[Actual Play] Ruins of Andresina

[center][u]1228-1229: Cockfights, Cabbages, & Consortings[/u][/center]

During the Grand Tribunal, essentially everyone is out in Durenmar except for Sanagos and the familiars. Miruna is in a secluded area trying to help the growth of budding love between two villagers, while Owlowiscious is elsewhere, hunting field mice. They're both approached (not simultaneously) by the same short man with long furry ears, speaking in soothing rhymes. Owlowiscious gets a strong premonition of struggling in a sack and talons gouging his throat, so he attempts to paralyze him with his stare, only for the man shrug it off and stuff the owl into his bag. Miruna attempts to shoo him away, saying to leave the couple alone, to which he agrees and stuffs Miruna into his bag.

When the come to, it's dawn and they're in metal cages in a hollowed dirt mound. In addition, their wing feathers have been clipped. With a spring in his step, the furry-eared man skips over to pick up the two cages to bring out to a ruined stone circle (might have been an old tower's foundations) with a large-ish wooden cage. There's a gaggle of other goblin-like people gathered 'round, cheering at the arrival of the fur-eared man and his two 'contestants'. Shoving Owlowiscious into the larger cage, he announces round one has begun with Dökkál the Black Cock as the current fan-favorite. The fight goes on for a while until a combined botch for the owl and crit for the rooster results in an incapacitating wound (using a Confidence point to only have it be that).

"Nuts, and I bet £20 on him too..."

Owlowiscious is saved at the last second from the killing blow by the fur-eared man, who is then given the pretense of bandages to stabilize him. Miruna is then shoved into the ring, who as soon as the fight starts, promptly hulks out of the cage by turning into a human with +2 Strength. Not wanting to fight the rooster, who actually has quite the quickness advantage over her human form, she jumps out of the cage to grab Owlowiscious and runs off into the woods. The fae don't consider the fight over, so they goad Dökkál to pursue her and follow to watch the outcome. Eventually, she reaches Rosid and claims grievance against the fowl fighter. Just as Dökkál reaches the copse, he's entwined by Rosid's vines and the fae stay to defend him. Ultimately, the Linden Copse rules in favor of Miruna & Owlowiscious and sentences the cock-fighter to the stocks...soup stocks. Fortunately, the Black Cloaks have arrived by this point, who began the search that morning when Miruna was reported bird-napped. Sanagos provides a healing circle for the owl to rest in for what will be the next three seasons.

Scolarus offers a season of his assistance in the lab in exchange for Lady Vivienne to go forth and deal with the fae who forcibly enlisted his familiar into a fight.

Later, Karl begins the work on opening up the Cabbage Wand for the Tremere Primus as promised for their assistance in pushing the Silver Consensus to be an individual Tribunal matter. In Spring of '29, he beseeches Scolarus to assist him for one season, offering two seasons worth of magic items at a later point. After the owl recovers, the three work together for one season and Karl experiments on top all of this. In the end, Karl will spend 1 season opening the wand and five seasons enchanting it, addled the entire time; earning one aging point and 5 Warp. His plan is to deliver the wand in person by carpet, which he made back in '27.

In Spring of '29, shortly after the Council Meeting, the covenant comes to the conclusion that they need to deal with the infernal presence in Neufchâteau. Lucky lore checks result in Alfonso knowing of the Mulhidun, and offers to head out to purchase the true name of Olrox by the infernal scholars. While in Harco, researching the Redcap maps to plan a viable route via eagle, she is given a contingent letter by the librarian. A magus wishes to speak with her at Braunschweig Cathedral this coming Sunday, during services, for important matters. Asking around, the most Alfonso is able to discern was that it was a member of the Order not of House Mercere, and that the letter was to whomever referred to the maps she was looking at. There's some sleuthing, and long story short, it ends up with her spying on a business transaction between two men in a carriage; and one of them doesn't have a head.

"Family fights over head puns get pretty intense."

Noting that the headless man was holding a pet salamander, she searched the carriage, taking a wood shaving from what seems to obviously be the salamander's cage. Then, she goes to the Cathedral, eventually getting the stink eye from a lower-class man with a magnificent beard. As the man is in a relatively private area, Alfonso approaches, and is met with a cough and Hermetic gestures. After passing through a couple layers of debate, the stranger reveals himself to be Aladavan Venatore fili Rudophus of Bonisagus, the sender of the message and very curious as to why someone was seeking out the Mulhidun. Alfonso gives the reason, Olrox's true name to purge the neighboring castle of evil. Aladavan refuses to go into the castle personally to handle, because that's just They would expect him to do, but offers to teach one of the magi (after a background check) his Venatore techniques. After meeting them in a chapel, exposed to a relic, and blasted with an extreme Demon's Eternal Oblivion; he offers to teach Joseph Miller for a year. Specifically four seasons, granting him Bind the Devil’s Hands (PeVi 30), Exorcise the Filthy Spirit at Eye Range (PeVi 25), 18xp of Infernal Lore (5 goes towards Olrox's name), the Names of Power Virtue (inflicting the Minor Flaw - Venatore; which is a reputation of 3 with Hermetics and Hell), and 45 levels worth of Names. Meanwhile, Gotvinus will invent a spell to let allies see through his illusions, so invisibility will work while keeping the group bonuses intact.

Their plan, to attack the castle on Christmas morning.

"Yippee ki yay mother-..."

[center]1229: Bloody Treatise[/center]
Shortly after Aladavan had been introduced, Alfonso relayed his discovery of the peculiar headless man. Their combined knowledge are able to glean that this was likely one of the Blemmyes, and the pet one of the dangerous Salamanders of Virtue. Curious as to what this man was doing, Gotvinus uses the piece of the salamander's as an arcane connection to spy a little bit each day until useful information is obtained. It's late spring when something finally gets revealed, the headless man speaking with someone invisible and silent (magic resistance in the 20+ range), and paid a substantial sum of silver to take out someone, along with an enchantment of some kind to keep quiet.

Easy for him to convey. Our assassin just makes people think your speech went over his head.

Occasionally keeping tabs, they realize he's spending the night at the inn in Neufchâteau about a month later. Watching like a hawk, Gotvinus leads the charge of invisible black cloaks enchant to be able to see each other with a recently invented spell of his own design.

The caged salamander is apprehended, and the headless man is knocked out without a real fight. Except of course for the poison coating his hands (he handles the salamander all the time, hence the copious soap supplies) that knock out one of the Black Cloaks with an incapacitating wound. Lady Vivienne uses a spontaneous PeAq to clean all of the poison from the sleeping headless man, then they continue to drag him and the poisoned black cloak into the covenant. When the headless man comes to, Gotvinus attempts to mind read him, only to hit an Immunity of some kind being maintained by some kind of hedge magic. Vivienne uses more spontaneous Perdo magic to dispel this immunity, and then Gotvinus properly beings to slather the headless man with Peering Into the Mortal Mind for information (uncaring of Warp). Hired by a ginger man named Boris, he was to have his salamander (to which he was naturally immune) poison the dandelions shortly before they're harvested and turned into wine for the covenant to use, and to also literally poison the well.

There's some legitimate debate on how to go about executing Prestor (headless man's name), especially since he requested his Last Rites before being executed, and the players are unsure of the theological implications of executing a man who is without sin. Ultimately, they decide that while he'll be fine in the eyes of God, he still needs to be punished on Earth after Extreme Unction; and Gotvinus borrows a sword to kill him...after 18 agonizing seconds of chopping and screaming and crying.

Why couldn't you have had a neck?!

Later, after Owlowicious has recovered fully from the cockfighting incident, Lady Vivienne brings him and his dragon with her into the woods to help look for the Man with the Furry Ears. They find his home near the ruins where the cockfight happened, and describe to him the importance in not kidnapping the sentient animals of Andresina. She also desires to expand her borders and enforce rent upon the Man with the Furry Ears, but is countered by the fact he already swears fealty to the King Beneath the Dandelions; which is a surprise to every player involved, so they arrange to meet with the King at the next dawn.

His castle is in a regio among the Mallorn Dandelions, only accessible to those coated in the morning dew of the dandelions. They go before the king, whose main hall is covered in gold with fountains of wine, the throne being a single large rose large enough for a human child to sit upon.

Call me a leprechaun and I'll cut you.

Before the King Beneath the Dandelions, they speak for a time, apologizing for presuming authority over the Man with the Furry Ears. But do with to negotiate a treaty concerning the safety of their familiars from the actions of his subjects. The King brings up the fact he already has a treaty with the Covenant of Andresina, but it doesn't include any beasts under its terms. Curious, they learn that the treaty was struck 60 years prior, at the founding of the Covenant, so long as the wand he was given bestows its gifts. He does idly comment that the magus said something about "expiry" for the want, but doesn't consider it important. The players cordially depart and check to see where their copy of the treaty is. Sanagos himself is unaware of any treaty, but he joined the covenant only two score years prior. They search Prokui's lab thoroughly for anything remotely looking like a treaty, unable to find anything; and Scolarus borrows the animated skeleton until Prokui's return.

[center][u]1230: Live Magically & Cast Hard[/u][/center]
Gotvinus, Joseph Miller, four black cloaks, William, and five of his men. This is the force that gathers for slaying Olrox and possible infernalists within the castle of Neufchâteau, Gotvinus applying invisibility and a touch range Discern Own Illusion on everyone. It's a slow process, but people are busy staying inside due to the snow and the fact it's Christmas morning, so they evade being seen. After a couple minutes of debating how to get past the door, Joseph transmutes it into an open mouth for a couple minutes, and they file through the castle as swiftly as possible. When people see something, Gotvinus puts them to sleep and they are subsequently gently placed somewhere out of the way.
At the bottom of the castle, where the kegs are stored, is the entrance to the short hallway that leads to a room that had been locked away (according to mind probes of various inhabitants). As they open the door to the hall, they are met with a stereotypical devil the size of William, billowing fire and ash that covers most of the assault team. After a short-ish fight, Joseph's DEO removes it from play (it was Might 10). Gotvinus reapplies invisibility over people to remove the visual traces of the ash, and they move forward to the reinforced and locked door to what they believe to be the infernalist's chamber. As this is a medieval basement, quarters are cramped. Miller, in bear form, takes up most of the short hallway. Gotvinus, two black cloaks, and William take up the basement, and everyone else is waiting upstairs for space to open up. Joseph Miller uses the same spontaneous spell from earlier on this door, which unfolds like a spiky mouth to Hell. It's not far off, as the room inside is about 20x20, filled with demonic signs made of animal bones of various sorts, dominated by Olrox sitting upon a throne of black fur while flanked by robed cultists, and the room is downright covered in blood.

as if someone shook up a six-foot can of… blood soda… and suddenly popped the top.

The party pours in where they can fit, in what they discover to be a rating 9 infernal aura (Joseph Miller holds back from retching). Olrox starts fighting William, who is quite well armored, but neither can reliably harm each other; while Miller starts throwing down true-name bolstered DEO, whittling down the vampire demon lord. After a round of fighting and another of only managing to burn Joseph Miller with burning spittle, Olrox starts trying to dematerialize, but the Concentration is difficult and will fail him in the end. The cultists put up very little fight, seeming to lose their bodies when killed by black cloaks' blade (Jedi-style). They are startled when one of the Black Cloak's armor is spontaneously heated to molten, dealing +12 damage to them...which he soaks for only a Light Wound. One of William's men pulls out an iron ring to shove onto the Black Cloak, who takes a second Light Wound before reciting the word to activate the fire resistance. This happens for two more warriors, one Light Wound and no damage respectively, before they activate their own consumable fire resistance rings. As Olrox is destroyed by Miller's magic, Gotvinus manages to cast a spontaneous form of InMe to allow him to 'hear' the location of minds, and notices an extra one that's invisible and trying to escape. Pointing to where he hears the mind, one of the black cloaks manages to stab the air and feel the resistance of flesh upon his blade (Heavy Wound!). They follow Gotvinus's direction to the feebly fleeing individual, and successfully create an invisible corpse.

They gather up the invisible corpse, reapply invisibility, and run like a team of adventurers out of Hell. At sundown, the infernalist's invisibility wears off, also revealing a trail of blood in the snow and thus making Gotvinus impressed with their level of skill with magic. A Whispers Through the Black Gate gives him a pile of information, this was the most skilled of a dozen infernalists for the Strigae tradition, their master dying at the hands of Malachi some years back. After getting their names and rough descriptions, Gotvinus spends the next day or two tracking each one down and rubbing a Salamander of Virtue over their sleeping face; thanks to the power of invisibility to sight, sound, and touch on both him and one black cloak guard. It's a rather blood-soaked Christmas...

Joseph Miller takes it easy for a week to recover from his Light Wound, only for it to get infected and progress to a Medium Wound. They create a healing circle for +9 recovery in the infirmary, task the apothecary and chirugeon to care for him over the next month. It progresses into a Heavy Wound. They go before Sanagos for help, as they have seen him use Incantation of the Body Made Whole, and he makes sure they provide their own vis and not the covenant's for his service. Sanagos botches and goes into Twilight, creating a second and symmetrical wound on the other side of Joseph Miller's body.

Fortunately, Sanagos was only gone until sundown and managed to comprehend his trip, gaining 6xp in Enigmatic Wisdom as well as becoming perfectly symmetrical himself. He grabs a fistful of vis from Joseph's lab, casts the spell again. As the other magi have been concerned about the aura botching, they were planning on trying to reduce the yearly modifier so they wouldn't have to roll and let the botch dice ease up to less than 9. This series of events is rather counter to their goal, and Sanagos tells Joseph he's not going to spend any time extracting vis to let off the pressure because of this. At which point he goes back to his room curtly, and we call it a session.

ADDENDUM - Future notes, the player for Lady Vivienne is no longer in the group. I'm currently assuming that shortly after whatever the PC did, she received a message and ran off to adventure with her familiar...never to return.

Howdy all -

Just an FYI. Today I received this message:

I've removed the image they reference from earlier in this thread, from a post in which a forum user had embedded a link to this image (the image itself is hosted on an external site).

What does this mean for me, going forward?

I'm not a lawyer, and don't know anything about the details of the image you linked to in that message, but Getty Images have a reputation for their tactics in trying to get money for unlicensed use of their images.

You might find these articles interesting reading:

artlawjournal.com/respond-getty- ... nd-letter/
techdirt.com/articles/20140 ... orts.shtml
isba.org/ibj/2014/11/lawpuls ... emandlette

FWIW, this is the response I sent to Getty:

Also, FWIW, here is an article about Getty's program for free noncommercial use of embedded images from the library of image rights they manage: theverge.com/2014/3/5/547520 ... ree-to-use

[center][u]1230: Human Trafficking, Exploding Cabbages, and Fairy Negotiations[/u][/center]
Karl flies out to Transylvania, specifically the Laniena covenant, to both deliver his agreed upon item to the Primus of Tremere and be physically present to bid on more Black Cloaks. It's been 9 years since the last batch was trained from childhood, and the dhampir trainer, a half-century old dwarf with a missing eye and a history of his own.

The cabbage wand's function is displayed on a recently captured practice dragon who's had its Might drained to nothing for proper display. After the creature was killed from enough exploding cabbages, Poena thanked him for his work and promised to keep him in mind for future jobs.

And so the Black Cloak auction began. Every interested party secretly submitted the number of Black Cloaks they would buy at the current price (starting at 4 pawns of vis each). If the combined totals ended up being greater than the number available to purchase, they would increase their price by one pawn, then ask for everyone to readjust the number they wished to purchase. This continued until the Black Cloaks reached 11 pawns of vis each, where Karl purchased nine of them.

After his return, they go to have another visit with the King Beneath the Dandelions, and discover another player has entered the field. A human diplomat by the name of Galchobar, bearing the branding of a brawler upon his cheek. Despite the clothing and gait of a street fighter, his eloquence is superb, and runs circles around even Alfonso in the court. He represents Jehan de Braine, the Count of Macon & Vienne, who wishes to obtain the rights to the vis produced in the dandelion field. There's some investigation on the part of Alfonso, and the diplomat's backstory checks out, the Count being a bit of a poet. Before Alfonso has a chance to speak with him as a human, he's already left on business in England for the next year. So, they just leave a passive threat with Galchobar in regards to muscling in on their vis.

The covenant considers their options over the next season, having managed a stay of decision-making. Petrichus is seen entering the faerie regio by one of the Black Cloak guards, where Alfonso keeps an eye out while spending time in the court, finding out that Karl's parens is actually performing negotiations with Galchobar rather than the King himself. There's some terse pleasantries with Petrichus after his departure from the fairy regio, along with a list of put-downs on Karl's arcane progress.

Oh, they also find out the nature of the wand, which adds to the seriousness of the matter. It was part of the original treaty, an invested item that will kill anyone the bearer has an arcane connection to as well as able to extinguish all fires within 50 paces. It's named in older texts in the King's library as The Snuffer.

After a season, Karl & Alfonso begin negotiations with the faerie lord. Galchobar offers the following for the vis, along with production and delivery to evade tolls; permission to send a child-snatcher once every five years to the Count's lands (his own children exempt), two pure-white horses every three years, and yearly poetry written in the King's honour. This leaves the magi scrambling for ideas, their initial ideas grossly out-done by Galchobar's initial offer, until Karl comes up with something. He offers to bear the King Beneath the Dandelions an heir, and for the covenant to provide the child an education. The king loves this idea and agrees to bequeath access to the dandelion vis for as long as his heir lives and he wears the crown. This contract will be signed and initiated within the season.

After Galchobar leaves in barely controlled rage, they begin negotiations for the rest of the treaty for when the original expires. After some debate, it's settled that the king will be the judge for an open competition of elegiac comedy in Andresina's amphitheatre, which will be restored and decorated in the King's honour before the first one. The competition will be every 8 years, and the prize will be sponsored by the covenant. There will also be the general consensus of non-aggression, expanded to include animals and protected guests. Finally, in exchange for fairy ingredients for the magi's labs, each lab to receive the ingredients are to leave a mouse-size portion of cheese at dawn; the collector will be given a token to permit entry, and must not be witnessed in the act of their duty. Any lab that misses a day of cheese or gazes upon the collector will lose the benefit of fairy ingredients via this method.

After the negotiations have completed, they head out to the court proper to bid Galchobar farewell, who raises his hand to strike Karl in anger. He holds back, but coughs painfully, and seems to drop into a much more rough dialect. Karl insults him, and gets hit for a fatigue level of damage, to which he commands the diplomat's body to have him hurt himself before the lot are told by the king to leave before he becomes angry. They leave, and a bruised Galchobar is escorted by a pair of burly Black Cloaks.

One of Gotvinus's agents happens to be the carriage driver for Galchobar, who ends up returning empty-handed, seeming to have not a whit of his silver tongue expressed back in the fairy king's court.

It has been a busy month, and I never got around to detailing the last two sessions, especially since I've been less than impressed with my performance as a DM for them. Here's the quick rundown of the main elements, and we should return to normal after this weekend's session.
[center][u]1230 (Autumnal Equinox): Fertile Imaginations[/u][/center]
The covenant's surrounded by Faerie winter (acting as threshold guardian for the covenant's front gate). Gotvinus finds a frozen corpse of an ex-bride to the King Beneath the Dandelions, and his magic reveals that she had died going into the Winter in search of a magic lotus that would grant her the ability to bear him a child. Realizing this may be serious, Karl, Gotvinus, Joseph, & Scholarus all go into Faerie in search of this potential solution to the fact Karl is a guy and is expected to bear an heir. Adventures are had, and Scolarus uses his faerie score to gain sizable knowledge in Faerie Lore while in Arcadia. In the end, they manage to find the lotus, free the spirits of the other wives to the Dandelion King who had died in their quest, and return home.

[center][u]1231 (Autumnal Equinox): Wedding Jitters[/u][/center]
It's Karl's wedding day, and Ehren is delayed bringing a pile of books for Karl to browse during his upcoming honeymoon. Laurence, a recently recruited child to become Iovhar's apprentice, is also delayed. William the Demon Hunter & Eric the grog are guarding the dandelion field entrance. They are approached by a talking duck as the dandelion field is doubled, told one leads to excitement while the other leads to a mundane faerie wedding. Presuming the wizards would be in the exciting one, they end up going into Arcadia. After numerous adventures of mushroom people thugs, goblins wars, and visages of death that are terrible at chess, they manage to leave. Ehren manages to acquire a dull kitchen knife that, at least in Arcadia, will make him into He-Man (grants virtues of Large, Tough, and Knight). Of course, four books were lost in the events of this trip...Ars Percipiendi by Cecilius of Bonisagus (Intellego L17/Q18, Branch)
Imaginem Ominum, by Tysium of Jerbiton (Imaginem L20/Q10)
Opus Herbarum by Merinita (Herbam L16/Q9)
Ars Penetratio by [Author Unknown] (Penetration L4/Q8)After the wedding, Karl spends an entire season in the lab with the Dandelion King as his 'assistant' who provides Faerie Ingredients. With lots of experimentation, enough for a double breakthrough on the result chart, he produces a half-breed child.
Alfonso spends a season getting into the good graces with Petrus of Bonisagus of Durenmar, with the magic semen. Agreeing to get someone to surreptitiously give him a quality longevity ritual next year, Petrus will lay with Alfonso once (who will promptly turn into a sparrow for multiple gifted shapechangers). Hopefully, Murion doesn't find out and get vindictive when Petrus becomes infertile.

I was skimming through this, and realized you've used some elements of HBO Ars Magica, at least the Black Cloaks, Exarmo, Iovhar and Profundus! Neat!

I'll tell the rest of the gang. They'll get a kick out of it, and I'm glad you have found some of our ideas useful.

Exarmo & Profundus I'm using essentially straight out of your site. I'm only using the name for Iovhar, who in my game is an elder human with Unaffected by the Gift acting as the autocrat. The Black Cloaks are mostly cribbed from your source, but modified to be more 'juiced' in origin and aesthetic. So, yes, your stuff has been of immense help for inspiration.

ADDENDUM: Forgot to bring this up. Sanagos will, by the end of 1231, have finished reading the following texts on Artes Liberales. Thanks to the two virtues of Book Reader and Affinity, he is now at 25 in Artes Liberales. His personal library may very well be the most comprehensive on the subject in the known world.Ars Grammatica - Minor (L4/Q15)
Categories (Q12, Greek)
On Interpretation (Q12, Greek)
Prior Analytics (Q12, Greek)
Posterior Analytics (Q12, Greek)
On Sophistical Refutations (Q12, Greek)
De inventione I-III (Q14 x3, Greek)
Ars Grammatica - Major (Q12)
Averroes’s Commentaries on Aristotle (Q12, Arabic)
Theon’s Commentaries on Euclid & Ptolemy (Q12 x2)
Hypatia’s Commentaries (Q15 x2)
Hypatia’s Lost Astrolabe Treatise & Other Works (Q14 x2)
Aesara of Lucania’s On Human Nature (Logic, Q13)
Ptolemais of Cyrene’s Reflections on Music (Q14)
Agallis’s Lost Grammatical Works (Q12)
Symphonia Armoniae Celestium Revelationum by Hildegard of Bingen (Q13)
Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing (L5/Q9, Arabic)
Almagest (L5/Q8, Greek)
Optica (Q9, Greek)
Commentary on Somnium Scipionis (Q8)
Consolation of Philosophy (Q9)
Dialectica (Q9)
Priscian’s Institutione grammaticae (L5/Q9)
Boethius’s De Mathematica (Q9)
Porphyry’s Isasgoge (Q6, Greek)
Map of the Stars by Umar Khayyam (Arabic, Q11)
Explanations of the Difficulties in the Postulates of Euclid by Umar Khayyam (Arabic, Q10)
Isagoge, Boethius (Q6, Greek)
De nuptiis philologiae et Mercurii, Martianus Capella (Q5 x7)
Mechanica, Heron (Q7, Greek)
Epistles of the Brethren of Purity: Mathematical Sciences (Q8, x14)
Quadrivium, Boethius (Q8, Greek)
Commentary on Somnium Scipionis, Macrobius (Q8)
Etymologies, Isidore of Seville (Q8)
On the Division of Time, Venerable Bede (Q9 x2)
Data, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
On Divisions of Figures, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
Catoptrics, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
Phaenomena, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
Sand Reckoner, Archimedes (Q9, Greek)
Book of Lemmas (Q7)

[center][u]1231 to 1232: Church Trouble[/u][/center]

About a week before the wedding, a stranger approached the covenant and spoke with Iovhar. Ephram, grandson of Greta of Merinita, wishes to live in the town just outside of the covenant to prepare a room for his Gifted family to make a visit to the covenant next year. Iovhar permits this, and at the dawn of the new year, Ephram concludes his business and departs.

Before the Council, Ehren is judged guilty for having lost four valuable tomes, and Karl to a lesser extent for having the books transported out of the covenant. It is judged that for the next three years, if Karl is to read a book from the library, he must do so within the confines of the building itself. Ehren's punishment is pressed service and requirement to work for the covenant an additional season per year at no additional pay until he pays for the value of the lost books, essentially bestowing the Poor flaw in perpetuity.

One season into the new year, Alfonso's ready to conclude her end of the bargain with Petrus. They mate and Alfonso makes haste to her nest in the covenant in the form of a swallow, and soon lays seven eggs that hatch seven Gifted children (six are skinchangers, one is a shapeshifter). A Gifted Redcap is hired, paid with the promise to have their pick of the children to apprentice when they come of age, to perform the magic necessary to force the children into human form after they hatch. In addition, using the recently upgraded lab for the covenant, the Redcap performs the longevity ritual on Petrus as he requested for donating his seed.

Four wet-nurses & nannies are hired to care for the seven children, in addition to the caretaker for the two non-Gifted Eagle children.

Into the second season, Urban picks up his one tonne shipment of salt, as well as Karl's extra five tonnes for his personal stash. Several weeks later, Urban returns to Newcastle and sends an urgent message to contact Karl. As Karl is currently unavailable, acting as Queen Beneath the Dandelions, Gotvinus poses as another associate to discover the issue. After some questioning, it's revealed that Verdun has decreed a toll of 40% on salt that passes through, which propotionally eats into the year's profits. Circumnavigating Verdun is out of the question, as it is a primary hub along the trade route, and would require a completely new destination that Urban is not equipped to expand into in a reasonable time frame. He is permitted to continue, and leaves for home happy to not be killed (Karl's scary). After some investigation, about a month ago, the bishop of Verdun had begun to send out requests on the value of salt and inquiring potential business opportunities, followed by instating the new toll tax a couple weeks before Urban passed through.

An emergency Council decides to err on the side of caution and simply give Urban the ability to circumvent the toll by granting him a magic item. After some debate, X is tasked with its construction, and Gotvinus will provide it to Urban for when he arrives next year for the salt shipment.

Gotvinus's parens, Ignotia, arrives next season to work with him on his longevity ritual. In exchange, Gotvinus will stablize an arcane connection for her and provide some vis.

Later that season, word is spreading of Konrad von Marburg heading toward Neufchateau, which makes everyone edgy. The magi check with the clergy to figure out what's in store for the area, and resolve to hide every tome in their library that can even be vaguely construed as related to religion or spirits, and quickly check to make sure there hasn't been any heresy going on that would've gotten out. Konrad soon arrives and goes directly for the covenant, wishing to speak with Villenc the Illuminator for the crime of heresy and allegiance with the Cathars. Gotvinus does his best to mollify Konrad, finding out that Villenc had done some illumination work on his own time for sale, and used a reference he obtained from a passing traveler last year; specifically that of the Crucifixtion where Christ is held up with three nails. Konrad had obtained a copy of the work with this heretical image, hence his presence. After some secret cajoling from Gotvinus, Villenc admits to heresy and repents from his Cathar sympathies; this capitulation earning Konrad's mercy. Villenc thus only has his house destroyed, half of his possessions seized, and is commanded to forever bear a yellow cross and live apart from good Catholics (Gotvinus promises to later building him a new house on the outside edge of the covenant).

His business concluded, Konrad begins his departure. Partway out of the village, he deviates and stomps into the forest with several townsfolk leading the way. According to the townsfolk, he heard about Rosid and is going to investigate the pagan altar. In a rush of flying carpets under the cover of invisibility, the magi scramble to think of what to do to fix the situation. They cloak the altar and whip out some spontaneous magic to make a visually identical copse & altar about a hundred metres closer along the path. Because of Joseph's magic, he picks up a point of Warp from a botch and makes the trees become violent linden trees; which gets Konrads attention as he and his men attack and hack the copse to the ground. Panting from the struggle, Konrad audibly realizes the implications. The pagan altar was readily known by the townsfolk and mentioned as part of their weddings, which means heresy has been brewing in the covenant for who knows how long and...and...is glad the threat has been decisively excised. He chastises them for their drinking, as it shouldn't be that confusing, and heads home.

Ignotia is happy to be of service, and expects repayment by being told a score of secrets.

[center][u]1233-1235: Buildup[/center][/u]
There's been some slow down due to scheduling, but we're back in the swing of things. Scolarus has finished his summae for the Conclave of the Rose, which included instructions to read Volshebnii Mechtateli Mortem (Order of Hermes Lore Q7) out of the Durenmar library. It details the history of the Volehsbnii Mechtateli and their reign of terror before being Marched out of existence. After finishing this text, he's instructed to wear a green rose during the next Tribunal to indicate his readiness for the next stage of the mystery cult.

Sanagos has ordered copies of two spells to be made, and Alfonso picks them up for him. These are both high end CrMe spells to increase Intelligence and Communication, with a maximum of +5, the Comm increasing spell being Personal range. He casts them in succession, resulting him botching the last one and going into Twilight. This is shown as him bursting out of his lab with an unnaturally happy demeanor, dancing with the grogs like Scrooge on Christmas morning, waving his hands and popping away into Twilight. A month later, footsteps appear in the fresh snow, as Sanagos dances while he fades back into reality with a jaunty tune. He greets everyone a merry happy returns, and slams the door behind him as his regular mood returns. His new Twilight Scar is that his image is always in higher resolution than everything around him. After this event, he begins working on mathematical proofs and theorems at a furious rate, coming out long enough to dump them in Ehren's lab with orders to compile them into illuminated manuscripts.

During the Autumnal Equinox of 1234, Prokui explodes back into reality, grumpy and Twilight Scar-ridden. He now leaves footprints that glow with moonlight that last for several minutes (longer if he moves faster, hours if he teleports) and his casting sigil is now particularly extreme and equivalent in strength to a grown man. He's told that his Tireless Servant was used by Scolarus while he was away, but it was put back just before he returned. His only request is for Scolarus's replacement servant to forever wear a dunce cap. He goes back into his tower to renew his research.

When the Rhine Tribunal is fast approaching, Scolarus is approached by a horse Bjornaer while wearing his green rose. He's told that the next stage for the Cult, which will make him trusted enough for getting to know the other members, will be a 'simple' quest. He must go to an open land that has seen the stars, yet never been kissed by the sun. There, he must pluck a flower, return home, and send a letter to the Bjornaer who approached him. Once this has been complete, he must brew the flower in three pawns of aquam vis and drink the resulting elixir.

Next session, the Rhine Tribunal shall be handled, with particular attention to the ratification of the Silver Consensus.

[center][u]1235: Salt Preserves[/u][/center]The Tribunal has begun gathering. Alfonso is the center of attention from the new of her producing over half a dozen gifted children for House Mercere, who are already three years old by this point. There is a little wheeling and dealing, and Boris of Mercere gets first pick of the two older children that aren't Gifted. Meanwhile, Gotvinus is attempting to mingle himself to get an idea of which Gild leaders will support his goal of mitigate or outright stop the Silver Consensus, and manages to end up getting selected to be one of the people debating against the current incarnation being discussed.

As it turns out, his debating opponent is the Rhine's fiercest proponent of the Silver Consensus, Archmagus Urgen of Bjornaer. The debate goes surprisingly long, and Gotvinus actually manages to win the debate with only three Fatigue in his argument. Of course, considering the level of opposition, it's insufficient to stop the Silver Consensus from being ratified. It does, however, mean the support of the Linden Gild allows for a compromise; raising the limit to £4 per mage per year instead of £2. This impresses Archmagus Caecilius enough for him to offer Alfonso the position of adviser to the Presiding Quaesitor for the next Tribunal.

After the Tribunal, Alfonso spends the rest of the year spending time with her children to improve her relationship with them, the last season of the year specifically to train the three shapeshifting children. The youngest of the three, because of the Gift, is heavily teased by the two older siblings; especially since the older two started with eagle forms and the younger started with sparrow. Partway through the season, the older two decide to 'help' give practice at evasive maneuvers, which Alfonso has to pounce on to make sure they don't get hurt; which gave the youngest time to get past the wall and swatted by Count Adalbrecht (couldn't resist his nature when a barely out of the nest sparrow flies by uncertainly) while he was on the prowl. This triggers a Turbulence that fills the entire village of Andresina (animal, insect, and human without Magic Resistance) with a green glow. Finding and taking the child to the medical tower, Alfonso gets the kid fixed up, but is at a loss of what the Turbulence did exactly. Gotvinus studies the effect, only to see that it's a magnitude 20 spell, and requires a full lab check (which I've house-ruled to only take a week rather than a season) to figure out what it does. They go to Archmagus Caecilius, who asks for assistance in his lab, and they figure out what's been done. Everyone affected has gained a Longevity Ritual at +13 magnitude. Because it's not specifically tied to them, it's going to give 5 Warp per year instead of the usual 1.

The consequences are wide & concerning, and we end the session at this point for plans to be made.

[center]1236-1237: Silver Years[/center]
Alfonso remembers hearing about the research goals of a Jerbiton from the last party they attended, Aurulentus and his progress toward a longevity ritual that overcomes the limitations of fertility. She heads over to his covenant, and after a couple days and a couple layers of deal-brokering...she provides half a dozen pawns of vis to Gotvinus to teach Aurulentus a huge pile of spells he knows for a season, who then writes a Magic Theory tractatus (under Cow & Calf) that details his breakthrough, which she gives to the Redcap's longevity specialist to read and perform upon her (thus replacing the turbulence-caused one). The Gifted Redcap's services, aside from cost of materials, is also promised of first pick of her current batch of Gifted children as their apprentice.

By this point, Alfonso gains her first minor flaw from the Warp, Secretive. All of her children pick up their first flaw, Monstrous (bird feet). All of the Black Cloaks pick up Afflicted Tongue. The villagers and covenfolk gain either Warped Senses (Sensitivity to Extreme Cold) or Essential Flaw (Avariciousness), in roughly even mixes.

Nearly halfway through the year 1237, Gotvinus is out on business for general Guernicus work, Alfonso is out on Redcap work, and two grogs (Dobbins & Eustace) are out of town for salt deliveries. Urban isn't really an option any more due to the salt volume being drastically reduced after the Rhine's Silver Consensus, and the covenant wanted to not have quite so large a cut taken from their sales. Alfonso stops in Verdun to check on the grogs' in Verdun, who are on their way back to Andresina with the silver from the salt sales. As Eustace is about to pay his tab before heading out, he realizes he has no money, and the silver from the back is completely missing.

The three do their best to retrace their steps, look around for clues, etc. Not a hint of where the silver disappeared is in sight. They head out and start searching the city proper for leads, to which Dobbins notices a child handing a large sum of money to three of the bishop's soldiers. Following the two, Dobbins sees that they go to a crappy building in the tanning district. There is some smashing sounds, followed by a soldier chasing out a couple from an adjacent room/building (wall broken down for expansion). Locating Alfonso and Eustace to catch them up on the potential issues happening, Alfonso flies in to spy on the goings-on.

The child is cleaning up some of the rubble, one of the guards is evidently also learned and is taking notes at the command of a tanner with a plump white woman hanging on his arm. The tanner details a rather nice house and hands the guard three pounds of silver to give to the carpenter he's tasked to find. As the guard heads out, Alfonso follows and gathers Dobbins & Eustace to join in stopping the man in an alley before reaching the carpenter. Distracting him long enough, Alfonso transforms from a moorish-man into an asp while Dobbins and Eustace jump out of hiding for the ambush. They take the money (confirmed to be from Eustace's bag) from the guard's corpse, then Alfonso flies as swiftly as possible to Andresina to tell the magi of the predicament.

Sanagos and Prokui don't think it's worth their time. Scolarus and Joseph take some flying carpets and reach Verdun by morning. Alfonso spies on the tanner that morning, at which point the Bishop of Verdun walks in and begins negotiations. The tanner offers a regular and sizeable rent for the guards and enough land for him to live in private and with enough protection to maintain this privacy for him, his child, and his woman. The bishop accepts ten pounds as an upfront initial pay after being assured that the money is from entirely legit means that will cause no consequence, then leaves.

Alfonso flags down the bishop in human form, and subsequently throws down some damn impressive Presence+Intrigue numbers to both convince the bishop that the money is indeed stolen and for them to reacquire the stolen goods under certain restrictions: no more than one of the bishop's men can die, no public display of force such as an invading army or similar maneuver, and no casualties beyond the tanner and his two dependents. Thanking the bishop, and leaving him the ten pounds of silver as a gesture of good will, Alfonso leaves to discuss with the other magi their plan.

The following night, while the tanner sleeps with a dozen guards keeping watch, the three magi plan on a nearby roof. Joseph sends a nearby bolt of wood to go through some stuff, distracting the guards that have a view of the street, permitting Scolarus to float silently downward to get a view of the window where the tanner is sleeping. Then, he teleports the man out of bed and onto the top of a building in front of Alfonso and the grogs. The interrogation yields results, but Alfonso doesn't believe his story of "hot new girlfriend gave it" and eventually gets a panicked admission of "nobody was watching, so I just ran in and grapped the silver I could."

Scolarus attempts to teleport the woman, but gets a -5 on his penetration and fails to actually affect her. Concerned, he flies in to tell Alfonso and Joseph. They keep the tanner under wraps and Alfonso spies upon the house itself to check on the house guards, finding the woman having woken up to eat some food and yell at one of the guards to find her man. Joseph attempts to invisibly slap her with Demons' Eternal Oblivion, but nothing happens. Out of concern for their safety, the magi head back home, the tanner and his son (the latter picked up later) forcibly 'enlisted' to join their covenant.

Thinking the troubles to be handled, the magi go about their business for the rest of the season. Iovhar notes some irregularities in the records, specifically that £90 are missing from their coffers. This galvanizes the magi into investigation; Gotvinus spontaneously casts a counting spell on the current coffers and Owlowiscious uses its scrying power on the room. Five weeks go by, and it's revealed one Saturday evening each month, £30 disappear from the coffers completely inexplicably. Gotvinus uses another spell of sensing silver by smell, and gets a huge whiff from Karl's old lab, which is where he'd been storing his extra salt sales before leaving to be the Queen Beneath the Dandelions (all one tonne of it).

[center][u]1237-1239: Finger-Licking Walking[/u][/center]
As the loss of silver had not been abating, and once accounting for the presence of Karl's stash, they realize they've been losing £30 every Saturday rather than just the first of each month. They send Alfonso to start investigating, and after about a month and £120, they find out the Bishop of Verdun has picked up a 'girlfriend' about a week after they dealt with the tanner; an attractive foreign woman that doesn't match the tanner's girlfriend (who has since gone missing). They also hear talk about food storage centers periodically getting ravaged by some beast roughly once a month since the covenant's money started disappearing.

Thinking the two events are related, they first investigate the case of the missing food, as a lucky investigation reveals that the damage to the doors was done from the inside. William and Joseph (with nightvision magic) patrol the streets of Verdun at night near likely locations for a gluttonous beast to attack, and on the third night they hit paydirt. Chewing coming from inside one of the warehouses, William kicks open the door, and sees a great blob of fat that walks like a man; a snake as a 'belt', great claws, and an incredibly long tongue. The creature is wounded by Joseph's DEO, but responds to William's warhammer with a grunt. It follows up with a geyser of vomit that throws William out the door and across the street, dealing a Light wound. Using this opportunity of nobody being in melee with it, the demon discorporates away. William takes another Light wound from the burning vomit before managing to find a horse trough or something to wash it off.

They recover for a week, then decide to check on Verdun's woman. The rumours were that she meets with the bishop for 'confession' on Friday night near the Cathedral, so they stake themselves out with Gotvinus in tow for his magical veil. Night falls, an invisible bear roars in the distance, a beautiful foreign woman clutches herself in pain as claws and teeth manifest briefly, and a large burly man charges forth with a warhammer to cave her head in.

As the demon was killed with some infernal vis still intact, the body remains. The black cloaks carry the corpse out of sight, where Joseph rips out the beast's tongue and uses DEO to remove trace of its body. Everybody goes home, and it's later revealed that the money ceased disappearing.

Joseph spends a day attempting to cleanse the infernal vis using some theoretical magic techniques mentioned by his Venatore mentor, who was personally of the opinion that such research was too dangerous to be worthwhile. He ultimately ends up botching both attempts, despite clearly successful dice rolls, and gains a total of 1 Warp. On an unrelated note - later that year, he rolls a triple crit on his aging roll and suffers a crisis, leaving him bedridden for a month. This forces him to spend a bit more vis than he was planning to renew the longevity ritual that just got broken.

Alfonso spends an entire season doing investigative work with Intrigue and picking up a contact (7 exposure XP to Area Lore: Verdun) to learn what may be the cause of this. The first lead is the fact the tanner, after being brought to Andresina, mentions having heard rumours of the covenant as a place where a bunch of scribes hide away with a giant pile of money. This largely factual rumour in fact began circulating in Verdun about a month or two before the money began disappearing, started by this one man whom is later identified as Ephram. They don't suspect anything malicious on this, and simply keep a note for later.

Later that year, Scolarus makes a discovery and stabilizes it, now that much closer to his Minor Breakthrough. Gotvinus has finally developed a spell capable of eliminating shadows, making invisibility spells that much more thorough.

In the spring of 1238, Alfonso speaks to various magi on her rounds, and convinces three to sponsor her for Master status. The fact she publicly admitted her bearing seven Gifted children, and has provided impressively prompt delivery throughout her career (having never shifting in sight of a magus and never arriving faster than humanly possible).

In the summer of 1239, several people check themselves into the temple to be treated by the doctors, complaining of severe pain and general distress. Gotvinus checks them with InCo magic, discovering that they've eaten decent-sized quantities of local berries known to be poisonous. A couple days later, one of the teamsters returns with rather severe blockage, eventually revealed to be a mass of metal shards he ate. With the healing circle and doctors' work, he manages to survive, but can't remember ever eating such. While recovering, several of the other poisoned people leave their beds in the middle of the night to eat huge quantities of night soil, which Owlowicious notices and reports to Scolarus the next morning. They report not having remembered eating any of that, but having a constant craving to eat and smelled mashed turnips outside that night to eat to their fill. Suspecting infernal influence, Gotvinus uses CrMe magic to purge their minds of any demonic Obsession traits given them, which immediately removes their gluttony. The concern remains, as all of this happened within the covenant's Aegis.

The next day, Ehren suddenly has an urge to eat his ink vial and then walk to the library to eat Scolarus's recently illuminated tractatus Creating Spells (Magic Theory Q11). Before getting to more, Gotvinus finds out and puts him to sleep and has him brought to the infirmary under black cloak guard to be tended to his wounds from the event. Calling for an immediate Council meeting, along with William, their collective lore figures out the demon at play is likely a Mahonin that snuck past the Aegis through possession and is now wreaking havoc on the muggles within. Plans are made involving the use of fennel seeds, only to be interrupted by Ehren breaking in to say that the black cloaks assaulted one of the doctors and began eating him. Joseph runs to the temple and purges them of the possessing spirit with DEO, and they begin rounding up the muggles to start throwing fennel seeds.

Meanwhile, William sneaks into his home, which has a fair bit of infernal aura about it now. He performs his magic to summon the nearest demon, which happens to be the Mahonin, and proceeds to ablate its brains out.

[center][u]1240: All the Pride's a Stage[/u][/center]
A busy year for everyone. Preparations have begun for the upcoming elegiac comedy festival. They gather more money to decorate the coliseum Scolarus made earlier. An entire council meeting is formed to decide what the prize should be, cognizant of the fact there's at least a 50/50 chance a mundane will get it and therefore they can't make anything too crazy without violating the Code. Ultimately, they decide on a magic amulet that improves ones' musical talent (variation on the Aura of Ennobled Presence), but will expire in 7 years. Gotvinus & Joseph pool their resources to craft this. Everyone is woken near the summer solstice on the night of a full moon to a loud crack of thunder, Prokui performing further rituals for a few hours. After all that, he lifts up to carry a comically large backpack, and burns yet more vis in a final pillar of light.

The day has come Alice!

A bit before the festival begins, Sanagos informs Iovhar that he'll be leaving for a time with a sponsor. Nobody seems to mind, but are surprised that the Hanseatic merchant who arrives seems completely nonplussed by Sanagos's Gift, and in fact comes off as quite happy to meet him in person. They discuss a few things, and the merchant leaves £65 to Iovhar to create a perfect writing environment for such a fantastic scholar; aka, £25 for a huge, excellent house to be built. Another £40 is given for a hyper-specialized, text-only lab. Sanagos tells everyone he will be gone long enough for the lecture circuit of his theories and consultations that the new lab should be complete; everyone else agrees that Ehren and the scribes, who have enough Magic Theory, will be tasked to construct the lab itself.

For a full week before the festival, the villagers of Andresina and several 'entrepreneurs' set up shop around the coliseum in preparation. Faeries of all sorts begin to gather, enough to nearly match the number of mundane attendees; centaurs, one giant, several treants, a full dozen satyrs & fauns, and innumerable fae that could pass off for human if they wore a large hat or cloak. The contestants & their entries number four:* Mecklen the Red - Lay brother and merchant's son, his entry a bit out of genre and concerning farmers' love of their blessings by the saints

  • Brogo the Dwarf - As per the entry in A&A (p122), his tale is a rather dirty tale of bedroom antics between Lancelot and Geuinevere
  • Gertrude the Holzfrau - A bawdy elegiac that included revealing several audience members' cursed with donkey ears.
  • Tom the Donestre - Lion-headed fae, his elegiac is a morose piece on the frailty of life, punctuating his piece with a severed head produced from his bag

    I did the gravedigger scene before it was cool

Gotvinus is concerned by the bloody rendition of Yorick, and covertly convinces the King to delay his judgement toward this evening. Using the opportunity, he obtains the severed head left behind by Tom and performs Whispers Through the Black Gate in another room. The ghost describes himself as a very important master of the finances in Neufchâteau, coming to attend the festival when he thought he saw movement in the trees near the road. Alfonso flies over to the castle and asks her contact for information on the head financer, only to eventually find out that he was actually a poop-shoveler in the stables. She finally finds the wife & kids to tell them that he was killed by bandits and gives them a pound of silver out of goodwill to help them survive their loss.

Flying back, they give the news of one of their intended guests being assaulted by a contestant in the festival. After some deliberation, the King agrees to disqualify Tom for his behavior, then announcing the winner to be Brogo. After the festival is over, Tom heads out and the King confirms with Gotvinus that he's not under any lord's protection. Gotvinus follows Tom that night, under the cover of invisibility and the Black Cloaks staying farther back. Tom starts whistling, which pings against Gotvinus's parma and the Black Cloaks have a sudden need to move away (movement elsewhere, a 'shortcut', etc). Quickly, Gotvinus smacks Tom with a sleep spell and eventually gets the Black Cloaks back to kill him. A tear-soaked hankerchief holds his vis.

[center][u]1240: Trees & Strays[/u][/center]
Halfway through the year, Scolarus finalized his Minor Breakthrough in Hermetic Theory. Thanks to his research, no longer must magi be constrained to the tyranny of circles, and now whole realm of geometry is their playground!

New vistas have been opened!

What this means in practice is that circles/rings can be drawn with any bounded shape rather than circles. He experiments to produce two plant growth spells, one being a level 4 'circle' spell that will teach the Breakthrough to anyone. His intention is to have copies made and distributed throughout the Order for free. About half a fortnight before the solstice, Scolarus's experimentation gives him terrific insight to the nature of Creo magic, but one of his experiments on the growth of an acorn results in it exploding in growth. It takes about a diameter for Joseph Miller to come over and spontaneous an Unraveling the Form of Herbam spell upon the tree, by which point it is now the size of a full 500 year old oak; replacing the entire East wall of Scolarus's home.

Unsure of what to do, they arrange for some of the servants to fill in the gaps between the wall and tree and chop off the limbs, only for them to tell Iohvar that branches seemed to have moved out of the building and grown over the gaps on their own by the following morning. Curious about this behavior, Gotvinus applies some magic analysis, only to discover that the tree used to hold an entire rook of vis that was consumed when it was targeted by Scolarus's magic. Attracted to the gleam of more vis, they check with teamster Eustace to find out where he got the acorn.

Following the trail to a no-name hamlet between Neufchâteau and Verdun, they speak with a woman that collected acorns to make snacks for sale by passing pilgrims and merchants (reinforced by the salt line the magi created for a decade). She remembered the teamster sifting through her acorns for a selection of very specific ones (magus experiments can be pretty picky), thanks to Gotvinus's CrMe magic upon her memory. She remembered that bag chosen by Eustace was from a trade with a traveler who gave acorns in exchange for a portion to be turned into food; a beardless young man with a red cap and light brown hair. She remembered him spitting out the food, calling it no better than the nightsoil found in the chamberpot of her husband's mistress; he walked out of the place with a rude gesture, and last the woman had heard, he was headed to Verdun.

Heading back to Andresina to plot a course for their carpets, they get to Verdun within the day. They ask around, and Scolarus manages to get an 18 on his Communication+Folk Ken to find a person, overcoming the Gift and finding the location of the red capped traveler; staying in the hovel of a pair of deaf people. They head over and finally meet the traveler, which Gotvinus is perceptive enough to recognize as a small-framed woman dressed as a man. Their voice drops an octave upon realizing there are guests around. After a short introduction, the traveler reveals their name to be Tunne. After a bit of discussion, Tunne is willing to tell them where the acorn came from for only £2 (failed Bargain roll); during said debate, Gotvinus attempted a subtle Posing the Silent Question (with penetration 17). This fails to get any information, which has the group of magi concerned about the apparent presence of magic resistance. Forking over the money, they're told the acorn was obtained from a Jofridus of Regensburg, who lived a hermit out near Fulda. Tunne includes a good description of the man, and offers to send a message to him in exchange for a pfennig (£.01). Opting not to bother, the magi pack their bags and head out to Fulda, which adds another day to their travel.

After a few hours, they meet an elderly professor from the Abbey who knew Jofridus; an exceedingly creepy man who's equally exceedingly intelligence overcame his low social status to get a position as a student in the Abbey. But last he heard, Jofridus left over a decade ago. Not sure what to do next, they see Tunne on the other side of the tavern trying to wave for their attention. Tunne heads over, telling them they have a message from Jofridus; giving a surprisingly good mimic of a deep, manly voice in an East German accent to the effect of "unless you want to talk about a tree, you can go screw one." Gotvinus points out that a tree is the exact subject they're wanting to discuss and convinces Tunne to tell them where he is; which they are informed to be in Geismar, about 100km northeast of where they are now. This isn't far enough to escape the scent of their scab-pickings, according to Tunne, who leaves the tavern backward with another rude gesture.

Setting themselves up, they fly for Geismar. Gotvinus asks around, and they're told where to find Jofridus the hermit. Walking into the woods from the town for a few minutes, they come upon a cottage with smoke coming out and in the middle of a rank 3 Magic aura. Knocking on the door, they meet a very cautious man in his mid-30s. After some debate, they are let in under the laws of hospitality, agreeing to not be hostile and for him to be a good host. After a moment of him preparing the place, having observed that they're capable of withstanding the cold just fine (their CrIg magic is still running, so they've been loose with their clothing's tightness), they are let in. There is a full feast set up on the table, including steaming mugs of mead. Various things have been moved and/or covered up, and Jofridus does his best to keep his knife in hand while they talk.

Jofridus got the thoroughly unique acorn at great expense with the intent to grow it near his home, but Tunne sneaked out with it after he offered her to eat the food on his table when visiting. He assures the magi, though more to Gotvinus since the other two magi creep him out greatly, that he's much more inconvenienced than they. Gotvinus explains that they're a member of the Order of Hermes and suspect that he's someone with the Gift as well, which Jofridus reacts to by gripping his knife harder in preparation to defend himself quickly. After a bit more discussion, Jofridus cautiously confirms his nature as a practitioner, and is formally invited to swear the Oath (with all of the benefits, including being taught Parma) on the condition that Gotvinus agrees to be his ally in the event another magus chooses to wage war with him. Gotvinus agrees, and arranges for him to be under 'apprenticeship' under Alfonso's wing (pun intended) until he can formally swear the Oath at the next Tribunal; after triple-checking that he doesn't need to show his magic and that it's a crime for magi to spy on his affairs.

They agree to bring him to Andresina, to which Jofridus settles his affairs and brings only a lynx skull, knife, and tablecloth scarf (the carpet's weight limit is strict). Numerous items are bundled up and thrown into the fireplace as he leaves, and everyone rides to home, where Jofridus is ecstatic to finally see the tree.

While Jofridus is shown around the place, Prokui appears in a burst of light and gravity, demanding to know what's happened since he left and who on God's Earth this new guy is. Jofridus himself is holding is knife and climbing the tree like a cornered animal upon seeing Prokui's entrance. Gotvinus explains him as new recruit to the Order, to which Prokui confirms that he's yet to formally swear the Oath and thus not under true legal protection. Prokui attempts to levitate him over, finding his magic having failed to his surprise. He attempts to just make him sneeze, which fails again.

Prokui teleports next to him to attempt to physically take a piece of Jofridus's hair, and is given a very mild cut by his knife in self defense. Prokui swears, mumbling that at least his Terram resistance still works, and tells Gotvinus that he better keep on eye on him before teleporting back to his lab. Otherwise, the arrival of the new person to the covenant is taken in stride and he is given one of the unoccupied wings to the complex. Gotvinus has Miruna secretly take a bit of hair from his room, attempting to scry on him, managing a Penetration of 42; only to be denied again.

Gotvinus doesn't know this, but his face matched Prokui's to this result

[center]1240: Baby, It's Cold Outside[/center]

At the beginning of the year, all seven of the Gifted children, now age 8, begin being handed out to the various Gifted Redcaps to begin their apprenticeships. One of them is commissioned a pack of fertility potions guarantee conception. Afterward, Alfonso heavily chats up Joseph Miller about any recently joined Bjornaer during the last couple Gatherings, and eventually decides on targeting Pica of Bjornaer of the Mac Gruagach Covenant in the Loch Legean Tribunal (2 years past Gauntlet). She travels there in her true female form, getting friendly with the locals, especially with Pica. A nice, solid, Pre+Intrigue roll of 17 convinces the gregarious magus to bed her one night in October. While he sleeps off the activity, Alfonso dons her clothing, turns into a swallow, and flies swiftly to the nearest Mercere Portal to get to Andresina post-haste.

Alfonso may or may not have been dressed like this.

She lays 18 eggs that winter as a grey partridge. One is a natural bird, another is a Gifted shapeshifter, and the rest are 'mundane' skinchangers. Alfonso dedicates her next three months to being in partridge form to help raise the chicks, sending a letter to each of her seven Gifted children to ask if any of them would like to bond to their (currently) youngest sibling so that it might live beyond 3 years.

[center]1241: A Pen Invites the Sword[/center]

Jofridus swears the Oath, and stays in Andresina. They're confused by his lack of need for a dedicated lab, seemingly only needing some high quality tools (carving for leather, stone, metal, wood, etc). His first season is that of instruction by Gotvinus in the art of Parma Magica, doing his darndest to keep mum on how his magic might work despite Gotvinus's attempts at inquiry. The next season is that of Magic Theory from Elisabeth, after which he asks if he could have about 3 pawns of vis from the covenant (type doesn't matter, so they give him Herbam). He then confers with the covenant's physician to keep an eye on his person for the next week or so, granting permission to enter his sanctum; who finds him in his bed in a coma, an empty mug by his side. Sometime after this, Owlowiscious notices him sneak out of his place in the middle of the night with a stone. Following secretly, he spies upon Jofridus digging into the barley field for a bit and then sneaking back into the covenant after putting something into the hole and covering it up. Scolarus, upon hearing this from his familiar the following morning, takes a Black Cloak with him out to the field to dig up whatever was placed.

The Black Cloak completes his task just as Jofridus arrives to ask if everything was alright. Scolarus, having gotten a good glimpse of the futhark carved upon the stone for his Art of Memory to hold onto it, lets Jofridus take a look at the stone when he asks. Jofridus takes out his dagger, peeling off the top layer of the stone like a flaky potato, eliminating any remnant of the runes. He hands it back and goes inside. Scolarus makes out enough that they're indicative of aboriginal writing style found in the Nordic territories, but can't recall much else. So, he confers with Gotvinus for information, who recalls something about the Order of Odin being based in that region. Dictating a letter, with a copy of the futhark they found, he attempts to initiate correspondance with Archmagus Phillipus Niger for further illumination on the matter. A couple days later, shortly after Alfonso delivers the message, the covenant hear the scribe who took the dictation screams and run out of his room as a black robed figure steps out afterward.

Archmagus Niger introduces himself to Gotvinus, informing him of the great concern that evidence of activity for the Order of Odin being found so far south into Hermetic territory, and wishes to know if any other information concerning the enemy to the Order was found. Gotvinus flatly tells him that was all they could find, and the only non-mundane presence he was aware of were magi of the Order of Hermes. Archmagus Niger tells him of his intention to conduct his own investigation, and asks if there would be any trouble if he accidentally pulls up information concerning the covenant's affairs, and is told that it would be fully treated as the scrying that it would be. Nodding sagely, he heads out to the building with Prokui. Knocking, he has an observed discourse at the front door. Prokui promises that all of his affairs are confined to his sanctum, and doesn't care what he finds out beyond its walls. Prokui acts familiar with him, if unfriendly, and says that his Thorshot Stratagem won't get a reprisal from him so long as he's not on the crosshairs. Afterward, Niger borrows the use of the covenant's scribe for the day to make copies of several letters to give to Gotvinus for distribution on the next new moon. Other than Prokui, every magus in the covenant (including Jofridus), has had Wizard War declared upon them. The Archmagus teleports back home to Durenmar.

I declare Wizard War on your whole family! I declare Wizard War on you! I declare Wizard War on your cow!

[center]1241: Wizard War[/center]
Just a little concerned about the declaration of Wizard War, especially with an Archmagus of Niger's reputation. The non-elder members of the covenant gather to figure out an action plan over the next month to hopefully survive. It is at this time that Jofridus admits that he is a Vitkir, his parens was killed by one of Niger's fili as an accused member of the Order of Odin, and the tree is an arcane connection to original forest spirit at Donar's Oak that he was wanting to gain access to to help restore. He was wanting to rely on the protection and privacy of the Order of Hermes to evade persecution, the "Order of Odin" term not having any significance to him other than acknowledging the fact he is a pagan and that Odin holds a position of great respect for his own discovery of runic magic. He and what few other Gifted individuals he knows of have no general ill-will toward the powerful Hermetic Order, and generally just try to avoid their ire. He also gives a basic run-down of what he can cast, and the general limits of his magic, reasoning that laying everything down on the table will help engender trust, especially since he knows he'll be doomed otherwise against the likes of Archmagus Niger.

Jofridus gathers some money, and heads out under disguise for the next two months.

He hopes his training from Waldo pays off.

Gotvinus & Joseph head out to Fengheld in search of potential aid in dealing with the upcoming War. While they are there, they are initially greeted by friendly Balastor & hostile Günther Lupus (who is a Wilderist to Joseph's Harmonist views) and eventually given an audience with Stentorius. Unfortunately, Stentorius feels that helping Andresina fight back against Niger to be too risky for what he feels is a noble cause that is unlikely to result in negative consequences to the magi of Andresina unless they happen to be guilty of harboring an enemy to the Order. The fact that Stentorius is pro-Silver Consensus, which Gotvinus campaigned against as well as he could, didn't help matters.

On their way out, they are accosted by a pack of wolves that swiftly incapacitate Gotvinus and heavily wound (five Heavy, specifically) Joseph. They are saved by being engulfed in green flame forcelessly cast by Balastor, who was near the border to the covenant when he realized what was happening. He magically binds their wounds and brings them back into the covenant, and offers to help heal them with some of his personal vis stores out of a sense of responsibility for them being hurt so close to the covenant. He does answer Gotvinus's questions, mentioning that while Master Lupus is a wolf, he is not liked by any animal of the forest and is not that good at ReAn magic, which would hinder any attempt to ensorcell them w/sufficient penetration to harm Joseph Miller. After resting up, they attempt to track the wolves, finding no traces of magic. Eventually, they find the wolves' den and abscond with the alpha (total sensory invisibility and sleep magic) to interrogate it. There's no magic on the wolf, but it says it was told by a female wolf that smelled like a human that a human and a bear would come out of the covenant soon, and their flesh would give the pack great strength. Due to the lack of magic traces, they find the trail cold by this point and return to Andresina.

Alfonso heads out to a covenant of Ex Miscelleanea in the Loch Legean Tribunal known for having trouble with the Archmagus. She has much better luck than the two magi, and convinces them to aid in vexing Niger's investigations. One of them is a skilled practitioner of Imaginem, and has recently made a single-use item that makes a semi-autonomous illusion of a person with completely sensory output that can be given a set behavior when initially conjured. Due to a quirk in the experimentation, it even fools low-grade Intellego magic into thinking it's just a normal person. She thanks them, provides a generous amount of vis in exchange for a single copy of the item, and returns to Andresina.

The time has passed, and on the appointed time of the approved Wizard War, Archmagus Niger appears before the hapless scribe again, then walks about looking for the magi. He intimidates a few of the grogs, then busts into their labs to physically search for evidence of the Order of Odin. After a time, not finding any such evidence or even the magi, he gets one of the black cloaks to tell him where they went; they supposedly found a trail of clues that the Order of Odin had infiltrated Neufchâteau, and were seeking them out right now in the castle. He commandeers a carriage and makes his way to the castle, bludgeoning his way through the place with PeMe magic. He encounters Gotvinus, who lies flawlessly thanks to the Infernal Aura, that they found the runic magus in one of the rooms and were contemplating a method of taking them out. Taking the direct approach, Niger walks in on the autonomous illusion of a hostile runic magus, and then fast casts several Rune Dispels and then uses a PeCo death effect. The illusion is believable enough, and Niger doesn't try to dispel/check for illusions, and so he says his work is done and teleports back home.