The Exarch (late summer 1242)

Cidito will sit an chat with you and maybe share some insight.
[color=orange][b]mehwr, the guys been depressed. He was muttering something about how it is now ten years gone by and he is no closer to his goal. Remembers, It wuz ten years ago we had our undersea adventure. Rob chickened out abouts gettin hitched to the wueen and figgured he needed to become an archmagus first.
And the bottle. Thatz how he and his goil chat. About once every month or two.

As for this Primus thing, I can tell you why he ain't worried about that. He don't believe in it. It wuz, like, a while ago Santiago came ta visit. Waz trying to talk Robbie inta crashing the party at Provencal. Some plot to swell the ranks to shout down the other guy and puff up Pietro. Sez him he does that a dozen other Knights of Seneca are gonna be there. Whis is a big deal, cus like there is only seven of them guys left I think.
The other primus, Gary. Robert don't care for Gary so much and don't mind replacing him. But he thinks dis her plot Santi and ol' Pete haz going is, he phrased it all fancy to, he said "Tytalean chicanery most unbecoming those whose sacred duty is to uphold the Torch of truth and wisdom". Double meaning there. Flambeaux/Torch. Get it? I think it is romanticized crap. That is not (heh-heh) what those guys usually wind up doing. So he sorta had a feeling they wuz gonna try something, but figgured nothing would come of it.
As it is now, I haz no idea what he thinks. Can't read his mind. We has a send-recieve sorta mentalation link. [/b]
Carlos adds in. [color=blue]I do know what he thinks. I only know half of what you guys are talking about, and I don't usually engage in magical thought exchange. I just know the man. Almost four decades, from the day we two orphan boys became soldiers. One thing ever constant about that kid. He doesn't play games. Oh, he has his crafty side and can be sneaky when he needs to. But he is deadly serious when he goes about it. Right now, this "chicanery" as Cito said he called it (and that sounds like something he'd say when he gets all puffed up and dramatic), he thinks this is all bull$#!+. Mierda. He doesn't want to play thier game. He's going to make them play his.

Lucas shakes his head slowly. "It's got to be hard being separated from from his one true love like this," he says sadly. "I can't imagine being separated from Cecelia. I know it tore Roberto up having to turn down Soteira's proposal back after Attumah was defeated. I hope he does make it to be an archmagus so that he can finally be with her for good. But that's a tall order to fill. I know. I'd like to fill it myself some day, crazy as that sounds. I'm no warrior, it's true. Still, there are other types of archmagus than military ones." He smiles a wry smile.

"I can see how Roberto would want to keep out of the plotting about House Flambeau," Lucas says, returning to the subject at hand. "I'm keen to avoid it myself. I'm also concerned that Pietro is looking to drag Andorra, if not into the middle of this mess, at least pretty close." He sighs. "But what's done is done. We have to deal with the world as it is, not how we'd like it to be. I hope Roberto can play the game on his terms. I really do. But just in case that doesn't work out for the covenant, I'm going to hedge my bets and see what else I can learn about this whole situation."

"Thanks for the wine, and the information."

Lucas returns to deliver his message to Pietro.

"Honored Primus," he says, entering the room and bowing his head. "I was able to locate Roberto of Flambeau and deliver your message. Regretfully, Roberto will be unable to meet you until tomorrow evening. You're welcome to the hospitality of the covenant until then, if you like. I know Carmen would wish us to offer no less." Lucas expects that the archmagus has more important things to do than wait around for Roberto to arrive. But the offer had to be made.

"We also have a Mercere guildhouse at the covenent, as your excellency* is well aware, with portal links to Harco, Doisettep, and Barcelona. There are numerous Redcaps available for delivering messages should you need any sent. I would be happy to request a Redcap come to see you should you need one's services."


    • I'm not sure what the proper honorific is for a primus, but hopefully an Int + Etiquette (magi) check would reveal that to Lucas. It can't be that hard a difficulty (I hope). It's like knowing that you call a king "your majesty."

Int + Etiquette check: 1D10+6 = [2]+6 = 8

Pietro has just finished discussions with the Pontifici, and desires to speak to each and every magus of the covenant in turn. He has been told of the Exarch's coming visit. They say he cackled witheerie laughter that echoes (Twilight scar), and sought out the Blackcap. When you find Pietro, the Archmagus and Herald are drinking wine and trading stories.
Lucas fills him in, and Pietro smiles & nods.
I can wait. I will be staying on for the Exarch's visit and the Full Council Meeting that has been called for. I shall speak to him when the time comes, as I shall speak to at this moment.
I come seeking the support of your covenant, for as you shall soon learm if not already, there is a dispute for the Primacy. Young traditions do not superceed old laws.
The situation is thus. In my former capacity as Antares, I have overseen three major conflicts of the Order. One was a conflict up in the far North, one your own Carmen participated in when she was young. The second was something you may know nothing about but may become relevant one day. The third was the recent Dragon Wars, in which your Vibra participated in with great honor.
In each, I was dissapointed in the participation and perforance of my fellow Flambeau magi. For this reason I visited the recent Provencal Regional Tribunal, heart of House Flambeau, hoping to drum up support and stir my sodales.
Though I respect Garus, his opossition and passiveness constitute a threat to the safety of the Order and human society. True chivalry is equal parts blood and flowers.
I did not wish to become the usurper, but my hand was forced by both necessity and the clamor of the many Flambeaux at the gathering. I invoked the Law, the Code of Apromor as written by our first Primus. I challenged Garus to a duel, he refused the traditional contest so we settled on Certamen. I chose his best Technique and let him pick my weakest Form. The will of powers on high chose that I should triumph, and by that and the acclimation of the magi of House Flambeau, with representatives from all tribunals and a number constituting a quarum of the House, the burden of Primus was placed upon my shoulders.
Garus disputes this result, and insists that a Grand Convocation be formally conducted in a year, gathering a fuller representation that has time to consider an opinion.
Though my appointment is just and lawful, I do conceed Garus makes a fair request. And I am not worried. It is time for a change. My sodales know it. The convocation will simply confirm it.
The support I will be asking of you is not political. I am that assured that I will already have that and that it will matter not if I don't. But I would be saddened without it. Though there only a few Flambeaux here, this covenant figures prominently in the history and legends of House Flambeau. Your crypts house the Eternal Flame of Delendos! your vaults hold the secrets of Valdarius! This is the covenant of Flambeau legends such as Cortes, Antonio, Dimir Taar, Carmen, Valentino, Vibria, Roberto, Xalbador, Ignus Glacius, and many more!
Then there are Mercere of great renown in whose footsteps you follow.
So important is this covenant to ancient Houselore, that I would like to propose to Garus that we hold our convocation here. On neutral ground. Outside of any tribunal.
With your permission of course.

But the support I seek from you is yet something else. Wheels are already in motion and I am in the process of enacting my vision for reform. I seek to erase the divisions and trepidations. A unified House, stronger, more organized. In a Mythic Europe with Supernatural Forces that seek to subjucate and oppress us, House Flambeau stands as the shield to safeguard the security and liberty of the Order and Human Society, champions of God and Man. We are the Torch bearers, the Light against the raging darkness. For the night is dark and full of terrors.
To that end, I have declared Val-Negra to once again be the Domus Magnus of my Huse. I have donated the entirety of my personal fortune to the rehabilitation and restoration of this unparelled center of training and excellence. Never lost but ever hidden, it has been the residence of a single magus ever since the close of the Schism War. The legendary Archmagus Abbadon of Tytalus yet lives in the flesh! Not a ghost as rumors claim.
Wheels are in motion. I have already recruited a dozen young magi and a few elders to join my new covenant.
What I seek of you is an alliance between covenants. I wish to reopen a portal between us. I want your support in reestablishing the Val-Negra tribunal, the one to which your covenant pledges alliegance to as an excuse for neglecting Provencal and Iberia.
And I want to hand you your enemies on a silver platter. I have located Valten IV and where he has stashed what remains of the goods he stole from you. He is hiding in Egypt. The Sahara. He is looking for the City of Brass. I think you are familiar with the place? I have already given Arachne and Solomon information and materials. A gift in good faith.

Rilcheaux (assuming he was in attendance) listens quietly and thoughtfully to this announcement before Raising two questions "Can you actually reopen Val Negra as a covenant?" and "Would you, Carmen, or someone else be the prefix of the Val Negra Tribunal, should it be recognized by the Grand Tribunal?"

Lucas leans back in his chair, listening carefully to all that Pietro says, hands steepled in front of him.

"The question of having the Grand Convocation here is straightforward in my view," Lucas replies. "I feel that one of the strongest arguments for our current Tribunal neutrality is that we can provide a location for contentious meetings such as this one - even though security concerns in hosting it may drive Arachne mad. But, if we're not available as a resource like this to the other Tribunals, then I believe our neutral status would be weakened. I can support that proposition, at least, in Council."

"I'm intrigued by your talk of a stronger Order, but also concerned. As a member of House Mercere, I'm devoted to keeping the Order in general as strong and robust as possible. But many a would-be conqueror has spoken of peace and security, showing the velvet glove before revealing the iron fist. And its not unheard of for a venture that starts off in the right to slowly drift into corrpution. Julius Caesar became Emperor in part to make Rome more secure. And while he ruled well, later abuse of imperial power gave us Nero and Caligula. You might well be an Augustus Caesar, gathering power for all the right reasons. But that doesn't mean that there won't be a Caligula down the line taking over the reins of power."

"Of course, the question of your primacy is not before us. That's for House Flembeau to determine, and as you say, you're not concerned about that. But supporting Val-Negra is tantamount to supporting your primacy. The two seem inexorably linked. I'll be very interested to hear what Carmen and Roberto have to say about this, both being members of your House."

"Now, the question of joining - or perhaps I should say 're-joining' a Val-Negran Tribunal is a thornier question, as you well know. It would amount to a major change for Andorra, one that brings advantages and disadvantages. We'd gain much by joining in with your new venture. Allies, for one. But we'd also be taking a great risk. We'd gain enemies allong with our new allies. And if your venture fails, we might well be dragged down with it."

"You're clever in your arguments, though, and put us in an interesting position," Lucas says. "We've always used the fig leaf of Val-Negra to maintain our independence from Iberia and Provencal. If the Val-Negran Tribunal is indeed being reconstituted, we have to either rejoin or lose that fig leaf. And I don't doubt that you'd find another covenant to replace us if we elect not to join. One way or another, you intend to get the Val-Negran Tribunal up and going."

"The question of linking Andorra and Val-Negra by portal is one as much for House Mercere as for us. I'm all for increasing the connectivity of the Order. It makes trade and communication easier. And making Andorra a larger hub increases our importance. But Mercere Portals aren't cheap. It'll take a lot of money or a lot of persuasion to get House Mercere to put you to the top of the list."

When Abbadon of Tytalus is named, Lucas can't help but show his surprise. "But that would make him ... well, very old indeed. And hidden for all these years." Lucas has his doubts that Abbadon has been at Val-Negra all this time, but he holds his tongue. "That's quite remarkable."

In the end, Lucas sighs and nods at Pietro's words. "It's all a great deal to think about," he concludes. "A great deal indeed. This I can promise you, though. I shall think long and hard on your proposal and give it all proper consideration before the Andorran Council votes on it."

Arachné will get the message quite late, being absorbed in laboratory work (and her lab isn't the most accessible of places^^).
Sigh.... More trouble at our door. One can never be at peace.
Once outside, she quickly fetches Eva
"Come with me, look, and listen. Do not say anything unless spoken to.
This is exactly the kind of trouble I want you to learn about. Watch this guy. He's old, and full of cunning. Watch Lucas, too. There's a reason I supported him as our herald.
Dear god, this sucks mightily."

It is my understanding as well.

And whatever her understanding, this is what Arachné would push for.

This'll have Arachné interested. She didn't forget. She doesn't forgive.
And although it seems she was only concerned by Andorra's security, she always kept a part of her mind focused on Valten IV.

You can meet with him when Lucas does or alone, as may any magus. He plans on staying up until after midnight.
[color=gray]Val-Negra is already open. It never truly closed. It was merely clandestine for a while. There were reasons but that situation was resolved.
I am not sure what you mean by Prefix, but I am guessing you refer to the office of Praeco. Ancient law mandates that it should be the oldest magus in the tribunal. Arachne would take precedence over Carmen, and I am older that your Spider. And Abbadon is far older than I!

To Lucas...
[color=gray]Your fears are understandable, young magus, but there is no need to worry. I am not trying to take over the world or rule the Order. I seek only to reform and rebuild one House. To retemper the sword of justice and light that once shone as a beacon to guide the Order. Hardly anyone thinks of House Flambeau as the premier combat magi of the world anymore. Those that floowed Garus have become like sheep. Those that follow their own way have become reckless and like unto loose steam.
Are you aware of the secret power of steam? The ancient Greeks had a device, it would harness and control steam and transfer it into motion. No magic! Mundane mechanics.
So that is what modern Flambeaux are. Either sheep or loose steam.
Your own Robert. Did you know his parens was a war criminal and a murderer? And Robert was quite the killer in his youth. Did he ever mention how he killed a mother guarding her child? He was but an apprentice and doing what he was trained to do. They were searching a town to clear out Sahirs before the Castilian army was to come through. House to house, door to door. One was empty save for a hiding child. Robert was startled by his surprise presence, but backed down. Then the mother jumped out of nowhere, fearful for her child. No time to think. Sudden reaction. He fast casted his magic and she was set ablaze and died. It wasn't his fault. He was but an apprentice being used as a soldier. He was not trained to be cautious or take prisoners.
This all came out in the investigation that followed the death of Joel Muniz, his parens, after the battle at Las Navas thirty years ago. He was absolved and immediately took to fighting in the Shadow Wars to clear his reputation. He has gained his own honor and renown. Yet the legacy still stains him. He bears that heavy burden.
Have you ever met another Falmbeau who says he is tired of killing? Now you know why he says that.
That is but one minor example. A minor one at that. But one close to home.
The recklessness of Joel Muniz is a direct result of Flambeau magi acting without leadership. In rebellion against Garus because his ways are too soft.
There is a middle ground. A balance between discipline and aggression.

After some thought and consideration, Vibria pens (quills?) a note to Markus.

[color=red][i]Esteemed Exarch,

I hope that your journey to Andorra was peaceful and without incident, and that it did not leave you overly tired.

If you can fit it into your undoubtedly busy schedule, I would like to meet with you at your leisure – perhaps over lunch or a glass of wine.

I look forward to your response, which you may return with my maidservant who is delivering this message to you.

General Vibria Filia Fulminara Flambonis Nascor Draconem, Mistress of Andorra[/i]

(She will also sign with any honorifics she earned in the Dragon Wars.)

My previous post was Markoko rambling and enfeebled Pietro's argument. I was trying to get into Flambeau mystacism and got distracted by my side story.
It's like this. House Flambeau is like unto a raging inferno. Dousing it will weaken but not extinguish it, and create a chaotic mass of scalding steam. By analogy, that is what Pietro is saying the leadership of Garus has done. It has weakened the House, making many indecisive and slow to act (slow burning). The chaotic mass of scalding steam is an analogy for the unchecked factions that disregard the new codes and act independantly without leadership. There are also divided loyalties within the house. Faith & Flame goes into detail on the rivalry between the currently dominant Mithraic faction and the traditional Mercurian magi. There is also problems in Iberia with the legacy of the Shadow Wars and involvment in Reconquista. Then there is this band in Thebes of Spartan Flambeau, who in all but name would otherwise be considered Tremere magi. But these guys are very anti-Tremere.
So there is that. Pietro is blaming Garus for all these problems, for being weak and timid, chaotic and violent, factionalised and disunified. All of it.
[color=grey]The Inferno must be managed and tempered, this is true. But ever so slightly. The steam must be harnessed, for it can be channeled to great effect. If left loose and chaotic, it scalds and burns as surley as fire.
I want to unify the House and cut accross divisions. Who cares if your lineage was Mercurian or Mithraic or Cantabrian or Tytalus? The Code of Garus favors the ideals of a single faction within a faction. The Code of Apromor was intended to unite us. The Legend of Delendos is supposed to inspire us. Garus had noble intentions, but the Road to Destrustion is paved with these. To replace the old code, as archaic as he feels it is, served only to fracture us.
You cannot unburn what is burnt. You can only burn in a new direction. Quothe Reculed the Founder.

And that was more rambling.
Anyway, Pietro will share these and other ramblings well into late night over supper. Those who retire early will get to meet with Exarch Markus at Dinner (at noon, what we moderns call Lunch).
Vibria is invited for an early morning breakfast when he arrives at Andorra an hour after dawn. As is Vocis, but Vocis also gets a special long private meeting latter on in the week, as well as various side meetings as they fit in.
But breakfast will be special for Vibria and Vocis only. Blackcap Herald knocks on Vocis' door at dawn to arrange it. Then Solomon has called for a meeting at supper with both Pietro and Markus to discuss what happened in Provencal last night, what Andorra has to do with any of it, what the Val-Negra situation is all about, and blahblahblah.
That's the schedual. Fit whatever you want to say to anyone in wherever you can.
Oh, may I presume Pietro and Markus each get Aegis tokens? And their shield grogs? Pietro has two, a pair of storm trolls that will rain-drop from his cloud. Nimbus, his familar stormcloud, will hover about the mountain.
Roberto will show his face at supper but not before. Cidito shows up early in the morning though, and starts poking around asking questions.

Oh, one more thing. A big thing actually. A big deal for Lucas. A message from the Primus of Mercere arrives just after midnight. An emergency meeting of all Magi of that House (currently about 20 in the year 1242).
The message reads, as paraphrased, [color=red]Come to Harco right now. If you got this message, you have the power to get here right now.

Lucas listens carefully to all that Pietro says in silence, nodding a few times as he does.

"No," he says at last. "Roberto never told me about that. But then, it wasn't something I needed to know. I respect his privacy about his past, and haven't pried. Now that I do know, however, I can say that I won't judge. I've never been in a battle myself, just small skirmishes. Even those were chaotic. I can only imagine how much more complicated things would be in a proper battle, or even a war. Roberto has to live with his actions. It's not for me to condemn them. I don't know that I would have done any better. But I'm not sure of your point. Do you think it was poor leadership on the part of House Flambeau that lead Roberto to that fateful action?"

"Nevertheless, I agree that the Order needs strength to defend itself and the mundane world from threats magical and monstrous. There are a great number of dangers out there that can only be countered with power and a unified front. House Mercere may hold the Order together, but without a strong defense there might be no Order to unite. And you make a compelling argument that House Flambeau is having trouble keeping up with its duty to be shield and sword for the Order. However, in fairness to the gravity of the situation, I feel I should also listen to the other side before I make any final decision about my stance on the issue."

If there's time once he's finished with Pietro, Lucas will attend the open lunch with the Exarch. He's quite keen to hear House Tremere's thoughts on the recent activity in House Flambeau.

When he's woken by Andre at midnight with the message from House Mercere summoning all the Gifted magi, he makes immediate plans to leave, stopping only to let Cecelia know what's happening (if she's not already in Harco), and gathering up Elena. The message said nothing about apprentices. But Lucas feels it's proper to bring her. If she had to sit out the meeting, so be it. But as a future Gifted maga of the House, she deserved to know that important matters were brewing. He leaves Horus behind as a communication link, telling him to be ready to speak to the other magi of the covenant at need.

Within a quarter of an hour after receiving the message, Lucas and Elena pass through the portal to Harco. Once there he immediately seeks out the meeting place. If there's any time before the meeting commences, he looks for his parens, Talbot, to compare notes. (They would likely be some of the first to arrive, living at covenants with portals.)

Curiously enough I was just working on a list of Gifted Mercere magi. I get ten and one apprentice, with ten others unnamed.

GIFTED MAGI: Decimus Scribonious Lepidus, Lucas (Mutantes), Talbot (Mutantes), Rodrigo Vasquez, Insatella (Primus), Elegans, Velox, Ophilio, Mercuria, Guillermo, plus ten unnamed magi.

I mis-spoke the sequence. I shall sort it out...

Day 1 (end of summer, start of free days)

  • Stuff went down at the close of the Provencal meeting earlier that day
  • Late afternoon: Vocis recieves the message of the Exarch's impending visit. His herald, Blackcap Bob, is chilling at the covenant making arangments.
  • Just after sunset: Pietro rolls in on his stormcloud (whis is also his familiar). Blahblahblah.
  • Informal supper meeting until after midnight
  • 2am, Lucas recieves the summons for an emergency meeting. This will last about an hour.
  • Dawn the next day, messeges go back and forth, and Exarch Markus Tremere arranges an early breakfast chat with Vocis and General Vibria.
  • 10 am, breakfast/dinner (brunch) with Markus and whomever wants to hang out.
  • Latter that afternoon, Roberto shows up pissed off looking for Pietro.
  • After sundet, supper and a meeting with Solomon, Markus, and everyone. Pietro shows his face again (not to be found all day, though his cloud stays parked just outside). Tall drama as we talk about what is going on.

Cidito is walking about to and fro, hiding in the fire place and gossiping with other familiars. He reports back to Roberto via Mental link a lot. He gossips back to the familiars that Robert is quite angry Pietro is telling stories about him.

Vocis won't attend the late supper on day one but does ask his familiar to seek and share rumours; keeping House matters silent. The silent communication assisting with clarity.

At dawn as planned Vocis breaks fast with Vibria and the Exarch. He as yet is more concerned for the House Tremere related matters than those of the Flambeau, as the covenant has an abundance of Flambeau to dwell amongst those. Interesting to have Vibria and himself invited together...

Vocis is well dressed but unarmed, and arrives with his apprentice and familiar.

"Exarch welcome. Pleasing to have you stay with us. It seems Hermetic politics desire our mind's attention. "

"Please let me introduce my new apprentice Clotide , and you know Celeste. "

Edit: he is also looking for an opportunity to discuss the Tremere matters in private.

Markus will wish to discus many things privately with just Vocis. As well as [strike]fnord[/strike]. But there will be time for that. The Primus situation is on his mind. But he has a mandate more pressing than that.
[color=brown]Grandmaster Vocis. General Vibria. I am glad you could both meet with me this early before the events of the day begin to gather. Vibria wanted to meet with me latter in the day, but for sake of efficiency and imperitive I wanted to meet with her right away. Vocis, I intend to be meeting with you for most of my time here and request you stay close to my side whenever possible. But I also wanted to see you first, along with Vibria, and cut straight to my primary purpose.
House Tremere is nearly bankrupt. The Dragon War and Transylvania Reconstruction have nearly depleated the reserves and we have had to withdraw all funds invesed in the Mercere banks.
Your hospital project. The budget has been cut to zero and funds allocated are to be reversed. Which means that I have come for all your vis. Plus the texts and tablets you currently have. The are to be sold or resitributed to the reconstruction. Vibria is here because she is a witness to what happened. I wasn't. You wern't. We owe this maga a debt. And I need your help General.
Coeris has more immediate matters to deal with, understood. But I want this Zenchodium hospital to become a reality. This hub unites four Tribunals. This hospital can serve as a major sanctuary in crisis.
House Tremere has not called for any taxes or tithes. But the have asked for donations. I have given much and I cannot personally affor to fund you myself at the moment. But Vocis, I want you to carry on! And I call on General Vibria, your covenant mate, war heroine, to help him. Be our spokes woman. Help us raise funds. Talk to your fellow magi about war orphans and young wizards that cast without gestures for having lost limbs they cannot afford to reattach. Twenty two magi dead, four of house Flambeau. And the widows.
You see where I am going with this?
Two heads are better than one. I have always had faith in Vocis, who is himself a Shadow War veteran. I have no heirarchy or command over you VibriaAll I can say is that if you serve in this cause, I will owe you my personal gratitude and favor.
And Vocis, Grandmaster of Andorra. Success in this will earn you respect and rank. And I pray you success. Thremere docterine be damed. These are dire times and I fear it will get darker before dawn. I need a magus like you to become a Tremere of rank.

OCC: I think I have a distant memory of the two of you. A dark secret you share. IBT might not know, was before he became Vocis. Also, Vocis probably has it mindwiped for security. Poena's Mentem magic explains a lot of things.
But Peregrine remembers.
which is just to say, you have both made your bones with each other and can trust one another utterly. or should anyway.

Should Harco be a separate thread? Rilcheaux will certainly head there immediately.

Nope. It all ties in with what's going on here, and forces Lucas to balance his time.
Also, Rich wasn't invited :mrgreen:
It was a special secret message for all the gifted Magi Mercere. A call for an emergency meeting (and a test of the new EBS protocol).
However [size=25](there is always a "however")[/size], wind of this secret meeting gets around to a few Redcaps that happen to be awake at that moment and are "in the loop" so to speak. And that would be Rich.
About sixteen magi show up for the meeting, and a half-dozen Redcaps such as Ric and another six that happened to be at Harco at that hour.
I'll get to their identities in a moment.
What has happened is a series of unfortunate events that led to drastic action, and the Primus Mercere is dead.
It appears to be suicide.
Oh, and the whole House Mercere Hermetic Economics system faces utter collapse.
Already in the past few years, the Tremere have been withdrawing more and more of their investment. They used to have substantial Vis deposits at Mercere banks accross Europe, and now their is almost nothing.
Then there was the Flambeau situation in Provencal this morning. You would think that would not matter much, but it did. A lot. It caused a bank run. Doisettep delivered a cheque requesting their whole account. Prominent Archmagi around the order want their Vis. Durenmar, Fengheld, Valnastium, Voluntas.
And then Val-Negra.
The Mercere bank stock was founded on the funds held on behalf of Val-Negra when it was mothballed. As a covenant now active, the account is live and in question.
Be that as it may, the Mercere cannot afford to pay the demand. Not by a longshot. Not by ten chess sets times ten. Or something huge and unfathomable like that. It has been invested in the Mercere infrastructure that keeps the Hermetic economy flowing. Portals and hubs. Longevity specialists and Venditiors on retainer.
So funds were mismanaged. And suicide seemed the solution.

Or was it?!?

That's the question everyone is shouting, and organization at this meeting quickly collapses. In all of ten minutes. Half an hour ago Lucas was in bed.

Vocis looks shocked and then he starts calculating ramifications as the Exarch speaks. Mid way through his attention and face snaps back to focus on Vibra and Markus eyes as the Exarch uses his title instead of his name.
Speaking softly - remembering his masters words "What we do, we do for the Order. " He looks between the two Magi, both held so high in his esteem. "How did it ever get so?" Rhetorically.

And then, "Your council makes sense. You have my word and support. I will not stand idle or selfish, and see The Order or the House crumble. "I will entreat Andorra."
"there are so many ramifications of this news that I'm lost in a forest of branching options. Yes I'm certain that our bankruptcy will shake the Order; Tremere hubris and foresight are only so strong. The Tytalus and Quaesitory will act when Flambeau and Tremere are changing. We will learn now if they have established Vexations of their own. "

Shaking his head and showing a black humour " you'll not need to offer me rank to gain my help, I'm not one suited for higher power. That said, I'll do my best to make sure there are senior Magi in the House left, so I can continue to stay out of the spotlight. So perhaps I'm being a little selfish. "

OOC: I'm not following all this yet, but I think Vocis would try to rise to the challenge.

For the first few moments, Lucas just sits there in shock. This was worse than he could have ever imagined. It was bad for House Mercere and bad for the Order in general. But quickly enough the initial shock wears off and he gets down to business. He tries for a little while to reason with people and see if he can get a discussion going about how to proceed. But when things dissolve into argument, he gives up on that plan. Instead, he seeks out his parens, Talbot, and a couple of the magi he knows best. (If unGifted Redcaps are at the meeting, he'll seek out Rilcheaux as well.) With them he tries to make an island of calm within the sea of chaos. They might only be a few magi out of many. But if they could move forward with a plan, maybe others would follow.

He presents three problems that need addressing. Primus, the bankruptcy of the House; secundus, the need to arrange for the election of a new primus; and tertius, the need to investigate the death of Insatella. There were other issues that would need to be looked into, of course. However, these seem to him to be the top three.

The bankruptcy was the biggest problem, of course. But if they handled it step by step they could manage it. The backbone of the house was strong. It still had a great deal of infrastructure and the vital work of the Redcap network to fall back on. That was sound, and vital to the operation of the entire Order. That the House was insolvent was only a temporary bump in the road. In time, all debts could be made good. The first step had to be to shut down the Mercere bank for a short time, say a week. No withdrawals allowed in that time. Then, a payment plan could be arranged to pay everyone at least a fraction of what they were owed. That was the only way to be fair and not let the initial comers clear out the vaults. For the rest of the creditors, they could issue promissory notes, to be redeemed later. It wasn't a perfect plan, but at least it gave a path forward. There was also the possibility of taking out a loan. But who else had large stores of vis? House Tremere had traditionally kept a large reserve. But that was gone now. A few rich covenants might have large stores. Unfortunately, what was considered large for a covenant might not be on the scale of what House Mercere needed.

Next, there was the question of primus. They would have to arrange for a convocation to be called to name a new primus. With luck, that could be done quickly. There were only nineteen possible candidates, and most of them wouldn't be interested. Surely the playing field would quickly narrow down to only a few people. And if any House could move quickly to arrange a gathering and get people together, it would be House Mercere.

Finally, there was Insatella's death itself to deal with. It looked like a suicide. But was it really? The smartest thing to do was get a specialized quesitor in to investigate. That would be the most skilled person available. But Lucas wasn't sure that the House wants an outsider handling such an important investigation. He'll float the idea of getting someone from House Guernicus to investigate, but will also explore the possibility of having a skilled Redcap handle the investigation instead. (Where's Brother Cadfael when you need him?)

In the end, Lucas will do his best to try and impose order on the situation, in however small a group he can manage. Sleep is far from his mind right now. Instead, he's focused on pulling his House back from the abyss.

Rilcheaux offers some simple observations "Things do not move this quickly, they only appear to do so. Doisstep would not have acted this quickly on news from France, they take years to respond to anything, and then generally indecisively. Which means they were advised ahead of time of the need to withdraw their funds. The ones whos hands are in every part of this, and who comes out ahead of the run, is the Tremere house. Their black caps will be unaffected by the blows dealt to our house, and they have withdrawn their fund before the run on the bank gave way to the collapse. The challenge in Flambeaux was inspired by them, and tears at the house best capable of mounting a campaign of resistance to whatever comes next. The last mage war was caused when Tremere targeted Diedne, and this looks to be the buildup to another possible War. The question then is whether Tremere seeks to eradicate the Mercere house, or only to inconvenience us while their pans are underway."