It is the beginning of summer, 1221, in our Druids’ Dale saga for Ars Magica. Over the past few weeks, Pisciculus has taken up swimming in the local Loch – an activity which is seen as extremely unusual by the locals due to the coldness of the water. It’s not as if Pisciculus feels the cold though, so it doesn’t bother her. After finishing her reading of the book on Parma Magica, she goes back to reading the book on Intellego, desperate to get to a point where she can solve the local language problem with magic. A copy of the spell Thoughts Within Babble is in the library, and she wants to learn it by the end of the year. This will allow her to at least understand what is being said by the locals.
One day, a letter arrives from Horsingas covenant:
I read with interest your introductory letter of last season. As I lead the foremost covenant in Loch Leglean – at least inasmuch as securing the independence of this land from the rapacious Normans – I would welcome further discussion as to how we might come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Accordingly I invite you to visit Horsingas. Winter season this year would be convenient as would Spring next year. I would particularly appreciate the involvement of any Magi or their companions who have had recent direct experience of living under the Norman yoke.
Incidentally, Quaesitor Whitburh Frithowebba (who resides under my leadership at Horsingas) has expressed an interest in “contextualising some legal issues” to ensure that such a promising new Covenant does not fall afoul of Hermetic Law, there being so many nuanced issues and interpretations that only the Tribunal’s Chief Quaesitor can address.
I (and Whitburh) await your response with interest,
Edward of Hexham, War Leader of Horsingas, House Tytalus
Horsingas is a covenant next to the English border, and it has a reputation of being heavily anti-Norman, to the extent of making raids into England against the Norman nobility. Apparently 150 years isn’t too long to bear a grudge for some people.
Whilst Alexandra would prefer that Horsingas ignores us, we did write to them first, so it’s decided to send them a reply, and offer to visit in early Winter.
In the meantime, Jack decides to go visit the village of Coylet, and check on rumours about the Wyrm, bandits, and anything else that might be bothering the locals. He takes Hamish with him, and then Grayson and Aodhen decide to tag along as well.
With Grayson present, the locals are more than entertained with his songs, whilst Jack simply drinks them under the table until they part with information. It seems that there have been no more banditry since we dealt with the group a year ago, and the Wyrm isn’t as much as a problem as the locals may have left on. A lot of the stories about it were excuses the get out of paying taxes (the Wyrm ate my cows), but the King has decided that this isn’t an excuse any more, so the stories have lost their appeal.
The more recent tax officials have been reasonably well behaved though. The previous one was executed for being dishonest, so there is now an incentive for honesty in the tax department.
Whilst at Coylet, Jack meets a rather attractive weaver named Rohna, who makes items for some of the clan chiefs. Over the coming months, he goes back to visit her on a semi-regular basis, and she’s more than happy to give him a place to stay for the night.
Aodhen offered to hold some religious services for the locals, since the local Church presence is rather lacking. Together, we seem to be making a good impression on people.
The rest of summer and autumn pass without incident.
At the beginning of Winter, Jack, Maedbh, Greysen, Knox and Hamish head down towards Horsingas. They take a boat to Glasgow, and from there follow the roads south. It is several days journey, and would have taken longer without Greysen who had been here before and knew how to find the place. He also has a magical tent that sets itself up each night, and packages itself away in the morning, and a bowl that turns rubbish food into something edible.
We are met by some of their turb, who are well armed but approach with spears slung so they don’t appear threatening. They greet Greysen, speaking in a strange old style accent, and welcome us to the ‘covenant’ just as dusk is falling. Even compared to our spring covenant of Druids’ Dale, Horsingas is pretty shit.
There is a set of caves, and outside of it are some ramshackle buildings. The entire place stinks of animals and worse. Jack has seen better army camps than this. None of the magi come out to meet us, instead we are left to make our own camp – and Greysen’s magical tent is once again the saviour of the night.
Maedbh very sweetly asks Jack to take a look around the covenant, and he is unable to say no. Though obviously he was going to do that anyway. Honestly. Talking to the guards here, most of them seem to be mercenaries, so Jack talks shop with them for a bit. They seem competent enough, though somewhat slovenly. They get paid on time, and get to see action now and again, so they could have worse paymasters to fight for.
Apparently there is a raid planned on the priory at Hexham. The magi here, or at least Sir Edward, has a grudge against one of the families related to the prior there. Or something like that at least. The grogs seem to think that we’ve been invited in to take part in the raid. At any rate, Jack is happy to be able to speak English to some people for a bit.
Though we don’t meet them that evening, there are apparently a Flambeau, two Tytalus, two Bjornaer and a Guernicus magus here.
In the morning we are met by Barum, a somewhat (slightly) better dressed member of the covenant who has come to escort us to see the magi. Jack initially greets him, and introduces our magi. After a bit of conversation Barum and the magi switch to Latin, meaning Jack is struggling to catch up again.
Entering the caves, the smell is even worse. It seems they have their animals living in the caves with them. It’s a fine tradition for peasants, but covenants of the Order of Hermes are normally assumed to be better than that.
We are shown into a meeting room, where three magi come in to greet us. One is a handsome and well dressed man carrying a sword – Sir Edward. He is followed by an older woman in semi-formal clothes and carrying a Raven and bearing the symbol of House Guernicus. Finally, a third man, older than the other two, comes in.
Sir Edward bids us to sit so that we can discuss matters pertaining to our future relationship.