1227.2t Dinner And A Show

Fiona watches Alexei and Helmut leave, shaking her head with a slight smile.

She then turns back to her sodales. [color=blue]"So, it seems that we have similar opinions on Guernicus's perceived role in Hermetic society, and on what could be described as an epidemic of peripheral code rulings. I agree that the Oath that we all swore is, and should be, the alpha and omega of Hermetic law. I can also that some Peripheral rulings designed to protect us, to prevent those who would from impairing our magical power, are necessary. I could also make an argument that the vast majority of peripheral rulings are rather less than necessary, intended (whether the Quaesitores who wrote them would agree or not) to keep Guernicus in their rightful place as the sole arbiters of what is right and wrong."

She takes a measured sip of wine. [color=blue]"I am not saying that I agree with anything that I have just said. I'm merely saying that I can understand those points."

Stultus bids Alexei a polite good night, looking amused, and watches him leave, murmuring something along the lines of "In Vino Veritas". Despite the seeming amusement, his mind is racing furiously. That line about Guernicus obscuring their crimes and eluding justice explains oh, so very much, and facts and suppositions and half-heard scraps of conversation start dropping into place. The resultant structure isn't even a structure as such -- it's a thin spiderweb with far more holes than material -- but at least it's beginning to acquire a logical shape.

"That's an interesting statement, Fiona..." He turns his attention to Ex Miscellanea as she speaks. "Now, since Korvin has given me carte blanche to ask questions -- without, I note, the corresponding carte blanche to obtain answers, which makes him a very smart man -- perhaps we should start with you. DO you agree with anything that you have just said? Or do you perhaps merely understand it, and yourself have a divergent view?"

Fiona takes an extraordinarily long time enjoying her wine, swirling the goblet, enjoying the aroma, sipping the wine slowly, to the point where Stultus probably starts to wonder if she's ever going to answer the question.

[color=blue]"I no longer trust House Guernicus as I once did," she finally says. [color=blue]"That's not to say that there are no trustworthy magi Guernicus. I know Guernicus that I trust implicitly, and those who are still in the Order no doubt through rather nefarious means.

[color=blue]"The Code is the Code. Every magus, from the Hebrides to wherever's on the back end of Novgorod, should be subject to the same Code. But they're not. We all swear the same Oath, but after that, what we are allowed, what is considered (for example) depriving a member of his magical power, can vary widely from one place to another. For example. If I were to capture you and hold you for ransom, would that be considered deprivation of power?"

"That would depend," smirks Stultus, "on what compensation I received while I was languishing in durance vile. For some people that's a fun date, or a normal Wednesday night. But yes, most reasonable magi would consider that a deprivation of magical power. Whether that could be successfully prosecuted as such would, of course, depend on the Tribunal, the presiding Quaesitor, the political climate, the prevailing opinion of the two covenants in question, the prevailing opinion of me as a magus and you as a maga, the phase of the moon, the state of the presiding Quaesitor's hemorrhoids, and possibly other factors."

And if she were caught...

[color=blue]"And yet, in Loch Leglean, that is not only perfectly acceptable, but is written into the Peripheral Code. I feel that the Code should not be so arbitrary based on where your sanctum is, but should apply evenly across the Order. If only Guernicus truly understands what rules apply where and how, that makes them indispensable."

"And if she were caught, and it was successfully prosecuted, punishment -- if any -- is even more dependent on the factors I just listed." Stultus peers at Korvin intently. "I witnessed the Normandy concept of Quaesitorial justice first hand, several times. Most recently at the Tribunal." His attention switches to Marcus for a moment, and he gives the crippled Tytalus an enormous grin. "As an aside, my hat is off to you, that was truly magnificent."

"I take it, however, that this example Fiona chose was not a hypothetical plucked out of thin air. If you would like to share the details, I'm all ears."

[color=blue]"Not a particular case, but in Loch Leglean we have the Pact of Crun Clach. Similar to Normandy's peripheral code, in some regards, in that it codifies the rules regarding raiding other covenants, among other things. Explicitly says that if you do raid another covenant's resources, you do so of your own will, and if you don't identify yourself as a magus in so doing, you have no protection under the Code. That you won't use magic against the warriors of another covenant. And that, if you're captured in battle, you recognize the right of your captors to demand ransom from your covenant, and they will release you once they're received the ransom."

Fiona shrugs. [color=blue]"Raids are a way of life in Loch Leglean, especially in the lowlands where there are more covenants. I've not been kidnapped myself, I haven't raided in thirty years, but there are always people at Tribunal accusing others of not adhering to the Pact. And the Quaesitor is known to be somewhat less than impartial."

(( Agh. The player knows quite a lot about this -- there's a Flambeau character sitting on his hard drive with the file name being "border_reiver.chr". Now to figure out how much the character would know... ))

The question is not the law nor the rulings but one that Stultus put forth earlier. Who watches the watchman?

[color=blue]"I fear no one," Fiona says.

[color=blue]"I believe that every house has a Quaesitor on the Inner Council...but who decides who sits on the Inner Council? If it's the Inner Council, then would they not simply select those who they have either groomed or know are pliant, rather than one who would give any kind of oversight or reign in their excesses. It's an ouroboros."

Stultus raises fuzzy eyebrows at Fiona, looking astonished. Looking far too astonished -- he's overacting again.

"Why, sodalis, I'm surprised at you. Whitburh Firthowebba is known far and wide as the most conscientious Quaesitor in Loch Leglean." (Technically true. She is the ONLY Quaesitor in Loch Leglean.) "The only things she puts above the Order's welfare are the truly important decisions -- what to wear that day, say, or what to have for lunch. To call her biased or partial is as base and vile a slander as calling me short and ugly."

He picks a wooden skewer up from a bowl at the table, and leans forward to skewer a piece of cheese on it, looking at Korvin. "As for my question to you, sodalis... let me tell you what I know, first." He gestures with the skewer as he talks.

"There was a lot of obvious tension between Mons Electi and the Guernicus at the Tribunal. Most obviously during the court case, but in other places as well. I was also witness to a conversation between Bilera of Guernicus and Tranquillina here that was..." He pauses, picking out his words. "... somewhere between a delivery of not-so-veiled threats and a declaration of open war. As an aside, Tranquillina..." -- careful now, don't step on her toes -- "I'd like to dissect that conversation with you at some point -- I think she gave away more than she meant to. Let's make sure we both heard the same thing."

"I wasn't certain whether any of the rest of you -- aside from Marcus and Tranquillina -- were involved, so I floated that line about 'troubles starting with G'. And... none of you so much as looked surprised, let alone blink innocently and ask me what I meant. You all obviously knew exactly what I was talking about, even though I didn't. So the obvious conclusion is either that you have troubles starting with 'G' I don't know about -- ghouls? ghosts? galloping gourmands? gigantic goat giblets? -- or you're all enmeshed in this Guernicus issue up to your necks. Given the gist of the conversation since then, I'm betting it's the second."

"Now, the thing I can see is that they are constrained somehow. They cannot for some reason act against you directly. So to answer your earlier question, Tranquillina -- the methods they choose may or may not be unlawful, but they will certainly be underhanded. Bitchle... er, I mean, Bilera promised as much. The most obvious answer as to why they are so constrained, backed by Alexei's parting words, is that you have something on them. You know something they would much rather you didn't. Please note, I am not asking what it is."

"So, Korvin, my question to you is -- are my surmises off the mark? If so, by how much? And, is there anything you feel I need to know in order to most effectively assist the covenant in dealing with it?"

He finally brings the skewer to his mouth and bites down on it. Unfortunately, his teeth close on and splinter the empty skewer, because while he was pontificating and gesticulating Rahere stole the cheese.

((Every House has a Quaesitor on the Outer Council. Inner Council is only Guernicus ))

Were I judging an archery contest I would say that you have hit the butt[1] but in your excitement have misjudged the wind and missed the center mark. We must tread carefully because we have attracted the ire of Guernicus. Not so much as what we have done as what we know. When I say Guernicus I mean the House, not the Quaesitors. Remember that even though they are connected they are two different things.

Would Guernicus like us to disappear? Yes. Are we at war with them? Only as much as the thorn in the paw of the Lion is at war. So if you are thinking of pushing the Code to see what they would do, I would ask you to try another Covenant. If not, I think a man of your talents would be useful in some of my long goals.

[1]in this case referring to an archery target.

((I'm fine with her misunderstanding the inner workings of Guernicus. I couldn't remember if it was inner or outer but thought it was inner, and didn't feel like looking it up. shrug Can't always be perfect, now, can she? :smiley: ))

[color=blue]"Not yet he hasn't," Fiona mutters with a bawdy grin, but nods at the rest of Korvin's summation.

"Some of your long goals, or the covenant's?"

Stultus considers. "I have precisely zero interest in tweaking Guernicus' nose just to tweak Guernicus' nose. If I do do so, it would be because the covenant requires it, as part of those long-term goals you mentioned. However, please understand that, in the event, I would expect to be given full knowledge. Knowing why something needs to be done would make me much more effective -- and being used as a catspaw doesn't appeal."

"Exactly," Tranquillina murmurs. She is trying to rein in her antagonism towards Stultus, after having noticed Korvin's annoyance with her. ((Per 2 + Awareness 2 + stress die 9 = 13.))

Tranquillina does remember enough about her time in Loch Leglean to smirk in amusement at this characterization. ((Int 3 + Order of Hermes Lore 1 + stress die 6 = 10.)) She quickly returns her face to (what she thinks is) a neutral bearing, lest any of their guests think that she is easily won over.

((Per 2 + Folk Ken (people's opinions of her) 4 + stress die 1 / eploder 1 / double eploder 1 / triple eploder 3 = 30. WHUT?! No qcipher roll, but still :wink:
Ok, I'm going to make some presumptions about Stultus's motivations, hopefully accurately based on what we've discussed before. Feel free to correct me.))

Somewhere during Stultus's perail-waving speech, a fog lifted from Tranquillina's judgment, and she almost gaped as a sudden wave of understanding washed over her. The jester-mage's brashness and exaggerated claims of proficiency, alternating with his irreverance and self-deprecation - he is trying to project an air of confidence, while at the same time ... in some ways, she intuits, these are just defense mechanisms. Stultus is nervous! she realizes in amazement. About whether we will accept him here. And she knows well that both these attitudes are completely natural for anyone being interviewed in an important situation. Ascribing normal human motivations to Stultus is something of a first for her, impelling her to listen with great care to his words once he says her name. She sees his eyes flicker away as he pauses - but they flicker upwards, not downwards - he is searching for the right words, yes, but, out of caution rather than deception. She can tell, she knows, that it is extremely important to Stultus that he project an air of desire to help and collaborate with her (that part's not unexpected); but he is doing so because he truly does want to help, and collaborate with her. This torrent of acuity is overwhelming, and Tranquillina takes a dazed step towards the wall, not hearing the next couple of sentences.

(( Essentially correct on all points. Some of his confidence is real -- he is confident in his skills -- but very nervous about Mons Electi recognizing it. Being accepted -- not just accepted into the covenant, but accepted period -- is much more of a big deal for him than it would be for other magi.))

There are two Houses in the Order that serve the Order. Guernicus and Mercere. Rose shifts a bit as if to speak but remains silent. I seek to strengthen Mercere and others while weakening Guernicus. Like Guernicus, I feel I must think of long goals. Something that will bury the thorn deeper. Perhaps upset the humors. If a Covenant had goals like that it would reflect badly on everyone in it rather than the rouge magus who just happen to be a part of it.

"Interesting." Stultus can see the glaring flaw in that reasoning, but now is not the time to mention it. "That's pretty much all the questions I had at this point."