Worried by the news that the Redcap Justinia has brought about the new castle only twenty miles north of the covenant, the magi decide that they need to investigate. At this point Alicia remembers that she encountered some undead to the north a few months ago, who claimed that they were guarding the land for a Lord Konstantin.
Despite the freezing rain, Umbriel and Vladimir fly north to scout out the area. There is indeed a stone castle, set several hundred metres above the valley floor on a hill. It is partly shrouded in clouds, and seems to be of a very unusual design which seems to consist of spikes, ghastly statues and high walkways. Surrounding it are several encampments of armed men who stand out in the rain seemingly oblivious to the weather.
Whilst Vladimir stops off some distance away and begins to teleport in the other magi, Umbriel flies in for a closer look. The guards seem to be undead, armed with mail, shields and spears, and there is a minor infernal aura around the place. As she scouts the area she notices that she is being followed by another hawk. She tries to lose it in the clouds, but it refuses to follow and instead waits below for her to re-emerge. Eventually she takes refuge in some trees, and changes to her fox form. At this point she feels the touch of a Mentem attack against her Parma Magica, though it fails to penetrate. She scurries off back to the other magi.
There is discussion about what to do, with Alicia arguing for a full frontal diplomatic assault whilst the others prefer some more subtle. In the end Alicia gets her way, and buffing themselves up they go in search of the nearest encampment.
They find some guards standing outside some tents. They seem to be ancient undead, dressed in old armour and far more skeletal than they would if they were only recently not alive. They greet Alicia by name, and seem almost friendly. At this point a well dressed and stunningly beautiful woman exits one of the tents, welcoming them. She tells them that she wishes only to talk, but that the magi are all standing inside a Vim Sink and any attempts to use magic would be… unfortunate for the magi. At this point dozens more skeletal warriors erupt from the ground, forming a large circle around all of them.
The woman introduces herself as Lady Lithua, a representative of Lord Konstantin. She makes a point of greeting Quaesitor Columbanus by name, and looking directly at him, even though he is invisible. Apart from Alicia and Vladimir the magi mostly keep quiet and refuse to speak to her.
She says that they are here to bring order to the region, since a large influx of spirits is soon to be expected. Lord Konstantin prefers a more ordered form of oppression, and that he can keep things easy for the magi as long as they do not bother him. He would also appreciate it if they do not interfere if there was to be conflict between him and Voluntas Covenant.
According to Lady Lithua, Voluntas covenant have allied themselves with the Snow Queen of Iceland, who is also known as Princess Glasya, a somewhat powerful demon of Hell. Lord Konstantin is not as powerful as she is, but is opposed to her, and does not to see her claim these lands as her own, which is what her intention is. The magi ask where Mephistopheles fits into things, and she says that he is also a Demon Prince, somewhat higher up the hierarchy than the Snow Queen. They are enemies of each other.
The magi do not agree to anything, but don't disagree either. Lady Lithua states that they will assume the magi of Cruentis Petram are non-aggressive unless they act otherwise, and bids the magi farewell.
The magi decide to rapidly head back to their covenant. Though they're not entirely convinced by the claim of a Vis Sink, they don't want to risk things right now. There is much discussion about what to do next, and Umbriel flies to Cad Gadu and Ashenrise to let them know of things, and to try and find out if they have ever heard of a Vis Sink. Vladimir does much the same at Blackthorn, and discusses the possibility of informing King Henry and seeing if he can deal with the problem with a small army. Offa ex Miscellanea, who now seems to be the official spokesman for Blackthorn, says that he is happy with the idea, as long as it is done in a way that doesn't trace back to the Order.
Talking to Zephon, Alicia finds out that Glasya is a middling Princess of Hell, specialised in seduction and intrigue. He's never heard of this Vis Sink business either.
The question of whether to warn Voluntas or not has yet to be answered.
These is much discussion about what to do about the castle of Lord Konstantin. Alicia goes to Voluntas to warn Phessallia ex Merinita that Konstantin has made threats against her covenant. Phessallia receives Alicia coldly, and is keen to get rid of her. Alicia arranges for the magi of both covenants to meet in two days though on neutral territory.
Returning with the news, the others decide that they'd like a witness to the meeting, in case Voluntas tries anything stupid. Umbriel flies down to Libellus covenant, where she talks to Justin ex Tremere. He is happy to see that Umbriel is willing to organise and share information, but all the magi here are tied up because they have their own problems with an infernal keep in Dartmoor. They are planning to raid it next season. Though they are willing to team up in the long term, they wish to handle this themselves since they have trained together and introducing outsiders could confuse things. He also mentions that the keep seems to have a magical protection around it, similar in some ways to an Aegis of the Hearth.
Alicia and Columbanus travel to Cad Gadu to see if any magi there are willing to witness the meeting. They are spoken to by the maga Ilya ex Miscellanea, who is willing to go with them for a small price. She mentions that the castle in Yorkshire is not the only one to have appeared recently in England, and that there is another one near Nottingham.
They travel to the agreed location, but Voluntas do not show.
A few days later, Columbanus ventures north to the castle, and tries to use Intellego magic upon it, however he is unable to penetrate its magical defences. He is spotted by a large black hawk that seems to circle above him, so he leaves.
Umbriel performs her own scouting of the castle, but is met by two hawks and also decides to avoid a confrontation. The hawks seem to be only interested in keeping the magi away.
It is decided that attacking the castle at this point without further information is dangerous, so the magi settle into further study in order to improve their capabilities.
Later in Winter, Vladimir hears news that Corva ex Bjornaer of Voluntas covenant has been killed. She was apparently attacked whilst scouting to the north. She is back at Voluntas, and now undead.
Further information implies that Voluntas are sending groups of people into some woods near Leyburn. They seem to be equipped for a long journey.
A letter is received from the magus ibn-Hudhayl ex Criamon of Estancia-es-Karida covenant in Iberia, in response to their request for information about fallen stars. It is quite non-committal, but is seeking further details on what information the magi of Cruentis Petram are offfering. They suggest that something may have fallen nearby, but don't give details.