Summer 1222 Tribunal: Wouldn't It Be Loverly

At 8pm on the night of festivities, the Gently-Gifted magi are all invited to congregate at a dinner party.

Stephen Eruditus of Libellas is hosting; in attendance are the entire membership of Schola Pythagoranis (Astrolabe, Edward of Milton, and Lydia of Jerbiton; Fredegisa of Guernics, Uncia of Bjornaer, and Niamh Ex Miscellanea), Iulia Jerbitonis of Voluntas, Vanasalas Criamonis of Semitae, Mercurio Tremeris of Blackthorn, and the Tribunal's only active Quaesitor, Trutina of Guernicus.

At the party's official start time, folks are milling about in that careful, studied nonchalance. (There's a LOT of Etiquette in this room, on which many participants will be judging each other.) Serving maids are bustling about, setting the table; as there are no placecards, seating will be a careful affair.

Who wishes to sit near whom?

Sophie will sidle up to Iulia, if possible.

Iulia has a severe sort of face, framed by thick, straight hair pulled back tightly at the nape of her neck. She smiles warmly, though. "Ah! Sophronia filia Justinius Tremeris, yes? It's a pleasure to meet you. Have you seen these floral arrangements? I wish I knew who Stephen is trying to hard to impress, and why - this species of jasmine rarely grows outside of Alexandria. That rogue!"

(Fsck, I just noticed Sophronia didn't take Etiquette, no wonder she's such a bitch).

"It is my pleasure to meet, you, and you do me such a great personal honor by addressing me by name when so many prefer my diminutive." She smiles warmly. "In truth, I came here with some amount of trepidation. For while my Gift is gentle, I am not so gentle. My duties have generally precluded activities related to culture and erudition. So this event is outside my comfort zone."

"Oh, I sympathize. It is nearly impossible to get my covenantmates to stop calling me 'Julia.' English speakers, all of them." Iulia laughs politely. "You are to be commended in braving something new! Really these parties are quite barbaric. At least Flambeau use reasonable weapons to measure themselves against each other; Jerbiton make a weapon out of five forks, four spoons, two knives, three glasses, and only the two hands with which to wield them all." She smiles, and leans in close to whisper: "Don't worry overmuch. There are two main schools of thought on conpetitive etiquette. The most common one is to seem as though something smells bad, whenever your opponent touches anything or opens his mouth-- he does not have to make any infractions if you can convince him that he made one unwittingly. The second school of thought is to smile and nod pleasantly no matter what goes on around you, to prove you are above such petty behaviour. Both are equally foolish, in my opinion."

"Oh, you're helping me so much!" Sophie gushes whether this is genuine or not would depend on whether or not she can sense that what Julia is saying is legitimate or not. Per + Folk Ken is 2+1. Etiquette is 0, and isn't asterisked, so she can use it with risk of spectacularly bad results.
"Would you be willing to be my guide through this event? I would be, as they say, in your debt and appreciate any assistance you could offer me." This last statement is probably a bit of guile, some kind of elaborate negotiation might be a reach. That's Com +3, Guile 1, with the aforementioned elaborate negotiation specialty.

Before the start of the dinner, Cygna (who is wearing her hair-shirt under her normal clothing) approaches Stephen Eruditus and asks if there's anything she can do to help.

Assuming no, she sits next to Uncia and introduces herself if she doesn't already know her. ((What does she know about her?))

She picks up that there's a certain amount of wry sarcasm in Iulia's critique of the paradigm-- perhaps oversimplified, but her disdain for the mentality behind these events is genuine.

Iulia laughs as though Sophronia said something clever, and replies in Greek. "Of course. There are some here who will notice you do not pick up a utensil or glass until after I do, so the ones you'll want to conceal the delay from are the not-inquisitor and your fellow Housemate. And if you're caught talking too long to the blond German, there will be unflattering rumours about you. Apologies for the roundaboutness, but while no one in earshot knows Greek, most will still notice their names."

((Anyway she can identify who the blond German is? I'm remarkably bad at trying to match names with national origin. I'm assuming the not-inquisitor is the Quaesitor.))
Responding in Greek, almost relieved to be out of Latin, "Again, you do me a great personal service and speak my mother tongue! What a treasure you are! An island of respite, in this cold Tribunal." This is completely genuine because I always had envisioned that she'd be embarrassed by not being fluent in Latin, given her natural facility with language, she just never had an opportunity to get back to it.

"I would think, and this may be my naivete speaking here, that while people would notice, it would be boorish to bring up my delay, would it not? I am ignorant, but eager to learn. And as to my Housemates, well they tend to know me well enough." She says that with a wry suggestive laugh that says something to the effect, 'they think they know me, but they do not.' "Sometimes is is useful to enforce certain expectations and capitalize upon them later, wouldn't you agree? And the rumors about me already abound. Let people talk. I can't control what they say, I can only worry about myself."

She won't get it right away, but later on when someone introduces himself as "Aulus Germanicus scholae Bonisagus" it will click into place.

By "not-inquisitor" she's indicating Fredegisa, who is a Guernicus but has never been appointed as a Quaesitor. Everyone's dying to know why, but those who have asked receive nothing but cold silence.

"I am glad you approve of Edward's educational philosophy. Greek is not my native tongue," Iulia states, "but it is the only proper language for appropriately conveying subtleties of emotion and philosophy."

"Oh heavens. None who would notice would dare mention such a thing; they would merely silently judge you as their inferior, and it would colour their opinions of you in the future. I myself have carefully tailored my public face, and direct rumours about me such that savvy opponents can never know if a rumour is true, or merely what I wish them to believe. The German has been looking for an apprentice for some time-- his own knowledge of Magic Theory is meager, and his teaching pitiful, so he always intended to steal from a more conscientious magus-- he had heard rumours about my close personal relationship with Philippus Niger, and thought better of claiming Alessandra." She sips her wine. "Of course I've only met the Hoplite twice, and even someone blind and dumb could tell Philippus would prefer the German's private company over mine or yours, but there you have it."

(Damnit, my previous post got eaten. This is three so far in the last couple days, that I've noticed.)

Stephen vehemently refuses any offers of assistance, but thanks her for the kind offer.

Cygna met Uncia earlier at the Bjornaer gathering, and knows the snow leopard to be shy and sweet. She is known to be fierce and fearless when the situation demands, but when neither she nor her family and friends are in danger, she is kind and gentle. "Do you feel like all these conversations sail over your head, too?" she whispers to Cygna in Russian.

[color=red]"I would if I understood any of it," Cygna whispers back in the same tongue, laughing softly. [color=red]"I feel as though I'm watching a dozen skillfully choreographed knife fights at the same time, and I'm almost afraid to do or say anything to attract their attention."

"I would be less nervous around the knife fighting, I think," Uncia replies. "I only come to Stephen's parties because he keeps inviting me and I think it would be rude to decline. Do you know anyone else here? My whole covenant showed up."

((Does she recognize/know Fredegisa or Trutina?))

"Thank you, I'll be sure to remember your counsel in future encounters with the others. And what would you say about our host? You've not mentioned him." Sophronia should have more than a passing familiarity with Stephen.

(She is unlikely ever to have met either of them, based on what you've said of Cygna's backstory.)

"Oh come now, no need to be coy. I'm sure you have more to say about him than I do. But..." She leans in close, and whispers, despite that you're both still conversing in Greek: "I'll lay you odds, he's in love with Niamh-- and if I'm reading him correctly, he's ready to make his move tonight."

"You must tell me your secrets!" Sophronia's says that conspiratorially. "I wouldn't have guessed in a million years. If I may be so bold, where did you home your keen insight?"

"It's the way he looks at her. Rather-- the way he doesn't look at her. Everyone else here, he's always jovial and friendly, shows no conpunction about small physical contact. Niamh, he is distant, never touches her, his spine stiffens every time she's near. Either he believes her to be the Antichrist, or he's in love with her and has no idea what to do about it. As to where I learned..." she shrugs. "Books and research bore me. Maths always work themselves the same way, logic and grammar are rigid structures that can be predicted and measured.... People, though-- people have patterns, but they can change. The study of human behaviour, interpersonal interactions-- it's fascinating, the only area where I truly feel challenged." Her reserved tone gives way to real enthusiasm as she talks about people watching.

"But enough about me. What is it that you seek, Sophronia? Why the move to Gallus Florensis-- if I'm half the judge of character you make me out to be, no amount of idiocy from a former paramour could perturb you into uprooting your life and starting over elsewhere. What is the story?"

Sophronia seems a bit surprised, "Me? And here I thought I was an open book. Or at the very least, people seem to think I should be a chip of the old block, as it were. No, I guess I am neither. I am ever a servant of my House, and I put those needs ahead of my own, but attempt to align the needs of the House with my own personal ambition, where I may. So, I toil away at the tasks the House requests of me, and the latest is trying to understand how Justinius seemed to vanish. It seems to be an enigma, his disapperance, and those who were at Gallus Florensis, Maribus, Lilliana, and Leona didn't have a clue. I don't suppose you know anything about the matter, do you?"