Thank you. I won't lie, I had rather hoped you might offer. I think I will go with your grog, though; it may be that I need to arrange passage on a boat or something, and it would help if I were on hand. Maybe I can spend some time acquiring resonant materials we don't see very much in Andorra - what is this area known for?
..and other such small talk, although the acquisition of materials would seem a sensible side-goal.
"Mostly the college, you could probably get more than a few specimens that would resonate with corpus there, antiquities tends to be more Rome, and the agriculture is, well nice but not resonant."
The next day a grog who looks to be in his early 50s escorts the two men down through Salerno and to the docks, where he begins to ask dockhands about the small furry man. When it becomes clear he is handing out coins, the word starts to spread rapidly, and men who have spotted the fellow begin to appear.
Antoine has let $GROG handle things while he visits the market and purchases a few woods that aren't local to Andorra, and potentially visits the college. He's left instructions to send Phelippe to fetch him once $GROG has tracked down a credible source. So he'll rejoin them once there's something to learn.
With $GROG translating you get some simple description- the man was handling some cargo transactions for a local factor, and bought some grain from a small hairy man, as well as selling him some linen. The deliveries were to a ship called The Aeolus, which left heading south 2 weeks ago, he was under the impression it was headed for Corfu, though it may have planned other stops along the way.
Antoine will attempt to find a corroborating story, if possible - it's astonishing what people will invent in exchange for coin. Assuming that checks out, is there some kind of harbourmaster who would keep ships' itineraries? Not sure if we're a bit historically early for that to be common practice.
The grog has already found several corroborating sources, the harbor master tracks ship's inventory and trades, as well as name and where it was docked and when, as well as previous port and nationality, but he does not track next port.
Ok, that's a good start. Shame we can't easily get a better idea of where it's going (well... I can think of a number of ways, but they're all reasonably complicated and at least one of them would require an InHe spell that Antoine can probably only cast if he's very lucky). On the other hand, by the reckoning of Orbis, it should only take a week or so to get to Corfu and the ship's been gone two, so he may already have missed it there.
Antoine asks the grog if he happens to speak Greek as well. If not, he thanks him and accompanies him back to the covenant with a message of thanks for the magi there; then he recasts the Appearance of a Cloud (non-fatiguing success in Aura >=1) and heads for Corfu; roughly 6 hours by my calculation.
On arrival, he starts looking for four things, without much minding which he finds first: a Latin or French-speaker who knows of the Aeolus or its owner; a translator; someone he knows via the Goldsmiths; and a Hermetic covenant. For those last:
Pre 0 + 1d10 = 3 vs 6, failure to find a contact
Int 4 + OoH Lore 1 + 1d10 = 2 = 7, to recall if there is a covenant nearby.
There is no covenant nearby, he seems to recall there is some Hermetic significance to the stone ship which lies near Corfu, but whatever that is there do not seem to be any people, never mind magi around it. However you are able to locate a small church of the Latin tradition where an elderly priest does speak Latin as well as Greek.
A priest? Excellent. Antoine sends Phelippe in to do the initial talking.
Peace be with you, father. My name is Phelippe; I am a Knight Templar emeritus. I wonder if I could beg a favour of you?
My compatriot and I are searching for a ship we believe was due in Corfu around this time; but alas we have no Greek. Would you consent to serve as a translator for us for a while? I would hope not more than a few days. I am sure we could arrange a donation to your church as gratitude.
I'll have to look up that ship - the Sundered Eagle is the only non-core book I have, oddly enough.
The priest looks at Phelippe "Knight Templar? I wouldn't go advertising that around here, ever since the fourth crusade, well, things have been hard localy. It's gotten a bit better with the Bulgars in charge, even though they are pretty much orthodox as well. If I help you am I going to have people coming around asking what you were up to and if I'm helping the Latins in Constantinople?"
]Heavens! I apologise most wholeheartedly for any problems my brethren may have caused you. I promise, we are not here to stir up trouble; we are not from Constantinople in any way. My companion is a scholar, who is searching for a particular sailor on board a particular ship; we have heard that the sailor is an unusual character, and my friend would like the chance to talk with him.
Nothing sinister, I assure you. We believe the sailor has a... uh... condition which my companion would very much like to study. I assure upon my honour as a man of God that he does not intend him any harm; in fact, I rather think he hopes to befriend the sailor, and convince him to travel with us for at least a while.
"I see, well this certainly sounds like something the Bulgars could not object to, though I dare say they will try, come, let us head to the docks.You said from [strike]Corfu[/strike] Salerno, what was the name of the ship?"
No, from Salerno. We're in Corfu. Unless I've missed something? It's been a while (for which, I apologise).
"The Aeolus", and thank you. I don't believe I caught your name?
Outside the church, they meet up with Antoine. Phelippe introduces him: This is my colleague, Antoine. I'm afraid he's not the most sociable of men, but one gets used to him.
Obviously, the Gift will be affecting the priest, so Phelippe is trying to cover up for Antoine a little. Antoine's activated his talisman for Aura of Ennobled Presence; the combined effect is presumably creepy but authoritative (mechanically, the two modifiers should cancel out).
The priest takes a look at Antoine and whispers to Phelippe. "This is a scholar? What is he some nobleman's second son?" The gestures for the two men to follow him to the docks. "Perhaps you should hang back while I make some initial inquiries."
Yes, that may be best. As I say, Antoine is actually a decent enough fellow, but first impressions...
Antoine and Phelippe stand off to one side while the priest handles preliminary enquiries.
I do apologise for anything I have said about you that may be considered insulting. It's often hard to explain to people why they instinctively find you unlikeable.
Not a problem. It's something I've dealt with every day of my life. But I'm glad to see you're starting to get used to it. Did the covenfolk explain you would?
They did. It's curious. if I may be frank, I still find you i[/i] quite unpleasant. Even loathesome or terrifying in certain cases. But yes, with time, I have found I can rationalise it, so it doesn't affect me as much.
"Nobody I spoke to, but I can ask the factors, they might have a better idea." The priest heads off and a couple of hours later returns "One of the factors is expecting a hipment from them in the next week or two. Roughly, weather tends to make exact dates unreliable. Pirates of course make for even less reliable deliveries."