Back to the library

With a perusal through the library the covenant ledger is located- for the last year it indicate an income from "the oasis" with no location given, of 100 mythic pounds, and the following final expenses:
3 MP building maintenance
3 1/5 MP in consumables
15 3/5 MP laboratories
15 MP provisions
44 MP wages
trivial expenses for weapon maintenance and writing supplies,

Net costs of 80 6/7 pounds

It also indicates a total of 163 people who serve the covenant directly, not counting the oasis staff.

There is also a section of the ledger for vis income:
10 pawns perdo from rocky deposits within the aura
5 pawns animal from mucking the pens
5 pawns aurum from "mountaintop shrine" no directions included
10 pawns ignem from "desert location" no directions included
10 pawns imagnoem from "standing mirage" with no directions given
6 pawns terram from "abandoned mine" with again no directions given
10 pawns vim from a "lost temple" whose directions are included in an appended journal written in Aetherius' handwriting.

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Lares rushes to the door.

“Get me Izri or Merin.”

If one of the boys is available, Lares shows them the ledger and asks:

“Do you know what this ‘oasis’ is? It seems that most of our income comes from it.”

Argentius steps up beside Lares, looking past him at the ledger as they read through what is outlined there.

"If I might?" asks Argentius as he pulls the ledger toward himself. He whispers into his right hand and rests his middle finger (and plain gold ring) on the ledger itself, looking carefully down at the ledger seeking to understand something of its history.

The ledger has been here for 25 years, with reports copied into it for a few days each winter during that time.

The covenfolk find Izri who answrs hi father "Sure, the oasis is at the entrance, well, where the path to the covenant enters the mountains. Sometime before I was born you set up three geysers out there and fed them through pipes to a pool, ran a small farm and provided a place for traders to stop on their way through the desert. Everyone, well." he pauses thinking "I suppose now everyone who remembers the area knows where it is. Probably why you didn't write it down." He grins.

“Thank you, son.”

Lares pauses, sits down and stretches his legs, frowning.

“How, exactly, does one get from here to there, and how long does it take? How have we been staying in contact with this oasis – does someone from there come here or does someone from here go there?”

"Normally it takes four days, unless magic speeds someone up. If you fly at a walking pace you can do it in three, and Aetherius travels it, well, did travel it, instantly." He looks at the floor "As to how, well it is to the southeast of here, but someone will have to show you the way, we weren't allowed to write it down. I mean it's also directions to the covenant from the oasis."

“So the people at the oasis don’t know how to come here, correct? That is excellent. Do they know about the nature of our establishment here?”

"Well, a fe know how to get here, and the nature of the covenant. That's really not the problem here that you would tell us about from back in Europe, most of the hedge traditions are pretty open, the only real Christians in the area are the Cathars you saved from the Inquisition. I mean there are a few others, but not enough to be a threat. Arabs and Berbers are pretty col about magic, at least in principle, the Gift still causes problems if they aren't used to you. Actually being know to be a wizard helps, because people understand they are nervous because you are so powerful."

“Good, good. Do you know whether redcaps have tended to visit the covenant proper, or the oasis? What about non-member mages – have you heard of any of them ever visiting the covenant?”

"The redcaps? I've never seen a redcap, Aetherius grabs the mail whenever he is in Cairo."

“He would, wouldn’t he. Hm, that’s great news, actually, though some planning will be in order…”

He taps the lines about the vis income.

“What about these. Do you know where any of these vis sources are or how we gathered their yields?”

He taps the entry about the mountaintop shrine "I have been there, and seen the collection. The rest I believe were the duty of Cathars to gather."

“Cathars. Tell me about that. I saved them from the Inquisition, so I can deduce there has been another one, they must have won the disfavor of the pope, and I wanted to give them a hand. Correct? Why are they in charge of gathering our vis, though? Is there something special about them?”

He shrugs "I don't know all of what happened in Europe, and it was the covenant saved them rather than you specifically. When the covenant was first built the covenfolk were, well that's complicated, a lot of the founders didn't trust arabs and Berbers, so they gave the job of gathering vis to the Cathars. If the temple didn't require giving prayers to Arukana they would probably gather that as well."

Argentius listens as he stands to the side. He says nothing but is attentive.

“Looks like we’ll be going to meet some Cathars. What are their relations to the magi and other covenfolk like? I take it that this pattern of trust and mistrust you mentioned will not have been without consequence.”

"The cook in my quarters is one of the Cathars or at least her parents were, I believe," offers Argentius. "I wonder what connection we had with them to be willing to accept them here. She called the covenant, de Liberte."

He gestures back to the ledger. "By the way, the ledger looks to be about twenty-five years old. The reports were made each winter. We might find older ledgers that could tell us something about our development over time. Not likely a high priority but it might be useful at some point."

“An excellent piece of insight. I can see a number of uses for such historical work, foremost among them knowledge of how our forebears managed to survive out here when their abilities were closer to our present level.”

Argentius nods to Lares. "You're absolutely right. There could be a guide in these details to help us get to a point where we can keep the covenant viable and defended." The Verditius takes a long breath, releasing it audibly.

"I keep asking myself, 'What am I going to do different this time around? Should I try to recreate the magus I became? Try to pick up where I left off? Or do I take these clues of where I ended up and chart an entirely new path?"

Argentius runs a hand back through his long silver hair and says with mirth in his voice:

"This certainly is not what I was expecting after my gauntlet."

Lares son nods "Consequences would be putting it mildly. If you are looking for potential threats to the covenant, you should not be looking to the outside. My people, the berbers, you conquered by the strength of your magic, though some of us serve as the covenants military now many bore resentment, at least to the age I recall, especially in their teenage years, which tended to settle to resignment with age. From what I know none of you were as young and unskilled when you first came here as you are now, and when the covenfolk realize this you may well have problems. The Cathars love you the most, as little as that is, and refuse to pick up arms besides, though again this tended to be enforced y the elder of their tradition, who are no longer elders. The arabs were hired early on when you needed literate people to help you, they became scribes and librarians, and have passed that work down by their family lines, but again there is resentment that the covenant has favored the cathars and they wielded very little real power, which they believed they should hold over the other groups. Two things have kept the peace, the power of the magi to enforce their will, and your marriage to mother, which convinced the Berbers that you saw us as people. Even I, your adopted son, find myself wondering if you will still feel that way without the life you had lived before, or whether you will have lessons you need to relearn to accept our race, our culture, and our religion. I also do not know if we have lost our familiarity with your Gift that such suspicions arise, or whether they are simply a response to this extraordinary circumstance. I hope that we can find other alternatives than force, having been given the chance we have, but most have not reverted as far as you and mother, and we have never found true peace between the factions until now."