From Hungary, westward (Winter 1235)

December in Hungary is a bitter time of year, more so in the mountains around Coeris. Temperatures rarely get above freezing, and occasionally hit -20 C or lower. Snow blankets the ground, and a chill wind is wont to blow, cutting the skin of anyone foolish enough to let it through their clothing.

So the young man walking through the streets of the small town is well wrapped-up, swathed in layers of cloth and fur. It isn't snowing currently, but his thick boots crunch on last night's snowfall, and his fur-lined hood swathes his head against the wind. He pauses briefly where the mullioned window of an inn leaks some warmth onto the street, pulls a sheet of paper from his pocket, and reads it once more. Salve... Returned to Andorra... informed the masters of your desire to transfer... I gave a favourable account of your talents... The masters are pleased to invite you to petition in person... arrive on the fifteenth day of January... Vocis ex Tremere. He refolds the paper into his pocket and walks on.

Favourable account... pleased to invite... Heh. Master Vocis, I am indebted to you. Now, to tie up my business here in time to make the journey. Crossing the road, he approaches an impressive house; two stories, proper glass in the windows, a large oaken door, and proper roof tiles off whose slope the snow has slid, creating humps on the ground on either side. The young man stands in front of the door, hesitating. He reaches up to touch the wooden pendant around his neck; then he checks himself, and knocks three times.

((He considered activating his talisman's Aura of Ennobled Presence, but decided he'd rather appear as he really is.))

A maid opens the door, and looks the visitor up and down with evident distaste. Yes? she enquires, sharply.

Good day. Is your master there? My name Antoine, from Coeris; he is meeting me before with gold-guild. I wanting half-an-hour with him speaking. With a look of suspicion, the maid nods and closes the door on Antoine.

Inside, she knocks at her master's study: My apologies, sir, but there is a young man at the door asking for "half-an-hour of your time". A most disreputable looking man, if I may say so, and his Magyar is appalling; but he claims to know you. An "Antoine, from Coeris".

The man in the study is a middle-aged man of some bearing. His clothes and furnishings are evidence of some wealth, tastefully applied. Several gold rings adorn his fingers, and paperwork lines his desk, each bearing the sign of the Honourable Guild of Gold- and Silversmiths.

Hrmph. Yes, I know the man. Isolde seems to have taken a fancy to him, God knows why. I'd best see him; it'll make a change from these complaints about the city's tax proposals anyway. Show him up. And bring us some Vodka. The cheap stuff.

And so, presently, Antoine finds himself in the study of his love's father. The two men drink each other's health, and swallow down the harsh liquor.

So. You have requested my time; I have granted it, although know that I have no desire to talk with you. But I know my daughter sees some merit in you, so I will hear what you have to say.

Antoine nods, starts to speak, then breaks off. He holds up one finger in a "wait, please" gesture, and pulls another sheet of paper from his inner pocket.

Thank you. I apologise my bad Magyar. If you please, talk a little more slowly? What I want to say is complicated, so I wrote it earlier. I read it now.

((I figure, with time to prepare, Antoine can make himself slightly more understandable with a pre-planned speech))

I think you do not trust me. Yes? This, I am familiar with. You know what I am? - Isolde's father nods, distastefully - So. My skills are a good thing for me, but there is a problem. They make me unwelcome everywhere. Your view of me is damaged.

But your daughter Isolde knows me as I am. I would like you to know me the same. Isolde's father chokes at the implication of this. Uh, no, not the same! I... I mis... mis-speak. I mean, you also see my true self. This is hard, but not impossible. If I may - uh - the words here are hard - lengthen? my shield? to you... no? Uh. There is a... a thing, a magic thing I can do which will clean your mind. If I may?

Isolde's father recoils in horror at the thought of having his mind cleaned. Merde. Uh, how to say... Oh! Wait! I have letter.

One more letter appears from Antoine's coat. It is addressed to Isolde's father, and sealed with the Imre's crest as a guildmaster. It reads as follows, in Magyar:

"Greetings, guildmate. The man before you is my apprentice, Antoine. I understand you may have some reservations talking to him - this is natural, but believe me that it in no way reflects his own character. It is an unfortunate effect of his magical talents. I imagine he has suggested that he extend to you his magical protection, that we call the Parma, as this will enable you to overcome your instincts. Please be assured that he means you no harm; the process is painless and has no detrimental or lasting effect on you.

I have explained the contents of this letter to Antoine, and he signs below in agreement to the following pledge: that if a word he says is false, that if you be in any way harmed by his actions today, then you may banish him from your guild, seek reparations of 50 guilders in the courts, and he further pledges to depart hence and nevermore court your daughter Isolde.

I suggest you give this letter over to one of your servants for safekeeping, so that there is no suspcion that Antoine could tamper with it.

Wealth be yours!
Imre Eszes"

Wordlessly, Isolde's father reads, then pulls a rope by his desk. A manservant appears, and he hands him the letter, murmuring instructions. The servant disappears, and shortly returns to stand in the corner. Hmph. Very well, then. I have never fully trusted Imre either, but the word of a fellow guildmaster is as his bond. You know what your signature assures? Do not think I will not pursue it if you should harm me. My man there will watch to ensure you do not, but he will not interfere otherwise. Come then; give me your "Parma". Let me see you truly.

Antoine reaches out; touches the man; incants briefly, and concentrates. Suddenly, Isolde's father steps back, amazed. The disshevelled, shifty man before him now stands upright; he looks normal - likable even. I... I... This is... most strange. And this is not some trick? How do I know this is the real you, and not some trustworthy image you are projecting?

You cannot. But it is me, true. Now, may we talk as men?

... yes. Please, sit.

Thank you. I talk to you of Isolde. You are knowing she loves me, yes? Do you know I love her? No? I do. She is... ah, I do not have the words. Beautiful. Careful... no - car[/i]ing[/i]. And something else. I do not know. In my home, we say "Je ne sais quoi". I ... I...

Antoine breaks off. He takes a deep breath and plunges on.

I want marry her. We being happy, I think. But you also love her. I know. And... I leave Coeris. I go to Andorra, near Espain. I want Isolde come with me. I know this hard for you. So I ask. Your... ah, c'est quoi, le mot juste? - your blessage?

Blessing. I see. Yes, Isolde does love you. I believe she would be happy with you; and I suspect she may be unhappy without you. But still - Andorra? Would you tear my heart from my chest?

Yes, sadness, I must go. I not wanting you hurt. Maybe you visit sometime? Or us visit you? My folk can go long ways easily sometimes.

...and. I think your country has custom of... uh... "dowry"? No, no - I not want it. Be easy. I... offer the other. The opposite. I have gift to you.

Antoine removes a velvet pouch from his belt, and opens it, taking out a silver brooch; a simple ring with a pin for fastening, the pin in the shape of a feather.

I make this, it take three month. For you. It... uh... graved? Grooved? Gravy? Uh... it has words inside. I copy Isolde's name, in her writing. To remember her. It is magic - while you wear, you never wetting. Even in big rain. Even in... in lake! Just - not to wear all time, OK? Then bad things.

Isolde's father turns the brooch over, admiring it. It seems to mean something to him; not the value, but the sentiment, and the realisation that Antoine has taken much trouble over it. You... have my thanks. It is a pretty thing. And my Isolde always did enjoy watching the ducks - did you know that? No? Strange how these things work. It seems I have misjudged you, sir. I give you my blessing. I trust you will make my daughter happy. I have but two stipulations - I suspect you may be leaving before the wedding? If that is so, I insist that I be told when it is, that I may come and celebrate with you. And I want letters - make sure Isolde does not forget her old father.

Thank you, sire. It will be. Letters to fill your house; and we bringing them us-selves, if we abling to.

The two men rise, and shake hands affably; then Antoine leaves in search of his lady Isolde.


((Recall that Antoine's Magyar is specialised in "with Isolde"; he speaks at level 3, not 2))

Leaving the grand town-house, Antoine turns his footsteps towards another house in which, he knows, the young ladies of the town often gather to sew and gossip. Once again he knocks, and is answered by a disapproving maid.

Good day. I look for mistress Isolde. She is there? Is Antoine.

I'll check comes the reply, and the door is shut. ((Antoine knows full well that Isolde is there, and that this is just code for "I doubt she'll want to see you".)) A few moment later, it is reopened by the same maid, who sniffs She'll see you in the drawing room. Mind you wipe your boots!

Antoine follows the maid's pointing arm to the drawing room, where stands a young lady, waiting demurely with the hands clasped in front of her. She is slightly under average height; slim, with subtle curves. Her face is gentle, with a small nose and high, well-bred cheekbones. Her eyes are a pale brown-green, and contain a spark that seems ever-ready to break into delighted laughter. Her black hair is plaited to her shoulder blades.

At the sight of Isolde, Antoine smiles broadly and lengthens his stride, hastening to embrace his lady. Before he is able to, however, he is brought up short by a meaningful glance from Isolde towards the door he has entered through, accompanied by a slight cough from that direction. Seated by the door is a rather severe-looking middle-aged lady dressed largely in black, evidently present as a chaperone[sup]1[/sup]. Antoine, how good to see you. smiles Isolde. Have you met Miss Cheperka?

Antoine nods to Cheperka. Hello Cheperka, how are you? He seems slightly put off his stride by her presence. Isolde, you are looking lovely. You always do. Uh. Is your day well?

A hint of a smile plays across Isolde's lips at Antoine's evident nonplussed-ness at the chaperone's presence. Thank you, Antoine. Yes, I have had a most satisfactory morning; Agáta has been telling us about her sister's new baby boy, and my tapestry is coming along very well. And you? How has your day been?

Also good. I met your father. We talked well. Antoine isn't intending to signal anything particular by this - he's just answering truthfully on autopilot while he adjusts to Cheperka; but Isolde picks something up. Antoine and her father have never yet seen eye-to-eye. She cocks an eyebrow.

Is that so? I am pleased. Perhaps you will tell me what you talked about sometime! Now, was there something you wanted to discuss with me particularly?

I... would like that. Very much. Soon, I hope. But yes. I have, uh, news. It... it may seem bad news, I'm sorry; but I hope... Hrmm. He clears his throat. I have had a letter from my people. Another group. In Andorra. Do you... do you know where is Andorra? It is near Spain. Between Spain and France. Mountains. He pauses to gauge Isolde's reaction thus far. Her head is on one side, curious. The mag... er... people there want me joining them. In Andorra. I... feel I should go. I am leaving Coeris. Hungary.

Isolde suddenly seems to deflate. Her eyes are moist, and her voice is only steady with evident effort as she replies. I... see. When...?

When do I leave? January, the 15. Some weeks yet. He sees Isolde starting to cry, and really does embrace her this time, chaperone be damned. Oh, Isolde, do not cry, my dear. I do not mean to leave you. She pulls back so she can see him, and asks, puzzled: But you said...? Maybe I say what your father and I talked?

Isolde's eyes widen, and she turns to Cheperka. May we have a moment? Alone? Please? Cheperka looks like she would like nothing less, but she rises and leaves, saying 5 minutes, no more.

Isolde. I love you, I believe you love me. I cannot offer you a normal life, for my talents will always mark me as different and those I love. But I hope to make you happy, and keep you... what is the word? Comfortable. I have talked to your father, and he... oh, what did he say... gives his blessing. He pauses; takes a deep breath. Isolde. Will you marry me. Will you be my wife?

Isolde really is crying now, but her mouth reveals it is with joy. Yes! Oh, Antoine, of course. Yes, yes. And my father has made his peace you? You must tell me how you managed that! Oh, Antoine, I am so happy! Come, we must tell the girls.

((We shall leave Antoine being dragged, blinking, into the company of Isolde's friends to break the news)).

[size=85]1: I am unsure whether chaperones are anachronistic here. In any case, they're funny :smiley:[/size]

Ah, romance. When you are young and stupid and believe that True Love is a real thing instead of just a Virtue in a role playing game...

Right, I believe that concludes Antoine's business in and around Coeris. Now, Antoine's chargen runs one season short of him moving to Andorra (to fit in with getting earlier players in first). I posted in the Transylvania thread:

Would that be OK - can I bring a book?

In any case, I think Antoine is OK to arrive at Andorra? Anything you want to do about his arrival?

Which book, and where do you obtain it from and how?
I am presuming you would arrive through the Portal network with a letter in hand penned by Vocis and all the details you two worked out.

I'm looking for what I hope would be a fairly common book; a low-level Summa in Cult Lore - Verditius, so he can continue to advance, opening up further mysteries if me can find a mystagogue. I'm not sure what actually constitutes "low-level" - maybe L5Q10? I could hack as low as L3, since cult-3 allows a second mystery. I'm hoping Coeris has such an item I could arrange to be copied - a Disputatio Elementari Verditio or similar.

I am not so concerned with the stats of the book. I am more concerned as to how you acquire it. Are you purchasing it? Trading a favor for it? Are you expecting a handout?
And, seeing as how your goal is to perhaps switch cults from Verditian to Valdarian, is this the best allocation of assets?

Ah, I see. I was hoping Antoine could wangle it as thanks/payment for his final season at Coeris, when he's working with Imre on a particular item requested by Poena directly.

As for the topic of the book, I see your point. I do have my reasons, though - in character, Antoine isn't seeking to join the Valdarian cult; he's looking to bring the cult back within Verditius (however, I suppose it might make sense for him to know about the group as background information). Out of character, by moving to Andorra Antoine loses easy contact with House Verditius, while gaining contact with the Valdarians; so learning Lore - Valdarians should be easier than Lore - Verditius.

I see :slight_smile:
Good point. Take the Verditius book.
Dou you have any Vis left over from the Mustering Out part of CharGen. That is the "currency" Coeris would have paid you in, which can be substituted for a book such as this.
I may allow you to go into debt if the troupe approves it and assigns an appropriate fee.

I converted all my notional Vis (from seasons' work) into real Vis (of Technique and Form), and I do have some stocks, yes. My point is that my CharGen only goes up to Summer 1234, and I leave for Andorra in Winter 1235; so I have Autumn 1234 to account for. I was hoping to claim the book for that.

However, that may be too generous. In which case, I suppose I could take Autumn 1234 as 3 pawns Vis, then spend that (and any balance necessary from stocks) on the book? Do you have any suggestions on stats, or shall I stat it myself?

A L5/Q10 book on an ability will cost 25QP, or just over six pawns of Vim vis (or only three of a Technique)
So work it out like you said and it works fine. One season plus three pawns :smiley:

((Ok, done. Character sheet edited to remove a pawn of Muto and one of Vim, and add the book.))

On the appointed day, then - January 15th, 1235 - Antoine makes the journey by portal to Andorra covenant. He steps through, and looks around; turning to the Redcap on duty[sup]1[/sup], he introduces himself:

Salve! I am Antoine of house Veriditius, lately of the Transylvania tribunal. I am expected, but I do not know my way around. Could you please inform Master Vocis that I am here?

[size=85]1: I have that right, don't I? There would be a redcap on duty?[/size]

There is always a redcap or two on duty manning the portal, checking travel papers, offering advice, and ready to sound the alarm if intruders captured the portal elsewhere and are invading us through ours. Other check pints have similar security.

And, before the change in calendar, Equinoxes and Solstices had slipped backwards towards the middle of the month. So I am pleased with your accuracy and grant you a point of confidence :smiley:

Redcap on duty is named Jack, "English Jack" to his freinds. He is not English though, he is Scottish. Maybe part English. He is a younger cousin to English Erik from Yuvall's.
Quite right. You are on the guest list. Lemme see your papers to confirm...
I shall send a messenger to summon Master Vocis.
(which he does)

I'm glad I decided to catch up on this thread. :slight_smile:

Vocis is working in his lab, occasionally turning to ask Mica for something before remembering she's off with Solomon this season. At the knock on his door, he says to Celeste We're trying the phrase from Eyes of the Cat next. Don't let me forget. Celeste nods and he heads out to answer the door.

Master Vocis, the magus you was expectin' just jumped in. Erik told me to let you know.

Vocis smiles. Excellent! Is his lady friend with him?

The messenger scratches his head and answers Didn't see one and Erik didn't mention it. Want me to run back an' check?

No need. Take me to him. He turns before leaving and says Celeste, I'll be -

- taking me with you. I'm no apprentice. Celeste hops off her perch and flies out the still open door. Vocis just shakes his head and gestures to the messenger to lead on.

Antoine has been sitting in the portal room, exchanging a few words with the guards, and he stands as Vocis enters.

Master Vocis! It is good to see you again. So this is Andorra covenant? I am glad to be here. Perhaps you could show me around?

After re-reading the Antoine-Isolde posts to refresh my memory, I now expect Isolde to be killed by a car bomb before she can leave Hungary. :mrgreen:

Vocis fights back a chuckle at Antoine's obvious excitement. Well, if it isn't Andorra, there's something wrong with the portal system and I am very lost. Welcome, sodale. I would be happy to show you around. And before I do, I welcome you into our Aegis.

Once Vocis leads Antoine out of the portal building, he says quietly When last we spoke you mentioned a...lady friend. Will she be joining you or has something gone awry?

Oh, no, nothing's wrong. Quite the reverse, in fact - I'm very glad to say that Isolde and I reached an understanding before I left, and we are properly betrothed. I even managed to bring her father round.

No, Isolde simply said she had some things to finish up in Hungary. To be honest, I'm not sure she quite trusts the portals yet; she hasn't had much experience with our kind; just me, and I haven't shown her much of what we can do yet. She plans to travel overland in a few months when the weather improves, although I hope by then I can convince her that the portals aren't a threat to her health or her immortal soul!

Then congratulations, sodale. I hope she brings you as much happiness as my Amelia has brought me. That is a perilous journey, though. Do you plan to accompany her?

I hope it won't be necessary - I hope I will be able to convince her to come by Portal. But if not, then I must accompany her, obviously. I couldn't bear to think of her braving the journey alone.

((FWIW, checking Orbis, it looks like fastest route wouldn't actually be overland, but rather oversea. Apulum to Caesaraugusta is a pretty close approximation, and would take 45 days. So if Antoine does have to accompany Isolde - I'm happy to let Marko decide whether she comes to terms with the portals - it would take up Antoine's season))