֍ [Secrets of the Gales] ֍
While a great deal of conspiracy and hearsay surrounded them, a number of such rumors were in fact true - though still unproven
. The Gales did hold a number of secrets individually, but far fewer than Cayla herself. The revelation of Potentials to the world only disclosed a portion of the truth. The Cotton Club evaluated every applicant for their ability and likelihood to develop Potentials, but the secrets to its cultivation remained a closely guarded secret. As needed, small portions of advice were given to help guide a Gale's growth, but the exact science behind it was never disclosed. Just as it was outside of the Club, one did not publicize the fact that they were a Potential-holder to the world, for fear of becoming a prime target for anyone seeking to make use of such abilities for themselves. Within the Club, everyone possessed a Potential, but what those abilities were was not something divulged to anyone save for one's own team - or at least those parts they felt so inclined to expose for the purpose of teamwork. Even within teams of Gales, excessive details were usually omitted, such as background or anything aside from the simple mechanical features of an ability to best utilize it. Everyone was from nowhere, and no one felt so inclined as to unveil anything which might be used against them. In a guild which prevented its members from murdering each other directly, via magical influence, internal conflict were fought with words and subterfuge. Very few knew anything about one another, and information was valuable in achieving an upper-hand. Only the mistress stood above it all, holding all the cards, seemingly knowing everything about everyone who carried her seal and many who did not; regardless if they spoke of it. Fortunately, secrets didn't escape from the web of lies and misdirection the mistress wove within and about the Club. As vexing as it could be, at least there you could be certain your private matters were safe. The only thing all Gales shared was the knowledge that their Potentials grew, atrophied, or changed by their own personal motivations and the strength of that desire.
֍ [The Paradox Codices] ֍
The most valuable items which a Gale could unearth were various items of mundane or magical records known as the Paradox Codices. Often time they appeared as books, tomes, notes and legers, but they were not exclusively limited to such written forms. Sometimes they could be such items like jewelry or enchanted tools possessing some manner of record or message which could not be easily explained. The Codices held records from various times, most often from dates which had yet come - items from the future
. Whether they were truly that or simply a hoax was unknown - but the Archivists of the Club strictly cataloged all such findings, and if it was verified as one of the Codices the guild would award a handsome commission to the Gales who recovered it. To satisfy the nosy chroniclers from the Grand Lodge some were made public. A number of works had been republished over the years, some of which becoming quite well known over time:
Spoiler: Paradox Codices - The Maver Article
"...And so, as abruptly as it had came - it departed. It was a quiet departure, without words nor reason. Like a fleeting unwelcome love. For twelve months and a day, the world - to its furthest reaches, had been drowned in darkness. Crops withered, men starved, and a gloom of a different sort begun to fill men's hearts. From that dark, creatures without name surged forth in countless numbers. Amorphous and without true definition, they slithered about like shadows; the fear and uncertainty within our hearts made manifest to drown frightful souls in their sleep. Cities were lost in a day. Brother turned against brother, doing anything to survive the horrors which the shade birthed. They were creatures who appeared from no where, sowing chaos and discord, then seemingly vanishing from existence like a spiritual flood. Those who were taken left only their personal effects, but no body remained to hint at what had become of them. Only discarded clothes and possessions lay scattered about to greet those who came upon them, like some absent and lonely grave. Light fought back the creatures, and with great braziers and magic men held out against the encroaching blackness. Hoping, praying they would live to see the magnificent silver glint of starlight, or perhaps... if the heart dared dream, the light of the sun. The looming roil of pitch lightless clouds dashed the dreams of most, crushing all illumination. Many during these wretched days could stomach the lightless world no longer, or were simply driven mad with grief. They chosen to end their lives on their own terms rather than live in fear of the toilsome night. Then on that blessed day, the clouds broke and parted letting the first rays of light shine through. We would remember this day forever, the day dawn had returned to a blighted world. Yet, even the brilliant rays of the heavens could not purge the dead-eyed dusk which lingered upon the faces of those who had done what they needed to survive. Those horrors, that shame, they would have to live with it forever. They would call this year The Long Night, and all would come to know just who was responsible. From the deepest depths of obscurity, to the heights of infamy, the one they called 'The Whispering Witch had become legend - and the enemy of humanity.
But we were wrong.
In those visions, she was not the tormentor the world had imagined.
In those dreams, another shadow lingered.
Something sinister. Far too ancient and strange to truly be understood.
If these haunting hallucinations come to pass... then I will know you exist.
I will know you are coming..."
[The document is dated AR 4682 but is heavily damaged from age and poor storage conditions. It is marked with an arcane seal accompanied by a deteriorated signature, but the age of the magic mark roughly validates its creation to around the time the parchment was dated. This is thought to be the only article detailing the events of The Long Night years before they would occur, and thus the only proof that some knew such and event was coming. The paper was salvaged from a heavily damaged journal recovered by Elwick Chyne, an experienced Gale. The name of the signature is not whole but a number of taldane characters of the mostly complete last name remain: ''M-A---V-E-R---". It is considered as a remarkably important article by the Archivists, who actively seek to discover the author who is believed to still be alive. It is so named after the remaining characters of the signature.]
Spoiler: Paradox Codices - On the Death of Magic (The Twelfth Enigma)
"Whether we knew it or not, quietly, slowly, the world had begun to change from what we knew. Somewhere unseen, the things which made the world recognizable begun to unravel, like a thread being pulled away from beneath the fabric of our reality. Children were born... changed. Stranger, stronger, different. It seeped into the soil and all life as we knew it. The people, the plants and animals, each slowly was altered. After the night passed, abilities begun to develop within those 'touched', far unlike any before them. It changed societies and the definition of strength. In the years which followed, men adapted, and what was unique became normal. But to those who watched and waited, it appeared as if the world held its breath in waiting. The Long Night changed the nature of the world in an times, whatever it was which simmered beneath the surface would flare to life. Strange phenomenon beyond comprehension would briefly come and pass in an instant. Wind would cease, magic would choke and die, even the leaves would wither. At times men still vanished as they did during The Night. Those who had lived it would not speak of it, but the daring or daft would find the words with hushed voices. The witches, vile things, loyal to The Whispering Witch - they were the cause - they knew the answers. Yet, none could ask them. For after The Long Night ended, men took up arms and hunted down those which called themselves 'Witches of The Veil', and even those unassociated. It was a madness, a raw and unreasonable fear sown into the minds of those who'd survived. Fear of any magic which could not be called God-given, nor a science. Those who lived in ignorance shied away from even the Wizard's wise lessons, uncertain of where the division between the arcane and the occult dwelt. It was a grim new chapter for humanity and which we would call the Dark Age of Magic. In its place came the advent of Alchemy and the birth of a golden age of the sciences. Great minds rallied to the cause seeing the future, and deciding it best to abandon the old; boarding the new train, rather than being buried by it. Still, others stayed the course, frantically searching for answers as the frequency of the strange phenomenon which seemed to slowly be weakening the magics of the world spread further.
I admit the fault of my order in allowing this ignorance to flourish in the minds of men. The Conclave could have stood candidly before the world, but our greed birthed the desire to horde the fruits of our knowledge. It demanded we linger within the shadows and secret ourselves away from the world. This selfishness, this avarice, was the death of the magical world. By the time we saw our own fault, it was too late. The true enemy would forever remain distant and unknowable while men would be preyed upon without ever knowing why. Adessa, only you can give them the chance they deserve, only you can make right our failure. If this should find you wherever you are, use it."
Professor Talisen Brays
Greater Conclave Grand Savant
(Dated AR 4721)
[The text goes on in strange glyphs and sigils for 12 pages accompanied by various footnotes and details written in a cryptic language. These notes have been an object of study within arcane universities for a number of years. Which seems to detail the activation and use of some manner of passage, theorized as a 'gate' by some, for an unknown purpose. These series of pages are a famous work called the 'Twelfth Enigma'. The language, or characters, used throughout the pages have yet to be translated, however small similarities in a handful of symbols were found with the Shory language. Though there exists no concrete evidence of it, some believe the characters might be written in some manner of precursor-tongue or parent-language from which Shory may have been derived. If such was true, the words transcribed would have been lost for far longer than the Shory-tongue, perhaps even predating the Age of Destiny. Some treated the volume as no more than a hoax or gimmick, while others faithfully believed answers to The Night rested somewhere within its cypher. Whatever the truth, one thing remained true. No one had ever heard of the man who penned it. The book was reprinted in massive volumes and a copy could be found in most cities. This is the most famous excerpt from this book written by its unknown future author titled 'On the Death of Magic']
֍ [Famous Teams & Remarkable Gales] ֍Despite your personal falling out with the Cotton Club, Gales (Club members) came from every walk of life imaginable. Some were villainous, while others were righteous or honest. Perhaps some acquaintances still remain, be they friend or enemy.
- Hopeful applicants in the process of becoming full-fledged Gales or young members who are looking for training can become Prospects. Any sponsored team can take on a number of prospects determined by their sponsor. Prospects travel with the team and aides in accomplishing missions with them while paying them for the privilege. However, if a prospect dies while attached to a team, the Club applies a steep penalty to the team's debt. Teams shouldn't accept prospects unless they are confident they can defend their juniors properly.
The Brothers Duo
- A two man team made solely of the Chyne Brothers; The older Elwick Chyne & the younger Domvyk Chyne. Before they became Gales they were Nirmathi Irregulars fighting Imperial soldiers throughout the Fangwood. They are without a doubt the best Harriers, special guerilla soldiers, ever trained by Cayla's Freehands. The Chyne Brothers have a close relationship with The Red Leper, who was their primary instructor. The unique combat style of Harriers was only developed after the emergence of Veilbeasts, and seeing the need to learn modern blitz warfare they made it a point to find the means to be trained under one of the men who developed it. The brothers had always been professional soldiers, seeking fame in battle, but after The Night the world changed. Modern warfare was redefined by those few who survived in the wilderness and Tainted Lands alone before the sun returned. Those survivors taught the first strategists and developed a new kind of soldier. Now they were well known as some of the most exceptional Harriers one could hire. They maintained good connections with other Harrier companies to assemble proper units when engaging in larger missions. Elwick makes it a personal objective to explore Tainted Lands, but does so with others he can trust.
The Three Swords
- Arguably the most powerful team, but certainly the worst. The Three Swords are an all female team composed of the best swordfighters in the Cotton Club, the 'dream-team' of the guild. However, the team is dysfunctional. Almost never working together and rarely even seen in the same place. The team is composed of Lampetia - the inhuman ghostly swordswoman who has no interest in the living. Haust of Six Seals - the homicidal slasher who murdered six Gales and violently maims any others, and Glebriel 'the Swordsong' - the former Freehand who lost her freedom again after being sabotaged by Haust who refused to be sponsored by her. Haust plummeted the team into millions of gold worth of debt to ensure Glebriel would never be free again. In their usual manner, Lampetia only speaks to herself, Haust almost never speaks at all, and Glebriel speaks too much. They never agree to anything, and Glebriel has long given up on earning her freedom again. Thus she lives like a queen while letting the club foot the bill, adding on to their already insurmountable debt. Without question they are the worst team in the club outside of their combat ability, however they each have a number of significant personal accomplishments. Cayla tolerates their behavior since they still greatly contribute to the guild individually. Some Gales have nicknames for the team, calling them 'the three queens' or 'cotton princess', of course no one actually says any of those name to their face. Only an idiot would poke fun at Haust, unless he wanted to be the next stain on her sword.
An Offworlder from somewhere no ones ever heard of. Her soft features and small stature are harshly offset by her cold unblinking face. While evidently not an any kind of android, or a least not of a kind seen before, she is most certainly not human. Her ability to communicate with others is limited, not understanding human emotions or complex speech aside from literal translations. What ALICE is, is as much a mystery as her origins. She possesses superhuman strength and speed, but no capacity for what might be considered commonsense in this world. She never forgets things she has seen and is able to regurgitate information from records verbatim, making her a welcome addition to many teams - however she rejects offers as their goals do not align with her own secret objectives.
⯎ Bel'cylnn Gale:
A no good backstabbing rogue of the worst kind. No one really knows who Bel is since she's changed her face and name more times then one could count, but those who've survived working with her believe she's perhaps an exiled Red Mantis Assassin, or an agent of Daggermark's Assassins and Poisoners guild due to her large skillset revolving around such work. Bel is a seemingly kind woman with honeyed words for anyone daft enough to listen. A viper who doesn't show her fangs except when it was time to kill. Everyone and anything was expendable to achieve her own goals, even you. Something you learned the hard way. Still, she was the best in the business when it came to ruthlessly murdering unsuspecting fools without anyone ever knowing the difference. No target has ever survived once she has set her eyes upon them. Your misfortune with her was simply bad luck. Things just happened not to work out like they'd been planned, but ultimately what was a little collateral damage if one still achieved results? Bel'cylnn's book of tactics is filled with all things foul and underhanded. Be they women, children or animals - everything was fair game and nothing was sacred. She was a storm of greed being fed by Cayla's approval and the Red Leper's endorsement. Hers was as a bellowing flame devouring all around her, an endless voracious apatite for everything she couldn't possess; but such things weren't necessarily negative qualities in a Gale. So great was her rapacity that some suspected her Potential growth might dwarf all others with time. Ruthless and burning with an insatiable avarice, she was the perfect wave of destruction Cayla needed to tip the scale in her favor. To those who got hurt by stepping in her path, it wasn't personal.
⯎ Blane Arceneaux:
An Offworlder from Earth. The older Frenchman was a skilled swordsmen and trustworthy ally, but seemed haunted by a great deal of ghosts from his past. He actively pursues work as a Gale, taking it very seriously. His search for Paradox Codices is all in efforts to piece together whatever he can about The Long Night and its inevitable return, that he might find a way to his home and family. His experiences make him a valuable friend in preparing for dangerous trips into the Tainted Lands and combating Veilbeasts.
⯎ The Red Leper:
A Freehand, one of the first. During the early days of the guild, things had still been rough and gritty. Men died every day as Gales learned how best to combat the threats which emerged with the end of The Long Night and venture out to reclaim the wilderness. The Red Leper had survived the worst of it all, The Long Night, the siege of the Hollowed Tides, and what came after. He had survived alone for many months during The Night, done things both savage and cruel. He'd become a survivor. He was macabre and conniving, but now he was the guilds spy master and information dealer. He knew everything worth knowing about anything or anyone - or so he believed. He traded in it, dealt in it, information was everything. To the Gales, where gathering information before a mission was the difference between living and dying, his service was critical.
⯎ Glain 'Littlepockets':
Charismatic and daring, Glain's tongue could almost move as quickly as his feet could. The undisputed champion of thieves, Glain was possibly the most skilled burglar and cutpurse of his generation. He wasn't much in a fight, but neither were his enemies when they realized they were lacking weapons. Illegal entry, disarming traps and lockpicking were his forte. Those which worked with him often described his work as more of an art. There has yet been a lock which has foiled Glain's skill, and it has been a number of years since the Varisian born thief had been caught on a job. Due to his skills, he refuses to join any team and instead sells his valuable abilities to the Club. His work is not cheap, but no one has ever said that hiring the affectionately named 'Littlepockets' was not worth every piece of gold. Glain hates his nickname, which is exactly why it stuck.
⯎ Weiss, Witch of Flame:
The only public witch of the Gales. After The Long Night, fear of witches and the subsequent Witch Hunts led to every witch being labeled as a Veil Witch loyal to The Whispering Witch. These misconceptions have made it difficult for any witch to live publically, such was no different for Weiss. However, she refused to live in shadow like a criminal. Weiss became infamous overnight after being accepted by The Cotton Club, fueling talk of them being 'witch-lovers' or loyal to The Whispering Witch themselves. A number of riots and torch wielding mobs made a scene during the first few years. Weiss completed a number of quests showcasing her unusual magic, which was a farcry from the subtle curses used by conventional witches. She commanded elemental spirits to unleash devastation upon her enemies. It was loud, frightening, and accompanied by large amounts of evil laughter as she brought waves of molten flame crushing down upon hordes of Veilbeasts, followed by violent explosions of thundering fire. Had there been such a witch during the Witch Hunts, most men figured they would be dead - thus she evidently wasn't a Veil Witch by their simple logic... The voices quieted down afterwards, but she didn't earn any love from those who simply hated witches and magic. Rather, they feared her more, while the remnant Inquisitors from the Hunts believed she was even more dangerous - too powerful to be left alive
. Within the Club she is equally feared and respected, but few trade words with her due to the belief that contracted spirits aren't bound by the same rule of those who bear a seal. Dying a horrible cursed death to some formless spirit wasn't how anyone wanted to go. Weiss was actually a very pleasant woman, born from a long line of hereditary witches, but most never got within an arms reach of her in fear they'll be violently murdered.