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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1170 AD


Although last year had brought grim tidings, the new year began more positively with the return of Aelfwin, who happily reported that his researches with his pater Erin had gone well. Such research promises much and with luck we here shall be able to benefit greatly from it. Theo had less promising news, reporting that his investigations had revealed that the Grandfather Wolf was even better protected in the Otherworld than in the real one, so it seems that avenue of attack, our only one given the recent vote, is now closed to us. Furthermore, the Huntley werewolves have told him that their watchers have seen no sign of any spies from Mynydd Myrddyn, though they did hear the wingbeat of a raven. This Theo says means that the Morrigan is definitely involved and that the Mynydd Myrddyn werewolves are likely to think that they're being hunted and so may not attack. Theo claimed that this meant we would be able to broker a peace deal with them. Given his statements last Autumn about the werewolves being likely to launch a pre-emptive attack, fearing what we might do to them first, this seems somewhat contradictory to me. 'Tis true that werewolves have the mentality of wolves and thus are brave when they are the hunters but cowardly when they are the hunted, but while the Morrigan threatens, who is actually doing the hunting here? If we are agreed not to attack, then who is making them fearful and eager to seek a peace once more? While I am ever eager to see the Morrigan's works thwarted, if we remove the one thing that Theo says is cowing them then how does that help keep the peace?

Theo suggested that we could try to invoke the Anu to counter the Morrigan and thus, to his mind at least, avert a war. After another contentious debate, Theo proposed that we should plant the acorns we receive from the Anu's oak in the Heart of the Forest in the Mynydd Myrddyn forest instead of our own. By invoking the power of the Anu, it will remove the malign influence of the Morrigan He says that this should show Jack of the Green and the werewolves that we genuinely seek peace. The logic of this seems shaky at best to me, but the council thought otherwise, voting 3 to 2 in favour of the motion, with Theo, Tiarnan and Aelfwin for, myself and Cormoran against and Medius abstaining. As such the fulfilment of the plan will have to await the autumn when the acorns are ripe, we moved on to our seasonal activities. Cormoran shall study some personal vis, I will read further on the nature of werewolves, Medius shall study the Imagonem books, Tiarnan will undertake a personal enchantment, Aelfwin will extract vim vis for the covenant and Theo will journey to Cad Gadu to try and obtain a sixth magnitude copy of Ward Against Beasts of Legend and if possible persuade someone to enchant such an effect into an item for us.

Summer

Theo began our Summer meeting with excellent news. Not only had he been allowed to copy a sixth magnitude copy of Ward Against Beasts of Legend for free, but he had also struck a deal with Maga Cara who will create an item enchanted with such an effect for a tome containing the sum of Viremos' knowledge on werewolves. As a copy of such a tome would be invaluable to our own library this seems like an extremely good outcome. My spirits were much raised after this, for now it seems that if the efforts to reforge the pact with the werewolves fail, as I sus[ect they will, then we will finally have the means to safely prosecute a war to exterminate them once and for all.

There was no other news of note to report from the other magi regarding Spring so we proceeded with our individual plans for summer. Theo will travel to his holding at Skenfrith and from there, on to the Welsh court once more, Tiarnan will again journey to the fey regio as is his wont during midsummer, Cormoran will read from Corlear's notes, Aelfwin will teach his apprentice, Medius will extract vis for himself and I shall study from the last three pawns of animal vis.

As this was the last of our reserves of this form of vis, I asked Cormoran about the deal struck between the covenant and his amicus, whereby in return for access to our forest and the magical animals within it, not to mention supplies and the construction of a warm cottage to live in, he would endeavour to provide us with a regular supply of magical hares. However, after 5 years we have yet to receive a single animal. Cormoran was his usual evasive self when pressed on why we have had nothing and instead of vowing to make good the deal, tried to distract us with the prospect of a pawn a month when he has been able to establish his own source of magical food. Although this would obviously be very welcome, it was impressed upon him that he should speak with his amicus on this matter and he promised to do so. I hope he does so, for if he thinks that I will let his amicus renege on his side of the deal he is very much mistaken. Nor should he forget that he is still excordis as a result of his previous deceits.

As it turned out, Cormoran's amicus was to have more pressing matters than his failure to honour our deal. A few weeks into the season a slight faerie bearing a sword a good head bigger than he, who went by the name of Jack, met Robert and Edward in the woods near the giant's cottage. He told them that he was a giant killer and that he was hunting a giant who he had tracked to this area. After some discussion, Robert and Edward managed to persuade him that the giant was hunting in the forest but they didn't know where so while the faerie set about trying to find Cormoran's amicus, they were able to make it to the covenant to warn Cormoran. Cormoran came at once to me to inform me of this threat to his amicus and while I would not wish to interfere with any magus' right to fully defend his amicus, given Cormoran's excordis status I thought it best we brought the matter before the Pontifex, who in turn called an emergency council meeting. After some long discussion about what constituted legitimate defence and what could be construed as molesting the fey, Cormoran was given two potions imbued with the Leap of Homecoming and he left to fetch his amicus within the Aegis of the Hearth.

Meanwhile, Jack had made his way to Blackney where he displayed some preternatural acrobatic skills in leaping to the watchtower and threatening one of the grogs at sword point. Having learnt that Cormoran dwelt at the covenant he then set off in our direction. The sergeant at Blackney sent a swift grog after him to bring message of what had happened and despite Jack's head start she arrived first. The covenant was immediately put on full alert and it was not long before we felt the Aegis of the Hearth resist something. From what one of the grogs saw it seems likely that this was Jack attempting to vault the walls in search of his prey. Unfortunately there was no sight of the fey himself, despite Cormoran's rash shouts to the faerie to come and have a go, which risked being construed as an invitation, though the faerie did not attempt further egress. Instead the creature replied with an arrow shot, which was also repelled by the Aegis of the Hearth. The arrow had a message on it, a challenge no less, from Jack to Cormoran, to meet him in three nights time to do battle in the forest near his amicus' abode. There then followed another emergency council, this time somewhat more tempestuous as Medius told Cormoran that given his excordis status he could not legally meet Jack's challenge, despite Cormoran's strong desire to do so.

After much argument, it was agreed that Cormoran would not be permitted to leave the covenant to meet this challenge, but would be allowed to leave with his amicus to hunt for the magical hares that sustain them. Interestingly, given his earlier prevarication about how long it took for his father to track down these magical hares, when asked how long they would need outside the Aegis to hunt, he said just one week. In any event, as I put quill to parchment, the two of them are off gallivanting round the woods hunting the hares. Despite all that lies he has told and the frustration and anger that he has caused me, I hope that no harm comes to him at the hands of this faerie. He is after all still my sodales, and if the fey strike at him then they will discover that vengeance is a trait not unique to their kind.

Autumn

With Tiarnan returned from the fey regio the council room was full as we met at the start of autumn. Our Merinitan had interesting news relating to the fey creature calling itself Jack the Giant Killer. He met Sir Turold at the Nynniaw's court on Midsummer's Eve and learnt from him that Sir Turold had worked with Gofynwy to forge a greatsword enchanted with magicks to slay giants. This was in revenge for the defeats Cormoran inflicted upon those two faeries during his service with the Erechwyth. Sir Turold also told Tiarnan that the court of stone had captured and "remade" the Palug, presumably giving him the sword too. Given their past animosity it was not surprising, though still somewhat disappointing, that Tiarnan made no attempt to Sir Turold to call off his assassin, especially given how dangerous he believes the sword will be to Cormoran.

Cormoran, clearly not happy with what he had heard, suggested there would have to be a mortal involved for the fey to able to change the Palug from the court of ice to the court of stone. Tiarnan did not disagree, though he didn't have any ideas as to who the mortal might be. Fortunately discussion moved on quickly as to how we might best deal with this threat before any hasty accusations were made and the fragile truce between Cormoran and Tiarnan broken once more. We will however need to find the mortal behind all this and deal with him quickly. It was to clear, to me at least, that by far the most efficient way of removing the threat to Cormoran was to lure out Jack and slay him. If we then take the sword, but do not break his corpse down for vis, then he will not be permanently dead and will henceforth pose little danger to our sodales, yet will remain alive. Naturally Tiarnan preferred a less martial approach, suggesting instead that Cormoran make individual reparations to both Sir Turold and Gofynwy to fix the problem. Cormoran was surprisingly amenable to this approach and said that he will travel to Lear Valley to seek Archimagus Jolyon's wisdom as to how he might treat with the court of stone.

The discussion then turned to a broader threat, the werewolves and what precisely Theo will do with the acorns from the Heart of the Forest. His initial plan was to just plant them in a circle in a clearing just inside the forest's edge, shed some of his blood and invoke the Anu. After a lengthy debate as to both the safety and wisdom of this, he retired for a short while to speak his owl about Jack of the Green. Emyr, the talking magical owl in question, had been sent to advise him on such matters some years ago by a pagan spirit, I forget which one. When he returned to the table he told us what he had learnt. Jack of the Green is apparently a creature of the wild woods and is antagonistic to man and "spirits of man" like the Anu and the Morrigan. This means that he will probably be set against the ritual to invoke the Anu, even if it works and removes the Morrigan's influence. One alternative to the proposed ritual would be to persuade the Nynniaw to act as a mediator 'twixt the covenant and the werewolves, though this would leave us with little control as to the exact nature of any deal made which makes it clearly unacceptable. Another option would be to do a deal with Nynniaw to get him to reveal one of the secret paths through the forest that could lead us quickly and silently to where the Grandfather Wolf dwells. Once there we could slay him before he can summon any spirits to protect him. Given that the pack leader is likely to be acting as his bodyguard, we could thus effectively end the conflict in one fell swoop. Aelfwin suggested that such talk of killing was Morrigan-inspired, which unsurprisingly sparked a further argument about who exactly he thought was under her influence. Certainly my position with regard to the werewolves is clear and has been so for many years, as a perusal of this journal will show, not the result of any such pagan witchery and malign influence. After tempers had cooled somewhat, Medius restated his concern about placing our faith in pagan spirits, which while certainly not invalid, seems somewhat hypocritical given his willingness to place his fate in the hands of his Jewish God in the Levant. Eventually concillium decided on an alternative and more hermetic course of action. Medius will travel to Lear Valley to speak with Maga Raeriania of House Bjornaer about acting as a mediator with the werewolves. Although Cormoran is already going to Lear Valley to speak with Jordael, Tiarnan pointed out that he is not the best person to carry out any delicate talks, given his current official "witless" status.

Although the two of them were now set on heading up to the same covenant, Medius refused to travel with his sodales until he could be assured that Cormoran had adequate supplies of magical hare meat to suppress his cannibalistic urges. Cormoran went to speak to his amicus to see if he could find him some hares. Lo and behold, next day he had three hares to see him through the season. Clearly his amicus has plenty of spare hares or can catch them with little difficulty, yet still we have been given none. If this failure and blatant and deliberate faithlessness persists I will have no option but to raise further sanction against Cormoran and there is only one sanction still remaining, given his current excordis status.

Autumn passed quietly and largely uneventfully, with nothing else of note occurring until my sodales returned from their travels in the North of England shortly before the season's end. First, Cormoran told us what advice the Archimagus had given him on his predicament. Jolyon travelled to the court of stone to speak with the Gofannon and was able to confirm much of what Tiarnan had said. To make amends, Cormoran will have to carefully submit to Sir Turold, retrieve some of the mushrooms taken from the Palug's glade and give something of great value to Gofynwy. The identity of the mortal involved remains unclear as all the Archimagus could learn was that he was a mysterious stranger from Hibernia. We discussed the matter, but with little realistic chance of Cormoran being able to safely fulfil these requirements, no decision was reached.

Medius then spoke of what Maga Raeriana had said. Based on what she was told of our dealings with the Mynydd Myrddyn werewolves, she thought it unlikely that the werewolves would raise bloodwerewolves against us and that they are unlikely to attack us unless we enter their territory. She also thinks that while it would be difficult to persuade them of our sincere intent it may not be impossible to strike a new deal with them. Raeriana added that she would be willing to negotiate such a pact on our behalf, for the princely sum of half a queen of vis! She apparently has some urgent need of vis for she will travel down here in a few weeks to learn of our decision. Given the previous biased actions of her filius I was markedly unenthusiastic about backing such a deal and given the size of her payment there was some debate about whether it was worth it. Eventually Aelfwin put an end to the matter by saying that he would pay the vis out of his own personal supplies.

As the council returned to considering the Anu ritual and how this might best fit in with Maga Raeriana's entreaties, tempers flared once more as Aelfwin restated his belief that opinions of some of the magi at council were being influenced by the Morrigan. With myself and Cormoran continuing to back a martial solution to the werewolf problem, this was clearly aimed at us and naturally was vehemently contested. Sensing the anger that he had raised by such statements, Aelfwin moved matters swiftly to a vote on whether we should go ahead with the ritual to invoke the Anu. Tiarnan, Aelfwin, Theo and I voted in favour, with Cormoran and Medius against. There was then a further vote as to whether to perform the ritual before Raeriana's visit. The same four of us voted in favour, with Cormoran against and Medius abstaining. There then followed yet another contentious and lengthy debate as to who should best go and perform this ritual. Theo did not help matters by seeming to change his advice as the debate drew on, but eventually it was agreed that Theo, Tiarnan and I would travel down to Ysgywd Fawr and from there just Theo and Tiarnan would proceed on into the woods to enact the ritual. Apparently my hostile feelings towards the wolves would hinder the ritual or some such, though quite how escapes me.

With a decision finally taken council was brough to an end and the three of us headed down to Blackney to pick up Diarmuid, who knows the exact site where Conrad died. Diarmuid has never been the most enthusiastic or loyal of men, but seems that living in Blackney has corrupted him still further and he initially refused to go with us. As I was rebuking him for such disgraceful disloyalty, Cormoran's amicus, who was surly and drunk in demeanour, strode over to where we were arguing and threatened me. Were he not an amicus I would have taken measures there and then, but as it stood my hands were somewhat tied and in the end, with Theo having bribed Diarmuid with the sum of 10d, we left with our man. I shall not however forget the actions of either man. If Diarmuid thinks he can continue receiving food and fair pay for service to this covenant and yet refuse to journey forth with us when called, then he is in for a shock as such will not be tolerated while I am Imperator.

The journey to Skenfrith on board the barge was uneventful, though the bargeman's incessant prattling was somewhat wearing after a while. Beyond that town, on the road to Ysgywd Fawr that skirts the edge of the forest we saw the first sign of what lay ahead. Lying in the dirt was a dead wolf pup with a raven pecking out its eyes. The symbology of this sight was obvious even to me. That night as we camped, a few hours after dark we heard a wolf howl. Since binding Drudwhil I can understand the language of beasts and could make out the wolf warning the rest of his pack that 'he' came, with the fire sorcerer and others. As I peered out into the darkness I saw a pair of yellow eyes off in the forest. I then realised to my horror that the eyes were at least seven feet off the ground. Was this a bloodwolf? Would the sixth magnitude ward that Tiarnan had put up hold against such beast? As I strained my vision to try and confirm my fears I was distracted for a moment by one of our group and lost sight of the beast. Try as I might I could not see anything else, but no attack was forthcoming, so after a long wait the others went to sleep again while Theo and I kept watch.

Maybe an hour or so later, Tiarnan suddenly leapt to his feet shouting that his parma was being assailed. Fearing an attack by wolf spirits controlled by the Grandfather wolf, Theo stretched his sight into the Otherworld and I conjured flames about my sword. Sure enough, as Theo looked over to Tiarnan he could see savage bestial spirits crowding about him. A vociferous argument then ensued 'twixt Theo and these spirits, though we could only hear Theo's words. The wolf spirits apparently refused to believe that we were on a peaceful mission and stated categorically that if we so much as stepped beneath the boughs of the trees then it would be treated as an act of aggression. Typically, they attempted to persuade Theo to come alone and unarmed to speak with them, but thankfully my sodales now knows how untrustworthy these creatures are now and he declined. He did however ask for some guarantee of his safety if he were to attempt such, suggesting an oath or exchange of hostages, but this too was refused. As the aim of our journey was to seal a peace not start a war we were left at something of an impasse. Tiarnan came up with one possible solution by offering Theo his cloak of flying so that he could fly swiftly to a far part of the forest and enact the ritual before the wolves could get there. Theo was unsure as to whether this was a viable plan, given the potential threat from Jack of the Green, who Theo said could potentially appear anywhere within the forest in an instant, so he once more called on his owl, Emyr, for advice. After some debate with his avian advisor and then another interminable argument about whether it was worth Theo risking his life to forge a peace deal with the werewolves, we decided to return back to the covenant without any further action.

Once back home, I learnt that the Magus Lauretius had visited the covenant while we were away, bringing an urgent plea for help from Narwold covenant, which has been assailed by vampiric spirits that possess the bodies of the slain. Although thus far no magi have fallen, the magi of Narwold are afeared that they might not be able to hold out and have sent a plea to the magi of the tribunal for help. Naturally, with the leave of the Pontifex at the forthcoming concillium, I shall travel there to offer what aid I can.

Lauretius also brought troubling news from the Dean. It seems that recently there have been a series of attacks on local tax convoys. Lauretius investigated these and found that the bodies of the slain guards and collectors had no marks on them. Given the uncanny similarities to the actions of Guyere some years back, this sounds uncannily like the work of the Fells.

Winter

With much to discuss, we met again as formal council. The meeting began with an explanation of what had occurred with the werewolves of Mynydd Myrrdyn and whether it would be worth paying Raeriania to strike a pact if the Morrigan's influence was not removed. Theo thought that given the strength of her influence, it would not be worthwhile. While I was not in favour of the deal to start with, I was somewhat confused as to how a so-called "spirit of man" could influence a spirit of the wild like Jack of the Green, given Theo's previous pronouncements on the subject. Maybe I am misunderstanding what he says but I could swear that their interrelationships change every time they are discussed. Anyway, Theo will now check and see if he can use the Myrddyn stone to change into a bird and then fly undetected into the forest to enact the ritual. We agreed that he should do this and then return to the council, thus the meeting was adjourned. After a short absence, Theo came back saying that flying as a bird would conceal his true identity to all but the most powerful watchers so he was confident enough to attempt the ritual.

With the details of the Anu ritual finally agreed, Tiarnan wisely reminded us that we have not yet investigated the ruined tower that we believe the diabolists who guard Snigs End come from. Although we agreed that this is very important, events at Narwold and the werewolves must take immediate priority, though it is vital that we do not forget about this, especially given Lauretius's warning. Tiarnan then admitted to having failed in his duties as Ministrator to arrange for the collection of the ignem vis in Autumn. Cormoran will travel there this season to see if we can still harvest that vis.

I then stated my desire to journey to Narwold to assist that covenant and was given permission to leave the covenant, taking whatever potions and grogs I needed with me. With that the meeting was done, save for yet another attempt by Cormoran to weasel out of fulfilling his amicus's bargain regarding the animal vis. The next day, I set off for Narwold, with detailed directions from Medius who has travelled to that covenant before. Drudhwil of course accompanied me, along with my consors Owain, a tracker and a grog, Cuthbert, who shares Theo's ability to be able to perceive spirits. Medius's directions were as good as he promised and the journey to the fenlands was relatively straightforward. Heading East past the town of Oxford, we then struck out NorthEast until we entered the marshlands and reached the town of Downham Market where Narwold has a man who acts as a point of contact for the covenant.

The next day as he led us out to the covenant I realised why they offer a guide to visitors, for the place was hard to spot amongst the mists. Taking care to heed the warnings about not leaving the path, we made our way towards the covenant's tall single tower. As we drew nearer, we could see that it was surrounded by a long wooden stockade that was in the process of being replaced by a stone curtain wall. Once we reached the gate, we were greeted by an edgy Fulgaria. Apparently the creatures sometimes attack from the road and she informed us once we had been ushered inside their Aegis of the Hearth that we were fortunate not to have been ambushed while travelling on the causeway.

Once inside, I found that I was the third magus to have answered Narwold's plea, with Magus DuCamp from Carrion Moor and Magus Constantine from Trevalga already present. Unfortunately Praefecta Orlania is currently outside the tribunal and Magus Fergus, the young Ex Miscellanian covenant member, is away at Cad Gadu checking through that covenant's vast libraries for any information that might help them. Alarmingly Narwold now has only six fighting men left.

Fulgaria swiftly briefed me on the nature of the foe. It seems that some of the creatures can breach their Aegis, even though it is of the seventh magnitude and as a result of such repeated attacks they have very few men left to guard the walls. As to how this all started, there seems to be no apparent cause that can be ascertained. It began nigh on a season ago when a patrol escorting a food wagon was attacked on the road. Three men were slain, though one other survived by hiding in a ditch. The dead bodies were subsequently brought within the Aegis to be investigated. They had died from claw wounds, though Intellego spells suggested that the claws did not belong to a beast, but a young woman. That night the three corpses rose up and attacked, slaying several coven folk and grogs before they were finally stopped. Those slain by the claws that had grown from the fingers of these undead were also to reanimate later, just as those who had slain them did. The magi of Narwold quickly realised this and the bodies of all the people slain by the creatures were burnt to prevent them rising. Apparently the purifying touch of fire will put a permanent end to them, as does decapitation.

The creatures are cunning and capable of sophisticated communication amongst themselves, though they do not speak. Although the message spoke of vampiric spirits, they do not drink the blood of their victims nor feast on their flesh. All they appear to be interested in is killing. Even those who manage to escape with just a wound, despite the creatures' preternatural strength and agility, do not survive. The claw wounds fester, even if purged with fire. The blood itself is infected with a spiritual sickness and the victims die within hours. They are unaffected by sunlight and attacks come just as often during the day as they do at night. They emerge from the marshes surrounding the covenant, but the boggy ground makes it nigh on impossible to track them back to their starting point. Hermetic illusions are useless against them for they ignore illusionary guards set on the walls as decoys and head unerring for living prey. They even have some sense of magi hidden with the veil of invisibility. Magus Constantine, who is a necromancer of sorts, says that in his experience they are a quite unique type of undead.

Then, even as Maga Fulgaria described the foe, the alarm bell went and a shout went up from the walls that three of the creatures had attacked the covenant, two of which had breached the Aegis. Fulgaria, DuCamp and I rushed outside at once, with Drudwhil of course, as well as my two grogs. We tried to corner one of the creatures in a barn, but it was too quick and agile and we were forced to make pursuit between a gap in the houses near the walls. As we pursued, it became clear that it was attempting to lure us in to a trap whereby the second one could catch us from behind. It almost worked but we were able to spot the second one just in time and a furious fight then ensued. The creatures were every bit as terrifyingly quick and strong as Fulgaria had described and I was lucky to escape with just a bruised rib from one vicious swipe of a claw. Thankfully my armour held and my skin was unbroken. DuCamp's sword appeared to do little serious harm to the one that he and I fought, and even with the Blade of Virulent Flame cast upon my blade it was much less effective than I had hoped. But between us we were strong enough to be able to slay it. Fulgaria meanwhile managed to fend off the one she battled for long enough to get a spell off, incinerating it almost completely once she managed to do so.

Cuthbert, who had been watching events in the Otherworld, reported that after the bodies had been destroyed spirits rose up from them and floated off back into the marsh. Meanwhile, Constantine investigated the now headless, but otherwise largely intact, corpse that remained. Apparently the man had died of drowning years ago, though the body had not decayed as much as would be expected. The eyes were white and filmy, clearly blind, confirming that they perceive the world through preternatural means, mayhap as Theo and Cuthbert can see things in the Otherworld? Constantine thinks that the claws allow part of the spiritual essence of whatever foul thing animates the corpses to enter a victim's blood. As such, normal hermetic potions to counter diseases are likely to be useless.

Fulgaria explained that not all the creatures are as powerful. The ones that generally attack during the day are weaker and cannot usually penetrate the Aegis, nor are their claws as sharp. She also mentioned that despite the grave situation the covenant was in, Magus Sallius has refused to even keep watch, preferring instead to carry on with his studies in his laboratory. It seems that that cur Madoc's selfishness and disloyalty may be shared by others members of his house.

The next morning, with Fulgaria and I set to defend the walls, Arcturus and DuCamp sallied out to investigate the nearby villages to see if they had been attacked or whether the attacks were solely directed against the covenant. Shortly after noon, Owain's kite, Araf, a magical, if haughty, bird that possesses the power of speech, reported that he could see two more of the creatures coming across the marsh to attack. As I watched, I saw that they were not walking through the marsh, but striding along on top of the water. Cuthbert also reported that he could see a dark miasma about their bodies. As soon as they came within a hundred paces of the walls, Fulgaria and I began to conjure bolts of flame against them. Yet although we were able to slay them both before they got within thirty paces of the covenant it took repeated strikes to bring each of them down. They were certainly tougher than the blood werewolves that I have faced before.

Fortunately there were no more attacks that day and Arcturus and DuCamp returned shortly before dark. The two magi reported grimly that the closest three villages were all deserted, though the villagers' belongings still remain, suggesting that they had been slain and reanimated as the creatures that plague Narwold. Arcturus plans to visit a town some two days away to see if that too has been afflicted. It is much more populous that the village, so if that has been overwhelmed then there will be a plentiful supply of bodies yet to be sent against us. The town also has a church, so if there are any survivors from the local villages then it is likely that they will have fled there to seek sanctuary.

Arcturus and DuCamp set out the next day and were gone for five days in total. In the meantime there were repeated attacks and a few more frightening moments when some of the creatures managed to get into the covenant again, but Fulgaria and I were able to slay them all between us. Arcturus had better news this time when he returned. The town has been unmolested and its inhabitants were unaware of the attacks on the villages. Accordingly, Arcturus seeded rumours about the town that there was plague in the villages. As well as keeping the populous out of danger, this ruse should also provide a plausible mundane explanation for the deserted villages when they are finally discovered.

A couple of days later, Araf, who had been sent out to scout the marsh from the air during the daytime, saw a small wood a league or so to the north of the covenant. He flew towards it and espied a silver-haired young woman standing just outside the treeline. Something about her spooked Araf and he believed that she somehow sensed that he was no ordinary bird so he flew swiftly away. After learning of this finding, Arcturus swiftly called a council meeting to discuss the news, with DuCamp, Constantine and I also invited. The wood in question is apparently little more than a large copse and nothing of note has ever been found there before, though Arcturus admitted that it has been nigh on twenty years since he had last investigated it. As I write this now I am forced to wonder if there are any such similar sites near Severn Temple and whether any similar evils might now lurk there. Given the probably rise in Fell activity we should conduct a search to be sure.

Of the woman that Araf had seen, nothing was known, though it seemed highly likely that she was the one behind the first attack back in autumn. Given that the ability of some of the creatures to breach the Aegis, if she is responsible then she must be a powerful enemy indeed. It was decided that she had to be dealt with and thus a force comprising DuCamp, Fulgaria, myself, Drudwhil, Owain, Cuthbert and a Narwold tracker who could lead us safely across the marsh was organised. There was of course the possibility, however unlikely, that she could be a member of the Order so we agreed on a simple strategy. On meeting her we would straight away announce ourselves to be members of the Order and if she did not immediately do likewise she would be slain.

We set off at first light the next morning, grim but determined. It took us a couple of hours to cross the marsh and reach our destination. Once there, Cuthbert reported that he could see the same dark miasma hanging like mist about the trees that he had seen surrounding the creatures. Drudwhil could also scent something foul about the place, growling that it stank of death. Nevertheless we pressed on and found a dell in the centre of the copse, with a cave entrance at the bottom. Fulgaria took the lead, with me following behind, then the grogs, with DuCamp guarding the rear. The entrance led down a narrow passageway perhaps twenty feet long before opening out into what can best be described as a torture chamber. There was a stained wooden table in the centre with an array of evil-looking knives set upon it. All around the rest of the room were hanging a variety of animal and human body parts.

As we entered we heard a female voice that seemed to come from out of nowhere mocking us and talking about the trouble we'd been having with "her children". Fulgaria challenged the speaker to come out and show herself, but she merely asked why we had come here. When Fulgaria stated that we had come to put an end to the threat to the covenant, there was a sudden blur of movement as a figure appeared out of thin air, right beside Fulgaria. Moving with preternatural speed the figure slashed Fulgaria's throat wide open before disappearing again before I could bring my sword to bear. I shouted for DuCamp and went to check on Fulgaria, but it was quickly clear that she was beyond help. DuCamp swiftly pushed past the grogs and entered the room. The creature then taunted us both once more and DuCamp decided that it would be wisest to retreat and reassess the situation from a safer place. He did not however want to leave Maga Fulgaria's body in such a dark place so he bent down to pick it up. As soon as he touched the body the figure appeared out of nothingness again and once more moving too swiftly for either myself or DuCamp to react, she drove a narrow dagger down through the base of his skull and he collapsed lifeless to the floor. I swung my sword at her but she vanished before the blade reached her and it passed through naught but empty air. With two such experienced and battle-hardened magi lying dead before me I decided not to tarry in that place any longer lest I shared their fate. Before I left I asked if I could take the bodies of my sodales back to the covenant, but the mocking female voice replied that they were hers now and I could not have them. So with heavy heart I began to back carefully out. As I did so, the voice told me that she "still honoured my friend's peace, but when he returns I shall not be here".

I had no idea who she was referring to, but I had little time to ponder her words for I saw to my horror that Fulgaria's body had already been animated and was getting to its feet. Shouting for the grogs to get out I ran out of the cave and took up position at the top of the dell to try and buy us enough time to get across the marsh. As the creature that had been Fulgaria appeared at the cave entrance I threw fire at it, burning it but not slaying it. It charged up the top of the dell where I met it with flaming sword and Drudwhil harried it from behind. I struck it a couple of hefty blows but while it was perhaps slowed a little it still fought fiercely. To my horror, as I battled the creature I saw over it shoulder that DuCamp's body had been similarly animated as it too emerged from the cave mouth. Cuthbert bravely charged down the hill to hold it off as I realised that we were not going to be able to defeat the two creatures through force of arms for the bodies were still embued with the magicks that Fulgaria and DuCamp had placed about themselves before setting off. I was able to use the Weaver's Trap of Webs to immobilise Fulgaria's corpse and then swiftly did the same to that of DuCamp which had pinned down poor Cuthbert and was clawing savagely at him. When I had a moment to look more closely I saw that Cuthbert's valour had cost him his life, though his sacrifice almost certainly saved the rest of us. Let his courage and selflessness be remembered here.

The remaining three of us then hurried off as quickly through the marsh as was safely possible. For reasons I know not there was no immediate pursuit, though the webs surely cannot have held them for so long, and we were able to regain the relative safety of the covenant. I then broke the sad news to the magi, who were greatly grieved and shocked that a magus with DuCamp's martial defences could be slain with a single knife stroke. As I took to the walls to watch for any further assaults, Arcturus and Sallius discussed what should be done now, with the covenant's prime defender slain. While they debated, the animated bodies of Fulgaria and DuCamp came towards the covenant, though I was able to lay them to a permanent rest with further ignem magicks before they reached the walls. Arcturus came out soon after to inform me that he and Sallius had reached the sad decision that Narwold would be abandoned. They would pack up the libraries and other precious resources and depart after dawn the next morning. Arcturus set the surviving coven folk to packing, save two who had the grim task of journeying out into the marsh to retrieve the bodies of Fulgaria and DuCamp, for the bottom of a marsh is no fit resting place for two such valiant magi. These were found, returned to the covenant and burnt, lest they rise again.

That evening as I stood on the walls staring out over the dark marsh I heard a commotion at the gate and hurried across the courtyard to see what was going on, as did Arcturus. To my great surprise, Theo had arrived, though his countenance was grim. As he explained the reason for his visit, it became quickly clear why he was looking so discomforted. Apparently after dealing with the werewolves he had realised that the creature behind all the attacks was very probably one of the three evil spirits that he had inadvertently released into the real world during his journey into the Otherworld. Arcturus was naturally greatly aggrieved at this and even though Theo is my close friend I was sorely tempted to take a swing at him. Theo did have some good news though, by simply saying out loud that the covenant was under his protection the attacks should stop. Apparently the magical crown that he wears gives him some authority over magical beings (though clearly not that much over the werewolves). Thus this female creature will not attack any whom he says are under his protection, which makes more sense of her parting words to me, that she "still honours my friend's peace". This creature seems to have been true to her word for there were no more attacks and when Theo went to try and find her, the cave was empty.

Later, as we sat in the covenant's great hall, Theo told me what had happened when he tried to enact the Anu ritual in the forest of Mynydd Myrrdyn. He was able to assume the form of a hawk and flew to the forest where he enacted the ritual. However, as he was completing it Jack of the Green intervened and entangled him with vines so that he could not move. He was held thus until the werewolf pack arrived and challenged by the pack leader to battle. The vines withered and Theo then bested the pack leader in a contest of wills, forcing him onto his belly. The Grandfather wolf was greatly angered by this and stove in the pack leader's skull with his staff. He then challenged Theo himself. Their battle was long and arduous with each invoking allied spirits to aid them, though in the end it seems that Theo's pagan allies let him down for he was forced to submit to the Grandfather wolf and formally cede all claims to ownership of the forest. Henceforth we will have to ask their permission before entering the forest, though the Grandfather wolf apparently doesn't care what happens in what he referred to as the "hidden realm" so the regio itself should be safe enough from these damnable beasts.

When he returned to the covenant with news of what had gone on, there was a long debate as to the implications of what had happened. It is hard to judge the implications of this with regard to Praeca's politicking but I am sure that she will try to use it to take our vis site away from us. It was also decided that there was little point in asking Raeriania to negotiate a deal on our behalf any more.

I spent the rest of the season at Narwold, watching over it while Arcturus ventured forth to buy in fresh supplies of food and the like. There was no sign of any more undead and all was quiet, much to the relief of all, though their anger towards Theo did not abate. Although they will need to find another magus with some martial skills, now that the threat to the covenant is gone, I hope that Narwold will be able to rebuild and recover its prior strength before too long.

So it is that another eventful year comes to an end. Doubtless next year will provide further challenges, especially at the tribunal. I believe that Narwold will almost certainly level charges against Theo for what happened there and he should not take them too lightly, for two senior and widely respected magi died as a result of his actions, however unintentional they might have been. The perpetual problem of the Fells will also have to be addressed, there is much still to be done.
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