1223.2a Interludes in Surreal Time

Alexei gives a slight smile and nods at her talk of Apollodorous and her expression of remorse and he takes her hand. "Thank you. He was a friend, a gentleman. Something I have come to appreciate this late in my career. When I was younger I might have considered him a dandy, perhaps worse...but as I have become more well travelled, I came to admire his gentelesse, and saw something that many older magi could emulate. Knowing now all that he was involved with I am all the more impressed that he managed to keep it all together as he did." he heaves a sigh.

"I don't know how much he told you of the things that he's been involved in, that by joining his Covenant, we became involved in. If you join, you'll join a prestigious, powerful...dangerous Covenant. You will take a seat at a table with some friends and more enemies. Power undreamed, danger unimagined. This is what Mons Electi has come to mean to me. Are these things you desire?" he places his hand on her shoulder. "Think hard...I did not when I accepted Appollodorus's offer." he pauses to think and gives her shoulder another pat. "But I do not regret it."

[color=magenta]"I do not avoid danger," Tranquillina insists, perhaps a bit stridently. [color=magenta]"Nor do I covet power that would destabilize the Order. I seek only to prove myself a true maga to my sodales, under circumstances well suited for refinement. It was these circumstances that Apollodorus offered...."

She pauses for a moment, blinking heavily, though she appears untired from the ordeal the night before. [color=magenta]"You counsel patience, Alexei, and deep thought, and I twice agree with you. I should explain that I have done nothing but think about Mons Electi for the past half year and more, since I last heard from a magus who had already departed this world. Time to ponder I have had; information, I have not."

Tranquillina looks down for a moment, then places her hand on Alexei's upper arm. [color=magenta]"You have the advantage of me, where that relevant information is concerned, as well as widsom. Is it rude of me to seek your guidance, now when you have more important affairs on your mind?" she asks, motioning to his partially packed belongings. [color=magenta]"What can you tell me of the many involvements of our Jerbiton friend? What are the dangers you would warn me of?"

Alexei regards the maga for a moment or two, wondering whether or not he should share the information, the burden with her. Considering what Ra'am had said regarding his own involvement, it was fair to say that more than Alexei knew were involved and on the side against the Guernicus, than he originally knew. Perhaps this wouldn't be a surprise?

"Before I begin...and I will tell you, answer me this question and skip any hyperbole or secrets that you think might be involved. Do you know anything of Apollodorus's murder?" He stresses the last word so as to draw out any true feelings and notions from her, perhaps also to shock and surprise.

With a sharp intake of breath, Tranquillina reaches out to the nearby wall to steady herself. [color=magenta]"His murder?! What happened? Who would do such a thing?" She looks across the room, at nothing in particular, her mouth frozen open. Either she is sincerely shocked at the revelation, or she is a very good actor indeed. ((Feel free to make a Folk Ken roll.))

After a moment she shakes her head. [color=magenta]"You asked ... I do not know anything of this evil event. In troth, Tria's quick message counseling patience was quite vague; until this moment I was not even sure whether Apollodorus suffered a Final Twilight or a mundane end."

Images of her recently discarded life at Nigrasaxa, where the most desperate issue was getting magi to actually show up for the Stonehenge Tribunal meetings, flash through her mind. At this news of Apollodorus's murder, a part of her is even less regretful that she sought a new life in Normandy; realizing this makes her feel somewhat ashamed.

Alexei firmly, but carefully takes Tranquilliana by the shoulders and leads her to a chair to sit down. "I am sorry to be so blunt with you, circumstances being what they are, I couldn't afford to speak of the subject and dance around this topic. Apollodorus was murdered, assasinated by a foul blackguard that wears the robes of righteousness and protection, acting as our defender while killing those who dissent. Valerian the Guernicus Hoplite and a cabal of conspirators invaded our home and blatantly attacked Apollodorus!"

Alexei's eyes are wide and his teeth are bared as he remembers the brazen attack. "We defended as best we could, but I had trusted them in the first place and they gained entry with tokens I had provided for our Aegis and never rescinded until too late. We managed to capture one, but he killed himself rather than speak. It was later that we discovered why; Apollodorus has been on the run from Guernicus for decades, he has uncovered their treachery and the truth behind the Duresca Scrolls! They silenced him! And they attacked and killed my Primus Garus that same night! To prevent my House from mobilizing, they hoped to put one of their own into Garus place. We prevented that, but the choice was somewhat of a compromise. We should be on a war footing, but are not as yet." he sighs and runs a hand through his hair.

"This is likely far more than you could ever expect, and I have endangered you by even letting you know this much. But this is what awaits you at Mons Electi. This is what I meant by dangers unimagined. If you still wish to join, if this does not turn you away, if you wish to join not our Covenant...but our cause, then you are welcome, and I will sponsor you."

((Is Alexei always this high-touch with people? If it's an unconscious manifestation of his Short-Ranged Magic, that's pretty cool!))

Tranquillina willingly accepts the seat. [color=magenta]"The murderer is a Quaesitor?! Tria warned me that their House is not as wholly trustworthy as the stories recited to apprentices might indicate ... but this level of corruption? It's simply unthinkable. When will this Valerian be brought to justice? Were there witnesses to the heinous act?"

She continues sitting, looking into the air instead of at Alexei. [color=magenta]"Such acts are intolerable. The entire purpose of the Order of Hermes is so that we can each be empowered to discover and practice our magic as we wish, with the security given by joint understanding. Treacheries of this nature - crimes against nature - upheave the standing peace; indeed, if as pervasive in House Guernicus as I now fear, they threaten to throw the entire Order into war once more. Such an outcome must be opposed, at any cost." Only now does she look down at her hands on the armrests of the chair, deliberately unballing her fists.

[color=magenta]"Your bluntness is appreciated, Alexei of Flambeau, not to be apologized for," she reassures him. [color=magenta]"Even so I can scarcely believe you.... And Garus? Again, not only dead, but murdered? Ariel never gave the merest hint to me.... And you mentioned, at one point, the 'truth' behind the Duresca scrolls? I know little of the content of these ancient letters, only that they were declared fraudulent." ((Int 1 + Order of Hermes Lore 1 + stress die 5 = 9.))

Several minutes later, after the most intense topics of conversations have been exhausted, Tranquillina paces the room with her hands clasped behind her. [color=magenta]"I hesitate to bring up less serious matters than these, but it would be remiss of me not to make some practical inquiries regarding Hermetic life at Mons Electi. How are resources measured and allocated among the council members? What are the temporal obligations of magi to the covenant? Apollodorus was never loquacious on these topics, pledging that such matters would take care of themselves at the appropriate time...."

((Yeah Alexei is that 'close-talker' type. It's part of his short ranged magic, but also part of his Gentle Gift and positive social abilities, which most Magi don't have. Whereas other Magi offend by their odious Gift and typical personalities, Alexei usually impresses))

Alexei is making grimacing smile as the natural questions come up. "Witnesses? Half of the Covenant, mine own eyes. The blood off my spear from one of the assasins, they killed several grogs and covenfolk and were witnessed by others. I'd take a questioning at any time under Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie and so would any at Mons Electi that were there that night; Apollodorus was much loved. And believe there are none that would disbelieve a conspiracy such as this more than me...one of my goals was to become a Hoplite. But now I see what they are about; protecting the ignoble deeds and plans of Guernicus, with murder and villainy. Regarding Garus's death and Ariel's silence, it is to be expected and not in my belief in any way connected to this. She merely wishes to keep the circumstances of the death of our Primus within our House." at the mention of the Covenant's resources Alexei makes a more genuine smile.

"Now that is what I expected. It is vital to know what you'd be getting for the...other issues that come with membership." he pauses as he thinks. "Bah, I wish my boy Helmut was here, he keeps track of these things for me. I have never had much of a head for numbers and resources. It is generous though, Mons Electi has a lot of vis and is ideally placed in the Tribunal. It's library is adequate, and we shall soon be improving upon it with books copied directly from the libraries of Durnemar. Silver is plentiful so we can gain the mundane resources needed to run a proper lab, and it is peopled with a diverse group and many grogs to provide protection. It is ideal, believe me."

[color=magenta]"With all this evidence against Valerian, he will certainly be brought to justice, will he not? They cannot ignore verified spoken testimony and Arcane evidence."

Tranquillina smiles faintly, for the first time in quite a while. [color=magenta]"I am glad to hear of your abundance at Mons Electi. I fear I cannot contribute too much to that, save my own abilities: besides the major items of study from my laboratory, I was unable to secure aught from Nigrasaxa except a summa on the Art of Creo and a couple of my pater's laboratory texts. Certainly I have no warriors or retinue of any kind." She says this last with her chin raised, as if preempting any judgment from Alexei.

Alexei's smile fades. "Under honourable men, this crime would already be punished. Under an equitable system, Valerian would have been Marched already. The ones we accuse will be our judges in this! They have the entire Order believing them over us. They...tricked Tremere and my House to attack Diedne, and when that wasn't enough just simply renounced the entire House!" he pauses to let that sink in. "Yes...they are responsible for the Schism War as well. That is how far back this goes, how desperately they will protect their plans. Any evidence we make would be considered fabricated or destroyed, assuming we weren't outright attacked and Marched. The fact that they did not descend en masse, in my estimation, shows that they do not consider us much of a threat, which might be our means to victory."

"Don't worry about material contributions. Some that have joined came with more, others with less. Apollodorus's desires were to share what he had accumulated over his very long career as a Magus. That is one desire that has lived on past his untimely murder. Write a letter to the Council of Mons Electi. I will countersign it, as I might not be there when it arrives. And then I suggest you begin settling your affairs here." he lays a hand on her shoulder. "You have my blessing and acceptance to Mons Electi...for whatever that is worth."

Her smile deepens, and some of her distress drains away at Alexei's endorsement. [color=magenta]"I shall do exactly that, kind sir - I'll return a bit after sunset." Before turning to step out of Alexei's quarters, Tranquillina clasps his hand firmly with both of hers. [color=magenta]"You cannot know how valuable your explanations are to me, Alexei ex Flambeau. I thank you, and my true wishes for success go with you on your journey. And, of course, my renewed sympathies for the tragic loss of Apollodorus." With a final squeeze, she releases his hand and departs, giving one last comment back over her shoulder: [color=magenta]"Let us see how the addition of my voice can help effect the revenge that is deserved on that score...."

As promised, she returns after sunset, with a letter already bearing her signature and a (larger) space reserved for his. She brings a lit candle for its wax drippings, and a well-worn coin (which she shows him with a smile) that she will use to mark the seal on the letter.

After taking her leave of Alexei, Tranquillina will try to go to sleep (though the rush of new information, together with the lingering Endurance of the Berserkers, will make that difficult). The next day, she will try to find time in Prospero's schedule to convey her hope that Mons Electi will be accepting her. She will then seek out Ra'am for conversation....

((Jonathan: it looks like I'll be spending the bulk of 1223.2 at Le Maison. How should I handle study/experience?))

Ra'am and his daughter are in the library. They are both reading books, as Tranquillina approaches she can see that Ra'am is reading a book authored by Prospero, his name is clearly displayed on the top of each page, along with the title, Topics on Mastery of the Fickle Winds. She can't see what Elizbaeth is reading without a roll or some sort of obvious reading over the shoulder.

Tranquillina will use the same facial appearance ("herself" in her mid-thirties) she used when healing Ra'am, since this is how Elizabeth knows her. As is a not uncommon tactic for her, she'll change her outfit to one that matches (as well as she is able) the style of clothing that Ra'am wears ((Finesse roll: Int 3 + Finesse 2 + simple die 9 = 14)); she'll keep the clothing comfortable and allow her Bonisagus fibula to remain prominent. She'll tap on the frame of the door to the library before entering.

[color=magenta]"Ah, Ra'am, I came to see how you were doing - but if you are already delving through the library, you must be feeling better indeed!" she beams, nodding politely to each of them. [color=magenta]"Let's see, you've chosen ... a book on Auram, it seems?" She's certainly curious enough to see what Elizabeth is reading, and will be patient for an opportunity to catch the title and so on; but she won't go crazy trying to see. ((Awareness roll: Per 2 + Awareness 2 + simple die 8 = 12))

[color=magenta]"Please excuse my confusion - the events of two nights ago happened quickly for us all - but I still lack a bit of surety: am I correct that the two of you are related by blood, rather than by Hermetic lineage?"

Ra'am is dressed for warmer climes. "After some initial fatigue cured by a good night's sleep, I'm well. Thank you for the efforts on my behalf." In response to her query as to what he's reading, "Well, yes and no, it a tractatus on controlling magic, specifically Auram magics. Prospero thought it advisable that I enhance my understanding before a return trip home. I've sent word that I'll be absent for the summer, and what has happened here, including my own folly. And in answer to your question, Elizabeth is my daughter. I was married before I was apprenticed, my daughters were born while I was apprenticed."

[color=magenta]"I'm happy to have been able to help," Tranquillina replies, smiling at the affirmation. She appears dressed for warmth as well, although in truth she is not overheated. [color=magenta]"Though I was certainly not the only one; we were fortunate that Elizabeth was here - not only as a personal solace for you, but also to lend her significant power to our healing ritual."

[color=magenta]"I find it quite wondrous, to be honest - a Gifted magus with a Gifted daughter. Really I'm not sure I've ever known of such a case before ... have you?" she asks, addressing them both. Technically this is probably a true statement, but since there are rumors of Ra'am's two children floating around the Order, she is playing a little dumb here; so let's make a Guile roll just in case. Looks like her Aura of Ennobled Presence lapsed this morning (simple die 2 for extended duration), and she didn't think to check or renew it. Prs 2 + Guile 3 + stress die 6 = 11.

"Most magi don't marry, nor have children, though. Too busy chasing for power and begin their longevity ritual. Aurulentus Jerbitonis has children, and indeed, his Gift has descended along that line. There is an element of faerie at work there, though. Still the concept is valid, that the Gift can appear along hereditary lines. I, for example and descended from Mercere. Although that is a matter for some debate, but our genealogical records do line up with a descendant of Mercere in antiquity. It's how Abigail became eligible to be Korvin's apprentice." Ra'am says distractedly as he's perusing the volume before him.

((Int 3 + Order of Hermes Lore 1 + stress die 7 = 11. Good, must have come up in letters with Apollodorus))
[color=magenta]"Ah, Korvin, the Mercere magus at Mons Electi! I have heard of him through my correspondence with them." Tranquillina's mind races as she tries to put together the pieces of what she's been told. [color=magenta]"And Abigail - his apprentice ... she is, related to the two of you?" She tries to include Elizabeth in the conversation, though to this point the daughter has been pretty content keeping her nose in her book.

[color=magenta]"And Aurulentus ex Jerbiton ... that name rings a faint bell with me ... hmmm. Some years ago, in Stonehenge, perhaps. I'll have to go through my letters...."

Ra'am puts the book aside, "Ahh, yes, Abigail is my youngest daughter, now apprenticed to Korvin Merceris. She and I have...disagreements. I didn't think we could be an effective master/student pairing. My main line of research is based off his original idea, although his route has proved to be not fruitful for me. Aurulentus invented a longevity ritual that worked for him and his wife that preserved their fertility. I'm pursuing a more generic ritual, to work for anyone. Aurulentus, unfortunately, is a Jerbiton who subscribes to sufficiency. His needs have been met, so he so reason to continue his research. I'm convinced that he would have resolved this for the Order as a whole many years ago. Such is life, though. In any event, I'll be able to create such a ritual, and perhaps Korvin will be able to complete his, and my daughter, Abigail, when she becomes a maga of the Order and pursue integrating both effects into one ritual."

[color=magenta]"That research sounds fascinating," Tranquillina says, truthfully, as she takes a seat near him. [color=magenta]"Many have written theoretical tracts postulating causes for the Longevity Ritual's sterilizing effects, as you surely know, but actually putting those theories to the test.... Did Aurulentus find that the form of the Ritual was important, be it a potion, a bath, a tincture, or the like? Have you read the theory that unconscious inclusion of Muto magic in the development of such a Ritual is the disruptor of the beneficiary's Essential Nature, and that a strict anti-Muto regime would succeed in removing the unwanted sterilization? ..."

Tranquillina is more than willing to talk shop with Ra'am all he wants, particularly about Corpus, with no particular agenda other than cultivating a collegial relationship; she would certainly, at the end of such a discussion, ask permission to continue conversations with him on the topic over the rest of the season, as well as to correspond with him in the future once they both leave (or maybe that request can wait until later in the summer). She will also mention that her pater Maximianus worked for a time on the Longevity Project at Sinews of Knowledge in the Greater Alps, and will offer to introduce them via letter should Ra'am express interest.

At some later point, when the conversation reaches a lull but is otherwise going successfully, Tranquillina gets up to examine one of the nearby busts in the library. [color=magenta]"Is Abigail doing well in her Hermetic studies, then? So many feel homesick during their apprenticeships; at times the encouragement of one's pater is the only thing keeping an apprentice going. Does she get along well with Korvin ex Mercere?" she asks innocently.

"Abigail has written infrequently. But from what I gather, she is accepting Korvin's instruction quite well. He had a bit of a prize as I had taught her for a bit before selling her to Korvin." Ra'am does talk shop for as long as Tranquillina wants. Ra'am's understanding of Corpus is less advanced than her's, but his application of theoretical principles is unmatched, even discussing how he plans to utilize his two apprentices in his research and how he's subdivided the tasks they complete under his supervision.

Tranquillina fancies herself a fair master of Magic Theory, but is thrilled to speak with someone more able, who enjoys a good theoretical discussion (without making her feel inferior). ((Those two apprentices are Elizabeth and Ulrich, right? Although maybe Tranquillina hasn't even met Ulrich.))

Before she leaves: [color=magenta]"You are looking quite healthy and sound, sodalis; but I am of the type to measure twice when possible. Would you consent to a casting of Revealed Flaws of Mortal Flesh upon your person? I certainly accept that you might prefer otherwise, and will not be offended if you decline." If he does consent, she will ask him respectfully to suppress his magic resistance, and then cast the spell spontaneously, with very definite words and gestures to make it clear that it's an Intellego Corpus spell. ((Co 27 is already high enough for a level-10 spell, so let's just check for a botch: nope, fine.))

In any case, Tranquillina will thank him for a long and pleasant conversation and retire. (She'll also say goodbye to Elizabeth if she's still there and can be verified to be alive....) She will definitely be happy to talk shop with Ra'am again as opportunity presents itself over the summer.

((Speaking of which ... what are Tranquillina's options for study/advancement for the 1223.2 season?))