Gregorius will share the gist of the information he gains from the letters from Hadrianus and Boustaphan with the covenant.
"It sounds as though Tasia isn't returning, at least any time soon. However, she hasn't formally resigned from the covenant. How do you think we should proceed - should we rule her to no longer be a member? Create a new position of absentee member?"
He'll give the casting tablet to Viola. "Boustaphan offered to lend us a lab text to learn the spell, at any reasonable magnitude. We have our own lab text at the fifth magnitude - is it worth requesting something higher? We have a reasonable stock of vim, for now, so could afford the drain on our coffers for a while without having to start extracting from the aura."
[OOC: I think Viola's relevant lab total is actually ReVi, at Int 4 + Re 9 + Vi 5 + MT 8 + Aura 5 + 8 Familiar = 39? Although there's the issue that she needs to be able to cast the spell as well - her total there is Sta 2 + Re 9 + Vi 5 + AL 3 + Ph 2 + Aura 6 + stress die = 27. She can't be more than 10 levels under the spell level for the ritual to work, so she should be able to make a level 35 spell fairly comfortably, but might need to expend a confidence point for a level 40 one.]
Gregorius nods. "I'll talk to Boustaphan, then. Are you planning to master the ritual? If so, it may be worth then spending a season writing a casting tablet, plus whatever other lab texts would be useful for the library - just in case we have another incident like this."
[Page 90 of Covenants says that characters can create lab texts and/or casting tablets from the same pool of levels.]
Gregorius looks at Viola for a moment, and then says, very evenly, "I'd like to be that leader."
Well, not costless - you have to spend a season writing up lab texts, albeit you can do other lab texts as well at the same time, and you can only do it for spells you've mastered.
"I think I can work well with guest magi and the covenfolk, and I've been working hard to get the covenant up and functioning. I'm already doing a fair amount of the job, so I'd like the title to go with it."
"As to the votes..." Gregorius shrugs. "In Tasia's absence, the only votes are yours and mine, so we'll need to come to an agreement one way or another."
OOC: I'd actually forgotten about that. I will note that we do have a Q11 spell mastery tractatus for Aegis of the Hearth in the library, so she could still master it in a season if she wanted to. Alternatively, that's what, six botch dice?
My memory says it's one per magnitude, which would be eight at level 40, but I can't find the rule? Even subtracting three for the Golden Cord, that's a lot--so yes, taking a season for mastery might well be a good idea, but blowing a third season on this situation, in order to write the casting tablet, is pushing it.
Viola fixes Gregorius with the sort of look reserved for a particularly dull child who requires too many tedious explanations.
Base 1, + 1/pawn of vis (so 8 for a level 40 ritual unless you're a Mercurian or can otherwise reduce vis costs) - 3 Gold Cord = 6. Plus any extra for extra riskiness, which hopefully won't be an issue for the Aegis...
Gregorius doesn't attempt to out "look" Viola, but his voice does get a little sharper.
"I'd like the agreement to be that we both think I should be the leader. Right now, you haven't even stated that you want to be leader, let alone why you think you should be. If you had sufficiently persuasive reasons, I might change my mind and agree with you."
Given the presence of the mastery tractatus, I don't think she needs any more convincing on that score. Spending a season writing a casting tablet is a step too far, though, unless she happens to want to write something else up at some point.
"And if you win, you get mine on the matter?" asks Gregorius. "I can accept those terms. What technique are you choosing?"
Sometime into the subsequent glare from Viola, he adds:
"Alternatively, I might consider an alternative arrangement. Say:
You agree to delegate command in matters relating to the defense of the covenant to me
You agree to vote in favour of appointing Alcimus as the covenant's patron
You agree not to perform or encourage any type of pagan worship at the covenant"
[OOC: I think it's pretty clear at this point that both Viola and Gregorius are trying to get the other to be the one to actually declare the Certamen and Technique. Assuming Viola doesn't go for the other idea Gregorius presents, do you want to keep up the back-and-forth or condense it into a roll to see who blinks first? Probably Com + Intrigue, for which I think Gregorius is at +0 (+ 3 extra botch dice) and Viola is at -1 (but no extra dice)?]
[Though I won't say more, I can assure you that Viola is definitely not trying to provoke Gregorius into declaring Certamen. Maybe he should make a Folk Ken roll, or a Ken of whatever it is that Viola is.]
Viola throws her hands up in the air, turns around, and makes to stalk off. "Discuss...later. It waits."
[OOC: In mine and Gregorius' defenses, you really roleplay the Incomprehensible flaw (which Viola technically doesn't have, I think as it's for teaching rather than day-to-day conversation). I think Viola counts as Folk for this purpose, although it could also be a Per + Intrigue roll (which Gregorius is worse at).
Note: I was having some difficulty getting Coyote Code working properly, which is why there's only a single roll from Anonymous - the two I tried previously as Gregorius with notes and botch dice didn't actually give me any dice results.]
She's got a Com of -2, with "Incomprehensible" as the specialty--which, now that I look at the rules, doesn't seem to exist in ArM5, but nonetheless provides a nifty descriptor (and that's all it did in ArM4, anyway). Besides, the more poorly she talks, the less often people bother her.
At some point, it occurs to Gregorius that Viola has not at any point in the conversation asked to be elected leader of the covenant.
[OOC: he'd already pointed out that much to her. I take it the implication he should be drawing from it is not that Viola thinks it's too obvious to be worth the bother of stating, and that any one who doesn't understand she wants it is an idiot (which is his previous take, given statements like "I personally place little store in the Hermetic tradition of deference to elders, but given our covenant's role, it seems a good idea to make as senior a maga as possible our leader--and Tasia was gauntleted in the same year I was" from her in the past, along with her affront at him making Tasia rather than her the leader), but rather than she doesn't necessarily want the job?
Does he have any idea what she does want? Right now she seems to be picking at the suggestion of him as a leader, without offering alternatives - the closest she's got to doing so is her statement "My vote, yes? How to get it?" after he started talking about Certamen (and also doing things via politics, which he'd already been trying and is incredibly vague); hence why he thought she was trying to get him to challenge her to Certamen. I can't really think of anything she'd want as a deal from him (he's not about to try to bribe her with a few pawns of vis), at least that he'd be willing to give.
On a closely related note: what's the best interpretation of exactly how the leader of the covenant is selected? Is it "candidate with most votes wins" or "candidate with a majority wins"? Not sure if that would be Int+ Code of Hermes or Covenant Lore or what (I'm happy for you to make a roll for me).]
"Very well," says Gregorius, trying to hide his own frustration...and then failing badly. "But Viola, you could have made this conversation a lot clearer and easier for both of us if you'd just bothered to use your slate. I can't tell what you mean if you don't say it!"
Viola finally pulls out the quill/slate in order to answer this: "I know. But I like watching you try."
"I don't care who serves leader of the covenant, as long as you leave me alone. And please, no more silly suggestions about making a familiar the covenant patron--I'd rather not be more of a laughingstock than we already are."