1222, Autumn II

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Our Ars Magica saga continues from the previous session, finishing off Autumn 1222.

Pisciculus ex Criamon

After the cats had departed, I headed into the graveyard to see if there were any bits of fur or claws that could be used as an arcane connection. There was nothing. The music from the in was coming to an end as Greysen wrapped up his singing. This made Aodhan’s singing and continuous ringing of a bell as part of his holy cleansing ritual all the more obvious and annoying, so I wandered off for a walk around the outside of the church.

Sid also seemed annoyed by the bell, so vanished into the darkness in the other direction. Shortly he came back, looking rather shaken. Apparently he had gone looking for the cats, and found one. It was the golden furred one, which hadn’t seemed that pleased to see him. Mention of his gruagach master mollified the cat enough that it allowed Sid to leave with his skin intact.

In the morning, Greysen met up with us. He was happy and tired. One of the local girls had happily shared his bed, and sleep hadn’t been on their agenda. Over breakfast we filed him in on the activities of the previous night, and decided that we needed more information on the bard who had been here previously. So Greysen was set to the task.

From the information he gleaned, the other bard had been much better dressed than Greysen, almost noble in terms of quality. He hadn’t been as handsome though, and his face had been mared by a scar. Nobody though seemed sure if his name – it was southern sounding, like Gascon.

The next information we needed was from Megan, who had been responsible for the silver cross put under the door. I volunteered to go with Greysen to talk with her, but he didn’t want my company since I might have scared her off. I think it’s my tattoos that people don’t like.

Megan had also known of the bard, though she hadn’t been taken with him as much as some of the other girls. She’d heard the sort of music he played before, so it wasn’t as new to her. She used to live down on the Borders, and music such as his was common there. But her description of him was much the same as the others. He was a fancily dressed man with a facial scar who played a lute.

About the cats she knew little. She had heard some stories, but nothing specific, but did seem uncomfortable talking about the subject. She never mentioned anything about rituals or sacrifices.

Afterwards I decided to ‘talk’ to Megan myself. She was down by the stream washing some clothes, so I headed down there and washed my face. She seemed disturbed to see me, but didn’t do anything rash. Eventually I was able to catch her eye and throw a question directly into her head.

What do you know about the sacrifice of the cats by the village folk?

I don’t know anything about sacrificing cats, except that it’s a really bad idea.

Whilst Aodhan had a plan to say at the church here and see to putting the villagers back on the right spiritual track, the rest of us headed off to check out the nearby villages.

As usual when travelling with Greysen, the villages we visited were happy to see us. Well, to see him. I think they were less pleased with me, and somewhat ambivalent about Sid, though he did find success with the ladies at least once that I am aware of. The villages all knew of the bard, and had seemed reasonably happy about him.

At the third village we encountered, Sid finally found some evidence of cat trails. Whilst I was doing my usual sit in a dark corner and watch routine at the local inn, I spotted an older man who seemed alone from the others. From what snippets of conversation I was able to pick up, he was the miller, and had lost his wife recently.

I got Sid to make friends with him, which got most of the information. She had gone out one night and never came back. After that, the village seemed to lose its good fortune. Sid got him drunk and took him back to his mill, where they seemed to get into some digging contest. I assume it was Sid’s attempt to look for more buried crucifixes.

I followed them out, and in the Miller’s drunken state it was easy to cast a spell upon him without his noticing.

What was your wife doing to help the village?

— She was knowing.

Did you or your wife do anything to hurt cats?

— They did all disappear about a year or so ago, but doesn’t think it was her.

In the end, Greysen had managed to find out more about the bard. His name was probably Gascon, and he was heading roughly northwest. Nobody was aware of him having sired any children with the local women, but one had taken a lock of his hair. Greysen was able to obtain it, which gave us a good arcane connection to him.

At the third village, Sid managed to finally find a bag of cat bones in the stream.

By the time we returned to the village, Aodhan had done a good job getting things settled down. Some more information had come to light. The inn here was fairly new. It had been built to take advantage of the extra traffic caused by the fighting in the west. A lot more soldiers and merchants taking supplies were passing through, and needing a place to drink, eat and sleep.

Aodhan had also realised that the inn keeper was the only villager who had not turned up at the church. The pettiness that he had discovered in the village also seemed to be centred on the inn. Having tried to talk to him over the few days, Aodhan had come to the conclusion that the inn keeper was a shifty fellow who didn’t really care much about anyone else. In some respects he could be quite manipulate and calculating.

This made him a good target for some mind reading.

What was your involvement with the sacrificial rituals?

— He burned the cats like the song said. A black cat turned up and asked what he wanted. He said wealth and influence.

It seems time for me to learn a spell to track down this bard. We have a connection to him, I just need to invent a spell. It will require a bit more time studying our Intellego book, but given that I could probably come up with something in a couple of seasons.

Before we finally left the village, it was time for some final questioning of Megan.

What was her intention in burying the silver crucifix?

— To protect her new home from evil.

What prior experience do you have with people sacrificing cats?

— There was a guy who threw a bag of kittens into a river to get rid of them, but that’s about it. She did vaguely remember a tune though.

Pisciculus headed back to the covenant to begin some studies, whilst Greysen and Jack headed out to try and track down more information about the bard themselves.

Next session: 1223, Spring

Samuel Penn

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