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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1191 AD


Quaesitor Linares arrived the day before the Spring meeting and confirmed that Tiarnan was as far as could be determined still human and thus he could safely continue as a member of both our council and the wider Order of Hermes.

Following my discussions with Orlania, I made successful request at the Spring council to be excused from my duties as ministrator during my potentially lengthy absence while attending my House business in Doissetep. There was no further news of import to discuss so Medius moved swiftly to the annual distribution of resources and services for the coming year. The Pontifex gave out 5 pawns of vis per season's service conducted during 1190 and then stated that as the covenant's vim reserves were running low someone would need to extract vim vis for the covenant. With no volunteer immediately forthcoming Medius said that he would perform such a task himself in autumn. Meanwhile Marius will continue his doubtless valuable work in building our espionage network in summer, as well as keeping a watchful eye on the business dealings of Tintern Abbey so that in future we may be able to strike at the sources of the wealth that the christ-god cult uses to buy mercenaries and bribe informants.

Tiarnan was tasked with spending a season of his time investigating one of the covenant's many magical or faerie items whose powers have yet to be properly determined. Cormoran has been asked by the Praefecta to travel to Scafell, for the many of the attacks by the hedge wizards upon that covenant and its allies have reportedly been centred around a landmark known as “Giant's Hill”. However, before he undertakes that mission, he will first journey to speak with Vorn, the giantish soothsayer, in the hopes of building peaceable relations with the giants of this land following the successful conclusion of our mission in Novgorod.

Our half-giant sodales took with him three grogs and set off into the Cambrion mountains for the hilltop regio where he had met with Vorn and the giantish clan chiefs previously. Leaving the grogs at the camp, he had set up at the base of the hill, Cormoran ventured through and spoke with Vorn. It seems that his negotiations did not go quite as smoothly as Cormoran had hoped, as Vorn refused to speak of any deals with the clan chiefs without the prior agreement of the Order, or at least the tribunal, to hold to any non-aggression pact. However, he did tell Cormoran that if he was able to achieve this then he would call a moot to discuss the offer.

Astrius's private journal: Before heading off to Solis Castle to meet with Orlania, I accompanied Medius to the location where he believed the ruins of ‘Halls of the Forest’ covenant were located. As with Swallowcliff, even mention of this covenant has been struck from all hermetic record, save that likely kept at Holy Isle or in the vaults in Magvillus. Medius, Marcus, Drudwhil and I took barge to Monmouth, then rode on past Hereford and Leominster, before leaving the roads and hiking across the rough countryside. We reached the small village of Ashton after some eleven days travel and from there we trekked past Ludlow and followed the river Teame into the mountains. Medius said that we were looking for a fork into the river in woodlands. A fortnight into the journey we found the split in the river, perhaps a little ways south of Clun, in the foothills of the Welsh mountains. The woods grew thickly thereabouts, though the forest we encountered was not overly large, a mile or so wide and perhaps three deep.

We swiftly established a base camp just outside the woods and began our investigation. Medius quickly determined that there was a magical aura present, though on the fringes of the tree-line it was only of the first magnitude. Drudwhil, whilst scouting around for fresh tracks, found what appeared to be an old path-stone and was able to trace the likely route of the path it was once part of into the woods. There was no sign of any recent visitors, though the nature and history of the site meant that I was not about to drop my guard even a fraction at this news, welcome though it was.

As our hunt drew us deeper amongst the trees, I became aware that the birds and beasts which dwelt there were more watchful than would usually expect. There was a distinct sense that they were aware of our presence, not dissimilar to that found in the Awakened Forest in Mynydd Myrrddyn, though like that place I found that it was not a disturbing sensation. In contrast, Medius felt that the forest to be stern, forbidding even, and he was most insistent that we stay on the path. I am conscious that at least part of my Gift shares some heritage with the ancient magical practitioners of this land, while Medius's continuing descent into the grips of his monotheistic religion steadily divorces him from the natural magic about us. I wonder if such thoughts have occurred to him too and what he feels about them. Does he even care anymore?

We pressed on and Medius determined that the aura here was stronger, up to the second magnitude. As I peered through the veil into the realm of spirits the forest seemed to become even more vivid and 'real'. I could espy no spirits but nevertheless there was a definite presence and the veil felt parchment thin. We shall have to watch out for regios that might trap us. The sense that the forest and its denizens were watching us carefully was even stronger, some sort of guard has been set about this site, though whether it is naturally occurring or magically-created I know not.

About half a day in from the edge of the forest the trees began to thin out and Drudwhil reported that the path appeared to be coming to an end. Suspecting that a clearing and the covenant site lay close by, we stopped and Medius's magics identified a regio boundary up ahead. Looking forward and beyond the veil once more, I could espy spirits of men moving amongst the trees in front of us. We decided to withdraw a little, so we were out of sight of the edge of what we took to be the clearing, and set up a small camp, though we lit no fire. Drudwhil, who had the second of our three watches, reported seeing the spirit of an old man moving through the trees, tending them and possibly collecting leaves or sap from them. A long dead druid perhaps? Or maybe even the shade of a hermetic magus?

As dawn broke and we rewove our parmae, I noticed a crow perched in a tree not far from our camp. Taking care not to betray the fact that I had spotted it, I watched it out of the corner of my eye for a little while. It did not take me long to determine that it was not acting like a normal bird, or even one of the watchful creatures in this wood, it was quite clearly spying on us. Was it a familiar of a magus of the UnNamed House? Or perhaps some creature from Holy Isle? Given the nature of the place I could think of no legitimate reason for any magus's familiar to be here spying on us. Assuming if it were familiar it would have a parma protecting it I swiftly drew Garius's wand from my belt, spinning quickly to face the creature as I did so. The crow saw the danger as the burst of flame issued from the wand, but it had barely left the branch when the fire hit it square in the chest and it was blown apart.

Not having had the chance to warn Medius what was going on before acting, I began to explain but was suddenly interrupted by a great branch from the large oak behind me. It swung down at me with ferocious force but fortunately the herbam ward that Ildenacht had constructed for me some seasons ago held strong and the blow deflected harmlessly away. We barely had time to draw breath before a second branch hurled Marcus a dozen or so feet back into the undergrowth. I incanted lightning against the tree, the bolt cracking the top of its trunk and charring it substantially, but still the attacks came and this time Medius was the target. Unable to move quickly enough to avoid the blow, he was hit and badly wounded. Once more I sent a bolt of lightning crashing against it, this time the impact cracked its trunk and rocked it backwards and a moment later it stopped moving.

As I ran over to where Medius was lying, Drudwhil espied the spirit of the old man we had seen the previous night speaking to the tree and placing a calming hand upon its trunk. Marcus, somewhat winded but not gravely hurt, got to his feet and spoke with the spirit. He said that his name was Brynamar and told Marcus that the tree had been angered by the flames, though it was quiet now. Brynamar explained that the spirits of the trees had been spoken to by those who once dwelt here and told to guard against those bringing fire and axe. He was one of those folk and had cared for the trees and the plants hereabouts, though he claimed not to be a wizard.

Meanwhile, it was quickly evident that Medius's wounds were grave and potentially life-threatening, so, with the awful accident that had happened last time I cast the 'Incantation of the Body Made Whole' on Dialectica still all-too fresh in my mind, I gathered nine pawns of vis and cast the spell. Fortunately this time I made no error and Medius's wounds quickly healed.

It was clear that any further investigation from that point would like as not involve testing the regio that lay about the clearing and with the knowledge that I had to be at Solis Castle by mid-Spring to catch ship for Provence, I told Medius that I had to depart. He concurred, though his eagerness to press on with the investigation was clear. However, at least our mission had been quite successful for we had found the site and learnt a little of its nature. I escorted my sodales back to Cad Gadu and then we went our separate ways as I pressed on North to Solis Castle and the waiting ship which would take me to the Provence tribunal and quite possibly a mission from which I will not return.

Scribed by Cormoran

Summer


The summer came and without Astrius within the covenant. Therefore I took on the duties of writing this journal. The lands about us are fully decked out in there green summer clothes. The forest looks so dark and mysterious in the light of dawn with the mist rising off the mighty Severn. It is so different from the winter's bare branches reaching into the grey sky. This is known as the hungry season by our farmers as the crops are ripening and this is the last season before nature bestows its bounty on us.

We met on the first day of the season and i reported my meeting of Vaughn, seer of the giants and discussed the fact with my sodales that an alliance could not be binding as no wizard would willingly bind himself to any deal that could possible deny him access to his vis sites.

Later in the season I went to Scarfell covenant to assist them in the investigation of the hill known as giants hill. I took some men with me and after getting directions from Lear valley covenant approached Scarfell covenant.

Unfortunately I was met but a surly castellan who questioned me apparently to prove my claim that I was a wizard. He refused me entry and refused to fetch a magus and so my temper risen I turned my back on Scarfell covenant and made to return home but as we came to the forest my keen eyed scout Dicken noticed bowmen in preparation as ambush. I summoned a fog to enabled us to evade arrow fire but as I did so my fog was dispelled and suddenly we were shot at. We charged the forest line in an attempt to close with the foe blocking our path but suddenly a voice from the air above us called out a threat to halt. I commanded my men to stop and then again declared myself a wizard. After displaying my sigil Xanthia the pontifex appeared along with Magnus. Angered by their attack I stated that they had attacked me via there agents, and taking umbrage at this Magnus challenged me to a Certamen which was determined to be a Creo Corporem, even though he was a lot older than me I held my ground for almost a minute before his superior magics beat me unconscious.

I awakened some time later in there infirmary after being dragged back to the covenant. After I had recovered from the ordeal Xanthia approached me and apologised for the attack, being the magnanimous man that I am I decided to help them anyway. We explored the hill and discovered an old camp which was three weeks old according to Magnus' magics. As we ventured into the caves and then into deeper regio's we eventually came into a bone strewn cavern and I instantly detected the aroma of giant. I instructed Magnus to lead the man to safety and I brought up the rear the giant smelling the blood of my companions arose and pursued us but when at the border of the hill I talked to him and apologised for trespassing he forgave us and we were allowed to leave without incident. The giant was called Veruun and he stated as I was leaving that he was hungry now and would hunt for food. I instructed Magnus on the trip back to the covenant that he should avoid the area for a good time until the giants hunger was sated.

I returned from the trip happy in the knowledge that I had helped sought out a giant problem without having to kill a giant.

Autumn

Apples await in bough spread low,
the harvest heavy, the sunshine slow.
Soon to pick the golden delights,
and store them for the winters long nights.

The council meeting started with us discussing the potential for an attack on the Tintern barge and after Marius had described the potential targets I proposed we attack it in mid channel and slay the crew then sink the barge. This proposal was accepted and we resolved to carry out the plan on the next spring. I told the tale of giants hill and how I successfully resolved the question of a giant living there. My sodales then announced there studies for the season, Medius extracted vim vis, the Animal book was studied by Marius, Tiarnan used personal vis to expand his knowledge of magic, and I studied from the Perdo texts.

Later in the season the recap arrived and told us that King Richard had moved on acre with his Christian army and captured it with much death of the inhabitants. Apparently even in victory the conquering kings could not be happy and an argument over the spoils arose between King Richard and Emperor Leopold of Austria. Many of the monks have rallied to Richard's banner which is an advantage for us and I personally hope many of them are slain in this stupid quest to own a city on the other side of the world. Primus of order Ethiopicus got to Duranmar and began discussions about joining the order. A Tribunal meeting was announced to occur in the summer of the next year. A new Quaesitor arrived at Solis castle.

The rest of the season passed peacefully and I went down during the apple harvest to help pluck the golden fruits from the boughs of my trees. The harvest this year was excellent and with the good tending my orchards farmers give my trees, I am sure that the cider will be of good quality.

Winter

The frost quickly covered the countryside about the covenant reminding me of the time I was enthralled by the winter queen and nearly fell under her power. But to remind myself of the life that I nearly lost to her witchcraft I led the wassailing in the orchard, singing this song as we splashed the cider over the trunks. “Here's to thee, old apple tree, Whence thou mayest bud, Whence thou mayest blow, Whence thou mayest bear apples enow.”

At the council meeting Astrius reported on his trip to Ethiopicus but I sensed he left a lot out. I declared that I would study Imagonem, Medius made an item, Tiarnan investigated Dialectica's ring, Astrius studied Ignem vis and finally Marius studied from the Intellego tome.

With the cold and snow wrapping the Dean in its winter blanket we remained in the covenant and the season passed peacefully.
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