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Scribed by Tiarnan

Spring 1193 AD


The Council assembled for its first meeting of the year on a chilly spring morning. I am tempted to continue Cormoran’s tradition of commenting on the state or our orchards each season, yet I fear my untutored eye would miss many of the subtleties of the apples’ condition, earning my journal the displeasure and scorn of any future farming-inclined Magi. So, fearing the judgement of posterity, I can nevertheless report from my morning walk that the forest hereabouts seems hale and hearty, the waters of the spring remain cool and serene and the atmosphere of the covenant itself seems untroubled by any dangers that lurk beyond our borders.

We conducted our discussions without Cynfelyn, who had left the covenant at some point during the previous season, most probably still grieving for his lost familiar. Medius open proceedings by asking each Magus in turn for their views on whether the Charter remained suitable for our current situation given the changes in our circumstances since it was effectively imposed on us by the Concilium Quaesitori many years ago. My view was that it has made no appreciable difference to the success of the covenant than the previous version of the Charter, and a quick perusal of the list of Magi who have died since it was introduced shows that has certainly failed in its main aim of reducing the dangers of dwelling here. This suggests to me that it is not the form of leadership that makes Severn Temple such an eventful place; indeed, my view is that it the site’s place at the conflux of so many mystical powers that brings both colour and peril here. I do not view the Charter as a terrible document or a gross restriction on the rights of members, yet it does seem unbalanced in its authorities and responsibilities with little apparent benefit.

Other members of the Council spoke more positively of the Charter, yet I sensed they regarded it as being broadly reasonable rather than a work of great wisdom and provenance. Medius noted that we would be able to petition the Concilium Quaesitori to change it if we were so minded, yet there seems little chance of success prior to the expiration of its initial term given the recent events and the current makeup of that august body. As is so often the case, we resolved to do nothing for the moment.

I had almost written off the debate as an academic exercise when Medius revealed his motives for bringing up the matter. He stated that, if the Charter was to have any worth, its terms needed to be taken seriously. Too often in the past, he declared, the Council had turned a blind eye to behaviour that potentially ran contrary to the strictures of the Charter. In an effort to stem this tide, he brought a charge of Vitium against Cormoran for his behaviour during one of the Wizards’ Wars fought by Cynfelyn in recent months. The crux of the matter was a dispute between the two Magi over whether to permit Cynfelyn to re-enter the covenant following the lapsing of the first Wizards' War. Fearing the covenant was under attack, Cormoran had attempted to stop Medius from opening the gate by using magic to fuse the timbers. The dispute soon turned into a bout of Certamen, which Cormoran won handily, and Medius had no argument with that course of action. Yet Medius declared that Cormoran’s initial use of magic represented a direct flouting of his right under the Charter to admit to the covenant whomsoever he wanted, as long as he took responsibility for their actions. The Council debated for a while whether Cormoran’s actions were reasonable given his belief that the covenant was in danger, yet the matter was swiftly brought to a conclusion when he agreed to admit his guilt and offered to pay a fine of 10 pawns of vis, which was higher than the penalty of 3 pawns demanded by Medius. There seemed little point in voting, but Quaesitori tend to be sticklers for protocol, so I record here that Cormoran was unanimously found guilty of Vitium and ordered to pay ten pawns of vis to the covenant, which he did immediately. The rest of the meeting passed without incident.

The season itself was also quiet. Medius left early on to take a ship to Dublin to pursue his investigation of the Fells. I learned that Cynfelyn returned shortly after the start of the season, but he also left soon thereafter to battle the deadly enemies of the Tribunal who have so most grievously menaced the good folk of Scarfell covenant. I can think of no other matters of note, save the fact that, for the first time in many years, Cormoran did not lead the celebrations at the Equinox, apparently preferring instead to stay in his sanctum. Has he lost interest already?

Summer

Marius opened the Council meeting by summarising the news he had picked up during his time travelling around the Dean. King Richard has been shipwrecked on his way home from his Crusade to the Levant, and it is rumoured that he has been taken hostage by the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, who is aggrieved at some slight given by the King in previous years. Henry has demanded a vast ransom for Richard’s return, and it remains unclear whether his brother John will attempt to raise the funds or use it as an excuse to claim the throne for himself. Marius believes that the Earl of Gloucester would support John in such an attempt due to their close family ties, but John lacks support amongst the Clergy and the English Barons are likely to be split in their allegiances. It is safe to say that all members of this covenant would strongly prefer John on the throne, for his brother is said to be a religious zealot with strong ties to the Christian martial orders. Marius resolved to spend the summer at the Earl’s court seeking news of John’s likely actions.

Medius then brought news of his trip to Ireland. He initially took our ship, the Severn Boar, south to Trevalga covenant to meet Magus Augustus. On the way, he encountered a hunting party of Tritons, fierce faeries of the seas, and though Medius spoke little of the encounter, I reason that the creatures must have been provoked in some way to attack the ship, for though they are vengeful creatures, it seems unlikely that they would take on a fully crewed ship without good reason. Still, the faeries were beaten back, and the ship made it through safely to Trevalga with only minimal loss of life. Having picked up Augustus, the ship sailed far to the west across the great Irish sea, a notoriously wild and tempestuous stretch of water, eventually making harbour in the city of Dublin. There, Augustus paid visit to the local nobles, while Medius began his search for the rumoured Fell activity within the city. Again, Medius did not reveal the full details of his investigation, yet it seems that, after finding several signs that the Fells had rebuilt their network by falsely enriching their supporters through robbery and gaining contacts within the city administration through bribery and intimidation, he was attacked in the street and captured by agents of the Fells. He managed to escape before they realised who he was, but to his great surprise, his subsequent attempt to scry on their activities revealed that their leader claimed to be Guyere, a powerful diabolist who we had thought long dead. On learning the identity of his opponent, Medius retreated to the safety of the ship, yet he felt unable to leave the harbour until he had got word to Augustus that he was potentially in grave peril, for Guyere had learned of the presence of the Magi. The ship was attacked that night by a twisted demonic creature, but Medius was able to banish it, though not before it has sorely wounded several sailors, leaving the crew seriously short handed. Eventually, Medius managed to get a message to Augustus, who returned aboard and the ship then left port. On the way back to England, it was attacked in the night once more, as several of the ropes in the rigging were transformed into venomous snakes. It was here that one of Medius’ companions met his end, and it was only through Augustus’ actions that the snakes were driven from the vessel. We agreed that we should send news of Guyere’s possible return to Orlania of Solis Castle, though there remains little sign at present that his network has spread back to Gloucester. Medius mentioned a possible trip to investigate whether Guyere has rebuilt his former stronghold in Bristol, but we resolved that any such expedition should be undertaken cautiously.

The final, and to my mind most important, piece of news presented to the Council again came from Medius, who had received a letter purporting to be from Arcturus, the former Tytalan Magus of Narwold covenant, who had been declared a renegade following his assassination of former Praeca Yania. Arcturus claimed that his actions had been motivated by his desire to infiltrate the Christian sect known as the Brothers In Christ and that he had not expected Yania to have no defences against a mundane dagger thrust. Still, knowing that there was no hope of returning to the Order, he nevertheless hoped that he could pass on information about the sect that would prove useful. He declared that Henry of Jerbiton had betrayed the Order and was now training to be a monk in Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. The sect has the ear of the imprisoned King, Richard, and Arcturus claimed that should the King be released, the sect would try to convince him to recover his reputation as a holy warrior by declaring a crusade against the Order within his realms. The sect has a strong dislike of Prince John, viewing him as more worldly than his brother, and it is gathering support amongst the Barons to force him to raise the funds needed to secure Richard’s release.

Arcturus described some of the mystical powers possessed by members of the sect, which accorded with information we had already learned through our direct encounters with the. The Brothers can be extremely resistant to magic, and they can undertake sacred rites that can weaken the auras of faerie and magical places. They also possess knowledge of magics with similar effects to Intellego, Corporem and Mentem spells, though mind reading is apparently beyond them. The letter finished by listing the main members of the sect. Its leader in England appears to a man known as Brother Linas, who is said to be very close to the King; though a member, the Abbot of Tintern is not thought to be particularly high ranking. The main Barons allied to the cause are Chepstow, Montgomery, Warwick and Lichfield.

This news was certainly alarming. Despite its dubious source, so many of its aspects ring true that we would be foolish not to take it seriously. In addition to passing the message on to Orlania, Quaesitor Serenea and others, we resolved that Marius would spend his time in summer seeing whether he could corroborate any of Arcturus’ information. I know not whether the Tribunal will act, but I sense that we will risk a great deal if we stand on the sidelines and allow events to play out by themselves. A restored Richard leading a crusade of militant knights within these isles could do untold damage to both the Order and to the fabric of the mystical places that lie beyond the current reach of the Dominion. I say we should oppose them as directly as we may.

With Marius away in Gloucester and Medius and Cynfelyn travelling to Solis Castle delivering messages, the season itself passed without events of note.

Autumn

Following a short Council meeting at the start of the season, Cynfelyn and I were given the task of exploring Mynydd Myddyn to see how the transition from day to night had changed the place. We reached the borders easily enough, purchasing our passage through the werewolves’ forest for a sack of foodstuffs and tools. Entering the regio by walking widdershins around the standing stones, we made our way to the top of the cliffs, though not without some difficulty given the steepness of the climb. The land was bathed in the still light of the moon; the terrain itself looked familiar with no sign of great upheaval, but we remained cautious given that the previous expedition here had encountered a force of barrow wights. We first made our way to the tower, which was in a state of dilapidation and disarray. It seems likely that the place had been abandoned some time ago, most likely as a result of an attack by a large creature such as the wyvern. On the way we spotted a haunch of venison hanging from the boughs of a tree, and Eanfled noticed the telltale signs of a rope trap laid thereabouts to capture anyone seeking to recover the meat. This suggests that Myddyn’s Brood remain active in the woods, though we saw no direct sign of their presence.

Heading out of the abandoned settlement, we made our way cautiously towards the celtic burial grounds. On the way, one of the grogs noticed an eerie glow on the periphery of his vision that he called “spirit light.” I had not heard of this phenomenon before, but it can apparently sometimes be observed in graveyards at night, particularly when the spirits of the dead are about. As we made our way closer, the light became more obvious, but we realised that its source was not the burial grounds, but rather the Lake of the serpent Llifiau. Altering our course, we made our way to the edge of the lake, which we were surprised to find was not blackened and poisonous, but rather a cool and peaceful pool. Making camp by the water’s edge, Kai and I explored the lake, noting strange crystalline structures protruding from the rock beneath the surface. After returning to our camp, we were alarmed to note a huge serpent with blue and green scales approaching rapidly through the water. I retreated with the men to the edge of the forest, but Cynfelyn stood firm, recognising something in the serpent’s manner that suggested that it was curious, rather than aggressive. I returned to the water’s edge and cast a spontaneous spell to allow me to communicate with the creature. After explaining our presence and the fact that we meant no harm to the place, it gave us permission to fish, and then it vanished beneath the waters. Taking full advantage of this, Kai, Bodkin and I were able to catch nine fish over the course of the day, each of which contained a pawn of Animal vis. Sensing that we had spent a while within the regio, we made our way through the Awakened Forest to tap some of the tree sap from the Great Oak, and then we returned to Severn Temple.

The changes in the nature of the regio are still rather puzzling. In some ways, the regio is little changed, yet the transformation in the character of Llifiau’s lake is strange. I recognised the place from an adventure years ago with Theo, though we did not enter the place from Mynydd Myddyn. I spoke with the waters and asked what had caused the change from day to night; the lake implied it was simply the nature of things, which suggests that it was not caused by the mischief from Holy Isle as we had perhaps feared. The aurae within the regio seem more powerful than in the past: I detected an aura of the fifth magnitude on the hillside, an aura of the sixth magnitude at the lake’s edge and an eighth magnitude aura by the crystalline structures beneath the waves. It is not unusual for magical aurae to be more powerful at night, but it will be interesting to see whether the increase in power opens up any more areas to us that were previously closed. We resolved to return again next year to pursue the matter further.

Winter

At the Council meeting, Marius reported back from his politicking amongst the nobility. He initially approached to the Earl’s court at Gloucester, but he found the Earl absent, so he travelled on to London. There he found evidence to support Arcturus’ claims that the clergy were actively working to undermine Prince John to force him to ransom his brother. It was also clear that the Barons of Chepstow, Lichfield and Montgomery were seeking alliances against the Prince. John himself seemed unsure of what he should do, though Marius believed that he could be convinced to claim the throne if he could be sure of sufficient support amongst the nobility. To this end, he proposed that he should attempt to convince the Welsh Princes to declare for John. In doing so, this would put pressure on the Marcher lords to likewise, for a Welsh alliance would allow them to move their forces beyond their own lands to engage Richard’s allies. He acknowledged that this was, to all intends and purposes, direct interference in mundane affairs, but he argued persuasively that the alternative brought with it just as much danger. After a short debate, it was agreed that Marius would journey to Blackthorn to petition Praeco Ponrius to call an emergency Tribunal to discuss the issue. Marius realised that the Tribunal could not sanction him to break the Code, but a clear vote in favour of his actions would lend him some sort of defence should future charges be brought against him.

Little else of note was discussed, and Marius and Medius departed the next morning. Medius returned a few days later, explaining that Marius had convinced the Praeco and that a meeting would be arranged for the Spring Equinox. Quite how it will go, I cannot say. Taking this action brings with it considerable peril, both for Marius personally and for the Tribunal as a whole. I feel that this is a fundamental decision point in our interaction with the mundane authorities and that history will judge us harshly if we err.
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