Shortly into spring, several villagers turn up at the covenant from Kettlewell, seeking help from the magi. Their village is under attack by hellish beasts, and their lord, Richard, has sent them to look for the 'wizards' that are rumoured to live nearby.
Agreeing to help, since nasty things nearby are bad for the covenant, the magi head to Kettlewell, where they find the village being assaulted by giant slug-like creatures. Several times bigger than a man, they seem to be made of human bodies which twist and deform around each other as the creatures move. The front of the creatures are a writhing mass of tentacles, which they are using to pull apart cottages.
The surviving villagers have congregated on the southern edge of the fields, and Lord Richard is pleased to see the magi, who he hopes can help. The slugs are large and tough, and can only be seriously harmed after Columbanus is able to take own their infernal protections.
Vladimir tries to keep an eye on the slugs tearing apart the church, when the ground beneath it erupts open, and a gigantic version of the slugs rises up out of the ground. It tries to grab at him, it's tentacles stretching out at great speed, but he is saved by his magical defences. He tries to draw it out of the village and into the fields when it can't harm anyone.
After disabling a few of the smaller creatures, the magi leave their mercenaries to finish them off, and concentrate on the large one. Working together, Umbriel and Shale manage to finally kill it. It falls apart, as do the rest of its brood.
Lord Richard is most happy with the result, and promises to repay the magi as best he can. With the Church ineffective, he isn't sure who else to turn to for help against such things, and there have been a lot of such things recently.
Vladimir tracks the slug things back north, to a small woods near Fors Abbey. In the woods is some form of summoning circle, which seems to be the source of the slugs. Umbriel finds tracks that lead back to the Abbey, and flying around it notices an infernal aura.
Umbriel flies to Penhill Preceptory to inform the Templars there of what has happened, and persuade them to investigate Fors Abbey. The preceptor agrees to send a couple of knights there to ask around, though corrects that to half a dozen after it is realised there is some confusion about the actual size of the infernal slugs involved. The knights will be sent tomorrow.
Meanwhile that night, Vladimir and Colombanus perform some investigation of the abbey. Whilst keeping watch over it, they notice that there are a large number of birds that seem to be flying around. Investigating via flight, Vladimir finds that they are ravens, and seem to be coming from the north tower of the abbey. One of the attacks him when he tries to look inside, and so he retreats back.
On returning a bit later, with a few more magical protections up, the magi hear a cry from the large southern tower. Investigating, Vladimir sees the candle of a monk who is leaving the floor, then discovers some young men and women chained up in one of the small rooms. They are in bad shape, and look like they have been heavily abused. Talking to them, he finds out that they come from nearby villages, but are distrustful of Vladimir. He teleports inside the room, which elicits a scream from several of them, then proceeds to teleport them back to the camp, though has problems with one his casting attempts due to the infernal aura here..
After he has finished rescuing them, a couple of monks come to the room to investigate, but he paralyses them. There is the sound of a third monk, who probably has a staff, approaching, but no sign of an approaching light source. Teleporting one of the paralysed monks back, he goes to grab the other one when an invisible force picks up the monk's body and hurls it against the far wall with a sickening crack.
Vladimir decides to leave at that point, and the monk - who is old looking - darts around the corner and tries to grab him, but misses due to Vladimir's illusions. Vladimir teleports back to camp.
At camp, he finds that 90% of the five prisoners have made it back alive. The other 10% are embedded in a rock, and the other half of her is in a great deal of pain. He tries teleporting her out of the rock, but only half of her comes out, and she quickly dies.
As Umbriel approaches the abbey, it is noticed that thick storm clouds are gathering and it is beginning to rain. As she tries to get close, a large swarm of ravens descend out of the storm towards her. She flees, and summons up clouds of acid to destroy those pursuing her.
Back at camp, they tie down the monk and Umbriel tries to question him, though he is most uncooperative, chanting prayers to himself. Columbanus feels that some of the prayers aren't quite right, especially reference to the Lord in Cold and Darkness.
She tries to rifle through his mind, and finds that he thinks pretty much all the monks are corrupt. Since God left them last year, they have started following other teachings, and believe that their saviour is one called Mephistopheles. Umbriel recognises the name from one of those who may be connected to her past, which she has not been able to remember for over 10 years. She does discover that the monk with a staff may be Brother Enoch.
Then the monk starts talking to her in a different voice, and offers help and power to those that follow them. Before much more useful information can be obtained, he dies. The four other rescued prisoners are also discovered to be dead, all having died from a burst heart.
With the storm abating, they notice smoke coming from the large tower. Burnt bodies of more prisoners are found inside, and investigating further they find that all the monks are dead, having died very recently from no externally visible cause.
Vladimir discovers some paintings within the abbey, one of which is of Umbriel and the other of an unrecognised young man. There is no sign of Brother Enoch.
There is some discussion of what to do with the abbey's treasury (about £30 in silver, which the covenant could use), and what to do before the Templars turn up tomorrow so it doesn't look like the magi have just killed everyone.
The night is spent investigating Fors Abbey, searching for any evidence as to what was going on here. The crucifix in the chapel had been replaced with a wooden crown, on which were carved the futhark runes for Lord Mephistopheles. Several incomplete (and crude) iron crowns of a similar design were found in the workshop. Up in the main tower, in one of the larger (and more comfortable) cells, a few white, partly translucent, scales were found.
After much discussion on how to cover up the deaths of all the monks for when the Templars arrive, so that the magi don’t get blamed, it is decided to destroy all the bodies and try and make it look like the monks have instead left. The bodies are taken outside and Vladimir destroys them all.
The Templars arrive at the village of Kettlewell at noon the following day, led by Sir Martin. They are met by Umbriel, who is chosen (again) as the public face of the covenant due to her having the Gentle Gift. She explains how the giant slugs destroyed the village to Sir Martin, and he gets a second opinion from Lord Kettlewell. He seems to be impressed with what the wizards did, and congratulates them.
The Templars then head up to Fors Abbey to investigate things there, and Sir Martin questions Umbriel in some detail on what happened. He doesn’t seem entirely convinced, and comments to the Templar Karl Erik that the witch seems to be hiding something. Karl Erik convinces him that their techniques may be strange, but he thinks they can be trusted to do the right thing. Sir Martin is not so sure: “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the road is currently very short”. However, there is plenty of evidence that the monks were committing several forms of heresy at the very least, if not outright devil worship, and the Templars probably need the aid of the wizards given how bad things are getting.
Given the corruption here, Sir Martin asks Umbriel if it is possible for her to destroy the abbey completely. She cannot, but calls in Shale who demonstrates his ability to take it apart ‘brick by brick’ with a single wave of his hand. Sir Martin is visibly impressed by the powers of the wizards, and is glad he now has evidence of the reach of their capability, even though he isn’t entirely comfortable about it.
The Templars return to their Preceptory, and the magi to their covenant.
Later in Spring, the magi decide to investigate the stories of an old man seen digging graves in some woods near Dent. The small village there has no divine aura, and the windows of the church are boarded up. The villagers explain that there have been shadowy figures lurking around the village, and they retreat to the church for protection at night since it is the most easily defended building that they have.
Searching the woods, the magi discover several small clusters of graves, each with an unmarked headstone and containing nothing except for a single bone. Each bone seems to be a random human bone, possibly from different people.
That night, camped out in the woods, they hear the sound of whistling and track it down to an old man with a sack who is digging a grave. They introduce themselves, and he demands to know who they are and why they are out in the woods at night, because they can be dangerous. There are things he says who are lost, who don’t know they are dead and need to find a way home. The magi offer him food and drink, which he gulps down in a single bite.
He goes back to digging a grave, and when finished, pulls a bone out of his sack and places it at the bottom. He then fills in the grave, pulls a headstone from his sack and places it at the head of the grave. He then leaves.
Later that night, a dark shadow arrives at the grave and seems to settle into it. Pulling up the bone that was buried there, Columbanus determines that it is probably Corpus vis, and casts a spell to gather it into usable form. However, the lump that remains seems somewhat foul and corrupted. They determine that this is probably infernal vis, and is unusable (at least, not safely). Deciding that the old man is probably trapping restless spirits, they leave him alone and return to the covenant to continue their studies.