1205 Spring - The First Wave (Story)

March 27th, 1205

Perion can't help but to grin maniacally at the sight of the well-furnished room. As Mathias stokes the fire, Perion pulls a chair next to it gingerly and sits down. He sits there for a few moments silently. Perion turns to look back at Mathias, squints in confusion for a moment, and nods while quietly saying in Latin "That would be quite nice".

Once Mathias has warmed the bath and left, Perion approaches the clothing chest, selects a heavy robe from it, heads to the side room, strips off his ragged traveling clothes, quickly cleanses himself with the bathwater, and then gets dressed in the heavy robe. He swiftly returns to the seat near the fire, letting his thoughts thaw out until someone else should arrive.

March 23rd, 1205

"I do appreciate beauty, I don't understand why everyone doesn't. I just don't have the talent for creating it. I strive for perfection, it's the closest I can get, I think. I wasn't seriously suggesting you make it a defensive feature, something more hidden would be better anyway. "

The small man chews bread thoughtfully, and swallows.

"I would say, though, if it is to be a masterpiece, enchanting it with magical protection might be a good idea. To keep it whole, and to make it your magical property and thusly protected by the Code."

He ladles himself more stew, he has been eating ravenously.

"I wonder, what is the hunting situation here? Do we have any rights? I once was assigned hunting as an onerous task, but I've grown fond of it. And it can prove useful, I think."

April 2nd, 1205

(Spinnerbienne tries to ride his shoulder, but is uncomfortably heavy for the pathetically weak wizard. Spindra is too proud for that and scuttles alongside)

"Oh, yes. The dirt and dust of the road have made a mess of my robes. I would hate to make a bad impression."

He frowns at her obvious limp, already mentally working out how to help her.

"Can you tell me much of the covenant?"

March 23rd, 1205

"My apologies, sodalis," says Clusius. "I didn't mean to imply that you do not appreciate beauty. Simply that I think turning it into a defensive feature would... I don't know, exactly... lessen its value as something beautiful?"

"As for giving it magical protection, I feel that in a way it would do the same. Art isn't any less beautiful because it doesn't last forever. To the contrary. You see, one of my specialties are water sculptures, which last no longer than a moon."

Clusius shakes his head, "I'm afraid I do not really know, but I suspect that we do not. We have the rights to the income from the village, as well as harvesting wood and quarry stones from this valley. But I think that is all."

April 2nd, 1205

"I will ask one of t..t..the residents t..t..t..t..to bring you to g..guest q..q..q..quarters, then, so that you ca..ca..can c..clean up and r..rest. I am sure that master Clusius and th..th..the others will be happy to s..see you."

(Foregoing the stutter for the moment, but it's still present.) "I'm afraid I cannot tell you much, except that it is enourmous. I have only been here a few months and I get lost quickly. I only know the way between the courtyard, the eating hall, and my quarters."

She finds a servant (not Mathias but the experience is that not much different except that he is able to get a few answers to basic questions about the room and bath), who leads Marcus to guest quarters where he is able to take a bath. By the time he is clean, his personal belongings have been brought to the room.

Soon after, another servant escort him to another area of the covenant, where he is able to meet the other magi.


March 23rd, 1205

"Water sculptures? Fascinating. Do they... move?" Wolfgang sighs. "It's a pity about the hunting... I'd like to work something out, but I don't do well with mundanes... I suppose there are other ways..." He looks thoughtful, mind wandering in thoughts about both subjects.

March 23rd, 1205

Clusius shakes his head, "Not at the moment, although I have pondered creating an improved version of the spell which would produce animated sculptures. But that is for the future!"

"We might be able to secure some form of hunting right with the nobility." He sighs, "I will have to visit them at some point, I guess, to renew the agreement Leonardus had negociated. I do not look forward to it, for contrary to many of my Jerbiton sodales my Gift is not a gentle one."

"Now, have you given some thought about what kind of sanctum you would like to establish? You seemed interested in the caves, was that only for your serpentine companion? I am sure we can arrange a quick tour with Julius so he can show you the various laboratories we have started setting up so far. Do you have any other special needs that I should know about?"

March 23rd, 1205

"A cave would be a good option for me. I can make room for Kiefskala, it's fireproof, and I feel comfortable in such a place. I'm curious to see all the labs, but I'll probably end up in the cave... The only other special need I have is that I'd like to be able to get to the main covenant quickly, without going outside, are the caves connected? Unless you have a reason for me not to, it's in my nature to take on the duty of defense, so I'd rather not be completely isolated."

March 23rd, 1205

With a nod, Clusius answers, "Yes, there are several access points to the caves from within the covenant. Not all of the caves are interconnected, and those that aren't are mostly used for storage. But the main caves can be accessed without going outside. There is a reason for this -- one of the covenant's most valuable vis source is within the main cave."

"There were several side caves that were adequate to set up a sanctum, and work has been started in one of them to set up a laboratory. I had the feeling that you'd want an underground sanctum, to tell the truth."

March 23rd, 1205

Wolfgang smiles, and rises. "Your intuition is good. Shall we go?"

March 23rd, 1205

Clusius laughs, "I'll have to find Julius first. I'm not sure if I can find the entrance by myself yet. It is also already late in the day. Why don't we arrange for a tour of the caves tomorrow? That will give you time to unpack some of your baggage and unwind a bit from your long trip."

March 23rd, 1205

Wolfgang nods. "Fair enough. But we should probably all learn the entrance, it could be important, later."

The company rode into the village slowly and stopped. They looked strange, but not too threatening.

The first rider was the most martial one, a knight in full mail armor on a warhorse. The colors of his shield, a dancette of grey below orange, had never been seen in this village before, which meant that the knight had come from afar. He held up both hands in a calming motion and then patted his horse to calm it. He was in charge of three soldiers armed with spears, each leading a packhorse in addition to their own.

The second traveler of note was an elderly man, who was sharing his horse with a three-year-old boy that was sitting in front of him. The similarity of their features was striking: Clearly, they were closely related. The boy waved at the villagers and yelled: “Grüezi, mitenand!”

But the leader of the group was clearly the woman in an elegant mourning dress with an exquisite lace veil that covered her long golden braid. In her saddlebag, she had a tamed fox, testament to her wealth and her noble status. She got off her horse without any help.

In Burgundian, she greeted those assembled and asked about the covenant of Tugurium. At a nod of her head, the knight translated into German. When she learned that it was close, she held up a letter, promising fair payment for its delivery.

Two hours later, the company rode up the path to the gate from the north.

April 3rd, 1205

There are not many people gathered in the center of the village at midday, mostly older people and a few mothers watching over the gaggle of playing children as they perform some of the daily chores. Still, one of the women tasks an older boy with the task of bringing the noblewoman's letter into the valley beyond the village.

The child is obviously excited to be allowed to go there, taking off at a run on the dirt path leading south along the stream and into the mountains. He soon disappears between the many oak trees that grow around the village, many of which have tortuous branches and many knobs along their trunk.

The boy is back before an hour has passed, confirming that he has delivered the letter to "one of the guards". The woman who sent him pockets the coin given in payment, while the boy is quickly the center of attention of the other children as he tells of what he glimpsed in the valley.

Later, when the company rides the path into the valley, the first thing they notice is an enormous oak tree, all twisted and lumpy, its mossy branches just starting to show the green of budding leaves. It towers above the surrounding trees, its branches covering an area over twenty paces in diameter and its trunk wide enough that five grown men probably cannot encircle it with their arms. (It looks a bit like this oak tree.)

The stream that runs out of the valley gurgles a dozen yards to the right and below the path. The ground is still muddy, and the group may notice the tracks left by a cart which recently navigated the path, drawn by a donkey or a smallish horse.

As the company follows the path around a tight curve around a steep rocky cliff, they finally catch sight of the first buildings. The path itself splits up in three, with the center path leading towards the buildings, while the right goes down in the direction of the oak tree and left one snakes up the mountain face. As only the center path seems to have been used recently, as well as being much wider than the other two, the company continues ahead.

As they continue, a choatic assemblage of towers, halls and structures is revealed to their gaze, growing up along the mountain face. Some parts of the structure appear to be in disrepair, dark and their windows gaping, while other pristine with stained glass windows. No wall surrounds the compound, with a number of secondary buildings scattered before and below the main structure.

A welcoming committee has been assembled in the open courtyard, a few grogs with smaller number of unarmored figures. One of them advances as Eikona comes to a stop and dismounts.

"Welcome to Tugurium," he says in Latin. The man appears to be in his early thirties, with longish light brown hair and unremarkable eyes. His clothing are decent but rather common, except for a good woolen cloak which wards him from the still-chill spring breeze flowing down the mountains. "My name is Quintus Clusius."

(I'm leaving the exact number of people with him purposefully vague. Any of the magi who have already arrived may have joined him when the letters annoucing Eikona's arrival was received. Players get to decide wether their magus is present of not.)

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April 3rd, 1205

"Salvete, Sodales", Eikona replies, unsure if there are other magi among those present.

"I am Eikona ex Jerbiton. I've come to thank you for your invitation and with great hopes of making this covenant my home for as long as it pleases the Lord. Permit me to give you this mirror image of Valnastium in winter, our beloved Domus Magnus, as a token of my appreciation. Your description of the way was excellent, by the way."

She then proceeds to introduce her family and Henricus and says that they are her domus at the moment. With a glance at the three extra men, she explains: "Those three won't be staying. Andru was good enough to lend me a few extra hands. You know know what they say about ladies and traveling. We are quite the menagerie I'm afraid."

She smiles apologetically and bows her head respectfully.

April 3rd, 1205

Marcus will certainly be in attendance for a new maga arriving. He is a small, spindly man with dark eyes, and a drawn, narrow face. Smiling to meet a new hermetic mage, he's standing a step behind Quintus, but obviously a little eager to speak to the new person.

As is his usual want, there is a large spider sitting at his feet, and reaching up to his shins. He idly strokes the creature while looking at the new group.

April 3rd, 1205

A small man, under five feet in height and slightly built, with red eyes, and hair and skin both the color of bleached parchment, takes a few steps forward, from where he was standing next to an armored blond woman who towers over many of the men present. He is wearing a simple robe of thick, undyed linen, and the toes of heavy leather boots peek out from underneath the hem.

He gives the newcomer a friendly smile, but his presence seems to cause a stir of discomfort among the mundanes present, on both sides of the group. His voice is soft, and a little hoarse, as he says, "Greetings, sodalis. I am Wolfgang Weisse, of House Flambeau."

March 24th, 1205

The next day, Julius joins Clusius and Wolfgang to give them a tour of the caves. Wolfgang notices that the steward has a strange gait, his strides stiff though swift, and his movements a little too sharp. His features, when he lowers his hood are without emotions no matter how his voice becomes animated when he describes the various features of the covenant and caves.

After leading them generally southeastward through the compound, taking several corridors and flights of stairs, he stops before a thick wooden door reinforced with two bands of black iron. Selecting a large key from a ring with several others, he unlocks the door, which makes a loud screech when he pushes it open. He waits for the magi and Clusius, forewarned about what was coming, lights a lantern to light the way.

The somewhat flickering light reveals a tunnel into the mountainside, which was probably a crack into the cliff before the building was put up. The passage is fairly narrow, but not so much that a man cannot pass without brushing the sides. as you pass the door, you hear the faint sound of water flowing nearby. You remember that one of the smaller stream cascades down from the mountain right beside the covenant. This must be the source of this sound.

Julius takes point, while Clusius closes the march. The passage soon meets another, of a completely different appearance. Where the first was a sharp crack filled in with sand and gravel underfoot, this one is much smoother and the ground is mostly bare. Wider than it was high, it's cross-section shaped like a flattened tube. There is a bit of moisture on the rock and the air is cool. The two magi can now easily walk side by side, Clusius joining Wolfgang to share the light from his lantern.

Julius speaks, "When Master Leonardus first discovered the caves, he was exploring the aura in the valley, because of the villagers' stories about the oak. He found it strange that the aura wasn't at its strongest near the oak, but rather here near the mountain. The entrance was hidden behind brush trees and small rocks, so none of them at the village were aware of its existence."

They turn left and follow the wandering tunnel for some time. It splits a few times to side caves, one of which is barred by a masonry wall with a door. "We have configured this cave to be used as a sanctum," explains Julius, "as requested by master Clusius. We could do the same with a number of others, should other magi wish undergroung laboratories. One could certainly be used by your serpentine companion as a lair. There are a few tunnels that end back within the covenant as well."

"Note that some of the tunnels wander off into dead ends, while others are prone to simply disappearing or forming anew." They show Wolfgang what work as been done in his potential sanctum. (OCC: Leaving the details to be determined later.)

After this, they show Wolfgang the main cave, with its incongruous vis source -- a Roman galley, broken in half. Wrapped around it is a petrified sea serpent, its body as thick as a man is tall and its head raised in a soundless roar.

(OOC: Note that I will not repeat this description with the other magi, but they will all each be given a similar tour of the caves except for Wolfgang's sanctum.)

April 3rd, 1205

"Thank you, sodalis! I have never had the chance to visit our Domus Magnus," explains Clusius with a somewhat boyish grin, "so this will give me an actual idea of what it looks like. Did you know that my mater was recently offered membership there?"

Holding the mirror in his hands, as if a bit unsure what to do with it at the moment, Clusius turns to a tall hooded figure. "This is our steward, Julius. He will take care of finding lodging for your grogs, as well as Andru's, while we show you to guest quarters. These will be assigned to you -- and your family members, of course -- until you decide where you would like to set up your sanctum. For now, I am sure you would like to refresh yourself from your travel. Then perhaps after lunch we can all," he gestures at the other magi, "sit down and start discussing covenant business."

March 24th, 1205

Wolfgang enjoys the tour, seeming very comfortable underground. "That's a very interesting vis source. I wonder what Kief will think of it. That serpent is even bigger than his mother was. And I'd like to explore the tunnels in their entirety, particularly as they connect to the covenant. Julius, the safety of the covenant is important to me, Leonardus and you and the others have been so welcoming, keeping you safe is the best way I can repay your hospitality, and contribute to the communal welfare. Are all the passages barred and locked, with you having the only keys?"

[Note: I'm not asking for everything to be fully defined right now, just that Wolfgang becomes familiar with the tunnel/cave complex, in its partially undefined state.]