Image of Dyggvi by Ulysses0302, flame brushes by Obsidian Dawn. Please do not use without permission
Adam Dane is a municipal dustman, what Americans would call a garbage man. Not the first profession that most people might choose, perhaps, if they had the power to bend the fabric of reality itself to their will, but Adam suffers the jokes with good-humoured indifference. He has his reasons for what he does, and they seem like good ones - not just to him, but to his fellow Guardians of the Veil.
These days, everyone knows that you can learn a lot about someone by going through their trash, but a mage can go further. A mage can sense the emotional taint of old violence, or see the spirit of the dead clinging to the incinerated ashes of its mortal body, or use Fate magic to find the needle of information in a haystack of discarded trash. And dustmen are both ubiquitous and inconspicuous. Everyone needs their rubbish collected, so dustmen can go almost anywhere. And almost nobody pays attention to them. In many ways, they're perfect spies.
Adam came from a conventional blue-collar background. His father, too, was a dustman; his mother was a secretary at a funeral home. As a boy, Adam would sometimes ride on his father's cart and "help out" on his rounds. His Dad's amused co-workers adopted him as a kind of "mascot".
He was a bright, inquisitive boy, and he excelled at school. He could easily have gone on to a university education and a white-collar office job, and but for his Awakening, he probably would have.
Sneaking in to nightclubs underage was regarded as a harmless transgression in the social circles where Adam grew up; more or less a rite of passage for most teenage boys. Unfortunately for Adam, he wasn't most teenage boys. He was Moros mage on the cusp of Awakening, and when he snuck into the nightclub in question - a nightclub owned by an Invictus Kindred and haunted by several of the bloodsucker's former victims - his nacent potential started to manifest under the effect of the deathly ambience.
He went out onto the dance floor and started to dance. And dance, and dance. He danced for longer than seemed possible, danced until he was soaked in sweat and dehydrated, his muscles spasming with strain. He didn't know why he was dancing. He couldn't see the ghosts who were swarming around him, struggling to possess him. He only knew he couldn't stop. Finally, his body could take no more. He collapsed.
The bouncers took him to the manager's office. In his second stroke of ill-luck that night, Lucian, the vampire owner of the club, was there, and the same necromantic aura that had drawn the ghosts to Adam excited the Kindred's blood-lust to fever pitch. He drained Adam almost dry on the spot. Coming to his senses, he ordered his ghoul bouncers to dispose of the body.
Adam found himself in a dark, cold reflection of the London that he knew. It was night, and the sky was filled with roiling, lightning-filled clouds. Ahead of him was the Canary Wharf tower, with a beacon of light shining from the pyramid at its apex.
Impelled by an instinct he couldn't understand, he rode the elevator to the top floor, where he found a single computer terminal standing in solitary majesty beneath the glass pyramid. He walked over to it and logged in, inscribing his name into the Watchtower of the Lead Coin.
He woke up in the basement of a building that was due to be demolished the next day. Not understanding what had happened to him, he somehow managed to get home before he collapsed again from fatigue and blood loss.
He thought he was going mad for about a week, before his fumbling experiments with his new abilities drew the attention of the Guardians of the Veil. He was an easy target for their recruiters; he needed no convincing that the world was filled with secret threats that needed to be contained.
The Consilium discussed his case, and word was quietly passed to the Kindred of the Temple - a vampire had attacked and almost killed a mage, in blatant violation of the non-aggression pact between the two communities. The Consilium didn't see any need to point out that the victim hadn't, technically, been a mage at the time of the attack. The Kindred Council, in turn, didn't feel the need to mention that Lucian had been a pain in their collective asses for quite a while, and they were grateful for a legitimate excuse to get rid of him. A Court of Others rapidly sanctioned the mages to deal with Lucian in any way they saw fit.
As it turned out, they didn't get the chance. A mortal vampire-hunter named Stuart Taylor took out Lucian first, and was "rewarded" for his ingenuity by the Embrace. Consilium and Council agreed to chalk the whole affair up as resolved.
When the former Herald to the Kindred died five years ago, Adam Dane was chosen as his replacement with very little debate. His history, the Consilium felt, would make him suitably mistrustful of their intentions, while his Moros nature allowed him to be comfortable around the walking dead.
In fact, Adam harbours few grudges. He certainly doesn't hold the Kindred as a whole responsible for Lucian's crimes, and his discussions with Wyncham have helped him understand that many Kindred actually struggle to hold on to their humanity against the odds. But though he has no vendetta against the Kindred, he doesn't have many illusions about them, either.
His shadow name is a King from Old Norse legend, who became the consort of Hel, goddess of the underworld, when he died. At school, the name "Dane" and his blonde hair naturally got him nicknamed "the Viking", and the name seemed a good allusion to that, his Death-aspected Moros magic, and his position as Herald to the Kindred.
Samantha Aldhelm has what some of her fellow Mages describe, a little tackily, as an "intimate" knowledge of the Uratha. She's married to one, and they have three small children.
Sam and her husband Derek were school sweethearts. Sam's parents owned a large farm in rural Berkshire. Derek's parents were London stockbrokers who settled in the nearby village of Wycombe because it was a rural idyll in easy commuting distance of London. Derek's family wasn't popular; they were part of the invasion of urban monied types who were settling into the countryside and driving the local property prices beyond the reach of the locals. They would have been even less popular if anyone had known that Derek's mother was a werewolf, but fortunately, no-one did. The news came as a bit of a shock to Derek himself when he experienced his first change at the age of seventeen.
They married young, and in many ways enjoyed an ideal marriage. Sam wasn't just spiritually aware and physically tough, she had an excellent business brain. She was one of the movers and shakers behind the development of an organic farmers' collective, which developed its own chain of shops to sell directly to the customer rather than accept the rock-bottom prices paid by the supermarket chains. Derek tried in every way he could to shield her from his double life as an Uratha, but eventually, he failed. A spirit of elemental fire, sent (appropriately), by one of the Fire-Touched, tried to burn down their farm house whilst Derek was away in London. Half-choked from smoke inhalation, Sam lunged for the stairs, desperate to reach her children. She stumbled upwards through the smoke for what seemed like forever, until she finally staggered into her children's room. It was empty, and the windows looked out across a primal forest.
Stunned and disbelieving, not understanding what she was doing, she picked up one of her daughter's crayons and scrawled her name on the wall of the Watchtower of the Stone Book. She awoke in time to drive the fire spirit away with an instinctive application of her newfound abilities.
Her husband Derek was driven crazy over the course of the next few weeks, as Sam began to experiment with what she could do. Her untutored, instinctive explorations of the Spirit Arcanum produced phenomena that Derek, inexperienced in such things, mistook for the signs of an impending First Change of an Uratha. Sam, of course, had no context for understanding what she'd become, and hesitated to tell Derek what had happened to her until she understood what actually had happened to her.
Sam eventually discovered the truth while she was visiting London on business, opening a new shop in her organic farming chain. A Guardian of the Veil sensed another of her untrained uses of the Spirit Arcanum, and approached her. Realizing she had no idea what she was, he introduced her to the local Consilium.
Sam made a number of "business trips" into London over the course of the next few months, learning the basics of what being a Mage entailed. When she was confident enough in her abilities that she was sure she could convince Derek that she wasn't just crazy, she confessed all.
She hadn't exactly been sure how he'd react, but collapsing in delighted and incredulous laughter hadn't been what she was expecting. Then again, she hadn't expected him to turn himself into a wolf, either. Her exasperated "You mean werewolves are real, too?" reduced Derek to complete incoherence for several minutes, once he was back in human form. She eventually had to punch him on the nose to calm him down.
Once they got over the initial shock, they had a long talk about the implications of their mutual revelations. From Derek's point of view, it was a huge relief that he could finally be honest with his wife about what he really was - and that he could be what he was around her without driving her insane through the Lunacy. But, he warned her, neither his kind nor hers would feel comfortable with their relationship. There was communication and even a measure of mutual co-operation between Mages and Uratha, yes, but precious little trust or understanding. Each of them would automatically be suspected of betraying secrets to the other - which meant that neither of them would be trusted with secrets by others of their own kind. They would, in a very subtle way, be outcasts.
They thought about it for a while, and decided that if the others of their kind wouldn't approve of their relationship, the others of their kind could basically go screw themselves.
Braced for hostility and suspicion, Sam was quite surprised when the previous Herald to the Uratha, an Acanthus Master, resigned his position and recommended to the Consilium's ruling Council that she replace him. No mere Apprentice had been a member of the Temple for more than two centuries. When she asked why, he just shrugged and said that since she was in communication with the Uratha anyway, it might as well be official. Having heard his reputation as a meddlesome old bastard with a manipulative streak a mile wide, she seriously doubts that that was all there was to it, but that's all the answer he's been willing to give her. Her suspicions only deepened when she discovered that Caspar Van Lutyens and Gareth Jones, the leading Uratha members of the Temple, had invited Derek to join its ranks.
As Derek predicted, Sam isn't completely trusted by most of her fellow mages. The Adamantine Arrow, however, saw potential in her. She's smart, passionate, dedicated, and fierce as a lioness when it comes to defending what she believes in. And her affinity for the Spirit Arcanum - unusually strong even for a Thyrsus - will make her a perfect defender against incursions from the Shadow, once she's had a little more training.
Although she's the weakest member of the Temple in terms of supernatural abilities and experience, she's no pushover. She helped build a highly successful chain of shops in a competitive and often cut-throat marketplace, ran a working farm during her husband's frequent absences in London, and still found the time to bring up three children. And she did it with style and flair. Van Lutyens, the most important Uratha of the Temple, is an unabashed fan. So is Wyncham, although Sam still feels a little uneasy around the walking dead. In the years to come, she seems set to become a formidable force in the Consilium and the city.
Her shadow name is taken from the Roman goddess of shepherds, an ironic acknowledgement of her own profession as a farmer and the wolf who lives amongst her flock.
A Claviger ("key holder") is a member of the Silver Ladder's middle management. One of the more visible Mages to hold the position, Aden is an exemplar of the Silver Ladder's Brave New World of leaders with a social conscience.
Growing up in one of the rougher parts of London's East End wasn't the best start in life, especially for a young man with an over-active social conscience. Luckily for Aden, he came from a close-knit family who believed strongly in education and self-improvement. While he contemporaries were drifting into gangs and petty crime, Aden was observing his curfew and doing his homework; if he hadn't, there would have been hell to pay.
His family wanted him to go into the law, but Aden had other ideas. He wanted to change the world, to fix all the crappy things that had gone on around him while he was growing up, so that other kids could enjoy their childhood without the restrictive protections that he'd had to endure. He thought about politics, but individual politicians seemed to him to be little more than cogs in the machine, without real power. So instead, he went into investigative journalism.
He was quite successful. So successful that a corrupt construction-company boss decided he had to be stopped before he exposed a lot of cosy "arrangements" with various local government executives.
What was supposed to be a carefully faked "random racist" attack went badly wrong when Aden, fleeing from his would-be killers, found himself scrambling higher and higher through the interior of a half-completed tower block that he couldn't remember ever having seen on that street before. The chase ended when he inscribed his name in the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet.
Aden fell in with the reformed Silver Ladder very soon after his Awakening. He agreed with their basic assumption - that to change the world, someone had to take a lead, as long as it was the right someone - and he was attracted to their new-found emphasis on the idea of social responsibility.
Aden is still an investigative journalist, but these days, he uses his magical edge to push his investigations further. One of his favourite tactics is to break into the homes of his targets, steal something incriminating, and leave it lying around on a train or bus where it can be "accidentally" discovered by a member of the public. Of course, it has to be a member of the public who'll do his public duty and take it to the newspapers, but Fate magic helps there.
In February 2008, the Silver Ladder finally persuaded the Consilium's ruling Council to approve additional Heralds to the Temple, and nominated Aden as their Order's representative.
His shadow name comes from one of the magical ravens who flew through the world each day, reporting what they saw to the Norse god Odin.
Image of Alain Deschain by Ulysses0302, flame brushes by Obsidian Dawn. Please do not use without permission
A surprise nomination to the Temple, Alain was given the seat which should have gone to the Free Council representative, thanks to a great deal of internal Consilium politicking
Alain grew up as a pretty normal kid from London...well...as much as a hulking gay kid can in London. He had supportive parents. Did well in school despite having something of a temper, which belied his own fears surrounding his gayness. So it wasn't a surprise when he joined the army the day he turned eighteen.
Once out of boot camp, he rose quickly through the ranks, eventually earning a transfer to the elite Special Forces due to his combat prowess, his leadership skills, and in general his penchant for ass kicking. So it wasn't long before he found himself shipped off to Iraq. He'd been stationed in several regions of the world, but when the war started...he was one of the first they sent.
He was particularly skilled in finding common ground with the local populace and his brigade became known for their peace making ability and their ability to handle themselves in a firefight.
One day his unit was on its way to Ramadi and their convoy was hit by several large IEDs. Jacob felt himself being thrown from the vehicle, his ears were ringing in a way he'd never heard before. He rose to his feet and found himself not standing in a room with a door behind him with a large #1 written on it. The ringing continued. The white room seemed to contain nothing but sound. Bone shattering sound. He felt his body vibrate, as he was once again thrown to the ground and he began crawling to the other side of the room. The pain continued to escalate until he couldn't contain the scream that was building up inside of him. He screamed...the loudest scream he's ever bellowed out. The pitch of his scream ossicilated and wavered until it matched the incessant ringing that was ripping him apart. The sound stopped suddenly and the room itself seemed to shatter. Alain found himself on a wind swept cliff...a single door stood alone behind him...a rope hung off the edge of the cliff. That's when he heard it...the screams for help. Looking over the edge of the cliff, he saw people...women...children...men...hanging there. He immediately rushed over to the rope and began pulling with all of his might. It seemed every few feet he pulled, the rope got heavier...and heavier and heavier. As if gravity itself was battling him and refusing to release it's prize. But yet he pulled...and pulled...sweat poured from his brow...his hands bled from the rope, but he never let go and never let up until the last person was pulled over that ledge. A loud gong sounded and suddenly reality seemed to shatter around him again.
This continued five more times...through five more rooms. A room where it was nothing, but the scorching heat of the desert. A room where he was pummelled over and over by some sort of invisible force until he was able to master it and deflect it. A room full of Tesla coils, that he had to navigate until he was able to learn how to ground the currents lashing out at him. A room that seemed to be him nothing but falling and falling...faster and faster and faster until he was able to will himself to stop. And lastly...the room of light. Blinding...scorching...the raw energy of creation...it burned him...until he stopped fighting it...it burned away his flesh, his spirit, his self...and he let it...and learned...
Until he awake...in one last room...it contained a simple billboard. It had the word VICTORY! in big letters written across it and beneath that, it said "Please Enter Your Name". Battered, bruised and beaten...Alain limped towards the blackboard and scribbed two words..."Uncle Al". And with an explosive crack of thunder...Alain awoke to find himself being tended on a bed in a military hospital...
As soon as he could walk...he turned in his resignation and began his new life as a Mage...
Alain's life changed drastically after he entered the mage orders. The Mages of London found him quickly thanks to his penchant for generating paradox as a Forces mage. He was quickly, once his credentials were known, folded into the Adamantine Arrow and made a name for himself as a protector of the orders and as a skilled combat mage. His fists became legendary in the order. However, he was also known for his penchant for showing surprising leadership in times or crisis and for having a strong rapport with the other supernatural classes.
His life took another major turn when in his 22nd year, he received a call from his estranged sister. His family had always had a history of "witches" and everyone knew about it...it just so happened that Alain was the first to manifest the trait in a while and his family knew he had. They also weren't too happy when they found out he was gay either...so it made their estrangement all the more "logical" to them. So he gets a call from her asking him if he'd take in his nephew Conall. It seemed that not only had Conall been outed by his parents, but it also seemed he was starting to manifest the Wyrd as well. So instead of putting him on the street, they thought he'd be better off with his weird Uncle. They were right.
Alain had always wanted to be a dad...it just came naturally to him. It's part of what he resented about being gay. However, Conall quickly became the son he might never have and over time they became inseperable. This became even closer when Conalls first change came. Alain had been expecting it and was prepared. He locked them both in the house, blocked all the entrances and exits and spent the night, binding and holding Conall down until the morning. When Conall came too, Alain was bloody, bruised, and wounded, but was smiling with pride nonetheless. For the last 10 years they've been together and the last 10 years, he's seen to it that Conall would be the best man and best wolf that he could be.
In his time dealing with the Temple and the various supernatural factions, he's had the fortune of making more friends and allies than enemies. Tom Wyncham and Alain met through Conall and became fast friends, if for no other reason gay supernaturals needed to stick together. Tom also showed Alain that many of his conceptions of vampirism were very misguided. He became incredibly close with Caspar Van Luytens. Other than Conall, Caspar is very likely his best friend. He doesn't always approve of Caspar's business, but it's also not his place too and he respects that Caspar has rules. Other than that disagreement, they're incredibly close and have had each others' backs through quite a bit.
So it was natural when the arrangement was made with Wyvern and Tom and Caspar that Alain would find himself drawn in as well. Not only was his son playing in the Wyvern's house band, but he was friends with the two men who created the situation. Seemed a match almost "destined".
However, Alain was shocked when he was called in an offered the position of a Herald to the Temple. A choice to ensure Mage affairs are not being thwarted by their alliance, while also being and being seen as someone who seeks harmony between the factions.
So, now...he's the drummer in the Wyvern's house band...he's created a home for the young supernaturals he frequently encounters, to make sure they are safe, healthy, and adjusted...and throughout London in almost any bar you go into, you'll find someone who knows about the infamous..."Uncle Al"...general Bad Ass with a Heart the Size of Gibraltar.
Image by Ulysses0302 Please do not use without permission
From homeless Romanian orphan, to prostitute, to ghoul and confidante of one of the most powerful Kindred elders in London, and now a Thrysus Mage, Nick Owen's twenty-five years have been far from uneventful
Originally from Romania, Nick was brought over to England as a teenager in the late 1990s, half-starved and suffering from the first stages of AIDS. One of the Mages who Wyncham persuaded to work part-time at Pan's cured him of that, leaving him HIV-negative. Nick was grateful for his reprieve, but also intensely puzzled about how he came to be cured of an "incurable" disease.
Over the next few years, he impressed Wyncham more and more with his unfailing good cheer, his keenly perceptive intellect, and his curiosity. He had a few other qualities in his favour, too - bluntly, he was psychologically well-suited to his "work" at Pan's, and he also displayed an uncanny knack with mechanical things, particulaly engines. Wyncham would certainly have been happy to employ him as a driver and auto mechanic if nothing else. But he underestimated just how clever and curious Nick really was - until the night that Nick openly admitted that he'd figured out what Wyncham really was, and asked to become a full part of Wyncham's secret world.
Wyncham was torn. Logic said he should have had someone erase Nick's memories and send the boy away. Instinct, though, said that Nick - who had somehow survived living on the streets, AIDS, and working as a teenage prostitute with his faith in human nature still more-or-less intact - had the kind of mindset and spiritual toughness that it would take to cope with vitae addiction as well. Another immortal servant besides Mother would be undeniably useful. What really decided it, though, was that Wyncham liked Nick, and snuffing out the lad's memories seemed like a tiny murder of a sort. After some fairly intensive discussions about the benefits and drawbacks, Nick accepted his first taste of the Blood on his twentieth birthday.
Since Nick was both a fanatical motorcycling enthusiast and gifted mechanic, Wyncham set him up as the owner of a motorcycle courier business, Volaticus ("winged"). The business gave Nick a way of making a decent amount of money while indulging his love of fast, powerful bikes. It also gave Nick a life of his own, which Wyncham felt was a necessary "balance" to maintain his psychological health. And it was useful if Wyncham needed to ship a discreet package somewhere, as well.
After he was captured and tortured by the renegade Mage, Matthew Wynter, Nick moved into quarters above the Wyvern, turning Volaticus over to Glen Lowell and Caitlin Quinn, although he still retains a hand in its management.
Nick was accidentally sucked into the alternate reality contacted by the Atlantean Device. He was briefly possessed by a remaining fragment of the spirit of the Device's creator, and the experience triggered his Awakening on the Thrysus Path
Nick had been perfectly happy as a ghoul, and before his Awakening, he would have preferred to stay that way - yet, having experienced reality through the heightened perspective of a Mage, he was, as he put it, like a butterfly, unable to fit back inside its cocoon after it had spread its wings. He was acutely aware though, that as a former ghoul and current loyal friend of Wyncham, he would never be trusted by the Consilium
He was right about that. The Consilium Council was frankly spooked by the idea that Wyncham, of all people, now had his own pet Mage, especially one with the fragmented memories of an Atlantean archmage somewhere in his skull. But short of killing him - unacceptable to them ethically even if Wyncham wouldn't have interpreted it as a declaration of war - there wasn't a lot they could do about it. Eventually, they decided to make the best of a bad job and make him a Temple Herald, where his intimate familiarity with the Kindred Polis might at least resound to the Consilium's own benefit.
Like his sometime mentor, Stella Grey, Nick was frankly rather dismissive of the idea of shadow names, but he didn't want to flaunt his outsider status by refusing to take one. He toyed with "Pan", but it seemed too obvious. Wyncham, as a joke, suggested "Sybarios" - "The Sybarite Pan", only to discover that Nick actually liked it.
Fortunately, the Temple Herald Alain Deschain was already a "friend of the family", and took Nick on as an apprentice despite Nick's fears about how that would look to the rest of the Mage Polis
In actuality, the Consilium Council were somewhat relieved. Someone had to take charge of Nick's training, if only to teach him how to control his powers. At least if his teacher were someone he liked and trusted, the Council reasoned, Nick might behave himself - if only to avoid making trouble for his mentor by association
Nick has a strange relationship with Alain. On the one hand, Alain is a powerful Mage and a veteran soldier - on the face of it, it seems absurd that he should need Nick to protect him. On the other, Nick is uncomfortably aware that Alain is one of the world's very few genuinely nice guys, and Nick is afraid that some of the things in his own past - or Tom's - might do a lot of damage to Alain's faith in human nature. As absurd as it might seem, Nick feels protective towards his teacher.