Spring 1221 Chapter 1A: Death and Taxes

Cygna, after a pretty weak attempt at bargaining with the couple (Com 1 + Bargain 0 + die roll of 2 =3), will agree to a price for the rooms, with meals delivered to the room with the double bed (to avoid Hiems having to deal with people, and vice versa) until [color=red]"at least Friday".

Once they've had a chance to see the rooms, Cygna will tell the grogs that they'll be taking the one with the bunks.

She will look over the "main bedroom" with Hiems. [color=red]"I assume you'll be taking the bed?" she says.


Agreed. This baron definitely takes the covenant's gold for granted, and considers us to be at his service. I doubt it'll be long before he asks us for magical services. We must end that.
Although, to tell the truth... Is he informed of our coming? Maybe it's just the guard being ignorant?

Very much, yes, although so long as you're well installed, I'll make do with whatever I have.
Oblivious +3 ^^
To hiems chevalrous mind, it goes without saying that Cygna, as a "noble lady" must have her own room and privacy, even if it means he must endure the populace and sleeping with the grogs (which will also be a problem for them).

Thanks for reminding us that this ain't D&D! :smiley:

Good idea, the meals. Hiems will stay as far away from people as possible.

Hiems is perplexed. Why would she assume that??? It is evident that, as a Lady, Cygna must come first!
??? What? Of course no! Why would I do such a thing? You're a lady, this... this would be most rude and uncouth!
Once the surprised has passed, he adds 2 and 2 (or thinks he has)
Lady cygna... I don't know how people treated you back there, but relationships are not always determined by power and strength. And even if they were, you are the equal of any magi, and do not have to defer to me.
As it is, even if you didn't have the gift, I would be less of a man than the lowliest of the peasants out there if I didn't take care of you, and even worse than that if I just took this bed while leaving the floor to you.
So you will take the bed. And I'll manage.

[color=red]"I'm somewhat surprised he hasn't tried to press the covenant into his service yet...you would think that he would expect more from magi that may seem so cowed...to his point of view, anyway."

[color=red]"That's why I'm hoping that the guard will tell someone that we're here."

Cygna smiles at Hiems. [color=red]"Always the gentleman. But who said anything about sleeping on the floor? You take the bed, and I will sleep in the nest. Don't forget...I'm Bjornaer. I will take my heartbeast form, and I'll be fine. See?"

Cygna gestures to the corner. [color=red]"♪♫My Arts combine to make a nest/Where I can get my beauty rest.♫♪" ((Cr 6 + He 5 + Int 4 + Aura 0 + die roll of 2 = 17, vs. a CrHe base 2 ("Create a processed plant product, like a finished plank of wood"), with +1 R: Touch, +2 D: Sun, for a Spell Level of 5. Unless it's actually "Create wood in an unnatural shape, such as a living wall or bridge" (Level 3), which would make the target level 10. In which case she's 3 short, and would spend a Confidence Point to not look bad in front of Hiems.))

[color=red]"And if you think that would be too uncomfortable, I can always use this ghastly yellow robe to line it with, when the colour-changing spell wears off."

Yes... My guess is that he's drawing as much gold as he can, and, once the covenant can no longer pay, he'll propose an "arrangment".
Of course, he may just be stupid and greedy.

Oh! I see... And feel quite dumb, although in this instance, I'm happy to be so. This heartbeast of your is quite handy.
Now... As you know, my magical nature may, in the long term, cause some temperature problems, so if I may, I'd like to warm the nest, to ensure you don't get cold during the night.
(Yes, this is quite unvolontary double entendre)

Hiems will try to cast on the nest a version of his "Warm Aliments" spell on the nest, with Sun Duration (lvl 10):
1d10=7 + Cr 5 + Ig 6 + Sta 2 = 20/2 = just 10!

Cygna says nothing, but purses her lips thoughtfully.

Cygna smiles. [color=red]"You're not stupid...you just haven't had much experience with Bjornaer."

If Cygna recognizes what he's doing before he casts the spell, she will try to stop him. [color=red]"Wouldn't you rather wait until after sundown to warm my nest, since I'm going to have to make a new one anyway? No sense wasting your spell if you don't have to."

[i]((It took me a couple of minutes to track down what your [/i]Warm Aliments spell does. Wouldn't it make more sense for it to be Base 2 (Warm to the touch) rather than 3 (Hot to the touch)? Unless he wants to scald her and make her dive into the bed to cool off :wink: Be that as it may...a Base 2 D: Sun R: Touch CrIg to make the nest warm is low enough that even Cygna could pull it off...but she'll let Hiems do it for her.))

She will remove the blue robe (since she's wearing other clothes underneath), and set it neatly aside.

[color=red]"I am going to explore the grounds a while, see if I can tell where our 'noble baron' is spending our hard-earned coin and get a feel for the situation. I will be back well before supper."

She smiles at Hiems as she leaves, then leans against the door for a moment, eyes closed in silent prayer. Once she leaves the house, she starts to smell brimstone, and she can her her tormentor's footsteps echoing hers, his tongue clucking with disappointment. At her earliest opportunity, she finds a deserted alleyway (or something along that line), then turns to face Adorjan. [color=red]"What do you want now?"

Adorjan gives her an innocent smile. "I want to see you happy, and I want you to be all that you are meant to be...nothing more."

He leans in closer. "I could ask you the same question, child, but I don't think you know...or are afraid of the answer. You used to show more initiative, when you sat at my feet. You knew that you had to do whatever it took to accomplish your goals, to realize your desires. Now look at you. You hide behind this mask you wear, you pretend to all the world that you're a good, upright woman, that you have morals, that you have principles. But you and I both know better, don't we? You know what you want...you know who you want. And the only thing stopping you...is you. You should be ashamed of yourself, Katerina!"

Cygna glares at the shade, but can't quite bring herself to look him in the eyes. [color=red]"You heard what he said," she hisses. [color=red]"He's afraid that I'll reject him, he's afraid that I think him a monster. That good, kind, sweet, beautiful man thinks himself a monster? So what will he do when he finds out what I truly am, hmm? If he's a monster, what does that make me?

Now, if you will excuse me, I have things to do!" Cygna then spins on her heels and storms off, looking for a church or chapel...she feels the need for some deep prayer ((Personality Trait: Devout +1)) before she resumes her exploration of the village and manor.

Of course, lady cygna. You are right. GuessI let my enthousiam get the better of me

(Yup, I did this too quickly. His spell i supposed to make food as hot as if cooked, which is not a good idea for a sleeping place. And looooooooooool about the bed, good one :smiley:. Then, Hiems probably knows cygna can cast this, but this is more of a polite and affectionate gesture, like drawing a chair to her)

Although he knows she is clothed beneath, this almost evoke instantly repressed thoughts. By her kind presence, cygna makes him feel all too human and normal, which is a very bad idea. He must not think or react like a normal human would, for this way lies hope, and hope can only come crashing down, bringing ruin and sadness.
And this almost subconcious train of thoughts leaves him not very well. He turns and regains his cool, blanketing any emotion he might have. He'd like to be alone, at this moment.

A good idea, which will surely yield us precious insights. Just take care: I do not want an archer to fire at you in order to bring you to his lord's dinner table
He is joking, but only in part. His concern and fears are genuine.

Once cygna's gone, he'll miss her at once, yet feel relieved, as he is now allowed to be sad. He would quite like a hug, but no. Never again.
He'll stare at the door for a moment, and then walk nervously into the room, speaking with himself, the remains of the child that yearned for love in him being scolded by the cynical, hard loner he had to become (Yes, in a way, hiems is his own adorjan, which is quite fun and explains some similarities between cygna and him), all the while watched by his compassionate side.
Vividly You stupid, stupid moron. Don't. There's no hope, no dream, nothing, nothing, nothing. You can't let yourself open, you know it, so why do you? You're just gonna hurt and come crying like some stupid fool who thought he had a place. You should know it, by then. There is nothing, never, no one. (...) You! You think I like this? You think I was not hurt enough when she... she...
He sit on the bed, tears flowing, then gets up at once, to sit in the darkest corner of the room, his magical nature, exacerbated by his feeling, making him even colder, with the temperature around droping accordingly.
In a calmer, cooler voice Cygna... You know her, and yes, she is kind, and generous, and STOP!!! Point is, she is what she is and maybe, maybe, if you don't get too close, there's a chance you might keep her in your life some time. Just... Just don't get too close to her, do you? First, she'll leave your life sooner or later, and the closer you are, the more you'll hurt. But... Well, you know it, I don't know if even she could... You know that, if she realises what you are inside, she'll just get out of your life, don't you? And... arf, well, you know. Yes, I know she is beautiful, but do you really think she would stand you if you were fool enough to... You know you can't, you should have learned it by now, so stop! Yes, I know it's hard, just... I'm sorry. Just be quiet, it's gonna be alright. Now, get up, she mustn't see you like this. Just hold on. And take care.

(Yes, he's pretty disturbed :laughing: A flaw is a flaw, after all. Funny thing, by the rules, he gotta spend confidence to act otherwise, which, IMO, is perfect for him. And it's quite fun to see how, in a way, Cygna and him are similar :smiley:)

Michiel and Timothy, determining that the matter of accommodations has been settled, begin the process of unpacking their things...

Michiel has a pretty good idea that if he were to address the door guards in Anglo-Norman, he'd be recognized as nobility and get a better reception than the magi just did.

There is not much indication of the silver's end. There are perhaps forty fighting men, well trained, but with poor ordnance. There are a few fishermen, but no outlying fields nor peasants to work them-- if the baron buys all their food, that would be one money sink (on the scale of 30-40 pounds' silver per annum).

Hmm...so, if I'm understanding right, there is land out there, but it's not been developed into fields, orchards, grazing land, anything that would indicate any kind of sustenance. And that the Baron is bringing all his food from out-of-town to feed his soldiers and his court. That about it in a nutshell?

Hmmm...but even that wouldn't account for all the money we've been feeding him. Guy must throw one heck of a party.

To be fair, the land doesn't look suitable for planting or grazing-- it's too marshy to be of use (and doesn't have a Creo-aligned aura helping it out).

Well, this has been a bloody waste of time, Cygna thinks. She was truly hoping to see signs of extravagant, even hedonistic excess on the baron's part, but no such luck. Which means she's going to think harder on it. She has a couple of theories, but it's starting to look to her that Adorjan may have been right, and that she's going to have to get the answer directly from His Lordship's mind...and she had sworn to herself years ago not to continue down the same path that Adorjan had been leading her on.

Once it starts getting close to sundown, she will head back to the ale house, and ask the mother if her and Hiems's dinners are ready. If so, or if almost, she will take the meals up to their room and knock or kick at the door.

[color=red]"♪♫ Hiems. Dinner is ready, if you're decent/Or even if you're not/So if you would be so kind as to let me in/so we can eat while the food is still hot. ♫♪"

((Arya: In response to your suggestion about Michiel, he'll attempt it at the next opportunity))

Awesome :laughing: Thanks for lighting up a bad day (with a headache to boot)

Having had some time to freeze again, Hiems will open graciously, and behave accordingly.

Hearing cygna's report, he'll be concerned. What's happening up there?
Hum... This is interesting. As it is, I see 2 possibilities. Simple greed, or funnelling the money into something. But then, what? His liege? Blackmail? Or a costly project? Anyway, this must stop, and, although that knowledge could be very useful to that purpose, let's not confuse the means and the end. What do you think of it?

Monday night, when Michiel approaches the gates, the guard shouts at him unintelligibly in English. Michiel's responses in Norman French are met with a look of uncomprehension, but the man vanishes into the manor. About fifteen minutes later, a man in a brown robe comes to the gates and bows politely. "I am Brother Lewis. What can I do for you, sir?"

((Glad I could help :smiley: ))

[color=red]"Well, he's obviously not spending our money here. I can think of a few possibilities, none of which I care for very much. One, he's hoarding it, saving it up for something. But I have no idea, and I would think that being in Mammon's thrall would have its limits. Two, he's passing the money on to the Earl of Chester, for whatever. Three, he's passing the money on to someone else."

Cygna picks at her food for a couple of minutes, seemingly deep in thought.

[color=red]"I fear he may be right," she finally says. [color=red]"It may be that we may have to get the answer from within his mind. I don't believe it's against the Code..." Her voice trails off as she continues eating. ((Checking...Int 4 + Code of Hermes 1 + die roll of 3 = 8 ))

After dinner, as they prepare for bed, Cygna will stretch, then re-create a nest in the corner. ((As before: Cr 6 + He 5 + Int 4 + Aura 0 + die roll of 9 = 24 ÷ 2 = 12, vs. a spell level of 5.))

[color=red]"Now, if you will excuse me for a moment," Cygna says as she moves toward the wall (away from the window). [color=red]"No peeking," she says with a smile. She then casts another Spontaneous CrHe...this time to make a de facto shoji. ((Base 2, "Create a processed plant product, like a finished plank of wood," +1 for Range: Touch, +1 for D: Concentration (she has a Concentration of 1, so she should be able to maintain it for 15 minutes (p. 82, third column, second full paragraph) if not distracted, and Target: Individual, for a target level of 4. Cr 6 + He 5 + Int 4 + die roll of 9 = 24 ÷ 2 = 12.)) She moves behind the screen and removes her clothes, draping them over the top until she's done, then folds them neatly and places them on a clean patch of floor. Then she takes her Heartbeast form and lets the shoji fade away.

When Hiems goes to bed, Cygna will start to softly sing something that sounds like a lullaby ((Com 1 + Music (Singing) 2 + die roll of 2 = 5...well, crud.))

A concerned look from Hiems

Lady cygna... No, it ain't against the code. Not as I understand it. The code forbids interference, not scrying mundanes (Code of Hermes 1, specialty in mundane interactions).
Thing is, I don't care if he's right or wrong, and you shouldn't either. What should matter is this: Do you think this is legit? Do you think you need to do it? Do you think you should do it? If any of these answers comes as a no, then you should refrain, and tell him to go to hell. In fact, I don't think he'll always lie. Sometimes, he'll tell truths, or close enough, in order for you to trust his less-than-fine advices. You should not listen to him, ever, just yourself and your god-given soul.
Overwhelmed by concern, he'll put his cooold hand on cygna's without thinking about it, trying to create a connection, to draw her attention to his words, to reach her.
Now, I am incomfortable with Mentem Magics. I... I am too similar to him to trust me to use these wisely. And I think that one should refrain from imposing his will on others, or peering in their minds. Yet, sometimes, I believe it may be the best choice, the one who leads to less suffering and avoids conflicts and pain. Because the same magics that let you invade someone's mind can help you to understand him and to find a peaceful resolution, or to subdue someone without killing him.
And then? You are not I, nor him. You are wiser, better than us. I don't know if this is wise. But should you choose to use magic to get the answer from his mind, I trust it'll be. And that this will be to find a way to avoid conflict between him and us. And I trust, too, that you'll only seek the answer to what you need.

If he was able to blush, he surely would.
He'll turn around, feeling very embarrassed and conscious. It has been years since he was alone and so close to... No. He mustn't think about it. Nothing. Never. No one.

Awww, this is so nice!

Well, this isn't great, but it is peaceful, and appropriate, and, for once, hiems will enter sleep peacefully, a light half-smile on his lips.

The four of you are awoken well before dawn, by the sounds of a pitched battle raging about.

Cygna smiles at him, trying to hide her glee at such a simple gesture ((Com 1 + Guile 0 + 6= 7)), even though inside she's like omigaw omigaw omigaw squeeee swoon

Cygna looks at Hiems with dismay. It's not the first time that he's compared himself to that monster, or used that word to describe himself. If only he knew the depths of depravity that Adorjan had lowered himself to in life, or that she herself had...

[color=red]"No...no, you're nothing like him, amicus. You are the finest and most noble man I know, not a...not like him at all.

"I do have to remember that he was just a man, though. Although he was despicable, I must remember that not everything he did or said was heinous. I just have to be careful about which words of his heed, lest I..." Cygna catches herself and blinks quickly.

[color=red]"I was hoping to get this resolved quickly and return home. But...subtlety isn't always my forte, and I doubt that de Montfort will be forthright with us about what he's doing with all our money. I should be able to use my magic on him to at least get us pointed in the right direction."

Cygna will watch him as he sleeps, content, happy, and beautiful, and will try to fix the image in her mind, creating a locus in her Memory Palace. ((Int 4 + Art of Memory 1 + die roll of 0 (botch check comes up a 6) = 5. Not sure if she'd realize that the locus didn't take until she tries to access it, so I won't roll another check unless someone wants me to.))

The next morning, barring a middle-of-the-night interruption or something, she will again do the create-a-shoji thing and get dressed. ((15 + die roll of 4 = 19 ÷ 2 = 9½))

((edit, since Arya posted while I was composing.))

Cygna flap-waddles to the window and looks out to see what's going on, after taking a quick glance at Hiems to see if he's getting up and around.

Bannerless, black-tabarded men are dragging bodies out of the manor gates and heaping them up in piles; there seems to have been little to no resistance there (likely due to surprise or outright sabotage). There are men dragging peasants out of their huts and interrogating them.

The battle sounds are coming from the common room of the inn, where the old innkeep seems to be using the confined space to his advantage, as he wields a rusty saber to fend off three armed and armoured men. The crumpled bodies of two assailants lie on the floor-- if they're not dead, they will wish they were, once tetanus sets in :stuck_out_tongue: