The brigands looked like they might be sargeants or other footsoldiers recently returned or deserted from the crusades, and politely (more or less) asked a toll for the passage of the wagon. Anna, equally politely, declined. Violence proceeded to erupt. Several brigands charged while several more prepared their bows. At Anna's command, vines sprung up from the ground entrapping one of the charging brigands while her guards leapt to intercept the other. He was quickly cut down, as a few ill-aimed arrows fell around the wagon. The guards turned to pursue the archers, who fled. Anna called them back and they quickly moved the wagon around the trapped brigand leader who cursed after them but could do little. Behind them they left one dead in the middle of the road.
Of the Rochehaut Magi, all attended save Hermano who gave his sigil to Julius. It was noted at the time the the Magus Rillion, who dwelt in no covenant was absent from the Tribunal, a fact which worried Julius somewhat since they were auld acquaintances.
The highlights of the Tribunal were many. Wulfgar filius Cesare of Pandrin Covenant challenged for his sigil and was defeated.
Bremmeren Covenant accused Stonehollow Covenant of Diabolitry, a repeat of accusations leveled at the last Tribunal and dismissed. The representatives of Stonehollow denied the charges and each submitted to the Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie to attest to the truthfulness. It was mentioned that such spells would be of no use if the member in question were in fact a demon in disguise. Still the vote of censure was defeated with the vote mostly along Covenant lines with Bremerren and Pandrin voting for the censure. With the loss of the vote, Bremerren slips one step further towards Winter. Quaesitor Jeremiah stated that further accusations should be accompanied by some proof.
A vis source located between Pandrin and Lakehome was contested. The source was closer to Pandrin, but had been discovered by Lakehome - thus the issue was Proximity against Seniority. Pandrin, a Tremere Covenant, wished to settle the issue by Certamen. That motion was defeated, and the ensuing vote was in favor of Seniority. The magi of Rochehaut voted against Certamen and for Seniority with the exception of Octavian who favored Certamen. The issue of Seniority is important to Rochehaut since they have a Vis source which is nearer to Stonehollow than to themselves, but Rochehaut has the senior claim.
Their trip was relatively uneventful. They travelled down the Rhone until they found a small tributary leading Northwest. They followed that until a certain rock formation indicated the canyon that they should ascend. They progressed up the canyon, eventually discovering a waterfall and a flight of stone stairs beside it. At the top, they found themselves in a cut in the stone, perhaps one hundred feet deep and three hundred feet long, varying in width from forty to eighty feet. The stream sprang from a source at the far end.
Closer examination showed that the spring was beneath a well house, but that both entrances of the well house were marked as a Sanctum, doubtless that of Rillion. After some debate, and peeking through windows at the laboratory beyond, it was decided not to risk violating the Sanctum.
No such qualms prevented them from entering the cave which served as living quarters for the magus - and for a servant or friend, it would seem, since there were two beds. Some hair was gathered from each bed, but little else of interest was discovered, although the cave was opulently furnished. As the Magi began to sketch a rough map upon some parchment found in the cave, Narryn and Caerwissan made camp as Lyper went to hunt.
Anna cast the Inexorable Search utilizing some of the hair found in the larger and more sumptuous of the two beds. There was no twitch whatsoever, disappointing the magi. A second casting indicated that the target of the spell was down the valley some small distance. Laurel took her owl shape to fly down the valley and join Lyper, hunting in that direction, in order to investigate.
Alas, Lyper would not be joining anyone ever again. Laurel found him dead, mauled by a wolf it seems. Returning to the others she shared her knowledge. Umberto summoned the winds to fly down and retrieve the body. While there he noticed a wolf hiding in the brush nearby, as though in ambush. After some time, he managed to raise the body of the dead grog with his magics without exposing himself to the wolf, and then returned to the camp. Lyper was buried, a watch was established and the fire built up.
At midnight, the guard of Umberto and Narryn felt a chill, and then saw coming towards them from the end of the valley (the end with the sheer 100 foot high cliff), a strange figure dressed like a Gaulish warrior of ancient days. The moon suddenly glinted off of raw bone in his face, and the alarum was given.
As the magi prepared for battle, a hot, overpowering, unnatural rage overtook them and they were hard pressed to restrain themselves from charging the creature. Narryn, calmly hefted his sword and went forth to purchase the Magi time to cast their spells. The price was nearly his left arm. His attack was brushed aside and the counter stroke from the antique shortsword of the ghoul left him clutching a half-severed arm in shock.
But he had succeeded! Even as Umberto and Laurel grabbed the creature with their magics to lift him from the earth, Anna caused entwining vines to spring from the earth and trap his legs.
As they did so, though, a wolf broke from cover and charged Narryn! They struck and rolled on the ground for a moment, before Anna turned and sent a Pilum of Fire into the flank of the beast. With an inarticulate cry, the wolf fled, leaving Narryn shaken but unharmed.
After some debate, the undead creature was dismembered, but it was not until the red crystal was removed from where his heart should be that he stopped moving. His remains were buried, and the crystal was investigated magically and found to contain Corporem Vis.
Laurel bandaged Narryn's wounds, and in order to save the arm, Umberto used his magical arts to further aid the wounded man. It would be necessary for him to aid the man each morning and evening in this fashion until they returned to the Covenant and more natural methods could be used.
The next morning the wolf was tracked to his lair and found to be not a wolf, but a man! He called himself Karl Rittenvald, and claimed to be Rillion's companion of several years. After much discussion, he explained that he felt Rillion had met with foul play, and that Karl was certain that the villains would return to loot his Sanctum. Against that day, Karl kept watch and when the magi arrived, he was sure he had found his killers. The magi convinced him of their good will and a truce was reached.
The magi then returned to the Covenant, where they made use of the maps there to again attempt to locate Rillion. After several fruitless days, they came to the conclusion that he was dead, farther away than their magic could reach, or behind some form of mystic shield that they could not penetrate. Some voiced suspicions about Pandrin, since a powerful enough Aegis would prevent the spell from detecting the missing mage.
He flew to Marseilles and contacted Sir Lorâil, who gave him several names, Monsieur Grimeton and Monsieur Moustaud. Moustaud turned out to run a profitable grocery and seemed disinclined to leave. Grimeton was living on Lasâil's estate and seemed a dour and bitter man - due in part to his having lost a leg in the Crusades. He was not wildly excited about the idea but wished to check with Sir Lorâil. Umberto was left with an odd feeling from both Sir Lorâil and Grimeton. Upon returning the next day, he was informed by M. Grimeton that the job would be acceptable. Umberto hedged and declined, feeling that if he accepted he would be hiring a spy for Sir Lorâil and perhaps endangering the Covenant's autonomy. (The Covenant and village is sufficiently small and isolated that no one much worries about it, although the Inn is under the control and taxation of a nearby Baron and the village nominally so.)
While in the city, though, he had made contact with the Hospitalers and learned that two of their order had recently returned from the Crusades and left the order. The soldiers, André and Jacques, were performing one last mission for the order by carrying messages to the chapter house in Avignon. Umberto spent a day purchasing some small items and arranging for them to be sent to the Inn's agent in Avignon, then followed in flight. (The usual practice being to walk out of the city a few hours, then take to the air, then land a few hours walk away.)
In the city, contact was made with André and Jacques. Both were interested in the idea, although it turned out that André was in fact a lay brother of the church and was very interested in the religious practices and souls of the villagers. Umberto was a little hesitant about inviting a priest to live in the valley and spend his spare time converting the villagers, but wasn't dead set against it. So he hedged and arranged for the pair to visit the village in a few weeks time.
He returned to the Covenant and sounded out the other magi. The covenant was divided on the issue, and Umberto decided not to push it.
When the ex-Hospitalers arrived at the Inn, Umberto explained that the offer had been withdrawn, but the invitation to visit was still extended. Jacques went over well with the villagers and magi, but André was a hair too evangelical for most of the magi to feel comfortable. "It's a pity they come as a pair," was the comment often overheard. He seemed genuinely concerned for the souls of the villagers and magi, but was unwilling to abide by the status quo.
After a week or two, they showed no signs of leaving and, finally, Umberto prodded them after which they departed.