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

«She was always preparing for the next campaign, whether that involved enchanting charged items, studying lores in the library, or having her clothes and weapons mended,» says Caelha. «I do not think she had any favourite activity not directly serving her campaigning,»

The wand and the three trophees are invested devices, but have probably not been used in the lab. Among the lab equipment there is also a set of five enchanted decanters.

Assuming Thadeus shares his finding, Cath'rinne will ask if we have any idea which one of those enchanted devices Tessa might have enchanted herself.

There is no obvious clue to doubt Caelha's words about trophees, taken from enemies defeated. The decanters seem to be objects she used, but they also look old, easily too old for an arcane connection to the maker. If Tessa had been a lab rat, they would probably have been an arcane connection to her, but the word is that she was not. The wand is a little mystery, though. It is not on display like the trophees, yet kept separate from the lab equipment, and she did not take it with her.

(withdrawing while I think)

(Are there any indoor-type footwear anywhere in the sanctum? One tends to wear something more comfortable than boots when reading or studying, and you don't bring those along with you while campaigning. And you seldom wash slipers, so they may have formed a connection with her over the years.)

Thadeus looks more closely at the wand. (Comprehend Magic roll of 22)

Thom smiles in the fading light, sitting there on the milking stool, content to finally be at rest. It doesn't take too long before he begins to doze with his back against the cow shed wall.

The faerie is gone. At the last twilight, a maid enters to milk the cows. She does not see Thom at first, though.

There are several pairs of boots and shoes in the wardrobe, of different states of repair. One is a pair of almost worn-out boots, for campaigning. Others are soft shoes which have probably been used both indoors and outdoors.

The wand seems to be an Hermetic device of seventh magnitude, give or take one. It is made of cypress tree lined with ornaments in silver, spelling out the names Tessa and Gabhann. There seems to be several powers, and Thadeus is not sure if he can see all the forms involved, but Mentem and Imaginem are there.

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Cath'rinne will rest to recover some fatigue. She has some hesitation to analyze the wand, but seeing the name, she decides to try. She will ceremonially cast using the wand. The result is a 53(!), which allows for InCo 25 for 1 fatigue, 30 for 2. So base 10, +4 Arc. Cath'rinne wants all the relevant information to identify a dead body that this object would be linked to and the cause of death - what it looked like in life, etc. She casts without penetration, so as not to breach the code.

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Thom rises, smiles his charming (Pre 3 & Curse of Venus) smile at the milkmaid and heads back toward the tower, taking his time before heading in to see if anyone is hanging about the Council Chamber.

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Cath'rinne sees an aging man, with long white beard and hair, and a very charming smile.

Thom sees the maid startled, then smile and blush, as he escapes through the door. «Euh, oh, master.» she stutters, but he has already turned his back.

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Hamish pokes his head into the space where Cath'rinne has been casting spells.

"Everything going like you want, milady? Folks seem a little tense around here. Was thinkin' we might want to plan a little shindig at the change of the season. Maybe when in connection with you and yours setting up the shield on this place. Someone said it ain't got one and that can't be a good thing."

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Janus pulls on his heavy cloak and leaves the tower growling to himself “This is becoming intolerable”. He spends the rest of the daylight exploring the ground around the tower with a view to the defensibility from a view of both mundane and magical attack.

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Cath'rinne will put the wand back where it was, disappointed. "The only place we haven't looked is that locked chest with her sigil over there, and I'm unsure if we should."

She looks back at Hamish. "What are you talking about?"

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Hamish shrugs.

“Which part? I’m talking about the way you Magi protect a place like this with one of your big rituals I don’t know that that’s been done here hasn’t? Back where are used to live they did it every year on the winter solstice.“

He pauses for a moment.

“ The other part I’m thinking about it is how tired everyone is. We’ve been going for months without much of a break. So it seems like we might do something to bring everybody together to celebrate that we’re alive even in the darkest time of the year just an idea.”

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It is getting dark, and Cath'rinne can just as well sleep on it, and consider the sanctum marked chest in the morning. At breakfast, Chronos asks what she has found. Caelha listens in silence.

«OK. So we still do not know anything of Tessa's fate. Do you want to open the chest too, before we reconvene and discuss the future?»

Turning to Thadeus, he says, «we should ...» He stresses the «we» and waves his hand around the table to indicate, that he means all the sodales, even if his eyes focus on Thadeus, «... meet again to discuss the Winter. I hope we can find a way to stay amicably together. It is in nobody's interest to leave in the cold season. You made a good point yesterday, Thadeus, that Caelha could not possibly stay here alone for ever. If nobody comes from Blackthorn in the Spring, and Tessa also does not return, I think she will have to go to them, entrusting Ungulus in your care. In the meantime, we should find a way to live together.»

He pauses, and looks around, «let's discuss it formally upstairs, when we have eaten, and give you time to complete you investigations, if there is anything.» He turns to Cath'rinne, «such as the chest!?»

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Nauvi looks around and says "This is a well-known site. If the Tribunal still functions at all, a redcap will turn up to let us know if there is any news and when the next Tribunal gathering is happening. We can take over, create our own agreement for how things are going to work out and wait to see if anyone else turns up. If Tessa never shows up, we can tell the Tribunal we took over the covenant to protect the resources and instituted a modified charter."
His eyes flicker around the room and he continues "I understand from the last I heard from my Tytalan colleagues in Normandy that they were in a race with the Flambeau and Tremere to occupy sites of power. I do hope we can be more civilised about it in Stonehenge."

‘I will not invest my time in a covenant that I have no authority in. We are expected to wait on the arrival of someone from Blackthorn to decide if we are ALLOWED TO BE MEMBERS, NO. They may wish to claim this places resources but I will have no part of it. I will take my share of the vis we have found and be on my way. You can remain under the authority of an apprentice if you can stomach such a shame but I will not” states Janus angrily.

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Thom looks over at Janus and nods, the young Merinita earnest as he speaks, determined and somewhat anxious about speaking up in this group of magi he respects.

"I don't see how Blackthorn has a greater claim on Ungulus than we do," says Thom.

"As I understand it, an heir has a claim only on the personal goods and possessions that can be ascribed to a magus if they were appointed as the heir. That's under the best of conditions, and we certainly aren't in the best of circumstances. We are still in a time of war. Hopefully at its end, but still at war."

Thom shakes his head.

"My mind is with Master Janus. It makes no sense to wait here and put ourselves under the thumb of Blackthorn or under the authority of an apprenctice, no offense Caelha."

"By my understanding of the charter, Ungulus is a war outpost. And now Ungulus is a casualty of war. It's council magi dead or lost, gone for five or more seasons now. It's covenant and charter are defunct. It's resources lie unprotected. The war front it protected is exposed. It's covenfolk at the mercy of Diedne should they come here. We are what stands to defend this place of power and defense."

"Sodales, we shouldn't wait or hesitate. We should establish a new covenant here. Now. This very night! It is our responsibility to the Order to bring peace and an end to this war and to rebuild the tatters of this tribunal."

"I know I am the least of the magi here, but as a gauntleted magus, I call for a vote? Who here is against taking over Ungulus now?"

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Thadeus listens intently to what Chronos, Nauvi, Janus and Thom say.

When it is his turn to speak, he does so in a reasonable tone. "First, let me say that no one should have to leave as winter approaches. I believe we can cohabit in peace here, for our war is not with each other."

"That does not mean we should lay for a season without making decisions. Ungulus is still vulnerable to attack. We may have not faced any Diedne directly in the last season, that does not mean some of them aren't licking their wounds and preparing for their next attack. I am not ready to believe that they are all gone and that the war is over."

"Now, as for the state of the covenant." He takes a deep breath before continuing, "Of the three members of the covenant, two are confirmed dead and the third has been absent for a year. Caelha, you have been left in charge as constable. That is what we know."

Another short pause.

"We could leave things are they are, and wait for Tessa to return," he raises his hands to forestall protests, "but I believe that in doing so we would be derelict in our duties to the Order. Ungulus is important in the fight against the Diedne. Its magical defenses must be reestablished and reinforced, its vis sources must be harvested, its turb of grogs restored and trained. That is not the duty of mere residents. That is the responsibility of its members."

"In my opinion, those of us who are willing to take this responsibility will become de facto the new members of Ungulus. As we have stated earlier, Janus and I are willing to do so. Anyone else?"

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"That sounds like three votes in favor of the proposal," says Thom.

"Do we have any against?"