In which we secure land for the Covenant

It was early-afternon and the day was especially hot for spring. Antonius and Julias (as well as Tomas and Cheech if Joel wants to), were in Jarcovius' tent, going through the notes and journals of the late magus, trying to find information with regards to Malta and the dig sites he envisionned before entering final twilight. Not being familiar with the magical protections Jarcovius used, Antonius had spent most of the morning trying to find hidden magical curses and wards (InVi 15 = 2+5+23+5 = 35).

Around noon, Paphos and David had been summoned, so that they could give an account of their trip to Mdina. A few hours later, Antonius was sitting in a chair and pouring a dusty tome, when the duo entered.

"Greetings ! How was your trip to Mdina ? Learned anything interesting ?`"

David smiles. "We found a few things. Paphos seemed to get the most information. He found the clerk for the minister who approves such things. The minister may be around. We found the prince who is actually in charge. He is a nice, if very bored, kid. Not as good a gambler as he thinks (and I am not that good). He is very casual. When we discussed it, it seems likely that he would agree to grants, but might just as soon change his mind. There apparently is someone whom he refers to as "the Muslim" who probably is the real organizer here. Once we know what we want, we should probably talk to him. And then, if the rince is still here, get his agreement directly as well."

"Pshaw, nothing of import. The only thing Henri's flunky imparted of note was the the good Count is likely to be favorable to the idea of a hospital. He also gave me some information on the other sites, but it appears Skorba is our best bet? Penko is already talking about recruiting work crews from the locals and I had to reign him in a little. I leave it to this council to determine the best approach to secure the land in question, but also suggest that now would be a very appropriate time to inventory what exactly is left in the caravan."

"I see three ways we could attempt to gain this land. First, we deal with this petty prince in a forthright manner, stating our desires and asking what he wishes in return. I see this as unlikely; most nobles are unwilling to sell their birthright, but we could attempt other deals, such as offering him adventure in return for the land, or as for his sponsorship to build even if we do not actually own the land. Second, we can deal with him using subterfuge, such as mind control, or a rigged card game; he seems quite open to such means. Lastly, we can investigate the individual known as The Muslim, likely to be his autocrat or seneschal and thus empowered to deal in his name."

Antonius listen carefully to what Paphos and David, occasionnaly nodding. After a few seconds, he responds:

"I wouldn't want to deal with the muslim. The young lord clearly doesn't like him and still employ him because he has to, not because he wants to, and should he fall out of favor, then we could be in trouble."

The magus stay quiet for a moment, and then continues, his black and red eyes lit with a spark, staring at David:

"He seems to miss Sicily by your account. What if.... what if a suitable christian merchant was to offer him establish an hospital on his estate and rent the land in perpetuity for a few pounds of silver each year. And if that certain merchant was to offer to administrate the estate at the same time, it would probably be feasible to convince him. And then, you wouldn't have to worry about really managing it David, because we could hire the "Muslim" ourselve to do it."

"Yes, I think it would do. Everyone would gain something from this deal; we would secure the land, wouldn't have to deal with the noble and would be free to do almost do as we please, he wouldn't have to deal with his autocrat that he dislike, could go back to his more pleasant estate in Sicily and could get more silver than he could hope from his land; at the very least more that the couple of goats we saw the other day bring him... and it the end, if he is reticent about dealing with mages, we could offer him to heal him should he because seriously injured in battle, because in my experience people have a tendency to want to life longer and healthier."

"What do you all think ?"

I like the offer to lease, but it skirts perilously close to interfering with mundanes. We would need to be careful in it's implementation. I doubt he would want us to administer his lands - he does not know David well at all, but undoubtedly was raised with his mother's milk on tales of how people want to steal what is rightfully his. I do not disagree, I simply advise caution.

David chimes back in, "Actually, the Muslims usually have a positive view of medicine and health care. More positive than the usual Italian rulers anyway. Yes, negotiating with 'the Muslim' will be harder. But if we get the agreement, and arrange to get the lord's buy in as well, we should be in good shape.'

I think our course is clear then?

While we are here, do we wish to inventory the caravan to determine our resources?

"Well... you are rigth Paphos, charges of interfering with mundanes might be raised against us if we administrate the land directly, it would have been nice to have this degree of freedom. Anyway, if the present autocrat is so much distruted by the noble, maybe he doesn't like him either, and thus will be less inclined to report to him our more esoteric activities and we will probably be able to eastablish a amicable relationship with him.

"I do however think that we would be better to deal directly with the noble; any lease we propose to his autocrat will eventually have to go through him anyway. If the lease is sufficient and he never have to spend time in Malta to get some for of income for this estate, I am convinced that it wont be hard for you to get him to sign. In any case, I would make sure the lease is in perpetuity."

Antonius looks at Tomas : "You have been quite silent, what do you think we should do ? It seems that only the two of us left now..."

He then turns towards Paphos: "What news of Tartessos ? He left quite a while ago, and we haven't got any message from him so he must have been quite busy. Maybe he would be interested in settling with us here in Malta. He enchanting abilibies are very impressives and having him here would grant more weight to our covenant if we are to get the approval of the Tribunal."

"David, do you know what are the custums regarding the foundation of a new covenant in this tribunal ?"

Tomas looks around. "I'm not much of negotiator. In fact, probably our biggest problem is that most of us are more interested in haring off investigating strange things than in negotiating with conservative nobles. While my guess is that we will need to pursue getting approval from both parties, we ought to find out more about "the Muslim" from someone other than the spoiled prince."

David then responds to the other question. "First, we will need to agree on a charter. Given the approach here, we need to make sure we have agreement on what results are personal, and what shall belong to the covenant. I think we need to recognize that each member will want significant benefit from his individual research, but we need to have a community, and meaningful communal resources. Then there is the question of charter approval. We will want to get a Guernicus to validate the legitimacy of the terms. But we need to deal with whether we are part of the Italian Tribunal, or want to claim something else. It will be political in either case, and we will want sponsors in Rome in either case. I can of course carry letters. I will need to leave soon to begin my rounds." (OOC SG, please clarify if I mangled things, and when the Italian Tribunal will be meeting if we are going that way.)

"We already approved a charter a few weeks ago. As for the ressources, I have close to about a queen of vis in several techniques, and I did found several laboratory texts while going through Jarcovius' notes. There were several ancient text about a certain form of ancient magic, but I couldn't comprehend them yet. What do you have Tomas ?"

"And it seems to be the concensus that we need to figure out who the autocrat is. Let us go to Mgarr again tomorrow and enquire as to whom it might be."

After the meeting, Antonius will write a letter to Tartessos decribing the events and the dissolution of the caravan, as well as laying out the plans for the new covenants and inviting him to take part in it.

(OCC: I think we can continue the story at Mgarr if you all agree)

(OOC: I knew we had discussed the charter, but I could not remember if the characters had approved it.)

"By all means notify Tartessos. He stated when he left that he intended to return; now is the time for him to make good on that statement or forever go his own path. Besides the magical resources available to us, we should also investigate the mundane. For example, do we retain enough tools to set up a mason's workshop or should obtaining these be a priority? How much of a remaining food supply do we have? Do we still have draft animals to pull the wagons? Is there a lab already set up in Jarcovius' wagon, or do we have sufficient glassware and tools to outfit one?"

"The process of building a covenant from scratch is one of constantly having to build a tool to complete the next step. Obtaining land, language skills, and tribunal approval all rely on the mundane of having food in our belly, and before we can erect buildings, we need to establish a camp and organize our tools and work gangs (i.e. set up a workshop). This alone will take a season before we can even begin work on the site, and might be a wise investment of monies to obtain better quality tools and resources."

(Silveroak - have you decided what we have, or will this be a handwavium moment?)

You have labs, though currently they are designed to be set up outside in short order, a season can easily adapt them to being inside labs of pretty much any size. Features vary all over the place depending on whether they are part of the construction, setting, or something that you can obviously start with (such as spacious).

Technically, Malta is at the edge of the Tribunal, even the African Covenant listed in the Rome supplement from previous editions is further North, so if you decide not to notify the tribunal of your existence it would probably go unnoticed.

Food and tools have been maintained- your covenant has experienced masons who have been used in excavation, and could easily set up a workshop with standard rules (costing 1 lb and a season of a mason's work)

Is there any common silver supply, or is our individual supply what we have for now? (Either is quite defensible, and I can believe in a metagameing sense it may depend upon whether we need to burn boons to gets permission to establish.)

It is my understanding that all expenses come out of silver from BP, or from our personal supplies.

On to Mggar, then, this time with people who speak the language? Paphos will volunteer, and Garcin can come in case there is trouble.

(Gahh. I had simply forgotten the BP silver. We have plenty. We have to develop income sources.)
David is happy to go talk with villagers, even if none of them care about books.
(OOC: If we take the time to play out visiting the other high probability sites, we will be at this forever. Even though I think the characters should check out the sites.)

It is possible to visit them sequentially in game time and run all the games simultaneously...
or send grogs for the initial investigations...

(OOC: Julia will go to Mgarr with you)

I like the idea of having grogs go to the other sites, but magi might want to go as well, to investigate the mystical properties of the site beyond basic aura strength and size.

David, Paphos and Julia are already tapped for the return to Mggar, I suggest a shield grog go as well. In addition Henri (speaks Italian and Arabic), a mage and a shield grog could investigate a second site. The third site could be the other mage, the third grog (doesn't matter who, they all speak Italian), accompanied by Ismael to handle Arabic.

A suggested breakdown could be:


Haggar Qim:

Return to Mggar:

Asha also speaks Arabic and could be available to any of these while Penko, Madaleen and Nicolae stay at home. This does put us short one fighting man, without a warrior covering home, but Nicolae might be able to cover in an emergency. Alternately, Zoltan could stay at home as Mggar does not seem to dangerous right now. We really need to recruit a shield grog or two as well as servants.