"And why not?", laughs Stultus, stepping forward. "The boar[sup][/sup] has finally arrived -- oh, and the roast pig is here too. Let's get started." He clambers into the chair opposite Augustina, perching on the arm of it so as to be able to see over the table.
"Augustina, would you be kind enough to perform introductions, please? I know Marcus, and a few of the rest by reputation, but that's as far as it goes."
[sup][/sup](( Boar... bore... I don't need to explain that one, do I? ))
"All in good time, Stultus. Let us first enjoy this feast." She snaps her fingers, and the food disappears, not even the scent lingers, and bowls of gruel are before all the guests. Stultus and Augustina have roasted game birds and assorted vegetables on their plates. Goblets of wine have changed to plain wooden cups of water in front of the guests. Stultus and Augustina still have wine. Augustina smiles, "Enjoy."
Marcus chuckles a bit, and then everyone else in the table chuckles. Auguistina ignores the chuckling and tears off a drumstick and digs in.
Folk Ken rolls and Order of Hermes Lore rolls to determine who is who and who is really laughing and who is faking it.
"A very smart man once said that at dinner, one should eat wisely but not too well, and speak well but not too wisely." Stultus grins at Augustina. "Thank you for taking care of the first part, sodalis."
(( Per 1 + Folk Ken 4 + Clear Thinker +3 (keep forgetting that one) + [1d10] = 7 => 15.
Int +3 + OoH Lore 2 + [1d10] = 3 => 8, unless the Politics specialization applies, in which case it's a 9. Meh.))
Marcus appears to be the only one who enjoyed the ruse, all the other magi and magae are nonplussed and then show a bit of annoyance, but it is subtle. Everyone, strangely, begins eating their gruel, though, although Marcus started eating his first.
"This dinner is simply fabulous, Augustina. You've outdone yourself." About half a dozen of the magi and magae murmur their approval, some a bit less convincingly than others.
Herrit is one of the less convincing magi, and also one he recognizes, comes from Tranquillina's former covenant of Nigrasaxa in Stonehenge. The other magus that Stultus recognizes is not actually a member of House Tytalus, and may be a guest or witness similar to Fiona, and that is Rose Tremeris. Enough is know about Rose, that it is reasonable to believe she is faithfully executing the orders of her mater in observing this matter. ((I can't remember if Fiona has met Rose. If she has, then the recognition is automatic.))
A few moments in, Augustina appears embarrassed. "Pardon me, but some of you have the wrong meal. I am so sorry." But that comment is belied by the speed with which several covenfolk come in with prepared plates. They switch the meals around, and Rose, Fiona and another magus have fare equal to Augustina and Stultus. The remaining portion of gruel in the bowls before them is poured into the magi who have gruel before them, giving them roughly equal amounts.
Someone Stultus doesn't recognize thanks Augustina for the larger portion.
Let's say that Stultus's jokes lack that certain something, and it's noticeable. Of course, that's easily explained by who came with them and being absent from the dinner, "What's wrong Stultus. I was told your wit was much sharper than this. Something seems off. And one of the people accompanying you isn't here, is she a mundane who wished to avoid all of us magi? A servant of yours? I was told she didn't carry herself as a servant."
Fiona will check on Alips before she heads down to dinner. She tucks her friend in, and kisses her gently. [color=blue]"Sleep well, and I'll check on you later. Sweet dreams."
((I want to spont an Intellego Herbam on the door, R:Touch +1, D: Sun +2, T: Individual, that will tell her when the door is opened. I'm not sure if the base would be 1, "Gain an intuitive knowledge of a plant (for example, know whether a given action would harm a plant)" or 3, "Learn...a single specific fact about a plant or an item made from plant products". The Sun duration is so that she will know if the door is opened or closed until the next sunrise/sunset. Her target would be either 4 or 10. Her CT would be Sta 3 + In 5 + He 10 + Aura ? + die roll of 6 = 24 + Aura, halved, which should work.
I'm assuming this is after sunset, so Fiona can be her normal size. She grins as she takes in the vista. [color=blue]"Times like this, I'm glad I'm a giant." ((Per 0 + Folk Ken (Magi) 2 + die roll of 4 = 6. Barely.))
"Nonsense," says Stultus haughtily, brandishing his eating knife. "My wit is as sharp as this blade!" The indignant response is undermined somewhat by the fact that he is holding the knife by the blade, with the blunt pommel uppermost.
He waves a hand airily. "The mundane's not a servant as such, but she's rather ... entertaining in certain respects, and her, ehem, skills give her an air of self-confidence far out of keeping with her station." Perfectly true, as far as the statement goes, and if the broad leer on Stultus ' face causes his words to be misinterpreted, all the better. He will talk to Augustina about Allips. LATER.
After everyone finishes eating, Augustina says, "So, it's going to go like this. Each of you, including the invited guests may compete. If you're not a member of House Tytalus, we can resolve that pesky issue later. It's not a huge deal. So, anyway, as I was saying, each of you will be competing in a series of challenges over the next few days. At the end of the the challenge, Stultus and I will give those of you who satisfied the demands of the challenge, in a pleasing manner, a rose. If you have no roses, you're gone. If you receive only one rose, you'll have to certamen each other to remain. Any questions?" She looks at everyone except Stultus, and they all demur and look away, except for Marcus who seems almost giddy. "Very good, Stultus, inform them of the first challenge."
Can do an Intrigue check here, too, if you aren't sure what's going on.
She and Stultus are judges of the competition, as to who the second traitor will be. Stultus will not be the traitor, but Augustina will, she seems to be having a vicarious thrill at setting up a whole bunch of new rivalries between Stultus and those present. She is playing a game that by Tytalus standards she's already lost. Or, it's equally possible that she considers the conflicts within the House to be stale and in need of refreshing. No Tratior in the history of the House, since the advent of this position, has actually taken this step of trying to restart rivalries or create conflicts.
Stultus' reward to Augustina for throwing him under the bus is a wry look. He clambers up onto the table, sitting cross-legged. "We're going to play a fun game called 'qui custodiet ipsos custodes'. All of you will close your eyes, and pretend for a moment you belong to House Guernicus. Pretend also that you know for a fact two of you have been corrupted by, oh, say, the Order of Odin. Augustina, here, will ping the betrayer's Parmae with a Forceless spell to let them know who they are."
"Every round, you can all open your eyes, and decide among you one person to March. Augustina and I may, between rounds, ping another contestant's Parma to let them know they've been corrupted, just to keep the game interesting. The game ends when all the corrupted ones have been Marched, or only corrupted ones remain."
"All right, children. Close your eyes. No peeking, now."
Once everyone present has their eyes closed, he leans over to Augustina, his lips millimeters away from the other woman's ear, and breathes out in a barely-audible whisper "Ping all of them." Then sits back with a broad grin to watch the ensuing chaos.
Fiona looks at Augustina. [color=blue]"If you don't mind, I am actually here to simply watch the competition. From what I've heard of the post, it's not something that I feel capable of performing as well as I feel I should, and I would hate to embarrass myself or my sodales by my competing."
She does not, however, get up to leave, but merely sits there.
Augustina pings each of them and then announces that she is done, and they all open their eyes. They all stare at each other for a bit, and then one of them says, "I'm not going to play this silly game of yours, Augustina.
"Excellent, we have our first concession, you are excused."
"I'm not conceding anything. Any game played with you is already considered to be lost BY YOU."
Augustina smiles, having expected such a ploy, "In that, we are agreed. But who has set forth the rules of this particular game? Certainly not I. No, it is Stultus. It is his game, and if you concede it, you are granting him a victory over you. So, in light of that, do you wish to reconsider your concession to Stultus?"
He nods his head in defeat, indicating he wishes to go on.
"I say we march him." Marcus supplies. Everyone at the table quickly agrees to that, and the vote is unanimous. The unidentified Tytalus is furious, but it's easy to see that he's furious with himself.
"Porphyrion, you are excused from the arena, please return to your designated quarters and await your recall for the rose ceremony. Stultus, let us move away a bit, and discuss the next round. The remaining contestants are invited to stay and partake of more food. There's plenty." Covenfolk come in with a large tray of greens.
Augustin and Stultus leave the room, and go next door, she turns to Stultus, "Now you understand your role here, do you not? It wasn't that I wanted you here, it was that I needed you here. Porphyrion demonstrated exactly why you are here. No Tytalus can so easily walk away from a challenge from within the House. But lo these many years, that's exactly what has happened. There are only three Beloved Rivalries extant in the House, Stultus. Something far worse than the events leading up to the Betrayal is happening to the House; our internal conflicts are dying, and our House mates are seeking conflict from less demanding opponents. And while I've nominally said that a second Traitor is needed, what is really needed is the selection of a single Primus.
Stultus nods. "I understand why I am here, yes. And I agree that a single Primus is needed -- we've let the joke go on too long -- but I disagree that it's going to produce the effect you want. I don't think a single Primus would galvanize the House... unless, of course, the single Primus is neither of the current two contestants. New blood, rather than the final resolution to a decades-old joke." He quirks an eyebrow at Augustina. "If that is your plan, your tenure as Traitor has not dulled your wit. You don't think small."