[Story] Winter 1220 - There's a what in my where?

And thus the tumultuous autumn season comes to a close, and the guests depart, eager to return to their homes before winter sets in.

Still, the weather is fine, if a bit chill, though talk amongst the covenfolk heard towards the end of fall indicate that winter is a season of storms, though very little of it is wintry.

As each of you exit your labs to get some breakfast, you almost trip over a small basket placed in front of it. Within the basket is a tube, which contains a parchment scroll. The writing thereon is impeccable, clean, and almost a thing of beauty. It reads, in latin:

"You are cordially invited to a feast for the occasion of the winter solstice and Christmas, to be held on the Winter Solstice, in Dierdre's lodgings. Dress is as formal as you can manage. Likewise, there will be a similar celebration for custos and consorti in the feast hall. Festivities will conclude with the casting of the Aegis."

"Mab, filia Bebh, ex Merinita
Dierdre ex Flambeau."

As the fall comes to a close, there are a number of rumors floating around, all heard by the custos and consorti who frequent town and the inn.

The most troublesome is that something is killing cattle; several herdsmen have lost older animals to some large thing that scares the meat off the rest of the herd, and the remains of the poor beast are found days laters, usually nothing but bones. It was particularly bad during the early part of the autumn, but now appears to have eased off a bit. The strangest part was that a bag of silver was found with each carcass; The amount within was what the herdsman could have gotten at market for the animal. "Still," as one disgruntled herdsman put it, "ya canna eat silver..."

The other rumor comes from the children, who repeatedly claim "...there's a monster in the ol' tithing barn! It's HUGE! And it's nekkid!" At which point, someone clouts the young lad, usually one of the girls.

The last of the ordered lab equipment has arrived as well, along with other supplies requested by Magus and Mundane alike.

Albertus tries to the best of his efforts to be as dressed up as he can. All his clothes are old, worn and hopelessly out of fashion but at least he tries. He also attempts to trim his beard and combs his hair, a little nervous and eager to show of his best side to Mab. He will be in time for the festivities.

Stephan reads the invitation and quickly realizes that he has not had time to choose a suitable gift. As the workers assigned to help him clean up and work on his lab arrive, he asks one of the younger ones to go find a washerwoman so he can have his formal robes properly aired and beaten.

Turning to his rather modest posessions, he starts thinking about what would be a suitable gift for each of his hostesses...

Albertus walks out of the door ready for the feast. As he takes his first step out side his laboratory he suddently freezes. He thinks to himself that he has both forgot his elegant hat that he always wears for feasts and celebrations, it’s a bit old but it works. And yes he forgot to take his gift with him. Albertus turns around and enter his sanctum once again. He finds his hat after a few minutes of searching. It has been resting under a huge slab of stone. A well just some dust, and now I need to find a gift. Albertus walks to his gallery and takes down his favourite work picturing the covenant in the mist. The he walks to the feast.

Fabrica ponders the invitation and naturally decides to go, but what to bring, what to offer?

He dresses in his usual craftsman attire with a proper cloak and heads to the Hall for his breakfast.

It has been a very long time since Azaelle was given an invitation to a party. Last one was when she was back home in Toulouse and that was years ago. She looks at the invite like it's a puzzle. Her nice silk dress is old but with a little creo anim it wont look that way. What will Uza wear? Come to think of it, Azaelle has never seen her in a dress. Gifts are less challenging. She heads out the door to her lab. Where else would there be suitable gifts for magi?


Mathius ponders the question of what to do. Is it the custom to give a gift when you are invited? Will everyone else be giving one - if so he must give one or be singled out. And if he is the only one to give one, what would that mean...

He finally decides that a gift would be in order. If no-one else gives one, it would make him look good. He thinks long and hard on a gift, and nothing stands out. He eventually decides to play to his strength - he spends some time in his forge crafting something. After all, he has a number of weeks before the solstice.

Just outside of the door Albertus stop once again. Dressed in his finest robes and his elegant hat carrying a very special gift he realises that the feast is tomorrow and hurries back into his chambers. He redresses continues working on the installation of the mystical stone into his laboratory. It will become a splendid focus for his lab.

Later that night when eating something in the vicinity of his soldaes Albertus will discuss the mystical disappearance of livestock. Ha anyone heard of anything similar? Could it be a creature worth vis? Could it be someone that is a subject to a dreadful curse and in the need of help to restrain oneself? Albertus is looking for distraction from his heavy labour in the laboratory.

Fabrica wipes his mouth and puts down his hunk of bread.

"Caleb has been talking about this thing a lot lately. Says it's some devil, that it eats the cattle and leaves the silver as a temptation to the former owner. It's probably just a bandit or maybe a careless herder making an excuse for losing its herd. I don't know about the silver though."

"Ask Caleb though, he's been looking for it and trying to get some of the other Grogs to help. He keeps getting lost out there though..."


Mathius smiles indulgently at the enthusiasm of the other mages, "Ah my dearest sodales, there are always temptations around us. Offers of riches, power and vis. Mostly there is little behind them but imagination on dark nights, sometimes it is something of brimstone trying to put you on a righteous seeming path that leads to damnation."

He brightens up a little, and says jollyingly as if to children "But in this case, I think you will find it to be an aquaintance of 'Dawn' who is hungry and far away from home. The silver is either faerie and will become stones in a year, stolen on the journey, or conjoured out of the air. I wish you fortune on your hunts, and a safe return with your findings. But I, have important work to do, so I will leave you to your games." He waves a hand regally and informs them "Though if you need any advice, you know where to find me."

He goes back to eating his meal, he doesn't appear to be listening to the discussion.

Azaelle wasn't really listening until Albertus challenged the validity of the rumor. Now, she's interested, all of a sudden.

"Do you know that, for certain, Albertus? That the silver disappears? Has anyone spoken directly to any of the towns folk who have had this strange thing happen? What kind of a creature mutilates animals and then pays for them? How odd. If it was just mutilated creatures then I would think we have a problem with an animal but paying for them after mutilating them and not buying them first before killing them implies the cognitive intention of someone who can't be seen for some reason. A bandit wouldn't pay and probably would just steal the livestock. A careless herder wouldn't add in the part about the money since it invites investigation. Temptation by devils doesn't make sense either. The responsible person is paying only the value of the lost animal. The rancher makes no profit. When one is being tempted by devils, there's usually more in it for the person then an disgusting clean up and a trip to the market."

No have not confirmed anything of this rumour I just heard it from two men who where hauling that great stone slab in my lab. Just thought I see if anyone of my soldaes heard anything of it. But perhaps it would be a good start to ask some of the victims and then perhaps Madame (Albertus blushes slightly) Dawn if it is one of her friends. Albertus gulps down the last bit of meat and wine. Anyone interested is seeing how this turn out?

"Yes, I am very curious but I don't have a whole lot of time to devote to this investigation, unfortunately. There's lab work to be done and books to be read. Are you going to go do any investigating in person?"

At the mention of her name, Dawn appears, carrying a plate of freshly baked breads. "'Tis not one of my kin," she says. "Closest I know of is Grandmother, and she's far to the south... In some place called Marseilles..."

She sits down, a small cup of cider in hand. "Nay, 'tis something bigger, something that eats more than just rabbits." She drinks the cider, and then gets up. "Unless you've got more questions, good masters, I've my daily share of chores to attend to..."

As Dawn walks off, a group of custos walk in, wearing rusty-orange colored livery; Some of Lough Caillte's custos.

"Perhaps I might provide some clues." The voice belongs to one of the local freemen, Gordaine by name. He is also one of the grog sergeants, usually assigned to the collection of the tolls on the covenant's bridges. "It either moves by magic, or it flies; the earth is not disturbed where the carcass is found, or from where it was taken. Also, the coins are from various realms; Dane, French, Roman, Byzantine, and English. And finally, the kine go missing usually on the night of the new moon, and the carcass shows up summat later, usually within a few days."

"This tells me our 'beast' has some intelligence, for it shows both caution, and the knowledge of how much the beast is worth, and the fact that it is offering the coin in trade for the beast... If it is, as Master Mathius said, not a demon tempting farmers."

"If you'll excuse me, I've the tolls to get to Master Angus..."


Before he leaves, Azaelle asks Gordaine,

"Would you show one of these sites to me? I or one of my sodales might be able to answer the question of whether the creature moved by flight or by magic."

Albertus looks eager. I would like to join you Azaelle if you are going to investigate this phenomena. It’s difficult to tell if Albertus is eager to be close to Azaelle or if it’s the strange creature he is interested in.

Azaelle talks while eating and gestures with her fork, mostly forgetting her manners.

"That would be splendid, Albetus, mon ami. We should go tonight while there is still rumors of the monster lurking about. It's childish and potentially dangerous, I know, so it will be better if there are two or more of us, just in case."

Then we venture out on or little quest. Albertus is eager like a little boy but suddenly remind himself of behaving like a normal not so eager adult. Albertus eats up. Azaelle I meet you at the gates together with a guide and we leave as soon as the sun starts to set.

If nothing interferes Albetus meets Azaelle at the gates dressed in his plain robe and cap carrying his stout staff that Albertus always have with him on journeys.

"I would be happy to take you to the locations where this has occured," says Gordain, bowing slightly. If you wish to get started right away, I shall need a moment or three to get some food before setting out again."

The journey is not a long one as the trail leads through town and into the farmland to the east. The town is out of sight when Gordain leads Azaelle, Albertus, and whoever else comes along into a section of remote pasture.

The cattle are somewhat disturbed, more skittish than normal, and grazing on the poor forage underneath the trees, instead of the somewhat better fare. Out in the middle of the field is what is left of a carcass, just bare bones, and and a small bag containing a some bezant, a common silver coin from the eastern roman empire.

Upon cursory examination, there are no footprints, no signs of a struggle, and no blood as one would think a full grown cow slaughtered and eaten on the spot would produce.