Aedituus ex Criamon

Information about Aedituus.
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Aedituus ex Criamon, filius Sonya

Characteristics: Int +2, Per +1, Pre 0, Com +2, Str 0, Sta +1, Dex 0, Qik -1
Size: 0
Age: 42 (apparent age 34)
Decrepitude: 0 (0)
Warping Score: 1 (3)
Confidence Score: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: The Gift, Hermetic Magus, The Enigma, Affinity with Magic Theory, Book Learner, Educated, Gentle Gift, Puissant Mentem, Second Sight, Sense Holiness and Unholiness, Student of the Divine; Deficient Perdo, Noncombatant, Pious (minor), Restriction (must be tonsured daily), True Love (NPC: Sonya, minor), Weird Magic

Personality Traits: Patient +1, Impulsive +2

Abilities: Area Lore: Britian (History) +1, Area Lore: Koblenz ("magical" places) +1, Artes Liberales (ceremonial magic) +3 (10), Awareness (alertness) +2, Charm (first impressions) +1, Chirurgy (setting bones) +1, Church Lore (politics) +2, Civil and Canon Law (monastic laws) +1, Code of Hermes (mundane relations) +1, Concentration (reading) +3, Criamon Lore (personalities) +1, Dominion Lore (saints) +2, Enigmatic Wisdom +2 (1), Folk Ken (clergy) +2, French (slang) +2 (10), Guile (lying to authority) +1, Latin (Hermetic usage) +5, Magic Theory (Rego) +6 (24), Medicine (physician) +1, Native Language, English (medical vocabulary) +5, Order of Hermes Lore (history) +2 (7), Parma Magica (Mentem) +2, Penetration (Mentem) +2, Profession: Scribe (neat work) +4 (15), Second Sight (ghosts) +2, Sense Holiness/Unholiness (good) +2, Teaching (Latin) +2 (10), Theology (heresy) +1.

Arts: Cr 10 (1), In 7, Mu 3, Pe 0, Re 7 (3), An 0, Aq 0, Au 2, Co 5 (1), He 1, Ig 0, Im 2, Me 8 (2), Te 0, Vi 11 (7)

Circular Ward Against Demons ReVi10 CT: 17+aura+die
Disguise of the Transformed Image (Range: Personal) MuIm10 CT:6+aura+die
Wizard's Sidestep ReIm10 CT:10+aura+die
Charge of the Angry Winds CrAu15 CT:13+aura+die
The Chirurgeon's Healing Touch CrCo20 CT:19+aura+die
Wizards Communion MuVi20 CT:15+aura+die
Lift the Dangling Puppet ReCo15 CT:12+aura+die
Confusion of the Numbed Will ReMe15 CT:15+3+aura+die
Circle of Beast Warding ReAn5 CT:7+aura+die

Character Concept: Abelard was the fifth son of a wealthy land owner in England. His mother died while giving birth to him, and his father donated a large sum of money, along with Abelard, to a local monastery, in exchange for prayers said for his beloved wife. Born with a birthmark on his left side, Abelard was always a strange child, and not always trusted by the monks, as he sometimes seemed to know what they were thinking. Most tolerated him however, and at the age of 18, Abelard was on the verge of taking Holy Orders. He had been hoping this would ease his sense of loneliness, even among the monks of the order, but his spirit still felt the need for something else as his ordination day approached. When a wandering scholar stopped at the monastery, he asked if Abelard might join his entourage, and provided the monastery with a generous donation in exchange for the young man. The Jerbiton magus recognized the Gift in the young monk, but not being in need or desire for an apprentice, paid off a debt to a Criamon maga with the gift of an apprentice. The maga was careful to try to preserve her apprentice's supernatural abilities upon opening his Arts, recognizing their value for a Criamon. She was never able to completely distract him from his monastic vows, and gifted him with the name Aedituus at his gauntlet. Aedituus continues to shave his head in a tonsure, and dresses in plain black robes, cinched with a white rope belt. He has been following the Winding Path since his gauntlet, and seeks to develop ideas about the relationship between the Enigma and the Divine.

Color Stories ...

As the Abbot intoned the prayers of consecration in his dry and barren voice, twelve-year-old Abelard found himself, as usual, starting to drowse. The coolness of the dim stone chapel was so much more comfortable than the boys’ dormitory up under the eaves on the south side of the monastery, and the light that always seemed to surround Father Aelfric during mass was more comforting than disturbing. The sleep lost to last night’s prayers snuck up on Abelard. John, a year older, started whispering about how hungry he was, and how he wished for some of his mother’s stewed lamb with rosemary. Several of the other boys also started whispering about ordinary activities, and Abelard startled awake when he began to taste the savoury stew that John imagined. He opened his eyes, and the others fell silent, all apparently paying studious attention to the mass. Abelard wondered that Brother Joseph had not waded into the whispering boys to pull some out by their ears, but the older Brother remained off to the side, apparently and surprisingly oblivious to the transgressions.
Later, as Abelard and John ate together, the thin gruel barely enough to break the night’s fast, Abelard whispered, as talking at meals was not really allowed, “Nothin’ like your mum’s lamby stew, is it?” John raised his eyebrows in apparent surprise, but said nothing until they were finished with the meal.
“How do you know about my mum’s stew?”
“You kept talkin’ about it at mass this morning. Made my mouth water to hear it!”
John stopped, and looked at the younger boy. “I didn’t say nothin’ at mass this morning! Besides, you were almost snoring; Brother Joseph is going to tan your hide if you keep falling asleep.”
“I only closed my eyes. You’re the one who’ll be in trouble for talking during mass.”
“I told you I wasn’t talking!” John punched Abelard on the arm.”
“You and everybody else had lots to say this morning. I was surprised Brother Joseph wasn’t red in the face.”
John gaped at him. “You must have been dreaming. Nobody talked during mass this morning, not even William but then I wouldn’t expect so after the whipping he got yesterday.”
Abelard thought for a minute. “Then how’d I know about the lamb stew?”
“I dunno.” John looked at Abelard quizzically. “But it is good, and you’re right; that slop at breakfast makes me miss it.”

As time went on, Abelard found he could sometimes hear what other monks were thinking, and that he could also sometimes project his thoughts toward others. The most unfortunate occurrence was during mass, a few weeks after the exchange with John, when Abelard had decided that Brother Joseph looked like one of the fat pigeons in the courtyard. Although he had said nothing (which was confirmed by John) Brother Joseph had apparently heard the remark, and reacted badly. Abelard found himself in the kitchens working off a serious penance for the next several weeks, and had to be very careful around Brother Joseph from then on. When he was fourteen, a bishop visited the abbey, putting everyone on edge, as he was known to be a hard man with a temper that seethed and burned. Abelard took an instant dislike to the man, and avoided him as much as possible. On the last day of the visit, the bishop said the mass, and Abelard found it odd that he did not glow as the priests of the abbey did when they raised the holy bread. When it was his turn to receive communion from the bishop, Abelard was overcome by a foul stench, and kneeling there with the host presented to him, vomited on the bishop’s slippers and passed into unconsciousness.

Abelard awoke in the infirmary, tended by Brother Matthew, the Infirmarer. Matthew was a little hesitant to approach the boy when he first woke because while Abelard was asleep, Matthew had sudden and pungently smelling visions of the bishop whenever he touched the boy to check his fever. As Abelard recovered, he told Matthew about the illuminated priests, about the ghosts that wandered outside the walls on All Hallow’s Eve, how he always enjoyed the smell of roses around the altar even during the winter, how he often knew what someone was thinking, and how he could sneak past Brother Joseph at night just by imagining the older man asleep. Worried that the fever had taken Abelard’s wits, Matthew had the boy assigned to the Infirmary where he could keep a closer eye on him. In addition to his morning and evening work in the scriptorium, Abelard enjoyed his afternoons in the Infirmary.

Abelard proved an able helper, learning the skills of an Infirmarer, and often seemed able to ease the pains of the older monks more effectively than Matthew could. Unfortunately, the episode with the bishop and his uncanny ability to know what others were thinking often put him at odds with his superiors, and Matthew found the Infirmary and herb garden to be places of refuge. At the age of sixteen, Abelard took the vows of a monk, and looked forward to being able to take Holy Orders when he turned eighteen, hoping to end his feelings of isolation and join the order fully. He continued his duties in the Infirmary, tending many who came for treatment, including the occasional traveller beset by bandits. One pair, a father and son, bore little resemblance to each other, but the elder, who always wore a red hat, frequently referred to the younger as “filius”. The young man had suffered a beating at the hands of some bandits, and although the father seemed unharmed, he was certainly shaken by the ordeal. He was some sort of messenger, and left his son to the monks’ care while he completed his mission. Abelard struck up a friendship with young Charles while he recuperated, and was surprised at his knowledge of Latin. Charles had some amazing stories to tell, and Abelard shared some of his experiences as well. When Charles’ father returned, he and his son left with the promise of returning to visit Abelard. One or the other did visit several times during the next year, and Abelard found himself looking forward to their visits, as his isolation from the other monks remained.

A few months before Abelard’s ordination, Charles arrived, now wearing a red cap himself, with a much older man named Johannes, who was a scholar and knew Latin very well. He seemed to know exactly how Abelard felt about himself and his surroundings, and was able to discuss the techniques Abelard had learned in the Infirmary. He also glowed like the priests did during mass, but unlike them, Johannes glowed all the time. The older man became a frequent visitor, and explained that he lived in what he called a covenant with other scholars. Abelard found himself wishing he could visit Johannes’ covenant, surprising himself with a wish that extended beyond the monastery’s walls. A month before he was to be ordained, Abelard found himself in front of the Abbot with Johannes, asking to be released from his monastic vows so he could study with Johannes’ covenant. The Abbot agreed, and Abelard followed Johannes to his new life.

Shortly before Christmastide, Johannes announced that I was ready to be presented to my mistress. He had earlier explained that I was not to be his apprentice, but in the six months I had studied Magic with him, I had come to think of him as my master, and was disturbed that he could so blithely pass me along to another as he would a milk cow. Apparently, my status is not much better than livestock; now that I have been “fattened” on a brief diet of Hermetic Lore and Magic Theory, I am to be used to pay a debt to a maga at this covenant, whom I have not met, named Sonya.

Sonya’s sanctum was on the other side of the covenant from Johannes, and I saw him grimace as he stopped in the doorway bearing her marker to call out to the maga inside. “Enter, Sodalis!” came the reply from within, in a deep, melodic tone. A fire burned brightly in a brazier in the center of the room, a table on one side holding various books and jars, and the opposite table containing weapons of various design. Mistress Sonya stepped from around the fire, and I blushed brightly upon realizing she wore nothing but bright red tattoos across her arms and breast. The marks glowed brightly in the firelight, but no less brightly or hotly than my own face. She was tall and her skin was the deep brown of old leather, but appeared smooth as newly tanned calfskin, and the hair was completely shaved from her head. Growing up in the monastery, I had no opportunity to talk to and scant opportunity to even see girls or women, and it had taken me over a month to talk to any of the other women in the covenant. To be confronted with this woman, in this state, was surely sinful! The harlot looked at me flatly with large dark eyes, then at Johannes, and finally back to me.

“This is what you bring me? A fledgling priest, still wearing his monk’s habit? After all I have done for you, Johannes?” She circled around me, a cat stalking a mouse.

“He is well-educated, and knows Latin. I have taught him the rudiments of magic and the history of the Order, as we agreed.” Johannes sounded like he wanted to be elsewhere.

“Tell me, monk,” she stopped in front of me, “how old are you?”

I closed my eyes and swallowed the bile that rose in my throat. I could not have taken half a step forward without touching her. I opened my eyes, but continued to stare into the fire. “This Christmas shall be my eighteenth.”

Sonya looked me in the eye for a moment. “Then I shall have much to learn from you!” She smiled widely at Johannes then, showing her brilliantly white teeth in an expression I would come to learn meant she was both pleased and issuing a challenge.

She suddenly placed her palm on my forehead. I flinched from her touch, and said a silent prayer, asking God for both His forgiveness and His protection. Her hand remained firmly on my head, her fingers warm against my own shaved scalp, and I closed my eyes, remembering a similar gesture from Father Aelfric both when he accepted my vows as a monk, and when he released me from those vows. She removed her hand from my forehead and I opened my eyes to find Johannes gone, and Sonya standing several paces away, now clothed in a long deep blue tunic, marked with the same symbols that adorned her body.

“Tell me, Abelard,” she spoke quickly, looking at me intently, the smile gone. I forced myself to meet her eyes. She paused, then spoke deliberately, like Brother Joseph instructing the younger boys, “What do you see?”

She again circled around me, as I described the contents of the room. Her tunic had become a darker shade of blue when she again faced me. She nodded and repeated the question, “What do you see?”

She continued to circle, her tunic and the symbols across the sleeves and breast growing darker, as she continued to ask the question, and I continued to describe in more detail the items in the room. Each time, the question took on more urgency, as she asked it over and over, “What do you See?” Her face began to glow like that of the Abbot during the consecration. I stopped in mid-sentence at this, and gaped, silently.

Sonya looked at me for a moment, then smiled that pleased, challenging smile.

The next months passed by quickly, as I assisted Sonya in her laboratory, completely engrossed in the activities as I had been in Brother Matthew’s Infirmary or in the Scriptorium, but never during prayer. She asked me questions while I dissected owl pellets; she asked me questions while I made copies of a note; she asked me questions while I sorted herbs and seeds, and while I stirred the contents of jars, and while I scraped old ink from parchment. Many of the questions seemed nonsense, some caused me to laugh, others were about my previous life, and I told my mistress of my experiences growing up in the monastery, and of how I could smell the sweetness of the altar or hear the thoughts of others. She instructed me about living aptly, sounding surprisingly like Brother Joseph instructing the novices on morality. I ached from the work and from the mental strain.

When the days began to warm, Sonya told me that I was ready to be opened, but that she wanted to proceed carefully so as not to disturb my already awakened abilities. She cleared the floor of the lab, and offered me a cup of some liquid she had spent days brewing with herbs I did not recognize. The smell was at the same time both sweet and pungent, like the incense burned at a funeral mass. I wrinkled my nose, moving the cup away. “My sweet monk,” she said, first using a name for me that I would hear over and over as I grew in power. “My sweet monk, fear not.” She bade me sit on the floor in the middle of the lab, while she drew the outline of a labyrinth around me using different colored chalks. I entered a trance from which I did not completely waken for many hours. When I returned to this world, Sonya asked me “What do you See?” and I knew she did mean the laboratory this time. I described the deliberate graceful movements I saw her make as she walked the labyrinth slowly, slowly back to me in the center to ask me the question.

For many weeks, she had me walk the labyrinth, alone or with her, or drink the potion or both drink and walk, sending me into trances where I beheld visions both disturbing and awesome. I cannot recall most of what I saw, except for the more mundane images: I saw myself walking through a forest; I flew with a flock of doves; I held conversations with someone who was at the same time Father Aefric, Brother Matthew, and the frightening Bishop Hatto. Each time I recovered my worldly senses, Sonya would ask me, “What do you See?” and I would describe the visions to her, their memory mostly fading in the telling. The last vision, however, is forever engraved in my mind. I walked along the edge of a cliff, the depths hidden in mist, and Sonya was walking with me, holding my hand, first on one side, holding me back from the edge, then on the other, pulling me toward it. She smiled at me and called me her sweet monk, and I realized that I was with child, a new life growing within me, pressing on my back and on my hips. My belly swelled over an endless time, but passing in moments. Finally, I groaned with the agony of birth pangs, echoing the groans coming from Sonya, who was also laboring to give birth and hugging me closely. I closed my eyes, feeling the pressure from within me strengthen even as Sonya’s grasp completely engulfed and compressed me from without. I tried to cry out from the crushing pain, but no air came to my lungs, and I pressed outward with my legs as the pressure increased, until finally, Sonya gave birth to me, and I cried out with the joy of the feel of the air, of the sound of my own breath, of the light brighter than my eyes could see. Sonya wiped the fluid from my face and I awoke from the dream, to see the laboratory in minute detail, every crack on the wooden table legs, every pore in the stones of the wall. The floor suddenly contained more variations of color than I had ever imagined, I could smell the different chalks outlining the labyrinth, and I could feel the tickle from every hair on Sonya’s skin against mine as she held me close in the center of the pattern.

“What do you See?” she asked again.

“Everything,” I breathed.

She smiled. “Then it is time to begin.”

1183 Studies at Durenmar then travels to the new covenant and sets up his lab. (2 seasons of lab work) 10 Vi. Aging roll: 8 (die roll) + 5 (age) - 2 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1182 Returns to Durenmar to prepare for the new covenant founding. 10 Re, 10 Vi, 6 MT, 4 Parma Magica. Aging roll: 0 (die roll) + 5 (age) - 2 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1.

1181 Remains at Laach Abbey, investigating possible covenant sites. Continues Correspondence with Petronius. 10 Teaching, 10 Artes Liberales, 5 French, 5 Second Sight. Aging roll: 7 (die roll) + 4 (age) - 0 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1180 Spends the first part of the year at Durenmar, then travels to Laach Abbey to begin researching covenant locations. 10 MT, 5 Area Lore: Koblenz, 10 Scribe, 5 Second Sight. Aging roll: 2 (die roll) + 4 (age) - 0 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1179 Spends the first part of the year at Triamore, then travels to Durenmar with Petronius for the Tribunal Meeting. 10 In, 7 Order of Hermes Lore, 6 Enigmatic Wisdom, 6 Parma Magica. Aging roll: 4 (die roll) + 4 (age) - 2 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1178 Remains at Triamore and meets Petronius. 10 Cr, 10 MT, 5 Re, 5 Vi. Aging roll: 6 (die roll) + 4 (age) - 2 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1177 Travels to Rhine Tribunal as peregrinator, staying at Triamore. Begins correspondence with Petronius. 10 In, 10 Vi, 5 Scribe, 5 French Aging roll: 3 (die roll) + 4 (age) - 1 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1176 Works with Johannes as a lab assistant for one season in payment for a longevity ritual. Johannes has Cr 22, Co 17, MT 6, Int +1, Aura +3; Aedituus adds MT 5+1 and Int +2. Lab Total for Aedituus Longevity Ritual is 57 (+12 on aging rolls). (2 seasons of lab work) Studies: 10 Me. Aging roll: 6 (die roll) + 4 (age) - 2 (conditions) – 12 (LR): no apparent aging. Warping +1

1175 Studying. 10 Re, 10 Cr, 10 MT

1174 Remains at home covenant with his own lab after passing his gauntlet, studying. 10 Vi, 10 Co, 5 In, 5 Enigmatic Wisdom

Aedituus ex Criamon, filius Sonya

Characteristics: Int +2, Per +1, Pre 0, Com +2, Str 0, Sta +1, Dex 0, Qik -1
Size: 0
Age: 33
Decrepitude: 0 (0)
Warping Score: 0 (0)
Confidence Score: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: The Gift, Hermetic Magus, The Enigma, Affinity with Magic Theory, Book Learner, Educated, Gentle Gift, Puissant Mentem, Second Sight, Sense Holiness and Unholiness, Student of the Divine; Deficient Perdo, Noncombatant, Pious (minor), Restriction (must be tonsured daily), True Love (NPC: Sonya, minor) Weird Magic

Personality Traits: Patient +1, Impulsive +2

Abilities: Artes Liberales (ceremonial magic) +3, Awareness (alertness) +2, Britain Lore (History) +1, Charm (first impressions) +1, Chirurgy (setting bones) +1, Church Lore (politics) +2, Civil and Canon Law (monastic laws) +1, Code of Hermes (mundane relations) +1, Concentration (reading) +3, Criamon Lore (personalities) +1, Dominion Lore (saints) +2, Enigmatic Wisdom +1, Folk Ken (clergy) +2, French (slang) +2, Guile (lying to authority) +1, Latin (Hermetic usage) +5, Magic Theory (Creo) +5, Medicine (physician) +1, Native Language, English (medical vocabulary) +5, Order of Hermes Lore (history) +2, Parma Magica (Mentem) +1, Penetration (Mentem) +2, Profession: Scribe (neat work) +4, Second Sight (ghosts) +1, Sense Holiness/Unholiness (good) +2, Teaching (Latin) +2, Theology (heresy) +1.

Arts: Cr 8, In 2, Mu 3, Pe 0, Re 3, An 0, Aq 0, Au 2, Co 3, He 1, Ig 0, Im 2, Me 7, Te 0, Vi 7

Circular Ward Against Demons ReVi10 CT: 11+aura+die
Disguise of the Transformed Image (Range: Personal) MuIm10 CT:6+aura+die
Wizard's Sidestep ReIm10 CT:7+aura+die
Charge of the Angry Winds CrAu15 CT:11+aura+die
The Chirurgeon's Healing Touch CrCo20 CT:15+aura+die
Wizards Communion MuVi20 CT:11+aura+die
Lift the Dangling Puppet ReCo15 CT:7+aura+die
Confusion of the Numbed Will ReMe15 CT:11+3+aura+die
Circle of Beast Warding ReAn5 CT:4+aura+die

Abelard stood to the side in the great nave, grateful that his height allowed him to see the high altar, even if he could not hear the Latin being intoned by the priest in the sanctuary. He peered over the heads of those around him, at the round, jovial man. Father Honorus understood and spoke Latin well, unlike many of the others who simply repeated the sounds they had memorized. Abelard did not need to hear the actual words, pronounced well or not; his many years in the monastery enabled him to read every action Father Honorus performed.

The next part of the Christmas mass would take a while, with his favorite part, the consecration, still far off. Abelard allowed his mind to wander, contemplating Sonia’s latest riddle: The master and her apprentice walked along the rocky sea shore for a time, and then stood on a promontory as the tide rolled in. Soon, the water surrounded them, the crashing waves cutting off their perch from the rest of the shore. The master announced that it was time for the apprentice to return to their sanctum. The apprentice replied with great apprehension, “But mistress, I do not know how to swim!” The master smiled at the apprentice, cast a small spell and disappeared. What did the apprentice do? Abelard’s first reply was that the apprentice waited for the tide to recede. This led to a lively debate with Sonia about the need for patience and the importance of the apprentice following the wishes of his master. Fearful that the discussion would lead to Sonia refusing to allow him to attend Christmas mass after all, Abelard quickly offered additional answers: The apprentice would quickly learn to swim or the apprentice would drown. Sonia smiled one her challenging smiles at this, and Abelard quickly found himself ensnared in a long discussion on the nature and power of the Inspiratos. Now, standing among the Christmas worshippers, having heard the Creation Story and the story of Noah and the Great Flood, Abelard wondered whether the vast waters mentioned in Genesis might not also be an image of the ocean of magical energy. “Both Father Honorus and Mistress Sonia would have something to say about my blasphemous hide,” he thought, ducking his head to hide his smile.

Edgar nudged Abelard in the side as a murmur passed through the crowd beginning at the back of the nave, and ending at the front with the monks in the choir singing joyous “alleluias”. Abelard raised his head to see tall candles raised high as the monks carrying them make their way up the main aisle, followed by others holding aloft a small platform on which rested a statue of the Child. Closing his eyes, Abelard breathed in the scent of the pine boughs and the incense, the scent of the crowd around him and the beeswax candles in the procession. He concentrated for a moment, and opened his eyes to See the entire church filled with light. Despite the midnight darkness outside, the stained glass Nativity window appeared to glow as if the noon sun shone directly behind it. It seemed as if a thousand angelic voices joined those of the earthly choir, in glad and soaring harmonies. Abelard smiled, whispered a prayer of thanks, and let his Sight slide back. The monks installed the Child in a manger on the side altar, illuminated only by mundane candles, but no less glorious in its simplicity.

Another elbow in his side, Abelard looked down at his companion. “I wish I had your height, brother,” Edgar whispered hoarsely. Abelard smiled at the younger man, “We can stay behind after the mass to look upon the Holy Family, if you wish.” Edgar scowled happily. “At the rate his holiness is going, the Child will be nearly as old as you by the time this mass finishes.” An elderly woman dressed in black hissed through missing teeth at the whisperers. Edgar rolled his eyes and leaned back against the stone column reaching up to the vaulted ceiling. Abelard smiled again, and raised a long finger to his thin lips as Father Honorus returned to the pulpit for the next prayer.

Abelard had known Edgar for two years now, after Sonia had assigned the youth to keep an eye on her apprentice, once she had determined he could barely defend himself by mundane means. Abelard saw no shame in this, and indeed secretly took pride in the fact that as a mere apprentice he already had his own shield grog. Of course, the fact that he was still an apprentice at the age of 24, and would still be so for many more years prevented that pride from becoming sinful. Abelard's age did chafe a bit. When he first met Edgar, the younger man was not yet 18, younger still than Abelard when he began his apprenticeship. The one other apprentice, Thomas, who arrived at the covenant shortly after Abelard, was ten years younger than the former monk. He would most likely be a magus when he grew to be the age Abelard was now. Still, the grogs did seem to defer to Abelard more than they did Thomas, and almost as much as they did the magi. Almost. Maybe it was because of his age. Maybe it was because Abelard insisted on wearing his monk’s robe and tonsure. That was certainly why Edgar would often refer to him as “brother”. Still, Abelard was grateful for Edgar’s presence, and not just because of his physical prowess. Edgar had also demonstrated some skill at games like Chess or Fox and Geese, and proved to be an excellent storyteller. Of course, early on he delighted in telling stories to make Abelard blush, but grew to appreciate the apprentice’s sense of humor and quick skill with games.

The mass ended and the pair walked out into the cold night air, Abelard with his hands tucked into his sleeves, Edgar striding purposefully at his side. They had arranged for lodging with a smith on the edge of town, and the brisk walk kept them warm, except for the end of Abelard’s long nose and the small bits of ice that clung to what passed for Edgar’s beard. They would need to sleep only a few hours and be on their way by dawn in order to return to the covenant by midafternoon tomorrow. “Not that I mind the time away from the covenant, brother, but pinch me if I know why your mistress lets you attend mass. Most wizards avoid the churchy acts.” Abelard smiled, “It’s only for Christmas and Easter, but I have to agree with you; why she encourages me to go is a riddle I have yet to puzzle out.”

Abelard stared at the perfect red rose he had created. Each petal, perfectly formed, was the color of the blood which until a moment ago had been rushing from the wound. Sonia laughed, her quick “Hah!” followed by “Again, monk, and be careful with your gestures this time!” Abelard held his concentration a moment longer, amazed at what he had wrought. One little botched finger movement, and he had felt the magic rush through like an uncontrolled flood. The spell had worked, stopping the bleeding, but the result was not the clean wound he and his mistress had discussed, but this horribly beautiful rose. It felt wet and alive, as Abelard touched a petal with his finger, then dissolved into the renewed flow of blood as he released his concentration. Taking a moment to regain his breath, Abelard studied the single bleeding wound that Sonia had opened in the side of the corpse she had created on the worktable. The blood was starting to pool next to the body. He gathered his thoughts and again began the spell to stop the bleeding.

This was not the first time that Abelard’s spellcasting produced odd effects. Usually, the spell he was attempting utterly failed when what Sonia called “side effects” happened. The first time had been during candle-lighting practice shortly after Sonia had opened his arts. She had spent a season teaching him about the technique of Creo, and had decided to show him how to construct a spell without first learning it. The first week of trying to light the candle resulted in nothing, not even a wisp of smoke, despite the exertions that had brought sweat to Abelard brow. He had felt more winded than the time he had to run to avoid being late to Matins. Arriving a moment late anyway, and sitting there breathing heavily Abelard worried about the wrath he would suffer from Brother Joseph the next day. Sitting in front of the stubbornly unlit candle and once again out of breath, Abelard realized he did not fear Sonia’s wrath. Despite her imposing figure, and severe visage, she was a surprisingly gentle teacher. Abelard ran his hands through his curling blonde hair, still amazed to find hair covering the spot on his scalp that had for so long been shaved close in the tonsure.

Sonia looked at her apprentice quizzically. “For a week now, monk, you have tried and failed to light that candle. After each attempt, you touch the new grown hair on your head and frown.” Abelard looked at his mistress, not sure how or even if he should respond. She frowned, cocking her head to one side and narrowing her eyes, and Abelard suddenly wondered if she might not be more like Brother Joseph than he had been thinking. “Don’t move,” she barked, producing one of the wickedly sharp knives from her belt. “Sweet Lord, preserve me!” Abelard thought, closing his eyes in anticipation of the blow, remaining still, nonetheless. Sonia grabbed him by the hair, and Abelard opened his eyes in surprise as she quickly shaved the top of his head, renewing the lost tonsure. “Again,” she stated, pointing at the candle with her knife. Abelard focused his thinking as she had taught him, on the wick, the feel of the air, the position of the shadows on the floor, and spoke the words, moving his hands in precise motions and the small flame appeared just as he had imagined. “So, my sweet monk,” Sonia grunted, “it seems your Gift actually appreciates your monkishness.” She used the flame from the candle to set fire to the hair she had cut from his head. “We shall have to explore this further.”

The side-effect had happened later that day. Abelard knew he had botched the casting, even has he felt the magic leave his fingertips and enter the candle he touched. The wick did not catch, but the wax immediately flowed onto his hand, curving into arched blade-shapes, reminiscent of the tattoos that adorned Sonia’s hands. “Not if I can help it,” the maga muttered. She grabbed Abelard’s hand, said a few words and the wax turned to dust and disappeared.

Candle-lighting practice had not ended there, of course. Sonia had Abelard continue the exercise in various positions and situations. “You will need to spontaneously cast spells at different times of the day, both indoors and out, in rain, sunshine, and darkness. If you cannot cast spells without your tonsure, I will be sure that no other condition restricts your Gift.” Abelard practiced not only the candle lighting, but also filling a bowl with water and creating rose petals, the sound of bells, and handfuls of sand. Occasionally, he would make mistakes and the spell might fail, but every once in a while, a small error in the casting would result in a nearly uncontrolled rush of magic and odd results would occur. One time while creating water in the wooden bowl, Abelard knew the spell had gone wrong, but still felt the magic coursing into the bowl he touched. He and Sonia watched as the bowl turned to water, collapsed to the workbench, and reverted back to wood. Abelard gaped, not knowing what to say. “We shall need a new bowl,” Sonia stated as she collected the oddly flattened version to another worktable for study. She spent the next week studying the bowl and Abelard’s spellcasting to determine the cause of the weird effect.

Another time, Abelard was practicing the bell sound. He knew immediately that he had said one of the words incorrectly. The spell still worked, but the sound he produced was so discordant he immediately released his concentration. Unfortunately, one piercing ring continued to peal at apparently random intervals, disrupting any chance to focus for long periods, like the time one of the boys in the monastery had hiccups during Lauds, and all the other novices could barely sing the psalms as they anticipated the next body-shaking and amazingly funny “hic!” The random bell pealing was not nearly as hilarious, and after less than an hour, Sonia stood up, her eye twitching, and announced that she was going to the Library for the day, while Abelard was to stay behind and “clean something”. While sunset brought release from the errant spell, Abelard’s dreams were haunted by novice monks with bells for heads, randomly ringing as they went about their daily chores.

“Abelard, I must leave you for a time once Spring arrives.” A sadness filled Sonya’s usually fierce tone. “I will leave you with several spells to learn, and you should bother Johannes if you have questions.” A sly smile crept across her face. “He has not had the benefit of asking or answering the questions of others for too long.”

“Where will you be going, Magistra?” Several spells meant that Sonya would be gone for many months, and Abelard had felt her previous absences keenly.

“That is a riddle with many answers, my sweet monk. For now, your answer must be that it is someplace where you may not follow.” The command in her voice stung, and he turned back to the workbench, unwilling to admit how much he would miss her, and how much it hurt to have her again issue commands as if he were a new ten-year-old apprentice and not a 28-year-old man, ten years into his apprenticeship. She remained in the lab, standing behind him for a moment more, then turned and left abruptly. Amid the swishing of her robe, Abelard thought he heard her whisper, “My path may depend upon it.”

“What are you working on, Magistra?” Abelard tried to see over the maga’s shoulder, but she quickly covered the parchment with a blank sheet. She had been writing the book for over a season now, but refused to allow her apprentice to view the work.

“You already know a shallow answer, sweet monk, so let me give you a deeper answer.” Sonya turned toward her apprentice, the bright red tattoos visible just above her collar. Abelard winced in sympathy for the pain those newest markings must have caused, still bright after three years. “I write about a decision, about holding steady.” She stroked Abelard’s cheek, her hand running down his neck and his arm. Then, clutching his wrist, she leaned close and whispered in his ear, “and about taking action.”

Abelard felt the heat rise on his own neck, and closed his eyes. “Sonya …” He reached to touch her cheek in return. In the last year, she had begun to treat him, not quite as an equal, but certainly as something more than a mere apprentice. His respect for her had deepened in response, and he felt like a bell thrumming in response to the pealing of its twin.

“Not yet, sweet monk. We still have much to learn from each other, and I am yet your mistress.” Sonya stood up. “I have another riddle for you, not yet the last, but close, I think.” Abelard caught his breath at the promise in her voice.

“A magus walked along a road, and came upon a farmer crying over a shallow grave. ‘Why do you cry?’ asked the magus. ‘My wife has died,’ replied the farmer, tears rolling down his cheeks, ‘and I will not see her again in this life.’ The magus smiled, and wiped away one of the tears and replied, ‘Nor will you need to.’” Sonya looked expectantly at Abelard.

“The road continues on,” he answered, “and the farmer does not need his wife to walk down the road. And surely, they will be reunited in Heaven.”

“A monk’s answer, and correct, but continue.”

“The tears are also important, as they are made of water and salt. As salt dissolves in water, and loses its substance, it changes the taste and properties of the water. Just so, the farmer’s wife has become part of him, through his memory, changing him even though she herself is lost.”

“A deeper answer. You see quickly and clearly. Continue thinking on this while you continue to study, sweet monk.”

Abelard opened his eyes as the dawn sun crept from the ceiling to the wall opposite his window. He had been awake for some time, but knowing that dawn was at hand, remained in bed, awaiting the familiar feel of Sonya’s parma magica to resettle around him. She herself seemed to be avoiding him the last few weeks, and he found himself reveling in the twice daily feel of something that was so intimately her envelop him. Abelard felt the time of his apprenticeship ending, and looked forward to the final riddle with both excitement and dread. He knew he was ready to accept the responsibilities of a member of the Order, but in so doing would need to leave his beloved Sonya. The last several years had seen a deepening of their relationship, but Abelard had never spoken of his feeling, and now feared that Sonya would distance herself from him once he became a magus. She had not spoken to him in the last several months, and over the last seven days he had not seen her at all. The dawn light slipped a little further on the wall, and Abelard realized that he was still waiting to feel Sonya’s parma; she had not included him this morning, and he quivered in anticipation of what the day might bring. He quickly took a razor to the stubble on the top of his head, then conjured warm water into his basin and splashed some on his face, waiting a moment for the spell and water to dissipate. Running a hand through his curls, and feeling the reassuring near smoothness of his tonsure, Abelard left his room and entered the laboratory.

The lab had been changed overnight, worktables moved to the sides, and an intricate labyrinth similar only to one he had seen there fifteen years ago was marked on the floor in various colors of chalk. Sonya stood at the center. Abelard’s heart fluttered as he saw her amazing, challenging smile. He breathed deeply, focused himself, and began walking the slow, deliberate path to the center. As he walked, memories flooded through his mind: his last days with Brother Matthew in the Infirmary, his trip with Johannes and his first meeting with Sonya, the vivid dream when his arts were opened; myriads of moments from his apprenticeship sweeping over him, yet his steps remained steady with Sonya firmly at the center. Upon reaching her, he looked into her eyes and waited.

“I have a riddle for you, Apprentice.” Sonya circled around Abelard while he remained perfectly still. “What do you See?”

Abelard waited for Sonya to complete her circuit, and again looked into her eyes. “Magistra,” he breathed, “I see everything, yet not enough.”

Sonya smiled again, and opened her hand, revealing the lock of hair she had cut from Abelard’s head fifteen years earlier. She waved her other hand over the connection, whispered two words, and the hair caught fire and disintegrated to dust almost instantly. She leaned toward Abelard, and he gasped at her nearness. Putting her mouth close to his ear, she whispered four words, then, stepped back. Abelard took a breath, then completed his own parma magica ritual for the first time.

“Magus Aedituus,” Sonya spoke firmly and smiled both her satisfaction and her challenge. May I pose another riddle?”

Despite her smile, Aedituus noticed fear in Sonya’s eyes. His heart racing, he nodded his assent.

“An old maga planted a rose bush in her garden, its roots deep in the rich soil, and waited. For what does she wait?”

“The maga wonders,” Aedituus smiled, “if the bush will grow flowers or thorns.” He took a step toward Sonya. “I am likely to grow both.”

A shadow crossed Sonya’s face, but her smile did not waver. Aedituus took her hands in his and continued, “But I have a deeper answer as well.

“The maga waits, wondering if the rain will nourish her rose before it withers, if the sun will kiss its petals before it fades.” He leaned in and, kissing her gently, whispered, “Yes, and yes.”

Aedituus and Sonya were married shortly after his gauntlet was officially recognized by the quaesitores. Their wedding was first witnessed by a local priest, then the pair traveled to the Rhine tribunal to meet Sonya’s mystagogue in the caves near Laacher See. There, in a cave that contained a steaming pool, where hot gasses met the cooling water, Sonya and Aedituus again took their vows marking both their wedding and Sonya’s next step on the Path of Strife. As part of the ceremony, the mystagogue wound a living vine around the pair, which left new tattoos across Sonya’s shoulder, and around Aedituus’ wrists. As a wedding gift, Sonya gave Aedituus a Rego Summa she had written, “On Movement and Stillness” in which she had also provided annotations which comprise a Criamon Lore tractatus. Aedituus gave Sonya another lock of his hair.