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Scribed by Urbanus

Spring 1232 AD


As I set my quill to the page, I am struck as others before me by the volume of history to which I contribute. When I look back at the names of the magi who scribed within this journal, I see the heroes and villains of the past; each contributing to the legend of Severn Temple. This unassuming settlement, nestled against the borders of a forest in a relatively innocuous corner of England, has seen itself repeatedly at the centre of Hermetic and Temporal events. It was in 1089 that Idris suggested, following the death of Jean, that the blood at the spring shifted the balance of forces within the land. The lore of this place states that what happens upon the spring influences the great river, which carries that sway deep across the land. Is there truth to this? A rational man might reject such as superstition, but how else does one explain the remarkable destiny of those that have resided here?

Three Archemagi has it produced, four if Petrus’ role in its refounding is included. The current Praeca once resided here also and was no doubt shaped by the fate and forces that eddy about this mystical place. Generations of magi here fought the conspiracy and corruption of the Tremere, often with their efforts unrecognised and even suspicion cast upon them. It has led the struggle against the return of the Unnamed House and against the Fells and Christ Brothers who are our enemies. Our Pontifex was instrumental in the invitation of House Ethiopicus, the first Primus to join the table at the Grand Tribunal since Pralix. It is a place that has been attacked by devils and dragons. It is a place that has been guarded by spirits and the kin of giants. It is a place visited by the Kings and Queens of the Fae, by mysterious elementals and even by the old gods.

There has been a change to this place. Petrus tells us that the tides of the magical aura that once swept inwards towards the spring now flow outwards. What has caused this and what does this mean? Is this why the fae, in retreat across so much of Europe, wax in influence here? Is this because a magus of our council sits upon the throne of England and Wales? Here is the seat of the Bard Kings, so the lore says, this little settlement that few outside the Order have heard of. In modern times, the first mortal to wear the crown in centuries was my grandfather Theodosius. His son has gone on to become first High Prince of Wales and now King of England. The power of this shrouded, secretive place is said to stir visions in the sensitive; it is a place where prophesy has come to pass.

Yes, I can palpably feel the weight of history recorded within this tome. Let it be noted for the record, whatever part I am to play within this great tale, that I placed my first mark here with reverence and humility.

Six of us met at dawn upon the first day of spring to discuss the business of the council; Fabius already left for his House meeting at Verdi. The business of allocation of vis for Covenant service and stipend from our monies collected was determined by the Pontifex. Services for the coming year were discussed. For my part I shall scribe spells from our library for the purposes of trade before heading out to my Principality of Powys for the summer and autumn seasons. One of these shall also be considered service. Maximus shall extract vim from the aura as service this season, as there are great demands for this form. As service the Pontifex shall create potions imbued with the Leap of Homecoming. These shall replace ones within the stores as a precaution following the death of his Filius and theft of such a potion last year. My Pater shall be abroad for most of the year, as usual, to attend to the affairs of the State. One of these seasons shall also be considered service. Fabius and Husam shall complete services later in the year.

There was discussion upon some of the strange events which had been witnessed over the Winter: Strange rumbles of thunder in the open sky, dim flames suddenly but briefly roaring into life, the ground quaking in various locations around the Covenant and the unusual size of the Boar Tide. It appears that these may have been caused by some of Lysimachus’ experimentation. He explained that he was involved in creating non-Hermetic spells for the conjuration of Elementals. There was some discussion about the nature of these magical entities. Our Pontifex explained them as spirits of nature clothed in elemental form, though Lysimachus sees them not as spirits but as pure expressions of natural forms. When we have spoken in the past he has described some of the philosopher Aristotle’s meta-physics; that all of nature is some part or combination of earth, air, water and fire. Elementals, in his view, are like pure expressions of this natural law; though he confessed that his understanding of them was far from developed. He agreed to inform the council upon future occasions of his experimentation with them, so we might be prepared for any strange events they might entail.

Thus, with the council ended, we embarked upon our projects for the season. I was not aware of any other events worthy of noting here for the period of spring.

Summer

My pater and Fabius still abroad, five of us met for the summer council. There was little to report at the meeting of the council, save the successful completion of covenant services in spring. Thus we quickly moved on to a discussion our plans for this season. Lysimachus reminded us that we arranged a trade of vis with Carrion Moor (a rook of vis made up of Aquam and Vim for Auram and Corporem). The Pontifex agreed to keep back sufficient quantity of these forms of vis ready for such a atrade. With Astrius’ completion of new potions of the Leap of Homecoming, there was also an audit of which magi and consorts still required replacements. It was established that Husam’s consortis, Vincent, still possessed the old version of the enchantment and that the potions given to the magi of Blackthorn many years ago will need replacing also. In the meantime, Astrius will ensure that the Captain maintains a specific watch over the former apportation point outside the walls.

I shall be abroad in Powys for most of the next two seasons, and one of these shall be counted as covenant service.

(Private journal)

At one point during the meeting there was a rather tetchy exchange between Maximus and the Pontifex. When it came to declaring what Covenant resources might be called upon for private study this season, Astrius told Maximus to be specific about which spell he would be learning from the library. Maximus appeared offended at this instruction; rather grudgingly revealing that he wanted to learn the Sight of Active Magic. Later in the meeting, the Pontifex happened to mention that he would be developing a spell this season. Maximus seized on this and demanded to know what spell he would be developing. Rather bemused, Astrius refused to tell him; reminding the Quaesitor that under the charter Magi must request library resources they wish to use at Council, but otherwise their private study was their own business.

There is clearly some friction between the Hoplite and the Quaesitor. I wonder if this still relates back to events at the village of Cotterley, eight years ago. I have read how much tension there was between the two of them after that fateful investigation. I had thought the argument had been put behind them, but perhaps it has not.


Autumn

With my pater, Fabius and myself abroad at the beginning of Autumn, it was reported to me that the council meeting was uneventful. The Pontifex elected to take on a second season of service this season; extracting vim vis from the aura to ensure we have plentiful supplies of the form.

Early in the season, Magus Tewdric of Ex-Miscellanea approached the Covenant seeking the advice and aid of the Magi Husam and Maximus. It appears that Tewdric, who lives without Covenant in the south of Wales, was having problems with the local Knight who had accused him of being a poacher. Many years before, Tewdric had apparently provided some aid to the Knight’s father and in return had received permission to hunt and fish in the woodlands near to Caerleon. Tewdric had understood that this permission was granted for his lifetime and argued his case when he was discovered on the Knight’s land. The Knight was sceptical of this claim, but was honourable enough to grant him a period of time to present this letter and make his case at court. Tewdric felt it wise to seek some advice before visiting Caerleon to have this case heard.

Unfortunately, an inspection of the document revealed a problem. Technically, the permission it granted lasted only until the death of the previous Knight. Archemagus Astrius had an idea though. He could use illusion magic to change the ending of one of the words so that it would appear as if Tewdic had been granted this permission for his lifetime. It was a simple matter for Astrius to achieve and with this magical forgery completed, Tewdric travelled with Husam and Maximus to present his document to the Knight.

The journey to Caerleon went smoothly, but disaster struck when they arrived at the Knight’s manor and presented the letter. It appears that the Archemagus’ spell may have been overly powerful, for along with the word changed in the document, the seal upon the back of the page had been subtly altered also. When the Knight spotted this, he declared the paper a forgery and ordered Tewdric arrested. In response, Maximus declared that Tewdric was a member of the Hermetic Order of Scholars, but in the absence of a seal to prove his identity the Knight was unmoved. Maximus also revealed that he was a fellow member of this Order and argued this case long with the Knight, offering his word as a Magistrate. I suspect a number of circumstances worked against the Quaestor in this matter. Maximus’ and Tewdric’s gift will have set the Knight on edge even before they spoke. Add to this the fact that the Magistrate had just presented a clever forgery of a legal document and that Tewdric had none of the appearance of a scholar, and one can appreciate why the Knight rejected this claim. Though, there were other aspects to Maximus’ story that served to arouse suspicion. How had a common man like Tewdric such contact with a magistrate in Gloucester? In hindsight, perhaps Maximus should have shown his own seal, marking him as a member of the Order, and said it was Tewdric’s. The lack of this identifying mark alone likely gave the Knight sufficient excuse to dismiss Maximus’ claims and press his charges against Tewdric.

With Tewdric arrested and the Knight utterly resistant to his influence, Maximus was exhausted of ideas. Therefore, come night, it was Husam who sought a less formal resolution to the situation. Together with Tewdric’s apprentice, they left the manor house claiming they were delivering a message for the magistrate. After they left the village, they parted ways; the apprentice seeking a route back to his home, Husam doubling back to rescue Tewdric.

Moving as a bird and then walking unseen, he easily infiltrated the manor house and made his way down to the cell where Tewdric was prisoner. There he was able to slay the gaoler and assist Tewdric’s escape. Tewdric conjured a corpse with his own likeness and managed to dress it in some of his clothing and fit it with his shackles. Having completed this part of the ruse, Tewdric begged Husam to seek out his apprentice and a chest of precious belongings in the woods before the Knight came for them. Husam agreed and Tewdric was able to safely apport back to the Covenant with a potion.

Unfortunately, the next part of the plan proved less simple. Husam destroyed the corpse of the gaoler and took his cloak and cowl. Disguising himself magically to appear like the gaoler and using his knife to stab the conjured corpse, he tried to make it appear as if some fatal argument had broken out in the cell. His intention was to sneak invisibly up through the manor and affect a mundane escape, so that suspicion would fall on the gaoler for Tewdric’s ‘death’. However, as he made his way up into the hall of the manor in order to leave, he discovered that the thick bar sealing the only exit was too heavy to lift silently on his own.

Unable to leave the manor yet also maintain the illusion that the gaoler had made an escape, Husam was trapped there almost until dawn. As the manor began to stir with the coming light, Husam took a bold decision and, having dropped the invisibility enchantment, heaved at the bar across the doors to make his escape. The bar was intended for two men to lift, so he struggled to raise it and the noise roused the sleeping servants in the hall. As Husam, wearing the face and cloak of the gaoler, managed to open the doors, he was grabbed by the Steward and one of the guards. Lifting back the cloak, it appears they caught sight of Husam’s armour and the alarm was raised. Husam was forced to fight, using his unique, fine-pointed blade to mortally wound of one of the guards who had wrestled him to the ground.

As more servant folk and men at arms were rallied, Husam made a desperate bid for freedom; vaulting up and over the manor walls and sprinting headlong across open fields towards a small copse. He was pursued by a number of the household guards and finally the Knight roused to the pursuit, setting after Husam on horseback. Fortunately, my sodalis was able to reach the copse and affect his retreat.

Alas, for all his efforts to escape in the guise of the gaoler, Husam’s plan was undone back at the manor. The Steward had recognised Husam’s armour as that belonging to one of Maximus’ servants who had left after dark. In addition, the strange dagger used to slay the guard was too unusual a design for such a common man to possess. The final nail in the coffin was the fact that gaoler had been lame for many years and incapable of the acrobatic flight from the manor that Husam had been forced to undertake. Thus, the priest of the village suspected that witchcraft had been used to murder Tewdric. Suspicion fell upon Maximus given his gift, the involvement of one of his servants and his announced membership of this mysterious Order of scholars.

Maximus, eventually realising that he would have no authority over an ecclesiastical investigation, beat a hasty retreat at this point. He returned to the Covenant and reported all that had occurred. Husam had managed to rescue the apprentice and a chest of precious ingredients from Tewdric’s sanctum in the woods. But, a letter was apparently being sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury to press for an ecclesiastical investigation of suspected witchcraft. Fortunately, Husam was able to swiftly seek the aid of Thomas DePercy. The Earl had Husam presented to the Bishop wearing bruises evidence of a severe beating and claimed that Maximus’ servants had been assaulted on the road by the King’s enemies. These enemies had stolen Husam’s armour and dagger with the intention of framing the magistrate. Having taken the sacrament in Gloucester, to prove he was a good Christian, Husam returned to the Covenant. Thomas then sent word to Marius of these problems and organised for a letter to arrive at the Archbishop before the one from Caerleon. Thomas has requested that the Church not interfere in the tracking down of these traitors, lest his plans to trap them are undone. With luck this will negate the Priest’s request for an investigation by the Archbishop.

Tewdric will reside at Severn Temple for the time being. Husam will spend the rest of the season assisting the older magus in the preparation of a longevity potion.

Winter

All magi were in attendance for the council of winter. Before any other matters were discussed, the Pontifex raised a disturbing issue that had come to his attention over the course of autumn.

It appears that there are a number of signs which indicate that the magically constructed walls and tower are suffering some mysterious decay. Astrius reported that parts of the battlements were beginning to crumble. Lysimachus claimed he had heard a strange groaning noise, as if something in pain, in various locations around the Covenant and discovered a crack in the ceiling of his Sanctum. Maximus also reported seeing similar damage, a spreading crack upon the staircase. Indeed, there was evidence of this decay even in the council chamber; a fine crack in the stonework of the fireplace.

The walls and tower were conjured long ago by the Archemagus Jolyon. Ordinarily such rituals produce effects which are independent of the person who cast them, but Jolyon has reportedly a unique talent with stone that may defy this precedent. Lysimachus ventured that the sounds he had heard might be evidence of some elemental presence and offered to use his newly developed magics to attempt communication with such an entity. The council agreed and our sodalis used his strange rite to speak with the stone. To my ears there was a crashing din of groaning and creaking from the stone in reply. Lysimachus reported that there was indeed some elemental presence within our tower and that it complained of being in pain as its master weakened and failed. This being cannot tell us what will happen if Jolyon were to die, but the implication was that without this elemental force holding it together, the structures we depend upon might entirely collapse.

The question of Jolyon’s reported disappearance was raised by Maximus. My pater shared his concerns with the council. He said he had been aware that Jolyon had intended to seek out Gofannon, that fae king of the undermountain, in order to break some sort of hold that faerie possesses over him. It was this influence that had caused Jolyon to behave strangely at the King’s Council many years ago and eventually led to the Archemagus stepping down from his seat. Marius announced that he intended to travel to Gofannon’s realm and see what he could learn of Jolyon’s fate. Lysimachus volunteered to accompany him.

The council deliberated at length, but eventually it was proposed that we evacuate the tower over the course of this season. Fabius will transfer his laboratory to the guest house, so that we have at least one working set of equipment we may use. Husam and I shall pack away the libraries and remaining laboratory equipment. The grogs and covenfolk would be moved into tents so that the barracks, space in the armoury and the inn could be used for storage and accommodation for the magi. Astrius felt that this course of action was sufficiently important to put to a formal vote. I will admit I thought such unnecessary as we all appeared to be in agreement, but I was wrong. Every member of the council voted to evacuate the tower save Maximus. His reasons for abstaining in the vote were unclear.

In other news, Marius reported that he had visited the Archbishop towards the end of autumn. It appeared that Thomas’ intervention had been successful and there would be ecclesiastical investigation of the events at Caerleon. Tewdric’s potion had apparently been a success. He will reside over winter with us before seeking a new site for a home in spring.
Finally, Fabius was able to report some success at his House meeting in summer. It appears he obtained the very respectable position of 17th in the competition, beating his rival Voressio. The council were unanimous in their congratulations.

***

I shall record here that the council met informally the next morning to discuss a strange dream had by Maximus. In what he described as a vision, he believed he saw Gofannon offer some title or power to two figures. In one version of the dream he saw a young man take this mantle of power. In this instance the older figure crumbled into dust. In the other version of the dream, the older man took accepted this gift then walked away into shadow. Maximus reported that as he did so, there was a loud sound of cracking from the stone.

We discussed what this vision might portend and who the individuals depicted might be, but there was no change to the intended actions we had proposed at council.

***

It has been a long season’s work, but our decision to evacuate the tower has proven a wise one.

Overnight, towards the very end of the season, we were woken from our beds by the earth quaking and the deafening sounds of our Covenant collapsing. As I emerged I could only see clouds of dust emanating from the ruins of the tower and the walls around us. What was once the great hall was now a pit full of rubble and dust. We gathered as if at a funeral around this pit. There was not much for anyone to say, though a few tried. In the time we’d had, we managed to get the entire magical library and spells into storage, and most of the mundane library safely out. Unfortunately, a number of tomes of mundane lore were still in the tower, as indeed was my pater’s laboratory, and these are lost. However, the destruction of our walls and tower are most grave; weakening our defence and robbing us of our Sancti.

I was relieved when Marius and Lysimachus safely returned on the eve of the Spring council. I wait to hear their full report tomorrow, but it is obvious that they were unable to save Jolyon.

It must feel like the end of an era for some of my sodales; those who spent so much of their lives within the structures we have lost or knew Jolyon well. I fear it may take a long time until we feel secure once again in our home. Let us hope it is not too long.
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