Aidan Bradley
November 2005

Tuesday, November 1, 2005
It is cold and drizzly, and overcast. The Rose Hill Chantry is an impressive Mansion on Twin Peaks.
I have been living at the Rose Hill Chantry for roughly three years now. Whether or not I was a part of the cabal that has recently disappeared, no one knows (except maybe the Storyteller, who has been strangely silent on the subject).
Either way, a cabal disappeared, and that is all the players know. There is open space at the Chantry, and the Elder Council of Roses, has, in their infinite wisdom, chosen to invite five people to join me in a new cabal.
Knowing this, and knowing that first impressions are everything, I spend the morning making sure I look perfect. (yes, I'm a bit narcissistic) Three new people straggle into the Chantry, some excitedly, some all but kicking and screaming.
I make a grand entrance to where my new "friends" are waiting. There is an absolutely gorgeous Latina woman, also looking somewhat petulant and nervous and spoiled, all at the same time! (yes, she came kicking and screaming) Sitting across the gorgeous coffee table from her is a very good-looking hermaphrodite, looking very calm, and almost regal. And, as far away from these two as possible (possibly shy, possibly standoffish, possibly an Order of Hermes? Or worse, Virtual Adept!? Gasp!), is a man whose description my player doesn't have. (His player mentioned an actor that she'd never heard of, and has yet to produce a picture ... )
We engage in a really disappointing cabal-making ceremony, becoming the Scent of the Rose, and then are let off our leashes to wander.
When night approaches, Darcy and I visit this cool hippie club with a drum circle. I drink a little and dance, dance, dance. Darcy drinks a very little, smokes a little pot, and mostly watches the people dancing and drumming.

The Latina is indeed spoiled, and her name is Kassandra. She is a Hollow One, and is very curious with no social graces to speak of.
The hermaphrodite is indeed hermaphroditic, but not to worry, for he / she is also a shapeshifter, and a Verbena, named Kaiden (pronounced: K.aye-dun).
The shy boy is indeed shy, and is, unfortunately, a Virtual Adept named Kyril. (The horror!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Another grey, drizzly day. It's San Francisco in November and the weather's terrible. Times like these I wish I was back in L.A.
We learn in the morning that late last night, two more people showed up. I wander around San Francisco with one of the new people, Miyu of the Akashic Brotherhood. Despite the fact that I normally pity those of the Akashic Brotherhood for not living life to the fullest, I think Miyu's pretty cool. Nice, anyway.
We visit a shiny shop in Chinatown - there's a node there, and it draws us right in. There's a nice, peaceful, groovy feel to the place. Miyu buys some weird herbs, and I stick with jasmine incense.

We get back to the Chantry, and I'm in the middle of meditating when I watch a guy I've never met before (which means he must be Sean Brooks, Son of Ether of The Petals of the Rose, Darcy's cabal) in a lab fiddling with a machine. It blows up ... and then the explosion becomes an implosion ... and then an explosion ... and then an implosion ... and then - and I open my eyes before I get hypnotized by the blossoming and shrinking of the explosion.
I run out of my room and run into Miyu. Literally. She tells me it's Time, which totally makes sense with what I saw, so I tell her about that. We collect Kaiden on the way to the labs, and we stand outside the door as the explosion continues to explode and disappear.
Kaiden throws a candle into the explosion ... and it melts, instantly. Obviously not goin' in there anytime soon.
Unable to do anything, we go back upstairs in the hopes of finding that Virtual Adept, Kyril. He may know something that would help. He and the Sons of Ether are technology buffs. Or something.
We run across Volodya, the last member of our cabal, a Euthanatos (shiver!). He joins us in our search. We finally find Kyril, who agrees to do something with correspondence. (I believe he's trying to find a switch to turn the machine off)
Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and Paradox blinds him. Temporarily, of course. As we find out.
At this point Miyu runs to the Horizon Realm to find some of the Elders.
Volodya takes us back down, and he has a chat with the Paradox spirit in the lab. The Paradox spirit tells Volodya (who relays this all to us) what happened (Sean Brooks was trying to build a time machine, and Paradox smacked him. Badly, apparently.), and that the explosion will probably continue for a few more hours.
Volodya then suggests we go to dinner - his treat.
We troop out of the lab area, and meet Miyu, who tells us the Horizon Realm is empty. Which is a bit of a shock, to say the least. Where are the Elders?
We end up collecting Darcy (Kassandra is nowhere to be found), and going to dinner.

When we return the Elder Council is back, and apparently Sean Brooks fried himself and the rest of his cabal, apart from Darcy. The Petals of the Rose are no more.
Kaiden and I go down to the lab, out of curiosity, and Roland Andell, Peg-leg himself, is down there.
He asked where we had been, and I told him. He had the nerve to mutter something about "our fine new cabal" before stalking out.
What a dick! What nerve! Where the fuck was he? Only he left before I had collected my wits enough to ask.

Later, I talk to Darcy, and he tells me he's been thinking of moving out, partly because he's just lost his cabal, and partly because of Andell. Apparently Andell's really been getting to him, lately.
I'll miss him not being around, but I can understand, especially about having just lost his cabal, and I'll still see him, and take lessons from him, and everything.

Thursday, November 3, 2005
Andell gathers our blood for a ceremony to allow us to cast anything in the Horizon Realm, as we are now allowed in. Kassandra enquires about the cabal-making ceremony for the new people, to which Andell replies that it was already done.
After the blood ceremony was finished, me and Kassandra agree that a proper ceremony making all of us a cabal would be quite appropriate. We schedule this for later tonight.
Darcy and I get together for a lesson about Forces, and then kill a few hours, on his bed.
We had planned for a party after the ritual, so I stick invitations under everyone's doors (even Andell) before going to the ritual.
When the time comes, we all gather in the room we chose, and we ward it with Mind and Life, so no one but our cabal can enter the room, and then we protect from all Magicks, so no one can attack us in this room. We each pool our own knowledges and skills. We're a fairly well-balanced group, and I feel we will be very powerful in a short period of time.
We get ready for the party, and then start partying. There is plenty of alcohol and music, DJ spirits, and shiny fruit from the Horizon Realm that contains Quintessence.
Jishne shows up for the party as a 7-year-old boy! He's apparently a very powerful shape-shifter. After a few minutes, he changes into an extremely attractive 24-year-old. Devon Scott, the only decent Order of Hermes I've met, plays bartender, and makes some killer drinks. Isaac, an Ecstasy Cultist, as usual, tries to interest everyone in his drugs. That's something I do but rarely. Jason Cho, of the Akashic Brotherhood, does come (surprise, surprise!), but just sits and watches. No one else comes.
When the party breaks up, I go off with Darcy.

Friday, November 4, 2005
We all wake up late, in varying degrees of hung-over-ness, and we wander downstairs for breakfast. We're disturbed by the sound of heavy moving stuff and people moving around.
We go out into the party room and find the dance floor ripped out, with boxes of new tile standing nearby, awaiting replacement, and the stereo system in pieces and the arms of men.
We run over to see what's going on. They tell us Andell has sold the stereo system, and that they're picking it up. We're despondent for a few moments, but then I decide to buy a new sound system. If it's mine, he can't touch it. I tell my friends, and Volodya asks to split the cost. I'm a little surprised, but more than willing.
We take my car and look for a nice little shop. We find a sweet stereo system, purchase it and set it up at the Chantry. We're finishing up with that, and talking with the rest of the cabal when Andell comes into the room.
He started being a dick again, and finally, I got tired of it. I've exhibited a lot of patience - three years worth! - but I'm sick of it. He's such a prick, thinking Magick can only be done using books and ancient scrolls, he doesn't realize that some people find Magick and wonder and beauty in music or dancing or sex or drugs or the earth. Or, I suppose, in death, to be fair to the Euthanatos.
He started in about what we thought we were doing, and how dare we disrepect his wishes, and I just stand right up and face him down. I tell him the stereo is mine, I've bought it, I'll do with it what I like.
He asked if I was challenging his authority, and I put on this whole act of thinking about it, then was just like, "Yeah, I guess I am."
He told me the stereo system had better be gone when he returned, and he left the Chantry. Good riddance. If only he would stay gone.

Later, some of my cabal spoke with Jishne about him. He agreed to talk to the other Elders, and to have a Chantry meeting after that.
Darcy told me about the meeting, and wondered if I wanted to kill the time with him. I was tempted, but I had things to do. He seemed ... more disappointed than the situation should have called for. He's an attractive guy. It's not like he'd have trouble finding himself a girl.
At the meeting, Jishne tells us that Cathlyn and Richard (the other Elders) agreed that Andell was a detriment to the Chantry, but they respectfully wished to leave if Andell was to leave. Skylor Burke, a member of the Thorns, also left.
So, we're sitting and talking, with Cathlyn and Richard and Skylor already gone, when Andell comes in. Everyone who is not Jishne shuts the hell up. I'm ready to tell him what a dick he is, but I figure it'll be more entertaining watching Andell trying to play "I-know- everything-there-is-to-know-and-you-had-better-respect-my-authority" to Jishne's quiet dignity and surety of presence.
I'd just yell and get red in the face.
He leaves, finally, but he is not happy about it.

We decide that tonight would be an excellent night for a party, and, as Darcy points out, we have to test the new stereo ...
We invite half the Mage community of San Francisco (I invite my cousins, obviously), Kassandra invites Papa Ghede, her Voodoun god (?), Darcy invites a bunch of people, some I know slightly, some I don't know ... the rest of the Chantry comes and also invites people.
Jason comes again, and has some sake! I was surprised, but pleased. Our cabal's doing some good, after all. (I always feel people lightening up and letting loose is healthy, even if it is just every once in a while.)
Devon and Isaac take up the same roles they played last time: bartender and drug dealer (sorta).
Kaiden meets a man, Richard (I believe he knows Darcy), that he/she liked, and they go off together after the party in the direction of his/her room.
Gwennie goes home with Papa Ghede, who is apparently a very horny god. I wish her luck and a good time; he spent a lot of the party asking who wanted to dance with the biggest dick in the place ...
In fact, the only thing that makes the party not quite the joyous celebration it should have been is Kassandra coming up to me at one point. She tells me she thinks Darcy likes me.
At first, I'm just like, "Well, duh, we're best friends!" But then I understand her deeper meaning. I have to laugh. I suppose it might seem like that to someone who doesn't know either of us well. Especially Kassandra. She seems so ... naive.
Darcy and I flirt a lot, and have sex fairly often, and well ... we're really good friends. We have chemistry, we make a good team. We admire each other. But it's not quite the same thing as what Kassandra meant.
Darcy and I go to bed together after the party.

Saturday, November 5, 2005
When we wake up, Darcy offers to take me and my cabal - except Miyu, who opts to stay behind to meditate with Jason - to a coffee-shop owned by a friend of his in Castro. Turns out, this friend is Richard, the man Kaiden hooked up with last night.
Darcy points out some of his art (like I need it, I'm familiar with his style), but there was a surprise - he'd painted me! I hadn't known he'd done that.
Kassandra takes off for a few minutes, to go to Wal-mart, I think. She says something about an art project as she leaves.
When she gets back, a man walks into the shop who looks a little like Kassandra - turns out he's her father. A bit after he left, something strange happens.
I'm not sure how it started, I was talking to Darcy about his art, but suddenly I hear Kaiden asking Kassandra who she's been with, and Kassandra's totally spacing out, and not responding when we say her name.
After a few seconds of this, she snaps out of it, and recognizes us, but is real distracted. She runs out of the shop, and we follow to the door, but see her with her dad, so we figure it's okay. For the most part, anyway.

We finish our coffee and head back to the Chantry. As we pull in, we notice the doors are wide open. Obviously, something is wrong.
We pretty much screech into the driveway, barely remembering to turn the cars off, and run into the Chantry. We run upstairs to where the bedrooms are. Three doors are wide open, all the others are fine.
We go into Isaac's room first. It's a mess, and there's blood all over. Isaac's in his bathroom, very dead. We go into Jason's room, and find both Jason and Miyu in his closet. This room is also a mess and covered in blood.
Finally, we make our way toward Devon's room. One of the bookshelves is laying on the floor with something under it. Since I'm pretty sure by now what that something is, I turn away, ready to go find Jishne, who should be in the Horizon Realm.
Kaiden, however, lifts the bookshelf enough to see Devon's body underneath.

I run down to the Horizon Realm, with everyone tearing after me. The guardian spirit is there, his sword bloody. We gain entrance and find Jishne, who is hurt, but alive. I Heal him, and we talk to the guardian spirit, who knows nothing about the people who came in.
I call Kassandra after a bit, because we need to know she's okay, and she needs to know what's happened, and she needs to come back to the Chantry. While we're waiting for her, we go to the party room. The stereo me and Volodya just bought has been mutilated. Speakers slashed, the whole bit.
She comes, and a bit after that, her mentor comes. He seems alright, a bit distant, which surprises me, because Kassandra seems to need attention, but maybe that's to help teach her.
He and a friend of his went through the Chantry, doing things with Time and other stuff I don't know anything about. They say the whole thing was warded pretty heavily. Kassandra's mentor, John, says this wasn't Andell's style. Andell's style is the if-I-can't- have-it-no-one-can type of thing, get the building condemned or something.
He also says it isn't the Technocracy - "too sloppy".
I'm inclined to agree with him about Andell's style. I don't know that much about the Technocracy bastards, and why they wouldn't just make it look sloppy to cover themselves up is beyond me, but for now that's all we have to go on.
All I know is, we need to find whoever did it. They are our enemy. Jishne agrees. There is blood debt between us. And I mean to settle the score.

Rest of November 5 until November 8
Rowan says: "We did not role-play these few days, instead we blue-booked (we wrote out what we did for those few days, instead of playing it).
"Aidan spent the next couple days almost avoiding everyone. She was shaken up by the murders of her friends, and she decided to spend some time practicing knife-fighting, and studying Magick. She also vows to find out who killed her friends, and to avenge them."

Tuesday, November 8, 2005
We decide it would be a good idea to have wards or something guarding the Chantry. We decide on something to hang on the door that can screen our guests for us, something that will alert us to who is at the door before we open it.
We wander around the city, searching for a medusa-head door-knocker, which is what we decided on, for some reason. We're looking for gothic art stores. We drive by one, called The Raven, but it's open from 8pm till 4am. This kinda gets our interest up. I mean, I know it's a gothic art store, but ... I know of another group of ... people ... that spend a lot of awake-time at night ...
Something vaguely tugs at my memory about it all, but we drive on, looking for a store that's open.
We come across another shop, called Poe (cute, huh?). We pile in, and look around. The store reminds me of Viv. She was totally goth. But they don't really have what we're looking for.
So we go home, and Kyril searches the internet. He ends up buying it on-line from The Raven, and given the fact that my senitments were shared by other members of the cabal, it'll arrive at Kassandra's house tomorrow morning. Safer than the Chantry.
I believe Kyril hacks credit card numbers. Useful, I guess, but I'm not sure I approve. But either way, to each his own, I guess.

After this, we go to visit Kyril's mentor. Apparently, she's been acting weird lately, and he wants to talk to her.
So we all go. She owns this antique book shop. It's weird. She's a bit spacey, I guess. I basically just sit around and look at stuff, cuz I don't want to buy $100 books and Kyril's got shit to work out with his mentor.
As he's getting ready to go, telling her he'll work on Saturday (okay, I was eavesdropping, but not a lot! I promise! But I was curious ... ), I hear this rhythmic pounding from outside, almost like someone very big is walking. Kassandra moves away from the door, but I go to stand just outside the door, as does Kaiden.
The man walking along the sidewalk is indeed very big, and has bluish skin and doesn't look quite ... human. I know immediately he's a fae, and I'm pretty sure he's a troll.
He stops when he sees me, bows and greets me. He tells me his name is Jagir, and I give him my Magickal name, Sulla Phoenix-fire. We speak for a few moments; he's very polite and old-fashioned and ... Romantic, I guess, as in Romanticism ... he says thee and thou and bows, as I said.
He says he is going to a Freehold. I don't know enough about the fae! I ask as many questions as I think is polite, but I figure I'll go home and look in the library for books on the fae.
He continues on his way, and Kassandra apparently gets up enough courage to run after him and talk to him (really, he's not that scary ... a little intimidating, maybe, but not scary), and I can't hear what they say, but he leaves again pretty quickly, and she comes back looking pouty.

We all go back to the Chantry, and I go to the library, as I'd decided earlier. I read for a bit, but don't learn as much as I'd hoped.
After I've been reading for hours and my eyes are tired and my head hurts, I decide to wander the city, in the hopes of finding more fae. Basically I've decided that finding them might be the best way to learn about them.
I wander for hours, and I'm about to give up when I come across this Pagan-ish shop. I go in, the woman behind the counter greets me, and I look at incense. I always like looking at incense. I'm about to give up and go home when a short, dirty little man smoking a cigar comes out of a back room and starts talking to the lady about her toaster. And when I say short, I don't mean that he comes up to my shoulder. I mean he comes up to my waist.
He's obviously a fae (she can see him, too!), and I wrack my brains for what I learned in my books. I think he's a knocker. Lewd and crude, but good at fixing things.
I'm sitting there watching them talk when he turns and looks at me funny. He glances between me and the lady until she says to him, "I think she can see you."
I go to talk to him, and he (surprise, surprise) asks what I'm doing tonight, and wants to know if I have anything that needs fixing.
I mention the broken stereo, just out of curiosity of what else he'll say, and it turns out his payment is a night with him (again, I'm not really surprised). I think about it for a minute (hey, how often does a girl get a chance to sleep with a fae, even if he is a knocker?), then agree.
Then, I make a mistake. I ask him to leave the cigar behind. I mean, I'm not really terribly disappointed or anything (some fae make better lovers than others, I'm sure), but he gets offended, which was not my intention.
He grumbles his way to the back, and I turn to look at the woman. I ask her about the cigar, which she seems to take in stride, that the cigar was more important that sex, but before we can say anything else, I hear those heavy, pounding footsteps.
Jagir walks through the door. He sees me and bows, and then bows to the lady, but he seems to be in a bit of a hurry, so I don't try to strike up a conversation.
He goes into the back to collect the knocker, chastizes him for his language in front of the ladies, and they leave again.
I look back at the woman and ask if this kind of thing is normal. She says it is, and then warns me to stay away from the business of the fae, says something about politics.
I guess I seem like I'm about to be pushy, because she politely but very firmly tells me maybe I had better go. I leave.

I get back to the Chantry all despondent, and see Jishne (as his 24-year-old self) on the couch watching TV - the Discovery channel or something. I don't catch much TV.
He asks how I am, and I tell him about meeting the troll and the knocker and the woman, and my day has been such a disappointment I don't want to go up to my room or see Darcy or anything, so I decide watching TV is better than sitting alone or with Darcy. Things have been awkward between us lately. I'm not sure why.
It helps that Jishne's there. I have a great deal of respect for him, plus I think he's very attractive. At least like this.

Kassandra really wants to go to the Raven, for some reason, so we decide to go down there later, and then to that hippie club with the drum circle. As I'm getting ready, Darcy knocks on my door, looking awkward and ill-at-ease.
He asks about my plans, and I tell him my cabal was talking about going out. I figure he'll jump right in, but he seems even more awkward.
So I tell him straight out he's more than welcome to come, and eventually he agrees to go to the drum circle with us.

So, we go to the Raven. The proprietess is named Hope, and she's kinda ... unusual. She puts out a lot of Prime, but she's not a Mage, and she's a little ... creepy. Not exactly in an "I vant to suck your blood" sort of way, but close.
Anyway, I'm not too keen on her.
She seems to like Kyril, though.
And she knows Kassandra's family. Kassandra seemed a bit ... perturbed ... by this.
We hang out for a bit, drinking wine (it's almost like a club ... she has a bouncer and everything), and then we go back to the Chantry for a bit. I want to change for the drum circle, and Kaiden's mentor is visiting, apparently. S/he invited him to the club. So we waited for him for a bit.
He doesn't show up, Kaiden tries mindlinking him, but doesn't get anything. We think he's asleep.
So we head to the club.

I'm dancing, as usual, when I notice that Darcy's drinking an unusual amount. Usually, when we go here, or places like it, he smokes a little pot, maybe has a drink, and that's about it. Just enough to enhance everything, he says.
But he's going full tilt with Volodya and Kyril, and I'm a little worried about him. It's not like him.
I go over to him to try to figure out what's up, maybe get him to slow down. He tells me nothing is wrong, he just wants to have fun, that he doesn't do stuff like this often, just let me have fun.
The bartender (bless his soul) refuses to sell Darcy anymore liquor after that.
Unfortunately, we decide to go home, where Darcy can drink. I mean, I guess it's better at home, where he doesn't have to worry about passing out in the bar or anything, but I'm really worried about him.
We go home and he drinks some more. He goes to bed eventually, but keeps insisting that nothing is wrong.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Kassandra wants to make Darcy part of our cabal. We wait a few hours for Darcy to wake up, so we can have the cabal-making ceremony, but he doesn't come downstairs.
We go to wake him up, and he's gone. I ask Kyril to find him with Correspondance. He's at Richard's coffee shop. so I go down there. I want to talk to him again.
When I get there, he seems to be a bit better. More rational and more willing / able to talk, anyway. Sort of.
He doesn't really want to talk about it. That kinda hurts - he's always able to talk to me. He seems ... I don't know. He acts like he's not that pleased to see me. He ignores me a lot, which, again, isn't like him.
He does tell me he's really stressed out by all the deaths going on lately. I can understand that. I let him know (in case he's forgotten) that he can come talk to me anytime.

Then I go.
I go to this great little music shop and buy him a drum. I know he'd like that, and I'm hoping I can get him to smile again. He hasn't smiled in a few days.
I go back to the Chantry and set the drum outside his door.
Then, I decide I'm done with trying to make Darcy feel better. He's a big boy. If he wants to mope for a few days, I can't stop him. It might end up making him feel better.
And I've done what I can. He knows I'm there for him.

Kaiden's mentor arrives. He's hot. Very, very hot. If he lived in San Francisco (or was staying longer), I'd be interested in spending some time with him, but it was obvious that the two of them needed some alone time together.
I'm hoping the fact that their relationship is similar to Darcy's and mine will shut up people like Kassandra, who thinks he's in love with me, and Kyril, who seems to think I sleep around a lot.

Kassandra is going too far! She tried telling me Darcy loves me! I'd laugh, but the way he's been acting lately, I don't think it's very funny. Or any of her business. I'm tired of her trying to butt into my life and my relationships.

Jishne suggests having a bit of a party, to lift everyone's spirits. Darcy finally gets home right when we're about to start. We try to get him to join in, but he says he's really tired. He goes upstairs.
He does come back down a minute later to thank me for the drum. He seems pleased, I think. But then he goes to bed.
I enjoy myself greatly. Like I said earlier, I can't do anything more for Darcy, so I won't help anything by worrying about it.
I go up to the Horizon Realm with Jishne after the party.

Thursday, November 10, 2005
Today dawns bright, sunny ... and cold. Gods, I hate San Francisco in the winter! Maybe I'll go visit my parents for Thanksgiving. It would be great to go swimming ...

All is quiet in the Chantry. Sort of. I mean, Kyril's computer is going crazy and he thinks someone in Castro is hacking him. But otherwise ...
Kyril and Kaiden go track down his hacker (you can do that?). I go up to the practice rooms to practice knife-fighting. I'm going through the forms, kicking the air's ass, when suddenly I notice Darcy's walked by, with an armload of boxes!
I barely keep hold of my knives, and run after him. I ask him what's up, and he tells me he's moving out! I mean, he talked about it last week, and all, but Andell's gone, and Kassandra's been talking about adding him to our cabal, so his earlier reasons for leaving are gone.
And so is he. As I'm standing there, utterly flabbergasted, he keeps moving, going in and out of him room, bringing empty boxes up.
It's completely unlike me, but I'm unable to come up with anything to say. For a strange split second, I remember Darcy moving into the Chantry. I feel the same way now as I did then, even though the situations are completely different.
I am totally and utterly at a loss.
Darcy knows me too well, knows how to throw me off balance.

I stand there for several trips, and finally regain my balance. I'm angry. Angry that Darcy just decided to spring this on me without talking to me about it beforehand (we always talk about everything!), angry that I reacted the way I did (standing there with my mouth open for several minutes), angry that Darcy was able to do that to me, just plain pissed off. So I yell at him.
Mostly "What the fuck is going on?" and "Why the fuck are you doing this?" and a lot more along similar lines. He was amazingly cold. I insisted he talk to me, I told him I did not want him to leave (he had the nerve to ask why! Why?! Why the hell did he think? What the hell kind of answer did he expect?!), and his answer was always calm, polite, and very cold. "We'll talk about this at dinner," "This is something I need to do." He tried feeding me some line about "wanting to be part of the larger community," but a five-year-old could have seen through that bullshit.
The dinner thing really pissed me off. "We'll talk about this at dinner." After he's moved all his stuff to his van. And I pointed that out to him, after which I said, "And then you'll just leave. No discussion. You'll tell us some bullshit story about why you 'have' to go, and then you'll leave." That isn't what I want, I want to discuss it with him!
He gets most of his stuff in his van and goes to his room. I follow him, hoping to talk some more. He talks a little more now, but most of what he says doesn't make sense. I tell him I don't want him to go, I want to talk to him, and he gives me this look of terrible patience, and says, "Well, we don't always get what we want. I don't really want to move out ... " And I interrupt him (of course) with, "Well, if you don't want to go, and I don't want you to go, then don't go!" But he continues: "But it's something I need to do."
And then, the thing that nearly kills me: "This is my last lesson to you as a Mentor: You don't always get what you want." Last lesson as a Mentor?! I give him a tongue-lashing for that one, too. "So you're planning on walking out of my life, no longer my friend, no longer my Mentor, and you don't even have the decency to tell me why!?! Just some bullshit story about the community? That's all I get?"
When he asks me to go, he says something that really boggles me: "Just leave, Sulla. Just walk out my door. You should be used to that. You've walked out of my door plenty of times before. Just walk out my door. You've walked out of many doors, you're used to that, you're good at that."
What the fuck does that mean?
And whenever he said something cryptic like that, he refused to explain it.
I'm so confused.

I spend the rest of the evening sitting on the floor in the hallway outside Darcy's room. He said he was going to take a nap before dinner.
Kassandra walks upstairs to let us know dinner's ready. The second Darcy comes out of his room, it's obvious he was not sleeping. I check him with Life, and he's totally high. I follow him downstairs, my dejection a sharp contrast to his stoned giddiness. Also not like me. What is happening to me?
He seems really excited at the prospect of food, but when he gets down there, he starts to fall asleep in his food. Kassandra probes him with Life, and tries taking away the drugs, to make him sober and awake.
It wakes him up, alright. He runs immediately to the bathroom and vomits. He ends up feeling really sick, and I take him upstairs. I start to take him to his room, but there's a horrible, acrid smell in there I don't like.
So I take him to my room. When he realizes where we are, he starts to get pissy, saying he wants to be in his room, but I (somewhat bitterly) give him the same line he fed me: "Well, we don't all get what we want, do we?" It was clear he was not comfortable there (although why is beyond me), but he lays on my bed, and falls asleep.
I sit down on the floor and watch him. I don't know why, exactly, but I am determined to watch him through the night. And I have a lot to think about.

Friday, November 11, 2005
Darcy wakes up in the morning and pukes again. I try to make him stay in the room and get some more sleep (I really don't like that smell in his room), but he gets really pissed off at me trying to force him, and he leaves and slams my door and then his.
I go out into the hall, feeling dejected again. Hopeless. I see Kassandra in the hall, checking out the noise. She tells me Jishne wants to see me.

Jishne and I talk. He is amazing. He told me, when he shape-shifted at our first party, that when he is needed for wisdom, he likes appearing older, because wisdom and age are so often tied together.

Well, I think I'm starting to see past the age and just find the wisdom. He could have appeared as his seven-year-old self, and what he said would have seemed no less profound. "There are some things you can't control. You cannot change a person's will. You can only control how you act."
Maybe it was the most obvious thing in the world, but ... I needed to hear it.

I go back upstairs, and meet Kassandra in the hall again. She tells me she's visited Darcy, and she mentions the terrible smell. We start wondering what it was, and decide to ask Kaiden to check it out for us, because he has Life and Matter.
Kassandra and I hide in my room, and Kaiden knocks on Darcy's door. He doesn't open it, so I can't hear him too well, but I listen to Kaiden somewhat incredulously, because he's able to talk to Darcy. And I understand, after having talked to Jishne. Kaiden doesn't try to change what Darcy feels he needs to do. He asks if he can get him coffee.
He comes back up with the coffee, and Darcy opens his door. Through Kaiden's mindlink (I can't wait till I'm good enough with Mind to mindlink!), we learn that the smell is gone, and all he's got in his system in pot, alcohol and now coffee.
He says he feels instantly better, and he goes to check on his truck, to make sure everything's ready for him to leave. Kassandra rushes out after him, trying to stop him from going down the stairs.
Darcy gets really pissed off.
I stayed up all night long, trying to think of a solution to this problem. But within a few minutes, a few minutes of talking with Jishne, of listening to Kaiden, of watching Kassandra make Darcy very angry, I know suddenly what I am going to do.
I am going to show him I am on his side. If I show him I accept that he must do what he feels he needs to, if I show him I'm not trying to force him to do anything against his will, if I show him that I support him in what he does ... well, maybe he won't break down and talk to me and tell me what's been going on and why he's been so cold lately, but maybe he won't think of me as his enemy. Maybe he'll remember that much of these past couple horrible days and he'll think of me and someday be willing to be my friend, to talk to me again.
So I say to Kassandra: "Kassandra. Please step aside. Please let him go." No surprised look from Darcy, no grateful look, but I suppose that's asking too much. I'm suddenly ashamed of how I tried to force him to stay in my room.
When she ignores me, I add a little more force to my voice, and issue the request as a command. That also fails to motivate her, which surprises me, because I'm very used to people jumping when I give commands. Darcy failed to jump, too, yesterday.
I never exactly plead, but I ask her, over and over to step aside. Finally, Kassandra steps aside, and she and Kaiden follow us downstairs.
When Darcy gets downstairs, he sees that someone has slashed his tires. At first he rounds on me, asking if I know anything about it. I have my suspicion, but I'm not going to say it. Darcy's mad enough at Kassandra as it is. Kassandra and Kaiden come running downstairs. Darcy's losing it, screaming at all of us about his tires, about us forcing him to stay. He stalks upstairs to collect the rest of his things.
I stand in his doorway. For a few minutes, I don't say anything, but then I just say, very quietly, "Look, I just want to apologize for my cabal-mates. And for me, earlier. I don't want you to be angry with me. I'd like to still be friends, still see you sometimes."
He seems to calm down a bit, and, not really looking at me, says something about, "Yeah, maybe I'll see you around sometime."
So I tell him, "You know where I live, you know my phone number. That's all I want to say."
Things are starting to get better, and I'm starting to have hope that he may actually call me, but then Kassandra tries to take one more stab at making Darcy stay.
She followed him upstairs and made to blockade the stairway again. She wanted him to talk, she wanted to know why he was leaving; he'd promised to talk to us at dinner, but hadn't (he'd changed his mind); she wanted him to tell me he loved me.
At this point, he threatens to call 911.
I try to play peacekeeper at this point. I ask Darcy very quietly and calmly to put his phone away. I again ask Kassandra to step aside. She ignores me, intent on getting Darcy to talk. He threatens her, he yells, and at one point, he falters to a whisper, says something about "Don't make me stay, I can't ... I can't ... don't make me ... "
It just about breaks my heart.
Kaiden steps in and bodily moves Kassandra out of the way. I ask him to fix Darcy's tires, as he's the only one of us with Matter. The two of them go downstairs. I wait for them to be out of immediate earshot, and then I start in on Kassandra.
We get into an argument. She accuses me of not letting anyone else talk to him, she seems to think I've made things worse that way, while I know that without Kassandra's trying to force him to do things he didn't want to do, he would have been a lot calmer, a lot more likely to look back at this and be okay, as opposed to steaming mad.
She complained about not being able to do her part to help. I told her I had my suspsicions about who did his tires, and I was not with him the whole time, she'd told me she had spoken with him, and if she hadn't been able to do whatever she thought she could do by this time, that certainly wasn't my fault.
I said to her: "You seem to want to make everything better tonight, you have no concept of the long term. Me, I'm just content to think that if I let him go now that later he'll remember it and maybe be grateful and maybe be my friend again."
Then I heard his car door slam shut. I look at Kassandra and say, "We are not finished." And I run down the stairs after him.
I say to him, "I just want to say good-bye. And I wanted to apologize again for my cabal-mates. I'm sorry. I would like to see you sometimes, I would like it if you called me sometimes. And ... I want to ask you to not be stoned for the next week straight." I put a big emphasis on the word 'ask'. I don't want him to think I'm trying to force him to do anything. "It's not healthy."
He shakes his head. "I can't promise that."
"I know. I'm only asking. Listen, I don't agree with your decision, but it is your decision. And I just wanted to say good-bye. Please, give me a call sometime."
And then he drives off.

I go and sit on the porch for a while. Kaiden tries to comfort me a bit, but I'm not entirely sure what I need comforting for, exactly. Kaiden tries talking me into coming to a play with the cabal and Richard and Hope, who's apparently got a date with Kyril later tonight. They got an extra ticket, just in case they could get Darcy to stay. I say I'll think about it.
Jishne comes to talk to me a little later. He tells me he's around to talk to anytime. He also advises me not to hate Kassandra. I tell him I don't hate her, I'm just very pissed off at her at the moment.
I remember the extra ticket, so I invite Jishne to come along. He says someone needs to watch the Chantry. I say, "I understand that, but ... I'd like it if you did come." He asks if I'm going, and when I say yes, he said he would come.

We meet Hope again. I don't think I like her much. I try really hard not to be bitchy at her just because I'm still annoyed and pissed off and angry and ... sad? ... from earlier.

We go home, and Jishne makes some excellent dessert, and I invite Julia over, and we talk some. She can obviously tell I'm feeling out of sorts, and Darcy's absence is very obvious, but she can tell I'm not really ready to talk. So she plays emotional support. Gods bless her.

Saturday, November 12, 2005
I wake up and spend the morning mostly relaxing, writing. I haven't done much of that lately. I'm waiting till it's late enough to visit Callia. I want to ask her to keep an eye on Darcy, make sure he's okay, etc. He might guess I've put her up to it, but they've been friends for so long, that maybe he'll think she's just concerned. Which she will be, once she hears what's happened.
Around two-ish, I go down to Castro. And shit. There's a Gay Pride Parade going on, the streets are crowded, Callia's probably not in her apartment, but I'll never find her in this mess.
I decide to make my way toward her apartment anyway. If nothing else, I can leave her a note.
I am struck by the number of men wearing black suits. They have a very official attitude, a very don't-mess-with-me attitude. A very federal-officer attitude. I try to keep clear of them - not that I'm doing anything wrong or am likely to, but considering the political climate right now, I don't think I need to do much to catch their eye. Just look like a hippie, which I do, today.
I watch a bunch of them swarm over a guy, an older hippie with full beard and everything. I think it's terrible, since the most he was doing was probably smoking pot, but I am determined to mind my own business. I have nothing to do with them.
I happen to spot Kaiden on the other side of the street. I'm not surprised that he's here, but I am a bit surprised that I see him, with the crowds. He sees me, too.
He jogs over to the other side of the street as I notice a big, big man in leather walking around, scanning the people. The men in black seem to have gone.
"Did you see the men in black and that hippie?"
"Did you see that guy in leather?"
The man in leather stops suddenly, his gaze locked on a woman. I feel Kaiden sensing with Prime, and I kiss my pentacle as I probe the surrounding people, too. Mostly the big man and the woman.
The woman ... is strange. She gives out a normal amount of Prime, she's not a Mage, but ... she's ... different. I can't put my finger on how.
The man, however ... he puts out a lot of Prime. And he's turning his head toward us. I let go of Prime immediately, but it's too late. He knows who we are.
And, unfortunately, I can make a guess as to who he is. Technocracy. I wonder why the men in black didn't tip me off. I'd seen them before. I guess I've had a bit on my mind lately.
I look at Kaiden. He knows somethings up, I'm sure he felt the man in leather.
We run. I follow Kaiden into an alleyway. There are two dumpsters facing each other, and a fence at the end. We run behind one of the dumpsters.
A few seconds later, the big man steps into the alleyway. He walks up to the dumpsters, and shoots them. We move with the dumpster, trying to be as quiet as mice, praying (at least, I am) to all the Gods that he will turn around and walk away.
And he does. I guess he was thinking that if we were there, we'd have made noise. Or something. I don't care. I'm grateful to still be alive.
Kaiden goes up to the fence, suggests we go back to the Chantry. I tell him, "You go. I need to find Callia." I need to make sure she's okay.
He nods and climbs over the fence. I go after him after a few seconds. And my heart almost stops beating as I see a big, big man on a big, big motorcycle drive down the street past the alleyway. But he keeps driving. He didn't see me.

I head to Callia's apartment, avoiding the parade and most of all, where I was and the direction the man in leather is going now. I get to her building, and go in. When I get to her apartment, though, the door's been smashed in. I run in, and there's blood everywhere.
I check with Life, and it's a man's. Why is there a man's blood in Callia's apartment? I don't think Callia even has many male friends.
I follow the blood. It looks like something has been dragged. It goes into the bathroom, and there is the body of a man I have never seen before, in her bathroom.
Why is this man in my cousin's apartment? Why is there a man in my cousin's apartment?
Suddenly, I hear, "What the fuck ... ?" coming from the front room. It's Callia's voice. I run out to see her. "Callia, there's a dead guy in your bathroom."
We get the fuck out.
As we're running back to the Chantry, I get a mindlink from Kaiden saying, "Get back to the Chantry." I let him know we're on our way.

We weren't able to get a hold of Kassandra. I'm a little worried about her, but I don't really know what to do. I don't know where her family lives, and she doesn't answer her phone, either.
I do call my family. Everyone's okay. Kaiden calls Richard.
I talk to him, as well. I want to make sure Darcy's okay, and I think Richard may know where he is. He does, but he's not tellin' where. That's fine, I don't want to infringe on his sense of what he needs to do, I just want to make sure he's okay.

Kassandra comes home lateish, and when she finds out what's happened, she calls her Mentor. He seems to be a bit of a dick, but he is at least useful.
She tells us he said something about the Technocracy occasionally attempting to make a "clean sweep" of Mages, by getting rid of them all. He said to lay low and not leave the Chantry, and we should be fine.
We decide to invite Mages we care about to stay at the Chantry for a couple days, but it's so late by this time that we decide to wait till the morning. Callia stays the night.
We wake up and call our loved ones. I let Kaiden use my phone before I call my family, as he only has Richard to call and I have several phone calls to make. I tell him to tell Richard to ask Darcy (emphasis on the ask) to come to the Chantry as well.
He hands me back my cell phone, saying that Richard will come by after work and will try to get Darcy to come as well.
I call my family as well as Yellow Wolf (I'm not as worried about the rest of Moon Rising, they're not Mages). They all agree to come, and do straggle in as the day goes by.
Soon we're all there, except Richard and Darcy.

Richard comes over, but Darcy is not with him. And Richard looks slightly unsettled. I ask him about Darcy, and he says Darcy's not there and the place he was staying is trashed!
Deadly panic fills my heart. Oh, Darcy!
"Where was he staying?"
Richard looks ashamed (as well he might!) as he tells me he was staying in an apartment above the coffee shop. I turn to Kassandra and Kyril. I need Time and Correspondence. Kaiden and Volodya come, too.

We Correspond to Darcy's place. It is a mess. Two things I notice in particular: a spoon and a syringe; and a spot of blood. The blood is Darcy's, but there isn't much of it.
Kassandra checks his Life trail (that's a neat trick!), and it's a yellow trail that leads into the front room and ends. Life trails ending is not a good sign.
I tell her to check with Time.
She tells us that he was taken by the Technocracy (had hit his head on the counter, that's where the blood had come from) into the Spirit World.
"We're going, let's go now." Only Kassandra thinks we should go back to the Chantry to get supplies, because we don't know how long it will take to find him.
I agree, reluctantly. That dread and panic is still clawing at my heart. I had better find him soon, or it will claw my heart to shreds.

I give them one hour. Volodya and I gather food while Kyril gets us weapons somehow. I have him get me 15 knives. That puts me up to 25. I conceal them all. But other than that, I have nothing, so I carry food, with Volodya, while the others carry guns and ammunition.
We leave a note for Jishne (Kassandra leaves another note, I'm not sure who for) letting him know where we're going. He also advised staying in the Chantry. A note is better than telling him in person.
Then we Correspond back to Darcy's place and open up the portal to the Spirit World.
It looks just like San Francisco, only there are no people. (Well, we did pass some Native Americans, but they were clearly doing some ritual. They didn't live here.) We walked out of San Francisco, walked and walked for hours. Finally we got into some countryside, following Darcy's yellow trail. Suddenly, we found ourselves staring at a curtain of starry night. And I do mean a curtain. We were able to push one part aside and see the other side.
The other side showed a road leading through more countryside.
So we started following the road.

Not long after, we came to a fork in the road. The road we traveled on split into three roads. There was a signpost with three arrows pointing in the three directions, all three stating: "To the Arcadian Gate."
Most importantly, and most confunsingly, the yellow trail split into three ribbons along the three roads.
There was a scarecrow on the side of the road. As we sat there, wondering what was going on, it came to life.
I don't know if it's job was to confuse people or if it just enjoyed doing it, or if it really was related to the Lord of Misrule and sensed what a dangerous hurry we were in, but it refused to give a straight answer.
Finally, I told it (in as little detail as possible, for time) that I needed to save my friend. It said, and I quote: "Oh, a Quest of Love?"
So I said: "Sure." Anything to get it to help me.
It spun on its heels and suddenly became a cupid. I told the cupid the same thing, that I needed to save my friend. It said: "A Quest of Love?" "Sure." Stop asking questions, just help me!
But it told me I would find "my heart" by following one of the roads, which made me nervous, because I didn't want to find someone to fall in love with, I wanted to find Darcy!
I clarified that I was looking for a specific person, and the cupid spun on its heels and became a knight. I again explained the situation, and again, he asked if it was a Quest of Love, to which I replied, yes, sure, whatever, anything to get you to help me!
He was as unhelpful as the rest, and we decided that all roads led to the same place, which was why Darcy's trail followed all of them.
So we continued walking.
After about an hour, we came across some gates. They were guarded by a sphinx and a dragon. The sphinx gave us a riddle, and Kyril solved it. I'm still baffled by it.
The dragon, however.
It asked why I wanted to gain entrance. I told it I needed to rescue Darcy.
It asked (of course!) if it was a Quest of Love.
Now. I could say whatever I wanted to the scarecrow, to the cupid, to the knight. But a dragon.
I told it, yes, it is a quest of love.
It said: "Tell me your heart." Which I interpreted to mean, in what way is this a quest of love? In what way do you love him?
Again. A dragon.
So I closed my eyes and thought, trying to still the wild beating of my heart telling me to hurry, hurry, hurry. Then I had my answer.
"He is the most important person in the world to me."
Which stumped me. So I replied: "Why is the sky blue? I don't know. But he is."
The dragon bowed its scaly head and let us pass.

We passed through the gate and into Arcadia. Some more human guards stopped us and asked who wished entry into Arcadia. I told them what I had been telling everyone else: "I am Sulla Phoenix-fire, and I am trying to rescue a friend."
They let us in, and helped us find a carriage.
The carriage was fast. We zipped through Arcadia.

We reach the midnight curtain again, and hand the carriage back to the guards on that side of Arcadia (the same two guards). They hand me a paper, saying that I am allowed back into Arcadia at any time, because I treated Arcadia well.
We cross the midnight curtain into a world of cartoons. After trudging through the world for a time, Kyril tries imagining a spaceship. And a spaceship appears!
We hop in, but it doesn't go very fast. Even after we imagine a lightspeed button, we go faster than we could walk, definitely, but not much faster than the cars on the highway below us.

We get to the midnight curtain, abandon the spaceship and cross into a world with a huge tent in front of us. The trail leads directly into the tent.
We follow it, and walk into a three-ring circus. The ringmaster insists on a performance before he lets us go on, so I juggle knives. And I do a fucking good job.
We follow the yellow trail to three midnight curtains forming a U-shape. The trail splits again. We're pretty sure they'll all lead us to the same place, but Kassandra checks to see what each of them are.
As far as I can tell, they're all reflections or memories of the earth. The first is primordial, tropical jungle filled with dinosaurs (we guess). The second is the Summerlands, of grassy plains and such. The third is somewhat unpleasant.
We go through the Summerlands.
We come quickly upon a village. One of the men comes up to us, and I start to tell him about needing help finding my friend, when he starts making eyes at Kassandra. They have Scottish accents.
I find it impossible to get his attention again, so I go to find one of the women. She says she saw a ship fly above her, and I should go to the next village, since it was going in that direction, and they will be able to help us get across the water.
I ask her what kind of payment they would accept, and she says: "What do you think?" while giving me a meaningful look.
So now I'm slightly nervous, because I know Kassandra's got something with sex. I don't know what, but it's something. At least Kaiden can shapeshift ...

I gather the rest of my cabal (Kassandra's looking a tad grateful to me), and we go off in search of this village. After a while, Kassandra, Kyril and Kaiden are wearing out, so we stop for a few hours' rest.
Then, we come upon the village. Vikings. Obviously. I explained to Kassandra and Kaiden our need for females. Kassandra didn't say much.
I ask one of the men for help, and he says he will discuss it with the men, and we should stay the night.

In the morning, they tell us, they will take us across the water if we entertain the men. They tell us they can get us there in a day, to the land of the redskins. No one else can do it so fast.
So we agree. I agree for everyone.
Only, they wish us to do the dance of the seven veils, which puts Kassandra's mind at ease. She even teaches Kaiden and I a few belly-dancing tricks.
We dance, and the men are very entertained. They all grab their wives and rush to their tents after our dance.
And Kyril! Kyril was apparently very entertained by this dance as well, and also very interested in Kaiden with breasts. He grabs - her? - and runs off to the bushes.
Which leave Kassandra, Volodya and me sitting by the fire feeling kind of ... left out.
And this is new. Kassandra gets the Scottish guy all over her, Kaiden gets laid by Kyril, and Aidan? Aidan is sitting by the fire, without a partner or even potential partner. Very new.

We get on a longship, and in twenty-four hours, we land. We start after the yellow trail, and not long after this we find the ship.
We Correspond into the ship and start looking for Darcy. We follow the yellow trail. It leads to a cell ... and keeps going to a second cell. They both hold Darcy. There are three other prisoners. We get them all into the same cell, and Correspond out of the ship and onto the ground.
Then we step out of the Spirit World, and find ourselves back in the Chantry.

There are immediately several problems. The two Darcys both proclaim to be the right one, and both want to kill each other. Understandable, but we can't allow that till we know which is which. I tie them up with Air.
There's the problem, of course, of figuring out which Darcy is which. Kyril tries asking them questions, but they have the same memories.
And finally, the Chantry is empty. Devoid of all life. And, as far as our Life ranges go - which I'm not sure how far that is - there is no life anywhere, period.
Kaiden tries calling his Mentor, but there is no signal.

We check the two Darcys with Life, to solve that problem. One was born two days ago. When Volodya hears this, he pulls out his sword and cuts off his head. I can't watch even a Darcy-clone being killed. The body melts away.
I run over to the real Darcy to untie him as Kassandra starts panicking about having found the wrong Chantry. I don't even care. Darcy's alive, Darcy's okay ... Darcy's smiling at me. My heart breaks to see it.
"I told you I was the right one."
"I know, sweetheart, but the clone was saying the same thing, and you have to see that we couldn't tell right away."
And he looks at me, and smiles, and says, "Thank you."
As I untie his ropes, I notice that his skin is warm to the touch. I start to check him with Life, to see if he's got a fever, when suddenly the heat grows and I smell flames.

And I wake up. I am amazed when I look at the clock, for it's 9:00pm, and I've slept all night and all day. I lay back a minute, and feel tears trying to creep out of my eyes. All that hell I went through to rescue him ... and I would do it again, and ten times worse, to have him smile at me again.

I get up. I'm groggy, and I don't want to sleep anymore for a few more hours.
I visit Callia.
She agrees to keep an eye on Darcy.

I get back to the Chantry, and apparently, Kassandra's been gone all day, just like in my dream. I have trouble thinking of it as a dream. I have trouble thinking of it. I sit down with my cabal-mates, and Kassandra comes in. We play poker for a few hours, but I go to bed early.
Despite having slept all day, I feel as if I really have been traveling for days.

Sunday, November 13, 2005
I wake up at 6:00am to a pounding on my door. There's a lot of pounding, actually. I get up and open my door. Kassandra's out in the hall, and the rest of my cabal are all at their doors, looking out at her. She's babbling about clones and I don't even know what all else. I think she had a nightmare?
She claimed it was very real. Kyril especially was very annoyed at having been woken up.

Rowan says: "This is where we finished the game. As I was not able to attend the next week's game, I wrote out what Aidan did for that time. The link is below:"

Sunday, November 13, 2005 - Monday, November 14, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I wake up, slightly disappointed that my Avatar didn't visit me last night, but I figure that if she has nothing to say about this, then it's up to me. I have breakfast with Bridie before heading to Rich Coffee, Richard's shop.
I decide to head there first to see how accurate my Dream / Seeking was. I try sneaking up the stairs, but Richard catches me. I buy coffee instead, and wait till the shop fills up a bit with people.
While I'm waiting, I notice a strange man standing outside the window in the light rain. He's wearing a black hat with a huge brim, and a long black coat. After a second, I realize that, standing out in the rain, he's perfectly dry. I kiss my pentacle and try to sense him with Prime, but I can't tell anything. I avert my eyes till it's busy enough to try going upstairs again.
I sneak up and see the Manager's Office. It's unlocked. So I go in. There's no one there, and no sign of anyone living there. I head back downstairs (the strange man is gone), and sit down a moment to regroup. I was really hoping I could find him without the assistance of my cabal.
As I'm sitting there thinking, I spot Kassandra talking on her phone near a door probably leading to the kitchens. I go up and talk to her as soon as she's off the phone, and she tells me Kyril called to say he had something important to tell everyone when we got back. She also tells me she's making pastries and pies for Rich Coffee. I tell her of my (former) suspicions about Darcy living in the apartment upstairs.
Then I go back to the Chantry. I find Kyril easily, and don't see many other people, which is good. He finds Darcy through Correspondence, and I head out again.

I'm pretty nervous as I head up to his apartment. I knock on the door, but there's nothing. The door's unlocked, so I peek in. It's a bitty studio, and Darcy's on the couch in the corner, passed out.
I go in. The place is a mess. He looks like he's been there for months, not days. He has a needle sticking out of his arm. I pull it out and check him with Life, licking my fingers to touch his head. He's going to be passed out for a couple more hours.
I sigh and lean against the wall, trying to think. I consider leaving for an hour or two, and coming back when he's awake, but I'm not sure exactly how long he'll be out, and I'm not sure he'll let me in if he's awake and aware of me.
So I clean the place up. One strange thing, I find a card, with a picture of Kali on it, in her dark goddess of slaughter and death aspect. I set it aside.

When he finally wakes up, the apartment is much cleaner. I didn't run a vacuum or anything, but the pizza boxes and other trash are gone.
When he opens his eyes, I get really nervous. I don't know what's wrong with me! He doesn't kick me out, but he is a bit cold as he asks what I want.
I tell him I want to talk to him, but I was hoping he'd be a bit more awake and alert for it. He gets up to make himself some coffee, and offers me some, while I try to get myself to say what I've come to say.
I beat around the bush for a while, but finally, when it seems like he might be getting mad at me, I tell him. "Darcy, I love you."
He starts talking about friends, etc., and I start getting angry. I tell him, "Look, you don't have to believe me, you don't have to return my feelings, but don't misunderstand me. Especially not deliberately."
He of course asks what brought this on, and so I tell him about the Dream that wasn't. At least a bit. If he's interested, I can tell him the rest later. But it's not important right now.
He tells me he has to think about it. He says he'll call me tonight. So I leave. And I'm ashamed at my cowardice, that I didn't try hugging him, or even touching him, let alone anything else. But, you know what they say about discretion and valor. Maybe I was being discrete. Or cowardly.
I continue to think about this as I walk out the apartment building. My thoughts are cut off short by the man standing across the street, his big hat covering most of his face, still standing dry in the rain.
I grab my pentacle and kiss it, again trying to check his Prime levels. And I'm nearly knocked off my feet at how much Prime he holds.
Now, of course, he knows I know about him, and I'm a little frightened for a minute, thinking about my dream and the man in leather. But he tips his hat at me, and I decide, maybe feeling somewhat reckless, to cross the street to talk to him.
He tells me he is a Stranger, a Watcher in the Night, and that he Watches my Chantry and my cabal. He tells me the worshippers of Kali are out to kill us, for a member of my Chantry killed a member of theirs, and they are out for blood revenge. He tells me my whole Chantry, and Darcy, need to stay in the Chantry tonight, or we will die. He advises us to attack in the morning, while they are not expecting it.
He also hints that they were the ones who killed the others: Issac, Devon, Jason and Miyu.
I ask if he's planning on sticking around much longer, hoping that if I can get Darcy to see him, Darcy will actually believe me. But he has to go. And he does, when I turn my head for a moment. He's gone.
I go back up to Darcy's apartment. I apologize, and explain as well as I can, but since I don't really know who or what - the Stranger - is, I have a bit of trouble.
He of course (big-headed lout!) thinks it's an attempt to get him back to the Chantry with me. I may love him, but I'm more than willing to give him some space.
He gets a little upset, telling me not to pressure him, and my response is, "What can I do to convince you that's not what this is? I'll stay away from you as much as you want, I just want you to be safe."
He agrees to come, but very reluctantly.
We stop at Rich Coffee, to pick up Kassandra. Richard lets her go, and we get going. She's met the Stranger, too. She calls him the Watcher.
She tells me it was Volodya that killed one of them. The guy he killed had a tattoo of Kali.

When we get to the Chantry, everyone's there. Darcy wants to leave immediately, but I ask him to stay long enough to hear everyone's reports, since Kyril had something to say, as well.
I tell them about the Stranger, with Kassandra filling in a few bits and pieces, and Kyril tells us he was looking at Technocracy files on-line (on a special internet, I remember this from my dream, the Digital Web), and Kassandra and her mother and he himself were high on the Most Wanted list, with her mother listed as a possible vampire!
She skirts around it, looking slightly uncomfortable. She makes some good arguments, I guess, only I want to know why her mother's only seen at night. Maybe she's got good reasons, but that seems highly suspicious.
When we get done, Darcy goes up to his old room, and we talk some more, about our plans. Jishne joins us after a while. Kyril spends a lot of time between our councils of war and his computer, trying to find more information for us, about the worshippers of Kali, about other people we care about, and about his Mentor.
He shows us this clip from some camera he's hidden in her store somewhere, with a probable agent walking into her shop asking questions about Kyril.
My cabal decides to send Kaiden to the shop to check her Life, to see if she's a clone or not.
After an hour or two of discussing and info-finding, he shifts to a blonde woman and steps through Kyril's portal into the alley behind the shop. We watch on his computer as he enters the shop.
Suddenly, his Mentor pulls out a gun and shoots at Kaiden, but misses. The camera runs off at the gunshot. Kyril opens another portal, and Kassandra and I jump through. Kyril can't go there, the Technocracy wants him to too much.
Kassandra has a gun, and I pull out my little knife, and slice my palm a little. I smear my blood over my hand as I embrace Life, waiting for her to turn the corner. Kaiden comes running around, and then Kyril's mentor.
I send Life slamming into her body to stop her heart at the same time that Kassandra shoots her gun. She drops. Her body oozes into a weird clone-slime, and we run back through the portal.
Kassandra seems a little confused, because she missed with her gun. I'm ecstatic! I just stopped her heart with Magick! Fucking awesome!

Kyril prints up a lot of information about the worshippers of Kali (they also have a bunch of other names, but I'm afraid I think of them as worshippers of Kali, after talking to the Stranger), as well as pages about Kassandra's mentor. Literally pages. I'm curious about that. But whatever.
With Voormas, Grand Master of this Chantry, who hasn't been seen in twentry years, and the guy Volodya killed, there are eleven people listed as belonging to the worshippers of Kali. There is also a spy among them, a spy for the Council of Nine.
Darcy comes down as the rest of us are talking. We tell him what's up, what we're planning on doing. He says he'll come, but only as healer. He doesn't fight. Jishne also will come.
Then he asks me to come see him after we're done, and he goes into the party room to sit on the couch.
We finish up, and my insides are turning, turning. I go to the party room, and stand there, waiting.
He says, "You love me?" He asks why I hadn't said anything about it for all the years we'd known each other. I reminded him that it was the dream. He seemed really ... unsure.
And then Jishne makes his presence known behind us. I turn to see what he wants. He asks if I'd like to go to the Horizon Realm with him again tonight.
My heart stops and I close my eyes as I feel everything I'd worked so hard for crashing down around me and slipping through my fingers. I ask him if we can talk about it in a minute.
Then I turn back to Darcy, who has a terrible look of cold calmness on his face. Not a good sign.
I'm desperate. This is something I need, just as surely as Darcy needed to leave, I know it. I can't handle him leaving again, walking out of my life again.
So when he asks about Jishne, I tell him, when in another situation, I would have reminded him that it was none of his business. He asks if I've fucked any of my cabal-mates, and I do tell him it's none of his business, but I answer the question.
He explodes. "How is it not any of my business!? You told me you loved me, I think it is my business!"
I tell him it was before. Before I knew I loved him, before I had any idea he cared about me as more than a student and friend.
He calms down a bit, but only a bit, and asks if we'll be exclusive. I close my eyes again, feeling so much slip away from me. But I had already decided. "I will try Darcy. I can't promise anything, though, for such a sudden change. But I will try."
Then he tells me he will allow no slip-ups. I start to feel panic, and for an instant I wonder if he's really worth it, how much I really love him. I tell him that's a bit harsh, that not all relationships are like that, but he insists. So I bend.
And he goes up to bed. In my bed. I'm not tired yet, though. And I still need to talk to Jishne.
I see him on my way out of the party room. I explain to him, as gently as I can, about what just happened. I hate doing it, because I really do like Jishne.
Then I go to try to eat some dinner before going to bed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
We wake up early, and gather together, to go do battle. Kyril opens a portal and we go through, and stand outside a humungous mausoleum. Kyril's got some knockout gas bombs, and those turn out to be way useful. I stop a few hearts. We kill or knock out everyone within the Chantry, which, by the way, is two more people than we were expecting.
We then find the spy, Theora, and we tie another guy up, to get information out of earlier. Everyone else, we kill. Darcy helps heal us all, and then Theora promises to take as many of us into the Horizon Realm as want to go, to take out the Grand Master, Voormas. She refuses to face him, though.
Darcy and Kyril stay behind, and the rest of us go to the horizon Realm. I understand why it is that Theora doesn't want to face him. He's good. And his Horizon Realm is anti-Life, so my heart-stopping spells don't work.
He pulls out some blades and goes after us. I get cut, and then everything goes black.

Rest of November 16 until November 23
Rowan says: "Another bluebooking session! View the link below for what Aidan did for that week."

Bluebook 11.17 - 11.23

Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I awake, feeling much better. Enough so that I go down to breakfast for the first time in ages. Volodya and Kaiden come down around the same time. I'm feeling a lot better, and not just physically. Now that things are settling down, I'm finding myself very happy, very cheerful. Like Julia always is. Kind of.
Kyril, however, is not in a good mood. I mean, he's always a bit anti-social, but this morning, he's positively touchy. I don't know what happened to him the last few days, but I figure I'll give him a day or so to chill out, to get over it, to go back to his normal quiet but civil self, and if he doesn't, and if he doesn't talk to us about it, then I'll have to figure something out.

There's a knock on our door, and the Medusa-head doesn't give warning of who's there. I'm instantly on the alert, even as Volodya gets up to answer the door. We crowd into the receiving area as Kassandra comes downstairs. I tell Volodya not to answer it, don't answer it.
Then we hear a voice from the other side of the door. It's a deep, Russian voice, a man's voice, and it says, "I know you're there. Open the door, or I will open it for you." I hide myself strategically, behind a particularly bushy potted plant, so I can see everything, but people have to look hard to see me. Volodya opens the door.
A man with long hair and a nice hat walks in, followed by two rather large men. Volodya seems to recognize them. "We have come to investigate what happened last week. You destroyed the house Helekar. We only wish to know what happened, there will be no repercussions."
Volodya takes them to the sitting room-ish area, and only then do I emerge from my hiding place. Volodya gives me a look to let me know it's alright. I sit across from him as he says, "Now, tell me what happened."
I tell him the bare facts. I don't go into all the details, and he doesn't seem to need them. He does say that he is surprised to see us all alive, to which I reply, with some bitter humor after my long imprisonment in bed, "So are we."
He grants us a boon, for ridding the Euthanatos of these renegade Euthanatoi. I start to gather that he's important in that Tradition. Maybe even the head of the Euthanatos? He promises to help us when we need it.
He asks if we have a Chantry leader, and I tell him, Jishne. He asks me to repeat myself, and I do. He shakes his head and tells me that is impossible, Jishne has been dead fifty years.
Kaiden and Kassandra start protesting, no, that can't be so, he's living here. I, however, lean forward, and ask if he has proof.
His own eyes. Shot in the gut, fifty years ago.
We tell him Jishne is here, and he asks where. The Horizon Realm, of course. He asks to go to the Horizon Realm. There I start getting nervous again. So I check him with Mind, to see if he's telling the truth, to see if he means no harm.
I think Kassandra tried something, as well, for all of a sudden, she fell down and felt around her as if she was blind.
But I was satisfied with what I had found. So I stood, and offered to take him to the Horizon Realm. We go, and Kaiden comes with.
The guardian does not let me in. Jishne knows we know. The man goes up to the guardian, and I don't catch his name, haven't asked for it, either, but I do hear Oracle for the Euthanatos. Ah! I was right.
The guardian lets him in!

The Horizon Realm is empty. There is a wide field, with a large dirt patch where the house had been. There is a great tear in the sky. Jishne has fled.
We troop back to the real world, and he asks me if we have given them blood. I think back to Andell (also a clone!) telling us he needed our blood in order to cast in the Horizon Realm, and I give him an ironic smile, and tell him we did, for a ritual.
He tells us he must mark us. He gives us each a slash across the arm, a scar our clones will not have, if they have made clones of us, which is likely.
We get Darcy and Kyril, so he can mark them. He tells us there is likely to be a Sweep, and we should stay in the Chantry for the next couple days.
And then he leaves, after helping us fix the Horizon Realm, and fixing the wards he broke (why the Medusa didn't warn us). He told us the guardian was back to normal and should be chosing a new Chantry leader soon.

Leaving us quite bewildered. We decide to invite our loved ones to the Chantry for the next couple days. Darcy suggests inviting everyone in person, so we can check their Life. Good idea!
We tried to leave, but the door wouldn't open. Suddenly, we heard a noise from the direction of the kitchen. The Horizon Realm guardian came into the entryway, and held his sword, hilt-first, to Kaiden, bowed, and called him "Chantry Master."
Kaiden! I was chosen leader of the cabal, Fire of the cabal! Although, when I think about it, and about the Chantry's history, that makes sense. The guardian was chosen by a Son of Ether. Matter Mages. Kaiden is the only one of us with Matter.

So then we leave to collect our loved ones, or at least warn them.
Mostly it wasn't a big deal, just going to people, explaining in as little detail as possible, and promising more details tonight. And checking to make sure they're okay.
When we got to James' house, there was a black car in front, and the door was wide open. There were just a few of us, so we didn't think we could do anything. I personally thought it was too late.
But after that we go to Bridie's, and since they say they will be leaving, I decide to tell them everything. Everything I was going to tell people after. James was only part of that everything.
And they rush off to James'. So we follow, after sending Callia and Richard to the Chantry. We survive, all but James.
But. Before James, we visited Gwennie. She wasn't there, we decided to come back after everyone else. Before Gwennie, however, was Julia.
She opened the door, and we exchanged our greetings, and I checked her for Life. She was one year old. Oh, Julia!
I was in shock. I played it cool for a minute, just saying we'd been in the neighborhood, and I wanted to see if she wanted to hang out over the weekend.
But then I collected myself enough to embrace Life (at least she's a Sleeper, and can't sense Magick), and stopped her heart.
Oh, Julia! I'm so sorry!
And she melted.

When everyone's gathered, we go and create a new Horizon Realm. Kaiden creates a beautiful place, with mountains and a river, and five houses, one for everyone, with me and Darcy sharing. There's a great tree in the middle of the circle made by our houses (Volodya's house is a cave in the mountains), and between my house and Kaiden's is a large circular clearing with a bonfire area and drums. There's a faerie ring and fae, unicorns, centaurs, merpeople. There's a proper grave site for the people we've lost (near Volodya's cave). There's a pantheon where all the gods have been invited to come. Or at least, minor spirit servants of theirs, anyway.
It's great.
Darcy and I start moving our stuff in.

Later on, I visit Kyril, and ask him to do a search on Julia on his Digital Web. He tells me nothing's known, but that he'll look for updates.

I've started checking everyone's Life when they come back after having left my sight. I'm not sure I like this, but after so much has happened, I don't want to be caught off-guard again.

Later that night, we were all sitting around dejectedly, and Kaiden suggested a bit of a party. It never got really rocking, but people were able to drink and listen to music and try to pretend to forget.
I go to bed early.

Thursday, November 24, 2005
We wake up, and there is something different. The air is static.
We all wander upstairs (or downstairs, for our guests) and converge, all talking about the strange feel to the air. We're all in a front room, and I glance out the window and notice some people taking pictures. I look back into the room and see that I'm not the only one to have noticed this.
After a little debate, we ask Michael to go down and act as the man of the house, and see what they're doing, because he's the only non-Mage here.
He agrees, and we watch from the window, with him and Kaiden and I in a mindlink. I check the Prime levels of the people taking pictures, but they're not Mages. They say they are just visitors, and they thought the house was pretty. Michael told them it was private property and he didn't want pictures taken, so could they please leave before he had to call the cops.
They left.
But one of them shook hands with Michael before leaving, and as his sleeve pulled up I saw a tattoo of a blue A within a circle.
When Michael gets back and relates what happened to those not in the mindlink, Kaiden turns to Kyril and says something about the blue tattoo. She didn't see it as clearly as I did, though, and I fill in the meager details I have.
Apparently that mark has been seen on plenty of people following Mages around, but the Virtual Adpets do not know what organization they work for.
While he's doing that, I ask him to check on Julia again, and he finds that she's on the list of Mage associates captured by the Technocracy, but it is unknown whether she is alive or dead.

So I decide to go to the library and check out books on the Technocracy. I read as much as I can, mostly paying attention to the details of what the Technocracy does to Mages (kills sometimes, captures more often, re-educates always and usually clones and sends the clones back out), where their captives are kept (the Umbra, where the ship was heading in my Seeking), if it's possible to un-re-educate them (do a better job with Mind than the person who re-educated them), and other things.
I vowed to protect Julia, and if I could not protect her, to avenge her. I need to know as much about the Technocracy as I can to accomplish any of that.
I will try to rescue her, especially if Kyril finds out that she is still alive (but I'll go if I can anyway), and if I cannot, then I will have to think how best to avenge her.

Later that day, we find out where the Jishne-clone is (outside the burned husk of Richard's coffee shop) with Kyril's Correspondance, and me and my cabal go there. I'm not really sure why all of us go, but after everything that's happened, I can understand us feeling a need for together-ness.
Kyril shoots the clone with his nifty Correspondance trick: open a portal going from close to the gun to close to a person, and shoot. He held the gun close to him so no one would see it, but if there had been a body left over the entrance and exit wounds would have made it seem like the bullet had come from another direction.
Very neat.

Much later, my cabal discusses making an alliance with the local non-Technocracy non-Sleepers. Kyril had called Hope to make sure she survived the past night's ... festivities. She was not in the store, but her ... bouncer? I'm not sure who Kyril talked to ... said she was fine.
But anyway, then Kassandra mentions that whoever Kyril was talking to is a werewolf, and maybe we should try joining up with the werewolves.
Then Volodya mentions that there were some werewolves in this one park, and that it would be a wise idea to bring burgers along.
So somehow, we end up stopping by Burger King on the way to the park instead of going to Hope's store, and I can't really say I'm exactly disappointed with the way that worked out. Sure, Hope wasn't there when we called, but she could have come back, and I'm still not sure I like her much. Or how far I trust her.
We buy twenty burgers, because Volodya, who hadn't had burgers when he visited and had not tried to visit again with burgers, had no idea how many werewolves there were or how many burgers to bring.
When we get there, a dirty old homeless man comes up to us and starts asking about burgers. Volodya looks as if he recognizes him, so I hand him one.
I end up giving him three. The first was so he wouldn't kill us, the second was the fee to let us pass and for him to take us to "Mother Theresa," and the third seemed to be some kind of a bribe or a tip.
He brings us to a dirty old lady with a shopping cart, and calls her Mother Theresa. (No one else seems interested in the burgers.)
She guesses that we want to talk about the night before. Apparently, there were losses in her group, as well. However, she is distrustful of Mages, and I don't really blame her.
She doesn't understand the fine distinction between Mages and the Technocracy. So we try to explain that there are some people who use Magick that we do not consider to be our kin.
We explain what we wanted, and she says she will talk to her fellows tonight, and that we should meet in the park tomorrow afternoon.
As we leave, I hand the bag of the rest of the burgers to our guide, and tell him that it's a future toll. He's very pleased. (Asks if I'm married, actually.)
Friday, November 25, 2005
Today is grey, drizzly, terrible. The dead, static feeling is still there and stronger. It's a terrible place to be, a terrible time, a terrible season. I hate November. I hate November in San Francisco.
I mean, true, 2003 and 2004 weren't as terrible as 2002 and this year, but ... bad shit still happened. More fights in November than in any other month. Little stuff. Anyway, I get up, happy-ish despite the grey cloud of horror that is November hanging over my head, despite James' death and Julia's clone. Because of Darcy. Darcy who loves me and is here with me, who comforted me in the night when I couldn't sleep, when I cried for Julia and James. And for myself. For failing Julia.
Oh, Julia ...

We spend a lot of the morning talking, my cabal and I. Discussing my new grand scheme.
My family goes to inspect their homes, see if they are noticed.
My new grand scheme:
Unite the Mages and as many of the other Magickal folk as we can, and fight the Technocracy. Create a network, a pool of Mages, a group who shares knowledge and experiences to help everyone better fight the Technocracy. Create alliances with the werewolves, the fae, the vampires if we can, to help us fight them, so we can help them fight.
Mother Theresa said she had lost some in the Sweep. Obviously, the Technocracy is not just concerned about Mages. My cabal (and Darcy) is impressed. They agree to help.
I tell them also about going after Julia. I believe they will help. Darcy will.

About an hour before we were to go to meet the werewolves, our doorbell rings and the medusa head shows us a man in a dark trenchcoat, short hair and dark glasses. It does not attack, though, so we must assume that while he looks like a Technocracy agent, he is not.
We answer the door.
He is a werewolf.
He introduces himself as Seth of the Glass Walkers. I can only assume that that is a clan of the werewolves. Like a Tradition.
He tells us the alliance is on. The conditions:
1) We do not enter the werewolf park on the full moon. (Like that'll be hard)
2) We do not use the resources of the park. (It seems they have a node there)
3) Seth is our liaison, and he will be staying at the Chantry. (Ermmm ... a werewolf in our Chantry? That'll go over real well ...)
4) We must provide a representative, who will attend every other Moot. (They have two Moots a month, and one is the full moon, which, per condition one, obviously cannot be attended)
5) Any requests we make of the werewolves go through Seth and Mother Theresa.

He moves in, and I show him to a room.
I go back downstairs, and we discuss the representative. I'm all for the job (I am so interested in seeing a Moot!), but then Kassandra reminds me we have yet to speak to the fae, and ... I'm fond of the fae.
And they seem to be fond of me.
So Kyril is the representative.

Richard has moved into the Chantry. When my family members call me back, to let me know everything's okay, I'm planning on asking them (my cousins, at least) if they wish to stay in the Chantry, as well.

Seth and I talk about the fae. Werewolves and fae have a decent relationship, and that's about all I know about werewolves, and that's from my fae study.
The werewolves have already made an alliance with the fae, and Seth speaks with the werewolf-fae liaison (Peter), and we arrange for Seth and I to go to Fae to speak with them. We go at six o'clock.
My cabal and I decide to host a party tomorrow evening, to celebrate the alliance we have set and the one we hope to set. Seth agrees to invite a few of the werewolves.

Until six, I have Kaiden teach me about Mind. If I'm going to rescue Julia, I'll also need to make sure she's no longer re-educated, so we don't have a Technocracy spy living with us.
Which means I need to know as much about Mind as I can.

Seth and I drive to a cliff overlooking Alcatraz and get out of his car. He walks up to the edge of the cliff, and I follow, pointing to Alcatraz as I ask, Are we to go there?
He does this cool thing with his (huge) knife and stuff in strange words, and this moonstone bridge appears in front of us, arcing to Alcatraz, which is now Fae.
We go to Fae.
It's amazing. It is Fae. I can't describe it.
We speak with the Baron. Baron Gwenwynn. He is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. A sidhe. Of course.
I give him my Magickal name, Sulla Phoenix-fire.
He greets me.
We speak of the Technocracy. He has heard of what happened. He has also heard my name. From his Captain-of-the-Guard, Jagir.
I smile when I hear this. I like Jagir. And apparently, he has spoken highly of me.
The Baron tells me he will give me his answer in one hour. I am to refresh myself.

I eat delightful food and spend my time mostly with mouth agape. If we get a fae liaison, I hope it's Jagir, my one friend in this whole land.

When I am summoned back to the Baron, Jagir is there. I smile at him, and curtsy, as he nods his head in that very respectful way of his.
A sidhe might be beautiful, but I think I like a troll better.
The Baron Gwenwynn tells me the Mage-Fae alliance will begin in two days' time, after the marriage of Sulla Pheonix-fire to Jagir.
And the world shatters around me. I can hear pieces of my life cracking, I swear, like thin ice.
I tell him I am not free to marry, I have another.
It is apparently custom. When a woman is sent to make an alliance, she is wed to a male Fae. It does not matter that I did not know this. "Ignorance is no excuse."
I ask for time.
He gives me 24 hours.
I ask to speak with Jagir before I go, and he grants this.

We speak, outside of the ears of the Baron. He calls me Lady fair, and kneels. He tells me that if I refuse to marry him, the alliance will not go through and his honor will be besmirched. He will be seen as not worthy of marriage. Of anything, I think.
I tell him: "This alliance is very important. I do not want to hurt your honor, and I am not free to marry."
When he bows his head and apologizes, explaining that the tradition is very old and hasn't been used in some time, if ever, I see he has not understood me. So I ask more plainly, "Can you help me?"
He tells me he will do what he can, and that I should meet him here in six hours. I agree and Seth and I go back.

We get back to the Chantry, and I gather everyone together and tell them what happened. (Everyone except Richard, anyway, who's sleeping)
I tell them about needing to marry Jagir and Darcy starts to interrupt me with stuff about how I'm not getting married. I tell him to let me finish talking. I think my voice is a little harsh, for he looks ... taken aback. So does Kassandra, actually.
I soften my tone and tell him I want to finish speaking so he doesn't panic.
I tell him Jagir is looking into a way to help us get everything. He calms down a bit, but when I tell them I'm going back in six hours with Seth, he insists that he's coming.
I think it's a bad idea, and Seth does as well, but tells me that Darcy is my "mate," and he does have the right to come. At least in the werewolf way of thinking.
Darcy gets pissed off and as I'm saying that I think it's a bad idea, but you can come, he storms off to the Horizon Realm saying, "Go meet the man you're going to marry."
Troll, Darcy.

Richard comes down and meets Seth for the first time. Hears about our plans about alliances with the werewolves for the first time.
Considering I was hoping we could hide everything from people for a time, I have to do some quick thinking to not hurt his feelings.
Fortunately, with the coffee-shop burning down, I have an iron-clad reason for not going to him earlier. He was very upset about his shop.

A little while later, Seth tells us there is an owl at the window. I open the window and it is from Fae. From Jagir, to be precise. He has found a solution!
"Seth, we're leaving!"

When we get to the cliff and he opens the moonstone bridge, I tell him he has got to teach me that trick. If he can. And he tells me he cannot. So then I ask about the knife, cuz he's pretty handy with it, even though it looks to be sized for a werewolf. And he says he can teach me to fight. Killer.
I meet Jagir in Fae. His solution: a duel. To the death. Darcy must kill Jagir.
Yagir is willing. He argues: the alliance will save many people, will bring many soldiers to our fight. He is but one soldier, and I am in love. An honorable sentiment, truly, but ...
I tell him that Darcy will not fight. I don't believe Darcy even knows how to fight.
What I don't tell him: if Darcy kills, he is no longer a Mage. He loses his Magick. He cannot and will not fight. Jagir tells me it is the only way.
I tell him I will talk it over with Darcy, and that I will see him tomorrow. He tells me he will wait for me.
I go to give him a hug, but he does not hug me back. I step away, slightly puzzled, and worried I've done something wrong. I ask him, Do fae not hug? And he tells me that I am not his to hold.
Something ... strange ... happens in my heart. I'm not sure. Sorrow that no matter how honorably we pull this off, someone is going to be hurt? I'm not sure.
I'm somewhat confused by my own reaction, and not sure how to respond to what he said, so after a little bit, I tell him that Mages hug friends as well as lovers.
He simply tells me again that he will wait, calls me Lady fair, and himself my humble servant, and kneels before me, one knee to the ground, one fist to his heart and the other on the ground.
I need to know more about the fae!

We return to the Chantry. Darcy and I go to the Horizon Realm to talk. I tell him: "Our three options: No alliance. I marry. You fight Jagir to the death."
He tells me, "None of those are acceptable options. I cannot kill. I cannot lose you."
We go up to talk to the rest of our Chantry, hoping they might have ideas.

They do. The one idea that seems the most viable, and only by a little bit, is Kassandra's idea to provide a substitute bride. I'm not comfortable with it, but I consider it, anyway.

Seth goes to bed, and then I do, around two. Darcy comes with me. I light my Avatar incense, Sizzle, before laying down, hoping Blaize will contact me. I do not sleep well.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I watch Darcy and Jagir duel. Darcy refuses to fight, and defends himself merely. Jagir refuses to win, and it is so obvious that Darcy has never held a sword before and that Jagir is holding back on purpose. And the Baron is getting angry. I watch the Baron point to the duelists, but I cannot tell exactly which one he points to, my angle is bad, and he shouts, Kill him!, and archers appear at the corner of my vision, and I awake before the first arrow flies. A word, a phrase resonantes in my head almost as if Blaize is speaking to me. The word sacrifice is on my lips. "A sacrifice must always be made." It's still dark out, I don't think I've slept more than two hours, but I don't go back to sleep. I sit up, and hug my knees, and try not to cry, try to think instead. A sacrifice must be made, but which one? The sky is dark grey, instead of pitch black when Darcy sits up. We sit for a minute, neither one saying anything. He did not have an easy night, either. Finally, I tell him that our three options are no alliance, I marry, or he fights. He says, "I can't fight, Sulla." And I just tell him, "I know." And I start to tell him what I thought about in the night. If he fights, either he or Jagir will die. I don't want him to die, and I don't want him to fight. And the alliance is too important. He knows that. A handful of Mages and two handsful of werewolves will not be able to fight the Technocracy effectively. Effectively. We'll probably be crushed before we can even start to pass on what we learn. And that's the most important part. With the fae on our side, we will have more people, more information, and, most importantly, more chance of swaying others to join us. Kassandra mentioned that the vampires might be more willing to join the werewolves if the fae are on our side, as well. Neither of us wants to speak the terrible truth that is growing between us. Finally, he gets up, and says he wants to go out into the city and think. I watch him get dressed. My heart is breaking. He tells me to do what I must. Before he leaves, I tell him I love him. He kisses my forehead and tells me he loves me. I curl up in bed and don't move for a while. How long I lay like that, I don't know. But finally the sky is light, and I go up to the kitchen. I have decided. And I want to try to eat before I go to tell Jagir. I don't pay a lot of attention to what goes on in the kitchen for a while. Kassandra, Kyril and Kaiden are there. Kyril's got his computer. Kassandra starts talking to me. I struggle to listen, to pay attention. I do. She says something about calling Gwennie. Oh, yes. I was going to call Gwennie and see if she was interested in being a substitute. I had thought about that last night. I tell Kassandra I'm not going to call Gwen. I don't know how much I actually say aloud, and how much is in my head. Gwen wouldn't consent to marry Jagir. She is family, and she would help me if I needed it, but in this ... she would not do this. And I can't do that to Yagir. And if it had been possible, he would have mentioned it. I do remember Kassandra saying that she thinks he doesn't think in sneaky ways. I think I got somewhat upset about that. Of course he doesn't think in sneaky ways, he's a troll. If he does something dishonorable, he wastes away and dies. If it had been possible and honorable, he would have told me. If it's not possible, then we can't do it. If it's not honorable, I'd rather he died by Darcy's sword than by dishonor. Kaiden tries to call his mentor, but I'm not sure why. I'm still very fuzzy. I do remember an argument starting about finding his mentor ... I guess he didn't respond to Kaiden's mindlink? It takes me a while, but I realize there's something I want to add to this argument, to say to Kyril. Finally, the word floats through the dark jelly of my mind. "Why don't you use Correspondance?" I guess he does, because I do remember Kyril telling Kaiden that his mentor had died. Had been killed. I assume it's the Technocracy. We owe them so much. I think Kyril tried to get in contact with other Mages. I kind of wish he hadn't. I really tried to pull myself together for this, because after finding out that no one in the area survived the Sweep but the Mages in the Chantry, I hadn't really re-thought my plan for talking to people. It didn't matter, I guess. We did post an announcement, because Kyril found out the Sweeps are continuing, saying that San Francisco is safe for anyone who wishes to shelter here. It might just bring the Technocracy down on us, and maybe no one will come because they might think it's a trap, but maybe someone will prefer to step into a possible trap rather than face certain capture and cloning. I eventually get up from the table and find Seth. I ask him if we can get into Fae without the Baron knowing and find Jagir. His response: We did it last night. But, he was waiting for us. Can we find him again? Seth tells me he's probably still waiting. Why would he? And then I remember his words to me: I will wait for you. Oh, Jagir! We go quickly. We cross the moonstone bridge and there Jagir is, still kneeling, looking as if he hadn't moved since last night. I can't describe how that sight makes me feel. I don't even know if I know a word for it. And for the first time, I start to think that just maybe my decision is the right one. Which of course I don't want to think because I don't want to be married right now, and I can't handle the look on Darcy's face when he left me this morning. (I think that this exclusive business with Darcy is hard enough to handle, I don't know if I could even contemplate marriage with a troll. But that is what I'm doing, isn't it?) I'd wanted to explain things to him in the best possible way, to say straight out that I have come to marry. But for some reason, the sight of him still on his knees - what did he think about all night? - addles my wits. What little wits I have to begin with. So I beat around the bush a bit, but finally tell him, the alliance is probably the most important thing I can do right now, and Darcy cannot kill. He asks if I am okay with marrying when I have no love and no interest. Define interest. Oh, Jagir ... He says that Darcy has made a "foolish mistake." He offers to tell the Baron, and I ask what one wears to a fae wedding. I don't know. Maybe I really am that shallow. Maybe I just want to pretend this is normal. He tells me a dress will be waiting. And then he tells me something about what the fae believe. Love is more important than anything. "Life bows to the altar of Love," he says. "Love will always find a way." And when he talks of love, I can't help but think of Darcy, which I haven't been wanting to do. I hate to tell him, I will marry you, and then back out not half an hour later, but he's practically asking me to reconsider. I tell him I will be back. He does not say that he will wait this time. I do not try to hug him again. Seth and I race back to the Chantry. I am so confused. Jagir's honorable way out is not acceptable to me, both for Darcy's loss of his Magick and his sense of self, and for Jagir's death. Jagir seems to find the idea of marriage where there is no love unacceptable, while Darcy ... oh, Darcy ... And Aidan? I love Darcy, my heart is breaking at the thought of not being with him. And yet ... Maybe I was resigning myself to marriage, maybe it's desperation speaking, maybe ... maybe it's Yagir, but ... If I had never met Darcy, never fallen in love with him or he with me, I would shudder at the thought of marriage, of such a binding cage, but ... I would do it. And I could see myself being happy. With Jagir. We get to the Chantry, and I start calling for Kyril, racing around the house. I need to find Darcy, and he's the only one with Correspondance. I wander around for a while, and can't find him. Then he steps out of nowhere. I get "Kyril, I need to find Darcy" out before Darcy steps out of nowhere behind us. Kyril looks amused. I ask Darcy if we can talk. In the Horizon Realm. I ask what that was with Kyril. It had WEIRD written all over it. He brushes it off, though. It wasn't that weird, apparently; Kyril just wanted to chat. Huh? Anyway, I ask him what he's been thinking about, in the city. And then he tells me the one thing I'm really not prepared for: He's going to fight. And for the second time in less than 24 hours, my world spins. He asks, You can still love me as a Consor, right? Oh, Darcy, that's not the problem. Oh, Darcy ... I tell him what Jagir told me, and that I think the Baron might change his mind, if I talk to him once more. I want him there, especially if he's seriously okay with the duel, just in case, but I tell him I want to talk to the Baron. Reason with him. We go back to Fae. I don't see Jagir as we go to the Baron. I tell the Baron what Jagir told me, about love; I ask him to reconsider; I all but beg. And for the third time in one day, someone takes my world, turns it upside down and shakes it, to see the way the pieces look when they fall, I guess. He asks: "But what about Jagir's love?" The Baron tells me that the fae believe that there is someone out there for everyone, and when the fae meet that person, it is love at first sight. He asks if Jagir has not told me of his feelings for me? If this is a joke, it is not funny. The Baron ... he tells me the duel will go on, or the wedding. He smiles, and talks about the entertainment. He dismisses us, but I can't move. I am shattered. It's not until after I am out in the sunshine that I realize that Darcy has his arm around me, that tears are streaming down my face. And that the Baron smiled and chattered about the entertainment he expected, how pleased his guest would be to see the duel, looking down his perfect nose and mocking my feelings and my tears and my world he has shattered as he spoke and smiled. The Baron ... was cruel. There is no other word for it. We go back to the Chantry, but I am aware of none of it. Around six, we pile into various cars (I think Darcy drove mine), and we go to Fae. We present ourselves before the Baron, and I escape him as soon as I can to put on that dress. It might be beautiful, if I wasn't wearing it under the eye of the terrible Baron. I come to my senses just before the duel starts. Darcy and Jagir face each other and hold swords. I can't quite make myself look at Jagir. (To whose love was he referring when he said that love will always find a way?) I tell Darcy I love him, and he smiles, a terrible smile, and tells me he loves me. The Baron calls his guest out, and suddenly I am very much in the present, as opposed to the past 24 hours. His guest is a man, a very old man. He looks somewhat ... crazy. His voice, though. It's probably a coincidence, but he has the same accent as John, Kassandra's mentor. Probably a coincidence, but I've never met anyone else around here with that particular accent ... English of some kind, but I'm not sure where in England. The Baron offers him the ability to make up one rule. The Baron is careless. For two reasons. The first shouldn't be a big deal in this situation: Never give your consent to something before you know what it is. Has he not read the mythologies and stories in which his folk figure? But the reason that this first carelessness is important is the second carelessness. I noticed, but the Baron evidently did not, when the old man entered the room and assessed the situation, he shook his head, and said, No. No, it cannot ... Could be talking about anything, I guess, and he does seem kinda crazy, but ... but his wish, his rule was that the duel to the death was to be ... a footrace. He could have meant anything. Couldn't he? The Baron tries to talk him out of it, and the old man gets pissed. Tells the Baron he is not someone to fuck with. Finally the Baron backs down, and Darcy and Jagir drop their swords. They race. And I was watching the old man when I should have been watching the race that would decide so much, but I saw him do ... something ... and Jagir tripped. And Darcy won. And the alliance is set, without the marriage of Sulla to Yagir. And I admit to a little petty vengeance when I go to the Baron with a sweet smile on my face and ask him if the alliance is now set. And do we have a liaison? May it be Jagir? And may I speak with your guest? The old man is crazy. I try to thank him for what he's done, but he acts like he doesn't know what he's done, which I personally find hard to believe. But he keeps staring at Kassandra, and talking to her, and I'm eavesdropping on their conversation, but most of it doesn't make sense. She had a dream about him? Whatever. After a minute, the Baron's spirits restored, he offers a more "appropriate" liaison than Jagir: a sluagh named Iago. I don't know much about sluaghs, but he's ... creepy. No teeth. Slimy. I invite Jagir to the party, but he says he has duties. He'll try to come, though. We leave, and get ready for the party. We decide, after much debate, to change the name of the Chantry and our new cabals. The Chantry is henceforth the Hill Chantry, as there aren't really that many Roses around. Our home is now the Hill Manor. Our cabal, the fighting cabal, is the Swords of the Hill. Darcy's new cabal, which is Darcy, Richard (Hollow One), and a friend of Kassandra's, named Beamer (Son of Ether, I think ... ), is the Chalice of the Hill, the maintainers, the ones who heal and provide us with other help. (Beamer makes cool things, apparently. Ehh, Son of Ether ... ) The last cabal is formed of Yellow Wolf (Dreamspeaker), Bran (Dreamspeaker), Branwen (Verbena), and Callia (Cult of Ecstasy); they are the Staff of the Hill, the spirit guides. We may rename them in future. The sluagh arrives, the fae liaison. As he's getting his room together, we discuss the idea of watching him. Maybe do something Correspondancey in his room. We spend the next hour getting ready. I make wine! We rearranged the fruit in the Horizon Realm ... we have berries and grapes, and no pears. So my wine is shiny. (And yummy) Kassandra made food, and the others got the place ready, music, got breakables out of the way, etc. The party goes well. A bunch of werewolves come, mostly male, but our Chantry has a lot of females, so ... it worked. I spoke a little with Peter, the fae-werewolf liaison, on the werewolf side. He told me a nasty little story about the current Baron causing a rebellion of the trolls against the old Baron by spreading lies. And that Iago ... should be watched carefully, at the very least. Yes, this we've already discussed. One very horny female werewolf came in and asked about the men immediately. No sooner had she laid eyes on Kyril than they were off upstairs. (She did ask for his consent - if "Wanna fuck?" counts ... ) Another female werewolf came up to me at one point and asked about my "mate" and our relationship, if I was happy with it (?) ... I told her, Most of the time. She asked if Kassandra had a mate, and said she was pretty. Damn, I hear that alot. What am I, chopped liver? But I told her Kassandra's not interested in girls. But pointed out Callia. I believe they had a good time. And Kassandra! She's so shy, I don't think she's comfortable around men for whatever reason. But she spent a good deal of the party talking to a werewolf, she later told us his name was Rick. And I think they exchanged numbers. How cute! Things have been a little ... tense ... between me and Darcy lately. I dunno why. I guess all the shit that's been going on lately. The marriage thing and the battle planning we're about to do and all the Technocracy and ... well, shit. Ah, well. Sunday, November 27, 2005 I wake up and spend the morning meditating and then writing. I'm determined to finish my manuscript before year's end. I'm nearly done. Darcy stayed close by, studying, I think. He's starting to make me feel ... nervous. Claustrophobic, even. I ... this exclusive thing ... I'm trying so hard to be good. But I don't know ... I'm really not made for that. And one thing I have trouble with is: Darcy loves me because of who I am, right? (At least, he should) Well, who I am is not someone who dates exclusively. If it is me he loves, why is he asking me to change? Either way, something's gotta give. But we have so much to focus on right now, I can sort of just pretend to ignore it. Sort of. For now. But I'm getting ... antsy. Anyway, around two-ish me and Darcy and my cabal go to James' funeral. It's a good service, until the end when four black cars pull up and six agents stroll out of them. We have the numbers, but they have ... well, everything. They control Reality. We fight, and my family gets mostly knocked out and wounded. After knocking them to the ground, the agents stop. They tell us to leave San Francisco. The city is theirs, and they want us out. If we leave, they will let us go, they will not harm us. If we do not, they will hunt us down and kill us. It's strange. They seem mostly intent on us. Like I said, they knocked my family members out. None of them seems to be dead, just injured or unconscious. They (mostly) left my cabal (and Darcy) alone. Strange. We argue for time. Time to decide. 24 hours. They grant it. They walk off to their cars. I struggle briefly with the idea of using Forces to blow up their cars after they're in them, but a strange caution comes over me. There are always more agents, and for now we have a truce with the Technocracy. For 24 hours. I want that time to get ready. Ah, well, I'm working with Earth more now, since playing with Entropy. Caution and patience and all that. We go back to the Chantry, and Kyril and I decide to go to the werewolves, to tell Seth what happened and to ask Seth or Peter (the werewolf / Fae liaison) to get me to Fae to chat with the Baron, cuz I really don't trust Iago. Unfortunately, Iago comes and asks us what's up. We tell him, and he sinks into the floor to go to Fae. Creepy. I still go to the werewolves with Kyril. We tell Seth what's up, and he tells us to come back at eight for the Moot, armed for battle. He also tells us that the Baron will not give up his place, that he will send his army. I feel slightly better. We go back to the Chantry. Kassandra and Kaiden have explained the situation to everyone who was not there (Beamer and Richard, basically ... well, and most of my family was unconscious). Beamer agrees to make some lightning grenades (the agents had them, and knocked out my family with them), but not fight; Richard wants to stay behind; and Darcy agrees to come to heal. My family at first wants to help, but I talk them into hiding in the Horizon Realm. Something about what happened at the cemetary makes me wary. This is not their battle. We get to work. Kyril goes on the Digital Web to get us weapons. I get bunches o' knives. Kassandra runs up to ask Iago about fae armors, hoping we can find some good armor that won't restrict movement. I especially need it, because I don't do ranged combat. Kaiden and I make more lightning grenades, I think less efficient than Beamer's, but the more we have, the better. Kyril also gets some EMPs, useful if we come up against some HIT Marks (killing machines ... literally). Kassandra comes back down, and says no go on the fae armor, it only works on fae. But Iago wants to talk to me. Ugh. I go up, and he gives me a warning: Jagir loves me. He will not kill Darcy, but he won't feel especially compelled to protect him, either. Especially if there are other people he could protect. I'm not so sure how far we can trust Iago, but he's not lying about this. Jagir is, of course, free to choose who to protect, out of several possibilities. And, because Love is so important to the fae, if his choice is a werewolf that doesn't particularly mean that much to him or Darcy, who stands in the way of Love, guess who he'll choose. Okay. I tell him I understand, and he says something about, Your gratitude overwhelms me. What the fuck did he expect? Me on my knees thanking him? I apologize for my lack of manners and tell him the upcoming battle and everything has made me tense, but he's ... fucking weird. He sinks into the floor, like he did to go to Fae. What's he up to now? I go back downstairs. I make poison. Awesome fucking poison. Life, obviously, and a touch of Entropy ... it finds the weakest points of your body and attacks. I dip my knives into it, the bullets go in, and with what's left, Kaiden makes little gel things. Stick 'em on a person, they melt with body heat, and kill 'em when they melt. Useful. Especially for melee combat. Kyril gives me one of Voormas' knock-out poison knives. He and Kaiden grabbed them when we left, apparently. I give it to Darcy. He's reluctant, but I tell him, "It's knock-out poison. It won't kill unless you stab them in the heart, but it'll keep you safe if someone attacks you. I don't want you dead." Especially since talking to Iago. I am grateful, damn him. Before we leave, I ask my Life Mage family members to harden our skin, giving us awesome armor. I could have done it, or Kaiden, or Kassandra. Or Darcy. But if any of us got knocked out, the armor would go away. Not a chance I'm willing to take. We all mindlink with Kaiden. Then we go to the Moot. The werewolves let us sit in their circle, and they place seals around the park. The fae are not there. They talk for a while, deciding to go to war, quelling arguments against it (not many, but one guy did voice ... concerns ... about how this wasn't our fight ... what?). After about a half hour or so, with no sign of the fae, I get nervous about that, about whether Iago actually went to the Baron, or maybe he's just lying to us. I ask Kaiden through the mindlink to set up a mindlink with Jagir so I can talk to him. It turns out they got there a teensy bit late, and weren't able to get past the seals. But they're there. Jagir's there. I feel ... maybe not 100% better, but 75%, certainly. I'd feel 100% better if Jagir was sitting next to me, was our liaison instead of that sluagh, and ... I was ... more free, I guess. Free. My freedoms have been shrinking lately. I don't like it. I let the werewolves know the fae are outside the park, but there's nothing they can do, now. I let Jagir know, and break the mindlink, somewhat reluctantly. Mother Theresa tells us an interesting story. Most of it is long and complicated, and I'm a bit unsure of their grasp of history, but basically tells me how important San Francisco is. Basically, if San Francisco falls, everything fails. Everything. We pass the peace pipe around. The peace pipe makes us allies in a stronger way. Basically, because we are a cabal, I can toss Forces into an area and make electricity run through, and none of my cabal mates are affected by this. Because we're connected in some way. The peace pipe did this for all of us. Our Magicks will not harm the werewolves, their Magicks will not harm us. Then Seth gets up and puts some berries into a bowl and starts grinding them up. He puts some water in it, and then takes a blue feather, and uses it to apply the berry juice to people's faces. Warpaint. Once they are painted, people get up and start dancing. He gets to us last. As he applies the paint to my face, I feel ... stronger. Ready to fight. Ready to do battle. I don't think there's anything special about the paint, per se. Darcy certainly doesn't seem ready to fight. I think it's just me. I am a fighter. Seth then takes the feather and lifts Reality, lifts the physical world. And we are in the Spirit World. It looks a little different from my Seeking ... but that wasn't a perfect reflection of this world, so ... who knows? I've never had much interest in the Spirit World, so Darcy's never taken me. I'm interested, now. It's beautiful. Beautiful. As I look at my cabal mates, we change. Kassandra gains what looks like snake-scales instead of skin, beautiful shimmery rainbow snake skin. Kaiden looks like an angel, completely androgynous, complete with wings. Darcy looks like a Celtic shaman-healer, complete with staff and sporran full of healing herbs. I am covered in flames. Smoke rises from my arms as I look at the flames licking my skin. I feel like I am surrounded by Blaize. Her presence warms me, and I feel even more ready for battle. Kyril looks digital, covered all over in binary code, but he chooses to stay behind. Apparently he's mortally terrified of spiders. We start traveling. This is the same; we have to travel. We split into three groups. The fae army goes after the warrior spiders, the werewolves go after the drones, while I, my cabal, Darcy and Seth, Peter and Rick go after the queen. There are spiders and spider-webs everywhere. I step on a huge one, the size of my hand (huge ... apparently that one's small compared to the other ones), and we crunch tons of smaller ones under our feet. That's how many there are. We pass through Castro, and as we approach Haight-Ashbury, there is something new. There are no spiders. No webs. They can't pass. And there's a node. There's also a rainbow, coming down from the sky to touch the earth. We pass through, and get back to the spider-infested places, and the werewolves suddenly draw back at a wall of webs, soft webs unlike those built by the static spiders, telling us we (the Mages) are to go on, and come back to them after. There is someone waiting for us. We head (rather nervously) in. It's even more beautiful than the rest of the Spirit World. There are people, who come out of their buildings to stare at us, an angel, a snakewoman, a woman of flame and a Celtic healer, who probably looks the most normal here, as there are people from every culture and time, it seems. We follow ribbons of color to a giant turtle sitting beneath a great tree, a tree which reaches the sky. The Axis Mundi, I am sure. The World Tree. The turtle holds upon its back three woman: a maiden, a mother, and a crone, who are weaving the threads of Fate. They step down and become one woman. Lady Fate. She greets each of us in turn. She calls Kassandra "Daughter of Serpents." Kaiden she calls a daughter of angels, and, the Daughter who is not a Daughter. She does say, Daughter of Angels, for that is what you truly are, a daughter. Hmmm ... I've started thinking of him as a he pretty consistently. Her? Me she calls Daughter of the Phoenix, and daughter of the ever burning flame. I really like that one. Darcy she calls simply Healer. She tells us that we have three great things to do: defeat the spiders, the quest we are currently engaged in. Then we are to rescue my ward, for she lives still. I had never thought not to do it. And the last, she could not tell us of, but it involved Kassandra. She did tell us some, but it made no sense to me. Kassandra seemed to understand, though. Something about her mother's friends. Kassandra also asked about redemption, and the Lady Fate said something again about her parents. She and I are going to have a long talk when this is over. I don't mind helping her out, or her parents, she is cabal, and I do like her, most of the time. But I expect to understand what's going on, I expect to understand what I'm helping her with. And it's apparently pretty important. Lady Fate tells me ... that I have a sense of purpose, but it is not what I think it is, and that I should seek my happiness elsewhere. Elsewhere as in not Darcy? Or even elsewhere as in not love? I don't know yet. But I don't ask. She tells us the Node we saw should be tended by the Garou. She gives us each a gift of fruit from the great tree she sits under. We each grab a fruit. I take a peach. And we find ourselves outside the cobwebs that hold the place of Lady Fate separate. We each eat our fruits, and I find that I suddenly grasp concepts of the Sphere of Entropy in a whole new way. Enough that I think I can manipulate chance and the powers of entropy, as opposed to merely sensing them. We continue on, and find the spider queen. We stand at the top of a hill, and she is on the crest of the next hill, with an army of smaller spiders between us. They surge toward us, and they have the ability to merge together to form larger beings. I build a "bridge" of Air from our hill to hers. We begin to cross. The smaller spiders are unable to create a form large enough to reach us. The queen turns to us, and fury and fear show in her multi-faceted eyes. The werewolves are in their huge, eight-foot tall werewolf form, and they run ahead of us to meet her. Kaiden shoots, and Darcy hangs back. I run closer, but stop as I notice the smaller spiders surging toward us, and create a wall of Fire beneath us, but separating the smaller spiders from us and the queen. Then I continue on. I watch the spider queen kick at Seth, and he flies some distance away. I want to go to him, particularly as Kaiden has been wrapped in webbing, and Darcy appears to be going toward her, but I'd have to pass the queen first. So I continue toward her. Once I'm in melee range, I stab at her with my poisoned knife. She scream in rage. I stab her again, and she screams again, and looks really weak. But not too weak to kick me forward. I vaguely notice Seth getting up to have another go, and getting kicked again. I want to go to him, again, but am unable to. Still. I also vaguely notice her spit in Darcy's direction. He screams, and falls to the ground. I want to go to him, as well, but ... I'm wounded, but not too badly. I'm still on my feet, anyway. Then, she suddenly disappears. I felt Prime Magicks. I call to Kaiden, "See to Seth!" and I run to Darcy. Oh, Gods. Her spit was acid and it ate away his whole right arm. Oh, Gods. He's screaming from the pain, and I nearly cut my hand in half, getting blood to heal him. My hands are shaking. He faints. Seth is dead. Peter carries Seth, and Rick carries Darcy, and we go back to the park. There is no sign of the fae army, but Mother Theresa tells us they did well. The werewolves lost a few others, beside Seth. They take him away, and we take Darcy back to the Chantry. Monday, November 28, 2005 The sun is just rising as we drive up to the Chantry. We fought all night. We carry Darcy in. I'm really worried about him. Richard sees us carrying Darcy in, and helps us bring him upstairs to a bed in one of the guest rooms. Darcy has a fever, so I check with Life to see what's wrong. Apparently, the spider's acid venom is also poisonous. Kaiden neutralizes the poison with Life and Matter, and helps me clean the wound. My family eventually comes out of the Horizon Realm, and Callia sits with me, watching Darcy. He's stabilized, but sleeping. Kassandra and the others go to Haight-Ashbury to check on the Node, to see where it's at. I stay with Darcy. Currently, it's located in a head shop. This gives us the idea that Richard could possibly buy the shop, and the werewolves could use the upstairs, and the coffee-shop would be a front. That way, we are working together even more closely. Iago comes to talk to us about the battle. The fae army had few casualties. He asks about Darcy. He's ... twisted. Not just creepy. He says something about Darcy's beauty gone. Kaiden and Kassandra and I did what we could about the scars on his face and chest, but when it became clear what a big job it would be, I told them I thought we should wait till he awoke. Iago asks me if I will still love him, with the way he looks. Since we were talking about armies and battle and the Technocracy before that, I kind of gave him a funny look, and said, I don't really think that's all that important right now, not that it's any of your business. I don't want to tell him anything more than is strictly necessary. He worries me more and more, every time we talk. Something is going to have to happen, hopefully to him. After several hours, during which I sit by Darcy's bed with Callia, mostly with the two of us not speaking, checking Darcy with Life fairly often, Kassandra comes into the room and asks me to Mindlink Richard. Apparently, he's not answering his phone, and Kassandra needs to talk to him, to let him know she bid on the store with the Node, so he wouldn't freak out. I stare at her in disbelief for a minute. She bid on the store she knew Richard was thinking about buying? Whatever. I try, but get swatted away from his mind. I try again, and am again smacked. Kassandra gets Kaiden, and we join efforts, and get smacked yet again. We're starting to get worried, because we're pretty sure Richard does not have Mind, and we find Kyril. Richard is at the head shop with four men in black. We decide to open four small portals, one behind each of them, to simultaneous stick our hands through to stab or shoot each of them. Then we open one of the portals a little larger to grab Richard out. I check him with Life and Mind to make sure he's not a clone and has not been re-educated yet, and then we untie him. Not long after this, Iago comes back to us, and says the baron wishes to speak with us. All of us. He hands me a key on a chain, and sinks into the floor. I'm standing there, staring stupidly at the key, when Kaiden suggests opening a door. I catch her drift immediately, and we put the key into a keyhole, and open the door. And stand facing Fae. I put the key carefully into my sporran with my Foci, and we step into Fae. We are greeted by the guards. I do not see Yagir anywhere. We go to the Baron. I despise him, now. My dislike for him has been growing since we first met. He asks us what we will do for our end of the Alliance, which I understand perfectly (although Kassandra does not seem to), but he insists on playing with us, when he seems to know exactly what he will use our services for. He finally tells us that there is a small group of individuals, four or five, easy to handle, that he wishes eliminated. Iago will give us the details. He wants their heads, hearts and hands on a platter at his feet before tomorrow's end. We go. Iago tells us ... there are five: a knocker, a sluagh, a satyr, a sidhe, and a troll. Wanted for heinous crimes to the baron. Money-laundering and stealing. The satyr slept with one of the baron's wives. And the troll ... argued with the Baron. I asked, three or four times, what they argued about, but Iago each time ignored me. I had a bit of interest beyond idle curiosity, of course. The troll is Jagir. Iago tells us that they are likely to be in a place called the Meadow, where the rainbow touches the earth. He also tells us that because Jagir broke his oath to the Baron, he is dying. "And there is nothing you can do about it," he says with a giggle. More than twisted. We speak through the Mindlink, talk about forming an alliance with these other fae, and the possibility of getting rid of the old Baron, and raising the sidhe "traitor" as the new Baron. And seeing if there is anything we can do to save Jagir. I check to make sure Darcy's still okay before we go into the Spirit Realm, to see if we can find that rainbow in the Mage Spirit Realm. (Apparently there are different versions of it?) This Spirit Realm is still beautiful, but not quite in the same way as the Spirit World of the Garou, the werewolves. We go toward the rainbow, and find a door. I put my key to it, and open it to the Meadow. We are greeted by a knocker with a blunderbuss. I tell him a stripped-down version of the whole story. Which almost gets us killed a couple times, because I do tell him we were sent by the Baron to kill them. He brings us to the sluagh, a female. I tell her the same thing. She gets the sidhe, and I tell him more of the story, and that I am friends with Jagir. (I actually say, "The Baron insisted we kill you to continue the alliance, but since we don't really like him and we think his liaison is evil, and Jagir is our friend ... ") He brings us into his tent. Jagir is laying on a cot, sleeping. He is very thin. I find it hard to keep my eyes on the sidhe as we talk. I want nothing more than to sit by Jagir's side. The sidhe's name is Rowland of house Dougal. We tell him everything, and discuss the possibility of throwing out the current Baron, and of helping Jagir. He tells us about what he calls Seelie and Unseelie fae. Unseelie fae are selfish, self-centered, and care for nothing but themselves. The Seelie are not like that. Jagir and Rowland and their companions are Seelie. The Baron and Iago are Unseelie. And now, most of Fae is Unseelie. Replacing the Baron will require war, ridding Fae of most of its residents. And Jagir can live, because the oath he made was a false one, if he is the hand that kills the Baron. Then only can he live beyond a month. I ask Rowland about the argument Jagir and the Baron had. Apparently the Baron asked Jagir to kill us, and he refused, thus breaking his oath. Oh, Jagir! We end up deciding to bring Jagir to the Horizon Realm, and Rowland sends for a fae army from Seattle. It will take at least a week. Rowland advises us to kill Iago. (He and the female (Seelie) sluagh are brother and sister!) With pleasure. Rowland asks us about weapons, and since most of my cabal deals in guns, he gives them bows, and tells us to train while we wait for the army. The guns will not work in Fae. He gives us some sleeping potion for Jagir, to help him sleep when he felt badly, and a letter for if we came back to the Meadow and there are other fae besides the ones we'd met. We go straight back to the Horizon Realm and conjure a sick house for Jagir. We're setting everything up when the guardian comes to tell us there is an emergency, violence in the Chantry. We run. The kitchen is dark, and Iago is around somewhere. I conjure a flame to rest on my shoulder so we can see - somewhat. Kyril opens a portal and steps through. It closes behind him. Kassandra starts toward the door, and then Kaiden calls out in pain. Iago has attacked her. I try to find him with Mind, and I do, but he is moving around so much and so fast that it is impossible to catch him. I pull out a knife, ready to stab him if I sense him near me, but then he throws the fridge on me. I'm not laying under the fridge for long when Kaiden turns it to cotton fluff. But I'm badly injured. I hadn't healed all the way yet from the spider attack. I get up slowly, and Kaiden sticks Iago to the ceiling. I set him on fire with my little flame, but he starts toward the door. I stun him with Mind. Stun him, and he is dazed and cannot move easily. I watch him struggle, but fortunately, his strength of will was not enough to overcome my stunning, and Kassandra kills him. We turn on the lights, and there is blood everywhere. Life tells me it is Richard's. We follow it, and find him. Fortunately, he's still breathig, but not for much longer. Kaiden, Kassandra and I combine our efforts to heal him, and he does come around. Still weak, obviously, but very alive. We bring him to the Horizon Realm sick room, which now holds Darcy, as well. Apparently, Kyril brought him. Everyone else is fine, but the sluagh apparently searched everything he could. By this time, I'm starting to worry about Darcy. He's been asleep for a very long time. I check him with Mind, and find that he's not there. I start panicking, and so I spend some time calming down, and I try again. I try to find out what happened. Apparently, something tried attacking his mind while we were fighting the spider, and to protect himself, Darcy locked himself inside his mind, with no way out. I'm going to have to retrieve him, but it will be a very delicate process. Minds are exceptionally intricate, and it would be all too easy to damage one. I won't be able to do it today. I spend most of the rest of the day in the sick house. Richard is mostly okay, and just needs rest. He tells me about Iago's attack. Jagir wakes up after a while, and asks where he is. I tell him, and his eyes focus on me, and he bows his head, and calls me "My Lady." He says, "I have caused you trouble." To which I reply, "Yes." He apologizes, but I tell him not to worry about it. I want to tell him it had to be done anyway, but he doesn't seem up for much conversation. He asks about "my man," and I tell him about the spider. I can't tell what he's feeling when we talk about it. Jagir is always very calm. We speak about Iago briefly, and Jagir warns me he will be back. Apparently it takes more than that to truly kill a fae. However, he won't be back for about fifteen years, so I put it out of my mind for now. Jagir tells us to practice with the weapons Rowland gave us, and that he will help train us in the morning, but he wishes to sleep more now. I tell him to rest as much as he needs. He tells me again that he will help us train in the morning. And then he takes a sip of the sleeping potion, and drifts away. And I sit in the sick house for the rest of the evening, sometimes talking to Richard, but mostly sitting and watching and thinking. And when I sleep, I sleep in a bed I brought into being in the sick house.

Call me a bloody bitch - I am all that and more. But I can look in the mirror and say that I have lived. Can you, with your illusions of comfort, say the same?