Are we going with the otter? I didn't want to push ahead until I knew for sure.
Are we going with the otter? I didn't want to push ahead until I knew for sure.
I'll go with the option of turning into a Wolf first, then turn into a Fish using the way Salutor suggested. It uses two spells known formulaic, so is less risky.
OK, what's your route of advance?
Broadly move to the area on the coast where the mist is, and take a cautious look around. Get close and see if anything untoward is close by, what ca be seen or heard, then if nothing edge into the mist and see what changes.
There's nothing in the water that would seem suspicious, but swimming far enough into the mist eventually turns up the coastline of an island of indeterminate size. You can occasionally make out inhabitants going about their business near the shore, but there's no sign as yet of a sizable port.
Fray will pause where he can watch. Looking to get a good sense for the people - their dress, the size of the settlement, any significant features like a main hall, well, out buildings, stock fencing, how many ships, etc.
Also looking to see if it appears to have been recently constructed or recently attacked. Happy to move about a bit to see the same area from different sides. He is looking to understand the layout well enough to be able to direct others in how to approach the community, and if they have anything special in terms of defense or other considerations in layout.
The coast here runs roughly northeast to southwest. What you can make out so far is farms that lie in a narrow strip along the coast. So far, you've seen only women working these farms. There don't appear to be significant uplands in the interior, but it is forested beyond the coastal strip.
Just checking an assumption - this is inside the mist?
Fray will follow along the coast to the south to get an overall idea of how large the farms are. Are the women armed?
It's inside the mist, yes--the mist apparently forms a ring that starts no more than a couple of miles offshore.
The farms are what you'd expect of freeholders in a relatively well-off country--big enough to support a family easily, but not so big as to require working by more than one family. And no, the people working the fields aren't armed, at least not with anything bigger than a knife--anything more would get in the way of farming.
Understood. Fray will move inland - first move away from the sight of the villagers and turn into a raven; then fly to take in the layout of the surrounds from high up. Seeking to get a sense of the island from the air.
The interior is pretty rough, and not much inhabited--most of the action is on the coasts, with a handful of settlements, the largest of which is well-fortified and located at the northern tip.
OK, how about we change tack and try to do this more quickly? Tell me what you're trying to find out, what your main methods are going to be, and how much risk you're willing to take in the process.
I see Fray doing recon and being very risk adverse when it comes to getting close to the humans, and given he's extremely concerned with how the amazons were able to capture a magus previously. I said before that he will move inland - looking to build up a view of the island holistically. He can move between raven form, fish, or wolf/lion depending on what he encounters. Recon by air seems most suitable as its faster, and unless he sees direct signs of supernatural effects or people or structures which are unusual (a giant burning man for example) he will try to build up the view of the island.
A summary might be - they have at least 6 community gatherings - separated by tracks - no major roads. Horses in a few , but not universal. Larger structures in these 3 places and the largest was (here). As best he can he wants a solid description to take back to Gregorius.
When at a safe distance, a few arcane connections would be good to gather. eg. Twig of a tree overlooking the large community.
[This time I have real excuse: I've moved to the Boston area for a new job. We had to drive up 11 days ago to close on the new house in person, then we spent literally all day every day from Tuesday to Sunday packing/loading, traveling, or unloading...and there's still unpacking to do.]
There are a handful of settlements on the coasts, with farms strung along the coasts between them. The interior is largely uninhabited. The biggest city is in the north; you see the occasional (female) armed warrior there, but it's mostly guards--you don't see the sort of manned fortifications you'd expect for a civilization that fears an outside threat, though from this distance there's no way to tell how common internal strife might be. There are smaller settlements on the east, west, and south coasts, one of which is entirely inhabited by men, none of whom are armed. (And until I can get my ArM stuff unpacked, I'll be slightly hazy on the details).
Gathering arcane connections from natural features proves predictably easy.
During all of this, there are no signs that Fray has been detected, but the absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence....
ooc: All good - I'm the last person who can comment about delayed responses.
With hat overview Fray will fly back out to sea, and then back to meet with Gregorius and discuss the next steps. He uses two steps with different directions in case somebody is observing him. Searching for Gregorius might take some time too I'd expect.
Gregorius and his people have moved a little way in land from the point Fray entered the water, to somewhere they are less immediately obvious; however, they are still where they can see the place Fray took his onshore arcane connection from, so do not take long for him to find.
Gregorius smiles with relief when he sees Fray back, apparently unharmed. "How did it go? Did you find the island? Do we need to leave in a hurry?"
Assuming the answer to the last question is "no", he'll listen intently to Fray's description of the island, and ask questions about the sizes of the settlements and military forces / fortifications. Were there much in the way of stables / horses visible? Were there any obvious signs of magic users?
Fray summaries the island to Gregorius, and characterizes it as "a plain and humble set of villages and communities as I've ever seen. I saw no indications of overt magic. Nor a presence of military capability beyond basic guards-women."
"Now perhaps we decide how to approach them. Start with a small community and walk openly toward them If they respond with violence we have their answer -well except that as both of us are males we might be alarming to them."
[I spent a week trying to figure out why my wife was in a mental institution (basically, they tricked her into admitting herself) and getting her out, and now I'm dealing with severe carpal tunnel syndrome. That being said, don't think we're waiting on me here.]
[Ouch. That sounds...a bad week.
Sorry, no, I think is with me.]
Gregorius thinks it over.
"I think it's going to be tricky to get that to work in a way that's useful and not overly risky. The first problem would be getting me there - and out again in a hurry if necessary. I can't do more than short range leaps, or change my own shape, and I don't think this is critical enough to be worth taking warping for. So that means it would need to be you on your own, without back-up. But I don't think you have any way of communicating with them?"
"If I'm honest, my initial plan once we'd found the island and acquired arcane connections to it was to retreat to the covenant, send a report of it's location and use the arcane connections to scry out more information whilst working on our next step. It does worry me a bit, though, that we've still found no clear signs of a significant military force or of their magic users."
A thought strikes him.
"Did the number of people you could see appear to be consistent with what their buildings could house? Of could they have significant parts of their population away on, say, multi-pronged raids?"
I think that would be a tough one for Fray to judge, at least not without watching one or a few buildings to make sure he has a thorough count of the inhabitants as people enter and leave.