A small brown owl wheels and circles, low over the forest canopy. The bird pauses in mid-air for the briefest of moments, before swooping down and catching a mouse in its beak. He crunches happily on his prey.
Miles away, a small dark-haired woman pushes herself away from a young soldier and stumbles into a ditch, retching up bread and cheese. The soldier smirks, and offers a skin of water to his companion. "I don't know what's more amusing-- that it never occurred to you to exclude taste when enchanting your familiar with shared senses, or that once Glaukopis spots some poor little rat, you never manage to pull out before he's had a taste."
The brunette accepts the waterskin gratefully and rinses her mouth. "Thank you, Elain. It is such a comfort, knowing that your staunch friendship shall always support me through any adversity," she remarks dryly.
"I live but to serve milady," retorts Elain.
"He's found the covenant. Fetch me one of those pears we got in Autun. By the time I get the taste of that mouse out of my mouth, Glau should be here with a claw full of dirt. You can bloody well mock me while you catch up."
Laetitia approaches the gates, and waves up at the grogs on duty. "Hello the gates!" she calls out in Latin, cheerily. "I'm looking for Korvin Merceris, can one of you help me?" She pauses a moment, waiting to see if they will fall all over themselves to try and please her, but before she can see whether her mother's charms will come to her aid, the small brown owl settles onto a crennellation. "She's a maga," he explains to the sharper-looking of the two grogs, in perfect native French. "Couldn't speak a civilized tongue if she tried. Could one of you chaps help direct us to a magus in charge? We're on official Quaesitorial business."
Brion, the malformed wretch is on guard duty with some of the new turb when the owl lands and begins talking. He's only slightly taken aback before smiling his cleft palate grin and addressing the owl in French.
"Oui ma cheri." he says to the owl. "That would be Les Imperator, my master Alexei von Kroitsau. You are here with your master, a wizard? I shall send word to him maintenant!" he nods to one of the younger grog with him who hurries off down the very incomplete battlements. The malformed grog remains at his post and makes no move to open any gates at this point.
The owl cocks his head to the side. "Indeed. Our shield, Elain, is a few minutes out into the forest, bringing along our equipment and supplies. We will require accommodation for one maga, one man-at-arms, and one mundane horse. Prithee do not be alarmed at his presence, as he is rather unforgivably Welsh. But then, so is the maga."
Alexei is having council with some of the sergeants, specificially on the required uniforms that have been requisitioned and were still being made, as well as penalties for being caught out of uniform when the guard arrived.
"Imperator. There is a wizard here at the gate!" he says when a sergeant lets him in. Alexei seems unperterbed, merely stands up and reaches for a shimmering coat of mail that suddenly appeared draped over the arm of the chair he sat in. The sergeants move to aid him into it and then he takes up his staff while the messenger guard holds the reigns of the horse he rode to the sergeant's quarters.
"I presume without hostility?" he asks the guard. He nodded seriously before Alexei made haste for the gate.
At the gate Brion merely nods his crooked and deformed head at the owl's requests, some of which he didn't understand (like what a Welsh person might be like) and others were not his responsibility. "Master Alexei will see to your Mistress's request, I am certain. He is a gentleman."
The maga pulls her ermine cloak in tighter. "Ask him if we can warm ourselves in their receiving-- achoo! --hall while their commandant is summoned," she calls up to her familiar.
Glaukopis turns back to the grog. "The lady has been living in Lucania and can't handle the weather," he translates into French. "Do you have an antechamber where she can warm herself while she awaits your captain?"
"Tell m'lady a hot brazier shall be brought out immediately. I'm sorry, I do not have the authority to allow her in yet..." the sound of galloping interrupts his speech.
"I can allow m'lady in." says a tall and fit man with a trimmed beard and thick travelling cloak as he rides up to the gate on a horse. A guard takes the reigns and holds the horse steady as he dismounts.
"Open the gates!" calls Brion as the men began to turn the winches and pull the gates open by hand. The rider stands in the middle of the opened gate, his staff in his left hand and he makes a grand gesture with his right as he bows.
"Greetings, I am Alexei von Kroitsau ex Flambeau, member of the Milites, and the Imperator here at Mons Electi. To whom do I have the pleasure of meeting this evening?" he says in Latin with a German accent.
"Oh dear," the lovely little maga exclaims. "I had hoped to speak with Korvin before meeting any other magi. Cold calls are so awkward," she frets. "Regardless, it is your dubious pleasure to address Laetitia scholae Guernici. I regret that I am here on official business... Had anyone informed me of your charm and good looks, Ser Alexei, I might have contrived some excuse to visit sooner." She unleashes a devastating smile, and tosses her black locks over her shoulder before smoothing the front of her gown self-consciously. "My apologies for not dressing appropriately to make the acquaintance of a miles; if you don't already have plans for dinner, I am certain I packed something more appropriate for entertaining." Despite her words, though, she seems dressed for a ball much moreso than for travel; her blue silk gown is studded with seed pearls, the fur in her cloak is too white and soft for practicality, though at least her suede boots appear reasonable.
Elain canters up to the gate then: a sober-looking soldier with a square jaw and close-cropped hair. He assesses Alexei and nods. "Serjeant Elain ap Cadwgan, Soldat de Domo Tremeris," he offers by way of introduction. (This nomenclature is specific to mundane soldiers in service to House Tremere, as opposed to magi doctrinae Tremeris.)
Laetitia smiles warmly. "Elain is my shield and companion; the owl is my familiar, Glaukopis."
The small brown owl turns its head to stare at Alexei. He speaks, in perfect unaccented German, "Greetings, magus Flambonis. I prefer to introduce myself, but the lady does so love to hear herself speak."
Laetitia smiles, oblivious to the meaning behind Glaukopis' chatter. "Would you be able to introduce me to your princeps, Ser Alexei?"
(Edited for font colour, once I got home from work. --A)
The smile on Alexei's face suggests he's definitely subject to flattery. He shakes the hand of Elain firmly and gives a crisp "Sergeant." before walking up to the Maga and bowing again.
"A Maga of Guernicus, we are honored..." he leans in and winks "...even if it is cold call. Cold calls lead to warm receptions sometimes eh?" he waves back into the gate. "Come...we shall adjourn to the buildings before you catch cold. Our current Princeps is Fieltarn Ex Miscellenea. If this is official business, you might have use of me. It would not be the first time I have assisted a Quaesitor on business. Come though, they say I speak naught but hot air at times, it will still be far warmer inside with a cup of mulled wine."
(Invisible Castle is down-- wtf? Anyway I rolled a Charm of 16, assuming Alexei prefers women. An opposed Folk Ken would probably tell Alexei that Laetitia is flirting because she knows it's effective, and not out of any real interest. And probably because she couldn't not flirt if her life depended on it.)
The soldier gives the "dude-nod" (you know, that way guys do that inscrutable nod of recognition, to people they don't actually know). Laetitia gives a graceful curtsy.
"Use you? That's terribly forward of y-- oh! OH! No no no, my business today is nothing requiring hoplites, heaven forbid. Besides, I've only just escaped Valerian's charming conversation yesterday," she states in a tone which clearly indicates that she finds the aforementioned Chief Hoplite's company to be anything BUT charming. "Vinum Hippocraticum is quite my favourite way to warm up on a cold winter's day! ...Or second favourite, perhaps. Lead the way, handsome."
The flush in Alexei's cheeks does not come from the cold night air as he regards Laetitia with all his attention, her charms not wasted on him.
"By all means sodale. Please, we shall head to the manor and get a room made for you. Our barracks are quite comfortable for Elain and other men you might have with you. Reynault, the majordomo shall see to your needs. So come, come, before the cold bites harder. I shall send word to the Princeps and join you for dinner. If you have no need of a Miles I shall see if I can make myself useful still!"
He waves them inside the gate and leads the way towards the manor house, stopping by a page to send word to Reynault and then Fieltarn.
Laetitia is gracious and gratuitously flirtatious, but allows herself only one glass of wine before cutting herself off. "I am a professional, of course... Do you think your princeps will be long? I should like to get business out of the way as soon as possible, so as not to delay pleasure any longer than necessary."
Reynault coughs, indicating he is going to interrupt the discussion between the two magi. "If the maga will forgive, our Princeps was busy with a matter involving wolves harrassing one of our shepherds and appears to be missing, although we're keeping a watch for him at his last known location. I've alerted the Vice Princeps, but he is often, and here Reynault pauses over long and his cheeks turn crimson, but not from the warm glow of the room, and then he clears his throat to regain his train of thought. "He is often indisposed for long periods of time. I expect he will be along when he can be."
[OOC: chico's character is the current Vice at this time. Although, Laetitia can feel free to interact with whomever...]
Laetitia's face clouds with concern. "Is he in any danger? Where was he last seen? I would be glad to help locate him if he might require aid," she offers. "If you could gather a bit of his hair or some such, I could locate him quite easily so long as I cast precisely at sundown or sunrise."
"Regardless, in lieu of your Princeps or Vice Princeps, perhaps I could speak informally with Alexei here and Korvin... And perhaps Fiona as well, if she is available."
She leans over to Alexei and whispers to him such that her lips just slightly brush against his ear: "Forgive the intrusion... I have learned the hard way, never to mix business with... recreation."
Reynault offers the bit of information he knows passed along from Willhelm, who is likely still waiting. "The maga is gracious, but we should, perhaps, wait a while for him to return. It is unknown if Master Fieltarn is in any danger, as we seem to be unable to enter the suspected regio in or around the ruined Temple of Janus. He was last seen entering the temple having assumed his wolven form on the night of the first full moon. We can't seem to locate any entrance into a regio." [It is well known that Fieltarn is a werewolf. and he is meticulous about ensuring he is either secured or in a position to not bring ruin upon his sodales while he is transformed.]
Given Hitsumei's absence, I'm unwilling to nail down a firm timeline of events, but let's say it is a day or two after the last rise of the full moon, which would be roughly contemperaneous with his awakening in that thread. I'd like to give the player the benefit of the doubt about returning, as he and I had some very extensive correspondence before he joined the game. I know he recently had some health trouble, and I am hoping that his health is not preventing him from returning soon or for good. I'm going to allow him until mid January to respond to any threads or PM me...]
"I have sent word to him, but he is, a, uh... discharging other duties." [OOC: it is likely that your character has seen the charter, and can see that duties are shared, giving magi a lot of free time to pursue their interests, whatever they might be... The Vice Princeps position is expected to get called upon very rarely.]
"Fine. Whatever is more important than your vis sources, is up to you. Can you send for Korvin and Fiona, or are they indisposed as well?" Annoyed, Laetitia pours herself another glass of hypocras and takes a long draught.
As soon as they've left, she turns to Alexei, and puts on the business face. "Look, I'm going to just level with you," she states. "Proctor is an ass, and Mons Electi has made it onto his radar. Everyone knows your covenant has far more vis sources than claimed. Proctor hasn't issued an investigation for plundering charges-- and in case you don't know him very well, the only reason he could possibly have for exercising restraint, would be if he had something else planned that suits his agenda better... and I think I know what that is. Anyway, I am sure you have your reasons and I can't fault anyone for wanting to keep the Tribunal's nose out of one's business, but please believe me when I say it would be a very good idea for you to register your vis sources while I'm here. I know that's asking for a lot of trust, and I'm a complete stranger, with only speculation and innuendo to relay, and no proof. But that's what's on the table." She sighs. "I apologize for my complete lack of tact here. I'm not a vellum pusher, I'm an advocate, and far better at it than that tool Cavillor. I hate this bureaucratic bullshit almost as much as I hate staying at Confluensis, and... I need another glass of wine, or five."
(Edit: I was going to retcon this to time it after Fiona's arrival so as not to have to recap all that info, and then changed my mind. Sorry :p)