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Scribed by Tiarnan

Spring 1159AD


Winter fades at last. How much of a relief it is to be woken each morning by the gentle light of the rising sun rather than the sound of my window shutters being buffeted by icy winds.

The Council met, as usual, on the morning of the first day of spring. The meeting began fairly brightly, as we discussed the events of the previous year and our plans for the next, but it was not long before it descended into bitter acrimony. The source of the dispute was Cormoran's assertion that Astrius had handled the battle with the werewolves last season very badly, and that we had lost men and resources due to his negligence. Astrius erupted in anger, defending himself vigorously and accusing Cormoran of using the incident to further his ambition to take over as Imperator. Stepping in to halt the argument, Dialectica asked Cormoran whether he was simply venting his spleen or whether he wished to raise a formal motion of censure against Astrius. Cormoran declared that the Council should find Astrius guilty of the crime of delictum, and Dialectica wisely suspended the meeting for an hour to allow tempers to cool.

When we met again, Dialectica asked Cormoran to outline his case against Astrius. The giant began with a wide-ranging tirade against Astrius' actions, claiming that the latest incident was just one in a string of occasions when he had acted in rash and imprudent manner. Dialectica quickly moved to narrow the focus of the complaint by demanding that Cormoran focus solely on specific misdeeds rather than general errors or faults. Cormoran found this hard to do, and it quickly became clear that he had not thought through how he intended to put his case forward. Astrius, Theo and Dialectica were all able to point out inconsistencies and confusion in his arguments, which meant that his case had far less force than he intended. In the end, the matter seemed to boil down to whether Astrius' decision to rush into the forest at night in search of the werewolves represented a reasonable attempt to catch his quarry before the moon rose, or whether it recklessly endangered his companions by leaving them strung out in the forest facing dangerous enemies. I felt that Cormoran had failed to demonstrate that Astrius' actions were unreasonable, and I voted against the motion. My sodales agreed, and Astrius was acquitted of the charge by a vote of five to one. After the trial, I expressed my concerns about the manner in which it had been run, but I received little support for my argument.

[Tiarnan's private journal: I found the trial itself to be extremely worrying. I had assumed that Dialectica would be a neutral moderator, ensuring that both sides were able to present their evidence in a fair and balanced manner. In fact, she was nothing of the sort, and was obvious from the start that she considered Cormoran's case to be without merit. She constantly interrupted him as he sought to detail his case and, although some of her questions were justified given the giant's meandering arguments, the language she used made it very clear that she disapproved of Cormoran's complaint. I lost count of the number of times she declared that Astrius' actions seemed "most natural" to her, and the Flambeau faced a far less hostile cross-examination. At one point, it was left to Medius, of all people, to stand up for Cormoran when Dialectica implied that he was at fault for not declaring his alarm at Astrius' actions at the time. Medius pointed out that it would have been hard to do so given that everyone quickly lost contact after the Flambeau dashed into the dark forest.

Although I think we were correct to acquit Astrius on this occasion, I fear that Dialectica will use her position as Pontifex to manipulate any future trials. After Astrius had been acquitted, she declared that she saw her role to guide the Council and, most alarmingly, to protect those who held the offices of Ministrator and Imperator from "trivial" accusations. This is a quite staggering attitude, for surely those who have the quite considerable powers that those roles bring should not also have their privileged positions even further enhanced by this protection. Indeed, I had rather expected that she would hold these figures to even higher standards of behaviour than the norm, not allow them more latitude than those without their authority. Alas, it seems not.]


With the matter of the werewolves settle, Dialectica and Theo informed the Council of an offer made by Baron Martin of Monmouth. It seems that the aging Baron still feels much gratitude to the covenant for the aid granted by Antonius and, more recently, those involved in the death of Clifford, the Archbishop of Hereford's aide. He has offered to clarify the current ambiguity over the covenant's title to the land on which it stands by appointing one of us as a knight. By swearing fealty to him, we will apparently gain his protection from any challenge that could be raised by members of the local nobility. We would have to make a payment to the Baron to purchase the landholding, but he offered to pay us a generous price for our iron, which would mean that the net cost would be relatively minor. The Baron also made the request that his son, who will inherit the Barony when his father dies, should be allowed to visit the covenant.

We debated the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal for some time. Dialectica and Theo had clearly made their minds up to accept the offer, and they cautioned that we would be missing a great opportunity if we demurred. Dialectica said that we might face legal challenge in the future, and she raised the stakes by mentioning that Magi had been forced to abandon their covenants in the past rather than risk open war with their mundane enemies. This argument rang rather hollow to me, for surely the time of greatest danger - when the diabolist Guyere masqueraded as the Archbishop's aide - was now past. I also fear that tying ourselves more closely into the mundane world makes it more likely that we will be drawn into political conflicts than if we remain aloof. Still, the others appeared to be less concerned about this, and we agreed to make a decision at the next Council meeting. I spent the evening discussing with Medius the precedents in the Peripheral Code that allow Magi to serve nobles without contravening the prohibition on, well, Magi serving nobles. Medius seemed to think that the often conflicting statements in the Code and Tribunal rulings were perfectly reconcilable, but it seems to me that it is more likely that House Jerbiton has cleverly hoodwinked the rest of the Order.

Following the meeting, Theo travelled north to Huntley Hill to meet the werewolves who live in the Regio close to Symmond's Hill. He received their thanks for destroying the blood-crazed wolves last season, and they explained something of the background to the events. It seems the blood-craze is a curse that werewolves can lay on one-another, though the victim has to be willing. The werewolves claimed that the attack was most likely organised by an enemy pack of werewolves who inhabit the forest close to Mynydd Myddyn. When Theo reported this back to the Council, Medius suggested that we may have drawn into a conflict that did not involve us, which I found to be a worrying thought. For the moment, we agreed simply to monitor the situation rather than taking a more active role.

Towards the end of the season, the Redcap Loretius arrived at the covenant to deliver mundane and Hermetic news. It seems that the Earl of Gloucester has formally requested the Archbishop of Hereford to take steps to ensure that the abuses of power committed by his former aide do not ever re-occur. The Archbishop has apparently fallen ill, and he has retired to his chambers where he refuses to see anyone. Elsewhere, the King has decided to issue new coins to restore their prestige in foreign markets and to thwart coin-clippers. All holders of coin have been advised to exchange their old coins for new ones by the end of the year. In Hermetic news, House Jerbiton has thrown its support behind the motion raised by House Guernicus to investigate all Magi who follow pagan faiths for possible involvement with members of the Unnamed House. The motion must still be approved by the Grand Tribunal, but this news brings it a step closer. Finally, Quaesitor Dionysius of Holy Isle covenant has passed into Final Twilight, a fact that was greeted without much sadness by members of this covenant.

Summer

Aelfwin returned to Severn Temple just in time for the Council meeting at the start of the season. He had spent the previous year at the covenant of Lear Valley, where he had learned the magical breakthrough made by his pater, Erin, some years before. The experimentation was a success, and Aelfwin now understands how to combine Hermetic and alchemical principles to create more effective longevity potions, particularly for those who lack the Gift. These potions often require special ingredients, some of which are apparently difficult to obtain.

We held a brief discussion on the offer made to the covenant last season by the Baron of Monmouth, and the matter swiftly moved towards a formal vote. I was the only Magus to vote against the proposal, which surprised me somewhat as I had expected Medius and Cormoran to be sceptical of becoming more involved in mundane affairs, though for very different reasons. With the matter settled, we decided that Theo would be the most appropriate candidate to become the Knight of Briavel by virtue of his Gentle Gift and easy manner. I also hope that he will make a success of this, though I fear that it will bring us, and particularly him, trouble in the future.

Astrius and Dialectica agreed to spend the season working together to create a ritual to raise the waters of the Severn around the abandoned village of Lydney. The hope is that this will help to cleanse that place of the infernal spirits that have haunted the area for so long. The Council meeting ended following a short discussion on how to improve communication between the covenant and Blackney in times of emergency. Astrius proposed that we train some pigeons to carry messages between the two places, but others had grander and wilder schemes, including the creation of an item to produce magical pigeons. The discussion ended with the sensible compromise that we would initially investigate the use of mundane pigeons for this task.

Theo, Kieran, Kai and I travelled to the faerie Regio to visit the Summer Glade, where Nynniaw, Lord of Oaks, celebrates his birthday each midsummer. Before we made our way through the forest, we stopped at a sandy bank by the side of the Severn for a spot of fishing. It took a little while to catch a couple of fish worthy of being presented to Nynniaw as a gift, but after a few days, we were ready to proceed once more. Entering the faerie forest, we collected both Palug and the faerie mushrooms, before making our way to the Summer Glade. There we found a host of creatures, including the Bwbachod (who now appeared covered in green shoots and moved less stiffly than when I had met them last in the winter) and many forest animals, all awaiting Nynniaw's arrival. As the Lord of Oaks arrived, we formed a surprisingly orderly queue as we approached to present him with our gifts. Kieran and I gave him a large perch and a brown trout respectively; Kai gave him a flat stone for breaking open shellfish; and Theo told a tale about the wisdom of the old forests. All the gifts seemed to go done well, and Nynniaw gave Kieran, Theo and I small wooden daggers in return. Kai received the boon that he would always find good fishing in any forest stream, which appeared to delight him.

[Tiarnan's private journal: Theo also asked Nynniaw whether he would grant him permission to travel the faerie paths of the forests, which should help him to evade any of his enemies outside the Dean. Nynniaw said that his kingdom had suffered more from the presence of man than those of his brothers and he needed to see more evidence of leadership from Theo before he would commit himself to supporting him. He asked that Theo persuade the Council to plant all, rather than just a portion, of the acorns that Theo collects each year from the Heart of the Forest, since the acorns apparently help to renew the forest in some way. Theo agreed to attempt this, though I think he will find it hard to achieve given the venality of some of our sodales.]

Back at the covenant, Theo and I spoke briefly with the Lladra on the subject of raising the waters of the Severn. She said that she would take advantage of the ritual that Astrius and Dialectica were preparing to strike at the corruption in Lydney, and she also suggested that the Severn Boar would prove to be a useful ally in this regard, given his natural strength and aggression. She also gently encouraged Theo to learn more of the pagan ways, as this would also give him some measure of power over the river.

[Tiarnan's private journal: The Lladra also asked about the vision I had been granted at the Winter Solstice last year. I told Theo of the tale: I saw an old man using a mirror of polished stone to survey the land; he turned away and spoke with a high-born lady of the faerie courts, who kissed him and then bade him look again at the mirror; after he did so, his reflection appeared in the mirror, but he was no longer standing before it. We discussed whether this was a warning that Theo's plan to travel to the crystal caves in Mynydd Myddyn to recover his memories of the faerie paths was really a good idea, for the vision suggested that it might have been a trap; Theo mentioned that it was Gofannon who suggested that he do so. We reached no firm conclusion, though Theo said he would consider any other possible options before travelling to the caves.]

A short time before the end of the season, the Redcap Loretius arrived at the covenant. He bore no general news for us, but he handed private letters to Cormoran and Medius.

Autumn

At the Council meeting, Cormoran announced that he had received a letter from the Magi of Trevalga covenant requesting his aid in solving a problem with a local giant, which has prevented them from harvesting one of their vis sites. Cormoran seemed like a natural choice to negotiate with the giant, which would prove difficult for anyone without his heritage and stature. He was eager to take up the challenge, perhaps spurred on by the opportunity to learn more about his background. Though others might try to drive off or slay the creature with dolorous spells, Cormoran will no doubt try to strike a deal and thereby gain a potentially useful ally. Medius also informed us that he too had received a message from the Magi of Trevalga, though it concerned a legal matter. He gave few details, and he departed with Cormoran shortly after the meeting finished.

[Tiarnan's private journal: I received a visit from Archimaga Sylvania during the season. We briefly discussed the matter of Sir Turold. Senior Quaesitor Serenia has asked Quaesitor Linaris to investigate whether there is any link between the former Magus Turold and this faerie knight. Hopefully, she will sense that, if ever there was a connection between them, there is no longer anything of the Magus left. We also discussed the vision I had concerning the vision I had last season. But it would be better to write no more of that, even here.]

The rest of season progressed quietly. Astrius and Dialectica completed the ritual to raise the waters of the Severn, Aelfwin brewed a set of potions imbued with the enchantment the Leap of Homecoming and Theo spent the season learning more of the Welsh language.

Winter

Theo failed to turn up the Council meeting at the start of the season, which caused us some concern as he had not indicated that he might be away. An investigation of his rooms uncovered the fact that his bed had been slept in, and his clothes were still hanging where he presumably left them the night before. In addition, Astrius felt the presence of Theo's ghostly warder, Viremos, in the room, though he failed to make contact with the spirit. We debated what to do for a while, though the strictures of the Code concerning the use of scrying magics made it difficult to see how we could find out more about where he had gone. In the end, Astrius agreed to try to contact Viremos again when night fell, as those of us with more knowledge of the occult felt this would be easier to accomplish during the hours of darkness. This proved to be wise counsel, for Astrius informed us the following day that Viremos had told him that Theo had departed on some mysterious endeavour of his own free will. Relieved that our sodales had not been kidnapped or fallen foul of some magical accident, we reconvened the Council meeting the next morning.

Cormoran described his adventures in Cornwall. He managed to track down the giant that had been pestering the Magi of Trevalga covenant, but he was unable to convince it to allow the Magi to slaughter any of the magical goats that formed the giant's flock. It seems the giant wanted a wife in exchange for the goats, but Cormoran decided that this was impossible given that surely no right-minded woman would consent to marrying the monstrous brute. With discussion exhausted, Cormoran decided that he had no choice but to slay the giant, and through force of arms he prevailed. With the creature dead, he returned to Trevalga to receive his prize from the grateful Magi. He did not elaborate on the terms of the bargain, but I sensed from his demeanour that he felt that the outcome was worthy compensation for the death of one of his kin.

Medius also told us a little of his travels, though he did not discuss his investigation. It seems that groups of diabolists, possibly linked to the Fells, are still active in the West Country. Medius encountered a group of them carrying out some foul ritual in a haunted wood near Tavistock, and he also heard news that some of Carrion Moor's spies had been attacked by diabolists in Plymouth. If these groups are indeed linked to the Fells, it appears that the death of Guyere may not have set them back as far as we had hoped. We discussed for a while whether the re-emergence of the Fells made it more important to carry out the ritual to flood Lydney as soon as possible, but in the end, we contented ourselves with setting a watch on that place while we waited for the end of winter and the return of spring.

The rest of the season passed without much incident of note, though Kieran and Kai both began to show symptoms of nasty colds.
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