Eikona raises a finger and stabs the air: "Am I the only one who thinks we should renegotiate the passage about the rights of the line of Leonardus? Since the covenant doesn't exist at the moment, this passage can be renegotiated now. Or we could simply found a different covenant in this place using a different charter.
I do not mind giving the voices of the heirs extra weight to represent their central contribution to this covenant as it is. But I see two problems with this. First, over time, our contributions' weight will grow, but our power in the council will not. Second, if Clusius dies before I do, I might lose my home, my lab, all but my most private possessions.
I hereby suggest we limit the extra voting power of the heirs to a second vote. I'd also feel more comfortable if we become heirs of Leonardus after a membership of a number of years, like ten. This would free me of my worries of being turned out of my lab when I'm old.
As I see it, Clusius, you are under a lot of pressure. You'll need all the allies you can get to make it through the political storm you are steering this covenant into. This will work better if the people fighting by your side have something to fight for, if they are stakeholders, not just magi who can be bought with a better offer of vis."
She takes time to look into the eyes of all magi present, then leans back in her chair.
"If we are to discuss additions to the Charter... no, let's tackle one subject at a time."
"If I'm not mistaken you are Eikona of Jerbiton, right? Very well: I'd like to point out that the rights of the lineage of Leonardus do not grant full authority on the covenant, only the chair of princeps. The princeps cannot censure or remove a magus from the covenant except through a vote in the council. At worst, depending on the choice of the Heirs, we will be bound to a princeps we dislike, and he to us. There is also the chance of asking the heirs to chose other from their midst."
"I'd also like to point out that, if the worst happens and all of them perish, the covenant goes to house Jerbiton. In such case, I believe we have more to fear than you."
Regulus turns to Augustus and Clusius.
"But Eikona does raise valid points, and to start I'd like to question if Clusius and Augustus are fully entitled to make decisions in the name of the Heirs, and to what extent."
"I'd also like some assurance that, if all civility fails, we are not to be evicted by the Jerbiton on the grounds of this place being theirs. To whose hands and in what terms would the covenant go to house Jerbiton? Does Leonardus has an hermetic brother, or nephew, that would inherit these grounds, or is it all ending in your primus hands?"
"Finally – Regulus directs this to all of the present – I agree that we are to be friends, to each other an to Clusius. We will all be in dire circumstances, and we will prevail only together. I fully expect this to be the beginning of a long friendship, not bitter rivalry between us all, because I myself have objectives that I will not accomplish without your help."
"To answer Eikona's question," replies Augustus, "the assets of the covenant, including the vis sources, are currently part of the inheritance of Leonardus. As heirs, his three filii can dispose of them as them want. So trying to take control of them without their consent would constitute grounds for an accusation of deprivation of their magical power. The reasons they agreed to the formation of a covenant here, is first to respect the wishes of their departed pater, and second because it saves them the trouble of moving here themselves or travelling here regularly to harvest the sources themselves."
"As it is, the vis that will be delivered to the heirs by the covenant potentially constitutes only one
third fourth of what can be collected. The log detailing the complete list of vis sources found by Leonardus will only be surrendered once this Charter has been signed."
"You worry that if Clusius should die before you do, you might lose your belongings here. But no clause of the Charter is linked directly to Clusius. Should he die an untimely death, another magus or maga from the line of Leonardus would be designated to occupy the position of Princeps. It is only if the whole line of Leonardus were to die that the covenant would be dissolved and the inheritance fall to House Jerbiton, in the form of its Primus. The intent is to prevent one or more unscrupulous members from arranging the death of the Princeps and the heirs in order to seize control of the substantial resources ceded to the covenant. As it is, you will have a vested interest in keeping Clusius alive."
"The Charter protects you as much as it protects the heirs' inheritance. You should note that it takes a unanimous vote to expel a member and that the Princeps not overrule the Council. Most covenants have a much lower treshhold for expelling someone, usually a two-third vote."
The old man shrugs, "I'm afraid the conditions regarding the Princeps are non-negociable. You can refuse to sign the Charter if you don't agree with them, but then the best you will be able to achieve here is to be offered the status of a protected guest."
Clusius raises his hand to add, "I'm sorry if this clause bother some of you. It wasn't my idea, and I wasn't even consulted about it. I hope you still decide to join as a member, and I want the council to be a team, not to be a tyrant."
"To answer my fellow Guernicus," adds Augustus, "I am not here to make decisions for the heirs. I represent the succession in the ratification of the Charter, but do not have the power to modify it in their name. Nor does Clusius. Should you reject it and request a modification, I will have to travel back, communicate with the three heirs -- who all live in different Tribunals -- and draft a new version of the Charter. This would probably take a few months. Provided, of course that the heirs agree to the proposed modifications at all."
"I understand. Thanks for the explanation, Augustus."
"I suppose it is always better to be under a Charter than no Charter – just as it is always better to be in a Tribunal than no Tribunal."
"There are other matters that I would like to bring to this council's attention, but they can wait until Eikona and the others have had all of their questions related to the succession answered."
After all other discussions end Regulus asks for the word once again.
"Well, if all other matters were already discussed, I'd like to propose the following alterations to the Charter. I have been warned – Regulus glances at Augustus – that they are too... radical. Yet, I feel that I must put them forward for your considerations."
Regulus then takes out several copies of the following amendments and distributes to everyone present (OOC: I'll link the discussion below, we don't need to repeat it here. Except for, maybe, Perion's reaction?).
After a few heated diameters of discussion:
"I have listened your concerns, sodales, and do believe me when I say I understand your fears, and even agree with them, to a point. I shall withdraw my motion. Instead, for now I only ask that all the members of the covenant agree to treat apprentices with... sigh... a general good intention. As future magi, for that is what they are."
Everyone notices that it seems like Regulus expected this reaction, but is still a bit displeased by the result. When he says general good intention it is almost possible to see the words dripping from his mouth, heavy on his tongue.
"I will draft a new text for addition, more agreeable to my fellow magi, and shall propose it at a future opportunity, according to the procedures already described on the Charter."
Regulus sits down and looks patiently to Augustus and Clusius, waiting for the next topics of discussion.
Eikona mulls it over, then says: "I think some kind of guest status would be ideal for me. Valnastium will always accept me as a member since I am a vis source. I could be some kind of liaison between that covenant, which might inherit all of this here anyway, and at the same time enjoy being closer to the place I was born. For you, the advantage would be that I wouldn't claim any of your vis and that an attack on my sanctum would be an attack on Valnastium. I'd have to ask Andru about it, of course, but I'm sure the Alps would like to see you as part of their sphere."
You will want to join the Alps anyway, if this covenant has enough vis to show: If you join Normandy, you will be raided and joining the Rhine will not only take forever but also mean that your voices won't be heard since voting in the Rhine favors elder magi. Waiting for the Lotharingian Tribunal to form is a bold move, because it means waiting until the Tribunal of 1228."
Feeling rather out of his league with the sudden storm of new names, legal rulings, and differing Tribunal customs, Perion sits quietly and listens to what the other parties have to say before offering some of his own opinions. As Eiokna finishes, he breathes in sharply and starts in quickly, "I have no real preference for any of the Tribunals based on any of our prior experiences with them. I would much rather see us join whichever is most likely to not interfere or cause us trouble than for us to blindly stick to our old allegiances."
Perion pauses and slowly looks each Magi in the eyes around the table, lingering for a moment when his gaze passes over Regulus. He continues, "It seems we all come from rather different places, and I think that it might be best to avoid stepping on each others' toes as much as we can. That seems to be the most accommodating solution for everyone here. I doubt this will be the last time we discuss the charter anyways. Perhaps we should add some kind of provision to put it up for review again by the Council after some number of years? Otherwise, I myself don't find anything particularly troubling with any of this so far."
"I am sure that we will have many discussions about which Tribunal we should join," says Clusius with a nod. "It is certain that we will have to get in touch with authorities in each Tribunal to learn what would be the conditions to join them, as well as how they will react if we join another Tribunal. At the moment, I know very little about the rules for the Rhine and the Greater Alps. Or even Normandy, for though I was apprenticed there, I was seldom interest in such questions."
"But that is for the future. I suggest we postpone further talk until later."
Turning to Eikona, he addresses her preference regarding her status, "You can of course remain here for a time as a protected member, sodalis, if that is your wish. I had hoped you would join us as a member, based on the letters we exhancged. Perhaps, after a year or two here, you will reconsider?"
Nodding to Perion, Clusius adds, "Indeed, after a while we may want to make some changes to the Charter. I believe the only clauses that cannot be modified pertain to the nomination of the princeps and the payment of one pawn out of every four1 we harvest to the heirs, "is that correct, Augustus?" The old Guernicus nods.
"Are there any additional questions," asks Clusius, "before we sign the Charter?"
1 My mistake in Augustus' initial speech, for I was quoting from memory. The Charter actually states one pawn for every four harvested, not one third. I will correct my previous post.
Eikona leans back in her seat and watches the rest of the debate unfold. She thinks about the weird clauses in the charter and wonders if any of her Jerbiton sodales are martial enough to end the line of Leonardus. A few years ago, she would have said that was almost impossible, but the fall of the Constantinople has activated a surprising amount of martial rhetoric in her house.
While the others are talking, she composes the letter to Andru in her head in which she explains why she wants to be an off-site member of that covenant. Unbidden memories of Constantinople interfere, of what was and of what could have been.
After proposing his additions and failing to gain enough support Regulus has no more points he would like to address about the Charter. He sits back and waits for a few seconds before asking for the word again.
"After signing the Charter are we going to hold our first official council meeting? If so, is there a competent scribe to take notes of the proceedings? I believe it would be best that this person is not one of us, so that we can focus on the discussions."
"On the other hand, we could delay the first meeting for a couple of days, if you all agree. I could surely make use of a hot bath and a good night of sleep."
"Anyway, whenever we hold our first and future meetings, a scribe would be helpful."
"We don't have a professional scribe amongst the covenfolk, and I am not sure about letting a mundane be present during Council meetings," Clusius answers. "But we could ask Julius to take notes for us. Unless one of us wants to take them?"
"If you trust it, I have no qualms."
Regulus leans back in the chair and waits to sign the Charter.
"Notes are probably a good idea." he smiles
"you would not imagine how much easier things would have been in my apprenticeship if all the covenants kept good notes. I agree a council meeting is in order, but I'm sure that giving all of our newest arrivals a night to rest and wash the dust from the road off of them is a good idea."
Wolfgang shakes his head. "I believe the meeting should continue, so we can get a better grip on the question of tribunal, while Augustus is still here to advise us and hear our decision. But I am ready to sign the charter now."
Marcus nods, but looks to the new arrivals
"well, I am certainly ready to sign now. I was just considering our new friend's weariness, but if you are happy, then I can easily see the wisdom of speaking while we have such a well respected quisitore here"
"Excellent! Let us proceed," says Clusius with a smile. In turn, each of the magi swears the Oath of Covenant and signs the Charter, starting with Clusius and finishing with Regulus. Augustus Nero signs both copies as witness, before cutting them apart in a wavy line with his sharp quill knife.
Only Eikona's signature is absent from the Charter.
Turning to her, Clusius formally says, "Sodalis Eikona of House Jerbiton, I hereby offer you the status of Protected Guest of this newly-formed Covenant of Tugurium, with the rights, privileges and obligations outlined by our Charter. Do you swear to respect the members of this covenant during your stay here, and to behave in a manner befitting the hospitality offered to you?"
Eikona frowns at the phrasing. "I do not swear for I am a Christian, but I solemnly promise in the presence of those quaesitores, aware that going back on my word will not only cost me the priviledges of a guest but, more importantly still, will stain my hermetic reputation. I think attracting divine wrath would bode ill for this newformed institution."
She falls silent again, curious what kind of tribunal membership the covenant will aspire to.
Wolfgang clears his throat softly. "Well, Divine Wrath aside, I will restate my earlier question. Augustus, how strong is the Lotharingian movement? Are there allies enough there to protect us at the next round of tribunals? Or will we just draw a target on ourselves? By the way, are any of us a skilled Certamen disputant?" He looks around the table.