Chapter 1bis (Spring 1013) Arrival in Calais

«I don't know. They could have tailed Mordred, couldn't they? We cannot afford any risks. We are not as many as we used to be, and there are not so many good places to hide from the witch hunters. We really can't risk anything. We have risked too much. We have to be sure.»

«The powers are not so rare. Not so unnatural as Eadric wants to believe. You just need to have the patience to listen; to find your role. Some become healers. Some become animal lords. Some become seers. But those who close their eyes and ears will never find their true self.»

"No. I took your son who they were looking for into hiding outside of town. Then I turned into my heartbeast, and I spent a lot of time flying above the woods, watching. And I flew through the forest. If they had tailed him... if they had tailed us, I would have spotted them before the group made its way to the coach unless they were invisible somehow, and I doubt someone who persecutes magic users has invisible agents. I have good eyes when I fly, and a scout hiding from humans from behind a tree rarely thinks about the bird thirty feet in the air who sees him between the branches. Even if he does think to hide from the bird... it doesn't really matter. The smell of a human is quite distinctive when you're in a forest. I would have known." She seems quite sure of herself, or her senses, as she speaks.

She pauses for a moment. "We saved your life. We hid your son from the patrols who were looking for him and who would likely have brought him to your side to torture him too. Our magic is powerful, and we can offer your son and yourself a future, if you assist us. I think your and your son's special skills would be of value if you joined us. Conceivably, we could also take in others from those you call your people. But that will require you to trust us and be more forthcoming with what you know. If your instinct is fighting it... that may be a reaction to my gift. There's a reason I usually avoid towns."

«Oh. The Gift,» says Mordred with awe, «like Alric the Wise you mean. You remember when he came.» He looks at his father for confirmation, and turns back to Cath'rinne as he continues, «I did not like him. But they say he the most powerful wizard of the forests of England.»

«Maybe.» The father hesitates. «I do not want to be ungrateful. We are just used to being cautious. It has become a habit, and a necessity. Now we are, of course, in the same boat. Shapeshifting is such a rare Gift, and what you did to get me out of gaol is ... I have never seen anything like it.»

He pauses, pondering, before he continues. «We can go to our camp to rest. I think we should. Most secrets are not mine to share, but given that you have already seen the location of this one, I think we can go without asking the elder.»

She nods. "Thank you."

OOC: Rolled Int+Order of Hermes Lore of 11 in case she might have heard of an Alric the wise.

Cath'rinne turns to her sodales and the companions. "I think the key question is what do we do with the coach. Do we hide it, and if so how? Do we have a way to let it cross over unfavorable terrain like that without losing its wheels or leaving weird tracks? Or do we let it continue ahead for a while to hide our entry into nature and catch up with it later? If we leave the coach behind, who do we leave with it? Bearing in mind that, while I can fly there quickly, most of us are on foot and we're looking to walk for a day, so any sun duration spell will run out before we return."

Malhad urge you to hide the coach, or drive it far away from where you enter the forest. «We need to do all we can to hide our tracks.» He does not offer any ideas to how though.

Betula overhears him talking to Mordred about a wizards more powerful than any wizard of the forest, including Alric the wise. They were the ones to wage war, and cause such destruction on the land.

The name Alric means nothing to Cath'rinne. It sounds more like a Saxon hedgie than an Hermetic magus.

"My skills at Muto are sadly lacking, but if we take the coach off-road, I can cast a spell that will increase the speed at which the plants grow, and it should be enough to hide the coach from casual eyes. If our friends here are willing to show us to a camp of their people, we should take them up on their kind offer, and find out more about what's going on here, before we head off to see Castellum Veridian. Plus, I'll admit that meeting other healers is of much interest to me."

Cath'rinne explains her idea to lift the coach to protect the wheels while hiding the tracks, then camouflage the coach deeper in the woods and hopes one of her sodales will do the former.

She will step out of the coach then cast Trackless Step with a group target for the horses dragging the coach, herself and any accompanying horsemen / footmen. Spell level 20.

This will normally take 1 stamina for spontaneous casting / 2, and 2-3 extra stamina points based on the roll. Ceremonial casting total with ReTe of 16. DiceParser is not responding so I'll let the GM roll the dice.

Edit: GM rolled a 7, so that's 2 extra stamina, for a total of 3.

Obstetrix takes on her Heartbeast form, before starting casting the spell to lift the cart, so that it doesn't leave any tracks, while Cath'rinne's spell takes care of the horses' tracks, including Obstetrix's own. For some reason she took a smug moment to savor this, but then, with a nigh, she began to cast the spell. It wasn't a spell she has learned, but it was supposed to be within her power to do it, and because of that, she cast it ceremonially, so that it has a better chance of success.

OOC: has +20 casting bonus, ReHe10 spell.

1 Like

Mordred and Malhad watch the operation with awe, mumbling between themselves. «How did they do it?» «This is beyond even Alric the Wise. This looks like the warlocks of the White Horse or their enemies could do these things.» Then suddenly he lowers his voice and whispers to Mordred while watching Betula out of the corner of his eye.

Until then, they made no attempt of secrecy, so Betula and or Saxons are likely to have got the gist of their conversation.

The spells work well, and the magæ move the wagons 25 paces into the woods before they hit an obstacle which make them lose concentration on the spells. This took about 15 minutes, to navigate the wagons between trees and branches, plus the ceremonial casting time. I suppose 25 paces suffice. There is plenty of materials for camouflage.

Cath'rinne will ask the grogs and companions to start to camouflage the coach. She is trying to recover a bit before she leaves the coach. Assuming someone translates what Mordred and Malhad are discussing between them, she will ask them "What do you know about these White Horse warlocks and their enemies?"

Finn will camouflage the wagons as requested.

Finn has good help from the two grogs, who seem to be more used to the heavy lifting, but every willing hand helps.

Benedict explains the situation to the horses, so they will remain calm and not run away. He helps with the camouflaging of the wagons, providing more direction than effort.

Betula translates most of what they said but does not say to the others that she knows that White Horse is Castellum Veridian.

After they have a moment to quietly converse Betula steps towards Malhad and Mordred and addressing them in Saxon says, “You have guessed correctly, we are of the same Order you speak of, these warring sorcerers as you call them. Our Order made war upon itself, many of us counseled against it but when we failed to move the others towards peace we fled and hid to avoid the war. My apprenticeship started at Castellum Veridian, which you call ‘White Horse’ but when the war began ten years ago my master took me to the Alps to wait out the war. We failed you and I am sorry but We have returned to these lands to help repair the damage our sisters’ and brothers’ war has caused.” She then is silent, watching the father and son for their reactions.

1 Like

Malhad and Mordred listen in silence and take a while to answer. «You ... must find the land very different from when you left. What do you hope to achieve by coming back?»

Malhad continues to explain that the site of the White Horse is still a site of Power, even if the treasures of the of the warlocks have long been plundered. The raiders have later been driven North, by Eadric and Wulfric, or by the allies of the White Horse, he does not know.

When Cath'rinne asks via interpreter, he explains that the White Horse was a manor housing mighty Warlocks, following their books and not the Ways of the Forest like them. It was raided and destroyed about two years ago, by other mighty Warlocks. How much of this Betula translates, I do not know though.

At that point, they are eager to go, and they inspect the concealment made by Finn and the grogs. They some branches here and there while they mumble some words in a strange tongue, not even Saxon. The leaves seems to grow a wee bit and cover whatever was not already covered. Was that magic, or just skill, you are not too sure. The subtlety was far from what you know.

«Come on. Let's go. We have a long walk ahead of us.»

Obstetrix makes a mental note to ask them about their magic later. Things like that might be of use to know, if she can gain their trust, and expanding the art of Herbam would be good.

Cath'rinne will shape into her heartbeast form and let them take the lead, keeping an eye out for anything interesting from up high while following the group.

Having hid the wagons to everyone's satisfaction, you set off. The two locals press on, allowing only short rests and quick nibbles. When the sun sets they want to continue, moving lightly and nimbly through the dense forest. It is almost as if the forest gives way and nudges them along.

«Are you coming, they ask?»

Most of you find it a lot harder. I think someone cast the Intuition of the Forest, just to notice a sudden change and increased difficulty when the sun set. You stumble in roots, bump into branches, and are scratched up by twigs, and in between you lose sight of the people ahead, only to be alerted to their location when they bump into something and squeak.

«It is not long, now,» says Mordred, «maybe two hours if you hurry.»

Above the forest, the sky is clear, and the vulture has little problem navigating.

Horse size, on the other hand, is a lot harder to squeeze between the trees than human size. The horse's sense of smell helps though.

1 Like

Obstetrix will continue in her horse form, and make the occasional stops to cast Pass the Unyielding Portal, to bend some branches and roots out of her way. Though her Intuition of the Forest helps her as well.

And in the back of her mind, she's already starting to formulate an idea for a spell that will allow herself, and possibly others, to pass through a forest unhindered.

1 Like

Once they are away from the mundane horses, Benedict announces, "I'm going to return as a bear. Don't be frightened."

He goes out of sight of the rest of the party, (where he takes off his clothes and puts them in his satchel, before changing it into its scar form) and returns a minute later in the promised bear shape.

He will attempt to use his superior size and strength to make an easier path, as well as using his keen hearing and scent to be aware of any potential dangers.