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Scribed by Ruaridh

Spring 1112 AD


Spring was a relatively quiet season. After a brief discussion at council of our plans for the coming year, we all left to pursue our studies. Little of note occurred in the first few weeks, though there were a number of brief sightings by the grogs of the Adder Queen in the woods. To make sure that she laid no more eggs near the mine at Blackney, I sealed the passage she had used to gain entry in the past.

Only two other items of news are worth recording. First, Antonius received a message from Dionysus requesting that he present himself at Holy Isle by the end of the year. The meeting should be little more than a formality since Antonius acted properly by returning the book to the council as soon as he realised that it contained passages relating to the Schism War. Second, I received notice from Jordael of Cad Gadu that Primus Uriens had slipped into final twilight. Uriens was a complex man, timid and unassuming on the outside yet willing to stand up for what he believed in. I hope his successor exhibits similar qualities.

Summer

At the council meeting that opened the season, Antonius brought news of mundane affairs from his travels in the Spring. Monmouth and Chepstow were awash with rumours about the continental alliance formed by Duke Henry of Normandy. Most were of the view that the Duke and his allies would seek to invade England, most probably next year. Antonius learned that the Rector of Chepstow had been arrested and charged with treason. There was also whispered talk of Idris marshalling the Welsh forces in the mountains.

A few weeks into the season, Lothar returned from the forest with news of a great fire spreading south from Huntley hill. In all likelihood, it had been started deliberately to burn back the forest and allow more cultivation. This was a clear threat to the seclusion and security of the covenant, and so I travelled quickly to a hill overlooking the conflagration and summoned a fierce rainstorm to drive back the flames. This limited the amount of damage the flames were able to do, though the area around Huntley hill was still badly burnt. Unfortunately, owing to the need to fight the fire, I missed the chance to collect the Rego vis from the well near Clearwell village. We shall have to wait until next year to see whether our efforts to restore the site have proved successful.

Shortly before mid-summer, I travelled north to Cad Gadu for the meeting of House Ex Miscellanea. Earlier in the season, I had given Jordael permission to open the meeting given the absence of a Primus following Uriens' twilight. Jordael had made an effort to get as wide an attendance at the meeting as possible by personally inviting Magi from as far away as the Hibernian and Loch Leglean tribunals. This seemed like a very positive move since previous tribunal meetings had been dominated by English and Welsh Magi, and it would be interesting to hear the opinions of those from further afield.

Unfortunately, the Scots opinions were aggressive, boorish, ill-informed and often incomprehensible. I took an instant dislike to one of their leaders, an oaf by the name of McGreine, who tried to get his entire clan admitted to the tribunal chamber, despite the fact that at least three quarters of them did not possess even the semblance of the Gift. I was forced to ask Praeco Garius to stand watch on the entrance to the chamber while Sulyamaniyah, a Moorish Quaesitor, and I tested each and every person who entered the room for the Gift. I must admit that I detested Sulyamaniyah, an arrogant and status conscious fool, just as much as I did McGreine.

Having finally determined who was entitled to take part in the proceedings, we moved on to the appointment of the new Primus. By tradition, this should have been the eldest living Magus in the House, but the issue was complicated by the fact that both Jordael and McGreine were 138 years old. Just as I thought the meeting was about to degenerate from farce to violence, two men burst into the chamber. The first was like no figure I have ever seen before or since. Standing a foot higher than the tallest man, he had skin like the bark of an oak tree. The second figure was the fugitive Harnol.

The first figure introduced himself as Llanoddwyn, a Magus most thought had died many decades ago. He claimed to be 300 years old, an assertion Sulyamaniyah verified through the use of magic. With the matter of who was to be the new Primus settled, Llanoddwyn announced that Harnol would be tried under House rather than Tribunal law. I must admit that I had never heard of this, but Sulyamaniyah confirmed that there were precedents for such a move.

Sulyamaniyah presented the case against Harnol. He had been caught by Yania consorting with the bard Stephen, a suspected member of the Unnamed House, in a tavern in York. When Yania approached him, he fled into the night, as did Stephen. Harnol countered that he had not known that Stephen was connected in any way with the Unnamed House, and that he fled after Yania attacked him with magic. Sulyamaniyah confirmed the truthfulness of his answers with magic.

Llanoddwyn asserted that the evidence that Stephen was an agent of the Unnamed House was extremely flimsy, and that it would be ridiculous to damn Harnol for associating with someone who was only suspected of wrongdoing. This argument carried the day, and Harnol was formally cleared of all charges against him. The meeting then broke up for the night. I spent a few hours going over the legality of what had happened with Sulyamaniyah, and it appears that Llanoddwyn acted in accordance with the Code. I look forward to explaining this to Dionysus.

The next day, we discussed a matter of much wider import. Llanoddwyn derided the declaration of the last Grand Tribunal on the matter of those suspected of consorting with the Unnamed House. He proposed that each Magus should be judged on his actions and perhaps his intentions, not on his associations. The motion was passed unanimously. A further motion declaring that all men should have the right to worship unmolested by the Order as long as they did not breach the Code was also passed unanimously. This was meant to extend the same rights enjoyed by Christians to those who follow pagan religions.

I returned to Severn Temple in mixed spirits. I feel that the motions passed by the House were absolutely correct and represent a clear step forward for the rights of those who have been persecuted by parts of the Order in the past, but I also have misgivings about what this may mean for the struggle against the Unnamed House. I have not forgotten Idris' betrayal.

Autumn

At the council meeting at the start of the season, I described the main points arising from the meeting of House Ex Miscellanea to my sodalis. There was some discussion of the possible implications of the House's ruling, but we will probably need to wait until the next Grand Tribunal for the various issues to be resolved. Antonius, who had returned safely from his interview with Dionysus at Holy Isle, told us that one of his main contacts, the Rector of Chepstow, had been burned for heresy, which does not bode well for those Christian priests who put the Pope before the King.

A little while into the season, we received a visit from Gyriania of Blackthorn. She brought news of hermetic and mundane matters, as well as a new redcap, Mathus, who would henceforth take messages between the covenants in the western parts of the country. Gyriania confirmed the news we had already heard of an alliance against Black Hugh on the continent, though Duke Henry has apparently fallen ill, which means that an invasion will probably not come this year or the next. King Hugh held a council of war in the summer, but the Duke of York refused to attend without the exchange of hostages. The King besieged the city of York, and the Duke fled north to seek an alliance with the King of Scotland. His proposals were apparently rebuffed. The Duke of Cornwall and the Archbishop of Hereford have both proclaimed their allegiance to the King, and civil war seems likely.

There was also much hermetic news. Gyriania formally announced the results of my investigation into the death of the Magus Edwin. Erin of Scarfell, who inherited Edwin's personal effects, declared that the pages missing from Edwin's diary most probably contained information on diabolic covens that were operating in Chester, London and Gloucester. The ruling passed at the Ex Miscellanea house meeting - that a Magus should be judged on his actions and perhaps his intentions but not his associations - was also formally announced. Primus Llanoddwyn had travelled to Holy Isle to explain it to Dionysus, who then sent a message to Primus Guernicas requesting a special meeting of the Grand Tribunal to discuss the issue. Dionysus requested at meeting of all the Quaesitoris in the tribunal at Holy Isle in the last week of the season.

The final piece of news concerned the fall of a covenant in Hibernia. This was of particular interest and concern to us as an investigation of the site of the covenant had revealed that Infernal magics had been used to bring down the Aegis. The Magi had all been slain, though the body of one of them, Miciella of Tytalus, had not been found.

Towards the middle of the season, we received a message from the Baron of Chepstow demanding men in case of an attack by the Welsh. Though I agreed to protect the forest from poachers and raiders, I explained that there were scarcely enough men to man the walls of the covenant. In spite of this, I offered to consider his request, but the messenger took this as an outright refusal to meet my feudal obligation. It was only by agreeing to reinforce the garrison at Lydney and pay a hundred pennies towards the "war effort" that we were able to assuage the Baron's anger. If I had forgotten just how much I loath the Norman nobility, this episode brought right back to me. The sooner we are in a position where we can ignore the demands of these ignorant, irrational tyrants, the better.

Just before the end of the season, I travelled swiftly north to Holy Isle. I must admit that I was not relishing the thought of having to explain exactly what had transpired at the House meeting to the assembled Quaesitoris, but it was not quite as bad as I feared. After he heard the details of the House's ruling, Dionysus decided that Holy Isle's investigations into Magi suspected of associating with the Unnamed House would be suspended until the Grand Tribunal resolved the issue. With a bit of luck, this may not happen for some time, which should give members of my House a few more years of peace.

Winter

Lothar returned from then forest a few days before the council meeting, and he announced that he had managed to drive off a band of Welsh raiders that he had encountered fairly close to the covenant. He had also discovered a lump of quartz that he believed was magical. Petrus determined that the quartz contained five pawns of Imagonem vis and also some form of innate magic. We shall have to investigate it more thoroughly when Petrus, or perhaps Turold, has more time. Antonius reported that Stuart, the steward at Lydney, had told him that the village's priest, Father Christopher, had apparently participated in the torture of the late Rector of Chepstow. The priest's mood had become much darker in the weeks since the event, and he had taken to spending large amounts of time brooding silently in the church. Given that building's terrible history, I fear what may become of him.

At mid-winter, the covenant was beset by fierce storms that made travel impossible. Our librarian, Jacques, was discovered unconscious by the well. When he was roused, he claimed to have had a vision of a pack of dogs hunting through the sky. As the dogs passed over the covenant, he saw people wither away as if suffering from great hunger. He glimpsed a flaming sword and then passed out. Slightly disturbed by this, we went to investigate the grain stores. To our horror, we found the grain rotten and blighted, and our animals sick and dying. We called an emergency council meeting to discuss the situation. We resolved to seek aid from as many sources as possible, for we realised that the covenant could not survive more than a few weeks without fresh supplies. Despite the weather, Antonius agreed to try to make his way to Gloucester to purchase foodstuffs. He barely made it through the ice and snow, collapsing outside a tavern by the Severn. As soon as the storms cleared enough for me to fly, I hurried down to meet him. It soon became obvious that the blight had not been restricted to the covenant: plague fires were in evidence all around Gloucester. I discovered Antonius' unconscious form in the tavern, and carried him back to the covenant.

Meanwhile, Turold headed down to Carrion Moor to request aid. The plague had not spread that far, and, though he receive a somewhat frosty reception, Turold was able to secure a cartload of supplies. This would, however, take several weeks to reach the covenant, which left the covenfolk in a perilous situation. I know not how, but we managed to pull through, aided by the occasional kill from the forest brought in by Lothar and meat I carried back from an expedition to Hereford.

As I sit writing this in the fading light of a gloomy winter's evening, the horrors of the past few weeks seem almost like a distant memory. We still do not know how or why our supplies were infested so rapidly. Stuart claimed that the dogs in Jacques' vision might have been the Hounds of Gabriel; legend has it that they chase the Devil from the land, though I do not understand why doing this should have brought plague here. What is clear is the dreadful losses we have suffered, which include several grogs, covenfolk and the singer, Ruth.
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