Chapter 2bis (Summer 1013). Refuge in the Peak District

The party joins the small tribe of druids as they travel North towards the Peak District. The carts are left where they were parked since the druids want to move swiftly and avoid the more trafficked roads. The first night is rough, but as promised you reach a beatiful campsite the the following night. Waking up in the morning, you can see the fish in the river. The breakfast is quickly landed. You enjoy the tranquility and the abundant food for almost two weeks.

Then, one day, the scouts report sightings of men-at-arms searching the woods. They are still far away, and the scouts did not approach to be able to see their crests, but few could command such a force in this area, but the sheriff of Nottigham. «This place is too exposed,» say the elders. «Anyone searching would come by this place sooner or later. We had better move quickly, and hope the weather will erase our tracks in time.» You understand that you are heading for a more secluded campsitel

Turold has spent the season on his own, or with one companion only. This is how they always do it, to avoid attracting any attention to the communal kitchen. At the end of the season, he receives a very short telepathic message from one of the elders: «Rendez-vous at First Peak.» This is a well-known location to the tribe, habitually passed on the journey into the Peak DistrictIt is about the turn of the season and his Spring work is completed. They catch up with him in a day or two. The path continues into the heart of the Peak District.

The magi and the druids get to know each other better, and stories are exchanged. «You know, there used to be group of your lot here in the Peak District. They disappeared many years ago, but you can still find their towers. Beware though. Mighty are the traps they put in place before they disappeared. Some treasure hunters entered one of them, and the rock came all down on them, crushing the last bits of their bodies. The other one stands tall, but nobody dares enter. Nobody knows where the wizards have gone.»

The following day you spot a lone hiker approaching from the East. His load looks heavy, and he has pack animal too; a donkey maybe. The elders look worried, but when he gets closer, they relax. A harmless peddlar. The druids make a few trades, not very good ones, thinks those who pay attntion and have a little understanding of value.

Trades made, however, the stories sit loose. The gaolbreak further South has alerted every lord within a 50 mile radius. The sheriff is furious, and this was just after Wulfric having walked into the city with burns that would have killed any lesser man. A mighty warlock, knowns as Janus the Incinerant, confronted him on a battle field North of here. As far as the peddlar knows, nobody witnessed the actual battle, but the body count was disastrous and the injuries the work of magic. An infernal aura rests on the site, and nobody has dared remove the bodies. The peddlar crosses himself. Everybody nods in recognition, but nobody else makes a cross.

This is were the Summer Season starts. Please introduce any new characters, as agreed. And everybody, please describe you attire, particularly with respect to blending in or standing out. I am not going to assume that you have not changed your appearances since you met in Calais ...

Turold is a young men, barely in his twenties, standing 5'5" and built on a lean, cat-like frame. He typically wears heavy leather armor and cloak, with some survival gear and he carries a short bow. He has a slightly unkempt beard, typically a few days long, black eyes and hair.

Cath'rinne hasn't particularly adapted her look, still wearing her dark robes that partly hides her beauty. She found the story of Janus the Incinerant particularly amusing "A Flambeau wandering about, no doubt", remarking it's sad Wulfric got away. She indicates an interest to visit those towers and acquire any hermetic resources they may still contain for their future covenant, if the rest of the magi are up for it, as well as visiting the battlefield "as soon as possible".

She has remained somewhat aloof, trying to get to know the druids and hoping exposure will help them get used to her, yet evidently wary her blatant gift will cause problems anyway and so alternating between seeking contact and avoiding it, depending on the reactions. She'll have expressed an interest to her fellow magi to keep the druids as a long-term retainer, seeing a skilled covenfolk as possibly covenant allies, but hasn't actually approached the druids about her idea, not wanting the proposal to come from her...

Benedict takes the magi aside, one evening, and says, "You should know that I have a mission. It's probably not a surprise. I have a number of locations to check, covenants that once were and might still be in existence. I don't know how leisurely you intend your pace of travel to be, but I need to search the Stonehenge tribunal and have a report ready by the end of the year. I thought it would be beneficial for us to travel together, since you are looking for a covenant site and I am checking former sites that might be open, but I'm not sure if your current pace of travel is fast enough for me to cover the areas I must cover in the time I have. Have you given thought to travelling more quickly? Or would it be best if I left you now, to be about my redcap business, and find you again later?"

"I doubt you can travel much faster than I could fly, Benedict. Or if so, I'd like to know how you do it." she chuckles. "I do remember you have a mission, but I don't recall the full details. Would you mind sharing what your plans are? The landscape is not quite fully pacified to travel alone. Maybe we can make our plans work together."

Obstetrix has been fascinated by the druids, but her lack of common language and her Gift, has made it harder to form close bonds, or to learn much from them.

"Forming ties with these druids would be beneficial, for both sides, but I agree that we might not want to take a slow pace. If Benedict needs to see the situation here, then we can help him, and we might find a location for a covenant, where we might be able to invite them to join us.
While I enjoy the freedom of travel, I would love to have a lab, where I can further my studies, and set up a place to help those ailing."

Benedict returns Cath'rinne's smile. "I don't doubt that you could keep pace with me, though I wonder if an eagle and a vulture flying together would seem odd. But I was referring to the whole mass of us moving together, magi and servants and druids. And it does seem beneficial to befriend the druids, rather than leave them behind.

The main part of my mission is to find out what covenants still exist, and what magi still live. I have a list of seven sites to visit, scattered across the countryside. Blackthorn and Cad Gadu in Wales and Ungulus in the Lake District should be in full operation. Semitae, a mobile covenant, I have no idea how to find. The others I need to search for are Castrum Antiquum on Hadrian's Wall, Lux Draconis in the Pennines, and Castellum Veridian which we were very near, but I'm not sure we were actually at the covenant site, or just one of their vis sources."

"I think if we want to travel a lot, we could cover the whole Tribunal in less than a season, back and forth and back and forth, without too many issues, unless we get seriously wounded along the way. You're interested in finding out who's alive, so am I. And who's dead, but that's a related question." She chuckles, morbidly. "One key question is whether the druids are willing to travel alongside us as well. There's no sidestepping that conversation with them, if our group chooses to travel a lot, and we want them along. A possibility is splitting up in two groups, and meeting up after a while, as well, allowing us to see different sites of hermetic interest. Perhaps we could contact them again as we settle down, which might be easier." she turns to Obstetrix "Seeing those sites should help us choose a site for a future covenant, hopefully so we can, yes, setup a laboratory."

She thinks for a moment. "I could wait on the local tower, if you think that's wiser, so that we're able to look up the covenants that may or may not still exist. It's one of my priorities, however, to see that battlefield as soon as is practicable. Do you mind if we stop there along the way to one of the sites you wish to visit?"

OOC: Any chance we could start mapping sites of hermetic interests - Blackpool, Peak District towers, the battlefield, Blackthorn, Cad Gadu, Ungulus, Castrum Antiquum, Lux Draconis and Castellum Veridian, and others we may find? I have an idea of where some of those are, but I'm more or less lost as to what kind of traveling we need to do.

Benedict says, "I do have a map, though it lacks detail, and accuracy. If you think the whole group of us could travel quickly enough to visit all the sites before the end of fall, that would be good enough. Before the end of summer would be better, and give us more time to prepare a home before winter hits us."

In the evening, the same day as Turold joined you, you get to a little hamlet. A flock of sheep is grazing on the surrounding moor. «The shepherds are friendly,» says Malhad. «Our tracks will be harder to follow if we move where the sheep has already trodden. We'll talk to them and then we make camp out of sight.»

Outside one of the houses in the hamlet is a cart, and the carthorse is being put to graze with other village animals. The owner of the cart is a man of medium height wearing a travelling cloak of fine green cloth over plain robes, and seems to be a merchant of some kind. He is chatting with the villagers and is putting the contents of his cart inside.

Turold will go talk to Malhad on arrival, curious about the newcomers. "Hello mentor. Who are these people we are traveling with now? Why are they with us?"

«Oh; the short answer is, they are refugees hiding from the witch hunters like us. Walk with me, and I can tell the long story too.» During the march, before arrival with the shepherds, Turold gets the gist of the gaolbreak and the powerful magic of these Hermetic wizards. They have proved that they are friendly, but great power brings great peril, he says with afterthought.

After a while, trying to exchange information on the stops they want to make, Cath'rinne says: "Looks to me like our first stop should be Lux Draconis" pointing towards the towers not very far from there. "Then Castellum Veridian and the battlefield. After that, we either go towards Hadrian's wall to find Castrum Veridian, and we finish our road in Wales to find Cad Gadu and Blackthorn, with Ungulus along the way, or we go to Wales and we finish at Hadrian's wall."


Obstetrix was torn on this. One the one hand seeing these covenants would be good, if they still stand, then they can get more reliable news about the war, and if they are deserted, then they might find some magical resources that they can use when they establish their covenant, and maybe use one of those sites for their covenant. But staying with these people, she might learn something, but she doesn't know their language.

Finally, she speaks up "I think going to Lux Draconis is best, since it's close, and then, depending on what we find there, we can make our plans. But Since we're already north, we might want to finish the northern covenants, and then head down to Wales."

When Betula isn’t needed to translate she is often pestering these hedge wizards about their communion with the Forest spirit.

When the magi assemble to determine their next course of action she says, “I am torn between wanting to see if anyone is left at Castellum Veridian and learning what can be learned from these wizards. I have little interest in visiting all of the covenants that are still here until we are a bit more settled ourselves.”

The druids keep objecting to the idea of communion. The forest is just there. It always was and it will always be. Why would it mind us? We are just passing through. It is just like a rock or a lake. We watch and listen and try to understand. A teenage lass waves Betula over to a little grove in the hilly landscape. «Here, put your hand on the trunk and just feel. Does it feel safe? Try to see the path ahead of us. Where do we escape the sheriff's man.»

The bark, a birch tree, is smooth, but in all likelyhood Betula feels nothing and sees nothing without casting spells. Or maybe she has thought of something that I haven't.

The journey continues North and the next day Mordred points and says, «that's the wizard's tower. We don't go there. The tower is cursed, just like the one who came down. We will find something in the valleys to the left.» He points towards the hills.

Even so, you keep walking straight towards the tower. When asked, Malhad explains. «If the sheriff is still on our track, we want them to think that we headed to the towers. See that stony ridge? We shall use that when we change course, to avoid leaving tracks.»

Now, it sounds as if some of you will approach the cursed tower, and some will then continue to Castellum Veridian. I am not sure who. Betula's questions may have been directed to Turold as well; feel free to pursue it. Have I forgotten anything?

The merchant with the cart who had been in the hamlet the day before started catching up with them, waving at them.

"Excuse me! Did I hear you were trying to find Lux Draconis? I've been trying to find the place myself but not been successful."

"And just who are you, exactly?" Cath'rinne asks, looking at the merchant.

"Thomas Greyne, a cloth merchant of Lincoln, at your service. A gentleman who claimed he belonged to a house of Tytalus suggested it would be in my interest to find the place."

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