1228, Summer – The Tall Man

In our previous session of Ars Magica, we had defeated some horrible thing that had been killing members of a village up along the Scottish coast. There had also been tales of a large man wandering these parts, so we decided to go and investigate that before heading home.

Pisciculus ex Criamon, 1228 Summer

Our plan was to track down the tall figure that had been seen by the miners in the village. There was possibly something at the far end of the Glen, where it opened out into the next Glen. The descriptions were that it was humanoid in form, but too large for a person – maybe eight or nine feet tall. One sighting reported that it was carrying off a sheep.

We leave our boat docked at Taagan, and next morning we head inland with the help of a local guide. By mid-morning we get to Lubmore at the western end of Loch a’Chroisg. There is no sign of any people here, just a big black body of water.

Looking for tracks, we don’t find any. Since we think it might be a Trow, I try to figure out where a Trow might want to settle down. The obvious places are caves or thick forest for them to sleep in. But there aren’t any caves around here, but there is a heavy forested area along the northern bank.

Loch a’Chroisg (MidJourney)

As we head in that direction, and Allistor notices large footprints. They are like human prints, but with claw marks. Following them into the trees, we find an area which has definite Trow sign. So what do we do? Talk to it, leave it alone or kill it? I want to talk to it.

I cast Veil of Invisibility on myself, with a duration of concentration. I creep forward, but manage to step on every branch and kick every stone as I do so. I reach the edge of the wood, and peer down a cleared path. As I head around a tree trunk I hear something ahead of me. There is a rasping noise. Something large is probably snoring.

Laying in the middle of the clearing is a curled up humanoid trow. It is somewhat smaller and skinnier than the Trow we saw before. It is clad in dirty scraps of material, and it looks like it’s built a nest for itself here. There is a wooden club laying next to it, and what looks like a set of bagpipes.

I drop the invisibility, and try to cast Pose the Silent Question. I don’t quite botch the spell, but it has no effect. The Trow doesn’t wake at least. I try again, and do better, but it’s magic resistance is too strong for me. There’s no sign that it has been hurting people, so I don’t want to hurt it. I also don’t quite trust it though if I wake it up whilst it’s sleeping. I creep back outside.

We decide that it’s probably best to leave it alone, though Aodhan does discuss trying to convert it.

“Bennog hungry”

A head pokes out of the trees. “Bennog hungry. Not hurt friendly people”

Our talking had disturbed the Trow, and now it wanted to make friends.

Aodhan puts some food down on the ground, and it shuffles out of the trees. He is very thin and scrawny, and reaches out to pick up the food. He grabs it, hops backward and stuffs his mouth with the food. He seems scared as well as hungry.

“Bennog thankyou”.

“Bennog not like people. They are noisy and hit Bennog”.

I give him some more food, which he eats. He points to the swords we have in our party, and he says he wants sharp thing for cutting toe nails. Instead Aodhan helps to cut his nails.

The grogs and Allistair go fishing down to the shore of the Loch. They manage to catch a reasonable amount of fish, with the help of Intellego Aquam from Allistair. By the time they get back to Bennog, his toes have been improved.

It turns out that Bennog likes cooked fish. It is difficult to get him to wash though. And he desperately needs a wash. After a while of eating lots of rich food, he goes off to do some private ‘business’ in the woods. When it comes back, we talk about offering him a job back at our covenant – guard duty in exchange for food.

Allistor lifts a rock with magic, and Bennog demonstrates that he can do the same as well. He raises up a rock and smashes it against Allistor’s, in a game he calls “conka”. 

After some chatting, Bennog is happy to come with us, which raises the question of how to get him back without everyone we meet being scared of him. He doesn’t look natural, and is also very large. With his permission, I am able to shrink him down to normal human size, and we finally get him washed and cleaned. I have to demonstrate how to wash properly down in the Loch, which seems to embarrass the grogs. Once he is clean and dry, I lend him my cloak since I don’t need it.

He goes back to get his pipes, which are now too big for him to play, which is probably fortunate. With everything sorted, we head back down the valley to our boat. Bennog, who will now fit in the boat, is eventually willing to board it, and we head back down south. He isn’t happy about the whole floating on water thing, and gets seasick. 

When we get back to land, he is most happy. Alexandra has a private chat with Bennog, and is happy with letting him stay. We allow him to stay in the lower caves, and it turns out he is actually quite good at playing music. He gets on with Graysen, and the two often spend time playing music.

Bennog tells us that he was bullied when he was young for being small, and then ran away from home. He has tried to stay away from people, and did take some sheep at one point because there weren’t any people around. He is willing to stay in the caves beneath the covenant, and starts figuring out how to live amongst humans without surprising them.

Reading up on things, it seems that the shapeless thing that we encountered was probably a brollachan – a shapeless darkness that craves bodily warmth.

We still have most of the season left to finish, so I decide that knowing a spell to change a human form would be useful. I remember a spell that was in my master’s library – Disguise of the New Visage – that changed a person’s face. I come up with my own version of the spell, Disguise of the Whole Body, which changes the appearance of a person completely.

We got 7 XP for the adventure, which Pisciculus put on raising her Parma Magica to 4, plus a little extra on Magic Theory. She is able to invent her spell in a single season. Strangely, changing an entire body is easier than changing just a face, so the spell is easier than Disguise of the New Visage.

Disguise of the Whole Body, MuCo 10
Range: Touch, Duration: Sun, Target: Individual

The whole body of the target is changed to look like a different person. A particular person can’t be mimicked with the spell, but a person’s complete appearance can be changed to resemble a different looking person with a similar build and size to the original. In Pisciculus ex Criamon’s version of the spell, the new form will have small spiralling tattoos around the person’s belly button.

Samuel Penn

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