Date - 2/15, 2/22/98 (105th and 106th Sessions)
Storyguide Assistance - Kendall Miles, Patrick Murphy, Mike Daumen
...the Covenant pursues legends of a lost Hermetic founder
In a previous tale (The Necromantic Apprentice) the magi of Rabenstein acquired a book of necromancy by Cippo, which claimed to know the secrets of the legendary magics of Epebolus, one of the Founders of the Order of Hermes (see Additional Houses). Although the text had missing sections, it did cryptically describe the location of Epebolus' sanctum, which lay above the clouds yet below the earth and presided over the 'heart of dreams'. Since the book had come from the monastery of St. Wolfgang in the Salzkammergut, the magi suspected that the 'heart of dreams' referreed to the Traunsee ('lake of dreams') that lay within the Salt District, and determined to head to this monastery to search for any additional writings. Mounting an expedition a troupe marched into the nearby Salt District with the spring thaws and arrived at the village of St. Wolfgang on the Wolfgangersee after a long, dreary trip with many delays. Much to their surprise, they learned that no such 'monastery' existed in St. Wolfgang (the book's former owner, a monk named Hörst, had claimed he found it within the 'Monastery of St. Wolfgang'). The nearest monastery lay some 30 miles distant along the Mondsee.
A simple pilgrim's church did sit alongh the rocky crop overlooking the lake, so the folk went to speak with its chaplain Wenzel, but he did not recollect brother Hörst and explained that there was no library here (Wenzel had only been the chaplain for a year, so perhaps Hörst had indeed been here after all). Although the chaplain was little help, a gruesome hunchback named Lutz that swept and cleaned the church made a nuisance of himself, following around Magda and the troupe. Magda learned that Lutz did indeed remember Hörst, as he showed them marks upon his body where brother Hörst had let his blood (Lutz was quite a disgusting figure in this tale, as it became clear that he practiced particularly violent and painful self-flagellation...in fact it was only when Magda consented to beat him with a branch in the woods that he agreed to tell her where Hörst had left other books). Lutz tried to attack and rape poor Magda when she went alone with him into the woods, but she was expecting the assault and used her magics to frighten poor cowering Lutz, who exclaimed that he had hidden Hörst's books within the tomb of St. Wolfgang.
That night three of the magi crept to the tomb of St. Wolfgang below the pilgrim's church, and broke into the chamber. With considerable difficulty - injuring Julian of Jerbiton's hand when they dropped the tomb's lid upon him - they managed to free some old parchments from the tomb. Fleeing from the village the next morning before signs of their deed might be discovered, the troupe set camp in the wild and began pouring over the texts. At last Julian stumbled across mention of Epebolus and his life along the Almsee, below the 'dead range' (a term that their guide Domán knew referred to the Totes Gebirge, a mighty mountain range which was so high and rocky that no animals or plants could grow there). Setting off for the high mountains they arrived at a small village called Seehaus.
From a villager in Seehaus the covenfolk learned of a strange village high in the Totes Gebirge above, whose folk lived as kings of rock and dirt and only came down to the valleys for peat. Despite the lake-men's warnings, they paid the villagers to take them by boat across the lake that they might hike to this strange villaged called Spitzmauer. After an exhausting climb, the expedition arrived at a bizarre village with frightening folk, quite inbred in appearance and speaking a barely comprehensible dialect of German. The lone churchman Lubert spoke of them as pilgrims, taking them to the Church of St. Ebels, a squalid hut. None of the troupe had ever heard of a 'St. Ebels', and speculated that perhaps this referred to Epebolus (a theory which made sense after Lubert elaborated about the Saint's Life, telling them that he entered the old Roman mine before his death, promising to return to lead them to Heaven when the world ended). Taking their arrival as an omen that the Saint would soon return to lead them to Heaven, Lubert convened a mass in which all 40 or so of the villagers gathered within the tiny church. As he delivered a fire-and-brimstone lecture bemoaning their sinful natures, the villagers all shook and quivered mightily, writhing upon the floor and moaning (and frightening the socii). Departing the church the troupe from Rabenstein hiked higher up the mountain to an old graveyard, just below the entrance to an old mine. As they milled about the graveyard they discovered a bevy of magical flowers (forget-me-nots), and the clear mark of the Domus Magnus of House Criamon, the Cave of Twisting Shadows. Then one of the villagers who called himself 'the Keeper' approached them and insisted that they not enter the mine, offering all manner of excuses and warnings ('if the cave-ins don't get you the beast of the mine will', and 'the silver's not ready to be taken out yet, it must ripen more'). Despite the Keeper's warnings, the troupe entered the cave once they convinced the keeper they would not do so, and Cynric had used his magics to lay the Keeper safely asleep.
Within the musty mine, the troupe discovered a host of animal bones, and were shocked to stumble across a group of skeletons and corpses walking towards them. Incinerating the undead men, the group marched onward into the deep mine until they arrived at a dead end blocked by a cave-in. Within this chamber they saw a bowl-shaped receptacle with glimmering fungi growing within it, and following the advice of the book of necromancy, they left an offering of warm blood in the urn (conjuring it with magic). Once filled with blood, the caved-in rockpile vanished and a wave of moist heat washed over the group from a dimly lit tunnel that stood where the rock slide had before. Proceeding within the tunnel the expedition found the long lost sanctum of Epebolus. Despite his legendary status as a Founder, Epebolus clearly practiced a manner of non-Hermetic magic (after all, he had spurned the system of techniques and forms). A vast collection of human bones and decaying bodes were found in a small side chamber, along with numerous pots and jars containing animal and human body parts labelled neatly in Latin script. In the middle of a large magical papyri they discovered the body of a young girl with a series of copper tubes thrust into her skin and leading to elaborate laboratory equipment. Destroying the tubes, they gathered up the blood which flowed from them for it contained Corpus vis. They experimented with a strange mirror, a talking raven named Munin (the only living creature amidst the laboratory), gathered what books and interested supplies they could (including a text on catroptomancy), and marked the site to claim it as Rabenstein's. They were unable to pass beyond a strange metal doorway, but determined to depart lest something ill befall them.
*Religious Anecdote - Bishop Wolfgang of Regensberg, canonized in 1052, came to the shores of the lake which would later bear his name to seek solitude, and the church which stands here bearing his name is the site of freqent pilgrimages for the folk of nearby Salzburg. Wolfgang was a generous hermit who founded schools and nunneries and went to Magyar lands to teach the Gospel. Patron of shepherds and woodsmen, invoked against wolves, his day is October 31st.
Cast: Magda (Ann Harper), Cynric and Sir Waldemar (Patrick Murphy), Nicolaus and Andreas (Mike Daumen), Julian and Bertóul (Kendall Miles), Matthias (Chris Blake)
Date - 2/22, 2/23/98 (106th and 107th Sessions)
Delta Storyguide - Ann Harper
...a grog's dark secret is revealed, embroiling the magi with dangerous rusalki
In the dry summer of 1213, the covenfolk were pleased when a long, warm rain began to fall upon Rabenstein. But when the torrential downpour persisted for several days without relent, the magi became concerned. Villagers approached the Covenant demanding that the sorcerers spare their crops, and when Merento of Bonisagus percieved a magical luster to the rain some covenfolk were dispatched to determined the extent of the deluge. Much to their shock, they learned that the rains only fell within a few miles of Rabenstein and the neighboring village of Frohnleiten, with clear and sunny skies lying beyond. Seeking out the root of the problem, several covenfolk were found to have shared a similar dream about a pale woman with wet black hair (Tatyana was even tormented by visions of the woman, waking up soaking wet in her bed), but little sense could be made of the visions or how they related to the downpour until one of the socii, Wolfgang, began acting strangely. Wolfgang, a long time sentry known for his disdain of the clergy, was observed speaking with both Chaplain Eusebius and Brother Meshach. Eventually confronting Wolgang the troupe learned that the mysterious woman was his sister Christina, dead for over 16 years. Confiding in Merento, Wolfgang relayed that the ghost of his sister had come to him and wanted him to retrieve her skull, delivering it to someone or something called a 'Holy Rostan' (Rostan is a common Slavic name) so that she may ascend to Heaven. Suspicious of the validity of Wolfgang's often confusing tale about Christina, the magi soon discovered that Wolfgang himself had murdered his sister, drowning her and leaving her body in a lake by weighing it down with rocks. Though they were angered to discover a murderer in their midst, the magi were forced to lend their aid to Wolfgang that they might end the rains.
A lengthy debate ensued about the identity of 'Rostan', and whether he might actually be a marched Heremetic Wizard of House Criamon allegedly named 'Rostock' from Zavet Vrkhina in Kiev (Cynric had received a letter from his pater warning him about Rostock last year, and Rostock was known to have been marched for attempting to create rusalki; rusalki (singular rusalka) are vicious water faeries that inhabit Slavic waters). Since rusalki are thought to arise from the body of drowned maidens, it seemed that perhaps 'Rostan' sought to create a new rusalka from Christina, and required her skull to do so. Much of this speculation was affirmed when the spirit of Christina possessed Tatyana this very night and confronted Wolfgang in the courtyard. When Cynric called her 'rusalka', the possessed Tatyana confessed that this was indeed her name, along with three other women whom she 'knew'. As Wolfgang agreed to do her bidding with her skull, taking it to the Rostan, the rains suddenly stopped and Tatyana collapsed (her lungs filled with water, which would have killed her had not Cynric saved her life with hasty magics).
Fearful that they might be dealing with a Hermetic magus and three powerful malevolent water faeries, the council debated whether to pursue the magus directly, or simply journey straight to the bones of Christina and give them Christian burial. The matter was complicated by the discovery that Wolfgang had raped his sister and gotten her pregnant, prompting the murder out of his shame. When the vote split, Julian of Jerbiton settled the discussion among the normally tranquil council by waging Certámen with Nicolaus, who defeated Julian and announced that the expedition would head straight for the bones. En route to the lake, the magi happened upon another Heremtic magus, Mannis of Bjornaer. Mannis was a fellow member of Zavet Vrkhina Covenant in Kiev, seeking out his renounced brother and claiming that he resided in a hut somewhere near the lake (though he refused to accompany the magi of Rabenstein). Wolfgang remained tormented by visions of his sister during the expedition, who reminded him of his promise to her. Arriving at the lake Wolfgang led the magi to the sight where he had buried his sister as a a cold rain began to fall, still marked by a great stump looming out of the shallow water. Though he tried to retrieve the bones, the experience was too overwhelming and Wolfgang returned to shore and started downing all the ale he could muster. Yet as they lingered by the banks of the lake the rusalki lunged from the waters and pulled several covenfolk under the waters. Abandoning the lake, the remaining covenfolk soon found themselves lost within a dismal swamp in a torrential rainstorm being bitten by strange rodent-like creatures. Arriving at a meager hut and dock, they were surrounded by the three rusalki as they huddled in fear. Calling out to the magus Rostock, whom they believed must be inside, they were confronted by the Russian magus, who recognized Lassitor of Criamon's facial imprints and consented to speak with him about his March. Although Rostock seemed willing to negotiate with Lassitor about being reinstated in the Order, tempting him with talk of the Enigma and his art, the covenfolk were not so modest, as they were frightened, cold, angry,and ready for vengeance for the drowning of their fellows, so they lashed out. Sergeant Bertoul led some grogs to smash apart the hut, and the remining magi of Rabenstein unleashed a barrage of magics upon Rostock of Criamon when he responded in kind against their grogs. Though he successfully hid for a few moments, Rostock was soon slain as Cynric toppled him with a Pilum of Fire and Lassitor decapitated him with his sword. Strangely the rusalki did not attack the group during the battle, as Lassitor removed a pendant of semi-precious stones from Rostock's body and commanded them successfully with it.
Having looted what remained of Rostock's meager hut and smashed most of its contents, the expedition trudged back bearing the skull of Christina and the powdered bones of the other three rusalki (which they found inside the hut). An argument with Wolfgang about his murderous past sent the bitter socius back home alone bearing the bones of his sister, but in the lake village of Rust the troupe arranged for the bones to be given proper Christian burial. The bones were also baptized at Cynric's suggestion (who had heard a legend that a baptized rusalki would return to mortal life), but this effort failed to produce such miraculous results. Returning to Rabenstein, the magi were alarmed to discover that Lassitor was still able to successfully command the three rusalki to appear before him with the pendant (though unlike previously when they appeared within moments, it took them nearly a full day to respond). At Rabenstein, Wolfgang had returned alone with his sister's remains, but a change of heart led him to quit the Covenant and head back to his home village to bury his sister there.
Cast: Tatyana (Blythe Newton),Wolfgang and Merento (Jason Buss), Lassitor and Jos (Chris Blake), Nicolaus (Mike Daumen), Cynric (Patrick Murphy), Julian and Bertoul (Kendall Miles)
Date - 3/1/98 (108th Session)
Epsilon Storyguide - Chris Blake
...in which one of Rabenstein's magi betrays the Covenant to pursue their dark past
In the early autumn of 1213 the Redcap Aestrius at last returned to Rabenstein to deliver some personal letters. During his brief stay at the covenant he relayed a curious tale about a village in the nearby Enns Valley of Steiermark, where a spirit or mystical hermit supposedly haunted a mountain overlooking the village. The magi would have thought nothing of the matter, but Lassitor of Criamon explained that he had heard of the mountain in the Redcap's tale, for it was called the Gross Grimming, and he speculated that it might harbor potential vis sources. Intrigued and willing to follow Lassitor's lead to investigate the Gross Grimming before the coming winter, a small expedition was assembled to journey to the mountain.
After an argumentative journey in which the troupe became briefly lost, the expedition arrived at Rotteman, a blossoming trading village in the Enns Valley where they secured lodging at the only hostel in the village. Although some villagers had heard tales of the hermit or ghost that haunted the mountain looming above Rotteman, none would agree to lead them to the mountain and thought them fools to consider such an errand. The local hunter Fedór consented to tell them how to find a cave high on the mountain's north face, but he refused to take them there personally. Learning that the hermit had only been seen for a few years, and that he often frequented the village well, the group trudged to the market square to examine the well. Clearly ancient, with original Roman stones, the well was found to posses a faded plaque and a cryptic symbol worn into the stone along the inside of the well. Using a spell, Lassitor attempted to reveal the identity of the eroded symbol and strange text upon the plaque, but his face grew ashen and the magus became sullen upon completing his spell. Though the troupe beseeched him to reveal what he had discovered, Lassitor returned silently to the hostel and only after several minutes would he speak of his discovery to the magi alone. Revealing that the symbol was that of the abolished House Díedne, Lassitor explained that the text was in an old French language, and that its author had left the plaque during the time of the great Schism war to his sodales warning them of his decision to flee to the distant East for safety. Alarmed at Lassitor's knowledge of the symbol for House Díedne (which had been eradicated from the Order over 200 years ago), Merento prompted Lassitor to reveal that the Criamon knew of it because he was old enough to have known magi of House Díedne (Lassitor spent over 100 years trapped within a faerie regio, warping his magic and personality as described in his character background, but at this juncture in the saga Lassitor revealed that he had actually spent over 200 years within the regio, having lied to the magi previously about his true age). This stunning revelation angered Merento, who did not believe Lassitor's tale and challenged him to Certámen to know his personal ties to House Díedne. Defeating Merento in the Certámen, Lassitor and Cynric conferred with one another about the significance of their discovery in the well and agreed to journey to the mountain to see if this hermit was somehow a descendant of House Díedne or knew of them. When Merento awoke, tension rose among the magi, as Merento trusted neither Lassitor or Cynric (sending a letter back to Rabenstein with one of their socii to inform Julian of Jerbiton of Lassitor's strange tale). Despite the mistrust amidst the magi, Merento consented to follow them to the cavern to keep an eye on Lassitor and Cynric and learn what he might of the possible presence of a descendant of House Díedne.
In the cavern high on the slopes of the Gross Grimming the expedition discovered that a band of brigands resided within the cave (though they were fortunately absent during the daylight hours that the troupe entered the cave). Yet further within the cavern the troupe stumbled upon a lone magus within a dark chamber, surrounded with laboratory equipment and the accouterments of a mage. It was Engelbert (see the previous tales The Picture of Castellan Demel and The Lindwurm of Klagenfurt in which the saga dealt with Engelbert previously). Recognizing one another, a battle of magics ensued in which Engelbert was captured (although one of the troupe, Stepan, fell into a 'bottomless' chasm to his death). Seizing his supplies of vis and books, the magi of Rabenstein argued over a text of the history of House Díedne they found within the lab, until Merento vowed to bear it back to the Covenant himself and leave it unopened until their arrival. Taking the injured Engelbert with them (and blindfolding him and twisting his tongue so that he might not cast spells adeptly), the troupe journeyed back to their home at Rabenstein. Yet on the third day of travel while they camped in the Alps Lassitor betrayed them. During his watch at night, Lassitor cast a spell upon the lone grog making him fall asleep, and then he pilfered the text about House Díedne from Merento as he slept. When the group awoke they discovered Lassitor's absence (and that of the valuable text), and a simple note from Lassitor of Criamon explaining his actions. Though the magi hastened back to Rabenstein and searched frantically for any sign of Lassitor, they were unable to find him, and discovered that the arcane connections to him in their caves had been destroyed some months ago. Yet the fate of Lassitor was not a complete mystery, as the magi imprisoned Engelbert in the Hundeloch and discovered that he was the author of the text on Díedne. Probing his mind, Julian of Jerbiton learned much that graced the book, and speculated that Lassitor woud soon be destined for a town north of the Black Sea, in the Principality of Kiev, where the text claimed outcasts from Díedne were rumored to have fled.
*Character Note - Lassitor of Criamon was originally apprenticed to House Díedne in France, but when the Schism War occured his master hid him within a faerie regio for safety. Lassitor remained for two years within the regio, at last freed when a Hermetic magus stumbled into the regio. Two hundred years had passed in the mortal world, and after Lassitor recovered from a vicious Twilight he completed his apprenticeship as a magus of Criamon. Although he genuinely favored Rabenstein and his friends there, when he gleaned the possibility that some of his lineage had survived in the distant East he determined to journey there, renouncing his allegience to Rabenstein.
Cast: Tatyana and Domán (Blythe Newton), Merento (Jason Buss), Lassitor (Chris Blake), Stepan (Mike Daumen), Cynric and Sir Waldemar (Patrick Murphy)
Date - 3/29/98 (112th session)
...the nature of Rabenstein's magical aura is revealed, and the magi struggle to come to grips with its aspects
Since Rabenstein's founding in 1196, the strange nature of the Covenant's magical aura has often preturbed the many folk who reside therein. Ghosts seem to haunt the place, whose very name means 'the place of execution', and in recent years the strength of these spirits has been observed to heighten upon both Halloween and the old pagan festival of Lugnasadh (August 1st). In fact, it is theorized among the magi that upon Halloween night the entire Covenant seems to take on the aspects of a regio, slipping farther into the past with each passing year. Although the precise source of the aura still remains unclear, the magi have been able to discern that Rabenstein and the hill upon which it stands is the home to ravens (hence its local name, 'Rabenstein' or in English, 'raven-stone'), and that their presence signifies that the site is a place of strength of the goddess Morrigan (a Celtic deity of battle, death, and sexuality). Many ancient human bones have also been discovered within an underground copse below the Covenant, indicating some sinister events that may have occured here in the distant past. And the magi believe that the caves below their castle were once the tomb of Celtic kings (nearby Roman and Celtic graveyards complement the macabre ambience of the hillside and continue to give Rabenstein a bad reputation among the folk of Steiermark). With the passing years since the Covenant's founding, the meager magical aura has slowly increased (rising from a mere 1 in 1196 to 3 in 1213). And because the intimidating magical luster of Rabenstein has resulted in death upon past Halloween nights, the covenfolk are always more restless and nervous with the approach of this time of year. Please refer to the Introduction and the previous stories Morrigan the Witch, Menan the Witch, and The Morrigan to learn more about the covenant's history and past experiences involving Rabenstein's mysterious magical aura).
Perhaps a week before All Hallow's Eve in the blustery autumn of 1213, the sentry Polu cried out in alarm during his normally sedate night-watch when he spied a dead mate upon the castle walls. It was Mudimbe, a reliable slave who had been slain several years ago upon these very walls due to the magical trickery of the Morrigan (see the previous tale The Morrigan). Though more brave covenfolk tried to talk to Mudimbe, who mumbled about "the ending," the ghost grew frightened and vanished into the night. Raising the number of sentries, Polu was again mortified a few nights later when his dead comrade Axel strode out of the lavatory and brushed him aside (see the previous tale With Friends Like This... to learn of Axel's grisly murder). Axel spoke of his quest for 'the key', but was transformed to a wisp of scattered dead leaves by the magus Cynric when he cast a PeMe spell upon the ghost. Confessing that he too had recently spied a ghost within the caves beneath Rabenstein, Julian of Jerbiton determined to appease the power of the Morrigan. So upon Halloween Day, he placed a human head (that he acquired in the previous tale The Lost Founder) within the copse of skulls as an offering to the Morrigan, and Magda of Bjornaer roamed the hillside to watch the ravens.
As dusk fell upon All Hallow's Eve, a calm descended upon the Covenant. With lazily chirping crickets and a low mist settled over the hill, the entire Principia vanished. Rocky shrubs and pine trees stood in its place dominating the hillside, and the castle's original Roman walls took on a scarred and ruined appearance. Near the center of the courtyard stood a great obelisk of stone, about 14 feet tall. And at its summit there stood a weathered round stone with a faded face carved into it (or perhaps three faces). Three deep niches were recessed into the pillar's west face. Below the rocky precipice where the castle ruins stood the confused covenfolk spied a strange conical hut amidst a grove of mature oak trees (normally no such hut exists but there are oak saplings that the covenfolk themselves planted about 10 years ago). As the folk explored this strange new vista and marveled that their castle was gone, they began to realize that ghosts strode amidst them...some they recognized, including past covenfolk and friends who had died here, while others were enemies who had met their doom nearby, yet others seemed strange and long-dead (including Roman legionnaires). The ghosts began to take corporal form, assembling within the former courtyard near the obelisk. Probing the ghosts with magic, the magi watched with curiosity as the spirits began to move in a circle around the obelisk, dancing with jerking frenzied motions. Then without warning the assembled host of covenfolk drew their weapons and joined the dance as if transfixed, leaving only a few magi and the priests to gape in bewilderment and fear (Julian of Jerbiton also joined the dance, chiding his fellow magi to join him and stop attempting to harrass the dancers). Reaching a frenzied pitch, the ghosts and covenfolk sprang forth and fell with a fury upon the holy men and magi. Several magi fled entirely with the aid of their magic, while Cynric attempted to thwart the insane covenfolk with raging winds to knock them down and pits to impede their approach. Yet he too was forced to flee when the phantom warriors besieged him (who were unaffected by his winds). Though Brother Meshach was able to bestill several enraged covenfolk from their madness by invoking the name of God Almighty and His Commandments, he was unwilling to escape and would not leave the side of Chaplain Eusebius. Thus the covenant's own sergeant, Bertóul, cut down and beheaded the stalwart Orthodox monk with his bloody axe. Taking Meshach's head back to the pillar and placing it within the top niche (along with two skulls retrieved from the copse below), the phantoms withered into the night, and the transfixed covenfolk retired to the conical hut on the hillside below to sleep the night. As dawn came, the troupe awoke unsheletered on the hillside in the cold night air, their castle returned from its mysterious journey. Though the folk could recall the night before, it seemed like a dream until they saw that Meshach was indeed dead. Mortified, the covenfolk threw the upset Bertóul within the Hundeloch (donjon). After a council meeting, the magi agreed to banish Bertoul from all of Steiermark for his despicable deed, and escorted him to the crossroads wearing only pauper's clothes and bearing a few farthings.
Cast: Cynric and Brother Meshach (Patrick Murphy), Julian and Bertoul (Kendall Miles), Melete (Blythe Newton), Merento (Jason Buss), Nicolaus (Mike Daumen), Magda and Alexandra (Ann Harper), Erik (Chris Blake), Host of Covenfolk (everyone)
Date - 3/8/98 (109th Session)
...in which a child's mysterious illness gives birth to a magical creature
One lazy autumn afternoon, the oft-maligned Matthias came to the magi of Rabenstein to beg for help with yet another family matter (Matthias has been prone to call upon the magi for help with his personal problems). Matthias explained that a friend of his wife's family was in need of their aid, for her daughter had fallen gravely ill despite the attention of lay healers. Having conveyed the kindness and powerful healing capacity of the magi of Rabenstein to the woman, Matthias convinced the somewhat reluctant Cynric Ex Miscellanea to speak with the girl's mother. Although it was discovered that the sickly child was resting in her home in Graz some 25 miles away, Cynric spoke with a doctor that was temporarily visiting Rabenstein and enlisted her assistance (Meléte of Menecrates, a resident magus from Doissetep Covenant). Setting out to Graz to see the sick child, the troupe from Rabenstein were startled to discover evidence of some more sinister affliction at work (the girl lay in a dark chamber filled with cobwebs and soiled sheets, shrieked at the touch of sunlight, and had black vacant eyes). Meléte the skilled doctor discerned that the girl had been bled, possessing such little blood that she should not even be alive (her body seemed to be decomposing from within). Apparently several folk had tended to the girl in recent weeks since she fell ill, and investigating an assortment of ointments and unguents by the girl's bed, Meléte selected one elixir that seemed suspicious (with Cynric's help they determined that it contained residual animal blood, wine, and cinnabar; further the bottle was marked with a cryptic depiction of a salamander). Using the Ars Medicorum, Meléte tended to the child's illness, but remained uncertain how to cure her mysterious affliction. So the troupe determined to investigate the folk who had attended the girl in recent weeks (ie the former cleaning-maid, midwife, barber, etc). From the cleaning maid's brother they learned that the cobwebs and filth returned with each nightfall no matter how tirelessly the maid cleaned the girl's chambers.
While most of these leads proved fruitless, the barber's residence turned out to be quite intriguing. At first reluctant to speak with the troupe, the barber named Morienus at last consented to admit Meléte and Cynric to his residence. It became clear that this barber was no simple artisan, but rather a blossoming alchemist from Toledo under the patronage of a local merchant. Morienus chastized the troupe for their interruptions and belittled their education until at last Cynric displayed some of his Hermetic talents (nearly setting ablaze the townhouse). While he denied causing the girl's sickness, when it became clear that proof could be mustered of their involvement in the affair the alchemist Morienus admitted that his servant had let the girl's blood, and that he had given the child a potion to recuperate. Morienus insisted that he had done no wrong, and blamed any ill effects of his potion upon a Jewish bookmerchant from Sopron named Seth, who had sold him the recipe. Morienus also threatened to call upon his powerful friends if they should drag him further into the matter with the sick child, but seemed appeased by the troupe's willingness to be done with him (Cynric did arrange however to meet with Morienus in the future to discuss their arts).
Convinced that the potion she had imbibed was somehow responsible, the group returned to study the sick child. But they were shocked to discover a commotion outside the girl's house, where a crowd had gathered. From the chaotic townsfolk it became clear that the girl's mother and father had been bitten by some manner of monster within the house and lay collapsed outside the threshold. While Meléte rushed to aid the parents, the rest of the troupe burst into the house. Rushing upstairs, Matthias found the poor girl dead, her head thrown back and jaw agape. Probing the house for signs of a 'monster', the troupe were soon assailed by a hideous snake-like creature with tiny wings that had been hiding within the blazing hearth. Lashing Alexandra with its tail and biting Matthias, the group finally forced the salamander back into the fireplace (though Matthias' spear was set ablaze by the beast). Though Cynric was able to sever the beast's tail (which harbored 1 pawn of Ignem vis), the salamander crawled up the chimney and evaded capture. While the magi answered questions about their deeds to the town guard (because Matthias had blithered on about the salamander evading the mighty spells of his masters), the entire city block where this incident had occured was set ablaze, as the salamander had his revenge.
*Saga Anecdote - This tale marks the second mention of a Jewish potion concocted in the vicintiy of Sopron (see the previous tale The Path of St. Michael). Worried that some manner of magic or diabolism was at work, the magi of Rabenstein agreed to investigate these rumors in the near future.
Cast: Meléte and David (Blythe Newton), Cynric (Patrick Murphy), Merento (Jason Buss), Alexandra (Ann Harper), Matthias (Kendall Miles), The Salamander (Chris Blake)
Date - 3/15/98 (110th Session)
...in which the startling secrets of a Hermetic apprentice are revealed
In previous stories the magi of Rabenstein became acquainted with a failed Hermetic apprentice named Loretta. Embroiled with despicable enemies and a wicked Hermetic master, she earned the kind-hearted aid of Rabenstein and the amorous affection of one of its members, Cynric Ex Miscellanea. Attempting to help facilitate her induction into the Order as a magus of Mercere, Cynric had spent the past year bartering with Fredebertus of Tytalus (her former master at Nubes Fenestre Covenant) by Redcap along with Harco Covenant to pay the elder Tytali magus for his loss. The last anyone from Rabenstein saw Loretta was two years previously, when Cynric journeyed to visit Loretta at Finale Ligure along the Meditteranean Sea in the summer of 1211. To learn more of Loretta's past dealings with Rabenstein, see the previous stories The Picture of Castellan Demél , The Troll of the Magdalensberg, The Peripheral Code, The Harlot of Fröhnleiten, and The Lion of St. Mark.
Aestrius the Redcap arrived at Rabenstein in the autumn of 1213 with dreadful news for Cynric Ex Miscellanea. Apparently the lovely Lady Loretta had turned up missing from her station at Harco Covenant in the Piedmont, and it was feared that agents of her former master Fredebertus had kidnapped her. Aestrius elaborated that her new master had tried to follow her using a lock of her hair as an arcane connection, but that the trail ended just outside of her home in Finale Ligure, where he found a pile of her severed hair (this at least proved that someone knowledgeable of Hermetic magic had seized her). Aestrius volunteered to journey to the Covenant of Fredebertus, Nubes Fenestre in the nearby Tirol, and attempt to discern if she was there. So Cynric and Julian of Jerbiton concocted a letter that he must deliver to Fredebertus.
Nearly two weeks later, Aestrius returned glumly to Rabenstein. Not only was he unable to learn if Loretta was at Nubes Fenestre, but Fredebertus was not there. Far worse, another magus of Nubes Fenestre (Electra of Mercere, Mistress of the Winds) had been immediately suspicious of his arrival, and Aestrius claimed that she used magics to loosen his tongue and probe his mind. Whether or not this latter claim was true, Aestrius relayed that Electra certainly knew of their concern for Loretta and their suspicion of Fredebertus. Aestrius also relayed a more dire problem. Apparently he and Loretta had conspired to not send any correspondance to Fredebertus over the past few years (so all the bargaining of vis between Cynric, Harco, and Fredebertus over the past two years was merely a ruse on the part of Loretta and Aestrius to buy time for her to complete her apprenticeship). Aestrius explained that he meant no harm, but that Loretta had convinced him that to deal with Fredebertus merely invited disaster, a belief these latest events no doubt proved! Angry at the deception but determined to help Loretta, Cynric called a council and explained his desire to go at once to the Covenant of Nubes Fenestre. Though the council argued over the deceptions of Aestrius and the believability of Loretta, several magi (notably Julian and Magda) offered their help as a sign of friendship with Cynric, and even Merento went so far as to tentatively suggest he might claim her as his own apprentice, as was his right as a Bonisagus.
Arriving at Nubes Fenestre, a covenant high in the Alps looming over Bad Radkersburg, the troupe were escorted to a squalid shack perched dangerously upon the windswept cliff. At last admitted to the castle itself, the magi of Rabenstein were presented to Fredebertus of Tytalus and Electra of Mercere, two elder magi of the Covenant. In the subsequent conversation, startling revelations were presented: Loretta was not the former apprentice of Fredebertus, nor a girl of 22 years old. Rather she was 40 years old and the former pupil of Fransi Dar (a legendary magus of Tytalus, himself the master of Fredebertus and Paternostro of House Tytalus). To prove their claims Fredebertus presented the man they claimed was Loretta's father, a decrepit old toad named Sicarius who once served the Doge of Venice as well as Mondsagen Covenant. While they refused to let the magi of Rabenstein see Loretta in person, they admitted to her presence here (Cynric challenged Fredebertus to Certámen to see her in person, but was soundly defeated by the elder magus). Further, they blamed Rabenstein for the death of their true interest, the woodcarver Basil (see the previous tale The Picture of Castellan Demél, in which Rabenstein first met Loretta while investigating the death of this mysterious 'Basil'). Fredebertus explained: Basil was touched by Eros - forever a child, androgynous, the embodied principle of beauty, freshness, youth, whimsy, and carnal fornication. While Basil was assuredly now dead (though Nubes Fenestre now claimed a vis source at his grave in Strassburg Castle), Fredebertus might be willing to part with Loretta if they could procure Basil's chisel and paring knife. Rabenstein knew nothing of these items, though they did recall from several previous tales that Basil's woodcarvings often had a magical charm and a life of their own (and they had carted several of Basil's bowls and artifacts back to the Covenant from Strassburg). The troupe tried to get Fredebertus to explain the usefulness of Basil's chisel, and were told of his menbership to the Cult of Perates, a mystical sect within the Order of Hermes (perhaps Seekers). Cryptic references to pagan deities, three serpents corresponding to the three elements of the great triad and other such confusing comments were offered by the Tytalus, but no clear understanding was to be deciphered.
Returning to Rabenstein, a frantic search was begun for Basil's trinkets, which at best recollection had been carted back to the Covenant and discarded over 7 years ago. Cynric at last found a chisel and paring knife in his own laboratory among some of Basil's old bowls. According to an arrangement made with Nubes Fenestre, a group from Rabenstein then returned to the village of Bad Radkersburg in the Tirol. Relaying a message through Aestrius that they had the chisel and knife, they awaited an envoy from Nubes Fenestre. In a tense exchange by moonlight, the magi surrendered Basil's tools and were given Loretta, safe and sound.
Though exhausted from her ordeal, Loretta thanked the magi profusely and pleaded with Cynric for still more help. She explained that her youth was attributed to Basil's magic, much like a longevity potion, and that its continued sustenance depended on the safety of the woodcarving that depicted her. It lay buried on the Magdalensburg, and she feared for its safety since Fredebertus and Electra had forced her to reveal its location to them with their magic (Loretta had hidden the carving during her journey to the Magdalensburg with Cynric in the previous tale, The Troll of the Magdalensberg). While the rest of the troupe headed homeward, Cynric and Julian hastened to the mountain and helped Loretta recover her woodcarving from beneath old Roman ruins and returned to Rabenstein. Loretta joined Cynric in his sanctum for the long winter, though her future remained somewhat uncertain.
*Character Note - Loretta's youth is preserved by the woodcarving that depicts her (which Basil drew over 25 years ago). Yet that is not all the carving bestows upon her. According to the magi of Nubes Fenestre and eventually Loretta herself, Loretta was formerly a simple stablegirl at the Covenant. She had dreamed of being a sorceress, and when she and Basil left Nubes Fenestre together she convinced him to make a carving of her as a magus. The carving grants her youth, but it also grants her the Gift (which she formerly did not possess). Yet the carving is also a curse, for depicted as a young magus, Loretta finds it difficult to mature in the use of her magics, progressing quite slowly in her studies compared to other mages.
Cast: Cynric (Patrick Murphy), Julian (Kendall Miles), Magda (Ann Harper), Tobias (Chris Blake), Meléte (Blythe Newton), Nicolaus (Mike Daumen), Merento (Jason Buss)
This page last modified on 4/19/98.
Comments to email@example.com
Return to the Rabenstein home page