Chapter 1 (Spring 1013) Morning on the Battle Field

The sun rises, and the friends slowly come to their senses. The ground is rough and moist, and their bodies ache. They did not have the strength to make proper camp last night, just scrambling together, exhausted from the events. Suddenly the wind turns, and they feel the stench from the field below them, and they remember just how bad the previous day was. In the light of the morning sun, they can glimpse hundreds of bodies scattered across the field, and the glimmering of a few blank arms. Did someone stir down there? If they did, it did not last long. The silence is eerie, and only the group of friends on the hill appear to be alive.

Janus raises himself from his exhaustion and looks round the group on the hill “So we are victorious again my friends, who is still with us under the gore of battle?” He asks the bloodied bodies stirring around him.

Across the battlefield, a hooded figure tries to move without being noticed. Is this one of the local people, come to rob corpses of their weapons and armour, in search of profit? What vile scum could be taking part in such a trade....but then the figure moves past a corpse wearing impressive armour, ignoring the obvious bounty.

The figure pulls his hood back, and starts looking around. To those who recognise him, it is Edwin. He is examining the faces of the dead, looking to see if any of his colleagues are among them, or if there are any allies he can save.

“Edwin, is that you? What brings you to this place of death man, does our Covenant not need your ever loyal service?” Shouts Janus, his voice weak and hoarse from dryness.

From another direction, along a little road that leads to this remote place, the grinding of wagon wheels on dirt sounds. A little cart comes into view, pulled by a solitary mule, with two men sitting on the driver's bench, and three figures walk along beside it, two burly men, armed and armored, and a third, a short, slight, darkhaired man in a leather tunic.

The group stops at the edge of the battlefield. The short man looks at the distant figures for a few moments, then looks to the rising sun. He speaks, then the three walking figures venture out into the battlefield, the shortest in the lead, heading toward the other people standing there, but not in a beeline, the short figure looking around the battlefield as they walk slowly.

[Luciu has cast Sight of the Sigil with words but no gestures, and he is inspecting the battlefield as he walks across to the others.]

“Prepare yourselves my friends, we don’t know who these armed and armoured people are and they may see us as easy pickings” warns Janus to his group.

The group of three approaches the others, but stops about 10 paces away. The small figure shouts in Latin, "Hello! Were you part of this battle? I am Luciu, I study these places. Can I ask you a few questions?"

“Friend or foe of the Diedne stranger?” Responds Janus

Luciu is already tense, but seems to get a little moreso. "Foe. I wasn't sure you were magi, I am Luciu ex Guernicus. And you?"

Edwin looks overjoyed to see Janus, and walks towards him. He then remembers he has news to tell him, and he worries how it will be received. He waits to see what this strange and sinister "Luciu" wants to do.

“Janus ex Flambau, enemy of the Diedne and all their allies and, along with my few companions, victor of this field of battle” replies Janus visibly un-tensing at the introduction.

Luciu smiles back. "Congratulations! Well done. I am cataloguing what they use against us in battle, was there anything new last night, that you hadn't seen before?"

From a nearby cart, an enormous figure sits up slowly, with an overly large hand at the forehead. "If you had seen what we saw in the last battle and in the ones that came before, you would want to forget instead of remembering". He stops to look at his hand, revealing a bad scratch about the right eyebrow, clotted blood on his palm. "What's sure I need to eat, do you plan to feed us only with questions or do you carry something edible?"
While waiting for an answer he gets up, as if reinforcing the question with his stature.
Even at this distance, he towers on the small Luciu, making he seem even smaller.
Only then, Rubellius akwnoleges Edwin's existence. "And you are?" in a confused tone, then he turns to Janus "Janus! I take a few more nap moments than you and you let all these strangers approach us from all directions?" with a mixture of rudeness and tiredness in his voice.

The four men get together on the hill overlooking the battle field. The entourage(s) keep in the background for now. The men speak Latin, and most of the grogs do not understand it. Yet they are alert, hands on hilt, in case there is trouble.

Edwin and Rubellius know each other from the covenant that fell two years ago, but with such an unexpected reunion, it is not strange that Rubellius fails to recognise the old autocrat. The towering figure of Rubellius is harder to forget, in contrast, and Edwin would be very absent-minded if he does not recognise the magus who gauntletted shortly before the fall of the covenant.

Only those who make an Awareness+Perception of 9+ will notice the group appearing from the woods on the far side of the battle field. They move slowly and quietly along the edge of the field, in the shadow of the treeline. Sometimes one or two of them stoop to study something on the ground. Are they that interested in the bodies?

Awareness role failed by Janus

The Sight of the Sigil is an amazing sight, a cascade of traces and sigils that you have never ever seen before. This is the first time Luciu has arrived at battle scene so close after a battle, and the power of the fresh traces, probably of several ritual effects, is overwhelming.

The most obvious trace is several Rego Animàl effects, as if someone was commanding a hoard of beasts into battle. There are several casting sigils which are not easy to tell apart, but there is a stench of fish which cannot be ignored. Over the battle field, there is also a trace of destructive, non-Hermetic magic; it looks like a yellow fog. Maybe, if you could sit down and focus for hours, you could single out more effects.

Oblivious to the newcomers to the battlefield, Luciu feels that there is no threat from anyone present, so he can focus on his work. He begins looking at different parts of the battlefield, staring for long seconds at various areas, wandering a bit, putting sense impressions in his memory palace to be analyzed and recorded later.

The battlefield is a large one, at least a hundred paces across from where you are, and several hundred paces from end to end. People are scattered all over, both soldiers, servants, and unarmed man, presumably wizards.

A couple of things stick out. Some of the fallen warriors appear to have had their guts ripped out in a way no normal weapon can do. No spell springs to Luciu's mind either. Also towards the Northeast, he sees a couple of indentations in the ground, a foot deep, 1-2 paces wide, and 2-3 paces long. It looks as if the soil has been pressed in, rather than dug.

(He will eventually notice the people on the opposite side too, but we do not know yet, if he will spot them, or be notified by Edwin or Rubellius.)

Edwin notices the group by the battlefield.

"Janus, Rubellius, it is good to see you both! Alas, I have no work at our covenant, because it was ruined by the enemy", he sighs.

He then nods in the direction of the hooded figures. "Do you recognise them? Are they allies, or scavengers come to rob the dead?"

There is no telling if these people are known to you, hooded and a hundred paces away. Edwin noticed, of course, that they appeared from the woods and not from the battlefield itself, for whatever that is worth.