Chapter 0 - Getting Together

Context: This is the interaction between the magi right before the Tribunal meeting of 1179. It assumes that Petronius and Aedituus are travelling together from Triamore towards Durenmar, passing through Koblenz so that Praxiteles join them on the way up the river. Since none of the characters have magic that allows them to travel quickly, it assumes mundane travel times. It also assumes that Praxiteles sent a reply to Petronius' last letter, informing him of the location of his house in Koblenz.

Petronius looks up from the end of Praxiteles' letter and glances at Aedituus. "I think this is the place, sodalis," he says in Latin and gesturing towards the large house at the end of the street. Both magi are travel-stained and weary after two weeks on the road, much worse than either Edgar or Katherine, their shield grogs.

Quickening his pace, Petronius makes his way to the main entrance and uses the door knocker to annouce his presence. As he waits for an answer, the others catch up with him, the grogs vigilant out of habit but generally relaxed. Cities were more dangerous to their purse than to their lives, so the magi were relatively safe.

"Ja?"[1] Comes from the other side of door. It's in slightly accented German. The wicket in the door opens and a tanned and face appears. He looks at the assembled company and concentrates for a moment, "Wie gehen Sie? (How are you?)" At the first few words, he looks briefly annoyed. "Ach so, gut." He looks back into the house and calls back into the house, "Alips, sie sind hier." He opens the door and invites them in.

""Come in, come in. It's good of you to come here. The city is oppressive for us, not? Come in, come in, and you will feel it fall away." Saying it all in German. Crossing the threshold the magi feel the divine aura fall away. Immediately inside the house there is a hallway that leads to the left and a large open room immediately in front of the door. It has the standard Hermetic sanctum marker in front of the opening, but it is not closed off. Inside the sanctum is what looks like a sculptor's studio rather than a standard Hermetic lab. Praxiteles guides the men down the hallway to a comfortable sitting room. Continuing in German, "Can we all speak German, or do I need Alips here to translate for me? She'll be here in a moment with refreshments in any event." True to his word, a stunning women with dark hair comes in bringing a tray of cheese, with a pitcher of beer, bread and assorted pickles.

[1] I had some high school German. I'm not going to make a habit of it, but it plays up that he can't speak to the magi in Latin...

Aedituus, bemused by the language he does not yet understand, follows the others into the house. He stops for a moment, peering into the room with the sculpting tools and partly finished projects. Noticing the sanctum marker at the last moment, he tucks his hands into his sleeves and quickly walks on to the sitting room.

When Alips arrives with the food, he gratefully takes some of the cheese and bread, and thanks her, in Latin. Turning to Praxitelese, he speaks in French, "Merci. I am sorry, Sodalis, that I do not speak German, and my French is not very good." He pauses, thinking about the words, "I thank you for the bread and cheese." He pours himself a small amount of beer to wash down the food, raising his mug to the other magi. As he does so, his sleeve slides down his arm, revealing the still bright tattoo of an emerald vine around his left wrist. He smiles as he sees it again, and blushes slightly.

Brushing his long nose with his finger, he continues in Latin, We have much to discuss about our plans for a new covenant and for our imminent travels to Durenmar to formalize its founding. As the conversation and planning get underway, Aedituus produces a hinged wax tablet and stylus from within his sleeves to make notes about their needs and plans.

Note: A quick check of the languages known by the magi present reveals that the only common language would be French (Aedituus 2, Petronius 3, Praxiteles 4). Alips can also act as a translator from Latin to Greek for Praxiteles, although I don't know how good she is in Latin (no stats available). So I assume that the discussions will quickly move either to Latin, with Alips translating, with possibly a few words of French thrown in.

"Guten Tag Bruder, ich danke Ihnen für die Aufnahme uns in Ihrem Hause. (Good day, sodalis, thank you for welcoming us in your house.)" (I have very little knowledge of German, so I used Google translate, but it is the native language of my magus. I could do the French easily, since it is my native language, but will spare you.)

(Still in High German) "It is true that the Dominion limits our access to magical energies, but I've never felt oppressed by it." As they move to the sitting room, Petronius adds, "Indeed, it might be better if she translates. I'm afraid our brother Aedituus does not understand German, and neither of us are any good at Greek." Then, as the woman he assumes to be Alips offers them refreshments, he thanks her in French, "Merci." He accepts some beer, but only a little food.

"Before we begin on that, is there someplace that our shield grogs can rest and refresh themselves? We also have a pack mule with us, from which I would like to get some of my notes regarding. Later, I believe that mine will go out to secure some lodging for us while we start our discussions here."

(If Praxiteles or Alips offer to host them, Petronius will accept. He didn't want to assume such hospitality for now. Once the grogs are taken care of, and Petronius has his notes, he will continue to the more serious discussions.)

"Well, sodales, how did you want to proceed? There are many things we may want to discuss, and I doubt we will be able to cover everything today. I think it might be wise to plan for a few of days of work here before we get back on the road to Durenmar." His wide mouth twists in a crooked smile as he adds, "This will also give us some time to recover a little before we proceed with more weeks of travel to the tribunal meeting. I, for one, am a little weary after two weeks on dusty roads."

Looking down to his notes, he turns serious, "As I said, we have much to discuss. Aedituus, you could our sodalis on your findings about the site after the preliminary survey you performed in the last few months. But first, I think we should discuss who will be joining us at the covenant, and the status on finding sponsors for the coming Tribunal." He looks at them and waits for Alips to complete translating. Provided that the other two agree, he continues.

(Since all of these will eventually be discussed, here's what Petronius has to say on each subject.)

On the subject of members: "In addition to ourselves, there are two other magi who should be joining us in this covenant. The first is still an apprentice at the moment, a young Bonisagus named Titus. I have met him before while visiting Durenmar, where he studies. Those studies concentrate mostly into the art of Vim, more specifically the study of auras and regiones. His pater believes that his young charge will need a place for himself when he completes his apprenticeship in two years." Looking at his notes, he moves on, "Another magus from whom I've had some discussions is an Ex Miscellanea named Hippocrates. Our correspondence have been sporadic, however, and I have not received anything from him for some time. He is apparently part of some sort of healer tradition that I have never heard of. I have informed him on the basics of our travel plans in my last letter. But whether he will actually meet us en route or actually join us directly at Durenmar, or even at all, I cannot tell." (OOC: Note that this is an opening for Gulla to introduce Hippocrates at any time during our trip to Durenmar.)

On the subject of sponsors: "Now, regarding sponsors to get our covenant approved by the Tribunal, we have some good news but still a lot to do. Triamore was easy." Petronius nods to Aedituus, "Our sodalis had already done the work when I visited there and was able to convince the Maga Aline of Bonisagus to support our endeavour. My pater also promised to sponsor us for Irminsul, while Titus' pater promised that he would also sponsor us in exchange for our promise to allow Titus to join us after his Gauntlet." Inclining his head towards Praxiteles, he adds, "Oculus Septentrionales also supports us and even arranged contact with you, sodalis."

Now he looks at his notes, before adding, "I've had some initial contacts with Irencillia and Crintera. We should be able to satisfy both, but details will need to be settled in person before the Tribunal. That leaves Roznov, Terschelling, Fengheld and Dankmar. I've unfortunately had little response from those, so we will have to approach them before official Tribunal business begins." A small grimace, before he finishes, "This may mean paying a vis bride to a few magi in order to secure those sponsorships, using some of the vis that Aedituus discovered when performing his survey of the region."

(Since this will be an ongoing discussion while the magi travel to Durenmar for tribunal, this might be a good opportunity for each of us to present, in character, what the expectations and projects would be? This might be a more interesting subject than the logistics of founding the covenant, much of which has already been discussed by the players. It will also help the magi understand each others' interests.)

"I have great hopes of contributing to the Order by researching and developping the concept of portals. Do you realize that such magic, as represented by Hermes Portal, have been used since the earliest days of our Order, but nonetheless are still essentially unchanged ever since? The only advance in that domain was Mercere's work on developing Mercere Portals, which share many of the limitations that the original spell does!" The normally reserved Petronius gets very much animated at this point. It is clear that this is a subject dear to his heart.

"Few magi truly realize how amazing portals truly are. Their magic is significantly different than most apportation magics, such as The Leap of Homecoming, that many of our sodales use in most of their long-distance travel. These spells affect their target directly, so their Form must reflect what you wish to apport, either in the basic make up of the spell or through casting requisites. There is also the matter of warping, which becomes a problem when you try to use them on groups. Meanwhile, a portal only affects those traveling through it indirectly. Instead, it seems to create a door, a brdge or a conduit between two locations, allowing anything across its treshold, without limitations regarding their Form, and without inflicting warping."

"Our Mercere berthren have been quick to realize the benefits of portals, as we can see by their deployment of a portal network. But their focus is mostly on the day-to-day usage of these portals to provide our Order with efficient communication and trade. Imagine if we could enhance our understanding of portal magic so that, at any time. Instead of spending weeks on the roads, we could open a temporary portal to Durenmar. And simply we through as a group, along with our mundane companions." As he was speaking, Petronius' hands had been very active, pentomining and illustrating his words. His eyes had sparkled and his cheeks reddened from excitement, and he'd paced around.

Taking a deep breath, he comes back to more common matters, "Obviously, such research will take time and much resources, which is why it is my hope that our covenant can be located away from interference of all kinds, while being accessible enough for me to be able to travel to areas of interest in my research. I expect I'll have to travel by more mundane means for quite some time before I am able to do so using portals." A somewhat embarassed smile, "But what about you, my brothers? What are your interests and goals, once our covenant is established? What will be your needs and expectations?"

In French, "I can speak French, is this a better fit? Alips can stay, she is fluent in French and Latin and can explain words we might use that the other doesn't understand." Alips stats are posted here
"The grogs can go into the cellar, where it is cool, after the dusty and hot road travel, it's well appointed, and not as bad as it sounds. Of course, they will have easy access to the beer down there. My custos, Leon, is already taking care of them, I'm sure." Praxiteles isn't shy about consuming food and drink and consumes a huge portion of the tray. It doesn't show on his lean frame, though.
Praxiteles listens attentively to the discussion of the covenant, but does seem bored by the discussion to a certain extent.
When it comes to discussing the expression of their Art, Praxiteles explains his"I'm interested in art. I'm looking at methods of creating art that allow the magus to better match the capabilities of an artist. I'll probably pursue some research along those lines. but for now, Alips and I have been settling into our home here, and trying to find worthy people for our future endeavor. We put ourselves at your disposal for that, so if you now of people you might want me to contact, I can do that on behalf of the covenant. And we've put out some discreet feelers for able men and women, with Alips cousin at Oculus Septentrionalis. Henri is engaged in" he pauses and his face shows some amount of displeasure, commerce. Where he meets with many people of diverse talents. Of course, the people he would send to us, and I'm sorry to say this darling he says looking at Alips, "people he doesn't find useful."

"Whic Art more specifically are you interested in?" Petronius asks curiously. It is soon obvious that some of the subtleties of the French language escaped him, for he understood this was something about the magical Arts. Once this has been cleared by Alips' translation to Latin, he rephrases his question. "Ah... I understand now... You speak of art as in sculpture or painting. I am afraid I know little of the subject, so what would be your needs for pursuing your research? In what ways could we shape our covenant so that it helps you in this?"

On the subject of people to help build and man the covenant, Petronius nods, "Indeed, we will need mundanes to help us sustain the covenant's needs. Some of the letters I've exchanged with potential sponsors have mentioned that they could help us find some grogs, or put us into contact with the right people to secure our site from mundane claims." Tilting his head in thought, he tries to choose his next words carefully, for he has recognized Praxiteles' disdain for commerce (a check of Per 1 + Folk Ken 2 + die roll 5 = 8 ).

"In some ways, we could use commerce as a tool to avoid suspicion. If we were to, say, provide the initial money to help one or two enterprising craftspeople or merchant to start a business in the outskirts of the city, this would provide us with a reason for our continued presence." He makes no direct mention of how the covenant's partial ownership would provide funds as well. "And that would also give us a reason for employing a sizeable number of mundanes as guards and servants."

With a sympathetic expression, he asks Praxiteles, "Would you be able to make inquiries about such people? This is, of course, beneath our station as magi to become mere merchants. But founding a new covenant requires some level of mundane contact, and we will all have to make some sacrifices and perform unsavory tasks. And you seem to be the best of us for this one." (This is an attempt as slight but subtle manipulation, a form of bargaining in a way. A check with Bargain 1 + Com 2 + stress die of 18 = 21 would indicate some success.)

Later, Petronius asks, "Will you be traveling with us to Durenmar for the tribunal?"

(No one has anything else to say? That's a bit disappointing. :frowning: Everyone, feel free to start on any subject that your magus would have wanted to discuss before Tribunal.)

Praxiteles says in French, "Rego, Herbam, Animal and Terram are probably the Arts I'm most interested in from an artistic sense, but I only need a journeyman's understanding of them to affect the base material, so once I develop that knowledge, I may focus on other things. In any event, I'm sure you are tired, I am because I'm an early riser. We have guest quarters available, but only one room, with two beds. I'd like us to get a good night's rest and begin our Journey to Durenmar." Alips escorts the magi to the guest room, while the grogs bunk with Praxitele's household folk.
Later that night, coming from Praxiteles' sanctum the sounds of a woman in the throws of passion can be heard. Oui is repeated often and loudly. It quiets down and then a few minutes later starts back up again. As long as an Awareness check isn't botched, Petronius and Aedituus will definitely hear it.

"Actually, I was thinking that we could swing by the potential site in the forest. Aedituus has explained his discoveries, but nothing replaces actually seing the place. He's assured me this would only delay us a few hours, and I believe this will help us greatly in our planning."

Although Petronius does hear the sounds, he soon slips to sleep anyway, tired from the last days' traveling. (Die roll of 2 + Per 1 + Awareness 2 = 5)

OOC: I suggest we simply zip forward. The site is visited, travel to Durenmar is done, the three magi and their entourage get to know each other during the trip. Arrival at Durenmar some days/weeks before start of the tribunal. We meet Titus and resume discussions.

((Agreed about zipping forward. Basing Praxiteles' reaction to Durenmar on the description in Guardians of the Forest.))
When Praxiteles arrives with his sodales at Durenmar, he seems a bit crestfallen, "I had expected something to rival the Library at Alexandria from antiquity."

OOC: Not that it really matters, but I found the following note in GotF p.24, regarding the date of the Tribunal meetings: "The formal
proceedings begin on the eve of the 1st of May (Walpurgis Night), and typically last for well over a week, with a great deal of politicking taking place before, during, and afterwards. In addition, each gild (and some of the Houses) hold separate meetings during the three days immediately before the Tribunal opening.

We can always replace the month to September, either for this specific tribunal or on a regular basis.

A bit surprised by the Greek magus, Petronius explains, "Appearances are deceiving, sodalis. Although Durenmar may seem quaint and small compared to the great cities, its worth lies in the knowledge and traditions of our Order." Using his hands to gesture at the valley around them, as they continue walking towards the Forum, he asks, "Can you not feel the energies filling the very air? Any mundane can build a palace and fill it with books. But only our Order can feel and harness the power that fills this valley."

Halfway towards the Forum, Petronius points to the right, where groups of people seem to be establishing a number of encampments in the green field. "I was thinking that we could set up our camp near the orchards. It is a bit farther, but we don't have much prestige yet, and not much of an encampment to display. So it might be better to be unconspicuous. And that way, we won't run the risk of creating friction with those we call upon to sponsor us." If all agree, the mundanes are dispatched to take care of this as the magi press forward.

Soon, the trio of magi walk past a huge oak to their left. This as the traditionnal area of Irencillia, Petronius explains. Finally, reaching a crossway, the young Bonisagus leads them left to a standing stone, where they are welcome by a maga and a young boy. "Mistress Maria, a pleasure as always, sodalis! And here is Titus! How are you studies progressing?" The trio is welcomed by the older maga, and granted Aegis tokens.

"Ah Petronius! Good to see you." Titus smiles "My studies are progressing to my satisfaction thank you, though you will have to ask my mater for her opinion I suppose. Are you here for the Tribunal? Would you perhaps have time to discuss an idea I had? And these people, are they perhaps the magi you mentioned earlier?" He shuts up somewhat suddently, appearantly remembering that he's running his mouth at fully gauntleted magi.

At some point during the stay in Koblenz or on the road, Aedituus will talk about his thinking and research:
I am impressed by your researches, sodales. Having spent the first eighteen years of my life in a monastery, I find myself drawn to explore a different aspect of our Gift and Arts. I have truly had two apprenticeships, and now that I am the master of my own learning, I see my experiences in the Church and in the Order as intertwined. You see, I always found the mysteries of the Church intriguing, and dare I say, enigmatic. Aedituus smiles quickly and his wide eyes brighten as he warms to his subject. During my Hermitic apprenticeship, I came to realize that much of what I was learning about the Enigma and living an apt life have parallels to the teachings of the Gospels. Not necessarily to the Church, mind you, as the humans who oversee it can be grossly fallible. But I often wonder whether my search for the Enigma is not the same as one's search for Heaven. I am looking forward to having a place where I can research and contemplate these ideas.

Aedituus is happy to show the other magi the proposed site, explaining that while the aura is a little lower than they might like, the ghosts in the area have kept most travelers away. Another site at a ruined farmhouse has a similar aura, but does not encompass as big a space. Additionally, he feels that the aura in the primary site can be strengthened somewhat, given the dormant power in the statues of Mercury and Rosemerta.

Upon arriving at Durenmar, Aedituus becomes very excited at the prospect of working in the Library. (I wonder if I'll be allowed to stay on after the Tribunal? I'd be happy to offer my services in the Scriptorium for a time!)

Aedituus smiles, That would depend Titus, on whom Petronius mentioned! He turns toward Maria. I am Aedituus ex Criamon, sodalis, and pleased to be here at Durenmar. He bows slightly, hands clasped in his sleeves, then tilts his head sideways to address Titus. I would be honored, Titus, if you might be allowed to show us your view of this great covenant, his eyes widen just a bit, especially the library.

"I shall be honoured to show you around magus!" and then with a slight delay and a little less enthusiasm "Though not the Great Library I fear, for I am not yet allowed in there save by my mater's command"

"An interesting idea and worthy endeavor, sodalis, although how you hope to reconciliate the inimical nature of the Divine to Magic is beyond me." Petronius smiles, "But of course that's what research is all about, isn't it? Pushing against and beyond known and accepted boundaries."

"A statue of Mercury? Hmmm... you may be right, Aedituus. Perhaps if we were to rededicate this area to those ancient powers this would strengthen the aura. For it to still be active after all these centuries of neglect, the well of energy must be deep indeed. This definetively makes this site a prime choice for us."

"I am sure that something can be arranged. The Great Library is always in need of scribes; it is actually one of the ways to earn credits to be allowed to study its contents. For non-Bonisagi, at least. Members of my House contribute in different ways." There is just a hint of superiority (or perhaps pride) in the statement.

Looking at Maria, Petronius asks, "If that is acceptable to you, Magistra? If we are to make a place for your discipulus when he completes his apprenticeship, it would be good if we could get to know him better, and vice versa. Having him serve as guide for our sodales, who are only recently arrived in our Tribunal, would be an auspicious start."

At a nod from his Mater, Titus is off and clearly pleased to show "his" visitors around the covenant where he has spent so many years already.
Clearly both happy to listen and eager to talk.
"Should we perhaps start with the towers? Or would you rather save them for later, and see the more mundane side first?"

Having himself been a guest to Durenmar in the past, Petronius leaves the other two magi decide.

[OOC: Did Alips travel with Praxiteles to serve as a translator for him? Since many parts of Durenmar are inaccessible to mundanes, that could be a problem. And, with the amount of traveling that has been done, her Motion Sickness flaw will have meant a miserable trip for her (the trip back will be even worse, since we'll be able to travel faster by boat).]

If needed, Petronius will offer to translate for Praxiteles. Not with great deal of enthusiasm, but he will offer nevertheless.