Campaign of the Month: March 2017
Covenants and Power Groups
The Following information has been added to the Council’s knowledge base as of July, 2007 and October 2012 by Anita Blake, Watcher Emeritus. It concerns the nature of the power groups operating in Pittsburgh, an event known as the “Covenant War,” the closing of the Pittsburgh Hellmouth, and its eventual re-opening with the arrival of “Club Inferno.”
Power groups. Heh. Makes us sound like some sort of new-agey group therapy collective.
In the interest of keeping things simple, which I’m a fan of, the Gifted are folks with extraordinary abilities and talents. Like being able to manipulate the forces of nature, do real magic (no cheap parlor tricks here), read the thoughts of others, access powers directly from the Divine, and, my personal favorite…talk to and control spirits of the dead. Stuff like that.
It’s possible to be a solitary man, as Neil Diamond says, but if you got to go to Hogwarts, would you want an independent study? I think not. The Covenants are like our Houses. The sorting process we go through is not nearly as cut and dry, unfortunately. I’d have much rather stuck a hat on my head and been told where to go than discover my Gift after raising the family pet from the dead at the tender age of 8…but I guess we all have our crosses to bear. That’s what Father Bob says, anyhow.
So here’s an introduction to some of the Covenants currently operating in the Pittsburgh area. Do me a favor and don’t tell them I sent you.
The Wicce are, like, real witches—not the fluffy-bunny-persecution-complex-Silver-Ravenwolf-spouting variety; the warrior-priestess-defenders-of-Gaia-and-humanity variety. They’re not the most organized Covenant out there, but they are super-conscious of how easily power can corrupt, and want to avoid all that mess when they can and make sure all folks have a voice. I can respect that…although, speaking frankly, sometimes people just need to be told what to do. Granted, I’m usually the one telling them, so I guess my opinion doesn’t really count for much. But I digress…the Wicce are pretty badass.
The Brotherhood of the Rose Cross is probably the largest Covenant in Pittsburgh, and quite possibly in the world. The sorcerers and mages of the Rosicrucian Order are highly organized, resourceful (the less polite term would be loaded), educated, and powerful. And when I say powerful, I mean it. When I need backup, the Rosies are who I call. They have never failed to help me out, especially where keeping the Hellmouth in check is concerned. I consider myself very lucky to call several of them dear friends. Their library is pretty ridiculous. They can be kind of obnoxious know-it-alls sometimes (being better and smarter than everyone else will do that to you), but I’d say their good traits far outnumber their shortcomings. Oh, and even though all the ones I happen to know are guys, they do have female members, too, contrary to their name.
The Cabal of Psyche
The Cabal of Psyche…unless you’re one of them, as in psychic, you’re not likely to know very much about them, and they’re very likely to know everything about you. And they like it that way. Several Cabal members are regulars of my business. They tend to be very cautious of the other Covenants, with good reason. I make it a point to stay on their good side.
The Sentinels are…the unpopular kids at the moment, mainly because of what happened in the recent war between the Covenants in Pittsburgh, which I’ll get to shortly (maybe). These guys see themselves as the soldiers of God, a position which can lead to extreme thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as my therapist would say. Two of the Sentinels I know that weren’t wiped out in the course of the war decided to call it quits with the larger organization and fly solo together. Can’t say I blame them.
The Twilight Order
That brings us to the Twilight Order, an organization near and dear to my own heart, as black and little as it may be. The Order is my own Covenant which is how I know all about this stuff, and you don’t. Haha. Anyways, we are the Gifted folks who can see, talk to, and control the dead…also known as necromancers. Now you know my secret…well, one of them, anyway. I have lots.
Pariahs and Mockers
The Pariahs and the Mockers are kind of like the Order of the Phoenix…if they were monstrous and completely insane. These guys have lived through and seen some serious shit, survived to tell the tale, and live to throw the Reckoning (that’d be the Apocalypse for those of you paying attention) off course using whatever means necessary. Pariahs tend to have histories of serious trauma, and it shows in more ways than one. As for the Mockers, they are my absolute favorite Covenant, hands down. If it wasn’t for a Mocker, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing you this tale right now, I’d likely be gibbering away in Western Psych, or maybe even down in the county morgue with a hole blown through my skull.
These guys are not a Covenant, per se, but they’re a power group, nevertheless. They are a secret (government?) organization who despises and hates everything supernatural. The original Watchers Council would’ve loved them. They are highly trained and to someone with the ability to sense supernatural creatures (a Slayer, for example) they feel like…like there’s nothing there. And they have power. They’ve got the power to make your bank accounts disappear, sell your house out from under you and wipe every scrap of evidence that you ever existed off the face of the Earth. That’s their real power, in the end—their fingers are in everything. If you run into one, it’s best to give him what he wants and try to get out alive. I mean, another option is to knock their soul out of their bodies and shoot them dead in the face, but I understand the Council still frowns upon murder. So yeah, give ‘em what they want and run, unless you’ve got some very, very powerful allies. Like, for example…
The Knights Templar
These guys don’t exist. They don’t have super magical powers, and they don’t show up like something out of The Matrix to take on the Combine. They’re certainly not the Combine’s archenemies and they’re not everywhere.
No, seriously. They don’t exist.
Don’t worry about it.
The Watchers are hands-down the newest Covenant to join our little battle against the Reckoning—well, in the sense of actually joining the rest of us, that is. They’ve actually been around since before recorded history, back to a tribal group who in a fit of mystical rape, instilled the essence of a demon into a young girl, and created the first Slayer.
They have, as you can imagine, had their problems over the millennia, shortsightedness being their biggest failing. Then along came Buffy Summers and Rupert Giles, and the ensouled vampire Angel, and Wesley Wyndham-Price. And all of Buffy’s friends. Oh, and Faith. That’s when everything changed.
I was on the council. I had a Slayer under my watch. She died. They tell me that’s what happens to Slayers, but it hurt enough that I walked away, and I just consult on occasion, now. In any case, after the being calling itself the First Evil created an apocalypse-level event of its own in a place called Sunnydale (don’t look; it’s not there anymore), what I suspect was the first stage of the Reckoning actually occurred as Buffy awakened every single potential Slayer in the entire world, all at once. The original Watcher’s Council was destroyed in the crossfire with the First, and thank God I wasn’t in London when that went down.
It threw magic wildly out of balance for awhile, but we got through it. The new Council understands more about true demons, about the Outer Dark, than they ever did before. They’ve aligned with a powerful coven of Wicce in Devonshire, and are a premier source of occult studies, magic and warriors. Word is they’ve got about 500 active Slayers all over the world. They tried to send another one here—Hilda. She’s a hell of a fighter, but I can’t do the Watcher thing anymore…so I drafted my friend Matthew. He’s doing a better job than I did. She’s still alive.
My other good friend, Drake, forms the third branch of the new Watchers. His estate in Coventry serves as the Slayer training facility. I couldn’t think of a better option. He did used to be a centuries-old vampire, after all.
People who are up on geography will note that London, Devonshire and Coventry form a pretty big triangle covering a swath of central and Southern England. They say that there’s zero hostile supernatural activity in that region, and that black magic won’t even work there. I tend to doubt that and figure monsters just avoid there because, you know, tons of demon hunters. If they did somehow create a sort of nega-Hellmouth there, it’d be a pretty serious unbalancing of the mystical forces, and I think the consequences may have been felt by now.
Huh. Maybe Cassilda wasn’t Darrek’s fault after all.
Who needs a drink?
Evil Law Firms
There are two evil law firms in Pittsburgh, and by “evil law firms,” I don’t mean in the colloquial sense, like the French. I mean card-carrying, in-league-with-demonic-forces-and-run-by-demons evil.
Wolfram and Hart
The first of these is Wolfram and Hart. They opened a branch in Pittsburgh shortly before—near as I could tell—everything went completely South for them in L.A. I guess Angel and his crew did a real number on ‘em. There was a demon army, a bunch of Slayers, it was bad. Oddly, after a couple years, the city managed to forget all about it. Ain’t people grand in their uncanny ability to self-deceive? Anyway, Angel Investigations largely chased the Senior Partners of that firm out of LA and they needed a new Hellmouth to operate on, so here we are.
I’ve dealt with Lilah Morgan once or twice. For an undead, demon-serving bitch, she’s not bad. She reminds me of…well, me. So far, they haven’t caused too much trouble here but we keep an eye on them. I’m sure they’ve got apocalypse plans, and if they ever try to bring them through, they’re going to have a lot of Covenants lining up to stop them.
Milton Chadwick Waters
This one, I’m sorry to say, has a bit of a personal connection with Blake Investigations. It’s run by the Morning Star himself, who also happens to be Matthew’s uncle. That’s right; good old Semyaza. Lucifer. Satan. Whatever you like to call him. And how appropriate is it that he’d run a law firm?
Anyway, he’s not about the Apocalypse—at least, not that I can tell. See, the End of Days doesn’t really have him coming out on top, so while he’s as evil as they come, his evil is more in the line of corrupting mortal souls to his way of thinking. We’ve found ourselves both on the same and opposite sides of the battle lines with Old Nick (which he hates being called, by the by). Still, we keep a watch and he’s certainly not an ally.
I just learned about these fuckers, and hoo, boy, howdy. So we’ve known about ensouled vampires for well over a decade, now. We’ve called them moroi, as opposed to the more demonic and commonplace variety, which we called strigoi. To further complicate things, there’s critters like Angel, who is a strigoi that also happens to have a soul.
What we didn’t know until very recently is that the moroi (or Kindred, as they call themselves) are more numerous than we ever imagined, and they have theri own full-on society complete with laws and regulations built around their ability to hide themselves from humanity. If I may say so, they do a damned good job of it, because we’re pretty in the know about this shit, and they’ve managed to stay off our radar.
There are three sects of Kindred, and so far as we’re aware, somewhere just over a dozen “flavors,” which they call “clans.” The sects are the Camarilla, who seem to be the law-and-order types, the Sabbat, who are more “dominate the cattle humans” variety, and the Independents, who are somewhere in between. Of the clans, we’ve encountered the Setites, the Ventrue, the Ravnos, the Tremere, the Tzimisce, and the Toreador. I’m told there are others, as well.
Near as I can tell, they’ve all got crazy supernatural powers that are tied to their clan. Some of them can shapeshift. Others have that mesmerizing gaze. Some can move insanely fast. Others have their own brand of magic. Some can warp your goddamn skin and mutilate with a touch. Some are preternaturally tough. Some can create illusions. Just about all of them can grow claws and fangs.
They feed on life essence—most on blood, but some on things like sex, pain, emotion or even spell casting. But they’ve got souls, which makes them stand apart from most of the demons we have to put down. They don’t have a “game face,” and they know right from wrong. That means you’ve got to take each on his or her own merits…and put a stake in them if they’re on the wrong side of the line. Then cut their head off, and just to be sure, throw it in a volcano. Because these fuckers don’t dust, and if you take the stake out, they goddamn get back up and come after you again.
We recently experienced a miracle, when Amara, one of the oldest Kindred around, helped me to return a young woman who died back in 2001, Lorelei, from the dead—actually, from ash—as a Kindred. It took almost everything my necromancy had to make it happen, but we pulled it off, and now I’ve got a gorgeous young woman in the body of a 30-something, with the mind of a 16-year-old, and vast cosmic power on my hands.
Since it’s kind of half my fault, it’s kind of on me to make sure she doesn’t tear the city up. There’s a long story there, which I won’t bore you with. But mostly I’m just thankful the girl gets a second chance…and she always wanted to be a vampire, anyway.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about these guys, it’s that it’s best to keep the peace with the Camarilla, and generally stay the hell out of each other’s way. If nothing else, they seem to be against the Reckoning, and they don’t like strigoi, either, so there’s that. Also, their Prince, Sebastian Powell, gives me a little tingle in my nether yay-yay. Again, hoo, boy, howdy. He’s a beautiful, beautiful man.
But I don’t sleep with vampires. Nope. Never happen. I absolutely did not ever try to sleep with Drake on the Orient Express back in 2007.
Delilah After Dark
A syndicated radio host . Not really a power player, but when I’m drunk and alone, she’s my best friend. She listens…but I have to “Shh,” her a lot. She’s also a constant source of tension between Darrek and me, but everyone else seems to find it amusing. Ah, the perils of being a functioning alcoholic.
Just never mind. That’s all you need to know.
End 2018 Update
There’s more Covenants, to be sure, but the ones I’ve discussed so far are pretty much the local key players. Which brings us to the Covenant War. Hang on while I go fix myself a stiff drink. You might want to get yourself one, too.
The Covenant War
For all our differences, the Covenants are generally united by a mutual desire to prevent the Reckoning, maintain some semblance of balance, and keep mundanes alive and well (that’d be all you Muggle folks out there). Remember what I said earlier about power and how easily it corrupts? Well, the Gifted are human beings too, meaning we’re as prone to that corruption as anyone. So back in 2006 or so, a Rosicrucian…used metaphysical heroin, got hooked, and tried to destroy the world. And one of his strategies in working towards this end involved manipulating the Covenants into an all-out war so that we’d all be too busy fighting each other to pay attention and take notice of what he was trying to do. And it almost worked, but in the end, we were able to stop him…but not without many, many causalities, most of which we inflicted on each other.
And yes, because I know you’re wondering, I knew him. I really hate the word but I guess when it comes down to it, you have to call a spade a spade…I was his victim. I was violated in every way a person can be-physically, emotionally, spiritually…but I’m still standing (better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid). And as a good friend of mine once said, “That which fails to kill me, has made a grave tactical error.” Anyways, I got some more psychological issues, a sweet car, and several friends in high places for my troubles, so alls well that ends well.
So…moving ahead, in 2012 the Hellmouth got re-activated, a few days after Club Inferno suddenly appeared in Pittsburgh. There was a massive fight between several Gifted Covenants (who were, understandably, checking out the Club) and a group of Tainted werewolves and zombies. I’m fairly certain that the amount of energy unleashed by both sides is what flipped the switch back on. Anyhow, it’s been full of life (haha) ever since.
As much as I hate to admit it, I haven’t been able to figure out what the deal is with Club Inferno, and neither has anyone else I know. What we do know is that it’s bi-located (there’s an identical club in New York City), and that there’s more than meets the eye where Lamont, the manager, is concerned. Anyhow, the club has become the after-hours gathering place for the Gifted and supernatural communities of Pittsburgh since the Upstage closed…but I honestly try to avoid it unless I’m forced to go there. To quote a friend of mine, “It’s bloody awful.” The music at the Upstage was much better, and sometimes I just want to punch Lamont right in his emotionless face…but I know in my gut that would be a very BAD idea.
…Not that that’s ever stopped me before.
(TO BE CONTINUED)