Summer 1221. [Scene]
GM introduces players to the mundane every day life of the covenant. For Zotikos, Zeuxis, and Castalia, particularly, this place is very different – it’s extremely rural, there’s no market, no main street, no city nearby. Getting out of the covenant means taking a walk in the woods. They find they notice more about the people who do their mundane tasks for them than they would in a busier place (because there’s little else to notice). There’s a lot of covenfolk with piety for the covenant’s patron as well.
The High Council calls a meeting to discuss among themselves what will become the order for requesting books, vis, etc. They decide on an order (for the junior magi) relating to age…Zeuxis – age 27 (slightly older), Zotikos – age 27, Asiza – age 23, Alexis – age 22, Castalia – age 21.
[Side Notes: Clarifying Castalia’s history: when “the incident” happened in her childhood, she, her brother, and pater were away from covenant when it happened. She was very young, eight or nine, the brother Sebastian was six (1209).]
Autumn 1221 [Aging]:
Zeuxis: Rego book
Zotikos: Intelligo book
Alexis: Animal book
Castalia: Mentem book
In midseason, a grog comes to Castalia and tells her Klyses invites her to tea. So she goes. They chatter a bit. The Klyses hits her with:
“We need to talk a little bit about your…indiscretion.”
Klyses explains what he is talking about took place a while ago now, but in the interests of helping her, he wants to inform her of her mistakes. “Your brother, when your new covenant mates inquired as to what happened to him, you volunteered more information than you needed to. Now do you understand?”
He continues. “There was no need to bring up ‘Flambeau.’” He says he doesn’t know the specifics on why she needs to be cautious…but he has his instincts. His advice: ask your sodales to refrain from furthering the mistake by keeping it to themselves. “Asking this will tip your hand…figure out how much you trust them first, and care needs to be taken in how you broach it.” Then he says, “Anything you want to ask of me?”
Yes, there is…she says, “How did you know? How much do you know?”
“I know he’s your brother, I know the circumstances of his keeping at your old covenant were particular, and that he was burned. I now know you have a history with a Flambeau. Is that Flambeau looking for the boy? This information might be very valuable to the wrong people. I don’t like the fact there could be people out there with leverage over my covenantmate. I don’t want to have to take care of anything.
“Don’t take this as a threat. …Since you haven’t yet asked, I’ll volunteer to keep this to myself.”
Winter 1221 [Aging]
Zotikos – Mentem book
Asiza – ??
Alexis – Animal book
Castalia – Corpus book
Zeuxis – Creo book
Winter Solstice – Aegis of the Hearth is cast with everyone present.
Spring 1222 [Vis]
Zeuxis: Re, Au, Aq
Zotikos: In, Vi, Vi
Alexis: Cr, He, Te
Castalia: Co, Re, Te
Asiza – ??
Alexis – Creo book
Castalia – Rego book
Zeuxis – Auram book
Zotikos – Mentem book
Near the end of spring, while everyone is wrapping up their season of studying, a grog comes and finds Zotikos. There is a message from Smyrna for him. He sees the seal – it’s his pater.
He opens it – after greetings from his pater, it says, "I write to you of an opportunity.
“Our ship, on its way to a quest for our covenant, stopped at the island of Dalsisa to take on provisions. It is a small place, only notable because of one small mountain and a small fishing village. The locals spoke of a wizard that lives at the volcanic mountain, but has not been seen in years. No records exist of a Hermetic mage who lives there (it could be a hedge mage). If he is no longer alive or living there, anything he left behind might be treasure for the acquiring.
“I’m worried my Mercere colleague will spread the news about this opportunity, and others will seek this wizard’s home to discover if there is any useful items to be had before we have time to look. We would ask for 6 out any 10 pawns of vis you find, but items or other things you might salvage are all yours. Our launch ship, Arrow, will await you and your message in Smyrna.”
Zotikos gets a Int – Faerie Lore roll of 13 to remember information that might be useful. Result: there’s lots of little islands like this around, and vaguely he remembers an old story about how Hephaestus lost his forge and travelled around the Mediterranean creating new ones to serve him.
Zotikos is intrigued, but doesn’t want to do this alone. He goes to see Klyses, and tells him about the letter. “I got a letter from my pater,” he tells the senior magus.
Klyses says, “I know.” And as further explanation: “His seal is not unknown to me.” GM rolls a 1 and 9 (18+) to conceal Klyses’ current state of mind and motives from Zotikos.
They discuss the idea of going on an adventure to seek out this island, and who to bring. “The guy who likes to blow things up!” Zotikos exclaims. Klyses asks for some time to talk to the high council. “I’ll go pack,” says Zotikos.
Rumors go rampant around the covenant – about Zotikos’ letter, the fact that he is eagerly and quickly packing, and that someone mentioned an adventure. (One grog goes around saying Zotikos is running away.) Zeuxis, smelling action, goes to find Klyses, and overhears him talking to Nyssa.
“I think it’s the thing that I was expecting to come up, but I didn’t expect it to come up this early,” says Klyses.
“So you’re going to go, then.”
“If I go, there’ll be sailors and sailors talk. Others who might be paying attention might notice. I think we have to send the young ones. But it can’t be Zotikos alone, because it might be more dangerous than they think. You need to convince those who are uninterested to go with him.”
As the senior mages wrap up their supposedly-private conversation, Kyses says (apropos of nothing), “Oh, come in Zeuxis.” The young Flambeau slips through the door.
“Can I be of service?” asks Zeuxis.
Discussion happens with Klyses about the rumors. Notable quotes: “Right now it’s Zotikos’ call, but I’m sure some advice wouldn’t be remiss…” from Klyses.
“I was getting bored reading the Auram book! I know I requested it but…” – Zeuxis
And at the end from Klyses: “Can you ask Castalia to come here?” Zeuxis says sure.
Zeuxis knocks on Castalia’s door. “Castie?” he asks. “Have you heard the news? Zoti is going on an adventure! I think he’s going to invite all of us. …He might not know it yet.” and after more chatter and information exchange, he says, “You need to go see Klyses.”
Klyses to Castalia when she arrives at his rooms asks if Zeuxis filled her in, then says: “You’re going.” He explains it’s because of Zeuxis – “If there’s a Hermetic mage there, he has rights. You’re there for legal safety.”
Later, Zeuxis finds and speaks to Alexis: “Did you hear? Zoti’s leaving!” She replies, “Yeah, a grog told me he was running away!” Zeuxis sets her straight.
Alexis and Zeuxis knock on Zotikos’ door. Through the door (to an apparently bustling Zotikos inside): “We came to help you”. “We heard the news, and have come to help you as covenantmates. And you’re more than a covenantmate, you’re like a little brother. There are dangers out there, and I want to flame-broil them for you.” Eventually, they badger Zotikos into letting them in.
Zotikos measures Zeuxis to see if he is big enough to hide behind. “With me there you won’t have to hide, they will.” More banter, involving a toothbrush…don’t ask. They make plans to go to Smyrna.
Castalia goes to see Klyses, to make sure her brother will be taken care of.
Zeuxis goes to see Klyses. “I think you’ll be pleased to know, I’ve rounded up everyone for the adventure. I’d like to take two grogs, ones that are good with mundanes we’ll encounter…” but asks Klyses’ advice. “I think we’ll be leaving in about…now.”
The journey is assembled, the wagon loaded, they make good time to Smyrna. Now that they are underway, Zeuxis asks, where are we going?
To answer, Zotikos creates a phantasm head with a spontaneous spell (with no gestures or sound) of his pater so the floating head can read them the letter. (Yeah you read that right.) Everyone catches a temporary alcoholic buzz from Zotikos’ sigil, as a floating head of an old man, vaguely familiar to the party, reads the whole letter to them.
They get to Smyrna and check in with their chapter house (and the socially-able grog they want to take with them). They find the ship, Arrow, where the sailors recognize Zotikos. Zeuxis rolled a 21 Perception-Folk Ken to watch how the sailors handle Zotikos’ quirky fae-blood craziness…with that high roll, Zeuxis notices: Zotikos is a manic depressive (right now in a manic phase), that talking to him is like talking to an immature (even for a teen) teenager. Sometimes he’s on task, and when he’s focused he can do a lot. Under stress, he shuts down (Zeuxis remembers back to the initiation).
The five of them begin their voyage, and it takes a few hours to get to the island. They reach the island and the fishing village. The covenant (well really the social grog, Silas) offers coin for space to stay in. The group sets up in an equipment shack.
Silas goes around the village and finds someone to talk to the mages. This man, Nikos, is a village elder and has lived here all his life.
Zeuxis: “I would like to know what you know of the wizard that used to live on the mountain.”
The old man replies, “There’s always been a wizard in the hill. But we haven’t seen him in a long time.” He says his grandfather used to talk about many wizards who used to live there, before Nikos was born, and the village traded with them. “The only wizard I ever knew was this raven-haired person who would be seen near the top of the mountain. He would occasionally come and take the boat we held here for him. He was a very dangerous person.”
Nikos has no idea of this wizard’s name. No one from the village is brave enough to find out if he is still up there. “Some people say there was a story of a time when he was insulted, around 15-20 years ago…ships burned.” Cautionary tales were told to village children about this wizard, he concludes.
“You may go,” says Zeuxis – and Silas, after thanking the old man for his time, in lieu of such from Zeuxis – suggests (meekly-ish) that they send Alexis up the mountain tonight as a wolf to scout out the area, and leave to investigate as a group in the morning.
They take his advice, and Alexis sneaks out of the village, changing into a wolf before she leaves (unadvised but she makes her Stealth roll). As she travels up the mountain, she realizes that on the island, there isn’t a lot of large prey, nothing bigger than a squirrel.
Looking around, her second sight shows there is a minor illusion covering a man-made (though rather rough) cave opening. She starts towards it. She doesn’t smell any humans – which means none have been here, at least in a long time. From inside, she gets the hint that the cave might go deep, and down, because she smells sulfur, so she surmises that the volcano is active somewhere deep inside. She heads in a little bit, and sees old footprints. The cave is dry (as in not dripping) and a little steamy. And she sees a place for a torch, with no torch in it. She also realizes this cave was made large – as in, for more than a few people.
She keeps going further, and eventually she sees architecture. A hall, carved, and regular walls. It leads to a staircase that might go down. She senses the stairs curve downward. She heads back to the village, slips in, and tries to go to sleep..
Meanwhile, the rest of the party realizes that sleeping next to a nightmare sufferer like Zotikos is not as fun as advertised. In the morning, Zeuxis and Alexis are sleep-deprived, but the rest did all right.Once morning comes, Alexis explains what she found to the rest of the party. After much debate about whether to bring the grogs, they head out to see the cave for themselves. Christian the Cook comes with them.
It takes about an hour to make the ascent. They easily move through the illusion. The sunlight now filtering into the opening reveal a flatish floor, where they could all five walk easily abreast – or bring a cart. Once inside, while gathering at the top of those stairs where Alexis stopped the previous night, Castalia hears a sound in the stillness, that might be a rock-on-rock thump, coming from down the stairs. Like something big just shifted.
Alexis asks: “What’s big heavy and rocky?”
“Rock,” says Castalia. While they are talking, Zotikos casts a spell and disappears. Zeuxis casts his Lamp Without Flame. The ceiling is rough-hewn, and torches in the walls. They descend, and the stair twists down and around. They can see doors along the way opening off the stair. The place is big enough, they think, to hold hundreds.
They go down, and one of the doors seems to hold an obvious sigil. Wolf-Alexis smells absolutely no humans. They discuss law for a bit (well, Castalia does), determining what the various scenarios are like – if the mage who owns this lab isn’t dead, but you thought he was, how big could the consequences of going in actually be? but eventually Zeuxis says, “Let’s go in.” He tries the door. From down further into the cave, they hear a low rumble. He says, “We might have triggered a guardian.” But he goes in anyway. The air is stale, and he casts Chamber of Spring Breezes (and auto-succeeds) to get rid of the bad air.
It’s obviously a lab, with books, a workbench, etc. Alexis goes to check out the books, particularly an open one lying on the desk…and before she can try to read it, Zeuxis says “Alexis, maybe you should stay at the door, in case the guardian comes.” So Zeuxis checks out the book.
It turns out to be a lab text from Linneaus of Flambeau, and Zeuxis recognizes the name. He was a mage who had a bad reputation in the tribunal, and who disappeared some time back.
Castalia (who definitely recognizes the name of that Flambeau as well!) and Zeuxis notice (with Int – Magic Theory) that this lab is strange. It’s almost like this lab isn’t quite functional…it’s disjointed…it’s like there are some items missing. It hits Zeuxis; this isn’t originally a Flambeau lab – but one a Flambeau moved into.
End of session – tune in for next time, when the Rocks That Thump may be revealed!