Frère Sulpice slightly bows towards Lady Daria as she enters, and silently takes a seat at the centre table after she sat down.
There is a brief, quizzical look. Could it be Sophie is trying to figure out what nefarious scheme lies behind the question? Regardless, she gives a pleasant reply, **"I'm a local 'wise woman.' I help heal the locals and deal with the fae."
When passing the library, Sophie simple looks around in awe, clearly gawking. She has no words for it. But the chair carrying Daria is what truly amazes her. While she feels Daria's presence, she is quite distracted for a bit at the way the chair walks. Awakened a little by the other two bowing, Sophie curtsies and waits patiently for someone else to speak.
Daria sits still and straight for a while, looking at all of you with a serious and calculated look in her face. You see countenance and dignity, but also the frailty that age has imposed in her once slender body. Her gaze is still strong and level, not marred with cataracts or other ailments. It takes a while for her to speak. When she does you are surprised by the strength of her voice. The image of frailty that you see in her body has not translated to her voice. Or not as much. It is clearly a voice used to command and speak clearly, even if you find some cracks in her inflections. Despite its current coarse tone you find it beautiful and powerful.
Welcome to Triamore. I am Lady Daria La Gris, Princeps of Triamore. You have already met Remi of Mouseau. You all have received a letter of invitation to come here in this day and hour: The reason for the letter is that Triamore is searching to increase its complement of knights. According to our charter the knights of triamore are people with supernatural abilities, and all of you have been touched by the Supernatural. She pauses and looks at each one of you in turn. Frere Sulpice, our contacts in Paris tell us that you are a student of the Ars Notoria, the mystical power of king Solomon himself. We would like to offer you a place as a Sodales in Triamore.
She then looks at Yannis. Yannis of Ardennes, we already knew about you ourselves. You have a mystical understanding of the Ardennes forest, and are a guardian of Arduinna, its spirit. We would like to offer you a place as a Sodales in Triamore even if you are not a member of the Order of Hermes yet.
She then moves her sight to Sophie. She takes a while to speak again. You feel like you are being studied and evaluated again. The experience is not exactly bad, but is not comfortable either. Sophie of Arbois, we have only heard from you in recent times, but our contacts tell us about your good aptitudes with conflict and the fae. Despite not being a member of the Order of Hermes you have strong talents that we would like to have among our fellow casters. We would like to offer you a place as a Sodales in Triamore.
She then looks at all of you as a group. The reasons for us to offer membership into Triamore is the current state of the holy Roman Empire. It seems that the worst has passed and that the Stauffens will regain the throne after the Welf interlude. However, when Otto of Bunswick dies there will be movements while Frederick Stauffen becomes the new Emperor. And in this conflict triamore is bound to suffer.
We are an imperial immediacy . One located in the confluence of several mundane and supernatural factions that want to control it. The margravate of Namur, the duchies of Brabant and Limbourg-Luxembourg and the Counties of Hainaut and Rethel all consider Triamore and Bois de Haillot to be theirs. Other smaller factions like Chiny also have vested interest in our location and claims to our lands. The reason for the interest of all these parties is obviously possession of Lucien’s Folly, this powerful castle south of Dinant and a day’s march from Namur. This castle is a key element in the control of the area, and the reason why the Emperors have entrusted it to us, members of the Order of Hermes to remove it from the political and military jockeying of the local factions. We are a clear imperial possession, but with each passing of an emperor we have had our rights and property challenged by one faction or another, usually more than one. We have endured, but at great cost. If Triamore is to survive further upheavals we need a full complement of sodales with mystical abilities, and eight now we are understaffed. After the death or final Ascension of some of our knights only Lord Mouseau and myself remain as Sodales of the covenant.
Your interest to join our covenant might be reigned by the coming troubles I just described. So the advantages we offer are twofold. For one, the support of Triamore in your own ventures. It is a strong location to build your mystical career. On the other part, full and unrestricted access to our library. We are sure that you will be able to find some lore that interest you there. We hope that you accept our generous offer even if it’s a challenging one, but we will understand if you do not. If you have any questions, we will obligingly answer them. She then stops and sits as if waiting for you to answer.
If you make a PER+Awareness roll of 6+ you see that her clasped hands seem to tremble a little, and that she seems to be sitting straight more by sheer willpower than muscle and bone action. The stern assistant that stand behind her is clearly shifting her feet, unsure if she needs to rush forward or keep back to keep her madame’s dignity.
For you there is an obvious additional reason to the invitation: Daria seems to be near her passing, so the arcane users of Triamore might decrease by another member fast.
Frère Sulpice made his simple PER+Awareness roll of 6+. He waits, until Daria appears to be comfortably seated again. Then he raises and speaks:
Lady Daria, thank you for receiving me in Triamore!
Dear Sodales of the Reconstructed Order of Hermes, dear Sophie - Lady Daria is correct about my studies. I am a scholar of ancient languages from Paris University, who stumbled upon texts that go back for more than two thousand years, and were assembled and recited already by king Salomo. They were commented upon and added to at the times of the Apostles and of the Church Fathers - but the professors of Paris University considered them gibberish.
The reason for that I understood only, when the Parisian sodales of the Reconstructed Order found and contacted me: I have 'the Gift', which allows me to make sense and use of these orations. I then joined these sodales, as Lady Daria well knows.
I can tell you now, that reaching out to the Lord in ancient orations may get you answers! These obliged me to change my life. First I had only the Prophets and the Apostles as models: trying to emulate their virtues on my own would soon have crushed me. But then I found, that just last year the liitle friars of Francis of Assisi had come to Paris, and their way of following the Apostles I could make mine as well. So I espoused Lady Poverty, gave my wealth away, and joined them. To put my studies to their use, I was ordained to priesthood by the archbishop of Paris.
As a little friar, a priest and your sodalis I offer you my help to preserve Triamore. Being a priest, I cannot do that as a knight. Being a little friar, I cannot do this even as a ministerialis. I owe obedience to Fra Francesco in Assisi, Fra Pacifico in Paris and to the prince-bishop in Liège, who currently is not even aware of my presence here. But I can be your chaplain for room, board and the opportunity to study: both in Triamore's excellent library and outside it.
The prince-bishop of Liège, Hugues de Pierrepont, is a colorful person: as lord, bishop and warrior. He led the troops of Liège and Huy successfully against feudal armies, attended the Fourth Council of the Lateran, and might use the implementation of its decisions in his domain to remove obstacles to his power. So maybe you use the advice of your chaplain in political and scholarly matters as in matters of the soul.
Then Frère Sulpice takes his seat again, serene but attentive.
Once Sulpice has taken his seat Yannis stands to address Lady Daria "Dame La Gris, allow me to be frank, for reasons that are her own Arduinna looks upon Triamore and Bois de Haillot with a degree of favour that I neither understand nor agree with." he pauses for a weary sigh "At least not until your mention of the interest of other, mundane, feudal lords upon this estate."
"I have never formally sworn the Oath to join the Order, for my apprenticeship was cut short. However, this is a threat to my magical power that I cannot ignore. I will swear the Oath and join Triamore.
Yannis heaves another weary sigh and takes his seat, seemingly quite disturbed.
Sophie awaits her turn patiently, not having picked up on anything from Daria's hands. "Yes, you are correct that I am comfortable dealing with the Fae, and I am an accomplished healer as well. Knowing far less than my peers here, I cannot say much about the Order of Hermes. But I do believe I can serve the people here well and that I can learn much while here. I will take a look at this oath before agreeing to swear it, but I expect I should be able to accept to our mutual benefit."
Daria looks levelly at each one of you again.
There are 2 oaths at stake here. One is the Oath to the Order of hermes. You are not required to swear it if you do not want to. It has its advantages in the form of granting a form of magical defence, buit also comes with certain obligations and limits to what you can do. The other oath at stake is the charter of triamore to become a member of the covenant. Given the proclivities of the original creators of the Triamore charter, it assumes that the people swearing it are members of the Order of Hermes, and the Princeps needs to be a member as per our imperial charter, but the need to belong to the Order for all our members can be amended if any of you decide not to join our Order. Morris our steward will provide you with copies of both oaths and charters, and he will be available for consultation in case you have any doubts. You will be summoned to a more formal meeting in the Council Chamber in 3 days time to await your response and, if you decide on such a path, to welcome you to Triamore as members. She then bows slightly to you all, expect the customary bows back and her magical chair moves to the library entrance. The servant leaves with her.
You are left with Morris and Remi in the room. Remi looks encouragingly to all of you, while Morris seems to be more reserved.
Sophie listens intently and contemplates as Daria leaves. Of the others remaining she asks, "The oat to the Order of Hermes would be a magical oath of some sort, then, I would take it. I assume that based on the oath granting a magical defense. Being familiar with magical oaths, especially among faeries, I will need to take a careful look at this oath to understand what other magical bindings it entails."
Sulpice walks over to Remi and addresses him quietly but precisely in Latin: I wish to avoid letters between Fra Pacifico in Paris and me, before I sign the covenant charter. So I would have to take signing it upon my conscience, which I cannot do lightly.
Is it an agreement of mutual support between scholars? Or do I need to pose as - whatever weird kind of - a knight? You do not need to answer now, as I will have to check everything in person anyway.
Can you provide me the document, best with a list of all its past and current signataries, in the library - or better yet in the chapel? I will discuss it with Fra Taddeo. We both know the rules of the little friars, of course.
In case, that complex issues come up at that time, we might wish to be able to refer to Augustine's De Civitate Dei for the spirit and the Decretum Gratiani for the letter of the laws of the Church. If you can provide it, Peter Damian's LIber Gomorrhianus may help to find egregious traps in old documents. All of these books will also be handy, if the prince-bishop should check in earnest the orthodoxy of our community later.
Finally, I need to meditate in the chapel over night about the charter, together with Fra Taddeo. I hope I can give you my agreement in time, or a proposal of changes making the charter viable also for a priest and little friar.
We might have little time, but need to be thorough. So when can I start?
I assume, that the charter is still Triamore p.34f, right?
Assuming that Frère Sulpice has gone through the document of Triamore p.34f, he will address Remi about the following issues at once:
There are two exclusions in the charter, which no Christian in his right mind would ever accept:
"... shall honor and defend the Tribunal and the Order in all affairs and above all other matters." is setting up Tribunal and Order as idols, and thereby voiding the charter.
"... and that he owes no allegiance nor fealty to any other Covenant or other body such as shall contravene his good oath to this Covenant, ..." is made most unclear by "or other body". Every Christian owes allegiance to the Church - which is by no means a Covenant in the sense of the Code of Hermes.
Both phrases likely do not say what the authors mean, and can be easily amended to e. g. "... shall honor and defend the Tribunal and the Order in all affairs." and "... and that he owes no allegiance nor fealty to any other Covenant or similar body such as shall contravene his good oath to this Covenant, ...".
It also might make sense to list after the signatures also the allegiances of the signataries, like priest and little friar, so as to make sure these do not contradict the charter and have not been hidden to the other signataries.
Yannis smiles wryly a Sophie and nods "The Oath of Hermes, in its current form, is a magical oath as you have surmised."
He then motions Morris over. "I shall need the services of a reader who can also act as a scribe. I pray Triamore can provide such an individual from its staff? Unlike my learned childhood friend yonder I never completed my apprenticeship and so I never learned my letters. And though I doubt anything has changed in the Oath of Hermes since its re-discovery, I am unfamiliar with Charter of the Covenant of Triamore."
While waiting for documents and books to come forward, Frère Sulpice addresses Sophie in French: Speaking the Oath of Hermes is part of an initiation into a system of magical defense. It is very old and was meant to keep the old Order of Hermes from self-destructing: a purpose it did not fulfill. It is told, that violating the Oath, once taken in the initiation, can have immediate consequences.
But the Oath is very reasonable. It is mainly concerned with regulating the life in the Order proper and assuring mutual respect within it. The outside relations of its members are restricted in obvious ways, that prohibit behaviour endangering the Order and its members: like dealing with devils, molesting the fay, and involving those outside the Order in disputes within it.
As a Christian but not nearly so knowledgeable as Frère Suplice, Sophie listens intently to his comments about potential issues with allegiances and the church. She has nothing to contribute, but she thanks him afterward for his insight.
After Yannis and Frère Sulpice explain the Oath of Hermes to her Sophie replies, "I will have to look carefully as this oath. I am familiar with similar oaths made with faeries. I have no problem making reasonable allegiances, but I am always careful to examine the magical parts of any such bargain."
The covered wagon slowly makes it way up the slight hill leading to the entrance of the incomplete castle called Lucien's folly by the locals. The driver, an mature man wearing a padded vest, cracks his whip to keep the pair of oxen pulling the wagon moving as the right wheel hits a larger-than-susual pot hole. The shock reverberates through the carriage, raising a cry from inside.
"WHAT IS THIS!!! Maurits, are you trying to kill me AGAIN!"
The driver sighs and grumbles inaudibly, before answering in a loud voice, but not quite a yell. "We're there, master."
"THERE? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THERE!" The tarp seperating the covered part from the driver's bench is thrown aside and a round head emerges. "WHERE ARE..." The speaker interrupts himself when he catches sight of the approaching gate of Triamore. In a much normal tone of voice, he says, "Oh. OH! We've arrived! At last! Why didn't you tell me, you befuddled eater of half-cooked batracians? Never mind that. Good! EXCELLENT! Now, WHERE are my formal robes..." The head disappears back into the wagon.
A few minutes later, the wagon stops before the gate and the driver tells the guard in accented Waloon, "Master Boniface of Ghent arriving to see the masters of Triamore. I believe he is expected." He looks back at the covered section, then shrugs. "Though I wouldn't be surprised if the fat slug forgot to tell them when he'd be arriving."
The guard laughs before signaling the wagon into the courtyard. Maurits cracks his whip again to coax the oxen in motion again, and soon the wagons is rolling under the gatehouse and into the outer bailey. It finally comes to a jerking stop before the the great hall. There is a loud crash from inside the wagon, followed by cursing. A small smile graces Maurits' taciturn face, but is quickly gone. He dismounts the wagon and makes his way to the back, where he pulls out an empty wooden box from the back of the wagon. A sturdy wooden box.
The tarp in the back is thrown open by a large pudgy hand. "AH! HELP me down, will you?" With some grunting and help from Maurits, the occupant steps down on the box as a step down from the wagon, then looks around at the courtyard.
The man is quite a sight, with burnt orange robes covering his bulk but not succeeding in hiding the expanse of the belly, while greenish-blue pants peek out from under the robes. The bare head is bald, while the well-shaven face wears a happy expression. From a well-shaped mouth comes a loud greeting, "HELLO TRIAMORE!!! IT IS SO VERY GOOD TO BE BACK!!!"
With the rotund and gaudy man delivered to the ground of the Triamore bailey, a handsome, green-eyed young woman in men's traveling clothes and a big dagger grabs her heavy panier and jumps from the wagon's box.
She takes off her floppy hat adorned by a spoon and a red feather in salute to him and says in Latin: Thanks for the ride! I guess that Maurits didn't wish to disturb you more than necessary. So I catch this occasion to introduce myself: I am Honorine Filia of Honors and a Redcap of the Order of Hermes.
Then she looks around.
As the guard appears to be the only servant of Triamore approachable, she calls out to him in the French of the channel coast: Please call the masters of Triamore and tell them, that Master Boniface of Ghent brought Honorine the Redcap with letters and books from Paris with him!
Boniface answers in Latin as well, switching from the Waloon (a dialect of French) he used to address the courtyard, "And greetings to you as well, young lady!!!" He bows to her in accompaniement to his words. "Always happy to be of service to the Redcaps! You mentioned books? May I be so bold as to ask the title and subject of these?"
Honorine hesitates, then answers: Master Boniface, thank you very much for the interest in my duty! Might I recommend, that you ask my load's adressees about its specifics?
While she is speaking, she looks around the bailey and towards the entries of the great hall.
"AH! Of course! Of course!" Bonifaces laughs, "I wouldn't want to impinge on the sacrosanct inviolability of the redcap's duties!"
If Honorine has no protection against the effects of the Gift, she cannot help but notice that Boniface's presence is quite overpowering, something she's noticed with the Gift of some magi.
Honorine needs to collect herself indeed, before replying It is the same inviolability we provide to your communications! I thank you for your appreciation!
As Maurits crosses her gaze, she quickly looks elsewhere.
Looking around to see if anyone is coming to greet them, and seeing no welcome commitee, Boniface shrugs before saying, "Well! They must be busy! Let us try to find Morris, then! Come, come!"
Noticing perhaps Homorine's discomfort, Boniface stops and asks, in a softer tone, "Are you all right? Wait, what an idiot I am! I am sorry! Would you like me to extend my Parma to you? I am told that my Gift can be somewhat unpleasant to others."