Mortui Vivos Docent

The West Breeds Wickedness, Part II which the magi of Crypta Venatus investigate suspected diabolists

All who shared the journey back to Commarque were pleased to see that after about two days, Giovani began to recover his senses and the use of his limbs. Though his physical health was restored, it seemed his confidence, and perhaps his wits, had been shaken by his strange and frightening experience. It remained to be seen how he would react to this sudden and involuntary broadening of his knowledge of the world.

The covenant’s troubles were not over, however. A scant few days after returning home, William of Jerbiton received a missive from Brandon, stating in his usual laconic style that the two grogs Gerard and Thierry had disappeared, and could not be found. Reluctantly, William prepared to head west again, this time with Gaston Ex Miscellanea, his fierce ursine friend, and the grogs Esteve and Gerard for protection.

Their journey was fairly smooth, and they were welcomed with open arms by Sieur Brun and his household, who promised good hospitality and seemed concerned about the whereabouts of Gerard and Thierry. However, Gaston and Griou were assumed to be there to provide entertainment; only Sir William was invited into the hall for dinner. There he enjoyed fine wine, a good meal and the company of Sieur Brun’s guests: two traveling scholars named Damian and Fecunditas. Noting they fit the description the villagers had given him of the “two strange men in a cart”, Sir William had barely a moment to contemplate who they might be before he detected that his parma had been breached! Whoever had been foolish enough to attempt magic-casting on him had given themselves away.

Meanwhile, Gaston investigated outdoors, hoping to find some sign of the missing grogs, and perhaps some infernal taint. He believed he had discovered an infernal aura to the northeast of the manor house, and asked Brandon to bring Sir William out to assist him. Sir William was none too pleased to have his meal interrupted, and the two began to bicker. They nearly came to magical blows before Brandon realized an infernal aura might be causing the discord, and begged them to regain their senses. Finally the two magi determined to meet at the last crossroads they had passed the afternoon before, which would hopefully be far enough away from any infernal influence that they could concoct a plan without endangering each other.

Each magus left with a grog, while Brandon determined to search the two “scholars’” rooms. He was forced to make an awkward job of it and break open the doors. Inside, he found little in the way of personal effects, and no evidence of infernal influence or devilry. Frustrated, he headed downstairs to sleep in the castellan’s bedroom, where he had been staying since his arrival. To his surprise, however, on his way down the stairs he overheard a servant girl weeping anxiously and confessing to leading his two grogs astray. He ran downstairs to confront the girl with an older serving woman, and persuaded her to tell him her tale. It seems she had promised Gerard and Thierry that she and her sister would meet them in the cave behind the manor house where Sieur Brun’s wine was stored. At the last minute they had become nervous and failed to make the rendezvous. Afraid that she had led the men to their demise, she dissolved in tears, and was bundled off by her senior. Electrified by this information, Brandon changed his plans and settled down to await the return of his employers.

Meanwhile, Gaston and Sir William met at the crossroads, and debated several plans for spying on their host’s guests. Each had drawn the conclusion that these “scholars” were magi deeply involved in the infernal arts, and were determined to find evidence of such, and possibly to confront them. They surveyed their combined magical knowledge and store of vis, and Gaston declared he could cast a spell that would allow them to peer into the would-be magi’s rooms as if there were no wall there at all. They debated plans to draw Damian and Fecunditas out of the manor house, and began their return to their lodging.

Meanwhile, Brandon had grown sleepy and tired of waiting for his masters, and retired to bed. His discovery would have to wait ‘til morn. As luck would have it, when the two magi returned to their quarters, they realized they did not know which rooms belonged to their suspected infernalists, so they were forced to wake the seneschal. In the process, they woke up Brandon, who told them his tale. The maid’s story did nothing to dissuade them from their course, and they embarked on their plan to spy on the “scholars,” and possibly lure them outside for a confrontation.

The spell cast by Gaston only revealed sleeping forms, so he and William woke the scholars and claimed they had spied an eerie light outside that men of learning such as they would surely wish to see. All parties at that point became aware that no one was fooled by this, but the sarcastic Fecunditas awoke his friend anyway and the five of them traipsed out into the dark in the middle of the night.

There, strong words were spoken, but no satisfaction gained. The suspected diabolists were, in fact, Hermetic magi, and seemed befuddled and outraged at accusations of skullduggery, and roundly averred their innocence. While they admitted they belonged to a covenant, the younger one, Damian, claimed to be a Redcap, while Fecunditas stated that Mentem magic was his weakest art. Frustrated, and not quite sure enough of themselves to engage in an all-out battle, Sir William, Gaston and Brandon were forced to let them return to bed. Damian stormed off first, but Fecunditas promised to accompany the three from Commarque into the cave where there grogs had been lost on the next day.

Cast: William of Jerbiton (Bob), Brandon Macheth (Nick), Giovani and Gaston Ex Miscellanea (Guillaume), Fecunditas of Merinita (Patrick, via Skype!).

Delta Storyguide: Val