The city of Mdina is the capitol of Malta, and a moat and thick walls are resent to keep out intruders, though currently the brunt of that job falls to the two soldiers at the open gate keeping an eye on the people moving in and out of the town.
Our fearless leader has a sense of humor, and grew up in the 80's!
I believe this group is Paphos, David, Nicolae, and Zoltan, with Garcin in the Temple crew, but Bangahwangah is free to choose whoever he wishes, just let us know. If the caravan still has any horses (used initially to draw the wagons), they likely borrowed a few to speed their way.
As the group approaches Mdina, Paphos will keep up a running commentary of the architectural features and their probable history. The trio probably feigns polite interest, but might see or hear a tidbit of some minor note. To them all the buildings look the same, squat square yellow brown domiciles with the occasional decorative carving. Under Paphos narration, the otherwise drab buildings slowly start to come alive, almost glowing gold in the sun, highlighting subtle yet tasteful decoration sometimes missed by the wandering eye.
As the quartet nears the central marketplace, they find a place to tether the horses. Nicolae speaks to them for a moment giving instructions not to leave with anyone else. When the horses are settled, Paphos speaks to the rest.
"I need to see whether a few people are in town, or not. If I can find a friend, they can give us further direction and possibly an introduction at court. I should be no more than an hour. In the meantime, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the area and possibly avail yourself of the delights in town square."
Paphos will use his Social Contacts (artists and patrons) virtue, finding one on a simple presence roll of 6+. Pre 2 means he needs a 4+ to succeed.
Unfortunately he rolls a 2, and does not find anyone currently available. He will return in an hour to meet the others.
David will do what he frequently does in a strange place. He will look for a merchant selling boos, or a bookbinder, or similar. Assuming he can find them, he will engage in conversation, first about books and the book trade, and then about conditions, particularly government, on Malta.
The travel to Medina had been uneventful and Nicolae listened inattentively to Paphos as he described the various buildings they encountered, mostly smiling and aquiescing from time to time; he had never met someone with such a passion for architecture, except maybe for that beaver he had encountered in 1209 in Rus. That beaver was as gregarious as he was proud of both his dam and logde, and instisted that Nicolae visit them. The middle-aged Rom had fond memories of that evening, and for a while he daydreamed about running in the vast wilderness of Rus again. To be honest, he had never really understood why people would put so much effort in a shelter; Nicolae was happy as long as he was dry and well fed, the rest didn't really bothered him. All the comfort that came with being sedentary, had been a price he was not willing to pay, until somewhat recently.
As they approached the gates, the gates, the guards let them through without asking too much questions, probably because they were speaking in italian between themselves, which was the language of most of the nobility of Malta, and also because the clothing of David and Pahpos denoted wealth, Nicolae thought at the time. As the were waiting, Nicolae brought some bread as throwed crumbs at pigeon that were in the square. While waiting for Paphos to return, he tried to engaged with them in a conversation, asking about what they knew of the people of Mdina.
(I am not sure how to apply the malus of a divine aura to animal ken. The score of animal ken is supposed to represent the fluency in the language animals speak. However, is the hostile aura penalty to magic supernatural abilities applies to the score itself, hence the fluency, or only to the ability total. I will need a ruling on that silveroak. If it is the former, it would mean that I would basically never be able to speak to animals in city, and that animal ken 11 vould be required to speak fluently to animals in a divine aura of 2, 14 in a divine aura of 3, etc.)
(I roll to see how well i speak pigeon in a City: +2 Com +5 Animal Ken, -23 divine aura, +1 or +29 depending if it is a stressful situation or not. I am not sure if being in a hostile aura counts as a stressful situation tbh)
(If it is successful, i roll to see how the pigeons are disposed towards me: Animal handling instead of charm: +2 Com, +5+2 animal handling, +7 die roll)= 16)
Being in a divine aura, in a strange city, under somewhat urgent circumstances, and with Nicolae being somewhat hostile to ities in general, and the fear of looking sill talking to animals in public (or worse, accused of witchcraft) I believe as a combination situation would qualify as stressfull.
The pigeons are very pleased to meet you and enjoy your tales of foreign lands. Their understanding of politics is quite limited, but they know where traps are set in the city for the pigeons who try to feed there and may wind up as food themselves, and where the best scraps are thrown out. Extrapolating that goo scraps means wealthier diners, she is able to discern where a couple of the better heeled tavers are as well as a general idea where the general area of governance takes place.
The local bookbinder is happy to meet a book aficionado, and as conversation turns to politics you find he is fairly happy with the recent changes- new laws need to be bound in new books after all. He tends to keep track of politics in terms of orders rather than territories, however.
Zoltan, who's wearing a locally made turban and light cloak to hide his brand and combat equipment, wastes no time in heading towards the seedier parts of the city. Walking down the crowded alleyways of the city, he's rather overwhelmed by the different smells and sights so different from his native Hungary. Finally, he stops at an inn. There he has the chance to make a series of helpful observations, in between rowdy drinking bouts with the locals and foreign mercenary/pirates.
Perception+Carouse+10d = 1+3+7 = 13, just under a very hard success (yay!)
I used dice v2.2 - RPG dice roller from my computer.
In the course of the discussion, David tries to determine whether the laws he is binding are just for the city, the island, or the island cluster. Also who is making the laws (probably end up with the name of the clerks who bring the binder the material, but should be able to figure out where they work at least.)
Also chat with him about unusual manuscripts, odd writers, and that sort of thing.
Zoltan manages to not only fiind out information about the ruler of Mggar, he manages to find out which tavern he frequents from a man who won a fairly nice purse from him at a game of cards. It would appear the land is ruled by a Sicilian nobleman in his late teens who spends more time gambling, drinking and whoring away his disposable income than managing his estate, when he isn't spending his time drunkenly insulting the Muslim population.
The laws appear to cover the entire Island cluster, as to unusual books he soon realizes the stranger being discussed is a magus who passed through after leaving the caravan...
Paphos will return to the central market a bit late after his fruitless search and join up with anyone else that is there. Does Count Henry have a seneschal or autocrat who handles business while the Count is off plundering the innocent?
He has rather a series of ministers rather than one autocratic figure. Minister of taxes, minister of roads, Minister of low crimes, minister of land rights...
Seems the others are not yet back from their carousing, so Paphos will go see the Minister of Land Rights and see what he can find about the three temple sites (Tarxien, Hagar Qim and Skorba) as well as checking up on any gossip around court, such as it is.
The minister is busy this afternoon, but you might be able to schedule a meeting with him sometime in the next moth, maybe sooner if you are willing to pay a gratuity to his secretary.
"I'm sure there's no need to waste the time of such a powerful and busy man, perhaps you could help me directly?"
I'll accompany this with a bit larger than usual gratuity (Etiquette + Pre roll, maybe?). Among the usual small talk, I'll try to find out the following:
Who is in charge of the three temple sites?
If there is a local lord, can the Count's court exercise control anyways ("Such a powerful man SURELY could....")
How well would the idea of a hospital be received by the Count's Court, given the common injuries associated with the Count's, ahem, "activities". Would the Count himself be interested in sponsoring a hospital?
I want to establish the idea of the caravan as a group of scholars and a charitable institution, not a tax source to be milked.
(do we know what order of magnitude a bribe would likely be? 0.1 silver lbs? Also, do we know how much money the companions have? I know you worked it out carefully for the magi.)
Paphos has a purse FULL of handwavium coins!
This is a man who probably makes- officially- 2 pennies a day, which means 60 pennies a month, a bribe would probably normally be about 10% of that assuming bribes of this sort are part of the culture given how freely he brought it up, so six pennies should do for the bribe, 8 if you want to be sure and get his attention.
there are 240 pennies to the pound.
The Tarxien site is granted under terms of surrender to an aL Faquesh family, it is currently listed as grazing land with no signifigant population centers.
The land at Hagar Qim is listed as 'unused' at the current point in time, and falls under the crown of Malta.
The man believes a hospital would be well received, he is simply uncertain how well.
( i am still waiting in the square with the horses)
David returns to the square, commenting that
a) they apparently have taken to writing lots of laws
b) apparently one of our colleagues sold some books on his way out of town. I ddi not find out if any of it was material we would like to have.
"Thank you for your time, you have been most helpful. I confess, I have grown to love these islands and am trying to convince my colleagues to stay here. I think I might be able to convince them to stay and open a hospital, but I confess I am not sure. Regardless, I am sure we will be able to do further business with an understanding fellow such as yourself."
Give him a coupla more coins...
"I look forward to our future business."
Paphos will return to the square.
I noticed that the minister didn't say anything about Skorba - was that intentional?