Chapter 2: Back at the covenant

It is the same season. Make the investigations that you want and I just advance the story or if you all decide to walk home. After all this entire site has not turned into a source of demonic infestation...

The first day of the new season, Nestor assembles the grogs at dawn.

After giving a few last moment instructions to his followers on setting up his sanctum and their living quarters, Caput strolls over next to Nestor. He's in a fine hauberk of Italian-style mail, wearing an ornately carved and decorated buckler on his left wrist and a long, straight blade is rests on his right hip.

He looks bright and cheerful in spite of the early hour. "Time to sort out that infernal location? Did your Apprentice pass her tests for the season?"

"Opening the arts, not very exciting, you know how it is. She does alright. Thanks for waiting"

"I suggest we take one grogs each, a tough guy to shield us. We can also take one hunter to read tracks and one strong grog to hold a torch and carry stuff. If only I knew their names..."

Let's wait for another hour to see if anyone else will be joining us"

"I don't need a shield-grog for myself, as my best defense against most threats is my sword arm, but a tracker or porter could be useful. I've found it difficult to screen mundane companions against magical forces, so as a rule, I only use my trained soldiers in the Dominion, where such threats are less common and magic is more difficult. If it was just the two of us, I'd offer to screen you from physical threats myself, but given that it is likely several Magi will be present, we probably should have some warriors as well."

The two magi are soon joined by Amphora and her two grogs Nicola and Gavrail, the former dressed in his full battle kit and the latter hefting a large pack full of provisions for the journey as well as a tent for his mistress, should she need it; though not as burdened as when he first arrived at the covenant, he still sweats profusely and leans on his thick staff.

For her part the young Tremere is also dressed for the field, wearing her curious leather hauberk cut in imitation of soldiers of antiquity, thus leaving her sandal-clad legs bare below the knees. With an eager smile she elbows Nicola in the ribs, prompting him to speak on her behalf in Vlach-accented Greek.

"My mistress Amphora greets you both, and hopes the day will yield 'good hunting' for us all." He then bows to the other magi with a dramatic flourish, much to the maga's amusement.

Atlas arrives presently, he looks haggard and dissheveled. He's his normal size, 6'9", with a normal sized cloak around him. The full moon passed a few days prior. He has a sack of food and a skin of water, a pouch of sling stones, as well.
Before leaving my tower, I cast Wizard’s Ward versus Steel Weapons.
CT=29(score) +2 (die)=31, success
Gruffly he says Let's be about this. How does everyone wish to proceed? I gave a thought to excavating the perimeter of the house, something I should be able to do rather easily. Otherwise, I'm at a bit of a loss on what to do.

As the other magi assemble near the council hall of the covenant the weather seems to take a turn to the worse and a light rain begin to fall and the wind picks up. Polycarpus approaches the magi. Salve soldaes. I took upon myself the liberty to write to a friend of mine who knows a few things about the infernal. Perhaps I can convince him of visit and take a look on the site at some point in the future. I have ordered my servant to prepare rations for all of us so that we do not need to return before nightfall. I think that spending the night at such a ghastly location is less than preferable. Also I might warn you that the aura of the location gives you a nasty headache. Excavating the site seems like a good idea. If there is something strange then we find it. If not then we just help the poor ruin to lie under a large pile of earth.

OOC: If you wish the write as if you are next to the ruin as the journey is uneventful but damp and windy.

Caput will make the journey a little more pleasant by mitigating the strength of the wind near us, and ensuring that the rain does not blow into our faces. He does not eliminate the wind entirely. "I find a nice breeze at my back makes a journey easier, especially if there is rain to consider or fog to clear".

OOC - he'll have to cast Ease the Wind as we move from time to time, as we exit the area mitigated by the spell into a new area.
The spell to make the wind blow at his back will last all day, but he'll have to re-cast it if we change direction (the wind changes
to a direction he indicates, and that effect follows him, but a new direction requires recasting the spell)
11/- peau5 Ease the Wind (touch,ind,mom). casting level: +11 in neutral aura
16/- reau15 Control the Weather Gauge(touch-object,day). casting level: +16 in neutral aura

When we arrive at the suspected infernal site, Caput will cast wizard's sidestep, and keep it maintained (it is a short duration that expires every couple minutes). He'll have shield ready but weapon sheathed, and look hopefully at other magi in the group. "Investigative magic is not my forte. On my own I tend to explore places like this by walking in and seeing if anything tries to attack me. Do any of you have a better plan?"

reim5 Wizard's Sidestep (per,dia) casting level: 17 mastered -1 botch die

Polycarpus wards himself before the journey with cloak of the duck’s feather. Soldaes I suggest that we excavate this site. How about a rego spell that removes the earth carefully. Anyone wish to make an attempt or shall I?

Why don't we work together, start here Atlas points to the best obvious starting point, such as an entry, leaving it accessible. You take the left, I'll take the right and we'll meet where we meet. Would someone accompany each of us as we go around the perimeter?

OOC:Non fatiguing casting total without the aura is Re(11)+Te(15)+Sta(3)=29/5=5.8, assuming that the aura is not 5, Atlas can move 10 cubic paces of earth he can see in a very unnatural fashion, within eyesight, that he touches, 3+1+1=5.
Edited for clarity.

Caput looks at Polycarpus and Atlas, and moves into position to cover Polycarpus's back while Polycarpus concentrates. Perhaps Atlas looks more like he can look after himself.

Nestor, who is not as strong in Terram magics as his sodales, waits nearby, ready to cast Demon's Eternal Oblivion on anything that emerges (either it's a infernal and will be hurt, or it's not and won't be hurt.

Kalliste comes in the form of a lion, prepared to battle. She has demon's eternal oblivion as well pilum of fire and sharp teeth and claws.

Atlas and Polycarpus move the earth and uncover beneath the surface a floor of the house or at least the remains of it. Beneath the floor there is a cellar and on the bottom the magi find a few spectacular finds. There is a scorched skeleton with a malformed hand, a metal box and a dagger that lies next to the skeleton. Pieces of wood seem to have fallen upon the skeleton while it was burning and thereby causing the death of the person that lies at the bottom of the cellar. In the upmost layers of soil Nestor notices small pieces of bone that has not been noticed by neither Polycarpus nor Atlas.

Do we have any Vim or Intellego experts present among us?
Without touching the dagger or the box, Atlas will closely inspect them for any markings or other oddities.

OCC: does it appear that the dagger had fallen out of the skeleton's hand. Do either appear to have been scorched like the skelleton? Was anything heard to fall when earth or dirt had been relocated? Another way of asking if the box and dagger appeared to be above the skeleton and then fell to be closeby as the supporting earth below it was moved.

"I am no expert at divination or primal magic, and while Mentem is a strength of mine, I've never researched the kinds of spells useful to discern or communicate with ghosts. I might be able to learn something from the bones, although if the fragments are animal, I'm not as strong there. Let us begin with when these unfortunates died, and what they looked like as they died."

Caput composes himself, touches first the bone fragments, then the skeleton, each time waving his free arm wildly and shouting words of power. Resting between spells, he does this twice with the bone fragments, and twice again with the skeleton.

He then does his best to communicate what, if anything, he learned (once SG lets me know the results)

ooc - I will try some spontaneous inco magic on the bones. Between each casting I will rest 2 minutes to restore fatigue, as we are in no hurry. I am also assuming these are simple dice, but just in case I rolled a bunch of botch dice so the GM can resolve if I'm wrong. If infernal aura is greater than 1 I'm not quite good enough at this to guarantee a result without retrying.

If the bone fragments are animal, the spells probably fail (but I can then assume they're not human bones, at least.)

Attempt these 10 point effects on both the skeleton and the bone fragments.
Divine the transition from life to death (age of corpse/bones - how long dead?)
Discern the living image of the bones (how the body looked when freshly dead. I assume actual living appearance would be harder)
(all based on "Sense a specific piece of information about a body." inco5 base, touch+5, momentary)

in+4, Co+11 sta+4, booming voice+1, big gestures+1 = 21 minus infernal aura.

age of bones fragment roll: 23-aura
image of bone fragment roll: 29-aura
age of skeleton roll: 31-aura (this is potential botch if stress)
image of skeleton roll: 26-aura

If the infernal aura is >3, I'll keep trying on age of bones until I get a result high enough to get a
fatigue, spontaneous effect of 10.

in case of stress dice:
some botch dice rolls:
in order(not sure of botch aura here) 5 1 2 9 4 5 2 0 2 9 6 8 8 3 4 2 7 0 3 9 8 6 8 7 3
(need 8 botch dice to actually botch 1st attempt, aura>=7)
age of skeleton reroll in case aura >1 infernal and stress die: 21-aura
(ok, given a second roll of zero, if aura >=3 and stress die I botch the second attempt)
age of skeleton third roll in case aura >1 infernal: 37-aura (rolled 1, then 8)

Nestor shows the bone fragments to those who haven't seen them (without touching them). He warns others not to touch anything and asks the others to give him some time and to cast a ceremonial spell. He first casts "Bitter taste of Betryal" and then the ceremonial spell.
After casting he sniffs around the things they've found.
Then he rests for 2 minutes if possible.

He will then cast a spontaneous ceremonial spell to learn more about the nature of these things:
(TeFo15 + Sta 2 + 2 extreme words/gestures + 5 artes liberales + 1d10 (roll 5, see below) + 1 confidence point *- aura)/2 >= 15

  • for aura 1-2, two confidence poitns if the aura is 3-5, none if stronger than 5

Smells vis and active item effect/spells/powers that are at least 3rd magnitude. He only learns: This is vis, and this contains some effect, but nothing more.
In Vi Base 4, +1 conc, + 2 smell

Important: the post above mine not possible because the character hasn't seen the bone fragments.

I assume that Caput’s investigation takes place after the small bones are revealed to the group. In these first investigations you discover that:
• The large human skeleton is only scorched around where the wooden beam fell.
• The skeleton died of either being crushed beneath a large wooden beam, noxious fumes from the fire or from the flames. It could be a combination of all these factors.
• The dagger has both Verditus runes and a maker’s seal. The maker is unknown.
• The metal box has the same markers as the dagger.
• The metal box has a lock and is airtight.
• Both the dagger and the metal box is magical.
• Both the dagger and the box where found next to the skeleton as if the person where in the vicinity of the items when the floor came crashing down.
• The small bones are human. An infant by the size of it. The where found in the topmost layers and they where broken in many places.

The investigation and excavation has taken a lot of time. If you delay it will be difficult to be back at the covenant in time. Your servants has taken time to prepare something to eat and drink.

Nestor hesitantly looks at the box. "Looks like the box of pandora to me," he jokes, "so we better don't open it"

ooc: box of Pandora: Greek mythology, contains all the bad stuff.