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Duncan had headed a swiftly as his feet would carry him to the tower. He thrashed angrily at the brambles with his mace but was unable to make a way through them. Nor could he find how the previous group had penetrated the hedge - the brambles had regrown so swiftly that no sign remained of the path they had cut. His anger quietened a little, he headed for the small fishing village which was the closest habitation to the tower. He skulked around the edges of the fields, hesitating over approaching anyone until the frightened people set after him with sticks and dogs whereupon he retreated to the wooded hillside. Here Pernelle found him that evening. She took him apart from the others and the pair talked well into the night.
Meanwhile, the Magi were still debating how best to assist Iuris in acquiring the vis and destroying the ghost. Speculor was persuaded that his particular talents were not suited to tackling the problem in hand. Joach decided his time was best spent copying spells and decorating the pages with gargoyle sketches as he went. I recalled mention of a chair associated with the evil spirit and suggested that the two might be linked so that removing the chair from the tower might be beneficial. The problem and this possible solution had caught my interest to the extent that I agreed to go with Iuris provided no time was wasted to prolong the excursion. Someone suggested inviting Br.Joseph to accompany the Magae, which I thought a good idea, but Iuris decided that this was likely to cause more trouble with the Code than it was worth. In response to a concern that taking all the fighting grogs away from the covenant would leave it undefended, Speculor proposed posting images of guards around the clearing. Jacques made the more practical suggestion that Iuris take Zacharias to guard her, since he had visited the tower already, and I take only my shield grogs, leaving all the other grogs behind. I have every faith in Ignatius and Julius so am unconcerned that we have no additional fighters.
On the morning of 17th October, we were in St.Brieuc, a noisy, smelly, uncomfortable place which I was glad to leave. It was easy to locate Pernelle on the hill near the tower. She was still searching for the path through the brambles. We had come better prepared. I cast 'Razor's Sharp Edge' on the billhooks, with considerable success, and relaxed while the grogs cut a fresh way through. Then it was time to try magic on the tower itself. I used MuTe to turn some of the rocks forming the base of the tower into earth which the grogs excavated with spades. There was rubble behind the facing stone. I applied MuTe to this also and concentrated while the grogs continued to dig out all the freshly-created soil. Some of the soil fell and the rubble began to shift noisily. I used ReTe to hold the roof of the developing tunnel in place then more MuTe to enable the grogs to finish digging through the wall of the tower, which was very thick at its base, and ReTe to hold it all firmly beyond sunset. It was our intention to use this tunnel as a quick and easy way to get inside, grab the chair and leave again.
I was very satisfied with the work I had done on the tunnel but sent a grog to put the ladder we had brought with us into position inside the door to the tower and to prop the door open as an alternative way in and out in case it were needed. There was still a little time before sunset so I rested on the grass while several grogs went into the tower, through the tunnel, to sift through the rubble inside. They found some bits of pewter and pottery and, near the top of the heap, some fragments of bone. When the sun set, we were all standing outside the tower close to the tunnel. We saw the flock of bats fly out and away and the birds settle to roost in the trees. The tower looked very different - the door was shut and the tunnel was gone. I was not at all pleased. Iuris determined that we were in an Infernal aura of the 4th magnitude but was uncertain how to proceed. Remembering what Iuris had said about her last visit here, I ordered grogs to cut back the brambles close to the stone steps in case anyone was to fall this time. The grogs were unable to open the door, and Iuris remembered that last time, at night, it had been barred on the inside. I set fire to the door; it burnt slowly but steadily and I felt sure we would have a way inside before long.
The door took an hour or so to burn through. The ladder was still securely in position inside. Once I had got close to the open doorway, I was struck by the foul stench Iuris has told us about. I swiftly applied MuAu and transformed the smell to that of orange blossom for the rest of the night. I attempted to raise the temperature within the tower using CrIg but the Infernal aura was unexpectedly powerful and I was tired. I did succeed in illuminating the interior of the tower. This allowed Elli to shoot a crossbow bolt at the shadowy figure in the chair atop the heap. The bolt passed through its skull as if there was nothing there. Her second bolt stuck firmly in the wood of the chair but did not dislodge the chair at all. Iuris attempted to attack the ghost with PeMe from the doorway without success. It seemed that we would have to enter the tower. I ordered Julius to stay and protect me and sent Ignatius down the ladder, with instructions to come back up and out at once if he felt any choking. Elli was put on guard in the doorway, watching with a bolt loaded. Duncan was first down the ladder, and ran directly to the heap to grab the chair. Ignatius slid down, landed lightly and ran round the far side of the heap. Francis climbed slowly and carefully down the ladder. Iuris and I watched the ghost. It gestured; it did not look like it was casting any Hermetic spell.
Elli shouted something incomprehensible and pointed near the foot of the ladder. She had seen some bones rising and assembling themselves into a skeleton. Duncan grabbed the chair, hauled it clear of the rubble and ran to the ladder with it. Ignatius stayed near the top of the mound and looked around; he saw three skulls and some little-damaged large human limb bones. I called out to Ignatius but in the heat of the moment it seems I used Latin rather than Spanish so the order to 'get the bones' was ignored. I did not realise at the time because I had immediately stepped back so Iuris could see what was happening. Francis swung at the skeleton with his war maul. Iuris called out an order in what sounded like French. A moment later Elli passed me, carrying the chair outside. I indicated to her to put it near the brambles at the foot of the steps. While I was solving my communication problem with Elli, things were not going so well inside the tower. All the grogs were affected badly by the intense cold and Duncan was struggling to throw off the choking effect that had killed his brother. I heard Ignatius shouting at someone in Castillian to make haste.
I moved close to Iuris to see what was happening inside the tower. Duncan was standing at the foot of the ladder, choking and preventing anyone else from climbing. Iuris used ReMe to make him climb up but he was dazed and fell. This allowed Ignatius to use the ladder. He climbed nimbly up, passed me a skull and then jumped down again. Francis shouted something angrily and started to climb slowly, carrying a considerable number of bones, while Ignatius shivered then bent over the prostrate Duncan. As Ignatius struggled to lift the large Scot, I ordered Julius to go and help him but by the time Julius had reached the top of the ladder his help was unnecessary. With a great effort, Ignatius managed to lift Duncan and climbed the ladder so quickly that he almost pushed Francis.
Everyone gathered at the foot of the steps, where Zacharias had stood stolidly on guard throughout. Duncan was unconscious but alive. Everyone was cold but I could not light a fire there with CrIg so we moved beyond the brambles and the grogs lit a campfire. Iuris and I examined the chair. It appeared to have no magical properties or value. The skull Ignatius had retrieved did appear to have vis within it but it was only part of a whole and useless without the rest. I attempted to learn more of the bones Francis had carried out but became confused by the switch from the Infernal aura by the tower to the faint Dominion aura where we now were. I felt some magic working through the bones and a sudden chill. I could not stop shivering and told Iuris that the bones were very odd. Iuris ordered the nearest grog to remove these bones to the far side of the tower so they were away from me. It happened to be Francis. After he had moved out of sight I could still feel myself getting colder and became aware that I was still somehow linked to the bones. I cast a PeVi spell to try and break the link but that was the last I remembered for some time.
I was told later by Iuris that the effort of casting had been enough to sap the last of my strength and I had fallen unconscious. Julius and Ignatius had immediately snatched me up and run as fast as they could in the dark to the first church they could find, fearing that some infernal evil had taken me over and hoping that the holy place would fend it off. They meant well and had taken it in turns to pray at the altar all night for my recovery. So it was I awoke some hours later to a cold morning, feeling light headed and nauseous. Intent on getting away from the church before some priest should find me, I told my shield grogs that I was in need of food and drink so they assisted me to return slowly to the encampment.
When I arrived I found Iuris apparently well and sitting beside a small heap of bones. Francis was off sulking somewhere. The tower was in ruins and the tunnel was present, just as it had been before the previous sunset. I was too weary to do anything other than rest by the fire the remainder of the day, discussing with Iuris her discoveries about the bones. Once the sun set we saw the tower intact and the infernal aura restored and the dreadful smell returned. Iuris said the aura was weaker this night. I was able to transform the smell as last night, but once again I could not warm the air. I cast a light inside the tower and then retired to rest on the steps, keeping Elli and Julius to protect me. Francis was sent in to collect the rest of the bones from the skeleton he had smashed. Ignatius was sent to find the bones from the top of the heap. Duncan was ordered to seek the sword which the ghostly figure held across its lap.
I was surprised to learn afterwards that Iuris herself had climbed down the ladder. She said that the infernal aura inside was much weakened and it was noticeably less cold inside so she had gone to assist in the hunt for the sword, which she believed to have some arcane connection with the ghost. She used one of the bones as a link to help locate the sword. Myself, I was determined to keep well away from the bones. Iuris and the grogs were inside the tower for a long time, digging into the heap of rubble because Iuris was sure the remains of the sword were underneath. She also thought there was some gold close by. Eventually Iuris came out to me, full of enthusiasm for the badly rusted remains of a sword inside a decayed chest that they had unearthed. She was very keen that I go to see it and after some persuading I agreed. It was necessary for me to use ReTe to make it possible to lift the rusted relic. I took it outside and bade the grogs find something rigid to convey it in. I ached and felt it was high time to return to the covenant. Julius, Ignatius and Francis accompanied me home.
Iuris had decided to remain behind, keeping Zacharias, Elli, Pernelle and Duncan with her. They eventually dug up some old treasure including coins and jewels. The aura around the tower fell to zero at night once the ghost's connection had been severed and the night after that it remained as a slight magical aura, the same as during the day.
Once back at the covenant, I was determined that nothing would drag me from the laboratory again. I had made some progress towards configuring the arrangements within to suit the season but there was a great deal still to do and I am so eager to commence research. I spent as little time as possible outside my sanctum so Iuris Perita had been absent some time before I realised that she had returned to the tower. I was confident my Rego magics would endure until the new moon but it was sensible for her to look at a more permanent solution.
I lost track of time. so do not know how many days passed before I was next disturbed in my work. Initially I ordered whichever man it was to go away but a while later Jimena knocked and so I opened the door. She caught my interest at once with a tale of a 'Spirit of the Air'. Now full of excited curiosity, I pushed past her and out of the tower to find Gilles, for it was he who had brought the news. There was a letter, written in some haste, from Iuris Perita describing some elemental creature of the air which was accompanying her home. I brushed aside a moment's jealousy that it was she and not I who had first encountered this phenomenon and made haste to meet her on the road.
It was easy to see the group from a distance for they were covered by a small area of storm-cloud where air and rain swirled in thrilling turmoil. I am very disappointed, rather angry and and somewhat embarrassed to record that my abilities were inadequate for bringing the spirit under control. Alas, the Spirit of the Air took off even as I failed to bind it, leaving only a magical deluge which, again I regret to say, I was unable to bring an end to. I am sure I could stop the downpour if only there was a convenient and safe way to rise to the heights at which the spell was cast. I fear the squall will last until full moon. I shall take advantage of this and attempt to study it from the safety of the Aegis. Undoubtedly I shall be better able to control both the winds and the rains as my studies progress, but without the laboratory there will be no progress so I am staying shut in, working hard, and keeping my feet out of the mud that must be the inevitable result of the flooding.
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