The lodge has once more had its main room set with chairs in a circle. Tables line the back wall with refreshments. These meetings tend to be quite community oriented, which means the kids are out as well as the partners and spouses of some of those in attendance. The prelude of the event had a luncheon, after which the kids and unawakened head on out to the playground out back for play time and relaxation around the pool and in the sun. It's absolutely the temperature for it.
Balm has set herself up in her chair, looking as old as ever, but uplifted a bit from having the children around again. The other luminaries of the community are present, of course. Baldur, Weaver, and Peacekeeper too. Time to settle in, apparently.
This is the first official meeting of the Children of the Tree in which Mei started it out as a member, and the first time she's an observer instead of the subject of the conversation. She came a little early to help with setup, putting out chairs and so on, and to join for the luncheon and meet some of the auxiliary members (most importantly the kids) who she hadn't had a chance to really meet before.
Now she's sitting in her own chair, looking relaxed and curious, which is probably exactly what she should be as a new member.
Maddy tends to provide a lot of the food for Children of the Tree events, since she loves to cook and finds the ritual of gathering together to eat an important part of the human experience, at least for her. She enjoys playing with the kids, and if there wasn't important business she'd probably be out with them all around the pool, splashing and enjoying the weather, instead of inside having a meeting. Instead she's settling herself in with a cup of coffee and the donning of Amity, rather than Maddy, in order to talk about official business.
Rīpeka is also in attendance, having made sure to arrive early as well. Not least in order to give the younger kids piggyback rides on request. Right now, though, she's sipping at a cup of tea as she waits for the official business to begin, entering the persona of Kotahitanga rather than her Sleeper identity.
Alexis is perched cross-legged on her chair, nursing a cup of her own. Her eyes are shining with interest and curiosity, and she's changed positions on her chair once or twice, clearly excited about the discussion and potential of getting to go on the expedition.
When permitted to remain, Nevermore stays with their sponsor, choosing a place near Maddy’s seat. They look, if anything, more curious than Mei.
Balm is fussing with the wrapper of a hard candy and eventually gets it open and pops it into her mouth to suck on while the younger members do much of the initial speaking. She begins the whole matter simply by gesturing towards Maddy with one of her frail hands, "Emissary, why don't you begin. We are holding this meeting somewhat in your honor, after all. I'm sure you have much to share about your trip."
Maddy gives Nevy a reassuring smile, everything's fine, enjoy, be curious! "I suppose that makes sense as a place to start," she then agrees with Balm. "As I think most of you know, I put together an expedition into the Mists with a few of the mages from the local Consilium. Harmony, Thyrsus of the Adamantine Arrow; Portia, Mastigos of the Guardians of the Veil; and Decima, Acanthus of the Silver Ladder. We actually made two trips, and found a few things of interest that I wanted to share. The first, of course, is that the Martyr's Tree exists there, in a form grander than the one here. That's perhaps not surprising given the nature of the Mists. Does anyone need a quick explanation about that, I suppose I should ask?"
Mei sits back to listen, and that seems to be her plan right up until the question comes about whether or not people need an explanation about the Mists. "I'm not familiar with the topic, but if I'm the only person who doesn't know I can come talk to you later to get the details filled in, rather than taking up everyone's time for a lesson only I need," she says. "I might have more questions to ask after the rest of description of your journey anyway."
"I think the siblings and newer members of the community would benefit from an explanation of the mists," Peacekeeper suggests with a smile.
A bit late to the party, Ethos and Charleville arrive. They're both joshing about and shoving each other, as though there were a game of the dozens underway before they arrived. They sober up their behavior when they realize they're walking into a meeting already in progress.
"Sorry, momom," Ethos mutters.
"Yeah, sorry," Charleville mumbles. This does not stop Charleville from giving Ethos one last shove before they make their way to the circle and find themselves seats. Charlie gives Nevermore two thumbs up and a big smile when he sees her present.
Kotahitanga is more amused than anything by Ethos and Charleville's entrance, glancing at Amity espectantly at the suggestion she explain the Mists for the newcomers benefit.
Nevy gives a little wave to Charleville, giggling slightly at the antics. Powerful mages or not, kids will be kids
Alexis digs out a notepad and her perfected pen, poised to take notes to jog her memory in case she needs to dig into the Athenaeum later, while looking to Maddy for her explaination
"Of course," Amity says with a nod for Peacekeeper. "The Mists are an emanation closely associated with Arcadia, and..." she stops a moment to laugh at the antics of the new arrivals and then tries to remember where she was. "Arcadia, right? Right. The Mists are the Realm of Unknown Destiny. My Legacy, the Walkers in the Mists, makes a study of them, and has certain advantages there that aren't available to others. As part of their nature..." she tries to figure out how to put into words something that defies explanation to people who haven't experienced it and don't have the foundational knowledge to understand the pattern of it. "All things that did, could, or can exist are all there, in all of their forms. Every future and past, all wrapped in the mist of potential. It's a fabulous place for learning what might be, which says nothing about the probability of one thing or another coming to pass, but it allows for some manipulation of that as well."
“So,” Nevy says, “Anything that could happen does happen somewhere, and the Mists is that Somewhere?” They pause, glancing around to make sure they haven’t Pased their Faux by speaking out of turn
Mei covers a laugh with a hand as the two youngsters come in, but doesn't seem to be bothered by the interruption that doesn't keep going on while people are trying to talk. She leans forward and rests her elbows on her knees as she listens, soaking everything up. "Is that more a function of Time or Fate?" she asks curiously.
Kotahitanga nods along to Amity's explanation, clearly already familiar with the concept. Nevy's glancing around gets a reassuring smile. "That's a fairly accurate summation, yes," she interjects, before turning her attention to Parhelion. "Yes," the Obrimos deadpans.
"Exactly!" Maddy says with a nod to Nevy "I mean, maybe it also happens in parallel dimensions to our own? The way some Awakenings change details of the Fallen World raises some interesting questions about that. Maybe they don't change this world, but let someone shift between them?" She waves a hand. "But to answer your question, yes." She moves on to Mei's question and says, "the signature arcanum of the Mists is Time, and in some ways it's an overlapping of all possible times, future and present. There's an element of Fate to it, and it's actually dangerous to leave the Mists without forging a new future for yourself; you become somewhat unanchored from your timeline by entering the Mists, and if you don't build a new future before leaving, or accept one that one of the anachronisms tries to convince you to take, you can come out unmoored and end up... like 20 years in the future, having missed everything between. Or 20 minutes. Never the past, though."
Kay shows up a little late, because the player had some minor emergency to deal with and takes a seat near people, waving at everyone she knows. She's wearing a red dress with white floral prints and her hair is done in a myriad little braid, she looks over who's around for a moment.
"That sounds both incredibly useful and incredibly dangerous. It reminds me of myths of Tír na nÓg, which is unsurprising for an emanation of Arcadia." Alexis drums her pen on her notepad before directing a question at Maddy, "I assume that it makes for a powerful aid for scrying and divination, hence your discoveries?" She gives Kay a little wave.
Nevy grins like a student who got a question right, murmurs something about butterflies, and sits back to listen, shooting Kay a little wave when they see her.
No one seems keen to hurry Amity along in her explanation of matters. Even Baldur looks to be paying close attention with an expression of unguarded interest.
"Hear that, Ethos?" Charlie chirps, "There is a place where you can get a date on a Friday night."
Ethos just shakes his head wryly and doesn't engage, though his eyes are twinkling.
"It does and it doesn't," Amity admits with a bit of a face, more like she's trying to figure out how to explain it than anything else. "You can try to find out a lot about what might happen, and maybe what's impossible? But if there are a thousand possible outcomes it doesn't tell you what ones are more likely and which are highly improbable." She looks at Ethos with an apologetic smile. "To continue the example we can find out if it's possible for Ethos to even get a date, which I'm sure it is, and maybe who might potentially date him in the right circumstances, but we couldn't find out who is most likely to say yes if he asks, or who would be most likely to ask him. It does have the advantage of being able to work magic with Spatialtemporal Sympathies without the need to Reach for sensory range, including when casting spells on things outside of the Mists, so it can be easier to do particularly complex magics from there."
"Oh, that's easy. It's Charlie's mom," Ethos responds with a small nod of the head. He couldn't help himself.
Charlie responds with a predictable, "Hey, not cool!"
For those keeping score that's 1:1. Ethos then at least tries to get back on topic, "So how do you get there, though?"
Mei can't help a laugh as the roast continues, and then Ethos fires back. At least the meetings here aren't stuffy and boring, just educational and humorous!
Kay smiles so brightly at the joking tone the meeting is taking and discreetly move to sit closer to Alexis taking, greeting her with a pat on the shoulder. There is a touch of mischief gleaming in her eyes for a moment but it seems she thinks better of it. She raises her hand in greetings to both Charlie and Ethos as they arrive.
"Through a Thura," Maddy answers unhelpfully. "I could tell you where a few are, as could most Druids. There are a couple of Druids in Maine, or at least frequently in Maine. We tend to be rather nomadic, and my being so tied to this one place is a bit of an oddity. I'm sure you could find a creative way to discover their locations, but asking someone who is likely to know is the easiest. Walkers in the Mists are also able to eliminate the need to meet the Keys to the Thurae, ignoring whatever restrictions they might have to prevent their use."
"What kind of restrictions do they commonly have?" Kotahitanga asks.
"They're usually rather nonsensical and difficult to fill, like you might expect from something Arcadian. Being the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, that kind of thing, hence the value of having a Walker to guide you. I should mention that I'm glad to serve as a guide to people who want to go study the Tree in the Mists, or study the Mists themselves, with the caveat that you should be prepared for the possibility that you could come out days or months or years in the future, due to circumstances outside of my control," Amity continues to say. "I know the location of the Tree there now, and can take people there almost directly. If I have someone with enough Mind or possibly Forces and similar to hide us from the anachronisms much of the danger is eliminated."
Pap pap pap. Of course Fox arrives as a Fox. She yawns a very big yawn, like she was sleeping somewhere else and now she's here!
... to sleep on Mei, apparently. She pads over to her cadre-mate and flops down, putting her head in Mei's lap, sort of threading her head in between Mei and Mei's arms.
"So what did you see when you reached the tree, Amity?" Balm has heard enough of the trivia, apparently, and is seeking to move the meeting forward towards why they are all gathered here. Apparently they were all given however long it took her to work through her hard candy, because it's no longer rattling around in her dentures.
"Well, one of the more interesting things that we discovered is that there's another fruit in the Astral Realms somewhere, news of which I think is fairly public at this point? People who understand the Astral better are planning to take action on that, I believe." Maddy looks around, curious if there's any confirmation to be had about that. "One thing that we didn't expect to learn while we visited the Tree in the Mists is that there are anachronisms, sort of ephemeral entities made from the stuff of destiny, for many of the early players in the Consilium, including the Council. They're powerful entities and seem to know much of what the originals did. The Tree's existence is interesting too, of course, and bears further study, but a lot of that study can be done here as well, or in other Realms. Now we know that it does extend to more esoteric emanations, though."
Kay greets Fox as she makes her way to Mei with a little wave of her hand and smiles her way.
Mei picks up Little Fox and snuggles them close, but continues to listen.
Nevy frowns intently, concentrating on picking up the conversation - even the stuff they don't have the background to grasp quite yet. This Could Be Important.
"I might like to join the Astral journey. I am, of course, much different there than I am here. Not as restricted by old bones and tired joints." Balm offers a small smile at this comment. "I think I would like to see it in the Anima Mundi before I move along." That is: Die.
"Have you dealt much with the entities around the tree, Amity? If their knowledge is fairly comprehensive-- or, at the very least, suggestive of comprehensiveness? --we might learn a great deal from them. Do you think that can be done safely?"
"Portia of the Guardians of the Veil was able to delve into the mind of the one that represents Galveston, but given the mischief that the anachronisms can create and their obvious strength we didn't engage them in conversation," Maddy explains. "Those entities are potent ones, persuasive ones, and capable of convincing people to accept destinies that they would never choose for themselves. It does seem possible to retrieve information directly from their minds, though."
"Keep in mind that accuracy could be suspect," she continues. "The Mists contain all possibility."
"How easy would it be to to track down entities that accurately reflect the Galveston of our history, or any other specific one?"
Nevy frowns. "It... kind of sounds like you'd be trying to find a needle in a stack of identical needles, many of which are actively making pricks of themselves."
"Oh, what I wouldn't give," Balm mutters quietly to herself before trailing off into silence. Given the set of her jaw, though, what would have followed would have involved her purse and Gaveston's face. But as it stands she just balls her skirts into her fist and lets out a long slow breath. "I would appreciate it if we could have someone on the group heading into the Astral. This seems an ideal role for the Emissaries of the River Nations. And I believe we would benefit from learning more from those around the tree. Even if the reliability of information is suspect, it's information on possibility. Which is better than no information at all."
"For anyone who is interested in making a study, as long as we have someone alone with the ability to veil us from the powerful entities around the tree, something I believe Master Portia is willing to do," Maddy continues explaining, "I would be glad to bring them there to ask questions and seek answers. Whether those answers are true or just could have been true? I couldn't say." She answers Kotahitanga's question by saying, "I don't know for certain. It might not be possible to know without having a precise understanding of every detail of the genuine Galveston to make a comparison. We've only seen one, so far, though."
"Heh. Pricks." Alexis snickers before clearing her throat, "Ahem. Not to put too fine a point on things, but I'm deeply concerned that we need to hurry on the Astral front, especially since we know at least one hostile individual, probably a Seer and skilled in the arcanum of Mind and Space is familiar with my own sympathies. I don't want to know what they could do if they got their hands on that fruit." She grimaces before nodding at Balm "I'm willing and interested in going myself, though I admit that I don't have much experience to bring. At the very least, I should have a fundamental connection."
Kay offers a pat on Rashida's back and squeezes her shoulders, trying to comfort the other woman. She pays attention to the gathered people for others, maybe new faces, maybe returning face.
"You might make your offer to your Order, Rashida. Or at your consilium meeting tomorrow," Balm suggests. "Parhelion, I know you are young yet and new to these matters, but you are Mastigos and you are present. If you can speak to others of your Path or find others who are able in the Mind Arcana, that would be of considerable benefit." Balm then leans forward and smiles over to Amity, "Thank you for all your work and all that you have shared, Amity."
Contentedly, Fox blinks her eyes at Kay and warbles softly, and then curls up more contentedly on Mei's lap. There are certainly things happening, and she seems to be listening, but it's also important to rest and watch people and -- this is key -- be a Fox.
"...Parhelion's an Obrimos, Balm," Kotahitanga says gently. "But yes, thank you, Sister," she adds, turning to Amity.
Mei looks a little surprised by this and blinks at Balm. "Ah... I'm actually an Obrimos, Elder," she says gently. "I'm a little surprised by that myself. I had more skill with minds before I Awakened than I do now. Somewhat to my relief," she amends. "At least for the time being."
"You're welcome, Balm!" Maddy says with a bright smile. "And everyone else. I'm happy to share information about the Mists, and to get other people interested in them. If anyone wants to make a study, or has questions they want answers to but wants someone else to go get those answers, let me know and I can possibly make that happen. It's not a difficult journey for me."
"I will go to their meeting tomorrow," Peacekeeper finally speaks up, sparing Balm even having to address her mix-up. "And I will volunteer to accompany them. I'm sure this will be of some relief to them, in any case. But you are right, Elder. We should be on the trip. And if any of you are proficient in Mind magic, now might be an excellent time to step forward. Furthermore, if you know of others among the Diamond who are sympathetic to our cause, encourage them to volunteer and fill out the ranks. Epiphanius is a find tender of the tree here in the Fallen World, but he cannot be everywhere. And there are those among the Diamond who would be more cavalier with the trees if they could be."
"Speaking of the meeting tomorrow." A beat "I'm still working on the trip to the Underworld Tree and hopefully will be able to learn more about the Emanation there too." She clears her throat "But at the impromptu meeting yesterday I did mention maybe wanting to make it easier for people to visit the Underworld Tree by sharing a visit with other Masters of Death and I wanted to know what you thought I should do there? Because I haven't made the formal request yet and I could withdraw the intent if that's what we'd prefer."
Nevy's ears perk up and they look extremely interested at the mention of a trip to the Underworld.
"How would you ensure any trips to the Underworld Tree are safe, Sister?" Kotahitanga asks, glancing at Diamond.
"None of us are better authorities in the Death Arcana than you are, Diamond. If you can find a place to open a gate that won't suffer for the influx of Death Resonance-- perhaps a cemetery or similar location --that can play host to the gate on this side of things, we might be able to create an imbued item to open the gate on that site. I encourage you to investigate for such a location." That's Peacekeeper again, stepping in for Balm now that Balm's looking a little glum about her cognition. "As to what you should do there..." Peacekeeper gestures to Kotahitanga with a small smile.
Mei continues to be curious about all of this, but she doesn't have expertise to offer. Just things to learn, which is fortunately her literal job description right now!
A big stretch of her legs. That's what Fox is doing right now. Surely she's listening, but it's very important to streeeeeeeeeeeetch her legs, and arch her back, and yawn so so big.
Kay obviously listens to the concern that's being brought up by Peacekeeper and Kotahitanga and even smiles in response to it. She even mirror Little Fox's stretching a little bit while they do it as if taking the unspoken stretching advice. "My first trip is going to be an expedition leading there on foot with other people, which is risky and doesn't have any simple solution." A beat. "Once I've been there, just like Amity earlier, I will be able to reach the tree's emanation by just casting the gate." a look to Rīpeka "And making that safe depends on what you meant by keeping things safe. I know the rules of the domain where the tree reside and the role of the Tree in that region. With first hand experience, I think keeping people safe while there is a question of making sure they'd respect the rules. If you mean in regard to making the gate itself, I need to do research in that department to understand how it could be made more secure."
Another beat. "My current worry is more about how it was brought up just now that others may be more cavalier with the Tree and that makes me question the idea of sharing the trip's knowledge with them. I feel like making an imbued item who locks to that location might be a simpler way to achieve what I wanted, provided we can keep that safe."
"Could we not keep the item which opens the gate here when not in use? That would make it harder for anyone likely to be cavalier with the Tree to access."
"That could certainly be possible," Peacekeeper allows, "though I'm not keen to have an avernian gate opened in our lodge on accident, either. But a safe means of storing the object would certainly be worth exploring, too." Peacekeeper lets out a small sigh and admits, "Likely there's no perfectly safe way to get there the first time, and so the only ones who go should be volunteers, preferably those able to perform combat magic, death magic, or both. Though cloaking your progress as they did in the Mists may also help you. Ultimately, it's up to you how you compose your group, Diamond. And which roles you wish to emphasize."
"Yeah gathering the team to go there is what I'm focusing on right now, Making and Safekeeping the item may require a team effort, but that's not a problem." Kay ponders for a brief moment "Then I won't be making the request for my second trip at the Consilium meeting tomorrow." A look toward Baldur at those words. "I feel like an item is a more controllable variable and keeping that safe would be woven into the item in question. Thank you for the insight."
Nevy speaks up, hesitantly. "Would... everyone going on that trip need to be a Mage?"
Kotahitanga looks to Diamond for an answer to Nevy's question.
The elders all bob their heads in the affirmative, apparently approving of the direction things are going. The less they have to ask the consilium for permission? The better. Especially since they have no real need to ask anyone's permission in the first place. "You would do well at least to mention your intentions so no one can say they were unaware. Doubtless there will be others among the Diamond who will want to help you." That's Peacekeeper again. She doesn't answer Nevermore's question, she just looks to Diamond and waits her answer.
Kay takes a short moment to consider the question from Nevermore and looks their way. "Given the dangerous nature of the trip, I would prefer if all present could be mages. Or at least, have means to defend themselves if things become dangerous." A beat "Are you capable of fighting in some fashion? Or does your amulet help protect against attempts to steal your soul?" the question is asked toward Nevermore in all seriousness, she waits for the answers.
Nevermore takes a deep breath. "It... prevents possessions by ghosts," Nevy says. "And I've been able to talk angry ghosts down from attacking me before, even when they didn't have a great deal of mind left. I'm... not a fighter, but does that matter if I'm not being attacked?"
"I think," Peacekeeper suggests, "that at this point we can close the meeting and leave you and Nevermore to discuss matters. I believe all the urgent business has been addressed, and we know who will be visiting the Consilium tomorrow on the matter of the Astral journey. If you need any further assistance, Diamond, please let us know."
Kotahitanga glances at Diamond, then. "Is that enough, or would you prefer someone along to keep an eye out for if they get attacked anyway?"
Kay looks to Peacekeeper "I will, thank you." then her attention turn toward Kotahitanga. "I would prefer to have more than just me and only one other person, Mage or not. A healer would be mandatory and I was hoping to bring someone with an understanding of Fate, just in case that might help with figuring out the rules of where we go. You could heal us if need me, I know, so if you'd like to join, I would be happy to." then, she turn to Nevermore. "If you want to come with, I can take you. But it will be dangerous, do you understand that?"
Nevermore nods. "It's a Journey to the Underworld. Even in the stories, those are never capital-S 'Safe.'"
Kotahitanga nods. "It'd be my pleasure to accompany you, of course. Do you have anyone in mind to provide an understanding of Fate?"
"Not at the moment, availability may be an issue with the first person I had in mind." Kay explains. "I'll ask around tomorrow and see if anyone is interested, though I suspect who might rise up to the occasion."