1220.1a Look who's coming to dinner

The banquet hall on the other side of the regio is lavishly decorated, and the tables are laden with food and wine. Maris is sitting at the end of the table opposite from Apollodorus, while all of the Tremere sit on another side of the table. There are placards with your names on them in front of a place setting.

"I bid our guests welcome and ask for forgiveness for my own boorish behavior. I've considerably shortend Iaeptus journey to Coeris, I thought it was only fitting for the degree of courtesy he's shown me over the years. Let us put these matters behind us. A toast to our remaining guests and their leader, Maris of Tremere."

Alexei still sits with a perplexed look on his face finally speaking up. "So...Apollodorus...Iaeptus possesed your Sigil...are you...or were you then a Tremere? And were you expecting him? Your arrival was timely I must say. We were...discussing the matter of the houses that were so cavalierly conjured without permission." he turns to the remaining Tremere. "Please take no offense Sodales, you were doing as Iaeptus decreed no doubt, I have great admiration for the unity and respect Tremere has for their elders and field leaders."

Fiona raises her mug and joins in the toast.

Fiona watches the speakers in turn, trying to piece together what had happened and why...an exercise in deduction. She will also almost study the Tremere sitting at the other table, as though they were a new species of plant she were analyzing. She has never seen a Tremere before, but she knows that if it were not for that House, she would most likely not be in the Order.

"I was a Tremere, yes. I joined House Jerbiton many years ago. After leaving House Tremere, I stayed in Valnastium for some time working with and studying under many artists in an effort to develop my natural talents for painting and sculpture that had lain dormant while I was with House Tremere."

Apollodorus takes a sip of his wine before continuing, and addresses everyone, but mostly Alexei. "After a time, I tired of Valnastium and made my residence in Autun and established myself as an eremite in the Tribunal. Since there weren't many covenants around me, I had a measure of hermetic peace, if you will. I never bothered with recovering my sigil when my parens was alive, and Iaeptus had evaded my previous attempts to retrieve my sigil since I began planning this covenant. He had regularly visited me on his way to Coeris before, and he always had the worst habit of being very early. Eventually I caught on and began preparing for him a day earlier than his announced arrival. This time, he arrived earlier than I'd planned on. I had planned to be here to greet him, Alexei.

"No, his early arrival was an insult, since it was effectively two days before he had announced in his letter to me. Couple that with his previous evasion when I tried to visit him suggests he was not willing to be a good guest. And then when I saw the houses, I knew he was making a statement to me that could not be ignored. Since Tremere sigils are typically handed from parens to filius after the filius has defeated the master in certamen, I decided to act as a Tremere might. I would've been content for him to just hand the sigil over to me, privately. He, nor the House have any rights to it, and I would've involved the Quaesitores if it had come down to it. That would've made it publicly embarrassing for the House. However, his breech of etiquitte deserved a suitable response, and Tremere aren't as arrogant as he is. It's a personal failing of his, one among many, anyway."

Maris sits quietly listening to the monologue, "Honestly, Apollodorus, you say far too much."

Apollodorus smiles at Maris, quite warmly almost like a father, "And you've always said far too little. And acted even less. Why are you still here? Now is not the time to rest on your laurels, you haven't done enough, yet, girl!" He pulls something from out of his sleeve, it appears to be a rock, much like any other rock around here.

Maris catches the rock, and ponders it for a moment. She regards Apollodorus who give her a simple nod. "Ahh, my apologies all, I have some House business to attend to, and I shall see everyone in the morning. Luna, you know what to do." In a flash of lavendar light with a scent to go along with it, she's gone.

"That's my girl," he says with a measure of pride and a huge smile. Without comment Luna assumes the chair Maris had been in, and Maris's setting is removed by staff.

"Check and mate, Iaeptus." Apollodorus says to no one in particular.

The Tremere directly across from you engages you in some polite chit chat, gossip about the order. He's a handsome, if servere looking man. He looks to be in his early thirties, and probably is. He let's slip that he's mostly assigned to Loch Leglean Tribunal under the exarch. You catch the faintest hit of his native accent which is immediately familiar to you.

Iosephus sits at the table, too. He eats little, but enjoys what little he eats. Like Fiona, he is quiet, watching the Tremere. He's met a few Tremere before, but only briefly; and he's never known one well. They're not common in Wales.

If they happen to be looking, the other members of the covenant may notice that Iosephus doesn't look his usual self. He's normally open-faced and cheerful; now he seems quiet, inwards, and watchful. He's trying to work out the riddle of these Tremere.

Alexei's smile returns and it is not forced. "This is not unfamiliar to me...the circumstance if not the events and the order they happened in. Tristan, my Pater, had multiple encounters with his former House when he retired from it. The games of pre-station seemed endless. Iaeptus seems though...a bit more...underhanded about it. I believe you requited yourself very ably Appollodorus. I salute you." he says and raises his glass.

After some more wine he will engage the remaining Tremere on matters of interest, such as ongoing military campaigns and tourneys. He is also quite interested in a little sport, if some are willing to engage in friendly certamen for small stakes, such as some vis?

The Tremere across from you appears to be of Moorish descent. He regards you carefully and says, "How do you answer a riddle when it is never asked?"

"I had perhaps forced his hand, his letter notifying me of his arrival wasn't sent to me voluntarily. I had suggested several alternative courses of action I might undertake in a letter to Poena, and listed my inability to get Iaeptus to respond to my attempts to resolve the matter. I also suggested she discuss this more deeply with Maris, as I'm sure she could shed some light on the matter, though her view might be slightly biased in my favor."

I'm going to suggest that you don't want to actually offer vis. The minor magical focus in certamen can be very difficult to overcome. However, since Tremere love to do it as a sport amongst themselves, you have no problems finding competitors interested in taking you up on an offer to duel. Luna, and the other black robed one, who hasn't yet spoken are probably in your range. Everyone else is probably below you in overall arts.

Alexei would want an appropriate challenge, someone far above or below him would be unseemly either way. But he has some vis in his own stores, a minor bet just adds some excitement to it. Not talking about a lot, a pawn or three. Plus he's had some wine...

Fiona will switch to Scots Gaelic as she engages the Tremere lad. [color=blue]"I didn't think there were any Tremere in Loch Leglean. How did ye come to be there? And how long have ye been back in Scotland?"


[color=blue]"And just what is an 'exarch'?"

"There are a few of us there. I've been back since my gauntlet four years ago. We have at lease one covenant in every tribunal. Some are small, some are large. And some Tremere are part of mixed covenants."

"The exarch is the leader of our House in a given Tribunal. Since there are few of us in the Hibernean, Locl Leglean, Stonehenge and Normandy Tribunals, one Exarch manages those tribunals, directs an assistant in the Tribunals in how to vote. I am hopeful that Iaeptus will be disgraced by his actions and be removed, he pursued self-indulgent policies, and has been away from the House for far too long. Master A-Apollodorus did us a great favor, if he is removed."

Luna is the most senior of the delegation present and accepts your challenge. There's enough room in the banquet hall to do certamen here. By the way, Luna is one of the ones who conjured the buildings. "What's the Technique?"

"Excellent!" declares Alexei. "First, let us declare the rules for this sporting contest. We agree that this is for sport and not to settle a grievance or establish precedence over the other, just a friendly engagement, the winner will be allowed to challenge the loser at a later time should a grievance or disagreement come up. The standard ways of winning are accepted by submission, or unconsciousness, though I ask that should one become distracted and lose control during the ritual that certamen be rejoined when both are ready. That is fair yes? And since this is sporting and for a wager of vis, we agree not to use vis in this contest. I hope this is acceptable, if not please tell me your proposal. When we are agreed I will issue the challenge and the Technique with our options to accept or veto the choice. And I wager...2 pawns of Corpus vis that I shall be the victor." Alexei rubs his hands together briskly as he recites the rules he agreed to from his most recent tourney.

(I figure these stipulations are something those in the Milites agree to for a friendly bout of certamen, if not accepted he won't back out as not only did he challenge, these rules represent an imposition and he understands that)

Iosephus couldn't be more delighted. He grins, and says:

"Since you have asked already, this is my answer."

If the Moorish Tremere indicates that this answer is satisfactory, Iosephus will assume that they're in a riddle game. This will be very pleasing to him.

He wants to find out more about the Tremere, why they're here, and so forth, and a game of riddles seems to him a logical way to go about that.

He's also very intrigued by this Moorish Tremere. Iosephus has been to the distant lands of the Moors, and has talked to the Sufis there. Judging by his keenness to enter into a riddle game, the man in front of him is a Sufi. But if so, how can he also be a Tremere? The sufis are ascetic mystics, very much into denying the ego and the self; whereas in Iosephus' mind, at least, the Tremere are all about status and hierarchy. So maybe he's not a sufi at all, but instead a Tremere who's entering into a game of riddles just for a chance to to compete with a Criamon. Either way it's an intriguing situation.

With that in mind, and with an eye to finding something out, Iosephus will go on to ask:

"How can a man compete without competing?'

"The man must love unconditionally." He pauses for a moment, "Why do you search for that which cannot be found?"

Iosephus is thrilled. The man is a sufi after all! What an unexpected pleasure!
Presumably, the Sufi's question is intended as a reference to the Criamon quest to find a way to escape from time. The Criamon believe that, unless they can find a way to escape from the cycle of time, then the world will suffer forever.

Thus Iosephus responds:

"If we cannot find what cannot be found, then every search is in vain"

At this point, Iosephus feels that the two of them have made a certain connection. He values openness, trust, and quick affection, so he breaks out of the riddle game for a moment and asks,in normal speech:

"Sodale, it is very good to meet you, and even better to exchange riddles with you. Where do you hail from, and how did you first come to walk the path of conflict with the Tremere?"

"Cordoba. Now that you stop speaking riddles, I understand you less. I don't understand your meaning about walking the path of conflict with the Tremere. I have skills and Arts that have been honed by my master and using them in service to the House is no conflict." He returned your smile in earnest, but is confused about where you find his path is one of conflict.

OOC: Totally missed this somehow....
"Of course, we do this all the time, usually amongst ourselves. What's the Technique?"
It is unlikely that you will become distracted during the contest.

"I would ask that any certamen challenges be taken up after our meal. Negotiating the terms of the contest are fine now, of course." Apollodorus chimes in with this simple request while you and Luna are negotiating the terms. The feast is sumptuous, and it is long.

"Excellent!" Alexei says again. "Obviously I should have known that the esteemed creators of Certamen would follow honorable rules for the contest. I hope I brought no offense. My Technique shall be..." he pauses as he scrutinizes his opponent. "Muto. You may accept or veto this choice. And the Form?" he turns to Apollodorus. "Of course sodale, dinner first, then entertainment."