Image by odomi2. Please do not use without permission
From left to right: Apata, Orion, Oghma, Dvergr, Lyssa, and Smiley
Image by Nolife-Edi. Please do not use without permission
Flora Kennedy was born and raised in Scotland, but a lifetime of service in the British Foreign Office has erased all but a trace of her original accent.
A linguistic progidy, she was fluent in seven different languages by the time she was twenty. The Foreign Office scooped her up straight from Edinburgh University and put her on a fast promotion track, then seconded her to MI6 (the British Government's foreign espionage division). She was assigned to work as a data analyst in various Embassies in eastern Europe at the height of the Cold War.
She enjoyed a long record of unbroken success, until the fateful night when she heard that two agents had been killed behind the Iron Curtain, on a mission which had been authorized on the strength of her analysis. An inquiry absolved her of any blame - it later emerged that the intelligence she'd been using had been supplied by a compromised source - but the guilt gnawed at her. With hindsight, and knowing that the data had been falsified, she could see certain tiny inconsistencies in it when she went through it again. Gradually, she convinced herself that the whole thing had been her fault, and one night she snapped and took a cocktail of whiskey and sleeping drugs. The result was not death but rebirth, as she found herself scribing her name onto the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet.
The Free Council discovered her shortly after she returned to England on sabbatical. She didn't have the easiest of relationships with the Order at first - its ideology sounded suspiciously left-wing to her Cold-War mentality, and the Guardians of the Veil also courted her, assuming that someone with her background would be a perfect match for their own world-view. But as she tersely explained, she only believed in secret intelligence services which were ultimately accountable to democratic governments. She'd seen the other kind of secret police in Eastern Europe, and she didn't want any part of something like that. The Guardians were a little too unaccountable for her peace of mind.
Having awakened in her thirties, she was used to relying on her own intelligence and diplomatic savvy to get things done, rather than taking magical short-cuts. That wealth of life experience proved invaluable as she climbed the ranks of the Free Council. By the time the previous Hierarch stepped down in 1998, she was regarded as his inevitable successor.
Now in her late seventies, she still has the body of a woman in her mid-fifties thanks to sensible diet, regular exercise, and a healthy dose of Life magic. She's long since retired from the foreign office - she left when the Berlin Wall came down, electing to end her career on a high note - she retains a lot of friends and connections there, although she doesn't stay in touch with them as regularly as she'd like. Her Consilium duties occupy her pretty much full-time.
In person, she's soft-spoken and reasonable, but with an undeniable force of personality and aura of command. Politically she's a moderate, working to keep the other Atlantean Orders at least nominally behind the Free Council's Brave New London.
Her attitudes towards the other supernatural factions are coloured by her Cold War days. She sees them in much the same terms as she once saw the Soviet Union, as a threat that needs to be contained and managed if it can't be out-and-out defeated. Aware that this is a bit of a weakness, she leaves dealings with the Temple to the Consilium's Heralds.
Her shadow name is supposedly taken from an ancient British goddess of writing and communication, whose name relates closely to the ancient form of script known as Ogham. But those who know her well enough to be aware of her fondness for Terry Pratchett's characters turn just a little too straight-faced whenever the subject comes up..
Rachel Smith comes from a formidably intellectual family. Her maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were both Rabbis, her mother is a concert pianist, and her father is a leading research chemist. Her paternal grandparents were both employed by Bletchley Park during World War II, and it was her grandfather's example that Rachel ultimately chose to follow, joining GCHQ, the British Government's code-breaking and spying facility, directly after earning her First in Mathematics from Oxford.
Her family's roots lay in the relative poverty of the East End's Jewish community, but her parents' and grandparents' generation both managed to accumulate a respectable family fortune from their work in computing or (in her father's case), the oil industry. Rachel was something of a tomboy rebel during her time at Roedean, an exclusive girl's boarding school, narrowly avoiding expulsion on a couple of occasions. By the time she was sixteen, she had, in her own words, "got boys, drugs and nightclubs out of my system", and threw herself whole-heartedly into her work instead.
Her Awakening, which took place in her late twenties, was especially traumatic. She experienced the Watchtower of the Lead Coin as an image of Clifford's Tower in York during the infamous massacre of the Jews in 1190. She ascended to the summit of the Watchtower through the flames and the bodies of the victims, and afterwards suffered a nervous breakdown that was attributed by her superiors in GCHQ to extreme overwork.
To the Guardians of the Veil, she was an ideal recruit, a brilliant mind well accustomed to the realities of espionage and keeping secrets. After retiring from the Civil Service on "medical" grounds - her post-Awakening breakdown provided a useful excuse - Rachel climbed swiftly through their ranks, assuming overall control of their operations in 1999.
Her security background and training as a scientist gives her a naturally cautious and conservative outlook, but she also has a strong moral code, the legacy, perhaps, of her Awakening. She is profoundly suspicious of ideologues, especially hate-mongering ones; the image of what such false prophets did in medieval York is burned forever into her mind. Her worst nightmare is that the mortal community will become aware of the supernatural presence in its midst and launch a new round of witch-hunts. She also worries that the same kind of fear and mistrust might easily grow between the three supernatural Poli themselves, and as a result, she's a strong supporter of the Temple.
Her shadow name, "Apate", is a minor Greek goddess, the sister of the god Moros and the personification of deceit.
She and the Hierarch are both friends and political allies, and Apate is the Hierarch's second-in-command in all but name.
"I had that Count Dracula in the back of my cab the other day..."
A member of the Mysterium, Edgar Laslo has found an unusual way to keep his finger on the pulse of the city; he's a London black-cab driver. His expertise in the city goes far beyond the famed "knowledge" that all black-cab drivers are expected to have; he knows its history, its cultures, and its supernatural influences, probably better than any other living man and almost any undead one. The son of Polish immigrants during World War Two, he had a moderately distinguished academic career at Cambridge University before taking up his current "retirement position". He's famous (or infamous) for using Time and Fate magic to ensure that he's always in the right place at the right time to see something interesting.
A champagne socialist par excellence, Alistair Crane was born into a family that owned half of Warwickshire and a quarter of Scotland. A huntin', shootin' and fishin' man in his youth, he was also a keen sportsman, world traveller and explorer. He did, however, always have a strong moral core, and was drawn into the pre-war Labour Party (and the Free Council) by a sense of noblesse oblige towards the less fortunate, which continues to inform his choices as a member of the Consilium council.
Flying in the face of the usual Mastigos stereotype, Dr. Alex Styles is a dedicated healer, a clinical psychologist and psychiatrist specialising in violent offenders. Her Mastery of the Mind Arcanum gives her an ability to help her patients denied to many of her colleagues, but as she herself points out, if you start tampering with peoples' minds, even to repair serious problems, you can soon find yourself on the slippery slope to interfering with their free will.
In her spare time, she fascinated with theories of the collective unconscious and "inherited" memory. Most of them are pure bunk, of course, but over the years she's uncovered a few tantalizing hints that there might be something more there, and as a member of the Mysterium, she can't leave a mystery alone...
Smiley is a tremendous John le Carré fan; that much, pretty every Mage in London knows. Even his shadow name is taken from perhaps le Carré's most famous protagonist. But that, and the fact that he leads the Arrow, is the only thing about him that is common knowledge. Like his namesake, Smiley keeps his secrets.
In fact, he himself never worked in Intelligence himself. He Awakened in his early twenties when he was already a career military officer, tipped as a rising star of his regiment. His strength was as a thinker and strategist; he started with Sun Tzu's Art of War while he was still a teenager, and by his early thirties he'd devoured pretty much every other military treatise worth reading (and a few that weren't). He served stints in Germany and Northern Ireland, crossing paths with the notorious Morrigan on several occasions; he has great respect for her abilities but considers her world-view unconscionable and morally bankrupt. In Northern Ireland, he liased closely with the Security Services, gaining a grudging respect for their work alongside his tate for le Carré's fiction
He retired as a full Colonel in 1995, and took over as head of the Adamantine Arrow in 1998. An Obrimos, he was widely tipped for a position on the Council, but stepped aside in favour of Nemesis, with whom he had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship. The revelation of her betrayal of the Consilium to the Seers of the Throne hit him hard, but in 2008, he took her place on the Consilium Council
He affects a slight air of physical frailty and sometimes walks with the aid of a cane - he actually was wounded in Northern Ireland by a sniper's bullet - but he's capable of what some of his younger colleagues irreverently refer to as "the Yoda thing", thanks to a combination of extensive martial arts training, covert Forces effects... and the rapier blade concealed within the cane
Morrigan had a good war. In 2008, she was, if not be the most wanted criminal in the world, then at least placed by the Consilium in the top five. In the late 70's and early 80's she was an agent with the Guardians of the Veil and assigned to her home in Ireland. After members of her family were killed in sectarian violence she became involved with the Irish Republican Army and began secretly facilitating attacks and acts of sabotage against English forces.
When her involvement was discovered, Morrigan went underground but continued to fight against the English. She earned the nickname "The Surgeon" for the precision of her strikes, focusing on politicians, combatants, and support material she managed to somehow avoid collateral damage.
But the killing of Sleepers through magic in anyway violated the most basic tenants of the Consilium. She was tried in absentia and sentenced to death.
When peace finally came, Morrigan approached the Consilium by proxy to negotiate her surrender in exchange for her life and some form of freedom. Her entreaties were categorically rejected. There could be no forgiveness for murder.
In the years since, Morrigan surfaced across the British Isles and the world, selling her services to the highest bidder. She has been connected to vampire Princes, mafia Dons, the Urathra, and most recently the deceased Lord Charles Briggs. Attempts to scry her location or track her down through magical and mundane means lead only to dead ends.
In 2008, thanks to her actions in bringing down the Bosworth Conspiracy - and saving the Kindred ruling Council from an explosive end - she received a grudging pardon from the Consilium, but remains persona non grata with the ruling Council
The closest description one can find to describe Janis is mercurial. His personality seems to shift and change depending on who he’s with and the circumstances. Few people can honestly say they have met the real man. He often comes across as friendly and approachable, though this can change without warning.
Thomas Hawke was born two years before the American Civil War in the great state of Georgia. His family were farmers of modest means, owned no slaves, and managed to produce just enough to feed themselves and sell a little extra. When war came, Thomas’ father was conscripted into the army while his mother struggled to keep the farm afloat.
In 1864 Thomas watched Union troops come and burn his home, butcher the livestock, destroy their fields, and rape his mother. Forced to abandon the farm, they fled to Atlanta where they tried to scrape by. When word reached them that Tom’s father had died in the fighting, his mother finally gave up hope and passed in her sleep.
With nothing but the clothes on his back, Thomas left Georgia to find his destiny. The circumstances of his Awakening are a mystery, but a year later he arrived in Chicago as the city was gripped by a Civil War within the Consileum. As soon as he entered the city the Five Orders moved in to either claim him as one of their own or to kill him and prevent their opponents from benefiting.
This was Thomas’s introduction to Mage Society: fire and blood. It was a kind Guardian that one the fight that night and took the young mage as his apprentice. He named Thomas Janis, after the Roman god of beginnings and endings. The new Guardian spent his first few years learning the art of spycraft and assassination and became quite adept at ending the mages of the Arrow before they could drawn upon their formidable power.
Eventually, the war within the Consileum ended with the Great Chicago Fire, and as a new generation began to create the Second City, there was no place for the warriors of old. Janis found himself an exile and outcast at the tender age of 16.
In the years and decades to follow Thomas Hawke became heavily involved with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. A skilled spy and assassin, he’s traveled from hot spot to hot spot bringing order to the Consileum and safety to human society. His methods are often direct and brutal, but Janis is happy to be cast as the villain if it means that the world is kept safe.
After the defeat of the Bosworth’s, Janis was invited to London by the head of the Guardians and with the blessing of the Hierarch. Apate had come to believe that she and her comrades had allowed the peace and prosperity created by the Temple to make them complacent, and she hoped that Janis would be able to establish a Red Cell to function as a second set of eyes willing to challenge conventional wisdom and the status quo.
His arrival is not without controversy. Janis’ suspicion towards the other orders alienated him in a community that values cooperation, and his hostility towards the other Polis has threatens to make him an outcast. He has few friends within the Consileum, and many in the leadership question whether his influence is healthy. However, because Apate trusts him completely, and with the backing of the Hierarch, he has been given carte blanche to look for threats among friend and foe alike, and to argue for a policy that many people find frightening.