2.1 Preludes - Cijara / Phoenix Covenant

(any characters who start off at Phoenix Covenant, be it companions or grogs, are free to make an appearance in this thread)

1st day of Spring, 1213 AD

The rather timid looking Jewish maid stepped into the library, and tentatively asked, "Seniorita Claudia? There are boats on river, heading to the docks on the Right Side. The vines...the vines say it might be one of the new Seniores. I was sent to fetch Seniore Lannister, only....only he's....he's outside, ma'am, if you know what I mean." She swallows back a lump of cold terror in her throat.

"You know the rules, seniorita. I can't....no one without combat training can leave through the Left Side gate. So....could you fetch him?"

"Thank you," Claudia says.

She heads outside and passes through the gate, looking for Jaime.

Phoenix Regio

Claudia walks out of Phoenix Manorhouse and into the large, walled estate gardens overgrown with grapevine. How quickly it grew! The chattering grapevine was everywhere now, and she couldn't see any of the semi-translucent warders who kept their strange vigil.

She walks past the charred crater which had once been the cradle of so many of her dreams.

Stepping up next to (and almost through!) the warder at the gate, she pauses for a moment to listen catch her breath and listen. Erick Warder (all the ghosts were called Warder), a long dead fool of a man who had died alone in the woods over 20 years ago, pauses in his conversation with Aubrey Vintner (all the vines were called Vintner) long enough for Claudia to take stock.

The sounds of ghostly battle, ever present in the regio, were soft and far away. Before her, the ancient rusted gate with its crazy patterns, creaks open and close in the light wind, its hinges well-oiled. Beyond it, lies The Ruins.

The crumbling remains of the vast, oddly sized, confusingly laid out city, colored green and purple with the grapevine, sprawl out before her.

"He's by the pond, I'm guessing," says Erick Warder. "Talking to the Will'O'Wisps." He points to the large open pasture with its pond, some two miles beyond.


"Captain Saladin?" asks the boy who was far too young to be working the docks. "Amaranta Vintner says there's a boat heading downstream toward us, but we're not expecting any. Do you think it may be the new Seniores?"

"Thank you, Erick."

Claudia eases through the gate, wondering once again if the patterns were supposed to make sense, or if they would if the accident hadn't happened, and looks to the pond.

Smiling beneath her burka, she hikes up the hem and starts to run to where Erick thought Jaime might be.

"I've said it before, lad," Captain Fati grumbles, "Saladin was my old master, Allah's blessing on his soul. His death was a great loss to us all, and I cannot do justice to his name." He sighs and rubs his left shoulder. "My rain detector here says it'll be a clear day, the aches not as bad as usual. Alai, be a good boy and go pound on me new students' door. No need to tell 'em what's going on - let's see if any of my training has sunk into their thick skulls or not." Fati stands and arches his back, knuckling a sore muscle or two before resting his hand on sword pommel, and chuckles a bit. "If they ain't all assembled by the Main Gate by the time I get back I'll be chewing on their lazy, soft, baby rabbit buttocks. Guessin' someone else be needing to fetch the Master to greet 'im, eh? Don't worry Alai, that's a job even these old bones can handle, he's always at the Pond at this time of day." He starts striding towards the East Gate.

(OOC: Abdul Fati bin Saladin breaks down to Servant Fati of Saladin - Saladin is not a family name or surname, but an indication of where or whom Fati's from.)

Phoenix Regio

Claudia runs across the cracked black-grey metal which cobbles the streets, nimbly avoiding the larger crops of weeds pushing through them in places (and earning a chastisement or two from some of the Vintners). Does she follow the curving lines of the labrythine streets, or does she cut through the broken walls of the round buildings to forge a straighter course?

Either way, she quickly makes it to the park, and indeed finds Jaime Lannister sitting at one of the cracked black-grey metal benches by the small pond. He is staring into the sparkling lights which dance across the still water, his mouth moving silently. Claudia doesn't need to hear his words to know whose name he has been calling over and over to. He hasn't bothered to wipe the tears from his eyes, and they've run down his face and stained his clothing.

She's seen this before. He's let himself fall deep into his sorrows today, and will likely not be responsive to her words. She can guide him, walk him back to the covenant and get someone to bathe him. The warm water usually helps him regain himself.

A small crowd of Warders look out from behind a clump of trees, trying to be respectful, wishing they could hug him or each other. The Vintners, who never used to linger in the park, murmur "Poor dear" to each other.


Alai scurries off to follow your orders. Captain Fati heads out toward the pond, passing one of the Warder girls (no doubt off to spread gossip). He nearly steps on Marguerita Vintner, who had come creeping up the steps.

"Claudia has found him," Marguerita informs you without being asked. "But I suspect she'll need a hand getting him back in, the poor dear. He's quite gone to pieces. Oh, and don't worry, the streets are quite safe today. Nothing's come past us."

Elsewhere in Cijara

The small riverboat that is landing can hold one magi's party. The rest can show up by land, or on another boat coming up from behind.

She would cut through the broken walls. She doesn't know how long until the boats arrive, and she wants to get him back to the manor house as quickly as possible so he can greet them.

"Magus Jamie, we are having company soon," she tells him softly. He may not consciously hear her, but perhaps deep down inside he will respond. "We must get ready for them."

She guides him back to the manor house and into the basement, softly instructing one of the humiliores or the servants to care for him, and to prepare him for company.

(btw, and totally ooc - Ding!)

"Thank ye, Marguerita," Fati rumbles as he suppresses a shudder. "'Tis always a good day when I don't have to step through those gates. Right unnerving it is, even still to today. I'll go be giving the young lass a hand - hopefully she'll already have reached the gates by then. Best be good to give the folks a heads up too, you know what we need to make 'im presentable" As he steps over her and walks on, he calls back, "And don't be tricking yourself into believing I don't see you creeping towards the bathhouse! Allah forbid you get there and realize all the new ones be Mistresses instead of Misters! Ha! That'd be a disappointment, I wager!"

Fati chuckled again and continued on towards the gate. Twenty years had gone since he first met Marguerita, Yosef, Erick, Shante, so many more - all the Warders and Vintners. He prayed and fasted for days, trying to determine if this was some Christian trick or a message from Allah. Now he knew them for the blessings they were, though not then. He could only imagine the new Masters and Mistresses surprise and encounters, especially in the bathhouse. He quickly yelled back, "And Marguerita! Pass on word to the maids to fetch a cot for the sitting room in case any o' the new company be fainting from the shock! Heavens knows you're a lively one to meet! Ha! "

Hurrying along now, Fati catches up to Claudia as she comes back through the gates and quickly slips his shoulder under Jamie's arm so Claudia can lead him by the hand back inside. Fati shakes his head at the poor Master's state after they hand him off, and then marches towards the Main Gates to see if his lasses were ready or not.


Fati and Claudia hand off Jaime to a humilior. Presumably, someone is gathering at the docks. What next?

Chico: you named them, you get to add them to the wiki :stuck_out_tongue: Don't forget about Alai.

As the boats come close to the docks, the covenfolk can make out more details about their occupants. It seems they're quite a few, some of them armed to boot, which raises some alarm.

Captain Abdul Fati bin Saladin is prompt to reassure the covenfolk, though: Quiet yourselves! These don't look agressive and come in plain day. It most probably is one of the newcomers. And if it ain't, they won't stand a chance should they bother Master Lannister.

After some time, the boats accost, and 2 men-at-arms descend, one of them clearly a big, tough guy. Adressing Alai Kaseem with a smile (but not an open hand), he says in Catalan "Hello, young fellow. This Palacio de Cijara, right? "

Alai stared up in wonder. So big...he thought, with a blank stare and open mouth. Najib elbowed him in the side and younger boy's mouth snapped shut with a click. Replying in similar tongue, "Yes, yes it is, good sirrah. Welcome to..." He turned to Najib and in a very loud whisper, "Left or Right? He means Right, right?" Nijab slapped his forehead, then slapped Alai's for good measure. Nodding for Alai's benefit, he turned to the tall, armored man.
"Welcome to Cijara, sirrah. May we assist with the baggage?" Nijab made a slight bow. "Really, sir, he's much better with the regular ships. Alai just seems to have let one of the Warders make off with his tongue. My parents named me Nijab, and I assist good Alai here."
"I coulda said that," Alai protested. The widows waiting at the dock tittered, and one of the guardswoman giggled until it was audibly choked off after a glare from Abdul Fati. Alai planted himself in front of Amaranta to make sure she was not stepped on, and the widows lined up in front of the gangplank, waiting for permission to board the craft and attend to the luggage piled up on deck.

Cijara Dock-town

Like the rest of the Cijara vineyard complex, the dock area shows the unmistakable marks of having outgrown its original, carefully contemplated design, and then shrunk back down. The warehouse further away from the dock sits in its own palisade, and is clearly far more valuable to the health of the village than the warehouse directly adjacent, with its mouth open to the docks to ease the unloading of trade goods.

Women and children work to secure the boat while the old and the infirm attempt to be on guard for ambush or treachery. Even the most cursory glance shows that this second group does not know what they are looking for.

Edit: Removed Alai stuff, since Chico played him while I was typing.


The young boy answers even before the promised coin has been pulled out of the pocket. "Oh, si, seniorita. Everyone has heard of the Casa de Cijara. Their wines are said to be the best in Christian lands. Si, I can take you there, they are only a few hours walk from here. But they are a small community, I do not think they will welcome your troupe."

OOC: Serrano, this is your cue. Severus and Constantine, also arriving on-stage at this location, can either buy their own guides, or interact with Serrano's company.

[u]On the North Bank of the Guadiana[/u]

"La! La! La! I'm not listening!" screams the midget, covering his ears.

His sister continues to point at some indecipherable drawings in the mud. "I'm telling you, if we just had an axe, we could fell one of those trees, and use it to cross the river and get to that town we saw last night."

The third sibling refuses to give an inch. "And I'm telling you, the trees on the other side of the river are much better for bridge building."

"But we can't get to the other side of the river!"

"Besides, we don't HAVE an axe!"

"I bet Seniorita Viscaria could get us there!"

"La! La! La! La!"

"Seniorita Maga, what do you think?"

"I think someone's watching us."

OOC: Hiems, that's your queue.

The dockworkers had no sooner cleared the ropes from the boat and started to go about their normal business again when Abdul Fati bin Saladin happened to spy another barge approaching the docks of Cijara.

Look lively, we have more visitors, it seems, the captain calls to the boys and the Cijara workers. The crew on the barge throw mooring ropes, and the barge is securely docked.

The boat is laden with goods, more than likely making their way into the heart of Castile. One of the workers knocks on the doorway of a cabin at the stern of the barge (the cabin greatly resembling a shack erected amongst the bales of cargo). “Tell your mistress that we've arrived at Cijara,”he says in Spanish. His tone of voice sounds like someone who has lost patience quite some time ago and is now merely going through the motions of civility.

Within moments, a group of people come out of the “cabin”. First is a burly man with long blond hair and bushy beard, and a woman who has black hair showing signs of gray and a patch over her left eye. Both of them are fully armed and armoured. They look around briefly, especially at Captain Abdul and the at the old-timers making a feeble attempt at guarding the dock. They exchange quick glances, and give an almost imperceptible sad shake of the head. A moment or two later, the taller of the two men-at-arms leans back to say something into the cabin. Two women then come out and look around. The taller woman is fair-skinned, with white hair and a long neck, and is wearing simple homespun. At her side is a beautiful sandy-skinned woman with long, dark brown hair.

Directly behind them are two more men-at-arms. One of them is as tall as the bushy blond man in front, but a lot lankier and clean-shaven, while the other has shorter hair and a trimmed light-brown beard.

The group makes their way onto the dock, the bargemen glaring holes in their backs. The captain barks a quick order to the others, and four trunks are roughly hauled ashore and dropped onto the dock.

The white-haired woman turns quickly. “What do you idiots think you're doing?” she yells in English. “I did not pay you good money to have our possessions treated like...” She sputters as the gorgeous brunette and the burly man-at-arms step between her and the bargemen, and speak softly to her for a moment. She turns her back to the bargemen, anger still evident on her face.

She surveys the assembly of Cijarans on the dock. “Does anybody here speak Latin?” she says in Latin.

(edited to remove the superfluous dialogue, since Heims answered her)

Hiems and consorts departed the boats calmy and orderly.
Or so, it was that way until a large woman showed up from the last boat.

Ordering next to everyone around as to what to unload and where, not in an autoritarian manner but as one who takes charge and know how to do it, she immediately began to speak to everyone in catalan, about everything, enquiring about the covenant's state, the lords's manners, who's in charge, who's this awesome-looking old man (pointing at Captain Fati), where they were gonna sleep, are there monsters nearby,and, more importantly, where would the kitchen be... All in one, no one noticed everyone but her, at least, until cygna came around. At that point, she began muttering to Alain: "Who's this? Another visitor? She seems... headstrong. What do you say? We should duck for cover before any arrow begin to fly"

Unnoticed until then, Hiems watched all of cygna's rumble without caring too much, staying apart from the mundanes.

Waiting for a pause in her fury, he pulls back his hood, revealing his unnatural and striking blue hair. At this sight, people gasp, some swearing that a fae lord (or maybe the devil) has come visit them, and quite a few women doing the sign of the cross.
Sale sodales. My name is Hiems Ex Miscellanea, and, like you, I am a newcomer here. I came from the Provencal tribunal, but you seem to come from further yet. Who may you be?

Fati cut off what he was about to say to Maria as the otherworldly magus threw his hood back. He hoped this new one was a magus - he recognized the term "sodales" the cool one used. Releasing his hand from his sword, Fati signalled the girls to stand down but stay wary, and made a point of nodding at the whiner and albino. His Latin, though not the greatest, was still better than the poor smidgen most of the rest knew and Fati eagerly awaited for Sharae to share the beauty of Arabic with these newcomers. Until then, he would do well to listen closely to these two and see their possible intentions towards Lannister - he would not hesitate to say the invitation was in error or the location incorrect if these two proved... inimical.

He tried to chivvy Maria over to the larger woman of the first party, figuring two maids would do well to distract each other over precedence and importance while he tried to listen in on the conversation of the wizards.

Alai continued to stand guard over Amaranta and wondered whether she was awaiting him to introduce her or if she would just speak up herself like she was wont to do. Najib watched Alai open and close his mouth several times and wondered if the young boy had finally cracked and was trying to catch flies.

At Castiblanco

Amos looked around for any travelling parties. It was doubtful that they would arrive at the same location at the same time, but he was loath to try and arrange lodging. Nicholas did his best, but Amos knew as soon as he showed his face the price increased threefold. In the papers Martreau had him review his pater spoke of one of Guernicus that was also to make his way down to Phoenix. It was prudent to make his acquaintance early, politely, and earnestly. Also, it would be good to find out if he was actually investigating anything so, as Martreau wrote, "ya don't step in the wrong shit and end up having him be following your trail instead o' the prey's." Severus ex Guernicus was the name, but he didn't see anything resembling a traveling party. The only group out of sorts was the entertainment troupe and wagons talking to the boy by the watering hole, but they were much too lively and attention-attracting to be in any way connected to the Order... probably just moving to the next city to make a few silver. They would probably make a few just off Molly and Jeannette, anyways - Francois and Josephine were already begging to go over.

"My name is Cygna filia Grus of the Bjornaer House, late of the Stonehenge Tribunal," she says with a strong English accent. "I assume that you are also here at the request of Jamie Lannister ex Flambeau?"

Hiems nods

Yes, I am. I heard of his offer and... Let's say I had nothing holding me back there, and Phoenix seemed all the better. I came here with some mundane companions, but we were not sure we were at the right place. Luckily, your presence here confirm that we're right, so I'm all the more pleased to meet you. Now, shall I accompany you to meet our host?

"Either that, or we're both equally lost," Cygna replies with the slightest hint of a smile. "But yes, you may...if you can give me just a moment or two first."

Cygna turns to the one-eyed woman. "Maria, you speak the language," she says in English. "Please have the porters take our baggage to...wherever they will be housing us."

She then returns her attention to Heims. "Shall we?" she says as she seems to be...almost studying him. Not rudely, but with the air of someone who has never seen anyone quite like him before.

In the background, Maria tries to have some of the children (more than likely, as they seem the most physically competent) take the trunks into what she believes to be the covenant. As she does, she keeps her eye open for anything that she considers out of the ordinary. She is also unable to keep a smile from crossing her face, try as she might.

A half-hearted smile. This was the clearly funny answer, and cygna didn't miss it. At least, one of his sodales got some humor, so maybe things will be more bearable than in Aquitaine.

Once the various grogs and children are ready (which may take quite some time given the people involved, Hiems and Cygna will thus take to the covenant, hoping to meet Jamie Lannister and take hold of their new laboratories.
Hiems will try to muster up some conversation, both to be polite and to get acquaintanced with cygna
So, how was it in the Stonehenge Tribunal? I heard things were a lot less... organised there than in provence or normandy, and that the magi here were much more ready to accept exotic magics. Is it true?

Before the magi make their way toward the covenant, Cygna calls out. “Terrence, Celestria, come with me,” she says in English. At her summons, the burly man-at-arms and the dusky beauty come to her side (the woman turning to wave at the bargemen when she reaches Cygna). “Celestria, we are all here to start life anew,” Cygna says in English sternly. “I trust you shan't be making the same mistakes as before and embarrassing both you and me?”

“Sorry, Maga,” Celestria replies (also in English), with no hint of contrition in her voice, smiling as she looks at Hiems.

“Hiems, this is my shield grog Terrence,” Cygna gestures to the man-at-arms as she speaks again in Latin, “and my maidservant Celestria." The maidservant drops a little curtsy and smiles as she's introduced. "Please let me know if she becomes a nuisance.”

As they head toward (presumably) the manor house, Cygna continues speaking. “I don't know if I would go so far as to call Stonehenge a 'less organized' Tribunal. It seems to me that it might be a Tribunal in name only, as they hadn't had a legal Tribunal since the Schism War until I had started my apprenticeship. And as to how accepting they are...well, since I've never been elsewhere until now, I'm not sure what the rest of the Order considers 'exotic'.” She smiles as she looks at Hiems sideways, a smile that quickly fades as she scowls, looking directly ahead of her. “Go...away!” she hisses quickly, then forces a smile again.

“And what of Provençal, Hiems? I fear that I've heard little of your Tribunal, myself.” As they walk, Cygna alternates from glancing at Hiems and looking at Cijara curiously. Terrence, standing on the other side of Cygna, is also looking around, albeit more purposefully, while Celestria follows a step or two behind.