The magi reach the covenant of Nocte Flamma without further incident. As reported by the Redcap Sachsenross it is empty of occupants, and except for a couple of splashes of blood, there is no sign of any violence. Even the Aegis of the Hearth is still functioning, though it is only about third magnitude. The kitchen is prepared ready for breakfast, but the food has gone stale in the weeks that have passed since it was prepared.
There are books in the library, and the Quaesitor Columbanus gives permission for the sanctums of the resident magi to be entered. Apart from a cleaned area of floor in the library, and some discarded suits of mail outside, there is nothing unusual other than the fact that the magi and covenfolk have vanished.
Investigating the local village, Umbriel and Drogo find out from the priest that no activity has been seen up at the covenant for the last few weeks. Several of the villagers had kinfolk working there, but have been too afraid to go up and investigate. The last activity was that some Gilbertine Nuns left the place with a number of carts, heading in the direction of the convent at Bullington.
Close examination of the (quite precise) covenant records by Vladimir shows that the last entries in the seneschal's records reported a greater than normal consumption of food that evening, suggesting that they had visitors.
Columbanus traces the few definite arcane connections they can identify to bodies seemingly buried in coffins.
Corva ex Bjornaer from Voluntas covenant turns up, also here to investigate Nocte Flamma, having heard the news from the Redcap a bit later than Cruentis Petram. She is able to determine that the arcane connections are to the two Flambeau and some coven folk.
With the help of the covenant's two Criamon, they are able to move the books and other unusual materials back to Cruentis Petram (for safe keeping, until it is decided what to do with it), and locate the bodies of the Flambeau in the graveyard of the Priory at Bullington.
Friar Luke Walding obtains a letter of introduction from the village priest near Nocte Flamma to Bullington Priory, enquiring as to the missing covenfolk. At the Priory he is able to ask questions and determine that the guards who accompanied the nuns remember coming across dead bodies on the road, apparently attacked by bandits. They brought them back to the Priory for burial. Their memories seem incomplete and sketchy.
Karl-Erik is also able to gain access to the canons, and using Luke's letter is also given the opportunity to question the nuns. One of them has a much clearer memory of what happened, but insists that the bodies were found on the road, not at the manor that is the covenant. The nuns had gone with another of their number who was starting a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and were returning from the port where she had boarded a ship down to London. They stayed at the manor on the way back, and say they found the bodies the following morning.
There have been a couple of unfortunate deaths here in the last year, and many of the nuns seem to be remarkably skilled and are very prideful of those skills. Friar Luke picks up a hint of unholy taint in one of the nuns, who is gifted at flower arranging.
Uriel sneaks inside the priory and investigates the nun's quarters, eventually finding some sharp, thin knives in their cells. They possibly match the wounds the magi determine are on the bodies - precise strikes into the brain. One of the canons, a gifted scribe who was also prideful of his work, was possibly killed in a similar way. Uriel also investigates the libraries at the priory, which seem to be of good quality and contain some interesting works on academic knowledges, as well as languages and music.
There is much discussion as to motives and the nature of the assassins. Though many aspects of the situation points towards demons, some of the motives seem odd.
After some more investigation of the Priory, it is decided to send word to the parens of the two deceased Flambeau to make them aware of the situation, and to leave things alone. If those of House Flambeau wishes to risk causing problems with the Church then the risk is theirs.
Next on the covenant's agenda is the issue of what happened to the maga Matilda ex Miscellanea. The demon that caused her death was Nithael, the same demon that had been causing problems for the magi for the last few years. This time they decided to try and come up with a plan to finish him for good.
The raven Zephon scouts out the village of Fox Hill for them, and determines that Nithael is mostly possessing one person, but has parts of himself possessing other targets as well. They will need to make sure that they kill all the parts to finish him for good. Zephon also believes that the demon has a weakness to topaz.
His main target is Joseph, who has built a small infernal shrine up in the woods to which he goes to every Sunday afternoon after church. Joseph is taking over control of the village, though seems prone to fits of possibly suicidal depression. The magi set an ambush, with Columbanus laying out a circle of infernal warding and dampening it's effects to mask it from the Demon, and Shale laying in wait with him.
The others go to the village with Jeremiah shortly after Joseph has left. Jeremiah has a part of the True Cross. They pose as traders, offering samples of free beer (mixed with ground topaz) to the locals, and wait for the more belligerent villagers to force their way to the front. Hoping that these are the possessed, Jeremiah then presents his Cross and begins a sermon, hoping to drive the parts of Nithael out of the villagers and back to his main host, at least temporarily.
At the shrine, Joseph begins his rituals and a demonic figure appears, which takes the form of an old woman. Columbanus cancels the suppression of the warding circle, and hits the woman with Perdo Vim, whilst Shale uses darts of Topaz. The demon is defeated, and as far as they can tell they have destroyed him for good.
Joseph breaks down on the death of his 'mother', and Shale prevents him from killing himself. They get him back to the village and deliver him to the priest for him to look after. Possibly, the demon was using his mother's form as a means to corrupt and destroy him.