Joining the Sixth
Guides (a lot of e-mail)
GM: Ken Kaze was beginning to wonder if magic groups
really did exist. Three weeks had past and still no word
or contact from anyone. He was confident the right words had
been said and the strategic appearances at several awakened
hang-outs had been appropriate. Maybe the dialogue with the
Silver Hat's bartender had edged into boasting. Perhaps the
inquiries at the Matrix Masters chat rooms had been a little
less subtle than Ken had hoped. Oh well, life goes on.
It's Monday morning, the 31st of January. Bills are due tomorrow,
but luckily shadowrunning has helped Ken return to his middle
class lifestyle and supplement the mundane detective work.
Ken is just finishing up the next month's bills, working at
his small desk, when there is a knock at the office door.
A hand on a pistol under the desk, Ken calls out, "We're open.
The door opens up and in walks an elven woman. She is a stunningly
beautiful Amerindian with deep eyes, long black hair, and
a confident look about her. She is wearing an armored long
coat of plain dark gray and is wearing slacks and a blouse
of slightly different shades of gray. She doesn't seem
concerned about the plain fashion statement her dress is making,
but instead understands her appearance and body will speak
for her instead.
"Welcome, Mrs..." Ken says as he stands up to shake her hand.
She returns the grip solidly, hinting at some street background
"Susan. Susan Ghostchaser. I'm glad I caught you before you
headed out on your daily errands. Monday is usually the day
you visit the data console down the street to check the news
right?" She says with a smile as she sits down in the chair
facing Ken's desk.
"I suppose you have me at a disadvantage. Can I help you?"
responds Ken in a friendly manner, hints of flirtation sliding
behind his pleasant words.
"I think we can help each other. I am a member of the magical
group, The Sixth Guides. We heard about your inquiries
and I think you'd fit right in. We are a small group
right now, but our cause is a just one. We believe in
investigating and uncovering the magical mysteries of the
new world and that such magical knowledge should be shared
with metahumanity. Only by educating the public about magic
and what lies around them and ahead of them, can we approach
any level of unity. It's an honest belief and one that we've
pursued for the past two years. If you are interested, we
would love to have you," she ends the last sentence with a
"I'm sure you have some questions," she says as she looks
about the detective's office.
Me: Ken adopts a more comfortable posture, gun still
in hand, and replies, "Yes, Ms. Ghostchaser, questions.
Please bear with me, as I was not expecting you, but of course
that is what you wanted, yes?"
Susan only smiles in response.
"First, the name. It's a little awkward isn't it? Why
not 'Guides of the Sixth?' or 'Sixth World Guides'?"
Ken laughs. "OK, perhaps those weren't the questions
you were looking for. Let's try these out for size,
and forgive me if some of them sound trite:
Who do you serve?
Where does your support, if any, come from?
What would be expected of me?
What's the probability of a beautiful woman getting involved
with a dashing young detective?
"Ken sits back, relaxing his grip on the gun under his desk,
but crosses his leg, keeping his hand close to his ankle-holster
and the back up pistol inside it.
GM: "Don't be concerned about asking the right questions,
or too many for that matter," begins Susan. "We're inquisitive
by nature. I understand your defensive and suspicious nature,
Ken. There are enough twisted people in this world to watch
out for, and the urban legends of satanic magical orders bent
on taking over the world doesn't help us at all does
it." The last bit she says while gesturing to herself and
"We are a small group founded by Steven Archallos. Archallos
is a philanthropist and humanitarian. He is mundane, much
to his consternation, for he is fascinated with magic and
the wondrous effects it is having on the world. He tried getting
involved in magical expeditions through the Atlantean Foundation
and other corporations, but they seemed to hoard magical knowledge
to themselves and looked down on any mundane being interested
in magic. 'Only the awakened could truly appreciate or use
this knowledge,' was what they said to him. He realized that
he would have to start his own organization if he wanted to
get involved in these magical mysteries. With recent events
like the Chicago bug crisis, Steven also came to realize that
magic did not just effect the lives of the select few Awakened
metahumans. It was something that involved everyone and would
eventually swallow the mundane public if magic did not become
a familiar and understood entity.
"The public only hears about magic through small news articles
and from warped trid programs. Education is sorely lacking.
The second half of our agenda is to enlighten people about
magic; bring these magical wonders out for the public to see.
Corporations want to use magic, like they use technology --
as tools for power and profit. But magic is not something
that is manufactured, it is all around us. Sure it is only
within easy reach of approximately 1% of the population, most
which don't know they're magical, but it is still there."
Susan pauses a second, "So I think that gives some insight
into who we serve," she marks the questions off on her fingers,
"and where do we get support."
She looks at Ken and smiles as if to re-establish the friendly
"Why you. Well, we are looking for people who are inquisitive
by nature, have a good heart, and are willing to take action
instead of sitting on the side lines. When it was time to
seek out another member, I had heard about you and your group
quest, so here I am. I kind of work in the same field as you,
but with not as many official papers," she smiles hinting
at something slightly naughty and playful.
"We have monthly meetings where we talk about current events,
mostly magical in nature. Every now and then someone gives
a report on an important topic. Each person helps the cause
out in their own way. We have one member who reads magical
stories to children every Sunday. Another is active
in the university lecture circuit. And a third spreads information
about corporate magical projects on public matrix sites. To
each his own. Sometimes we take matters into our own hands
by doing odd jobs. We try not to let any opportunity go unfulfilled,
whether by taking action ourselves, or passing the information
on to the right people. It sounds more nefarious than it really
She finishes talking and waits for a response. A couple seconds
pass and then she adds, "The last question is going to depend
on how dashing." She says with a smile.
Me: Ken rewards her smile with his own, replying,
"Well, I am equally intrigued by your benefactor, your group,
and you. I am looking for a group with diversity of
thought, deed, and membership. The investigative aspects
especially interest me."
Ken looks off for a moment in thought then continues, "I
had never really thought of mundanes exploring the mysteries
of the Awakened world . . ." He trails off in thought,
looks down for a moment, then locks eyes with Susan again,
". . . but I don't think I like the way the Atlantean Foundation
treated Archallos. That aloof detachment and intellectual
snobbery distances us from our fellow metahumans."
Ken stands up and starts pacing slowly behind his desk, expounding
in a careful voice, reminiscent of a lecturer speaking, "The
very word 'mundane' is an insult. Our community has
convinced itself too readily that it understands even the
most fundamental mystery - Awakening. Show me someone
that can confidently point to anyone and declare them mundane
beyond a shadow of a doubt, and I will show you someone that
is not fully awake themselves."
"Our awakened colleagues . . . seek solace in taxonomy.
They classify and categorize the magical mysteries, drawing
comfort from the label they create, as if naming the unknown
confers understanding. They seek succor through sorting."
Ken pauses to let his clever words take effect then continues,
"I may be prejudiced, but I think a shaman has more respect
for the mysteries. Deep down we have an inkling of the
depths of our ignorance." Ken stops pacing, turns, smiles
and looks back to Susan, then sits back down at his desk,
his arms planted firmly on top of it, his fingers clasped.
"I have begun to ramble though. I am interested in
the group. I would like to learn more. I warn
you, my heart is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is good
enough for your group, perhaps not. I look forward to
finding out." He looks silently at Susan, matching her
GM: "Excellent," responds Susan while standing up
with enthusiasm. "We have our meetings on the last day of
each month. Tonight is January's meeting, and we are all ready
for your visit ... and perhaps your stay." Her smile
brightens up the room and warms the slight chill in the office.
"I'll come by your office tonight around 7 pm. We try to
make our meetings informal and include a dinner cooked by
one of the members, so don't eat. Erlos should be cooking
some cajun gumbo with dirty rice. He's a good cook despite
his disposition. Tonight at seven then?"
"I eagerly await your presence once again brightening this
dreary space," Ken says with flourish while gesturing grandly
to the office. A smile peeks through his faux serious face
and the woman meets his smile in full.
With that, Susan leaves. Ken returns to his normal business,
waiting for the evening to come.
Me: Ken conducts his normal affairs and stops by the
gym for a workout. He picks up a six-pack of premium
beer and a bottle of decent wine for the dinner. He
stops by his apt. and gets cleaned up before the meeting.
Just to be safe, keeps an eye out for "tails" as the meeting
draws close. As he waits in his office, he catches up
on reading some of the current journals on magic, to provide
decent conversation material.
GM: Ken goes through the day's activities with a careful
eagerness. There does not seem to be anybody watching or following
Ken. He picks up a nice dry chardonnay for the seafood on
the way to the office, the pickings in Central being much
better than the malt liquor and boxes of synthwine at the
Riverton stores. Ken catches up on current events relating
to magic through his subscription to "Awakened Agenda," a
Time-like magazine focusing on magical issues. He pays particular
attention to a story on corporate sponsored exploration of
Australia because of its relevance to the Sixth Guides' beliefs.
The interior of the continent seems to have an abundance of
unique artifacts and magicks that may provide insight into
the evolution of magic in isolated high-mana areas.
At 7 pm, Susan Ghostchaser comes knocking at the office.
He is dressed casually in slate colored slacks and a black
thick fabric blouse that accentuates her attractive form.
She smiles upon seeing Ken answer the door.
"Our chariot awaits," she says as she motions out into the
The two of you exchange pleasantries and minor flirtations
one the way down to the street. Outside, a gray Chrysler-Nissan
jackrabbit sits parked on the street. She opens the vehicle
remotely and the two of you get in. The small commuter car
is comfortable, with extra space for the front passengers
at the expense of the rear bench seat. Some additional controls
and displays indicate that although the car is nondescript
from the outside, it has obviously been modified for Susan's
"The drive is about 45 minutes in this kind of traffic,"
she says as she glides out into the near Downtown traffic.
She seems adept at handling her vehicle as well as looking
good in its synthleather seats.
"I'm sure we can keep each other entertained," says Susan
as she floors the vehicle and cruises out past the slower
daily commuters. She gives Ken a grin, showing off a little.
During the drive, Susan slowly opens up. She seems stoic
and observant by nature, but is not adverse to conversation.
Ken puts on the charm and eventually she opens up to him and
talks about various small topics, mostly concerning the group.
"We've been operating for a couple of years now out of Everett.
The headquarters is well furnished and serves as a meeting
place, a study hall, and a temporary resident for those of
us working late. Steven's been a very generous patron and
always seems eager to provide anything we need for our work.
Researching current topics and items is the main thing we
use the Hall for, oh that's what we call the place.
"There are five of us now, but if you decide to accept we'll
be at an even six. We take a lot of effort to make sure that
potential candidates are sympathetic to our core beliefs,
for that's why we are part of the Sixth Guides. We've only
had one potential member decide to not join, but he bowed
out discreetly and we still keep in touch with him. In his
case, he just had too much in his life to dedicate to yet
another cause. He was interested in a more initiatory
"Andrew is our leader of sorts. Steven may pay the bills,
but he is smart enough to defer to those with experience.
He enjoys watching our activities and becoming involved every
now and then, but mostly we follow our hearts without any
need for help. Andrew is professor of
anthropology at Georgetown University in DC. He's also a hermetic
mage of some skill. He is our public spokes person, even though
we try and keep a low profile. He tours the university and
corporate lecture circuit whenever he has time.
"Dirk Brannigan is a character. He's a professional explorer
with ties to the Atlantean Foundation, Smithsonian, and several
corporations. A real thrill seeker. He's seen more magic and
more parts of the world than all of us put together. Dirk's
a physical adept and a damn good one.
"Elaine is our resident conscience. She is an shaman devoted
to the path of Owl. She runs a small talismonger shop and
is kind of like a mother to us -- very quiet and protective.
If she approves of you, then you are definitely in.
"Next we have Erlos. He's kind of an odd addition to the
group because from meeting and talking with him you'd think
he was more likely to be part of some corporate death squad
than aligned with us. He knows Andrew from the past and has
never let us down at all. let's be honest here, he's a reputable
shadowrunner by trade. I'm sure we've both come across them
before. You probably want to wait to charm him until later
since he can be very tough to get to know. I still feel uncomfortable
if I'm alone around him.
"And that leaves me. My magical aptitude is an odd one, but
the Fates must have a destiny in store. Gargoyle speaks to
me and grants me the ability to commune with spirits. I'm
a detective, like yourself, although I've been involved in
more unorthodox cases. More of a
freelance investigator for hire, not really the kind of steady
work you have. Although I sense that you are branching out."
She is finishing the synopsis of the group's composition
about the time she brings her car off the residential/office
area of downtown Everett and down into an underground parking
garage. She comes to a stop at the guard booth, an outcrop
of some internal security station.
"Late night meeting again," she says as she hands over her
credstick. The Knight Errant guard nods and slots the
stick into a handheld verification box. It beeps a friendly
sound and he hands it back.
"Security is relatively good here. Of course, we've added
our own to our area. We share a floor with a travel agency,
a small group of lawyer offices, and a marketing firm. It's
rather spacious," says Susan as she parks the car near the
The Hall occupies a quarter of the top most floor of the
twenty story office building. The double door entrance opens
into a large carpeted living room with an entertainment center
in the far corner. The entrance foyer is relative devoid of
furniture or items, save for a plush reading chair off to
the side and a coat and hat rack to the other side. A dozen
small rooms surround the center one like satellites, several
still empty. A full kitchen and dining room complete the spread.
The other members seem scattered about the place, but upon
Susan and Ken's entrance, they emerge out into living room
to greet the new arrivals. A small caucasian ork with subdued
metahuman features is sitting cross-legged in an arm chair
near the trideo. She has a calm
look in her eyes and a pair of brown feathers keep her hair
up in a loose pile on her head. She nods to Susan and looks
deep in Ken's eyes, even from across the room, and then nods
A human in his early 40s emerges from a study with a newspaper
in his hand. He has shoulder length brown hair and is wearing
a plain blue vest over a button up shirt. His look smacks
of the archetypical college professor. A latino elf, emerges
from the first side room, a glimpse from the open doorway
reveals a small gym area. He is smiling broadly and sweating
from a recent workout. A towel is tossed over his shoulder
and is wearing a simple tank top and shorts. He is obviously
Finally, as Ken and Susan take off the coats and head into
the main room, through an open doorway, Ken sees the last
member of the group. A human male of mediterranean ancestry
is standing at the stove. He is wearing black pants and a
black T-shirt with combat boots on. A white apron and chef's
hat completely destroys the intimidating image and Ken stifles
a grin as the cook glance back towards him. Solid gold cybereyes
stare from the man's hard face daring the newcomer to say
anything and then he returns to his cooking.
"Welcome Ken," says the older man as he grips Ken's hand
enthusiastically. "I hope your time with Susan has not been
too quiet." Ken notices that his escort looks away with
a slight grin.
"My name is Andrew. Andrew Carpenter. This here's our resident
swashbuckler, Dirk. Over there is Elaine. You've met Susan
and finally Erlos is in the kitchen fixing tonight's feast."
Andrew leads Ken over to the sitting area with Susan and
Dirk tagging along. Everyone sits down around a central glass
coffee table with a multitude of magazines and books relating
to the Awakened world.
"So Ken, what do think of your visit and our little group
so far?" asks Andrew. Ken can feel the four sets of eyes pinned
on his response.
Me: Ken smiles slightly as he reclines into a chair,
letting the silence ferment until he is certain everyone is
listening, then speaks, "I am not given to premature conclusions,
and even less so to premature statements, but I can tell that
now would not be the time for silent contemplation.
Although it might be the best choice for earning respect,
silence is not typically the best first step towards trust."
He pauses slightly then continues, "My experience with your
group thus far has been somewhat unusual, but I had formed
no expectations. I look at each of you and see profound
reflections of myself. I was for a time an earnest academic,"
Ken looks to Andrew, "and although I maintain my interest,"
he tosses the Magical Journal on the table, "I am merely scholarly;
I would not call myself a scholar."
Ken stands up and takes off his jacket, setting it on the
back of his chair and exposing his holstered Ares Predator.
Erlos, having now stepped away from the kitchen and joined
the group had picked out the weapon before Ken had exposed
it. Without missing a beat, Ken
smoothly pulls the weapon out backwards with his off hand
and tosses it to Erlos with remarkable nonchalance.
"I trust you would approve. It's been modified to include
a Savalette Smoothtrak buffer system and balanced with Hammerli
Magna Weights." Ken returns his attention and voice to the
group again. "Although it may not look like it, Erlos
and I probably have more in common than he might think.
I have known the streets intimately in the past and am becoming
re-acquainted with them."
Erlos looks the weapon over, giving a coolly neutral response
before handing it back casually. Ken thinks he sees
a hint of a grin in Erlos's eyes as he locks his gaze on his
and finishes, his words enunciated as if they were weapons,
"I have also learned how to be brutally pragmatic when the
situation calls for it . . ."
Ken slides his gaze smoothly and quickly to Elaine, ". .
. especially when people are relying on me. My magic
aids me in that, for my relationship with the Sky Father grants
me access to knowledge beyond the norm. With this gift
I can better take care of my people, and myself. You
watch out for them and, when necessary, you take action."
He looks to Dirk as he sits down again. "Although I am an
Adept and that gives me a certain capacity for action which
I try to utilize, I am still no 'man of action' as many of
my more . . . physical Awakened brothers are. Nonetheless,
I do not shirk from physical challenges my
goals present me with, and I appreciate the aesthetic of the
Ken finally looks to Susan and continues, "Perhaps that is
easier because I do not see challenges as obstacles, but rather
teachers. I seek them out. The quest for truth
and solutions which I began in school has continued in my
work; the streets have become my classroom once again.
I of course willingly accept Astral aid in my work from my
spirits friends as I trust Susan does." Ken settles
back into his chair.
"It may sound like I have my bases covered, but I want more
out of life. I want to explore the Awakened world and
my place in it, but I realize that my goals exceed my abilities
in that arena. I want to realize my full potential as
a Magician Adept. I know enough to realize that all
of these things can be done without the aid of others.
Why would I bother looking for a group then?" Ken scans
across the faces of the people before ending, "Because I yearn
for community as well. I want companions and counselors
on this path. I want direction. I want comrades."
"Of course, camaraderie is a two-way street, and I am but
one of six. I think the more important question is what
do all of you think of my visit so far? I am content
to let those answers form more fully before you answer.
I am also content with no promise of an answer. I will
say that I did not imagine a group of people that I would
have so much in common with." Ken's face breaks into
an infectious grin as he stands back up. "Perhaps we
can go with the more traditional approach." Ken pulls
the wine and beer from a sack. "Meaningful, slightly
inebriated conversation over a hearty meal."
GM: "Well said, Ken," responds Andrew with a smile
as he stands up. "Is dinner ready, Erlos?" The stoic chef
only nods in response and slowly walks back to the kitchen.
The group adjourns to the dining room. A large table, easily
room for eight, dominates the room. It is made of black metal
frame with a frosted blue glass table surface. Various foods
have been laid out -- breads, two large bowls of dirty rice,
several wines and other drinks,
and a big pot of shrimp gumbo that Erlos places in the center
on a thick wicker mat.
Everyone starts in on the food with vigor and seems to be
in high spirits. Even Erlos grins or subtly chuckles at some
of Dirk's jokes. Andrew starts things off with a story
about his latest lecture at San Francisco's Community Future,
an annual conference held for social, political, and corporate
persons involved in community organizations. He tells of how
he spun one of his favorite stories about a boy who discovers
a magical amulet and ignores the advise of other mundanes
to ignore it because magic is for magicians. In the end he
befriends a spirit and uses the amulet to seal a collapsing
dam. Andrew tells it well and Ken can see how his mix of genuine
concern, knowledge, and oratory skills make him an excellent
spokesman and lecturer.
"I'm sure Ken is more interested in his initial question
than my little trips," begins Andrew. "How did you say it,
"What do we think of him so far," adds Dirk and broad grin
on his face. He seems to be enjoying Ken's visit and
"Well I can see what you think," says Ken to the elven adventurer
"I can just remember being in your shoes and wondering why
I would want to fight some academic social crusade."
"And why did you, Dirk?" asks Ken.
"You must follow your heart, right Professor," says Dirk
hinting at some previous conversation or inside knowledge.
"Indeed. To following your heart and the interesting path
that inevitably follows," toasts Andrew, raising his glass
of Ken's white wine. The others agree in a friendly manner,
but with a hint of seriousness, as if the toast strikes a
chord in each of them. Ken takes
part as well.
"Well I think he'd make a charming and interesting addition,"
says Susan, speaking for the first time since arriving.
"Definitely don't need another scholar. We have too many
of those already," says Erlos seriously, hinting at Ken's
other talents. His statement quiets the table slightly as
if the friendly atmosphere is shaken slightly.
Andrew follows up quickly, reestablishing the mood, "Forgive
Erlos, he is still learning to enjoy life."
"Anyone who can cook this well has at least one foot through
that door," says Ken with a grin. Erlos doesn't respond, but
the others concur in various ways, ending in a toast to Erlos'
cooking and the evening's meal.
"Ken, we know about you already. We wouldn't have invited
you here if we didn't all believe that you would make an excellent
addition and strengthen our purpose. What we think of you
is best defined by our out stretched hand," as Andrew says
that he looks about the table for
confirmation. Susan smiles and chuckles to some private joke.
Dirk agrees heartily, raising his glass to Ken and gulping
down a large swallow. Erlos remains motionless and just locks
eyes with Ken for a moment. Ken hardens himself and tries
to maintain the look, but looks
away and towards the last member, Elaine. Andrew pauses at
Elaine as if her approval holds some additional weight.
She has been sitting in a straight posture, her hands folded
and arched over the plate of barely touched food. Ken has
noticed her watching him, not judging, but as if to understand.
A couple seconds pass and then she speaks.
"He has been walking a dark road, lightning illuminating
the landscape in confusing brief visions. Whether he sees
the path that is chosen for him here, is his decision."
The table seems to warm up to the enigmatic shaman's statement,
as if her approval was hidden within her carefully chosen
"Here we are welcoming you in. Perhaps I should say a little
more about the details of the Sixth Guides. We are dedicated
to exploring magical phenomena and educating the world about
our Awakened world, these beliefs are core to our group. We
meet once a month on the last day of each month, although
most of us run into each other more frequently here at the
Hall. As Susan probably explained, our group is not a contemplative
or initiatory group. We perform deeds and services, motivated
by our own desire to see people more educated in magic as
well as to break up the criminal corporate tendencies to hoard
magical knowledge. Our group is a friendly one, and perhaps
the most important declaration upon joining is that of fraternity.
We are are all kindred spirits and help each other out whenever
necessary, of course self-sufficiency is also a skill that
is important in this world.
Because of our beliefs and how much we value our magical
skills, we have all agreed to supplement our powers with whatever
handicaps are necessary to maintain our strength. I believe
you have some geasa that do just that. Some of us have taken
such things to allow modifications or stave off the dangers
of our extracurricular activities," Andrew looks to Erlos
for the last comment before continuing.
"We have also all provided material links to the group. This
is not out of any kind of dangerous conspiratorial plots to
control members, but we often encounter magicks and run contrary
to corporate interested. We keep such things so that we can
find and aid any member that is in danger. Luckily, we have
not yet had to use them, but the emergency contingency still
exists. Finally, upon our first initiation, one takes an oath
to strength their bond to the other members and to allow the
first grade to come more easily. We certainly cannot seek
out higher mysteries and preach about the metamagics if we
have not reach them ourselves. Let's see, ah yes, Steven Archallos
is our patron and pays for all this," Andrew says as he gestures
about the room.
"You will meet him soon, but he has already approved your
inclusion. Enough about work. I will let you think about
what we've said. I'm sure there are plenty of smaller topics
that can entertain us during dinner. After dinner we
can address any other matters," finishes Andrew.
Over the rest of dinner everyone talks about mundane topics
- current events, sports (Dirk and Susan are both sports fans),
some minor philosophy. Attempts to steer the conversation
towards the group or towards more detailed information about
each of the group members is
diverted. It is obvious that the rest of the dinner is for
The dinner lasts two hours in all. The main meal is followed
by coffee and a rum ice cream that Erlos apparently makes
from scratch. All in all it is one of the most entertaining
evenings for Ken in a long time.
After dinner, Andrew turns to Ken with a very serious look
in his eyes.
"We would like you to join the Sixth Guides. Will you?"
Me: Ken is caught slightly off guard by how suddenly
the question seemed to come up, and instinctively replies,
"Well . . . at first glance this group's path and my desired
one seem to mesh nicely. Providing a material link definitely
ups the ante on the commitment. Perhaps it's my corporate
experience speaking, but I trust that if I left the material
link would be returned. When I set out on my path to
the higher mysteries, I will be better able to judge.
But I rationalize, and I think this is a time when reason
must give way to intuition. One might say I should listen
to my heart."
Ken pauses and smiles weakly saying, "My heart and I don't
talk very much as of late, so let's call it intuition.
There's some intangible influence that tells me that right
now this is the right path for me. Besides, I don't
know a reliable Talismonger." Ken looks to Elaine and
maintains a deadpan just long enough to let the joke build,
then laughs, following with "Yes, I will join you."
He raises his glass while the laughter still lingers and,
not missing a beat, toasts, "To ancient mysteries and new
GM: The other members give up a round of cheers and
congratulations. They all seem pleased by Ken's decision -
Andrew, Dirk and Susan vocalizing their approval; Elaine gives
a friendly nod; and Erlos remains stoic, but a slight smirk
creeps onto his face momentarily.
The group adjourns back to the living room. Dirk and Erlos
move the furniture out of the way while Elaine disappears
into a side room. She emerges moments latter with a quilt
in her arms. They spread the quilt on the carpet and Ken can
see many different squares, each with a different story and
mood. The quilt is not a large one, barely enough room for
the six of you to sit in a small circle around it's perimeter.
Elaine says, "We mark the evolution of our group by adding
to the Quilt of Being. It is here that we can feel the thoughts,
emotions, and paths of the memories. By experiencing and understanding
we can embrace ourselves and each other."
"Every time a new member joins, we each add a new square.
We all laughed at first, but there's something simple and
pure about capturing a picture of one's experiences and sharing
it with the others," adds Susan.
The group sits down on the quilt, some in a lotus position,
others kneeling. Andrew motions for Ken to join the circle
and to hold hands with the others. Everyone closes their eyes
and quiet falls on the small awakened gathering. Ken follows
suit, waiting for a ritualistic chanting or recital to follow.
Instead, the others remain quiet and continue to meditate.
Soon Ken finds his own breathing rising and falling with
the others and a strange insubstantial link tries to form
around the circle. He can feel it snaking its way through
Susan, and like a cautious dog sniffing at a potential friend
or enemy, it pauses at Ken's hand gauging whether to flow
into this new addition or recoil from hesitation. The others
seem oblivious to this energy, as if it is a test for Ken
and Ken alone.
Minutes slip away, perhaps hours, with this new force probing
at first and then flowing into the detective. It travels throughout
his entire body, always the sense that it could retreat just
as enigmatically as it arrived. Finally, it passes through
Ken and into Elaine and he can feel the full being of the
magical group. Not just an entity in name, it is a creature
created and existing solely between these precious people.
He realizes that he has been accepted into the Sixth Guides.
"Welcome Ken Tokugawa," says Andrew in a quiet tone, as if
noises would banish this unique moment. The other nod, except
Susan, who Ken hears faintly echo Andrew's words.
The members get up from the quilt and Ken realizes that,
in fact, three hours passed while they were on the quilt.
Everyone stretches and shakes out their aching muscles and
seems spent in energy and conversation.
"There will be time for everything else later. Our next formal
meeting is a month away, but everyone passes through the Hall
regularly. You are no longer a stranger here, so come to know
each of us more on our own informal terms," says Andrew, concluding
the night's activities.
Susan offers to give Ken a ride back to his office, but Ken
politely refuses. The rest of the evening is best spent alone