Scribed by Cynfelyn

Spring 1192 AD

The council began with Tiarnan reporting the results of his investigations in Dialectica’s enchanted ring. This will be a most useful addition to the covenant’s treasury for it contains not only a constant effect ‘Ward the Deadly blade’ but also ‘Shriek of the Impending Shafts’. With no other news of note forthcoming, Medius gave out the traditional vis dividend to those who had performed service to the covenant in the last year, 6 pawns to each magus save me. Marius made request for an additional 25d to be set aside annually for his spy network. Our member of house Jerbiton has been able to find some members of the Chepstow watch who are prepared to report on the movements of the Abbot and monks from Tintern in return for coin. Any such intelligence will be well worth such a relatively small extra investment and it was duly granted. Marius added that he hopes in the coming years to develop contacts within the shire reeve’s office in Monmouth.

With the tribunal meeting this summer, we had initial discussion on possible motions that the covenant could raise at that gathering. Cormoran put forward making an announcement about his ongoing role as ambassador to the giants of this tribunal and it was agreed that this would be worthwhile. There was no second suggestion forthcoming so the Pontifex requested we each think on possibilities over the coming season so that we could reach a conclusion at the summer meeting. With regard to general activities during the rest of Spring, Cormoran shall learn the spell ‘Veil of Invisibility’, Tiarnan will once more study from his own vis, Medius will read the animal books and Marius will attend court in Powys to fulfil his feudal responsibilities. He also requested permission to miss the Summer meeting so that he could journey straight from the welsh court to his spy network. For myself, I requested use of our ship, The Severn Boar, to take me to Solis Castle where the Praefecta wishes to speak with me.

Tiarnan mentioned the plans for an attack on the barge used by the christian cultists to ferry goods to Chepstow market for sale and asked if I would be able to make it back in time, for the next shipment is expected around the time of the Spring equinox. I am obviously eager to help strike back at these avowed and deadly enemies of ours and said that I would certainly strive to return swiftly. Given that I only journey to Solis Castle for a single meeting with the Praefecta, I expect to be able to join him and Cormoran in the assault. In truth, even were some storm or such to delay me, I doubt my sodales would struggle. Apparently the shipments are guarded by a couple of armed men and one of the monks. Cormoran's great strength and enchanted armour should be enough to easily overcome any mundane martial obstacles and Tiarnan possesses significant arts and spells pertaining to the arts of aquam and corporem.

With that I rode down to Blackney and boarded the Severn Boar. The weather was set fair and the ship made good time as it sailed smoothly into the Bristol channel, the Channel proper and then the North Sea as it made its way up the east coast until the fortress of Solis Castle hove into view. I shall not speak of the discussion between maga Orlania and I here, for it is private matter, but following that meeting I journeyed to Cad Gadu, the covenant where I grew up and served my apprenticeship. There I spoke with Prima Ex Miscellania and my childhood home became my Domus Magnus, for I was no longer Astrius, filius Garius, discipilus Flambeau, but now bore the name of Cynfelyn, filius Fenriata, member of Ex Miscellania. My new name is taken from an ancient welsh tale and was once borne by one of the legendary hounds of Belinos, an old celtic god of war.

So the world turns. Another of those things I had once thought would endure for as long as I lived is gone. Though it hurts not as much as Theo's betrayal, leaving the House that I once took such fierce pride in being part of weighs heavily upon me. Doubtless many, maybe even all, within House Flambeau will see it as an act of betrayal, but whosoever reads these words should know that it is not I who has broken faith with the ideals of House Flambeau. More however I shall not say.

Cynfelyn's private journal

I approached the meeting with Orlania with some trepidation. Although she has acted almost like a parens to me since the death of Garius, I am not sure that she will understand my change of heart with regard to the Ordo Ethiopicus. My fears were confirmed by the coolness in her manner when she greeted me. She has had missive from Primus Flambeau, how that two-faced dog Periculus shames that noble office, making it clear exactly what he really thinks of my decision as opposed to the two-faced words of praise in front of the other Primi.

I was roundly berated by Orlania for my arrogance in going against the 'wisdom' of the senior members of my house with regard to the threat that the Ordo Ethiopicus poses. It was saddening to see her disgust for my 'naivety' at being so easily deceived by the 'front' that the Ethiopians put on for us. I tried to explain that I had considered that we were being deceived, but to the very best of my judgment that was not the case and, that being so, I could not in all conscience consider them enemies. Thus, how could I go against the desire of the Order for peace talks? What right had I to murder an innocent man and set the Order on a course for an unnecessary war? Yet Orlania did not see it that way. She claimed that the House has good intelligence on the Ordo and has seen a side of them that belies the peaceful and enlightened country that I saw. Of course they can be fierce fighters, that I do not dispute, but I saw nothing to indicate that they were doing anything more than defending their own lands from the greed of the Verditius and the belligerent aggression of the Flambeau. And if the intelligence was so good how could they not know that the Ethiopians would not accept a woman to be a bodyguard for their King? To me it seems clear that something is very wrong within the House, but alas it seems that I am alone in such an opinion. I cannot help but wonder what else we have been lied to about?

Orlania was very disappointed in what I had done, or rather not done, and clearly feels that I have betrayed her faith in me, but worse was to come. The missive from the Primus made it clear that he wanted vengeance and was set on making my continued membership of the House intolerable. Orlania warned me not to attend the tribunal this year for the moon will rise full during that time. I was also cautioned to avoid redcaps for Periculus will use his wiles to ensure a steady succession of wizard's wars against me. Even if I am initially victorious, sooner or later one of my opponents will get lucky or one whose arts are superior to mine will come against me. Orlania's assessment was stark and she was frank in her advice that I should look to find another house. Whether or not it is Periculus's aim to forever damn me, and thus with it my decision to spare Primus Ethiopicus, in the eyes of my fellow Flambeau by forcing me to quit the House, it seems I have little choice. Despite our current disagreement, I still trust Orlania completely and know she would not say such if she thought there was any alternative.

So it was with heavy heart that I thanked her for her warning and bid the Severn Boar go about its own business, for I had to take the road across country to Cad Gadu. Fortunately Prima Ex Miscellania was within the covenant and agreed to see me. I explained in full and frank detail the reasons for seeking audience with her, holding nothing back. Although she was troubled by what I had to say, she did not seem greatly surprised. Fenriata said that she has long feared that some within House Flambeau may have fallen as many within House Tremere have and she questioned me intently on the senior members of my house. Although it sat a little uncomfortably with me to do so, I answered her questions as best I could.

Fenriata then told me that she knew of the matter that I am bound by the Rule of Silence not to speak of and said that she had need of the weapon against the corrupt that lies within Swallowcliff to take with her to the Grand Tribunal in five years time. My first task as a member of her house shall be to recover that weapon and I was instructed to cast all other duties and plans aside in order to achieve my mission. I gladly accepted, though if truth be know my heart quailed a little at the thought of entering that dark place where such an experienced member of my house, or rather, my former house, perished before. Nevertheless I shall strive to do as she bids and I am confident that Medius will join with me in such a venture. With that I was formally accepted into the House of Ex Miscellania.

As I rode home, I thought again on the vote I had cast in the last elections for Praeco. My decision to side with Ponrius sits even less well with me now. Although I do not believe he is a diabolist, just a cruel, petty and vengeful man, I have seen first hand what such an individual can do to a house, so what might Ponrius do to this tribunal? My fears that Fenriata may be playing the House of Ex Miscellania for a fool seem groundless. In any event, there is little I can do about them now for my fortunes and loyalties are by necessity now committed to that House and I shall stand or fall as it does.

I must however not surrender wholly to the desire for vengeance that burns within me. It becomes ever easier to wield the Morrigan's blade and I must take care not to lose myself to the whims of one of the many gods that have twisted so many magi out of true. I should visit the Heart of the Forest and seek once again the grace of the Anu, so long as I can be sure I am not being scryed upon by my true enemies. Maybe I should even attend the Anu dedications that of late Cormoran has been so enthusiastically holding at the Spring, though from what I have overheard the grogs say about it I shall be sure to leave before the ceremony reaches its conclusion!

I cannot help but wonder what my pater would make of it all. I believe he would understand. Garius taught me to be both strong and true of heart and while I have made mistakes, oft-times ones for which others have paid dearly, I will continue to strive to uphold his legacy, even if it must now be from without House Flambeau not within.


After returning to the covenant, I called on Medius's sanctum to inform him of my change of name and asked whether I would need to reapply for membership of the covenant. Although I could sense he was extremely curious as to the reason for my leaving House Flambeau he was polite enough not to press me for information. Happily it seems that Carwyn's need to reapply was not on account of him having changed House or name, but the fact that he had been, at least temporarily, without a House. As I joined House Ex Miscellania without having been renounced from House Flambeau, my status as a member of Severn Temple covenant remains secure.

Cynfelyn's private journal

A small mercy perhaps but an important one nevertheless. I am confident that Medius and Cormoran would not hesitate to vote for me again were I forced to reapply, but of my other sodales I am less sure. Marius may yet blame me for the death of his mater and while I would hope that given my unquestioning support for Tiarnan's reapplication, I could have counted on his support, in truth I cannot claim to fathom his fey nature. I spoke further with Medius about Fenriata's instruction to me regarding Swallowcliff and he is happy to join me in such a quest. We set plan to revisit the ruins of Halls of the Forest covenant in Autumn.

The council meeting began with an account of the attack on the christian cult's barge. It seems that it was a resounding success, all on board were slain without sustaining any injuries and the ledger of the monk's business dealings was recovered before the boat, with all goods on board, was sunk. With luck this should seriously curtail the cult's finances and their ability to by influence and favour hereabouts.

Following that I announced my change of name, much to my sodales' surprise, though once more I kept my council on the reasons that lay behind my decision. After it became clear that I was not prepared to elaborate further there was a brief discussion on the possible instances of wizard's war that I could face in the near future and Medius proffered what support he could give if magi tried to force their way into the covenant seeking me. While in truth he will be limited to certamen, nevertheless, the fear of losing such and being rendered unconscious with a mortal foe nearby may give any attackers pause for thought.

Matters then turned to the tribunal and what our second motion should be. Cormoran raised the idea of raising sanction against Holy Isle, though it was quickly pointed out to him the futility of such a motion, for the tribunal is unable to raise sanction against a dedicate covenant and such is already to be raised by his, our, Prima at the Grand Tribunal. His next suggestion was to invite all Stonehenge magi to the Anu festival next Spring. Once again, this was not well received, with Tiarnan being the first to inquire what he would do if magi from Holy Isle were to turn up. After Cormoran's third suggestion, that he should announce his interest in the pagan gods, Medius brought things to a rapid conclusion, stating that it was not compulsory to raise a second motion.

We then moved on to our individual plans for the coming season. Cormoran, Medius and Tiarnan will travel to Blackthorn for the tribunal while I will remain within the covenant, Marius being abroad on covenant service in the Dean. Regarding seasonal studies: Cormoran will journey to Cad Gadu on covenant service to scribe a copy of their pagan texts; Tiarnan will once more study from some personal vis; and, Medius will train his apprentice.

The season had not long progressed, with the daylight hours not yet having reached their zenith, when Hywel, the sergeant of Bear squad, heard wolf howls coming from the west. They were frequent and went on for some few minutes so he sent word to the magi and I hurried down to hear what the wolves were upset about. Although the howls had ceased when I reached the wall I could see a great plume of smoke rising from some distance away, emanating from somewhere north of Symond's Hill. After a swift discussion with Medius, I sallied out with Bear squad, Drudwhil and Marcus. We set a good pace through the green forest towards the source of the commotion. Whatever training methods the captain is using appear to be bearing fruit. For once there were no delays caused by stragglers or grogs tripping over roots or their own clumsy feet.

As we neared Huntley Hill, Drudwhil picked up the scent of animal blood and after casting about, his keen nose soon picked up fresh tracks of a wounded beast, so fresh that the blood was still wet to the touch. It appeared to be heading southeast, roughly in the direction we had just come from, was it heading to the covenant? Drudwhil raced off after the beast as we followed as quickly as we could. After some chasing, he managed to corner the creature, one of the werewolves from Huntley, in a narrow gully. The wolf had been burnt quite badly along its left flank and was in some pain. We caught up and I was able to ascertain that its name was Bledri, a shapeshifter from the “Hidden Vale”. Its account was a little vague as to who had attacked who first, but it seems that a number of the shapeshifters came across a flame-wielding warrior within the woods nearby. The description of a bearded man with a badly-scarred face dressed in red robes sounded very much like Magus Lycestus, whom well I knew from my journey to Ethiopia. I tended the wolf's wounds as best I could and set off to try and track down Lycestus before he could wreak any more mischief within the forest. Any encounter with him could be hazardous indeed, for if Primus Flambeau sought to make a public example of him then it was possible that he could be acting outside the Code. If so, it was highly plausible he had come here seeking vengeance, blaming me for the failure of our mission and his legal woes.

The werewolf was able to show us a secret wolf track that would take us right up to the regio's boundary and should give us a good chance of approaching unseen. Nevertheless, I instructed Marcus and the grogs to return home, even if Lycestus were acting entirely within the code, he could murder them with relative impunity were he so minded and from what I have seen of him I can well imagine him to be so bitter and petty-minded. Thus, Drudwhil, Bledri and I crept along the winding track until I could feel the heat emanating from the blazing forest up ahead. The fire was fierce and while there was no sign of Lycestus, if he were within the regio I would have to first extinguish the flames to reach him. That proved harder than I had hoped, the flames had taken a firm hold on the trees and despite repeated castings of the 'Mighty Torrent of Water' I found myself doing little other than slowing the fire's advance. I resorted to summoning 'Clouds of Rain and Thunder' and though it took two castings of that spell, finally the flames died. As I scanned about the sodden, smoking burnt remains of the woods thereabouts, Bledri slipped through into the regio to try and find out what had happened to his kin within. He reemerged soon afterwards, his manner cowed, tail held low as he relayed how all within the regio had been slain by fire.

As I pondered my next move I suddenly remembered Lycestus had a familiar. Looking hurriedly up I espied the familiar shape of a sparrowhawk drifting high above in the sky. Cursing my slowness of wit, I made quickly for the shelter of the thick forest canopy so that Lycestus could track us no longer. There I bade Bledri depart, advising him to lie low for a little while. He slunk off to find any surviving members of his pack while Drudwhil and I set off back in the direction of the covenant via the deepest, shadiest parts of the forest as we pondered our next move. That night, as Drudwhil and I pondered how best to return unseen to the covenant, we heard wolf howls from the South as Bledri made contact with a few survivors from the Huntley pack.

Meanwhile, as I had been battling the forest fire he had started, Lycestus came to the south gate of the covenant. Medius stalled him for a little while, confusing him with talk of there being no magus Astrius resident within the covenant, but Lycestus was not to be denied and he challenged the Pontifex to certamen. The arts of creo and vim were chosen but Medius was only able to hold out for a moment. Even that slight delay was long enough for Tiarnan, who had heard something of the commotion, to arrive, but his order to shut the gate was too late to prevent Lycestus from pushing his way into the covenant and demanding to know my whereabouts. Lycestus ignored Tiarnan's efforts to impede his entry, pausing only to sneeringly dare him to issue a challenge of certamen, before striding into the Great Hall. There he took a chair by the fire and sat done, apparently meaning to wait for my arrival. Tiarnan kept a careful eye on him, but after a few minutes, to the shock and alarm of my sodalis, he, or rather his image, flickered and vanished. Knowing that this potentially hostile Flambeau was now wandering freely round the covenant, presumably invisible, Tiarnan used magics of his own to hide his own form and set off to try and track him down.

Tiarnan managed to track him to the mundane library but it may have been a ruse for after entering the door was shut behind him and held closed with a rego herbam spell. Although Tiarnan's arts were comfortably enough for him to break free, he was unable to locate Lycestus in the invisible cat and mouse game that followed through the keep's corridors and stairwells.

I sneaked back into the covenant later that night, using darkness and a summoned rainstorm to conceal my entrance, and carefully crept back into the keep. I noticed a thin layer of dust about some of the corridors by my sanctum, presumably conjured by Lycestus to help spot Tiarnan's movements. To my alarm, but not great surprise, the dust extended into my sanctum. As I had feared, Lycestus had been within and no doubt taken arcane connection. I had mixed emotions as I checked my sanctum lest Lycestus still be lurking there invisibly. As I burst through into each room, swinging my sword through the empty air where an man might stand, the blood was singing in my veins, and a large part of me hoped that I would find him waiting within but such was not to be for my sanctum was empty, save for a fine layer of dust.

Although Drudwhil could find no specific trail, he confirmed that the stench of Periculus's attack dog lingered within. I burnt my bed and such furs as could be used as connection but there was no way I could be sure that Lycestus had not used magic to pick a hair from my rooms. Clearly I had to assume that Lycestus had taken an arcane connection and given what I know of Periculus's underhand dealings and Lycestus's potential pending punishment, I could not safely assume that they would act within the Code. With that in mind I informed my sodales that I would be departing the covenant until the end of the season when any connection based on my hair would have lost its potency. Not wishing to leave the covenant without a magus, Tiarnan thus decided to remain behind, while Medius made the short journey to Blackthorn alone, Cormoran presumably travelling down with the magi from Cad Gadu.

The tribunal meeting was poorly attended, with just three of Stonehenge's two dozen or so Ex Miscellanians present. There was a sombre atmosphere as Ponrius rose to address the tribunal and announced his changes to the way the tribunal would be run in future. Instead of each covenant being able to raise two motions, any individual magus may raise a motion but it must be one that leads to a vote of some sort and it must also be cleared with the Praeco in advance. Aside from preventing announcements of forthcoming tribunal events like Bonisagan-organised symposia and adverts from Moravius and his like, it will allow Ponrius to veto motions he does not like and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in private. Ponrius allowed two days for magi to reconfigure any motions and submit them to him before the tribunal proper began.

Before the meeting resumed, there was apparently some argument between Cormoran and Magnus, which resulted in Quaesitor Galfriedas from Holy Isle and Medius being drawn in, for it concerned the nature and whereabouts of the cauldron from Theo’s sanctum. On hearing the name Myrnyddawn, Galfriedas stated that he was a known ally of the UnNamed House and demanded to know where his castle lay. Cormoran agreed to take him to the edge of the regio in which it lies after the meeting.

The tithes required by Stonehenge and Holy Isle were low this time, just three and two pawns per magus, respectively. The first motion was from Kira from Carrion Moor, who proposed that those covenants with ships should commit such for one season before the next tribunal to help forge links with the Hanseatic league of foreign merchants that Kira says grows in power on the continent. The motion was defeated by ten votes to twelve. The next was raised by Cormoran, who suggested that before magi initiate any interaction with giants he should first be informed so that he might come to investigate and resolve any dispute. He stated that the giants as a whole in this isle may grow angered by deaths of their kin and take vengeance out on other magi. Ursula requested clarification on the exact nature of the motion, and, after some prompting from Ponrius, it was established that Cormoran intended that unless there was an immediate threat he should be informed. The Praefecta took some exception to this, pointing out that this clashed with her role as the tribunal’s defender. Cormoran suggested that he could be regarded as the Praefecta’s assistant when it came to giants. The motion was defeated by eleven votes to nine.

The third and final motion was brought by maga Xanthia of Scafell covenant. She requested that the band of hedge wizards that have plagued her covenant of late should be formally named as enemies of the tribunal before the threat they pose grows worse or spreads further afield. Cormoran asked if they were Gifted, but Xanthia said that they had been too violent in their actions to ever make investigation of such possible. Archimagus Jolyon said that it was important to find out if they were Gifted before setting the tribunal against them, but Xanthia simply repeated her previous answer, inviting the Archimagus to try for himself if he felt so inclined. The vote was split, with ten votes for and against, Ponrius’s casting vote deciding that the motion would be passed. That was the end of the motions, all that remained was to chose those three magi who would represent the tribunal at the forthcoming Grand tribunal meeting. Seven candidates stood, Theophilus of Bonisagus from Blackthorn, Motus of Flambeau from Holy Isle, Ursula of Tremere from Holy Isle, Xanthia of Tremere, Cormoran, Praefecta Orlania and Elicia of Tremere from Trevalga. After speeches and a short debate, Theophilus, Motus and Orlania were duly elected by a comfortable margin. With that the tribunal ended.

Cynfelyn's private journal

After some deliberation about which regio to retreat to, I settled upon the Morrigan's Hill. In truth I would have rather chosen some other place, but Mynydd Myrddyn is known to Holy Isle and in any event on my last visit was in the grip of some spirit-plagued darkness and I dared not travel to the Heart of the Forest lest I reveal its location to any scrying upon me. So it was, with cautious yet resolute step, I entered the faerie forest. No fey accosted us as Drudwhil and I entered the regio and moved without problem into the dark eaves of that perpetually autumnal wood. As the woods grew ever darker and thicker, I could see yellow wolfish eyes glinting in the darkness and many legged shapes moving noiselessly through the canopy overhead but we were allowed to pass freely. After a short while the forest opened out onto the high hill and we climbed up the steep slope until we reached the top and the black stone that stands there. It was not long before the dread figure of the Morrigan materialised, black steel sword in one hand, human skull in the other. I asked for sanctuary from my enemies and she agreed to give it. The twisted and bent figure of Beddwyn emerged from the tree line in answer to some unspoken summons and guided me back down the hill to a wooded bluff, which concealed a shallow cave. She said that it was sheltered by her mistress’s magic and would remain so for as long as I remained in her mistress’s favour. So there I sat in that dark place, waiting for Beddwyn to return, as she had agreed to do when the Morrigan’s shadow next falls upon the forest leaves, signalling the start of autumn, leaving me with plenty of time to brood on the dark road that I am seemingly now fated to walk. Let us see what light I can bring to bear upon it.


On the first day of autumn, Beddwyn returned and led me back to the mundane level of the forest from whence I made my way home. She did offer to magically transport me back but I declined to lower my parma to permit her to do such. We may have a common enemy but that does not mean that I will show such trust to one of the Morrigan's minions.

The council meeting took place that morning before I returned. My sodales discussed the events of the tribunal and its new format, with the consensus being that it was only going to be used by Ponrius to manipulate matters to his own advantage. Talk then turned to the monks of Tintern as Marius has discovered that Clearwell Mines are owned by them and believes that we can further hurt their finances. It seems however that most of the monks with the capability to work magic have now moved away from Tintern, notably the magistrate, Oswald, who now resides in London. Two magi agreed to dedicate their time to the covenant, Medius to extract vim vis and Cormoran to once more journey to Cad Gadu to continue his work in scribing a copy of Cad Gadu's Pagan Knowledge books.

Once back in the covenant, Drudwhil and I conducted a careful search of my sanctum but all seemed empty and quiet. I borrowed the bell from the council chamber, enchanted with “The Invisible Eye Revealed”, but it gave no indication that I was being scryed upon. Although I could find no trace of any connections having been taken, Drudwhil's keener senses found what appeared to be a recent 'scratch' on my bedstead. Working on the assumption that if one had been taken then it was likely not the only one I went to see Medius and requested permission to move my sanctum into Dialectica's former quarters in the basement. This was duly granted, so, after burning all my furnishings and non-essential equipment, including spell notes, I began the painstaking and tedious business of moving my laboratory downstairs.

My efforts were cut short as Magus Alannus came to the covenant just before the equinox with a declaration of Wizard's War from Magus Fornaxius of House Flambeau. He apparently hails from Lac du Nord covenant in Normandy and his declaration stated that the 'intractable dispute' centred around “debts outstanding over many years”, signed off by Maga Hastia of Doissetep, the new Quaesitor of House Flambeau and confirmed by the Senior Quaesitor of the Normandy tribunal. As well as this declaration, Alannus brought mundane news from the East where King Richard of England had captured the city of Acre from Saladin's forces before becoming embroiled in some dispute with Prince Leopold of Austria over loot. He is now said to be heading back to England, where he will find an unhappy land, with the Regent, his brother Prince John, meeting with the Barons to temper their unhappiness about tax levels. Of news hermetic, Praefeta Orlania has called a Wizard's March next Spring at Solis Castle to hunt down Stonehenge's enemies.

After Alannus had retired, I discussed the impending wizard's war with Drudwhil. My first course of action was to ride to Blackthorn to try and speak with Senior Quaesitor Serenia, for the grounds on which the war was declared are clearly spurious; however, after announcing myself at the covenant gates, my heart sank some moments later when I saw Ponrius appear on the battlements. The Praeco sneeringly told me that Serenia was away on quaesitorial business. I did not bother to press him further nor request hospitality and turned and rode home without further ado. Whether or not he was lying I know not, for there is a fair chance that he was telling the truth and Serenia is investigating the reports that the traitor Arcturus had been seen in York. If so, even if I could somehow make it there and back within the span of a moon, I very much doubt I should be able to find her, given the necessity for subtlety in such an investigation. So it was that I began what preparations I could for the war. With Medius’s kind permission, I stored my laboratory equipment in his antechamber and gathered my vis supplies into readily portable form.

Two weeks before the planned start of the war, Magus Fornaxius appeared at Blackney and sent me a letter via one of the old grogs dwelling there. In it he offered a final chance to “settle my debts”, which he claimed amount to the princely sum of half a queen of vis, or meet him in battle on Huntley Hill upon the rising of the full moon. To add further insult he invoked the name of my pater, Garius, in an effort to rile me such that I would meet him as requested. I confess such a ruse nearly worked, but Drudwhil bade me see sense and pick my own battle field. With that in mind, I sent return of letter to be left at Blackney stating that I would meet him by the hill in the dark faerie woods that lie within the forest. The night before the full moon was due to rise, I duly made my way down through the woods to the faerie regio, taking care to ensure that I was not followed. I managed to make my way unmolested to the shadowed woods at the foot of the Morrigan's Hill and there made two camps, a fake one close to the bottom of the hill and another, carefully hidden, that overlooked the first and there I sat and waited. After three long days had passed and I guessed as best I could that autumn had passed and with it the wizard's war had come to an end, I headed out of the regio. After losing my way a little on the way home, when I finally emerged into the mundane level of the forest the trees were bare and there was a distinct chill in the air.


I arrived back at the covenant a few days into the season and thus missed the recasting of the Aegis of the Hearth. Although I was pretty sure that the permitted interval for wizard's war had come to an end until I spoke to my sodales I could not be sure, so I was put on edge when the grog on the gate refused me entry and raised the alarm. I conjured a fog about me lest Fornaxius was anywhere near and this breached the Aegis. With the alarm going both Cormoran and Medius came to the gate to see what was going on and whether it was indeed really me who sought entry. A row then ensued between my two sodales, with Cormoran claiming that he could feel ongoing, repeated breaches of the Aegis and he accused Medius of being under the influence of demonic psychomachia. Medius told Cormoran that as Pontifex that he had the right to admit whomsoever he so chose and ordered the somewhat bemused grog to open the gate. However, Cormoran was not satisfied and before the gate could be opened he cast a spontaneous muto herbam spell to keep the gate firmly shut. Medius climbed to the top of the wall and told me to go to the temple gate. With that, Medius strode quickly across the courtyard, but Cormoran apported in front of him and challenged him to certamen. Cormoran picked muto and Medius vim, the contest lasted but a short time and Medius duly conceded the point. After some further delays Cormoran came to the wall and decided that it was indeed me and let me in. Meanwhile, Tiarnan had gone into the regio to try and find me, my estimate that the wizard's war was over having been correct, and although I was not there he did come across Fornaxius and after a cautious approach guided my erstwhile opponent out of the regio.

A few weeks later, Alannus came to the covenant yet again and with a sense of resignation I took the proffered scroll. As I had suspected it was yet another declaration of wizard's war, this time from Maga Palearia, filia Viperion, discipilus Flambeau, from Val Negra covenant. Her pater, Viperion, is a senior member of my former house and a noted supporter of that cur, Periculus. A follower of the Aprimor tradition, Viperion is also renowned for his interest in and exploration of magical and faerie regio's and I would imagine that is why, after Fornaxius's failure to find me with the faerie forest, his apprentice was chosen to come after me next. The ostensible intractable dispute cited as reason for the war was a “grave insult to the honour of House Flambeau”, though this was largely nominal for it was once again signed by Periculus's quaesitorial lackey, Hastia, albeit counter-signed by a different Senior Quaesitor to the last war. From best as I could recall from previous House meetings, Palearia is about the same age as me and after some consideration I decided to try and ride out the war from my sanctum in the basement of the keep, reasoning that to get at me she would have to force entry through a narrow doorway rather than the myriad of approaches she might be able to find where I to await her within the woods. Also, sooner or later I would have to kill one of my challengers if I were ever to put an end to the wizard's wars from my former house.

The covenant's Aegis was breached on the night before the full moon, although I could not sense it myself it nevertheless set my sodales on edge as they debated what they should and could do in response. Cormoran went on a search with a mirror but could find no sign of any intruder, whether visible or invisible. Frustrated he settled down to wait by the only stairwell leading down to the basement. The next evening, with the full moon high in the night sky, the alarm sounded and Medius and Tiarnan spotted a figure moving beside one of the covenant outbuildings that house the guest rooms. Medius gave chase and challenged the unseen magus to certamen, albeit without proposing an art. A haughty woman's voice then said “perdo” and Medius responded with “vim”. Unfortunately for the Pontifex, this was clearly a combination which favoured Palearia for after just one exchange he was almost brought to his knees and so he conceded the contest. Before Tiarnan could react, the still invisible maga challenged him with the same technique. He responded with “mentem” and while he managed to hold out for a little longer than Medius it was only a short time before he lay unconscious on the cold ground. She must have quickly moved inside for not long after she issued a further challenge in her favoured art and after some argument Cormoran ceded his position by the stairs without conflict and moved aside to let her pass and with that the fight began.

Cynfelyn's private journal

The geese I had had purchased and set in the corridor outside my sanctum to warn of any unseen approach honked loudly for a brief moment before all was quiet again. I waited just inside the doorway of my sanctum, having conjured a wall of shimmering ice on the far wall to act as a mirror, poised to strike down Palearia if she was rash enough to set foot inside the door. All was quiet though throughout that night and the next day. It was not until the second evening that she made her first move. A little after dusk the door began to disintegrate and Drudwhil charged out in a brave but rash attempt to catch her off guard. There was no sign of her outside, neither visible nor audible, that I could perceive and so I shouted for Drudwhil to get back inside the sanctum. As he raced back inside the air inside my antechamber became unbreathably foul. I quickly cast a spontaneous 'Chamber of Spring Breezes' but no sooner had I done so than the temperature became bitingly cold as Palearia followed up with some sort of perdo ignem effect. We quickly withdrew back to the doorway of my inner laboratory, which she would be unable to see and thus target without actually entering my antechamber. Fearing that she might be able to slip in unnoticed, and somewhat taken aback by the nature of Palearia's attack, I conjured a wall of stone to block the doorway. There then followed a tit-for-tat exchange as she destroyed the barriers I created until a stalemate was reached when she proved seemingly unable to destroy the webs that I conjured, larger and tougher than the well-known fourth magnitude spell that they were. As time wore on I hatched a plan with Drudwhil and Marcus to try and claim the initiative and take the fight to her.

At dawn, as the webs crumbled into nothingness, we waited intently, straining our senses lest she tried to come at us again but all was quiet. As the minutes ticked on with no sign of any attack I set the plan into motion. Using my 'Leap of Homecoming' potion I apported up to the infirmary and crept down the stairs. I burnt most of my creo vis and conjured the same reflective sheen of ice I had set upon my inner antechamber wall across the whole floor of the basement. Having previously prepared for this by casting spells to enable all of us to move safely on the ice, Drudhwil and Marcus charged out, scanning the floor about us for sign of our foe. There was no immediate sign of her in either corridor so I joined my companions in checking the two guest rooms, cell, magical storeroom and treasury. All the rooms appeared empty but I was taking no chances and went from room to room filling each with repeated castings of the 'Weaver's Trap of Webs' and then conjuring brilliant light within. However to my frustration there was no sign of Palearia to be found at all. Assuming that she must have apported out and with the basement apparently secured, we discussed our next move, but not before I had filled the stairwell with webs to prevent Palearia from sneaking down and catching us unawares. We came to the tragically flawed conclusion that she must have crept or apported out and was resting in some hiding place else where within the covenant. Reasoning that she was highly unlikely to risk apporting back down into a potentially hostile area, she would have to return via the stairwell. So, taking two more 'Leap of Homecoming' potions from the magical storeroom, Marcus and I apported up to the infirmary and carefully snuck into the stairwell, taking up positions just above the ground floor entrance with the wall of the stairwell lined with reflecting ice once more.

As we waited for Palearia to try and return from whatever hiding place she had taken up somewhere within the covenant grounds, I felt cautiously optimistic that our ambush had a fair chance of catching her. Then, after just a few minutes, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left arm and realised to my horror that we had made a horrible misjudgment and Palearia was in the basement and attacking Drudwhil. As I frantically made my way down the stairs, burning animal vis to destroy my own webs, I felt sharp pains in my right arm and then left leg and sensed that Drudwhil was near death. In my desperation, knowing with sick certainty that I was not going to be able to reach him in time to save him, I called out to the Morrigan to reveal my enemy to me, but if she heard me I was ignored. As I emerged into the basement I could dimly sense Drudwhil at the far end of the corridor, but then all went black as Palearia cast 'Well Without Light'. Almost screaming with frustration I conjured a sword and set a 'Blade of Virulent Flame' upon it to give me something to see with. Unfortunately the light from my sword also gave Palearia an easy target and almost immediately I felt my parma assailed. As I hurried over to Drudwhil I felt my parma assailed again and crumble as a terrible thirst came upon me and I felt the skin of my face shrivel and crack as I was assailed by repeated castings of 'Curse of the Desert'.

I would almost certainly have died there and then if it were not for the heroics of Marcus. Although unable to see anything in the magical darkness, he followed me into the basement, swinging his sword in front of him as he followed the wall outside my sanctum. He must have come close enough to Palearia to threaten her, for the attacks on me suddenly stopped and I was able to restore my parma, though still feeling groggy and sick from the effects of Palearia's spells. As I struggled to clear my head and come to terms with the aching void within me that Drudwhil's death had left, I heard a loud clatter on the stone as Marcus's shield hit the floor. Knowing that another spell would finish me I charged towards the noise, swinging the Morrigan blade in a wide arc about me. Although I connected with nothing I kept running and made it back to my sanctum whereupon I quickly filled the corridor behind me with webs and set a stone wall in front of the door.

I stood in my sanctum, wounded and alone, knowing that when fatigue eventually overcame me and I fell asleep, it would probably spell my end. Then as dawn neared, I thought I heard the faint cry of a raven in the distance. Immediately afterwards, I felt the Morrigan's blade hum with power and as I drew it I heard the voice of the spirit of the Renounced Magus Ruaridh whispering from the blade. He told me that, although he knew not what, something had caused the Morrigan to intervene in the fight. He told me that my enemy was hiding within the wall of the corridor outside my sanctum, using something akin to the 'The Silent Vigil', and she was stirring and about to emerge. I hesitated for a moment, wary of exactly what was being offered and why, but the thought of exacting revenge on the maga who had killed my familiar was not something I could pass up. Guided by the spirit, I crept along the corridor and sure enough after a moment the slight form of a middle-aged looking woman emerged from the wall, a look of horror appearing on her face as I screamed an invocation to the Morrigan and plunged the blade deep into her chest. She slumped to the floor and without pausing I pulled the blade out and with a single smooth motion cut her head from her shoulders.

Once I had slain her, I marched up the stairs and knocked on Medius's door. When he answered, I held up Palearia's head and asked him to verify that I had indeed killed Maga Palearia. This he duly did and without further ado I returned to the basement to check upon the bodies of my companions. Marcus's body lay where he had fallen, his body little more than a dessicated husk and his great shield cracked and broken. I hope and pray that he has now found the redemption and peace that he sought, for he acquitted himself with courage and honour throughout his true and faithful service. I could not have asked for more from him and will not forget his companionship in many dark and dangerous places, perhaps most notably our journey to the very North of the Novgorod tribunal.

Of Drudwhil's body there was no sign, but after questioning some of the coven folk I learned that Cormoran had carried the body out of the covenant. I quickly sought him out and demanded to know where Drudwhil's body was, but Cormoran said that he had taken it outside the covenant and destroyed it. I was a little irked, but realised that he had done it to try and help me, fearing that it could be used as an arcane connection to me by Maga Palearia so I said nothing more and set about preparations for Marcus's funeral pyre.

The days that followed were something of a blur, but some time later I found my feed leading me down to the circle of trees that make up the heart of the forest. I stepped through the gap in the trees and found myself bathed in warm, dappled sunlight. Washing the grime and blood from my face and matted beard in the cool, clear stream that flows through that place, I then laid down in the lee of the great oak and slept deeply, dreaming that I was cradled in the comforting arms of the Anu. After a couple of days when my senses had returned, though I still felt the loss of Drudwhil keenly, I began the journey back to the covenant, determined that those who seek to break me and all the others who stand in the way of the evil that seeks to corrupt the Order will not win. I have been sorely wounded and weakened, and may yet not prove to have the strength to prevail, but I am not broken yet and while I can still fight I shall. In doing so I honour my pater's memory much more than any empty words from those who shame the House he once served so proudly. However, with the passing of Drudwhil, all those who were close to me when I bore the name of Astrius are now gone, the last and dearest to me slain by the house that, as Astrius, I once served. Although Prima Fenriata said that I could in future return to House Flambeau if I so chose, that will not happen, my time as a member of that house is in the past now. Just as Drudwhil is no more, so is Astrius.