Chapter 0: In-Character Discussions

(For in-character discussions that took place in the year and a half before the Tribunal meeting.)

Early in the covenant's life, as he is preparing the charter tio be registered with the tribunal, Cornelius asks, "What shall we call our covenant?"

St, Avery has a number of fabulous ideas:

"The Pit of Death!"

"It's not a Perdo source, unfortunately," Emily commented, as she subtly pushed St. Avery's ale-mug away from the registry paperwork. She had been attending Council ever since it was discovered that her brother needed....handling in any gathering that lasted over 15 minutes.

"Well, I mean, there is a big pie of bones at the bottom. It's kind of creepy. And 'Fovea Mortis' does sound sufficiently mysterious."

"That it does. It may not look sufficiently appropriate on our stationary, however."

"Oh. Sure, sure, sure....The Black Hole!" He waved his spoon around, gesturing at the ceiling of the council chambers. "On account of it being so dark down here. Plus, we are in a hole."

"'Niger Vorago' does have a ring to it. But it sounds a bit cliché, what with the sheer amount of Blackness being named in other covenants; Black Tower, Black Valley, etc." She raised an eyebrow. "Doesn't every Tribunal already have a Black Something? If only historically."

"I think it might be for the occult connotations. Dark, hidden, mysterious, black."

"Well, suffice to say, you probably don't need to overuse the idea. People might think you're being ostentatious."

"Yes, because magi aren't ever grandiose and extravagant." But he thought a bit more. "The Solitary Spring?"

"'Fons Solis'? It does get away from the macabre - and we are in the boondocks."

"Or Redwell - on account of the blood."

She sighed. This might take a while.

I'm on mobile so apologies for any mistakes but making a forum post on it is rather difficult, also I'm a bad writer in general so we'll see where this goes.

Bastion speaks up "what preposterous suggestions, though one should hardly be surprised considering the content of that ridiculous book you live by." Bastion turns to address Cornelius, "see I have a much better idea, I see before me quite a rag tag bunch of Magi who are no doubt guaranteed to cause all sorts of trouble and in the centre is the man who brought you all together, smitten by God and yearning only to return to his wife, what are we if not an Odyssey."

Elizabeth is out of her Sanctum for once "What about... I've got nothing. I like 'The Solitary Spring' actually. Good name. Somewhat informative. Not too ominous."

Clovis shakes his head as magi seems to argue about such insignificant matter, with mixed amusement.

"Make sure we're not forced to call it a fighting pit Sodales" he says with a grim. "Maybe we could make a reference to De Bello Gallico that would certainly please the most erudite amongst our brethren...It says sacrifices can't render the gods propitious. I say we call it "propitius sacrificium" : the propitious sacrifice. That would echo the necessary sacrifice of a beast to get the virtus, and what we're prepare to all give up personally for the covenant to succeed."

"I come from simple peasant family," says Cornelius with his slavic accent, "and we call things by simple names. Let us be honest, we live in a hole in the ground, much isolated from others. A pit or fovea, to use the crude word. We live in solitude or solitaria. What else can we say of ourselves? I would not call us ragtag, as sodalis Bastion says. But we have indeed little common goals, but to make this place a good one to study in, away from mundane influence. A worthy goal, in that this do not encourage us to break our Oath."

"But I speak much and offer little ideas, I'm afraid. One other thought. Locals call this the spirit of the mountain, to be fed by sacrifice. So something about the mountain could serve. The heart of the mountain, Cor Montem? Or its soul, Anima Montem?" He shrugs, "Little ideas is all I have, not grand names those are. This discussion may seem about a small detail, but for the charter a name is needed."

A moment later, he shakes his head, "I remember something else now. Chilhac has those strange stone formations upon which it is built, like pillars of stone. Our pit is much like the same, but going into the ground. So perhaps something about that, like Profunda Columnae, would describe us. Just Profunda? Or with some other word, like Profunda Spiritus or Profunda Mons?" (Deep Spirit or Deep Mountain)

"Or the other way around," he adds, "using Columnae Mons?" (The pillars of the mountain)

In the quiet lull of the conversation, St. Avery had an idea. Or a spasm - sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference.

"VIS!" he yelled, jostling his dish. "I mean, what are we going to do with it?" He shuffled round in his pockets, and pulled out a vial, which held a glowing, sparkling liquid. "I've got a couple of Rego pawns, here."

"Didn't you put those in the repository?" Emily said, raising her eyebrow.

"On the to-do list. Right after number thirty-four: Learn Occitain. Anyway, I've got one word for you all." He stood up, clenching the vial in his fist, and leaned over the table. "Flying stone platforms."

"That's three words. How about I do that for you, right now."

"Only one if you say it fast." he said, but handed the vial over. "They're really useful. We had one back in Nigrasaxa. Want to set up up a salt refinery; 100 or so pounds a year." Then he paused. "Rule of Silver in Provencal? Actual silver, or just anything produced by magic?"

Emily paused before leaving the council chambers. "Likely any process - that's what primus Maximanius said, last we spoke."

He shrugged. "No matter. Three Tribunals in close shipping distance. That's 30 pounds a year, minimum for sale; we can reduce our own salt costs, as well." Then he paused. "Oh, right. Desalination process out on the coast. Simple Rego technique; takes about a minute to cast, a couple of hours to bag up the salt. One magi and one grog, a day or so of work, flying there and back. Platform can hold just over a ton of salt, plus sundries." He waved his hand vaguely in the air. "Then storage, contacting a local merchant to handle the sales. Pretty easy to work into the covenant finances. Plus, locals like cheap salt."

"They are useful to have," said Emily, returning from the vis chest. "Mainly for transportation. It's not instantaneous, but they can carry as much as a medium-sized wagon, and they can get almost anywhere in the tribunal in a day. Also, with a bit of training, a mundane teamster can get better than a magi at maneuvering one."

"And they're really fun to fly!"

"They also tend to frighten the locals if you're too obvious with them," She said. "You need a...discrete teamster to fly one."

"She means 'smuggler'."

"Someone comfortable travelling at night and who knows the terrain. One who knows how to be unassuming with their wares, and how to unload them without bringing attention to oneself."

"Right. Still talking about a smuggler. Obviously, they need practice on flying the thing." He hummed. "So, probably two seasons to set up the whole process; one for me to make the platform (and train the teamster), and another for them to practice and get the routes set up. Actual work time for the magi after that is measured in a couple of hours a year. So! Any other ideas?"

[OOC: and if anyone suggests "buying books with it"...]

St. Avery points over to the largish stack of books he's written. "Vis-to-book trading can be done at any time; no benefit to doing it at Tribunal." Then he shrugged. "We've already got enough in the book trade to keep us occupied for the next few years. The Stone Throne will generate vis in that time, that we can trade then. But the flying platform and the salt source? That we can do immediately, and get value for it now."

(OOC: Any more opinions of what the name of the covenant should be?)

Cornelius makes a half-shrug at Avery's* suggestion. "A magical cart? Certainly, it would be useful. But!" He raises his right index finger, "Would not giving it unrestricted access to a mundane, away from magus supervision, a risky thing? What would prevent this smuggler from using it for things we do not agree with?" The Guernicus shakes his head, "Even worse, it would be quite visible, thus blatant use of magic. Could bring us trouble. We would need additional enchantments so as to make it and those aboard not so visible. Making it even more... tempting? For a smuggler to just leave with it. Safeguards we would need, at the very least. Without them, I would say it just be used by magi, not mundanes. Otherwise, we court accusations of endangering our sodales."

* (OOC: I can't bring myself to call your magus St. Avery, not matter how hard I try. :wink: It is such a non-Hermetic way of addressing a magus -- either presumptuous because he is calling himself a saint, or too mundane by calling himself by the place you were born. I think you mentioned at some point that his first name was Michael. That would have been his birth name, assumedly. But what name was he given by his pater after his Gauntlet?)

"Oh, they probably will. I figure we just demand a percentage of the profit, and prohibit anything too egregious. Keep a blood sample to ensure that they won't run away; anyone who knows enough about hermetic magic to fly one of these will know what that means." He shrugged. "Let him make himself rich, but have those riches be tied to us, and he'll remain loyal enough."

(OOC - well, the idea was that he was called "St. Avery" during his apprenticeship, as there were two other Michaels in the covenant already; When it came to being Gauntleted, everyone kind of shrugged and decided to go with the name that they were already calling him. I figure it's as presumptuous as calling someone Saint-Germain, which from what I can figure out is already a last name in France, anyway.)

((ooc: From the French Revolution:

Un autre donne au tribunal le nom de De Saint-Cyr.
Il n'y a plus de De, fait le président.
Eh bien! Saint-Cyr.
Il n'y a plus de Saint.
Cyr, alors.
Il n'y a plus de Sire.

Another one tells the tribunal his name is De Saint-Cyr.
There are no more "De", says the President. (De in a name indicates nobility)
Ah, well! replies Saint-Cyr.
There are no more saints.
Cyr, then.
There is no more Sire.

wrong thread. Stupid me.))

"Are we so desperate for wealth that we are ready to turn blind eye to someone doing criminal activities with the enchantments that we craft? Do we not, as magi, have responsilibity to ensure that the fruits of our magic is used properly?" Cornelius shakes his head, "If we provide the tools, tools that cannot be gotten from other sources, then we share some responsibility for the crimes. This is not simply a knife, that any smith could make and sell. This is an enchanted item we are speaking of."

(OOC: First names and last names are different kettles of fish. Sure, "Saint-Germain" is a last name, but it's not a first name. "Germain" is a first name. Maybe it's just because French is my primary language, but the name still sticks sideways to me. Don't let that stop you! :laughing: )

"Well, seeing as the primary profit from smuggling comes from not paying the road and port taxes that we won't be using, as well as the tariffs that ensure us the safety from bandits that we won't be attacked by...Yes. I'm perfectly fine with that." He squinted at the rest of the group. "Or were you planning on paying the toll charges for every bridge flown over? That seems unnecessary." Then he shrugged. "Really, it's hardly smuggling if you simply don't use the roads. Last I checked, the local nobility doesn't tax air travel."

[OOC - Ah - well, I've been known by my last name in a number of groups, mainly because "Kevin" was the 2nd most common name to given boys in America in the year I was born (Michael being the most common) - there were 4 other Kevin's on the floor of my 1st year dormitory at college, for example. As such, going by a last name doesn't seem odd to me.]

Cornelius shakes his head, "You do not understand what I am saying. I do not object to us avoiding tolls for things we need. I object to simply giving a smuggler control of an enchanted item we create. Smuggling is a criminal activity. A criminal seldom limits himself to just one crime, if he has opportunity. A smuggler would see opportunity and do other things. We would not know what use he would do. He might use it to transport weapons to sell to brigands. He might use it to steal by using it to access a hard to reach place. Or abduct a child for ransom. Or any other criminal activity much worse than simple smuggling. We would not know, but we would be responsible."

"That is why I say, if we create this cart, or platform, we must control its use. Not give it to a mundane for general use."

"As for other uses for this vis, I have not given this thought. Perhaps a different idea someone will have?"

"I have to agree with Cornelius on this. Let's not give a smuggler the ability to fly. I certainly think such a vehicle could be useful, but I suggest keeping a close eye on it."

"Really? Who have you been talking to? Most people I knew at home just smuggled one thing, on the side. My uncle did a bit of smuggling - a bag or two of salt, mainly, in his trips to London. It's how I got the idea for...all of this. Or maybe had a nice bottle of wine tucked into his cart on the way back that he didn't tell the guards about." He waved his hands vaguely trough the air. "Most folks that traded in such a way did a bit of smuggling, on the side as part of their main profession."

St. Avery just gave his sodales a flat glare. "Again, who have you been talking to? That sounds like the preaching of a sermon. They're as likely to engage in kidnapping and murder as poachers are - as likely as you or I are."

"I'm not talking about giving it to someone; they'd be under our employment, but would have some discretion regarding their business opportunities. Unless you know of a way to set up and maintain those sorts of relationships?"

"Give him a share of the profits he brings in, but have a magi mind-read him when he gives his monthly accounting. He'd work for us, so that's pretty much part of the required contract from the start. The only way to beat that is to have some other covenant mindwipe him on a regular basis. And if anyone can do that, then they're committing a high crime for...what, misuse of a minor enchanted item and a couple of pound's worth of goods?" With that, he shrugged again. "You have to trust your own employees at some point. Control like you're talking about breeds resentment. Set up a few reasonable safeguards, and let the man have a reasonable portion of the profits of his own labor."

[OOC - I would imagine that St. Avery has observed the 'amateur' side of smuggling - farmers going into the big city and not paying the appropriate taxes on a few luxury goods. He also may have heard of one or more of the people who lived in his town who were semi-professional smugglers. It sounds like Cornelius is thinking of much more organized crime syndicates, who happen to also smuggle.]

Cornelius nods to Elizabeth, acknowledging her support, before answering Avery's objections.

"Someone who simply hides a bag or two of salt is one thing. They do not develop contacts to earn large amounts of silver -- which is what you were discussing, no? Someone with contacts and knowledge of what to smuggle and where to sell is much more involved." Cornelius shrugs, "Perhaps the training of my House makes me more suspicious about those who do criminal activities. But people who disregard one law are more likely to disregard others. Crime begets more crime. What is it called? A slippery slope?"

"So I ask again, are we so much in need of silver that we would encourage a mundane criminal activity? Would the same vis not better used to craft, for example, an enchanted item to help our mundanes treat the wool from their sheep to produce better fabric with less effort? The idea of a flying cart still has merit, if only to make it easier for us to travel or transport things we need. But I am not in favour of letting a mundane use it without our supervision. Peering into the mind is not a trivial spell. Better not to have need of it."

(OOC: Cornelius has little direct experience of smuggling, but he shares his House's outlook on breaking the law. A philosophical position, if you will. :wink: )

(On the subject of the covenant name)

"Any other idea?"

(On a different subject)

After the name of the covenant has been decided on, Cornelius asks, "On different subject, our charter specify that the office of disceptator rotates in sequence of Hermetic seniority amongst full members. Am I correct in thinking that our sodalis Bastion would be first? He would be in charge until one year after Tribunal, yes?"

St. Avery frowned. "Wait, the upcoming Tribunal, or the one after that? If it's the upcoming one, that's really cheap - he only has to do it for a year or so. If it's the one after that, it's a bit expensive - he'll have to do it for an extra year."

After a bit of reflection, he continued. "If I were to decide, I'd say make it the longer term, and give a bit of compensation from the vis stores for personal use, or something."