The Inquisition Heads North, Part One - Archbishop's Errand
The heroes were each woken from sleep in the early hours, Storm by a young novice, Tector by one of the Baron’s men-at-arms, and Sophia by her chambermaid.
Each was summoned to a hasty meeting in the Archbishop’s chambers. Looking alert despite the early hour, the old priest explained that a messenger has just arrived from the north with dark tidings. A group of Templars had been journeying south from Scotland, bringing the traitorous Earl of Carrick and his sorcerous wife to York, there to face justice at the hands of the Archbishop. However, they had been ambushed on the road north of Durham.
Looking again at the scroll of vellum on which the message had been hastily penned, he went on to provide the group with the brief details he had received. The attack apparently involved a great, shadowy beast, barely seen in the trees, together with sorcery, including gouts of acid and enchantments that reached into men’s minds, turning them against each other or causing them to flee in terror. Of the seven Templars involved, two were killed and two badly wounded. However, the remainder of the group were able to escape, with their captives, and sought refuge in Durham.
The Archbishop explained that the Templars were led by one Mary of Stamford, a formidable young Templar with great faith. He asked the group to journey north to Durham, there to meet with Mary and help her escort her prisoners safely back to York.
Taking a small leather pouch from his desk, the Archbishop emptied its contents into his hand. “In order to aid you in this mission, and enable you to act in my name and with my authority, I am investing you with the power of Inquisitors of the Church,” he declared.
Handing each of them a silver ring bearing the Cross, he went on. “These rings signify your status as Inquisitors and should grant you assistance and obedience from the clergy throughout the Kingdom, particularly here in the North. I must warn you, although the Bishop of Durham is a holy man, he chafes under the authority of York and may not cooperate. You should be wary of him.” With that, the Archbishop gave his blessing to each of them in turn, Latin prayers on his lips. That done, he dispatched them, God speed, to the north.
Horses and supplies had been readied while they spoke with the Archbishop, and as first light dawned over the spires of the Minster, the group was already making its way along the northern road from York. Among their supplies, they discovered two vials of holy water together with their other provisions for the journey.
Early on, they made the decision to sleep at the roadside each night, rather than seek lodging in the villages along the way. Despite the fact that this would make their journey all the harder, they felt this was the right thing to do given the enemies they had made and the foes they faced: they did not wish to bring danger to any of the villages along their route.
Although they did not rest well each night, traveling for at least twelve hours every day, Sophia called upon her powers to restore each of her friends to full fitness. They also took the time to reflect on their experiences over the last few months, particularly the Catacombs and all they had learned as a result. Through this process, each of them gained further insight into their unique abilities.
Sophia developed her powers of enchantment to the point that she was able to impose her will on others for a few moments, controlling their actions as if they were her own. Storm refined his control of lightning, conjuring a miniature dragon of crackling electricity that would swoop down unerringly on his foe. Most interestingly of all, Tector learned to draw on the magic of his solstice dragon armour, channelling the bitter cold through his gauntlets to fashion a net of frost that could be thrown a short distance to entangle an enemy.
Their journey passed smoothly, save for one night in the middle of their journey when they were in the wilderlands mid-way between York and Durham.
As Tector sat the first watch, rough figures emerged from the trees and demanded silver for safe passage. Tector shouted to his friends, who emerged from their tents, as did more brigands carrying crude bows. The group were in no mood to part with their shillings, however, and ran the outlaws off, causing terror in their ranks with a combination of Sophia’s mind-altering enchantments and a demonstration of sorcerous power from Storm which clearly showed the thugs that they were out of their depth.