Hein (fub) wrote,

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Marehuizen, session 6

[Wherein it is discovered that someone is trying to make Golems]Dramatis Personae:
- Kaspra, a huntress/poacher from Marehuizen;
- Senex, most senior magician of Marehuizen;
- Landru, Senex' cat-like familiar;
- Rafael, teenaged son of Baruch the Jew.

It is early spring, with both beautiful and bad weather, just before Easter. Dorkas is working in her lab to research the spell she wants to use to turn developed land back into wilderness. She only emerges to eat and has little attention to the daily life of Marehuizen. Senex seems to research local folk dances, and asks around how one could join a group to perform those dances. It is suggested that the festivities just before Easter could be a good occasion for that, but Rudbert had suggested that they're not entirely Christian...
Johannes and Gunther are working on expanding Marehuizen's influence in the immediate surroundings. This has to be done with care, because Hoede seems to be quite jealous of his position as the protector of the common folk around Grunloh. The duo is working on a more-or-less detailed map of the surroundings: roads and paths, farms, farmland (and who tills what soil), etcetera. As part of this operation, a guardhouse of sorts is built along the road, next to the path up to Marehuizen. This house has three walls and has benches for passing people to take a breather and to get out of the rain -- but it is also permanently manned by one of the men from Marehuizen -- not in uniform (they do not wish to provoke Hoede), but in plain clothes.

Kaspra is rambling along the fields, officially to help Johannes with the map, but she is also glad to be out of the convent: with Dorkas researching, there is little for her to do, and she wishes to stay out of Gunther's clutches. Surveying the land is the perfect excuse to get away from any chores that might be given to her! One day, she is walking along the Slinge, from Grunloh to Marehuizen, when she comes upon a strange scene. Someone has been digging up clay from the Slinge, and it looks like they have been playing around with it. Quite a lot has been dug up, probably with a shovel, and there are small heaps of clay to be found on the grass. The clay was too wet to retain its form, so it's hard to make out what it was supposed to be. Upon further inspection, Kaspra discovers two shards of pottery that have been rubbed together to make smaller grains. Those grains have been mixed through one of the heaps of clay. This one was a bit more dry (perhaps due to the pottery) and looks like it has a vaguely humanoid shape. Kaspra does not know what to make of it, and decides to take the shards of pottery with her back to Marehuizen.

Back at Marehuizen, Kaspra shows the pottery-shards to Dorkas, who recognises that they contain Terram Vis, but since it's not one of her specialties, she can't really tell anything further. Dorkas is concerned and wants to get to the bottom of this: why would anyone do this in the open air, and not in a laboratory? She speaks with Senex, who is immediately interested in the details. Since it's only a 20 minute walk to the spot, he decides to go with her -- in the form of a squirrel riding on his Landru, his cat familiar. When they arrive at the site, it looks undisturbed. Senex changes back into human form and walks around for a bit -- he seems concerned. He asks Kaspra for confirmation that the mud piles look human-shaped, which clearly disturbs him.
Then they hear a rider approaching from the direction of Grunloh. It is Rafael, the son of Baruch, in his outlandish clothing. Kaspra positions herself between the road and the piles of clay and raises her hand to greet him. Rafael seems surprised to see two people from Marehuizen walking around along the Slinge. He greets her back and quickly rides on. Senex asks Kaspra if that young man is a Jew -- he sees a worrying connection. He wonders if there have recently been incidents where Jews were victimised, but Kaspra knows of none: Baruch is an influential man who does a lot of good for the area. Senex shares his theory: someone has been trying to make a Golem here. Since Golems fit in with the Jewish magical tradition and Rafael seemed surprised, there might be a connection. Other than the pottery shards, there is nothing magical here, and it seems like all the clay that had been dug up, has been used in the various piles. Since there is no clay missing and the only pile with the magical shards is still around, the attempt must have failed.

When they return at Marehuizen, they have not seen Rafael, but the sentry at the shelter also hasn't seen him come by -- so that means he must have gone off-road. Kaspra decides to use her cloak of feathers to turn into a bird and look for him. Senex sends Matilda with her, in the form of a swallow. Just as it is getting dark, they see him riding in the direction of Grunloh. Following his tracks back, they see that he has left the path to look at the puddles of clay -- but perhaps that was merely to see what Senex and Kaspra had been doing there. As it is getting too dark to see details on the ground, the place where Rafael left or rejoined the path can't be found anymore.
As the two return to Marehuizen, it is time for supper. Kaspra and Matilda report their findings to Senex. The other magicians are within earshot: they are all seated at the main table. Senex concludes that someone is trying to create life, but they're hopeless. However, it gives him pause that they did use a magic tool. He asks the assembled magicians if they think the convenant should get involved, or would they rather wait to see what happens? Captain Gunther asks if there is a chance of a magical threat against the convenant: he got nervous from this talk. Senex tells him that there is no threat at the moment: whoever did this has a very slim chance to succeed. And even if they did, Marehuizen has a powerful shield against magic attacks, so there is no need for additional measures at this time.
However, Senex reminds the other magicians that they know an infernalist is roaming the countryside: Salle's affliction and the bones at Borculo point to that fact. What if our golem-builder gets frustrated and the infernalist offers an easy way to reach his goals? It would be good to know who is trying to build these golems, and Rafael is currently our best lead.
Kaspra offers to visit Grunloh the next day, and Senex offers to send Landru, his cat familiar, with her. Kaspra suggests changing him into a Lynx, for her to walk with a collar -- a not-so-subtle jab at Dorkas (whose heartbeast is a lynx), who rolls her eyes at this. Gunther decides to send out an extra patrol, but when that patrol returns, they haven't seen anything special.

The next day, Kaspra and Landru depart -- making sure that Dorkas saw the two of them together. Walking along the path, Kaspra tries to make out relatively fresh tracks from horses, and finds a spot between Marehuizen and the location of the clay piles where tracks go up and down a side-path. They follow these tracks along a field into a little grove. They find a spot where a horse has been standing still for quite some time. The rider also dismounted, because there are boot marks around. From there, you can keep a watch on the spot with the clay piles in between the trees without being seen. Perhaps this is where Rafael waited for Kaspra and Senex to leave before returning to Grunloh.
They go back to the path and resume their walk towards Grunloh. They encounter various people: a rider on horseback, a farmer pushing a cart around. Walking around with a cat on a leash certainly attracts the attention of the locals, and when a patrol from Hoede's men comes up, they want to know if they come from Marehuizen. (Because who else would think of something this outlandish?) Both of them reply affirmative, and the patrol quickly resumes their rounds...
When they reach Grunloh, they cross the bridge into the village itself and follow the main road to the market square. It's not a market day, so the square is mostly empty. Landru offers to talk to the cats of the Baruch-family, who are the only ones to keep pets. Kaspra decides to enter the inn, to try and talk with the locals about Rafael -- to see if she can learn something about him.

When Landru approaches the house of Baruch, he detects scent-marks from other cats. The house looks well-maintained, and is the only one with a real garden in the back. It is well-tended, with herbs and exotic plants growing in neat rows. One of the cats is lounging about in the garden and hisses at Landru when he approaches. It is a normal cat, incapable of speech. Landru hisses back, and produces sparks -- the other cat flees into the house, hissing from a safe distance. Landru ignores this and takes a good look around the garden. A second cat detects Landru and starts hissing as well.
From within the house, a woman's voice sounds: "What is wrong? Don't act so agitated!" Landru walks towards the voice and finds Shayna, Baruch's wife, standing in the door-opening. Landru tells her: "Hello human! I come in peace!" This prompt Shayna to conclude that her visitor must be from Marehuizen. She wonders why the cat is here: does he have business with Baruch? Landru tells her that he came to talk with her about one of her young, because he has been conducting magical experiments. Shayna clearly does not believe the cat. Landru says: "What concerns us is if he gets an offer of help, and that person offering the help could have evil intentions." Shayna tells Landru that she will discuss it with her husband -- perhaps as a way to end this strange conversation. She does offer Landru to pick a bit of catnip -- her cats like it, so maybe he will too. Then she closes the door.

Kaspra enters the inn around lunch time. About ten people are present. One table has travellers and merchants huddled over their soup, while the large table closest to the counter has several locals sitting together, talking amongst themselves about the preparations for the Easter festivities. Kaspra orders the lunch set and sits down at the table with the locals. She asks about Easter, and is told that the festivities consists of singing, dancing and drinking -- like everywhere else! Of course, Kaspra is not a local so she didn't know... But it is clear they're not willing to discuss the finer points of the local traditions with Kaspra sitting next to them, so the subject is changed. Kaspra is not part of the conversation until Landru walks in. Then one of the locals asks if it's one of those animals from the Jews? Those people are weird: you can't even eat those animals! Kaspra replies that they do eat mice, and the local must concede that cats can be useful. But it's by no means certain that there are mice in that house: perhaps the mice don't even want to live there! They have weird clothes and weird customs. Especially the boy: he has been living with his parents for a few months now, but nobody knows what he does all day...
With her lunch finished, Kaspra greets everybody and walks out of the inn with Landru. Behind their backs, they can hear urgent whispering about these strange visitors...

The two decide to ask Hoede if he has seen something of interest with respect to clay. Their route takes them past the house of Baruch, where they can hear two voices: Shayna and her daughter Keren are at home, but Baruch and Rafael seem to be out. They don't stop to stare at the house: they have aroused enough suspicion for one day! At the house of Hoede, they find an important-looking man sitting on a bench. They ask him if any patrols have seen anything out of the ordinary along the banks of the Slinge. Filled with a sense of self-importance, the man thanks Kaspra for mentioning it, and says that he will discuss it with his boss. If they have any news, they will send a message.
There is not much else for the two to do, and so they return to Marehuizen.
Tags: marehuizen

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