GURPS: Casus Belli

1x04, Actus Reus

Act I

  • 8 July 456
  • Yesterday morning, Baron Caddell rode out to Glevum to treat with his allies.
  • Bradan – horrifyingly, to him – dreamed of the ocean. He was looking down at a bay where he saw a pair of ships entering a natural harbor and simply knew that these ships carried with them death. Just as he was about to turn away, he realizes he is being watched by a big ass raven with blood-red eyes and that he’s standing in the aftermath of a battle, with corpses littering the ground around him. It was at this point he realized his shirt was soaked in blood. His blood. And the raven laughed at him. When he wakes, he is startled to discover his shirt is covered in blood but there are no wounds or injuries he can find.
  • Marcus – dreamed of being in a small boat on a rough sea. He is utterly alone and his entire body aches, like he is recovering from bad injuries. Behind him, he knows that he’s leaving something important behind but duty requires him to continue forward. When he glances down, he realizes his boat is flooded … with blood. His blood. And he simultaneously realizes he is gripping a broadsword whose blade almost looks like it is wrought of water! A terrible storm rises up around him. When he wakes, his entire body is wet, as if he’d been swimming or in the rain, and the water is salt water…
  • Meadhbh – dreams of rushing through an unfamiliar forest, her brothers at her side. They are hunting someone or something and all that matters is their prey. Faster and faster they run, until the trees are whipping by in a blur. They explode into a clearing and fall upon their prey. Without thinking, Meadhbh strikes first, tearing out the throat of her prey with her teeth … the taste of blood is sharp and bitter in her mouth but she needs more. This desperate desire to kill suddenly pierces through the muddiness of her thoughts and she realizes with horror that she is a beast on all fours! Their prey are people and she’s just killed one! Suddenly, as she battles confusion, one of the prey rears up – it’s Marcus! – and pins her to the ground with a spear. The pain is agonizing and startles her awake. She finds that her wounds (which were almost completely healed yesterday) seem to have broken open – how else to explain all of the blood? – but there are no actual open wounds. And she can taste blood in her mouth as well. She wakes with a scream.
  • Marcus, upon hearing his sister scream, rushes to her room, snatching up a spear. The sight of seeing her brother so armed causes a still not all there Meadhbh to panic even more. Marcus hesitates, confused, and notes that perched on her windowsill is a massive owl.
  • Heddwyn is meeting with his mentor, Iwan the Crow, who is passing word to druids that the Archdruid has passed and the order will be gathering on Samhain (31 October) to elect his replacement. Normally, they would go to Ynys Mon, but Irish pirates have effectively seized that island for their own so they are thinking of relocating. As a bard, Heddwyn’s presence is expected although he will be warned to avoid the Irish pirates who have mostly seized control of that island – they generally leave the druids alone, but not always.
  • The two druids are summoned to Meadhbh’s room where they hear about the dreams and see the aftermath. Both druids are surprised and Heddwyn correctly identifies that Bradan has had a second encounter with the Morrigan and Meadhbh has once more been touched by Flidais, but does not recognize Marcus’ visitation. Later, when he and Iwan are alone, his mentor wonders what is going on with the siblings, as Bradan has been touched by the Autumn Queen, Meadhbh by the Spring Lady, and it sounds as if Marcus dreamed of the immensely powerful sword, Fragarach, also called the Answerer (though why he would dream of stealing away with an Irish treasure does not make sense.)
  • Iwan grudgingly relates information about the ongoing Sidhe War and the faerie courts to his former student, revealing that this information is generally something that a druid is supposed to learn later in his career.
  • Aedan has finished crafting a sword specially commissioned by the baron himself. He is unaware that this sword as a terrible flaw in it…
  • Paulus’ aide, Maius, has completed writing the letter to Rome asking for the appointment of a new archbishop. Satisfied with this letter, Paulus has him begin making multiple copies so they can send them to Rome.
  • Angus gets word from his little birds that there have been numerous strange sightings of unknown individuals throughout the realm, usually at night. Quite frequently, there have been the sounds of battle but no one has ever actually seen these fights. Also, and this just sounds like nonsense to him. There has also been a radical increase in the number of birds in the region, particularly owls and ravens. People are actually getting a little creeped out over these numbers. He interprets this as the population restless and worried.

Act II

  • Word comes to Caer Tarian that a murder has taken place in Vertis! Acting quickly, Bradan commandeers a wagon for transport and the Band race off, Iwan accompanying them.
  • At Vertis, they learn that Father Cai, the village priest, is dead and Siobhan verch Odgar has been apprehended as the chief suspect. Bradan, Heddwyn and Iwan break off to interrogate their suspect while the rest head for the church to investigate the body and the surroundings.
  • Outside the now mostly derelict barracks where the suspect is being housed, a crowd has gathered, calling for Siobhan’s head. Her father, Odgar, bars them all from entry. Bradan gives a quick, impromptu speech, advising this would-be mob that justice will be done as he’s brought two druids with him before leading them into the barracks.
  • Siobhan pleads her innocence which both Bradan and Heddwyn believe, even though she has no real alibi. However, when she is asked whether she knows of anyone who might wish harm against the father, she visibly hesitates which immediately incenses the hotheaded Bradan who slaps her when he demands to know what she is hiding. Heddwyn, recognizing that Bradan is doing more damage than good with his aggressive questioning, slides in and diplomances so successfully that he convinces Siobhan to reveal that she had some suspicions about Father Cai and had observed the priest sneaking about. Convinced that she is telling the truth, the two depart, intent on rejoining the others.
  • At the church, the first thing noted is the weapon of choice: a tanner’s knife. Beyond that, however, very little is truly noted and the band quickly realize they are not sleuths or investigators in this fashion. Bishop Paulus takes the single acolyte aside and grills him, phrasing his line of inquiry as a much needed confession. From Brother Áedh, he learns that the late father was acting rather suspicious but offered no explanation for the priest’s behavior. For that matter, Áedh was too busy concealing his own secret – an affair with a village young woman – to pry into this.
  • Marcus exits the church with Echo and has the dog begin sniffing around for a trail to follow. Eventually, this leads him to the back of the church. He finds indications that there might be something on the roof and sends Echo to return with Meadhbh, but fails to accurately convey this message to the dog who seeks out Marcus’ sister but then opts to accept a belly rub instead of actually bringing her back.
  • Eventually, the entire band assembles at the church – Bradan and Heddwyn journey there while Marcus goes looking for his dog. They discuss findings, then head to the back of the church to investigate once more. Bradan attempts to scale the building, but instead falls on his back, so Meadhbh scrambles up. She finds some burnt rags that have a strange smell to them.
  • Following this smell, Echo leads them to the river where, once again, the trail goes cold, exactly like it did at the farm they discovered in 1×02. Back to the village they go where they quickly discover another crowd has gathered, this time convinced that ‘new evidence’ has been found that confirms Siobhan’s guilt. Heddwyn gives a quick speech that causes the crowd to disperse.
  • Angus utilizes his ‘little birds’ and spends several hours poking around into these events and uncovers circumstantial evidence pointing toward Aeronwen, the adopted daughter of Eus the Silent, the villager weaver. Upon hearing this, Bradan decides to visit the woman early the next morning…
  • However, that evening, a great armcry is raised. A fire has broken out in the village! The band rush to join the fire brigade and are only slightly surprised to discover it is the weaver’s home! Ignoring the danger, Bradan rushes into the burning building where he sees two bodies. Grabbing one – it is Eus, who is deeply unconscious after having been smote in the head – he narrowly escapes before the entire burning roof collapses. A woman’s body will be discovered in the burned ruins once the fire is put out.
  • Unconvinced that this body is Aeronwen, Angus searches and finds unusual tracks. He follows them and they vanish … in mid-step! Even Echo cannot find where they went to! Iwan departs after seeing this with a concerned expression on his face.
  • Later, after the hubbub has died down, Angus is contacted by Siobhan through his ‘little birds.’ Deciding to go ahead and meet her, he is surprised when she reveals that she’s figured out his secret, that he is Baron Caddell’s spymaster, not that blithering fool, Conn. To Angus and Angus alone she will admit that she did kill Father Cai but only because she learned he was an enemy agent who was responsible for helping the would-be assassins in 1×01 to escape. He learned that she was an agent of Caddell and tried to intimidate her but was unaware that she was no coward. She requests permission to adopt a new persona, one that will not drive away any suitors, but assures Angus that she will continue to act as his eyes in Vertis. Angus gives her permission to do so and they part ways…

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