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Up to and during the Feast, conversation was fairly light and rather trivial except where matters of Magic were discussed. In particular I enjoyed a brief analysis of the application of Rego Auram with Dergorus and Jovinus (the latter agreed with me on the importance of delicate control) in carrying a Magus through the air, in contrast to Rene's preference for flight as a bird with the use of Rego Auram to provide only some assistance to speed and conservation of effort. But then the serious negotiations began. I will give a Report of events as they appeared to me, with no promise that they are in any way full and accurate as much of the discussion was conducted in secret.
Rene approached me early in the proceedings with a straight-forward proposal which seemed fair: he proposed to lend the necessary 14 pawns of Vis and Conjure us a Tower. In return we would pay back the 14 pawns plus an additional 6, as a fee for the Casting and Interest on the loan, over a period of some 4 to 5 years. He did not desire to place us under any more onerous or complex obligation. Rene has been a great help in the matter of our Library, for which I thanked him; he told me that copying of the more obscure Books was to begin in the next Season. I see no reason to doubt him or Taurus Candidus though I do wonder quite why he is so supportive of Saskia. Aversus attempted to find out more on this for me by questioning Pratus Viridis, who was present at Saskia's questioning at Objurgator, but was unsuccessful.
Pratus Viridis came to me with a proposal that Objurgator be allowed the honour of creating our Tower. No immediate repayment was demanded for the Vis cost or the Casting but Objurgator would wish to call on our Support in an unspecified way at an unspecified time, perhaps in the matter of a Vote in Tribunal. I dislike a vague contract of this nature but one has to trust the Quæsitores.
Dergorus of House Verditius was more direct in his proposal. Les Sept Puys would lend us the 14 pawns of Vis to be repaid at some time in the future, possibly never, but they would request our support in Tribunal in matters where our interests coincided with theirs, and probably conflicted with the wishes of Petrusca. As Dergorus is aware, we have powerful and close neighbours here from the Mundane world and the Dominion which a vote under instruction from Petrusca might cause us to anger. Seeing this at once to be a potentially attractive option, I took the opportunity to ask if Les Sept Puys might be able to assist us in the equipping of our laboratories. Dergorus was happy to assist us in trade to obtain specialised items, which inclined me further towards his side. Also he was very understanding when I asked if he would mind limiting the number of Gargoyles on the Tower, should it fall to him to perform the Ritual. He was well aware of Joach's weakness in this regard and even referred to it as a residue of his pre-Apprenticeship days which rather shocked me.
I was left alone for some time after this discussion, turning over in my mind what options were open to us, and wondering what the others were talking about, for I had seen the senior Magi wandering to the fringes of the Glade and into the Forest itself in twos and threes. I suspected that Saskia was out there in the forest too, in some Shape and hoped she might accidentally overhear some of their talk (of course, it would be against the Code to do it deliberately, but who could say for certain that it was not an accident if she did hear something?). I decided that the layout of the inside of the Tower could be as we had agreed but I think that for now I will keep the few Books we have in my own room rather than in the room designated for the Library. They will be safer with me and nearer the Scriptorium.
Jovinus approached me some time later. I was glad to have learnt from Speculor that Petrusca were now looking with more favour on our Covenant, and had been glad when Speculor announced his decision to leave Petrusca and join us. Without this information I would have expected Jovinus to be a Problem. As it was, he was most helpful. Petrusca consider the 14 pawns of Vis required for the Tower a trivial amount which they would be happy to donate to help two Bonisagi and a Covenant of the Tribunal in Magical study. They would be happy to donate Vis whether they cast the Tower themselves or if one of the others performed the Ritual. This opened up a happy possibility of co-operation where we could accept some form of Service from more than one of our potential Benefactors. Jovinus proposed Objurgator as the Covenant that might best create the Tower using Vis from Petrusca. Much to my surprise, no mention was made of any debt for favours in future; I was expecting such a Political Covenant to demand such. Emboldened by Jovinus' friendliness, I took a risk of attempting to play Petrusca against Les Sept Puys, knowing there to be rivalry between the two. Perhaps it was wrong for a young Maga in a delicate position but I hoped they might respect me for making the effort. I mentioned that Dergorus had offered assistance in the equipping of our Laboratories and enquired if perhaps a large, rich Covenant like Petrusca might have a surplus of basic equipment that they could afford to donate. I was delighted when he readily agreed that they could do this for us. He asked only that we support and further the Order, which I can readily promise that we will do to the best of our ability.
Discussion amongst the Senior Magi continued. Dergorus and Rene told me that they had come to an agreement where they provided half the Vis each so we would have to repay but 10 pawns to Taurus Candidus within 4 years and the remaining 10 to Les Sept Puys at some future date if we could afford it. This seemed satisfactory to me. It was hard to decide which proposal to prefer; the other Magi of La Roche Caribet put forward their views but each was necessarily entirely in favour of whatever their Parens said. Aversus helped me review the possibilities. He thought Rene politically somewhat naive; he found Pratus Viridis entirely unforthcoming on the matter of Saskia; he doubted that Petrusca was as altruistic as Jovinus appeared and felt sure they would demand a Favour in return at some point. I did learn from Iuris Perita that a Favour once called on would count as repayment even if a Covenant called on us to Vote one way as our Favour to them on exactly the same decision where another Covenant to which we were in Debt requested we vote the other way; thus we discharge our Debt to both by abstaining. Pratus Viridis assured me that were we in Debt to Objurgator they would never bid us Vote against our own Interests.
Unexpectedly, while discussions were still in progress, a Magus strode into our Covenant, uninvited. It was Urbanus Verbus of House Tytalus from Fudarus who, on hearing that there were several Parens visiting but not mine, offered to advise me - I was instantly distrustful for how could he know that I might be in need of advice? It can not have been coincidence that he came now. I was convinced he had simply come to spread Discord amongst us. I handed him over to our Vilicus who provided food while I hastily informed the other Magi of his arrival. Pratus Viridis warned me not to trust him and hinted that he was suspected of being a Diabolist. Aversus was also very distrustful of Urbanus.
Expecting that Urbanus was here to stir up enmity between us all, I swiftly called together Aversus, Rene and Dergorus to try and reach agreement before Urbanus could spoil things. We agreed that Rene would cast the Spell using Vis provided by Dergorus. Three pawns of Vis would be owed by La Roche Caribet to Taurus Candidus for the Casting and would be repaid within the next 2 years or so; a small fee and almost insignificant but I agreed with Rene that it was necessary for it to be seen that we had a debt and repaid it. Les Sept Puys would assist us in the trade necessary to obtain the specialist equipment we needed for the laboratories and we would owe them 14 pawns of Vis but there would be no time limit on when this might be repaid. There was concern that Petrusca and Objurgator would feel slighted or worse at being excluded from this hasty agreement. Aversus went to ask Pratus Viridis to join us and to suggest to Jovinus that, in compensation for rejecting their offer, La Roche Caribet would give Petrusca first refusal on any books they produced during their first 2 years of copying. While waiting for the Qaesitor to arrive, Dergorus told me that he had heard from Urbanus that not only did he know of the Menhir and the Regio but also of the ghost we had met in the Glade when we first arrived. Pratus Viridis was somewhat put out that he had been excluded from the deal which we were about to strike with Rene and Dergorus but I explained our need of haste now that Urbanus had arrived and that Objurgator would be crucially involved as the Witnesses of the deal and to handle any possible future dispute over repayment of the Vis debt. Meanwhile, Rene and Dergorus agreed to divide the cost of recasting equally between them, and at no cost to us, should the first attempt at casting the Ritual fail.
I was speaking to the other Magi of La Roche Caribet to gather an emergency Council session to propose the deal when Urbanus said he had to speak to me immediately on a matter of great importance and urgency. I went with him, out of earshot of the others and, to my horror, learnt from him that he had in his possession a fragment of our Menhir. He claimed that by having it, an Arcane connection to the Menhir and the ground from which our Tower was to be raised, he could spoil the casting and damage our Aura. He showed me the fragment of stone and the place from which it had been removed and I had to admit it was genuine. He threatened that unless I would agree that La Roche Caribet should owe him and possibly Fudarus too, a large Favour of unspecified nature in future, he would retain the Fragment to our detriment. I begged time to consult with the other Magi of La Roche Caribet, which he permitted.
Jovinus has rejected the offer concerning books, and was anxious to be seen to be involved in the deal to provide us with a Tower, offering to donate the Vis freely so that we would not be in any Vis debt to anyone. I consulted with Dergorus, the most expert of those present on Terram, and he said that what Urbanus said about the harm that could be done to us with that fragment was true. I passed this on to the other Magi, senior and junior. It was my belief that the Tytalus mage was probably more interested in how much strife and conflict he could stir up than any Favour he could demand of us. Dergorus proposed to try and negotiate with Urbanus to obtain the stone for himself, perhaps being able then to trade it to us in the future when we could afford it, and meanwhile hold it against the 14 pawns we would perhaps owe them for the Tower should we reject Petrusca's donation.
The young Magi were left for some time worrying about the very difficult situation we were now in while the Visiting Magi plotted in small groups and large. It appeared that Dergorus and Jovinus spent long periods talking alone with Urbanus, as if both were out to obtain the fragment for themselves. I wished Saskia would spy upon them but Iuris reminded me of the Code. I was keen to try and relieve Urbanus of the fragment by simple sleight of hand or other trivial Mundane trickery, which I hoped he would not expect. However, this might have meant having to involve one of the Grogs who was skilled at such things which did not seem appropriate.
Eventually, the visiting Magi returned to the pavilion with a proposal. Rene, Jovinus and Dergorus would share the Vis cost of casting the Tower and the purchase of the stone fragment. La Roche Caribet would owe Vis for the Tower, 5 pawns to each of these three without a time limit. In repaying, it will be preferred that we repay equally to each until all is repaid. Objurgator would keep the stone fragment and at some point in the future we might be able to purchase it from them at 36 pawns of Vis, which is what they had been obliged to pay for it.
The Council of La Roche Caribet met and agreed to incur this Vis debt. Dergorus ruled that it was necessary for the fragment to be removed from the vicinity before the Ritual to Conjure the Tower commenced so Pratus Viridis left. I instructed Jehan to arrange for a messenger to leave at once to inform Lady Marta that we were about to start construction of a tower. Rene performed the ritual and we had a Tower. Speculor was able to provide comfortable furnishings within immediately so we were able to invite our Guests to spend the first night within our Tower.
There was some further conversation that evening over the events of the day. Les Sept Puys and Taurus Candidus are most annoyed with Urbanus that he interfered just as they were about to reach a good deal with us. Dergorus assured us that the fragment now in the care of Objurgator was the only chip that had been removed from the Menhir, much to my relief. Les Sept Puys were unimpressed with Petrusca's negotiating ability, it seems, though I am happy that both Covenants are willing to honour the agreement to assist us with equipping our laboratories. The stone fragment apparently contained 10 pawns of Vis though Jovinus had learnt that this fluctuated with the seasons. Dergorus is very keen to stay here with us some time to study the Menhir itself. The fear is that Petrusca would perhaps have studied the fragment to destruction, damaging our Covenant by so doing. It is safer with Objurgator.
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