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Many magi were assembling, including a number I had not previously met. I was sorry not to see Aversus scholae Mercereris, who has been our link with the tribunal all year. His counsel would undoubtedly have been of great value. I most particularly wished to hear from him concerning the character of the magi that I expect greatest trouble from, those of Fudarus. I was surprised that no representative came from Taurus Candidus. Right up until the last moment I was expecting some bird to land and turn into Reneus Taurus or one of their other Bjornaer. It will be very hard in his absence to carry out Maga Saskia's command that I look to Reneus for guidance in using her sigil.
Someone I was intending to look out for while at Petrusca was the young singer stolen so recently from Lady Marta. I suppose it might have been in my best interests to be able to honestly claim ignorance, or at least doubt, about her whereabouts but curiosity required me to look. As it happened, I could not have remained ignorant because Petrusca was making no secret of the recent arrival of the singer, who they claimed to be something very special. The girl is being well looked after and is receiving singing lessons - though why she requires lessons if she is as good as Petra scholae Jerbitonis claims she is, I do not understand. To me, she sounds pleasant enough but not worth so much fuss.
I asked Mephitus if there were any talks planned by the Bonisagus magi of Petrusca to tell of their researches. He said he himself would be very happy to talk about his own work the following evening and I am very much looking forward to being present. It is for opportunities such as this that I so desired to be here. Before he left me, I was so bold as to request help from Mephitus in approaching the representatives of Fudarus, thinking that it might be easier to get Fudarus to admit to an archmagus the foolishness of complaining about losing a contest than to one such as I. He appeared not unwilling to help me. With such an auspicious start, I approached the gathering of the magi to discuss the business of the tribunal with considerable optimism.
Once the introductions and greetings were over, I offered my thanks. Archmagus Horvath was very kind. His first thought was to enquire after Joachus, which pleased me. The archmagus spoke briefly about the difficulties that might arise from their being two motions of welcome put forward for us. I had not considered this before but could now see that this might become embarrassing and did not quite know what could be done about it. We went on to talk of the motion submitted by Fudarus and I was very glad that Horvath and several of the others standing nearby were inclined to consider us free of blame.
Archmagus Horvath spoke to me of the mundanes. He asked about our own dealings with them and said that he frequently found it beneficial to interact with them. I could see his point that we live surrounded by them and that it can be useful to trade with them to obtain things we need but could not stir up anything like his enthusiasm. One might almost have thought him a Jerbiton, to hear him. I must say, I found this a little puzzling but was careful not to say so.
We were getting on fairly well, I felt, so I took the risk of mentioning the motion put forward by Odela against Wirbelnia, indicating my general disapproval of the motion without actually promising my support to Wirbelnia. I asked about the history of the dispute only to be told that its origins are so long lost that none of the principals were now alive. So, I am no further forward in finding the cause of the feud.
Glomerulus spoke of a fiery path, which he believed was of significance. I was reminded of the fiery path that lead east from the menhir to the altar stone where we had obtained the Intellego vis in the form of iron during the spring equinox. I told Glomerulus what I could remember of this and he seemed to find it very interesting. It prompted him to talk about the Enigma and before long he wandered away muttering to himself.
It was unfortunate that, when faced with an Archmage of Tytalus, my nerve failed me. I could not but apologise for our inadvertent involvement in the competition. Had my determination been stronger, or had I been feeling more daring, I might have argued that we should be allowed to at least compete and let the Lady be the judge. As it was, I capitulated to Probus Malignis' request that I present a formal apology on behalf of Saxum Caribetum and I undertook that we would not again be present for the contest. Once away from the stern eye of the Archmage, I thought over what it was I had promised and became concerned that it might prove impossible to abide by the promise. I sought out a member of House Merinita to discuss my fears and was fortunate to find Eleusinus ex Odela with a willingness to talk. I explained to him my worry that, since time passes so differently and unpredictably in the lands ruled by the fae, we might find the contest being held any time we were in the valley, and, since the boundaries of faerie are so mutable, even striving to avoid ever setting foot in that valley might not save us. I was much relieved when he told me that my fears were probably groundless. It was at about this point that Probus Malignis passed close by and probably overheard, as he came over at once. I need not have trembled so as he at once assured us that the timing and location of the contest had been predictable in all the years Fudarus had been participating, and that provided we kept away from the valley for one month either side of the date when the last occurred, we would satisfy Fudarus.
I was grateful that Fudarus made no claim that we pay them any of the Vis we obtained in the contest, though it was a little galling when Probus Malignis dismissed what to us was a very welcome addition to our vis supply as 'trifling'. I was almost ready to argue that, if their resources were so great, they might not miss this small amount every year but thought better of it. I wish, also, that I had realised that Fudarus had failed to actually register this vis source with Objurgator. I suppose it is unlikely that I would have risked pushing that argument against them myself. However, it did give me a little satisfaction to hear them lightly reprimanded for the omission.
This was the wording that I eventually presented to the Praeco:
The magi of Saxum Caribetum offer their apologies to Covenant Fudarus for inadvertently winning the favour of the Lady of the Mists and thereby depriving Fudarus of the prize of vis.Once Probus Malignis had approved this wording, he withdrew the motion against Saxum Caribetum and I relaxed, confident that my greatest difficulty was out of the way.
Saxum Caribetum undertake to avoid that valley one month either side of the anticipated date of the contest.
I took advantage of his good mood to question Probus Malignis concerning the Auram vis source at Menez Brez that was once registered by Fudarus but had been abandoned. He looked very grave and asked about our experiences there. He warned me that it was a dangerous place. I thought he was speaking of the air elemental that had brought flood to our clearing but he said that was the least of it. He believes there is some power or force there which it beyond the power of Hermetic magic to control, possibly a curse. I thanked him very much for this warning. The information did not prevent me carrying out the intention of council to present an invitation so I presented it:
Saxum Caribetum announce that they welcome requests from other magi in the tribunal to attempt the harvesting of Auram vis from the site known as Menez Brez, now registered to Saxum Caribetum, until such time as Saxum Caribetum is strong enough to harvest for themselves. Magi must be aware that there is some danger in attempting this harvesting; anyone contacting Saxum Caribetum will be told all they know of this.
They got quite excited by the notion that, if it was fire in Spring, it might be water in Autumn. I do not know where this idea came from - perhaps they drew it from the Enigma they are so fond of. It seems to have been agreed that they will come to us at the appropriate time and take a bath. I must remember to inform our Vilicus in good time to make preparations. The visit may provide something of value and interest and will at least gain us some good will. I trust the invitation will dispose them to vote in our favour later on today.
As it got late in the day, I knew something had to be done urgently about the gratifying but embarrassing excess of motions of welcome for us so I was not reluctant when hailed by Eleusinus scholae Merinita of Odela. After some small-talk concerning his visit to us en route to the fair, he inevitably tried to enlist my support for his motion against Wirbelnia. I endeavoured to sound sympathetic without making any commitment and did my best to stick to the facts of the matter concerning the ex-Bishop of St.Brieuc as explained to me by Iuris Perita.
Eventually I was able to turn the conversation away from this difficult topic to the matter uppermost in my own mind. Odela were not averse to bidding Saxum Caribetum welcome but were unable to vote for anything that came from Wirbelnia. Thus my best hope seemed to be in trying to get Wirbelnia to withdraw their motion.
I made my escape from Eleusinus as soon as I was able to do so politely, and made haste to locate Horvath. By the time I got a chance to speak to him again, he and Gareth o Fflint had come to an arrangement to combine their motions. I had to be grateful for this, and just hoped that Odela would do no worse than abstain.
If there is anything of major significance to be discovered in our clearing, I believe it should be one of us, preferably myself of course, who makes the discovery. Could it be that there is a site of a Roman temple in the vicinity? Could that altar stone we formed the iron symbol on be a relic from it? Is it the source of the aura? With these visitors descending on us to investigate at the times when a revelation is most likely, the best we can hope for is to be directly involved in all they do.
There were a few formal announcements to commence, including the news of the departure into Final Twilight of Elaboratus scholae Criamonis ex Mummolides. I presume this is what he wanted and was just so grateful that it did not happen when he was with us. I know that the members of House Criamon consider unity with the Enigma in Final Twilight to be the goal of their lives, but one must regret the loss to the Order of his wisdom and knowledge. Myself, I would wish to postpone my own departure until I have achieved something remarkable in my researches. It was very sad to learn of the death of Individua scholae Flambonis ex Fornacula. She had come out of Iberia, like myself, and I would have liked to speak with her one day. How unhappy, to die like any mortal rather than going into Final Twilight as a maga ought! Perhaps it is not so rare for one of House Flambeau. Another member of House Criamon has left Gallia Transalpina to dwell in the cave of Twisting Shadows. Petrusca introduced two new apprentices.
Maga Corva Alba was presented early in the proceedings. This was pleasing to me, for it would be pleasant for her to be able to vote at her first tribunal and pleasant for me when, if my expectations were realised, she voted in our favour. We heard her read the Oath which she did in a firm enough voice and with a tolerable accent. I thought it a little impolite that some of the magi did not appear to be taking this important moment seriously enough.
I was a little disappointed that the Praeco seemed to treat my carefully-worded and necessary apology as if it were not only trivial but even silly. I did not dare to make any sign of protest. He was, if anything, even more mocking about the announcement concerning Menez Brez but, thankfully, it sparked off some discussion which, I believe, took the attention of those assembled away from Saxum Caribetum's present sad inadequacies.
I was glad that Fudarus made a formal request to register their vis source in the Valley of the Lady of the Mists, and even more pleased when there was murmuring against registration of a source that was subject to a contest. Discussion covered the freedom of the fae to judge a contest as they saw fit and to bestow gifts of vis where they willed, which was all most satisfactory. Odela seemed determined to stir up trouble about an issue which Fudarus, the Praeco and I all believed had been settled satisfactorily already. It even came to a vote as to whether Odela could interfere in the agreement already reached between Fudarus and Saxum Caribetum. Of course, it was swiftly defeated. I believe the claim, as finally submitted by Fudarus, was carefully worded to indicate the right of Fudarus to take part in the contest with no assumption that they would always win.
There was a lively discussion concerning a ring of invisibility and a possible breach of the Code. The resources of Saxum Caribetum being so meagre, there could be no risk that any of us, even our own Verditius magus, could be accused of manufacturing the item. I had overheard scraps of conversation around this issue during the day and was glad to have the matter set out clearly. A mundane nobleman named something-or-other Greybeard, dwelling south of Paris, was reported to have obtained such a ring and to have used it to gain an unfair advantage in battle. The issue was whether the ring had been supplied by anyone in the Order. No-one had any information to offer on this specific ring though there were reports of rings of invisibility from the antiquity which might have been re-discovered.
There were attempts by some to bring up some matter of potions and artifacts being recently available throughout southern France, and an attempt to burden the Quaesitors with a huge investigation on the basis of what seemed to be wild rumour. The Praeco, sensibly, would have none of it and limited the vote to the reported ring only. In my opinion, all that was required was to send some Bjornaer as a jackdaw to fly in a window, snatch the ring away and have it investigated by Objurgator, thereby removing the problem and providing the chance to determine its origins. However, it was not up to me to make any decision except to vote for or against the proposal that the Quaesitors be asked to investigate. I chose to vote for the motion on behalf of my sodales.
Odela's complaint against Wirbelnia was brought out for consideration. Everyone is well aware of the ongoing feud so no-one took it very seriously. There was some discussion about demons and commercial trade that got rather confusing. I deemed it best to abstain when Odela's motion came to a vote and it was defeated.
The final business of the meeting was the motion of welcome, which was skated over rather too rapidly, I felt, by a Praeco who had become wearied with the proceedings, but at least it was passed with a very satisfactory majority.
This Jean Clouard is the second assistant under bailiffe here, whatever that is. He told me that he has heard news of our growing prosperity at La Roche Caribet; perhaps he refers to our tower, or it may be that he flatters us. He went on to explain that he would be honoured to join our covenant, if we could make use of someone with his training and that he wished to bring his family with him. I was somewhat perplexed but I am so glad I had Jimena with me. She understood more than I of what the man was saying and what he was not saying, and knew more of our own requirements. She interrupted and spoke to me swiftly in Spanish, saying that he might be useful. I bade Jean wait a moment and questioned Jimena.
I could not but agree with Jimena that our Vilicus, Jehan, is getting old and, in Jimena's opinion, may at any time succumb to his present ailments or acquire others that prevent him fulfilling his duties. It makes sense to consider having someone to assist him now and to be ready to take his place eventually. I am in no doubt that it is extremely important for our work that the mundane activities and business of the covenant are in good hands. As Jimena pointed out to me, this Jean is quite young and is already training his son to do the same work so we would acquire two useful servants. She suspects that the staff at Petrusca is sufficiently large that an assistant to the bailiffe may never get a chance to hold full authority and so Jean sees our new foundation as an opportunity to find a better place for himself.
I told Jean that I had little doubt that he would be welcome, and that I would convey his request to Council and hoped he would soon get word and come to join us.
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