Some five miles to the east of Damascus, at the top of a steep mountain accessible by only one twisting track on the west side, lies the covenant of Aedes Veritatis (the House of Truth). The covenant was established in 1112 by a young Jerbiton maga from Damascus, Maryam al-Dimashqiyya, as a stronghold for those magi of the Order who had chosen to take up arms against their Hermetic brethren, fighting for the Muslims of the area. The name translated into Arabic (Bayt al-Haqq) carries a wider meaning of “the House of What is Right,” and was chosen to reflect what the covenant’s inhabitants saw as the rightness of their mission. Through careful administration and swift establishment of defenses and local contacts, Aedes Veritatis became a bastion for the counter-crusading magi, and after Maryam’s death at Hattin in 1187, the leadership of the covenant was taken over by her filius, Sharaf al- Din ‘Umar. Since the making of the Treaty of Baghdad, ‘Umar, his sodales and their Hermetic and mundane allies have continued to wage a secret war against the Crusader covenants, and Foothold in particular, so far remaining undiscovered by the quaesitores.
Aedes Veritatis consists of a great sandstone fortress, heavily reinforced against attack, with thick, stone walls and arrow slits. A tower, which doubles as a watchtower and the quarters of the magi, protrudes from the north-west corner of the wall, which has battlements and a parapet. In the center of the fortress is a great hall, which is used sometimes for feasts, but more often as a place for the grogs to train. Aedes Veritatis was built to be a base for military operations, and it shows. Locals assume that it is the home of a reclusive emir, and ‘Umar plays this role if necessary.
The covenant draws its income from a nearby quarry. It sells this stone in Damascus, from which it also buys the majority of its supplies. Some covenants once questioned whether this trade might be regarded as an indirect military intervention in the area, as the stone might be used for building fortifications. However, in this case the quaesitores ruled in Aedes Veritatis’ favor, as the goods being traded were not magical, nor were they specifically made for war. A greater concern would be if the quaesitores discovered that ‘Umar is an Ayyubid spy.