Chapter One: St. Juist de Narbonne

St. Peter and Paul is a local fair day, so the church is crowded for morning mass. People from the villages have arrived to bargain for goods. The magi (unless they are gently gifted) still draw some suspicious glances, but for once there are enough other attractions, so there is little hostility.
A fat merchant with a fir-trimmed red cap was sitting in the first row during mass. Now he is leaning against the wall to the left of the main doors of the little church.
People are crowding to the marketplace, so nobody will pay attention to you meeting unless you draw attention to yourselves.

You all feel how the power of God pervades the area. The magical spark has retreated deep within yourself.

Having left Laguna Sententia with little more than the clothes on her back, Viscaria has spent the last few weeks traveling disguised as a young girl. Initially quite irritated by this rouse, she's grown into the part. After her first disastrous night traveling alone, a bit of spontaneous Muto Mentem and her Faerie Lore has earned her the company of a minstrel (Covenants, pg 46, virtues/flaws/background at ST's discretion) named Raimond Mir for the rest of the Moon, at least. Raimond has been acting as her guardian, and seems to have discovered an unexpected benefit to being seen by women as a widowed father who dotes on his child.

Viscaria bounces up to the fat merchant and exclaims in a sing-song voice, "Do you know what they say about men in red hats? Not a thing you can repeat in front of an altar, that's for sure!" She pretends to laugh at her own joke, and then shows the merchant a small glass pendant with the OoH symbol on it. "Do you like my necklace? Papa gave it to me!"

Raimond apologizes for the "child," makes introductions, and inquires about a place to stay. He has no idea what any of this is about.

OOC: I wrote that last bit while running late for something, and didn't have time to properly scan the Minstrel template that I referenced. Forget that noise! I was just looking for someone who was likely to be at the first inn Viscaria stopped at along the way. The template in Covenants is WAY too OoH-aware. Ignore the page reference. Viscaria grabbed the minstrel at the inn she was at, bartered with him for his help to get to St Juist de Narbonne, and then if/when he refused due to her Gift, she spont'd the MuMe spell.

My first spont'd spell! Muto Mentem - Base lvl 2, Major change to a person's memory of an event, +1 Touch, +3 Moon = 10, Her casting total, with fatigue, is Muto 4 + Mentem 4 + Sta 0 + Aura 0 = 8/2 + stress die. So....40% chance she'd get it right. Possibly, she tried this a few times before it finally worked.

Also, to be clear, Raimond has no idea that she's a wizard, or who this dude they're meeting is.

On the stroke of 12, Helena steps out of the inn and walks towards the church. She walks up the steps slowly and over to the the group, nods in greeting to the the two others present and addresses the merchant.

(In Latin) "Greetings", she looks up at the church "a strange place to meet but I take it you are Johna?


  • I'll have to learn etiquette for this kind of game as we progress so if I do something wrong please pull me up.

Hiems arrived well in advance, eager to begin his new life.

Conscious of both his looks and his cold touch, he took time to die his hair, and tried to clothe himself as appropriate for the time of the year before travelling, passing himself for the son of a well-off merchant.

Since his arrival, he tried his best to be inconspicious, sitting quietly in a corner, and stayed away from the church, as he feels ill at ease without magic at his fingertips.

Attracted by Viscaria's act with the merchant, he quickly notices people's subtle unease near the dwarf. So, when helena adresses her, he step up, and walks towards the group, assuming Raimond Mir to be a gentle-gifted magi or a companion.

  • "Salvete Sodale. My name is Hiems. I take it you're here from the same reason as I. And I guess the merchant over here is our friend johan?"

Cygna had arrived in Narbonne several days before the appointed day and had settled into what she believed to be a respectable inn. She had tolerated the rude glances and snide comments of her fellow travelers, several of whom were on pilgrimage to Rome and beyond; it was no different than what some had said her whole life. Being part of the only Christian family in the covenant that did not recognize Papal authority did not prevent her from attending Mass on a regular basis, and even though she would always do some things differently, made her no less Christian than they.

Every day that passed seemed less tolerable than the day before. Having grown up in the covenant, and especially the past fifteen years as an apprentice, she had always been granted a certain measure of respect and deference, a measure which was sorely lacking here. And every attempt she made to correct their errors seemed to meet with more resistance until finally she was told that there was no longer any room at that inn. It took her the better part of a day to find an inn that had any room for her, and even then, she had to spend the first night in the common room with God alone knows what kind of people. She spent the rest of her time in Narbonne confined to her room by her own accord, stewing and fuming the entire time. She paid her bill every night, and every day the servants (somewhat reluctantly) brought her breakfast and dinner. She spent a good portion of her time berating herself for leaving Riversedge so early...if she had only left that much later, she could have gotten more studying done and would not have had to put up with the insolence that she had.

The festival day finally arrived. She gathered her meager belongings and made her way to the Church of Saint-Juist-de-Narbonne in plenty of time for mass. Her glance swept around the church, but she did not notice a redcap, or anyone who to her mind may have been of the Order. She set her staff on the ground before her and knelt at a pew within easy earshot of the altar to pray.

Midway through the mass, she happened to glance over and notices the fat merchant in the fur-trimmed red cap in the front row. She waited until the faithful had departed before she made her way toward where he appeared to be waiting, leaning against the wall near the doors. By the time she could make her way to the man, he was already engaged in conversation with a small child and her father, a blonde woman, and a tall pale man with dark hair. As she drew closer, she heard the tall man address the merchant in Latin.

She looks over each of them in turn and smiles what she hopes is a winning smile (and trying to hide the infuriating frustration that she's had to deal with the past few days). “Good day to you all,” she says in Latin.

Quickly assessing the three scholars who just introduced themselves, Viscaria interrupts the red-hatted obese gentlemen yet again. She turns to Raimond Mir, and speaks in a lyrical Occitan, "Now, dear companion on this long journey, you see my destination is at hand and we must part. Yet still I owe you two stories for the bargain to be complete. Will you forgive the debt and be on your way, or shall we meet again after nightfall?"

Well accustomed to Viscaria's uncontrived habit of speaking in perfectly metered lyric poetry, Raimond desists from engaging in the extemporaneous Jeu Parti she has started. "I'll not forget the tales still owed me, but find no hurry to claim my prizes. Find me within the next few days and we shall settle the bargain then." He gracefully exits.

When she judges he is out of earshot, Viscaria breathes a sigh of relief and mutters to herself in Occitan-accented Latin (possibly interrupting the merchant a seventh time), "Stars and stones, but it is a good thing that is done with. I'm sure he'll be most irate, come the new moon. Well, it couldn't be helped."

She then turns back to the group, now brandishing the Order of Hermes pendant briefly at each of the newcomers. "Well?"


Answers to Cygna's introduction with a nod

  • "Good day to you too, milady"

To Viscaria

  • "Well... It might be useful if you each introduced yourselves, too. If only for convenience's sake. Then, we could ascertain is that merchant is our dear johan, or just someone with a bad taste in caps."
    Turning to Cygna
  • "So, as I was saying before you arrived, my name is Hiems Ex Miscellanea"

Cupping her hands as if to keep her words from entering the church, she introduces herself in a low, hurried Latin whisper. "Viscaria Lynchis Verditii, lately of Laguna Sententia." After a seconds pause, she fumbles through a curtsy, "A pleasure to meet you all, I am sure."

Th merchant harrumphs self-imprtantly. When he talks you can smell his generously applied expensive perfume.

"Sodales, I am glad to see so many have come. My name, as you will certainly have guessed, is Jonah ex Mercere. I am here to welcome you, and to assist you in getting to Phoenix. May I invite you to my house, so we can clear up the remaining questions over some capon with honey sauce, salmon à l'Ecosse, vension and a few wines you may want to sample."

Away he warbles, to an ornately painted Patrician house right next to the church, clearly expecting to be followed.

Inside the house, servants take any coats you may want to take off (it's well heated)- and you are led directly into a large representative room. Delecicious kitchen smells surround you.

Jonah sits at the head of a large oak table full of steaming dishes on large plates.

ooc: I assume you've left all weapons and armor wherever you are staying (running around in armor is probably rather unusual for a fair day).
This may be a good moment to ask any remaining questions.

Viscaria salts her conversation with questions about the architecture and decor of his home, Narbonne, local industries, and questions about Phoenix. She seems much more calm than she was on the street, and though it seems an effort of will, she makes space for other people's questions and answers.

OOC: I seem to be checking my email & the forum right after JM posts, but that doesn't mean Viscaria always speaks first. Rather than let me steal the show because of this, I'm only going to ask one question about the covenant right now, but I encourage everyone else to describe the questions they ask over the course of the entire meal.

  • The letter seemed to imply that there were only two redcap visits to Phoenix in the last seven years. Surely, they were in greater contact than that?

*What sort of craftsmen does Narbonne produce? (and many other questions about Narbonne, etc of interest to a Verditus)

You learn that Narbonne is a city of trade and mills. You are warned that there are several sites of infernal terram vis around Narbonne that cause sickness and hair loss.
You learn that in 1216 unlike in the years before nobody had come through the magic mirror in the covenant entrance hut to welcome Marie. So she had tried against once a year - taken her unopnened mail back to the senders and reporting the strange situation.
Tribunal (1221) had sent another redcap to investigate and confirm the report - Jonah. After that, it was decided that the inhabitants were to be declared "in Twilight until proven otherwise". That sentence means that investigation of covenant grounds, including sancta, by the assembled magi is considered legal by Tribunal.

ooc: I don't intend to change much about Narbonne as it was at the time. A seat of hereticism, trade city etc.
infernal terram vis = uranium

Cygna's eyes narrow at this, but before she can say anything, Jonah introduces himself and she visibly relaxes. “My name is Cygna of House Bjornaer,” she says pleasantly enough, although the smile is yet to return to her face.

She follows Jonah to his house and lets the servants take her cloak; she will reluctantly let them take her pack (which contains pretty much all her worldly least her portable ones) as well. She is visibly (and suitably) impressed by the opulence of the Patrician house that the Mercere has apparently made his home.

Cygna will follow that question with: “Also, my letter stated that you wished to prevent encroachment by the Normandy tribunal. Are you not concerned that the Iberian would encroach as well, or instead? If I recall, Iberia is just as close, if not closer to Narbonne than Normandy.”

Cygna blanches at the mention of the infernal vis, but shows no other sign of her distress.

At last Brenguer comes out of the reverie induced by the sermon, and wanders out of the church. As he begins scanning the crowd for any sight of other magi or the elusive Johan, he hears what is said as he is passing a group he hadn't noticed, standing by the door. Stopping, he reminds himself that he must not daydream when he has people to meet. He waits for the other magi to complete their introductions.

"Salve Sodales. Berenguer filius Rollant, scholae Jerbitonis Phoenixensis sum. It is a pleasure to meet you all."

Nods to Viscaria, "An excellent observation."

Brenguer nods and adds, "That had occured to me too. How is it that our sodales of Normandy are considered more of a threat than those of Iberia?"

"I cannot say that this news pleases me, but it is better to be forewarned. What can you tell us of the vis sources of Phoenix? Are any of them known to be tainted in any way?"

OOC Brenguer has been unusually attentive to the conversations during the meal. He compliments his host appropriately on his decor and the magnificence of the meal, and generally trys to smooth any feathers that might become ruffled. He alludes to storries he knows in his genral conversation.

After Jonah has identified himself and at an appropriate gap in the conversation Helena will identify herself:

"Good day to you all and thank you for this meeting, I am Helena ex Bonisagus, I have many questions but perhaps they can wait until later"

At dinner Helena will be most interested in her fellow diners; her first concern is that this group of magi can work together. She is sure most pertinent questions will be asked and of course will chime in questions and remarks at the appropriate time,
The two things she will enquire about should it not be raised are:

  • Although the magi have disappeared what has happened to the covenant staff and Leonora's apprentice?
  • At a recent tribunal the covenant were charged with molesting the fay over a vis source. Is there a particular being or court in the area which may harbour ill will for the covenant.

Armour...weapons......I have ultimate cosmic power at my fingertips HAHAHAHHH...cough sorry.

OOC: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Jonah smiles a greasy smile (like a father who is happy to see that his children are asking the right questions):
"There are five vis sources registered with my House, which will become officially yours once you have claimed and explored Phoenix.
Although I may not speak of the exact locations just yet (vows to my house) - two of them are located in areas north of here and might be claimed by Normandy.
Iberia, on the other hand, has no jurisdiction north of the Pyrenées because of Andorra - a large and proudly independent covenant between Iberia and us that won't have it."

"All these legal details will be easier to settle once you are the masters of Phoenix. That is also true for the vis source and farie molestation case (fairie stone giants, I think) - I'll have someone research the details. But that surely is no pressing matter."

ooc: I hate that redcap.
ooc2: Have we all gotten to the merchant's house? If not, hurry up! Devise some stratagem to find the others.
ooc3: Indeed, most of your questions will resolve themselves once you've explored Phoenix.

Hiems sits and eats quietly, listening to the chit-chat. He doesn't like that redcap's style, although this is unimportant, but quickly comes to the conclusion that they won't learn much there. Still...

  • "I'm surprised about that infernal vis being so prevalent. Are we to suppose the Infernal was very active around here?"

It is entirely possible that Viscaria had been making suggestive glances at one of the male magi, while doing provocative things to her salmon. If that were the case, though, she had obviously not considered what part her traveling disguise would play in the reception of such invitations. At the mention of stone giants, astonishment causes a bit of fishbone to leap out of Viscaria's control, knock over Helena's glass, and land in Berenguer's venison.

There is a moment's silence, which she belatedly fills, her cheeks coloring. "Well, this is assuming that we do not find the current members of that home still alive. It may have been several years, but it is possible they are simply trapped there. We have no idea what sort of stores they kept."

At some later point in the meal, Viscaria compliments Jonah's cook, whom he obviously favors, and asks if they cook has an apprentice. "If he does not, I insist he take one immediately, and in five years, I shall claim the apprentice for my own kitchens, where ever they may be."

This leads the conversation back around to covenfolk, and what sort of retainers and grogs the various assembled magi might enjoy, as well as what options Jonah might be able to easily locate for us. Viscaria, quite naturally, favors craftsmen as all the Verditii do, but also seems to have some very elaborate ideas about the sort of social pariahs and supernatural outcasts to be found under every shrub in Provencal.

OOC : And after throwing that last bit in for people to reply to, I'm happy to move on.

Towards the end of the meal, Jonah suggests introducing them to the Clergue family who are from Agraves sur Mas.
"They can walk you up the Mas valley to the village.", he explains. "That way you can make first contact with the natives. The are shrewd peasants, heretics* all of them. They will do anything for you - as long as the interest of their clan is served by being loyal. The Clergues are like the most powerful family there. They used to coordinate the relations between the magi and the village."

*there and then heretic did not have the negative connotations of today.