“Throughout history there have been those who sought to use magic to cause harm, to take advantage of the inherent dullness of the supernatural to slide under the radar and cause havoc in their own small ways. Most are inspired by demons, using witches for their own ends, glorying in the suffering of humans.
Someone has to stop them. That someone is us.”
- Aislin O'Neill, 1992
The Hallowed Chamber claim that the highest aim to which humans can aspire is to aid angels in ridding the world of the demonic menace. They claim an unparalleled faith in the inherent goodness of angels and the angelic laws. They admit that the laws can be difficult - troubling - contradictory to each other and to the law of the land - but up until 2015 they were prepared to risk their lives to protect angels and humanity from the demon threat. Since then, things have become more complicated.
By and large they're holy warriors, vigilantes, loose cannons and those cursed with more bravery than sense. They've got to be cunning to survive - demons are smart, but they'd rather leap into action than engage in scholarly thought for days. Many have shared history, good or bad, with the Slough Institute, a mutual affection and exasperation with the White Quill, a deep mistrust of the Seekers, and something approaching bemusement towards the Hidden Order of Sa'aris.
The Hallowed Chamber claim descent from various legendary and heroic magical organisations; despite this, it is blatantly obvious they were set up in the late 1990s by three renegade witches from associations linked to the Slough Institute. The original goals were simply to promote the angelic laws and support angels in the battle against evil. In the early years this referred purely to demons, but after the Inverness Incident (2001) it became known that the Chamber had expanded the definition of their enemies to include those who were found to be actively aiding demons to commit acts of evil.
Between 2001 and 2015 the Chamber hunted down at least twenty minor demons successfully, banishing them back to Aether with the aid of an angel called Kerubiel. During these years Chamber activity was linked to various criminal acts - shops burned, graveyards vandalised, various accusations of GBH - and at least one suspected murder (unproven). When questioned - predominantly by the White Quill - the reason given was always that the victims of these acts were actively supporting demons in committing acts of evil. In most instances this could be proven: there were a couple in which this was highly suspect, and definitely one in which the victim, Kelly Smith, was proven innocent of any wrongdoing. Unfortunately this was the incident in which the victim was killed and the relatives of Kelly Smith harbour a bitter grudge.
In 2015 the Chamber began to appear divided. The three founders stopped appearing together in public and started making bitchy remarks about each other over social media. Rumours started to spread of an ideological split. The precise details are not known - the mudslinging on Facebook was overshadowed in March 2016 by what came to be known as the Norwich Incident (footage of which can be found on YouTube).
Mohammed Darzi and at least half of the Hallowed Chamber corned a group of witches in a hardware shop in Norwich. The group of cornered witches eventually fought their way out of the building, accompanied by a particularly large and powerful demon. They were attacked by Ruby Robinson, several followers, and the angel Kerubiel and in the fight which followed three buildings were levelled and half a dozen people seriously injured.
Taking advantage of the entire Chamber being distracted, Aislin O'Neill nipped into a nearby cathedral and used their WiFi to upload the entirety of the Chamber's files onto the internet.
Distracted, Darzi immediately ordered his forces to disengage: half to delete the online files to protect the identities of the humans in the Chamber, the other half to rescue the trapped people. Left without backup, Robinson's forces were overwhelmed by the demon, which collapsed another shop on them and then went in for the kill. Kerubiel got between Muriel and the humans and was defeated and blasted into fragments, which disappeared in a shower of red sparks. Left alone, Ruby Robinson took on Muriel solo - she was left ripped apart in a pool of her own blood, only just alive. Muriel tipped their hat to the Chamber, struggling to climb from the wreckage, and took to the skies.
The Chamber, being such a young organisation, has always been led by the three founders. Typically they each have a couple of lieutenants, who are chosen personally for excelling in some necessary field, such as demon-fighting, angel-summoning, or owning a house large enough to hold group meetings. The structure has always been somewhat haphazard and generally the Chamber will agree to put people in charge of operations for which they are suited.
Since Aislin's illicit publication of all their secrets the existence of the Chamber has become known worldwide and many of the newer members are communicating primarily through secure instant messaging systems. There is still a considerable presence in Newcastle, though many members are trying to sell their homes and relocate before vengeful demons come calling.
With O'Neill in hiding and Robinson in a coma, Mohammed Darzi is de facto in charge of the Hallowed Chamber. He's known to be struggling with the workload and desperately needs to recruit some lieutenants. He's also trying to keep the Chamber from splitting, though his pro-human policies are at odds with the fervent beliefs of angelic superiority held by many in the Chamber. He is trying to forge a middle path and it is thought that he needs new lieutenants from both sides to try and cobble together a rough alliance.
Without Kerubiel, current concerns include the number of vengeful demons who are likely to come calling, the need to form an alliance with a new angel (or find their old one) to banish demons, the need to stick together against adversity (or at least fight less publicly) and, ideally, to find ways of healing Robinson. Some members are suggesting the Chamber try to build bridges with other factions of witches. All are agreed they need to determine what their priorities are going to be for the coming year and in particular if they intend to keep Robinson's pro-angel philosophy going in her memory, or switch to Darzi's philosophy of prioritising human concerns.
Darzi has said he would like the membership to decide and this will be one of the key concerns at the first meeting.
O'Neill started off as a member of the Iron Filings working in a popular London tea shop. Over time, she was demoted to Loughborough, Inverness, and finally to the Shetland Isles. She stormed off the Shetland Isles (quite literally) and started up the Hallowed Chamber in an attic in Gateshead.
O'Neill was heavily implicated in the murder of Kelly Smith in 2013 and since then has rarely been seen in public. She took advantage of the fight with the demon Muriel in Norwich to betray the Chamber and release all their secrets onto the internet. She has not been seen since.
O'Neill is a witch of considerable knowledge and power and is known to have repeatedly summoned at least three celestials. Any witch attempting to make contact with her is recommended to go armed and in company.
Darzi was an Initiate in the Hidden Order of Sa'aris who was never promoted to Entrusted; it is believed that his dissatisfaction with this led to his leaving the group and joining his old uni friend Aislin O'Neill in her Gateshead attic.
Since 2012 Darzi has championed the cause of humanity rather than celestials. While he claims to believe in the angelic laws, he now says that angels need to work for humans, not just the other way around. His prioritising rescuing the humans trapped in the fallen buildings during the Norwich Incident led to the capture or destruction of the angel Kerubiel and the fracturing of the Chamber. While the YouTube footage appears to show Darzi running away from the fight and leaving his fellow witches to their fate, some argue that this is faked.
Darzi is a known environmentalist and a leading member of Amnesty International. In his free time he enjoys writing letters to newspapers, gardening, and working at the local homeless shelters. With Aislin in hiding and Ruby in hospital, he is currently the leader of the Hallowed Chamber.
Robinson joined the Chamber roughly two years after it was founded, having previously been a Junior Researcher at the Slough Institute. She is known to strongly believe in the divinity of angels and the righteousness of their fight against demons. Ruby is almost certainly responsible for the majority of incidents of demon banishment and has always had something of a cult following among the junior members of the Chamber for her go-getting attitude and uncompromising approach. It was Ruby who, after much experimentation, finally summoned the angel Kerubiel in 2001 and persuaded them to help the Chamber.
Ruby fought in Norwich beyond the point at which all hope was lost, eventually taking on the demon Muriel alone when the last of her friends and followers were trapped in the fallen rubble. She sustained grievous injuries in this battle and has been in a medically-induced coma in Charing Cross Hospital, London, for the past two years.
Ruby is known to like violent films, gin and tonic, and antique swords.
The angel Kerubiel was first summoned in 2001 by Ruby Robinson and remained with the Chamber ever since, usually living with Ruby in her flat in Newcastle. Kerubiel possessed the power to remove demons from this world - how exactly they did this, how permanent the effects were and what happened to the demons as a result is not known.
Kerubiel was destroyed, banished or captured in the fight with the demon Muriel in Norwich and has not been seen since. It is a matter of speculation how friendly they would be towards the Chamber were they to return, given that Darzi and his followers prioritised humans over their angel and left Kerubiel to their fate.
Kerubiel appeared to the Chamber almost every month for about 15 years. Evidence suggests they liked humans, Chinese food, and the opera.