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