Birds of a Flock: Bjornaer Stuff

[tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab]Birds of a Flock: Bjornaer Stuff

[tab][/tab]This is some things happening with the Bjornaer pair, mainly the Gathering of twelve years. If you are not Bjornaer please do not post here.


[tab][/tab]Springtime finds the sons of Birna busy with their new home. Pavo is cutting a swath among the covenfolk, most people look stunned when they first meet him. He is usually followed around by the younger children and though he is treated with respect, its more awe than fear contrary to most other magi. Anastaj warns him that some of the younger girls might be infatuated with him.
[tab][/tab]Arni spends most of his time in eagle form. The mountains are a majestic environment, a place where flight is both exhilarating and dangerous. The Gorges themselves are a marvel of nature, full of life and color, but they do represent hardship; the shadowplaces and the cold running waters make for weird thermals and its a struggle to gain altitude. The Tymfi mastiff on the other hand gathers much heat on the south side during the day to make rising easy. The Tabletop and the alpine meadows are another matter; weird weather, strong winds and mysterious mists are the norm up there, Arni decides to take Anastaj's warnings to heart.
[tab][/tab] There are too many things to see, too many places to visit. Arni tries to sample everything. Tymfi has several places of interest (please see general descriptions). Searching for magic, the eagle is astounded by the weave of auras around the mountains. Both Gorges are literally covered by a magic carpet, though strangely some spots seem bare, like something else suppresses the magic. Of note the Agkstromenhs springs are one such place, several shadowplaces and some bends on the rivers, some glades at the banks and even one wooden bridge outside the Aoos gorge, upstreams. The Towers are a natural magnet of magic, the whole massif has an aura of some strength. Arni is sure this extends above on the plateau, but wisely chooses to investigate from higher up. It is a desolate place of stones and rocks, with very few vegetation, open, empty and forlorn. However several times Arni has caught movement. His eagle eyes spotted small herds of long haired goats moving in that altitude, a moment later mysteriously disappearing. More alarming he has caught at the edge of his vision large shapes plodding around the plateau or huge round stone structures appearing through the mists, but turning to catch a glimpse of them turns futile, there is nothing there. Arni remembers the stories about drakoi living in this place and give it a wide breadth. Dragonlake looks like a giant, round single eye from above. It gave a weird feeling to the eagle that while it was looking at it, the lake was looking right back. Perhaps it was prudent not to fly over that place as there is definitely some kind of supernatural scrutiny. One last place where magic surprisingly appeared to be strong was the old, dilapidated castle at the entrance of the Aoos gorge. There was movement there and what seemed to be renovations going on, a weird place for a noble to claim.
[tab][/tab] Around Tymfi are other mountains and the eagle has flown over some of them too. To the north the Nemërçkë ranges, twin mountains going in parallel lines marking the steady progress of Aoos towards the Adriatic sea. Tall and snowed in, they seem to be just bare rock and moss, with few stunted trees. The northern slops though are milder and huge Fir forests cover a vast area. Those dark forests are sure to be teaming with magic and fae. South is Mitsikeli, a low range on the east side of Ioannina lake. There are some hints of magic on that hilly place, but the aura of the lake makes find them from air difficult. The watery volume itself is sure to be hidding many secrets, there are places where magic spikes or dissapears altogether. Lygkos to the east and Trapezitsa to the north look like normal mountains. However their forests and rivers are sure to be hiding things, as the eagle catches glimpses of magic creatures hiding among the slopes. Smolikas is another matter. Highest of the Pindos peaks, it is a sight from afar. However its cliffs are home to a colony of Harpies, strange creatures half hags half vultures, very dangerous and very territorial. Arni spots them flying over their mountain from afar and their sentries seem to spot the eagle too. A trio launched from the cliffs and made a bee-lined for Arni. The Bjornae prudently changed flight path and after a brief chase (the eagle being slightly faster than the hags), the harpies returned to their roosts. What brief look Arni had of Smolikas showed him that its a dangerous place, and yet instict tells him that there is something there....

Gathering of 12 years.

[tab][/tab] It is late spring or early summer when the Bjornaer leave the covenant for their trek north. Anastaj has provided for them and their retinue, both in provisions and money. After Arni's prompting he entrusts the magi with some vis too; an apple (10 points of mentem worth) and some of the Creo vis your sodales brought (10 pawns worth). The more precious apple was given to Pavo, the rest to Arni. They will be responsible and accountable for the vis and will be allowed to trade it on behalf of the covenant. Unfortunately he does not have other things of trade value to give. He does seem a bit worried about your trip and gently asks if they would leave some kind of arcane connection behind, just in case.
[tab][/tab] It is a long arduous journey, especially for Arni. Eventually the Bjornaer reach Rutgen Isle in the Baltic sea and make their way to Stubnitz forest. Leaving your retinue behind, you follow the traditional trail down the Watching Path and allow the partial transformations to occur each time to pass a regio until such time you enter Crintera proper. You present yourself to Istvan Pada, the current Elder of the Horse, who takes census and you exchange news. Slowly most Bjoarnaer magi from the Order gather on the Island to attend the Rite, bringing potential apprentices with them. The climate though seems like clam before a storm; the wilderist/harmonist debate is in full force, magi gathering in groups of same minded people exclusively. Poison is brewing...
[tab][/tab] Arni request a meeting with the Swan Elder, Ardea. She is an old, pensive woman, rumors have it that it is past time the House has found a replacement. Never the less she is very capable and the head of your clan. She listens to your halting request and looks you over with a scrutinizing eye. She says a name ''Kуропа́тка''. Just as you are about to say your thanks and take your leave, she halts you with a raised hand, wrinkled with age ''Young one, you and your brother will take your duties far south and help your brothers and sisters as you should. But for my help I require of you... something new'' She smiles a gap toothed smile ''You will know what to bring when you find it'' and after that cryptic remark allows you to leave without explaining further.
[tab][/tab] Kуропа́тка is a middle aged maga of clan Ilfetu descendant of some Novgorod pagan tribe or other. Stout, plump and quite judgemental, she is unpleasantly surprised (appalled! Simply appalled!) by your lack of mastery in Gothic. In a lilting voice and perfect Gothic, she berates you about your lack of knowledge, about avoiding your responsibilities and accuses you (and all young people) of purposefully ignoring custom and flying in the face of tradition. She vows to rectify the situation for you and that other puffed one, warns you not to try her patience, she will take care of the matter, expect results inside the next year, and like a tyrant takes control of your life for the next weeks. You are stunned by her tirade, barely catching one word in two. She starts you down the path you seek, but she is a very strict master, expecting perfection. Plenty of times she berates you about your lack of familiarity with Gothic, and she also unleashes her tongue on Pavo too. After the rite of twelve years, she initiates you on the Trial of the Oath of the Prophet and tells you she expect you to treat the 'tutor' with every courtesy and respect when he arrives at your doorstep. She sniffs and declines to explain any further.
[tab][/tab] The mystagogue Kуропа́тка surprisingly did not ask for payment. Inquiry into the woman reveals that she has a feud with your parens, Ulfhildur. There is bad blood between those two and it seems she uses you to thumb his nose. Ulfhildur was present at the rite, but purposefully avoided Arni and the mentor. Arni has seen him look at him darkly and having whispered conversations with groups of wilderists.
[tab][/tab] During the Gathering, you are also approached by a pair of magi....

[tab][/tab] It is now Autumn and things have started settling down after your travel to the cold North. You now have the time to do some of the stuff you wanted to do, maybe catch some downtime and have some contact with mundanes. Though life starts slowing down for the coming winter, it is a very busy season non the less.
[tab][/tab] Pavo has come from the Gathering with new experiences and new worries. Particularly the expected arrival of his traveling mentor sometime next year is... troubling. From what he gathered , he will be staying around for at least a season if even more. Pavo has some unflattering thoughts about Arni for that, but then again it will be good to see his mentor again. As for the covenant itself, the young greek has been noticing some strange things. His relationship with the covenfolk had become a bit smoother, he still awes people with his presence (as he should), but now there is something else too. Children simply love to tag along, following him at a distance, seeing what he is doing and mimicking him. At times they can be such a nuisance but they mean no harm. A couple of girls make long eyes and give off sighs, but Anastaj warned him out that. Old folk have started being more open towards him, though still respectful. But there is something about the adult population, especially married couples that There are frowns, suspicious looks, some scowls of discontent directed at the young man when no-one is looking. Pavo just cannot put his finger on it. There is an apprehension that wasnt here seasons ago....
[tab][/tab] Arni is dealing with the herd situation. His slav maid has done her best to find out about the herders, mostly talking to women folk, but they seem to be a close knit group. She did made the initial encounter with Tomas easier, but the elder seemed very gruff and unresponsive to Arni's overtures. He had the women folk and children hidden and he kept asking about Anastaj and how they always talked to him and there was no problems when they talked to him. Tough customer. The maid will try to smooth things over. She managed to make some headway about how to manage and expand the herds.

Arni listens attentively as Thomas and the maid explains how they would do it. He raises an eyebrow over the duration, but never objects. «Excellent», he concludes in the end, «you know how to do this.» On the return to the covenant, he checks the figures with Anastaj, to confirm that the covenant can afford the expansion. I suggest to double both herds straight away, if we can afford it, but if not, we can do one at a time over 8-10 years. «Shall we be satisfied with an income around £70-80 per year from herding, or do we want to expand further?» he asks, «I have never seen the accounts.»

After reaching an agreement with Anastaj, he makes sure to mention that Thomas asked for him. «He does not trust me yet. My maid has had somewhat more success talking to him, so I think it is going to work out in the end. I don't want to put any pressure on you, but it might be prudent for you to pay him a visit, and make sure he knows that the plan is your will too.»

As it tends towards Christmas, Arni is content that a reasonable extension is underway, if not as soon as he had hoped. He gets the shield scout to accompany the maid on any further visits to the village, suspecting that there is a gender issue with Thomas. Not sure if he should follow personally, or if the Gift just causes trouble, he joins them some times, but not always.

«Are all the refugees from the East city people? Sorry for my ignorance. I just assumed that people had fled from the countryside too. Then we need to look elsewhere.» He looks up, to see if either Dimitris or Anastaj will confirm, or maybe volunteer an elaboration on the city population, before he continues. «When we expand the herds as planned, the Slavs at Vikos will be stretched a bit, I think. It may be wise to found a second village, maybe one of Vlach shepherds, and transfer a herd there. I think I saw a suitable location or two where it should be possible to do so. Would it be possible to find such people? If not, we can try a different strategy. In the covenant proper, I think we should try to get a few seasoned but generalist handlers trained. We need them both for the mules, maybe the horses, and for chicken. We will also need them as go-between with the villagers if we expand.»


Arni soon realises that he won't be given much spare time during the Gathering, and starts having second thoughts. Even so, he grits his teeth, to proud to lose face, and too ambitious to waste the time already invested. After all the scolding from elder clan brethren, he longs very much for peer company and sneaks off to see if he can find some of the younger magi of the house before the gathering is over, and people start to leave.

Pavo will seek out other magi and find if anyone seems to need mentem vis. He will see what people have to trade, but not having been given any requests from the rest of the covenant he will look for anything he finds appealing. If he is offered books in Latin, he will insist on finding Arni to check that the books look useful as he can't read it yet.

He is happy to meet the pair of magi approaching, and greets them warmly.

1.2[tab][/tab] This year's Gathering is tense. The political climate of House Bjornaer is boiling to a temperature, the division between harmonists and wilderists clear cut. Clan Ilfetu is hard pressed in its seeming neutrality (strictly enforced by Ardea upon the more hot head members of your small clan. Ilfetu serves the other clans and will keep its collective head out of politics). None the less the Gathering proceeds as normal, with many members of the House attending. New apprentices were initiated, news were exchanged, trade deals negotiated, new friends made and old ones reacquainted with.
[tab][/tab] Arni has little time to fraternize as much as he wanted too, but manages to squeeze some during the five days of the Gathering itself. Pavo on the other hand was quite successful in endeavors with fellow members of the House. During that time well spent in trading news and information, the young Greek has found some deals he could make trading the vis entrusted to him for books and items. He went to bring Arni for translating Latin (as a side-note, he too got an earful of Kуропа́тка for his skill lack in Gothic) and made some deals.
[tab][/tab] It was during the second day of the Gathering that two magi from the Theban Tribunal requested a private meeting with Arni and Pavo. Aegypius and Bolgan are a pair of vulture Bjornaer from Anatolia, descendants of the Bjornaer of Estropy, an old covenant abandoned when the Seljuks invaded. Aegypius is a man past his prime, ascetic looking, with a narrow face that seems perpetually showing distaste. Long, almost pointed hook nose, uneven yellow teeth and black eyes, all under a scraggly balding head with long wisps of hair growing at the sides and bottom, make him look older than he appears. His head stoops as if it was attached lower between his shoulders and he has a salt-n-pepper week-old stubble. Bolgan on the other had is a young Slav, tall and straight with serious eyes, a luxurious black beard and friendly baritone voice. They wish to talk to you as the representatives of clan Ilfetu in the Theban Tribunal about a delicate matter and would like to do it in privacy. Bolgan suggest a clearing nearby, while Aegypius informs you muttering that it is about apprentices.

List of stuff for trade

Tractatus on Animal, Herbam, Corporem, Creo, Ignem, Aquam, Auram, Terram and Vim. Q6 (1 pawn each, max of 2 each)
Tractatus on Animal, Herbam, Corporem and Mentem. Q10 (2 pawns each, 1 each)
Tractatus on Animal, Herbam. Q 15 (3 pawns each, only 1)
Tractatus on Animal Handling, Ride and various Area Lores (Non-Theban). Q 10 (1 pawn the two)

Sumae on Animal, Herbam, Corporem. L 10, Q 15. (5 pawns each)
Sumae on Creo, Intellego, Rego, Perdo, Muto. L 10, Q 15 (6 pawns each)
Sumae Herbam. L14, Q 12 (14 pawns)
Sumae Animal. L 15, Q 15 (15 pawns)
Sumae on Animal Ken. L10, Q 10. Additionall can be read as a Tractatus of Animal Handling Q 10 (10 pawns)

Enchanted Devices
Fruit of the Loom (MoH pg 59) 10 pawns
Eyeglass of Nereus (MoH pg 76) 15 pawns


Jintera's Prized Restorative Filter: 1-2 vials of a potions that supposedly restores fatigue, 5 paws per vial (non Hermetic)
Jintera's Mystical Potion of Wound Closing: 2-3 vials of a potion that supposedly heals wounds, 4 pawns per vial (non Hermetic)
Grimoire on Animal (1 pawn per magnitude of spells)
Grimoire on Herbam (1 pawn per magnitude of spells)
Lab Text on changing traveling bag (Perceive the change and Change size). 5 pawns

In a hurried whisper to Arni, "I've found some decent summae for trade, but the best ones are beyond my budget. Our covenant library is purely tractatus and a couple of mundane books at the moment, so these could really help. Do you think it would be better to buy one of the really good summae and a cheaper one, or to buy three of the reasonable ones and a few vain tracts?"

Pavo will politely admire the enchanted devices and non-Hermetic potions, and say that he will be in touch when his covenant has larger stocks.

When meeting with the vulture magi, Pavo will nod and say "I understand the need for discretion. Let us meet somewhere quietly. Our brother Arni is not a Theban and will need some explanation of our ways - shall I give a quick explanation?"

Before he discusses the matter with Pavo, Arni discusses available grimoires with the sellers. He is looking, very particularly, for Animal and Herbam spells which can boost income. He knows that spells of about sixth magnitude are able to accelerate growth of plants and animals, so that they reach maturity within a day [e.g. MoH p 39]. Circle/ring versions of such spells would be extraordinarily useful. There are also spells to improve plant growth and health over a season; he is not interested in the well-known Bountiful Feast ritual, but a circle/ring version is rumoured to exist too [MoH p 38]. Can he find anything useful?

If any of the sellers seem interested in keeping in touch for future trades, he agrees to stay in contact by correspondence.

When Pavo asks, he voices his opinion at length. «Personally, I believe what we need most of all is decent primers. These summæ on Herbam, Animal, and Corpus seem to be suitable. They are more comprehensive - and expensive - than I had in mind, but look very readable for a novice like myself in these arts. That they reach beyond the primer may be a good thing in the longer run. This summa on Animal looks like a sound one, but I think we are better served by the primers which are so much cheaper. I don't believe in vain tractatus. It may be better so save some vis. An exceptional tractatus is valuable if somebody can translate it to Greek and sell it on. Another thing I had in mind was Animal and Herbam spells which can help us boost income. The changing travelling bag would be useful, but probably more to us personally than to the covenant. What do you think?» Then he adds, «I see that you have had more time discussing trades than I have. Have you made any contacts for future use? It is possible to trade via redcap order you know.»

When the vultures approach, Arni is a bit knackered from the scolding from the elders, and he lets Pavo take the lead. He does greet the vultures politely though. Being able to talk to Bolgan in Slav is a relief. Is he much older than Arni and Pavo? He does the best he can to listen attentively to what they say, to what they both say.

[tab][/tab] There are several magi that 'sell' grimoires of popular spells. Normally, they want to trade for other spells, but they are willing to make do with vis instead [Yes, you may pick those spells to buy, 1 pawn per magnitude. Fast grow would be 6, Circle of Eternal Spring would be 1. Remember they cause warping]. Arni and Pavo take contact information of several Bjornaer in adjacent Tribunals willing to trade (Transylvanian, Roman and Theban).

[tab][/tab] Aegypius looks like to be forty to seventy years of age. Bolgan is much younger but older than Arni or Pavo, around thirty to thirty five. Though the Slav leads the way to a clearing nearby where you can all sit and talk, it is clear that Aegypius is senior to him and the one in charge. Bolgan is happy to chat in his dialect with Arni, revealing he comes from Wallachia in the Transylvanian Tribunal. Once you are settled, Aegypius begins; '' As you know, Bjornaer are different from other magi in selecting apprentices. Ours is a more difficult winnowing, we cannot just pick someone and make him Bjornaer, we need to find special people who have the ability to bring the Heartbeast to the fore. We search , we examine, and we speculate...quite a bit actually. Even then we have people fail at the Ritual of twelve as you have seen. That is why we prize our apprentices so much and why spend so much time searching for the right people for our house. Not everyone can be blessed by the ancestors'' he reiterates, takes some breaths, a haunted faraway look entering his eyes. He turns to Arni '' The Tribunal you now reside in is more...civilized than most. We have a system in place that takes cares of apprentices before they are joined to a master. Each year those gifted individuals that are found in the Tribunal are gathered and brought together under the aegis of the Treasury Council. Usually each phyle, our jurisdictional subdivision, has someone who actively searches for gifted individuals actively or just has the children brought to him for testing. Then they are others called tutors who take care of those children until the next Assembly; though both arche may delegate, that too is common. The tutors are responsible for basic training of the candidates and making sure they are healthy, presentable and informed when they appear before the assembly. Two days before selection, they are interviewed and information about their skills, talents and abilities is provided to all interested parties. Then the magi bid on them with Tokens. It might sound like a cattle fair, but it is not. Make no mistake, the apprentice herself chooses the master from those who offer Tokens and gets that amount offered for herself. Most of the time the master that 'spent' the most Tokens gets the apprentice, sometimes it is a matter of personal chemistry. It all very efficient.''
[tab][/tab]He thumps his staff on the ground ''Which creates a grand problem for us! For the last thirty five years we only had one apprentice in this Tribunal and that was Pavo! We all had to scramble and scrounge to get enough Tokens to match his price, and it required six tokens. And then off he goes to train as Ilfetu.'' He takes a pause to collect his thoughts and your eyes fall on Bolgan. The slav has a small smile as if he remembers a private jest, and says '' I was born and raised in the Wallachian mountains. Thats where I was found but I was apprenticed in Byzanium. I was smuggled in for my parens'' he looks fondly on Aegypius, the older man makes a dismissive gesture and takes lead again ''We were lucky with you and were reprimanded for it. It wont happen again for some time.'' He turns his fervent gaze back to you '' We are literally dying here. It is very difficult to find proper apprentices as it is and then they are usually snatched by others. The arche simply say that we should gather more tokens as a solution, but our skills are not much appreciated or needed, we are not that social or sociable nor do we want to be.'' He thumps his staff three times '' We...need...apprentices''.
[tab][/tab]He purses his lips looking you in the eye in turn. '' There are currently five Bjornaer in the tribunal besides you two. Three of us are a small covenant, and all three are ready to have apprentices, Bolgan for the first time. Of the other two, both reside in Aegeae with our Merinita cousins. Delphini has resigned herself of finding an apprentice and Krum is only interested in horses, so that leaves us in a bind...''

Arni looks at Aegypius, gaping with disbelief. Then he looks at Pavo, for his reaction, hoping that he will have something meaningful to say.

Suddenly Arni realises the expense of lab texts at one pawn per magnitude, and gives up that idea. Instead he shifts his attention, finding a trader who would be interested in any of the lab texts which he would be able to transcribe in the winter, to trade lab text for lab text. Is there any demand for any of the spells he knows or for Stone-Cutting Knife?

[What lab texts are available on the market? Only published ones? All published ones? I was looking for a circle/ring version of Fast Grow, and analogous spells for Animal, but I have not seen them in any sourcebook. If such things cannot be bought, I shall give it up :slight_smile: When you mention warping, what warps? The target of the spell? Or are you ruling ill effects on anyone who might use the targets for food?]

*** [Revised text from previous message] ***

When Pavo asks, he voices his opinion at length. «Personally, I believe what we need most of all is decent primers. These summæ on Herbam, Animal, and Corpus seem to be suitable. They are more comprehensive - and expensive - than I had in mind, but look very readable for a novice like myself in these arts. That they reach beyond the primer may be a good thing in the longer run. This summa on Animal looks like a sound one, but I think we are better served by the primers which are so much cheaper. I don't believe in vain tractatus. It may be better so save some vis. An exceptional tractatus is valuable if somebody can translate it to Greek and sell it on; it is just possible that we should try to secure both the one on Herbam and the one one Animal. The changing travelling bag would be useful, but probably more to us personally than to the covenant. What do you think?» Then he adds, «Another thing I had in mind was Animal and Herbam spells which can help us boost agricultural income, but paying with vis is too bloody expensive. Better see if we can trade grimoire for grimoire.»

"Perhaps we should purchase the primers on Creo and Corpus, so when the time comes for longevity rituals we have a couple of people who are proficient, rather than trying to all buy rituals from other covenants at the same time. Maybe a primer on Intellego as well, as none of our sodales have claimed a specialism in this field?" Pavo looks at the other Bjornaer, ponders and then replies, "I'm not sure what you're expecting me to do. The legal way to get apprentices is to offer tokens and persuade an apprentice that yours is the best offer. However, Arni won't be eligible for anything until the next Tribunal, [i]if[/i] he is accepted. Also, my covenant is temporarily "excused" tribunal duties, so we are conveniently removed from the chance to earn tokens easily. [i]If[/i] we could earn tokens, then we could happily come and study with you and recompense you for your time.

If we try and smuggle in apprentices from outside the Tribunal, how harsh is the punishment likely to be? You said yourself that you won't be able to get away with that again.

If there was some way of finding large numbers of Gifted children, maybe we could earn a lot of tokens surrendering them up and then taking advantage of the glut to bid cheaply, but I don't know if there any shortcuts we can use with Intellego magic or Divination.

The only legal way I can think of is for you to turn up to Tribunal, and for me to use my skills of persuasion to encourage apprentices to accept bids of a single token from you ahead of the bids of others. Tell me, how many tokens do you have?

«The Corpus primer is probably the most useful book of the lot. I am sure it will be read. Let's call that one settled at least. The Creo primer will not be read for many years, not until some of you learn to read Latin. Both Raven and myself know a fair bit about Creo already. Are you sure we want to get it at this stage? Intellego may be useful, but would that not be the case for Muto and Rego too? Several of the sodales seem to have a basic grounding in a range of techniques, but the only expert seems to be Scylax' Perdo and maybe Raven's Creo. I take it you are not so fond of Animal and Herbam!? Maybe you are right; I was a bit carried away with the idea of boosting herd income, but I am not sure that is going to be very effective anyway. Sooner or later we shall need primers for all the arts,» he stops to ponder, «Maybe primers in Corpus, Intellego, and Animal, and the excellent tractatus on Herbam. The sodales must be able to find some use in that. That would be 19 pawns. Do you have enough for the return journey then? .»

Arni listens intently to Pavo's long response to the vultures, and waits for the them to explain further.

[tab][/tab] The Vulture Bjornaer listen to Pavo talk, Bolgan stoically while Aegypius shakes his head from side to side at times. He then points at Arni '' Yes that is all true... but what we want is from him, because he is not a politis of the Tribunal yet.'' The slav takes over in a pleasing baritone while his parens rearranges his robes ''The penalty for such trafficking will probably be minimal, a Shard awarded. The arche are more worried of complaints from other Tribunals for such trafficking than us getting apprentices. After all we aren't poaching Gifted children from the Thevan Tribunal. Conversely, getting apprentices from outside has its dangers for precisely that reason. That is why we had Bjornaer from those Tribunals bring unclaimed apprentices here. Theoretically, Arni could use his contacts in Novgorod and search that land for suitable Gifted candidates to bring back for us. Practically though that would require much time, even years, plus the travel to and fro would be a brutal task. We have some Token, but pooling them is quite difficult. The arche frown upon this because then the Northern Covenants would do the same to detrimental effect. Talking to the apprentice candidates would be appreciated though, Pavo. It is a good idea. However it will look strange a magus championing someone else to a child. Finding more Gifted individuals will work too, but that means people will have to invest an inordinate amount of time searching for them, plus it is no guaranty we get the specific apprentices we need.''
[tab][/tab] Aegypius points his bony finger at Arni '' What we want you to do will cause you some conflict with the Tribunal. We think that, should you find a potential apprentice for Bjornaer, you could claim the child for your apprentice. The Tribunal is sure to find out and will intervene. They will probably take the apprentice away with the other children, and you would file a protest for the next Assembly. You will surely lose that, but escalating it to the Grand Tribunal might give you a better chance. Instead we mediate for a solution and persuade you to relinquish the apprentice, provided he or she is given to a Bjoarnaer magus. We think this will have a high level of success, one of us gets the apprentice and the way is opened for discussions about our problem with the current system at the next Assembly''.

Pavo turns to Arni.

"It seems you have the opportunity to be an agent for change and a strong defender of the house. Either find apprentices from Novgorod, or take the punishment of a Tribunal so you can escalate the matter to Grand Tribunal."

He then turns to the vultures and says "There is one minor problem with the Grand Tribunal plan. If the Tribunal decides that he will be ostracised before the matter gets to tribunal, then Arni is left having to face a seven year exile and this may complicate his complaint to Grand Tribunal. I just want to make sure we've fully thought this through before our recently-arrived brother makes a promise he won't want to keep.

As for pooling shards - pooling within a covenant is strictly forbidden. Going to a friend at another covenant and gifting them tokens for hospitality or services rendered is entirely normal. There's nothing to prevent the Bjornaer of different covenants, such as we gathered here, preferentially working with each other and gifting our tokens in such a way as to make sure they end up with one particular person. After all, the hedge wizards of Erebos and the Tremere of Gigas are such awful people they don't have any friends in other covenants, so they can't pull this off."

Arni looks deeply concerned and worried. «The situation you describe is awful,» he says, «Something needs to be done. Myself, I do not yet understand enough of tribunal politics to assess possible consequences, and until I do, I cannot possibly commit. What really worries me is, that although I might be able to plead ignorance, such ignorance could be blamed on our dear sodalis Pavo, and the rest of our covenant. The polites are required by charter to take care of the metikoi and make sure we learn tribunal customs. I fear the consequences may be dire for too many of our sodales.» He pauses to judge the reaction. «Me, claiming an apprentice, before I could not possibly train one, would also look awfully suspicious. What time frame are you working on?»

[tab][/tab] The two magi listen to your explanations gravely. There is disappointment in Aegypius face, while Bolgan looks stoic. ''We have no time frame. We had hoped....well... never mind. We shall just have to wait and see how the cards shall fall'' He shakes his head and sighs a bit, then focuses a glare onto Pavo ''Do not lecture me on Tribunal politics young one. You should be weary of the Tremere, they have members in other covenants besides Gigas.'' He nods to both magi then briskly turns to his former apprentice ''Come along Bolgan. We need to talk to others. Have a safe journey young magi'' Stooped and using his cane he moves off, while the Slav bows in turn to you and follows him deferentially.

As the vultures leave, Arni look a bit disappointed and sorry. «I am sorry. I really want to help if I can,» Arni says, «We should talk more and find a solution, but ... maybe ... Pavo and I better think it through first. Your request came rather suddenly and surprisingly upon us. Good bye. For now.»

When they are out of sight, he turns to Pavo and says, «What do you think, Pavo? Did I play this one badly?»

Pave shrugs and replies "You did exactly what the Theban tribunal expected us to do, when they framed our covenant charter such that our immigrant members need to be on their best behaviour and that our Theban members need to be responsible for making sure they don't break the Peripheral Code. We joined Meru Mudi knowing that we would have to be careful. The good news is that we're behaving in a way that will not give Anastaj any concerns. The bad news is we have already alienated some of our house. Admittedly, they were only members who had failed to solve their long-standing problems and tried to get recently-gauntleted magi to take all the risk for them. I don't think we'll get any help from them until we're able to help.

If we find any Gifted children, let one of the Theban citizens in our covenant present them to the assigned tutors so we can claim a token. I can always try the technique of persuading apprentices to join the vultures, it is legal and could work.

Oh, there are probably some ways of gaming the system - if we find a Gifted baby, we could "accidentally" lose them by a pack of wild animals we had briefed, and ensure they had a feral upbringing, and then "rescue" them shortly before Tribunal. This would ensure most non-Bjornaer magi wouldn't want them, but could backfire horribly.

This has got me thinking, perhaps there's a way of getting some indication of what a person's heartbeast is likely to be? If we could persuade other magi to let us study their apprentices before the Ritual of Twelve Years, we might push the Bjornaer mysteries further. On a similar note, the Theban system really encourages checking out potential apprentices thoroughly before bidding on them. Perhaps there's a market in spells that could divine an apprentice's potential strengths and weaknesses, or tell you if their flaws are potentially fixable, or if their psyche renders them unsuitable for your house.

We can consider these when we have better Arts. For now, let's get purchasing books. I think your suggestion of three primers and a Herbam tractatus should work."

«Well, thank you. It is a consolation,» he says, «but still a question, could I have played it better

«Indications there are. That's what the septs look for during the unawakened years. Usually, they can predict the aspect but not beast, I believe. Detecting more would break an Hermetic limit, would it not? Divination maybe, but it must be bloody hard. Aspects of the Gift, however, might be detectable, but way beyond us. Good thoughts, Pavo, ... in the long run.»

«Indeed. Let's go and complete the shopping. By the way, let's make sure that we remember the origin of the books we buy ... in case we want to copy and sell, we do not want to sell to their neighbours.»

1.2[tab][/tab] The rest of the Gathering is tense as tempers run high, There is much debate about the state of wilderness in general and Rugen Isle in particular, but no conclusions. Lines in the sand seem to be drawn, the next gathering will be interesting, unless things come to a boil before that. Pavo starts the journey back, while Arni successfully completes the Initiation.

[Please add what you will be buying and bringing back to the Covenant. Did Arni use the Portals too? I'll have to deduct the fare you him too if so]

We buy and bring to the covenant, the following:
Summa on Animal L10 Q15
Summa on Corpus L10 Q15
Summa on Intellego L10 Q15
Tractatus on Herbam Q15
Cost 19p of vis. Probably keep 1p Creo, which Pavo can bring back.

What does Anastaj think of the choices?

BTW. Two questions which will become important if Raven gets the bookshop she proposed up and running,

  1. Are the qualities plain Core Rule qualities, so that the books can be copied using Core rules (and translated as per A&A)?
  2. Who sold us the books? (mainly tribunal is of interest)

No, Arni flies. He probably did not even get the exact details of where to go for the portals, since he did not join Pavo going North.