During which representatives from the covenant are summoned by the head of the Telsberg family, who wishes to meet the Heir of Leonardus.
A knight has arrived in the village of Chastellion. He deposited a letter, and then somewhat gruffly returned to his own holdings. The letter, by fits and starts, makes its way to the covenant a few hours later, carried by people from the village. It is addressed to “The heir of Leonardus” and bears the seal of the Burggraf of Telesburg.
When opened, it bears a neat, practised handwriting. The carefully formed words show someone who has spent long hours copying and writing in church latin.
“Greetings from Burggraf Telesburg and salutations to the scholars of the valley, and to the heir of Leonardus.
It has been many years since I saw fit to patronise your esteemed father, and allow the construction of your site. Since he had done me some small favours, he had my favour and permission to settle in the lands which belong by right of inheritance and law to my house and myself, by the grace of god.
I am pleased that he seems to have raised a son as scholarly as himself, and thus enrich my holdings with a chance for me and my line to similarly patronise you.
Since you have been rendered permission to gain the rents from my patronage, it would, however, be right and just for you to present yourself to me such that I can favour you by legally confirming the rights I graciously extended to your father.
I shall expect you at on all saints day, or the week before.
[[what, you don't want to bring along the albino with the blatant gift? what could go wrong?
I don't mind not appearing, it's all good. I'll read and enjoy.]]
In the days following to the arrival of the Telsberg invitation, the covenfolk from Tugurium make the following reports:
- The talk about the incident in the cave has finally started to dim.
- Lucille, the washerwoman, has complained about "a feeling of being watched".
- Regulus' servant was found stealing... again.
- A few village hunters are afraid of a beast in the woods. This might be related to Wolfgang's... friend.
- There is a shortage of leafy greens due to the bad weather, but the cook says he will manage it somehow.
- Levi, the carpenter, has fallen ill. He swears he is going to die, but his wife says it's just a cold.
((OOC: these might, or might not, be related to the current story. Most are just color. However, if anyone wants to develop them into full fledged hooks, make yourself comfortable. =] ))
About a week after the arrival of the burgraff's message, around October 15th, a small retinue arrives at Tugurium. The leader of this group is a woman in her forties, seemingly of noble birth who claims to be Agnes von Sogern, the lady of Sogern Keep. She is followed by a few servants and would like to speak with the lord of the manor.
(I should be able to reply next week)
"What?!? But, but, what are they doing here?"
When the news of Agnes' arrival reaches Quintus Clusius, the young magus is almost taken by panic. This was not how things were done! What did she want? He looks down in dismay at himself, with a dirty tunics stained with his work rearranging his lab. What should he wear?
Getting hold of his emotions, he tells the servant who brought him the news, "Please, have Agnes and her retinue offered refreshments while I prepare myself. And water for the horses. Have them shown to the small hall, to get them out of the sun. Not the horses, just the people!"
"And tell Julius to come see me in my quarters! Quick now!"
When Julius arrives in Clusius' quarters, he is looking at two sets of clothing laid upon his bed -- his more elaborate magus robes, which he hasn't worn for a while, and a simpler tunic and surcoat combination, which is neither has rich nor new. He'd just decided upon the second when the steward arrives. He quickly explains the situation, unaware that Julius has already learned of this from the servant who fetched him.
"Can you let the other magi know of this Agnes' arrival? I will be greeting her in the small hall, if any of them want to join me. Tell them to keep magis out of sight, please?"
Maybe half an hour has passed when Clusius finally enters the hall where Agnes and her retinue are waiting.
As Clusius enters the hall he finds a woman seated in a comfortable chair. A few feet behind her, a lady of company waits; at her side a strong man stares attentively (is that fear or concern in his eyes?) at Clusius. To the left Clusius can see a young boy, maybe fifteen, holding a box respectfully in both of his hands.
The seated woman, who is unmistakenly Agnes von Sogern, seems to have just reached her forties. She wears a headdress, but a few strands of auburn hair escape from under the white fabric. She and the retinue are dressed mostly in in red and white, and a golden crucifix can be seen in her chest. Agnes seems a bit surprised as she rises from her seat.
"Forgive me for staring, I didn't expect the lord of the manor to be so young. I am Agnes, wife of Werner von Sogern. You have a very... interesting manor, mister."
"I have come unannounced due to a most urgent matter. I hope you take no offense."
A quick look is enough to determine that Agnes is quite proud – and you can't help but notice she didn't really apologized. It doesn't seem, however, that she is trying to antagonize you. She looks at Clusius intently, as if evaluating him.
(OOC I am assuming that Agnes is adressing Clusius in High German.)
Clusius has regained some of his composure by the time he enters the hall and approaches Agnes. His German is still heavily accented with French as he answers. "Of course, of course, lady Agnes. I am Quentin de l'Écluse, grand son of he who built the manor. My family, they tell me to come here and lead this manor."
"Yes, your arrival not expected. Offense no, but surprise. Please be seated and tell what bring you here. Urgent matter, you say?"
Clusius tries to be as courteous as his limited grasp of etiquette allows.
(OOC: High German, yes. My bad.)
After sitting again, Agnes goes directly to the point.
"Mister Quentin, thanks for receiving me in such circunstances. I'd very much like to have a proper conversation with you when the time allows, but for today I won't waste your time with small pleasantries."
"I was warned by a trusted friend that a few days ago you received an invitation from my father. I know your esteemed grandfather and the burgraff have certain... arrangements... and I understand that the burgraff has asked you for support. Of the kind your grandfather gave him years ago. However, I'm afraid that this time, my father has been ill advised on his request. He is old, and his mind is not as sharp as it once was."
"I ask you, as a daughter worried about her father, that you refrain from indulging him."
Clusius takes a moment to digest Agnes' statement before answering her.
"I understand concern for your father," says Clusius, "but he is still Burgraff, is not? I have to answer summon from him. I know not details of arrangements between him and grand father. But courtesy for me to listen to him and request from him. How I answer is not known yet. Depends on what he asks. But hear him I must."
Agnes grabs the cross in her chest for a few seconds before replying.
"If all my father did was summon you, then it is not my place to stop you from visiting him. And while I know I shouldn't pry into the matters between a lord and his vassal, I must ask that if he makes any request, you consult me before giving your answer."
"Don't think of it as a betrayal. You would be protecting his interests."
"I consider what you say carefully," Clusius says prudently, without really agreeing with the request but also without closing the door completely.
She seems to consider that this suffices, at least for now, and starts to give signs that she is ready to go.
"Thanks once again for receiving me, mister Quentin, and for hearing me out. Before returning to Sogern, I would like to present you a gift. I heard scholars like you appreciate natural wonders. Think of this both as an apology for my sudden appearance and a reminder of how much I would appreciate our friendship."
She makes a gesture, and the young boy approaches. As she commands "open it" the boy raises the lid of the box, revealing what at first glance seems like a mummified hand. A more careful look reveals that it only resembles a hand. The surface of the object seems porous, it's long finger-like appendices lacking joints.
While retreating just a bit she adds "the man who found this told me that it was collected according to all the required auspicious signs".
"Really? Interesting object," says Clusius as rises to look at the content of the box without touching it. "Did man say where he found? Things like this of interest to me and my friends, correct."
She gives a faint smile.
"I'm not sure, but I will ask. Maybe I can tell you more about it when you visit me, after meeting my father?"
Agnes rises from her chair. The boy closes the box and offers it to the nearest servant.
"For now I have already imposed too much on you. Next time I shall send a note before visiting."
The servant looks a bit nervous about taking the box, but after a nod from Clusius she accepts it.
For his part, Quentin accompanies Agnes as she makes her departure. "Yes, perhaps we see each other soon. When visit your father."
"Yes, send note when you want see us. Perhaps we come to you, better? You important lady. I not always... here? How you say... disponible?" The last word is said in French.
"I'm not sure if I will be there, but maybe we have the chance."
"That would be... 'available', I think? By the way, you speak a magnificent German."
Agnes keeps exchanging small pleasantries with Clusius while they walk, occasionally touching the cross. The muscular man that accompanied Agnes to the hall keeps an eye at Clusius through the way, and seems relieved when they reach the horses and the lady finally climbs her carriage.
As the retinue gains distance it startles a black bird, as the horses pass by the trees along the creek. The stream of water glitters. The sky is clear. Except for the sudden visit, it's a nice day.
On the following days:
- Lucille still complains of being watched
- Levi, the carpenter, asks that his mallet is taken to his older brother in Basel if he dies. His wife threatens to end his life with the mallet if he doesn't tone it down.
- Till the moment the cook has done a bad job in managing the shortage of greens. Maybe next week will be better.
- Further examination reveals the "mummified hand" to be a fungus, containing a single pawn of Perdo.