We started out the session by discussing the Vis economy of the convenant. In Ars Magica, Vis is an important magical resource: it is magical energy made physical. Vis is measured in 'pawns', and it is often associated with a certain technique or element. In the first session Dieter, Kaspra and Matilda were tasked with boiling down spring water -- this was to harvest 'Aquam Vis', which can be used to reinforce rituals or spells involving water.
We decided on 'Medium Vis', which means that each wizard has access to 10 pawns of Vis each year -- making it 40 pawns per year for the whole convenant. Senex and Damiaan have taken 40 pawns of Vis with them (a lot!), but their stores are dwindling -- especially since Senex insists of casting the Aegis of the Heart ritual (a protective spell for the convenant) on level 60. That is ridiculously high, making it almost impossible for enemy spellcasters to target the convenant. However, this ritual has to be done each year, and has to be powered by Vis -- at this level, 12 pawns! That's 3 pawns per mage per year! The spell is a Rego Vim ('Control Magic') spell, which means that both Rego and Vim pawns can be used. We established that Senex will have enough pawns to power the ritual at its current power level for one more year -- sooner or later, the mages will have to find a source of Rego or Vim pawns...
We also established who has what type of pawns left. And we have to create a list of Vis sources that are part of the convenant. So far, we agreed on two: the source of the river Slinke can yield four pawns of Aquam Vis, and the mistletoe that grows in the dead oak on the Marehuizen courtyard yields four pawns of Creo Vis. (This mistletoe also gave the convenant its name: mistletoe is "Maretak" in Dutch, and "-huizen" means "house(s)". A source of Creo Vis will also be the reason that Senex bought this farmstead instead of another location.)
Anyway, the session itself!
(Main) Dramatis Personae:
- Senex, most senior magician of Marehuizen;
- Damiaan, a magician from Marehuizen who suffers from leprosy;
- Johannes van Goedenbergh, a studious magician from Marehuizen;
- Dorcas, a free-spirited magician from Marehuizen;
- Rudbert von Soest, the priest of Grunloh parish;
- Baruch-ben-David, the richest merchant of Grunloh;
- Hoede Schutte, the sherrif of Grunloh;
- Christiaan van Duremar, the convenant redcap.
Senex wants to do the ritual to re-write Salle's memories, but that needs four pawns of Vis. Each of the mages contributes one pawn of Vis (of the appropriate type, either Creo or Mentem) to get this done. Senex has Gunther tell Dieter that he should take Salle and put her on a chair in the chapel with Hardger in her lap, to let him do the ritual. They tell Salle that it is some kind of welcoming ritual (which it is, in a way). Salle is a bit non-plussed, but overwhelmed by all the attention, so this goes off without a hitch.
During this time, Johannes has Christiaan draw up a work contract for Salle. It is decided that she will earn more than in Grunloh, but not so much as to raise eyebrows. Her tasks are described as 'household tasks', and she will be compensated with food and board, and a modest 'handmoney'. Johannes hopes that this can be used to defuse any concerns the people of Grunloh have about Salle's stay on the convenant. When the contract is presented to Salle, she does not think it was necessary to do this, but when Johannes insists, she 'signs' the contract.
Dieter has heard that Hardger is now cured, and that he won't fall ill again -- the last of his hesitation towards starting a new life with Salle is now gone. He arranges with the French purser to have cups of wine for all the servants at dinner, to celebrate. Salle is honoured by this, and will regard herself as married to Dieter now (as in: common law marriage). Senex speaks a few words to commemorate the occasion.
That evening, Captain Gunther comes to Johannes to complain about Kaspra. She has, once again, made herself scarce in the convenant today, and refused to fetch water when Gunter asked her to. He is concerned that she won't follow his orders when it is needed. Johannes discusses this with Dorkas (who is visibly annoyed at all this interruption), and the two agree that Kaspra will, if the need arises, follow Gunther's orders if they make sense to her. (And in the case of an attack, they undoubtedly will make sense!) Meanwhile, Gunther should not confuse Kaspra's role and standing within the convenant with that of a scullery maid...
The next day is spent by Johannes and Dorkas to prepare for the meeting in Grunloh. Dorkas wonders what the dignitaries will think of the fact that Salle is now employed at Marehuizen -- things moved fast, and will they become suspicious and think the mages are covering up something? She and Johannes also go through what the people of Grunloh might know. The mages have not announced that they are magicians. The grogs that have been sent to Grunloh (or who went to Grunloh for some R&R, like Dieter did) have been instructed to speak of "the Lords and Lady of Marehuizen" as if they're nobility. If pressed further, they should answer that they are wise men and women who devote themselves to study, like monks do. There will be all kinds of stories to fill in the gaps, and the three dignitaries will be well-read enough to know magic and magicians exist.
Dorkas is prepared to make a show of their magic -- something like having the wood of the table spout twigs or something like that. Something to show the dignitaries that magic is real power, and that the mages will not bend their knee to the demands of the people of Grunloh. Johannes likes the idea: a 'conditional threat' might work if their discussion threatens to derail.
They select Captain Gunther and Kaspra to accompany them, and Christiaan will ride with them in full regalia as their herald. Johannes wears his 'noble' clothing (we joked that every mage in House Jerbiton will get a 'dress up chest' when they graduate), and Dorkas wears a stately dress -- unexpected, since she otherwise prefers more practical clothing. The dress leaves her back bare, and leaves her scars visible. She does wear a shawl to cover the scars, but Johannes guesses that she will show them to the assembled dignitaries if they start to be too demanding of the mages -- he intends not to get to that point...
Map of Grunloh and Marehuizen
The group rides westward to Grunloh, along the Slinke. When they reach the village, the cross the bridge across the river towards the New Gate. At the gate, Christiaan asks the gatesmen where the house of Schutte (the informal city hall) is. It's just across the church, a location the mages have visited before. They enter the village, take the road south to the marketplace and then go north-east towards the church. Behind the church is a tall tree, and next to that is a stack of wood -- twice the height of a man, with ladders next to it to add more of the deadwood that's lying in piles along it. Dorkas mentions that it's the preparations for the Oisterfeuer. Most of the company think it's strange you'd want to light such a big bonfire within the village walls!
Hoede Schutte comes outside when the company announces its presence, and the horses are taken to the stables by Rafael (who delivered the letter) and another boy who looks like a fool. Christiaan, Gunther and Kaspra are taken to an ante-chamber, and Johannes and Dorkas are taken to the big room, where Rudbert the priest and Baruch the merchant are already seated. Hoede welcomes everybody, and offers something to drink to the guests -- Johannes and Dorkas both choose water, which is brought in promptly. It is clear that the three dignitaries are intimidated by the two mages' Gift -- they seem to like Johannes better, because of his Gentle Gift. This suits them well: time for some 'good cop, bad cop'!
Baruch starts with his introduction, referring to Damiaan's visit to Grunloh -- especially that Salle's parents were terrified. Johannes explains about the situation: a hysterical Salle who came to Marehuizen, crying about Hardger's disease. (When they hear this, the three nod: they have first-hand experience with Salle's "moods".) Through the conversation, Johannes mentions that their capable healer has deemed it necessary to take them back to Marehuizen for treatment. Of course the convenant regrets having caused any alarm, but we did not have the luxury of time in this case! Master Damiaan has since cured Hardger, and Salle is now employed at Marehuizen as a seamstress. This triggers something in the three gentlemen: they are pleased that a capable physician is living in Marehuizen, and they are trying to find out if the people of Grunloh can count on their help. Dorkas tells them calmly that nature must runs its course, but that those who need help will not be turned away at Marehuizen. This is to the satisfaction of the three, and much to the relief of Johannes: he was worried what Dorkas would say when he offered Marehuizen's help, since she is so fiercely independent!
Meanwhile, an older servant comes to serve drinks to Christiaan, Gunther and Kaspra. Christiaan makes some small talk, but the servant is a bit reserved in the amount of information she gives about her employer. Both of them have older children, so that's a source of conversation -- while Gunther and Kaspra make a point of staying out of the conversation. In passing, Christiaan mentions that the Lords and Lady of Marehuizen have a court physician. He gets his intended effect: the servant thinks they must be very important and powerful in order to have their own court physician!
In the main room, the conversation goes on. Now it is Rudbert's turn -- he is clearly asking for contributions for the building of a bigger church. The look he shoots Baruch and the look that Baruch returns, shows that this is a point of irritation between them. The mages have visited the church at Grunloh a few times -- but not very often. Rudbert tries to use their sporadic attendance to 'expose' them as heathens. However, Johannes counters with mentioning that Marehuizen has a private chapel and even quotes some scripture back at Rudbert... Johannes also mentions that they will support the church through the usual collections, but that he should not count on substantial contributions. Rudbert also mentions tithing, but Johannes argues that Marehuize does not 'produce' anything: they spend their time in study, and the fields of Marehuizen only exist to support them -- there is no excess that could be tithed or even traded. This ends that avenue of conversation, and Rudbert is visibly pouty the rest of the meeting.
Hoede Schutte takes this opportunity to mention the easter celebrations: he thinks it would be good for the Lords and Lady of Marehuizen to visit the church on that occasion, but he advises against attending the preceding celebration for the 'common folk'. He also mentions that his patrols have been impressed with the speed with which Marehuizen has been fortified. He would like to discuss the fortifications of Grunloh with the architect -- Salle's late husband was the master bricklayer who designed the current fortifications, but there is no-one to take it to the next level. Johannes mentions that the occupants of Marehuizen have used their powers to build the things that were needed, but that the design was made by someone more experienced with military matters. This seems to confirm the notary's suspicion that these are indeed magicians they are talking to! Johannes promises that he can spare his military advisor for a day, to advise on the fortifications.
All through the meeting, the three have been fishing for an invitation at Marehuizen: they are very curious to see what is going on there. Rudbert is rude enough to openly ask for an invitation, and Johannes promises them they will receive such -- but they need some time to prepare for such a visit.
Johannes also explicitly asks what Grunloh can do for the convenant. Sure, Marehuizen has a capable healer and can provide assistance, but what are the advantages for Marehuizen to be near Grunloh? Hoede Schutte mentions the safety of the city and the surrounding lands: attacks by bandits are at an all-time low, since the patrols of the Schutte have been intensified. Baruch mentions the excellent infrastructure, which he maintains in a large part. This makes it attractive for merchants to visit Grunloh on business. Baruch also mentions his excellent connections. Should the convenant need something... exotic, then Baruch will be pleased to use his vast commercial network all throughout the Hanze and even to Jeruzalem, to acquire any special equipment or supplies that Marehuizen needs. That pleases both Johannes and Dorkas: this might prove to be a valuable resource!
This ends the meeting, and after exchanging some more formal pleasantries, the group says their goodbyes and returns to Marehuizen.