An ambitious young Quaesitor who is often too clever for his own good.
Characteristics: Int +3 (insightful), Per +2 (observant), Pre +1 (assertive), Com +1 (eloquent), Str -1 (bookish), Sta +1 (determined), Dex 0, Qik -1 (deliberate)
Age: 31 (31), Height: 5’9’’, Weight: 165 lbs, Gender: Male
Warping Score: 0 (2)
Confidence: 1 (3)
Virtues and Flaws: The Gift, Hermetic Magus, Hermetic Prestige, Flawless Magic (Study Totals: Doubled for spell mastery), Affinity with Intellego, Improved Characteristics, Mastered Spells, Mastered Spells, Puissant Intellego, Skilled Parens, Educated (50/50), Piercing Gaze (Intimidation: +3), Enemies (Temeritus of House Tremere), Ambitious, Proud, Deficient Technique (Perdo)
Personality Traits: Ambitious +3, Proud +1, Just +2
Reputations: Quaesitor (Hermetic) 3
1, Attack -, Defense +1, Damage—
Fist: Init: -1, Attack +1, Defense +0, Damage -1
Kick: Init: -2, Attack +1, Defense -1, Damage +2
Staff: Init: +0, Attack +5, Defense +4, Damage +1
Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), Incapacitated (16-20)
Abilities: Civil and Canon Law 2 (England), Common Law 2 (local laws), Philosophiae 2 (ceremonial magic), Latin 4 (legal terms), Artes Liberales 3 (ceremonial magic), Code of Hermes 3 (quaesitores), Finesse 2 (intellego), Magic Theory 3 (intellego), Parma Magica 2 (mentem), Penetration 2 (intellego), Magic Lore 2 (Mercurial), Concentration 3 (reading), Intrigue 2 (rumors), Leadership 1 (intimidation), Teaching 2 (law), Folk Ken 2 (magi), Guile 2 (half-truths), Area Lore 2 (politics), Awareness 2 (searching), Brawl 1 (Dodge), English 5 (legal terms), Occitan 2 (local dialect), Order of Hermes Lore 2 (history), Scribe 2 (legal texts), Great Weapon 1 (staff)
Arts: Cr 7, In 8+3, Mu 2, Pe 1, Re 7, An 1, Aq 1, Au 1, Co 5, He 1, Ig 1, Im 5, Me 5, Te 1, Vi 5
Equipment: Wizardly robes
Encumbrance: 1 (1)
Whispering Winds (InAu 15) +14, Mastery 1 (quiet casting)
Whispers Through the Black Gate (InCo(Me) 15) +18, Mastery 1 (quiet casting)
Aura of Ennobled Presence (MuIm 10) +9, Mastery 1 (quiet casting)
Summoning the Distant Image (InIm 25) +20, Mastery 3 (magic resistance, acute sense, penetration)
Wizard’s Sidestep (ReIm 10) +14, Mastery 1 (fast casting)
Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie (InMe 20) +20, Mastery 3 (penetration, magic resistance, multiple casting)
Posing the Silent Question (InMe 20) +20, Mastery 3 (quiet casting × 2, still casting)
Trust Me (ReMe 20) +16, Mastery 3 (quiet casting, multiple casting, still casting)
Bitter Taste of Betrayal (InVi 15) +18, Mastery 1 (quiet casting)
The Apprentice of Septimus Guernicus
Alfred Pelham did not like this place. The towers of Nigrisaxa loomed, unnaturally tall and dark, over himself and his father under the cloudy English sky. The men at arms accompanying them seemed pitifully small and few in number against the power which had raised those monoliths of stone. An equal number of tower guards stood at the ready, but they seemed an inconsequential formality next to the lone magus who confronted Alfred’s father.
Alfred looked back and forth between them anxiously. His father, Edward Pelham, was one of His Majesty’s circuit judges, travelling across England to dispense common law in the King’s name. Now, the nearby townsfolk had accused one of Nigrisaxa’s covenfolk of murder, and they had come to retrieve him for trial. Edward would rather not have brought his strange son along on this errand, but there was nothing else to be done with the boy.
Alfred had been a strange child all his life, with a habit of putting people off, and being too smart for his own good. Still, Edward had high hopes for him, and got the boy into an excellent Cathedral school back home in London. The other boys had taken a strong dislike of him, and his teachers found him difficult. Alfred got high marks on his lessons, but his father had to pay the instructors extra to put up with him until he finished.
Alfred was glad to be out of Cathedral school – he had hated it there. He anticipated at least a year, perhaps more, travelling with his father and learning about his work before his own law studies began. As it happened, Edward convinced a teacher at Cambridge to accept Alfred when he turned 14, so after another year, he would be off to school again, this time on his own. Up to now, he had greatly enjoyed their travels, and kept that far-off day in the back of his mind. Now, Alfred wished he was already at Cambridge, or better yet, back home in London.
Edward Pelham, weather-beaten and stern, regarded the mage coldly. He didn’t trust him, or any one else in this…place. He spoke with a voice accustomed to authority. “This man, Maelthorn, stands accused of breaking the King’s law, and he will face the King’s justice. I am not leaving without him, Septimus Guernicus.”
The mage, an older man with a face lined from long years of study, nodded politely. “I have no wish to quarrel with the Crown, of course, Mr. Pelham. But it is customary for my Order to police its own.” Noticing Alfred’s piercing gaze, he turned to the younger man at Edward’s side, and switched to Latin. “What does your son think, I wonder?”
Alfred spoke up before his father could stop him. He replied in passable Latin. “I think you should obey the King’s law when you’re on English soil, Sir.”
“And if we claim exemption, under the laws of our Order?” The argument was preposterous – he was obviously baiting Alfred now, just to test him.
Alfred didn’t hesitate for a moment. “Then I would say to you, Sir, keep the villain. And when word spreads that here is a refuge from the King’s law, Nigrisaxa will be swamped with outlaws and miscreants from across the Kingdom. Good luck to you after that, Sir.”
“That sounds more like a threat than a legal argument, boy.”
“On the contrary, sir. I merely point out that submitting to the King’s law is in your own best interest. And that societies with laws flourish, while those without founder.”
Septimus turned back to Alfred’s father. “Have you given any thought to this young man’s training? He’s quite Gifted.”
Alfred answered for his father. “I’ll be at Cambridge next year.” Despite his misgivings, he was proud to be admitted to such a prestigious school.
Both the older men rounded on him. Edward said sharply, “That’s enough, Alfred. You’ve said enough, now.” Septimus simply admonished him for talking out of turn.
Then the old mage turned towards his guardsmen. “Bring him down.” Turning back to Edward he went on. “I’ve already questioned him. He is guilty.” After that, Septimus ignored the proceedings, watching Alfred all the while as the prisoner was brought outside and handed over to Edward Pelham’s men. Alfred was glad to be out of his sight. He and his father never spoke of the incident again.
Cambridge was everything Alfred expected it to be – just like the old cathedral school, only worse. His studies were challenging enough, but not overwhelming. The instructors thought him insufferable, and the other students found him disagreeable. It didn’t help that most of them were considerably older than him. He spent a good deal of time running and hiding from them, not always successfully.
One evening, three of them had him cornered in an alley, and Alfred had resigned himself to another beating, when a cloaked figure appeared behind his tormentors. Suddenly their faces changed, and they looked at Alfred in abject fear, then turned and ran. Alfred stood in stunned silence as the figure approached him, then removed its hood. Septimus smiled and said, “Later, they’ll vividly recall giving you a sound thrashing, I assure you.”
“What are you doing here, Septimus?” Alfred didn’t like this at all. The old man made him uneasy. It didn’t occur to Alfred that this was much the same way people reacted to himself.
“I came to make you an offer, young sir. If things don’t go well here…” he looked over his shoulder in the direction Alfred’s class-mates had run off, “you are more than welcome to study at Nigrisaxa.” He pressed a strange token into Alfred’s hand. “Do not lose this. Give it to the guard at the front gate and ask for me. Do not leave without speaking to me in person, you understand?”
Alfred couldn’t believe his ears! Study at Nigrisaxa…why? He looked up at Septimus defiantly. “I’m going to finish school here, thank you very much. Now I must be on my way.”
“Very well.” Septimus let the boy go. He’d been watching him for quite a while, and he knew which of Alfred’s teachers would be easiest to influence….
Vindicatus, Quaesitor of House Guernicus
Alfred found being apprenticed to Septimus was quite demanding, but Semptimus never mysteriously turned on him the way his teachers at Cambridge did. Alfred had come to the gate of Nigrisaxa one dark night not long after their encounter in the alley, having been sent away from Cambridge and unable to return home. Septimus had patiently explained to him what it meant to have The Gift; that Alfred would never truly ‘fit it’ among mundanes, and he really belonged in the Order. Having nowhere else to go, Alfred willingly, if not gladly, became Septimus’ apprentice.
It didn’t take long for Alfred to piece together what really happened, once he knew what Septimus was capable of. His parens’ reaction astonished Alfred; he was proud! “You’d never be much of a Quaesitor if you couldn’t figure out that much, my boy! Now, if you think I’ve done you wrong, you can bring it to the Tribunal, once you’ve finished your apprenticeship.” It was a test; Alfred studied the Code as it applied to apprentices, and discovered magi had a rather free hand in how they acquired (and treated!) apprentices. Septimus was relatively benign, and Alfred’s first 15 years in the Order could have been much worse.
Septimus was, however, a perfectionist, and insisted that Alfred master every spell he learned. He also pushed Alfred to learn far more than just the basics of Hermetic magic and the Code of Hermes—in his opinion, a Quaesitor should be not only a skilled magus, but an excellent legal scholar as well. Fortunately, Alfred’s education prior to joining the Order gave him a strong foundation to build on. However, by the standards of mundane law, Alfred found the Code of Hermes to be primitive in theory and brutal in application. He determined that his ‘magnum opus’ would be a new code, a more ‘civil’ Hermetic Law for the Order. Septimus explained to him that no one would take such ideas seriously. “When I am an Arch-Magus, and Primus of House Guernicus, perhaps they will.”
Alfred spent the final year of his apprenticeship studying at Magvillus, completing his gauntlett there. At that time he took the Hermetic name of Vindicatus, received the title of Quaesitor in Good Standing, and volunteered for his first assignment, in the Normandy Tribunal. He gathered evidence that a lone magus at Chateau de Commarque had been heavily involved in a feud between noble families, in flagrant violation of the Code. Due to Vindicatus’ junior status, the offending magus was not Marched from the Order, but simply evicted from Commarque and ordered to leave behind his library and other possessions.
The Normandy Tribunal then approved a new Covenant on the site, consisting of several newly gauntletted magi. Most of them are from the Stonehenge Tribunal, like Vindicatus. He is now in his 31st year, and has spent the year since his gauntlett learning to speak French, familiarizing himself with politics around Commarque, and improving his parma magica in case Commarque’s previous magus returns.