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Scribed by Aelfwin

Spring 1153 AD


This is my first duty as scribe since Severn Temple took on new magi, a new charter and a Pontifex; and much has changed since I last wrote here. Only eight years ago I reported that the magi Audacia and Antonius had been slain and reported the arrival of Theo and Astrius from Cad Gadu. During the intervening time this covenant has lost Quaesitor Ruaridh, the last of the refounders of this Covenant, magus Turold and magus Madoc; all under dark circumstances of betrayal. We now have a council made up of very different characters to then; and in many ways we are still strangers to one another. Having briefly reached Summer, the covenant is firmly returned to Spring. The shadow of the Morrigan over the Covenant brought us conflict and deaths, in which I moved from being the youngest magus to longest resident; yet, the Covenant survives and with that brings the hope that we may rebuild here that which was taken by the Morrigan.

Well, the years between my last record of events and now may have seemed short; but they would soon begin to take their toll with the approach of old age. Thus, I made request of the seven pawns of vim to which I was entitled and announced my intention to travel to Lear Valley this season to work with my pater, Erin, on my longevity potion. Whilst on the subject it seems Medius is close to a similar age, as next year he shall need to make a similar claim from the Pontifex.

There was other news; Tiarnan and Cormoran's defence of the Palug's glade. They had made battle against some of the Erechwydd's goblins and nearly had a run in with one of her giants. Fortunately, Ferret, the Cor-blooded scout, was able to lead the giant away and Palug's glamours hide the glade and also Ferret's tracks. We discussed some ideas for trade with the Spring Covenant, Trevalga. I hear there are two Tremere at this new covenant! How many Tremere is that now in Stonehenge? Anyway, we meed to trade for a Ring of Warding against Spirits, if we can, so we can look to harvesting the Mentem vis from some nearby barrows. A spell to Coerce the Spirits of the Night would also be a valued addition to our library. In addition, trades for vim vis look advisable at this time as it looks like there will be heavy demand over the coming years.

It is an interesting change in Severn Temple that the presence of a Pontifex has led to more advance planning of Covenant services over the year. Dialectica, mindful of necessary commitments and the need to save a queen of vis to buy the Heart of the Forest from Eloria, set covenant services for herself, Astrius, myself and Medius to extract vim vis from the aura over each season of the coming year. She also set Cormoran the task of overseeing the demolition of the old abandoned houses in Blacknee in preparation for some rebuilding. It seems that, despite protests from Astrius and myself, she fully intends on re-establishing the mining operations there despite the risk from Lydney. She has been clever about it, creeping her plans forward one less-controversial step at a time; but, at some stage she'll want to send women and children down there. She also decided to set Medius the task of travelling down to Trevalga covenant and Tiarnan to vis hunting in the faerie regio for the Summer. It is worth noting, as evidence of our Covenant's change in character since I last wrote, that we are increasingly 'informed' of these services rather than helping to choose them.

At the end of the meeting, Dialectica revealed that she had commissioned some new maps from Laretius the redcap of Blackthorn. Based on some of the Archimaga's maps for Blackthorn's library, Laretius had arranged for one of their scribes to make copies of a map of our local area and a new map of the Tribunal.

My journey to Lear Valley was long, but uneventful. It was great to see my old pater again. Erin has settled in well in his new covenant, which has such an informal atmosphere and good-humoured covenfolk. There were two feasts over the course of the season at which many of the magi attended. The maga Edith asked me some very searching questions about Severn Temple, which I answered politely and factually. She appeared very interested in Dialectica's new role and also the character of our new Quaesitor. I spoke to Raeriana about our problem with the werewolves in the North, but in truth she wasn't very sympathetic. In the end she said she'd speak to her filius, Hirsutus, and ask him to look into the matter. Over the season I tried several times to speak to her again on this matter and each time I was rebuffed. In the end I spoke with this Hisutus, who often wears the form of a wolf around the covenant. Frankly, he was as unhelpful as his mater, but did agree to come to the Dean and investigate for us. I also took the opportunity to chat to the Jolyon, the Archimagus of House Ex-Miscellanea. He seemed most concerned about the events surrounding Ruaridh's death and warned that his loss might bode ill for our House over the coming years. We also talked about the new, old Primus, Llandoddwyn; though Jolyon was quite guarded about him. All this left me feeling quite depressed, I must admit, though some of this was undoubtedly due to me missing Helene and the kids so far away.

However, by the end of the season, Erin was able to make a robust potion to stave off old age for many, many years. He's also agreed to help with Helene's potion in a few years time and to teach me of his magical researches into potions of longevity. It was heartening to see him, but though I was a little sad to be leaving him at the end of the season my heart was lifted at the thought of seeing my family soon. My journey South was blessedly free of adventure and our passage along the Severn was swift in the direction of the current. It was wonderful to be home again and once more in the loving arms of my family.

Summer


I joined my sodales for the Summer council to hear something of the news from the previous season. It seems that Theo had managed to recruit two more miners and a potential shield grog, Conrad. This man appears to be haunted by a dead priest, by Theo's account, though this ghost shouldn't be able to get into the Aegis. It seems Coleford is pressing a mining concern at the Clearwell Hill; though the vis site that was once there is long since lost. It may be possible to recruit more miners from there or Monmouth, and perhaps even a mining engineer. In addition, there are apparently quite a few small groups of 'freeminers' who work concerns within the Dean. It seems there is some Crown stipulation that allows freemen to mine the Dean without having to buy the land or pay taxes upon such holdings. Theo was hopeful that some of these freeminers might be approached to work at Blacknee. In truth, I was less happy to hear this news for surely it means that Dialectica will press for the habitation of Blackney sooner rather than later.

In other news, Theo related that the Archbishop of Hereford has instructed his aide, the Bishop Clifford, to undertake an investigation into reports of the Welsh Warlock who 'haunts' the Dean. This is most probably related to the unfortunate events last year, where Theo and Astrius were forced to defend themselves against a mundane force led by the diabolist Yvonne. Still, any investigation will cause trouble for us. Dialectica knew of this aide and described him as a worldly and ambitious man, who might conduct witch trials and could even learn of our Covenant. Given the status of the man our ability to act against him is limited.

The situation is not helped by two further pieces of news. Astrius reported having tracked a group of twelve armed men across the South of the Dean. It appears that they had carried out an attack on Tintern Abbey, slaying three of the monks there. However, rather than take any of the relics or silver from the Abbey, they took only books. These books appeared to be histories, including the recent celebrated work of Bishop Geoffrey of Monmouth. Astrius had seen these armed men board a coastal barge off to the South of Lydney. Given the unusual nature of the crime the motives were not clear; though suspicion that the Fells might be involved was voiced. There was some concern that this might be blamed on the 'Scholars' of the Briavel Hill. To add to our problems there were also reports that a host of 'devils' had been espied by the monks of Huntley Wold Priory. Theo suggested that these 'devils' were more likely to be werewolves, given the full moon of their passing; though they are a long way from their territory near Mynnyd Myrddyn. Another puzzle, and unfortunately one that might add to the cause of the investigation by the Archbishop's aide. Dialectica decided that her and Theo would travel up to Hereford and see what could be learnt about this Bishop Clifford or ascribe what motives had prompted this investigation.

As the council started to discuss other news, Medius raised a charge of Delictum against Cormoran. It seems that the familiar to the magus Quellior had contacted the giant, and bidden him to Chepstow to pay one of the seasons owed since Tiarnan's rescue. Cormoran had asked Theo to bear message to the Covenant and made his way directly to Chepstow. There he met Quellior and together they travelled by ship and over land to the Pennines. From my time at Scarfell, and when I was in hiding with Erin and Blodwyn during the purge of Ex-Miscellanea, I know that the length of Pennines are filled with wild and dangerous places. There are many magical beasts and faerie forests among the high peaks, and it seems that Quellior wanted Cormoran to visit a fae giant who lived there. It appears that this giant, named Gilla Stagshanks, had taken something of Quellior's, which Cormoran had to try and return. It seems that Cormoran talked with the giant, but was unable to persuade him to return Quellior's goods (a small black leather pouch), so he returned to the Gilla's house when the giant was away and broke into the chest containing the pouch using an iron horseshoe. With the goods retrieved, and pursued by the giant, Cormoran made good is escape by floating down one of the mountain streams.

Anyway, it appears that under the terms of the charter Cormoran might have been obliged to speak to the Pontifex herself about changing his season's service (as this season was still counted). Medius felt this was a wilful neglect of duty and thus made the charge of Delictum. Personally, I thought this was a bit petty, but Dialectia handled it swiftly. She gave both Medius and Cormoran a chance to put their sides of the argument, then moved to a vote on the charge. Only Medius voted in support of Delictum, everyone else voted against; even Tiarnan.

It seems that Astrius had taken over the work of clearing the compound last season, and Cormoran was tasked this season to begin the rebuilding as a second covenant task. With Tiarnan and Medius also away this would leave only Astrius and myself in the covenant.

Dialectica left immediately for Hereford, but the others took a few days to organise their trips. During this time, Theo visited the Heart of the Forest to speak with the Anu regarding what proportion of the vis collected there the covenant might be allowed to keep. Of course, being a vis site registered to Blackthorn (after Madoc's treachery and Eloria's double dealing), none of us expected Theo to return with fourteen pawns of vim vis! At an emergency council, called by Theo himself in the stead of the Pontifex, Theo revealed his crime. Cormoran, somewhat naively given the Quaesitor's presence, suggested we try and deal with this within the Covenant. But, it was clear that Medius would have to report this if we tried to conspire to either keep the vis or return it and keep quiet. Theo honestly appears to have forgotten, despite all our discussions about the site. As a breach of the peripheral code, Blackthorn would be within their rights to bring this to Tribunal. Given that Eloria is Pontifex of Blackthorn and Praeca of the Tribunal; this could only mean grave trouble for poor Theo.

However, he had taken the vis because the Anu had decided to set each of the magi a test. Two pawns were intended for each magus, who could choose to keep the vis or offer it back to the Anu by planting it in the forest. Concerned we might fail this test by either returning the vis to the forest or giving it to Eloria, we determined the safest course of action was to place the fourteen pawns in covenant stores and take the vim vis we already possessed (also exactly fourteen pawns) to Blackthorn. With heavy heart, Theo travelled up with Cormoran to Blackthorn. With Medius and Tiarnan leaving over the next couple of days it left Astrius and I alone to consider the dilemma. One night Astrius and I talked long into the early hours about the problem, and I had more than my fill of heady ale. My recollection of the conversation is a bit hazy; and that is perhaps somewhat fortunate as I recall my offering some fairly radical views!

Cormoran returned to tell us that things had turned out far better than we could have hoped. It appears that Eloria had not registered the vis site to Blackthorn but to herself personally, and the Senior Quaesitor Serenia was most angered by this. Perhaps to teach Eloria a lesson the Quaesitor claimed the site for Blackthorn (under that covenant's charter), then acting as Pontifex in Eloria's absence sold the vis site to Severn Temple for a mere rook of vis. She also waived any claim to the vis that Theo had taken from the site! Glad to know we still have some friends in Blackthorn! This unexpected news eased our hearts tremendously, though I don't envy Theo having to tell Dialectica about his little mistake.

Much to my surprise, Hirsutus did not make an appearance at the Covenant during the season. I wondered whether he had been delayed or would make the journey in Autumn. However, we saw no sign of him during the course of the season, and the Summer progressed quietly until my Sodales returned over the course of the last couple of weeks.

Autumn

I eagerly made my way to the council chamber on the first morning of Autumn, to hear the news from last season's journeys, but especially to find out what Dialectica intended to do with the acorns that Theo had obtained in Summer.

The situation regarding this investigation is on a knife-edge, it seems. Possibly prompted by Yvonne herself, who was investigated for witchcraft by this Bishop Clifford and found innocent of all charge, this investigation has received objections from the Baron of Monmouth; who made his own investigations and determined the Warlock to be dead. This argument has now been referred to the Earl, who has been away at war in the North. When he returns it appears he will have a choice whether to support his man, Martin of Monmouth or honour the Archbishop's request. Dialectica believes that the Earl and the Baron are close friends from way back, so there is a hope that the Earl will rebuff this request from Hereford. The Earl returns sometime this season, so I guess we'll discover soon whether there's likely to be trouble for the covenant.

Also, it seems that Theo was able to sell on the glassware I'd created last year for a good price (310d). The merchant, Bartholomew, is keen to obtain more stained glass, though we might make better profit with some of the large, clear panes. Dialectica asked me to make some more for the covenant over Winter, to which I agreed (though would I have had a choice if I'd objected?). I would have hoped this additional income would have eased the determination she has for resettling Blackney, though increasingly I think it a vain hope.

Tiarnan reported recovering the Imagonem vis and that the shallower part of the regio is fairly free of the Erechwydd's faeries. He also related having followed a stream deeper into the regio. At it's source he discovered a deep pool of still, dark water. He has an item that lets him talk to bodies of water and used this to communicate with the pool. It seems the pool is sacred to something called the Nechtan and can grant a vision in response to a question about the past, present or future (though there is an unspecified 'price' for knowledge of the future). Tiarnan, perhaps wisely, decided not to ask a question there and then, and was allowed instead to take a draught of the water away with him. This liquid appears 'solid' in the 'Otherworld' according to Theo, and has a presence of faerie magic about it according to Tiarnan. Cormoran discovered that the water contains five pawns of Intellego vis. Cormoran attempted to start a discussion about things we could ask, though Dialectica determined to store the water for now.

Medius related his journey to Carrion Moor and Trevalga Covenants. It seems that De Camp and Kira are willing to exchange some intelligence on the Fells with us; which might help us determine the extent and motives of this diabolical power. To that end he will scribe some of our recent knowledge about them to co-ordinate through Laretius. Most notably it seems that Carrion Moor recently lost of their Southampton contacts, the assistant dockmaster. He was found murdered after making enquiries about a ship called the 'Red Boar' registered in Bristol. This ship has the motif of a boar upon the prow, which hopefully will make it fairly easy to identify in future. Carrion Moor are also willing to exchange texts on Faerie lore for some of our texts on the Occult. They also have a Ward against Spirits of the 4th Magnitude and a copy of Incantation of Lightning that we may exchange with them for some spells of our own. Carrion Moor also have a new magus, Arcanus, a Criamon under appears to be under the delusion that Madoc was a 'guiding light' of his House rather than a two-faced, treacherous, lying pig. He enquired whether we had any of Madoc's notes. I don't think we have and given what Madoc, whom I once called my friend, has done; I'd prefer to see such notes burnt so that no memory or mark of him remains to poison others.

Trevalga Covenant is still in the early years of its foundation and have many needs. The most pressing is contacts within the mundane world, especially merchants dealing in foodstuffs. They are keen to obtain glasswear for their laboratories and some iron bars for their weaponsmith, the Verditus Ildanach. They are willing to exchange 14 pawns of Creo for Vim, as they have little supply for healing spells; though they are also keen to obtain Rego and Mentem in the future. They may also offer some Animal vis, which may be useful given that Tiarnan and Dialectica appear moving towards looking for familiars and desirous to improve their skill in that art.

Finally, the question arose of what Dialectica intends to do with the acorns from the Heart of the Forest. To the council's approval (and I believe all approved, even Medius and Tiarnan) she decided to grant each of us two pawns and let us each decide for ourselves whether we wished to keep it or return it to the forest. I planted mine on each side of Blacknee's river gate. I hope the Anu will watch over and protect the villagers that I have no doubt will be sent there soon. I believe Theo planted his near the Magical Spring and that Astrius planted his somewhere along the road between Lydney and the Covenant. Tiarnan, much to my surprise, planted both of his somewhere down by the river. I believe Cormoran and Dialectica both planted one acorn and kept the other. Medius, to no one's surprise, kept both of his.

During the course of our long discussions about the Nechtan and the Anu, we asked Theo about some of the Pagan Lore he's been studying for several years now. He related to us several tales of strange (and rather unlikely sounding) gods and goddesses. Among these he talked a lot about the Morrigan, who appears to have many names and many guises, and mentioned that when he and Astrius had exhumed some of the bodies from Lydney (in the Winter of 1150) he had asked the Morrigan to help their spirits 'cross over' to the 'Otherworld' and find peace. It seems that Astrius was unaware of this and that Theo had forgotten that he'd done this somewhat secretly. They had a bit of an argument about this, with Theo saying he'd kept it from Astrius because he's known how the Flambeau would have reacted. Astrius was not happy about this and at the end of the meeting was evidently still a bit angry with Theo.

During the meeting I was looking for signs whether Dialectia was very angry with Theo. She did tease him about it once or twice, though I sense she was genuinely sharing a joke rather than because she was angry. It seems my worries that we might lose Theo as Ministrator were unwarranted. They seem to get on better than ever after their season co-ordinating over the affairs in the Dean; indeed, I think I espy some fondness in her for our 'forgetful' bard!

Laretius attended our council later in the season and informed us of some of the news around the shire. Given that Dialectica and Theo had been abroad most of the year we had already heard much of the local events. He'd been working with Dialectica up in Hereford and was able to give us some further small details about the events there. It certainly appears that this Bishop Clifford, if not tainted himself, is possibly under the sway of this Yvonne. Unfortunately, the Archbishop is a weak man and relies on his aide to carry out much of his duties. The Earl is expected later in the season. Theo had already arranged for one of Maelgwyn's men to contact us when a decision was known, though what Theo might have to do for this dangerous criminal in return we do not yet know. It seems the English King, having shored up his alliances on the continent has been able to score victories against the Scots and even capture some of their leading nobles. These men have been dragged to London where they were publicly executed; so these mundane lords behave with any that cross them!

Of Hermetic news; it seems that House Verditus has met and the magi of Stonehenge have done respectfully well. I suspect that Moravius must not have been focussed on this competition as I recall Turold being very busy in the years preceding a House meeting, and certainly not taking commissions. We received a letter from Archimaga Crathia of House Verditus, who had apparently received letter from Turold offering Corlear's notes, but had recently discovered his death. She made offer of a queen of vis and three seasons of her time enchanting items for us. I think we'd rather keep the notes, for apparently they are copious and would advance our understanding of the theory of magic tremendously. There is news that McGreine may be dead or passed into final twilight, as his forces have begun to fight amongst themselves and some of the mundane soldiers captured by the Flambeau last year believe that he is no longer leading the disparate clans. However, it appears this has come too late for Borri-Tor. That Covenant lies in ruins with Pontus moved to Solis Castle and Veneia to Scarfell for the time being. It will need the Tribunal to decide whether to invest funds to re-found the place; or declare the Covenant lost. Jareth of Solis Castle is looking for some Malachite, enough to make a dagger. I use Malachite in some of my glass dyes, for it possesses a rich green hue that may be transferred to the glass. However, I have only a few grains of it and would not know where to find such a large quantity of this uncommon substance.

We also, belatedly, hear from Hirsutus. He apparently ventured down to the Dean in Summer and found the werewolves in the North of our Forest. He has spoken to them and discovered that they are outcasts from the pack at Mynnyd Myrddyn and have found a home and 'good hunting' in our area. They have apparently agreed not to attack any magi of our Covenant if we don't attack them. Though whether they can recognise a magus with the gentle gift, or what this means for the local people, I do not know! Dialectica, for one, appeared most dissatisfied with this and Astrius spoke out passionately that we could not trust these inherently treacherous creatures. Still, it seems we shall no support from Lear Valley in this and that is most disappointing.

Later, Theo returned to the Heart of the Forest to talk to the Anu. He took Astrius with him ... perhaps as an apology for not being honest with him about his activities in Lydney. They returned a few days later with the news that the Anu would grant us acorns in future and that those who had buried the acorns would receive her blessing. I also found out that Theo had asked the Anu to help Astrius, and that at the next Spring Equinox Astrius might find some healing for the wounds inflicted by the Morrigan. It looks like they have made up from the argument they had at the council and I'm glad. It would be a cruel blow if the Morrigan managed to rob them of their friendship the way she robbed us of so many magi here over the years.

Winter

Our meeting of Winter relayed some news from last season. It appears Maelgwyn honoured his word and sent news from the court of Gloucester. The Earl has backed his man in Monmouth and denied his support for Bishop Clifford's investigation of the Dean. Dialectica was evidently relieved about this, as we all were. According to her, this means it will be difficult for Clifford to investigate as he shall have no secular mandate to force nobles to testify and no troops from Gloucester or Monmouth. We shall have to hope that no further strange events raise the suspicions of the Church and that the werewolves now inhabiting our forest make no moves against the people along the North road.

Speaking of the werewolves, there was anger at council at how we had been treated by Hirsutus and no satisfaction with the 'deal' he had arranged. Dialectica has decided to use Covenant resources to commission a ward against such fantastic beasts and asked Cormoran to make travel to Blackthorn so we could ask Moravius whether he'd make such a device.

Given we're all out of Animal vis, given Tiarnan's focus on improving this art so he may bind a familiar, Dialectica also decided to trade some vis for Animal from Trevalga. We've offered them some Imagonem or Herbam vis, and hope they will agree given the contacts we have provided for them in Chepstow.

It seems that Tiarnan and Theo spoke to the Lladra, the strange spirit who appears at our Spring, last season. She apparently told them that the Nectan water will indeed grant a vision ... or answer to a question; though asking about the future carried the risk that one's 'destiny would be altered'. I confess I don't really understand much of this pagan philosophy, but Tiarnan and Theo appeared more convinced. Dialectica agreed with them and determined that the water found by Tiarnan would remain in its present form and not be broken down into Intellego vis.

I continued work this season on making glassware for the Covenant to sell. My skills in this area have improved to the extent where routine works can be passed on to my young apprentice glassmaker, Robert. He is still young and his skills unrefined, but he has a good eye and also an intuition for Alchemy. In time he'll be able to take over much of the work for the mundane markets, whilst I shall perhaps be able to focus more on specialist items for our laboratories.

The season was quiet and the cold months passed swiftly. Whatever blessing from the Anu awaits us in Spring, the greatest gift she could grant me is such peace; to spend with my family and my work. Still, it heartens me to think on the trees that we have planted in her name. I earnestly hope that the Anu may keep the shadow of that war-hag from our fair Covenant. With the hope that this may long continue, so ends my time with the Journal.
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