The party – by what name will they be known? – pushed deeper and deeper into the wood, heading northwest in pursuit of the Book of Wisdom. Following signs of the wild, Eoghan pointed them along a path that eventually opened upon Brogan’s Farm, where they found Brogan berating his wife for having becoming trapped under a large stone in the middle of a field. The stone removed and the wife’s foot healed, we learned that Maevan the Druid and his accomplice Tomaltach had appeared there. The Druid had cast a few nasty spells (one dropping the rock on the poor wife who had come out to investigate) then headed off to the East. Under the stone was found one piece of parchment from the book itself, a sheet with magical writing, later deciphered as “I go to the Mare’s Bath.”
While muddling over all this, the group was attacked by a scarecrow brought to life by Maevan’s magic. Fighting the thing off yielded them the gratitude of the Brogans, who gave them provisions for their further journeys. Before leaving, though, the group had to deal with one last bit of Maevan’s work: Brogan’s brother Kyalarn’s spirit had been swapped with that of the farm dog Happy. Kyalarn yapped “Hey! Hey! Hey!” while the (un)Happy dog looked on mournfully. This sideshow was gleefully orchestrated by Dermit the scamp, who had followed along hoping to find the treasure first. The group impressed on Dermit the importance of his taking the man and the dog back to town forthwith, for a cure.
With that, the party headed East in pursuit of Maevan. They attempted to track him for almost 36 hours but the crafty old man had covered his tracks magically. It was hopeless, and dangerous; during the nights, the group was attacked by wolves and bandits. Fortunately, Aislan’s skill with a longsword came into play and these foes were dispatched. Nonetheless, on the third morning the group realized that the only clue was the page left by the book – “I go to the Mare’s Bath.” Was the book speaking to them? What is the Mare’s Bath? In Nola’s recollection, it had something to do with a mad Druidic ritual; only Druids or perhaps the Fey would know.
The party made contact with some of Eoghan and Aislan’s people deep in the wood, but they knew nothing. They did however recommend checking with Nyalin, the captured Druid acolyte back in Durry, or old Sconief, wife of Durry’s reeve Fergus, known to be ‘the wisest woman within 100 miles.’ There was also a Leprechaun known to inhabit Long Rock.
With a heavy heart, the group chose to head back to Durry. It had been two full days of tramping in the woods, for nothing. It was a quiet march back. Nola took the occasion to pressure Thorros about his dealings with Roarc her beloved and Shlavin, the disgusting old farmer, but learned nothing – “Talk to Shlavin” she was told.
Upon returning to Durry, the party spoke first to the Druid, who cursed them and all their kind, for spawning people all over the land and destroying nature. But she was proud to tell them all she knew of the Mare’s Bath. This is the sacred ritual of coronation performed by the man chosen to be High King of all Erin. The man was to mate with a white mare. Then the mare was slaughtered, and the man ate the raw flesh while bathing in a broth of the mare’s blood. The group gave Nyalin over to her handlers and left without reporting what was said to Burnim the Abbot.
The tale of Mare’s Bath was confirmed by Sconief. She suggested that the book was indeed telling them to head to Tara, site of the ritual. Though there had been no news of a King’s death, perhaps it had happened and a new King was about to be chosen. The local tribe, the Fannians, would probably be told to send representatives.
The party prepared for a journey of a week or more to Tara. Before leaving, though, the heart-broken Nola insisted that they stop and have a word with Shlavin. The old fellow accosted her and demanded to set a date for marriage, but a slight beating by Maeve the monk opened his heart: He had had Thorros cast a spell that entombed Roarc in a small garnet. The garnet was donated to the Abbey. And Thorros had seen that same garnet mounted on the rich leather cover of the Book of Wisdom, had in fact gotten the sense the Roarc was calling to him from that stone as it flew away! This of course only heightened Nola’s desire to find the book and bring her lover back. As they exit Shlavin’s lodge, the party hears a man shouting Hey Hey Hey – apparently Dermit has returned but not faithfully executed his charge.
Thus the party set themselves on a journey to the East, deep into the heart of Erin, to Tara, seat of the High Kings. A long journey for those who had not traveled much beyond the little town of Durry. The group feels more than capable, and yet, their powers were also quite surprising. None of them really knew that they were capable of defeating the dangers they had seen quite so easily. Well, perhaps one of them felt it. What they may not have been conscious of, but was surely true, was that word about them had begun to spread. How many can strike a bird in flight with an arrow fired from 100 feet away? How many can cause a foot to become healed in an instant? How many can cause burning fire to erupt from their hands? These things have all been seen by ordinary folk, and rumors have begun to spread.
Treasure: From the bandits: Sheets of Pergamon, Copper, Lead, Vinegar.