Brothers Jonas and Micah met with Sister Dawn. They were the three senior Adepts of the Phoenix Lodge of the Association of Crowley’s Heirs. The Lodge itself was no more than four years old but its legacy was significantly more impressive than that implied.
Lodges moved, broke up, dissolved and splintered on occasion. Senior members of those groups either moved to an already established group in another city, though usually in a position of lesser responsibility, or founded their own Lodge. Such was the way of things. Crowley himself had taught that wisdom came from destruction.
More often than not, those founders brought with them the records and teachings of their previous Lodge. San Francisco’s growing distrust of Awakened had led to the breakup of the Eagle Lodge. Jonas and Micah had come here to start anew. Dawn had been their first convert and their first successful Awakening. The Eagle Lodge had come from the Dragon Lodge in Seattle, which came from the Jackal Lodge in Salt Lake City, which was descended from the Lodge. The only one that needed no prefix, the Lodge was reputedly the first center of the Association, the site of the Founding, long since lost to the Battlegrounds.
Brother Micah was the keeper of that legacy, the record of countless experiments and observations recorded by learned Brothers and Sisters for fifty years. Jonas and Dawn prepared the room before any discussion took place. She began by establishing a circle of control, blocking any light from leaving. Then she expanded that control to include light both above and below the visible range. Jonas’s area of expertise was influence over the abilities of others, to dampen and bolster their magics. His circle would reinforce Dawn’s own as well as suppressing any attempts to intrude on their discussion from a distance, seers, oracles and the like.
Micah did not participate. His greatest skill lay in… a different direction.
“They agreed?” Jonas asked, once the preparations were complete. “Half of our Awakened members register and they’ll share any findings?”
Dawn nodded and relaxed the glamor she normally held around herself. The air around her seemed to ripple as she resumed her real appearance, honey blonde hair and a figure that would have done a swimsuit model proud. As strange as it seemed for someone to adopt a plain seeming over a beautiful one, she’d found that outsiders, men especially, just didn’t take her seriously otherwise.
“And you’re sure that this is necessary?” she asked.
Brother Jonas sighed. “Yes. I don’t like cooperating with the blind fools in the Citadel any more than you but the signs are clear. If we don’t, the entire Lodge will be dead in less than a month. No indication of how or why but, vague or not, Lilith hasn’t been wrong yet.”
Dawn grimaced. Taking a new name on Awakening may have been traditional but the girl’s choice was just tacky. “Has she managed to summon her visions reliably yet?”
“No. I’m working with her and she’s making progress but it’s been less than a year. It’ll take time before she’s ready for Adept status.”
“Hm.” Brother Micah made a small noise, a habit he had when he wanted to change the subject. “I wonder… Might it not be better to do more?”
“What do you mean?” Dawn asked the older man.
“We’ve satisfied Lilith’s visions, or will once the volunteers have done their part. But… perhaps full cooperation, rather than token, might be beneficial in and of itself. The Citadel may be deluded, convinced that their power is of some earthly origin, but they hold great power nonetheless. They have spent much time and many resources investigating-” he sneered, but there was no real malice in it, “-Empowerment. If we offered them access to the Record, would they be willing to reciprocate? That is, share findings not just from their current experiments but from the past as well?”
“Brother Micah!” Jonas’s normally calm exterior gave way to shock. “The Record- It’s irreplaceable! To entrust something like that to the ignorant-”
“Only the knowledge, or at least the data.” Micah corrected. “Certainly they would be content with a copy rather than insist on the original.”
Dawn considered the idea. “I am not certain, but my instinct is that they would. We know that the Citadel itself does not deserve its reputation for fair dealing, but the local researcher… Dr. Lizborne, she is not one of their own. She is well spoken of by the locals, especially the lesser Awakened and those who have failed to control their gifts.”
“The Enfeebled you mean.” Brother Jonas said with distaste.
“Jonas, we have had this discussion before.” Micah chided, voice full of gentle patience. “Those who are not privy to Crowley’s teachings can hardly be blamed for failing to apply them. In the cases where that failure brings suffering, they deserve our pity and understanding, not contempt. The mere fact that they have managed some form of Awakening, even a partial one, shows their worth.”
No one spoke for time.
“I agree. If she agrees, we could learn a lot from this.” Dawn finally said. “We’ll need to study whatever they’re willing to share with us carefully, correct for their bias, but it could be useful. Even if they have no useful theories, the government’s researchers are bound to have made more observations than us.”
Reluctantly, Brother Jonas nodded his assent. “How should we go about this then?”
“I had considered volunteering to participate regardless.” Dawn admitted. “I think it would reassure some of the less… experienced members, perhaps keep them from taking any of the well meaning but misinformed advice they’re likely to receive too seriously. I’ll simply bring along a copy of the Record and discuss the matter in private with the good doctor when I have the chance. If my assessment of her character is accurate, that should be all that’s required. If not, well, I can reconsider the proposed bargain based on my own judgment at the time.”
“Acceptable.” “Wise of you.” the two agreed.
“Is there anything else that we need discuss?” Brother Micah asked. The other two looked at him then each other, shook their heads. “In that case, I shall go to prepare a new copy of the Record.” A heavy jingling filled the room as Micah slowly stood, bent with age and the weight of his robe. The other Adepts wore silk, velvet or whatever material they preferred, chosen for appearance or comfort. Brother Micah wore a robe made from countless metal links, each no bigger than the nail on his littlest finger, to store the workings of his magic.
His technique took time to produce significant results but he had had that time and more. Among those who kept track of such things in the Association, he was counted as its most dangerous practitioner of battle magics. Rumor had it that, had he come into the fullness of his power at the time, the Lodge would never have fallen. Each of those countless rings took a full day to prepare and could be used only once, but each held a different spell, an exercise of his Awakened prowess, and he could call on any of them or all of them at need.