- "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far... go together.
- African Proverb
The Ardent Compass, while being an efficient and recognized cabal within Brisbane, was originally a group of Mages put together in the hopes they could work together, only to find that a common purpose united them all. Perhaps fate was looking kindly on them - the new cabal of young mages happened to have a great set of complimentary skills, ranging from combat, to research, to survival. Even better, however, they had similar tastes, and before long they were becoming a dynamic young force within Brisbane, running around and finding new things, accomplishing tasks, and getting things done.
They've been described by one or two Mages obsessed with pop culture as being a bit of an 'adventuring party', and the metaphor's apt: unlike their more detached mentors, they're frequently jumping into tombs, chasing down rogue spirits and supporting each other with their adventurous zeal. They've found themselves to be very well-balanced with each other, even if they don't have a Moros. It's not like Brisbane is lacking in them, anyway.
So far, they've operated for the last four or so years, mostly without incident save for the tragic event that claimed one of their own - Achilles. With the recent recruitment of Fus into the cabal, they hope they'll be able to continue to stand strong.
The Cabal has one goal, one that united them and has been their focus for the past three years. They're looking for the Garden of Eden - one of the last undiscovered places of the world, protected by a celestial guardian and hidden beyond anyone's capability to discover it. It's the home of the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge. It's the birthplace of all life, the greatest, most powerful place in all of existence - but it's impossible to reach or discover, so the stories say.
However, rumors do exist throughout history of an artifact known as Ezekiel's Wheel, ancient as the world itself, and created with the divine powers of Atlantean Magic. Some tales say that it's the only item capable of leading someone to the Garden of Eden. Others say that it can lead someone wherever they need to go, and there's even tales that it's merely a vehicle. The Cabal believes, based on their own research, that Ezekiel's Wheel is a Compass, and they've based their symbolism around that idea.
What is known that it's fractured and splintered into pieces and the Cabal hunts these down wherever they may be in the hopes of rebuilding and using it.
- This leads me to believe that Magi before us, perhaps of the old Consilium or even times further in the past, had made the same symbolic connection. It is why I suggested the Sanctum be called "The Ark", based on that story of the Prophet Jeremiah. What could the artifact here have been though? This had me pondering long hours into the dead of the night. Could it have been, dare I wonder, the Ark of the Covenant itself?
- Watchlight's missive on the significance of the Sanctum and its Hallow.
The Ardent Compass' territory mostly seems to be located north of Brisbane, but they also claim a significant chunk of wilderness from Mt. Nebo, extending out towards the gap. The wilderness, of course, hides their mountaintop home and sanctum, built into the trees and forest that make up the top of Mount Nebo, atop a powerful Hallow.
Known as 'The Ark', it was created by one of the founding members of the cabal, Achilles, and has been carefully maintained by the Ardent Compass since his demise. There's a holy, almost sanctified feeling that suffuses the resonance of the area, and it's particularly potent around the hand-crafted mansion that hides between the trees. Mists, strong and filled with the resonance of Space magic, suffuse the area around it.
Facts Known to Awakened Society
- If there's information that needs to be chased up, a new place to be explored, or something you need found, these are the best people for the job.
- The Cabal recognizes all five Great Rights: Crossing, Emeritus, Hospitality, Nemesis, and Sanctuary.
- Thus far, the cabal's definitely lost at least one member during their time working together, and possibly more than one.
- They share a friendly relationship with one or two members of the Free Council, fostered by a regular Dungeons & Dragons game.
- Some of them are drinking buddies with the Saints of Grace.
Most of this information is considered general knowledge to any member of the Brisbane Consilium. That means that it's subject to a bit of hearsay, and might not always be accurate.
While discussing a university lecture they'd both attended on the subject of religious history, Dornelia and Watchlight both discuss the subject of Ezekiel's Wheel, a concept that fascinates them both, along with the possibilities of where it could lead. Achilles and Guard joined in shortly after.
The cabal was then created, with the purpose of using Ezekiel's Wheel to find the Garden of Eden. Assigning themselves based on the cardinal points, the initial cabal consists of Watchlight as North, Achilles as East, and Guard and Dornelia as South and West, respectively. Achilles starts to construct The Ark with the assistance of the cabal, and Dornelia starts making trips to find leads for the cabal to follow.
At the end of 2010, the cabal finds a journal written by a Chinese merchant, which happens to mention an item that may be a piece of the Wheel. Carefully cast spells help to determine the ship's route, bound for the North Coast of Australia. From there, a series of investigations and studies, along with some local myths and records of Sleeper disappearances highlight a trek and route that goes through the Great Dividing Range. Confident in their arcana, and the knowledge they've gained, they head off on one of their biggest expeditions to date.
The proud Achilles - the only member of the Arrow within the cabal, and the only one with any talents in the arts of combat - didn't return. Rumors abound about an ancient spirit, a journey into the depths of the earth, and the deadly altercation that occurred within its winding depths. Achilles is praised as a hero and martyr, though his death leaves deep wounds. After much grieving, however, Toranaga - an Obrimos Arrow who shared Achilles' legacy - is chosen to take his place as the West.
For the most part, much of the cabal's activities are focused around scholarly pursuits and the improvement of their Arcana, so that - should they return to the Great Dividing Range - they'll not be caught by surprise again. It's for that reason that when Strider, a Warlock from the Silver Ladder, brings them information regarding a spirit, that they're reluctant to plunge into things, just yet. However, the cabal's love for adventure eventually won out.
It turned out to be one of their greatest adventures yet. Under Watchlight's leadership, the cabal commenced an investigation into the strange site uncovered by the floods that swept across Brisbane. The spirit, believed to be linked to the river itself, had possessed a local leader of a gang. However, tracking it down proved painfully difficult - until Strider thankfully managed to secure a lead on the gang's whereabouts. Working together as a team once more, the cabal quickly met the gang. While Toranaga battled and distracted the gang member that had been possessed, Dornelia worked to remove the spirit. Guard quickly used his knowledge of Space to keep the hostages safe and get them away, while Watchlight hung back, coordinating and keeping the cabal safe with the Arcanum of Fate. Together, they were successful.
The battle, however, also resulted in a painful realization. With Toranaga being the only Mage of significant martial ability, the violence brought back painful memories, and the possibility of a repeat of Achilles' fall was not far from the cabal's mind. More importantly, Watchlight had been quietly moving into a position of leadership within the cabal, and rumors were rife that he will soon replace Cassandra as the Councillor for the Lunargent Thorn. The cabal had increased their understanding of the Supernal. And in doing so, they had realized the gaps and flaws in their symbolism. After careful discussion, the charter and symbolism of the cabal was modified.
Watchlight stepped away from the position of North, taking the position of the Ardent Compass' Needle. A new position was also added along with the Needle: the Center, designed to be a source of calm, neutrality and stability. The search for new members to take the vacant positions of North and Center begun, and by the end of the year, a young Awakened Mastigos, Fus, was taken the position of North. Finding someone to hold the position of Center, however - someone wise, calm, stable and responsible - would take a while longer.
In February, Watchlight managed to hear word of a nervous high school student who preferred to hide in the libraries and heard whispers from stories, and, alone, opted to investigate and see what he found. As it turned out, it was a good thing he did so as quickly as he had: the young girl turned out to be a newly awakened Obrimos named Trisandry. Quickly, the cabal realized that they'd found the qualities they were looking for in their center: calm, quiet stability.
Watchlight brought her before the Consilium - telling her parents that he was taking her into an advanced pathway course for university - and explained the situation. While her younger age would cause some concerns and difficulties, the cabal wanted her to join them. After all, the symbolism of the Center being an apprentice of the Needle, and their need for one to fill the void made a fairly powerful argument. Eventually, the Consilium agreed, allowing Watchlight to serve as Trisandry's new Master.
With Watchlight now considered experienced enough to take an apprentice of his own, his long-rumored promotion took place took place. Cassandra quietly stepped down, though didn't reveal why, and Watchlight took her place without any significant disruption in the Consilium's activities.
To Be Advised. Come on, we've got a heck of a lot already...
The Secrets of Mount Nebo
While the Supernal gift of Mana from a Hallow is certainly a very valid reason to choose the location for a Sanctum, the insistence on the Mt. Nebo Hallow specifically was a decision made based upon the Ardent Compass' symbolic connection to the name of the mountain.
Mt. Nebo shares its name with a mountain of religious significance located in Jordan, overlooking the cities of Jericho and Jerusalem. It is the biblical Mt. Nebo where it is said that the prophet Moses faced his end of days, and where the Ark of the Covenant was hidden from the armies of Babylon by the Prophet Jeremiah. It is by this biblical connection that I feel that Mt. Nebo has some metaphysical weight on the creed of the Ardent Compass; the Rediscovery of the Garden of Eden, in whatever true form it may be.
It may then strike confusion into some that we have set up our Sanctum on the one in Australia, a country the world away from the 'Holy Land' that is entirely unmentioned in any Holy Book.
I have a number of related theories regarding this. The first relates to the existence and nature of the hallow. We discovered it in a cave near the mountaintop in the early days of our cabal. Within it we discovered a waterlogged cave, a small lake of stagnant water surrounding a stone platform. Upon the platform is an Archway where, pending the right time of day and season, a beam of light shines down into the arch, Illuminating a place where in days gone by something of great significance was once kept.
This leads me to believe that Magi before us, perhaps of the old Consilium or even times further in the past, had made the same symbolic connection. It is why I suggested the Sanctum be called The Ark, based on that story of the Prophet Jeremiah. What could the artifact here have been, though? This had me pondering long hours into the dead of the night. Could it have been, dare I wonder, the Ark of the Covenant itself?
I imagined myself in the shoes of the first Mages coming to Australia. What value would they have in this place? So far from the civilizations and recorded history of the other major continents, there is little here but great expanses of parched sands and sunburnt bones of the earth. It is a country with an inordinate amount of emptiness.
And that was what struck me as important. When Australia was discovered in the late 1700s, what would it have meant to the Mages who heard the news? A Land of New discovery? Perhaps. There are ancient things here. But more importantly, they would have realized the great emptiness.
Australia was the perfect place to go for those who had something to hide...
Imagine the Afgan Camel men of South Australia. What wonders might mages among them have secluded out in the deserts along hidden paths off of their trails? And what other early explorers numbered among the awakened? Burke and Wills? William Paterson? Matthew Flinders? Their paths took them out into uncharted places where anything could have been hidden.
Of course, these are all my speculations so far, but they are my working hypotheses. This country is a place of the newly forgotten, a refuge where secrets seek asylum from the threats in their homelands. The Ardent Compass need not lament that this country's history is so short. The Mysteries are here, and the fragments of Ezekiel's wheel may very well be here too.
- - Watchlight
- Needle of the Ardent Compass
- Councillor of the Lunargent Thorn
The concept of being an adventuring troupe is an apt one - the group's easily the Mage equivalent of a D&D party of heroes, wandering around, fighting monsters, finding treasure and exploring ancient secrets as they look for pieces of a powerful artifact that can save the world.
There's also a little bit of a Five-Man Band feel to them.