Chapter 1: The Council of Fengheld

It is now the early days of June and all the young magi hoping to become members of Fengheld have now arrived.

The first to do so had been Renatus of Bjornaer, who'd flown in from the Iberian Tribunal. Soon, he had been joined by Tamas of Flambeau, who'd arrived from the Transylvanian Tribunal with two grogs, one of whom was to soon depart back to his home. A few days later, Ludovicus of Bonisagus had arrived as well under the guidance of a redcap, a bit worse for wear from the ill-planned journey from the Tribunal of Rome. Finally, the diminutive Wolfram of Verditius had made a grand entrance -- arriving with an escort of over half a dozen grogs on loan from Durenmar, bearing banners and marching as a phalanx around the dwarf magus.

The newly arrived magi have had little time to get to know each other, enough to know each others' name and origin, because they have been kept busy by Dorana of Bonisagus. The older maga had introduced them to the various key mundanes of Fengheld -- such as Fabianus the castellan, Caspar the grog captain, Theodorich the librarian -- and a few of the other magi. These meetings, as well as study of Fengheld's charter, has kept them busy enough that they have had little interactions with each other so far. But study of the charter was quite informative -- it is a fairly long document detailing the duties, responsibilities and rights of the many stratas of members that compose the covenant.

This morning, a steward brings you a convocation to a meeting with the archmagus Stentorius, leader of Fengheld, to be held in an hour. Once you are ready, a steward leads you to a well-appointed meeting room in one of the towers. A rectangular table and six chairs constitute the primary furniture of the room -- though there is also a small side table with writing implements and tapestries hanging from the walls. The narrow stained glass windows have been opened to let a pleasant breeze in.

Not long after all of you have arrived, a large man walks in, wearing robes of dark grey. He sports an impressive bushy beard, iron-gray in color, which covers his chest, as well a craggy nose. By the descriptions you have each heard of, this must be Stentorius. As Stentorius walks in and settles himself at the head of the table, he is followed by another man. A mundane scribe, by the looks of him, who settles at the side table and organizes the documents he has brought with him.

"Welcome to Fengheld, sodalis," Stentorius says, his deep voice filling the room. "Each of you has expressed interest in joining our covenant, more specifically a new chapter house that we will be establishing and which will then be formally recognized at the next Tribunal meeting of the Rhine. As such, you will two days hence be swearing the Oath of Covenant at our Summer covenant meeting, which will bind you to our charter. A charter which, I am told, you all have had time to read."

"During the next seasons," he continues in a tone that brooks no interruptions, "you will be given time to prepare yourself for you trip to the chapter house. This means you will be given the opportunity to gather those resources you might feel will be valuable for the furtherance of your studies, as well as familiarize yourselves with the other magi of Fengheld. During that time, you will each select one of those magi to act as your praefectum, as is the tradition of Fengheld. Your praefectum will act as a mentor and supervisor, guiding your studies and overseeing your services to the covenant. I suggest that you consider your choice well."


When Wolfram left Durenmar, en route to Fengheld, he had insisted that his journey be accompanied by as little fanfare as possible. He wanted to travel light, with only a single Grog, and arrive nearly unnoticed; he didn't want his potential lineage to spoil his entrance or have his reputation immediately questioned by everyone who saw him coming. He knew that he was in line, and that he would eventually have to one day deal with all of it. But for now, he was barely out of gauntlet, and definitely didn't feel that he had earned any right or excuse for it. Unfortunately, the Council at Durenmar - which included his Master, Gudrun - didn't see it that way. Protection was the order of the day, especially for one in line.

And so it was that he set off through the Black Forest, bound for Fengheld, with a contingent of grogs that should normally have been reserved for someone who had actually earned it. He was rightfully embarrassed by the majesty and pomp of it all, even if it was - as far as the Council was concerned - necessary. But, he was a stickler for tradition, and tradition had it that one so young as he, right out of gauntlet, would travel to another Covenant and declare himself peregrinatore, earning the trust of others of the Order and continuing his studies under other Magi who were far beyond his abilities. And if that travel included the protection of a half-dozen or more grogs and their flying banners, then so be it.

His arrival at Fengheld brought only more embarrassment, he being the last of the newly adorned Magi to show themselves there. The flying banners and majestic entrance left him hoping that the others wouldn't think he was above them. Granted, he was rather over-confident in his own abilities...

...rightfully so, I might add, what with how good I am at shaping metals...

...but that didn't mean he would lord it over anybody else. He knew his place in the world, and in the Order, and he was no better or higher than the other new Magi here at Fengheld. More skilled, perhaps. But not better. And due to the lack of him being able to speak to the new Magi but for the brief introduction, he was unable to explain to anyone else the current situation. He knew he'd get the chance to eventually, so he put it out of his mind during his study of the charter and the Covenant itself.

When called to the Council chambers - he assumed that's what this room was, anyhow - he selected a chair at the side table close enough to the head of the main table so that he wouldn't get lost or overlooked. Being a dwarf had its advantages when he didn't want to be noticed. But when he needed to command attention, he sometimes had to put on a show of emotion or display. Which is why he tended to sit as close to the primary speaker as possible; he wanted to avoid looking showy or flashy, but needed to get attention when he had to.

He listened intently to Stentorius, carefully committing everything said to memory. He already knew who he was going to ask to be his praefectum; it was easy to select the resident Verditius magus. But there were things that Peter knew that came with being a magus for as many years as he had been, and this was a grand opportunity to learn from him. And when Stentorius asked if there were questions, Wolfram stood up to his full 2' 11" and bowed as much as he could.

"Wolfram Hoger, ex Verditius, at your service Master Stentorius. I do have a question regarding the Charter as it pertains to our becoming Probationary Members, and the new Chapter House, if you don't mind. The Charter provides several provisions by which Probationary Members must perform no less than three designated tasks during the seasons in which they are Probationaries. So, I'd like to understand if setting up the Chapter House would constitute as one of our three designated tasks during our Probationary period? Or, dependent upon the difficulty of the task, more than one?"

Wolfram bowed again, his questions asked, waiting for the answers to come.

(OOC: I wait for Stenorius to answer before posing my question, but as I won't have a lot of time to post later I do It now)

Renatus wears his brand-new wizardry robe, It's deep blue and gold trimmed, there's a nice yet discreet embroidered ibis above his heart that he worked with Ursula to realise. It's very well adjusted but a careful observer will notice that he's not used to wear such large sleeves and feels a bit uncomfortable. As Stentorius enters, he stands up an instant to bows slightly and sits back again, being polite but not excessively.

"I also have a question Archmagus, well two in fact. I find it hard to fully commit myself without knowing the location of the chapter House. Also Magistra Dorana of Bonisagus mentioned that there was a secondary charter to be accepted for the chapter House, can you tell us more about it ? How is It different from the "main" charter"

Tamas greets his sodalis, and when Stentorius enters the room he bows to him and shows him the greatest respect and subservience. He listens intently to the senior magus, knowing that he is highly esteemed within House Tremere.

He waits for Stentorius to answer the other young magi's questions before he asks his own questions. When he does he stands and turns towards the Tremere.

"Thank you for giving us this opportunity to come here. I must say I find the assignment very intriguing and I'm eager to get started - when you allow us of course." he bows to Stentorius.
"I wonder, will there be any other magi accompanying us to this Chapter House and will there be any specific targets or goals to fulfil after establishing it?"

"The development of the new chapter house, by itself," Stentorius answers seriously, "will not constitute a service to the covenant. However, within the context of establishing and developping the chapter house, tasks will be identified as needing to be performed. If they meet the criteria described within the Charter of Fengheld, these will be counted as services to the covenant. Those tasks will be identified by the praetor of the chapter house, based on the objectives set out by the Council of Fengheld."

"Indeed, there will be a secondary charter governing the chapter house. An initial version has been prepared and approved by the Council of Fengheld, but the members of the chapter house will be allowed to propose additional clauses to be added to the charter, which will take effect upon approval by Fengheld."

"As for the location of the chapter house, this will be disclosed in details only once you have all sworn the Oath of Covenant. However, I can tell you that it is inland but close to a body of water, and within the boundaries of the Tribunal of the Rhine. Construction of the facilities are currently ongoing, and though they probably won't be completed upon your arrival, it should be far enough along that you will be able to settle there in reasonable comfort. But, since the house is being established to strenghten our claim on a source of raw vis, the location is not ideal."

"There will be indeed another magus who will join you as praetor of the chapter house. Renatus of Jerbiton, who is currently occupied with a task assigned to him by the Council, will be heading the chapter house. There might be, on occasion, other members of Fengheld who will also spend some time at the chapter house. Much as any of you will be allowed to visit here on occasion, for a season or two."

Renatus nods "I am grateful for your clarification, I understand you can't reveal too much information the location of the chapter House before we swear the Oath yet I'm reassured by your precisions.
Are full members residing in the covenant eligible to the status of praefectum or only Senior members ?
He takes a serious tone, fixing Stenorius with intensity "After your suggestion, Praefactum seems to play an important role in our integration in the covenant. Could you give us some precision about their guiding and overseeing scope ?

Ludovicus sits quietly, paying close attention, and then, when there is a break in the flow of questions and answers, asks, "Is this vis source to which we are to lay claim one that was recently discovered? And is there any indication that it is waning, like so many sources are these days? Lastly, could you please tell us what the non-idealities you referred to are, concerning the location of the chapter house?"

Wolfram listens intently to the answers Stentorius gives, both to his question and the questions of others, his eyes never leaving the senior member. The magus had earned the respect of everyone who came into Fengheld, and even if his serious tone was a bit unnerving or off-putting, Wolfram knew better than to question any magus who had more than 6 months more of experience out of gauntlet than he had. Gudrun had taught him well, even if his behavior on these matters would have been the same without the teachings of his parens.

When Stentorius mentioned the praetor, Wolfram cocked his head to one side, obviously pondering the term. Not questioning what it was, but rather who it could be. He didn't remember seeing anything in the letter about who this would be, nor did he hear anything in the answers from Stentorius as to whom might fill that role. All Wolfram knew was that it wouldn't be him...or one of the others in the room. And while it was really of little consequence...

...Makes no difference in the long run, really, as we have no choice but to accept whomever is appointed... did kind of spike a point in his mind. He didn't like not knowing something, having grown used to the countless hours performing scribe duties as part of his apprenticeship in the outer library at Durenmar. He had ended up learning several things that he never counted on learning, merely by translating and scribing and copying. And that always made him feel better; whenever he learned something new, even if it was nothing more than a tidbit of a legend or myth that was common knowledge to everyone else, he just felt...better. And so, when there was a lull in the conversation, and Stentorius was waiting for more questions, Wolfram spoke up yet again.

"Master Stentorius, I thank you for the answers you have already provided. But, if I may be so bold, I have another question that I should like to ask. You mentioned that the new Chapter House would have a praetor who is responsible for overseeing the Chapter House, as well as those magi," he says while pointing at himself and the others, "that are being tasked to go there. Do you know who the praetor will be? Or is that, like many of the other details you alluded to, to be disclosed after we swear the Oath?"

"The extent and nature of the supervision between you and your praefactum will be up to the two sides of that relationship. The role of the praefectum is to advise you and understand what it is you are currently working on, or studying, in order to guide you. He might suggest that you undertake specific services to the covenant, or warn you to avoid others, based on what your abilities. Should you need access to specific resources, he would explain ways to get those resources."

"He will also be the one who will extoll your services before the Council of Fengheld, when the time comes for you to exit probationary status. Or to defend you should you be unfortunate enough to commit acts that others find objectionable."

"The only restriction is that the praefectum needs to be a full resident member of Fengheld."

"For now, and until you have sworn the Oath, you will get no additional information regarding the site, including the vis source. There will be time later to ask questions about those. I suggest you concentrate, for now, on questions that might determine whether you feel ready to take your Oath."

Stentorius turns to Wolfram, then raps his knuckles on the table. Even that slight tap sends a small tremor through the sturdy wood. "Pay attention, sodalis. I have just told you that the praetor of the new chapter house will be one of our current members, Renatus of Jerbiton. You will get to meet him soon."

Wolfram silently chided himself for not paying more attention.

Last time that will happen. I must learn to be more careful and listen.

He clears his throat, a sheepish look coming over his face.

"I shall try to do that, Master Stentorius. Many apologies for simply being too eager and excited."

He looks around the room slightly, then turns back to the senior member.

"I have nothing further to add, other than than to state that I am at your service."

"I assure you, Archmagus, that the answers to my questions are of great significance to my decision to join this covenant. The aims of my questions are to determine how closely my interests align with the interests of this covenant, or at least of the chapter house, and to determine with more clarity what lies in store for us. Reasonable information to request, no? But, if you require me to decide without this information, taking a leap of faith as it were, then I can live with it."

Stentorius ponders Ludovicus' comment for a moment before answering. "Hmmm, I can understand your interest, as you are a Bonisagus. I can tell you that the vis source has been harvested for at least a few years, though I am unable to tell you exactly how many. It shows no sign of weakening. And one of the reasons that led us to establish a chapter house there is that this will allow us to harvest more of the raw vis it produces before it dissipates again as fluid vis. Your investigations in that matter would certainly be of interest, particularly if it helps revitalize other sources that have dried up."

"I don't have anything to add either"

"Thank you Archmagus. I have no further questions."

"You said that we may gather some resources before leaving for the new chapter house. What kind of resources would that be? Like books from the library here, or copies that we may scribe. Any grogs coming with us apart from our own?" Tamas asks before the meeting is finished.

"There will be a turb of grogs travelling with you and releiving those that are currently at the site. That turb will rotate back to Fengheld every few seasons, for training and reassignment, but you can keep you personal grogs with you."

"Indeed, I was thinking that you might want to talk with the librarian regarding books you may wish to borrow, or copy, from the outer library in order to bring them to the chapter house for study. Same with lab texts. You might also want to spend the season in the lab here before you go, to extract raw vis, invent some spell you may consider useful, or enchant an item. Since you will need to establish labs there when you arrive, it means that you won't be able to perform laboratory work immediately upon arrival."

"Can we assume there's required equipement at the chapter house location to set up basic labs for all of us or shall we gather ressources for that purpose ?"

"When you first travel there," Stentorius says, "you will have with you the furnishings to set up two laboratories. More equipment will be sent as soon as space to set up additional labs will be completed."

Wolfram had stayed quiet after his last faux pas, repeating a question that had already been given an answer to. He didn't want to further embarrass himself; he didn't want to make both himself and his parens look bad. But when Stentorius mentioned that there would only be space enough for 2 labs, Wolfram almost toppled completely over in his chair.

"Forgive me, Master Stentorius, but only 2 labs? Are we to be sharing work space indefinitely?"

Stentorius frowns, "Still not paying attention, I see. As I just said, more equipment will be sent as soon as the space to set up additional labs is completed. As I mentioned before, construction of the facilities is currently ongoing and probably won't be completed when you get there. So sending additional equipment right away would be a nuisance."

"So at first you will have to share laboratories. But once the construction is completed, all of you should have sufficient space to set up your own lab." The senior magus pauses, before asking Wolfram bluntly, "It that stated simply enough for you? Or would you like me to draw you a picture?"