Oifa stepped in before Gavin could reply.
“Pairs. Alyce can escort me. Cierra with Master Marker, and the others in camp. Compromise? Perhaps the camp wards can be strengthened, if our hosts acquiesce?”
“Agreed,” both men said at once, Tobias adding, “Let’s get started then. Sooner we figure this out, the sooner we can go home.”
As most of the group filed off into the woods, after cleaning up, Tobias ducked into his tent to retrieve his bag. He nodded to Shannon, then toward the perimeter.
“How’re your sorcery wards?”
He got a rueful smile, “Better than this witchcraft.”
“I’ll get some runes up, you take the sorcery? Save the stone for more important things?”
As he removed a small pot of paint and a brush from his pack, Tobias saw her draw a short wand. It expanded into a tall staff of dark wood capped with silver on both ends. the wood appeared to be many pieced twisted together, the top cap was some fanciful design that held a few gemstones.
She planted the butt of the staff in the ground near the camp’s center. While she closed her eyes and held the staff with both hands, Tobias moved to the trees on the perimeter.
He felt the energy flowing through the staff into and through the ground with a sixth sense possessed by all mages.
Moments later, Tobias was absorbed in drawing a complex sigil on the nearest tree. His vision narrowed to the six inch square area as he concentrated on getting the symbol just right. Six other trees followed, each bearing a series of three symbols. He’d prefer ten, but there weren’t enough conveniently placed trees to make a solid circle. But, it should do well enough, reinforced by Shannon and the witches’ spells.
Nearly two hours later, he found his fellow instructor sitting by the fire, her staff leaning against her shoulder.
When he joined her, Shannon said, “I’ve been thinking about containment. Some general protection stones, if combined with appropriate runes?”
“I’ll check. Maybe a time or space sigil, none come to mind off-hand immediately, but there should be something. Thoughts on how they’ll interact?”
“I hadn’t gotten that far,” Shannon shrugged, “I thought adhering the stones with sorcery, with the runes drawn on the stones themselves?”
Tobias nodded, “Logical. Sounds feasible. The ‘glue’ spell shouldn’t interfere with either magic.”
“I’ll put together a couple samples while you study.”
Both retired to their tents, leaving the fire banked but easily restored.
Tobias assumed Shannon would be mostly sorting stones.
He quickly sorted through the handful of books he’d brought along. The Saxon, he knew well. There were no obvious runes there, although sigel, the sun rune, or eþel, the homeland rune, could potentially be forced or cajoled into use for time or land-space. The proto-Germanic jera, year, would be better for time, but he’d found the proto-Germanics difficult to use. Perhaps because they were theoretical roots that had not existed as such.
Finding two books, Tobias took a seat in the front part of the tent. The chair had nothing on his Tower study, but its plain wood frame and canvas served their purpose. It was a comfortable enough place to skim through Germanic rune lore and study a more general text on sigils that he hoped might have something more specific to their desired meanings, if in a system he had less familiarity with. That was always tricky, since each symbol always had multiple meanings and uses, all tied to the culture. Not understanding the culture had led many cryptomancers to unintended effects and consequences with rune spells.
He emerged a couple hours later with a plan in mind.
At some point while he’d been inside, Oifa and Alyce had returned. The younger woman seemed to be studying the new wards while the elder sat with Shannon, looking over some small items.
Tobias saw, as he drew closer, that they were stacks of gemstones, about two inches in height. They should be good for setting up his part of the devices, he decided.
Once he sat, Oifa said, “Good. I can report once then. I ran a couple tests, fairly standard sorcery in the theory world. The results weren’t the most solid I’ve ever seen, but I believe the effect’s natural and not temporal.”
“So . . .?”
“It was not created by anyone,” Oifa clarified, “And I suspect it’s the sign of another world or plane that’s encroaching on ours. There’s some literature that suggests it’s possible, though I haven’t heard of it happening recently,” she raised a hand to forestall questions, “But, I’m no expert on that branch of theory. Master Tiorano might be better, but I think he went on leave this year.”
“No chance of contact him?” Shannon asked, though she clearly knew the answer.
“I doubt it, he was going on a dig in . . . Thailand, I think, on a remote island off the coast.”