For a story happening while some of the magi visit Rhine covenants to find sponsors for the next Tribunal.
Just as Spring is ending, a letter arrives to Tugurium, addressed to Regulus. It is carried by the redcap Javier, who isn't from around here.
When he arrives, he is let to a waiting room, and a servant is sent to let regulus know of his presence, and the letter.
Once Regulus arrives, Javier bows and hands him a letter with the seal of Caecilius of Bonisagus.
I hope my letter finds you well, and that you're well adjusted to your new covenant. As the senior Quesitor of the Rhine Tribunal, I have a request from you. There's been a case that I would like you to take upon yourself, as my hands are filled with others.
The Covenant of Crintera has reported that one of their apprentices-turned-magi has disappeared, and would like our help to investigate this. His parens claims he fled into the night, and is unable to locate him.
If you can go there, and figure this out for them, I know they will be grateful, and will pay you well for this.
Javier will await Regulus' answer. "If you can give me your answer, i will carry word of it to the esteem Quesitor."
Regulus had already been trading a few letters with Quaesitor Caecilius, having already mentioned Tugurium's interest in joining Rhine and his availability to help in case there was any need before Tribunal. He was also intending to spend the next season in Durenmar perusing the records in order to get a better grasp of the Tribunal dynamics prior to joining.
Still, the request arrived with some surprise for him, and the magus considered for a few moments before replying to the Redcap.
"Thanks for bringing the letter, Javier. The matter seems to be somewhat urgent. Thankfully I'm about to finish a lab experiment, and I'll soon be ready to travel. I understand that you are a Redcap from Rhine, is that correct?"
"If you can wait a couple of days I would gladly follow you back to Rhine and answer to Quaesitor Caecilius summon myself. But if you'd rather return now, it will take but a few moments for me to write an answer. Anyway, I will depart in a few days."
"I'd also appreciate if you could tell me what would be the best way to reach Crintera for one travelling on official business. I trust it would be better to reach Durenmar first, and then use one of the portals of your House?"
Javier smiles, and gives a short bow "Indeed Sodale Regulus, I am from the Rhine, since Master Caecilius deemed the letter important enough to entrust it to me for direct delivery. I would have gladly taken you up on your offer of hospitality, but my duties require that I return to the Rhine as fast as I can, and therefore I was entrusted with an item that will allow me a speedy travel."
"Since you're being sent on official Quesitor business, you're more than welcome to come to Durenmar and peruse our portal there to Crintera. That is, unless you'd rather make the long way by boat on the rivers and then a boat to Crintera." He gives a smile at that. "I do have to say that sumemr is a great time to take that route though, as it's very scenic, but that's up to you whether you want to travel fast or now."
"I'm sure I'd appreciate the travel, but I'm afraid the my quaesitorial tasks will be better conducted if I reach Crintera sooner."
Regulus asks for some time and leaves for his sanctum, returning after some lenght of time with a sealed parchment.
Tugurium has been good to me, and my lab work fertile. I hope that quaesitorial work has not been too harsh on your hermetic studies.
It's with sadness I hear your report on the missing of one of our sodales. I'll make my way to Crintera in order to assist with the investigations as soon as I have settled a few matters here. You can expect me to arrive at Durenmar in a fortnight, when I hope to hear more abou the case from you and take a portal to Crintera.
"Here Javier. The ink is not fully dried, but that should pose no problem."
After seeing he redcap off Regulus will return to his lab, doubling his efforts to finish his spell and organize his notes. In a few days he is ready to leave.
On the day of the departure.
Regulus informed the other magi about his upcoming travel and got a group of grogs together. He is taking with him Simon, his trustful shield grog, and how many others are necessary for the trip. His initial intention is to also bring Argos, but if Alba insists on keeping the boy with her (she manifested some intention of teaching him Latin) he will aquiesce.
Regulus and his retinue will depart for Basel, and from there to Durenmar.
If possible to cast w/o stress, Regulus will make judicious use of his new spell (Sense the Feet that Tread the Earth) whenever necessary to ascertain if there seems to be danger ahead (or around!).
If nothing goes wrong, upon arriving at Durenmar his plan is to seek Caecilius.
(OOC: I'm leaving the exact cast open to allow for any suitable grogs to join. Also Onfrei, if he is already known to the magi (he might be interested in seeing if the Bjornaer magi have a way of riding him of his lycanthropy?). If he is not, Regulus could meet him on the way to Durenmar?)
The road to Basel goes without a trouble, but the road from there to Durenmar is hard. There aren't really roads to follow, and you need to either march through the Black Forest, or circumvent most of it, until you reach close to Durenmar. In either case, it's not easy going, but your spell does allow you to avoid most troubles on the way.
None of your retinue suffers more than some minor scratches on the way there.
Once you arrive, the splendor of Durenmar is evident. It might be the Domus Magna of the bookish Bonisagus, but it definitely inspires awe. You are regocnized by the covenfolk, and are ushered to a waiting room in the Tower of Bonisagus, where you're told that Archmagus Caecilius will meet you.
There's refreshments for you to partake, if you so wish.
The wait isn't too long, only half an hour, before Caecilius arrives, his silver wolf following closely. While Caecilius is talking, you can see his wolf sitting close to him, and while he's lying down, his eyes seem to look into you, as if he can gather your secrets just by looking.
"Welcome Regulus, I trust your journey here has been fine. I'm afraid I can't spend too much time in your presence, as I have a lab experiment that needs tending to. But I am willing to answer any questions you might have, though, one thing I'd like to correct, since your letter seems to suggest there was a miscommunication, the missing person is an apprentice, but one that has already underwent the Ritual of Twelve Years, so his Heartbeast is open, and therefore, our Sodales at Crintera consider him almost a full magus."
"Thanks for the warm welcome. I won't impose on you too much."
"Oh, an apprentice yet? That just makes the matter even more pressing then. Every apprentice is a magus waiting to become."
Regulus appears to become a bit more spirited.
"Can you share with me any further details you might have before I take the portal to Crintera? What is the name of this apprentice, and for how many years have his arts been opened? Since when did he undergo the Ritual of Twelve Years? When exactly did he go missing, and under what circumstances? Who reported his missing? Has anything been done till the moment to find him?"
"Do we happen to have an arcane connection to him, and if so, is there someone capable of casting The Inexorable Search? I'm afraid that I have not yet had th time to learn that spell,useful as it is."
Caecilius gives you a wry smile.
"I have heard of your notions about apprentices, which is why I thought you would make a good Quesitor to put on this case. I haven't been given too much data, but the use of The Inexorable Search has yielded nothing. Either he's dead, has the ability to block it, or is off the maps we have. As for your other questions..."
His demeanor changes, just before a short rotund woman barges into the room. She is wearing a robe of green colors, that seems to shake and move constantly, and her eyes are a black color that seems to suck you into them. She's about to launch into a tirade, but she stops when she sees you, and her eyes narrow.
"Caecilius, we've waited long enough.... Ah, I see the Quesitor you've summoned almost a year ago has finally bothered to show up. Nevermind, we're running out of time, and the case is getting colder. If he has any questions, I will be more than HAPPY to answer them." The Happy is said with some measure of sarcasm.
"My name is Nele, of House Bjornaer, and I am to be your point of contact with Crintera, and it's Magi. His name is Herman, and he's been an apprentice for 5 years after his Arts have been opened. He underwent the Ritual of Twelve Years just last year, and as I've said, he went missing about a year ago, as for the circumstances of his disappearance, his Parens claims he just fled, but we're not sure that's necessarily correct. Search parties, and spells have been used to try and locate him, to no avail. Arcane Connections fail to work, and we suspect his Parens have used an initiation to purge all such previous connections. Oh, and you should probably know that his Heartbeats is a swan."
Having said all that, she starts tapping her foot as if in a hurry. Caecilius meanwhile seems rather bemused about her impatience.
Regulus rises from his seat.
"Hello Nele. I'm pleased to meet you. I mean, not under these circumstances, of course. I'm sorry for my delay, my new covenant has only recently been integrated into the Redcap network."
"Well... Archmagus Caecilius, thanks for requesting my presence. I'll do my best to find the young Herman. I think Nele will help me with all I need from now on. I'm sorry for taking you out of your sanctum."
Turning to Nele.
"I'll need to thank you in advance for your patience. Can you answer a few more questions while we go to Crintera? I'd like to talk with a few people. Starting with Herman's master, if possible. Who is he?"
Regulus is either unaware of the impaticence Nele demonstrated by tapping her foot or chose to not care.
Caecilius nods at you, and gives a small sigh, though you're not sure whether from relief or not "Farewell regulus, may your investigation find the missing apprentice."
Nele looks at you "Patience? I have been waiting almost a year, am all out of patience." And she starts to walk down the hallway "If you want to know the details, you'll have to catch up." When she sees you catching up, she explains "Herman's master is a recluse named Gulos. We know he lives somewhere near the northern coast, but not his exact location, since he's not part of any covenant as far as we're aware. To be fair, if not for the Ritual of Twelve Years, no one would have known he's taken an apprentice, since he never bothers to attend the Rhine Tribunal meetings."
Regulus stops the first attendant he can find on their way and quickly instructs them to find his servants and bring them to the portals.
"I'll do my utmost to compensate for the lost time. Have no doubt, this matter is as dear to me as it is to you."
After hearing Nele's description about Gulos:
"Was it Gulos who reported Herman's disappearance and requested help to find him? Why does he believe the apprentice fled? And where to?"
"ACs not working will surely pose a problem. You suspect some initiation... I don't intend to probe, but is this some common thing in house Bjornaer? As for Gulos, did he gave any explanation or suggestion regarding ACs not working?"
"You mentioned Herman's Heartbeast is a swan. Forgive me, but I know little about house Bjornaer customs. Does that bear any special significance for your house?"
You and Nele reach the portal before your servants arrive, but once you've reached it, she stops, and leans back, waiting for them to arrive.
"Yes, Gulos reported Herman's disappearance, but only after the Council has requested Herman's presence at Crintera. He forswore any knowledge of how, where or why Herman fled."
"We have a House initiation that makes a person shed all past connections, though it also includes him forgoing his former name. it is not a common thing, but it has been used on rare occasions, though never on an apprentice."
"The swan has no special significance per se, but Herman was gently Gifted, and seemed to have an inclination for convincing people, and could therefore be used as a sort of ambassador if he agreed, so we thought him better be given to someone more versed in those to act as the boy's parens. Not to mention that their Heartbeasts are not in synch." And before you can ask, she adds "Yes, we do take an apprentice from his parens if their outlook is opposed, or too different, as expressed by their Heartbeast. If you've done your homework, you might have heard of the case of Phillipa Light-Footed against Crintera in the Rhine Tribunal of 1200." (Make a Code of Hermes + Int roll to recall)
Regulus files the information about the boy being gentle gifted in his brain while he tries to recall if he head anything about the case. (Int 1 + CoH 3 + roll 3 = 7)
"I'm sorry, what do you mean with 'their Hearthbeasts are not in sync' "?
Regulus realizes he might be exposing himself to ridicule and further testing Nele's patience, but if there's any chance that this is important, then it's better for him to ask.
Regulus recalls there being such a case, but not the exact details. Something about Depriving of Magus' Power, but the outcome and the process didn't register fully. Maybe if he had more time in Durenmar, he could find the info.
Nele shakes her head "I hate to share too much information with Magi outside the House, but you're a Quesitor. As you, hopefully, know, there are different Humours. Each also affecting one's personallity. and they also correspond to different types of animals. When the dominant Humour is too different, we've found that it makes the teaching more difficult, so we usually transfer the apprentice to a different Magus, who will be more compatible."
At this moment, your retinue arrive.
"Please, you are free to retain any information not directly related to the investigation. Being a quaesitor is no excuse to probe on my sodales secrets. But understand that I do not know what is relevant or not, or what details are too much to ask. If I do so, it's with no ill intention. And I am bound to not divulge any information, or use it for my personal gain."
Regulus is about to keep inquiring when several people arrive.
Simon Le Blanc, the corner of his mouth still dirty with some kind of sauce, looks at Nele in a wary way. He is followed by two other soldiers. Otto is a veteran who served under Leonardus in Triamore, and as such, is fluent both in Low German and Latin. Klaus is a young social man who spends more time gossiping than practicing with his sword.
And then there is the boar... and the man.
The huge boar the size of a large pony, with long, coarse hair the color of night and eyes that shone with unusual intelligence as it observed the newcomers.
The second thing that caught the attention was the man standing next to the animal. With one hand he held a spear taller than him, while with the other he strongly and confidently caressed the creature next to him.
He looked like the embodiment of a wild warrior. With no clothing other than a fur skirt, you could see his strong body and well-defined muscles in his torso and arms. His black body hair contrasted with the paleness of his skin, in which numerous marks and scars from the past could be seen.
Dust and mud accumulated on him, and a quick movement under his only article of clothing revealed a long tail ending in a lock of dark hair.
His long, shiny hair fell messily down his back, and his long, bushy beard hid most of the features of his face, although his brown eyes alone conveyed the intensity of his character with just one look.
Onfroi, for that was his name, looked at both magis and quickly focused on the woman. He knitted his thick eyebrows when he saw the colors of her clothes, and he gripped the spear more firmly, but he said nothing.
"Aham... Nele, these are my servants, and a fellow traveller we met on the road, Onfroi. He helped us escape some trouble on the Black Forest. I can vouch for his competence and good intentions."
Regulus does not say that he used a few castings of Posing the Silent Question to ascertain if Onfrei had ill intent against his group. That is, however, as far as his mind probing has gone. Regulus turns to Onfrei:
"Once more I must thank you for your timely support."
Nele looks appraisingly at the large boar, but doesn't say anything.
"Good, now that we're all assmbled, let's get back to Crintera. I find Durenmar too stuffy for my tastes." She says this within clear hearing of the Durenmar guards, and the Redcap that stands near the portal, and will make sure you arrive at your destination.
The redcap is an older man, probably in his fifties, wearing a crimson robe, and the traditional redcap. He turns to Regulus and his retinue. "If this is your first time through the portal, it can be a bit of a shock, and some have experienced a turning of their stomachs, but it will get you to your destination much faster. Step right up to the portal, and go through it one by one."
The passage is instantaneous, but those without supernatural virtues, or lacking Hermetic Magic, feel a slight turning of their stomach. But it's instantly clear that you're not in Durenmar anymore. The Area you arrive at is a wild forest, and Nele begins to lead you confidently through it. "You might want to forgo your Parma while in Crintera. It shows respect for House Bjornaer, and our customs."
Onfroi turned to Simon, awaiting for a translation. When the young boy gave a explanation, Onfroi looked again to Regulus, his semblant was so hard to read as before, but the spark of a smile danced in his eyes.
"Thats nonsense." - he said in French with his deep voice - "Remember to him that I just offered to follow you at the road if he gave me a wineskin. After that, he was the one that offered me a place to live and work, the one that accepted me even when he discovered my curse, and the one that told me about the possibility to dispel my curse. I am the one that it's grateful, and the one that must thank him."
While Simon did his best to translate the idea to Regulus, the man noticed how the woman looked at Guiscard. He patted the boar with a strenght that would feel like a beating for a normal person, but seemingly was perfectly good for the animal.
"Hey Guiscard, now seems like everyday we meet a person that doesn't look at you with fear and hate. Maybe you will be popular soon." - Guiscard just moved his tail and grunted once - "Oh, c'mon guy. I know this is all very weird, but if you behave, I'm sure you'll be able to eat better than ever."
Simon translated the portal explanations as well as he could, while Onfroi did the same to Guiscard while the first grogs entered.
When everybody crossed the portal, Onfroi and the boar crossed and they found themselves another place. Knowing it in advance beforehand didn't make the experience less impressive. Guiscard grunted and looked around nervously, while Onfroi patted him again.
"Don't worry little guy, we are all fine." - he said even when he didn't look much less nervous - "To be perfectly honest I still don't know if this is a dream or a nightmare... but at least we are in a forest again."