Chapter 2: Back at the covenant

"Whatever we do, we shouldn't keep those infernal things at the covenant for too long. We don't want our aura to become tainted by this. It's a shame no one can cast Whisper throught he Black Gate! That would answer a lot of questions. Should we invite a quaesitor to do that?"

I'm not convinced that the items are infernal, though I do concede it is quite possible. I had considered Whispers Through the Black Gate, but if memory serves, that spell wouldn't be useful since all we have left are bones. No, our best course of action is following the mark, which will lead us to the owner. Verditius magi take pride in their devices, and indeeed, want people to know who created them. The markings they put on them have to be cataloged somewhere. I'm fine with leaving the items outside the covenant proper, as long as we can secure them well. We could entomb them in a boulder, perhaps. While researching the mark we can observe if the sinking effect strikes the boulder, too. Leaving them in the house could put them out of reach by the time we complete our research, while still feeling the effects.
There is also the matter of the creature. We haven't seen the beast that has sired that thing with the sheep. We also need to decide what to do about the young creature.

The child was an infant and has died about two years ago. By the markings on the bones it seems as if it where subject to a great deal of blunt force. The large skeleton has been dead for about five years. Polycarpus will use his magic to cover up the ruin if no one disagrees. There are no additional items of interest as you can see.

"If the bones of the child are younger than those of the adult, the adult cannot have carried the child here. Nor can the infant have carried the adult. This means that this site has been visited at least twice, or someone has been carrying a collection of bones with him. If someone comes to an infernal site twice, and the last time was just 2 years ago, he or she is likely to come back a third time. I think we should call in the quaesitores to cast some investigative spells. Polycarpus: Are there any records about the past of our covenant?"

We should ask Alexis, the farmer, if he knows about any missing children, perhaps a detour to see him before returning back to the covenant? We could also see if there has been any change in the corrupted sheep.

"We should sweep this area with flame even more to be sure that anything tainted is destroyed. I have a pilum of fire." Kalliste says though words from the mouth of a lion are unusual. "We still need to find what sired the strange animal you mentioned and perhaps we can make an etching of the verditious runes to show to queasitors to identify. Perhaps we can check the items for infernal taint once we are clear of this aura."

Destroying with fire is premature. I'm not convinced that it would even remove the taint. It could possibly just destroy evidence, making it more difficult for any Quaesitore to conduct an investigation. No, if we are going to involve them, then we contain and preserve. Even if we don't bring the Quaesitores in, we make things more difficult. There are many more questions than answers. In order of discovery, we know that there is a corrupted lamb born in the area, snakelike in the hind quarters, a slight infernal aura, a house at the center of it that appears to be in the process of being swallowed up by the earth, inside the house we find a Verditus dagger with markings of a maker we aren't familiar with, lying next to the body of a corpse of an adult, and there was also a corpse of an infant, but it appears that they were in separate areas and have a different year of death.
We need some answers before lobbing off our destructive spells to destroy the site.

Kalliste carefully looks over the Verditious Mark to see if it rings any bells. "We have to search this entire area to find the extent of the infernal and the source of what happened to the lamb. Although perhaps the infernal aura warped it from gazing in this area."
OOC Int 2+Order of Hermes Lore 1+roll 7 = 10 to see if I recognize the mark.

Caput thinks on the dire rumors he heard growing up among the Muslims of Greek Christians or Pagans exposing their babies if they are malformed or extra or unwanted.

Was Caput able to tell if the baby was crushed while alive or if it might have died of other causes, and the bones smashed at a later time?

"A possibility is that the first death tainted the area somehow, and then a later person was drawn to the area to sacrifice a child, to make it stronger.
But without further evidence, this is probably mere uninformed speculation. I agree that our best clue is to go find the maker or, if the maker is dead,
the history of these Verditus items. Whatever happened to the child, it was likely the effect of the first accident, rather than the primary cause of
whatever is wrong here."

ooc, some random lore checks just in case Caput knows something I don't about local customs or the V. Runes.
Area Kn Aegean2 +1 intelligence =+3 = roll 5
Org Lore Order Hermes1+1int = +2 = roll 6
Yeah, he probably isn't any more help here than his player is :slight_smile:

I write a few things in bullet points (my mother visited me and my wife so I have not had the time writing).
• Polycarpus has no past record of the covenant.
• Alexis the sheep farmer can’t give any details. But he remembers a fire a few years ago, it had almost slipped his memory. He saw the smoke and the light but did not go there as it where to far away.
• Kalliste and Caput can remember enough to discern that majority of the runes are “normal” verditius enchantment runes that are common on their artefacts and that the makers mark should with ease identify the maker and most verditius wish to let the world know that they are the ones that had made this and that particular masterpiece. The box and the dagger has the same makers mark. However this mark is unkown to any of the magi.
• Caput in unable to tell if the bones where crushed before or after the infants death. Even though his parens gave him some realia to study during all those hours studying corpus they where not that through. However the breaking of bones is very extensive almost as if someone crushed them with purpose and you did not notice a large boulder lying atop the infant.

Polycarpus suggests that everyone get a good night sleep and that they assemble in the common hall to discuss what to do.

During the excavation, Amphora has been silent, using no spells to communicate her thoughts, at least not to the magi; her grogs appear to have been given some direction, however, and assisted the other covenfolk with their preparations. Her expression has been thoughtful as she studied the scene. At length, she takes a deep breath, holds up her shield and summons her 'speaking face'.

"If we have a moment, I would like to see if there are any restless spirits present; I don't possess the skill to summon them, but if we know they are present, perhaps other magi may be able to speak with them."

The Tremere maga closes her eyes in concentration for a few moments; when she opens them again, her eyes are featureless pale blue, the pupil and iris invisible below the sea haze. The young maga slowly steps around the cellar, turning her head slowly from side to side.

Formulaic casting of Phantasm of the Talking Head
CT 17 + roll 7 = 24

Sponting InMe effect for ghost detection
In0 + Me10 + Sta2 + roll 7 / 2 = 9.5 (Unsure of the aura's effect)

Infernal aura will make magic more difficult with a minus equal to the level of the aura. In any case Amphora does not detect anything.

Kalliste will shift to eagle form and then take to the air to carefully survey the entire area to look with eagle eyes for anything that might be odd, circling to see if there is more than just this house. An infernal area needs an anchor to stay infernal and that means there has to be more than was found.

As it is late Kalliste will notice a figure walking towards the ruins, it seems as if the figure is a woman and that she is walking from the village near the covenant. A hood covers her head so that you can’t see her face from above.

The next day the magi meet in the common council hall. This is right after the morning prayers/parma/breakfast rituals. Outside there is a stiff cold wind. Polycarpus has prepared the session with drawing a few points of discussion on a wax tablet that all can see. As the magi have all assembled he speaks. I took the liberty of writing a few points I think we should discuss. Now pleas add something if you wish as these things are just what is on the top of my mind. Polycarpus gestures towards at the tablet. First of all; what should be done about the sheep, what do we do with the ruins, should we proceed with the investigation, should we send a letter to the quesiatori of the tribunal and also I would like to discuss the creation or purchase of a few common necessities as either a scribe to write protocol or a magical item that does the same and a vault to store these protocols and other important items of common interests such as our finds from the ruin. I think it is best if we deal with one topic at the time. Regarding the sheep I think that it is best to just pay the farmer for the sheep, slaughter it and incinerate the remains.

Kalliste will circle above high until the woman returns to the village and then sees where in the village she goes. She might not see who it is but she can see what house they belong to.

The woman observes the ruin for awhile then returns to the village, she finally enters a lonely house that lies at the outskirts of the village and on the far side from the covenant.

Caput will actually respond to each point as Polycarpus gets to them, one at a time, but in order to make my responses more efficient, this is his opinion on the first two topics. The third of course depends on what he wishes to discuss.

  1. Sheep
    "Purchase & slaughter the sheep, extract the vis if any, and if there is vis, contract an expert to determine to which realm it is associated as we wouldn't want to use tainted vis. I'm fine with destroying the corpse but burning may not be the most effective way. A perdo-animal spell on the corpse would avoid risk of the burn location being tainted, or tainted smoke escaping or other similar hazards. Usually if you extract the vis, the remnants don't matter much but it's easy to be thorough, so why not?"

  2. Ruins.
    "There are several threads to pursue.

Primus - is the aura associated with the items we removed? If so, the ruin should begin to degrade to a neutral aura over time, while the location where we store the items should start to show signs of taint. This is a long term project, but if other approaches hit a dead end, it's a way to gauge the seriousness of the situation. All we need to do here is have any of us spend a day each season to measure the aura strength at both locations and track changes. I'm willing to devote a day each season to this if nobody else better at vim volunteers, I'm not very good at Intelligo Vim, but a simple aura measurement when you're in the aura is easy enough - the result of your spell can be cross checked by just casting a number of spells and seeing whether it is harder or easier to cast than in a neutral aura. I also have some travel magic to make the journey faster that only works on myself, and am confident in my ability to defend myself against surprises.

Secondus - Identifying the items. This will mean making the Order aware of them and of the tainted area. This is probably what we are supposed to do anyway, given the Code's strictures on diabolism. Perhaps we can get the Quasitores or Mercere interested enough in the topic to do the legwork for us. I am poorly suited to this task, as I lack many Hermetic connections at all, and am new to this tribunal. Perhaps one of the other magi can pursue this thread.

Tertius- the history of the site. Somebody lived there, that means somehow he was fed, he earned a living etc. What do the neighbors (if any) know of the location? What is the family that owned it their history , why was it abandoned, all of that. If the dwelling was not legally owned by anybody but constructed, was it done by magic or was somebody hired? If hired, how long ago - did anyone involved in the project live to tell tales (or are they still around?). Did anyone trade food or other supplies to the location? What kind? This strikes me as a good project for either Nestor or if he doesn't have time, I could put my factor Kristos on the problem. He'd be good on the trade/construction side and is fairly competent at just visiting people and getting Gossip.

"Somewhere, I'm sure, there is a catalogue of Verditius marks. I wonder if the Redcaps could get it for us, and how much it would be. My concern, given the Quaesitores relucatance to get involved with a the hedgemages in service to the duke, I'd bet they could careless. In some ways, we are acting like children, turning to our parents. I think we should inform the Quaesitores, alert them to the presence of the aura we've detected close to our covenant grounds and what we plan to do about it.

I agree with Caput, the sheep should be dispatched. I don't think this vis should even be collected. It's one pawn, we could distill a greater amount from our aura, though I dislike the idea of farming. Finding out more about the site is also important, but the site is being used, and watching it for use should actually be our first course of action. We could tell that the bodies we found died at different times.

Nestor agrees:

"I also feel uncomfortable about using vis that is possibly tainted. I suggest we givre the sheep to the quaesitores and leave figuring out if it is dangerous to them"

Polycarpus speaks again. Why alert the order for such a minor infernal aura. It is not worse than any pit of sin in any major city where gambling and other vices are indulged. In think that we should proceed with caution. First we should make a question to someone that we can trust regarding the makers mark. I will mention next time the redcap visits that we are in the market for a few magical items and if they can get a few pamphlet for us. Then we should find what the verditius of the tribunal have as makers mark and what their specialities are. Regarding the sheep perhaps we should just start with a perdo vim spell and then put the beast to the torch. I will not risk that the possibly tainted vis does some damage.