Having been told about bandits down in the woods, it was an opportunity for the turb at the covenant of Druid’s Dale to go hunting. We also were given some local rumours, some of which were related to what we were planning on doing anyway:
- Faeries have been spied dancing naked in the full moonlight. Unfortunately the poor lad subjected to this depravity has been struck blind, deaf and dumb. The specific location is unknown (as no-one can communicate with the victim) but thought to be somewhere near Dunoon.
- The Wurm of loch Eck is said to have come ashore and dragged off many of the prized cows of Cormac Mac Paedrus. A reward is being offered for each cow rescued from the foul beast.
- Bandits are prowling the Glenlean Road. The local lord is powerless to deal with this as he is preparing for war and cannot spare the men. Merchants from Dunfermline have agreed a reward of 20 shillings to any who rid the area of this blight.
- A group of scholars has settled in the haunted Druids’ Dale. Locals say they are friendly but suspect that they may be in league with the fey-folk as they live in a magical castle that was raised from the earth in a night and a day. The local Lord has proclaimed that a watch will be kept on the newcomers to ensure they do not bring supernatural harm to the area.
First of all, Eoin Dudb ex Miscellanea changed into a crow and went scouting along Glenlean Road to see if he could find anything obvious. Just off the road there was an abandoned wagon, with a couple of dead bodies nearby. There were larger raptors in the area, so he didn’t want to stay around for too long, but he’d located a likely destination for the followup group.
Four of us went out – the companions Jack, Sid and Greysen, and the grog Knox. Greysen is a Redcap, so technically a Magus, but we didn’t have any gifted magi with us. I think this was the first time in an Ars Magica game where we haven’t sent any magi out on an adventure. The usual issue is that everyone always wants to play their magus.
It was an overcast day – a good day for Scotland – and headed to the Glenlean Road, finding the wago without too much difficulty. It was empty, and there was no sign of the two horses which had pulled it here, but there were the remains of two bodies. Strangely, the metal axle of the wagon was rusted and almost unusable, but it didn’t look like it’d been here long enough to have rusted even in the Scottish weather.
Nearby were the remains of one of the horses. Something large had ripped it apart and eaten it – possibly a bear. There were signs of axe and arrow wounds on the bodies, and some tracks heading up the hill through the trees.
The journey is interesting – plenty of zeroes were rolled in trying to scrabble up hill sides to get around to where the expected the bandit’s base camp to be, but no botches. We had to put up with Knox complaining that we were all going to get horribly killed, but then we finally smelled the camp, from which there was coming a strong smell of death and decay coming from over the hill. Reaching the top of the hill, we looked down to see a small clearing in front of a cave, where there were four tents, a lie cow tethered up and a pile of dead bovine corpses. A small moat had been made around the clearing.
Two people were chatting by the fire next to the tents, axes and bows near to them. They looked like bandits, so we lined up and shot them.
This was our first attempt at trying combat, and initially it went quite well for us. Both Jack and Sid rolled well in their attack rolls, and since our targets weren’t aware of us we got a huge effect, killing him instantly.
Knox takes a shot at the second one, killing him as well. We gave it a few seconds to see what happens, and a third stuck his head out from one of the tents. Sid took a shot, getting a glancing bow and he darted back into his tent. Know put an arrow where he thought the guy was, and was rewarded with a scream.
Jack scrambled down the hill, landing in the moat with a little dignity. Greysen followed, with more tumbling, and splashed to a stop minus his own dignity.
A fourth came out with a bow, and took a shot at Jack but it grazed off his amour (Jack has a really good soak, what with his heavy armour, plus a good defence roll which means attackers don’t get a high effect if they hit, and so do less damage).
Jack took a charge at him, almost botching the attack but still managing to give him a heavy wound. Ars Magica doesn’t use hit points, so each wound gives an individual penalty. You don’t kill someone by wearing them down with little cuts as such until they run out of hit points, but each wound gives penalties which stack up to the point where getting a killing blow becomes not just possible, but likely.
It was then that something came out of the cave – a heavily built man-like thing with a big head and tusks, and carrying a small tree trunk. It was almost half again as tall as Jack, and shouted something in Gaelic at us. Seeing Jack, it waved its tree trunk at him, said some words, and Jack’s sword turned to rust and fell apart. So that explained the wagon.
While it was concentrating on Jack, and the others up the hill shot at it with arrows, Greysen took a run at it and stabbed it, drawing blood. Jack was busy looking for another weapon – taking an axe from one of the fresh corpses – and eventually Knox got a lucky shot (double roll up) and took it down. It wasn’t dead until Greysen beheaded it.
So we had a cave with some stolen loot, a live cow to take back probably to Cormac Mac Paedrus, and as our Redcap Greysen pointed up, some Vis from the Troll for the magi. We were all relatively unharmed, though Jack had lost his sword and some pride in that he hadn’t taken down the Troll – though he wasn’t too concerned about having been forced into the safer route.
We got back to the covenant that night, and the magi went to gather their vis from the corpse of the magical creature (4 pawns of Terram). Over dinner, Greysen composed a song about the events, and over the next weeks it seemed to make its way to most of the villages hereabout.
By the end of the Summer season the magi had finished preparing their labs, and we were ready to see what Autumn had to bring for us.