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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1161 AD


The Spring meeting started with a discussion about Theo, but as before, there was little concrete action that could be taken and all we could do as a council was agree to wait and hope for his safe return.

Dialectica stated that she will be abroad in Summer and Autumn of this year to attend her house meeting. As Medius also plans to venture forth in Summer I will remain within the covenant then and extract vim vis as service then. For this season I announced my intent to seek the hound that helped me to track down the blood werewolves and see if the Anu's vision of it being destined to be my familiar was true. Tiarnan stated that he intends to repay the dozen pawns that he owes from binding his familiar this year and hopefully this should leave us with enough for both the aegis and the longevity potion that Cormoran will need next year. Cormoran will spend this season replanting the orchards down in Blackney that were swept away by the flood, though quite why it takes a magus to plant a few apple trees is beyond me.

The meeting concluded with a quick review of our finances. These are encouragingly healthy. We have a reserve of over 1165d and are currently making a profit of 340d, after making our back tax payments. With monies to spare, Cormoran suggested that the covenant buy a sailing barge and given the difficulties that magi of this covenant have had with securing safe passage along the Severn in the past, all agreed. Medius also raised the possibility of a financial stipend along the same lines of the vis tithe and Dialectica agreed to consider such a plan.

The season was not much older when a cart arrived bearing a large package for Cormoran. It contained the armour that he had commissioned from Ildenacht of Trevalaga and appears to be of exceptionally fine make. It is also remarkably light for its size, but even so, it was easy to see why Lauretius had not been able to carry it himself.

Magus Arcanus arrived later in the season to speak with Medius on Quaesitorial business.

Although sadly there was no further sign of Theo during the season, another long lost member of the covenant did return, though much changed. Robert, an archer who accompanied Magus Tiarnan into the faerie regio in 1151 and like that magus, was captured by the Erechwyth. His skin is now pale, his hair white and his eyes a piercing shade of blue, clearly his time in the Erechwyth's icy realm has warped him. The bow that he carries also appears to have some sort of faerie enchantment about it. However, as his claims that he had struck no deal nor sworn any oath of allegiance held up under magical interrogation he was allowed to return to the turb, albeit only as part of the Blackney militia.

My hunt for the Drudwhil hound proved to be a great success, though I am sure it would read better if Theo were here to help me with the telling of it. Anyway, given that the Anu had sent me a previous vision about it, I decided to make my way down to the Heart of the Forest to see if the Anu could help me find the beast. Following Theo's example I sat back against the tree that grows in the centre of that place and closed my eyes. I felt a little self-conscious at first but there is a peaceful air there and with the warm Spring sunshine on my face I soon drifted off to sleep.

I dreamt that I was standing on Huntley hill at night, with a half moon risen behind me. Off to one side I could hear the sounds of fighting so I hurried down the slope of the hill to investigate. There I espied three men run from a clearing. They were dressed in ragged clothed, but wore armour underneath it nevertheless and one bore a sword. The hound chased after them and they turned to fight it. Back from whence the hound had come I could hear a woman screaming. I started forwards to help only to find myself sitting up and awake in the glade once more. With a muttered word of thanks to the Anu for her vision I set off for Huntley hill, anxious to make it in time.

The vision proved to be uncannily accurate. Not long after night fell, with the moon half-full and risen I heard fighting ahead of me. I hurried down as quickly as I was able in the dark woods and with flame and sword quickly dispatched three of the bandits that the hound was pursuing. The dog then led me back to where the screams of a woman could be heard. In the midst of a crude campsite two more men were set about raping the poor woman. The hound and I caught them unawares but neither of us was about to show such men any quarter. Curiously, soon after the fight was over one of the werewolves made its way cautiously into the clearing. It took no threatening action, a wise move as I was only too ready to send it join the brigands in the next life, but instead merely asked after the situation. I told it that this was not its business and it meekly departed, neck bent in submission, promising not to interfere.

Nevertheless I kept a careful eye out lest it or its fellows were lurking thereabouts as I tried to ascertain from the woman what had happened. It seems that she was the wife of a merchant and their wagon had been attacked by the bandits. At her request and leaving the hound guarding her, I left to check the fate of her husband. Sadly it was as I had feared, he had been slain. She was naturally upset by the news but strong enough to make it to the priory at Huntley Wold under my escort. I asked her not to mention the flames that she had seen me cast and wield on my sword and she agreed. After watching to make sure that she was safely admitted, I slipped back into the forest and made my way back to the covenant with the hound trotting alongside me.

Once returned to the covenant, I was able to cast 'The Tongue of the Beasts' from our Spell Library and speak with him. His name is indeed Drudhwil and he hunts those who are deserving of death. After I explained about what it meant to become a familiar he readily agreed. I was naturally delighted by this as I feel sure that he and I will form a fast bond, and I look forward to hunting with him. As the season drew to a close this happiness was not even tempered by the knowledge that I will be spending the warm summer days cooped up in my laboratory extracting vim vis once more.

Summer

The night before the summer council meeting Theo finally returned. Although he was tired and hungry as is often the case following one of his journeys in the spirit realm, he looked noticeably different this time. Something about his profile, his face, had definitely changed though there was not one single thing that I could put my finger on. I was not the only one to notice this. At the council meeting the following day, Cormoran demanded to see Theo's sigil to confirm his identity, which Theo duly demonstrated. When asked to explain his sudden disappearance Theo said that he had had a unique and urgent opportunity to go to the land of the dead, which if missed, might not come again. He then went on to talk a little about what he saw there, though as is often the case with Theo these days I am sure there is much that he can not or will not divulge. The land of the dead apparently consists of two parts, separated by a cold river. The first is a dark, misty forest where the lost spirits wander and the other is a bright land of green fields and high mountains.

Theo said that he was searching there for some of his lost bardic memories and it was the acquisition of these that has altered his appearance. When pressed on this subject by first Medius and then Dialectica, Theo explained that the bardic bloodline had been sundered but is now rejoined. Seeing that this did not clarify things, he went on to tell the story of Gwynbach and the origin of the bards, though to be honest while it was a fine tale I for one was not left any clearer. In any event Theo says that this bloodline is now widespread though he has never met any other sharing it, even his father. The opportunity that he had been presented with was an open pathway to the doorkeeper of the Lands of the dead, Gwyn-ap-Nudd.

At this point, perhaps tiring of stories, Dialectica proposed a motion of Delictum and two season's service as penalty. This was however rejected by the council by four votes to three, with Dialectica, Medius and Theo voting for and myself, Cormoran, Tiarnan and Alefwin voting against. Medius will remain Ministrator despite this as Dialectica did not put that post up to vote.

With the issue of Theo's absence resolved Medius announced that the infernal activity near Carrion Moor may not be the Fells as had been first suspected but rather a separate group of diabolists. They have been linked to a black sailed ship seen in Plymouth and Southampton that is crewed mostly by men from the Levant, at least two of who are moors. Magus DuCamp has uncovered signs of a battle between the ship's crew and Fells in Southampton. Although there was a master present on the Fells' side, it appears that they lost and DuCamp found the body of a Fell that had been preternaturally aged. A message from the crew has also been intercepted, written in Arabic, it revealed that they are seeking a magical astrolabe, a device that can be used to track the movement of the stars. This obviously raises suspicions that the Renounced Magus Caelestis is involved for he was a noted astrologer and it was Southampton where he was last seen. This raises clear concerns for as well as knowing the covenant and its surrounds well, from my readings of the journal it seems this traitorous wizard, although a Bonisagus, had some skill with auram and was capable of casting the Incantation of Lightning. Medius now wonders whether the two diabolists who he observed on his travels in southeast England were part of this coven. His investigations into local diabolists would seem to be of even greater import now.

There was then a brief discussion on Caelestis's ability to predict the future and the suggestion that the coven might be receiving information from a traitor within the Order. Quite how this came about now escapes me, though I cannot but help remember Cormoran's preposterous and insulting suggestion that given their speed of movement and knowledge of covenants the traitor was likely to be a member of House Mercere! Thankfully more diplomatic voices than mine set him straight quickly as to that House's dedication and the talk moved on to what action we can take ourselves. Of covenant services, Medius is to scry on the local Fells, while Theo will travel to Monmouth to spread positive stories about this place and the woods. He will also attempt to find out Baron Martin's plans for Lydney and get the measure of his son.

A week after the start of the season a cartload of spell tomes arrived from Solis Castle, the fruits of a deal made at the last tribunal, though we have yet to make good our side of the bargain.

Soon afterwards Medius returned to the covenant with ill news from his investigations in Huntley. Not only were he and his companions robbed by a group of four brigands on the road north of Monmouth, but when he attempted to investigate the manor house in Huntley he was spotted and in the ensuing hue and cry his consortis Giovanni was captured. On his return an emergency council meeting was swiftly convened as Medius related the events that had befallen him. The danger was clear, if the knight at Huntley is indeed a Fell as we fear, then he cannot be allowed to interrogate Giovanni for he is privy to many of this covenant's defences and plans. From our discussions it quickly became clear that we had two options, a subtle approach to obtain an arcane connection to Giovanni's cell and apport him out in some way or a more martial approach involving storming the manor house. I was content to back the subtle plan, saving the attack as a back-up should all go wrong. I have had enough experience with local nobles to be cautious of risking a breach of the primary code once again.

Happily Aelfwin, in the guise of a craftsman peddling his wares was able to get a rough layout of where Giovanni was being held and even obtain two arcane connections within the house. Archimaga Gariana, who had kindly answered our request for assistance, was then able to enter the house and apport Giovanni to safety, leaving behind a simulacrum of his corpse to fool his captors. Although sorely wounded from the clash that resulted in his capture, Giovanni had not yet been interrogated so for that at least we must be thankful. On a related note, after speaking with Medius I was able to track down the bandits who had waylaid him and his companions and ensure that they will never again assail a magus or anyone else.

A month into the season another emergency council meeting was called, this time by Theo, to discuss what he had learnt about Lydney. The Baron of Monmouth is content to leave it as a grave, but the Baron of Chepstow has appealed to the Earl to let him buy Lydney and the rich farmland surrounding it to settle when Wollaston is rebuilt. The Baron of Monmouth plans to oppose such a request but said that he needs to produce a taxable revenue from the land if he is to convince the Earl to allow him to keep it. As such, he has offered the lands to Theo, in his role as Knight of Briavel. There was a lengthy discussion about whether taking on this undertaking was a good idea and how we might produce a revenue from the land without seeing it settled by more than a handful of peasants. The conclusion we reached was that with a mixture of small farms and orchards, there need be naught but a small riverside hamlet and scattered farmsteads. This seemed satisfactory to everyone so it was agreed that Theo will accept the Baron's offer. Theo brought back other significant mundane news. It seems that war is brewing with France once more. With the inevitable higher taxes and levy that will bring, we will have to keep a careful eye on the covenant's finances until it is over.

Of more concern, to me at least, was the news that the werewolves who dwell near Mynnyd Myrddyn may have taken Lionel of Skenfrith, leaving that castle without a knight or clear heir. Theo has been tasked to investigate the disappearance by the Baron of Monmouth so he left with a "retinue" of four grogs to travel to that place. The sooner we can obtain a replacement for Turold's item that was able to ward away these devious and malicious creatures the better. Then I shall hunt down every last cursed one of them.

Autumn

If my writing here is unclear, it is not because the palsy that the Morrigan afflicted me with has returned, nay, my hand is still shaking with rage following our autumnal concillium. I still cannot believe the decision the council has reached. Theo had returned from his investigations having found Sir Lionel and restoring him to his castle. Yet this was far from the happy ending that it might have appeared to the mundanes. Our initial fears about Lionel having been taken by the werewolves were correct and he had been infected with their curse in order to give them control over their local knight. So now we have a werewolf ruling from Skenfrith castle!!! When Theo went to seek out Lionel in the woods he was first approached by the previous knight, who had also been infected but had been declared dead. With the wolf spirits about, Theo was rightly reluctant to invite him to join his campfire and attempted to leave. At this point two figures approached him, the Grandfather wolf and the pack leader. There was some discussion about the rights of the werewolves to take these actions before Theo somehow invoked "Jack of the Green". This entity is apparently extremely powerful in the woods, indeed Theo referred to it as a God on more than one occasion. After hearing both sides of the debate jack of the Green ruled in favour of the werewolves being allowed to set the now cursed Lionel back as knight of Skenfrith. The werewolves' argument was crafty, claiming that all they wanted to do was protect the woods and prevent any tree felling. They said that with Lionel in place they would thenceforth lay low and trouble no one. Theo says that they also swore that they would send no more bloodwolves and would not attack any from the covenant again. Theo claimed that this "Jack of the Green" spirit will hold the werewolves to this promise, though our history of dealings with these duplicitous creatures suggests that he will have to be extremely vigilant. Naturally enough a vote was then called to decide whether we should honour our side of this bargain and cease any hostile actions against the werewolves until they break faith. To my astonishment and no little anger the vote went 4 to 1 in favour of this treaty of non-aggression being honoured, with mine beking the only dissenting vote and Cormoran abstaining. If it has been closer I would have used certamen but with such a majority there was little chance of that succeeding. Men will die because of this decision, but when the werewolves break the deal, and break it they will, I will make them pay.

Following this debate, Dialectica appointed Theo Legationis with respect to the local nobility and asked him to negotiate a tithe for Lydney. Although he is my closest friend, I can only pray that he shows better judgment when dealing with nobles than he does with werewolves and pagan spirits.

Some three weeks later, a delegation of faeries arrived at the covenant bearing our terram vis. One of these was the fey called Turold and I took the opportunity to question him on what he remembered of his previous existence as a magus. Although he clearly has some memories, they seem to be sketchy and vague, so it seems we will never know just how deeply involved in the Renounced Magus Ruaridh's treachery Turold was.

Astrius's private journal

Theo came to me one evening later in the season speaking of a vision he had had in which he was killed by Ieuan, the gifted son of the Renounced Magus Idris. In this foretelling Theo died because he was unable to defend himself without his sword. Theo asked for his sword back, I was naturally reluctant to return it to him but agreed to go with him to the Heart of the Forest to see if the Anu could give me any guidance on this issue. As I had done the previous year when seeking Drudwhil, I leant back against the tree and after falling asleep in the warm sunshine was granted a vision. The vision was set in Wales, somewhere in the Cambrian mountains I think, and I could see three fell figures, a growling red-eyed wolf, a tall hermetic magus with pale hands but an obscured face, and a black-clad figure with a sword burning with a sickly green flame. Facing them was Theo, yet he looked still more different and intriguingly reminded me of someone else, though who exactly I have not been able to put my finger on. The black-clad figure, who I assume was Ieuan, attacked Theo who made to draw his sword but it was not there and before he could do anything else Ieuan ran him through and left him lifeless on the mountainside. As the vision faded I heard the Anu's voice in my head telling me that this vision was something that might happen if things continued as there were.

Naturally I was gravely concerned by this and in spite of my suspicions regarding the Pagan gods or spirits, whatever they may be, I do find myself trusting the Anu. I was still however loathe to return the sword to Theo. I can see him being drawn ever deeper into the schemes of the Morrigan and this quest of his to regain "his" bardic memories and become High King. I know Theo better than anyone, though I am increasingly wondering if I should say I knew Theo better than anyone for each time we have a deep conversation about what exactly he is involved in he tells me still more secrets and freely admits that there is more than he "cannot" tell me. I fear for him and while I would not see him slain for want of a weapon, a blade forged by the Morrigan containing the spirit of a magus who forsook his oath to follow her warped and twisted aims cannot be anything save a corrupting influence upon him.

In the end, after a long and intense debate, I promised that I would return the sword to him if he would first swear an oath on all that he held sacred and true that he would not break his Oath. To my unease Theo seemed extremely reluctant to make such a vow. Reasoning that he was concerned about breaking it through a minor technical or accidental infringement I asked instead that he swear not to break the spirit of the Oath. Although he seemed a little easier with this he nevertheless declined and to my shock proposed that he would instead swear on our friendship that if I returned the sword he would not break the spirit of the Oath. Somewhat taken aback and in truth a little aggrieved by this I agreed. I would like to say that I implicitly trust my friend in all things but as we walked back through the green woods I had a strong foreboding that the friendship that we share and that I thought would last for as long as we both lived will now end much sooner. Having specifically requested such a vow, if Theo breaks it then we can no longer be friends, much as that will grieve me. So it was with a heavy heart that I returned the sword to him shortly after we returned to the covenant.


A couple of days before the end of the season Dialectica returned from her house meeting, but news from that will have to wait for the next chronicler for I am now to bury myself in my laboratory for one year in order to bind Drudwhil as my familiar. Obviously my absence for such a length of time means that I cannot fulfill my duties as Imperator and I informed the Pontifex of this. Now Cormoran will have the role he so desperately craves I just hope that the jealousy that poisoned his actions towards me will fade so that I can trust him once more.

Scribed by Theo

Winter


I must admit to some trepidation to writing this journal after my long absence as so much has changed since last I wrote here. Hence I will ask the readers pardon if my usually more loquacious style is missing from these pages.

After his period as acting-Pontifex, Medius was I think a little relieved (as I know I was) when Dialectica returned. Having the responsibility for the entire covenant on one's shoulders can be quite a burden. However with Dialectica's return this council had, for a short while, a full complement of Magi. The Pontifex told us little of the affairs of her House meeting, as in truth we would probably understand less than half of the theories discussed. She did state that the House of Bonisagus had agreed to back the Quaesitori's vote for an investigation into the pagan members of the Order - this vote will take place in two years time, in 1163, at the next Grand Tribunal meeting.

After this interesting news Astrius announced that he was to start binding his familiar-to-be, Drudwyl, and as such would be absent from the council for the next year. We all wished him the best of luck and I for one look forward to seeing them together later next year. Astrius also stepped down as Imperator as he could hardly carry out his duties whilst binding his familiar. Cormoran, as the only candidate, was subsequently voted into that position. Let us hope that this will finally settle Cormoran's obvious jealousy with Astrius and that he can work without any further rancour at Council.

I then made report concerning my investigation and discoveries concerning the werewolves of Mynydd Myddyn and Sir Edwin of Skinfrith. It seems that they lured Sir Edwin away with dreams of his lost elder brother, these dreams bade Edwin to seek his brother in the woods. After an initially fruitless search he eventually searched in the woods during the full moon and was lost to his village. The werewolves plan, was to infect him and have one of their own in a position of power. As I expect Astrius reported in his writing of the journal before me - they succeeded in their aim. They have sworn to Jak'o'the'Forest (also known as 'Jak in the Green') that they will do nothing to anger of disturb the locals, also that they forswear their vengeance against those werewolves in our forest. How long this will hold them I have no idea, but it buys us some further breathing room.

For our seasons work: Tiarnan will scribe some of his knowledge of and adventures in the Fae regio to the Fae Lore texts; Medius will study from the Vim books; Dialectica will study the mentem vis; Cormoran was about his own business outside the covenant; Aelfwin was to study the intellego books and I was to learn more of the Welsh language. Finally Dialectica announced that she would be taking Aedden as her apprentice.

Later that season the redcap Loretius arrived with letters for both Astrius and Tiarnan, as well as other news. It seems that Henry Plantagenet, of Anjou, is going to invade England. England is divided over how to deal with this, with many Marcher Lords unable to attend the English muster due to a potential 'Welsh iprising'. Hence we are warned that travelling next year may be dangerous, with so many armed men abroad.

Tiarnan later told us that his letter was from Archi-Maga Sylvania, reporting that due to the possibility of war early next year they intended to sail for the meeting of House Merinita before the end of Winter. Tiarnan therefore declared that he would be extracting vim vis for the rest of the season available to him.

It was only a few days later that a lone traveller arrived at the covenant, with a message for Medius from Magus Tostig. It seems that his sanctum had been breached and that he wants this act investigated. With Medius busy and Winter not the best time to travel, Medius decided to investigate this early next year. At about the same time Cormoran left Blackney with Dermot, Robert, Wif and Henry to go and investigate the Fae regio.
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