Shadow of a Horned God

Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session III & IV

The Long Journey to Misery

Octavius and Castor are traveling towards Deva. Octavius feels a bit of hurry, seeing as matters have grown out of hands recently and wishes to set things straight. He briefly visits his pair of “protègès” (Caratacos and Hildegard)) in Verulamium on his way through, assuring himself of their loyalty. They are also accompanied by their ghouls, Irena and Clodwal. On the road they meet an unknown woman who introduces herself as Lochmael, the childe of Calipha, the Cainite ruler of East Anglia. She carries a letter addressed to Octavius, who informs her that he is in a bit of hurry and will reply later when he has had time to read it thoroughly. She departs into the woods. They also meet Bronn while passing through his domain, and exchange brief pleasantries. Bronn informs Octavius of his recent meetings with Rhydderick and that he fully supports his endeavors. After leaving Bronn’s domain, Octavius decides to take a small detour through Ratae, to speak with Rhydderick himself.

The rest of their coterie arrive in Verulamium, where they stay for the day. They soon receive a visitor, a Leper scholar by the name Petrus, who asks for permission to join them on their journey for a while and perhaps to discuss history since he is in the process of writing his great work, “Historia gentis Cainiticus Britanniae”. He is met with obvious suspicion, mainly from Hector, but eventually manages to convince them of his harmless nature. At nightfall they receive an invitation to the court room, where some meeting is being held. There they meet with another coterie of Cainites, currently hailing from East Anglia. They include Waldemar, “protector” of Camulodunum as well as Eiwar and Giyora, both who currently serve Calipha of Venta Icenorum. They speak politics with Hector and Vivia for a while, without reaching any conclusions. After the meeting, Sherwin announces his decision to stay in Verulamium with his followers. Before leaving the city, Giyora wishes to speak with Hector, more privately. He informs him of some strange happenings in the aftermath of The Battle of Idus, where King Aethelfrith of Bernicia was slain. Giyora claims that the king’s youngest son, the 8-year old Oswiu, was abducted by an unknown Cainite, whom Giyora believes to belong to Clan Salubri.

Octavius speaks with Rhydderick in Ratae, and finds the Elder quite forthcoming of his plans for the Kingdom of Mercia. He plans to install a council of some sort, based in the mortal capital of Tamworth, which also will serve as a neutral meeting place for the Cainites of the region, with no one claiming dominion of the town. Since Octavius has even larger plans for himself and the island, he is very interested in these ambitions. He also realize the convenience in having smaller “courts” to discuss more local issues, perhaps with representatives sent to the larger council to discuss matters concerning the entirety of Britannia. Later on the road to Deva, Octavius encounters Minerva. The meeting is cold and tense, with Octavius clearly unsure of what he should do. On one hand, the Graverobber has committed indisputable crimes against his reign in Deva, which shouldn’t go unpunished. On the other hand, she is a near thousand year old Elder, and also the sire of his own Scourge, Hector. The meeting ends with Octavius declaring Minerva as an “unwanted” in the area, and wishes not to see her again.

While traveling at foot pace, Vivia and Hector talk with Petrus about a number of things and find the strange Leper very knowledgeable about many things. He later departs the coterie to meet with Rhydderick. They also encounter Minerva, who briefly meets with her childe (who gives her the incomplete Covenant of Death). They exchange various pleasantries and she also speaks a few words with Fherah, as if to measure her somehow. The meeting is short, however, and she is soon on her way south. Fherah, after running out of fresh corpses, finds herself forced to hunt for sustenance in the wilds while traveling, which Hector finds strangely amusing.

Octavius and Castor arrive in Deva after a short conversation with Khoraxoz on the outskirts. He later meets with Kaeila, who has taken it upon herself to take care of the torpid body of Morita, her former lover. Julia also receives a visitation from the Prince of Deva. After taking care of the initial issues, Octavius decides to Summon the former King Selyf ap Cynan to his court. He also gives Bodgar the task of overseeing Fort Mediolanum until Morita’s return. Meanwhile, Castor scouts the city for a possible haven. He finds that the old noble district of Roman times is nothing more than rundown slums, but still faintly promising. He claims a group of near-abandon houses as his domain, and offers it’s inhabitants (a few poor Briton families) protection and coin in exchange for work as laborers in building his future estate. Irena receives the task of learning the local tongue. They then go on with their business as they await the arrival of the others, which should take at least a couple of weeks.

Octavius is approached by his “vassal”, King Selyf, after roughly a week in his court room. He arrives in the company of Brodhar. The meeting is eventful, and Brodhar becomes witness to the Embrace of the former Celtic ruler, who becomes Selyf Sarffgadau, prospective Scion of Clan Salubri and a childe to Octavius Sibius. After this he is housed in Octavius’ old haven and begins his education. Brodhar asks Octavius if there is something more she can do for him, and agrees to travel to the northwest coast to keep a watchful eye on Valerius Marcon. A few nights later Octavius is visited by Lucian Minorus, who apparently has awoken from torpor. He is somewhat shaken, and informs the Prince of his decision to leave Deva altogether.

As the entourage is nearing Deva, they encounter a group of ragged people traveling on foot from the east. After some interrogation, Hector discerns that they carry some sort of disease, and warns them from entering the city. Octavius is visited by Bodgar, who inform him of rumors of a “plague” that is harassing the people in Bernicia. He has also spotted a group of bandits camping roughly a nights walk northeast from the fort. He will continue to investigate these matters. Octavius shortly orders the city gates closed due to the risk of an outbreak of the disease. The travelers meet with Octavius shortly after returning to Deva, who introduces them to his new childe, and then go on to their respective havens to commence their nightly affairs. Hector soon discovers that his haven is in very poor condition, and possibly hazardous, since the excavating process which was started earlier is unfinished and insecure. He retains the services of Castor, who offers to help him in securing the haven. Castor also discovers a group of orphaned thieves on the outskirts of his domain, whom he offers “employment” as his eyes and ears throughout the city.

A few nights later events start happening. Octavius receives information from Caddoc that two guards have been murdered on the northwestern section of the city walls. He decides to investigate along with Hector. After some climbing on the walls and subtle uses of Mortis, they can discern that they have been killed by an unknown assailant who scaled the walls using a knife. Octavius orders heightened security throughout the city, as well as calls for Khoraxoz. The Leper agrees to investigate the matter, and will return as soon as he finds anything. He also informs Octavius that the group of diseased people from the east who were spotted earlier have vanished somewhere on the outskirts of Deva. Fherah also commence investigations into the matter of locating any suspicious individuals.

A few nights later Vivia is attacked by an unknown assailant while on her way to the court room. The clumsy attempt is easily thwarted by Raul, who also manages to capture the thug alive. After meeting Hector and Octavius shortly thereafter, their attempts to probe into the mind of the bandit reveal little useful information. Obviously, he is working for some unknown “master”, but he isn’t a ghoul, only a thralled human. Hector offers to find out more while also putting his recent most studies to the test in a new Mortis Ritual. He withdraws into his haven and shortly enters a type of torpor while experiencing choice parts of the mans life.

Meanwhile, investigations continue. As the nights pass the clues are leading towards the noble district, where Vivia’s haven is located, as well as the havens of both Kaeila and Julia. Octavius lets his soldiers in the Cult of Mithras do the legwork, while Castor employs his Way of Spirit to scout the lands for any inconsistencies. Fherah is also quite successful in her questionings and patrolling of the area. Vivia also manages to secure the “services” of Kelwan, a former soldier from the army of Gwynedd, as a replacement for Quintus, her ghoul bodyguard who died in Londinium.

A few nights later investigations come to fruit. Octavius receives word that his men have captured another bandit during the day, who is being held in a barrack. Octavius shortly discovers that the man isn’t very forthcoming in interrogation, so he continues the interrogation with Auspex. He finds out that the group of “bandits” number a dozen individuals, and have recently managed to transport diseased people into Deva. They have also dumped one of the deceased into a well in the noble district. Their “master” have given the reins to a commander of some sorts, a blond-haired man who hides in the city. They have also been given strict orders not to move about during the night. Apparently their “master” chose them because all of the bandits have previously contracted the plague and survived, making them immune to it.

Fherah also manages to locate an abandoned house in the noble district, where she encounters the corpses of a dozen people whom she recognizes as the ones from the road a week earlier. One of them is barely alive, but the others are dead in various stages of decomposition. Alarmed by this, she seeks out Octavius, but encounters Vivia on her way who is also very alarmed since discovering that one of her servants (and also a member of her personal Herd) has contracted a serious disease…

As the group meets and reveals their information the situation brightens a bit. Obviously, someone is making a serious attempt to undermine the authority in Deva, and managed to create an outbreak of a deadly plague. They start making various plans to contain the disease, and it is here that we leave the coterie, for now…

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Juniper

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