Chapter 7, Part 1: The Faery Secret, Final Twilight, and The Return Home
(An aside. I show up early for the game, and Robert, player of Reylar, is there. "I can't handle playing Reylar anymore." he says "He's too... nice."
Robert is a bit of a problem player. He makes, on paper, interesting characters, but deep down when the going gets tough, the character breaks and Robert wants to... act without restraint. Frustration breeds completely out of character actions - basically, when the going gets tough, Robert emerges, not the character, and Robert wants to flex his escapist muscles.
I explain there will be some profoundly emotional moments in his character's future - I'm thinking of "The Fall" alluded to in the saga's title, the event that will signal the change from Prelude to the Saga proper.
I explain I'll gladly have Reylar die a memorable death during these upheavals, and have him bring in a new mage who shows up at the soon-to-be founded covenant, but for now to wait and see. I also discuss that Robert's got noble fey blood in his veins... and it may be that it's not all good happy sunshine fey he's related to. He may have a darker legacy that he could explore.
He says he's going to wait and see. And thus do I devote another evening to Reylar, which I probably should not have, but in the end, I think his character's direction is much more palatable to the player.)
Renaldo has a plan. He goes to Caliana and explains he needs her to remove part of his personality for a while. Caliana asks specifics: Renaldo wants her to remove his meekness. After working things out in her head, Caliana is relatively sure she can do this, though the problem will be penetrating Master Crito's Parma Magica. Renaldo says she can take some of his blood. Caliana says she can better her chances with, say, an effigy of Renaldo, or his Baptismal name. Renaldo vetoes that quite stridently, and tells her the blood will need to be enough.
Caliana can, if she is lucky, remove Renaldo's meekness as long as she concentrates. A grog is instructed to make sure Caliana is not disturbed, she sings he spell upon Renaldo, and suddenly emboldened and a bit angry, Renaldo strides off to the Forum of Hermes, around which a number of Bonisagus mages are discussing recent research. Among them in Crito.
"Ah, Apprentice Renaldo! Is there some problem back at our tent? Have you not cleaned my shoes?" Crito mocks with a bit of gentle disappointment.
"We have to talk. NOW." says Renaldo, brazenly staring down his master as he points to a colonade.
Crito excuses himself, and walks to where Renaldo impatiently stands in the shadow of the Forum.
"Look, Master Crito... I passed that test. You KNOW I passed it. I am fully worthy of being a mage of House Bonisagus! Fully worthy! If you deny my... my genius, you are a liar!"
Renaldo has stepped very close to Crito, but even as Crito leans back out of reach of Renaldo's empassioned spittle-flecked declaration, a smile spreads across his pale, pinched face and he extends a hand.
"Congratulations, Magus Candidate Renaldo du Foret. You have passed your Gauntlet. You have claimed your place among the Magi of House Bonisagus."
Renaldo apparently had an entire day's worth of ranting saved up to throw at Master Crito, and so is a bit shocked to find the wind taken out of his sails. He thanks his Master, and realizes he has some business to attend to.
He finds Magnus.
"Where are those 15 silver pennies I gave you?"
Magnus raises a lazy eyebrow as he sits eating his breakfast.
"In my safe keeping, Apprentice Renaldo. I'm saving them for... wizardly things... like maybe the Covenant I'm going to help found soon. Of course, you wouldn't know anything about that, since you're not a wizard."
Renaldo's ire, normally a shy creature, begins to buck and kick.
"I AM a wizard. I have passed my Gauntlet."
Magnus chuckles, remembering Renaldo's tear-stained face.
"Suuuure you did. Your grief must have overcome your senses. Don't you have some of Crito's shoes to clean?"
Renaldo smacks Magnus across the mouth, and as Magnus sits there in shock that the Frenchman has dared to smack his fine Jutlander features, Renaldo grabs the small purse of silver coins that he was originally given to pay for Magnus' death at the hands of bandits. Renaldo takes 8 of the 15 silver pennies, and throws the remaining 7 to Magnus.
Renaldo then begins to walk away, but Magnus, recovering from the fact that the formerly soft-hearted Frenchman has just slapped him, rises from his seat, and rushes after Renaldo, tackling him.
For a few moments, Renaldo puts his 'knavish' fighting to use against Magnus' impressive Jutlander wrestling, but the commotion disturbs Caliana's concentration, and Renaldo's meekness returns. As Caliana pockets Renaldo's blood for later use, Magnus' hold on Renaldo slips, and a terrified Renaldo scampers away.
Mages from many camps are baffled.
A short time later:
Reylar's Mistress, Astarte, is visited by the higher ups in House Merinita, happy to hear her apprentice has done well and passed his Gauntlet. Handri and a few others come to visit her in her tent, and ask her what tasks Reylar had to perform.
Caliana sees them in, with Handri asking her in a worried whisper "Is she... doing well today?"
The visitors enter the tent, and after a while, voices are raised, and argument breaks out.
Reylar is off, giving sweets to the Bee King, but when he returns, an angry Handri is pacing about the campsite.
Handri grills Reylar about his Gauntlet. Reylar answers vaguely at first, until Handri keeps attacking his statements, pushing for definition, asking simple yes and no questions, and finally, the full extent of Reylar's carelessness is exposed. Handri sends off Merinita to inquire with these simple Fey and find out the truth of the matter as best they can. He leaves Reylar, explaining that he will see him tonight and will make a judgement on Reylar's future then.
Later that night, Reylar is summoned. He has been consoling his Mistress - whom he has taken to calling 'mother' much to the other apprentice's bafflement. Astarte is quite shaken by Handri's upset.
Leaving Astarte secretly so as not to upset her, Reylar approaches the Irencillia campsite beneath the great oak tree. Within the branches, tiny motes of dancing light can occasionally be seen. A semicircle of mages ad gathered carrying torches or flame-crowned staves. Their hoods are up, faces shrouded in darkness. Handri sits on a great carved chair, and looks grim.
Handri, in an officious tone, explains that Reylar failed in following the instructions given to him. He caused pain and anger as he passed through the mock-hamlet of the fey he met. He did not befriend, in truth, all of those he met.
Handri continues: Though it is Astarte's right to declare Reylar a mage, Handri has it within his power to keep Reylar from being part of House Merinita. Therefore, Handri offers a choice - Reylar may stay a mage, but will not be allowed to enter House Merinita - perhaps House Ex Miscellanea will take him.... OR... Reylar may refuse to be made a mage based on his 'Gauntlet', and take another Gauntlet of his Mistress' choosing, that Reylar will then complete with more competance.
Reylar decides to take the second road. By this time, the apprentices - led by nosy Caliana with Astarte in tow, have walked up to the fringes of his meeting. As Handri and his fellow Merinita disperse, the apprentices and Astarte approach Reylar. Astarte, having heard all of this, is a bit of a wreck and blames herself, has no idea what other Gauntlet to offer, and seems basically stuck in a loop of self-castigation - unable to focus on a new Gauntlet idea.
The apprentices decide to help her, under Renaldo's prompting. The rack their brains for previous Merinita Gauntlets: solving fey labyrinths, navigations of regios, riddle contests, fey hide and seek, muto contests with fey shapechangers, and on and on. Magnus figures if his first Gauntlet had him hurt Squire Rabbit, then maybe change the Gauntlet to 'Kill Squire Rabbit' as the job is halfway done already, and Squire Rabbit probably can't move too fast. The apprentices decide to let Magnus go back to the camp.
One idea that sticks in Reylar's mind is a Gauntlet to 'Pierce the Veil of Faerie and Discover a Fey Secret'. Reylar's not even sure what that means, but he remembers that strange stone slab inscribed with words he could not make out. He scratches one into a wax tablet and shows Renaldo, the Latin master among the mages.
Renaldo sees it is an older form of Latin, perhaps from the Eastern Empire of Rome. Something old, unusual, and a bit out of date, but the word that Reylar's magical memory has scratched down in wax is a form of 'Bonisagus'.
Reylar decides that returning to that stone table will be his Gauntlet. He announces he will pierce the Faerie Veil, and bring back a secret. Renaldo really wants to know where he got this strange form of Bonisagus from, but Reylar is already looking to find Yohannes Acer and borrow his fey stag.
Yohannes explains that no Merinita is allowed to help him. Reylar nods, and decides to go it alone. He walks off into the night, trusting his faerie eyes to show him the way.
To Be Continued...