"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."
1205 Fall - Trouble with Telsbergs
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.
At the first opportunity, Clusius summarizes the exchange with Agnes to the other magi to the best of his recollection, solliciting their opinions about the situation.
"It seems to me like she is seeking to undermine her father, probably to her own husband and children's advantage. I tried to give her as little information as possible, at least until we can get a better idea of the situation."
"It might be worth trying to trace the source of the mushroom, perhaps by using it as an arcane connection, to determine where it is located. If we could harvest it ourselves, it could be a valuable addition while avoiding Agnes using it as a bargaining tool."
Regulus taps his fingers on the table while thinking.
"It makes all the more urgent for us to know what Burgraff Telsberg is going to ask. It also seems to me that she has someone watching her father, if she knew he sent a letter, but not someone close enough to know it's contents, or she would know no request was made yet."
"As for the vis, I agree. If she has nothing to give us we won't be tempted to give anything to her, and our chances of being accused of interference diminish."
"In addition" says Regulus after thinking for some time ((OOC: and after I have had a good night of sleep)) "we should try to find the person who harvested the vis. If he is an hermetic magus, we don't want to be accused of deprivation. If not, we must decide how to deal with him."
A few days go by. Eventually a servant approaches Clusius when the magus steps out of his lab.
"Master, would you like to bring a gift for the Brugraff next Tuesday? I think we have some fine objects that could catch his eye, if it's alright I can ask mister Julius to chose something fitting from the warehouse."
(OOC: 1205, November 1st, Tuesday.)
"That is an excellent idea! Could you ask Julius to select three or four items?" Clusius asks. "I'll look them over and make the final choice."
In the evening Clusius is led to a small galery, to which Julius has brought three items. In the center stands a painting of the valley. An angel (who suspiciously looks a bit like Leonardus) indicates the place of the soon-to-be covenant to a traveler (who also looks like Leonardus). To the right, a hunting horn ornate with silver. The last item, to the left, is one of Clusius best clay sculptures.
The steward briefly introduces the background of the painting and the horn. The first was commissioned by Leonardus a few years after he found the valley. The painting is unfinished (the water stream is missing). The angel indicating the place is the way the painter interpreted Leonardus' inspiration. As for the horn, it was a gift from a baron with lands close to Triamore, who expected Leonardus to accompany him more often in his hunts. As far as Julius know, Leonardus has never used it for any purpose.
Julius remains silent about the sculpture, as it requires no clarification on it's origins.
Clusius ponders the question for a few moments. He quickly decides against the painting, as leaving such a clue as to the location of the covenant in mundane hands seems unwise.
In the end, he says, "Let us go with the hunting horn. I think that will probably appeal to a mundane lord more than a sculpture would. I am also m not vain enough to believe mundanes will see it as anything special."
Turning to a different subject, he asks Julius, "Have we identified who should accompany me to see the Burggraff? If we have someone who is familiar with the local nobility, or at least talented in social settings, that would be useful to have. I'll need a few obvious guards, but not too many. Two or three, no more."
(OOC Does any one has a mundane character they'd like to involve in the story?)
Riding sedately on the approaches to Telsberg Keep, Clusius remembers his mater's comments about the propser etiquette of leading a mounted group. If one was a member of the lower nobility and leading a small troupe of riders, one should lead the group so as to avoid being subjected to the dust raised by the other horses. It was only when the troupe was heading into dangerous territory that he should ride in the middle.
He gives a glance to the handful of mundanes following him. Louis and Eustache were comfortable in the saddle, their experience showing. Klaus seemed less at ease, for before Clusius' arrival the covenant's grogs hadn't trained with horses much. Peter the cook defenitively seemed ill at ease atop his mare, even if she was the least feisty of the horses. The cook had insisted he should come along, as he needed to obtain some supplies for the covenant -- and he apparently had family at the keep, but he had never ridden in his whole life.
The path to the keep was well-travelled, if on the narrow side. The keep loomed above.
As the group approaches the keep and makes clear their purpose to meet the Burgraff, what Clusius notices most is the wary eyes. At every turn the group is stopped, the guards demanding their credentials once again, leaving to double-check with their superiors once again. After waiting an unnecessarily long time at the walls of the keep proper, a man suddenly appears. He seems a bit out of breath, but tries his best to make it seem something trivial.
"Thank you all, but we shouldn't delay our guests. I'll assume from here."
The guard gives you all another look before allowing the group to pass, and the man guides you to the courtyard. He is tall, maybe thirty years old, with a large forehead and a strong jaw, his hair with just a few strands of white.
"Forgive my late introduction. I'm Guido, the steward of the keep. I'm sorry for the delay in getting you through the gates. Our guards are instructed to be careful."
Appointing someone to cater for your horses and making sure you are well and not too tired from the travel Guido starts speaking in High German, but as soon as he notices Clusius accent he changes to a reasonable French. He is fast, judicious and efficient, and you can't help but recall what Klaus told you, in the best Latin he could muster, while trying hard not to fall from his horse:
"Burgraff Otto Telsberg, not seen much since his wife died. Two... three years. Old man, some say lived too much. Good lord. Before you back, everyone afraid he dies and family takes your manor. You here, we fell more safe. Some say he dies soon. Others, he strong as horse. None knows."
"Things managed by only son, Rudolph. Some say he almost as bad as Otto good, but you didn't hear from me. Thanks God merciful we also have Guido. Guido right hand Otto. Good, competent. Otto thinks, Guido already did. Guido and Rudolph together might work and we have good life. But also good life now master Clusius here, better life, I'm sure."
"Thank you, Guido," replies Clusius, initially in German but switching to French when the steward does, "my name is Quentin de l'Écluse and I am the grandson of Leonardus. As Leonardus' heir, I have assumed leadership for his holdings in Chastellion, and received the Burgraff' summons to present myself to him."
"I could not help but notice that the guards seemed unusually tense about visitors. I hope everything is well?"
When you ask about the guards, Guido smiles and diverts the topic... but you do sense that there was something else besides the effects of your Gift working.
You are guided to a small but comfortable room.
"I will inform the Burgraff of your arrival. How should I announce your presence?"
"Will all of your men accompany you?"
OOC: the original summons requested Clusius presence "on All Saints Day, or the week before". When is Clusius going? I might change a couple of things depending on the answer.
All Saints Day: It's an Obligation Day. Based on the previous year (he wasn't there, but he is aware of what happened) Clusius can expect a Mass, then a small feast, and the presence of a few more guests. It will also be possible to get a broader picture of the Telsberg.
The week before: a more intimate meeting, fewer people. You will get a narrower focus on the family, but this might allow a more indepth conversation with the people present.
Also, regardless of the exact date, I'd appreciate if you could give me an Etiquette roll to determine what would be the proper time to arrive. Too early might come off as subservient and inconvenient, while too late might come off as disrespectful.
(Of course, if you do intend to get there early or late we can also go with that).
Actually, let's go with a Pre+Etiquette roll for the whole "first impression", shall we? Time of arrival, clothes, proper tone when speaking, etc.
Pre 0 + Etiquette 2 (including specialty with nobility) + die roll... 0! So total of either 2 or 12.
If it's a stress roll (I am assuming it is), the check for botch yields a 6. So no botch at least...
note that I understood the "or the week before" as anytime within a week before. So my inclination would have been to show up a few days before All Saints Day (let's say 2 days), for the following reasons:
- Avoid the crowd of All Saints Day, since Clusius has a normal Gift.
- Coming a week before might indeed seem too subservient
- Arriving between those two dates might be inconvenient for Otto, but is also a bit unpredictable for unfriendly forces, so anyone watching for Clusius' arrival may be caught off-guard
- It may also give him a chance to confer with the Burgraff without too much interference from Agnes -- or Rudolph, for that matter
Of course, my die roll may give Clusius a different opinion on the matter. But it's either quite good or very bad. So Clusius shows up 2 days before All Saints Day.
Oh, don't worry. You are not going to escape Rudolph. In fact...
2 is almost as bad as it can be (it was stressed, indeed). Guido leaves your group alone for a couple of minutes to inform Otto of your arrival. I can only imagine that Clusius is too anxious to act properly when a burly man enters the room a quarter of hour later. He looks at you with a condescending look and waits for the a greeting that fails to arrive in time, upsetting him.
The man is about 30 years old. A strong body that one gets only after many hours with a sword in hand; a round belly that denounces his excessive comfort; hair almost the same color as Agnes, a bit darker; and a set of very dark eyes.
You remember very well the description Klaus gave you of Rudolph Telsberg — which makes the frantic look the grog is giving you all but unnecessary.
The grog does his best to salvage the situation (and rolls very well!). The man knows when to take the fall: he asks for your forgiveness for distracting you from such an important host, and it ends up seeming that you failed to greet Rudolph because of Klaus. Which... doesn't really seem to have solved much.
"Soooo..... you arrived, huh?" says Rudolph. Clearly not concerned with politeness.
OOC: Expected that the die roll was bad. Of course, Clusius doesn't know that, but he's also aware that his knowledge of how nobility acts is lacking, despite the efforts of his mater. The result is that I intend to roleplay the bad die roll. I'll purposefully have him fumble through the interaction until you let me know that he's dug himself a deep enough roll -- or that it's time for me to make another roll for him. Perhaps he'll have an "Eureka!" moment when he realizes the mistakes he's made. Until then...
Clusius is tempted to react to Rudolph's lack of courtesy with equal lack of grace, but decide against it. Instead, he tries to mollify the noble.
Speaking in his somewhat broken Swiss*, he bows slightly, "My apologies for not saluting, Lord Rudolph. My first time at Telsberg Keep, and much caught attention mine. Took me a moment to recognize you, from descriptions. Hope this day finds you well? I am Quentin de L'Ecluse, grandson of Leonardus."
*High German (Swiss) 3
"Not as well as it could" he says in a tenor voice and looks around.
"Guido let you all inside? Where is he?" You get a bit of animosity when he mentions Guido.
Forgot to answer that question by Guido. Still roleplaying the bad roll, so Clusius would indicate that yes, his men will accompany him.
"Yes, he greet us when we arrive. He say wait here, be back soon."