Chapter 5bis (Autumn 1013): South along the Pennines

Thom takes time after the group eats an evening meal to cast a Circle Ward Against Faeries on the outside chance that a minor one might want to be mischievous and trouble the group's rest. He gives brief instructions on how not to mess up the circle ward. [OOC: 15 on formulaic casting, 18 if camp is inside the aura, Level 10 spell]

As he sits near the others, Thom says to Betula in English so others can understand.

"Earlier you asked if I knew anything about dryads. Sadly, no, but I'd like to. I want to learn all about Faerie and Arcadia. I lived there once when I was young. My father is a Sidhe lord of some kind but he didn't have much to do with me after he stole me away from my mother. Beryl took care of me mostly." [OOC: 3 on Faerie Lore roll.]

The handsome young man looks off into the growing dark.

"I had a good start in my studies with Mildred but the war forced us into hiding in a regio. We explored a bit among the Fae but not as much as I wanted or hoped to. So my knowledge of the fae is still pretty thin. Did you meet the nisse who traveled with us from the Wall? He's shy except with the goats. If we find a good place, I hope he and his herd will join us."

Thom smiles again.

"Didn't someone say you all ran into faeries on your way to Ungulus?"

Betula has listened raptly to these stories. "Perhaps even in the falsehood there can be truth to the story, metaphor can be a three headed snake itself."

"That sounds a good plan for the next branches of the journey, Betula says.

"Turold, will you help me with a small project? I am looking for new trees of any seven varieties found nearby this hill."

"Yes, I will help," he responds.

Betula and Turold spend the rest of the day searching nearby for small trees, ones that likely just sprouted the previous spring. Hoping to find seven different species. When she finds one she casts a Creo Herbam spell to keep it alive while it is dug up, taken to the hill, and transplanted. [CrHe 4 Base 1, Touch, Sun, Ind]. She plants each of the seven in a circle at the top, a seven pointed star with the only tip in a cardinal direction pointed North and gives each a bit of water. Tomorrow she will finish her work and she cleanses her hands but does not worry about her skirt.

"Yes, I believe Cath'rinne said... perhaps I mentioned it as well, a few, in fact," Betula says, "Castellum Veridian was replaced with a manor of glamour and inside were fae pretending to be Edwin and Janus, who you know. Edwin also mentioned the Dryad who seduced my father, Nyliya, prior to my conception and spoke of me with a name that was not exactly my name as a child and apprentice. He spoke of her as my mother and we sought him out. She charmed Ruedi, my... um, companion, and whisked him into a regio which I could not pass into without her consent. I left in anger... at Ruedi. Misplaced. Why do you ask?"

"Just curiosity really. Every story is the birth of another story when it comes to the Fae," answers Thom. "Castellum Veridian must have been quite the place if they celebrated it with such an elaborate glamour. Janus? I'm sure that was entertaining to see. Did they get him right?"

Thom chuckles and considers for a moment.

"Wait… Your mother is a dryad? And they took your companion? This Ruedi? Was he taken as a token of barter? Do they want something of yours? Something of equal or greater value?"

The young Merinita considers for a time, thoughtful.

"She must be up to something, this dryad, some reason to charm and take your friend. Count me in to help you when you decide to seek him out."

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"Much more entertaining to see him in person. It knew of him as a burner of Wulfric but not as a target for stones."

"First, she is not my mother," an edge of anger in her voice, "My mother died giving brith to me. The rest I can not say, that rose was left. Each thorn a pawn of Imaginem vis and I will seek both her and him out though I am unsure when," glancing at her legs and her hands going to her stomach unconsciously.

"And now a Question for you. Is Mildred often crass? She seemed to think... um, certain things of my path."

Thom remembers Mildred as a stickler to order and procedure, and she could be stern, particularly early in the apprenticeship, without ever loosing her temper.

(The rest you can make up.)

"I wouldn't say Mildred is crass. She's… She is one who finds strength in structure, in order and procedure," says Thom. "I think it might be fair to say that she is neither subtle nor quick to anger, but she can be stern. When she needs to be. Mildred is wise and careful. Why do you ask? Did she say something offensive?"

"She is definitely not subtle... she told me my fate was to... repopulate the Order."

"Oh…" says Thom. "Then I suppose you better get busy."

The young Merinita chuckles before shaking his head.

"I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't joke about something like that. I suppose she told you some story to go along with her pronouncement of your fate? She likes her stories."

"No. She had no story for me. But a Brother Pine that I spoke to immediately afterwards did and it was quite... absurd."

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"I guess all I can suggest is that you consider what the Geezer said. The War has taken a huge toll on the Gifted in the Tribunals of this Fair Isle. We're probably all going to need to be out hunting for Gifted children and, honestly, doing our part to produce them before we start down the path of the longevity potions," says Thom.

"Never thought the War would kick off a breeding program but… War forces us to 'in extremis' measures, I suppose."

"Hmph... Perhaps I should find a multitude of appropriate studs, select them for the most desireable traits. See what sorts of children we can breed. I assume you have some suggestions?" Betula says sarcastically.

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"Oh my! No!" says Thom quickly, his face reddening. "Not that you're not beautiful… but… " Flustered, Thom grows quiet for a few moments.

"I didn't mean that. Believe me, I know what it means to be the result of breeding…"

The young Merinita grows silent again, looking away from Betula and then stands quickly.

"I'm going to check the ward."


Betula pulls her cloak close and stares at the fire a bit longer before heading to her bedroll.

Turold had the first watch. Betula has only just fallen asleep when he notices¹ a small creature maybe 15 paces away. It moves like a dog, with the snout to the ground, towards the camp. It zigzags a bit, it has clearly caught a scent of great interest.

Maybe it is a dog, but not a big one. Maybe a fox. It is too small for a wolf. It is too dark to go by anything but size and behaviour.

¹ that was an awareness roll of 10 against an 6+.

Turold addresses it using Animal Ken: "Hey there. You found something interesting?" Turold is trying to get a better view of the animal.

The animal is startled and crouches down tilting its head, eyeing Turold with great suspicion for a while. Then it hisses, «vis-s-s, the vis-s-s, there is vis-s-s», and it sniffs the air.

"Can I come closer? I don't mean harm, I just want to see you. Talk a bit. Maybe help you search." Turold is lighting up a torch in the campfire to have a light source to bring along as he speaks.

«Vis-s-s over there,» says the fox, and heads towards Betula. It does not reply to Turold's question, but when he approaches and can see that it is a fox, it halts and asks, «vis-s-s? You have vis-s-s?»

"Oh. You smell us, uh? Yes, we like vis too. We are magical, some of us anyway, much like you. What can you do, small friend?" He approaches slowly, trying to see it up close, without startling it. "I'm Turold, a druid." Magic Lore check of 8 to get some info on the magical fox.

«You s-sh-share?» asks the fox, halting expectantly, its legs crouched as if it is ready to leap without notice.

Turold knows that Animals of Virtue are quite commonplace, usually with second magnitude might, or possibly just first. Such a local resident of weak auras is just as one would expect.