Drystan looks at Eilid and Doineann. "For Doineann and I, we have lived here our entire Hermetic lives. And I honestly don't know what the 'normal' procedure is for trying to leave a covenant. What about you?"
The two magae shake their heads. "The twelve years I was gone, I was an aonaran," Eilid says. "I'm sorry."
"And as to causing harm to the Nesaig – it is somewhat powerful, and elusive. Ness is a big loch, and even with the map to aid us, I think each of us as seen it at most a dozen times over the years."
Talia offers, "A covenant charter is an outward contract representing what the magus feels in their heart. I don't personally desire to be in a covenant with anyone who is compelled to stay. Their hearts and desires are elsewhere, and the covenant is all but broken. I don't find that there should be any punishment for deciding to leave the covenant. It is, in my opinion a petty display of power. I will support the covenant as long as I'm a member. My sodales troubles will become my troubles, their triumphs mine as well. And when they or I wish to leave, we will have built something better here, for those who follow."
Focusing on the timing issue, "I find it unnecessary or unreasonable to sign the charter and become a member to initiate the change. If the change isn't made before we join, you three have no reason to accede to a change at a later time, and will have entered into a covenant with us in bad faith. You have several prospective members, and it appears we all have concerns about the language of being a member for life."
Halie, Talie, and Trimalchio notice Doineann shooting daggers at Drystan and Eilid at this, but she says nothing.
"Fair enough. I move that we strike the provision of the charter reaffirming the members' lifetime commitments and the penalties for leaving," Drystan says.
"I second," says Doineann.
"And I vote aye," Eilid says almost immediately after.
"The amendment passes." Drystan says as he reaches for the charter with one hand, and a quill and inkpot with the other. He then proceeds to strike a line through the passage in question, his tongue sticking out the corner of his mouth, and makes a notation in the margin next to it. (The notation reads "Removed by vote of council 15 June 1222.")
and I can't believe I forgot this - but there's also a clause added to the charter, to the effect that if two or more members desire use of the Common Lab, it shall go to the member with the most seniority.
((Just for clarity, I thought we were in a council meeting, or are there multiple time streams happening all at once? I've tried rereading it, and I can't seem to make a clear idea of how things are flowing.))
"So whatever happened with Faileas? He finally go off into Twilight? And I haven't seen that tasty dish of an apprentice of his, what's his name? I sure hope he doesn't have any tattoos, yet." Her gaze seems to drift off and a salacious smile appears on her lips.
Drystan, Eilid, and Doineann exchange awkward glances. "We...actually aren't sure," Eilid says. "We assume that he's dead."
"If Duncan was even half as smart as we all know he is, he'll have killed him," Doineann says. "Wouldn't want his master to show up and ruin everything, now, would he?"
"At some point, we think about three years ago, Duncan replaced Faileas," Drystan explains. "Assumed his form and his role in the covenant, pretended to be him in every way. We don't know what Duncan did with his master, but we assume that Faileas is dead. It's possible that he's gone into Twilight, possibly even Final Twilight, or that he's been secreted in a regio somewhere. Advocata Laetitia filia Iudicium was unable to find him via an Inexorable Search. Duncan, himself, appears to have embraced diabolism, and claims to have learned the Greatest Secret from Fiona...despite her having been in Normandy for over a year. Whitburh couldn't be bothered to do anything about it, since Duncan had never sworn the oath and was therefore not bound by the Code prohibiting dealing with devils."
He looks around at the newcomers. "He is also the reason the library is not as robust as it once was...when he was found out, he absconded with the library catalogue and summoned a good number of the better tomes before we could stop him."
He sighs deeply. "We would all like to get hold of Duncan, for one reason or another."
Halie is gobsmacked. "What the bloody hell?!?" she exclaims in Orcadian Norse, before picking her jaw up off the ground, and resuming in Latin. "There's a diabolist wizard running loose who knows Parma and a Quaesitor did NOTHING?!? I will notify the rest of the Magvillus Outer Council today, both of the potential threat to the Order and of Whitburh's apathy towards it," she promises.
"Well, that is unfortunate." She says a bit unconvincingly. Talia's thoughts turn to the dealings she's had with Faileas, or was it Duncan disguised as him. Had she ever seen them together? She can't seem to remember, whenever she did Duncan her mind tended to contemplate the possible delights below his clothing.
Talia regards Halie, "Have you considered that the Magvillus outer council knows, and that's why you are here?"
"Perhaps if we had told her that he was a Norman diabolist..." Drystan says with a wry smile.
"But, as she said, he is not a diabolist wizard, but a diabolist apprentice, or former apprentice since his master had apparently, for somewhat obvious reasons, neglected his obligatory season of teaching. And we have only his word that he has the Parma...he vanished immediately after that happened, and we've not seen him since."
Thinking back, she can remember seeing them both until about two, two and a half years ago. Faileas seemed obsessed with Duncan's education, and was determined to see him Gauntleted before Final Twilight took him. But since then, it's only been the one or the other. (Duncan was able to escape his master's watchful eye on occasion.)
Halie sighs, "I'm on the Outer Council, dear. Besides the Presiding Quaesitor of each Tribunal, there is one non-Guernicus Quaesitor from each of the other Houses, and I am currently the only Bjornaer Quaesitor." She shifts uncomfortably in her chair, and shakes her right wrist, where an ornate diamond bracelet jangles. "I'm a shackled beast. Whitburh is the only member who would have known, and she's certainly not going to report that she's a lackadaisical incompetent, now is she? More likely, someone on the Inner Council was aware that Loch Leglean needed rather more representation than it currently has."
Eilid looks surprised at Halie's revelation that she is the Quaesitor Bjornaeris. "What happened to Eule?" she asks, referring to Halie's predecessor.
((Halie knows that Whitburh has a Reputation within the Quaesitors as being somewhat shady...in that, while she doesn't break the Code or shelter flagrant Code-breakers, she has been known to either look the other way when her sodales skirt the code, or push for a lighter or stiffer punishment than the circumstances might warrant, depending on the political views of the magus in question. There are also rumours, allegations, what have you, that she may charge an honorarium for performing her duties...which, while not technically "illegal," is certainly frowned upon. Unethical? Quite likely. Incompetent? Not really. She knows the law and how to apply it...it's just a question of whether she chooses to apply it.))
Talia snorts, "Do you now? And you just said you were shackled. In all seriousness, this Duncan business colors things a bit, but I am ready to put down roots, and will do whatever I may to aid in his capture, trial and execution. Were Duncan a Tytalus, he would've been named a full magus and his Diabolical plans would continue under the cover of his protections under the code. By only some happy accident he was not."
"My skills aren't paricularly well-suited to battle, though my master and his sodalis saw fit to teach me Pilum of Fire no matter the cost. And some of my sailors are skilled with weapons."
Halie glances sharply at Talia. "Then perhaps you should leave such business to those of us suited for it, and opine where you're qualified to do so."
She turns to Eilid. "Eule has... retired from duty. She has not taken human shape for over a decade, so... It is likely that she succumbed to Final Twilight some time ago." She bows her head in the universal sign of mourning.
Trimalchio decides to speak, in order to try and shift the topic of conversation.
"It is a shame that this diabolism business will cause problems that it will fall to us to clear, for the sake of this covenant's honour. Nevertheless, between us we have a range of skills that one diabolist and his cohorts will be hard-pushed to match. I am sure that dealing with Duncan is within our capabilities, it is the tracking down the miscreant that will require our quaesitorial sodalis' special skills.
I wish to know how our relations are with other covenants, and if there are any non-hermetic magi nearby? As a keen pralixian, I would love to meet those of interesting practices. I also wish to know if we are on cordial terms with the MacGruagachan."
"Very well, I'll remove myself from this business and leave the matter entirely in your capable hands. I'm gratified to know we have such a gifted Quaesitor among us, well skilled in combat Arts and Intellego." Talia smiles with aplomb.
((Talia has something of an inferiority complex. When challenged, she'll tend to disengage, but in that passive/aggressive manner that suggests something opposite of what she says.))
Eilid looks shocked at the news, and maybe a little disturbed.
Drystan thinks for a minute before answering. "I would say that we're on decent terms with most of the other covenants. We're far enough from most of them that there's not much threat of raiding. It's been about ten or fifteen years since MacGruagach has raided us, and Loch Leglean Covenant traditionally hasn't been involved in raiding, either as aggressor or victim. Fiona's been our representative at Tribunal while she was here, she seemed to take an interest in that kind of thing. She tried to raid Mhor Rath once or twice, quite a few years ago, but that was a waste of time."
He thinks some more. "Most of the covenants are well to the south of us. There's a few aonaranan scattered around the Highlands, though.
"I honestly couldn't tell you if there are any hedge wizards in the area," he says with a glance at Halie. "We do, on occasion, have giants pay us a visit."