Spring 1220: The Magi Council

March 20, 1220

The iciness and cold of winter rushing off the mountain is starting to subside, and the smell of a fresh, new year hangs over Semita Errabunda. Water is flowing from the melting ice, simple streams beginning to take on the appearance of rivers, the nearby lake beginning to refill as the snow pack recedes every higher above the Covenant upon the mountainside. Trees are threatening to bud, while the heartier grasses are showing signs of becoming green again, beckoning the deer and moose and other alpine animal residents to wake from their winter slumbers and dine. Birds are singing, insects are crawling, the air is warming.

Outside, on the Covenant grounds, the mundanes are beginning to stir and make their way from their homes for extended periods of time. Clothes are washed in tubs of water and hung on makeshift lines, the soil is being tilled and prepared for the coming planting season, the farmers are tending to the animals, and the foresters are pointing out which trees need to be cut down to make way for new growth. Fresh batches of wine made from the first buds of the local flowering plants and vines are starting to be made, roofs and walls of the homes are being repaired from the damage of winter storms, and the fish in the lake are jumping as young children and old fishermen alike are casting lines with worms into the icy cold waters.

Inside the central building, in the Magi Council room, a long, half-circular table with 12 identical chairs is being prepared for the annual Vernal Equinox meeting. The room has long since been polished top to bottom, several formulaic and spontaneous versions of cleaning spells having washed the room thoroughly, every speck of dirt and dust removed to show respect not only for the Magi who use the room, but to the Covenant as a whole that nothing shall become out of place or in disrepair. Even the shelves that line the far wall, books and papers outlining agenda and notes from meetings past have been rearranged and resorted, nary a sheet of parchment or bottle of ink seemingly out of place. And the Mappa Mundi has been pulled out and is on full display in the center of the circular meeting area in front of the Magi's table, the image of a ship sailing towards Normandy, gently telling all who look upon it that much-needed supplies are on their way home.

Normally, only Magi and their charges are permitted inside the Council room. But today, on the day of the Vernal Equinox, just a mere 9 days off from Easter, a young woman waits in the Council room, her presence at the Covenant a reminder that the Order always has a place at any table the Magi call their own. Her reddish-blonde hair drapes from under her cap, flowing over her shoulders and the leather waistcoat that tightens itself against her body, the signet ring bearing the mark of the House of Mercere designating her position as Redcap displayed in full for all the Magi of the Covenant to see. Ash, as she has informed you she is to be known as in the day-and-a-half she's been here waiting for this meeting, sits in a chair, near the Magi table but not at it, silently waiting for the meeting to begin so that she can divulge the information the Order has deigned her to give.

Valentine throws open the door to the council room and strides in casually. He is a short man, standing only a few inches over 5 feet tall, and his build is very slight. His dark brown hair glistens with oil and is pulled back into a poof of tumbling curls. Woman find him to be very attractive with an infectious smile of straight white teeth and dark eyes that shine with mirth. He is wearing bright red robes trimmed with ermine and and explosion of lace under his chin, the traditional cap of his house sits on his head with a brilliant pheasant feather sticking out of the side, held in place by a ruby and gold pin.

From the door he calls out to Ash "Good day cousin" and strides over to her, taking her hand. He whispers "If I may" and attempts to extend his Parma over her if she gives any small sign of consent. He continues talking as he bows over her hand and retreats to his seat "A thousand pardons for not coming to see you sooner but I had only just heard of your arrival. I was in the town, you see, and neglected to tell my valet that I had arrived back to the covenant until just this morning!" He looks to the map and taps a finger on it to indicate Caen on the map "Either way I hope that you have been well treated, our Covenant is quite small yet and i don't know what accommodations we have set aside for esteemed guests. We each have a small house of our own and if you choose to stay through the holiday you would be welcome as family always are in mine." He smiles wryly, all Merceres were ostensibly cousins even if the relation was perhaps so far back that they we no closer than Adam. He did hope she would join him for dinner one night, redcaps were always so... adventurous.

Morat steps through the door left wide by Valentine and walks around the table toward Valentine and Ash, immediately notable is his angry look and the gray and white falcon on his shoulder. His heavy boots clank on the floor and he has to slow to ensure his sheathed weapons do not catch on the furniture within the room, and broad bulk made wider by the armour he often wears. Black beard and dark mood common, unusually he is holding wax tablet and many notes in a folio.
He approaches them both and addresses Ash with a posture showing attention, “Welcome Magus. Thank you for making the journey. I hope we do not consume too much of your time.”
He turns “Magus Valentine”, a nod to the other magus as he walks away to a seat and returns to his notes.

Adeline walks into the room at almost exactly the appointed time, noticeable after those who arrived early, but with enough leeway to sit in her seat on time. Her hair is perfectly groomed, and both she and her robes are remarkably clean. Floating beside her come a wax tablet and a stylus. As she takes her seat, they float down to the table in front of her. "Good day, sodales," she states with a smile, looking at each of the other magi briefly.

The man who enters next is of average height, and weight, and dressed like one of the covenfolk. It is his staff, as tall as a man and beautfully wrought, that marks him as a magus. He humbly greets all present, starting with the redcap, and assumes his seat.

[center]Vonette de Lorraine ex Flambeau[/center]

The diminutive Vonette is the next maga to enter the room, her brown hair flowing behind her as she walks with a purpose and determination that doesn't necessarily match her height. And as she begins to take her seat, she sees the falcon perched upon the warrior's shoulders. And she shudders.

"You know that bloody bird isn't allowed in here. Do you want it ruining the map? Or leaving its excrement all over the books? I should leave and hold up the meeting until you get that foul fowl out of here. And you call yourself a magus..."

OOC: I'm waiting on Ignes to post, but wanted to make sure you guys know that Vonette is in the room.

Morat keeps working and does not look up, but speaks very clearly, "Shareer I am sorry. Indulge us, we can talk afterward," and pauses for a moment. "Once we have familiars there might be all manner of bitches in here, may as well get used to it."
The falcon lets out a very human-like snort as it take wing and flies out the door.

After you have all arrived, you take your normal seats at the table. Even to this day, 3 years after the founding of the Covenant, you are still amazed that there is a seat for each of the 12 Houses at the table, even though your numbers represent but half that. And it looks strange with you not all sitting directly next to each other, instead taking the seat designated for your House in its place at the table; to outsiders it would look as if you didn't know what you were doing, but to you it is just...normal.

Ash, when asked about being extended Parma by Valentine, merely shakes her head and politely declines the offer under the pretense that she does not wish to be in his debt for any reason. She isn't being rude or standoffish, and she explains as nicely as she can that she makes her own way in the world, and doesn't wish to be a burden upon anybody. And she also mentions a second time about not being in anyone's debt; this particular choice of words of hers strike a chord within each of you.

You discuss normal amounts of business as the meeting starts, such as annual income and who is planting what crops and sharing stories about who blew up what labs during the Winter season. It's all rather detailed and boring, and at times you swear that there are people in the room who might actually be sleeping through parts of the meeting. But eventually you get through the simple details, and Vonnette makes a motion - that is carried unanimously - to give the floor to Ash. The woman bows when given the floor, standing dead center of the area so as to make sure she can be seen and heard by all.

"Esteemed Magi of the Covenant of Semita Errabunda," she begins, confidence and determination in her voice. "I would like to start by extending thanks to you for allowing me to speak here, in this meeting, at the behest of the Order. Your kindness and hospitality shall not go unnoticed."

She bows again, nodding to any who clap or thank her for being kind.

[b]"We do, however, have 2 very important pieces of business to discuss. The first is a matter close to me, and, without displaying too much hubris, shall be the first. A friend of mine, an old nun who used to be a custos at the former Covenant of Calebais, who knew I was headed here on other business for the Order, asked me to speak to you about something that may cause great consternation, not only for her, but for the Order at large.

"The nun has many contacts among the Cisternians, and she told me that a village closest to the former Covenant site was recently the scene of a terrible event. A respected man of the community was found dead in the nearby forest, gored to death as if upon the horns of some wild beast. His daughter is missing and presumed dead, and the villagers are scared. Not because of this one incident, but because this is the latest in what the nun has said is a series of mysterious incidences; they say an evil lurks in the forest, born in the pagan ruins that lie within the enchanted wood.

"Villagers are asking for the king's representatives to gather all available men and search the forest. She fears that these attacks were caused - either directly or indirectly - by Calebais, and that any investigation into them by the mundanes would lead to even more greatly strained tensions between them and the Order. This could turn the wrath of the king onto the local magi, and perhaps worse, what with the abbot at the nearby monastery having distant ties to his Holiness the Pope.

"Someone from the Order needs to investigate this and make sure that there is no evidence to implicate the Order or lead someone back to the lost Covenant. If nothing else, this may be a chance to find the Covenant site and rescue some of the treasures that have been deemed lost to the ages."[/b]

Ash reaches into the folds of her outer coat, producing an old, rolled piece of parchment, carefully unrolling it.

"The nun gave me this letter, claiming it was written by the last magi of Calebais. A Tytalus named Crenvalus."

As she unrolls the letter, you can see that the parchment is torn in many places, the bottom of it completely missing. Ash reads from the parchment.


I have a sad tale to tell. Calebais is no more. It has been destroyed. Heed well my warning, if you desire to avoid our fate, for I write to you from my grave. Perilous was the devil that beset us, but his embrace was not inevitable. Learn from our mistakes in dealing with this evil that covered our eyes and took hold of our hearts.

Mormulus’s Veil was the beginning of our end. It was the means to bring peace to Calebais and those who lived within, but after all else, it was that which destroyed us. Though it had no power to harm of itself, it is what allowed the demon to strike, and when it finally usurped the Code of Hermes, our seduction was complete.

I beg of you, my friends, beware the pride that holds your souls captive. This sickness will destroy you as surely as it destroyed us. Be strong; unite, and bond together. Do this lest you also be beset by the curse that fell upon us. If you think you can atone for our great sin, retrieve our great Bell of Ibyn. This device of warning served Calebais since its founding, though it could not prevent the evil that penetrated our deepest thoughts. Yet our fabulous treasure may protect you against danger from without, as it did us, if you are already safeguarded against danger from within.

To reach the Bell, you must first pass through Mormulus’s Veil. This can be done if you find the dryad who lives upon the hill. The twelve guides will lead you to her if you follow them in the correct order. The thief in red is first, followed by one who crawls through the air, one who crawls upon the earth, one who...[/i]

"That is all there is; there is nothing further written hereupon."

If you have Order of Hermes Lore, please provide a stress die roll of Intelligence + Order of Hermes Lore.

Valentine looks perturbed by Ash refusing the protection of his Parma but takes it in stride. He listens intently to her presentation and upon her conclusion of reading he letter and a long enough silence to imply pause for questions asks "I apologize for my ignorance and deffer to your expertise. Where, seeing as it is our house's place to know the locations of all covenant's, is this Covenant of Calebais?"

<OOC Liliana is not yet finished nor approved, but for continuity's sake I will play her attending the meeting. She is a wild-looking person of frightening intensity, who seems always to be considering whether to eat you, wearing simple robes of white; as she is Mute, she mostly gestures and assents towards Magi, but she can communicate by creating words in the minds of mundanes. She is usually under an illusion that makes her seem normal, so that mundanes are not frightened by her appearance. To avoid any scrying charges, she usually uses the same seeming while with Magi, and the appearance is of her normal form sans Disfigurement OOC>

A sinewy reddish-blonde woman of medium height, in pure samite robes, and sandaled, arrives late. She gazes intently by way of salute at each magus, assenting with her head, last of all to Ash, whom she approaches and offers her hand in greeting; you get the impression she might be catching the scent of the Redcap. Liliana then proceeds to curl bonelessly in her chair, like it was her throne, and listens languidly, staring at nothing. Apparently.

Adeline's stylus has taken a few notes on the clay tablet. When Ash has finished Adeline replies, "I see this as a duty that has found its way to us. The Order should be protected. And in return we may find benefit for our covenant as well. Ash, I would presume the Redcaps know at least the approximate former location of Calebais, even if not how to enter nor even the exact location. Would I be correct?"

Ash bows slightly when asked about the location.

"Records show that the approximate location is somewhere near the abbey of St. Evroult, near the town of Aigle."

Valentine gestures to the giant map on the table "Again pardon our ignorance, can you point it out so we can plan accordingly? Is there an expected time frame before the king's men arrive to the region?"

He looks to the other magic in the room. "It will take some planning for the trip, does anyone else know spells for traveling? Otherwise it could take days or weeks to reach the location in the first place."

Calendeau snorts angrily: [b]"Haven't you been listening? The letter mentions a demon. Must I remind you of your oath? I will not deal with devils. We have all sworn this. So let's leave this problem to the quaesitores. Let's not fall for the machinations of some quicksilver Tytalus tongue.

What is the second piece of business you are bringing us, Redcap Ash?"[/b]

In reply to Calendeau Adeline says, "And yet there is need for someone to make sure the Order of Hermes is not implicated in anything. I do not plan to deal with demons. But I do plan to protect the Order."

Then she returns to Valetine's question. "I can travel quickly myself along with plenty of supplies. Transporting the rest of you would be harder, but I could probably help."

Order of Hermes lore + roll = 9

Morat speaks up, "This is grave. Before we argue actions, we need to know what else may be required of us. "

When asked about other matters that might need to be discussed, Ash gets a rather sad look on her face, solemn and reserved. She folds her hands over one another, clasping them near her waist.

"As you are aware, this Covenant at Semita Errabunda was the product of many years of debate and discussion among the magi of the Normandy Tribunal, its acceptance finally gained when a ranking member of Jerbiton - Jerome - agreed to sponsor its founding. And you now sit in the council room that he himself designed, discussing matters important to the Covenant."

She waits for a few moments, and you can see her eyes shift, the sparkle nearly leaving them, a sort of sadness filling them.

[b]"And it is with great regret that I inform you that he is now lost. Disappeared, without any trace. His last known location was on the road somewhere near the bishopric of Bayeux; whether he actually made it to the bishopric or not is unknown. All attempts to find or contact him have so far failed, and he is to be presumed dead.

"Beyond the fact that he is in at least some small way a founder of this Covenant, his will is to be read at Cunfin in 3 seasons' time. His filius Eloi is tasked with putting Jerome's affairs in order before the Winter Solstice, and his will is to be executed during the Council meeting at Cunfin on that date. And the Order has asked that at least one of you be present during that meeting. It is also asked that someone make their way to Bayeux and make one last attempt to locate him in the hopes that his body, whatever state it may be in, might be recovered and brought back to Cunfin for a proper burial."[/b]

OOC for Adeline, results of the Order of Hermes Lore roll. The following is what you personally recall of the stories you have heard about the Covenant during your studies:

Calebais was a covenant that gained notoriety in its Tribunal for being destroyed about fifty years ago. The magi there were very proud, more so than most, perhaps because of their reputed great wealth. The tunnel in which the magi lived originally belonged to a great dragon, which the magi turned to stone. Their limitless wealth was taken from the dragon’s hoard. When their magic failed, the dragon awoke and reclaimed its lair. The covenant took as its symbol the image of a broken crown surrounded in flames. It was located within a faerie forest, but the wizards did not get along with the faeries. Magi from Calebais used to boast that they were protected by a legendary magical bell, which made them invulnerable, and its powerful magic still remains. Calebais was supposedly protected by a sort of magical veil, and though the covenant fell, the veil remains, and prevents arcane investigation of the covenant. The magi also had a device called The Bell of Ibyn, a powerful artifact of mysterious origins, and claimed that because of it, no attack or intrusion could catch the magi unawares.

"Well, this puts us in a jam, doesn't it?" Adeline says after Ash's addition item. "It is important to look into Jerome's disappearance quickly, but it is also important to make sure things around Calebais are settled quickly enough that rumors don't get out of hand and cause problems for the Order. I have a feeling Calebais is more pressing, as this could be a problem for the Order as opposed to a problem for an individual magus, albeit a magus we are indebted to. Either we split to handle these, or we do one at a time."

Calendeau raises his index finger and smirks. "I still say we are not in a rush. If we take on these tasks, it seems like a good idea to get quaesitorial sanction first. I don't see why we should do anything for the order only to have them come after us later with complaints about this and about that. Make them appreciate first that we are the ones taking care of things. Let's not hand out favors for free. My lab time is too important to waste on frivolous volunteering."

Adeline listens and replies, "I have no problem with notifying the Quaesitores of our intentions, and I've never suggested otherwise. It would certainly be prudent. I would be happy to draft such a letter. We even have a Redcap here who could deliver a message for us. But we could certain get prepared for the journeys before hearing back."