The Last Remaining Light

Council of Gridlock

The Council and its Rogues meet, at last

So, it’s the Apocalypse — and there has never been a good time for anything. But a meeting between the Tradition Council and the apparent leaders of the Rogue Council was inevitable, has been for some time. Of course, Marius has never wanted to, condemned them as useless, as dangerous — mages just as willing and able to order their deaths as help them.

After all, it was Marius and Morgaine who inspired Tradition mages to take up the cause against the Technocracy, to fight back once more after years of suffering and surviving the bleak post-Reckoning Technocratic victory. And later, it was they who spurred the Council to accept a truce with the Technocratic Union, once the technocrats had been put in their place somewhat, and made to see the true horror and danger of the apocalypse unfolding before their eyes. Without them, would it even be a Council of Ten?

It was Marius and Morgaine who, in their previous guises and names, the mad mage Joshua and his vampire consor Morgan, had broken all the rules, gone back to war against Technocrats and the vampire clans, and demonstrated curious new powers. Had he really recovered his sanity, lost the Marauder Quiet and if so, how? Was she really mortal and Awakened, a witch and warlock of the Verbena as their Council representative Hector de XangĂ´ claimed?

The timing has never been in their favor, but as arrangements were made to meet with the Council in Barstow, California, things between them and Terpsichore went bad. Terpsichore, their go-between with the Tradition Council; Terpsichore, who built the Rogue Council out of rumor-mongers and Traditionalist dissidents and bitter, resentful Ascension War veterans, molded it with Morgan and Joshua’s exploits as inspiration. Terpsichore, who had been nursing a special hatred for them for a long, long time now, and only lately did events spiral out of her control and Mind manipulation and blow wide open.

Naturally, now the time comes for the crew of the Defiant to fly down to Barstow and enter the mi’as — to take the nascent idea of House Diedne and run with it — to merge the Council of Ten and its Rogues — and for them to accept the offering of an alliance with the broken and chastened Garou of the Silver Fangs.

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The Crown of Tiferet: Morgaine doesn’t know half of what Marius has gone through lately; her attention may not have been as focused as it could have been, but Terpsichore’s manipulation played a big part in preventing Morgaine from seeing what was happening.

When Morgaine freed him from his Avatar, gave Marius a path back from the permanent Quiet of a Marauder, the dragon warned them that they would learn to regret it — and certainly Marius has. Sometimes, it may be best to be mad, and the end of the world might be one of those times.

Without that protection of sorts, he’s drawn fire from the Black Man, targeted as the weaker of the pair, not by pure magickal skill but in lacking Morgaine’s conviction and centuries of experience. There is little that can shock her, but unfortunately too much for him.

In the wake of Terpsichore’s betrayal and the certain knowledge that she used their closeness to damage his mind however subtly, Marius crafted a simple silver crown set with gems to resonate with his mind, to integrate Awakened perceptions with the adrenaline and instinct of a shellshocked warrior.

With time, the Crown may heal what damage has been done. It may even create a new, higher form of consciousness…if he can stand to use it. Like dressing up in a cloak in some Robin Hood style to please Morgaine, it’s vaguely embarrassing to him to have to wear it. Either it’s that, or just the tacit admission that he’s weak — weak enough to have gone mad in the first place, weak enough to falter now that the chips are down.

Council of Gridlock
 

Meeting the Family: Before meeting with the Council of Nine Traditions (plus the ceremonial Union rep), an old friend of sorts paid them a visit just after the Defiant landed in Barstow. Azathoth, the Marauder from Null-B who must have survived Joshua’s attack on the Construct from way back, had been in touch with them, or perhaps just his dragon, now and then over the years. Before they could get to the Council itself, Azathoth and a companion of his, Stephen of Warwick bani Aeduna, stopped them long enough to deliver a warning.

It was a strained meeting at best, as Marius has never relished the memories of his time in the Quiet; even when he was a Marauder, he spent a long while convinced that he wasn’t — in his reality he was still sane, and any reminders from the outside world tended to throw him into a rage. Worse still that this last meeting with Azathoth occurred while they were accompanied by an Iterator and her squad of experimental cyber-soldiers — part of Morgaine’s ongoing diplomatic efforts.

Azathoth and Stephen had come expecting Joshua the mad Magister, and perhaps for Morgan to be one, too. After all, that was the plan Joshua’s dragon had devised. But finding them curiously…sane…still the Mad Ones decided to tell them something of import, hoping that in spite of their apparent disability (of sorts) their hearts, if not their Avatars, might be in the right place.

So, Morgaine and Marius learned that it was Marauders who spawned the Red Death that decimated the world — not Nephandi, as might be expected. Marauders of the genocidal variety, the Chiaoth ha-Qadesh, intent on weakening the Consensus; and that mission it seems was accomplished. Their next mission: recruit Joshua, rather an obvious kindred spirit, so to speak. It didn’t help that a purely mundane army from the South was rolling (and flying) toward Barstow, on their own mission to exterminate the Awakened, perhaps on the orders of some manipulative Cainites…

Naturally Marius’ first choice was to let the Chiaoth ha-Qadesh and the army destroy each other, then mop up whatever was left over. Morgaine of course had other ideas…to save the hostile, yet mundane opposition, in hopes of swaying them. She also tried to make peace with, and ally with Azathoth and Stephen and the other, perhaps more reasonable, Marauders. Stephen of Warwick politely declined, however, at least for now. It was clear that Morgaine’s choice to take Joshua away from them did not sit well with them, and it remains to be seen what those Marauders, led by someone they call ‘Davenport,’ will do.

The battle with the army and the Chiaoth ha-Qadesh was somewhat anticlimactic by comparison; while Morgaine flew the Defiant and prevented the army’s air force from bombing Barstow, Marius was joined by the would-be disciples of House Diedne. Their coincidental magicks and sorcery were enough to disable the mechanized ground force, and Marius abused their ordinance liberally in destroying the Chiaoth ha-Qadesh, redirecting cruise missiles and RPGs to reinforce his own ferocious attack.

Council of Gridlock
 

Meeting the Council: Meetings with individual Council representatives have gone on for some time already, starting with their newly adopted Tradition, the Verbena. Hector de XangĂ´ met them some time before Morgaine’s transformation, when the ritual was just rumors and dubious ideas. He was on the dubious side himself, at least, before…afterward, though, Hector took their side.

Czarina Vargo met with Marius and Morgaine in Seattle, before their trip to Barstow, eager as she was to see the Defiant and its unique engine, a tool she wishes to employ in averting the threat of the Red Star by accelerating the Earth itself away from it.

Nu Ying, or Raging Eagle, came to see them (so to speak) when the armed force from the ‘Confederate American States’ attempted their mechanized assault on Barstow, joining the wannabe Diedne mages and sorcerers in neutralizing the army as painlessly as possible. Nu Ying also sought to learn the truth about Morgaine and Marius, away from the political machinations of the Council, as only an Akashic would: through a union of the minds. He also happened to be there to intervene when one of their alleged disciples turned assassin…and again, to suggest that sparing, turning the would-be killer might be the wiser move. Marius isn’t sure he wants to accept the Akashic view of the soul, however, even if it does imply that Gilgul is not the crime against the Tellurian that he believes it to be.

Mark Gillan, the Council’s relatively newly minted Chancellor, was one of the first to come see them in Barstow, interested in finding a way past Gilmore’s divisiveness (not to mention Marius’) to achieve unity. He may have also thrown in a few…impertinent…remarks…and took a poke or two at learning some details of Marius’ transmutation of Morgaine, as well. But it was a fairly friendly meeting of rebels, without too much trying to out-rebel the other. Gillan gave them some direction in seeking the support they would need to match Lord Gilmore, and that in turn forced Gilmore’s hand…

The Lord Gilmore led the rhetorical attack on them straightaway during their opening remarks before the Council, and later, when he intruded upon their meeting-time with Hector. Gilmore and Marius traded the harshest barbs they could, and it was enough to make Marius promise to kill him…after the war is over, anyway. After doing their worst, however, it may still be possible for them to work together, if not reconcile their differences.

Jamie Cadwell visited them most recently, after the wave of madness swept through the town, bringing the Hollow One Mark with her. Jamie also brought the other side of the Council-Rogue divide; she’s much more sympathetic to the Rogues, and thus to Marius and Morgaine, but the notion of all that collapsing into unity didn’t sit right with her. To Jamie and Mark, and the ones like them, there are serious problems with the Council and good reasons why the Rogue Council ought to soldier on alone. They did point out, ironically along with the Lord Gilmore, how the remnant Technocracy is working to recruit and perhaps enslave the new generation of Awakened and sorcerers inspired by Marius and Morgaine’s actions. It remains to be seen if they can thread the needle of working with the Technocracy, while not giving this new, Awakened world right back to them.

Council of Gridlock
 

Pep Rally: With Marius as a reluctant leader of some sympathetic Awakened, difficult choices were made to bring the so-called ‘Rogue Council’ in line with the combined Tradition & Technocrat Council of Ten.

Rather than simply submit to the will of the Order of Hermes, however, their supporters have been rallied, tasked with the myriad desperate requests for aid sent to Morgaine and Marius. Morgaine’s war cabals will support the Council — however indirectly — as they fulfill her true ideal, a united community of the supernaturally gifted against the growing darkness of the Black Man and his Nephandi and Cainite (and even some terrified mundane) forces.

Stuck with the unpleasant necessities of delegating missions of such dire importance, the ‘rogues’ are also meant to rally behind Lord Gilmore and the Order’s plan to repel the Red Star — along with any other compatible, plausible schemes along those lines.

While the Order is entrusted with saving the world from the threat of the Red Star, Marius has settled on a different mission, to address the other dire threat of increased seismic and volcanic activity, which threatens to bring down what civilization is left. Convinced that his fellow Awakened aren’t taking it seriously enough, and after seeing the first glimmering of fate or destiny in his life since his magnum opus was achieved, the remaining crew of the Defiant will soon make their way into the unseen interior of the Earth.

They hope to find the cause of the earthquakes and vulcanism, and to put a stop to it. And perhaps, put a stop to one of the last vampiric Clan Founders suspected to be active — Malkav. Through logical deduction, some processes of elimination and talks with Garou knowledgeable about the Wyrm, they believe Malkav is the vessel of the Archbishop of Madness, Doge Klypse, the Maeljin servant of Sykora, Urge Wyrm of Paranoia. And as the ranks of the Maeljin-Antediluvians dwindle, Malkav’s traps show that the ones left take their hunters seriously. And his endgame at the Earth’s core may still prove enough to bring about the ruin of humanity.

Council of Gridlock
tytalus

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