The Case of Minnie Turner
The Twilight Order
Local Mediums of Note
- Gabriel Silva — A local Medium of note who works for the New Hope Spiritual Guidance Center
- Lina Harper — Cursed daughter of Linda Harper; a PC
Contrary to popular belief, the dead can talk — to those who can hear them. The Twilight Order has long been in communication with the Death Realms and the spirits who remain in our world. Most members spend much of their time in the "twilight worlds” between the lands of the living and the realms of the dead. Spirits of the dead are their subject of study, their occasional allies and friends, and their deadliest enemies. The members of the Order know that death is not an end but merely a new beginning. Strangely enough, this knowledge has not made them callous or morbid, but has given them a greater appreciation for their corporeal existence. In contemplating death, they have come to care for all life even more.
The Order seeks to help both the living and dead. Members see themselves as diplomats and guardians, trying to maintain harmony in the dealings between the living and the dead. They consider the Cycle of Life to be a sacred thing, and do their best to help ghosts and phantasms in their plight. Furthermore, they protect humans from the actions of evil or misguided ghosts — and vice versa. They take a particularly dim view of magicians who try to imprison the spirits of the dead for their own dark purposes. Chief among their enemies are the Dark Necromancers, evil Gifted who do many of the things popular belief attributes to necromancy in general, including the binding of spirits into their rotting corpses, enslaving ghosts to do their bidding, and worse.
Their members are Seers or Necromancers, people gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to perceive, communicate and manipulate the spirits of ghosts and phantasms. Through these powers, members seek to appease angry or restless spirits, stop or, if necessary, destroy hostile or murderous ones, and prevent ghosts from being enslaved or exploited by other Necromancers. As a secondary goal, the Order also seeks other people with Necromantic power to help them control their abilities before their powers cause them to lose their sanity. The last, and until recently, least heeded goal of the Order was to prevent the unspeakable entities known as the Mad Gods from perverting the cycle of death and rebirth. With the Time of Reckoning approaching, this threat has become a lot more imminent.
The Mediums (as the members call themselves) operate through a number of public organizations dedicated to psychic research or psychic counseling, and other organizations with more mundane goals. The Order keeps its existence a secret, but it operates through several public fronts. These include several spiritualist organizations that help true believers contact dead loved ones and relatives. Some of these organizations even make money by charging people a fee to contact the spirits of their departed friends and relatives; they are far less successful than similar, but fake, organizations that specialize in telling the gullible exactly what they want to hear. Most members are involved in psychic investigation agencies — “ghost hunters” who help deal with such problems as haunted houses and poltergeist manifestations. The Mediums try to find and appease the angry spirit or, failing that, attempt to forcefully remove or even destroy it. Other Mediums are able to project their consciousness beyond their bodies, in effect enjoying all the powers of ghosts while still linked to their physical selves. These spirit travelers have ventured into the Death Realms and learned a great deal about the fate and choices awaiting on the Other Side.
Beyond its direct dealings with the dead, the Order and some of the institutions it sponsors spend some of their time helping the living. The powers of Necromancy can be used in many ways, both positive and negative. Among other things, the Twilight Order has learned many secrets through its history — secrets that the ghosts of former government officials, criminals, and security agents no longer cared to keep after their demise. As a result, the secret files of the Order contain some startling revelations about the history of the world. Occasionally, the leaders of the Order send some of their members out on missions related to this information. As a result, some Mediums have come into direct conflict with the Combine and other agencies and organizations.
The Twilight Order has long studied the permutations of life and death. Death releases the soul from the body; what happens next seems to be determined by the person’s beliefs, choices and Karma, the consequences of one’s actions during the previous life. Some souls disappear into an exalted plane of existence from which nobody has ever returned. Others return to Earth and are reborn, for the most part forgetting most of their past existence, although retaining much of their personality, including the effect of past traumas. Some travel to one of the many Death Realms, otherworldly dimensions where the dead can recreate their past, endure punishments for their sins, or deal with a variety of spiritual entities, some of which are quite inhuman. A few refuse to relinquish their hold on their bodies and come back to life, as ghosts and phantasms or as the undead. Finally, there are utterly alien beings who can twist the spirits of the dead, transforming them into monstrous and dangerous entities. These beings are known as the Mad Gods.
Ghosts are pitied for the most part, and one of the purposes of the Order is to steer them into the Otherworlds or into the cycle of death and rebirth. Trafficking with the spirits of the dead is allowed, as long as they are treated fairly and not coerced. The undead are considered to be abominations and mockeries of the natural process of life and death; many Necromancers destroy those beings on sight.
The increasingly chaotic conditions presaging the Time of Reckoning have not been lost on the Mediums. Even the spirits of the dead are growing fearful of the strange events occurring both on Earth and in the Otherworlds. Stories of strange beings that demand homage or service from ghosts are becoming common, as are tales of actual manifestations of Death appearing in the spirit realms, forcing spirits to do their bidding or risk utter obliteration. Some ghosts are actually fleeing to Earth, seeking refuge in the material plane! The more adventurous Mediums are venturing into the Death Realms to find out more. Many — if not most — of them have failed to return.
New members are found among those who discover their Gift to see the invisible world around them. Many of them are recruited from insane asylums where they had been placed by uncomprehending mundanes. The more fortunate are discovered as children or teenagers by the Order’s agents, friendly spirits who spend much of their time searching for those who can “see” them. When the time is right, the young Gifted and their families are approached by doctors of the Order, offering “counseling” and therapy to deal with their “over-active imaginations.” The new Necromancers are trained to either suppress their powers (and lead a normal life) or to refine them and join the Order in its dealings with the dead.
The Order is controlled by the Pontifex, a council of seven to ten of the most accomplished Necromancers in the organization. The Pontifex approves the formation of new agencies and organizations and controls the sizable funds the Order has amassed over time. The average member works for one of the many agencies secretly controlled by the Order. Most agencies are small (three to ten people on the average); some are Order members with Gifted abilities, while others are mundane employees, many of whom have no idea for whom they are working. Among the agencies the Covenant owns are the following:
- Psychic Investigation Agencies: These organizations discreetly advertise in occult publications. They concentrate on “ ghost hunting,” investigating alleged hauntings and poltergeist activity and, if the occurrences are genuine, dealing with them. This is one of the most dangerous jobs in the Covenant, because some spirits can be quite dangerous. Sometimes the supernatural event is being caused by beings far more malevolent than the spirits of the dead. Over a dozen such agencies exist in North America, with half again as many in the area of Western Europe.
- Psychic Counseling and Spiritualist Centers: Most of these agencies are operated by Mundanes paid to pretend to be real psychics or mediums. People with truly serious problems, spiritual or mundane, are referred to Gifted members. This cynical exercise has been widely criticized by many members, but it brings in a lot of money into the Order; most customers are satisfied by the phony advice, and people who really need help are identified and assisted. Two large centers operate in the U.S.
- Private Investigation Agencies: A few “normal” investigation agencies are owned and operated by the Order, and staffed by a mixture of Gifted and Mundane investigators. These agencies secure clients and use a mixture of normal and Necromantic abilities to get the job done. The Agencies are also used to investigate and locate possible members. Five small agencies operate in diverse cities of the U.S.