After breaking our fast, we all head down to the site to help with uncovering the panels. Simon has made an entire bucket of the solvent that helps remove the grime from the panels and he is eager to show Tristan how it can be best employed. Simon and Tristan devote themselves to uncovering the seventh alcove, with Arthur offering cautious assistance. Meanwhile Jules and Sister Aimlyn focus on the second alcove; Jules’ main objective however being to gain a closer connection with the woman – not root out her fears or actually clear the panel. Nevertheless headway is made. Next to them – mirroring Simon, Tristan and Arthur – Father Nolan, a novice and Theo are hard at work on the third alcove. Like Jules, Theo’s focus is more on his companions than on the panel itself. He urges Father Nolan to consider the images on the panels and the story they tell; to consider how it is important to accept one’s fate in the world and that some things cannot be changed. Iskcaron’s laughter rings in his ears.
In the evening we mostly set about our own pursuits. Arthur, concerned by what he overheard of Theo’s conversation with Father Nolan, buries himself in the bible – trying to find information about how contracts with demons can be broken. With the blessing of Saint Thomas the Doubter to guide him, he makes some progress. Theo, holed up in his room, having mastered the creation and shaping of flame on a candle, now attempts to push the flame from one candle to another. His studies last long into the night. Simon, Jules and Tristan persevere in uncovering the panels and are able to fully reveal panel three. Simon takes the opportunity to lord his knowledge of druidic rites over Tristan. [Did someone take a different action here?]
We are all pretty tired the next day, but before we can set to work Isabel Marnham visits us and makes clear her displeasure with Tristan’s absence. She asks us all to dinner, which some of us agree to more readily than others; and then we quickly set to work. Jules attempts to persuade Allan Fornay to show her his sword- no, how he handles his spear- no, spar with her so that they might both practice their skill at arms. Unfortunately, he is unwilling to leave the duties Father Nolan has set him and Jules contents herself with making more headway on the site. Simon also continues his work down below – with even sprucier-smelling solvent and renewed gusto. Together they reveal panel four. Tristan meanwhile visits with Theo to learn more about the workings of sorcery – and he is all too eager to explain. Once you concentrate the forces, like pulling droplets or threads in a particular direction, you can use their momentum to drive the flame from point to point. And perhaps one day the candle will not be necessary. Unfortunately, they are rudely disturbed by Arthur who has been tending the sick and come upon a young boy (Hubert Lockwood) suffering from a bite mark. He needs Tristan’s physicking expertise. They quickly establish that Hubert, who lives with his family on the outskirts of town, was in the garden when some awful beast, maybe a boar, bit him and fled. Tristan knows that this bite was made by a human set of jaws, probably a Soulridden. We persuade the father to let us take the boy to the Priory where he can be better looked after and Tristan uses his authority to quell the man’s fears.
Arthur, though he is loathe to leave Tristan in Isabel’s tender care, decides to forgo dinner at the manner so he can help the ailing boy. With the help of the other novices in residence he attempts to perform an exorcism. He is successful, though the boy’s father must hold him down and in the midst of the process Arthur’s brother speaks to him out of the boys mouth. He tells Arthur that he needs help – in a way that makes Arthur confident his sibling has died in battle in France. He is deeply shaken. Jules has gone to console another deeply shaken individual – Father Nolan – who has become more and more withdrawn as new panels are revealed. She finds him by the river and has a long heart to heart with him in which she urges him to find strength among his friends in these dark times.
Meanwhile, at the manor, Theo, Tristan and Simon are treated to an excellent meal and conversation regarding astrology. After the meal, Theo, deeply weary, quickly returns home. Simon arranges to study texts in the manor’s excellent library and Isabel offers to show Theo her astrological charts; which he’s more than obliged to do. Simon researches the nature of the cauldrons revealed on the panels and discovers that at the founding of Viriconium, the Cornovii presented the roman governor with a cauldren, the Drych yr Henuriaid (Glass of the Elders). Isabel shows Tristan that their stars, seen in the right light, are well-aligned. Tristan agrees, though he points out some missing calculations and that much is currently in flux. Isobel consents, but she requires some concrete, smooch-based, assurance that his interest in her is not trivial. This he readily gives.
Exhausted, Arthur reports of the curing of the boy and the disturbing fact that a Soulridden is in the area and leaving victims alive to spread the plague (or for other foul purpose). Once bitten, a soul is compromised and, left on its own, will be evicted as the body is consumed by the plague – leaving the Soulridden it’s new owner. He also mentions his brother’s voice. Simon eagerly offers insights into the metaphysical nature of the event. Theo approvingly recognizes the exorcism as proof that Arthur is one of God’s chosen. Jules sees this as an opportunity to tell Nolan some cheering news. And Tristan is deliberately reticent regarding his actions of the past night. While Theo and Arthur (with lesser and greater success) dispute the nature of God’s love for the benefit of father Nolan, Tristan, Simon and Jules head out to root out the Soulridden. Careful tracking eventually leads them to a lair and the beginnings of a new mission: to eliminate them from the area. Meanwhile, the novices uncover the final panels.
1: Roman soldiers wearing the heads of wolves stand over a defeated people. The legion’s banner bears the name Legio XIV Gemina. (We know this is “The Twins Fourteenth Legion” dedicated to the Romulus and Remus (suckled by a she-wolf) who took part in the conquest of this region. A major Roman city to the west, near Shrewsbury, was Viriconium (or Uiroconion, city of the man-wolf.))
2: A gift offered from the people to a Roman governor, a cauldron.
3: Romans place bodies wrapped in funeral cloth into a cauldron. Rising from the cauldron a collection of Roman spirits take positions as if to council the funeral attendees. Simon understands that cauldrons often appear in celtic folklore, being a symbol for the Goddess. He also knows about the Mabinogi (collection of transcribed Welsh legends). In the tale of Branwen, the Pair Dadeni (Cauldron of rebirth) is a magical cauldron in which dead warriors could be placed and then be returned to life, save that they lacked the power of speech. His later research reveals that the Cornovii give a Roman governor the Drych yr Henuriaid (Glass of the Elders) at the founding of the Viriconium. We think it’s possible that either the Romans or the Cornovii mistook the latter for the formed – given what happens in the next panel.
4: Figures emerge from a cauldron to grope, harass and bite at the observers surrounding it.
5: A collection of sick and dying people, some lying upon the ground with black skin.
6: A weeping figure leans over a black body laid to rest. The body reaches out toward the figure.
7: A line of black figures stand behind a horned man atop a horse. The assembled group has the look of an army. The figures are black. It is hard to say whether the horns are part of a helmet or not.
8: A town in flames.