1225, Spring – Grogs

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After almost a month’s break, we got to return to our Ars Magica Druids’ Dale saga. We are still in the spring of 1225, at the village of Ardgowan where the bodies of two lovers had been discovered. They had aged rapidly in the few weeks since their deaths, in a similar way to others we had come across.

Pisciculus ex Criamon, 1225, Spring

At the request of Maedbh, we dug the two bodies up again and our grog Blane is sent down into the pit to pull the corpses up to her so that she can try to gather any vis from them. As it turned out, neither of the bodies have any vis, so we once again buried them. There didn’t seem to be much else that we could do here, so we headed east towards Loch Thorn.

According to the rumours, a strange mist had been reported by a group of travellers which had filled them with terror. They had fled from where they were camped on the shores of the Loch, but only two of them had made it made alive.

One of the disadvantages of being online is that we have really easy access to some tools, such as Google Maps which gives us a great birds eye view of the area in which we are. This also means that we get distractions as navigating via a local Sainsbury’s or a pubs that won’t exist for many hundreds of years. The terrain is also probably different – Loch Thorn looks like a modern reservoir that probably didn’t exist before the 19th century. I think the advantages of using modern maps outweighs the disadvantages though.

Euan takes on his raven form, and flies ahead to guide us to our destination. Following a vague path along a marshy stream we eventually got up to the shores of the Loch where the burned out remains of a cart could be found. It wasn’t the most sheltered of spots for a group of travellers to have settled down, but it was at least dry.

Which did raise the question of why they had stayed here overnight – the nearest village was only a few miles away, and it would have been far more preferable to go there than stay here, especially during Winter. There were some digging tools left behind by the cart, but not much else.

Nearby were four burial mounds – not of the travellers, but of people much older. Taking a look at them, Maebdh reckoned that they were the resting place of Slaugh – spirits composed of the souls of the dead. They are known to fly through the air, and pursue those that annoy them.

Allistor founds some recent looking cracks in one of the mounds. Too narrow to get a person through, but more than wide enough for the spirits of the restless head to leave by. We came to the conclusion that the travellers had come here for a specific reason – to raid the tombs of the dead and steal from them. No wonder that they had been driven off.

Maedbh says words to give them rest, and Allistor sealed up the cairns. He said that the stone sealed itself easily, almost as if it was wanting to do so.

From here, we headed towards the nearby village and Maedbh asked around a bit. Apparently even the survivors from the event hadn’t down well. One of them had gone insane and smashed his own head in, the other had ‘run away’. We think the villagers had possibly kicked him out.

The travellers had come up from nearby Prestwick, though nobody was entirely sure why. One of the travellers had mentioned that they shouldn’t have taken the coin – implying that they had been paid by someone to come up here. But who would do that? And why?

We stayed the night at the inn, then got a boat to head down the coast towards Prestwick. The question was how we would start asking around. It was decided to get our two grogs to do it.

First though we needed some rooms at the local inn, so once again Maedbh got the job of talking to the creepy innkeeper, who seemed to fawn over her with a bit too much enthusiasm. We got some rooms, which the innkeeper then regretted when the rest of us turned up. He mentioned to Maedbh that there would be a bard playing in the courtyard that evening, and though she was invited, the rest of us weren’t.

It was now up to Malcolm and Blane, who actually managed to make themselves presentable – both in terms of clothing and manners. They set about going around the village, buying people beer and being generally sociable. From the village folk they found out that a group of men had set out north some weeks ago, but they hadn’t been heard from for a while. They had come up from an inn a little further to the south, so our two grogs decided to make use of their expense account and went to investigate.

At the inn of the Pick and Shovel, Malcolm and Blane discovered that the four had set off with a cart and tools to dig things up. Another outsider had hired them to do the work. Nobody knew who they were, except that they were creepy and that the animals hadn’t liked them.

Back at Prestwick, Maedbh listened to the local bard, Simon the Magnificent, who was quite decent. Some of the songs he sang were very similar to those that our own bard Greysen had made, but they cast Greysen in a somewhat more comical light.

After Malcolm and Blane returned, they filled us in on what they had heard, and we decided to do some more digging the next day.

The Pick and Shovel was not as good an inn, basically just a converted house with communal bedding and benches for drinking.  The inn keeper there was happy to talk to Maedbh, who spoke about a creepy woman who had paid the four men to do a job for her. She had an English accent, and was accompanied by a man called Rodrick. Her own name was Dierdre.

I recalled a couple of Dierdre’s from our recent Tribunal. One was a Scottish maga from Arbroath Covenant in the highlands. The other was Dierdre ex Tytalus from Non Metuens covenant to the south. The latter seemed to be the more likely fit.

Non Metuens is a covenant apparently founded on the concept that Horsingas has grown weak since the death of Edgar Ætheling. Founded by a Tytalus and with a heavy contingent of militaristic ex Misc, they split their time between harassing the English and Normans and showing Horsingas how it’s done. Since they have the same stated goals, however, they often find themselves on the same side at Tribunals.

Having found out what we needed, we headed back north to our covenant. Our current plan is to leave Dierdre ex Tytalus alone, at least until we get a better idea of what she is up to. As for our two grogs, we congratulate them on a job well done. Which just means they are more likely to get more responsibility in the future.

For the rest of Spring, we return to our studies in the comfort of our covenant.

This was a session where we managed to make quite heavy use of our Grogs. They both turned out to have a decent Carouse skill, plus their Communication/Presence characteristics were reasonable. Unusually we’ve had several sessions dealing with a single season, but we are back to study and research for at least a little bit.

Samuel Penn

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