulate it in so many words.



Rank: 2
Mental 5; Physical 1; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: The Mad; Web Designer; Shapeshifter
Banes: Living Spell (Nature)



"Jasper"
Jesran al-Hamdani

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Cleaning Crew
Path: Acanthus
Order: Guardian of the Veil
Paradigm: "Tricking" the Universe
Born: 1977

[spoiler=Jasper, only with an additional head-cloth][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Hopeful (This time it will be different. You just wait. Everything is going to turn out just fine, in the end.)
Vice: Hasty (He just can't help himself! It's just too easy to pull one over on other people!)

Background: Jesran was always clever. He was also always too clever for his own good. His teachers always encouraged thinking outside the box, but whenever he did it no one was very thrilled. He was the kind of person who would use physics to leave money in an upside down water glass, or to slowly change the settings on a co-worker's computer over the course of a year. Trying to prank him back with his own methods usually failed, as he was familiar enough to know how to defuse them. His parents were perfectly thrilled at this sign of their son's intelligence. Everyone else was less thrilled, but as human nature was wont, found him funny enough when targeting someone who wasn't them. Then he went and Awakened, and became a prankster with magical powers. This did not end well.

It wasn't the mages who got him. They did not particularly care to have their wands suddenly shoot funfetti sprinkles, or finding their keys on the ceiling. But Jesran never did anything that could have caused permanent harm, and despite several (hopefully joking) requests that he be put to death, he mostly got some stern reprimands from the Consilium. He also was perfectly willing to toy with his dangerous enemies, as well. Seers, Scelesti, Demons, they were all just as proud and narrow minded. For a while it served him very well - most his harmless pranks could easily be given deadlier applications. On the downside, it made people mad. Madder than just normal defeat. After a fateful incident when he tricked a djinn-like demon creature into unraveling its own ritual - and killing its own allies - it flew into a rage and placed a death curse on him. The djinn died to cast a curse of that weight, but once it had settled, Jesran could not cast spells. Not a single mote of magic worked for him any more.

He doesn't think he's a Sleeper, or that he's lost his soul, but he doesn't know how to check - for obvious reasons, he's reluctant to tell his fellow mages that he's completely powerless right now, and possibly abyss tainted. Desperate to keep his condition a secret, Jesran turned his prankster mind to fooling his fellows. He gathered up as many imbued items and artifacts as he could, acting as though they were magical implements as an explanation for their presence. He still pulls the occasional prank, but he's terrified of catching too much attention. It's managed to work... so far. But Jesran is getting very, very nervous.

Description: Jesran's family is from the UAE, having come over a while back - his parents are thoroughly British, as is he. His skin is a light, tanned brown, with close cut black hair and brown eyes. His face is mildly triangular, with a strong jaw. He wears a light mustache and beard. For some reason, he likes checkered shirts, often wearing checkered flannels or workshirts during his office workday (He works for a PR firm that the Metropolitan Police Service has on retainer). On casual, hot days he likes denim shorts and sandals - otherwise, he sticks to khakis and other acceptable work pants. Due to his condition, he now wears a truly startling amount of eclectic crap. Beads, amulets, bracers, feathers or dried flowers: it doesn't matter if it looks awful and the cultures don't even pretend to match, all that matters is that it works.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 1; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Practical Joker; PR Flak; Connected with the Metropolitan Police Service; Relic Mage Only
Banes: Living Spell (Time)



"Kardasheva"
Zaria Reznikoff

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Cleaning Crew
Path: Obrimos
Order: Guardians of the Veil
Paradigm: Object Magic (Slavic folk magic)
Born: 1977

[spoiler=Kardasheva][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Just (Those who act well act well to all, those who are selfish are selfish to all.)
Vice: Callous (Why are these people all such spoiled children?!)

Background: Life has been mildly disappointing to Zaria. Born in Volgograd to Russian Jews during the Soviet era, she lost her father to an industrial accident when she was six. Her mother, a chemist, had to support both Zaria and Zaria's grandparents, leaving the young girl to be raised by said grandparents while her mother worked. As a result, Zaria was more strongly attached to Communist ideals than a normal child of her age -- her grandfather had fought in the Great Patriotic War and never tired of saying how if it hadn't been for Stalin, they'd all have been gassed. Zaria, growing up in a city still bearing the scars of war (Volgograd was formerly and more famously known as Stalingrad), was perfectly willing to believe it. Which proved very awkward when the Soviet Union collapsed, and the family's income stayed the same while prices doubled daily. Zaria's mother, being rather practical about the whole affair, systematically sold off all the family's possessions, pooled all the money, and moved her family to England. The grandparents complained mightily, but had very little choice but to go along. Pensions and academic salaries amounted for next to nothing now, and they would starve if they stayed in Russia.

England treated Zaria well enough, though she and her grandparents would spend hours nitpicking and griping about every little thing wrong with the country. She quickly decided to follow her mother's footsteps into physics, having no interest in other sciences, and especially not the Humanities. She had been raised very secularly: Her grandparents had heavily impressed their atheistic beliefs and the frivolity of superstition. Which is why Zaria found it very upsetting when animals started talking to her. She immediately checked herself into psychiatric care, but aside from apparent auditory hallucinations, she showed no danger to herself or others. And a ball had been set in motion that she couldn't stop - eventually, she Awakened.

Fine. Magic. It was probably some brand of bizarre science that hadn't been tapped into yet - so she told herself, although it was annoyingly mystic, and impossible for others to scientifically reproduce it. Perhaps aliens had been involved - why they encouraged Slavic folk magic was an open question. Zaria put her magic out of mind and ignored it, most of the time - at least, until the local Guardians showed up. Curiosity prompted her to follow them back to the Consilium. The promise of understanding was simply too great, and if there were more people like her... possibilities were starting to form in her mind. A council of people with a deeper understanding of the universe intrigued.

What she found instead was a bunch of egotistical mages squabbling over some zoning law, demanding loudly the right to do whatever they wanted, and whining about being unfairly punished for screwing up some mortal or another. It was not one of the Consilium's best days - there were heavy, hidden politics involved, and Zaria had been biased to start, but it left an impression. Zaria now works with the Guardians of the Veil, very loyally, and has thrown herself into the study of magic. Specifically, the study of unraveling magic. Zaria has seen what mages tend to accomplish, and she thinks humanity is doing just fine with physics.

Description: Zaria is a rather curvy woman in her 30s, with curly honey-blond hair down to her shoulder blades. Her features are rather prominent, and she has striking dark eyes. She has a tendency to wear very dark shades of lipstick, as well as heavy flower earrings and matching rings. She doesn't pay that much attention to her clothing, picking up whatever dresses or suit skirts are trending in Britain at the moment, though usually picking those with V-necks. She also does not wear heels, instead wearing socks and flats.

Rank: 2
Mental 5; Physical 2; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Physicist; Dispel-Master; Rational Explanation for Everything, and I will Damn Well Find It!
Banes: Magical Tell



"Maeve"
Sylvia Wilson

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Cleaning Crew
Path: Mastigos
Order: Silver Ladder
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Passion, Mind; Legacy Curse: Whisperers suffer a -(Gnosis) penalty to Mystery rolls whenever they are completely alone.
Bearer of the Eternal Voice
Paradigm: Perfumes and Scents
Born: 1979

Virtue: Helpful (Sylvia can't stand watching people be their own worst enemy, and she's willing to step up and help them out.)
Vice: Arrogant (She craves that feeling of success, the knowledge that she fixed everything. It's like a drug to her, and she can't live without it.)

[spoiler=Maeve]

[/spoiler.]

Background: Sylvia did not have a happy childhood. It wasn't terrible. No one ever hit her. She wasn't molested or bullied. Other children have had much worse. It was a childhood of neglect, not of abuse. Her parents treated each other with contempt, culminating in a messy divorce, and they were too busy loathing each other to really trouble her. On occasion, they'd try to poison their children against one another, but Sylvia was too old for it at that point. She watched her parents' parade of bad friends,bad decisions, and complete failures in empathy, and waited to get out. It was all so stupid to her. From her dispassionate outsider perspective, she could see every stupid misunderstanding her parents made, and how they turned them into deliberate atrocities against their persons. She tried to explain it to them, but they told her to be quiet because they were adults and she was a teen.

She left as soon as she legally could. Sylvia survived on a string of temp jobs and secretary work, occasionally taking a few night classes. Things were better, those days, though she still found shades of her parents in the office politics. The complicated webs of interpersonal relationships were constantly being fouled by bad decisions, petty arguments, and failures to communicate. Sylvia tried to give advice, but it changed very little. It was just as frustrating as it had been as a child. Sylvia could see where all the failures had come about, and usually it was just a miscommunication or someone stubbornly refusing to do things they knew they ought to do. But eventually, Sylvia gave up here as well, focusing on her night classes. She did pick up a few books on psychology, however. She felt like there was something, something tickling the edges of her brain, some great conclusion about the human mind that was forming from all her observations. If she could just grasp it, she'd be able to change things.

When it finally clicked, she Awakened.

And... everything got better. Her co-worker quit smoking. The boss stopped harassing the secretary. The management actually consulted with the engineering department. Productivity soared. And everyone appreciated Sylvia. Maybe a little more romatically than she wanted, and maybe Darryl in Marketing hated her guts, but everyone else agreed he was being jealous and irrational. She got promoted up the management chain, though eventually she left to help other companies, being hired on as a high-powered consultant. A few more miracle workings later, and she was asked to start working as a motivational speaker, a job she's starting to prefer. It's much less exhausting. After all, once she has her influence on people, she needs to maintain it. Otherwise they freak out at her for no reason they can explain, and go back to smoking or cheating on their wife or what have you. She still craves that personal touch of fixing things herself, however. Enough that if she spots someone who's struggling with a problem, she might give them a little push. Not much of one. After all, they still choose to do it themselves, so they would have caved in soon anyway - just in less controlled circumstances. Hers is just enough of a push to make them go too far, so they realize they need help. And come to her. And once they're there, they can finally listen.

Maeve, as she's known in the London Consilium, is respected Thearch and one of Kore's more reliable cronies -- recently she's also taken the younger mage Kaguya under her wing, showing her the ropes of higher Awakened society. Maeve is also the Emissary to the Unseelie, though the situation there is rather different from the one with J. Ilkin Aylesworth and the Seelie. The faerie don't really like Maeve, but they respect her and fear her a little, since she's almost a cruel Unseelie enchantress herself. She doesn't really like them very much either, so the feeling is mutual. At the same time, she can provide a hard-edged foil to her more pleasant Seelie counterpart. Maeve is also a regular rival of Melissa Westly -- the two mentally-disposed mages loathe each other passionately. Finally, Maeve has over the last few years been seen working with Angela Citysmith -- the two met at a business function some years ago, and find each other useful allies. They're probably as close to 'friends' as either has.

Description: Sylvia is an attractive women in her 30s, with hazel eyes and pale skin. Her dark brown hair is modestly curly, cut at her neck and with bangs that frame her face. She wears very light makeup, save for the dark crimson lipstick on her lips, and she is never without a sweet smelling perfume that hangs around her. This has caused a few troubles with people's allergies, in the past.

Sylvia dresses professionally, in dark and attractive businesswoman suits. In more casual circumstances, she loses the jacket, ditches the heels, and might switch to khakis or jeans, though she still prefers the collared business shirts. Any jewelry she wears is understated, to keep with her professional image.

Rank: 3
Mental 5; Physical 3; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers: Businesswoman; Herald to the Fae; Mental Fixer
Banes: Gone Horribly Right (Passion); Mirror Reversal



"Binary"
The Interfector

Type: Mage
Cabal: None
Path: Unknown
Order: Guardians of the Veil
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Passion, Shadow; Legacy Curse: The Diabolist is unable to cast magic upon hallowed ground; they further take a -(Gnosis) penalty to cast magic against anyone bearing a holy symbol of any religion (this only applies to purposefully constructed holy symbols, however -- two pieces of wood that happen to form a cross do not count).
Bene Ashmedai
Paradigm: Hermeticism
Born: ???

Virtue: Determined (The Interfector cannot be bribed, cannot be threatened, cannot be diverted from his course...)
Vice: Violent (...And that course is death.)

Background: There are many reasons why the Guardians of the Veil are the most loathed Order in London. Some remember Civitas's coup, and the Hierarch has not always been gentle in his leadership. Others know the Guardians as the mages who shut down arcane experiments, confiscate magical grimoires, and hand down punishments for threatening the Masquerade. But one reason, and far from the least, is the presence of the Interfector.

The office of Interfector goes back to Atlantean times, or so the Visus Draconis believes. The Interfector is a mage who serves the Consilium as assassin, executioner, and torturer. They are dispatched upon the orders of the Hierarch and at least two other Councilors, and they are accountable to no one. They cannot be punished for their actions, they cannot be challenged to duels. The Interfector can kill and mutilate, and there is no recourse -- they act with the full and legal authority of the Consilium of London. Of course, a Mage is free to try and kill the Interfector -- they exist so fully outside the law that none would gainsay the attempt -- but this is easier said than done. The Interfector is very good at their job.

The Awakened community loathes the Interfector. By ancient tradition, the Interfector is ritually unclean. Mages may not touch an Interfector, nor stand in one's shadow without becoming tainted as well. More modern Awakened merely despise the Interfector as the symbol of all that is murderous and authoritarian in the rule of the Hierarch, Civitas. He had re-instated the office of Interfector in 1914, immediately after his coup, after it had been out of favor for over a century. The ancient steel mask was brought forth once more.

No one knows who the Interfector is, except for Civitas. He or she goes by the Shadow Name of Binary, and has for about a decade now, a play on the dual nature of the office as enforcer of the law and assassin outside of the law. Binary appears only in meetings of Consilium or upon missions, and their identity is concealed with both magic and the ritual garb of office -- an iron mask, robes, and gloves. The rest of the time, Binary is just one Mage among many, living out their lives as a normal member of Awakened society. More than that, sometimes another wears the robes and mask of office at Consilium sessions, to divert suspicion from the true Interfector. The most popular candidate for the identity of Binary, among those given to theorizing, is the Guardian Provost, Seventeen.

Ultimately, Binary is the willing slave of the Consilium, and the ultimate expression of the Guardian tenet that "Sins for a just end grant wisdom to the Awakened." The Interfector is the ultimate sinner, taking on the damnation of the world so as to spare the rest of the Consilium their burden. The Interfector is also the ultimate killer, equally capable of killing with with blade or spell, and of facing off and winning against rogue magi, abyssal horrors, ancient vampires or werewolf alphas. That said, Binary is an assassin, not a mass murderer, and will got to considerable lengths to avoid killing anyone not slated for death by the Consilium.

Description: Clad in ritual garb, Binary is a very distinctive individual. He or she wears loose-fitting black robes, ragged from the ages and covered in ancient symbols representing death and rebirth -- in particular, the leaves of the Yew tree and the triskele, the triple-spiral. Binary's hands are covered with elbow-length gloves of a deep crimson, and their face is hidden behind a heavy iron mask with slits for the eyes and mouth, rusted and blood-stained from centuries of use. The Interfector's Mask is a potent arcane device -- it was first forged not long after the fall of Rome, and has been used by scores of Interfectors over the course of the intervening centuries. Other parts of the Interfector's appearance are more modern. Beneath the robes, Binary wears modern body armor and close-fitting black clothing, with small pouches for their weapons or gear.

Traditionally, the Interfector does not speak unless spoken to. Like his or her predecessors, Binary has a cool and reserved manner when spoken to, with little tolerance for fools. He or she does have a certain appreciation for clever schemes and wordplay, and has an extremely jaded attitude towards violence. But then, all the Interfectors do.
Path Unknown
Order Guardians of the Veil

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 4, Resolve 5
Physical Attributes: Strength
2+Perfected Form 1
3, Dexterity
4+Perfected Form 4
8, Stamina
3+Perfected Form 3
6
Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulation 2, Composure 3

Mental Skills: Academics 2, Investigation 3, Occult 2, Politics 1
Physical Skills: Athletics (Blast x2) 6, Brawl (Punch x2) 6, Larceny 1, Stealth 4, Survival 2
Social Skills: Intimidation 4, Persuasion 2, Socialize 2, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge (Scrutinize) 4

Merits: Fast Reflexes 3, Indomitable 2, Sanctum 2, Status (
Where the Bodies are Buried; Disciplined; Pull; Tithe
Guardians of the Veil) 3
Combat Merits: Fighting Finesse (Unarmed Strike) 2, Fighting Style (Martial Arts) 5, Fighting Style (Street Fighting) 1
Lair: None

Willpower: 8
Wisdom: 1
Universal Banes: Paradox, Paradigm, Nimbus (An acid-green aura that seems to corrode all it touches)
Personal Banes: Chaos Mage; Avatar (Agent of Destiny)

Initiative: 17
Defense: 11/11; Whirlwind Strike 1B
Armor: 8/10B (Mage Armor + Dragon's Skin); Durability 1 vs. Firearms
Mind Shield: 10 (Indomitable + Mind Shield + Disciplined)
Oneiric Vault: Binary has put his or her life outside of being an Interfector inside the Oneiric Vault. Any effect that attempts to discover Binary's non-Interfector life requires 6 Successes to access them (with the exception of dream-based effects).
Health: 11
Speed: 28

Gnosis: 6
Mysteries: Lore ●●●, Flesh ●●●●●, Fortune ●●●●●, Mind ●, Shadow ●●●●●, Space ●●, Time ●
Magical Tool: Crimson gloves inscribed with the name of Furcas, Knight of Hell (Lore 3: Blast) 4, Black robes inscribed with the name of Sabnoch, Marquis of Hell (Flesh 5: Perfected Form) 4
Mana: 15/6; -3 Starting (Sanctum 2 + Tithe -3 + Daily Flesh 5: Perfected Form -2)
Legacy Curse: The Diabolist is unable to cast magic upon hallowed ground; they further take a -(Gnosis) penalty to cast magic against anyone bearing a holy symbol of any religion (this only applies to purposefully constructed holy symbols, however -- two pieces of wood that happen to form a cross do not count).

Attacks...........................Damage.....Dice Pool.....Special
Strike...................................2L...............18.................AP 1, Reduced Called Shot Penalties (1)
Dim Mak...............................2L...............24.................AP 1, Reduced Called Shot Penalties (1), 8-Again, Advanced Action, costs 4 Mana
Cheap Shot…………………………N/A……………13………......Reflexive, vs. Wits+Comp, target loses Defense for the turn
Blast....................................3L/A..............20................Minus Stamina, costs 1 Mana (optionally 1 WP for Agg Damage)


Culsu
The Founder, Mathematikoi, Ipsissimus of the Mysterium

Type: Ghost Mage
Cabal: None
Path: Moros
Order: Mysterium
Paradigm: Etruscan Sacrificial Rites
Born: c. late 11th or early 12th century

[spoiler=Culsu][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Kind
Vice: Short-Tempered

Background: Extremely little is known about the ancient Talbot specter known as Culsu. In theory, the information still exists, locked away in some incredibly deep Censorium in the Underworld, guarded by the kind of arcane defenses that only a paranoid undead archmage could produce. Destroying it would be a gross violation of the Mysterium ethos, though hardly Culsu's only.

There are a few firm facts known about Culsu's mortal life. Culsu is probably a female (the Shadow Name refers to an Etruscan demoness and guardian of the underworld, and her voice seems too high to be a man's). She lived during the High Medieval Period, a span of years between about 1100 and 1250 when culture and learning was on an upswing, a kind of little renaissance right before a series of crises culminating in the Black Death brought everything crashing down. She was an Awakened Archmage of no small power, and spent a significant part of her early life and original Awakened training in Italy, probably Venice. She may be ethnically Italian, or she may have been there as a result of mercantile connections, or possibly as someone attached to one of the early Crusades. She is speculated to have been a member of the Mysterium, though there really isn't any sure evidence of that.

What is known for certain are two things. First, that Culsu established the Talbot ancestor cult. What relation the Talbots originally had to Culsu is unknown. She may have been a member of the family, or she may have simply chosen them as suitable subjects. Nevertheless, she instituted the arcane rituals of memorialization and propitiation that ensured that a very high percentage of the Talbots would return from the dead as ghosts (the rate is somewhere around 70% for mortal Talbots, and upwards of 90% for Awakened Talbots). She also arranged for their initiation into several Proximi bloodlines, ensuring that most generations had one or two wizards among their ranks.

Secondly, when Culsu grew old enough, she committed a highly complex ritual suicide, which ensured that she would return as a ghost with her faculties intact. Her original anchors have almost all withered away by now due to the weight of the ages (though there's a pair of iron scissors in the British Museum that still remain -- they had been one of Culsu's most powerful magical tools), yet the Talbot cult maintains Culsu's presence in the material world, as it does for all the other Talbot dead.

Culsu's goal for the last eight hundred odd years has been the same. Ascension. The Awakened are those humans who catch a singular glimpse of Supernal reality, a glimpse of the underlying symbolic structure of the universe out of which they fashion miracles. But greater still are the Ascended, the true archmages who possess the Imperial Mysteries. They have returned to the Supernal, and have survived the effort. That is what Culsu wants, that power, and that knowledge.

Needless to say, this is far easier said than done. In all of the Mysterium catalogues, only a half-dozen cases of Ascension are recorded over the course of human existence. The true numbers of the Ascended are unlikely to be so very much higher. Still, Culsu has the benefit of all the time in the world and the resources of a potent aristocratic cult and one of London's Awakened Orders. Over the years, Culsu has pushed forward dozens of different projects aimed at gaining Ascension for herself and the Talbots (in that order), including:
  • Exploring the Underworld. The theory is that if one ventures deep enough into the Underworld, one can eventually reach the Supernal underworld of Stygia. Culsu has spent centuries wandering the Underworld, and she hasn't found it yet, though she's found enough interesting things down there that she keeps doing it, as well as sponsoring (or having the Mysterium sponsor) expeditions into the deep Underworld.
  • Ghostly Manipulation. Culsu's other truly long-standing project is using necromancy to alter ghosts, with an eye towards eventually using these same alterations on herself, to make her a more suitable vessel for the Supernal. She hasn't managed to Awaken or Ascend any ghosts yet, but as with Underworld exploration, the project bears enough fruit that she keeps doing it -- two particular necrotech inventions of hers are the Lorekeeper Ghosts, dead Talbots who have had their heads stuffed full of sanity-rending information and who are used as a sort of undead filing cabinet, never forgetting what they know, and the Dead Mines, minor ghosts in such pain that are imbued into objects or areas, providing a very nasty surprise to anyone trying to use psychometry or any kind of past-reading.
  • For a long period in the 17th century, Culsu took over one of the Dead Domains and ruled it as a queen, hoping that deeper communion with the Underworld would lead to the necessary Stygian gnosis. This failed, though Culsu still stores some dangerous things (dangerous even by her standards) in her old realm, using it as a kind of Grand Censorium for knowledge that cannot be destroyed but is too dangerous to have close at hand.
  • During the late 19th century, Culsu toyed with a brute-force approach to Ascension, encouraging her followers to create mortal cults. Perhaps if Culsu was venerated by sufficient mortals, she would become a kind of Awakened divinity, close kin to the Ascended. The October Coup of Civitas put an end to that project, but it was showing poor results even before then, and so Culsu has largely shelved it as logistically impractical.
  • The most recent scheme (that is to say, originating in the 1860s and now being brought to fruition) is to create an Atlantean Society of Ghosts, replicating the world before the Fall, and so creating a resonance between the mortal and Supernal that can be used to cross over. This was inspired by the various Utopian movements of the mid-19th century, and has been tested on a small scale several times since then. Culsu and the other Talbot dead think it ready to move to London and situate this spectral commune in one of the more necromantically charged areas of the city. Sadly, these are all presently occupied.

The problem, of course, is that Culsu is no longer the sole lord and master of the Talbot cult. Originally, the goal was to have frequent possession turn the Awakened Talbots into empty shells, yes-men and servants for Culsu for eternity. Unfortunately, even Culsu could never guess who would actually Awaken, and over the years ghosts such as Marley (or in the future, Lyla) slipped through the cracks, creating a set of Talbot dead that have their own agendas and ideas. This does give the ancestor cult a slightly schizophrenic leadership style, though Culsu finds the act of actual intellectual debate more stimulating than she'd thought, and has largely come to terms with the development (though she still tries to have more people be like Edwin than like Lyla, that is to say, hollow vessels -- wouldn't do to have too much competition).

Culsu is a ghost, and as all ghosts she is driven past the point of obsession, aiming for Ascension. And yet, Culsu is far more personable than one would expect an ancient, mystery-shrouded horror to be -- one might even call her friendly, or gregarious. It's simply that after eight or so centuries of lonely research, Culsu is starved for intelligent conversation. She had been a social creature in life and remained one in death, but Culsu has found herself increasingly isolated both by her knowledge and by her ghostly nature. On the one hand, Culsu enjoys nothing more than the back and forth of a rigorous intellectual debate, or the chaotic swelter of ideas that comes from brainstorming sessions among people of like knowledge. The problem is that by now Culsu has simply outgrown anyone who might come close to comprehending the advanced concepts that she instinctively understands. The fact that as an ancient ghost Culsu has an increasingly poor grasp on both the modern world and on basic human concepts of emotion or motivation (or indeed, how the human psyche has changed since the Industrial Revolution) only compounds her loneliness.

To assuage that need for companionship, Culsu has set herself up as a teacher to those who are worthy -- and in her specific subject areas of necromancy and the dead, there is no one wiser. And yet, Culsu has no interest in being taken for granted or overused, and so she tends to set up complex tests of wit and dedication before anyone reaches her Demesnes in the twisted halls of the Underworld. The idea is that anyone who passes has shown themselves sufficiently interesting and intelligent that Culsu won't feel like she's wasted her time conversing with them.

Culsu also takes a decidedly proprietary interest in the Talbot family. Her feelings towards them are a mixture of naked self-interest (she needs the Talbots around and carrying out their rituals to remains in existence), genuine love, and a sort of intellectual curiosity as to how her great experiment has been faring. This is not always comfortable for the individual Talbots (Culsu's personal attention is a terrifying thing), but they learn to make their peace with it.

All that said, Culsu is also an individual who values her privacy. She has a Demesnes in the Underworld that ensures she is not disturbed most of the time, and she can easily spend weeks, months, or even years engrossed in some kind of abstract, esoteric research. People who interrupt her for no good reason may find themselves given a taste of the kind of ghostly wrath that makes for movies like the Amityville Horror or Poltergeist. Or possibly The Dreams in the Witch House.

Culsu's ghostly form still vaguely resembles a humanoid, but only in the most generous of senses. Her torso is mostly human, colored a deep midnight blue and etched with bright white patterns. A three-layered silver collar is clasped around her neck, making it uncertain if the deep blue is clothing or her actual "skin". Her head simply isn't there. The area where her head ought to be instead contains floating shards of violet obsidian (which occasionally reflect eyes, or worse things) and a menagerie of skulls: elk, wolf, bird, and many others, including three human. Culsu attempts to keep one of these skulls "front and center" when talking to someone, as mortals tend to get extremely distracted without a designated head to talk to. Her arms turn into huge, heavy black chains just above the elbow, which stretch down far past the rest of her body, before finally terminating in metallic hands. Wisps of white smoke or black shadow trail around her waist, to give the impression of robes, and her legs (of which she has four) do not appear to have feet, instead terminating in delicate, rounded points. She tends to be followed by a nimbus of floating bone yellow candles, which burn with eerie red flames.

Rank: 5
Mental 10; Physical 4; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Notable Powers: Necromancy; All Matters Underworld; Historical Knowledge; Terrifying
Banes: Technophage; Unearthly Sight; Gone Horribly Right (Twilight); Heavy Hand of Fate

Polydegmon
Edwin Talbot, 23rd Baron of Bollington, Curator de Mysteriis, Philosophus of the Mysterium, Councilor of the Mysterium at the Consilium of Albion

Type: Mage
Cabal: None
Path: Moros
Order: Mysterium
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Time, Twilight; Legacy Curse: Non-Paradigm spells are cast at a penalty of -(5+Gnosis) instead of -5.
The Talbot Family
Paradigm: Numerology
Born: 1946

Virtue: Pragmatic
Vice: Fussy

Background: Edwin Talbot was first possessed when he was four years old. No one noticed, and three days later the spirit left of its own accord. This would not be the last time that Edwin was a prisoner in his own mind.

It was a different time then, and a different world. The Talbot family had always been, well, strange, their attitudes towards the living and the dead not entirely in alignment with those of more mundane families. Their ancestral home, Bollington House, was a place where the dead walked, where ghosts flitted by on the night winds and the ragged corpses of their long-dead forefathers kept up a nightly patrol on the grounds. It was a time when the patriarch of the family was Charles Talbot, the 22nd Baron, who dwelled in London, and it was a time when a small, quiet child like Edwin simply fell through the cracks.

Edwin was not part of the main branch of the family, raised in glory and expectations. His father had died when Edwin was young, in a hunting accident, and his mother paid scant attention to him. Most of Edwin's companions as a youth were the dead, and while many of the honored dead of the Talbots had the best of intentions, he was possessed intermittently throughout his youth and adolescence, the ghosts following him to Eton and then to Oxford.

Edwin grew up a rather peculiar youth. Simply put, Edwin's bouts of possession, when he was still very young, meant that Edwin missed out on a fair amount of important childhood development. While frightfully intelligent, even by the high standards of the Talbots, Edwin's also dyslexic, prone to bouts of aphasia, and is given to ritualistic and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. He started studying maths, and had in him the fair makings of a savant... until he Awakened on his 21st birthday. The campus police at Oxford found him wandering around Holywell Cemetery, arguing with Francis Edgeworth (8 February 1845 – 13 February 1926; philosopher and political economist) and George Rolleston (30 July 1829 – 16 June 1881; physician and zoologist). He spent a good week in a mental institution following that event.

Of course, Awakening meant that Edwin automatically became next in line for the Barony, and became heir to become Councilor for the Mysterium in the London Consilium. Even among the Talbots, Mages were simply not that common, and the Talbots had reigned over London's Mysterium for long enough that the two were nearly synonymous. To be an Awakened Talbot was to be a Mystagogue, and to be Councilor of the Mysterium was to be a Talbot. Not everyone agrees with this, but revolutionaries join the Free Council, not the ancient mystery cult of the Alae Draconis.

Somehow, Edwin's managed to stay in charge of the Mysterium, despite being charitably referred to as 'eccentric'. Not that there haven't been a few abortive coups and assassination attempts (mage politics can be vigorous), but the Awakening of his children has eased the pressure, and when push comes to shove, Civitas prefers Edwin as the Loyal Opposition more than most other candidates, which helps. Edwin is also not nearly the fire-breather that his daughter Lyla is, being more similar in temperament to his son Cedric.

In truth, Edwin is something of a figure-head. He's a skilled mage, a fourth-degree initiate of the Mysterium (granting him the title of Philosophus), and is the head of the Talbot family, but the actual decision making of the Mysterium is done by the Talbot ancestral dead, particularly the ancient specter known as Culsu. This does not contribute much to the Mysterium's clarity of leadership, and the faction has a somewhat schizophrenic political attitude as a result.

That said, Edwin does much of the administrative running of the Mysterium -- he has a genius for numbers, and as Baron of Bollington he sits on the Board of Trustees of the British Museum (where the Mysterium's main repository of knowledge is located). Formally, Edwin is the Curator de Mysteriis, the wizard in over-all charge of all of the Mysterium's stores of knowledge, though Lyla is more immediately concerned with the maintenance and protection of that repository in her role as a small-c curator at the British Museum. His own personal research for the Mysterium tends to be mathematical, as he plays around with higher concepts of dimensions and null planes and complex formulae.

Edwin is a short, round-bellied looking man in his mid-sixties, an ivory-haired fellow with watery blue eyes and a weak chin. He dresses simply, in black and grey suits, or in academic tweed, and is a professor of mathematics at Oxford's Worcester College, commuting in to London for Mysterium business. He's not an absent-minded professor; his memory is nearly perfect. At the same time, he still has all the developmental issues that plagued him in his youth -- dyslexia, intermittent aphasia, obsessive-compulsive tendencies (everything in Bollington House is organized by prime numbers, and Edwin is a staunch germophobe who dislikes touching other people). He prefers dealing with mathematics, or by writing letters or (nowadays) emails -- people are much easier to handle when they're somewhere else.

Except sometimes... he turns into a powerful, commanding personality, with rhetorical skills that surprise the other Councilors. He still gets possessed periodically these days, the ghosts filling the gaps in his mind, and when he does, his natural genius combined with the experience of generations of Talbots make him a force to be reckoned with. Strictly speaking, any ghost or spirit can possess Edwin with minimal effort, but the Talbot ghosts are very territorial about him.

Rank: 3
Mental 8; Physical 2; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers: Ancestral Possession; Mathematics; Easily Possessed
Banes: Chaos Mage; Arcane Bond (Ancient Pocket Orrery)

Lyla Talbot
Reitia, Practicus of the Mysterium

Type: Mage
Cabal: Diogenes's Lamp
Path: Moros
Order: Mysterium
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Time, Twilight; Legacy Curse: Non-Paradigm spells are cast at a penalty of -(5+Gnosis) instead of -5.
The Talbot Family
Paradigm: Medieval Necromancy (the summoning of ghosts to produce all effects)
Born: 1978



Virtue: Ambitious
Vice: Hatred (The Guardians of the Veil)

Lyla Talbot is a brilliant, attractive woman from a family full of brilliant people with rich traditions. She and her twin brother Cedric were afforded every benefit and luxury the deep pockets of the Talbot family could muster. They received the finest educations at boarding schools and grew up with some of Britain’s most noted academics. They also grew up surrounded by their ancestors: the ghosts and skeletons of great members of the Talbot family. It was a life that most others would consider odd at best, and disturbing at worst.

Unlike the Jeffries family, Talbots are immersed in the supernatural from an early age. Some are raised by ghostly nannies or taught by undead tutors. All Talbots in the direct line are made into Sleepwalkers as soon as possible, and a healthy number become Proximi. So Lyla was surrounded by magic and the supernatural her entire life, and was trained to understand the Awakened arts, even if she could not actually cast them.

She was also brought up in the Talbots’ rich academic tradition and went to the finest schools, eventually pursuing higher education at Oxford. She earned her master’s in public history and a doctorate in archaeology. Through her connections, her family’s reputation, her dissertation (on the origins of small Mediterranean subcultures like the Veneti from which she derives her Shadow Name), and her honors, she landed a post as a curator at the British Museum. There, she studies ancient artifacts, but she also has an excellent excuse to go in search of lost Awakened artifacts.

Lyla and Cedric Awakened simultaneously shortly after college. Unlike many Mages, their Awakening was less startling. They had grown up surrounded by the supernatural, immersed in the Mysteries, so their Awakening was less of a sudden realization and more putting the final pieces into the puzzle. Plus, being around the living dead most of one’s life makes a Talbot’s Awakening as a Moros less disturbing than many.

Since her Awakening, Lyla has had her life directed in large part by her father, Baron Edwin Talbot, also known as Polydegmon, the leader of the Mysterium. It is through Polydegmon that Lyla received her first job as a curator at the British Museum, and it is through Polydegmon that Lyla came to lead the Cabal of Diogenes's Lamp, which consists of her, her brother Cedric, and her (deceased) cousin Deirdre. The Cabal is tasked with the less-active research of the Mysterium (Lyla is more likely to do her research from a library, or from a reasonably safe archaeological dig, instead of in a trap-encrusted vampire's tomb a mile beneath London), and with the protection of the Mysterium repository of knowledge in the British Museum.

Of course, it isn't all sunshine and roses -- Lyla is an ambitious soul, and she has it in her mind to parlay her connections into becoming the next Curator de Mysteriis of the Mysterium, and not everyone is thrilled with this idea. Peregrine is passingly unfond of her, and as the leader of the main rival cabal the Seekers of Sophia, he can't be completely ignored. And Cousin Deirdre never passes up an opportunity to stick a verbal shiv into Lyla, which means that it usually takes Cedric's good nature and peace-keeping efforts to keep the cabal from falling apart. And of course there's the Guardians of the Veil, whom Lyla despises for taking away her family's dominance over London (in point of fact, Lyla is much more broken up over the Mysterium's loss in 1914 than either Culsu or Polydegmon).

Lyla's personal research is anthropological and historical. Part of this is simply an early fondness for history born out of being a Talbot, but Lyla also figures that it's simply easier to make an impact with it. Occult research topics tend to be rare, mysterious, and dangerous, with a great deal of effort required to get anything. Meanwhile, Lyla can look across the great span of human history with an Awakened eye, and pick out occult meaning from them simply by going through all the latest journals. Her particular focus, as indicated by her Shadow Name, is on ancient Italy and the Mediterranean world.

Lyla has a very strong, professional mien. She is usually on-the-go and busy, and seems to enjoy taking large tasks. As a curator, she’s very confident, professional, and very smart. She can be a imperious and arrogant, though, as the combination of her upbringing, education, and connections to the past sometimes gives her a big head. She can also be very pushy; part of her headstrong, professional demeanor. She is used to healthy debate with colleagues and sometimes carries that over to personal life.

Unlike Cedric, Lyla tends to keep more “presentable” company. Where Cedric spends much of his off-time in ritzy gothic-themed clubs, Lyla prefers fancy restaurants, theaters, and art galleries. She and Cedric both enjoy the wining and dining, but Lyla greatly enjoys going to galas and balls. Few of Cedric’s friends are his colleagues. Lyla is quite the opposite, and counts many of her colleagues as friends.

Like all Awakened Talbots, Lyla has an ancestor ghost bonded to her as a familiar. Lyla’s ghost familiar is Rosalyn Talbot. A kindred spirit from the Renaissance, Rosalyn herself was an artist and a patron of the arts. Her first-hand expertise has proven invaluable to Lyla over the years in both her studies and her work as curator. The two think on similar wavelengths and get along very, very well — even if the sins and iniquities of the modern world (and Lyla’s wardrobe) sometimes offend Rosalyn’s sensibilities.

The Talbots’ Proximus curse requires a solid link between themselves and the history they hold so dearly. As a result, they rely heavily on dedicated family artifacts to maintain a solid connection with their spellcasting powers. Lyla wears a large pectoral cross necklace that serves as her special, dedicated casting item.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 2; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Professional; Historian
Banes: Arcane Bond (Pectoral Cross)

Cedric Talbot
Oitosyros, Theoricus of the Mysterium

Type: Mage
Cabal: Diogenes's Lamp
Path: Moros
Order: Mysterium
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Time, Twilight; Legacy Curse: Non-Paradigm spells are cast at a penalty of -(5+Gnosis) instead of -5.
The Talbot Family
Paradigm: Object-focused animism
Born: 1978

[spoiler=Cedric][/spoiler.]

Virtue: Kind
Vice: Lazy

Background: Cedric is a smart, savvy, handsome nobleman and academic from the long-standing, illustrious Talbot family. He grew up in the lap of luxury, but also in the Talbots’ rigorous academic professions and magical traditions. Because Lyla Awakened first, it seemed like Cedric was destined to be a Proximus. But a few days later, he finally made his own journey across Stygia to the Watchtower of the Lead Coin.

Awakening had an impact on Cedric that Lyla didn’t quite have. Cedric was always smart and clever, but he was prone to anxiety and nervousness to a fault. Whatever he witnessed in Stygia cured him of his anxiety. He emerged from his Awakening more serene and knowing. Some kind of understanding touched his brain and his worries were gone. To this day, he still doesn’t talk about it.

Cedric received a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Oxford and has masters degrees in history and forensic anthropology. He’s become an associate professor in Oxford’s anthropology department thanks to his family connections and his own knowledge. He spent some time in Central America, South America, and the Middle East for both Mysterium and professorial/intern work. His dissertation was an analysis of Scythian burial practices. Currently, Cedric lives in Oxford, but frequently visits London on Mysterium business, and is a regular consultant for the British Museum.

At the command of his father, Polydegmon, Cedric ended up in the cabal of Diogenes's Lamp, led by his sister Lyla and also containing his (dead) cousin Deirdre. Cedric mostly ends up trying to keep Deirdre from slipping arsenic into Lyla's coffee, and Lyla from binding Deirdre into a flowerpot and shipping it to Nova Scotia. For someone who is otherwise utterly devoid of any kind of personal ambition, it's rather a full-time job. He does some research into the occult of the Scythians or other ancient peoples for the Mysterium, but only just enough that Polydegmon doesn't glare at him disapprovingly.

Like all Talbots, Cedric has a family heirloom he has to use in his spellcasting. Cedric’s is a polished, smooth, black-lacquered cane with a silver skull on the tip.

Like all Awakened Talbots, Cedric has an ancestor ghost bonded to him as a familiar. Cedric’s familiar is Warwick Talbot, a noble and a writer from the days of Queen Elizabeth I. Though Warwick’s writings are not well-known outside the family, he wrote several plays and pamphlets. Warwick also patronized several London publishers and considers himself a major player in the transformation of Great Britain into a very literate culture. Warwick claims to have known Shakespeare personally.

Cedric's paradigm is centered on understanding the sociological and cultural power imbued into objects. In other words, he deals with the idea that "belief is power," but specific to objects. He draws his power by wielding ritual implements that have developed cultural significance due to a collective belief and understanding of what those objects are supposed to achieve -- whether they actually perform the task or not.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 2; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Clubber; Historian
Banes: Arcane Bond (Cane with Skull Tip)

Marley
Deirdre Talbot, Theoricus of the Mysterium

Type: Ghost Mage
Cabal: Diogenes's Lamp
Path: Moros
Order: Mysterium
Paradigm: Haunting
Born: 1977
Died: 2003

[spoiler=Marley's Chosen Look]


Marley when she is being corporeal and not bleaching her hair.[/spoiler.]

Virtue: Determined
Vice: Resentful

Background: Marley was dead, to begin with...

Later, people saw the warning signs. The alcohol abuse was one -- Deirdre had never been a heavy drinker. The insomnia was another sign, as was the withdrawal, the way Deirdre stopped hanging out with even her limited friends. The fact that she'd been talking a great deal about death, however, was not a warning sign. Deirdre Talbot came from a long line of necromancers, and talking about death was only slightly less normal than talking about the weather in Bollington House.

The Talbots were, even by the standards of the history-obsessed English aristocracy, a little strange. They were mages, or more accurately, a few members of each generation Awakened as mages, always Moros of the Leaden Watchtower. The rest were cultists, servants, the ones who cared for the honored dead. One never really went away, when one was a Talbot. The ghosts of the family stayed in perpetuity, and the staff were often serving decades after their death (in retrospect, the long organ donor forms were something of a hint). They were linked to the Mysterium, the knowledge-cult of the Awakened, but separate at the same time, and there was a strict hierarchy among the Talbots. Highest are the Awakened. Then the dead. And last the Living.

This was not a healthy environment to be growing up in, and so Deirdre's eccentricities managed to mostly slip under the radar. Plenty of the Talbots yearn to Awaken, and strange rituals or cases of self-harm where young Talbots try to force such a thing were treated as a passing phase that everyone went through before settling down. Deirdre was just a bit more keen on it.

Like most of the Talbots, Deirdre was intelligent. But she also had a need. A desperate, driving need to make her stamp on the world, to shout out to society at large that 'here I am! Pay attention to me!' A common enough teenage desire, but a little awkward when one is part of a secret conspiracy going back centuries. Add to that a sharp sense of cosmic injustice. Cedric and Lyla got to go to parties and events in London, but Deirdre's own parents would never allow such a thing. There were advantages to being the child of the head of the household, and when Cedric and Lyla Awakened in 1999 and Deirdre didn't, well... Deirdre thought it frightfully unfair.

Under other circumstances, Deirdre would have probably just rebelled, taken up with some inappropriate boyfriends or maybe run away. But since that was never really an option for her, Deirdre started doing everything she could to Awaken. Since the Talbots were death magi, this meant things that weren't very nice. When hanging around graveyards and haunted houses failed to work, Deirdre moved up to animal sacrifice, self-harm, and a host of other troubling behaviors. Nothing worked. The climax of it all was when she had a few of her friends bury her alive in the Talbot cemetery. The idea was that the stress would cause her to Awaken, and a day and a night later, they'd dig her out. Instead she panicked after about thirty minutes and screamed until she ruptured her vocal cords and a ghost heard her and got someone to rescue her. Polydegmon himself was called in from London to have a stern chat with the young lady.

After that something just went out of Deirdre. She started drinking, stopped being with people, and basically just shut down. Her family mostly thought she was sulking. Right up until the point where Deirdre quietly stole an antique revolver from her great-grandfather's rooms, wrote a long note on her laptop, cleaned herself up and put on her nicest dress, drank a full bottle of vodka, and fired the revolver right into her left eye...

...and in that instant, she Awakened. The bullet loomed up enormous above her, a sleek tower of lead, its smooth sides carved with the names of all who had died in violence. In a moment that seemed to stretch out to eternity, Deirdre ascended the spiraling steps around the Watchtower, looking down at every battlefield that ever was and every battlefield that ever would be. And when she reached the pinnacle, she carved her name into the Watchtower's soft leaden walls, marking her own name as one of the Moros.

Whereupon the Awakening ended, the bullet slammed into Deirdre's eye, and she died instantly.

Death, however, was not the end of Deirdre Talbot. Finally, finally she'd had what she'd so desperately sought. She'd be damned, she'd tear down heaven and earth alike, before she'd let herself be cheated of it like this. And so, fueled by a white-hot fury stronger than anything she had ever known in life, channeled through the power of the Leaden Coin and the ancestral connection of the Talbots, Deirdre came back from the dead, a Ghost Mage.

As one might imagine, the subsequent family conversations were unpleasant, even when the entire Talbot clan gathered in Bollington House to figure out just what to do. Deirdre made it perfectly clear what she wanted. She had Awakened, she was a Mage, she was going to join Awakened society and the Mysterium and she would be a Mage, and the fact that she was dead was utterly irrelevant. The rest of the Talbots, partially out of acute shame over how they'd failed her, went along with the plan.

So, Deirdre Talbot took on the shadow name of Marley (she too "was dead, to begin with"), and joined the rolls of the Mysterium in London. She's listed in the records of the Consilium, she draws a regular paycheck, she borrows research space, and the Mysterium generally tries to work around what is euphemistically referred to as her 'condition'.

She joined the Cabal of Diogenes's Lamp at the urging of Polydegmon, and now the three-Talbot Cabal is mostly in charge of guarding the London Athanaeum (that is to say, the British Museum) and conducting the less aggressive research of the Mysterium (field research being more the province of the Seekers of Sophia). The problem is that Marley and Lyla get along much like cats and dogs, and while Lyla is the acknowledged leader of the Cabal, her dead cousin never lets her get too comfortable with it. It tends to fall onto Cedric to play peacemaker.

For her part, Marley suffers the mono-focus of most ghosts, though since hers is directed at the goal of being a wizard, it gives her more freedom of action than most specters. She does her own research, primarily into the arts of necromancy (where her perspective makes her a fairly good researcher). Marley sometimes has to borrow living shells for her research, but there's usually some mortal she can possess, or else she pays some apprentice mage (it's not like she has much else to spend her salary on). She doesn't have many other hobbies or interests, though unless one counts bickering with Lyla.

Obsessive drive aside, Marley is a darkly cynical and exceedingly bitter individual, though this is tempered by a kind of strange jade-colored optimism. Things worked out for her (sorta), and Marley is incredibly grateful, though she could've done without dying first. Still, Marley basically figures that the Corpus Mysteriorum looks out for people who honestly try, though Murphy's Law applies very much so.

Physically, Marley is also quite happy with her body. Death, unfortunately, does nothing for your complexion, and Marley's "natural look" is that of a glowing, increasingly desiccated corpse eternally weeping blood from her blasted-out eye-socket. However, between her Awakened necromancy and borrowing on the knowledge of twenty generations of dead Talbots, Marley's learned the trick of altering her plasmic form. Her chosen appearance (she sometimes calls it her "chosen look") is that of a somewhat punkish young woman with short, bleached hair, a single ice-blue eye, and ears pierced three or four times each. Of course, her other eye, her right one, looks like a fathomless black void, a blasted-out crater to the Abyss, and try as she might Marley can't get rid of it, so she adds some scars to make it look cooler. Her wardrobe leans towards collars, leather jackets, and fingerless gloves. In truth, this is a rather heavily idealized version of what Marley looked like when she was alive.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 3; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Notable Powers: Necromancy; Haunting
Banes: Symbols

Peregrine
Pietro Esposito, Piotr Vladimirovich Sokolov, Practicus of the Mysterium

Type: Mage
Cabal: Seekers of Sophia
Path: Mastigos
Order: Mysterium
Legacy:
Legacy Mystery: Foretelling, Time; Legacy Curse: Questions must have a mystery to solve -- it can be a police case or a scientific research project, or some other mystery, but it must be a serious mystery that challenges the Question's skills. The Question must spend at least twenty hours per week working on this mystery, and during that time, the Question takes a -(Gnosis) penalty to all Mystery rolls that does not somehow relate to their present case. Self-defense and survival always relates, however.
The Eleventh Question
Paradigm: Italian strega witchcraft crossed with psychotronics
Born: 1968

Virtue: Righteous
Vice: Cold

Background: During the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies spent a significant amount of money on what they called 'Psychotronics', their term for the field of parapsychology. There were conferences, well-funded research programs, and academic talks that sought to determine the truth of clairvoyance, telepathy, and psychokinesis, and to derive new principles of nature from these phenomenon. That was the public aspect. In secret, in laboratories all across the Soviet Bloc, scientists tried to turn psychotronics towards the art of war and espionage -- to create telepathic spies, remote viewers, telekinetic assassins, and the like. Piotr Vladimirovich Sokolov was a product of those efforts.

Piotr's father and uncle were both members of the Soviet nomenklatura, well-placed in the KGB hierarchy. His father was a former field agent turned analyst for Line-X operations, Line-X being the Soviet efforts to steal Western technology (while receiving little press, Line-X was by far the largest part of KGB operations in the West, dwarfing any efforts to steal military or political secrets). His uncle was a KGB researcher involved in psychotronics research, and his mother was an Italian communist who had defected to the USSR, and who came from a long line of Tuscan strega, witches possessed of the second sight and the evil eye.

This conflux of factors meant that when Piotr started showing signs of the second sight, he was promptly put into the psychotronic research program. From the age of six to the age of twenty-three, Piotr and his family lived in the city of Murmansk-82, a closed city of some fifty thousand people located in the Murmansk oblast in the farthest north of Russia, above the Arctic Circle. Officially, Murmansk-82 was on no maps, did not exist, and no foreigner nor citizen of the USSR was allowed to visit without permission from the Ministry of Atomic Energy. Most of the people of Murmansk-82 were involved in nuclear research. But taking advantage of the remoteness and the security, one branch of the Soviet psychotronic research program was to be found there.

Piotr had an odd childhood. Living in Murmansk-82 was a bit like living on a military base. Everything was classified, everyone learned to keep secrets and watch their tongue, and the KGB's Second Chief Directorate, the counter-intelligence people, were everywhere. The temperature rarely ventured above zero Celsius, blizzards were a regular occurrence, and one didn't see the sun for weeks at a time. And of course, there was the psychotronic research. Most of it was harmless enough, long and dull sessions memorizing cards, trying to detect events in another room, meditative techniques, or simply an endless stream of x-rays and medical exams. Occasionally, Piotr was put under anaesthetic and the surgeons placed small metal objects under his skin, usually up along his spine or into his skull.

Piotr's mother committed suicide in 1985. The secrecy and the darkness had finally gotten to her, a child of sunny Tuscany. Piotr and his father and uncle drifted apart, the young man blaming his elders for the death of his mother. Always an independent-minded boy, Piotr started rebelling in whatever ways he could, within the cold confines of Murmansk-82.

There was also the fact of Piotr's growing psychic potential. Whatever the psychotronic researchers were doing to him, it was working. He could catch glimpses of emotion or thought, he could predict things before they happened, he could see things on the far side of a wall. Piotr wasn't an idiot. He knew what sort of things awaited him, and the life of a psychic spy failed to appeal. And yet, trying to lie to the researchers rarely ended well -- psychic or not, Piotr was just a teenager, and his handlers had experience with much more hardened liars and psychopaths. This too contributed to a growing rift between father and son.

Then came salvation. The KGB-backed coup attempt in the summer of 1991 failed, and the response of the central government was swift and brutal. The psychotronics program was among the casualties of that retribution. Suddenly, Piotr's father was recalled to Moscow to answer questions about his role in the coup, and Piotr was freed from the program. At the age of twenty-three, Piotr stepped out of Murmansk-82 for the first time since he was a toddler... and Awakened to his full potential.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Piotr put his plan into action. Taking advantage of his father's distraction, Piotr made ready for his escape. He could twist and alter minds in a way he never could have before, and one doesn't grow up with an ex-KGB field agent for a father without learning some tricks of espionage trade-craft. Money, visas, tickets were quietly acquired, and then one fine day in December of 1991, in Moscow, Piotr got onto a plane departing from Sheremetyevo International Airport, to London. By the time his father twigged to something going wrong, Piotr was five miles over the North Sea.

Unfortunately, even the best laid plans fail, and at this particular moment in time the British Security Service (those pleasant chaps known more popularly as MI5) proved to be a bit more on the ball than the KGB. Faced with a Russian teenager with rudimentary English and a faked passport, the put Piotr into a holding cell, and there were too many of them, and they were too savvy, for him to twist their minds. Twelve hours later, a tall, muscular man, his black hair streaked with silver, stepped into his cell, introduced himself as Padraig Abernathy of the Ministry of Defense, and told Piotr that he was the welcoming committee.

So it was that Piotr fell into the orbit of Taliesin and the Mysterium. The older mage took young Piotr on as an apprentice, and also helped the lad get settled in London. Shunning his roots, Piotr Italianized his name to Pietro and took on his mothers maiden name, Esposito, while for his Shadow Name he nevertheless paid tribute to the people who made him what he is -- he chose the name Peregrine, for Sokolov means 'of the falcon' in Russian.

Peregrine stayed with the Mysterium (the Guardians reminded him entirely too much of the KGB, and the Libertines of the Communist Party ideology), and in time he even became a half-decent field researcher. For his day job, the young mage became a private detective. It was a job he was well-suited for, while being low enough in profile that Peregrine didn't need to worry about visits from the Security Service (he could've joined Scotland Yard, or gone into high-end physics, both areas where he had some talents, but not with his weak documentation). After a few years he even grew to like it, and by now, with twenty years experience as a detective under his belt, combined with a bit of KGB training, Mysterium training, and the ability to read minds or slip away from notice, it is a job Peregrine is quite good at.

Peregrine is also the leader, ostensibly, of the Seekers of Sophia, the Mysterium's main field research cabal. He kind of slipped into the job -- Enoch Bowen isn't stable enough, Brigid wasn't around for the first decade of the cabal's existence and is too young in any case, and Taliesin has made it clear he has no interest in the job. As a result, this means that Peregrine tends to spend more time organizing his cabal-mates research and doing work for the Mysterium to order than doing his own research, though this actually suits Peregrine right down to the ground. The Mastigos is a spy and detective, not a researcher, so he much prefers seeing what other people are doing and quietly swiping it for his own self.

Despite his ostensibly important position in the Mysterium, Peregrine has some serious authority issues. He's a cynical, jaded man whose personal ideology leans towards the nihilistic. Peregrine does not put his trust in aristocracy or in ideology, and considers all deeply-held beliefs to be nothing more than false idols. He's seen, first hand, what these false idols can do to a man. As such, Peregrine is fiercely independent, and he takes extremely poorly to anyone, anyone at all, who tries to tell him what to do. If it wasn't for Taliesin finessing Peregrine's connection to the Mysterium, the younger man would have likely gone apostate by now out of sheer contrariness. As it is, Peregrine basically considers the Mysterium the least-bad of all possible options, and far better than other organizations such as the Guardians.

Peregrine is also emphatically not a people person. Growing up in Murmansk-82 was a constant dance of secrets and security clearance, and the ability to read minds and glean empathetic impressions of people has only made Peregrine's ability to interact with people atrophy further. The result has been that most social niceties fly smoothly over Peregrine's head, and he can come off as rude and blunt even to people he likes. Not that Peregrine likes many people. He's semi-fond of his cabal, and that's about the extent of it.

He tends to have particular trouble with women -- between the rather cloistered environment of Murmansk-82 and his own paranoid nervousness during his first years in London, Peregrine never really learned to talk to women. He tends to get awkward around the opposite sex, mixing his usual brusqueness with bits of chivalry picked up from books or from Taliesin's not-always-trustworthy advice. (This particular flaw of Peregrine's tends to strike Brigid as hilarious).

In person, Peregrine has the Italian dark hair and eyes, but the square Russian jaw, in his case covered with a perpetual stubble. Lean and mean, he could cut a striking figure if he ever paid attention to his appearance, but as it is Peregrine tends to come across as a little unkempt, at least unless he's using the Mystery of Passion, in which case he goes from 'tramp-like' to 'roguishly handsome'. His body bears a number of surgical scars, particularly along his back and at the base of his skull, and to this day Peregrine tends to set off metal detectors, whether he likes it or not.

Growing up in sub-zero temperatures have given Peregrine a keen appreciation for staying warm, and he always dresses in layers. Peregrine usually wears a fedora and trench-coat (he likes looking the part of the private eye, and keeps these objects of clothing neat and pressed no matter what), though his pants are usually a little ratty and and he rarely gets his shirt pressed or buttoned up all the way. Vests or sweaters are also common. He prefers hiking boots to shoes, which sometimes makes a bizarre contrast with the rest of his look. Though Peregrine is a skilled telekinetic, he usually wears a gun in a concealed holster, and the trench-coat can often be used to conceal a shotgun for when things get serious.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 4; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Mystery of Mind & Passion; Detective; Espionage Tradecraft
Banes: Avatar (The Spy)

Taliesin
Padraig Abernathy (Legal Identity), Philosophus of the Mysterium

Type: Mage
Cabal: Seekers of Sophia
Path: Acanthus
Order: Mysterium
Paradigm: Faerie Tales / Invocation of Narrative
Born: ??? (1930s at latest)
Apparent Age: Late thirties

[spoiler=Taliesin]
Tal with slightly differently colored hair than usual, after being stuffed into a suit.[/spoiler.]

Virtue: Hopeful
Vice: Deceitful

Background: Taliesin’s true background is unknown except for the bits and pieces he “lets slip” when speaking to people. He claims to be from Ireland and Wales. He gives his profession as a motivational speaker or an itinerant bard or a professional explorer and salvage artist. He has never been married, has had three wives (at different times), prefers men, is a priest who honors the vow of celibacy and has numerous children. He has lived in Belfast, Paris, Cardiff, New York, Atlanta, Edinburgh, Mexico City and Vancouver and almost any place else one would care to mention.

He has stories of working as a bus driver, a ranch hand, a professional escort, a “no questions asked” courier and a door-to-door salesman. He has practiced law, medicine and accounting, among other things, either professionally or as a fraud. Those who spend time with him in conversation come away believing they have just met a spy, an assassin, a cop or a missionary.

His cabal knows a little more, sifting through the lies and the stories to uncover a few nuggets of hard fact that can be pieced together into a tapestry that tells some of the truth, if not nearly enough. Taliesin was born in Wales, in a coal town where the mines had long since played out, and where his family went from being poor miners to poorer unemployed. They had food on the table, at least -- most nights. Taliesin got out as soon as he could, first to Cardiff, and then to the big city of London, where he could trade on his strong backs and pretty face, at least long enough to get a bed for the night and a meal in the morning. He did some things that he wasn't proud of, though Taliesin's frustratingly vague on the how or the what or the where (or the when, for that matter, as some of Taliesin's comments hint that he remembers the War, at the very least -- which War is another good question).

He talks about his Awakening though. He doesn't say where or when it happened, only that it came when he had "really hit the bottom, the very abyss." He heard laughter and music, and he saw a woman in a mirror, dressed in gold and with hair of auburn, more beautiful than anything mortal could be. She was of the Tylwyth Teg, the Fair Folk, and she led Taliesin through the mirror and under the mound and through the thorns to a great hall of moonlit brambles. There, they feasted, Taliesin and his Lady and the many guests both strange and wondrous, and they talked of this and that, and told stories and jokes and toasts, until it was Taliesin's turn. And he stood and gave a toast, and with that old toast he Awakened on the Path of the Lunargent Thorn.

And just as a dream slips away in the hours of morning, so did the memory of Taliesin's Awakening. He can remember the outline of it, but so many details are maddeningly vague. What did his Lady look like, past that so basic description? Who were the guests? What did they speak of, what stories did they tell? Taliesin is certain, surer than sure, that in those stories lay great and powerful mysteries, answers that the Awakened have been searching for years uncounted, if only he could remember them.

It's enough to drive a man mad, but if Taliesin is insane, it's a joking, subtle sort of lunacy. He's been with the Mysterium for quite a long time, since the 60s at least, sworn to their task of collecting and preserving knowledge (though he calls it gathering stories). He's one of the Order's more respected wizards, for his charisma and his record of service and for his inarguable power. If he were named Talbot he'd be in line for the throne, but since he's not, all Taliesin will ever be is a trusted retainer. If that frustrates the Welshman, he gives no sign, simply joking that he's "not leadership material" in the first place.

Unorthodox methods aside (Taliesin is not one for academic research), the Acanthus is one of the leading scholars of Arcadia and the Fair Folk in London, which tends to make the changeling Freehold decidedly uncomfortable. He's always pleasant and nice, but there's a shining light in his eyes when he talks about the place that discomfits those who've been to the Arcadia of the Lost. He wants to know all about it, and he'll spend endless hours recording stories of a changeling's Durance, if they'll let him. Most recently he's been exploring the links between the Fae and the Angelic, toying with the idea that they're all connected.

Taliesin has a day job, though only two facts about it are known. First, he's got money. He's hardly a millionaire, but he's never short of cash. Secondly, he's got a Ministry of Defense ID card that can open quite a lot of doors when shown to the right people. The rest of the time, Taliesin can often be found at some bar or cafe (he's a regular at the Cat's Cradle), telling stories or singing songs, or simply listening. He's good at listening.

In person, Taliesin is more than a bit fae himself. He rarely takes the lead in any situation, though he'll always offer his advice to those who do step forward. He's a willing listener and teacher, and he knows a very great amount of lore. At the same time, Taliesin delights in storytelling and riddles and mysteries, and he'll often deliberately speak cryptically or leave certain information out, forcing his listeners to use their brains to figure out what he says. He'll never lie outright (probably), as this would be a break from the Mysterium tenets he so embraces, but Taliesin hasn't the faintest problem with the double-talk and word games of the Fair Folk.

Taliesin is also the founding member of the Seekers of Sophia Cabal, which has been a going concern since the early 1990s when he put it together with Peregrine and with Enoch Bowen -- Brigid's a more recent member. Taliesin is without a doubt the most knowledgeable and powerful mage in the Cabal, the teacher of the other two original members, but at the same time he passes off leadership duties to Pietro. He very often takes the role of the 'good cop' to his more dangerous cabal-mates, though Taliesin is a very good hand with a knife or sword.

Taliesin has the face and build of a man in his 30s, but his clear blue eyes hint of many more years than that, even of many more lifetimes (London old-timers think him to be in his 80s at the very least). His hair is black streaked with silver, though the silver seems to outweigh the black, and is worn almost to his shoulders, giving him the look of a professor or a poet. He dresses in casual clothes, as if always ready to travel, but even his casual clothing shows touches of adornment. His jeans are embroidered with animal shapes, his jackets and shirts have tassels and other embellishments. His voice is a soft, fluid tenor that never tires the ear of the listener, and his hands are the graceful hands of a musician. He walks with a slight limp, as if from a very old wound.

Rank: 3
Mental 4; Physical 3; Social 5
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers: Storytelling; Unlikely Experience; Mystery of Fortune 5
Banes: Magical Tell (Music); Heavy Hand of Fate

Enoch Bowen
Caruhashan Kampan, Theoricus of the Mysterium

Type: Mage
Cabal: Seekers of Sophia
Path: Thyrsus
Order: Mysterium
Paradigm: Invocation to Chthonic Entities
Born: 1963

Virtue: Loyal (Cabal and son)
Vice: Violent

Background: Prior to his Awakening in 1995, Caruhashan Kampan was a man who had thoroughly and completely screwed up his life. On the surface, it wasn't so bad, or so at least Caruhashan told him. He was a handsome man married to a very pretty woman named Asvika, he had a son, and he had a stable job as a subway inspector for the London city government. It wasn't the route to fame and fortune, but it put food on the table. Seen from the outside, it was a good life.

But the problem was that Caruhashan drank, and the problem was that he and Asvika fought. Which came first, he doesn't even know anymore. Did the drinking come first, and then the marriage slowly fell apart as a result? Or did Caruhashan start drinking when he and Asvika finally realized that they had nothing in common, no shared interests except for the bedroom (pity they didn't make this discovery before their son was Rajam was born). Who knows. But Caruhashan drank, sneaking in a nip before work, a nip during his lunch break, having a drink while he did paperwork, a drink before he came home and had his nightly row with Asvika... Caruhashan became what one might call a heavy, lifestyle drinker. The sort of man who packed away enough liquor in a day to pickle a normal person.

Drink enough and you start seeing things. It's what they call an altered state of consciousness, and wandering around some very deep maintenance tunnels beneath murder-haunted Whitechapel in an altered state of consciousness is basically hanging out an invitation for something uncanny to happen. Something did. Caruhashan doesn't like to talk about what exactly he saw that triggered his Awakening, but whatever it was fractured his sanity and sent his screaming soul straight across the Abyss to the Watchtower of the Stone Book. He was still screaming when Taliesin came across him in the abandoned Down Street Station, the Welsh bard drawn by the strings of fate and destiny and luck.

Over the course of the next few days Caruhashan progressed from screaming to whimpering to silence, and the doctors (with a few nudges from Taliesin) put it down to an alcohol-induced nervous breakdown. Over the subsequent months, Taliesin brought the damaged new wizard into the supernatural world, taking him on as an apprentice and inducting him into the Mysterium. Caruhashan didn't mind. He liked the ritual, the ideology, all those comforting words that said that knowledge had meaning and coherency and that the world wasn't quite as horrifyingly random as he thought it was.

Caruhashan took the Shadow name Enoch Bowen for his own (after the professor from H. P. Lovecraft who discovered the Shining Trapezohedron in an ancient Egyptian ruin and started the Starry Wisdom Cult), and now serves as one of the Mysterium's more skilled field researchers. Well, skilled might not be precisely the right word for it. Unconventional may be more accurate, or perhaps insane captures the proper feeling. Whatever happened to Bowen beneath Whitechapel fractured his psyche in a way that he hasn't quite recovered from. He has... quirks (bouts of deep melancholy, vocalization, insomnia). But since two of those quirks include an absolute physical fearlessness and a very easy approach to violence, this makes him useful, at least enough for Taliesin and the rest of the Seekers of Sophia to put up with him. Basically, when something hits Bowen's buttons, the mage explodes into violence, a kind of rabid frenzy that tends to reduce whatever is standing in front of it into a red paste.

Beyond that, Bowen's not that bad a researcher. His particular focus is London Below, which he suspects is much bigger and more filled with occult power than London Above. He believes in there being occult symbols down there, that the London Underground system is some kind of metaphysical circuit powered by millions of commuters every day. He believes in things living down there, beings and communities and entities that the rest of London has only the faintest knowledge of. Most of all, he believes that if you dig deep enough, you hit Divinity. There are gods buried beneath London, and Bowen is at once terrified and worshipful of them -- he desperately wants to find them, though he's still not sure what he'd do with them if he did. He spends a lot of time poking around London Below, and he has a knack for surviving down there that's half skill and half instinct.

He still drinks, though less than before. In a way, Bowen appreciates the chaos and constant alert that comes with being a member of a Mysterium field research team. He always slipped his drinking into the holes of his routine, but now he doesn't have a routine, and that means he needs to keep himself at least somewhat functional. The drive not to let down his cabal thus serves as a moderating factor to his alcoholism -- and the Mystery of Health helps his liver perform above and beyond the call of duty.

Beneath all that plagues Bowen's shattered and sodden mind are vestiges of the man he used to be. Caruhashan Kampan is keenly aware that he's failed at a lot of things in his life -- he's divorced now, that happened not long after he had one of his violent fits around Asvika. He's kind of even failed at being a mage, since the Awakening broke him. This leaves Bowen more than a little bitter and gloomy, but it also means that he's determined to not ruin the last few things he still has going for him -- his cabal and his now-grown son, who he visits every few months.

Bowen is a Bengali man in his late forties, though one would be hard-pressed to tell that from looking at him. His hair is almost entirely grey, and he keeps it in short curls about his head. He has a drooping grey mustache, his eyes have prominent bags under them, and he has a prominent beer belly -- alcohol has taken its toll on him, and very little remains of the handsome man he once was. At the same time, Bowen is in the best shape he's ever been in his life, courtesy of magic. He normally wears unobtrusive clothing, slacks and shirts in earth tones, and many people don't notice him at first.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 5; Social 1
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Unexpected Violence; London Below
Banes: Blood Magic

Brigid
Leah Ojokolu, Zelatores of the Mysterium

Type: Mage
Cabal: Seekers of Sophia
Path: Obrimos
Order: Mysterium
Paradigm: Blood Magic
Born: 1984

Virtue: Curious
Vice: Arrogant

Background: A third-generation immigrant from Nigeria, Leah Ojokolu grew up in a huge, sprawling family with no fewer than four brothers (and sadly, not a sister in sight) and a slightly terrifying number of cousins, aunts, and uncles in the house. She's reasonably sure her mother's related to a quarter the Nigerian community in London. In any case, the desire to get away from the boisterous atmosphere led to Leah finding a lot of her own things to do, most of which involved books.

Fast forward about a decade and change, and Leah's in med school (they don't call nerds 'bookish' for nothing). Leah was smart, hard-working, liked the idea of helping people, and liked the idea of being paid lots and lots and lots of money for helping people. Unfortunately, to get to the promised land of a high-profile career as a surgeon, Leah had to finish the Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital (or the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, as they were calling it now). This was easier said than done.

Leah Awakened in 2007 after pulling an energy-drink-fueled all-nighter in preparation for her first surgery (as an observer, anyway). Somehow, while reviewing which bits shouldn't be cut when one's elbow-deep in another person's guts, Leah strolled through a hall of fifty-one golden doors, imagining each one as a part of the body, with gold and silver machines scurrying about much as cells do. At each door, she answered a question, and was granted access to the deeper mysteries. It was in the fifty-first chamber, the Heart of the Watchtower of the Golden Key, that Leah became one of the Obrimos. At first, Leah dismissed it as a particularly vivid hallucination brought upon by Red Bull and sleep deprivation... right up until the point where she healed the surgery subject by touch.

Once the Masquerade breach was covered up, Leah found herself in the world of the Awakened. She took the name of Brigid for herself, the Celtic goddess of wisdom and healing and poetry, and she joined the Mysterium. She always saw herself as a collector and preserver of knowledge, so it was a natural fit.

Currently, Brigid's jumped head-first into what the Mystagogues call Teratology, the study of other supernatural species. The doctor in Brigid is absolutely fascinated by the existence of all of these alternative biologies. Werewolves who can heal from any wound. Changelings who appear to be hybridized with everything under the sun, animate and inanimate. Vampires who are clinically dead yet keep moving around. Stranger creatures that fit no earthly biology. Brigid is desperately curious about how all of this works, and she's willing to do anything to figure out what makes the supernatural tick.

By and large, this isn't so bad. Most of what Brigid wants to do is grab supernaturals and stick them into CAT scanners or bombard them with x-rays. She gets people to go along with it by promising free medical care to them, or else by giving them money, though since Brigid's only just out of med school, she doesn't have all that much money. What Brigid would really like is to get her hands on some supernatural creatures and cut them open and poke them around, but it's tricky finding volunteers for that.

This curiosity is compounded by a kind of nascent God Complex that Brigid's developing. She can do with a touch what the best medical surgeons of the day can't. She understands intellectually that plenty of mages can do that, but there's still an incredible thrill for her in watching a cut close or a broken bone set, to the point where she's sometimes cut herself open just to be able to heal the damage. In Brigid's head, these wounds don't 'count', since she can heal them.

Now take Brigid's unrestrained curiosity and her ideas that injuries don't count if promptly healed, then aggravate them with the inherent hubris of the Awakened and the pushing of her Mystagogue colleagues to research research research, and it's probably only a matter of time before Brigid starts using increasingly unethical means to get herself some research subjects. The logistics of such a thing are nightmarish, but that's what she has a Cabal for -- and not every supernatural creature is as well-defended as the Kindred or the Lost. It's not that Brigid would ever hurt them permanently, she'd heal every incision she makes. But not everyone might agree with that.

Besides, it's for a good cause. Imagine for a moment that Brigid is able to isolate the lycanthropic healing factor and reproduce it. Or whatever anti-aging mechanism exists in vampiric Vitae, that lets ghouls live forever. It would be a new world in medicine, the salvation of hundreds of millions (and the fame and fortune of Leah Ojokolu). Brigid's aware enough to realize that this isn't going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, even before she gets into the Masquerade-related consequences of it. On the other hand, there's not an awful lot of medical researchers in the supernatural world, and the mortal doctors are coming up with interesting things in neural mapping and genetic analysis all the time. Maybe, just maybe Brigid can pull this off, and by god it's an intoxicating dream, a chance to both help others and help herself (and both parts of that are very real draws for the young Obrimos). In any case, everyone's got to start somewhere, and so Brigid throws herself into her research, trying to figure out the how of supernatural biology.

Brigid finished med school in 2010, and is currently in the first year of her medical residency at Bart's. Her appearance is that of a African woman in her late twenties, her hair worn in long dreadlocks. She's maybe about twenty pounds heavier than she ought to be, but on the other hand she has a kind of glow of health that people tend to find attractive. She still dresses like a med student, wearing slacks and sweaters and sneakers, though she puts on a doctor's coat when doing her research.

Brigid is very much the junior member of the Seekers of Sophia, but over the last four years her fellow Cabal mates have given her an intensive course in how to survive in the supernatural world, which includes knowing how to make anyone regret messing with her. Brigid's not completely hopeless in hand-to-hand combat, but her particular talent is as a telekinetic, and Brigid always makes sure she has plenty of scalpels and syringes and other sharp objects close at hand. She sometimes uses casual telekinesis in her surgery, most often when she needs a few extra pairs of hands at the equipment and can't be in two places at once.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 2; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Medicine; Mystery of Health & Mystery of Mind
Banes: Gone Horribly Wrong (Health)

Raam Prasad
Col. Simon Henry Duncalfe

Type: Mage
Cabal: The Heirs of Paracelsus
Path: Obrimos
Affiliation: Guardians of the Veil
Legacy: Daksha
Born: 1863



Virtue: Hopeful
Vice: Prideful

Background: There are a great many Guardians who very much wish Raam Prasad was no longer in the Order. They don't wish him ill, necessarily, for Raam Prasad has done more for the Guardians of the Veil than most any other mage you care to name. Nor is Raam stupid, nor incompetent, nor cowardly. The man was a military officer in the British Raj, and fought valiantly in the Coup of 1914 (which is a bit of the problem). No, mostly the Guardians wish Raam to go away because the mage is a dreadful embarrassment.

Simon Henry Duncalfe was born the son of a British officer in India, and in short order he joined the armed forces of the Raj himself. A combination of family connections and his own cool competence in hunting down brigands and thugees meant that he was promoted in short order, and it was while a captain chasing down bandits that he Awakened. To hear Raam describe it now, the Awakening saw him lifted up by angelic beings of pure light, to look down upon all of humanity, to see them in their glory and their depravity, to see all that there was to see. It was a moment of purest enlightenment, and Duncalfe's soul sang like a harp.

The four-day Mystery Play awakening, however, also saw Duncalfe being sent back to Europe to recover. It was in London that Duncalfe met the newly-transformed Kurt Eisler, the German magus who had become Daksha Takharam and founded the Theosophically-influenced Daksha Legacy. Eisler claimed he had found the legendary realm of Shambhalla and been in contact with a spiritually advanced being called Kuut Humi. From Kuut Humi, Eisler had received enlightened knowledge, and he so formed the principles of the legacy, the Daksha Yoga. Duncalfe was to become one of the first of the British Daksha.

Duncalfe (now Raam Prasad) spent time with Eisler and his original disciples in their ashram in Madras, but then Raam returned to London to lead the local Daksha. He was a ranking member of the Mysterium, right up until the Coup of 1914, when Civitas and Kore overthrew the Mystagogues and chopped off some heads. Raam Prasad led a small but vocal company of Mystagogues into the ranks of the winners, ostensibly as a way to end the fighting. Or possibly because Raam Prasad may have been a mysticism-addled New Ager, but Raam had a very good sense of self-preservation. Truth be told, Raam Prasad's role in the Coup has never been entirely explained, like so many other bits of that confused period.

Since then, Raam's been a perfectly loyal if very troublesome member of the Guardians of the Veil. Raam is a Theosophist, and believes wholeheartedly that humanity can be evolved to a greater state, a philosophy that fits in well with the Guardian ideas of the Diamond Wheel. Raam has spent most of the 20th century in the Heirs of Paracelsus cabal, seeking ever more direct methods of improving the soul and body -- a master of the Mysteries of Soul and Mind and Supernal, Raam was the one who came up with the soul-alteration spell that was used on Binary, for instance. Raam's also been an occasional warrior for the Guardians. Simon Henry Duncalfe was a military officer in India, and became a colonel during the Great War, so Raam is no one's pushover.

The problem is that Raam Prasad is just dreadfully, horribly politically inconvenient. Many elder mages have beliefs on race and gender that are out of step with the modern world, but Raam is a particularly extreme case. The original Theosophists believed that different parts of humanity occupied different stages of the evolutionary tree, with the Aryans at the top, and various other races somewhere further down. Modern Theosophists quietly ignore that bit of Blavatsky's dogma, but Raam is nothing if not a traditionalist. Raam's not mean about it, but Raam's paternalistic condescension to any mage of non-European or non-Indian descent is cringe-inducing, and Raam's attitudes towards mortals and non-mages are nearly as bad.

Compounding the problem is that the Daksha in general and Raam in particular were strident supporters of the Nazis, as they had quite similar ideas on human evolution and racial superiority. The Daksha believed that the Nazi eugenics experiment would improve humanity's evolutionary status. To be fair, Raam was in good company among both mages and mortals at the time, who tended to support eugenics right up until the death camps were liberated. Today, Raam has nothing but venom for the Nazis, but the mage's poor choice of friends won little approval when the War started.

Finally, there's the simple fact that if the Mysterium loathes Civitas, it hates Raam Prasad with a white-hot fury that threatens to overwhelm all reason. The Mystagogues see Raam as the Great Traitor, and would like nothing more than having the Daksha hung, drawn, and quartered. Plenty of other Daksha feel the same way.

So, the Guardians have quietly shuffled Raam Prasad into the Heirs of Paracelsus, where the Daksha can be used but is also out of sight. They keep Raam away from new members if it can be helped, and definitely away from any Mystagogues, at least unless the Order of the Seventh Seal is trying to provoke the Mysterium.

Raam accepts it with equanimity. The mage is characterized by a sublime sense of his/her importance in the universal scheme of things, and thus shrugs off what the mage perceives as the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Privately, Raam may well believe that everyone else is doomed for the dustbin of history, but the mage has enough social sense to realize that this is an impolitic thing to say. Raam tends to practice a kind of selective blindness, where the few friends the mage has become, in essence, honorary Daksha. Maybe if Raam sets a good enough example, they'll join the Legacy.

Raam has sufficient self-awareness to realize just how they are seen among the Guardians, and this tends to send Raam into a red-eyed rage. Hasn't Raam sacrificed enough? Has Raam ever done anything bad to the Guardians? But giving into the rage would violate the Daksha Yoga, so Raam shoves it down and puts a smile over their hatred. Raam might fantasize about grabbing some eye-rolling young apprentice and shaking them till their bones snap, but they'd never, ever do it.

Nor can anyone argue that Raam Prasad doesn't at least try to live the part of the superior being. The Daksha believe that a key part of the Daksha Yoga is to alter the body to better resemble the ancient Lemurians, who were a superior species to modern, degraded humanity. As such, Raam has used the Mystery of Flesh to grow a third eye in the back of the mage's head, perfectly round and utterly black. Likewise, Raam Prasad is a hermaphrodite, perfectly melding the attributes of both genders.

Outside of radical body-modification, Raam also engages in endless hours of yogic meditation, in ascetic self-denial, and in a constant aspiration to improve themselves as an entity in a mental, physical, and spiritual sense. Raam does not smoke, does not drink anything stronger than green tea, and is fastidious in personal habits and grooming. They meditate, train, and study with religious devotion, and are unflinchingly loyal to the Guardian's directives. In interpersonal relations, Raam maintains a kind of perfect serenity, always smiling, never raising their voice. Even if Raam is telling another mage that they're a regrettably inferior example of humanity, Raam is always unfailingly nice. No swearing, always say please and thank you. Of course, this just means that those Guardians who don't think of Raam as a racist throwback instead view them as something of an insufferable show-off.

There are days when Raam thinks they just can't win.

It should be noted that even among the Guardians, opinions on Raam Prasad are sharply divided. Some think the Daksha to be a kooky throwback to an uncomfortable past, a nutcase kept in the basement but safe to dismiss. Others think that Raam's truly a kind of post-human entity, something alien and dangerous and with access to greater knowledge and power than they realize. The truth is that Raam's a competent and canny mage with a great deal of combat experience, but Raam's also cut off from the greater Daksha legacy and largely without friends in the Order.

Physically, Raam looks like what they are -- an individual devoted to physical self-perfection. Despite being well into their second century, Raam looks about thirty-five at best, courtesy of a great deal of the Mystery of Life and a lifetime of obsessive physical training. Raam looks good, athletic without being overmuscled, graceful without being fragile, and possessed of limitless poise. They can also twist themselves into a pretzel, courtesy of a hundred or so years of yoga, and that's before magic enters into the question. Raam's two visible eyes are grey, and their brown hair is worn down to about their shoulder, so as to conceal their fathomless, black third eye. Raam tends to wear loose-fitting clothes in neutral tones, both for comfort and because like any practitioner of Daksha Yoga, Raam is an accomplished shapeshifter.

Rank: 3
Mental 4; Physical 4; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 5
Notable Powers: Physical Paragon; Unfailingly Nice; Former Military Officer
Banes: Avatar (Enlightened and Alien); Tell (New Age Weird)
Persuasion Boons: Well-Conditioned

Parminder Manda
Archangel, Absolot, Poe, Queen of Spades, Solace

Type: Mage
Path: Mastigos
Affiliation: Guardians of the Veil
Cabal: The Heirs of Paracelsus



Virtue: Helpful
Vice: Vain

In the normal course of things, there is an order to the Supernal. There are unspoken and unwritten rules, patterns in which people Awaken, an understanding of how things will play out. Parminder was a woman who fell through the cracks, a case study in the flaws of the higher plan, something that never should have happened. She Awakened while driving on the M25 orbital motorway, an event that dropped her mind straight into Pandemonium and, unsurprisingly, caused her to lose control of her car. She veered out of her lane, smashed into the van next to her, killed the family inside of it, and put herself into a comatose state that would last for the next six years - a prisoner, locked inside her own body. Fate was not so kind as to render her truly unconscious for this time.

Even when people still visited her, it was only for a few hours every day. The rest of her hours were spent alone, surrounded by hospital white noise and the quiet murmur of nurses. After a year of no response, no movement, eventually the visitors stopped coming - or at least, stopped speaking. The mages never found her either. Without any activity or magic on her part, they had no means to. Parminder was cut off from the world, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. With nothing external to turn to, Parminder turned inward. Fortunately for her and her sanity, the mind has many depths to explore. For a mage, even more so than a normal human being.

At the end of the six years, Parminder got up, stole a decent pair of clothes, and left the hospital. The combination of timing and her assumed helpless state meant she had a head start on the authorities, which gave her time to completely disappear. It wasn't that she wanted to leave her old life, so much. It was just that trying to salvage it was far more unlikely than just starting over.

The method of her spontaneous recovery was this: Parminder had spent every day, for the last six years, mentally exploring her own psyche. She coalesced aspects of her mind into self-willed spirits, confronted them, defeated them, and allowed them to help her come to terms with herself. With every repetition of this ritual, she gained a deeper understanding of herself, her flaws, and her magic. Eventually, she became powerful enough to coalesce her inner demons into proper spirits, who could influence the mortal world. So, one fine night, she summoned up one of her inner demons, had it sleeve itself in her body, and walked herself right back out into London.

This particular journey has left her very, very interested in the mind and soul. Most notably, she's very, very interested in aspects of either.

No one is entirely sure why she joined the Guardians instead of the Mysterium. The Guardians were the ones in power, which meant better resources for anything Parminder wanted to do, but it was mostly likely a quirk of the spirit controlling her that particular day. Parminder is now a part of the Guardian's soul research division, and likely the most approachable and sensible of the bunch. This does not mean she is all that approachable or sensible. The simple fact of the matter is, Parminder never recovered from her coma. Her body is still, at all times, being piloted by one of her inner spirits. This leaves her both oddly focused and oddly fluid in personality, depending on who is driving her on any particular day. The Guardians are somewhat aware of this quirk, but assume it to be caused by a magically shattered mind - they remain ignorant of the entire truth. Should they become aware, they probably could heal Parminder, but she has yet to inform them of her actual condition.

The real Parminder is a fae and mysterious woman, only accessible within her own dreams. In her physical form, her interests and goals vary depending on whomever is in control. She changes her Shadow Name accordingly, as well. Whenever her current aspect encounters another person, it attempts to engage with them using the means most appropriate to its nature. That said, Parminder is the one in ultimate control of their motives - a friendly spirit will attempt to help others using its favored emotions, while a hostile spirit will attempt to smother them with it. When a spirit ends its allotted time in control of her body, it reports everything that has happened to Parminder, keeping her appraised on the world outside her mind. She can also recall her controlling spirit if she chooses, or summon new ones if another approach seems needed. Her personas are as numerous as the facets of her personality, but she tends to stick to these main imagos:
Archangel: The epitome of righteous anger, and sometimes not-quite-so-righteous anger - but she always manages to make it sound ultimately righteous. Archangel isn't a seething ball of rage, like one might expect. She seems far more interested in what makes other people angry, righteously or otherwise. She stokes it, fans it, encourages it. Sometimes, being allowed to feel anger irrationally allows someone to come to peace with it. One needs to be very careful how ones responds, however. Archangel has a temper of her own, and it can flare at unexpected times. She can take the most vile abuse all day long if she feels like it, but will suddenly turn on people she feels are acting inappropriately. The fact that she herself demands that anger doesn't protect those who offend her. She never hurts anyone unless physically provoked, but she's very capable of tearing them down magically and physically. An angry Archangel might be compared to the Lady Galadriel, terrible and beautiful.

Absolot: A curious personality, Absolot is the most demonstrably human, but also the most fae and impulsive. She tends to encourage people to take care of themselves, pursue their own desires, and not stress out over the slings and arrows of the world. Nothing is as bad as it seems, things aren't the end of the world - and if it actually is, it always is, and the person shouldn't have to sacrifice themselves on the altar of constant crisis. She herself lives this philosophy to the fullest. Absolot exists in the moment, doing as she wishes without fear of what may go wrong. Given the Guardian's ill-habits of producing martyrs and workaholics, her point of view might be considered an important counterpoint. That said, there doesn't seem to be any crisis that could be more important to her than the welfare of individual people, and people sometimes accuse her of being blind to ultimate consequences.

Poe: She claims to be a spirit of sorrow, but Poe is really the spirit of guilt - guilt for things you can't control, and things you could. Much like guilt, Poe eats away at people, picking at little doubts, questioning their motives, wondering if maybe they couldn't have done things differently. On the surface, she claims to be interested in someone's sadness, but she instead digs up little traitorous thoughts from those who have suffered tragedy. Could I have done something different? Is this punishment for something I've done? To those who have done something they regret, Poe's course is much more straightforward. Poe is very subtle, and she's quite patient in her work. People might compare her to the emotionally abusive ex from hell. In theory, overcoming these doubts should make people stronger for it. That said, most people avoid Poe, and Poe herself tends to come out only in an antagonistic role.

Queen of Spades: The woman with the cutting tongue, the judge. People suspect she is in league with Poe, since she seems to have a keen idea of flaws and what people blame themselves for. The Queen of Spades is neither comforting nor forgiving. She preys off people who are suffering, offering them bargains to ease their pain. Not bargains to fix the source of their sorrow (that is the purview of a different sort of demon), but bargains to make people feel absolved for their perceived failings. People are split on whether this actually helps, or if this is simply the Queen of Spades using the insecurities of others to achieve her own inscrutable goals.

Solace: While most of Parminder's facets tend to pull people apart, Solace is dedicated to putting them back together. She provides a guiding framework for the other spirits' antics, ensuring they have a point beyond random aggravation and torment. Solace is most interested in how trials have affected others, and making sure their souls come out stronger from the fires they've been sent through. She seems to be the wisest of the spirits, and certainly the most accepting. She doesn't seem to provoke others, only wishing to learn, and observe. Solace likewise doesn't judge. No matter what they've done or how they've failed, in the end, it's understandable and alright. To earn the wrath of Solace is to utterly fail in humanity, in every conceivable definition.
Currently, Parminder serves as the public face of the Guardian's Black Research division, on the grounds she is by far the least offensive member to deal with. She uses her magic to both examine exceptional psyches and attempt to forge new ones, as well as examine facets of human beings much as she has examined facets of herself. Her own research into the soul is likely the least direct, but she works with the other members to study the effects of the psyche and mindscapes on souls. In addition to her practice of Ars Goetia, Parminder has a heavy interest in dreamscapes, including the Tenebros and the Animus Mundi. Since she is still unable to leave the confines of her own mind, she continues to explore it in every capacity she can manage.

Parminder is a South Asian woman in her thirties, though her hair has gone completely silver from her accident. Her figure is likewise still quite frail from her long coma. She walks with a pair of canes and still attends physical therapy - the Guardians can heal wounds, but have a harder time regrowing atrophied muscle. She seems to prefer lurking in the laboratory with the rest of her cabal, though nothing stops her from venturing out (escorting a cabal-mate somewhere, usually). She is, however, always impeccably dressed and made-up (goes for the natural look, but still fusses over it). This is a quirk left over from her hospital days - being casual or just out of bed reminds her too much of being helpless and paralyzed. She prefers to wear blues, greys, and greens, and seems to like sleeveless dresses.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 2; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Gnosis: 3
Notable Powers: Variable Personality; Dream Researcher; Goetic Mage
Banes: Gone Horribly Right (Mind)