It is a little before 6.00am when the party members are aroused from their slumber by Vaclav.
“Everything is arranged,” he says. “You set off within the hour. Best to arrive in Prague well before sunset. The Nazis start getting suspicious about anyone arriving in the city too late in the day.”
The party members have a very small breakfast, knowing how limited the resistance members are now that they have so many mouths to feed. Half an hour later and Vaclav leads them out of the mine out to the edge of the strange, cobalt blue-coloured water at the bottom of the quarry and then assists them in climbing the steep, hidden path up the quarry bank to the top. The party members then follow him through the trees that cluster around the abandoned quarry to its north-eastern point. Vaclav checks that the coast is clear and then beckons everyone to come out of the woods.
Before them, they see an elderly-man in his late-fifties dressed like a peasant. He is sat upon a open cart which is pulled by a pair of horses. The open cart is filled with turnips. On top of the turnips are five bicycles.
“This is Ales,” Vaclav says by way of introduction. “He will take you to the safehouse.”
Ales just nods in greeting, saying nothing.
“Bury your weapons beneath the turnips.” Vaclav continues. “Just keep a pistol tucked into the back of your belt in case of emergencies.”
“One of you can ride with Ales, the rest of you should take the bikes. Ales knows where the checkpoint is. He will stop a few hundred metres short of if and then help you bury yourselves inside the turnips. That way you don’t have to spend the entire day hiding under them.”
“Don’t all ride together,” Vaclav adds. “The Nazis are suspicious of groups of fit-looking men all travelling together, so space yourselves out a bit.”
The party members do as they are bid and stash their dwindling supplies of equipment beneath the turnips. The Padre takes the footplate next to Ales while the rest saddle up.
“Good luck,” says Vaclab as he bids them farewell. "And thank you once again for all that you have done to help the people of Karlstejn.
The party members give their thanks to Vaclav and then head on their way.
Despite the fact that the day is overcast and a little chilly so early in the morning, the countryside is beautiful and everyone is glad to get out of the claustrophobic confines of the mineshaft. After a while, they are following the Vltava northwards following the river’s flow, and pedaling the bicycles is a lot easier.
Ales leads them on a circuitous route that avoids the main towns and villages where the Nazis have a presence, and so the journey is a lot further than the 15 miles distance as the crow flies. After journeying for seven hours, however, Ales finally brings the horses to a halt and speaks to Piotr in Czech.
“Dump the bicycles in the river and then it’s time for us to bury ourselves in the turnips.”
One by one, the party members burrow into the root vegetables, while the other members of the party cover them up. Piotr is the last in. Ales gets down off the footplate in order to make sure that Piotr is fully covered and then gets back up, leading the horses on.
Being covered in turnips is a far from pleasant way of travelling, so all are thankful that they will not have to endure the discomfort for too long. After a few minutes of travel, the hear spoken words of German and the cart comes to a stop. Everyone holds their breaths and hands move closer to weapons as they hear Ales talking. They all breathe a sigh of relief when the cart starting moving again.
They can hear the sounds of the city growing louder as the cart starts to make its way through the streets of Prague. After an hour of terrible discomfort caused by lying upon and under the root vegetables, some of the party members have just about had enough but then, mercifully, the cart finally stops again.
Ales says something in Czech.
“We can come out now,” says Piotr.
Instantly everyone frees themselves from their turnipy graves. They find themselves in the backyard of a run down square of houses, the walls all covered grey from years of smoke pollution. Ales watches them emerge. He is standing next to another elderly man dressed in a white apron.
The man in the apron quickly and nervously shakes each of the party members by the hand.
“Edvard,” he says, then something else in Czech while pointing to an open back door.
“We need to grab our gear from the cart and then head up to the rooms above the shop as quickly as possible,” Piotr translates.
It takes just a couple of minutes for everyone to retrieve their belongings and head up to the rooms. They are left alone for an hour before Edvard comes up and says something to Piotr.
“Edvard tells us to make ourselves at home, but not to get too comfortable as we will only be staying here one night,” Piotr translates. “Tomorrow morning we will get instructions as to where we will be going next.”
Edvard then disappears again as he heads down to the greengrocer’s shop. There is little for the party members to do apart from to wait. Although it is after dark now and the shop is closed, Edvard is still not back. He finally returns a little after 9.00pm.
Piotr questions him, but gets little in the way of answers.
“Edvard says we should all just get a good night’s sleep as he will not know the plans until tomorrow morning – after the shop is open.”
And so the party members do as they are bid. The rooms above the shop are fairly cramped and one of the party stays on watch all evening, but all get some good rest during the night.