1225.2 Cuts Like a Hot Knife Through Buttah

About two weeks after this letter arrives, a couple on horse back arrive at Mons Electi and request hospitality, saying that they've been invited by Viscaria who has commissioned a Oeuvre d'art in impeccable French.
"I am Praxiteles Jerbitonis, and with me is my wife Alips. I am here to see Viscaria and request to be invited into the Aegis." Beside him is a woman of stunning beauty. The guards can't help but look slack jawed at the beautiful woman. She dismounts, and as she leans forward it seems as if her shirt opens a bit and her the top of her full and creamy bosom shines like a bright light at the guards, whose mouths remain agape. One guard runs off, obviously distracted by Alips beauty and the odd phrasing runs off to fetch Viscaria. Praxiteles has a bit of an exasperated look when he dismounts as the guard runs off.
She smiles sweetly at the guard and tosses her head from side to side to put her long, black hair behind her back. She looks him squarely in the eye and says in French, "Would you be a dear, and take care of our horses?" She hands him the reins to her horse, and Praxiteles follows suit.
Praxiteles and Alips walk off towards the manor house, hand in hand, leaving the guard staring at Alips pleasing backside for some considerable time while dumbly holding onto the reins of both horses.

((Amul doesn't have to be the one to respond initially, we can presume that Viscaria warned that a magus would be arriving, even including a name, and someone else can greet him.))

Tranquillina is standing on a small but lush rug in her laboratory, holding a spleen in one hand and a partial skeletal foot in the other, tugging idly at the flexus hallucis longus tendon as she decides what to do with the two items. Unexpectedly she hears the bell in her receiving room being rung, quite vigorously in fact. She frowns, the big toe curling under again as she takes her thumb off the tendon, and puts both items down on top of one of her specimen displays. The several interconnected cabinets (wooden, extremely well made, with little runes carved into the corners) have been moved out from a pile against one wall, allowing her much greater access to the large collection of body parts magically preserved therein. This operation, however, has meant a bit of reshuffling of the rest of the room's contents, for which quite a lot of work remains; and that doesn't even count the organization of the specimens themselves within the cabinets.

[color=magenta]Why didn't I wait until another winter to yet again dishevel my lab? she bemoans to herself as she toss a quick Perdo Corpus cantrip at her hands to remove some blood and a few bits of sinew. [color=magenta]At least then I'm not missing as much lovely weather. Ah well, I suppose it will be worth it to finally exhibit my collection as respects its due stature, she sighs as she crosses out of her sanctum.

In her receiving room is one of the members of the turb, panting heavily enough (for a man in such good shape) that Tranquillina assumes he must have sprinted here. She experiences only a moment of rising alarm, though, before a stream of mediocre Latin comes rattling out of his mouth. "BeggingyourextremepardonMiladybutwehavevisitors,amancalledPraxitelesJerbitonisandhiswifeAlips;" here the grog's only breath, a deep, lingering inhalation, interrupts his announcement; "andtheyareaskingforViscariabutsheandTheraphosacannotbeinterruptednow,andtheInterpresisoffreadingsomewhereandcannotbefound."

Tranquillina blinks once or twice before the words sort themselves out in her mind. [color=magenta]"I ... see, ah, yes, Korvin did mention that Viscaria was expecting a visitor from House Jerbiton. I will greet him momentarily. Mind your behavior is at its best!" she says, or rather calls to the spot whence the soldier sped before she was halfway done with her words. She could swear she hears him whooping happily as he heads back towards the road to the manor.

Brow creased in confusion, she sets off at a more dignified pace. She first heads to a storage room behind the library, where she tiptoes carefully (eyes almost shut) around the covenant vis stores and takes a casting token in hand. Successfully escaping the tormenting room, she takes several deep breaths while casting Disguise of the New Visage upon herself so that she looks about 40 years old, with thought lines on her forehead and hair updone in a decorous double braid. As she approaches the flight of stairs leading up to ground level, she firmly grasps the lapels of her cloak to change her outfit into a flattering formal dress, green with leaf-and-vine motifs, that she has enjoyed wearing a few times over the past year on suitably momentous occasions. She reaches the manor's front door, smooths out her long skirt unnecessarily, and walks out with great stateliness to greet their visitors.

((That storage room doesn't hold too much....just whatever is accumulated during the year...of course the discussion of how vis gets allocated is also a good discussion to have if revamping the governance. Just stirring the pot...))

((Changing the scene a bit, too.))
One of the household staff has seated Praxiteles and Alips in the parlour, waiting for someone to greet them. Praxiteles is sipping some wine he was served, while Alips is licking her lips, apparently unconsciously, whenever a handsome servant walks by. Praxiteles is oblivious or ignoring the behavior. Alips, is also sitting in a most unladylike fashion, with her legs spread wantonly, slouching a bit, almost inviting anyone to stare at her, which a few of the servants do, while she pretends to not notice at first, and then she catches their eye and blows them a kiss and gives them a wink.

Tranquillina catches this and observes it all quietly for a few moments...

On the way out the manor's front door, Tranquillina notices a bustle of servant activity towards the parlour and redirects herself there; she sees that Praxiteles and Alips have already been invited in and given a bit of hospitality. She enters the room smiling and opens her mouth to greet them; for a brief moment, as she takes in Alips's salacious behaviour, she can't quite start her sentence.

[color=magenta]"Salve, sodalis, and greetings milady. I am Tranquillina Bonisagi. On behalf of our council, I welcome you to Mons Electi. May your visit be comfortable and fruitful." She offers him a casting token. ((what are our casting tokens? something Apollodorian...?))

[color=magenta]"Viscaria is just concluding a delicate task in her laboratory, but she knows of your arrival and will come down to join us very soon. In the meantime, may I offer you anything more substantial," she glances at Alips with a tiny cough, [color=magenta]"in the way of food?"

"Hmm? Oh, yes. I am Praxiteles, and my wife, Alips." She doesn't really change her behavior quickly. She stands, but leans over as she stands, allowing her creamy white bosom to display to any who will look, then walks over to Tranquillina and comes in close, grabbing Tranquillina's hand in her own two hand and shaking it firmly and slowly, smiling and looking her in the eye the whole time. The handshake goes on for a long period of time, perhaps a moment too long, and she finally releases Tranquillina's hand while biting her bottom lip and offering a brief murmur of regret.

"Well, Viscaria can make her appearance at any time, to my understanding the piece wasn't for her, she was facilitating the arrangement. The commission is for someone else, someone who is giant blooded, or some such, if I recall her letter accurately." It's tough to tell if Praxiteles is inobservant of his wife's behavior, or just tolerant of it, and ignores it.

"I can always be enticed to partake of a tasty treat." She says as she licks her lips lasciviously. She goes back over to her chair and grabs her wine glass from the table. She displays her profile to Tranquillina and drinks the wine quickly, with a drop or two escaping and going down the sides of her mouth. She uses her tongue to expertly collect the errant drops and gives a small giggle.

[color=magenta]"Ah, I see - that would be Fiona. I'll send word to her," Tranquillina assures him; she turns, with a brief sidelong glance at Alips, to instruct a servant to give the news to the giant-blooded maga. She also has brought in a tray of local melon, dense and sweet and fragrant, along with some hearty bread and sheep's butter. Just for ducks, she'll tap in to her magical sense while positioning the tray on the table, just to see if Alips is secretly a magical beastie or bedecked in enchantments or something. ((Per 2 + Magic Sensitivity 3 (specialization in magic creatures) + simple die 6 = 11, enough to sense a creature of Magic Might 15 or higher, or an enchantment or active spell of level 50 or higher :slight_smile: ))

Tranquillina lowers herself into one of the comfortable seats, closer to Praxiteles than to his wife. [color=magenta]"I am always interested to receive visitors and hear about their homes. Where have you traveled from? And what sort of piece have we commissioned from you?"

Loys finds Fiona at her cottage, where she is reading one the Corpus Tropea after having gone out for a quick stroll to stretch her legs and get a breath of fresh air. After delivering the message, Fiona thanks him and tells him to tell them that she will be there directly.

She then goes to her wardrobe and pulls out her formal, go-to-meetin' robes (since Loys didn't tell her much beyond "Tranquillina asked me to fetch you, since you have visitors" and he was anxious to go back to [strike]ogle Alips[/strike] check out our esteemed guests some more).

It's not much longer before Fiona arrives.

My. My. Forgive me, I wasn't expecting a real giant! I am Praxiteles! And I am here to build you a worthy steed. Viscaria requested a commission on your behalf.

Fiona leans over to give him a quick peck on both cheeks in greeting. [color=blue]"I am Fiona Ex Miscellanea Kore tes Kirkes, it is an honour to meet you. I'm sure that Viscaria would not have requested you if you were not the finest craftsman in the Order. Has she told you what we're needing?"

She takes a quick glance at the woman, noting that he has not actually introduced [strike]himself nor[/strike] his companion.

"Fiona, thank you, Viscaria didn't mention your name in the letter. I am Praxiteles, a Hermetic sculptor, mostly in stone. I've come from my covenant in the Rhein with my wife, Alips". He indicates the sark haired woman sitting nearby. She seems to be mentally undressing Fiona, or at least doing an intensive observation.
Viscaria was vague, saying only that you were half giant blooded, but if I may, I'm not sure she adequately described which half.. He says the jest kindly, without any trace of venom or menace "I believe I have two blocks of stone that may be suitable. My preferred medium is a black stone."
Sensing matters will soon devolve into matters of commerce Ailips chimes in, "Such a massive steed, is ordinarily an expensive piece. What are your terms?"

"Loys, get back to the library. I'm sure Alexandria has some lessons for you," Tranquillina interjects suddenly. The fifteen-year-old was hopelessly staring at Alips, to the point where it was making even Tranquillina uncomfortable. (Who knows how much of that had to do with the fact that Loys had fervently propositioned Tranquillina once or twice - she does look fifteen herself after all, at least much of the time.)

Tranquillina resumes her previous attitude of playing the hostess, mainly to stay in the conversation as long as she can while juicy information might be forthcoming.

[color=blue]"It is indeed an honor to meet you. Although, I must admit you look quite younger than I expected," Fiona replies with a smile. She glances at Alips, and does a fair job at not looking embarrassed at how Alips seems to be regarding her ((Com 2 + Guile (hiding true feelings) 3 + die roll of 7 = 12.))

Fiona chuckles at Praxiteles's jest; it's refreshing to hear something like that without any malice behind it.

She turns to Alips. [color=blue]"Did Viscaria go into detail as to just what it is we're requiring with this particular opus?"

"The letter specified a sculpture that could be ridden, and evocative of flight. Praxiteles has artistic considerations that the wingspan be twice the length, so the original block of stone must be large. We have two blocks of suitable size, which Praxiteles has determined to be free of defects within the stone. Do we understand the commission?

[color=blue]"So it would seem," Fiona replies. [color=blue]"The finished sculpture should be, basically, a pegasus that can be enchanted to become a stone animal that can be ridden or flown as a real pegasus would be...into battle, possibly.

"Of course, my Tradition is gifted in the fields of transformation, potion-making, and (to a degree) enchanting, although not to the degree that a Verditius would be. We are also skilled herbalists. Perhaps an exchange of my services in an area of my expertise for yours would be amenable?"

"I am in need of a more robust longevity ritual. Can you facilitate that?"

Fiona raises a brow. [color=blue]"Surely, you're not in need of a longevity ritual for many years yet?"

She thinks for a minute or two. [color=blue]"I'm not myself capable of creating a very powerful longevity ritual, especially for a muggle. I do know a couple of magi, however, who are. I will get in touch with them and do everything in my power to have them make one for you."

((My first thought was Jormungandr, even though his player is long gone. Fiona would try to contact him (I'm hoping he told the council where he was going?) and try to convince him to do it for her. Although she didn't tell Alips so explicitly, Fiona is expecting to front all the costs for the ritual as her part of the bargain for the statue. She suspects that, once she describes Alips, Jormungandr might not need much convincing :wink: . My second thought was Ra'am, who had set up a booth selling longevity rituals at Tribunal. I had also considered Viscaria, but looking at her character sheet, as near as I can tell her lab total for longevity rituals isn't incredibly awesome: I'm getting Int 3 + MT 5 + Philosophae 4 + Cr 7 + Co 5 + Aura 5 = 29.))

"I have been blessed with a relatively easy life, and our covenant has resources devoted to maintaining the health of the magi. Being Praxiteles wife, I share in those advantages. And finally, I am already under the influence of a Longevity Ritual, but I seek a more robust one, as this one could fail at any time." She waves Fiona to lower her ear so she can whisper, when she does, she whispers, "I'm in my 60s, though I look to be in my late 20s."

[color=blue]"You certainly don't look it," Fiona whispers back, her lips almost against Alips's ear. [color=blue]"Your secret is safe with me."

After a moment, Fiona straightens back up again. [color=blue]"The gentleman who invented my longevity ritual was able to invent one that offered about twenty-two or twenty-three magnitudes of protection. I know I've expanded my knowledge of the relevant Arts since then, and I can only assume that he has. The other one I'm thinking of, I don't know for certain how potent his rituals are, but he is a Bonisagus who had set up a stall at the last Tribunal offering his services, so I can only assume that his would offer more protection than what you have now. If what I offer strikes you as being a reasonable trade, I will send out letters immediately."

She laughs, "Not so much of a secret, as a I don't want everyone to know. A lady and her age, you know?" She smiles coyly. Praxiteles seems lost in thought, "Darling. They have agreed to procure a more powerful Longevity Ritual for me, isn't that wonderful?" He nods absently and murmurs, Mmm hmmm. It's difficult to tell if he even heard what it was.
"I need a temporary workshop space. It's a rather large block to start with, so something out in the manor house courtyard should be fine. A place for Alips to be in the shade, too. She is my muse, so she stays close by me at various points of the process. Let's pick out a suitable location, and then I'll transport the block's to that location."