Isobel "Izzy" Blake

Image by Theo Evans. Please do not use without permission

Refugee from an alternate reality

I feel like a right . . . nana. In pyjamas. My skin feels all wrong. The cotton smooth against it. I fidget around the bedroom - bare boards beneath my bare feet. I've tried the bed - soft, warm, smells of flowers. Didn't lie down for long. Had to get up and poke around - drawers are mostly empty - a couple of coats in the wardrobe with sachets of some herbal stuff. Had a feel of the curtains - heavy, made of something like velvet.

I wish I had my clothes. Just my coat would do but I did manage to get my stuff out of the pockets. Amazing things my pockets. You would not believe what you can get in there. Nice big baggy coat is essential to a street thief. I sit on the edge of the bed and look at my gear. I've laid it out on the scarf - was silk, well I s'pect it still is underneath the grubby spots and the frays. It was my Mum's. Mine now. I don't s'pect she missed it. It doesn't smell of her anymore. Hasn't for years.

I survey my own small horde of personal items. Packet of fags; very nice gold lighter - always good to keep a few little money pieces back for hard times; set of decent lock picks; mobile; ipod - got a feeling they came as a matched set and I've been meaning to change them both. People keep trying to tell me that it's a waste of time nicking that stuff unless you plan to fork it over to a tech specialist fence. Funny thing is, both the phone and the ipod stay charged and work - as long as it's me using them. I guess that's the sort of thing that this Stella is talking about when she tells me I can do strange stuff. I s'pose she's right. I just always tried not to think about it too hard. If it ain't broke, it don't need fixing, innit

Bugger her though, she wouldn't let me keep the sandwich - half sandwich. Yeah okay, a little on the stale side but it's always a good idea to have something by. Just in case. Packet of Polos. Lucky penny. I picked it up yesterday - new minted, new portrait of the Queen. Very nice, Your Maj. Very dignified. Penknife. Credit card (expired 3 years ago but still handy for breaking and entering). Screwdriver. Pliers. Fuse wire. Aerosol can - silver paint. I've been meaning to add a bit more to my 'opus'. Lovely bit of abstract but it needs something. I thought maybe silver.

I stare it all again, making an inventory. It is my stuff. It hasn't turned into anything weird or unfamiliar. Unlike everything else.

I sigh and wrap my stuff in the scarf neatly and tie it - very Dick Whittington - then I put it under the pillow. I suppose that sooner or later I am going to have to lie down on the bed and sleep. Crawl under those nice clean covers that smell of flowers. Don't have to worry that I will make them all dirty because, course, I smell like flowers too. In fact I'm so clean I squeak. But I don't like it. Not true. I do like it and that's the problem. Can't afford to get used to it. Can't afford to get all soft and clean and warm and cozy. Not even in my dreams.

But still, I slide into the bed, one hand on my stuff under the pillow. I turn out the lamp by the bed and stare into the dark. I wonder if I will dream. A dream inside a dream would be pretty fucked up, wouldn't it Not that it isn't pretty fucked up already.

I think about my theory as I lie warm and feeling weirdly safe although I can't see how I can be. Not really. Y'see, I'm fairly sure that none of this is real. Not this room, this flat, this London. I don't think 'Stella' or 'Nick' are real either. I think I made it all up. I think maybe I lost it - seriously lost it - 'cos I ran out of Bish's meds. God knows where I really am right now. Not sure what the worst case is - out cold, twitching and dribbling in some alleyway or strapped to the wheely bed in some mental hospital. Anyway, so, the real Izzy is somewhere out there in the real London while I have become my own shadow twin - the girl with the strange talents who's lived inside me since I was small - even before the fire - and she/I am trying to find my way back out of my own crazy, mazy head. And all this - this is Shadow London, where she/I live. It's all in my head but because the real Izzy, my material self, the bit of me that is actually sane, mostly, has lost the ability to keep it all together, I'm stuck in here.

But see, I reckon, I am trying to help myself. There was the Tower and that was like a sign. And then there's this Stella and Nick. Maybe, I made them up to help me find my way back. I don't like either of them much - in fact they both freak me out, for different reasons. But I reckon one of them is supposed to be the 'psychic' part of me, trying to help me use the strange gift that I prefer to ignore when I'm myself. I reckon the other is the part of me that knows how to live on the Streets. The survivor.

So. That's my theory. I admit there are plenty of holes but in outline, I think I can use it to keep me on an even keel. And hard though it is, I reckon for the moment my best bet may be to try to listen to 'Stella' and 'Nick'. I think Bish would probably say that it is all an 'allegory'. I think I understand what that means, now. And it's a bit like Alice. She was trying to find her way home and 'Wonderland' was this crazy place she got stuck in. In her dreams. Except I don't think she was actually supposed to be mental like me. Whatever. It's kinda the same. For the moment, I'm stuck here. But I am a survivor. And if I stay sharp, I think I can find my way out.

"EyeSpy": Joe Giordano

Originally from New York, Joe Giordano moved with his parents to the Deep South when he was ten. Although he never encountered the worst excesses of stereotypical Southern prejudice, the social climate was enough of a shock after the cosmopolitan environment of New York to awaken in him the zeal of a social crusader

At college, he experienced an Awakening of a different sort. Unfortunately, his tendancy to leap before he looked almost got him killed by a hostile spirit, and it was only the intervention of the Uratha Ben Drake which saved him

Over the years, the pattern repeated itself. EyeSpy would find out things that were useful to Ben and the Uratha, get in over his head, and have to be bailed out by his Uratha ally

When Ben Drake was murdered by Matthew Wynter and Sicarius, EyeSpy fled to London, where he has since carved out a position for himself in freelance journalism. A Free Council Acanthus, he doesn't have many friends or allies in the Mage community yet, but he's working on it

"Rabbit": Samantha Johanson

Guardian of the Veil

Aliases: Samantha Borden, Sara Barker

Born: 1983

Merits: Eidetic Memory, Striking Looks

If she had lived in America, Samantha Johanson's family growing up would have been described as Trailer Park White Trash. Hannah Johanson became pregnant with Samantha and her twin brother Ethan when she was fifteen. Dropping out of school, she started collecting welfare while working odd and end jobs to supplement her income and support her partying lifestyle.For the first few years of their lives, Sam and Ethan were pretty much left to their own devices. Their mom had a string of boyfriends, would often leave them unattended, and despite repeated visits from child welfare their first few years of life was one of bare sustenance and emotional neglect.

When they began school, the twin's lives took dramatically different paths. An intelligent girl with an eidetic memory, Sam discovered she could get the attention and praise absent at home from teachers and educators if she did well in school. She easily aced all of her courses, and was soon spending more time at school than at home. She had few friends, devoting all of her free time to her studies not because she desired knowledge but because she was desperate for positive attention.

Samantha's future was bright, and her instructors felt that she was capable of anything she set her mind to, but her need for positive attention and love nearly destroyed everything when, at age fifteen, she became pregnant. Sexually active at a young age, Sam had begun seeking love from her male classmates when she was 12. Now, this need for any kind of affection was threatening to destroy the future she had been told was hers.

Whether a blessing or a curse, Sam miscarried. Although she remained sexually active, for the first time she began researching sex and sexuality, learning about birth control, STDs, pregnancy, and discovering just how lucky she had been. She also discovered a whole new level of human relations when she accidentally discovered several books that took a more philosophical and intellectual approach to the subject. She became fascinated with the power and meaning of sex, and how important it was for relationships.

Eventually, Sam started college. Her grades made acceptance to Cambridge a foregone conclusion, and through a combination of scholarships and part time jobs she was able to squeak by and afford her way. During her first year at school she discovered abnormal psychology and changed her major.

Manor Hill

While at Cambridge Samantha's confidence and sexuality began to truly develop as she experimented and discovered how easy it was for a pretty face to tempt men into doing the craziest things. She took great care of her appearance, and was a regular at the bars and parties, always going home with a different guy.There were serious relationships, but whether because of poor judgment or a self-destructive streak they always ended in betrayal, reinforcing insecurities from her childhood.Her 2nd year at Cambridge Sam happened upon a diamond in the rough: Manor Hill. She had found the advertisement for the room in an old newspaper on a table at a restaurant, and after one inspection immediately signed a lease.

Sam was truly happy at Manor Hill, and she met people who would become some of the best friends she would ever have. Perhaps if she had stopped to consider the circumstances of her discovery, how the newspaper had been almost left for her, turned to the classifieds with the Manor Hill add circled she might have been more suspicious.

Manor Hill was secretly a prison for a demon trapped in a pocket world for over a century, and when an unknown power attempted to free that demon, Sam and her friends were pulled into the creature's prison. Though she managed to escape alive and with her mind intact, the experience opened her eyes to a part of the world she had been blissfully ignorant of. And because she could now see the monsters in the shadows, those monsters could now see her.

Sam tried to continue with her life as best she could, continuing her work towards a doctorate in psychology, landing an internship with the Serious Organized Crime Agency, and reuniting with her brother after he returned home and to civilian life after two tours in Afghanistan. But her experiences with the demon had changed her, opening her mind and stirring her soul, beginning her down a path that would inevitably lead to her Awakening.

Awakening and Recruitment

Over a year after her imprisonment with the demon, Sam Awakened in a traumatic and public fashion after learning that a man she had begun dating had secretly taped their time together and was posting it on the internet. Her professional judgment and personal character coming under attack, she snapped and descended into a world that looked like Victorian London, with demons and werewolves, vampires and the monstrous Spring Heeled Jack.

None of it was real, but she traveled across the university accosting friends and strangers before finding her ex-boyfriend and nearly beating him to death with an aluminum baseball bat she claimed was Excalibur. She was caught at her advisor's office, collapsing after she had signed up for a meeting that afternoon.

It was between the moment Sam was handcuffed and her arrival at a mental institution for psychiatric evaluation that the Guardians of the Veil stepped in. Since her experiences with the Manor Hill demon, the Guardians had been keeping tabs on Sam. Discovering a Mage before he or she Awakens is rare enough, but her psychological training, job prospects with SOCA, and Eidetic Memory made Dr. Johanson a prime recruit, one they hoped to secure before the Arrow could poach her.

Sam's release was secured by Isobel Blake, and she was brought to the man who would become her teacher and mentor, Janis.

Agent Johanson Today

Samantha Johanson has adapted well to life with the Guardians. Her ongoing desire for approval has led her to push herself when presented with every challenge. Under the tutelage of Janis, she has developed her magical abilities, tradecraft skills, and honed her powers of observation and manipulation. Sam is still close to her friends from college, and obsesses over their safety. She adopted the Shadow Name Rabbit, a trickster from American culture, and uses it exclusively within the Consileum and in dealings with the other Polis. Like many Magistos, she is protective of her secrets, and will go to great lengths to protect her civilian life and the people she loves.

After successfully infiltrating the Sanctuary for a short period of time, Sam was assigned to infiltrate the Hunter group Wayland's Smithy and keep tabs on their work. So far her efforts have been successful, and the Smithy trusts her enough that they no longer consider the possibility that she might be a Mage and a spy for the Guardians. Her position within the organization has been kept secret from even the leadership of the Consileum, but her mentor Janis fears that Sam's desire for approval may drive her to take unnecessary risks that will cost her her life.

"Kårde": Damian Fleming

Obrimos Apprentice of the Silver Ladder and Bosworth Conspirator

Damian Fleming grew up in a rough area of Peckham, the child of a single mother. His story was fairly typical of the environment - he drifted into the petty crime, vandalism, drugs, and eventually, the gang culture.

His path in life was changed by three things. The first, when he was fifteen, was the arrival in the area of Father Michael O'Leary, a rugger-playing Catholic priest from the worst area of Dublin, a man with a lot of experience of disadvantaged youth and an effective line in tough love. The second, just after his sixteenth birthday, was his Awakening to the Obrimos Path during a church service. The third, just before he turned eighteen, was Father O'Leary's murder at the hands of some local pushers.

Fleming went after the killers to inflict some fairly draconian vigilante justice. Two of them were dead before the Consilium intervened. Due to extenuating circumstances - youth and extreme provocation - Fleming wasn't severely punished, although he was warned that he was on probation. Now twenty-six, he's a youth worker in the area where he grew up, trying to preserve Father O'Leary's legacy. He's considered by the relatively few Consilium Mages who know him to be a typical example of the new, socially responsible Silver Ladder generation.


Former member of the Guardians of the Veil

Living on the fringe of Mage society, the Magistos Nietzsche is an individual avoided by almost all of London's willworkers. Partly out of fear of angering the city's leadership, partly out of superstition that whatever caused the mage's downfall is contagious, he's been declared persona-non-grata. No move is to be made against him, no aid or comfort is to be offered.

Once a rising star within the Guardians of the Veil, Nietzsche was abruptly expelled from the organization and dumped in London. He is forbidden from leaving the British Isles. Since his arrival three years earlier, he's divided his time working partly as a paranormal investigator helping people in trouble, and raising hell for the Consilium as he tries to discover why his life was taken from him.

Despite the interdiction against him, Nietzsche has managed to make some friends and allies within the city, both within Mage society and amongst the other denizens of the world.