Chapter 0: The Journey of Tamas

Tamas looks away for a few moments after Endre mentions his pater. He blinks and tries to compose himself "No it's ok. It's a lethal business." He pauses for a moment then turns to Emil "Did you check on the mules? They have enough fodder and water for the night? Maybe it's time to get some sleep. It's a long day tomorrow."

As the last rays of light shine upon the mountains, you can see a few figures moving from one camp to the other, stopping for a few moments to talk to the people there. Some are easily recognizable as monks, others look like youths offering their services to fetch wood or take care of animals. One or two may be peddlers selling their wares. But a few are women as well. Seeing Tamas' look, Endre comments, "Probably trying to exchange their favors for some food, or coins." His tone is non-judgmental.

Be it as it may, that night none of them visit your small camp.

Tamas sleeps badly as he has been doing the last few weeks. The events when his pater died keeps haunting his dreams. He gets up and takes a walk through the camp before the first rays of dawn chases away the darkness.

"Trouble sleeping, magister?" Endre's voice startles him. It isn't loud by any mean, but Tamas simply didn't expect it from that direction. The grog's form seems wrapped up in his bedroll by their small fire, but the voice came from furhter out in the darkness. Endre moves out of the darkness to stand closer to the fire, warming his hands. The air is damp and cold.

Tamas looks puzzled at Endre standing by the fire and then at his bedroll. He also looks for Emil to see if he lies in his bedroll right next to where Tamas were sleeping earlier. [Assuming he is there, which means there are two sleeping bodies of grogs and one standing up]

"Where did you come from?" Tamas whispers in a harsh voice looking at the grog with his face showing disgust.

Tamas can hear Emil snoring, so he is reasonably certain that his grog is indeed sleeping there.

"Just standing watch, magister," the older grog replies. Then, noticing Tamas looking at his bedroll the the shape there, he barks a small laugh. "Sorry, an old habit I picked up." He walks to his bedroll and throws the cover aside, revealing the shape to be formed of supply bundles. "Makes potential attackers think that we're all sleeping, so they don't think to look for someone standing watch just outside the firelight."

Tamas looks at Endre with an austere face, then looking at the bedroll and the supply bundles. "Very good" he mumbles as he loosens up a bit.
He walks out in the darkness away from the camp and then casts Vision of Heat's Light on himself where he thinks as few as possible can hear him and no one should see him.

(Non-stress situation, no problem.)

Tamas then walks around the perimeter of the entire camp staying in the darkness but looking at the warmth of the bodies that either lies on the ground sleeping or those sitting or standing guard. He keeps a distance to all living beings and walks slowly so he doesn't trip over any non-living obstacles. As soon as the first light appears he goes back to Endre and Emil.

The going is slow, as the ground is rocky and uneven, with shrugs and trees scattered around. In many places, particularly near the merchant wagons, Tamas can see the heat of human guards standing watch for those sleeping. The young magus doesn't complete his walk around the many camps before the first rays of the sun start appearing at the top of the eastern mountains.

The day is uneventful. Packing the camp and reloading the mules, then returning to the stretched-out group following the merchant train. The clear sky of the morning clouds up somewhat in the afternoon, but thankfully there is no rain... yet.

That evening, as the trio is setting up camp, a pair of young teens approach your camp, offering to fetch firewood for you in exchange for some food.

"Of course. Emil give them some of the bread and they can have some of the stew as well." Tamas says to his grog.
The magus sits silent by himself for the most part of the evening, eating some from the food but otherwise lost in his own thoughts.

After the youths have brought back a reasonable pile of fallen branches for firewood, they sit down to munch on their bread and eat the stew you provide them. As they do so, they chat with Emil (and, to a lesser degree, the much older Endre), asking questions about where your group is coming from and going to, who is their master (you), the places you've been, etc. They also comment on your mules, appreciating how such animals are quite handy when travelling.

Once they've finished eating, they thank you again for the stew, before moving on.

Tamas lets Emil do most of the talking with the youths but he listens to them and asks them where they come from and what plans they have.
When they have moved on he asks Emil quietly to check if something is missing from their belongings, just in case.

The youths mention that they live in a nearby village, and occasionally come to provide services to passing travellers.

Emil looks surprised at Tamas' order, for he hasn't seen the youths come anywhere near their packs. He complies anyway, only to report back that nothing seems to be missing.

That evening also passes without any further disturbance to your camp. The next day sees a little bit of rain. Although it has passed by the time you make camp in the evening, the ground is damp for the evening. From a distance, Endre notices that the same youths that visited your camp the previous night are selling more firewood to other encampments.

"It looks like they travel with us for a while." Tamas remarks to his grogs. "How near is their village do you think?" he asks with just a slightest hint of sarcasm.

"It's possible, even if unlikely, magister," the older grog shrugs. "The merchant wagons we are following aren't moving very fast. So they might be getting here with only a few hours of walking. Or they got enough coin from their wood to make it worth staying with the caravan for a few days." After a moment, he adds, "But you are right to be wary. They might be petty thieves, or scouts for brigands. Or simply what they appear to be. Hard to tell."

"True" the magus nods at Endre's comments. "They seem genuine but you never know. Kids and youths can easily play on their innocence." he grins gloatingly. "Just keep an eye on them or any strangers coming close to our belongings but be friendly and helpful. If they want to help they deserve something in return."

The next day, none of you see the youths going about the camps. Your camp is brazenly visited by a woman offering her charms.

Tamas takes a brief look at the woman's charms and asks her what they do. He is also interested in where she comes from and if she has a family, some small talk basically. In the end he politely tells her that he is not interested in buying anything but he wishes her best of luck.

(Not magical charms. Hers :laughing: )