Prelude for Herman of Bonisagus

Maybe not too steep to climb, in the obsolute, but certainly beyond the capabilities of Herman himself to climb.

When he asks the grogs about making their way to a position where they can see the tree from above, they lead you out. It take you all about an hour, but eventually you are at the top of the crevice. The top of the tree emerges from the cut into the rock face, with many of the bird nest at eye level from you (although obscured by the cedar's branches). Someone flying from above the forest would have missed it completely, as there are other trees here that, although smaller overall than the cedar, top it easily from their higher vantage.

There's nothing special showing up here either.

Try the spell to see vis. (I don't expect much, but hearing is not going to be useful. And I do not have enough Rego Corpos to fly up there to look more closely.)

No raw vis in sight.

"What now, master? Want one of us to try and make our way into that?" Tristan looks dubious at the prospect.

Look around, and talk with the grogs, to see if there is something we can loop a rope around. I can spont the unseen hand (rego 5, terram 5, herbam requisite 5, gives 10, with various spares and no resistance. So lift a rope up, around a nice big, stable, rock, or tree, or something, and back down. Then we can some grogs can anchor the loop while whichever one is best climbs up to see what they can tell.

Plenty of trees and rocks nearby for the grogs to secure a rope, which they do in short order. One of the woodsmen from Fengheld, whose name is Heidolf, volounteer to climb down along the rock face and amidst the branches.

The resulting movements in the cedar's branches disturbs many of the adult birds who, until now, had not paid too much attention to the humans invading their nesting place. At least a score of them fly out of the tree, cawing angrily, and start circling around. They're not attacking you, but fly down occasionally in groups, in an attempt to scare you off.

You can hear Heidolf swearing through the thick branches as he makes his way down. His movements are occasionally accompanied by the sound of breaking branches and distressed chirps from birdlings.

(Just pausing to let you react if you want to do so.)

While Heidolf climbs, I will see if Intuition of the Forest will tell me anything (I don't expect much). (I had misunderstood where we were. Thank you for adjusting.)

Your spell reveals that the forest feel a bit strained by the number of birds being born and raised here.

As you cast your spell, you hear Heidolf swearing and he moves through a particularly rough patch of branches. To your sense attuned to the well-being of the forest, the resulting chirping of the birdlings sound frightened, while the screeches of the adult birds sound angry.

And, through all this noise, an out-of-place sound can then be heard. That of a piece of crockery shattering on the rocks below.

Turn to look in the direction of what sounded like shattering crockery while asking the others if they heard that.
Assuming that I can't see anything from here, send the other woodsman down to see what he can find.

(Side note: I have been assuming that this level of growth, and particularly the effect on the tree, can not be attributed to the grapes the birds are stealing. If I have that wrong, my response needs to change.)

"Did ya see that?" yells Heidolf from inside the cedar's foliage, from where he apparently did not hear Herman's question. "Som'thing dropped on through! Heard it pass through the branches, I did. Couldn' see what, tho'!"

As the group above the notch looks around trying to see something below, you notice a light mist rising up through the branches. "Wha? What's that?" yells Heidolf.

Suddenly there seems to be something happening in the tree. The chirping seems to change tone, and the branches start to sway. In moments, adult birds start to erupt from the branches. And more birds. Literally hundreds of them, croaking hungrily. Many more than you had noticed previously. They fly away in a large flock. Westward, towards Fendheld.

And even after the last bird has finished coming out from the branches, those same branches continue their swaying movements. There is loud creaking and groaning of wood, and the trees foliage seems to expand. And grow higher. Larger.

In minutes, the cedar has grown several paces in height and its branches have expanded outward from the crevice by three or fours paces on each side. When the cracking and the creaking and the groaning of wood ceases, all that can be heard are the panicked and pain-filled screams of Heidolf. "Help! Aargh! Help!"

Direct the grogs to help Heidolf out from there,. If they need to they can break branches.

Meanwhile, move to where I can touch a smaller branch of the tree, and try to use the simpler intellego herbam to tell what the heck is happening.

If they get Heidolf out, two of them are to go down to see what fell out and broke.

Wolfred and the other woodsman climb down the rope into the tree and try to get Heidolf free of the branches. Apparently, the tree grew bigger and the big man got stuck between those branches while he was holding on to prevent a fall.

Herman's spell reveals that the tree just grew, as if over a decade had passed, in the last few diameters.

Once Heidolf has been cut free, Wolfred helps him climb back up, as the woodmans is nursing bruised ribs and a sprained wrist. The other woodsman climbs down, to see what happened down there. He reports that the tree's trunk is now much larger that is was before, completely filling the base of the crevice. There are some fresh pottery shards, oily with some sort of liquid. He gathers some of those in a blanket to bring them back up for Herman to inspect.

Meanwhile, Tristan mentions, "Have you noticed? All thosee nests seem to be empty. Where did the birdlings go?"

"Oh, I am pretty sure that the birdlings all grew up, quite suddenly." after a pause "I imagine that the workers in the vineyard are rather busy right now."

Use the test for vis I have been using to see if there are remnants (certainly not a pawn any more) of vis in the oil liquid. Then try a simple spell to identify the liquid (Intellego 15, Aquam 5, Stamina 2, plus stress). (I presume that touch range does not work through gloves unless the gloves are your talisman. So It has to be voice range, momentary. individual, so base + 2.

Then look at the shards (use the fabric, or gloves, to keep from getting it on my hands) to see if there are any identifiable markings.

No vis in the traces of liquid remaining on the pottery shards.

The spell to learn more about the liquid tells you that this is some kind of magical brew, which made living things grow up faster. Doesn't have any effect on fully grown individuals. The liquid is old, having spent more than a century inside the container. The shard is made of baked clay, with a plain glaze in the inside and colored patterns on the outside. Nothing special about it, aside from looking quite old.

"Sir?" That is from Wolfred. "I think I saw an opening in the rock face when we helped Heidolf back up. Want me to go and take a look?"

After Herman tells him to do so, he reports back that there seems to be an entrance to a cave of some sort inside the rock. Looks like the crevice is fairly recent and broke into the cavern. There's an intact jar just inside, with some broken stuff. He can't see much in there, cause it is dark, but it looks like someone lived there a long time ago.

Yes, we clearly want to get a look at that cave. "Thank you Wolfred. An intact jar!"
I presume it is getting late in the day. I am sure that the covenant has creo/Imagem light enchantments, but asking for the use of one would take time and explanations. I also presume that the tree is too close to the cave, so there is not way to set up torches outside that would illuminate the cave. Does the sun shine into the cave either in late afternoon or early morning? If not, is there some way I could widen the cave entrance by moving dirt away. Cast Eyes of the Treacherous Terrain to see what I can tell, to figure out if I can cast in improvised rego terram (base 1, +1 touch, +1 concentration, +1 part, against half of 5 terram + 5 rego + 2 stamina + stress, and maybe aura).

(I'll move things forward descriptively. Time to wrap up, I believe.)

From what Wolfred tells you, the cave cuts directly into rock, not dirt, so widening would be difficult. With the branches from the tree, he doubts any sunlight can illuminate the inside. Wolfred thinks that it might be possible to go inside a little and then light a torch. But smoke might be an issue, he says. As he mentions that, he stops before yelling. "There's a slight breeze flowing through, master! So there might be another entrance into this place!"

So, after searching for a little while (using Eyes of the Treacherous Terrain to help), your small group discovers what must have been the primary entrance to the cavern. You are able to use improvised torches to light the way as you explore the place.

Seems like a wizard once lived here, many decades ago. Whatever belongings he had have since deteriorated for the most part. There are a few sealed jars left on stone shelves cut into the cavern's walls. More jars certainly were present, but now lie broken as their content fermented and burst out. No sign of the former occupant's body are found.

Not all of the jars contain liquid, however. Some contain animal bones and teeth, other dried roots and fruits. For the most part, these have decayed so much as to be useless. Herman is still able to identify and recover 2 pawns of Animal vis (a tusk almost as long as his arm worth 1 pawn; a small skull worth another pawn) and 1 pawn of terram (a small river rock of reddish striated stone, that fits in the palm of his hand). There are also some writing materials rolled up in some of the jars, but they are in a language you do not understand. Only two jars seem to contain liquid, sitting precariously on a broken shelf beside the opening formed by the crevice.

(Overall, I rolled 20 stress dice to see whether any botches happened for the various spells Herman might have used to investigate the items found. No botches.)

When the party finally returns to Fengheld, they find the vineyards in a panic. The hundreds of birds that you saw emerging from the tree apparently attacked the vines and damaged them badly, eating much of the grape in a wide swathe. Peter of Verditius is furious with Herman, saying that he was supposed to fix the problem, not make it worse. It is a close call, but Herman is allowed to remain for the agreed-upon time to study from the library, but that time is strained and it is clear that prolonging his stay would be met with refusal.

It just so happens that, in the winter, one of the visiting redcaps approach Herman to discuss what his plans are for the future. Fengheld being a Mercer House, many redcaps visit it so that is not unusual to meet new faces there. What is unusual is the redcap himself -- a nervous man of middle age, with a round face and a thin light brown beard. He stumbles and hesitates much as he presents a proposal to Herman. He knows a small group of magi that would welcome additional magi. They live in an out of the way place, not an established covenant, so conditions are still basic. But the place would offer some freedom from the strictures of older covenants.

If he's interested, the redcap (whose name is Bernhard) could arrange a meeting with them in Anvers at the end of next Spring.

(OOC: You might want to summarize Herman's activities during the seasons spent in Fengheld. It will make it easier to determine how much xp to grant for each season.)

Thank you. So, for the first season I was at another covenant, then traveled to Fengheld, and wrote a tractatus. For the second season I was investigating the birds, and much related. Third and fourth Seasons will be spend studying in the library (what exactly depends upon what they permit after the understandably strained relationship. Herman of course takes the view that he has solved the problem. The source of the large numbers of rapidly growing birds is gone. (Yes, there will be more birds in the area for a while...)

(The way you phrase things, I believe I end up with the cave contents, if not, ignore the rest of this paragraph.) Do I think that given time I can make something of the odd manuscripts, or does it seem to my (admittedly junior) observations that it really requires a much more senior magus? And conversely, does it seem like I would get more value from my two seasons in the library if I give them the manuscripts.

During the winter, I will also question Bernhard about the small group of magi, and about what may make their locale interesting. After due consideration, I will ask him to arrange a meeting.

(Also, what two pans of vis do I get from my plant this year?)

So, to summarize:

  • Spring: Scribing an Intellego tractatus (2 xp of exposure in ??), personal source produces 1 pawn of Vim vis
  • Summer: Story involving the birds (5 xp in ??, 2 pawns of Animal vis, 1 pawn of Terram vis)
  • Fall: Studying from the library at Fengheld (what subject?), personal vis source produces 1 pawn [strike]Terram[/strike] Corpus vis
  • Winter: Studying from the library at Fengheld (what subject?)

Note that your seasons are not perfectly aligned, since you arrived after the beginning of Spring. However, that will be regularized when you join the others, considering travel times.

As soon as you determine what he wanted to study, I'll let you know the quality of the book you were able to find on that topic in Fengheld's library. The lower your current score in that Art or Ability, the more likely you are able to find a good book on the subject.

Spring Exposure is Magic Theory.
Summer story experience is Intellego.
Fall and Winter Study preferences are in order: Creo, Corpus, and Animal

You are able to study from older but still fairly decent summae in Creo and Corpus (Q11 and Q14, respectively).

Note that I changed one of the pawns produced by your personal vis source to Corpus.

You can add the advancement to your character's stats. Look at the end of Japik's stats to see how I prefer advancement to be noted (on top of modifying the current stats, of course).

I hope that the stat adjustments and the history are recorded right.