As the day winds down the group returns for dinner, except Okeannetis who is lost wandering in the mountains with her Monocerous familiar.

1 Like

Argentius comes into dinner with a thoughtful expression. He takes what is now becoming his usual seat. He drink from his goblet before loading his bowl with whatever is being served and begins eating as other others arrive.

Once the others arrive, the handsome Verditius pauses his eating and comments:

"Well that was an interesting afternoon. The knot of troubles we find ourselves in didn't get less complicated. I spoke with the Cathars. They were once led by Perfecti who were spiritual leaders and guides of some kind. They have disappeared. I expect they have become Iuventae like us and lost what wisdom they had gained. I suspect they may have a difficult time recovering their religious center without their Perfecti to guide them. That will likely lead to trouble."

Argentius takes another bite. He looks about the table at the others who have arrived.

"What did you learn?"

Zarkut is one of the earliest to arrive. He has cleaned up and is dressed more formally, and also eats right away, tucking food away as if famished.

He listens, nodding, and is first to respond to Argentius' question.

"I may have the answer to what is only an academic question, but I can confirm that, if all the... Iuventae, you're calling us? If all the Iuventae have gone through the same process I did; we are no longer under the effects of Longevity Rituals, or any other lingering magic. We are fertile now, assuming we weren't before. And the age we appear to be is our real age."

1 Like

Lares huffs and puffs in hastily. He doesn’t seem quite as hungry as last time; his portion is now on the moderate side.

“I welcome Zarkut's news about the fertility, although the longevity rituals are going to prove a costly problem. But Argentius, my new friend! You left out all the important parts. Let’s see.”

He counts with his fingers again.

“First, there is indeed a ledger. It shows that all our income comes from an oasis. Based on my son Izri’s account, it’s basically a farm at which travelers may rest and supply in the desert about four days’ travel from here. It lies in the beginning of the path through the mountains to the covenant. We have magical water in there. About half of our moderate income goes into wages.”

He waves his raised finger with an air of importance.

“A few weighty considerations. Was the oasis affected as we have been? If so, our secret as well as our existence are endangered, given that our sustenance, income, and mundane loyalty depend on the oasis. If not, are we going to inform them of our predicament? It may be difficult to conceal, but if they know, the news may get out with a caravan.”

He pauses to consider.

“I suggest we organize an expedition whereby one magus, aged in appearance, visits the oasis, informs only their leadership of our situation, and swears them to secrecy. This is risky in itself, of course, but I do not see how we could possibly manage the ruse otherwise. I am not sure how the the deliveries of goods from the oasis were organized before, but we must now make sure that they are organized such that the mundanes do not have to meet - as a drop-off, perhaps? Is anyone here proficient at changing their appearance? One of the children can help them get the look right.

Oh, and Aetherius apparentry travelled instantly to the Oasis, and perhaps also Cairo, where he got our mail. You should check if you can find the arcane connections to these places, and we should see if one of us could learn the magic to handle this with.”

Lares raises another finger.

“Second. We had access to sources of perdo, animal, auram, ignem, imaginem, terram, and vim vis. Of these, only perdo and animal are within the covenant, and auram and vim we know how to access. For vim, perdo, and animal, what seems like enough information was in the ledger, whereas auram is known by my son and probably other Berbers. The rest were gathered by the Cathar mundanes, which group we seem to have favored over the other two. Rather foolish, in my opinion, given that this has given rise to much resentment and now we are completely dependent on them. At any rate,”

Lares points his two fingers at Argentius,

“I am willing to bet that the secrets to the vis gathering were held by these priests that Argentius speaks of. We may have to rediscover all the other sources, which is no trivial problem.”

He looks at the others.

“Does anyone here have the skills to investigate vis sources? Perhaps interview the Cathars first in case they still remember something, but also actually find the places and learn how to gather them, if necessary.”

He raises a third finger.

“Third, the mundanes are in disarray and must be organized post haste. Their loyalty is also under severe threat. Some of them may have lost some of their familiarity with the Gift, and our evident loss of competence clearly does us no favors, either.”

Lares closes his fist.

“Needless to say, we must tread carefully here. That means no ill behavior towards the mundanes. No explicit casting of spells at them,” he pauses and looks meaningfully at Tastheus, “none of the arrogant and mean bullshit that we do. If the mundanes come at us, we will be helpless to stop them in our present state.”

Lares taps his foot.

“Previously, the mundanes were governed by liaisons from the three groups together with me. I suggest we reinstate a similar system, and work through the mundane liaisons to alleviate the ill effects of the Gift. I have already started organizing this. I have asked the Arabs to choose a liaison from among themselves, and have worked to elevate my son Izri as the liaison for the Berbers.”

He glares at the others as if expecting resistance.

“Now, I expect you will accuse me of a power grab. I would emphasize, however, that my son is competent and loyal to me. The Berbers form our military. If things go south, we need their loyalty above all, and having my son leading them together with me is the way to ensure it. That being said, any of you would of course be welcome to join this coordinating council, if they so wish. So: do we establish such a thing, and who should be on it?”

1 Like

Silas sits in his seat, grabbing a little food here and there. He meets Lares gaze and speaks.

"If we found you suited for such a task before I dont see any reason you wouldnt be suited for it again. We should handle all problems by asking whomever is most fit for the task to handle it. Some already established loyalties is a good start, though I am not quite sure how your sons would qualify as berber..."

He studies Lares up and down and gives a little shrug.

"Well personally I checked out or vis storage. There is quite the treasure in there. Almost three queens from my quick count. Not much in form of protections. I would like to reexamine it now when we have some ideas of our sources. Might offer valuable clues for harvesting and how much we trade and so on. Other than I have formed the opinion that we were seldomly visited at our site, and your own discoveries seems to strengthen this. Perhaps no one knows our exact location."

1 Like

"Regarding your son, Lares, as you say, I would rather rely on mundanes we can trust until we can re-establish the trust with the rest of the covenant."

"As for the longevity rituals, I think it's a rather good news that they are inactive. It means we are not at risk of yearly warping while at the peak of our youth. I'm happy to wait a decade or more before I renew mine, so we have ample time to supply our vis stock. And perhaps, when we get there, we can look up our notes for the old recipe, and perform the ritual again."

"I do have a few things to share with the covenant. I confirm that I was dealing with the redcaps personally in Cairo, using a Leap of Homecoming spell that I found in my lab, and could work on learning again soon. There is a Mercere portal in Cairo which acts as the hub for the rest of the Order. This is something I can learn again to resume our mail delivery, although that will require a few seasons working on my arts before. But learning and casting it sometime next year seems reasonable. Since my movements to Cairo seem to have been unpredictable, I think we can afford waiting a bit. I also have a fair number of arcane connections in my lab to specific cities and sites, which I must have used to move about. I'll have to visit them to see if any lead to a vis site. How quickly I can get to it depends on whether you need me to learn Vigil in time for the Aegis or not."

"Another discovery I made is that I have a sizeable personal library which I used to conduct book trade. I'm happy to lend those resources to the covenant members to learn from as needed. Many of those books are mundane, and cover theology, which I'm not sure will interest most of us, but I do have a summae on area lore cairo if anyone has business there besides me and two tractatus on magic lore including one that may be of interest to understand local magical forces - called the Hungry Desert."

"Sadly, I must also report that I could find no evidence I'm responsible for our rejuvenation."

"I also have tons of notes on a lost temple of mercury. It's not clear to me yet whether I already found the place."

Argentius listens with interest, nodding to Zarkut's reference to Iuventae, smiling in particular at Lares's finger counted articulation of the situation. He seems visibly relieved at Silas's report on the vis stores as well as Aetherius's recounting of what he has learned.

After taking another sip of his drink, speaks again:

"That's a great deal to take in. Let me add a few other observations and thoughts." He looks to Lares first.

"I encouraged the Cathars to organize themselves into family groups and identify a leader in each family group. From those leaders to form a council. I'm not sure they were convinced by my recommendation, but lacking any other organizing structure, it seemed a natural way to get them focused. You are right, though: we need to find a way bring these three factions among the covenfolk into a more peaceful arrangement."

"I don't believe my future-past self was centrally active in the administration of Al Kufra. He… he was very focused on his search and research. Very focused. It will take some time to understand what progress he made and whether continuing that effort is worth it. This research included extensive maps of this area, Spain, and other areas. I'm still trying to understand what they might reveal."

"I have also come into possession of three rings of his.. My own enchanting," continue Argentius, holding up his right hand where three rings are seated. "One allows me to speak with any person or group despite any language barrier. A translation effect. I realize we have significant language issues to overcome, and I'm happy to do what I can personally to assist in communicating with our covenfolk or others until we all regain the language skills we need."

"The other rings enable me to do a few other things of varying utility: speak with statues, learn the history of a written text, understand a bit about auras and regios. If those can be of help, I'm happy to use them on your behalf or to the benefit of the covenant."

Argentius grows quiet, looking to others for updates or thoughts.

"Ah, there you all are," comes the voice from the door. Plasmatoris shuffles inside, past the individual who lead him to the room. The Jerbiton has his artist satchel with him again, packed with notes and tools for records. This clothes are once again disheveled, though there is no inkstains or charcoal smudge.
"What? Dinner?" He says to the mundane behind him. "Oh. I had forgotten. Well, I should probably eat as well.". Plasmatoris heads to his seat and flumphs into it. "I have been working on getting an accurate roster of our inhabitants, he says. "But I keep finding one of you had gotten to each location before me."


"Any chance I could borrow that statue-speaking ring of yours, Argentius? I might have a use for it..."

1 Like

"I'm sure we can work something out," answers Argentius with a distracted nod. He has offered a simple lift of his chin in greeting to Plasmatoris, but the handsome Verditius appears to be considering all he has heard so far. After a moment, he pulls a piece of parchment he has written on, pushing it out onto the table for the others.

"Here is a first attempt at an amendment to the covenant Charter. It's simple and focused on recommitting to the oaths we took before. I believe we'll need to trust each other deeply if we're to salvage this situation. Re-taking our oaths could begin to rebuild the deep roots of trust I believe we once shared."

(OOC: see the draft of the amendment in the Investigations thread: Investigations - #151 by Bartomeus )

Lares chuckles.

“Adoptive sons, evidently. They are Berber orphans that me and my wife adopted.”

“Good work, Argentius. I will then take it as accepted that we organize the governance of the mundanes as council of the three language groups and myself. I will attempt to organize the first meeting tonight.”

“This roster of yours sounds like it could be of great use in the governance of the mundanes, Plasmatoris. If you would like to attend my meeting with them, or would like to pass this information on to me, I would be grateful.”

“It would be best, of course, if you could learn the Leap as soon as possible. I believe five of us are planning to learn the Vigil at this time. Four would still be relatively fine, so I am inclined to say that Aetherius should learn the Leap instead. What do the others think?”

[OOC: Currently, we have 5 casters for the Vigil. The math is Aegis level 30 / 5 casters = 6 effective casting level. Assuming aura 5, Lares’ total for casting the Aegis is 32, meaning that if we roll 4 or more, we get full penetration on the Aegis with five casters. With 4 Vigil casters it’s 30/4=7,5~8, meaning that we need to roll 6 to get full penetration and thus stand a higher chance of getting slightly sub-par penetration in the 24-29 range. It’s arguably not a huge deal.]

Lares carefully reads through Argentius’ proposal.

“This looks great to me. Thank you for drafting it, Argentius. I am certainly willing to sign this.”

1 Like

he pauses and looks meaningfully at Tastheus, “none of the arrogant and mean bullshit that we do. If the mundanes come at us, we will be helpless to stop them in our present state.”

Tastheus has an insulted frown of "what arrogant BS?" painted on his face.

"I have discovered that I am the senior Quaesitor of the Tribunal, which may cause us more of a headache by trying to hide what happened to us in the long run."

1 Like

Lares looks concerned.

“That is going to be a problem. Have you considered how you wish to approach this? I would hand in my resignation in your situation, but I can imagine this is not a trivial question for you.”


This is a good idea. I'm willing to sign that, yes.

1 Like

Silas reads through the other Verditius' addendum. As he reads the conversation is moving on around the table. Nonetheless he clears his throat. Suddenly feeling a little embarrassed for some reason.

"Sodales the truth is I wrote a draft as well. Mine is a fair bit lengthier and includes a few other things. Mostly agreements I think we would benefit from. Trying to stop trouble and conflict before it arises. I might have gotten a little carried away, though I do believe believe all suggestions has their purpose."

Silas lays down his own draft on the table.

1 Like

Aetherius consults the draft Silas presents to the council. "There is much to consider in this document. You've worked a lot on this." He remains reserved at this point, seemingly considering the content without offering an opinion either way.

1 Like

Argentius's brows arch in surprise as Tastheus shares his discovery. "Damn. That complicates things.

Argentius takes a few moments to read Silas's longer addendum. The longer he reads, the more concern manifests in his face, a furrowing of his brown, tension in his mouth. He then hands the document on to another magus.

"I appreciate the effort here, Silas. I do. But I am of the opinion that we need to build on the foundation we have already established here at Al Kufra even though our memories are gone We may have been made new but Al Kufra is not new. The charter we signed before and committed our oaths to is still valid and still a sound, quesitorially approved charter. I think what you have written reaches too far and complicates rather than simplifies our situation."

Argentius looks around the gathering. "My parens spoke of what he called a law of parsimony, the principle of simplicity in our work as magi. Seek the simplest solution first, he would say. I believe we should do the same here: build on what we have established here in the simplest way. Simple will also speed approval from a quesitor," he glances at Tastheus, "Maybe."

Zarkut looks at both documents. "I think I prefer the shorter one. For one thing, I believe this longer one is substantial enough to require a Quaesitorial witness, which needlessly complicates Tastheus' position. But also, we have an adequate charter already, which I don't see the need to amend so significantly."

He turns to Tastheus. "May I suggest that you travel to Magvillus and inform them? If that's how it works? I don't know that much about procedure... I was strenuous about the need of secrecy before the whole order, but I think the Quaesitors having confidential knowledge of our situation may not be a bad idea."

1 Like

After considering the opinions of Zarkut and Argentius, Aetherius ex Mercere chimes in. "I'll have to weigh in favor of parsimony as well. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with an addendum to the charter in which we all spell out our intention not to have it checked by a quaesitor. I also think a charter is not the best place to put the council's decisions on things like this investigation, what we say to outsiders, or whether we should keep a personal journal. Some of these things may make sense to discuss as proposals, but I'm not sure they should be in a document which is intended to have a constitutional value. A charter should have lasting value... If what's in there will no longer make sense in five years, let's not write it into the charter. Also, maybe we should learn to trust one another enough not to have to put things in written like 'If this document is destroyed, it's still valid?' "

1 Like

Almost as an afterthought, he adds. "Oh, now that I think about it, another thing that I learned was that I weaved some enchantments into my familiar bond during my previous existence, which I'm still able to use. If you have a familiar and you haven't done that already, I suggest looking up any lab notes you left behind. One thing that's allowed me to learn was that there is no regio nearby of any realm visible from the sky, and that the only two auras we could detect are those we're familiar with, one for the general covenant, the other one surrounding our lab areas. The good news is we have no immediate reason to expect close supernatural neighbors."

1 Like