Chapter 2: Back at the covenant

Caput addresses Polycarpus

"Those terms are quite acceptable to me.

Please inform me where I am allowed to set up my Sanctum. A place where a small ship's boat could navigate and dock would be ideal.

I believe Kalliste wanted to wait regarding the threat of the Hedge-magi backed Prince until she had time to do more research. I will
follow her lead on that for now, although I will have my men and my ship coordinate with the covenant's 'traders' immediately so we can either
support each other or work to avoid duplicating effort, depending on how the professionals at such things decide is best.

I am willing to pursue this infernal Regio immediately, but as that is not my area of expertise, it would seem prudent to join an expedition
rather than strike off on my own.

Until others are willing to tackle either long term threat, I am happy enough to just focus on getting my sanctum set up and maybe doing a bit
of research. Most magi have lots of projects waiting for time, and I am no exception to that rule. "

"I think we need to infiltrate the duke's service and his naval command to perhaps influence them to ignore our ships. I am not ready for battle with the hedge wizards in a place where they have lots of time to prepare defenses and have a ducal guard. They are not of the order by word of the queasitors but the queasitors have not found them worth bothering with yet." Kalliste says softly. "On the other hand, I have a few spells for destroying infernal creatures and draining their might. I have gone demon hunting."

Amphora nods her head in agreement.

"Your terms are most generous, and I see no problem in committing myself to the goals you have stated; I would be honored to join your ranks."

While the various challenges to the covenant are described, the young Tremere grows quiet; at length, her spell speaks for her again.

"As I mentioned before, I am more than willing to aid my sodales in dealing with this infernal taint, though my strengths do not lie in that area. I find it troubling that a group of hedge magi in the service of a duke is not considered a threat by the Quaesitors, but it won't be the first time they've underestimated a danger to the Order; I would very much like to become involved in this matter, though as Kalliste points out, we need time to learn more of our enemies and adequately prepare for any future confrontation. I, too, need time to set up my sanctum, and must signal my people to make the crossing so they can establish themselves."

She indicates Atlas with a nod.

"Your knowledge of Terram would be invaluable to me, brother, in erecting a tower of my own; I will accept any payment you deem appropriate for your services."

Polycarpus: I must ask the council should we really meddle in mundane affairs? I can see wisdom in keeping an informer in the dukes city to keep us up to date on what the duke is planning. But beyond that? I am not certain… Polycarpus draws for breath. After all we do take huge risks and should we not welcome the duke if he can bring peace and order to this region. We should find some way to invest our silver in some peaceful yet profitable income. If we do somehow attack the dukes councilmen and wizards and slay them either by intent or accident then what? Do the duke send his men here for retaliation? I think so and how do we respond. With force or by running? I am not keen on either leaving this tribunal or having to face charges for meddling in mundane affairs or even risk unbalancing the mundane powers of this region and bring on war. Polycarpus pause, draws for breath and then look embarrassed. I am sorry my soldaes I did not meant to go on like that. But I think that we should be cautious. I say that we welcome or new soldaes, get some rest and look into mundane matters and strange ruins in the morning.

Caput thinks over what Polycarpus says, then responds.

"Were it just the prince choosing to expand his mundane naval power, that would be one matter, and I would tend to agree with you that we should leave it alone or adjust our own activities. What makes it the business of the Order is that they are gaining magical assistance from court magi.

"While I am no deep scholar of the peripheral code, as a rule, nonhermetic magi aren't allowed inside the regions claimed by Hermetic tribunals at all, and especially not magi who are violating hermetic law by being servants to mundane forces. It is of course our business and not that of another covenant, because their activities are interfering with us. That is how I see it anyway, but if someone with a deeper understanding of the peripheral code and Thebes tribunal rulings knows better, I beg to be enlightened.

"The way I see it, they should be offered the chance to join, but if they refuse, well, the Code is quite clear on what happens next.

"That confrontation should be handled carefully, and I am willing to defer until my soldales are ready to pursue it. I already have an agent in place to keep track of ordinary news/gossip and anything relevant a resident of the city would know. If somebody here is good at remote sensing, I can arrange dead drops and we can have nearly real-time information. If nobody is good at remote sensing or instant travel then I'll need to arrange for messages to be sent by our trading factors, and that will usually mean the news is weeks old."

Polycarpus: Soldaes… What do you know of these hedge magi’s powers? Just to be sure that we don’t go after an experimental philosopher and his son. After all experimental philosophy can seem like magic to the mundane eye.

The young Tremere maga frowns as the full implications of the hedge magi are discussed; she turns slightly in her seat to address Polycarpus. "You are, of course, correct in not wanting to violate the Code in regards to mundane interference, and not just because the Quaesitors disapprove; any misstep could have disastrous results, not just for us but for all magi in the tribunal. And you're right, for all we know they may not possess the Gift at all. Yet if they are unaffiliated practitioners of the Art, especially in the service of a duke, they put us all at potential risk. Most assuredly we must move cautiously and gather as much intelligence as we can on these so-called hedge magi before taking any sort of direct action; thankfully as they are not of the Order, we can scry on them with impunity."

Amphora then addressed the entire group; her demeanor becomes more animated, and her conjured voice is tinged with excitement. "I already have interest in developing such spells, and would be more than willing to work in this direction in my lab, once I've set it up; it will take me some time, but knowing such researches would aid my sodales would certainly inspire my efforts!" She pulls out a scrap of dark leather and begins to eagerly scrape notes into it with a small sharp knife. "I can also seek aid from my House, as can Atlas if so chooses, in the form of certain agents and services; I can make inquiries and see what resources are available."

Atlas takes in the discussion of the council regarding suspected hedge mages in service to a duke.
Until the hedge magi make themselves known more generally to mundanes, they will be our problem. The Order relies upon us, covenants and Magus of the Order to represent it's interests. Ultimately, it is our problem, and running off to Quaesitors to resolve the situation. Is it a mistake? Perhaps only time will tell, but it generally ensures that capable Magus represent the Order. Do we understand what they are doing, or what they actually seek? I cannot fathom entering into the service of a Duke unless I was gaining some great resource.

Regarding each Magus in turn, Atlas then speaks, I pledge myself to the service of this covenant, and will take formal oath at the time of the Council's choosing. For now, we should be about securing our physical demesne. Take care of the infernal house on our premise and I'd like to have a better understanding of the hedge magi. Surely they have interactions with merchants, especially those of mystical reagents or lab equipment. Caput's agents are probably best capable of running down the hedge magi interactions with mundanes. And of course, if anyone can scry on them, all the better. My skills are not covert. Should I need to take down the castle about them, that would prove no serious challenge.

"We learned of the hedge mages by listening in the streets and common gossip. That is fairly known that he has the mages. Those mages have cat familiars. Familiars as intelligent as our familiars since they understood and spoke to HUMAN concepts. Most cats only care about sun, sleep, food and getting their itches scratched. Mating at times. Play is linked to food and hunting. This is very much advanced magic or hermetic." Thus speaks Kalliste who is feline in two of her forms. "The order has long allowed mundane spying in and involvement with mundanes that we need to establish agents among the Duke's men and learn his plans and then perhaps subtlely influence him."

Polycarpus: It is my impression that the council have decided that we allow our new members into the covenant, we keep the duke under mundane surveillance and that we in due time might use magical resources to find out what this duke is up to and what magical resources he has access to. Now regarding the strange ruins we have found. Perhaps we shall walk there in the morning and take a look at the strange phenomena.

The young Tremere nods. "I will be happy to visit this sinister site, along with my shield grog; will all of the magi be going, or only some of us?" Amphora then inclines her head in the Tytalus' direction. "Sister Kaliste, it sounds like there might be much to interest you; will you be joining us?"

Caput responds to the offer to investigate the ruin

"I'm willing to join, and serve as a defender for someone in the party who is not physically inclined and who doesn't care to risk one of his servants. For myself, I tend to use my troops in the Dominion and on the high seas, and rely on myself in various supernatural auras, as protecting them from magical influences is a distraction for me that I have found awkward in the past, and explaining the sights they see in terms they can understand is even more tedious.

I suspect this would be a much better use of my time than getting in the way of my followers as they set up my sanctum to a state that is livable."

I am prepared. I will only bring myself, as my man servant is ill-prepared for combat mundane or magical.

Polycarpus and the magi eat, drink and have a merry time the next morning the magi returns to the house ruin with some supplies to be able to remain there for the rest of the day. The site still gives of the sinister aura and it looks as before.

When Polycarpus and I explored the ruin last, we both got headaches. I'm going to proceed to the ruin and try and establish where thait point happens. If any of you has Vim expertise, you might be able to do so without my rudimentary physical test.
If no one offers that they're going to work magic, I'll proceed with the test and notify my sodales of the result.

"How long is this going to take?" Nestor asks. "I can spare only three more days this season without compromising my teaching? After all I don't want to make a mistake opening her arts"

ooc: Is this a new season?

Atlas, at his normal size, looks on Nestor a bit coolly and says Brother, who is to say? We might step through into a regio and be unable to make it out in time, or we might determine that we need to go back to our labs for a bit and develop some deeper understanding of the ruin or broaden our Arts to better handle this ruin. My understanding is that this covenant gives great personal freedom to the individual members. I have no problem if you're attending to other matters you consider more important. If you have Vim knowlede, it could prove useful, if you don't, let's be about the task at hand, whatever that might be for the individual in question.
I'm trying to concentrate and feel the first inklings of a headache. Someone with good knowledge of Vim, or perphaps the infernal might be better suited to the task, or could assist me. Or if, knowing the perimeter of the aura isn't important, we could do something else.
A bit later, Brother, I am sorry, I know the full moon approaches, and I get irritable as it approaches.

It is the same season. Make the investigations that you want and I just advance the story or if you all decide to walk home. After all this entire site has not turned into a source of demonic infestation...

The first day of the new season, Nestor assembles the grogs at dawn.

After giving a few last moment instructions to his followers on setting up his sanctum and their living quarters, Caput strolls over next to Nestor. He's in a fine hauberk of Italian-style mail, wearing an ornately carved and decorated buckler on his left wrist and a long, straight blade is rests on his right hip.

He looks bright and cheerful in spite of the early hour. "Time to sort out that infernal location? Did your Apprentice pass her tests for the season?"