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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Part 15: The Ways of Quaesitors

Plans

I have been thinking about the news Aversus brought us concerning the next Normandy Tribunal meeting. I have now gathered that it will take so long to get there and back that there will be no opportunity for serious study this coming Summer if I do decide to attend so I must think very carefully before volunteering to represent us there. It might be most appropriate if maga Iuris Perita attended, as Princeps, but it would probably be inappropriate if she was to try to sway the votes so someone else will have to go as well or instead, I believe.

It seems to me essential that we ensure that our new Covenant of Saxum Caribetum be accorded the traditional vote of welcome. I have taken the opportunity to speak to some of my sodales on this matter. While I do not want it to appear that we have had to owe favours to make sure this vote is proposed and carried, I am concerned that we have no friends in Wirbelnia, that we may have just upset Fudarus (though they may look on us with favour for having won the challenge) and they were against us from the outset, that Petrusca was against us from the start, that our sponsors at Mummolides cannot take a visible role in this motion, that our Princeps, as Quaesitor, cannot act openly in this nor call on her former home for action, and that I have as yet no friends in this Tribunal. It was Uylenspiegel, Brugensis and Les Sept Puys who voted for us at the crucial vote for the foundation of the new Covenant. I have asked Joach if he might have a contact there other than his parens who might be prepared to propose our vote of welcome. I have also asked Speculor the same, for I feel it would look a great deal more impressive if a covenant that voted against the new foundation was to propose our welcome. He seemed fairly confident that this might be possible to arrange. We have just about five months to arrange this matter.

Father Albertus returns

One evening soon after Aversus departed with letters, Fr. Albertus arrived. Apparently he had written ahead of time to announce his intention to visit, claiming that Magus Speculor had invited him. I think Iuris was rather annoyed. Saskia kept to her chamber almost throughout his visit, though she had recently been often seen around the edges of the Covenant working on the 'Aegis of the Hearth' ritual. Myself, I too kept away, more because I was so close to having a working laboratory than any desire to avoid converse with the clergyman. To be on the safe side, I moved the library books into my Sanctum for the duration of his visit; our future advancement in Magic depend upon these volumes. The visitor seemed to spend much of his time in Speculor's room though I did observe Fr.Albertus walking around the Tower, inside and out, peering closely at various parts of it. I was glad when he went for although I would very much like to understand more of his views of magic, which he says depend on 'sympathies' and 'correspondences' and have more to do with alchemy than anything else, I am not prepared to let him loose in my own laboratory to demonstrate.

Two Magi departed the covenant soon after Fr.Albertus left us. It was no surprise that Speculor set off again with Zane, Milon, Huon, Galienne and Alain to continue his hunt for Vis, according to his promised Service but it was very odd that Iuris left also. She did not say where she was going or why, even though we pointed out that we could not send grogs to rescue her if she would not tell where. Nor did she give any indication how long she would be. She took only her own people, Pernelle, Duncan and Arno. She is on foot in the mud so I doubt she will go far.

I could not help overhearing a rumour passing amongst the grogs that Maga Saskia was overheard making demands that she be given a 'proper shield grog' in a threatening manner. I have had my doubts about the role of her shield pig before and this just makes me wonder the more. However, it is none of my business as long as the Covenant is not left ill-defended. We are a little short on soldiers, they say.

Local politics

Soon after the departure of Iuris Perita, there was a commotion at the north gate where Elli was on duty. I was hard at work and not at all pleased to be disturbed by Julio knocking urgently at my door. He told me that there were soldiers at the gate with an important message and that Jehan was not coping well with them. I sent at once for Jimena, as her greater facility with the local language might be useful to me, and set off towards the gate. When I arrived, Jehan was there talking to a small group of mounted soldiers and the visitors were being offered refreshments. Everything seemed under control to me. Jehan introduced the leader of the soldiers, Sir Garier, to me and I had him repeat his message. It was from one of the local nobility, Baron Alain de Robien.

The Baron claims that the land we have occupied belongs to neither Lady Marta of Plaintel nor Jean de Ploeuc but to the Duc of Normandy. The Baron appears to be offering to come to some arrangement on our behalf with the Duc whereby we make some sort of payment to him (the Baron or the Duc, I am not sure which, or maybe both) and we may then continue to live here. The Baron further warned us not to pay heed to the minor local landowners who would be trying to use us to bolster their own claims against each other. I was puzzling over this when Saskia arrived so attempted to summarise the situation, as far as I understood it, for her in Latin. She and I agreed that we should delay making any reply until we had consulted Lady Marta, who has so far shown herself to be a friend towards us, and Iuris Perita, as our Princeps and legal expert. We told Sir Garier that we would send a reply within the next two to three weeks and they rode away. I really can't see why Jehan could not have dealt with this matter without disturbing me.

Brother Joseph was standing not far from the gates, and had apparently heard most of what was said, and I assume understood all but the Spanish. I questioned him about the Baron de Robien and learnt that where Plaintel had four or five knights and Pleouc but three, the Baron had fifteen owing fealty to him. This much I do understand. Brother Joseph is of the opinion that the Baron is probably in some dispute with either or both of the minor land owners. Our decision to delay our response seems good. It would be a good idea to tell Joach of this development but he has been shut away in his laboratory for days now and shows no sign of emerging.

Speculor hunts Corpus Vis

Speculor returned soon afterwards. He had decided that some means of levitating above the soggy ground of the isolated peat bogs that occurred on the tops of some of the flatter hills would be of great assistance to his expedition. No doubt his companions were glad of the chance to eat, wash and rest. I was not pleased that Speculor insisted on having the services of one of the carpenters at once when I had work for them already planned. However, all he wanted was a sort of raft which was easily contrived. He explained that he intended to cast a spell on it to make it float until the new moon.

Once I could get his attention away from this plan for a moment, I outlined our problem with the Baron. He said that Petrusca never paid any sort of fees to any mundane power and nor should we. Jehan heard this and humbly pointed out that he knew of some covenants that do pay mundanes for the right to dwell in peace on good lands which are not isolated. We do need to consult Iuris, if she ever returns. Speculor proposed that when we send our response to the Baron, we make two copies of the same letter on the same sheet of parchment, and then cut the piece in two so that one copy of the letter is delivered and the other remains with us as an arcane connection through which we might be able to overhear the Baron discussing our reply. Thus we might learn something of his intentions and motives. This seems to me a very good plan.

I observed Speculor make several attempts to make his raft float in the air. From my window, I could see that it did float but he seemed in some way dissatisfied with the result. Soon after that, I saw him and his grogs setting off into the forest again.

A visit to Plaintel

Not long after Speculor set off again, I paid a visit to Lady Marta. Ideally I would have preferred if Iuris had made this visit, but in her continued absence, and with no idea when or if she might return, I saw no sense in delaying. I was glad that Pepin was available to accompany me because Speculor had said this scribe had some experience of diplomacy. Naturally, I took Julio and Ignatio along too. Her ladyship was busy when we arrived, but it was not unpleasant to rest a while with refreshments and she did not keep me waiting long. I summarised the message that the Baron had sent, and then left Pepin to talk through the details, stopping him from time to time if I felt I had not understood. Lady Marta says that she is sure her own connections at court are superior to those of the Baron de Robien. Pepin used a lot of words but the gist was a suggestion that it might be advantageous were the Duc to hear from her that we were under her protection before he heard from the Baron. I didn't listen to it all but before long we were sitting to wait while Lady Marta and her scribe worked on a letter which she said we ought to use as our response to de Robien. I thanked her for her help though pointed out our reluctance to send any reply before Iuris had seen it. Fortunately she asked no awkward questions as to the current location or anticipated return of our Princeps.

Pepin studied the letter we were provided with and told me that it was very carefully worded and full of details quoting law and precedent but did not seem to commit us to anything. We had him make two copies as planned because we had decided to send the letter anyway should Iuris stay away more than two weeks. It seems also a good idea to repeat the tactic and send a similarly paired letter to Plaintel, perhaps after we get any reply from the Baron to the letter we have prepared for him using Lady Marta's, or her scribe's, words.

Eavesdropping on the Baron

Iuris Perita returned to Saxum Caribetum six days after she left. She and her companions were very muddy. She said she had been on 'official business' then went directly to her sanctum and shut herself away, to write a report she said. Those who had been with her have not, as far as I am aware, said anything about where they went or why.

By making contact with Pernelle, I was able to pass word to her mistress of the Baron's visit and the need for some response from us. Iuris did then spare the time to look over the letter we proposed to send and seemed satisfied with it. A day or so later we had the opportunity to show it to Speculor. He returned from the bogs with the damp, leathery remains of an arm which had been very long in the bog and contained a pawn of Corpus Vis. Speculor was quite certain that no more of the body was preserved there but had hopes that other such remains might be found in other bogs and in other seasons.

We sent a messenger to the Baron, carrying one copy of the letter. Speculor went most of the way with him. The letter was delivered at sunset, so Speculor would know when to cast his spell. He had to try a couple of times until he managed to locate the room where the Baron was listening to the letter being read aloud to him. The Baron recognised it as a carefully-couched delaying tactic. Someone else in the room pointed out that it was well-phrased, and not what one would expect of those people in the tower, who did not speak well. Another voice said that one could detect the hand of Lady Marta of Plaintel in the wording, describing her as 'a subtle sort of witch'. Someone remarked that they had come off rather badly the last time they had moved against her. There was no mention at all of the Duc. There was a little discussion about what the people in the tower might be up to, and the general conclusion seemed to be that we were mad. A voice said that they, the people at the tower, had better watch out for the bishop. Another voice suggested telling the bishop about the newcomers but someone responded that there was no advantage in that and the conversation faded away.

Eavesdropping on Plaintel

When Speculor got back and told the rest of us what he had heard, we considered sending to Lady Marta. We wrote a letter to say we had sent her words to the Baron but had as yet had no response from him, and invited her to visit us to discuss our next move in this matter, wondering what, if anything, we should send to the Duc. This letter was sent next time Speculor came back from the bogs to rest. While waiting for the letter to be delivered, he cast 'Summon the Distant Image' to see where our letter to the Baron was; it appeared to be in the room of a scribe. Speculor told me that he had tried once or twice to listen in through that letter over the past few days but without hearing anything.

Listing in on Lady Marta was not profitable. She was heard to mutter something about the naivety and incompetence of so-called scholars and put the letter down saying she might visit but not immediately.

I have been occupied in drawing up a list of some items I find I need for my laboratory. It will not be long now before I can commence my work, so I have commissioned the merchant who calls here from time to time, Bertrand, to obtain a few items which may be easier to come by than last time I asked.

Mid February

Everything is in turmoil! I am not sure whether I should be happy and honoured with this unexpected visit from such important magi or terrified. I will attempt to calm myself and explain. Garth was on guard duty with Jean at the south gate this afternoon. They sounded an alarm to summon Jacques on sighting a small party of armed and mounted soldiers approaching. Unlike the last group to visit, these had shields up and at the ready and no pennants. There were four well-armed and armoured soldiers with a cloaked rider behind and another before them. Jacques was just arriving at the gate with as many armed grogs as he could muster in a hurry when the riders drew up and the leader announced that Industria Quaesitoris of Objugator had come to talk to the magi. The other cloaked figure was introduced as Prehendo Quaesitor.

Jehan has made them as comfortable in our council chamber as is possible under the circumstances. It appears they travelled here in great haste, that they wish to speak to us together and alone over the next few days to investigate our activities. I have nothing to hide or feel guilty about, but am concerned about my sodales. It is some twenty days or so since Iuris Perita returned from her mysterious expedition. Perhaps this visit has something to do with the 'official business' she said she had been conducting. I hope we find out soon.

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