Alexei looks like he's getting comfortable in his chair, perhaps for some rest now that he's had some exercise. "Feel free to speak with Brionne and I don't think he has anything planned except more drilling. But what was the question?"
[color=blue]"You don't have to answer if you don't want to. But why have you never married?"
Alexei is obviously caught off guard by the question, judging by the embarassed smile and the flush that comes to his cheeks. He harumphs a few times before finally shrugging.
"After my apprenticeship I was often busy, too busy it seems to court anyone seriously. Then by the time I had taken my longevity potion...marriage seemed...superfluous. I had my duty, I could no longer have children. The kind of life my wife would have would be difficult. I decided to spare whomever that might be such a marriage." He still has a smile, but now it seems more wistful, perhaps dwelling on what might have been. He sighs and reaches for a cup and the wine and pours a small glass for himself. "I haven't really thought of this in a long time now...I never really dwelled on it."
[color=blue]"Pity," Fiona says with a smile. [color=blue]"I think you'd be quite the husband for the right woman. Be she mortal or maga."
She leans over to give him a peck on the cheek. [color=blue]"I'd best be back to my apprentice before she gets into trouble. Would you send Brionne my way when he's done for the day, please?"
Alexei smiles and settles into the chair with his cup, pressing a hand to his cheek as he stares off in thought.
Later near twilight comes a knock to Fiona's door. The ugly hunchbacked Brionne stands there, holding his hat in his hand. As the door opens it seems he was sniffing the air around the door and he stops abruptly.
"Maga Fiona, you called for me?" he asks with his slight lisp.
"It seems nobody is objecting to keeping the Hermes Portal open, at least for the time being," Tranquillina summarizes. "We should contact Petronius to see if he is willing to assist us, perhaps at friendly fees. I suppose it falls to Fiona, as Interpres, to investigate that possibility - although I have initiated a correspondence with Petronius and would be happy to assist. And the actual renewal of the Portal would be tasked to Gerulf, as Aedilis."
((Note: people seemed fine with the officer assignments, so shall we say we voted on them earlier in this Winter 1227 meeting, and implemented them starting in Spring 1228?))
"Which of us would be best suited to that?" Tranquillina poses. "Viscaria was our Terram expert, but she has returned home. As for Creo - would that be ... Korvin?"
Alexei raises his hand. "Glad to hear we're keeping the portal. Now then, before we start creating silver...should we not make sure there is even a need? Other Tribunals have rulings on magical silver, I don't believe Normandy does yet, but it seems like it might be a waste of vis if our coffers are doing well. Can we have an accounting of our treasury first?"
Korvin turns to Tranquillina. Diocetes, please give us a run down on our current financial state.
Tranquillina nods at the Princeps and stands up; the thought of changing her appearance to her grizzled accountant's countenance flashes through her mind, but she dismisses it with some inner exasperation. "At the moment, our mundane finances are stressed but not to the breaking point. The one-time costs associated with the Tribunal, together with the marginal expenses necessitated by the arrival of our sodales Roberto and the new members of the turb, exhausted what small reserves we had managed to accumulate. Our factors and teamsters are telling me that we are starting to delay the odd payment here and there: not uniformly, by any means, but at any given time we seem to have one merchant who allows us an extra two weeks, another specialist who accepts a bit of food this month to tide him over until a payment next month, that sort of thing."
She looks around the table, choosing her words carefully to avoid sending signals of blame. ((Com 3 + Etiquette (addressing magi) 3 + stress die 4 = 10.)) "However, we have just augmented our council by three magi, and that laudable addition will start to impact our silver accounting. Our covenfolk have been hard at work helping them stock their laboratories with necessary equipment, but that has put us slightly behind in other areas of physical maintenance, for example; we have also needed to hire a few new servants to bolster the mansion's staff, to maintain the level of continual mundane support that we deserve. With the annual lull in income during the early spring, we will soon find ourselves needing extensions to more payments, and those for a season rather than a couple of weeks. This is all if our wool harvest is steady, of course; one inconvenient epidemic in the herds ..." she unconsciously glances at Stultus when she says this, since he was the one who put the idea in her head, "and we will be in much direr straits than that." She wonders idly, in the event of a plague among the sheep, whether blame for the event would actually be placed at the Tytalus's feet.
Korvin nods, Tranquillina and I discussed the finances before we brought in the new Magi. Stultus gave the Covenant a magical item to help with preparing the wool for sale. I'm not sure that has been figured into our upcoming budget. I tasked her and her deputy to try to expand our income so if we make silver, we only do it for emergence.
Stultus shrugs as his name is mentioned. "It's just a helper object, Korvin, not a panacea. Sure, it might save us five-six pounds, but that's a drop in the bucket. I'll see if I can come up with something else in the spring -- the Rego aura might be a great help in that regard."
"I've, uh, also been working on another idea that might alleviate our silver troubles in the long run. Problem is, it will require a substantial outlay of cash up front, which the Diocetes tells me we just don't have right now. So it's on the back burner. I'll bring it up before the council when and if our current cash situation eases up."
Every little bit helps. Korvin acknowledges Stultus But the short term cash flow can be solved by a simple spell. I'm worried about the long term cash flow.
Alexei is frowning as the topic of magically created silver is being more seriously considered.
"I have to voice an objection my sodales. It is obvious I didn't realize the state of our coffers and looking back I can't help but think of expenses I have likely accrued that now seem excessive, even frivilous. But I for one feel that the problem of silver should not be solved by magically creating it. I have no objection with magic aiding in silver production, or even being a product of it; much as a Verditius might employ. I do have a problem with simply conjuring it by ritual. It seems...wasteful and too easy. Plus it sidesteps our obvious problems without engaging the real solutions we might employ. Should we so quickly turn to this solution, or can we not employ our means and solve it another way? Plus I can't help but think that there might be unconsidered consequnces in conjured silver."
Stultus nods at the Flambeau. "True enough. Please add my half a vote to Alexei's, here -- half a vote for half a man, seems apropos. Creating silver out of thin air is likely to bring the Quaesitors down on our heads -- just because there's no rule against it in Normandy doesn't mean they can't use that rule from other tribunals as a pretext. It's flimsy but it's all they would need. It should be an option we consider... but should also be the option of absolute last resort."
Alexei nods and thumps his staff twice in the floor in approval of Stultus's proposition. "Wise council. I hadn't considerd the Quaesitor's using it as any flimsy excuse to strike at us. Havaing said that, I also agree we should have it as an option, but make it an option of last resort. Weigh its use against the drawbacks. I can accept if I am outvoted in this, but I wish to make sure opposition is voiced."
All right. Korvin turns to Tranquillina again. Diocetes. Please draw up the plan of which servants we need to let go and when to keep ourselves within budget. These should be Household servants first.
The dwarf winces in sympathy. "Or perhaps, as an alternative, see if they would accept reduced or deferred wages for a Season or two. Quite aside from the fact that we're talking about turning people out in the first place... people turned out with no options become disgruntled. We don't need that on top of everything else we've got to deal with."
He shrugs. "I'll even be willing to act as go-between, if Tranquillina or her deputy are too busy. Gentle Gift and all."
[color=blue]"Ah, yes, Brione, come in. Would you care for some wine?" She leads Brione into the dining room, sending Moire to bring them both wine if he wants, and then dismissing her for the evening.
[color=blue]"Please, have a seat. I'm hoping you can fill in some blanks about Alexei...nothing damaging, I assure you. In exchange, I'm willing to...give you what your crave, in one of two flavors."
But that only delays the problem and the money is still due. Tranquillina and I talked about this earlier this year. My plan was to make some silver for a year so we could make adjustments. Find or increase our incoming revenue. We know that our income from sheep is about maximized. We must look else where. If the council feels that it is too risky to create silver magically, then we need to think of other plans. In the mean time we need to cut our costs so we can support 4 new magi living here.
Fiona says nothing while the discussion is going on, merely pursing her lips thoughtfully as she stares off into the distance. She has literally known Moire for all her maidservant's life, and she does not relish the thought of having to tell her that she needs to leave.
[color=blue]"Have we considered transplanting part of our vineyard into the regio?"