Chapter 9bis where Finn goes to Carlisle in Spring 1014

When Cath'rinne goes to Edinburgh, Finn sets off on foot to recruit covenfolk. To get scribes it makes sense to go to Carlisle, but unless you make an effort to avoid it, the path will take you through either Keswick or Workington¹ on the way. Your choice.

Who wants to join Finn? Which route do you want to take?

¹ maybe I should have made this Whitehaven instead. It does not matter much. There is one large village with church and regular market about there.

Finn will make sure he takes plenty of money to ensure he has enough for any “sign on” bonus needed to entice people to the Covenant, although a promise of plenty to eat may be enough

Hamish walks in, sweat on his face from a morning's sword practice in the yard with the Turb.

"I'll join you, Finn. I'd like to see if we can't find a promising blacksmith and some soldiers for the Turb who might have a few domestic skills. Like Jack. For all his bluster, that fella can fish right good. And it wouldn't hurt to find a lad or two that Odard might train." The latter said with a furrowed brow. Apparently the utility of a one-handed archer still concerns the turb captain.

Jack, for his part, seems to have taken to living lakeside and makes it a daily habit to spend dawn and dusk lakeside fishing, and he often brings home rainbow trout and perch, grumbling about the spooky brown trout he can't seem to hook.

How much is plenty of money? A day wage is about 1d, and a pound is 240d. If we are talking more than £½, you have to ask a magus, or Osgar.

Hearing of Hamish's plans, Osgar will point out that supporting only the current residents with a minimal number of servants and teamsters will exhaust the current income, and that's without paying for parchment and ink and lab materials. «I really do not think you should recruit smiths and soldiers before we can increase the income. Or at least ask the magi first.»

Hamish nods. "I understand. We'll focus on getting some servants and other folks. What else we got round here? Fisherfolk? Farming?"

«The rangers do some fishing, and hunting, and foraging of other sorts, in between scouting. We rely on their keeping track of what's going on withing ten miles, in case there be trouble stirring, so they cannot spend all their time foraging. Then we have sheep and barley from the serfs.»

"So what are we looking for? Folks to work the towers? Folks to work the barley? Goats and sheep? We should get some cows too, I bet."

Edwin volunteers to help. "There's a lot of people needed, but we also need to check the availability of food and livestock for money. What if master Janus decides to conjures to silver, or the other magi have cunning schemes to raise funds? We will need to work out where we can spend it safely."
He considers Hamish's plans, and says "Don't forget master Nauvi says he intends to bring his men when he retrieves his goods. A couple more soldiers may be all we need for now."

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«The most pressing at the moment is to get more people to empty the chamber pots, wait at the tables, and mend the magi's clothes,» says Osgar. «We have six servants, and we should have had thrice the number. Between the two of us, Hamish, it is rahter embarrassing every time the chamber pot is left full for a day. I think two days passed in Thadeus' room at one point. Thank God it wasn't master Janus' room.»

«Spring is rarely a good time to buy livestock. Those who have afforded fodder over the Winter have better uses for the animals than selling them. The best would be if we could buy enough food to keep more of our own stock next Winter. Increasing income is a slow process.»

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Hamish nods to Edwin. "Yes, a couple more would be all we need for now... short of a bigger conflict. Nauvi's men will be a welcome addition."

"That's partly true," says Hamish to Ogar, "but spring is the birthin' time for lambs, kids, and calves. And what with the troubles and all, if you're a farmer and you ain't got the wherewithal to keep a bigger flock or herd, you might be open to sellin' a few of the new stock. If we could add a dozen lambs and goats to what we got and a few dairy calves, we could start buildin' our base. Not to mention buyin' some chicks and such. Sure they can slaughter and eat 'em if they want, but ready coin still goes a long way. And if we could find us someone who's got the knowin' of cheese making... Just saying."

The big soldier shrugs.

"But yeah, we need a helluva lot more people 'bout here to get it in shape."

«Lambing isn't until next month, and then the lambs, or calves, need a couple of months with the mother. By all means, look for opportunities, but do not pay out of our ears.»

Finn will ask about what “normal” prices are for produce and animals. He will also check regular wage rates for servants and specialists. He will expect to pay more given the war but it will give a base to go from.

OOC. We go by the pricelist in [Cov].

In character, Osgar can give some examples, suggesting that they have often bought livestock and produce for twice the pre-war prices, and he knows that some people have paid three times pre-war prices, and sometimes there simply is nothing to buy. Wages for unskilled labour is often room and board. Paying in silver, a penny a day used to suffice, but people are reluctant to work for silver without knowing if they can get food.

“And do we have plenty of food to support the extra servants and a few more specialists Oscar?” Asks Finn

«Barely. We hardly sold any produce this Autumn, expecting it to be crowded when you returned. It should suffice for us and the necessary servants, maybe one or two more, but we would be pushing it. Maybe if the magi had magic to plow, we could sow another field or two. I noticed that some of the new grogs might be adept hunters. If we relieve them from guard duty to do foraging only, it would improve our margins. What do you think Hamish? You know the turb.»

Hamish nods listening. "No point having a Turb if there is no one to protect, and we won't keep it or others if we starve. So yes, we can work foraging and field work into the rotation and duties. They'll grumble but their bellies will be full."

So I have three companions on their way, Hamish, Edwin, and Finn. Do they bring any grogs or teamsters or pack animals? Or anything else notable?

Where do they head? Down to the coast and then Carlisle, or into the land and then North to Carlisle?

We will take a couple of pack mules with an assumption that there will be 15 to 20 of us coming back and at 50 miles to travel it will take at least two to three days each way. I don’t think we need more muscle if we have Hamish. Finn will suggest west to the coast road then north to Carlisle. We can assess the situation at Whitehaven, then Workington then Maryport before Carlisle in case we can pick up any servants in those places.

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"Jack, keep things together here," instructs Hamish at the end of morning arms training with any of the Ungulus shield grogs present. "Don't slack on the arms practice I've set you and the others too, but listen to the men who know Ungulus better than you. They know what they are about." He nods confidently to them all.

Hamish joins Finn, a smile on his face. "Let's be off, Master Finn. What tale you got for me this morning? Did you write one 'bout the daring swordsman who stabbed the giantess right in the eye in the middle of her cloud castle kitchen? That'd be a right good tale if you ask me." He chuckles as they set off.

Tell me what happened and I will surely compose a ballad for the ages from it Hamish and I am no master, unless it is master bard, just Finn