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Scribed by Husam

Spring 1225 AD


I have long believed that fate takes a hand in the lives of all men, and while a man may mould the universe through his own determination and will there is much that is set within the stars. As I put the ink upon my quill to this record I wonder whether something of my fate is to witness some of the great events that befall the covenant of Severn Temple. Such an event has befallen us this season, for as we met for council at the beginning of the year we were interrupted after a short discussion upon when to take the first steps to establishing a permanent base within Bristol by a grog with strange news. The covenant had been surrounded by a thick mist since before the light of dawn but from this mist had been espied fell creatures, spiders the size of a large dog or greater. The Pontifex, Lysimachas and myself headed to the Blackney gate whilst Fabius and Maximus remained within the great hall. From the rampart we could see little for the mist was unusually thick and seemed to have some resistance to the enchantments that Astrius cast to penetrate it. He was able to bring forth a gust of wind that momentarily pushed the mist away and at the base of the walls could be seen blood upon the thick snow that is common at this time of year in this place. As we returned from the walls it became apparent that the creatures were within the wall despite there having been no warning from the aegis. Several grogs, and the man Antonio who had returned from the Levant with me, fell in that first assault and with the mist and deadened sounds the initial confusion was great. At one point we were assailed ourselves and while Astrius’ skill with the art of lightning will be no surprise to any who has read even a small part of this journal I was greatly impressed with the art of Lysimachas as he brought forth flame against several of the creatures.

Within the great hall our two sodales had learned what was happening outside and had the foresight to take several items from our magical stores, erecting a ward against these fearsome beasts at the entrance to the hall, and using the Wand of Crackling Flames with good effect. As we returned to them there was a hurried discussion concerning the nature of the attack and Astrius recalled that similar had occurred long before even he had come to Severn Temple. The Pontifex swiftly took charge of the defence myself and Lysimachas were charged with checking the tower to ensure that we would not be further troubled from within, for it was apparent now that we had no Aegis of the Hearth to protect us. As we proceeded up the tower there was initially no sign of disturbance and I wonder whether I was lulled into a state of lesser awareness for as we reached the top floor I was taken entirely by surprise as one of the creatures leapt upon me from behind the cover of the staircase wall. I was badly pinned and had Lysimachas not taken the bold decision to unleash a spell of fire against it I wonder what may have happened next. My Parma Magica held however and as the creature was weakened by the attack I was able to free my sword arm and strike a clean blow into the underbelly of the spider, ending its life.

As we returned to the great hall I saw that Constantius had been assisted back in by Njarl and was badly injured. He had been surprised within his alchemical laboratory and had the Skald not slain two of these creature with just three blows of his axe then one of our most valued consors would certainly have perished. It became clear that perhaps every third man within out turb was slain, with about the same proportion having suffered an injury to one degree or another.

Spells determined that the aura we resided within had increased by a magnitude and Maximus spent some time reviewing the journal, discovering that the similar event Astrius had recalled had occurred in the year 1114. Convinced that we had passed through in to a regio we attempted to use Petrus’ dagger to cut through to our own world but the dagger was not able to open a rent in the veil, perhaps defeated by the strength of the aura that we were in. Over the next day there were sightings of spiders in the mist beyond the hall, with just a single further creature found within the building as it entered Fabius’ laboratory through his window. Astrius slew it swiftly enough but it was clear that despite their size they could squeeze through spaces smaller than the windows of the tower, the shutters being no bar to their progress. Recognising the dangers of such a lack of protection we agreed that Fabius would attempt to cast the ninth magnitude Aegis of the Hearth around the tower. As he had to cast from text such an effort would require several hours and all the time would be vulnerable to attack from the spiders. Astrius, Lysimachas and myself led small teams of consors and grogs to defend our sodalis as he slowly made his way around the tower and there were several occasions when I feared that we would be unequal to the task. My sodales proved the strength of their art however and the ritual was cast successfully.

With our sancti now protected we once more sat down as a council. The discussion was entirely as to the best course of actions that we could follow to ensure our survival and wellbeing. With no way to determine how long we might be within the regio it was agreed that we would develop appropriate spells and craft items that might prove useful. With a number of the poison sacs from the spiders and an example of an antidote previously developed as proof against such I spent the season using my small knowledge of alchemy to assist me in brewing more.

Astrius also cast an enchantment that enabled him to talk to the fog that encompassed the entire covenant. He reported that the fog felt that it was keeping the covenant hidden and secret, shrouded from the world. It knew that there were many beasts in the forest around but no men save ourselves. Astrius said that the fog felt elemental, as if like a spirit it had a purpose. He believed that it was part of the essential nature of this place. Despite our initial intentions to visit the spring on the equinox it was agreed that such a journey was too dangerous, the chances of attack and disorientation making it foolhardy. Indeed it was difficult enough over the season making the short journey to our stores every fortnight and we soon started rationing as it became clear that the supplies would barely last us until the summer even with reduced portions. As we reached the end of the unnatural spring the mood about the covenant was quite sombre and I hope that the next season brings us more joy.

Summer

The start of the season brought no change in the circumstance and we began our council by attempting to use Petrus’ dagger once more and utilising one of the minor enchantments that Fabius had crafted to enable us to peer through the mystic veil. The dagger had no effect in Astrius’ hand but given my skill with such a weapon I was asked to try. Fabius wondered whether there was some sympathy to the magi that is quite unusual and indeed I was able to open a little more of a teat, although still without being able to gain enough purchase to allow any to leave. With Fabius’ enchantment Astrius was able to view beyond the veil and he reported that the entire covenant appeared to be missing from the site, which was bathed in the warm glow of the summer sunshine. While there were no buildings there were a number of tents, including one of significant size, and around those were figures wearing the colours of the King. Believing that this meant Marius was most likely present we agreed to write a letter to him explaining what had happened and I was able once more to wield the dagger in such a way that we threw the note through to the world beyond the regio.

We resumed our council and Astrius reported that he had successfully developed a ritual creating a large quantity of flour, enough to provide those of us here with a very basic level of sustenance. We had no other foodstuffs and fuel for the kitchens, and indeed to keep us warm during the cold nights, was running very low. Lysimachas was also concerned that conditions were of such a nature that disease was a real threat, the foul humours caused by so many men in such a small space. Astrius resolved that he would develop another spell to create a fire that would burn until the end of the day and that he would also spontaneously cast a spell to keep the air circulating so that the humours could not easily build up, a spell that Lysimachas said he could develop formulaically over the course of the season.

There was much discussion about the nature of the regio and as a council we resolved to open the door set within the wall of the great hall, crafted by Petrus to a higher level of the regio. Beyond the door was an eerie land of night and I think perhaps we all felt something that drove any desire to seek exit via that route far from our minds. We resolved that we would seek a hermetic solution to our exile and Fabius agreed to craft an item to rend the magical veil of greater magnitude than the dagger. The remainder of the season passed in much the same way as the season before, save with less need for any to venture beyond the hall and less variety of food and drink.

Autumn

I write this on the last evening before our next council and with a weary heart. The covenant is still lost and the mood within is growing increasingly ugly, with arguments between the covenfolk, and even the magi, increasingly commonplace. Our diet is limited to bread and pottage and the signs on people’s health is all too clear, with almost all now bearing some sign of the drawn skin and lank hair that signifies one as a resident of Severn Temple at this time.

Some of the mood is perhaps our own fault as we started the season with great hope that the device that Fabius had crafted would enable us to resolve the situation with this regio. Despite it only having three uses we had agreed a plan that involved myself and Quaesitor Maximus leaving with a small number of grogs and taking the most elderly and frail with us. Although the miasma had largely been addressed the risk of disease from our diet was still clear. Our plans were well known by all the covenant and we had not considered what effect there would be if we failed as proved the case. Fabius’ enchantment initially had no effect at all to his clear consternation. I was asked to try Petrus’ dagger again but as I drew it down through the air the blade cracked. Fabius was by now quite agitated and spoke of Petrus’ theories on the tenor of aurae and how he believed that Severn Temple was associated with secrecy. I tried his dagger again at the entrance to the hall and was able to gain momentary purchase but was not strong enough to hold the rift open as it swiftly drew itself whole again. Astrius tried the final use but was not even able to create a hole. Fabius resolved to try again this season to craft an item that would work. With little else to do many of us spent this season on our own work and I believe that we have all been glad of having time to ourselves.

Winter


Once more I write at the end of the season and still we are trapped within the regio. The mood of the covenfolk is a little better now but this is largely because the decision was made to allow them to slaughter and eat the horse and by our decision to use vis to create a feast in addition to the more prosaic creation of flour. The physical decline in many of the covenfolk becomes increasingly clear however and it looks likely that another season of this will result in the first deaths.

We started the season by once more attempting to open a path out of the regio, this time with none of the fanfare of the previous season’s attempt. Fabius had set the enchantments within a bastard sword so that Astrius might more easily wield the device. On his first attempt he was successful and Maximus’ man, Duncan, was able to slip through. I was not immediately witness to the event but I have heard that it took every inch of Astrius’ strength to hold the tear open so that Maximus could leap through. Alas, the Quaesitor hesitated and did not make the attempt before Astrius was bested. I am told that the Pontifex was furious with the Quaesitor, perhaps the clear tension between them that has been suppressed by our shared peril rising once more. Astrius tried twice more, exhausting the minor enchantment, but to no avail. He once more used Fabius’ device to peer beyond the veil and saw an overcast sky with gentle snow. There was no sign of Duncan, or even footsteps in the snow, and no sign of the tents that had previously been espied.

Once more we have spent the season crafting items and potions that may be of use. There is talk within our council that if Fabius’ next items do not allow us to leave then an effort may be made to walk out of the regio. Given the mist, the spiders and our lack of knowledge as to the extent of the regio such an attempt would in all likelihood be doomed to failure but there is clear concern etched into the face of the Pontifex now that such an endeavour might still be better than a long lingering death trapped within the covenant. I do not know whether I would wish to be part of any party that attempted such but in truth my home has never felt less like one and I can feel my own spirit drained by the events of this year.

Marius’ private journal

Spring

Severn Temple Covenant is missing.

I made this shocking discovery about a week into the season as I passed from London to Powys. The road from Blackney that heads up and along the Briavel hill simply ends with a large clearing, with no sign that the structures of the Covenant have ever existed. In its place is long grass, as if the walls, tower and outbuildings have not simply vanished, but have been gone for many years. The spring is still present, as are the trees thereabouts. I confess I was at a loss when I discovered the Covenant had simply disappeared. I have set up a campsite, a little away from the site itself. I can only imagine that some terrible magical accident has occurred. Hopefully, its effects will be short lived!

I travelled to Blackthorn briefly. Their council was sympathetic and Serenia agreed to mount an investigation in Summer if the Covenant has not returned. She suggested that the site may have moved within a regio and she believes she has spells to penetrate such if needed. In the meantime, I have lots to consider. Alexander of Scotland may be moving to invade, which will force me to leave to rally troops. Theophilus offered to help collect some of the uncontested vis for the Covenant next season, and I gratefully accepted this aid. If this problem doesn’t resolve itself at the end of the season, I may need such vis to pay for an investigation into what has happened to my sodales.

Within a week, word has reached me that Scotland’s armies move against the North of England. I must leave my vigil and return swiftly to London. I have left a small contingent of men to keep a watch over the site and asked the magi of Blackthorn to keep me apprised of any developments that occur in my absence.

Summer

There is still no sign of Severn Temple. Whatever magical incident has befallen my home, its effects appear cursedly long-lasting.

Together with the armies of York, we have fought two battles against the Scots and forced them to retreat for now. It is clear that Henry’s presence in the Tower continues to offer hope to the rebels and my allies grow impatient with my reluctance to act upon the evidence of treason supplied by De Percy.

I had thought to call a King’s Council this year – to try to mobilise my magical and faerie allies against the threat presented by the unnamed house, but under the circumstances this will have to wait. Word from Blackthorn is that the Covenant has not returned. Serenia’s investigation confirms that the Aegis of the Hearth is still present – and this hampered something of her investigation, she believes. She could see no immediate sign of a regio boundary, though she used spontaneous magics to search for one and evidence of a boundary may have been blocked by the Aegis. The magical aura, however, appears unchanged, so it is unclear what has caused this regio to form. She has asked magus Arcanus of Carrion Moor to assist as an investigative hoplite next season if he is free; she believes he has some specialist spells that might help.

Apparently, message from Trevalga came to the Covenant site – some work for Astrius has been completed by Ildanach. Theophilus has kindly recovered some of the uncontested vis for the season. It shall be stored at Blackthorn for now.

Autumn

I have had Henry executed for treason. It was necessary but my heart is troubled by it. With the campaign season drawing to a close and the principle focus of the rebellion dead, Alexander has retreated back behind the borders and I have some time to speak with various members of the Tribunal about what has become of my Covenant.

Magus Arcanus visited the Briarvel hill and undertook two weeks of investigation to try and uncover what has happened. Like Serenia, he concluded that the most likely explanation is that some magical accident or incident has pushed the covenant within a regio. However, even with his considerable Hermetic arts and some non-Hermetic gifts from his House, Arcanus was unable to perceive or penetrate the regio boundary. All he could ascertain is that a strange aura, with the character of the technique Rego, is extant within the boundary of the aegis. I offered Arcanus some payment in vis for his time, but he very generously refused. Our covenant has some fine friends within this Tribunal; should it ever return to enjoy them.

I visited the Heart of the Forest at the end of the season to collect the acorns and spoke to the Anu whilst I was there. She bid me not to worry about my sodales; that they had the Morrigan’s champion with them and they were all alive. I asked what could be done to bring the covenant back, but she told me to think of them as a ship out at sea. I guess that means I have to wait; but beyond Serenia, Theophilus and Arcanus, I don’t know who else to turn to within the Order.

News from the East arrived towards the end of the season. Emperor Fredrick has married Yolande (also known as Isabella), daughter of John of Brienne the nominal ruler of Jerusalem. Most see this as a further move in the game between Fredrick and the Pope. Still, while the Pope’s ire is focussed on thwarting Fredrick his eyes are not here at least.

There were also rumours that a number of prominent members of the Levant Tribunal are said to be in discussion with the Order of Suleiman. There is disquiet amongst some of the archemagi that this will potentially lead to a break up of that Tribunal and the defection of magi to that rival Order of the East. This will undoubtedly be a debate at the Grand Tribunal; though the blame for all this, surely, is the zealous Christian magi of the Order of Hermes quietly aiding the cause of Crusaders. If the Tremere are correct in their assessment of the threat posed by the Horde, then conflict against the Suleiman would be disastrous.

Winter

I returned to Severn Temple and spent part of the season at Blacknee. With the Aegis now failing perhaps the covenant will return at the end of the year? I received some sad news from London. William De Percy has died; at the age of three score and three, peacefully in his bed. I travelled to London to attend the funeral, though some at court criticised this apparent favouritism on my part. I cared not. What sort of King would I be if I did not honour those who had given me such great service and friendship? I have further annoyed those jealous of De Percy’s close relationship with me by granting his son, Thomas the lands and title of Earl of Gloucester.

It is the end of the year and yet there is still no sign of the covenant’s return. By the end of this year I was able to arrange the collection of the following vis:

Creo 5 pawns, Herbam 5 pawns, Vim 3 pawns, plus 10 acorns.
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