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Scribed by Husam

Spring 1238 AD


There were but five of us in attendance on the first council meeting of this new year, Urbanus still abroad ensuring that the politic of the realm was maintained despite the absence of the King. The empty seat where Marius once sat stood well enough as a reminder of the times we live in; the dangers we face within the Order of the Hermes as well as without. The mood of the magi here remains subdued and we found little enough to discuss, the renewed vigour and looking to the future that the end of the cold months of winter usually brings remaining as absent as our former sodalis.

Fabius announced that he would be abroad for the year as he returns to the covenant within Loch Leglean that he was apprenticed to share his new insights with his pater. Maximus also stated that he would be away from the covenant, though for one season rather than four, as he was making travel to Blackthorn to copy some spells from their library. He suggested also that it might be worth offering the sap from the great Oak in Mynydd Myddyn in trade to the Praeca, given that we understand that beyond the vis within it there is also some effect that can greatly benefit the preparation of herbal potions. The council was happy enough to agree to this. We also made question of Sergeant Connell concerning the Irish names that I had learned within Bristol. The name of the ship, Ain Fean, is not unusual, meaning 'Sea Traveller' in their tongue. The name of its passenger however, Scathach, is less common however, being an old name not used in these times. The Sergeant wondered whether it might originate from the wild folk of the hills and forests within that country. There may yet come a time when the task that I have been set to ensure Bristol remains free of the Black Knives takes me further abroad.

This season however I had determined to spend some time in that city before travelling to the south west to seek out the magical site at Glastonbury. I took Constantius as companion, for with the death of Fulke a year ago he now takes that daily lead in the operation of our spying activities and I felt it would be useful to introduce him to De Percy and some of our contacts within Bristol. There was a joyous surprise for me as I arrived at Gloucester Castle however for Marius was in attendance there, newly returned from The Rhine tribunal. We spoke briefly before he returned for a short time to the covenant and he seemed in good enough spirit despite the wrong that had been done to him. De Percy had also learned that the letter sent from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Cardinal that was used in evidence against Marius may have been forged by a monk of Tintern. There was also little evidence that the inquisitor that had been sent to these isles had made any attempt to contact the Pope and suspicion is rising that there never was such a man, that this may have been a plot against Marius directly, driven from those Pious Magi that we know are still within the Order. De Percy has sent two of his Knights to Rome to see whether they can learn more of this matter. De Percy was also able to tell me that he has a man within the court of Dublin should I need to travel to that city.

After a few nights within Gloucester myself and Constantius continued on to Bristol. Our consors chose to take the name of Stanley for his dealings within the city and I introduced him to De Percy's agents as well as the staff within the Waggoner’s Rest. Girardinho had some news for me as it seems that Captain Martin of the watch has died following his short illness. While such is not uncommon I am still unsure as to the precise role that man had to play in the affairs of the Black Knives and so I bade him to see if he could learn where the man's grave lies. He will also continue to see whether he can learn more about the Ain Fean and its crew.

We were in Bristol for perhaps two weeks before we set off on the road to Glastonbury. While I had not travelled there before it was easy enough to find, a small village separated by a small but ancient wood from a large marsh, out of which rises the strange tor upon which Tiarnan's notes indicated that the chapel could be found. Constantius had advised me that the faerie hold him in some particular enmity and so I bade him remain in the village while I continued the journey. The marsh seemed greatly treacherous so I flew across it and there using a tincture that had been crafted by Constantius, and generously offered for my use, I was able to determine the boundary to the regio. Crossing it I made my way up the steep slopes of the hill and as I reached the top saw the stone tower that has something of the appearance of a chapel. While my knowledge of the history of this land is not to be measured at so great a level as an academic of the King's College I have a little such learning and was able to identify that the style of the building was of the people who lived here before the Roman conquest.

Entering through the door I was initially alone with the small building until the sound of hooves heralded the arrival of the fae knight Sir Maurice. He challenged me and I identified myself as a servant of the king, presenting the symbol I was carrying with me. There was some small moment of difficulty when he first asked me my name and I gave him one my aliases, he swiftly detecting the lie and his ire raised, but I was able to give him my real name and explain away the falsehood. I took a fair portion of the moss being careful to leave the majority while the faerie questioned me as to the well being of the King. He seemed aware that something was wrong and I agreed to let Marius know that Maurice wished to know what and whether there was ought he could do. With that I took my leave and headed down the hill, once more using the tincture to identify my path. This time however something went awry as I crossed the boundary and I suddenly found myself in the middle of a marsh far greater than that which appeared when first I had arrived, surrounded by a thick mist. Of the tor there was no sign and from the dark waters there rose occasional trees, but stunted and stripped of leaf. As I sought an exit I took to the air and landed upon one of the trees, but its moans and movements swiftly disabused me of the wisdom of this plan. After many hours I had found no sign of a path to safety and was lost from where I had first entered. As sleep began to come upon me I cast an enchantment to ensure that I would not sink beneath the waters and despite my best efforts eventually succumbed to slumber.

I awoke I know not when and found myself upon a stone floor within a lightless room. I was bound by a cord seemingly made of thin silver wires but resistant to the spells I cast upon it to free myself. For some time all I heard was the occasional faint sound of footsteps from beyond my cell but eventually I discovered that I was not alone. Another prisoner, a faerie of some type I believe, named himself as Briar and said that we were in the Fortress of the Dark Waters, guests of the Queen of that place. He told me that the cord I was bound in was woven from the Queen's hair and was resistant to enchantments.

I can not deny that I was concerned about my position, I know little of the fae and what I do know I do not much care for, but fortunately for me Constantius had come looking for me after I had not returned for three days. He had reached the marsh when he became stuck and spied some large serpent within the waters. He took a Leap of Homecoming potion and made report to the covenant. Lysimachus determined that he would ensure that I was safe and taking as a guide Renwick's amica, Blanche, he and Constantius returned to Glastonbury some two weeks after I had vanished. As they stayed there overnight Blanche had a vision of a dark marsh within mists and rising out of it a castle with slate stone walls covered by black moss, creepers and other plants. At the doorway was a serpent coiled in front with its eyes closed. As it slumbered a silver net fell upon it. She successfully interpreted this vision to mean that I was trapped in a regio far from the mortal world.

Travelling to the marsh with Constantius my sodalis was able to confirm that my journey to the tor had been in one direction only by communing with the mists of the place. He then crossed the marsh but was attacked by the serpent upon the way. While he was able to cast fire against it the creature overwhelmed him and rendered him insensible and it was Constantius that managed to drive the creature off. As they made their exit they were attacked again and eventually the creature was slain. After a night's rest in the village the two returned and successfully reached the tor whereupon they spoke with Sir Maurice, although only after he had banished Constantius as a thief and knave. Hearing the vision the knight agreed to take Lysimachus to the castle and aid him in my recovery, for was I not the King's man. They rode for many hours and through a dark knight before arriving at the castle. There Sir Maurice was able to distract the guards at the front of the castle while Lysimachus infiltrated elsewhere. My sodalis was able to best those who stood against him and eventually recovered both me and my possessions that had been locked in a strongroom. He was aided in the latter endeavour by Briar who bargained his help for his freedom. Still bound I was placed upon the Knight's steed and with Lysimachus borne back across the marsh where eventually Constantius was able to remove my bonds with the touch of an iron horseshoe, although not before Sir Maurice made it clear that if he saw him again he would slay him. Somewhat chastened by my experience I returned to the covenant with my companions, calling upon the way with Renwick to ensure that he was well.

Summer

After relating the tale of my experiences in Glastonbury Maximus brought us troubling news. While he was was scribing in the libraries at Blackthorn over spring he was asked to attend upon his pater and the Magus Fergus of Narwold. Fergus reported that a sack had been thrown into the well of a nearby covenant village containing the head of the renounced Magus Arcturus. With it was a note that read, 'we return the traitor to you'. Investigations were made upon the head and detected some non-hermetic enchantment upon it, perhaps with an effect similar to Rego. Fergus believed that Arcturus' spirit had been banished or bound in some way as nothing more could be learned save that the head was real and not a construct. Maximus told us he had received a vision on the matter . He had seen a black hound, which he believed to be Arcturus, with a red forked tongue. The hound moved between pillars of stone, perhaps reminiscent of a temple, sniffing at the base of each pillar before picking up a trail of some kind. The beast followed the scent but then appeared to be afraid. Maximus saw three riders and the hound fled to a ravine, hiding in the deep shadow. They were three monks and they raise swords bringing forth a light. The hound growled at them and then the shadows around it attacked them. The men cut the shadows down and the hound then leapt at them, but they pointed their swords in unison, as if in judgement, and it was frozen. Then one of the men, grey haired and with a hawk like nose, walked forward and severed the beasts head. Maximus said that he had seen the symbol of a bird on the pillars which might represent a specific place. He believed the shadows represented infernal forces and the swords might be symbolic of magic or justice. The monks were wearing white robes, perhaps indicating they were truly divine or maybe something as prosaic as the order they belonged to. Maximus said that he intended to investigate whether he could learn where the place in his dreams might lie and it was suggested that perhaps he could ask a scholar at the King's College if the symbol of the bird had any meaning. He also stated that he might ask Magus Arcanus who is well studied in ancient mysteries.

Just two weeks later we were summoned to an emergency council called by Maximus who had returned using a Leap of Homecoming potion from King's College and was in a state of some panic. Fortified with some wine, and no small amount of food, he was able to relate his tale. He had been making his investigations in the library of the college and one night, accompanied only by Phillipe, another master had introduced himself as an expert in ancient Roman settlements. He identified the symbol that Maximus was looking for as a representation of a swallow and mentioned a place that was on top of a cliff. He then said that it was the site of a covenant of House Diedne that had been destroyed in the Schism War. Concerned as to the nature of the conversation Maximus called Phillipe over but as Lysimachus' consors walked across the library the master threw back his hood to reveal two small horns protruding from his head. It was at this point that Maximus had returned to the covenant. It seemed immediately likely that this was the Demon that Lysimachus has encountered on several occasions. Maximus attempted to draw the symbol that had been under discussion but his hand was trembling so greatly that it was a poor representation.

Astrius then told us that the site that had been discussed was the covenant of Swallowcliff, the covenant at the heart of the events that led to the fall of the Liches within House Tremere. As he discussed the tale he also revealed that our own covenant was built on the site of a Roman temple, and that he believed that the Romans may have built many such places on sites of druidic power. He also told us that the lantern that had revealed the fallen Tremere had been crafted by magi of the Un-named House.

Concerned as to the well-being of Phillipe I agreed to travel swiftly to Gloucester and see what the situation was. It was an easy enough matter to fly there in the form of an owl and bearing a note written by Lysimachus as Chancellor of that place I was able to gain entry and find his consors safely within his own chambers. Phillipe said that he was fine, seemingly having no knowledge of the demonic nature of the so called Master. Indeed he believed that the man was a Master of the college although he could not remember his name. I advised him to stay away from the library for the timebeing and went to speak with Maximus' consors Duncan who had it seems been forbidden from accompanying Maximus to the library due to his countenance. Told that the Quaesitor was safe at the covenant he said that he would gather the other grogs and return to Severn Temple.

A few days later Lysimachus told us that he had made a brief visit to Gloucester and that Phillipe had now realised that he had met a demon. The book which Maximus had been studying from when he encountered the creature could not be found anywhere within the library but Phillipe had taken some notes which included a history of Roman shrines built on pagan temples. There were directions to five such locations, all of which were marked with a Swallow, revealed as a symbol of the Cult of Mercury. One such site lay on the road between Salisbury and Shaftesbury and we believe this to be Swallowcliff. Another lies between Cirencester and Oxford and we wondered whether this might be the sight where we had encountered the Demon summoned by Benedict. The third site lay between Hastings and Sevenoaks and the fourth to the west of Kidderminster in Wales. While we knew nothing of the former Astrius believed the latter might be another lost covenant of the Un-named House. The final site was south of Licoln near Oakham, leading us to wonder if it might be the site that Oakham Vale covenant is now built upon. We discussed these mysteries at great length and how it might relate to Arcturus and the Brothers in Christ. Astrius told us that within Arcturus' sanctum had been found a number of diabolic texts but that Magus' plottings were so convoluted that I wonder if we shall ever truly understand what his cause was. In the end Maximus decided that he would cease his investigations. Lysimachus asked him if he intended to send a missive to Holy Isle but Astrius said he believed that there was no new information here. Maximus said that he would report it to the Senior Quaesitor and be bound by his judgement.

The following day we were paid visit by the Redcap Alanus. He told us that the next Symposium at Blackthorn has been moved from the summer of 1240 to 1242 to avoid clashing with the tribunal. He also reported that Nora of Cad Gadu and a member of his own House had died of old age. He had more news of the non-magical sphere with reports that the Mongol horde to the far east had invaded the lands of the Rus and taken a city called Vladmir in a devastating defeat for the defending forces. The Dominican order has founded a new monastery, the Black Abbey, in Hibernia a short way out of Dublin. Given the difficult politics in that tribunal magi have been advised to avoid it. James I of Aragon has taken Valencia from the Berbers who are now left with a weak hold in Granada and Frederick has persuaded his princes to help him crush a rebellion in Lombardy despite the objections of the Pope. Frederick has also granted his son and heir, a 9 year old called Conrad, the title of 'King of the Romans'.

Following the early activity of the season the rest of summer passed without event save for the return of Urbanus and Maximus receiving visit from Luvidicus.

Autumn

Urbanus told us that he had spent the majority of the last year and a half with the English armies fortifying the borders with France on the mainland of Europe. There is no open war but almost continual skirmishing along the frontier and Marius is now abroad attempting to strike a treaty with the French King. Maximus then made a curious statement that he should make no further investigation of the matters of the previous season due to Luvidicus' belief that because of the source of the information then he might expose himself to a charge of dealing with demons and at the very least damage his reputation. There was some surprise at this interpretation of the code but given the events of the Grand Tribunal who can truly understand what is permitted and what forbidden. Maximus also told us that he had been appointed as an assistant to Quaesitor Lucius on the embassy to the Order of Suleyman. He will no doubt travel there with Astrius who bears the role of Hoplite on that journey

There was no news to report over the course of the season.

Winter

Astrius told us that thanks to the rituals performed by Cairwyn around the spring it had once more given yield to Corporem vis at the autumn equinox. He also advised us that the harvest had been poorer than usual but it was not of sufficient nature to greatly impact us. Given the events within King's College there was some discussion as to whether De Percy might have a spy in that place that could give us notice of nay further disturbances caused by the demon that seems to frequent the place. Urbanus said he will speak on the matter and offer Phillipe as a contact should it be necessary.

It was a rare winter with three of us abroad from the covenant. Urbanus had travelled to court in London and Lysimachus spent his time in King's College, no doubt concerned by the recent difficulties there. I travelled to Bristol and spent the season at the Waggoner's Rest which now seems to be making secure coin for the covenant as well as being a place to stay and a source of rumour. I was informed that the Ain Fean had been in port in early summer and that it is a mid-size cog. The captain is said to be a hard taskmaster and his crew were kept abroad throughout. They had taken English wool aboard but Girardinho was unable to secure the task of loading on this occasion. He is optimistic that he will be able to ensure such in future however.
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