Ritual & Society

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Year One

Terminal City Redoubt, the Freehold of Vancouver, was once a smoking ruin. And yet, phoenix-like, it has risen from the ashes. This is the chronicle of its first year of rebirth, and the men and women who made it possible.

May, 2013

Meet & Greet

The beleaguered survivors and new arrivals of Terminal City Redoubt gathered in numbers for the first time since the Wild Hunt stormed Vancouver. In the dying days of Spring, the Freehold attempted to restore some a semblance of normalcy and togetherness.

Summer King Ephraim, the man who would be High King in a few weeks, spent much of the early part of the evening at his devotions. The Summer Court talked among themselves as they stood guard nearby. When the massive Ogre Oni emerged, he let it be known that St. Paul's Anglican church could be a refuge for all Lost in need. As Warden of the church, the Summer King was in a position to see to it that those using it would not be disturbed.

The Fall Court also spoke among themselves as they waited for King Byron, the perpetually late, to arrive. Once he deigned to grace them with his presence, the gorgeous Fairest Telluric made is known that all Lost of a scholarly bent were welcome to utilize his bookstore on Commercial Drive.

Meanwhile, the androgenous Blackbird Bishop Melkin arrived with several courtless, and other assorted changelings who, for one reason or another, had had difficulty contacting their monarch. The soft-spoken Bishop stayed only long enough to deliver the new arrivals - and to cut the Summer King a large cheque for undisclosed purposes.

High Queen Melia of Spring interrupted the gathering to ensure that her court had a grand entrance. The diminutive Wizened Thusser seemed to be in constant motion - a state which those who came to know the Queen would become immensely familiar with. As director of Verdant Home Theater Productions, the pretty Spring Queen made it known that interested parties could use Granville Island's Arts Club Theater as a base of operations, if they so desired and announced her intention to hold frequent master classes there.

Meanwhile, the Winter court was meeting elsewhere, under the direction of their mysterious Queen Ann-Marie. Very few would see the unremarkable looking Elemental Manikin again until her ascension as High Queen. The Winter Queen did not choose to make a dedicated meeting space available to the court, but announced a fondness for a certain coffee shop at which conversation could be had without being overheard - and, more importantly, without being seen to hide. At the end of the meeting, the Winter Court dispersed, joining the gathering discretely in twos and threes.

June, 2013

The Summer Ascension

A second such gathering took place on the Summer Solstice, bearing witness to the passing of the crown from Spring to Summer. Bao and Asha Emberlin, the two Dragon Knights of Summer tried various tactics to get a rise out of Queen Melia, who taunted them for their ineffectiveness. She gathered her court around her for ‘one last revel’, and the Summer Courtiers attempted to trip her up as the Spring Court sang and danced with their Queen. Pierce Thornwood, the gorgeous Knight of Spring came closest to his Queen's prowess on the dance floor, and showered the two of them in rose petals. Asha called for a change of music and challenged Melia to a dance-off, which the Queen won handily. All was not lost however, for, in the course of the evening the Draconic Knight had managed to determine that Melia was sensitive on the subject of her dead fetch. When Asha taunted her about her inability to show mercy to the creature, Melia took a swing at her and the crown passed. Summer had officially begun.

July, 2013

The Feast of Strength

The next Summer gathering marked the Feast of Strength, held at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. The event was sponsored by the Goblin Market, with betting chits serving as prizes for the events. The festivities were interrupted by the shooting of Archibald Hamish. This being a public place, the police were called, and the Freehold scattered. Quick thinking on the part of Magistrate Ted of Winter allowed the event to continue in the basement of St. Paul’s and likely prevented the ritual from failing.

August, 2013

The Dueling Goblin Markets

The Autumn court held a meeting, at which Walker called out King Byron for not being frightening enough. When the Autumn Court scattered in anticipation of a challenge for the crown, Walker left the court in disgust that no one would support him against a King he could no longer follow. He immediately joined the Summer court, repeating several unflattering things that Byron had recently said about Ephraim. Various personalities from two rival Goblin Markets competed for the business of the Freehold.

September, 2013

The Fall Ascension

The Fall Ascension of 2013 took place in a dilapidated farm house in Tsawwassen. King Byron was not in attendance as various Fall Courtiers attempted to cause High King Ephraim to give in to fear. Arman Leto of Fall was eventually successful, telling a story that caused the Summer King to fall from his chair in fright, prompting Byron to make his grand entrance. Nearly immediately thereafter, Byron received a call from Spring Queen Melia (apparently stuck in traffic), berating him for his choice of location, which had thwarted her desire to be in attendance for the passing of the crown.

The Freehold was treated to the dramatic public break-up of Intoxibella and Pierce Thornwood of Spring, the latter still having feelings for the wife he left behind when he was taken. Such are the complications that romantically inclined Lost must deal with, but, in the case of poor fragile Intoxibella, the strain proved too great, and she fled into the hedge, heartbroken (pursued by a number of Spring Courtiers, as well as her sister Zoe of Summer). The hedge in this area appeared to be some form of industrial waste land, and when the sisters were attacked by a gigantic sea monster, the others thought better of it and returned to the farmhouse. The sisters were never seen again, leaving Morgan of Fall the last surviving member of the tragic family. Shotgun Awe would later write a song about the situation, decrying the Freehold’s apathy in the face of such distress.

October, 2013

Ashen Hunt Debrief

The Autumn King called a debrief of the hunt sometime later, publicly rewarding participating Good Neighbours with some glamour and inviting them to join the Freehold (an offer that most present accepted). The formal part of the evening done, members of the Freehold exchanged information and made plans to tie up loose ends. AJ went around telling everyone about a playing card ze had found.

November, 2013

The Delegation

A delegation from the diurnal Squamish Freehold arrived to negotiate with their sometime associates of the Vancouver Freehold. In the end, they would go home disappointed.

Tensions rose among the non-negotiating members of the Freehold over a recent Shotgun Awe song that not only spoke directly about matters Lost, but also appeared to criticize those who had died in defense of the Freehold. Darius Trask of Dawn challenged him to a duel, which the punk rocker refused. Trask then tricked Skirmish (another good neighbour) into attacking Shotgun Awe, and all hell broke loose when Adriana Valdis of Spring, a member of the Freehold, tried to defend him (thereby breaking her oath by hindering a Good Neighbour). Adriana was banished for her trouble (a punishment later rescinded), and ended up getting knocked out by Walker of Summer.

December, 2013

The Winter Ascension

It now being December, the Freehold gathered for the Winter Ascension. A Fall Court gambit to make things harder on the Winter Court by having a Dawn Courtier sit next to the Autumn King failed (since said Dawn Courtier's mantle wasn't high enough to affect him), and lead to some political fallout ('isn't this supposed to be just between fall and winter?'). Anonymous of Winter was in proud possession of the Autumn King's worst memory, and commissioned a song about it (Fall of a Man).

Shotgun Awe, then a Courtless Good Neighbour, sang it at the gathering while Anonymous sang backup. All eyes were on the possessors of such hypnotic voices as they sang. Tears of humiliation and remembered pain fell from King Byron's eyes, but the crown stubbornly refused to budge. Refusing the give up on this tactic, Anonymous tried again this time taking the lead with another Winter courtier sang back-up. Meanwhile, other Winter courtiers were working their subtler plans in the background.

As her first official act, Winter Queen Ann-Marie asked Raymond Carter and Professor Arman Leto to lead teams of pledge-crafters in the design of a new Good Neighbours Oath and a new Freehold Oath. She ruled that Good Neighbours who were also pledgesmiths should have input into the former, but not the latter. (But that the teams should comment on each others' work once a first draft had been completed).

A fight broke out, as seems to happen so often these days, between Good Neighbours. Aries, a member of the Freehold attempted to intervene, attacking both parties (and, in the process, breaking her Freehold Oath). She and the Good Neighbours in question, were assigned to the guardianship of Walker, a Blackbird Bishop to 'learn how to behave at Freehold gatherings'.

Year Two

The Freehold of Vancouver finds its feet and tests its strength, helping recently escaped changelings do the same

January, 2014

The Winter Masque

Queen Ann-Marie called the Winter Masque for the January gathering of the Freehold - under the guise of a charity gala. People bought sandwiches for the homeless who congregated outside the Four Seasons hotel and everyone was generally decent to each other. An avatar of sorrow appeared, whispering various sadness inducing things in people’s ears. The event came to a dramatic conclusion as the lights suddenly went out and two people disappeared in a flash of red light. Once the dust had settled, those who were pledge-bound to Edgar Vaughn felt that connection break - apparently the itinerant Dawn Courtier had gotten too close to something dangerous.

In the days after the event, word quickly spread of the death or disappearance of Autumn King Byron. The investigative might of the Freehold reacted quickly, and found the former Ashen monarch in the basement of his book store. The unfortunate Fairest lay exsanguinated in the middle of his own ritual circle. In the process of their investigation into his death, Byron’s hopeless love for Spring Queen Melia was revealed. Arman Leto of Fall took charge of ensuring that the terms of the ex-King’s will were honoured and went around disbursing Byron’s last gifts.

February, 2014

The Day of Secret Desires

The two pledge-writing task forces completed their work and Queen Ann-Marie told off her counterpart of Spring to go and re-swear the Good Neighbours (freed of their oaths by Byron’s death) at a satellite location. It was made very clear that this oath is a) a pre-requisite for attending Freehold events, and b) a temporary measure - after three months, those sworn to it must either join the Freehold or cease attending events.

The Winter Queen called the Freehold together to celebrate Ashes to Embers. BloodOak of Spring, a recent returnee felt that he had nothing to cast into the flames, but, wishing to participate, plunged his hands in instead.

Meanwhile, the Spring Court staged a Valentine’s intervention, urging everyone to write the names of those they secretly desired on pieces of heart-shaped paper, to be read out en masse at the end of the night (Autumn of Fall wrote down ‘Me’ several times). Shotgun Awe attended the meeting in Twilight, mysteriously dropping Valentines in front of each one of the women present. Ann-Marie instructed Silas Venture to burn the one addressed to her.

March, 2014

The Spring Ascension

The Spring Ascension saw the Winter and Spring courts face off in an attempt to evoke the emotion of the latter in the monarch of the former. Newly minted Spring Courtier Shotgun Awe opened with the Winter Queen's favourite food, and Raymond Carter followed up with a secret for her ears only.

While this was occurring emissaries from the Dragon City arrived - a Chinese speaking lady, making a heroic attempt at English, and her multi-lingual Wizened Chatelaine attendant. They sought to renew the beneficial relationship that once existed between the Freehold and the Dragon City, and were also encouraging folk to visit the Council of Virtues - another powerful hedge civilization. The lady also cautioned that people of insufficient virtue might risk becoming trapped in the Council's wards, as happened to a certain hot-tempered friend of hers (namely, Drac, the Dragon of Summer).

Also present was a confused changeling named Kali, apparently fresh from the thorns.

The most chaos during the events of the night erupted from an unlikely source as a human managed to sneak into the gathering. Angela, the former foster mother of two Freehold members, who recognized what she thought were her two grown foster daughters, as well as her fiance consorting with a variety of strange folk late at night. The woman proved very stubborn in her attempts to find out what was going on until the Spring Queen erased her memories and convinced her that she'd slipped, fallen, and hit her head (explaining the strange visions). Unfortunately, the woman had a string of text messages that she'd sent which cast doubt on this version of events, leading her to return to the scene of events to try and make sense of it all.

April, 2014

The Onyx Trial of the Frozen Crown

Ann-Marie having stepped down, the trial for the Winter Crown was called by Silas Venture, with himself, Ted, Crystal Frost, and Memersworth facing off against each other. After a closely fought competition, Silas emerged as the new Winter King.

King Silas felt former- Queen Ann-Marie’s death shortly after he took the crown. The Winter Court put considerable effort into investigating, eventually finding her desiccated corpse in a cottage on Grouse Mountain. The courtiers are as yet unsure of exactly what happened to her, although the medical cause of death is quite clearly dehydration.

May, 2014

Decision Time for the Good Neighbours

The Freehold gathered in May for two reasons: 1) to bear witness to the decisions of the former good neighbours who now, by the terms of their oaths must either join the Freehold or leave, 2) to formulate a plan to deal with the Hunter trap they’d encountered in April. High Queen Melia appointed Sir Darius Trask, Knight of Dawn to handle the latter, and took a personal interest in the former. The gathering was interrupted by the sudden death of Kali, errant wife of Wodenaz. News of what had happened made its way quickly through the gathering which became a much more somber affair.

Deciding that Arman Leto of Fall, Asha Emberlin of Summer, and Raymond Carter of Spring looked very much like the future leaders of their courts, the High Queen took them aside. She announced that she would be stepping down as Queen after the passing of the crown, and wanted to give them the benefit of her experience as monarch - an exercise that proved to be half philosophical lecture, half pep talk.

June, 2014

The Summer Ascension

The Freehold gathered for the Summer Ascension aboard the great hedge-ship Undaunted, of which this would be the maiden voyage. There was music to accompany the last few minutes of Spring as the hedge responded to Queen Melia’s desire to line dance by spontaneously playing a Shania Twain song. This quickly dissolved into a free-style dance party. The Summer Court seemed to be having a bit of trouble making the normally temperamental Queen angry enough for the crown to pass to Summer until Quicksilver the Ninja thought to mention a former lover of hers who had died during the Hard Year:

“Ignatius - who was that guy? I heard he was a jerk, so I’m glad he’s dead.”

Melia proceeded to slug him and the crown promptly manifested over the head of Asha Emberlin of Summer.

July, 2014

The Shikar

The Freehold gathered allies and resources for a final attack on the Pax Machina. The King Asha Emberlin called the Shikar, and the might of the Freehold and its allies assembled on The Undaunted. The Freehold chose to attack the Pax Machina under the guise of an offer of surrender. Raymond Carter had succeeded in drawing all the Generals there, so as to ensure that the main force could be taken out in one action.

Toll-takers Knights, Squires of the Broken Bough, A Gilded Aspirant, a Margravine, and the Hobgoblin crew of The Undaunted all fought beside the warriors of Terminal City Redoubt against the Pax Machina in their massed hundreds. When the battle ended, the Generals had fallen, the field was littered with the mechanical corpses of their men, and the butcher's bill for the Freehold and their allies measured a mere 14.

August, 2014

An Irish Wake for Melia

This month's gathering of the Freehold was supposed to be a victory party for the defeat of the Pax Machina. But when the Summer King had to cancel due to some urgent business, the Spring Court decided to host an Irish Wake for Melia instead. There was, at one point, a Riverdance-Off between Sir Darius Trask of Dawn and Quicksilver the Ninja of Summer, which the later won convincingly. The ghost of Byron was also there, to mourn his beloved. He had a long conversation with Shaelis, who, being both blind and relatively new, was blithely unaware of who he was and that he was a ghost.

September, 2014

The Fall Ascension

Shaelis manifested a fall mantle, after one of Morgan's retainers terrified her out of her wits by dragging her away from the gathering and scaring her dog. Being blind, she couldn't see that the whole thing had been a set-up. (The assembled fall courtiers had wanted her mantle to manifest in time for her to take part in the ritual of ascension). The ascension itself was a relatively quiet affair, with fall courtiers attempting unsuccessfully to take advantage of Summer King Asha Emberlin's fear of having her toes bitten by fish. The most creative attempt came from newly-minted fall courtier Shaelis, who placed two piranhas under the bandages covering her empty eye sockets, then went to Asha, screaming that there was something in her eyes. Unfortunately, the Summer King was more annoyed than afraid as the (now mostly dead) fish flopped onto her feet. The fish are now swimming contentedly in the sink of the Graymayre Books bathroom.

Morgan took a different tack, combining an impressive Mantle of Terrible Beauty with her gentrified bearing. In doing so, she took on the aspect of one of the Others, terrifying the Summer King (and several other observers) into taking off down the street.

October, 2014

The Emerald Trial of the Verdant Sovereign

Members of the Spring Court gathered to observe the Emerald Trial of the Verdant Sovereign - a contest to see whose leadership the Wyrd would sanction. Adriana of Spring wrote a song expressing her long-repressed devotion to Shotgun Awe and performed it at a masquerade ball she threw for the Freehold. Meanwhile Raymond Carter's casino night impressed with its originality and fulfillment of others' desires. In the end, the victory went to Raymond Carter.

November, 2014

The Desperate Straits of Squamish

Showing rare unity of purpose, the Freehold dedicated an entire month to addressing the plight of The Squamish Freehold.

December, 2014

The Winter Ascension

The shift in crowns went almost unnoticed amid the chaos of the night - a fitting tribute to the most subtle of courts.

Year Three

Having hit its stride, the Freehold confronts the residual threats of the Hard Year, as well as others, new and bizarre

January, 2015

The Secrets and the Grave

The drama started early when a new arrival (Duncan) mistook Angela (the fetch) for her changeling, who had attacked his lover in the hedge. He went after her, and almost managed to kill her before being dog-piled by several members of the Freehold. Summer King Asha Emberlin was running a bit late, and had to get her licks in once the fight had already ended.

It was an emotional night for Asha and Angela, as the former had discovered the dead body of her fetch (with whom she had formerly been allied) with what appeared to be a cryptic suicide note. Through the judicious use of Shade and Spirit, King Arman Leto determined that Caroline (the fetch) had killed herself in despair after Angela had broken off their engagement.

Meanwhile, a being calling himself Epithet was wandering the gathering talking of sorrowful memories and secrets.

February, 2015

The Winter Mask

The curtains opened on the glittering scene of the Winter Mask - this year in the guise of a private performance by The Maple Leaf Singers, the entertainers of choice to Hollywood North.

The scene was glittering, with members of the Freehold unable to tell each one another from the other faces in the crowd. These other faces included eccentric socialite Jesamyn Gervais (the evening's hostess), two party crashers just looking to have a good time; the Emissary of Vice in the guise of Cruella De Vil's twin brother; a mysterious beauty; and two scheming kidnappers, who would go on to disrupt the Mask for the second year in a row.

Later on in the evening, Angela (or, rather, her changeling) arrived at the party bearing a 'gift' in the form of a broken changeling slave. Two avatars of sorrow also made an appearance, although they did not have to do much to cause sadness as the revelation spread that Jimmy, who was to have been married that spring, would not be returning.