Chapter 2: Sousse, at the House of ben David

You spend a pleasant dinner in light conversation. Ben David is a gracious host, solicitous of your needs, and his servents are both efficient and unobtrusive. Although the flavours of the food are unfamiliar, it is a satisfying dinner, and you find yourselves clean, warm, and sated, for perhaps the first time in many weeks.

As dinner draws to a close, ben David draws himself upright in his chair, his face assuming an air of gravity. [color=red] Now, my new friends, he says, it is time we speak of matters of consequence. My friend of the red cap tells me you have need of my help in mounting an expedition to the west. You should know that this is not a land friendly to strangers, particularly those of . . . he glances at Sinmore, Elarion and Octavius . . . [color=red]difference.

If you venture beyond the coast, you will need supplies, beasts of burden, porters and guards. All these I can provide. But you will need more. You will need courage and wisdom, and these I cannot provide to you.

I am told by Guillermo that you will be following the traces of an earlier group, and that you have a map. Perhaps I might offer some insight into your destination?

Claudius, sadly, doesn't feel he has much positive to offer this discussion. He's no Tremere, so he has no concept of how many camels, tents, waterskins, or whatever else is necessary, but he knows this discussion is probably too important to facetiously or flippantly sabotage.

So, instead, Claudius will take the time to examine everything else in the room. He'll, through listening, gauge Isaac ben David's general level of honesty and guilelessness (Folk Ken), see if there's anything obviously abnormal about any of the servants or the room (Second Sight), and otherwise keep his eyes out for anything amiss (Awareness).

If, after all that, he's still bored but sees a relatively attractive woman who he could harmlessly spend the evening with (Intrigue), he'll subtly and silently (don't forget the Deft Mentem!) and without fatigue cast repeated spontaneous CrMe on her until he thinks he'll see her later that night.

Claudius begins his examinations, and waits to see what comes up...

Sekhmet speaks softly, [color=red]"Camels definately." She studies the jewish man, [color=red]"I think we will have no problem with courage and the wisdom of the gods will be on our side." She considers, [color=red]"still you could tell us more of what to expect and what stories there are of the areas where we are going. There must be legends and tales tales that would be benefit us."

Akoe will nurse his drink and think What in the world am I doing here? For the first time, this is real to him. I may have to live or die with these people Akoe will glance around the room.

At the mention of the map, he'll take note of who produces it. Most likely Octavius or Valerius. Those two had spent the most time studying the map. Whichever produces it will be the one most likely to know the way out of their destination.

At Sekhemet's mention of camels he'll purse his lips. Something for future consideration.

When ben David begins speaking of their destination, Akoe will ask about how long it might take to reach it. He'll then settle back out of the candlelight and close his eyes. He'll try to call up the feeling he sometimes gets when things are about to go from bad to worse

Trying Premenitions. He'll use ben David's travel estimate to get a sense of how much danger they may be on the trip to their destination (about a week from reaching it) and the danger they may be in on arrival.

Sinmore sits comfortably on the floor, enjoying being on solid ground again.

"Well I'm not worried about the heat and such, this warm weather suits me just fine! I'm not sure how well I can ride though whether its camels or horses. Before I took my name the Grogs at our covenant called me 'Lady Walker'."

When the topic of the sundry details of gear and supplies she looks bored and doesn't have much to add.

Valerius is the one who holds the maps, books are his friends. [color=red]I wonder about there curious phenomena marked on the map, is it something we should worry about? Valerius points at the maps where he thought that there where some curious markings.

[color=red]Now please tell us who are the local population toward those of us who are gifted. Are they more or less tolerant then we are used to? Is there some magical phenomena that we should be aware of? I am most interested in magical creatures of all sorts? Is there anything spectacular that you have seen and or heard about. Transformed humans are also very interesting. I once read the Ochre tome by Gustavus Ex Bonisagus he wrote an most interesting piece about transformed humans. Humans who become creatures of magic. Very fascinating… Oh I forget my self, that is not interesting to all. Err… Anyway you should read it. Valerius blushes slightly.

Octavius enjoys the food and drink, savoring the exotic flavors and textures that will become the norm to him in this land. As Valerius unfolds the map, he bends over it once more, studying all the markings that he knows so well from the long trip here. He listens to Valerius' questions, genuinely interested when he mentions the Ochre tome and the contents thereof, and then adds a few comments of his own.

"Unfortunately, we do not know our ultimate destination. Perhaps one of these ruin marks are what we seek," he will point out the eight sketches of ruins on the map, "but no one knows. We will probably have to search them all." He frowns slightly, thinking of the logistics to do that. "Perhaps setting up a temporary base camp about in the middle of the ruins, here, and make forays from there? You know the area best, Sir, your advice would be appreciated."

As the conversation continues, Claudius grows restless. As far as he can tell, ben David is sincere, and there is certainly nothing obviously supernatural in the room. His eye is caught by one of the serving girls, a dark-haired lass with a pleasant shape. He quiely begins to "nudge" her with ideas . . .

In response to Valerius, ben David smiles. [color=red]The Gift? As with most people, I think you will find it an encumberance. And, as with most, reponses vary. It is certainly the case that some you encounter will view you with fear, and even loathing. Those of the desert are simple folk, and though familiar with magic, they are used to seeing it as a threat. There are many dangers in this land - spirits, demons, sorcerers and djinn. Ben David pauses. [color=red]Caution and restraint I think would be wise, though this is true for all when dealing with those who travel the sand.

As for Magic well, here he smiles,[color=red] this is an ancient country. Many civilizations have come and gone, and each had its own traditions, its own powers. Phoenicia, Carthage, Rome, each held power in turn. In my own lifetime, I have seen three powers rise. Even now, the Almohad stir in the desert, and times are turbulent again.

As the map is produced, ben David's eye light with interest. [color=red]Ah, he grunts appreciatively, [color=red]your guide on this journey. The old man's finger traces lines on the map.

[color=red]Here, he notes, [color=red]are we at Sousse. His finger moves north, up the coast, marking villages along the way. Here, he says, [color=red]lies Takrouna. It is an ancient place, a village high atop a pinnacle of rock. They are a strange people there, but not unfriendly. Farther on lies Jeradu, on the hill, a place the Romans dwelled, then Zriba, where the people live set into the cliff. Moving inland, he notes two other places. [color=red]Hammam Zriba, the place of hot water, and Zaghouan of the Pool. Both of these have seen many kinds of men.

From the inland settlements, he moves to two of the ruins marked on the map. [color=red]These places I do not know, he says. [color=red]There are none who live there that I have heard, but they lie no more than a few days travel from the homes of men. From there you could explore these other marked places.

Turning to Sekhemet, he smiles. [color=red]And camels we have, in plenty . . . all your needs will be met. You are my guests until you depart. When do you plan to begin?

[color=blue]I will cook up a map over the next couple of days, and post it when I update the wiki.

Claudius is, albeit generally and vaguely, interested in the people of the towns described in Isaac ben David's speech. In between further efforts on the serving girl, he will ask about their friendliness to outsiders, what food and drink they like, more to gauge whether or not he will have to restrain his fun-seeking nature than whether or not he needs to jump in with magic.

Akoe closes his eyes briefly. Now he snaps them open, reaches for his drink, and finishes it as quickly as he can. He mutters compliments to ben David on his choice of drink and holds his empty cup towards a servant, mumbling a polite request for my drink.

He'll glance at Sinmore. [color=indigo]"Lady, you need not walk. Pick two strong horses or camels. We can arrange it so they may serve you."

He'll study the map. [color=indigo]"Friend ben David. This" He moves his finger in a circle, indicating an area south of Zriba. [color=indigo]"This is desert, correct? And the pools you mentioned, are they the only sources of water in the area? And what of raiders? Are these areas known for banditry?"

[color=red]"The watering holes and oasis are important to pay attention to and they usually are places of truce." Sekhet met says softly. [color=red]"Camels are good because they can go long distances without water. They are stubborn beasts, almost as much as some wizards but worthwhile. There are ways to get water from the plants and the air if you know how but it is hard." Sekhmet appearantly knows the desert and how to survive in the desert. She hasn't forgotten that the animals don't really like her any more than mundanes do but others of the group can control the beast. It is only right for a Goddess to inspire fear and awe in mortals.

Sinmore smiles at Akoe after she drains her latest goblet of wine and allows a servant fill it.

"Well if the brutes lift me without protest I'll allow it."

"Now then what did you say about these dangers?" Sinmore's eyes light up. "Djinn? The Founder of our House fought these creatures! They live in this desert?" Sinmore rubs her hands together and has an eager smile. "I could bring honor and fortune on my name...and for our Covenant of course...if we were to slay one of these! Sorcerors too? We could always 'invite' them into our great society." her smile doesn't become welcoming at the prospect of inviting hedge wizards into the Order.

Octavius nods to himself as he listens to ben David speak of the land and it's dangers.

"Unless one of us has a pertinent reason for staying here longer, I don't see why we should not be under way as soon as possible." He glances around the room at his sodales to see if any object to this, then back at thier host. "I don't see any problem with your suggested travel plan. How many days will your supplies give us, and where would you suggest restocking should we run low?"

[color=indigo]"Hold friend Octavius. Akoe will study the map a moment longer and then look up. [color=indigo]"We may have a concern.

You know I'm of Bjornaer. And my soul is that of a...rat. You may have heard that rats are skilled at sniffing out trouble ahead of time. Sinking ships and all that. Well, I sometimes get forebodings. While our friend ben David was speaking, I tried to bring one on, just to see what would happen. Damn me. It worked." Akoe will finish his drink and set his cup on the table.

[color=indigo]"I saw a town on a hilltop. And I saw a settlement built into the side of a cliff, just as was described. But then things changed. I was taken out into the desert, to a solitary grove of trees. There was an encampment there. Black tents. And one tent embroidered with gold. I went into that tent.

Oddly enough, I saw the Captain of the pirate ship. What's more, he saw me.

I think I told you that when Sinmore and I were on the deck of the ship, the Captain could see us, despite the Veil we were hidden behind. I thought it odd, but some people can see spirits. So be it.

But when I saw the Captain, something happened. There was a pain and then I was back here. The vision ended.

Akoe stares out into space. [color=indigo]"I want to know everything about this Captain. I would like to see if we could make...inquiries about him.

This will be the third time he has crossed our path. First when he abducted Sekhemet. Second, when he just happened to try to raid our boat after Sekhemet's. And now. I certainly could be wrong, but I don't think this man is just a pirate. And I don't think he's a friend."

Akoe shrugs. [color=indigo]"I think sodales, that when we leave Sousse, we should go in expectation of having to wage a war."

Claudius turns to the assembled group.

Claudius will listen to the response, comparing it against his knowledge of powers both magical and infernal.

Akoe will nod, sit back in his chair and close his eyes. He'll begin to describe as he remembers.

[i]OOC-FMB said it was okay to post the original vision. Here it is folks.

Akoe's mind drifts, following ben David's finger. As the old man's gnarled digit moves up the map, Akoe feels himself drawn down, until his world is filled with a vision of sand. He seems to fly across it, swooping up over a spire of rock, set with small, white huts, then down over a sprawling town set atop a hill, and then across a sheer cliff, with houses set into the cliffside. With a sudden lurch, he turns, and is drawn out over the desert. As he flies over the sand, Akoe catches sight of a cluster of trees and tents of black silk. He draws closer, seeing one stiched in gold thread, and inside, a familiar face. The last time he saw it, the face was snarling, and whirling a curved sword . . .

Suddenly, the eyes in the face widen. Akoe has been seen! He feels a sharp pain, as if he had been struck, and finds himself thrown back into his own body, as ben David finishes his discussion.

After listening closely to what Akoe has seen in his vision, Octavius will rub his scruffy and uneven beard in somber thought. Breaking the ensuing silence, he clears his throat roughly. "Though a little disturbing, I don't see how this changes our purpose for coming here. This might even help us."

He turns to ben David as he continues, "it seems that we will also need more knowledge that only a local person of the desert might posess. Would you happen to know anyone with knowledge of the desert people?"

Becoming less grim as he works with this new development, he quickly turns back to Akoe, "was there a symbol or a dicernible design on the leader's tent? Perhaps you could try to draw what you saw, so we might identify this man easier. Do you remember where ben David was pointing when the vision started?"


[color=blue]Warjoski, give me Per + Awareness for Akoe to accurately recall the markings.

Ben David listens gravely as Akoe tells his tale, but gives an encouraging nod at Octavius' request. [color=red]A guide I already had in mind. A man my House has used before in the guiding of caravans to the south. Tomorrow, we will go to the souk, and you shall meet him. He then turns to see if Akor can recall the spot on the map that triggered his vision.

[color=red]Before we go in to the wild I wish to try to locate a few spirits of the land. Though my and their powers are weak they can be incredible useful to us. Just how safe are the area outside the city walls? I need to get free from the dominion aura that spoils the magic. Is there some aura of magical energy just outside the town? The chances of finding a useful spirit is so much larger there. Valerius seems keen on finding and trapping a spirit.

Sinmore's attention is caught by Akoe's vision.

"Well, he's a sorceror then. I know very little about the sorcerors of these parts, but perhaps Sekhmet does? My Parens hosted wizards returning from the Levant, they called them the Order of...I can't pronounce this right...the Order of Soolaymon? They were Arab wizards and mystics and could summon spirits and winds. Could they be here? Is the captain one?"

"He attacked a Sodales if he is...he tried to attack us." Sinmore's face grows serious. "I welcome such an oppurtunity, but do not take it lightly. If we approach with an invitation to our Order, which protocol suggests we do, then we must also be prepared for the alternative. I know we Flambeau have a reputation for our infamous 'Invitation to the Order' but it is something we actually take seriously, and such an offer is quite sincere. My Parens' Parens actually is known by members of House Ex Miscellenea, and is thought of fondly by them for swelling their ranks. It is a way that we can gain renown and prestige, plus making friends with the nearby magic makers." Sinmore's sharklike smile returns.

"And if he refuses...there is still renown to be treasure."