Chapter 4: Death Comes to Stay

The wagon bearing the maga and her baggage continued onward through the light early autumn drizzle. Morticia pulled her blanket closer around her and continued trying to doze, curled up against the trunk at the back of the wagon. Her bodyguard walked along behind, one hand near her sword as her eyes constantly scanned in every direction. The other man-at-arms, the cook, and his wife sat on the seat, the cook holding the reins.

"Maga," the bodyguard Lizette said to her charge, "it is growing dark. We should stop soon."

Morticia sat up and yawned deeply, then looked around. "Where are we?" she asked.

"According to the farmer we passed a few minutes ago, we're almost to a town called Boppard," Cristofano, the man at the reins, says. "I think," he adds almost under his breath.

Morticia pulled a watertight tube from her robes, opened it, cast a quick, spontaneous spell to protect its contents against the drizzle, then pulled out a piece of vellum and unrolled it. Squinting to read it in the gloom, she muttered imperceptibly, then cried out "Ah ha!" with a grin. Rolling up the map and placing it back in its case, she turned to the front of the wagon.

"We continue on. Our destination is just a few miles past Boppard, past the next bend in the river on the left. We should be there in less than an hour. And I don't want to have to try to spend another night in the open, or have to stop and be robbed by another innkeeper when we're so close."

[hr][/hr]
A little over an hour later, well after sundown on a nearly moonless, drizzly night, the guards manning the northwest tower see an odd sight: a figure wielding a guttering torch walks before a carriage, waving it to and fro. There are two figures on the front of the cart, and another walking behind. The torch-wielding figure looks up at the tower and calls out, "Mi scusi, è questo il patto di Laurus Argenti?" in a male voice.

((Just for the sake of realism here, but Boppard is about 4 miles from the covenant as the bird flies, and maybe twice that by roads that a wagon can follow. And since a wagon would travel at about 2 miles per hour, you'd be 3-4 hours away from the covenant. So this would either be a unnamed village (perhaps where Waldesch is located today) or the timing needs to be adjusted slightly. Doesn't change anything to the narrative.))

((We can also assume that Morticia got some detailed directions to get to the covenant, probably from redcaps since it was too late for Petronius to send her such information. He really expected her to arrive at a much later date and since her letter arrived while he was absent, so he never included it in his previous letters. We could even say that a redcap travelled with her party for some of the distance, serving as a guide.))

((Could you also change the name of the topic to use "Chapter" in full? Just to be consistent with the other threads. And it should probably have been numbered to 4 instead of 5... :wink: ))

By the time they get there, the mundanes are feeling quite nervous -- for the last hour or so, they've reported hearing slight buzzing sounds and whispering, as well as seeing movements just out of the corner of their eyes. Of course, Morticia feels nothing of this, protected as she is by her Parma Magica. But the mundanes are anxious for the safety of wall, sweating under their wet garnments.

After a short moment, an answer comes from a window in the tower. "Qui va là? Restez où vous êtes!" The voice is a little slurred, as if the owner had been drinking. And after a few more heartbeats, voices can be heard inside the walls, likely a call for someone in charge. Some more waiting and more calls from inside the walls, then an arm appears from the window, gesturing along to wall to the southwest and pointing. "Allez à la porte! Là-bas!"

((That would be the parchment she consulted...directions or a map from the Redcaps. I just didn't want to come right out and say "She consulted her Redcap map."))

((Done...I don't know why I was thinking there was already a Chapter 4 somewhere.))

Morticia climbs down from the back of the wagon and stretches, then walks along just behind Lizetta (who is keeping a hand on the hilt of her sword as she continues to look for the source of the noise and hoping to get a good look at who she thinks has been following them. As tall as the maga is, her shield grog stands better than half a head taller, and is easily mistaken for a man in the darkness. "I can't believe they have a drunk in charge of the gate," Lizetta mutters under her breath in Italian.

As the wagon approaches the gate, Morticia and Lizetta move in front of it and look up at whoever's there. [color=blue]"I am Morticia filia Aesclipia scholae Bonisagi," she calls out in Latin. [color=blue]"You should be expecting us?"

((I'll try to throw up basic stuff on her grogs in the next couple of days, and fuller sheets over the weekend.))

The gate itself is well-lit, with a pair of large lantern bracketing it on the outside and grogs holding torches going around. It seems to have been constructed of local logs, planed down to form beams well-fitted together, and is quite heavy. For the moment, only a side door has been opened, and an older grog is waiting for the party to arrive. His dark hair is heavily streaked with grey, and extensive scars mar the left side of his face below an eye white with blindness. His other eye is sharp and intent, however, as he answers Morticia in a Latin that is as good as hers.

"The masters mentionned that someone would be coming, but we didn't know when." He nods at Morticia in a respectful way, before adding, "If you can wait a few more minutes, maga, while we get one of them here to welcome you."

So close to the walls, Morticia can feel the slight tingle of the Aegis that protects the covenant. Lizetta notices that there are additional men in the towers flanking the gate, and with possibly a few more along the walls. She's not sure, because those don't seem to be carrying torches.

((To the rest of the troupe: Unless someone else is available to have his magus welcome Morticia, I will use Petronius to do so. If I get no answer from anyone, I'll write this welcome in about 4-5 hours.))

((I can have Praxiteles do it. He ostensibly splits his time makes a trip to the covenant, stays overnight for one or two nights, and then goes back to his home in Koblenz for a night or two. He doesn't mind, he enjoys the scenery, and getting to know the covenfolk. It also appears, that by the timing of events that Alips would be back with Petronius, so she'll make an apperance, too. :smiley: ))

One of the grogs fetches Praxiteles, who happens to be in residence that day, of course, his Latin is atrocious, so communication will have to go through Alips, who gathers ever more information on the workings of Laurus Argenti. Translating for Praxiteles, Alips speaks to Morticia, "My husband, Praxitels Jerbitonis and I greet you and welcome you to the covenant." ((The phrasing she uses is subtle here, a folk ken check of 12, without penalties for the Gift should indicate that she's asserting her role in the covenant to be nearly equal to a magus, a pereginator of Laurus Argenti. Of course, since she can selectively feed information to Praxiteles, this has some measure of truth to it.)) Alips is either well practiced in dealing with magi, or protected by her husband's Parma Magica. Praxiteles seems to be jibber-jabbering at Morticia and Alips. "Yes, darling, of course." She says to the man who must be her husband. Alips is beautiful, and Praxiteles is good looking but appears to be a bit on the chubby side, Alips could be considered out of his league, if looks were the only factor, if Morticia notices such things, that is. "My name is Alips, and you'll have to excuse my husband's lack of knowing Latin, he is from the Theban Tribunal, and knows Classical Greek instead of Latin, although he does know a few of the common tongues."

She approaches Morticia, getting into her personal space without any apparent concern, "You'll have to excuse my husband, he is rather flustered that he isn't prepared for this, he seemed to be under the impression that you were arriving later." Praxiteles is calling out to the grogs and covenfolk, in German, to assist with unloading the card, and stowing it, and showing Morticia to quarters. None of the grogs or covenfolk seem interested in helping out the visiting magus. Praxiteles has to raise his voice a bit, and offer a bit of the stick along with his normal carrot approach.

((Morticia's Folk Ken roll: Per 0 + Folk Ken 1 + die roll of 6 = 7. Yeeahhh, no.))

((She does, but not in a lascivious way, more in an artistic-appreciation way.))

Morticia is a bit discomfited by Alips's closeness...but not so much as Lizetta, who takes a step forward in a definite bodyguard/bouncer fashion. Morticia looks up at Lizetta and softly says, [color=blue]"Non ti preoccupare, va tutto bene." Lizetta looks at Morticia, then takes a step back and watches Alips and Praxiteles like a hawk.

[color=blue]"I sent a letter to Petronius in early June, and paid the Mercere extra to expedite its delivery. Has it not arrived yet?"

She introduces her maidservant Allesandra, the cook Cristofano (Allesandra's husband), the man-at-arms Antonio, and Lizetta (the shield grog). [color=blue]"With the Council's permission, I would offer the services of Antonio and Cristofano to the Covenant, as well as those of Lizetta when her duty to me allows."

When she's shown to her quarters, she looks around appraisingly. [color=blue]"These are quite adequate. A month and more on the road, having to stop at night and trying to doze as I could during the day, it will be days before I'm back to my normal schedule."

Eventually, hearing that whatever has disturbed the grogs outside does not seem to die down, Petronius gets up and dresses to see what this is all about. A bit grumpy, for he had just gotten asleep, he steps out of his temporary quarters adjacent to the library, just as Morticia is being shown her own rooms.

A short-haired man with a wide mouth looks in from the main hall as Morticia comments on her quarters. He seems a bit cross-eyed at all the bustling about and all the noise of covenfolk trying to get sorted out while speaking different languages. After rubbing his eyes with the palm of his right hand to get the remains of sleep out of them, he approaches Morticia and Praxiteles.

After a friendly nod to Praxiteles, he turns to the dark-haired woman and asks, "Are you Morticia?"

With all the bustle in the main hall, a tall, thin monk peers over the balcony railing. "Are we all praying Compline, then?" He smiles owlishly down on the grogs carrying bags. "Didn't think so." Hearing the conversation, he hurries down the stairs. Upon reaching the other magi, he inclines his head to the new-comer, his arms folded into the sleeves of his robes. "Welcome, Morticia. I am Aedituus. I am sure you are tired from your travels. Perhaps we might greet you more formally tomorrow over lunch? I am certain Laurent can arrange for something."

[color=blue]"Yes, I am. Morticia filia Aesclipia of Bonisagus." She nods her head politely. [color=blue]"My apologies for the disturbance, but we were so close to our destination that I didn't see the need to stop for another night."

She looks in the direction that Petronius came from. [color=blue]"Are our rooms going to be so close that my schedule will be an intrusion?"

[color=blue]"Salve, Aedituus. I was not aware that any of the holy orders were in residence, not that it would have affected my decision. I suspect that I will still be awake for lunch tomorrow, although I may not be in my best form. But I would be delighted to meet with you all."

She looks quickly at Cristofano, then to Aedituus. [color=blue]"This Laurent. Does he speak Italian?"

"Schedule?" asks the man inquiringly. Then, before Morticia can answer, "My apologies. I am Petronius, and I'm afraid my absence over this past summer caused some delays in the preparations for your arrival. These are just temporary guest quarters for tonight. You will be able to move into more appropriate rooms tomorrow, which include basic laboratory space and furnishings." He shrugs, "I'm afraid this was the best we could manage on such a short notice."

"In any case, I think that the plan is for us to officially welcome you, and explain the rules and layout of the covenant."

Petronius interjects with a smile, "Actually, Aedituus is a magus of House Criamon and one of the founding members of our covenant. You've already met Praxiteles of Jerbiton, I see." Looking around, he adds, "The only one who hasn't come down yet is Titus Aurelius, a fellow Bonisagus. He may be sound asleep, but you will surely meet him tomorrow at the latest."

"As far as I know, none of our covenfolk* speak Italian. But a number of them are decent at Latin, so perhaps they will be able to communicate at least basic ideas to each other."

(*At least, none of those described on the wiki so far do, except for Antonio the Bookbinder. Of course, Petronius' knowledge of the covenfolk is not complete -- nor have all of them been detailed.)

Morticia half curtsies politely to Petronius. [color=blue]"A pleasure to finally meet you in person, Petronius. As I said, I have no complaints. I think we're just happy to get out of the weather for a change. It's been a little...drearier than we're used to, the last week or so.

"As for my schedule, I tend to be nocturnal by nature. I'm not sure if it's related to my magic, but I'm at my best at night* and normally sleep during the day."

[color=blue]"I look forward to meeting him, as well."

Morticia turns to Cristofano. [color=blue]"Nessuno dei residenti parla italiano. Dovremo vedere che si impara latino. Fino ad allora ... immagino un sacco di puntamento e gesticolare."

She then speaks to Alessandra and Antonio. [color=blue]"E questo vale per voi, pure. Dovremo vedere che tutti voi impara abbastanza latino per adattarsi, qui."

[color=blue]"All the magi at Literatus are Italian," she says to the magi, [color=blue]"and, unfortunately, most of the smallfolk saw no pressing need to learn Latin. My bodyguard Lizetta is moderately fluent, however. Would it be possible to find a teacher for them so they can serve the covenant better?"

*[size=75] It might take a while for me to keep Fiona from butting in...but I'm trying. :smiley:[/size]

"Actually, if you plan on staying for many years, it might be better if your servants and bodyguard were to learn German, which is the local language here in Koblenz. Most of us are fluent as well, and speak that language to them. Only those who work more closely with us, as our shield grogs or in the library, have picked up much Latin." A small gesture towards Praxiteles, "Even our sodalis here, who comes from the Tribunal of Thebes, knows German, rather than Latin, although that is something he plans on fixing."

"On that note, I'll bid you good night, and we shall see each other after noon's meal tomorrow?" After bidding each of the magi present good night, Petronius retires for the rest of the night.

Morticia nods and turns to her entourage again. [color=blue]"In realtà, vi sarà l'apprendimento tedesco. Sarebbe meglio se si è iniziato al più presto possibile, una volta che troviamo che deposita."

[color=blue]"How do you say, 'We are new here, where are we to stay?' in German, and who do I send them to, to get them settled?" she asks the others. [color=blue]"We had all best retire for the night, it has been a long and hard trip. I will try to get some rest, and I hope to see you all again at lunch."

Once she gets the translation, and relayed to her crew, she will turn in for the night.

She arrives late for lunch, looking like she's just been awakened at 3 am. Alessandra did her best to make her maga presentable, but Morticia more or less shuffles along, yawning deeply.

Petronius is already present in the main hall, reading from a slim folio (that looks very much like a lab text) and taking notes on a wax tablet while eating his meal. As Morticia arrives, he raises his head and greets her. Once she joins him, he simles, "Are your quarters satisfactory? I want to apologize again for the confusion when you arrived. I really did not expect you to arrive so quickly when we corresponded in the spring, and with my absence over the summer I was only able to learn of you arrival when I got back two weeks ago. Even then, I expected we'd get a few more weeks to finalize preparations."

He gestures for one of the serving staff to serve her, translating for Morticia to German. "As I think I mentioned last night, we have been preparing a visitor's laboratory for you. However, since you are our first peregrinator, this is only a basic laboratory. We have the supplies and equipment at hand to complete this lab, but we simply did not have to time to do so." The thin-boned Bonisagus gestures towards the upper floor, adding, "After lunch and the Council meeting, I'll be happy to show you around. We are quite proud of what we have built here."

((Have we determined which sanctum was used to set up the visitor's lab? Looking at the map on the wiki, I'd say the best candidate would have been #2. It is the smallest and not immediately adjacent to the shared lab, while not over the mundanes' quarters below. It's adequate for a Size 0 lab with an adjacent bedroom.))

((I was thinking it was #2, as well.))

[color=blue]"They are quite adequate," Morticia says as she stifles another yawn. [color=blue]"My apologies. The journey has left me more exhausted than I thought. But, yes, I didn't realize that I would be so close on the heels of my last letter, else I would have dawdled more en route, perhaps taken the time to speak with the beings that seemed to take such a keen interest in my passing."

[color=blue]"I would be happy to put together a laboratory, as a token of gratitude for your accepting me, and to pay my way. Will I be allowed to put together a laboratory to my liking, or would you prefer one more utilitarian?"

((Sanctum #2 looks like it would work. One of the first things Morticia would want to do is put some heavy drapes over the windows to block out the light during the day. Or #1 could work; that one arm looks like it would be a good size for sleeping chambers, just put up a door or drapes, and hopefully there are no windows in that part.))

"Since your status is that of an Honored Guest," Petronius replies with a smile, "it would be better to keep the visitor's lab configured for transient use. If eventually you decide to remain here and become a member of our covenant, then you would of course be perfectly within your rights to configure your personal lab whichever way you choose."

Another smile and a nod, "And indeed, if you do complete the installation of the visitor's laboratory, this will be considered as services that would be accepted instead of a year's visiting fee. This is something that was discussed by the Council when we received your letter in the spring."

((She won't get to choose where the visitor lab is set up, since the first season of work was done by Titus over the summer. She will only have to spend a single season to complete the lab to standard. I was just checking to make sure the others remembered the same thing as I regarding which sanctum would have been selected for this. So you're stuck with #2 for now. :stuck_out_tongue: ))

Morticia nods. [color=blue]"That's fair enough. Unfortunately, it's far enough past the equinox that the mystical energies are woefully misaligned to resume properly putting together the laboratory until mid-winter's eve. By the council's leave, I would like to take the next couple of months to get settled into my temporary abode, get my body's rhythms back where they need to be, and to get better acquainted with the covenant and the surrounding area.

"I am also somewhat skilled in treating both injuries and illnesses. Do you have a hospital that I can examine, perhaps offer my services if they're needed? Oh, and a cemetery, as well. And rumour has it that this place has more than its fair share of shades. If someone has the time, I would like to see the places where they are known to haunt, but that's less of a priority."

((There's nothing to say that she can't claim one of the basement areas as her sanctum, and just do the 1 season of setup on the guest lab, completing her requirement of service to the covenant, and then begin building her ultimate lab of doom down in the basement, or something...))

((Isn't the basement area claimed by Petronius, the wine cellar, and the stores? Unless there's a basement area underneath the barracks, hen house, or stables that aren't listed.))