There has been commotion and turmoil in the arboretum for some time now. Late in the morning, one of the Children of the Tree came running into the offices of the First Archivist, in an abject panic because the tree of the mother had begun acting very strangely. Epiphanius had the messenger send word along to Baldur, and now Baldur, Epiphanius, and Yaroslav are all gathered in the arboretum itself, along with a small gallery of various other acolytes and scions, staring-- from a relatively safe distance --at the tree itself.
She is a giant thing, with a thick white trunk and a twisting wide canopy of branches. Under normal circumstances, the tree would be a confusion of bare branches, vibrant foliage, and hanging fruits. Now, however, the entirely of its canopy is green and lush, and bright white and yellow flowers have blossomed over the entirety of the tree. The two councilors and Epiphanius are in close discussion about the matter.
Epiphanius explains, "We have no record of such an occurrence in the archives, councilors. I have my apprentice double-checking the indexes, and we will of course perform a more thorough review of the materials to verify the indexes are accurate--"
"We have no doubt as to your thoroughness, Epiphanius," Yaroslav calmly explains, "and I am less concerned with the opinions of dead men than I am with your own in the present."
Baldur, by contrast, is simply staring up at the tree with an expression that would be serene if it weren't quite so serious. "It is a sign from the mother. It must be."
"Perhaps," Yaroslav allows.
Dandelion enters the arboretum, and stops the moment she sees the crowd. To her, that's almost a larger surprise than the tree--but after a moment, her gaze lifts, and she fumbles, nearly dropping the Starbucks cup she'd brought with her. "All abloom at once? How...awesome, in the original sense of the word."
Like many an Acanthus, Maddy has a knack for turning up places at the most opportune of times. Somehow, despite the fact that she spends so much of her time either wandering the world or hanging out at her diner, she also turns up for important events with uncanny skill.
That's probably how she ends up walking into the Arboretum while all of this is going on. Quick scanning of her gaze takes in who is present, and then she drits closer in a closing orbit that brings her nearer to her Auntie Dandy, rather than directly to the more pominent figures who she might not want to bother just now. "Huh," she says with wonder and curiosity as she gets to Dandy's side.
Harmony runs into the room with no sense of decorum or grace, her eyes wide. She's not out of breath or anything, damned Thyrsus Arrows, but she is taken aback, her sense of life around her almost overwhelming. she says nothing, simply staring at the flowering Tree in mute awe and hardly aware of the other mages around her.
Sirius had been making his way into the Arboretum with a spring in his step and a song in his heart, humming quietly to himself as he went. Both the man and the music stopped at the sight of the tree, however, eyebrows climbing sky high. "...well then."
There's something relieving in knowing that one can approach a curiosity with little more than interest without worry of suddenly being on point as an expert. At least, it's relieving to Liezel, who is arriving at the moment. There's little noteworthy to the Thaumaturge on sight- her curls are back in a tail, she's wearing the same familiar denim, buttoned shirt, brown leather vest, and carrying the same familiar satchel she always does while her eyes crawl the tree and wonder.
"Yes," she affirms. "Awesome- and signifying... what?" She doesn't expect an answer. She's simply stating she knows there's a question.
River was leaning back on her heels alongside Dandelion. Dressed in a preponderance of blacks and greys and blues, she raked a nimble-fingered hand through a mane of dirty blonde and furrowed her brow, inhaling a long, inaudible breath and then letting it back out much the same way. "I don't think that was supposed to happen," she murmured softly, more to herself than anyone else, though Dandelion was well within earshot.
Dandelion reaches out to lightly wrap an arm (the one not holding hot coffee) around Maddy's shoulder, before she looks at River. "With something like this, there's nothing that's accidental. What's happened is inevitably what is supposed to have happened. Well, unless someone messes with Time or Fate, that makes the word 'inevitable' rather meaningless. But. It might not have happened before, so it happening now has a reason, I'm sure."
"Talon Dandelion," Yaroslav greets the older woman formally, "perhaps you can explain to we wise what is plainly before our faces. Our sight clouds the obvious, on occasion. Come closer, please, and tell us what you see and feel." Yaroslav looks back up to the tree, waiting for the input of the sleepwalker on its effects on the unawakened.
With the crowd gather, Epiphanius breaks away from the councilors with his hands raised, "My friends, please. If you carry active effects or naked nimbus, please stay back. Harmony, would you be so kind as to screen these individuals for any potential vectors of resonance contamination? I know everyone is very interested, but we must adhere strictly to the protocols."
Baldur glances back themself and eyes Maddy for a brief moment before motioning her forward, "Sister. Come." They aside to Epiphanius, "She is clean."
Maddy leans into the arm around her shoulders and puts her arms around the older woman. Then Dandelion gets called on to speak, and she lets go of the hug and smiles encouragingly without actually saying anything in response to the Sleepwalker's words.
Then it's her being called forward and she answers the call, moving with an excited spring in her step. "It looks like I was right when I woke up today and thought it was going to be an interesting day," she chimes as she looks up at the tree with reverence.
Liezel looks sidelong at Dandy as she's called on, smiling faintly and moving to set her satchel aside. Those with the sight to see it can tell why- best not to bring an active spell near such a curious thing. Even now, though, she stands back, waiting for leave from Harmony to come closer.
"You got it." Sirius nodded to Epiphanius, hanging back for the time being but looking the tree over curiously nonetheless.
She lightly disentangles from Maddy, passing her coffee off to River, before moving forward toward Yaroslav. While she has no active effects that would leave resonance, she's a Medium in her own right, and listening very closely for anything that might be on her 'frequency' as she moves closer to the tree. Her gaze lifts to the flowers, and she raises her hands above her head, as if in supplication.
"I will let you know what I see, Councilor Yaroslav. And what I hear, and what I feel."
"I didn't do it," River quietly and immediately at the invocation of 'Time or Fate', lingering just closely enough as was allowed without having to abide the Nimbus mandate, peering closer with colorless eyes, irises gunmetal grey. She captured Dandy's coffee in her hand and absentmindedly took a sniff of it, and then a small sip while she watched after everyone's favorite firecracker aunt. "Ohh, mocha," she chirped in a low voice, eyes still rapt on the scene as it unraveled.
It takes Harmony a second to realize she's been addressed and she blinks, flushing slightly. "Ah, yes, sorry. Of course." A quick nod and then she lets her tangle of spells fall away like a discarded cloak. For a moment she blinks, her senses dulled and her sense of smell reduced to normal human levels. But she's an Arrow and falls back on her training. Patting Sirius on the shoulder she turns from her cadre mate to face the mages assembled before her, letting the Sight come forth as she studies them. "I know how it feels!" She tells everyone she's facing. "It's like the sun and it's beautiful. But it's also fragile. Please, one at a time and once you're okay, you should be able to get nearer." And so she starts studying the various mages, fighting a sense of nerves.
@Solstice (they/them) rolled 11 dice and got 3 successes. 7 8 2 3 5 5 8 6 7 9 5
Sirius blinked briefly as Harmony's weaving faded, shaking his head briefly as thought to clear it before turning his attention back to the tree. With the unveiled magics out of the way he moved a bit closer, leaving space for the others to do their thing.
Liezel waits near Harmony to be confirmed as clean to approach. Once- if- that occurs (which it should, with nothing but Mage Sight active), she approaches, examining what she can see, searching its energies, any ghosts or souls lingering round, everything her magical senses can provide.
"I feel something here that is of-death. Not Death itself, but there is something of-death that is here. It's not so much a matter of the Astral, and doesn't seem to be spiritual." She glances back at Yaroslav. "Some aspect of death, some shard of Death, perhaps. It's hard to pinpoint--Liezel, you might be able to get it more than I can, if you try. But there's something else here."
Her hands move to rest above her heart. "The Tree has always been balanced between despair and loss...and hope and rebirth. But the latter resonance feels stronger right now. Maybe the cycle is turning a corner. Maybe this is a metaphorical Spring Equinox."
Moira is late. She's always late it feels like, even though she specifically learned Time magic to avoid being late. She'd think it was a curse, but it's always been a problem for her, so unless she was cursed as a baby...
That thought (and all the others constantly babbling through her head) is cut short as she sees the tree. "Oh wow," she says, "Oh wow, I so need to record this!" She pulls out her tablet and starts typing in notes.
True to his word, as individual mages are cleared to approach, he ushers them forward with apologetic smiles. His job is, in part, to care for the tree. So his caution is not without its cause. "If you find yourself frustrated in your initial attempts to scrutinize the tree, I beg of you, please desist in your attempts. It is possible to occlude the Mysteries if you persist."
Baldur folds up their arms and takes up a spot beside Maddy in solidarity, watching the tree with the same reverence. Their smile is broad and pleased. They can say they were here 'when'.
Yaroslav, apparently the more brutally pragmatic of the bunch, also begins to scrutinize the tree her own self. "You see?" Yaroslav asides to Epiphanius, "right in front of our faces." She gives Dandelion an approving nod and returns to her scrutiny. "Thank you, Talon. For reminding us the world is not to be found staring at our navels." The barb in those words is self-aimed.
Seeing Moira, Harmony moves closer, studying the new arrival with a nod. "If you drop any active spells on yourself, and keep your nimbus cloaked, I can let you closer. More eyes on this might help with more answers."
"Ah, sweet" Moira says, flashing Harmony a bright smile. "Do you think I can take some pictures too? Or video? Video would be super helpful."
She sketches a bow at Yaroslav, before moving to Liezel's side, keeping her supernatural senses 'open' as possible. "I know you're not as comfortable with Death as Matter, but I think you're one of the best in the room for this. Either way, I'll be proud of you for trying."
She nods at Moira, offering a wide smile. "Best ask Curator Epiphanius that, but you're okay to get closer. Me, I'm gonna see just how this Tree is channeling Life." And with that she turns to move closer herself, letting Fate and Spirit Sight slip away and focusing on her Adept grasp of magic.
With nothing active, and finally relenting to not make anything active, River lingered near Harmony until she was cleared to approach, and meandered in a slow, languorous, semi-circling arc, drawing an invisible, partial perimeter around the tree, invoking Time in her scrutiny.
Liezel glances to Dandy as she approaches, lips pressed faintly together at the invitation, and sighing quietly. Fate, or at least Irony, seems to read beyond the fourth wall, apparently. She looks up at the tree while Dandy speaks, and nods faintly to her before turning her attentions to the tree in full.
Moira nods and edges over to where Epiphanius is standing, and says "Excuse me," in a stage whisper. "Would it be okay if I take video?" She holds out her smartphone as if to explain how she means to take said video. "I'm not going to post it anywhere or anything, it'd just be for my own research."
Epiphanius is a bit distracted, being pulled in so many directions, but he does focus on Moira when she approaches him with a question. "Ah. That's. Yes. If you agree not to share the video where it might endanger the Precept of Secrecy, by all means. And so long as you provide copies to the Archive of the Tree and to our friends among the Children." He gestures aside to Baldur and Madeline in indication. "Your diligence speaks well of you, maga."
While Dandelion can't care-bear stare the Mystery into submission, she can remain at Liezel's side, lightly patting her back.
Dandy's presence is notably appreciated. For all that she's good at what she does, being put on the spot visibly stresses Liezel out, and the soothing attention does a world of good for the Thaumaturge while she does her best to help uncover the truths behind this mystery.
The combined efforts of a fair portion of the consilium's luminaries focus their efforts on the tree and its present mystery. Long time students of the tree are familiar with the subject already:
The tree is a working of imperial mastery, an impossible composition of Life magic, Prime energies, Spirt and Death ties, and of course its composite Matter, its confluence of raw disjointed Time, and heavily laden with Fate besides. No rote could have ever fashioned it. The practices involved are beyond the ken of anyone in the room, and it is old. Centuries old at this point.
It pulses with raw life energy, vibrantly and stubbornly alive. Hyper alive. It's the alive you feel after narrowly escaping a car crash. It's the alive you feel when the bullet whings off your helmet while the man beside you in the trench catches one in the face. It's the alive you feel when you stand on a field of battle littered with the defeated and the dead. There but for the grace of God.
The heavy potential of Fate draps on its every branch, drips from every blossom like unseen nectar. Motes of it flit from flower to flower like eager bees, nursing potential into probability. These flowers may bear fruit!
Before the arcana of death, all is stasis and suspension, the guillotine blade arrested an inch from the neck. There is a subtle whiff of the soul about it all, an ineffable sense not that the tree has one, but that the tree seeks them. That it works in this manner through unknowable means of Imperial arts. Reaching, reaching...
Its material composition is solid, impossible solid in fact. Perfected wood, perfected life. It is not simply a tree, it is the tree. It is the very best possible version of itself one will find this side of the realms Supernal.
Through the lens of time, it's like staring at ten million moments at once. So many things has it seen and been, so many losses has it witnessed, so many gains. You could stare at the tree for days trying to finesse out one concrete moment to consider. But clearly, this entity is both present, past, and future.
Space reveals a shift of interconnections, for it is here but it is also not here. It exists, too, in other realms. (This is well known.) Its sympathies are routinely severed by those who tend the tree, to keep it as pure and untainted by the world as its tenders may. But apart from the nascent lines of sympathy to those now toying with it, there appear to be two strong connections, and a third one slowly growing in intensity. Though to none here.
Before the mind arcana, all is serenity and calm. If it has consciousness, it sleeps. There is no Id, no Ego, there is only the now which is always and the always and eternal now.
"I love this tree," Moira exclaims as she finishes recording. "So complicated! And yet, there's got to be a pattern to it all"
Truth be told Sirius hadn't spent much time since his arrival in Philadelphia studying the Tree in depth, so this was his first proper deep dive into what the thing was made of as far as the lens of Pandemonium was concerned. It left the Warlock with an oddly calm look on his face, one corner of his mouth turning up in a small smirk. "Now that is something..."
Harmony is resting on her knees now, tears streaking down her face. She hugs herself, taking deep breaths to collect her sense of calm again and carefully wiping her cheeks before she slowly stands. "Life." She states to those around her. "Life when Death's been narrowly dodged, when you exult in it more then you ever have, because in that moment you realize just how truly precious and fragile it is."
Dandelion tries very hard not to look like she feels left out, content to observe in her own way and offer support. But as people talk, she huffs quietly. "Alright, remember we're not all perceiving equally. So please explain for the rest of us what each of you saw."
At last, Liezel relaxes a little, speaking quietly. "It's Perfect." Those familiar with Liezel know she doesn't use that term except in the Supernal sense. "The entire tree is Perfect, its song is just... utterly flawless. Every fiber aligned, every capillary in synch, every leaf playing its part in the symphony." She pauses while Harmony speaks, nodding slowly. "That makes sense. The song has a sense of a Threnody, a funerary tune... deferred. Every note sounds like it could roll into a dirge with the next, but it never does. There's no- souls to the song, but the song invites th- no. It doesn't invite them, it reaches for them. I'm... not sure to what purpose."
Maddy is here studying the tree on the regular, so a lot of this is probably not news to her, but it's still not the sort of thing you get used to. The constant wonder of it is reason enough that she joined the Children of the Tree, and the mystery of it consume a considerable portion of her thoughts.
By the time she's done studying it, she's seated on the ground, her legs having decided they didn't want to support her any more, and though she's not weeping openly, there are tears in her eyes. "It has new sympathetic ties," she says breathlessly, still overawed by what she's looking at. "Ones that lead to people or places or things not present here, off in the distance. Three of them, two strong and one growing stronger. That's the only thing I think is truly new, to my gaze."
River wrinkled her nose, more in the affectation of concentration than concentration itself, and double-backed along her lazy, semi-circular perimeter towards where Dandelion stood. "It's always. Then and now, with a living memory that stretches in all directions." She paused. "It has bearing of portent, and yet, supremely serene." She spared pontificating with editorializations, offering instead, merely her observations, still measuring what she had said, and what she was now hearing, as well.
"Pure serenity." He replied to Dandelion, nodding in agreement with River. "No ego or id, just the perfect calm of the eternal now. But to have that kind of clarity..."
The mention of sympathetic connections catches his ear, though, looking towards Maddy. "Really...you able to get a read on what they might be connecting to?"
She dusts herself off, moving over to Liezel. "It's searching for souls? Any souls, or.." A glance at Maddy. "Ones it has ties to maybe, if that's what you picked up on ties?"
Moira has her tablet out again and is typing furiously, trying to get down everything everyone's saying. It's overwhelming, sure, but she's got to get everything, every last scrap of information down or surely she's going to forget something super important. The talk of ties draws her interest.
"Can we trace the ties? Find out what's got the tree's... interest? Can you tell if they're good ties or bad ones?"
Having received word that something is going on with the Tree, Kotahitanga enters the arboretum, approaching Maddy, crouching beside her. "You okay?"
Maddy holds up her hand, asking for a moment to think. A second or two passes and she says, "I can try to copy the sympathies, which should let me scry on the other side to see what they are. That might be the best place to start."
"Good call. Can give you a hand with that if you need it."
"So the tree reaches for souls, and it has new Sympathetic ties." She tilts her head to one side, then lifts a hand to her lips. "This...has implications. Perhaps it somehow...reaches out, to people who catch its attention somehow. But why? Who who isn't here scrutinizing it?"
Harmony nods. "If it's tied to Fate sympathy, I should be able to help as well." She pats Maddy on the shoulder, giving Kotahitanga a smile of greeting.
Moira's tablet receives a pop-up alert. 'WARNING: PPD is responding to a riot in the vicinity of Independence Mall. 6th and 5th streets are closed between Walnut and Arch. Use alternate routes.'
"Uh, guys?" Moira says, looking up and around. "This might not be related, but apparently there's a riot down by Independence Mall? You don't suppose it might be related to..." She waves her hand in the direction of the tree.
"Possibly. Do you have video?"
Dandelion turns to face the NPC sorts in the room, an uncertain look on her face. "I know resonance is pruned from the tree regularly. Is it checked, before it's pruned, to make sure we know who its ties are to, always? Has it ever had ties that were unfamiliar, before?"
@Morgan (she/her) rolled 13 dice and got 3 successes. 3 7 8 10(5) 1 2 5 4 7 10(4) 5 2 6
Maddy stands up and offers Kotahitanga a brief hug, belatedly, before she approaches the tree to lay a hand on it and starts quietly speaking in High Speech, working her will as she does. Her other hand clasps the pendant she's wearing.
A few seconds later she says, "I have the ties, so I should be able to open a scrying window." She starts making her way back to the group from the tree. "I'll make sure it's only visible on this side, of course, since we have no idea what we'll be looking in on"
Epiphanius rushes over to Maddy's side as she begins to work the sympathies. His own hands begin to move through mudras, searing Maddy's nimbus from the tree the moment it begins to manifest. He recognizes the necessity of what she is doing, clearly. No rebuke is offered. But the tree is left unaltered, more or less, once he's finished his duties. He offers a nod aside to the Scion, then resumes his own staring at the tree.
Baldur finally straightens up and looks aside to Maddy, "Form a delegation of the Emissariate. Follow those threads, sister, and make the mother proud. I will inform Balm of these matters and we will congress when you all return."
Yaroslav likewise turns to the members of the Diamond, "Epiphanius is lead in this matter. Even so, I would like for you to assist Emissary Amity. Unless you have a means of following sympathetic connections, you will defer to her and to the delegation. Am I understood?"
Liezel immediately stands at attention, a reflexive shift in posture, and she nods sharply towards Yaroslav. "Yes, sir. Understood, sir."
"Maybe. Stranger things..." Sirius nodded to Moira, the gears turing almost visibly in his mind. "Yes, sir." He replied to Yaroslav, offering a quick salute in kind.
Dandelion frowns, as her question goes ignored, but she nods at Yaroslav's orders, reclaiming her coffee from River and hunching herself around it.
"Oh yea, sure" Moira says, almost off handedly. Her attention is focused for the moment on her notes.
Harmony nods sharply, looking to Yaroslav. "Yes sir. I'll follow."
Kotahitanga nods at Baldur's words, turning to her sister Scion. "What's our next step?"
With her orders offered, Yaroslav nods to those affirming their understanding. Then she turns to Dandelion. Perhaps having become aware of the frown. "You ask an excellent and incisive question, Talon. I personally do not recognize the sympathies, and I believe Epiphanius lacks the means of culling them from the tree. The Archives, however, contain trace signatures that we might be able to examine for potential ties. However, if I do not recall the sympathy, it seems unlikely it is any mage Recognized by the Martyr's Tree or the Lesser Convocation of the Northeast."
She looks back to the tree, her mind always envisioning the worst, "The Panopticon, perhaps? They do so enjoy coming for this creation."
"Understood," Maddy says with a beaming smile. "We'll see it handled."
She steps forward and says, "okay, here's my current plan. I'm going to use a scrying window to see if I can figure out where these stronger ties lead, first, and then the weaker. Once we have an idea of what's at each location, we'll assess the urgency of our approach. It's hard to say what we'll need to do to respond, not knowing what we're respond to, our where."
She looks around at the assembled mages. "If someone has another thought, speak it now, but I'm going to move on quickly otherwise."
"If the Tree reaches for souls, Councilor, I can't help but wonder if there is a quality within them that would draw its attention. I wonder if, in the endeavor to maintain the purity of the Mystery, an important aspect of it has gone ignored--erased." She shrugs, then slots herself in beside Liezel.
Harmony simply shakes her head at asking if she has thoughts. She simply stands, ready and waiting for the incoming information as she moves over to stand next to Sirius.
"Not to interrupt, but I do have some video of what's going on" Moira says, holding her tablet out towards Maddy. "That might help?"
"Sounds good to me." He nodded to Maddy, once again perking up a bit at Dandilion's mention of a certain 'quality'. He let that thought roll around in his head as he looked to Harmony, giving his cadremate a "you good?" look and a small smile.
"Overwhelmed, a little." She tells Sirius softly. "In a good way." She glances at Dandelion, listening quietly.
Liezel looks to Yaroslav while she answers, and then to Maddy. She's about to answer in the negative, then glances towards Dandelion as she speaks, pondering a moment. "I- hm. Once we know to whom the Sympathies reach, I can look for significant markers in their spirits. That aspect was linked to, but not, Death itself, so - if it's the sort of things Death magic can read, we'd be talking lingering mental or emotional states- unlikely, considering there's only three connections- supernatural creatures- again, unlikely, considering the number of them around the city- if they've portioned their spirit into a soul stone or had it tampered with, possession, advanced Legacy attainments, Awakening, soul consumption or Paradox affliction. I'd need to see the subjects to suss out which specifically we're dealing with- presuming that it's even one of those."
Kotahitanga considers for a moment. "Has anyone followed it manifesting unknown Sympathies before? That might help narrow down the range of possibilities."
"I invited interruption," Maddy points out with a smile as she her bouncing strides take her to the displayed tablet. After a brief study of the video she says, "I have a feeling there's no coincidence here, but let's see, shall we?" After which she steps back to touch her pendant and begin reciting once more in High Speech, before opening a scrying window to the first of the three connections that she picked up for herself.
"An appalling hypothesis, Talon," Yaroslav remarks to the sleepwalker quietly. "I rather like it."
Epiphanius speaks up then, "The Archivists log the day's event with the tree. Including the periodic culling of sympathies. If we look back through the history of the Tree, we should be able to see if that sort of thing has occurred before. Culling of sudden unexplained sympathies. I shudder to consider the implications, but this seems an important consideration to rule out. And probably more fruitful than searching for flowerings in specific."
Baldur glances aside at Maddy at her suggestion and merely nods their head in approval. Focus back on the tree, thereafter.
Maddy's magic opens a scrying window in the shimmering air of the room. Epiphanius erects a prime barrier around the the window himself, his hands once more gesturing through the familiar mudras of his Order. Once it's in place, he nods to Maddy and simply concentrates on maintaining it in place.
The window reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, the southern end of Independence Mall, near the Independence Hall itself. A line of riot police are tearing into a crowd of protesters, though the cause of the riot itself remains unknowable from a glance at it underway, the police seem to be taking a very brutal approach with the crowd. Numerous civilians are down, some not moving, some being tended by EMS, others not. It's total chaos.
The vision seems to be centered in on the kung fu chops of a single, clearly well trained chinese woman, laying into the police surrounding her with full throated abandon. They encircle her, and each one takes a blow for daring to do so. Riot armor, however, is tough stuff, and in a moment she's down and being cuffed.
Dandelion pulls out her phone and begins scrolling through her contacts.
"Does anyone recognise her?" Kotahitanga asks, glancing around the assembled mages. "If she's being arrested, which seems likely, we might need to make a visit to the police station. Or the hospital. Hopefully the former."
Liezel watches, considering carefully. "I don't recognize her, no. I could- hm. Master Epiphanius, I could read her spirit, if you think it safe to do so this close to the tree." It might not be particularly safe. Liezel's Nimbus is... potent.
"I don't know her. I might know a lawyer or two who would be interested in taking her case, though. For what good that does us with the Mystery of the Tree. But she might appreciate it." (OOC note: if you're a PC lawyer not in this scene who wants an excuse to get involved, PM me, I have Allies (Legal) that could represent you, here!)
Moira winces as she watches the scene. "If they take her to the hospital, it'll probably be the closest one, so we might just be able to go there rather than have to magic up an answer. Same if they take her to a police station." She looks around. "There's enough of us here we could split up if we need to"
EMTs drag the unconscious body of the woman back from the line, which necessarily draws the perspective of the scrying away from the front line, for the most part. There's a blast from what sounds like a shotgun, and a tall man in a black t-shirt and a rainbow yarmulke catches the blast full in the face. It doesn't look to have been a live round, though. His head is still there, but he goes down hard and bleeding. He is pulled over to the same triage area, where they're collecting the victims. A muslim man in a white kaftan, some kid dressed up like he might be Antifa, too. His eyes are open, but he doesn't appear to be seeing anything. It's bad down there.
Epiphanius is concentrating on maintaining a shield around the effect Maddy's undertaking. So his response is very distracted, "...Cause... a paradox... and I will... be very... angry."
"I don't know that woman either," Maddy says, watching the action through her portal. She glances over at Epiphanius and nods in gratitude for the Prime barrier, and though she leaves the current scrying window open, this time she asks in advance, "are you okay with me opening a second and third portal the same way for the other connections, or should we move away from the tree before doing that? It's easy enough for us to relocate to a safer distance to continue."
Then she looks at the others. "Anyone who wants to go on-site to investigate what's going on here, move to the right side of me, please? If you're going to try to work with events from here, or want to join me in studying things from afar, please move to the left."
She moves to Maddy's right. "I will use my old-white-lady privilege like a sword, if need be."
River inconspicuously huddled a bit closer into easy view, peering at the images of the full-tilt violence as it unfolded in grisly fashion. At Maddy's suggestion, she languorously prowled over to the right, movements and affectations like an alley cat. She winked sidelong to Dandelion, and offered her a fist-bump.
Having already been to Maddy's right, Kotahitanga doesn't move, instead nodding to Dandelion and River.
Sirius frowned as the violence unfolded though the window's gaze, shaking his head quietly. At Maddy's call for orders he stepped to the left, curious to see how the other two connections unfolded at the very least.
"I don't believe I would, Master, but to be safe, I can wait until we've moved away from the tree." Liezel moves to the right. "I'd like a chance to check the subjects before we go. Forwarned is forearmed." She glances at the others gathering to go on-site. "If the police are as... energetic as suggested, I'll want to be present. I don't want to see anyone get hurt that doesn't deserve it."
"Well, I'm always up for an adventure" Moira says, shoving her tablet back in her bag. "Especially adventures to answer mysteries." She practically skips over to Maddy's right
She looks at the scrying window again, and her eyes go wide. "The tall man, the one with the skullcap? That's...that was...Aaron Cohen. He's a rabbi, works with Interfaith Affairs at City Hall. He's got a lot of respect behind his name; what is happening?"
Yaroslav gestures towards the doors that lead to the consilium meeting hall. "It is warded to ensure duels and the like do not interfere with the Tree. Please. Use our hall and do what you feel is prudent. You all have demonstrated considerable aptitude and wisdom throughout. Epiphanius, remain with the tree. I will go with those heading into the hall. Baldur?" Baldur glances aside at Yaroslav, "Sister Amity." And so Yaroslav looks to Amity, instead. "Be safe, emissary. All of you." Yaroslav gathers her wrap dress in hand and begins to glide in the direction of the consilium hall itself.
"The pigs thinking they can get away with anything, as usual." Kotahitanga mutters in response to Dandelion. Glancing at Maddy and then those assembled, she raises her voice to a more normal speaking volume. "Anyone else want to go on-site?"
"Okay, good." Amity smiles at Kotahitanga. "I know you have my phone number, and I have yours. I can use you to relay information from here if the status of things changes, or keep you informed of where any of our subjects ends up if they relocate."
Yaroslav receives a nod. "We'll relocate to there, Councilor. Thank you for the suggestion," she says, and she lets the scrying window she was maintaining drop. "Lovelace, can you pull up a google street view of an alley or something, a place where you think we might be able to drop a portal so that people can get there more quickly, without being seen?" she says as she's heading into the meeting hall. "I'll open a portal to that spot if you can, for others to arrive more quickly, and then bring up the three scrying windows to watch our subjects." She smiles at Dandy. "Please do what you can to keep people safe, Auntie."
"Those of you who are staying here, let me know if you want to receive copies of these sympathies for your own magic. I'll be happy to provide them temporarily up to my personal limitations, as long as I'm not going to be creating paradox."
"I'll take a set, yeah. Many hands make light work and all." Sirius nodded to Amity, then looked to the others. "Careful out there."
Liezel follows, after a firm, grateful nod to Yaroslav for the praise, and to Baldur and Epiphanius as well. "Amity, if I may, I'd like a chance to use your scrying window to read the subjects before we go. If there is something like possession or Paradox infection, it's something we'll want to know beforehand so that we bring the right people on site." She blinks in surprise at Dandelion's expression of shock. "A rabbi? Wasn't he fighting? I thought rabbis were peaceful."
"Yea, give me a sec" Moria pulls her tablet out, and messes around in Google Street View for a few seconds, trying to find a good spot where they weren't likely to be seen appearing, but also weren't going to raise questions coming out of either. Then she expands the image and hands it over to Maddy. "This should work"
"I will, Maddy." She smiles at the Child. "You've done excellent work here. I'm proud of you."
"Rabbis generally are--and Aaron, especially, from all I'd heard." She crosses an arm over her chest, and sips at her now-cold mocha. "Liezel, are you going to be alright for this? We're not going for the fight, right now. We need to stay as uninvolved in that matter as possible, and stick to the topic at hand."
"Of course, Sister," Kotahitanga replies, nodding to Amity as she follows the other Scion. "Feel free to send over any Siblings you think might be best suited to aiding us on-site, as well."
"Yes, Ma'am," responds Liezel. "I'm good for it. I'm not volunteering for a fight, I'm just making sure there's someone can handle one if it Happens. I'll be delighted if there's nothing for me to do. If there's trouble, won't be me starts it- but Authority has a habit of making trouble."
Maddy answers Dandy's praise with a bright, beaming smile and then answers Liezel. "Of course, whatever you think is Wise here you can use the scrying portal for." And then she falls into the role of being command and control, while letting everyone else do the cool action.
After Yaroslav disappears into the council chambers, another woman steps back out of it. She's got classical movie star good looks, the sort of face one just wants to stare at for all of its pleasing symmetry. She wears her hair back in a smart, clean pony tail and is dressed in a finely tailored black suit, white shirt, and black tie. She produces a sidearm from inside of her jacket, checks its chamber and its magazine, then returns it to its holster and proceeds to loiter amongst those intending to head for the tree. Not keen on introductions, it seems, this one.
"One three one two, and so forth," Kotahitanga adds, seconding Liezel's words. Gardener gets a nod, though she doesn't say anything to the Guardian, just waiting for the portal to be opened so she can step through.
Liezel takes a moment to weave a spell, her nimbus rising in voices On High chanting along as she does in High Speech, each word she says underscored by distant thunder- or gunfire, it's hard to discern. After the first, she pauses, surprised, rolling right into the second with a sense of puzzled urgency, completing both spells in a matter of twenty seconds or so.
"... they're Awakened," she murmurs, surprised. "Both of them. Aaron isn't one of us- or... wasn't. Before today. Was he, Ma'am?" This, to Dandelion. "There's - another mark on their spirits. It's the same for both, but I've not the slightest what it is. Aside from that, they're fine, spiritually- no soul stones, no high-end molding from attainments, no paradox afflictions..."
River reached for Dandelion weakly, like she needed support standing up, while nonchalantly pretending not to watch after Gardener. "Which direction is she going in?" she mumbled, uselessly, to nobody but herself.
"That hurts," Gardener asides to Kotahitanga, though more in jest than in truth. She is, after all, a mage cop in an order of mage cops assigned to do mage cop duties around other mages. "My councilor asked me to ensure your safety." And probably the veil. "I am here to observe." You all not break the veil.
"I wasn't aware of him being so." And she looks over her shoulder at the Tree for a moment. "I can't help but wonder if that other mark is from our floriferous friend over there."
"Maybe something relating to them Awakening together?" Kotahitanga muses, rolling her eyes at Gardener. "We know the rules, don't worry."
"But why would the tree care?" Moira asks, to no one in particular. Then she glances back over her shoulder at the tree and smiles. "No offense, leafy friend. But it doesn't do this for every new mage, does it?"
Oh, that tidbit caught Sirius' attention, looking towards Liezel most ricky tick. "Well then...this just got even more interesting."
Moira gets an arch look. "Would we know if it did, if the resonances are scrubbed and never examined?"
Epiphanius is the sort to entertain hypotheses without taking their implications personally. Mysterium are like that. He rubs his chin for a few moments and ticks his eyebrow somewhat. "Typically we only scrub it of resonances from outside influence. To remove occlusion from scrutiny, for example, or the resonance of a nimbus flare. We have noticed a steady trend over the centuries, towards this... newer resonance of hope and rebirth. Even the Emissariate seems to believe this is evidence our methodology is proving successful. Perhaps you might raise your concern with your Elder, Dandelion. I am obligated to adhere to the protocols until they are altered."
"So what is our goal?" Liezel asks. "I am presuming to ensure that we do not end up with newly Awakened mages in prison. Do we have avenues to make that happen legally?"
"Dandelion knows people," Kotahitanga points out. "Letting them continue their lives, just as Awakened, is a good goal, though."
The council chambers, where the scrying is going to be taking place, is an expansive auditorium with a raised dais at one end, set with six large chairs and a single heavy wooden table. Seating is set, and three aisles stretch from one end of the auditorium to the other. At presence, the Hierarch is seated on the dais, attended by Yoshitsune, a diminutive Japanese man in traditional dress. Yaroslav is also present, though she appears to be handling logistics with her smart phone. When the window opens, none of them take much notice of it. They're dealing with things on a much higher level of authority. If something is found, no doubt, they'll be told if they need to be.
But in the window comes a familiar face. That of Alexis Bartram, seated at her desk, covered in various trappings of fallen world occult significance. She's presently watching the feed from the protests, and appears to be fussing with her computer, perhaps in an effort to record it all on her end as well.
Sirius gave those gathered a respectful nod as he stepped into the chambers, claiming a quiet corner for himself to get the window up and running. Once the focus revealed itself the thearch found himself stunned into silence for a long moment, surprise clear on his features.
After the surprise, though, came a look of excitement. If the other two had been newly Awakened, then perhaps she was on the Path as well?
This is all she's about at the moment. The thread has been followed, and he's found his intended target. Hierarch Penance, probably doing seven other things at the same time, makes a distracted inquiry, "Magus Sirius, any news?"
"I've identified the third connection. She's a professor at UPenn...just so happened to have run into her a few days ago and struck up a conversation." He looked towards Penance at that, doing his best to crank that excitement down to a more 'talking with your order lead' acceptable level. "I'd like to take point on monitoring her, if you find it agreeable."
Diamond walks, hurriedly, down toward the tree and where her Cadremate is apparently focusing on something, she's in a white button up and slacks, carrying a suitcase probably looking more serious than most people are used to see her be. Her expression serious, she greets Sirius with a soft nod and whoever else there with a similar/appropriate Greeting. "I stand ready to help."
The Hierarch's expression is usually so serene, but at this news here eyebrows lift in delighted surprise. "Serendipity, then." She glances aside at Yoshitsune who simply nods his head at whatever the look conveys, and then she leans forward in her seat again, "Get close to this one. Do not interfere in her awakening. Do not seek to fill a role in her mystery play. Do not, until her aura or soul reflect a signature on a Watchtower, do anything at all. Even if it seems she may die. But when and if she does awaken, bring her safely in."
Yaroslav glances up from her work and, without comment, goes right back to it.
Penance then once more asides to Yoshitsune, "Find Ecgbehrt. And inform Deacon Zadok, if they are not already aware." Yoshitsune backs up, bows stiffly, and moves briskly for the exit, past Diamond and Sirius both. "Ah. Diamond. Welcome. Sirius, tell your cadremate what you just told me."
"I wouldn't dare, Hierarch. The Light will guide her, and for me to take her steps for her would do her no good." He nodded, a little spark of glee in his eyes as he looked towards his cadremate. "A number of new sympathetic connections were found on the Tree, and one of them is tied to a woman who I think may be on the Path."
"And the others are ..." Her attention drifts to the portal nearby, or the surrounding. "A work in progress?" she motions about. "Okay, Sirius. Is there something you think I can help with right this moment, or do I need to plan for the longer term?" her attention drifts to the tree for a moment, then back at the shadow at her feet, as if worried something might happen there. But quickly return her gaze to him.
"Even so, the cautions must be spoken. One may be turned away from the Watchtowers through careless intercession. We put our trust in you. In you and the Soulwardens to collect this woman. Do it properly, and you all will be rewarded." Penance looks back to her work, apparently content that matters are being carried out to her liking.
A moment later a particularly old fellow dotters in from the arboretum. He's dressed in very light gray robes, festooned with awakened runes. Clearly Silver Ladder, but with the unkempt and wild eyed look of some escstatic or visionary. "You rang, Penance?" She looks up again, "Ecgbehrt. Sirius here has ties to a woman that appears about to be awakening. I was wondering if your divinatory talents might be put to the question of when it might be best to call upon her."
The twice master, councilor to the wise, just stares back at Penance with a slightly slack jaw. "Huh?"
"Understood, Hierarch." He then looked to Diamond, thinking a moment. "More long-term at the moment, I think. We can talk more on it later."
Diamond nods and, for a brief moment, drop the serious allure to show a second of affection, pressing her forehead to the side of his before finding a seat nearby. "I can offer my paralegal skills if anyone somehow gets in trouble, I can at least help try to smooth things out." Diamond set aside the suitcase, propping it against a wall or bench. Her eyes closes for a moment, trying to recall something.
"That would be Walsingham's department, I imagine, Diamond. Or at least his Order's. I asked Sentinels Man and Gardener to provide overwatch to the delegation presently attempting to reach the other two. I believe he is in prayer at the moment. You may check on his council office, but typically after incident mitigation is left to the Guardians to spearhead. I would imagine your efforts would be best focused through them." Penance does not bother making herself more clear to Ecgbehrt. The reason why becomes fairly obvious as the man's mind catches up with the present circumstances.
"Oh. Divination to see when her cherry will pop, enh? Fun fun fun. Might I borrow those threads from you, my dear boy? Or. Your scrying window, in any case?" Ecgbehrt totters over closer to Sirius, his spindly, bony fingers waggling in the air in anticipation. "Time to tickle her Fatey bone."
"By all means." Sirius motioned to the window with an "after you" flourish, sitting back to let the old Acanthus do what he did best.
Ecgbehrt's already cloudy eyes seem moreso as he peers through the mists of time and the fog of fate, his knobby fingers fluttering in the air before the scrying window like a man ridding himself of cobwebs or playing with cotton candy. His head tilts this way and that as he works. At the end of it, he returns to the here and now, "Soon. Very soon. In fact," he gives a date convenient to both Sirius and Alexis's players. Convenient! "It's as though a higher order is at work in all that we do, guiding these events in a very meta sense. Hmm."
Diamond nods and takes a few notes on a notepad, then looks at Sirius with narrowed eyes. (Can I cast something (Soul Marks, Death 1) through the Scrying window on Alexis without messing up with Either Sirius or Ecgbehrt's spells or Penance's orders?)
(5 (instant, sensory/scrying portal, spell specific, advanced potency) reach spent on total of 5, Potency 5 (base 1 + 4 from primary factor) 1 s (gnosis 5 + Death 5 + Persona (Shadowname, since this is basically an appraisal for a potential new 'diamond') ) 1 success
Diamond peers through the scrying window with a keen eye as she cast a spell without any specific gesture, without any chanting, just like casting a glance through a window.
Sirius nodded quietly, taking out his phone to make a quick note of the date. "Perhaps." He looked back to the window then, a small smile on his face. "Seems you'll find what you were looking for after all..." it was said quietly, more to himself than the other magi present, but he looked pleased nonetheless.
The soul of the woman in question is unremarkable. Unawakened, in tact, and unperturbed. Save that there is something there. Some unquiet. Some waiting Thing. A potential that is unique to Diamond's understanding.
"I see it." Diamond speak softly and place her hand on Sirius' back, a show of support. Then her attention shifts to the other Magi around them as the spell fades away naturally.
"So, I believe you have it," Ecgbehrt concludes with a glance to the other two much younger mages. "A time. A place. A woman. An event. How exciting for you all. Be a shame if you were to bungle it terribly, enh?" He gives a poke of his elbow to Sirius. "But I don't think that's what's in store for you. Nope. I think you're going to do just fine." Then he wiggles his fingers in the air again, "Never know. Never know!" And just like that, the seemingly senile acanthus turns and, as though he heard someone calling him, begins to walk back out the way he'd come.
"Ignore him," Penance remarks with a sigh, "the rest of us do."
"I look forward to it." Sirius replied with a small smirk, giving the old magus a nod. "Thank you for the insight."
"I believe so." Diamond looks at the older man leaving, studying the departing Ecgbehrt for a brief moment, no magic this time. (Empathy to see if this is an Act ?)
As Ecgbehrt retreats, following his own strange internal logic, Yoshitsune returns with Zadok in tow. The Adamant Sage walks behind the androgynous Deacon of the Silver Ladder, presently dressed in a boxy suit jacket. "Your Provost found me, Penance. He told me the basics. Awakenings? A rash of them?" Zadok stops near to Sirius and Diamond as Yoshitsune continues past them all, heading to reclaim his position at the right hand of the Hierarch.
"You are tasked with bringing in the third, are you not, Magus Sirius?" Zadok looks down their narrow nose at Sirius, expression grave and, well, serious. "Remind me. What position do you hold within the ladder."
Sirius stood up a little straighter at Zadok's emergence, giving them a polite nod as they approached. "None at this time, Deacon, but I am working towards remedying that. I know the woman in question, and wish to help her reach this next stage of enlightenment."
"And what role do you seek within the order, Magus Sirius," Zadok inquires with a somewhat kinder expression this time around.
A shrug touches Diamond's shoulders. "I'll be looking for something and someone for a moment, Sirius, just send me a text or a cookie if you need my help." (I'm assuming the legal stuff will be dealt with through tickets?)
"Will do." He replied to his cabalmate with a nod, then looked back to Zadok. "Cryptovoskos, Deacon."
"Cryptovoskos." Zadok's smile twitches a little brighter at this. "That is, indeed, a very worthy step for you to take, Magus. Once you have concluded your work in bringing this woman into the fold, reserve some office time with me. I'd like to discuss your direction further." They then incline their head respectfully to Diamond as well. "Daughter." And then they move towards Yaroslav, speaking with her in quiet tones.
Diamond return the respectful nod, smiling warmly to Zadok, she's searching through her phone for her contacts and firing emails that she may need to. "Hearth may be able to help me too." she mumble under her beath.
"I will. Thank you." He watched as Zadok headed off, then looked towards the window again. "Most likely...do you want to wait for the others to get back from the mall or head back to the house?"
"Honestly, I would much prefer to wait for them to return here, that way I have a clearer idea of what's happening of what I can do to help." Diamond explains. "I might catch Walsingham or other Guardians to offer my help on the mundane or Awakened side of it."