Preludes: Apollodorus builds a covenant

A large, heavily cloaked figure approaches the Mont and ascends with ease. At the top he waits outside a small shack. After a few moments a young man appears. He appears to be terribly bored by whatever job he’s doing, and sullenly approaches the large figure. The figure hands the boy a sealed parchment scroll, and points towards the manor house at the very top of the mount. The boy runs off toward the house while the figure waits. At one point the man steps over a well marked line and as he crosses the line appears to swoon. He quickly moves back to the other side and waits.
A few diameters later the boy returns, along with man looking about 45.

The cloaked figure watches the two approach, and when they are close he says to the elderly man, “Apollodorus, I have arrived. Do you have the fee?” The young man goes back into the shack while the two men conduct whatever business it is they have with each other.

“I do indeed,“ Apollodorus responds. “Half now, and half on completion, as we agreed?” The cloaked man nods in response. “Good, let us retire to the manor house, and I’ll have my man show you to your quarters while you stay with me. When you’re settled, I’ll show you to the lab I’ve prepared for you and we can go over the plans I’ve sketched.”

“There’s no need, send the plans to me, and I’ll begin immediately. Your precision precedes you, and if I have any questions I will send for you. I’ll begin creating the ritual for the structures.” The man holds out his hand, as if waiting for something.

“I invite you into my Aegis,” Apollodorus intones softly while reaching into a purse and pulling out a coin and handing it to the cloaked figure.

The cloaked figure takes the token and says to Apollodorus, “Thank you. For casting it yourself, your Aegis is most imress-”

“I don’t wish to discuss it. You know my history, we’ve struck our bargain, and that subject is off limits. You are a friend of Andru’s, and come highly recommended to me for the task I need. Do not test my patience, lest you find the Aegis the least of your worries.” Apollodorus turns and begins walking to the manor house, and the cloaked figure follows him a step behind and to the right. “Since you broke a rule I know for certain Andru told you about, the nature of our transaction is changing, and I’m sure he told you that it would if you mentioned the subject. I was content to let you retain the lab text. You will now leave the text with me, or forfeit the fee and earn my enmity.”

One evening, while Janos and Apollodorus shared a sumptuous dinner prepared for them, Janos brought up the task he was brought here for, “Apollodorus, forgive me if this is impertinent, but creating such vast structures is surely going to draw a lot of attention. Aren’t you concerned about the Duke, rather his regent, or the Church?”

Apollodorus looks up and regards his guest before breaking into a mysterious smile, “I have those matters attended to, but eventually things will be made clearer to you. How goes your work? Do you still expect to be able to finish on time? I have a rather tight schedule to maintain, and after you finish, I have a team coming in to construct labs.”

“You needn’t be concerned about your schedule, it will be done. Will you indulge me again with another question?” Apollodorus nods, and Janos continues, “Why are you wishing to form a covenant, here in the Normandy Tribunal, and here at a site that is reportedly a former Diedne covenant?”

“Your question is far more interesting than you imagine, but you assumption that this was a Diedne site is incorrect. It is a common belief that because this is where the ancient Aedui city of Bibracte was that the Diedne settled here as well. I have done extensive personal investigation of the site, and have found no ruins, and I’ve called in some favors with a few of Guernicus and have reviewed the list of sites, and there was never a Diedne covenant here.”

Apollodorus savors his wine before continuing, Janos listens intently as Apollodorus continues, “No, as you can imagine, based on your fee, and the amount of vis necessary to create such structures you will raise, I have discovered and cultivated several sources of vis over the last few decades. However, as you know, my interests have become less Hermetically inclined, if you will. The politics of the tribunal disgust me, and I don’t wish to be involved in them any longer. The constant requests for favors or entreaties to join other covenants are tiring. And in those situations, I cannot dictate the terms of my engagement. And I will never allow another covenant to be lord over mine, when we control more resources.

“In many ways, I envy you, you have an itinerant lifestyle and are free to travel and use your talents wherever you wish. In my case, I’m hounded to join and settle, because of my talents. By taking the action, I am, forming a new covenant with other magi and maga, I hope to announce to everyone in the Tribunal to leave me alone. My interests will never align with theirs and no amount of gifts or inducements will cause me to change my mind.”

Rising from the table, he waves for Janos to follow him, and the pair go to the highest level of the manor house and into a room that has no decoration in it. “Do you happen to have second site, Janos?” Janos shakes his head. “Well, I had intended to just setup what appeared to be a small village up here, and that will likely still happen for many of the covenfolk. Walk behind me, oh but first, drop your parma, I don’t think you want my penetration to fail on a spell I’m going to have to cast on you.” The pair walk about a point in the room, and it begins to fall away, as the go around for the fourth time Apollodorus grabs onto Janos’ arm and casts a spell while continuing to walk. As the spell is cast, the two pop out of the manor house and into another place.

They’re floating in the middle of the air above a flattened section of a mountain, about 50 feet above the ground. “As you can see I had good reason for you to drop your parma. The drop would likely have killed you in the unlikely chance I’d be able to penetrate.” As the pair gently bobs up and down in mid air Apollodorus continues, “The Criamon I’d told you about had a vision, so I did some more in depth investigation of the site and found the regio entrance floating in the middle of the air. I commissioned the manor house to be built mundanely, but quickly, to make the regio entrance more accessible. There’s actually another regio entrance on the mundane side, but leads to a cavern that I can’t find an entrance to. After your work on the structures, I’ll want you to assist with that, and I’ll pay you some extra for that service.”

Apollodorus begins moving the pair the opposite direction around a point and before long they’re back in the manor house. “So, that’s where you’ll create the structures. I’m retiring for the night, Reynault will have desert prepared for you, if you wish. Good night.”

One early evening, months after Janos has long since completed his work, while Apollodorus is busy arranging his studio, he’s interrupted from his activity by a gentle knock on the door. “It’s open Reynault, you may enter.”
“Master, you have a guest, recently arrived from Autun. As he was unexpected, I have little I can provide to him on such short notice.” Reynault looks pained, as if he’s failed his master, as extending outstanding courtesy to his guests is something Apollodorus prides himself on. “I have, of course, directed the kitchen staff to have something prepared, and have brought wine for you two to enjoy while you wait.”
“Reynault, we simply provide the hospitality we can. One cannot expect to be prepared for every eventuality, only to extend courtesy to our guests. Who has arrived?”
“Master, it is Andru.”
As often happens when his name is mentioned, Apollodorus face blanks. While not appearing to be upset, his normal cheerful demeanor when he’s in his studio fades quickly. Falling into a business-like town, “Very well, show him in.”
Reynault withdraws, while Apollodorus fidgets and tries to find a comfortable chair to sit in, or a place to stand to contemplate some piece of art, but failing utterly. A few moments later and Apollodorus attempt to find a comfortable spot is cut short as Reynault knocks on the open door. Andru enters the room, without waiting to be announced.
“Old friend, it is good to see you.” Andru said as he approached Apollodorus and embraced him in greeting in new Roman fashion.
“Andru, welcome to my home,” Apollodorus says, and hands him a token immediately. “What can I do for the Primus?”
“So, it’s going to be business first?” Andru says, looking at Apollodorus, appraising him. “Very well, I wanted to see what you’re doing. It appears your covenant is close to being formed. Word is you’ve gathered several Magi of diverse power to come join you. As an important member of the House, I wanted to check in on you.”
Apollodorus explains, as if he’s done this many times before, “Andru, I’ve made no secret of my plans to you, or to anyone else in the House. You, among most people, should know I tire of managing my wealth and wish to pursue my art.
“And yes, I know you say that I am too useful, but I have served long enough, I don’t wish to serve any longer.” As Apollodorus says this Andru shows a concerned look on his face, “You needn’t worry about Valnastium; I’ll do my duty there should you wish me to continue. As it is, you should consider what to do in the long term. I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“The specialists I’ve procured for you over the years have done a marvelous job of maintaining your longevity rituals, have they not?” Andru asks in such a way that suggests this is a familiar question in the discussion between the two men.
“That’s a tired bargaining chip, and eventually it will fail. No, I believe I have satisfied all the duties to my House. I will continue to host the Antigone’s and their masters if they come to visit, and will sponsor some of them on their Itinerarium should a master be unable to do so.” Changing the subject as the two enjoy some wine, “How is Carmine? Give her my regards.”
“She is well. I currently have her on a personal mission. It should be ample opportunity to release any pent up aggression she has.” Andru responds smiling and giving Apollodorus a direct stare which suggests that the conversation is over for now, but can be revisited at a later time.
“Well, that is wise of you,” Apollodorus ribs his friend gently. “Let me show you around, while Reynault sees to our dinner. I’ll also tell you more about the Magi and Maga coming. Perhaps I can impart the House’s ideals upon magi from other Houses. Many of these Magi have never taken an apprentice. One is coming with an apprentice, but, as I understand it, he’s only recently begun training.”
Apollodorus shows Andru around the covenant buildings, going in and out of both sides of the regio. During the tour Andru notes all the activity for what is, for all intents and purposes, a now empty covenant and comments to Apollodorus.
“I’m building them all standard labs, but of a larger size than standard. Additionally, some have told me of their preferences already, and I’m doing my best to see to their preferences. But of course, you know all this already, since I’d sent out a letter to house members asking to borrow 5 apprentices for two seasons in exchange for financing their Itinerarium. You’ll end up causing quite a stir when word gets back that the Primus came for a visit.”
The pair continues through the grounds, and eventually settles into what will be the future council chambers for a dinner, and discuss matters deep into the night.