Saga of Roberto - The Bibracte Cycle

Jonathan Link invited us to write the end to our own stories. For Roberto, I am writing it as the end of a chapter. The character shall live on in another saga. For that reason, the tale shall be of one for an alternate universe. What happens will be/is pretty much the same thing. I made three fundamental changes in order to mesh him in with the Andorra saga. I scaled down his age to his true Gauntlet in 1220, as per the Novus Mane original, in order to bring his power level down closer in step with the other characters. Second. the conspiracy metaplot is scaled down to a minor part of his background. The good guys win the day, though Roberto had little or nothing to do with it. His main focus was his epic side adventure, the Alabaster Lioness and the Tritons. Thirdly, Garus was never assassinated and Val-Negra is still "lost". But these details are irrelevant to the tale at hand. Things could feasibly work out this way for either version of the character.

Let me know what you think :smiley:

The Ruins of Bibracte
[tab][/tab]In 1227, again at the request and recommendation of Santiago, Roberto transfers to the Covenant of Mons Electi in the Ruins of Bibracte. The intent was for Roberto to investigate the attempted assassination of Garus (alternate reality) and other intrigues. He wasn't very successful at this (he is a soldier, not a detective), but his presence was a lightning rod that allowed others to resolve these issues. Alexi VonKroitsau of Flambeau exposed the crimes of Valarian of Gurnicus and Rotigers of Flambeau, and having brought them to justice, was unanimously elected Chief Hoplite of the Normandy Tribunal.
[tab][/tab]There were numerous other important events of his life during this period. He was followed from Novus Mane by a huge orange one-eyed tabby cat, one that he used to feed milk to. Surprised to see him, not knowing that he was a magical cat with the power to teleport if unobserved (as well as sleep invisibly in a fireplace), Roberto rhetorically asked if he was the same cat from Novus Mane. The cat replied "Yep, er, I mean, Meow?". With the cat's enthusiastic consent, Roberto made him his Familiar and named him Don Diaz. He quickly acquired the nickname "Cidito", and Roberto's taste for wine. Then his grog Carlos had a brief love affair with the maga Fiona, but his interest waned because of his jealousy over Korvin of Mercere. Johan took up the habit of boxing chickens and cockfights, and was embarrassed when he lost a bar fight so he took up arm wrestling. Then there was the issue with Payaso and Tranquilina and Crumcrachd and the stolen book. Knowing he was right all along gave Roberto no sense of satisfaction, just frustration. Marcus of Tytalus was ever a thorn in his side, but a wise thorn.

Odyssey of the Alabaster Lioness
[tab][/tab]Then there is the matter of the Alabaster Lioness. Roberto was approached for a request of assistance by Carmine of Flambeau, wife of the Primus Andru of Jerbiton. He gained her attention when he defeated her sister at Dimicatio during the 1227 tribunal, earning a place in the semi-finals (which he lost). Seeing how determined and resourceful he performed under pressure, she knew he was the right man for the job. And the opposition was an old enemy of his, Leolinus, whom he thought was dead (killed by Lord Soulis).
[tab][/tab]Andru had recently acquired a text concerning an ancient Egyptian artifact known as the Alabaster Lioness, supposedly some sort of "soul jar". The text was being copied, but work had scarcely just begun when a thief absconded with it one night. All that was left was a few pages and a diagram that were copied. The thief, it was learned, once had ties to Leolinus. And he dropped the knife he used to kill the watchman. They traced him to Cairo, and through there agents they learned that Leolinus was indeed still alive, and again in cahoots with the renegade sahir Jabl Tariq. Roberto agreed to help, and the only favor he asked in return was a bottle of wine of Jerez. Carmine promised him a cask.
[tab][/tab]Roberto assembled his entourage; his personal grogs and long time friends Carlos & Pedro, his almogavar hirelings Allen and Albert, a few of the grogs of Mons Electi such as Wen, Daykin, Ache, Villaume, and Miroslav. And a mysterious rabbi named Pinchas. The journey started off by using the covenant's Mercere Portal to go to Harco, then from there using another portal to Valnastium. Cidito was disappointed he did not get to meet with the King of Cat's, Andru's familiar, as they were away on other business. But they did meet up with Carmine's son Felo, who was to accompany and guide Roberto on his mission. From there they all went to Venice, where a magus named Aeolus of Flambeau was to take them all to Cairo his magical flying ship.
[tab][/tab]That's where things took a turn for the unexpected.
[tab][/tab]Johan VanHalen Junior, at that time just a young grog and tough guy, had acquired Warping and a Malediction as a result of his Encounter with the Sea Hag a few years earlier. He was afflicted with a prohibition against riding on ships with a woman aboard. Though he was magically sedated to shut him up, the flying ship mysteriously would not lift off. Roberto thought to put the lad aboard a life-raft, make it float, and tow him. It just so happened that Aeolus had a small mundane skiff, and laughed as Roberto tried and failed to make it levitate (after hearing him brag about how he flew a ship over the English channel). Aeolus knew the spell and had it well mastered, and did the trick for him. Johan woke up aboard the floating skiff in tow with Cidito sitting on his chest offering him a bottle of wine. Drinking, fuming in resentment, Johan concocted a plan to rig a sail, cut the floating skiff free, and steer the winds himself. Ever the mischievous feline, Cidito swiped a swath of sail-cloth from Aeolus' stores, and they went to work. Unbeknown to them, it was magical sailcloth. They cut the tow line, hoisted the sail, and the ship took of like a bat out of hell and plunged into the sea. Magically surrounded by a bubble of air, Aeolus explained that they were headed to meet Poseidon himself and would have to bargain for their lives and more air.
[tab][/tab]Aeolus was understandably upset with Roberto, for he claims that Poseidon is his father and that the sail was created to visit him (which was a bad experience I suppose because there is a grudge and this is another story). Anyways, once arriving at Cairo, Aelous announced his intentions to ditch Roberto and company and leave them to their own fate. Roberto tried to persuade him to be more forgiving, but Aeolus would listen to none of it. So Roberto went about setting up headquarters in a dockside warehouse, and Aelous went about filling his hold with Cargo.

[tab][/tab]Then all hell broke loose. And honestly, Roberto did not start the fight.
[tab][/tab]Agents of Leolinus, who had posed as inspectors when the ship first pulled into port (and had set off Allen's danger sense), had returned with instructions from their master. Confiscate the ship and arrest all passengers.
[tab][/tab]These two minions of villains, being by their nature incompetent, came on aggressively and started a fight without parley. Not that Roberto would have surrendered anyway. But still, the fight got nasty, for the minions each conjured an 'Afrit straight away (perhaps panicking in response to facing magi). Villaume and Miroslav were the first to die in battle, split to red ruin by swords of brass. Aeolus' ship was set ablaze and he barely escaped. Roberto managed to stun an 'Afrit with the Wizard's Touch of Cold, killed it with his sword (which then melted), and barely avoided a blow from the other 'Afrit which he then took out using a spontaneous spell and a lot of vis (and luck).. The minions conjured a pair of devil dogs, one which Carlos was able to kill, but the other tore out Pedro's throat before Johan was able to grab it off of him and break it's back. Roberto rushed to Pedro's side, and his last dying act was to give Roberto the sword he made himself. [color=red]¡Pedro! Voy a vengar...
[tab][/tab]Roberto made up the story about Pedro telling him to kill them with Kindness, coincidentally the name of the sword. Pedro had his throat torn out and was pretty much already dead, and Roberto actually had the name inscribed at a latter date. But with it, he did manage to kill both the minions.
[tab][/tab]By then the legitimate authorities began to arrive, in droves. Roberto was desperate for a plan, not wanting to combat honest men of law but unwilling to surrender. Suddenly, bursting forth from the sea, Johan VanHalen Junior and Cidito arrived aboard the skiff, now in flight under Johan's power. Thinking quickly, Roberto shot off the Pilium of Fire multiple times to strike the ground around his entourage and create a ring of fire. He then cast Wizard's Leap a few times as quickly as he could, Flexing the range to Touch, to transport Carlos, Felo, Pedro's corpse, and himself aboard Johan's ship. Aeolus teleported himself, Deykin and Ache were already captured, Allen and Wen had already gone into town and Albert managed to avoid authorities but got separated from the group. No one knows what happened to Pinchas. Roberto told Johan to fly high and away to the west, towards the Covenant of Pyramids I.

[tab][/tab]Johan explained what happened, with some help and insight from Cidito. The ship, protected by the airy bubble, was drawn down into the waters beneath the sea, deep into the Faerie Realm to Aegae, the golden palace of Poseidon (Neptune). At first the god was angered, and had Johan and Cidito brought to him in chains in a prison bubble of air. However, he was impressed with the lads audacity and courage. Johan blamed it all on riding on a ship with a woman on board, which is always bad. He further recounts how it all started with his issues with the Sea Hag, and this is when Neptune became sympathetic. The Sea Hag was also a thorn in his side and was an endless source of trouble. In fact, the hag was hiding in plain sight disguised as a courtesan in Neptune's very court! It was purely by accident and Cidito's luck that she was exposed and banished from the Middle Sea for ninety-nine years. But Johan got all the credit, and the blame. The Sea Hag gave him the Curse of Venus, but Neptune rewarded him with magical powers to sail a ship above and below the sea or on and over the land. Then he sent Johan and Cidito off coincidentally in the nick of time to rescue Roberto.
[tab][/tab]This doesn't sit well with Roberto and Cidito likes to rub his nose in it, but he respects bravery and results, so he gave Johan a battlefield promotion. Aeolus was infuriated that Johan received blessings such as this from his father and that Poseidon kept the sail. Johan promised to take Aeolus to Aegae to get the sail and that he would give the skiff back when all was said and done. Roberto started to get angry with Aeolus, still angst ridden over Pedro's death, and certainly matters would have come to blows had not Felo intervened and cooled tempers.
[tab][/tab]At the Covenant of Pyramids I, Roberto learns the true nature of the Alabaster Lioness and the plan of Leolinus. They told the Tale of the Alabaster Lioness, which is far to long to recount here. Suffice to say, Leolinus had made a bargain with a powerful spirit and was to receive great power if he would find the artifact and bring it to the Malik of the City of Brass. The fight in Cairo sent Leolinus into a panic and pushed up his timetable. He had located the jar, and lacking the time to bargain with the sorcerer who had it, he summoned demons to murder the man and stole it. Try as he might to repent, Leolinus is repeatedly forced into situations where he has to rely on the help of demons and brutal sins. Also while at Pyramids I, Pedro was given a proper burial and entombed in ancient catacombs. Oestrides of Bonisagus further gave Roberto the gift of his flying carpet, saying his visions told him he was going to need it.
[tab][/tab]The Fat Bastard was ahead of them, they had to race to try and intercept him, and off they went on Johan's magic ship. And intercept him they did. In the middle of the Sahara, they encountered Leolinus and his expedition. With him was Jabl Tariq the Infernalist sahir, another pair of hedge wizard summoners, and a band of about a dozen thugs. Roberto had Johan land his ship a few hundred yards up ahead of them while he swept down on the flying carpet to provide cover fire on his flying carpet.
[tab][/tab]The battle was fierce but brief. Roberto scattered the enemy and killed one of the summoners straight away. Leolinus magically resisted the attack and tried to hit Roberto with his mind tricks, which were deflected by Roberto's counterspell (Leolinus has demonstrated he can pierce Roberto's Parma before). Aeolus of Flambeau could not resist joining in on a good fight. The surviving summoner had conjured devil dogs, but Aeolus took both him and the dogs out with a conjured hail of fiery stones and a bolt of lightning. Leolinus tried using his magic to restore courage to his grog thus with some success. Jabl Tariq summoned a jinn, but something went horribly wrong (he botched). A furious gigantic sandstorm suddenly whipped up right on the spot. Roberto was hurtled asunder, though he managed to squeeze off a few more shots at Leolinus. A huge arm formed from the whirling sand and pulled Jabl Tariq into it, never to be seen again (so far). Leolinus was also never seen again, he may have been torched or buried in the storm. Or escaped. But he did drop the crate containing the Alabaster Lioness, which survived intact in the box and was recovered. The remaining thugs were most likely killed and swallowed by the storm.
[tab][/tab]Roberto was knocked to the ground and dazed and he was rescued by Aeolus. Possessing a ward against weather related effects (which includes sandstorms), he was able to grab Roberto and get them to the ship. Though at the edge of the storm, the ship was still in danger. Luckily Aeolus knew another weather ward that covers, naturally, an entire ship. The storm subsided and the rage of the jinni abated, then the Alabaster Lioness was recovered. Though he secretly wished to press on to the fabled City of Brass, there were more pressing responsibilities. There were grogs stranded in Cairo that needed to be extracted, he wanted Johan to take Aeolus to get his sail back, and to deliver the Alabaster Lioness to Carmine and Andru to insure it was in safe hermetic hands (and to get their son home).

Princess Soteira and the Undersea City of Heracleion
[tab][/tab]After dropping many off at Venice, Johan took Aeolus and Roberto under the sea, along with Carlos and Cidito. Aeolus looked forward to reaching their destination with eager anticipation. Roberto was curious as was Cidito. Carlos wondered why he agreed to this or was picked in the first place. Johan, though, was very nervous. He didn't really know how to get to Aegae. The sail just sort of took him there, and when he left, Johan could not comprehend the route (the path between the Faerie and Mundane Realms). He just took them down in the sea, recklessly hoping that they would find something accidently.
[tab][/tab]And he did.
[tab][/tab]They came upon an underwater city. Not a sunken or submerged city, but an actual aquatic city inhabited by merefolk (Tritons). And this city was under attack by a giant sea serpent. There were only a score of Triton soldiers remaining trying to fight it off, others had fallen in combat. Roberto wanted to take it on. Aeolus thought he was crazy, but stated he figured the best plan was to get close enough to cover part of it in the ship's air bubble and blast it with lightning bolts. Johan was recklessly optimistic about the plan, and Carlos wondered how he got talked into this. Roberto wanted to hold off on that as a backup plan, as it was risky. He wanted to go out and try to fight it hand to hand and try a spell that could affect it under water, such as the Touch of Cold or Chill of Winter. Aeolus said that was crazy because Roberto couldn't swim and didn't know a spell to allow him to breath underwater. Roberto replied he was going to use Spontaneous magic to do both. Aeolus laughed and commented how he used to have a magical trident that let you do both those things, but it was now lost underwater in his ship that caught fire and sank in the harbor in Cairo.
[tab][/tab]Then a voice behind them croaked "You mean this one?". Cidito was wet, holding the trident in his hand. He had scent marked the storeroom of that ship when he stole the sail, and can see in the dark of an underwater ship without a problem. What he can't do is swim. He doesn't like getting wet either. So he was lucky to stumble onto it right away.
[tab][/tab]Roberto took the trident in hand and it carried him through the water and allowed him to breath. He struck at the creature, but the blow was ineffective at harming it. The monster was distracted though, and his heroism and the appearance of this magical ship boosted morale and rallied the Triton soldiers. They wounded the serpent with a bold unified attack, Roberto stunned it with his cold spell, and Aeolus had Johan steer the ship in close enough to finish it off with lightning bolts.
[tab][/tab]The Tritons escorted the heroes to Heracleion where they were met by Princess Soteira, ruler of the city. She cast upon them all the temporary power to breath and speak and stay dry in her watery realm. They were given medals (sea shells), and a lavish banquet was to be held in their honor. At this banquet, Roberto fell in love with the princess as she danced with him. She returned his affections, and in the night, her love washed away the burden of the magical air in Roberto, resulting in the Gentle Gift. She is now his True Love. Carlos wrote a song about it.

[tab][/tab]After returning to Mons Electi, Roberto was continuously restless. Some of the others in his entourage felt the same way; Wen and Allen were now wed and her father didn't like it one bit, Carlos had a lingering sadness over Pedro's death and didn't have the energy for his physical relationship with the polyamorous Fiona Ex-Miscellanea, and Johan had a yearning to cut loose. Roberto often would leave for weeks at a time to visit his beloved at their favorite romantic spot, a secluded beach in Ibiza. Eventually he could stand it no longer. He indulged Johan with a slightly larger ship, gathered his entourage, and relocated to the Baelric Islands.
[tab][/tab]Roberto is the magus-Captain of the Málaga. Johan is the helmsman/pilot, Allen & Albert are marines, Carlos is first mate, Cidito is mascot, and Wen flies ahead on Roberto's carpet as a scout and herald. Roberto had nothing to do with the conquest of Ibiza by Count Peter of Urgell and the Bishop Aurembiaix of Tarragona. But he has had conflict with the pirates of the region. Twice when they were assail on the waters they were approach out of hostility. Respecting the code and being of an enlightened mindset, Roberto chose to avoid conflict and had Johan submerge. A third time, while in flight, they spotted a different set of pirates attacking a merchant ship, And in this case, Roberto spotted that pirate invaders were being carried over to the merchant ship by a whirlwing spirit, commanded by some sort of hedge wizard standing on the deck of the pirate ship making all the obvious gestures and shouts of a magician. Roberto performed a Wizard's Leap to appear right behind the enemy wizard and ran him though with his sword. He then set the pirate's ship ablaze and leapt over to the merchant ship to participate in combat and clear the pirates from that ship. This action has won him good favor with the local mundanes because of his Gentle Gift, but the rumors whispered amongst magi are tainted by Roberto's Infamous Parens, and they say some self righteous Flambeau on a flying carpet is arbitrarily setting fire to ships in the Baelric islands. The fact that there is a hedge wizard vigilante sailing around setting fire to Barbary pirate ships doesn't help.