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Scribed by Theo

Spring 1155 AD


It barely seems any time at all since I was last asked to write in this Journal, so much has happened in the last few years that sometimes I feel that I don't have time to draw breath, let alone reflect upon past events. Still one of the advantages of this Journal is that it allows for such reflection.

The beginning of Spring found us still without our Pontifex, hence I continued to fill her role. The Council itself was quite a straightforward affair, Aelfwin reported that Angela had died during the winter. I really didn't know our Librarian as well as I should as I didn't spend that much time in the Library, however I wish her spirit peace in the hereafter. Our new Librarian is called Mathew; he is not a young man so it seems that we need to start planning for his replacement as well. Cormoran reported that he had established the lab in Blackney and that the season had passed safely. However he had forgotten to bring the villagers to the covenant with him, or perhaps forgotten is too strong a word. Cormoran did not see the point in moving all of the villagers to the covenant when the village Aegis fails. There was another brief discussion concerning this and in the end our original decision to move the villagers was affirmed, hence Cormoran agreed to start moving them to the covenant the day after.

As acting-Pontifex it was then my duty to divide up amongst my fellows any spare vis the covenant had. I had previously decided that the covenant had enough creo, ignem and herbam vis and that I would award one pawn per seasons service last year. I still smile when I remember offering the council a choice of which vis they wanted and everyone immediately saying 'creo'. Well, everyone except for the Pontifex and myself - we decided to ask for ignem.

As for our seasons activities, Aelfwin was to study from the Rego books. Astrius decided to study creo vis. Cormoran was to start inventing a spell, whilst Medius was set to extract vim vis as a covenant service. Tiarnan decided that he was ready to start his search for his familiar and I was going to go amongst the mundanes as a covenant service. Shortly after the council ended I decided that I would no longer perform a covenant service as I would head to Narwold and see if I could help them instead.

Of course things were not to be this simple. I left the covenant in the capable hands of its Imperator and headed by the back roads to Narwold. Once we were beyond Cirencester I became careless however and followed the West Road, as we were walking along here Viremos spotted a small deep black shadow within the trees of a large forest we were about to enter. Hoping that it hadn't spotted us, whatever it was, I thought we could try and loose it by going around the forest. My hope was in vain however as Viremos saw it follow us, although it always stayed within the shadows of the trees. With night fast approaching my last idea was to leave the forest behind us, so we quickly moved out of sight of the trees. Once again we were confounded, with the lengthening shadows of evening, this dark spirit left the protection of the trees and followed us.

Obviously we were not going to loose it, nor could we allow it to simply follow our every move, so I decided to attack. This did not go quite to plan either. It moved with incredible speed, much quicker than I was expecting, it's shadow fell over Signord who was possessed by it. There is no way that I know off to destroy a possessing spirit, so we had to drive it out. Unfortunately the only way I could think of doing this was to make the host body useless for its purposes. Which was exactly what my other companion was doing. Signord attacked us, but Rhys managed to hold him off. I tried to join the fight and almost lost my arm for my troubles. Rhys however is a damn fine swordsman and managed to cripple Signord, at which point the shadow left him alone. Rhys would be a much more dangerous host for it to control. Viremos and myself eventually managed to destroy it before it reached Rhys - as it died the shadow about it dissipated and I saw the spirit for what it was, a minor corruption in the form of a black snake, with legs and blood red eyes.

Having finished with the imp, Rhys and Signord tried to bind their wounds. However Rhys told me that unless Signord got treated professionally soon he would die. It was at this point that Viremos told me that some other, greater danger was approaching. So we ran through the dark trying to get away from whatever was coming. As we spotted our foe, we were within thirty paces of the forest this all started with. They were above us, three large winged shapes, humanoid in proportions. I screamed for us to flee and headed at once for the border of the trees. Rhys ran with me, but Signord decided that as he was in no condition to run anywhere he would stay and fight. I admire and salute his bravery in this, I believe that it was only through his sacrifice that Rhys and myself were saved. For whilst Signord died fighting these three terrifying deamons, Rhys and myself made it into the woods and hid ourselves. We stayed hidden through till the morning, at which point we returned to the site of last nights battle - there was nothing remaining of Signord other than a torn patch of bloody ground.

With this loss and with my wounds needing treatment we both returned to the covenant about a week after I had left. I once again announced a change in my activity, and decided to get Rhys to train me in how to use a shield.

Shortly after I had returned I discovered that Tiarnan was not having such a simple season of it either. It seems that the Lladra had visited him and passed on a message - her father, Llyr, wished to talk to him. The confusion arose as she says that Llyr will await him at the source of the Severn. Hence he returns to the covenant to try and find out where this is, after all the Severn is a mighty river, and even though I have travelled along it many times I have no idea where it actually starts. Nor does anyone else in the covenant, much to Tiarnan's disappointment. After talking to the Lladra once more he leaves the covenant again, heading north.

Summer


Obviously Tiarnan was successful as during the Council meeting he announces that not only did he find the source of the Severn, a large lake far to the north which is populated by many water fae, but he has found his familiar - an otter named Kai. The rest of the Council was very straightforward with nothing else of interest being raised. Hence we declared our seasons activities. Tiarnan was set to further investigate the lower levels of the fae regio as a covenant service. Medius would study intellego vis, whilst Astrius was tasked with extracting vim vis (as we would have two aegi along with Tiarnan's familiar being bound this year). Cormoran said that he would continue working on his spell, which he hopes to finish this season. Aelfwin told us that he was now capable of creating three 'Leap of Homecoming' potions, and although we need his services in creating glass for us to sell I decided that creating these potions would be a more valuable use of his time. Hence that was his covenant service. I decided that it was time I learned a bit more about how to lead people and so would get our Castellan to teach me. Finally I announced that I would go and see if the young mining engineer at Coleford would join us in Blackney.

However just before I left Medius came to see me to inform me that Serenea had requested his presence to perform an investigation. I agreed or course, modified the covenant records and wished him good luck.

I was successful in getting the young engineer to join us, he seems a very capable and likeable fellow and I'm sure that he'll be more than up to the job ahead of him.

The rest of the season passed quietly.

Autumn

Both Medius and Dialectica returned to the covenant a few days before the Council. Hence the autumn council started with the Pontifex back in her rightful position and I must add that I for one was glad to have her back. It seems that Dialectica has found an apprentice, a young child called Aedden. From what I have seen of him when I talk to the Pontifex he is a beautiful boy with a winning personality and a ready smile - although how such a small body can produce such a loud noise I have no idea. Of more import to the covenant the Pontifex also brought back some spells from the Library of Durenmar, along with news from Petrus that he considered it highly unlikely that we would damage our aura at our current rate of extraction. However if any damage did occur he would be very interested in studying it!

Of further interest Tiarnan reported a successful season, he collected a single pawn of auram vis from the multicoloured birds and that he had discovered Sigilitis' tree. It seems that Sigilitis is a messenger of Llugh, King of the Skies, no small find on Tiarnan's part I feel.

Now that Dialectica is back we can repopulate Blackney and cast the Aegis over it, which is good news for the covenant as next year we have to re-evaluate our tax situation. Finally Tiarnan announced that he would be starting to bind Kai as his familiar this season and would therefore be engaged for the next year - an intense experience by all accounts. He was mildly concerned about what would happen if the Palug called for help whilst he was busy, we could only try to set his mind to rest that we would be very careful in our interactions with the fae.

As for our seasons activities, well Medius decided to continue his interrupted studies of the intellego vis. Cormoran was successful last season in completing his spell but wants to start work upon another one. Astrius will study the Animal texts, whilst Dialectica studies those concerning intellego. Aelfwin was to extract vim vis as a covenant service and I was going to practise some of my non-Hermetic skills.

After this the Council ended and we went about our work. This season, like last also passed peacefully, except for Medius that is. It seems that at the end of the season a bird got into his sanctum and ruined his experiments, resulting in the destruction of some lab equipment.

Winter

The only news brought before Council was by Medius reporting on his accident the season before. It had obviously been quite dangerous as he had shallow cuts all over him, still none of them seemed deep or infected.

With that bad news out of the way and with no further news we moved into out seasons activities. Medius stated that he would be spending his time fixing his lab. Once again Astrius wanted to study the Animal texts and Dialectica the Intellego ones. Aelfwin decided to study some creo vis, whilst Cormoran was to be in Blackney as a covenant service, he would spend his time being trained in how to use a halberd. Finally I would extract vim vis as a covenant service.

This season started quietly and I had hopes that the year would end peacefully. I should really have known better. Early in winter the Redcap Lauretius arrived. He had worrying mundane news concerning the Episcopate's aide: Clifford. It seems that he has arrested and burnt three individuals in Hereford, but no-one knows why? I fear that this may be under the direction of Yvonne, which means for the benefit of the Fells. I can only hope that I am wrong. Lauretius also talked of many mercenary bands in the local area but again why they are here no one seems to know. His Hermetic news was more worrying, it seems that Holy Isle claim to have killed a member of the Unnamed House and that this wizard may have been helped by someone within the Order. Therefore they are currently checking with Magvillus if they can launch a widespread investigation into every magus of this Tribunal. However Magvillus seems to be having it own troubles, it has involved itself in the middle of the faction wars going on in the Roman Tribunal. I don't know the half of what is going on there but it really does sound as if this Tribunal is tearing itself apart, the phrase 'death throws' springs to mind and I do wonder if I could be right and what this means for the rest of the Order. Of more personal issue was the news that Medius' pater had been killed.

The last piece of news that Lauretius gave us was that on his way to the covenant he thought he had seen a figure in the ruins of Lydney. This was worrying news and so the Council determined to send a party to investigate, namely: Medius, Astrius, Cormoran, Giovanni, Dylan, Ferret, and myself.

Once we got to the village both Ferret and Dylan investigated the area about the ruins. Ferret found some tracks made by a man dragging a sack behind him, these lead from the river (a boat was found hidden near here) up to the village and do not return. Hence we assumed that this person was still in the infernal regio and we devised a plan to ambush him when he comes out. Medius, Giovanni and myself return to Blackney, where I decided to enter the Otherworld that evening and travel back to Lydney.

The rest of the tale is more from my own perspective but I will occasionally add descriptions of what was going on in the 'real' world as the others have described to me.

It was fully dark when I returned to Lydney, but the stars of the Otherworld shone brightly enough for me to easily mark my way. I would add at this point that in all of my investigations of Lydney I have never been able to perceive what lies within the ruins with my Sight. So what I saw that night came as a complete shock to me. This is no small corruption, there lies within Lydney a huge pit, demonic imps dance around the edge of it, the pit itself is lit by a dull red glow from deep within. I was unable to see beyond the rim due to my position and I was certainly not going any closer. However after a short while observing this I heard a loud iron clang as of a gate opening, the pit belched fire and fumes and amongst the dancing imps a much larger figure walked. This deamon had two large smooth, black horns curving skyward, it's skin was that of a snake and it's hands ended in claws, along with eyes of flame it had living fire running from it's maw. It stood on the edge of the pit and raised its hands, the fires of the pit burnt higher and the shadows around the pit start to spread. With a gesture three large black wolves appear next to it, with another gesture a spirit of shadow appears above it which then disappears - I assume into the real world.

After this it stands there and watches. I thought I saw for a moment another figure at the edge of the pit. However my attention is caught by the fact that the wolves are moving, they walk down from the ruins towards the river, they seem to be escorting something. With the shadow encroaching and the fact that I know Astrius and Cormoran won't be able to see these wolves, I decide to go and warn them.

Moving through the dark towards Astrius was a scary moment, I fully expected that my movement would give away my position to the wolves and that I would be attacked. However I made it without being seen and I warned Astrius and Ferret. Ferret seems to have been frozen with fear, I know that later he talked of feeling weak and sickly as a shadow that his eyes couldn't pierce crossed over them.

The three wolves are escorting a figure down to the river, as they get close Astrius lets fly with a bolt of flame. This strikes the man but seems not to hurt him, however his first reaction is to turn and run back towards the pit. In the meantime the wolves step from the Otherworld and attack. Two go for Cormoran whilst one goes for Astrius. Or rather I thought one was going for Astrius but in fact it was going for me, Astrius was rather confused when he saw the wolf jump near him and disappear. However he took advantage of this and sent another ball of fire at the rapidly retreating figure, this time when the fire hit the figure it goes down. So Astrius ran towards it and finished whoever this was by running him through.

Whilst this was happening Cormoran was fighting two of the wolves and holding his own with ease, when suddenly one of the wolves vanished. This was because it had come to join the one fighting me. I was in rather desperate straits as even with just the one wolf on me I was being overwhelmed and had been badly hurt already. As soon as I saw the second one coming I decided to trust that luck and fear would give me the speed to out run them to the river. My hope was that as infernal creatures they would have difficulty following me into the cleansing waters of the Severn. My luck (or fear) was enough to get me to the water just as the second one was closing. As I entered the waters I saw the figure of the Lladra appear with four of her servants, horses made of white water and foam. As she helped me to safety these horses charged the wolves, the farthest wolf managed to make it to higher ground but the closest was caught and torn to pieces.

The Lladra took me upriver and deposited me at Blackney, and I decided that it was time I left the Otherworld. Once I had woken up in the houses of Blackney I went to discover what was happening. Medius was at the gates with Cormoran who had apported back to Blackney when the last wolf he was fighting had also vanished. He brought with him a large sack that the fleeing figure had dropped, within it were bones, slightly red bones that obviously belonged to the skeleton of a deamon. As I was far too tired to investigate these bones now I promised to check in the morning. However then suddenly as I looked around I realised that Astrius wasn't with us. It seems that Cormoran left him as Astrius was running after the retreating figure - running towards the pit! At this point Cormoran refused to apport back to help him, I must admit to being rather surprised and very disappointed by his refusal - I'm sure Astrius would have never left Cormoran or refused to help him no matter the danger. With hindsight I realise that I am being slightly unfair to Cormoran, we must all face danger and our fears however we can, whilst remembering that some will overcome us no matter how brave we are.

We were lucky however, having killed his quarry, Astrius had placed the body in the small boat and was slowly sailing upriver to join us. We met him down from Blackney and feeling much relieved we headed to safety.

Again it is decided to wait until morning to fully investigate the body and bones, although Cormoran examined the body and found a couple of rings and a necklace with a black stone attached to it. We left the bones and body outside the Aegis with Cormoran watching them. The next I knew was being woken up again, it was still dark outside so I assumed something had gone wrong. It seems that the bones and body had vanished, Cormoran glanced away and then back to find them gone. I immediately checked with my Sight, and I saw the tall deamon from the edge of the pit carrying them away into the forest. Luckily we noticed that it seems to have missed some items, namely the rings, the necklace and a small knucklebone, we quickly took these inside the Aegis just in case the deamon returns.

The next day, feeling much better after some sleep, I examine these items. The rings seem mundane, the necklace has a shadow across it, which talking with Viremos and Medius uncovers might be a sign of a pact. Specifically a pact with a coven, given to a high ranking member. So it seems our mysterious figure may well have been a member of the Fells - let us hope that this makes them think twice about entering our lands again. The knucklebone appears to my Sight to be made of fire and shadow.

An emergency Council is called to discuss these events. We must decide what to do with this bone, do we destroy it or hide it. Whilst it exists then the skeleton is not complete and the Fells will not be able to continue with whatever plan they had, but it does act as a connection and the pit deamon may well be able to follow and claim it. However in destroying it we may well find that we have released the spiritual essence that made the bone, which would then be free to be reformed - hence completing the skeleton. We have yet to decide what to do about this.

During the rest of the season, Serenea calls to talk to Medius and Cormoran must leave Blackney to attend Quellior for another of the seasons service owed. Towards the end of the season a badly wounded Cormoran returned. I have yet to discover what happened but I'm certain that Cormoran's opinion of Quellior has sunk to new lows.

The last thing of note was that during the season Ferret never seemed to recover from feeling weak and sick in the infernal aura of Lydney. He seemed to waste quickly away and nothing Aelfwin or Helena could do helped. A few weeks before the weather broke Ferret died. I mention this as Ferret was the longest serving member of the covenant, he had seen so much more of the events here than any of the magi. He spent his life the way he wished and served the covenant well - I wish him peace and happiness in the beyond.
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