Maruc had had a busy time in Specularum. He hoped the petitions he had organised for the lay clergy to rally support for the church around the city elders would move the opinions of the Halavist ethos in the right direction. It would take some time for these to bear fruit he knew, but they had to start somewhere. It was a twin-pronged attack, first he tried to convince the radical members of the church that the reason that they were still viewed so poorly was their single-minded agenda. First, they needed to be popular amongst both the populous and the city elders and this meant less preaching in marketplaces and more helping the needly and making the lords feel magnanimous, gracious and important. Unfortunately, his brethren tended to be quite eccentric and stuck in their ways. Reasoning with them wasn’t an easy task.
Maruc had spent some time one evening with Miklos discussing this very thing and he’d supplied Maruc with the psychological keys that could further the church’s ends. Well he could put his hand on his heart and say that he had done his best in the short time within the city. Hopefully, by the time he would return, Halavism would be widespread and a realistic alternative to the misguided opinions of the traditional Traladanian church. But first, he must prove himself and sadly to be a focus of the church and a figurehead, only heroic endeavours would raise the profile of the Halavist church.
The warm morning sun brightened his humour and he was relieved to see that Miklos had bought a pack animal with he swiftly loaded with his gear. Travelling in armour was not a comfortable experience. After Miklos had outlined his findings in the Tavern the previous evening Maruc knew that the guiding hand of Halav had found them worthy hand had laid another challenge before them. Halav had seen fit to bring this very group together and provided they remained true Halav would watch over them.
He’d spent the rest of the evening praying and giving thanks and had been rewarded with a fine day to travel out on. The Rahib was now the hunted.
Miklos lead the pack horse up the long road out of Specularum. He glanced around at his friends, Nicolai on his new horse cut quite a figure and might have passed for a lesser noble if it wasn’t for his guarded manner and lack of hauteur.
Feldard grumbled as the first of the party begins the annoying habit of purchasing mounts. Soon the whole party will be mounted leaving him either being trampled underfoot or riding along with someone like a child. He sourly grumbled some more as, having shorter legs, he walked a good ways behind the others. “So Saeth did you learn anything of value about your kin’s village?”
“Not really,” replied the elf lazily. She didn’t let on that when she wasn’t with Miklos filling her spellbook, she spent virtually the entire time in Specularum drinking and writing poetry. Going around Specularum asking strangers about some obscure elven village was definitely not her idea of fun. They’d find out about the elven village when they arrived there, she supposed.
The young mage observed the ill-tempered dwarf as he marched along with an easy gait. He seemed preoccupied and had fallen back from his more customary position leading the party. Maruc also seemed to have his mind on other things. He’d put his new burnish platemail and shield (which he’d had polished up and refurbished) on the horse along with his backack and seemed to be rather enjoying the walk not being laden with armour.
Miklos put his hand in his pocket and produced one of the smooth pebbles he had enchanted with permanent light whilst practising his new spells. He’d enchanted five so far. His thoughts returned to the task ahead. The search for the Rahib and the ruins of the Darker’s Tower…
* * * * *
Following the map they obtained in the darkmage’s tower, the group turned off the main road and followed a side path. Suddenly, the woods around them became somehow different, more lush and peaceful. Saeth immediately recognized that they were now in the Elven territory. Leafy green trees with white, silverish trunks stood in blissful grandeur as far as they could see. The trail wound toward high mountains nearby to the north. The forest’s carpet of ferns and deep green bushes was punctuated by the bright reds, blues and yellows of the abundant woodland flowers.
Ahead, sunlight flashed off metal lying in the path. It was armor—elven armor—and whoever wore it was not moving.