[color=red]Salve sodales!, shouts the Redcap Guillermo, waving to you at the Ostian docks, his latin cutting through the babble of sound. Of course, he's hard to miss. Among the throngs of merchants, dockworkers, beggers, soldiers, and peddlers, he sticks out like a sore thimb. An unruly mop of curly black hair protrudes form under his scarlet cap, which is graced by a ridiculously long peacock feather. The rest of his attire is equally lacking in subtlety.
It seems only days since you last saw him, what with the excitement of packing and travel, but in truth, it has been much longer. Seasons have passed since his face appeared at your master's covenant, with a surprising offer: a chance to explore the almost unknown coast of North Africa, to seek out the hidden mysteries of long-lost Mercurian lore, and perhaps, to found a new covenant among the ruins of a once great community of magi.
While it is common knowledge that the Romans settled the southern shores of Africa, it has been centuries since Europeans set foot there in any numbers. The teeming hordes of the Prophet ensured that. Yet, onlyseventy odd years ago, the brave forced under the command of Robert of Sicily conquered the Ifriqiyan coast. While they were eventually forced back across the water, in 1160, their foothold allowed tantilizing hints to cross back to europe and the Order.
These hints, coupled with the scattered record left by Hermetic legends such as Abdkypris ex Criamon prompted an expedition to the Ifriqiyan coast a generation before. After a few scattered commique, contact with the expedition was lost, and the turmoil associated with the Almohad invasion prevented more rigorous efforts to find the lost magi. Until now.
Guillermo breaks you free of your reflections with a happy shout, and beckons you eagerly to a large Genoan ship moored at the docks. In a flurry of gesticulation, punctated with gestures both dramatic and urgent, he manages to get your gear stowed in the ship's hold. Then, he gathers you in the large cabin the lot of you will share on the journey, and removes from his bag a leather satchel.
From inside the satchel, he draws forth and displays a pair of worn, leather-bound books, and map of much-folded parchement. These, he states, are the heart of your journey. While the logistical elements of the expedition have been provided for (with a year's worth of supplies either stowed in the ship or to be purchased by letters of credit), it it the written record left by Abdkypris, his memoirs and discourses on language, along with a map of the known travels of the earlier expedition, that will guide the early steps of your journey . . . .
[color=darkblue]And there you have it Y'all have been contracted to trace the steps of an earlier expedition to the coast of Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia). It's an area that has been controlled, successively, by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Berbers, Arabs, Normans, and then Arabs again. Your backers (a group of magi in the Roman tribunal, represented by Guillermo the Redcap), have secured you passage on one of the Genoese traders still able to gain access to the Ifriquian ports.
In addition, you have been given sufficient material goods and credit (through banking contacts of House Mercere) to support the expedition for one year. This will allow you to secure the necessary personnel and goods upon landfall at Sousse. Finally, you have been provided with your most precious resources . . . a copy of Abdkypris' travel memoirs (can be read as a Summa on either Area Lore: Ifriqiya or Philosophiae at Lvl 5, Q9), a copy of his compiled notes on Arabic (Q9 tractatus on Arabic), and a copy of the map used by the previous expedition (Tractatus on Area Lore: Ifriqiya, allowing specialization in Roman ruins). The books and map are contained in a leather satchel that protects the conents from the efects of both flame and immersion.
Feel fee to post, establishing flavour, and exploring the ship, until we have everyone's character posted. Any questions, post 'em in the OOC thread. My sig should include a link to a wiki I'll try to keep updated with info and known crunchy bits.