During the summer of 1224 the magi of Druids’ Dale all headed to the Tribunal, leaving the rest of the covenfolk to get on with things without being disturbed. I’d been meaning to follow up on some of the backgrounds for my two characters – Pisciculus and Jack – for a while, but I haven’t had any spare time to think about it. Last session I actually planned something for Jack for him to try and follow up on his plans, and they saw some fruition, which was good.
Most of the rest of the session was us players figuring out how we were going to borrow, copy and learn from books we might be able to get from other magi. Ars Magica has a whole set of rules on writing books and improving their quality – given how central study and learning is to the game, it’s not that surprising.
I also tried generating a bit of AI artwork using Midjourney, but I never seem to be able to get decent images out of these things.
Jack, Summer 1224
The covenant has been a stable home for some years, but in itself it doesn’t offer a great deal of opportunity to expand my influence. I came up here looking for wealth and power, so I need to start getting out and doing more to achieve that. There’s no reason that my aims and that of the covenant can’t be joined though.
I’ve been in and out of Dumbarton for several years now, so it was time to start pulling on some strings to see what I could hook. There are several factions within the city which are not entirely looked on favourably by the law abiding citizens of the town, so my plan was to see whether there were any I could insert myself into, or better still, take over.
Over the early summer I spent a lot of time in the various inns and taverns, buying drinks, gambling and generally making contact with people. I managed to find out a couple of the important people in the city – the leader of the largest criminal gang, and also an agent that had a reputation of being able to connect those with skill at arms, with those that needed them.
About a month into summer, one of our gambling games went a bit wrong, with accusations of cheating flying between everyone. As a fight broke out, I managed to organise one group into a unified fighting team. We kicked the others out of the inn, and made sure their leaders didn’t come back.
I’d like to say that I’d engineered the whole thing deliberately, but to be honest it was an accident. Apparently my jokes were taken completely the wrong way.
With a few words in the right places, and a bit of silver changing hands, I took control of one of the nicer inns in the city. We renamed it as The Library (named for a couple of books behind the bar), and it has become a useful resource for the covenant, and a possible base of operations for expansion for me.
As well as being a good place for the covenfolk to meet with outsiders who we might not want to invite to the covenant itself, we have allowed the local crime lord to make use of one of the rooms as his personal office. It is a nice private place, well away from the prying eyes of and ears of those around. Of course, this isn’t going to stop the magi from listening in whenever they want to, which will give us a head’s up on any plans going on in the area.
With Hamish getting on in years, it made sense to provide him a job as the bartender. He can take it easy, regale travellers of his adventures and also listen out for any rumours and tales from visitors.
Meanwhile, it gives me a strong connection to the underworld here, to see what I can build up. Greysen at least seems to have found it a good place to try out some of his new songs.
Our covenant now has an establishment within the city of Dumbarton, which pretty much pays for itself. Jack’s connections also meant that we could pick up a couple of extra covenfolk – a mercenary to replace Hamish and a scholar to help with the library.
We’d made several agreements with other covenants at the Tribunal to exchange books, and by the time Winter had rolled around, they were beginning to see fruition. We’d need to spend some time copying our books, and possibly copying theirs. It would also be good to get someone who could turn a poor copy into a better replica, with illumination and decent materials in order to make the books easier to read. Hence the need for a scholar of some kind.
By the end of Winter 1224, a number of rumours reached us via our friendly Red Cap.
- A mass of fish has washed up on the shores of Loch Eck near the new shrine to Saint Brendan and Andrew. The locals are taking this as a sign of divine approval.
- A mysterious wood has sprung up overnight near Gourock. The wood occupies land long cleared but the trees appear to be mature and healthy. Strange sounds have been heard from the woods and the locals refuse to enter its boundaries. A strange hairy man-beast has been seen snuffling around local farms and several chickens have gone missing.
- The people of the village of Clubroot near Greenock have all disappeared. Their village and their homes appear as if they left in the midst of their daily routines. Food was found mid-preparation, tools scattered in the fields and herb-gardens. If this were not unnatural enough, the entire village is also overrun by a plague of frogs.
- Travellers near Loch Thom report a strange mist coming upon them in camp and filling them with terror so great it drove them to run for miles until their strength was spent. Three fled the scene: one died of exhaustion and one broke a leg but was found by locals the next day after being alerted by the youngest and fittest who managed to reach their village before passing out. A final traveller was last seen still in the camp, laughing and crying hysterically and setting fire to his prized cart and all his belongings.
- A young man and woman have eloped from Ardgowan. While this is not particularly unusual, two ancient skeletons have been found near the stones of sleeping sun nearby. One of the skeletons had a bracelet on its arm that was identical to one owned by the young man. A search recovered clothing and other possessions that match those of the couple.
Next session: 1225, Spring