The magi travel without problems to Kolberg. The arrive in the early afternoon. The air is filled with frosty chill and everyone in the party wish they where indoors. What happens now are up to the magi.
During the journey sometime Heinrich turns to Krispin and others - [color=red]What if we find a few stalwart urbanites [color=blue][quasi companion/grog types] [color=red]and try to start a small chapter house. An office of sorts. Maybe it's quasi-ambassadorial or kind of a trade house extension. It'd serve as a kind of news and trade clearinghouse of sorts? Maybe, it could do a sort of farmer's market sort of thing and finally put in the positive for income. Even if by a few marks!
What say we - on the way back - stop by the werewolf encampment and pay a visit to keep up contact, too. Mayhaps we bring back a few gifts of tools or exotic foods.
On to the Grey Boar Inn and looking for Karl die Rot. We Gently Gifted will proceed with asking discreetly about this individual. And Grogs! Lots of Grogs (no, not really ), but a handful of grogs for accompanying on the journey is certainly in order.
And a bit of Jerbitonesque urban window shopping and bayside local flavour is in order too, for Heinrich, but not - currently - at expense to the mission. What news - if anything, substantial - of politics?
If Krispin has his druthers, the expedition will be small and nondescript â€“ just large enough to deter robbers, not large enough or lavish enough that anyone will remember them. He will ride his old mare or walk most of the way.
[color=red]Having contacts here could be very good for us indeed. Still, last time it was brought before the council, the idea of our making diplomatic overtures to the lord of Kolberg was frowned upon by most of our sodales. We should keep someone here to look after our interests, but make no formal overtures nor attempts to make ourselves known. If we can disguise that we are magi, so much the better.
Krispin books them rooms at the Grey Boar, leaving Heinrich to ask after this Karl character and set up a discreet meeting.
The in is full of stale air and the smell of itâ€™s residents. City air always has that distinct smell, a smell that make the magi long back to Ad Fons healthy breezes. Karl meets up with magi and their friends in a shady corner of the inn. Outside the wind is increasing in strength. Secret code words are exchanged with Karl so he knows that he can trust the Ad Fons magi. [color=red]I have seen Boris the Red together with a few merchants that belong to the company of the Red Rooster. Their head has a city house as well as a manor house outside the city. The other members live in other houses throughout the city.
How do we know this Karl character? And, for review, what do we know about Boris?
Krispin nods, stroking his chin. [color=red]Tell me more about this Boris. What is he doing that is suspect?
Heinrich drawls [color=red] ... or even noteworthy, for that matter. Any particularly interesting mercantile goods?
You know that Karl is a agent of Rastavan or Stanislaw and thatâ€™s it.
[color=red]I donâ€™t know much about this Boris chaps operation. I have not yet dared to look into it, he is dangerous you know. He merchant house he is into is another than the one that supplies your covenant and it seems to grow steadily in both wealth and power. They trade with all manner of goods, most bulk goods and perhaps some luxury goods.
Krispin raises an eyebrow. [color=red] Iâ€™m afraid I donâ€™t know. What makes him dangerous?
[color=red]Krispin, my good man, clearly we've been sent on grog's work. Quite possibly, the kind of danger may be in the form of evil, mercantilist usury or overpricing or some such thing. and then Heinrich gets a little less cavalier ... [color=red]but they're supplying us?! Now, that is a little more interesting. Hmmmm... welll... let's send a couple of the grogs to look into business and maybe even head-in to take a look over our supply requests. In the meantime we can experiment with different brews and tasteful imports showing up at the wharves!
[color=blue]You know, a Jerbiton like me would have great use of a mercantilist companion. Maybe one with an interesting Hanseatic connection!
I heard the rumours that he is well versed in the dark arts. But otherwise I donâ€™t know, I know that the man is important to Constantia and thatâ€™s it. Boris merchant house are not controlling the merchants that supply your covenant but they are striving to put those that supply you out of business.
The grogs later report back that the merchants supplying your covenant are under a heavy pressure. Many are considering employment in the rival merchant house.
What does "under a heavy pressure" mean? How are they putting our merchants out of business? Also, how exactly is our covenant supplied? Have we cut a deal with one merchant house for all our goods?
Krispin sighs a little at Heinrich's speech. [color=red] You may sample whatever you like, but I think we should see more about Boris first.
The heavy pressure varied from merchant to merchant, some had trouble with their suppliers such as they refused to work with them and others just suffered from delays and other obstacles. Some even had key personnel recruited by Boris merchants. No one claimed to be threatened in any case.
Moving right along, then.
Krispin turns to Heinrich. [color=red]You seem more suited than I to dealing with those of high station. Perhaps you could try to speak to this Boris directly, just to get a sense of him â€“ without revealing us, naturally. Or you can accompany me, but with your affinity forâ€¦ culture, you may not like it. He smiles with just the ends of his lips turning up.
Krispin will go to a local market, the sort of place crafters would go to purchase things they need. There, he will buy the simple, unobtrusive clothing of just such a crafter â€“ the sort he would have worn had he become an apothecary like his father.
Before evening, he will put on the air of a somewhat down-on-his-luck journeyman, looking for people to talk to and maybe some work. He will walk by wherever this merchant house does business and scope things out. Anything suspicious? Also, anytime he finds someone who will talk to him about Boris, he'll be extra friendly, even buying them a few drinks. Just trying to soak up any rumors and information while remaining unobtrusive.
[color=red] Tell me, friend, whatâ€™ve you heard about this Boris characterâ€¦ I hear heâ€™s new in town and quite rich. Think heâ€™d want a poultice or potion, or perfume for a lady?
From one of the houses that belong to the merchant house there seems to be some form of caravan forming. They seem to be travelling by land and Boris seems involved in it as much of his activity circles around it. There seems to be very that know something about Boris other than his red hair, he seems to keep to the houses employees that also are running the caravan. There seems not to be anyone from the merchant house that are willing to talk much about the house activities. Those that works for the house seems to be well paid.
After making sure to check everything out, Krispin will approach one of the leaders of the caravan â€“ someone whoâ€™ll be reasonably autonomous but wouldnâ€™t report directly to Boris on a regular basis. The head cook would be ideal. Before the approach, he finds a quiet, unobtrusive place to spont the following spell:
[color=blue]Aura of Harmless Benevolence, MuIm5
Personal, Sun, Individual
You appear more unobtrusive, helpful, and benevolent than you normally would, induced by numerous subtle changes in your bearing. You get +3 to rolls to avoid notice as a threat, convince people of your good intentions, or to elicit concern.
Base 3 +2 Sun
(based on Aura of Rightful Authority)
If possible, I'll try to get outside the city to mitigate the effects of the divine aura (unless this Karl fellow happens to know of a lacuna - as an agent of a magus it's not impossible). If the divine influence still proves too powerful, I won't press the issue and will make do without the spell.
Approaching the caravan, Krispin assumes his best pathetic but earnest expression. [color=red]Pardon me, sir. Terribly sorry to bother. Itâ€™s just, well, I see youâ€™re all going someplace. Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™m a bit down on my luck and am rather in need of work â€“ family trouble, you understand. Iâ€™m not a bad hand in the kitchen or on the trailâ€¦ I donâ€™t suppose I could trade my services for board and a dry place to put my head? Just for a few days, to get me out of town?
The head cook smiles as Krispin approaches. [color=red]Perhaps I have a space for you. We are needing agood hand for some heavy lifting and some other work. Please tell me more about your self. What is you craft? Have you had any other employers?
The man looks at Krispin from head to toe, measuring Krispinâ€™s quality.
Krispin straightens up and tries to look hard working.
He nods genuinely, bobbing his heat up and down. [color=red]Heavy lifting is just fine with me, sir. Iâ€™m a journeyman apothecary by trade, but I fear Iâ€™ve fallen down on my luck. Family trouble, you understand. At this point Iâ€™m just trying to get by and perhaps get to a new place. If you have need with finding some few spices or curing all manner of small ills, Iâ€™d be happy to help out! Iâ€™ve done a few odd jobs here and there, but Iâ€™ve got no real employer. Just the problem, you see?
He smiles as winningly and pathetically as possible. [color=red]I donâ€™t suppose youâ€™d take me on?
Sorry for the late reply, I forgot.
[color=red]You can start today. I sure tell you if I have the need of your service but for the moment there is some heavy lifting to do. For the moment I have only roof over your head a few steady meals a day to offer. Follow me and I show you around the compound. The head chef shows Krispin around the areas and in one of the houses there is a bed for him. [color=red]Youâ€™ll have to put together the bed every night but at least itâ€™s much warmer than the floor. The head cook show Krispin a few planks that should be placed between two beams in the ceiling and then slept upon. (This is a rather fancy bed for the time). [color=red]There wonâ€™t be any chilly wind from the floor up there. Now follow me and I show you your work. The head cook walks with Krispin to a wagon where there are a large pile of filled sacks and barrels next to it. [color=red]Load these items onto the wagon and when the evening comes you can go to the great hall for some food. Unless asked to the head cook will leave the storage room.
With Krispins strength of -2 there will be a aching back as a pastime pleasure unless magic can be performed. There is a divine aura of 2 or 3 (canâ€™t remember what is appropriate for a town).
[color=blue]Hmmm... I'd like to have Alberich be the grog that accompanies me.
Before Krispin's departure - [color=red]I s'pose, I could try another approach. I think I'll take Alberich along to appear to be on domestic and boring business. I'll double-check what's been going on with our suppliers, send post back to Ad Fons to update them with the latest and then approach Boris with an inquiry as to recent trade relations that affect us. If we're lucky, then this is a simple issue of monopolistic trade, but with rumors of Dark Arts and a connection to Constantia, I fear otherwise.
Barring any changes, Heinrich will personally confirm the accounts with the mechants that supply Ad Fons and collect the list of complaints. Is there a magister or burgher or some sort official who we could report/complain to? Heinrich prepares to visit with Boris.
Krispin has no problem living as a common laborer, although he doesnâ€™t have the frame for heavy lifting. He will Deftly spont the following spell to make his labors easier:
[color=blue]Incantation of the Laborerâ€™s Vigor, MuCo4
Personal, Sun, Individual
Your muscles gain slightly in vigor and strength, making heavy labor over a long term much less draining for you. Though you cannot perform feats of strength or endurance beyond your abilities, you can work at a steady pace without suffering any discomfort other than natural tiredness.
Base 2 +2 Sun
Relevant scores are Muto 6 Corpus 10 and Sta2. The core book says a town has an aura of 3 in most places, but areas where sin and vice are common have a lower aura.
What activities is Boris involved in the circle around this caravan that I can see? Iâ€™ll generally be as genial and chatty as possible while keeping my ears open.