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Scribed by Tiarnan

Spring 1173AD


Winter is often a quiet season at Severn Temple, for the ferocious winds and deep snow that blankets the hills hereabouts make it difficult to travel far. Spring, in contrast, tends to see much more activity, as the Magi here take advantage of the clement weather and the sense of invigoration that it brings to venture forth and put plans into action. Or that is what usually happens, but this season passed almost without event or activity of note. After a short Council meeting, the Magi all departed to spend their season in laboratory work or other similar activity.

Little else occurred during the following months, though I learned later that Aron, an associate of Medius from the Kabala, visited the covenant to seek our Quaesitor's advice on which House he should join. I am not privy to Medius' advice on the matter, and Aron left a few days later, presumably to travel to the Domus Magnus of his chosen House to seek entry.

Summer

At the Council meeting at the beginning of the season, Cormoran announced that he had travelled to Blackthorn covenant last season. He had spoken with Praeca Eloria and offered to manage the population of magical fish in Blackthorn's lake in return for a share of the harvest. Eloria's reaction had been frosty, if not downright hostile. She initially accused him of damaging the site, having convinced his father, who previously tended the fish, to move down to Severn Temple; with his father's death, the future of the vis site was in doubt. After some discussion, Eloria agreed to consider paying Cormoran if he could return the site to its former state, though she insisted that one of her henchmen should accompany him on all of his visits there. Whether her concern was to ensure that he did not steal anything, or whether she merely wished to learn how he carried out his task remains unclear, but Cormoran clearly felt uncomfortable, as he returned to the lake only a couple of times during the season and did not manage to find any magical fish there.

Furthermore, Cormoran admitted that he had found the fishing along the Severn to be equally unproductive, which meant that he had had to go hungry for part of the season. This created a sense of alarm among the Council, for we all remembered well the dark days of Cormoran's past, and Aelfwin suggested that Cormoran spend the entire summer fishing in the Severn to ensure that he had sufficient time to achieve a bountiful catch. Aelfwin also suggested that I accompany Cormoran to lend my knowledge of the Severn, or perhaps it was really Kai's unrivalled ability to terrorise the local fish population that he was after. Cormoran initially demurred, claiming that he could not work with me given our past conflicts, but after some cajoling, he was persuaded to accept my assistance.

The rest of the meeting passed uneventfully. Medius declared that he planned to travel to Narwold covenant to meet up with his manservant, Giovanni, who had spent the past year investigating diabolic cults in London. Theo noted that he planned to spend the season visiting his landholdings along the Welsh border. Astrius and Aelfwin decided to spend the season at their studies, experimenting with vis and developing a spell, respectively.

The fishing expedition did not go well. Normally, spending a season by the river would be a relaxing treat, but almost from the beginning, it was clear that Cormoran was nervous and unsure about the whole process. He repeatedly gave muddled and contradictory instructions about his previous expeditions, and we moved spot a couple of times without any real sense of purpose. I found this very odd, as Cormoran was clearly an experienced and skilful fisherman, and he was able to catch a goodly quantity of fish, though none of the magical ones he sought. Eventually, I persuaded him to create an image of one of the fish he was after - a brown specimen with some pink colouring on the belly - but this did not help us at all, with even Kai failing to glimpse any fish of that type. At one point, Cormoran insisted that we fish along the stretch of river known to be home to the water-leaper, though we were forced to seek another spot after that creature began to menace his coracle.

Six weeks into the season, matters came to a head when Cormoran, who had become increasingly grumpy during the season as his hunger grew, accused me of deliberately sabotaging his attempts to catch magical fish. I replied that this was nonsense, for I had been working hard and had just as much incentive as he did to ensure that he remained well fed. As his accusations became bolder, I stated that I had little sympathy for his predicament as it was entirely of his own making. With that, he declared our partnership at an end, and he stormed off, though I thought I detected some relief as well as anger in his manner. I returned to the covenant and learned from Aelfwin that, despite the considerable journey, Cormoran had decided to seek out his Pater in Cornwall to see if he could learn any more secrets of catching magical fish. I returned to the riverbanks the next morning and spent an enjoyable if ultimately unsuccessful few weeks looking for these elusive fish.

It is my opinion that the fish do not currently dwell within the Severn. Perhaps the Lladra will be able to provide some advice on where they can be found.

Autumn

We briefly discussed Cormoran's recent actions at the Council meeting, and some voiced fears about what he may have been doing to sate his hunger in recent months. Still, with Cormoran still absent, it was decided to postpone any action until he returned from Cornwall. Medius brought greetings from Narwold covenant, which seemed to be well on the way to recovering from its recent problems, though he made it clear that Theo was still regarded in a poor light by the Magi there. Astrius and Medius also reported that they had toured the infernal sites at Snig's End and the Dell, but they had found no signs of recent activities by the Fells.

[Tiarnan's private journal: At the Autumn Equinox, Theo convened the first meeting of the King's Council, an august body designed to provide him with advice on important matters. Wearing my finest robes, I made my way out to the spring, where I caught sight of the other members of the Council that Theo had selected:

Representing the faerie courts of Wood, Stone and Water respectively were Yago the centaur, Sir Turold and the Lladra respectively; a grave-faced lord introduced himself as Mythinor, which I immediately recognised this as the place where Aeddan had said Dialectica resided; an owl in the branches of a nearby tree announced that he was Ymir, a representative of Gwydion, a pagan spirit connected to bards; a slightly nervous-looking though evidently high-born man turned out to be the Prince of Powys, an important mundane ruler from hereabouts; and finally, Archimaga Sylvania of Cad Gadu covenant stated that she was here to represent the Order of Hermes.

Theo had scarcely begun to address his Court, when another figure emerged from beneath the bows of the forest, and as she pulled back her hood, we saw that it was Dialectica! I must confess to struck momentarily dumb by the surprise and my confused emotions, for though I was truly glad to see that she had escaped from whatever predicament she had recent faced, I could tell from Theo's grim demeanour that her presence could cause us terrible problems. Dialectica announced herself and claimed her right to sit on the Council, since she was the mother of Aeddan, who all here considered to be Theo's heir. She implied that she had been greatly wronged by Theo, and she was concerned to see that Aeddan's future was protected. Theo had spoken little, but he agreed to consider her request, and he asked the Council to vote on the matter. There was a swift debate, following which Dialectica was elected to the Council, by a vote of 5 to 3, with Mythinor, Ymir and Sylvania casting votes against.

With Dialectica now among us, Theo moved to discuss the reasons why the Council had been convened. He declared that he wished to discuss two matters; the first he merely wished us to consider without coming to a formal conclusion for the moment, as he felt it was not yet the right time to act, whereas on the second he wished us to debate and provide him with advice.

The first matter concerned the actions of the three dread spirits that Theo had inadvertently released several years ago while on a mission in Annwn. He described the actions of one of the creatures, Mona, in animating the corpses of long-slain inhabitants of the marshes and sending them to attack the covenant of Narwold. The issue at hand concerned whether Mona had broken the "King's Peace" by attacking someone under Theo's direct protection. The exact circumstances of the events that took place when Astrius, De Camp and Fulgaria entered Mona's lair near the covenant of Narwold are still somewhat hazy, though it is clear that Astrius escaped with his life only because Mona decided not to kill him due to his connection to Theo. After De Camp and Fulgaria's deaths, Mona animated their corpses and sent them after Astrius and his grogs, though it was unclear whether the death of at least one of the grogs was due to Astrius or these undead creatures. The debate seemed rather esoteric to me - it was clear that Theo sought a ruling that would entitle him to act against Mona, but he did not want to declare her an enemy at this time, as he was not ready to confront her yet, and he feared what she might do in the meantime. I sense that he will have little difficulty getting the Council to agree to his wishes in the future, though I would hear considerably more about his plans to put an end to Mona before we take any rash actions.

The second matter concerned Theo's son and heir, Aeddan. Theo said that he believed that he did not have long to live, for the various forces arrayed against him would no doubt drag him down at some point. I was rather alarmed by his unduly pessimistic assessment of his future, but Theo seemed convinced that his time was short. His great desire, he said, was to ensure that Aeddan was put in as good a position as possible to inherit his Kingdom, so that his work was not wasted. He claimed that Aeddan's time in the faerie court of Water must come to an end, for though Aeddan was undoubted safe there, he would not learn the art of mundane kingship while he remained among the fae. To this end, Theo proposed to move Aeddan to a mundane court in Wales, where Theo would ensure that he was recognised as a High Prince or some similar rank, thereby safeguarding him against any Hermetic repercussions, for he claimed that Dialectica surely meant to destroy him, and he did not want Aeddan to be endangered by the coming conflict. With this, there was some uproar, with Lord Mythinor and Ymir in particular arguing that, if Dialectica posed a threat, she should be treated as a traitor and dealt with most severely. At this point, Dialectica asked whether the Council understood exactly why Theo feared she would act against him. Some said that this was irrelevant, but I argued that it was better for the matter to be set before the Council so that we could act with full knowledge of the facts and circumstances, though I said that we should not pass any judgment on the matter, for I suspected that Dialectica sought to use the power of the Council against Theo, as by calling and investing us with some of his authority, he too might be bound by the Council's rulings.

Theo decided that he should be the one to set the matter before us. It was with a resigned countenance that he described the events that caused the Ceridwen to kidnap Aeddan and Dialectica to leave with her apprentice once she found out the reasons for the spirit's actions. Following Dialectica's departure, Theo had had a vision, most likely inspired by the Morrigan, where he learned that Dialectica's bloodline was inimical to his, for she was related to the infamous sorceress of legend, Morgana. Theo claimed that he believed the vision, for it also tied in with a warning given by his brother before he died. Theo did not expand on this matter, though it was clear that he regarded it as an event of great import.

In the vision, Theo also saw three versions of his future, with the choice between them being dictated by his next actions: in the first, Aeddan became a great but cruel King with Dialectica at his side, with Theo reduced to rags and eventually being executed on his son's orders; in the second, Aeddan also wore the crown, though he was merely the puppet of one his advisors, an ancient and crafty Magus that I took to be the former Primus of House Ex Miscellanea, Lanndolwyn; in the third and final vision, Theo remained King, though from his furrowed brow and severe expression, he had suffered much, though Aeddan seemed to have been protected from it all. Theo stated that the three options represented the consequences of leaving Aeddan with Dialectica, handing him over to Lanndolwyn and placing him with the faerie court of Water, respectively.

With this knowledge, Theo had decided to pursue Dialectica, and he tracked her down to a castle in magical regio, ruled over by the same Lord Mythinor who sat with us. Dialectica and Theo had both claimed the right to be Aeddan's guardian. They agreed that Lord Mythinor should be the judge of the matter, and after hearing their cases, he decided in favour of Theo. It was here that Theo admitted that he had faced one of his greatest and darkest decisions - he asked Mythinor to keep Dialectica as a prisoner, for he knew if she was set free she would claim Aeddan back as her rightful Hermetic apprentice. Four year went by here in the mundane world, yet a full fifty passed in that magical place, and Dialectica, fortified by years of study of her magical arts, managed to escape, which explained her return to Severn Temple.

I must admit that I found the tale very uncomfortable. In truth, I knew something of it already, but I had not realised the full scale of Theo's betrayal of Dialectica. Despite Theo's claims to the contrary, I do not believe that Dialectica freely entered into the agreement to have Mythinor judge their respective fitness as Aeddan's guardians, for it is clear that she would not have chosen to do so had had any other option open to her. Mythinor also refused to elaborate on the matter, which reinforced my view that Theo had effectively stolen Aeddan and locked away his mother. To seal the matter, Theo also admitted that Dialectica had appealed to the Morrigan for vengeance, who had agreed that her case was just. Having finished this part of the story, Theo stated that he had decided to take the third of the three options shown to him in the vision, placing Aeddan with Nimue at King Llyr's court.

We then discussed the wisdom of placing Aeddan in a mundane Welsh court. After much discussion of how he could be protected from Hermetic, infernal and pagan enemies, it was decided by a vote of 8-1, with only Dialectica dissenting, to do so. This vote in many ways binds Dialectica to the enterprise, for she cannot go against the will of the King's Court without incurring the wrath of those members who are already looking for a reason to get rid of her. Indeed, Lord Mythinor and Ymir openly proposed that the Court should either imprison or slay Dialectics given the potential danger she posed to Theo, but after some prompting, Theo declared that he would not hear their arguments. With this business settled, the Court broke up, with all leaving to go their separate ways. I managed to speak with Sylvania before she left, but she seemed as surprised and uncertain of the implications of the whole business as I did. I think the decisions that were taken will have great importance, and they must be carried through carefully so that our enemies to not have chance to turn the changed circumstances to their advantage.]

Little else happened that season.

Winter

The Council meeting at the start of the season proved fractious and divisive, with accusations of treachery and disloyalty bandied about freely. Cormoran was still absent on his trip to Cornwall, so the remaining members of the Council met to discuss the previous season. Theo began by describing his trip to check up on the free miners in the Dean and Edwin at Huntley, which proceeded uneventfully and did not reveal any new information.

Theo then described the meeting of his King's Court at the Autumn Equinox, outlining the purpose of the body and matters it had been asked to consider. Medius and Aelfwin questioned the wisdom of calling such a body together so close to covenant, particularly given the power of some of the entities involved. Medius suggested that the proximity of the Court could have placed the covenant in danger, though this seemed a little like scare mongering based on an insufficient appreciation of the facts to me. Aelfwin reminded Theo that he had recently been judged Excordis, which required him to seek the Council's permission to undertake anything other than routine actions during each season. Theo apologised for his oversight in not informing the Council of his intention to summon the Court, and argued that he had been fully prepared to take responsibility should the Court have proved dangerous. At this point, Medius declared that he wished to raise a formal charge of Exlegis against Theo, arguing that Theo had wilfully disregarded his duties under the charge of Excordis. This appeared to be an excessive step to me given that the problem was one of oversight rather than deliberate deception, and the punishment under Exlegis seemed very harsh. The charge was swiftly rejected by a vote of 4-1, with only Medius himself voting in favour.

We were about to turn to other matters when a messenger arrived stating that Dialectica had returned to the covenant and wished to address the Council. Of course, we adjourned the session while she was summoned before us. After a hearty welcome, Dialectica explained what had happened to her in the intervening years. Theo did not contest her story, and it was clear that most members of the Council were shocked and dismayed by what they heard. Dialectica stated that she did not wish to press any charges against Theo for the loss of her apprentice or her imprisonment, partly because she claimed that Theo now enjoyed the protection of various magical and faerie powers, which could potentially do great harm should he be hurt. She also asked that she be allowed to return to the covenant, though she laid no claim to her former position as Pontifex. With her petition finished, she retired from the room to allow us to debate these matters.

The debate itself was fairly short and to the point. Boiling with rage, Astrius accused Theo of betraying his trust in him, forsaking their friendship and caring nothing for his oath to the Order. He proposed a motion of Exsilium, but Aelfwin said that he would not allow it to proceed, for cool heads rather than hot tempers were needed to consider the matter, especially given that Theo enjoyed the protection of the powers Dialectica had mentioned. Astrius demanded that he be allow to raise the motion, and he challenged Aelfwin to Certamen over the matter. Aelfwin agreed, but he conceded the contest almost immediately. Astrius made the charge, but Aelfwin used his authority as Pontifex to veto the motion before it could be heard. I was slightly surprised that Medius allowed this to happen, though very glad that he did so. Aelfwin wisely suggested that we all take time to consider the news he had just heard before rushing to judgement. He did, however, propose two more motions. First, that Dialectica be invited to rejoin the covenant, which was defeated even though all but Theo voted in favour, as such a vote requires unanimity; and second, that Theo be charged with Delictum for failing to inform the Council of the meeting of the King's Court, which also failed as the vote ended in stalemate, with Astrius and Aelfwin voting in favour, Theo and I voting against and Medius abstaining. With that, Aelfwin called an end to the Council and we went about our business.

I know Dialectica stayed in the covenant for at least a few more days, as she joined us to hear the news of Loretius the redcap. As usual, he brought new both Hermetic and mundane. In mundane circles, the most dramatic news concerned attempts by the French and Scots to wrest lands back from the grip of the English King, Henry, though both attempts ended in bloody failure, on the battlefields of Normandy and Northern England, respectively. Closer to home, he brought news that several lone travellers such as pilgrims and merchants had gone missing on the roads between Gloucester and Bristol, which suggested that criminal gangs (or worse) were active in the area. The most pressing Hermetic news concerned an urgent request from Trevalga covenant, where one of their members, Maga Alicia, had been kidnapped by a tribe of bestial men while on a vis hunting expedition. Astrius, Theo and Medius immediately declared that they intended to travel down to Cornwall to lend their aid, and Dialectica agreed to join them. I do not know the full details of their trip, but they returned a week or so later having been successful in their mission. Theo managed to lure the creatures from their network of caves, creating a distraction while Dialectica and Astrius snuck inside to rescue the captive.

So, with winter still gripping the land around us, my journal for the year comes to an end. I can scarcely remember the covenant at such a low ebb, with the Council split and distrustful, former friendships turned to bitter enmity and the prospect of future conflicts on the horizon. I cannot imagine that the events of the past few weeks will be swiftly or easily forgotten, and I hope that we do not spend our time and effort fighting each other, rather than our common enemies. Time will tell, though for now I find it difficult to muster much optimism.
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