Chapter 0: Csilla's Assignment

A few days have passed since Csilla has completed her Gauntlet and received the accolade of her House as a maga. She has been given a little time to spend with her husband and children while the superiors of House Tremere consider how to best use her abilities and choose an assignment for her.

A summon finally comes, to join her pater in his office. Surely that is the time where her future becomes known to her.

As is usual for him, Janus is reading dispatches and reports when Csilla joins him. He nods at her to acknowledge her arrival. After a moment more spent reading, he puts back the letter he is currently reading into a leather folder and closes it. He looks up, obivously pondering the importance of what he has just read, then turns his attention to her. Surprisingly, he rises and simply tells her, "Walk with me, filia," before leading her out of his office. After a short walk, they find themselves on top of the wall enclosing the fortress of Coeris.

"We have need of additional assets in the Rhine," says Janus after some time spent admiring the mountainous view outside the fortress. "And the House thinks that it would be a suitable place for you to serve. There are many news coming from that Tribunal, but as yet I am unsure what exactly is going on. So we need more information on the mundane activities happening there. Particularly after what happened in Constantinople, it is felt that we need to know more about what the nobility is doing in the Holy Roman Empire."

"You will not be leaving immediately, however. For you to be useful, we want you to learn the language. We will also be preparing a mundane identity for you to travel there. The plan is for you to leave in about six months' time." Janus hesitates then turns to Csilla, "There is one more thing. We are not sure whether it might be better for you to leave your children here, or integrate them into your cover. They would almost certainly be safer here, but it might be some time before you can see them. Give it some thought and let me know what you'd prefer."

Csilla listen very carefully all Janus has to said, nodding every time her pater finish a sentence.
When he finish she respectfully answer him with her usual sentence when he orders :

"Very well pater, your word is my order, i will obey you with celerity and care.
I understand the need to learn German and i will apply myself to it. But is there 6 month enough for me to be fluent ?
I agree with you that my children shouldn't come with me to a place it is unknown of the whereabouts.May be later on if im fully accepted. I hope they wont disturb you too much."

Taking a slow respiration after this sentence, sighing a bit of sadness she whisper: " i hope i wont stay away from them too long".. realizing she is have said this louder than she thought too, she apoligize deeply to Janus.

first of all for this mission, is there any member of our family around i could trust or speak about it. if so won't they see my coming as a threat ?
second of all to whom should i report. I know you can be quite busy lately so i wish not to disturb you with my seasonly report.
third do you have any clue or lead of the particular subject am i assigned ?
Fourth should i bring a present to show my respect to the place i will be assigned,
Fifth but as well knowing that resources are fluctuating, probably even more in the Rhine since like their reputation older magi hoard resources and knowledge any advise to whom should i contact to continue my progress in learning ?
Finally i dunno much about Rhine, only that elder magi tend to overrule younger, but for the member of our family do they still obey to our family hierarchy or do they tend to forget about it ?"

Csilla always had an organize mind and always process and speak her mind loud when it was like that. soon she realize she might have be disrespectful.

"I mean im sorry pater if i did offend you with those question "

Janus shakes his head in mild reproach. "You know that only those questions that are asked foolishly or not asked at all will offend me. These are neither."

"It is understood that you will not be fluent in the language in a mere six months, but that should be enough time for you to be functional in it. Your mundane identity will provide you with a reason to travel through the Holy Roman Empire while not being native to the region. You will, of course, have to continue your studies of the language as time goes by and, once you are sufficiently fluent in it, additional cover identities will be provided as different missions are assigned to you."

"You children will be well taken care of in your absence, as you know from personal experience. We take care of our own. And Gaines has some time yet to remain here between assignments, so he should be able to provide reassurance to them."

"Your role as an assessor will be known within the House, so you do not have to hide yourself from our brothers and sisters. Of course, knowledge of your specific missions will be only shared with those within your chain of command. And, of course, for those outside of the House you are simply another young Tremere maga trying to make a name for herself."

"I will let you know to whom you are to report shortly before you leave. The Exarch of the Rhine is Stentorius in Fengheld, but your immediate superior will be Daria La Gris in Triamore. She is currently coordinating our information-gathering efforts in the Tribunal. If you have specific needs to continue your studies or have a project you need help with, she will assist you in obtaining the necessary resources if they are available."

"Your missions will concentrate on infiltrating and gathering knowledge from the various mundane factions in the Tribunal. As the sack of Constantinople has shown just a few years ago, mundane armies can have severe impact on covenant of the Order. Some suspect infernal influence, others that it was rogue magi who wanted to plunder the ressources of the city's covenants. The magi of Thebes, of course, blame us. Finding out what actually happened and getting better leverage on the nobility to prevent further attacks is a high priority. Specific missions will be assigned to you over time, but I cannot for now predict their exact nature."

"You are not directed to join a specific covenant at the moment. You will use the Tribunal's tradition of peregrinatores to visit various covenants. You may be eventually anchored to a specific place, but that is still undecided."

"As for the traditions of the Rhine regarding seniority... We may not approve of some of their customs, we can play the game as well as anyone. So you are encouraged to become a so-called 'master'." He chuckles, "I am sure that will not be onerous to you, for I know of your ambitions." Sobering up, he adds, "But do not let that stand above your duties to the House."

As Janus explain everything , Csilla listen carefully like a plan in motion it should go, questions become to rise .

"I suppose that Stendorius would be aware of my mission ?
Out of curiosity if Daria and Stendorius, try to overcome each other authority whom should i choose to prevail ? The logic chain of command would be Daria, but since sometimes not every thing goes as organized i prefer to ask.
Beside what could you tell me about those two, the way they work or see young member of the house, their need or understanding or what to do to please them.
Since i will probably work with them better to know their psychology, since no one can really hide information from you

Among those mundane factions, could you tell me which are the main one and the lesser ? Some are known to show them-self as the lesser role in order to control from the shadow ?
Which one have proved to be the most difficult to infiltrate so far and why.
I will do,my best to improve my german there, maybe i could use some books to learn more about the area lore of the Rhine or about the different society there.

When Janus speak his last sentence, Csilla rise up from all her stature : " From what i see, i owe you my life and i will try to repay you by putting always my house first before anything."

"Stentorius may not be aware of the details of each mission, but he will know of your duties. He is the Exarch of Germania, so has final authority within the Rhine Tribunal. Should he give you orders that go against what Daria has given you, inform him of the fact. He will decide if there is need to override your current orders."

"Stentorius has many duties and has to juggle them all. He is not only the Exrach of Germania, but also leader of Fengheld, which is rife with politics in a Tribunal just as rife with them. You will probably see little of him and should not seek him out unless extraordinary circumstances occur."

"Daria La Gris has proven effective as a coordinator in the gathering of information. She has been successful in strengthening Triamore and protecting it from too much interference with mundanes, while preserving it from those same mundanes' encroachment. Her position as the second in command at Triamore gives her good influence in the Tribunal, but without Stentorius' high visibility. She will be the one who will be able to inform you about the mundane factions that we are investigating. Or not, for she may decide that you are better not knowing."

"if i end up to having a 'sejour' in a covenant or else, does order of hermes in rhine ask from some present from the party who comes to their places or is it rather more a type of a letter to prevent them of your coming.

Last question, I guess i will be a small cog in the big wheel of the house, but did some other member of our family were put in motion to do the same type of mission?
If yes coud i have some contact with them to some point or better to work alone ?

More than this i'm ready.

Any last advise my dear pater ? "

"I understand your curiosity," he smiles to remove some of the sting of his comment, "but that is information that you do not need to know at this time. In the same way, others of our House will not be made generally aware of your specific missions. Daria will put you in contact with other members of the House should there be need for it for specific missions."

"Most covenants in the Rhine will expect a peregrinator to pay a small stipend of vis. Some may accept other forms of payment. Speak with Daria regarding this, she may be able to provide you with a small store of vis that can help you for the first few years."

"My advice is this: Listen more than you speak. Most magi have over-inflated egos and will speak endlessly about their goals, their projects and their interests. Pay attention and you will learn a great deal."

"Your word is my order, i will obey you with celerity and care "

Csilla get ready to any assignement Janus has given , waiting that he give her his agreement when she must begin .

The next day, she receives the visit from one of the many mundanes working in Coeris. The man presents himself as the tutor who will be teaching her Low German for the next months. He proves to be quite skillful with the language and Csilla's knowledge of this foreign language improves steadily.

(OOC: Csilla receives 15 xp in Low German for each of the next two seasons.)

With the last days of spring comes the time for Csilla to depart for the Rhine. A few weeks ago, her training became more intense as she was provided with her mundane identity. She is to be Gizella of Szeged, the widow of a fairly rich spice merchant. She is travelling to Paris to visit the grave of her deceased elder sister, as well as touring various religious sites and see the relics stored in this great city.

She is to travel with a small group of guards that will protect her on the road -- auxiliaries of the House. Along the way, she is encouraged to gather establish contacts and gather information about the nobility, although that is not the primary purpose of the trip. Her itinerary is to first travel up the Danube until she reaches Ulm, then down the Rhine until Cologne, fanilly cutting through the roads to Liege and then moving up the Meuse until she reach the covenant of Triamore. There, she is to present herself to Daria and receive further instructions.

(Just to keep track when are we ? as for speciallity for low german i did put Hidding accent)

During her trip, she present herslef as Gizella of Szeged, showing some relief that her old husband finally died,she was married at a rather young age to this kind but old man, since his death she stop to be cooped up from her family.
On the way she will try to present herself with convinience but as well to make contact by being highly spirited with some good word or expression, flirting with respect with noble while practicing her etiquette.

(Since I don't know exactly when your character will join the chapter house and the other players, I am leaving the exact date fuzzy on purpose. When things come closer to common play, I will let you know. For now, you can record the advancement as "Season 1", "Season 2", etc.)

(More later)

( Ok done and Done )

(More information was provided than what I wrote, of course, and it is somewhat at odds with what you propose. The stereotypical "young widow of an old merchant" wouldn't work in this case, since the young wife ends up being shuffled off to a convent while a male relative gets control of the merchant's business. So her "husband" was much closer to her own age -- less than 10 years older. The merchanting business originally came from her side of the family, too, so the business remains under her control.)

(Also, appearing too flirty wouldn't work well with a True Love virtue -- she has trouble acting flirty when she is madly in love with someone else. That is why the auxiliary that worked with her to get used to her persona suggested a more low-key attitude, because he didn't believe she had the skills yet to properly balance a flirty attitude without drawing too much attention or simply appearing phony. He demonstrated how that would cause her problems, rather graphically, by introducing her into a similar situation. The results were embarassing for her.)

(So what he proposed was a young widow still in shock over the death of her husband, who recently learned of the death of her sister as well, doing what amounts to a pilgrimage. He suggested that she concentrate her efforts on listening and not being seen too much -- paralleling what Janus has said for magi -- and using less flashy means of getting established. He suggested visiting a few convents and abbeys that are open to visitors. Her status as a wealthy woman should help her be accepted.)

( fair enough :slight_smile: )

At the planned-upon date, the "widow Gizella" departs from Hungary with her handmaiden Agnes and her six guards, who are headed by Gregory. The guards' leader is know to her, for he has been assigned to protect her near the end of her apprenticeship. Coincidentally (or is it?), Gregory is originally from the Germanies and knows the language there. Agnes and the other grogs are more recent additions to her retinue, mades necessary by her cover story and the rigors of such a long trip.

The small groups is also accompanied by several other servants and equipment. A pair of teamsters have the responsibility of driving the carriage for Gizella, as well as the supply wagon that carries her tent and the supplies. Finally, a cook and his son round out the troupe. The guards are mounted on sturdy horses.

Travel is moderately slow, travelling along the Danube for several weeks, covering 20 to 30 miles per day on average. Whenever they can, accomodations are booked for mistress Gizella at inn or at a hospice, sometimes at a nunnery. When that proves impossible, her guard put up the small but comfortable round tent. Thankfully, the summer is proving to be relatively dry so far.

Along the way, they hear rumours of brigands preying upon travellers to the north in Bohemia. Some say these are just regular brigands, but a few whispers mention that there might be Teutonic knights amongst them. Other rumours abound about the ongoing conflict between Duke Phillip of Swabia, the son of the previous Emperor Frederic of the Staufen dynasty, and Duke Otto of Saxony, son of Henry the Lion of the House of Welf. Both are claiming the title King of the Romans and Germany. Some say that the pope's support of Phillip dooms Otto's chances of winning the conflict, particularly after beeing defeated and wounded at Wassenberg the previous year.

In any case, the conflict must have made the roads less safe to travel, feels Csilla/Gizella as she gaze upon the bodies beside the road, a few hours west of a town called Bogen, near the great Bavarian Forest to the north. These must have been a family of craftsmen moving from one building site to another, from the tools scattered around their small cart. Three men, two young ones and one older, with a woman and a much younger girl.

"With your permission, mistress," Gregory says in a somber tone, "we should bury them, at least."

(Guard and Grogs are from Coéris ? )
She looks at Georges: I agree but first i need to look into it and i i need some quiet and some space. I will search clues and leads out of it.
While i do that. We need to be careful and look around if it isnt a trap. Etablish a perimeter , more over put the camp about 100meter from here i let you decide where. Don't let anyone disturb me i will need a bit of time.
Once I am sure of what is going on. We will religiously bury and pray for their soul as good chretian as we are.

(Not necessarily from Coeris itself, but they worked there at the time you departed. Doesn't make a difference within House Tremere. But Csilla didn't know them before they were assigned to her. Note that I use "grogs" for the fighting men, so guards is the same thing. I use "covenfolk" for servants and other support staff that do not fight for a living.)

"If we want to give them a good Christian burial, mam," Gregory says, nodding, "then perhaps it would be better to bring them back to that town we stayed at last night or bring them to the next village? That way, the priest could bless them and do the rites right."

Good Idead but first like i said give me some space i need to look into whats happend, etablish a perimeter and tomorrow we will bring them to have a proper burial.

Once the grogs are taken by Gregory to build away a campment.

Czilla begin to look slowly for lead and information from the scene of corpse.

Then she looks around then when no one sees her she decide to cast the spell formulaic (Whisper through the black gate )

The corpses are a bit scattered around what looks like an encampment near a stream. The same stream where you group was going to water and rest their horses. From the looks -- and smell -- of the corpses, they were killed a little more than a day ago. The ground shows marks of what must have been a hand cart of some sort. Most of their belongings seem to have been taken by whoever killed them; there were only a few tools lying on the ground.

The small clearing is isolated enough from the main road that the bodies weren't noticed before your passage, so it seems a safe place to cast a spell, particularly with four of the grogs guarding a perimeter. Two of them stayed near their mounts, with Gregory looking at Csilla from over there while the other one is leading each horse in turn to the stream to drink. The teamsters are busy untying the draft horses from the carts so that they can be lead to the river as well.

First she counts 4 body, are they all adult, is there children among them. Does they carry something peculiar on their clothes, something knowledgeable.
What kind of tools are those scattered all around the floor.

Second she begin to look the position of the bodies, and their wound.

Finally when she seem to be safe, she looks at Gregory one last time then begin to incant her spell calling the eldest appearing corpse spirit. And so asked him some question.

If he appears she will salute him and ask him what or who killed him.

(you do the casting right ? )