Societas Guernici: Scholae Petrae, Students of the Stone

“Three score years and ten – a little more with longevity potions.” – Guernicus the Founder, 767 AD, when asked the lifespan of the newly-formed Order of Hermes

Although Guernicus is mainly remembered for his role in structuring the Peripheral Code and the formation of the Quaesitores and never actively encouraged his apprentices to pursue earth magic, his two youngest filii, Petrobolos and Adamantius, established a Mystery Cult dedicated to preserving their master’s Mercurian earth magic heritage and in particular his aptitude with stone and, to a lesser extent, metals. This group, which became known as the Scholae Petrae, draws on the remnants of rituals once dedicated to the Roman goddess of the earth, Tellus Mater, and has links to the Cult of Mercury.

Although initially consisting of only the two “brothers” and their apprentices, the cult soon accepted similar-minded magi from other Houses, particularly Bonisagus Terram specialists, some of the more alchemically-inclined magical Merceres, a few Nature-oriented Merinita magi from the Line of Muj and a small tradition of jewellers and gemsmiths within House Verditius. Later in the Order’s history several non-Hermetic exotic lineages from House Ex Miscellanea were invited into the Scholae Petrae, although the Guernicus magi retain the most influence and the leader is always a Guernicus magus. To date the leadership of this small cult has always been awarded to a senior magus of the Petroboline lineage, who is thereby accorded a special seat on the inner council of Magvillus. The most active members remain Guernicus Terrae-magi of the Petroboline and Adamantine lineages (see the subsequent articles).

Petrobolos died prematurely in 819 from a failed Longevity Ritual, leaving the leadership of the Scholae Petrae cult open to his two Terrae-magi filii and his five apprentices. His successor was his youngest apprentice, Petropomps, who was also a hoplite and shared his pater’s love of throwing large amounts of rock around. He even defeated his master’s “brother” and co-founder of the cult, Adamantius, a hoplite-quaesitor known as “the Iron Quaesitor.” This event began a tradition of intense rivalry between the two lineages that sometimes creates division within the wider cult. Many Scholae Petrae manifest a vague distrust of magi who devote their energies to the mastery of metals, and as a result metalworkers and smiths are relatively under-represented in its ranks.

Although rather small, the cult has persisted, in part supported by both overt and concealed patronage by House Guernicus. House Guernicus particularly values hoplites drawn from the Scholae’s members, viewing them as more dependable and subtle than the many volatile members of House Flambeau and House Tytalus who seek their sponsorship. Openly the cult professes to preserve the Terrae-magic of its founders, to endure through any adversity, to teach unique Terram spells related to stone and metal and to support original research into the Art of Terram. Many suspect that it has a hidden agenda or purpose, however, rumoured to be somehow linked to the long-range plans of the Quaesitores (see “The Sleeping Army” Story Seed, below).

Requirements

All Scholae Petrae Guernicus magi should take Puissant Terram for their free Virtue instead of Hermetic Prestige; they should also take the Driven (promote earth magic) Story Flaw. In addition, they must have a Spell Mastery score of at least 3 in one Terram spell. Terram magi from other Houses are sometimes invited to join the cult if they make the appropriate Sacrifice, successfully undertake the first Ordeal and can be initiated into its Mysteries, but they cannot rise to the leadership of the cult. Most will have other Virtues and Flaws to reflect their focus on Earth magic, usually a Major or Minor Magical Focus dealing with earth, metal, glass, gems or stone. The mystae’s path through the rigid heirarchy to the senior ranks of the cult is slow and requires that the aspirant demonstrate resilience, endurance and patience – all qualities of the unyielding stone that is the focus of their magic.

Notable Magi of the Scholae Petrae

  • Petrobolos: Founder of the cult with his younger brother Adamantius
  • Petrographos: Original hierarch of the Inner Mysteries of the cult, the first Mystagogue
  • Petrina Muj, ex Merinita: An apprentice of Myanar who refused to follow Quendalon and helped her rival Petrographos incept the early Mysteries of the cult as a refuge for her master’s Nature magic
  • Petropomps: Second leader of the cult and fifth apprentice of Petrobolos
  • Leontinus: A Jewish Ex-Miscellanea Terrae-magus of the 9th century, renowned for his obsession with creating golem-like automata out of earth and his discovery of the Summon Animental initiation script in the course of his research
  • Vitrus: The Magister of Glass, a famed Verditius sculptor of the 11th century

Mysteries of the Scholae Petrae

Petrographos, the third pupil of Petrobolos, incepted the cult’s Mysteries. Obtaining the Mystery of Nature Lore with the help of his wife and Beloved Enemy, Petrina Muj, an early Merinitan maga who refused to follow Quendalon’s new Faerie vision for the House, he learned to combine the Terrae magic of Guernicus and the ancient rituals of the Nabatean builders of Petra, communing with the weakened Nature Spirit of the ancent city. By agreeing to reinforce the spirit with his own life force and in turn become the Guardian of Petra, he opened the way to learning the secrets of geomantia to the cult, thereby providing a glimpse into the future for the Quaesitores of House Guernicus.

All of the following Mysteries require a mystagogue with a reasonably high score in the cult’s Organisation Lore: Scholae Petrae Lore. This acts similarly to the various (House) Lores of the House Mystery Cults (see HoH: MC, pages 4-5 and TMRE page 11). In addition, many of the Inner Mysteries require a minimum score in the cult’s Outer Mystery, Mountain Lore, which only the senior cult magi can learn to any great proficiency through access to former heirarchs and sacred texts. All Initiation Script Ease Factors given are of base difficulty and do not account for Ordeals undergone in earlier Initiations.

Only the ancient spirit of the first hierarch, Petrographos, is believed to have achieved Initiation Totals high enough to initiate members into the cult’s Major Inner Mysteries. The cult is highly conservative amd tradition-bound – senior members will not even consider the creation of new Initiation Scripts and view attempts at self-initiation as heresy punishable by expulsion and Wizard War.

Most of the cult’s mysteries require access to the ruins of Petra, where Petrographos developed the following Initiation Scripts by fusing Mercurian and Nabatean magical practices. Most House Guernicus Scholae Petrae, particularly those of the Petroboline lineage, have been traditionally initiated at the covenant of Urbs Rubra in Petra until comparatively recently, when the site had to be abandoned. This has greatly hampered the initiation of new cultists, but a Guernicus Terrae-magus from the Petroboline lineage begins the game already initiated into the Outer Mystery of the cult’s mysteries, having been initiated by their master during their apprenticeship. Other magi are initiated when they join the cult, although the requirements are usually too difficult for journeyman magi.

Outer Mystery Inner Mysteries (Minor) Inner Mysteries (Major)
Mountain Lore Deft Terram
Enduring Magic
Summon Animental (Earth)
Wilding
Guardian of Nature
Geomantia

It is believed that the cult, as the guardians of Guernicus’ pre-Hermetic earth magic, also holds the secret to the location of “The Thief’s Tomb.” This is where Guernicus imprisoned his master’s murderer (see HoH: TL, pages 36-37) and may possess several secret Mercurian grimoires. The Tomb is believed to house a long lost tome that contains five of the original 38 spells of the Cult of Mercury codified by Plentarch; the other spells and tomes are said to be hidden within similar cysts in the earth. Unlike the majority of Guernicus magi, elder magi of the cult have been known to acquire the Mercurian Magic Virtue, often balanced with the Study Requirement Flaw. This is believed to be gained through a separate House Guernicus Initiation Script attributed to Fenicil himself and written down in a little known tome stored within the library of Magvillus.

An elder Guernicus magus of the Scholae Petrae who has been initiated into at least three of the Minor Inner Mysteries or the Major Inner Mystery of Geomantia may be taught the Sleep of Tellus ritual (see Story Seed below) by his elder brethren and granted access to the location of the entrance to the rumoured Sleeping Army in the bedrock far beneath Magvillus.

Outer Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Mountain Lore

  • Ease Factor: 15 (Minor Virtue known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +9
  • Script Details: The initiate must acquire a Mountain Lore score of 1 through at least one season’s direct tutelage under the Mystagogue (+3); demonstrate a Spell Mastery score of at least 3 in a new Terram spell that they have invented (+3); and vow to preserve the secrets of the cult and obey its hierarch (Vow Flaw, +3).

Minor Inner Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Deft Terram

  • Ease Factor: 15 (Minor Virtue known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +7
  • Script Details: The initiate spends at least a season improving their Mountain Lore by 1 or to a score of 3 (whichever is higher), part of which must be through direct instruction from their Mystagogue (+1); the initiate must dwell within the ruins of Petra at the covenant of Urbs Rubra during the time of the Nabatean New Year (+3); and undergoes an Ordeal of being trapped motionless deep beneath tightly packed earth for a full night, gaining the Minor Hermetic Flaw Necessary Condition (in contact with soil, rock, gemstone or metal) (+3) and the Minor General Flaw Dispassionate (+3). See GotF, page 40, for details of the Dispassionate Flaw.

Minor Inner Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Enduring Magic

  • Ease Factor: 15 (Minor Virtue known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +10
  • Script Details: The initiate spends a season improving their Mountain Lore by 1 or to a score of 3 (whichever is higher), part of which must be through direct instruction from their Mystagogue (+1); the initiate must dwell within the ruins of Petra at the covenant of Urbs Rubra (+3) at the time of the Winter solstice; and undergoes an Ordeal of being trapped beneath the earth in an lightless, enclosed cyst for a week, gaining the Minor Hermetic Flaw Slow Caster (+3) and the Minor General Flaw Poor Eyesight (+3).

Minor Inner Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Summon Animental (Earth)

  • Ease Factor: 15 (Minor Virtue known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +13
  • Script Details: The initiate spends a season improving their Mountain Lore by 1 or to a score of 3 (whichever is higher), part of which must be through direct instruction from their Mystagogue (+1); they also attune themselves to the minor elementals of the earth at the expense of their proficiency with Creo and Muto in the other three elements, e.g. CrAq, CrAu, CrIg and MuAq, MuAu, MuIg (Incompatible Arts x 4, +12).This is the only Inner Mystery that does not require the mystae to be initiated in a particular locale. More conservative Guernicus members of the Scholae Petrae refuse to learn this Mystery or to allow their apprentices to initiate into its secrets, considering its later introduction by Leontinus highly suspect of being an attempt subvert the cult’s traditional practices.

New Virtue: Summon Animental

Hermetic, Minor

This Virtue allows the magus to bring out magical properties of everyday things, transforming inanimate objects into living beings and producing magical creatures at will. These temporary magical beings are similar to the animae of the Major Arcadian Mystery Animae Magic (HoH: MC, pages 92 and 94-95) but are in fact temporary elementals, or animentals, aligned to the Magic rather than the Faerie realm. Magi with this Virtue can only create minor elementals of the following forms: Aquam, Auram, Ignem and Terram.

Minor Inner Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Wilding

  • Ease Factor: 15 (Minor Virtue known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +10
  • Script Details: The initiate spends a season improving their Mountain Lore by 1 or to a score of 3 (whichever is higher), part of which must be through direct instruction from their Mystagogue (+1); the initiate must dwell within the ruins of Petra at the Covenant of Urbs Rubra during the time of the Spring equinox (+3); and undergoes an Ordeal of being trapped partly encased in stone half way up the cliff of the Siq for three nights during which they are alternately baked by the sun, torn by the wind and drenched by the overflow of storm waters, resulting in the Minor Hermetic Flaw Difficult Spontaneous Magic (+3) and the Minor General Flaw Arthritis (+3).

A Scholae Petrae magus who has successfully been initiated into any two of these Minor Inner Mysteries (and therefore has a Mountain Lore score of at least 4) may also be taught the Lesser Earth Ritual Calling a Son of Tellus (see the Fenicil’s Rituals section of the “House Guernicus” chapter of HoH: TL, pages 76-77, for details on learning and casting these non-Hermetic rituals).

Calling a Son of Tellus

Technique and Form: ReVi(Te)
Range: Voice
Duration: Sun
Target: Individual
Lesser, Non-Hermetic Ritual
Ease Factor: 15

This non-Hermetic ritual summons an earth elemental with Magic Might of 45. The summoned elemental is not under the ritual leader’s control, but if summoned by a magus with a Mountain Lore score of at least 5 in the area where they initially learned this Outer Mystery (or at least 8, if in an unfamiliar area), it is not immediately hostile. Attempts to control the elemental using Rego magic or the Goetic Art of Commanding will provoke it to attack or flee at once. Like a daemonic spirit, it can only be bargained with. This spell must be cast in the presence of a sufficient quantity of raw earth, stone, rock or metal or the elemental will have nothing to form its body from.

Only two texts detailing this ritual are known to exist; the original is kept within Fenicil’s Library in Magvillus, but a copy was magically carved by Petrographos ex Guernicus into the back wall of what will become known as the Khazneh in the city of Petra as a Great Work and is equivalent to an authority, i.e. a Summa of Quality 20, Level 10. The ritual can otherwise only be learned from a senior member of the Scholae Petrae.

Major Inner Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Guardian of Nature

  • Ease Factor: 21 (Major Virtue known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +12
  • Script Details: The initiate must Quest to seek out the elusive spirit of the first hierarch of the cult, Petrographos of Guernicus, within one of the regiones of Petra (+3), having first gained a Mountain Lore score of at least 8 (or 5 if they learned their Mountain Lore ability in the ruins of Petra) so as to be able to converse fluently with the Nature Spirit in the area and gain its respect (+3); the magus must then agree to swear to serve the cult hierarch unquestioningly even if doing so would break the Code of Hermes, thereby converting their previous Vow Flaw into an Oath of Fealty (+6).

Major Inner Mystery of the Scholae Petrae: Geomantia

  • Ease Factor: 30 (Major Virtue not known to the Mystagogue)
  • Script Bonus: +21
  • Script Details: The mystae must spend a full year with the current hierarch of the cult within the ruins of Petra at the covenant of Urbs Rubra (+3) in a Quest to help them decipher one of the magical Nabatean geomantia Great Works of the city (+3). During the Ordeal, the initiate becomes more and more dependent on the bare stone of their surroundings, seeing it as the whole of their existence and relying on it as a source of their magical power, gaining the Major Hermetic Flaw Restriction (out of contact with bare stone) at the end of the year (+9) and renouncing all other magical aids, resulting in the loss of both their talisman and their familiar (+6). If the magus does not have a talisman and/or a familiar, replace this part of the script with alternatives providing a +3 or +6 bonus as appropriate.Geomantia uses rules similar to those for Divination given in the “Ars Notoria” chapter of RoP: D, page 100, but can only be learned by first reading one of the Great Works on geomantia carved and coloured into the stone of the wadi of Petra by the ancient Nabateans at the site of the covenant of Urbs Rubra. The magus uses their score in Mountain Lore in place of Ars Notoria in the Divination formula.

Story Seed: The Sleeping Army

Author’s Note: Special thanks to David Woods, the original author of the “House Guernicus” section of Houses of Hermes: True Lineages, for letting me use this section cut from his original draft.

Since its inception, House Guernicus has been using the Sleep of Tellus ritual (see below) on senior magi a decade or so before they expect to succumb to Final Twilight. For a Hermetic magus, age is power. A typical House will only have a fraction of its membership more than 90 years post-apprenticeship. This is not the case for House Guernicus; all Guernicus magi who approach the end of mortal existence study and master magic useful for combat. They then journey to Magvillus to sleep beneath the earth, protected in their slumber by a powerful manifestation of the goddess Tellus. Magvillus now has over 400 of the most powerful Hermetic magi in the Order sleeping beneath the earth at Magvillus, including perhaps Guernicus himself.

Should the moment arise, these magi can be revived and sent into battle. With the power of 400 Archmagi behind them, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to resist House Guernicus should they choose to act. The sleepers might only have another decade of active life on average, but they should be able to subdue any foe within weeks. They can then go back into the earth.

Whether this army is meant to preserve or overthrow the Order, or if it even exists at all, is for individual sagas to determine. Were this practice to become common knowledge, that question would be first on most magis’ minds.

Sleep of Tellus

Technique and Form: MuCo(Te)
Range: Personal
Duration: Special
Target: Individual
Lesser, Non-Hermetic Ritual
Ease Factor: 30

This spell affects a magus chosen by the ritual leader, who can be the ritual leader themself. It can only be cast at a site consecrated to the goddess Tellus, such as the unique ceremonial chamber beneath Magvillus known as the Sepulchre of Guernicus. Near the end of the ritual, the assistants link hands to form a circle around the chosen magus. The leader than asks the goddess Tellus to grant the chosen magus sanctuary. If the ritual succeeds, the subject sinks beneath the earth. While beneath the earth the subject is unconscious and requires no air, food or water. They do not age; neither do they gain Warping points. They are effectively in perfect stasis until recalled. The subject of the ritual cannot call themself back to the surface; this can only be done by a magus of the cult with a Scholae Petrae Lore score of at least 3 by reciting a specific non-magical prayer to Tellus over the site and naming the desired magus by their Hermetic name. A separate non-Hermetic ritual, Beseech the Ward of Tellus (below), is available to consult a suspended magus for a short time without fully awakening them, should the need arise.

Beseech the Ward of Tellus

Technique and Form: MuCo(Te)
Range: Special
Duration: Special
Target: Individual
Lesser, Non-Hermetic Ritual
Ease Factor: 15

This spell calls forth the spirit of a magus under the effects of the Sleep of Tellus ritual for a short period, enabling them to be consulted without dispelling the effects of that ritual by asking the goddess Tellus briefly to awaken but not release one of her wards from their stasis. The ritual leader may ask a series of questions related to one topic or request that the spirit recount one story, but the leader is not allowed to keep the spirit awake long enough to teach spells, Abilities or Arts. The whole process feels like the ritual leader is conversing with a dreaming spirit rather than the magus of old. The ritual leader must have been present at the initial casting of the Sleep of Tellus ritual upon the suspended magus or else know their secret or true name.

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