[tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab]of Things Left Too Long Buried
Participants: Aristocles, Pavo, Raven, sir Georgios, Maia grogs aplenty, too drank to do anything (just the magi and companions)
[tab][/tab]Fall. The time of harvest, the time of festivals, when grapes and olives and summer wheat are brought in and the days grow short. After the long, dry heat the first autumn rains bring relief and respite from the daily toils. It is a good opportunity to take a breather, to feast and drink, make merry and sleep under the stars.
[tab][/tab] Late September, and the mountains still don the sway of summer, even though the few early rains gave new greening to the slopes. The rivers that are at their lowest will soon overflow when October the rain month enters. For now though it is the time of the trout and the tiny Vlach village of Litoniavista is famed for its trout fair. Situated on the western slopes of Tymfi, the villagers of this settlement move down the mountain to their side of the valley, and in a cleared space near the river they hold a day of feasting in honor of the tasty fish. This local affair brings forth people from surrounding villages, including Konita, and sometimes travelers from the former imperial outpost of Aristi or even Ioannina join the festivities. Monks from the two nearby monasteries come with packs and small barrels, to sell wine, pungent cheese and honey of their own making, or a sacred hagiography or two.
[tab][/tab] Several of the covenfolk are excited, mainly for a chance to buy a late season gift or trinket, and have gotten permission to make the trek and participate. Some magi think that they too should take part in the festivities, to learn more about their new home and its people, and who knows maybe they will find something interesting in the process. Most though go for the cheap wine and well seasoned trout dishes available. You make a party and gather in front of the rotunda on this Friday morning and have the teamsters take you down the mountain.....
Raven will enjoy the scenery as they head down the mountain.
Pavo will have oiled his hair and dressed in fine robes before setting off to a festival. He places a small bag with a few coins in for the journey and a spare tunic (in case of sudden need for clothes) on to whatever wagon or pack animal the grogs are taking.
"Time to find out what our mountain cousins enjoy", he cheerfully says.
Maia will have combed and recombed her hair furiously, hopefully has had her clothes washed/refurbished, and will dress as well as she may (in her case simple and clean clothing), she hopes to impress Pavo (yeah right!), if not some other compatible young men at the fair. She also hopes to see her father, perhaps he has made the trek down! She will still be carving a wooden figurine, she has to consciously stop herself from carving Pavo's likeness.
Aristocles wears his travelling clothes and packs his best robes to change in to once they arrive. He will take as much money as Astaji will allow him with a view to buying exceptional quality items for enchantment if available. He will pass the time in conversation with the the magi getting to know each of them better as best he can.
Sir Georgios looks his normal self, battle-scarred and ugly-looking, and dressed for riding. As usual, he brings his two horses, one for himself and one for arms and armour, and a change of clothes.
[tab][/tab] Your small caravan departs in high spirits, carefully going downhill your little crag, the spell of ripening apples filling the air. You are sure that plenty a tummy ache that plagues the covenant kids is the result of over eating the wild fruits. Still the smell does something to lighten the mood until you reach down into the Vikos Gorge. Something changes there, conversations end and people tread on with lower heads. This is a wild, holy place where man is not welcome it seems. Up one hill and down the next and that feeling is left behind, to be replaced by the view of the Konita valley and the Aoos river snaking to the north, the smell of dust, manure and dry leaves heavy in the nostrils. It will take some time to reach the bottom of the valley and the small fair grounds.
[tab][/tab] Aristocles has a small pouch with monies given to him by Anastaj. When he asked the old man, the Vlach just looked at him for a minute or two, with mouth slightly open, then nodded twice and shuffled off to get the money, muttering under his breath ''This is a fair not the Grand bazaar of Damascus....''. He did give some money at least. The ladies are being taken care off (not that they need or want to), while Pavo is his usual splendid self. The whole procession is guided by the gruff knight, who seems to have earned the respect of the covenfolk at least. The magi are still mistrusted it seems.
[tab][/tab] It is some hours of walking or riding down the mountains in fair if a bit hot weather. While it would be easier to follow the river, the path goes past the bridge to Papigo all the way to the former Imperial outpost of Aristi. Under the watchful eyes of the soldiers manning the barricade, your party turns northwards towards the junction of the two rivers. To your right the Vikos gorge is hidden by a smaller portion of the mountain, while on the other side Tymfi rises higher. You could see the smoke from the Litoniavista village somewhere up there, and a glimpse or two of the monasteries. It is a trek and there are other people on the road going to the fair, though they give you respectful breadth seeing people with weapons.
[tab][/tab] At last you reach your destination. First you hear music, more like a cacophony of pipes and a beating of the gypsy drums. It seems a koumpania is also present, ready to entertain (and probably do some illicit activities too). For those of you used to town life, this is a pitifully small affair, barely the size of a market. Yet there is energy and merriment aplenty, with people from all over the surrounding villages in their best clothing. Small shops are set up on tables lining the road on each side, while a large cleared area behind them is left for tables of food, wine and a stage for folk dancing later in the day. There is a small pen for animals near a watering hole, while a large awning for the womenfolk is erected under some shade. The feeling is cozy and rustic and frankly quite smelly of goat, cheese and wine....
(Maia's father lives on the other side of the mountain. It would take him hours just to get here, he probably doesn't care about fish either)
On the way down Aristocles will cast the spell the Miners Keen Eye (almost certainly 1 fatigue loss) for iron ore and keep concentration as long as he can. Who knows he may just get lucky?
Raven is likely dressed somewhat strangely to the people of the village, although its quite normal for a mundane young woman from the covenant were she grew up. A heavy tunic goes down almost to her knees, and a heavy skirt covers the rest of her legs. She wears solid boots on her feet. On top of that she has a tough leather coat, its loose sleeves going down just past her hands, and the coat itself going down to her calves. It has pockets sewn on the inside. She has her head covered by a cloth, although some black hair peeks out of it in front of her face.
When they reach the fair she goes to the side of the knight and asks (in Latin) for a bit of assistance. <<What do you think would be a good gift for Asad? Where do you even start looking? I've never done this sort of shopping before.>>
Pavo starts browsing the stalls politely, and will purchase a drink for himself and the grogs. He will then see what entertainments the koumpania is offering.
Aristocles will browse the stalls to see what is on offer and if there is any fine workmanship displayed. He will not attempt to buy anything at this stage.
The knight looks desperately around for a place to leave the horse. The last hints from Anastaj about the size of this event, probably led him to downsize his pack, and go with one horse only. With no obviously appropriate solution in sight, he decides to tie to tie it to a tree just outside the fair. It is good that the fair is so small that he can just about see the horse from anywhere.
«No, indeed,» he smiles to Raven's (Anna's?) question. «You should not expect to find anything exceptional on these fairs, and certainly not if you are looking for anything in particular. Most of the goods are just run of the mill, ranging from almost decent to definitely shoddy, and I would not use that as a gift, whether it is wine or a knife or cheese. But there might just be a master artisan in between with some work of quality. Better look for that truly exquisite piece, before you decide whether the gift should be flute or a new garment, or whatever.» He offers her his arm, if that's an appropriate medieval and Greek thing to do. «Let's go and see. The hunt is always exciting.»
[tab][/tab] The country fair is lively, with music and food and wine. There are merchandise being sold or traded all around, and most people are in their best clothes. In fact under the awning there is a spot where the traditional female dancers have started dressing up, behind discreet curtains. Their costumes, rustic and handed down generations, are in very good condition, with accessories in gold. They will be taking part in the folk dances later on. The stalls sell mostly foodstuff or beverages. There are a couple of them featuring animal tack, accessories like bells, harnesses or horseshoes. A wood carver displays his wares, mostly walking and shepherd sticks from light golden brown to dark, almost black, woods. He also has cups, dishes, small ornaments and trinkets, even some shepherds and pan flutes, all his own good work. Two merchants from Ioannina have erected an awning selling cloth and leather goods brought up from the coast. Though there are few readily made jerkins and shoes, mostly they deal with dyed linen and wool cloth bolts and large pieces of treated leather. A 'jeweller' sells small ornaments for women, mostly trinkets out of glass in copper, bronze or iron, with the rarer pieces of silver and gold guarded at the back. A whole section has the traditional 'mati', glazed ceramic and glass pieces to ward off the evil eye. The koumpania perform in music and acrobatics, have a spot for a ganotis to mend metals pieces, and a (fake?) fortune teller reads palms and predicts futures for copper coins.
[tab][/tab] Aristocles is watchful for metals the whole trip. His companions certainly have iron on them, especially the knight. As expected, he find the spell's effectiveness limited by the undergrowth and trees. His vision shows sporadically pieces of iron on the path (broken nails and buckles, the tip of a discarded knife, even a horseshoe dropped off to the side), the elusive veins that would signify mineral wealth never appear. Some lines of thin deposits on rocks are all he can glean. The two hours trip makes him slightly dizzy from concentration and he wisely drops the spell when their group approaches the fair; too many moving iron things around. Raven marvels at the new sights the village people offer her. It is the first time she has taken part in a country fair and its a delight to her. Her apparel is not that strange but certainly of better quality than the folk here, and quite a few men look at her appraisingly, politely taking off their caps and nodding a greeting. They avoid her though once they take a look at the knight, and some of them seem to recognise him, with some murmuring following him. Sir Giorgos takes his horse with the other animals in the small pen near the waterhole, where it towers over the mules and scraggy peasant horses. He can indeed see it from anywhere. To him, this is a very small affair. He has seen the grand market in the City of Cities, and grew up sampling the Ippodromio feasts and the great fairs of Constantinople. He guides and protects Raven in her search. Pavo on the other hand is the center of attention. The handsome young man is dashing and he makes an impression. More importantly, he buys drinks for the grogs too! They seem to be thankful and appreciative.
[tab][/tab] The covenfolk have dispersed and are enjoying the fair. People sample foodstuff here and there, making up for a light lunch, and the flow of the fair grows as the sun rises. It is past midday when a grog working for the covenant approaches you....
Pavo will toy with the fake fortune teller, confident that even if they do have any ability it can't penetrate his Parma Magica. He will cross their palm with a copper denarius and see if he is predicted to meet a beautiful stranger (which is hardly surprising, Pavo is expecting he could be lucky in love today if he puts his mind to it).
After this, he will see a grog approaching his companions and walk over to find out what they're talking about.
Aristocles turns his attention to the grog who is obviously wanting to speak to the group.
Raven manages to find and pay for a particularly well made pair of boots that she knows are the right size. She continues shopping, but doesn't really find anything. When the Grog approaches he waits for him to speak.
Sir Georgios browses every stall. He moves swiftly past the shoddy stuff, and takes his time inspecting occasional items in between. He is not planning to buy anything, but when he finds something he likes, he shows it to Raven. The stop at the monks' stall becomes a long one. He admires the beauty of the icons, and the scholarship and piety of the hagiographies they sell. He cannot afford anything like it at the minute, and is very apologetic about it. He does, however, buy some cheese and wine from the monastory to bring home to the unfortunate grogs who were not allowed to join, after carefully smelling the goods to verify the quality. Before he leaves the stall, he asks them if they bind and illuminate books for a fee. He has one or two which are still in loose leaves.
When the grog waves for them all, he excuses himself to the stall holder and turns to meet him.
Maia is saving up her money for items for the road (boots, cloaks, a good knife), perhaps some little gewgaw for her father. She has enough money to get by, but not much more than that. Still, she'll be on the lookout for rumors, particularly as they pertain to news about the Despotate, maybe about useful specialists, and what people think about Meru Mudi. She will also engage in light conversation with Raven mostly, but will force herself to engage with Aristocles and Pavo as well; their Gifts bother her, but she knows what is going on, and they are both highly charismatic. She's not the most skilled socially, but she can bargain a bit.
She will probably still be trying to gather her wits to engage with Pavo once more when the grog approaches, she will stroll slowly in his direction, listening intently.
[tab][/tab] There is food, wine and some entertainment while people deal with their shopping and trading before the fair gets into the evening serious feasting and folk dances. Pavo pays the fortune-teller, who tells him of great deeds, serious threats vanquished and vague (but beautiful) romantic interests. He notices that the woman is apprehensive of him and there are other suspicious looking gypsies nearby (wisely he keeps a tight grip on his money pouch). Raven buys a pair of stout sheepskin boots, good quality but expensive while sir Georgios converses with the monks at the monastery booth. He is slightly disappointed that these are peasant monks, not learned individuals of scholastic pursuits. They are however interested in him, and his learned ways, asking where he comes from and maybe he should visit their monastery. Maia has her ear to the ground for news; there is war in the east, with battles won. It seems the new ruler successfully rebuffed two attacks by the Latins, while on the other side of the Aegean the 'other' contestant for the Imperial throne is pressing them. Bad luck messing with royals and porfyri they say. This year was a dry year, people expect the price of olives and cheese to go up. And as for the covenant, people have heard of a reclusive refuge of some kind built deep inside the mountains but not more. It seems Meru Mudi is not that known around, people are curious and ask Maia about it. By now the covenfolk have dispersed, finding relatives and friends and your grogs have gravitated towards the food and wine. Which is a bit strange when a member of your delegation motions for your attention in seriousness.
[tab][/tab] Dinos (nickname for Konstantinos) is one of the guards on leave who came down with you. He wants to inform you of something he just heard from a nephew of his. Gathering whomever will listen on the meadow away from the fair, he quietly recounts what he has gleaned from a child of around ten summers that hovers around but at a distance from your party. ''My nephew, Tolis, is a good lad from the village of Tservari, to the south of here on the mountain behind our place. He followed his pa, my in-law, and my pa who are going towards Konita as we speak to talk to the priest there. The kid says that he was out roaming in the valley with a friend, another relative of mine, my brother-in-law's, cousin's wife's nephew twice removed . His friend went too close to one of those weird, round hills and in a gulch behind it, he stumbled into another of those stone lions. They be bad luck those stones. Sometimes nothing happens, others the souls of the dead get up and take revenge on the living. They be a warning, the old ones left them behind to guard the mounds'' Dinos spits on the side to ward off the bad luck. ''Anyway... my pa and my in-law will talk to the priest and they will be probably taking him to bless the area tomorrow. Its good to do this kind of things, to avoid evil and appease the spirits. But... I worry. I have heard of other times such blessings have gone wrong, when ghosts became enraged, and these are my folk going here'' He looks at the young boy who is nervously shifting from one leg to the other. '' I do not want anything happening, you know? So... I was thinking maybe you sirs (and Ladies!) could take a looksie mind you. Just to be safe that nothing untoward happens? I'd hate for pa and priest to see me fret, they no like me taking this job....anyway, best I reckon we should just, you know... investigate the lion or such today, before the blessing'' he trails off, part anxious and part hopeful....
[Those that have such skills, please roll Area Lore (Epirus, Greece or something more local to that effect) vs 9. Artes Liberales vs 15. Philosophiae vs 12 (each result named with the skill, rolled with Int)]
A/L Constantinople 1+ roll 2 + Int 5 = 8 vs 9 = fail
Artes Liberales 1 + roll 3 + Int 5 = 9 vs 15 = fail
Philosophae 4 + roll 4 + Int 5 = 13 vs 12 = Success by 1