Chapter 1bis (Spring 1013) Arrival in Calais

The sun is setting as the group of travellers arrive in the little village. The redcap told them to look for the Old Broom, a seaside tavern where passage can be found across the channel to Dover. A large two-story building looks out of place among the tiny fishermen's cottages scattered around the small bay. When they approach it, they see the broom, hanging from two large iron hooks above the door.

Obtetrix was enjoying the journey. It didn't afford her much chance to travel in her horse form, mostly because her shield grogs, Einar and Aksel, a pair of twins who were given to her by Crintera to defend her on her journey, and into whichever covenant she will eventually join. They insisted she spend most of the time in her carriage, except when they were traveling through the wilder areas.

The greatest benefit was that she was finally allowed to leave Crintera, now that the war is, hopefully, winding down, with House Diedne's Domus Magna destroyed.

Benedict walked along next to the horses, a tall, lean man, with close-cropped blond hair and beard, and gray eyes sparkling as he chatted away to the beasts. He found that horses always had the best gossip, and he preferred moving under his own power to sitting. He wore a long woolen tunic and trousers, dyed green, and a red cap with a long peacock feather that he'd been told many times was completely unnecessary - but he liked the jaunty look of the thing, and nobody had actually ordered him not to wear it. His walk was still a bit awkward, breaking in the new boots he'd bought for the journey, and he almost tripped as he spun to face to the carriage driver, the uppers were still far too stiff.

He pointed at the inn, and spoke to the driver. "That's where we're headed."

He took a few steps back to the side of the carriage, hopping up onto the step and poking his head in the door's opening, looking around at whomever was inside. "We're here!" he grinned, speaking in Latin.

Inside the inn a red haired man dressed in bright gaudy clothing, Yellow tunic and red trousers with a cloak made up of strips of every colour, sits at the end of the common room telling a story in French to the enraptured crowd. As he finishes with a flourish the crowd applaud enthusiastically as he moves between the tables collecting their willing donations.

Betula struggled with the small hand cart through the mud as she entered Calais. An extremely tall, thin woman, some might call her ungainly. Her simple dress was too short but above her sturdy shoes long socks covered her legs and the stigmata she wished prudence did not require be covered. Her pale face looking out under the hood of her simple wool cloak seemed to not even see the road in front of her, her thoughts on the symbols that had shown on her calf the previous morning, what had been merely buds before had flowered into a horse's head, a broom, a hat not unlike those the Redcaps sometimes wore but not in color as her stigmata almost never displayed color, and a strange bird the likes of which she didn't know. Her stigmata had led her here and now offered a riddle.

She turned to her companion, a man who had followed her from Rhaetia, a Houndsman with no hounds, "Do you have any idea what a horse, a bird, a broom, and a hat might mean?" but before he could answer she looked up and saw the sign of an Inn, a broom. She pointed and led the way towards the door.

Ruedi strode besides Betula, his eyes scanning the crowds. He was a tall muscular man, in clothes that fit someone of better station than he appears to be, though greatly stained from the travels. His bow is slung on his shoulder, and his quiver at his hip.
He was scanning, as always, to see whether there was any possible threats to Betula, as a self-appointed guardian. She never once questioned why he joined her, but she did have the habit of asking strange question that he had no real knowledge on how to answer, but he chalked it up to her wielding strange powers.

A strong, tall, blonde women in dark robes rode with the convoy inside the cart with Obstetrix. Cath'rinne had stayed mostly on her own beyond occasional chatting with her housemate during the trip. During quiet moments, she was engrossed in her reading during the trip, ignoring the landscape they crossed as if it was irrelevent. In a way it was, her mind was already thinking of Stonehenge, and she was somewhat impatient to be there. She'd have flown over by herself already, if she thought that was a safe thing to do. Alas, it would be difficult for the others to follow her. And flying alone into a warzone didn't sound like a great idea.

She had made herself somewhat discreet, avoiding the mundanes whenever possible. It seems, very often, they avoided her too, the scholars that left with her rode alone in her own cart while she rode with Obstetrix. Despite the unease which she generated among the mundanes, she had a clear physical appeal that was obvious to those who saw her.

Cath'rinne would have been aware of Obstetrix for a few years, but the two were not really close until the Ritual of the Twelve Years. Cath'rinne had her gauntlet earlier than Obstetrix, and her aloofness and magical interests may have had a role in keeping the younger magi at bay until this fateful expedition.

As the redcap announced their arrival, poking his head through the door's opening, Cath'rinne replied back in Latin. "Would you be kind enough to talk with the innkeeper and get our rooms and tables reserved, dear?"

Benedict smiles. "Sure! But you don't need to worry, I hear it's not an ordinary inn." He winks, and hops down off the step, striding in to the building.

He bursts into the front door of the inn, smiling and looking around, and walks over to the bar, looking for someone that might be Carl.

"I can't wait till we get to England. I know what you, and others have told me about it, but it would be nice to see for myself, and explore it." And to get out and assume her horse form. She didn't voice it, but it was clear that was also a concern for her. It was only in some wild places that she'd let herself loose. "How long do you think it would take us to find a ship across the channel?"

The door to the inn is left ajar, and you can smell the smoke from the fireplace. The sun is about to set, but you still have daylight and the light from the inn is not ass obvious as it is going to be in an hour or so. The two grogs help the ladies Bjornær down from the wagon and take care of the luggage and horses, as the redcap heads towards the door. It seems that nobody pays much attention to the woman with the handcart, arriving from the South.

When the redcap opens the door and enters, the innkeeper rushes towards him, whispering with the energy of shouting, «'ey, put that cap away please. I don't want any trouble.» Calming down a little, he adds, keeping his voice down¹, «no offense; you are most welcome, but you will want to keep a low profile. I am Carl. You come alone, I assume. How can I be of service?»

The innkeeper is bulky, maybe even obese. The years are starting to show, with a balding head and face red and sweaty. Yet, his arms look healthy and strong, with two old but obvious scars across his right lower arm. The other guests seems to ignore the two people at the door, being more interested in the jester.

¹ Others may hear this on a Per+Awareness 12+ outside or 9+ inside (i.e. Finn). I don't care to see the roll; just roleplay as you see fit.

Benedict smiles, and puts away the cap. He speaks in a low voice, "I'm on my way across, with two friends. I think they'd prefer a private dining room, if you know what I mean? We're just looking for dinner and some warm beds." He knows the chance will come later to trade gossip with the old man, but he doesn't openly suggest it.

«I do know what you mean, I think, and do have a good room at the back for these occasions. Ferrying should be no problem; you can talk to Gwenaël when you have settled in. I shall introduce you.» He glances over the redcaps shoulder to see the rest of the party, ready to show them all into the back. The common room is large and the ceiling is high. Around three sides there is a gallery, and the room he shows you is under the gallery, towards the rear.

Outside, a groom helps the grogs to get the horses fed and watered, and they disappear around the corner together. As the two ladies gather around the door to enter, the two travellers from the South arrive as well. Ruedi is quickly reminded of the evil witches of his childhood's faerie tales and nightmares. One had better stay out of their way. Isn't there another inn where one could stay?

Finn approaches the Redcap and after trying French settles on Anglo-Saxon as that seems to get the best response “Me Finn, noble Redcap. You go England? Me go as well, know land and talk. Me go with you and Magi. Give good guide and story, learn Latin!”

Obstetrix is happy to be guided away to a more private area. She knew her Gift unsettled mundanes, but on the way here she readlly got to see how they reacted to her friend, and while they weren't the best of friends, and she had some reservations about her magical focus, it tore at her heart to see what reactions her Gift elicited from mundanes, and some part of her wanted to find a way to soothe and shield her from that.

Ruedi leans in to Betula, and whispers "Should we look for another place to stay? I do not like the look of those two ladies, especially the one with the blonde hair. She seems very creepy, and I wouldn't trust her."

Benedict looks at Finn, shaking his head, as he doesn't understand a man speaking a language in which he is not fluent. He poses as a mother talking to a babe held in her arms, then points to Finn, smiling.

Finn smiles and nods, moving away to prepare his next performance when it is clear he is not being understood at all. He identifies the gifted people as their aura washes over him, a sensation remembered from his time with the French Tytalus. He approaches the inn keeper and asks if he knows where the group are going to and from when and where they intend travel.

«If I knew, it would not be for me to share, Finn. Do you want me to let them know that you asked?» Carl smiles, ever polite. «I shall be happy to introduce you.»

The crowd of guests is becoming uneasy. As the redcap's entourage is entering, you can hear the mutter about whether one out to get home before dark. Only a group playing dice at the far end of the longtable seem to be ignoring the new arrivals. Carl looks over the crowd and says, «I can do that afterwards. Let's see if this crowd needs another drink before the sun sets. Will you give them another story?»

The room given to the redcap is a sizeable, multipurpose room, with bunk beds along the walls and a big table in the middle. In the far end, light is let in through a window without glass. You can feel the draught, but a half-closed shutter takes the worst of the wind. There are a eight beds total, each wide enough for two, and an even larger group could be seated.

[OOC. Feel free to write overlapping accounts. Even if I have introduced the room, I don't mind further accounts of what the redcap does before he enters. Likewise, feel free to write ahead, making assumptions. I try to go with the flow without stalling.]

“Carl, an introduction would be most welcome but I don’t have any Latin, which I know is their preferred language. I want to travel back to England to record the events of the ongoing fighting. I will of course continue to entertain your patrons my friend. I am sure I will need the silver to pay for the channel crossing. From what I know of the members of the Order they are not inclined to acts of generosity.” Replies Finn.

«We'll get to that when the sun sets and the locals leave; then we have peace and quiet.» Carl dismisses Finn and turns first to the crowd in the common room, before he returns to the new arrivals to make sure that they have everything they need.