[The funny thing about the whole Red King business, is, except for his shadowy backers dealing directly with demons like they're some sort of foreign nation that can be negotiated with, all the stuff they're getting mad at the Red King for is just the things the Covenant has done to keep itself afloat, or to expedite their day to day affairs, just turned up to 11. Rego Mentem must look a lot more threatening when someone else is doing it.]
That said, Helios posted a bit about what he's up to, thanks to Leap of Homecoming...:
Meanwhile, in the Aegean:
The clear blue water struck the shores as it did since the time of Achilles.
Helios bounded towards the great columned building that served as the center of his order. The entire island had an aura of history that made France seem like a distant, but sinking, ship.
"Philo Deontos. You have returned."
The figure in the white toga before him was a familiar one, and addressed the Quaesitor by his Greek name, secret to all but the members of the Mystic Fraternity. The rotund and wearied magus raised his palm, and the man in the white toga followed suit. A pentagram became visible on both of their palms, and thus they greeted each other as the ancient Pythagoreans did, with that image that captures so much harmony.
He gazed up at the great tympanum over the entrance. The carving of the death of Socrates inhabited the most perfect of ratios. A reminder of the follies of the world, lest the members of the Fraternity stray from the pursuit of wisdom.
"Proclus. I wish that my visit would entail days and nights of discussion on the ultimate nature of things made and unmade. Sadly, the forces of unreason are marshaled now, and I bring tidings of woe."
A member of higher degree, Proclus derived his name from one of the most treasured of the great ones, as was due for one of his stature. He had grown fond of the more fresh Helios Excelsis, as they called him in hermetic circles - their discussion often began as darkness fell and ended well after the noontime meal of the next day, with neither pausing.
The two gazed at each other sympathetically, as fellows for whom the island may turn out to be the last and only refuge.
As Philo Deontos entered the Hall of Wisdom, he was greeted with the usual murmur of corner discussions and lyre plucking. As he passed the statues of Anaxagoras, Plotinus, and Xenophon, a certain satisfaction of the existence of this place, which the Mystic Fraternity insists predates the Order of Hermes itself, brought comfort. If all of Europe was to fall, then this would be the preservation of the rational, as it has always been.
"Philo Deontos approaches with a grave matter. Let you all be silent and listen to his words."
So the booming voice of Sophia, the stately woman who currently was First, silenced the rest, and they gathered to listen as did the crowds flock to Socrates in the agora. As it has always been, the First, if a woman, was known as Sophia, and if a man, as Logos.
"My brothers and sisters, for whom wisdom, beauty, and truth are loved and sought after as one. Listen now, as I bring news of a great change. Unreason himself has placed his heir at the throne of the Franks, and his influence spreads. The corruption becomes more boundless with every passing night, and the seat of learning in Gaul is burnt."
There was a great commotion. Wails of lament echoed in the great hall, supported by thick columns and populated with statues of the great ones, and those who sought to emulate them.
"He woos the polis with trickery and temporary comforts. Under his reign, the apparent becomes real, and the real ceases to exist. I know not of what the kings of men shall do. I have come to you, though I am only of the second degree, to bear this terrible news and to appeal for your help." Helios, so used to being unparalleled in his Latin amongst his sodales, was embarrassed by his lack of mastery in Greek, and he meant to be more eloquent than he was.
More commotion. At this time, Antisthenes spoke:
"News of this has predated your arrival, Philo Deontos, at least in my case. And what do you propose that the Fraternity do, O Theoreticus? Do not expect your Hermetic influence to carry the opinion here. You are yet in the second degree, and I am taken by the fact that you have been given a general audience."
A commotion then erupted. Arguments were exchanged haphazardly, and those present seemed to form into groups, for or against. Proclus bade the servants to start mixing the wine with water, with the instruction that the usual proportions, however divine, may not be sufficient.
"You will all be silent." So the voice of Sophia quelled the quarreling brothers and sisters. "While Philo Deontos is of the second degree, his news is most dire and is worthy of consideration. The Fraternity has existed here for centuries, and we must continue to exist, lest the flame of wisdom be extinguished forever. The question, from the standpoint of the Fraternity, is whether or not the new threat poses an existential threat, should it continue to exist. If it does not, then we shall remain here and guard our wisdom for a future time, as we have always. If it does, then action is necessary."
With that, the crowd entered a prolonged silence of thought, with each brother and sister reconsidering their earlier haste in denouncing one another.
"Surely, this strife is but a ripple from the evil that gathers in Gaul! Look at how we, the most excellent of the known world, quarrel as provincial lords!"
The anonymous voice prompted more heated discussion and argument. Proclus saw that the wine was distributed. Sophia looked upon Philo Deontos, and for a moment, her usual indifferent gaze betrayed a hint of sadness and a recognition that something new was unfolding. She retreated from her seat, in front of the triptych of Plato, Pythagoras, and Socrates, burdened with thought as the rest howled and dipped into the wine bowls.