Chapter 0: Konrad Arrives at Fengheld

(In which we will tell the short story of Konrad's reception at Fengheld.)

After an uneventful trip up the Elbe river, followed by two days of walking the muddy roads of Saxony-Anhalt up into the Harz Mountains, Konrad arrives at Fengheld.

The covenant is located on a hilltop, with an immense curtain wall with many towers. The surrounding vineyards are bustling with activity, with over a dozen people working there. Konrad can also see herds of goats and sheep grazing on the other sides of the hills, under the watchful eyes of shepherds, and peasants are toiling in the fields in the valley floor below the vineyards.

When the young magus and his grog approach the gates, the pair of grogs standing watch there ask them what their business is. They are neither welcoming nor threathening, rather being watchful and professional. When the Bonisagus announces who he is and what his business is, they bid him to wait under a small awning with a few benches and a low table. After less than an hour's wait, a mature maga arrives.

"Welcome to Fengheld, sodalis. I am Dorana of Bonisagus," shes says with a smile, "from the lineage of Irmele. You must be Konrad, Maximianus' filius!"

Konrad is well rested and ready to depart once it comes time to leave for Fengheld. His family had been hospitable enough, and clearly was trying. But he knew that the Gift had its influence, and child or not, his parents were glad to see him go.

His journey is relatively straightforward. He'd prefer to fly to Fengheld and save himself some trouble. But he has baggage and a grog to worry about, so that's not an option. Instead, he travels via more conventional routes, allowing Gerhard to handle most of the details, since the people they meet don't take an immediate dislike to the man.

Once at Fengheld, he takes on a deferential demeanor. He knows that he comes here as a supplicant, and he's well aware of what his other options are. He tells the grogs at the gate what his business is with little fanfare, and waits patiently for someone to see him. He stands immediately when Dorana arrives.

"I am indeed," Konrad replies to the older maga. "I'm so very glad that you were willing and able to receive me. You have my most heartfelt thanks."

"I am always happy to speak with a fellow member of our House," says Dorana with a smile. "Let us move to a more comfortable setting, shall we? You must have had enough dust from the road for a while, I'm sure!"

With that, she leads Konrad to one of the numerous towers dotting the outside wall of the fortress. The inner courtyard is bustling with mundanes going about their activities, here small carts being loaded with tools and supplies, there a cooper charring the inside of new barrels, and still at enough place grogs practicing under the severe gaze of a sergeant. Konrad's man is sent off with another grog to take charge of his master's baggage.

Inside the tower, the older maga take the lead as they climb stairs until they reach a study configured for comfortable discussion, chatting all the while about inconsequentials. She offers you refreshments before settling down in a padded chair. "So, sodalis, what brings you to Fengheld?"

"I'm looking for a covenant to call home," Konrad says simply, settling down in his chair. "I was apprenticed in England, at Nigrasaxa as I mentioned in my letter, but originally hail from the Rhine. I've come back here to be somewhere more familiar. My sister and her husband had come to serve at Nigrasaxa, but both died there of disease before I was gauntleted. That's the main reason that I left there - too many bad memories."

"I've heard a number of good things about Fengheld," he adds. "And I think that I could make a contribution to the covenant. I understand that any position I might gain would be a very junior one. But I'm willing to serve the covenant as needed and contribute as you feel best. Obviously, I'd like to do some research of my own. But I understand that the needs of the covenant come first."

"That's laudable," Dorana says as she listens to Konrad's tale. "Didn't you Gauntlet a few years ago? You say in your letter that you spent some time in your family in Lübeck, but what studies have you done since leaving Nigrasaxa?"

"I gauntleted a year-and-a-half ago," Konrad explains. "I had some books available for study, and was able to practice as well. I studied some medicine and learned a little bit of magic theory, and was able to improve my Vim and Intellego capabilities. I also worked on some of my personal interaction skills during that time. I suffered for not having a proper library to access, and I wasn't able to do any lab work. But I wasn't idle."

"I see," she smiles, "that must have left you yearning to spend some time in the lab to pursue your research. What are your fields of interest? I know that your pater, Maximianus, has a wide range of interests. What are yours?" She pauses before adding, "Although we may have a position available for a new magus, this might not be something that is really suitable for you."

"My area of greatest interest in self-transformation," Konrad replies. "Though I'm also interested in healing magicks. Really, though, I've learned from my years with Maximianus that there is worth to be found in most areas of research. I also recognize that as a junior magus, my own desires would have to be secondary when compared with the needs of the covenant. I might have to turn my research toward areas that I wouldn't have otherwise been drawn towards. But my pater taught me that out of such circumstances opportunities are made. He always felt that it was possible to become too specialized, too focused. Better to be forced out of our shells every once in a while to try something new."

"I intend to be doing research for many years to come," the young magus adds. "Spending a few years trying something new in service of Fengheld won't harm me. It might even prove beneficial in ways I can't appreciate quite yet."

Dorana smiles, "That is certainly the right attitude, sodalis."

Then she nods while adding, "The might be an opportunity for you, although it may not be quite what you have in mind. Fengheld recently established a new chapter house in Lower Saxony, between Hildesheim and Hamburg. The locations is far from ideal, as it is on a small island in a bog. As a result, there is limited space for the magi to develop extensive laboratories. That is not to say that there are no space for laboratories, only that you won't have access to sufficient space to expand upon a standard-sized lab. For now, the chapter house has only a limited library, although some books can be borrowed from Fengheld's library."

She continues with a more serious tone, "When we established this new chapter house, the council of Fengheld sent out an invitation for young magi to join us to develop it. This resulted in three new magi joining our covenant. Some of the older magi were a bit wary at so many joining at the same time, so I am afraid that it would be hard for you to become a member at this time, should you officially petition the council for probationary membership. What we could do, however, is have you join us as a peregrinator for a period of seven years. After that, I am fairly sure that the council would be more open to offering you membership to the covenant. For one, the addition of new members would not be so fresh for them. But also, you would have a chance to get to know our members and make them see your value."

"Are you familiar with the status of peregrinator? I don't believe that Stonehenge has codified the rights and responsibilities as clearly as we do here."

"I'm familiar with the term and the status," Konrad replies. "But to be perfectly frank, if I'm interested in joining the covenant, it's not a very appealing option for me. It would mean seven years of no real status in the covenant while the magi I was working beside were climbing the ladder, as they say. At the end of that time, magi that did the same work as I did in the chapter house would have seven years of seniority over me, and I would be starting as a probationary member of the covenant. Realistically, I can't see any scenario in which acting as a peregrinator would be advantageous to me"

"If I were just a visitor, never intending to stay, then I could see requesting such a position. It was, in fact, for that kind of visitor that I understand the Rhine created the status. The very name, 'wanderer,' implies someone without a home, not intending to remain permanently. But I find it very hard to believe that life would be harder for me as a junior magi than it would be as a peregrinator. In either case I would have to pay my dues to the covenant - dues I shall freely pay, mind. But in one case I have the security of being a member of the covenant, in the other I have no security at all. It seems a poor deal for me to make when I have every intention of devoting myself wholeheartedly to the covenant."

"What's more, the laws of hospitality require a peregrinator to pay three pawns of vis per year for the privilege of being allowed to stay. I haven't access to that much vis, and should be hard pressed to gather that much vis and perform the duties expected of me as a member of your chapter house - though perhaps some of my service to the covenant could be used in lieu of payment."

"Still, the point remains. If I am interested in joining your covenant, it serves me very poorly to delay that action for seven years, taking on a lesser status where I have no voice in the covenant, however small, no chance of gaining status within the covenant, and no claim to any of the resources that I will be working to secure for the benefit of the covenant. Acting as a peregrinator would, in effect, add seven years to my probationary period with the covenant."

"I appreciate your frankness about the situation," the young magus adds. "I feel you deserve equal frankness about my own assessment of your proposal. I have the greatest respect for Fengheld and its reputation. That was one reason I came to petition for membership. I would find it very difficult to work beside other magi of roughly my hermetic age who were gaining respect and status as members of the covenant while I was just ticking off time waiting for my seven-year super-probation to end."

Dorana listens to Konrad's reply, letting him finish before she reacts.

"I can understand your frustration somewhat, but I believe you may not understand the status of peregrinator as well as you believe you do. And, as I mentioned to you, there is the political factor to consider."

"Yes, a peregrinator pays a fee of three pawns of vis for each year of her stay, which can be between three and seven years. But during that time, she does not have to provide any additional service to the covenant. Furthermore, you would have access to the chapter house's resources, as well as those from Fengheld that can be made availble at the chapter house. For example, I recently received news that the chapter house will soon have three laboratories completed. As a peregrinator, we could make such a laboratory available to you, without you having to set it up yourself."

Her mouth tightens a bit as she continues with her second point, "It is unfortunate that other members of the council are currently resisting the addition of more members to Fengheld's ranks, but it is a fact that we have in the last year added as many members as we did in the last decade. We also turned away some of the candidates. Trying to force the issue by petitioning the council as a whole for admission as a member might still succeed, if you are bent on that path. But it may very well come at a price, with one or more of the senior magi resenting you for it. On the other hand, if we give those same members three or four years to settle down, it may be possible to introduce you as a probationary member without evoking such a strong reaction."

She shrugs, "In the end, it is your choice. If you still wish to seek probationary membership right away, I will introduce the motion at the next council meeting next month. Should it fail, you could still stay as a peregrinator, but I suspect that you will have to wait the full seven years before they feel comfortable enough as add you as a member. Or you could ask for peregrinator status for now, and it will give me three years to convince them that you would make a good member."

(OOC: I am aware that it may seem a little bit unfair to your magus, but I figured it made sense from Fengheld's perspective. I'll make sure that your magus isn't penalized if he accepts the peregrinator status. There is a small plot device at work there. The situation certainly won't please the other magi at the chapter house, as this isn't what they expected. :laughing: )

(Also OOC: By the way, your character has the virtue Personal Vis Source, so he will have the vis if he is ready to spend it. He would arrive at Fengheld with a year's harvest of his source. Note that it isn't detailed yet, so we should probably establish its nature.)

Konrad stays quiet, giving Dorana the same courtesy that she provided him. In the end he nods and sighs. "Three years is very different than seven," he says. "And you are correct; I was not entirely aware of all the particularities of being a peregrinator. I had thought that I would be required to provide greater service to the covenant during my time a peregrinator."

"Of course, you know the covenant best, and I'd be a fool to ignore your advice." He smiles. "I'm no fool, so I know when I've been beat - not by you, of course. YOu've been extremely helpful, and I value your wisdom greatly. No, beaten by the situation and my timing."

"Your advice is best, I can see. I shall request peregrinator status and hope that in three years the older magi are more willing to accept me as a probationary member. A young magus does not do himself any favors starting off his time at a covenant offending the senior magi."

"I would ask, however, whether it's possible to continue to consult you for advice during my time as a peregrinator. It's clear that I still have a lot to learn about Fengheld. I know my status will not allow for an official mentor. But I would welcome any wisdom you can offer in the years to come. I don't know how far away the chapter house is. However, I can take the form of a raven, which, if the chapter house is close enough, would allow for short visits back to Fengheld without unduly interrupting my activities at the chapter house."

OOC1: I appreciate the assurance that I won't become a second-class player. That eases my concerns a lot.

OOC2: You've dropped the efficacy of a PVS and the general availability of vis from what is considered 'standard' in the published sources. Does this change at all the expected fee for a peregrinator? Yes, Konrad has a PVS. But it only gets him 2 vis/year, while Guardians of the Forest says a peregrinator must pay 3 vis a year. He wouldn't be able to keep that up for long. It might be better to take a season of service instead. That would also have the advantage of showing the magi of Fengheld what Konrad could do.

OOC3: As for the PVS, it's corpus, so I want it related to the human body. I was thinking that somewhere in his apprenticeship there was a magical accident (perhaps the one where he was trying to save his sister and BIL). During that accident, Konrad was changed. A lock of his hair turned white and became infused with Copus vis. Now, twice a year (after it's grown long enough) he can cut that lock and gain a point of Corpus vis from it each time. (Of course he'd want to transfer that vis to another receptacle as soon as possible, since its an AC to him. But that could still potentially be a plot hook some day.)

Dorana nods at this, and smiles, "Very well, then, I will present you request for hospitality to the other members of the council. I should be able to confirm it to you within two or three days."

She hands you a silver medallion, "In the mean time, you are a guest of the covenant, so here is a token for our Aegis. Wear it visibly at all times, so that our covenfolk and grogs know that you are a guest of Fengheld. If you want to visit the library, so as to discuss with our librarian the kind of books that you would like to borrow and have available at the chapter house, please do so. After the Spring Equinox Council Meeting, we will arrange for transportation to the chapter house. Its praetoe should be present, so you can travel back with him."

"Hmmm... come to think of it, perhaps it would be a good time for me to visit the chapter house! Yes, that would be a good idea..."

"Thank you , maga," Konrad says with a bow of his head. "I appreciate your generosity and your candor." He takes the medallion and immediately places it around his neck.

"I'll see the librarian straightaway after I've settled myself into what temporary lodgings I'm provided." He stands and gives Dorana a shallow bow.

"I look forward to seeing the chapter house at the turn of the seasons."

Then Konrad departs to find out where he's going to be housed until the Spring equinox, and from there to the library.

Dorana summons a steward to show him to his temporary quarters and to give him a quick tour of the covenant, letting him know where the important buildings are located (such as the library). The steward also shows him where his grog is billeted and makes sure the visiting magus has everything he needs for his comfort.

After he and Gerhard are settled into their temporary quarters, Konrad makes his way to the library to peruse what it has to offer. He's not certain what he'll be allowed to take to the chapter house, if anything. And it may be a bit premature in any case. But he had nothing else to do. And it would be hospitable to give the librarian warning as to what was coming up.

When he gets to the library he hails the first person he sees. "Hello," he says. "I was told by Dorana to come find the librarian. Could you tell me where he or she could be found?"

How much time is there before the spring equinox?

The young man you hailed points you towards an older man standing near a pair of lecterns, slowly reading a book and apparently comparing it with the content of a second one.

When you approach the man, it takes a moment before he acknowledges your presence. Once he finishes the page he was reading, he carefully places the ribbon marking the page from each book, before asking politely, "Yes?"

"Good day," Konrad says with a bow to the librarian. "I was sent to see you by Dorana. She informed me that I will be assigned to live in a new chapterhouse that Fengheld had founded and that I should consult with you regarding what books I might be allowed to bring with me during my stay there. I know it's always a difficulty to relocate books, and that the selection of books available for such a move is likely limited. But I'm hoping that I'll be able to continue some studies while I assist the covenant at the chapterhouse."

"I won't be leaving until after the spring equinox, so the matter is not pressing. But I wanted to give you as much warning as possible."

OOC: How much time is there before the spring equinox?

(Sorry, it is about two weeks before the equinox.)

"What subjects are you looking to study in the next year and how much depth of knowledge do you have in those? I can see what would be available for out-of-walls loan for those topics. These will have to be approved by the Scribam Principem, master Horst."

"I'm fairly flexible about what I study," Konrad replies. "Being young, there are many areas that I need work on. Basic primers on any of Perdo, Herbam, Ignem, Imaginem, or Terram would be useful; I'm slightly more advanced in Vim, Creo, and Rego; and I'm of a middle level in my studies of Muto and Corpus. I'd be interested in a beginner's text on Finesse as well, as I've only learned the basics during my apprenticeship. And I've an interest in Medicine and Chirurgery, though I'm also only a novice in those areas as well. As for spell texts, I'm not sure what my duties at the chapterhouse will be yet, so I can't tell for certain what spells would be of use for me to learn. I'll speak further to Dorana in the days to come so that I can narrow that down."

"Of course I know I'll be limited to a couple of books at most. But I think with my broad needs, we should be able to find something that master Horst will approve. If I had to say what was my first priority, I'd probably say Vim, Terram, and Finesse, with Chirurgury or Medicine after that. But really, anything I've listed would be worthwile studying."