16th of Tertius, 1668 – Clan MacKensie (Northwest, Highland Marches)
The companions all returned to Clan MacKensie castle, where Gillian took the gathered ingredients and began the process of brewing the cure for the aging curse. Zhennya reported that the members of Clan Ainslie seemed untrusting and boastful at their growing ability to be self-sufficient. She also warned that they seemed to be taking steps to effect a split from the other clans. Dr. Blackwell related the harrowing experience of being drugged, seduced, and fleeing with the ingredients he could. Silvia explained that she was able to get the ashes without interaction with the clan, eventually telling the tale of how she replaced the ashes in the night. Fabien also related how he did not meet with any clan representatives of Frazier, but explained there were rumblings and rumors of breaking away from Clan MacKensie.
Gillian informed the group that the cure would remain potent until sunrise the day after its creation, which would give them about 24 hours to distribute it. Knowing that she could not deliver the cure to everyone personally, Bonny met with the others to determine the best way to distribute it. They decided that Bonny would send Clan MacKensie representatives to each of the bannermen clans informing them that MacKensie had a cure and it would be delivered to each of them within a day. Bonny decided she would visit Clan Caldwell personally, since she was not aware of their feelings on declaring independence.
In the meantime, Zhennya spoke with one of the midwives, Malvina, who warmed to the Ussuran’s common approach to speaking. Malvina confided that she did not feel the same as many in the clan who thought that MacKensie would be able to release the bannerman clans to their own and keep the MacKensie name and blood pure. The Mackenzie’s were one of the oldest clans after all, is what she’s heard others muttering about. She also noticed that those who attended the MacKensie Games several months ago were the ones most loudly calling for MacKensie to stand alone and seemed distrustful of the bannermen clans and their contributions to the clan.
Bonny also spoke with Murtagh MacKensie about the games, as most of the concerns seemed to start there. She learned that Aidan Caldwell was the Master of Games, by virtue of Clan Caldwell winning the prior year’s contests. He had brought with him a tall, fair skinned man with long dark hair which he wore in a braided knot down his back. Aidan had introduced the man as a traveler, who had three renowned bards with him. These bards, who all wore colorful scarves across their faces had voices both loud and clear, and during the games they would announce the prowess of anyone who won a contest. The traveler had declared whichever Clan won the games would have their name immortalized by the bards, a ballad song in their name across Theah! This seemed to inspire each of the clans as it hadn’t before. Murtagh also noted that Aidan wore a new black mask to the games, one he claimed would proclaim his status as the true Master of Games. The mask was described as being smooth, pure black, with eyes that seemed to be lifted towards the heavens and a small, tight lipped mouth. A violet symbol vaguely like a trident was upon the forehead of the mask as the only adornment. While it did seem strange, none dared oppose Aidan’s wearing of it.
The next morning, while the cure was being produced, the group traveled to Clan Caldwell. Along the way they discussed how they had broken the supposed curse upon others in the past. Heinrich in Eisen had been brought out of his melancholy by spending several hours showing him memories of his past, explaining how each had enriched his life. This had eventually brought a smile to his face. The family in Castille had been separated physically from one another, with the group leaving nuns in charge of maintaining the separation. While they were not sure how this worked out, they were hopeful that it would work. Neither of these solutions seemed as if they would work on the Clan MacKensie bannermen, as they were neither sad nor having wanton sex.
Arriving at Clan Caldwell, they discovered that Hamish’s brother, Fergus, had passed the night before. The aging curse had taken its toll before the cure would be ready. Bonny spoke briefly with the two clansmen standing watch, Cormag and Sean. They explained that Kirsteen, Hamish’s daughter, was for the moment running things as both of the male candidates were still in no condition to do so. They also confirmed what she had heard about Aidan and the companions he’d brought. They mentioned how good they’d felt each time one of the traveler’s bard companions would immortalize their name in verse.
Bonny had a chance to speak with Kirsteen, who had not been at the games, and did not share her father’s desire to leave the Clan. However, hers was not the voice that the others would listen to. Bonny vowed MacKensie support and even spoke briefly with Hamish, who himself was nearing the end if the cure was not brought soon. He confided in her that he overheard his son talking to the traveler and called him Bród, which seemed an Inish name, though the man was clearly not of Inish background.
Upon returning to Clan MacKensie, Bonny obtained the cure made by Gillian and distributed it between the group, each returning to the bannerman clans with a MacKensie representative and the cure for distribution.
Zhennya returned to Clan Aisnlie to fulfill her promise as well as deliver the cure. She arrived to find that some were saddened by the loss of a few of their men, the aging curse having taken them before the cure could be delivered. During the week of training, she discovered that not everyone shared the clan’s desire to break away, mostly those who had not attended the games. However, even their arguments began to change slightly over time as the voices proclaiming Ainsley as ready to stand along began to resonate more with them. She also learned that in the past there had been times when the clans came together as one to fend off attacks from other clans, invaders, and sea raiders.
Dr. Blackwell decided not to return to Clan Swinton and instead delivered the cure to Clan Caldwell. During the several days he was there, he began training with his new sword, having heard the warriors of Caldwell were some of the best among the bannerman clans. He also tried to instill doubt about Aidan’s use of a mask during the games and that it must have been a trick by the man he came with. While he found some who listened, the Doctor himself began to doubt his own resolve the longer he trained with the warriors. Realizing something was going on, he began to strengthen his own resolve while at the same time attempting to find common ground with many in the clan who had not been at the games.
Silvia took the cure to Clan Swinton, hoping that she would not be a target of whatever had befallen the doctor on his previous visit. He found the leader Rhona accepting and was offered lunch and hospitality while the cure was distributed by the headers of the clan. Later that afternoon, bells began to toll for the leader, Malcolm, had succumbed to the curse even though the cure had been delivered. Silvia became suspicious and she was able to visit the body while it lied in state the next day. While she was able to avoid detection when another clan member came to pay his respects, she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone had seen her. Silvia did manage to notice that Malcolm had a bluish color to his tongue, indicative of poisoning by arsenic. While most clan leaders lie in state for a customary three days, the next day Rhona announced that Malcom would undergo ritual cremation the next day due to the progressed aging caused by the curse and that his body was decomposing, resulting in loss of honor. Silvia spoke to Rhona and while the woman did not admit any wrongdoing, she made it clear that she felt the clan was in better hands under her leadership, particularly when Silvia mentioned Colum’s eventual writ that would allow the females of the clans more voice.
Fabien went to Monteith with the cure and discovered many of the same things as the others. Those who had not attended the games seemed less vocal about splitting from the clans, as were those who did not compete in many competitions. The general feeling of those believing Monteith could stand alone was that they provided much to the clans in terms of trade routes, food, and fertile lands, while they did not need nor receive much in the way of protection.
Bonny herself went to Clan Frazier, the oldest and closest of the bannermen clans. She spoke with Jamie Frazier, who had been a long time ally to MacKensie. He was forthright with Jamie and explained that since the games, he has felt that the clan could stand on its own. It had grown in size, prosperity and he was thankful to MacKensie for that, but he also felt being a vassal of another clan was holding him back personally. In the conversation, it was clear that he felt the clan and himself would be on track to be High King someday. At Bonny’s urging, he vowed not to make any decisions until the Clan moot the following week.
As each member of the group returned to Clan MacKensie, they shared their findings. Bonny was hopeful that the Clan Moot she’d called for the following week would afford her the opportunity to convince the clans to stay loyal to MacKensie. While there was not much confidence this alone would work, no other ideas were immediately forthcoming. Only time would tell as the moot drew closer…
Rewards: 1 Experience (bankable), 1 time use of a "Free Social Assist" in the Highland Marches (Gain +3 Dice to a Social Skill Roll)