“In Ettorio’s case, he’s a rake.”
“Mmm… more of a hoe.” — Carenza Vega & Ettorio Iluni
Over the next two days, the group prepares. Opilio helps Ambira pack for the road, but spends most of his time alternately coming to terms with his many new responsibilities and coping with his wife Deccera’s increasing stress levels regarding the same. Ettorio spars with Ramilante, works at decoding the Blackharvest manifest, dodges Ivella’s ever-increasing attentions and spends more time at the Falcon and Goose. Carenza and Vesper also spar with Ramilante, the former practicing with more aspects of her Uromni weapon. Vesper also writes letters ahead to the Sespechs of Canteria and Cinquedea, informing them of her intended arrival. Finally they say their farewells and depart.
It’s good weather, if hot, during the trip to Canteria. Ambira is somewhat reserved at first, but eventually begins to show signs of her mother’s fire. She questions the necessity of the whole affair, but accepts the reasoning her troubled father and his companions provide. A day later, she asks a few probing questions of Ettorio that throw the Iluni into some consternation and a bit of unexpected self-reflection.
The guards at Canteria’s gates recognize the group, Opilio in particular thanks to his performance at the Highsun Games. They inform the group that Prince Temagli is paying for their stay at the Golden Ram, a rather nice inn. They also pass on word that a summons to their audience will arrive tomorrow. The group settles into the inn temporarily, but then splits up to tackle several different agendas.
Opilio and Carenza worry first about getting a fine court dress for Ambira; if they want one by the time of the audience, it’ll require finding a tailor willing to work through the night. Ettorio, of course, can suggest one — the Vira Val halfling family, highly recommended by his cousin Vestiri for their diligence and discretion at all hours of the night. Even bringing their own silk, the work is a costly 60 reganti, but the result is quite admirable.
Ettorio, for his part, drops by Alicorn Pillars where he meets Vestiri about to head out for the evening. Ettorio mentions that he’d like his cousin to take on the challenge of Opilio’s daughter, and after a few questions, Vestiri agrees. The two seal the agreement with a night of carousing, and dazzle Vestiri’s many friends and colleagues with their display of Iluni wit.
Vesper travels to the Gnomon, where she finds that Tenumbra is entertaining a guest: Torantia, a military-seeming adept who introduces herself as from House Miriadis. Vesper explains that she’ll be staying at the Golden Ram, and answers Torantia’s questions about her military experience in the negative. She then leaves, a little troubled by the implications.
The next morning, the first thing to arrive is the Vira Val dress for Ambira. After that comes the summons — Temagli wishes to meet them out at the old Dysian arena, where his party is indulging in an equestrian excursion. Finally, Vestiri arrives. The group quickly sees to getting Ambira some more proper riding attire (the dress now sadly inappropriate), and at Vestiri’s recommendation, Opilio purchases a new jacket and has his beard trimmed down to something more fashionable.
The Prince of Calvera receives them under a summer pavilion, offering refreshments before the talk turns to the group and their future plans. Temagli seems clearly interested in their future as well as their ambitions, stressing in particular that he would like to see the manifest once it’s been decoded. He warns the group that Prince Bellostia is in a foul mood of late, and they should tread carefully when in Invicci. He speaks with each in turn about their individual plans as well. Ettorio is carefully evasive when under the prince’s scrutiny; Opilio straightforward and humble. Carenza states that her intentions are to form a company of her own, one that is more trustworthy than the Scarhawks or Manticore Company. And Vesper speaks frankly with the prince about her concerns regarding House Miriadis — concerns Temagli seems to share. The talk then moves to less serious chat about the opera and other arts, before the prince ends the audience and the group returns to the shelter of the city walls.