Inside Relations

"One essential to success is that your desire be an all-obsessing one, your thoughts and aims be co-ordinated, and your energy be concentrated and applied without letup."

- Claude M. Bristol

As a worldwide Cabal, we tend to know quite a bit more than your average "well-connected" Wraith... even if we're not supposed to be talking to the others all that much...

But let's start with what's in our immediate backyard, as it were?

The Hierarchy:

The main thing you need to understand about our attitude towards the Hierarchy is how disappointed we are that it's gone.

No, really. Think about it. Those who seek to wrest control from a superior power have two choices: they can either try and topple that power, and replace it with themselves, or else slowly and subtly infiltrate that power, until they ARE the power. We determined, early on, that the best way to deal with the Hierarchy was to become the Hierarchy. And that's just what we were doing, right up until the day it fell down.

"Breaking" or no, it was easier than you might think; In fact, they were our largest source of Clients throughout all of Stygia. When you're in a system where your supervisor cannot retire, and might never be promoted, the only way up is to get that supervisor out of the way. And if you can't afford a Masquer, or aren't brave enough to do the job yourself that's where we came in.

But now it's gone, and we have to deal with what's left.

The Guilds:

The fact that we masqueraded as a Guild for so long doesn't have much to do with our high level of interest in them. It's a matter of simple practicality: the Hierarchy may have controlled Stygia, but ­ "Broken" or not ­ it was the Guilds who made the whole thing work. The Guilds were ­ and still are ­ the hands that turned the machineries, so we spent a great deal of time turning those hands to our own needs.

Before, they were just pieces of a large puzzle called "Stygia" that we were reassembling to fit our plans. As of now, they are the puzzle. They're what we have to work with. That makes some things easier, and some things more difficult. But it's very doable once you look at things in their proper perspective, that is.


The Alchemists: As of the new reality, they're quite useful. It's not so much what they can do ­ which is, I'll admit, spectacular ­ but rather what they could be: the replacement to the Artificers that all the Guilds have been clamoring for since the War, and the Breaking. The Alchemists know how the Artificers manufacture soulsteel, after all, and when it comes to leadership, they ­ unlike their "parents" ­ they know a thing or two about building consensus, as opposed to trying to force agreement.

Not that forcing agreement is a bad thing, of course And once we've moved our Clients into the right position, I think we'll see a bit of steel in their handshakes.


The Artificers: The sad thing is that they had such potential! A Client like Lord Ember only comes around once in a Gaunt's age, and he was a very useful piece of our plan for Stygia. Unfortunately, the Maelstrom's caused that entire plan to be scrapped, and what few Clients we have remaining are running for fear of their unlives. That also means that we're a bit stretched in our supplies, as of late; It might be time to reign in some of our Clients in the Alchemists, then...


The Chanteurs: Useless. Useless and pathetic. I'd love to be able to say that we were the ones who brought that sorry house of song down, but Miklos beat his own path to ruin. He thought the Jade Emperor would give him a better deal than what he was getting from his motley band of sycophants, status-seekers and would-be replacements. And so he sold out his fellows and took it on the lam. As for whether he got the better deal well, it depends how you look at it...

Still... they were fun to masquerade as, occasionally...


Harbingers: Useful, and of no real threat. Their heads are wrapped around things too large to be easily comprehended by many. We'll leave them to their explorations, and make certain they have a stable home to return to ­ one where they'll be honored for what they are instead of shunned for their affiliations.

The Haunters: They're up to something ­ that much is certain. As for what, well I'll let you in on a little secret: we have a very hard time finding Clients in the Haunters. Something to do with what they can do makes them unlikely to come to us. Those that do don't tend to last long before some busybody in their Guild sniffs them out and does away with them. So our information on them is a bit limited.

But, as with the Harbingers, we're not too concerned about them. They don't have much inclination to rule. They just want to do what they do, and, again, as with the Harbingers, we'll be happy to let them do it in peace. As long as they don't get any ideas, that is.


The Masquers: This is a trouble spot for us. On the one hand, we respect their expertise and their craft. We've recruited Clients from within their number, and what they can tell us about what goes on in their damned ziggurat ­ or what went on there, at any rate ­ was nothing less than astounding. They knew things even we didn't know. Can you imagine that? And so, they are useful.

But on the other hand, they are most troublesome. You'll remember what I was saying about the Hierarchy, and our plans to replace it by becoming it? That's exactly what they've been up to ­ quite literally, in fact. We have no way of knowing, apart from what our Clients have said, how many Hierarchy officials were, in fact, Masquers in deep cover.

I think they'll have to be dealt with. The current plan calls for us to do unto them what they'd been doing with the Hierarchy: compromise them completely, to the point where their ranks and ours are almost interchangeable, and then just slip away the masks at an appropriate point. That way, we'll know what they know, and we'll be able to do what makes them so irreplaceable, all at the same time.

They'll appreciate the irony of it all. I'm sure of it.


The Monitors: And then there were the Monitors. Much like the Masquers, they're irreplaceable. Also much like the Masquers, they're quite impressed with themselves and desiring to run the whole show.

However, unlike the Masquers, they're a pale shadow of what they once were. These days all they can do is fight amongst themselves and jockey for position. If they had another century, things might turn themselves around, and they might be a considerable challenge to our new plan.

So they're not going to get that century. Our Clients are already in place, awaiting the moment of truth. You'll know when it's happened ­ millions of Wraiths will suddenly be dancing in the streets, overjoyed.


The Mnemoi: Yes, we never appreciated them. And, yes, we knew of Charon's plan from the start. And as much as I hope the bastard appreciates the full folly of what he's embarked upon once his plan crumbles around him, I have to hand it to Minos: his work following the Insurrection was nothing short of exemplary.

But no, we didn't have anything do with Charon's plan, or what came afterwards, other than to harvest a few Clients from their number. They made terrible martyrs, most of them. Under the new plan, they'll not be allowed such pretensions: we'll be turning them into a library.

But as for those who helped Minos with what he wrought, after the Fourth Great Maelstrom let's just say that they'll be quite useful in the final stages of the plan.

The Sandmen: Pathetic, but not useless. With no real urge to lead, and a calling that takes them well away from such pursuits, I think we'd be better off just leaving them be. They'll be allowed to hang up their plaques and have their theatres, as long as they don't cause any problems.

And if they do, no one will miss them. I think you know what I mean.

The Spooks: Yes, they can provide a useful service, but I find their plaintive whimpering to be "there for the little guys" a sickening exaggeration. We have enough Clients amongst them to know it's just not true. And I think the world to come could do without much competition in the Fetter-protection business, don't you?


The Oracles: We like to think that the vision that sent the First Pythian into the state she's in now was the sight of what we're going to do to them once the plan is realized ­ sent courtesy of the Center of the Wheel. Those meddling augurs have been a major thorn in our side for ages. They said their plan was the correct one to follow, and that any who spoke out against it were wrong, and should be dealt with? Well, see what their well-laid plan has brought them ­ chaos, ruin and the end of all they worked for.

I've never trusted soothsayers and prophets. That's why I'm happy to say there'll be no room for them in the plan. Individuals will, of course, be free to practice that Arcanos for private and public use, but if they try to form a political movement we'll turn them into wheels, one and all.


The Pardoners: Very useful, and very useless in a leadership role. These factors make them more than welcome.

And they've never been more tractable, either. Their best and brightest are across the sea, battling windmills in the New World. Meanwhile, their stand-ins debate doctrine around a table and lose control over the rank and file due to their sudden lack of clear leadership. I think the Clients we have in them just need a little push, and then we can get the Guild lined up for the "moral support" part of the plan.

The Proctors: We have to say it now for all to hear: the Proctors are not a Guild. They are Heretics. They have always been Heretics. They may have their uses, but they're more interested in following their bliss towards The Great Lie, and wondering why they never seem to make it there.

The sooner their true nature is recognized, the sooner we can just dismiss them for the tacky hedonists they are and be done with them.


The Puppeteers: Useful, and not inclined to lead. That makes them very welcome, and we'll need them in the absence of the Proctors. We have plenty of Clients amongst them, just waiting for the signal to topple their sad excuse of a leader. In fact, I think they're the first scheduled to move


The Usurers: We've had them in the palm of our hand since the War of the Guilds. And they have been shockingly easy to manipulate.

You know, by now, about why they deserted the others during the attempted revolt. But we're the reason they've never tried to make any real apology or restitution to the others. We're also the reason they seem to think that having a near-monopoly over the gathering, storing and selling of Pathos guarantees survival. And, more recently, we're the reason they stopped selling to the Artificers, thus isolating themselves from the one true "friend" they had....

You'd almost think they were committing suicide? And you'd be right: assisted suicide, courtesy of us. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel

A two-way battle for supremacy is much easier to handle than a three-way battle, and we really didn't need them muscling in on the Artificers and Monitors. So we've had the Usurers going around in circles for centuries, waiting for the day when we'll have taken such a degree of control over them that they'll be happy to play the part of "energy providers" in the new world to come.

What can I say? We plan well in advance.

The Renegades:

Forge-fodder and spectre-bait, one and all. Can you think of anything more foolish than trying to bite the hand that feeds you? If you don't like what you're getting, it's so much easier to seduce it, and thereby become it. But tearing the whole thing down for the sake of being antinomian is just absurd.

If they put aside their differences and worked together they might be of more use, or at least be something we could work with. But that never happened before now, and it's even less likely now. That leaves their best use as short-term distractions that leave no witnesses and need no mopping up, if you get my meaning.

It's been fun setting them on one another, but that's about as much of a challenge as mixing red and black ants and watching what happens. And we have much better things to focus upon.


I refuse to make a distinction between them and Renegades, but I know that some of us do, so we should just state the obvious. There are Wraiths who don't want to belong to any of the major forces in Stygian society, and "drop out" to go live in anarchist colonies, or as hermits. And as such, they're mostly useless to us.

Yes, "mostly." When things turn around, we'll use them for the forges.

The Heretics:

Worse than pathetic and less than useless. Charon had the right idea when banished them, but he should have come to his senses earlier. He of all people should have realized the truth: that there is no such thing as Tran...

Excuse me, the Great Lie. To try and follow such a path is wasting your time. To exhort others to do the same is a crime. I take great pleasure in turning the ones I catch over to the Gardeners. Sometimes... I even stay to watch.

Oh yes, I hate them. I've seen the abominations that pass for "afterlifes" out there, far away in the Tempest. They do not serve the truth out there, on their damned Far Shores. They serve lies. They take Desire's name in vain out there: denying Hir outright or giving Hir free reign without a thought of Hir greater implications.

The "Clients" we have amongst them are time bombs that we've wound up and set loose to await the Day of Desire. With the change of plans, that day is delayed, but it will come.

And mark my words... when it does, we'll show them all the true meaning of Hell.

The Ferrymen:

We steer quite clear of them. Their service to the the Great Lie has somehow rendered them immune to our arts, though we're not quite sure how, yet. They have always stood in opposition to us, though they seem to focus their ire on Spectres, more. For that I suppose we should be grateful, but I can't deny that I'm looking forward to when we can deal with them with more than puzzlement and apprehension.


They are a sad reminder of what happens when Desire is twisted and not tempered. If you leave your Shadow to its own devices, this will be all that is left of you. And I would rather be lost to Desire than lost to the Labyrinth. At least Desire leaves us with hope.

We do not listen to anything they have to say. We do not try to enslave them, or befriend them, or save them. We leave them be.

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