Marcellus steps through the portal, entering the Mercere Quarter at Andorra covenant. There is a lot of hustle and bustle going on, easy to get overwhelmed. Since you had sent letters ahead of your arrival, you are expected. Lucas of Mercere will be the first to greet you.
Trogdor, it is your show
Marcellus steps through the portal, entering the Mercere Quarter at Andorra covenant. There is a lot of hustle and bustle going on, easy to get overwhelmed. Since you had sent letters ahead of your arrival, you are expected. Lucas of Mercere will be the first to greet you.
As Marcellus steps through the portal a man apparently in his mid-thirties steps forward. The man has blue eyes, blonde hair, and is clean shaven. He is dressed simply, much as you would expect a Redcap.
"Welcome to Andorra," the man says. "I assume you're Marcellus. We've got a quiet day and you're the only one we're expecting." He extends his hand toward the Verditius magus. "I'm Lucas, the Herald here at Andorra. We've been looking forward to your arrival."
Marcellus hesitates a moment, taking in his surroundings(1) before shaking Lucas' hand. His grip is neither weak nor strong, and the handshake is a bit hesitant, as if not used to the custom.
"I am pleased to meet you, Lucas," the brown-haired magus replies. He sports a close-cropped beard that matches the color of his short hair. "As my letter said, I have heard that this covenant might be looking for a resident Verditius, hence my visit. Could I meet the magi?"
(1) Where is the portal located? Inside the Mercere tower or within the courtyard?
OOC: The portals are located in the Mercere tower in the outer courtyard. That's one reason Lucas hasn't claimed a tower in the inner courtyard. He appreciates being next door to the Mercere tower.
"Indeed we are," Lucas replies. "Our most recent Verditius moved last year to be closer to his wife's family. They just had a small child and his wife was eager to be closer to her parents and sister. It was a loss for us but we certainly wish him the best."
He smiles and gestures to the door. "I've arranged for a small reception with the other resident magi in the great hall, though we have a little time before then - I wasn't certain exactly when you'd arrive. I can show you to your room if you'd like to freshen up before the reception or I could take you on a brief tour of the castle if you'd rather explore a bit first. We'll have someone take your things to your room." An armsman approaches, ready to carry anything that Marcellus has brought with him.
"And, of course, I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have in the meanwhile. I tried to set forth the basics in my letters. But I'm sure you have many questions."
"A tour sounds interesting," replies Marcellus, passing the armsman a well-stuffed duffel bag, which seems to contain all of his travelling kit. "Am I understanding that you are one of the magi? I apologize for not recognizing your name."
As Lucas leads him around, the young magus adds, "As for questions, this is more of what would be expected of me. As I mentioned in my letter, I was just Gauntleted. In fact, I am arriving from Verdi through the portal network. My pater suggested it would be simpler than travelling back with him to Nidi."
"Anyway, me being just Gauntleted mean that my enchantments are still small, compared to what magi of a powerful covenant like Andorra can do. I still think I can be of some use, but it will be a few years before I reach my full potential."
Lucas nods at Marcellus’s comments. “Yes, I’m one of the magi,” he replies. “Lucas de Mercere at your service,” he adds with a smile. “I’m the covenant’s newest master and its Herald. That means I’m in charge of handling external relations. It also means that I’m here,” he gestures at the tower around them, “fairly often. This is the Mercere quarter in the covenant. We host a contingent of Redcaps here as well as these portals, I’m married to one of them – the Redcaps, not the portals. She’s away from the castle right now, but you’ll have a chance to meet her when she returns. In any case, I tend to keep things causal as much as I can.” As he speaks the Mercere magus leads Marcellus out of the tower, introducing him to a couple of Redcaps as they make their way to the tower’s exit.
“As for small enchantments,” Lucas muses, “the more experience I get the more I realize there is left to learn. Everything we do is small to the person on the next rung up – and large to the person one rung down. But sometimes the smallest enchantments can be the most effective.” He smiles. “We all contribute how we can, and everyone’s contribution is appreciated.”
“Now,” he says, turning back to the tour, “the covenant is centered around Arans Castle; the village of Arans is just down the hill.” He points to the east. “The castle has an outer courtyard, an inner courtyard, with a keep in the inner courtyard. We have seven towers along the walls, three along the outer courtyard, two on the edges of the inner courtyard, and two that straddle the inner and outer courtyards. That’s not counting four towers on the keep. We’ve taken to assigning the towers to the magi for the sake of privacy. I know the soldiers would prefer a few of them for their use. But the magi help with the defense of the castle, so they can’t really complain.”
“This is the outer courtyard and we’ve just left the Mercere tower. That’s where most of the Mercere business gets conducted and where some of the people are housed. The rest live in that building over there.” He points to a structure in the outer courtyard. “Vibria, another master, has the far tower by the road. Solomon, a pontifex and our inquisitor, has the tower over there, and that one is currently empty.” He directs Marcellus’s attention to the two towers connected between the inner and outer courtyards.
“Most of the mundane business in the castle gets done in the outer courtyard. The covenant includes the whole castle - the Aegis is set by the outer walls – but we tend to leave mundane tasks for the outer courtyard and covenant tasks for the inner. Which reminds me, I forgot to give you your token.” He pulls a small carved wooden charm from his pocket and offers it to the Verditius magus. “We ask that you return it should you decide that Andorra isn’t right for you. If you stay, it’s yours until you can participate in the next casting.”
Lucas walks the two of them to the gates that lead to the inner courtyard. “Good afternoon, Berenguer, Eduard” he says to the guards on duty. “I trust all is well with you two. Is Emma doing better?” he directs his question toward the first of the two guards. “Was Bashir able to fix her up? I know lagrippe isn't too bad, but I'd hate for her to miss the Feast of St. Cecilia next week. I've arranged to have some minstrels come in and perform in the outer courtyard.” After hearing that the guard’s wife is indeed improving the magus adds, “this is Marcellus, a visiting magus who might settle here for good. I’m taking him on the grand tour.” The guards usher the two through the gates and Lucas resumes his tour.
OOC: I’ll pause here to let you get a word in edgewise.
The young Verditius follows Lucas during the tour, wide-eyed at the extent of the castle. "Right, the outer courtyard for the more mundane business," he repeats a bit hesitantly. "Does this mean the magi avoid using apparent magic there?"
He accepts the token with a nod, tucking it into his light brown woolen tunic, "Thank you. When does the casting of the Aegis occur?"
Marcellus greets each of the guard, repeating their name so that he will remember them.
OOC: Am I correct in assuming that the discussion between the two magi is in Latin, while the guards were adressed in Catalan?
A young woman that looks like Taylor Swift with a Betty Page haircut surprises you as she interrupts from behind.
We use magic anywhere that is needed. Think of this castle as the "inner covenant". Our charter claims the whole of Andorra as our covenant property. Though in practice, we enforce just this parish of Ordino. Bellaquin occupies the town and parish of Andorra la Vella. My father granted them sanctuary and they have a contract.
Sallve sodale. I am Carmen Perez of Flambeau, Pontifix Maxima of Andorra Covenant. Not a lot of imagination went into the name.
We renew the Aegis every Winter Solstice, marking the start of the new year. I know a lot of covenants do that in March instead. We have just always done it that way, something to do with celebrating the return of the sun. I guess.
Anyway, I am sorry to interrupt. Lucas, can you do me a favor? Have your clerks make three copies of this letter. Send one to Castra Solis, another to Aedas Mercurii, and third to Duresca. Save the original for our records. I am informing the first two that they cannot hold the Flambeau convocation here until they are willing to recognize that we are not part of Provencal. Duresca supports us in that, or at least the say they do. I just want to make sure they have a copy for their own record.
Welcome to Andorra Marcellus. Hope you survive the experience.
And with that, she flies off and lands atop the tall tower on the other side of the castle, then goes inside.
OOC: Good catch. Yes, the magi would be speaking in Latin and the comments to the guard would be in Catalan. If Marcellus doesn’t know Catalan then he wouldn’t know what was being said. But it’s clear from the tone that its collegial chatter.
Lucas smiles when he hears Carmen’s comment and sees that the pontifex maxima has noticed Marcellus’s arrival. Though she’s abrupt and short on social niceties, he finds Carmen’s forthright nature to be a breath of fresh air. The Mercere nods as she explains how the Aegis ceremony is conducted, and then again, more formally, when she hands him the letter. “Of course, Carmen. I’ll see to it right after the reception for Marcellus – you recall that we’re getting the magi together shortly in the north solar to formally meet our prospective mew Verditius.”
When she flies off, he shakes his head and chuckles. “And that is our Pontifex Maxima. As you can see, she’s certainly not shy about using magic.” He rolls up the parchment that Carmen just gave him and slips it into his belt. “Herald business,” he adds by way of explanation.
“But to answer your initial question, I wouldn’t say that we avoid using apparent magic in the outer courtyard,” Lucas replies, apparently unbothered by the chill in the air, despite the fact that he has no cloak. “I personally tend to limit my conspicuous magic use in the outer courtyard, but that’s more out of respect for the Redcaps. I don’t like to flaunt that I’m Gifted. We’re all magi in House Mercere after all. It’s just good fortune that gave me the Gift. But it’s all covenfolk here, and they know we’re magi. So, no one will look askance at a little magic use. Still, aside from Vibria and myself all the other Gifted magi live in the inner courtyard. And that’s where the library is and covenant meetings take place, so it tends to be the focus of covenant business. So, as a practical matter, most of the overt magic use takes place in the inner courtyard and keep.”
“But really, even the residents of Arans are pretty familiar with what goes in here. And if they’re not accepting of magic use, they certainly don’t let on about it. Of course, the castle is much of their economy, so I wouldn’t expect them to protest what we do. Still, relations between castle and village have generally been pretty good. In fact, I have the children of two of the villagers as servants in my tower and we seem to get along pretty well. Then again, my Gift is gentle, so that might help.”
“No,” he adds. “What I meant was that the outer courtyard is where many of the mundane tasks of running the castle takes place. Many of the craftsmen are here as are the main barracks. And while there are certainly many servants and men-at-arms in the inner courtyard, I tend to think that the day-to-day business of running the castle takes place out here.”
“In here, however,” he gestures at the inner courtyard, “we do most of the covenant business. That tower there is the covenant library and the other towers are dedicated to the magi. The keep has a meeting room where we hold covenant meetings, our guest quarters, and, of course, the great hall. Our scribes and scholars all work in the keep and that’s also where our healers are located. Most things related to the covenant can and are taken care of right here.”
“We also tend to assign the covenfolk most used to magi to work in the inner courtyard, given the difficulties the Gift brings to personal interactions. At present the covenant only has three magi with a gentle Gift – myself, Roberto of Flambeau, and Fleur of Bonisagus – but of the three of us I’m the only one living in Arans. The other two are assigned to our chapter house in the Baleric Islands. We also have two magi whose Gift is particularly blatant, including our Pontifex Maxima. So, the magi typically find a more understanding set of people in the inner courtyard. It doesn’t mean that they can’t or don’t move all around the castle or the village. But it’s generally less trouble for the magi here in the inner courtyard.”
Lucas then identifies each tower for Marcellus’s benefit. “Those towers on the walls are assigned to Solomon of Guernicus and Vocis of Tremere, while those two towers are free – you’ll probably be assigned to that one,” he gestures to the tower in the northwest corner, “since it had our former Verditius and has some crafting facilities you’ll likely find useful.” Then, pointing to one of the towers on the keep he adds, “as I said, that tower houses our library. That tower," he points to the one Carmen flew up to, "is assigned to her, and that one is assigned to Arachne ex Miscellanea. The last one is currently empty as well.”
Then, he moves to the main door of the keep. “The last of the tour is in here,” he says. “Then we should start seeing magi arrive at the north solar to meet you – it seemed more intimate than the great hall for you to get to know the covenant’s magi. There will be some food and drink there as well in case you’re hungry or thirsty.”
OOC: Again, I’ll pause for comments.
OOC: Marcellus knows Catalan, though not the local dialect.
Marcellus watches Carmen fly off to the tower with an open mouth, then turns back to Lucas as the Mercere explains the use of magic. "That is not something I am used to, magister Lucas. My pater's covenant went to great lengths to remain as inconspicuous as possible. We had a great many restrictions on the use of magic before mundanes, and the covenant's business were almost all conducted indoors."
He blushes slightly and adds, with a small laugh, I probably act and sound like a peasant who first visits a town, which isn't far from the truth. This is certainly the largest settlement, aside from Verdi, that I have ever visited. It is a bit overwhelming.
As Lucas mentions the craftsmen, interest shows on Marcellus' face. As a Verditius, I may have a bit more reason to visit the outer courtyard. I would certainly be interested in the crafts, both to learn more about them and to work with them to commission items suitable for enchantment.
Marcellus tries to assimilate all of the names and the link to each tower as Lucas expertly designate them. He follows the Herald into the keep, nodding as he does.
“Yes, well Carmen is … well, she’s Carmen.” Lucas shakes his head and smiles. “She doesn’t let others dictate how she should live her life. And as our Pontifex Maxima, that can’t help but shade how the entire covenant is run.”
“Truth be told, it’s somewhat remote up here in the Pyrenees, so we don’t get a lot of visitors. And we don’t have an official liege lord to interfere with our operations. Frankly, our location doesn’t warrant a castle of this size, and though I’ve never been able to dig up proof, I’ve long suspected that it wasn’t built entirely using mundane means. As it is, most of the people who see how we operate are either covenant members or locals who have lived their whole lives with a castle of wizards up on the hill. That allows us to be a bit more casual in our actions than covenants located in more populous areas.”
“For my part, I tend to be more subtle in my magic use as you’ve been. I don’t know a lot of flashy spells and I’m fortunate that I have a knack of casting spells without speaking or gesturing. That, combined with my gentle Gift, allows me to pass unnoticed as a magus most places I go.” He grins and adds, “but that’s more of a guideline than a rule. If you see a falcon flying from my tower to the main keep, it might not be my familiar. Sometimes I don’t feel like walking all the way from my tower to the keep and take the shortcut.”
“As for this being a large settlement,” Lucas shrugs. “It’s certainly a large covenant as covenants go. But the village of Arans isn’t that big. We’ve only got the one tavern – and that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the castle. There’s the town of Ordino two-and-a-half miles down the road, but that’s not very big as towns go. You need to go about seven miles down the road to get to Andorra la Vella before you get to a proper town, and even then, it’s just not that large. Then again, I grew up in Normandy, so I’m used to the major towns being a bit larger. Some day you should come to the Champagne fair in Bar-sur-Aube, about twenty miles from Cunfin. That’s a sight to see!”
“And I do hope you’ll visit the outer courtyard as often as you like. There are some fine people there, and they’re still covenfolk, so they know about magi and are familiar with the Gift. I’ll introduce you to Jordi once you’re settled in. He’s a blacksmith and he knows everybody. There’s a brewer up in El Serrat whose beer he likes. You could do a lot worse than get him a small keg of it to introduce yourself. He and his apprentice did some work half a year ago for a project in my lab and I got them a keg as thanks. It went over well.”
“So this is the keep,” the Mercere continues, guiding Marcellus through the various rooms. “A lot happens here.” He shows him the great hall, the entrances to Carmen and Arachne’s towers, the chambers of healing, and the library. This last room he lingers over for a while, though he only brings Marcellus into the outer rooms.
“We have over a hundred and fifty books in our library – we’re all quite proud of it! I’ll need to get the approval of Vocis, our Librarian, before I can let you into the room with the arcane texts. That’ll happen as soon as you officially join the covenant. He’ll go over the rules for borrowing books with you then. But our library is one of the things that draws new magi here to the covenant.”
After Marcellus has finished looking at the library, Lucas takes him down a corridor on the second floor of the keep. There points out a door noting that this will be his room until he joins the covenant and is assigned a tower. “And just through this door,” he notes, indicating a door at the end of the corridor, “is the north solar. There’s a similar one on the south side of the keep. This one is left open to anyone and is often frequented by our guests. The south solar is reserved for use only by magi of the covenant.” Then he ushers the Verditius magus into the north solar where other members of the covenant have hopefully gathered.
OOC: Feel free to jump in at any point with questions. Also, here’s the opportunity for any other members of the covenant to meet Marcellus!
I'm thinking I should wait until I know when the Woad will actually arrive. I don't know whether there is a point in Marcellus and the Woad having their first visit with the resident magi, or if it should be treated separately.
"I can understand the feeling of idependence that comes from living in the mountains," Marcellus comments, "for I was born in the mountains as well. And from your description, Arans sounds larger than the village of my birth. Of course, there was no large fortress to provide wealth to us there. Until recently, I had only known the small castle at Nidi."
"I will certainly visit Jordi. Do you think he would agree to share some of his expertise as a blacksmith with me? How far is El Serrat from here? I am more used to wine, but a gift of beer certainly sounds like a good idea to get on his good side."
As Lucas mentions travelling as a falcon, the younger magus smiles, "I can understand the convenience of flying, and I often wish I could do the same. Maybe some day I will have the knowledge to do so." After a moment's tought he adds, "I have a friend from House Bjornaer whose heartbeast is an eagle."
Marcellus gapes at the numerous books displayed in the outer library, having trouble imagining that the covenant would have even more in another room. "This is... very impressive, magister Lucas." Then he blushes, knowing the he is again behaving as an unsophisticated peasant.
At the entrance of the north solar, Marcellus straightens up his clothes, regretting his decision not to change into more formal attire before meeting the others. Hopefully they won't get the wrong impression.
“It’s certainly true that Arans is larger than it might otherwise be because of the castle,” Lucas says with a nod. “But if you come from a mountain village, you’ll likely find it very familiar. The people are certainly the salt of the earth. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to live outside of a covenant. My father is a Redcap so I’ve always lived within the Order – I was born at Dragon’s Rest and lived there until my apprenticeship started. Thankfully my parents were never very insular. We would visit the local town of Harfleur regularly, and we even went to Rouen once – very exciting as a small child. But even with those trips, I’ve never actually lived anywhere but in a covenant.”
“As for Jordi,” the Mercere adds. “He’s a good man. I’m sure he’ll be happy to work with you – though unless you extend your Parma to him he might be a bit standoffish on account of the Gift.” Once more he nods to the Verditius. “As a Normandy man, I’m partial to wine as well. But Jordi prefers beer, so I’d go that route with him. El Serrat is just a little over two miles north of here. There’s regular commerce between Arans and El Serrat. It shouldn’t be too much trouble to get someone to bring a keg down here for you.”
“I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to have a heartbeast,” he muses when Marcellus talks about his Bjornaer friend. “I’ve read descriptions, but I’ve also read that they don’t really do the experience justice. It’s supposed to be … transformative. Then again, Bjornaer don’t take familiars and that means I’d have never gotten to know my own familiar Horus, which would have been a great tragedy.” He smiles. “I suppose we all choose our paths and take the good and bad alike.”
When Marcellus gasps at the library, Lucas puts a hand on his shoulder. “I had much the same reaction myself when I first saw the library. I’m a man devoted to books and serve as one of the Assistant Librarians for the covenant and I’m still awed by our library. I was fortunate enough to manage to add several tomes a few years ago through trades with some other covenant. But this has been the work of several lifetimes.”
"Well, let me tell you, covenant food is better and more varied than what we had growing up in a village. And when my Gift developped, well... I guess not having friends my own age made it easier to adapt to being an apprentice." He smiles, "It also gave me a chance to meet some very special people. And learn about magic."
"I like beer as well as wine, I think. I will see about getting that keg for Jordi. Do you have a leatherworker as well amongst your covenfolk?"
OOC: Just waiting for the others to join us for the meeting in the north solar.
You may be waiting a long time. It is almost impossible to get us to act in unified coordination.
I didn't know we had a north solar. What is a north solar anyway?
You wait, and wait, and wait.
Eventually Carmen shows up.
I heard you were still waiting here. It may take a few days to round more magi up. We are going to have a council meeting soon, where you will be introduced along with a few other pledges.
The place is getting a bit crowded, more so than usual. But Lucas drew up a plan to deal with that. And you are fortunate. We have a chapter-house that was originally intended to handle the overflow. We would post new members there. Two members have since ascended to the rank of Master, and they have the first rights to the empty towers. But they have both chosen to stay on the islands. So we have the space.
I have some time to kill. Take a walk with me and I will show you some of our..., special features. As we do, feel free to as questions and tell me what you want to know about what you are getting yourself into.
Then she stops dead in her tracks, tuns and faces you, and with a deadpan serious glare...
But first I have to get this out of the way. It will be part of the Interrogatory at your introduction. It is written into our traditions.
Are you now or have you ever been a member of House Diedne? Are you a Diedne sympathizer?
I didn't want to hog the intro thread, so I assumed that Lucas had asked the resident magi if they wanted to come and meet the new guy at a small reception. We all live within walking distance of the keep. I figured at least some of the magi might take a half hour to meet the newest member of the covenant.
A solar is what they called the personal living quarters of the important residents of a castle - think of it as a medieval living room (though it might often double as a bedroom). We haven't offered a lot of detail as to what the inside of the keep looks like. I was making some assumptions. We know it has four towers, one of which is the library (and probably the scholars and scribes) and three of which are devoted to magi. I assume it has a great hall and a meeting room for the magi. It makes sense that it would have a room for our healers as well. It's also likely where our guest quarters are. Finally, it must have some kind of solar - or living area for the magi. Given it's size, I assumed two solars - one just for the magi and one for everyone important enough to warrant being allowed in a solar (i.e., not servants).
In any case, that was my thinking.
When Carmen arrives, Marcellus bows slightly (and a bit awkwardly) to her, Greetings again, hmmm... Pontifex Maxima."
"A chapter-house? Is that like a vassal covenant? Where is this chapter house located?"
When the abrupt question comes, Marcellus is flustered and shrinks back from the glare, "What? House Diedne? You mean... the one that was destroyed centuries ago? I never... I mean... I have never had anything to do with them! I just heard a bit of them in the histories of the Order. So... no, I am not a sympathizer, or ever been a member. I am a member of House Verditius, nothing else."
OOC: I am just rolling with it. This part of the thread can be a bit non-linear, so other magi may have shown up and left before Carmen arrives, while other may show up afterwards. I don't expect things to be "coordinated".
In a snide way, I was referring to our players We could wait weeks or more before someone got around to it.
As for the question, if you think about the wording you will get the joke (out of character).
Hahaha! Relax. I know you are fine. But it is part of the interrogatory. You will be asked the same question at council when we vote on your application. It is part of our tradition, since generations before I was born. This covenant was founded by veterans of the Schism War. Constant Vigilance!
Our Chapter House, Sa Dragonera, it is more like an extension you might say? There is a substantial Vis source there, to which we share a claim with Barcelona Covenant. They provide the funding and manage temporal concerns, we supply security and staffing, and we split the profits.
Drudge work and security. That is not good enough for a Verditius! Think of your pride.
I want you to have the freedom to create and invent. Build your lab. I will fund it. There will be an occasional project for you, but I want you at your creative best and to be satisfied in your labors.