Chapter 4: The Routine of Magi

The days of summer are now past and the colors of autumn take over. After the latest tidbits of information regarding the legendary purple sheep, the magi of Nimbosa Myrice reutrn to their routine tasks and studies.

Ludovicus spends the season harvesting the vis from the bog, using his waiting time to improve his command of Low German. Meanwhile, the other magi are studying the books from the small library. Winter passes much the same way, with Renatus Ibis taking over from his sodalis to harvest the source while the Italian magus picks up where he left reading the Rego summa.

This soon causes a situation, as Konrad comes to see his fellow Bonisagus, "I was planning on studying from the same summa this season, sodalis, but I see that you are using it. I can settle for a different subject for now, but would it be possible for me to have it for next season?"

(OOC: You can apply to results of fall 1208 to your characters' stats. The Intellego primer is a L6Q13 summa.)

"Yes, of course. I'm happy to relinquish it then, and appreciate that you are willing to allow me to keep studying from it for this coming season. I believe I will have learned enough from it by the end of this season to try something that will make harvesting our local vis source more efficient. I'll be anxious to try it out. Maybe I can switch duties with Master Renatus; I think it's his turn then. You see, I've been blessed with some ability to alter formulaic spells when I cast them - not to the extent afforded by spontaneous casting, though. Just a slight adjustment to its range or target or duration. After this season of Rego study, I believe I will be able to adjust our vis collection spell, which is currently voice-ranged, to be sight-ranged, with sufficient reproducibility. More seasons of study would make it easier, of course. But I could still give it a go. Then, harvesting should be a simple matter of sitting atop the tower and keeping a look-out for the flares and when I spot a flare, I can cast the sight-range version of the collection spell and then zack boom, as the Germans say, the vis is captured! No more slogging around in the bog! What do you think? Will it work? If it does, then at some point I'll invent a sight range version for all of us to learn."

((FYI, Ludovicus identifies himself as Norse-Gaelic, having been born on the Isle of Lewis and that being his mother language. He has little fondness for Italy and Italians, associating the place and its people with a dark time in his life. Machmalius is Italian too.))

(OOC: Sorry about labelling Ludovicus as Italian. I was only remembering that he travelled from Rome to reach Fengheld. My mistake!)

"I've had little experience with your vis source, sodalis, but in theory it should certainly help. What of the fog, though? I've noticed that the weather is very similar to that experienced in some parts of England. Wouldn't that interfere with your line of sight? Would it still be possible to target the vis itself from the diffuse light of the flare from that far away?"

(The answer is that using a Sight-ranged spell will help, since it will increase the reaction speed to collect the vis, thus reslting in a better yield. But the more distant exhalations of vis will still be out of range if the weather is foggy -- which is very often -- or at night when the light only gives you a general idea of where the eruption is occuring. Still, being able to extend the range will make harvest a bit less intrusive into Ludovicus' seasons, much like Renatus Ibis' ability to fly does. In short, it cuts down the efforts needed to harvest the vis from about 40 days per season to 30 days per season. Learning a spells that allows him unhindered sight day and night would cut that down further.)

((No problem. 8) ))

"Yes, I suppose that the frequent fog would be an issue. I could maybe try a spell to render my eyesight unaffected by it. Maybe I'll start studying Auram next season, while you are studying from the Rego summa. Do we even have an Auram text? I'll go and check. Please excuse me." He walks off toward the "library" to check, and doesn't find anything on Auram, of course. "Hmm," he thinks to himself. "Maybe an Intellego Vim spell to detect vis at range sight would suffice." ((Ludovicus will study from the Vim summa while Konrad is reading Rego))

The next time he sees Renatus Jerbiton, Ludovicus asks, ""Master Renatus, is there any record of the number of vis flares that are spotted each season? I'm curious about whether their frequency is changing at all. Regardless if anyone has recorded this or not, I will begin doing so during the seasons that I am collecting from the bog. I'd ask the rest of us to do the same, if it's not a terrible inconvenience. It would be good to have a sense of whether or not our source is decaying. I was thinking to track flares, as opposed to vis collected, because the latter can vary based on collector-specific aspects or the season. I'm sure I wasn't as efficient when I collected vis in the cold of Winter, compared to my yield in other seasons."

(There is indeed no Auram book in the chapter house's library at the moment. One could be requested from the main library in Fengheld if you need one.)

Renatus shrugs, "You mentioned something like that when we first arrived, I believe. I think we tried to keep a record of when and where the flares occured, but we often forgot to do so, particularly at night. We probably have a few sheets of parchment in the library where we noted some of the earlier flares. We lost the habit after a while, I'm afraid. Do you really feel that is important?"

"For my own purposes, yes. But those purposes are insignificant at the moment, within the greater cosmos of purposes at the chapter house, so I will not insist on any infringement of anyone else's time. I will keep a record when I am on collection duty, and that should provide some indication of what I wish to track, from year-to-year. On another topic, is there some way to commission an enchanted device from Fengheld? The device I am considering, which I will not be in a position to enchant myself for quite some time, will be used on behalf of the chapter house to collect the bog emission vis. So it's not solely for my own use. Maybe I could present my idea to both you and Renatus Ibis, to see what you both think? If you deem it worth pursuing, we could perhaps collaborate on acquiring the means by which to fund the project."

"It isn't so much that it is an infringement on our time, but rather that we just forget. At least," Renatus shakes his head self-deprecatingly, "I did. I took some notes in the beginning, after you'd asked, but coming back to the task after six months doing other things, I kind of forgot."

"If you have ideas about enchanted items that could help us with the duty, then I certainly would like to hear them. I'm sure Renatus will be too. We may have to decide what to do on that, but I doubt that the covenant will see it as much of a priority. I can probably justify a small investment of vis for us to enchant the item, but if the goal is to commission to item for someone else to make... Well, that is more costly in vis for the covenant, while our time isn't costing it anything more. And, after all, it will be our time as well that will be saved by this item."

(We can assume that Renatus Ibis joins the conversation on this topic, some time later.)

((What fraction of all vis flares that are spotted in a season are successfully collected? Does Ludovicus have a sense of what this fraction is?))

(From his own experience, only about half of the flares can be collected. That is not to say that this represents only half of the raw vis, since a shorter flare, which is harder to get to in time, may not contain a whole pawn.)

((And is the bog so large that not all flares can be seen from the island on which the chapter house is built?))

(The bog isn't very large, about 2 miles in diameter, but depending on the conditions you suspect that some of the flares may pass off unnoticed. During the day, when the fog is thick, it is easy to miss the more distant flares.)

"Well, we might be able to make the argument that it's not simply a re-allocation of our comparatively worthless time - I believe there will be an appreciable increase in the efficiency of our harvesting with the enchanted device I have in mind. That increase could be on the order of 20 to 50 additional pawns for every 100 pawns we currently collect. So, depending on the expense of having the device created, the investment might pay for itself in a reasonable number of years."

((How many pawns have we been collecting each season?))

When Renatus Ibis has arrived, Ludovicus launches into his idea with enthusiasm: "Sodales, the device I have in mind that I believe will facilitate our vis harvesting efforts, is enchanted with four effects. The first is an Intellego Imaginem effect, to give it the sense of sight. The second is an Intellego Auram effect, to allow it to see through the fog that so often plagues us. The third is an Intellego Vim effect that would allow it to detect vis at sight range. And the fourth is a sight-ranged version of the spell we currently use to collect the flares, and would have a linked trigger to the third effect. The first three effects would have environmental triggers, sun duration and two uses per day. The fourth would have enough uses to cover the highest daily frequency of flare emissions we have observed. We would mount this device as high as practical, and perhaps be able to cover the entire bog. As long as we kept the already-collected vis out of sight from the device, then it should not collect the same vis repeatedly. What do you think?"

(Seasons have varied, but the harvests have been from 4 to 8 pawns of vis, depending on the weather conditions.)

"It could probably work, have you calculated the amount of vis required ? We should try and measure as you suggested the numbers of years it would take to pay for the enchantement, we might be able to convince them to provide at least the virtus but I doubt it. Even if they don't provide it, maybe we should try to make this item ourselves, if it can save us 1 season of work every 3 seasons that' invaluable...

"So, if I understand your proposal," says the older Renatus, "this device would collect any raw vis it detects all by itself?" He shakes his head, puzzled, "I must admit that is the first time I have heard of such an idea. It seems very strange to think that an enchanted item could perform this function, again and again, without any human supervision. Wouldn't it be risky?"

"Yes!!! Wouldn't it be wonderfu-"

"Oh. Maybe? Or wait, risky how? I guess it might snatch vis from someone carrying it around in plain sight. We could make the item more discerning by using an Intellego Ignem effect to detect the flares specifically. But wait, then it would try to harvest vis from our candle flames, potentially. Hmmm. I think you might be right. I will put more thought into this issue. An alternate solution that comes to mind quickly could be to arm a grog with two separate devices, one that lets them see through fog, the other that they could trigger when they see a flare to collect the vis at sight range. That would remove the Intellego Imaginem and I think the Intellego Vim effects, and make the enchantment cheaper. With those two effects included, I estimate 16 pawns for opening and instilling. Without those effects, I estimate 10 or 11 pawns. So if we collect half-as-much additional vis per season - roughly 3 pawns - it would only take 5 or 6 seasons to repay the enchantment cost of the automated device, and 4 seasons or so for the grog-operated devices. As an optimistic estimate. And without accounting for any commission."

"It might also make those items more useful for other tasks, should the need arise," says Renatus.

"Very well, then," he sighs heavily, "if you can put together a precise proposal of the item or items that we wish to be enchanted, I will bring it up at the next Fengheld Council meeting to see if we can convince our covenant to spend the vis for this purpose. Ideally by commissioning the items to a Verditius magus, but I find it more likely that we will be provided the vis to perform the enchantments ourselves."

"Excellent, I will hand off my calculations before the end of the day."

Ludovicus seeks out Renatus Jerbiton a few hours later.

"I have the results." He hands Renatus a sheet with the following written, below several lines of scratched-out text:

Vis capture device:
Rego Vim, fifth magnitude effect for sight range collection of vis, with twenty-four uses each day. Final effect: sixth magnitude. Requires three pawns of Vim vis for opening the device and three pawns of Rego or Vim vis for instilling the effect.
((ReVi lvl 25 (base 10, +3 Sight), +5 for 24 uses/day = Level 30))

Fog-seeing-through device:
Intellego Auram, third magnitude effect for visibility through fog and other obfuscations of the air, with two uses each day and an environmental trigger (sunrise and sunset). Final effect: approximately fourth magnitude. Requires two pawns of Vim vis for opening the device and two pawns of Intellego or Auram vis for instilling the effect.
((InAu lvl 15 (True Sight of the Air), +3 Env Trig, +1 for 2 uses/day = Level 19))

"For the actual objects to be enchanted, there are some options. If we had either a ring, or preferably a helmet, embedded with clear glass, or agate, these would all be good receptacles for the Intellego Auram effect. The vis collection effect could be enchanted in a glove or a wand or staff. That said, I'm afraid both effects are beyond my capabilities for the near future. It's my top priority to get there though, at least for the vis collection effect. Maybe either you or Renatus could work toward the other?"

"Wouldn't the Auram effect need to grant the sense to its wielder?" asks Renatus after pondering the paramters for a while.

"I'm afraid I have only basic knowledge of Intellego and no talent at all in Auram," admits Renatus with a shrug. "It would probably take me several years of study before I could enchant this effect in a lesser item. Even as a power in a fully enchanted item, it would take me several seasons to enchant. Even if I first spent a season learning the spell itself from a lab text."

After some more thought, he adds, "Mistress Dorana might be able to enchant this in a single season, if you were able to convince her to do it. She's really good at Auram."

(OOC: True Sight of the Air is a R:Pe spell. The device would need to increase this to R:Touch, thus an added magnitude. Note that if the items were enchanted as lesser devices, it would save the Vim vis.)

Ludovicus frowns at his oversight. "Ah, my mistake. It would take 3 pawns of Vim and 3 of Intellego or Auram then, for that device."

"I will write and ask her if she willing to assist. If she is, and could enchant it as a lesser device, then we could save the Vim vis for opening that device. I am disinclined to propose the vis collection to be a lesser device, particularly if it's up to me to enchant it. My current laboratory and knowledge of the Arts and Magic Theory places my enchanting ability at just above half of what is required. It will be years, decades probably, before I could enchant a Rego Vim effect of sixth magnitude in a single season. Is there anyone else at Fengheld who would be able to do so? Someone else with whom I can place myself in debt, for their help?"
((Ludovicus' current ReVi lab total is only 34 (with the Aura of 2 and with +4 for similar spell included).))