Moved to the wiki page.
Childhood and Early Life
Peter was born in the city of Cologne in Germany, the third son of a cobbler (a shoemaker specializing in repairing them). He spent a mostly normal childhood in the streets and back alleys of the city, for his Gift only begun manifesting itself when he was 8 years old. Thus, he was able to make friends his own age and learn his father's craft as his brothers did, although he wasn't very good at it. Even at that early age, though, he had a fascination for doors, archways and other stonework within the city's architecture. He would spend long hours perched on fortifications observing the townsfolk going about their business in the city.
The normal life changed as his Gift begun manifesting itself. Other children, even those who used to be his friends, stopped inviting him to play with them. Even his family became ill at ease with him. At the same time, his mind grew more inquisitive and his fascination for stone grew. His father's efforts to train him at his craft were met with limited success, for it was obvious that he had limited gifts for leathercraft. And with his brothers being much more talented in that area, Peter was often assigned to run errands through the city.
At the same time as he was becoming estranged from other youths his own age, Peter begun being plagued by strange events linked to the awakening of his Gift. Once, as he was being chased by older boys trying to bully him, he slipped through an archway to come out of another. Another time, a locked door opened itself to his touch while he was leaning against it.
This period of Peter' life changed forever the day when a man wearing a red cap came into his father's shop to get his boots repaired. When Peter was tasked with delivering the man's repair boots at his inn, the man asked him many strange questions. For some days later, he kept having the strange sensation that someone was either following or watching him...
A few months later, the man was back, with more repairs to be done. He asked specifically for Peter to deliver the repaired footwear. Another man was with him, a disturbing man who asked even more strange questions and muttered words in Latin to himself while examining Peter. The next day, the man with the red cap came back to Peter' father shop. After some discussions and negotiations, he took Peter away to apprenticeship.
Travelling with the redcap to the mountains in the South of Germany, Peter found himself living at Irminsul, a covenant in Saxony near the city of Paderborn where strange people lived. There he was apprenticed with the disturbing man from the inn, the magus Octavius of House Bonisagus. Bewildered by these sudden changes, and intimidated by the fact that his master was a sorcerer, he was at first unable to accept that one day he would also be one.
Those feeling passed quickly, as he was immediately put on a severe training schedule. First he was tutored in Latin, and had to learn to read and write, under a severe teacher who was quick to punish him. Once he was fluent enough to read by himself, he had to learn philosophy and mathematics, as well as the Hermetic Theory of magic. And throughout this period, he was also assigned chores and tasks by his master. Days began before the sun rose, and ended well after it set.
Eventually, when his letters were acceptable and his knowledge of Magic Theory sufficient, he was also put to work copying texts for his master. He was also taught strange and elaborate ceremonies, often exhausting and sometimes painful -- to open his Gift to the summon magical energies through old Mercurian rituals, ceremonies and customs.
After a few years of this regimen, he began assisting his master in his laboratory work. His apprenticeship became more fulfilling, as he became able to apply his newly-learned ability to work magic. While Octavius was himself a specialist in healing magic, he allowed Peter to develop a natural kinship with portals and an affinity with earth magic, while shaping him to the peculiar Mercurian tradition. But this meant that Peter was never able to truly master the full power of spontaneous magic. No matter, he was content to learn everything that his was taught, or told to learn. Delving into the intricacy of rituals, both ancient and new, was a delight to Peter.
After a decade of apprenticeship, Octavius brought Peter with him to Durenmar, to be further tutored in magic under different members of House Bonisagus. Still, even that tutelage failed to overcome a small flaw in his ability to master the full extent of Hermetic magic, so he remains weak in the art of Mentem. Another disappointment was that the initial manifestations of his Gift were tamed and diminished by the way Octavius awakened his Gift to Hermetic magic. He discovered this while trying to invent a new spell (Doorway to Doorway) to replicate his travelling through archways in the city, which proved much more difficult with Hermetic magic than it had been with his untrained Gift.
Shortly before passing his Gauntlet, while he was traveling for his pater in one of the deep forests of the Rhine tribunal, Peter met and was "adopted" by a magical cat. This wild cat apparently felt kinship with the young magus' magic due to its own magical powers of movement (it can teleport from one patch of shadow to another). It deigned to accept the name Rufus, given by Peter for the reddish highlights of its tawny stripped fur.
When he passed his Gauntlet, he received the name Petronius from his pater and offered a position of prestige in House Bonisagus, to work for the benefit of the Order. Now a full magus, Petronius has the overriding goal of recapturing his early abilities to travel by magic, and developping what he calls "Portal Magic".
Year 7 (1183 A.D.):
(Not determined yet nor taken into account in the character stats. Left as a buffer to take into account tasks required to set up the new covenant.)
Year 6 (1182 A.D.):
Travel again while finalizing his preparations for the founding of the new covenant. Advancement: 10 xp in Magic Theory, 10 xp in Intellego, 5 xp in Vim, 5 xp in Faerie Lore -- Warping: 1 point from active Longevity Ritual -- Aging: 9 (die roll) + 3 (age) - 13 (LR) = no apparent aging
Year 5 (1181 A.D.):
Move back to Octavius' covenant to help him design a more potent version of his longevity ritual, and Octavius designs a +13 longevity ritual for Petronius as well (Octavius has Creo 17, Corpus 19, Magic Theory 7+2, Int +2, Aura +2; Petronius adds Magic Theory 4+2, Int +3, Inventive Genius +3; Lab Total 61). Becomes a member of the Oak Gild. Gather resources for the new covenant. Advancement: 2 seasons of lab work, 6 xp in Magic Theory, 4 xp in Rego
Year 4 (1180 A.D.):
Continue search of Durenmar's library and finally gets lucky. Scribes a lab text related to his research on portals, as well as various notes of magi who may have done research on related subjects. Study his Arts. Advancement: 10 xp in Durenmar Lore, 11 xp in Creo, 9 xp in Corpus
Year 3 (1179 A.D.):
Spend the first part of the year still in Triamore, before traveling to Durenmar for the tribunal meeting. Remain in Durenmar for the rest of the year to search the library for references to other magi who have done research on portals. Advancement: 10 xp in Artes Liberales, 10 xp in Rego, 5 xp in Durenmar Lore, 5 xp in Code of Hermes
Year 2 (1178 A.D.):
Moved on to the covenant of Triamore, not very far away. Spends some time studying from its library as well as copying some texts. Continued discussions with correspondants about the formation of a new covenant. Advancement: 10 xp in Profession: Scribe, 10 xp in French, 5 xp in Teaching, 5 xp in Magic Lore
Year 1 (1177 A.D.):
Gauntleted in early Spring during a special ceremony at Durenmar, as the end of his apprenticeship fell between Tribunal meetings. Became a peregrinator, but remained at Durenmar for the rest of the season as he contacted various covenants and magi regarding a visit at a covenant. May have corresponded with or met some of the other PC magi at this time, and discussed the possibility of eventually forming a new covenant. In the Summer, travelled to a young covenant in the western part of the Tribunal, close to France. Remained at this covenant until the next Spring before moving on. Advancement: 10 xp in Order of Hermes Lore, 10 xp in Animal, 5 xp in French, 5 xp in Mastery of AotH
Petronius filius Octavius scholae Bonisagi Mercurii
Pater:Octavius filius Cassius scholae Bonisagi Mercurii
Appearance: Petronius is slightly taller than average, but without much musculature on his bony frame. He has pale brown hair that he usually wears short. He might go for days without shaving, simply because he forgets about it, leaving him with a thin and unimpressive beard. His brown eyes are fairly ordinary, above a mouth that is wider than most. Although not a graceful person, Petronius moves with energy and a quickness of limbs that reflect his decisive personality. He usually dresses in simple clothing, favouring dark colors (brown and grey are common) -- linen undertunic and breeches, knee-length wool tunics and striped chausses, and soft leather shoes lined with felt. When travelling, he also wears a crenelated chaperon. For formal hermetic occasion, he will choose bolder colors and add a mantle trimmed with gold embroidery to display small magical symbols of historical relevance.
Characteristics: Int +3, Per +1, Str -2, Sta 0, Pre 0, Com +2, Dex -1, Qik +1 -- (Total 7 points)
Height: 5'8'' Weight: 145 lbs Gender: Male
Virtues: The Gift, Hermetic Magus, Puissant Magic Theory (House), Mercurian Magic (major), Affinity w/Rego*, Affinity w/Terram*, Affinity w/Magic Theory*, Cautious Sorcerer, Inventive Genius, Minor Magical Focus w/Portals, Social Contacts (House Mercere) -- (Total 10 points)
Flaws: Deficient Perdo, Difficult Spontaneous Magic, Driven (major), Magical Animal Companion (Rufus the Cat), Mentor, Temperate -- (Total 10 points)
Personality Traits: Brave 0, Curious +2, Decisive +2, Driven (research) +4, Idealistic +1, Temperate +3
Abilities (Total 45+60+124 xp):
- Area Lore: Cologne (Archways) 2
- Artes Liberales (ritual magic) 1
- Athletics (climbing) 1
- Awareness (ambush) 2
- Bargain (footwear) 1
- Brawl (dodge) 1
- Charm (being witty) 1
- Code of Hermes (mundane relations) 1
- Concentration (observing people) 1
- Craft: Leatherwork (cobbler) 2
- Finesse (Terram) 1
- Folk Ken (townsfolk) 2
- Language: French (Norman) 2
- Language: High German (Cologne) 5
- Language: Latin (Hermetic usage) 4
- Magic Theory (inventing spells) 4*+2
- Order of Hermes Lore (House Bonisagus) 1
- Parma Magica (Mentem) 1
- Philosophiae (ritual magic) 1
- Profession: Scribe (Hermetic texts) 1
- Penetration (ritual magic) 1
- Stealth (hide) 1
Magical Arts (Total 116 xp): Cr 4, Re 9*, Co 8, Te 9*, Vi 4
Wizard's Sigil: Petronius' magic manifests as a slight disturbance of the senses, usually in the form of a tingling feeling by the target of the spell or a slight shimmering of the air in the area affected by his magic.
Spells (Total 120 level):
- Cloak of the Duck's Feathers (ReAq 5)
- Bind Wound (CrCo 10)
- Gentle Touch of the Purified Body (CrCo 20) ritual
- The Chirurgeon's Healing Touch (CrCo 20) ritual
- Doorway to Doorway (ReCo 15)
- Lamp Without Flame (CrIg 10)
- The Crystal Dart (MuTe 10, Re)
- Scales of the Magical Weight (InVi 5)
- Sense the Nature of Vis (InVi 5)
- Wizard's Communion (MuVi 20) free due to Mercurian Magic, D:Sun version suitable for rituals (effective level 10)
- Aegis of the Hearth (ReVi 20) ritual
Doorway to Doorway (ReCo 15)
R: Pers, D: Mom, T: Ind
By casting this spell and crossing a doorway, archway, or other similar opening, the magus transports himself (along with his possessions if casting requisites are used) instantly to another doorway that he has seen and crossed before and which is within 50 paces. The destination doorway does not need to be open for the spell to work, but the space on the choosen side of the doorway must be unobstructed.
Notes: This spell was designed by Petronius during his apprenticeship to replicate the early manifestations of his magical powers. This is when he noticed that conformation of his Gift to Hermetic Magic made it more difficult to move through portals, since it requires casting requisites for his possessions to be transported with him. Still, this spell is slightly unusual in that the caster does not have to actually see where he is teleporting -- he just needs to have crossed the destination opening to be able to teleport there, provided it is in range.
- Lab texts of all the spells Petronius knows (written in Petronius' script)
- Longevity ritual +12 (written in Octavius' personal script, which Petronius understands)
Unless you want it I was thinking all the texts we bring with us would be already translated
Yes, I know. But he still has his untranslated texts in his personal library.
Rufus the Cat
Magical Animal Companion of Petronius
Magic Might: 10 (Animal)
Characteristics: Int 0, Per +1, Str -7, Sta 0, Pre -2, Com -4, Dex +3, Qik +4
Confidence Score: 1 (3)
Basic Cat Virtues and Flaws: Perfect Balance, Puissant Awareness, Sharp Ears, Nocturnal
Basic Cat Qualities and Inferiorities: Ambush Predator, Crafty, Good Jumper, Skilled Climber, Thick Fur
Additional Virtues and Flaws: Magic Animal* (0), Unaffected by the Gift (+1), Magical Friend (+1), Personal Power x2 (+2), Reduced Might x3 (-3), Susceptible to Deprivation (-1)
*Includes the No Hands and Mute flaws
Personality Traits: Curious +4, Wild Cat +3**, Feral +1, Timid +1
**Essential personality trait
Claws (normal size): Init +3, Attack +10, Defense +12, Damage –5
Teeth (normal size): Init +4, Attack +10, Defense +9, Damage –6
Claws (increased size): Init +1, Attack +10, Defense +10, Damage –1
Teeth (increased size): Init +2, Attack +10, Defense +7, Damage –2
Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious
Normal size (-3): –1 (1–2), –3 (3–4), –5 (5–6), Incapacitated (7–8), Dead (9+)
Increased size (-1): –1 (1–4), –3 (5–8), –5 (9–12), Incapacitated (13–16), Dead (17+)
Abilities (Total 45+60+124 xp):
- Athletics (jumping) 3
- Awareness (at night) 4+2
- Brawl (claws) 4
- Folk Ken (covenfolk) 4
- Hunt (rodents) 4
- Language: Latin (listen only) 3
- Language: Low German (listen only) 3
- Stealth (stalking) 4
- Survival (mountain) 4
- Swim (streams) 2
Crossing the Treshold
0 points, Init: Qik–2, Animal, Terram
R: Pers, D: Mom, T: Ind
By moving through an opening of some kind (such as a door or a hole between rocks), Rufus can come out of a similar border anywhere within 50 paces from his point of origin. Any item carried or worn is transported along with him.
(30 personal power levels: Base 15, +1 for items carried along, -2 Might cost)
The Fur Like Stone
1 point, Init: Qik–1, Animal, Terram
R: Pers, D: Diam, T: Ind
The cat’s coat becomes resistant to damage. A Personal and Terram-oriented version of Doublet of Impenetrable Silk (ArM5, page 118.)
(10 spell levels: Base 4, +1 Diam, +1 req)
The Primal Cat
1 points, Init: Qik–1, Animal
R: Pers, D: Diam, T: Ind
Increases his Size by 2, which modifies Damage by +4, Defense by -2, and increase Wound levels by 2.
(10 spell levels: Base 4, +1 Diam, +1 for greater size)
“Com’on Peter, keep up,” Stefan yelled back as he ran into a back alley, splashing through the puddles left by last night’s rain, “they gonna’ catch us!”
Brown-haired Peter, running after his friend, crashed into a pile of firewood stacked into the alley. Bruised and struggling for air, he launched himself again after the receding boy. Stealing a glance above his right shoulder as he turned a corner, he caught a glance of their pursuers. Three boys from the docks were close, their angry faces red as they stumbled into the logs displaced by his own passage.
If only they were heading for the crafters’ quarter, it would be easy to lose the dock-boys in those familiar alleys! But Stefan and he had been caught off-guard by the young bullies, forced to run southward instead of north, and the streets were unfamiliar here. Peter was gasping now, his taller friend no longer visible. Turning in the next alley, he yelps as a hand reaches out to grab him and pull him between stacks of broken crates. “Shsss! Keep quiet,” says Stefan as the bigger boy pulls him into this hiding place. “And keep still!” Stefan adds, just as the sound of the dock-boys coming into the alley finally overwhelms Peter’s pounding heart.
“I saw that li’le rat come in here, guys! We have them, this not go no’where,” the older boy calls to his stooges. “We let ‘em know not’o come in our terr’tory no more!” All three move into the alley, past Stefan’s and Peter’s hiding place.
The two crafter boys wait in silence, holding their breath as they wait for the dock boys to move further into the alley. But Peter, still gasping from the chase, cannot hold his breath for long. Far too soon he draws a loud breath. Too loud!
“Wait! I hurd som’thing,” the last boy calls after his buddies.
“No choice, run,” Stefan whispers to Peter as he pushes his friend out of their hiding place. Thus the chase starts anew, this time with Peter in the front and trying to navigate his way out of the unfamiliar neighbourhood. The nature of the buildings change suddenly, from small shops and modest houses to more upscale buildings, with small arches forming the opening of side streets, and less crowded streets.
With all his thoughts bent on getting away, Peter barely feels the tingle as he slips through one of those arches… and run straight into a fat man appearing out of nowhere in his path! Stunned by the impact, Peter tries to recover as he rolls to the ground. It takes a few moments for him to see straight again, as the man yells invectives at him, then kicks him before moving off. Peter picks himself up from the ground, nursing bruised ribs and looking around for Stefan.
Looking back into the alley from which he came from, Peter frowns. The alley is unfamiliar. Of course, he was running and not truly paying attention to his surroundings, but he would have bet the alley he had been running in was much shorter. Taking another look around now, he is pretty sure he now knows where he is. But it doesn’t make sense! That market is north, close to St. Ursula’s church – not anywhere near the docks. And where is Stefan, not to mention their pursuers?
Shaking his head, Peter starts walking home. Father would be angry enough for him being so late. Still, he wonders how he could have gotten so turned around there.
Later that day, Peter goes to Stefan’s house as he usually does when his chores are done. Stefan’s face is puffed up and he moves slowly, but his first words to Peter are angry. “Where were you? Why didn’t you wait for me like I did for you?” As Peter tries to explain what happened in the alley, Stefan’s hot words cut him off. “Why do you bother making him up a story like that? Coward! You must have hid away and let them chase after me!”
From there, things go downhill. Finally, Stefan pushes Peter away hard, sending the smaller boy stumbling to the ground. “And don’t bother coming back. I should’ve listened to Hans when he said you were a cheating liar.”
Stunned for a moment by his friend’s words, it takes a moment for Peter’s tears to start flowing. After that, he just runs away.
On his way back from the docks, Peter swung north along the Rhine river. He always made sure to make his way along the old fortifications that protected the city there. The numerous arches there made it easier to slip away when the street gangs tried to follow him. And he just liked the feel of those old stones.
He still didn’t understand exactly how it was that, when crossing one archway he could come out of another farther away. Still, it was handy to be able to do so, since other children his age no longer wanted to hang out with him. Stefan had been the last of his friends, but since last summer he had made it clear that whatever link they’d shared was now gone.
What’s wrong with me, wondered Peter. Turning away from the river, he made toward his dad’s shop. Even his brothers were distant and cold now. He could see that his father and mother were trying to act normal, but he felt it anyway, that stiffening whenever he touched them. His father had even stopped trying to train him to be a cobbler like himself. That made Peter sad, even though he was no good at it. He mostly made deliveries or went to fetch things for the shop now.
“You’re back,” his mother stated as he into the back yard behind the shop, where she was gathering herbs from the small garden there for the evening’s pot. “We need more water,” she added.
The buckets were heavy and kept slopping around, so usually Peter didn’t fill them completely. Better to make one more trip than have to stop every five paces to put them down, Peter figured.
“Make way!” The carriage driver called as he drove his cart through the narrow street. Peter quickly moved out of the way, but most of the water sloshed to the dirt street as he barely avoided being run down. Sighing, Peter turned back towards the well. Too bad there’s no archways around, that would cut down the distance he had to carry his buckets. If only he could cut across…
Peter paused before the closed door leading to the private courtyard, looking around to make sure no one was watching. He knew from his climb on neighbouring trees that this courtyard had another door on the other side, much closer to the well. What if…?
The door was locked. Oh well, it had been worth checking. Leaning against the door while he rested a little bit, Peter closed his eyes a bit. Feeling the tingle again…
His eyes snapped open as he heard the lock turn. Stumbling away from the door, he turned, expecting it to open. When nothing happened, he cautiously pushed at the door, which swung open…
"Those are ready to be delivered," stated Mathias as he plopped the pair of boots he'd been repairing on Peter's work bench. "The man said he'd be living at Marie's inn across from St. Kolumba. He's already paid in full, and his name is Clemens." With that, Peter's older brother turns back to his next piece of work.
After cleaning his work bench and racking the tools he'd been using to punch holes into the thicker leather of shoe soles, Peter picked up the boots. The late summer weather was warm and sunny, so he just put on his walking shoes, took up the boots and was gone. He didn't like working alongside his brothers anyway. Whatever discussion they held between themselves died out as soon as Peter joined them in the workshop, and the silence got oppressive after a while.
It didn't take him long to get to the inn. It was one of the older ones in the city, catering mostly to visiting merchants who could afford to stay here. Peter went into the common room, blinking a little as his eyes adjusted to the transition between the bright sun and the much darker room. Lunch was about to be served, so there were quite a few men sitting at the tables. Shuffling through the room, he reached the counter by the kitchen entrance, where a matronly woman he assumed was Marie was directing her pair of youths installing a full barrel of ale into its brackets. "You better tell your dad that if he sells another bad barrel like that last one, I'll switch to another supplier!"
Once the barrel was in place and the youths gone with what looked like a still-full barrel, the woman turned her eye to Peter. "What do you need, boy?" Her tone was neutral, which was a notch above what Peter was getting used to from strangers.
"I was told to bring those to one of your patrons, ma'am, a man called Clemens?"
Wiping her hands on her apron, Marie nodded to the side, “Over there, by the window, the man with the red cap.” Peter nodded his thanks, and moved between the tables until he reached the designated table.
The man sitting beside the window was middle-aged, probably in his late thirties, with the weathered skin Peter had seen on those who spent more time outside than in. His dark blond hair and beard were slightly sprinkled with a grey, and though his body seemed trim and fit he also had that well-fed look that one associated with well-off people. The tell-tale red cap perched on his head was more of a reddish-brown.
“Ha, milord, I was sent to deliver your boots by my da’, the cobbler.” Peter was unsure on how to address then man, so he stammered a bit. Blue eyes swung to look at him distractedly. Then, focusing on him, the man tilted his head to one side and raised an eyebrow.
“Put them down there, please,” as he pointed beside the table. Peter complied and turned to go. There was something disturbing about those eyes. “What’s your name, boy?” The words were spoken with an unfamiliar accent, something Peter couldn’t quite place, but certainly not a native of Cologne.
Peter stopped dead in his tracks, “Peter, milord.”
“Sit, Peter,” said Clemens. Peter looked at him, then at the door.
“I got chores to do, m’lord, so I better go,” Peter hesitated. He couldn’t just leave and alienate a customer of his father, but well-off people didn’t invite poor people to their table like that. Looking at the man again, his eyes widened as he saw him reaching for his side. And widened some more as a silver Pfennig was laid on the table.
“Sit,” Clemens repeated. As Peter complied, Clemens raised his hand to catch a serving woman’s attention. Peter didn’t understand the sign the man made before he his gaze turned back to Peter. “So, Peter, how old are you?”
The discussion that followed was strange and a bit disturbing. Clemens asked him about his family, his friends and his chores. For some reason, Peter couldn’t help but answer, held by those commanding blue eyes. This frightened him at first but, as Clemens moved the subject to the city itself, Peter felt much more at ease. Talking about the old stones of the city always made Peter happy, although most people couldn’t be bothered to listen to him. Not only did Clemens listen throughout lunch (a plate had appeared before Peter as well), but thereafter Clemens asked him to show him the spots he liked most.
At the end of the afternoon, Clemens sent Peter home, with one silver Pfennig hidden in his right shoe and a second one for his father, along with a tale of serving as a guide to the customer.
The late autumn rain slowly trickled inside Peter’s cloak as he sat in the barge, still in shock over the upheaval of his life. Only yesterday, he’d been running his errands in the streets of Cologne. Less frequent ones, to be sure, since business had slowed since the summer as uncertainty over the papal dispute in the south made the people of the city less willing to spend coins. But nothing that presaged such a drastic change to his life.
Was it only yesterday that he had made that fateful delivery to Maria’s? To the same Clemens who now sat across from him on the barge, also bundled into a cloak that literally seemed to shed off rain, not becoming soaked by it like Peter’s was.
It had seemed strange enough that Peter had been asked for by name for the delivery. He should have known this was a bad sign. But the golden-faired man had been friendly the previous time, if a tad strange with all his questions. And he had been friendly as well this time around. His companion, however…
At first glance, Clemens’ companion looked like a prosperous foreign merchant, with silver rings on his fingers and expensive robes over an ample belly. Not fat, exactly, but certainly well-fed and rich. In the limited light within the inn, his hair and narrow beard looked black, as did his eyes.
“Sit down, Peter,” invited the Clemens. As with last time, Peter felt compelled to sit with the red-capped man. The inn was much quieter this morning; as with the rest of the city, Maria’s must be feeling the bite of uncertain times. “This is meister Octavius,” continued Clemens smoothly, as if unaware of the growing unease Peter felt, “who is passing through Cologne while on his way home.”
“That’s the boy?” Octavius’ abrupt question grates on Peter’s frayed nerves. At Clemens’ nod, the dark-haired man leans forward and grasps Peter’s chin with his thin hand, turning his head this way and that. “Be still,” hisses the man when Peter begins to struggle, looking into his eyes. Peter feels his body grow immobile, though the dark pools of the man’s eyes made him want to scream in terror. His soul was being stolen!
Octavius mutters some words in Latin as he makes strange signs, the air growing stuffy despite the open shutters. Then the questions begin…
“Don’t worry,” says Octavius in Latin as Peter leaves the inn, “he won’t be able to tell anyone what happened here. Or what little he understood of it, at least. I put a compulsion on him that will prevent him from doing so, at least for a time. Long enough for you to arrange for”
Clemens nods, “So I take it that the lad is suitable for your purposes, magister?” He takes a sip from his mug of ale, waiting for the magus to reach a decision.
After a moment, it is Octavius’ turn to nod, “He will do. He’s a bit old, and I would have preferred a more educated background.” A small grimace, “But I’ve waited long enough before taking an apprentice as it is. His Gift seems strong enough, at least. Whether he can be trained remains to be seen. Anyway, I thrust you can arrange to obtain the lad with a minimum of fuss?”
“Of course,” says the Redcap, “for the agreed-upon fee. I will need the silver now, but the rest can wait until I return with the lad. You mentioned that preferred for me to bring him to your covenant?”
“Yes, I will travel directly home and arrange for his tutors while you travel,” Octavius drops a heavy purse on the table as he rises. The magus doesn’t seem to notice the quick look Clemens gives to the other customers of the inn as he makes the purse disappear. Luckily, none seem to be paying the pair any attention.
“Very well, I should be there within the month,” replies Clemens to the departing magus.
“…seen like this, sure is…”
“…with father. Heard him … by name…”
His brothers’ whispers only register dimly with Peter as he sits at his workbench sharpening and oiling his tools. His mind is still in a fog -- he doesn’t even remember walking back home from Marie’s inn.
Suddenly his father is standing by his side, talking. “… has agreed to take you on as an apprentice. God knows I’ve tried teaching you my trade, but… well, with work so slow… this will be much better for you.”
The rest of the day is a blur, as your mother helps you back your clothing and few personal belongings. After that, the walk back to the inn, dinner with no-so-watered ale and uneasy drunken sleep. In the morning, the boy follows the red-capped Clemens to the docks, under a sky threatening rain, boarding the barge.
That threat of rain had become a reality shortly after the barge had cast off its moorings and begun following the river.
“M’lord,” the drenched boy finally speaks, “where are we going?” His voice cracks a little at the end, while the rain hides any tears that may have flowed from his eyes. Clemens looks at Peter for a moment before answering, his face sympathetic.
“We’ll go down the river for a while, until we get to the Lippe.” At Peter’s uncomprehending look, he adds, “That’s one of the big rivers that flow into this one. About 50 miles downstream, it is.”
“Then we travel up the Lippe until we get to Paderborn. I assume you’ve never heard of it?” A shake from Peter’s head confirms Clemens’ assumption. Since the boy seemed calmer, he decides to keep talking.
“Well, it’s a city, although smaller than Cologne itself. There are many springs around it, which feed the river. The cathedral is impressive.” Pointing to the steep banks of the Rhine, barely visible through the rains, he adds, “The country is not like here, though. Much more flat. Here you have plenty of hills and valleys.”
For Peter, who’s never given much thought about things outside of the city walls, these descriptions are fascinating. Clemens continues, “Of course, that doesn’t mean there is no terrain features at all. Plenty of low hills, particularly when if you go east into the Teutoburg Forest. Ever heard of it? Didn’t think so!”
“It is said that in ancient times, before the Roman legions left Germany, a battle took place in that forest. The story goes thus.” Clemens takes a moment to collect his thoughts, or perhaps just for effect. Peter, his plight forgotten for the moment, waits avidly for the story.
“At that time, the Romans were led by a noble called Varus. Varus had been sent to consolidate and expand the province of Germania under the rule of Rome. He had control of thousands of men in his army. One of his advisors was the son of a German chieftain, Hermann, who had been sent to Rome as a hostage, receiving a military education and eventually coming back to Germany to serve under Varus.”
“Now, you have to understand that Varus was a cruel man. He was known for his ruthlessness and for crucifying those who rose against Rome. The German tribes at the time were fragmented and did not trust each other.”
“But young Hermann had not forgotten his German roots. So he plotted in secret, meeting with different tribe chieftains and forging an alliance between them. Their goal was to throw off Varus’ tyranny and cruelty.”
“And so young Hermann planned and prepared. When he was ready, he told Varus of reports of an uprising. Varus, eager to crush these rebels, and led his army through unfamiliar territory. Hermann, under the guise of leaving to gather support from subjugated Germans to support the Romans, joined his troops and led them against Varus.”
“The night before the battle started, heavy rain had fallen -- some say called by the Germanic tribes’ sorcerers. No matter, this rain made the narrow tracks within the forest muddy and prevented the Romans from using their bows. The Roman army was stretched over miles within the forest, so when the tribes attacked it was devastating. Roman discipline, however, prevented them from breaking. They reformed; they fought; they broke through. They were attacked again and again, but refused to yield. The battles lasted for days.”
“But Hermann knew all the tricks of the Roman, having studied them when he was young. So he could counter them every time, keeping Varus’ army contained within the forest. The Germanic tribes were more numerous. In the end, the tribes prevailed. Varus killed himself with his own sword, in the way the Roman generals did at the time when defeated.”
“It is said that over 10,000 Roman soldiers were killed during that battle. Their bones still litter the forest floor. So if you ever visit the Teutoburg, be careful where you step…”
The city of Paderborn slowly appeared on the horizon as the muddy dirt road led them east through farmland generously laced by small streams. They’d been walking for a week now, ever since Clemens had indicated that this would be faster than hitching a ride on the boats slowly making their way up the river Lippe. As he had explained, the boats were a good way to great to transport goods to Paderborn, but they were slow to make their way against the current.
The first thing to appear was the towers of the cathedral. Next was the imperial palace. One of Clemens’ many tales had been about how, sixty years ago, a great fire had destroyed both of these buildings, along with parts of the city. Peter was unsurprised by the facts, but still fascinated by the tale and how Clemens related events from such a long time ago. Himself city-born, he was well aware of how dangerous fire could be in a city. But at nine years of age, tales of things that had happened so long ago were simply amazing.
“Almost there, lad,” Clemens said, “once we get to the city, we only have half a day’s walking to do before we get to your new home.”
The red-capped man’s encouragement was two-edged. On the one hand, Peter was tired from such the long trip and would welcome its end. He had never dreamed of travelling so far from his home-city. And he would soon need new shoes, as the ones he was wearing were wearing out. Nevertheless, traveling with Clemens had been an enlightening experience, while the man’s many tales had been quite entertaining.
On the other hand, the mention of a new home reminded him of his old one. Although he had not been close to his brothers or even his parents in recent years, he still missed them. Even more, strangely, he missed the city and its old stones.
Clemens’ words proved true. After making their way through the city, the pair had made their way along a small river. The appearance of the land quickly changed, with cultivated land being gradually dotted with more patches of wood. In the distance, thickly wooded hills appeared.
Leaving the river behind, they’d made their way along a beaten path. The path led them between two arms of hilly forest, to a small village. In the middle of the village rose a mast from which a green flag fluttered, even though Peter could feel little of the breeze from where he stood. The flag had some sort of symbol on it, some kind of white pole with two branches extending to each side at the top.
Clemens led them in the village until they reached a large two-story stone house. The front yard of the house was paved with stone; an unusual thing from what Peter had seen in other villages they’d gone through in the past few days. This was apparently their destination, for Clemens opened the door without knocking and went inside, Peter following him.
A loud voice greets them, “Clemens! It’s been a while, how are you my friend?” Although the inside was well-lit, it takes Peter a few moments before he is able to clearly discern the speaker, a tall woman who advances to hug Clemens. Her words were hard for him to understand, for she spoke in Saxon, strangely accented to Peter who was used to his native Franconian. Her hair was held in a braid, light brown slightly shot with grey, and her face held a friendly grin. Peter ogled as he realized that she was dressed as a man would – wool breeches, shirt and a leather vest. A dagger even hung from her belt.
“Too long, I agree. I’ve been kept busy with dispatches, as well as scouring the country for useful information. Plus, magister Octavius asked me to find him an apprentice. Which I finally did,” Clemens turned, “This is Peter. Peter, meet my good friend Margerethe.”
Margarethe looks at the boy with twinkling eyes, “So old kill-joy has finally decided to take an apprentice! Well, that should enliven the place a little.” Then, clapping Peter’s shoulder, which almost made him stumble, “Nice to meet you, Peter! I hope you enjoy our little stretch of the woods!” Turning back to Clemens, she asks, “Will you be staying long? I can have the staff prepare you a room…”
“I’m not sure yet,” replied Clemens, “I have to see what dispatches are waiting for me, and Peter here needs to be settled down. I’ll probably be here only for a few days.” A short pause while he looks at Margarethe, “As for a room, last time’s accommodations would certainly agree with me if it’s ok with you…”
A wide grin splits Margarethe’s face, “Charmer! Off be ‘ye, get the boy settled down and we’ll see what we can arrange. I think Octavius isn’t back yet, but talk to Mathias. I’m sure he has something prepared for the boy.”
Leaving the big house, Clemens now leads Peter down the street to a smaller stone cottage with large windows, further away in the village. There, they are welcomed by an elderly couple in their fifties, who are introduced as Mathias and Ursula. After making the presentations, Clemens explains, “I believe Octavius intended you to get started with the boy in Latin, Mathias. I assume he mentioned this to you?”
“Well, he had said he wanted me to tutor him for a few seasons, but had not told me when to expect the boy. No matter,” the old man shakes his head, “the boy will stay here for at least a little while. I’ll start teaching him.”
From the hearth where she was stirring a pot, Ursula comments, “Pfff! I wager that the boy will stay here for some time. I doubt Octavius took the time to even prepare a place for him to sleep!” From the rolling eyes and knowing expressions, the two men seem to agree.
“Anyway, can you take him on straight away? I have to go to Irminsul to deliver some messages. But,” he adds at Peter’s look of distress, “I’ll come back to the village for dinner. I should be here for a few days at least. Some of those messages will have answers.”
The next winter had Peter so busy he could almost, at times, forget the melancholy of leaving his family behind. His time is mostly spent under the tutoring of Mathias. The old man teaches him Latin, soon forcing Peter to apply himself by speaking mostly in that language to him. Ursula also takes a hand by having him practice everyday words while she cooks, mends, cleans and gardens.
Octavius comes to visit him a few times, but spends most of his time talking with Mathias in Latin, discussing the progress Peter made in Latin. Otherwise, the man is brusque and disturbing to Peter.
The village itself is also a recurring source of surprise to Peter as he explores it. It seemed to be called Irminsul, although the name was apparently also used for another place nearby. Despite its small size, this felt more like a small town than a peasants’ village. There were farmers and labourers, to be sure, but they seemed much better off than those he had seen during the trip from Cologne. They were healthier, as if food was not hard to come by even in the winter like now. They were also quite organized. Some of them had weapons and were being trained. Many craftsmen worked within the village, from a blacksmith to a maker of parchment.
And there were Mathias and Margarethe. Mathias was obviously well-educated, with many books within his small cottage. Margarethe seemed to be the one in charge of the weapons training. What were they doing in a small village? Who and where was their lord?
And so time passes quickly, with Peter’s knowledge of Latin improving steadily under Mathias and Ursula’s tutelage. Some of the words seem a bit strange to the young boy, expressions in Latin that are completely outside of village life. Nevertheless his tutors insist that he learn the nuances of those. Spring comes and Mathias adds writing to Peter’s lessons.
One day, Octavius visits with a man and a woman, whom Peter has seen before in the village, but only from afar. They are all ushered to Mathias’ study and set up a large document on the work table, along with a seal and red wax.
“Magister Albertus, Tyro Caprasia, this lad is Peter, born a cobbler in Cologne. I formally take Peter as my discipulus.” This is spoken in Latin and the two answer Octavius in the same language, “We bear witness to this, under the provisions of the Peripheral Code.” As those words are spoken, Octavius motions to Mathias. The old man approaches with a pair of scissors, and before Peter realizes what’s happening, clips a lock f hair from his head. He hands it out to the man named Albert, who affixes it to the document with wax. After which all three of the visitor sign the document.
Soon enough, they are gone, leaving a puzzled Peter behind. Mathias spends the rest of the day trying to explain to Peter that this was his formal acceptance as an apprentice to Octavius, witnessed by his peers. Apparently, the lock of hair was a tradition in their guild for such a formal acceptance. Despite the long and convoluted explanations, Peter remains bewildered. Not by what Mathias explains, but rather by what he seems to leave out.
A few weeks later, Octavius comes to fetch Peter to begin his apprenticeship in the Order of Hermes.
This is a description of Petronius' pater. The stats are only fragmentary, and will be fleshed out as needed.
Octavius filius Cassius scholae Bonisagi Mercurii
Appearance: Octavius is slightly shorter than average and slightly overweight, with dark brown straight hair and dark brown eyes. He wears a carefully tended beard. His usual clothing are similar to those of a wealthy merchant (mediteranean style), with silver rings adorning his fingers and a silver bead holding his goatee in a small braid.
Last Update: 1181
Age: 72 (apparent age 46)
Height: 5'5'' Weight: 160 lbs Gender: Male
Confidence: 1 (3) Warping: 4 (0 point) Decrepitude: 0
Characteristics: Int +2, Per 0, Str 0, Sta +1, Pre +1, Com +2, Dex 0, Qik -1
Virtues: The Gift, Hermetic Magus, Puissant Magic Theory (House), Mercurian Magic (major), Cautious Sorcerer, Minor Magical Focus w/Healing, Social Contacts (magi), Puissant Corpus, Puissant Creo, Special Circumstances (touching target), Subtle Magic
Flaws: Ambitious (major), Creative Block, Deficient Perdo, Short-Ranged Magic
Personality Traits: Ambitious +4, Scheming +2
Abilities (incomplete list):
- Area Lore: Durenmar (library) 3
- Area Lore: Saxony (ports) 3
- Artes Liberales (ritual magic) 4
- Bargain (vis) 3
- Code of Hermes (political intrigue) 3
- Concentration (spells) 3
- Finesse (Corpus) 2
- Folk Ken (magi) 2
- Guile (pretending to care) 2
- Language: Low German (Saxon) 5
- Language: Latin (Hermetic usage) 5
- Leadership (Oak Gild) 2
- Magic Lore (creatures) 2
- Magic Theory (Corpus) 7+2
- Medecine (anatomy) 2
- Order of Hermes Lore (politics) 3
- Parma Magica (Mentem) 4
- Penetration (Corpus) 3
- Philosophiae (ritual magic) 3
- Profession: Scribe (Hermetic texts) 2
- Teaching (apprentices) 1
Magical Arts: Cr 17, In 10, Mu 8, Pe 5, Re 12, An 5, Aq 5, Au 5, Co 19, He 8, Ig 5, Im 7, Me 11, Te 9, Vi 14
- Most healing spells
- A number of Corpus transportation spells
- A good number of utilitatian spells
- Various version of Aegis
- Many Mentem and Vim spells
- Wizard's Communion at up to level 50
(Journal entries made in 1163 A.D.)
September 17th: [i]While teaching me my letters, Mathias encouraged me to start a personal journal. He said it would help me improve my writing. It would also help me remember my experiences when I’m older. I did not really take him seriously at the time. But now, after these last few days, it seems like good advice. So here I am. I will try to catch up on what happened lately.
At the beginning of the month, Master Octavius sent for me. Mathias walked me to his home. It is not in the village, it is in the forest. We followed a path that I had never seen. We walked a little while. It led to a clearing in the forest. In the center of the clearing was a dead tree, with not many branches on it. The shape of it was like the letter “T”. It reminded me of the flag that flies above the village.
Around the clearing, there were large houses between the trees. Mathias led me to one, where Master Octavius lives. This is where I live now. I have a room for me alone. It has a bed, a chest for clothing, a stool and a small table. Such luxury!
But then, Master Octavius is a wizard. And I am his apprentice now. He told me I will be a wizard like him one day, if I survive my apprenticeship.[/i]
September 23rd: [i]I met the other wizards again. Albertus, he is equal to Octavius. Both are masters. Master Albertus is tall, with dark hair. He looks severe and cruel, like a noble. Octavius say he is an important man. The other wizard is Caprasia. She is very strange and looks like a witch. Octavius say she is a tyro – a journeyman wizard – less powerful than him and Albertus.
I cannot get out of the house alone. I think Master Octavius put a spell on me to prevent me from leaving.[/i]
October 12th: [i]I could not write for a while. I was in the laboratory of Master Octavius. He says he is opening my “gift” for magic. He led me inside a circle engraved on the floor and told me to stay there. He lit candles and incense around me. Then he goes around the circle for hours, muttering words. Strange feelings I felt, at times hot or cold, or dizzy. I fainted a few times, or fell asleep.
Other times he had me read strange words over and over while in the circle. I said them wrong, but he corrected me again and again. He had me light candles, smell different kinds of incense. Draw symbols on the ground, on pieces of slate, or even on my skin.
He also had me do my tricks, like slipping from one door to another and unlocking doors. He had me doing them often, frowning all the time. At times I could not do it.
This went on for days. Sometimes he left me to sleep in the circle. Others I was so tired I fell asleep as soon as I got back to my room.[/i]
October 30th: The shaping of my Gift goes well, according to Master Octavius. It is slow and often painful, but I will make him proud. He said I had to unlearn bad habits from doing things myself. It is not the proper way to work magic. I don’t understand why he says that. But he is the Master and I am just the apprentice. To become a great wizard like him I have to listen and obey.
OOC Note: When Octavius opened Peter to the Hermetic Arts, he had to force his Gift and reshape it so that he could impose the Mercurian Magic tradition on the boy. This damaged his innate abilities to transport himself through doorways and manipulate objects at a distance. After Octavius was done, all that remained of those innate abilities were the affinities in Rego and Terram magic, as well as a Minor Magical Focus with Portals. That was despite repeated attempts by Octavius to force a Magical Focus in healing on the boy’s Gift. The failure left Octavius frustrated, for he had wanted his apprentice to be much like himself.
A sliver of light, shining between the closed shutters, slowly creeped over Peter's body as he slept. As it reached his face, the youth snorted awake and brought a hand to shield his sleep-encrusted eyes. Slowly waking up, he luxuriated in the feeling of having slept in for once. The last few months spent assisting his master for long hours in the lab, on a project stretching Octavius' capabilities, had taken its toll on the young apprentice. Now that his master had left for a few weeks, Peter was catching up on sleep.
Of course, he still had chores to do, as well a studying and assignments. Well, better get to it. With a yawn, Peter rose and slipped on a long tunic on. The tunic was starting to get a bit tight, and its sleeves too short. At the age of 14, he was finally growing up a little. Or getting taller, at least, for he was still spindly. At least his status as a wizard's apprentice was protecting him from the bigger and stronger boys from the village. Kind of. At least they didn't dare leave a mark on him for Octavius to see. Not after one of them had been whipped for breaking his arm two years ago. Now, they mostly left him alone. That still left him with no friend his own age.
He didn't mind too much. He found most youths his age rather dull and stupid, interested only in drinking and flirting with girls when they weren't working in the fields or at their father's shop, or training to become grogs. As for girls, well... Peter found them somewhat intriguing, but what few advances he had made were either rebuffed or ridiculed.
Anyhow, for now he had a text that he'd had trouble with, that he wanted to see Mathias about. He'd clean up a little first, then make his way to the village to see the old man. Ursula always had some food around, so he might be able to beg some breakfast out of her.
A few hours later Peter is walking along the forest path towards Octavius' house when he hears voices ahead. Recognizing one to be Master Albertus, he quickly ducks into the brush. The severe Jerbiton Quaesitor was always criticizing him, and looked at him as if he was some dirty animal, so Peter avoided him as much as possible.
From his hiding place, Peter listens as Albertus and another man walk by quickly, talking all the while. Only a few sentences are audible as the pair goes by "...so that we ca... sure of this? The magi of Oculus Septentrionalis were supposed to be watchful against... not fraternizing with... and merchants..." Soon enough, the two men are moving away. His heart pounding, Peter waits a few more moments before rising from concealment, brushing away dirt from his breeches and tunic.
"It's a good thing Albertus didn't see you."
Peter yelps as he tries to turn towards the soft voice, only to trip on a fallen tree trunk. Stars shoots through his brain as his elbow connects with a rock.
"Here, here, let me help you. Be careful, these helleborine flowers are delicate." Hands help him up, pulling him to the side a bit so that he would spare pinkish flowers that were the first thing his eyes see, through a shimmer of unshed tears at the pain in his elbow. Turning his head, he realizes who is helping him stand. "Lady Caprasia! I... hmm... what... sorry... I wasn't..." Peter felt his face heat up as he tries to formulate an explanation.
With a soft laugh, Caprasia shakes her green-haired head. "Don't worry, I won't tell him. It's just that he would have tought you were spying, and that would have been trouble for you." Something very much like mischief sparkles in her eyes as she continues, "Albertus always takes things too seriously and always expects the worst in others." Tilting her head slightly, she adds, "Not that there was anything particularly sensitive in what he was discussing, anyway."
She turns towards the forest, and her glance encourages Peter to walk with her. "So, how goes your apprenticeship?" Slowly at first, then with more enthusiasm as she slowly make him feel more at ease, Peter goes into more and more details about his daily life and what he is learning. Hours and miles go by while the pair walk deeper into the forest.
Then, looking up as he pauses for breath, any though of his apprenticeship leave Peter as he notice the small clearing before them. He gapes for a few seconds at the large trees towering over them, all of them different but all sharing a palpable presence.
"Where are we?" Peter's voice sounds like a raven's caw as it breaks halfway through.
"Friends," replies Caprasia softly, "who wanted to meet you."
What follows is a very strange experience for Peter. In turn, Caprasia brings him to each of the immense trees, but also smaller ones nestling between the giants. She has him touch their bark and their leaves, explaining their nature and greeting them as friends. Each time Peter touched one of them, a slightly different feeling filled him. Tingling magical energy questing, searching and examining him. Completely non-human, but more awe-inspiring for precisely that reason. Oak, holly and alder, powerful and noble. Ash, aspen and yew, somber and dark. Beech, rowan, aspen and birch. Any many more, too many to have fit within such a small clearing, but nevertheless all present.
In the end, Peter's eyes were dropping from fatigue when he finally sits down to eat some fruits and nuts with Caprasia. Sleep claimed him before he noticed his eyes closing.
Waking up with a start, Peter is a bit disoriented at first. He is no longer in the clearing, but lying on soft ground between the roots of a tree and a large rock. Rising to his feet, he looks around for Caprasia, but sees nothing but trees all around. Normal trees, not the powerful figures of the clearing.
At the rustling of leaves, Peter turns to see Caprasia slipping through the dense brush to his left.
"Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, maga, thank you. Where are we? What happened? I'm not sure I understand..."
"The forest wanted to meet you. It is only normal that neighbours get to know each other a little, isn't it?" Small dimples form on her cheeks, "The forest is vast and has many shapes. It shelters many living things, including us. Some of them follow the current, while others fight it. All return to it in the end. For you, for now, the path is to walk back to where the forest ends. But it is just the beginning for you, so do not fear. You have been weighted and in your innocence found a friend. A gift it will provide you, when both of you are ready to depart."
"For now, your path forward is back." With that, she points towards a small game path through the wood. She chants softly and picks up a flower, casting it afloat in the air. "Follow this flower home."
The flower flitters away between branches and Peter follows. A few hours later, he comes out of the forest into the clearing of Irminsul.
I've added an image of what I imagine Petronius looks like on the wiki.
Petronius has one virtue (Social Contacts) and one flaw (Mentor) that will have much impact into the amount of resources he can possibly have access to. So I figure I should talk briefly about how I envision them having an effect both on stories and what he'll have access to outside of stories.
The Mentor flaw (Minor, Story) represents his pater's (Octavius) continued manipulation of Petronius as a tool for his political purposes. Since a tool is only as useful as what it can do, Octavius will help Petronius obtain some resources to improve his filius' capabilities. Although Octavius was disappointed that he could not shape his apprentice into the same specialty, he now sees how having a Terram specialist can be useful by providing services to his allies. So he will provide Petronius with easier access to lab texts for Terram spells that are useful to covenants or individuals interested in building things, and then direct Petronius to assist his allies, or deny such services to his enemies.
Let's take an example. At some point, Octavius will provide a lab text for Conjuring the Mystic Tower to be learned quickly, so that Petronius can then cast the spell for an ally. That saves the ally some vis, makes it easier for Petronius to learn the spell, and gives Octavius more political goodwill. Once Petronius knows such a spell, Octavius may call him to use it again for another ally in exchange for a small payment in vis (1 pawn).
The result is that Petronius will occasionally be disturbed from his research to assis Octavius, called to travel away from Laurus Argenti and lose lab time. In exchange, he gets access to lab texts (which he won't be allowed to share with the covenant unless he scribes them from memory) and some raw vis.
The Social Contacts (House Mercere) virtue (Minor, General) represents numerous and ongoing relations with members of House Mercere, both Gifted ones and non-Gifted redcaps.
For the Gifted Mercere (particularly the members of the Mercurian lineage), this is usually through correspondence with the occasional visit. They will be quite interested in his research on portals, although not enough to share the secrets of Mercere Portals. Nevertheless, this may provide Petronius with access to various discoveries related to his research, giving him hints and tips as to where something relevant to his research might be found (regiones, items, lab texts). Some of these will be wild goose chases, while others will actually result in something beneficial to his research.
For non-Gifted redcaps, this means that Petronius will know of many places throughout the Rhine (and even outside, given some advance notice). This means easier access to the redcap network for messages, knowledge of inns where a magus can safely rest and obtain resources, access to travel notes from redcaps, etc. Basically, make it easier for him to travel to other places for his research.
Do these seem reasonable?