Transylvania Aftermath (Autumn 1234)

Vocis is returning from Transylvania with several issues that need to be discussed/addressed with other members of the covenant. Marko, can you please sticky this and drop the Terror thread?

The first item on Vocis's agenda, after a quiet night at home with Amelia, is to meet with Carmen and Arachne. Thank you both for meeting with me. I have several things related to my trip to bring before the council, but this one is better suited for fewer ears. When I arrived at Lycaneon I was met by Octavian of Tremere, who I believe you both know well. He told me of a Quaestorial report that names Valten IV of Flambeau as the magus who assaulted Andorra four years ago. Turning to Carmen, The conclusions were based in part upon sigil evidence you provided. Valten is wanted in the Rhine for questioning. When I informed Octavian that already intended to seek out Valten in the near future, he let me know that the Quaesitors can question Valten's ghost just as easily as the man himself. I assume a skull would be preferable, but any body part would probably work.

He then turns to Arachne. Octavian also laid another accusation at Valten's feet, though he offered only personal certainty rather than evidence. Octavian is convinced that Valten is also responsible for the massacre at Insidiae.

Carmen: :imp: Any knowledge on his current whereabouts? Last word I received is that he was skulking about somewhere in Egypt, but he has most likely fled from there to somewhere in Syria. Something about a quest in search of the lost magic of the ancient Canaanites. If we can get a bearing on his current whereabouts, I am willing and capable of putting vast resources behind an effort to apprehend and execute him.

Octavian says he's in Cairo, researching Canaanite necromancy and other ancient spirit magics. At least that's where he was three months ago.

Arachné grits her teeth at Vocis news. She clenches her skinny fists, and relaxes them, hearing him out.

That's... A god new, although I doubt very much he was alone. No single magus could have so swiftly and easily felled Andorra.
But this is a start. Cairo, huh? We'll have to pay him a visit. I suppose he's being watched by Tremere allies?

Tremere, Quaesitorial, or both, I'm not certain.

Though there is one more detail concerning Valten that Octavian mentioned. It seems Valten's goal in attacking Andorra was the theft of a Brass Bottle imprisoning an ifrit named Khyron. Apparently Valten's previous interests involved controlling and exploiting the jinn. Is Khyron's Brass Bottle still here? Octavian tells me it's an imperfect prison that would allow Khyron to destroy anyone who opens it, so I certainly hope it's secure.

We really need to invent some sort of chamber of silence just in case anyone is scrying. But here goes. Yu guys keep this in the strictest confidence!
In the vault we discovered, there is a bottle. But it is both false and authentic. It is not Khyron. The genie inside is yet unknown. But it is an authentic Suleiman Bottle from Syria. Khyron's bottle was hidden deep in the magic realm, Taglyn, and is guarded by Archmagus Abaddon the Living Ghost of Val-Negra. I can absolutely guaranty its safety (as can the SG, for I made a vow to never use Khyron again).

Arachné thinks somewhat.

So. Either we lure him here again, or we jump him in Cairo.

I'd have favored the first plan, but we are far from being able to bear a full-on assault. That, and let's say that, in late years, both I and my friends fared badly in defense. It would be a nice change of pace to get the drop on someone for once.

I like your fist plan better as well. But with a twist maybe? Let it be publically known we have a regular genie bottle. Then leek information that Khyron's bottle is in Val-Negra. Set a trap for Valten there.
Kills two birds with one stone. Pietro has been pushing on me to make time to visit the place and meet Abaddon. Talk to him about his revival plan.

And trip Valden over Val-Negra's defenses? Oooh, I do so like it :smiling_imp: says Arachne with a twisted smile

What makes it extra sweet is that he, like most who are not in the know' probably thinks Val-Negra is an abadoned ruin. According to the report I read, besides the Archmagus, there is a thriving population of over 300 magical covenfolk that can turn invisible.

Arachné raises a brow
You have detailled intelligence about Val-Negra? Now, this is interesting, and precious. Care to share it before we kick the hornet's nest?

She thought that Val-Negra was an abandonned ruin, but hides that surprise by speaking about the report. Nothing wrong with misleading people a little, having them assume you're more knowledgeable than you are. Gives you some leverage over them, and may make them slip new info to you by assuming you're "in the know". She does this so out of habit she seldom realises it.

It was about a decade and a half ago, 1220 I think it was. Inigo Xalbator of Flambeau and Octavian of Tremere, both masters, led an expedition consisting of a couple of journeymen and a handful of grogs. The trail led them to a hidden portal in Barcelona, thence to a town called Perdut. There they had conflict with the infamous Metron and a demon he summoned. They defeated the demon, but Metron escaped and destroyed the portal. From there they describe transversing a valley of mist until they located the entrance to the Val-Negra regio. There at that covenant, they encountered hundreds of magical grogs called the Aerie Clan. They also met the Archmagus Abaddon, somehow still living, and Xalbador communed with the ghost of Vancasitium of Flambeau who gave him the Lumina Prophocey concerning his daughter Kesara.
When they returned home, Ludovicio mapped out the route between Perdut and Andorra. Ill feelings plagued those guys for years afterward. Octavian and Vares held never ending grudges for years.
None of those guys are with us anymore. Octavian and Xalbador went to Transylvania. Kesara is still with us. Vares of Flambeau and Ludovicio of Tytalus, they each left on their own paths ten years ago or so.
Some of those grogs are still with us. The veteran old Andorran Guard. Only a handful of those guys left. One of them, my brother's nephew Javier, he was there. So was Roger, Javiers ghostly companion. That is how he got killed in the first place.

And I guess we don't have a fixed Arcane Connection to the place? Sigh...
So, we travel there, chitchat with the grogs, set up some trap, and wait until he springs it. Too bad I won't have the time to cook up something, but the 500 grogs should do the trick. We need to make sure they agree to this, though. And to find a way to link Val-Negra's location to Valden.

You will have time to cook something up. After the City of Brass expedition is finished, I will take the two of you with me to find Lost Val-Negra. We have the expedition logs to guide us. There we will speak with ancient Archmagus Abaddon. He guards the bottle for us. Cook up a plan with him, give ourselves a year to prepare as we diseminate misinformation, leek just the right information, and bait our trap.

If all goes well, Abaddon might well become convinced that Pietro's revival plan is viable.

The old witch cackles with glee
Oooh, I love this already. I will need oil. Lots and lots of oil. And Daggers. Spiky, spiky daggers. Oooh, we'll have so much fun together... Now, I have this nice, nice spell idea. I call it The Invisible Window. Just wait and see, and we'll make his invisible wife an invisible widow. Hi hi hi

Carmen gives Arachne a curious glance with a raised eyebrow.

Arachné, all smiling, looks back at Carmen

Oh, carmen, you have no idea. This is so wonderful! Trying to prepare for the unknown is hard, but having a clear goal is just great, with time, I can unleash all kind of niceties on him. Knowing what to do, where to go... It's been years since I've felt like this! :smiley:
What she won't say is that it's been years since she's lived in fear of her covenant suffering yet another unpredictable attack. So having an ennemy at whom to strike back is liberating and exhilarating.

Vocis lets the two magae banter back and forth, plotting Valden's demise. Once they wind down, he speaks up again. There is one other topic I had intended to broach first with Carmen, but I'd certainly welcome your input as well, Arachne. My House is interested in sponsoring a Hermetic hospital in Andorra's Mercere Quarter. They would supply it with healing enchantments, casting tablets, and a stock of vis, but it would be up to House Mercere to manage its day-to-day operations. The intention is for the hospital to be made available to any magus with the means to pay for services and to serve as a ready resource in the event of a local or Order-wide emergency. I haven't discussed this with Fedora yet, so the final details of the arrangement are undecided. What are your thoughts on this idea?

The Tremere fund it, the Mercere manage it, Andorra grows in prestige. All around win situation I would say.

So long as it doesn't compromise the main covenant's security, I agree with Carmen.

It presents some risks, but may also be useful to us.

Don't take me wrongly. This is great. But my only concern is my sodales survival and safety.