The Covenant of Amurgsval

The covenant of Amurgsval rests in a small valley, hidden up the river Tisita in the foothills where the Transylvanian Alps join the Carpathians. The valley is perhaps two miles long and half a mile wide, and supports a population of about 300 in all. The covenant is a ramshackle fortress in the midst of this, taking up as much space as is possible in a standard Aegis of the Hearth without burning extra vis on space; it has a number of towers, some of which have acquired a peculiar cast due to the automatic magic of the wizard Gambrinus. The stone of the covenant is a few shades darker than most local castles, and the bats flying around the towers are actually in the grip of one of Gambrinus' magical bat traps that experienced Redcaps will point out are slowly collecting Vim vis for the magi.

The entire valley has, in the past few decades, become a magical regio of +7. The area below is a patchwork of faerie aura ranging from +4 to +6 over a consistent magical +5; after the covenant found itself in a regio after Samhain 1209, local shamans, shapeshifters, and faeries quickly moved in to take up residence "downstairs" (as the Amurgsvalians call it). The place is quite hard to find, partly due to the confusing nature of the faerie forest outside (where the trees never seem to be the same size twice-- they appear to change age when your back is turned) and partly due to the Shrouded Glen spell cloaking the valley with a penetration total somewhere in the 14th rank. The regio itself has some peculiararities, including the fact that Year spells go by Beltane and Samhain rather than Midsummer and Midwinter.

While there is a smithy that deals in iron up in the castle, the peasants below live with bronze, in order to be more friendly to the Good Neighbors in the surrounding expanse of faerie forest and, more recently, their downstairs neighbors. The peasants have been breeding in a strong magical aura for over a century, and have acquired many unusual traits; the presence of local faeries and other mystic beings at the annual fertility festival on Beltane has only exacerbated this. Many of the peasants sport horns, or animal eyes, or leaves for hair, or claws for fingernails. These oddities have even become regarded as badges of status among the peasants by the new generation born in the regio, and a Magical Air will actually serve a person as a mild Curse of Venus in Amurgsval. (These peculiar aesthetics actually make it difficult to find grogs who can be taken into the outside world, even when cloaked by illusions, according to Felis Umbrosus; the grogs consider a world with a magic aura less than +3 to be quite dull, and their prizing of bizarreties can lead to unusual altercations in the mundane world.) Certainly, there are few enough places in Mythic Europe where small girls regard vultures as "cute!"

The magi of Amurgsval are quite unusual for the Order of Hermes. Almost all of them have some experience with Enigmatic Wisdom (partially due to proselytization by Corylus, who sees Enigmatic Wisdom as a skill that all magi should possess); in addition to this, the magi are used to cooperation in ventures of research and enchantment. (Corylus has instituted an addendum to the rules of sanctum-marking, allowing any magus to create a list of wizards allowed entry to a sanctum without forfeiting their right to continued life, and most magi in Amurgsval have most other magi on the list of those permitted within their sancti.)

Due to the covenant's extremely good library!, the young magi have become quite powerful for wizards of their age; fortunately for the rest of the world, they seem more interested in their own researches rather than troubling the rest of the world. (There was a period of time in autumn of 1221 when an apparent Moon-duration Auram magic appeared over western Transylvania, causing the weather to shift to "nice day" with a penetration total somewhere over 300, but the magi of Amurgsval claim it impossible to do again. And then there was the time they managed to humiliate House Tremere by causing an aspect of the Celtic Goddess of War to show up with the Master of the Wild Hunt and demand reparations for depredations against the faeries, but Felis Umbrosus claims extenuating circumstances...)

Politically, the covenant has been quiet for decades; the original founders gave up on turning up to Tribunal when they found how the Tremere had the Tribunal basically in their pockets. The young magi, led by Corylus, recently emerged on the scene for the Tribunal of 1227 with an astonishing number of sigils (twenty), made alliances with Tremere factions to get themselves a seat at the Grand Tribunal of 1228, and maneuvered their way into changing Tribunals to be a member of Novgorod (whose border they were already quite near). Most of the Order is now watching to see how the Tremere respond to their new enemy, and many members of House Tytalus are acclaiming the magi of Amurgsval as some of the most worthy challengers in the Order in the past century, and a few have nominated Felis Umbrosus (who brought the threat of the Wild Hunt down on the heads of the Tremere) as worthy of testing for admission to the House. (The Amurgsvalians claim this impressive number of sigils was mostly luck and they are planning to spin off a daughter covenant soon to alleviate their overcrowding.) Now the the Amurgsvalians have the admittance to Novgorod they desired-- bought from Novgorod at a price, evident at the Grand Tribunal of 1228, of voting as Novgorod dictated-- they claim to be uninterested in politicking now that they are no longer trapped inside a Tribunal controlled by certámen addicts. Many Tytali and political Bonisagi have their eyes on Corylus of Criamon, however, in expectation of more feats. Some more cautious individuals point to the affair of Pugilis Obscuratus and watch most warily.