On the morning of June 25, A.D. 1171, Thomas fitz Roy looked glumly across the table at Medigas of Florence.
THOMAS: ‘There are three mages in this covenant, so there should be three present at the council, should there not?’
MEDIGAS: ‘Raderic mac Gillolaine likely still sleeps. You know he hasn’t been well and likely spent much of the night coughing. Perhaps we should start without him. I have something brewing and would like to get back to it.’
THOMAS: ‘Yes, let us start.’ Thomas stood up and put his hand over his chest, winking at Medigas. ‘I, Thomas, have news for the council!’ he said, loudly and formally, as if addressing a room full of people.’
Medigas hid his smile behind his sleeve. Thomas continued in a normal voice.
THOMAS: ‘When last we met, you’ll recall that it was resolved that I would send a letter to my uncle, Hugh de Morville, to ask about the news of the kingdom and particularly about these Irish that are now attending the court of Gille Brigte mac Fergusa. I have now had a reply, not from my uncle directly, as he is away in the south, but from his factor, Martin de Kendall. You will recall the Italian traveller, Albrechtus Luteus who was at Gille Brigte’s court? Apparently, the man has left for the Rhinns in the west, and may be visiting Peter the boat-builder, Warlock of Innermessan. If true, this may warrant further investigation. I know little about this Peter the Boatbuilder. Do you?’
Medigas shook his head and looked like he was about to speak when there came the sound of feet shuffling on the steps outside. A second later the door creaked open and a breathless Raderic mac Gillolaine stumbled into the chamber. He looked pale as he walked over and leaned against the back of one of the chairs. After a fit of coughing, he addressed the other two magi.
RADERIC: ‘Forgive my disheveled state; the unholy water from Bogue that I tasted must have unbalanced my humours and made me frail. In my fever-dreams, I have heard voices (unbidden but not unwelcome) that spoke of Hugh de Morville – the other Hugh, not your uncle, Thomas – but the one who last week was accused of murdering the Archbishop of Canterbury so heinously. As we speak, King Henry’s men hunt de Morville across England and the Pope has excommunicated him. Now, I cannot be certain that my dreams were truth, but among the voices I heard, one was undoubtedly Prior William of Whitherne. He was instructing a delegation of monks to investigate the churches of Ken Valley, advising them on devilish signs of which they should be alert.’
Raderic paused again to cough, and then wiped his sleeve across his mouth before continuing.
RADERIC: Though I was too sick yesterday to contemplate these recent events, it occurred to me this morning (while leeching my throat) that our covenant might be in a precarious position. Hugh de Morville is a favoured courtier in London, so even if the Pope has threatened interdiction against England, King Henry might find Hugh innocent. Of course, the Pope would demand a scapegoat. Even now, Prior William is uttering warnings of the devilish sorcery which compelled de Morville to murder the Archbishop. Having been the target of a witch-hunt myself not long ago, I have seen firsthand how idle speculation can lead to mass hysteria. As practitioners of magic, we should remain cautious in our dealing with the church, and do our utmost to further relationships with our noble benefactors. Which brings me to my next point…
Raderic produced a tattered letter from his satchel.
RADERIC: ‘This message arrived during my morning ablutions, delivered by a peasant from Trevercarcou. As it happens, Uchtred mac Fergusa dispatched a messenger to Ken Muir nearly a fortnight ago, but the poor man couldn’t find our hidden vill, so he left his errand with the local villagers. Uchtred has requested a mage to visit Kirkcudbright as soon as possible. Remember, my friends: we are obliged to provide our generous patron with annual mage-service, as rent for the land he has gifted us. Uchtred’s letter says nothing about the nature of the summons, therefore I cannot recommend any one of us three whose specialties would be best suited to this mission. Thomas would be the obvious choice, because of his relationship with Uchtred, but I understand that Thomas has fallen behind on his research and might therefore prefer to remain at Ken Muir. Nevertheless, I would urge us to answer this summons with utmost haste!
THOMAS: ‘I agree, we should attend to this.’
RADERIC: ‘But as the letter does not say what task is required, I’m at a loss as to which of us should go. Perhaps we should draw straws.’
THOMAS: ‘Hmmm… I have already fallen well behind on my work due to the many unforeseen events of the spring…’
MEDIGAS: ‘It is true that Thomas was overly taxed this spring, what with the deviltry in Bogue, that business with the sheep, and the ongoing carpentry work. (Why did we not hire a carpenter who could speak Gaelic? Yes, I know, Thomas, it’s because the Normans are experts.) As for you, Raderic, you have not yet recovered your health, it seems. Perhaps, then, it is best that I go.’
RADERIC: ‘Oh yes? I do still feel a little shaky but I will make the sacrifice if you still have lab work to do.’
MEDIGAS: ‘Well, as much as I loath politics, and especially country politics, I feel I must pull my weight and this is most likely the most propitious time.’
RADERIC: ‘That is most gracious of you. Who would you take with you?’
MEDIGAS: ‘Well, someone who can help me with the local languages, to be sure. I still often have difficulty with the local phrasings. A trio of grogs should do – I was thinking of Corwynn mac Murchan, to start, because he has already met Uchtred and knows the locals well, and he has so far shown himself to be a capable man in a pinch. Perhaps Guillaume de Rouen, who can speak the Normand dialect, if we should need to, and one of my own men, Ugo perhaps, to act as a go-between. That should be sufficient as a delegation. If the nature of the mission dictates that we should need any others, then we can always send someone back to fetch more.’
THOMAS: ‘That sounds find to me, though I’m not sure you picked the most reliable grogs. Whatever.
Raderic, I was mentioning before you came in that I’ve had communication from Borg. It seems that mysterious Italian, Albrechtus Luteus, has gone to meet some warlock called Peter Boatbuilder.’
RADERIC: ‘Peter, the warlock of Innermessan? He is well west of here in the deanery of Rhinns. I’m sure this needn’t concern us. What else have you heard?’
THOMAS: ‘Erland has brought news of Bogue. Sylvanus, The abbot of Dundrennan Abbey, and William, Prior of St. Mary’s Isle, have been sent to St. Lasar’s kirk. Still, rumours of more disturbed graves continue, and there is apparently now pox in the vill of Polmaddy! Most disturbing tidings!’
RADERIC: ‘That is disturbing! Polmaddy is the vill where many of out covenfolk go for their church service when Erlend is not here. I hope they will not bring the pox back here with them! I’m not sure my health could take another hit right now.’
THOMAS: ‘I will see that everyone stays alert, lest it come this way.’
MEDIGAS: ‘I also have some news for the council. A merchant contact of mine mentioned to me some time ago that he encountered a strange boy in Monygof who was looking for an alchemical text. I don’t know much about Monygof, but it seems like a small place to house someone who would want such a book. The trader in question, one Raibert Caird asked if we had such a book and said he could trade a copy of the Aberdeen Bestiary for it.’
RADERIC: ‘I know this Raibert Caird. He’s not altogether trustworthy, in my view.’
THOMAS: ‘A bestiary would be a fine addition to our library, but I don’t need to point out that we don’t have an alchemical book to trade.’
MEDIGAS: ‘True, but maybe Erlend can obtain one for us. Anyway, I was mostly curious about who was asking for such a book in Monygof, and why.
RADERIC: ’That is a good and fair question. Perhaps this is worth investigating.’
MEDIGAS: ‘I was thinking that maybe Éovan and Erlend could make some enquiries amongst the local merchants. They strike me as a good team. They could take a grog, too.
THOMAS: ’Very well. Anything else?’
MEDIGAS: ‘Yes, one other thing, though it is not urgent. It has come to my attention that the the Lothair hills to the northeast of here are rich in lead. Now, I happen to know that where there is lead there is often also silver. I’d be interested in exploring a little up there to see what’s what. Silver would be a good source of income, and who knows, maybe there’s also gold to be found.’
THOMAS: ‘Would we not need to seek permission from Uchtred if we wanted to mine in those hills?
RADERIC: ’Those hills are outwith Galloway, and are held by Domnall mac Dunegal in the name of King William of Scotland.’
THOMAS: ‘And is he exploiting them for silver?’
RADERIC: ‘I know not.’
MEDIGAS: ‘Well, then, as I say – it would be worthwhile exploring. I will volunteer to go when I have free time, so long as nobody objects if I take a few grogs.’
THOMAS: ’Well, we should tread carefully, but perhaps with your earth skills we might be able to offer prospecting services to local nobles. We find the silver and set up the mines in exchange for a share. This could make us invaluable to the local nobles! I say it is well worth exploring this further in the future.
RADERIC: ’Agreed. Is there any further business for this session, then? No? We are adjourned, then.
GM NOTES – LAB WORK:
Medigas has embarked on a program of magical item creation. His goal is to create three linked items, one for each of the three magi of the covenant. For Thomas it is a signet ring, for Raderic an earring and for medigas spectacles. The idea being that these items would always be worn. He is still working on the properties of the items which will have to be limited or else he’ll never finish them in a timely manner. The main property is the ability to communicate with the other 2 members over any distance with visual auditory and tactile input (as per the 3 items eyes, ears, hands). He has an idea for a fourth item (gold tooth) but the opportunity may never arise unless another mage joins the covenant. For Raderic the secondary function would be an increase to health or stamina. For Thomas it would be a help to his presence or communication. For medigas it would be something to make his perception or intelligence keener.
Raderic is currently in the process of improving his Intellego form.
Thomas is between projects.