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Scribed by Audacia

Spring 1138 AD


So eager was I to be out and hunting that infernal wolf, that my notes about our meeting were scant. Ruaridh and I will take some armed men, and Hassan, and try to track down and destroy this creature forever. Antonius, as he usually does, will travel abroad this season amongst the mundanes. Caelestis was extracting vim vis, I think. Turold went to Blackthorn, though I was so busy considering the tactic of our hunt that I forgot to record the reason why.

Travelling out shortly after dawn, Ruaridh, the grogs and myself ended up spending a good few weeks camped out at the cave. We searched for wolf tracks and ventured as close as we deemed wise to the Dell. In the end we ran short of supplies and had to head back to the covenant. Having gathered more food and fresh wine we intended to make our way back to the cave and continue our nightly vigils and daily searching. However, on the way back, our quarry found us.

At first we espied some wolves following us from within the forest. Our archer killed one, but the other wolves hung back; watchful, but careful not to get too close. After some hours we broke the stalemate by continuing down towards the cave. As we approached the top of the steep slope leading down to the cave and the clearing, we were distracted by the sounds of wolf howls. Then, without warning, the demon wolf suddenly appeared within our ranks. Paralysed by the piercing howl of the infernal wolf many of the grogs were unable to react. The wolf lunged towards Ruaridh, it’s great crushing maw ready to take him by the throat. By some miracle, Hassan managed to throw himself between the wolf and Ruaridh, taking the blow that might have slain my sodalis upon himself. In the next instant those of us who carried the Perdo Vim potions hurled them at the beast. As suddenly as the attack had come, the drama was over; the heavy sand burning into the essence of the beast until nawt remained but a pool of black ichor upon the bare earth where the wolf was stood.

I for one needed no further confirmation of Hassan’s bravery and loyalty. We returned immediately to the covenant after I had stabilised his wounds with one of my personal potions. From there we had him healed as best we could with vis. The vicious nature of the injury has left him with a deep and permanent scar about his chest. Hassan has recovered his fitness, but the nature of the wound may come to haunt him in later years.

Such a speedy resolution of the problem of the wolf left Ruaridh and I free to pursue some other possibilities. We investigated the infernal Dell in the southern wood, but through the rending of the veil there appears to be no change about the place. We also managed to obtain some Vis from the barrows to the North East of us; long ago revealed to the covenant by Idris. From there we obtained a reasonable amount of Mentem Vis; by having myself excavate and grogs run down to the forest edge with sacks of bones. We’ll have to leave the place for a while so that the barrow shade’s victims have a chance to add their bones to the site, but otherwise I think we have a stable source of Mentem vis here.

We returned to the covenant and the last few weeks of the season passed without incident. Antonius returned safely, with the suggestion that things were going well for us in the mundane politic. Turold came back from Blackthorn a couple of days before the beginning of summer. Then, upon the last day of spring and with his typical lack of ceremony, the Archimagus Jolyon arrived. The summoning of the tower was a lengthy ritual, and I couldn’t help but be impressed that apparently the Archimagus had taken but one season to create such a spell. The towers rose directly out of the ground, accompanied by such a shaking of the earth that I wondered whether the surviving outbuildings would collapse. Great clods of turf showered from the two rooftops as they stretched their way into the air; the battlements already fully formed. At the end of it, Jolyon looked exhausted, but he accepted our profuse thanks and enthusiastic admiration for his talents with both good cheer and modesty. Jolyon wanted to get straight back, as after he has recovered he has much work to attend to. I suspect he could see we were eager to explore our new home, but too polite to do so whilst he remained with us.

Summer


Our meeting was very late, as we spent most of this day exploring the towers and organising carpenters to begin building doors and furniture. When we finally met we each quickly determined to spend the season assembling our new laboratories; save Turold who, by some obligation or another, felt it necessary to travel into the faerie regio.

The only other news was from Antonius, who told us of King Stephen’s coronation at Westminster. It seems that more locally, our neighbour Sir Martin has risen in station. He is to be wed to the daughter of the Duke of York later this year, and has been granted the title of Baron of Monmouth. It seems now that a new era of peace may reign, with the two local Barons being on such friendly terms. Though, something in Antonius’ tone of voice made me wonder whether he thinks that such a friendship will last the test of now being equals. I do not know.

Suffice to say that I spent a pleasant season fitting out my new sanctum and laboratory. From the destruction we have rallied and rebuilt. It shall not be too long now until we turn our minds back to expansion again.

Autumn

It feels good to have a sanctum and laboratory again. In all my years, as an apprentice and later at Rellatoni covenant, always have I had somewhere secure and private to rest and work. I must confess I didn’t realise how important such things were to me until at the end of last season I found myself able to relax a little; for the first time since the dragon’s attack. However, as I sit here now with quill and parchment to record this seasons events, I realise that all of us had relaxed perhaps a little too much. As I shall relate, always must we be vigilant, ever watchful. Such comforts and security may weaken the will, and that may court disaster as surely as any external threat. But I move ahead of myself, for the season began innocently enough.

At the council meeting Caelestis, Ruaridh and Turold reporting back on the magical symposium held at Blackthorn last season. It appears that only one speaker turned up; Sylvania of Merinita. Du Clerc and Petrus, due to speak on the power of the Dominion and the nature of magical auras respectively, failed to attend; leaving the symposium a somewhat shorter affair than had been intended. My sodales were able to trade a rook of mentem vis for imagonem, and they purchased from Jordael a magical device that constantly operates the Invisible Eye Revealed to a seventh magnitude effect for a mere 8 pawns of vis. This device is an excellent bargain, but Turold shall investigate it before we rely upon it at council meetings. Finally, Jordael gave us news of Edith, who fled from this covenant before I arrived here and took many magical resources belonging to the covenant. It appears that she is still alive, and that Jordael has had indirect contact with her. It seems also that she fled the covenant after a message was delivered to her from Mathus; something we may have to raise with the Red Cap.

It was a sign of our new found feelings of security, perhaps, that whilst Ruaridh and I would study from vis, and Turold reassemble his laboratory; Caelestis’s mind had turned to the task of passing on his magical knowledge, and with Antonius’s assistance was minded to seek out an apprentice. It seems also that Caelestis had some desire to travel to Turold’s house meeting in a couple of years time, and from there both of them travel to the Levant. We reminded Caelestis of the black prophecy his return was supposed to herald, to which Caelestis replied that he had seen something in the stars that made him believe that his God demanded such a trip. However, it seems perhaps that Destiny is more fickle than our Bonisagus believed.

The search for Caelestis’s apprentice began poorly. He and Antonius travelled only as far as Blacknee where they discovered the village in a state of emergency. The recent heavy rain had caused the mine to collapse, trapping some of the miners. Ruaridh and I were swiftly summoned. Ruaridh used a Rego Terram spell to support the ceiling, whilst I managed to create a small path through the blocked area and rescue one of the men from inside. However, as this man and I sought to escape the tunnel entrance, Ruaridh’s spell gave way. Ruaridh and I managed to escape with only minor cuts and bruises, but the man I’d tried to rescue was not so fortunate. As the wooden timbers gave way he was crushed by the tons of rock which crashed down upon us. Six of the miners died that day, and it will be some time until we have the manpower and prepared site to extract more iron from the hills.

Caelestis, impatient to resume his search for an apprentice, pressed on. Their party made it as far as the Wye by nightfall. There Antonius ordered the two grogs to set up camp, whilst Hassan made his prayers. However, it seems that their party was not the only ones to miss the last ferry to Chepstow. A group escorting a wagon had camped nearby and overheard Hassan’s praying. We all know how ignorant, armed mundanes react to something unfamiliar. A fight broke out, with Hassan near mortally wounded by a longbow arrow. Antonius used his magic to swiftly bring the situation under control, and before too long the men were disarmed and bound; save one who managed to escape into the dark forest nearby. Only then did they discover that one member of this group was a monk from Tintern Abbey, where Antonius (in another guise) is well known. This monk recognised Antonius’s voice and his fate was sealed in that moment. Hassan was ordered to slit the monk’s throat, and the two grogs prepared weights so that all the bodies would be lost in the nearby river.

However, whether it was the death of the monk or sheer bad fortune, the events attracted the attention of an infernal spirit. The spirit assailed Antonius, claiming that it had long sought the soul of the monk and it was angry that all it’s efforts were now in vain; for the monk had died still virtuous. The body of the monk had been thrown in the river by now, but unlike the others, his body had not sunk under the weights attached; but floated still, near the steep bank. Antonius flew up to see if he could destroy or hide the body. Of course, flying moved him beyond his ward. The spirit tried to bargain with Antonius; the life (and soul) of the remaining prisoner in return for a convenient cover up of the monk’s death. Antonius, of course, refused. However, the spirit threatened to use whatever powers it had to ensure that the crime was discovered, and that the wrath of the Church comes against Antonius. When Antonius stuck close to his Oath, and still refused to bargain; the spirit tried to intimidate him by interfering with the winds that held him aloft. When Antonius realised that the spirit could keep him in the air, indeed pull him higher into the air, he took the decision to escape while he could; and apported back to the covenant. However, the infernal spirit was still abroad; and Caelestis, frightened by the presence of an infernal aura that had sprung up about the location, remained in hiding nearby.

What transpired next was reported to me later, for after Antonius’s return to the covenant I flew down to the abbey to see if I could intercept the single survivor or detect any presence of this infernal spirit in the vicinity. Indeed, I flew over the riverbank where all these events had transpired, peering into the other world with my familiar’s eyes, but by then no sign of the infernal spirit could be seen. Finding no sign of Caelestis, I flew further up the river and took up watch on the approach to the Abbey. Early the following morning I espied the lone survivor of the escort group, and ensured that no tale would ever reach the Abbott’s ears. It seems that by the time I had taken position near the Abbey, Caelestis had already returned to the covenant and openly confessed to his crime before the rest of the concilium.

It seems that as Caelestis hid in a nearby copse of trees away from the scene; the infernal spirit approached him. It whispered threats, claiming it had Antonius prisoner, and offered Antonius’s safe return should Caelestis kill the remaining prisoner for it. At first, though scared, Caelestis appears to have listened to this spirit’s bargain; even suggesting that should the monk’s body also be destroyed that he might agree to the pact! However, in Caelestis’s words, in the end Antonius’s life was worth less than Caelestis’s soul; and Caelestis refused the bargain. At this point the spirit revealed itself, though in an illusory form I should guess, as a great, winged beast bearing cruel blades. It threatened to kill Caelestis should he not agree to the pact. It seems that this changed things for Caelestis; evidently Caelestis’s life is worth rather more to him than Antonius’s, and even his Oath! Cutting his finger with a knife, Caelestis swore a pact with the demon by letting a single drop of blood.

My hands are shaking as I write this; with emotions that I have rarely known. I have tried to write this account objectively – but you should understand that my record of these events is coloured by my disgust, anger, bitter disappointment in Caelestis, and pain that one of my sodales; someone whom I respected as both peer and covenant mate, should so readily and so selfishly defile his Oath, and prove his words of religious piety to be hypocrisy of the worst kind. Did he swear pact to save Antonius? A heinous crime still, but at least one with some shred of honour – No! To save his own worthless flesh, Caelestis swore a pact with this demon. The irony is ever more bitter given that the demon was lying about having Antonius, and probably using illusion to intimidate Caelestis. It makes me almost physically sick to think upon this betrayal of his sodales and the Order. That some should regard their Oath so lightly, and he a follower of Bonisagus! Were Caelestis not already languishing in a dungeon in Blackthorn awaiting the next tribunal where justice will be served; I would have personally taken satisfaction at the March called against him, and hoped that it would be my hand that took his life. Indeed, when the Tribunal makes its judgement, I shall request that I am nominated the hoplite that performs the execution. Caelestis has proven himself a craven coward, and a worthless fool. Severn Temple should not mourn his passing, but be grateful for the fact that he is now gone from our number.

I cannot write more on this matter, I keep breaking the nib of my quill.

Winter

I realise that this is the entry for the winter season, but I must first record some events from Autumn that I was too angry to relate. Petrus turned up at the covenant, severely late for the symposium by a combination of atrocious weather during the sea voyage and difficulty travelling during this time of civil war amongst the mundanes. He stayed only a short time before going on to Blackthorn. I don’t think he could believe his ears when we told him about Cae…. the Oath breaker, whose name I still cannot write calmly.

Mathus also turned up. It seems that Stephen’s victory in the South has been matched only by greater resistance in the North, where Scotland is now Henry’s ally. The Earl of Gloucester has died, leaving no male heir. It seems the Earl of Somerset will win Stephen’s affection by stripping the Dean and Gloucestershire of fighting men to aid the King in the North. Also the King of France makes trouble for England’s nominal King, claiming castles on the continent only recently given by Stephen to a kinsman. It appears though that no resistance was offered against France’s invasion.

Of Hermetic news; Edith has been captured and investigated by Serenia. It appears she has been found not guilty of any involvement with McGreine, but shall still have to answer for the thefts made against this covenant. Narwold are to be held in contempt of the Tribunal after failing to deliver a queen of vis within the time allowed. Ruaridh approached Mathus over the issue of this message to Edith, which may have prompted her flight. Despite handling the topic with sensitivity, Ruaridh appears to have caused Mathus some offence. It appears our Red Cap is peculiarly sensitive about his duties. After a discussion we also decided to lend some vis to Narwold. At the beginning of Winter Turold returned there with two rooks from the covenant, and made personal loan to them of another two rooks. These loans they have agreed to pay back by the Tribunal of 1143. Fulgaria, at least, has enough honour to ensure the debt is repaid.

Our council meeting decided our activities for this season. I shall continue to study from Aquam vis, so that in the future I may be better prepared if the Erechwydd decides to cause trouble for us again. Ruaridh will study from some personal vis. Antonius will develop a new spell which can disguise his voice; no doubt to prevent identifications like that made by the monk last season. Turold, as covenant service, will investigate the new magical item we purchased from Jordael. So long as we can be sure of its effects, it will be a valuable item at future council meetings.

Later in the season we were paid a visit by Edith who returned many of the items she stole from the covenant many years ago. Her reasons for leaving were explained; that she believed that her life was in peril from infernal agents. Indeed, she claims she was attacked more than once by demons after her escape. It seems clear that she received a warning about Darius, and fled rather than seek the aid of her sodales. We had a difficult discussion about whether or not we should punish her. In the end we decided that for punishment she must replace the vis she stole (some 15 pawns), and pay a fine of a further 15 pawns. In addition she must replace the potion of Demon’s Eternal Oblivion she used during her absence. If she fulfils this before the Tribunal, the covenant will drop the case against her.

The second question, whether or not to restore Edith’s good standing so that she might remain at the covenant, was more difficult. I had not met Edith before, but whilst she has a tough mind and a defiant spirit, I sensed that there would be a tension between us if she stayed. At one point during the council with Edith, Turold remonstrated with her over the issue of taking covenant defensive items. At this point Edith turned viciously on Turold, proclaiming him a hypocrite (amongst a rant of personal insults). Edith claims she left the covenant with its single greatest defence. When I queried this she revealed she was talking about Meredith, who apparently offered to go with her. I don’t really understand all this. It is clear that Turold and Edith have something of an unsettled argument, but the reasons for this animosity are utterly unclear to me. As it was, Edith was also in two minds about whether to resume residence here, and for myself that fact helped me decide what we should do. A vote was taken on restoring her good standing. Turold and myself voted against, and Edith abstained. With Ruaridh and Antonius the only votes for restoration, the status of her good standing remained unchanged. Edith, took the decision to leave the covenant and we accepted her resignation from the covenant charter. She left shortly afterwards.

The remainder of this season passed peacefully and without incident. When I decided to leave Rellatoni, to seek a covenant where more challenges might hone my skills and temper my will, little did I suspect what I was letting myself in for. At least now I appreciate more fully a quiet season of study, with no great dangers or trials to overcome.

Here ends my record of events, now shall I pass this journal to Ruaridh.
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