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Scribed by Medius

Spring 1195 AD


As I once more turn my hand to the recording of events here at Severn Temple I find myself looking back through these pages to the year when I first joined this Covenant. It was 46 years ago that I entered these walls for the first time, a time when war seemed certain throughout the mundane realm and we were beset by threats from both the church and the infernal. While it seems these same threats still beset us there are many differences that lead me to some state of contentment, despite the loss of my apprentice that I still feel keenly. We have greater allies within the order and beyond, and the magi of our council are both more powerful in their art and learned in other knowledge that can only benefit us. In the Spring of that year Magus Theodosius recorded that the Covenant had been sent spinning into Spring with the deaths of so many magi in such a short space of time, and while he and others have since passed on this Covenant endures and prospers. We are firmly within our Summer and I believe that the next few years may give us the opportunity to deal with some of the threats that have long assailed us.

At the council meeting of spring it was war that we first discussed. Magus Marius reported that the Barons of Chepstow and Warwick have fled to York, to raise their standards in support of Richard. While many of the mundane nobles have not yet declared their allegiance, including Norfolk, Lincoln, Leicester and Nottingham, the Welsh Princes are raising their armies and it is likely that there will soon be battle brought within England, with John attempting to strike a deal with Scotland to secure the Northern border. Marius advised us to take great care when travelling abroad with so many armies and mercenary bands abroad, and he has passed such warning on to the redcaps so that our sodales may be aware also. Marius will be abroad for this season and probably most of the year, engaged about the war that his position of Prince of Powys has helped engineer. I greatly hope that his efforts are successful for it seems clear that John as King will be no friend to the Brothers in Christ cult that has done us so much harm. I would also not see my sodalis exposed to the wrath of the order should the task that he has set himself about bring greater danger to the magi of this tribunal, and a swift victory seems to be the best chance of assuring this.

We had a further discussion about the rent in the veil deep within Mynydd Myrrdin but no new ideas were proposed. I sense that Magus Tiarnan is greatly worried about what has occurred and I hope that we will be able to provide further guidance in the future. Magus Cormoran is spending this season in further study of the theory of magic, and given that he has perhaps more learning on this subject than any other here I hope he may be able to reach some conclusion. That place is too important to this covenant for us to linger many years without action, as has perhaps too often been the case in the past when faced with threats that we do not fully understand. Magus Tiarnan announced that he would be abroad this season and I wonder whether it has something to do with this problem, although I did not press him on the matter.

For myself I elected to spend the season making further investigation into the craft of the tincture that Zedekiah first introduced me to, that reveals the taint of the infernal usually so well hidden. Magus Cynfellyn declared that he would make a study of some personal vis that he holds. I announced my thanks for his efforts as Ministrator for this covenant but I have now passed that role on to Marius. Cynfellyn shall however act as Imperator for the seasons of Spring, Summer and Autumn this year, with Marius likely to be away for this time.

Medius’ private journal: I spoke with Marius on the eve of the council meeting to assure myself that he would accept the position of Ministrator. He highlighted his concerns regarding the amount of time he would be away while war rages but was otherwise happy to accept the title. I sense that he grows ever more confident in the leadership role that his mundane title has brought him and should Cynfellyn and I fail to return from Swallowcliffe I believe that he is best set to maintain the secure progress of Severn Temple.

The season itself passed quietly with little to report save that Magus Cormoran had some kind of accident within his laboratory. I understand that there was an explosion which has caused some damage to the glassware that is contained within and it is likely that he will need to spend some time in making repairs to bring it back to full use. I was not present in the covenant when this occurred however for I set sail for Magvillus and my house meeting a few days before the end of the season.

Marius’ Private Journal

Gloucester and I parted ways after a short meeting in Chepstow. He would travel via Hereford and north, rallying troops and support from the marcher lords upon route whereas I would head west then north in a long arc through the cantriffs of Wales doing much the same thing. Our plan was to muster at Chester, who had sworn oath to John in London, and with these combined forces meet with the King’s army south of the Humber ready to take war to York and the supporters of Richard. I am led to believe, from those more experienced in war than myself, that the fact this simple plan failed in so many ways is typical of warfare ...

Rallying the Princes took much longer than I expected; not because they dragged their heels, but because they were so enthusiastic in their greeting! Each of the lords in turn were keen to show off their hospitality to the new High Prince and we spent a few days the guest of each Lord in an endless procession of feasts and speeches, hunts and speeches, entertained by troubadours and jonglers ... and yet more speeches. Each Prince seemed ever more determined than the last to speak fine words to flatter me; and all the while I disguised my impatience.

By the time we left Gwynedd the cracks were beginning to show in this new Welsh unity. First there was a major brawl between the men of Cardigan and Pembroke, then almost a brawl in my council as Gwynedd and Glamorgan came to blows over some perceived slight. Ydnoc, Dafydd’s long-time advisor and friend, indicated that part of the issue was the pennants flying at the lead of the march and around our camp. Apparently each of the Princes took slight at whomever’s flag was closest to mine (the dragon rampant). I confronted the Princes with this and they had a suggestion, to rotate the flags so that each day a different Prince’s banner flew closest to the right of mine. However, they could not agree on a rotation order and each of them was unwilling to let the others fly their flags first. In the end, in a fit of anger at such a trivial matter occupying us as we marched to certain war and much bloodshed, I decided an alternative that none of them liked. I ordered all the flags taken down except one – the red dragon. This flag, I explained, represented all of Wales and our unity. While we marched as Wales we would only have need of one flag. Furthermore, the men would no longer march under the colours of their Prince, but by their rank and station; the archers with the archers, the levies with the levies and the knights with the knights. The Princes did not take this well, but all acceded to the order. Within a week the fighting amongst the ranks had stopped and in my council even the Princes began speaking with each other with some civility. Dialetica often mocked the nobility as having the sensibilities of children, perhaps there was something in that unkind assessment!


Summer

As I was abroad for the duration of summer, attending upon matters of my House, I was not present at the council meeting to which, as expected, Marius also did not attend. Magus Tiarnan had agreed to extract vim vis on behalf of the covenant and he provided a goodly sum for his efforts over the course of Summer. I understand little happened during the season save that Magus Cormoran went abroad to seek out a shrine to one of the Pagan sprits. He successfully located a bronze statue of a hunting hound from somewhere in the Black Mountains which he has set up in the Great Hall, near to the fireplace. It is a shrine to Lugh, a spirit of hunting and healing, and a number of the covenfolk have already started leaving small offerings.

Medius’ private journal: I will admit that I find Cormoran’s recent devotion to the old faith of the country slightly unsettling but it is clear that he has perhaps finally found a focus that does not directly affect his sodales in the way that some of his previous actions have. Over the years I have also learned to accept that the covenant holds some ties to the spirits of the pagan religion, and while I have no desire to make truck with such entities myself, I can not ignore the fact that my sodales do not feel the same way. My own faith is a source of great comfort and strength to me and while these spirits can in no way be considered equivalent to God, unlike the Christians I have no desire to persecute those who have chosen a different path save where it threatens my people or my sodales.

For myself I can report that my journey to and from Magvillus passed uneventfully and that I found the matters discussed at my House to be most interesting. I shall not record here what was discussed save to say that there are many weighty matters that concern the order at this time and I believe that the Grand Tribunal next year may well be considered one of the most significant in our history. I myself fully intend to attend upon it as an observer and it is my hope that some of my sodales will wish to join me.

Medius’ private journal: The House meeting was of a different format to those that I have previously attended, and I was gladdened that there seemed to be a renewed focus on the aid and advice that those who follow Guernicus can offer on matters of great import. I wish that Ezekiel had been there with me to see it, as I am sure that he would have been delighted with the discussions held, and my sense that perhaps all is not as rotten within the House as I had feared. I considered for a moment whether I should take Josef as an apprentice on my return, such was my desire to share this, but I fear that his interests lie elsewhere and it is perhaps better that he learn his art from Cestus.

In his opening speech Primus Gregorius reminded us all of our duty to the order to provide interpretation on the legality of courses of action that it might follow and on the eve of the Grand Tribunal announced that there were three topics that we must discuss; the entry of House Aethiopicus, the threat posed by The Brothers in Christ and the proposed investigation into the dedicated covenant of Holy Isle. He announced that there would be three groups to look in to these subjects over two days before a final discussion and rulings on the third day. We were free to choose which we would attend and I confess it was not so easy to make that choice. House Aethiopicus’ entry may set precedents that will be important in the future should I decide that the best way to preserve the Kaballah will be to attempt to establish it as a House within the order in the future. The matter of Holy Isle is one of great concern due to the corruption that it has so clearly represented, although it is my hope that is we are successful in Swallowcliffe I will be able to give more aid there than in any official investigation.

Thus I chose to attend the synod discussing the Christian cult that has so affected Severn Temple and been involved in the persecution of my people. I spent a day in research in the Great Library of Magvillus and found two references to this cult appearing in recent tribunal records, which only leads me to believe that they are an even greater threat to the order as a whole than I had first imagined. I also discovered a number of rulings that might have some relevance in the precedents that they have set, particularly in relation to the legality of the motion recently passed at the emergency tribunal of Stonehenge. The discussion was led by Archimaga Navaria and considered the legality of three possible courses of action. The first was to take no direct action but merely observe what occurs, the second was to take a directly interventionist approach, possibly involving the assassination of key members of the cult and the third was to use indirect methods, such as utilising mundane influence, to isolate and minimise the power of the cult. There was much talk about the advisability of the three courses of action but we were reminded that it was not our place to make such a ruling, save where it might have an influence of the legality of any one of them. While the second perhaps most directly appeals to my desire for vengeance and the third seems the wisest for the order, it was agreed after much reasoned and passionate debate that all three courses of action would be legal should the Grand tribunal wish to pursue them.

On the final day the three groups announced their findings which were then ratified by the House as a whole. Our own decision was approved first and then we heard the report on House Aethiopicus. It was agreed that the Grand Tribunal should invite their leader Oda Gosh in the first instance and then had two legal courses of action. It might immediately allow him to establish a new House or it might grant him a year and a day to find a House while further investigation is made before allowing the establishment of the new House. It was confirmed that when House Aethiopicus is founded he shall be able to invite any he chooses as is established custom and precedent. The discussion regarding the investigation into Holy isle centred on two previous precedents and agreed that it would be legal to both rule in advance that should evidence of wrongdoing be found the entire covenant might be disbanded or that only those individual magi found guilty of wrongdoing should be punished. We also decided that a third option would be legal, that the dedication might be taken over by a House other than House Tremere.

Over the course of the House meeting there was much opportunity to meet others of the House and make trades. I purchased a wand that grants the enchantment Pilum of Fire although with a penetration of the 5th magnitude. I also purchased a scroll with a spell that grants the ability to look through the eyes of another who must be present when the spell is cast but who may then travel far and wide while concentration is maintained without the use of an arcane connection. I was offered tuition by Quaesitor Memorius of Durenmar in both Magic Theory and Mercurial Rituals tied to the detection of false sigils. I shall remain in Durenmar for the Autumn and Winter following the Grand Tribunal and study with him.

I spoke at length with Quaesitor Faelon of Cranagh Tomb Covenant in the Hibernian Tribunal regarding my discoveries of Fell activity in Dublin and he will raise it within his tribunal. He has agreed to see whether I might make further investigation with the support of Magi of that tribunal. I also had the chance to speak with Quaesitor Hermakrotes who was able to tell me that another member of the Kaballah has joined House Criamon. It is a woman who has taken the name of Rivius and she resides within Terra Varum, a covenant in the Greater Alps. It seems that Magus Servius has also taken an apprentice but Hermakrotes had no further details of the nature of the child. It seems to me that I should try and find time to make journey to that Tribunal in the next few years and see whether I can find allies in my attempts to protect the Kaballah from those in the order that would do it harm.

Marius' private journal:

Three days from Chester and we had disastrous news: Chester, despite all this fine words and promises had switched side to support Richard. Clearly the Earl of Chester had not believed that Wales would march under one banner, so he had sent a contingent of knights to forestall Gloucester’s troops, whilst taking the bulk of his army east to meet up with York’s.

This left us with a double blow – not only was Gloucester delayed and a potential ally lost, but also the food and supplies we had been promised at Chester were simply not there. An army does not march without food in the stomach. In the end I took the difficult decision to send troops into Chester and the surrounding settlements to raid for food. It pained me to lead an army to act like common bandits, but the alternative was to turn back and disband. The raiding was unpleasant and I was forced to make an example of a small number of men to ensure that no more force than was required was employed; three men hung for looting and another for rape.

I was already in danger of losing heart when news came that Gloucester had been diverted to meet a force of knights from Chester and Warwick. He bid me move on eastwards to meet up with the King, lest all our troops were too much delayed to aid him. My instinct was to head south east and assist Gloucester, but if John failed against York then all this gamble would have been for nothing. Reluctantly I followed Gloucester’s bidding and we marched east; first to Derby then Nottingham (both for John, though their armies had already gone on ahead), then North-East for Lincoln.

As we approached Lincoln we received more bad news. Norfolk had sided with Richard (though we guessed he would) and had met the King’s armies with an equal force at Huntingdon. The battle had gone badly for John, his forces retreating and being besieged at Bedford before Buckingham’s men arrived to reprieve them. With Buckingham’s fresh forces they were able to break the siege and drive Norfolk back eastwards towards Cambridge, but it meant that the King’s troops were still several weeks away from arriving in Lincoln. Naturally, the other piece of news was that York was leading a huge army which had already crossed the Humber (where we’d intended to greet him) and was only a few days from Lincoln.

The assembled Princes were full of helpful advice; turn back, switch sides, make parlay with York. Mostly they searched for a way to retreat with some measure of honour. There was no humour for a fight; their heavy cavalry outnumbered us some 5:1 (we having about 60 to their 300 or more) and our infantry consisting of lightly armoured milita and levies, whilst York boasted some 2000 heavy infantry. On the plus side we had some 3000 longbowmen and the English archers were renown for being shit (according to Welsh prejudice), but other than this ranged advantage we were outnumbered and outmatched man for man.

In amongst the arguments and discussions I took some time to go for a walk and clear my head. We weren’t far from the borders of Nottingham Forest, so I strayed beneath the canopy a little way from the encampment to find some peace amongst the cool shade of the trees. I wandered until I found a cool stream, which I paddled in to sooth my feet; and was greeted by the Lady Nimue.

I recognised her instantly, of course, she’d been like a mother to me for all my time at Llyr’s court. Even when she kidnapped me and held me to lure Theo into the crystal cave she had always been both kind and loving towards me. So, I was not greatly afeared by her appearance, though guarded enough that she swiftly chided me for being so cold with one who had cared for me. I bit back my first retort, some ill-guarded words about Theo not being guarded enough with her, and instead relented and apologised for my manners. She asked me what was wrong and I gave her a short summary of our situation; to which she suggested seeking the help of the fae.

This was a tempting proposition, though I was mindful of my word to the Tribunal (that I would not use only mundane influence and avoid any direct or blatant magic that could further cause trouble for the Order). I explained that I couldn’t ask for the fae’s help in this, it was a mortal matter. She laughed, remembering a time when mortal matters were not so different from the affairs of faerie courts; though I explained those days were long in the past. She agreed, ruefully, though suggested that I take counsel from those more wise to the methods of battle than myself. Gofannon, she said, fought in many wars both in the lands of the faerie and the lands of mortal man. I explained that I could not be gone long from my army (lest they run back to the hills!), but she explained that we could travel as swiftly as I had with the Lady Lladra to Gofannon’s underground realm; ‘the rivers run deep beneath the earth, do not forget’.

To be honest, crown or no, I wasn’t going to be able to maintain the good order of the army if I didn’t come up with a plan. I agreed to go with her and seek the wisdom of Gofannon’s counsel. I consented to travel with her, all the while wondering if I was making the same dreadful mistake as my father.

But, true to her word, she bore through stream and river to a great chamber beneath the earth. There amongst the silent watchers of Gofannon’s servants we waited the Stone of the Mountain to attend. Eventually he did, his pale alabaster features emerging from a pool of quicksilver. Seated upon his throne he bade us to come forward. I bowed respectfully, and was somewhat surprised when he returned the gesture.

Nimue spoke first, explaining the cause of our visit. I sensed there was still an issue between them, following Theo’s death.

“You take from me one King, then bring me another, Nimue” He said. “But, is this one the cut of his father or his mother?”

“Both.” I replied. “I am Aeddyn, son of Theo; recognised High Prince of Wales crowned by Llyr, Lord of the Oceans, but also Marius, son of Dialectica; wizard of the Order of Hermes and follower of Jerbiton; I shall not be one without the other, my Lord Gofannon.”

Gofannon laughed at this, but something of the tension in the court lifted.

He asked me why I was going to war and for whom this war served. I explained that it served the people of Wales, who have had their backs broken to pay taxes to allow an English King to fight a holy war on the other side of the world. It served magical and faerie also, as the allies of this zealot king were a sect bent on the destruction of those worlds and further oppression by the dominion.

He seemed grudgingly satisfied with the answer and he began to suggest the most horrendous and blatant ways the Lord of the Undermountain could assist me; great cracks in the earth to swallow their horses, the thundering cascade of the mountainside crushing their troops ... I politely stopped him there. I explained that by my word I was bound not to employ such magics, that this fight must be a mortal battle with no use of magics. Gofannon retorted that it was a foolish King who tied his own hands before a fight, but accepted that no such aid was wanted. Instead he turned to tactics ... and I must confess I was surprised and impressed by the lore he possessed on such a mortal occupation.

He counselled not to try to hold Lincoln; the walls would not hold against concerted attack, and if besieged then supplies would dwindle fast (only the courage of the other Princes would fail faster, he mooted). Instead, he suggested pushing on past Lincoln, a forced pace a day and half north to a high wooded hill called Twyll-Garis in the old tongue. The hill is heavily wooded from the south and the east, and very steep to the west making the heights quite defensible from one front. Our archers would have good range from there and plenty of wood for new arrows if the battle was protracted. The greatest boon, however, was the plain at the base of the hill. It looks, from any distance, like good firm ground; but the land is treacherous and marshy and cavalry or heavy infantry would quickly lose their footing. ‘Mark your ground, young King, at the top of the hill; then when they start to march forward extend your levies towards the base of the hill – as if marching down to greet them. They will think you an idiot, and their cavalry – hot for blood and battle – will rush in to massacre them. Keep your men before the base of the hill and let your archers cut some down; then as they hit the marsh and their horses flounder, order your levies in with spears to slaughter them.’

He showed me the land, creating an image in the mirror like surface of the metallic pool; I could see his plan had merit. I thanked him for his counsel and turned to Nimue to ask her to transport me back.

“One final thing, young King,” Gofannon said as I turned to leave. “Say nothing of this plan to your men, not even your most trusted advisor but definitely not one of your Princes. If you do, you shall be betrayed by them and your plan will fail.”

“Is there a traitor amongst them, who?” I asked with dismay.

“They are men, their hearts are always treacherous. For all the talked-of duplicity of the fae, we are true to our oaths – men seldom ever are.”

With that rather depressing sentiment still ringing in my ears, Nimue transported us back to the edge of the forest. From there I thanked her for her aid and made my way back to rejoin the Princes, still locked in indecision and argument. I told them I had a plan, and that they should ready their men at first light for good speed upon the morrow. The Princes demanded to know what my plan was, but I dismissed them – urging them to sleep well and conserve their energy for the march!

The next morning had a gloomy air as disgruntled Lords mustered their men and marched them at full pace towards Lincoln. The next day was much the same, but as Lincoln came into view and it was clear that York’s army had not yet reached it there was some better spirits amongst them. Those briefly raised spirits I crushed that evening as I revealed that we would only stop at Lincoln to gather food and provisions – marching on within 3 hours northwards.

As you may imagine this was met with fierce argument – keeping the plan to myself, as Gofannon advised, meant I could offer no rhyme or reason for the forced march towards York’s forces. Again my Princes were quick with their counsel; we’d be better off defending the walls, let us march slower or the men will be too tired to fight. From what I’d been shown Twll-Garis was still a day and a half away to the north; and we could not delay lest York’s forces beat us there. Whilst the army took provision at Lincoln (thankfully that Baron was still loyal to John) we obtained news that Nottingham had given up Lincoln for lost and had headed south with forces from Leicester and Derby to assist John. This meant it was entirely up to us; no help likely to come from Gloucester, tied up with Chester or John, still fighting Norfolk. The Princes came as one to petition me; I could see they had newly-found a unity of purpose; unfortunately that purpose was mutiny.

After an hour of debate, and mindful that further delays would mean us likely camping here – then an inevitable inertia to get the army moving again away from the relative comfort of a town – I pressed them to a vote. ‘I have come to you with a crown upon my brow, a symbol you all claim to recognise and a title you claim to respect; now is the time for you to decide in your hearts whether you will follow your King or no. Here ... ‘I took a cavalry axe from a trunk, ‘... if any one of you decide that I am not the one to lead you, make your mark. Break this crown so that each of you may carry a piece home with you; so you can show it to your children and tell them what you did. I shall return in one hour, if there is not a mark upon this crown then I shall know you are true to the oaths you swore.’ ... and with these hasty words I stormed out.

I spent the time wandering down among the soldiers, taking the opportunity for some rest and food while we took on provisions. I didn’t have the crown for them to recognise me, and was dressed in simple leathers, so most of them took me for some minor noble ... perhaps even a squire. They asked me if I knew what was going on; whether we were going to fight or head back to Wales. I asked them what they would do and was surprised to hear they’d prefer to fight the English than return humbled to Wales. It seemed that many of them felt a sincere pride marching under the red dragon. Even though we were essentially fighting for the title of an English King; they had started to feel a sense of pride and kinship. I told them flat that the High Prince apparently wanted to march north to meet York’s armies, and was rewarded with a rousing cheer from the group of men; they seemed genuinely keen to follow this dragon into battle.

Ydnoc would later dampen my spirits when I told him this story; pointing out that they had been marching for weeks with no sign of a battle and would have gladly sacked Lincoln for sake of something to do. However, at the time it raised my hopes that this venture wasn’t all in vain. I returned after the hour unsure what I would find in the council.

The crown was untouched (I wasn’t surprised at that – I wasn’t sure even a great cavalry axe could dent it) and as I entered each of the Princes kneeled. I walked over and took up the crown, then sensing it had done its job, set it to one side and told them to ready their men to march; and to ready them for battle.

The next day and half was blessedly free from arguments and politics; but the news from the outriders became increasingly depressing. The estimates of their cavalry rose to 500 then to 600 by the time we reached Twll-Garis. We made our way through the wood (the trees almost marking a path for us through the woods) until we reached the peak. By the time we started to set camp the enemy banners were visible from across the valley. In the afternoon light we could see light reflecting from bristling spear points and shining armour; the ground at the base of the hill appeared solid and not-at-all marshy ... I retired hoping earnestly that faeries really did keep to their word. I did not sleep a wink that night; and was almost grateful when dawn came so I could give up the pretence of sleep and begin the day’s bloody work.

I cannot bring myself to write a glamorous tale of the battle that followed that next day. Theo would have told it brilliantly, skirting over the screaming horses, the blood and shit of battle, the cries of the dying and the baying roar of soldiers howling at their enemy with rage and hatred. I may be a King, or a Prince or whatever they want to call me, but I hated every bloody minute of it. Gofannon’s plan worked brilliantly.

Assembled on the hill it was clear we were outnumbered some 3 to 1 at least, with their advantage being some ten times our cavalry and much better armoured infantry. However, once our archers had marked their range we began hurling death down on them; a small army of fletchers stripping the forest behind us to keep the bows well fed (I issued a quiet apology to Nynniaw). I ordered the levy forward, bringing them close to the base of the hill – and fair enough, as the Mountain King predicted – their cavalry drew in, greedy for the kill. In the light of day I could see the ground was soft, but even at my relatively close range the appearance was deceptive. As the cavalry reached the base their horses sloughed into the wet earth, pitching their riders, some falling over themselves as they pitched into boggy ground. Even these heavily armoured knights were no match for the spears and the pitchforks thrust into them by the angry mob. The levy slaughtered dozens; Selby, Ripon and Sheffield dying in that first butchery.

Then they marched their troops in, as I pulled mine back to the top of the hill. The arrows fell thickly about them like rain, puncturing shields, armour and flesh. Two units marched forward then fell back before York clearly had enough of seeing his best troops die in the mud and sent forth the peasant levies to die in their stead. Being more lightly armoured they crossed the boggy ground more easily, but with thin shields (those that had them at all) they had little to protect them from arrows. By the time they reached our lines they were bloody and exhausted. Our heavier guard and the fresh levy soldiers made quick murder of them; eventually they broke and fled in all directions. I did not permit the cavalry to chase them down; let them run home, those survivors, to their farms and their wives.

Finally with arrows spent and most of the infantry committed I let our skirmishers break from the forest on the eastern edge to harry their flank. By late in the afternoon it was clear which way the battle was going, York didn’t even hang around to watch the end of the battle; turning tail with his closest knights and riding north to leave his men to die on the field. By the time twilight came to the battlefield the last numbers of York’s army had fled. Perhaps the bitterest thing was the triumphant lauding I received that night; yes, a great victory by any account, but still a tragic day. We lost a ‘mere’ 350 men and they must count ten times that or more in the day’s losses. I couldn’t help but wonder what Aelfwin would have made of it all ... I dare say it would have broken his heart.

The men rejoiced late into the night, and I wouldn’t argue with their victory. I retired gratefully to bed and awoke even more grateful when I discovered that the remnants of York’s army had fled north.

We returned to Lincoln, where news of our ‘miraculous’ victory had spread before us. Our welcome was commensurate with a greater gift; news that Gloucester had broken Chester’s army and would arrive in a week. John hadn’t fared as well, being forced to retreat back towards London after a series of battles went against him.

We waited for Gloucester and those marcher barons loyal to John to meet us; then within two days we rode south as a great host to relieve John at St Albans.


Autumn

I returned to Severn Temple a few days before Summer turned to Autumn and thus all save Marius were present at the council. There was little to discuss save for our activities that season. Tiarnan is the latest to turn his attention to the texts on the History and Rites of the Druids while Cormoran shall spend time training his apprentice. Cynfellyn once more decided to study from personal vis and I chose to further attune myself to the mystical properties of my talisman. I am glad to report that the season passed peacefully.

Medius’ private journal: I chose to speak with Cormoran following the council meeting as it was clear that he initially intended to train his apprentice over Winter. I asked him to re-arrange his schedule so that he might accompany myself and Cynfellyn on our mission, although I would not give him details as I am still greatly concerned should any word of our plan slip out. He reacted badly to my request and it is clear that he feels that I have badly wronged him in some of the judgements that I have made at council. It is true that I have little fondness for him; his inability to keep our covenant’s secrets from our enemies, the harm he has done and could easily do in the future to his sodales, his past actions that almost drove him from the covenant and my sense that he cares little for anyone save himself despite his frequent protestations to the contrary are all subjects that colour my opinion. Yet I have always tried to be even handed in my role as Pontifex and I will admit I was surprised by the vehemence with which he reacted. Sensing that any further argument from me would not help I asked Magus Cynfellyn to speak with him and after some time he was able to report that Cormoran would aid us. I remain concerned however as to how much we can trust him and I wonder whether we have been wise to include him in our plans.

Marius' private journal:

John was uncharacteristically gracious and we were accorded high honours as we returned to London to re-muster our forces ready to take on Norfolk. The value of the Welsh archers was quickly recognised and I was slightly disappointed, but not overly surprised, when the Prince’s regiments were quickly distributed across the King’s forces. Myself, Gloucester and the men of Powys had the honour of riding under John’s banner as we marched first to Waltham then to Colchester. Norfolk had word of our numbers and York’s retreat, and pitched his defence at the castle at Ipswich. There we laid siege for 9 weeks until the season began to close on us and many of the levy were needed more at home.

The King counted his victories and felt content for the season. With York licking his wounds to the north (and one eye over his shoulder at the Scots) and Norfolk penned up in his own shire for the winter, the decision was made to muster in London in spring to settle the score with Norfolk next year.


Winter

Marius' private journal: I returned to Gloucester with the Earl, and then from Gloucester I’ll finally head home to Severn Temple. Once again I’ll have missed the council meeting for the beginning of winter; but still, I’ll be grateful for a quiet season back home before this all begins again!

Once again Marius was not present but he had told us that he hoped to return early this season which was fortunate as it seems that despite the inclement weather of winter all planned to be abroad for at least part of Winter. Tiarnan agreed that he would be able to delay his own journey for a couple of weeks allowing myself, Cynfellyn and Cormoran to depart the covenant shortly after the council meeting. Once again there was little to discuss so the meeting was swiftly brought to a close as we cast the Aegis of the Hearth around the covenant. I would rather Marius had been present but hopefully it shall only be for one year.

There were no other events to record of note this season.

Medius’ private journal: I have recorded in the formal journal of our covenant’s history that the Winter of 1195 passed without event but those of us who were present know only too well that is not the case. The events of Swallowcliffe that I shall record here in my private record are too sensitive to risk becoming more widely known until we know the results of our actions, and while I wish it were otherwise this is certainly not the first time that the formal record of Severn Temple’s history has been left incomplete.

Magus Cestus arrived at the covenant shortly after our council meeting, and after collecting those items that we had agreed would be useful on our mission myself, Cynfellyn, Cormoran and he swiftly departed the covenant. There was some discussion about whether to take potions of Leap of Homecoming but after the disaster that befell the covenant when I made such a grievous error with Cassitus we decided not to. We made our way to the hill upon which Swallowcliffe sits and there I revealed the purpose of our mission to Cormoran and Cestus. I confess to being concerned to the reaction of Cormoran, and once again I wondered as to our wisdom in including him in our purpose.

Together we made our way up the shallow slope of the hill and there for the first time I saw the ruins of that fell place. It may have been merely my imagination but it seemed as if the shadows fell longer and the birds were quieter in the sky, but I detected only a magical aura at the surface as we cast around for the tunnel that would lead us to the depths below. Finding it we entered and came soon enough to a relief set in the wall with space for the gemstones that Cynfellyn had told me we would need to set to open the door. He swiftly conjured the gems that Aelfwin had long ago informed him were required and began to place them into the sockets available for them. It was perhaps the 5th gem that he placed that led to a huge flash of lightning that struck my sodalis. Fortunately his Parma Magica was proof against the effect but we were left confused as to what had happened. Drawing the sword that he was granted by the Morrigan we all heard the hiss of anger from the spirit of the renounced magus Ruaridh. Two of the gems that Cynfellyn had conjured were incorrect but Ruaridh was able to inform us of the true stones and after they were conjured and placed there was no lightning but merely the grinding of stone as the great stone door slid open. We placed some large rocks to prevent the door closing behind us and made our way within, but we had travelled for only a few minutes along the corridor when we heard the door rumble again and the sound of rocks being crushed by its immense force.

I confess that as we walked further along the passageway I felt a fear such as I have rarely experienced wash over me and as we passed through first one regio boundary and then another the darkness overwhelmed the magic that Cynfellyn cast to light our way and for much of the journey we were accompanied only by the faintest glow from the Gem of the Earth’s Furnace. As we passed into the great cavern we were glad of the tinctures that had been crafted by Jeremiah in Dublin for they granted us sight within the darkness as we saw the great pool that we believed was home to the infernal serpent that destroyed the covenants last venture to this place. In there we were first assailed by spirits, one of which I am told bore the countenance of Audacia but was clearly a deception of the infernal. I am glad Cestus was there for while I paused he struck swiftly with the cleansing light of god. As we battled these spirits we were assailed from the rear by a demon with the darkest skin and limbs that were liken to a spider’s to my eye.

All was confused as the waters of the pool then stirred and from it rose the serpent, far larger than I had ever imagined. This time it was Cestus that froze at the sight of it and it was fortunate that as I called for God’s aid, Cormoran stood square against the creature, holding its attention while I acted as a conduit to deliver two blows against it. The infernal snake then turned its attention to me and while Cormoran still struck it repeatedly he was unable to prevent its swift charge in my direction. I am certain that I would have died then had Cynfellyn not managed to twice intercept it at the last moment and as Cestus found renewed faith and joined with me we were able to strike the creature down. Cynfellyn had conjured a Lion and it turned against him, its cold, black eyes making it clear that there was a presence inside it. Cestus called forward God’s aid once more but it had no effect against the possessed creature and while I was able to do some damage with fire it was Cynfellyn and Cormoran who struck the beast down.

Almost immediately I felt a demonic presence attempt to slide into my mind but I believe it was my faith and strength of will that proved sufficient to ward the attempt. Cormoran was also assailed but managed to resist the effect; he believed because it tried to turn him against Cynfellyn to whom the loyalty he feels may be more than I had imagined. It was that magus who did fall to the demonic possession but Cormoran was able to defend himself against the attack that Cynfellyn brought to bear against him and he pinioned our sodalis to the ground and rendered him unconscious. I suddenly realised that I still had Zedekiah’s tincture hanging at my side and swiftly applying it to my eyes I could see the presence of the infernal spirit as it sought a new host. Once more I brought my arms together completing the true name of God and destroying it in one blast of holy fire.

With the immediate threat seemingly over we started to cast about looking for any sign of the weapon that we sought. There was no sign of it and while I cast an enchantment I could barely see into the depths of the pool where we became convinced it must lie. Once more Cormoran stood forward, and taking the sword from the still unconscious Ruaridh he plunged into the water. I can not imagine what it must have been like swimming deep into that thick, oily liquid with only a little vision to guide him. He was assailed by perhaps four demons deep below the surface but with strength and courage, and aided perhaps by Ruaridh, he was able to best the creatures and from the furthest depths recover a chest. Opening it once he surfaced, it was clear that this was the treasure that we sought. Before we were able to leave the sword spoke once more and bid us locate the skull of Audacia. I did not wish to tarry any longer but with what we had just faced I think we all shuddered to think that a former member of the covenant might have lingered in this pit for so many years and casting around we were able to find the skull within perhaps one quarter of an hour. Cynfellyn began to rouse as we made our exit and we were all on our feet as we passed back through the regio boundaries.

Alas we had forgotten the sounds that we had heard when we entered and as we came close realised our exit was shut. There was no way to open the door, the most fearsome of Cynfellyn’s conjurations unable to make a mark upon the stone and it was impossible to apport away through some enchantment about the corridor. That was perhaps the closest I came to despair in the entire journey, to have come so near and yet be trapped in a corridor that none knew we had entered. Once more it was the spirit of Ruaridh that came to our aid and he spoke softly to Cynfellyn. That magus raised the blade and brought it hard against the door. The sword shattered, it’s enchantment lost forever, but also cracked a small hole in the door that we would be able to crawl through. As we considered our course of action we heard the sound of someone approaching. Quickly, Cormoran took the chest and squeezing through the exit was able to cast the Leap of Homecoming. It was not a moment too soon as we heard the voice of Ieuan and Cynfellyn cast the Weavers Trap of Webs to seal the entrance against him. We heard the howl of a wolf and as Cynfellyn and Ieuan traded words it was apparent that he was accompanied by Darius. Cestus had a potion that would apport him to Cad Gadu and it was agreed that he should use it and warn Fenriata as to what was happening. With him gone Cynfellyn continued to speak with Ieuan, assuring that he would remain and perhaps not realise that the weapon had already been recovered and removed. I do not know how long we were trapped there before we felt a tremor in the ground and sounds of attack as Ieuan left to battle whoever had arrived. The sounds of fighting lasted for some minutes before we heard the voice of Fenriata and leaving a place I feared would be our tomb we found Prima Ex-Miscellanea accompanied by Llandoddwyn, who was accompanied by a mighty oak tree which had ripped the ground asunder around it. Both Ieuan and Darius had escaped and fearing that they would make their way to the Covenant it was agreed that Fenriata would return to Cad Gadu to find further aid to locate and escort Cormoran to Cad Gadu while Llandoddwyn would transport us to the vicinity of Severn Temple. He bade us touch the oak and in an instant we were transported to Huntley Hill. There we agreed that Cynfellyn would seek out Cormoran who would most likely have taken the barge in order to head north while I would travel to Severn Temple to warn any of our sodales who might be there. Llandoddwyn said that he would accompany me there and set the tree to aid us for if we took shelter under its boughs we could not be assailed from the other world.

Cynfellyn was able to find Cormoran aboard the barge, accompanied by Geddyn who had travelled from Cad Gadu and brought elementals to protect them on their journey. With such aid they were also able to greatly speed the barge and after some hours they were met by Fenriata who had potions to enable them to swiftly travel to Cad Gadu.

At the covenant I found both Marius and Tiarnan within. Swiftly warning them of the threat that might assail us we began to plan our next course of action when we heard the ringing of the bell set in the great hall so that the spirit who resides there might warn us of attack from beyond the veil. Bidding my sodales make their way to the spring where Llandoddwyn and the great oak could be found I hurried up the tower so that I might warn those consortis of mine and my sodales of the need to leave with haste. The last so warned was Cormoran’s apprentice and I sensed a reluctance upon him, perhaps an unhealthy interest in the threat that lay about us, before he was persuaded to hurry away. As I made my way back to the great hall I was assailed by an invisible foe that I was unable to harm. It was Ieuan and he cut me before I was forced to the floor. He rendered himself visible as he pinioned me on my back and raised his sword and realising that I could not break free before the killing blow struck I closed my eyes and uttered a short prayer to God. The blow did not land however and I heard a cry and then footsteps as Ieuan swiftly went in pursuit of whoever had attacked him. I made my way to the spring where Llandoddwyn was already deep in concentration aiding the tree to ward those sheltering beneath it and found Tiarnan but no Marius. I realised then that he must have made his way through the door to the otherworld and that it was likely that it was he who had come to my aid.

I did not know whether to return and try to find him but any such decision was almost immediately rendered irrelevant as we were attacked by Cassitus and Dionysus themselves. Taking care to stay at a good range from any of our enchantments they first opened a sack that released countless demons that bore something of a resemblance to vast, black rats. Our grogs distinguished themselves well in the fight, with the aid of myself and Tiarnan, and the creatures were eventually beaten off although not without the loss of three of their number. As this battle raged the Liches summoned forth a coil of thick, black smoke which coalesced into a dark demon that stood perhaps 9 feet tall, with sharp, wicked horns set upon its brow. The infernal creature was damaged by the light of God that I was able to send against it but not so much that it could not make charge against me and once more I thought that my time on earth was close to an end. Tiarnan managed to cast the Weavers Trap of Webs against it however, and although it was not delayed for long, the time that he bought was sufficient for me to unmake its flesh as God once more worked his will through me. As I looked around I could see no sign of our two foes and a moment later I felt the Aegis breach. In truth neither Tiarnan or I could see any action that we might take against them, and reckoning that the loss of property was of a lesser concern than the loss of further life we did not pursue them at that point.

Many of the grogs who had been injured by the snakes had strange buboes appearing upon their flesh but Kellen, a consors of Tiarnan, discovered that the water from the spring was sufficient to cleanse the diabolic infection. After some time, and no further attack, myself and my sodalis steeled ourselves sufficiently to return inside the covenant, fearing for the wellbeing of Marius and perhaps, in my own case certainly, shamed by the delay when one of our number was clearly at such risk. Inside we found the door to the otherworld and searching the rest of the building could find no trace of our enemies or Marius. The doors to the sancti of myself, Cynfellyn and Cormoran had all been destroyed and it was clear that they had been searching for the weapon. Despite what must have been their immense frustration they had done no further damage but I discovered that the Codex of Rome, so carelessly stowed under my bed, was missing. I ventured through the door into the strange land that lies in a regio so far above the aura that usually surrounds the covenant but I was too afraid to venture far and could find no sign of any passing through the mist that lay thick and low to the ground. Returning to the great hall we met with Llandoddwyn who said that it would be best if he travelled to Cad Gadu to see what occurred there.

It was not long before we were joined by Cynfellyn and Cormoran and we discussed something of what had happened. I could sense Cynfellyn’s anger that he had not been present but I believe that the journey he made was the more important, despite the way that the story unfolded. Realising that the Codex of Rome falling in to the hands of those we have so opposed might mean that any plans made regarding the weapon might be detected I spoke with Tiarnan who was able to speak with the Great Oak and bid it communicate with Llandoddwyn. He returned swiftly, although it was clear that his exertions were beginning to take their toll, and I explained the possible threat. He had not heard of the Codex, but despite my explanation of the risk he seemed relatively unpeturbed, although he said he would pass on warning. I wonder the Liches, bereft of true life as they are, even have the power to open the book, and I can only hope that it shall never be used against us.

Cynfellyn conjured a great hound and resolved to pass through the door to the otherworld and see whether he might find any trace of Marius. From what I learned afterwards he received some aid from Bethwyn and was able to pick up his trail as he was pursued by the two fallen magi and Ieuan. Cynfellyn met with Ieuan in combat but his skill and art could not best him, although he bought enough time for first Marius and then himself to flee to the summer glade. At the time I did not know any of this and in truth spent the vast majority of the season keeping vigil at the door, so that if my sodales did return they would find a path out of that place. Both Cormoran and Tiarnan aided me in this, though the former also needed to set his laboratory aright and the latter spent several weeks beyond the covenant engaged in the task for which he had planned. I do not begrudge them this time at all though, for while I am sure that there will be suspicions and questions asked when we meet in Spring, I am proud of all those magi who reside within Severn Temple and the actions that they have taken. While it is likely that there will be many times in the future when we will not see eye to eye I hope that I always remember these events and the brotherhood that I feel as I set these words to parchment.
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