Quaerentes in Extremis
Eckhart Hildebrand of Tytalus
He is most interested in discovery of new and powerful magic, not studying what was already known, but by setting forth into the darkest places where none had dared to adventure before.
Eckhart Hildebrand of House Tytalus
Covenant: Quaerentes in Extremis
Saga: Loch Leglean
*Characteristic*s: Int +3 (Cunning), Per +2, Pre 3 (Edgy), Com +1 (Rhetorical), Str +1 (Athletic), Sta +2 (Trained), Dex +1, Qik +1
Age: 30 (30), Height: 5’8’’, Weight: 160 lbs, Gender: Male
Warping Score: 0 (0)
Confidence: 2 (5)
Virtues and Flaws:
The Gift, True Friend (Familiar) (Bonus +3 to appropriate Personality Traits), Major Magical Focus (Entropy Perdo), Puissant Perdo, Book Learner (Book Quality: +3), Strong Willed (Will Rolls: +3), Life Boost, Hermetic Magus, Improved Characteristics, Self Confident (Confidence: +1), Blatant Gift (Interactions: 6 with normals), Overconfident, Weird Magic (Botches on Stressed Casting: Extra botch die), Beloved Rival (??)
Personality Traits: Reckless +3, Loyal (Familiar) +3, Overconfident +3, Cunning +2, Trusting 2
Dodge: Init: )
Abilities: German 5 (Cursing), Magic Theory 3 (inventing spells) (8), Athletics 2 (grace), Awareness 2 (alertness), Brawl 2 (Fist), Concentration 1 (spell concentration), Guile 1 (elaborate lies), Intrigue 2 (plotting), Great Weapon 3 (Sword, Great), Artes Liberales 1 (rhetoric), Latin 4 (hermetic usage), Folk Ken 1 (peasants), Finesse 1 (Corpus), English 3 (slang), Philosophiae 1 (natural philosophy), Parma Magica 1 (Corpus), Penetration 2 (Perdo), Magic Lore 2 (magical traditions)
Arts: Cr 2, In 3, Mu 2, Pe 11+3, Re 3, An 1, Aq 5, Au 0, Co 8, He 1, Ig 1, Im 2, Me 1, Te 3, Vi 4
Equipment: Sword, Great Magic (Initiative: +3; Attack: +10; Defense: +7; Damage: +10; Strength: +1; Ability: Great Weapon; Cost: Expensive; Creator: Eckhart Hildebrand of House Tytalus; Created: Spring 1224; Vis Capacity: 15; Total Pawns Invested: 3; Total Effect Level: 25; Effect Name: Grip of the Choking Hand; Effect Level: 25; Effect Details: R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Ind, Frequency: 1/day, Concentration; Arts: PeCo 20; Design: Base 10, +1 Conc, +1 Touch; Talisman); Wizardly Robes
Encumbrance: 1 (2)
Dust to Dust (PeCo 15) +24
The Wound that Weeps (PeCo 15) +24
Invocation of Weariness (PeCo 20) +24
Demon’s Eternal Oblivion (PeVi 25) +20
Curse of the Leprous Flesh (PeCo 25) +24
Grip of the Choking Hand (PeCo 25) +24
Parching Wind (PeAq 20) +21
Ozymandayis the Adder
Characteristics: Int 0, Per 0, Pre 0, Com 0, Str 8, Sta +2, Dex +2, Qik +3
Magic Might: 10
Cord Scores: Gold +1, Silver +1, Bronze +2
Familiar Powers: Poisonous Bite (Points: 1; Initiative: 0; Form: Animal; Once bitten the poison consumes the bones and body. Ease Factor 6 with a Light Wound.); Stealth 3 (Ambush); Guile 2 (Persuading)
Abilities: Bite (Initiative: +5; Attack: +4; Defense: +5; Damage: 8); Fight 1 (Bite); Awareness 2 (Keeping Watch); English 3; German 5; Irish 5; Latin 4; Magic Theory 1
A hermetic familiar is a magical animal bound with a magus. This is a voluntary bond on the part of both the magus and the animal. Though the bond brings benefits and powers to both magus and familiar, it involves a much deeper connection. Except for possibly a spouse, a familiar by its nature becomes the closest companion a magus will ever have.
Magi are connected to their familiars by the Golden Cord, which involves magical abilities; by the Silver Cord, that connects minds; and by the Bronze Cord, which connects bodies.
The Golden Cord: Subtract the golden cord score from the number of botch rolls you would normally make (though you must always roll at least one).
The Silver Cord: Applies silver cord score as a bonus to all rolls that involve Personality Traits, to natural resistance rolls against mental magic, and to rolls to protect you from a natural mental influence like intimidation or verbal trickery.
The Bronze Cord: You can apply your bronze cord score as a bonus to Soak totals, to healing rolls, to rolls to withstand deprivation (such as to holding your breath or resisting sleepiness), and to rolls to resist aging. Not fatigue.
Eckhart was raised in a poor farming village in the Bavarian countryside. He lived with his pater and mater and siblings on a small farm where his parents harshly worked the children from sunrise to sunset. For as long as Eckhart could remember, life was suffering. He would till the earth under his father’s cold gaze and fight with his siblings for the few scraps their parents would give them. Eckhart loathed this treatment and wished someday for escape – he knew not where, but anywhere would be better than here. This was not what life was for.
He remembered the look of constant fear and hunger on his brothers and sisters, but as much as he loved them and shared in their pity he still knew he was alone. If opportunity rose they would turn on him in an instant, and he would turn on them likewise as fast. They were, all of them, survivors. The children were not allowed out often and news rarely came to the village. Though the flow of information was slow and restricted, word had still spread of roving war bands of a foreign people slowly creeping across the land. Some days his mater would gather all the children inside and shut all the doors and windows very tight. Everyone would sit on the floor in the kitchen and be very quiet and very still. There would be a loud clatter outside that would last for hours. There was a thunder of hooves, as if a whole host was marching through the quaint hamlet.
Then one day, during one of these “family gatherings,” it happened. The family was gathered together on the kitchen floor, and amidst the thundering hooves and metallic clanks outside there came a knocking at the door. Eckhart’s pater and mater pensively looked at each other and did nothing. The knocking intensified and in a crash the door swung open, revealing several men in chainmail peering inside with crossbows at the ready. One drew a sword, shouted something in a language Eckhart couldn’t understand, and soldiers flooded into the room. His parents screamed to run away. Eckhart was the first to the back door – throwing it open and running outside. Everywhere he looked were more men in chainmail, waving banners, riding horses, but all with their attention occupied. He ran into the crowd, darting in and out between peoples’ legs so quickly it was impossible to keep track of him. He looked back and saw his parents and siblings scrambling away as well, some having been grabbed by the soldiers. That was the last he saw of any of them. Terrified and confused, Eckhart just kept running. He ran out of town and kept running until it was dark. He had never left his hamlet before and knew nothing of the outside world. One thing was certain though – he wasn’t going back.
Eckhart wandered for what seemed like an eternity. He couldn’t read the signposts along the road, so he just always went the way that seemed the most traveled, stealing food and sleeping in ditches until finally he arrived at a large city. The people there spoke the language of the soldiers he had escaped, which he quickly learned to be English. Begging in the town square and city gates, Eckhart quickly picked up enough English to get along. By eavesdropping on travellers reading the signposts, he even learned to read a few words – which is how he came to understand that the big building in the town square he begged in front of was called an “orphanage,” and he could go there and get food and shelter.
At first Eckhart had trouble fitting in with the other children – he had been raised as a slave then escaped as a vagrant – his social skills were not the greatest, even among orphan standards. Still, he quickly caught on to the things the other children liked, and what they did not like, and was able to mirror their behavior well enough to get along. Given time, he was even seen as popular, a “gang leader” of the little group. He learned when to act kind, when to act cruel, and above all when to let his actions be seen or not. This was the first time Eckhart learned the trick to being loved is to be a mirror in which people only what they want to, a skill that would grow to serve him well.
Through the months he stayed at the orphanage, Eckhart noticed an old man, fat and hideous, who would come to inspect the children every few months. The man would inspect the children’s heads, looking for bumps in certain areas of the skull. He would also ask them strange questions, riddles that seemingly had no answer, and would write their responses down in a small scroll kept in his pocket.
Knowing adoptions were few and far between, Eckhart was forward in presenting and promoting himself to what he hoped could prove to be a useful benefactor, as well as his only ticket of getting off the streets. The old man was impressed by Eckhart’s clever tongue and forthrightness. He felt Eckhart’s skull and said he had bumps in all the right places. Calling himself Hornsworth, the old man adopted Eckhart and placed him in a personal boarding school on his own country estate. The school was filled with other “promising youths” Hornsworth had selected from various other English orphanages. While Eckhart was here, he was schooled in Latin, athletics, and the artes liberales. He was also given instruction to perfect his English. Eckhart played the same games with the other students that he did to earn respect with the children at the orphanage, but found them much less fun. Eckhart lost interest in winning the hearts of his classmates and instead spent time alone studying and reading to distract himself. He found the books Hornsworth gave the children to be a cathartic escape, and he quickly developed an obsessive love for learning. His single-mindedness, coupled with an aggressive and competitive nature, made him quickly excel far past his classmates. Soon Hornsworth was giving Eckhart personal lessons when the Gift started to surface.
Eckhart did not understanding the strange changes he was going through. Hornsworth had observed the Gift, and explained to Eckhart the nature of magic and how the Gift would affect him. He also revealed that he himself was actually a magus of the Order of Hermes, and had been combing in secret for promising pupils. He explained everything about the Order of Hermes to Eckhart, about how he was of the House Tytalus, and about why he had to be so systematic in searching for pupils because of the “unique proclivities” required of a Tytalus magus. After watching Eckhart’s progress for a time further, Hornsworth was satisfied and invited Eckhart to be his apprentice.
The years were long under the Tytalus apprenticeship. Eckhart’s tutelage took place in a different wing of the same manor, out of sight of the mundane orphans. There were four others under Hornsworth’s scholarly care, all of which shared the same small room with Eckhart. Hornsworth had always presented at least a veneer of warmth before, but now he was intense and mysterious in his ways. A cold fire always quietly seethed within Hornsworth now; it intensified the air until his mere presence felt oppressive and maddening. His lessons were a mix of academic rigor, intellectual creativity, and always a dash of absurdity. His wise anecdotes seemed at the same time to be words of warning about life and cloaked threats hiding in themselves. Lessons were assigned that bore no relation to the tests. Promises were made and never kept. Every word of communication was laced with subtle expression and backhanded wordplay – between the lines was the only place worth reading.
Punishments for failing to meet the obfuscated or unspoken demands were intense and absurd. Food was rarely given, but instead hidden for the students to try to find – failure of course resulted in hunger. Failing to read lessons that were not assigned lost you bed privileges for a week. Failing to compliment the teacher on random and unannounced “compliment days” resulted in 10 hours of standing in the basement in silence (giving compliments on non-compliment days carried the same punishment). Hornsworth was overly fond of using magic to temporarily rob the students of their faculties if they were not using them well – a day without taste for not chewing food properly, a day without hearing for improper speech, and so on.
The purpose was not just to learn, but to immerse wholly into the language of the incomprehensible, and see with clarity where there are only shadows. All the students developed deep hatred for Hornsworth and he fanned the flame of their defiance until their resolve was iron. His cruel scrutiny grew also into them, and their behavior towards each other was almost as intense as his treatment to them. Minor failings were magnified by the quiet smirks of the other classmates. Victories on tests and in magical duels were savored through cruelty and dominance. The bonds forged between classmates were strange but powerful – like sharks agreed to swim together, though still always out for blood.
Months upon months of torture, deceit, and slavish monotony erased what the students used to be, and from this liminal twilight Hornsworth was able to construct true magi of Tytalus. The days has compounded together and passed like a haze, the individual acts of each moment indistinguishable and unremembered. The passage of time faded into a blurry stream of days and nights. Weeks compounded into months; months compounded into years and passed before Eckhart’s eyes like water down a stream.
The time had finally come. Eckhart knew his gauntlet was on the horizon, and though he knew not what it would be, counted down the days until his initiation into the order, coupled with his freedom from apprenticeship. He grew pensive in the days leading up to it – nobody had mentioned a thing, even though everyone knew each other’s future gauntlet day better than their own birthday. The night before he could not sleep because of the anticipation. He paced about all day with a sinking feeling in his stomach, wondering what would be asked of him, and cursing the torture of making him wait. To his surprise and confusion – there was nothing. The day came and passed without event and without mention. Again he could not sleep, this time because he half-expected Hornsworth to whisk him away in his sleep to have to fight for his life; but alas, nothing.
The next day Eckhart furiously stormed into Hornsworth’s office and demanded to know about his gauntlet. Hornsworth nonchalantly told him that he was not ready. The ensuing argument lasted several hours and could be heard throughout the entire manor.
Finally, Hornsworth conceded, and agreed to give Eckhart his gauntlet. Eckhart was enthralled by a mix of terror and elation. Hornsworth then asked three words: “are you ready?” Before Eckhart could finish uttering his “yes,” he felt the world sink around him. The floor had dug itself out beneath his feet, and before he could process what was going on Eckhart was so far underground he could barely see the dot of light far above him that was Hornsworth’s office. An echoed voice called down, “If you want to be my peer, then you must beat me in a game of which we both play an equal part. The stakes are your life – as they always are in the real world. So let us see, can you destroy faster than I can create?”
As these final words echoed down, Eckhart felt a drop of cool liquid plop on his forehead. This drop was followed by more drops, and then a stream, and then a torrent of water hailed down upon him. Only seconds had passed and the water was up to his knees. He tried to move, but the water was much heavier than it should have been. So this was the final test? To drown in a hole? Hornsworth knew Eckhart could not move earth well enough to get himself out – the game was rigged, and death the only option. Eckhart despaired – but his resolve built of fifteen years of grueling Tytalus apprenticeship would not die like a helpless fool. In that moment he determined to die of his heart giving before he would drown like a rat. He was up to his chest in water when he spoke the words and struggled to move his hands for as much Perdo Aquam as he could muster. Eckhart eradicated water as fast as he could, but the rate at which he could destroy it did not overtake how quickly it filled the space around him. Still, he pushed on, putting his everything into destroying water fast enough to keep his face in the air. Fighting harder than he ever had before, he could feel that he had reached equilibrium with Hornsworth’s Creo Aquam – though the water was still pouring down, Eckhart’s face stayed above the surface. This stalemate of Creo and Perdo continued for what seemed like hours – Eckhart had lost all strength minutes in and was now only propelled by animal instinct to survive. He could barely spare the attention to notice, but as the battle raged on the water level seemed to recede – maybe an inch for every hour of effort? But still, inch by inch it lowered, and continued to lower, until a great light overtook the top of Eckhart’s pit. He noticed the ground beneath him was lifting upwards, and he found he was standing back in Hornsworth’s office – drenched, but alive.
Hornsworth was standing in front of his desk, seemingly unfettered by the experience. He held in one hand a closed scroll and in the other a seal with Greek letters on it. “Eckhart Hildebrand,” he spoke, “Even as the House rained upon you, it also lifted you up. As stone sharpens stone, people sharpen people, and you may grow strength from your competition with your Tytalan brothers and sisters. You descended into the depths of the void as a fool, and you arise now as a true magus of House Tytalus. The old anecdote is that you must swim if you do not wish to sink, but in reality life rarely affords you a chance to swim and so neither did I. You acted as a true magus would and dried an ocean before acquiescing to drown in it. When faced with an absurd world, you have shown that you will bend it to your will rather than suffer the indifference of nature. There are always masters and slaves, always oppressors and victims, and you have shown the wisdom to know that these roles may be reversed, but never changed, and that you have the power to wield them in your favor. I present you with a seal signifying your Greek name as an official magus of House Tytalus, and welcome you as a brother to the Order of Hermes.” They embraced, in what was perhaps the only moment of genuine fellowship Eckhart had ever experienced. He then immediately passed out from exhaustion.
After recovering from his gauntlet and making plans as to what he should next do with his life, Eckhart found he was most interested in discovery of new and powerful magic – not by spending a lifetime in a lab refining what was already known, but by setting forth into the darkest places where none had dared to adventure before. He felt great and powerful discoveries lay hidden in the form of old magic, strange creatures, and unknown realms. He felt that it was his duty, being clever and ambitious, to seek out these mysteries hiding where none else dare tread, and shift the world of magical study into a new age through his findings. He gathered a small but necessary troupe and set out to explore the world through other hermetic covenants, seeking out undiscovered deep mysteries of magic waiting to be found.