Three Lakes is the guiding light of the tribunal. It is the site of tribunal meetings and the major political heavyweights whose constant efforts shore up Leczyca’s position in Poland and whose resident quaesitores reject Rhine and Transylvanian territorial demands. It supports the tribunal’s Redcap network and is constantly pushing back the boundaries of exploration and trade.
The covenant is situated in a fertile lowland valley surrounded by dense woodlands. The valley walls and some of its floor have been cleared for pasture, but much of it is dominated by a wide, placid lake. Three Lakes itself is a large compound, split into three portions within a functional wooden stockade. The outermost portion is the Trade Yard; this is dominated by warehouses, reindeer stables, and a sled yard. It is occupied by drovers, fisherfolk, trappers, hunters, servants, and common grogs. Above the Trade Yard is the High House, which is on sloping ground leading up the valley wall. This is an ornate manor, dominated by the Great Hall. The mages’ specialist servants, favored grogs, friends, and guests live here. Above the High House is the Keep. This stone bastion sits in a minor pass in the valley wall and houses the treasury, library, and the quarters of the magi.
Three Lakes has considerable flocks as well as fisherfolk and hunters. Bulk food is brought in from local villages and luxuries come from Ladoga or Novgorod. The covenant has its own resident smiths, glassworkers, several scribes, and even an alchemist.
The reindeer herds, sleds, and carts are the heart of the covenant’s principal non-magical activity. As far as the local people are concerned, Three Lakes is the home of a prosperous trading family, the Beslavichi. The elderly Yury Beslav is family patriarch, while his son Georgi sees to the trading expeditions. Yury and Georgi are in fact father and son, but they are also Jerbiton magi with Gentle Gifts. Through its trading links, the covenant has accumulated significant wealth
and developed a wide net of allies in north Russia and the Baltic.
The covenant has a rigid internal hierarchy. There are three grades of magi: Juniors are probationary members who surrender their sigils, have no voice in council, and labor under heavy obligations. Specialists are full members with a voice in all council matters who have decided to relinquish voting rights and administrative tasks in order to dedicate themselves to research. Their only obligations are to teach or contribute to the covenant library one season per year. Seniors are full members who have accepted major administrative responsibility and care for the covenant’s many external obligations in return for which they alone determine policy and have voting rights in council.
This structure, which developed gradually from about 1040-1080, has worked well for almost 150 years. However, in 1212 the covenant celebrated its bicentenary and a special council was held to assess the covenant’s state. The magi were shocked by what they found, for they had failed to notice how long it had been since they had taken in any new blood. The last apprentice was gauntleted at Three Lakes 35 years ago. The last magus to join the covenant was Boris Davidovich, who at 76 is the youngest magus by fifteen years.
The magi realized that their covenant was entering late Autumn. Accordingly, the Senior council voted unanimously to acquire apprentices, and over the next five years four promising youngsters were located. The covenant has assumed a collective responsibility for their training, which is full-time, all year round. Naturally the apprentices are flourishing.
Three Lakes’ strengths are certainly formidable ones. They have a secure mundane position, strong mystical and library resources, a powerful community of magi, and widespread Hermetic respect. On the other hand their obligations are heavy. As many as three magi are routinely absent at any one time, and special obligations — the collection of vis, research, teaching, and now, the Thousand Caves controversy — also sap their strength.
On this last matter Three Lakes is divided. Their magi are simultaneously excited and frightened by the situation. The mystical implications aside, it is politically dangerous. The quaesitorial investigation which Three Lakes mounted in 1215-6 came to no hard decisions and the tribunal meeting of 1221 promises to be a difficult one.
Current Relations with Andorra