Date - 12/14/97 (97th Session)
Story Concept - Kevin Hassall
...a holy relic is stolen, and the covenfolk attempt to recover it for their chaplain
Last Christmas a new chaplain was appointed to Rabenstein by the canons of Seckau Abbey to attend to the spiritual needs of the covenfolk. Turning their attention to the construction of a fish-pond to foster peace and serenity among the folk, Eusebius the Chaplain quickly earned the trust and respect of many of Rabenstein's magi and socii for his austere devotion to God and his gentle nature. But in the spring of 1212 this peaceful atmosphere was suddenly upset when Eusebius discovered his strongbox stolen. Apparently someone had taken his iron trunk from the chapel, and though Eusebius cared little for the missing coins it harbored, he was heartsick to lose a family heirloom and holy relic that it contained, the hand of St. Marcellus. After investigation the magi determined that one of the local stone-masons, an ugly lad named Gerwas had probably taken the box. Journeying to the lad's home in Bruck to attempt to find him and retrieve the relic, they found no sign of the thief, but learned of his former service to Inge the Midwife. So they traveled to Inge's hut (see the previous tale The Love Potion), and spoke with the old hag about Gerwas. Inge spoke poorly of Gerwas, referring to him as a 'toad' for his negligence (apparently Gerwas had forgotten to leave out some sausage and milk for the 'good women'), and convinced them that she had nothing to do with his thievery.
Turning to magic to assist them, the group utilized an iron key to the stolen strongbox as an arcane connection, and Nicolaus of Arteman discerned that the box was east of Bruck. Blindly setting out to the east in the valley of the Mürz they marched with haste and hoped to catch Gerwas before he escaped with poor Eusebius' box. The next day the weary group trudged into the small village of Kindberg, and in a rustic moss-covered tavern they miraculously found their thief crying over a beer, having been beaten and robbed of his prize by a band of Brabantine mercenaries there in the hostel. Before they could speak with Gerwas, the five Brabantine mercenaries gave the group trouble, and a violent fight erupted in which the tavern was nearly set ablaze. Capturing one of the mercenaries, they learned that the hand lay in the dog's hole (in a heap of fecal waste), and dispatched their squire to recover the relic.
Returning to Rabenstein the magi learned more of the matter from their prisoners Gerwas and Jacques the Brabantine: Apparently Gerwas had been visited the past three nights in Fröhnleiten by a beautiful woman named Marianna who claimed that a greedy priest had stolen her family's strongbox. She had promised to marry him if he would prove his devotion to her by retrieving it from Rabenstein where it lay. Further, Marianna had promised to meet him in Kindberg's tavern, but Gerwas only found the brutal mercenaries and felt miserable about the whole affair. The magi immediately believed Gerwas' tale, and speculated that this strange woman named Marianna was none other than the demon Hlavka which tormented Rabenstein (see the previous tale The Harlot of Fröhnleiten). Perhaps she had engineered its theft from Rabenstein because it offended her or diminished her strength there. Jacques the Brabantine insisted that he was merely doing his job, having been hired by a noble named Sir Henry to take the box from Gerwas and throw the hand in the river (they had been too lazy to do this, merely tossing it in the dog's hole, and Jacques had no idea the hand was a holy relic). Several magi attempted to learn more of the man Sir Henry who had hired the Brabantines, and began to fear that perhaps more devilry was afoot and that he was none other than the former Chancellor of Landskron, a man dead for eight years (see the previous tale A Friend in Need). Both Gerwas and Jacques pleaded for their release, but the magi delivered the criminals to the Bishop for judgment. Gerwas was punished by severing his hand for the theft, and Jacques was lashed and made to live as a beggar for one month.
*Theological Anecdote - Marcellus the Centurion was a Roman soldier who became a Christian and thenceforth refused to fight. He was executed for insubordination and was thereafter revered as a martyr, a man that embraced pacifism.
Cast: Erik and Lassitor (Chris Blake), Nicolaus and Matthias (Mike Daumen), Cynric, Sir Waldemar, and Brother Meshach (Patrick Murphy), Squire Andreas (Jason Buss)
Date - 12/21/97 (98th Session)
Story Concept - Blythe Newton & Jason Buss
...the tale of a doppelgänger leads to the discovery of a potential new vis source
One peaceful spring afternoon at the Covenant, a farmer presented himself at the gates and demanded to speak with the socius Matthias. Making his way to the gate, the dependable Matthias saw that it was his Uncle-in-law Baldwin, who inquired if Matthias had seen his son Harlan. Explaining that Harlan had gone missing and the spring planting was at hand, the farmer begged Matthias to go looking for the boy. Although the Covenant could spare no one to aid in his quest, the dutiful Matthias was granted some free time and set off alone to the north to find him. He hiked up the mountain trail from Bruck and Thörl to the distant mountain village of Wiechselboden, where he hoped to find Harlan in the arms of his beloved, Arla (a girl he had met at the market in Leoben). In Wiechselboden Matthias learned how the lad Harlan had set off to Salzburg to join the church over a month ago, but that several villagers had spotted him on the road since. Arla was angry with Harlan, for just last week he had refused to touch her and spurned her love (quite unlike the boy). Uncertain what to do, Matthias set back for home to comfort his uncle but was stunned to discover back in Thörl that Harlan had been imprisoned for committing a murder! This was quite unlike the normally peaceful Harlan, and when the authorities wouldn't let Matthias see the lad he rushed back to Rabenstein to beg the magi for help. Alas few magi were interested in linking their name to that of a murderer (especially after the rumors of their necromancy in the previous tale, The Necromantic Apprentice), so the few magi that journeyed with Matthias to see his accused cousin did so to keep an eye on their socius. Harlan proved to be mad, confessing to the crime (murdering a merchant), then insisting upon his innocence. Alas he was ordered to be hung, and in a few days villagers from the surrounding valley all congregated to watch the execution. Yet at the moment of death, as the town heard Harlan's neck give a gruesome 'snap', his body vanished in broad daylight, convincing the folk that the devil had taken him.
The strange matter of Harlan's death was often gossiped afterwards, but gradually the affair slipped into the past. Until one day that summer Harlan returned to Fröhnleiten alive and well! The magi learned that Harlan had been this entire time in distant Salzburg, but that his love for Arla had been too strong so he quit the church to ask her hand in marriage. Fortunately he had made his way directly to his home in Fröhnleiten, so discerning the truth of his tale the magi helped the family arrange for his escape lest he be arrested once again. At this point the folk of Rabenstein were convinced that whoever or whatever it was that killed the merchant and vanished within the noose was not Harlan, so over the course of several weeks they made inquiries about the tale. Julian suggested an analogous tale that he had learned during his apprenticeship - the tale of a doppelgänger, and when similar stories surfaced about a haunted road in the mountains, an expedition was mounted to search for the spirits that might be responsible.
Wandering the small mountain roads north of Bruck, the magi took shelter at the Monastery of Mariazell, and from Brother Bohemund they discerned that a nearby crossroads was revered as an old pagan site by locals, and that the monks had erected a roadside shrine to ease their fears. Although they were berated by Bohemund for their continued interest in the mysterious legends of the crossroads, the magi discovered 5 pawns of Imáginem vis within the topsoil of the muddy paths of the crossroads and collected it before returning home (no signs of spirits were detected). Later, investigating the tales as described earlier, the magus Julian learned from an old woman in Thörl that sometimes from the road would come a doppelgänger, always the exact opposite of the man who had passed the fork. She warned Julian that a traveler should always walk backwards through the crossroads to avoid such a fate, and other villagers knew of similar charms to employ when passing through the crossroads (but not the reason for them). Although the precise nature of the crossroad's magic remained unclear, Julian deduced that such doppelgängers always appeared in the spring, always traveled along the fork not taken by the real person, and could cause great mischief. The magi determined to investigate the road again in the future and attempt to extract vis from the crossroads again, though the prospect of creating doppelgängers of themselves in the process was daunting.
Cast: Matthias (Chris Blake and Ann Harper), Lassitor (Chris Blake), Nicolaus and Polu (Mike Daumen), Bertoul and Julian (Kendall Miles)
Date - 1/4/98 (99th Session)
Story Concept - Kevin Hassall
...a slumbering faerie awakes and demands the tribute he is due
For the Mayday festival of 1212, the covenfolk descended upon the nearest village of Fröhnleiten bearing food and drink. As in past years, the villagers crowned a May Queen (tossing her in the river), danced about the maypole, cavorted about dressed as animals (including ravens and the Roman rider from the previous tale Florian's Knob), and feasted upon pork, beans, and vegetables. The new village priest, Father Galen, lamented the villager's behavior to the Covenant's own Brother Meshach, disappointed that they acted as disorderly children during his sermons and chastising some for their lewd dances.
Several weeks later, near midsummer, an eclipse occurred. According to their custom, the villagers all began to smash pots and pans and shout at the top of their lungs, making as much noise as possible to prevent the Devil from stealing the sun. Matthias and Polu, who were in the village on an errand at the time of the eclipse, even joined in the loud ritual. But in the deep shadow of the eclipse a remarkable creature strode into Fröhnleiten. Coming from the Barrenshützklamm Falls upstream, the small stooped man with wrinkled skin was obviously a faerie, with a beard of dripping ice and a mighty golden buckle in the shape of a fish biting its own tail. As the mortified villagers huddled in their houses, the faerie warned them that they had neglected him for too long, and that he was none other than Mochémok, King of the River. He demanded that next mayday the villagers give him a pretty young girl for a bride, which he would keep forever, and that if they refused him he would bring a flood to sweep away their houses, covet the fish for himself and snap the men's poles and tear their nets, and even claim their children when they slipped into the river. Then Mochémok trudged back to the falls and disappeared within its lower pool. While the village priest Galen disputed that this creature was anything other than an illusion brought upon by the confusion of the eclipse, so many folk had witnessed Mochémok and heard his demands that Galen was forced to concede the creature was a demon.
When this tale was brought back to Rabenstein by Polu and Matthias, the magi took an interest in the matter. Heading down to Fröhnleiten they listened to the frantic villagers, and were led by the elder's niece Victoria to the eldest woman in the village, who remembered Mochémok from her youth. This old woman named Gotelind was over 80 years old, and while difficult to talk to, she made it clear she remembered Mochémok, and that in the days of her childhood the May Queen used to spend the entire summer with the king. Further his may bride was always returned unharmed at summer's end with a gift (a fish whose scales turned to silver for example). Gotelind's very sister had once been the May Bride, and Gotelind showed the folk her gift, a silver crown (although it only appeared as a moldy old bit of twisted oak-wood, the magi perceived that it was magical, possessing 1 pawn of Vim vis). Gotelind told them that the priest back then had made them stop carrying the Maybride to the pool below the falls, and rang the church bells to drive away the faerie. Beseeching Victoria the magi offered to help the villagers, who were already bickering about whose daughter should be given to the beast next year. Taking the oak-crown, the magi hiked to the falls and set camp petitioning the gnome to appear and bargain with them. When the faerie did not respond, they attempted to use their magic to find him, but only Lassitor was successful and forged an entrance into the regio hidden within the falls (the oak-crown improved his chances). The experience proved overwhelming however, and Lassitor entered a Twilight. When he returned to his senses he was within the star-lit cavern of the River King, who had spared his life thinking he served as a messenger from the Morrigan (see the previous tale The Morrigan, but also bear in mind that Rabenstein is known as the place of ravens and has a long association with spirits). Bargaining with Mochémok, Lassitor arranged for the faerie to keep his bride for only the summer, but agreed that for every Mayday in the future he would once again be given a bride from the village as was the old tradition (Lassitor also offered a pitcher of milk each year). Exiting the cavern and returning to the mundane world, Lassitor relieved the magi with his successful return, for he had been absent 2 days, but angered them with his new bargain and concessions to the faerie. After a brief discussion, the magi decided to delay a decision until the next Mayday approached.
*Saga Anecdote - A major subplot of this story was Fröhnleiten's dim-witted but greedy farmer Landgraf and his daughter Guinefort, who possessed a strange gift of divination. Bargaining with the farmer (who incessantly referred to Cynric Ex Miscellanea as the cook), the magi were startled to discover the nature of her visions and her sincerity. Guinefort saw demons in the shape of cats upon the back of Father Galen, and much to Cynric's chagrin she saw two similar demonic beasts without arms upon his shoulders. Within Julian's hair and clothes she saw a horrifying slick black snake with a red tongue, and she claimed that young Polu came to the village naked, with a face upon his ass (the sign of a demon). Fearful that Guinefort perceived terrible sins that burdened them (see the previous tale The Siege of Oravsky Podzamok for the player's speculation about what the visions might refer to), Cynric went to confession. He was ordered to fast for one year without bathing, to lay down his arms, flagellate himself with a leather strap 7 times each Sunday, and pray for the souls of two women he let die.
Cast: Cynric (Patrick Murphy), Lassitor and Matthias (Chris Blake), Polu and Nicolaus (Mike Daumen), Tatyana (Blythe Newton), Wolfgang (Ann Harper)
Date - 1/11/98 (100th Session)
...an expedition to the castle of Samo reveals dark secrets and twisting fortunes within Oravsky Podzamók
In several previous tales over the past 6 years the magi of Rabenstein had dealings with a renounced Hermetic Magus of the legendary house of physicians named Samo (please see King Samo, Master of Lepers and The Siege of Oravsky Podzamok). His castle resides in nearby Moravia. While they believed Samo was both noble and insane, they respected his skill as a doctor and had sought his help in the past, continuing to turn a deaf ear to the Quaesitori. But during the Journey to the Greek islands two years ago, the magi had met Samo's pater and been charged with delivering him a letter. Having put off the task to attend to more important Covenant business, the magus Julian decided to use the summer to complete the delivery of Samo's letter himself, and to check upon Samo's progress.
Since the magi feared the taint of demons at Samo's castle (the place they first encountered the fiend Hlavka who has plagued them in many stories), they decided not to send any socii who had been there in the past and to keep their visit very short. Arriving at his castle (Oravsky Podzamók) in the hot dry summer, they were surprised to discover that Samo had been murdered by a leper just last winter - stabbed in the heart. Uncertain what to do with the letter now, they spoke at length with Samo's former servant and knight Hospitaler Sir Chaliand, who lingered at the castle to serve its new lord Ambrose, but whose temperament had grown much worse since Samo's death. The castle seemed much more peaceful since their last visit, aside from a host of Czech soldiers in stocks, as the horde of lepers and sickly peasants had been diminished. But an uncomfortable ambience permeated the place even still. Swarming flies pestered the folk in the hot stench of the summer, and the heretical Bogomiles seemed to maintain their grasp over the castle, conversing theology with brother Meshach. Julian spoke with the Bogomile leader Vincente, and agreed to meet the new leader Ambrose. That night at dinner, the magi were stunned to see that Ambrose was none other than the spirited Tempestus of House Flambeau, a magus from Lacrimare Saxum Covenant. Healed from his former crippling afflictions by Samo, Tempestus seemed pleased with the arrival of fellow Hermetic magi and, ever the glutton, he feasted with them. Tempestus explained his departure from Lacrimare Saxum and announced his intention to found a new Covenant here at Oravsky Podzamók, called Novus Promitto ("new promise"). As he grew drunk with wine it became clear that he hoped to populate the site with fellow Flambeau from his old home in Iberia. However, his plans seemed ill-conceived, as he seemed to know little of the the surrounding region or Hermetic magi. The dialogue at times became spirited, and Nicolaus defeated Tempestus in a battle of Certámen over the honor of their Houses when Tempestus claimed to have slipped on some spilled wine. Having discovered with Mentem spells during dinner that Samo's death had in fact been faked (as Brother Meshach had guessed), the magi demanded that Tempestus take them to see Samo at once.
Samo's laboratory lay in the bowels of the castle, above the granary in the old secret room where they had once spied Hlavka during their second visit here. The smoldering peat-heated lab was filled with death, as Nicolaus spied a dead body under blankets, puss being distilled from the severed forearm of a leper, and great glass vials filled with blood and other bodily fluids. Learning that Samo had faked his death so that he might retire to the laboratory and in so doing cease the distractions of the hordes of lepers clamoring to be healed and the petty nobles warring with him, they talked at length with Samo about his intentions. Samo was particularly vocal about the role of magic in the world and the Bogomile philosophies. He expressed an interest in Rabenstein's Bonisagus magus, and revealed that he hoped to rid the world of disease with his research. Julian delivered the letter from his pater Laertes to Samo, and the magi of Rabenstein vowed not to interfere with his work (though Julian was convinced of his madness).
The expedition's task now complete, they were ready to depart this dreadful castle and be done with Samo and Tempestus until brother Meshach brought most grave news. During their meeting with Samo, he had heard the plaintive wails of a prisoner, and ventured to discover that Samo had imprisoned a legate from the Bishop of Prague here in the castle. Sneaking to his cell late at night, the magi learned from the prisoner named Gamalbert that he had been sent here to investigate charges of heresy. Tempestus had forced him to write a letter in his own hand back to the Bishop claiming that the castle was holy and good, and within this cell he had remained, starving, gaunt, and mistreated. This prompted a long and hostile debate among the troupe: Julian thought Samo mad and vowed to save the legate and bring the news to Prague (after all Rabenstein's liege was the Church). Brother Meshach also vowed to free the prisoner, even if it meant endangering their lives. Nicolaus of Arteman however, always suspicious of the Church, claimed that Samo's goals were worthy, and that if this legate must be sacrificed for the greater good of mankind then so be it. The argument created a stir within the castle, and when it attracted a skulking eavesdropper, many of the group moved quickly to break out the legate (which Julian accomplished with a quirky Terram spell upon the cell door). Posing as Bogomiles, the reluctant Nicolaus talked their way past the sentries with theological banter, and the group fled into the wild valley to hide.
The next day, heading north towards the Covenant of Mondsagen in nearby Silesia, the magi hoped to confound anyone that may follow from Oravsky Podzamók. Forced to move slowly by the weakened legate's condition, they stuck to the wilds and used Nicolaus' Imáginem magics to hide their camps. But several days later, a strange demonic beast attacked the group in the dark night. Surprising the guard Matthias by initially taking the appearance of the magus Julian, the demon mutilated the poor legate in his sleep before the group understood their danger. Erik and Waldemar fought the beast fiercely until its puss-covered body exploded, showering them with sulfurous, boiling fat. Though Julian warned Nicolaus not to, the Arteman magus collected Vim vis from the grisly puss. Giving the poor legate a burial, they departed for Mondsagen Covenant and debated a course of action with Samo.
*Magic Theory Note - As an inventive genius and magus of House Menecrates (the legendary line of doctors), Samo sought to rid the world of disease with his spells (particularly leprosy and other severe afflictions). Instead of using Creo Corpus spells to affect healing and achieve a restoration of the human form however, Samo has decided to attempt to directly destroy the disease - to eliminate it by casting a Perdo Perdo spell. This concept is highly theoretical, and further House Menecrates suffers from a tradition of poor Perdo magics (Perdo magics were once banned by this House entirely). Samo continues to study Perdo and hopes to surpass previous Hermetic limits with his work.
Cast: Sir Erik and Matthias (Chris Blake), Nicolaus (Mike Daumen), Brother Meshach and Sir Waldemar (Patrick Murphy), Julian (Kendall Miles)
Date - 1/18/98 (101st Session)
...a powerful noble beseeches the magi to prophetize the results of a military campaign
In the late summer of 1212 a messenger arrived at Rabenstein bearing a scroll from Lady Liesel of Riegersberg (whom the magi had previously met in Graz while attending the Duke of Austria's temporary court in the previous story Trial by Combat ). The fat messenger named Felix made a thorough ass of himself, downing prodigious pints of ale and sausages and offending several ladies before he announced that his master Lady Liesel wished to hold a feast in honor of the infamous conjurers of Rabenstein. Felix further relayed that Liesel wished to have their divination about a military campaign she was considering, and was prepared to offer them gifts in return. This prompted a nervous debate among the council of magi, who feared embroiling themselves with nobles in this manner lest the Quaesitori cite them for violations of the Code. Yet ignoring the noble's request might be taken as an insult, so the magi agreed to send Cynric (who had dealt with Liesel in the past and seemed to have earned her favor), and Julian of Jerbiton to hear the matter and diffuse the situation as best they could. Julian gathered 3 of the Covenant's 4 knights to make a favorable impression upon the nobles, and departed along with Tatyana (who possessed a talent for Pyromancy).
Arriving at Riegersberg, a majestic castle along the Hungarian border and the mightiest military fortress in all of Steiermark, the magi and knights of Rabenstein were given wonderful hospitality. Milk baths, fine clothes, and musicians spoiled the folk, although the magi were incessantly pestered by servants and other denizens of Riegersberg who desired help with personal affairs. At the banquet, Julian and Cynric were each given ornate hats with partridge feathers and staves (symbolic of the staff of Moses). Encouraging them to drink Liesel expressed her fondness for the conjurers, having been impressed with their powers when last she saw them in Graz. Cynric had difficulty with the Lady, as he refused to eat or drink anything but bread and water (Cynric is in the midst of a penance), but diffused her ire by spontaneously changing wine into water and sipping meagerly upon a bottle. Turning to Julian the Lady explained that she desired to seize the nearby market-town of Feldbach at the end of the summer, and wished to hear a prophecy about the battle (as well as what time would be most favorable to attack). Julian learned that she had over 100 knights ready to seize the town, which currently belonged to the powerful Steinhartz family of Graz (and whose head was Otto, the Castellan of Graz). Delaying the matter by claiming they must gaze at the stars tonight, Julian and Cynric retired to the high tower with Tatyana where they debated the matter. Much to their chagrin, Tatyana could scry nothing about the battle or its result within a fire. The magi lamented that if they claimed to see nothing, their powers and reputation would be diminished, or perhaps they might gain the enmity of Liesel who knew they had powers and might think they were refusing to aid her. Yet if they made a prophecy they risked being incorrect. And of dire concern to the magi was the potential of earning a powerful noble enemy by their actions (either Liesel for prophetizing her defeat, or the Steinhartz family for being perceived as an ally of Riegersberg or perhaps instigating the attack). Ultimately they went to Lady Liesel and proclaimed that they had seen a murky vision which did not bode well for her plan. The magi claimed that their vision had been neither one of victory or defeat, but rather they saw a difficult struggle with no clear success, and suggested that the stars were not aligned for a victory right now (he proposed delaying the attack until at least the spring). Liesel took the divination calmly, and retired with her Butler and leading knights to discuss their course of action.
Back at the Covenant, a few days after the expedition to Riegersberg had departed, Magda of Bjornaer returned from milling about the hillside to find the Covenant practically deserted. To her dismay she learned from Hans the Cook that Sir Erik the Miles had gathered the socii together and set off that morning in full armaments with the entire turb to 'do battle', without informing any of the magi. Closing their gates the remaining magi held an emergency meeting to discuss the strange disappearance of the turb. Merento of Bonisagus discovered that the Covenant's Egyptian artifact The Necklace of the Golden Flies was missing, apparently stolen from his laboratory, and he charged Erik with pilfering the magical device (see the previous tale Journey to the Greek Islands , which reveals more about this artifact). Explaining to the other magi that Erik had grown fond of the Necklace and worn it in the past, Merento hypothesized that the Necklace held some manner of power over Sir Erik (after all, the necklace was an ancient military pendant from the God Osiris). Nicolaus attempted to scry Erik's location using his magics and a vial of Erik's blood as an arcane connection, but somehow the magic was resisted (perhaps the Necklace conferred magic resistance). But using the socius Polu's lucky cap as a connection, Nicolaus was able to view several of their men eating in a dimly lit hostel, and from villagers in Fröhnleiten they ascertained that the men had set off to the south. So Magda the Wolf set out for Graz, and befuddling the town watchmen was able to enter the city and find the turb within their frequent haunt, the 'Mottled Duck' tavern. Erik told Magda that they were bound for Riegersberg, where they would fight in a battle, and when she glimpsed the Necklace around his neck she offered to join them (in hopes of seizing the Necklace en route). Although this was not accomplished, on the walk to Riegersberg the next day Magda gleaned more of the change in Erik and the strange powers of the Necklace. Not only was her spontaneous magic resisted by Erik, but she observed the men splendidly following his orders. Further, her Parma was blown down when he ordered her not to tell Cynric or Julian that he wore the Necklace (fortunately the full effect of his order did not overpower her mind, a result of our 'Ablative Parma' House Rules). Magda also surmised that any soldiers Erik gave direct orders to obeyed him without reticence, but that this power did not apply to peasants, merchants, and probably other non-combatants (although she was no soldier, perhaps Magda's violent nature allowed the necklace to affect her).
Entering the castle of Riegersberg, the second expedition from Rabenstein were welcomed and learned that Lady Liesel intended to besiege the town of Feldbach in the morning (she had decided to ignore the prophecy, confident in her success). Magda reunited with the magi Cynric & Julian, and relayed Erik's strange actions and his possession of the Necklace. Determined to save the lives of their men and avoid letting Erik lead them into battle, they arranged to send their sergeant Bertoul and the other socii back to Rabenstein at first light (bearing Liesel's gift, an expensive Byzantine rug). Using his charm and grace Julian managed to distract Erik to ensure the escape of their men, but was afraid of trying to seize the Necklace from him directly. Anxious to monitor the course of the battle and the fate of Erik (and the Necklace), the magi joined the war party as they marched to Feldbach but remained in the rear with the retainers.
Alas, the superior forces of Riegersberg were intercepted in the field by an army from nearby Furstenfeld, which had heard of the impending attack from spies. Although they were victorious against the forces of Furstenfeld, the army of Riegersberg was unable to take the town Feldbach after the tiring battle, and were forced to withdraw. After the battle, Sir Erik returned calmly to the magi and consented to journey home to Rabenstein. While he denied pilfering the Necklace, the magi remained wary of the Necklace's apparent luster and Erik's affection for it. Once Erik returned the Necklace to them, the magi agreed to embed it within the stone of the Covenant's caves using Merento's spell Gentle Gift of the Mason's Hand.
Cast: Alexandra, Magda, Tatyana, and Anna the Scullery-maid (Ann Harper), Sir Erik, Polu, Hans, and Sir Adam (Mike Daumen), Cynric and Wolfgang (Patrick Murphy), Julian and Bertoul (Kendall Miles)
Date - 2/1, 2/8/98 (102nd & 103rd Sessions)
Beta Storyguide - Kendall Miles
...people's shadows are disappearing, and the covenfolk face a dangerous demon
In the late autumn, the mystic hedge wizard Alchar returned to visit Rabenstein after a several year absence (see the previous story A Hard Bargain to learn more of Alchar). Alchar relayed a strange tale about the disappearance of his very own shadow and begged the magi to help him locate it. Observing in the sunlight that Alchar did not indeed possess a shadow, yet mystified at the nature of his conundrum, the magi agreed to aid Alchar if he would promise to utilize his skill with spirits to help them recover their lost comrades Piotr and Lazslo (who were lost to the Cumans in the tale Law of the Polovtsy). Alchar claimed that he lost his shadow in the Enns valley near the town of Frauenburg, so an expedition was mounted to the town. As the covenfolk approached Frauenberg they happend upon a monk headed towards nearby Admont Abbey, and observed that he too possessed no shadow! At first denying his predicament, dismissing it as a simple 'trick of the light' on this cloudy day, the monk joined them once they promised their help to recover his lost shadow. Walking with them to Frauenberg the monk told them that similar fates had befallen several townsmen in recent months, and the magnitude of the problem became apparent. The townsmen were skittish and a sense of fear and dread overwhelmed Frauenberg, some of whom blamed the nearby manor house of Sir Gorán as the source of trouble. Those afflicted with the loss of their shadow seemed pallid, and it was discovered that their humors were unbalanced, though the mental torment of being separated by their shadow was more pronounced. Sir Ladewig affirmed that this trouble had begun a few months ago, and that the manor of Sir Gorán was rumored to be haunted and to blame for such evil deeds. Pursuing the affair, the expedition journeyed to a vantage point overlooking the manor house, which lay crumbling and in a state of disrepair. Only a single watchman was spied, though Merento of Bonisagus saw strange, magical, shadowy forms swirling in the darkeness enveloping the manor when he crept closer.
When the dawn broke, the troupe marched into the manor grounds and asked to speak with Lord Gorán directly. As they awaited an answer, Merento lowered his Parma Magica so that he might better utilize his sensitivity to magic, but much to his shock he observed a host of shadowy forms filling the entire courtyard, which seized his shadow as they perceived him. Angrily, Merento rejuvenated his Parma and marched towards the house to confront Lord Gorán at once. Yet before he and his fellows entered the doorway a host of shadows appeared blocking their path and demanding that they depart. Merento started to negotiate with the shadows to speak with their 'king' (when one of the shadows referred to such a leader), but Lassitor destroyed it with a Perdo Vim spell (unaware that the entire courtyard was filled with many more such shadows). At once the shadows attacked the group moving with uncanny speed, wrenching the shadows of many folk of Rabenstein's troupe as they reatreated. Fortunately the shadowy forms did not pursue the troupe past the manor grounds. Though they felt no differently, other than being slightly dizzy at times, Alchar warned the folk that with time they would grow weak and perhaps die without their shadows. As they debated a course of action by the roadside, a shadowy form approached the group. Several magi recognized the shadow's voice and countenance, for it was that of the deceased Sir Uwe, slain in the caves of Rabenstein (see the previous tale Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me). Uwe's shadow scoffed at them and relayed that his King would welcome them to his court at dusk. Alarmed that the shadows might include dead spirits in addition to the shadows of living humans, the troupe retreated to Frauenberg. For the next day they avoided the manor and attempted in vain to summon the King of Shadows directly to themselves with the aid of Alchar. Though the troupe was divided, Merento convinced them to risk annihilation and return to the manor to negotiate for the return of their own shadows. Arriving back at the manor, they were led by shadowy forms into a spartan study, and there in the dim light they met the 'King' of Shadows. After a lengthy negotiating in which Merento offered to counsel the shadows on their enemies in the land of sunshine and the living, the King demanded that they sign a contract (referring to the troupe in an unsettling manner as "meat"). Managing to escape such commitment by insisting that they bring the rest of their magi to sign the contract, the troupe departed with the vow to return soon to make good on their promise.
Cynric Ex Miscellanea hastily returned to Rabenstein with his spell Summoning the Raven's Wind and convened a council to discuss the problem in Frauenburg. From their dialogue with the King of Shadows and the manor stablehand, Cynric had gleaned that all these problems began when a trunk from the Holy Land had arrived at Goran's manorhouse. Apparently Gorán's brother had died of old age in the Levant, and the trunk contained his possessions. Worried that the King of Shadows might have been brought or summoned due to a relic within the trunk, and convinced that the King was Infernal in nature and growing in power quickly, they determined to send all the magi to confront the King and destroy him. Bearing a large amount of vis, Cynric led the remaining magi of Rabenstein back to Frauenberg and there the host of Rabenstein's magi formulated a plan of assault. During the night Alchar summoned one of the shadows and by destroying it with Demon's Eternal Oblivion Lassitor of Criamon proved that the shadows were Infernally tainted.
During the bright of midday the troupe returned to the manor house and asked to see the King so that they might sign his contract. This time the shadows led them into the cellar of the manor house, where the difference between shadow, blackness, walls, and eternal abyss was blurred and magic radiated around the magi. Edging closer to the King the magi continued negotiations until the King began to grow angry at their long-winded diplomacy, as Cynric began the assault by thrusting out the Plume of the Zhar-Ptitsa which illuminated the cellar suddenly with the light of the bright sun (see the magic items page for information on this non-Hermetic magic item, bestowed to the magi as a gift in the previous tale The Three Faces of Triglav). The many shadows vanished as they were banished to the deep corners of the bright cellar, but soon the King thrust a lantern of his own to return a dimness to the room, damaging the magic Plume of the Zhar-Ptitsa forever more. As the King battled with Cynric contesting the illumination of the cellar, he was shattered by several of Lassitor's Perdo Vim spells (powered by all of the Covenant's Vim vis) and scattered to the winds by Cynric's Pilum of Fire. As the King dissapated his shadowy followers fled in all directions and out of sight, and the missing shadows of Covenfolk returned to their bodies in a few moments. But disaster befell the group as Julian of Jerbiton lay unconcious at battle's end, having fumbled his attempt to assail the King with a Perdo Mentem spell. Concluding the affair, the magi sealed a menacing crack in the cellar floor into which many shadows had fled, and discovered that the strange aura of the manor had been broken with the King's 'death'. The troupe explored the crumbling estate hastily, learning that Lord Gorán had died in his sleep during the battle (perhaps his shadow was the King?). Then taking the trunk back to Rabenstein the magi returned home with their grievously wounded sodalis, Julian.
*Wizard's Twilight Clarification - Julian triple botched his attempt to destroy the king, having invested 10 pawns of Mentem into the endeavor. Further, Julian had recently acquired an 'Affinity with Shadows' from his trip to the mystical cave at Mondsagen Covenant. This affinity overwhelmed and confused Julian in the presence of the King and perhaps led to this devastating failure. Having entered twilight, Julian remained unconcious for nearly 3 full months before recovering, and his demeanor was considerably changed when he awoke (many of Julian's memories were missing, false, or otherwise confused). In a sense, the old Julian died here, and a new one was born. Refer to Julian's sanctum for more information.
*Rules Clarification - Alchar is a Spirit Master , as detailed in the 4th edition sourcebook 'Hedge Magic'.
Cast: Merento (Jason Buss), Magda (Ann Harper), Lassitor (Chris Blake), Cynric (Patrick Murphy), Nicolaus (Mike Daumen), Julian and Alchar (Kendall Miles), Matthias, Sir Waldemar, Brother Meshach, Andreas, Gert, and Sir Ladewig (everyone)
This page last modified on 2/18/98.
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