The Chronicle of Ken Muir

The Monks of Saint Lasar's (part 1)
In which Thomas the Mage, Brother Erlend, and Corwynn attempt to uncover a grave plot.

Note to reader: This scenario is adapted from the published adventure ‘The Ghoul of Saint Lazare’ by John Nephew. It can be found in Tales of the Dark Ages

I – LOOKING FOR THE POX:

By the time Thomas fitz Roy had written his letter to his uncle and Corwynn mac Murchan had roused the sleepy Brother Erlend Svensson and gathered their travel gear together it was already after noon. There was some brief debate about what to do with the body and it was decided that it should be buried by Erlend.

Bonifazio, one of the grogs in Medigas of Florence’s service, rowed the three men across the top part of the lake and dropped them on the east bank. Corwynn helped both Thomas the Mage and Brother Erlend out of the boat. They decided to make for the nearest clachan (vill with a church) which happened to be that of Trevercarcou. They arrived just as a church service was letting out and, striding confidently past several of the villagers who were milling about outside the doors, they entered the church and found the priest inside, busily washing the feet of the few parishioners who remained inside as part of the Maundy Thursday service. Erlend waited in line, and when his turn came he thrust his massive bare foot into the hands of the monk, causing the brother to look up in surprise. Erlend then introduced himself and his companions as being from the new settlement of Ken Muir and asked if they could have a discrete word after the Maundy Thursday service was over.

When they were able to share a quiet word with the priest, whose name was Brother Benedictus, they mentioned the finding of the girl, dead of pox, on the banks of the river near their home. They expressed an interest in finding where she had come from so that she could be given a proper burial in her home parish. Benedictus assured them, however that there had been no pox in the parish of Trevercarcou to his knowledge, but he recommended they ask one of the local men whose sister lived in the nearby vill of Dalri.

When this villein was so questioned, he revealed that in fact he did know of one case of the pox in Dalri, and that it was supposed that the pox had spread from the nearby vill of Bogue, where they had several more cases. Both of these vills were in the neighbouring parish and the Church of St. Lasar could be found outside the vill of Bogue, making it a likely candidate for the next stop on their search.

II – THE MONKS OF SAINT LASAR’S KIRK:

Rather than go the more travelled way to Dalri and thence to Bogue, the three investigators decided to cut across country directly to the church. They passed through the fields of Trevercarcou and into the Galloway woods, emerging again in the late afternoon on the outskirts of the sleepy vill of Bogue. There was not a soul to be seen, but the low of cattle and the smoke drifting out of the thatched roofs attested to the presence of people. They had been told that the Church of St. Lasar was on the far side of the vill, and so they marched up the slope toward it. When they passed through the gate in the dry-stone wall they noted several gravestones surrounding an old stone sepulchre, close under the eves of the woods. On the opposite side of the church a brown-robed figure moved about, swinging his arm as if sprinkling holy water. Seeing that this was likely the monk who attended to the church, they approached and announced themselves.

BROTHER ERLEND: (speaking in his unexpectedly high-pitched voice) ‘Greetings, brother, and good Maundy Thursday to you.’
The monk that he addressed seemed quite taken aback. He had not expected to see strangers, and particularly such unsettling strangers as the magisterial Thomas and the very large Brother Erlend with the very small voice. He ran his fingers through his hair, which was cropped in the fashion of the Celtic tonsure, from ear to ear over the top of the head. His hair was grey, but with dark roots. He had a few large moles on his face and looked to be in his fifties.

ERLEND: ‘I am brother Erlend of Ken Muir. We have just now travelled from Trevercarcou and I have something of some urgence to discuss with you, if you may.’
PRIEST: ‘Ehhh, yes? Greetings. I am Brother Tancredus. It is cool outside in this drizzle. Shall we go into the church and you can explain further?’
ERLEND: ‘Yes, let us do that.’

Brother Tancredus led the way into the small church which seemed to be quite well kept. The building was made of stone with a wooden roof. The beam and trim consisted of rather delicately carved woodwork depicting scenes of heaven, hell, and the crusade. The woodwork appeared to be quite regularly polished. The alter at the far end of the church was made of three simple slabs of stone [GM Note: successful local knowledge roll revealed this to be Craignair granite from near Botel on the river Urr]. The altar was draped by a simple cloth with words of prayer on it. Behind the alter was a small, gold-plated tabernacle and above this hung the polished wooden crucifix. Attached to the crucifix was the ceramic figure of Jesus, whose glazed figure seemed to be sweating in the candlelight. The hair, eyes, and stigmata were painted on in fine detail. Behind this was a boarded over window with a crude, almost childlike image painted on it of a knight delivering homage to Jesus outside of a castle.

Another monk worked at the far side of the church, sweeping. He was younger, had darker hair and a pronounced hump on his back. He glanced over as the others came in and Thomas noted that he had the face of a simpleton. Upon catching the disturbing eye of the mage, however, the monk looked quickly away again.
TANCREDUS: (gesturing to the sweeping monk) ‘Brother Noilus, who keeps our house of God so clean… The mother house of Iona has provided him as a caretaker.’
ERLEND: (shouting across to the sweeping monk) ‘Ah. Greetings. I am brother Erlend of Ken Muir’
The monk merely nodded quickly and engaged in more vigorous sweeping.

Erlend then turned his attention back to Tancredus and explained how they had found the body of a young girl washed up on the bank of the river near Ken Muir, and how this body had the pox. They mentioned that they had heard that there had been a pox, perhaps still was, in the nearby village of Bogue. Tancredus admitted that there had been, and that it still lingered in the form of two cases who were now quarantined in a cottage on the edge of the village. They seemed to be on the road to recovery, thanks to his penitent care and frequent prayer, but a few of the villagers had died including a young lass by the name of Eileen.

CORWYNN: ‘That must be the one whose body was washed up on the banks of the river Ken.’

The sound of a clatter from across the church interrupted this conversation. Everyone looked over to see Brother Noilus pick up his broom from where he had dropped it.

TANCREDUS: ’I’m not sure what you mean, my son.’
CORWYNN: ‘Aye, we found a young lass washed up on the riverbank, of about fifteen years of age and three weeks dead of the pox. We have been searching the local villages to see where this body might have come from, and our trail has led us here.’
TANCREDUS: ‘A dreadful story indeed, but I’m afraid it can be no more than a coincidence.’
ERLEND: ‘Can we see poor Eileen’s grave?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Aye, aye. Most certainly – follow me, please.’

Tancredus led Thomas and Erlend out of the church and around the west side of the yard toward the burial plots. The first thing they noticed as they approached the graveyard was the presence of a large dry-stone sepulchre with sloped walls and a flat top. This had a plaque mounted on the front with the words ‘Hic iacet Gilbothius Araniae Vivo et Mori’ inscribed on the face of it. This was clearly the memorial stone of Gilbothyn of Arran, the church’s benefactor. Perched above this was a large vertical stone with an incised cross. Arrayed in front of the sepulchre were several graves marked with simple crosses. Some of the older ones were marked with similar slabs of stone with incised crosses to that of Gilbothyn, but most had a simple wooden cross driven into the ground.

Four of the graves seemed fresh.

TANCREDUS: ‘…and as I was saying you’ll probably have to take your search elsewhere, as we’re all accounted for here, including poor Eileen.’
ERLEND: ‘Which one of these is Eileen’s grave?’
TANCREDUS: (smugly waving his hand) ‘This one over here.’

There lay what appeared to be a fresh grave with a newly sprouted spring grass and a patch of newly flowering narcissus growing upon it. Erlend examined the name crudely written on the cross and confirmed that it did indeed say Eileen. He knelt and uttered a brief prayer for the departed.
Tancredus nattered on.

TANCREDUS: ‘Tell me brother, are you of the Columban order?’
ERLEND: ‘Er, no. I’m not currently affiliated.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Not affiliated? Are you a preaching canon or a monk?’
ERLEND: ‘A monk.’
TANCREDUS: ‘A hermit, then?’
ERLEND: ‘You could say that. I’m currently attending the Ken Muir community. I was until recently a member of the Céli Dé, and I have chosen not to become one of the Canons.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Well, I can sympathize. The new ways are not always the best ways is what I always say. Are you a man of philosophy, perhaps?’
ERLEND: ‘Philosophy? No. I would say I’m a man of science.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Science? Hmmm. Are they not one in the same? Have you perhaps heard about Pythagoras?’
ERLEND: ‘Naturally!’

Tancredus then proceeded to rattle of a long quotation which he attributed to Pythagoras. Erlend, however, knew his Pythagoras and could tell that Tancredus didn’t, in fact, know of which he spoke. He seemed earnest enough, though, and so Erlend decided to spare him the embarrassment of correcting him.

ERLEND: ‘Oh. That must be one of the more obscure theories which I have not yet been made aware of.’
TANCREDUS: (encouraged and liking to show off) ‘Indeed it is. You see I’ve had the good fortune in my time to travel as far as Constantinople and peeked into some of the world’s best libraries. If you had been a man of philosophy, I would happily discuss with you…’
ERLEND: (not willing to let Tancredus get totally way with this) ‘There are many theories attributed to Pythagoras which are not always his. One must always be cautious when reading supposedly Pythagorean theories.’
TANCREDUS: (backing off) ‘Indeed, that is most wise. In any case, since you have not found the information that you seek concerning this missing woman…’
THOMAS THE MAGE: ‘Let us not be so hasty, brother. I don’t think that we took the time to properly describe the appearance of this girl to you.’
Thomas proceeded to describe in detail the appearance of the young girl that had been found, omitting only the mutilations on the body.
TANCREDUS: “Well, that could describe just about any lassie, to be honest. Anyway, I wasn’t trying to be hasty. Far from it. In fact, I was going to suggest you fine men spend the night. Our benefactor Gilbothyn has left us with a fine manse which has plenty of room for guests.’

Meanwhile, back in the church, Corwynn, was feeling suspicious of the hunch-backed brother, Noilus, and lingered behind to keep an eye on him. It wasn’t long, however, before Noilus ceased his brisk sweeping, propped his broom gently against the wall, and scuttled out of the door. Corwynn followed him. Noilus, not seeming to notice Corwynn, crept around the side of the church to the far corner and listened in on the conversation that brother Tancredus and Erlend were having. Corwynn snuck up behind him and simply observed. Erlend and Tancredus continued their conversation.

THOMAS: ‘Brother Erlend, have you seen enough here? Would you like to press on to Dalri tonight, or take advantage of Brother Tancredus’ offer of lodging.’
ERLEND: ‘Actually, I was going to offer my modest healing skills to the brother here. Perhaps I could accompany you to see the remaining pox victims?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Oh, why yes, that would be most welcome. I go every afternoon to see to their needs, bringing food and offering prayer,’
ERLEND: ‘Have you tried leeching?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Leeching? Dear brother Erlend, I’m afraid leeching is much frowned upon by the intelligentsia of Constantinople these days.’
ERLEND: ‘What about bleeding? Have you tried bleeding?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Even more frowned upon, my son, as being in fact only a more severe form of leeching. But no worries, I think my two charges are on the road to recovery now, so whatever my humble self is doing for them seems to have worked. Come. See for yourself.’
THOMAS: (looking around and spotting Noilus near the corner of the church) ‘You two brothers go ahead. I’ll go and find Corwynn and catch up to you later.’

Thomas turned to walk back toward the church and headed straight for brother Noilus, who was now trying to look nonchalant by picking weeds. Seeing the rather disturbing figure of Thomas [GM Note: Mundane people and animals typically find those with the gift of magic subtly disturbing] now striding confidently toward him, Noilus rapidly picked up all of the weeds he had freshly plucked and turned to go in the opposite direction. It was then that he noticed Corwynn for the first time standing behind him; he dropped his weeds in a panic, uttered a wordless cry, and dodged around Corwynn and ran back around to the front of the church. Thomas approached Corwynn.

THOMAS: ‘How long was he listening to us?’
CORWYNN: ‘The entire time.’

IIIBROTHER NOILUS:

They discussed Noilus further but came to no other conclusion than that there was something not quite right about him. They agreed they didn’t trust him and would continue to keep an eye on him in the future. Then they discussed the grave itself and Thomas decided he would take advantage of moment alone to cast a spontaneous magic spell to determine if there was in fact a body buried under Eileen’s grave.

[GM Note: It was decided that the effect of this spontaneous spell that Thomas wanted to cast would resemble an Intellego-Corporem spell of the first magnitude (level 5, the lowest level). Thomas decided to expend a level of fatigue. He rolled a simple D10 modified by his TECHNIQUE+FORM+INT, less 2 for the divine aura of the churchyard. This gave him a total of 12, which was divided by 2 for it being a spontaneous spell cast with effort (fatigue loss). Thomas’ total was therefor 6, which was sufficient to beat the target of 5.]

Thomas cast the spell, which to Corwynn looked like little more than hand waving and mumbling. After a few moments, he turned to Corwynn.

THOMAS: ‘There is no body in this grave….’
CORWYNN: ‘LOOK OUT!’

Thomas dove to the side just a the large slab of stone with the incised cross that had been mounted on top of the sepulchre crashed to the ground. The stone fell with a thud and broke into several pieces, but luckily Thomas remained intact.

Corwynn then heard the sound of bushes crashing from the far side of the sepulchre, and being a man of action he took off in hot pursuit. He chased the shadowy figure into the woods and stayed hot on his heels as he dodged shrubs and hopped over logs and moss-strewn boulders. Finally he came to a burn which was rather steeply cut into the landscape, and that’s where he found the simple monk Noilus. Trapped by the burn, Noilus looked around in panic and then turned to face his pursuer. He bent down and picked up a stout branch up off the ground and held it, hand shaking, in front of him.

CORWYNN: (using his most commanding voice) ‘Put that stick down and come with me!’
NOILUS: ‘Ouuwaaaou!’ was the wordless cry from the desperate monk.

Noilus then dodged around a tree to the right and tried to run along the river. Corwynn reacted immediately by lashing out with his quarter-staff. [GM Note: Corwynn rolled a 1 on the stress die to hit, allowing him to re-roll and double the result. His total was 26, and the damage was sufficient to drop Noilus by three body levels in one blow, a maiming hit!] Corwynn hit the monk with such force that he could hear the snap of the bone in his ankle breaking as he tried to run. Thrown off balance, Noilus spun as if in slow motion and, for a split second, his terrified eyes met Corwynn’s before he tumbled down into deep cut of the burn. Corwynn rushed to the edge of the burn and peered down to see the monk’s still body sprawled out below on the rocks, his neck bent at an unnatural angle, eyes staring at the tree-tops.

Finally Thomas caught up and quickly took in the scene.
THOMAS: ‘Corwynn! What happened?’
CORWYNN: ‘He.. he tried to flee. I swung my staff at him, but he lost his balance and fell. I’m afraid he’s dead!’
THOMAS: ‘This is an ill tiding!’
CORWYNN: ‘He would have been hung anyway! He tried to assault a noble!’
THOMAS: ‘Be that as it may, this will be difficult to explain.’

Meanwhile, Tancredus and Erlend were at the house of Anna and Maighread, the mother and daughter who still had the pox. Erlend examined the two women cursorily and could see that they did both indeed have the pox. The daughter, Maighread seemed to be further along the road to recover, but it seemed that danger had passed and neither would die. From what he could tell Tancredus was doing everything in his ability to help them recover. The two brothers lingered together to say a prayer for the two women, then left the hovel to walk back toward the church together.

TANCREDUS: ‘How long have you been at Ken Muir? It is a relatively new community, is it not?’
ERLEND: ‘Indeed. I have only been frequenting the place for the past year, and as my travels take me all over Galloway I am not always there, but I do what I can. They have a rather modest library there and the brothers of Ken Muir have asked me to try to help them expand it a little.’
TANCREDUS: “OH! A library, you say? Oh, I’m most interested in libraries. I have a far too modest one of my own. What sort of books do they have?’
ERLEND: ‘Well, it is modest, as I say. They have a little something on chirurgy and the fey, and a treatise on the finer points of joinery. Perhaps if you are interested I could arrange for an exchange?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Oh, indeed. It has been a while since I’ve seen new books. I had many in Constantinople but I have scant few with me these days. I had quite a collection when I was at Iona, but the abbot did not see eye to eye with me and confiscated several of my books for being too modern. In fact, I even wrote a book of my own, though that was taken, too. Have you perchance heard of the Guide to the Perplexed?’
ERLEND: ‘I have heard of this book. It is by Mamonides, is it not? Alas, I have not read it.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Well, there you go, then. Perhaps I could borrow one and transcribe it? Do you transcribe or illuminate books, yourself?’

Before Erlend could answer they arrived at the church to see Thomas and Corwynn there. Corwynn held the lifeless body of Noilus in his arms. Brother Erlend saw the two of them first.
ERLEND: ‘Oh no. That doesn’t look good at all.’
TANCREDUS: (turning his gaze to the two men standing by the church door) ‘What is that? But that looks like…’
THOMAS: (striding forward and looking purposefully at Tancredus, then saying through clenched teeth) ‘There is something rotten in this village… brother.’

Tancredus, alarmed by Thomas’s commanding demeanour and disconcerting magical gift, backed away a step.

THOMAS: ‘As I stood by the grave of Eileen communing with the Lord, a divine vision was granted to me communicating to me that the body of that poor girl is not in that grave. And as I communicated this fact to my man, Corwynn, here, the very cross from the sepulchre was cast down by none other than brother Noilus and it smote the ground at my feet. Corwynn gave chase and followed him to the burn, where he was forced to strike out with his staff…’
TANCREDUS: ‘Noilus!’
THOMAS: ‘…whereupon he fell to his divinely decreed death.’
TANCREDUS: (rushing over to where Corwynn now laid Noilus on the ground) ‘Noilus! My faithful son!’
Noilus’ simple face now looked to be at peace.
THOMAS: ‘Noilus tried to kill me!’

Tancredus broke into tears and stroked the head of the dead novice.

CORWYNN: ‘Father, he fell down the burn embankment as I gave chase, which was probably better than the hanging he would have received for attacking a lord.”
TANCREDUS: ’No! Noooo! This can’t be right!’
ERLEND: ‘Lord, goodness!’
CORWYNN: ‘Why would he have attacked just at the moment that my lord said there was no body in the grave?’
TANCREDUS: ‘It must have been a accident…’
THOMAS: ‘There was no accident’
TANCREDUS: ’ …he was probably just trying to clean it. He was a fanatic about cleaning…’
THOMAS: ‘Nonsense!’
TANCREDUS: ‘No, it’s not nonsense. Look at the woodwork in the church – it’s polished to a high gloss…
THOMAS: ‘Perhaps it is you….Brother Erlend, I have my concerns about brother Trancredus here!’
ERLEND: ‘He seems honest enough to me!’
THOMAS: ‘Well, the devil may come in pleasant guise!’
ERLEND: (taking advantage of Tancredus’ distraction with the corpse and leaning forward to whisper in Thomas’ ear) ‘Magus, I did notice earlier in the church that Noilus did cross himself at the mention of the dead body.’
ERLEND: (seeking to test Tancredus’ knowledge of scripture) ‘Brother, I would dutifully assist you with the preparations for good Noilus’ funeral. Which passages would you like me to prepare for the mass?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Why do you bother with these trivialities!?’ [GM Note: Tancredus rolled a 1 on the stress die, indicating a re-roll and double the result, which ended up being 20. He answered this question with a level of detail Erlend had not expected. Tancredus, it seemed, knew his scripture.]
ERLEND: ‘Very well, I shall assist you in any way I can, brother.’

IV – CONFRONTING BROTHER TANCREDUS:

As Tancredus wept over the body of Noilus, Crowynn went to retreive a shovel. He found one in a shed located beside the manse, and then returned to the others. It was then that he noticed some villagers arriving at the church gate. He marched out to meet these villagers and Thomas met him there, while Tancredus and Erlend carried Noilus’ body into the church.

Thomas spoke to the villagers, first introducing himself and then explaining that there would be no evening service for a Maundy Thursday. He also told them that brother Noilus had had an accident and was now dead. Since it was late, he reassured them that that the funeral would be on the morrow, and asked them to come back then.

Thomas and Corwynn then marched into the church and found the two brothers laying out Noilus on a cloth on the church floor. They marched up to where Tancredus was arranging the body and stood before him. Corwynn let the metal end of the shovel fall to the ground with a clank to get Tancredus’ attention.

THOMAS: ‘Brother. We must get to the bottom of this now. Come with me.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Wh….’
THOMAS: (imperiously) ‘Come with me.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Who are you to be telling me hat to do in my own church!?’
THOMAS: ‘I am Thomas fitz Roy, nephew of Hugh de Morville of Borgue. Our community of Ken Muir has been established under the auspices King Uchtred.’
TANCREDUS: ‘What is that to me? You are not my lord!’
THOMAS: ‘Well, at present we have a foully disinterred body and a grave with no body in it. We need to determine if the facts are as you claim or if there is something more untoward afoot.’
TANCREDUS: ‘I cannot believe what I’m hearing! That grave has fresh grass over it! How can ye claim there is no body within?’
THOMAS: ‘There is also the business of the narcissus growing over that grave and none other.’
TANCREDUS: ‘It grows in the woods!’
CORWYNN: ‘There is also the question of brother Noilus’ condition.’
TANCREDUS: (understandably on the defensive) ‘Condition!? He’s Dead!’
CORWYNN: ‘Yes, but is he dead because of an accident or because a grave crime has been committed?’
TANCREDUS: ’I’m asking myself the same question!’
CORWYNN: ‘Well, the answer lies within a few feet of us. Come and we will investigate.’
TANCRDEUS: ‘The answer lies with God, and none other!’
THOMAS: ‘God has already revealed to me that the grave is empty. We seek merely to prove it to you, so come with us. Unless you are a man of no faith…’
TANCREDUS: ‘What are you suggesting! Dig up the grave?! Blasphemy! Brother Erlend, you must help me! I don’t understand what these men are accusing me of!’
ERLEND: ‘I do not like the idea of digging up the grave, but I can assure you that if there is a mistake I will do everything in my power to reconsecrate the grave and make sure these despoilers are forgiven by God.’ [GM Note: At this point Erlend was asked to roll his Presence+skill to encourage the priest to go out to the grave. He added his pious personality trait to push him into success territory] ’I’ve never known one of Magister Thomas’ hunches to be wrong.’
TANCREDUS: ‘Very well, I cannot condone it but is seems there is little to be done. I will witness this travesty, but in protest!’

The four of them went outside and Corwynn thrust the shovel into the fresh patch of narcissus over the grave and began to dig. Tancredus stood despondently by, refusing to look at the grave or to meet anyone’s gaze. Time passed; the nighttime clouds alternately obscured and revealed the stars as if to mark time. Soon enough Corwynn was up to his head the hole he had dug. There was no sign of a body.

CORWYNN: ’I’m hitting stone here. How deep did you dig her?’

There was no reaction from Tancredus; He merely stared at his feet. Thomas took this to be a sign of guilt.

THOMAS: ‘Brother, do you concede that there is no body in this grave?’ I think you’d best come back to Ken Muir to identify the body so that we can give her a proper burial.’
ERLEND: (trying to lighten the moment) ‘Oh, and we can give you books!’

There was silence for a moment.
TANCREDUS: (speaking slowly and very quietly) ‘Did you not already bury the girl, Erlend?’
ERLEND: (pausing a long time before answering) ‘Yes.’
TANCREDUS: (still quietly) ‘And you would dig her up again?’
ERLEND: (trying to cover up) ‘Well, it was a hasty burial, sanctified but temporary…’
THOMAS: (changing the subject) ‘Never mind that. What happened to the body in this grave? Who dug her up?’
TANCREDUS: (ignoring Thomas) ‘I have a flock here. I am NOT going to KEN MUIR!’ With that, he turned and started to walk back toward the church with as much dignity as he could muster.

The three travelers stood at the grave for a moment before Corwynn started to fill it in once again.

THOMAS: ‘See. I told you. No body.’
CORWYNN: ’It’s like Erlend said – Magister Thomas’ hunches are always right. [GM Note: Corwynn will spread this around the Grog turb, giving Thomas a level 1 reputation of ‘Good Hunches’ amongst the grogs]
ERLEND: ‘Yes, well, I have something to attend to. Since it is late, I will also inform brother Tancredus that we will be spending then night.’
THOMAS: (expressing a more sober second thought after realizing his evidence was slim) ‘Brother, perhaps you could convey our apologies to brother Tancredus. This has not been a pleasant day for any of us – in fact it’s been a most difficult day. Please try to impress upon him that the issue of the body has been most pressing, and my divinely inspired vision had me convinced that the body which washed up upon our shores is indeed the girl from this village. Tell him that we are still rather concerned that brother Noilus was up to something nefarious, but if he assures us that brother Noilus was indeed simple and not be capable of such a thing we will take him at his word, and perhaps tomorrow will bring gladder tidings. There. That ought to do it. I’d tell him myself, but I don’t think he likes me anymore.’

Erlend then took his leave of the other two. He followed Tancredus and as he rounded the church he could see Tancredus speaking to several villagers in front of the church. Erlend stuck to the shadows and listened as best he could, and overheard Tancredus field questions about the death of Noilus and the protocol for worship over the coming day and who the strangers were. Tancredus’ answers seemed innocuous enough, so Erlend let them be and slipped around the back of the manse.

On the other side he found two doors. The first led to a largely empty and meticulously clean bedchamber – presumably the one available for guests. The other door led into the priests’ room. In here were two beds, clearly for Tancredus and Noilus. The room was tidy and relatively spare. Tancredus’ library was evident, though, and since this is what Erlend had hoped to take a peek at he headed straight for it. There were only four books, two of which were in a foreign script that Erlend could not read. The other two, however, were written in latin. One was a European copy of the Consolatio Philosophiae by Boethius, a well known book. The other was less well known; an illuminated copy of Scala Paradisi by Ioan Climacus. Erlend flipped through the pages and discovered some magnificent representations of monks climbing at ladder to heaven – some falling into temptation. He made a mental note of this and then turned to the foreign language books. Unfortunately neither was illuminated and he could learn no more from them.

Erlend left the manse and entered the church where he found Tancredus on the floor, kneeling beside the body of his erstwhile companion and friend, Noilus, in fervent but silent prayer.

ERLEND: (approaching Tancredus across the church floor) ‘Brother Tancredus, it is with a heavy heart that I request to participate in the funeral tomorrow.’

Tancredus looked up a Erlend, his eyes ringed with red sorrow.
TANCREDUS: ‘Brother Erlend, that was a disgraceful display in the churchyard. You surely must agree.
ERLEND: ’I do, but you must also agree that no body was found, and so consequently there has been no sin of exhumation. At least… not by us. Will you join me in praying that the souls of our recently departed be transferred unto the care of god?’
TANCREDUS: ‘Yes. I will sit vigil tonight over Noilus, who was my novice and my friend. You are welcome to join me.’
ERLEND: (without hesitation) ‘Yes, I will join you. My companions have placed their belongings in the guest room, so I am now free.’
Tancredus did not react to this, and the two then spent the night in silent prayer.

Thomas and Corwynn retired to the guest chamber for the night while the two monks sat up in silent vigil for the dead.

In the wee hours, when the birds started to sing but the sun had not yet risen. Tancredus rose and went out into the church yard. Erlend watched him as he traversed the yard, sprinkling holy water in blessing about the place. Erlend thought this odd but said nothing to Tancredus. When Tancredus returned he informed Erlend that he would now retire to get some sleep before the funeral. Erlend asked if he should continue to keep vigil, and Tancredus replied that he was sure Noilus would appreciate it.

When morning came, Thomas woke Corwynn and the two observed that Erlend had not slept in his bed. They strode into the church to find Erlend alone and praying over the body. He told them of Tancredus’ strange morning ritual and that he still intended to assist with Noilus’ funeral. They told him that they would watch the body and suggested he get some sleep before the service, and so Erlend retired to the guest room for some much needed sleep. Rather than watch the body, though, Thomas and Corwynn decided to descend to the village of Bogue to see if they could gather any information from the villagers.

They entered the village. Knowing that Thomas’ magical gift usually unsettled people, their plan was for Corwynn to do most of the talking. He approached one of the young lasses in the village and began to question her, but didn’t get much from her until she was quite reassured he wasn’t a vagrant.

They discovered that Tancredus had been the local priest for quite a few years, but that Noilus had only been resident at the church for a only a few years. Apparently Noilus was not well liked in the village. Perhaps it was his ugliness or his simple nature, but the local people didn’t much like or respect him. Despite this, they expressed remorse at his demise. Now that the spectre of the man was gone, sympathy for him was easier for them to express. They learned nothing special about the deceased girl, Eileen. She was well enough liked in the village, but the locals seemed to accept the finalities of life with aplomb.

Corwynn spent the rest of his time trying to impress her with his status as knight in waiting [GM Note: This emerged in play as something of a delusion on Corwynn’s part – he aspires to knighthood and the rest of the grogs lead him on, suggesting such a thing is possible. Perhaps in the 12th century such a thing still is].

END SESSION

HISTORICAL NOTE:
At this time in Galloway the local churches of Glen Ken were attributed to Iona Abbey and run by monks from there. Iona was the heart of the ancient Columban Church which was slowing losing ground in Britain to the Roman Catholic Church. The deanery of Glen Ken falls under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Galloway, which itself is loyal and subservient to the Archdiocese of York. I have not seen it written anywhere whether the local churches would follow Columban or Roman ways, but I can imagine there would have been a certain amount of confusion and conflict. One of the main points of difference between the two churches is in the calculation of the dates of Easter, and since this adventure takes place at Easter it is only natural that some confusion over rites and dates be a feature of the scenario – hence the local peasants showing up to ask about which services will be held when and some confusion on the part of Tancredus about protocol.

Adventure Log

View
Maundy Thursday, March 25 1171 AD
First Council of Mages, 1171

On this New Year’s Day of 1171 AD a council of mages was held at the Covenant of Ken Muir. In attendance were Raderic mac Gillolaine, Thomas fitz Roy, and Medigas of Florence. Raderic called the meeting to order and introduced his first item of news.

RADERIC: ‘I have recently had a letter from a scoloc acquaintance of mine at Kirkcudbright. It seems there is much talk in that community and at the court of Uchtred mac Fergusa of the brazen murder of Thomas Becket (who, as you know, is the Archbishop of Canterbury). It is said that Hugh de Morville of Westmorland, brother of Richard de Morville of Cunningham, is one of the four men accused. Is that not one of your kinsmen, Thomas?’
THOMAS FITZ ROY: ‘What?! Yes, indeed, he is, though not one I am close to. Did you hear any more details? I remember Hugh as being rather rash and idealistic, but nevertheless I find this news surprising.’
RADERIC: ‘No, that is all the letter says, for he then goes on at length to talk about his studies. This reminds me that our own library is rather poor. We should press Brother Erlend Svensson to locate more manuscripts for us. In the meantime I will write back to my friend to ask for more information about the murder of the archbishop.’
THOMAS: ‘And I to my uncle, Hugh of Borg. He also recently sent me a letter, but it made no mention of this event.’
RADERIC: ‘What did he have to say, then?’
THOMAS: ‘Oh, matters of little import. He mentioned that King William of Scotland has recently granted the lands of the Levern Valley in Strathclyde to a Norman knight named Sir Robert Croc. On a more personal matter, he also mentioned that a distant cousin of mine, Claire de Blainville, has recently become a part of Walter de Berkeley’s court.’
RADERIC: ‘Walter de Berkely is King William’s chancelor, is he not? A prestigious position indeed.’
MEDIGAS OF FLORENCE: ‘Thomas, if you will write to your uncle, then may I also have you ask a question on my behalf?’
THOMAS: ‘Certainly. What is it?’
MEDIGAS: ‘Well, you will recall that we recently had a guest, a Flemish merchant contact of mine, Boudewyn de Brugge. He was the one who brought that fine Venetian glassware for the lab. Well, he mentioned in passing that he had heard that Gillebrigte, lord of Western Galloway, was taking advantage of the strife in Ireland to recruit Irish gallowglaigh(soldiers of fortune). He also mentioned, briefly, that there was a stranger staying at Cruggledum Castle, Gillebrigte’s stronghold, named Albrechtus Luteus, whom he took to be an Italian. He seemed to be something of a loner. No one in the court seemed to know who he was, other than Gillebrigte himself, who wasn’t talking. I’m curious to know more about this Italian – largely because I don’t like surprises.’
THOMAS: ‘Interesting. I will put the bug in my uncle’s ear and see what he has to say about this. I dislike Gillebrigte, and am not keen on the idea he may be recruiting soldiers. Though speaking of this, my man William of Furness keeps reminding me that our covenant is understaffed by Weardmenn (as he likes to call Grogs). He says that even finding another four or five would help take some of the pressure off the rest and allow them to get more sleep. For example, he mentioned that one of the pigs apparently got into the root cellar and stole a number of vegetables, and if we had has more men on watch then it might not have happened. It is my hope that William will learn take care of these things on his own, but he always just seems to want to defer these daily nuisances to me.’
RADERIC: ‘Speaking of the root cellar, I have had a body placed in it this morning.’
THOMAS AND MEDIGAS: ‘What!?’
RADERIC: ‘Yes, Pol, one of the pig-keepers, was down by the river Ken north of the covenant early this morning. He just got back only a few moments ago claiming he saw a body washed up on the riverbank “what had an evil look about it”, whatever that means. I instructed him to go and get it and bring it back for us to examine.’
MEDIGAS: ‘You had it put in the root cellar, though? Well, I’ve had enough of turnips anyway.’
THOMAS: ’I’m not sure we have any turnips left, thanks to the pigs!’
MEDIGAS: ‘Well, clearly this is something we must attend to right away. I have one other order of business that might be equally urgent, however, and that is to report that several sheep have gone missing from their pasture up near the Rig of Drumbuie. Peadar, the shepherd boy, thinks the problem might be a pack of wolves from the other side of the Deil’s Dyke and asks that a troop of Grogs be sent to track them down and kill them.’
RADERIC: ‘That does sound distressing. If the pigs are our bread, then the sheep are our butter and we must protect them. But I think the presence of this body is a risk both more immediate and closer to home. Let us go down now and investigate.’
THOMAS AND MEDIGAS: ‘Agreed!’

The three mages went down to the root cellar where Pol had placed the body, wrapped in a woolen blanket. They brought it up into the daylight and Thomas leaned down to examine it. He cast a spontaneous Intellego-Corporem spell of the first magnitude to assist him. It was the body of a girl of about 15 years. She had brown hair and pock-marked skin, suggesting disease. Her body was mutilated and several of her organs had been removed, but there was no sign of violence or resistance. She was obviously mutilated after death. He thought about trying to reach the soul of the victim to question her directly, but the victim had already been given a Christian burial, preventing such divination magics.

RADERIC: ‘If she has been exhumed, then I would propose that an answer to this mystery might lie upstream at one of the vills – perhaps at Trevercarcou, Dalri, or Polmaddy. Bogue also seems a possibility since they have a churchyard there. Unfortunately I cannot go, as I have things to attend to here. Thomas, would you go?’
THOMAS: ‘I suppose, though I am not nearly so popular with the peasants as you are.’
MEDIGAS: ‘Well, I certainly can’t go. I’m in the middle of important research.’
RADERIC: ‘Thomas, what better way to become acquainted with the peasants? Anyway, I propose that we send Brother Erlend with you. He understands the locals and can deal with the local priests, should your investigations lead you to a churchyard. Take as many grogs as you need.’
MEDIGAS: ‘I agree that if you can’t go yourself, Raderic, that this is the best plan. Meanwhile, I think this issue of the wolves threatening the sheep is minor enough that the grogs can handle it alone. I’ll have my consorti Éovan Auditore da Firenze assemble a team to head up to the pastures to see if they can root out the beasts. I think he’s eager to stretch his legs after being cooped up all winter.’
THOMAS: ‘Very well. I’ll have William or Ranyart Finn put together a team of grogs for the investigative mission. Perhaps while we are at it we might find some additional grogs for our own dear covenant. That way we could kill two birds with one stone. While they prepare the mission, I’ll just nip upstairs to quill that letter for my uncle…’
MEDIGAS: ‘And I must return to the lab after I speak to Éovan. Good luck.’

END COUNCIL

GM NOTES:
This being the first session, the news items were provided by the GM – three to each player. The players were free to introduce them during the session or not. Some news items were listed as ‘historical’ which meant that they would occur whether mentioned or not. The remaining items, if not mentioned by the player, would simply not occur at that time, but might reappear on a future player info sheet. Players are free to introduce their own topics, too, but this being the first session none came to mind.

It was decided to deal with two of the news items proactively: the finding of the body and the threat of the wolves. The teams of characters to tackle each were selected based on who had the most suitable skills. The companion Brother Erlend seemed a natural choice to handle the mysterious body mission given his role as a member of the clergy. The mage Raderic also seemed a good choice because he speaks Gaelic and has good relations with local peasants. However, both of those characters are played by the same player, so it was decided that only one of them should go. The mage Thomas was selected instead, and since he has a good ability with Corporem spells, this is not a bad choice. The remaining characters will be martial characters, either companions or grogs.

For the mission concerning the wolves, it was decided that the companion Éovan could lead several grogs. It doesn’t seem an important enough mission to reguire a mage.

Adventure Log

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.