Chapter 9: Back to Jaferiyah

Tacitus and his porters had not made it by nightfall. Their pace slowed considerably as the low visibility made the last leg of their journey much more perilous. Suddenly a blinding light emanated from the top of the plateau. The farmhands pointed upward questioningly. There was no doubt in the mind of the quaesitore. It was magic. Something that flashy could only mean danger. He ordered the two to hasten their pace, lieing that his companions likely lit a bonfire.

Fatigued from multiple spell castings, Tremsilla stood entrenched in their camp, panting heavily. The swarms of vermin had seemed almost endless and she was faltering fast. The thought of her impending doom gnawed at her. "Such an ignoble death" she mused. It was at that moment a thunderclap was heard and hit the ground sending a dozen or so rats flying outward from the point of impact. Tremsilla looked up and saw that clouds were gathering at an unnatural pace. She turned towards the path up the mountain and made our 3 silhouettes rapidly approaching. She sighed in relief. She was unsure if it was Tacitus or not but she was relieved to have any reinforcements.

Tacitus yelled "Quick! To the woman. Take her and the fallen man with you!" The two farmhands were too terrified by the sudden display of power to question the magus and did as they were bid. Tacitus covered their approach with whirling winds dispersing the animals. He too felt some resistance but nothing he could not overcome. He grit his teeth. This was obviously the taint of the infernal. The two farmhands picked up Octavian from the ground, holding him up around the shoulders; his feet dragging along the ground as he moaned softly in weariness. Tremsilla followed as best she could. She felt a throbbing pain around her calf. hs elooked down and found a rat firmly gripping her leg in its teeth. With a shriek she brought down her hands hitting the animal repeatedly until it broke hold. She ran stumbling along as fast as she could.

The farmhand to Octavian's left was not so fortunate and was easily caught by the swarm and dragged down. His screams as he was swallowed by the voracious verminous pack were ghastly. Tremsilla picked up where the fallen commoner had fallen and helped drag the Tremere all the way to Tacitus who quickly relieved her and the group ran down the length of the mountain while the rats were distracted with their current quarry.

Tremsilla could barely keep up and their pace was considerably slowed by having to drag along dead weight. Octavian groaned softly in latin. "... you should have abandoned me..." Tremsilla watched him with mixed emotions.

Tacitus looked down at their companion and brushed off the statement. "You still have the task to kill Metron and Relegare to perform." Tremsilla could not hear the reply over the rain that now began to fall precipitously upon them. They slowed down their pace to catch their breaths but it turned out to be a mistake. They could hear the soft rumble as the swarm had resumed its pursuit. The throbbing in her leg continued to grow with each and every step. She could not continue any longer. Tacitus was also running out of steam.

In Spanish, Octavian muttered to the farmhand holding him upright to his right. "... I would see the face of my saviour..." The farmhand looked down and was caught in the Tremere's gaze. Softly, he continued. "Remain here and guard our escape." The sheer look of terror on the man's face at the request was unsettling but nevertheless, his body moved almost of its own accord and stationed itself as if to make a futile Spartan stand against the Persian hordes.

Tremsilla was shocked. Before she could utter a word, Tacitus growled: "Help me carry him! We need to get to the bottom. NOW!"

She mustered all her remaining strength and helped carry Octavian along. When they rounded the final ledge of the mountain they could hear the man curse in Spanish before being silenced. Tacitus dropped Octavian who fell to the ground dragging Tremsilla with him. With quick precision he invoked the clouds to strike at the top of the mountain pass. The lightning strikes loosened rubble and created a landslide, burying the swarm beneath it.

They waited several long minutes in silence as the rain settled from an almost torrential downpour into a more consistent rainfall.

"Octavian lifted himself weakly off Tremsilla, apologizing for the inconvenience he had caused. Her response was a punch to the jaw sending him landing on his back. "How dare you make that man march to his death! He came to help you!"

From the ground, he replied "Mistress Tremsilla... you and master Tacitus took a great risk by deciding to save my life. It would be callous of me to allow your decision to be a futile one."

She was infurriated. "We... I ... I never asked you to kill him! You... you're a monster!" She spat and threw the earrings she had acquired from Relegare's jewelry box at him. "That man was trying to hep you!" She turned to Tacitus to urge him to add to the scolding. She was stonewalled.

"Mistress Tremsilla, the bags of coin were his motivation. A false one at that."

Even weakened, his eyes don't miss a single detail thought Tacitus. The bags were filled with rocks made to look like coins through illusions. Instinctively, he averted his gaze from his female partner. She could tell tell he was mildly ashamed of the deed.

Tremsilla couldn't believe it. Her own teacher and a peer among the quaesitores. She felt ill in disgust and collapsed. Tacitus rushed to her side and checked up on her. Her leg had begun to break out in a rash. He quickly invoked spells and took care of her. All throughout, Octavian remained prone, looking upward at the sky with the rain rolling down his cheeks. Once done tending to her, Tacitus quipped. "It's strange to say this seeing how ruthless you can be... but from afar it looks like you are crying."

After a long awkward pause, Octavian sat up shakily with an eerie grin on his face. The earrings held in hand. "It looks like the rain is about to stop." As if on command the rain seemed to relent and was now but a drizzle.

Now THAT is some storytelling!

Yup, I'm very impressed, and enjoy your writings a lot

The trio had spent the night resting from their misadventure. Tremsilla had recovered but was still nauseous and Octavian was feeble but a brief breakfast had returned some strength to him. They managed the long trek to Duresca in silence. Upon their arrival, Tremsilla left the two without a word to seethe in rage in her own sanctum. Tacitus turned to the Tremere. "She holds no love for you."

"One could argue that hatred is not the opposite of love master Tacitus; it is apathy."

Tacitus considered his words. He was in no mood to wax philosophical with the green-eyed magus. He quickly changed the subject. "I take it you will be returning to Andorra in preparation for the Tribunal?"

"No." came the reply. "That is, if I may impose on the hospitality of Duresca. It has been a long trip."

Tacitus scoffed. "Ha! Too proud to admit you need to recover from that ordeal? Very well, I'll have the custos prepare guest rooms for you."

Octavian bowed deeply in a display of gratitude. "Master Tacitus is most gracious."

Octavian left the earrings with the leaders of the quaesitores at Duresca and had made the trip from Duresca directly to the Iberian Tribunal early as was custom for the quaesitores so that they may deal with business prior to the Tribunal itself. With the news of the rediscovery of Val-Negra, the Presiding Quaesitore had let it be known that a March was being gathered and all interested applicants should see Octavian to make their intentions known. Throughout the entire night he was hounded by magi both young and old.

As the Tribunal wound down, many of the magi departed just as swiftly as it had begun after the Presiding Quaesitor declared its legitimacy. Octavian sat on the dais, watching long after the first magi had begun filing out or leaving through displays of their power by Leap of the Homecoming.

"You were quite the popular one this Tribunal." came an elderly regal voice.

The Tremere recognized the voice and raised his head to face him with an embarrassed expression. "It appears so, Praeco Terrace."

Terrace frowned. Octavian's eyes were closed. Not that he could tell if he was being sincere or not anyways. He dismissed his bodyguards with a wave of his hand before taking a seat on the throne from which he held the Tribunal proceedings while the quaesitor continued looking ahead, his back turned to him. "A cruel jest to have you filter out the applicants for the Wizard's March." The comment was met with silence. "Although, I find myself quite surprised you did not dismiss the lot of them."

"There is nothing like a discarded, unwanted tool." came the reply.

The elder magi crooked an eyebrow. "A tool eh? So what do you intend to do with them?"

"Jaferiyah still has a lingering infernal presence. They will be tasked to cleanse it and make certain Metron does not retreat there."

"A tall task. I read Tacitus' report. How will you persuade them to remain at your service after giving them such a menial task as purging a ruin of rats?" His interest was peaked.

"There is no need to persuade all of them. Those only motivated by their own profit, the glory seekers and the impatient will leave of their own accord and return to their affairs." He explained softly.

"A true Tremere. Thus they will have lost interest and not be motivated to go seeking Metron on their own and getting in your way." Terrace tapped his scepter carefully on the arm of the throne. "However, that still doesn't explain how you can convince those with a more ... noble cause to remain."

"Jaferiyah's resources were never fully plundered in the wake of its destruction. The clever magi will understand that and will volunteer in keeping watch over the site while they collect the few vis sources that remain."

"I see, " said Terrace a smile creeping at the edges of his jowls. "And then by subtraction, you will know which are the inept and incompetent ones."

Octavian rose to his feet. "Your words, Praeco Terrace."

Terrace snorted. "And what about Metron proper now that he has escaped?" And you still haven't explained Trentus' involvement."

"Praeco Terrace should know the details of what transpired that led to his ban from Barcelona. While impetuous and headstrong, he possesses certain talents."

The Praeco leaned forward. "So you suspect Trentus will actually be of use then? Well I wish you luck in that endeavour. There is a great deal at risk."

"It is all for your benefit is it not? The fear of a return of the shadow Flambeau, and the news that Val-Negra exists will unite the Tribunal."

Coyly "Oh if the magi of the Tribunal see it that way of course." He sat back into his chair. "Although it seems enough that you were able to convince one of the covenants to go ahead and join the portal network without my prodding."

"Little escapes you it seems. If I am excused, I must make preparations."

Terrace nodded and pointed towards the exit with his scepter. "I will not keep you."


Awesomeness! This tale was many magnitudes above and beyond what I expected. I feel like I should reward you more, but I know you don't like gratuitous gifts. So what should I reward you with? Other than in-game prestige and influence that is.

You should know what Octavian would prefer. :slight_smile:

These are already great IMO... If the game makes use of things like Reputations, Allies... A simple reputation can be an awesome reward... if it appears into play at all. I remember fondly an old character of mine that was famous through the land, this was great, a lot more than any magical item he could have acquired.
But this usually requires political/social issues to be an important part of the game.

But I very well understand your feelings, I love these tales, too, and feels the same way. This seldom justifies raw power increase, though, and this would be crude and, IMO, a little unfair to those who lack octavian's gift (like me) or time (like vortigern which, IMO, is an awesome writer).
Hum... Hey!!! Maybe I'm confusing the player (if so, wrong idea, forget it), but what about some insight/help towards integration of Fertility magic? Or something else. This should need to be spun into the story or as a consequence, but this could be easily done and would help him towards his goals :smiley:

Fertility magic o_O? Octavian has the Continence Flaw...

:wink: Octavian is far too complex a character to make easy conclusions about.

I got confused :blush:

But still, you get the idea :wink: