Alba nodded with a feeling of relief. Then she and Stella followed the archmaga inside the building.
The young maga looked around with curiosity before she looked to Jacinta again.
She got a little red, when she deducted that the letter was from Phillipus.
"Oh, yes, its from him. He said that you didn't replied his letters, so he contacted us." - she explained - "I-I don't know him... so I don't really know how he is. And since I'm very bad judging people I just try look to the good side of everybody since at the end of the day we all have flaws..." - she added looking again at the letter into her hands - "But I can't understand how someone can send a letter with words crossed out... It doesn't look good, at least."
Jacinta proposed postponing the conversation to the next day and letting Alba rest.
At that moment, Alba seemed to deflate as she became conscious of her own fatigue.
"I wish that tomorrow you are still as alive as today." - she said, but then she thought about it - "Well... I suppose that it's not really possible to be as alive as today, since each day we are all a little closer to be dead... B-but well, I can wish for you to being tomorrow, and for more days if its possible, alive enough to now be... dead." - she got red when she noticed that she was being quirky again - S-so... y-yes, I would love to take a bath and rest a little. Thank you." - she answered at least to the proposal, trying to leave the previous topic behind - "Oh! I would like to ask you a thing before I forget if its not a problem... Before you mentioned Icarus, which I assume is your familiar, and you insisted that we not eat him... we... we don't want to eat Icarus, but there is a reason for it being such a threat? It's Icarus specially delicious looking?" - the mental image of a magical living sausage crossed Alba's mind - "Or its maybe that Icarus is so small that we could eat him by accident? Like.. a fly maybe?"
"You are just overthinking things." - said Stella to Alba.
OOC: And now, a simple roll I think that its my first official roll in-game, lets see if it brings some good fortune xD
"Icarus is a crow, and my familiar, yes. You probably won't be eating it by accident, but I figured a small warning was good just in case."
"But I will be keeping an eye on you, Stella."
Jacinta calls for Anabella's presence and the servant quickly appears. The maga instructs Anabella to cater to your needs, bringing you supper and then leading you to a guest room. She won't be joining you, sice she still needs to finish a few things in her lab.
The food which Anabella brings you tastes awfully bland, and it would be impossible to discern what you are eating if you couldn't see the cheese wheel, bread and fruits. Afterwards you are brought to a small guest room, which seems to have never been used before, given it's state. It's crumped, moldy, dusty and damp, all at once.
"If you want a bath, there's a water barrel outside."
Anabella and Jacinta leave you to your designs (Anabella shows you where is the barrel and waits for you if needed before retiring), and you are not bothered until the next morning.
You wake up after a warm night. The room was not comfortable, that's sure.
After serving you breakfast (as bland as everything else you have tasted here so far) you are invited by Jacinta to her sanctum to continue the conversation of the previous day. You have heard before that one shouldn't thread careless into other magi sancta, since a few (especially the old ones) are often overly protective of their personal space and research. On the other hand, until now you have felt no animosity from Jacinta, and this is a unique chance to get a glimpse on the lab of a powerful maga. Maybe this might bring you some insight towards the design of your own lab?
You look at Stella, probing for her opinion, and she simply shrugs. It seems this is going to be Alba's call.
"Hey! You..." - Stella started to say in an angry tone, when Alba quickly intervened.
"D-don't worry about Stella, I can assure you that she will behave." - Alba said quickly, trying to defuse the situation.
Then both followed Anabella to the guest room, where Alba ate with sadness for that bland food. Stella, again, didn't wanted to touch the food and expressed her wish to hunt some mice outside.
"It's due to Jacinta specialization... she is a Perdo master, so this things..." - she showed the cheese on her hand - "Are to be expected... When I get out to bath, you can come with me and go to catch some mice if you want. Just leave the little clay piece inside the doors before you do, so it doesn't get lost."
Stella seemed conformed with that option, and she waited patiently for Alba to finish dinner.
Since Anabella was there, Alba thought about talking a little with her too.
"Have you been working with Jacinta for a long time? I imagine that spending so much time with her means that you are very close friends." - she said - "Oh! And you have such a beautiful voice... I'm sure that you must be really good singing." - she added.
Later, she went outside to bath, while Stella ran to the mountain in the night to hunt something to eat. Alba tried to clean herself the best that she could at the barrel, and then she took the opportunity to clean her clothes a little too.
What she didn't thought what that she would end with the clothes soaked and that going around without them would be seen as inappropiate... so, she would need to improvise a spell to make a very simple cloth to reach the room. Surely with one spell with diameter duration would have enough...
So she just waited to Stella while conjuring some apples to satiate herself.
Stella found her searching for something at the mountain meadow.
"What are you doing now?" - she asked to Alba.
"I'm searching for a clean stone to put on top of the cloth to prevent the wind from blowing them away at night..." - she answered, picking a medium rock from the ground - "This one should work..."
Stella ate while looking at Alba somewhat amused while the maga searched for a place with high grass to extend her cloth with the stone on top, so it would dry at night.
"Did you learn those ideas somewhere or do you just improvise them as you go?" - Stella asked her when she finished to eat.
Alba looked to the cat without understanding her.
"W-what do you mean?"
"Nothing... can we go inside now?" - Stella said while approaching the door. Alba nodded and cast a simple spell to make a simple fabric with a hole for her head. She entered first and gave Stella the clay piece. Then both went to sleep at the room.
"Surely we would sleep way better outside at the ground." - Stella proposed, since the state of the small room was not very comfortable.
"Yes... but I don't want to seem ungrateful..." - Alba answered.
"Okay, you'll know what you're doing." - Stella jumped at a table and curled up while Alba went to the bed, trying to ignore the smells and the itchy fabric.
The next day, Alba woke up barely having been able to sleep. Stella looked at her like saying "it's your own fault" but didn't opened the mouth.
First of all, Alba casted again a spell to makeshift some fabric and went outside to pick her clothes. At least were dry, but they smelled even more than before to grass now, and then she came inside again, where Anabella appeared again to serve some food for breakfast.
When she got directly invited by Jacinta to her sanctum, Alba got surprised. She didn't expect that the archmaga would want to invite her to her private chambers... Alba looked to Stella, but the cat just said that she would wait outside... so Alba choosed to not overthink and get inside. After all, they were in a very isolated place, if Jacinta wanted to kill her she could do it in any moment and just tell her own version anyway. Also, she was very curious... and couldn't say no even if she tried.
So, she crossed the door and greeted Jacinta like it was completely normal, waiting patiently for the archmaga to tell her if it was the moment to resume the conversation from the previous day.
OOC: I don't know why I like to cause and get into trouble by myself, but oh well xD
If you want extra rolls due to the spells, tell me. I just went with a sheet cloth, poncho style, to avoid having issues with Finesse, but if you want...
Edit: btw, Alba is innocent and trustful, but she is also very respectful, when i wrote that she crosses the sanctum door, its because i understood that Jacinta is there in person inviting her and opening the door. On the contrary she would first call to the door. I dont think that its specially important for the game, but it is for the character
Regarding the clothes, Alba is capable enough to spont them without fatigue (even at Sun duration, if my math doesn't fail me), and a failed finesse will only cause trouble on a botch, so you only need to roll if you think Alba is the kind of person to really care for fancy clothes.
Anabella does not really seem like talking too much, but she engages in a light conversation.
"Not a long time. Since I was 20 so... about 9 years. 10, next Spring."
Anabella gets a little bashful with the comment regarding her voice, and declines any attempt to make her sing.
Later, while you are outside, Stella manages to find a couple of field mouses, enough to quell her hunger for now, but nothing in comparison to the sausages from Tugurium.
Jacinta leads you from your room towards the tower, and you soon are met with a stone wall with a painted sanctum marking. Jacinta touches the stone wall and it simply corrodes, opening a passage large enough for both of you. On the other side, a spiral staircase leads upwards.
You both walk step by step. Jacinta goes slowly, clearly due to old age. When you reach the top floor and enter the lab, the first word that comes to your mind is messy. You see books, papers, quills and inkpots scattered around in tables, bookcases, on the ground. Lab instruments abound, well mainteined, but well used, distributed all over the lab without rhyme or reason. Ingredients are stacked in several places, and you really can't get a sense if there's any order behind this or if she just puts things wherever there is an open space. Trying to find anything in this room seems impossible.
The second word that comes to mind is unhinged. You see several things that strike you as safety issues, accidents just waiting to happen, and realize that there was really some chance of Jacinta dying during the night, victim of an experiment gone wrong.
The only open space is a magic circle drawn with a silvery ink on the ground, and you see scorching marks on the floor and ceiling where the circle is, and signs of rust in a few inscriptions. Alba is no neophyte to Magic Theory. This seems like an incredible lab to experiment on spells, and one not very safe at that.
Jacinta gestures for you to sit on a wooden crate.
"Make yourself comfortable. I will keep standing a bit, or my knees will burn like brimstone and fire later in the day. Let's get back to our conversation, shall we?"
She listens once again to your explanation regarding Tugurium, and how you received a letter from Phillipus Niger asking to talk to her. If you offer, she declines to read the letter ("I can imagine what it says").
"Well, I can say Phillipus didn't change. I know very well why he wants my spell. It's not called Stormbreaker, by the way, but whatever. I have not named it yet, anyway."
"Phillipus... he is a bit blunt, and giving him a copy will be roughly the same as giving a sharp sword to a kid, but I do own him for a favor. It's not quite the worth of my spell, however. And what is that about trouble with flowers? I have no trouble! I just made a small comment about it to you, you brat!"
She loses patience, just a little.
"Aham... This shouldn't be important enough to cover for it, really... but given the situation, I guess maybe I will accept his suggestion and have you take care of it for me. My 'flower trouble' " - she says, making air quotes.
"I need an edelweiss flower, child. It's simple as that. But I'm old. Too old to go about walking the mountains, searching for one, and that's an errand I can't send Anabella on either."
"There are other magi from my covenant, of course, and other covenfolk, but they all live far away. This tower here is just a chapter house. And to be honest, I don't like most of them very much anyway. Actually, I'm very excited to know how they and the rest of the Alps will react when they discover you are founding a covenant here on the border! Hahaha!"
"Aham... I digress. So, bring me an edelweiss. In exchange I will let you take a copy of my spell to Phillipus. How does that sound?"
Now, Alba has no particular knowledge about the Alps, which will surely make it hard for her to properly assess the challenge, but she has heard before about the edelweiss. To be more precise, she has heard before several legends and stories about plants and flowers, and between them, about the edelweiss, a pure white, strong an noble flower which blooms on the alpine mountains (excellent Faerie Lore roll!! 8+ 3 + 2). Has the legend that the Faerie Queen once fell in love with a mortal. When he died, thrown from the mountain by her servants, she shed tears for the first time, and each tear became an edelweiss.
Another tale says about how the faeries of the spring fought back against the ice giants, pushing away the winter. Upon dying the fairies became flowers, and one of them, one of those who fought the bravest, was edelweiss. Some say that the fight still goes on, and the faeries keep the ice at bay.
Either way, one thing is sure. Alba will need to walk through the mountains again to get this flower.
When she learned Anabella's real age, Alba understood that something had happened to her to lose her youth so quickly, and being in a place dedicated to Perdo, she could imagine the type of spell that had caused it.
She decided not to insist and try to forget the topic, although she couldn't help but feel sadness for the fate of that young woman.
However, at night, as she tossed and turned unable to sleep, her mind returned to Anabella. And not only about her. Alba, for the first time in her life, thought about her own mortality as a certainty. It was a reality she knew, of course, but she hadn't really thought about it and what it entailed... until now it was nothing more than a thought in the back of her mind, present but forgotten. In her childhood it was not a reality that she had to experience, as she grew up surrounded by immortal fairies... yes, she had almost died once when she disobeyed her mother and that troll chased her... but even that was different, it felt different. She was not harmed, her mother reappeared over time... there were no real consequences.
But after seeing Anabella and seeing how her life had simply... disappeared... going directly from beginning to end, that was different. Alba had always thought of her old age as something too far away to worry about, but... what if she suffered an accident like Anabella's? There were still so many things she wanted to experience... And what with those people important for her? Bonsimon was already very old... and even Celeste and the others would surely not be as long-lived as her... What exactly was after death? Of course, she knew about ghosts thanks to Celeste. She had also heard of heaven, and hell, but both concepts were somewhat... empty to her. Maybe she should ask the priest of Chastellion more? Father Luc, if she remembered correctly...
She finally fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. And she felt as if she hadn't rested at all when the first rays of sun came through the window.
Alba followed Jacinta in silence, observing the place calmly and keeping her little hands still so as not to end up touching anything out of curiosity.
It was clear that she and Jacinta did not share the priorities for her sanctum at all. So much disorder was dizzying for her eyesight... she was sure that Icarus would be there... somewhere, but her eyes were unable to register him in the face of so many things. And about how unstable it was the place... she could never imagine allowing so much danger in her laboratory... Alba was too cautious for that.
And despite everything, she couldn't help but acknowledge that it was a pretty impressive laboratory for her specialization... and it was also true that Jacinta must have been an extremely good maga to have survived her own laboratory for so long.
When Jacinta showed her the wooden crate, Alba sat on it compliantly. She couldn't help but notice to her astonishment the lack of real seatings... with her age, Jacinta was putting much more stress on her body than she should...
Then, Alba explained the content of the letter again, and even offered Jacinta to read it for herself, although she rejected it. After that, the young woman listened in silence to Jacinta.
She thought it was funny how she would get angry by herself just by talking about Phillipus... she also reminded her a lot of Bonsimon, who used to do the same thing a lot... maybe it was an attitude that came with age?
Finally, Jacinta asked her for an edelweiss flower. Alba nodded, having heard about those flowers.
"Sounds good. Thank you Jacinta." - Alba answered - "If you had any sample of the flower, I could even find it faster. But if not, no problem, I know the type of places where I need to look." - then, it seemed that the maga thought about something - "You said that the spell is too much for the favor you owe him, and that it would not be in good hands with him, right? However, the spell doesn't have the name that he has mentioned either..." - she paused for a moment, thinking again - "Well, it's lucky that you haven't created another spell with that same name... and also that you know exactly which one he wants, instead of confusing it with another one... since he has given no indication of the effects of the spell he sought, I would be unable to tell the difference." - she added, as if she were thinking to herself. It wasn't easy to tell if Alba was proposing something dishonest or if she was genuinely happy about it and being... well, herself.
Alba stood up.
"Anyway, I'll go get the flower. You only need one?" - asked Alba before turning to leave, although she paused for a moment. She pondered whether to ask about Anabella's accident... but she thought that Jacinta wouldn't have good memories of it either... So finally she just said goodbye and left, going down the stairs again to meet with Stella.
"Come on Stella, we must go look for something for Jacinta." - she commented briefly after saying goodbye to Anabella.
She remembered that the Alps mountains could be seen in the background from the tower, like white teeth on the horizon... but they were beyond the lake, and probably even further away than they seemed... Maybe she should look in the Mont Racine first? After all, there might be some flowers there if she was lucky…
"If I had a sample I wouldn't need you to bring me one, right? But you might be able to find one with the young boys in the village. The dumb ones sometimes climb up the mountains to get one for their loved ones. It's a token of affection or something. A single flower should suffice."
When Alba starts discussing the name of the spell, Jacinta adds:
"He is not wrong to call it Stormbreaker, it's just a dumb name. I mentioned in one of Flambeau's house meetings a couple of years ago that I made a breakthrough on a PeAu spell. Worst decision ever. Someone must have told him that, and he won't stop bothering me ever since. How would I not know exactly what he wants? The spell isn't even anything to write home about. I simply de-scaled a ritual back to formulaic."
Jacinta points to a large, unnorganized, stack of papers in one corner of the lab. It seems to be her notes in shorthand, and judging by the amount of material, the spell described in those pages is on the higher end. 8th magnitude, perhaps higher.
"Well, I will wait for you, Alba. You don't need to hurry. I don't expect the trip to be dangerous, if even a mundane baboon can get one of those... Well, I heard a few of them do die, falling from the cliffs, so take care anyway."
Alba didn't ask for any food from Anabella, since the taste was just so... meh, that she would eat better just conjuring apples for a few days.
Now her only urgency was to change the stale water with some fresh from the lake. So, she walked away from the Tower of the Ashes, down the road to Neuchatel.
She basked at the incredible views while she though about her options. She really doubted that a young man would jump to her to give her a flower due to the Gift, so, that option was a little outside her capabilities.
Maybe... maybe she didn't need that a young lad give her a flower? If they picked the flowers and gave them to other ladies, that would be enough.
She looked to Stella.
"Are you ready for some thief work?" - when Alba asked her, Stella looked at the maga without understanding.
When Alba explained her about stealing some flowers, Stella though about it.
"If with that we can go back home earlier... Ok, let's do it."
OOC: I assume Alba is back to using Disguise of the Transformed Image, and Stella back to travelling invisible?
And like, what are your actual plans? From what I see, find someone and steal a flower from them?
By the way, the task is doable (if time-consuming and bothersome) the hard way: combing the Alps for an exemplar of the flower. I mention that because this is something Alba would surely know and keep in mind (if nothing else as a last resource).
Alba goes down Mt. Racine. Having travelled this path before makes the descent easier, and not after long she can already see the lake, maybe 3 miles away. There are a few settlements not far away, and Anabelle gave Alba the directions to the closest one. As Alba approaches she can already smell things cooking, reminding her that she has not had a decent meal in a couple of days.
As Alba approaches the settlement, she can see a man walking towards it from a side path, a bit lower than her position. He seems to let a sigh of relief, and his lush blonde hair is given a good shake, and Alba can get a glimpse of small horns hidden there. He is dressed in somewhat expensive clothes, though a bit worse for the wear, probably from his travels, and a wry smile on his face.
He doesn't seem to have noticed Alba yet, his gaze fixed on the settlement.
Renard was ecstatic to see this settlement. He had to leave Basel, for a while, because a merchant there caught him messing with his wife. Renard knew that the woman almost literally threw herself at him, but he knew from experience that men didn't want to believe that. So he learned to keep quite. He also kept quiet that the merchant himself threw himself at him, earlier than evening...
OOC: Yes, Alba is using Disguise of the Transformed Image and Stella turns invisible when she sees another person.
The plan is looking for young girls (thus, unmarried) and see where they live, so we can look at their houses at night searching for the flower.
Ofc, the hard way is on the table too, but if I manage to find it before that, the better.
Alba saw from far away the man that came from another path. He seemed distracted looking at the settlement and didn't noticed her.
She looked at him as he approached. She couldn't avoid to think that he had something special, and then, when he ran his hand through his hair, she could see them. Two small horns slightly hidden between the golden hair.
"You should use a hat." - she said suddendly in Swabian, getting close to him - "To hide your horns, I mean." - she pointed to his head like the position of the horns needed to be clarified. All this with her extra serious looks.
The man looked at her, and that made her aware of her own appearance. Disheveled, half-clean, with clothes wrinkled and dirty with grass, smelling of the road and flowers that could not be seen. She hadn't even remembered to repaint her eye line.
She got a little red, but then she searched between her things and took out her kerchief, whishing to change the focus.
"You could use this to cover your hair." - she said while offering the cloth, without thinking that only women covered her head with kerchiefs.
A gust of wind brought the smell of food to her nose, making her mouth water and her stomach growl like a lion.
The man, though startled by the sudden feminine voice, was quick to get his bearing back, and gave a flourish as he turned around to look at this whisp of a girl "Ah, but why should I hide them? They are part of my heritage, and part of my charm." And he gives her a smile with perfectly white teeth, one that makes most women swoon.
He takes a look at the kercheif, admiring it's color. "Thank you milady, but I cannot accept this token, for it highlights your hair so beautifully." And gives it back to her.
"That is a fine smell, isn't it? Shall we stroll in and get ourselves some food?" He didn't put his hand on her, but he did stand close enough for her to feel his presence, but not enough to, hopefully, be too close.
When the man gave Alba his best smile, the young woman seemed to blush a little... but she seemed more confused than overwhelmed by his presence.
"W-what do you mean by that?" - she asked with a slight tild of her head - "Because that makes people scared or worried? And a lot of people may confuse your faerie heritage with demonic traits... Was I hiding my own traits all this time for no reason?" - she looked directly to his horns - "W-well... I suppose that your horns are a lot less noticeable... Maybe there are different cases here..." - she looked to his eyes again, looking as serious as before - "So... you know about your heritage? It was your mother or your father?" - she asked with curiosity.
She also looked surprised when he didn't accepted her kerchief. She looked at it with an appraisal look.
"It is so beautiful? I could have sworn it was just a normal kerchief..." - seemingly, she took his compliment as if it were directed at the kerchief instead of her.
When he proposed to get some food, she got a little red, yet she moved her head in a negative.
"I didn't brought money with me... So I cannot partake into an interchange for food with the humans at the village." - she looked at him with interest - "Aren't you unconfortable with me, anyways?"
"Some people will take anything different and declare it evil. But for most people, they see me, and know that it is but my fae nature. Not everyone will accept you, but those who do, will like you. Once they get past your Gift, I believe you call it?" When she reacts he adds "I haven't had much contact with sorcerers, as am more comfortable in cities. But I did come across a fae sorceress who told me a few things, while we were resting."
"Anything a woman wears is beautiful."
"Don't worry about money. A wink, a hug, and a smile, and I can get us both a good meal."
Alba went silent, looking to the man with her face like a mask.
"Yes, we call it the Gift." - she answered, since she wasn't sure how to react, she went with a neutral answer.
She listened to his explanation about how some fae told him about it, but she just nodded slowly.
She didn't doubt about his explanation, but if knowing about the Gift would suffice to ignore it's effects, a lot of problems wouldn't be there... So either that man was very good at disguising his disgust, or he was immune to its effects... She wasn't sure anymore if the man in front of her was even human... he seemed like one... maybe he was an edge wizard?
Yet he looked like a good person, and her curiosity needed to be satisfied, so she didn't leave for now.
But she was very conscious about her limitations in judging people, so she decided not to introduce Stella for the moment and stay alert.
"Anything a woman wears is beautiful."
She didn't really understood that answer, but it occurred to her that he really seemed to really like women's clothing... she ended nodding again, not sure about what to answer either.
"Don't worry about money. A wink, a hug, and a smile, and I can get us both a good meal."
Was he asking her to give him that? Or was it what he had planned to offer in the town?
"So... uhm... You don't need money?" - she asked, happy to find a way to talk that worked for both cases... maybe his answer would give her more clues.
Renard looks at her, with a look of amazement. "You're not like any other woman I've met, they all seem to melt at my charms. It's quite refreshing, actually, but I hope there aren't too many women like you."
He smooths his hair back, leaving a single curl to fall on his forehead, before he gives her another smile. "Money? As I said, most women fall for my charms, and I can probably get us a meal for two for free."
Your small talk continues as you approach the houses. You can already hear people (mostly woman) talking, the men probably labouring away.
Alba will have no trouble finding a few young maidens, but surely her mere presence will startle the people, unless Alba manages to stay unseen. Of course, it would be better to learn if those maidens have flowers or not. Maybe this young man (Alba realizes she hasn't asked his name yet, and he hasn't offered it either) can help?
OOC: you can describe, in broad strokes, how you two approach the issue. If you intend to simply walk into the midst of the people and talk to them, just give me an appropriate roll (Charm or Intrigue, likely). If Alba stays behind and leaves the talking mostly to Renard, her Gift should have no impact.
Alba looked at him with curiosity, but as serious as all the time.
"Well... you aren't like any mundane I've met, they all dislike me due to my Gift." - she answered in first place. It was hard to tell whether she was accusing him of something or just found it funny.
"Also, I must say that I'm not very expressive... maybe my dispassionate personality helps me and makes it less obvious, but I find you very charming indeed." - Alba said as if she were apologizing for something - "I'm also used to talk to charming persons and fauns. The real ones I mean. And also, as a maga merinitae it is expected from me to be able to deal with faeries of all sorts... it would be very bad for me if I was the type of person that started to talk with my lower mouth as soon as I know somebody handsome and charming." - she added, and she thought into something - "That remembers me that I didn't present properly to myself, I'm Alba Ex Merinita and it will be a pleasure to me to accompany you to eat."
They both started the walk to the houses, and Alba had to ask a question that was on her mind.
"It is really okay to use your faerie charms to take advantage of other persons?"
As soon as they reached the houses, she looked at her new acquaintance.
"I will let you do the talking, my Gift will just make harder to us to be welcomed."
Then, she added in Latin at the air while she looked at the young maidens of the place.
"Stella, if you find some flowery smell at any of them, please tell me."
OOC: tbh i was searching already a good moment to gave him my name too xD Now that i mentioned that i'm merinitae seemed like a good place to present myself
I will ask for help to Renard later if Stella doesnt smell anything (i expect that, tbh).