Chapter 2-The Lost Summa

Time: At the end of Spring [strike]Summer[/strike] 1184

Petronius finishes reading the most recent letter from Fengheld:

The Bonisagus raises his eyes from the letter and addresses his fellow members of Laurus Argenti. "Unfortunately, sodales, we have not received the summa. Which is unusual, as redcaps are usually quite dependable. I've met this Sigmund a time or two, and he seemed a good representative of his house. I also inquired about recent news of him, and it seems he has not been heard from for some time now. The question, of course, is what do we do about it?"

"Personally, I plan on traveling to Fengheld to meet with Horst, and try to find out what happened to the missing redcap as well as recover our promised summa. I will take a few grogs with me, and if anyone wishes to join me they are welcome to do so. I will be gone for at least a month, more probably two." He smiles, "But I am open to suggestions as to other possibilities."

((Assuming that none of the other magi will join Petronius, I am moving forward with the story. If one of the others want to join in, I can always adjust things later on.))

Coming out of the council meeting, Petronius goes looking for Hans, the Captain of the grogs. "I will need to travel to the covenant of Fengheld, in the Harz Mountains of Central Germany. In addition to Kat, as my shield grog, I think having a good tracker might be a good thing. Could you please arrange for the appropriate supplies for the trip? We should be gone for over a month, possibly up to three."

((Anyone who'd like to play a character in this story? My initial plan is to have Katherine and Ortolf travel with Petronius, and then having Horst of Mercere join them at Fengheld. Just let me know if one of you is interested in playing one of those.))

Alips will come along (and it will give me incentive to reconcile the versions of her I have...)

Petronius is unable to hide his surprise at Alips' interest in joining the trip. "Are you sure? I've been to Fengheld only a few times, but it is fairly isolated within the Harz Mountains and mostly cut off from most mundane routes." He shakes his head and smiles crookedly, "You are certainly welcome to join me, mind you, but the trip may be quite uncomfortable."

((As a player, I don't have a problem with Alips being there. She may be quite useful in dealing with mundanes. But on the other hand, I see several Flaws that make her quite unsuitable as well: Environmental Sensitivity (Rural environments) [Penalty: -3], No Sense of Direction, Motion Sickness... This may be some of the things you are trying to reconcile, though, so I may be wrong in thinking that she will be quite miserable during most of the story.))

Hans replies that he will have Katherine and Ortolf travel with Petronius. He is temporarily assigning Merbot to the secondary site. That evening, he informs Petronius that Ortolf will be ready to travel in the morning: "He grunted something about supplies and went off to find Laurent."

When he sees Hans that evening, "Thank you, captain. It is possible that we'll have an additional member to our group. Lady Alips, Praxiteles' wife, has told me that she would like to join us on this trip."

If Hans is surprised at the addition, he gives nothing away. "I will inform Ortolf and Laurent." He allows himself to smile slightly at the additional conversation between the tracker and the chamberlain. "Will you be needing horses, sir, or will a pack pony be sufficient?"

"I will ask the lady if she rides, but for my part the answer is no. A pack animal would certainly be a good idea in any case, I suppose, to carry supplies." After a moment's thought, Petronius adds, "Better to plan our deperture two days' hence. We wouldn't want to forget something because of too much haste."

((Note that neither of the grogs have Animal Handling, so the party may need another member. This could be an additional grog, or perhaps simply a stableboy. As Petronius is leaving those details to be organized by Hans and Laurent, pick the choice that'll fit best into what you've planned for the story.))

During the two days of preparations, Ortolf becomes a bit more surly than several of the servants are used to, so Hans decides to add Reinhart to round out the company, as Ortolf seems to trust him. Reinhart can also handle the animals.

(( The first scene I am thinking about takes place in a village east of Limburg. DO you want to write about meeting Horst and Fengeld, and traveling almost all the way back to Koblenz? ))

((Is Petronius calling Alips a lady ?)) Alips will indicate that she'll travel as the magus requires.

((Indeed, I was thinking of having a first scene when the group arrives at Fengheld and meet with Horst. I can write the start of that scene. There, information would be shared about what is known from each side. Horst was probably able to gather a few things regarding the route that Sigmund usually took, whether he could be located using magic, etc. After that, we can probably fast-forward to a point where we find a first lead about his fate.))

((What else would you rather have him call her? :stuck_out_tongue: ))

Another gust of wind raises dust from the dirt road as the group makes its way between the valley orchards and fields towards the sprawling hilltop fortress less than a mile away. The three armored forms, one of them leading a pack mule, are a striking contrast to the much slighter man and the woman that they are escorting.

"Almost there, magister," says Katherine in Latin, "and none too soon. We'll have a good hot meal today." Her reference to their dwindling subtly supplies reminds Petronius that his decisions regarding the route to take towards Fengheld has been less than optimal at times.

"I know, I know," answers the magus without heat, "I should have listened to you regarding that stretch of woods." They had lost nearly a day trying to cut through the country at one point, losing as much time as had been gained by avoiding the better-traveled but longer road. Such was the trouble with a covenant set up in isolation from mundanes, he supposed. No straight road led to the place. "Still, we are here now, none the worse for all of those extra leagues of travel. And I'm sure they'll be able to tell us which way is best to travel back. This is, after all, a stopping point of House Mercere."

Making their way up the hill, the party finally reaches the gates. After identifying themselves and explaining their business, Horst is sent for. After waiting for a while, a rotund man in his late twenties join them. "Welcome to Fengheld, welcome!"

Petronius smiles at the bustlig redcap, "Greetings, sodalis. It is good to have finally arrived, for the road was hot and dusty." Turning towards the rest of the party, "May I present the lady Alips, wife to my sodalis Praxiteles of Jerbiton, as well as our grogs, Katherine, Ortolf and Reinhart."

After arranging for guest quarters for Alips, Petronius and the grogs, and leaving them some time to refresh themselves, they meet again to discuss the information each has regarding the missing Sigmund (Alips is probably present as well, if she wants to be). Petronius goes first. "I probably won't have any information that you don't already have, but from what I've been told, Sigmund has been missing for the last few months. We know that he never arrived at Laurus Argenti, nor at any other covenant since the end of last fall. I was told that you'd have knowledge of the route he was supposed to take, and access to some resources to possibly track him?"

((Archimedes, I'll mostly leave Horst for you to use at this time, since he would be a source of information at this point.))

((Note that I also created a wiki page for Limburg, so that we can add information about the town as we use it for the story. Who knows, we may reuse the town as the site for other stories at a later point.))

"We have sorely missed Sigmund, let me assure you! Master Viator has actually left the covenant grounds to carry messages himself, and he has not taken on active redcap duties in many years. Of course, the bulk of the work has fallen to me, and I fear with all the extra walking, I may waste away to nothing!" Horst smiles broadly as he pats his paunch. His dimpled grin and affable nature make him very easy to talk with. Horst then turns serious. "We have searched for Sigmund, but no trace can be found by magical means. We fear him truly lost." Horst pauses, obviously saddened at the loss of the other Mercere. After a moment, he visibly brightens, "I did think of another tactic we may try. Sigmund always travelled with his dog, Bucca, and I think I have some of his fur." Horst smiles again, "Either that or Sigmund was hiding dark coarse hair under a great blonde wig! Eule ex Bjornaer has agreed to help us try to locate the great drooly beast tomorrow morning."

"Sad news," says Petronius soberly. "We can but hope that the inability of locating him is because he is in some regio, or magically hidden from us." The Bonisagus sighs, "But I fear, as you do, that he may be lost. If we can but determine the reason for his fall, perhaps it will help protect others from such fate."

Listening to Horst idea of tracking the dog, Petronius brightens, "A splendid idea! I would never have thought of trying to locate the dog. If he can be located, this may save us a great deal of time, for we will not have to investigate every single village Sigmund may have passed through on his last known trip. We can focus our efforts on a much smaller area, starting with the dog himself." A small grimace, "Too bad I haven't taken the time to learn a spell to talk with animals yet. I have been planning to do so for some years now, ever since Rufus started following me around." Inclining his head to the sleeping cat near the room's fireplace, he adds, "I am certain that he is far more intelligent than most people give him credit for. He saved my life a time or two in the past, and I have grown quite fond of the him."

((Shall we move on?))

A beak-nosed servant opens the door to Eule ex Bjornaer's sitting room. "The mistress is expecting you," he bows Horst and Petronius into the room. Several comfortable looking chairs stand near a fireplace; one strewn with blankets and tufts of feather has ornate finials on top, joined by a plain and scratched horizontal dowel. Opposite the fireplace is a large door, slightly ajar, bearing a sanctum marker. A large table stands at the far side of the room, beneath a large window. Eule herself stands at the window, her back to the younger magi. As they enter, her head appears to swivel almost 180 degrees to regard them with wide bright eyes over a sharply hooked nose. "Bring refreshments!" she orders the servant, her voice sharp and shrill. The servant ducks his head and scurries through a smaller door near the window. Eule turns her body and strides to the table, her unblinking eyes ever on the other magi. "Come. The disappearance of a Redcap is of concern to us all. Let us see what we might find." She extends a bony hand from the light brown sleeve of her robe; her hand appears dry and scaly, her nails long and sharp. With her other hand, Eule unrolls a scroll containing a map of the Tribunal, all the while those unblinking eyes flick between Horst and Petronius from beneath the widow's peak of swept back white hair.

Horst draws forth the tuft of fur from a silk bag, and drops the grey fluff into Eule's outstretched hand. "Sit. This may require some time." Eule mutters some words and begins moving her free hand over the map, her thumb and first two fingers outstretched. A slight breeze, unfelt by Petronius and Horst ruffles the shorter hairs around Eule's face and the corners of the map. After a few minutes, the servant returns with a tray with tea, bread and honey, and beckons the magi to the chairs. Eule remains at the table, her gaze now focused on the map.

Almost two hours pass before Eule speaks again. "Here. The hound is here." She taps the map with a finger just west of the town of Limburg.

"Magistra," says Petronius respectfully as he joins the elder maga at the table, "thank you for taking some of your valuable time to help us in discovering what happened to the redcap Sigmund."

After taking the offered seat, Petronius observes the proceedings in silence, for he knows that concentration is of utmost importance when performing a seeking spell from his own studies in ritual magic. He quietly sips his unsweetened tea, observing the nuances of Eule's expression while sher gaze from one side of the map to the next.

When the maga identifies the location on the map, Petronius looks at it for a moment to see where her sharp mail points on the map. After a few moments, he recognize the Rhine and Lahn rivers on the map. "So close to Koblenz," he remarks in surprise, "and yet we had no idea." The Bonisagus looks up to Eule and Horst, "Almost at the very doorstep of Laurus Argenti, in fact."

After a few more moments of thoughts, he asks Eule, "Can you acertain more about the condition and surroundings of the hound, magistra? This may help us find it more quickly, and ascertain whether it is likely to still be there when we arrive at its current location."

The maga frowns a little, then cast a few more spells using the tufts of fur. She quickly determines that the dog seems in good health. Its surroundings are those of an inn, but she cannot tell whether it is with a traveller passing through, or someone local.

Petronius expresses his thanks to the elder maga for her help, and takes his leave with Horst. The rest of the day, as well as the next, is spent planning the trip back towards Koblenz.

Petronius’ Journal
20th day of July, Anno Domini 1184

[i]Our travel back has been much easier than our initial trip to Fengheld. Horst knows the roads well, as one could expect from a redcap, but he is also a good travel companion. His knowledge of the geography and history of our Tribunal are extensive, and he shared it freely with us. I have learned much about the towns of Thuringia, but also of other areas of Germania, as Horst talked also of other places he has visited in his travels. We also talked of many other subjects, mostly philosophy, but also of magic theory. This surprised me a little, for Horst is not Gifted, but it seems that the subject is of interest to him as well and he has begun study of it.

We initially went east until we came out of the Harz Mountains, arriving at the town of Quedlinburg. From there, we travelled along a small river until it joined with the Saale River, which we followed up to the town of Saale, where there is a salt market. From there, we boarded a ship going south to Naumburg, to get back on the road towards Erfurt, a large trading town. We were now travelling west at last, after four days of travel.

From Erfurt, we followed the roads going west to Marburg, passing through the towns of Heisenach and Hersfeld. We are now in Marburg, waiting for a ship that will travel down the Lahn River until we get to Limburg. We will start our search for the hound there.

I am writing this down so that, the next time I have to travel to Fengheld, I will know which route to follow. For, albeit it did not save us much time, travel was much easier than our initial journey was.[/i]

Standing with Horst at the foot of the pier in Limburg, watching the grogs as they offloaded the party's supplies. The second pony showed some hesitation when it was its turn to come off the barge unto the rough wood of the pier, but Reinhart gave it a sharp slap on the rump to encourage it along. The pack animal jumped off and that was it. With some help from Ortolf and Katherine, the young grog quickly rearranged both of the ponies' packs, apparently chatting all the while. Well, talking to them, at least. From what Petronius had noticed, Ortolf's answers, when he gave any, were usually in the form of grunts. Kat looked like she wasn't listening at all. Her attention seemed to be on Petronius, probably looking for possible threats to her magus.

As if, standing here at midday in a small town, they were in any danger. Petronius grinned at the thought, before turning to Horst.

"So, sodalis, I guess that we should now begin looking around for the dog at inns and taverns?" The young magus has taken the time, over the course of the trip, to cast a spell using the bits of fur from the hound to learn what it looks like. Nevertheless, he and Horst have agreed not to split the group. The town is not so large that this would gain them any time.

((Unfortunately, a level 5 Image of the Beast is about the extent of Petronius' abilities to spont an Intellego Animal spell.))

((With a casting bonus before aura of +14 using Ceremonial Casting, he might be able to reach a fatiguing level 10 in a neutral aura. Which most places in a town won't be, assuming a minimum Dominion aura of 1.))

((By my reading, locating the dog through an arcane connection would be level 15 (Base 3, +4 Arc). It would only have given a heading since we don't have a local map, but even a direction would have been useful. That is moot, as at level 15 it is completely out of reach for a spontaneous spell by Petronius.))