Chapter 2: The Palace Beneath the Waves

"Sodalis Viola,

It will be good to see you once more. I have made arrangements with the Mercere for transportation to Aegea - shall we meet at Alexandria?


Viola is aware that Alexandria is the Mercere House in the tribunal. The Redcap who delivered the letter, a young man named Niko, is still at the covenant when Viola reads the letter.

Who are you taking with you, and how are you travelling?

She could bring the cats (this is taking place, I think, earlier than the other story), but doubts they'd appreciate the swim, and so will travel with one shield grog. She'll ask Niko's advice on the best way to travel--travel through Arcadia is always an option, but difficult and risky when she's not familiar with the destination.


Viola is slightly familiar with Niko - he is one of the more common Redcaps to visit the covenant, and always seems to have an air of barely surpressed enthusiasm around him, although it's tempered slightly when dealing with the Gifted magi. He listens to Viola's question carefully, before responding:

"Alexandria is in Anatolia, near the port of Smyrna. I usually travel by taking a ship to Constaniple, and then taking another Smyrna - you could do that. Alternatively, we could hire out a pair of cloaks with a variant of Cloak of Black Feathers to you - they turn you into a goose - but that would have to be brought by the next Redcap to visit, and would warp you. We'd need a deposit of eight pawns of vis, and then the charge would be a pawn of vis forma per month.

You should be careful when arriving at Alexandria, though. The mundane buildings have been taken over by the forces by the Nicean Emperor's forces, and the Mercere House has had to retreat to the regio, and sneak in." He glances at Viola's hair. "If you don't have any magic to help you, it may be better to meet your friend at Smyrna."

Viola laughs. "Imaginem...this I do. Yes? By ship."


[I'll try covering the travelling to Alexandria by a roll. Roll a Pres + stress die, with two botch dice per ship or inn stayed at (would be 1 if you were Gently Gifted, 3 if blatently). Apply interaction modifiers as normal.]

Are you taking any vis or items with you? And which shield grog?

How many inns or ships will it be?

She'll take all of her own vis, which should be enough. The exact shield grog doesn't matter for now--I'll try to come up with a name if you want (she had the same ones for 20 years, and hasn't developed any relationships with any at this covenant).


Probably two ships, and one inn in Constantinople, unless Viola has contradictory plans.

If you pick an already statted grog, it'll make life simpler if it comes to combat.

Pre +3 + 8 = 11
Pre +3 + 7 = 10
Pre +3 + 5 = 8

Ideally, Viola would prefer to take Bogdan and Godzimir, since they served well the lats time, and she makes sure that both of them know that, but neither speaks Greek, and so she'll take Theodoric along.


[Don't forget the -3 for the Gift]

The journey goes smoothly, on the whole. From Nova Castra, it is simple to take the ship Niko, and indeed Viola, arrived on - the Lemma. The weather is fair, and the Captain, whilst clearly wary, treats Viola with a certain level of respect (or at the least, nervousness). In Constantinople, Niko takes you to an inn often frequented by Redcaps, the Silver Branch, where he arranges a sideroom in which a large meal is served. The price is extortionate, of course, but no worse than you're used to, and better than upon some occasions. From Constantinople Niko arranges passage on "the Anemone", which brings you into the harbour at Smyrna late on afternoon. After disembarking, Niko points towards a semi-ruined fortress sitting on top of a small mountain to the south of the city.

"There, maga. Alexandria."

Viola turns to her familiar and nods: "Constantine, butterfly." Shortly thereafter, she's transformed into a purple emperor butterfly (the Wings of Gossamer enchantment in the familiar bond), more drab that Constantine (he is a male, after all), but with a slight purplish sheen as a result of her sigil. Both butterflies perch on Niko's shoulder, waiting for him to lead them to the regio entrance.


Niko looks at Theodoric:

"We will need to sneak into the main courtyard of the castle, to the statue of Alexander that stands there. Do you have any great facility with stealth?"

Theodoric looks dubious. "I have some small skill in hunting, but little experience in sneaking into castles."

"We may need to leave you outside the castle, then - unless you can assist us, maga? My house is outside the castle, so your custos can stay there if that is satisfactory to you. I have a cloak that should get me in. Alternatively, we can try to sneak in when it is dark. It is possible, and has been done before, but there is always a risk of detection."

He tries to look at the butterfly on his shoulder, waiting a few minutes to see if Viola is able to reply in that form.

Constantine speaks up: "What would be needed to help you sneak him in?"


Niko shrugs slightly, then realises the effect this has on the butterflies sitting on his shoulder.

"You said you were imaginem focussed - could you make him invisible, or change his appearence and voice to that of a specific soldier? There'll be a few in the local taverns by now, for you to model on. Failing that, something to make him quieter?"

Viola nods at the suggestion of transformation Theodoric's appearance to that of a soldier. She suggests, somewhat laboriously, that they get close enough for her to get a good enough look, cast the spont in question, and then transform back into a butterfly.


[How's Viola communicating this? Butterfly language to Constantine, who passes it on?]

You arrive at a small alehouse on the south side of Smyrna just as twilight begins to draw down. A sign outside bears the image of a gaudily painted cockeral.

[Has Viola transformed back, or is she staying in butterfly form?]

She transformed back...and I forgot to note that. Sorry about that. So yes, she's in human form now (the transformation power works 6 times a day, and so it was relatively costless to become human again).


[Okay, so she's going into the alehouse in human form with Niko and Theodoric? Let me know if there's anything you're doing first.]

I don't think we need to go into the alehouse before casting the spell--we merely have to observe a soldier so she has a form to disguise Theodoric with. We'll wait, as concealed as possible, until someone leaves the alehouse, and use his form. Indeed, this would be the ideal person to use, since he'll be someone that the others can't verify the present location of.


[Stealth roll: Dex 0 + Stealth 0 + bonus 3 + die 9 = 12]

Viola finds an alley way in deep shadow from which she can see the entrance to the alehouse, and lurks within it. Niko does something you can't quite catch to his cloak pin, and vanishes suddenly to both Viola and Constantine's normal and second sight.

Over the next couple of hours, she sees a couple more of what are obviously the local soldiers enter the alehouse, one of them carrying a bundle under his arm which Constantine notices squirming.

It's an hour or so to midnight. None of the soldiers have come out of the alehouse yet.

In that case, she'll use one of the soldiers who entered--it's not like they have to go into the alehouse themselves, since the entrance is in the courtyard.