Chapter 7: The return to Ungulus (End of Autumn 1013)

You find Ungulus much as you left her, except for a thin sheet of snow covering the fields and the moors. Caelha greets you eagerly. She is not as well-composed as you remember her, but still formal and polite.

«Welcome back, sodales. How was your journey? I did not expect you to stay away for so long, although Chronos told me that you had gone East before returning. Did you learn anything more since you left him?»

Please roll Folk Ken+Per 6+ to notice that she is nervous and less confident than before. 12+ may learn more.

Still speaking to Caelha at the foot of the stairs, Chronos arrives at the door, raising his hand in tacit greeting.


Janus rolls 10 for Folk Ken + Per “What is troubling you apprentice?” he asks

Caelha hesitates before she answers. She draws a deep breath, and says, «these are difficult times. I am still waiting for instructions from Blackthorn, and when I have not heard from them yet, I guess I won't until lambing season. I just hope they have not run into trouble with the enemies. You are welcome to stay of course. We are mostly set for Winter now, and speaking of which, lets go inside. No point in suffering the cold, and I am sure you are tired from the journey too.»

On the way to the hall, Caelha instructs the stewardess to prepare supper for the now larger group. Chronos also joins you to sit down in the hall on the second floor.

Nauvi strides in, glad to be back in a place of safety. "We had a long journey north, where we discovered what we needed to. We also journeyed to the east coast of Northumberland to investigate some islands, I kept our party safe while the other magi investigated a regio. They discovered vis, but decided it was not worth settling immediately and it would be safer to return here. I for one am glad to be back here."

(OOC: Nauvi got 11 on Folk Ken + Per, 12 if detecting lies is involved.)

Nauvi is confident she is truthful; she is just guarded.

“I intend to settle at this covenant apprentice. Please fetch the covenant charter and compile a list of vis sites, covenfolk and any other resources available.” States Janus as abruptly as is his regular tone.

Caelha's face turns grey, and she looks down for a moment before she answers. «We shall look into that tomorrow, in daylight. Let's spend the rest of today's light for supper. It is not the time for rash decisions. Blackthorn will send word from Tacitus' heirs as soon as they are able.» She tries to smile politely, but her heart is not in it.¹

¹ Described as seen by those who rolled Folk Ken 9+.

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“Tomorrow will do for the information but there is nothing rash about my decision. I intend to take the fight to the Diedne enemy, which aligns with the purpose of this covenant I believe. As such this place makes a suitable base to persecute this war. Are you suggesting that Blackthorn have a say in who settles here?” Asks Janus

Thom, tired from the journey, leans against the wall not far from Janus.

"Heirs? What heirs? I'm no scholar of Order law but isn't Chronos the last living member of the covenant? He could invite any of us who wish it to join the covenant. Or if he doesn't want that responsibility, he could cede responsibility and rights to magi who want to assume Ungulus's responsibilities. Chronos, what say you about the matter?"

Chronos looks at Caelha, and when she does not immediately answer, he does. «As I told you before, I was never a member of the covenant, even if I resided here for some time. As far as we know, Tessa is the last living member. What Caelha is referring to is that Tacitus' share here may belong to his heirs. I am sure he has made a testament, and if Caelha does not have it here, it must be with his superiors within his house, and that's what Caelha is waiting for.»

He pauses for a bit, to see if everybody follows. Caelha nods without speaking, and Chronos continues. «As long as we are at war, we owe it to each other and all our sodales, to take care of the resources as best we can until Order can be restored. I hope that is what you try to do, magus Janus. I know that that's what miss Caelha does, as was her assignment.»

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"A fair share for Tessa seems only reasonable and the belongings of Tacitus and Frederick should go to whoever they have willed it to be. However ongoing share of resources is for residence, which I for one intend to be, not for other magi, unless they become residents themselves. We are not brigands to loot the possessions of those who died with honour persecuting the war against the Diedne enemy." replies Janus


«This covenant has always distinguished between members and residents, of which we have had many. Most have been in transient residency. Chronos has remained longer than most. I cannot remember the wording of the charter; we can read that tomorrow,» says Caelha. «More wine, Janus?»

The stewardess refills the glasses, and soon supper is served. The meal is a hearty one, but not haute cuisine. The wine is strong, and better than average, but the unprecedented legal situations seem to make people nervous and relations tense.

The next day, Caelha finds the charter in the library. It is a thick and heavy roll, of many pages rolled together. I am not going to quote it in full. Just the introduction describing the need for a covenant in this locale and the menace from Loch Leglean, and the need to stick together in mutual trust, and so on, continues for more than a page. And the page is longer than that of a large book. This introduction is dated 1003 AD.

It takes the better part of the day for one person to read it all, and there are no headers to allow you quickly to find what you see. The illumination helps a little, but only a little, for this illuminator was not the best one at their trade.

Following the introduction is a page with the original charter of 984, signed by Frederic and two other Flambeaux¹. This is now marked as annulled and superseded, but tells that the original three members were tightly bound in a «one for all, all for one» pact with little need to put their agreements in writing. They governed the covenant based on unanimous decision and joint interest.

¹ OoH Lore 12+ to recognise one name and 15+ for both, but given the state of the war, they are probably long dead.

The new charter, which continues after the single older page, establishes certain principles.

  • The covenant is a staging post for the Order as a whole.
  • Any magus serving the War against the uprising has a right to residency for as long as it serves the War effort.
  • The covenant should always have three and only three members, who has to be willing, senior magi with martial merits.
  • The council of members makes all decisions in the covenant.
  • If the entire council is absent, a constable is appointed to rule in their stead.
  • New members are appointed by the sitting council, by unanimous decisions.
  • Resources are allocated by the council (or the constable) based on what the War requires.

On the last page, you find the names and signatures of the members, and you find that a dozen members have joined and been slain over the decade that has passed. Tacitus took up residence in 1005, and membership in 1011. Tessa joined as a member in 1010. Residents are only mentioned if they subsequently were elected members.

Peace-minded readers, but probably not Janus, will notice that the charter makes absolutely no provisions for peace-time existence.

A list of vis sources is included, with an introductory note that they belong to the council, and are recorded, not to depend on any one individual. There are three secure sources nearby, which Caelha has harvested in the last year, for 4p Vim, 4p Auram, and 4p Aquam. There are some less reliable vis sources; Caelha has harvested 2p Creo, but regretfully was not able to get to the 5p Corpus source in time last Summer. There are a 2p Mentem source and a 3p Herbam source, which are far away, and she could not spare the men to collect them.

Two or three sources have been crossed out as depleted. One was overharvested in 1010, and one seems to have collapsed in a magical mishap.

(I hope that's enough detail from the charter.)

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I should add one feature which I forgot. With the new charter of 1003, one of the original Flambeaux is apparently deceased, and a Tremere (who subsequently fell) took their place. The covenant is very grateful to House Tremere for the fresh funding provided to make a durable stronghold at this time, and it uses far too many words to express the gratitude.

Except for the single older page from 984, the charter is annoyingly verbose, and details are easily missed.

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Addressing Caelha "So apprentice, by my reading of the charter the constable is currently the sitting council. Two member places are available to willing martial magi. As such I apply for membership as such a magi. I believe I am one of, if not the, senior Flambau in this tribunal and my aims are the destruction of the Diedne Enemy. How say you?"

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"I would also apply for membership," says Thadeus less forcefully than Janus. "I came back from the continent to join the fight. I may not be as senior as my sodalis, but neither am I just Gauntleted. And I believe I have proved my worth in the last few months."

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«Euh?» says Caelha with surprise. Chronos shakes his head, and Caelha tries to explain. «The council is the council. The constable rules in lieu of the council, when it is absent, as is the case now. Myself was appointed constable when the council left more than fifteen months ago. I was entrusted with all powers, except that to appoint new members. That power belongs to Tessa alone, as the only surviving member.» Caelha pauses, and sighs, before she turns to Chronos. «Do you know what happens if Tessa does not return?»

Chronos does not know, and they conclude that the situation is indeed unprecedented. This is the first Schism War ever, after all.

It may seem odd that an apprentice is left in charge to rule an entire covenant on behalf of the magi, but on the first reading of the charter, you did not see anything to forbid that. Furthermore, unless you have been brought up by an unusually distrustful parens, you will know that apprentices are often left in charge to protect their parens' affairs for a season.

Neither Chronos nor Caelha speaks for while.

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“This covenant needs magi to protect it and to develop it to ever greater strength. We offer to take on that responsibility and such commitment comes with a level of control and decision making. If you deny this request we will settle elsewhere and you will remain isolated and vulnerable to attack from the enemy. As much as you may wish it an apprentice and a Redcap, along with a group of non-combatant Covenfolk can not hope to defend this place from even one martial magi. Caelha, surely the intent of your appointment was to preserve this place as a staging point for the war. You can fulfill that duty in no better way than allowing powerful magi to join and manage the covenant.” States Janus

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«You speak truth. We very much would want you to stay, but we are not entitled to make any permanent arrangements as long as Tessa's fate is unknown. If ... euh ... when she returns, it would much surprise me if new members are not drawn from your numbers.»

Chronos nods, and Caelha looks over the rest of the group. «Maybe we should hear from each of you, how you read the situation in front of you, and maybe how you see your own part too.»

“For myself, having an apprentice decide my allocation of resources is an insult I will not suffer. If membership and thus control are not on offer then I will seek a home elsewhere” replies Janus.

Nauvi nods to Chronos and says "My priority is a safe place for my boy to grow up, and I'd like a place to research spells. Does the charter spell out what the rights and responsibilities of a resident are? I'm willing to settle for residency if my child will be safe.
Are there any guest laboratories, or space to create one? Before long I will need a longevity ritual, and many of you have brought spell texts we can study."