"That was after you scared away whatever was giving us that dread feeling, mister Onfroi."
Simon is not a bit embarassed of admiting he was afraid. Still, he passes Onfroi's words, to which Regulus smiles a bit.
"You helped us, and a wineskin was given. That is that."
"But after you told me the reason you lived alone - well, not completely alone (Regulus looks at Guiscard) - I saw no reason to keep it that way, knowing there are places that will accept you. No thanks is needed for that. Well, at least, not until you ar settled and comfortable with us in Tugurium. If you accept my invitation, of course."
Regulus takes as a pleasant surprise the fact that Onfroi does not seem wary of him (or perhaps he is just very good at hiding it? Ether way, that's comendable).
"As for the curse..." Regulus looks at Nele while Simon translates the previous part back to Onfroi.
"That's something I'd like to discuss with you in due time, Nele. But finding Herman takes priority at the moment."
It's not Regulus first time passing a portal, but the grogs seem a bit dizzy upon exiting through the other side. He looks around to make sure everyone is fine and then follows Nele, at first without dropping his Parma (on one hand he can't cancel it, only supress by actively concentrating; on the other he is yet unsure of what to expect).
"We can discuss whatever this 'Curse' is, at a later time. Do not be alarmed, but as we go further, you, and our men, are likely to undergo some slight changes. The changes will only last while you're staying here."
And she leads you through this wild forest, and you can all feel eyes upon you, though Nele is moving along as if uncaring of their gaze, unless she doesn't show it, or is unaware of them.
There are many twists and turns, and it's unclear how she knows how to traverse it. (Regulus may make a Second Sight roll, to see if he can see the Regio borders as they travel through them.)
And as you travel, there are indeed some changes, subtle at first, but soon a bit more apparent. Onfroi exhibits some boar tusks, and his head seems to be larger, and his feet seems to be more like cloen hooves.
Simon's hair seems to have grown like a man, and his face takes a more lion-like look.
Otto's ears grow longer, and his nse becomes almost a snout, and a tail seems to grow from his behind, a short tail with a tuft of hair
Klaus, on the other hand, has his hair become short, except for some clumps of hair down he middle, his skin changes color to blue-green, and he sprouts a tail of beautiful feathers, like a peacock.
If Regulus allows the effect in, his own skin seems to be covered in ight feathers of white and brown, his eyes become larger, and his nose shorter, like a beak.
I rolled a 0, so unless this is a simple roll I'll need to know how many botch dice to roll. =|
If simple die, the total is 14 + aura. If stress it will be 4 + aura (or zero if I botch).
(By the way I'm using physical dice, but if you prefer I can use discobot from now on.)
After seeing the changes on the grogs (and ascertaining that it doesn't seem dangerous) Regulus suppresses his Parma just long enough to seem respectful before allowing it to return, claiming a poor concentration (that's partially true (Conc score is 0), but there's also the fact that he does not want to risk getting caught in a Mentem effect with potential to jeopardize the investigation).
Is some of that due to aura? His SS is magically aligned (I should note that on his sheet somewhere). But well, in order:
7 - 4 - 9 - 5 (dodged that one, at least).
It's more due to the Regio, but because it's a Magical Aura, the Regio's Aura doesn't get doubled.
Even if the woman already warned about it, Onfroi got nervous when the changes started to appear, getting scared at the possibility of turning completely and becoming a danger to the rest of the group.
Luckily, the changes were apparently superficial and stopped quickly. He looked at the others, that were transformed like him in a mix of human and animal.
"Can I ask w'y it this habening? And w'at this 'eans?" - he asked with some difficulties due to the tusks in his mouth.
He wasn't completely sure if he should be in alert since the rest of people seemed surprised but not hostile to what it was happening to them.
Nele regards each of you as your changes appear, and they appear gradually as you walk through the forest, and seems to approve of them.
"Crintera is closer to the Animal Spirits than most places in Europe, and so, when one gets near, one's animal nature gets evident." In a lower voice, and only to Regulus, she adds "This is also how we know beforehand what Heartbeast each apprentice has, when they come to the Gathering."
At that point, you arrive at a large clearing, where six towers and a group of building stand. "Welcome to Crintera, I will have some of our covenfolk show you to your quarters, and tomorrow we can have you present all the questions you want, so you can begin on your mission." She points to a field to the left "Do not wander there if you're a prude. That area is set for those of our House who wan to change between their human and Heartbeast shapes." It is clear that she's more relaxed now that she's arrived at Crintera. And then she begins walking to that field, slowly taking off her clothes as she walks, not looking back at you.
Regulus finds that a bit odd. He hesitates a bit before running after Nele and standing before her, doing his best to avoid looking at her in a disrespectful way (she might not care, but he does).
"I'm sorry Nele, but given the urgency of the matter I'd expect to begin the investigation right away. Indeed, I was sure, given how the subject seems to be dear to you, that you'd want the same. Unless you don't find it that urgent after all?"
OOC: I'm actually trying to probe her with that, it strikes oddly at Regulus that she would be so impatient for the presence of a Quesitor, make them immediately go to Crintera, but as soon as they arrive change to a "tomorrow we continue".
Onfroi didn't fully understand what was happening...
Simon could only translate part of what he heard, and Onfroi only understood part of what Simon was saying.
However, he got the general idea that no one except the woman understood exactly what was happening, but that they shouldn't worry (according to her, of course).
He tried to explain the situation to Guiscard to reassure him, but the boar was more interested in whether he would be fed properly later by those strangers.
The man was not happy about that situation... and the feeling that she was playing with them didn't helped either. But having the language barrier and not wanting to cause problems for Regulus, he preferred to clench his jaw for the moment and follow the group without losing sight of the woman.
Especially now that she was taking off her clothes.
Why? Why she was doing that?
Nele looks back at Regulus, while still undressing, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. "Simple, my dear. Now that you're here, I can go on to do my secondary task, which is to track down Gulos, and hopefully, bring him back here, by tomorrow, so that you can ask him whatever questions you might have. Otherwise, I would have to send you on a goose chase after him." And she raises her eyebrows, as if asking if that's what you want to do.
"That makes much sense. Thanks for your help. I hope you find him soon."
Regulus steps back and returns to the side of the others. Noticing Simon and Onfroi talking, he tries to ascertain what is the problem and explains were Nele is going. Than, he requests Simon to translate.
"I'm sorry Onfroi, I still wasn't able to ask them for help with your... condition."
Regulus takes a second look at his tusks.
"As I told you before, I am part of a large organization of magicians. We call ourselves the Order of Hermes. In our Order I am affiliated with House Guernicus, a group of guardians of the law and investigators. Our hosts" - Regulus gestures towards the path Nele took - "are from House Bjorner, and they are capable of taking on animal forms. They are the ones better suited to offer us insight on how to help you."
Then, Regulus takes some effort to explain the status of the current invstigation to Onfroi in broad strokes while they await for the covenfolk to guide them to the guest rooms.
Onfroi listened to Simon patiently while the lad translated everything as best as he could.
Then he answered, talking slowly to help Simon to understand and translate... specially undestand, since he also couldn't talk correctly with those tusks into his mouth.
"I don't like her. I zink that she is blaying with us." - Onfroi said with a serious look - "I don't know yu a lot, put I w'll trust yu for now."
Onfroi thought for a moment, and then he stopped.
"I brefer to liv' with 'y curse than 'ut someone at r'sk." - he pointed to Guiscard - "'y friend is already used to deal with my other 'e. And..." - he turned around and brushed his long hair off his back, showing a large opening in his flesh, where the spine should be, that resembled the rotten hole of a tree. Regulus could glimpse his heart beating in the shadows - "I w'll 'ever be w'll received a'ong beoble anyway."
Then, he listened to Regulus explanation about the investigation.
"I know 'othing a'out your order. Put if I ca' be of any use, I w'll be habby to helb you to find that boy."
Nele approaches the field, and her body starts both elongating and shrinking in places, until she becomes a huge toad, almost human sized. She gives you a final glance, and starts leaping away, each leap covering about a 100 paces, and she quickly disappears back into the forest.
An elderly woman approaches you. She is statuesque, and you can feel her eyes of you, and they are piercing, but also filled with untold wisdom, and depth.
"My pleasure to meet you Regulus, Onfroi, and the rest of you. My name is Ardea, and I will show you to your quarters." She leads you away to a cluster of huts, where she shows you each to your own hut.
Upon reaching the huts Regulus will remind the servants that they are guests, and should not overstep their boundaries... but that their presence was requested and they are on an official investigation, so their boundaries are larger than usual. In doubt, or if they found anything suspicious, they should report back to him or Otto (the oldest and most experienced one) and ask how to procceed.
Then he suggests that they establish cordial relations with the covenfolk from Crintera, if possible. They might have seen or head something useful, and Regulus knows he will have trouble to extract some information from them due to his Gift.
Finally, Regulus enters his hut, with the intention to spend the day organizing his thoughts and classifying the information he already has thus far.
Onfroi watched with a frown as the maga turned into a huge frog and hopped away. He couldn't trust someone who had transformed them all without permission. The only thing stopping him from expressing his anger was seeing that others were taking the situation calmly.
Even then, his tail moved nervously from side to side and he was on guard all the time.
Shortly after the frog-woman left, a tall old woman approached them to offer them a place to rest. Onfroi took the opportunity, with the help of Simon, to ask for food to be brought for Guiscard. The animal remained calm because he hadn't been affected by magical oddities, but Onfroi was aware that he was not comfortable surrounded by so many people and, if he didn't receive something in return, he would soon demand it in his own way.
After making sure that Guiscard would receive a good ration of food, he addressed Regulus one last time to tell him where he would be in case he needed him, and after that he decided to practice a little with the spear, not so much for the training itself, but to try to don't think and put some order into his emotions.
Before she departs, the old lady turns to Onfroi "There will come a time when you will find that the burden you carry, is a blessing in disguise. Once that happens, seek me out, and we can figure something out for you."
When Simon translated the sentence for Onfroi, he just frowned even more and said nothing.
Then he begain to train alone, trying to calm the rage growing at his guts. The declaration of that old lady was intriguing, but he wasn't in the best mood to think about it.
But no matter how hard he tried to stab the air, he couldn't dispel the idea that this old woman was assuming too much about him.
OOC: Regulus won't do much else before Nele returns, so unless Onfroi or the grogs want to poke around I think we could move on.
OOC: Onfroi will not poke to nobody, just the air with his spear xD And if Guiscard has enough food, he will be happy too.