Winter 1221, Chapter 4b: The Tremere March

On a chill winter's day, five Tremere soldiers arrive at the gates of Libellas. All five wear matching chainmail, and all five ride matching blue roan jennets; two rounceys in silver dapple and palomino carry an empty cart behind. "We are soldates Tremeris in service to Quaesitor Justinius," speaks one soldier. "We are here to escort Sophia," another adds.

"You must mean Sophronia, surely?" inquires the gate guard. "The maga prefers to be addressed by her full name."

"We are aware what the maga prefers. Domus Tremeris does not trouble itself with the petty desires of its discipuli. Send word to Sophia that we await her arrival."

When she's informed of Alpha's arrival and the disrespectful tone, she asks that Alpha, and Alpha alone, be brought to her sanctum. Presuming he arrives, she invites him in and greets him warmly saying, "Alpha, thank you for coming to see me. We have a matter of protocol to discuss." If she has to go to him. "Alpha, come here, now." bringing him out of earshot of his men, but her tone leaving no doubt that it is an order, and not a request.

And then continue, "It is my understanding that you shared motives and actions of the House with the guard at the gate. I have concerns about this on two levels. First, you addressed the representatives of your hosts impolitely and spoke of me derisively. He merely informed you of my name. You may have known of me as Sophia, but that is a name that Justinius gave to me when I was his discipula. When I gauntleted, I ceased to be discipula. Justinius and I discussed my name as all Tremere apprentices do with their parens. I am properly called Sophronia. Only my intimates, Justinius and others I become close to may call me Sophia. As of now, you do not fall within any of those categories. Even Goliard addresses me as Sophronia.

"Secondly, while I have not requested command over you and your unit, it is something that is within my rights to do. I wish to develop a working relationship where we come to respect each other's opinion and capabilities. I am less familiar with military matters than my parens, of course. Your aid in this area could be a great boon to me. Your disrespect will be met with disciplinary action, or transfer to better meet the needs of the Domus. Consider that if I succeed in my mission, it is a feather in your cap, as much as it is mine. Justinius has been asbent for 6 years, nearly since my gauntlet. I miss him, as I'm sure you do.

"Third, do not presume to speak for Domo Tremeris, without having a greater command of the details of your mission. There is only one who speaks with the full authority of the Domus here in Stonehenge, and she has ordered me to look into Justinius disappearance. She has also pledged not inconsiderable resources, Domus resources, just as surely as you and I are Domus resources. Reckless speech risks damaging the House, which risks damaging the mission. I called you here, because I needed a capable security escort that I felt I could trust. Reckless speech makes gives me pause in thinking that such trust is misplaced. I will now forget this matter. Do we have an understanding?" Sophronia fixes a gaze upon him, suggesting that it his responsibility to understand her in this instance, while attempting to show him that she respects his talents and gifts.

(BTW, your orders to investigate Justinius' disappearance did not come from Goliard; they came from Archmaga Amphelisia, your great-grandparens.)

One of the custodes steps forward at Sophronia's command-- but not the one she thought was Alpha. He stands at attention while he receives his admonishment. As Sophronia chastises the soldier, he has the grace to look embarrassed. Finally, he speaks. "The maga misunderstands. We are here not by her request, but by order of Legatus Nyrikki. Beta! The letters. Gamma! The packages."

A second custos steps forward and proffers a scroll case, while a third pulls a medium-sized leather case from a saddlebag and hands it to the maga. Within the scroll case is a security clearance in Alpha's name, sealed and signed by Archmaga Amphelisia, and two letters- one addressed to you from Josef, and the other addressed to Alpha from Sophia's grandparens; in the leather case is a lovely navy blue woolen cloak lined with silk and trimmed with ermine fur, and (whatever you've spent your build points on).

Optio Alpha, custos Assessoris:

I understand Justinius has taken to fraternizing with his stipatores since departing the Hibernian coventum domum; you may think yourself a friend to my erstwhile filius. The freedom you have thusfar enjoyed ends now. In Justinius' absence, you report directly to me, and will serve me in all matters until such a time as my discipulus is located, after which new stipatores will be assigned him, and you and your auxilium will return to Coeris to serve me indefinitely.

Sophia filia Justinius will be taking up residence at Gallus Florensis, in furtherance of the House's interest in Britannia. She will be tasked to seeking Justinius, and continuing his work in the unfortunate event that he has failed. You are to assist her in her assignment and ensure that she does not stray from her duties. It has come to my attention that her advancement has been subpar; you are to encourage her to rectify the oversights in her post-provocatio studies. (He includes a list of assigned reading.) You may address my grandfilia in the style she prefers, upon her completion of Magus Invictus. See also that she receives the Tunica Verditia I have sent on behalf of my mater.

Alpha, your service to the House has been exceptional in the past, but any tool will rust without proper care. Effective immediately, you and your men will change your drills to the following regimen: (a long description of military exercizes follows)

Justinius' final orders, Sophia's mission, and yours, are of utmost security. You are to speak to no one outside of the collegium of your orders. Should you be questioned or given orders from within the House but outside the collegium, you may inform them that your clearance comes directly from Archmaga Amphelisia. You may experience some issues in this regard with Goliard in particular; I have enclosed a security clearance with my mater's seal.

You will report to me monthly by way of Justinius' scrying glass, on the last day of every month.

Legatus Archmagus Nyyrikki filius Amphelisia doctrinae Tremeris, Praeses Assessorum

(Note: the Tunica Verditii is an item of quality that grants a +4 Protection bonus. Nyyrikki is Legatus-- he would not have sent you such an item and demanded you study more Parma, unless he expected that Justinius is truly in Deep Shit.)

"My apologies. It is a matter of the right hand of the Domus not knowing what the left hand is doing. So, my first question, based on this is, are you, or is Alpha in possession of the scrying glass?"

After finding out the status of the scrying glass, she will ask that the cart be loaded with the silver. She will don the cloak, and ask that the rest of the contents be loaded back into the cart, along with the silver she's secured. While the cart is being loaded, she'll review Josef's letter. Then she'll fume, quietly, for a bit about being addressed in the diminutive by the soldates for at least 3 more than likely more 4 or 5 seasons. And then kick herself for not taking advantage of Libellus own texts on Parma Magica.

All Tremere are pretty bad about hazing, but Justinius was worse than most, in that regard. When he drafted Gallus Florensis' charter, he included most of his hazing techniques into it. You didn't even have a name for fifteen years-- everyone in the covenant was required to address you as discipulus, even the covenfolk. Any time you were on covenant grounds, you were required to wear the appointed apprentice's robes (which are a peculiar shade of puke green which clashes with EVERYTHING). (On the plus side, once you sign the charter you'll be a full member, and get to laugh at all the scrubby Provisional Members who have to wear bright yellow robes.)

You're pretty sure Justinius picked up this peculiarity from his pater, who is, from what you could tell by Justinius' accounts, a nasty piece of work.

"Justinius' scrying glass is safely secured by the Optio," Gamma (or is that Epsilon?) replies.

Another (ostensibly Alpha) adds, "The Legatus has indicated that you will henceforth receive his orders either secondhand or in person, as impetus to further your study of Corpus such that you may travel in a manner more befitting an assessor of his lineage."

To Alpha, "Acknowledged. Am I riding a horse or riding in the cart or walking?"

((OOC I'd read that bit about the robes and being called discipula.)

"The maga may travel as she chooses," one of the custodes intones. Another chimes in, "But she may find it most comfortable to ride on the cart."

Sophronia will eye the cart a bit dubiously, "I suppose I'll ride. If it is too uncomfortable, I'll walk."
Who's driving? She'll begin to engage him about the magi now in residence, see if anyone has claimed Justinius' sanctum.

The cart hadn't been driven previously; the horses now bearing it had been led.

If Sophronia rides in the cart, she would drive it. Elsewise the horses will be led by a rider. You're not moving at any kind of real speed, though, so conversation is simple enough as they ride.

One of the soldates informs her that none of the new magi has managed to find their way into Justinius's sanctum. "None of them are 'good enough at Terram' to 'meld their way through the solid stone,' one soldier smirks*. The five of them laugh raucously.

  • As a discipulus, you were given a potent paste to spread over your eyelids to grant you powerful Second Sight to discern the highly complex illusions that concealed the entrances into his laboratory.

Sophronia will walk. She's not a teamster, and while she feels she could ride a horse, she doesn't feel she could handle a cart and horse or horses. "That'll be quite enough of that. You will not laugh at members of Gallus Florensis in my presence. I can see why Nyyrikki plans to recall you, the discipline of this unit is horrid. I will attempt to scrae some of the rust off, myself, before you take service with Nyyrikki."

The walk is uneventful and takes the better part of a week, due to the frigid weather and slushy ground.

When you arrive, the covenant is quiet. Stefan the Omnipresent Butler greets you warmly at the gates (none of the covenfolk know you have any name but "Sophia" as you had no name before your Gauntlet, and "Sophia" is what Justinius called you after your Provocatio).

You are given a warm meal in the main dining hall, where folks are just settling in for dinner.

Attravere and Aequi were both serving as apprentices (with Maribus and Lamentus, respectively) overlapping Sophronia's apprenticeship, so either of them might recognize Justinius' filia.

She will politely correct them to call her Sophronia. Also, while travelling, she asks Alpha for a full accounting of their training and activities for the period beginning with Justinius absence.

They've been drilling an hour at dawn and an hour at sunset, every day but the Sabbath (Saturday-- they are Greek). They have been doing work, too. They've rebuilt the little Greek Orthodox chapel, built a separate barracks for themselves, do their own fishing and hunting, and cultivate their own garden and small orchard.

She'll linger and introduce herself to the covenfolk, asking about any difficulties they might be having, helping in any small day-to-day problems that magi have a tendency to ignore.

The shepherdess, Sarit bat Tamir, complains that her flock is being decimated every month by some kind of wild beast. "It is so strange, because it happens right around the fifteenth of every month," she complains. "The corgi pack, they have always been able to drive away predators, but this beast is the size of an ox, and rabid. The dogs do not stop him."

"It is a serious problem," adds Wallis of Oxford, the tutor. "We have been buying mutton and vellum from Chester, and have had to borrow heavily from usurers. It is lucky that Josef is a Jew, those cutthroats don't charge interest to Jews. But soon they will stop lending to him because there is no profit in it, and they are beginning to question our ability to make good. Likely there will be no lamb for the Jews come Easter. Or whatever it is they do at Easter."

Shprintzel bat Feivel is furious that Attravere (who you remember from your respective apprenticeships) has returned to Gallus Florensis, but has not once stopped by to meet his nine-year-old bastard son, Joshua-- let alone see to his care. She hates the boy because of his roustabout ways. "Rotten seed, rotten apples."

Shlomo the butcher is upset that the influx of Gentile covenfolk has been leading to more and more complaints that he doesn't carry any bacon.

Many of the covenfolk are upset about "the ruddy giant." During the mob chaos at the Midsummer Festival, she plowed through the commonfolk, breaking quite a few ribs and bloodying noses. They fear to speak her name aloud.

There is fear that the marchland border disputes will range closer to the covenant come springtime.

She'll inquire with Shlomo if he can partner with a gentile butcher and expand facilities, to meet the demand.

She is cautious about commenting about the affairs of a magus and his familiar responsibilities, so she won't. But she will inquire as to the identity of the boy if he's present and appear sympathetic. (Guile 1 +Com 3 + die roll of 2=6, although she is sympathetic to orphaned children. Yay InvisibleCastle is back up!)

"Tell me about the Midsummer Festival chaos, please?" (OOC: this is so the player's knowledge can align with the character's knowledge.)

To Sarit Bat Tamir, "How long have these attacks been taking place? Who exactly have you reported them to, previously?" She'll also inquire as to the activities of Alpha and his team.

"Partner? No! Pork is unclean. If it comes into contact with any of my tools, or if anything that's come into contact with treif then comes into contact with anything that would touch food we would eat... we would become unclean."

Shprintzel tilts her head to indicate a little boy, sitting all by himself at the end of a table, a good ten feet between him and any of the other covenfolk. He looks dejected in that way that only someone who's been a total pariah for his entire life, can.

"There was a man murdered, he tried to kill the Princess who's engaged to magus Rhodri. She nearly died, but she recovered thanks to Chayyim the doctor. Now we don't know whether the wedding is still on or not, the Princess hasn't been around since..."

"Since the beginning of summer. No one believed me, until the percamenarius and Shlomo both started complaining too. Josef knows, and we've told the wizards too."

"Separate tools, separate facilities, he takes the remains you don't, and deals in pork..."

"I see." She'll cast (deftly) Perception of the Conflicting Motives on the boy if she has time before she leaves, or he leaves if the other conversations she's engaged in will end before that time. In the event she is unable to cast the spell due to the many conversations, she will take note of him to expedite doing so at a later time.

"A murder? A murder of a potential assassin? Things have changed since last I was here."

"Tell me what you know of Alpha and his team. Have they been put to use at all or much since Justinius disappeared? Has anyone asked them to take a hand in this matter? I believe I will make this my highest priority, as it seems the other magi are otherwise engaged. I am not a martial magus, but I am capable of conducting an investigation."

"I am a butcher. It is not my place to hire a treif butcher, nor to build him facilities, nor to provide his tools. But I tell you now, if pigs will be defiling the grounds, making unclean our land and the otherwise pareve food we harvest from it, my people will not live here."

Her spell fizzles out. She then realizes the Aegis token she has from Gallus Florensis is eight Aegis castings ago :slight_smile:

The covenfolk begin to argue. "No, he was murdered before he tried to kill her." "Stupid! He couldn't have tried to kill someone after he was murdered!" "I was there. He was wounded, then he tried to kill her, but Rhodri stepped in front of the blade and killed the assassin." "NO! It was that ruddy giant what murdered the man AND tried to kill the princess! Because she wants Rhodri for herself!" "That's not how it happened, the man tried to kill the princess first and she snapped his neck even as his sword stabbed her in the heart..."

Sarit doesn't know who Alpha is, but she thanks you for agreeing to help. "It's the 11th now, so the beast will probably come out in three or four more days," she says. "I don't venture out with the flock at night anymore. Not since the first time I saw the beast. I'm not a coward! It's just-- I'm the only one that the dogs will obey, and..." Careful to ensure that no men catch sight, she lifts her skirt to reveal old, deep scars on her left leg. From the looks of it, it seems she'd suffered a horrible injury that snapped her tibia in half and drove it out through the knee. "I wouldn't be able to run away from the beast if it chased me. And without me to tell them what to do, the dogs won't herd the sheep."

It then occurs to Sophia that the date is December 4th, not the 11th.

"Very well, then I can't do anything to assist you with the complaints. I would think you should see the advantage in being able to sell half a carcass to another butcher, instead of letting it go to waste. Of course, I'd lend whatever assistance I can. But you need to provide a part of the solution, yourself, unless you just like to hear yourself complain." Bargain roll if you think appropriate is: Bargain 3 + Com 3 + (die roll of 1 + exploder roll of 5, for a total of 10)=16. ((The goal here is to show that she's willing to meet people halfway, if they want to be part of solving their problems, she'll help. If not, well, you've made your bed. I could do some other more appropriate roll.))

CS for the Perception of the Conflicting Motives is 29+Aura, which I believe is 5. That makes 34 + die roll of 2=36 . Perception of the Conflicting Motives is 15th level, so she would succeed in casting it at at a CT of 5. 36-5 is 31, which would mean it would need to be a greater than 12 magnitude Aegis to suppress her spell. She might be fatigued, but it would have to be greater than 8th magnitude to fatigue her. Also, it is quite likely that her Parma will have been knocked down by a sufficiently large Aegis (6th magnitude or greater), in which case, she will contrive to walk past the boy and say hello.

Sophronia will just nod sagaciously while listening intently and will consider sorting it out later, but probably won't. This seems to fall outside the scope of her mission, and the events don't seem to have a direct impact on her plans, at this time. ((She'll remain mostly ignorant as to the results of that thread, but may ask questions at a later time, when appropriate.))

"Alpha is one of the Tremere soldiers, ostensibly their leader since Justinius' disappearance. My curiosity is whether they have been helpful since Justinius' disappearance. Have they made themselves part of the community, helped out, or are they insular? I understand that they built an Orthodox chapel, but does the greater community use it, or are they the only ones? They appear to have been utilized very little, and this could be a mission that benefits Gallus Florensis, as well as themselves." Sophronia thinks to her self, "a bored soldier is a poor soldier. Perhaps giving them something to do other than barracks duty will instill better respect and manners."