1227.3: An Unexpected Vis-i-Tour

Tranquillina blinks silently for a moment. She intended the challenge as a rhetorical device, to regain some pride once the others backed down; she never imagined someone would take her up on it - and for such high stakes...! "Um ... sodalis," she finally responds to Fiona, "I would accept those terms, as preavowed, if you truly wish them. But be cautioned before you decide - I am rather confident of success." If Fiona wants to proceed, Tranquillina will try to make sure they have the same parameters in mind: "When we both signal our readiness to begin the wager, Gerulf here - " she motions to the magus, who looks like he wants nothing to do with this - "will give us the starting signal. From a common starting point, we simultaneously strive to reach the confluence of trails, using any means possible, save interfering with the other. The first one to arrive is the winner. Are we in agreement?" (If Fiona doesn't want to proceed, then Tranquillina lets the matter go.)

((I'll continue with the thread as well - we can deal with a little bit of chronology-bending as both conversations unfold :wink: ))

The narrow trail widens here and is temporarily horizontal, but is certainly not roomy. "Here in this mulberry grove," Tranquillina declaims to her audience, "is the first of Mons Electi's vis sources we will see on this tour." The grove itself is about twenty-five yards long, and a few paces deep at most - the shadow from the overhanging cliff makes it hard to see to the back. "The mulberry leaves nourish a colony of silkworms, who leave behind their cocoons after their metamorphoses in the summer. Those cocoons, once processed and rewoven" (she nods at the giantess, who clearly knows all about the process) "become a beautiful silk with shifting patterns of color and luminence. The final product is a source of Muto vis for us ... perhaps a rook or so every two summers."

Fiona actually picks up on Tranquillina's recalcitrance this time (Per 0 + Folk Ken (Magi) 2 + (die roll of 1, followed by a die roll of 6) 12 = 14). She looks at Tranquillina for a long moment before she breaks out in a broad grin.

[color=blue]"You are too easy to tease, sometimes," she says. [color=blue]"A great honor such as being tutored by a Bonisagus for a season, I would want to try to bargain for earnestly. Besides...it wouldn't be a fair contest. I would cheat."

Fiona nods. [color=blue]"The silk is remarkably easy to work with, and the threads make some of the most beautiful fabric I've ever seen. I've sometimes considered weaving cloth to make clothing out of it, but I'm uncertain as to what would happen as far as the vis is concerned."

Gerulf alights in the grove. He waves his hand over his eyes ((MuCo 12 + Aura 5 + stress die 0 [EEEP!] = Botch: botch die 0 [noooooo!] || +1 Warping ; Blinded)) and cries out, scrambling at his face. After a few seconds of panic, he unceremoniously rips a shred off of his beautiful black robes with a grunt and ties it around his eyes. He then feels with his cane, tapping here and there in the dirt until he finds a rock outcropping to rest upon. He bares his teeth, and rubbing his temples, he says, "I fear... sodales... that I may... have made a miscalculation..."

((Forgoing the addiction roll. This result is decidedly unpleasant enough to quash any desire for another spell.))

((Heh. Well. That was certainly embarrassing. :blush: ))

Some of Tranquillina's prideful defensiveness returns after the comment about teasing. ((Yes, because she's that insecure. I the player think the comment is very sweet. :slight_smile: )) "I am unsure what exactly you mean by that," she harumphs, "but I am now of a mind not to let you off the hook on our wager. And if by 'cheat' you mean using magic to speed your descent, I would expect nothing less. Magic, like your loom or the shepherd's crook, is but a tool we use to achieve our ends - it would be denying our nature to do otherwise. So," she concludes, looking higher up the mountain's face, "once we are beyond the cave of shifting rock, on the windy trail to Viscaria's sanctum, you and I can test our tools against each other." She smiles, but mostly because it seems expected in this situation, not because she is cheerful.

((Nah. If your first spell had been a botch, that's embarrassing. Second spell, that's just, welcome to magushood. :laughing: ))
Tranquillina peers anxiously at Gerulf. "Are you in pain?" she asks him. "Why have you bound your eyes?"

"My spell has gone awry. I had thought to see more deeply into the grove, and now the slightest light is piercing." He grimaces. "I don't feel quite right, either: like the world just bent itself in half and left a crease. Forgive me this foolishness, sodales. This is quite unfortunate." He rubs his eyes.

Gerulf 'looks' up in Tranquillina's general direction and stands, a bit wobbly on his cane, licking his lips once. "Tranquillina, I observed some of the... accoutrements in your lab. I don't suppose you have the expertise necessary to assist me? It's a favor to ask, I know, but I would be grateful to be rid of this humiliation with the greatest alacrity." He tries to make an apologetic nod to Fiona, but he clearly has no idea where she is located, the distribution of her giantess form across eight legs muting her footfalls.

Fiona thinks back to when she tried to spont a spell that should have been ridiculously easy, remembers how embarrassing that was (although for entirely different reasons), and skitters over to where Gerulf thinks she is.

[color=blue]"I can help you, sodalis," she says. [color=blue]"Will you lower your Parma for a moment, please?"

She lowers herself before him, lifts his makeshift blindfold, and leans in to softly kiss each eyelid. Quietly and without gestures casting Eyes of the Cat. Her CT is 35 + Aura 5 + die roll of 6 – No Words 10 = 36, worlds beyond the spell level of 5. ((Normally, there's no roll if your CT is more than the spell level in normal conditions, but if you're doing something fancy like wordless casting there is.))

[color=blue]"Better?" she says with a smile.

Gerulf takes a moment and suppresses the protection.

As she lifts the blindfold, he takes a sharp breath and winces, but he manages to thereupon hold still.

It is subtle at first: a muting of the blinding white light. The lancing pain which arcs across his skull at last dims. Another moment, and he begins to make out shapes in the gray mist of his vision. He takes a shuddering breath, pleased to have made this much progress. "I... thank you, sodalis. You are quite kind." He shifts on his feet as images begin to come into focus. "Erm..." He glances up, locking eyes with the giantess for a moment, but quickly returns his attention to the grove. "Tranquillina, I... apologize for the interruption. Please continue. You mentioned something about the silk. Could you explain the nature and properties of this thread?" he asks, stepping forward to examine a mulberry branch more closely.

Tranquillina peers closely at Gerulf after Fiona "heals" him; she would like to make a quick diagnosis of him to ensure that he is not suffering from any physical damage, but doesn't want to put him further on the spot. Instead, she chatters a bit about what she knows about the properties of the vis-infused silk. "I rarely handle the product myself, directly," she admits, glancing down at the ground, "so perhaps Fiona can be more exact." As she leads the trio further along the ledge (which narrows again into a dangerous trail cutting across the cliff), she wonders whether Fiona has formed an unflattering opinion about the abilities of her House-mate.

The trail ends about fifty yards later, becoming the mouth of a cave which, in this daylight at least, is quite hard to see within. "We will be traversing this cavern for a bit," Tranquillina instructs. She keeps her goats' feet for the moment, knowing that she will need them on the other side of the cavern; but she does give herself Eyes of the Cat as well, and then, after a moment's thought, Eyes of the Eagle as well. ((The first spell is a non-fatiguing spont - level 5 spells go pretty well when your relevant Form is over 25! :smiley: For the second spell, which is a level 25 formulaic spell she knows: Sta -3 + In 6 + Im 10 + aura 5 + Mastery 1 + talisman attunement (eyes) 6 + stress die 4 = 29. If her total had been between 15 and 24, she still would have successfully cast the formulaic spell, but it would have cost her a Fatigue level; as it is, she rocks it.))

Fiona happily takes the opportunity to pontificate on the differences between silk and wool. (Insert technobabble here.) In fact, the dress she wore at the Grand Ball at the end of Tribunal likely had at least some silk trim on it.

Fiona peers into the cavern as well, then concentrates for a second, after which her eyes turn marble white. ((Casting Eyes of the Cat upon herself, wordlessly and without gestures; she has Still Casting as her Mastery, so she doesn't take a penalty for that, but since she's casting it on herself and not on another she loses the bonus for her Minor Magical Focus. CT 28 + Aura 5 + die roll of 9 – No Words 10 = 32, beating the Spell Level of 5 by 27.))

She takes a good look into the cave ((Per 0 + Awareness 3 + die roll of 6 = 9)) before she enters after Tranquillina.

(deleted duplicate post)

((In case you might have missed it, Stultus has taken over this sactium. from an earlier post in this thread, he is in there now.))

(( I don't know that we're talking about the same cave? ))
(( EDIT: Yep, not the same cave. This is the cave with Aquam vis: you go through it and pick up the path on the other side; go through the windy spot which provides Auram vis: and THEN get to Stultus' sanctum.))

Gerulf momentarily laments his marred robe before following closely behind. He finds that his dazed eyes are not yet up to the challenge of the darkness. While he can make out outcroppings of rock and keep his footing, he is likely missing a great deal of the detail Tranquillina and Fiona can see.

Within the cave, Gerulf is surprised at the number of rock formations. Even with his damaged vision, he can see the glitter of calcite, and he can hear the soft 'pat-pat-pat' of water drops all around him. More than that, the place practically hums with power. "You can feel it," he whispers under his breath, careful not to break the solemn silence of the cavern. He keeps his cane aloft and close to his body, careful not to bump against anything. The magi weave back and forth, and Gerulf begins to understand that they are avoiding walking through the small pools of water which are forming on the smooth stone of the floor. "Wondrous."

((Correct about the cave not yet being Stultus's sanctum. Actually there's Vim vis, but no Aquam vis - the Aquam was from a preliminary draft of the covenant build, if I'm not mistaken, but didn't end up making the final cut))

Tranquillina allows each of them a couple of minutes to explore the cave in silence: there is no doubting its majesty, even to those who have been here before. "None of us are really sure," she finally offers in a subdued voice, "why there is such a high concentration of magic here, specifically. Perhaps, as the only passage cutting through the mountain, it gathers energy from both sides of the regio." She takes a couple of steps, identifying new rock formations that were not present mere months ago. "But for whatever reason, those drips of cavewater cause these, these conical structures - Viscaria told me what they are called, once, but ... - in any case, they rapidly grow from the pools on the cave floor, and from points on its ceiling. When one of the latter breaks off and falls to the floor, we must gather it before it dissolves again into sediment; from the fallen rock we can distill Vim vis. We usually get two or three pawns a season this way."

She stands still in a spot not too close to any of the rock columns. Her shoulders are raised slightly, her body's unconscious protective reaction against the barely contained power the cavern channels. "You can feel it," she moans in a tiny, horrified voice. ((Per + Folk Ken against an EF of 9 for Fiona, 12 for the sorta blinded Gerulf, to sense how uneasy Tranquillina is made by the stalactites.))

((Fiona's roll is Per 0 + Folk Ken (Magi) 2 + die roll of 5 = 7.))

Fiona senses that Tranquillina's a bit uneasy, but chalks it up to being in a cavern...much like Fiona, albeit for different reasons.

[color=blue]"I actually haven't made it this way all that often. It's harder for me to avoid the pillars and the puddles than it is for others." She looks around. [color=blue]"Although I agree, it is quite majestic."

She looks at the others. [color=blue]"Shall we move on?"

((Per 2 + Folk Ken 3 + stress die 6 = 11))

Gerulf nods and looks to Tranquillina to lead the way. As they reach the far end of the cavern and enter the passageway, he hesitates for a moment, looking back over his shoulder. Urges roil within him, as though he could simply gather the power to himself and hold it tightly. His eyes gleam as visions of greatness flash through his consciousness, until at last he shakes his head to dislodge them and turns away. 'This place,' he thinks to himself. 'Here, I will forge a new life. Here, I will realize a power to free myself from all of them, even...'. He lets the thought die there, silenced by the memory of that one which has dogged his heels for so long.

"Where does this passage lead?"

((Depending on the order of procession, one of you may notice his reluctance to leave: whomever is in front of Gerulf. Perhaps Per + Awa vs EF 6? Not sure if that is appropriate.))

[color=blue]"I believe this goes through to the other side of the mountain, where a couple more of our vis sources are located further up," Fiona says.

((Fiona's roll is Per 0 + Awareness 3 + die roll of 4 = 7.)) Fiona looks back at Gerulf, standing in the cavern seemingly awestruck. [color=blue]"Ye coming, lad?"

Gerulf shakes his head as if to dislodge a thought. "Of course, of course," he says quickly. "Right behind you." He keeps apace as the group follows the tunnel.

((Side note: we gotta get Gerulf to the Magic Realm - see how much he likes that! :smiley: ))

Tranquillina is out in front of the trio, nimbly leading the way (and also eager to get out of the cave), so doesn't witness the exchange between Gerulf and Fiona. "Last year, this exit was hampered by three tall columns," she reports to the others; she motions to the ground, where a slight rise in the floor is all that can be seen. "By late spring, all three had disappeared. Or moved, or changed shape ... the detailed layout of this cavern changes constantly, over a time scale of months." The tunnel through which they exit the cave seems unpromising at first, narrowing and becoming lower (uncomfortably low for Fiona); but after a twist or two a faint breeze can be felt from ahead, and another turn sees faint light filtering onto the tunnel's walls.

Tranquillina nods. "That's right - one more vis source, I suppose, and also Viscaria's - I mean, well, Stultus's sanctum." She leads them out of the mouth of the tunnel and steps aside to the left. With the mansion hidden by the mountain behind them, the view is a wonderful mountainscape unmarred by any sign of human presence. The peaks seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, looking almost as if they were arranged like a cultivated orchard, so that their tips, extremely similar in shape to one another, form tantalizing diagonal lines towards the horizon. The strong, chilly wind tempers the heat of the late afternoon sun. Glancing over her shoulder at the path's continuation up this side of the steep mountain, Tranquillina is glad she still has her goat's feet.

"Although the terrain appears to be boundless," Tranquillina mentions as she catches her breath, "we have sent exploration teams out inside the regio. The land somehow bends travelers back upon themselves, so that one can never be more than a day's journey from this peak, even if one spends a week covering as much distance as possible." She frowns as a feather sails by their heads. "We do not really understand by what trick the regio resembles a vast area, given the apparent impossibility of reaching what we can see."

Fiona stoops over for a few paces, and is almost on the verge of giving up and crawling on her hands and knees, before she feels the zephyr from ahead and breathes an audible sigh of relief.

Fiona steps to the right of the cave mouth to allow Gerulf an exit, and stands there staring out at the magnificent vista laid out before her. She often forgets how breathtaking the view is on this side of the mountain. Not that her side is drab by any means, it just isn't quite as awe-inspiring as this side is.