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.’
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.