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Scribed by Husam

Spring 1220 AD


Many hands have laid down their thoughts and observations within this journal, providing a record of history that will provide insight to the magi of this covenant for many years to come. I wonder if all have paused as long as I before writing their first word, considering what matters are deserving of record and the tone and tenor in which they shall be inscribed. It is the wheels of history that hold my fascination, great events that shape the lives of men and yet as I look back I see there have been other authors who have chosen to set down such minutiae as the type of vis a particular magus may have studied from over the course of the season. I will try and find a place somewhere between the extremes but if I fail I beg the indulgence of the reader, and hope that what I have set down is still of use.

The first action of our council this season was to vote upon the petition from Magus Maximus to join our number. Given the time that he had spent making his case, both in the council of last winter and over the course of that season, the Pontifex called for a vote immediately and the magi of Severn Temple duly delivered the unanimous approval required. Maximus entered the chamber and added his name to the long list that has been recorded on the charter, the number of which had later been scratched out standing stark as a reminder of the dangers that this covenant has faced.

Another change was made to the names of the magi that reside here, this time the cause being the return of Cynfelyn to his former House and his retaking of the name Astrius. He reported that his oath had been to Amanita, and with his death he felt it was time to return once more to Flambeau and the name that his Pater had given him.

The council itself was concluded quite swiftly, with all the magi save myself undertaking a service of some kind or other, and of them all but Marius staying within the covenant. His belief that this might be the last season before war erupts in the land, although he hopes to defer such event for as long as possible, gave me the impetus to make the journey to Brittany that my Pater had suggested a couple of years before. My journey to an old acquaintance proved interesting and I returned with a new Consors, a man named Vincent.

Private Journal

I elected to travel to Brittany accompanied by Constantius and two grogs. The journey across the sea was easy enough, the covenant’s vessel being finely led by its Captain despite the broad range of ability displayed by the sailors aboard. We crossed first to St Malo before following the coast to the Odet river. This was navigable for just a short way before we tied at a wharf and transferred to a smaller vessel that took us to Quimper itself. The city is not large but seems prosperous with fine buildings and a sense of energy. We chose a tavern marked by the sign of three fishes and there I was able to find a man of England named Lionel who had long resided within Brittany and spoke the language well. The language itself is a strange one, sounding to have more in common with Welsh than the French that I expected. He spoke to the landlord of the tavern who had heard the name of Hubert de Hautville. It turned out that the family held a sizable estate to the west of Quimper, along the road to Cerosan.

The journey took a little over a day and soon we came to the manor. There I spoke to the guards on duty who seemed cautious and wary and eventually they summoned a young girl named Angelique, who spoke fair English, and who informed me that the Earl, Hubert, was sick and would not receive me. It was apparent that something was not right and so we departed but a small distance to make camp whilst I considered my next course of action. Shortly afterwards however the girl was espied along the road calling for us and after a short conversation it became apparent that he had been poisoned, most likely by his cousin, a woman who had secured the manor from outsiders, no doubt waiting until he died. Angelique also told us that his son, Vincent, had departed to a town, a few days journey to the north, called St Brieuc to seek out a holy relic said to have the power to cure a man. He had been followed by two mercenaries and it was clear that Angelique believed that they had been sent to kill him. He had left two days earlier, with a start of just two hours over the would be assassins, and I determined that I would make my way as swiftly as I could to the town. Angelique fetched an old man called Tivo who was able to provide us with simple instructions on the route that we would need to follow.

Leaving Constantius and the grogs to follow at the best pace that they could make I took the form of an owl and swiftly followed along the road. Despite the constant mist and drizzle, which seem ever present in these parts, and the occasional threat of birds of prey espied in the distance I made good time and arrived at the city shortly after nightfall. I took some time to familiarise myself with the layout of the town from the air and as I identified two taverns that seemed most likely for a man of Vincent’s breeding I also espied an armed figure moving through the streets. He entered another tavern, requiring some persuasion to enter in the hours of darkness, and left again shortly afterwards before heading to a house where another man gave him entry. It seemed clear to me that this must be one of the mercenaries and they were still searching for Vincent so I chose to get some sleep within the quiet confines of the graveyard of the large cathedral.

The following morning I made my way to the two taverns and with my lack of language making conversation possible kept a watch, hoping to spy either the mercenaries or Vincent, who I hoped would bear at least a passing resemblance to his father. I was not disappointed for the two mercenaries entered the tavern, which bore the sign of a pirate’s treasure, and questioned the innkeep there. While they did not spot his guile I did, and it was clear that he knew the name which they were searching for but had not given it up. As they left to continue their search of the town I entered and discovered that the innkeep spoke a little English. I was eventually able to convince him that I knew Vincent was there and was a friend and after a short time met the man himself. He is a young man, good natured and with a verve that is refreshing. He holds no small charisma and it is hard not to like him. He swiftly intuited that I was a magus and told me that the two men had made an attempt on him upon the road but that he had been able to escape easily enough, given that he was both quicker and smarter than they.

Once our stories were shared he made his way to the Cathedral to speak with the Bishop there and ask to borrow the relic, a ring worn by a Welsh monk called St Brioc, one of the seven founding saints of Brittany. Unfortunately his confidence that his family name would make this an easy task was unfounded and the clergyman told him that were he the King himself he would not permit the relic to leave the Cathedral. Vincent then determined that he would steal the ring and I agreed to aid him, conscious that his father might not have much time. We slipped from the tavern room at night and made our way to the rear of the Cathedral, where Vincent was able, after some initial missteps from both him and me, to pick the lock of the door there and gain entry to the building. He was comfortable enough with the idea of magic that he was happy for me to cast the Eyes of the Cat upon him and the faint starlight from the high windows was enough to allow us to search the reliquary, eventually finding ring, finely wrought and seemingly crafted just the day before despite its significant age. As we left I was able to use an enchantment to secure the lock of the door, hopefully giving us some time before the theft was discovered and the mercenaries’ attention drawn to our success.

With the aid of the innkeeper paying off the guards on the gate we were able to leave early the following morning and made good progress on our return to the Hautville Manor, meeting with Constantius and the grogs at the end of our first day’s travel. It took a total of three days to reach our destination, where Vincent suggested that a part of the wall could be scaled. Reminding me that the men within were loyal to his father, just unaware of the perfidy of his cousin, he asked that we endeavour to ensure that no man was injured in our attempt, a request I was happy to accede to.

Waiting until night had long fallen the two of us crept to the walls. The young man’s words were proven correct for the part of the wall that we came to had some stones set less evenly than they should have been, and while it was not an easy climb we both made it to the top without mishap, before slipping inside one of the towers. Sneaking through the building we eventually reached a locked door and Vincent was unlucky, his pick snapping in the lock and leaving me with no option but to use magic to rot the door. Vincent’s quick reflexes ensured that the lock mechanism did not make contact with the floor and we entered on to a balcony with two guards stationed below it. I was able to use magic again, rendering the men asleep and we were soon close to the Earl’s door. A final spell dealt with the guard waiting by Hubert’s door and Vincent set the ring to the lips of my Pater’s former consors. There was a momentary pause before the magic of the relic took effect and Hubert was brought to recovery. He took swift control of the situation and his cousin was imprisoned, no doubt to meet an appropriate fate in the future.

We remained under Hubert’s hospitality for the next few weeks, and while I said I wished for no reward I was happy to hear his tales of his time in the Levant. Before we left he asked whether I would be prepared to allow Vincent to return with me, for his second son would inherit nothing and needed to make his way in the world. I was happy to agree for I had taken a liking to him, as well as recognising the value that such a man could bring in the future. He will not be well suited for some of the dark work that surely lies in my future, but his quick tongue and gymnastic skills will certainly prove useful in many other tasks. Towards the end of the season we returned to Quimper, and meeting up with one of the sailors as previously arranged were able to return to Severn Temple without event.


Summer

As I wrote my first words in this journal I did not realise how soon one of the great events that I spoke of might occur at this covenant, and how it is our own lives that it will shape. Our Pontifex, the Archimagus Tiarnan, has fallen, slain by a wizard of the Un-named House. The covenant has been shocked by this loss, so swiftly following that of Magus Cormoran, and while I believe that we will endure it is a grievous blow. I have known him but a few years and I feel a great sadness at the news; it is hard to imagine how deep the grief that must afflict Astrius and Marius, particularly the former who must bury it deep as he has taken on the mantle of our leader.

Only Marius was away for our meeting at the start of the season. At that council Tiarnan announced that he had completed an enchantment, a mirror that allows scrying, both of word and deed, upon a place or person to which an arcane connection is held. It is an impressive item, beaten metal set within a hazel frame, and the sheen of water that passes upon its face as it is activated is a reminder that it is the last legacy of the Archimagus, whose sigil that was. There were other discussions at our gathering, including the effectiveness of the man who leads the pagan rituals at the spring now Cormoran has gone and whether the additional vis in Autumn will endure, but it was the decision of Tiarnan and Astrius to visit Mynydd Myrddin as a service to the covenant that must dominate my narrative.

The two magi were accompanied by their familiars, a single grog with skill as a tracker and two of Tiarnan’s companions, the faeries Eanfled and Bodkin. On their journey they once more sought out the werewolves of the forest near the regio, but as before there was no response and it seems that whatever foul fate befell them at the hands of Ieuan, his death has not undone it. Entering the regio they swiftly espied thick black smoke high above the treeline, and they determined that it was coming from the direction of the ruined celt village within the woods. They chose initially to head to the tower in the centre of the great plain, always keeping an eye on the smoke that was such clear sign that something had occurred within the regio since last any of us visited.

The tower was changed also, the palisade around it having been reinforced with wood from the old outbuildings. As they approached they sighted bodies within the long grass, clearly celts but burned with an enchantment that magical investigation revealed to be a monstrous spell, of hermetic base but with infernal elements, that burned from both without and within. A sigil of sulphurous soot was found and it was estimated that the effect must be of at least the tenth magnitude. Within the tower the faeirie fox had uncovered a demon of some kind and Astrius entered, his enchantments banishing all shadow and revealing the creature as a mixture of spider, leech and oily smoke. He slew it swiftly and as they investigated the vicinity found short lengths of rope and further bodies, two of which had been slain with crossbows rather than spells. Astrius’ familiar, Maelgwyn, was able to detect tracks of 12 men, more heavily armoured than the celts, who had come from the vicinity of the village that it was now clear must be aflame. Only 11 of those men had left the tower however and as Tiarnan investigated he found traces of another spell with a different sigil, that of blood rushing through the veins. The spell was again of around the tenth magnitude and had been used to control a magical creature, the suspicion being that the Wyvern was the most likely target.

Deciding that this news was of such import that Holy Isle must be swiftly informed my sodales made their way to the exit of the regio, but before they passed through the boundary Astrius’ familiar sensed the presence of a spirit. They discovered that this was the spirit that resides within the pool where the magi of this covenant have in the past left offerings in exchange for vis. I understand that Astrius believes that she is a spirit of great power, linked in some way to the spirits revered as gods that are the Morrigan and Anu. She led them to her pool and there revealed that she believed the wizards of the un-named house were searching for the crystal caves, a place of great power where a former magus of Severn Temple was slain, and which might hold the secret as to where could be found the old magic treasures of this isle. They made the decision that this attempt must be disrupted and that no time could be spared. They sent Richard and Bodkin out of the regio, bearing a letter for the covenant before turning and heading once more deeper into that place.

They chose to head to the lake where a great serpent called the Llyllyfau dwells. As they approached they discovered that the tenor of this place had also changed following the end of the long night and the woods were sickening, the water of the lake foul and poisonous. The faerie Eanfled called for the creature and it emerged from the lake, with dark black and blue scales and green eyes. From what Astrius has reported the initial negotiations with the creature were difficult and more than once my sodales feared attack. Perhaps that would have been the result but a great explosion was heard from the direction of the barrows and this seems to have turned the favour of the conversation. Eventually the serpent, sensing the threat that our enemies pose, agreed to take the magi through a narrow underwater tunnel, with only Kai able to travel with them. They were taken deep within the pool and led through a narrow tunnel beneath the surface that led into the caves, lit with an eerie luminescence. They could hear the voices of their prey and made their way cautiously through the maze of passages guided only by the sound.

As they made their way closer they were able to hear in more detail what was being said, and realised that the wizards were casting some sort of ritual, perhaps with a hermetic base but using other strange arcane elements, and cast in both Latin and Welsh. They came into a part of the caves where lie the crystals said to reveal memories of a legendary wizard named Merlin and for a moment Astrius was caught in a reverie, but it did not last long. Rendered almost invisible by Tiarnan’s magic they entered the cave. Their foes were also hidden from sight and detecting entry my sodales both felt their Parma Magica assailed. In moments the small chamber erupted with the exchange of magic. At first the spells cast were those which could be used indirectly, Astrius’ webs and ice spells countered by a wall of flame and a spell that shattered the stalagmites that littered the cavern. The latter spell was a fell one indeed for the shards that were flung from the rock were not resisted by magical protection and while Astrius was able to withstand such damage it appears that the Archimagus had less formidable physical protection. He was struck at least twice and at some point fell victim to his opponents. Astrius had seen him fall, although at that point he was uncertain as to the severity of the wound, but his own enchantments had weakened one of the enemy wizards sufficiently that he was able to spy him through his protective illusion and cast lightning, slaying the man in an instant. It seems that the other chose to flee, casting a Rego Corporem enchantment that must have taken him to the edge of the regio that they were within before making good his escape.

As Astrius tried to assess Tiarnan’s injuries he realised that Kai no longer bore the gifts that a familiar receives and that creature’s confusion revealed the truth of our sodales’ fate. Bearing the bodies himself Astrius returned to his companions waiting beyond the caves and then onward beyond the curtain of the regio. He stopped first at Blackthorn so that the news could be swiftly borne to Holy Isle, and so that the Senior Quaesitor could be informed of the death of an Archimagus. Quaesitor Serenia returned to Severn Temple with him. I gather that Astrius had some sense of Tiarnan’s wishes and once his death had been formally confirmed his body was taken to the faerie court of Llyr, accompanied by Maga Marissa of House Merinita and the former companions of the Archimagus.

For myself the season passed relatively uneventfully, as I travelled to London and spent the season with some of Marius’ mundane intelligencers, learning more of the art of intrigue that will be vital in our future conflicts with the Black Knives.

Private Journal

My deeds within the summer of 1120 shall never be known by any other save for the King’s man William de Percy and his son Thomas. All that my master taught me during my time as his apprentice was finally used as I agreed to step outside of my oath to the Order of Hermes and intervene directly within the affairs of the mundane court. De Percy was greatly concerned about the dangers that the Earl of Somerset posed with Marius’ plan to identify Prince Henry as a bastard and thus ineligible to take the throne of England. He had conceived of a plan to eliminate him and asked me whether I would be the instrument. I thought long and hard about my decision before accepting as not only is such an action against the code but I was asked to swear that the King never learn of the plot and that should I be uncovered I take my own life. Such a pledge was not easy to make but I thought of the lesson that my master taught me about the deeds of Majid al-Din, the Lion of Alamut, and knew that I could be no less committed to any cause I declare for than was himself in the court of the Franks.

The plan was a simple one. I was to be appointed as a cook in the Earl’s household, easy enough within the hunting season, and there wait for an opportunity to poison the earl with a draft that De Percy had obtained, one that would cause him to sicken and die over some days as if illness had gripped him. The preparation over the next few weeks was hard and I do not believe I have ever had such long days as I worked to master the knowledge that I would need to maintain my guise. Eventually it was agreed that I was ready and I travelled to his court, where a man named Neal, the head cook in his court, took me on. This had been arranged prior to my arrival as this man had accepted coin to betray his master, believing me a spy.

The next few weeks were no easier than before. The life of a servant within a noble’s court is a hard one, and to the exhaustion of the work could be added the need to maintain my cover and seek out the opportunity to strike. It had also been agreed that Neal must die also; a man who would accept coin to betray the trust of his master could not be relied upon to keep his role in the plot secret forever, and thus there was further planning that had to be made. Eventually the right opportunity struck, and during a great feast towards the end of the season I was able to administer the poison. Yet it was not as simple as I had hoped, for while the Earl took the meal I prepared, as I added the toxin to it I was espied by a young servant named Peter. Whether he understood what he saw I am not sure but the following day I spent in a state of some anxiety, neither knowing whether the Earl would fall sick or whether I would be taken as a murderer and the plot uncovered.

The night after the deed was carried out I slew Neal, stabbing him to death in a darkened alley in such a way that suspicion would fall upon a merchant named Merton De Grute who had previously had a dispute with him. That same night I took Peter a tavern in town and plied him with enough alcohol that his death would have been a simple matter, but I ended up staying my hand. Whether it was my concern that two slayings of servants would bring greater suspicion when the Earl started to sicken, or whether it was his simple enthusiasm for life I do not know. I suspect that both were involved but the next few days continued to be filled with concern, particularly when the Earl did indeed sicken and eventually die. Yet the boy’s behaviour gave no indication of any suspicion and when I suggested that he might leave with me at the end of the season and see the world the seed swiftly grew in his mind and he readily accepted.

The last few days I spent at the manor did not pass quickly but eventually I was able to take my leave, accompanied by the boy. Even as we travelled that day I sought a way to let him live but no matter what I considered I knew I could not be certain that he would never let slip what he knew. That night we made camp a little way from the road and it was a simple matter to render him unconscious. As I took my blade and slit his throat he woke briefly, the surprise and confusion in his eyes clear, but his life ebbed away quickly and I believe there was little pain. I buried him that night and said what prayers I knew to speed him on his way but I know that this death will be with me until the day my own life reaches its conclusion.


Autumn

Astrius’ first action at the council was to appoint a Ministrator, and he declared that Fabius would fill the position. He also reminded us of the damage that the Un-named House has done to this covenant and it is clear that he will not rest until the threat is eliminated from the order. It is believed that there must be at least four magi still extant from that renounced House; the sigils that have been found are of blood rushing through the veins, dark eyes, an oily sheen upon stone and a smell of urine. It is also clear that each magus within this covenant must give consideration to how we will protect ourselves should we become a target for any of these magi.

Marius attended our meeting and he brought a mixture of news. He still believes that it is likely there will be civil war within this country, his fabricated evidence for the illegitimacy of the Prince is to be revealed in winter. Yet at least the foes arrayed against him will be weakened as the Earl of Somerset has died following an illness. This season he continues to prepare the Welsh forces as they will move swiftly to secure Chepstow and Monmouth before laying siege to Gloucester. He has improved the fortifications within London and has also sent messages warning the magi of the tribunal of the events that are likely to unfold. The covenant has started laying in additional supplies. With the rest of my sodales all planning on attending the symposium at Blackthorn this season I agreed to remain within the covenant and extract vim vis for our stores.

Before my sodales left on their journey I was shown where lies the Heart of the Forest, a place of great mystical power for this covenant that keeps itself well hidden through some enchantment. I also took a few days to visit Bristol and recover arcane connections that we may use with the mirror Tiarnan crafted to spy on the Black Knives. We had been given a number of locations by the dwarf Fulke and the vast majority were easy to collect by myself and Constantius. There was an incident in one of the taverns as a guard had been posted within an upstairs meeting room and we were unaware of his presence. When he attacked us he was slain and we took the opportunity to make it seem like the attack of ruffians, a ploy that seems to have worked as later scrying revealed they had blamed the other faction of the infernalists within the city, believing that they have hired foreign mercenaries. Following the incident we chose to use Leap of Homecoming potions to return to the covenant and as a result there is still one location we need to try and obtain a connection to in the future, a place within the Merchants Hall. Constantius has made further use of the mirror and Fulke has used the information to learn the identities of a number of the disciples and infiltrate a man into the lower echelons of Gerald’s faction.

I am told that the symposium was a success, although only a dozen or so of the tribunal’s magi chose to attend. There were presentations on the relationship between the realms of magic and faerie, the nature of spirits and ghosts, the limits of magic theory and the magical history of Cornwall. My sodales were also able to get some news of importance to the covenant. It seems that Tiarnan and Astrius were not the only magi to face the Un-named House as the magi of Holy Isle were involved in a sea battle somewhere off the coast of Scotland. They believe they fought two magi, as well as numbers of Demons. Both ships were damaged and our enemy was able to escape. They also learned that the tribunal of Provencal has raised a charge against Marius regarding his actions in the mundane sphere. It is to be heard in seven years time and is possible as some English lands lie within that tribunal. There was also a little news that I record here as it is of interest to myself. The European crusader knights continue to do well in their wars in both Syria and the south of France. There has also been a report that redcap ships have been attacked by pirates in the seas around Hispania. They have asked for others to help and I may ask Alanus for more details when next I see him.

Winter

While I know that it is in part due to the power of the faerie Erechwydd I remain surprised by how cold it becomes in our vicinity during this season, the snows drifting to notable heights in the deepest part of winter. Despite the difficulty of travel Marius once more attended our council before departing for London to start his plot. He will imprison the Prince and he expects armies to begin mustering at the start of spring. He believes that Gloucester will support Henry despite the long years of treaty between himself and the Duke as his son is still too young to be betrothed to Joan, the Duke’s daughter. It was obvious that he regrets this and does not believe that it will be resolved without bloodshed. He hopes that it will end swiftly enough that he can turn his mind to the charges from Provencal, although our own Praeca has confirmed that she abides by the decisions our own tribunal has made concerning his mundane dealings. He also intends to call a King’s Council when the civil war has come to an end and see what aid his allies may give against the Un-named House.

A few days after we had met we were visited by Quaesitor Faelon and MacKeith who had decided to share some of what they had learned from their investigations within Mynyydd Myrrddyn. The magus that Astrius slew was revealed to have been of 130 years of age and well versed in Ignem and Terram magic. They have been close on the heels of the Un-named House for some time but always just a step behind, sometimes less than a week. This has led them to believe that within there number there is a seer or diviner although they have found no evidence of a sigil. It was suggested by Astrius that an artefact called the Codex of Rome, previously stolen from this covenant, might be the source of their knowledge. The magi of Holy Isle continued that they believe that the renounced house is quite well spread out but there is communication and shared planning. Indeed they suspect that the ship they battled in the summer may have been a distraction while the expedition within Mynnydd Myrrddin went ahead. It is likely the existence of the crystal caves was passed to the by Ieuan before he fell to the wild hunt. The 13 treasures of Britain were written about extensively by a former Praeca of the tribunal Eloria, and her writings were stolen when the Un-named House assaulted Blywyddan.

The magus that Astrius slew was leading the ritual and they believe it fell, although the surviving magus is reported as being a beast master of significant power. They have also identified two more possible members whose sigils are a ring of green fire and clashing steel. The first is a Herbam specialist and practiced in poison while the second is a warrior. They believe that the majority of our foes are not of the same age and power as those our sodales recently faced, although they have infernal allies and some spirits under their control.

There are indications that Druids are being slain by the magi and it has given rise to suspicions that vengeance against the order may not be their only or primary goal. Astrius said that Arcanus believes that there was a civil war between the druids just before the founding of the Order of Hermes and that Diedne was the leader of the faction that won, a group that favoured a written over an oral tradition. Quaesitor Faelon asked if we could check the writings of Tiarnan and Cormoran to see if there was anything within that might shed light, as it seems that both had contact with a Magus Llandoddwyn who they believe knows more but can not be located. They announced that they would be returning to Mynyydd Myrddin in spring, accompanied by Cerdic, and Astrius agreed to accompany them as hoplite.

The last news that I must record in the journal for this year is that a message arrived towards the end of the season confirming that Marius has been crowned as King of England. He has taken the name of King Aidan and I believe that war will soon be upon us.
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