End of Spring
Melanthius reports back that he could find nothing wrong with the covenant’s copy of Aegis of the Hearth. There is some discussion about what could have caused the Aegis to go down. It is generally agreed that it must have been an external event and it is agreed that all will stay alert for any cause.
Neysa Ex Miscellanea starts organising a Summer Solstice party.
End of Summer
Neysa’s party is going well until an earthquake hits. The epicentre appears to be either further inland or out to sea in that direction. It appears to be worse outside the Aegis and lasts for about 4 minutes. There are no fore- or after-shocks, no steaming from the bay or subsidence of the cliffs. This is generally considered to be a bad thing, and it is assumed to have a magical cause. No-one is currently out in that direction. Melanthius uses a sight enhancement spell to determine that the town appears undamaged and there is little agitation of the waves. The terrain prevents any determination of damage in the other direction. Dione discusses the matter with 3 grogs who head out to scout the surrounding area. It is agreed that the unfortunate incident should be further investigated in the morning. This breaks up the party, although Neysa tries to encourage people to stay and continue.
The scouts return less than an hour later and report that there are no unusual scents in the close vicinity and no obvious damage, but they do not wish to go deeper into the mountains before daylight.
The next day, Alcibiades rounds up a posse of grogs (including Thermistocles the ship captain). Phedra of House Bjornaer and Euphemia Ex Miscellanea also go. There are many goats on the first part of the journey. Good progress is made and the first rest break is 4 hours in – before Thermistocles incites anyone to murder. On moving on, a huge gouge through the mountains is found – almost a small pass. This is as close to the epicentre as can be determined. There is huge amounts of fallen rubble. The rent seems to pass entirely through the mountains and seems to be wide enough for a man to pass. Thermistocles essays passage through. He finds that the passage is not difficult and takes approximately 5 minutes, emerging on the other side of the mountains. There is no obvious feature visible so he returns.
Euphemia Ex Miscellanea and Phedra of House Bjornaer inspect the crack while Alcibiades checks for tracks. He finds some very faint claw marks on some of the rubble, which appear to be leading into the covenant’s side of the island. Phedra determines that the way the rubble has fallen is unusual and it has formed unusually small pieces of rubble rather than slabs of rock. Alcibiades approaches her and reports on the claw marks. Phedra goes with him to inspect. They are marks of 5 claw and must have been made after the earthquake. Phedra does not recognise them. Euphemia Ex Miscellanea attempts to examine the area with her mystic senses but is unsuccessful.
Thermistocles returns. He does not recognise the tracks, but takes great delight in recounting tales of clawed monsters. The grog in wolf form takes the scent. Euphemia Ex Miscellanea spontaneously casts an Intellego Vim effect to detect any trace of magics. She manages a second magnitude effect and detects traces of powerful magic in the area.
Phedra, Thermistocles and Alcibiades return back through the pass for a better look around. Two grogs stay with Euphemia and the other goes through the pass. Thermistocles scoops up Euphemia and the whole party goes through. There is a lot less rubble on this side. There are also a number of shallow, human-sized depressions dug into the scree which have been disturbed, as if a number of shallow graves had been dug up. There is also chalk writing on bits of rock which has been wiped off. They are unintelligible, but there is something about them which is ringing bells for Phedra. Euphemia examines the depressions. There is no evidence that they were in fact graves. Her mystical senses do not detect any anomalies. The wolf’s hackles are up and the grogs are nervous. The wolf changes form and reports that it smells of death but not as of dead bodies per se. Alcibiades asks if the scent of death is a trail that he can follow. The wolf is unhappy but agrees to follow the trail. Alcibiades points out that if the group continue it will be necessary to camp overnight. It is agreed that this is better than losing the trail.
Alcibiades allocates a grog to watch the pass until nightfall and instructs him to join the rest of the group then. The rest of the group sets off following the scent and continues until darkness falls. During the afternoon the tracker reports that the trail splits. Given that scent sticks better to living organisms than rock, it is agreed to follow the trail that leads down to meadowland. As the trail progresses, occasional dead plants are noted along the trail. Alcibiades decides to investigates closer one of the affected plants. It appears to have just died, as if someone had just poured poison on them. The affliction appears to have risen from the roots.
Thermistocles and Alcibiades compete to find the best campsite. Alcibiades finds a natural clearing close to a spring which appears to be the best. The trail is marked with stones for ease of re-finding in the morning and camp is made. Thermistocles makes a shelter and the grogs hunt for game and a watch schedule is determined.
The night is quiet. Too quiet. Thermistocles gets worried and investigates. He finds that a branch of the tree next to the camp has died – one where an owl had been. Euphemia has the next watch and nearly misses the leering black fanged face leaping at her from the darkness, but stumbles and falls out of its way. The wolf sharing her watch does not appear to have noticed anything. She wakes Alcibiades who investigates. The wolf reports that an owl flew at her. Alcibiades investigates the trees. There is a patch of dead grass under the tree. He can find nothing else and agrees to investigate further in the morning.
When morning comes, the magi perform the Parma Magica and go back to sleep for a few hours. Thermistocles goes hunting and finds a goat ripped to pieces and scattered over the landscape. Some of the internal organs may have been eaten, but could have just been scattered a bit further. He burns the remains and continues hunting. He finds some more dead goats at the bottom of a cliff – it appeared that they were chased over the cliff and the slowest one got caught. He brings the corpses back to camp to cook and reports on the vivisected one.
Euphemia explains about the owl/evil thing to Phedra. Phedra asks some questions – Euphemia had her Parma Magica up and was not dozing off. Her more unusual perceptions showed the same thing. Phedra concludes that the fanged thing was its true form and it was using a glamour to conceal itself. The wolf grog did not detect anything wrong with its scent or behaviour. Thermistocles reports that the dead goat appeared to have been ripped apart by huge claws.
The party continues on the trail. Goat for breakfast obviously agrees with the party as they progress rapidly. The wolf back at the crevasse had not yet reached the party. It is agreed that if he has not caught up by dusk of this evening, the party will go back to look for him.
The morning passes quietly. The trail leads down a very steep escarpment, nearly a cliff. Phedra turns into a salamander for the descent and manages easily, as do the wolves. Euphemia slowly glides down using a Rego Corpus effect, hovering over the rocks. On the way down, she sees the leering face rushing at her again. Everyone else sees an owl. As this is broad daylight, people are rather surprised. Euphemia chooses to ignore the owl and concentrate on her spell. The owl scratches her in the face as it goes for her eyes. Euphemia sees a leering face biting at her with fangs and trying to spit in her eye. Alcibiades automatically shoots an arrow at the owl. Or Euphemia, it’s hard to say. Euphemia is hit at any rate but at least the owl leaves Euphemia. It heads for Alcibiades instead and gets him in the face. Alarums and excursions follow. The owl appears to have magical resistance and excellent armour. The “owl” sheds its feathers revealing a humanoid, evil form comparable to Euphemia‘s description during the fight. It eventually dies, leaving a body that appears to have been dead for some time. Phedra detects that the corpse contains 4 pawns of vis in the long pointy teeth, but decides that it is likely to be demonically tainted so does not harvest it. The body is burned. During the fight, some of the creature’s blood is shed onto the tip of Thermistocles’ javelin, which Phedra uses as an arcane connection in an attempt (largely futile) to overcome the creature’s magic resistance.
It is agreed that the party should return to the covenant at this point as several members of the party are wounded. They make it back to the gap in the mountains with no sign of the missing grog. It is agreed that the 2 grogs will try to track him and the rest of the party will wait for the rest of the day. They are back the next morning and report that Eucalion (the missing grog) had been trying to lose pursuit and they lost the trail on the eastern side of the island. It is agreed that the best course of action is to return to the covenant. Phedra suggests that the magi may find something to track him with magically.