1229, Autumn

Scotland in Autumn

After a month’s break, we are back to our Ars Magica campaign. We have just sent out letters to nearby covenants to see if any of them have books that they are willing to trade. Whilst waiting for replies to that, we decide to follow up on one of the rumours we had heard about at the end of last year.

Pisciculus ex Criamon, Autumn 1229

There are rumours of flying sheep near Oban, which some of the magi, myself included, find interesting enough to want to investigate. The magus Allistor ex Miscellaneous and Father Aodhan join me, along with Blane and Malcolm.

Walking, it takes us about three days to get to Oban. We are somewhat muddy and tired, and could have cut off a few hours if we’d taken boats, but in the end it was just simpler to walk.

Oban is a bustling little town of about a thousand or so people, with a relatively impressive castle. There are a number of small settlements around it as well, but we just head to the local inn. Malcolm manages to get us some clean rooms with fresh straw. He arranges for the food to be brought up to us, rather than risking putting us magi in the main common area.

The inn keeper hasn’t heard of any flying sheep, but reckons some of the people who will be here tonight might have some stories to tell. Malcolm says that he and Blane are simply body guarding the Father, who had heard rumours of the sheet. In the meantime, Father Aohdan wanders off to look at the local church, and ends up having dinner with the local priest.

The priest confirms the stories about flying sheep, saying that they have been seen further inland. He hasn’t seen them himself, and puts the stories down to too much drink. but there has definitely been talk about them. He provides some suggestions about where the claimed sightings are most likely to have been.  There is a ferocious sheep dog in that region though, that caused harm to some of those that went looking for the flying sheep.

Back at the inn, Blane and Malcolm are drinking, and Blane is becoming the worse for wear. Blane manages to find a young woman to question, without upsetting their husband or brothers, who says that she saw some sheep in the sky ear the Serpent Mound near the local Loch.

She said there was a sheep the colour of the sun. Another person shouts that they saw a flying sheepdog. Some of them may be making the story up, but others seem to be relatively honest. This doesn’t mean that they are accurate.

For myself, I use invisibility and wander around the town at night, simply taking a look at the place and avoiding people whenever I come across them.

The following morning we catch up with Aodhan and Blane, to get details on what they found the night before. After breakfast, we head down to the Serpent Mound near to the Loch. It is a warm and sunny day, more importantly it is dry. 

There is a small cluster of cottages near the loch, and we are invited in for some refreshments by one of the crofters. 

The crofter mentions that people do come up here looking for flying sheep. One of the shepherds gets annoyed when people come up to rustle his sheep, and has a large sheep dog named Titan that can get aggressive with people. He can be found up the hill and round to the east. There is a shiny flying sheep there as well.

We head off in the direction indicated, and I notice that we are in a magical aura. After a bit, we spot a small cottage and some outbuildings in the distance. The two grogs claim that they can see something glinting in the sky, but the rest of us can’t make out anything.

As we approach the cottage, a man comes out of one of the huts. Accompanying him is a fierce looking dog that is as tall as the man’s shoulder. He greets us politely, and enquires as to the nature of our visit.

Aodhan says that we have heard about the wonders of his dog and his sheep. The man agrees that both his sheep and his dog are remarkable and would easily win any competitions. The dog itself seems quite pleased with the description. There is a thump from the barn.

Aodhan asks about flying sheep, and the man denies any such thing. He goes to get some tables and lays out food and drink on the table. As he comes out, I cast Posing the Silent Question on him, and ask Where is the flying sheep? The answer is “in the barn”.

The dog immediately gets aggressive, starts growling and concentrating entirely on me. The man is surprised by the dog’s actions, and Aodhan apologies for any offence we may have caused. Blane places himself between me and the dog, and it backs down.

The problem with theatre of the mind rather than using maps and tokens is that it’s possible for different people to have very different ideas of where characters are. Normally it doesn’t matter, but in this situation my understanding was that we were down a path and that the man and his dog were up at his house. We were doing the ‘strangers keeping a respectful distance’ option of talking loudly at each other.

So when the dog started getting aggressive, I had the two grogs move in front of the party, ready to defend us if the dog charged.

From the GM’s perspective, we were in hand shaking range so the dog was pretty much within bite range. This led to some confusing descriptions of what was happening since two of us had very different views. By the time the confusion had been explained, the threat seemed to be resolving itself, so it didn’t really matter.

Except, if I had realised that the dog was right on top of us and starting to get aggressive, I would have probably had the grogs strike at the dog before it could attack, rather than waiting to see if it charged.

We sit down to eat, and I keep as far from the nasty dog as possible. There are more thumps from the barn. The man says that it is probably just the building settling. Allistor demands to know why he is lying, and he eventually admits that the flying ram is in the barn.

He doesn’t really want to talk about it, and doesn’t think there’s any practical reason to want to learn about things for the sake of learning. He mentions that there is not just a Ram, but also a lot of winged lambs. Eventually, he goes to open the door to allow a Ram with small wings and golden fleece flies out of the barn and into the air.

He says that his dog found the sheep and brought him here. Aodhan asks him whether he wants to sell any of the flying lambs, and the man seems open to the idea. He goes off with his dog to gather up the sheep. Some time later, the man comes back alone, and says that the sheep should be here soon.

Soonish, a flock of sheep, herded by the dog, come flying down out of the sky, landing on the ground not far from us. There is one big golden ram, and half a dozen smaller sheep, all of which have wings. Their wool is very tough, and feels slightly metallic.

Aohdan and the man bargain, and settle on a price for a couple of sheep and some lamb’s wool. We all seem to come away happy with the deal. What we will do with two flying sheep though I don’t know. Maybe their wool can be woven into a flying carpet?

The party makes it way back to the covenant with the sheep without further issue, and we all get a potential 4 adventuring XP.

However, I have a quest that Pisciculus wants to do, which will possibly take her further out to one of the islands, so she may not be returning back to the covenant just yet. This is something we need to handle out of session, so exactly what Pisciculus does at this point may need to be revisited.

Samuel Penn

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