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Scribed by Ruaridh

Spring 1139 AD


It is fifteen long years since I last took up my quill to record the history Of Severn Temple Covenant within this august journal. In the time that has passed ‘twixt then and now, much has changed, both for me personally and for the covenant as a whole. As I look out across the covenant from the window of my sanctum, the significance of these changes becomes all the more apparent. The buildings within the covenant’s walls, the coven folk who make this place their home, even the weathered faces of my fellow Magi – all these things seem relatively unfamiliar. All that endures, seemingly unaffected by the passage of time, is the serenity of the aura and its source, the spring. Perhaps in years to come, when we Magi are naught but dust and bone, the spring will be all that remains of the covenant; how ironic it would be if the stewardship of this ancient pagan site were to be our one lasting achievement. Even if this is so, I fervently hope that, if in years to come legends draw travellers to this place, they do not hear a one-sided history of the covenant and its former inhabitants from the lips of Idris’ shade! No, that must not be allowed to happen, which makes this journal all the more important.

The season of Spring passed with few events of note. Turold reported at the first council meeting of the year that the bell purchased from Cad Gadu did indeed function as intended. We shall therefore use it to ensure that our council meetings, and indeed any other important discussions, are conducted in private. Other than this, there is little else to record, for the Magi were all occupied with their studies, save Antonius, who spent his time travelling in Mundane circles.

Summer


At the council meeting that began the season, Antonius reported the information he had gathered during Spring. It seems the Earl of Somerset has called a general muster, requiring each noble in this area to raise troops and travel north to fight for King Henry. The likely result of this will be that the garrisons of the towns and villages in the Dean will be stripped almost totally of their defenders, leaving them vulnerable to an attack from the Welsh. The new knight at Lydney, a relation of the new Baron of Monmouth, I believe, has asked us to lend the covenant’s aid should the village be attacked in his absence. This we shall endeavour to do, for Lydney has proved to be a valuable ally in recent times. Antonius also reported that he had uncovered a small band of fells operating in Southampton, though he knew not whether they were linked to the diabolic coven in Gloucester.

A few days before Audacia was due to travel north to Blackridge covenant for the meeting of House Flambeau, we were both troubled by a strange keening noise in our ears. Antonius was absent and Turold unaffected, a fact that I originally put down to his subterranean quarters but now suspect meant he was not supposed to receive the warning the noise heralded. The noise did not go away even when I blocked my ears, and, as Audacia and I debated what it could mean, a violent storm began to gather around the covenant. The winds soon rose to tremendous levels, forcing us to cling on to the walls to avoid be blown away, while heavy rain soaked us to the skin. The storm was clearly of supernatural origin, so we carefully made our way to the spring, guessing perhaps that this place was the centre of the storm’s wrath. Indeed, when we ventured out of the covenant to look at the pool, we saw that the water was blood red in colour, staining the ground as it bubbled forth. At that moment, there was a great crash of lightning and, for the briefest of moments, we both saw the image of a dark woman, dressed for battle and bearing cruel weapons. This was surely the Morrigan, indicating that war was about to engulf the land. We hurried inside, bolting the doors against the rain.

Audacia then left for Blackridge. A few nights later, a grog summoned Turold and I to the gate tower, from where we spied vicious yellow eyes glinting at the edge of the forest. From the safety of the tower, we called across to the spring, where we guessed the Ruadan was lurking. We were correct, and the old crone stepped out from the shadows to parley. We were alert for tricks, since the Ruadan had tried to slay us both on more than one occasion, but it seemed she needed my aid and was willing to put aside old animosities for the moment. She told us that the plans of her mistress, the Morrigan, for war were being interfered with by a supernatural force, and she wanted the power of destruction that flows within my veins to help her thwart this attack. I considered for a few moments and then agreed, for I am conscious of the debts I still owe for my escape from the prison in Mynydd Myrvyn.

Striking a bargain for safe passage with the Ruadan, I left for the Morrigan’s stone, deep within the heart of the faerie regio. There upon the black stone, I did spill much of my blood, losing consciousness as my veins emptied. I awoke back at the covenant, the Ruadan having fulfilled her part of the bargain. A few days later Antonius arrived back from his travels, and I have the dim recollection of him bowing and thanking me as I lay on my sickbed. I cannot fathom why; perhaps it was a dream.

Later in the season, when I had recovered my strength, we received news that Lydney was under attack from a band of Welsh marauders. Turold and I flew down to Lydney, while a party of grogs marched as quickly as possible to Blackney. Alas, we were unable to save Lydney, for the Welsh had broken through the village wall and were torching the place. Few if any villagers escaped the slaughter. A few days later, the Welsh attacked Blackney, but they were driven off by a black shadow that sent them mad with fear. This, we suppose, was the Morrigan repaying my earlier aid.

Autumn

Shortly after the start of the season, we were visited by a new redcap, Loretius, a former apprentice of Gyriania, who brought us news of events in the mundane world. As the army raised by the Earl of Somerset moved north to fight for King Stephen, the Welsh took advantage of the absence of English forces to spill forth from their mountain homes and besiege Monmouth. The castle there still holds, though it will need a large army to relieve the siege. The Archbishop of Hereford has sent some of his forces south to defend Gloucester, and his standard now flies above the city. The war in the north goes ill for Stephen, with reports that he has suffered heavy casualties in battles on the Scots border. It also seems that Henry has taken York through some skulduggery, and Stephen lacks the funds to ransom his captured relatives. There are rumours that the King intends to strike a truce with the Scots, though any peace treaty may prove costly for the English. Stephen’s troubles are not limited to this land, though, as his attempted sale of two castles to the King of France has gone badly, with the fortresses lost but as yet no money received.

Loretius also brought us news of Hermetic affairs. The meeting of House Flambeau in summer ended with a pledge by the Primus to redirect the House’s main efforts to the struggle with the Moorish sorcerers in Iberia. The hunt for McGreine has been accorded a lower priority; what this means for my House, I cannot yet say. Elsewhere, following our loan of two rooks of vis, Narwold covenant has paid its fine to Praeca Eloria, though it missed the appointed deadline by two years. Hopefully, this will placate Eloria, but I cannot help but think that she will let the argument end here. Finally, House Verditius has announced that its next meeting will be held at Verdi covenant in summer 1140 AD, so we will likely be without Turold for most of the year.

Later in the season, I travelled north to visit Blackthorn and interrogate Caelestis about his betrayal of the Order. The interview did not go well, as Caelestis refused to accept any blame for his actions, arguing instead that he had been forced to make the deal with the demon to save himself. I believe he intends to argue at the Tribunal that his immense fear of all things infernal meant he was not in control of his mind or his actions, and that he should therefore be forgiven for transgressing the Code. I fear he does not realise that his pleas will almost certainly fall on deaf ears. I cannot for a moment believe that his arguments will succeed, and, in truth, I fear that his testimony may cause problems for Severn Temple if he insists on casting around for others to blame.

Winter

Antonius brought us news of disturbing events in the covenant at the end of last season that I confess had passed me by. One of the dogs kept by the grogs fell ill with a fever, losing its mind and attempting to bite any who came close. One of the grogs received an otherwise innocuous bite on his hand, and he in turn fell under a dark spell, losing all reason and lashing out at his former comrades. Much mayhem ensued, and potential disaster was only avoided through the forthright action of Jared. Last season also saw the return of the grog Gwynon, who had deserted Antonius when he and Caelestis were assailed by the demon last year. Gwynon claimed that he had been away for but a day, which indicates some form of magical interference. Antonius had him hung for his betrayal.

Audacia reported that the work on re-establishing the iron mine near Blackney had gone well, and the mine is expected to start producing ore shortly. It may take some time for production to return to its former level, but we should still be grateful that the interruption has been of such short duration.

Towards the end of the season, an ill wind blew over the covenant, and we were visited by a debilitating illness. Through judicious use of the healing wand and the talents of our chirurgeons we were able to save the lives of most of the covenfolk, but there were still five deaths among the grogs. Several of the Magi also succumbed to the illness, though we were able to banish the fever through the use of healing magic. Nevertheless, it was a sour note on which to end the year, and I feel strangely subdued as we enter a new decade.
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