Scipio's expression darkens slightly for a moment yet then he nods, affirmingly, towards Iohannes. "As I said, there is not enough time unless you have a way of acquiring it. I tell you what I can do to help you. I pointed out myself however that I consider this situation tactically untenable. As a matter of fact I just advised withdrawal for a variety of reasons. It is however my duty to provide the one in command with alternatives as I might. The choice is yet yours, hopefully in full knowing of what there is to call upon. Now, Comrade, that decision is best made before we are caught in battle with it's lack."
Iohannes sees Scipio's expression and says, "I meant no offense. I truly appreciate both your offer of assistance and the way you offered it. I truly am inexpert in rituals, knowing only what all magi know. Parma would be good; it's a capital idea and might protect against these... things."
It is clear that Iohannes has only half an eye on Scipio, for he is watching other things, and takes a moment to call a command to the sailors who are emerging from below (if the ship has a full load, they sleep on deck, even the night shift).
Iohannes looks to the other magi. "Unless someone else has an idea, I agree with your suggestion. And, one way or another, when we have the time, I would enjoy learning your perspective on rituals.... and Parma." Iohannes smiles, as though there were no crisis. For the briefest moment, his full attention falls upon Scipio. "There's so much out there." But only for a moment.
Then Iohannes returns to watching and waiting. (ooc: he might have to cast a big spell, and is waiting to recover his fatigue.")
Does Second Sight show anything about the enemy ship? 5 before aura and without die.
Vispillius had left the raised, rear command deck down to the main deck, away from the main conversation, where he'd enchanted a pair of stout oars, and had them floating aloft with the previous spar, but was back now, a light of eagerness in his eyes.
"There is every indication that those men are dead, but we do not know it as a certainty. It's possible some are ensorceled - I say this only as a reminder to keep our minds open, and not be limited by our assumptions.
"Just recently we spoke of our desire to pick up new ships, and yet did I overhear a suggestion of setting this one afire? Better that than lose our lives, certainly, but better still if we could disable this one, were it possible...
"Iohannes, can you tell if it's an enchantment of the wind, pushing the sails, or of the boat itself, and the sails are irrelevant?"
Turning his attention aloft, he maneuvers the previously enchanted spar down to the command deck, throws a leg astride, and, his off hand firmly grasping his mount, he rises slightly off the deck, but forward, where he is still out of line of sight from their pursuer, behind the bulk of the raised stern command deck. With a gesture and a few bold arcane words his image shifts suddenly a pace to one side, and no longer quite perfectly matches the direction of his voice.
"I'll try to send one of the swimmers over, where we can get perhaps more answers. I'll hope that the assembly here are confident they can manhandle one zombie or ensorcelled sailor, yes? Then I'll see what I can do about disabling the sails or steering, and we'll go from there... unless anyone else cares to accompany me on a second spar?..."
He waits a moment for a response, and depending on the response, becomes invisible with another gesture, and flies, as fast as any good horse can gallop, toward where the swimmers had hit the water, the two oars, one after another, preceding him low on the water. His plan (after getting a better look at the ship, especially the wheel/command area, looking for anything that stands out or moves) is to come up behind one, slide a spar up under their jacket, lift them up like a puppy (or angry cat, depending) caught by the scruff of the neck, and send it over to the home boat.
Depending how all that goes, he may escort the salvaged swimmer back, or just maneuver the spar close, from afar, and focus on the boat, or something else...
"They might even be a mirage. If you fly close, you might have a better look."
Iohannes smiles. "If there's something to salvage, that would be worthwhile. I tried Perdo Herbam before Creo Ignem because of that--and because I didn't want to risk breaking the Code when I struck first. But that ship should be listing now, beginning to go down, and it's moving almost as fast as before....."
"The sails don't matter; someone on board was pretending they do, at first, but...." Iohannes pauses, and looks out at the ship closing in, "no. Or not that much."
"We'll want the man restrained, and not brought aboard until we know more. Whoever is controlling or possessing that man might be able use him as an Arcane Connection or channel to us!"
Iohannes looks to Scipio. "Your Parma idea sounds better all the time." He nods his head, both in respect and agreement. "If we make them give chase, we'll see if we cannot provide you the time to make that happen. And later, later..." He smiles. "Later."
To Vispilius, "Anything you can do to delay them, distract them, harass them or learn about them will be good. Disabling the ship probaby won't help; I already tried that. And be careful; there's an intelligence behind this, something with guile.
"What I need most... I'll be able to cast my next spell just before they come into extreme range, and it might have to be a big one. Anything you can do out there to give me a clear, good option. Right now, I'm thinking either to run, to burn or to destroy the ship. I don't know if any of that will work. And what if it's illusion? Something else?
"If you get close enough, trying a Rego Mentem on one of these people might reveal a lot.
"So. Keep them away from the ship. Learn what you can about them, so we can better decide whether to fight or run. And if you can find a weakness.... Four diameters. Take an archer, unless that would slow you down. A fire arrow from beyond Voice range might come in handy."
There are four men on the castle, lightly armored, with loaded arbalests, one with a longbow and the others with shortbows, and they have nothing to do because of the fog. Iohannes gestures to one of the men with a short bow.
No longer talking specifically to Vispilius, but out loud, "They want something. Something specifically to do with us, unless I'm far off course."
The tremere's words are quick and to the point at first. "The Code is of little concern here. They have no Sanctum mark on their vessel, and we have on ours. They are the aggressors, despite dissuasion, on what should be a clear Sanctum. We are within our rights I think in any response we choose to enact at this point. And I agree. This is most likely deliberate. For what reason I know not... yet... they know something, and came upon us in earnest and prepared for this battle."
Scipio speaks with some obvious thought to his words though his eyes remain on the ship giving chase. Taking a deep breath he speaks after a moment of due consideration. "As for recovery of one of their creatures... It is a risk indeed. Yet if these creatures are the work of another will, as you say they could be used to send their Art to us. The caveat is that I also have the means to open the conduit in their direction. We would be quite vulnerable in opening such a channel without knowing what lays at it's end, yet we could strike at our strange enemy in the same way. I can not be certain my ready magics are up to the task if we face another Magus, yet... I could hold the conduit open for one of you to assist me... to throw your Art down the channel I open. In such a way we may be able to destroy our enemy and truly leave the vessel and it's mysteries intact."
Scipio seems rather unashamedly fearful of his own voiced option, yet the set of him shows that he is ready to see it through despite his fears. For now he simply stands gauging the reaction of the others... particularly Iohannes.
Iohannes considers. "It's a brave suggestion, but you're right to be wary. It's a last resort, because once we bring one of them aboard, we have given them part of what they want. They want closer contact with us. They know more about us than we about them--enough to have chosen pursuit and engagement! Until we know more, I feel inclined to deny them what they want, just on general principle. And I'd like to know more, because I'd rather fight--and win--than flee. On general principle."
That's a Finesse roll, which you make. You roll a 20 (1, 0) on your Awareness. Theman you carry is dead and the blue-black marks around his mouth indicate to you that he was poisoned. Scanning the other swimmers you see that the same cause of death is attributable in each case.
The other ship steers with a steering board, not a wheel. There's nothing you can see there that indicates any sort of chain of command.
With a thought, the oar skewering the dead man's jacket lifts and moves toward Iohannes' ship, a few paces above the dark water. Another two thoughts, and the remaining stave and the spar Vispilius rides match its speed and direction. Knowing his Invisibility spell will not last much longer, he reinforces it with a second casting when the duration seems near its end, as he knows he must again when he returns to the ghost ship.
He hangs the corpse over the lower deck, where the motion of the ship makes it appear to move higher and lower, but never quite touching the deck.
"Prepare ropes or chains, or what have you," comes a voice from the air near the sad figure, "He's been poisoned, as have all the others I saw. No living creatures stood out, tho' such may be as unseen as myself. Cut him down when you're ready, I'll go see what good I can do to slow the ship..."
Vispilius then leaves the one stave on its course, and takes only the other with him. Experimentally shouting out a Dust to Dust spell on one of the swimmers, he flies to a spot above and behind the ship, and casts his one relevant spying spell, Prying Eyes and Ears, which opens those senses to a spot within shouting distance - here, just down whatever companionway seems to lead up to the command deck, for a look around to seek out some living master of the ghost ship. To maintain his distance, he does not shy from using a bold voice, since his Voice ranged spells all share that innate liability.
He then begins using his Swarm of Shafts spell to hammer first at the steering oar, and then at any other obvious critical elements of the ship. While invisible and maneuvering behind the ship, the spells are voice ranged, and so his presence would soon become obvious to any below, and so he relies on the distance, wind, and his Invisibility and Sidestep spells to protect him, ready to use his two offensives spells on anything living or dead, as appropriate, that threatens him.
Prying Eyes & Ears, voice, 15+Aura vs 15
Dust to Dust, voice, 9+Aura vs 10
Swarm of Shafts- voice, 10 x d+10 wooden shafts. 14+Aura vs 15)
I imagine the man is wriggling and trying to break free?
Iohannes Second Sight 5+die+Aura on the dead man
To Malik, the ship's chirurgeon (I might actually write him up; he's a failed student from the Islamic world, smart and educated but without the patience to finish his education, or the discipline to avoid getting into the kind of trouble that would make Iohannes' ship an attractive place to be. He does have a real talent for healing and is educated enough to be worth keeping around. He has his sea legs but the crew doesn't like him, even though the cats do. He is a touch arrogant. He speaks Arabic and Latin beautifully, and even though he knows Lingua Franca, he prefers not to speak it. German... he has picked that up too, aboard ship, but that's even more barbaric. He prays 5/day, but has learned not to make a big show of it. He is fastidious. He is young and has gotten into trouble because of women. He does not have any supernatural abilities.)
"Stay a good two paces away," though Malik seems naturally inclined to do at least that. "How long has this man been dead?"
OOC: Iohannes plans to spend the next little while recovering his fatigue loss, which will allow him to cast his next spell with a very short time to spare before the enemy enters extreme range. (Unless we allow a Stamina roll to halve the recovery time, in which case Iohannes gets 4+die to find out).
Meanwhile, things are happening. Iohannes isn't doing these things, except for those that involve talking and are otherwise easy. When he has recovered his fatigue.... he'll have to make a decision, and will hopefully know enough to make a good one.
As the other magi seems to handle the situation. Titius sits down to catch his breath and recover some fatigue. Iohannes is there any special chamber upon this vessel that can be used for ceremonial magic? If memory serve me right special chamber constructed to the use of ceremonial magicâ€™s can cut down the time to cast such a spell. And if there is such a chamber is there any chance that one can see our foes from that chamber?
Iohannes points to the circle painted on the castle floor, a pie divided into 12 wedges, each wedge obviously representing one astrological sign; the rim is also divided into 12 wedges, but the representations of each is less clear.
"As good a vantage as any," Iohaness says, "but as you can see, the space is not dedicated to the circle."
(Longer description of ship forthcoming.)
Scipio approaches within a quite quite cautious distance of the 'dead man' once it has been brought aboard. Tugging gently at his ear as inspects the new arrival he seems slightly repulsed, yet not quite uncomfortable. His guardsmen remain around him, though their formation is loosened somewhat. Two have their attention on the 'thing' on the ship, and two remain more concerned with a general defense... staying more tightly to the their master in his narrowed attention.
When Scipio speaks it is once again to Iohannes. "We are at the decision point. If you wish I will test this creatures connection to it's Master, and we will see if it is still intact. Perhaps it is, perhapst it is not. If it is, we will be in direct conflict immediately. So... I need your orders. Do we withdraw and hold this creature for further study at a safer time... or do we fight here and now? There is little time for further debate."
"Time at sea is different from time ashore. We have a few minutes left, and I want to use them. I still want to know the results of Vispilius' endeavors. I still want to shake off my weariness. I know that I can obliterate that ship and everything Herbam upon her. [OOC: base 4, Group +2 size +1 (75 tons of wood), Sight +3].
"But... I prefer other options, and I might have time to find out what they are.
"If you do test this connection, and discover that it exists, what can you do with it?"
"I can open a channel that will sustain any magic any of us choose to send through of up to the fifth magnitude. The conduit however flows both ways. Hence we will be, theoretically, just as vulnerable as our enemy. We may however have a moment of suprise in which we can act before they are aware the channel is open."
OOC: Opening the Intangible Tunnel, lvl 25.
"As for my own magics... I could send through enchantments of sleep or, if the enemy is other than human I can assault it through my skills in Vim."
Iohannes says, "Let's wait on that. I went through quite a bit of trouble to conceal us in fog, specifically to make targeting us with a spell more difficult. Opening up a channel to them is not what I have in mind. We have no idea what's on the other end of the channel, and I'd rather not have you compromised in the middle of all this." There's a lot going on all around you, as the crew both sails the ship and prepares for battle. The ship is overcrewed and the men know what they're about.... but things still look hectic, and they are.
OOC: I suspect that we're waiting for Timothy. Vispilius has a thread pending, and Iohannes has some smaller stuff pending (Second Sight, a visual inspection of the dead man, and the like), and Timothy might have some stuff pending. It's more fun not to wait... but it's a holiday season.
Iohannes' probable action at this point: If no one learns anything new by the time he recovers his fatigue, he obliterates the ship, which will still be in Sight range rather than voice.
...and it works normally.
There's no living person in the companionway. It is packed, indeed stacked, with dead people pierced through with chains.. If you ever mention this to a seaman, he'll tell you its to stop them rolling around as the ship works on waves. It's too packed for you to see all that well.
You spray the steering oar, and that shreds the guy who is handling it, but this does not seem to alter the ship's course at all. Similarly, the rigging, when you tear big chunks out of it, just snaps away. Those who are skilled seamen could tell you that this is unusal: generally the fallen sails would cause trouble and act as sea anchors, but this material is old and weathered and weak and so it just crumbles under your assault.
He's dead and moving and there is something black and ugly crawling through him, mystically speaking.
"Captain, he's been preserved somehow. Not pickling or smoking. Something else. Something that doesn't desicate the tissues. I can't say how long he's been dead, because he's not decaying the way a person should. Whoever preserved him didn't do a thourough job: he's decaying fastest on the hands and feet."
"Thank you, Malik."
To Scipio and Titius, "I advise against touching it again, if you can avoid it. But there is something inside the corpse, animating it; you might try casting Demon's Eternal Oblivion at it, if you know it."
Scipio nods at once as Iohannes makes his wish known. "As you command." he says softly, stepping forward and beginning an incantation. He speaks in normal, firm tones, words building up the spell in a methodical manner. Meanwhile the Magi's hands wave forth and around the target, laying the boundaries and channels for the effect. It is a simple seeming matter long practiced for Scipio. Finally his hands come back to be held before his body in a cupped fashion, one palm up the other down. A glimmering ball of bright clean energy instantly begins to crackle and pulse there between them. A flick of both hands towards the foul corpse creature send the ball speeding in blinding flash to the target...
[ Results? 8) ]