Chapter 2: Dankmar

It was a long and slow procession that walked through the dark inhospitable winter forest that grew ever more quiet the further they went. Then after a few hours, they hurt the clinging of weapons and armor ahead.

An incredibly beautiful blond woman ( for whom the snow parted easily and three small dark-haired armored men came towards them. From a distance the girl shouted: You must be Horst's party. "I am your sister Larinda, let me lead you the last few miles to Dankmar!"
Theron came flying back, landing on Honorus left shoulder and happily pecked at his hair.

Honorus moves forward until their combined spells and cleared the snow away. "Mistress Larinda. I am Honorus ex Tremere. My traveling companions are Rabanus ex Criamon," a pause while they exchange nods, "Hildegard ex Mercere" another pause,"Horst ex Mercere and Arturous ex Tytalus. We thanks you for your hospitality."

Honorus will gladly stop his snowplow spell and allow her to lead.

The girl politely nods towards Horst. Larinda's look quickly passes Rabanus, and barely acknowledges Hildegard, before it dwells on Honorus and Albirich, before finally settling on Arturous whom she favors with a warm smile.
"You are welcome all of you. Redcaps' tidings are most welcome in this lonely forest", she says batting her eyes and blushing in a very becoming manner.
"Visitors to Dankmar are few", and you cannot imagine how glad I am to see you. Allow me to lead you through the Silent Forest.
Only song or strong magic can keep the fear at bay. You'll all have to sing a gay tune to get through our defenses. She starts:

"Green is the forest's
sing with the elves' jests,
under the tree.

Hildegard takes over the melody:

"Cold is my little hand,
when it snows
Warm in the winterland,
my heart glows."

Diederik's croaky voice goes on:

"Let us sing a lusty
marching song
let us hug some busty
maid ere long."

ooc: don't worry - rhyming is a one-time event - I don't plan on turnng this into "Sound of Silence".

Arturous follows the groups through the darken wood, but doesn't join them in their joyful song. He sustains his brooding demeanor, lost in his thoughts.

[size=85]ooc: Arturous has a total resistance of 20 vs magic affecting his mind, so he should be protected vs the spell as outlined in GotF. [/size]

"Through forests deep
and snow tail high
we do not weep
we need not sigh"

They move on through the woods, which look dark and forbidding. Larinda looks surprised (and curious) when she sees that two of the magi son not join the song.
After a minute or so, Arturous and Honorus get the impression that something is trying to crawl through their Parma. A few moments later, the attempt is repeated. Then, after a minute, they feel three effects impact on their Parma.

ooc at gozer: your charracter doesn't know the guidelines in the book (nor do you - since I could change tthem for the saga). Plus, if they try long enough, they will eventually roll a "1" on a stress die... . Then again, you might be right.

Arturous sings softly in a strange language, the words sound somewhat familiar
“My beloved has gone away,
I search for her every day
She has my heart in her hold,
True love has made me old

in every life we have
some trouble,
when you worry you make
it double
don't worry, be happy
:smiley: :smiley:

ooc: but really

Honorus humms a little tune then starts singing.

moon, moon, crazy moon
natural moon
torn apart and snoozing moon;
now stay away goon

The ominous feeling fades to a small voice in the back of your heads. Still, the trees appear to be dark - depite their snow cover.
You notice that Larinda uses an effect enchanted into a glove not unike the spell Honorus improvised to clear a path through the snow. It closes again behind the party. You also realise that the three dark-haired grogs look alike, as if they were brothers. Their eyes are strangely dull, yet their movement has the precision of automatons.

Larinda clearly enjopys having people to talk to. She tells you about Dankmar's founding history and hints that the other magi at the covenant may be somewhat gruff.

You enter a strong wooden palisade. Inside you find six identical wooden buildings, obviously magically created by someone whose sigil involved eyes. Their Aegis ritual is powerful: The music of magic that normally surrounds you becomes a distant whisper as the ritual blocks most of your magical abilities.
Larinda sends a way a grog who returns with a pouch. Then she hands the magi iron rings and tells you to wear them. She almost forgets Hildegard, but when the girls protests, she is also given a ring.

Then she assigns the magi well-heated single rooms with magically warmed water and a soft bed, probably the best guest quarters Dankmar has, and takes the grogs to the infirmary. She tells them to refresh themselves, allows them to wander the grounds, except the private areas and the library, but only in the company of a Dankmar grog ("so you don't fall prey to our defenses" she smiles apogetically). She invites them to dinner after sunset.

You notice that she seems eager to be alone with Arturous, who gets his room last.

After washing and borrowing a new (and darker) robe from one of the grogs, Arturous heads to the infirmary to check up on their travelling companions. Only after he is satisfied that they are taken care of does he joins the rest of the party for dinner.

Rabanus is surprised of the hospitality they receive and the niceness of his quarter. At Durenmar, he had heard darker tales about Dankmar.

"Oh well, once again it is proven that nothing is always like it seems" he thinks.

Still he will only announce his former home covenant if asked about it.
If not all is false what Rabanus heard about Dankmar, then this might just be a good place to start studying some from his Mentem vis he calls his own. But for now he will just wait and see what the other inhabitants of Dankmar will be like.

Hildegard spends the afternoon observing the servants of the covenant.

Then, she takes a hot bath and braids her hair. Diederik is given off for the day. He manages to befriend the gamekeeper, an ugly fellow more at home with animals than people.

The evening meal is served in the hall, on a pale ash table. The chair at the head of the table is empty. Larinda introduces you to two women, Masters Orphedra and Jiphella, who flank the empty chair. Orphedra is a thin woman with a piercing stare, whose hair is tied in a tight bun. She exudes a smell of rotting wood. Her hands which she stiffly holds out to be kissed is bony and cold.
Jiphella is just the oposite. Bloated like a toad with fatty hair, she croaks a friendly welcome and tries to hug you to her enormous flabby bosom.
Horst is seated opposite Larinda and Hildegard sits next to her, to honour the filii of Mercere. The other magi get the remaining seats.

Before dinner is served. a long, black coat shuffles to the table. The magi from Dankmar rise, expecting the same of you. A bony finger appears from underneath the coat, and points at Jiphella. You realize that you have lost full control over your vocal cords - you can only whisper in the presence of the cloak.

Jiphella raises her goblet and toasts to the guests, who braved the dangers of the snowy forest to bring news. "My mother wants me to tell you that she is grateful for your deed and asks me to pay the Mercere. You have given us more - much miore - than you are aware of. My mother says that she will grant you hospitality and place to stay until it is safe to travel again. You may move freely, but have to stay outside the library and our sancta. She warns you not to poke your noses into our affairs though. You are the first in over 40 years who are allowed to stay at Dankmar for a season. Your wounds will be seen to. Don't leave the wooden palisade without company though - the forest around here is dangerous. She thanks Horst for the news he has given her and asks you to tell us more about the world outside our forest.
Is there anything else we can do for your comfort?"

ooc: this is going to be a short chapter designed mostly for spending xp. After all we've got a coveant to found...

Jiphella asks Rabanus and the others to retell their journey, asking questions from time to time. She shakes her head when they describe the bockman's reaction and mumbles to herself. She asks Horst detailed questions about the wolf, especially the lead wolf.
She looks questioningly at Orphedra who shakes her head and remarks: "Lupus magicus, not Lupus fatus. Contains two pawns of animal vis in the tongue. Some are as intelligent as a grog. Still, not exactly typical lupus behaviour to wait around for so long."
Jiphella agrees: "Master Horst, do you have enemies? Powerful enemies who can command the beasts of magic?"

Horst shakes his head slowly. thoughtfully. Just then the food is brought, fish, venison and baked apples filled with cinnamon and raisins. The wines are excellent as well.

When Arturous asks Horst to teah him in Magical Theory, Horst hesitates for a moment, then sighs: "I would have liked to learn more about the creatures in this forest", he says. "But I owe you a favor, and it is always a good idea to repay one's favors quickly. Teach you I will. All of you who are interested. He looks at Larinda and the other young magi, but of course excludes the elder magi".

ooc: Horst is a good teacher (virtue) with a com of 2, so he will achieve a total of 10xp (he's definitely the right person to ask!).

"Not enemies of master Horst that much is almost certain" Arturous mentions casually as he sips some water from his goblet.
"It is more likely that they were after the message he was carrying. Someone didn't want it to arrive to Dankmar, at least not at the present time"

"That makes no sense at all, Tyro Arturous", Larinda shakes her head. "The only magi that we reularly come in contact with are those from Durenmar. Durenmar 's self-importance can be a pain sometimes - but without their help, Horst would be dead now! We have little contact to the outside world - our only enemies are the axe and the church bell, for we are true Guardians of the Forest. "

Horst shrugs: "I am just a lowly redcap. A scholar and a teacher. Maybe I'm getting too old for the road. Dankmar is a diffuclt to reach place. I will have to warn Harco that they have to be careful about traveling here."

The hood at the head of the table makes a hissing sound, but Jiphella raises her hands placatingly. "You know how welcome you are here. Do you want another apple with cinnamon? I know how much you like spices, Horst."

Horst nods and rubs his hands as she puts another apple on his plate.

Arturous dines lightly and listens attentively to the ongoing conversation, but stays quiet for the most part.
After the feast is concluded and the discussion dies out, he politely excuses himself and leaves for a late night stroll about the convent grounds before turning to bed.
[size=85]OOC: …nothing else I wish to play out[/size]