The rumours we received at the end of 1224 pointed to a lot of activity down to the south of Druids’ Dale, so it seemed like a good idea for us to head in that direction and try and investigate as many at once. We had planned to start writing some books during Spring, but there was no immediate rush on that so we decided to have some adventure.
Pisciculus ex Criamon
Myself, Maeadbh ex Merinita, Allistor ex Miscellanea, Sid and Blane our new shield grog headed to Gourock to investigate the strange new wood that had sprung up within the last few weeks. A strange man-beast had been seen snuffling around the nearby farms, and the locals were somewhat perturbed by all of this. Since this might be the start of bigger problems, we felt it necessary to investigate. It was also a curious thing to happen, so definitely worth investigating just from that perspective.
It was raining, but reasonably warm. Or at least I thought so. The others seemed to be quite miserable though and complained that it was cold. Myself, I don’t notice the cold and would be quite happy to wander the Scottish hills in nothing but a short tunic like I might back home on Crete. However, even without my tattoos the local villagers would probably find it unusual for a woman to be coveting around in early spring wearing nothing but thin cloth, so I keep my cloak about me to hide my appearance.
Up ahead was a very green, dense wood, that seemed to stand in the middle of a field for no reason. The edge of the wood was very thick, with no obvious paths between the trees which weren’t blocked by thorny undergrowth. Whilst Maedbh sought out any magical auras, I touched one of the trees and spontaneously used Probe Nature’s Hidden Lore to get a feel for what was here. I received an image of a woodland even heavier and more vibrant than what was here, and there was the sound of music on the wind. It appeared to be a natural tree from an unnatural place.
Noticing that everyone else had wandered off to leave myself and Blane alone, we quickly hurried around the outside of the woods to find the others loitering at the end of a path which headed inside. Sid led the way in, and almost immediately the rain seemed to stop. Maybe it was the thick canopy that shielded us, maybe not.
There was the sound of music again, though it was imperfect, as if the bard was unsure of his notes. Though the wood appeared only a few hundred yards across from the outside, we seemed to travel much further than that along the path. Sid said that he had found tracks of not-quite-human footprints going this way, so we continued to follow them.
It is an idealised version of a wood, with flowers and trees and rays of sunlight all perfectly placed. There was a fey aura here, and it grew in intensity as we went further in. Eventually we came upon four scruffy looking tents arranged around a camp fire. Next to there was a cart, piled up with sacks and boxes. There was no sign of people here, but between a couple of trees there seemed to be a path that would take us deeper into faerie.
Sid stepped between two trees and vanished from sight, so we followed. In a clearing there was a gazebo which sheltered a comfortable couch on which reclined a dark haired and beautiful young woman. In front of her, on a chair, was a middle aged man playing a melody of love songs. He looked quite grey and fevered, and blood dripped from his fingers. He was obviously beguiled by the fey woman, and nothing could turn his gaze from her.
Checking behind, I could still see the camp through the two trees, so at least our way back was still clear, though there was a rustling in the underbrush.
The woman told the man to keep playing, and rose, saying that she needed to greet her guests. She turned to Maedbh, “Greeting sister, what brings you here?”
They both seemed to know each other, and she offered us food and drink with no dangers or implied favours. However, few of us were willing to trust her and we avoided it.
Maedbh introduced her as Bláithín, a name which meant little flower in Gaelic.
She told us that some ruffians appeared outside her grove, and she felt her grove shift. The ruffians turned into half-man and half-beasts, and they brought in the man from the outside. They dragged in both his cart and him all bound. At that point she had decided to take him for herself.
I questioned Maedbh about the status of the man, who did not seem at all well. She appeared completely uncaring about his state, as does Bláithín, both of them thinking that it was perfectly okay to enchant him like this. Bláithín seemed upset that I spoke to Maedbh in Latin, but that was her problem. I only understood her speech through my Thoughts Within Babble spell, and it did not grant me the ability to speak with her. What Gaelic I knew was poor, and only suitable for very basic conversation.
When Maedbh explains my unease to Bláithín she suggests that maybe if we dealt with the ruffians who now dwelt in her woods, she would let the man go. After all, he was almost all used up.
It was then that a hairy nude man with the head of a wolf walked out of the woods beyond the other side of the two trees. He seems confused and unable to see or smell us, but seemed that we were there somewhere. He had some feathers around his mouth, and seemed to be acting very much like an animal, rather than like a man.
Sid walked back through the pair of trees and the wolf-man noticed him. The rest of us walked out and Maedbh and myself both cast spells, hoping that he would be affected by Corpus and Mentem magic. He was affected by both, resulting in a floating, sleeping wolf man.
Sid tied him up and so I brought him gently down to the ground and started probing his mind with questions.
Who are you? A loyal son fallen on hard times.
How long have you been like this? Both a long time and a short time.
What caused you to change? He changed when the woods appeared around him.
We guessed that the woods had appeared in this place and swallowed up some bandits, who were changed into part wolves by the magic of the realm.
There was a movement in the trees nearby, and Allistor created a gaping pit in the general location, resulting in the sound of something falling in. Another wolf burst out of the trees in an attempt to surprise us, but stumbled, giving most of us an opportunity to notice him. Blane stepped protectively in front of me and Maedbh put the wolfman to sleep.
We now need to decide what to do with these.
Next session: 1225, Spring