2.4 - The Merchant Arrives

Two days have passed since the first Council Meeting of the resurrected Covenant of the Phoenix. It is a balmy, overcast Friday afternoon, and the dark clouds gathering in the west promise heavy rain in the near future.

To the south, any watchmen, or watch-women, for that matter, may make out a horse-drawn cart on the road from Castilblanco. As the cart draws closer, they make out two men on the cart, one of whom is the merchant Abdul al-Faisal, most likely making his quarterly visit to the Phoenix.

The merchant and his young companion come to the gates, the cart (and its contents) covered with a waterproofed tarpaulin. In recent times, the guard had always sent for Jaime Lannister, the last of the magi. But now, with all the new magi....what do they do?

Well, by now, raoudha should be trying to swim back to the surface, and must have heard, even passingly, of Abdul al-Faisal, and quickly understood his potential importance to the covenant. There must at least be some people that understand that they are to bother her, and not these outsiders magi.

So, when she hears the news of his arrival, she makes hastes to greet him, eager to get into business, already recalling what are the covenant's needs and what they can trade.

"Ah, greetings, my lady. The blessings of Allah upon you!" Abdul says in Arabic as he sees the autocrat rushing out to greet him. Then he pauses, a look of surprise crossing his face.

"Raoudha? I had not realized that you had returned to the Phoenix. It has been many years since I saw you last!" He seems to struggle for words for a moment. "I have heard about your husband. I am sorry for your loss...he was a good man."

He then remembers his manners and introduces the other young man on the cart as his son Yasser, a clean-shaven young man (or boy, actually) who doesn't appear to be even in his teens. Abdul explains that he is showing his son the ropes, as someday everything that he has will belong to Yasser (but not for a long time, Allah willing).

He also says that he has brought all of the items that Jaime Lannister (and anyone else at the covenant who had wanted to buy something through Abdul) had wanted, and asks if he can take his cart to unload at the usual place (presumably in the central part of the covenant somewhere?)

(apologies for the format of the reply...been a long busy week, and I am quite tired and a little brain-foggy from work and ever so slowly moving buttloads of boxes around at home...mostly involving taking them from the ground floor to the attic until we get to where we can actually get to the furniture and arrange it the way we want it...and I have a feeling I'm going to be editing and adding stuff on the morrow, if not just doing another post...whichever. meh)

Raoudha is pleasantly surprised to discover the merchant's identity

It is good to see yet another friendly face after being away so many years. It seems to many people have just died or left the war!
(...) :frowning:
Yeah, I miss him, too, it is hard to bring up a daughter without a father around, especially as she's coming of age. But enough with grief and regrets, tell me about you!

(this is where Abdul speaks about his son, with questions from raoudha, comparison about her own daughter and such).

I don't know where you use to discharge things, but I see no reason why things would be different, at least for now, so ease yourself. And afterwards, come see me! We'll speak about old times, and also discuss what we may need from you :smiley:

Abdul and his son (and any of the physically-able dockhands or whomever who are available) will offload the wagon in the courtyard, setting the merchandise where it will be easily sorted and redistributed by the covenfolk. (Have no idea what all he brought, just whatever Jaime and the people wanted/needed last time he was there, in late December).

When he is done, he will present Raoudha with the bill for the balance due (yes, he's been coming for years...no, he doesn't trust the magi enough to let them buy everything on credit...but it's probably something like 50% down, 50% on delivery).

He is on his way back to meet with Raoudha when the kitchen doors fling open and the maidservants flee (for lack of a better word). He has just started talking with her again when Cygna storms across the courtyard to the cellars. Abdul looks to Raoudha with a questioning look on his face.

He will speak with Raoudha well into the night...always in the presence of others, as is proper.

As seen in the picture on the wiki, the road leading south from Cijara to the ferry crossing for Castiblanco takes a zig-zagging course across undulating landscape. If one could travel as the crow flies, it would be half a day to Castiblanco, but the ferry crossing to the south and the landscape doubles the journey.

Dock to dock, heading from Cijara downstream to Castilblanco, is also half a day, currents willing. Heading upstream from Castiblanco to the vineyard takes 2/3rds of a day.

So why did Abdul arrive via the south road, his wagons following the southern wall for nearly two hours? For two reasons.

First, the shrewd Tyrion Lannister preferred goods to arrive via the manor house rather than the docks, the better to dole out generous surprises to his underlings. It is a delicate strategy to play, for an inept or undiplomatic noble might appear stingy and penny-pinching, but Tyrion and the Al'Jimni stewards he worked with had a reputation among the humiliores for bargaining, and the consensus among them was that they would get the best quality the vineyard could afford. Indeed, many of the humiliores only ask to hold the actual coins they earn on fair days.

Second, the harbormaster in Castiblanco converted at swordpoint when the city was taken a few months ago, and he and Abdul used to be good friends.

(Deleting a bunch of stuff and PM'ing to Abdul's player, Peregrine, for him to reveal)

Edited to add the thing I originally meant to write:

The manorhouse, you might recall, is located on a hilltop, which has been flattened out and expanded. There are several arch-shaped entrances under this artificial hill that are used to stables and manorial storage. Once brought through the east gate, Abdul's wagons would circle 90 degrees clockwise around the manor to reach the stables.

This becomes something of a comedy of errors, as Cygna's trek across the courtyard, which catches the eyes of Abdul and Raoudha, intersects with a strange assembly of heights. A huge, slightly effete looking blacksmith is looking incredulously an earnest looking young woman of average height, and a completely befuddled looking Viscaria.

"But you're not a dwarf!" protests Viscaria, now loud enough for all assembled to hear.

"But I'm not a dwarf!" protests Noland Sepharad the Smith.

"I didn't say I was," replies Ursula, late of the dwarven mining prisons. "I just want one of those hammers."

"I can't make you a dwarven hammer," Noland feebly tries to explain. "I'm not a dwarf. The only difference between dwarven hammers and the ones I showed you were that those were made by dwarves. Hence, dwarven hammer."

"It's only a dwarven hammer when dwarves are wielding them," Viscaria tries to explain, oblivious to Noland's argument. "As soon as you grab it, it stops being a dwarven hammer."

"Look, you know what I mean," complains Ursula.

"Oh, hi, Cygna."

Cygna says nothing at first, merely continuing on her way. After a moment, however, she turns and approaches the group. [color=red]"That...that vintner," she sputters as she gestures in the general direction of the kitchen,[color=red] "is the most...infuriating creature I've met in quite some time! He can drown in his vis for all I care!" She then turns and continues on her way, looking no less furious than she had a moment ago.

(p.s. I miss having visible reply buttons...it's a good thing I remember where they're supposed to be...except, oddly enough, they're still visible in IE and not in Firefox...which sucks)

After checking the good (Work is work), all the while commenting their quality, or lack thereof, raoudha will pay abdul his due. She'll bargain a little with him for the fun of it, but that's all: She intends to give him a fair and just price (and I guess he wouldn't try to swindle either her or cisjara), so no dice.

Raoudha looks as puzzled as Abdul, since she doesn't know cygna yet. She'll do a slight handwave to convey that.
Still... It is her duty to ensure everything goes well in Cijara, so, unless her intuition tell her otherwise [1], she'll approach cygna.
When the later stops to speak to viscaria, she'll try to stop cygna again, questionning her in latin (she's educated) asking her what happened exactly, trying to ascertain what's the problem and if she can help. If she can't, she'll try to have cygna confess nonetheless, hoping that this'll quiet somewhat the fury of the maga. (No, she doesn't have a deathwish!)

And yes, it would be most unseemly for a man to be alone with a still fine muslim woman.

[1] You should have trown the dice, not me. Still, it doesn't tell her (roll of 1d10=2), so this changes nothing

This is a PbP. If I have to roll the dice for PC-vs-PC interactions, then posts get shorter, quality of writing goes down. You guys are adults, use your discretion. If I need to interject, I'll add to the story, not rewrite what you've already written.

Right...wizards have their ways of making one regret trying to cheat them. Evil, nasty ways.

[color=red]"That vintner in the kitchen intentionally mis-translated my conversation with Cecilia. I have no idea what she hoped to accomplish by doing so. But I am so furious with her that I can't see straight, so I will speak with you later!"

"That's strange, but pretty rude. Thank you for the info, I'll think about it.

Raoudha takes note. She never had to use the vintners for translation, but she knows the vines to be whimsical and at times pretty inhuman in their behaviour and concerns, so she doubt they can be relied upon. But this causes a problem, as some or all of the foreign magi will be impossible to understand by the covenfolk.
While this poses no problem for most servants, it becomes problematic for those closest to the magi. The easiest way, one that would probably profit the magi best, is for them to learn castillan, so she'll have to try to convince them to do it. Barring that... The next best solution is probably to have most servants learn some latin, but this'll prove difficult, as they already have other duties, and probably time-consuming as well.

Viscaria blinks. "There's a Vintner in the kitchen? In Cijara? Wait, the Vintners speak Latin? Why didn't anybody tell me this?"

Speaking to Cygna's back, she sounds really confused. After a minute, she shrugs philosophically, and then turns briefly back to her conversation, instructing Ursula to just describe to Noland what she wants, and telling Noland to make the thing for her.

Viscaria then turns to face Raoudha and Abdul. "Why, hello! I don't believe we've met. I'm Viscaria Lynchis. I just moved in a few days ago. Do you live here?"

Her simple white toga, belted at the waist with dozens of rune-etched silver rods, her pretty array of fascinating, fae-inspired silver jewelry, her friendly, innocent amethyst eyes....they all reek of The Gift.

Raoudha has heard the tales before, so she takes care not to look the fae in the eyes, lest her soulless pits ravish her soul and mind. So she instead focuses on one of viscaria's ears, as her mother told her to do so many years ago.
Yet, she has taken care to know who the new masters are, so...

Salutation, mylady. I am lady Raoudha Al'Jimni, last of the Al'Jimni line that owned this land in old times. I have been recalled by Tirion Lanister to honor the promise that binds my family, Cijara and you magi, to administer this land and supply you with everything you may need in exchange for your protection, help and money.

Her easygoing nature would have had her offer her help and advice, but the gift's effect make her wary and eager to leave viscaria's company.

"Oh, excellent! I've been meaning to meet with you. I have plans to convert some of the central buildings into a school, a government office, and a sort of Feast Hall. With the population in such disarray, I'm hoping that we can assign just a handful of people to do the cooking for everyone. Hopefully, this will free up the children, so that they can get back to the education which I'm told was once part of the local tradition. When can we discuss this?"

(The Cijara manorhouse has traditionally been the seat of government, and The Gift may cause Raoudha to be particularly opposed to the creation of a government office. Even if it doesn't, it's definitely an unnecessary and ill-advised duplication of effort from any Steward/Autocrat's point of view)

Raoudha tenses somewhat at the prospect of that outsider ruining up her ancestries land.

A feast hall is a great idea, we do need to congregate some more and cheer up our spirits. The last time I was here, people all get along, but now it seems more and more that they're trying to emulate Iberia's infighting.
But, while I would love to see people getting educated again, there are several problems with your proposal. If we don't have enough efficient cooks, we may have problems in morale and feeding. As far as I know, the kitchen are barely functionnal yet, and, sadly, we do need the children's work due to the war :frowning: So we need to take care and ponder the repercussions of what we do. In my opinion, we should first make sure everything runs smoothly, and then try to see how we can bring back the school
Also, I don't need any office. I know my job, my father trained me for it, as do every inhabitant here. Would you really put fati into an office? He may have aged, but he always loved to be out in the field. Same for me, I've always found I am more efficient prowling Cijara's grounds and taking the pulse of the manor than holed up in a room.

Abdul looks after Cygna for a moment, hating to see anyone angry, especially over what may be a simple misunderstanding, and feeling like he should do something to help Cygna and the vintner work things out (having been to Phoenix often enough to know what vintners are, but he may still be surprised that they're on what they call the Right Side of the manor).

[color=green]"If I may be excused for a moment, Raoudha?" Abdul says, then hurries after the maga.

Once he catches up with her, he will introduce himself. [color=green]"I could not help but notice that there seems to be some disagreement between you and one of the vintners...and I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help? Perhaps speak with it to clear up whatever misunderstanding you may have?" As he speaks with her, he'll try to figure out how...reliable her version of events may have been: Per(?) 0 + Folk Ken (Magi) 4 + die roll of 2 = 6...so, probably "reply hazy, try again."

Cygna glares at Abdul. [color=red]"What 'misunderstanding'? I simply asked her to relay a request to the kitchen staff. What the staff heard from the vintner was the exact opposite of what I asked. And since the vintners do not 'accidentally' mis-translate, this was quite obviously intentional, and I will deal with her later. If you want to talk to her, be my guest...maybe you can get her to apologize." She then continues on in a huff.

Abdul looks at Cygna as she leaves, then in the direction of the kitchen...then decides he's done enough for now. He doesn't feel like dealing with the vintners...they just seem too unnatural for his taste.

When he returns to Raoudha, he will also introduce himself to Viscaria. Taking note of the silver rods, the fine jewelry, and her apparent youth, he finds himself wondering how she got them. [color=green]"I have helped the covenant acquire many of the things that they need for several years. If I can be of any assistance, if there is anything you need that I might be able to find for you, please let me know. I come this way about every three months."

[color=green]"Ah, excellent...it seems that I may be of assistance. Now, I understand from my past couple of visits that neither phoenix nor Cijara has the...craftsmen that it once had. I do believe I can find some fine quality furnishings for the buildings you are planning. Perhaps we should all get together before I leave and decide what you will be needing?"

[color=green]"Raoudha, I do believe I can help here as well. Many Jews are fleeing the 'Reconquista,' heading south and west into Muslim lands, but they're having no luck finding sanctuary. I think I might be able to find some. It's possible that I might be able, by your leave, to see if they would be willing to relocate here, if it is still true that the magi in charge are more tolerant of different faiths than others might be. Oh...and that reminds me. While on my way here, I think I saw some refugees south of here, on the east side of the river. If I hadn't been in such a hurry to get here before the rain, I would have stopped to offer them aid."

He then pauses, with a troubled look on his face, then switches to Arabic. [color=green]"There is more troubling news that I must share with you, but not now...later, when prying ears aren't about," he says with what he hopes is a surreptitious gesture toward Viscaria.

OOC: Reread the OOC thread, amul suggested coming in here, I'll take a whack at the non-linear story telling.

While Raoudha is talking with the unknown man and all the activity is bustling in the courtyard Étienne comes into the courtyard leading his horse on foot.
"Greetings again to you, Raoudha, I bring with me today Ra'am ex Bonisagus and the rest of his retinue. Is Jamie Lannister prepared to receive him? When last we spoke three days ago, I left the letter in your hands, to deliver to him," he says in Latin.


Well, I spoke with the one called Hiems while traveling, and he was very clear on that, and does seem to be willing to have anyone live here in peace. Probably so that he can use their work to sustain his high standard of living, but I'd say toiling for him is still preferable to war and famine. As per Jamie... He's still the jamie I remember, although mellowed by age. He told me thay had a council, and that all the magi agreed on maintaining that policy, especially Hiems and Cygna.
And now that you tell me about it, they were supposed to go check these people. If they don't, I'll have to ask some of their soldiers to go there. We can't leave them starving.
While taking him away from Viscaria, she explains to Abdul how many people they need, what kind of specialists (masons?)... Since these people already have a home, there's no problem for her to be picky about it. And manpower is always useful, especially in the field.

I am troubled by your words, but now is not the place, there are too much people here. She is worried. There are enough problems as it is, what dire news can Abdul bring?

Hein? Aaargh??? What letter??? Reading that thread... Ok, so you've been there since 3 days, and are supposed to have met raoudha yet? Okaaaay...

While as smiling as ever, raoudha seem tired to the perceptive eye of etienne. Since her arrival, she's barely slept, reacquainting herself with both the grounds and the people (Refreshing her lvl 5 Cijara Lore) and working tirelessly, and it's taking its toll.

Etienne, isn't it? I am sorry, we barely spoke last time. I delivered your letter to Jamie, but hasn't heard from him or any other magus yet: Just as they are busy settling in, I've been struggling to bring the manor to a semblance of working order, so we haven't seen each other.
Okay, here's what we'll do. We have some guest quarters. He can settle there for the duration of his stay, or until he's approved here and finds a better place to settle in. Just warn me when he arrives, so I can welcome him. On the meantime, I'll try to reach Jamie again, get him to summon a council of the magi so they can welcome this Ra'am and discuss with him.

(OOC: IMO, a "council magi" with Ra'am should take place in your thread, so as to keep things as clear as possible)

Étienne looks on Raoudha with a bemused, knowing grin and says, "when last we spoke, I was returning to meet Ra'am, the Magus I represent. I had expected to be on the road about six days, and truthfully, for me, it has been, but Ra'am was impatient to arrive and we set out as soon as I met him at a village three days north from here.

"Great Lady, Raoudha, I don't think you understand the nature of the situation. My master will arrive presently, an hour at most, and will expect some degree of Hermetic courtesy, his first pater was a Jerbiton, and the sense of courtesy has been well established in him. My lady, I put myself at your disposal, so that we may ensure his opinion of Phoenix is as high as possible. I have some experience with your position, and know full well the difficulties of administration.

"He will expect a suite for his family, not mere quarters." He continues reminding Raoudha about the nature of Ra'am's retinue, "He has two daughters and a wife, and a personal attendant that would need quarters near him. There is myself, of course," he says with a twinkle in his eye. "There is a baker, I believe his cousin, but he can sleep with the kitchen staff. A personal shield grog, who, can be stationed with the other men-at-arms, of course. A wainwirght, who, I might add, should be kept with the horses, if you take my meaning. Oh, and the rabbi, who should be accorded some level of distinction, I think. From what I've been able to gather, he's a friend of his wife's family. So, whatever I can do to assist you, I am at your disposal."