Mortui Vivos Docent

The Relic, Part II
...in which Giovanni and Fortis navigate through a difficult situation with the Templars

On the morning of Sir Guy de Chatillon’s appearance at Commarque, Giovanni successfully coaxed the truth about the relic out of his uncle-in-law, Pasquale Scharaffi. A Templar clerk had told Scharaffi about the relic and had conspired with him to steal it, sell it, and divide the profit. After the relic was stolen but before Scharaffi could find a buyer, the clerk gave in to fear and guilt and identified Scharaffi as the sole thief. Scharaffi had been on the run since that time, with Sir Guy in hot pursuit.

Fortis quickly called a meeting of the other magi after the Templar group’s departure, and Giovanni and Scharaffi were summoned to the meeting to give a full account of the Templar property and the circumstances of its theft. The magi, wishing fervently not to run afoul of the Templars, decided that Scharaffi and the relic should leave the castrum and that they would provide no assistance.

Giovanni made arrangements for Scharaffi to leave, and travelled to Sarlat to give the relic to the Abbot of Sarlat, Elie I de Vinion. He made an ostentatious show on the way of asking for information about the best routes and methods to transport an expensive item, in order to draw attention to himself and away from his uncle-in-law. Abbot Elie I accepted the relic and invited Giovanni to stay for dinner. The two were joined by Sir Guy, who quickly deduced that Giovanni was the relative with whom Scharaffi was seeking sanctuary. The discussion turned to the disposition of the relic, and when Sir Guy learned that it was now in the Abbot’s possession, he made a veiled threat of violence against the abbey. The Abbot countered with a veiled threat of excommunication against the brother-knight. Giovanni managed to cool the situation by suggesting that the matter be settled in the ecclesiastical courts.

Giovanni and his crossbowmen, Giacomo, Enzo, and Luigi, left for Commarque the following day. On the way, they were accosted by a group of thugs, who had followed Giovanni to Sarlat. The thugs managed to put arrows into Giacomo and Enzo before Giovanni’s party escaped on horseback. Scharaffi escaped the Dordogne valley area without detection, thanks to Fortis privately arranging with Giovanni to cast Disguise of the New Visage on Scharaffi.

Some time after the departures of Scharaffi and Sir Guy, Sir Gaidon d’Aubec caught the thugs. Before being hanged, their leader confessed that they had been hired by Sir Guy de Chatillon to keep on eye on the castrum and keep tabs on anyone in the area who might be related to Sir Guy’s quarry.

Cast: Giovanni and Gaston (Guillaume), Giacomo Di Firenze, Lady Agatha, and Melita (Val), Enzo Piccolino and Fortis (Patrick), Luigi Romano and William de Bonville (Paul).

Gamma Storyguide: Bob

Source Quality: 7 (Giovanni, Giacomo, Enzo, Luigi, & Fortis)

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The Relic, Part I
...in which Giovanni's life is made more interesting by the appearance of old friends and relatives

Giovanni Dimatti and his Genoese crossbowmen guards were in Sarlat on the Feast of St. Bernard, August 20, 1225, when he encountered an old acquaintance: Cedric Autain, who managed the Ile-de-France estates of Pierre Mauclerc, the current Duke Peter I of Brittany. Cedric was in the south of France to arrange lodgings for Duke Peter in preparation for the imminent resumption of crusade against the Cathars and the southern barons. He asked about Giovanni’s absence from Paris, and seemed not to know of the events leading to Giovanni’s sudden departure years ago.

Nevertheless, Giovanni was suspicious. He informed his Genoese mercenaries, Giacomo di Firenze, Luigi Romano, and Enzo Piccolino, that Cedric should suffer an accident. Giovanni and Cedric went drinking at the local taverns until late into the evening, then Giovanni and Luigi retired to the cathedral to pray. Enzo and Giacomo followed Cedric, who could not handle his drink and was already quite inebriated, as he stumbled back to the festivities in the town center and drank himself into a stupor. Once the feast-goers had left, Enzo helped Cedric to his feet and walked him to a stand of trees outside of town, with Giacomo following behind. The two crossbowmen quickly stabbed the defenseless Cedric to death and took his clothes and other belongings to make his murder look like part of a robbery.

Cedric’s body was discovered a few days later, after Giovanni had returned to Commarque. No suspicion was cast on the Lombard moneylender.

Approximately one week after the Feast of St. Bernard, Pasquale Scharaffi, an Italian merchant and relative of Giovanni’s arrived at Commarque, along with a Jewish locksmith, Binyamin ben Yitzchak, who came to live with his uncle Avram ben Schlomo. Pasquale, looking exhausted and malnourished, related his recent financial troubles to Giovanni and asked for a loan to help him get back to Lombardy. Pasquale offered the contents of a white box he carried as collateral. Inside the box, wrapped in red silk, was a gold mask containing a skull. Pasquale claimed that the skull was the head of John the Baptist. After consulting with the magi Zaccheus and William de Bonville and with the priest Father Godefroi, Giovanni was convinced that the skull was indeed a genuine relic and pondered what to do with it and with his uncle Pasquale.

The following day, a small group of Templar knights and monks arrived at Commarque. Their leader, Sir Guy de Chatillon, explained to the assembled lords of Commarque (Agatha de Reims, Jehans des Escars, Roger de Commarque, and Fortis) that they sought an Italian, Pasquale Scharaffi, who had stolen Templar property (“letters of credit”) and had received word that he was heading for Commarque to meet with a relative here. Fortis and the others claimed ignorance of such a person, though Ivor the Turb Captain, who was also in attendance, silently signaled to Fortis that such a person was within the walls of Commarque. Sir Guy and the other Templars took their leave after securing permission to search the surrounding countryside for Scharaffi, noting that they would be staying at the estate of Lord D’Aubec.

Cast: Giovanni and Roger de Commarque (Guillaume), Giacomo Di Firenze, Lady Agatha, and Zaccheus (Val), Enzo Piccolino, Father Godefroi, and Fortis (Patrick), Luigi Romano, Binyamin ben Yitzchak, and Ivor (Paul).

Gamma Storyguide: Bob

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Revelations
...in which a French army arrives and a Bjornaer plot is revealed

March 1225 saw a great deal of rain, and the plain about Commarque was a soggy mess. Unhindered by such simple concerns, the Bjornaer maga Curina once again paid a courtesy call to the magi of Crypta Venatus, and warned them that she and her clan (Ilfetu) would again be performing their mystery cult rituals nearby. As a fellow Wilderist, she invited Gaston of Bjornaer to participate.

Meanwhile, another familiar face arrived, bearing her own invitation. Melisandre, bride to Royal family member Henri de la Rochenoire, arrived the following day to visit her father. She also extended an invitation to William de Bonville and the other ‘scholars’ to dine with Count Archambaud II Talairand de Périgord, who himself was entertaining many powerful French nobles…it was even possible that His Majesty, King Louis VIII, would be in attendance! Raymond of Toulouse had been excommunicated, and a large army was being sent south to push him into the sea and return the light of Christ (and rule by the Crown) to these heathen lands.

Melisandre admitted to William and Melita of Bonisagus that her marriage was not what she had hoped it would be. With the dissipation of William’s love philters, Henri had gone back to his womanizing ways, and paid her no heed since their daughter was born the year before. William planned to create another potion; Melita recommended Melisandre carve out her own life with the power given her.

Arriving in La Cité, the party from Commarque was stunned to see the large French host arrayed around Archambaud’s lands. William tried to procure housing for their men from the army’s commander, Humbert de Beaujeu, but was rebuffed. Archambaud made the necessary arrangements, and held an audience with the magi. They discussed strategies for moving the army on, while stressing the need to downplay allegiance with King Henry III.

Lady Agatha again impressed the guests at dinner with her singing, accompanied by the legendary Bertran de Born lo Filhs. Yet during dinner, Giovani realized that vicious rumors of Godlessness in the area were being perpetuated by one of Humbert’s party, a Dominican brother named Michel. Williams quickly put an end to this by casting Gossip of the Marketplace, insinuating that the brother himself was a buggerer. The next day saw the good brother off. (William also gained a reputation for managing a 43 on his Carouse roll, drinking the place practically dry and being unfazed!)

Meanwhile, Gaston discovered that Petrocoricus, the lead Bjornaer of the group of Wilderists that had enacted the ritual, had himself discovered a way to awakened the Heartbeasts of mundanes, and that some of the participants in the recent ritual were not magi, but simple peasants from the village nearby in which Petrocoricus lived. He then grappled with the implications of this news, and worried whether or not he should inform his sodales.

Calling the magi together, Gaston tried to gauge his fellow magi’s positions with respect to the advance of the Dominion. Melita quickly gathered that his meandering queries had to do with the recent Bjornaer rituals, but William, Fortis of Flambeau and Jehans of Tremere were obviously of the mind that the Dominion could and should not be challenged. Melita advocated formally disavowing the Bjornaer activities and Gaston’s fellow magi favored alerting the Quaesitors, lest any possible violations of the Code come back to haunt them.

Cast: Gaston and Giovani (Guillaume), Eadwyn, Melita, and Agatha (Val); William (Bob); Giles and Jehans (Eric).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

Source Quality: 6 (+1 Cnf to Agatha and William)

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The Way of St. James, Part II
...in which Crypta Venatus leads a small army to recover a missing heir

Having been understandably cowed by the fearsome Lady of the Hills and her consort, Bonebreaker, the magi pondered their next step. Determined to free the Montagrier lad, but wary of relying solely on their magics, they dispatched Gaston to the covenant to consult with their sodales and gather reinforcements. Fortis embraced the idea of giving battle, and suggested that bowmen and a cavalry charge were the best bet against a 14-foot-tall giant. Lord Commarque, Sir Jehans and the doughty Sir Etienne provided mounted knights to back Sir Gaidon, while the turb captain brought 5 longbowmen and even Giovani’s crossbowmen.

Leading this small army to rendezvous with the others, the magi decided to turn the mundane forces loose on the giant, while the magi focused their attentions on the lamia. Melita somewhat reluctantly agreed that she was needed to lead the force into the regio, being only partially reassured when Fortis stated he would be right behind her, and she was to get behind him as soon as they entered the regio. On the third pass around the stele, the group was surprised to have not been immediately set upon. Quickly, though, the giant Bonebreaker made himself known, roaring as he rushed the covenant forces.

However, this was a disciplined force, and the prowess of both Welsh longbowmen and the flower of English chivalry was on display. The longbowmen repeatedly found their target with their murderous shafts, and as the gravely wounded giant yet roared defiance, Fortis dropped him into a Pit of the Gaping Earth. Bonebreaker was able to make but one mighty attack, which Sir Jehans just dodged before losing his sword. The charging knights incapacitated the now pitiful creature, and Ivor mercilessly ordered his men to fell him with arrows.

A nearby hut seemed to be the Lady’s home, but she was nowhere to be seen. Melita hit upon the idea of using The Inexorable Search on a makeshift map of their surroundings, again using their Arcane Connection to young Antoine. Though still not visible, Melita discerned the lamia must be watching them from a nearby stand of trees, and subsequent spells from her gave her brief glimpses of their invisible adversary. The other magi joined in trying to subdue the creature: Fortis blindly (but ineffectually) throwing down more pits to try to hamper her, and William more effectively creating a swampy area to both slow her and allow her to be tracked. Finally seeing her tracks, Sir Gaidon tackled the invisible beast, and though the Lady assumed her terrible visage and menaced him with her claws, the great bear Griou charged into the fray and slew her in a single blow.

Melita carefully opened her gizzard, and found within a great many small stones. When these were arranged on the ground beside the corpse, they took on the form of children – children apparently turned into stones and swallowed over the course of hundreds of years. One was the Montagrier heir, while one girl claimed the date was almost 200 years prior. There were over 40 children so revived, and it was clear many would never be reunited with their families. Melita insisted she take charge of them, although Gaston and Fortis demurred at first. Count Archambaud II was ecstatic at the return of young Antoine, though he showed no real interest in the other children, so it seemed they would be left in the hands of the Bonisagus maga after all.

Cast: Melita of Bonisagus (Val), Sir Gaidon and William of Jerbiton (Bob), Gaston of Bjornaer and Griou (Guillaume), Fortis of Flambeau (Patrick).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

Source Quality: 8 (for both parts I & II), 6 (part II only)

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The Way of St. James, Part I
...in which a noble heir's disappearance puts the magi on the pilgrims' path

Amidst the heat of summer in 1224, Gaidon d’Aubec received an urgent summons from his liege lord, Comte Archambaud II Talairand de Périgord. This missive not only summoned him to La Cité, but also intimated that the ‘scholars’ of Crypta Venatus might prove useful in a manner that suggested he was familiar with their involvement in rescuing a missing noble boy (see The Legend of St. Guinefort). William de Bonville, Gaston du Rouergue and Jehan of Tremere agreed to accompany the Count’s man on the two-day journey to La Cité.

The normally boisterous Count was clearly vexed by something of import, and quickly explained how Antoine, the son and heir of Antoine Montagrier, Lord of Château Mourette and important vassal of Hugh “le Brun” de Lusignan, Count of Marche, Aubusson and Angoulême. Given the complicated relationship between the two counts, Archambaud was concerned how the disappearance of Montagrier’s heir while in his care would play out. He tasked Gaidon with the boy’s recovery.

Questioning Guy, the captain of the guard, amde it clear that while the premises had been searched quite thoroughly, the investigation had also proceeded without imagination and was stymied. Those who say him last – the serving girl Maude and Father Francois – added little information of use, but it was revealed that pilgrims had stayed at the castle a week prior, on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Still, the boy had not disappeared until some days after the pilgrims had passed on, so it was not seen how this event could be related. Arcane connections to the boy were gathered, and Gaston took bird form to fly these back to the covenant. Gaidon spurred his horse along the road to the Pyrenees, hoping to catch and interrogate the pilgrim group.

Gaidon caught up with the pilgrims, but learned a strange woman named Ala had joined their group just before entering the castle and then quit their number a day after leaving. Melita of Bonisagus cast The Inexorable Search using the arcane connections Gaston brought her and pinpointed the boy’s location somewhere between La Cité and Ostabat. Recalling that the Way of St. James was purported to predate Christianity, and associated with the fertility magic that so enthralled her, she set out to rendezvous with the other magi while Gaston sought out Gaidon.

When the groups had reunited, they struck south and Melita made repeated castings to try to gather their proximity to the boy. One night, the grogs glimpsed a shadowy figure, and soon the magi were confronted by a specter. William managed to gain its attention, and it gestured for them to follow it. Where no road had been before, they were now walking on the old Ab Asturica Burdigalam. The apparition led them to a small hollow, where they found the remains of a robed man. Then the spirit spoke.

He revealed himself to be one Adolphus of Bonisagus, and retold how he was traveling the Way when he was mortally wounded by a pack of magical wolves. He requested that his remains be taken to the catacombs of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. While the magi were hesitant to comply, Adolphus said he would reveal to them the hidden fertility rituals within the Codex Calixtinus is they would do so. Melita quickly agreed.

Within days the group was apparently right on top of the missing boy, according to her magics. Finding an old standing stone, the Bonisagus maga led them around it three times in a counterclockwise direction. The regio they entered was not unlike their normal surroundings, but a large boulder nearby now assumed the visage of an ugly, 14-foot tall giant. The giant, Bonebreaker, queried the visitors as to their business here, and seemed amused by their answers. He called for “the Lady”, who likewise parlayed with the wizards, assuming a knowing and superior manner. Their conversation convinced the magi that this creature had eaten the boy, and faced with the prospect of combat against two apparently powerful foes, they retreated to consider their options.

Cast: Jehan (Eric), Gaston (Guillaume), Melita (Val), Gaidon and William (Bob).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

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The Dordogne River
...in which the magi face nosy monks, Cathar heretics, and a possible rogue magus

In July of 1223 Phillip II Augustus, who had reclaimed so much of France from the English, died and was succeeded by Louis VIII. In September following this, William of Jerbiton was rudely awakened in the early morning (from his usual wine-soaked sleep) by a screaming chambermaid. A spider who had arrived with a mysterious shipment of silk brought by a trader had woven a message in the supply room overnight. It was written by the Covenant of Florum and beseeched Crypta Venatus, especially Gaston of Bjornaer, to help thwart the plans of a traveling Quaesitor of the Rhine Tribunal named Siegfried.

Siegfried shortly showed up at Commarque with letters of introduction from Confluensis. He demanded assistance, especially from Fortis the Hoplite, to investigate and potentially bring to justice a magus named Trajan who was supposedly causing floods on the upper Dordogne to stop the encroachment of mundane loggers in the wild regions of the upper river. It was a test case to extend the “Law of the Forest” into the Tribunal of Normandy, which allows such actions.

This was all part of a political game extending deep into the Rhine Tribunal and the desire of Florum and other Covenants to split and resurrect the Lotharingian Tribunal at the next Grand Tribunal.

Fortis, William, Melita (and her new apprentice Margaux), Gaston, and the grogs Hugo, Theomund, Eadwyn and Balthasar left with Siegfried to go up the river. While checking in with the Abbot at Sarlat, the Abbot introduced a party of Spanish inquisitors from the new Dominican order: the elderly faithful Fr. Diego, the young ambitious noble Fr. Bruno (who out-drank William!), and his cousin, a Castillian knight Sir Rodriguez. The Dominicans had heard of the flooding and assumed it to be the work of unnatural evil. William did an excellent job delaying and obfuscating the Dominican party the rest of the adventure, while Gaston used his shape-changing abilities to communicate with him and prevent Siegfried’s men-at-arms from discovering William’s whereabouts.

Traveling upriver, the party found numerous bodies marked by a bloody cross on their chest and a slit throat. More thorough investigation showed that drowning was the cause of death and the throats were slit afterwards.

The party eventually reached the ruined town of Argentat, home of a small Benedictine priory (smaller and lower ranking than an abbey). The town was mostly full of refugees under the grip of a Cathar heretic, Brother Arnauld, preaching a suicide cult devoted to self-flagellation and sacrificing oneself to the “second Great Flood”. The party stayed with the desperate prior and brothers for the night and confronted Arnauld and the refugees the next day. Fortis’ magic and oratory prevented yet another sinful suicide.

The quick-thinking magi ordered Siegfried to identify a group of bandits who were inciting the crowd against the party. Melita and her men-at-arms rounded them up and forced them to return to the priory. Margaux was able to identify one of them as a bandit working for Atsingani. They confessed their crimes after Siegfried read into their sordid minds. They were guilty of mutilating the drowned bodies of the suicides to harvest their blood for vis purposes and handing it off to a man who appeared to be Jacques the Flambeau of Atsingani. Siegfried found this highly unsavory as a Quaesitor — who knows what aspect such vis would be. Potentially even Infernal.

After leaving the bandits to justice, the party journeyed further up into the gorges of the Maronne River, the source of the flooding. [Pending possible die rolls and skills, they found unusual underwater volcanic caves and potential entrances to a regio — perhaps even sources of Aquam or Ignem vis].

Confronting Trajan with Siegfried, the party took a middle line and asserted that the “Law of the Forests” did not hold here in the Rhine Tribunal and that, while not blatantly guilty of violating the Code against inciting mundanes against magi, he was pretty close and was better off leaving the Tribunal alone, being unlikely to find the political support here he might have in the Rhine. Trajan seemed to agree to relent.

William later led the Dominicans to Argentat, and the Dominicans purged the heresy with fire and sword. William, somewhat unconvincingly, blamed the Cathar heresy and suicide cult for the flooding.

Conclusion/Follow-up

The party generally aided Siegfried on his investigation. Confluensis and the Quaesitors of the Normandy Tribunal are pleased, especially with Fortis’ attention to his Hoplite duty.

Siegfried noted that the party would not break the Code themselves and start rumors against a magus causing the flooding in order to build a case against Trajan. It’s obviously nothing he can complain about as a Quaesitor, but he probably suspects the party of dragging their feet a little. He and his Oak Gild of the Rhine will be somewhat pleased with the party although not as much as Confluensis.

Trajan, House Florum, and the Hawthorne Gild of the Rhine will be disappointed that the party didn’t help Trajan out more, especially with Gaston not siding a bit more with his Bjornaer leanings.

Commarque pretty much cast their lot with the anti-Lotharingian forces for the next Grand Tribunal.

William became good friends with the Dominicans. Although the elderly Fr. Diego is probably shuffling rapidly toward his impending demise and canonization, the ambitious Fr. Bruno is likely going to be around for some time to come in a position of power. This is a useful if dangerous connection.

The magi of Commarque, and Siegfried the Quaesitor, are also in possession of some fairly damning information against Atsingani — are they really collecting vis that is potentially Infernal?

Cast: William of Jerbiton (Bob); Gaston of Bjornaer (Guillaume); Melita of Bonisagus and Margaux (Val); Fortis of Flambeau and Hugo (Patrick).

Eta Storyguide: Eric.

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Margaux

placeholder for Guillaume’s story, Winter 1222

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A Rebirth of Magic
...in which a bargain with the mysterious Patriarch floods the valley with magic

In the autumn of 1222, the pious Zacchaeus of Verditius dreamt that he walked from his laboratory into a strange, enlarged, grotesque version of the Commarque basse cour. The bells of the Chapel of St-Jean called to him, and he made his way to the sanctuary amidst a sea of smallish, somehow distorted, horses. Inside, he found a couple praying at the altar, holding an infant in swaddling clothes. As he approached, the man and woman smiled at him, but when he pulled back the swaddling, the baby was an ugly, brutish creature, with a large brow and strange eyes.

On the heels of this dream, Michel de Bourdaigne arrived with an “ill” Melisandre des Escars. William of Jerbiton had arranged for the pair to court, and during a walk to go see a nearby “mystical cave”, Melisandre had “hallucinated”, so Sir Michel had brought her back to her father. Recognizing that the girl had previously shown signs of second sight, Melita of Bonisagus queried her and discovered that Melisandre had seen a brutish man (much like those encountered in the story Lascaux) glare at her and then retreat into the cave. That this man should be so strange and yet unseen by Sir Michel suggested a supernatural nature. Given the import of past encounters with these magical creatures, the promise of yet another cave with magical qualities, the strange dream, and the plans Sir William had set in motion, William, Melita, Zacc and Gaston du Rouergue accompanied Sir Michel back to the site of the cave. Once Sir Michel and Melisandre left, the magi began their investigation of the cave of Rouffignac in earnest.

Gaston and Griou immediately smelled traces of bears, and the Bjornaer posited that with the coming of winter, this place would see them in some numbers, hibernating. Indeed, as they journeyed deeper and deeper into the caverns, they saw evidence of great bear claw marks, and wallows, where a bear might seek to rid his fleas in the dirt floor. Eventually, they were greeted with the mysterious cave paintings so prevalent in the valley, and the equally enigmatic tectiform patterns that accompanied them. Upon the ceiling of one great chamber, the group contemplated the magnificent circle of animals depicted there, and wondered at its significance.

Suspecting the presence of a regio, Melita used her magics to discern its boundaries, and by tracing the path of the horses and ibexes on the ceiling, soon the group noticed more distinct paintings, and the presence of a circular well in the center of the chamber. Returning towards the cave entrance, Gaston intervened when they were confronted by a monstrous bear. The bear intimated that his kind were told by the “Patriarch” to expect the group; when questioned about this, the bear led them to a painting of a large creature resembling the elephants of legend. Melita again sought to take the group into a yet deeper level of the regio, and she succeeded. Here, the group surprised a group of the brutish people inhabiting it, and forced the things to flee. Entering into the now-familiar snow-capped realm of magic, the group sought out the Patriarch.

Gaston approached an enormous specimen of the type, and engaged the Patriarch in a strange discussion. The mammoth creature revealed the location of four of the Venus fertility idols, and instructed the magi where they should be placed when the group exited the regio for their own reality. Melita readily agreed to take the idols, and to place one of them in the well as they returned. Making their way back, the group briefly imagined all the animals from the walls running out of the cave and into the wild.

The tale took an unexpected turn when the group discovered that the magical aura surrounding the covenant had subsequently increased. Fearing the effects of such strong magics on the mundane population, the group debated what was to be done about the matter.

Cast: Zacchaeus of Verditius (Dwight); Gaston of Bjornaer (Guillaume); Melita of Bonisagus (Val); William of Jerbiton (Bob).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

Source Quality: 6

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Isle of the Dead, Part One

During the Normandy Tribunal the previous year, Apollyon of House Tremere tried to recruit participants for an expedition to Mount Dol, the domus magna of House Diedne. Both Gaston and Fortis had expressed interest and after having seen the expedition charter had gathered some grogs, borrowed some vis from the covenant stores and set off to explore Mount Dol. The plan had been to use the talisman of Verbantium, a Diedne magus to take advantage of the arcane connection between the talisman of the presumably dead magus and wherever his body was.

Fortis and Gaston decided to bring 13 additional mundane support personal and 10 pawns of Creo vis. Under the principle that those who pay the piper call the tune, the expedition charter stated that the resources that were brought to the expedition counted as additional votes determining what the expedition would do and additional shares for dividing whatever treasure was found. The plan had been to meet at the Summer Solstice. Fortis and Gaston wanted to leave time for unseen emergencies, and as the trip was uneventful, (other than David finding that Mary had snuck along) they arrived three days early. They and the companions set up camp. Apollyon, Tisatis and Corrin arrived the next day, and Dolden the following day. Apollyon, Tisatis and Corrin had brought 18 soldiers with them, while Gaston and Fortis had brought seven soldiers and 7 servants.

Fortis made an attempt to get to know the other magi. Tisatis was a large man wearing armor with a cheerful disposition and an optimistic outlook. He was happy to tell stories about himself, including how he had recovered the talisman. Both Fortis and Gaston asked to see it. It was a plan wooden staff, which seemed odd to both of them, as normally the more features there are on a talisman, the more useful they are to the magus. In fact, Gaston believed that Tisatis was in fact playing a prank on them and that he was only showing them a plain piece of wood. However, Tisatis assured them that it was in fact the talisman and that he had recovered it from a temple where it had been consciously left, as if for someone to find.

Corrin was another Tremere magus, and his black robe indicated that he was fairly junior. His personality was friendly, if with a much less optimistic outlook than Tisatis. He confided to Fortis and Gaston that Tisatis was a specialist in Vim, and was a fierce fighter of demons, Infernalists and other enemies of the order. Corrin mentioned that he personally was a healing specialist; assigned to this expedition by his house for this purpose. Dolden was quiet, perhaps because when she spoke, one could see her pointed teeth as part of her faerie heritage. When asked, she mentioned she was a Imaginem specialist.

Once everyone had arrived, how many votes each magus had was calculated and an election for leader occurred. As Apollyon and Tisatis had two-thirds of the votes between them and Tisatis immediately nominated Apollyon for leader, the decision was something of a done deal.

The following morning, the six magi assembled and started to cast Opening the Intangible Tunnel with the aid of Wizards Communion. Once it was cast and while Apollyon was trying to cast a spell to perceive what was on the other side, four of the magi vanished from where they were and reappeared on a black marble circle, around 100 paces in diameter. Though the magi did not know it at the time, they had all vanished almost simultaneously but each appeared perhaps ten seconds apart. The first to appear was Dolden, who promptly turned invisible to protect herself. Then Gaston appeared, then Fortis and then Corrin. After a minute or so, Dolden made herself visible and the four magi took stock of the situation.

First, they took stock of their situation. The black marble circle was perfectly smooth, but did have some twigs and bird poop on it. It was set on the north side of either an island or peninsula. When looking down from the edge, it was a good 15 paces down from the edge of the island to the beach, which was currently 5 paces from the water. It was impossible to tell immediately whether the tide was in or out. To the south were oak trees which were just starting to sprout leaves, here it seemed to be the middle of spring rather than summer back in Brittany.

Corrin took his raven cloak out of this pack and took to the air to discover more. He circled about a mile out. He did not see any habitation, but did see an island to the north, that had a snow covered mountain and a volcano shape to it. He did see a stream on the east coast of the island where the party could get water.

The party decided to enter the forest and travel to the stream. Gaston tried to determine if the forest had human habitation. He smelled rabbit, deer, boar and wolf, but noticed that the wolves had not been marking their territory and remarked that this was odd. The forest also did not seem to be harvested for firewood.

It was decided to have Corrin and Gaston transform into birds and scout ahead while Dolden and Fortis waited behind. Gaston would take the west coast and Corrin the east, and see what they could find out. Both went down the respective coasts, and met nearly 10 miles south. They determined that they were in fact on an island, that a village existed at the southernmost point. The center of the village had a tower that looked like it could have been created by Conjuring the Mystic Tower – so closely did it match Hermetic usage – but the stone was worn more than would have been reasonable. Around that building were four smaller ones, each had a wooden statue outside it standing watch. There was a dock, with a couple of boats maybe 5 paces wide and 30 paces long.

There were a number of villagers out working the fields with oxen, and children playing in the streets. Coming close into the village, depending on the animal shape to disguise them and taking advantage of the superior perception that their bird shape provided, that everyone was wearing a small skull on a necklace around their neck. The skull was the size of a rat but it looked like that of a human.

Gaston and Corrin decided to return to report to Fortis and Dolden what they had learned. They flew back and as they were arriving they noticed a pack of wolves that were approaching. Changing back, they warned Fortis and Dolden and everyone prepared to meet the wolves. Fortis cast Circling Winds of Protection, Gaston cast Beast of Outlandish Size, Dolden cast Dome of Diamond (a glamour magic spell that created a dome that kept the wolves from reaching her), and Corrin cast Blade of the Virulent Flame, with a flaming sword in the right hand and a wand that shot fire in the left.

Still, the magi were unprepared for the teamwork that the wolves showed. For some reason, the first bolt of fire from Corrin’s wand was ineffective, the second was more so, but then he was mauled to unconsciousness. Fortis dropped the Circling Winds of Protection to cast Pilum of Fire at a wolf, and then switched over to his axe, trusting his armor to protect him. It did, but the wolves still managed to wound him before he recast Circling Winds of Protection. The wolves that attacked Gaston mauled him before he could react. He then went berserk and smashed one, but upon continuing to be mauled, he calmed down and deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, Gaston climbed a tree. Dolden, safe inside her Dome of Diamond, cast a variant Agony of the Beast which incapacitated wolves right and left.

Once Corrin was down, Gaston was safe in the tree, Dolden was safe in the dome and Fortis was safe in the Circling Winds, the wolves gave up and dragged what friends they could away. Fortis lunged at the wolves that tried to drag away Corrin and blew them away. He also made threatening actions towards the wolves that were writhing in pain, trying to communicate that he would kill them if the other wolves attacked again.

With two magi badly wounded, one who was unconscious, the magi rested there. Dolden waited until her dome dissolved before coming out. Fortis cast Gift of the Berserk Fury on himself, then sponted a version of Bind Wounds on himself to avoid having his wounds worsen. He then sponted a month’s duration version of Conjure the Sturdy Vine, which he used to tie up the three wolves that were incapacitated, either by Fortis’ axe or by Dolden’s spells. Gaston noticed that the wolves who attacked all wore the same necklace as the people in the village. The party then waited, hoping that Corrin would wake up and be able to lower his Magic Resistance so that healing spells could be cast on him.

While you were waiting, an illusion appeared on Corrin’s chest, which took on the appearance of Apollyon. Apollyon and Tisatis had cast Opening the Intangible Tunnel to reach them and were trying to watch what was going on, but complained that the magi were moving too fast/talking too fast for them to understand. It seemed that the magi were in a fast time regio, as it was still morning back near Mount Dol, and only a brief time had gone by. However, the illusion that were sent across from Mount Dol acted in local time, so they were understandable, and Dolden sponted illusions of written messages back. Apollyon and Tisatis sent a Creo Corpus healing spell through the Intangable Tunnel to aid Corrin in recovering from his incapacitating wounds.

Also, in waiting for sunset, a slightly translucent man in armor approached. He only spoke English, which luckily Fortis knew as well. He identified himself as one of the grogs who worked for the Tremere who had been attacking the Diedne in the year of our Lord 1050. He was unsure how long he had been there on “The Isle of the Dead” but he knew that the rest of his party had perished and was very happy to be able to link up with some Tremere once again.

Sunset came, and Corrin recovered consciousness. Fortis cast Gift of Berserk Fury and Corrin managed to spont a personal, non-fatiguing version of Bind Wounds upon himself before casting Incantation of the Body Made Whole upon himself. Fortis also renewed the Gift of Beserk Fury and Bind Wounds upon Gaston and himself.

Cast: Fortis of Flambeau (Patrick); Gaston of Bjornaer (Guillaume); Tisatis of Guernicus (Bob); Corrin of Merinita (Val).

Zeta Storyguide: Dwight.

Source Quality: 10

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The Lost Abbot, Pt. I
...in which the Abbot of Cadouin vanishes after a mysterious visitor arrives

The warmth of spring 1222 was welcome in Commarque after the hard, bitter winter of 1221. A bright, balmy May day found Sir Gaidon d’Aubec dictating a report to his young wife when there was a loud knock upon the door.

It was Thybaut d’Limeuil, his man from the southwest region of the valley. Thybaut had dire news: Abbot Edric of Cadouin Abbey had disappeared, and with him a stranger who had sought shelter there but days before. Though affairs concerning the abbot were normally a matter for the church, he thought that the presence of the stranger suggested a very non-clerical influence—specifically, bandits. Gaidon promised to investigate and called Sir Etienne to join him.

Knowing he would need more men if there were bandits involved, Gaidon first traveled to Commarque to beseech the scholars there to lend their aid. At first they were reluctant, until Fortis pointed out that the Abbey lay adjacent to the forest of La Bessede, where some of the covenant members had planted some magical pine cones years before. Fortis convinced them that the covenant may have had some responsibility for the abbot’s disappearance, and this settled the matter.

It was decided that a small group of men would be sent to investigate, and more could be sent for if needed, for the Abbey was only a full day’s travel away. So Father Godefroi and the failed apprentice David rode in a cart, while Fortis of Flambeau, Sir Gaidon, and Thierry rode on horseback, and Gaston of Bjornaer traveled in his animal form.

When they arrived at the abbey, they were welcomed by Prior Ansel, who was dining on duck flavored with the truffle oil that the abbey sold as a small part of their income. He invited Gaidon and Father Godefroi to join him, and assumed the other men were men-at-arms, welcoming them to the brothers’ table in the main hall. This suited Gaston and Fortis well, as it gave them an opportunity to question the brothers and novices.

Prior Ansel briefly introduced his guests to Quentin, the novice who had waited upon the abbot, and explained that Abbot Edric had not been seen since two nights previously, when he disappeared sometime between Compline and Matins. The abbey received many visitors and pilgrims thanks, in part, to its possession of the Cadouin Shroud, but three days before one had been invited to stay with the abbot in his dwelling.

This man had arrived on horseback, saying that he had been attacked by bandits and robbed, and begged succor of the abbey. He was taken to the apothecary, where his needs were seen to, but soon he began to ask for the abbot, and he was humored, since his bearing and speech were noble. After some private conversation, the abbot had “Gervais” moved to his own guest room, where he stayed for two days before both men disappeared.

Meanwhile, the other men dined with the brothers on bean stew and bread, and learned some more details of the stranger’s appearance. Gaston questioned the truffle dogs, and learned that they did not like the stranger and thought he smelled “wrong”; that Quentin was kind to them; that the Abbot was good to them as well; and that the Prior kicked them.

After the meal, Sir Gaidon asked that he, Father Godefroi, and David be allowed to examine the stranger’s room and the abbot’s room. The prior agreed on the condition that he be allowed to accompany them. David, upon searching both rooms, found a few stray hairs and signs that something had been burned in the fireplace.

As the bell rang for the orders, Sir Gaidon and Father Godefroi agreed to attend at Prior Ansel’s behest, while the others stayed behind to share what they knew with each other. When Gaston learned that both the stranger’s and the abbot’s horse were still in the abbey’s barn, he knew they could not have gone far. Upon questioning the horse, he learned that the abbey’s visitor had arrived with little but a small satchel and the clothes he wore. The satchel, however, was nowhere to be found, and Quentin claimed that he had not found it when he cleaned the abbot’s house.

Fortis and David snuck back into the abbot’s house during services and took the ash they found in the fireplace, as well as a pillow which seemed to bear the mark of the abbot’s head, to use as an arcane connection.

As the novices emerged from the chapel, Father Godfrey and Gaidon attempted to question Quentin, but did not learn much other than that the boy seemed very afraid and concerned for the abbot, who had been kind to him.

The group determined that Gaston would take the hairs of the abbot and his visitor to Commarque so that Melita of Bonisagus could perform The Inexorable Search with them. After some effort, Gaston turned himself into a bird and arrived at Commarque that night. Melita performed her search and discovered that both abbot and his visitor were somewhere in the region of La Bessede; Zaccheus cast Opening the Intangible Tunnel and saw only a quiet conifer forest where the two men should be.

With this dread information, Gaston returned the next day. Fortis immediately understood its implications, and warned his companions not to venture into the forest of La Bessede, where only a person with magic resistance could go safely. With the hope that they would thus remain safe, Gaston and Fortis made ready to enter the forest and confront the trees.

Cast: Gaidon d’Aubec (Bob), William of Jerbiton, Fortis of Flambeau, and Father Godefroi (Patrick), Denel, David and Zaccheus (Dwight), Gaston of Bjornaer (Guillaume).

Delta Storyguide: Val

Experience: Source Quality ?

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