Chapter 2: Fray's Journey to Nova Castra

{OOC: Am I right in saying that the covenant is within the delta in the far north east point of the Sea of Azov? Well that's where Fray would plan to head anyway; perhaps being a little lost is ok when setting out.}

Since the battle and the tribunal ruling Fray would have already had been sorting his life, and trying to some order back into his life. That would include packing and stowing most of the lab materials, giving away all the inconsequential items to the covenfolk who might want them, and placing the items he may yet want into storage. The important items for storage at the old covenant are some mementos of his wife and his lab notes; both of which he'd lock-up in a chest and entrust it to the Redcap while he finds his way.

His plan is to travel very light and have his small amount of personal effects sent for. Nothing beyond what cannot be lightly carried. A medallion that his wife worn is now worn beneath his traveling furs, and a tightly leather wrapped bundle of notes and extracts of his last projects.

To begin with the Fray will contact a Redcap to see if he can get a better idea of where the covenant is. As a starter he's know it was in the far east, at the edges of Novgorod, and that whatever path he takes it is a journey of well over 2000 miles.

To the redcap named William : "My goal is the Covenant of Nova Castra, which I believe to be on the far eastern reaches of Europe. Perhaps on the Black Sea. Being such a distance, I'm loathe to venture without some advice on exactly where the covenant is - and would be more than willing to compensate for the time and information for a suitable path. Oh, and this short letter to them, should it find it's way to them faster than I am able."

The letter is a very simple address to the Magi of Nova Castra,
"Greetings sodales.
I have been struck with curiosity by the venture to which you have begun, and wish to visit your wonderful enterprise - and although presumptuous I have undertaken to travel from Brittan to you. I am not yet aware of my date of arrival, only that I expect some challenge in the crossing from Brittany and in finding the covenant.
I hope to be making your acquaintance shortly.
Magus Fray, Follower of Bonisagus.
In the year of our Lord {date} etc."

If the redcap is unhelpful, then I'll make for Harco in the Roman tribunal and try to get directions from there. My understanding is that Harco has records on where to find most covenants, so should be helpful. Assuming the redcap is keen, and haggles a bit on service, I'd let the Redcap think he has a good deal found, and then add...

"Now William that seems a very healthy venture for you, certainly a generous fee. Lets include the pre-arranged transport of a small chest once I send for it as well. I assume that our agreement and the information letter can be sent to Harco, and that'll round up the arrangements?

Is there perhaps anything I can help you with William?"

That done, Fray will bid his covenfolk and other Magi farewell and leave as soon as possible.

"Then I am off to Harco. I have always wanted to see the core of the House Mercere."

Traveling to Harco should be reasonably straight forward, and if that is too troublesome for the storyline, then more than happy to alter it so Fray stays around a few weeks before leaving so that the information can be returned from William the Redcap.

For daily travel Fray will transform into a crow using the "Cloak of Black Feathers" which he knows formulaic, and has an art combination well above base needed.
Also assuming that I'll use casting reqs for my worn gear. Ref: Mu 21, (Co/An/He/Te/Vi 5)x2 from minor focus, Sta 3, Aura 4 = 38 + dice roll if needed vs 30.

When I need food and rest I'll watch for quiet and forestry places, and stop close to dusk; eating as a crow and sleeping as a wolf. Typically would always be casting the learned spell that allows speech while transformed - "Return of the Master's Voice".

Saying to himself, "It may not be glamorous, but traveling as beasts certainly saves the pennies and makes for wonderful scenery."

Clothing wise Fray travels wearing partial leather scale armour, and carries a small dagger. The rest of his clothing is deliberately chosen to be made from materials which are close to natural and source from Animal and Herbam. He would avoid metals as much as possible. That will mean a mantle of crow's feathers, a pair of sturdy woolen lined boots and gloves.

Btw, as this is my first pbp game I'm sketching on what to provide, and how far to drive narrative. Any guidance would be wonderful, and I'm keeping reading through the threads to get an idea of style.

Yes. It's on the northwestern edge of the Don delta.

Asking a Redcap produces a reasonably exact location for the covenant, which is located on a stream (formerly the main branch of the Don) a few miles from the coast.

The travel itself is uneventful. How does Fray approach the covenant?


As Fray is flying he'd be comfortable scouting from very high up. He'd would briefly review the covenant to ensure that he's got a rough idea of the layout, and also to see if there is anything untoward or obviously dangerous (staying well away from any archers or crossbowman). Then descend to the edge of the clearing where the covenant buildings are. Allowing that he gets down to the ground safely (have they still got pathways trapped?), he'll transform back into human form.

Then he'll try to get a grog's attention, either speaking if they are close, or shouting if they are far away. "Ho there. Hail!" If nobody is about for some reason he's walk across the clearing within a dozen yards of a main building, and hail again.

When a person approaches & acknowledges..."My name is Fray; have I found my way to Nova Castra? ... I am a Magus ex Bonisagus and am told that travelers are welcome."

If a ruckus occurs because of his arrival Fray will back up a few steps, show he is unarmed, and try to see which of the people appearing might either be an autocrat or Magus. {Perception 0 + Folk Ken 2 + 1d10=6 = 8}

[The ring of woodland is still trapped, but the clearing itself is no longer so]

As Fray circles, he notices a small tower at the south western corner of the square, a little distant from the main buildings, where a couple of grogs appear to be on lookout duty. They both have bows, although they're unstrung. Once Fray transforms, he hears a bell start ringing from the top of the tower.

In response to Fray's call, one of the grogs on top of the tower responds in rather broken Latin:

"Welcome. Please stay. Maguses will come."

Near the main building, Fray can see several soldiers assembling, although they don't seem to be heading his way immediately. Another minute, and another man exits the building, and heads towards you in the company of one of the soldiers.

"Welcome to Nova Castra. I am Gregorius of Tremere."

He's of medium height, with dark brown hair and a face more tanned and weathered than Fray is used to seeing in a magus. His eyes are sharp and dark, shifting from watching Fray to his surroundings, but the expression on his face is friendly.

He listens to Fray's introduction, then responds.

"Indeed, you are. Please, come with me, and I will find you a room and an Aegis token."

Bowing slightly Fray replies "Thank you Gregorius,
While the trip was enjoyable I will be pleased to sleep abed with a roof and walls. There is only so much charm nature has before comforts are missed."

Fray will look about as he walks with Gregorius, trying to take it all in and not hiding his curiosity. If a grog looks directly at him he will try a smile with small nod in return, although truthfully the gesture is probably ruined by his pocked and marred face. The dirty clothes probably hinder the reaction too.

After a minute or two, as they walk "The covenant seems fair and sound considering how recently established. Obviously founded from the remnant of another dwelling. Was the interests of the Tribunal or the wider Order which facilitated the re-build? "

If more time allows Fray will ask Gregorius "Are you the designated Prefect, or happen to be found by the folk first?"

The grogs look back at Fray warily. Gregorius leads him towards the building he originally came out of, talking as he walks. The building itself is a two storey affair, with several other smaller buildings scattered around it.

"There was a covenant founded here previously, about twenty years ago, and several of the buildings date from then, although we've added more since we've arrived." He points in the direction of a couple of buildings that do indeed seem more recent than the others, and Fray realises that he can see a third partially constructed behind them. "The previous covenant was destroyed in a raid three years after its founding. Finding out exactly who by and how is part of why I'm here, although not the only reason. It's a Theban tribunal initiative, and I know my house is in favour of it as well. It's a whole new frontier for the Order to explore and colonize - if we can keep a foothold."

They reach the entrance of the building, which leads onto a central courtyard. There's a fountain in the middle of it, but it isn't working, and Fray can also see the outlines of where several other buildings obviously used to be, although in all case but one to the north the space has been cleared. Close to the door is a metal plate on a stand, upon which stands a tongue of flame. Gregorius opens the door, then leads you up a flight of stairs.

In response to Fray's second question, he says

"Largely the latter, although whilst Tasia's otherwise engaged I'm chiefly the one to meet visitors. Tasia's the covenant's leader, a guernican quaesitor and hoplite. The other member is Viola of Merinita. It may be a while before you meet her, as she spends a lot of time in a regio. We've also got a Tytalus visiting the covenant - "Patrick the Unrepentant", he styles himself."

The two magi reach a room whose door clearly has a slight depression in the wood. Opening it, Gregorius gestures to its somewhat spartan, but clean enough, interior saying

"Not all that luxurious, I fear, but we're still establishing ourselves here. Do you have any luggage or men following you?"

[OOC: MTKnife, what's Tasia's current status? Around, but just an NPC? Off on quaesitorial visit? In twilight? Something else?

Ironboundtome: If you haven't already spotted them, there are some maps of the covenant site here: These date to 1226, before the more recent building work.]

She's an NPC, and Gregorius will doubtless wish to introduce her to Fray.


[Yes, definitely. I'll just assume she's been working down in her cave lab, if that's reasonable?]

Yes, that's fine. I don't have any plans for her at the moment, and so you can assume anything within reason if it tickles your fancy.


Fray looks over the room, and briefly smiles.

"It will be more than enough, thank you Gregorius. Now that I've arrived there will be some personal effects that I'll send for, but not in any rush. I aimed to travel simply. A plain room with no distractions will give me little excuse but to get involved in the activity of the covenant.

I did not intend to bring any man servants or soldiers with me as they can slow down travel, and might also have a harder time in a new place."

Fray removes the outer heavy cloak and mantle, and drops them onto the pallet along with a dagger.

"Perhaps when the Magi next gather I could be introduced and I can turn my hand to helping? Till then I'm more than pleased to walk the grounds".

[OOC - yup found the maps and diagrams]

Gregorius nods back.

"I'll leave you to get settled in whilst I go and find an aegis token. I'll also send a housemaid up - let her know if there's anything you need."

[Assuming Fray doesn't hold him back] He leaves, and instructs a grog to find Sophia and send her up. He meanwhile goes in search of Aegis tokens - and Tasia, as they're presumably in her keeping?

A little while later, Sophia ( knocks at Fray's door.

At Sophia knock, Fray looks to her, "Hello". Aware of his appearance, he looks away to find a place for the dagger on a small shelf, and refolds the cloak. "My name is Fray.".

Keeping his face downcast, "all I will need is a basin of water." But then thinking aloud, "... are there any areas within the covenant that are to be stayed away from? Be it dangerous or restricted?"

As she is leaving, or when the conversation runs down, "Was the room declared sancta by somebody? Whom?" while pointing to the marking on the door.

Sophia notes that he might not want to move the rocks in the caves, lest he flood them, but that otherwise he can move about at will, and, indeed, help himself to a guest lab.

I'm not sure what you mean by marks on the door.


[Sorry I haven't posted in the last few days - I can handle the marks on the door.]

Sophia nods attentively to Fray's request for water.

"There is a cave system where several of the magi have their laboratories, which also have some blocked off passages - you shouldn't disturb those. Also, the woods around the covenant have some pitfalls, so it's best to go with someone who knows the safe ways through."

"This room used to be used by maga Portia, and she embedded a glass symbol in the door there. She was only here a few days, though, and it was removed after she left."

[If Fray has no further questions, she'll leave to fetch the water, and return with it shortly.]

[MTKnife: Gregorius is looking for Tasia at her cave lab]

Am I here? Am I at the bar getting drunk? Where are the Cheet-ohs?

Oh! I took that as a statement rather than a request.

Yes, Tasia is in the lab. She is though quite excited to greet a new guest, since this is, after all, why the covenant is here in the first place. She hurries up to introduce herself to Fray, and makes she he has everything he needs.


Gregorius will suggest that Tasia brings up an Aegis token and the charter for Fray to familiarise himself with (I am assuming these are both in her keeping). He'll take her up to introduce her to Fray.

Tasia does so, greeting Fray warmly, and takes some time to sit with him and talk to him about his background, and what brings him here. She's obviously concerned that the covenant make a good impression in fulfilling its mission.