- Johannes van Goedenbergh, a Jerbiton magician from Marehuizen;
- Hoede Schutte, the sherrif of Grunloh;
- La Montagne, a male turtoiseshell cat, familiar of Senex;
- Captain Gunther, master-at-arms of Marehuizen;
- Hadefons, former steward of the Lord of Borculo;
- Dorkas, Bjornaer mage from Marehuizen;
- Kaspra, a huntress/poacher from Marehuizen.
The skeleton swings wildly, but due to a fluke (a botch) its arm disconnects before it can hit Johannes, who is cowering in fear, covering his face with his arms. La Montagne jumps onto the skeleton, but there is not much to attack for a cat: nothing that can be bitten or scratched. The skeleton is not impressed, and La Montagne is trying to hang on to a set of ribs. Gunther draws his sword, but is fully aware that he can't do a full swing because of the low ceiling and Johannes crouching close to the skeleton. To his dismay, his sword even slips from his hands and clatters to the ground! (Another botch...) The skeleton now claws at La Montagne, and manages to pry him from his ribs. The cat is wounded and jumps behind Johannes to hide. Hoede also draws his sword, but misses. When the skeleton attacks Hoede, he executes a counter-attack and manages to beat the skeleton into pieces. The bones fall to the ground, unmoving.
Gunther retrieves his sword, cursing himself, while Johannes and La Montagne are relieved to be out of danger. Hoede wonders if these people are really the mighty magicians and their servants that everybody seems to think they are...
The group pulls the stacks of bones apart, but nothing else moves and all is still. Johannes doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary about the bones, but they do seem to have a powerfull aura. Just when the group is wondering what to do, there is some commotion upstairs. One of the men shouts down: "Sherrif! There's someone here who wants to come in!"
When they get back upstairs, they see two of Hoede's men and an old man who is ranting against them about how they destroyed the place. When Hoede comes up, the old man looks up, and says: "Oh, but I know you! You're the sherrif's son!" Hoede explains that he is the sherrif now, too. It turns out to be Hadefons (or "Old Fons" as people are calling him now), who used to be the steward to the Lord of Borculo. He explains that he tried to keep the place in order after the last Lord died, but without any income, he could not stay. He went to live with his son, who lives nearby, and the manor has slowly decayed. That does not mean that Fons is glad to see the elegant wooden panelling destroyed by Hoede's axe, and he complains loudly that in his days, people had respect for other's property, and what is the world coming to when even the sherrif acts like a hoodlum?
La Montagne climbs onto a chair and starts a counter-attack (speaking in human language, but this does not seem to faze Fons). He berates Fons: as the steward, surely he must have known about the unholy rites that were held in the cellar, and why didn't he do anything about it? Fons reacts incredulous, and Johannes orders him to come down with him and Hoede -- to see his reaction. Fons is muttering about the destroyed panelling when he (slowly) goes down the stairs, but he gets quiet when he sees the altar and the blood spatters on the walls. He says: "This wasn't here. This is where we kept the wine, and the barrels of beer were kept over there," pointing to the corner. He also says that down the passage, they kept the hams. When they get to the piles of bones, all of Fons' anger has dissapeared. He repeats over and over that these bones were not here when he was the steward of the manor, when Lord Hendrik was still alive. He mutters: "Lord Hendrik liked men and maybe he liked boys too much. Maybe he took people he should not have taken. But when he was alive, this was not here!"
There is no reason to doubt his sincerity, and so they take Fons back upstairs again, and offer him a chair. Hoede asks him who uses the manor now, but Fons does not know. He had to take care of himself, and while his son and daughter-in-law look after him, Fons has not had the time to keep the manor in order.
Johannes is ill at ease. He suggests interring the bones in a mass grave, but Hoede wants to get to the bottom of the case. And Rudbert, back in Grunloh, is the nearest priest -- it's impossible to get him here today. Gunther suggests to Johannes to get more people from Marehuizen involved, and that seems like a good idea to him. Dorkas and Kaspra had suggested that they could happen to 'scout' near Borculo that day, and La Montagne can locate them if someone came with him. It is decided that Heinz will take his horse and let La Montagne ride with him, following the cat's lead to locate Dorkas and Kaspra. (Meanwhile, Fons has launched into a rant that there should be a new Lord of Borculo, because then this all would not have happened!)
Hoede asks Johannes if they should clear the cellar, and Johannes asks them to bring the bones out of the house, and put them under the lean-to in the courtyard, next to the smithy. Two of Hoede's men find a large tub and start loading up the bones and depositing them outside. Johannes studies the bones: there are some broken bones, but the breaks have already healed -- that means that the bones were not broken when these people were killed. There are about twenty full skeletons, men and women alike. They must have been in their twenties or thirties: there are no bones of children or obviously old skeletons. The bones are almost unnaturally clean, and they feel powerful: there are a source of Infernal Vis! It must be a lot, but it is impossible to determine the form of the Vis without a laboratory. And Infernal Vis is risky business: there are only a few specialists who can use it without any ill effects. All others can use it normally, but the infernal influence will always give a nasty side effect... If this is the secret stash of an unscrupulous magician who is in league with the infernal forces, then this is bad news indeed: what if they come back tonight to defend their stash?
Meanwhile, Gunther has taken a look at the house. Someone (or multiple persons) have stayed in the sleeping quarters, but that was more than a week ago. Johannes shares his thoughts with him, and they think of counter-measures together. Gunther has been trained in defending the mages, and he also know that an attacking mage should not be left alone. Having Gunther present might give them an edge if someone attacks tonight.
Meanwhile, La Montagne has located Dorkas and Kaspra. Dorkas has changed into her Heartbeast, a lynx. Kaspra has donned her falcon cloak. La Montagne gives them a short report of their findings, and Dorkas asks if the men are OK. La Montagne replies that everyone was still alive when he left, thanks to him! Dorkas instructs Heinz to go back to the manor and to tell Johannes they are coming. Kaspra will do a quick recon of the manor from the air, and then meet up with Dorkas near the place where they hid their packs. Kaspra doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary on her fly-by, though she does see someone sitting on a bench outside of the house that's nearest to the manor, who looks at the gate (which is still being guarded) from time to time.
As Heinz returns, two of Hoede's men are building up a fire to cook on. They are complaining they're not going home today, and their wives will probably be worried... And because spending the night here was not in the plans, dinner will be quite meagre... Hoede sends some men into the village to arrange for some blankets to sleep on, so the men can make themselves comfortable on the hay in the stables. But when they return, they are not impressed with what they could get, and the complaining continues. Hadefons asks if he can be excused, and points out his house to Hoede, in case he is still needed. Then he shuffles off.
By that time, Dorkas and Kaspra arrive. When she sees the pile of bones, Dorkas snarls: "Nobility!" and spits on the ground. Johannes fills her in about his misgivings about the situation, and the two mages agree that one of them must be on call at all times in case there is a magic attack. Guard shifts are divided, and Kaspra climbs in a tree in front of the manor with her bow, to keep and eye on things from that side.
No-one sleeps soundly. Dark dreams plague their sleep, and the guards think they see something moving, or hear sounds when all is quiet. Despite the uneasy night, nothing happens, and the morning sees the company cold and miserable. After a meagre breakfast, it is time to make plans for the day. The mages convince Hoede to let them have the bones, so they can examine them in their laboratory. Hoede arranges for an ox cart, and the blankets are used to cover up the bones -- driving a cart with human remains through the country-side would give too many uneasy questions. One of Hoede's men will accompany the cart, so that people who get too nosy can be ordered to move along. Hoede and the remaining men will stay here longer, in order to question the people who live near the manor: someone is bound to have seen something...
Gunther refuses to leave any magician behind at the manor, so the full complement from Marehuizen travels with the cart back to Beltrum, through Grunloh and then on to Marehuizen. There, it is easily determined that the bones could be ground down to create eight pawns of Rego Vis. Quite lot, especially since Rego and Vim Vis will be in short supply when Senex' stores run out for the casting of the Aegis of the Heart ritual... But Senex is adamant: he refuses to have anything to do with Vis that is infernally tainted. Johannes is afraid that someone might distill the Vis if they don't do it, but the rest will have nothing to do with it. What's more: distilling the Vis will destroy the bones, making a Christian burial quite difficult, and Johannes is eager to keep on pastor Rudbert's good side.
It is decided that Damiaan will make a coffin that will 'leak' the Vis power into the earth more quickly, and the mages will offer this up to Rudbert for burial in holy ground. Word is sent to Grunloh, and when the bones are delivered a few days later, Rudbert has made the appropriate preparations. He is curious, and insists on opening the coffin. He is happy that the mages have not tampered with the bones, and he is glad that the mages are men and women of God.
Hoede's investigations have turned up that a stranger has been seen at the manor. A stranger with dark hair and dark eyes, who had visited Lord Hendrik when he was still alive. Once in a while, this person is seen near the manor, without any apparent purpose. The description matches that of the stranger that gave Salle the "medicine" for Hardger, but the mages do not know that yet...