Chapter 4a (Winter 1231): Amazons on the Move

Viola thinks the tower is a good choice--it's the least critical element to the defense of the covenant.

As for the group of mounted warriors, Covenants is pretty useless here, isn't it? I was thinking 20 or so--what do you think?

Note that, the way we've described them, these aren't full-time residents of the covenant (we're not paying upkeep on them)--if you're pulling them away from home for an extended period of time, you're going to have to compensate them somehow.

Scott

Wishbone is wearing his chain-mail with his great-sword strapped across his back. He has a warm body cover over the armour. Once assembled he and his gear grow in size and the veritable giant says "Good day for running and hunting I think"

[OOC: Lords of Men (pg 102) has a little bit on the military forces that can be raised by a noble. That suggests for a Poor or Average Noble in a strongly feudal area they can raise 5 Light Cavalry, 10 Infantry/Archers and 10 Levies, but that the Levies are only available whilst on home ground.

The military forces locally is going to be a lot more weighted towards Light Cavalry. Given that, 20 Light Cavalry seems not ridiculous, but at the high end of sensible. Maybe reduce to 15, i.e. 3 Combat Groups? As you point out, there's also an issue with having them for an extended period of time (Nobles have their levies which are only available on home grounds) - maybe a significant proportion of them need to leave once the immediate problem in the local-ish area is dealt with?]

Gregorius's dress doesn't advertise his status, although those watching the group dynamics for a time might identify him as a source of decision making. He's wearing his suit of partial leather scale mail, and has his axe hanging from his belt along with a bag of slingstones [remind me when I inevitably forget that the resulting encumbrance gives him -2 to relevant rolls, including casting totals]. Several more bags of slingstones are loaded into his saddlebags (along with supplies). He's also brought his stock of vis with him [4 Mentem, 6 Rego], although is hoping very hard that he doesn't end up using it.

Gregorius nods. "Probably more travelling today than fighting, but we'll see."

He doen't push the warband hard, wanting to avoid arriving tired to battle. He sends a couple of pairs of mounted scouts ahead of the main warband - a lot closer in than Fray is, and intended to warn of ambushes and suchlike rather than to actively look for the Amazons. He also pays attention to his Premonitions, although he's acutely aware that they're significantly weaker away from the aura of the covenant [Per 3 + Pre 3 + Aura + die].

Let's say there are 20 horsemen total, but only 10 available for a trip away from the covenant.

Gregorius' Premonitions don't tell him much...only that danger is imminent, which he already suspected. The first day's travel is uneventful, and Frey has yet to pick up any signs of the raiders. Given where the party is starting from and the direction its heading, most of the journey will be through wilderness, unless the magi specifically aim for one of the few villages within the delta. What kind of route are you taking?

Scott

Gregorius is aiming to avoid settlements, and pass unnoticed where reasonably practical. However, he won't do this to the point of forcing a route across excessively difficult or dangerous terrain - whilst not rushing, he doesn't want to unduly delay the warband either.

Beyond that, he's heading more or less directly towards the closest point of the river Lik, trusting Fray to bring him more detailed information on where the Amazons actually are for him to recalibrate against.

Though this area isn't as densely populated as areas in Western Europe, in practical terms, avoiding settlements means avoiding areas considered fit for human habitation--one consequence of which is that you'll be traveling along paths rather than roads most of the time--and a lot of swampland. Does that qualify as "excessively difficult"?

Scott

The swampland would, yes.

Is there much in the way of proper roads along our route anyway?

Roads generally lead to settlements, so while there are roads through the swamp, to avoid settlements you'll have to detour off them, which will make for a roundabout course.

Scott

In that case, he'll go through the settlements where necessary - it's not ideal, but trying to force a path through unfamiliar swampland has too much potential to go horribly wrong. It's possible that the Amazons have spies in the villages, but it doesn't feel very likely (interrogating prisoners later is a more plausible option, but hopefully won't become relevant).

He will take a few precautions - firstly, consulting with the leader of the light cavalry what the best way is to pass through the villages without the large armed group causing trouble.

Secondly, minimise the extent to which the group looks obviously weird. Gregorius himself should be able to pass for a normal man, albeit a foreigner, relatively easily. Get Asena to ride in the middle of a group and try to look local and not draw attention to herself. Fray is presumably going to be a bird (and possibly not present). Wishbone (@John_Graham_52) ...he'll discuss with him his preferred option. The two main options he can see are for Wishbone to use his Preternatural Growth and Shrinking power to shrink down to a normal size (but at the cost of being more vulnerable if things kick off), or just stride through and distract attention away from everybody else.

The other issue, of course, is Alcimus. If Fray is around, he can probably MuIm him to look like a horse again (Base 1/2 for one/two senses, probably Sight and Smell, + 1 Touch + 2 Sun vs MuIm total of 25, should probably get enough to get through his Magic Resistance). Alternatively, if Wishbone is going for Plan: Divert attention, he can appear to accompany him. If neither of those are an option...how well does Alcimus think he'd manage going wide round the villages on his own?

Wishbone will shrink down to size 0 in any area of habitation to avoid undue attention.

A rich traveler with a sizable bodyguard is worthy of comment, but not exactly likely to engender suspicion.

I'll wait for Wishbone's own answer, but Alcimus is somewhat offended by the suggest he might not be able to navigate.

Aside from those points, do the magi plan to interact with the villages at all?

Scott

Fray will keep away from the mundane villages if at all possible. He’s intending to camp with the group at nights sometimes, and others to teleport back to the covenant to rest and teleport back in the morning to continue his searching.

Okay.

In that case, Alcimus will go wide round the settlements, and rejoin the magi later. All of the magi are in "incognito" mode (or absent in Fray's case), and trying not to draw attention to themselves.

Gregorius won't interact personally with the villages. However, he will have one of our light cavalry mention that they've heard rumours of raiders in the area, and ask if they have any news.

In the second village you pass through, the villagers are notably wary, and eye the horsemen with undisguised fear. On questioning, they reveal that they have in fact heard rumors of raids. They've been doing what they can to organize defenses, and there's some talk of related villages in the area banding together to take stronger action.

Scott

Gregorius will ask the horseman when he's conveying this later what sort of force such a banding together would be able to achieve. He won't propose any sort of immediate alliance, though - throwing villagers unused to Hermetic Magic into the mix could easily create more problems than it solves, and he's expecting that right now they have enough military force to deal with a raiding party on their own. Instead, the party will head on in the general direction of the reported raids, looking to Fray for a more detailed location.

While travelling Wishbone will cast "Day Vision of Vis" each morning to see if he spots any Vis that that he can harvest.

Since you're moving generally along roads, it's unlikely you'd run across any obvious vis sources--another magus would have found them already.

Scott

The horseman can't give a completely certain answer, since that depends on the number of villages nearby and the relationships among them, but something in the range of 150-200 men from 8-10 villages would be typical.

Finally, Fray reports spotting a village where something seems amiss: there seem to be a number of people camped out within the settlement's perimeter.

Scott

Gregorius is surprised, and not a little worried by this, and questions Fray (@ironboundtome) for more detail.

"Did it look like the people camped out could be Amazons, or could they be villagers preparing to defend against them? Or refugees who have been displaced from another village?"

"What sort of numbers are we talking about?"

@MTKnife - Fray would initially stay a long way away, close to the extreme of his sight. Then land and observe. Did the camps have any similarities to the prior Amazon camp that Fray saw when he rescued Tasia?
Or contain armed people, and/or horses?
And was the settlement itself showing signs of damage, or a lack of habitation?
And in what numbers?

Once he's sure that he has a little better look (to get a description to share with the others), Fray would be thinking about next steps of investigating further or returning to his comrades.