Ars Magica Adventure
“Blood on His Hands”
by Julio Couce
This story was designed for a covenant which was placed in a castle. It wasn´t a very secretive covenant, so the neighbouring peasants knew (or at least suspected) that its inhabitants were magi. If this isn´t your case and you want to use this story, you will have to make some adaptations.
The grogs that guard the covenant tell the magi that there is a person from the neighbouring village that wants to speak to them. It seems that there is no way to dissuade him, and he says that he is not going to leave until he has spoken to the “lords of the castle”. If any of these grogs has Area Lore of 2+, he tells the magi that this peasant is a quite wealthy and well-known one.
When taken before the magi, the peasant, with the hat in his hands and visibly nervous, addressing any magus as “lord” (or “lady”), tells them the following story:
“I didn´t intend to bother your lordships with my problems, but I am sure that my son is going to die horribly if I do nothing, so I have decided to implore your mercy. I have already talked to the priest, but he refused to believe me.Look, about a month ago my son, who is nine year old, began to speak about someone he called his friend Andrew. We didn´t believe him, and we thought he was just letting his imagination run, as he is always doing. However, some weeks later, things began to disappear from the house and I found them in his bedroom. I hit him, but he kept saying that it was his friend the one who had taken them. After that, the thefts stopped.
Yesterday, I found my son crying. When I asked him what the matter was, he told me that he had seen terrifying images. May God forgive me, I didn´t believe him and I told him to stop lying.
But last night, I woke up in the middle of a tormenting nightmare. I had dreamt that I was in a very small and dark place. I lit a torch, and close to me there was a putrid corpse. Its eyes were watery and it was staring at me.
I was still calming myself down when I heard my son shouting. I rushed in his room and found him unsconcious and bleeding copiously. He had a bad wound in his chest. There was nobody else in the room. Later, we looked for footprints near his window, but there wasn´t any.”
This will probably arouse the PCs´ curiosity. Besides, if they helped this peasant, their relationship with the nearby village would probably improve.
So they go to the peasant´s house, which is rather big and relatively luxurious. When they arrive, they find out that the boy has regained consciousness. Nevertheless, he is still in pain and confused and can´t say much. He only says that he heard a noise, woke up and saw a dark shape. He doesn´t remember more.
If any magus examines the wound, he will see that it´s a deep cut, like one made with a knife. The wound has been properly treated and, if it doesn´t become infected, the boy will be recovered soon. Also, with a perception roll, he may realize that perhaps the boy has the gift.
Anyway, something strange is happening and the magi start investigating.
What Had Really Happened
A monk called Brother Andrew came to the village. He was going on a pilgrimage but he became sick, so he decided to rest there for several days.
The following day, when Brother Andrew was going for a short walk, he met another man, Carl Smith (the smith of the village). Six years ago, Smith had killed his wife when he discovered that she was being unfaithful to him. He had buried her body in the forest, and it had never been found. He often had nightmares in which his hands were dirty with blood.
As soon as Brother Andrew saw him, he turned pale and exclaimed: “Your hands!! They´re covered with blood!!”. The hands were not covered with blood, but Brother Andrew had Second Sight and that´s how he saw them.
Smith, horrified to hear the words he most feared, went mad and killed Brother Andrew with his knife. He hid the corpse and later came back to bury it as well.
Brother Andrew´s soul went to purgatory, but his spirit remained here. It went to the village and tried to ask someone to find his body and bury it by Church ceremony. To its dismay, nobody noticed that it was there, speaking.
He eventually found a boy who seemed to hear what it was saying, but only a little. This boy had the gift and was more sensitive than any other person in the village. Brother Andrew´s spirit decided that he would keep speaking to this boy until he finally got the message. When he realized that the boy wasn´t doing anything to discover his body, he began to hide things to get his attention and, when this failed, to send him desperate images of his corpse.
Finally, the boy understood what the ghost wanted and began asking questions about Andrew. Smith heard about that and became very frightened. He decided to go into the boy´s bedroom one night and kill him.
Things The PCs May Do
There are many things they can do; some of them are listed below:
- Casting a ritual like Eyes of the Past (InIm 20) in the bedroom of the boy: If they aren´t reluctant to spend some vis, this is a good option because the peasant can tell them approximately when the boy shouted. This ritual will allow the caster to see a man entering the room through the window. Then, he makes some noise and the boy wakes up and shouts. The man slashes him with a knife he is holding and escapes. It´s possible to see the man´s face at the moonlight and, if described (roll for communication) to someone with Area Lore of 2+, he will be recognized as the smith of the village.
- Looking for footprints near the window of the room: The peasant had said that there wasn´t any footprint, but this is just because he didn´t find any. Unfortunately, there are plenty of new footprints from the peasant and his family. Only with a Per + Hunt roll of 13+, some different ones can be found. They cannot be followed, for the earth is quite hard there.
- Asking questions: If they ask in the inn of the village about someone called Andrew (and pass a Communication roll), the innkeeper will tell them that some weeks ago, a monk called Andrew came to her inn. He said he would remain there for a week, but the next day he went to have a walk and didn´t return, leaving some possessions in his room. (If they can get any of these possessions, they will be able to find him – his corpse- with a Corpus spell). Also, some people in the village, when asked about the boy, could tell them that he had been asking about someone called Andrew.
- Talking with Smith: If they walk through the village, you should tell them: “Through the opened door of a cabin, you see a small fire. Judging by the noises you hear, it seems to be the smith of the village working.” If they enter and talk to him, he will be very polite and answer all their question (obviously, lying if it´s necessary). Someone with a high Per + Guile, might suspect that he´s concealing something.
- Reading the boy´s mind: Good idea. This way, they can find out that he began seeing a pale monk smiling at him and saying “I´m Andrew”. Several days later, he told him “Look for me”. The boy didn´t know where to find him, so he did nothing. Then, several things disappeared from the house and were found in his room. He was sure that Andrew had taken them, but nobody believed him. Some days ago, he started having nightmares and seeing visions of Andrew´s corpse. Somehow, he knew by intuition that Andrew was dead and that he wanted him to find his body. He asked several people, but none of them knew someone called Andrew.
- Making a spell like Incantation of Summoning the Dead (ReMe 25), using the name Andrew for the ghost: Brilliant! 8) When a magus casts this spell in the house, he (and only he) is able to see a very pale man dressed like a monk. The image is blurred and he (or it) appears to be weak and very tired. It doesn´t seem to hear anything the magus says. It simply stands still and whispers: “Go to ________ (place near the village) and rescue me. Beware the man with bloody hands.” Then, it fades away.
- Going to _______ (after learning somehow the importance of this place): When they arrive at ________, any person with second sight will see the same ghost standing under a tree. Digging there, they will find a skeleton. If they are looking for the corpse but don´t see the ghost, they´ll have to find it by other means (like an InCo spell).
Well, those are the possibilities I could think of. Probably, the PCs will come up with something different.
- If anybody with Second Sight sees Smith´s hands, he will see them covered with blood.
- If a magus/a is looking for an apprentice, and he realizes that the boy has the gift, he might persuade his father to let him take the boy as an apprentice.
- It depends on the relationship between the PCs and the local priest, but normally, he won´t pleased at all when he discovers that the PCs are not minding their own business.
- When discovered, Smith will try to hit his accuser with his hammer and run away.
If they manage to solve the problem, the boy´s father is very satisfied, and probably the PCs can count on him when they need a contact in the village. Moreover, they gain a level 1 reputation in the village as helpful (if they hadn´t that reputation before). On the other hand, the priest will be resentful.
Also, it would be a good idea to bury Brother Andrew by Church ceremony, for his ghost is not going to stop being a nuisance until then.
Note: This adventure is intended to make the PCs interact with people from the village (and perhaps have a good quarrel with the local priest), and to let a PC find an apprentice when he wants to train one. It is not intended to be a difficult adventure. (In fact, if the PCs don´t know what to do, they can always wait until the boy is well enough to tell them more information, though they will have to be vigilant if they don´t want the attempt of murder to be repeated).
We haven´t played it yet, but I think that it might end too quickly if the PCs do the appropriate things. For example, if they go to the house, cast Eyes of the Past, identify Smith, go to talk with him and read his mind, the adventure will be almost finished in a moment. To prevent this from happening you may want to give the PCs less useful information. (For example, if they cast Eyes of the Past, tell them that they can´t see clearly the face of the man, because of the poor light.)
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