Do you take some time to visit your mundane parents in Fengheld? (Assuming they are still alive and living there, of course.)
Living on the road while looking for vis means expenses for yourself and your mundanes (lodging and food mostly). Both Herman and Wolfred have Covenant Upbringing, so they are not used to this and will have to rely on Tristan to secure these for them. From what he tells you, it will cost at least 1 pound of silver per month. Herman probably wouldn't care, as such, except that this is the money he set aside for equiping his lab. It also means that after a season of exploration, the small group will have no money left.
Yes, Herman will visit his mundane parents in Fengheld.
(Yes, the costs are very reasonable.)
When Tristan explains the costs the Herman, Herman mutters to himself. (I will look for a color for Herman.)
"Ach, what a mess. And no covenant will advance supplies in the hope I can find some vis to share with them. If they thought there was vis to find, they would take it all for themselves."
After pausing and thinking about it, he concludes louder "Okay, let us go to Fengheld and talk to folks. Maybe something will present itself. If not, I will have to find someplace that I can visit, even if they are demanding."
When you arrive at Fengheld, the welcome is mixed. Your parent are happy to see you, but visibly uncomfortable in your presence because of your Gift. The covenant's stewart grumbles when he hears of your arrival but still assigns you a small suite of rooms for yourself and your mundanes -- nothing too comfortable, but still better than sleeping in most inns. Both Wolfred and Tristan quickly make themselves scarce, catching up with old comrades and getting up-to-date with the latest gossip.
As for the magi, the first one that Herman meets is Dorana of Bonisagus(1). The mature maga seems happy to see Herman, but still sends a few barbs at his return -- without his pater. "So you finally got out from under the skirts of that old coot? Good for you! Must be good to come back to a proper covenant, instead of a drafty forest overrun by faeries. Have you come to join us? I'm sure I could convince Stentorius(2) to grant you the status of probationary member if you'd like. There's a few tasks that could benefit from your talents, I'm sure. Your pater(3) may have been an annoying lecher, but if he shared with you his knowledge of Intellego magic, then I'm sure you are reasonably competent there."
(1) Dorana is in her seventies and one of the master-rank magi of Fengheld. She's a good negociator and tries to help perties reach compromises. She's very good at weather magic, has an hedonistic streak and an open manner.
(2) Stentorius of Tremere is an archamage and the leader of Fengheld. A large man over a century old, he is known for his authoritarian nature. Unsurprisingly, he is a master of Rego magic. His familiar for over fifty years is Oswald, a supremely arrogant large gray cat.
(3) What's the name of your pater? Having a quick description of him as part of your background would be useful.
Herman is happy to see Dorana, and unsurprised by the barbs. Joseph (he pater) never really got along with her. "It is good to be here, and to see you again. I doubt that it would really work for me to become a member here. Joseph made clear to me how many people I upset. But I do need to find some things to do until I can find a place for myself."
"So, you decided to become a peregrinator? That's an interesting choice. I myself spent many decades as one, moving from one covenant to another. It is a great opportunity to meet other magi." She smiles, "Of course, it often means that one cannot study as much as one would wish, for you'll have to pay for your keep instead of benefiting from the covenant's resources." She shakes her head, "I know that at least some of our junior magi will be disappointed not to have someone new on a regular basis to share their burden of service to the covenant."
She invites you to follow her along as she starts walking inside to the fortress towards the council meeting room, "How long would you like to stay with us before moving along? Do you any plans made already?"
Herman walks along with Dorana. "Many decades? I had not realized. I doubt I will spend that long wandering. It seems sensible to spend a year here, where I know some people, before wandering further. I do share Joseph's interest in understanding and using Intellego, so your comments about that give me hope for an interesting year. I wonder if I could offer two seasons of service, in exchange for two seasons with some of the less important books in the library?"
"Indeed, two seasons of service would just about cover for us hosting you and using the visitors' library. Did you have anything in mind as to the kind of service you would like to provide? If you wanted to contribute to the library by authoring a tractatus as one of your seasons, I'm sure we could arrange for a copies to be made before your departure, so that you could keep one for yourself."
"Absolutely!" She smiles benevolently. "Now, what of the second season? Any suggestion or preference? A second tractatus would certainly be welcome, but you may prefer something else..." Before Herman can answer, she adds, "You do realize, of course, that since any such tractatus would be scribe as payment to the covenant, it would be free of the Cow and Calf clause. So we would retain the right of making additional copies."
"Yes, I realize that Fengheld can do what it likes with their copy, and I can do what I like with mine. For the second season, I would like to do something that gets me out and about, if there is some way that can be of asistance."
"Hmmm," Dorana hesitates, "that's an unusual request. Out of hand, I cannot think of anything, but I can look into it and see if we could find something suitable. I may have to discuss it with Stentorius."
(OOC: The most obvious would be a complaint of supernatural activity from a village that the covenant only cares a little bit about. If it were an important village, one of the covenant magi would investigate. I can't imagine them sending this junior to investigate an infernal outbreak, and I doubt Herman is ready to cope with one. Another thought is if there is a situation where there needs to be some negotiation with some Faerie. This might well involve multiple round trips back and forth, and be expected to be tedious, whether it actually will be or not.
Having said that, if pushed Herman will given them a Magic Theory tractatus for the second season.)
(I don't really want to fully play out a story in this thread, since it is simply about pre-saga advancement. Also, I don't think Fengheld would entrust a mission that touches on the covenant's underlings or territory to a visiting magus. That's what junior members are for, after all. But I just had an idea.)
A few weeks after Herman's arrival, when their paths cross, Dorana take some time to talk with him some more about the second season of covenant service. "I discussed your request with Stentorius to see if he had any idea regarding service you could provide to the covenant. He suggested that you talk with Peter(1). There's apparently been some disturbance with some of our more distant vineyards last summer -- some form of supernatural pests that are damaging the vines there. He asked that we assign a junior magus as guard this summer, so that the pests can be dealt with."
(1) Peter Von Würzburg of Verditius, another master-rank magus. He is a famed grower of grapes and uses wine as a medium for charged items. He has a squirrel familiar.
(OOC: Yes, I realize these should be small, which is why I included the fall-back. Thanks for coming up with something else.)
"Thank you Dorana, and my thanks to Stentorius. I will speak to Peter. I can just imagine what he is like if his wine gets damaged." Herman will then look for an opportunity to talk to Peter. Upon finding Peter, "Magus Peter, Magus Dorana has suggested that I might be of service to you. Something is causing trouble in your vineyard?."
Herman will also make sure that Wolfred and Tristan are told about the probable need for us to spend a season our in the remote vineyards. I wil also ask Tristan to find out what the covenfolk have heard about the disturbances, in case there are some preparations we should make.
"What?" Peter looks confused for a moment when you speak to him. "trouble? Oh, well, yes. Last summer there was a flock of birds that kept eating grapes. As soon as they were chased away, they would simply fly to another section of the vines. They seem to ignore scarecrows and make their way through the nets. They even ignore the Rego Animal wards against normal pests that I put into place, so they must be supernatural. I figure that if you kill enough of them they'll leave my vines alone. Come back in late July, when the grapes start to ripen, and I'll tell you where to stand guard."
(I'm assuming that you arrived shortly after your Gauntlet, something like mid-Spring. So you'll be able to fit in your season of scribing before you go to guard the vines.)
"Certainly Peter. I will be back then.".
(The timing sounds reasonable to me.)
Herman will spend some time thinking about what sorts of spells he might need when the birds arrive. He will plan to use second sight, and possibly some Intellego to try to tell what they are before trying to kill them.
(Actually, I'd allow exposure xp to be applied to the subject you are writing about. I've always found that having to write about something forced me to structure and deepen my understanding of the subject. In this case, the character is spending three months on the subject, so structuring and thinking about how to present the concepts qualifies for exposure.)
(So you spend a season writing, then go back to Peter. Have you formulated a plan on how to protect the vines from the birds?)
When Herman comes back in the Summer, Peter brings you to one of the more distant vineyards. "Last year, the birds first arrived in this area and started eating my grapes." He gestures eastward, "Just keep watch and, when they arrive, deal with them."
There is only vines growing around here, with a few mundanes working here and there. No shade to protect you from the sun, no chair to sit on, nor refreshments. And really very little place to set up any kind of watch place. A forest starts at the edge of the vineyards.
I set the grogs to work building shelter, since we are going to be out here a while. Wolfred can probably improvise something, using material from the forest. If needed, Herman will use a spontaneous, fatiguing, rego/terram (he can do L5 with a stress die roll) to flatten the earth .
I will also gather some fist sized rocks.
Herman will verify that the magical aura here is the magnitude it should be. Before assuming that these are purely natural, I want to make sure. So when the birds appear, I will use a spontaneous Discern the Images of Truth and Falsehood, aiming for effective level 10, which should get through a level 5 illusion.) If the birds are magical, I will see if there is some way to talk with them. If they are mundane, I will slowly (i.e. I am hoping it is a simple die) use wielding the invisible sling to start picking them off. (I can send Tristan to recover rocks if I start running low.) If they are not mundane, response will vary depending upon what happens.