On the second day of Grand Tribunal, in the evening, Gerulf receives a request to come for dinner the next night from Ra'am Bonisagi.
((Alright. Back in the saddle. Thanks for the patience, everyone.))
((As a reputation'd Bonisagus, I'm rolling an OoH Lore to see if Gerulf knows Ra'am. I'm basing the EF on the information I found here, but that could be dated. I'm not sure. Of course, feel free to correct my EF assumption. Int 3 + OoH Lore 3 + stress die 9 = 15 vs EF 9 = Success.))
Gerulf sits in a simple chair on the fields near the orchard. He leans back and watches the sun settling over the trees, casting an orange glow across the grass. A part of him had missed his homeland, he admitted to himself. However, another part of him now longs for the comfort of his well-ordered lab. Though his knowledge of the Tribunal and its players is not entirely a charade, he still feels ill at ease in Durenmar. It is a sort of guilt which has settled in the pit of his stomach and whispers that he should be working rather than socializing. Nevertheless, a deal is a deal. He involuntarily grunts into his cup just before taking a sip of wine.
"Something wrong?" The boy's voice is just behind him. Gerulf is inwardly startled by the sudden intrusion and might appear so if not for the years of emotional suppression which led to his current reputation of dour-ness: one which he embraces for many reasons.
"Not yet. Know you something I do not?" he responds. He momentarily reflects on the adroitness of his verbal riposte. The boy, however, is utterly unfazed.
"Only that Ra'am ex Bonisagus has requested your presence at dinner on the morrow," he states. Gerulf sets his cup aside on a small table. He has heard of Ra'am before, of course. Good teachers are much revered in House Bonisagus. But, Gerulf does wonder at the reason behind the invitation.
"How many more stops have you to make for these invitations?" he asks the boy, looking over his shoulder.
((That's Ra'am about 15 years ago, but yeah. Ra'am is somewhat famous because he had two Gifted children, one of whom is now apprenticed to Korvin. So, knowing who he is, is dead easy.))
"I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I only have this one invitation for you." He seems a bit confused.
Gerulf's brow creases. "The only one?" His eyes flick to the invitation. "Very well, then," he says accepting the invitation. "I will be honored to attend, of course."
He watches the boy's departure, anxiety creeping into his chest like an errant root. If it were a social dinner with many attendees, Gerulf might understand the grace and cordiality of his invitation. But, why would one of Ra'am's esteem choose to dine alone with him? It was as though the missive had dropped from the sky for no reason other than that the sky deigned to do so at that particular moment and really had no further interest in the matter.
Too many questions. Gerulf decides, of course, to read the invitation. But, he also fortifies his position by vowing not to let his mind become tangled in the intrigue. The reason would reveal itself in short order, no doubt.
Upon returning after sunset, he conveys to Fiona that he will be unavailable tomorrow evening. He then makes plans to arrive slightly early in order to observe any formalities for the venue.
Before the boy darts off, he says, dinner is after sundown, which is rather late this time of year. And then reminds him that his host is from the Tribunal Hispania, and it is custom for the people from that region to have very late evening meals.
A young woman, about Gerulf's age, greets him at the door to Ra'am's quarters, which aren't any different than Fiona's on the outside. Geruf quickly realizes this must be his daughter/apprentice, Elizabeth. On the inside, it is quite different, and well appointed with creature comforts. A luxurious rug sits underneath a low table, with cushions all around. It's laden with fruits, cheeses, nuts and wine. The evening outside was quite warm, but a cool breeze seems to blow through the quarters. "Father, it's Gerulf." the young woman says, as she invites Gerulf inside. Once inside, sitting in a comfortable chair is the middle aged (looking for normal people, he looks to be about 45) man, and another young man, which Gerulf can identify as Ulrich, sitting in another comfortable chair. There are a few servants putting last minute touches on the food at the table.
"Gerulf, welcome! Would you like some wine? It's from Phoenix." He says, as if Gerulf would know about Phoenix wines. Ra'am studies Gerulf closely, which reminds the way Ingrid would sometimes study him as an apprentice.
Gerulf is dressed in a collared black robe: something he reserves for special occasions. It flows in the pleasant breeze. His attention drawn to the table, he half-smiles at the varieties of food before him.
Gerulf bows his head in acknowledgment, his eyes lingering on Elizabeth momentarily, more out of curiosity than anything lascivious.
Gerulf's eyebrow arches as he smiles. "Of course, Ra'am. I have to say," he replies, motioning to the table, "you seem to know a great deal about my tastes. I have a significant appreciation for your table this evening." He spreads his robes as he settles upon a cushion, straightening his back and creating something of a portrait image. "I'm honored that you invited me this evening. I fear I was a bit pointed with your messenger. Please convey my apologies, should that prove convenient. I was under the impression that such a dinner would be arranged for multiple participants. I may have confused the boy." He gratefully accepts the cup of wine, and he takes a sip, practically breathing a sigh. "You mentioned this wine is Phoenixian. I must compliment you on the vintage. The vines have quite a reputation."
He takes a deep breath a sets the glass aside. "So, how are your studies? I understand that you've been teaching a great deal. It must leave little time for your own laboratory work."
"Truthfully, there are only a few I would interact with here at this Grand Tribunal. I was maneuvered here by some political brinkmanship in Iberia. I am ill-suited to politics, and it is well known. What they didn't count on, or perhaps they did, was that I have an amica who is most skilled politically. As to my studies, they proceed, at a reasonable pace. Tell me, Gerulf, are you interested in politics? Or are you more interested in research?"
Gerulf nods as he listens. "I am honored to be one of the few, then. And, how fortunate to have someone politically savvy in your court. Though I pride myself on my social graces, I am not political. I prefer to comfort of my laboratory: the wine," he says, lifting the cup appreciatively, "the crackling fire, and my writing. Political movements and establishments come and go," he says, waving a hand dismissively. "Our research is the one thing which has the slightest chance of outliving us by any decent measure. It is only logical to pursue with fervor the one enduring contribution one might make to this world."
"But it is the peace of the Order, maintained through politics, that gives us the ability to conduct our research. I think too many in our House, and I count myself part of the group I describe, are too quick to distance themselves from politics in favor of the lab. A few seasons of sacrifice, learning and working the politics could reap dozens of seasons of study and research down the road. Take, for instance, my own situation with two apprentices, it impacts my study time, and I am not as prepared as I would like to be, to have two, but I have two because I must, and because the Order needs new blood. How long do you think it will be before you take an apprentice?"
"Point taken, though my internal reticence will not be so easily swayed. Not liking something is sometimes enough to keep one apart from it."
"Forging such a... personal bond is not one of my strengths. I had not yet considered the matter, though my mater likely has. I'm aware of my duty to the Order and my House, but I worry that sorting out an apprentice might distract too much from my work." He takes a small bite of cheese and follows it with a sip of the wine. "Or, do you believe taking an apprentice, like politics, to be an investment in future research?"
"The bond forms over a period of time. I would suggest not being in a rush, though. I wish I had more experience under my belt before having taken one apprentice, and let alone two. But perhaps you're guessing where this conversation is heading?"
Gerulf narrows his eyes and sets his cup on the table. "Indeed." He daubs his lips with a napkin before folding his hands in his lap. "I suppose the invitation alone should have aroused my suspicion, but I suppose it's to be expected. I mean no disrespect, and I am interested in listening to your proposal. It's just…" He shakes his head. "Politics," he says with a sigh.
"So, what can I do for you, Ra'am?"
Internally, Gerulf braces himself. Once believing himself blessedly free of the social graces of the Order with the departure of his mater, he now feels the familiar dread of favors exchanged and overtures rather than his comforting realm of facts and experiments.