1229, Spring 3

Continuing our Ars Magica saga, the magi Pisciculus and Maedbh, as well as our bardic companion Greysen and our grog Knox are at Jedburgh castle to try and rescue the priest Tadc Mac an Filidh from the clutches of Lord Goulis, who is apparently up to no good.

Pisciculus ex Criamon, Spring 1229

We are at Jedburgh Castle, and have just met up after I had got lost. We find a spot on the road to discuss our plan for the evening. Knox finds us a comfortable spot which gives us a decent view of the road and castle without being too obvious ourselves.

Night falls, and we can clearly see a single torch carrying single guard wandering along the parapet. He is taking his time on his patrol, which should give us plenty of time to get over the walls. However, it is felt that it isn’t quite enough time, so we plan on putting him to sleep.

We sneak up to the wall, all of us with dark vision. I use Lift the Dangling Puppet on everyone to get us to the base of the palisade so we can pull ourselves up the wall. The guard passes by without noticing us. Maedbh casts Call to Slumber on the guard, and he falls himself. Greysen clambers up and grabs his torch. Greysen then continues the guard’s patrol.

The rest of us get over the wall and into the bailey. We sneak up to the small building where we think the priest is being held. There is no sign of any obvious guard here, but he may be out of sight by the front door.

Maedbh heads into the store room, whilst myself and Knox wait outside. There is the sound of spell casting from inside, and we hear the guard thumps the front door and tells the “daft old bugger to shut up”. Knox gets ready to threaten the guard. 

I head inside to see how Maedbh is doing. She has made a whole in the back wall, providing us access to the priest who is still sleeping. So I cast Lift the Dangling Puppet on him silently, changing the range to Touch since it is a Voice range spell. I gently levitate him up, and push him out of the hut and towards the palisade. With some effort, I manage to climb the ladder and get the priest up to the top of the wall. I recast the spell again to get all of us again, and we head back over the wall. I almost drop the priest, but manage to catch myself just in time.

We meet up outside without any difficulties, and start heading away from the village. After a bit, there is the sound of the baying of hounds in the distance back from the direction of the village. We start moving a bit faster, though Maedbh quickly gets tired. Again, Lift the Dangling Puppet comes to the rescue, and we drag Maedbh behind us.

After about an hour, the howling fades into the distance.

We settle down before dawn, and I make sure that I’m not around when the priest awakens. He asks Maedbh (who is still looking like a man) who he is and what he was doing here. He seems very keen on praying and thanking God for his deliverance. He also complains that we risked ourselves to rescue someone as unimportant as him.

He tells us about Lord Goulis, who is apparently a man so evil that he steals women and children off the streets to do unspeakable things with them. Tadc Mac an Filidh had been speaking out against him. Lord Goulis had banned praying on holy days.

Tadc Mac an Filidh seems very keen on preaching and praying, maybe a bit too keen. He doesn’t seem to have any solid information about Lord Goulis, just the rumours he had already picked up at the inn. Both Maedbh and Greysen seem to get annoyed with him pretty quickly, and it is decided to take him to the English border and leave him there.

I did find him uncomfortable to be around, and not just because of his personality. He seemed to radiate an honest holiness, which didn’t sit well with my own magical aura. Maedbh was herself affected even worse, and seemed to be developing a bit of a rash. Since she straddles the line between magic and faerie, this is maybe not too surprising.

So we head down to the border with England and allow the priest to go his own way to preach as much as he wants to the English towns and villagers. We then head back north towards home.

About three weeks after we left, we return to the covenant, and myself and Maedbh discuss whether we want to share any spells. I do think it might be useful to invent a Perdo Herbam spell though, for getting through walls.

Everyone gets 8 XP for the two adventures, and the rest of the season will be spent in the covenant. Pisciculus spends some of that in mastering Lift the Dangling Puppet, to reduce the chance of botches, and to reduce the penalty for casting it quietly. The ‘problem’ though is that 5th edition Ars Magica has greatly reduced the usefulness of ranged magical spells. Everything has either ‘Voice’ (as far as your voice carries) or ‘Eye’ (catching someone’s eye). If you cast a Voice spell silently, then it has a range of zero, making subtle magic a lot harder. Eye spells are also hard to be subtle about, since the other person has to be looking right at you. Sight spells are possible, but much harder.

Under 4th edition, as well as Eye and Sight you had Reach (2 paces), Near (15 paces) and Far (100 paces). The changes makes it harder for magi to be subtle, which reduces their flexibility. Which is probably what was intended, since it makes mundane characters more useful.

Samuel Penn

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