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Scribed by Dialectica

Spring 1189 AD


Council met in full for the first morning of spring and, after report of a quiet winter, our attention turned to plans for this year. Astrius and Cormoran announced their plan to travel to Mynydd Myddyn in summer, to harvest some of the many sources of vis therein. There was a short discussion regarding the wyvern that was sighted previously. Astrius was minded to bring the creature down using an enhanced version of Weaver’s trap of webs, but his plan was contested initially by Cormoran who was concerned that slaying the magical creature might weaken the power of the regio. Alternatively, the giant suggested, the party could simply use his ability to conjure fog to hide from the beast and explore the regio unmolested. Astrius was not keen to risk this plan, feeling it better in the long term to seek an end to the Wyvern once and for all. Tiarnen spoke broadly in favour of Cormoran’s suggestion, but did not object to Astrius’ preference when it came to making a decision. Astrius also said he would raise the issue of the blood-wolves with the werewolves; his concern about the potential involvement of Ieuan or the unnamed house overcoming something of his traditional distrust of such creatures following Briac’s visit last year.

Medius announced that he was raising Marius as Magna ex Parte with regard to relations with the local mundanes and the various threats they pose to the safety of the covenant. This entitles Marius to use covenant resources and a degree of latitude when it comes to negotiations with the mundanes and should speed his progress in setting up a network of spies and informants. Marius intends to spend the first two seasons abroad on such tasks and obtained permission to miss the Summer council. Medius went on to report that the renounced magus Arcturus has apparently been sighted in York, though cautioned all to remain vigilant as this master intriguer may yet be sowing a false trail to elude Hermetic justice. Finally our Pontifex awarded 3 pawns of vis for each covenant service completed the previous year.

Later in the season, Quaesitor Luvidicus arrived at the covenant to introduce himself and pay his respects to the council. Medius was abroad, having travelled to Cad Gadu earlier in the season, so his was not able to meet his counterpart. The new quaesitor appeared relaxed and personable, skilfully using self-depreciation and humour to set others at ease around him; though I noticed Tiarnen remained aloof while we entertained our guest. He stayed for a few days before travelling on to Blackthorn; my first impression of him was favourable, though he has his work cut out to earn the trust and respect that Yania, the previous quaesitor at Solis castle, had built up over her long career.

[Dialectica’s private journal] Cormoran came around offering to take my apprentice ‘off my hands’. I may not have intended to take an apprentice so soon after Marius, and Joseph lacks perhaps that facility with or insight into the art to quite make it into House Bonisagus, but I did my best to dissuade him. Cormoran’s current fascination with the pagan rites and rituals would likely not sit well with Medius’ plans for Joseph; though, to be honest that wasn’t my first concern. I feel it is my basic responsibility as a member of Bonisagus to at least ensure that this apprentice gets a proper grounding in Hermetic magic, something I do not feel that Cormoran would provide (for all his claims to be proficient in all the arts). The giant still flits from one interest or obsession to the next, and my feeling is that he deserts such projects as quickly as he starts them. That intuition may be unfair to my sodalis, but holding this impression of him I could not in good conscience hand over the training of an apprentice to him. I think it best for all that Cormoran seeks an apprentice for himself, despite the cost to my time. I just wish Medius would focus on his studies so he might take on Joseph’s training for himself.

Summer

With Marius still aboard, but Medius returned our council met at the first dawn of summer. There was little of note to report from spring, so our discussion turned swiftly to proposed ventures over the coming season. Astrius and Cormoran elected to travel to Mynydd Myddyn as covenant service, Cormoran apparently reconciled to the Flambeau’s plan for dealing with the Wyvern. Tiarnen also announced he would be away on personal business in the faerie regio.

The season passed peacefully for those within the covenant, as so many have in recent years. One only has to turn back through the pages of this journal to see how precious such relative peace is. Our mundane situation is secured by our secret alliance with the Earl of Gloucester, an arrangement created by Antonius, maintained by Theo and now shielding us from the threat of the Monastic cult by virtue of Marius’ continued work. This has given the covenant considerable economic stability, to the extent that we now possess a sea-faring ship and numerous trade connections so that even the loss of Chepstow as our main port of operations was merely a small obstacle to our trading and security. The fells, who for so many years threatened this place directly, are scattered and broken; the dreadful confrontation with Guyerre in Snig’s end effectively sealing that threat against the covenant. The faerie, who for a long time were a constant source of trouble, have been quiescent for many years; Tiarnen’s trip to the Summer glade and Stonevale was peaceful and uneventful, for even these deep places in the forest are well trod and predictable to those with such knowledge of the faerie.

However, that is not to say that this covenant does not have threats arrayed against it. The monastic cult, organised and ruthless, presents perhaps even a greater threat that the fells ever did, and have already claimed the life of one of our number. Ieuen and his diabolist allies, not least Dionysus, are unaccounted for and we may only presume that they are biding their time for another assault. Tiarnen reports that the faerie forest is slowly moving past the apogee of summer and will begin the decline into winter at some point in the future; bringing with it the possibility of renewed attacks by the Erechwyth and her allies. Theo did as much to stir trouble in the supernatural world as he did to resolve it, and despite Marius’ gambit with the crown there are still many matters unresolved; not least those three ‘spirits’ that Theo released into our world.

In the wider Order there are threats also; not least the fierce debate regarding the House of Ethiopicus, which may yet cause war and even schism. Even the call of another crusade may yet bring disharmony and conflict within the Order as those members of House Jerbiton and House Criamon inevitably clash even as the Christian and Saracen armies battle it out. Whatever peace we have is a fragile thing ... a brief time to draw breath and perspective before we are engulfed by an uncertain future.

And even well trodden paths have yet the capacity to surprise, some new mystery even while we grappled with the last, as Astrius and Cormoran discovered in Mynydd Myddyn.

Their trip up to the regio began routinely; they made camp as ever across the river from the werewolves forest and called out to the inhabitants, announcing their intention to travel through to the mountains beyond. As usual the werewolves sent a messenger who agreed to allow them safe passage, though they were disturbed when Astrius mentioned the matter of the blood wolves. This was apparently shocking news to them, to the extent that the Grandfather wolf himself emerged from the relative safety of the forest to speak to Astrius about the matter. It appears that the wolves of Mynydd Myddyn were not responsible for the terrors that attacked our forest, despite the claims of those wolves that split from the pack and settled in our Northern borders. The Grandfather wolf was horrified by Astrius’ account, and despite his natural distrust, our Flambeau did not think that this was some new deception on their part. The Grandfather wolf knows of Astrius power with fire as they have met as combatants in the past; for him to take such a risk to speak face-to-face with his former enemy shows something of the alarm with which they received Astrius’ news.

The climb into Mynydd Myddyn was uneventful and there was no sign of the Wyvern or Myddyn’s brood. The party climbed up to the plateau and skirted the woods towards the Awakened part of the forest. Along the path they stumbled upon a complex of caves, which appeared extensive, and they paused to explore these a little uncovering a source of Muto vis in the form of strange toadstools, some luminous quartz with some natural property to absorb light and considerable quantities of silver ore deep within the hills. From there they made through to the great oak and the standing stones, successfully harvesting Herbam and Intellego vis. However, on their way back they met with a turn of events none had suspected.

In all our travels to Mynydd Myddyn there has been the air of twilight upon the remote and forgotten hills and forests. Spells of sun duration never seem to terminate in this perpetual half light, as if time itself has frozen. As the party returned from the Awakened forest they chanced to cross the short area of plains between the deep patches of woodland; to their horror the everlasting day came to an end.

Nightfall came suddenly to that ancient place as the party hurried between one tree line and the next across open ground. Astrius and Cormoran became aware that their parma magica had failed and spells of sun duration elapsed. Even as they began to reweave their protections a host of unquiet spirits were sighted moving towards them, moving more swiftly in the otherworld than they were able to travel in the mortal world. The party sought to make the opposite tree line, but to their horror they espied that in the darkness the trees had come to life; their roots and branches threatening any that dared approach. Trapped between the trees and the undead host, they tried to skirt the forest to find an escape from the regio; but were unable to outpace the dead.

The attack was sudden and brutal, with neither magus fully prepared with spells or protections. The battle was hard fought, with Drudwyl nearly slain by the fell blades of the host and both magi pushed back towards the terror of the forest behind them. Among the host was one, an ancient king amongst the spirits, whose presence inspired fear in all who set eyes on him. Focussing his attacks and relying upon his shield grog to defend him, Astrius pressed the assault against this leader. It was no easy battle, but the gambit paid off as the Flambeau was able to drive off the spectre with the Morrigan’s blade and the rest of the spirits retreated back into the umbra from whence they had come.

With this threat fought off, for now, they wisely decided to return swiftly lest they discover new horrors in the dark. Avoiding now the trees under which they had previously sheltered lest the Wyvern attack them, they made their way back to the steep descent leading to the entrance of the realm. From there they returned safely home.

Marius also returned at the end of summer with news from the court at Gloucester. King Henry has passed away and his son Richard will be made King. However, of more local interest it appears that the new King’s brother, John will wed the Earl of Gloucester’s daughter.

Autumn

At our meeting we discussed the possible ramifications of Richard’s succession to the throne. It is known that he is a religious zealot and whilst this may bring short term benefit in drawing the eyes of the Church (and the Christian cult) to the East, in the long term it may bring trouble for the Order in Britain. We also discussed Mynydd Myddyn; was the sudden nightfall and the appearance of these shades part of a long cycle within the regio, or are they signs of interference by the unnamed house or diabolist forces? After considerable speculation it was clear that we do not have enough evidence to be certain of anything. Cormoran offered to travel to Cad Gadu to research in the extensive libraries for any clues as to the history and previous character of the place. Whilst the regio has only been known as a vis site for a comparatively short time, it seems likely such a powerful magical place would have been known about by the pre-hermetic wizards of these isles.

As covenant service, Medius will extract vim vis to ensure we have sufficient supplies for the Aegis. Tiarnen will be abroad and obtained permission to miss the next council meeting if he is delayed in returning. Astrius and myself will also be abroad, investigating the barrows (a contested vis site long known to this covenant but rarely harvested). With luck the season will be a fairly straightforward endeavour and I shall have some more Mentem vis for my magical studies.

Scribed by Marius

I can barely record the shocking news that Dialectica is dead, gravely injured by a barrow spirit whilst she and Astrius attempted to harvest vis then slain in a magical accident while he attempted to heal her. I cannot record more for the moment, save that Tiarnen has not yet returned to the covenant.

Winter

I can’t really bring myself to write about my mother’s funeral, the grief is still too close and too sharp. Her ashes were committed to the river and some worthy speeches made about her life and contribution to the covenant; yet I still do not feel entirely reconciled with the events surrounding her death. Astrius gave full account; describing a strange ghost light they espied across the barrow downs. They observed a ritual of sorts, involving the ghostly denizens of the place; each occupant of the barrows carrying a torch and lining up before a King or Chieftain. Curiously this chieftain then attacked one of the other ghosts, appearing to stab him. However, on the following night they observed what appeared to be a different victim of the chieftain’s ire. The magi oversaw the harvesting of one of the open barrows; the spirit inside assailed any man or woman who entered, but apparently ignored Drudwyl, allowing him to bring out a number of artefacts containing vis. Unfortunately, during the spirits attacks Astrius’ armour was damaged by some magical effect which appeared to bring great age and weakness to the metal. In revenge for this, Astrius desecrated the spirits grave; dragging out the death shroud and scattering the bones and dust of the occupant.

Realising that the spirits of the barrows were likely to be angered by this blatant violation of the graves, the group attempted to leave the area as swiftly as they could. By nightfall they were well beyond the barrows and the ghost light, and they set up camp. However, the vengeful spirits of the barrows followed them to this camp and attacked during the night. The ward against spirits held many of them at bay, but some of the stronger ones were able to cross the threshold and bring attacks to its occupants. During this hard fight, Dialectica was struck with a grievous blow that felled her. Her wound was serious enough that both magi were concerned that she might not survive the journey back to the covenant, so the next morning Astrius used vis to cast the incantation of the body made whole. Something went wrong with the spell.

I made journey to Powys, in part to get away from the covenant and try to come to terms with Dialectica’s death. The covenant appeared to have a quiet season, though I was somewhat concerned that Tiarnen had not yet returned. Allanus also paid visit in the early part of the season; bringing news that Richard has been crowned and that Narwold covenant has been attacked by a giant.

[Marius’ private journal] It seems a dreadful truth that my mother’s life would not have been lost save for the petulant and childish reaction of her sodalis. It doesn’t take a master of occult knowledge to realise that the desecration of a barrow grave might bring reprisal. Astrius fought bravely to defend the camp, and gladly offered the vis and spell to heal her; but in my heart it is clear that his temper overwhelmed his judgement and that her life was forfeit as result.
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