Chapter 1

[i]On the eve of your graduation, under the cover of night, your parens ushers you onto a boat to Thetford, England. Your orders succinct: Find a defensible location, establish a covenant, and do what you can to avoid drawing attention yourselves. And under no circumstance are you to set foot on Mainland Europe until the end of the year. As dawn breaks, one of the crew discovers a note that reads: “Mount the keg where the Tuatha king lays his crown and chase from dusk the goddess of Roman dawn down.”

The note is not signed, but is dated March 12th - two weeks from now.[/i]

[i]Your trip has been windy, cold and rough, with looming clouds and frequent rain. You begin trickling in to Thetford on March 3rd, 1220. Since your directions did not include who to see or where to go, you each find shelter where you deem appropriate

Within an hour of your arrival, you are approached by a steely-eyed old man, his grim, scar-covered face giving the impression of a man who has spent his whole life fighting and is tired of it. He carries a sheathed sword, wears chainmail armor (but no helmet or gauntlets), simple leather boots, a belted tunic and a thick leather cloak with a hood which shields him from the rain. Other than this, there is no emblem or indication of who he serves. He hands you a sealed letter, stamped with thick, red wax in the shape of a domed structure with two archways, surrounded by the letters "Militia Dei" or "Soldier of God." Then he gives you a nod and leaves without saying a word.

The letter is written on vellum (animal hide) and it reads as follows:[/i]

"Dear [Your name],

You are hereby invited to the Thetford Warren Lodge, on March the fifth, at ten in the evening. Bring no servants as everything will be provided, but be ready to enjoy the finest hunting lodge in England and all that it has to offer."

There is no indication of how the sender knew your name, location or what you are, but it appears to have been written at least a few days ago, because the ink has long since dried. It also seems extremely unusual to go hunting after dark, especially in such cold and dreary weather.


Thetford has a turbulent history: It was founded on the ruins of the Iceni Celtic Tribe, it was (probably) the birthplace of Queen Boudica, it was sacked by Vikings on multiple occasions and was even burned to the ground and rebuilt multiple times. Its stubborn population has repeatedly refused to relocate, and by 1220, it sports a dozen cathedrals and more than 2500 inhabitants, including one of Europe's most influential figures: Papal Legate Pandulf Verraccio, the Pope's personal representative in England. The town was built around an abandoned Iron Age Hillfort which was rebuilt into a castle after a Norman invasion, recently burnt down, then rebuilt again less than 25 years ago*.

The best way for a character to reach Thetford is either by river boat or by horse and carriage. You all trickle into Thetford over a period of a couple of days, since you all come from very different places. Accordingly, you may take 2-3 days to do as you wish in Thetford before this letter arrives. You choose when your character arrives, and what he or she does in the meantime. Your character probably won't meet until the day of the invitation.

Also note: I have done, and will continue to do, a fair bit of historical research as we go. While I will take some liberties, almost everything in the world I describe will be based on actual historical records. But the world will change and respond based on your actions, so historical accuracy ends there.

And... Go!
Edit: Please post what your character does during the time up until the time of your invitation.

[center]Jadranka ex Verditius[/center]

Learning to stand on your own and make your way in the world is both the most important lesson you shall ever learn, and the greatest piece of knowledge you will ever hold.

The words of her parens, the arch-magus Zalmoxis, rang through her mind as she folded the letter and deposited it into the folds of her robes. She had long been taught that the day would come where she would be asked to make her own way, find her own calling, prove that she was worthy of the mantle of maga she now held. But she had never thought it would come so soon or so abruptly. Or perhaps she did know, but decided to pay it no mind or as being something in the far distant future that needed no immediate attention. And yet, here she was, standing on the dock, having disembarked in London, watching a man she never met and who handed her a letter that she didn't know she'd be receiving walk away, turning his back on her and leaving her to her own devices.

"The Thetford Warren Lodge," she mumbled to herself, her native Slavic probably sounding strange to anyone in earshot. "Shouldn't be too hard to find, I suppose. After all, I do need to learn how to make my own way in the world."

And so, Jadranka spent some time in London, not seeing the sights or taking in all the large city had to offer, but rather stepping into inns and lodges to ask where the lodge might be. Several times she started in Latin, and then switched to Slavic when the locals couldn't understand her. And then once again to broken English, forgetting from time to time that she was no longer in Transylvania or any other country where Slavic was the native language. But she would learn eventually, and when she did she would commit it to memory like all the other things she had been taught.

She arrived at the lodge a full day in advance of when she was supposed to arrive, acquiring suitable lodging for at least three evenings - and thanking her parens silently for providing just enough silver to get her by to this point - and she proceeded to use the time to her advantage. There were so many thoughts and ideas she had while traveling, and she needed to put them to paper immediately. The carriages she had been in weren't conducive to writing, and that choppy voyage across the English Channel from Antwerp was just as bad. So now that she had a room and a desk that weren't bouncing all over the place, she could start jotting down some notes. Simple geometric patterns she had observed, distant thoughts of possible calculations, interpreting one note on a spell into another note that might make more sense later on...simple things that she couldn't contain any longer.

Eventually, sleep overtook her. She had a specific routine back at Lycaneon, and she continued to keep to it as best she could here in this strange land. And when she awoke the next morning, on the 5th of March, her first task was to lay out all the tasks she had to do that day...and schedule them out. And then stick to the schedule. And of course, the most important task was the last one she needed to deal with - the meeting at 10, to which she arrived precisely on time.

Sceparnius ex Bonisagus

Sceparnius’s trip to Thetford was uneventful, at first. The Rhine barge provided a safe place to watch the world go by as he traveled north, and the strange and suspicious glares of the crewmen and fellow passengers meant that he was largely left to his own thoughts on the way. It suited him well enough. He didn’t know why he was being shuffled off on this mission, he was under strict orders to keep his mouth shut about it, and he didn’t really have the money to engage in any sort of distractions onboard in any case.

After the cog arrived in London, however, he realized just how lucky he had been. Even as the language started to shift in the lowermost reaches of the Rhine, he had been able to get by in German. This proved largely useless in London, outside of the merchant district, and even less so in the countryside. The glares of passersby on the road north did not improve when he greeted them in German, or Latin, and he soon stopped trying. Everyone seemed happier that way, and when the weather was clear he avoided the issue by sleeping in the forest on the side of the road, snaring the occasional rabbit, and foraging for wild greens.

That kind of luck obviously couldn’t continue, so it was no surprise when the cold February rain began the next day. The sky didn’t show any signs of changing, so Sceparnius forced himself to ask for hospitality at monasteries the rest of the way. The monks’ glares were different from the peasants – they seemed most concerned with heresy, seeing a bearded and robed man, well-educated in Latin, yet without a tonsure - but they were obligated to give him a night’s rest, and they answered his questions honestly if reluctantly.

He arrived in Thetford two days early, which would have been fine had there been anything to do or anyone to talk to. As it was, the monks at the local monastery were already starting to give him a nudge out the door when the letter arrives. A small donation – the last of his silver – was sufficient to convince them to allow a few more nights’ rest, but not to answer any of his questions about who the soldier might have been.

Sceparnius arrives at the Lodge on the evening of the 5th, his natural introversion sufficiently battered by the lack of anyone to talk to over the last few weeks that he’s finding himself almost looking forward to whatever absurd political machination his guts tell him this invitation is likely to be.

post removed

I only discovered the list of approved characters now, and the fact that Richard is not on it

Aureliana ex Miscellanea, Lineage of Pralix. Arrival at Thetford

After a very long journey, the ship carrying two recently-Gauntleted magae arrived at London. Aureliana assisted Oktavia in disembarking, helping her off the boat, then sought out travel accommodations for the two of them. Naturally, this was difficult, but silver spoke louder than their words, and, soon enough and for the price of twice as many, they were on their way, travelling by coach to Thetford. During the trip, the two magae spoke of their shared German heritages and experiences, comparing things like favorite foods and songs rather than risk reopening unpleasant memories of Oktavia's apprenticeship.

The trip took time, but Aureliana had paid their driver well enough that he was willing to act as their spokesperson and make sure they had lodgings when necessary. The two kept to themselves as much as possible, though Aureliana's heraldry drew more than a few stares as she walked by.

In due time, they found themselves in Thetford. The last leg of the trip had taken longer than they had expected, and so the two had to hurry to make it to the lodge on time. As she strode through the small hamlet, Aureliana couldn't help but enjoy the newness of the place, of the strange language and air. What magical secrets lie in this place, she wondered. What discoveries could she make, here, now that she was free?

Arriving at the hunting lodge, the new maga took a moment to set her hair in place and compose herself, then she pushed the door open.

Saying a warm goodbye to his mother, Osbertus enjoyed a leisurely trip down the Rhine to Utrecht, where he booked passage on a ship to Thetford, then tried to have wild night of carousing on the town, but never quite managed to fit in. He stumbled up the gangplank of the ship late that night, was vehemently and thoroughly cursed out by the sailor on duty, and made his way into his cabin where he collapsed onto the bunk.

He hadn’t been to sea in years, so the first hung-over day was long and miserable, and he stayed in his cabin feeling sorry for himself; but on the second day he was somewhat recovered, and went on deck to watch the waves and clouds and contemplate his mission. Founding a covenant…daunting, but very rewarding… But how to find other homeless Magi…his friends already in covenants wouldn’t be much help… Perhaps some use of Vim…

The morning of arrival at Ipswich was rainy, windy, and cold. “Ah, England!” He thought happily as he made ready to disembark. As he was leaving, a sailor passed him a paper, muttering something unintelligible, and he read the note with interest but not comprehension. After a few hours, he found a riverboat going to Thetford, and paid to ride along.

Upon arrival in Thetford, his days of travel were beginning to take a toll. After meeting the strange man in the street, he made his way to the biggest, nicest inn, and paid to stay for a week, realising with chagrin that almost all of his travel funds were now gone. He sat in the common room, drinking an ale, and trying to make a friend of the standoffish old landlord. Unfortunately, his best joke was met with a cold stare, and the landlord began avoiding him, and pointedly refused to meet his gaze or acknowledge him in any way. As afternoon turned to evening, and Osbertus sat in the taproom hoping for a refill, a newly-arrived barmaid told him that he was welcome to stay in his room, and they would bring him his meal. With a disappointed sigh, he trudged up the stairs. So began a dreary, lonely existence, of eating questionable food, drinking dirty water, and wishing he could have thought of a better joke. He mused over the invitation and its seal. He contemplated wandering around with a spontaneous Vim spell to try to find other Magi, but realized that wasn’t feasible, and just wandered around hoping to meet one through sheer luck.

After two days of pointless wandering and many dirty looks from the landlord and passers-by, it is the evening of the 5th of March. At sundown, in the quiet of his room, Osbertus raises his Parma, and then casts a spell* to allow himself to see in the dark, making peculiar cat-like gestures, before venturing out into the night.

He walks quickly through town, relaxes once he gets to the outskirts, and takes a leisurely stroll through the countryside, enjoying the novelty of seeing as a cat does. He arrives a couple of hours before 10, and explores for a little while. A bit before the appointed time, he knocks on the front door of the lodge.

*[size=85]He is casting a spontaneous version of Eyes of the Cat (ArM 131); modified to have Personal range. Base level 2 + 2 Sun = 4
Non-fatiguing spontaneous casting total: Mu 7 + Co 7 + Presence 5 + Exaggerated Gestures 1 =20 /5=4: Success![/size]

Marcella stood on the dock. She had tough boots, a red woolen shirt under a leather coat, a pack with her buckler hanging off of it, and her sword at her belt. Her pin was in her pack, the pin that would identify her as a maga of House Flambeau.

Back in England, after all these years. She was familiar with these lands, having grown up in this area. It would not be difficult to go home and see her parents. Marcella pushed away those thoughts. She was Marcella now, and lived a new life. Being in a tiny village wasn’t part of her future.

It had been a while since she had spent extensive time with mundanes unaccustomed to magi. Thankfully, she had been able to cast Aura of Ennobled Presence every morning, so that her Gift would not be too disruptive.
It was a long walk to Thetford; once she was on the open countryside, she paused and looked, and seeing no one, cast her running spell, and sped off. She reached Norwich by nightfall and stayed there. She left early in the morning, and sped off to Thetford.

She arrive in Thetford as the sun went down, casting her spell again just after sunset, when she found a place to stay. She saw the common room, and considered spending the evening there, with the fit men, but one would ask what a pretty girl was doing unaccompanied, and then her rage would come, and she would kill that person. It had happened before. And her instructions, instructions that had sent her from France to England were to avoid drawing attention. She headed back to her room.

She took her letter from the grim man, and pondered.

She got directions for the Lodge, and set out. She considered invoking Eyes of Cat, but she'd have to do it every couple of minutes, or risk being weakened. Rather, away from onlookers, she picked out a piece of wood, slowly and carefully cast Blade of Virulent Flame on her sword, then used the flame to light her torch. When she saw the lodge, she took out her pin, and put it on her coat. A short while later, she knocked on the doors.

Oktavia von Verditius

For the past fifteen years, Oktavia had wanted to do nothing more than get away from her parens’ covenant.

Now, Oktavia wanted nothing more than to be done traveling. She had never truly gotten an appreciation for how painful and unpleasant this would be - getting around the covenant with her crutches had seemed tolerable. But now, traveling roads, through crowded streets, on and off boats, in the heavy wind and rain constantly threatening to bowl her over, with a baby strapped to her chest all along the way... It was completely miserable. Never mind everybody judging her harshly for her Gift, Elisabeth’s skin color, her inability to speak the local language... If Oktavia had been by herself, she may have just given up and collapsed on the road. Thankfully, she had two sources of support to keep her going - Elisabeth, whose presence motivated Oktavia to keep moving and whose warmth actually staved off a bit of the chill, and Aureliana, the kind maga she’d met on the boat and who now helped her deal with her physical limitations while also keeping her spirits up through conversations about their homeland.

And so, buoyed by this support, Oktavia pushed forward, eventually reaching Thetford at Aureliana’s side. She seems genuinely shocked and a tad disturbed when she receives a letter of her own, and almost immediately once they’re aware from mundane eyes again casts The Invisible Eye Revealed to see if anyone is spying on her magically. “What...? I wasn’t part of... whatever thing you were responding to. I just tagged along. How did they know to write this? How did they know I would be here? I...” She remains frightened at the turn of events for a number of minutes, but eventually calms down and decides the only option is to attend the meeting and figure out what’s going on here.

Thus she follows Aureliana to her place of meeting, nervously stumbling through the doorway, almost hiding behind Aureliana’s dramatic entrance for a sense of safety.

Dair ex Merinita

Travelling lighter than he’d intended when he set out Dair walked briskly up the muddy road toward the Thetford Lodge enjoying the way the light rain ran over him.

He thought about the weeks behind him as he approached the designated doors. He’d only this afternoon been met by another of the set of strangers his master had initially introduced him to, so many weeks prior.
This one was armed with a personal letter, a seasoned soldiers kit, and a gruff demeanor. That made Dair smile because gruff rude grogs were nothing new to him, and the smile probably didn’t help anything.
Dair suspected that the soldier knew the risks of carrying arms of war openly with no insignia, and probably didn’t like acting as a messenger; but then who knows. Poor fellow probably couldn’t read and waiting around for a stranger, especially a Gifted stranger isn’t satisfying work. So a smile to tell the grog that he wasn’t dangerous seemed the right thing to do.
A little over half of his possessions had left his master’s covenant, crated and dispatched into the Redcap network, pending instructions from Dair or a redcap once he’d found out what all the secrecy was for and where he mighty eventually live. No point being bogged down by desks, books, and all that cruft when he would be on his first small adventure as a sworn Magus of the Order.

For the last few weeks Dair had traveled by boat or foot between the small coastal towns around the coast of England. Many travelers would have taken the direct route straight to the English coast, then inland across the middle belt of the many counties and regions to reach Thetford. Dair took a longer route which hugged the open ocean, switching between large and small boats to hop beneath the southern edge of England and eventually to the river-ways that he could follow inland. A moderate journey made longer, but also made far better for the fresh wind and rain, and the opportunity to swim and snack places he had only seen in maps and books.

Dair has his suspicions about what will welcome him at Thetford. He wasn’t worried about who had arranged this, mainly because he had no real enemies he knew of, and over the years he had come to realise just how powerful a magus might be, so a magus trying to kill him would easily be able to do that. No point with an elaborate set of tricks.
Instead this Thetford trip will result in something good; he just knew it.

Dair slowed his happy pace as he drew close to the Lodge and tried to take it in. If he was truthful he’d been lucky to get here on time due to the routes he chose and the distractions he indulged in. Now as the evening bells sounded it was the time to see what it was all about.


Aureliana pushes into the door, then stops as she crosses the threshold. ”So we weren’t the only ones invited,” she murmurs before raising her voice in Latin. ”Hail, sodales. Well met to you.”

Sceparnius looks up from where he's been sitting, warming himself by a small fire. "Hail! Are you the one to whom we owe the honor of this invitation?"

She shakes her head as she lowers her hood; her blonde hair is cropped short, but seems to rustle in a nonexistent breeze. ”Alas, no. We recently arrived from Bremen.” Nodding her head toward Oktavia, Aureliana continues, ”But this place seems pleasant. Have the rest of you been here long?”

Sceparnius answers, "We've been arriving since nightfall, it seems. Our host apparently keeps late hours."

Hearing someone mention the invitations, Jadranka looks up from the book she's had her nose buried in, the quill in her left hand stopping long enough for her to pay attention. As it seemed introductions were being given, she decided to chime in. "Mathematicus Jadranka ex Verditius, at your service," she put forward pleasantly. "I myself arrived just a few minutes prior to dinner yesterday, taking the opportunity my parens provided me with in arriving early to do a bit of light reading and writing." She holds up the tome she has been writing in, its thickness indicating it in and of itself is anything but light.

The newcomer frowns. ”I always forget to lead with the names. It just seems so much easier to go right into conversation.” Then she clenches her right hand over her heart. ”Aureliana, of Miscellanea. Pralician and student of sorceries both lost and forgotten.”

Sceparnius seems to have also forgotten his introduction. "And I am Sceparnius ex Bonisagus. I nearly decided to travel through Bremen myself, but ended up taking the Rhine route instead."

Oktavia scoots her way in on her crutches and finds a place to sit down so she can set up her crutches against the wall and unsling her now-quite-curious-about-surroundings daughter to hold her properly. ”Oktavia von Verditius,” Oktavia meekly chimes in with a thick German accent, looking a bit warily at the other Verditius in the room. ”And my daughter Elisabeth.”

A short woman, with a sword, approaches. ""Well met, sodales. I am Marcella ex Flambeau." There's a French accent there.
SceparniusLast Friday at 11:50 AM
"Well, I don't know about the rest of you," Sceparnius says, "But my invitation here - to this lodge and to this island - was rather mysterious. I suppose it's too much to ask that any of you have some idea why we are here?"

At Oktavia's introduction, Jadranka beamed. She was always eager to meet other Verditius magi; her own studies were so far off from what a typical Verditius would do that she viewed the normal crafting of items as exotic and interesting. So she seized the chance before her, rushing to Oktavia, shaking the woman's hand rather vigorously. "Well, met, sodales!" she happily shot out. "I was so afraid that I'd be the only one of our House here; Zalmoxis was so secretive about why I was to be sent here that he didn't give me any indication of what or whom to expect. I am quite positive that there is much we can learn from each other!"

There is a knock on the door, then it slowly swings open, revealing a blond young man with a broad smile. "This is wonderful!" he says excitedly, "I've been looking for fellow Magi for days! Which of you sent the letter? I'm Osbertus ex Bonisagus, by the way!"
He comes in and closes the door.

”It seems it was none of us.” Aureliana takes it on herself to repeat the introductions already given. ”But it is certainly a curious thing. Why us? What have we in common that would draw someone - or something - to call us so?”

"I met a tough-looking old man who gave me an invitation to come here at this time. It has a seal on it that I don't know, but I feel like I should." Osbertus takes out the invitation and shows the seal to Aureliana.

She glances at it and nods. ”Much the same for us, I’m afraid. Mystery and uncertainty abound.” Her voice trembles, like she’s suppressing emotion.
Aureliana ex MiscellaneaLast Friday at 12:27 PM
She begins to pace, mumbling to herself in German before her eyes widen and she stops. ”Oktavia and I are both newly-Gauntleted. What about the rest of you? Have you been released for a year or more?”

Jadranka asked, "Did any of your parens' tell you why you were to be even heading to this island in the first place? Surely the invitation isn't a coincidence, nor is our being here..."

Osbertus counts on his fingers for a moment, "9 days! That's how long it's been. The moment I was sworn in I got sent here." He considers Jadranka for a moment, "You were sent here as well? Were we all sent here by our Parens?" He looks around. "Did they tell you all to build a covenant?"

”He did.” Aureliana seems astounded. ”Moreover, not to return to the mainland.” She looks around at everyone else. ”Were they in communication with one another? To have this many apprentices move on so close to one another, then send them to the same area...why?”

Jadranka squints her eyes for a moment, obviously deep in thought. When she comes back around, she just smiles rather plainly, a lightness in her voice. "There is a reason for all things, usually found in the numbers surrounding such situations. We are all just out of Gauntlet by days each, which is magnified once over by how long we had to travel to get here. Then the age of our parens, collectively, multiplied once again by where each of our apprentice Covenants are..." Her voice trails off as she becomes lost in thought over the math of the situation, sure that there is an analytical answer here somewhere.

"That's what I was told." Sceparnius shakes his head. "I had to leave in the middle of the night, in secret. And my gauntlet was barely completed as well." He looks slightly confused by Jadranka's mention of the ages of parens and parens' covenants, but seems to shrug it off. In the current mystery, there's no telling what may be important.

Oktavia looks kind of sheepish when her hand is suddenly shook. ”Oh, um... Yes, hello. I look forward to...” The buzz of conversation has already moved along by the time she finishes mumbling a greeting. Every sentence makes her feel more out of place. ”I don’t think my parens had anything to do with this, since she had very different reasons for banning me from Europe, but... I guess I lucked out that we ended up on the same boat, huh?” Oktavia immediately pinches herself for the attempt at wordplay.

Osbertus looks at Oktavia, "Did you not receive the same invitation we did? I think you must belong here, the coincidence is too hard to believe..." then he trails off, and gets a look of wonder on his face. "Is that a baby!?!? Oh my goodness! Can I see?!?"
He tentatively moves toward Oktavia

Oktavia smiles and nods, holding Elisabeth up gingerly. ”You can hold her, if you like. Just be gentle. And don’t be surprised if she doesn’t take well to your Gift, though she was alright about it with Aureliana...” The baby has her mother’s bright red hair, but otherwise it might be hard to see the family resemblance - where Oktavia is pale-skinned, straight-haired and blue-eyed, Elisabeth’s skin is nearly bronze-colored, her hair is very curly, and she has amber eyes.

Osbertus takes the baby very gingerly and awkwardly, and after a few moments nervously hands her back, "Oh she's so little! I'm too scared to hold her." He continues to peer at the baby safely in her mother's arms, making silly faces. "I was a covenant baby's not a bad way to grow up, but it can be a bit lonely."

Sceparnius smiles as well to see Elisabeth. "So we have a seventh member of our little covenant then. Did Elisabeth get her own invitation?" He pauses for a moment and wrinkles his brow. "I...I meant that as a joke. But...did she? I'm not sure it would surprise me at this point."

Sceparnius' comment shook Jadranka back to the waking world. "Covenant? We don't even have a site. Or buildings. Or a source of income. We are far from being a Covenant."

Oktavia laughs. ”I sure hope not. Hopefully the people who arranged this are at least attached enough to reality to remember babies can’t read.” Then she nods to Jadranka. ”Yes, those things are true. And while I don’t know much about the locals, I’m led to understand that taking land without the King’s permission is going to get a lot more ire here than in most of mainland Europe...”

Osbertus can't stop looking at the baby as he talks, "Our intent and agreement to form a covenant is not inconsequential, but we are still homeless, it's true. I think we should figure out what we want, then we can determine how to get it. I would bet my sigil that my mo... I mean... my Parens wouldn't have sent me here if there wasn't some kind of plan. And not to be crass, but we have the right assortment of Houses to make a very solid covenant."

"I'm not saying we don't have the ability form one. Just that we aren't one yet."

Sceparnius nods. "Indeed, I am getting ahead of myself. We are fully gauntleted magi now and it's up to us - not our parens - to make such decisions. We need not rush into commitments just because we received some cryptic instructions."

”When I hear you talking about things we don’t have, all I hear is a list of things we are soon to have!” Aureliana glances around again, then moves farther in the room.

Osbertus raises his hands. "Well, let's see if we agree. Do any of you feel uncomfortable about forming a covenant with this group of Magi? For my part, I have no objection. Of course, we don't know each other yet, but we don't have to be friends to be colleagues. We certainly need a covenant, and I can tell you from recent personal experience that it's not easy to find fellow Magi who don't have covenants yet."

"I am not opposed to this at all. However, someone is asking us to do this. I do expect this person or persons to provide support for us, to create a 'defensible' point. Defensible against what?" adds Marcella

”This isn’t usual, is it?” Aureliana looks around. ”There must be something we aren’t seeing or don’t know.”

Jadranka furrows her brow a bit. "While not opposed to forming a Covenant, there are some things that need to be taken into account. This is a strange island, at least to me; what hold does the Order have here already? Is there a Tribunal we need to seek out first and gain acceptance/permission? Do we have the authority to even ask for this of whatever Tribunal is already here?"

Aureliana interjects, ”If we are to do this, we should just do it. Permission takes time, but forgiveness is easy once possession is had.”

"You have the right of it. There was no planning, simply to attend here immediately," agrees Marcella.

"Other covenants aren't a problem as much as mundane authority, I think," adds Osbertus. "If we find a good spot for a covenant, that's unclaimed, it's for the good of the Order that we start a covenant there."

Jadranka's eyesbrows rise. "Perhaps our mysterious host, whoever that may be, will fill us in on the details once he or she arrives."

”You may be right, but I enjoy the challenge of puzzling beforehand. It gives me joy to be a step ahead,” Aureliana says, smiling. ”So what other connections can be had? Our Houses are disparate, but not exclusive. What of our Arts?” She points to herself. ”My master saw to it I was versed in each Art, though by necessity not deeply, so I could recognize them in other forms.”

”Well, um...” Oktavia looks thoughtful. ”Rego and Vim are my specialties, I suppose. I know how to put up an Aegis, if that’s helpful... Find regiones... Otherwise the magic I know isn’t very practically helpful.”

"I am of House Flambeau." Marcella crosses her arms. "I follow the Founder's school of combat."

”Fire magic, then?” Aureliana nods. ”So many situations that can solve.” Then, to Oktavia: ”All those skills seem fundamental to a covenant in my eyes. We are fortunate to have you, if you’ll have us, at any rate.”

Osbertus nods as Aureliana speaks, "I agree. Vim is the most fundamental and important Art, I'd say. Not to discount the mighty Flambeau." He bows slightly toward Marcella. "I studied Vim, too, as well as Corpus, Mentem, and Animal."

Marcella narrows her eyes at Osbertus' comments.

Osbertus looks nervous. "Well, what I mean is, the combative arts are obviously important, but short of a Wizard's March or War isn't it rare to be able to use them?"

"War is more frequent than you might think. Another magus can declare Wizard's War against you for any reason. "

"True. Innocent or well-intentioned comments can often cause offense." He smiles and glances down momentarily.

Marcella allows a partial smile.

"I, for one, am glad to have someone so combat-capable watching my back. I..." Aureliana laughs. "The one time my master tried to have me practice with a blade, I ended up on my back, with the sword stabbed into the ground next to his feet. I'm still not sure how I got there, but we agreed I have no talent for fighting."

OOC: Those of you who do not speak any of the local languages can get directions from clergy and nobles you encounter along the way. It’s an inconvenience, but nothing crippling.

Jadranka: The people you met on the way through London and Thetford treat you with thinly-veiled hostility. Your linguistic skills and charming demeanor achieve some damage control, but it’s obvious that you’re not trusted. Most people are happy to give you directions and see you on your way. On the bright side, since the crowds tend to disperse wherever you go, there’s nobody for you to bump into when you’re engrossed in a book or lost in thoughts.

Sceparnius: The hostility of mundane folk is nothing new to you, but thankfully you didn’t have to deal with it very often. As you enter the lodge, you feel as if someone is watching you, but that’s nothing new to you.

The woods surrounding the lodge seem eerie and it’s making the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but you’re not sure why.

Marcella: Between your Gift, the spell and the language barrier, people behave with a mixture of fear and reverence. They treat you like a wolf on a leash - if you wanted them dead, they’d be dead, and they know it. They’re mostly content just to stay out of your way, avoid eye contact and hope you don’t notice them.

Osbertus: You arrive a few hours early and observe the lodge from a safe distance. There’s no sign of anyone in there yet, but there are fresh boot prints leading from the door to the road and back. Someone has been living here, but whoever they are, they haven’t been using the lodge to hunt. A couple of hours later, the other magi begin to trickle in.

[Area Lore and general background] You actually recognize the seal on the letter as the official seal of the Poor Knights, more commonly known as the Templar Knights. While they’ve changed seal and leadership a few times over the decades, this particular seal was given to the Templars by the previous Pope, and the words “Militia Dei” signify that these are soldiers of God - above the station of any clergyman - and answer only to God, the Pope and one another (in roughly that order).

Aureliana and Oktavia: Out of the whole troupe, your trip was possibly the smoothest and easiest, in no small part because of the company of another Gifted individual. Elisabeth seems barely bothered by the Gift at all. The messenger only had onw letter, and seemed surprised to see two magi and a child. But whatever his thoughts were on the matter, he kept them to himself.

Dair: Before you left, your Mentor gave you a copy of “De Gestis Britonum”, a book on the deeds and mythic characters of the British Isles (Summa: England Lore, Level 2, Quality 3). He did not explain why, but it seemed to carry some importance. The trip itself was cold, but fairly uneventful.

The lodge is a large wooden house with two floors and a well-stocked wine cellar. The main room of the first floor is a den covered in pelts, furs and various trophies, and has no less than three fireplaces (one of which has been ignited). The cabin resides a half-hour walk from town, but because it’s owned by Pandulf, it is well known. The people of Thetford generally see it as a monument to Pandulfs excess. The den is so large that even with the fireplace next to Sceparnius roaring, the light fails to dispel the shadows playing on all the walls.

Your conversation goes from awkward to jovial as the first hour passes and you all get to know each other. Around midnight you hear the sound of horses and a cart outside. A minute later, the door opens. The wind has clearly picked up strength, because a powerful gust wafts into the cabin, carrying with it the sickeningly sweet stench of rotting flesh.

A hooded figure steps inside and closes the door behind him. As he straightens up, you recognize him as the messenger who delivered your letters. He throws his cloak to the floor and speaks Latin in a deep barytone voice, “Thank you for coming. You may call me Marcell.” He bows curtly and scans the room. He has a longsword hanging from his belt. It appears to be sturdy and well-made, but otherwise unremarkable.

He takes a few steps toward you and appears to consider his words for a bit. He’s clearly well-versed in Latin, but the form of Latin used in ceremonies is not normally used as a social language, so it doesn’t flow very easily.

“I need your help.” He stops for a moment and considers his words again. “An unknown enemy stirs. We do not know who it is, but it cannot be defeated by force of arms alone. We know that it will strike the innocent and the infirm in the first wave, and that this wave is coming soon. This is not something we are accustomed to fighting, so for the good of the people, we asked the Order for help in defending the civilian population. They sent you, presumably because you’re too young for our enemy to know. If the enemy sees us preparing, they will attack before we have a chance to mount a defense.”

He pauses again, his smoldering stare reflecting the light from the fireplace. “We have a plan. If it works, I hope it will be the birth of an alliance between our two orders. But our first priority is to defend the innocent. Will you help?”

OOC: While common folk tend to think of the Templars as an extension of the Church, the Templars are primarily a military organization, not a religious one, and their primary interest is the defense of holy sites and relics. There are also many romance novels and folk tales about the Templars which tend to romanticize them as heroes and saints. Between of this and because they do not answer to clergymen, church officials tend to resent Templars.

There is no official stance between the Templars or the Order of Hermes. Some Magi work with Templars (or even join them), others have been persecuted by them - it varies from place to place.

Osbertus steps forward. His demeanor changes drastically, the boyish goof is replaced by a sober diplomat, and he speaks seriously in slow, formal Latin. "You must understand that none of us can speak for all of us without specific prior agreement between ourselves. However, as a representative of the lineage of Trianoma, I agree that if your order will help to establish a new covenant, I will do my best to ensure whatever aid that covenant can provide will be available to you and those you wish to protect, until the threat you speak of has been vanquished. Without such a covenant, the protection we can offer is limited, but you must understand that while the covenant will aid you, the covenant will be autonomous and independent. I specifically do not answer for my fellow magi, and do not commit them to joining in the covenant I speak of, but I invite them to join with me in this venture."

[[OOC - Roll for Charm from discord 1d10+7 charm/first impressions, not including -3 for normal Gift = (3)+7 = 10]]

Grinning, Aureliana steps forward. “You’re saying there’s an unknown enemy, of otherworldly ken, that threatens these people?” She looks at the others, then stands beside Osbertus. “I don’t know how to say yes in enough languages. I’m with him, and so, with you.”

Marcella speaks: “My sodales Osbertus speaks to my concerns. House Flambeau has always been ready to protect the weak and persecute the marauder. A covenant of magi needs many things, in order for us to gain strength and defeat this enemy. I will fight, please tell us more about this foe.”

Dair is looking between the Marcell and the other Magi with interest, he commits to "I'll help" and nothing more.
He might be young and enthusiastic, but he knows a speech when he sees one and wonders whats in the as yet unspoken details yet to be discovered.

Sceparnius speaks without rising from the bench. "If what you say is true, then I agree that we should try to help. I have never..." He seems to be picking his words carefully in Latin. "I have always believed that good people of different backgrounds must remain united to fight the evil in the world. Our two organizations are natural allies."

His expression grows sterner as he continues. "And yet, I would like a few questions answered first. What can you tell us about this foe? These woods seem dark and foreboding, and I have spent many nights alone in the Schwarzwald for comparison. The smell of death is in the air. And we have been told nothing except silence and secrets."

[center]Jadranka ex Verditius[/center]

Jadranka had been buried in her notes when Marcell came into the lodge, papers and vials of ink scattered all about the small space she had carved out for herself. And while she would much rather be working on her calculations, as soon as Marcell spoke up she immediately came to attention, her eyes focused on the large man, her ears and mind focused on the words he said. She tried to quietly pick up her things at the same time, but the rustling of papers and the clinking of bottles could easily be heard while she mouthed "Sorry" several times to whomever looked in her direction. Eventually Marcell gave some information, and she nodded in agreement with what the others had said. But still, she had several questions that had not yet been asked.

"Master Marcell, thank you for the invitation. As Osbertus has already indicated, this little band of magi you have put together are not yet a formal covenant, and we do not have the resources a full covenant would have at their disposal to help you. As such, the amount of help we can provide might be limited in scope, but not for lack of heart or ability. With that said, I'm rather hopeful that, even without a formal agreement between ourselves, we can come together to do whatever it is we can. But, with that said...,"

She trailed off slightly, unsure how to put forth her next question. She decided to just go for it, the brashness of it all be damned.

[b]"You mentioned that you have a plan. Can you provide any of the details of said plan? I know that defense of the innocent and infirm are the first priority, but perhaps your...plan...might hold some insight for our group that may help us do exactly that?

"And on the topic of defense of the innocent...where are we to start? Is there some particular group of mundanes or innocents you are hoping to have us shield from this nameless evil you have yet to divulge?"[/b]

Oktavia quietly takes in what everyone has to say, rocking Elisabeth as things go along. She’s taking remarkably well to all these Gifts, she notes absently.

Once everyone’s finished speaking, Oktavia chews over what she should say for several moments, then offers quietly, “I was not initially part of this arrangement, but I’ll be happy to support everyone else in lending aid to you, once we’re informed and established.” Then she goes back to tending to Elisabeth while waiting to hear more information.

“We honestly do not know who the enemy is, or I would gladly tell you. We know only that they are someone from our past. And we’ve been told that your aid will be instrumental in defeating them.”

Marcell retrieves a rolled-up piece of vellum from his cloak. He turns back to you and says, “This is the deed to Portus Adurni [Latin: “Harbor On the Heights” or “Elevated Port”]. It’s a dilapidated Roman fort, 50 miles to the east, near the village of Dunwich. It has been rebuilt and renamed many times over the centuries, but was never conquered. It is located on a sheer cliff at the intersection of the North Sea, the Cams Lake and one of the Thames’ tributaries. It is in an excellent tactical position, and there is a small community of fishers, farmers and loggers nearby. My order owns the castle, but we simply lack the people to man it. If you swear to defend its people, I am authorized to hand it over to you.” He holds out the deed for one of you to accept.

He pauses. “As I said, it is important that nobody know of this base until it is ready to be defended. Your arrival has caused some commotion, and it’s no secret that you’ve been asking about this lodge. When you leave here tonight, I burn down this lodge and hopefully, people will assume you died in the fire. Travel east, and do not stop until you reach Dunwich. Secure the port, restore the castle and provide sanctuary for the population of the region. Hopefully, by the time our enemy attacks, we will have at least one safe port in the British Isles.”

He grins like someone unaccustomed to smiling, “Who knows, it may even become the staging grounds for our eventual counter-attack, and a fortress where the Order of Hermes and the Templar Knights can join forces against a common foe. But for now, we simply need you to safeguard its people and create a safe haven for… Whatever may come. The details are up to you.”

He grits his teeth and hides his concern about the group behind a thin façade.