Trading of the Tomes (1239)

Thread purpose: Lucas is journeying through Provencal and Iberia starting from 1239, so we have the opportunity to do a little roleplaying on the side for Trogdor (discussed here). Starting with that post as the basis, and assuming Lucas uses his House connections to garner a little background...[hr][/hr]

Lucas' first destination is close, the covenant of Ara Maxima Nova. Little is know or discussed of the covenant except it's coastal locale in the south east of France, a propensity for creating excellent wine, oft with strange qualities, and the high population of Merinitia Magi. It has remained silent in many of the more controversial political debates, it's representatives going as far to abstain from voting in key debates. In juxtaposition the covenant always sends at least one senior representative who typically carries a handful of voting sigils, and has repeatedly rallied to widen the influence of covenants amongst the common folk.

Further research with the Mercere chapter house gives Lucas the name of the last Magi to represent Ara Maxima Nova at the tribunal meeting, a French Merinitia named Francios of middle years. Francios was recently involved with an "interfering with mundanes" investigation but was cleared of any wrong-doing, in fact the presiding Quaseitor at the Tribunual commended the Frenchman for his tact rather than the sanction suggested by his fellow Quaesitor.

OOC: Trogdor - Do you wish to prep Lucas in any way in particular?

OOC: Lucas will travel through Provencal in the form of a hawk. so as to make the best time. He will have with him a list of the books available for trade, those desired by Andorra, and those that could be copied given time. He will also have a set of credentials (such as they are) identifying him as Assistant to the Herald at Andorra covenant. He will have Aura of Beguiling Appearance on when he arrives at any covenant, as well as Doublet of Impenetrable Silk (just in case).

Floating on a thermal updraft, Lucas surveys the land below. Cecelia had given him specific directions, and if he had those right, that should be the covenant right down there. He lets out a loud screech and starts to circle down toward the ground at a point clearly outside the boundaries of the covenant. Best to approach by foot, he thinks. Once on the ground, he transforms back to a person and begins to walk toward the covenant.

Would it be alright with others involved if Rilcheaux happened to be staying at this covenant delivering messages at the same time? And incidentally using his spare time to try and dig up information he can use to win over Father Vilanus?

Works for me. Let me respond to Lucas arrival, and then I'll post some extra material for what Rilcheau would have seen over the past day or so. Assuming he's been a guest for a short period.

I'm not sure really what Rilcheau would be looking for, so can't say if you'll encounter anything suitable.

Lucas sees the covenant from the air, from a fair range away. You could certainly land and transform without being obviously watched if that's your wish.

Ara Maxima Nova is designed to resemble a typical hamlet, complete with a variety of practical worker's buildings, shelters, and small hovels; at present it also has a an odious humor that befouls the otherwise tranquil pastoral setting. The grounds of the covenant extend widely and include open fields stretching away from the coast in all directions. Small stone border markers are sparsely placed throughout the outer edges of the covenant proper to mark its real borders. As you fly over the outer fields you can see workers amongst the long straight rows of vines. Every few fields has a small hut between them, probably for storage. A much smaller set of southern fields contains a variety of animals. The fields are set out with a wheel and spoke pattern with the covenant proper forming the hub.

From the air you can see a large central courtyard of packed dirt which is in the process of being excavated by hand. Three men are trawling dirt a pace below the surface from a sub floor of stone. Seen beneath the dirt is the layer of rock which is a mosaic of either concentric circles or perhaps a spiral pattern of heavy sandstone. Two obvious features of the courtyard are two small matching roofed shelters on either side of the large courtyard; a well in the north and a bell in the south. Then spaced around the 30 pace courtyard is a large barn with stone foundations, three long large wooden building which could be barracks, and a wide stone road which stretches to an over-sized wooden jetty to east. The other shelters and huts are randomly dispersed between these structures in a haphazard way. The main pathway away from the covenant points westward, a man sized stone marker aside the path as the pathway crosses the border markers.

The covenfolk do not notice you as you fly over and land. It is obvious that the covenant is well populated, and it appears that there are no sentries or watchmen.

In human form, Lucas wears some nice, but sturdy, traveling clothes - the very outfit he wore when spending his season delivering messages. He has a very small leather pack over one shoulder, mostly filled with lists of books. He doesn't wear a red cap for this trip, since he's not technically on Redcap duty. Silently setting a couple of spells, just in case[sup]1[/sup], he turns eastward down the lane toward the covenant, calling out a greeting to the first of the covenfolk that he sees.

1 - Aura of Beguiling Appearance and Doublet of Impenetrable Silk. Both cast silent and without gestures.

As you walk down the track a few of the workers look to you, then return to their duty. After a minute a bell sounds. You are able to walk amongst the outer buildings before being approached by a portly hairy man wearing a leather apron and worn but serviceable workmans' clothes. A few tools, cloth, and heavy gloves are tucked into his belt and apron, but you also note ink stains on his hands. His lined face is almost hidden behind a large matted beard and robust mustache, and heavy brown hair cropped to his neck.

When he speaks it is with reasonable French, but the accent of some far eastern European language is very clear.
He raises a hand in greeting although does not stand too close to you, "Greetings traveler, d'names Borss. What brings you to vinyard?" [hr][/hr]He's clearly looked you over; although not rudely. Borss has the eyes of somebody used to negotiating.

"Good day," Lucas replies, also in French, his tone friendly. "My name is Lucas de Mercere. I'm here from Andorra covenant on a mission of diplomacy and trade. I was hoping to talk to some of the members of the covenant."

"Then be welcome to Ara Maxima Nova Magus," with nod and bow. "Lets see ya comfortable and I'll find the Tribune to greet you."

Borss gestures further inward and starts walking slightly ahead of you. "The masters would have me repeat that we grant pass'n Magi the rights of hospitality, and should you want something we'll do our very best." He smiles, "We are none so grand as other covenants, but I think others lack someth'n too."

You are led past many buildings, many with additions and expansions obvious. There is banter and chatter a few of the covenfolk move through the grounds on miscellaneous errands, and most give Borss and yourself a wide berth. He leads you past the rear of the large barn into a secluded garden with vine covered awnings. Hedges and herb arrangements partition the small area away from the rest of the covenant. Inside is a broad wooden table and sturdy chairs, a small fountain, and a large crate with a scattering of children's puzzles pieces atop. After a few moments you realise that you can no longer hear the bustle of the covenant or the ocean, and the courtyard is protected from the small outside too.

"I'll bring wine", and then pauses briefly to see if you have anything you need or ask; else he'll give you a few moments before he returns.

{OOC: assuming you're ok being welcomed, jump in with anything you'd ask or do, or if you're looking for any specific things.}

"Meeting your Tribune will be excellent," Lucas replies when asked if there's anything he needs. "I should like to pay my respects as soon as possible. And I do thank you for your kind welcome."

As they walk, Lucas occasionally makes comments complimenting the covenant's design or asking a poignant question about its arrangement. In some ways it is simple, as Borss stated. But in others it was surprisingly complex.

"This is a wonderful retreat from the noise of the covenant," he observes when ushered into the courtyard. "I imagine it's quite popular." Then, when offered wine he replies, "that would be most appreciated. I've been on the ... road for some time today." As he waits, Lucas walks around the courtyard, enjoying the quiet interrupted only by the burble of the fountain. He crouches down for a moment to examine the herbs, then finally moves over to sit on the edge of the fountain to wait for his wine and the arrival of the covenant's Tribune.

OOC: Just as a reminder, Lucas has the Gentle Gift, and rarely speaks or uses gestures to cast his spells. As a result, it's very easy for those who don't know him to mistake him for a Redcap.

Lucas does not need to wait long. After a handful of minutes three figures approach the garden. The first is Borss returning, carrying a portable writing stand, and a modest oak chest inlaid with bronze fittings.

The second and third walk together although their dress is entirely different. The man to the left is likely a member of the covenfolk; he is mid thirties, thin, bald, and his dress is simple servants robes. He carries a platter of cheeses and suitable temptations and is keeping his eyes cast downward and away from you.

The man walking next to him is dressed in a style similar to a common worker, but the material and colours are far too glaring to be anything except deliberate and expensive. Primarily blues and greens, although a rainbow sash at his waist and trim of his shirt. He appears in his late forties, has a moustache and goatee beard, a sun blessed face, and wavy black hair cropped short. The Jerbiton house symbol is clearly worn on a gold pendant, matching several other gold rings on each hand. He is carrying an unopened bottle of wine and glasses which he sets down as he speaks.
As he approaches the stand and chest are placed aside, and the man in servants garb gives the garden a once over with his eye, and seeing nothing untoward apart from the children's toys; he begins to leave silently. Borss has entered, nodded politely to you, and appears to be waiting.

"Greeting Magus and welcome to our home. My name is Francois, and I serve as Tribune for Ara Maxima Nova. It is my obligation, but will also be my pleasure to see your stay with us safe and hopefully pleasant."

He offers a bow courtesy enough for you to know he is making no gambles with your status, easily showing due respect even though you maybe a redcap. His presentation is deliberate and he seems relaxed.
(edited to make a little clearer layout)

Lucas returns the bow to Francois. "Thank you for such a warm welcome," he says. "My name is Lucas and I serve as the Assistant Herald for Andorra covenant. I've come on a visit of diplomacy. I've come because even though we're practically neighbors, there's been little communication between our covenants of late. I'd like to remedy that. I think the Order is stronger when its covenants keep in touch."

"And it's a very impressive covenant you have. Not every covenant is willing to put the effort in to be a working covenant like this. Do you make your own wine? I must say that's one of the things that I miss most since moving from Burgandy to Andorra."

OOC: It just occurred to me that with Parma, another magus couldn't tell whether a Mercere magus was Gifted or not from the get go anyway.

" Ah well you openly flatter us now. Ara Maxima Nova is by no means an influential or large covenant in any tribunal. In fact my last covenant was far more developed in traditional facilities even when compared to us today. But I do take pride in our facilities, and while I'd like to consider much of the work my own it is the covenfolk who really do the hard work each day. In fact it's been proven more than once here that they get along fine without us making their days complicated. I will say the prosperity is due to a singular will between the Magi." He's uncorked the wine and is pouring two glasses, momentarily he places one before you."We love wine, myself especially."

He takes well to your suggestion to talk further about covenant, and he appears comfortable talking, relaxing back into the chair with an arm over one side. "Before the covenant there were vineyards here. The original founders took to wine as a small venture to supplement their income, but it wasn't until I joined almost two decades ago that we recast the covenant's image. Before that it was a far smaller affair, with ramshackle facilities and poor organisation. Almost all our resources go back into either direct resources for the vines or indirect research."

Taking a small drink, "..this is one of ours. We drink a wide selection from all over, but do keep some for special occasions. I didn't like this year as much as the few after, but it does work very well with food. Hmm, the cheeses are from around Picardy.There is a family there who tire endlessly for it; bless them. But then you're born from Burgandy you know too well the the passionate reds seep into all our lives. The fire in the Frenchman's blood. Yes, it's taken years, and years more to go still." He then nods to Borss who departs.

Then he returns to you. "I know nothing of Andorra except it's locale. Hidden amongst mountain peaks, likely boasting a commanding presence I'd say. Castles and wizards are such a romantic images. And as you say, I would love to keep in closer communications with our neighbors who are willing. Even trade for this and that, assist where we can. I find that with proximity to Harco I have become lazy during my tenure and oft entreat our local Mercere for favours instead of asking widely to the Order."

Please tell me more about Andorra. I would like to speak at no small length about her to my partners.
And what pray does a Herald do within the covenant body? I'm so out of touch, tis probably a term used throughout the Order for three decades. We do so keep to ourselves.
[hr][/hr]Let me know if you're trying any Perception or Social/observation skills.

Good point. The real poor fella who couldn't tell was Borss, but he only has two modes - wizard mode and mundane mode. As soon as Lucas used any wording of The Order he was going to be treated as best that Borss could manage.

"First let me say that this is an excellent wine," Lucas replies. "If you believe it has years to go, then I very much look forward to what it will taste like a decade from now." He takes another slow sip. "I do miss living in wine country. I bring a great deal of Burgundian wine into Andorra, but it always suffers for the traveling. My heart aches for the reds - and whites - of Burgundy. But, as much as it pains me to say, some things in life are more important than wine."

"But you asked about Andorra and its Herald. I'm afraid Andorra is a bit archaic in its nomenclature. Herald is our office for external affairs. It handles relations with other covenants as well as with the Houses in general. The Herald is also in charge of our interactions with the Mercer House we have at Andorra. So it's a busy job. I wonder if your office of Tribune has similar duties."

"Andorra itself is a very old covenant, and as I said, keeps to old traditions. It's located in a valley in the Pyrenees Mountains and it is, I must admit, located in a castle. But its most interesting feature is not its location, but its status. For you see, Andorra is currently in no tribunal, but remains a covenant apart. It was a member of the old Val-Negra Tribunal. However, over time all of the other covenants in that tribunal have faded, leaving only Andorra, an island amid a sea of tribunals."

"One of our points of greatest pride is our library, which is as fine a library as you'll find this side of Durenmar. In fact, that's another part of my reason in coming here. We've made copies of some of the better books in our library and are looking to see if any of our neighboring covenants are interested in trade. I have a list with me of available books as well as those that could be copied given a season or two of warning. It's no matter of urgency, but I'd be interested in speaking to your Librarian when he or she has a free moment."

OOC: At this stage, Lucas is probably simply using Folk Ken to try and get a feel for Francois. He'll take in his surroundings, but isn't looking for anything in particular.

"Well then, as Herald and Tribune we carry similar burdens. Our Tribune is first and foremost the protector of the covenfolk and the covenant, and speaker for the covenant body. Strictly this includes the defense of the covenfolk against errant supernatural events, or oddly even magi too. In recent years the title has also grown to encompass all the mundane responsibilities of running the covenant. Today Tribune is almost a full time responsibility, which runs the covenant and all it's affairs. You've met my autocrat Borss; he and his staff run much of the daily work, but all else is mine to mismanage. According to the old charter a senior Magus carries the Tribune burden for seven years, and I have three left to serve before the role is either renewed or passed on. That said, this is my third consecutive term."

Francois reaches into a pocket with his sleeve, and removes a small whistle. He blows once and replaces it.

"As for our library, that is somewhat of an embarrassment. When Luc left for his grant expedition he left the covenant in somewhat of a disarray and the library suffered. Had I not known the man I would have said he stripped the greater texts and departed. Poor man has been gone so long that we really do not expect him back. Our longstanding librarian also took ill some years ago, and I have been standing in for him as best I can manage. When lucid he refuses an apprentice or even proxy, but is neither hale nor hearty most days. I am trying to source a junior librarian to take poor Sisto's place, but that takes time too."

"A positive I can speak to is that the library has not been ignored, and many of the much older texts were left untouched. We have some volumes which are probably rare amongst the Order; perhaps because they have such a narrow audience. Many of the previous Magi also seemed to experiment widely, and recorded odd revisions of more common magical effects. If not impudent, I would like to review what you have. Thankfully I have a working knowledge of what we need and what we can do without."

The same bald stern servant enters and Francois turns to instruct, "Please find Helene and ask her to attend me." Once he is gone Francois continues, "I hope you do not mind the imposition, but I would also like my apprentice to understand something of these trades. She has a good eye and probably a better memory than I do."

Francois playfully wiggles a finger at the writing desk, and it starts floating over to his hand. "What do you have in mind?"
[hr][/hr] OOC: that last line is an opener to the trade proper. As we've already sussed the trades we can skip where dice and such would come into play.

"Thankfully we have power spread out among many," Lucas adds. "It makes the burden less on any one of us. And still it sometimes seems like a great deal of work. I don't envy you your position, even with a competent assistant like Borss. I wonder whether you have any time left for research. But I suppose you don't mind it as much if you've been willing to serve multiple terms."

"I'm sorry to hear about the state of your library. I was Librarian at my previous covenant, so I have a keen awareness of what can go wrong with a library left to seed. But I'm happy to hear that it still has its treasures. I'm sure we'll be able to find some common ground for a trade. And we'll be happy to wait for a season or two if a book needs to be copied."

Then, without so much as a word or gesture from Lucas, the flap of his pack opens and a folded up piece of parchment floats out and comes over to his outstretched hand. "Here is the list of our offerings. Those to the left are books we currently have copies of; those on the right are ones we could copy given time."

"As for your apprentice," he adds, "I've no objection to her sitting in. It's a magus' duty to educate his apprentices both in the mundane arts as well as the hermetic ones. And the book trade is something important for her to learn about. I hope some day soon to have an apprentice of my own, though much depends on when one shows up in the House."

Francois takes the summary and begins reading, then smiles happily "well oh my! You have some very interesting works. Lucas I hope we will certainly find items to trade." He spends a few minutes reading quietly until you are both interrupted by a distracting whirl of activity approaching the garden. While the sound does not reach you the malady of colour and gestures is striking and very noticeable.

A slight pretty woman walks amid spiraling cloth of her own multicolored dresses, with pale skin and jet black hair; purples, blues and golds feature primarily. Around her is two simply dressed servants, each appears to be fighting her and each other for her time; one appears almost furious. When she gets within a hand full of paces from the garden's border she stops, raises a hand (in a manner almost identical to Francois to Borss earlier) to silence them, and closes her eyes momentarily. She snaps open her eyes and says something which the garden's magic blocks out, but is very obviously a dismissal. The two assistants depart immediately.

Helene's clothes continue to spin and swirl as she walks forward into the garden. Francois is smiling knowingly as she bows to you, "My Lord, I hope to not intrude," and then looks to Francois "How may I be of aid Master?"

Francois replies "with your continued observance child. Join us and observe. Lucas please let me introduce my apprentice and daughter Helene. Helene please welcome Lucas de Mercere, Herald to the Covenant of Andorra, as our guest in friendship."

Now that she is closer her appearance is striking; both in practiced poise and raw beauty. She is likely in her late teens.

OOC: Gah! Not another Gifted child of a magus! This is the fourth one in the saga so far (that I know of), when it is supposed to be almost unheard of.

"No intrusion at all," Lucas replies to the girl. "We were hoping you could join us to see how book trades happen in the Order." The smile on his face shows that his feelings are genuine.

"Good day to you, Helene," he adds more formally and with a bow of his head when he's told her name. "My older daughter is about your age, maybe a couple of years younger. She's off in Redcap training right now. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"We were just discussing what books our respective covenants had to offer." He gestures at the table and the tight lists of books on yellowed sheets of parchment. "Please, take a look and give us your thoughts on what might be a good trade." A knowing glance at Francois shows that this is really just an opportunity to let her spread her wings and not anything intended to bind either covenant.

The man has a good point. Though do not count Modi and Magni, for they are an uncertainty as of yet (and there is a tricky trick at hand).
Roll 80+ on a stress die :smiley:
Those are the odds.

Ooc: spoiler - do the math, she's an apprentice and he's supposed to be a mid age Magus? Or ignore it as a quirk and move on.

there are a number of superficial elements here designed so that they might be of interest (hooks for later if desired) to magi in play. You've spotted one added to initially resonate with Lucas and also the magus looking at generational research.