- Alanzau (Mysterium, Paper Krewe): An Adept of Death, but a Master of Life, Alanzau knows many of the dark secrets of New Orleans, including a gateway to the sample Atlantean temple that the Boston cabal found.
- Isis (Mysterium): Visiting from the Boston Consilium; we haven't seen her since the finale of Gloria Mundi.
- Kuba (Silver Ladder, Silk Krewe): A Thyrsus and spirit reader, he specializes in reading the spiritual atmosphere of an area and determining what happened (or what might happened) based on that.
- Victoria (Free Council, Bone Krewe): A Thyrsus crypotzoologist specializing the urban cryptids and trying to help people come to terms with such monsters.
- Van (Adamantine Arrow, Gold Krewe): An Obrimos who Awakened during Katrina, and is now studying to become powerful enough to divert future storms from his beloved city.
- Madeline (Mysterium, Paper Krewe): A Mastigos who enjoys soaking up the resonance of a place in a kind of voyeuristic manner.
These characters aren't a cabal. They just share one thing in common: They were acquainted with Jaya, an Acanthus who was studying under Alanzau. And when she was murdered a week before Mardi Gras, these characters agreed to investigate (Isis was just kind of along for the ride). Jaya's body was found in an abandoned shop. From the look of the area (mostly also abandoned, and reinforced with spells so that Sleepers didn't go mucking with the crime scene), she'd been chased, bleeding, into the shop, where something huge tore her throat out.
Madeline looked for resonance and found mostly terror, but with a hint of righteous anger. Whatever had chased her had done it quite on purpose. She and Isis tracked the blood back and found a rifle slug in a wall - someone had shot at Jaya from a nearby rooftop. Van, meanwhile, searched for tags and found a weird symbol, like a clawed hand, next to a sign that looked a little like a wrought-iron gate.
Kuba looked across the Gauntlet and spoke to a murder-spirit that was hanging around, and learned that a pack of werewolves had killed Jaya. The spirit referred to them as Suthar Anzuth, which Kuba translated as "Blood Talons," but wasn't sure what that meant. The characters got together again and searched the crime scene, and found five drops of blood, in a circle, outside the shop. Kuba used Fate and determine that this act was meaningful, like a ritual observance, but wasn't magical on its own.
The mages then followed Madeline to trail the resonance, and they found a burned-out building with four people hanging around. She used Supernal Vision and determined that they weren't strictly human - their auras were too intense. About then, they saw the mages and fell into formation. Isis walked up and tried to play tourist, but the leader of the werewolves, an older gent named Curtis, told her to knock that shit off; they already knew who they were.
Tense discussion follows. The werewolves said they had seen Jaya coming out of this burned-out building, which they called a nadhar (locus). It was now dead - no magic, no Essence, nothing. They knew that mages sometimes did stuff like this (in their words, "You people think just because you can take something, you're entitled") and hunted her down and killed her. They were now trying to repair the damage, but couldn't figure out what had happened.
The mages investigated, and realized that the werewolves were right - this locus was dead. But this would take a Master of Prime and Spirit, and Jaya was recently Awakened. The werewolves had killed the wrong person. Victoria looked back in time with Postcognition and saw Jaya doing the same thing (looking back in time), saying, "What the hell?" and then gasping as she heard howls. But when Victoria mixed in Spirit to determine when the locus stopped being a locus, she just saw the locus dying and felt a temporal disturbance. Someone had magically covered their tracks - Master of Time as well? Or maybe just not a mage?
The mages talked with the werewolves some more, and Curtis apologized to Alanzau for killing his protege. The mages were none too happy with the werewolves, of course, but weren't brave (or stupid) enough to start a fight with them (I suspect that might have ended badly for someone, but I couldn't say who).
By the way, the pack of werewolves was called the Iron Gates pack, and they've shown up in my chronicles before. They're kind of dicks.
Anyway, the mages left and went to the library to dig up some research on anything that could consume a locus. They found stories about the "bride of the gods," some spiritual being that consumed magic and magical energy. And then a few of them remembered a local Forge Master named Lori complaining that one of her trinkets had just gone dead. They left the library and went to Lori's Curios.
Lori had created Van's imbued item (a shirt that allowed him to levitate), and so they were old friends. The item that had gone dead was a set of wind chimes that blocked postcognition; Lori made it because her customers liked their privacy. There was an ATM across the street, so Van used forces to make the camera footage show up on the screen. He saw a woman's hand stroke the wind chimes, but there was too much foot traffic to see her face. Now that she had a time, though, Victoria looked back and saw a woman with a top hat, a white shirt and dreadlocks walk up, stroke the chimes, shudder as though, um, really happy and try the door. The shop was locked, though, so she shrugged and moved on. The characters figured they'd found their culprit, but weren't sure how to find her, so they went back to talk with the werewolves.
Circle May, one of the werewolves, listened to the story and recounted a legend of the bride of the gods, a girl born to a woman ridden by Erzulie. Victoria, growing up in the bayou, had heard similar tales. And now the werewolves weren't so keen on killing her - this "bride of the gods" seemed more like a force of nature than a person. And in any event, the pack said, they couldn't follow her into the French Quarter, as the werewolves who claimed territory there were too dangerous (especially this close to Mardi Gras).
The mages noted that this "bride of the gods" took on the properties of what she "ate," so they asked about the locus. One of the werewolves told them it was about smoke, love and need - maybe this woman was at a restaurant? Kuba punched in some data to Google and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky" (using the Synchronicity spell), and it showed them a martini/cigar bar in the French Quarter.
They went in, but Madeline used Prime to mask her aura. They found the woman, who called herself Marie, sitting at the bar. Madeline and Marie flirted for a while, and then Madeline asked Marie back to her place. Marie kissed her on the cheek, and her magic fell away. Marie asked if the other mages here were with her; Madeline, made, admitted it. Marie said she'd be happy to talk to them, but at the patio bar across the street. No way was she going to the second scene.
At the bar, though, Marie talked with the mages. She freely admitted to eating the locus and the wind chimes, but denied that she could reasonably be held responsible for Jaya's death (after all, the werewolves were just as likely to have killed Jaya if they'd found her there while the locus was still active). She waxed poetic and sensual about the taste of magic, and the prevailing opinion was that she was pretty darned creepy (but fascinating, to Van especially, who likened her to a hurricane - destructive but beautiful and untamed). Marie agreed to make some kind of restitution to Lori for her wind chimes, and Isis warned her to stay in the French Quarter to be safe from the werewolves. Isis also asked her what she was, and she responded that it was a very rude question, but that she could call her "Marie," or "Madame LaTourre," if she had to.
And then the mages left, not entirely satisfied that justice had been done, but unable to find someone to truly blame. Forces of nature don't have morality, after all, and trying to press the issue is like catching smoke.
(By the way, you'll see Madame LaTourre again in Night Horrors: Unbidden.)