native wildlife (fall 1220)

Nicolae has spent the summer learning the area around the covenant, and has found many interesting things. She has kept an eye on the band of fighters whom the group first encountered, and has found that they have been capturing the natives and shipping them elsewhere, bound like prisoners or trapped animals. She has watched them come out at night to gather food, and has tracked them back to a series of caves less than a mile from the covenant. beyond this she knows nothing of who they are or what their story might be, but the answers should lie within those caves...

OOC Assuming there is a report on this for the rest...

[tab][/tab]Without knowing the why or how (and more importantly where), Maffeo is shocked by these actions. Despite the probable devolved state of the natives treating them as animals is a scandalous idea. Perhaps this struck a sensitive chord close to the Mercere's heart, he privately thinks these people should be protected by the covenant (even if they steal food). Maybe he could entice them out of the cave and talk to them with some bags of foodstuff or some trinkets. He certainly thinks they should claim that raids on that cave infringes the property of the covenant. He subtly and carefully probes the opinions of the other magi and members in the covenant, starting surprisingly with Master Paphos....

(assuming Paphos is back from his journey to the Magic realm). "Hmm, it seems there are several issues here to consider. First, I believe Tomas mentioned these people from his discussion with the Sheik's men. They said something about these being pre-Roman inhabitants of these islands, dwell in caves and do not speak any tongue known. The Sheik's men capture these natives when able and send them to be workers at for the Sheik in other lands. They did not specify, but it is safe to assume the fate of these natives is to be slaves, a very common fate in Malta, I'm afraid.

There are legal issues at stake here, and for that I must refer you to the only jurist in the covenant; you must see the Fox. There are moral issues at stake, and I stand on the side opposed to slavery, for I too am a newcomer to these lands and do not wish to fall under the yoke myself. From a pragmatic standpoint, we are still heavily dependent of the goodwill of the Sheik's men, both to buy supplies from, but also to keep quiet about our activities. They mentioned they have a vested interest in keeping a low profile, a desire we share.

If the land is in our dominion, we can assert our power, but if the land is outside, our best option may to offer to buy the individuals, teach them language skills and seek amalgamation rather than confrontation. Gifts of food could be a god beginning to that.

[tab][/tab]Maffeo blinks and considers Paphos arguments "[color=blue]Slavery huh? I must confess I have not considered that, I was afraid of something more...sinister. The slaying of infidels, let alone weird, strange individuals has long been known. I was approaching this from a different direction, to my shame; Master Paphos you are more humanitarian than I it seems, and shame on me." the Mercere does a little bow towards the artisan. He takes a thoughtful pose "[color=blue]In my mind these people, the original inhabitants of Malta, have long been dwelling inside these caves, caves we strongly suspect are part of magic regios. It is quite possible there are not human any more. But consider... if they are dwellers of another realm now, barring the infernal, it would be scandalous, nay, a crime to treat them like this, as animals and things to be killed off! This kind of attitude, encroaching, capturing and purging, is partly responsible for the reduction of magic across the land..." unsaid is that most of the destruction is caused by the Church, Maffeo does not know the religious convictions of Paphos at this point and wants not to offend.
[tab][/tab]"[color=blue]I take courage from your counsel, I will indeed talk to the knowledgeable vulpine." he grins showing his youth. Maffeo is quite delighted by all the fantastic animals in this covenant, almost like an exotic menagerie. "These people me thinks are worth protecting, studying and definitely helping. They could hold knowledge of this region we could gladly have or strange mysterious powers. I think Euthymios would want to get a good look at them, what with his research on long term exposure to magic currents; May hap the lady Terra would too. For certes Antonius would want them saved, but he would probably also want them Christened, haha." the Mercere laughs uneasily, still being a bit afraid of the Bonisagus. He thanks Master Paphos and goes in search of Vulpus to explain the situation and ask for help. Mentally he is thinking how he could help these savages in a small way, maybe a bag or two of food and blankets left at the entrance tonight, but he is scrupulous enough not to burden the Covenant. He determines that these provisions should come out of his own meager purse, maybe he could send someone to buy them from a village today or tomorrow, or maybe buy them from the Covenant's stores. On that note, there is need for a quartermaster too....

eventually you find Vulpus at the edge of the tent camp. From the scattered feathers, he has just finished a chicken lunch. As you have been assuming the duties of quartermaster, you may recall that the covenant gamekeeper, Ismael, has been working as a servant for the past season, leaving his rabbits and chickens less cared for... He hears you out while fastidiously cleaning blood from his fur. "Aha, a consultation! Very well, since your are asking me to exercise my knowledge, the price of this shall be one hours discourse on the subject of Philosophy, although we could also discuss movements of the planets instead (Artes Liberales) should you prove woefully ignorant of the Fathers of Modern Thought.

Assuming you agree to his price, he will review the contract to determine if the land in question falls under covenant control, and if there was any fine print about the cave dwellers.

"If the land does not belong to the covenant, I'm afraid we will have no immediate legal discourse. If you follow Paphos suggestion to buy the dwellers, you will technically be participating in human trafficking unless you can cloak the action as a ransom. Just a thought. Also we know nothing about these people, perhaps some observation would be in order before any action was taken? Besides Nicolae, I can easily help with this, perhaps even to the extent of learning their language?

Terra arrives late to the meeting with the fox, gathering Vita and the Walking Atlas. Vita will participate in the discussion of Philosophy and planets despite the fact her insights into philosophy are quite inane. "In truth the laws we should be most concerned about are Hermetic.. If these slavers are dealing with creatures of a magical nature I believe a clear argument could be made they have voided any claim to being mundane, and are endangering potential magical power giving us grounds for defense as well. If these are just natives living in caves we should try to protect them, likely by luring them onto our land so we have excuse protect them."

The caves lie outside the area granted to the covenant, though you can see it from the top of the new wall.

Ha! No more so than those of a self righteous fox. If he hadn't just eaten he probably would expound on the natural order of the world, especially the Platonic Forms of Predator and prey. Looking at her sheet, although she is not much of a philosopher, Vita is actually better educated than most (read, practically all) other members of the covenant.

OOC Q_Q (young Mercere runs out of the tent crying, being bullied by animals is so unfair)

[tab][/tab]Maffeo barely makes the hour, tormented by the two animals discussing philosophy and astrology. At some point, quite early, he started losing what exactly they were talking about, and in few short minutes was completely lost. Human pride being what it is, the young man decides to spend more time with Julia and Cheech...
[tab][/tab]After hearing the "legal" advice of the vulpine, Maffeo is certain that facing the whole endeavor straight forward will not do. He still thinks a first contact and perhaps observation should be done. Therefore he will try to find those supplies to leave in front of the cave entrance as a gesture. As for the language idea of Vulpus, he too would be interested to learn it... provided the natives are friendly of course. The Mercere goes on to make the provision bags....

As Maffeo is packing the provisions he hears a voice from the darkness, "Pack them a chicken. Everybody likes chicken." Vulpus will pad silently out of the shadow. "I'd like to come with you and observe. While my focus may be philosophae, I am also somewhat of a linguist. A pre-roman people might even speak one of the theorized proto-languages such as Cainite of Hamite. I could probably even identify Semitic if I can get a large enough vocabulary sample."

Vulpus plans on hiding nearby the drop point not only with his natural stealth, but also by using his One With My Shadow power. He'll drag Tartessos along as backup, even though Tartessos would much rather be asleep (problem with having a nocturnal familiar).

[tab][/tab]Maffeo just looks at the fox. He has a pretty good suspicion who likes chicken, as the savages are known to steal goats or sheep most of the time. He sighs then puts in some roasted chicken too. Chances are there wont be any appearance this night or the next, but maybe sometime inside the week. Still, leaving the fox alone would be dangerous, Maffeo will also have one of the guards posted on that stretch of the wall to watch over it...

The bag of food is left outside the wall, with the wolf and Maffeo watching over it, and a guard watching over them from afar. Maffeo has nodded off, not being prepared for a sudden duty as night watch, when Vulpus spots one of the people at the bag, slowly lifting it from where it was set. The man notices the canine looking at it and freezes, looking just to the side of Vulpus, the way you would watch an animal when trying not to confront it.

Unknowingly to Maffeo and Vulpus, Nicolae was keeping guard with them, circling around them in the dark night sky. It was the new moon, and men could see only a few feet in front of them, but it was not a problem for a bat. All the while, after chasing a few mosquitos to keep his reflex sharps, he spotted something moving on the ground not far from Vulpus and Maffeo.

Nicolae like Vulpus, even though they were polar opposites; Vulpus the fox who acted like a man, and him, the man that would rather be an animal.

"Things are simpler for when you are an animal", he thought. "Rules are harsher but fairer, the predator will hut and kill the prey, but the prey can always escape or fight back. There is no God given right, only survival of the strongest, and... freedom, freedom to go wherever you please and freedom to do as you please." He hated slavery, be it against animals or men, as well as cages and prisons, because it was the antithesis to what he held the dearest. He knew that he would find a way to stop the slavers; he would not let it go on, not on his territory.

As he was flapping his leathery wings and approaching the ground fast, he started to morph into a large and muscular feline, which landed on the ground gracefuly, almost without making a sound; a lion, another nocturnal predator. He approached Maffeo, Vuplus and the stranger stealthily, but soon glowing yellow eyes appeared. He stopped, blocking the stranger's retreat, and let out a muffled growl.

Terra will join the "watch" as well, but she will dose off [strike]with Maffeo, doing her best to be close[/strike]. The Atlas doesn't quite have that same issue, and it uses its page markers to pull itself for a better view.


[tab][/tab]Maffeo is not dozing off... he is soundly a portable bed or ranch... inside a hastily erected but comfortable tent near the wall (inside our perimeter), with clean sheets, plump pillows and a second blanket if it gets chilly, with all the creature comforts around him. The Mercere is slightly snoring in peace, while foxes, lions, books and other things that go bumping in the night play their version of mexican stand-off. The watchman-guard has orders to wake him up if and only if something important happens. He would rather approach the natives cautiously and in slow steps than capturing and interrogating them...

Vulpus is not there for a confrontation; he just wants to see how the dwellers react to the food, and possibly listen to their language back at the cave. He will fade into the night using the One With My Shadow power until only his eyes are left, gazing intently at the dweller. Then those eyes will blink and vanish. He hopes Nicolae will not scare the dweller too much.

The man turns from where Vulpus disappeared, eyeing the spot where he stood before he spots Nicolae as a lion. He nods slowly, muttering something that you cannot quite make out. He looks into the bag and finding the chicken lays it down in what appears to be a gesture of offering before Nicolae then attempts to back away back to the cave.

Nicolae will take the chicken between its pointy teeth, and then follow the man into the cave, walking by his side as non threatening as a lion can be. The rom hopes that the primitives have domesticated animals who might know what language the men speak.

Whether the man walks or runs, Vulpus will follow along as silently as he can, staying in the shadows so his own does not betray him.

The Atlas will nudge Terra, The cave person. He's getting away. Don't let him escape. Go! Go! it whispers. Terra picks up the book and moves at a brisk walking pace. The book whispers to run, but Terra just woke up nor does she want to spook the man.