Tag Archives: ars magica

Magi I would like to play

I was thinking about possible Ars Magica magus characters, and came up with the following ideas.  These are nowhere near fleshed out, but I may add details at a later date.

  • A Bjornaer with a badger heartbeast.  Reclusive, with dependents.  While he belongs to a covenant, he chooses to live with his family, on the outskirts of a nearby village.  He sees his role as a protector of the “rustic life”, defending his village and woods.  He helps the villagers with problems, but is not gently gifted.
  • A Criamon with the Gentle Gift, Enchanting Music and Deft Imaginem.  He enjoys  interacting with mundanes, and using his abilities to craft stories and songs.  He believes that dreams are mini-glimpses into the borders of the enigma, and seeks to “collect” dreams of mundanes.
  • A Flambeau magus with Elemental Magic.  He wishes to become a Hoplite, and feels he has something to prove to his master (and house?) since Ignem is not his favorite Form.   He has some good combat scores, and possibly Subtle/Quiet Magic or a Deft Form.  He has a Deficiency in Intellego and relies on others to help determine where he needs to apply his power.  This bothers him a bit.
  • A Guernicus with a talent for Corpus and Mentem.  He sees spirits and ghosts as an untapped investigative resource.  He tends to be slow with his judgments, believing that there is always more to the story, if only he had a way to uncover it.  He dislikes being lied to and tends to overreact when feeling like someone has been dishonest with him.
  • A Jerbiton magus interested in plants, whose goal is to create a garden or conservatory showcasing rare plants, and possibly animals.  Possibly an affinity with Herbam and puissant Creo, but a compulsion to keep everything well-organized, and a cyclic magic penalty in Autumn and Winter.  He will want to will seek out magical and mundane resources from which to collect plant specimens, and be willing to travel to get them.
  • A Merinita with Strong Faerie Blood (Satyr) who somehow also developed the Gentle Gift.  He appreciates the finer things in life, and seeks a hedonistic lifestyle.  He sees his faerie background as a tool toward that lifestyle, but is Plagued by a powerful faerie queen who was spurned by his satyr father.
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An “Abandoned” Regio

Andrew rolled over, trying to avoid the latest rock jabbing him in the back, only to find that larger one he first lay down on at the end of his watch last night was still there.  The first glimmer of sunrise was just starting to cast a rosy-golden glow across the stream, dissipating the mist over the water .  Andrew sighed and pulled off the blanket.  “May as well rise and see if Gerard needs help getting breakfast going.”  Of course, Gerard had fallen asleep on watch; why the masters kept him on was a mystery.  Andrew stood, ready to kick the lazy grog awake, when he noticed the small bridge across the stream shimmering in the mist.  It looked rather decrepit from what Andrew could see, and it had not been there last night.

This island regio was once claimed by a now defunct covenant, and has since been abandoned by those in the mundane world.  A stream surrounds the island and appears to have no source; the water just flows around the island like a “living” moat.  The only apparent way onto the island is via the bridge.  The bridge, constructed of wood and about two paces wide, contains eight arches woven from various types of branches over the path, and only appears at dawn on certain days of the year.  The stream it crosses is much wider than the stream visible in the mundane world.  The half of the bridge nearest the mundane side is decrepit, with planks missing from the walkway, the railing missing in places, and two of the arches broken.  The magic half of the bridge is meticulously maintained, with living vines and bright flowers decorating the arches and railings; the planking is polished.  

From the island, the far bank of the stream is shrouded in mist.  Crossing the stream from the island leads immediately back to the mundane world.  The island is roughly 1500 paces across, is gently hilly and is covered by a forest, with several paths meandering through.  Birds and small wildlife can be heard and seen in the trees and scampering through the underbrush.   The island rises toward the center, and a low, slightly crumbling wall containing an arch on one side encircles an area about 50 paces across.  Within the wall, the forest continues, and at the very center are seven crumbling stone columns.  Walking a particular path spiraling around the island toward the center and passing through the arch in the wall reveals the next level of the regio.  There is vis to be found on the island, in the flowers, animals, and stones, but the island has guardians.

A family of fauns inhabits the island, and serve as guardians and caretakers.  They live in a small cave in the side of one of the hills, facing the stream.  Anyone harming the plants, animals, paths, or stone structures immediately gains the attention of the appropriate faun.  (Straying off the paths is likely to harm some plant in some way.)  All four fauns know the way to the next level, but are reluctant to disclose that another level exists or how to get there, until the visitor gains their trust.

  • Trames is a male faun who maintains the bridge and the paths.  He is upset that no one has been maintaining the far side (mundane half) of the bridge, and will bar entry to the regio until that is fixed.  He can also change the arrangement of the paths, although the path to the next level of the regio is fixed.
  • Calx is a male faun and maintains the wall.  He sometimes adds a stone back on, and sometimes removes one, all in an effort to make the wall as aesthetically pleasing as possible.  He knows every stone in the wall, and has a story for almost every one.  He appreciates new and interesting stones to add to the wall.  He does not appreciate anyone climbing over the wall, as that would likely displace some of the stones.  Calx is the most gregarious of the fauns and can usually be found working on part of the wall or arch.
  • Silve is a female faun and cares for the plants on the island.  She is the least trusting of the fauns because she remembers the careless harm previous magi inflicted in their hunt for vis on the island.
  • Opilia is a female faun and cares for the animals and birds on the island.  She is also the most reclusive of the fauns, but will act swiftly if one of the island’s creatures is harmed.

All four fauns can become invisible at will, can use their pipes to induce people to sleep, and can push people out of the regio, landing them back in the mundane world somewhere within three miles of the bridge.

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Ars Magica Sample of Play

The magi have discovered a magical regio near their covenant, and decide to investigate. Margo is playing Iocasta ex Criamon and Charles plays Calamus ex Bonisagus. The other two players, Owen and Brianna are playing Andrew, a musician with the virtue Second Sight, and two grogs (Mattias and Hubert). Peter, the Story Guide, sets the scene …

Peter: As you step off the bridge over the stream and into the regio, a lightly wooded forest spreads out before you. Several of the trees look ancient, and the undergrowth is thick in places. A path leads from the foot of the bridge, winding through the trees.

Margo: Iocasta sniffs the air, and starts casting a spell to detect vis.

Peter: With a duration of concentration and range sight, that’s a level five Intellego Vim spell. To cast with fatigue, you’ll need to cast a level 10 spell.

Margo: I have a high Vim score, so it might be possible to cast without fatigue, or to get a duration of sun. <Margo rolls a die, with a result of 7.> With my Intellego Vim score of 13, that’s at least 20, so I’ll expend the fatigue level to get at least level 10 and a sun duration. Iocasta chuckles a bit as the spell takes effect.

Peter: The colors around you sharpen a bit, but nothing glows brightly indicating the presence of vis.

Charles, speaking as Calamus: I think we should best stay on the path. We know not what lives in this place, and t’would be best to avoid antagonizing those who may be our hosts.

Owen: Andrew is using his Second Sight to see if there’s anything he can notice that way. <Owen rolls a die, with a result of 2.> With my Perception and Second Sight skill, that’s five, probably not enough to see anything new.

Peter: Nope, nothing else comes into focus for you. What are the grogs doing?

Briana: Mattias and Hubert are a little surprised to find themselves in the wood. Mattias will keep his axe handy, but Hubert is ogling the surroundings. He moves to the middle of the path after Calamus’ warning.

Charles: Let’s move forward on the path, and keep our eyes open.

Peter: Okay. The path curves toward the left, going uphill away from the bridge, then curves back right and descends. A break in the trees reveals a depression in the forest, filled with bright blue, pink and purple wildflowers. Many red and gold butterflies flutter around the flowers. The path continues, curving to the right around the depression. Iocasta, several of the flowers glow brightly in your enhanced vision but they don’t seem to have a steady glow.

Margo: Ooh. Iocasta gets excited about the vis. What do you mean the glow isn’t steady? Is there vis there?

Peter: Roll your perception plus Awarness to get a better look; are you stepping off the path?

Charles: No!

Margo: I’d rather see what I can tell from here. <Margo rolls a die, getting a 2.> So that’s four. Can I tell what’s making the vis flicker?

Peter: Not without getting closer.

Margo: I don’t want to get too close just yet. Let’s keep going.

Briana: The grogs look around, trying to see what caused the break in the trees or if anything else might be living in the depression.

Peter: Okay, roll your Perception plus Awareness.

Briana: <Rolling a die for each grog.>  Mattias rolled a five, and Hubert rolled a seven if his specialty in wooded areas applies.

Peter: The specialty applies, and Hubert notices that a huge broken stump lies just off the path, outside the depression. The fallen tree should have blocked the path when it fell, but it doesn’t. You can still see the trunk of the tree, slightly raised off the ground in the middle of the depression, and some of the branches on the far side. It looks like the tree took down a number of smaller trees when it fell. As you get closer to the broken stump, it appears the path branches here, one way continuing around and out of the depression, the other way leading to the trunk of the tree, which has apparently been used as a natural bridge over the depression.

Owen: Is it big and sturdy enough to walk across?

Peter: While it is wide enough to go single file, it looks a little tricky in places. The very bottom of the depression isn’t visible due to the flowers and other growth, but you guess a fall would be at most ten feet.

Margo: I’d love to get a closer look at the flowers, so I’m going to walk out onto the log bridge.

Briana: Hubert will follow, since he wants to stick close to Iocasta. He know the kinds of trouble she can get herself into, and wants to be close to help get her out.

Peter: As Iocasta steps onto the log, it rocks a bit to one side.

Charles: Wait a moment, Iocasta. Let me secure the bridge before you walk out. Calamus wants to cast a Rego Herbam spell to hold the log steady. <Charles rolls a die, getting a result of 1; he rolls again, getting a 10.> Wow! That’s twenty, plus my Rego Herbam casting score of eleven, for 31, plus whatever the aura is.

Peter: Nice roll! Keeping the log steady with a concentration duration would be a level five spell. That log is not moving, as long as you concentrate, and you don’t need to use a fatigue level.

Margo: Excellent! Iocasta walks out onto the bridge.

Briana: Hubert follows, but not too close.

Peter: Even though the log is steady, the surface is still pretty uneven. You need to make dexterity stress rolls of three or better to avoid slipping off. <Peter decided that the original ease factor of nine should be greatly reduced, given Calamus’ success with his steadying spell.>

Margo: I rolled a nine, plus my Dexterity of one for ten. Iocasta practically skips along, she’s so excited about the vis!

Briana: <Her die roll shows a zero.> Uh-oh. That’s not good. Even with my Dexterity and Athletics skill, if I can use it here, I’m only at a two.

Peter: Hubert is going to slip off the log and fall. Roll two botch dice; let’s see if anything really bad happens. <Neither of the botch dice Briana rolls shows a zero.> Okay, Hubert gets snagged on a branch sticking out from the log, and loses his balance trying to get loose. He does manage to grab the branch as he slides off the log, which eases his fall. He ends up on his back, cushioned by the underbrush, as a flurry of butterflies and flower petals form a cloud around him, but he is uninjured.

Margo: Iocasta sighs, and shakes her head at the grog’s clumsiness, but she asks Hubert if he’s okay.

Briana: I think so, mistress, just had the wind knocked out me. Hubert’s going to get up, and walk back to the others.

Peter: Hubert brushes off the foliage stuck to him, and starts back up the side of the depression, crushing some of the plants in his way. A woman with tightly curled ram’s horns in her hair appears in front of Hubert, and demands, “What have you done to my children, mortal?” Calamus, the sudden appearance requires that you make a Concentration roll of at least six to maintain your steadying spell.

Charles: <Rolling a die, and adding his Stamina and Concentration.> No problem. Calamus’ eyes widen at the sudden appearance, but his spell does not waver.

Margo: Iocasta glances nervously at Calamus, then addresses the woman. “Good morning, Fair One. We mean no harm to you or your family!”

Peter: The woman takes a step closer to Hubert, and you see the plants bend around her so that her movement does not bruise them. You also notice that she while she has two legs, she has the lower body and legs of a goat. A set of reed pipes hangs around her neck, and a small pouch from a belt at her waist. She responds, “No harm?! It will be weeks before those crushed by this oaf return to health! You should not have come here.” Hubert, what do you do?

Briana: Hubert takes a step back and pulls his axe from his belt.

Margo: “Hubert, put that away!” Iocasta strides back along the log toward the rest of the group.

Peter: The faun’s eyes flash silver at the sight of the axe. “I should expel you for your insolence!”

At this point, the players have a number of options. Perhaps one of the magi could attempt to pull Hubert out of the depression with a Rego Corpus spell. Andrew could use his Enchanting Music ability to try to calm the situation. Hubert could beg forgiveness. The group could try to bargain with the faun. Starting a fight is also an option, but probably not desirable, given that the magi set out to explore the regio, and probably want to be able to come back at some point. Peter, as Story Guide, know what the faun wants, and the powers she can bring to bear on the situation. The entire group knows that this story is about exploration and investigation, so they are probably not going to try to make an enemy or engage someone they just met in physical combat.

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Books

I’ve been trying to jostle my creative brain by spending a few minutes each day writing a list of something.  So far, I’ve got “names for swords”, “items of jewelry”, and “things found in an abandoned dwarven mine”, among several others.  Today’s list was “book titles” which got a little silly (Auntie Medalia’s Guide to Poultices, Balms, and Salves is kind of my favorite), and probably resulted from my perusing a new-to-me blog about medieval books.  (I sent the link to my Ars Magica group, who are appropriately geeked-out.)  But the book theme intrigues me, so here are a few books for an Ars Magica saga …

On the Interactions between Forms and Techniques  (Magic Theory Summa level 5, quality 8) by Thomas ex Bonisagus.  Written in Latin on parchment, illuminated and illustrated, bound with leather-covered wooden boards.  The book systematically addresses all 50 combinations of forms and techniques, organized by form.  If the book is left open during a new moon, the symbols for the techniques glow with their associated color (white for Creo, gold for Intellego, fluctuating colors for Muto, black for Perdo, and purple for Rego); this is a side effect of Thomas’ sigil and has no other effects.  However, so thoroughly did the author treat the techniques, that a season of study just on one technique discussed in the book gives the benefit of a tractatus of quality 8 on that technique.

Man’s Magnificent Mansion (Mentem Summa level 9, quality 7) by Iocasta ex Criamon.  Written in Latin on parchment, illuminated and illustrated, bound with hard leather covers, dyed green.  The front cover has been worked into the image of a face with glass eyes, which, from sitting Iocasta’s lab for a long period has developed some warping, and now has the virtue, piercing gaze.  Some claim the face laughs at them, but the laughter may be the echo of Iocasta’s sigil.

De Alterationes (Muto tractatus, quality 7) by Iocasta ex Criamon.  Written in Latin on parchment, illuminated, as an extended scroll sewn to a soft leather cover.  The sentence “Woe to one who unfurls this scroll without first paying tribute to its author; you shall find the contents too unwieldy,” are the first words written in the text, and are immediately followed by an illustration of a naked laughing woman, which is the only illustration in the book.  Anyone unrolling the scroll past this point without kissing the image triggers the magical effect instilled in the book:  the scroll unfurls and unfurls and unfurls, resulting in a huge and unwieldy scroll, one-thousand times longer than the original.  Iocasta was known for her sense of humor.  (The Terribly Long Scroll MuAn(Re)30: Makes the scroll 1000 times longer and unrolls it completely, one time per day for sun duration.  Base 4, +1 req, +2 Sun, +3 size)

On the Care and Healing of Beasts (Animal tractatus and Animal Handling tractatus, quality 6) by Boniface ex Bjornaer.  Written in Latin on linen sheets, bound with polished wood with silver and pearl decorations.  Also contains lab texts for the spells True Rest of the Injured Beast and Soothe the Ferocious Bear.

Stimulating the Senses (Imaginem tractatus, quality 8) by Carolinus ex Jerbiton.  Written in Latin on parchment, illuminated and illustrated, bound with hardened leather decorated with quartz, and containing a bookmark made of five brightly dyed cloth ribbons.  If the ribbons are stroked while the book is open to particular pages, animated images appear, some with sound and some with scent, to further illustrate the text, raising the quality to 10.  (The Illustrated Text CrIm5: creates images that affect two senses while the reader strokes the ribbon while reading aloud text on particular pages.  Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

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Concentus ex Jerbiton

Here are the crunchy bits for the magus I created to run solo adventures with.  He’s several years past gauntlet; stories and background to come.

Concentus ex Jerbiton

  • Age: 29  (29) (Born 1194)
  • Warping: 0
  • Decrepitude: 0
  • Confidence: 1
  • Characteristics:
    • Int  1
    • Per  1
    • Str  0
    • Sta  1
    • Pre  1
    • Com  2
    • Dex  0
    • Qik  0

Virtues and Flaws:  Hermetic Magus (free), Gentle Gift, Affinity with Creo, Cyclic Magic (Spring/Summer), Deft Imaginem, Mastered Spells, Puissant Mentem, Enchanting Music, Book Learner, Student of Faerie;  Deficient Perdo, Deficient Aquam, No sens of direction, Optimistic (major), Fear of Water, Magical Animal Companion (Cat).

Abilities

  • Area Lore: London (geography) 2
  • Area Lore: Bath (history) 2
  • Athletics (running) 1
  • Awareness (alertness) 1
  • Brawl (dodging) 1
  • Charm (being witty) 2
  • Concentration (spells) 1
  • Craft, mason (limestone) 2
  • Etiquette (court) 1
  • Folk Ken (townsfolk) 2
  • Guile (fast talk) 1
  • French (Norman) 2
  • English (storytelling) 5
  • Latin (Hermetic usage) 4
  • Music (singing) 2
  • OoH Lore (mundanes) 1
  • Artes Liberales (ceremonial casting) 1
  • Faerie Lore (air) 1
  • Finesse (precision) 1
  • Magic Theory (Imaginem) 5
  • Parma Magica (Mentem) 1
  • Enchanting Music (joy) 2

Arts

  • Creo 10
  • Intellego 8
  • Muto 4
  • Perdo 1
  • Rego 5
  • Animal 0
  • Aquam 0
  • Auram 0
  • Corpus 4
  • Herbam 0
  • Ignem 3
  • Imaginem 6
  • Mentem 5
  • Terram 3
  • Vim 6

Grimoire

  • Aura of Ennobled Presence (MuIm5)
  • Bringing the Song to Life (CrIm15) (mastered: fast cast)
  • Charge of the Angry Winds (CrAu15) (mastered: penetration)
  • Chirurgeon’s Healing Touch (CrCo20)
  • Douse the Flame (PeIg10) (mastered: fast cast)
  • Flash of the Scarlet Flames (CrIg15) (mastered: fast cast)
  • Scent of the Faerie Realm (InVi15)
  • Sight of the Transparent Motive (InMe10) (mastered: quiet casting, still casting)
  • Unseen Porter (ReTe10)
  • Wizard’s Sidestep (ReIm10) (mastered: fast cast)
  • Words of Unbroken Silence (CrIm10) (mastered: fast cast)
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Opening the Arts of a new Apprentice

Sylvia ex Merinita, a young maga with her first apprentice, decided to take the girl, Agatha, on long walks through a nearby wood with a low faerie aura, hoping to fully awaken the girl’s Gift.  The faeries in the wood recognized Sylvia and had for several years enjoyed her company, so they left the pair alone, for the most part, at first.  Sylvia would tell Agatha stories during their walks, and the faeries would follow along, enjoying the stories.  As the walks continued, the faeries became more bold, and started taking on the images of the characters from the stories and acting out scenes, to Sylvia’s surprise and delight.  Agatha had seen magical creatures before, but only the small grass and stone sprites that lived on the edges of the fields her family worked.  They were simple creatures who played harmless tricks on Agatha, and hid her from the other children who made fun of the girl for being different.  But these walks in the woods were very different, with antlered rabbits, deer with near-human features, and birds with unearthly voices following at the edge of vision and shimmering into the shapes of witches, peasant girls, and perfectly white cows as the maga’s stories unfolded.  Agatha watched and listened, in awe of her new mistress’ abilities and fascinated by the images they seemed to evoke.

As their walks continued and the moon shrank and disappeared, the faeries grew ever bolder, rearranging the landscape to match the stories.  Sylvia instructed Agatha to hold tight to her hand, no matter what happened, and Agatha was eager to comply.  Sylvia began increasing the tension levels of the stories she told, and the faeries correspondingly increased the sense of danger in the wood.  Agatha held ever more tightly to her mistress’ hand, and often emerged from the wood at the end of the stories with tears streaking down her face.  After one particularly hair-raising walk in which the dead seemed to rise from the earth and chase the pair, Agatha collapsed into unconsciousness upon leaving the wood.

Sylvia instructed Agatha the next day that the girl must now tell the stories.  Excited and a little scared by the idea, Agatha did not sleep thinking about the story she would tell.  When they re-enterd the wood, Agatha earnestly told the story of a brave knight, a fierce dragon, and a helpless princess, but her words did not evoke any reaction from the faeries, who merely followed behind again, sighing with the wind.  For many days, Agatha tried to tell exciting stories, with ogres and other fearsome creatures, practicing over and over at night in her bed, only to have the wood remain dull and lifeless as she relayed the words she had so carefully rehearsed.  Sylvia encouraged her to keep trying, and continued to walk with her in the wood daily.  Agatha would often leave the wood crying again, not from fear or excitement but from frustration at not being able to evoke more than a whisper or light fog from the faeries.

One day, she was quiet and spoke not a word as she walked with Sylvia, and remained so for several days.  At night, she practiced and refined her original story about the knight and the dragon into a brilliant tale.  Sylvia listened to the girl rehearsing, repeating sections over and over while she lay awake night after night, looking more wan and still silent during the days.  Finally, Agatha thought she was ready to present her story to the faeries, and began the tale the moment they entered the wood.  The words flowed from her pale lips, their cadence perfect, the phrasing beautiful, and Agatha’s dark ringed eyes shown with the fervor of her performance.  But the faeries remained quiet.  As Agatha reached the climax of the story in which the knight would slay the dragon and rescue the princess from a fiery death, tears streamed down the girl’s face, and her entire body shook with the realization that she had failed, finally, to rouse the faeries.  Even cruel Alan and that beast Jack from her village had never ignored her so completely as the faeries seemed to do.

Agatha stopped short, just before the knight could strike the fatal blow to the dragon, and shrieked, “I hate you all!  You think I’m invisible, but I’m not!  I’m real and I’m right here!”  She stared at the wood around her with sleepless, bruised eyes, lips tight in frustration and anger.  The faeries were meaner than Alan or Jack, but they didn’t know what she could do.  Perhaps they would like to hear that story; then they would know they shouldn’t be mean to her.

“Once upon a time,” she began in a sharp, edged whisper, “there were two boys who believed they were better than anyone else.  But they only way they could prove their worth was to tease, threaten, beat, and ignore a lonely girl.”  She went on in the same tight voice to tell of the abuses Alan and Jack had heaped upon her, and how she would elude them by hiding in the small wood at the edge of the fields.  Engrossed in her memories, Agatha did not notice that part of the forest brightened and became a tilled field, with two boys, one sharp and rat-faced, the other with crooked teeth and large hands stalking through the brush, beating at the weeds with sticks.  “But one day, they found her hiding place, and followed her into the wood.  The girl knew that if they found her, they would call her night-stained and beat her with sticks and worse.”  The woods turned darker, and the boys features grew to monstrous caricatures as they approached with their sticks raised and mouths open in anticipation of catching their prey.  “But the girl knew the name of every blade of grass, of every pebble and stone, of each biting insect in her wood, and she called on them to protect her.”  The grass around her grew long and writhed, grasping toward the invaders.  The stones rose from their rest on the ground and swirled through the air, swarming as if they were the grasshoppers and bees, while those usually harmless creatures rose up against the larger boy-man-creature, stinging his face, hands and body until he cried out and fell to the ground twitching.  The smaller but sharper of the two, fangs bared, claws reaching with club raised, fought through the shield of grass and stones and tore at the girl, ripping her dress.  Agatha shrieked in fear and anger, and raised a rock heavy with moss and age from its mouldy rest.  The beast pulled her close, its breath hot on her neck, and her arm swung around, bring a rock too larger for her hands.  Her dress tore beneath the beast’s claws and and it raised its head in a howl of triumph.  The sound suddenly cut short as the sharp edges of the rock buried themselves in the base of its skull.  Saliva dripping in anticipation became a stream of blood as the beast fell over the girl, twitching with a last breath.

The forest suddenly calm, Sylvia released a breath she had been holding, and moved to quickly brush away the leaves into which the beast’s body had melted, the faerie glamour dissipating.  “So that is what happened,” she muttered, finally understanding the circumstanced that had led the farmer to allow her to take his daughter away.  She began speaking the words of a spell to delve the girl’s body for signs of trauma, when Agatha rose from the pile of debris.  She looked around, her eyes wide and bright.  “I saw them, Mistress,” she blinked, “and I see them still.”  Sylvia brushed dirt from the girl’s face and smoothed back a lock of hair that now shown white in the forest light.  “And I’m not afraid, not anymore.”

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