Justin Phones Homes

Justin, able to focus on his work now that the horrible old hag-thing is gone, resumes his intonations, drawing power out of the earth--and he draws a significant amount of it. The energy builds, and builds. Justin speaks a syllable to hold it, then, and starts weaving the second portion of the spell. He lights the incense piles and candles with a quick snap of his fingers; they all flare into life, and start shining or smoking as appropriate. He begins to trace shapes in the air, in the smoke rising from the incense, each shape with its accompanying word of power. The two spells begin to come together, and he begins to weave them together, funneling the Quintessence into where it needs to be. This takes some time. Eventually, however, it's ready, it's at the proper tension and potentiality--and Justin lets it go, letting it take the shape he's built into it, to open into the Chantry.

The wind has stayed light and steady throughout Justin's preparations and gathering of power. Up here, the air isn't nearly as hot and oppressive as it is in the town. It is, in fact, almost chilly. As Justin releases the magic to do his will, though, the clouds clear for just a moment and the Sun glares down angrily, beams piercing the thin air to strike Justin, and the ground around him, almost palpably with his heat. The ground warms quickly and the air shimmers with the Sun's hate. Amid the shimmers, though, another place slowly becomes visible. Each moment clears the image a little more... until the familiar cool darkness of the main council room of the Chantry comes into focus. Several faces look up from their various notebooks and computers. "Finally," mutters Tauris, his lined face scowling out at Justin.

"My apologies, Master," Justin says, his tone all cold formality. "I had a small difficulty with accessing the ley line." He bows from the waist, his hand suddenly sweaty on his staff.

Tauris frowns. "Knew I should've worked you harder on that. Weren't much good at it at all, you weren't," he mutters. "You look like crap, boy. Is this how you appear before your betters?"

Augustus, with his traditional long, white beard and robes, clears his throat and Tauris subsides. "So, young Justin," he begins in his sonorous voice. "On to your task. What news of the world?"

Justin takes the insults from Tauris as he usually does, with a stony expression and set jaw. He relaxes, however, when Augustus intercedes. "Yes, Headmaster. The world is, from what I understand of the time before the Long Night, very different. The Traditions are no more. The Technocracy as well, although a group called the Guild of Technology survives them, in a beneficial fashion." He hesitates for a moment. "I have met other Awakened, but not many. There are two other mages in this particular town. The static magics, hedge wizardry and folk magic, are more prevalent than True Magic." He pauses to let this be processed.

There is a quiet uproar at Justin's words. Augustus frowns as the hub-bub goes on around him. Tauris is leaning over, talking to Juliana and Viridian. Other clusters of mages pull together, whispering. After the initial buzz settles down, Augustus says, his voice halting all the other speculation, "How did this come about? Have you managed to make anything out?"

Justin shakes his head, grimacing a little. "I heard that the Technocracy destroyed itself, but I don't know how, or indeed if that's an accurate statement. They're certainly not here any longer, though. The Traditions... The vampires wiped them out. I heard a few different accounts of that. They were too fractional, too unwilling to understand the new reality. Many of them thought they could fight, but the vampires that came for them were somehow able to fight the magic. You know of that, though. Master, the Chantry fled, from what I can make out, barely ahead of the killers."

Augustus strokes his beard thoughtfully while discussion breaks out around him again. The wind picks up on the peak, but fails to touch Justin in his outbubbling of reality. After a moment, Viridian asks, "Have you met no Hermetics, then? I cannot imagine that they would fall like those others."

Justin draws a deep breath. He's been thinking about that, himself. "No, sir. I have not met any mages who claim to be any Tradition at all. The Traditions are gone, and as far as I can tell, we are the last of the Order of Hermes."

The uproar is explosive this time. People are out of their seats. Tauris is bellowing something, probably about not trusting this inadequate little git, but he is nearly inaudible under the wordless exclamations or wordy dissertations on why this couldn't be possible.

Augustus puts up with about a minute of this before striking his staff on the floor. The other wizards settle into a sulky sort of silence, and the Chantry head turns his eyes -- suddenly very old -- to Justin. "But you say there are Awakened there. And a Guild of Technology? Are there no organizations for those... not of technology?"

Justin replies quietly. "I met one mage who called herself one of the Jagatsara, which she seemed to think grew out of the remanants of the Traditions, but I don't see the resemblance. I don't know how many of this group there are, or how influential they may be currently, although I've heard stories that they assisted with the Sun's Rebirth." He sighs. "So much was lost, in the way of records, and even methods of recording, that most of what I know comes from stories and rumors."

The hum of discussion recurs, and finally, Augustus turns on the council and snaps, beard crackling with lightning, "Either be silent or begone! He has very little time to tell us what he knows." When they have subsided, he turns back to Justin, rises, and makes his way forward to stand in front of the portal. "What of these hedge mages? What of Paradox? And what powers are ascendant now?"

Justin represses a grim little smile at the uproar his news is causing. "Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between a hedge wizard and someone who's just -doing- small magics. The term Sleepers, as I learned it, isn't really applicable any longer." He does, finally, get to deliver some moderately good news. "As for Paradox...Well. There isn't any. It's gone. As for ascendant powers." Justin pauses to consider how to say this. "The Changing Breeds are very strong, but I wouldn't call them ascendant. There is no large-scale power, no widespread government. And... There is no hiding, for the most part. When I came into this town, the woman who greeted me explained immediately that she was Garou and that many other shifters live here. It's the same everywhere, sir. People of power no longer live in secrecy and seclusion."

Tauris springs to his feet and bellows, "You lousy little liar! Setting traps for us all! We know that none of this can be true! He wants us to come out and reveal ourselves for the *slaughter*. Who *knows* what Nephandi or vampires may have enslaved him in the last year?" He points at Justin ferociously, eyes ablaze. "How can any of you believe this... this... preposterous, obvious tissue of deceit?" He scowls and lowers his chin, a burning gleam emerging from the deep shadows of his eyes. "Can you prove that you aren't something's... plaything, boy? I knew we oughtn't to have sent forth someone as weak-minded as *you*."

Justin trembles ever so slightly, spine as stiff as a rail. "If I am being manipulated, Master, it is without my knowledge. I concede that it is within the realm of possibility. As you know, Mind magics have never been my strong suit. -However.-" He matches stares with Tauris, teeth clenched. "I swear upon all the names of God that I am telling you the truth as I have experienced it in this past year. As for vampires and Nephandi, yes, they still exist, and why should they not! The Corrupter is still here, Masters, and it is trying to regain the power it had before the Sun's Return. Refusing to let it is what this new age is about."

Tauris throws up his hands. "Dear God," he snarls. "I don't believe we're supposed to buy any of this *fairy tale* he's feeding us." He leaps to his feet and storms out, trailing a few other mages in his wake.

Augustus sighs, although it is clear from the tension around his eyes that he is very angry. "We are grateful for your report, Justin," he begins tightly, casting a repressive glance around the room. "You have given us much to... discuss. Have you any other news to share?"

Justin lets out a long breath. "Too much for the time I have, sir. The climate is hot worldwide, it's called the Sun's Rage. The oceans have risen and drowned many of the old coastal cities." He hesitates just an instant, before plunging on. "Sir, if I may, I'd like to recommend that you consider returning the Chantry to Gaia. The knowledge and strength we have can help these people greatly. We can do a lot of good work in the world."

The Chantry Primus looks around at the other wizards and sighs again. "We have much to discuss now." He looks down at his hand as it grips his staff, then back up at Justin. "Gather more information. Try to see through the rumors. Report again in another year's time, when the astral configurations are again correct."

Justin bows his head respectfully. "My love to my parents. Tell Oz hi for me." He grins a little, at the old wizard. "Thank you, sir. I will do my best."

The elder mage nods. "I know you will, lad. *We* shall see you soon, at least." He passes his staff over the window, and it closes.

The space around Justin collapses gently so that he can feel the torrential rain, wind, and tiny bits of hail of the summer thunderstorm that has blown up while he's been... elsewhere.

Justin lets out a huge breath and slumps to the ground, barely managing to fold his legs under him in time. He leans his forehead against his staff for a long moment, suffering the weather to abuse him until he is able to slowly climb back to his feet. He forces himself to gather his supplies before the wind blows them clean off the mountain, which it's threatening to do, although he's deeply fatigued. "That went well," he mutters to himself at one point, only half sarcastically.

A particularly loud and close thunderclap is his only answer.