24th of Tertius, 1668 – Clan MacKensie (Northwest, Highland Marches)
As the day of the MacKensie moot drew near, Bonny began making preparations for what she would say and how she would try to convince the bannermen clans to remain part of the MacKensie Clan. She spoke with each of her companions and received reports from the various clans, hoping to find small pieces of information that would help her make a decision.
Colum MacKensie opened the moot and thanked everyone for attending. He then turned it over to Bonny, as was her right for calling the Moot. Though he stayed present and would occasionally nod, his expression stayed mostly stoic during the proceedings. It was clear he was gauging whether Bonny’s ability to host the bannermen clan leads matched her desire to do so.
Discussion quickly turned towards the recent MacKensie games, as a precursor to the larger Highland Marches games in late summer. James Frazer was quick to point out the alleged cheating by Clan Ainslie and Clan Caldwell, particularly how it appeared that Aidan Caldwell was working with the tall, dark haired stranger they called the “Slenderman.” Angus Ainsley vehemently rebuked any attempt to besmirch his clan’s name, and continued to vow that their clan won because they were indeed the best at the games. Hamish of Clan Caldwell also decidedly defended his son, saying that his sudden absence was akin to Bonny’s own “worldly travel” and he would return soon. Hamish made it clear that when his son returned, he should have a place on the Bannermen Council.
Returning to the games, Clan Frazer and Clan Ainsley went back and forth, with claims of cheating and denials of those claims. Jamie of Clan Frazer demanded a set of ‘make up’ games that would take place quickly, within a month’s time. While others thought it would make sense to wait until later in the year, there was consensus that would push it into the summer of the Highland Games themselves. Angus Ainslie insisted that the next games, whenever they were, should be held on Ainslie lands instead of the traditional location of MacKensie lands. After much discussion, Bonny made the decision to allow a new competition in one month’s time on Ainslie lands, but that a MacKensie would be Master of the Games to ensure fairness. It seemed that both Clan Ainslie and Frazer got a little of what they sought.
After this, Angus Ainsley returned to the issue of council seats and demanded that his wife, Seogan, should receive a seat on the Council as well, mainly because she managed his lands very well during the time of the curse. Tristan of Clan Monteith also chimed in that he would welcome, and felt his clan deserved, an additional seat on the council. Though they were the newest of the bannermen clans, Tristan felt that the constant attacks from the sea as well as the storms that ravaged their lands would warrant this.
Rhona of Clan Swinton did not seek a second seat, but seemed only to ask that she be allowed to keep Clan Swinton’s seat after the death of her husband, Malcolm. The discussion raged for some time on whether adding an additional seat to every clan would change anything. Some even suggested a separate council be formed, based upon population with each of the bannermen clans having representation based upon how many were in their clan. This was quickly squashed as too complicated. However, in the end, Bonny relented, agreeing that all clans would receive a second Council seat, which seemed to be something Angus Ainslie, Hamish Caldwell, and Tristan Monteith were pleased to get. In addition, Rhona Swinton was allowed to keep her husband’s place and appoint someone else. Clan Frazer was not thrilled with expanding the Council but did not stand in the way of the decision.
Discussion turned to individual Clan desires. James of Clan Frazer brought up the line of succession when something happens to Colum. James expressed his expectation that Clan Frazer should be in line for leading, perhaps with an arrangement that could tie Clan Mackenzie and Clan Frazer together. Tristan Monteith brought up the recent winter storms that left his lands ravaged and asked for double the normal supply allotment to the bannerman clans and recognition as the sole trading point of contact for all sea trade the clan pursues. James Frazer was quick to mention that he sought sole rights for trading with other clans outside of MacKensie as his people were more educated and well traveled. Calling upon his clan’s prowess in combat and his own personal experience, Hamish Caldwell demanded he be named Clan Protector and Warchief, to lead all the clan’s forces in battle should it be necessary. To this, Rhona of Clan Swinton made a bid for inclusion of her clan’s healers and herbalists in the households of the other clans in order to properly train them for the troubled times to come. She also insisted that her clan would need more land in order to expand their farming to feed the bannerman clans as populations increased. It became somewhat chaotic in the moot hall at this, with clan leaders speaking over one another in an effort to get Bonny’s ear. Throughout, Bonny was collected and spoke to each bannerman, asking questions and getting clarifications. It soon became clear she would be unable to appease all the needs of each clan, so she started a process of finding out what was critical to each.
There was little objection to Hamish being named as the Clan Protector, but many other clans, particularly Clan Ainslie, balked at hiving his clansmen inserted into the other clan’s defenders to train them. Most feared he would try to control their own fighters. However, this did give Clan Caldwell their second demand. In a round of concessions and agreement between Monteith and Frazer, Tristan was able to get his clan named as the sole Sea Trade clan, able to levy some small fees on incoming and outgoing goods to help with their needed repairs. In turn, Clan Frazer was given sole rights to trade with other clans in the Highland Marches. These concessions gave both clans a second goal met. Finally, Rhona of Clan Swinton made her case for additional land, begrudgingly getting lands from Frazer, Monteith, MacKensie and Caldwelll in the process. She assured all that it would be used to expand their crops and herbs that invariably help all the clans.
With all clans getting equal concessions, Bonny concluded the moot and turned things over to her father. While many were still unsure of the eventual outcomes, at least all of the bannermen clans were appeased for now and none were immediately going to withdraw from their pledges. As a sign, all the leaders reaffirmed their loyalty to Laird Colum, and with that, the group decided to follow the trail of Aidan Caldwell up to Kirkwall.
The group arrived Kirkwall several days later and immediately set about asking after Aidan Caldwell and the mysterious “Slenderman.” Word on the docks was that the two of them were in the company of a trio of men who wore scarves over their faces. Word on the docks was that the group had been looking for passage to Dunkeen, Inismore. Though no one knew what ship they had sailed out on, all seemed to agree that it had been 3 weeks or so since they had been seen. The group followed suit, buying passage on the ship “Sea Mist” to Dunkeen.
2nd of Quartus, 1668 – Farmlands outside of Dunkeen (Dunkeen, Inismore)
Upon arrival in Dunkeen, the group once again asked around for Aidan Caldwell and the “Slenderman” known as Bród. This time, Zhennya and others took the tactic of telling tall tales about the types of people they’d met in hopes that others would join in with sightings of a ‘tall man’. This paid off as there had been several sightings of this mysterious man and the others traveling with him. The Highland Marcher had signed up for various events at the Fleadh, a large festival of arts, music, and all things cultural. This festival is held each year in the first week of Quintus and is said to draw crowds of thousands from across Avalon and Theah. Based upon all they knew, the group felt this was ripe for Aidan and the Slenderman to work their brand of sorcery. In addition, Dr. Blackwell discovered that Aidan had visited city hall to obtain a list of events. Dr. Blackwell received information about a troupe of jugglers who might take them into their ranks for the festival parade. Finnegan’s Flying Fists is sure to get a visit from the athletic doctor.
Fabien wanted to visit Burke University at Donega and the group decided they had five weeks before they would need to be back in Dunkeen for the festival. On the road to Donega, the group stopped at a few roadside inns, listening to Inish farmers worry about the encroaching Sidhe. It seems that while they were previously content with where they were, some of them have been taking over ancestral lands where Inish and others now lived. At an inn a day out of Donega, they heard rumors of the O’Brady farm a few miles away that seemed to be cursed by the Sidhe. The fields were dried and would not grow, the fruit trees bore rotten fruit and a cow had died mysteriously of a disease. There was talk that this started when Old Man Seamus died and left the farm to his son, Young Man Seamus, Thinking this seemed like something to check out, the band of do-gooders headed to the O’Brady farm the next day. They were greeted by Mave, Seamus’s wife, and then quickly met her husband as he milked their last cow; keen eyed Zhennya and Bonny noted that the milk was already starting to curdle. Seamus was confused at first about why the group was there, but after convincing him they were friends, he related the tale of what had been happening.
They discover that the farm homestead had been doing quite well for years, until a month ago when Seamus senior died of old age. Within a week, collectors from Turnbull Collections came to collect on debts the father owed. Young Seamus, who at 40 years old wanted to be called just Seamus, assumed it was his father’s drinking debts from when he visited Donega to sell their goods. Unable to pay for the debt, the collectors were let into his father’s private room to collect shelves of old books. They gathered them in a trunk, along with a few paintings and a large comfortable chair. The debt was paid off, but then the farm started suffering. The group, while searching the father’s room, discovered a small hidden nook where there was miniature furniture and a pair of small eyeglasses. Someone, or something, had been living there but was no longer here. They agreed to inquire after Turnbull Collections in Donega and set off for the city.
When they arrived, they questioned locals about Aidan Caldwell and the “Slenderman” but no one had recalled seeing either of them. Fabien, eager to make an introduction at Burke University, left for there with Dr. Blackwell. Zhennya, Silvia, and Bonny visited Turnbull Collections, with an attempt to discover where the items from the O’Brady farm had been taken. At Turnbull’s they discovered that the trunk and its contents had been sold to Burke University…
Meanwhile at Burke University, Fabien and Dr. Blackwell presented their credentials for admission into the library at the university. They were assigned a junior scholar named Shelagh, who showed them around the folklore and mystical section, both topics that Fabien had expressed interest in. While there, Fabien had noticed some discussions between the staff about Section “J”, obviously a code for something as there were no letters on the shelves. During the tour, Shelagh mentioned they would be meeting with the Associate Dean of Folklore, Finnán Riordan. The Doctor’s knowledge of languages and Fabien’s worldly studies had proven themselves to the university as legitimate scholars, despite their outward appearance. Also they noticed that she did not take them through a door with a red velvet scarf tied around the handle. When confronted, Shelagh confided that the library had recently found itself in possession of a bauchan, a small Sidhe that delighted in reading and would often perform small services to its benefactor. While the two were left to their own devices, they discussed the coincidence of this happenstance.
Later that evening, when the group got together, all of them shared what they’d found. It became likely that the bauchan at the University was the same one taken from the O’Brady farm by Turnbull Collections. The next day, Fabien and Dr. Blackwell would try to speak with the bauchan. First, they had a long afternoon with Finnán Riordan, who presented them with more access to the folklore and sorcery areas. They presented the Dean with numerous questions about emotional influence and the symbols they’d seen on the masks. While the symbols did not immediately draw recognition, the Dean was able to point them to several sorceries and practices that influenced emotions, including those of Sorte in Vodacce, the Knights of Elilodd in Avalon, Sanderis in the Sarmatian Commonwealth and even some sorceries of the new world, such as Kap Sèvi. He even mentioned that Numa still reveres their pantheon, of which some of the deities are associated with various emotions. This information provided more detail but the pair still had much research to do.
Once they were left on their own, Fabien and Dr. Blackwell did some research into the Slenderman and the masks that they had been seeing the effects of. While nothing explicit was found in the initial search, several stories and legends were found that may shed some light on the matter or give them a place to continue investigating.
Also, the pair snuck into the off limits room to discover a nicely appointed study with shelves of books. In the middle was a small creature with long limbs, a sharp pointed noise, and hoof-like feet on spindly legs. The creature wore a pair of small spectacles and was reading at the time. The Bauchan introduced himself as Dauby and admitted he had lived at the O’Brady farm. When Seamus died, he was scared and then a few days later, men came and he hid in a trunk. The trunk was filled with books and then he was deposited here, discovered by one of the book filers. Dean Riordan quickly arranged for this room for him and he’s been content ever since. Fabien explained that the family had not gotten rid of him, but that they were unaware of his presence. When asked, Dauby admitted he was happy here, but would return if the new owners could continue to provide him with the books he sought! Now the group was in a dilemma…leave Dauby here, where he was happy, or try and return him to the O’Brady’s, where he could restore their farm’s prosperity but may have trouble keeping him in the books he wanted…
Rewards: 1 XP (Bankable), Debater (1 time use of the Lyceum Advantage before rolling), Contact (Finnán Riordan) for Fabien and Dr. Blackwell