In the Ruins of Bibracte

1223.3 Have You Ever Danced With the Devil?

Dramatis personæ

  • Korvin ex Mercere – Magus at Mons Electi and devout Pagan.
  • Fr. Théofil – Priest at Saint-Léger-sous-Beuvray near Mons Electi
  • Gautier II – Local Bishop.
  • Henri – Major-domo for Mons Electi
  • Alexei ex Flamebeau – Imperator of Mons Electi and Christan magus.
  • Valeran ex Guernicus – Chief Hoplite for Normandy Tribunal and enemy of Mons Electi.
  • Dragonse – Grog
  • Orrand – Grog
  • Nichard – Grog
  • Vilon – Grog
  • Jolanda – Shield Grog for Korvin

Father Théofil requests a meeting with Korvin and the other Magi of Mons Electi. Théofil is a rotund man seems to know a lot about magi which startles Korvin. He reminds Korvin that all the magi need to show up for confession. He also wants Korvin to use magic to transport him to Givry. Korvin tries to play dumb and Théofil leaves in a huff.

Henri informs Korvin that they are late on their payment of 750 marks to the Bishop in Dijon. Korvin gathers the tithe and goes to Alexei for help with the escort. It is fairly obvious that Korvin does not want to deal with the Church but Alexei persuades him to go as well.

The troupe is several days out when it encounters Valeran on the road. He and Alexei exchange barbs and Valeran but not before freezing all of Alexei’s armor in place. Alexei is able to Wizard’s Leap out and the journey continues with Alexei in a foul mood.

The troupe make it to Dijon without further incident and, after being disarmed, are escorted to the Bishop. They are surprised to find Valeran there already in conference with Bishop Gautier.

More barbs are exchanged but in polite tones as the Bishop is present. Gautier knows much about the Order of Hermes. Alexei and Valeran talk themselves into participating in the Crusade in the South of France vs the Cather.

Korvin and Gautier have a long conversion about the Order and Mons Electi. Korvin is put down on the lists has having confession and breaths a sigh of relief.

1222.2c Your Presence Is Requested and Required

Dramatis personæ

  • Carmine ex Flamebeau – powerful Flamebeau magus. Married to Andru ex Jerbiton
  • Korvin ex Mercere – Magus from Mons Electi
  • Poena – Tremere Prima
  • Elain – Shield Grog to Laetitia ex Guernicus
  • Insatella – Mercere Prima
  • Arabella – A redcap at Harco
  • Garus ex Flamebeau – Flamebeau Primia
  • Lucius ex Flamebeau – Magus from Castra Solis
  • Maria – Daughter and heir to Insatella
  • Murion – Bonisagus Prima
  • Caecilius ex Bonisagus – Quaesitor
  • Laetitia ex Guernicus – Magus from Mons Electi
  • Moebius ex Guernicus – mentor to Laetitia powerful Terram magus.

Branched from the Lost Boys plot.

After Elain accidentally reveals that Apollodorus is actually Xenophon of Tremere, Carmine sends Korvin to gather many of the Primi at Durenmar for a meeting. Korvin must travel to Coeris, Harco, Castra Solis and Durenmar to send deliver his message.

Apollodorus transports Korvin and Elain to Coeris ( that had been attacked) where they meet with Poena. She tells Korvin to return to Harco and destroy the portal to Magvillus.

Korvin arrives at Harco to see it in flames. Insatella has been badly burnt. After stabilizing Insatella he goes to the Magcillus portal and destroys it thus getting a lot of Redcaps mad at him. He then heads to the Castra Solis portal, taking care not to hurt any of the Redcaps but to just protect himself and Elain.

Once through to Castra Solis he finds the place locked down. Garus has been assassinated. Lucius arrives and listens to Korvin’s tale. He gathers 3 Hoplites to help with the fires at Harco and sends them back with Korvin.

Korvin is met with some hostility but is able to heal Insatella and several others. He does learn that Maria is in Magvillus. He goes with his Prima to Durenmar for the meeting.

Murion calls the meeting to order and then indicates Poena should start things off. “Each of you here, except, perhaps, Korvin knows that Xenophon of Tremere has been killed tonight. Until his death, he was probably the oldest magus. Apollodorus was gauntleted shortly after the Schism, and was a product of that environment. He was haunted by a lab accident that left him extraordinarily Gifted a few years after his gauntlet. He did much for my House, and much was given to him. He became a student of the Schism, and indeed of all the troubles the Order has had from within. After a hundred hears of study he drew a startling conclusion, that House Guernicus was behind all of the troubles, and it all began with the Duresca scrolls.” Cavillor hisses, “House Guernicus cannot have done all that you claim, they simply aren’t powerful enough, they maintain order in our ranks, and nothing else!”

Poena returns a laugh, but one with no hint of mirth or humor, “I have copies of Apollodorus’ research, of how he connected the dots.” She waves her hands and several volumes are brought out and provided to everyone present, including Korvin. “Apollodorus had been lying low for these last few years, until he found what he was seeking. He built Mons Electi on the spot of a former covenant of House Diedne.” A few people draw in a sharp breath when they hear her call the House by name. “Apollodorus, had been inquired as to whether it was safe to build a covenant in that location, several members of House Guernicus assured him it was, never mentioning what had been there previously, even though Apollodorus knew what was there. One of the things that troubled him most was that House Guernicus always seemed to prefer destroying evidence, preventing others from learning about their mistakes. As loremasters, destroying evidence and lore should be a last resort. It is not lore that makes us evil, it is how we use it. Why not destroy the books on the Arts, if lore is truly so dangerous. Xenophon understood this, and began making trouble for House Guernicus, after several attempts on his life, he let one appear to be successful and assumed a new identity, and apprenticed with Astrolabe of Jerbiton.”

Andru picks up the tale, “Of course, that wasn’t the case. He was an apprentice in name only, in reality he was my master as much as Astrolabe was. He taught me much, but how I am most appreciative of him was that he taught me how to look at the way House Guernicus was isolating us, and keeping knowledge of our past hidden. Why is it that people who even bring mention of the Duresca scrolls get punished so severely? Threats of being marched if they don’t keep quiet. And then there is the stranglehold that the House maintains on the Normandy Tribunal, odd rulings allowing covenants to continue exist in a nearly perpetual state of near/almost war enshrined into that Tribunal’s peripheral code. Why are the places of House Diedne kept secret, lost in lore only to the records House Guernicus keeps to themselves. And then there is the central mystery, the one that I don’t think Apollodorus solved. Little is know of what happened to Guernicus, the Founder, how he died, only rumors and innuendo remain. Fenicil spoke for him in his later years, and then once he became Primus of the House, that’s when, apparently the Tremere were seeking to dominate the Order.”

Murion speaks, interrupting Andru before continuing, “There is a clear pattern beginning with the supposed Tremere domination, escalating into the Schism War. And here is where it is most disconcerting. It has long been rumored that House Guernicus has amassed a collection of ancient magical artifacts and rituals, which they keep to themselves. It was during the Schism, that Xeneophon’s pater, as the Quaesitor of House Tremere witnessed the ritual murder of the Diedne representative, cursing that House and weakening it to allow the rest of the Order to defeat House Diedne. Notice the targets, Houses that were tightly woven with strong sense of duty to one’s house. House Tremere and House Diedne were both greatly weakened, and only House Guernicus remains that strong sense of duty to the House amongst its members. And it is all covered by a cloak of service to the Order.”

Discussion continues into the afternoon, Korvin hears some other things, but mostly he’s in a daze. One tidbit he plucked out of the conversation is that Garus had been a confidant of Xenophon and was targeted because of that relationship, and that Garus was attempting to build a tightly woven sense of duty to the Order and the House into the Flambeau, and it was beginning to work.

Upon returning to Harco they find that Laetitia has been able to save Maria from Magvillus. She and Korvin have some tense moments as she explains how she was controlled and brainwashed into revealing Apollodorus’ real identity to her House which lead to his assassination.

“There are some things you must know, before today’s events will make much sense to you.” Laetitia pauses, and then leans back in her chair and continues. "My Gift is particularly suited towards the mastery of spells. This same aptitude is especially well suited to certain other rituals, discovered by Fenicil, the existence of said rituals are also a closely guarded secret of the House.

“My Hermetic pater is my vulgar father, whom you know as Iudicium scholae Guernici, the Presiding Quaesitor of Stonehenge. He is on Magvillus’ inner council, and despite his… complex relationship with me, sees it as a matter of personal honour that I be groomed as his heir. It was thus that I was taught certain secrets of the House, on the pretense that the Order may soon face a great threat, which would call for drastic measures.” She pauses for a moment, as if considering how best to say what is to come. “I had often wondered at many inconsistencies in the accounts of the Schism War, and when father taught me a ritual which would curse an entire people, involving a blood sacrifice… I suffered a crisis of faith.”

Laetitia clears her throat. "I believe firmly in the rule of law, that no one is above the law, especially not those tasked with its enforcement. That my own House would commit such a heinous crime, under the pretense of being “for the greater good,” shocked and appalled me. I demanded reassignment, reassured my superiors that I would keep the House’s secrets, and they insisted that they would not call upon me to betray my principles under any circumstances. I was reassigned to Normandy, where Proctor asked me to keep an eye on Apollodorus, with no explanation of what his interest was. I assumed it was in furtherance of his stranglehold on the Tribunal’s politics.

“Apollodorus told me that he was interested in claiming his rightful place as Praeco of the Tribunal. So when it became clear that he is Xenophon…. You must understand, I had been told my entire life that Xenophon parens was a power-hungry sociopath, dangerously charming and a great manipulator of people, bent on destroying the Order’s structure and plunging us all into chaos. Father had even hinted at times that Xenophon’s parens was directly responsible for framing Diedne, and ultimately causing that entire House’s destruction through his manipulations.

“Did I believe this of the man I had come to know over the months? Of course not. I have very good instincts, which had never, until today, led me astray. I did, however, know that Valerian had long been pulling strings, abusing Quaesitorial authority to spy upon Apollodorus, and Mons Electi at large. I had every expectation that, by confirming their suspicions, Magvillus would charge Apollodorus with whatever evidence they had against him, that Xenophon would be tried by a court of his peers, and that with me as his advocate, charges would be dropped. I thought that by speaking out, we would finally be able to live in peace.” She laughs bitterly. “I suppose it was hubris on my part. I could never have imagined that the inner council would flagrantly disregard the rule of law. As soon as I was debriefed, they began assembling strike teams— and when I objected and tried to assert standard protocol, not only was I overruled, but Valerian sealed me in my former sanctum— without an aegis token.”

Moebius nods then. “My familiar had told me there was a great hubbub above, but I was not concerned with it until I heard sounds from the abandoned sanctum next door to me. I tunnelled through the seal on Laetitia’s door, and we made our way to find young Maria. We fought our way to the Mercere Portal, but its magic was dormant. The inner council must have known we would try to escape that way, and sacrificed the portal to trap us. Instead, we sabotaged part of the fortress and tunnelled our way out. Which brings us here, and now.”

Laetitia frowns. "We cannot openly oppose the inner council at this point. But the primi must be made aware that the upper echelon of House Guernicus has committed grievous crimes in furtherance of their bid for power, and will do worse, if given the opportunity. I would have them believe we support them, while we quietly muster opposition. The damage we did to the Magvillus fortress will allow us to dissemble, and claim that Magvillus was attacked at the same time as the other domus magna. If we spread this misinformation, Magvillus may believe we can be controlled, which may buy time for ourselves.

“I cannot undo my own actions. I will always have Apollodorus’ blood on my hands, and I will have to find some way to live with that. He foresaw what was coming, though; it is no coincidence that he gave me his will when he did. I believe he took comfort in knowing I would take up arms and continue his work… I believe, perhaps, he thought that I would finish it. Which I intend to do.

“So now, I must ask. Will you stand with me?”

Preludes (prior to covenant founding)
What Came Before

A cloaked figure arrived at Apollodorus of Jerbiton’s manor to create the structures of the new covenant, as previously agreed. Unfortunately, the cloaked figure breeched the rules by asking the Jerbiton about the Aegis that he had cast by himself. As a consequence, the cloaked figure would no longer be allowed to keep the lab text that he would use to create the structures, but must instead return it to Apollodorus.

At a later dinner with Apollodorus, he and Janos discuss why Apollodorus would want to build a covenant on a site that was rumored to be a Diedne covenant. Apollodorus had done some personal investigation, and checked with House Guernicus, and was certain that there had never been a Diedne covenant there. Apollodorus was disgusted by Tribunal politics, as he kept being bothered by invitations to join covenants, and wanted to start his own covenant so that he would be left alone to focus on his other pursuits. He then showed Janos the regio entrance, and how to pass through, and the two wound up fifty feet above the ground in the Regio. He had commissioned a manor house to be built quickly (albeit by mundane means) to make the regio entrance more easily accessible. Apollodorus had also found a regio entrance on the mundane side, which led to a cavern. He had not been able to find the entrance to the cavern, however, and wanted Janos to help investigate. He also hired Janos to create structures on the regio side.

Some months later, Andru paid an unexpected call to see what Apollodorus was doing. Apollodorus said that he had made no secret of his plans. He went on to say that he had served long enough and no longer wished to. He would continue to host the Antigones and their masters, however, if they came to visit, and would sponsor some of them on their Itinerarium should a master be unable to.

Fieltarn ex Miscellanea had been captured and tortured by his own clutch of Aes Criedne, who had killed his pater some twenty years earlier. They had used the Stone of Pain on him in an attempt to get him to renounce Hermetic magic, as the clutch felt that their Tradition was being destroyed by the Order, subdued by Christianity, or enslaved by the order of Diedne the Traitress. A trio of magical vipers managed to free Fieltarn from his bonds, allowing him to gain his vengeance on those who had killed his pater.

In the summer of 1219, Korvin of Mercere visited Apollodorus to let him know that the magical Mercere intended to make his residence at the new covenant. However, he would not be able to move for another year.

Toward the end of 1219, Fiona ex Miscellanea received a pair of letters at her home in Loch Leglean. One was from Apollodorus, to let her know that the covenant that was the subject of much of their correspondence was almost completed, and would be ready for her to arrive in the spring. The other was from Angus Mac Ossian, her full-Giant cousin, telling her that she was to move to the continent as soon as possible, to work on her dream of normalizing Giant-human relations. She informed the Council of the Covenant of Insula Canaria that she would be leaving within the fortnight, an announcement they did not delight in hearing. Fiona broke down and packed her laboratory, and made a deal with a local merchant by the name of William the Conqueror to get a couple of carts and some draught animals; William bargained to accompany the maga in exchange for ten draughts of a popularity potion. Fiona’s maidservant Moire and Moire’s husband Seumas convinced Fiona to take them along, to spare them from retribution for Fiona’s leaving. Ivor MacBride, who had grown up amongst the giants of Clan MacOssian despite being fully human, found the group camping just north of Hadrian’s Wall and informed Fiona that he was sent by Angus to be her new bodyguard.

Alexei of Flambeau and his entourage dined at an inn near Autun. A boy found a guide to take them to their destination the next day, and said that the guide had been taking a lot of masons and strange folk to the ruins lately.

The next day, they passed the ruined Temple of Janus en route. Shortly after entering the forest, the group found themselves surrounded by a number of men, lead by a seven-foot-tall dark-skinned man dressed in skins and bearing a sheathed scimitar. The leader introduced himself, in German, as Alexei’s captor, Mufarjj ibn Walid. Mufarjj then drew his sword, and all of Alexei’s entourage fainted, while the magus felt his parma repel an attack. Mufarjj claimed that his master told him much about Alexei, to make him easier to defeat and to capture, and promised by Allah that if Alexei yielded, his cohort would come to no harm.

Alexei cast Assume the Stature of the Giants of Eld to make himself seem larger, which caused a couple of Mufarjj’s men to bolt. He then tried to cast a couple of spells on Mufarjj, with no result. Mufarjj then swung at Alexei, but the Moor’s scimitar froze in mid-air, allowing Alexei to score a solid hit to the chest with his spear. Mufarjj cried out to his master to save him, then collapsed, unconscious. His skins and scabbard dissipated into a black mist which flew toward Alexei. The mist formed a face with eyes and a malicious smile as it drew near Alexei, then split in two to go around him before reforming and flying off to the southeast. Mufarjj’s scimitar, meanwhile, still hung suspended in mid-air. His mean broke and ran, while Alexei’s came to. Alexei and his men managed to muscle the gravely wounded man into their cart, at which point his scimitar fell to the ground.

As Alexei approached Bibracte, he took note of the indefensible nature of the place, where the only wall present was the one along the road, and the remains of any other walls in the area had been scavenged for building stones for years. He was greeted by Apollodorus. Alexei informed him of the attack and said that he would like Mufarjj healed, as he may still be of use to the covenant. The grogs were shown their relatively opulent barracks, which gave Alexei fear that they would grow soft. Apollodorus showed Alexei the regio entrance and the new structures in the Regio, and also pointed out the second regio entrance in a cave that would likely become the Criamon’s sanctum.

Iosephus of Criamon sat on the edge of a rugged cliff at the end of Wales. He knew that a great wind was coming, as he could feel it in the Tide of the Inspiratio. When the time was right, he flung himself from the cliff onto the wind and floated across the channel to Bibracte. While he was airborne, he had a vision. He saw several structures, a manor house and several outbuildings that were quite well made, sitting on top of a tall plateau. He began to notice some things amiss. There were sheep milling about, but some were lying on the ground, torn apart. Next to one of the rent sheep was a human arm, tossed and bent awkwardly at the elbow. Looking about him,he saw that carts were overturned, and then saw several people looking toward the manor. Looking back at the manor, Iosephus saw that it had been severely damaged, and where one would expect to find a door, he instead saw a roughly man-shaped hole over twelve feet tall. Then he saw two giants. Between them, they caught someone running toward them, rent the person down the middle and tossed the pieces aside, only to move on to the next person. One of the giants was a woman, about twelve feet tall, while the other was a man a foot taller; both were dressed in animal skins and had clubs some six feet long lying on the ground. After the person had been torn asunder, they picked up their clubs. People continued to run toward them, and each giant swung, knocking people flying backwards in the air. Suddenly coming into view was a scowling man with deep, reddish-brown hair and beard and deep brown eyes. The man wielded a great two-handed sword with remarkable skill. Anyone who ran toward him was cut in half. The people running turned and ran back to the giants, who dispatched them in turn. The cycle repeated until none were left.

Iosephus hoped that the vision was allegorical, but feared that it wasn’t.