Marcellus takes a look at the two grogs before following, but without crowding too close to the Criamon magus. He's curious to see what's behind the door.
The door opens readily upon turning the knob. And you are in cottage of a Basque wise woman. I t s a room that could fit easily in a cave, butt his is not a cave, There are windows. You can see the moonlight sky.
She is laying out tarot cards on a large table. Three others sit at her table, and they all look up at you as you enter. The wise woman specifically looks at Ikelos and speaks.
Come in, come in!Fate and Fortune have been waiting. It is time for you to determine who is the Creator, who is the Keeper, and who is the Chaos Bringer. Then spin the wheel of fortune! Time to decide which fate you have faith in.
You are obviously going to want to figure out who these other three guys are. Or at least who they pretense to be. There is some Faerie strangeness at work here.
- Carles of Jerbition: The centenarian librarian of the Covenant of Barcelona, along with his cat Noscur. He is in excellentshape for his age, looking to be a spry seventy. The cat has gotten sllow and lazy though.
- Sigmund Ex-Miscellanea: aka Sigmundo Dragon of the Tome, aka Cygmonius of the ancient Cult of Mercury, aka Shen-Li the Dragon of the Moon, aka Zergud the Red Lion, and more (some more true than others)
- Metron the Flaming Shadow: A rogue magus, outlawed and outcast, betrayed by his compatriots, twisted by a delusional quest for redemption, transformed by magic into a being of living shadow and fire.
Choose whom will carry this burden for you. And you are fortunate in your timing and the stars. Libra rules your fate this moment.
But the cards also rule your destiny! And this has yet to be revealed. Creator, Keeper, Chaos-Bringer.
Choose whom shall be the Guardian, and you will be released from the seven secrets. Libra will reward you with the one you covet, but the rest will be gone. But the Guardian you choose, this decision will shape the course of your life and those around you.
You may ask one question of each candidate. You can discuss this with your friends, but once the question is asked it may not be changed.
Ikelos smiles and enters the cottage/cave. He moves near the table and takes off his heavy pack which hits the floor with a hearty thunk. Flexing his shoulders he motions to the others.
Come in! Come in! This is what I seek and with three riddles no less! Come friend Marcellus. We can discuss the riddles and decide the fate of the Order. Or the World. Or just me. I could not figure that out But some fate is decided here and I can leave my burden here.
Marcellus enters as well, following Ikelos. He looks around curiously, and examines the figures sitting at the table.
"What do you think we should ask them?"
Let us presume that the introductions were made by the fortune teller, who has a flair for the dramatic.
I an Vyshkantha the Seeress! I have seen you in the fumes, Ikelos, I know your burden. I know the veteran and the ghost, but the other wizard in your company is a stranger to me. How delightful! The unexpected is so, well, it is unexpected.
Carles smilles as he pets Noscur. The witch said your name is Ikelos, right? I did not get as dramatic an introduction. I am Carles of Jerbiton, and unlike the other two fellows here, I am an actual real human being. We can make this easy, side step this little game. I need those books, and I am willing to negotiate generous terms. If you want to play her game, I will be most grateful and generous if I am the one you choose. But I am honestly advising you to avoid this game. Who knows what sorts of strange effects may result from her hedge magic. And take note, we are in a powerful Faerie Regio at the moment.
Now that I say that out loud, I'd be very cautious if I were you. You can't be sure how real I am without some invasive Intellego, and even then, high powered faerie magic can deceive any of us.
I wonder if any of this is real now...
You would be foolish to take my offer without further investigation. Forget I said anything. I need to contemplate just what I have gotten myself into.
Metron cackles with mad laughter.
The old fool may start to doubt if even he is real! I am the one who is real! It is true that I am no longer a mortal man. I am the scion of light and darkness, the living embodiment of flaming shadows. There is nothing like what I have become!
I will be honest with you as well. I am an opportunist. I heard about this little test and it intrigued me. And I can tell that you are the one being tested. I don't care what you do. I am just interested to see if what you got in your bag is what this hag claims it to be.
And I will tell you this. Whatever you decide, you will loose one way or another. You cannot relieve your burdens by giving them to another. All you have done is trade one concern for another. Whatever becomes of that burden, whatever the "Guardian" you choose does with it, you are the one responsible.
Sigmundo, who doesn't look like a dragon or lion or anything at all except for a well dressed scholar...
He just sits there. The other two look at him expecting him to say something.
What? I thought the game was that he asks each of us a question first. Are we just giving away a free personality profile first?
I am Sigmundo Ex-Miscellanea, friend and ally of Andorra Covenant. Sorgina Vyshkantha was kind enough to introduce me in a way that revealed my secret identites, thank you very much
Yes, I am actually a dragon. But their is humanity in my essence, and my may children walk amongst you.
The free information about this game that I will give you is that it is honest. I would not permit it otherwise. Vyshkantha would not dare risk incurring my wrath. I am greater than the power she serves.
An honest game is why I agreed to an honest introduction for each of us. I trust you will keep my secret. The Andorran Guard already know who I am. Vyshkantha did not mention another magus. We will need to discuss this afterwards. What was your name again?
Ikelos nods to each as they talk. when they are done he pulls a wooden chest from the pack and places it on the table. He scratches his chin for a moment looking at the box.
A puzzle box of a sort. I will have it open in a bit
He beings jiggling some bit and pushing on others. Was it twist here and push there or pull here with a turn there. After a minute or two the box clicks open. Ikelos pulls out 6 bound books and one sheaf of papers bound in a black ribbon.
So friend Marcellus, you see my burden and my shame. The Legacy of Alarcon. Knowledge that would reshape the Order...or the World. I was not sure about that part. Alarcon ex Criamon went into twilight before he could release this information. His companion wanted to reveal this to the last Tribunal but a vision I had showed me the danger of these and lead me to a most un-apt action. I stole them. The information is intriguing. Really great work. Some are quite minor. One is a mystery of your House, friend Marcellus. One grants the owner near immortality. All together, very dangerous.
Marcellus speak to Ikelos, trying to understand. "So, if I understand you, this is about what to do with the information contained in these books. You think it is dangerous information, which is why you stole it. No one else knows its content? Have you read it?" He shifts from one foot to another as he consider the situation.
"And now you have to decide to whom it should be entrusted. You do not wish to keep it, for your vision would indicate that keeping it would lead to some sort of disaster?"
My visions showed that it is both wonderful and dangerous. When I stole them I really had no idea what they contained. He picks up a book. This one expands upon the understanding of the Realms and vis. With it you could use more vis in a season than magi current can. He picks up the next book. This one shows how to make single use charged items. This one incorporates Vulgar Alchemy into magic theory. He picks up one that has been obviously read more than the others. This teaches the secret of Twilight Mastery. He gestures to a thick book and the sheaf of papers. These are very dangerous. He point to the book. This solves the limit of Aging in the Hermetic Theory. And that incorporates Verditius Magic with Hermetic Theory without the limitation of using casting tools. I have read them all and understand them. Now I must decide who should have them.
Marcellus eyes the books, momentarily speechless. It is a lot to take in so suddenly and seems too good to be true...
"How confident are you that the information you just described is genuine? How could a single magus succeed in so many innovations, and in so many different areas of Hermetic magic, in a single lifetime? Forgive me, sodalis, but it just seems too good to be true. Could this be some sort of deception? Could the content be fake or worse, tainted by the infernal realm?"
Metron pounds the table. Exactly! How do you know? How can you know? The lies can be sweet and seen so innocent. You start to believe what you want to believe, and in your arrogance you think yourself the master of reality. The hubris and arrogance of Hermetic magi makes for easy prey. I don't believe they are true, and if they are they are best kept in fire and shadow.
Carles shakes his head.They are real. I too have read one of his works. Not of this collection. Alarcon was a most exceptional genius, though quite mad. And he did not work alone. Much of his work was built upon the failures of many who came before him. I had myself provided many lab texts and tractati, random experiments, whatever I could get my hands on. That is why the collection is so eclectic. Alarcon had a unique gift, an insatiable curiosity, and a passionate drive.
I have invested heavily in this. Now that I know that you are the one that stole it, I have rights to demand it of you and should challenge you to Certamen or a Wizard War.
But I agreed to this game. I reached out to Vyshkantha because of her special powers of divination. This game is her price, and I pay my dues.
Sigmundo throws his hands up.Hey! This game has rules! He is supposed to ask each of us one question. That's it. Then he decides. You guys are just giving away information. Just shut up and wait!
Marcellus keeps his attention on Ikelos, to whom he was adressing his questions, and apparently ignores the comments of the three figures around the table. At one point, when his shuffling around brings him into a position where they and their lady host cannot see his face, he winks at Ikelos.
Ikelos nods to Carles. I believe he is correct. Many of the books have references to previous wizards who brought various studies along. The Verditius mystery was given to him from someone in your House friend Marcellus. The Vulgar Alchemy is based on works by Mentor ex Miscellanea. I do think the breakthrough on the limit of Aging is his alone but I do not understand why he would do it. It goes against the teachings of our House.
Now friend Marcellus, we need to think of any questions to ask. I think the most obvious is what the person would do with this knowledge and books. Or perhaps why they would be the best guardian.
"Very well, sodalis," Marcellus nods. "Then what you need to ask yourself first is what you want to happen with this knowledge. Is it to be kept out of circulation totally? Do you want it accessible to anyone? Do you want only certain people to have access to it? If so, what people and what would be necessary for them to prove themselves 'worthy' of that knowledge?"
Marcellus raises an hand before Ikelos gets a chance to asnwer, "Do not tell me! More important, do not tell them. You should tailor you questions according to what you wish to achieve. I could venture my own opinion, but I cannot do that without letting them know, which runs the risk of them... well, shall we say tailor their answers to what you want to hear.")
Metron is about to make a maniacal outburst again, but Sigmundo growls at him and speaks with his dragon voice.
Don't say a word! You either play this game right, or I am out!
Metron backs down and shuts up. He sort of recedes into the shadows, a pair of glowing eyes.
The pllayers sit and wait.
Ikelos ponders the room for a moment.
A question for you Vyshkantha. Must these three answer truthfully for the question I ask?
I said you may ask one question of each candidate. I am not a candidate. But in the spirit of the candor displayed by the players, I will tell you this. Honesty is part of our Bargain. The "truth" is only as far as what they know and believe, and nothing prevents them from using kennings or spin. But the contestants must believe what they say, lest they risk incurring the misfortune of breaking a sworn Bargain
Ikelos nods and thinks a bit.
Metron. If you were the guardian of the Legacy of Alarcon, what would you want done with the knowledge?
Metron contemplates the matter for a moment. What would I want done with the knowledge? That is a clever question. For a moment, I thought you asked what I would do with it. Wasn't sure if I wanted to burn it, study it, or both. What would I want to be done with it? Hmmm...
I came to this game because I was curious to see if it is real. I had no ambitions or ideas. Until now. I would like to see what could be done with it. What really is in there anyway? A few trivial or minor breakthroughs, sure. But the Verditius mystery, that's the prize. I know what I would do with it, but what do I want done with it?
If I still gave a rats ass about the Order, I would want to see it safely introduced into the Corpus Hermetica and used to make the order stronger.
But I am an outlaw to the Order, and the Quaesitores want me dead or alive. They would prefer to catch me alive, so they could suffer upon me their endless interrogation. Fools.
I would want to see the Legacy of Alarcon used in such a way that preserves my comfort and safety. That can mean using them to increase my power, using them as bargaining chip in negotiations or barter, or maybe even create my own organization. The Order of Flames. The Society of Shadows. House Metron.
Ikelos nods and smiles. And to you Carles. What would you want done with the knowledge from Alarcon?
I am paying close attention to how you phrase the question. But my answer is simple. What I would want done with the knowledge of Alacon is to see that everyone that invested in his projects gets a full copy of all the knowledge that was discovered.