Doissetep, also referred to as the Fortress of the Aethyrs or Chantry of Cal Ladeim, was an Order of Hermes stronghold and one of the greatest chantries in Tradition history. Its fall was one of the portents that heralded the Avatar Storm and the Final Nights.
The Covenant that would later be Doissetep was founded in prehistoric times in modern Thailand, under the leadership of the Awakened king Kwa Hu. In 781, a Nephandus took control over the fortress and relocated it to Nemrut Dagi, a volcano in eastern Turkey. A conjoined effort of the Hermetic Houses Bonisagus, Tytalus, Quaesitor and Flambeau destroyed the Nephandus finally in 871 and relocated the castle to the Pyrenees, north of the city of Gerona. For its efforts, the Covenant became part of the Iberian Tribunal and such fell under the jurisdiction of House Flambeau. Under their leadership, Doissetep became one of the prime Covenants of the feudal system of the early Order in the Mythic Age. Wisdom, erudition, discipline, composure, influence and the drive to spiritual perfection are virtues espoused by the Chantry. This decade is usually regarded as Doissetep's Spring Time.
In 1201, Doissetep was the Covenant where the Grand Tribunal was held that censured and expelled House Tremere from the Order. At this time, Doissetep had crystallized itself as a major center of the Order, with the Primi of all Houses converging here every seven years. Bygones were used as guardians and every mage of the Fellowship spent at least a month in Doissetep for instruction. This prominence, however, made Doissetep a target for the Order of Reason. During the siege, the Quaesitori heard rumors that some among them had fallen to Infernalism and planned to deliver Doissetep into the hands of the enemy. The Primus of the now extinct House Regnatus was censured and his House disbanded and stricken from hermetic record, leading to the installment of the Council of Deacons as the ruling body of the chantry. The first act of the Council was to transport Doissetep into the Vadum of Forces, while leaving behind a token force of Hermetics to engage the Daedalans (mostly comprised of political rivals of the newly formed Council). Both sides were content: The Order of Reason believed that God had reached down and smitten the wizards for their arrogance, while the Order of Hermes was safe in a new spiritual realm without the constant threat of the Scourge. In the following decades, most efforts were done to tame the elemental realm, erecting a mountain mirroring Mount Celidar where Doissetep had once stood, as a safeguard against the elemental rages of the realm. Treaties and pacts with various Umbrood Lords secured Doissetep's position as the major anchorhead of the Traditions in this part of the Umbra. Shoring up their successes, the Council of Deacons greatly enhanced their privileges and rights within the Chantry. In exchange, representatives from each Hermetic House would be placed on the Council, although bureaucratical obstacles made sure that it never came to this. This is referred to as the Summer of Doissetep.
In 1450, the Judicium Hermeticum ruled that the Chantry had to allow members of the allied Traditions within its walls. This decision was not met with favour from the Deacons, but they had little choice in that manner. During this time period, other Traditions convened in Doissetep, which did nothing to stabilize its already tumultuous internal rivalries and politics. Paranoid of being discovered by their enemies, the Deacons ruled that no one was to enter or leave Doissetep without their permission. Even the initiation tests for being accepted into an internal cabal were held somewhere else. This atmosphere of isolation further enhanced the internal intrigues. This time period is referred to as the Autumn of Doissetep and it concluded in Winter during the Modern Nights, when Doissetep's reputation was that of a nest of vipers. While still very engaged in the Ascension War, most of its members did so for the gain of personal power, instead of Ascension. Sequestered from reality, most Masters did no longer understand the realities of earthly existence that most younger mages had to face, while most younger mages came to grow disillusioned with the way the Masters ruled, using young mages as chess pieces for personal vendettas and concerning themselves more with old grudges and their reputation than actually becoming involved in the messy reality of conflict. It was a powder keg, waiting for explosion.
In 1998, tensions erupted into conflict, when the Ascension Warrior arrived in Horizon. After São Christavo had insulted him, the false Teomin transformed him into a statue of solid gold. Rumors of the incident spread to Doissetep, fueled by agents of Teomin. Soon, some came to believe that São Christavo's death was the result of a plot of Archmage Porthos Fitz-Empress, who allegedly had cut a deal with the Ascension Warrior to remove a long-time political rival for him. Arguments became heated, until it erupted in open dueling. So many masters of Forces in a single Realm strained it up to its limit, leading to the event known as the Conflagration. Under the strain of the magical infighting, Doissetep disintegrated in a fiery explosion that could have easily destroyed a large part of the Umbra and the Material World, had Porthos not used his powers to contain the explosion to its realm. The shockwave, however, was strong enough to weaken the Pericarp of Horizon, allowing for the invasion of the Technocracy. News of Doissetep's destruction sparked off a War in Ruins, where members of every part of the Ascension War flogged to the realm to scavenge it for Wonders or similar relics that might had survived the Conflagration. The War ended when the Avatar Storm scoured the Umbra, taking most of the contenders by surprise and shredding them.
Most mages do not know what really happened at Doissetep. They suspect betrayal and Technocratic involvement. Only few of the original ruins remain, most of them having been destroyed in the conflict or worn out by the winds of the Avatar Storm. Rumors, however, tell that a sort of "Legendary Realm" has formed within the Martian Umbra, where emanations of the Chantry exist in the state before its destruction, its inhabitants ignorant to the fact that they are actually emanations and still plotting against each other.
The Chantry maps on a convergence point between the Martian penumbra and the actual Shard Realm of Forces. Doissetep is a massive castle up to a mile in diameter and thirty stories tall. Over its many centuries of existence new wings, levels, and additions have been made, giving it an eclectic appearance. Countless chambers and hallways comprise the upper portion of the chantry, while below a twisted nest of tunnels lead to various catacombs in the mountain. Secret passageways link many of the rooms, enabling knowledgeable residents to travel unnoticed. The central part is a cyclopean structure with oriental features. The Chantry had three earthly aspects, one in Toledo, one in Boston and one in Manchester, through which Doissetep could be reached from Earth.
The air inside Doissetep is cold and devoid of moisture. Electromagnetic elementals are used for illumination, and the whole ambience is gloomy and medieval, even in more modernized rooms with computer access (a courtesy for the Virtual Adepts). The greatest hall is the Hall of Convocation, where the Council of Deacons convenes and where Certamén challenges are held. Portals to other realms of the Tellurian, including its earthly aspects, lie within a maze of catacombs. Doissetep had over twelve libraries, one for each Sphere, as well as two for uncategorized magic, as well as several others, covering a broad array of themes including mundane sciences.
Doissetep controlled up to ten Nodes, under them Stonehenge, a haunted House in Manchester, a Node near a Black Spiral Dancer Pit in Scotland, the Waterfalls of Acajutla in the Amazon, the former Uktena-controlled Caern of Black Clouds in Tennessee and the megalithic Arms of Var in the Balkans. Most, if not all, of these Nodes suffered major damage after Doissetep's destruction.
Doissetep was home to ten Awakened cabals and over four hundred Sleeper servants, most of them descendants of the original staff or of a mage. Members of all Traditions could be found within its walls. A Panel of Deacons was officially in charge of Doissetep, but in reality, authority was divided between four cabals: the Drua'shi under Porthos Fitz-Empress, the Glass Eye under Aida-Wedo Mangum, the Janissaries under Caeron Mustai, and the Followers of Tytalus under Klaus Hortemone. The intrigue generated by these groups consumes most of the focus of the chantry's residents, with even many servants acting as spies or secret police. Since the exterior of the realm was nearly inhospitable, most persons unskilled in the arts of Forces had to rely on more experienced mages if they wanted to step outside. Contact with other realms was extremely monitored, with only those that had proven themselves being allowed into the realm.
In most cases, each of the inhabiting mages had one or two apprentices, who had a strict schedule to adhere to. These included a ten-hours day of studying magic, as well as performing certain chores for their tutors. Failures were either sent back to Earth, their memories erased or made part of the servant corps.
Internally, Doissetep had two peacekeeping forces:
- The Vantikor were the Chantries defenders and shock troops against Technocratic agents.
- The Jhonisett were the secret police, with the power of arresting anyone suspected of treachery within the chantry and bringing them before a Tribunal.
Doissetep was first mentioned in the original Ars Magica Rulebook, although no detail was given. It was described in full in the Ars Magica sourcebook Covenants, where it was presented as the most powerful covenant in the Order of Hermes circa 1198. In that book, the covenant of Doissetep was located in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Iberia, was several centuries old, and was in its autumn season.
Doissetep's World of Darkness version was described in The Book of Chantries for Mage: The Ascension First Edition, where its history was expanded both backwards (to give it an origin in Asia before the Hermetics relocated it to Europe) and forwards (to bring it into the 20th century and into the Shard Realm of Forces); in the modern era, it is in its winter season. Horizon, Doissetep's sister chantry, was described in Horizon: Stronghold of Hope for Mage: The Ascension Second Edition, and both chantries were depicted as they existed in the Renaissance in the Castles and Covenants sourcebook for Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade. Finally, the fates of both Doissetep and Horizon were described in the Horizon War Trilogy.