1228.4 The Mistress Always Spanks Twice

"She is my mater, and we have formally declared rivalry with each other. The situation with Tranquillina is... complex. I'm not at liberty to go into details, but suffice it to say that Cumhachd considers herself Tranquillina's mater, Tranquillina does not consider herself Cumhachd's filia, and both those competing worldviews have some justification behind them."

Stultus is silent for a moment. "Yes, she insulted a brother Flambeau. Yes, she raised the alarm. Yes, she made veiled threats. She will continue to do so, in order to get a rise out of you. She will probably go beyond veiled threats -- there's something truly sneaky and underhanded coming up, I'll eat my hat if there isn't. And yes, there is a danger of collateral damage."

"Here's the thing, Roberto. It IS a Tytalus thing. She is here for one reason and one reason only: to pose a challenge to Tranquillina and myself, and see how we deal with it. If you interfere -- if anyone else interferes -- she will try harder, do more damage in the process, and if she goes away unsatisfied she will return, and she will return soon, with more insults, more threats, and more collateral damage. The more you interfere in this private Tytalus matter, the greater the danger to Mons Electi!"

"I know you will do your utmost to defend the covenant. I honor that. And if this were anything else, there is no man I would rather have at my back than you. But in this one instance, the covenant would be -- in the long run -- best served by you keeping your temper in check, and interfering as little as you can. It's a paradox, but please believe me when I say that it is so." He sounds almost pleading in his attempts to make Roberto understand.

While Roberto and Stultus are chatting, Cumhachd quietly makes her way through the regio entrance. All of the men follow her, except three, that lock arms and stand immediately before the regio entrance, facing it, their back to everyone else, effectively blocking access to the regio from this entrance, without forcibly moving the men. Wizard Leap to the other side of the regio won't work here, unless the user has Second Sight, as that's the only way the other side would be visible.

Chumhachd makes her way to the city, and installs herself in a villa, making herself comfortable and whenver someone appears (probably about 30 minutes, maybe 15) one can see things that weren't left their present in the villa, as if she's transporting things in to make herself comfortable.

((Clearly Cumhachd does not consider this regio part of Mons Electi's private covenant property. I was under the impression that Mons Electi did so consider it, though. Am I the player wrong about that? If not, is Mons Electi actually justified in considering the regio their property to control access to? Petronius certainly asked their permission to access it....))

((Assumes facts not in evidence. Certainly appears that is a reasonable assumption, but Tranquillina was bitten many times by Cumhachd when she presumed some reason behind her then mater's actions, but another reason was in play. Of course, this dovetails nicely with Tranquillina's angst about Cumhachd, and House Tytalus.))

((All right. If Tranquillina were different, she might have made a big deal of getting the Three Linky Dudes out of the entrance right away. But she'll let it go and go to bed as described. In fact it's probably in character for her to wait for something else to happen anyway....))

Roberto looks sternly at Stultus.
And I am supposed to just let that slide? You ask me to compromise my values, and the security of this covenant, so that you can play some little Tytalus game? If it is a private matter, keep it private and keep my covenant out of it. If she so much as damages a hair on a livestock animal, it becomes my problem, and I will deal with it as I see fit.
It's a Flambeau thing. :imp:
I am putting it all on your shoulders, Payaso. She is your guest. I shall afford you the courtesy of allowing you discretion. Let her have her pretense of a bodyguard. But the tribunal villiage and the regio, that is our property. Mons Electi reigns here. If there is an emergency in there, and I need to get in, I will do so by whatever means are needed at the moment. I could paralyze or blind them, but if spead is of the essence, my fastes timing is an old classic which is a bit more painful when applied.
Do not take that as a threat or aggression, my friend. I am just trying to let you know I am quite serious and I am not playing a game. And I am trying to tell you that I am straining myself to the utmost to give you the respect and courtesy that I am. I wash my hands of it and leave it all on you. But if anything happens that requires my involvment, I shall not restrain myself further.
And Roberto departs and leaves well enough alone for now. As he walks away, he turns and does that thing DiNero does in "Meet the Fockers", pointing to his eyes and then back at the Miscreant &/or her entourage, as if to say "I have my eyes on you".

Stultus shrugs after the departing Flambeau. It will do for now. He's just thankful he didn't have to challenge Roberto. He was willing to consider it as a last resort. Certamen? Dimicatio? Cream pies at 20 paces? Whatever works.

A short while later, he shows up at the villa Cumhachd had appropriated, with a brace of wine bottles. Wouldn't do to show up empty-handed. (He HAD tried to go see Tranquillina for a council of war beforehand, but was told that the honored Bonisagus had gone to bed. So... Cumhachd it is.)

Later that afternoon, Fiona visits the site where Sobran had moved some of the vines into the regio (she had broached the subject a couple of weeks after the meeting where it was decided, but it was too late to safely move them that season) to check on their progress. They've only been in the regio a short while, but she can already tell that the vines do appear to be just a wee bit greener.

She makes her way to the regio exit to meet the vintner (she had promised to warm his night, what with the blizzard and all), but comes to a stop as soon as she passes through and almost tramples the three guards. She glowers down at them, tightening her grip on her talisman.

[color=blue]"Who are you lot, then?" she says. They're obviously soldiers of some kind, and they look like they're there for a purpose, and for the first time in possibly years, she's actually afraid for herself.

((If it weren't winter, I'd say Fiona hears crickets. :smiley:))
They don't speak, and the wind just howls around them. Grogs are nearby, as this isn't far from the south gate. They report that they have just stood there, and that they came with a magus named Cumhachd, who knew Tranquillina and Stultus both. They go on to say that she went into the regio entrance and said she was taking up residence in Tribunal city.

((I want to provide some of the history, Stultus and Cumhachd haven't spoken or been involved in any significant interactions for about 12 years. Letters were answered if written, but they always seemed to take far too long to get a response back from her.))
When Stultus arrives, he'll note that she's done quite a bit to make herself at home. In one of the villa rooms, off of the main room, he can see that she's made a temporary ceremonial space for working magic. In fact, judging by the volume of items and their respective sizes it appears that there is more the room that could fit in the packs of the men she was with. As soon as he makes that observation, he realizes he hasn't seen any sign of the men.
"I was wondering if you'd forgotten me, filius carus, she embraces him warmly, and accepts the wine. "Thank you for the wine. I'm sure it's lovely. Shall we?" she says holding the bottle up, but not shaking it.

She takes a step toward them, just to see if they'll let her go through. When they stand fast, she grumbles and goes around them. [color=blue]"Is it safe for them to be blocking the path like that? What did Roberto say about...that," she asks, waving vaguely at Larry, Curly, and Moe over there.

"Forget you? Never." He fetches a couple of goblets, accepting the bottle, and taps the cork with one finger. One non-fatiguing ReHe spont later, the cork pops out of the bottle, and Stultus catches it deftly, offering it to Cumhachd. "Would madam care to smell ze cork?" There's a laugh in his voice -- neither of them is a wine snob, as he knows perfectly well, but it's fun mocking the wine snobs.

He pours the wine (not adding any Iocane powder -- he's fresh out, worse luck), hands Cumhachd a goblet, and clambers into a chair, leaning back comfortably. "What have you been doing with yourself, mater cara? I haven't heard from you in a dog's age."

(( As a side note, if one typoes the word 'cork', replacing the 'r' with a 'c' by accident, it changes the entire meaning of the phrase. Good thing I caught it in time.))

"No, you know my tastes, so I trust your judgment here." Whether the wine matches her preference is is the polar opposite, she doesn't show the slightest hint, and merely says "Delightful." after a sip.
Responding to his question about where she's been, "Preparing for the coming storm. Now that I've done my duty, I've come to see to my children, that they are preparing. Are you ready for it, filius carus?"

Stultus considers. "Which storm? I can see two brewing on the horizon, so if you can elaborate on that, it would be terrific." He takes a very small sip of wine, swirling it in his mouth before swallowing. "In either case, though, I believe myself to be ready. And, now that you're here, I know I can rely on you to point out any shortcomings in my preparation. In your usual ... mmm... gentle and genteel fashion, of course."

"There is only one storm coming. I'm not here to critique you. If you believe yourself ready for the storm, then there is little I can... say that would convince you otherwise. In any event, you are a good deal more prepared than Eskil, and that is the true reason why I'm here. You should make yourself unavailable to her for some time, the rest of the season, and all of next should be sufficient."

Carlos just happens to be hanging out there at that moment. Under orders to keep an eye on these guys.
He put it all on Payaso's shoulders, and stated that if there is an emergency and we need to get in there for any reason, Roberto expects them to move or he will provide motion for them

((The reality is that they have effectively blocked off one of the regio entrances leading to the other side. This is the exact same regio entrance that allowed magi coming to the Tribunal by mundane means were able to enter the Tribunal City. This is outside of the Aegis boundary, and effectively frees any of the grogs assigned to watch to having to worry too much about someone accessing it while the men are in front of it. And Thanks, I missed Fiona's query.))

Stutlus's eyebrows climb up, and he gives Cumhachd a disbelieving look over the rim of his cup. "Why of COURSE, mater cara!" he says in an overly cheerful, scenery-chewing falsetto. "Being as how we're formally declared Rivals, I'd be DELIGHTED to just get out of your way and let your plans proceed!" His voice drops back into its normal register, becoming calm and reasonable. "Come on, Mommy Dearest. I can't do that. You know as well as I do that I can't do that, and you know the reasons why." Besides the rivalry, he's also no longer her apprentice -- she can't reasonably expect him to hop just because she said 'frog'.

"However!" He holds up a finger, trying to forestall an objection from Cumhachd. "Tranquillina does have things to learn. She does have glaring weaknesses she needs to address, and I cannot deny your skill in... helping people prepare for the unexpected. So there is room for negotiation here. I'd like to propose a deal. Are you willing to listen?"

(( As an aside, I'm really, really amused at the realization that "Mater Cara" can be translated as "Mommy Dearest". Adds a certain je ne sais quoi to their interaction. Or, as a friend of mine used to say, "adds a certain Jenny Sasquatch". :laughing: ))

Appearing to change the subject, "Have the magi of this covenant told you about this place? Connections to the magic realm, site of a former Diedne covenant, and especially about the founder?" Cumhachd gets up and walks to the room with the ceremonial space and continues to work in the space while conversing with Stultus.

Stultus quirks his head to one side, curious about where Cumhachd's going with this: he stands and follows the woman, leaning against the door frame (well out of the way) and watching her work. "Well, they haven't told me very much", he says, subtly stressing the word 'told'. "However, I'm tolerably well informed of the history, and the implications." Cumhachd would certainly know about his skill in information gathering. She taught him a great deal of it, after all, although the pupil is well on his way to catching up with the master.