1221.4a Comes the Quaesitor

((OOC: Man you guys threw up a lot of posts. Hasn't been that long since I checked after getting from work. :stuck_out_tongue: <teasing, btw>)

Jormungand comes bustling in soon after Fiona with a very light cotton robe barely hanging onto one of his shoulders and slipping off the other.

"So sorry for the delay, was determining if plans for a bathhouse in the caverns be even feasible when Ah got the message about Fieltarn's duties currently occupying him. Then the damnable cavern space shifted on meh as Ah threw on some clothing and be trying to make mah way back here. Ah hope mah absence has not been taken amiss." He nods amiably at Alexei and Fiona, and then turns to Laetitia. "Ah don't believe we've met yet, belle Maga, I am Jormungand ex Miscellanea, Vor Si'r, and Ah hope we can make your visit, business or pleasure, be enjoyable." He immediately leans in for a faire la bise, but as soon as she finishes with the customary two he chuckles and quips, "Non, non, chez nous, c'est quatre!" and leans back to finish the customary "four".

As he begins talking, he seems to absentmindedly gets up and immediately properly refills Laetitia's cup. "Hmm, yes, charges of plundering being absent, Ah would be curious what you think the reason is. In reviewing previous Council decisions, declaring seisin was a Council decision, and Ah would need significant input from the parties present at that decision--"his gaze quickly flits to Alexei and Fiona, though Fiona's gaze is perhaps a bit warmer, and also refills their wine glasses--"or outside stimuli, perchance Proctor's imminent plans, as you implied, to invoke Princep duties and unilterally reverse it." Realizing he's holding an empty wine bottle and a full glass, he puts down the depleted container and checks to verify the cooling condition of the second bottle Reynault already had chilling while he takes a casual sip, making every effort to glide around the room and casually glancing to see if Laetita notices. He'll purposefully smirk and raise an eyebrow if she catches him checking for her reaction.

((OOC: also, Int 2 + Code of Hermes 3 + Parthean Code 1 + (invisible castle is still down, blargh... Jonathon, can you make the roll?) = ... ,but no Intrigue, I do not have the Lion and the Lily yet, what's the difference between seisins and tropaeas, and what's the difference between formal declaration to a Quaesitore and having the vis sources registered with the Mercare?))

The advocate colours somewhat. "You will either think me paranoid, or else believe my entire House mad," she prefaces.

"Proctor tasked me to validate your seisin claim. But he also asked that I suss out where your covenant stands on the Lotharingian issue. He asked, which means he doesn't know, which means he suspects you are potential political enemies," Laetitia explains. "He lives in constant fear that Florum and friends will abscond with all Normandy's vis, which would make him the biggest fish in a volumetrically reduced peat bog of a pond.

"I don't care whether you plan to leave the Tribunal or not; that's none of my business. I expect it is the simple fact that you have left your sources unregistered that he suspects you to be among Florum's allies-- that you intend register them with Lotharingia, to help legitimize the new Tribunal. Anyway. I suspect that Proctor intends to place a puppet covenant nearby, to register all sources here as seisin, such that when Mons Electi makes its egress, you can't take your vis with you. With a recent date on seisin inspection consisting of only one undercounted source, he would be able to argue to the Grand Tribunal that Mons Electi had no existing claim to any of your other vis sources, and thus that Lotharingia has no claim to them."

Fiona furrows her brow. [color=blue]"I was under the impression that we had registered all of our vis sources with House Mercere, but only publicly declared our seisin. Is it possible that Mercere has somehow...accidentally misplaced our records, or did our registration somehow not make it to the Mercere house?"

As Laetitia finishes her latest glass of wine, Fiona asks [color=blue]"Would you care for something with a little more...oomph to it?" Without waiting for an answer, she reaches for her flask and Laetitia's glass and pours a couple of (Fiona-sized) fingers of a pale amber liquid into it. [color=blue]"Here, have some uisge beatha," she says, then takes a sip from her flask before stoppering it again and putting it back on her belt. (ooc - it's Fiona's home-brew whisky)

Fiona looks like she's about to say something but changes her mind, and simply mouths the word "Later" to the Vor Si'r.

Fiona looks around at her sodales but says nothing, yet. Whether Mons Electi has plans to leave for Lotharingia, or even have entertained the notion yet, doesn't strike her as being Proctor's business, but she will see what her sodales decide to divulge, or not, first.

(Jonathan, can you clarify?)

The little maga takes a sip and her face goes entirely blank. "Delightful," notes she, in a strangled voice, even as her face turns red from the effort of suppressing the urge to cough and gasp. Once she recovers, she adds, "But too fine for consumption on an occasion without cause to celebrate."

She sticks to water for the rest of the evening :slight_smile:

It's difficult to gauge what Alexei thinks once the situation is laid bare. It's obvious he's contemplating it, and then whenever it seems he's about to speak someone else enters the room and begins speaking. He fills people's cups with wine along with his own and shakes his head with an expression of distaste.

"This talk is so...unmanly!" he finally states. "I know for a fact we registered our vis sources with the Mercere but declared few or maybe just the one. I despise this chicanery, the peripheral code, what little I know of it, seems to just set us all against each other. But I tell you this, if anyone thinks they can abscond our vis sources by throwing a covenant down on our borders..." he pauses and takes a moment to calm down especially considering there is a Quaesitor present.

"Well, I'll simply drive them off. What's ours is ours, I will not have it plundered through these maneuvers. We had a covenant try something similar recently out of ignorance or some other such nonsense. That won't happen again."

Yes. The post below I put in the OCC thread details some of the legal distinctions within the Normandy Peripheral Code.

This post below refers to the conversation that took place in the First Council. All the vis sources are registered with House Mercere, as I recall only the Fair was registered as a seisin.

And then Alexei kinda made the whole thing a big huge honking deal here: https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/catnip-garlic/129/1

The discussion was about registering vis sources with the Tribunal, not House Mercere, and there is a distinction, one that I thought was understood by the conversation that followed in the First Council thread. House Mercere are like the Swiss banks, they'll keep your secrets and aren't beholden to any particular Tribunal. Continuation of any OCC discussion along these lines should take place in the OCC thread.

Laetitia shakes her head. "The Mercere will register your vis in their own internal records, but registering it with the Tribunal is another matter entirely. A simple misunderstanding, as most Tribunals do not take such a public interest in vis source allocation. Really, only Normandy and Stonehenge are so draconian about it-- likely a Schism War legacy."

"The law exists precisely to prevent us all from setting ourselves against each other. The issue is not the law, but how those with extensive knowledge of the law can twist it to their own ends, at the expense of those less knowledgable. Praemonitus praemunitus. I would be glad to aid as I can. I have had quite enough of Confluensis and its scheming."

Laetitia coughs politely. "Such ill-advised actions would give Proctor more than enough rope to hang you with. By law, you are the plunderer, stealing from the Tribunal's resources. I am not saying I agree with it-- I am simply informing you where you stand, under rule of law.

"Proctor ultimately doesn't care who owns the vis sources, I believe. He cares that they remain under Normandy's jurisdiction. He wants to be able to contend for those sources, legally and above the table, should you forsake Normandy for Lotharingia. While I agree that such scheming is unseemly, that is not to say that his methods are untoward. We test our opponents within the bounds of the Law, else we are no better than common street thugs. If you would maintain your good reputation, and not stain the honour of your House and your order, you will "drive off" your opponents with the quill, not the sword."

She seems abashed, as if only now realizing how preachy and opinionated she sounds. Her cheeks colour, and she retreats to another glass of wine.

(Someone's getting tipsy...)

Alexei seems frustrated but listens well to the Quaesitor's words. "I understand what you say regarding the code. Perhaps the code is simple enough...it takes manipulative scheming minds, or even a Tribunal of them, to turn a shield into a sword. You heard how it was determined to not be against the law to starve a Covenant haven't you?"

He sips another drink of wine through pursed lips. "Territory is territory. Poaching is poaching. I shall defend our resources with vehemence and am confident I shall be requited." he says as he clenches his fist and then looks around and then finally sighs. "But first...I shall acquiesce to what the Covenant desires in how we handle this. And I thank ye, gratefully, Quaesitor for warning us on what will likely be a trying course of action."

"You would not be requited. Remember, it is not poaching for another to take the vis you've not registered, because you've made no official claim. Just as forfeit immunity does not apply if you slay a magus who enters your home which you've neglected to mark as your sanctum. The vis in question-- she is your mistress. If you wish to defend your exclusive rights to her, well sir, you must put a ring on it, before a bolder man does.

Regardless, I am glad to give what counsel I may. I hope that I can help mitigate what manipulation Proctor would wreak.. My purpose is to counsel my sodales in the ways of Hermetic Law, that they may work within it rather than without... I can't express how irksome it is to see a mediocre scholar doing a subpar job of advocation here, as his superiors are reduced to-- bookkeeping!" Her cheeks flush with anger.

Fiona leans over and quietly whispers in Laetitia's ear, [color=blue]"If you're not feeling well in the morning, come see me. I can fix you up in a heartbeat."

[color=blue]"It seems, then," Fiona says, [color=blue]"that the best option facing us is to quietly register our vis sources with the Tribunal, effective as of the time that we registered them with the Mercere. Is that at all possible, or will we have to settle for having them registered as of today?"

(I am guessing on the technicalities here; JL feel free to edit my post if you want things to work elsewise.)

"I won't backdate any paperwork, that would be unethical. I can, however, file the claims immediately. The registration isn't official until the papers are signed by an active Quaesitor, filed at Confluensis, and validated.

"I can draw up the paperwork tonight and start validating the seisins tomorrow morning. Do I presume correctly that your unregistered sources are all within seisin range? I mean-- do any of your claims require a particularly skilled runner?"

Alexei holds up a hand. "Wait...and don't get me wrong, I believe this is the best course of action, but do we need to vote on this? I can't believe I'm the one saying this, as I favor swift and decisive action, but I don't wish to contravene our Charter or assume the will of our covenmates. I am in favor of this course, to swiftly register our sources." he says resolutely and thumps his staff on the stone floor.

"And then..." he adds "Let them try and steal our vis..!"

"I estimate the likelihood of that to be nearly zero, Alexei. Reynault told me we had a visitor, I asked him to show Marcus to spartan quarters, but then he told me it was a Quaesitor. A lovely Quaesitor, at that. I'm Apollodorus, and whatever Proctor told you about me is likely true, at least as far as he sees it." Apollodorus extends his hand in the manner that a gentleman extends his hand to a lovely lady when he wishes to kiss her hand.
Apollodorus comes in dressed in what appears to be travelling clothes, his dark hair and eyes seem to be searching Laetitia's face for something... After a bit, his demeanor seems to relax.
"The vis sources search is a red herring. We may end up paying a small fine. I would absolutely love to return some of the Intellego vis Alexei absconded with at the Tribunal," as he mentions Alexei's actions at the tourney's closing ceremonies he gives Alexei a wink. He then turns back to Laetitia and asks, "Do you think Proctor would find it amusing as I would?" It is readily apparent that he doesn't expect an answer to the question, or at least knows the answer, "So, your interests are not aligned with Proctor's, but you have ties to your House that I cannot ignore. I suspect the true intent Proctor has is to confirm whatever suspicions he has about me. Would that be a safe assumption, my dear? Whatever his desires, he isn't going to like the answers one bit."

To everyone else, "Where is Fieltarn, or Jormungand? Korvin? I'd like to get everyone together so I only have to say this once. Reynault, see that the council chamber is prepared, presently, please."

With a bow appropriate for a student to an esteemed magister, Laetitia gladly proffers her hand, and then kisses Apollodorus on both cheeks. "Laetitia scholae Guernici. It is an honour."

Laetitia instantly perks up. "I can't speak for the Tribunal, but I would personally be thrilled to take as much Intellego you might have, if you would be willing to accept Creo for it, on a one-to-one basis. Shit! I would have asked for 4:5 if I were a bit more sober. And I wouldn't have sounded so bloody eager about it, either. Please do not think any less of me due to my diminished negotiative ability."

"Ties to my House?" Laetitia laughs derisively. "A great-great-great-great grandfather who excelled in Terram, but I'm not sure how that would be relevant to anyone but another Guernicus. Proctor did express some small interest in your activities and agenda-- his comments were so decidedly innocuous, it was obvious he's dying for any gossip he can scrounge-- but I am an expert of law and an advocate of the people. I am neither spy nor servant, and any who expect such shall be as disappointed in me as my dearly beloved pater. I assure you, I reside at Confluensis only because it is a roof over my head in France, and the thought of returning to Magvillus makes me s--"

"Greetings esteemed magus!" interjects the owl, who is decidedly not sleeping, despite having had his beak tucked behind one wing for most of the evening. "It is such a pleasure to meet you. I am Glaukopis, formerly of Powys, more recently of Magvillus. We have heard so much about you, and I only hope you can forgive my friend here for having partaken of perhaps a bit more wine than is strictly necessary. Tell me sir, are the rumours true? Are you indeed Merinita the Founder wearing a male disguise?"

Seemingly oblivious to her familiar's humour, Laetitia continues, "...You can't be fined for plundering unless it can be proven that you harvested from sources before they were declared seisin. Which isn't going to happen, unless you were planning to invite me for a picnic and deliberately pluck vis from the air while I feast on brandied pears. --Do you really think Proctor contrived to send me here just to spy on you? I don't doubt he wants intel, but I would not underestimate his grasping for power, it's like an old woman clinging to a lover thirty years her junior. Err... not that I know what that's like, umm, personally. Because I'm very young, obviously. I haven't even had a longevity ritual yet. So. Obviously I was just... speculating."

"It is a suggestion, typical fines are 1/4 of the total yield of the undeclared seisin, after it is vetted as a legitimate seisin. That would be about half the prize Alexei claimed. What is to be offered is a covenant decision, and since Alexei is primarily responsible for our high placement at the Tournament, and claimed that prize, I am inclined that we leave it to him to determine how it is allocated, until we distribute the vis to the members at our spring council meeting. Before we continue, let us move this discussion to the council chambers." Turning to Reynault, "See to it that you ask any magi on the grounds to join us there."

Before leaving the council chamber he addresses the familiar, inclining his head,"Greetings esteemed Glaukopis. I will ask you kindly to refrain from enjoying any of the kittens you see about the covenant. They are the offspring of my familiar and he would be most put out with you. As to your friend's over-indulgence, I'm not so easily fooled, she is likely tipsy because she chooses to be. It is her right, and I don't begrude that. And as to your last question, no I'm not Merinita, my past is much more interesting than that."
Apollodorus invites everyone to leave the sitting room and make their way from the manor side to the castle side and to the council chambers, Apollodorus ushers everyone into the council chamber.

Continuing after everyone has assembled, "My dear, the pull of family is not insignificant. If Proctor seemed to express a small interest in me you should realize that I am actually the primary objective. Proctor and I have engaged each other indirectly, over the years. It would seem that he has decided to chane the rules of engagement with regards to me. That will mean his actions will begin to affect my sodales. [OOC: everyone except Fieltarn should consider themselves present, if they wish to attend this impromptu council meeting. If necessary, Jormungand can call the meeting to order and it can be treated as a full, if unscheduled, council meeting."

"The fine is small. I may decide to harvest a vis source in front of you, just so we can pay a fine. You are correct about his lust for power. I am convinced he's privvy to some inner secrets of your House. It's why he can choose which members of House Guernicus can come to Normandy. Although, I don't think he chose you, I think you are a wrinkle in his plan. And you're wrong, Proctor contrived to send you here precisely for you to spy on me. The vis excuse was just to get your foot in the door. The issue before us, is determining where your loyalties truly lie."

"With this many present already Ah think it be remiss of me to assert a Princeps decision," Jormungand states, eyes twinkling, "especially since Ah didn't want to in the first place, though accepted the necessity if it happened." He does a quick, very slight bow to Apollodorus. "Ah promise Ah'm not shirking the duty, but will happily call this Council to Order to address the concern and political ramification our sodale the lovely Maga Laetitia has presented before us. Maga Laetitia, please join us as a Guest in our deliberations."

With a quick grin, he looks at several rosy cheeks and adds while refilling his glass, "More wine or other additions, anyone? Some fruit juices do amazingly well, when properly stored."

Alexei frowns at Apollodorus and the mention of the Intelligo vis, then addresses those present. "It's true, I won a large amount of Intelligo vis at the Tribunal for my victory in the joust. I felt it was my right, but I had too much victory wine, I didn't realize it was such a large portion of the purse for our covenant's victory. I wanted the vis for a project I'm starting, but truly don't need as much." he gives a somewhat mocking somewhat serious glare to Apollodorus. "However, my plan was to give some of the excess back to the covenant as a gift come the next Yule. But...Creo might be more to our advantage. If you'd like to trade m'lady I shall see what I need for my projects and what will remain."

((I'm embarassed to say I've completely lost track of the time on this. Alexei may have already finished his projects, the Intelligo was to add some effects to his Talisman. He was starting that in 1221.))

After they have moved to the council chamber, Laetitia will respond to this. "You won't be fined as there is no official plundering investigation. Should you choose to take this opportunity to register sources your energetic young colleagues have recently discovered, it shall be done, but no more.

"Proctor had been warned of my disposition shortly after my arrival. It should arouse no small amount of suspicion should be find me any less than what Father described."

The owl blinks thoughtfully, and chooses to reply to Apollodorus in whatever his native tongue is (in the hopes that it is neither Latin nor Welsh). "Carnivores are not pleasing to the palate. And my friend here chooses to overindulge, rather because she has a greater opinion of her own limitations than prudence would demand."

"I suspected it, but have no intention of reporting anything to Proctor which does not fall under my official assignment, which is to validate Mons Electi's seisins. It is not meet to abuse the trust the Order places in our House in the furtherance of one's personal objectives. If you were the subject of an official investigation, I would bend all my talents toward uncovering the truth. As you are not, I will not devalue my office nor undermine the faith my sodales place in the Guernicus name, by stooping to petty espionage."

A shadow crosses Laetitia's face for just the briefest of moments. (Please roll for me, as Laetitia tries to hide her discomfort at those words. Com 3, Intrigue 3.)

"You are correct that my assignment was not Proctor's choice. When I requested... reassignment, my mentor, Moebius, arranged to place me here. Of the three Tribunals which were requesting aid, Normandy offered the least amount of actual case work. More importantly, he knew that it should be much easier for me to replace the advocate here, than in the Alps or Iberia. Cavillor means well, but he couldn't convince the ocean to stay wet. Moe likely expects that I shall never return to Magvillus except as when duty requires it.

"But for what it's worth, I do not believe Proctor to be... particularly privileged... among Guernici. His Gift is not suited to it."

Laetitia is unperturbed by the assertion that Proctor intends to use her as a catspaw-- she accepts that those who hunger for power will attempt to use others, and doesn't find it particularly surprising or upsetting that the biggest blusteriest windbag in Normandy thinks she'll be his pawn.

She does, however, have trouble answering Apollodorus' last statement, and her brow furrows in thought. "My loyalties?" she asks thoughtfully. "If you asked me a year ago, I'd not have hesitated to answer, Veritas, Iustitia, Lex Hermeticum, Glaukopis, Aequitas, Guernicus. In that order. Today?" she sighs. "I wish I knew."

Korvin enters in his lab work clothes.

"I got some message that Apollodorus wanted to speak with us about a Quaesitor's vis..." He stops when he sees everyone and straightens his clothes. "Well, we need our messengers to be more clear." He bows to Laetitia. "Korvin ex Mercere at your service. I assume that you are Laetitia filia Iudicium scholae Guernici, Advocata ab Magvillus. " He looks around. "Where is Fieltarn? I sent him a message about your arrival. "

Apollodorus nods in agreement about her assessment of Cavillor, adding a slight qualification."Cavillor is young, and while he has a strong grasp of the Code and the Peripheral Code, he lacks the ability to express it. He could use some mentoring from someone better able to express herself, perhaps."

"How very unexpected." He stares intently at Laetitia as if trying to find something. "Or perhaps it's your Fae heritage clouding my perceptions."

"In any event, I asked for this council, and since Fieltarn seems to be indisposed, I wish to thank Jormungand for calling it to order. Laetitia's presence here is a harbinger of things to come for us, Proctor wants to know more about me, more about my past. Some of you know that I was gauntleted in House Tremere, and for those of you who don't, now you do. Tremere rarely leave the House, and that has roused Proctor's interest. For nearly 30 years, I maintained a low profile in Autun, and so he rarely bothered me. I amassed a huge mundane fortune and began making plans to share the largesse with others, so I could pursue my interests in art, literature and culture. I'm sure that he's suspicious of how that was done, whether I interferred with mundanes, or what. I'm sure that the Church's and the Duke's lack of interest in us are also warning signs, but those have come about as favors given to a shrewd business man. Our entirely mundane income source also pumps the economy of the duchy, indirectly enriching the Duke, and generating tithes for the Church. We are the golden goose to them, but this would be the case for any normal business man." Apollodorus pauses, and drinks from a glass.

"So, be prepared for spies. Spies will be here to gather information about our dealings, with the ultimate goal of uncovering my past. Korvin, forgive me, but Redcaps sell information they acquire. Some drop innocuous tidbits here and there, and some actively mine information. Be cautious in all your dealings. My past isn't shameful, dishonest or anything sordid or scandalous, but it is mine. My reasons for leaving Tremere are my own, and those within the House know those reasons. Those within House Jerbiton who need to know, know as well. In time, I may share elements of my past with you, but that time isn't now.

"And if Proctor or any Quaesitor contacts you directly, be friendly, be honest and be concise. Yes or no to questions, as if it's an interrogation. If you're asked to elucidate, do so as concisely as possible. Laetitia, do you have any further reccommendations?

After Laetitia makes her comments, "I'll answer what questions I can. Some I may defer to a later time."