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Scribed by Ruaridh

Spring 1111 AD


It has become customary when taking over the duty of recording the covenant's history in this journal to cast an eye back over the work of previous authors and declare both admiration for their endeavours and an intention to be as faithful to the truth as possible. I shall ignore this tradition, partly because I find that the two statements sit rather uncomfortably together, and partly because the winter chill has numbed both my fingers and my brain.

The season began as always with a council meeting. Antonius announced that a cursory examination of the text he had discovered in his sanctum revealed that it contained information on matters relating to the Schism War. We agreed that it would be best to inform Holy Isle covenant of the discovery and to lock the tome away in my sanctum in the meantime. Little else of note was discussed, though there was a rather heated debate centring on Petrus' rather profligate attitude to the use of magical resources.

Later in the season, we discovered that a local knight, Sir Kenneth of Coleford, had set up a village close to Clearwell hill. The rationale for his actions became clear when we heard that the Reeve had recently reduced taxes on iron ore to encourage higher production to aid the King's war effort. The tax charge for own iron mine near Blackney fell by some 150 pennies, though we were told that taxes in general might rise in the future because of the impending war. I visited Clearwell village later in the season to check on its size and progress, and I was alarmed to see that the villagers had dug several wells and dammed parts of the stream to divert the water flow. These developments lie very close to the natural well that produces Rego vis each summer.

Midway through the season, Gyriania of Mercere arrived bearing news from elsewhere in the land. Though honoured by her presence, we were saddened to learn that our usual contact, Stassius, had died last winter when his longevity potion failed. Gyriania informed us that she was in the process of training a replacement who would in due course take over Stassius' former route through Wales and western England.

Turning to mundane matters, we learned that the Dean had been declared a Royal Forest. We are unsure of the exact implications of the decree, though I suspect that it will inevitably lead to more intrusion and taxes. Further afield, there were encouraging signs of an alliance against the King forming on the continent. Through the marriage of his daughter to the German Emperor and the exchange of hostages with the King of France, Duke Henry of Normandy appears to have cemented relations with his two most powerful neighbours, potentially opening the way to an invasion of England. Furthermore, the King has been excommunicated by the Pope. It seems he is fast running out of friends.

There was also a good deal of Hermetic news, most of it troubling. Primus Guernicas announced that the mandate of the dedicated covenant at Holy Isle had been extended to include investigating Magi who might have lent aid to members of the Unnamed House during the Schism War. Jordael of Cad Gadu had been asked by Dionysus to present himself at Holy Isle, though no charges had been levied against him. Krekaranius of Morstow declared that a recent eclipse had been the second of three omens he had foreseen in a vision. The third omen - a comet - would apparently bring great ruin to the Order.

A new head of House Mercere, Prima Cecilia, had taken office following the death of the previous incumbent. One of her first actions appears to have been to write to Turold, which seems rather strange. Closer to home, Xeros of Blackthorn slipped into final twilight last year. Petrus received a letter from the remaining Magi at Blackthorn offering him a place at that covenant. He decided to travel there to consider the offer over the rest of the season as he needed to consult their library anyway. We passed on our condolences to him, and said that, though it would be a great shame to lose him, we would not stand in his way if he decided to move to Blackthorn permanently. Before Gyriania left, we asked her to pass on a message to Holy Isle about the books Antonius had discovered.

I received a private letter from Lothar, who was in the midst of his studies at Irencillia. He claimed that his tutor had uncovered secret memories hidden deep within his mind (I shall refrain from making the obvious remark here). It seems he was ensorcelled by the Ruadan when they met outside the Aegis a few seasons ago. She showed him a vision of Varsavia's death where the fatal blow was struck not by Idris but by me. Acting on this knowledge, he had plotted to slay me when I returned from Magvillus. I was greatly alarmed by this news as I had not realised that the Ruadan's anger was so deep.

Later in the season, the Merinitan Quaesitor returned from the faerie glade. She told us that she had spoken with several of the fae, though she had not seen Ninniaw. The wounds made by Lothar's pater had healed, and the faeries he slew had been reborn. Furthermore, she had sensed no hostility towards the covenant, which is good news indeed. On an unrelated matter, she informed us that Palug, the diminutive faerie who used to guard the mushrooms on the lowest level of the Regio, had told her that they had been stolen by Varein on behalf of another faerie named Morfannon.

Summer

I raised the matter of Lothar's letter at the council meeting that began the season. The threat was apparent to all - though young, Lothar possesses formidable strength in his bear form, and he is clearly a danger to us all if he cannot protect himself from the Ruadan's wiles. I only wish that it was Turold she sought to use as her weapon. Antonius raised the matter of Lothar's untruthfulness when questioned about the matter by council. His previous claim that his conversation with the Ruadan did not concern the covenant was proved false, and we resolved to question him closely when he returns from Germany.

Antonius brought news of mundane affairs from his travels into Wales. The inhabitants of Monmouth and Chepstow were worried about an impending attack by the Welsh, though there was also a feeling among some that the Welsh might bypass the two castles in a bid to advance as far as the Severn. Whatever happens, we would do well to prepare our defences as thoroughly as possible. The excommunication of the King had caused severe problems for several of Antonius' contacts among the clergy. The Rector of Chepstow's position appeared particularly vulnerable, since he could not obey a monarch who had been renounced by the Pope. We agreed to offer Stuart, the steward at Lydney and a friend of the Rector, sanctuary if the situation became dangerous.

Petrus informed us that he had decided to remain at Severn Temple. The Magi of Blackthorn were disappointed, but they had given him until the next Tribunal meeting to change his mind.

Two weeks into the season, Lothar returned. We called an immediate council meeting to discuss what had happened to him, and the implications of his letter. He recounted the story about his meeting with the Ruadan and his subsequent plan to kill me. When challenged on the issue of misleading council, he argued that the Ruadan's enchantment had prevented him from revealing the plot. We accepted this explanation, but we demanded that he take precautions to avoid the incident reoccurring. Specifically, we agreed that Lothar should learn the Parma Magica to the forth magnitude and the art of Mentem to the second magnitude before venturing into the faerie regio again. Lothar accepted this on the proviso that he could attend Ninniaw if called. Later that night, Lothar approached me to ask my opinion on whether I had broken the Primary Code by angering the Ruadan. His faith in my impartiality is both touching and bewildering.

A few weeks later, a group of Welsh bandits attacked one of our barges near to Blackney. Several men on both sides were killed before the brigands escaped with a load of iron ore. Troubling though this was, worse was to come. Our well produced no Rego vis when the water failed to boil over as usual. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the developments at Clearwell village.

Autumn


Little of note happened in the council meeting, though I cannot resist recording the gleam of excitement in Petrus' eyes when he described the Wand of Arcane Fire that he proposed to create with Turold as this year's covenant service. Perhaps our learned Bonisagus is not as uninterested in "vulgar" magics as we all thought.

A curious event occurred a few days into the season. One of the grogs apparently unearthed a golden coin just outside the covenant. He instantly became extremely possessive of the coin, refusing to let anyone else touch it. Several other grogs who saw the coin also developed an unnatural desire for it, and a long chase and violent scuffle broke out. Eventually, Lucien managed to grab the coin, and Antonius ordered him to return with it to his sanctum. We fetched a device designed to protect the wearer against magic, and gave it to Lucien. Instantly, the enchantment was broken, and Lucien was happy to give up the coin. We locked it away in the treasury, and eventually broke it down into its constituent vis, Mentem. The origins of the coin remain a mystery.

A few weeks later, I received a visit from Cornelius, one of the Magi of House Jerbiton. He told me that he had found the body of Edwin of Ex Miscellanea a week ago in manor house on the outskirts of the town of Southampton. In my capacity as Quaesitor, I accompanied Cornelius to determine the cause of Edwin's death. It was a grisly sight. Edwin appeared little more than skin and bones, taking on the appearance of a man many years past his natural lifespan. He lay slumped over a writing table, his diary open before him. Three pages of that document had been ripped out.

Through magical and mundane investigation, I determined that Edwin had been literally aged to death using some non-Hermetic power or device. The sixth magnitude Circular Ward Against Demons with which he protected his room had not saved him. Piecing together the stories of his mundane servants, the remaining parts of his diary and Cornelius' statement, I surmised that he had probably been slain by servants of the Infernal powers. Some of the information pointed to the coven of diabolists active in Gloucester, but the deed may have been carried out by agents closer to Southampton.

Whatever the nature of his assassins, Edwin's death was a great blow for me personally since he was one of the few Magi I knew with real insights into how to recognise and combat the Infernal. I had also hoped one day to repay the aid he had given me at the time of the last Tribunal. I sent news of my findings, which included the fact that Cornelius was not implicated in any way in the murder, to the Praeco and Erin, Edwin's filius.

Towards the end of the season, we learned that several strange eggs had been laid close to the mine in Blackney. I shall not recount exactly how we discovered this, but suffice it to say that two of the grogs have been told in no uncertain terms that they will regret it if they ever try to extort money from us again. Petrus used his magics to investigate the eggs, and he determined that they contained strange creatures with the head and bodies of men but the lower parts of snakes. Though the eggs each contained a pawn of Corporem vis, we decided to keep them safe until we discovered more about their origins.

Winter

As ever, we opened the season with a council meeting. Jacques the scribe had learned more about the mysterious eggs from one of the bestiaries in the library. Legend has it that when a pregnant woman is bitten by an adder and survives, her offspring develops into a half-human and half-snake hybrid. The creatures are not necessarily thought to be hostile towards men, though they are apparently most vengeful if spurned because of their appearance. The scales of an Adder Queen, as they are called, are known to cure snakebites. We decided to return the eggs to the forest in order to avoid incurring the wrath of their mother. Lothar and I ventured deep into the woods, and placed the eggs in the hollow of a tree far from any of the local villages.

We discussed the issue of the new village near Clearwell hill and its impact on our source of Rego vis. We determined that I should travel to the village under cover of darkness, dam one of the village's wells that was draining water from the vis site and open up a less damaging source of water. This I accomplished, though it remains to be seen whether it will have the desired effect of raising the water pressure sufficiently next summer.

Later in the season, Lothar reported that he had come across a mighty stag dying in the forest. This was clearly no ordinary beast, for it offered Lothar its antlers on its death if he would promise to protect the forest from human encroachment. Lothar readily agreed, since this aim tied in with his own intentions anyway. Though I think we would all sleep a little sounder at night if we knew that the forest would remain isolated from the prying eyes of the mundanes, we made it clear to Lothar that he should be careful that fulfilling his bargain did not place him in breach of the Code.
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