Poking around…

There is one set of black robes. A long under robe (such as you might wear around the lab: the sleeves are plain and wouldn’t get in the way of working at a table or mixing ingredients) and a plain black outer robe in slightly thicker material which has long elaborate sleeves such as might well get in the way. Poking around further you find a pair of sandals and some long, rather dirty stockings. Gah-CHA! but that’s dusty. There’s a loin cloth.

All are just crumpled on top of each other: the stockings still inside the sandals. Yes, very much as if someone just disappeared.

There is no second set of clothing.

Inside the alcove with the corpses… They are of varying ages and stages of decomposition but none have been preserved by anything special, just dryness. They probably lay in dry, stone tombs rather than being buried. Some are wrapped in shrouds. Some just lie in the clothes they died in. A couple have had their chests opened and organs removed: it’s not possible to tell what. One has had both legs removed. One has had both hands removed.

All right, I can see a use case for “reduce victim to dust”; and presumably the smoking sandals have long since gone out. But that still doesn’t account for the apprentice.

How many of the corpses have had nothing obviously removed? (Not rummaging around, just a quick visual inspection.)

There are three intact, if not fresh, corpses.

Any hope of getting rough ages at death, to see if there’s any consistency with the two missing people? (Not really expecting much here.)

Working theory: mage drops the pottery tube. It breaks. Disease goes off, and he’s reduced to dust. Apprentice catches the fringes of it. But what happens to him? I don’t even have a story that is consistent with everything yet, never mind a story that I think might be true.

You don’t have any training in Medicine so you can’t use that Ability.

You can see that they all appear full grown and you think that they have all been dead longer than six months.

You could improvise a Spontaneous Spell (base 5: obtain a specific piece of information about a corpse) and have quite a good chance of succeeding.

All right. “What is the date of death of this person”. Int (15) + Corp (5)?

@MichaelCule asked for a die roll:
Plus another three for the aura of the place. (The lab is augmented to help in Corpus and Mentem but I don’t think that applies to simple spell casting.) Plus another two for augmenting the spell with loud speech and vigorous motions. (Nobody to see or hear down here)

stress 1+25: 1 × 5 = 5, +25 = total 30

Right. 30 halved is 15. Base 5 as I said, plus range touch and duration concentration allows Diligentus to go about the alcoves and gather a series of death dates.

All of them died in the past fifteen years. The two freshest both died on the same day: about five years ago and on a Tuesday in April. The others were scattered across the year.

File under poisson gules then. All right. We still have the matter of the missing apprentice. If whatever affected the master affected him, we should see his robes.

Hm. Are there any spaces I haven’t looked at so far?


The store room (and the improvised bedroom for the apprentice) you’ve already looked in. That dormouse looks at you reproachfully again.

Inside the other room is the magus’s quarters. It is scarcely less spartan than the apprentice’s living space. The bed is up off the floor and there is a woolen blanket over the straw matting. There’s a wooden headrest rather than a pillow. The air smells of must.

On a table there’s one of the magical lights you’ve seen around the covenant still glowing dimly. If you turn it up to a higher setting you can see that the desk it’s on has an inkpot and a small sealed bottle half filled with a black liquid. There is a supply of quills and a pen knife. In a shelf above the desk is a sequence of scroll, each marked with a start date and a terminal date. They go back decades. One scroll with a start date last October rests on the desk itself, neatly rolled up: there is some parchment rolled up on one side and some still unrolled on the other. (No, he didn’t use wooden spools: they seem to be a thing mostly used in Torah scrolls.)

All right. Traditionally working notes are in chicken-scratch with allusionary references, but let’s see if I can make any sense of it…

@MichaelCule asked for a die roll:
You sit down with the light and a chair, take down the scrolls and try to get things arranged. You find a chalkboard yu can scrath notes on.

Time passes. After a while the guard in the corridor shouts down to you and says that lunch is being served. Perhaps you went and got something to eat… Perhaps you didn’t. It all gets a bit blurry.

Int Plus Magic Theory plus a bonus from your high Intellego score. (I think that applies.)

stress 1+9: 1 × 3 = 3, +9 = total 12

When you finally put down the scroll you are trying to read, your eyes are aching and you know only a little more than you did at the start.

But you are clear about the following:

The clay tube was the container for an enchantment that the necromancer believed would grant him immortality.

Now, the Order has found good and reliable magic for life extension but not Life Everlasting. It would violate the Limit of True Nature to make a man (classically defined as a mortal creature) and make him immortal. Every attempt to do so has involved transforming the human into something inhuman. It appears that the late Desiderius had decided that was acceptable to him. He was planning to destroy his physical body and tranform himself into… Well, you think the phrase he’s using means ‘Living Spirit’. He doesn’t seem to have anticipated being moved to the next world so much as being an altered thing in this.

Half the trick is to destroy the body instantly. And the other half is to simultaneously create the new ‘ghost’ form.

To do this he had bound a spirit into the one-use enchantment that was set up to power the killing. And he was going to summon and bind another which would power the transformation. Both would be destroyed in the ritual.

The last journal entry was full of gloating over his prospects of never being afraid again. He seems to have been afraid of a lot of things. The fact that a necromancer should fear death so much… It’s not clear if that’s ironic or exactly what you’d expect.

All right. So the killing enchantment worked (perhaps prematurely), and the transformative enchantment didn’t. How does “create a new ghost form” (which presumably hasn’t happened, given the lack of ghosts, and indeed only a single broken item) map to “infect an apprentice with even more pustules than they usually have”? Spillover from the “kill the body”? But where is the dust?

I blame the dormice.

(The dormouse looks as though he might contact the Dormouse Anti-Defamation League.)

The answer to your first question is: It doesn’t. The killing effect envisioned in the ritual is a simple direct blast of Perdo Corpus magic powered by a spirit. The touch of the part of the destroyed device (you think a shard of bone?) would have destroyed the body and itself. No disease was envisioned in any part of the effect.

Unless the spell went very badly wrong no such thing should have occurred.

The place is pretty clean despite the mingled smells of decay and preservatives. The little dust is all around the remaining robes, as if it formed from the destruction of a body in them.

There has been no sign of any spirit.

(I will remind you of the other thing you found and point you towards the rules on Arcane Connections on p84 and 112.)

If the quill is a particularly favourite tool, it might still have a connection to Desiderius (in whatever form he now is). What could one do with that? Communicate with him, presumably. Would that be Int Ment? Doesn’t seem to be anything explicitly associated with spirits…

Go back up the chain to the post I made 18 days ago.

I think you have forgotten what you were told then.

The stone is an Arcane Connection to a place. Sure. I’d still like to see if the quill would lead to anything, but failing that, one might as well try the stone; Summoning the Distant Image is at least a preconstructed spell.

A quill wears out (quite quickly) but a pen-knife was something you might keep all your life and the one on the desk looks like it has seen some use.

However, see p152 in the Corebook. INCANTATION OF SUMMONING THE DEAD. It’s a Rego, rather than Intellego Mentem spell. It’s ritual and level 40. The place where someone died is always an Arcane Connection to a spirit, assuming it’s not in heaven or hell. It’s not normally possible to Spontaneously cast a Ritual spell. (I’m willing to be corrected on that but that’s my impression of the rules.) Who knows what there might be in the library…

And of course you do have SUMMONING THE DISTANT IMAGE. It’s IntIm if you want to cast it which is the +21 noted in your character sheet plus another 3 for the aura of the covenant.