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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1147 AD


This is the first season whose history I have scribed in this journal and I hope that I shall see many more here, for I am optimistic that, despite all the previous troubles that have afflicted this covenant, it can move forth into a glorious summer. But I digress from my main task here, that of recording the actual history. All six magi assembled after the turn of the year to discuss the forthcoming season. It seems that Dionysus has interviews four of us thus far, Madoc, Aelfwin, Ruaridh and Theo. Ruaridh in particular appeared quite angered by the line of questioning that Dionysus took, wondering whether Holy Isle's Quaesitor was using the attack of the UnNamed house as an excuse to gather information for future actions against House Ex-Miscellania.

After some debate on this issue we moved on to decide our seasons activities for the season: Aelfwin would study the Creo books; Ruaridh to complete the spell he is developing; Madoc will journey to our allies at Blackthorn to learn a spell; Turold will investigate a personal magical item; I shall begin the construction a spell to project a ball of flame out to a distance of 100 yards; and, Theo will go out into the Dean on the covenant's business as his season's service.

So we all went about our business, but it the day had not ended ere Theo called a second council meeting, it appears that he mentioned to Dionysus that he needed to venture forth and could not perform the service that Dionysus had apparently asked of him earlier. Dionysus requested that the council release Theo from his service, there was some argument about what should be done but concerns about the consequences of refusing the Quaesitor's request led to a compromise under which Theo was allowed several days to help Dionysus before heading out into the mundane world. So, after a few days Theo was finally able to venture forth to investigate some of the contacts listed in Antonius's notes, all however was not to go well as things went badly wrong with the first of these contacts that he tried. It seems that with hindsight, perhaps unsurprisingly for a Tytalan, Antonius's dealings may have been more complex and shady than we imagined. Theo tried to talk to a cooper by the name of Martin in Mitcheldean and although he encountered some early difficulty, despite dropping the name of Anthony, what we believed to be Antonius's mundane guise, he was able to strike a deal. Next day he was accosted by a young lad who asked if he was looking for Anthony, theo naturally said yes and the boy offered to take him to speak with some friends of Anthony. Theo and the steward who was accompanying him were then led into the village's tavern where they were assaulted by three men, one of whom was the cooper, Martin, whom Theo had spoken to previously. Theo was beaten unconscious and robbed of over a hundred pennies and the steward, an elderly man, threatened with death should either of them return to Mitcheldean again. Luckily though, these brigands then departed without further violence and they were able to limp back to the covenant.

Obviously this assault on a magus was not something we could tolerate and so we assembled a small group to head down to Mitcheldean to retrieve the money and teach this thug a lesson. Castellan Jared decided that this was a mission that he could usefully come along on and so with our urban scout, Martin and one of the guard, a stout fellow named Albert, Theo and I set off. We encountered the first sign that the mission would not be straightforward when we entered the cooper's yard to confront Martin and discovered he was not the master of the yard. This fellow believed the lies of his employee over our protestation and threatened to call the knight if we did not depart. Not wishing to cause a scene we did so, but then we espied the lad who had led Theo into the ambush. Theo, whose visage was magically disguised called the boy over and into a side alley to try and get the names of Martin's accomplices from him. The lad tried to run but I grabbed his arm, unfortunately he then started to bawl. There was an unfortunate incident and I had to discipline Jared but then things really started to spiral out of control as a woman from a neighbouring house saw what was going on and ran for help. Before we knew what was going on, a hue and cry went up and we found the entire village raised against us shouting about witches and child-nappers much to our puzzlement. Clearly something had befallen this place before and our intervention could not have come at a worse time.

We tried to retreat but Jared could not move quickly and we were forced to back-up with him holding the mob at bay with his crossbow. Albert and I managed to get the gate open but it became apparent that running away was going to be impossible. Ducking behind the palllisade I conjured a sword and went to join Jared and Albert in holding off the peasant rabble that threatened us. At this time I noticed to my dismay that the knight of the village was riding down from his manor house towards us. After initially being held back by fear of Jared's bow it soon became clear that the mob were about to rush us. Fearing for our lives, with three of us facing several dozen furious men I cast Blade of Virulent Flame upon my newly conjured sword in the hope of keeping them at bay long enough for us to make our escape. However the mob had reached fever pitch and they surged forwards. To make a bad situation even worse it seems that in my haste to conjure my sword my magic must have gone awry and instead of a flaming steel sword I held a rapidly melting lead one. Several peasants were rushing towards me and then I knew that drastic measures were going to have to be taken if we were to escape this with our lives. I ran back out of the gate trying to buy myself enough time to get a spell off, but the peasants were not as slow as I would have hoped and it was only Theo's brave intervention which gave me sufficient time to summon forth a ball of flame. It was at this point that the knight rode out of the gate and saw us. I made a last attempt to parley with him to prevent more blood being shed but with a cry of "Demon!" he spurred his horse down the slope towards me. At the same time Theo was struck in the shoulder by an arrow from an archer by the village gates. I sent the ball of flame towards him and it struck his horse square on, sending the beast rearing up and back over, crushing him beneath it's body as it fell. I moved to put the horse out of its misery and as I did so noticed that the knight still lived, not wishing to leave any important witnesses behind I finished him as I had done his steed.

Having dispatched the knight, I then strode towards the village gate calling a fresh sword to my hand and setting flames about it to scare off any who might seek to challenge me. It seems that with the death of their lord the folk of the village needed no such encouragement and I saw them fleeing into the woods nearby. I was able eventually to force the gate but to no avail. The mob in its fury had beaten the Castellan and Albert to death. An ignoble end for two brave men, and had I espied any village folk at that point it would have gone ill for them indeed. As it was the village was deserted and somehow several thatched roofs were ablaze. I picked up Jared's body and bore it away from that cursed place, and back to a peaceful rest at the covenant. I would that I could have done the same for Albert but that alas was not possible. Once Theo and I had returned, what happened to Martin our scout I cannot say for I lost track of him sometime in the confusion, I made sure he went to the infirmary to have his wound treated and then I made my way to Ruaridh's sanctum to report the sorry tale and the possible breach of the code which I had committed. What will happen next I cannot say, to a certain extent it is out of my hands but this I will say, if I come across Martin the cooper or the person responsible for the missing children of Mitcheldean then they whose actions lie at the root of this unhappy tale will pay for it with their lives.

After I had informed Ruaridh of what had happened in Mitcheldean, a council was swiftly called to inform all the magi and discuss the situation. Thomas, the new castellan was summoned and informed of his promotion and the grim reason behind it. One of his first actions was to raise an issue concerning the low council, where as things stood, the two amici sitting on that body, Helene and Aledd, were treated as magi and thus could overrule the castellan and effectively render his role ineffectual. The council ruled that amici could not overrule that castellan and whilst they are entitled to the same protections as magi, do not have the same authority. Madoc and Aelfwin, the two magi with amici, were both content to agree to this solution, though Aelfwin did look a little apprehensive as he went to inform his wife of this decision.

Ruaridh agreed to fly to Blackthorn to warn them of the situation, lest any trouble spreads to include them, and to seek advice from Dialectica, who has some experience in dealing with mundanes. Upon his return, acting on her advice which Ruaridh relayed, Theo set forth for Monmouth to find out what was being said about the knight's death. Matters were moving quickly though, as a local knight, Justin of Coleford arrived at the gates of the covenant to collect the taxes and request the help of the "scholars" here in finding out more information about the fire sorceror who slew the knight. Ruaridh spoke with the man and promised that someone would travel down quickly to see the Baron of Monmouth. Ruaridh tried to find Theo in Monmouth, but it seems that that place has more taverns than could be searched in the few days that he had to spare and so Ruaridh went to see the Baron himself. After some consultation he promised to travel with Baron Martin to read what auguries he could in Mitcheldean. So dressed as one of the Baron's scribes, for this Baron did not want to be publically associated with any hint of magic (it seems our guise of scholars is not believed in many quarters), he travelled down to the village. Despite having been provided with some alchemical powders by Aelfwin and using some of old astrological charts belonging to the treacherous and diabolic Bonisagus who once resided here (whose continued freedom from justice makes my blood boil every time I read his name in this journal), the Baron was not fooled. Whilst he remained polite, Ruaridh is afeared that he may not be quite so friendly to us in the future. Still, the fault for this is ultimately mine not Ruaridh's and in any event he is a Quaesitor not an actor so cannot be expected to have any skills at pulling off such a charade.

Happily though in the council meeting that followed Ruaridh's return, we were able to make use of our combined wisdom and come up with a solution which appears to have resolved the problem. Ruaridh and Turold flew down to the woods near Mitcheldean and made up a camp as though several men had stayed there for a couple of nights. They took care to make sure there were tracks leading to and from the road and then Ruaridh conjured a corpse that looked like me that would last for a moon, more than enough time to allay any suspicion, and placed it in a bedroll near the campfire. With a crossbow taken from the armoury, Turold then shot the body in the back and they scattered belongings and the like about the camp as though the sorceror's mercenary guards had betrayed him and murdered him for his goods. The fire was left to burn itself out to a plume of smoke which would be visible from the village. The Baron took the bait and shortly after dawn set forth with a body of men to investigate. It seems he was satisfied with what he found, for the body was taken back to Gloucester and he received some monies in reward from the Earl.

Summer

Everyone had returned for the summer meeting, with more news from the mundane world hereabouts. Ruaridh said that Baron Martin had mentioned to him that the Knight of Skenfrith's wife was sick and wondered whether we might be able to help. Whilst of course this could help build favour, there was some concern that if this woman died then any magus who was trying to help might get the blame put on then. Aelfwin however thought this unlikely and he is to journey in the guise of Aelfwin of Blackney to see what aid he can proffer. Theo had also heard news, it seems that the famous historian Geoffrey of Monmouth has written an extensive treatise on the history of Britain. The council was very keen to make attempt to try and get an exemplar of this work as it would make a very valuable resource for the Order. Madoc took advantage of the fine weather to go off with his companions on another vis hunting expeditions on the council's behalf. Happily, his uncanny knack of finding vis did not let him down. When investigating the boar tide, a large wave which travels from the sea up the river, he found the crest of the wave contained a pawn of aquam vis. Ruaridh and Turold looked somewhat startled at this, for in the long history of this place, no one had thought to check this phenomenon. Rather than regard it as vis lost of the years though as I suspect Turold does, I believe we should be pleased that we have gained what I hope will be a fresh vis site.

Theo travelled again to Monmouth to meet Dialectica, who had kindly agreed to introduce him to her mundane contacts. As is to be expected from a Bonisagus of the Trianoman tradition, she is very knowledgeable about what is going on in the country and talked about the grave situation up in the North of the country. That most foul traitor Magreine may well be active yet and aiding the Scots forces who fight the English King's armies around York. My pater Garius has talked about heading up there in the hope of putting an end to he who has disgraced the office of Primus Ex Miscellania and I can only hope that he is successful in his hunt.

Autumn

Madoc had not yet returned from a foray into Mynydd Myrrdyn so our council was one short, though in truth there was nothing of great import to discuss in his absence. Aelfwin's glass working has gone well and he showed us one of the couple of dozen panes he has made. Even to my untrained eye, it does appear to be remarkably clear, 'prentice Clifford's sieve has obviously worked well.

A fortnight or so after the council as the first mists of autumn were settling down in the woods hereabouts the redcap Lauretius came bearing news. Of news mundane, the war between the Scots and the English has intensified, with the Scots pushing into Yorkshire. Consequently the English king is likely to send his forces there rather than to support some ally or other in France. Of news hermetic, the news from the Levant sounds grave. The tribunal is split and there is fighting there, with a number of wizard's wars, and even talk of a crusade. Nycestus of Verditius has been accused by Quaesitor Lorm of aggravating the situation, however, Primus Verditius has said that he will blacklist anyone casting further accusations against his house. On a more positive note, the troubles in House Tytalus have lessened a little, however, this has only been achieved through Primus Guernicus ruling that all wizard's wars must be approved by the Senior Quaesitori. My house has unsurprisingly objected to this additional restriction on the right to wage wizard's war and from what Lauretius said a Grand Tribunal may have to be convened to resolve it. The redcaps have also been to Moorstow at the request of House Tytalus, but could find no trace of Primus Tytalus there, the covenant being utterly deserted. In the absence of any information concerning his whereabouts, the Senior Quaesitor has declared him to be officially missing and Primus Guernicus has been asked to investigate the matter.

Soon after Lauretius departed, Madoc returned with news of his investigations in Mynydd Myrrdyn. Apparently five years had passed in the regio since our last visit there, though that was only last summer. The celt's village has been destroyed by the Merlin's brood, with the chieftain and the druid dead. Whilst any victory by these savage creatures is to be abhorred, at least the druid is no longer a source of concern for us. The survivors fled to the settlement surrounding our tower and they and the grogs that guard that place have become close. Although the brood are now seemingly more numerous than ever and more troublesome, the settlement has not been attacked thus far and Madoc saw no sign of them whilst he was there. The council discussed a possible hunt to cull these creatures and teach them to fear men once more. From all that I have heard tell of these brutes, I think that that violence is the only language they will understand. Madoc also told council how he had made it through the awakened forest without encountering the great bear that dwells there and had been able to harvest the intellego vis from the circle of standing stones that lies beyond it. Whatever esoteric knowledge he seeks, it is clearly of great help when it comes to collecting vis! One slight note of concern though, Madoc and his consortis reported that as they left the regio at the full moon the werewolves were watching them closely. I sense that our conflict with these devious creatures has a way yet to run. With his tale told, Madoc set off to return once more to the regio to continue his exploration in his own time.

Not long after Madoc had departed again, a couple of weeks before the autumnal equinox, one of the grogs saw a shadow moving where the graveyard used to be. He was attacked by it when he went bravely to investigate and briefly rendered unconcious. The alarm was raised and we set about hunting it down, however, it swiftly became apparent that whatever this shade was it was too powerful for our men-at-arms as a couple were rendered insensible and nearly slain by it. We gave the order for everyone to retreat to the great hall, where torches were set about all the entrances and windows to keep it out. Sadly though, one of the serving girls was caught and drained of life before we could get everyone to safety. Ruaridh thought that it was the same as the shadows that had emerged from the infernal alcove in the basement of the old keep so we went to the site where that place had stood. Boldly, Ruaridh went a little ways ahead to try and lure this thing into attacking him. The plan worked and the creature attempted to assail him, but his parma held firm and he was able to dispatch it back to hell with the 'Demon's Eternal Oblivion.' With the nature of the creature now horribly clear, Ruaridh opened up a pit in the earth some twenty feet or so deep to access the area where the alcove had once been. Although he could ascertain naught but a magical aura there with his magics, we decided that the ritual from Durenmar to suppress infernal auras should be cast once more. So, carrying the tome containing the ritual in his arms, Ruaridh floated down to cast the enchantment. I went down to join him in that dark pit to ward him lest something tried to interfere with the casting of the spell. The spell seemed to take forever to cast, more due to my pounding heart I suspect, rather than any tardiness on Ruaridh's part and I was mightily relieved when the ritual was completed and we were able to climb back up into the fresh air again. I am glad to say that since that was done no sign of any of these infernal shades has been seen since.

Winter

Madoc had not made it back in time for the Winter meeting and with the aegis needing to be cast, Ruaridh went to look for him as had been arranged. Unfortunately, Ruairdh could not find Madoc and was forced to return without him. He journeyed to the tower where he spoke to a guide who had taken Madoc through the forest once again. The guide said that Madoc and his companions had passed through the stone circle and had disappeared, curiously though this fellow did not seem too concerned at this for he said that they had done the same thing last time, though Madoc had not mentioned this at council. However, this time they did not return within the allotted time so the guide returned to the tower. The magical regio there is very deep and Ruaridh judged it wisest not to venture forward himself lest he be lost in the same way Madoc may be, so he returned to the covenant. As council meet, we decided that it would be best to wait for Madoc a little while longer before sending a rescue mission, for it could simply be the time dilatory effects of that regio that have caused his absence. Also he has Petrus's dagger with him, so if he is trapped he should be able to cut his way free. The matter of the pit and the possible infernal source at its bottom was long debated and in the end it was decided to build a stone building around the pit, but to use Aelfwin's glass panes to create a clear roof so that the sun can shine down into that dark hole. In time, we may also create enchantments to further ward that place. Aelfwin informed us that Helena has returned from Skenfrith as the knight's wife has died. In return for the relief she was able to bring the lady in her last months, the knight shown his good character by rewarding Helena with the sum of 50d. At Aelfwin's request we will use these monies to found an infirmary at Blackney. Ruaridh told council of the new Senior Quaesitor who he met while at Blackthorn. Magus Iannos is apparently a personable man, and coming from the Roman tribunal is well versed in the art of politics. Then as is traditional, we cast the aegis, though I confess it did seem a little strange without Madoc and his horse Arian following at the rear.

In the midst of a perishingly cold spell towards the end of the year, the cor who claims to owe allegiance to Ruaridh approached the covenant and told that magus about a minor demon which was sneaking round Blackney, seemingly looking for something. Ruaridh flew down at once and thankfully was able to slay it before it found whatever it was seeking. An emergency council meeting was called to discuss this happening. Was it the Fells reasserting their authority? In truth no one knew, for most of our intelligence on Guyere and the infernal cults in the surrounding area was gathered by Antonius and since his death, that foe has been neglected. This is an obvious source for concern, for we cannot afford to simply assume that whatever malign schemes they are hatching will not affect us. Indeed as magi, I feel that we have a duty to put an end to such villainy. It was suggested that Ruaridh might use the miner's mask to see if he could find what the devil was looking for, so he returned invisibly to the village and after some searching found a small iron figurine of some grotesque creature buried a foot or so deep behind one of the houses. It appears to be a bottle of some sort and Theo said that it seemed almost as it it were alive to his Sight. The decision was made to destroy this foul artifact and so it was placed outside one of the gates, a yard or so from the edge of the aegis. I clove the item in two with my sword and Ruaridh cast the Demon's Eternal Oblivion upon it as my blade connected. Theo said that as it broke in half hundreds of tiny demons flew out, not threatening spirits, merely the sort that can be seen on an evil man's grave on the witching hour, but a sure indication, if any were needed, of the figure's origins. A viscous black fluid flowed out of the broken figurine and began to seep into the soil. I tried to burn it away but the fluid merely caught fire and even grew a little. Ruaridh destroyed the contaminated soil and before any more could be corrupted I called forth a stream of water to wash away the taint. Theo could see no trace of any ill remaining after that and there were no further sightings in the remainder of the season, but this is I fear a reminder of the evil lurks out there in the world beyond these walls and seeks to destroy us if we are not vigilant. We should not be dispirited however, for we have survived another year and grown stronger, and as the year draws to an end, my confidence in the bright future of this place remains undimmed.
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