Case 11: The Lost Discovery

A bitter dispute breaks out at a tribunal. Richard ex Bonisagus' lab has been destroyed and his memory of what he was working on has been purged. Questioning by the Order implicates Maria ex Bonisagus, a Trianoman and a fellow covenant member. Under questioning, she admits to having destroyed his lab, burned his notes, and destoyed his memory. She is willing to compensate him, even to forefeit her life, but refuses to divulge the nature of the research or findings. Under extreme duress, she claims that she was acting in the best interests of the order. She felt that Richard's research, while groundbreaking, would eventually lead to severe internal strife in the order. As Richard was a Bonisagus, he would have been obligated to share his research. She feels that her only option was to destroy the findings to prevent them being distributed to the order at large.
What is the precedent for this? Should she be punished or let go? Would the Quaesitors insist on learning the subject to make a better judgment? What sort of discovery could cause the fall of the order?

"This is outragous! Maria scried and altered the mind of magus and admitted to depriving him and by extention the whole Order magical power! She should be marched. Unless Richard's research violated the Oath, she has committed a High Crime of proportions never before seen. Even if her fears are not unfounded, the fact remains she did not have the right to decide what magics you or I weild. To say nothing that every advance in our use of Gifts brings changes.

Bonisagus and Trianoma both knew this. Indeed it was Trianoma who went out to take such stepping stones to build the order. Just as Bonisagus could have used the parma magica and his magic to carve out an empire across Europe, rather than our Order. Maria should know this. Just because it might have been disruptive does not mean we could not handle it. I have faith that no matter what breakthrough Richard accompished, the Order of Hermes would adapt and survive. In my personal opinon, thrive. Now I could be mistaken, as I do not know the details of what Richard was working on.

Which is Maria's fault in the first place. She has denied us this knowledge, and thus deprieved us of magical power. She has even admitted this was her intent! Her crime is not merely against Richard, but the entire Order. And that is setting aside the fact she swore the same oath as Richard andis therefore obligated to share such works with us.

By her own admission she guilty of a high crime, more than one in fact. If she wants lenancy, she must attempt to restore what she has unmade, Richard's lab notes, lab and memories. Otherwise, run her through with a spear and be done with it."

I commend Maria for her frankness and her willingness to accept the consequences of her actions. I believe her sincere about her reasons. However, none of that can lessen her crime nor the punishment due. I too vote that she be marched and slain.

Hmm... fair points all. Would you be willing to help me work with making this a less open-and-shut case? The seed is the same, but how it's presented as a hook to the party can vary:

Here's the background info: Richard is doing original research. As is often the case, he actually made an unintended discovery: He has found a way of breaching Parma Magica effectively. His lab notes indicate that this discovery can fairly easily been taught. This is only useful against the order itself: No one outside the Order of Hermes knows the secrets of Parma Magica. As such, it could easily lead to the destruction of the OoH, since Parma Magica was one of the main things that led to Magi working together.

The way I initially presented the seed was at a Tribunal: Richard was off in a corner, getting heavily drunk (unusual for a Bonisagus), and lamenting about how he would cause the fall of the Order. A quesitor in the group went up to him to talk informally. He confided his worries to her. She advised him to burn his notes, since if the Order doesn't know about the research, he isn't obligated to share it.

I thought it would be more intriguing to present as a mystery, either his lab being destroyed, or him being murdered. I'm convinced the seed itself is a valid one--someone discvoers how to bypass Parma Magica and not eveyrone wants it presented, despite the Bonisagus' obligations to share it. What would be a good hook to present a balanced outlook?

Pretty much exactly this scenario is mentioned in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages (see pages 10 and 11). According to that, the Colentes Arcanorum (a group of magi Bonisagi who gather other Bonisagus' research together to disseminate in folios) have the authority to order a particular piece of research destroyed if they consider it too dangerous, with a wizard's march on the cards if the researcher fails to comply. Presumably there's some relevant peripheral code that makes this legal (balancing "I will not endanger the Order with my actions" against the Bonisagus requirement), although this isn't explicitly stated.

Firstly many thanks to avenger314 for posting an excellent thought provoking case! :slight_smile: I was tied up yesterday with the Black Chicken forums iRC game, so was delighted to find I did not have to post. :slight_smile:

Jerome of Guernicus, a traditionalist raises a few procedural points. Firstly, who is actually bring the case? Without a prosecution principle, no matter how baltant and heinous the crime, there is no case. So has anyone actually asked to prosecute Maria? If not, the case can be discussed.

Secondly, owing to the sensitivity of the matter, it is important to note that normally cases are discussed with the Quaesitors under the watchful eye of the Presiding Quaesitor prior to the case being brought before the assembled Tribunal? Did this occur? And if so, why did the Quaesitors decide the case must be tried? IT could be that the defence and prosecution could not decide a settlement and so the case had to escalate.

Thirdly, while the actual magic Richard was working on may pose a threat to the Order, Maria describing the magic does not do so. For example we can imagine he was close to a magical breakthrough that would render Parma Magica, the essence of our security and success as an Order, ineffective. Such a magical development would clearly threaten the future peace of the Order, and every one of us. Yet if Maria was to tell us that Richard was close to such a discovery, or had achieved it, would not every one of us praise her wisdom in ending the threat, and vote to exonerate? Merely naming the threat to the Order in no way will actually imperil us - presumably Richard's remaining notes and writings can be effectively be discovered and burned, if that is the outcome she fears, this very night if need be, by the Quaesitors, and all memory of any harmful discussion removed if that si what is required?

cj x

"Jerome is correct. Without a principle, there is no case. How nothing would prevent us from declaring a Wizard's War against her, and the rights of such an action would aloow us to stripe the knowledge from her mind."

Alfred ex Miscellanea, a respected Hoplite and known Corpus specialist (and suspected to be in the short list for the next "House Queasitor" for Ex Misc) speaks up.

"Sodales, I agree that no formal case has been presented. I do so now. I accuse Maria ex Bonisagus of scrying and depriving a magus of magical power thus violating the Lex Hermae. She has admitted as such and while her reasons are no doubt noble in her judgment and I appreciate her desire to protect the Order at her own initiative, she has not, to my knowledge had any writ to invesitgate from a Queasitor of good standing. I am sorry for the loss of someone dedicated to the Order but the Law should not be taken into one's own hands without conseqence. I propose we fully explore this case so that the combined Tribunal can rule on her life as well as the correlary questions relative to the Colens Arcanorum."

"Will anyone speak as her Advocate?"

(apologies for spelling errors)

I've heard nothing in the testimony that says she scryed on Richard. I do agree that she has admitted deigning Richard his magic and should be punished for that.

"Hmm," says Alfred. "The scrying may be a supposition on my part. Given that the memory has been stripped from the victim, I would say that it might be correct that I was assuming that scrying was involved since the memory of the research is gone but nothing else. Perhaps if there is a Mentem expert available to consult on whether it is possible to be so targeted WITHOUT ascertaining, magically, the extent of the memory."

Alfred looks expectently to his colleagues...

( To stir the pot a little on this one )

The breakthrough in question would extend the power of the Aegis of the Hearth to render all Intellego magics cast against it or within it impotent. The effect was a blanket effect; all within the Aegis would be affected, regardless of whether friend or foe.

Possibly derived from the works of Mormulus of Merinita, but as the researcher has lost his memory we will never know for sure.

OOC: How do the characters know this? It is stated in the initial posting that the accused won't disclose this and the victim is, by defiition, ignorant of the details.

If you can tell me how we know it in character, I'm willing to play through it, but otherwise I'll just play though NOT knowing this and thinking it is far more dastardly... Neat spin, though.

After some moments waiting, Alfred turns to Maria.

"Maria, it appears that no Mentem expert is willing to discuss the matter. Perhaps if you would care to explain how, or even 'if', you were able to erase specific long-term and complex memories without scrying on your covenant mate, we might be able show that no magical scrying was involved. If you can show that magical scrying was not involved in your activities, then it may be possible to argue for a penalty that, while very severe, MAY be other than death."

Alfred seems sad as he says this...

LOL. So he was researching something that proved a major problem for Mormulus and his covenant and discovered ANOTHER thing that is ALSO a problem? Good researcher, that one :mrgreen:

I ask for Igack to appear to give testimony!


Maria confesses, apparently near tears:
She and Richard had been amici, close friends, for nearly twenty years. Richard confided to her that his research yielded an unintended result: An easy way to breach parma magicka, without a need to penetrate, nor attack indirectly. Any spell, from a Pilum of Fire, to a Curse of Circe, would affect a Magus as easily as a peasant. She argued that such research was better discontinued, for its only purpose would be to fragment the Order itself. Richard felt that as a Bonisagus, his duty was to pursue the research wherever it led, and share it per his obligations. He also had faith that the magic would not be abused, but rather used as-needed by hoplites purusuing renounced magi.
Maria felt that this nullification of the Parma Magica would possibly lead to the fall of the Order. She admits that out of desperation, she destroyed his lab notes on the subject, and used Mentem magics to remove the memory of his research. She readily admits to her culpability in these actions, though she denies scrying magically on Richard, for what that is worth.
She insists that her actions were to protect the order, though it personally makes her sick to the stomach to have betrayed a friend in this manner.

"She should feel sick after her actions. But I concede that perhapse, they were not entirely without merit. Since she is that last person with any idea of how this...Parma Effrego. I don't think she should live but...One last question. What was Richard researching before his experiments altered thusly?

Clearly we don't want our greatest strength rendered null and void, So actions must be taken and measure put in place. I prepose that we ban research into circumventing the Parma Magica for the safety of the Order. This is, of course a seperate issue and I am happy to discuss it at length...latter. Such measure, I admit, could be seen as an attempt to unduely limit another magi's magical power. That is not the intent of such a preposal, however and given the possiblity of such a breakthrough could be made in another tribunal, I beleive that it is a measure for the next Grand Tribunal.

But back to the matter at hand. Maria is guilty by her admission, and any attempt to mitigate her sentance to a lesser one would be opening the floodgate to any number of other 'exceptional circumstances for the good of the Order'. I can easily imagine that some young spring covenant waging war with the Church claiming such a defense. Had Alfred not brought formal charges...we might have been able to show some lenicy. Now all we can do is make her end quick."

We all know that knowledge is power. And that power is a dangerous thing if it falls on the wrong hands. As such, removing knowledge that can be in dangeorus hands, OUR hands in this case, might be a good idea. Sometimes.

However, I am not sure that the effects of this research would have been so dramatic. Parma is already a weak defence against our most esteemed Hoplites and hunters of supernatural creatures. Their penetration power tends to outpass all but the most dedicated parma experts. The great thing of Parma is that you are now listening to me, and our sodales before me, and you do not think they are crooks to be torched automatically. Bonisagus did not bring us the ultimate combat shield (pardon the pun) but the ultimate social shield. We, in house Jerbiton think this is just plain amazing. If it was just an armor it would not have allowed us to create the great collaborative efforts that we have! Parma is not rendered useless if it does not protect you from incoming spells of our Order, since that happened already. parma protects you from the social consequences of our great Gift, and from the powers of other supernatural wielders, be them faeries or hedge traditions. Here is where it shines.

As such, destroying this knowledge might not have been necessary, specially if it also destroyed the research in other areas that our Bonisagus colleague was performing. Our Trianomae sodalis was too harsh in his actions. Her suffering at having done that to her Amicus might be considered punishment enough. or it might not. We have laws and procedural methods in our August Order for a reason, and acting on your own volition only brings chaos, even if your intentions are noble. Demons bask in nobility of spirit.

As such I accept our Trianomae's idea of a harsh punishment against herself. I will suggest letting her suggest a worthy punishment for her actions and if this tribunal consider it worthy that is what we will do. I salute her kindness of spirit in bringing this case to us, since that is a case of clear commitment to our laws and spirit of collaboration.

With that, Valens Jerbitonae sits again.

Maria wishes to begin to repay her debt to Richard in any matter other than assisting int he research that breaches Parma Magica. This includes the following:
Crafting a longevity ritual for him, at her expense (she has slightly more skill in this area).
Training him in Mentem until he reaches her level of proficiency (she is an acknowledged expert in the field, hence her ability to wipe his memories).
Assisting him for an additional length of time, at his discretion. She names three years (twelve seasons) of service, but seems amenable to be negotiated up.
Finally, she will provide him with a drop of her blood. Should he ever be in an emergency, he is guaranteed to be able to summon her or get a mental message to her, and have it guaranteed to reach her.

She only asks for herself that if she is to be put to death, she be given enough time to repay some of her debt to Richard, who she sincerely regrets betraying in this manner.

She sits resignedly and waits.

Ecelo ex Miscellanea, an itinerant Seeker, speaks next:

it is clear that Maria has deprived not only Richard, but the whole Order of magical power. She is at fault with all of us.

She must be punished severely, to curb similar acts in the future. However, it seems she acted entirely with the Order's good in mind;and she openly confessed her crime. Thus, I would propose a punishment other then death. As Maria deprived us all of magical power, it seems fitting she be deprived of all of her magical power. I propose that Maria first remove from her own mind the memories of all she found about Richard. She will then be severed from her familiar, and will hand over to the Tribunal all vis and every item of power she owns. Finally, she will swear a magical oath never to use any magic of her own hereafter, for whatever purpose, unto her death."

I am fairly sure she will prefer death. We are creatures of magic. What you suggest is similar to steal her soul from her. I vote for killing her or letting her go, but not such punishment as suggested.