Chapter 17C: Fallout

The Renegade Metron dragged his feet, chained as he was to his captor that followed in silence. Even if he were to contemplate escape and released himself from his chains, he still had to contend with the fact that his talisman was in the hands of his guard, Octavian of house Tremere. The pair had departed from Andorra early in the morning. The only reason Metron remained alive was knowledge of the whereabouts of another outlaw of the Order of Hermes. A secret that would not remain for long once the Quaesitors were done with their probing. It was halfway to lunch when they were met by Trentus of Flambeau.

Trentus, did not bother to hide his hatred for the fallen magus of his house. He turned to the quaesitore questioningly. Before he could speak, the Tremere answered with a bow. "Greetings. I beg pardon master Trentus for not including you in events that led to Metron's capture. Circumstances transpired sooner than anticipated."

Trentus balled his hands into fists. Was the Tremere mocking him? he wondered­. He ignored the thought for now. "He could escape at any time! You should slay him where he stands!"

Metron watched the exchange with a mix of dread but also acceptance. "Master Trentus need not worry. The captive is no longer in possession of his talisman." said Octavian as his hand gently tapped the hilt of the blade currently tied to his hip. There is no need to be distressed. The arrangement is not in jeopardy."

Trentus dismissed the comment with an aggressive wave of the hand. "I don't give a damn about Barcelona! Metron deserves to die!"

The Tremere stared back blankly. "If master Trentus is so adamant, there will be no intervention. However, neither will Metron be released from his bonds." Trentus smirked contemptuously towards Octavian but as he faced Metron, all he could do was spit on the man. "Curse the both of you." he snarled, denied his glorious revenge. Metron breathed a sigh of relief. Although his fate was sealed, there were more dignified ways to die than being slaughtered helplessly on the road by an enraged Flambeau. Octavian simply nodded and indicated with a tug of the chain for Metron to resume the march towards Duresca. Trentus reasoned he would follow behind should the opportunity arise that Metron decided to escape.

Now a trio, they reached their destination several days later. Several armed custos bearing the heraldry of Duresca immediately filtered out of the coven's front gates to surround them with drawn weapons. Trentus looked from side to side, ready to immolate the lot should they attack. Finally, Tacitus and Tremsilla of house Guernicus emerged from the coven. Octavian went to offer polite greetings to the pair but Tremsilla snorted. Tacitus decided for a more direct approach. "Octavian. We had thought you dead. We found the charred remains of the woman in your employ, Relegare dead, stabbed through the throat, and our divinations unable to locate your whereabouts. Now you arrive escorting Metron here despite wizard's march. You will have much to explain."

The Tremere lowered his head briefly, before looking back at the two with his eyes closed, and a painted smile on his face. "I apologize for not informing the masters of Duresca sooner of circumstances. A report is in due order."

"Indeed. Bachus wants to see you. Now." barked Tremsilla as she yanked the chain from Octavian's hand and marched towards the keep with Metron in tow. All but two of the custos followed her. Once she was out of earshot, Trentus whistled. "She sure loves our dear Tremere."

"Master Trentus, your attempts to humour or console with sarcasm are unnecessary." replied Octavian. "The task is complete. That is all that matters. Master Tacitus, may I impose upon the hospitality of Duresca to house master Trentus for the evening?"

Tacitus eyed Trentus but finally acquiesced and sent him off with the last remaining custos to show him to the guest quarters. As Octavian began to make his way towards the keep, Tacitus grabbed him by the sleeve, careful not to touch the man. Octavian turned with his eyes fixed on the hand before it released its hold. "Octavian, I'm sorry about Marjolaine. She seemed very attached to you."

The Tremere adjusted his sleeve. "Miss Marjolaine's service was exemplary but she was released from her duties. It was her decision to follow that led to her demise."

Tacitus sighed. "Don't you care about anyone, anything but yourself?"

"Yes." came the reply before Octavian entered through the gates to face his peers.

The Quaesitores had assembled in their meeting hall that looked very much like a court room with Brachus upon a raised dais to pronounce final judgments. With memory aiding spells, Octavian recounted with cold detail the events of his battle with Metron, touching briefly on his departure from Andorra, and the adventure into the magical realm as far as he knew it. Although he was not subject to spells of truth-telling, the magi looked upon him with great scrutiny.

Tremsilla was nearly thrown out the room for contempt when she decried how Octavian demonstrated no remorse for the death of his servant. Instead she sat down and fumed in her seat. Tacitus stood silent as the others each questioned the magi in turn in a vain attempt to poke holes in the testimony, particularly as how he had escaped the burning inferno. When no answers came, even to magical scrying, Brachus ended the questioning period with loud taps of his gavel. "That is all the questioning needed. Octavian, you no doubt understand that it is only due to politics that you obtained your honoured status among the quaesitors and your association to Andorra maintains it. Your departure from that misguided covenant compels us to move to have you removed. The mere possibility of infernal meddling gives us justification. We will deliberate. You are to remain here and our decision will be rendered on the morrow."

Octavian bowed in acknowledgement and thanks before walking out. Trentus awaited him outside the meeting hall. "How did it go?"

"Greetings master Trentus. I had expected you would be resting after the long trip. To answer your curiosity; as anticipated." He sat down carefully, standing for several hours in a row had sent stinging pain down his injured side. He felt the need to rest a moment although Trentus mistook it for a desire to converse.

"So you're not afraid of them condemning you for doing your duty?" asked Trentus.

He looked up to the Flambeau from his seat. "Those that are without fear should not qualify as courageous master Trentus. Nevertheless, fear is not a concern."

"Then what will you do?"

"If master Trentus insists, there is the possibility of Iapho remaining at large. The opportunity is there to return to the good graces of the Order."

Trentus could not help but feel that was directed at him. He wanted to avenge himself of a defeat against Metron and bring justice to the renegade for dragging House Flambeau's name in the mud. If he was pardoned and allowed to enter Barcelona again, it was a plus. "Thanks. I will take it into consideration. I'll leave you to your thoughts."

Octavian remained seated for an hour before the doors to the meeting chambers were opened. The Guernicus all departed their separate ways, some casting suspicious looks at the Tremere while others avoided eye contact with his terrible green eyes altogether. Only Tacitus approached him.

"Master Tacitus. Am I to understand you have adjourned for the time being?"

Tacitus nodded. "Although, it matters little. it does not bode well for you." Octavian remained silent. "I have been your mentor for several years. Tell me the truth. You owe me that."

Octavian nodded. "Understood, but there is nothing more to say."

Tacitus frowned. "Surely you aren't a fool! You would know what would transpire if there were suspicions of infernal manipulations."

"Whether I deceived the council is irrelevant. A fabrication would have resulted in the same. Now, some council members will believe they act in accordance to their own ethics."

Tacitus slammed his fist into the wall. "Goddamnit. Why must you always be so infuriating?"

Octavian lowered his head contritely. "I apologize for any undue distress I have caused."

"i don't know why you even bother Tacitus. But if 'master Octavian' is feeling in an honest mood, then perhaps he could care to explain what happened at Jaferiya." spoke Tremsilla as she emerged from behind a corner hall. She had eavesdropped over much of the conversation.

"Greetings mistress Tremsilla. I must express embarrassment and ignorance to the topic of your query."

"The dream, about Relegare?"

Tacitus frowned. "So you peered into his memories without permission!"

Tremsilla ignored him, pressing Octavian for answers.

"Master Tacitus, your appreciation for the traditional view of the Code is admirable. Tremsilla's stance while different, led her to act in what she certainly felt was in good conscience..."

"Just shut up and get on with it. I don't need to explain myself, and I certainly don't need YOU to do it for me." Tremsilla replied impatiently.

Octavian nodded. "The apparition was likely tormented by the events that resulted in its mortal death. Women, even those destitute to join a brothel are not as hardened to violence as the natures of men."

"Oh, I won't be quite as tormented to see what fate may befall you. I speak of the words you shared with Relegare. Why did you apologize to her?"

He considered the question for a moment. "It is... difficult to explain. Only a demonstration would suffice."

Tacitus' eyes widened. "No! Enough."

Tremsilla. "Let him demonstrate. I want to see it for myself."

Tacitus slapped the woman across the face. "Are you mad? There is reason why Relegare was broken until Metron freed her!"

Tremsilla wiped the blood from where her lip was split. "Surely a spell isn't so bad."

"Pain is pain. Call it what you will. Does it make it any less painful knowing it is a spell or an illusion and not reality?" said the Tremere coldly.

Tremsilla felt a shiver down her spine. Perhaps it was best she relent. She walked away without further word despite the polite farewell offered by the one she had hoped to torment.

Tacitus escorted Octavian to within his chambers, outside his sanctum to discuss without interruption. His protégé was a very distant person. He reasoned that perhaps a more secluded location would get the answers he sought. Once they were both seated, he resumed. "Why did you have to antagonize Tremsilla? I know the foolish woman deserved it, but it doesn't help your cause. And surely with THAT spell." He continued when he received no answer. "Let's start from the beginning. Why did you choose to leave Andorra?".

"The course of action that covenant was following was as anathema."

"So they are heretics?" Tacitus grew worried.

"As heretical as any magus. Although one must be wary of the lineage of master Ludovico and his dealings. I speak not of the church nor the divine." When Tacitus looked puzzled, he bowed. "I apologize and will clarify. Andorra chooses to segregate itself away from the Order under a flawed notion that it instills them greater freedoms and thus power. In truth, they fail to recognize they become bound to that notion and the consequences and limit themselves. They play at magi without responsibility or obligation. That they invite then the Divine within the covenant risks destroying the magical aura within. They accept magi who act without thought or consequences of their actions to those around them is what is irreconcilable."

"Not all magi are unselfish Octa..."

"No. When one has power, one becomes arrogant and isolated to the world. They fail to notice then that once that power that made them so coveted in the past turns sour and instead becomes hatred and loathing. In the utmost hubris they believe to raise themselves to standing above covenants of the Order."

Tacitus was taken aback. The Tremere was as dispassionate in tone as ever, but he had never interrupted before and not without an apology no less. "I see... and how long are you going to cope with that injury?"

Tacitus could feel his heart skip a beat in his chest at the brief sight of Octavian's murderous glare. No sooner than it had appeared it was gone, replaced by a blank stare. "Master Tacitus, I commend you on your discerning eye."

"You didn't answer my question. Although, I don't expect you to. You aren't getting any younger Octavian, your faerie nature not withstanding. You'll have to brew your first longevity potion soon if you haven't already. I can't believe I'm saying this to a Tremere but you'll have to come to consider enlisting others to serve you. Think of it like chess. Allow the pawns and knights be your open hand. Let your talents serve as the Queen and bishops."

"I assume by the metaphor that the King is to be as immovable as the Code."

Tacitus frowned at first, but couldn't help but laugh after some thought. "Yes, Brachus would be more lenient if you chose to adopt more of his philosophy. Although, you aren't the type to take sides. You are free to depart. You have repaid me in full."

Octavian rose to his feet and nodded. "Good evening master Tacitus."

The Guernicus magi had assembled once again in the morning to further deliberate their decision. With all but one of the Shadow Flambeau dealt with permanently, some debated there was no need of non-Guernicus quaesitores to help bolster their numbers. Others were in opposition. To them it was illogical to throw away manpower so liberally as they held more power in Iberia than any other covenant of Quaesitores including Magvillus within their home tribunal. Better to push forward with their present advantage they argued. The most vocal of the naysayers had been Tremsilla but she was surprisingly subdued the second round. Tacitus chuckled to himself, thinking she had a good taste of humble pie. None could truly pin down any breach of the Code and while unorthodox, Octavian's methods had provided results.

When noon came upon them, a consensus had been reached. Brachus intoned. "Octavian of Tremere, we congratulate you for successfully apprehending the Renegade Metron during your Wizard March. We have decided however to deny you the responsibility of expanding that March to hunt down Iapho. Further, there are concerns behind the events of your confrontation with Metron of infernal manipulations. As such, we deem it wise to accept your petition for junior membership at Duresca and pair you with another Guernicus magus to provide assistance." In truth, it was a precaution to keep an eye on him. "That is all."

This is some excellent prose my friend! I grant thee a bonus of three points of Confidence.
Now, where do you want to go with this?

I have a few ideas where. Waiting to see what happens with that would be apprentice.