Wednesday, May 2, 1651, mid-morning.
With overcast skies and pleasant temperatures, a light breeze and a prevailing wind.
The party begins making their way back up the valley towards the Anti-Tarsus mountains, up and over the pass into the plateau of Sebaste once again. They travel through the arid grasslands there until they find themselves once again among the plantations south and north of Sebaste ... only now, the trees have exploded in white, pink, red and orange blooms, so that there are flowers everywhere. The fragrance is overwhelming, and the vision of the landscape spectacular - even Ahmet, who has seen this many times in his life, cannot help feeling his heart softened.
On the second night after Melitene, Sevim woke up screaming in the night. Mist was able to hold her down and steady her, with a bit of water and wiping her brow ... but it has happened four times in the 13 days that have passed since the journey back to the Black Sea began. On one occasion, Mist was struck unconscious by one of Sevim's flailing fists, and I'll just say that it took Andrej issuing a command spell to stop her from hurting herself inside the vardo. It has now, however, been three days since an incident - the last therefore being Sunday. It seems to be no more than horrific dreams, where she is either begging for her life or denying that she's done something.
She has yet to say a word. She will do nothing except fall and bow when Ahmet is in sight, and in order to make her eat she has to be physically dragged away by Mist and Hichem, or Ahmet asked to step out of sight for a time. The woman is completely unable to do anything for herself, but it is clear that Mist is developing some maternal feelings towards Sevim.
The weather very quickly turns warmer after the 20th of April. It is as though the sun were unleashed, for the clouds clear, it rains only lightly now and then, and the weather improves so that it is no worse than cool at night, while during the day it is either pleasant or even warm. The party finds themselves stripping off their coats, rolling up their sleeves, even sweating now and then along the journey when for a time they must do some hard work.
I don't know if Andrej's create food is still supplying all that's needed for the extra two people (but then, Mareo is gone). He'll have to let me go.
On the morning of the 2nd, the party will meet two half-orcs as they move into the hilly forest lands north of Sebaste, where they reckon they're six or seven days from Amisos. The first will be enormous, about 6'2", weighing about 290 lbs. of hard muscle, about 40 years of age; the other will be slightly smaller, and only 20. The youth is about 5'11" and only 200 lbs. They are unusually tall and hefty for half-orcs, and Andrej guesses they might be of a newer generation, almost certainly from more eastern stock than Cumana.
They look pretty worn. They're both in armor, the elder in scale with shield, the younger fellow in ring mail; both are bearing maces and short swords on their belts, with back-packs and rope, grapples, heavy boots and tough woolen cloaks, hoods thrown off their heads. The cloaks are torn, and show signs of blood; they've both been lately wounded, the elder with a gash on his forehead that looks only a day or two old, the youth with his nose broken and bruised, and a wide patch of blood greasing the cloak on one of his shoulders. They haven't washed in perhaps two or three weeks.
The elder approaches a few steps ahead of the other and says, "Travellers, harken a moment."
The younger squawks, "Look, Papa - the half-orc's a Catholic priest."
"Yes, I see that son, shut up."