The gray smooth river rocks that Martin the Redcap had given each of you turned green, meaning it was time to set off for the north. You were to meet him outside of Carlisle, on the southern road. The instructions were a bit vague for a pre-arranged meeting place, but he said there’d be a landmark that would stand out - something Hermetic, he’d added when pressed, and then he’d tugged his red cap. All together, having to find him near Carlisle didn’t seem like the riskiest part of the venture. Leaving your current situation behind was the big step, at least for most of you. From what Martin told you, it would be a step worth taking.
He came to you with his proposal last fall, seemingly seeking you out specifically, in the particular region of England where you could be found. He introduced himself jovially, stating he was the Redcap for the northern region of the Stonehenge Tribunal, facilitating communications for the covenants up there. He said he took pride in keeping his ears open for any information that might be useful to the Order and that what he’d heard recently, and then followed up with a visit, had him extremely excited. This excitement was evident by how animated he became as he shared the news with you. He said he’d found Roman ruins, but not just any. This fort was the linchpin in the magical defenses that Hadrian had built to fend off the northern barbarians, and must therefore be the site of many powerful magics and ancient secrets, and that you could be the one to rediscover them. He’d also heard that the purest vis known to man could be found there. One pawn of the stuff, he said, yields as much power as three normal pawns. He didn’t know how such a thing could be possible and understood your skepticism, but what if it were true, he’d asked? A third rumor that he’d passed on was that the villagers who lived near the ruins were curiously long-lived, some living into their 100s. Maybe, he suggested, there was some ancient rite that even now is still active - a blanket longevity ritual that covered all that was within a certain boundary, perhaps? He didn’t know for sure if this was true, but again he asked, “what if it were?” Somehow, as he rambled on, he found a way to give you exactly the nudge you’d needed to be enticed to take a look at the site. After that, he’d made his proposal, which was this: he would tell you where this unique magical site could be found, and you were to cut him in on whatever it was you might find there. He’d take whatever percentage there would be, depending on the number of magi who were adventurous and hardy enough to make the attempt, and whatever it was that you’d find there. And he was convinced there would be plenty to go around. He wasn’t sure exactly of what, but it had to be good, considering what he’d heard.
And so, one by one, you all arrived at the meeting place. Turned out, it was a large farmhouse just off the road where a lone menhir stood. Martin had placed a red cap on its crown to mark it. The farmer and his family kept clear of you, but were always ready to provide a meal and whatever else might be needed. A few days passed in quiet anticipation, and now the last of the group has reached the farmhouse. Tonight, after the meal, Martin asked you to assemble in the main room with everyone else. Over the drumming of the rain outside, he says with a smile, “Maybe we should start with introductions, for the benefit of the latest arrival. You all know my name already, so I’ll defer to whoever else wishes to start.”