It's late afternoon in early December. The sky is grey, with the biting promise of snow in the near future. A light fog obscures the surface of the lake, and reaches questing tendrils across the ground.
Two wagons, each drawn by a single horse approach the manor house. In the lead is a covered wagon, while the other looks to carry luggage, covered by a canvas secured to the sides. The wagons draw to a halt.
"Ξένια, πιστεύω ότι έχουμε έφτασε," the lead driver says over his shoulder. A dark-haired woman with an olive complexion pokes her head out of the wagon and looks at the manor house.
"Θα μπορούσε να είναι. Αυτό δεν την εμφάνιση που Σκέφτηκα πως θα ήταν," she replies*. "Σοφία, ξύπνα τον πατέρα σου."
A moment later, a remarkably large man with wavy brown hair and a broad grin beaming through a bushy beard, wearing a long tunic and leather boots steps out of the rear of the wagon and approaches the manor house.
[color=blue]"Hello!" he calls out in Latin, with a thick Greek accent. [color=blue]"I am Ankoydes the Bjornaer, I am to be joining your...oppidum." He seems to trip over the last word, as though it were still unfamiliar to him.
*The Greek conversation is simply run through Google Translate. I've checked, and it pretty much doubles back the way it's supposed to, for the most part, if anyone's curious.
((Jumping the gun a bit The Oppidum is located just outside a fishing village on the southern end of Lake Balaton. It is a small compound ( a former Roman fort) with a low wall. Inside, the main building for most is an Inn which is also a brewery. Behind it are other buildings including a tower. The famous hot spring is further in. Unlike all other hot springs that Ankoydes knows about, this one does not smell like sulfur and is aligned with magic and not infernal. The local language is Slavic. ))
((So, not approaching the manor house, then. Approaching the inn? The tendrils of fog still good? Even if it's not a hot spring, a moderately warm lake would have fog on it when it's cold. Hmm...quick Googling seems to indicate that it's not necessarily a warm-water lake. Hot in the summer, cold in the winters (today, January 11th, for example, it's 1° C., or 34° F.) So...maybe not fog. Darn. Loved the visual.
Everything else okay, though?
And do we have any kind of map of the covenant/oppidum area? Even a half-assed back-of-the-envelope sketch?))
If you call 24°C (water temp) cold for the winter. It is a thermal spring. This place is fairly mild in the winters. Unfortunately, I do not have a map yet. Working on it.
Several young men come out of the stables to help with the wagon. They are speaking Slavic and do not know any Latin. They will gesture you to enter the Inn as they begin to take care of the horse. They indicate a place in the yard where the wagon will be moved to.
When he realizes that no one speaks either Greek or Latin, Ankoydes sighs and tries to bargain as best he can using gestures, pointing, et cetera, to get a room for him and his family and a place for the driver/porter.
As he does, he will look around the room, basically seeing who's potentially dangerous and who's not, who's weak and who's strong, and who might need protection.
After listening to Ankoydes for a short while one of the boys seems to light up and says γεια σας! Then he turns to another boy and says something. The other boy nods and runs into the Inn and the first turns grinning and says γεια σας ( which seems to be all he can say in Greek).
After a short while an older man comes out and Ankoydes can tell right away he is a warrior by his bearing. He carries a well worn sword but no armor. He looks Ankoydes up and down and glances over at his family.
My, but you are a big one. You must be one of the Greek bears that Laterala said was coming. Come in and get warm. My name is Onassis.
As Arkoydes crosses into the Inn he feels the tingle of passing through an Aegis.
*JL can handle Onassis if he wants to as it is one of his grogs
The door enters to a large open room with many long rectangular tables and benches. Some smaller tables are along the wall. Serving girls/women are busily moving about carrying tall pitchers and sometimes food. A stair goes up a nearby wall to a 2nd floor balcony made of wood. Ankoydes would assume that any rooms are up there.
As he comes inside, the room falls into a quite and he unfolds to his full height after stepping through the door. Farmers, tradesmen and fishermen are the majority of the client but Ankoydes spots a group of fighting men in a back wall table. The buzz of conversation picks up slowly after Onassis pats him on the and gestures to the far wall where the fighting men sit.
A balding man with a slight pot belly comes out and says something to Onassis while glancing up at Ankoydes. Onassis responds and gestures to Xenia, and Sophia. The man nods and moves back to the kitchen and calls inside the door.
That is Pavel. He is the Innkeeper. Mostly he manages the day to day affairs of the Inn. Speaks some Latin but not much. He will have someone get rooms ready for you wife and daughter and get them some food.
Ankoydes nods politely at the men-at-arms in the back (as much to let them know that he's aware of them as anything else), then turns back to Onassis. [color=blue]"Thank you."*
He leans down and gives his wife a quick kiss and his daughter a hug. [color=blue]"Pavel, there, will take care of you," he tells them in Greek. [color=blue]"Enjoy your dinner. And save some for me, please. I'll be back soon."
[color=blue]"And where are we off to, my friend?" he asks Onassis.
*I changed Ankoydes's speech text to blue. Brown had, like, no contrast.
Onassis waits patently while Xenia, and Sophia are sat in a table nearer the fighting men and some bread and beer are brought. He then nods and moves to a large strong looking door by the men. Several of them nod to Onassis as the pair approach.
You will have to ask Laterala about the bear remark. She just told me that there would be a couple of Greek Bears showing up around this time they were to be sent back. I says real bears mam? She chuckled and said they were magi for the oppidum so I guessed you were one when the boy came and told me about the giant who spoke in a foreign tongue was outside.
He produces a white stone about an inch in diameter and presses it to the door which swings open.
Head down the hall. You will find a man called Aleksandar who is the steward for the Oppidum who can then direct you to Laterala.
Ankoydes walks ( with a stoop) down a hallway for ways until it comes to a door to a round room. There is an obvious ring around the room so that he would have to step over to enter. He can see a large desk in the center of the room with an older, balding man sites behind it writing something on a tablet. A young woman sits on the desk. she has long brown hair which goes to her waist. She is dressed in a white robe with a wide black belt. She seems to be chatting with the man while he works.
As Ankoydes approaches the girl looks up at him and starts then jumps down from the desk. The man looks up at Ankoydes expectantly.
Ankoydes looks down at the ring. [color=blue]Interesting, he thinks. [color=blue]I wonder what that's supposed to keep out...or in? His mind races, thinking immediately of a half dozen or more possible reasons for the ring. From keeping out vampires (this is Transylvania, after all), faeries, or demons, to keeping out anyone without the Gift, to dispelling or revealing disguises, to keeping the couple within the circle...
[color=blue]"Good evening, Aleksandar. I am Ankoydes doctrinae Bjornaeris. I believe Laterala is expecting me?"
He waits outside the circle, hands behind his back and rocking on his heels.
Ankoydes's grin falters for a second as he looks at the woman looking up at him with such apparent...interest. [color=blue]If she's part of Hévíz, I should keep an eye out for her, make sure she doesn't run afoul of my Xenia. Although his wife isn't normally the jealous type, he's never given her reason to be, and he'd hate to have to smooth things over if she did anyone an injury when she didn't have to.
[color=blue]"Certainly." He confidently steps over the line into the room.
Stepping into the better lit area Ankoydes can estimate that Violeta is about 12-13 years old. She has put on a pouting expression as she looks at him.
Aleksandar relaxes after you set into the ring.
Very well. Very well. I trust that your family is being cared for in the Inn? I shall check to make sure your rooms in the Oppidum are ready. At the moment we did not place you and your family near the labs but we can change. Make your wishes known when you talk with Laterala.
He turns and glances to the left and above. A balcony, hidden in the shadows of the lights ( magical not torches) with an old, one-eyed woman looking down. She reaches into her robe and pulls something out and tosses it to Ankoydes. I invite you into the Aegis Ankoydes gens Sirnas.
Ankoydes catches a small glass bottle with a stopper in it. Inside he can see a small white flower and stem.
Violeta's attitude changes quickly and she shows Ankoydes the stairs going up and leads him to Laterala's office.
Ankoydes looks down at Violeta, with a smile. [color=blue]You will always be safe around me, paidί moy, he thinks. She reminds him, just a little, of his Sophia when she was just a little younger.
[color=blue]"Lab work and research are not my first priority at the moment, but I will be wanting to devise ways to improve our protections when the time comes."
Ankoydes barely manages to catch the vial. As in, it hits the heel of his hand, caroms up to hit him in the chest, and he has to trap it there before it bounces off and falls to the floor. But catch it he does. Kinda.
[color=blue]"Thank you, Laterala," he calls up to her as he places the bottle in his pocket. He follows Violeta up the stairs, watching his step. It would be a bad omen to trip over his feet at this first meeting.
[color=blue]"Thank you, that would be most welcome."
[color=blue]"Yes, I have, but I was not aware that she was your apprentice."
Ankoydes takes a deep drink before he answers. [color=blue]"I don't know that I've been what you would call 'properly' informed. I understand that Hévíz is a primarily reasearch covenant, and that I am to help oversee the protection of the magi and of the covenfolk. There may be more details or nuances that have escaped me, as Latin is...not my language of choice, but I believe I have the heart of it."
Laterala takes this in with a nod and picks up a scroll from the desk. She glances at it for a moment.
You will be a Hoplite of the Tribunal and assigned to this Oppidum. Your primary task will be to protect the oppidum and sometimes the locals. It is trickier as we have another hoplite as a member and you will be under her in the command structure. Seniority and all that. By being a hoplite, all of the other members will be at your command in matters of security. Any questions so far?