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Scribed by Giraldus

Spring 1179AD


The meeting of the spring Council began with reports of events from winter; though there was nothing to much to relate, save perhaps Cormoran's success at brewing cider. Thus the magi quickly turned their attention to the year to come; starting with the issues of mundane ownership of the Covenant landholdings following Theodosius' death some years before.

Dialectica related the options to the council. Least problematic, in terms of negotiation with the Earl, was the suggestion that Aeddyn, as Theo's 'heir', could inherit the landholdings of the Briavel. However, after only brief discussion this was dismissed; he is yet an apprentice and there is uncertainty about what he will choose to do if and when he passes his gauntlet in a few years time. Alternatively, Dialectica suggested, one of the council could act as a Steward to the landholdings. She explained that it was not uncommon for high nobles, like the Earl, to appoint a man to oversee the running and collection of taxes from a landholding he possesses. This option was preferred by the council and, to my surprise, this title was offered to me! I exclaimed that whilst I would be glad to represent the covenant in this way; I would rapidly need some insight into the duties of such a role and the obligations it would place on me. It was decided that I should accompany Dialectica on her journey around the Shire this season and learn more about the local area and the politics; this being counted as service to the Covenant.

Having purchased an area of magical woodlands called Mynydd Myddyn from Blackthrorn Covenant last year, it was clear that the assembled wizards were keen to begin exploiting the vis site. Carwen was first to volunteer and was quickly joined by Astrius. This appeared to irk Carwen, though the former Merintian magus looked even more disappointed when Medius suggested that Cormoran might also accompany him. Arrangement was made for this trip to take place in autumn.

Medius dispensed 2 pawns of vis for each service completed in the previous year. He apologised that it was not much, but the purchase of the vis site and the need to keep a good stock of vis for the coming year necessitated a smaller distribution than he might otherwise wish. Carwen related the state of the Covenant finances, which appeared in good health. Medius decided to distribute a stipend of 100d to each Magus of the Council.

Petrus, an aged Bonisagus and last surviving re-founder of the Covenant, was invited to address the Council and explain the researches he had been undertaking. My understanding of magic was too shallow to follow much of what he described, but it appears that there is a magical regio within the Covenant which is very hard to access. From his research, Petrus believed that he could create a magical doorway into this regio; one that could be restricted to members of this council to ensure that no enemy could exploit access. He described various 'thematic elements' which, according to his theoretical musings, could allow the enchantment of such a portal. He related that the major historical 'themes' which gave rise to the character of the aura here were 'secrecy' and 'betrayal'. He claimed the silence and solitude of the aura was a reflection of the need to keep secrets; to avoid being overheard. The mist that shrouds many parts of the covenant, especially at night, was a physical manifestation of the past acts of betrayal that had affected this place; the obfuscation of treachery. Carwen, particularly, appeared most intrigued by these themes and pressed for more detail; though it was decided that lengthy discussions regarding the specifics of the magical research might best be left for after the formal Council.

There was concern that this portal might connect the Covenant to 'the lands of the Dead'; a most ominous suggestion, the logic of which I did not comprehend. This posed the danger that some of the pagan spirits which reside near to the Covenant might be 'offended' by attempts to create such a portal. It was decided that Astrius would seek out one of these spirits (the one called the 'Anu' who grants each magus two magical acorns each year) and see if he could learn more. In the meantime, Petrus will start to assemble a basic laboratory so that his work in constructing the doorway might continue in Summer.

My season travelling abroad with Dialectica was a fascinating one. The Earl was away at court in London, but I was able to meet many of her contacts within the Shire; including the Sheriff of Monmouth and the Steward of Gloucester Castle. The former of these men agreed that my becoming a Steward for the Earl's Briavel landholdings was certainly a possibility. Dialectica explained to me some of the history with the Earl; going back to the time of Magus Antonius' work to create a relationship with the Earl's ancestors. It seems that Earl thinks quite highly of 'his wise neighbours'; though takes pains to ensure only the most trusted and reliable of his servants are aware of our existence. Dialectica explained that once in a while the magi of the covenant had been asked for advice and minor service. I asked for examples and she described that Magus Theodosius had been instrumental in a treaty between the Earl of Gloucester's father and the Prince of Powys: An act that had secured peace between the English and the Welsh in this region for a generation.

Whilst abroad we met a man named Hugh who is a spy for the Covenant based in Huntley. This village, from what I have read, is one of the centres of the 'Fells'; an organisation of diabolists and sorcerers that the Covenant has had grave troubles with in the past. Hugh reported that there was concern about nocturnal movements by some of Edwin of Huntley's mercenaries. It appears possible that some of the banditry in the Shire may potentially be carried out by some of his men; to provide funds for the Knight. It was felt that we needed more 'eyes and ears' in the rural areas of the Shire and a plan was determined to seek contacts amongst the charcoal burners, fishermen and free miners in the hope of detecting some of the movements of these men and perhaps identify where they are based beyond the village.

On the way back I took a detour to the orchards of Lydney. There I buried the two acorns I had been given at the beginning of winter last year. Reading the journal has impressed upon me that these spirits are quite powerful and active around this Covenant, so I have decided to be cautious and follow the lead of the majority of the council and appease this 'Anu' by returning the acorns to nature.

Summer

Dialectica gave report to the summer Council regarding our journey around the Shire and some of the concerns about Huntley. Medius and Astrius were most concerned that Edwin had become bold again and might seek to further his influence on the region. To discover more they determined to visit Snig's End again after the next New Moon to see if there was any further sign of diabolical activity around that site.

Medius also took the opportunity of the council to congratulate Magus Astrius' appointment as a Permanent Hoplite to the Tribunal. This great honour and responsibility means that he cannot decline the request of service by a member of the Quaesitori and may take, as a Hoplite, actions to protect and defend those investigators. The council joined Medius in congratulating him, save Carwen who remained silent upon the matter.

Astrius related the advice given to him by the 'Anu' regarding the construction of a portal. She told him that the doorway could not lead into this 'Kingdom of Arawn', but she believed it had little chance of successfully being built. The last time such a doorway was attempted was in ancient times by magicians working with the aid of the faerie; and she warned that Petrus would be taking a grave risk in making such an attempt with only his Hermetic magic. Dialectica, whilst accepting that Petrus would eagerly take on this risk, felt it would be better to deny him the possibility of coming to harm by refusing his offer. Astrius strongly disagreed and took umbrage with her attempts to make a moral issue over the matter. In the end Medius called for a vote; Medius and Dialectica voting against, Astrius, Carwen and Cormoran voting for the creation of this doorway.

Afterwards, Medius seemed disconcerted that I had not cast a vote. I reminded him of the traditions of House Mercere, which he clearly knew in regard to Tribunals, and explained that many of the Red Caps who do not possess the gift extend this deference to Covenant Councils; indeed any forum of Magi.

As service to the Tribunal I spent the season delivering a number of messages to the southern Covenants of the Tribunal. Magus Astrius also carried out service to the Covenant; extracting Vim vis for the season.

When I returned towards the end of the season I discovered that Magus Carwen had made a new companion upon the road. This fae-touched man, if he is not entirely fae, is related to the woodland Brownies. He is called Bodkin, and apparently is hard working in his service and expects no thanks for the good deeds that he does.

It should also be noted that Magus Petrus has assigned the laboratory with our Covenant as his Sanctum for the duration of his stay. As the laws of the Order dictate, Dürenmar have been informed of this status so that the sanctum marking upon his laboratory there may be removed.

Autumn

I took the opportunity at the autumn Council to pass on general news from the covenants I had visited last season. Arcturus from Narwold reported that he his spies were attempting to infiltrate some of the households of the nobles he suspects of being members of this Christian magical cult. Arcanus, the Criamon from Carrion Moor, asked me to relate that the ghost ship he reported at the tribunal has been seen once again; demonstrating something of the reliability of this phenomenon. I also related the generous offer of Ildanach of Trevalga Covenant, who offered to make me some chainmail armour; though explained that I felt such protection would be too heavy for me to easily wear.

Of other news: Carwen reported that he had found the roads to Narwold Covenant quiet and that many of the mercenary forces appear to have moved on now that the fighting in the East has ceased. Dialectica reported that Aeddyn is to be knighted by the Prince of Powys next year (when he turns 18). Medius related the trip that he and Astrius had made to Snig's End; to all our relief it appears there had been no further activity.

Our discussion turned to the proposed trip to Mynydd Myddyn as Covenant service for Carwen, Astrius and Cormoran. It appears that there are werewolves that live in the forest that borders the regio; and that the Magi have to negotiate passage each time they wish to enter. Astrius was vehemently against the notion of attempting to negotiate with the werewolves; describing them as treacherous creatures who would never keep their word. He proposed simply waiting for the new moon and pushing through to the regio without their leave. The difficulty arising with this suggestion is that the climb into the hills is a long one and requires the magi to camp overnight along the path.

Carwen believed that Astrius suggestion might bring them into conflict with the werewolves and suggested that calling out to them and asking permission to enter would be a better plan. Astrius pointed out that this presumed that the werewolves would cooperate; he felt it more likely they would say 'no' or make unreasonable demands as a price for entry. Cormoran wondered whether they might accept a barrel of his cider as payment for entry, though the rest of the Council quickly disagreed with the suggestion. In truth, from what little I have read about the moon-cursed I suspect Cormoran's brew would hold little interest for them. Dialectica suggested that if the magi intended not to parlay, then they should look to strike first at the werewolves rather than risk being surprised by them.

There was further argument with no movement towards a common position. Medius called a vote which, in the end, was tied between a motion to negotiate with the werewolves and a motion to try and sneak through during the new moon. With the vote deadlocked, Medius declared that there would be no Covenant service expeditions to Mynydd Myddyn this year. Surprisingly, when faced with this news Carwen and Astrius decided to mount a private trip to the regio; Astrius agreeing to attempt negotiation with the werewolves for passage through to the regio. I don't really understand why the Ministrator was so ready to adopt this plan when he had been vociferously against it only a few moments before. Perhaps Medius' gambit worked, forcing him to reconsider his position or risk the possibility that no trip would happen at all this year.

The season passed quietly for the rest of the Covenant. I used my time to travel around the Dean in order to get to know some of the innkeepers and merchants in the area. It seems that many of the inns are used to having a wandering player call in to provide entertainment; I read in the journal that Theodosius used to regularly travel out this way. Many of the innkeepers refused any talk of my coin, and indeed I made a few pennies from tips over the course of the season. On the way back I attempted to put this coin to some good use. I paid visit to Tintern Abbey and stayed for a few days posing as a Pilgrim. The monks there are more pious and hardworking than in many monasteries; they were a bit like the monks I met at Lindesfarne when I visited with Yania. I managed to make a small donation and got to talking with some of the monks. The Abbot, it appears, is a very pious and holy man but spends a great deal of his time in London; in his absence though the monks of Tintern continue their duties with admirable diligence. Obviously, I did not find (nor search) for any evidence that might link the Abbot or others to this Christian Cult. However, I did manage to create a contact and generate a cover story which will allow me to return from time to time. Perhaps in time I will discover more.

Winter

Our last council of the year began with Astrius and Carwen relating their mixed fortunes in Mynydd Myddyn. The journey to the border of the site was uneventful and the Magi set up camp over the river from the great forest which bands the regio. Carwen called out to the werewolves in the language of beasts and some two hours later they were approached by two of them, wearing the forms of men dressed in furs. The negotiations were short; it appears that the werewolves recalled the bargain that had been forced upon Theodosius and were happy that the wizards accorded them the respect and rights of their territory by asking permission to enter. They asked for no price, upon this occasion, and the next day the party were able to travel without further sight of the werewolves. Astrius, however, continues to be sceptical about how long this generosity will last.

On the second night they camped near the entrance to the regio, in preparation for entering at dawn the next day. Astrius related that during his watch he had seen a face in one of the trees watching the camp. He speculated that this may have been the forest spirit 'Jack o' the Green' - though this spirit made no moves against the camp or any of the party.

Having entered the regio the group then navigated the steep climb that leads to the mountainous centre of the region. All safely made it to the top, but in the nearby forest a slaughtered hind was spotted in one of the trees. Dermot, the tracker (fonder of eating than tracking I should add) was able to find the marks of the 'Brood'; which Drudwyl could smell nearby. However, Dermot's sharp eyes betrayed him as he stepped into one of their traps. He was caught by the leg and lifted swiftly into the air. By the time the other had cut him down the Brood attacked.

In the ensuing battle one of the men, a grog named Benedict, was mortally wounded (despite the best efforts of Astrius to try to heal him with magic). With several of the other men badly injured in the fighting it was decided to try and reach the Celtic village. However, the welcome was not warm. As they came within bow-shot of the palisade an arrow was fired at them, as a warning the Magi believed. Carwen, cloaked in imagonem magics to make him difficult to see, flew over the compound and saw the Celts raised to alarm by the approach of his companions. It was decided to turn back and take the return road to Severn Temple.

The council discussed the events. It is clear that in order to make best use of the site the Covenant needs a strong base from which to act. In the past this has been in the Celtic village and the tower that exists there. There was a brief discussion about how best to win the Celts back round (after Gaufridus' visit which involved the death of their Chief and the kidnapping of the Druid).

Other matters raised at Council included a decision to hold a feast at the Autumn Equinox to celebrate the centenary of the re-founding of the Covenant. Magi from other Covenants have been invited and magus Petrus has been invited to stay after his enchantment is completed. Carwen will cast a ritual to bolster the health of the orchards around Lydney and ensure a bountiful harvest of fruit for next years brewing. Magus Cormoran will serve the Covenant by extracting Vim Vis this season. Medius announced that he was taking an apprentice, a lad named Ezekial.

The rest of the season was a quiet one. Alannus, red cap of Blackthorn, paid visit towards the end of the year to relate to me some of Archimaga Gyriania's instructions. I sent back with him the information regarding our celebrations next year.
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