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While Speranda was visiting Montes Plani, Redcaps brought news of the decisions of the Normandy Tribunal at Petrusca, where Joach represented Saxum Caribetum. Not long afterwards, a letter from Speculor brought news of the trading Joach had achieved while attending the meeting and a little more about the background to the decisions presented in the official summary of the proceedings.
Joach left Saxum Caribetum several days before the solstice to make sure he had plenty of time to reach Petrusca. He had to allow for his own slow walking pace, the difficulty of travelling up-river and the need to stop overnight at the Abbey of St. Maur de Glanfeuil to pour a libation, since it was on his route. This last necessitated taking a female along, and he selected Ellie for her skill with the crossbow. He selected Abel as the best person to negotiate for passage on the boats and for overnight lodgings. Since he was to be carrying a substantial quantity of vis, he took both Yves and Zacharias as guards.
Iuris Perita and Speculor supervised the gathering of vis on mid-summer day. Gwénolé arrived; I hear she enquired first for magus Constantine, who was hiding in his sanctum, and then for me, but I am sure she is still angry with me. She spent a little time talking with Speculor, probably making sure he knew how angry she is with me. I am glad I was not there and very much hope she will soon get over the loss of Seana. I am reminded to talk over this problem with Letitia. Gwénolé then went to call upon Lady Helissente, to see how Rubea was developing and to observe the lady's swelling belly. It appears that Gwénolé has heard something of Quercus' visit to Caribet for the mid-winter feast and knows this is a half-faerie child that is to be born this coming harvest time. I wonder if she thinks to take it for herself? That could be disastrous!
The small market town of Le Blanc lies on the edge of the great marsh that conceals Petrusca. Joach arrived there towards the end of an afternoon, expecting to send a couple of the grogs into town to obtain supplies while he thought about finding the way through the marsh. They found a lively fairground on the outskirts of the town, and a large pavilion pitched there, flying the flag of Petrusca. Joach approached the armed guards at the entrance to the pavilion and made himself known to them. They were expecting him and promised to provide a guide through the marsh in the morning. They made it clear that he and his entourage were very welcome to take a meal with the people from Petrusca that evening but that there was no space to put them all up over night. There was a suggestion of going to an inn in town, but Joach flourished the little cloaked gargoyle and the magic tent spread itself beside the pavilion. Pierre, one of the grogs from Petrusca, took Yves, Zacharias and Abel into town before the evening meal. There was little sign of life apart from in the immediate vicinity of the market square, where a few sellers had not yet disposed of all their produce and quite a crowd lingered around the stalls selling ale and snacks. The visitors got some very hostile looks. Abel obtained a few coins from Yves and Zacharias, and went to get some drinks but Pierre had to negotiate for the ale they wanted, since the local dialect was almost impenetrable. While drinking, they overheard mention of Lord Merriel's knights over at the fairground, which must be Petrusca's cover-story.
Next morning, Joach emerged from the tent to find two Petruscan grogs, Pierre and Aleaume, standing guard outside the pavilion in full dress uniform. This included a striking scarlet cloak, a Roman-style helmet with red plumes and a gleaming breastplate such that they might have passed for Roman centurions. They conducted Joach and his grogs to the edge of the marsh where the mist lay thick. A huge dark figure loomed out of the mist, bearing down upon them and announced itself to be Robert who would be their guide through the marsh. Throughout the long walk, as they picked their way carefully around the hundreds of pools, he entertained them with stories of the creatures who might be encountered there. It seems likely that most these were just tales built up to keep the mundanes from venturing too deep into the marsh but there were certainly many small faerie creatures making a great nuisance of themselves, swooping out of the mist at the travellers to patter and pinch at their noses, hair, hats, eyes and ears before darting away again. Joach cast a ward to protect the group from these irritants, which Robert and the others were very glad of. The walk through the marsh seemed to take nearly all day, and our people became convinced that they were being led via a circuitous route involving doubling back and retracing steps, probably just to reduce the chance of them finding their way through unguided.
On arrival at the castle that formed Petrusca's covenant, Joach was formally welcomed by the seneschal and presented with a casting token before servants conducted him to a chamber, and showed the grogs where they would be eating and sleeping. There was a note for Joach about a gathering of the visiting members of House Verditius, which he was keen to attend, and news of a number of seminars to be given by the members of the host covenant, which he was less enthusiastic about. I wish I had had the opportunity of hearing about the researches of the Petrusca magi; even had Joach attended, one would probably have made little sense of his report of the talk. I recall someone, Speculor I believe, pointing out that any seminar by Joach himself would be of interest only to House Criamon.
The grogs went to a large field not far from the castle where the Ludi Hermetici were taking place. None of the magi at Saxum Caribetum had given any thought to the traditional competition between the assembled grogs that kept them amused while the magi talked, so those who accompanied Joach had not been chosen for their sporting ability or competitive spirit. Ellie wanted to have as little as possible to do with the contest or, indeed, any of the other grogs. Abel, however, saw the opportunity to take and place a few bets, and knew that Ellie stood a fair chance of doing well if there was a crossbow archery competition. In fact, there was a very complex handicapping system, to try to make allowances for the range of abilities that results from the sort of special Talents and unusual origins exhibited by many grogs. Abel eventually persuaded Ellie to enter but she did unusually poorly and was glad to make her escape from the crowds once the ordeal was over. Yves entered a javelin-throwing competition and did quite creditably. Then Yves and Abel went to watch Zacharias participating in a wrestling match. The ground under the contestants was unexpectedly muddy, and the men where slipping and sliding about, unable to take a firm stance or get a grip on each other. The whole thing soon descended into slapstick, which caused great amusement except for those few, mainly Petrusca's own grogs, who were taking it all too seriously. The next port of call was the ale tent, where Zacharias showed his skill at glugging down the contents of a small cauldron without spilling a drop. The brothers met some of their former comrades from Mummolides there and fell into conversation.
Later in the day, while wandering round the crowded field, Yves, Zacharias and Abel were hailed by a pretty young girl - it was Séanna, she who had been apprentice to Gwénolé and now belonged to Buviniolus Bonisagi of Petrusca. She had met the Saxum Caribetum grogs when visiting with her former parens and greeted than as friends. This rather surprised our grogs, but they later worked out that she was not popular with the local grogs or with the other apprentices, who considered her much their inferior. She did not claim to lack friends, however, telling our men enthusiastically how she had many friends amongst the local fae, who she delighted in playing with. Such play seemed to consist largely of tricks and practical jokes, which probably did not go down well with the Petruscan grogs. She complained that Petrusca was boring, her parens was boring and hardly ever came out of his room, that he kept sending her on silly errands, mostly to the library, and she wasn't learning anything. She said she liked living with Gwénolé who was fun and taught her amusing things, but she knew she had no choice but to stay at Petrusca.
They found themselves close to the ale tent again, and Zacharias went in to collect drinks for them all. It seemed that some different ale was being served, one that had a rather unfortunate effect on the drinker's digestion and the aroma of excessive flatulence was strong. Thinking to have some fun, since Séanna was so fond of tricks, he ordered a large flagon of the special brew for her. She accepted it eagerly and drank deeply, then quite soon asked if she might have another flagon. Abel and Yves managed to stop Zacharias once he had fed her four flagons. Of course, she was using magic to render the ale harmless. She did, however, decide it was time for a song and taught the grogs a rude song about what magi get up to in their sancta. I suppose one must expect such coarse behaviour of some grogs, but I hope I never hear any such disrespect from our own people.
After yet more complaints about Elisabeth discipula Accanellae, said to be no fun and arrogant, Bryony discipula Astri, ex discipula Compendii Flambonis, described as self-important and dangerous, and Margaret, a singer (who Yves and Zacharias believe is the same Margaret MacErc who once lived with her brother at Plaintel), Séanna decided she had had enough of the grog games and wanted to introduce her friends the Caribet grogs to her friends the fae. Yves thought this sounded like trouble, and announced that he couldn't do anything else until he had had some food. Séanna easily accepted the change of plan and eagerly guided the group to the kitchens. There was uproar. Food, pots and platters were apparently moving about of their own accord. The servants were frantic. Séanna agreed that it looked like faerie tricks but was sure that it could not be, firstly because the Aegis always kept them out, and secondly because she could not see any fae there, and she was quite certain that, if they were there, she would see them easily.
Yves thought he ought to report the problem to Joach, who did not want to know and sent him and Abel to tell the seneschal, also suggesting that Séanna tell her parens. The seneschal's office was empty but they found him in directing operations in the Great Hall where the tables were being prepared for the magi's feast. Séanna went to speak with Jacquin the Seneschal and had trouble getting him to pay attention to her message; he said he was far too busy and, if she thought the problem was due to magic, she must tell Buviniolus. When they got close to Buviniolus' sanctum, Abel and Yves kept away from the guard by the door but Séanna ignored him, pushed the door open without knocking and dived inside. The sanctum was empty, and Buviniolus' best cloak was missing from its peg. The trio, led by Séanna, set off to find out where the magi were congregating, and soon noticed that a number were walking in the direction of the Great Hall, so they went back there.
There was a degree of pandemonium - food scattered about and flying through the air, plus minor spells being cast from all directions by annoyed magi. Abel and Yves stood well out of the way where they could observe the mess. Séanna was in the thick of it, convinced it must be faerie tricks but still utterly unable to see any fae. After a short while, things calmed down, at least, food stopped flying round the hall and the magi gathered into small groups, all gabbling away in Latin. Séanna explained afterwards that the Petruscan magi were mostly shouting orders that no-one was taking notice of, the Quaesitors were insisting that they be allowed to investigate the cause of the problem, the Flambeau were looking for the most likely culprit to incinerate, while the arch-magi felt it was their duty to deal with the problem but they could not agree on the best procedure to follow. Séanna also said that Buviniolus had told her that one of the visitors must have carelessly lost their casting token and some faerie had got hold of it.
Seeing no hope of help from the magi, Séanna, Abel and Yves returned to the kitchens, where they had left Zacharias sitting just outside the outer door, leaning against the wall with some food and ale at hand. The uproar had moved back to the kitchens and, although Séanna still could not see any faeries, she was convinced it was one or more of them. Thinking it might be possible to distract the troublemaker, Séanna, Abel and Yves sang and danced around the tables to try and get its attention, then danced outside the door, hoping it would follow, but this did no good. Another plan was clearly needed, but Yves was not happy about Séanna's plan to turn some, or even all, of the people she could see into animals, as she was sure this would amuse and distract any fae that were playing there. Yves tried to convince her that it would be as good, and less trouble, to make some flowers dance into and around the kitchen. Séanna was quite easily persuaded to try casting a spell on the bunches of herbs hanging in the kitchen, then she got carried away and made all the small utensils dance too, which caused as much confusion and upset as the problem that she was meant to be helping to solve. Séanna was taunting the fae and goading them to come out and play with her and show what they could do. Fortunately, before anything worse happened, a messenger from the turb captain dashed up to Séanna to tell her that, like any other covenant inhabitants with the Second Sight, she had been put in charge of leading a party to hunt and capture the menace. She pointed out that she had been doing just this for a while and pointed to the Saxum Caribetum grogs as her search party.
The searchers were instructed to report first to the Quartermaster, who was issuing all those involved with charms against the fae, which consisted of small bars of iron bundled with rowan twigs and wound round with red cloth. Séanna did not like the iron. While deciding where to start their hunt, screams were heard from the rooms where the female servants slept. Yves and Abel said they must rush a once to the rescue and ran off in the direction of the screaming. The screams intensified as the two men rushed into the women's quarters, and then were joined by cried of dismay as Séanna ran in. Séanna caught sight of a marsh faerie there and tried to talk to it but it dived out of a window. This gave Abel an idea, and the trio went back to the quartermaster. Abel was able to obtain several nets, normally used to catch large fish in the lakes, and a lot of iron nails and wire. The men settled down with these in the corner of a courtyard and, as quickly as they could, attached iron around the edges of the nets. Just as they finished, another small hunting party entered the courtyard and shouts and screams were heard from behind the stables, heading in the direction of the kitchens.
Carrying the weighted nets, Abel and Yves followed Séanna back to the kitchen where they found Zacharias and Ellie watching the confusion inside. There were three doors to the kitchen; Ellie, Zacharias and Yves blocked one of these each with a spread net. When Séanna called out where the marsh faerie was, Abel tried to throw his net over it. Three times he missed but his third attempt was close and sent the creature diving towards the doorway where Zacharias was standing. Although he could not see it, Zacharias managed to get his net over it, and quickly bundled up the wriggling net, trapping the faerie inside against the nails and wire. Séanna reached out and grabbed the missing casting token from the creature then, with Zacharias carrying it carefully, they went outside the covenant and some way into the marsh before releasing the faerie.
By the time they got back inside and went to the Great Hall, the magi were still in their factions, arguing. Séanna reported to her parens that she had found the faerie and thrown it out. He was cross that she had not brought it in for interrogation since they were anxious to know which visitor was so careless as to lose a casting token. When she got back to the Caribet grogs, Séanna was looking unhappy. She said that her parens did not like her and was grumpy and ungrateful and had banished her from the feast in the Hall. So, Séanna joined the grogs in the kitchens for a meal, which was hot and delicious, and served quite quickly once calm and order had been restored. Over the meal, Séanna admitted to Yves that it was her own casting token that the faerie has got hold of; since she had not been resident at Petrusca when they last cast the Aegis ritual, she had one she was meant to carry at all times.
Throughout the disturbance caused by the faerie infiltrator, Joach had kept out of the way, either in his chamber or calling on other visiting magi. His first profitable conversation was with Thomas of Jerbiton, who came knocking on his door and offered his services as a broker for any trade Joach wished to conduct. Joach was very keen to take up this offer, as it would free him to devote his attention to discussions with his fellow Verditii and agreed to the arrangement without any discussion of what it might cost. Joach explained what vis he had brought and what he wished to obtain, saying he would like just 5 or 10 pawns of each of Herbam, Mentem and Ignem. He showed Thomas the copies of Constantine's tractatus and mentioned the subjects he hoped to exchange these for. With the Jerbiton taking on the tedious business of trade, Joach went off to see his parens, Dergorus Verditii. Of course, what they spoke of was mostly not reported but Joach was introduced to Victus Diligens Verditii who had recently come to Normandy to join Objurgator. The Tribunal motions most under discussion were a complaint against Septem Montes regarding unregulated trade in magic items and another against Petrusca for restricting access to books by charging high fees.
These and other motions were brought up by most of the magi Joach encountered during his first day at Petrusca. Penelope Praeferox filia Diespitris Tremereris and princeps of Gryps Argenteus did her best to convince Joach that it was unwise to oppose his hosts in the matter of library access. Then she went on to talk about a motion of censure against the Jerbiton magi of Brugensis, who were, supposedly becoming too closely involved with the local nobility. Then she brought up the subject of the procedural motions that normally go through unopposed, including the recognition and welcoming of new magi to the tribunal, both those recently gauntleted and those who are moving into the area. Penelope was in favour of postponing this motion until the last. Those to be recognised included the former Ives discipulus Evaristonis of Fornacula, the former Alain le Barazer discipulus Alan Kerbol and the two Tremere magi who had attended our mid-winter feast and were intending to take up residence at Odela. Joach could see the advantage in preventing Odela from using those two extra votes.
Without firmly committing himself to vote one way or another, he went to find Gareth o Fflint Ex Miscellanea of Wirbelnia, who has been a good friend to Saxum Caribetum. Gareth agreed with Joach about the usefulness of delaying acceptance of the new magi and assured Joach that the newly-gauntletted magus from Wirbelnia would understand and not take offence. Then they went on to talk of Iuris Perita's reputation in the tribunal, the troubles that arose from coming to the attention of the magi at Fudarus and possible reasons for the recent transfer of Marpesius Criamonis from Odela to Mummolides. Both Gareth and Joach considered censure of Eleusinus Merinitae of Odela their primary objective, but they had to enlist more votes to be sure of the motion being passed.
Joach next went to see Pentus Verditius of Ulula Speculum. Whilst the pair were in agreement that there appeared to be a general feeling at the meeting against House Verditius, they did not agree that voting for censure of an arch mage was a good idea. next Joach ran into Urbanus Verbus Tytali who was on his way from one Bonisagus lecture to another. Since it had been agreed at the meeting at Fudarus that the Breton covenants would be united in voting against Eleusinus, Joach did not need to mention that but attempted to convince him to support the Verditii. By now it was getting late and there was still no sign of a summons to the dining hall and Joach was starting to feel quite hungry. He found Gareth again, and suggested that Wirbelnia and Saxum Caribetum should vote against any censure of Septem Montes in return for Septem Montes supporting them against Eleusinus. Gareth had also been busy talking to magi and said that Septem Montes had agreed to remain neutral on the matter of Eleusinus, but that he was sure Ulula Speculum and Brugensis would support the Breton covenants.
At last, the feast was about to begin and after that, the Tribunal proper would be held.
According to the official report brought by the Redcaps, the following motions came before the Normandy Tribunal at Petrusca:
Congratulations to the hosts, Petrusca, for dealing swiftly with a faerie menace and providing such lavish hospitality for the assembled guests.
[It is my belief that whoever proposed this motion meant it sarcastically, and I am very surprised that anyone thought to take it seriously.]
Withdrawal of voting rights from deceased magi.
[Of course, only Mummolides claims a deceased member who can still control how his sigil is cast, and such a motion must be seen as an attack on our sponsors so I am glad it was defeated.]
A serious charge against Septem Montes for trading magical items to mundanes, coupled with a lesser charge for the same fault against Ulula Speculum.
[It seems highly likely that both parties were guilty, but if voting against this was the way to gain Verditius votes in support of the motion that mattered most to Saxum Caribetum, I am sure Joach would have been only too glad of this excuse to support his parens and fellow Verditii.]
Motion of censure against the members of House Jerbiton resident at Brugensis for becoming embroiled in the affairs of the local nobility.
Motion of censure against Arch-magus Eleusinus Merinitae for restricting the ability of the magi of Wirbelnia by taking vis from sources belonging to them; also for hindering the magi of Saxum Caribetum by destroying valuable property i.e. four grogs.
Passed by a good margin.
[I gather that when it came to the vote, Joach was surprised how many abstentions there were, which gave us a comfortable win. Wirbelnia have been awarded a rook of vis and us 2 pawns per grog. Eleusinus is to select the type, so it is to be expected that he will send whatever he thinks we least desire, and in as awkward a form as he can manage. He has a year to pay it in. I very much hope he will not bring any of it himself.]
Motion of censure against Fornacula for incinerating many of the fae in the woods around their covenant.
[Fae were worth more than grogs, for a fine of ten pawns was imposed on each of four Flambeau magi. It is not clear to me whether the fine was to be paid to the Quaesitors for keeping the peace, to the Merinita magi who brought the complaint to tribunal, or to the surviving fae. I think it goes to the Tribunal.]
Recognition of new magi in the Tribunal.
[Normally this would be the first or second item on the agenda.]
What good news in Speculor's latest letter! Joach has returned from Tribunal with more than enough Ignem and Mentem vis to meet the requirements of our charter, so from the next major council meeting, we need devote just one season each year to covenant service. He also obtained a good number of pawns of Herbam vis, so we need not fear to be short for The Bountiful Feast. It cost us some Rego, Muto, Corpus and Animal vis which we will have no trouble replacing over the next couple of years from our local sources, I am sure.
He was successful in trading for books, too. Since what we were offering were all copies of tractatus written by Constantine, it is only fitting that the best book acquired is an Ignem summa. I shall look forward to reading that one myself, too. The other books Joach took back are tractatus on Artes Liberales, Philosophiae and Certamen. I am very glad to have something on Certamen, which I am sure I shall never need but think I ought to have a greater understanding of. I hope the others are of high enough quality to be worth spending my time on.
Joach has done splendidly!
Joach returned to Caribet by the same route, along the Loire and then via Rennes. As on the outward journey, they took the opportunity to pour a libation at the nympheum, sending Ellie into the regio while the courtyard was unobserved. The nymphs were quite happy though the fountain within the nympheum that can produce Aquam vis was not flowing strongly despite the monthly libations we have been offering there. I wonder whether it is still worth the risk of going so often? The Abbey is flourishing with the income from all the pilgrims. Our people were allowed one night's accommodation, which was sufficient.
Speculor tells me that he is spending this summer season on service and has been asked to stay in his laboratory once again to distil Vim vis, though he offered to go out and hunt for something we have greater need of. I am sure he is less likely to bring trouble upon himself and the covenant if he stays in his rooms. Elise has taken a summa out of the library; I do wish we had time to make copies of anything Elise wants to take away! Iuris Perita and Constantine have free time this season. Fulk is illuminating our copy of The Joy of Penetration, which is something else I am keen to read. Although Joach returned to Caribet by making good use of the boats on the Loire, he still took about two weeks for the journey and so was unable to do more as service than make a trade copy of one of the tractatus that had been so easily exchanged.
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