Chapter 7: The return to Ungulus (End of Autumn 1013)

“Understood sodalis. I will continue to occupy my new lab going forward. Ignem will always be useful for me” replies Janus with a rarely seen smile.

"Still a lot more wide open spaces than I had in my apprenticeship," says Thom in between spoonfuls of the nourishing stew. "Though the Roman soldiers were an interesting lot really. Helped my Latin I guess, but men caught in a regio who don't really understand it... It has a tragedy of it's own."

Thom listens again and nods.

"Mildred mentioned once a Merinita who had arranged with faeries to supply his lab with fae ingredients and other odds and ends. That might be helpful I suppose. If I can figure out how to do it."

Janus discovers a place for his future lab, a flat terrace with a rising cliff face back towards the mountain, a small waterfall descents the rock before flowing as a small brook across the terrace and over the edge of the lakeside edge to cascade the twenty feet or so into the lake itself. A single great tree dominates the roughly 50 by 50 foot area with the worse of the wind kept at bay by the sheer cragg face. The area is easy to get to from the Tower by either side of the cliff face along the more gentle slope of the fell.

Sometime after arrival, Cath'rinne invites Bartomeus and Sionag. "Could we have a chat the three of us?" she says, inviting them in the lab she occupies while inventing an Aegis.

Thom smiles as he walks in.

"Hi Cath'rinne! How goes the work on the Aegis?"

"Like any spells, it takes time. I prefer spontaneous magic, frankly, but rituals have their uses. How're your explorations arround the covenant going?" she replies back.

"Sure, Cath'rinne. What can I do for you ? "

Thom smiles at Sionag, rolling his shoulder with ease to demonstrate how well he has healed from her gifts.

"So far not much for what I was hoping to find. Hardly any faeries at all. Probably scared away by the war," says Thom.

"At least, I'm happy to see your shoulder in a perfect state ! That was a bad wound..."

"I was hoping to have a chat with both of you about the covenant. Ungulus is a nice stronghold, it's got income, vis sources, labs... but it wasn't my choice to settle here. As I said at some point during the conversation over the charter with Janus, I'm thinking of founding a chapter house, and not necessarily stay here. That option only really makes sense if I'm not alone in doing that. Do you intend to settle down here, or are you open to settle at some of the other sites we visited?"

She smiles back to Thom. "Maybe a site with more faeries nearby?"

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"Oh... This place is... ideal for someone like me. A stronghold, with source vis, with powerful warriors killing people because they think on other way and risking their life each time they move. Warriors who need a young and beautiful lady to dry their tears and stitches their wounds. Warriors who needs to be on their feet faster than nature wants to kill more and more people in the name of a justice....
Really this place is so... ideal... for me..."

Not need to have many folk ken to understand the sarcastic tone used by Sionag.

"I hate the mentality of this stronghold..."


Thom listens to both of the women and then turns to address Cath'rinne's question specifically.

"I've thought about this a lot in that cramped little lab when I'm taking a break from working on the Vigil," says Thom. "There is some safety in these strong, well built walls. With Master Janus and Big Hamish standing between us and the Rebels. But I feel like I've been hiding or running my whole life."

Thom shakes his head. "I've even given a lot of thought to how I might set up a sanctum here but every time I start to plan out a lab within one of the towers, I go in circles. Literally," laughs the young man as gestures the outline of a circular tower room with his hand.

"I need to be near the Fae. It's in my blood. It's where my curiosity lies and the very way I think about magic. In the tower I'm feeling restricted. Confined. It's almost like hiding again. And there are virtually no Fae at Ungulus." He shrugs.

"So I guess I'm saying that yes, I would go with you to establish a chapter house. I think Ungulus is a tremendous stronghold, but we need something that isn't just a strong outpost of defense against the war. The war can't last forever. It just can't!"

Thom pauses for a moment.

"Where are you thinking we should set up a Chapter House? The Baths?"

« The bathes ? That sounds like a good place for people who needs time to recover. »

"From what I heard, Baths has vis sources, it's a place that would be healthy to live in, and it's secure in a regio. But there is work to be done to get it off the ground in terms of getting the cooperation of the mundanes there, and clearing the supernatural entities from the regio so we can control it. But if we get the cooperation of the mundanes in St. Alban's well, we could live well enough while being isolated from their contact, which for me, is a plus. Yes, I could live there. I'm sure Turold and Betula would approve of being in Sherwood too, and we know you could find faeries nearby. The other place I'm considering is Midwinter Copse which has a strong aura. The island of the eight was a good place for me too, but I suspect the lack of faeries will turn you off much like here, Thom.

What do you both think of the options?"

Thom considers for a moment and then smiles.

"Were you thinking Midsummer or Midwinter Copse. I really liked the Midsummer Copse, if I'm being really honest. The one just a couple hundred paces from Cauldron Falls where we met the otters who served The King of the White Foam. With the exceptionally strong aura bounded by the ancient oaks?" asks Thom.

"I may have mixed up the two." she says as she consults some notes. "Yes, I was talking about the oak circle with the King of the white foam nearby. I am talking about Midsummer Copse yes."

"I also like it because it isn't far from here."

"That is true. it facilitates reciprocal visits. Would you also settle at Bath?" she asks thom. After he has a chance to answer, she asks Sionag. "What about you?"

"I'm not sure about the Baths, really, but maybe. I had my fill of Roman regios during my apprenticeship," chuckles Thom. "And this one wasn't too friendly to me. But there is some appeal to it, yes. Thought I think winning over the people of St. Albans may be more difficult."

"Be not so far from Ungulus can be a good plan if we conceive our place as chapter.

Bathes sounded really idealistic place, until you speak about cleaning the place. I don't want force people, being or other to leave or worst.

And midsummer copse and other islands around are good for me. I really like the idea of a place covered by an aura generated by a tree, particulary an ancient oak. That seems to be the better place for all of us, in fact. Just need to see how we can go there in easy way, to be sure than people can contact us and can come to us if needed."