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Scribed by Marius

Spring 1194 AD


This season’s journal marks a dramatic point in my life, for I will take upon myself an enormous responsibility. Having convinced Praeco Ponrius to call an emergency tribunal I will be asking for a vote regarding my plan of action involving the Welsh courts. My hope, that they can be united behind John and encourage him to usurp his brother’s throne.

Our meeting began with the usual distribution of vis, as ever Medius granting generous reward for covenant services. All announced their intention to attend the emergency Tribunal, with Cormoran returning swiftly after the vote to oversee the protection of the covenant, and make his annual offerings to the Anu at the spring. Medius took upon himself the task of extracting vim vis for the Aegis of the Hearth, I sensed that he was disappointed that none other would volunteer and I wonder whether he was tempted to direct a magus to such service.

Tiarnen announced his intention to return to Mynydd Myddyn later in the year and there was some discussion about what manner of device might make entry to the veiled hills easier in the future. Cormoran announced that he seeks an apprentice and revealed that Fenriata had given him permission to make an investigation of Stonehenge at some point (something I’m given to believe is a rare honour). In his researches he uncovered stories of a shrine to Lugh somewhere in the vicinity of old Lydney; said to be a place of healing. He and Cynfelyn will make an investigation for a few days to see if they can locate any bronze votive offerings around Lydney.

I spent the first half of the season quickly travelling around some of the Princes, seeking to assure myself that they would back John should the Tribunal support my move. I headed to Blackthorn for the middle of the season and the emergency session was called. The meeting was short and, as might be expected, the turnout was low. I put my plan to the august gathering, explaining that I was willing to take responsibility for my actions regarding the mundanes but wished the advice and support of my sodales before counselling the Princes of Wales to support John’s claim. The arguments were pressed on both sides of the debate, though many appeared to have made up their minds early in the process. In the end Ponrius called the matter to a vote; which was passed in favour of my motion by a narrow margin of 6 votes.

Leaving almost immediately after the vote I travelled to Powys and instructed the messengers I’d had waiting to bear my missive to each of the Princes. Impatient for responses I travelled myself to Pembroke and thence Gwynedd, to put my arguments in person. My messengers returned from Ystrad Twyl, Ceredigion, Deheubarth, Gower and Glamorgan all answering in the affirmative. Pembroke took some convincing and Gwynedd even more so, but in the end I had pledges from each Prince to back John’s claim. With no further delay I made for London.

Marius’ Private Journal

My concerns are that Pembroke and Gwynedd have signed over as a matter of convenience – keen to avoid taxes in the short term, but unwilling to lend troops to secure John’s claim when it comes to it. I fear my ability to persuade them has bought only platitudes and this could yet bring ruin upon my head. For, should those princes relent on their word John’s claim may yet fail; and if it does, then my position as Prince of Powys becomes very difficult ... not to mention my place in the Order if a vengeful Richard returns.

I spoke to Tiarnen about the wisdom of seeking out my father’s crown. I know well the power it has as a symbol amongst the Princes, not to mention its magical influence. Tiarnen gave guarded counsel. He would gladly guide me to the court of water so I might make petition to llyr, but he reminded me of the consequences of taking up the crown ... and also the issue that might create with my sodales within the council at Severn Temple.

In the end, I decided that I had not time for disagreement within the Severn Temple council, and had no desire to run the difficult path my father trod in wearing it in secret. However, I shall watch matters and judge as matters arise; it may be necessary to raise this issue with the council before John begins his fight for England’s Crown.


Summer

I used my permission to skip the summer council meeting to travel by ship to London, aware that John was under pressure to raise the ransom and my news would be worthless had he relented in the meantime. I was fortunate; John was yet in London and still seeking counsel as to the course he should take. He has the support of Gloucester, no doubts there as the alliance is secured by marriage; but York is still a major problem. I was swiftly ushered in to meet the Prince. His manner is refreshingly pragmatic and he is straight talking to a fault; traits that do not endear him to very many within the Church is has to be said. Business was discussed directly; John’s shrewd mind quickly perceiving the ramifications of the messages I had brought. With Welsh longbow men to support his army and the Marcher lords free to raise armies away from the border with Wales, John’s position begins to look very promising.

I spent the rest of the season at court waiting to hear what rumour and gossip I could as to the sway of John’s mind. He does not take lightly, the matter of his brother’s incarceration. Richard has sent letter assuring him, allegedly, of the crown when Richard dies (even over his son!). This must seem a temptingly easy path for John, for he would gain the crown with no question of legitimacy. Though, the sum required for Richard’s release would bankrupt the country for years; and John will gain the long lasting ire of the Barons to accompany his enemies within the Church.

Finally, within a day of the deadline to pay the ransom, John has decided. He shall make his claim to the throne. Richard’s allies have already left the court (those slow witted enough to remain have been arrested for now). England will soon be in a state of civil war. I will travel back with Gloucester and bring this news to my covenant. I can’t help but wonder what exactly I have set in motion. I cannot help but wonder whether I have done the right thing. But, for good or ill, I have done what I thought best for the Order and for my people of Powys. I just hope that this civil war will be short and decisive in John’s favour.

Autumn

Marius’ Private Journal

Upon the long road between London and Gloucester I had plenty of time to consider the military and political situation I’d helped to create. It looks unlikely that the Scots will support John in his claim, though whether they will make things easy for York and his allies is also uncertain. However, I received news that Gwynedd had made no move to muster any forces over the summer and with my doubts about Pembroke I became increasingly concerned that the delicate Welsh alliance I had created would rapidly dissolve when action was called for.

On the fourth night from London I had a curious dream; I was lost in a dark forest with the fleeting, evasive hints of dread enemies closing in behind me. Weak and injured I ran, searching to escape these foes, yet not knowing where to turn. Then, as my desperate flight began to falter, I saw a man dressed in silver, with leaves of oak for hair; ‘run for the heart’ he whispered, his voice like the breath of wind through the leaves. Then another figure, gowned in a ragged, black shawl and bearing a skull in her hand; ‘aid I shall send’ her cold voice cried. From beneath my feet there was a rumbling sensation and from deep within the earth I heard a powerful voice intone; ‘the earth shall not falter whilst you wear the crown’. Finally, I saw a ring of stalwart oak trees standing like guardians. At an entrance formed by the arching of branches stood a maiden, dressed in burnt gold, her hair like sunlight; she said nothing, but held a finger to her lips in a motion that bade me to speak not. I woke from this eerie dream with no sense as to its meaning. The figures remind me of the Nynniaw, the Morrigan, and the last perhaps the Anu. I know not whose voice I heard beneath the earth, but from all I’ve learnt I suspect it to be Gofannon? I decided not to speak of it until I’ve had a chance to think more, though it fostered in me a firming of my intention to ask llyr for the crown of Math.

Two days later our war party, on the road between Oxford and Gloucester, happened upon a group of travellers. They fled at the sight of our scouts, and with one on horse there was concern that it might be scouts from an enemy war party, spies or perhaps even a noble loyal to Richard. Outriders were sent to track them and after some argument these travellers were led back to our camp, where it was revealed that they were Medius, Cynfelyn and some companions making for Narwold. I talked to both magi about my reasons and plan to reclaim the crown. I was surprised that neither argued vociferously against it, though both urged caution and consideration; and advised me to seek the advice of others also.

Medius, rather mysteriously, asked that at a future date whether I would accept the role of ministrator. I reminded him that I was likely to be away ... a lot ... but, he seemed solemnly convinced that his needs must appoint me at some point in the near future and that it was imperative that I accept. For my part I reassured him, that I would accept such role and discharge such duties to the best of my ability. There was something urgent, perhaps even a little desperate in his demeanour. I’ve no idea what he’s up to, but I guess it’s important and possibly dangerous. From there we parted ways and I returned, though briefly, to the covenant.

I arrived too late for the Autumn council, but from the notes I later discovered that Cormoran had been successful in finding an apprentice. He’s sought help from an ally from his House, a magus named Renwick. Renwick is a visionary who has developed a method of inducing visions in others. This visionary caused Cormoran to see a vision which led the giant to help two new companions and finally to discover his apprentice. The apprentice himself, a scrawny lad with a scared, aggressive stare and an unsettling manner

With Medius and Cynfelyn abroad there was only Tiarnen and Cormoran around. Cormoran studying from the great library of pagan lore we now possess and Tiarnen preparing to travel deep into Mynydd Myddyn.

Marius’ Private Journal

Tiarnen, somewhat to my surprise, was least convinced by my plan to take the crown. His arguments were sensible; that he perceived I was being rushed by circumstances and should take a step back whilst I could. I could not tell whether it was an apparent lack of choice that concerned him, or that I was being driven by my ambition; for he stated both in opposition to my aims. I was tempted to tell him about my dream, to see if he could shed any light on it. But at the last the vision of the Anu bidding me to silence made my hold my tongue. Thing is, of all my sodales, I hoped he’d be the one to support me in this. Of all of them, perhaps, he was greatest support to Theo – even when things started to go wrong for my father, Tiarnen stuck by him. Perhaps that is the root of his fears; that should he offer such support again he shall be twice bereft. Theo’s loss struck him a deeper blow than I realised.

Cormoran, whom I’d half feared would ask a hundred awkward questions, was positively sanguine in his assessment. He warned that taking on the crown would cause those powers of magic and the fae to seek to reassert their influence upon me; advising me to be careful not to exclude any of those powers to the favour of others at my council. This is wise advice, for I’d already started to consider whether individuals like Mynyddor might not be invited; but I can perfectly see what trouble that might bring if I show such partiality.

Tiarnen, for all his disagreement with my aim, agreed to take me to Llyr’s court to take my case. The journey there was swift; our passage sped by the Lladra. It seems such a long time since I travelled to the summer court of Llyr and I was delighted to find old friends a many. All too soon, it felt, Llyr arrived at court and I made my case. Though, I should like to travel to the court again soon to spend more time with many of the folk who treated me kindly as a boy. Llyr was somewhat stern in his assessment and I wondered whether he would yet consider my case unworthy. I spoke as best I could, and honestly. Llyr requested that a representative of his court sit at my council and having confirmed that Tiarnen would be acceptable asked the magus if he would consent. Again, Tiarnen surprised me by not accepting - saying he would only consider the matter at a future date when the council was called. In the end Llyr agreed and crowned me himself in a short ceremony. I sensed he was still doubtful about my part and he spoke privately with Tiarnen afterwards. I fear my hopes in finding support and friendship in Tiarnen may be misplaced ... perhaps he has lost too much in Theo; perhaps he simply does not trust me. I don’t know, but it saddens me to believe either of those things.

The Lladra was most gracious and returned us swiftly to the Severn Temple. From there Tiarnen made his way to Mynydd Myddyn and I travelled back to Powys.

On route I discovered that the Earl had moved swiftly to contain Chepstow’s barony and that men were being prepared across the region of Powys for war in the following year. I travelled first to Pembroke and then to Gwynedd to speak to our reluctant allies. What had been a tenuous commitment has been forged strong by the symbol I now wield. Each Prince has now sworn to provide men under a common Welsh banner in support of John; an act that has few precedents in our history. At Powys I returned to find a new flag flying proudly above the battlements; the red dragon rampant. The people are full of the word that the High Prince has returned. I have never seen such hope or expectation upon the faces of common mundane folk. Too long they have served under a yoke that takes from their toil yet does not serve them. My first order was to take lands and goods from the richest churches and monasteries so that the poorest villages may be spared the taxation that comes with war.

Winter

I left the martial preparations to the Marshal to return to the covenant for the beginning of Winter. I arrived in time for the council to discover that Tiarnen has not yet returned from Mynydd Myddyn. This isn’t that unusual, it’s a deep regio and time passes strangely therein I hear, but I was surprised when Cormoran asked whether a formal charge would be brought against him for missing the council without permission. For my part I was more worried that something may have befallen him; for fierce and foul entities roam that place. Yet it seems that Cormoran’s question was not entirely aimed at Tiarnen, but at Medius; for when the Pontifex stated that he did not intend to raise such charge, Cormoran obviously felt the rule of our covenant charter was not being impartially applied.

Medius announced that his investigation at Narwold was, for the time being complete; and told us of the sad death of his apprentice Ezekiel to one of Arcturus’ lethal traps. He could not reveal much, yet did say he had recovered some items that would need investigating and also evidence that Arcturus may have been involved in diabolism. This charge, if it bears true after investigation, must cast doubt over much he said in his recent letter.

Medius then moved to appoint me as Ministrator of the covenant. I accepted, though apologised in advance that I would be abroad for most of the year.

As tradition holds we recast the Aegis of the Hearth after the council meeting. Tiarnen returned within about a week of the season with a curious tale of misfortune. It appears that something has become harder, or less predictable, when trying to move between levels of the regio within the veiled hills of Mynydd Myddyn. A visit to the weird shrine at the source of the stream led to him inadvertently stumbling upon a young woman; presumably the spirit that resides there, though in mortal form. Later travelling up to the henge where the covenant collects intellego vis from the moss that grows on the stones the party became separated at a regio boundary; with Kai vanishing deep into the regio – encountering druids apparently sacrificing a Roman soldier, yet who spoke of Diedne and Bonisagus as contemporaries. This makes seems to make no sense, as such events would surely be hundreds of years apart; yet (as latter events suggest) if the deepest parts of that place lie near the Otherworld, perhaps it is not history being revealed but many shades of the dead acting out their lives?

In trying to get into the deepest part of the regio, Tiarnen tried using the spell ‘Rend the Mystic Veil’; yet the magics spun out of his control and instead of opening a simple passageway into the deeper regio, the spell tore a rent through the veil. From the darkness beyond this rent figures of the dead sought their escape. To Tiarnen’s horror they started to emerge from the tear in the veil and were only stopped when the Morrigan and the hounds of Cyn Anwyn appeared to drag them back through. The dread goddess revealed that Tiarnen had unwittingly created a portal into the lands of Arawn; something he must repair before seeking his peace with the God of the Dead.

Tiarnen was able to discover a route to the deeper regio, by shedding blood upon the altar of the henge and laying his head to sleep upon the stone. There he discovered that Kai had been rescued by a kindly druid named Brynmor and was able to avoid the attentions of the much-less-friendly druids (busy invoking Arawn to explain what was happening with the sudden appearance of a rent to the Otherworld). From there he managed to retrace his steps and leave the regio without further incident; though it’s clear that Tiarnen has an urgent puzzle on his hands in seeking to repair the accidental damage caused by his spell. To that end he wrote a letter to Petrus, which I agreed to deliver to the redcap at Blackthorn.

I travelled abroad for most of the season, making sure all was ready for mobilisation in spring. The rest of the season, back at the covenant, was quiet for all.
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