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

"Now that's an interesting idea," says Thom, brow furrowing.

"What about pilgrims? Think we could pass ourselves off as pilgrims or refugees. No point bothering with us? Bunnies might be a little beyond my skils at the moment."

"THE Trap. I told you of it before at Castellum Veridian... By the white horse. Pain, pleasure. Existence. The only trap. This existence. We were once all one in perfect harmony, the Spharios, until Strife shook the Spharios apart. A riddle: are we living in a time of increasing harmony or increasing strife?"


The fox finishes the torn and returns closer to the camp, sitting down six or eight paces away, looking expectantly towards Betula and Turold. It stays for quite a while before it gives up and skulks away.

There are no further events during the night, and everybody wakes up in the morning.

Iago looks unhappy with his new appearance.

I never asked for this. I will no longer get through the door to alehouse.

Betula had more to do with her seven trees; I am not sure I understand what, so please fill me in.

When she is done, I suppose you head towards the Cauldron falls. Please correct me if I am wrong.

"Harmony is in how we live, Betula. I'm not sure perfect harmony ever existed, although yes, I suppose we once lived in greater harmony with nature when times were simpler. You believe that Spharios ever existed, though? Harmony's nice, but I don't mind civilization if it stays away from pure untapped forests."

Assuming Turold is playing the guide, he's going to go to Druid's temple as planned before whatever was said in Latin yesterday unless someone has a conversation with him.

In the Morning, having planted the seedlings in a circle where the tips of a 7 pointed star would be, Betula casts a fatiguing Spontaneous group version of the spell cast yesterday to keep the trees growing healthily for a Moon.
[CrHe 10+ Base 1, Touch, Sun (or more), Group. +1 (Sta) + 8 (Cr) + 13 (He) + 8 (Focus applies) +4 (Aura) = 34 + 6 (roll) = 40 /2 = 20, enough to cast the Moon duration version]

Once she has rested from this she casts Month of Controlled Growth on each to keep them all small enough to be the same size and not extend too far into the next tree, she does not limit the roots in this manner.
[ReHe 20, Focus Applies but Rego is 0, +18 w/aura of Hill, Successfully cast all Formulaic Spells, 2 fatigue gained, rested after each]

She then casts Fast Grow on the tree that will likely grow to be the smallest first and the one likely to grow largest last.
[CrHe 30, Focus Applies, +34 w/ Focus & Aura, Successfully cast all Formulaic Spells, no fatigue gained]

As she finishes her first casting of Fast Grow that tree begins growing quickly enough that its rate of growth is visible and within the day each tree will have grown to up to 20 feet tall and not spread into its neighbors' territories, bounded by the Rego spell she cast on each tree first, a mature but somewhat stunted version of itself. Her birch sigil makes the bark of each a bit whiter than it normally would be [and Each tree gains a warping point, not that it's important to track]. "There, I am done," Betula says wiping the dirt from her hands.

As discussed previously our band of intrepid adventurers sets out for the Copse near Cauldron Falls.

"Hrm, yes, I see. You have much to learn but I believe you can, we all can. But I must sleep. There is much to do here tomorrow."

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Thom chuckles at Iago the Welsh, stepping over to the shield grog.

"You're a good fellow, Iago. Hold still. I'll take it away." He reaches up to touch Iago on the chest, words and gesture moving in curling flourishes. When Thom is done, the image is gone and Thom staggers back a step. [Spontaneous Cast of Unravelling the Fabric of Imaginem 5: 19. Roll to Cancel Effect: 22]

"Uh… But think about it for next time. Maybe I could make you a little more to the liking of the ladies…"

Thom finds a spot to sit and take breather for a couple minutes.


It takes a couple of days South to the river Ure. You pass through many villages and no towns, probably asking your way to be certain of the way, although there are few chances to get lost. Ure is by far the widest river on the route.

When you get to Ure, Cauldron Falls should be further West, so you head upstream for a day or so. Here you really have to ask your way (or come with something clever). By Thadeus' instructions, the falls should be a mile South along some tributary, but which tributary?

You pass a couple of villages, hamlets, and lone cottages. Who talks to whom? Or do you have a cleverer idea?

Turold's happy to talk to animals along the river to get a better idea of the lay of the land and any inhabitants (druid, strange witch, etc.), they may know about.

After watching Turold speak with river animals one day Betula says, answering an unanswered question from days before, "No, I have never had an animal companion, let alone a familiar. Most animals are wary of my gift, despite my attempts... even the fox seemed wary but... hunger, if one can call it that overrode those feelings for a time."

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Thom will keep his Second Sight out for any faeries who he might ask about Cauldron Falls. [OOC Second Sight Roll: 6]

The young magus seems very happy to be out walking the valleys and hills, his smile frequent. He often beckons people in the group over to look at interesting views, curious mushrooms, birds on the wing.

Turold smiles back. "I thought I might see other magical animals in our travels. We druids can bond with them, although small animals are easier or it requires great skills. I'm more attuned to cats myself. How does it work for you hermetics? Are you more likely to connect with a type of animal than another? It might help me decide the next time I wonder if I should wake you up at night... or attract your attention to something."

"Often, for us, it has much to do with our magic though, yes, I hear smaller creatures make for an easier binding. A wizard of flames might bond a salamander or other creature associated with fire. My magic is centered upon trees and wood so a creature made of wood or a tree itself would likely be the easiest for me to bond with. I have never heard of a magus binding an actual tree though. I have heard of those who know a process by which the binding can be done upon a spiritual entity so, perhaps, the spirit of a tree or of the woods would suit me best but I do not know how this is done, merely that some know how it can be done and perhaps I can learn from one of them. But what of you? We met a cat at Castellum Veridian, did you speak with it?"

"Would animals living in trees be of any interest? I don't recall seeing any cats there. Perhaps I was too busy talking to the forest. What was it like?"

“Perhaps though a creature with flesh of wood would be much better.”

“Small, and black… kind. It new the path into the regio and the dangers, perhaps it was the familiar of one of the magi before her life ended. It understood me, and was not afraid. I asked it to come along with us but it chose not to.”

"Right now I have my head more into I'm more hunting cats, I think, that are as apt as I am in nature rather than a house pet. A lynx perhaps. We'll see. I need to practice my skill a little bit before I contemplate it seriously. It may be worth seeing that cat when I'm ready, however, so good to know. Magic animals are precious."

After a moment, he adds "What was that you were saying the other night about... Hum. Spharios?"

If Thom is arround later, he's likely to get asked if he ever considered a familiar.

"It is the basis of the Criamon worldview. The Spharios is the original state of Harmony and we will all return and be divided from it again and again... No, I should begin at the beginning. Once, before differentiation, before Strife we all lived as immortal beings in The Spharios until one of us brought Strife by eating the flesh of an animal. After this The Spharios began to dissolve into parts which formed into the universe, Earth, Moon, the Planets, Stars as well as everything on Earth, you and I for instance, and our immortal selves were reincarnated into us and animals and every living thing we know. But it does not end, ever. The universe continues into Strife and dissolves into only the most separate parts only for Harmony to affect it again and bring us back to the Spharios and that Immortal to make his mistakes again and bring about Strife and again and again... it does not end, this trap. All our mistakes, all our pains and terrible pleasures repeated for eternity. But," a not of reverence in her voice, "Criamon, my House's founder, discovered an escape and opened the door for us all, we need only to discover it ourselves again and we can be free of the loop, all of us. You, that bird over there, the otters," She is beaming, sure that her tale has convinced Turold, finally.

Turold nods. "So eating meat is a sin for you?" he takes a moment. "We do believe in eternal cycles, as you do, though I can't say it's viewed with the same doom and gloom. I enjoy existence very much... Or at least some of us believe in the cycles... with the advent of Christianity, not all of us believe in the old ways even if we kept part of our magic. After death, the soul is supposed to migrate into another existence. Some myths say we used to have magic to either help reincarnation or to move on to a paradise outside this world after death."


"Sin, perhaps the wrong word but, yes, it is inapt and I have been breaking that lately," her hands to her belly, "I have just felt a need for it." She thinks for a bit longer about what he has said, "I would like to hear more of this philosophy, a paradise after death, reincarnation, the similarities are uncanny. Likely what Cassandra found in your Tradition that led her to it."