1228, Autumn

Scotland in Autumn

We continue the Autumn season in our Ars Magica campaign. We are up at the far north of Scotland, near the village of Durness. Some of the people here have been sleeping badly, and there are rumours of a Spider infecting people’s dreams.

Pisciculus ex Criamon, Autumn 1228

We wake up in the morning to the smell of porridge. Most of us are well rested after our long sea journey, but Blane looks like he could have done with a much longer lay in.

Aodhan goes off to talk to the local priest, whilst the rest of us discuss what we want to go and do. We have some discussion about what happened here a long time ago – with the various wars between the Order and the ‘Spider’, known as Damhan-Allaidh. It is noted that our covenant original dates to this period, and that the standing stones inside the region are layed out a little bit like a spider.

As to what we need to do here, that is another question. I’d like to talk to people, but people tend to always treat me with suspicion. 

I ask one of the girls if there is a woman around to talk to about “woman’s issues”. She mentions that there is Nanna Bella, who is down the coast. She is a bit scared about talking to me, so I quickly let her go, and head out of the inn along the coast with Blane. We manage to obtain some more specific directions before we go too far.

We pass a rather pretty cave that opens out onto the sea. A waterfall drops down into it from a stream, and there is a Faerie aura here as well as colourful rock formations. I cast a spell to detect magic, running my hand across the walls trying to see if there is any vis here. I don’t locate any near the mouth of the cave, so head further in.

Towards the back of the cave, a charming young man offers to help me across a particularly rocky bit of ground to get to a nice looking crystal. I accept, and hop onto his back. He starts to give me a lift across the stream,  but then he turns around and starts heading out towards the sea. That’s fine though, since he’s actually quite cute, and I feel quite safe with him, if not slightly aroused as I wrap my legs and arms around him.

Blane spots us, and questions what is going on. This startles me, and I suddenly realise that something odd is happening. There is sand and seaweed in the man’s hair, and I don’t have any memory of where he came from, or why I thought it was a good idea to go with him.

I jump from the man’s back, but then wonder why I did that. He turns back to me, and bids I ride on his back again. He is cute, and I’m definitely feel a need to be with him again. But something is off, and as I dither Blanr draws his sword and stabs the creature in its back. Tue young man turns around, and all of a sudden I’m not sure whether he is a man or a horse. I’m not sure why Blane is hurting this man, and offer to look at his wound which still has a sword sticking out of it.

Blane seems to be struggling with removing his sword, as the man finally takes on the form of a horse and gallops out to sea, vanishing under the waves, taking the sword with it.

It suddenly becomes clear to me that things hadn’t been very clear at all. The feelings I felt are suddenly gone, and I feel somewhat befouled. The man was obviously a fey of some kind, probably a Each Uisge, a type of sea spirit that takes young women out to sea to drown and eat them. As well as controlling people’s minds, they also have a sticky flesh which holds you fast if you touch them. My Parma Magica must have protected me from that, even if it didn’t protect me from the mind magic.

Feeling rather embarrassed, I thank Blane for his help and offer to buy him a new sword, since his is now somewhere out to sea probably still stuck to the Each Uisge.

Having recovered my whits, I decide to take a look at the crystal, though I’m not sure whether it was part of my imagination or something real. I also make sure to take a shower in the waterfall, since Each Uisge don’t like fresh water. The crystals here are Terram vis, and I also collect 2 raw aquam vis from the water. I leave the Terram crystals where they are, in order not to damage them.

Eventually, we get to Nanna Bella’s cottage, where she is working in her herb garden. She welcomes us, but wants something in exchange. I agree to paying her whatever her information is worth. She brings out some bread and drink. I ask her whether she knows of what is disturbing people’s dreams and sleep.

There is an influence, a groping, a spreading feeling that she isn’t sure where it is coming from. The Morrisons are the most strongly affected, but they are not the only ones. There is a secret though, a darker one, if I am willing to pay the price.

That price is that she wants a season of ‘work’ from Blane in exchange. It’s obvious from the way she is looking at Blane that she has more than simple wood chopping in mind. Apparently I’m not the only one getting such feelings this morning. I glance at Blane to make sure he’s not too bothered by this, and I agree to the price.

She explains that there is magic that works through family lines, which may be affecting the Morrison clan. She suggests that I take a look at the stones up the coast. There are writings there, which change at dusk. The Morrisons have lived by the inscriptions for a long time. It might be related to the influence that is spreading amongst them.

She does not know if the influence has been more wide spread than this area, but she doesn’t think it has been. I tell her that giants fled south from it, which she didn’t know, so she puts that against the debt that she is owed.

She gets up and gives Blane a kiss on the mouth, telling him to come back to her once we have finished out business here.

We leave, and head up to the stone, and shortly afterwards the rest of our party arrive having had the same idea. There are stones on top of the hill, and on them are writings consisting of short lines crossing each other. It seems to be Ogham, but some is in Gaelic which Aodhan can read:

“Suffer not the mark, lest endless chaos befall you.”

Allistor looks over the cliff, and using his magic sees human remains at the bottom of the cliff. There are the bones of both children and adults, suggesting that people have been disposed of here.

We wait until dusk, until the words change.

“Suffer not the mark, lest endless stasis befall you.”

We wander back to the village, and most of us get a good night’s rest. Father Aodhan gets up early to head back to the stones with Malcolm, arriving just before dawn. At dawn, the words change back to how they were the day before.

I spend the day having words (directly into their minds) with some of the tired people, asking them initially “what do you remember from your dreams?” There is a feeling of scratching and claustrophobia, something worrying at the edges of their mind.

There is a feeling of loyalty also.

From someone who has been sleeping well, I get feelings of anger and betrayal, of some taboo being violated. They are one of the McKay clan.

It’s probably all the information we are going to get from the people here for now. Blane needs to go back to visit Nanna Bella, and we need to hope that Malcolm has learned enough from watching Blane on how to sail a boat back home.

Samuel Penn

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