Wild Mass Guesses about the Black or Grey Councils from ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'':

[[WMG: The Outsiders are just Elite Mooks for the Black Council.]]

The Outsiders are not the Big Bads of the series, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the series is intended to last for twenty books, followed by the Apocalyptic Tirlogy (23 books in total, then). Sadly, while this does indeed mean tht the series is about three-fifths of the way done (*sniffles*) it means that the Outsiders are definitely NOT the Big Bads.
Butcher is a good storyteller and knows how to build up a good story arc. We aren't going to find out who the Big Bads are until book twenty (after which the apocalyptic trilogy to defeat them will begin). While it's pretty clear tha either the Black Council or Nemesis are the top contenders for the Title, the Outsiders have simply become too revealed to be the big bads.
* Also, the Outsiders are a bit too...tame. This troper was initially somewhat disappointed by He Who Walks Before, simply because it wasn't the unknowable engine of Mind Rape that he had been expecting. Maybe it was the somewhat humanoid structure or the ability to communicate intelligibly. I was much more impressed by He Who Walks behind because A) he was much more personal and sinister, choosing to stalk prey and hunt them down with his own agenda and B) he was just flat out STRANGE, what with his ability to sneak up behind people but never appear in front of them, his strange fusion of cephalopod, reptilian, and animal flesh, etc.
** Remember, Lash specifically referred to [=HWWBehind=] as the ''strongest'' of the Walkers. [=HWWBefore=] seems to be more of a scout and saboteur, not a brawler and assassin, so it's not all that surprising that he'd come across as a bit wussy by comparison.
*** On that note, when it comes to an army or invasion force, where do the scouts typically walk? Also with that logic, and Butcher's penchant for [[AsskickingEqualsAuthority Asskicking Equals Authority]] and [=HWWBehind=]being the strongest, the general, and behind the mook wall makes sense.

[[WMG: The Grey Council IS The Black Council.]]

Peabody's plot was entirely set up for [[BatmanGambit one purpose: to cajole Harry into joining and unwittingly working for the Black Council.]] He is serving their agenda(which could turn out to be that of a bunch of WellIntentionedExtremist s,) and he doesn't even know it. Ebenezar says to him, "We'll have to walk down some mighty dark roads, in some mighty dark company." He is trying to warn Harry, being a member of the Black Council and not approving of the decision but unable to change it.
* Ebeneezer is Cowl.
** So how'd he disguise the "feel" of his magic from Harry, who can normally recognize a spell's caster by its energy-signature?
*** With [[spoiler: the Blackstaff.]]

[[WMG: The Members of the Black Council.]]
How has this not come up yet? Anyway the obvious ones are Mavra, Nicodemus, Cowl, a Traitor on the senior council(may also be Cowl), Ortega, and I'd say one of the Sidhe but there aren't any good choices there.
* Well Toot-Toot is most likely in charge of the whole thing.
* Mavra probably isn't. Cowl is practically a confirmed member and these two indirectly butt heads in Dead Beat.
** Moreover, if she and Cowl were in cahoots then she would probably have known that Bob contained the same information as ''The Word of Kemmler'', so would've simply demanded that Harry turn the skull over to her at the beginning instead of sending him on a possibly-futile search for the book.
* I'd go with Tessa instead of Niocodemus.
** Tessa seems too chaotic to join. Nicodemus is the planner. Tessa is impatient.
** ''Small Favor'' almost {{Jossed}} this as far as Nicodemus goes.
** ''Turn Coat'' {{Jossed}} it explicitly. Thorned Namshiel was stated as the guy who assaulted Arctis Tor, and Tessa was also hinted at being a member.
*** No it didn't. Harry is an unreliable narrator. Just because he thinks it was Thorned Namshiel doesn't mean it actually was.
* I say the Merlin is part of it. 1. Stopping the council from fighting back. He's playing defensive in the war letting the Reds wear down the White council and everyone's saying the Council needs to go offensive but the Merlin's not listening while the Council continues to hemorrhage members. 2. He's killing of the new blood, Harry comments that more people have been killed as warlocks in the past few years than in the past few decades before the war.
** The Merlin seems too obvious to me. He's probably more of a RedHerring than a traitor. He just happens to be a jerkass politician.
* The current in-universe theory as of ''Turn Coat'' is that Gregori Cristos, the man who was made a member of the Senior Council in order to replace LaFortier while bucking several procedures and traditions in order to do so, is the traitor in the White Council and engineered the entire plot of the book in order to get the opportunity to gain a position on the Senior Council. However, this does not account for some of the events in the other books and the possibility that one of the other members of the Senior Council is also a traitor remains.
** Or the possibility that the Senior Council member whom [=McCoy=] replaced was a member, and Cristos was put in [=LaFortier=]'s slot to ''replace'' the Mole whom the Red Court, acting independently of the Circle, had taken out.
* Perhaps unpopular, but I am inclined to think that Ebenezar is a member of the Black Council. As one of the Senior Council members, he fits most, if not all of the criteria to be a candidate for treachery. Furthermore, because of his status as Blackstaff of the Senior Council, he is the only wizard in the world officially permitted to break the laws of magic, which has been heavily emphasized as a corrupting influence, no matter how good the person doing it is. What makes this even more plausible is that by helping Harry realize that the Black Council exists, Ebenezar is able to present himself as Harry's sole trustworthy confidant on the Senior Council and ensure that anything Harry finds out never gets any further. This is especially emphasized by the subtle suggestions made by Murphy that Harry is actually far more prone to routine and habitual courses of action than he realizes. And guess who Harry runs to at the first sign of Black Council related trouble...
** The reason the position of Blackstaff exists is because of the eponymous artifact: a black staff the protects the user from the corrupting influence of using black magic.
*** We don't really know the motivation of the Black Council yet, or even if the members all have the same goals. Ebenezar could be a mole, or simply a WellIntentionedExtremist and be a part of it.
** Glad to see someone else had the same idea as this Troper. We still don't actually know what the goals of the Black Council as a whole are, other than to make life hard for Harry and that several members are not above killing anyone who gets in their way, including most of Chicago. Ebenezar could be a member and not agree with most of the Black Council's actions any more than he agrees with the White Council's actions. And, given that at the end of ''Turn Coat'', he drafts Harry into creating yet another council, ostensibly a Grey one...
** When Harry spoke to him about the Black Council, Ebenezar answered "I totally agree, I have no information that could help you, make sure not to tell anyone else or gather any allies." Could there ''be'' a more villainous response?
*** Considering that Ebenezar is the Blackstaff, he could have killed Harry with all the effort it takes to swat a fly. What he did was recruit Harry into his own Black Council-hunting group, the Gray Council. Ebenezar also knew that Harry would blow the whole operation if sufficiently provoked. (See ''Changes'' for full details on what it would take for Harry to blow everything.)
** Perhaps Ebenezar ''is'' secretly a member of the Black Council, but he's trying to use Harry and the Grey Council in order to pit [[RightHandVersusLeftHand Black against White]] and either destroy them both and create something new from the remains. The White Council has become far too archaic to keep up with the new world and is too zealous in regard to unknowing offenders of the Laws of Magic. The Black Council meanwhile, appears to have a very dangerous attitude towards black magic. Neither system is perfect. A clever wizard might decide to TakeAThirdOption.
* The group depends on the motivation of the Black Council. Look at what the White Council is doing, killing warlocks formed by lack of training. Look at the Black Council, users of black magic in control of themselves. They'll be revealed like Nicodemus to have their own motives that seem good on the surface level.
** Given that a neatnik bureaucrat like Peabody was working for them, and Cowl's having been the ''least'' overtly-destructive of the necromancers from ''Dead Beat'', their internal dogma presumably is of the "build-a-new-and-better-order" sort, rather than blatant ForTheEvuls. At least, that's what the human members probably believe, although if it's Outsiders who are behind it all, their actual intentions are probably far more destructive and destabilizing.
* Assuming a group of well-intentioned extremists I'll give this listing.
** Cowl
** Ebenezar
** Deirdre/Unnamed Denarian. Nicodemus is jossed, Tessa doesn't seem the type. It has to be Deirdre betraying her father or a Denarian we haven't seen in action. A coin that, unknown to Michael, "escaped" thus allowing for the "we can end it here" to happen.
*** Deirdre seems to be Jossed as of ''Skin Game'', as she proves her absolute loyalty to her father pretty well by [[spoiler: letting him sacrifice her]].
** Mavra, possibly. She comes off with that StealthMentor vibe.
* My list goes more like:
** Cowl
** Denarian: Thorned Namshiel
** Denarian: Tessa
** Mavra
** A Dragon (just because we haven't seen a Dragon on center stage yet)
** Senior Council: Gregori Cristos
** at least one other Senior Council.
*** Ebenezar is out though, no chance of Ebenezar in this troper's mind.
* He Who Walks Behind. All of the Black Council's actions seem (key word: seem) to have taken place ''very'' recently. So after Harry's previous mentor, Du Morne, summoned HWWB, there is the possibility that the Outsider was able to go around Earth, collecting influence with people like Cowl, certain Denarians, maybe a few ranking Fae, etc.
** Although, this would mean that Rashid the Gatekeeper is one of the Black Council, since it's his job to make sure nothing gets through the Outer Gates, and something as powerful as HWWB would be setting off alarms all over the place for Rashid.
*** [[spoiler: In ''Cold Days'', Rashid can spot the effects of Nemesis on Winter's wounded, and presumably also spot Outsiders ... but only when he's wearing his crystal false eye, not the steel one he wears when among White Council members.]]
** It could also be another Walker of similar power, whose particular talent is concealing its presence from the likes of Rashid.
* This tropers list (* means rather dead):
** Marva (too heavily involved in setting up the war to be otherwise)
** Cowl (obvious reasons)
** Justin* (It's unlikely he whistled up He Who Walks Behind as his first ever outsider summon just to put a hit on teenaged Harry)
** Vitto* (Associated with Cowl and outsiders)
** Thorned Nashiel (Attack on Arctis Tor)
** Titania (probably coerced, supported Nashiel's plan)
** Mab (The attack on Arctis Tor was to place her under a mind-control effect, and she's been fighting back)
** Peabody* (Possibly did the outsider summoning, mistfiend and codeword makes it unlikely he's simply some bitter guy who doesn't know about the black council)
** Gregori Cristos (his unusual rise to power is rather suspicious, although it might not have been plan A)
** At least one high-end Outsider, possibly He Who Walks Behind (For {{Eldritch Abomination}}s, they've been pretty co-operative, likely because it's all a setup by an Outsider knight)
** ''None'' of the senior council members as of ''Dead Beat'', since it seems likely they could have disrupted the ward and slaughtered the Council's entire military force.
*** Not a chance. Mab and Titania don't play for the same team. Ever.
* This is a weird suggestion with no real evidence to back it up, but Injun Joe could be the traitor. Only reason this troper suspects him is that Ebenezar vouched for him, and GenreSavvy makes me think that HAS to mean he'll be revealed as a bad guy.
* Anyone had the same idea as this troper and suspects Martha Liberty? There has been almost no focus on her in thirteen books and what we do know of her doesn't point to evil. But since this is Jim Butcher we're talking about, the fact that there's no real looks at her yet is probably significant.
* This troper'd like to tack Mister Ferro's name onto the list of possible suspects. There's got to be ''some'' reason why he'd have bothered to go slumming at Bianca's party, despite out-classing even Mavra, Lea and Ortega. And we know that ''something'' burned its way through the defenses of Arctis Tor, suggesting access to fires even more potent than what a couple of Denarians might've conjured.
* This troper is convinced that Satan is part of the Black Council, perhaps even in charge of it.
** [[spoiler: ''Cold Days'' suggests that it's not just humanity's souls that are threatened by the Black Council's machinations, but ''all of reality'' as we know or imagine it. Even the Nevernever, which includes Hell. Which puts ''even Satan's'' own neck on the block if Nemesis wins.]]
* Given that the Deep Ones, er, the Fomor, are apparently a new heavy we've never heard of before, I'd reckon that they and their connections in the supernatural community are the so-called "Black Council".
** That said, their allies may include members of the traditionally theoretical Black Council, such as Cowl and Kumori, Tessa, Christos, etc.
* This troper isn't placing any bets yet, but would like to point out that Mavra knew about Harry having already sullied ''Amoracchius'' once before (''Grave Peril''), so could have warned any hypothetical Denarian co-conspirator that their attempt to make him do the same to ''Fidelacchius'' (''Small Favor'') wouldn't work. If Mavra is Black Council, then Nicodemus is even-more-completely in the clear, and Thorned Namshiel (and Tessa?) must be '''incredibly''' nervy, to have allowed the Swords to get that close while knowing that all three would remain potent and their own best wizard was crippled.
** Not even slightly indicative. Mavra doesn't actually know how ''Amoracchius'' became vulnerable... and telling the story of how she failed anyway isn't likely to help her in future dealings with the rest of the Council.
** The fact that Mavra tried and failed to destroy the Sword is hardly a secret; everyone at Bianca's party witnessed it, so anyone who'd talked to Ortega, Ferro, or Lea after ''Grave Peril'' could hear about it. As for the details of how it was sullied, the Nightmare was working for Mavra and Bianca, who were probably demanding regular detailed updates on their mutual campaign to mess with Harry.


[[WMG: The Black Council does not exist]]
I was reading the above argument for Ebenezar being on the Black Council, and was reminded of O'Brien from Literature/NineteenEightyFour, with Harry as Winston and the Black Council as the Party. Then I though, what if it isn't the Black Council that is the Party, but the White. The White Council made up the Black so they would have an non-defeatable enemy who could not be found to point both external enemies (Nicodemus) and potential internal enemies (Harry) at. This would allow them to keep a real threat from within from occurring, as any potential rebel would be found by a council member they trusted, and "let in" on the existence of the Black Council.These potential rebels would then spend many years spinning their wheels looking for non-existent spies and threats, instead of becoming threats themselves. The Black Council would also serve as the catalyst for an EnemyMine situation if the White Council ever needs to make a temporary ally out of an outside enemy. They simply claim to have discovered a Black Council member, and request the aid of someone they usually would not work with to deal with them.
** Sorry but when Harry soulgazes Denton he sees a flashback of Denton KNEELING WHILE RECIEVING HIS BELT. Either way he does have an unknown benefactor, otherwise he would not have known of the White Council. Sells also knew far more than a mere acolyte should. Either way both had SOME kind of benefactor.
*** [[spoiler: Revelations in ''Cold Days'' suggest that Denton, at least, was actively infected by Nemesis. This explains the disgusting black gunk Harry saw all over everything in Denton's soul during the gaze.]]
** Why would the Merlin be so insistent that there is no Black Council if he's the one making it up as a perceived threat?

* New take on this. There is no Black Council. There is no The Circle. This is what those in the know use to couch Nemesis in familiar terms. Ebeneezer knows Nemesis. Ebeneezer realizes that Harry doesn't know about Nemesis, so he presents Nemesis as a shadowy conspiracy. That's what he TELLS people he's fighting against, and that's a natural conclusion that others come to when they first become aware of Nemesis.

[[WMG: Mavra and Nicodemus will join Harry and Ebenezer's 'Grey Council'.]]
Nicodemus is effectively confirmed by the events of ''Small Favor'' NOT to be part of the Black Council. Mavra so far has forced Harry to stop another Council member from gaining power. Ultimately, despite the rather bitter hatred between Harry and both Nicodemus and Mavra, they'll be forced to work together to stop the Black Council.
* Nick has killed at least 3,000 people, including Shiro, and Mavra forced Harry to get an amputation. I doubt Harry will be teaming up with them anytime soon.
* I have to agree. He tolerates Marcone because he's AffablyEvil and actually has a good motive for the things he does, even if Harry doesn't care for his methods. I can't think of anything that would motivate him to have that kind of alliance with those two, even TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt... especially considering that's where Nick's headed anyway.
* I'd disagree. Harry is, above all else, practical. He's already worked alongside Lara Raith more than once, and she's almost as bad as Mavra and Nicodemus. He may hate it, loathe it, and fight it every inch of the way, but if he pushed way too deeply into a corner, he may end up temporarily working with either Old Nick or Mavra to fight the Black Council.
** Exactly. When you have to choose between working with the devil you know or the Black Council winning, you're going to pick the devil. Don't forget that unless Nic and/or Mavra is running a long game, we've seen both of them work directly against the interests of the Black Council.
** I call bullshit. Lara Raith is NOWHERE near as bad as Nick or Mavra. Lara is approximately Marcone level evil, maybe a half point higher. Nick is easily one of the most evil characters in the entire series, with Mavra a close second. (I think that Nick should be the poster-child for Neutral Evil)Harry is practical, but he knows better than to team-up with the guy who has broken the accords so he could torture a little girl.
* The Devil ''literally''. Nicodemus is a Fallen Angel. He is evil incarnate. Harry would never, ''never'' work with him, because he represents everything Harry is fighting against.
* The big difference between people like Lara and Marcone and people like Nicodemus and Mavra is that, ultimately, the former are evil, but also forces of stability; as such, their on Harry's hit list, but pretty low, and they want some of the same things he does (albeit for different reasons). On the other hand, we have Mavra, who's a Black Court vampire (read- remorseless killing machine) and Nick, who tried to jump start the Apocalypse and is implied to do this sort of thing fairly regularly, in addition to all his other atrocities. In terms of raw metaphysical evil, about the only things that have them beat are [[{{Satan}} Nick's boss]], the [[EldritchAbomination Skinwalker]], and probably some of the top-tier Outsiders. In other words, these people are about as evil as evil gets, and allying with them is both stupid from a practical standpoint and way beyond the grey areas where I see Harry willing to go.
** Lara isn't really evil so much as a highly effective predator whose prey happens to be human beings. And Marcone is honestly about as evil as Batman.
* While that's all true, what most of you are forgetting is that this is not about them working with Harry, it's about them joining the Grey Council. Whether or not Harry would be willing to allow them doesn't matter: He has no say in this. So long as the other members vote and the majority agrees to allow them membership, Harry's opinions would be largely ignored. Though given Ebenezar's reaction to Kincaid, and how he probably was one of the founders of the group, it really doesn't seem likely they'll get a nice fruit basket invitation.
** Mavra may also be excluded on the same grounds, as ''Blood Rites'' implies that Ebenezar'd detested her even ''before'' she barbecued his grandson's hand.
* Nicodemus seems to be out of the running as of [[SkinGame Skin Game]]. [[spoiler: Considering how he is on the edge of utter destruction now]], I think it's far more likely he'll do something very, very crazy to get back at Harry.

[[WMG: Harry's Mother leads the Circle (AKA Black Council).]]
Justin is, as we all know "D-E-D dead," but the circumstances of his mother's death are much more mysterious. She had enough forethought to place an enchantment in Harry and Thomas that would give them interactive, personalized messages decades later, enough skill to strike a favorable bargain with the Leanansidhe, and enough potential for dark magic that the Council is worried about Harry partially because of her.
* [[TwoWordsObviousTrope Two words]]: ''Death'' Curse.

[[WMG: The Gray Council has either been infiltrated or is actually a part of The Circle (aka The Black Council)]]
They showed up with a flash of green lightning in ''Changes'', which if memory serves, was all the arrival method of the Black Council agent in ''Turn Coat'' during the fight on Demonreach.
* That green lightning came courtesy of [[PhysicalGod Donar Vadderung]], so if it has the same source as Peabody's transport to Demonreach... that could be slightly problematic.
** It's possible I'm wrong then, but I seem to recall green lightning being tossed around on Demonreach. I'll have to recheck.
** The green lightning was how the Genius Loci of Demonreach appeared to challenge Harry.
* They didn't use green lightning. They arrived through a Way via Nevernever; Harry's ''intellectus'' warns him that they simply "appeared" on the island, which means Nevernever transport.
** The ''Grey Council members'' just "appeared", but they used a portal that Odin created out of lightning to bring in [=McCoy's=] kenku buddies.

[[WMG: Harry is a member of the Black Council.]]
And he doesn't even know it. Isn't it interesting how well developed Subconscious Harry is? It's quite possible that Harry is a member of the Black Council. Possible explanations are a split personality, possibly enthrallment, or maybe he's just been hoodwinked by the 'Gray' Council.

[[WMG: The Grey Council consists of....]]
Thirteen members of the Grey Council showed up at the end of ''Changes''. Three are Harry, Ebenezar, and Vadderung. WordOfGod is that six more members of the Council are people we've already met in the series, and they're all either wizards or other people with magical power. The six are...
* Luccio [[spoiler: Unlikely, as Luccio was mind warped by the Black Council. It seems like the Harry would have likely been informed that Luccio had been expelled from the council, and should now be watched]]
* Listens-To-Wind (Both wizards conspicious by their absence, and allies of Harry and Ebenezar. The letter from Luccio ''says'' that they were all incapacitated by Council infighting, but this could easily be disinformation to hide what's really going on. Alternately, they ''are'' members of the Grey Council, but they were captured/infected, and couldn't make it)
* The Gatekeeper Rashid (''very'' conspicious by his absence) [[spoiler: The Gatekeeper is revealed to absent mostly because he's too busy combating against the Outsiders. Doesn't necessarily mean he's not on the Grey Council, but it would officially make him the busiest wizard ever.]]
** [[spoiler: If the Grey Council's goals are the same as his own, it would make him ''less'' busy, because he'd have them as backup to call upon. Definitely a strong candidate.]]
** While his goals likely align with the Grey Council, [[spoiler: He really does not have the time to spare from the Outer Gates. I'd expect him to help out occasionally as available. Though, if the time ratio is variable and semi-controllable like Arctis Tor, he might generally be able to make himself available at critical moments.]]
* Lily (acting as an agent of the Summer Court in the war against the Reds, and interpreting her Queen's commands liberally) [[spoiler: Dead as of ''Cold Days''. Unlikely that she's part of the Grey Council, due to Harry being the go-to guy for Faerie relations. That would be strange if Ebenezar was on good relations with the Faerie himself.]]
** [[spoiler: Even more unlikely now that it's established that Odin hangs around with Winterfae.]]
* Fix (see above)
* Maeve (conspicious by complete absence from the story involving Harry's ascension to Knighthood, supporting the Winter Knight and fighting against those who attacked Arctis Tor - in fact, I'm 99% certain that Rashid and Maeve are on the Council, and about 90% certain Lily is on the Council as well, which brings Fix in too) [[spoiler: Dead as of ''Cold Days''. Better ''hope'' she wasn't on the Grey Council, because she's been working for Nemesis and could've ratted them out if she knew who was on it.]]
Other potential members of the six:
* Nicodemus (vested interest in opposing the Black Council and destroying the Red Court, willing to work with Harry)
* Eldest Gruff (see entry on Lily)
* Elaine (ally of Harry, no friend to the White Council but opposed to the Black)
** Adding to this: someone at Chichen Itza was tossing around Harry's spell, and Elaine has cheated off him before.
*** No, they weren't. The "''fuego''" line was an order for the Red Court's mercenaries to start firing their guns, spoken in Spanish.
* Ivy (statement of being neutral may have changed due to circumstances or been a lie)
** Couldn't have been Ivy. Given what we've seen her capable of when her magic was ''severely'' limited, if she'd shown up at the end of ''Changes'', with the temple sitting on top of a leyline that she must know about, the battle would've been [[CurbStompBattle much shorter]].
** Now that [[WordOfGod Word Of Jim]] has revealed that [[spoiler: the Archive was never really "neutral" or a hedge against the loss of knowledge, but was created to lead the Oblivion War]], Ivy as a Grey Council member seems more plausible. She'd have to conceal her identity and downplay the magnitude of her powers, to maintain the Archive's reputation for strict neutrality, but [[spoiler: the chance to wipe out the Lords of Outer Night, erasing more reminders of the Aztec gods they impersonate]] isn't an opportunity she'd pass up.
* Klaus the Toymaker (apparently a serious heavyweight on the White Council)
** Klaus might well be the single best wizard for a strike against known opposition with plenty of time to prepare; he's an enchanter and it's repeatedly demonstrated that wizards are most dangerous when they've got a vast assortment of magical gear and possibly a well-made potion.
* Warden Chandler, a.k.a. Steed, a.k.a. the Warden Luccio trusts most.
* The Merlin. Yes, he's a Jerkass. Yes, he's directly opposed Harry in the past, and nearly had Molly beheaded out of pure spite. But we've seen nothing to indicate that he's evil, and he's shown hidden depths before, in ''Turn Coat''. While he's ''officially'' not acknowledging the Black Council, that's only official. His adversarial relationship with Harry and Ebenezer is at least partly a cover to hide the Grey Council's connection to one another.
* The Earlking. [[spoiler: As of Cold Days, an associate of Vadderung.]]
* Mavra. If the Black Council want to end death, then their goals are diametrically opposed to the Black Court of vampires. Also she stands to benefit from the ensuing power vacuum if the Red Court goes down.
* Do bear in mind that the Grey Council seems big on internal secrecy to limit the damage done by an infiltrator. Two mutually-incompatible members might simply not know about the other one.

[[WMG: Elaine is the Black Council's counterpart to Harry]]
Elaine has been awful helpful to Harry in both her appearances, but there has been markedly few Face-Heel Turns/reveals yet, and Elaine would be a particularly poignant one. We know that [=DuMorne=] took her for the same reasons he took Harry, which means that what makes him special is something she also posses, which would make her a valuable ally for the Black Council in the same way most factions are clamoring to get Harry on their side. As mentioned elsewhere, she has repeatedly used black magic to cloud peoples' minds, which is a far cry from Harry's occasional loophole abuse of the laws.

She was [=DuMorne's=] thrall for a while, and even if he is 100% dead and doesn't have a hold on her, we've seen that hardcore mind control can have horrible long-term effects on someone and could well have been the tipping factor in Elaine going evil. Where she is helping Harry, she's either doing it as part of a long game the Black Council is running to get him into a vulnerable position, or working at cross purposes with other allies (the plan would seriously harm her own kind, and depending on their arms they could well be a self-serving bunch who use proxies, like Harry, to undercut each other). Her involvement in ''White Night'' could have even been leading Harry into a trap in hopes of removing him from play. The Paranet, the hastily-thrown together solution that would keep the two in contact, could well have a sinister intention that we haven't yet seen.

[[WMG: The Black Council is [[spoiler: Nemesis]]]]
Or rather, a loose organization of major power-players [[spoiler: infected by Nemesis, plus maybe a few who are helping the Outsiders of their own free will for whatever reason]]. This seems a fairly safe bet, considering that Harry theorized the Black Council as the masterminds behind a bunch of the things he's faced, and [[spoiler: Nemesis]] is all but confirmed now as the mastermind behind many of those same things, but it needed to be thrown out here by someone. Exactly how well organized it is depends on [[spoiler: how cognizant Nemesis's thralls really are of what's happening to them -- Maeve knew exactly what was going on, but she also seems to have accepted it willingly in order to slip free of the various restrictions placed on high-level Sidhe and as such is probably not a typical example -- and how well they can communicate and coordinate with each other]].
* Here's an important question: Can [[spoiler: Nemesis]] control Outsiders? And if so, maybe the Outsiders ''wouldn't'' be trying to break into our universe if they weren't [[spoiler: controlled by Nemesis]].

[[WMG: The Jade Court is behind everything.]]
They manipulated the White Court in thinking they had the idea to get ''Dracula'' written and then started the vampire war so that Harry would wipe out the Red Court. Now it's just them and the White Court. The black council probably has at least one Jade vamp higher up in it.

[[WMG: "Cowl" is a ''title'', not a proper name]]
Probably the Black Council's chief field agent, simply because Cowl in ''White Night'' comes across as much more vicious than the version in ''Dead Beat''. A handful of the BC's elite might simply trade off the title and BlackCloak on missions, pretending to be one person to disguise the extent of the organization. "Cowl" is obviously a pseudonym, and this is one possible reason for it.
* Alternately, Cowl ''is'' the character's official rank within the Black Council, but only one person has held it throughout the series; he goes by title while in public because he's someone the magical community at large might recognize (be it a Senior Council member, Undead!Justin, Kemmler, [[FutureMeScaresMe Harry's future self]], or someone completely different).
** I thought Cowl was just what Dresden called him because he is TheNicknamer.
** Nope- he introduces himself as Cowl, and Kumori and Corpsetaker call him that too.
* Alternatively, the Black Council might be big on new names/titles in general, as a form of protecting one's name from other magic users - and of maintaining anonymity. It's also possible that certain names might build up a sort of legacy, with ambitious BC members choosing such a name so as to claim it's history for their own. Or they might hand these out as a result of their own version of a trial (see Summer Knight, where we have the White Council version) for the graduation of an apprentice. And, for that matter, they might identify strongly enough with their second name to gain some of its power. Corpsetaker may not have been the first Corpsetaker, either - Harry translated the name out of Latin, even.
** We've seen nothing to suggest that Corpsetaker was part of the Black Council, however.
* Cowl being less vicious in ''Dead Beat'' may have merely been his concession to Kumori's ethics, however. In ''White Night'', he's hanging around with much nastier associates, and may be acting more brutally to impress them.
* Didn't Harry identify Cowl in ''White Night'' more by his magic 'signature' than anything else? Which means it's the same guy, whether there have been other Cowls or no.

[[WMG:Cowl is a proper name, not a title.]]
* Cowl's real name is ''Cowell'', a character we've never met!

[[WMG:The Black council was founded by associates to Kemmler, and their main target was the vampire courts.]]

The ruin of the black court was not only caused by White court manipulating Bram Stokers into publishing Dracula. The book was published in 1897, and the subsequent muggle vampire craze and the corresponding decline of the Black court presumably took a few decades (Nosferatu was released in 1922). This was at the same time as the prelude to and actual World War I, which in the Dresden-verse was the height in the career of Kemmler - one of the most powerful necromancers ever. We know from Dead Beat that Necromancy is a powerful weapon against Black court vampires. Kemmler and Dracula (who is confirmed to exist in Dresdenverse) even shared the same geographical region in eastern Europe. It is not a large stretch to believe that this bunch of rampant necromancers became a serious threat to the Black court vampires.

The alternative hypothesis is that the rise of Kemmler was partly because of a collaboration with the Black court - who are powerful necromancers themselves - but we have not got any indication of this, and given everything we heard of Kemmler, and given how close he was his end goal of becoming a god, it is fair to believe that even if a collaboration existed at one point, it would have fallen apart once Kemmler rose enough to power. In addition, at that point the White council had pulled out all the stops and started to stomp down hard at Kemmler and everything that smelled anything like necromancy in eastern Europe. With people like Morgan in the front line the wardens would not have lost any sleep about innocent Black court vampires caught in the crossfire.

If this is true it opens some interesting lines of inquiry, because then we have seen three entire vampire courts suffer hard at the hands of individual wizards the last hundred years.
* Black court - Kemmler
* White court - Margareth le Fey, when she put her Death curse on Lord Raith
* Red court - Harry Dresden

We know that Kemmler was as dark as wizards get, and we know that Margareth flirted with the dark side. We also know that Harry has made a career of being manipulated by evil wizards, most notably Justin. We also know that there are all kind of conspiracies around. The "Black council" may not have been what Harry thought (an all wizard conspiracy behind all the recent problems, which is now suspected to be caused by the much larger conspiracy/infection of Nemesis), but there has obviously been a conspiracy of wizards acting against the council, with people such as Justin, Cowl, Peabody, (maybe) Margareth and probably more. From what Kumori has said it seem like they work towards some sort of better world order, and it is more than likely that this Wizard controlled utopia does not have a place for vampires.

From this we can piece together the following theory. The Black council was founded at latest in the end of the nineteenth century, most likely by wizards associated with Kemmler (if he was ever a member himself it was just to use the Black council for his own purposes). Some members associated with the White court and was part of the publication of Dracula (this associated later introduced Margareth to the White court). Others (like Peabody) influenced the White council while others yet (like Cowl) fought the Black court directly. This was the first phase of the vampire war, and ended with the Black court in ruins.

In the second act the Black council stirred up mistrust within the white Council and the White court against the Red court. However, at this time (the better part of the twentieth century) their agent within the White court (Margareth) did the unthinkable and left for True Love. However when she died she still put her death curse on Lord Raith and set up her sons to bring down the White court even further. Without Margareth, and without collaboration with the White court, the Black council bided its time. When Justin was killed by Harry the plans took yet another step backwards.

The third act is the one we witnessed. Harry had set himself up as a power in Chicago and managed to make an enemy of Bianca. The Black council stirred up mistrust and manipulated Bianca into making her grab for power. This turned out to be the last straw that after a century of preparation kicked the Red court and the white council into open conflict.

The original plan was probably to have Margareth and the White court support the wizards at this stage, and then turn to the White court only after the red was destroyed. Her fall from their ranks forced the Black council to change the agenda and turn to the reds first.

The Black council had not counted on Harry killing the Red court in Changes - they most likely figured he would be long dead by that time. Their plan was simply to goad the White council into war and have people like the Merlin and Ebenezer do the killing under the influence of Peabody.

So what was the original plan for fighting the White court? In one of the short stories we saw a Red court vampire attempting to force people to fall in love in order to create spiritual poison towards the White court. She used an enhanced belt which we never find out where it comes from. Most likely the same source as the Fool Moon Hexenwulf belts, which most likely comes from Cowl or someone else in the Black council. In White Knight we see factions within the White court attempting a coup in association with what Harry thinks is the Black council. This was likely brewing for a long time as well.

Thus the original plan of the Black council was to spend about a century to get greatly reduce the vampire courts and (judging from Margareth's interest in changing the laws of magic) to insert wizards as a more active force in the mundane world. For their end game the Black council would make a coup in the White council. They would get their most dangerous opponents killed in the vampire wars or kill them themselves and with the help from people like Peabody take control over the Council with minimum fuss. It didn't happen that way, mostly because of a medling wizard and his mother, but still the work has been done, two vampire courts are reduced and Cowl is still at large.

What the Black council doesn't know is that they are themselves being used by Nemesis, and that their disruption of the White council is a part of the larger plan to wreck havoc with the world's defenses from outsiders.

[[WMG:Ramirez is Black Council and has been shadowing Harry all along.]]
Because traitors are always the ones you least suspect and who would you suspect less than Ramirez? Especially after the virgin riff from ''White Night''. But a lot of things he does can seem sinister with the right spin and the signs are there if you look for them:
* He's survived lots of battles that killed other Wardens and rose through the ranks quickly at a young age. He's prominent and popular without being political. All desirable traits for an inside agent.
* He pumped Harry for what he knew about the "Black Hats" and tried to get Harry to include him in any plans against them.
* He has at least some disdain for the Merlin, if his remarks at the trial in ''Proven Guilty'' are any sign.
* ''Someone'' betrayed the location of Camp Kaboom.
* He was the one who led the insurrection that got Luccio and the other Wardens locked down in ''Changes,'' which denied their aid to Harry at the crucial time.
* Remember how a disappeared Morgan was going to be a thorn in the side of the White Council? Who didn't try very hard to find Molly in ''Ghost Story''?
* Narratively, he hasn't been brought in to the Grey Council that we know of, which gives Jim Butcher an out for if/when Ramirez does stab the White Council in the back.
* Per [[WordOfGod Word of Jim]], whatever hurts Harry the most. Ramirez is arguably Harry's closest friend outside his inner circle and a betrayal by him would sting a little, no?

[[WMG: The Black Council is a group of people who use black magic to combat Nemesis and the Outsiders]]
Nemesis is a contagion that allows members of our reality to be possessed by Outsiders. [[spoiler: It was Maeve's body, but not Maeve in it, so the Outsider possessing her could lie.]] However, any Outsider possessing the body has access to the body's power and knowledge, meaning that [[spoiler: Thorned Namshiel]] still retains the power and skill of a centuries-old sorcerer.
They're a group of powerful magic users who have little or no relation outside of the fact that they're Black Council Members and that they are of ''this'' reality. They are prepared to use black magic to combat Nemesis and keep the Outsiders on the other side of the Outer Gates (they're ruthlessly self interested and want to keep the gains they've made thus far in this reality). The White Council would destroy them for using black magic, so they're trying to get rid of the White Council first. Their involvement with Harry seems to be incidental, as he's the one constantly stumbling across their agents.

The group is made up of many of the darker freeholding lords, along with a few players we've seen so far.
* [[spoiler: Peabody]] - A minor agent, expendable. Meant to sow discord among, and ultimately destroy, the White Council.
* Cowl - The only character in the series who has been explicitly identified as a member of The Circle.
** By extension, Kumori is likely involved (if she is, in fact, alive).
* All speculation of Cowl's real identity aside, if any of the following are NOT Cowl, they are probably still involved as themselves.
** Justin [=DuMorne=]
** Simon Pietrovich
** Kemmler
* Vlad Drakul - he's now been name dropped a couple of times. You don't do that if he's not going to be an important part of the plot.
* Ferrovax - we've never explicitly seen his power at work; he could actually be the one behind the attack on Arctis Tor. Harry has only speculated that it was Thorned Namshiel.
** It could be any Dragon, I suppose, but since Ferrovax has been named as a character, Conservation of Detail says that if any Dragon is involved, he is.
** Unlikely. Dresden specifically notes the smell of Hellfire, so a Fallen melted the gates.
** I dunno. I don't think it's ever been stated that Hellfire is exclusively the province of one of the Fallen. We also don't know what kind of arcane magicks Dragons possess, but I'd be willing to bet that fire magic on an epic level is probably one of them.
* The Black King, and maybe Mavra by extension
** The Black Court evidently doesn't ''have'' a King, although Mavra may well have made herself Black ''Queen'' by now: she's had that necromancy book for a while.
* The Erlking
** If you think the Erlking is part of it, you might as well believe that Donar Vadderung and the entire rest of the Grey Council is part of it, since Erlking and Vadderung seem to hang out. I don't even see how Black Magic would exist for the Erlking.
*** Vadderung could be part of it without the entire rest of the Grey Council finding out, just playing his own game. That said, upon rereading ''Changes'' and ''Cold Days,'' I'm rethinking my position on the Erlking. He's too wrapped up in his own stuff to be part of a plotting shadow organization. It's just not his style.
* Nicodemus - He was REALLY angry when he found out one of the Denarians was involved with Nemesis (if we assume Arctis Tor was Nemesis's doing)
* I don't think Cristos or the Merlin are members. Ebenezer said that stupidity is infinitely more dangerous than malice, and I'm inclined to agree with him. There's the potential for far more damage if the Merlin and Cristos are well-intentioned, but either incompetent or disinclined to act.

[[WMG: Mavra ''used'' to be Black Council, but went rogue to pursue her own agenda.]]
In ''Grave Peril'', we see Mavra working closely with Bianca, training her in magic and colluding with her to entrap Harry at the party. She's also the one who applied the barb-wire curse to enough ghosts to allow the Nightmare to arise, and she also seems to have taught that same spell to Kravos or his ghost, allowing the Nightmare to apply it to Mickey Malone. Together with Cowl's and Kumori's early cameo-appearance at the party, this suggests that the blampire was initially quite deeply involved in the scheming that went on that night.

Mavra then appears in ''Blood Rites'', sets up Dresden to go vampire-hunting with his allies, and snaps photos which she can use as blackmail material to coerce Harry at some future date. We see the use she makes of those photographs in ''Dead Beat'', forcing Harry to collect Kemmler's book for her. All nice and sneaky and calculated in advance, right...? Except that ''nobody knew'' Kemmler's book was going to be found until Bony Tony stumbled across it in a neglected storage locker. There's no way that Mavra could've known about her future need to extort Dresden into tracking down the ''Word'', back when she lured him into getting Murphy's act of Renfield-killing photographed. So why, if not for the book, did she ever feel the need to snap pictures of Harry's Justice League, rather than just kill them outright in payback for his actions at Bianca's party?

My guess is that Mavra '''used''' to be working with the Black Council, and manipulated Harry in ''Blood Rites'' because the conspirators 1) wanted Dresden out of the way because his foiling of Aurora proved he's strong enough to become a liability, and 2) wanted blackmail material on ''Murphy'', so they could keep SI from nosing about any future operations in Chicago, a major ley nexus-point and the closest city to Demonreach. Had events progressed as the BC anticipated, the photos would've turned up on Murphy's desk with appropriate warnings if the mortal police ever came close to any of the Circle's schemes in the area, or otherwise raised a stink about something (like Butters' dead-vampire autopsies) that they just didn't want noticed. But when a Circle agent learned that the Kemmlerites were searching for the ''Word'', and Cowl jumped on the Darkhallow bandwagon, the prospect of acquiring Kemmler's fourth book was so tempting to Mavra that she cut ties with the Black Council and put the blackmail photos to a different use: pressuring Harry into delivering it to her, and her alone.

Ironically, by scaring the unliving crap out of Mavra at the end of ''Dead Beat'', Dresden may actually have driven away one of the few beings who could actually have filled him in on the "Circle" and its agenda, years before he started to figure things out for himself. There's possibly still time to learn what she knows, if she turns up at the conference for ''Peace Talks'' ... although, knowing Mavra, the price she'd demand for such insider knowledge about the Black Council will be both steep and ghastly.

[[WMG:Black and Gray Council Members.]]
* Black Council: These people are all evil or unbalanced in some way, most likely--see Harry's talk with Molly about this in ''Turn Coat''. So it's probably not going to be some one like Father Forthill, as wild and horrifying as that would be. My best guesses are as follows:
** Mavra: She was definitely tied closely with Bianca, and thus Cowl as well. She's definitely in as an amoral killer with a lot of age and power, as well as the patience to play the long game and the wisdom to know when ''not'' to fight, as evidenced by her proving smarter than Binder when Harry told her to GTHO.
** Red King: he definitely was involved because the Red Court showed up with Outsiders on the roster, and that would never have happened without his permission. If he was infected by Nemesis, it may also have hastened his loss of control.
** Formor: Aty least some of them, because of how awful we've seen them to be, and because if the Fae are [[spoiler: fighting the Outsiders at the Gates]] then the Formor, who are enemies the Fae defeated long ago, would definitely be open to an EnemyMine.
** Tessa: she's not loyal to the cause, but just wants to use them to cause as much destruction as possible. If not her, then Rosanna is the only Fallen we've seen explicitly using Hellfire, and she was in the attack on Artis Tor.
** Ferrovox: has been corrupted into joining by Nemesis. If he weren't he would have wasted the Red Court for giving him a (presumably) corrupted gift. But he may be fighting it like Lea and Sith.
** Claus the Toymaker: He's a powerful wizard we've heard mentioned and Ebenezar thinks he's Senior Council material, but we've never yet seen him.

Probably more, but I'll move on to my Gray Council guesses.
* Eldest Gruff: Mab and Titania can't be on the same side, but just as Lea probably is Mab's proxy of support, Eldest Gruff is Titania's, which is another reason why he likes Harry.
* A (high-ranking) member of the Jade Council: we've heard about them but never seen them, and they were purposefully keeping out of the Vampire war.
* Hades: he's in with Mab and clearly a decent guy. If not him, one of his relatives.
* Martha Liberty: Senior Council member and friend of Ebenezar's who he presumably trusts.
* River Shoulders: good guy, powerful, might be in if Listens to Wind is but I'm not sure...
* Mac: he's a member but he's a spymaster and can't reveal