"All the known ones leading into the covenant are barred with a door," answers Julius, "but the tunnels themselves are prone to change. Leonardus often speculated that the nature of the magical event that led the serpent and its nautical prey here, in this state, was so powerful that it formed a second pole to the magical aura within the valley. It's relationship with transformation -- probably what petrified the serpent in the first place -- affected the very fabric of magic inside the caves and tipped it towards the Art of Muto. This causes the caves themselves to change and you will also notice the same effect in many areas of the covenant."
Despite Julius' animated tone, he face remains emotionless throughout the explanation. Wolfgang also notes that the steward's mastery of Latin greatly surpasses both his and Clusius, both in vocabulary and grammar.
Maybe it was being left out of the introduction, or the sight of the other magus' spider familiar, but this is the moment Renardine chooses to make her entrance. She slides out of the saddlebags, and, changes into the shape of a red-haired woman with a thin, yet attractive face with speakling eyes, even as she slides down the horse's flank, barely avoiding a fall as she lands next to it.
"And I am Renardine, the Queen of France who has been turned into a fox." After the smallest pause she adds: "Just kidding. The maga Eikona is my familiar."
Eikona tries not to notice the unfortunate sign this man's Gift causes, and says: "It is good to see you. Where the noble house of Flambeau stands watch, the rest of us are safe."
"Then she must be a woman of competence, for these honors are not bestowed easily in the Alps."
Turning to the steward, she adds, still using: "Are you, good Sir Julius, more comfortable to speak Latin or do you prefer the Burgundian tongue?"
And returning her attention to the magi present, she confirms with speakling eyes: "I am looking forward to discussing the matters at hand over lunch. This is soooo exciting!"
"Whichever is more comfortable for them, lady Eikona," says the tall steward from beneath his hood. His voice is cultured and his Latin impeccable. After a stiff bow, he gestures the grogs to follow him, along with their mounts.
Jehan and Guiscard follow Eikona when they are led by an old servant woman to their guest quarters. The woman, whose name is Jutte, has a surprisingly young voice at odds with her wrinkled face and grey hair.
The rest of the day is spent settling in and being given a tour of the new covenant's strange installations.
Clusius proposes that the magi reconvene the next day to start discussing covenant business.
(Opening the floor to any in-character questions the magi may have had during their tour.)
Julius explains a little, "Master Leonardus often speculated that the nature of the magical event that happened in the caves was so powerful that it formed a second pole to the magical aura within the valley. It's relationship with transformation -- probably what petrified the serpent in the first place -- affected the very fabric of magic and tipped it towards the Art of Muto. This causes the caves to change and this spills over into the main compound. This may also have been amplified by a Twilight episode that Master Leonardus experienced while here."
"As to why this doesn't happen as much in the parts of the covenant where people live, that is unclear. Perhaps the presence of living beings somehow serves as an anchor. Or perhaps the structure is shy and doesn't want to act when people are present." For the first time since you have met Julius, his mouth forms a smile. It looks quite weird and deliberate.
Marcus gets that enthused smile that is well known to anyone who is talking to a nerd about their area of interest
"That sounds like it would be fascinating to look in to! I wonder if the muto changes can be brought out to make muto magics simpler? Or the aspected magic aura will cause people to warp to a pattern? The answer to either might have worthwhile implications for research. Mean the constant rearranging is a potent effect which seems to be powered by the aura itself. Imagine if you could stabalise how it happens to power such and large ongoing effects from a magical aura...."
Spindra pokes him offhand a with one of and her long chitenous legs and he pauses, chagrined but smiling
"Appologies. I am sure I will discuss this with the theoretically inclined at some length, but I should let some others get a word in edgewise"
As the group pauses in a large and unfurnished hall while Marcus and Julius talk briefly, footsteps will begin to echo from some other hallway leading to the large room. After a few moments, the footsteps become a hairy young man of above average height. He looks generally unremarkable except for his vivid green eyes.
He walks towards the group exclaiming: “Ah! There you all are! Heard you from down the hallway there. I’m still trying to find my way about this place. And what was that you meant by shy, Julius? Do you mean the phenomena has some sort of intelligence behind it?” Perion (for it is he) moves directly into asking a question without taking the time to introduce himself.
Eikona inclines her head and addresses the Tytalus first: "I am still trying to find my way around here. You are from Brittany, right? Is it too bold to ask where your magical interests lie?"
Turning to Marcus, she adds: "And I take it you are the Verditius magus. It's always good to have a Master Craftsman at the covenant. There is one of your house members at Fengheld, a wine maker, and he has never failed to impress me. I may have a business offer for you, Marcus. My late husband, " a cloud crosses her face and her voice sounds a bit raw, "used to own a flying cloak, elegant and practical, and speedy, with a pouch big enough for me to take my familiar with me. It was steered by concentration and finesse. He always said I was an elegant and a safe flier. Anyway, I'm looking for someone who could fashion me such a cloak. I daresay that I can pay handsomely for it. As a man of the cloth, you may be the perfect person to turn to. We would have to talk about fabric and color, and maybe about opening it a bit more, so I could make it water-proof, self-cleaning and warm, tiny hexes that I can easily add myself."
"oh dear, did I introduce my sodale, but not myself? Y-yes, I am Marcus of house Verditious. But I have made a flying cloak before for the redcaps, I can make a faster one for yourself, happily. I am more than happy to consult on style and colour, which I suspect is an issue more pressing to me as a weaver than many of my house who work in more rigid materials. "
"I shall be making an offer about enchantments, as soon as we have our first council meeting, I suspect"
Perion, feeling slightly chastised by the steward, takes a moment before turning and looking between Eikona and Marcus. He waits for Marcus to finish before starting: "Apologies! Yes, you and Marcus are both correct, I am Perion of the infamous House Tytalus, and I have recently arrived from Brittany."
He strokes his short, patchy beard for a moment before continuing on: "I was trained as one of the Titanoi, if that appropriately answers your question. Might I inquire as to where you are from, Eikona?"
The tour covers the various assets that the covenant has.
A small turb of grogs. Eight of them lived here before the arrival of the magi. Each magus' personal grogs will have to be integrated to the turb, for example learning the local language. The old-timers are a well-disciplined and competent group and know the valley well, but they speak High German almost exclusively. Some have families amongst the covenfolk or even in Chastellion. They are equiped with standard equipment (mostly short swords, spears, full metal reinforced leather and a few short bows).
There are over twenty covenfolk (servants, cooks and laborers), many of whom are related in some way. There are enough of them that they should be able to handle the new arrivals' needs, but a few more can be hired in chastellion as needed.
The covenant also has a small number of craftpeople. The stone cutter and her two sons, a carpenter, and an old glass maker. There is also a blacksmith who lives and work in Chastellion.
Two local vis sources, the huge oak tree in the valley and the petrified snake in the caves. There are more vis sources scattered in the region.
A small amount of lumber that can be harvested from within the valley.
The quarry for stones.
The taxes from the village of Chastellion, which is enough to cover the basic needs of the covenant.
Laboratories for all of the magi, although some of them are somewhat basic because there wasn't enough time to completely set upp all of them.
A small reserve of raw vis, twenty pawns in various Arts (including enough Vim to cast an Aegis).
A small library covering the basics, plus some more advanced books.
There is no Aegis of the Hearth active at the moment.
"I wouldn't be able to learn such a high-level Rego Vim spell even if I wanted to," explains Clusius with shrug. "What I can do, however, is offer support through Wizard's Vigil to improve its power. Provided, of course, that there are enough of us to join in a communion."
"If we are in a hurry to establish an Aegis, I have also secured a casting tablet for it. It is even riskier than casting it regularly, so I would understand if no one is willing to use the tablet."
"I only wish I had the aptitude. I am scheduled to cast some monsterous thirteenth magnitude ritual in the next decade, so I feel keenly my lack of some assurance of making it through disaster free, or some method for casting rituals cheaper."
Perion listens to what the others have to say before quietly offering, "I think I've had my share of lab accidents for the decade already, so I think it best if someone else sees to the Aegis. I don't mind lending a hand in whatever way is needed however."
"Wolfgang has generously offered to learn the aegis. I don't think it would be reasonable to demand the risk of a casting tablet from him, so I propose we live aegis-less for a season while he learns it. I will try to learn enough vim to help in future year's castings, if that would help?"