1229.etc: After the Fire

(Summer 1229)

The evening after Korvin, Alexei, and the new rabbi drive off the demon, Fiona stands in her lab, looking at her suit of chain mail hanging on a dress form for several minutes. She fingers the links thoughtfully before she changes into her normal blouse and skirt. She concentrates for a few moments, and the blouse turns snow white, followed by the skirt. She then exits the south door and heads to Alexei's cottage, where she knocks almost tentatively.

[color=blue]"Is Alexei free?" she asks whoever answers the door.

A loud barking preceeds an alarming thump on the door followed by scratching on it from the other side. A mix of growls and barks follows, sounding like they came from two different sources before the door opens and a disheveled Alexei opens the door. The cottage is a mess on the inside, usually well maintained and displaying trophies. A tornado seems to have flown through, but a trunk is also being packed and Alexei has ink on his fingers and many discarded sheets of vellum. He looks at Fiona and manages a small smile.

"Ah Fiona...good evening." Donner pushes the door open so he can lean his face into Fiona's hip and get his head scratched. Donner is the size of a large dog, not a giant one this time, but judging by the debris in his fur it seems obvious who did most of the redecorating in Alexei's home. Donner's face matches Alexei's in expression; sad and angry at the same time. "I'm sorry my home is so...I believe Donner picked up my mood and...well he is still a puppy. Please come in, I think there is still some furniture that hasn't been destroyed."

[color=blue]"Thank you, Alexei," Fiona says as she bends over to give Donner a big hug and scratch between his ears. She enters, takes a quick look around, and immediately starts to make herself useful by helping to pick things up and put them back where it looks like it belongs.

[color=blue]"I hope this isn't a bad time. It looks like you're leaving, and...have written a lot of letters? Do you have a few minutes to spare? I would like your advice about what happened this afternoon."

"Attempting to write letters." Alexei says as he moves things around as well to provide space to sit down. "I need to send a letter to my Pater, my Prima and the Praeco. This encounter with the demon..." Donner growls and flicks his tail towards Alexei. "He is angry with me for not taking him with me. I have met the Enemy...and fell short. And of course, exposed myself, however briefly. So, I shall inform those that I feel have authority over me within the Order." he points to the trunk. "And for that, I'll be heading to see the Bishop. I was supposed to see him about reducing the payment, this tithe is too high. But I also wish to see him and clear my conscience." he sits down after enough fidgeting.

"But enough of me, what can I do for you? What advice can I offer."

[color=blue]"Alexei," Fiona says with a look of mock severity, [color=blue]"you did better than anyone else could have, and you know better than to sell yourself short around me. Who else would have had the b...the courage to try to wrest their talisman from a demon's grasp, let alone the ability to succeed? And it seems to me like they had planned this little deception for some time, and you thwarted them. They can't possibly fault you for what happened. And...don't you know Leap of the Homecoming? You shouldn't need to pack for a long trip to go to Dijon, unless...?" She looks at him thoughtfully.

Fiona takes a deep breath. [color=blue]"What could...what should have I done differently this afternoon so that I would have been more effective in the battle? I know what you said afterward, but I still feel like...like my presence made no difference in the outcome."

Alexei shrugs regarding his travel arrangements. "I don't feel it is proper to go to the Bishop as a magus might. Humility...it's something I need to remember...and I was definitely reminded of it today."

He sighs and looks at one of the pieces of vellum that have some scribbled words. "As for what could have been done." he thinks a moment or two. "Well, the creature had too much resistance. I know a version of the Demon's Eternal Oblivion, it's rather low magnitude, to make it easier to penetrate...but in my haste I miscast it completely. But either way, in a situation like this, when directly targeting isn't much of an option, you need to target the environment. Creating a hole under its feet could slow it down, as could creating a wall in front of it. I know animals are your purview...an enchanted animal, even if it can't touch it, would block its path. Everything was so fast...you might have been able to...change its clothes to impede it perhaps? Getting an arcane connection would have helped get through its resistance, but it was powerful. In the end slowing it down was perhaps all that could be accomplished. Our strengths as Magi truly comes from preparation, in the heat of the moment we are not as effective. So, now that you have met the enemy and seen its strengths, turn to your own. Create your own version of the Demon's Eternal Oblivion, or perhaps even better would be to create an item. An item wouldn't have failed as my spell did, plus you can enchant extra power into it to help penetrate. If my initial spell hadn't been such a disaster but merely failed to penetrate, I would have stabbed it and used the blood it shed to enhance the next spell and hopefully get through. When it wrenched my staff free though..." he grimaces at the memory and a grinding can be heard coming from his mouth as he gnashes his teeth in anger.

[color=blue]"I thought about using Charge of the Angry Winds," Fiona says, [color=blue]"but too many of our men were too close to the edge of the cliff or on the bridge, and I didn't want to risk their lives. I tried Curse of Circe but couldn't get past her magical resistance, either. As far as transforming her clothes..."

Fiona looks at Alexei with a playful twinkle in her eye. [color=blue]"Don't tell me you didn't notice she wasn't wearing any."

Her face turns somber again as she looks downward. [color=blue]"As far as creating a hole in the ground, or inventing a Demon's Eternal Oblivion, or even enchanting it into an item... She swallows. [color=blue]"I'm not very good with Perdo," she says softly. [color=blue]"Or Creo. I'm much better at Muto, or Rego. And Vim has never really been a focus of mine. I just know enough to safely open an apprentice's arts." The tone of her voice almost makes it sound more like a confession than a statement of fact.

[color=blue]"I've never faced a demon before. Never even seen one before. What do I...what do we do next time, when they send one even more powerful after us?"

Alexei smiles and gestures towards the sanctum marker.

"That's what the lab is for. Once I've taken some steps I'll be re-dedicating both my studies plus making a weapon or two. I'm thinking of making them charged for economy. Even if your Arts aren't as great as you'd like, the lab will provide greater benefits. I would have kept what...connection to that demon that I might have had, were I not concerned about my soul and the legality of it." he points to his staff, one end is scorched from repeated temperings in a fire.

"But as to what we do the next time. My hope as a Covenant is we'll have the tools; the enemy's greatest mistake was to strike a blow that did not kill us. We must make use of that mistake and make them pay dearly for it. But my personal belief is not that I'll have the power or skill." he holds his hand to his chest. "But that I'll have the faith. Our great power often makes us far weaker where a man is judged most harshly. This attack might in the end provide the strength and impetus we need." Donner sits up and places a paw (as best he can) across his own chest. Alexei laughs and reaches down to pet his head. "And I'll have more faith in you Donner."

Fiona looks sadly thoughtful. [color=blue]"So, nothing you can think of that I could, or should, have done differently against Jardis, or Jareth. Just be better prepared in the future."

Fiona stands silently for a couple of minutes, reaching down to scratch Donner's head. [color=blue]"Demon's Eternal Oblivion would be a handy effect to enchant into my Talisman. I think I can enchant a weak one in one season. And by 'weak' I mean 1 magnitude of effect with two magnitudes of getting past her Magic Resistance, usable a dozen times a day." Judging by the tone of her voice, it sounds like Fiona doesn't think that's very good.

"We need some copies of the spell, just knowing it will allow more powerful castings of it. Casting it at touch range as mine does, adds some risk but also adds power. But, yes preparation is ultimately the best tool for a Magus. For anyone though, there is a stronger tool, it can be hard to come by for some and easy for others..."

((As straightforward as Alexei usually is, he's hinting at something here, maybe Fiona can make a Folk Ken roll?))

((I never thought I'd see the day when Alexei was too subtle for me to catch on to. :laughing:

Per 0 + Folk Ken (Magi) 2 + die roll of 2 = 4. Looks like Fiona's too busy kicking herself to get it. :frowning: ))

((And, of course, as soon as I hit "submit", I realize that we probably have copies in the library that Fiona could probably learn, too. She won't be able to cast it very effectively, but she can learn it.))

Alexei pauses, rather uncomfortably for a few moments, seeing if Fiona understands what he's driving at. When it seems she doesn't he smiles awkwardly and reaches for a book on his library and hands it Fiona. It is of course the Bible. It's a well used and book marked bible in Latin. It looks like it's seen many years and much travel, judging by the water stains on it.

"My Pater gave this to me once I learned my letters. He doesn't speak much about his time in the Tremere or why he left, but one of the reasons was that he had a transformation of faith during his travels, and his House was only confused by it. So he left to join the Flambeau...among other reasons. I turned to magic first against the demon Fiona...I should have turned to faith first. The smallest portion of faith is more than equal to whatever illusionary strengths that a demon might have. I see that fight as a test...one that I failed. So I will journey to the Bishop and see what I might do to be ready the next time." he hands the book to Fiona. "I'm not an evangelist Fiona, I have not the words nor the courage and conviction to try and show the Light of God to our Sodales. But if you ask me what we can do to be better prepared, I have given you the ideas of what magi can do. Here...here is what we weak and frail people can do."

Fiona takes the obviously well-used Bible and looks at it with a stunned look on her face, and starts to idly flip through it as Alexei speaks, looking like she's trying not to tear up.

After a couple of minutes, she closes it and hands it back to Alexei. [color=blue]"I'm sorry, my friend," she says as she shakes her head, [color=blue]"I can't accept this. It means too much to you, and it wouldn't do me as much good as it does you." For a second, it looks like she's about to say more, but she merely wipes her eyes.

[color=blue]"I truly appreciate the gesture, though."

Alexei doesn't take the book yet. "It's true, the book means very much to me. But if it were to help another...it would mean far more. However, I won't force it upon you or make you feel troubled and feel you have to take it or offend me. But it might offer you more than my poor words ever could."

Fiona continues to hold the bible, looking at it. [color=blue]"I've never been a Godly woman, amicus," she says softly. [color=blue]"We only went to church when we had to, and Màthair never went at all...it wasn't for her."

Her eyes glisten as she finally hands the book back to Alexei. [color=blue]"Thank you, but...I can't. It would do you more good than it would me."

She smiles wanly. [color=blue]"And your 'poor' words, your friendship...you mean more to me than you know." She leans over to kiss him gently on the cheek before she takes her leave.