Prelude: The Gathering

Elizabeth appears inside a broom cupboard of Schola Pythagoranis. Being a broom cupboard it was pitch black inside, and Elizabeth was entirely unprepared for that. She quickly trips and falls with a loud clatter all the brooms fall upon her. She quickly attempts to summon some light, "Creo Ignem" and is foiled by the very low divine Aura pervading the covenant at this location. She ineptly scrambles to the door only to find it's latched or could it be locked. Thinking to her self, "Bother that, if I can't summon light, I can't hope to unlock this door. There's no help for it." Elizabeth proceeds to knock loudly and long at the door.

Eventually an elderly gentleman appears from the other side of the door. His brow furrows a bit, "Pardon me maga," he says stiffly. "We weren't expecting visitors. Your name? And who are you here to see?" He says a bit peremptorily.
As meekly without seeming obsequious and as forcefully so as not to seem threatening, she says, "Ancel Trianomae, if you please. Tell him it is Elizabeth Bonisagi, daughter of Ra'am on business for the Prima."
The elderly gentleman looks her up and down as if trying to find a good reason to refuse her request, "Very well. You'll need to remain here, as we have mundanes of some importance visiting. I'll bring Ancel and he can properly see to your needs."
"You are most kind, Geoffrey." Elizabeth says, but Geoffrey responds only with a huff and he's off.
Geoffrey races to find Ancel quickly, and pulls him away from the gathering of mundane scholars, "There's a blatantly Gifted maga here. She appeared in the broom cupboard. You magi really ought to have an Aegis here to avoid exactly this form of disruption. Oh she said something about being on business for your Prima."

Ancel was speaking to some Masters from Cambridge when Geoffrey came looking for him. “I’m afraid I haven’t had a chance to read some of his books, but it certainly sounds interesting….” he said. Geoffrey’s interruption brought a look of surprise to the magus’ face; business from the Prima usually meant an official House request. Might be another term as a Tenens Occultorum.

“I’m afraid that with the way the covenant is situated in Cambridge, a casting of the Aegis would draw considerable attention from the town,” Ancel mused at Geoffrey's observation for an Aegis. “However, could you show our guests out? You can tell them that a distant colleague has arrived and that I have hospitality duties to attend to. It shan’t be stretching the truth, and I can remove her from the public areas as quickly as possible.”

Offering an apology to the scholars, Ancel excused himself as quickly as he could to the ‘entrance’ where his distant colleague waited. With a sympathetic look, he opened the broom closet door. “Ah, welcome sodalis! Please, let me help you out of there. I do apologize for the inconvenient arrival conditions, this is as discreet as the covenant can get for… direct arrivals,” he said. “Geoffrey is hopefully seeing our guests out so we can go somewhere to speak. I confess, your arrival has me quite curious. You mentioned business from our new Prima?”

"Ancel, thank you for receiving me. Yes, well, it's my businesses but specifically under her auspices. I've achieved a breakthrough that will revolutionize the Order." Such a statement is unlikely for someone of Elizabeth's age, as she's not much older than Ancel. And talk among the Trianomae is that not much was really forthcoming regarding any possible research. "Tria is convening a special Grand Tribunal to discuss some necessary changes to the Code." Not even letting it sink in she continues on, "I've discovered how to teach the Arts to more than one person at a time. Tria says I'm to start a school and to recruit likely prospects to be teachers, and who might be able to recruit sodales to be representatives at Grand Tribunal." She looks at Ancel for about half a second, as if that's too long to wait for an answer, "Well, are you interested?"

The distraction of the scholars was still on his mind as he juggled their departure, planning a route to avoid as many people as possible to the visitor quarters or his sanctum, and wondering what brought Elizabeth around to see him in particular. The rush of of information she presented him arrested his thoughts until he forgot about the scholars and avoiding people. Instead, he just blinked as Elizabeth went from incredulous statement to incredulous statement with barely a pause. Silence stretched into several seconds as he realized he had just been asked a question.

“You… have made this discovery recently?” he asked at last. His lineage usually kept up with this sort of thing, but he found himself caught off-guard. Something like this was huge and should have been discussed at the last Tenentes Occultorum meeting. “That’s -- that’s truly astounding! And our Prima is calling an extraordinary Grand Tribunal to discuss this?” The implications were staggering; the last Grand Tribunals called out of session were around the Schism War.

Although the situation was a surprise, he was too practiced to let it keep him off-balance for long. Already his thoughts were racing ahead at the possibilities of such a discovery. His time at Schola Pythagoranis and Cambridge University showed him that innovations in academia were moving ahead in the mundane world. Apprentices that could be mass-taught common material while allowing the next generation of students to forge closer bonds with their future sodales. This appealed to the political Trianoma in him; a way to keep the Order in harmony while still practicing its strengths. And if groups of exotic magi could be enticed with the prospect of the Parma Magica to join the Order, this would be a way to induct them en masse.

“I think we should find a quiet place to speak,” he said ushering her out of the closet and beginning to lead Elizabeth to the guest rooms. “I find myself interested, both in the discovery itself and its potential. This could shake the Order down to its foundations! But such potential!”

OOC: Would Ancel know about the Tremere invention of an Aegis to suppress the penalties of the Gift at this time?

Elizabeth takes a deep breath, and it's clear that she doesn't really want to have a long discussion. Her body language is obvious, despite what she says, "Certainly, let's talk about it, but do be quick. I have several people to meet, and a lot to do, so my time is short. I'm really just looking for an answer, are you interested in supporting this, and recruiting others. Are you interested in a teaching position?" Small talk and pleasantries are apparently not Elizabeth's forte.

Elizabeth is an average height woman, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. Her hair is in a tight bun. She's neither attractive or ugly. Her complexion is a bit tan, but on the lighter side of tan. Her eyes seem to take in everything, observe everything that is going on and note every detail, they move all around whenever she is talking, never making eye contact for very long. Elizabeth is dressed in a long robe of brown that matches her hair, and it appears to be one chosen to be serviceable and comfortable, rather than be showy. The sleeves of the robe are a bit tight, and her left arm has a bulge that belies the wand that is hidden under that sleeve.

((No, the Tremere haven't made that common knowledge.))

"Then, to be brief, yes, I am interested. If you plan to leave the way you came, then we will need to walk outside of the town, else your magic will be less effective," said Ancel. Using an alternate exit, he led Elizabeth out of the building and down less busy streets towards a copse outside of Cambridge; it might still have a Dominion Aura, but it would be comparatively low and the trees would provide cover for her exit. "However, I now wonder how you plan to get multiple apprentices to not tear one another apart when not in the presence of a master? Children do not react well to the Gift of most of our fellows. And they would be around each other more than one of us, I would imagine. Unless each of us is to extend our Parma one or two children so that they may learn?"

"Excellent. Now, what do you think the magi of Schola Pythagoranis will make of this development? Will they be jealous, or supportive? We need supporters, and I was tasked to find out whether the members of this covenant would be jealous and attempt to block the creation of a Hermetic school." Gently Gifted magi in Stonehenge have developed something of a snobbery problem, thinking that they are better than mundanes (obviously) and also other magi who can't mingle with mundanes easily.
((Not ready to end this yet, I'll come back and quote the escort part. Her question also hints at the problem you were asking her directly.))

It was true that the majority Jerbiton magi at Schola Pythagoranis were highly selective of Gentle Gifted magi; after all, they lived in and among the masters and students of the University of Cambridge. They spent considerably less time dealing with problematic mundane relations as a result. "I think most, if not all, would be persuadable. We already live as masters and teach the students in classes so we are quite familiar with the lifestyle and methods. I should they'd be quite excited to hear that this teaching method could finally work for teaching Hermetic methods. I should think you would find similar support in House Jerbiton who are based near cathedral schools and university towns. Paris, Bologna, and the like."

"It will probably be completely obvious to you, but this Grand Tribunal is going to be comprised of magi who would be well disposed to the idea. Either magi like Schola Pythagornis or magi who feel that they would be a poor master for an apprentice. I'm not the best teacher, but I have demonstrated the technique and with much effort have been able to be at least as good as an average magus to not one but 5 different students simultaneously. It's not something that comes easily to me, and that is why I'm recruiting more capable teachers, to ensure the success of this experiment and to realize my life's work. The reason I ask is that some magi who take great pride in their ability to teach, and would be jealous of a school which can produce just as effective magi in half the time. Think of it. Apprenticeship cut down to 7 years, with everything that one would expect to be taught in 15 years. It's true, apprentices will no longer be slaves to magi in their labs, but that isn't a positive way to build the Order." Leaning in, "And we all now that the Order hasn't been growing as fast as it should." Elizabeth says, obliquely suggesting the increasing Gifted population.

“I think that orchestrating a friendly Grand Tribunal will be harder than the Prima thinks. With every Tribunal able to send three voters with as many votes as they are able to acquire and the Redcaps notifying everyone -- I suppose she’s asking that I use my sources to find or convert friendlies?” Ancel asked with a brow raised. Under less hurried circumstances, he might have put the question more discreetly, but if this sodalis was more at home in a lab and in a rush besides, the subtler language of politics may have gone missed. [b]“It may be a hard sell to many others of our Order; even to some of our own House. After all, many magi Bonisagi believe that after seven or eight years of teaching, they expect an equal amount of time for the apprentice to assist in the laboratory as rewards for their efforts.

“I believe you may have discovered something that will set you as one of the great names of our House, but the harder part -- convincing the Order -- may prover harder yet. Many forget Trianoma’s efforts in binding the Order around Bonisagus’ greatness. Fortunately, her lineage is still here.”[/b] He gave a wry half-smile.

“I will do what I can to help. There are fewer Trianomae magi here, but I shall persuade the persuadable. I will tell them that great advances come with great changes, and that it’s better to be prepared than fight a rising tide. However, you, and whomever you are also visiting, ought to consider how to answer sceptics’ charges that magi will be robbed for useful help in the lab if apprentices can be Gauntleted in a mere seven years. All politics aside, such a practical loss may lose votes even among those who would view this change as a good thing.”

"But the Redcaps aren't informing everyone. Not at all. What are the requirements of a legal Tribunal, Ancel?" Elizabeth asks politely.

[b]"Well, there are Tribunal procedures and Grand Tribunal procedures. To be honest, I'm less certain about the Grand Tribunal requirements outside the normal schedule because most people know well ahead of time that it's coming. For a regular Tribunal, it needs at least twelve magi from at least four different covenants, plus at least one Quaesitor to ensure the Code is followed. Redcaps must inform covenants a minimum of three months ahead of time so that everyone knows. This is to ensure that all affected magi in the Tribunal may exercise their vote -- 'I shall have one vote at Tribunal', being writ into our Oath.

"Grand Tribunals follow most of the same procedures except that it takes place at our Domus Magna with our Prima acting as Praeco and the primus of House Guernicus as the presiding Quaesitor. Each regional Tribunal may send only three representatives, each carrying as many sigils as he can gather, and each representative may only put forth one motion on the floor. But here's the real trick -- the representatives, and the motions they present, are typically decided at regular regional Tribunals held the year before Grand Tribuanl.

"So the thorny issue is this: if we go straight to Grand Tribunal, who will the representatives be? What issues may they put forth? If the Redcaps are not informing everyone of this session, it puts the session in serious jeopardy of being ruled not-quorate by the Presiding Quaesitor, as we would have denied many of our sodales their votes and thus violating the Code: 'I will respect as equal the vote of all others at the Tribunal.' Any decisions made could not stand." [/b]

Ancel paused with a frown as another thought came. "You know, there's nothing to say the Prima cannot call together a wizard's council. She has the eminence to do so, certainly. But to set binding law on the entire Order? That will take a Grand Tribunal session whose legality is not in doubt. I think she ought to find the nearest friendly Quaesitor and have some serious discussions, because if I can spot these issues, so will one of the more traditionalist-minded Quaesitores."

"My suggestion is that you contact Tria, and bring your concerns to her. I believe she has discussed this with a Quaesitor and several of the Primae and Primi, if not all of them."

"I think I shall," said Ancel with a slow nod. News that the Prima was already ahead on the politics relaxed him somewhat. "If she has indeed spoken with all of the Primi, then perhaps she can work a way to get enough representation. I would be most interested in hearing how it works out. Perhaps she will break tradition in more than one way with this."

"Elizabeth nods. She usually is thinking of the politics before anyone. How else do you think Murion decided to break with tradition and have Tria named Prima?" Although this is said with the pride of a relative, almost. ((An Order of Hermes Lore roll of 9+ will reveal that Tria was at one time the master of Ra'am, Elizabeth's father.))
"I think it's time I take my leave." Elizabeth pulls out her satchel, "This token will pay for the transport to Durenmar through a Hermes Portal from Astolat[1] to Le Maison then to Harco and finally Durenmar. And back again."

"I'm told that someone else has invented something that ameliorates the effects of the Gift. I'm not clear on the details, but Tria is satisfied as to the efficacy. Unless there is anything else? She asks and pulls out the wand from her sleeve.

[1] Astolat is a non-canonical covenant south towards Brighton. It's the closest location with a portal to Schola Pythagoranis.

Ancel gives a brief shake of his head. "If you're in a hurry, then anything I have can wait until Grand Tribunal. Naturally, I'd like to know more of this discovery, but I can pick your brain at a later date." Accepting the token he gives it a brief glance before squeezing it. Passage through the Mercere portals was exceedingly valuable, and the token represented several pawns of vis he would not have to pay in fare. "I look forward to Grand Tribunal, then, sodalis."

"Well, use the token as you wish. You mentioned wanting to discuss the Code issues you think apply.
Elizabeth nods to Ancel, murders a few words very quietly and taps a chip of rock held in her right hand 3 times and she is gone.
Now what is Ancel going to do?

The walk back to his sanctum was quick; too many thoughts about the exciting news, how to proceed, what to prepare, were spilling out of his head. The sooner he could get back to where his support was, the better. His clipped pace had him hurrying past people he knew, and he gave them a quick wave, hoping that any perceived rudeness could be smoothed over, later.

His sanctum, much like the others of those who formed Schola Pythagoranis, was a town house whose bottom floor was a converted craftsman shop, with he and his household taking up the various rooms. When he first arrived, it was a strange arrangement, not having an enclosed area where the magi were largely separated from the covenfolk; but since the magi of Schola Pythagoranis lived within Cambridge and posed as masters, the need for a lab was absent -- the Dominion Aura would make it difficult to get any solid work done. Instead, they lived as Masters in the University would. It was an interesting experience.

He called out everyone even as he was walking through the main doorway. "Bartholomew! Bertram! Sarah! Athena! Come, I have news!" Bertram was first, reaching for his robes, shaking the dust from it even as the rest came down from the first floor. Sarah, his apprentice, and Bartholomew were inkstained, a testament to their tasks, while his familiar fluttered in to land on his shoulder; she was still in owl form. Ancel explained his meeting with Elizabeth just then, even as Bertram brushed his clothing. The others were appropriately surprised; unlike Bartholomew, they had more understanding of Ancel's magical practices.

"I need to gather the magi together to tell them. Tonight, if possible. Bertram, Sarah, I need you to deliver messages to them. If they can't meet tonight, ask them for tomorrow. Tell them it's Hermetic business. They must hear this news."

That evening the magi of Schola Pythagoranis gather for the meeting Ancel has called and wait patiently for him to bring the meeting to order.

((I wasn't sure if you wanted me to run with what you did, so I did that little piece. I'll say that the magi are the canonical magi in Heirs... If you want to do this all yourself, just note it in the subsequent post, and I'll wait until you journey to Durenmar.))

OOC: Since the focus will be at Durenmar, I'll skim over the bit with the Schola Pythagoranis magi.

That evening, Ancel discusses Elizabeth's recent visit and the news about a way to teach multiple students at once. He points out the ability to leverage existing techniques used by the magi, who double as university masters in many cases, for such an approach to teaching Hermetic apprentices. He is candid about the extent of his knowledge, but promises to bring them additional news after his visit to Durenmar. He closes by urging them to consider the possibilities for the Order and how their experience at Cambridge puts them in a prime position to leverage and lead the Order, should this endeavour work out.

After arranging for his absence (something that happens on a regular basis for him), Ancel gathers up a travelling kit -- with numerous magical items -- his apprentice, and his familiar. They set off for Astolat, using Ancel's knowledge of the Tribunal's covenants to find it. It takes a few days to make the journey, but the remainder takes less time, thanks to the Mercere Portals. With thanks to portal guardians, Ancel pauses for a moment to look down onto the Forum of Hermes. Although he had attended numerous Tribunals (both Rhine and Grand Tribunal) here, the roman columns and sense of history weighed down on him with the importance of the location. He smiled despite himself. "It's good to be back. Now, let's see if we can find some time with the Prima." He led Athena and Sara down from the upper gallery of the Forum and they made the short jaunt to the Tower of Bonisagus to begin their search.