Case 16: An Eye for an Eye, or in this case . . .

(Thanks CJ for rattling my cage and letting me contribute.)

Case 16

Magus Tantalus of House Verditius, suffering from pronounced pride and exaggerated self-importance, enchanted his diary with a curse, so that anyone who opened the cover without first citing Tantalus's parens' and grandparens' names was inflicted with the mental obsession to eat the offending hand that opened the diary, with the obsession lasting long enough for the inflicted to chew serious and permanent damage. Magus Autolycus of House Tytalus, known nigromancer and longevity ritual specialist, was enlisted to prepare a longevity ritual for Magus Tantalus, who was required to spend an entire season with Autolycus, and rather than let Autolycus into his sanctum, nor daring to enter the nigromancer's sanctum, commissioned use of the covenant's spare laboratory for the both of them, so that Autolycus could conduct his laboratory work on Tantalus. Both magi brought personal items with them, magical and mundane, and both agreed to share the laboratory for the season. Autolycus worked on Tantalus's longevity ritual, while Tantalus read a summa on Corpus magic, an activity that did not require a laboratory and could easily occur in conjunction with the Autolycus's lab work.

At some point – the story differs depending on who is telling it – Autolycus opened Tantalus's diary and subsequently ate his right hand down to the wrist. At tribunal, Autolycus demands compensation, saying that he will only accept the mandatory self-mastication of Tantalus' own staff-holder. Tantalus claims that he warned Autolycus about the diary, and if the Tytalus hadn't gone snooping he would still be able to fold his laundry with both hands, and counter-demands that Autolycus finish the longevity ritual, which has already been paid for, and which was interrupted by Autolycus's midnight meal.

Autolycus claims that the Verditius did warn him, but then brought a Corpus summa that looked exactly like the diary, and was in the habit of leaving both laying on the work bench, at various times. Autolycus says that he was merely checking a small notation in the Corpus book as he worked on Tantalus's longevity potion.

How does the tribunal rule?

Mateo ex Verditius stands.

I argue that Tantalus is entirely in the wrong in this case. Having such a deadly item, with no clear purpose, is of the utmost folly. While intent to cause harm cannot be proven, foolish negligence is certainly beyond doubt. If the two books are truly identical, then I wonder if his intent was... no, no, folly. Not even the most malicious of magi would cause harm to someone preparing a longevity ritual before the ritual was completed. No one would--forgive me, Autolycus--bite the hand that fed him so.

While Tantalus is guilty, I reject the idea that his hand must be mutilated.
First off, he must absolutely and immediately heal Autolycus' hand. He must cast a healing spell himself, or hire a magus at Tribunal as well. Either way, it is to be at his own expense.
The Longevity Ritual--hmm, it is a service bought and paid for. I propose we leave it up to Autolycus on whether or not to complete it.
Tantalus should be forced to spend a year in service to Autolycus. But, to curb his pride, not with teaching, extracting vis, or other such lofty tasks. Rather, perhaps acting as a simple scribe.

Lastly, this diary of which he is so obsessed and which is so dangerous? He should be compelled to burn it, here in front of everyone, until it is ash.
Let us then only remember his name as someone never to do business with and otherwise let him be forgotten.
Forgive my anger, sodales. I normally don't speak quite this forcefully, but it enrages me that someone of my own House could act so foolishly and give us all such a poor name."
He sits, flushed.

Ecelo ex Miscellanea, an itinerant Seeker, speaks next:

"I would take a stand opposite to that of Mateo of Verditius. Autolycus took a book belonging to Tantalus (thinking to take another book belonging to Tantalus) without permission from Tantalus (to take either book). Even just this should exonerate Tantalus: any damage Autolycus has incurred from improper handling of the book is entirely his fault. In addition, Autolycus had been warned that one of the two books was dangerous, and had obviously seen that the two books were sufficiently alike that he might confuse them. So he was fully aware of the risk of taking either of them.

I think Autolycus should pay for his own healing. If Tantalus wants, Autolycus should also complete the longevity ritual; though it would be reasonable for Tantalus to no longer trust Autolycus at this point, so I would allow him the option to rescind the contract and claim back whatever payment he made. Technically, this accident has also caused Tantalus a minor inconvenience, since he may have to postpone laboratory work that is impossible to carry out while the longevity ritual is being prepared, but since he is not asking compensation for that, and Autolycus has already been punished, I believe we should not press the issue further."

Two questions: Are Tantalus and Autolycus members of the same covenant? Does the Corpus Summa Autolycus speaks of belong to the covenant, to Tantalus, or to some third instance still?

Also, both Tantalus' and Autolycus' names are downright discriminating - but there are no code provisions against this. :smiley:


Tenebrous ex Criamon stands and addresses the gathered magi.

"It seems to me that Tantalus provided a warning about the danger of the diary. Autolycus acknowledges that he knew this book, which was not his property, was dangerous and that he had been warned about it. He then opened a book he says looked identical to the dangerous book. Why? Why would he do such a foolish thing? Surely, if the two books looked so similar, and if he knew one of them was protected by dangerous magic, he would simply have waited for the return of Tantalus and asked him if it was the summae or the diary he was about to open. Tantalus has done nothing wrong. While he may b paranoid and have made reckless enchantments, he also made the effort to warn his sodalis. Further, are we now to subject our magics to the tribunal to rule on their recklessness or dangerousness? No! A magi's magic is his own concern.

Tantalus has committed no crime. Autolycus has also committed no crime. He is guilty of nothing more than foolish behaviour for which he has already been punished. The only thing this tribunal should rule on is that Tantalus should be able to reclaim any thing he has paid for the longevity potion and walk away from the deal with no prejudice. It would be wrong of us to enforce the agreement when Autolycus has now such a powerful motive for revenge."