An Uncomfortable Truth (Summer 1240)

This is a thread to deal with Lucas' reporting to Harco of the existence of two unknown Gifted Mercere twins who have been raised by Vulcanus.

It's been barely a week since Lucas and the others returned from Asgard and the party with the gods is finally over. At long last it's time for him to report what he's learned to House Mercere. So it is that he gets on his formal clothes and makes the quick hop from Andorra to Harco. After greeting the redcaps at the portal, he makes his way to the main building and approaches Insatella's secretary.

"Good morning, Sarah," he says in a friendly voice. "Cecelia told me your eldest was accepted into Redcap training. Congratulations. You and John must be very proud." He smiles at the secretary. "I know I don't have an appointment, but I have some very important news to report to the primus. If there's any way I can get in to see her today, that would be wonderful. If I can't, I can come back. What I have to say is extremely important, but it's not urgent. If she can't see me today, I can schedule another time to speak with her. But speak with her I must, whether now or later."

Lucas is invited on in. Keep in mind that this is about two years before Intastella's [strike]murder[/strike] suicide. So I may use this opportunity to forshadow and drop clues that mean nothing now but everything latter.

"Primus," Lucas says with a bow to Insatella. "Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I've discovered some information that will be if great interest to House Mercere, and cause no small amount of trouble, I suspect. I wanted to give the information to you first so that we might keep this matter from getting out of hand. I know my own reaction was quite extreme when I heard about what happened. It took me some time to calm down. I want to make sure that the information gets out in a measured way and doesn't cause trouble."

"The basic facts are that Enrique Rudolphius, a redcap of from Iberia, fathered a pair of Gifted twin girls that were not discovered by House Mercere, but who were instead claimed by Vulcanus of Verditius and raised, somehow, as ex Miscellanea apprentices. The twins are about halfway through their apprenticeships now and have been taken from Vulcanus by two Bonisagus magi, Cornelius and Fleur. Both of the twins have expressed an opinion that they do not "want" to be Mercere magi, for what it's worth. Frankly, Vulcanus did a terrible job raising them, and I'm afraid to say that they're both spoiled brats."

"There's more to the story, of course. Much more. But those are the salient facts. I should add that Rudolphius allegedly had the children after having a longevity ritual, somehow having it reversed. The twins allege that House Mercere performed the reversal and that we have had that capability for some time. Also, the twins have been raised in Asgard for the last several years. And I'm not entirely certain whether Vulcanus spent the requisite two seasons a year teaching his apprentices. He's apparently left them mostly on their own with a good library so they've learned quite a bit. But as to whether that training included the one-on-one training required by the Code, I couldn't say at this point."

"So that's where things stand. Gifted twins, by all that's Holy. And they were born to House Mercere. But somehow we failed to find them and they were claimed and raised by the worst sort of magus to have disregard for the house of their own blood."

Will respond again soon. Just a few small corrections. Vulcanus was raising them as Flambeau magi. I just used an Ex-Misc desing standard to account for the Extra V&Fs they acquired in the Magic Realm. Which was only the span of a single year (four seasons). And I had always thought the training standard was only one season per year.
[color=brown]I have heard it said that a Mutantes can reverse a Longevity Potion that he had created in the first place. But I have never known such a thing to actually happen!
Where do I know that name from? I think he is Rodrigo's cousin? Yes, one of the predecessors of your office. Part Irish, part Italian, and part womanizing bastard son of a bitch! He broke my heart back before the turn of the century. I thought he was dead. Or at least I hoped as much. Where is he now? And where are these little girls now? This is unacceptable. And I never thought such a thing was possible. I want to meet these children. Can you bring me to them?
And who is Vulcanus?

Ah, I misunderstood.

As I understand it's one season of one-on-one teaching per year per apprentice. That means if you have two apprentices, you need to give them each their own season, Teaching them both in the same season doesn't count. (See the section on Multiple Apprentices on p. 17 of HOH:TL.)

"I'm a Mutantes myself," Lucas replies. "And I never heard of anything about that before. It seems like it could be an extension of harnessing, but that's only a theory. If that is the case, then I'll have to have a long talk with Talbot to see what he can tell me."

"For all I know, Rudolphius might well be dead by now. His girls are at least in their late teens. The twins didn't mention him except as an absent parent. We didn't talk to Vulcanus for a variety of reasons, the simplest of which was that he wasn't home when we visited. So I only have it second hand that he's their father, and the conditions of him and their mother giving the twins up. Still, if there's even a chance that it's true I felt it had to be investigated. I'm particularly troubled that Rudolphius kept the children from the House. I almost wish he was alive so that he could face his just rewards for that action."

"I can bring you to see Cornelius and Fleur. However, the decision as to whether you can see the twins is not ultimately mine to make. According to the Code, they have both been claimed as apprentices, one by Cornelius, and one by Fleur. By right, the girl's actions are controlled entirely by their new masters. I'll ask, and I suspect that they'll both agree. Fleur is a member of my own covenant and should be accommodating. Cornelius is a quaesitor and seemed sympathetic to our situation. But the decision is ultimately thiers to make."

"As for Vulcanus, he's a Verditus magus of the Valdarian lineage. That's why he was raising the twins as Flambeau magi. He's also a ..." Lucas struggles for the right word without getting vulgar, "...a selfish, arrogant, and very difficult person, to say the least. He's left a trail of enemies in his wake, no small number in my own covenant, which he was a member of for a time. He's now ostensibly a member of Waddenzee covenant, though he's living in Asgard. Heaven knows what that's doing to him."

[color=brown]It has been almost fifty yers since I spoke to either of them. They were twin brothers born from a long line of a prestegious Redcap cln. The Rudolphius family. They were both gingers. Erique, that's the one you are talking about I believe. He settled in Andorra in your little Redcap village you have. I lost track of him after that.
The brother, Randal. He was a gentleman. Redcap Master in Provencal. Perfect gentleman and devoted family man. He waited until he was almost sixty before taking longevity. He had a single child first. A daughter the named Mercuria. The same maga who is now a high priestess at Doisettep. Or Aedas Mercuri. Whatever they are calling it nowadays.
These twin apprentices will be of interest to her, as they are her first cousins. Poor woman, she has never been the same since her mother passes several years past. She became even more withdrawn. A little colder. Knowing she still has living close kin that are also Gifted should lift her spirits. Go to Doisettep and tell Mercuri I sent you. Use the portal here. Tell her she is to go with you to meet your Fleur and investigate the one girl. I shall inquire with Chief Mistress Tiana about contacting this Cornelius.

"It shall be as you say," Lucas replies with a nod. "I'll leave immediately. Best we get this matter settled quickly. I can't guarantee that Cornelius, Fleur, or the twins will keep quiet about the twins' origins. And if this matter becomes general knowledge among members of the House before we have our ducks in a row, things might get messy."

"What do you think is the best way to release this information? It's bound to get out sooner or later. Better we control the information release ourselves. And then there's the matter of Vulcanus. What's to be done about him? Letting this matter proceed without him feeling some consequences would just be a signal to magi in the future that taking Gifted Mercere will go unpunished."

"One other thing before I depart, however. Given what this revalation means. I'd like to have access to some of the House records on previous attempts to discover the nature of the Gift. I intend to do some of my own resarch into how attributes such as the Gift are transferred to children. Notes from previous attempts might give me the inspiration I need to discover something useful."

[color=brown]I am not sure what you mean. We cannot release information that is already out, nor can we silence the spread of truth. It is what it is. Let the others of our House cope with the knowledge as they receive it, and take a lesson to be both more vigilant and dilligent. Then when it somes to this Vulcanus, I do not think there is anything we can do. Not legally or officilly anyway. We are not a very martial house. Aside from a handful of heros and adventurers, there is no combat potential. One can try something more insidious or hire a champion. But that is up to the individual and I can not be seen having any part in that.
When it comes to your new magic goals, I wish you the best and will be interested to hear of any results. But that line of research is not one of my interests. Nor is keeping track of what others study. Either one may drive you mad.
Harco has no such records. But you may with to check Durenmar.
And Mercuria. She is of the esoteric Cult of Mercury. They have a secret ritual that has yet to be proven. Mercuria was born of one they say. But that is but a rumor and I have heard there are many stories of failure and disaster. Another rumor. Make of which what you will.

Sorry, I had thought they did. Some time earlier you implied that House Mercere had genealogical records that could be used as a source of Insight in fertility magic. You'd said I might get them for Fleur to take a look at.

"It's true we're not strong when it comes to conflict," Lucas replies. "But we're not without our resources. We could blackball Vulcanus from the redcap network. No messages delivered, no vis traded, no special services done. It may not bother him but it would send a message to other magi in the Order that we're not just going to take an insult like this, legal as it may be, lying down."

"And I shall surely speak with Mercuria on this matter. It as just that I thought the House had genealogical information that might be of use in investigating Fertility magic. Don't we have centuries of records on who was born to whom, and what Gifted children resulted from the unions?"

[color=brown]Oh! Birth records we have. I thought you were talking about the records of the magical research that was done and experiments some may be engaging in. The geneologies are here at Harco and go back to the very founding. There are records on every member, family and outsider, maga and Redcap. Where they were born, who their parents were, what they are known for, who their children are and who they had them with, how they died when and where, and whatever else we can know.
It is far from comprehensive, and it is ever a work in progress as more research is done and information is gathered. The geneology library stands at over a hundred volumes by now.
But we don't keep magic recods here.
We do have the specialized texts and tomes we need to function. But nothing more complex. Sorry.
I was thinking Durenmar, because there was an experiment some forty or fifty years ago. Some Bonisagus, in the Alps I think? He was experimenting with a ritual, and he thought it worked and started a school. But after he was killed in a Lab accident, several of the students suddenly fell dead for no discernable reason.

I'll take what I can get at this point," Lucas replies. "Perhaps there will be some insight into my problem in those records ..."

"Interesting. I'll definitely look into that. If I can build on what was done before, perhaps I can avoid some of their mistakes."

He doesn't press the issue of Vulcanus' punishement. "It's just so frustrating," he exclaims, however. "We know that Vulcanus has done us a great wrong, though he made sure to follow the legalities. House Mercere does so much to keep the Order together. You'd think they'd at least respect our strained bloodline. I wish we could ... well, I wish he could get his just desserts for what he did."

"Then again, you probably have the right of it. Keep your hands clean and let the members of House Mercere do what they will to Vulcanus. You don't have to officially blackball him. The movement of letters and the trading of vis is all based on the initiative of the redcap network. And once word gets out about this, I doubt very much that many redcaps will want to deal with Vulcanus, so he won't get any visits, or his messages won't get carried. And if some members of the House get so incensed that they take additional action against him, well, that's their business, isn't it? He'll get some punishment in the end. But the House officially remains above it all." He smiles. "I suppose I still have a good bit to learn about politics."

"Now, if I may take your leave, I'll go to Dositepp to speak to Mercuria, as you requested." He bows once more to the prima.

Ah, and with others not serving Vulcanus, Rilcheaux can begin to work that route and look for informants...

The geneology library may sound daunting, but it won't be. Chief Archivist Master Redcap Justin Foote will provide you with much assistance. He can lead you straight to the commentaries and dig up summarized lists, and he can draft & copy with great speed & clarity.

As for sanctions, because of this and other issues, Intastella will eventually decide to black list all of Wadanzee. Vulcnus will not return to the terretrial realm for seven years, so he won't care. The other magi of Wadanzee have their own means of communication and they have plenty of mundane wealth & resources. However, lacking access to the Hermetic Market will start to hurt. So there is a vacuum to be exploited that indirectly leads to Vulcanus.
He's bound to show his face sooner or latter.

On to Doisettep...
The Covenant of Aedes Murcurri gets its nickname from having two important locations. The Dorsum is the main site, located some twenty leagues northwest of Andorra. This massive fortress is bult on top of and into a mountain, consisting of dozens of towers of ecclectic style, built and/or conjored atop or inplace of each other.
The Septum is hidden in a Regio. The physical location corresponds to a site only three leagues north of Andorra, but it is mgically closed off from the world and can only be accessed by a portal at the Dorsum. The Septum consists of an ornate Roam temple that they say was built nd used by the ancient cult of Mercury. But really it was created by Prianitus of Mercere to look old and weathered from the start.

As instructed, Lucas takes the portal from Harco directly to the Dorsum of Aedes Mercurii. From there, the Redcaps take him directly to Mercuria at the Septum, taking a special locked and guarded portal.
The place is elegant beyond my ability to write to describe justly. It is an open air temple over three hundred feet long. All about there are intricate columns and sculpture of advanced skill and fascinating detail. Wondrous beauty all around. All along the edge, in every curve and corner, there are altars dedicated to the myriad of Roman deities. The east end is called the holy of holies. The middle area contains gardens and benches and a fountain pool.

Lucas is awestruck looking around as he waits for Mercuria. She arrives much to soon and even startles Lucas, lost in beauty as he is.
Salve sodale. I am Mercuria Rudolphius, High Priestess of Ceres and Pontifex Minore of Aedes Mercurii. I have been informed you have urgent business from the Prima.
As formal as her words may be, her voice lacks weight and she comes off as mousy. She obviously lacks confidence in herself and her words, and is forcing herself to be official by sticking to the letter of the script for Hermetic Etiquette.
That is a freebie. Folk Ken roll for further insight :slight_smile:
Note that this takes place two years before "The Exarch", and I believe this is the first time Lucas has ever encountered Mercuria in direct face to face conversation.

Well, there are only about twelve of us Gifted magi in the House. So I figure that if we don't actually know each other, at least we know of each other. It's a pretty small list, and Lucas has been on that list for nearly twenty years.

Folk Ken Roll (+ Per?): Folk Ken + Per Check: 1D10+2 = [2]+2 = 4

I'm guessing he can tell nothing more.

"Mercuria," Lucas says with a smile, slipping into the casual nature of a small goup. "It's really quite beautiful here. You may be used to it by now, but it's my first trip here and I'm duly impressed. I wish I had more time to admire the temple. But important matters beckon, as you know."

"Thank you for seeing me so quickly. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. I've just come from speaking with Insatella, and she suggested that I make a trip here to speak with you." He's standing, having risen when she arrived. But he gestures to the bench he was sitting on while he waited. "Shall we have a seat. I'm not certain how long our discussion may take." If she sits, he joins her. But if she elects to remain standing, he won't let that stop him from telling her what he has to say.

"There are two related matters. One involves your research, the other involves your Uncle Enrique." Lucas pauses for a moment to consider how to say what's coming next. "I'll convey the second news first, since that will be of much greater import to you." He takes a deep breath. "It seems that unbeknownst to most of the Order, your Uncle Enrique had two children, twin girls, to be precise. He had them late in life - after his longevity ritual, as it happens; but that's another mstter - so they're still realtively young. They're also - and this is the shocking part - both Gifted. At present they're both apprenticed to different Bonisagus magi. It's a complicated situation that I'll explain to you in a moment. But the bottom line is that you have two Gifted cousins, and Insatella thought that you might want to meet one of them. As it happens, one is currently apprenticed to a magus in my covenant, and the Prima suggested that I take you to visit her. Would that be of interest to you?"

Twenty years ago there were only a dozen of you but there is close to twenty now. However, you are both old enough that you were both magi back when there was 12. It is reasonble to presume you all know of each other and many have met casually in gatherings. This is just your first one-on-one face-to-face encounter.

On a side note, Mercuria was a character created but never played by my friend Reik, who has written some Ars material. He did the 5th ed Mercere writeup. He knows the rules way better than I. So when I look at the Mercuria charcter sheet, I have no idea what he was planning. I just updated her ten years and took things in a different direction.

Mercuria's face lights up. :!: I have two cousins and a ...
I have two cousins! Another set of Rudolphius twins. Fascinating.
I never met my uncle Erique. Heard stories about him from my father. I was told he passed on when I was just new young maga. I had hopes of brining my mother back to Andorra, where she is from, meeting my uncle, and perhaps joining the covenant there. The Quarter there was in need of a Mercere maga at that time. It never worked out. I guess they gave you that spot. That is pretty much my role here. The managing Mercere.
I should mention Longevity potions. I am sort of a life specilist and have made seven rituals in the past ten years. And I am fine with that. I enjoy it actually. But some of the others are urging me to focus on the high end potions that profit our House, and I will need help with the in-house potions. Only three guys are due in the next five years.
whew! Glad I got that out of the way.
The daughters of uncle Err-REE-kay, eh?
I thought he was on Longevity. My father told me how they argued about that. Father waaited until he was in his forties and had me before starting treatment. Uncle Erique started vanity longevity when he was in his twenties.
Can I come meet with these twins? Are they gingers like me? Do they act all crazy like the stories of my uncle?
And I wonder how he did this. Having children after longevity that is.
It is ironic that I am a longevity specialist, for I have yet to benefit from my own work. I am waiting until I have children, and even without longevity my time is short. The others pressured me into marrying a Redcap, coincidentlly also named Lucas. But I hate him and won't let him touch me.

"I can help with longevity rituals," Lucas replies. "My strength is Muto, but my Creo and Corpus are competitive. I can make a tenth magnitude longevity ritual, in any case, if that's what you need."

"As near as I can tell, your uncle was on longevity, but somehow managed to put that on hold long enough to regain his fertility and have the twins. Any thoughts on how he did that? The twins say that House Mercere has a way of reversing longevity. Have you ever heard of that?"

"As for the twins, I can bring you to see one of them, Vera, if her mater allows. She's an apprentice, of course, so it's up to her mater whether you can see her or not. Fleur's generally pretty accommodating, though, so I hope it won't be a problem. But we will have to ask. Fleur is also from Andorra covenant, though her sanctum is in our chapter house in the Balearic Islands. That's why the prima suggested I take you to meet her. We can get there by portal and regio travel, however, so it's not a long trip."

"You have my sympathies in your marriage. I too am married to a Redcap, though I was fortunate enough to marry for love. We have four children, none with the Gift, I'm afraid."

OOC: I can't recall, are they gingers?

Yes, they are.

((The Rudolphius twins are gingers. And so are many Mercere, Redcaps and magi. Of every ethnicity. Whatever the average is accross Europeans (I think 5%), it is double amongst Scotts and Irish. It is double that amongst Mercere magi (4 out of the 20, counting Mercuria but not counting the twins yet. It is doubled gain amongst Redcaps, 20%ish.
This means nothing. I am just the books of Robert A Heinlien for inspiration; the Howard family, the lineage of Lazrus Long, and stuff like that).
Longevity cn expire, as is known. Many do not know it cn also be dispelled, but any magus can do tht if they invent the right spell. I think it would have to be specific to longevity, and it would have to be a ritual. But not necessarilly specific to the individual. You my need to take any alternate Rts into account, and the bse would have to exceed the magnitude.
But the resoration of Fertility is a different matter. It would require additional magic. Nothing stndrd Hermetic.
You should talk to the ancient and venerable grand potentate Ophillio of Mercere. He is a true master of Longevity magic, second to none. He looks old, but in truth is far older. Almost 200 he claims. And I believe it. He is long retired, but he lives here at the Dorsum. I can introduce you.
And I would love visit if you cn rrage it. Some time in the next year or two. No hurry. But I shall write her a letter.