Autumn 1221: A Visit to Harco

It's early in the fall when Constantine, [strike]and[/strike] Atolycus, and Artemis emerge into the still warm Italian air of Harco covenant. They have traveled by the Mercere portal network, allowing them to travel quickly, and so have made good time. They come by invitation to meet with the Prima of House Mercere about the founding of a Mercer House on New Atlantis.

Redcaps at the portal greet them and ask them their business in Harco.

Constantine smiles and bows "Greetings. We are Quaesitor Constantine ex Guernicus and Magus Atolycus ex Mercere, of New Atlantis here to meet with the Prima. "

Ooc: or whatever brief introduction will be polite and also let the Redcap know we are meant to be travelling and expected by their Primus. He's being very respectful of protocols. If Atolycus has a preferred or more formal title (?) Constantine would have used it.

Atolycus smiles and nods at Constantine's introduction. "Greetings brothers! As my esteemed companion has said, our lovely Prima has requested our presence, so we are here at her behest." He then proceeds to shake hands with his fellow Redcaps, introducing himself to those he had never met and catching up (albeit briefly) with those that he already knew. With each handshake comes an exquisitely carved wooden pawn that is given with a smile.

((OOC: Magus or Redcap are equally sufficient. And despite being on official business, Atolycus finds that it pays to, well... pay. He's giving a pawn of vim vis to each redcap stationed at the portals.))

The Redcaps greet the visiting magi politely, and are very appreciative of the pawns of vim they're given. Immediately they straighten up and become even more polite.

"Of course," they say when told of the reason for the group's visit. "We'll send for the Prima's secretary right away. In the meantime, can we offer you some wine?" As one Redcap takes you to a side room to wait, the other summons a servant to fetch someone to alert the Prima's office of your arrival.

The wine is good, as you'd expect in the north of Italy, and with it comes some fresh autumn fruit and bread. The wait is perhaps the third part of an hour, during which the Redcap, a nice fellow named Tomas, keeps up a lively conversation about the Order, the local covenant, and the surrounding area. At the end of the wait, an older gentleman, his hair just starting to silver, arrives in the waiting room.

"Good day to you," he says politely in Latin. "My name is Leonardo; I'm secretary to the Prima. She has been expecting you, but won't be free until this afternoon. Can I offer you a tour of Harco while you wait for her? Or would you prefer to retire to your rooms to rest? I'm not certain how arduous your travel has been."

"I'd certainly like a tour. This was hardly a difficult trip." Artemis says. She's wearing animal skins, and her talisman for attire.

Atolycus smiles at Tomas. "I certainly appreciate the offer, but I know Harco all too well. If you don't mind, I have some old friends that I'd like to catch up with." Bowing slightly, he excuses himself.

((Social Contacts Magi, plus what with this being the Redcap Domus Magna, I figure he knows plenty of folks. If you require a roll, let me know, but I can't imagine the need for one))

No roll needed. If he doesn't know people here, then where?

"I too would enjoy a tour. It has been many years since my last brief visit" replies Constantine.

While Atolycus goes to visit old friends, Leonardo gives Constantine and Artemis a tour of the covenant. He does so with grace and dignity, and if he feels any discomfort at Artemis' Gift, he gives no indication of the fact.

Harco the magi see is located in the hills of Piedmont, on a wooded hillside overlooking a village of the same name. It's clear from the beginning of the tour that the members of Harco live in the luxury that the covenant’s huge income allows. The main covenant building is a large square villa, surrounding a beautiful central courtyard. A winding trail leads up from Harco village, past orchards and vineyards, through a small wood that surrounds the Covenant, to the large bronze doors which have served as entrance to Harco since its foundation. As Harco has always maintained reasonably friendly relations with its neighbors, the covenant is not particularly well-fortified, and has numerous spacious balconies which offer a commanding view of the woods, vineyards and village below.

The two magi are shown the main meeting hall, the library, the gardens, and several of the more interesting outbuildings. It's a leisurely tour that takes well over an hour.

Once the tour is done, Atolycus rejoins them for a simple midday meal made of only the finest ingredients with some of the best wine any of them have tasted. As the magi are finishing the last jug of wine, Leonardo excuses himself, only to return a short while later informing the group that Insatella is free. They are then ushered upstairs to her solar where the Prima is awaiting them.

"Thank you for coming," she says politely. "Atolycus I know, and you must be Constantine," she offers him her hand. "And I gather you are Artemis." She maintains a polite smile, but there is a little strain behind it. "I'm so glad you could come."

"I've asked you here, as you may well know, to discuss the details of setting up a Mercer House in New Atlantis. You're far enough away from the rest of the Order that House Mercere would like to have a permanent presence on the island. And if you're to live up to your promise, there will be more than a few magi there before long. We'll need lines of communication open."

"But please, come in and sit down so that we can discuss the matter properly."

Artemis will come in and sit down. "I indeed am Artemis. I would love a Mercer House on the island. If this goes according to plan it will be nice for communication within the island. Plus a Mercer House will make getting stuff up and running a lot easier too."

"Thank you Prima, it is a pleasure. Our community has agreed without hesitation that a permanent Mercer house is highly desirable, and I can see many shared advantages. "
"Beyond that goal we will need the counsel of House Mercere for how that is best achieved. "

"Excellent," Insatella replies once everyone is seated. "I was hoping you'd be agreeable. I think a permanent presence of Redcaps on New Atlantis would be a boon to us both. Of course, agreeing in principle is one thing; hammering out the details is quite another. I have a proposal here." She picks up a sheet of parchment. "It sets out how we'd like things to start and how we'd like them to grow."

"As the start, we'd just need one Redcap on permanent duty in New Atlantis as a liaison. Others would come through regularly with messages, of course, and we expect growth over time. We would need a building or group of buildings ceded to House Mercere in your covenant, in a tolerable magical Aura, of course, convenient to the rest of the covenant. The building or buildings should be able to house a permanent staff of six Redcaps, along with servants, as well as have a number of guest quarters for visiting Redcaps and dignitaries. We'd also like a building suitable as a sanctum and laboratory for a Gifted magus, should we decide to settle one in the Mercere House. Obviously we wouldn't need it all at once. But we like to plan for expansion. We'd also like to arrange for some land to be ceded on the outskirts of the covenant for future use. If this plan of yours really does fly, then we'd like to look into building a place for Redcaps to retire on New Atlantis. Assuming you live up to your promise, it will be an accepting place for Warped Redcaps to find tolerance and rest."

"We'd also like a reasonable-sized building, a warehouse, and a pier in your main port. Benedict tells me that you have plenty of ruined buildings and piers that can be repaired to suit our needs. SInce Redcaps will be coming in and out of that port, it would be useful to us to have a presence there.

"I'd prefer if the Redcap in charge were someone other than a member of your covenant." She smiles apologetically at Atolycus. "I mean no slight. It's just that the administrator of the Mercer House should be independent of local politics, if possible. Besides, this would be a stationary position and I understand that you like to travel."

Atolycus waves his hand and dismisses her concern with a smile. "No offense taken Prima. You are indeed correct, I much prefer the road than to sit behind a desk, and I completely agree with your desire to keep control of the house outside of the realm of politics." Glancing around at his companions, he continues. "The House has been good to us, so it only seems fair that we return the favor. Trust that you have our full support in this matter."

Nodding "That proposal seems very reasonable and I am certain we could provide the infrastructure you have indicated. Especially over time as we grow . The locations of our shipping and warehousing is being confirmed now, and as we have a moderate sized land I think that could all be generally accommodated. Staffing and housing aside, I am interested in New Atlantis having some input into the people to be stationed with us, as we are seeking those of open mind and flexible thinking. Many of our inhabitants will hopefully come from diverse backgrounds. It may suit for your own representatives to have wide backgrounds too. "
"I should ask how you intend the management of the Mercer House to run in terms of its degree of independence?"
"And a second question which the Magi of Atlantis are keen to know: do you see Atlantis as a candidate for a Mercere Portal, not initially but perhaps in a reasonable time?"

"I could start by casting the ritual I used to make my Sanctum. I could use it for the rest of the buildings, but it is a poor fit for general living quarters." Artemis offers.

"Ah, right to the point," Insatella replies. "I like that in a negotiator." She smiles.

"Will you get a Mercere Portal? That's always the question on people's minds. In your case, the answer is that subject to the continued success of your project, and subject to questions of who will pay for such a portal, House Mercere has preliminarily decided to slate you for a future portal. So yes, if all goes well, you'll get a portal. The travel distance between New Atlantis and the rest of the Order certainly warrants such a decision. And if you attain the prominence in the Order that you hope, it will be warranted twofold. I can't speak for timing, however, But you should be thinking in terms of years rather than seasons. Time and future negotiations will determine the details."

"As for the question of independence, Mercer Houses that are hosted in covenants are always independent of the host covenant. By that I mean, the host covenant has no say in the day-to-day running of the Mercer House. We run by standard rules that make clear that the Mercer House is a separate entity. The Mercer House is essentially a representative of House Mercere in your covenant. The Redcaps will take care of their busiuness while you take care of yours. I should note that the Redcaps assigned to teh Mercer House will not sit on your Magi Council, or whatever governing body you have. So the independence is symmetraical."

"That having been said, any Mercer House that wishes to be successful will take into account the wishes if its host covenant. Any reasonable request will be granted, and accommodations can be made for almost any circumstance. For example, we shall give full consideration to any requests for Redcaps to be assigned to the Mercer House. However, I caution you that Redcaps have a great deal of freedom in what assignments they accept. Even I can't guarantee that any particular person will be on the staff. I can assure you, though, that we have very broad-minded people in our corps of Redcaps. We try not to be judgemental and instead accept the members of the Order for what they are."

"Excellent. This is very reasonable and encouraging. The building work for accommodation and lab can be quickly achieved as at least three of us " indicating Artemis as thanks for the excellent point "have developed rituals".

"If I can ask further, do you prefer the Mercer House geographically separate from the covenant or desire it within the central covenant? I could assume advantages to each. A separate aura close to the trading docks vs the security of the central covenant. "
"And then, will the facility include a bank? I see that as another key facility, and one that we would regularly use. I have heard that those covenants which house and build partnerships with Mercer facilities can enjoy advantages."

"We'd prefer proximity to the covenant for the main Mercer House," Insatella replies. "It's primary purpose will be as a point-of-contact between Redcaps and the magi of New Atlantis. So, we'd like it to be easily accessible to those magi. But since we expect magi to be traveling via ship to New Atlantis, we also wanted a presence at the port. I expect that we'll eventually have a Redcap stationed at the port location as well as the Redcaps in the central covenant, though for now we'll only have regular staff there."

"We had no plans to open up any more than a simple branch of the Mercere bank on New Atlantis, suitable for basic trades, no more. At present the small number of magi on New Atlantis doesn't warrant anything greater. But we're always willing to listen to proposals. If you think that circumstances warrant more than a basic branch of the bank, we're happy to entertain your arguments."

"I'm curious, though. What advantages were you looking for?"

"It think the bank size would depend on how much trade gets done. At present I don't think we would be able to justify anything beyond some basic services. That might change, but I think its premature to start drawing up plans for a great house of trade on the island." Artemis says, slightly worried about undercutting a coven mate. "I'm not objecting, but I don't want your House to overextend if we don't have the trade to support a large operation. Its an issue we should revisit, and we should make sure expansion is possible."

"I'm glad you approve of our policies," Insatella replies. "I'd hate to think that we'd done anything you thought unwise." She gives Artemis a piercing look. "And I'll beg you to allow House Mercere to decide when and if the matter is ripe for reconsideration."