Winter 1220, Chapter 2: The Baron's Fist

((Actually, Tabanus has no magical means of travel so if he has no objections he will be riding Champion. The rest of you magical travellers may wish to pace Champion, since he's got all your stuff. Provisional members' robes can be shed at the gate house and then reacquired there upon return.))

Attravere will be pacing Tabanus along with Sir Guillame and discussing the state of the house in the covenant and tribunal.

And if Maruska isn't in earshot she may just get talked about as well!

"Quite lovely, isn't she? I couldn't help but notice a bit of an advance there." Attravere will say to Sir Guillame with a wink.

Little William grins rakishly. "If you win her, you have my word I will honour your claim. But if you cannot best me in the game of love, there is no dishonour in such a loss, as I have such obvious advantage."

You make good time for there hasn't been any rain and the ground is firm. You cross the river by noon and stop for a quick lunch.

I assume Maruska is scouting in heartbeast form: she is first to notice, not far into Welsh territory, a murder of crows so thick they blot out the sky. About the same time, those on the ground are assaulted by the unmistakable stench of rotting flesh. From her aerial vantage, Maruska can see the crows are feasting; just south lies a battlefield littered with hundreds of corpses-- at least three days old, by the smell.

Do you stop to investigate, or travel on to your destination? (Any delays increase the likelihood of needing to stop and make camp.)

((I have no objections to Tabanus travelling to the Baron's keep by horse, if it's important I have a Ride of +0))

((Rhodri gets there a while after the rest. How far is the trip? (To the stench, let's say.) Let's figure 10 km/h (about half speed) to account for some time spent making sure he's going the right way and taking little breaks. It's no break-neck pace, but he can do it without tiring himself and while wearing armor. Is everyone dealing with the stench before Rhodri gets there? Are they waiting for him?))

As everyone else is preparing, Maruska will point toward her clothes and say: "Would you mind taking those with you? I mean, if I have to get back to human form and all, running around naked might attract unwanted attention..."

The bird then flies over to where Lamentus is standing: "That is a beautiful stone, sodalis. It will definitelly come in handy, but I'm afraid I may end up dropping it during the trip if I simply carry it. I am not the most... hmm..." She makes a quick pause, as if trying to find the right words "...gracious person out there."

She stops to analize the jewel for a little while, then says: "Maybe if we tie the pendant to my claws, or attach it to my bracelet... Can any of you do it and make sure it won't fall off?"

((If the pendant is tied too loosely, Maruska will ask Lamentus to take the stone with himself and, if she needs it, she will come to him and get it. Once that is dealt with, Maruska will turn invisible with her Cloak of Invisibility formula, and will leave.))

After seeing the crows, Maruska will head back to where the others are. Once she sees them, she will approach the group and say: "I'm not sure you saw that, but there are hundreds of corpses ahead. They are a couple of days old, but still kind of fresh. Something nasty happened here not so long ago. The place looks like a battlefield or something..."

She then lands on Rhodri's shoulder and continues: "I think it would be wise for us to investigate this. Maybe some of you could stay behind to see what this is all about? I believe heading to our destination and trying to locate our sodalis would be the best use of my abilities, so I'll just keep going. Which of you will stay behind?"

Rhodri responds to Maruska, "Lead the way. Perhaps we could approach from upwind?" He will use his Wizard's Leaps to follow Maruska from ground level.

Tabanus reins in Champion as they approach the battlefield, vainly attempting use his sleeves to block the charnel stench from assaulting his nostrils as he looked for the other magi (I appoach the first one I see).

((Can I or anyone else recognize any of the combatants by their heraldry etc?))

In any case, Tabanus won't tarry in the battlefield (it offends his sensibilities). Instead he'll continue on his way to the Baron's keep where he can put his Gentle Gift to work for the benefit of the party...

"Rhodri, I believe you won't be able to follow me to the Baron's place. The effect that is rendering me invisible will only wear off at sunset... So keep traveling by magic, and I'll aproach you once we get closer. Is anyone going to stay behind to investigate this place? If no one wants to, we can come back after dealing with the Baron. It is not like these corpses will run away or anything like that." She pauses to consider what she just said "At least I hope they won't..."

((Rhodri has 2 Second Sight + 1 specialty +2 Perception -> 5+roll. He might be able to follow her.))

William scratches his chin thoughtfully. "It would be dreadfully unchivalrous of me to leave the maiden Maruska to travel without escort... but she is invisible, and in flight, thus not in much danger. I will remain and help investigate this place with Magus Attravere if he decides to stay. Sodalis?" he inquires of the magus Mercere.

((Rhodri rolls an 8 for a total of 13, vs ease factor of 9. He has no trouble seeing the invisible raven.
Maruska notices (+13 to sight rolls! whoa) that one crow is not acting normally along with its fellows; it is perched perfectly still, watching her intently.))

"Don't worry about it, Maruska. I can still follow you. Shall we approach from at least somewhat upwind and save our noses?"

((Still waiting to hear what, if anything, Maruska is doing about the strange crow. Will give it another day.))

"Upwind sounds great, then! There is just one thing bothering me, though..." Maruska turns to William "One of those crows is acting very strange. It seems to be able to perceive me, and is standing oddly still. Can you see that? It is right in the middle of the murder..."

"I can't see it from here. Is it so oddly still that it could be an illusion hiding something? Or is it nearly still, like a bird sitting on its egg, indicating a sort of concentration or focus on us? I suppose we might know better if we start moving and it must track us with its eyes and head." When Maruska is ready, Rhodri will head out via Wizard's Leap, following her from the ground.

((It is most definitely moving; if it is an illusion, it is a complex one. Rhodri strives to see what Maruska is talking about but he spots nothing.))

"It seems to be watching my every move. I don't think it just coincidentally looked over my direction..." She pauses for a little while, as if concentrating on something. "It doesn't look like an illusion either, I' think I'd probably see through it if it were."

((I am assuming Maruska's second sight doesn't show the bird as illusory))

She then turns to William. "I am very concerned about this situation, but the well-being of our sodalis seems more urgent, so I'm taking off to find Elysante. You, Attravere and whoever decides to stay here should gather as much information as you can. But please, remember to be careful. If things start to get out of hand, don't hesitate to rush back to the Covenant. Rhodri and I will come back as soon as we know more..."

((That being said, Maruska will leave the scene and continue on her way to the Baron's place. She will pay close attention to Rhodri, though, to make sure they don't get lost from one another.))

"It feels necessary to look into this battle, at the least because it poses a the potential threat to the covenant. We shouldn't be long. We may reach Flynt before you."

Attravere nods to Sir William.

(Did Tabanus recognize anything from the heraldry? Edit-- Or, did he mention anything to that effect? It seems one of the few things we might glean from the field.)

Maruska leads the way to the castle at Flint; Rhodri follows her with second sight, while Tabanus does a reasonable job hanging onto Champion, who makes a point to show that he can run nearly as fast as it takes Rhodri to teleport-jump. Only Attravere and Little William remain behind to investigate. ((Attravere's side adventure will be handled privately to keep things moving in this thread.))

Maruska, Tabanus, and Rhodri arrive at Flint just past sundown. Flint is a substantial sized motte-and-bailey with a twin lighthouse matching Gallus Florensis' tower. The gates are closed, though there are two men-at-arms posted at watch. How do you proceed?

"Well, sodales, I believe my job here is to go inside and try to find her, unnoticed. However, I don't know how long it will take for me to find her. That is, if she is even here..."

Maruska flies around her companions, as if trying to find a good place to land.

"Since it may take me some time to find her, you have a couple of choices on what to do. The first one would be to wait for me here. The second would be to go inside yourselves; that is, if you have the means to go about unnoticed as well. The third would be to go in and try to talk to the Baron, and learn whatever we can from him."

She finally lands on the ground, right in front of her sodales.

"So... What will it be?"