Chapter 0: The Sins of the Pater

(In which we will tell the story of Iris leaving the Stonehenge Tribunal for the Rhine.)

From the window where she stands, Iris can see the covenfolk going in and out of the place she'd called home for the last fifteen years. No doubt some of her pater's belongings -- and her own -- would be left when they were done packing the most valuable items for those who'd murdered him. It still felt like a violation. She still felt a hole inside of her at the thought of Chremylus. He'd been far from perfect -- too proud, often distracted, always demanding -- but he'd still been the closest thing to family she'd even known. Now he was simply gone. No one had bothered to tell her of his exact fate, but she'd been present when it had been sealed. Cast out from the Order and Marched.

And now his killers were fighting over the spoils. It's been less than a week since she's returned from the Tribunal meeting that made her a maga.

The sound of the door opening almost passes off unnoticed, but the voice is no suprise. "Ah, there you are." Morfeo of Guernicus. Not the Quaesitor who had administered her Gauntlet, but at least he'd made sure she got a chance to do so. With a sigh, she turns to look at him. His appearance is, as always, immaculate.

"I've spoken with the others, Iris," he says, "and as I feared you will not be offered membership to Burnham. Not only that, but the council has requested that you depart in no more than a season. Until then, you will be assigned quarters as a visitor to the covenant." He shrugs, before adding, "Chremylus' laboratory is still being inventoried. You are not to enter it until the process is complete." All of her tools are there, so it seems she will be orphaned from even her craft.

"If I can do anything to help you contact other covenants," Morfeo continues, "so that you can seek membership there, let me know. The redcaps can carry your letters."

"I understand... Thank you Master Morfeo. I realize that I have been too preoccupied lately to say that to you" She sighs again and remembering his previous questioning on what she knew of her Parens' activities she concludes

"I apologize again for my lack of awareness."

She turns to look out the window watching again as more of her Paren's posessions emerge from what was once his sanctuary to be loaded onto a cart - bound for who knows where. His books, his tools, the contents of his Studio - a lifetimes work now cast to the wind. And going with it what meager possessions she could have called her own. What did she have now, three sets of clothing, her casting tools and a few coins.

She turns back to the immaculate Quaesitor, eyes down-turned as she mumbles to him

"I would appreciate any help you might give me in finding another covenant. Somewhere preferably far away from here... far away from the shame. Perhaps I should leave the tribunal all together - I have seen the magi from the other covenants who are here to claim their rewards for hunting down my par..."

She stops herself, looking briefly back up at the Quaesitor before finishing

"I mean for hunting down the traitor Chremylus... from the way each of them has looked at me even I can see that I am unlikely to find welcome either here or to the north"

Morfeo considers Iris' words before nodding. "You may be correct that the other covenants of Stonehenge may harbour some lingering resentment towards your pater's actions. And that this may color their perception of you. I would still encourage you to try. Moving to a different Tribunal is not something that is easy -- much of what you know about the traditions and customs of Stonehenge would become useless."

"On the other hand, there is something to be said for starting anew. Be aware, however, that the stain on your pater's name may travel far and wide. As such, you will not be freed of his sins by simply travelling to a different Tribunal. It may prove to be quite the opposite, for the magi there will not know you."

"Still, I will reach out to some contacts I have in other Tribunals. Perhaps something will come up that provides you with an opportunity to find a place for yourself."

"You are, of course, correct. I suppose I'm just feeling very maudlin given what has happened

I will try my best - I shall begin writing to the other covenants to see if any are willing to accept me - even as an eremite though that would not be my preference"

Iris takes on last look out the window at the scene below

"I suppose my immediate reaction is to run away... perhaps that says something about me.

If there is nothing further I suppose I had best go and begin writing my letters - I shall hand them to the redcaps. If you do hear anything that might be of use I would be grateful if you could let me know. Do you know what rooms the council have assigned me as a guest here?"

After this conversation Iris will again thank Morfeo for his kindness before going to her newly assigned room to begin writing letters to the other Stonehenge tribunals she knows might accept her.

Once these are done will give them to redcaps to deliver - she will have to do this as quickly as possible given she only has a seasons grace, and so does not really have time for prolonged correspondence

The letters go out and the wait begins. Some of the responses come quickly, but those are the negative ones, as Iris expected. Some are more diplomatically written than others, but it all comes down to "No."

Morfeo has sent out some messages of his own, as promised, and after a few weeks come to see Iris again. By that time, she has been given access to her pater's former sanctum to gather her personal properties, as well as pack some of the silversmithing tools left behind from the ransacking of the workshop. That is another trial all by itself, since she has never seen the place so bereft of supplies, tools and activity.

"Well," says Morfeo after sitting down on a bench in what used to be Chremylus' laboratory, "I'm afraid the news are negative for the most part. The news of your pater's disgrace have travelled fast and very few out-Tribunal covenants have expressed interest in taking you in. Let me see," he enumerates on his fingers as he goes through the possibilities.

"First to express interest was the covenant of Andorra in Iberia. It is a fairly militant covenant of Flambeau magi and similarly-minded magi. I'm not sure I would advise going there, unless you plan on crafting weapons, fighting dragons and generally expect a rather short life."

"Second, the covenant of Oleron in Normandy said they would accept an enchanter. I'd be wary if I were you, for though the covenant is said to be vis-rich, is also located within a faerie regio that is difficult to enter or exit. The Normandy tribunal is also rife with conflict between covenants."

"Finally," Morfeo concludes, "I received a letter from a fellow Quaesitor in the covenant of Fengheld in the Rhine tribunal. Eule mentioned that about two years ago Fengheld was looking to add a few junior members to their ranks. Apparently, one was a Verditius called Wolfram. Apparently he did not work out and left shortly thereafter. Maybe they might be amenable to you. Even if they are not willing to let you join as a member, the Rhine has a tradition of welcoming visitors for a few years at a time. They call those peregrinatores. This might be a way for you to overwhelm your pater's reputation by establishing one for yourself."

Iris nods as Morfeo lists the options she has. She grimaces at the mention of fighting dragons

"I have to agree with your view on Andorra and Oleron. I have little interest in weapons. I was never one for conflict, and I have already had my fill of death"

Iris begins to play with the charms on her charm bracelet, fiddling with them as she thinks for a moment

"It seems that traveling to this covenant in the Rhine tribunal would be my best option... I shall have to find out more about the covenant and this idea of 'peregrinatores'. Do you know if the library has any books on the Rhine tribunal or this covenant of Fengheld so that I can find out more about them?

I suppose I should also write to them and ask if they would be willing to accept me - do you know to whom I should address such a letter?"

"No, I don't think we have a book on the Rhine," Morfeo says. He shakes his head with a snort, "You'll have to learn that not everything can be discovered from the library or experienced in your workshop. Going out there in the world might be good for you in the end."

"What I can tell you about the Rhine is that..." He then proceeds to give Iris a short summary of what he knows abouth that Tribunal. He speaks of the larger covenants. Durenmar, Irencilla and Crintera, which are domus magnus of House Bonisagus, Merinita and Bjornaer, respectively. Fengheld is apparently also quite large, with over a dozen magi calling it their own. He speaks of the more hierarchical nature of the Rhine, with the rank of Master and the need to attain it before taking an apprentice. He also speaks of the tradition of wandering magi, called peregrinators, who live and study for a few years as visitors at a covenant in exchange for raw vis or services, before moving on to another covenant. He also mentions something called Gilds, associations of magi with similar political stances.

(OOC: Essentially, that covers the broad strokes of GotF pp.22-23 on the Journeyman and Master ranks, pp.27-28 on the general section of the Gilds, and the introductory paragraph of each of the covenants he named. Morfeo doesn't know much more than that -- or if he does, he's not sharing that information.)

"As for a letter, you can simply address it to the leader of that covenant."

The Rhine sounds rather attractive to Iris, the focus on a formal structure probably appeals to her - though she is not the most enamoured with the idea of being a Peregrinator she can see how it might have an appeal - and it might give her a way of proving herself worthy of joining the covenant or proving to another covenant who could take her she was trustworthy. Hope, which has been severely lacking for her these past weeks can be seen in her eyes again

"Thank you again Morfeo, I will go and write a letter to the leader of that covenant immediately"

Iris curtsy to Morfeo and moves to leaves the Lab with one last look around, she has salvaged a few items but the best and most expensive have all been looted - she has been left with very basic tools but at least she still has the tools of her craft, buoyed by this and the chance of finding a place to live in hermetic society she leaves the lab with her salvaged possessions and tools to go to her assigned room and to begin writing her letter to Fengheld.

A letter arrives only ten days later.

Iris will begin packing and will go to find Morfeo to give him the good news and thank him profusely, she may even give the immaculate Guernicus an uncharacteristic hug.

Morfeo seems surprised by the gesture and pats Iris' back awkwardly, wishing her luck.

(How does she make her way to Fengheld?)

From what i remember sea travel is usually the fastest way of getting from A to B - though I'm not so sure Iris would know that given her covenant upbringing.

Most likely she will ask people in the covenant who she knows travel, maybe the redcaps can help her there. (maybe this is how Brynn gets pulled into the story)

(Actually, Brynn was already assigned to Iris by that time. In this saga, I have a house rule that states that the Gift does not affect everyone equally. As a result, once in a while a normal-Gifted maga will meet a mundane that is not as negatively affected by their Gift. When these mundanes are martially trained, they will often become that maga's shield grog. Brynn was such a person to Iris and was assigned to protect her a few times during her apprenticeship. So she would naturally go and see him, perhaps not even realizing that he has travelled quite a bit.)

When she goes to see him, Brynn scratches his head. "Where do you say this place is? The Holy Roman Empire is quite large, you know." (None of the mundanes of Burnham know the Rhine Tribunal at all and they can't help. And apart from Morfeo, the covenant's magi seem to feel Iris is at least partly responsible for her pater's actions so they don't seem to want to help much. Note that this is part of the story.)

OOC: Heh, time for 'no sense of direction' to come into play then

Iris' description of where she understands the covenant to be can be described as 'North of Italy and East of France near to some place in Germany but she can't quite remember the name - pretty sure it ended in burg though...'

After attempting to explain where she understands it is from Morfeo's descriptions she comes to the conclusion she has no real idea where it is and she will say

"Well... I could ask Morfeo again but I'm pretty sure I recounted his description accurately. We could just travel over there and ask around, the Rhine is the home of Durenmar and the birthplace of the order, I'm sure we can find a covenant or another Magus when we are over there and get directions? Or we could stop off at the Mercer house here in Stonehenge first to get that information?"

"Don't you mages have some sort of messengers that travel from one of your place to the others? Those fellas with red hats, no? Might be worth asking them for directions, as they might know the way." Brynn laughs, "I'm not against going back to the continent, you know, but with you along I may have some trouble getting room and board at the local inn in exchange for some singing." He winks, "The wenches might not be as willing if I'm already escorting some other lady."

"And if you want to get there in a reasonable time, be better if we know where we're going. Not like t'will be easy to ask around on the road. You people seem to like to set up in more isolated places 'n not set up any big sign sayin' 'wizards live over ther'."

"Yes, we do - Redcaps.... I suppose I could ask any of them visiting the covenant. But they also run the Mercer house I mentioned thats down south somewhere - if there are no redcaps visiting here we could get directions to there and visit them - they'll definitely have directions"

"Sure, that would be good. When is the next time that fella will visit us again? Also, do you have any silver for the trip? Travelling for long distances can be costly, particularly if you're in a hurry."

(When she asks Morfeo, he says that redcaps usually visit the covenant every second month, with the next expected visit due just a few days before the deadline for her to leave the covenant. As for money, she is able to get only 2 pounds of silver. Morfeo says that redcaps who are asked to perform favours -- like being a guide -- expect some payment, with the minimum being 28 silver pennies. Provided the redcap accepts, and it is very much up to them whether they do.)

"Well, Morfeo says the Redcap should be here a few days before I'm expected to leave the covenant in a few weeks time.

I've been able to get together 2 whole pounds of silver! Apparently the Redcap will expect a fee for guiding us, about 28 pence, but that should still mean we have a fair bit of money. Though that is assuming the Redcap is willing to help us, they are under no obligation."

Iris will think for a moment, trying to work out how else she might be able to find out where Fehngeld is if the Redcap is unwilling to help

"Perhapse if he will not take us then I should send a message with the Redcap instead asking this Stentorius for directions and asking for his reply to be delivered to somewhere we know we're going to be on our trip into Germany so we can pick it up on the way... do you know any Mercer houses in France?"

"Me? How would I know such a thing? You have to remember that three years ago I didn't even know that you magi were more than just legends I could use to spin a song. I only know that you have those red-hatted fellows that carry messages for you and that it's a bad idea to mess with them." He grins' "Not that a likeable fellow like myself messes with other people's business! I try to keep out of others' troubles if I can. Give me a mug of ale and a warm fire over a winter road full of bandits anytime."

"Anyway, that silver you've been able to gather will be needed for sure. I hope it will be enough to hitch a ride on one of the ships going to the continent. I'll talk to the captain, to see if any have an idea where we can get such a ride. If you can get that messenger fella to play guide for us, I hope he's willing to share some info with me."

"Also," Brynn's tone is now a bit more careful, "see if you can get some unconspicuous travelling clothes. Something with a large hood, perhaps, so that you can hide those strange eyes of yours?"