My interrogations of the mind of one “Jeremiah Sutton”, recovered recently by our hoplites, has confirmed much of the substance of the report compiled by Elisavet Whalen. The hoplites gained the trust of the local Nauvoo garrison near Grouse Creek, utilizing the talents of Oukonunaka, disguised as one “Levi Smoot”, claiming to be recent converts to the Mormon church. This ruse was successful enough that Mr. Sutton, who styled himself a “lieutenant”, and who is one of those taught Hermetic magic by the renegade Bonisagus Mrs. Lavinia Young, brought the hoplites into the divine regio present there at Grouse Creek.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming divine aura began stripping away their magic, including Oukonunaka’s disguise as an elderly white man. This prompted the realization in Mr. Sutton that he had been fooled, which prompted Oukonunaka to wound him severely through the application of a bullet to the cranium. This act of unprovoked violence created a response from the regio which turned against our Hoplites. Mr. Douglas Turner was able to navigate a way out with the wounded prisoner. The garrison caught only a momentary glimpse of their blood-soaked forms before they fled via teleportation back here to DC.
Mr. Sutton has proven to be a wealth of information about this nascent rival order of divine-attuned wizards trained in a bastardized version of the Hermetic Arts. Mrs. Young, technically still on the rolls as a magus of House Bonisagus, has managed to combined Hermetic theory with certain non-Hermetic “holy magic” practices to create a hybrid which she has been using to instruct the Gifted among the Mormon population. They have also been aggressively recruiting Hermetic magi under a “join or die” philosophy quite familiar to us. Mr. Sutton did not have precise numbers, but he estimates there are around fifty magi practicing Mrs. Young’s tradition, or who have converted.
Needless to say, this is a matter of much concern. We cannot afford a schism in the American Order so soon after the Civil War. I am certain that House Tremere stands ready to stamp out this schism as soon as is feasible.
It seems my first foray into official Hoplite business has been something of a failure. You know that I’ve been looking for a way to use my skills, honed in the war, in a more positive direction and Colonel Trombley was nothing if not charismatic in recruiting me to join his band of Hoplites, but I fear that he may have bit off more than he can chew. I’ve spent the last five months in deep cover, pretending to have converted to Mormonism in order to keep track of a growing threat to the Order, namely a lineage of magi being trained by a rogue Bonisagus who are capable of using magic in Dominion auras. In fact, these “holy wizards” seem to gain benefit from proximity to the Dominion and have difficulty using their magic in the more customary magic auras.
We stumbled upon this growing threat while hunting some Hermetic criminals who had apparently fled to the sanctuary of the Mormon church and the territory of Utah where they hold significant political and military sway. We rapidly realized that there were a lot of Mormon wizards who were never gauntleted, and had never sworn the Oath. When a force of them confronted us with a politely worded “join or die” Trombley made the decision that the four of us would convert. He planned to ingratiate himself with the Mormon hierarchy enough to get concrete information on these holy wizards’ numbers, dispositions, and locations for the Order. He and Ames headed back with most of our captors to Salt Lake City, while Gibbs was assigned to a Nauvoo legion platoon headed toward Colorado. I was left behind in the godforsaken wasteland that is the black rock desert with a few of the younger and less competent holy wizards to watch over a former native regio that had been… converted.
And there I sat for five months. In order to make myself useful, but also to create a means whereby I controlled what information my camp uncovered, I bound a local vulture as a familiar. I named him Sydney after the brother I lost in the war. He’s a bit of a smartass, but through his eyes I was able to monitor the desert much more efficiently, which permitted us to make camp in a more shady, secluded place. It also let me keep watch for anyone who might be useful in getting information to Trombley, or to the greater Order.
Eventually, I saw a small party moving through the desert who, it turned out, were other Hoplites searching for the missing Trombley. Apparently he still hasn’t reported anything to the Order. These Hoplites and I orchestrated my extraction, leaving an inert, magically-created corpse-copy of myself under conditions reasonably construed to be a natural death. There were some minor hiccups in the plan, but hopefully the demoralized troops won’t care enough to put a lot of effort into investigating. As far as they’re concerned, I’m dead, which will hopefully not draw additional suspicion on the rest of my team should they still be alive and on-mission.
For now, I’m going to rest up, enjoy whiskey again, and make myself available to the ongoing effort to find Trombley and to counter this growing threat in Utah.