When Alexei returns to his quarters, he is startled to find Laetitia and Glaukopis seated in a chair in his outer antechamber (outside his sanctum boundary). The armour he lent her is folded neatly and lying on the table beside her, next to a hard leather scroll case.
"Alexei." Her voice sounds tired, and she seems to have aged a decade since they saw each other last, just the day before, but she still smiles wryly when she sees him. "Do you have some time? There is much we have to discuss."
Alexei is somewhat disheveled but also strangely energized. His robes are wrinkled, hair mussed and eyes bloodshot. He looks up in surprise at the unexpected visitors, his hand raising his staff for a moment. Recognition returns after a tense second.
"Laetitia! I...of course I have time!" he runs a hand through his hair as he lowers his staff and begins to wrestle out of the suit of chain and padding he was wearing. "Some time at any rate. Obviously you know that many things have happened and I have few answers...but much intent and resolve." he says as he pulls a cloth tunic off a hook and throws it on to cover his scarred and hairy chest. He looks at Leatita again as he heads for the pitcher of wine that Helmut had left. "And much desire...for where I might direct that intent."
"Actually... I may be able to provide some answers."
She will quickly relate the same story she told Korvin just a few hours before.... with one exception. When she recounts about all she'd heard been told about Xenophon, and why she went to Magvillus to tell them Xenophon still lived, she pushes the leather scroll case across the table towards Alexei. The case's cover is inscribed with the Guernicus house seal; it is the official seal used on the House's most confidential documents. Inside it is a lab text for what seems to be some kind of Rego Mentem ritual. It's not fully Hermetic, as it seems to describe an indefinite duration.
"I... I'd like to say that Fenicil's oathbinding forced me to give up Apollodorus. But the truth is, I don't know. I didn't feel compelled. I really thought I was doing the right thing, forcing the Inner Council to move openly. I thought they would leave us all alone." Her eyes well up with tears. "And-- it's not just that, either. Caecilius overcame my Parma-- told me he and Valerian and Romulus needed invitations into our Aegis, that they were going to apologize to Apollodorus just as soon as I fetched them casting tokens so they could translocate themselves here... He made me believe such implausible lies, and I knew he'd overcome my Parma, I felt it, but I believed it anyway, and I-- it's all my fault," she bursts into tears and buries her face in Alexei's chest... mostly because she's too ashamed to look at him.
Alexei stays surprisingly calm as he drinks his cup of wine and looks at the sheaves of paper of the ritual, it looked like some kind of Mentem, but had a lot of strangeness that he didn't quite get...was it even fully Hermetic? At the revelation of the token and Caecilius he still stayed calm, putting his wine cup down.
"So that is how they entered, you gave them a token. I revoked it, just as a precaution when they revealed themselves. So who is it that we have then? It's not Valerian." he turns to look at her as the tears roll down. He doesn't move to console her or level recriminations. "Stop that. You were tricked, if Garus or someone from the Miles asked me for a token, I'd likely give one just for the sake of courtesy. These are Hoplites, Hell if they asked me I might do the same...before yesterday." he sits down and pours three cups of wine, one for each of them.
Laetitia dries her tears and responds hotly, "But I WASN'T tricked! It was a ridiculous second magnitude Rego Mentem spell. I KNEW he'd penetrated my Parma and I still couldn't rationalize myself out of obeying him." Her face burns red with anger and shame. "Wait-- you have one of them here?" Her brow furrows in worry. "We can't-- oh but they attacked-- but-- I just can't think straight, the Code assumes that magi don't just do things like they've done, so there's no precedents for what recourse we have as the wronged party. Caecilius is the one who looks like an ugly woman. Romulus is the one who's had his nose broken more times than he's had Corpus vis for."
She sighs in frustration, but clearly having a problem to focus on helps distract her from the self-loathing and shame. She accepts her cup thankfully, though Glaukopis demurs, "Oh, thank you, but I don't drink."
"It's not the entire House; it is the Inner Council only. But of course they are the highest-ranking members the House, and command much respect; their subordinates will have no reason to believe they shouldn't follow orders, so... it is safest to trust none of them. Nor any Hoplites they command.
"Alexei, the ritual I first mentioned- the one they taught me, under the pretense that the Order of Odin might threaten us? Moebius heard them discussing me; they were going to ritually murder me to lay a Curse of Thoth on Mons Electi. They were only going to wait until after I'd given birth-- and then only out of respect for my father, who thought I was an acceptable loss so long as he safely held my replacement." She puts both hands on her belly protectively, and her eyes blaze with anger. "They are not playing games; they are committed to seeing this through. They want us out of their way, and will exercise no restraint. They had planned to shed my blood to eliminate this covenant the same way they eliminated Diedne."
About a week after Apollodorus is lost, and every magus but Fiona has returned, Alexei calls a council. Laetitia has kept to herself since arrival, although Korvin and Alexei have both sent word that she isn't as culpable as one might believe.
Fieltarn and Jormungand have withdrawn from the covenant for personal reasons, and have done so prior to the events that recently took place.
(Not entirely sure about the timing here. I would have thought that Abigael would have arrived with Korvin sometime during 1222.1, or at least by the end of it. Which means that presumably she would have been part of 1222.2 (summer?), but I guess we can handwave it and have this be, for some reason, also her first meeting)
Viscaria greets Abigael with her typical impulsive hugging. "Ah, but it is no longer to be Abigael, is it? For soon you shall have to choose the name of your apprenticeship. And then, who knows what name you will go by when we meet as equals, eh? Eh?"
Alexei has been directing grogs and servants to set up the council area. Extra seats are put around the table and plenty of refreshments. It also seems he has been keeping some things a bit secret, or at least moving around with more discretion where he's ordinarily forthright and bold. His servant and scribe Helmut has been spreading the word and asking everyone to make sure they have all things they wish to report as well as discuss regarding the recent events. It seems that Alexei's initial desire for blood has possibly cooled a bit as he has not stormed out to try and break into Magvillus and kill Valeran.
He stops at Laetitia's shortly before the meeting. "How are you my Sodale? Are you ready to attend and show yourself? I believe your return has been somewhat of a secret, but nothing lasts forever. We will want to hear your explanations and what information you have. It might not be pretty, but you revealed yourself to me...and I didn't try to kill you. You shall likely be alright with the rest." he offers his arm. "Shall we?"
As Alexei and Laetitia pass through her door, they feel an earthquake hit, strong enough to rattle the dishes and kick up a lot of dust, but not strong enough to cause any real damage. If they look around, they can see Fiona standing at the exit to the mundane side of the regio.