Village of Melverley
A map of the Village of Melverley and the Covenant of Nova Semitae is now available.
- 1 Population
- 2 Covenant Aura
- 3 The Village Proper
- 4 The Covenant
- 5 Haimwood
- 6 The Redcaps
- 7 Location
See also: Village Rumors
The covenant is home to some 400 people, the vast majority of whom are Jewish. A confluence of two of the Founders being Jewish and the rescue of the covenant's present Autocrat as a boy have led to the covenant having what is likely the second-largest population of Jews in the British Isles. (Only London has a higher Jewish population at this time.) There are even some 3rd generation covenfolk of Jewish descent at the covenant. As a whole, the population is relatively devout, with nearly everyone observing the Sabbath and the festivals of the Faith. The local politics and holidays revolve largely around Jewish culture.
However, this does also present two potential issues for the magi. First, with such a large -- and growing! -- population of Jews, the covenant positions itself for blame should things go wrong with locals looking for a scapegoat. Secondly, the magi may be looking at charges of owning too many of the King's chattels without paying the proper licenses. In England at this time period, all Jews are considered 'property' of the King. This was done as a means to protect them, as their deaths would be offenses against the King. Of course, the King had a right to all the Jew's property upon their death -- especially lucrative given the higher-than-average number of moneylenders among the Jewish population. Additionally, it was permissible to "own" one of the king's Jews provided you had a proper license from the king's chancellor. Given the hundreds of Jews at the covenant, the magi would have no means to pay for so many licenses.
There does exist a small Christian population who provide services to the magi on days that Jews are not permitted to work according to their faith and traditions. With the recent arrival of Fr. Thomas Telarius and the establishment of a chapel outside the covenant walls (with its own chaplain), the Christian covenfolk finally have the ability to attend mass and someone to confess to. Although unintentional, they are second-class citizens within the covenant, though the Jewish population are careful not to abuse their majority status. If nothing else, Josef still vivid recalls the death of his friends and families at the hands of Christians and knows well that it only takes one disgruntled Christian covenfolk to bring down the wrath of the greater Christian community unto the covenant. This is something he will not permit to happen again.
Population by Resident Type
At 1220 A.D. winter, prior to the PCs joining the covenant
|Craftsmen||8||brewer (2), carpenter (2), furniture maker, candle maker, cobbler, blacksmith|
|Specialists||4||autocrat, turb captain, scribe, steward|
|Grogs||20||1 trainer, 19 men-at-arms|
|Laborers||100||12 fishermen, 10 cooking/maid staff, 78 field workers|
|Other covenfolk||208||Covenfolk not paid or employed directly by the covenant|
Population by Religion
The Covenant is covered with a Magic Aura 5 with a Creo 3 tether. This extends in approximately a one-mile radius centered on the menhir in the Mercer Woods. The covenant is also subject to several Dominion Auras due to the presence of both Jewish and Christian faithful in the covenant. However, this is largely suppressed due to the Magic Aura being greater, except at the housing of the Torah scrolls in Greystone Keep. In this confined location, the Dominion Aura is 5. The western-most fields beginning at the Chapel in the Haimwood Common Fields are far enough from the Menhir to exert a Dominion Aura 1 while the chapel itself and the adjoining cemetery have a Dominion Aura 4.
Absent the Magic Aura, the following Dominion Aura levels would take place:
- Altar in the chapel, or at the Torah scroll housing in Greystone Keep: Dominion Aura 5
- Rest of Chapel, or rest of Feast Hall in Greystone Keep: Dominion Aura 4
- Graveyards of St. Catherine of Alexandria, or Mt. Zion: Dominion Aura 4
- Village Residences: Dominion Aura 2
- Fields: Dominion Aura 1
The Village Proper
The Western Wall
A magically conjured wall forms the western boundary of the village spanning both rivers. Except for the gatehouse, it is made of a single massive piece of granite. It stands some 20 feet tall with a walkway and parapets at the top. Staircases on the ends as well as at the gatehouse permit access to the walkway. It is regularly, if lightly, patrolled due to the relatively peaceful conditions of the covenant at present. A gatehouse in the center controls access into the village, which is guarded at all times to watch for foot traffic and other visitors.
By order of the magi, nothing may be built, grown, or otherwise used within 100 yards of the wall.
This manor is used as the center of the covenant’s Jewish community. It currently houses the Autocrat’s family and offices to administer the covenant’s merchant operations. Its great hall is used both for large gatherings as well as festivals and religious ceremonies (e.g. Seder, Hannukah, bar-and-batmizvahs, etc.) The Manor was constructed with Conjuring the Noble’s Manor to make the Autocrat’s duties easier (rather than having him operate out of his house). The manor is only 3 stories tall, with 1 basement level used for storage.
Due to the manor’s use as the center of worship for the covenant’s Jewish population, it is currently the source of a Dominion Aura; however it does not current extend outside of the structure itself.
Not so much a separate village, though the covenfolk refer to it as such. The term refers to the small group of covenfolk who live near the docks as well as the residences and buildings they use on the River Vyrnwy. They bring in a modest amount of fish to supplement the covenant’s diet. They also serve as dockworkers for river-trade and any guests who arrive by boat. The fishing village predates the covenant and was run by the Redcaps to help manage travels and supplies. The fishing village and its inhabitants fall under the jurisdiction of the covenant, being ceded by the Redcaps, thought they still maintain strong loyalties and community to the Redcaps that founded their village.
Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria
The chapel was recently erected to provide a proper place of worship for the covenant’s Christian members. It was constructed outside the covenant walls next to an existing cemetery used to bury the non-Jewish covenfolk, both to appease the majority Jewish covenfolk population as well as reduce the effect on the covenant of the Dominion Aura it will generate.
The chapel does not presently have a permanent priest or a living (a house provided for the priest). The chapel was technically constructed without permission of the local bishop, as the covenant has not yet decided which bishop to place themselves under. (See Mundane Politics)
Mount Zion Cemetery
Located on the southern side of the covenant bordering the River Severn, this plot contains the burial grounds of the first two generations of Jewish covenfolk who have called Melverley home. In order to keep the it from prying Christian eyes, it is surrounded by trees to prevent casual observance (and the typical bigotry and racism that accompanies it).
Nearby the cemetery is a mikveh used by the Jewish community for ritual purification. It is fed by a spring (necessary for the mikveh) which eventually drains into the Severn.
A magical bridge spans the Vyrnwy River between the North Common Fields and the Village Green. This bridge, a magical enchantment by a former covenant founder, is magically extended every morning, and retracted at night. When it is in place, it resembles a Roman-made bridge in pristine condition. A peasant family has been tasked with controlling the bridge -- extending it in the mornings, withdrawing it in the evenings, and moving it whenever a boat cannot squeeze underneath it.
Outside the Western Wall lie the Haimwood Commons Fields. Named after the woods that were slowly converted into farmland, they provide the bulk of the covenant's produce. Most of the land is used to grow crops, though some of it is used to graze upon.
Inside the village to the east of the Western Wall lie the Commons fields. Originally, these fields were tilled and used to provide the village and covenant's food, but as more and more people moved into the village, the fields were slowly cannibalized for estates to house the population. Eventually, the woods outside the Western Wall were felled and converted to farmland.
The Founders established a large orchard to try growing fresh fruit, both to enhance the foodstuff available for sale and consumption, as well as for magical experimentation. In time, it flourished and grew to provide fruit of such quality and sufficient quantity as to make it a major export of the covenant. A variety of fruit is available to the village, both native and non-native.
To the south of the Orchard, by the river, lies the Apiary, where the covenant's solitary beekeeper and honey producer lives. The enhanced nature of the nearby orchard and a device that removes other impurities of the honey allows him to provide honey whose quality is unnaturally good compared to honey produced without such advantages. It is both used in desserts (being one of the few sweeteners around) and for mead, which is renowned in the county.
This area is set aside for the village's common use for large events on special holidays and feasts, as well as grazing ground for locally kept animals. The Autocrat keeps a schedule so that all who want to can graze on the Village Green without overusing it.
The covenant funded a village granary in 1225, completed in 1226, to serve as a bulk storage against periods of lean growth.
The covenant is located on the peninsula formed at the convergence of both rivers. It is surrounded by a variant of the spell that created the Western Wall, to enforce the privacy of the magi's affairs. A gatehouse on the north side controls the main access to the covenant proper, while the south wall has a reinforce door to Maribus' cottage, which lies outside the walls itself.
In 1229, a lab experiment of Geoffrey's went awry causing the granite walls surrounding the covenant to turn into obsidian. This has caused the covenant to look darker than it was before, as the walls were more of a granite grey prior to the lab experiment. Local rumors have started spreading as the Severn is a major navigable river used for trade.
Just outside the entrance to the covenant proper is a large wild garden with a variety of exotic plants. It has been abandoned for a number of years since one of the Founders who maintained it disappeared. A villager has been seen to collect a number of plants for her own use. Beginning in Spring 1220, a new woman housed in the covenant proper has been seen making an attempt to re-organize the garden. (Lady Isabella Norton of York)
A hall constructed of seemingly perfect construction, it was created with a variant of Conjuring the Mystic Tower named Conjuring the Noble’s Manor. Formed of local grey stone, it could house the entire covenant’s members during an attack if necessary. The Great Hall stands 4 stories (making it decidedly larger than a typical noble’s manor) and houses a number of important rooms.
- Feast Hall: A large hall that can fit a large number of guests (most of the covenant). The head table faces the rest of the hallway and is where the magi conduct formal covenant sessions.
- Private Dining Hall: More luxurious, and decidedly quiet, a dining hall for magi. It can host up to 20 people, plus servants. The magi traditionally eat here.
- Kitchens and Pantry: Attached to both the Feast Hall and the Private Dining Hall
- Ale-Wife’s Brewing room
- Guest quarters. Offices (unused) for mundane administrators.
- Guest sanctum and lab
- Fr. Thomas sanctum and lab
- Library (spans floors 3 and 4); mostly mundane topics, scribing area, library administration, and the Redcap Records of Stonehenge Tribunal. The latter is in its own section and is relatively accessible, whereas the rest of the library is separated and monitored more closely. Redcaps are regularly found here, conducting research or simply enjoying the resources that Nova Semitae shares with the Mercer House as a courtesy.
- Library (spans floors 3 and 4); mostly magic-related books. Accessible only from within the library beginning at Floor 3. Requires permission from the Council to use.
A perfectly octagonal tower carved entirely from a single piece of lapis lazuli, though mundanes tend to think of it simply made of exceptionally blue marble. Result of Conjuring the Mystic Tower when the covenant was founded. Located at the north end of the covenant's wall where it meets the River Vyrnwy.
As of 1221, a magical stone slab lift was installed by Geoffrey which has stops on floors 3, 5, and 7 at the landings. These landings were modified to contain a gate, normally shut, to interface with the stone lift. This was to allow himself, his guests, and the servants, easier access to his top-floor sanctum.
- Floor 8: Geoffroy's lab. Accessible only from an internal staircase from Floor 7.
- Floor 7: Geoffroy's bedroom. Internal staircases up to Floor 8 and down to Floor 6. Accessible by an external staircase.
- Floor 6: Unused quarters. Internal staircase down to floor 5 and up to floor 7.
- Floor 5: Unused lab. Internal staircase up to floor 6. Accessible by an external staircase.
- Floor 4: Unused quarters. Internal staircase down to Floor 3.
- Floor 3: Unused lab. Internal staircase up to floor 4. Accessible from top of covenant walls through an illusory wall, and an external staircase.
- Floor 2: Joshua Levi's Lab. Internal staircase down to Floor 1.
- Floor 1: Joshua Levi's sanctum. Internal staircase up to Floor 2. Accessed from ground floor entrance.
- Basement: Aidan's former sanctum. A door from the ground level leads to an internal staircase going down into the basement level. A second internal staircase in the basement leads down to the sub-basement level.
Formed out of fire agate, this octogonal tower seems to be mostly black and brown marbled stone until the sunlight strikes it just the right way causing pockets in the stone to iridesce. External staircases climb the eastern half of the tower allowing access to various floors. Result of Conjuring the Mystic Tower when the covenant was founded. Located at the south end of the covenant's wall where it meets the River Severn.
- Floor 8: Obscurus Ignis' sanctum. Internal staircase down to Floor 7.
- Floor 7: Obscurus Ignis' sanctum. Internal staircase up to Floor 8. Accessible by external staircase.
- Floor 6: Guest lab and quarters (free). Internal staircase down to floor 5.
- Floor 5: Guest lab and quarters (free). Internal staircase up to Floor 6. Accessible by external staircase.
- Floor 4: Unused quarters. Internal staircase down to floor 3.
- Floor 3: Julissa’s former sanctum. Internal staircase up to floor 4. Accessible from external staircase on east side of tower. Landing also allows access to top of covenant walls. Currently housing a collection of rocks suspected of being arcane connections to numerous locations around the Tribunal with a few outside of it. A large circular 'doorway' that appears to be for teleportation remains in the laboratory. Has been converted in a lab to examine the doorway.
- Floor 2: de Sule quarters (Neanne, Jerome, Therese, Aline). Internal staircase down to floor 1.
- Floor 1: Neanne's sanctum. Includes an external gallery and workshop for her glass-blowing, connected to Floor 1. Internal staircase up to floor 2.
- Basement: Magni's sanctum. A door from the ground level leads to an internal staircase going down into the basement level. A second internal staircase in the basement leads down to the sub-basement level.
Located at the south-easternmost point of the covenant at the confluence of the two rivers (Severn and Vyrnwy). Maribus set up his sanctum away from the rest of the magi to be closest to the water, reflecting his Aquam specialization. He refused to be included with the others when it came time to erect the walls that surrounded the cottage, so it lies outside the walls. ‘Cottage’ is a misnomer due to its sturdy, two-story construction. Nearby is a small white pillar with a clear crystal ball sitting on top of it. Covenfolk talk about a magical bridge that can be formed to cross either river to allow access to the opposite bank.
Barracks and Practice Yard
These buildings house the small standing forces of the covenant. A practice yard is attached for drilling and training.
Beyond the Haimwood commons lies the dense forest of Haimwood. A not-insignificant portion of the forest, mostly located north of Haimwood Commons.
Melverley Castle is large, single-structure stone fortification summoned forth by a casting of Summon the Noble's Manor. The structure is both surprisingly ornate and fabulously engineered, the creation of an exceptional finesse casting by Geoffroy and the well-planned designs of the village's master architect Jans of Roskilde. In addition to the expected great hall and functional necessities, the castle contains a large vaulted chapel illuminated with stained glass, chambers for bachelor knights and internal water well. Outside the castle is a small garden to grow for the castle kitchens some of the produce not grown en masse by the covenfolk.
Melverley Castle serves as the administrative center for William's estate and thus, technically, is the center of governance for the entire holding. In reality, the majority of the governance is handled at Graystone or in the covenant proper and the Lord and Lady often find it better to walk or ride into town to see everyone rather than try and summon them to the forest castle. It does, however, serve to receive noble guests and, quite importantly, gather and secure the taxes to be sent to Angad (and from there to Llywelyn).
The Cornwells of Melverley delves heavily in hunting and Coppicing Lumber to sustain and provide income to the nobles and laborers of the castle. Surrounding the Castle is a small collection of outbuildings that primarily serve the forestry work the castle undertakes, including lumber preparation and storage, smoking meats and the collection of furs. A small dock attached to the castle allows access to the river to move supplies.
The covenant is located at the site of a Mercer House, builtin 1109 as a waystation for Redcaps traveling the River Severn between Wales and England. It is located in a wooded area within the covenant boundaries, hidden from view from the rest of the covenant and surrounded by a wooden wall that delineates the property. In the center is a boarding house and tavern where the Redcaps live between their covenant visits and entertain guests. Several other buildings house retired Redcaps and their families. Although retiring Redcaps have the option to live among the Nova Semitae covenfolk, none have chosen to do so.
There are currently about ten Redcaps assigned to Stonehenge, though there are quarters for up to a dozen. The Mercer House operates independently of the covenant; in fact, it predates the covenant and was instrumental in bringing the Nova Semitae founders to build around them.
The second notable item is a 15-foot-tall menhir with symbols etched into it. This menhir serves as a Hermes Portal anchor that House Mercere uses to bridge the distance to Harco where inter-Tribunal correspondence is gathered and distributed, as well as Durenmar -- many magi use it to travel to the Bonisagus Domus Magna for study or to attend the Grand Tribunal. This gives both the Mercer House and the covenant a lucrative Hermetic 'tollbooth'.
The final resting ground for Redcaps, their family, their mundane staff and followers. Oldest cemetery of the covenant.
The Convenant is located at approximately 52.737383,-2.998079 by modern reckoning.