1.2: of Wandering Isles

Scylax pays intense attention as well, specially to see if a step is mere prop, or actually meaningful. Perhaps he can later invent a spell or device that can make things easier to gather the vis, this is after all his area of expertise. But he will listen closely, and will consult with Aristocles about all the steps, to make sure he is not misremembering, and to plumb his sodales for his expert opinions and Verditius wisdom.

<OOC When he may, he will wander a bit to feel the aura of the place, perhaps it is swamped by a Divine aura except on this very special day. He will most definitely cast a Stifled (silent + quiet x2) Piercing the Magic Veil InVi 20 Mastery 1 Quiet Casting/+18 and peer into the alleged gateway from a distance to see if he sees anything.
Concentration roll for MuVi spell: Conc 4 Casting spells + 3 Int + _: 1D10 = [2] = 2 = 9, what was needed, Quiet, silent, Facilitate the Stifled Spell (Vim) MuVi 10 Mastery 1 Quiet Casting/+20 _: 1D10 = [4] = 4 - 10 = 14 +/- aura,
Piercing the Magic Veil InVi 20 Mastery 1 Quiet Casting/+18 _: 1D10 = [7] = 7 = 25 +/- aura OOC>

Ioannes gathers oak when asked. Its probably not a good idea with his fragile health, but he does want to help. He doesn't know what "vis" is. Something to do magic with? He makes a note to ask, but he doesn't want to disrupt the ritual, whatever it is.

[tab][/tab] Anastaj is in a rare talkative mood, while he busies himself with the oak leaves and acorns. He puts leaves at the bottom of the bowl, arranges the many acorns around just so, covers them with some more green leaves, then pulls out a small bottle from his bag, filled with some clear watery substance. ''Pure alcohol, courtesy of our resident alchemist, bless his soul...'' he pours some in the bowl '' Never drink the stuff, you will go blind. Is not necessary but makes things faster'', he uses the mirror device to concentrate the sun's rays on the dry sticks under the bowl, throws the myrrh in and waits. '' This is an ancient ritual in honor of Zeus and his mother Rhea. Those daggers I gave you have their signs on them, they are mostly of ceremonial nature, but its custom. The myrrh is my affectation, I do not like the smell of burning oak. Mind you, you must make a sacrifice to the old gods, something expensive. Good wine and olive oil, a small piece of gold jewellery or incense, whatever floats your boat. The wine is used in the sponde (σπονδή, libation)...'' he fills the shallow cups and passes them around, drinks a gulp from the flask itself to refresh himself then continues ''… I use something I like, since I am going to drink it too. Its good though to respect the customs, do not be cheap with the wine, yes? And this is a κάτοπτρον, an ancient device of mirrors that concentrate the sun's rays into heat to make the fire. Theoretically any 'holy' or 'blessed' fire is appropriate, but there aren't many priestesses of the old gods around eh? So we make do with this, though some people suggested using magic'' He scoffs off the idea, mumbling about irreverent fools. The fire starts, slowly heating the bowl, then it too bursts in fire, the alcohol quickly shriveling the green oak leaves. You can hear the green acorns start to pop. The vlach does the libation then waits with you for the fire inside the bowl to consume its fuel. Hot ash is left behind, white tufts mixed with charcoal-grey, many round blackened objects spread around, blackened husks of the acorns you threw in. Five of them are intact, still a vibrant emerald green with their brown casings. Anastaj reaches in and gingerly picks them up ''Hot!'' he swears, juggling them into a velvet pouch. He then turns to the young Ioannes ''These that remain contain the vis we seek, magical repositories of power. More precise to say they are the physical representations of pure magic crystallized in our world. This particular ritual allows us to gather an uncertain amount of intellego vis, used for seeking and finding stuff. Three to five pawns are gathered usually, this was a good year. Naturally the whole lot is claimed by the Order itself and we are to hold them and present them when appropriate, either annually, every seven years at the Assembly or when asked by visiting Redcaps... Don't cheat the Order!'' he warns his protégés. He then directs the clean up so that you can leave, heading for the Arta, the capital of Epirus.

Scylax is actually extremely moved by all this. He has reverence for the old ways. Annastaj, I know that much has been lost...but that is why we are here, a new beginning!
He will converse with the old Magus, about the Companions and their areas of competence, the coven folk, etc. Does he reveal more about Meru Mudi, how Christoforo and he came to find the site and choose it, any local legends about the Apple Mountain?

Ioannes listens raptly when a little bit about vis is explained. It answers some questions, but also gives more. So its magic power. And its measured in pawns. And there are types. The objects themselves aren't vis though? He still avoids pelting the man with questions and suppresses the envy at all the knowledge the older man has. He doesn't want to ruin the talkative mood or do anything to discourage further talkativeness! Still he responds "Very interesting. Thank you for teaching me and allowing me to help."

[tab][/tab] ''Hnnnn, yes...'' Anastaj looks at Scylax sideways, something about old ways, things lost and new beginnings not pleasing him much. Despite the young man's careful questioning, he talks little about Meru Mudi, the site and stories about it, beyond what he has already imparted. He speaks less of Christoforos, clamming up. The Vlach is more fore-coming about other people though and speaks about covenfolk and companions during your journey, on and off again. Most of the covenfolk are locals that Anastaj gathered, people he knows from families he tracked for decades (sometimes back to great-grandfathers or mothers and such). He knows the Vlachs the longest, the Slavs are timid but hard working, and the Greeks most accommodating to weirdness.
[tab][/tab] He trusts Dimitris implicitly, he knows him since he was a wee lad, knew his father and his father before him, good people who worked or him. He is very bright and helps him a lot with running stuff. Once he thought he could make a great apprentice, but alas he showed no magical potential at all, a pity. Miklos is a Slav from up north and was brought here by Christoforos. He... gets results, is all he will say. Sir Giorgios is a fallen knight from the City if you would believe that. He has a somewhat bad reputation in Epirus, but he is a loyal and devout man. Despite some personal problems, he is a very competent warrior, Anastaj has great hopes he will shape up the grogs nicely. Alexios Chalkeus is from the City too, he is an alchemist. Anastaj has plans for him, he is too valuable to leave around for other people to pick up.

[tab][/tab] Sensing Ioannes unasked questions he expands on the nature of vis, imparting about its forms, how some objects 'collect' vis like vessels and return to mundane form when its all used up and others are the crystallised vis itself and vanish when used. Though the Order has catalogued fifteen different types that it uses, there are many many more, each unique in its own way. Perhaps Ioannes would like a book on the subject to read?

[tab][/tab] After your brief stay at Dodoni, and with the intellego vis safely in Anastaj's bag, your small caravan now starts the way south towards the capital of Epirus, Arta. Following the land along Tomaro mountain, your teamsters guide the mules on little used tracks, passing forgotten villages between mountains and ridges aligned north-south named Athamanika, pointing towards the Ambracian Gulf. It takes you only the rest of that day to reach the Arta lowlands, a wide fertile valley watered by two rivers, adjacent to the gulf. Entering the area you are surprised by the amount of flies the warm air holds. This close to the sea, the summer weather and the humidity of the swamps breeds flies in alarming numbers. More over large horseflies cause painful bites on beasts and men indiscriminately, forcing your guides to alertness least your mounts frenzy and buckle. Evening is worst as the swamps unleash bloodsucking mosquitoes in huge black clouds over the valley. And while Anastaj uses magic to protect your beasts for the swarms, the local water buffaloes, cows and horses are not so fortunate, resigned to their fate of blood donors.
[tab][/tab] The Vlach is wary of the capital of the Despotate and urges caution. This is a rapidly expanding town, newly elevated to greatness. People come here to find their fortune, make their destiny and prey on those weaker than them. He feels that they should not attract any attention, lay low and get out as fast as possible. He does not trust this place, it feels...wrong, every time he visits.
[tab][/tab] The town of Arta is surprisingly an old one. Settled in ancient times, Ambracia as it was called back then was an important town during the Hellenistic and Roman times, a town dedicated to Apollo. Later it fell into obscurity, rising in prominence just recently when Comnenus Ducas made it the capital of his new realm. Coming from the north west, you see a large hill looming over, with a newly built castle on the top. This late in the day near sunset, flocks of ravens circle the castle in ominous groups before settling in the tall black cypresses to roost for the night. Around the hill comes the river Arachthos, almost whole encircling it from the northeast round to the south, anticlockwise. Between the hill and the river, the town itself sprawls in its new-found importance. It is clear even at this distance that the town has separate districts with lots of construction going on. On the north side of the river, where you are coming from, a huge military encampment takes most of the area, with temporary and semi-permanent buildings and stables nearer the waters. This is the main staging area of the armies of Epirus, though most of the units are off to the East fighting. The castle dominates the hill and just bellow it some new majestic buildings have been recently built, domiciles owned by the rich and influential no doubt. The northern part of the city is the old city, with tiny stone built houses and lonesome churches whose bells are barely heard, muted over the din of the town itself. Stone is also present on the narrow roads there, in contrast to the southern part of the city where dust and mud are the norm. That part is the slums, filled with the unwanted and the unsuccessful, whether poor refuges, cripples or criminals. Between those two, the new Arta is still being built and improved, new houses out of wood to house the swelling population. In the center a large marketplace filled with goods from the east and the west never sleeps. The air is heavy with dust and moisture, though the swarms of flies and mosquitoes have all but vanished. There are no swallows or storks in the city, and sparrows are few and fearful. In contrast ravens are a common sight and their cawing is ignored by the people intent on their busyness. This is the heart of Epirus, a new town based on military might, opportunity and greed.
[tab][/tab] Anastaj leads you to a wide bend of the river at the north side, a fordable place with low waters, brushing off people pointing south in the distance to a new bridge spanning the Arachthos. ''A little water never hurt anyone'' he says. He seems alert and wary of the city, especially when your party is stopped by a group of soldiers for inspection. While some take a cursory look over the packs on the mules, their sergeant informs you that any bows you have must be unstrung for the duration of your visit and any slings and throwing daggers are to be confiscated. He is disinterested in your other weapons and if asked he states its orders from the Ruler Theodore Komnenos Doukas. After this brief and weird incident your party takes shelter in a small, grubby inn for the night, Anastaj warning you not to stray as you will be leaving very early in the morning...

[OOC the city of Arta is an anomaly. The Divine is very weak here, confined to low auras in churches. On the other hand the Infernal has creeped-in appearing in several parts of the city. Sometimes it is even noticeable to those sensitive enough as a chill and a worrisome feeling. Greed is blatantly a common sin in this city. Auras of 1 or 2 are common, there is no Divine aura covering this city]

Ioannes is very grateful for the explanation on vis and would love an opportunity to read a book on the subject. He is also very grateful for the protection from bugs and is quite fascinated by how it works. He doesn't like the city they are staying in, although he can't seem to put his finger on it. Eventually he decides it must be the poor social skills of the magi putting people on edge.

[tab][/tab] You pass a fretful night at the shabby inn. Whether its the hot, humid air, the constant buzzing of the mosquitoes or something else, you cannot say. Dawn greets you with gritty eyes, dark circles and general stiffness. It is a somber breakfast that you have and even then Anastaj seems keen to continue your journey as soon as possible. Your teamsters urge the mules to start the trek and you follow them through the city. Even this early before dawn, there are people going around, most probably returning from a night of debauchery or other diversions. Closer to the market, whores bid goodbye to night time clients or welcome late comers to their chambers, you can hear sinful sounds all around. The market place itself is half open: wine shops and taverns are still open, while early morning eateries boil patsas (widely known for its properties against hangovers), its heavy fragrance mixing with less savoury ones. The smell of rotting vegetables is also heavily present, sanitation seems to be a low priority in this city. In corners and shadowed alcoves unsavory figures trade in mysterious contraband, the underbelly of Arta is well represented, the last callers this early in the morning. You hurry through and exit to the south.
[tab][/tab] Just as the sun dawns you come upon the great bridge of the city, the one you saw from afar yesterday. It is an imposing affair with twin arches that spans the waters of the Arachthos river. The caws of ravens starts a cacophony this early, and you attract the attention of men and birds. The toll is reasonable and you quickly pass on the other side of the river, letting out a pent-up breath you did not notice you held.

[Note: Anyone who has not had Parma up, has the Greedy trait upped by 2 or gain it at 2 for one day (tSE:tTT 51). This has no effect now past mood setting]

[tab][/tab] With furtive, nervous glances behind you, you leave the city and head towards the western part of the lake-gulf. The road takes you around the shores, mostly large expanses of chocked off marshes filled with salty water even in high summer, and then down south towards the northern arm of the straights, towards the village of Preveza, the harbor-town of Arta. Anastaj explains that once there was a large ancient city of Nikopolis here, founded by the Romans for the naval victory of Aktio, a city on the other side of the straits. It grew and bloomed until some centuries ago, then fell to decadence and decay. Now only a village and ruins remain. But the people moved further towards the tip and rebuild into a new village right at the straights, Preveza. Small and crowded it none the less commands a premium position at the very entrance of the gulf, with a deep and protected natural harbor where a few high mast ships now bob on the water. The Vlach whispers that until recently there used to be a covenant of the Order with aquam specialists, but no-one has heard from them for years. He would appreciate if you would keep an eye open and be careful. Tomorrow you will board your ship and start sailing down the coast, round the Peloponnese and up again towards your next stop, Nafplio

<OOC This is a topic of great interest to Scylax. He asks many questions about these water witches, who they were, where exactly was their covenant physically located, what was their declared Patron. Even if Annastaj has scant knowledge, Scylax will see if he has suggestions where to seek this info; perhaps Annastaj knew one of their Companions, or some of the grogs' families. One of Scylax's main goals is trying to find a font of Magic Lore for the area.

Arta, brrr. At some point, a more experienced Scylax will try to find lacuna and catalog auras there, the information could be very valuable. OOC>

Scylax asks the Vlach point blank at some point when only Magi are present: "Are the rulers of these places aware of Meru Mudi? Have they reached out at some point, Annastaj? You have traveled this area extensively in the past, I would imagine! It concerns me what course we would charter in such a case, how to best refuse. Seeing this ...place. Arta. ...any man who can grasp and hold such a hive of iniquity would be a terrible friend or foe." Scylax becomes very thoughtful after this.

Ioannes is just glad to have left the terrible city behind, and he's grateful for the fresh air from the sea.

[tab][/tab]-[tab][/tab] Spirits were high that night during dinner at the inn your party was staying. The teamsters were merry and in their caps, as tomorrow after unloading the mules at the docks they would take the road back home to the mountains and leave this place. They are glad they would soon meet their families again. The magi and Ioannes were at a different table, talking about their trip and things they have seen. When asked about the water covenant of the area Anastaj takes a pause to think then hesitantly speaks: '' There was... a covenant around here, a small one, three or four people no more. They are members of the Order so not witches per se, though if I remember most of them were Ex Miscellanea. I am sorry my memory is not that good on this subject, I was... preoccupied with other things these past few years, didn't pay much attention. Still, they had a place here, at some beach on the inner arm of the peninsula, the one that juts into the gulf, near some kind of salt lake. I have never been there, don't know the exact location but I heard it was inside the waters themselves, protected by magic. You should ask the redcaps, they should know more. We have not heard of them the past fifteen years, not after the Fall of the City. I assume they hid, fled or got wiped out during the Crusade, but in reality... they had long kept to themselves and had sparse contact with anyone even before them, rarely coming to the Assemblies. The whole of Epirus was largely avoided by our kind, its a home for recluses. This place though is very interesting, a meeting of land and water. In ancient times, most of what you see covered in water was actually dry land. Why, the island of Lefkada (Λεύκάδα) is actually an extension of the land, periodically cut off by the tides. The ancients had a silt moving operation to make it a waterway pass for trader ships. On the inner gulf side, strange tides happen all the time and vast shallow lagoons dot the marshy edges. On the outside, past some ways out sea, the Adriatic splashes against the Ionian. Its a good place to study water magics I think.'' He pauses to gather his thoughts, then voices some more thoughts '' I do remember they had a woman leader, Astia? She was Ex Miscellanea, definitely what you Scylax would call a water witch. They had good relations with Aegaea Covenant, but little contact with the rest of us. I think their patron was a water nymph of some kind, or rather a nereid (Νηρηΐς), one of the mythic daughters of Nereus.''

[tab][/tab]-[tab][/tab] When the magi find time alone in their counsel, and Scylax broaches the subject of Epirus politics and Meru Mudi relations with the mundane rulers and authorities, Anastaj raises an eyebrow and shares some knowledge: '' Our covenant is barely started, its been what, barely four months? We don't know where our own linen and blankets are, we have no contact with any rulers, nobility or the church for that matter. The locals are barely aware of us. I hope that does not change, being unknown is a good thing. Michael Dukas just died, our Covenant just started, so I am certain the new person in charge, Theodore Dukas, has no idea we even exist. Same with the local nobles. I would prefer to keep it this way, mundanes are troublesome. Local will learn about us unfortunately, but we could probably pass off as weird ascetic men of the mountains or some such thing, and be left alone.''
[tab][/tab] He pauses again to think a bit, then continues: '' Actually the real problem would be our Companions, two of them in particular. Sir Georgios is an infamous warrior here in Epirus and did fight in the Fall of the City. His military experience is invaluable and as such he is a great addition to our covenant. I have high hopes he will help us with making some guards to protect us and such, I have no clue on military matters. But our security is paramount and he is the man we need for that job. He does have some issues from his past and that might bring the attention of nobility and clergy on us. I think though that we should shield him as best we can, he is a good man. On the other hand is Alexios. You probably have not seen him around much. He is an alchemist, but one of the useful ones, he has a military background. In fact, he is from the former Imperial apparatus. I offered him sanctuary and a place to work, not only because he is a highly valuable asset for our Covenant but because I did not want him running around Epirus to be snatched up by the Despotate. That would lead to too much mischief. Better keep him and hide him than let what that man knows fall in inappropriate hands. We at least know how to keep secrets and dangerous knowledge. I also expect trouble from the East about him, mayhap Niceae will be looking for him too. That's why we need eyes and ears to have early warnings. Miklos is doing just that, he will keep us informed. That one is a competent fellow'' he snorts.

[tab][/tab]-[tab][/tab] Early morning at the tiny port your teamsters are unloading your baggages into a small boat to be ferried over to a Venetian merchant ship. Small in size with two masts, one square and one triangle, Mare Regina is a fast, old ship mainly used for transporting luxury items and passengers, its captain plying the Adriatic for years. Anastaj had made plans for the trip and some money were exchanged and though there were no permanent quarters, you did put up a separate tent for the five of your party (the three magi, Ioannes and a grog). Besides this will be a short trip to Nafplio, no more that two days. It is a tight fit, but you manage to store away all your packs and such, the magi having to do menial work too, and the ship draws anchor and gently starts the journey south.
[tab][/tab] The winds are favorable, a steady northern breeze uncharacteristic for this time of year. It speeds your journey quite a bit and the weather keeps clear, pleasant and hot. Right out of Preveza you enter the Ionian sea where the great naval battle of Aktium took place in Roman times and Mark Antony lost to the forces of Octavian led by Agrippa. You travel on the western side of Lefkada, a semi-island with white beaches, down to Kefalonia the largest island in the Ionian sea, and certainly the one with the highest mountains. Your vessel weaves between Kefalonia and Ithaca, legendary island of Odysseus, then past Zakynthos to sail next to the western edge of the Peloponnese, its golden beaches blinding from afar. Near the evening, your captain takes you to deeper waters as the edges of the mainland appear, full of mighty cliffs and dangerous coastlines and the wind changes. It is a slower passage on the south side of the Greek peninsula, a clear night full of stars and to the north tiny pinpricks of lights signifying coastal towns hidden away in the gulfs and small villages perching on the edge of cliffs. Dawn finds you past the last of the Eptanisa, Cythira (Κύθηρα) and in the Aegean sea. Your Venetian transport turns north for the last part of the journey, along the rugged mountainous coastline and up into the eastern gulf towards the city of Nafplio.
[tab][/tab] The journey is difficult for Ioannes for he is ailed by some kind of motion sickness, apparent from the first hour when he rushes to be violently ill... on the wrong side of the ship. Anastaj considers the problem and after examining the man, suggests to knock the scholar out. That would keep him from suffering during the journey, a temporary but effective solution since the Vlach cannot find the underlying problem. ''Cheer up, its only three days of sailing in total on this journey'' he says unsympathetically.
[tab][/tab] Nafplio is an old Greek city, one of the ancient sites of human habitation. Situated at the end of an emerald gulf, it is a town of strategic importance. You can see from the distance a lot of ships in its harbor, while the town itself climbs up the hills in white and red order. There is construction on the top of the hills, new fortifications and emplacements. This city had recently been the center of conflict between the various players at the end of the fourth crusade, with vicious battles taking place inside the city itself. In fact for a time it was divided between the Byzantine half and the Frankish half. Now it's under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Athens, firmly in the hands of foreigners. Near the center of the harbor is a lone island, where a καϊκι is waiting for you. This is a large fishing ship with one mast, smaller than Mare Regina by two classes but agile none the less. It appears that you would not have time on land, but change vessels in the middle of the sea. Poor Ioannes....

Scylax is genuinely grateful and enthusiastic with the morsels of knowledge Annastaj dispenses. He will later still ask about the Apple Mountain fauna and nearby environs, specifically magical creatures associated with his strengths of Perdo and Vim.

<OOC Scylax can knock Ioannes out with The Call to Slumber ReMe 10 Mastery 2(4) Multiple Casting, Resistance/+10, though Annastaj is likely to be able to spont a longer version. He will be loath to do so unless the scholar approves. Also, it would last only for however long a slumber lasts OOC>

[tab][/tab] Anastaj is evasive about talking or providing information about Tymfi and its environs. He argues that you 'young ones' should go out and learn things firsthand, untainted by the experience and views of others. The land is full of magic and pockets of special auras, too many to count. He applauds Scylax his curiosity but cautions patience.
[tab][/tab] As for the proposed solution to Ioannes problem, Anastaj is capable of doing exactly that... he is after all quite adept in Mentem....

Ioannes would be quite grateful for as much unconsciousness as is possible. This ship is terrible! It would be better to sleep than to endure this horrifying torture device!

OOC: Just make sure he doesn't aspirate his vomit.

[tab][/tab] With the scholar 'sedated' under the magic of Anastaj, your group makes the transfer to the fishing trawler, at the obvious relief of the Venetian vessel's crew. And while Mare Regina makes her way toward the harbor, Παναγιώτισσα (the fishing boat is named after the Virgin Mary) heads out to the Aegean sea. Cramped and quite smelly of fish and seaweed rot, the boat manages a fast pace with one full mast. The winds seem to favor you for now and the weather is fine if a bit too hot. While the small crew of the fishing boat avoids you, the captain (a bearded man with a lot of hair on his naked arms and legs) is quite chatty... too chatty. Anastaj quickly gets tired of talking to the man and pleading fatigue takes his leave to sleep next to Ioannes. The Captain, Stavros of Porto Heli, turns to the two other magi and happily chats about the sea, the weather, fishing, and life in general. For someone mundane he certainly seems at ease with the gift. Perhaps that is why the Vlach had this particular boat ferry you across to Naxos.
[tab][/tab] Night makes the passage across the exit of the two gulfs of the mainland uneventful. This part of the Aegean, the Μυρτωον sea is a large empty space of water that deceives many to their doom. Filled with shallow rocks and reefs and plagued by strong currents even when there is no wind, this is one of the most dangerous parts of the Aegean and filled with sea wrecks. There are tales of monsters (which Stavros happily chats about with anyone listening) and lots of superstitions. The crew is anxious and alert, always checking their bearing and surroundings, even though both the captain and Anastaj don't seem to bear any worry. Dawn finds you at the eastern part of that sea, with a plethora of islands on the horizon. The Cyclades make a labyrinth of channels and passages, with all the large islands inhabited and lots of dry deserted smaller ones. All these were conquered after the fourth crusade by Marco Sanudo, nephew of the accursed Enrico Dandolo, who made a Duchy out of the archipelago. He settled on Naxos the biggest island and started a new city with a deeper harbor, Κάστρο, the next stop in your destination. Late during the same day, after having traveled between many islands, all of them parched and dry looking hunks of rocks, your boat finally reaches safety. Naxos is an old island, and you can see its slopes riddled with hundreds of cultivated parcels of land in terraces. Despite being in the middle of the Aegean, it seems to have considerable fresh water reserves that make agriculture strong, with wheat and vegetables grown in the more level parts of the land, and olives and tangerines on the slopes. However its biggest value to the Venetians are the Emery mines on the eastern part of the island, unique in the world. Venetian ships huddle together in the new port, while construction of a new breakwater jetty is underway. There seems a lot construction going done, especially fortifications. Marco Sanudo is here to stay.
[tab][/tab] As your boat enters the new harbor, Anastaj whispers to you to not make any fuss. You will be staying the night then leave for Delos in the morning....

Scylax is gregarious as well, so he will speak to the captain and try to get news of the outside world. He will also probe subtly to see if the captain is at all aware of his passengers' true nature, and whether he's ferried others like them recently.

Scylax will mind Annastaj's words about Naxos, although he is curious about the island's legends.

[tab][/tab]The captain is pleasant and quite happy to chat with Scylax. He actually has no idea what you 'folk' are or do. Its just that something is different with him and he does not mind your Gift (maybe?). He quite enthusiastically chats about gossip and news, though he has little knowledge of politics or the affairs of the mighty and great. He has inherited this fishing boat, makes his starting money fishing but turned into ferrying between the islands. His luck has held so far, ten years now.

[tab][/tab] Anastaj points a finger at Scylax's way and repeats the old adage about cats and curiosity...

No action from Aristocles except enjoy the journey and keeping his eyes and ears open. He will be thinking deeply of what the Tribunal will or won't lead to.

Scylax laughs, and his eyes glint with mischief: These dead cats, how gruesome! Well, we always hear about the cats who where killed, but what about the cats that lived, wiser, having gained important knowledge?

More serious, to Annastaj, later on: "I hope you don't think me merely reckless, Annastaj. But I don't see knowledge or wisdom accruing just by happenstance or mere patience. One has to stick out one's neck, carefully yes, to see beyond. Call it the folly of youth! And it seems to me it behooves the older, wiser cats to teach the younger toms, not merely swat them away, so that all may prosper, in the hypothetical Kingdom of Cats."

[tab][/tab] Anastaj merely grunts in response to Scylax's quip and muttering heads for this night's refuge, a small inn away from the harbor. Its a small tavern that doubles as an inn, managed by a practical pair of islanders. Airy and clean, it offers basic stout fair, grilled fresh caught fish, vegetable salad with feta cheese in olive oil and 'young' wine in cold carafes. There are some patrons there too, fishermen and boat traders having a glass of watered uzo and sampling treats while discussing the news of the day. Life is simple in the islands, following a less strict pattern of the season. People here care less on who rules or who attacked whom or that the great City fell to the western crusade. They eat and drink and laugh like there is no tomorrow, for no-one knows what the sea will throw at them next. It is quite different than what you experience in the mainland, let alone Arta or the bigger cities, and it also reminds you of the divide between those Gifted and those not.
[tab][/tab] Early morning finds you looking down on a small rowing boat managed by a black garbed and slightly sinister looking man. While the boat is elegant and quite well cared for, the man is dark, dour and non too clean looking, with shaggy black hair and beard. Beneath his patched and torn cape though, you can make out a good belted knife in a new sheath, good boots and a gold medallion hanging over his neck. The man speaks not at all, communicating with slight gestures with Anastaj and none with you. The Vlach has a word with him, then motions to you to bring your stuff and enter the boat. ''This is Voreas. He is the man who will take us to Delos today. He and his boat are from Polyaigos and they have graciously allowed us to travel, for a price'' he says with some mirth with the man soundlessly mans the large oars by himself. It takes a lot of strength to pull the oars and Voreas seems to be such a person; however the boat seems to sail too fast and too smoothly despite the choppy early breeze. Soon it is apparent to you that the boat has been enchanted with magic, spells and enchantments for sailing fast and safely. It is in top condition even though its evident it has seen heavy use. Polyaigos must be a very powerful covenant indeed if they can commit resources in such small boats. On the other hand though, one of the most known covenants of the Tribunal is Favonius, the floating Covenant. That one is a flotilla of ships sailing the Aegean.
[tab][/tab] The boat heads north and out into the open sea, skirting around Mykonos and leaving all island life behind. The wind makes the sea white capped with small waves, but that is not a problem for your boat, it seems a radius around has calm waters allowing it to sail unhindered at fast speeds. Your rower says not one word, does not even acknowledge your presence, he must be mute or something and Anastaj intervenes if anyone tries to communicate, telling you not to pester him. Soon you see a land mass on the horizon, a small oblong island or small height, just a hump of a hill and long beaches. Your boat is guided expertly along the western side , entering the blue waters surrounding the island. Anastaj wakes up Ioannes and admonishes you to remember: no killing here, not even animals. Your seaward approach reveals ruins of structures on the island and white glimpses of that looks like marble constructs. Indeed there are marble pillars and statues lying shattered and mutilated by time, even inside the waters. It is indeed an island of forgotten gods.
[tab][/tab] You make landfall on a small protected harbor where other ships and boats have thrown anchors. Voreas beaches the boat and helps you unload, then points inland. Anastaj is already heading for a narrow, well-traveled path urging you impatiently to follow. Dry and dusty with parched vegetation, it seems only partridges and the occasional rabbit live here. And yet from the moment you put foot on soil you can sense a pulse of energy coursing thought the land, the living beat of a heart. This is a place full or ruins and memories, the birthplace of the twin gods, Apollo and Artemis, the moving island of Delos.
[tab][/tab] The path is well defined though dusty, many feet have traveled it for aeons. You pass through different kinds of ruins, old dilapidated houses that caved in, ruined temples, an ancient avenue lined with heavily eroded statues of white lions, though marble columns and fallen arches towards the hill, where an semi-permanent village has been erected for the use of visitors. Even though there are so many marvels to behold, a kind of restlessness descends upon you, not satisfied to stand around one place for a time you need to move. Its a dis concerning feeling. While nearing the temporary accommodations you will be using for your stay, you glimpse a young woman watching you from the ruins of some shrine on top of a rise a quarter of a mile away. Dressed in antique clothing and carrying a very large bow, she seems not at all hindered by the distance between herself and you, scrutinizing each with a sharp, experienced gaze. Then she turns and is lost between the rubble....

[Delos has a magical aura of 3, that imposes the personality trait Restless +1, even on magi. That goes up to +2 on higher values of the aura. Lots of places have a faery aura, most notably the various temples, shrines and places dedicated to the gods. There are a lot of regios of both types in the island. In fact you entered one just before going to the lodges, passing though a ruined archway]