Summer 1221: Tribunal in the Pyrenees

It's a fine summer day when Meliai and Andor arrive at a small covenant in the Pyrenees named Montaña Pacífica where the Iberian Tribunal meeting will be held. It's been a long walk from the forest where Meliai brought them to Iberia, but the weather has been pleasant, so there's little to complain about. Also, Andor has the Gentle Gift, so dealing with the locals hasn't been too much trouble.

The pair have timed things well. The official meetings won't start for another day, so the two have time to settle in. They are met by a grog who introduces himself as Marcus. He asks for their names and the size of their group and proceeds to arrange housing for them. "I'm afraid things will be quite cramped during the Tribunal," he says, "even for magi." No surprise there, given the size of the covenant and the number of magi in attendance. He shakes his head when he sees that the two are not expected. "I might be able to find a room for the lady," he adds. "But I'm afraid señor will have to be housed in one of the tents."

[hr][/hr]I'll hand-wave the finding of a suitable regio entrance/exit. But what did we decide on that again? I know that Meliai doesn't have any Area Lores, and Forest Lore will only go so far.

Any grogs coming with you?

Also, if anyone else wants to attend, we can add them into the group easily enough.

die roll plus forest lore+ forest sympathy+int-3 for a new area was the roll to get to Atlantis, I'm under the impression the -3 would not apply for a more regular destination such as a forest near the Iberian Tribunal meeting...

"If it would be easier, we can share a room."

"Well, that makes it much easier," the grog replies when he hears from the two magi. "So many magi won't agree to any hardship whatsoever." He looks thoughtful for a moment then continues. "I have a room with a bed free in one of the out buildings for the lady. It's somewhat cramped, but it's private and it will be dryer than a tent if we get any summer rain. And I think there are two other Tremere magi in one of the tents you can room with - paneled off rooms, of course." He catches the eye of another grog who comes over. "Take the lady to Renaldo's room." It's no surprise that the magi are being housed in rooms typically used by grogs. That's often the way at Tribunals. Grogs give up their rooms for visiting magi, since the guest rooms can't even begin to handle the crowds. "Then take the gentleman to the blue-and-gold tent by the south ridge."

"There are a handful of Tremere that I'm aware of. You'll be sharing a tent with two of them. But Angiola of Tremere is the official leader of their delegation, representing your Primus. She's in one of the guest rooms in the main house. I'm to understand she's set it up as much as a meeting room as her private chambers."

"Dinner will be at sunset in the main hall," Marcus continues. "There are some merchants set up in the courtyard; and people often gather in the gazebo by the orange grove to gossip." Someone else approaches and looks urgently at the man. "Now if you'll excuse me, master, mistress. Duty calls." The grog he called over gestures for the two to follow so he can show them to where they'll be staying.

The grog leads the pair first to a small room in one of the outbuildings. It's clean and bare with a bed inside, but it's nothing fancy. Still, it's indoors, as promised. And given that the two showed up unannounced, it's better than they could have expected.

Then the grog brings them (or just Andor if Meliai stays in her room) to the tent that Marcus indicated. It's a medium-sized tent divided up into five chambers. one main chamber and four smaller ones off the main one. Andor can see simple cots in each of them, and gear on three of the cots.

The tent has a soldier inside, clearly standing guard, and a servant polishing some boots. The servant immediately rises and greets Andor, ushering him to the empty chamber when he learns that he's here to stay. The other grog bids his goodbye and heads back, no doubt to help some other incoming magus. The tent us up near a ridge, and would present a halfway decent defensible position, Andor notes. Better than most of the other tents, at least. So there was that.

With their gear stowed, the magi must decide what to do next. It's still several hours before dinner.

Meliai will head out to the grove where the gossip is going on, and listen for anyone who appears to be knowledgeable about the local area, or would at least know someone who would be.

Meliai heads out to the gazebo where she finds a number of magi, some inside the gazebo, some lounging outside. They're mostly talking local hermetic politics, matters that are likely to come up at the tribunal meeting that are interesting in their own right, but totally irrelevant to Melia. She does identify one member of the local covenant, Gaius ex Bonisagus, and one member of the nearby Barcelona covenant, Carles of Jerbiton. Gaius is talking about a local conflict over a valuable book, while Carles is sitting in the gazebo, a black cat on his lap, making personal musings about how the presiding quaesitor will react to certain issues that are likely to come up.

Meliai will approach each of the two men and ask for a word privately. "I am looking for mundanes to recruit to a new covenant, and am hoping find some with certain... social or religious attributes that would make their departure something they and the local church would probably both like to see happen."

Meliai asks her circumspect questions to both men and receives very different replies.

Gaius looks at her strangely "People the church wouldn't mind leaving? You'd be wanting to bring heathens and heretics into your covenant? Whatever for?" He narrows his eyes. "Seems like you're just asking for trouble."

Carles is more circumspect and more perspicacious. "Pagans or heretics," he says, nodding in understanding. "You'll not find much of the former in Iberia; it's a very Christian tribunal - we'll, except for the southern part, but that's not pagan either." He laughs. "I'm afraid even the hedge wizards I know are all Christian, or at least putatively Christian." While he speaks, he slowly pets his cat. "As for the latter, we have Cathars fleeing here all the time, though they generally stay in hiding, not wanting to be captured and killed. I might be able to introduce you to a few Cathars, though why you'd want to risk the wrath of the Church in harboring them, I couldn't say. You might have trouble getting through to them with your Gift, though. They're generally a skittish bunch, what with being hunted and all. You're not Gentle Gifted, are you?" Clearly, he can't tell with is Parma up. "If so, then you might have a chance."

To both she explains "I have a new community I am establishing far from Christian lands, and I was looking for pagans who might be hiding or, as you say, nominally Christian, who might be willing to resettle somewhere they can practice more openly."

Gaius is taken aback by Meliai's comment. "You're looking to promote paganism among the people?" He shakes his head in clear disagreement. "Bad enough we have it practiced in the Order. But to promote it in the general population would be agianst the Lord's teaching. Our duty to God is to bring people closer to His grace, not to encourage them to drift away from it." Gaius isn't the first devout Christian Meliai has had to deal with, nor will he be the last. Unfortunately, for her, his opinion is common among magi in Iberia, and not uncommon throughout the Order in general. Though the Order of Hermes bows to no one religion, and has a vocal minority of pagans, the majority of its magi are still Christians of varying deviotion.

Carles is less shocked, however. He nods knowingly at her comments. "A noble goal," he says after a moment of silence. "Though I don't expect the Church to share your enthusiasm. They are likely to look down upon such a community when they learn of it; they may even take action against it, distance or no. They've been willing to go all the way to the Levant to fight for what they believe in, and that's quite a distance from here." Then he waves his hand as if to brush these arguments away. "But I'm not telling you anything you don't know already."

"You want to find pagans who might be willing to resettle somewhere more accepting. Well, I'm afraid Iberia is not the best place to come looking. We've converted most of the pagans ages ago. Christianity has a firm hold on the land - except where Islam does, of course. I'm sure there are a few pagans still around, though finding them would be the hard part. If they're here they're deep in hiding. I see a few people who look for esoteric books in my shop. It's possible some of them are pagans. It's also possible that they're scholars or something else. I don't ask then for any information and they don't offer it. You'd probably be better off looking in Loch Leglean, Hibernia, Novgorod, or some of the northern lands if you want to find pagans. I understand there are still large pockets of paganism there."

"I would prefer to leave Novgorod alone, they don't appear to need refuge, at least not yet. I suspect that some of those scholars might now how to find the people I am looking for though, perhaps you could direct me towards someone who would be more knowledgeable about whatever locals might exist?"

I'm assuming that Meliai does not pursue the conversation with Gaius.

"I'm unwilling to reveal the names of my customers without their permission," Carles replies. "They count upon me for discretion. However, I shall be happy to pass along a message that you wish to meet with them, and will arrange such a meeting if they consent. But I shall only do so if you swear to me that you will demonstrate no magic to them or speak of the existence of the Order. I get enough grief from the rest of the Barcelona covenant about my bookshop as it is. They claim it risks revealing our presence to the people of the city. it It wouldn't be worth my business to help you without such an oath."

"I will only speak of the order or reveal magic to those who agree to depart with me. Given that we are traveling by forest region it would be hard not to do so."

Carles nods. "Very well then, I will speak to a few of my customers and pass along your request. I can make no guarantees that they'll meet to you, or that they'll listen to you even if they do agree to meet. The Gift makes such negotiations difficult, especially with people who are wary to begin with. But I shall pass along your request and let you know the result. Will messages sent to New Atlantis covenant reach you? I'm not certain how knowledgeable the local Redcaps are of your recent founding."

"They should, or I can return to meet you at a specified day and time. I'll probably pop on over to Hibernia in the morning, maybe make a few other stops."

"I can't give you a day and time, since I haven't spoken to them yet. Perhaps it's best if I wrote to you." He pauses a moment before adding, "and if you do end up visiting the shop, please do be discreet."

Meliai looks down at her pseudo-clothing and winces "I don't spend a lot of time in cities. Perhaps I should send my apprentice..."

Carles takes a breath and replies dryly. "Perhaps that would be best."

"Very well, I will be in touch." Meliai takes her bed for the night and heads for the forest and Hibernia in the morning...

Morning comes and Meliai wakes and breaks her fast. The business of the tribunal meeting goes on around her, though only a few miles away is an entrance to the forest regio she uses, through which she could make a quick trip to Hibernia.

OOC: What's the plan for Meliai? She knows of several exits from the forest regio in Hibernia.