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Scribed by Husam

Spring 1233 AD

I was drawn to this tribunal by the vision of a seer from my homeland and when I relayed that vision to the former Prima of my House, Amanita, she believed that the destiny it related to should lead me to membership of Severn Temple. This place is steeped in mystical energies; entities of significant power abound in the vicinity and seem drawn to the mortal world to a greater extent here than in many other places. Some here revere the entities with something akin to religious devotion and while that is a path that I shall never follow I find more and more that they are worthy of my respect. The events of this season have served only to reinforce my burgeoning understanding that I am at the heart of something important and that whatever my fate is this is the place that I belong.

As the season began the mood amongst all who reside within the covenant was sombre, for while our swift action over the last season meant that the collapse of the tower and walls cost no life and only limited damage to our magical and scholarly resources, the destruction seemed so immense that is was hard to imagine how the covenant could recover in anything less than many years of hard toil. We met within the tavern, an improvised council chamber that reflected the difficult living conditions of the last few weeks, worse for the covenfolk than for we magi. The council began with Marius and Lysimachas relating the events from deep within Gofannon’s realm whence they had ventured in their search for Archimagus Jolyon. The faerie regio through which they ventured is still in the grip of winter and it was difficult going to reach the cave of the fae stonesmith, Gofynwy, where lies the path to the undermountain realm. At least it seems that our relations with the denizens of that realm remain fair for they were not molested upon the way, spying nothing more than two of the Erechwydd’s minions during their journey. Gofynwy agreed to lead them upon the path although one of the grogs, Ecgbert, had to be persuaded to relinquish an iron nail that he bore upon him before he could accompany them.

Within the deep halls they were granted audience with Gofannon and he revealed that Jolyon indeed resided with him. The Archimagus was extremely weak and frail and it took them some time to learn of the fate that had befallen him. He related to my sodales the tale of his youth and how he had struck bargain with Gofannon for a gift, the Song of Stone through which his great affinity with Terram magic bloomed. There was a price to the gift however, a link between him and Gofannon that allowed the faerie to work his will upon the magus, which had been demonstrated at the King’s Council where the decision was reached that Marius would strike for the throne of England. Jolyon had determined that he could no longer place himself in such thrall and had ventured to the undermountain and returned the gift, but this act had broken his gift leading to the deterioration in our buildings as well as his own health. Gofannon was willing to return the gift to him but to accept it once more would mean that the Archimagus would become a faerie himself, the same fate as the former magus of this covenant Turold. This would break the link entirely with our realm and his works would crumble and fail. If he did not accept the gift however he would die and the same result would befall unless another took the gift and maintained Gofannon’s link with our realm. The offer was made to Lysimachas but he declined, unwilling to allow himself to be a pawn of the faerie and determined that he would make his own way in his magical pursuits. With his decision made Jolyon said that his choice was simple and he once more took Gofannon’s gift, changing before my sodales as his humanity passed from him.

While the effect of the events within that realm was clearly apparent from beyond the windows of the tavern I do not believe that any here felt that Lysimachas had followed the wrong course and no blame should be apportioned to him. My sodales believed that it was probable that the tower and walls had actually been an elemental of some type, perhaps explaining the magical resistance that Archimagus Petrus once identified. Marius expressed concern as to what fate may have befallen other covenants where Jolyon had worked such enchantments, such as Holy Isle and Borri Tor, and he resolved that he would travel to them and offer any assistance that he might, perhaps chagrined that none had thought to warn them when our own suspicions first surfaced.

Our attention turned to the best course of action for us to follow in terms of restoring the covenant and perhaps something of the bleak mood that had been prevalent lessened as we turned our mind to practical matters. We agreed that large scale building works, supported by the ample resources that Marius has access to, had too many implications for the aura and our position in society to be pursued further. We determined that we would import wood, to avoid any damage to the forest, and build a wooden stockade and some wooden huts to act as laboratories with the view that we could undertake long term work to replace them with stone in the future; a small number of men from Blackney and Lydney would be able to fulfil such tasks over the course of the year. In the meantime the laboratory that Fabius had set up within the guest rooms would be shared amongst magi as required.

At that point the council was interrupted by the arrival of Captain Gilbert who reported that the forest seemed to be moving. Astrius swiftly suspended the meeting as we headed to the west of the covenant grounds, strange cracking and creaking sounds clearly audible even within the atmosphere of silence that pervades Severn Temple. Astrius took to the skies and reported that he could see a number of trees moving towards us. Unsure as to the cause of this we readied ourselves for attack but as the first oak trees came close it quickly became clear that they had a different purpose. Drawing themselves near to the edge of the aegis they started to form a wall, pressing close to one another and entwining their branches. As time passed more arrived from other directions and a circle formed around the covenant, eventually encompassing us save for a gap in the direction of the spring. Several days later we discovered that this gap was invisible to those outside who were not of the covenant, much as the groves around the Heart of the Forest or the Summer Glade within the faerie regio. Astrius spoke with the Anu who told him that all within the grove would be hidden from those outside unless invited within although we should not seek to place a gate in the gap for this would break the enchantment. The oak trees were those that had been planted from the acorns that many of the magi had been planting for many years since the Anu first gifted them to the magi of the covenant. I must confess to a feeling of regret that I had not planted a single acorn myself and I resolved there and then that I would tithe one half of the acorns that I receive in the future.

I have pressed forward in time somewhat in this account and I must relate the remainder of our council meeting, taking place even as the trees were still gathering around the covenant. Emboldened by what was occurring the suggestion was made that perhaps we should seek to use the ritual ‘Conjuring the mystic tower’, that lay within the library, to more swiftly restore our condition. While a dangerous task to cast such an enchantment from text Astrius indicated that he was willing and we agreed to a man to follow this course of action. The council was suspended once more and several days were spent agreeing the internal layout of such a tower, which would have eight storeys above the ground and two below. We chose the location of our own sancti within in order of the length of service that we had given to the covenant, myself happy to take the topmost level. On the day of the casting the covenfolk and all the magi save for Astrius and Lysimachas, who had agreed to assist with the handling of the written ritual, retired to a safe distance. The ritual itself took more than half the daylight hours to cast but the Pontifex’s art was sufficient and with a great shuddering in the earth the tower rose, the single piece of the granite shining with the soft starlight that is Astrius’ sigil.

Once more we met and agreed that Urbanus would visit Powys and there source wood for the furnishings for our new tower. The glassworks would be set to replacing Marius’ laboratory equipment that had been destroyed when the former tower collapsed. The only other matter that was discussed was Marius’ request that he be allowed to build a small manor in Lydney to act as a hunting lodge to help explain the time he spent away from his court in this region, a request that was granted. The remainder of the season passed without event, all the magi remaining within the covenant re-establishing their laboratories save Lysimachus who oversaw the restocking of the library as a covenant service.

Summer

Marius was not present at the council but had sent word to Urbanus who reported that Holy Isle had suffered no destruction, Prima Amanita having insisted that only hermetic art be used in the raising of the covenant. Borri Tor had not been so fortunate but like us they had seen the cracking in their keep and made arrangements to evacuate it. No word had been received from Lear Valley but it is likely that they will have lost the stone buildings that Jolyon had raised there. Astrius told us that he had spent some time in the forest and that not all the trees planted had formed the wall around us, those set to watch the infernal dell still in place along with many others scattered throughout the Dean. We will place walkways within the trees that surround the covenant, and Astrius told us that we could use nails as long as we restricted such to the branches and not the trunks. Maximus agreed that he would learn a spell to converse with trees to see although such would be delayed until he had finished assisting Fabius in the manufacture of his own longevity potion.

I travelled to Bristol to continue my efforts against the Black Knives. There I learned that Vincent had been visited by Lambert himself in the latter days of spring. He described him as a man in the early years of his fifth decade on earth, thin and with a pale pallor although sporting a black beard tinged with grey. He said that his hand was cold to the touch as they greeted. Lambert spoke with Vincent, entirely in French, concerning his desire for Vincent to pass on any useful information that might come into his possession relating to such things as merchant dealings and the clergy, particularly news about the Bishop’s aide. He said that he was now the sole leader of the Black Knives within Bristol and good intelligence would result in a lessening of the tax that he was levying upon the business. He also boasted of his influence within the watch and it seems that rumours abound that any complaint about the Black Knives is lost with no investigation ever undertaken.

Over the course of the season I took the opportunity to follow the collection of the extortion, made by the same three men on each occasion and appearing to follow an established route. I eventually established that they met a man in the upper rooms of a tavern called The Dog Rose, found in a slightly poorer area of town a little way from the market square. Of the three only one remained for any length of time and sadly he was bald so I was unable to take a hair as an arcane connection although I took one from one of the other men. On the third occasion I was able to linger within the tavern sufficiently long to observe the man they were meeting. He was tall and slim, dressed like a skilled artisan but with distinct eyes with irises that were almost black. It was clear that there was a financial arrangement with the tavern keeper but I was unable to determine where they left to afterwards.

Autumn

As expected Marius was still abroad when we met as a council but all others were present. I related the events of last season that I have recorded in the journal and it was agreed that we would use the scrying mirror to see whether we could learn anything more of the man that they were meeting, our suspicions being that he is a disciple of Lambert’s. Little else was discussed save Lysimachas announcing that he was travelling to Carrion Moor to attend a meeting of magi within the tribunal with an interest in the philosophy and magic theory. Fabius asked whether he might accompany him and Lysimachus was happy for him to.

Constantius and Fulke spent several days watching the Black Knives that I had taken arcane connection to and eventually they made their way to the tavern once more. I observed them myself in the room upstairs, a surprisingly comfortable appointed room for such a tavern, and witnessed them counting money with the other man keeping a tally of the takings. Eventually he dismissed all the men save the leader of the trio and I was unable to learn anything more. On my next visit it is clear that I will need to find some way of taking an arcane connection from within the room itself.

Winter

Marius had returned to the covenant so we met as a full council once again. As ever he brought news of events within his realm. The Prince of Gwynedd had been involved in a short conflict with one of the Marcher Barons and while he hoped that this would not spread further he warned us to take great care if travelling in the region of Cad Gadu, Shrewsbury and Chester. We were also informed that Pope Gregory has formally established the Holy Inquisition to root out the Cathar heresy, a sect that preaches the virtues of poverty, using members of the Dominican order to lead it. Lysimachus told us that his mater has extensive contacts within the Cathars, who are most widely found in the Pyrenees mountains, and that they are well defended with strong fortifications. It thus seems likely that the inquisition will be supported with military forces. Our great concern is that the Pope will not stop with those Cathars, but may eventually turn his attention to other targets, the Order being an obvious threat to these zealot Christians. There is also the fear that the Brothers in Christ gain some sway within the inquisition. While the monks of Tintern Abbey are of the Cistercian order rather than the Dominican we are not certain if their sect is limited to that first order. Marius and Urbanus are spending winter in London meeting with the Barons so they will keep an ear out for further information on this matter.

The season was largely peaceful, those of us within all occupied with personal projects save for Maximus who spent his time making researches into the trees that now guard this covenant. The only notable event that occurred followed reports that a number of the covenfolk had been recovering from injuries at a surprisingly rapid rate since the start of this year. We were able to detect that the covenant is now subject to a non-Hermetic magical effect that is similar to Creo Corporem. Our suspicion is that the triple goddess of the pagan faith may have gained more influence over this place with the forming of the grove that surrounds us. And so my year recording our history has ended much as it started, with the powerful spirits that surround us providing us with mystical gifts. While cautious I hope that this bodes well for our future.
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