The Winter Harvest

[color=blue]Here is where the various projects and endeavors of the other wizards shall be posted. For the most part there will be large gaps of time here and not a lot of IC post by post activity. But feel free to post and have some fun here, it's always interesting to see what develops.

Siobhan The manor house of Voluntas is the height of luxury, Roman Princes probably do not live so well. After a somewhat quiet journey here (Julia says little to you, and you're thankful that Desiderius and Phesallia keep to themselves, the impressions that they made on you was unwholesome). Your welcome was similarly cool when you arrive but you are still given a luxurious guest bedroom, as well as access to the scriptorum for reading and a plethora of books on Nerius's life. Your mention of guards for yourself amuses Julia. Her response is earnest though. "My dear Siobhan, I would sooner lose my hand than allow a Quaesitor guest in our home come to any harm. It would ruin our reputation." The texts on Nerius equate to a Tracti on Hermetic Lore with a quality of 7, it would also allow you to change your specialty (or take it) on Nerius and/or Pious Magi.

Bjorn The price was steeper than you wanted, but without a lab, your season would be wasted. You are given a lab that is apart from the main cavern, a smaller cave, just suitable for a lab and sanctum that is your home during the Winter. You have been informed that use of their Library has its own fees and that Vis is set at a price that the Mercere's have determined to be fair and equitable. You have no servants, nor guards, but you are within the Aegis, and guards do patrol this part of the Covenant. You will have food and supplies though to last the Winter. Alone at last! The lab is Quality 0, if you were older and were staying longer it would have a living conditions modifier of -1 due to the dampness and cold. The Aura is an impressive +7, and you're pretty sure that explains the freakish servants that dwell here.

Rhodri and Jaen Nigrasaxa is so young you can almost smell the vis used to raise the mighty towers that make it up. The magi are also young, the grogs fresh and eager (for now). You are hardly noticed by the bustling magi and custos, so busy with their various tasks. Maximianus is every bit as ancient as you'd expected. He looks older than both Agitatus and Talion, but is supposedly younger. His frail frame seems like it might fall over in a stiff breeze. Initially he is not pleased with the request to build the new covenant, he had plans to work on his memoirs in the warmth of his sanctum. When he reads the letter that Julia penned before you parted ways though he changes his mind. Obviously a great reward was promised. He takes you to a special lab he has set up for occasions like this. There are no wards, no markings to indicate that it is a sanctum for any magus. Technically, no one owns it. Thus you can work in relative safety. The other magi are engrossed in their own projects to care much about what you are doing. It is a plain lab, obviously meant for guests. Shortly after arriving Rhodri finds the casting tablet that will be used to create your labs, and then you and he attend Master Maximianus, the famed Bonisagi, to craft a spell that will literally allow you to create an entire Covenant under ground! You will gain 2 XP exposure for Magic Theory this Season. You will also gain 3 xp to build a reputation within the Order, likely having to do with working with such a famous Magus as his assistant or creating such an ambitious spell.

[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. 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'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?

Siobhan frowns as she reads about Kristoff's travels in the covenant and carefully questions to try to determine who gave him access to the library if he had any. What books he got into and at the slightest hesitation, she will ask permission to use frosty breath of the spoken lie. She needs to determine exactly what Kristoff learned and read. She is concerned. She also tries to find out if anyone knows where he went after leaving the covenant.

Jaen finds the abuse from Maximanius cute. After living with his own Parens and remembering the final days before the end, it takes a lot to impress him.

As for the "slate", he sees no need to be on it. He stays to his quarters and Maximanius lab.

He takes to calling (Rhoderick? Rodi? Rhoda?) R., trying to pass it off as a nickname. If that doesn't work, he'll write the name down on a slip of paper and keep it tucked in his sleeve for quick reference's sake. He does the best he can to establish a good relationship with his future covenant mate.

He also studies how Maximanius has his lab set up. He asks R. questions about other labs he may have seen. In his scant spare time, he sketchs how he thinks his lab needs to be laid out and has started making a list of equipment he'll need.

Julia actually needs to intervene on your behalf to get the spell cast upon the servants. The seneschal is especially beligerant in resisting your requests, claiming that their guild charter with Voluntas protects him and others from such intrusions. Julia's intercession points out the clause that allows this.

Here is what you gather (from the mundanes):

  1. Kristoff never was allowed by anyone to get past the entry room and foyer (one servant did lie here, he said that he never made it past the entry room). He was not allowed into the library, either the mundane or the magical. The servants cannot answer for certain that he never got in there on his own though (they just don't know).
  2. None of the servants brought him any books. No lie, they point out that Julia's Custo did, and they don't know what books he brought.
  3. He stayed in a guest house on the covenant grounds for a month and attended mass at the chapel every day. He left without notice.

Questioning Custo Richard Thatcher:

  1. He confirms numbers 1 and 3 above with no lie.
  2. Richard initially lies when he said he brought no books or other materials to Kristoff. When pressed he informs that against his mistress's wishes he snuck a letter that has never been authenticated, to the monk. That letter may have been from an amici and disciple of Nerius named Valoran, who may have been of the Order of Hermes. The letter was written in code that they had not fully deciphered yet, but purportedly it has the details of the location of Nerius's tomb. He said he didn't see the harm as Kristoff was not very literate and would not likely be able to figure it out, but Kristoff was gone the next day and they haven't heard from him since.

Julia (she is the only magus that consents to having the spell cast on her):

  1. She confirms everything that the servants and Richard said without lie.

Julia informs you that only two more questions are allowed to be asked of her Custo or the servants. Any more qould require to show just cause and she would appeal as an interference with her and her covenant's magical resources for the undo stress and delay you're causing them. She also says she has answered enough of your questions, and will appeal to the Tribunal for any further questions asked of her with a spell on. She of course has no objections for your continued studies of the materials provided. You can make a Code of Hermes roll to test the validity of her claim. Non stress.

The beligerant magi are given little opportunity to challenge you. Rhodri corrects you several times and eventually gives up and lets you call him R, and also earns some more scathing remarks from Maximianus for not standing up to your inability to remember something as simple as a name.

Maximianus answers few of your questions about the lab itself, but Rhodri points out that the lab and its equipment and lay out are actually a product of the Spell that is intended to be cast for all of you. You are not as impressed as you thought you'd be, but upon a cursory examination of the spell tablet when you get the chance, you realize that the lab you are in is larger than a standard size lab, and also has had some additional provisions, making it ideal for multiple magi, but overall less efficient as a singular lab. From the tablet it seems that you need to plan ahead of time the way you want your lab and include that in the wording of the spell tablet while casting it. Doing so can help with the casting of the spell and the final product. You have already started making these plans (as has Rhodri). When the time comes you will make a Communication + Magic Theory Stress roll, the results can have an impact on the casting of the spell.

By your own calculations, the spell to create the covenant will be impressive, 9th or 10th magnitude at least, with Creo Terram as the main, and Rego and Perdo requisites. It's starting with a basic design of an inverted tower, he claims it is based off some destroyed covenant known as Calebais who did something similar, lost to anitquity. Maximianus will be casting it, and before he does, some modifications can be made as people decide, but as it is a ritual, there is of course risk.

She hadn't actually wanted to question Julia under frosty breath of the frozen lie since Julia had be open and truthful from the start. The spell for was for servants. Siobhan speaks very carefully to Julia, [color=red]"Your servants lied about allowing this monk into the covenant. THey lied about what documents were seen. They can not verify whether or not he might have gotten into the magical library which means security was lax.. He made off with a letter that supposedly is useless but you have no proof of the monk's true literacy or skill or what was written. You have allowed something to occur that could cause much mundane anger against the order."

"The code says I can not use mentem magic without your permission but once I have it, you can not limit it. I can investigate freely otherwise especially since this investigation was authorized at tribunal. I don't care a bit about your fight with Blackthorne and I will not take sides. The concern of the bias and the obvious conflict is why I voted as I did for a different presiding queasitor. I will let nothing interfere with my duty. If I reported just what I have found so far, the tribunal would be horrified and react very negatively. You would probably lose a lot of allies. I think both you and I would like to find out where he went and what is going on in detail. The sooner and better for both of us. You have a monk looking into the death of someone killed by a tribunal on march. If this becomes publically known, you have potential of someone that could be rallying cry against the order by someone looking for an excuse."

"I would recormmend your librarian review the library to see if any books are disturbed or missing. Meanwhile, I have to find out if anyone in the village or beyond saw where the monk went and follow his trail. I am likely to have a very long frozen travel this season. If nothing else, that letter should be recovered as well as any copies made and then secured or destroyed."

OOC: Code of hermes roll: 3 roll + 3 int +2 code of hermes = 8 (9 for political intrigue)

Julia seems unconcerned and perhaps bored by this.

"A servant lied, not all of them. I'm sure you've never lied to someone in authority when you were in superstitious awe of them, and that was already after you knew he'd been lead further into the manor. And when you asked if he could have gotten into the library without them knowing, they said it was possible. The magic library, with the books on Nerius is warded, I don't see how he could have gotten in. But I too, don't know if he got in our not."

Julia sighs. "I'm sorry you feel that way. But you're overestimating the importance of this investigation, and the ability of what a simple monk could do. As I said, the questioning may continue, but I will allow only two more questions of the servants you have questioned. After that you will be causing me and possibly my covenmates a loss of power as I scramble to retore order to my servants. Richard Thatcher is the Librarian, so feel free to ask him the questions you mentioned about the library. As for copies of the letter, it is the only known copy. The original dwells in Magvillus. We were given it to try and find out the cipher and decode it, but have been unsuccesful."

She gets up to leave before addressing you again. "We did search for him. The priest that holds mass knew nothing, and I wouldn't suggest casting a spell on him. We sent grogs into the nearby town and they knew of the monk from when he arrived the month before, but did not see him return. No one did, and we found no Arcane Connections in the house he stayed in. It was very strange, like he disapeared. Feel free to verify what you will in the village or question the sergeant of the Grogs that went into town."

[color=blue]Julia's Gambit: It's a tried and true delaying tactic that a powerful wizard might use under investigation, basically saying "See if you can.". The Code is on your side, power and home turf advantage is on hers. If she refuses to cooperate you have to try and make her, if you can't or don't try, then you're left with the prospect of going back to Fredegisa and reporting your findings and seeing if they find it worth it to send someone more powerful, or giving you back up, like Barbara. With the wonders of the Code, it technically can work; enough powerful wizards saying their magic is being interfered with can possibly make good on their claim at Tribunal. Most wizards don't want to see Queasitors with too much authority over them. You're left with the prospect of somehow convincing Julia (or others at Voluntas) that you will continue the investigation. Which you're trying to do now. Words of wisdom that your Parens imparted upon you come to mind; 'Solving the riddle of who murdered the Quaesitor rarely helps the slain Quaesitor'. In other words, be careful!

[color=blue]"The loss of time to your servants has been no more than an hour at most for any one servant and they could do their duties normally otherwise. For most of the servants, it has been only brief moments. No one but actually two of your servants have lied so far. Your claim of costing you loss of power isn't going to hold since you don't even need to stay with me as you can assign one servant to watch what I ask of the others and you know the spell that I will be using which is obvious. Iam even willing to keep my interviews to certain hours of the day that you can do your normal labwork and still be present for them. No queasitor investigation is limited in number of questions or who they can question. However I will be making sure that attempt to limit the investigation is known in my report to the tribunal." Siobhan considers the possibility of certamen but it is unlikely to be success against a more powerful mage, even with her tremere training (something that Julia could have no idea about).

[color=blue]"I will need to speak to the librarian to see if anything was disturbed in the library that perhaps you don't know about because you didn't bother to investigate on your own. I will send a missive to Magvillus to try to get a copy of the letter forwarded to me." She is perhaps being overly worried but a monk with visions can easily rouse mundanes against the order, especially in outrage for martyring a potential saint. If the monk manages a miracle or two, he is that much more dangerous and the order needs to be warned. While she is at it, she will listen carefully to servant chatter and in the village to see the true level of mundane involvement of the covenant including the coming holiday. The general level of mundane interference and risk should be assessed.

She already knows she will have to go into the village to find out if anyone saw which way the monk went and then perhaps the next several villages over to ask there as well. She has no idea where she will end up following the investigation.

Julia smiles. "I'm afraid the loss of power that this represents to Voluntas is for me to prove Quaesitor, but thank you for your explanations. I do appreciate your accomodations though, and will acquiesce to further investigations with those stipulations. What you are mistaking for your efforts is how they affect the Charter that we have with our Grogs and servants, a Charter that has been ratified by this Tribunal. Undo and unnecessary questioning of the servants without their own legal representation presents a breech to the Charter. I and my Sodales at Voluntas will need to make recompense for this, thus costing us resources. The time you are taking is minimal compared to the disruption and cost to us, for what is surely a more minor affair than you are making it out to be. Nerius has been dead since before the Schism War, I doubt that any uprising of an obscure figure as him can cause the problems you're stating."

"I must return to my projects, Richard Thatcher is at your disposal, but you must be accompanied by me if you wish to enter the magic library. If you should go to town, I shall see to it that there is suitable help and guides and protection. Beyond the nearest town it is not, in my opinion, Voluntas's responsibility."

[color=red]"As I do not know what should be in your library, I can't exactly tell if something is out of place, missing or was accessed improperly. I think we can leave that to your librarian and I can speak with him after he finishes an evaluation." She hopes that there would be no need to use her lie detection spell on librarian.

Julia nods and leaves the room, shortly after the chastened young man Richard returns, his head bowed as he sits across from you.

"I am told you have more questions?"

Siobhan shakes her head as her request gets totally distorted. Julia is really trying to make this hard. [color=red]"What I said was I needed you to go through the library and see if any books are out of place or missing that you can not account for them based on your records of loans or members of the covenant copying or using them. The idea is to see if anything has been disturbed or taken by the monk other than the one letter? Once this review has been done, I will need to know the results." That the monk was allowed to see the letter without permission is a different issue. She is surprised that Julia had not ordered this herself since one security breech could mean there have been others.

Richard seems to brighten up at this.

"Oh! Is that all? That's easy. Master Desiderius made an...item" Richard seems to suppress a shudder at the mention of it. "that we use to keep track of the books and materials. All are accounted for." He pauses and then sighs. "All except that letter. I leant it to him, but assumed he would stay if I gave him something to try and translate, plus we should have been able to track it. I don't know why, but Master Desiderius's item can't locate it. When Christoph left, somehow the letter disapeared as well."

"But nothing else is disturbed or missing. We never admitted that we had the collection he kept claiming we had. He never saw even one of the books we showed you. He didn't believe us, but we never gave anything...except the letter."

[color=red]"Do you have a copy of the letter or any rememberance of the information that was contained in it? It might hold the clue where to find this monk to follow up." Siobhan will take any information she can get and then will head to the village to see if she can find people that saw the monk and where he went.

Richard sighs and runs his hand through his hair with somewhat embarassed.

"We tried no doubt to copy it, but it never worked. The code was indecipherable, but the copies made were just jibberish. Lady Julia suspected some kind of spell, but she said she never detected any magic. We don't have any of the copies we tried making, we scraped the ink off so we could re-use the paper. I'm sorry. We had no idea the monk could cause so many problems."

Siobhan heads for the village now that her talk to Richard is complete.

The nearby village is called Wigan, Richard offers to act as an escort, and they also lend you one of their shield Grogs named Bertrand (Big Bert they call him).

Wigan is a small village that looks rather well off, Richard tells you that there are quite a few skilled craftsmen in the town and they make enough money that farming is actually a secondary concern and source of income. There is an inn, simply called the Wigan Inn that Kristoff stopped at when he arrived, maybe he stopped on his way out.

Wigan is perhaps half an hour by horse and cart, which you take. Richard handles the driving while the enormous Bert keeps a wary eye out. He's a big man, but surprisingly affable, and seems rather concerned about his image. His clothes are clean, he has styled his hair and moustache and beard and is often picking his teeth to make sure there's nothing stuck in them. He doesn't say much and your Gift doesn't seem to bother him.

After twenty minutes you're passing well appointed homes of the local farmers and residents and Richard waves to the occasional villager.

Siobhan pauses, [color=blue]"rather than just wave, let's ask them about the monk to see if they saw him when he left and which way he went. The farmers in the fields are more likely to have seen him pass than people in the town itself."