Chapter 1: Meetings and Partings

Apple hums pleasantly until (assuming he's going the same route the others will be) he gets to the icy path. If the others are not there, he'll judge how much of a problem the path is and act accordingly.

If possible, he'll ascend the path, using his boots and dagger to break up any ice so the others won't have trouble.

If that's not possible, Apple will make a few gestures and use Rego and Corpus to lift himself up to the top of the path (Rise of the Feathery Body)

If all else fails, he'll ascend by using his "little jumps" tick (Hop, Skip, and a Jump spell)

If non of that works, Apple will mutter, "Well damn it all" and stare at the cliff, pondering his next move. If he gets to the top, he'll proceed to the Hot Springs.

Francisca pulls her coat closer over her face as a frigid blast bites at her nose. "That Tytalus fellow is trying to tell us something, dear," she says, muffled by layers of wool. "I think it's 'I don't want you here'. Funny, that, since he invited most of us. I don't know why he's wasting my time with meetings. I just want to see my son and go home."

Upon Korvin's insistance, Jonathan heads out. He is protected against the cold, but visibility may pose a problem. His intention was to Wizard's Leap 50 paces at a time, bu if he cannot see 50 paces then his progress will be slowed.

If he bumps into anyone, he has little to say.

Chapter 1: Meetings and Partings
In which many unexpected things happen, and the covenant of the White Lady changes forever

The magi, shooed out by Korvin, tread drearily together along the ice-shod path, in search of a hot spring and some answers.

Lit by the full moon, the magi press onward toward the hotspring. Through the thick snow, a dim light in the distance begins to resolve itself, near where the approach to the hot spring should be. The moon is full overhead, and the snow almost seems to slacken a bit as you approach the cave mouth.

The springs are partially underground, trickling out of the back of a cave that is worn smooth by time, and perhaps a little magic. They are lit from within. Usually, anyone can enter, but this time they appear to have a guardian – Pryor.

He is naked. His pale skin is goosebumped, every inch of him white as the snow but more pallid. He holds up the lantern, illuminating his ghoulish face and thin, surprisingly muscular body. The snow blows around his short form, and he does not appear to notice, defying the cold with his indifference.

"You are late, and there are rituals to attend to. Disrobe, leave your clothing here, and enter the spring. Let the meeting begin."

Winds looks sourly at Pryor and mumbles to herself as she starts taking off her robe. "You have got to be jesting. Of all the harebrained ideas that some magi invent just to annoy others..." She tosses her robe to the side and starts working on her shoes and undergarments with little thought to modesty. Winds is accostomed to walking around naked in front of others, she does it all the time in her hearbeast form. Luckily for her, she already has a warming spell upon her, and doesn't embarrass herself by shivering in the falling snow.

Her long, unbound black hair blows in the wind as a particularly potent gust comes off the mountain, tossing the snow about and temporarily obscuring everything from view. When it clears, Winds strides purposefully into the water, passing Pryor as she moves into the cavern beyond.


Jonathan refuses to disrobe unless there is some explanation. If it is a hot tub party with these ladies, that's one thing. But this seems a little too weird.

Assuming Apple arrives first

Apple walks up to the cave mouth and looks about it, still whistling a tune. He listens to Pryor's directive and comments, "You sound like you've been waiting all day to say that to someone." Apple will pull out the lock of hair he took from Hertgar. He'll wave his hand and ignite a small fire in his palm to burn the hair up. "I guess I won't be needing that, hmm."

Apple will disrobe and then cause a soft glow to emit from his hand, in order to light his way. He'll proceed into the cave without giving Pryor a second look.

"How rude!" Francisca thumps her stick on the frozen ground in agitation. "Some of us need these coats! And didn't your mother tell you not to go about naked in public? For shame!" She harumphs, pulls her coats tighter around herself, and starts making her way back. "At least sitting with that Redcap won't make me die of consumption."

"Yeah, seriously. We just ate dinner. This is not aiding in my digestion in the least."

Jonathan offers to escort Francisca wherever she is headed.

Nonna Francisca smiles at the offer. "Thank you dear, that would be lovely! I'm just going down the hill again, to find that poor Redcap, and maybe... oh, what's his name, the one who can't talk? Poor dear boy, having speech problems like that."

OOC: Good stuff. Apple and Winds proceed into the cave, while Jonathan and Nonna (presumably) turn back. If Ilmari arrives late, he meets Pryor, who makes exactly the same request of him.

As the magi enter the cave, they see Jacopo and Cato, both naked. They are soaking in the pool, facing across from one another, the water partially protecting their modesty. It is warm and sheltered enough in here that you are in no danger from the cold, though it's certainly uncomfortable outside the water. Cato smiles wanly, his eyes hooded and inscrutable.

"Hello, sodales. Please, join us. Our time is short, and you are surely confused. All council meetings are important events, but this one is particularly auspicious."

"I will not keep you entirely in the dark. If you have questions, be quick, and I will answer them as I can."

Jacopo is silent, simply looking on.

Apple eases himself into the water, finally fully immersing himself with a satisfied sigh. He dunks his head under a moment and reemerges, vigoursly rubbing his scalp for a moment. "I can see why you hold your meetings here," he murmurs. He sits back a moment, smiling. Then he frowns.

He looks over at Cato. "Entirely in the dark huh?" He glances at Jacopo and Cato, trying to read their tension level. He smiles, the bigger the grin for the more tense they are. "Alright. We'll start with the obvious."

"Why is this council meeting so auspicious?"

"You commented that there were those who did not approve of us, or me, or some combination thereof. Who is it that does not approve and who did do the approving?"

Apple looks at Cato. "If I were to ask him," and nods at Jacopo, "why he invited all of us here and he was going to answer me...truthfuly...what would he say?"

"Last one. The old lady...Noona? I think is her name. She said something about a grandson or son or something. Jacopo hinted he was dead. Is he? What happened to him?"

Apple dunks his head one last time and resurfaces, wiping the water out off his face so he has a clear look at Cato. "This should be good."

Winds walks slowly into the interior chamber. The light spell she is using reflects off of the steam coming up from the water, partially obscuring everyone from each other and adding just another surreal quality to the proceedings. She sinks lower into the water, closing her eyes and relishing the warmth as it seeps into her body, feeling truely warm for the first time in days. It almost makes her forgive whoever brought this meeting together, with it's silly rules and timing. Almost.

Winds opens her eyes again as Cato starts to speak,and she looks around the cavern, seemingly studying the rock walls and ceiling. As Apple begins his questions, and asks about the auspiciousness of this meeting, she mumbles under her breath "And why do we need to be naked for it?"

She allows Apple to finish his questions, and adds one of her own. "Where is Andrei? I thought he was to be a witness tonight."

Jacopo is inscrutable, but perhaps a little nervous - he hides it so well only Apple can tell. Cato is visibly agitated, though whether from rage or fear or nervousness you cannot say. He deliberately avoids looking at Jacopo.

Cato closes his eyes, leaning back against the edge of the pool. "Andrei will join us shortly, Mistress Winds. He is not a council member; his purpose is for what comes after."

"The nudity and the hotspring are traditions. We met here when the White Lady was young and fair and innocent, naked to show that we were equals in this water. It serves other purposes as well. You will have to meet in the same spirit, for Jacopo and I are preparing to leave all of you, and let you inherit our legacy and our mistakes.

Cato sighs, and you can see that hint of madness and pain and rage. "It pains me to agree with him even on this," he says, gritting his teeth. "But we both think you are too weak, or too set in your ways to preserve it. I must admit, I am a little nostalgic - magi come and go, but the Lady remains."

"As for Nonna's son..."

As Cato talks, Jacopo has silently gotten out of the water, and walking deliberately to the mouth of the cave. He looks out into the storm, shivering a little.

Finally, Jacopo speaks, his back still turned to you. His voice is flat, emotionless. "Nonna Francisca's son? He is dead. By my hand."

He turns around, still naked, and in his hand he holds a silver knife. It is simply made, but exquisitely crafted. There is something emblazoned on the hilt, partially covered by Jacopo's fingers. He smiles, and there is something cruel in his face. He sneers slightly, the dim light of the cave glinting on his white teeth and the knife both.

Apple will nod. "Hmm. Isn't there a third one here? A maga? What happened to her?"

With a sigh, Apple shakes his head and leans back against the pool edge, watching both Jacopo and Cato. "Is that knife how you're leaving us or how we are meant to be leaving you?"

Winds glances sideways to Apple, trying to emulate his calm exterior in the face of such madness. Looking back to Jacopo, she shakes her head slowly, asking, "Buy why? Why kill Nonna's son?"

((Everyone who wants to be in this thread, let's assume that if you're willing to disrobe you enter the hot spring in time to overhear any or all of what follows and respond to it.

If you want to play out any conflict or meeting with Pryor, we can do that instead. If not, you can get by him unhindered if you're willing to disrobe))

"I am not cruel, Mistress Winds. Nonna's son was an unfortunate casualty of war. Cato is at least as guilty as I am."

Cato gets out of the water as well, his lips pressed into a thin line as steam rises off his body as though anger itself, not just the water, brought heat his skin. He closes his eyes for a moment, and a simple set of clothing materializes around his body

Jacopo smiles, his eyes hooded as he holds the knife. "Is it time, Cato? Will it finally be over?"

Apple doesn't look at Winds but leans close to her, lightly pushing a handful of water in the direction of Cato and Jacopo. He mutters under his breath "Good with Aquam or Auram? Get ready please," and gets out of the water. He addresses Cato's back, watching for signs that the tension between the two old men is about to explode.

"Maybe it is time, but it's been going on long enough, it can go on a moment or so longer.

"What is "IT" exactly? Why is it ending now? How long have you two been fighting and whose interests does the fighting serve?

Apple scratches his chin. "I love a good riddle, but this is obviously more. Gentlemen, what is going on?"

The trail wound its way to the hotsprings without incident, and at Pryor's challenge, Ilmari gave another snort, and without a word tossed his cloak and axe aside, followed by belt, tunic, and only then boots, trousers and trews. He stepped into the mist and words of the spring proper with some confusion (if little actuall surprise) at the scene unfolding before him, Jacopo immediately before him, blocking the way but with his back to the entrance, a knife in his hand, Cato dressed and standing nearby, and all attention on the two.

For a brief and shining moment the urge to simply lean in and punch Shakopo in the back of the jaw as hard as he can washes over Ilmari, but he refrains, at least until he understands more of what is going on...