Although not the oldest of the Crusader covenants, Foothold is the most vocal in its support of a return to the conflict of former years. It is the home of two violent and undisciplined French magi, Guillaume de Bourne of Flambeau and Rufus de Clary of House Tytalus, who arrived in the Levant in 1188, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem to Salah al-Din. They set up their covenant as a “constant foothold for the Order on the Levantine coast,” and it is from this intention that its name is derived.
The covenant is located on a hill ten miles east of the coast of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, some ten miles north-east of Acre and ten miles south-west of Tyre. On three sides of the hill the approach is steep and dangerous, but on the eastern side the slope is gentler and wooded. The covenant’s inhabitants have begun to clear the woods on the fourth side, but this work has been fairly desultory so far, as the crusading conquest to pay attention to their domestic affairs. It may take a sharp shock in the form of a direct attack to make them aware of the daily realities. To the outside world, Foothold is much what it appears to be, an outpost of Crusaders.
The covenant itself consists of a two-story, stone keep surrounded by a yard, itself surrounded by a strong stone wall with battlements and a parapet. Grogs and servants live in both levels of the keep, while the magi live only on the upper story. Among the specialists of the covenant are two fishermen and a merchant, who ensure that the covenant is kept supplied through trade in fish and what little wood is felled. The servants and grogs are mostly French, and mostly dedicated to their masters and their cause. However, there have been some mutterings of discontent from the ranks, and it may be that the magi will have to deal with these before long.
Foothold has both allies and enemies in the tribunal. It is seen as the leader of the Crusader faction, as a consequence of which it is supported by other Crusader covenants, but is viewed with hostility by Aedes Veritatis and the other covenants opposing the Crusades. It also has a bad reputation among the quaesitores, who view it as a particular threat to the rather unstable peace, and suspect its magi of continued crusading activity. Finally, magi serving the Ayyubids also recognize the threat posed by the covenant, and so they have planted a number of scrying devices there. Using these, they hope to be forewarned of any sudden attacks by Foothold or its allies. It may well be that if the Treaty of Baghdad is ever broken, Foothold will be the first casualty of the renewed conflict.