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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1154 AD


If the record of the past few years is anything to go by, then alas, for it seems that much of what has been recorded in this journal may be a distorted version of the truth. While it is natural for a writer to impart something of his perceptions and his personality in his record, whether consciously or not, it seems that some go beyond that and seek to portray events as they would have them perceived rather than as they occurred. I shall endeavour not to dishonour the founders of this covenant by falling into such poor habits and will attempt to keep opinion and fact separate. Of course anyone reading this many years from hence will have to exercise their own judgement as to whether it is I who is being dishonest here, but I am hopeful that the truth will make itself clear.

But enough ponderings and on with the journal, the year began with the council, or at least most of its members, in fine humour. Our decision concerning the acorns from the Heart of the Forest had borne fruit and all of us, save Medius who kept both of his acorns, were blessed by the Anu. For myself, I had a vision of a hound, who has been promised to me as a future familiar so long as I keep faith with the Anu and continue to plant the acorns. A rare gift indeed, though in truth I was a little troubled about the apparent condition placed upon such a gift. Can I truly bond with a familiar if it can be taken away at the whim of this pagan spirit? The others were also well blessed, even those who had planted only one acorn. Cormoran is now able to cast healing magics on other people without his usual difficulties in extending his art beyond himself. Aelfwin was also gifted with a boon to his healing talents and reported that he awoke with a better intuitive understanding of his natural aptitude for curing the sick and wounded. Tiarnan, who saw an image of a silver gate to Arcadia, now claims to have become closer to those of his fey bloodline, water fey of some sort I would imagine. Theo�s dream, perhaps unsurprisingly, was the most intriguing of all. In it he was telling a story before an old king and his nobles, and prophesying that the king would be betrayed by his son. It seemed like an alarming dream to me, but Theo seemed content with the beneficial effect that this had had on his bardic abilities. Lastly, but by no means least, Pontifex Dialectica reported that she believed her ability to intuit the secret workings of men's hearts had been enhanced.

After we had discussed the gifts the Anu had bestowed upon us, the Pontifex made gift of vis, in accord with the Charter, based on the number of seasons service we had given the covenant over the last two years. Everyone received a pawn of aquam and a pawn of ignem for two seasons service, and Dialectica, myself, Theo, Aelfwin and Cormoran each received a further pawn of imagonem for the third season we had served.

The next issue raised had been something of a bone of contention between us, the matter of refounding Blackney. In the end though, the concerns of Aelfwin and I were placated by a promise of a ninth magnitude aegis which will be set about the village, presumably until the threat from Lydney is eased, though this was not decided, which left me with some slight misgivings. To be fair to the Pontifex however, the village will be well protected. We have sent a squad of six men, under the command of a slightly disgruntled Captain Tarbut, to protect the six miners and eight covenfolk who will set about bringing the village back to life. More importantly, Cormoran was made Magnus Ex Parte with responsibility for Blackney which reassured me greatly, for I fear the folk of Blackney will need such a stout-hearted and strong protector before we can rid Lydney of the cancer that festers there. Medius, a stickler for the rules as ever, reminded him that he was required by the Charter to clear any significant actions with council. As well as staying there during Spring, Cormoran will also overwinter there for that is in all probability the most dangerous time, when the nights are longest. There was naturally some concern about our supplies of vim vis, given that we would be maintaining two aegi so I was set to extract vim vis for the covenant in the Spring and Aelfwin in the Summer. This was deemed sufficient for the immediate future at least, so after some discussion about what others would be doing the council meeting closed.

The sharp-eyed reader may at this point notice a slight change in my writing. Lest my initial statement about deceptions still rings in your mind, let me assure you that this change is not due to an imperfect forgery of my handwriting! The real reason is that the curse set upon me by the Morrigan during those fateful events in Blackthorn has been lifted and I have lost the tremor that has afflicted me for these past six years. Theo had been told by the Anu last time they spoke that I should go to the Spring at the height of the equinox and drink from the waters there if I wished to be restored. I must confess that I was torn 'twixt fear and anticipation as I did so. Although I do believe the Anu is benign, a part of me remained suspicious of the true motives of this pagan god. Yet such doubts as to her nature disappeared along with the curse. As I gulped down the ice cold water, I felt a surge of vitality course through me and as I watched the skin on the back of my hand became smooth and unblemished once more and the slight palsy that had afflicted me vanished. A glance in a mirror soon after confirmed what Theo could see, the years that the Morrigan had stolen from me had been returned. All that remains is a touch of grey about my temples, though whether this comes naturally from the six years that have passed since the curse was inflicted or is a permanent reminder of what was done to me I know not. But in any event it seems that maybe Theo has been right all along in his counsel that the Morrigan cannot be defeated by force of arms or flame, though that will still be the fate of any of her servants I come across. Instead perhaps I should look more to aid and protect those such as Aelfwin, Helena and Sarah who in their healing do more damage to the Morrigan's twisted aims that I can hope to using the traditional methods of my House.

Summer


After an otherwise apparently uneventful Spring in the covenant, Cormoran brought mixed news to the concillium of his time down in Blackney. While he was able to report that reconstruction of the village is proceeding well, with a ninth magnitude aegis in place now, alarmingly he also mentioned that the scout assigned to the Blackney guard had found tracks of two packs of wolves in the forest near Blackney. From the look of them one pack was chasing the other. This sounded like our fears about the new werewolves mixing with the infernal Dell wolves had been realized. Yet to my astonishment, this news was not received recently but more than two months ago in early February! To compound matters, Comoran seemed utterly unconcerned about this. If a fresh motion of delictum against him had been raised at that point, I would have found it hard not to vote in favour of it. What hope for the poor folk of Blackney if such threats are ignored? The aegis there must surely stay up until these wolves have been dispatched!

Theo and Dialectica traveled out again into the Dean to share the mundane contacts they have both made out there and Tiarnan sallied forth into the fey regio once more. Tiarnan�s season at least seems to have been without incident, and he and his fey companion Ciaran were able to build some sort of treehouse in the Palug�s glade. While I profess no knowledge of the fey, building a base in the aura makes good sense, especially if it will protect one of our vis sites. The news from the Dean that Theo and Dialectica brought back was more troubling. It seems that the famous historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth, has been kidnapped and Dialectica was concerned that wizards or fells could be behind it. Acting on such worries, Medius journeyed to Blackthorn to speak with Senior Quaesitor Serenia, with myself acting as Hoplite. She must have shared our Pontifex�s fears, for Medius was dispatched to Monmouth to see what he could find out, with Dialectica as an investigative Hoplite. With Theo still out of the covenant, this meant I had to remain behind as Imperator and in truth this was probably for the best as I have no love such stinking cities and no great finesse for dealing with mundanes, as doubtless some of my sodales would be only too happy to point out.

Medius�s investigations revealed that it may well have been the UnNamed House who took Geoffrey, though to what end it is not yet clear. Clearly though with all the enemies we already have arrayed against us, the return of this ancient and deadly foe is poor news indeed. We must be vigilant and prepare our defences here as best we can, for we know from past attacks that there is something about this place that they crave. Whatever it is, they must not be allowed to have it, though given the average age of concillium, I do wonder as Imperator how we might stand against a concerted attack. Yet they have not attacked yet and with each passing year they wait, we all grow a little more powerful. While the warriors like Cormoran and I should prepare our arts and martial skills for such a fight, those such as Tiarnan and Theo who have both the talent and the desire to explore the nature of this place must continue to do so. Reading back through the journal it seems that no one has ever truly elucidated what it is about this site that makes it so special. If we could do so, that could prove to be of enormous value. Indeed such knowledge may be more useful than any magical item we might commission to protect us.

On a brighter note, later that season Aelfwin met with the glass merchant Bartholomew and it seems that he is a man whom we can do business with. With luck, our glass-making concern can grow to provide a goodly income for the covenant, it has already made a significant impact. From conversations with Aelfwin and his apprentice smith, Robert, who shares something of Aelfwin's talent in that field, this revenue should increase over time. In addition, if Blackney is restored to its former state and we can cleanse Lydney, then this covenant could become quite prosperous, which would be a welcome change indeed!

Autumn

Tiarnan provided us with more information about the base he had built in the fey Regio at the start of our autumn meeting. Apparently the place is a tree house, held up entirely through the good will of the tree, with no nail or rope used at all. I am not sure I would be comfortable in such a place, given that the tree could presumably destroy the house on a whim but Tiarnan knows much better than I in this matter I am sure. Indeed, so keen is he on this dwelling that he spoke about the possibility of building a laboratory in the fey Regio to further his studies of how the magical and faerie auras are linked. Our Merinitan went on to caution that while the tree house itself is safe, the Erechwyd's forces make the surrounding woods potentially dangerous. Interestingly, he added that her servants' power is in some way dependent on their being in contact with snow or ice. A weakness that if we are ever forced to fight her that I am sure we can exploit.

Theo reported that he had conducted a secret task for the Primus of his house and in payment he had received two items, a circlet and a short bronze sword. In the course of performing this task, he visited Mynydd Myrrdyn and was able to collect 3 pawns of Intellego vis and 4 of Herbam. Of the grogs we left there, it seems that time has passed swiftly there and they are now a score of so years older. Thankfully there has been no sign of Myrrdyn's brood and the village prospers, though the tower has been left well alone. Theo says he was able to use the Myrrydn stone in the woods to transform himself into an eagle to fly to the Regio entrance, something which unsurprisingly attracted much interest, I am certainly very curious to know what it would feel like to change into a bird or other creature!

Of other news, Dialectica reported some success in persuading some of the local free miners to work and dwell in Blackney instead of their current precarious lives. As well as this welcome news, our Pontifex also brought troubling tidings. Apparently four of these free miners have disappeared in the Northwest of the forest. Their camp was apparently found deserted, with valuable ore and tools still there, suggesting foul play of some sort. Although we should of course not be too hasty to assign blame before we are sure, the werewolves seem by far the most likely suspects. Unfortunately Dialectica had other poor news to report, her Pater's longevity potion has broken and he needs her help in brewing another of sufficient potency. Naturally, Dialectica is to hurry to Durenmar to assist her Pater and will be away for at least 3 seasons. She suggested that while she is in Durenmar she could avail herself of their vast spell library and copy some spells for our library.

With the amount of vis extraction we are doing to maintain two ninth magnitude Aegi, Tiarnan asked whether this might damage the aura at all. Dialectica said that while she could not be certain, she thought it would be fine, though she would speak to Petrus, the last surviving refounder, who dwells in Durenmar. Another problem of Dialectica's absence is that no one else can cast the Aegis of the Hearth that we need to protect ourselves. There was some discussion and indeed some argument on the matter of how this might affect Blackney, but in the end council agreed to recast the ninth magnitude aegis for the covenant but to let the aegis at Blackney decay and evacuate the village at the end of the year until Dialectica's return at the end of Summer.

Theo is to travel to Monmouth to try and find Daniel, Dialectica's contact in the free miners to find out the exact location of the missing miner's camp. Theo was able to find this man and obtain some fair sounding directions. On his return to the covenant we discussed what to do next, while myself, Medius and Tiarnan were keen to go and investigate, Cormoran said that it was too dangerous as if we were attacked in force by the pack of werewolves we would not be able to defend ourselves. There was some debate but in the end we decided it was too risky. As it was fate was to intervene and ensure that the mystery was solved. One morning some days later, Dylan came to my sanctum to tell me that he had found curious tracks of a hound in the woods nearby. Intrigued and wondering if this dog might be my future familiar, I ventured out into the forest with him. Whether natural or not, the hound clearly had great stamina for appeared to be running for miles as though it were chasing something urgently. What it was chasing became clear some hours later, when we saw a man running through the woods and came across the body of a werewolf which had obviously been pursuing him. We were able to track the hound for a short distance further but then the tracks simply vanished. The man would not stop when we managed to get close, for which I cannot blame him for I am only too aware that my manner is far from gentle. Nevertheless we persevered and used our knowledge of the local geography to follow and overtake him. Then I resorted to magic to create a feeling of trust in the man's mind and he agreed to accompany us back to the covenant. The tale he had to tell confirmed what I had feared, it was the werewolves who were behind the disappearance of the free miners.

The man was Thomas one of the missing miners. It seems he and his three fellows had accidentally stumbled into a Regio near Symond's Hill. Looking for a fresh seam they followed a stream up a hill and came across a cave in the hillside. They made several attempts to leave the place but were unable to do so and found themselves returning to the cave again, even when they had run downhill for some minutes. It was then that they were attacked by the werewolves. Thomas saw at least one of the men fall and he knew not what happened to the others, though it seems highly likely that they were slain and devoured. Fortune smiled on Thomas and he was able escape the Regio without being bitten. While tracking the hound, I had found a bit of his fur and from this Tiarnan was able to conjure an image of the dog. The image he conjured was one of a brown furred beast with piercing blue eyes. Theo had heard of such a creature, apparently it is called the Drudhwil, a whelp of one of the hounds that in pagan mythology guards the entrance to the Otherworld. Why it would be saving a man from werewolves was not clear.

After some discussion, it was decided to retrieve the body of the werewolf slain by this hound so that Medius might speak with its shade. What it had to say confirmed some of my suspicions about the bargain Hirsutus had struck. Apparently he had told the werewolves that we could not be trusted, something which surely puts us at risk, though to be fair, not all of my colleagues saw it in quite such black and white terms. Nevertheless if he and I meet I will not shirk from making my feelings clear. Yet I digress, the shade of this dead shapeshifter proposed a parley. If we released its shade by burning the body, it speak with its pack and organize a meeting on Huntley Hill on the night of the gibbous moon, though only one magus would be able to attend or the werewolves would consider it a hostile act. Theo tried to use a spell to communicate with werewolves but only normal wolves responded, but I suppose if these shifters do dwell in a Regio then their silence was not that surprising. After this, further debate ensued as to whether we could trust the werewolves in a parley. The argument was somewhat acrimonious, but I was outvoted 4 to 1. A problem arose when I remembered that the creature's heart contained vis, which, under the charter I was entitled to. I made claim on the vis, but relented when Theo, acting as Pontifex, offered me an equivalent amount of Creo vis. I was sorely tempted to use Certamen to prevent Theo from going but he promised me that he would take no chances and would drink the apportation potion the council had granted him if they moved against him. So the body was burnt and Theo left the covenant to attend the parley. If they prove faithless and slay my friend, as I fear they will, then I swear I will not rest until their entire line if naught but ash.

Fortunately my fears were not realized though the werewolves did betray their sly and untrustworthy nature. I attempted to listen in to what Theo was saying using the Ear for Distant Voices at midnight, the appointed hour of the meeting but the spell would not work. Either Theo was in a Regio or had been slain. I tried for several hours more before Medius bade me get some rest so that I might be fresh in the morning if a rescue mission was needed. He had not had any success either and so it was that at dawn, with grim face, I assembled a squad of men to accompany Cormoran and I to see if Theo could be saved. Before I set off I tried to listen in one last time and to my great relief heard the sound of someone walking through the woods. Soon enough he returned the covenant, tired and a little angry, but unharmed.

Theo told us, after some much needed rest, that he had somehow got lost on the way to Huntley Hill and had called out to the werewolves, once again using the Tongue of Beasts spell. The pack leader came to him and they spoke, though luckily for Theo the beast was somewhat subservient and polite, they have some fear of us it seems. Theo learnt more of the "bargain" that Hirsutus had struck on our behalf. We are to both respect the other's territory, which Theo was able to establish, consisted of the Regio on Symond's Hill for the wolves and the rest of the forest for us. They also claimed to have found the Regio by themselves, without Hirsutus's help and said that they had left Mynydd Myrrdyn because the pack leader there wished to expand his territory and get revenge on Sir Gavin of Skenfrith. These wolves would have us believe that they only wish to live and hunt away from man, though they also warned that they would attack any who entered the Regio. Despite this apparent desire to be left alone, they also added that they wished to be able to venture into Monmouth to kidnap and infect women to spread their cursed lineage. Naturally Theo refused this request and the true nature of these twisted creatures became apparent when Theo asked the pack leader to show him back to somewhere warm and dry. He was led unwittingly onto Symond's Hill and into the Regio, whereupon the rest of the pack encircled him with unmistakable intent. Knowing that his potion would not avail him in a Regio, he was forced to accede to the head wolf's demands, loathsome as they were. At this, the wolves seemed satisfied and said that they will set one of their number to listen for any word from us at each gibbous moon. As the pack leader led Theo back to the covenant he suggested that they might ally with us to destroy the wolves of the Dell. A suggestion which was to be the source of much, ultimately inconclusive, debate at council later.

As winter grew near, Lauretius arrived bearing news. The King of England is nearing victory in his war with the Scots and of more local interest, the Earl of Gloucester has rejected a request from Clifford, the Archbishop of Hereford's aide, for men and troops to search the Dean for the welsh war wizard. Lauretius believes that the Archbishop is being manipulated by Clifford, who is shrewd and strong-minded and may be difficult to affect with low-magnitude Mentem spells. Yvonne, who we believe may well be one of the Fells, has apparently been trying to persuade the Earl to offer his backing to Clifford, fortunately for us, unsuccessfully thus far. Lauretius also reported that he has uncovered evidence of a possible UnNamed House spy network in Monmouth, Hereford and Gloucester and warned us to exercise extreme caution in betraying any evidence of our magical natures in those cities.

Of Hermetic news, Primus Llandolwyn has somehow been able to reclaim the Robes of Dusty Dawn, which were previously in the hands of the renounced magus Magreine. In addition, Sylvania has won the title of Archimaga, only the second in her house to hold that role at present.

Winter

The season passed relatively quietly, something of a blessing given some of the events in winter over previous years. Of some note, Cormoran checked the magical aura in Blackney and found it to be of the second magnitude. Archimaga Sylvania arrived at the covenant to speak with Tiarnan, and then initiated a discussion over dinner with the rest of us about the future of the Order and how we might deal with the threat of the church and the mundanes. The debate was at times heated and unsurprisingly ultimately inconclusive, the Archimaga herself could offer no solid solution, but expressed her hope that someone would take the lead in bringing such matters to the fore. And so the year ended, with philosophical musings rather than grim defence being foremost in our minds, a state of being which is less familiar to me, but one which I am happy to embrace. War has its own nobility but peace is still a far greater prize.
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