You are at:
Scribed by Tiarnan

Spring 1208 AD


Spring proved to be a fairly uneventful season, with little to interrupt our intended activities. The Council meeting was relatively short, as there was no news from the previous season to report, and so we soon broke up to return to our magical researches. The one exception was Marius, who soon departed for the court of King John in London. The King remains under severe pressure from his barons, who strain under the yoke of the high taxes extracted to pay for the war on the continent, and Marius believes it likely that John will have to cede some of his authority to avert the possibility of a civil war. A week or two into the season, a messenger from Powys arrived for Marius. I offered to hold it until Marius’ return, but the messenger’s instructions were to deliver it directly to his High Prince. I, therefore, provided him with directions and some extra coin to speed his journey to London.

[Tiarnan’s private journal: Marius returned a few days before the end of the season in something of a troubled mood, for he confided in me that the messenger had informed him that his new wife, Rosywn, was with child! His close advisor, Ydnoc, was sure that the woman had been faithful in her marriage vows, but Marius’ longevity potion remained in effect, which should have meant that he could not father a child. I mentioned that the bard Blaine, who had performed at Marius’ wedding, might have had something to do with it, for he sang a song at the celebration that mentioned Marius would have a son. I recognised that the performance had a touch of magic about it, much in the same way that Theo’s stories sometimes entranced the crowd. Given the parallels with the circumstances of his own conception, Marius decided to visit the Heart of the Forest to see whether the Anu could offer any insight on the matter.]

Summer

At the Council meeting, Marius reported that the Earl of York had presented a petition to King John outlining a series of demands from the barons. With the war in France going poorly, John has little choice but to make significant concessions, which will limited royal authority in various areas. In principle, this could be advantageous for Marius, for it will strengthen his hand in Wales and the Dean, but it could seriously weaken the King, which may have longer term ramifications. There will be a meeting in Winchester next year where the barons will present John with a treaty to formalise the new arrangements.

We then turned to the issue of whether to raise a motion at the Tribunal meeting to be held at midsummer. Marius explained that he would be unable to attend the meeting, but he was keen to secure the Tribunal’s permission to set up a joint watch along the southern coast of England with De Percy for the return of the Unnamed House’s ship. He reasoned that De Percy’s resources would increase the likelihood of us getting news of any sightings swiftly enough to allow us to take action, as much of the information we currently receive is several weeks old. However, the rest of the Council were skeptical about this, fearing that bringing De Percy further into our confidence would risk him finding out more about the powers of the Order and its enemies than we would like. After a protracted debate, Marius failed to convince any other Magus to raise the motion on his behalf, though I explained I would do so if he wished, though I would be an unconvincing advocate given my own misgivings. The matter was, therefore, dropped. All save Marius agreed to depart for Blackthorn just before midsummer, though given his ability to travel quickly in the form of a raven, Cormoran consented to linger behind slightly so that the covenant was occupied by at least one Magus for as long as possible.

[Tiarnan’s private journal: After the meeting, Marius sought me out and explained that the Anu had revealed that her powers had been invoked to allow him to father a child, though she would not divulge the name of the one who had done so. Marius speculated that Cormoran was the most likely candidate given his extensive knowledge of pagan rites, though his motive for doing so appeared unclear. Kai noted that Landoddwyn might also possess the skill - and he certainly possesses the interfering nature - to invoke the Anu in this way. Marius was reluctant to ask the Giant directly, for this would reveal that the invocation had been successful, and he was as yet unsure how best to protect the child from his enemies, known and as yet unrevealed, particularly if it proved to bear the Gift. To settle this last matter, I agreed to invent the ritual Sense the True Gift this season. Marius left looking worried and unsure, for none of this had been part of his plans. Though the involvement of the Anu suggests that the invocation was not malicious, it presents Marius with a series of new challenges that he must overcome if he is still ensure the child remains safe.]

We travelled up to Blackthorn in advance of midsummer. Although the Praeco frowns on mercantile activities during the Tribunal itself, there was an informal market in the days before the meeting, and I spied several of my sodales haggling with their peers over vis, items and services. I also spoke briefly with Maga Serentia to pass on the covenant’s condolences over the death of her mater, Archimaga Sylvania.

[Tiarnan’s private journal: I also mentioned to Serentia that Sylvania had recommended that she take up the challenge for her mater’s title, namely to visit and be invited to return to the Court of Air. However, Serentia indicated that this was unlikely, stating that her mater had always been more ambitious for her than she was herself. Nevertheless, I passed on Sylvania’s warm words about her filia’s quiet wisdom and recommended that she consider the matter further.]

Praeco Ponrius opened the meeting by explaining the reasons for the two-year delay in holding the Tribunal. He recalled that the Unnamed House had been an ever-present danger, even during the time that the previous incarnation of Holy Isle had perverted its mission to hunt them down, but there were now signs that our enemies had become bolder and more active. Senior Quaesitor Serenea told the story of our investigation at St David’s and Medius’ subsequent death. She also described the attack that had taken place on Blywyddan covenant, where the covenant walls had been wrent in two, the grogs slain and two mature Magi, Jerriania of Tytalus and Maia of Tremere, captured and tortured. Their attackers had also used a magical creature known as a gorgon to turn several of the defenders to stone. However, the matter that caused most whispered discussion was Ponrius claim that the Parma Magicae of the two Magae had proved ineffective against the infernal magics employed by their attackers. He was challenged on how he could know this, and Serenea claimed that she had been able to speak with the spirit of Jerriania, who revealed that she had been rendered senseless by a spell that was not intercepted by her magical defences. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say, yet I feel that there must be more to the tale, for if the Unnamed House were able to easily bypass our most important magical defence, I doubt there would be a covenant left standing in this Tribunal. Still, Ponrius and Serenea’s words ensured that all present were left in no doubt that the Unnamed House was by no means a forgotten enemy.

With the opening speeches concluded, Ponrius announced that seven new Magi had joined the Tribunal. In addition to Fabius and Idolon from Severn Temple, he welcomed the Magi Emerius of Flambeau, Palleus of Ex Miscellanea and Vorescio of Verditius from Bori Tor covenant and Kernau and Luthuin of Ex Miscellanea, both of whom had decided to dwell outside covenants.

Quaesitor Faelon of Holy Isle spoke next. He announced that Holy Isle was seeking volunteers from across all Houses to join them in their dedication to hunt down the Unnamed House. He also levied a tithe of two pawns of vis per Magus to support the covenant’s activities. Ponrius clarified that, despite the delay in holding this Tribunal, the next meeting would be held on the previous schedule, so Magi have five years to pay.

Next, Orlania advocated the need to make plans for her eventual replacement as Praefecta given her advancing age and the possible onset of Twilight. Rather than await the decision of a Tribunal meeting to appoint a successor upon her death or entrance to Final Twilight, she sought to establish the position of Secundus to act as an effective heir in waiting. Personally, I was not convinced of the need for such a position, regarding it as further proliferation of titles and powers that are easier to establish than they are to remove. Although I was similarly skeptical of the position of Praefecta when it was initially proposed, Orlania’s admiral service over the years has convinced me that it does have considerable merit. However, the success of the position is very dependent on the type of person who fulfills the role, and I would have preferred to have full debate at a Tribunal upon Orlania’s passing, for what if we appoint someone who seems suitable now only for circumstances to change in the future so that an alternative candidate would have been preferable? Nevertheless, the Tribunal did not share my concerns, and the vote to appoint a Secundus was carried fairly comfortably.

With the position established in principle, Ponrius suspended the meeting until the following morning to allow potential candidates to seek support. I had rather expected either or both of Cormoran and Cynfelyn to seek the post, for they both possess considerable battle magics and experience of serving as Hoplites. In the event, neither chose to do so, and the eventual list of candidates had quite a different flavour: Edith of Lear Valley; Ludovidicus of Solis Castle; and Kira of Carrion Moor. Each of these Magi spoke briefly on their suitability for the post. Edith focussed on the use of non-Hermetic talents to find out more about the Unnamed House’s activities, though her speech was the most partisan of the three, and I heard several Magi mutter doubts about her ability to work well with those outside her House. Ludovidicus’ speech was the polar opposite, for he stressed his ability to get on with all kinds of people, regardless of their backgrounds, yet he offered few ideas about how he would go about addressing the problem of the Unnamed House. Finally, Kira emphasised the importance of understanding the motivations of the Unnamed House if we are to be able to predict their activities. She referred to the skills at intrigue she had inherited from her accomplished mater that she could bring to bear on the problem, and she also displayed her access to information by noting that the Unnamed House was being lead by one who was not thought to be of their lineage, which is not common knowledge.

After the speeches, a vote was called, and Kira carried the day; she also earned the votes of all members of Severn Temple save Cormoran, who voted for Edith, and Cynfelyn, who voted for Ludovidicus. I believe that Kira’s selection will bear out the wisdom of the Tribunal and that she will take an innovative approach to the role of Praefecta when Orlania eventually passes on.

With business concluded, Ponrius brought the Tribunal meeting to an end, noting that the next meeting will be in summer 1213. We made our way back to Severn Temple and the rest of the season passed without incident.

Autumn

We held a short Council meeting at the start of the season and then went about our business. The only two items of note were Comoran’s announcement that he intended to travel to the islands of Anglesey and Bardsey in an attempt to learn more about the druids who once inhabited North Wales and Idolon’s decision to spend the season contacting our spies across the Marches to see whether there was any further news of bandit attacks in the area.

[Tiarnan’s private journal: Early in the season, Marius and I travelled in secret to one of the villages in his territories in Powys to meet his newborn son, Urien. I was able to determine that the child does indeed bear the Gift, though I could not tell whether this news pleased Marius. I returned a few days later, leaving Marius back in Wales. I believe that he intends to move his wife and child to Severn Temple given the additional protection offered by residence in the covenant, though I am not sure how he intends to present his son to his subjects or the Council.]

Winter

At the Council meeting, Idolon reported that he had visited our spies in the Marcher lands, though there had been no further reports of bandit activity. Interestingly, however, he had managed to recruit an unusual companion. While traveling along the road from Bridgnorth to Shrewsbury, he had come across an abandoned camp. Following tracks into the forest, he discovered the corpses of four men, each of whom showed signs of violent death. He soon became lost among the trees, as a strange mist enveloped the area. There he encountered a Norseman, Njal Hromundsson, a skald from the Kingdom of Orkney who had travelled many hundreds of miles south in pursuit of a Trow. This creature, which had the appearance of a hulking, bestial man and the ability to shrug off even the most serious wound, had slain Njal’s clan chief, and the band had vowed to hunt it down in revenge. They had brought with them a magician who knew of a way to mix a paste that could counter the creature’s ability to heal its wounds, yet the man had been slain before he could complete the recipe. With impeccable timing, as the skald finished his tale, the Trow appeared from out of the mist and launched itself at the group. As Njal had indicated, weapons appeared to have little effect on the creature, and it was even able to heal the damage caused by Idolon’s Incantation of the Milky Eyes within a few heartbeats. Luckily, Idolon was able to use a spell the calm its rage, and it departed before it could slay the entire party, though Njal predicted that it would eventually return.

Without the ability to harm the creature permanently, the group were in considerable danger, so Idolon called up the spirit of the slain Norse magician. He was able to communicate the recipe for the paste, and Idolon gathered the ingredients from the graveyard of a nearby village. Constantius, drawing on his alchemical training, then mixed the various herbs into a thick paste that could be applied to the edges of weapons. It was not a moment too soon, for the thick, billowing mist returned, and the shape of the Trow could be seen lumbering towards them. However, with their weapons now proof against the monster’s hide, the group were able to drive it back and Idolon managed to send it into a deep slumber, at which point Njal struck off its head. With his vengeance complete, the Norseman offered to accompany the party back to Severn Temple to repay them for the aid. Idolon stated that he believes that the man may be a boon for the covenant, for his possesses a ready wit and the ability to communicate well.

Cormoran spoke next, recounting the tale of his journey to the isles of Anglesey and Bardsey. He first called it at Holy Isle covenant, where McKeidh warned him not to approach Bardsey given the dark practices the druids had performed there in the past. Cormoran ignored him, and their discussion soon grew so heated that they departed on poor terms, with McKeidh vowing not to aid Cormoran again should he venture to the island. The journey there proved easy enough, as Cormoran and his companions persuaded a group of local fishermen to row them across the waters.

Bardsey is a small, flat island not more than a mile or two in length. As the group approached its centre, they must have passed through at least one Regio boundary, for they noticed the sky darkened dramatically and a small, primitive hut became visible in the distance. Entering, Cormoran noticed a crude, horned figure carved into the wall with bloody markings daubed around it, which he recognised as Cernunnos, a pagan god associated with animals and hunting. Through some arcane ritual, Cormoran succeeded in invoking the god, though the outcome was not to his liking, for the hut was surrounded by baying hounds, and a sinister voice called out from the dark demanding a blood sacrifice. Cormoran surmised that he had no option but to slay one of his companions to honour the god. He initially selected Beddwyn, yet another man, Ralph, challenged Cormoran to single combat to decide whose blood should be spilt. Cormoran declared that the fight had been close, which speaks to Ralph’s skill given the giant’s formidable strength, but Cormoran eventually managed to knock him unconscious and slit his throat.

As the Yorkshireman’s blood pooled on the floor, the horned god declared himself satisfied with the result and asked Cormoran what he sought in return. The giant stated that he was looking for a way to find and slay Ieuan. Cernunnos declared that Cormoran had been appointed to lead the Wild Hunt and need only catch sight or scent of his quarry to bring about his ruin. As a sign of his appointment, two small ridges appeared on Cormoran’s forehead, which he believes will, in time, grow into antlers. With the bargain complete, the baying hounds vanished into the mist and the darkness that had smothered the hut lifted. The journey back to Severn Temple was without incident, though Beddwyn chose to leave the giant’s employ, having been horrified by his comrade’s death at Cormoran’s hands.

We debated this development at length, though our lack of knowledge about the implications of Cormoran leading the Wild Hunt limited our ability to draw firm conclusions. Tales of the Wild Hunt are rare, but they inevitably lead to the destruction of both the quarry and the one who leads it; in many cases, any mortal who even sees the Hunt also disappears, never to return. Comoran himself admitted that he knew relatively little of it, yet he seemed willing to at least consider invoking it to defeat Ieuan, even if it lead to his own demise. We counseled him to think very carefully about this, not least because of the potential for others to harmed.

[Tiarnan’s private journey: I found Cormoran’s tale troubling, for it was clear that he had blundered into a situation with the potential for great harm without a clear appreciation of what was dealing with. He has declared several times that the mistakes of his youth are behind him and that he is now more thoughtful and considered, yet this latest escapade shows that little has really changed. I am also concerned about the circumstances of the encounter, for though Cormoran is convinced that he was dealing with a pagan entity, there seem clear overtones of the infernal to me. Making a pact with a dark, horned spirit requiring the (involuntary!) sacrifice of a faithful friend seems like a poor business, particularly given the druids had used that place for such foul rituals in the past. Cormoran claims that the Wild Hunt will be able to track Ieuan even if he flees into the bowels of Hell itself, yet how is this possible given that the pagan powers seem limited to their own realm? When I asked how this Cernunnos was different from a demon, Cormoran replied that the latter were “corrupt” spirits, yet what does that actually mean? I begin to wonder just how different these dark gods and corrupt spirits really are.]

The rest of the Council meeting passed without matters of note, and we soon departed to recast the Aegis of the Hearth.

A week into the season, Alannus the Redcap arrived with news from the wider world. He explained that the Pope, Innocent III, had informed King John that Stephen Langton had been elected as the new Archbishop of Cantebury by the monks of Christ Church. This had infuriated the King, who favoured another candidate, John de Grey. The King refused to allow the new Archbishop to take up his seat and expelled the troublesome monks. The Pope, in response, placed the entire kingdom under an interdict, with the result that all Church services, including marriages and burials, are suspended. The power struggle between King and Pope continues, with neither side seemingly willing to back down. Further afield, the Pope has also called a crusade against a sect of heretics known as Cathars who dwell in the south of France. These Cathars apparently eschew wealth and place no faith in the Church hierarchy, both of which are an anathema to the scheming Pope. Marius speculated that the crusade could cause problems for covenants in the Provencal Tribunal, as many Jerbiton there have connections with the clergy and nobles. In Hermetic news, the former Primus of House Guernicus, Gregorius, has stood down for personal reasons, which many attribute to his dismal performance over the treachery of House Tremere. Archimagus Philipus has taken over, and he is believed to have more sympathy for Transitionalist interpretations of the Code than his predecessor. Furthermore, Gratia has also stood down as Inquisitor to allow her to accompany an Archimaga of Bonisagus south into the lands of House Ethiopicus to check on their understanding of the Code. Her former apprentice, Voraxius, has taken over the role of Inquisitor.

At midwinter, the bard Blaine visited the covenant and told several tales that entranced many of the common folk and at least one of the Magi. In particular, his story of the Wild Hunt confirmed much of what Cormoran had told us earlier, including the danger posed to any who witnessed its activities.
 You are at: