Chapter 0: The Journey of Tamas

(In which we will tell the short story of Tamas travelling to Fengheld.)

Leona Tremeris looks up from the letter and looks at Tamas for a few unconfortable moments. "Are you sure this is what you want to do and where you want to go? Leave all you have known so far, to settle at a new covenant filled with people you do not know?" Although her tone is direct and rough, it is not unkind. "I know that Kiranko's death was painful, but we could find you a place here, you know. The lure of a powerful covenant like Fengheld has its price." She sighs bitterly, "As you now know, everything has its price." The older maga looks tired. For a moment, Tamas wonders whether she might have been closer to his pater then he'd previously guessed.

Tamas looks at the older maga with some doubt in his eyes. He waits for several moments in silence. "No I'm not sure of anything right now. Everything was lost when Kiranko died." He fights back his tears, he had already cried too much since that terrible day on the mountain slope.
He collects himself and then looks at the maga "You are too kind archmaga Leona but moving is something I have in my blood. My people has always been moving on, literally, and I think it's time for me to this. This is an opportunity even if I realize it won't be easy. I can stay but right now it's too painful here, too many memories."

After some further pause he adds.
"You know this archmagus Stentorius? He is from your house. And what do you mean by this" he points at the letter "will have a price?"

"I have met Stentorius a number of times. He is an efficient man, leading a powerful covenant. This means he has many demands on his time, and many priorities to balance against each other." Leona brings her graceful hands together, the tip of each finger touching their counterpart. "As for the price, don't tell me you haven't learned that lesson yet? Powerful covenant gather much knowledge and many resources over the centuries. Their members guard these jealously and only share as much as they have to. So don't expect to be given free access to their library. You will have to serve and prove your worth to them."

The young Flambeau once again looks uncertain and his eyes moves around without focusing on anything in the room around them. "Kiranko sometimes complained about how hard it was to get access to books and vis and such." he says. Then his eyes stops and he focus with determination on the Tremere maga. "That won't matter where I am. It would be just as hard here. You and archmagus Essedarius have been very kind to me and I have no doubt you would help me but I know you are very busy with your own achievements and responsibilities. Your sodales, our sodales, are protective of their knowledge and resources here too."

He sighs then continues. "No I have decided I will give this opportunity a chance. Let me see what Stentorius and his council says, maybe they don't want me. Then possibly I can come back here, but only when the pain after my pater has been soothed somewhat. If you don't mind I will stay in contact and send you a letter once in a while."

Leona nods, "I understand, Tamas, and I hope you will fare well there. I'll send a letter to Stentorius to support your move. But you," she takes hold of the young magus by his shoulders, shaking him gently. "You take good care of yourself. Kiranko would have wanted no less."

After a moment of silence, she adds, "Talk to my man, Apostol. He should be able to help you make travel arrangments." With that, she gives you a surprising hug, which leaves you frozen in shock, before she turns away and leave at a brisk pace.

"Thank you" Tamas manages to mumble half in shock as Leona walks away.

He then starts to make arrangements for his departure, talking to Apostol and Emil about the practical things. He asks Apostol if he knows the way to Fengheld and how long it should take, otherwise he tries to find a map or geographic journal of the Transylvania and Rhine tribunals in the local library. He knows he and Emil may have trouble asking for directions when they arrive in German speaking areas so he wants to be as prepared as possible before they leave.

(I don't know where exactly you magus is starting from, but we can handwave that unless you feel it is important.)

"If you want, sir," says Apostol, "I can inquire whether any merchant convoy is heading that way. This might be a bit slower, but certainly safer and easier. It would also give you some help with the local languages." The mature grog thinks for a bit, he lined face twisting as he considers the possibilities. "Even better would have some of our own people join the convoy as well. The mistress' House supports some trading with the Rhine, so perhaps there are some of them travelling soon. How much of a hurry are you in?"

After a moment's thought, he adds, "Another option would be to hitch up with one of the redcaps that travel between the Tribunals."

Tamas shrugs "I'm not in a hurry, unless it means several months. If there is a caravan with magi or a redcap heading to Fengheld within a few weeks I can easily wait. Will you check it for me, Apostol?"

(While Apostol looks into the possible travel arrangements, perhaps Tamas should scribe his introduction letter to Fengheld? Perhaps you already did, but I can't find it.)

(Here is his letter. I posted it originally in the character creation thread. )

[i]To the esteemed Member’s Council of Fengheld, led by His most Honourable Archmagus Stentorius Tremeris.

I, Tamas ex Flambonis fili Kiranko, write this letter to express my interest in filling one of the membership places you are looking to establish a new chapter house.

I have spent the later part of my apprenticeship in the Transylvanian tribunal where I also completed my Gauntlet recently. I currently stay with Kezdö Valasz in one of their forts but I don’t see a future here at the moment. Archmagi Essedarius and Leona Tremeris were friends of my late pater, who tragically died in a lethal mission a couple of months ago. These two magi can vouch for my magical abilities and my seriosity in this application.

My expertise lies in the Arts of Ignem and Perdo, but I’m also specialized in destroying denizens from the infernal realm as well as spirits of evil.

I shall await your response but I stand ready to travel to Fengheld or wherever you ask me to in an instant.

With greatest honor and respect
Tamas ex Flambeau
Kezdö Valasz at Sarmizegetusa, Transylvanian Tribunal in the Year of Our Lord 1207[/i]

Within a few weeks, Tamas receives a letter indicating that the Council of Fengheld is willing to consider him for probationary membership. He is to get there by the 15th day of June at the latest to be interviewed. That leaves him about six weeks to get there.

Meanwhile, Apostol says he found a merchant convoy travelling north towards Prague in Bohemia, following the Danube up to Passau. From there, he's been told, you can probably hook up another group of travellers going to Prague and downriver along the Elbe until you are close to Fengheld. He provides you with fairly detailed information on how to get there. "Do you need anything for your trip? I could have one of our grogs who knows some German to accompany you."

Tamas thanks Apostol for his help.
"I don't think I need anything in particular but it would be very helpful if we had someone speaking the language so if you can afford to have one of your grogs accompany us it would be great."

He asks for some ordinary mundane travelling gear and trail rations for a week or so.

You are assigned a grog named Endre, who spent some time in Germania during his younger years. Now past his prime as a fighter, he is still quite able. "My German is a bit rusty," he says in Latin when introduced to Tama, "but I should be able to help with most stuff."

Two days later, the trio leave the oppidum to make their way down the mountains and into the valley of the Danube river. The trip to Belgrade is fairly quick, with only three men and a pair of poneys to carry their equipment. Things slow down in Belgrade, when they join a large merchant train travelling towards Passau in Bohemia. The score of large wagons pulled by oxen move slowly, under the watchful eye of a dozen guards. A number of smaller parties join the train over time, so that by the time it reaches Pcheneg territory near Tata it is almost a hundred people strong.

Endre comments on this, "The border to Bohemia is rife with brigands, mostly Cuman warriors out to prove themselves and gather some valuables with which to court a wife, but also raiding parties from Salvic tribes that live in the Carpathians. Small groups can easily fall victims to such raids, so many tend to join together for protection." He grins, "The merchants don't like that much, but there isn't much they can do about it."

"Yes it means much slower speed, but you still make a better deal when you arrive late and alive and with goods in possession, rather than dead or badly wounded somewhere after a bandit attack." Tamas answers the older grog. "I have heard of the Cumans but never actually met them? They are a nomadic people, right? I think they may have some things in common with my own people."

"Tell me about Germania, Endre. I know you said it was a long time ago you were there but what can you tell of it? Is the language a lot like Latin or maybe Hungarian or completely different? There is some Emperor being the formal leader of the realm, maybe like how it was in Constantinople before the fall a few years ago? Ordinary people never saw him though so it hardly matters. What about traditions in Germania?"

"Cumans? Yes, they're good horsemen and move around a lot. I'm not sure if that's what you mean by 'nomadic'. They're good warrior, but rather poor soldiers. Not enough discipline. Small-scale tactics that don't scale up well."

The old grog shrugs but keeps walking, "As for Germania, I lived there a few years as part of the turb of Fengheld, when one of the magi here moved there temporarily. Long enough to pick up the language some. It's not really like any of the languages of Hungary, nor Latin. I heard about there being an Emperor which rules over both Germania and Italy. Not like Constantinople, I heard. Priests have a lot of power over there." He speaks a bit about customs and traditions over there too, and some stories he's heard.

As the merchant train stops for the evening, the trio find a spot suitable to make camp. Endre sends Emil to get some water at the river for the mules, while he removes the various bags and supplies hooked to their light mules. He feeds them a bit of grain and tie them to a longish rope which allows them to graze from the vegetation. The grog directs Tamas to start a small fire and put some water to heat. Emil comes back with the water, only to be sent back for more.

Around them, other encampments are being set up by the various groups that joined the merchants.

(Switched the ponies mentioned before for mules, as they were more appropriate as pack animals for the period.)

Tamas listens with great interest to Endre's stories about the Cumans and especially Germania.

As they stop to make camp Tamas uses his magical skills to create a campfire but he is careful to do it without anyone other than Endre and Emil seeing him. Later when all three of them sits by the fire he turns to Endre "I didn't know you spent a few years at Fengheld. Tell me what it is like, how it looks and what kind of people there is? Did you see Archmagus Stentorius?"

"Well, as you probably knows, Fengheld is a very large covenant, almost as large as Coeris itself. It's built on a hilly region, somewhat remote from cities and castles of the nobility. I don't know how they achieved this, considering that the covenant is actually a very large castle. The turb isn't large enough to be considered an army, though, about three or four score strong. Fairly well-equiped, though."

"The hill where the covenant is located is mostly covered with vineyards," Endre adds. "A lot of the covenfolk work on those, as they are the covenant's main source of income. But there's also a good number of supporting craftsmen -- smiths, carpenters, stonemasons, wagoneers, and such. Some scribes and other stuff for the magi as well. The magi's quarters, which include their labs I guess, are mostly in towers around the wall. There's many more buildings inside the wall, including a very large meeting hall. Not everyone live there, of course. Many of the farmers, shepherds and those working the vineyards live in surrounding hamlets."

"Yeah, I've seen the Archmagus. Big magus with an impressive beard. He was the one in charge there at the time. Probably still is, I guess, with magi living such a long time."

"Amazing!", Tamas says after Endre has described Fengheld. "They should have some chapter houses as well, spread out over the Tribunal I guess. Did you ever go to any of those?"

Tamas takes some the rabbit they are barbequing over the fire. "Stentorius is still the leader there. I'm meeting him and the council." he continues. "One more thing, there should be a Flambeau there, a magus belonging to the same house as me and he should be one of the senior members from what I have heard. Do you know anything about him?"

"Yeah, I heard of those," Endre says about the chapter houses, "they keep magi there to protect ressources or keep a foothold. Never visited one, though. They were pretty close-mouthed about their location, although I heard one of them was on a mountaintop." When Tamas asks questions about the other Flambeau, the older grog shrugs. "Could be. It been many years, and I met many magi over that time. After a while," he grins, "one begins to forget which was which. I probably met you pater at some point, but for the life of me I can't really remember what he was like." Seeing Tamas' expression change at the mention of Kiranko, Endre shrugs again and says, "Sorry, I heard he died."