In which Roberto Roberto travels to Hibernia to meet the Woad and give him a ride back to Andorra to help with the Ancient Discovery expedition.
The (place where The Woad can be found) stands in the distance, the mist of morning hanging thick in the air. A swarthy soldier stands in the field, staring into the gloom. Astride him stands a one-eyed orange tabby cat.
meow You sure this is the right place?
As sure as I can be. It matches the description in Santiago's letter. Never been to Hibernia. Everything looks the same to me. Mile after mile of the same rolling green hills. Damn it is cold up here! I should have brought my cloak.
The pair walks up to the building and the man pounds on the door. The door creeks open.
Greetings. How may I help you?
My name is Roberto Rodriguez of Flambeau. I am here to meet a gentleman named Woad. I believe he is expecting me.
Roberto has arrived at the Hibernian covenant of Circulus Ruber, a great tower with a red circle painted around the circumference half way up. He is brought before an older magus, burly and grizzled, who introduces himself as Torc Dubh an Flambo in oddly accented Latin:
“Salve sodales. Santiago said you would honour us with a visit. The Woad is out and about, but is set to return from Lambaird soon enough. Please join me at the parapet to look.”
In the far distance a sharp eyed sentry spots an approaching traveler on foot, keeping a brisk pace. Nearing the gate he has not paused or slowed down. He has the bearing of a warrior, and carries a long spear nonchalantly over one shoulder.
At first glance he looks average and unimpressive, but on closer look he seems fit, tough, and wiry. Reddish dark hair is long and bound, he sports a neatly groomed beard, now long after weeks on the road. He wears foreign looking clothing, woollen and inappropriate for the Iberian climate, but highly suitable for the frequent rains here.
Once inside the tower he immediately comes to talk to his pater and the foreign guest. He has brooding, indeterminately blue-grey coloured eyes, his face shows no emotion as he bows slightly.
“Salve Sodales, the Woad is honoured to finally stand before a magus of Andorra. The Woad, Filius Torc Dubh an Flambo, offers his services such as they are. Your renowned sodales Santiago believed this would be of interest? The Woad understands you stand before a long and dangerous journey, in contest with an enemy?”
Roberto raises an eyebrow questioningly.
Greetings Woad. I am Roberto, and this is my Familiar, Cidito. El gato gordo.
The cat sqints his one eye at Roberto.
I wouldn't call it dangerous by my standards, but it will be a challenge. The opponent I faced knows how to fast cast in silence, and I expect that we will have to face him again in this. You are an unknown to the enemy. This will give us the advantage of surprise. Santiago taught me that victory is in the preparation. But it is difficult to prepare for what you do not know. I have a ship waiting (at the local port) to take us to Andorra. I didn't bring it here because I don't want to freak out the locals. I brought my flying carpet with to take us to the ship. The overcast sky made it easy to slip in unnoticed. I am presuming it will clear up as the day goes on, so I would prefer to wait until dark to leave. In the meantime, I humbly request hospitality. Dinner perhaps? I brought with a bottle of wine from Burgundy that I am glad to share with you.
Roberto sets his napsack down and withdraws a bottle of wine. Cidito stands upright, like a cartoon cat, and digs his jacket out of the bag.
The Woad finds that he now speaks in blue
The Woad smiles slightly, and has a look of happy anticipation on his face
The Woad would be pleased to offer hospitality and share a meal with you, please come to the magi's dining hall. I know a well hung elk has been prepared for tonight. This luxurious wine you have brought should go well with tonight's feast. It will be a nice change from our local ale, which might seem crude to southern tastes. Until dinner is served, may the Woad introduce you to a few of Circulus Ruber's senior magi? There are a few of our House which would like to greet you and hear news from abroad.
He gestures to a staircase leading to a dining hall one floor down. Small round tables and comfortable chairs litter the room in a disorderly fashion. At the table closest to the heart sit 3 very old magi, speaking utter gibberish - which is likely the local Irish language. The Woad introduces Roberto to Praeco Milvia maga of Boinisagus, Chief Quaesitor Visoturpis magus of Guernicus, and former Praeco Conan Derg magus of Merinita. They seem awfully informal for such old and important magi, but but treat the Woad like a reckless child: "Off to trouble again you are?"
The Woad apologizes in advance. Our Hibernian tribunal have traditions and culture that may seem archaic and even uncivilized, however that is our way. The recent influx of English magi whi have followed in the wake of - or perhaps led - the mundane invasion does not sit well with the more...traditional magi.
The old magi nod in agreement
Still, they know there are magi from beyond England, which have noting to do with that.
A the table near a window, overlooking the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, where the rugged coastline is mercilessly pounded by the Atlantic Ocean, a woman looking to be in her mid 30s, dressed like a warrior of old, sits with a flask and cups in front of her.
May the Woad make introductions? Roberto, this is Cliodna an Flambo (pronounched CLEE na) from Lambaird covenant, where the Woad has been since his Gauntlet. Cliodna, this is Roberto from far away Andorra. The Woad shall lend his assistance to Roberto in a great and exotic adventure
Elk? I don't think I have ever tried elk. Sounds interesting!
And greetings to all of you. Salve sodales.
I do thank you Woad. And I don't find ale to be crude or anything. I am not as pretentious as some magi tend to be. And I am not unfamiliar with the north. I spent my early years at the covenant of Novus Mane, on the coast of the Netherlands. Never had trouble with the English. Except maybe a pirate or two. But those Norman magi, a lot of them are jack holes. Drove me nuts.
Roberto walks with The Woad to be introduced to the maga by the window.
The view of the cliff and the sea, breathtaking! When the sun disperses the clouds, this is indeed a beautiful country. Greetings Cliodna, I am Roberto bani Flambeau. Bani is a fancy way of saying "of". Lots of southerners say "ex" instead, which I think is stupid and confusing. I like the way Woad said it, you are "an" Flambeau. Kinda like this guy is "The" Woad.
I am guessing from your outfit that you are older than you look. Me too. I look like in my 40's, but I am just past fifty. No longevity yet. Just diet and exercise, until I have children. As an old soldier, I am intrigued by your armor. What style and era is that?
Elk is just a big deer. A really big one.
Really Roberto, is it considered appropriate to ask a woman’s age down south?
She smiles mischievously
But it is no secret that I’m in my second decade past Gauntlet.
My armour is in the style of the ancient heroes at the time of Eire’s birth. It is an artifact, an heirloom granted to me by the King of the Eagles, as a gift upon inviting me into their clan.
Cliodna makes more pleasant conversation, equally passionate about telling an interested Roberto about Hibernia as she is hearing Roberto speak of the world outside Ireland. But eventually she politely cuts the conversation short.
The Woad, I enjoyed our little hunt, but I really must get back to Lambaird, before the Caillach comes out. If you ever stop spoiling horses we can ride uniting together. Roberto, I am pleased to meet you. Please come visit us at Lambaird some time, we are a Flambeau covenant. But be advised, Hibernia has different traditions that you could ever imagine
The Woad is always pleased to be in your company Cliodna. He will leave Hibernia’s green shores but will see you sooner than later.
Cliodna leaves, Roberto can see her from the window, riding away at the speed of wind, sure in the saddle.
The Woad will be glad to hear stories of this enemy we are facing.
Roberto shrugs with a smile. I never asked, I just made a guess that you are older than you look. I do apologize for my manners. But I am not the sort that lets manners stand in the way of obtaining facts.
He pours her a cup of wine.
places I have been...
Iberia are the lands I am most familiar with. This is the first time I have been to Ireland. I resided for a time in the Normandy Tribunal, Novus Mane and Bibracte. Saw some action in Paris. I have seen a tiny bit of Stonehenge and the Greater Alps. I am somewhat familiar with Provencal. I have adventured in Egypt a few times. Been to the City of Brass. And my beloved Sotiera is queen of Heracleion, off the coast of Alexandria under the sea. Let me think..., I did go to Thebes once, Scotland too. Where else? I think I am forgetting something, but that mostly covers it. I do want to visit Ultima Thule some day. And the Holy Land. That would be interesting. Maybe make a pilgrimage of it.
I will be glad to visit you some day. And do not worry, I am not one who is obsessed by the traditions of magi.
You will be fully debriefed at Andorra, much better than I am able. I mostly remember the enemy that I faced. A rogue Tytalus magus, who specialized in Perdo Corpus, He was a fast caster and a silent caster. Clever trick indeed! I do not know if his spells were designed without incantations, or if he discovered a new feat of mastery. I do have one spell I designed to be sillent, which makes it much harder to cast and reduces penetration, so that is probably not what he does. A special mastery feat though, that would be a minor breakthrough. And something I would be very interested in learning!
See, I am an aficionado for Mastered Spells. Not that big on enchanted items. Easy to loose, and they are more hassle than they are worth. In my opinion. I may make a Talisman of my ring one day. I have invested a lot in my Familiar, but he is a person and not an item. He saved my ass on more than one occasion.
This Tytalus magus, he is a potent foe. I am humble to admit that he did kick my ass but good. But I beat the shit out of him as well. So we are about even in strength I suppose. I have no shame about taking all the help I can get. I think like a soldier, not a champion. There is strength in numbers.
Cliodna's final comments before she takes her leave is:
Ha! I assure you I take no offense, I am merely jesting. Such petty matters are for the mundane and the narcissistic. Magi are often older than they look. In a soft voice Even those three old coots.
Anyway, I wish I could see more of the world, but it is not in the cards right now. Once the situation stabilizes here, I might take a tour.
Afterwards, the Woad is happy to talk shop:
The Woad follows your line of reasoning, he too has developed a fondness for mastering spells. Sadly, as but a recently Gauntleted magus, there has not been sufficient time to fulfill the ambitions. Spells are great tools - no - more than tools, they are the finely honed expertise of our craft. Objects break or grow dull, sadly, if not cared for. But skills are as sharp as one trains them to, every day, every year.
The Woad has as his most, in fact his only, prized possession this spear. It was won relatively early is his apprenticeship, caught in a regio on a mission for his pater. A mission presented as a punishment for the Woad's youthfull follies, bit likley meant as a lesson. The Woad firmly believes it is the spear of legendary hero Lugh, and it is of superb workmakship. His pater is not so sure, though. After Gauntlet, when the Woad was as Lambaird covenant, he invested what little vis he had in order to enchant the shaft. It was subsequently attuned as a Talisman, and enchanted with supernatural durability, from a laboratory text graciously lent to me by Cliodna, as a trade for the Woad's time hunting Norman raiders. The Woad finds it exceedingly useful to be able to extend his touch for magic used in combat.
The Woad is ready to face the challenge, but enters battle with a clear mind and without delusions of superiority. He knows his youth sets limits.
Speaking of which...
As Roberto chats with Cliodna, Cidito pulls up a chair and sits with the trio. He pours himself some wine, offers the bottle, then he sits and listens to their conversation. He has the gift of tongues, but he is not a spy. He is being sorta obvious without even trying to be.
Afterwards, the Woad is happy to talk shop
(poison daggers, battle axes)
Roberto smiles. He loves to talk shop
I can help you in that. I am mentoring two students back at Andorra. One is a young maga who earned a battlefield gauntlet and needs more training. The other is the apprentice of our Pontifex, Lucien. I would have taken him as my own, but I was not yet skilled enough in the Arts then. I am now. Just about.
I wouldn't get all stuck up like a journeyman/master sorta thing. I help you, you help me. I am really into learning and inventing spells. I tricked my lab out to maximize my efficiency. Not for high level spells. I know a few. But I like to try and figure out two or three of them at a time.
You are a Flex magic type, right? My amicus, Wirth, he used to design his spells in such a way that you had to flex them while casting! He really optimized on that. He taught me a way, rather I sorta figured it out, that I could mater spells to flex them. I taught him what I figured out, and for him he could flex them even further! Amazing. Also, I taught a Mercere covenant mate how to use this mastery effect. Lucas. He then taught me his Vis boost trick.
No demasiado. You don't have to go nuts like I do. Just a few tricks in your bag. But I will straight up give you a season for season in exchange.
Wait, Cidito is a cat - does he shapeshift?
Anyway the three don’t mind a guest. They acknowledge him, but continue their conversation. They speak Irish and even with the Gift of Tongues there are some incomprehensible words and terms which bear no translation. They speak of events over a century ago, about which young people made what trouble for whom, who overreacted and who had to step in and settle things.
Apparently apprentices nearing their Gauntlet traditionally undergo their ‘beardless years’, where they are let out to find themselves. They are not bound by the Code since they are the responsibilities of their parentes. But they are protected against other magi because they are the property of older magi, often powerful and well connected. Without knowing the secret of Parma Magica they are vulnerable and suffer the effects of other magi’s Gift.
Many young magi venture into the restricted westernmost province of Connacht, which by treaty belongs to the native non-Hermetic traditions. Hermetic magi are forbidden to go there and the hedgies are offered rights to attend Tribunal.
Others amicably raid established covenants and pilfer resources, which are ransomed back for a pittance or returned once used or studied if devices or books.
This period serves to let the apprentice find his identity or form a reputation.
Hibernia is indeed a strange place.
Sort of. Not really. He has anthropomorphic qualities. He has a bond empowerment that disguises his disfigurments, but as a result of "extraordinary" Lab results, it makes him look, how to say it, caricatura?
Yeah, but pulling up chairs and pouring wine, that usually requires hands
The Proper Beast
0 points, Init +1, Animal
R: Per, D: Sun, T: Ind
Cidito can take on human-like features, such as being able to walk upright and hands that can use tools. But this is by no means a human form and he is still obviously a cat. Indeed, though unnatural, the change cannot be noticed unless he is walking upright or using his hand (or his paws are closely examined, think "Puss in Boots" or "Garfield").
MuAn20 (base 5, +3 Constant)
Personal Power (20 levels), Improved Power, 2pnts (-2 cost)
He is vain and always makes Roberto activate the cartoonish appearance. The crones can see his true form, a mangy fat cat with huge scar on the left side of his face, scared over missing eye, chunk out of his ear. With the bond power, cartoon cat. Lab Warping. The coat and eye patch are real. Looking handsome is an illusion.
MuIm21 Disguise of the Transformed Image (Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, five levels Bond Maintains, six levels for fifty uses per day), Effect Expiry of 70 years; Roberto can disguise Cidito as any other cat, but generally it is used to disguise the cat’s battle scars and disfigurements, indulging Cidito in his preferred self image. Imagine Kosp as an orange tabby (including coat and an eye patch). The image is obviously magical and cartoonish.
Poisoned dagger and battle axe indeed. Or flaming, invisible, or self moving swords.
Yes the Woad practices Flexible magic. It is incredibly useful to be able to use one’s spells designed for Voice range as either Touch or Sight as needed be. The Woad prefers to fight up close and personal, using the spear of Lugh, and using magic for an edge.
With Hibernias tradition for frequent raiding and liberal use of Wizard Wars, although less deadly than in other places, fighting without killing a fellow magus is preferable. Inflicting a half dozen small, bleeding wounds really limits the enemy’s will to fight back.
But on a grander scale of plans, the Woad's ambitions are to learn very powerful spells of natural disasters
The Imaginem effect:
The three old magi - two male and one female - like that. Their moods, already good, are improved even further by this pleasant distraction. "Now there is something you don't see every day" remarks the one-armed magus Merinita. The Quaesitor however seems to remember some sort of antropromorphic beaver some time ago, perhas half a dozen decades.
Ah, that would the dinner bell you can hear - it is actually an old bronze cauldron being beaten on by our deaf kitchen boy. The roast elk should arrive soon. I fear most of the covenant's resident magi are either away or very busy, including my pater Torc Dubh. It was fortunate that Cliodna was here, even just briefly, so you could speak with another of our House. The Woad knows House Flambeau draws its illustrious history from Provence and Iberia, and that we are also well represented in Normandy. But our House fits well in Hibernias culture as well! Had we more time here, the Woad would happily have shown you how things are done by Hibernian tradition. There are many differences from what the rest of the Order considers proper. We are indeed the Conflicted Isle, but are ofte mistaken for barbaric thugs locked in infight. The Woad will happily elaborate. And if things go well in Andorra, after being settled in for some years he will take his new sodales on a tour of Hibernia. It should be of special interest to other magi Flambeau.
Dinner is eventually served, in the form of an expertly roasted elk of impressive size. And I have no idea what sides they would have eaten in Ireland before the discovery of the potato
As for the further steps in our journey, the Woad understands you have a ship waiting nearby. It will be in the port of Galway, the bay of which these cliffs overlook. After dark it can be dangerous even for magi to roam this countryside, which is haunted by the Cailleach - an evil faerie hag. Usually one merely has to deal with her minions. But if we're going by flying carpet it is not an issue. The Cailleach is powerful and seeks to destroy us, but is kept from the covenant by the Aegis of the Hearth. Whether she is too powerful to banish or merely inconsequential to senior magi - if one keeps away - the Woad does not know. When asked about, the reply is always "The Cailleach has always been here". She does keep stray wanderers away.