[color=blue]You can assume that the events described now are within the first two weeks of Winter or so.
Siobhan: The surprising thing of the Covenant of Voluntas is how much the mundanes seem to run things. The Magi seem to be kings and queens only of their own Sancta, while the mundane Seneschal makes demands of their time. He serves meals that you and the magi will attend. Your places at the table are not necessarily the highest either. A clergyman runs a mass at a chapel on the grounds once a week, initially you wondered what it was that made your Parma, even your Gift flicker like that, and you receive frowns if you are not going to Mass (Julia is one that attends). The manor is decorated with boughs and wreaths for the coming festivities, and a party is planned on the Winter Solstice, which to your surprise will have many mundane guests. The Magi, who are the typical freakish lot you've come to expect in the Order, seem to endure these mundane intrusions in much the way the brute animals tolerate the bugs that continue to torment them. However you don't wish to be rude, and the luxury is something you have never seen. An Italien merchant imposes upon your studies one day in order to fit you for some fine new velvet robes, and a warm cloak trimmed with Ermine, a gift from Voluntas, to see you through the cold winter nights.
Through your studies, you have found that Nerius lived quite a fascinating life. If what his letters say are true, he was capable of some amazing feats! Healing without Vis, transporting himself vast distances without Arcane Connections, casting powerful spells in regionnes both Divine and Infernal, and an unbeaten record in Certamen against some of the best in the Order, including a Tremere that would later become an Archwizard. The other thing that you discover through the recent notes from Julia and also the interviews of others was how the Monk Kristoff Hamilton came to Voluntas. He hailed from a monastery near Stamford. Stamford is close to at least three other Covenants of the Order. Yet Kristoff never went to those for his quest. He headed straight to Voluntas, which was much further away. While Voluntas has an impressive library and is known among mundanes for this, there is no reason for any outside the Order to believe it has a greater library than others. From the notes and interviews, Kristoff claims he just knew that this was the place to go. Voluntas is without doubt, the greatest repository of lore on Nerius on the Birtish Isles, and is comparable Durenmar and Magvillus for its collection on him. How did Kristoff know?
[color=blue]Are there specific questions you wish to ask of the magi, Grogs, and Custos, or specific info on Nerius or Kristoff you are researching?
Bjorn: It is so bloody cold! Marvelous! The drafty cave is actually comfortable for you, but you know that most others would be spending much of their time stoking a fire or casting Ignem spells. If not for your desire for privacy you might leave the door open to really get some circulation, but you have a feeling that the freakish servants might be just outside your door. While you are physically comfortable, you're often looking over your shoulder as you work well into the late nights. The magi do not deign to have dinner with you, the youngest wizard in the Covenant aside from yourself is Prelum, the filia of Golliard. It is her task to occasionally check on you and inquire of your comfort and well being. She is far more pleasant (both to look at and speak with) than Fornax, the other apprentice of Golliard. However you know she is sent here to pump you for information. Still, she is quite charming, you wonder sometimes, have you told her more than you intended?
As the wind howls through the vast cave system you more and more often feel like you're being watched. You've thoroughly checked the lab for Wards, secret doors, lingering enchantments, unwanted visitors, and devices for spying, but never find anything. At a meal one of the servants tells a story of how Golliard defeated the Great Hunt, trapping it in caves of Iron, but how at times it is still hunting and searching, trying to find a way out. They tell other stories of the Tommyknockers that lurk in the deeps, playing tricks on the miners and servants, and even snatching the occasional apprentice. You tell yourself the Aegis is surely protection enough...isn't it?
[color=blue]What are you working on? Please post a description and give me a lab total, if you'd rather not post it publicly, you can send me a PM.
Rhodri and Jaen: Nigrasaxa is a bundle of energy. It's new, it's fresh, and it's filled with the exuberance of youth. The magi are a quarelling lot, eager to find their place in the Covenant and the Tribunal and the Order. Caltis of Tremere, Herrit of Tytalus and Ariel of Flambeau in particular are beligerent. You realize early on that they have a tendency to goad each other into Certamen so as to establish their pecking order. Rhodri advises you to stay away from them, they'll find an excuse to duel you any chance they get. They actually keep a slate that they tally their various victories upon each other and visiting magi. You notice that they all have victories over Rhodri. The Grogs love to watch the spectacle of Certamen, and place bets on the winner. You could scarecely imagine what this Covenant would be like without Maximianus, for despite his age and seeming frailty, none dare challenge his obvious power. His name is noticeably absent on the slate. There is a Verditius among the young magi as well, a toy maker named Thamik who they say has the blood of the Fae dwarves in him. The dimunitive little ball of energy is one of the grouchiest people you've seen. Between grumbling about most anything under the sun though he'll often strive to be seen as a generous host. One minute he'll freely offer some dried oranges from the Holy Lands, then next complain that someone is eating all his oranges. He carries a bag of toys and trinkets though that he gives to the Covenant children, at those times he seems genuinely happy. He's on the slate (with losses), but informs you that he keeps a letter which will be delivered on the Full Moon to the next hot blooded magus that wishes to make a reputation by flippantly challenging him to certamen. He hasn't had a challenge in awhile. Siffed of Criamon and Morlen of Merinita are rarely seen, in fact the only thing you know about them is that they are on the slate and have Sanctums in the tower.
Working with 'The Great' Maximianus is not all you thought it would be. The venerable Bonisagus is not necessarily easy to work with. He certainly is master in his lab, and efficient in a way that's quite impressive. However...you thought that as a magus you were deserving of a bit more respect, you're a Magus, not an apprentice! Rhodri often has to act as an intermediary between the two of you in order to try and soften some of the harshness, but the constant sniping and commands he gives is truly grating. And when he's not commanding you, he's berating the both of you. For Rhodri it's his lack of spine. For you...it's your House. The old Bonisagus seems to be quite the historian on Hermetic Lore, and he doesn't have much good to say about the 'Tinker's Guild' which is how he often refers to House Veriditius. He accuses Verditius himself of hiding whatever meager secrets of magic he knew and that his apprentices turned their Art into a clearing house of trinkets and baubles. This is all said in the tone and voice of someone quite old and set in his ways. Rhodri is often apoligizing for his Master (even as he is berated for doing so) and also tries to emphasize the great prestige it is to work with one of the most famous Bonisagi outside of Durenmar. One of the worst things he said was how House Verditius should be relegated to a 'servant House' similar to the Redcaps, to make devices for 'real magi' to free up their time so they can do the important work.
Bear in mind, he is this abusive about all of the other Houses, but you are the only one aside from Rhodri that is often in his presence. These are just some of his opinions: Criamon aren't magi at all, just a bunch of priests and philosophers who tatoo themselves and ingest vis-laden drugs. Tremere are whipped dogs that are far too proud of their little games. Flambeau are thugs that stole fire from Prometheus and try to impress their betters by killing and blowing things up. Mercere are failures that think they actually still belong at the table with real magi. Jerbiton are hedonists and tricksters, they use peasant magic and try to tell real wizards how to behave. The Merinita are all faerie imposters and should be driven from the Order. For Bjoarnaer, the one real failure of the Schism War was that they didn't finish off the other pagan House. The Guernicus are meddlers that think they know best how their superiors ought to behave, if they were any good at magic they'd stop trying to interfere so much. The Tytalus are devil worshippers, and if they're not devil worshippers then they're rabble rousers, either way they're up to something. He doesn't even bother to mention or bring up Ex Miscellenea.
[color=blue]Will you rise to the challenge of the younger magi, the jocks of this Covenant, who are seeking to goad you into Certamen? How do you respond to the near constant barrage of slights and insults that Maximianus sends your way?