in the spring of 1203 Xahansa receives a number of replies indicating he has support in helping him to rescue his parens. Two flambeau mages from the levant- one from the covenant of Bagras and the other from Mount Hermon are eager to join in the spoils of your venture, as well the lawyer has made contact with a rival for the position of Visar of Mosul, and wishes to aid you in what he hopes will weaken the claim of the current officeholder, or at minimum prevent him from gaining the advantage of your technique. The rival asks that you meet him in a tavern in Mosul frequented by merchants, to which your lawyer appended directions on how to find the tavern in question. The two flambeau have used the arcane connection you included to arrive outside Castra Pisces, and ask hospitality (including an aegis token) while you plan your assault.
Xahansa is excited to have visitors, he grants them aegis tokens and welcome, and treats them to a decadent feast of eastern delicacies and liberal amounts of caviar.
He explains what happened, and how he tried to be diplomatic because he was not equipped to deal with the number of spirits present and the strength of the divine aura; he has been preparing for a solo assault but with assistance he doesn't want to wait any longer. He offers them each a rook of their choice of vis in gratitude for coming.
"The city is guarded by spirits who watch for spellcasting, as well as by guards who watch mundane travellers, and who it is best to assume share knowledge with our enemy, and may try to keep us out. I have a connection to the interior of the city, as well as one to the outside. I think the mundane guards would let me in, because the enemy will think I have come to offer him something, but I don't know if you will be able to pass quietly. If we're going to make a ruckus, I suggest we just go straight in to the center of the city, we will alert the spirits but the guards will take a little time to react, I think. However, I do have a friend, who has been working in my absence, and found another of these summoners who is willing to help us, to remove his rival - if we are going to work with him it would probably be best to enter subtly."
The flambeau from Mount Herman, by the name of Josephus, agrees "I would recommend hiring agents to acquire arcane connections, then we can cast from beyond the divine aura and the watchful eye of his spirits. It is too bad you weren't able to get an interview with your parens and maybe an arcane connection, then he could have been removed from outside the divine aura."
Xahansa looks shocked. "Hiring people to get connections... that never occurred to me. Though I have a feeling you can make better use of them than I'd be able to - and the thieves might be outmatched by spirits, actually. I just assumed he wouldn't let me speak to Magrim, I should have asked. You've given me an idea... maybe I can go down there and pretend to teach him what he wants, but actually just some Latin nonsense, but he won't be so paranoid about my spellcasting if he thinks I'm cooperating... and I should be able to get something from him, too."
The Flambeau shakes his head "Never follow a plan based upon the speculation of stupidity in your enemy, or it is yourself you will defeat. Do you think he will have no suspicion of this sudden acquiescence to his demands?"
Xahansa shrugs. "I'm not sure. I thought maybe he'd be so desperate to learn our secret that he might fall for it. This is my first practical experience up against another practitioner."
"If you would play on desperation do not assume it will engender trust, and your deception must be very clever. Strong desire may overcome wisdom, but it does not erase it. Perhaps we could devise an initiation, as though it were some mystery cult gift. The problems become as numerous as the benefits from such a path though, and each explanation might require further explanation for the gaps it leaves."
"I wasn't thinking of a long-term deception, just something to induce him to agree that I could do magic in the city, and perhaps allow me to see Magrim. If he agrees that I can do magic, then I think you can enter magically without putting his guard up, as long as I am nearby. I don't really think a long-term plan that leaves him alive is the best idea, he should be punished for imprisoning one of our Order. I just want him to be as off-guard as possible when we attack him."
"If that is where your strengths lie I will of course back your pan, but be wary that while they are not of the Order of Hermes these Eastern Mages can be quite wily, and are not the naive hedge witches you may be used to dealing with, and this one is more experienced and has risen to a position of great power."
"Honestly, my strengths are in the laboratory. I do have travel spells, and I can put him high in the air, without anything to support him, but in terms of direct combat I am not well-equipped." He smiles ruefully. "That's why I asked for help."
"These Eastern Wizards are very reliant on their spirits, but they can have a very wide variety of powers that the spirits provide. They aren't as good in a head to head fight and don't generally achieve the kinds of penetration we strive for. However a head to head fight means potential Quaesitors since they surround themselves with mundane power and authority. Acting as a holy knight for the crusades allowed a loophole while we were fighting the infidels, now that is sporadic at best. Your parma should be able to handle most of their attempts at direct assault, but the greater concern will be that he will kill your parens during any such assault before disappearing into the magic realm, carried there by a spirit. I have mastered spells which will help against their spirits, with an arcane connection range. Many Merinita would be horrified that the one for their faerie spirits even exists, but they employ equally spirits of magic, faerie, and the infernal."
"Other than a name, or a locale for a genius loci, is there a good way to get an arcane connection to a spirit? If it wasn't for the spirits, avoiding notice of the mundanes and breaking him out should be doable. I wasn't aware of an issue with the Quaesitores, as long as we're not getting involved in a factional war."
"It depends on the situation, but if he's in a city as opposed to in a covenant type situation or off in the wilderness somewhere we can't just go in raining fire down on our enemies. There are exceptions, but, yeah. As to an arcane connection to the spirit, not my area of specialty, so I'm not sure. I think this guys rival is likely to know a lot more about what his capabilities are, since they are from the same tradition. I assume they must have some kind of arcane connection to call them in the first place."
"Well, it sounds like trying to fool him into letting his guard down, if it works, may at least make it easier to strike at him. Though with the gift he may not be too trusting. When I spoke to him before he didn't seem heavily guarded, though, other than a spirit watching over him. I suppose the best thing would be to meet with his rival before we make too many plans - though he may assist us just to turn around and put us in the same situation, we'll have to be careful. Do you have a cover to use for entering Mosul?"
The two Flambeau look at each other. The one from Bagras rides a horse with chain barding, wears chain mail and carries a greatsword. The one from Mount Herman dresses in leather armor and carries a longbow, and arrived with no mount. The magus from Bagras simply shakes his head "I am used to military campaigns, I have no tytalus tricks to gain entry." while the other replies "I assumed a wagon cart full of whatever produce gets shipped into the city regularly."
"Probably. I'm not a Tytalus with a bunch of mundane tricks either, though. I guess I will go speak to this rival. I have this," He takes out the piece of rock he has as a mundane connection to an alley in Mosul, subdividing it into thirds with a non-fatiguing ReTe, "Assuming it's still active, you can each have a piece of it, and you can just come into the city that way, if you want. I don't know what, if anything, will happen; I just assume that there are spirits watching for magical activity, because the spirit at the gate told me not to use magic." He will make a little map of the city with the spot where his AC goes, and other relevant spots he visited. [AL:Kurdistan 8] "How are you with languages? I presume you both speak Arabic, the new lords of Mosul seem to speak Egyptian Arabic mainly."
"Not really, it has been a fashion since their capitol was moved to Egypt to speak Coptic, but none of them have taken the time to learn more than a few phrases to impress each other. A season's study of the language and you can pass for a government official amongst the rank and file, at least for long enough to scout a location. I would however advise against using magic on your connection, unless it is to fix it, or the spirits can trace it to you." The stone is still a valid arcane connection to the city.