Alexei lays out the response to Isen along with logistical lists from Helmut regarding the difference in time, money and resources.
"As we have an essentially free ride all the way to Val Negra I suggest we take it. We save on time and resources and avoid pitfalls along the way and can bring all of our men and gear. Now then, the passage is likely well known to all who might attend, and since that is the case, trouble might be still set along that route. Once we leave Mons Electi our men at least are stuck travelling overland, while we should be able to use the Arcane Connections we have for being in the Miles to travel there swiftly if we need to. What are your feelings about this Isen?"
Alexei will make the following preparations before travelling:
Meet with the Imperator regarding taking the Grogs to Val Negra for he and Isen as well as informing Fiona of his departure and why.
Arrange the supplies and silver (2 pounds for Isen and 2 for Alexei)
Prep the Grogs and himself with spells: (Scales of the Knight, Hardness of Adamantine, Lightening the Hauberk, Impenetrable silk on the uniforms)
Helmut will carry the papers for Alexei
Brionne will carry the banner of Alexei (the hourglass mounted on a spear)
From there (unless there are further matters) Alexei and party will arrive at Fiona's cottage and Helmut will knock on her door.
((Just Helmut and Alexei, the rest of the men are further back. Depending on how far I get there may be a dog in the mix somewhere, or it might be better to leave him behind for now, in which case Alexei might ask a favor...))
"I'm sorry, Master Alexei," Moire says in the oddlly accented Latin of hers, "but Fiona is on the other side. I think she's with that Parisian professor."
Assuming Alexei and Helmut (et al?) go to where Benner has set up shop, so to speak, they will find Fiona, in her normal attire, sitting in the room with Benner...probably on the floor, tailor style as she normally does, especially where there's not furniture that she would be comfortable in. But even sitting on the floor, she's a hand taller than the professor.
[color=blue]"Ah, Alexei, Helmut. Good to see you," Fiona says as she gets to her feet. [color=blue]"Benner, may I have a moment?"
She greets Alexei with a kiss on each cheek, and Helmut with a brush of the lips. [color=blue]"To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"My dear Fiona, I am off to Val Negra, a matter of duty and honour for the Milites I'm afraid. Isen shall be accompanying me as well." A deep and mournful howl can be heard off in the distance and Alexei looks a bit guilty at the sound. He sighs deeply. "In such a meeting and with the tasks I may have...Donner might be...a bit of a handful. He's very sad but has taken quite a liking to you. Would you...visit him on occasion? I've left plenty of food for him, and some of the clothes he hasn't chewed to shreds yet. I would greatly appreciate it if you could spend just a bit of time with him." Alexei is blushing a bit, but it's also obvious he's a bit sad himself.
((If all goes well I might be able to have Donner come to me if the enchanting goes well, so I might still bring him as an ace in the hole.))
((Okay, just wasn't sure what the timing was on how long Donner has been around. Not often she sees someone or something on her scale, so she probably would have been spending some time there...which gives her an excuse to hang out with Alexei ))
Fiona starts to walk with Alexei toward his cottage, and Donner. [color=blue]"So, what should I know, and what am I supposed to do?" she asks.
Before long, when they're not quite in easy earshot of the others, she lowers her voice. [color=blue]"Is something bothering you, my friend?"
"Then let us keep them with us, we'll be able to prevent the tampering before it starts, and much of my strength in a fight comes from the Grogs. Let us not leave them as bait since it won't cost us any extra to bring them."
"Donner will want some attention, he likes those with the Gift more than those without. Servants will keep him fed and walked. A visit now and then if you please is really what I ask."
At the second question Alexei sighs. "My Pater said that I had a face that could be read from across the field. My illusions are being trampled underfoot. The Miles, what I aspired to join from the moment I heard of it, the ideals that I cleave to, the organization that I believe is the salvation of the Order...is being affected by the politics and strife that I see in everything around us. From the usual Normandy troubles, to the inner politics of our House, to the scheming of Guernicus. I am being asked to try and rally the support, much as I did for Ariel's election and then my own appointment as Chief Hoplite. It's an honour, it truly is. But I wonder...am I worth it? Or am I as much a fool as I believe others see me as? Do the morals and beliefs I cling to...that I have become known for...do they have relevance in the Order? It's times like this that I feel the sin of despair the most, when it seems that all the world is crazed and base...maybe then it means that I am the one who is most out of place." he pauses a moment then and a hardness sets to his jaw, a fire in his eye twinkles.
"But it is at these moments that I get this strong urge to dig my heels in further. If I am wrong then prove me wrong! I shall not be done in by rumour and doubt! Insidious weapons cannot undo me! I was not put on this earth let doubt defeat me." the moment fades and he runs his hand through his hair. "Time will prove me one way or the other I suppose."
[color=blue]"It's a pleasant face to read," Fiona says.
Fiona stops and stares at Alexei. He may not realize that she has lagged behind for a minute as he finishes expressing his doubts, but she trots to catch up as he continues.
She kneels before Alexei to look him in the eye. [color=blue]"Alexei von Kroitsau, listen to me. I've known you a lot of years, and you are one of the few people that I would call 'friend.' You are by no means a fool, and I won't suffer anyone to call you one in my presence. Not even you." Fiona smiles.
[color=blue]"Those morals and beliefs that you cling to, they help make you the man that I've grown fond of. And if the Order doesn't hold to those morals and beliefs, that speaks more of them than it does of you. You've proven to me already that you're more man than most, and I only hope that the Order treasures you even half as much as your friends and sodales do."
Fiona then scoops Alexei into a firm yet gentle hug and holds him close for a long time. She then kisses him on the cheek. [color=blue]"Hurry back, my friend."
(Alexei probably wouldn't notice that the giantess's eyes are glistening.)
Alexei blushes to the roots of his blonde-grey beard when Fiona kneels down to stare at him eye to eye and wrings his hands in embarassment. When he's scooped up "Hey now..!" he mumbles but returns the hug after a moment or two, melting into her arms.
"Thank you, I shall." after a few more seconds he harumphs. "Alright Fiona, this is undignified; the damsel carrying the knight over the threshold."
Once he's put down the red in his cheeks starts to fade. "Thank you my dear, with that encouragement I can't fail." he clicks his heels and makes a bow from the waist. "I'll tell you all about it when I return." Helmut is eyeing Alexei with a sly grin at the display. "What are you just standing there for? On your way! The Milites shan't wait forever!"
Alexei gathers rest of the grogs and the group and heads to the portal of Harco.
Fiona gets to her feet and dusts off her skirt, then watches Alexei and his cohort make for Harco, feeling a sudden chill and a strong sense of foreboding.
[color=blue]"Stay safe, my friend, and come home unharmed," she says softly in Gaelic. [color=blue]"This place won't be the same without you." She then wipes her eyes and makes her way to Alexei's cottage to play with Donner for a few minutes.
Alexei and their retinues travel to Val Negra, the portal from Harco connects to the base of a large mountain, a sign points to a stair case carved into the sign of a mountain and says "Val Negra". All the grogs groan, being fully laden, and encumbered even with the lightened Hauberks, at the prospect of climbing to the top of those steps.
Mufarjj chuckles, being unarmored, "C'mon you layabouts, let's move, up the mountain." and the grogs now consider the wisdom of going without armor...
By the time one gets to the top of the steps, if anyone should happen to count gets to over 1,000.
Alexei is mopping his brow once he reaches the top but tries to keep a positive front and not show his age. "Ah! Brisk!" he exclaims clapping Helmut on the back who seems rather pale from the exercise. "Ah, need to have you polishing armour more often Helmut! That or move heavier books. Alright men, Val Negra the once and current Domus Magna of Flambeau! Look alive and make us proud." Alexei looks around for a guard or host to greet visitors as well as any other arrivals.
As Alexei, Isen and their retinues get to the top about a dozen men come out of the shadows, weapons drawn. "State your business!"
Everyone is at -1 for fatigue due to the climb (at Weary). Characters can make the rolls, if they'd like, to recover a fatigue level. It represents resting somewhere near the top and then continuing the ascent with just a short bit left to go.
((If we took a rest then the recovery is automatic, the Stamina roll is to reduce the time by half, we'll just take the -1 I assume it's a long term anyway))
Brione steps forward bearing the banner for Alexei while Michel steps to Alexei's side. Helmut clears his throat and presents the pattens that Alexei has (for Flambeau, Milites, and Chief Hoplite as well as the invite from Ariel). "May I present the esteemed Alexei von Kroitsau Flambonis, ex Milites, Chief Hoplite of the Normandy Tribunal. Also travelling with him is the mighty Isen Flambonis ex Milites."