A funny thing happened on the way to Ankara

I've got some plot to write and my creative juices (ickh) have run dry. So throw some ideas at me and lets see what sticks.

The scenario: A bunch of young magi set off from Nicaea to a covenant just outside Ankara. The journey is about 166 miles (or 266km for those that work with sensible measurement systems), so its quite a hike. I'm predicting that there should be reasonable roads for much of that distance, but certainly lots of room for off roading, especially as they get nearer the covenant which is up in the Anatolian mountains.

I need some encounters or scenarios to happen to them enroute, mainly as a way to bulk out this section of the campaign so that they can appreciate exactly how far away their covenant is, bond together on the road and, for the new players, get used to the system in a limited environment. Each encounter shouldn't be too long or too deadly, but foreshadowing to future plot is acceptable. Some of this area is also scaintly populated so enocunters with magical beings are not unheard of, and some of it is close enough to people (yet far enough away from big cities) that faeries are also possible.

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You forgot to mention traveling through the sultanate of Rum outside the Theban tribunal, which means they could encounter Djinn who have been bound by Sahir...

The Covenant is just on then Greek side of the border so the journey there won't take them into the Sultanates lands. Part of the chronicle is going to be managing some Turkish neighbours that are bullish and expansionist, although historically the Sultanate doesn't actually take the land until about a century after the start, they are close enough to the border that I might have a small expansion just to flip their liege lord. One of the Turkish Begs has some previous beef with the covenant who have previously stiffed him in a deal. Quite a bit of plot will also take them into Turkish Anatolia and the Holy Land beyond.
I have indeed planned to have some sahirs as re-occurring NPCs, either allies, foes or neither, I'll let the PCs blunder into that.

The sultanate may well expect the Sahir to scry and perform other tasks across the border for them, so the djinn may well appear even before you get to the border.

Depending on the date when the adventure takes place, they could find some briggands that end up being just refugees trying to not starve to death. The refugees come from the recently collapsed Khwarazm Empire, which is run over by mongols from 1219 through to 1221, and this short encounter could serve to foreshadow the mongol horde getting to Europe and the Middle East.