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Scribed by Lysimachus

Spring 1241 AD


We met as a full council on the first day of spring. I began by recounting the tale of our trip to the caves beneath Mynydd Myddyn in winter. The journey to the regio had been peaceful enough, though we once again spied the strange green and blue lights flickering periodically in the sky above the mountains. Nyal claimed that the rhythm of their appearance had become slightly more frequent than during previous trips, though if this was the case, the change was subtle enough that I would not have noticed without his guidance. We entered the region via the white stones, and Astrius conjured a heavy fog to obscure our passage across the open ground as protection against the wyvern that sometimes patrols the skies. We journeyed together as a single group as far as the cave mouth, before Astrius, Nyal and Cairwyn departed for the circle of standing stones that lies at the top of the hill close to the Awakened Forest.

Husam, Constantius and I made our way into the caves, leaving Osmer at the campsite by the cave mouth. Our primary goal was to explore more of the sulphurous cavern close to where we previously encountered what we believe to be an infernal serpent, so we eschewed the longer route via the lime formations and proceeded directly to the cavern with the underground river where the mercurial silver can be found. Although this was a much shorter route, it meant navigating the steep cliff that lies next to the underground river. Husam made the initial, daring descent using a rope ladder, but he slipped briefly into the freezing water. We did not pay this incident much heed at the time, but in retrospect I do not think Husam fully recovered from the chill, which made our subsequent exploration more dangerous. We ventured further along the narrow passageways leading from the chamber and eventually arrived at the sulphurous cavern. We determined to explore its full extent, which was initially hidden by thick clouds of smoke and haze, and we wound our way deeper through a maze of stalagmites. The temperature rose considerably as we travelled, and it reached a stifling level as we arrived at a wall of formerly molten rock honeycombed with small shafts on the far end of the cavern.

There was no prospect of travelling further, so we made to leave the place, though not before we spied a large black serpent lurking behind one of the stalagmites. Although we proceeded with extreme caution, the serpent attacked as we passed close to that spot, and it managed to bite deep into my shoulder. Fortunately, Husam was able to destroy it quickly using a device enchanted with the Demon’s Eternal Oblivion, though not before I had been affected by some of its venom. Knowing just how dangerous this could be, Husam bade me lower my Parma Magica so that he could use Alleviate the Serpent’s Bite to neutralise the venom, but to my alarm he fell unconscious before he completed the spell, presumably much weakened by both the chill of the freezing water and then the stifling heat of the sulphur fumes.

Constantius was able to lift Husam’s prone body over his shoulder, and we made our way slowly out of the cavern. I could see that the exertion was wearing him down, but we had almost reached the chamber with the underground river when I spotted another of the infernal serpents rapidly slithering towards us. I used the diamond-tipped wand to erect a Circular Ward Against Demons, and as the creature tried ineffectually to breach the circle, used a powder containing the Demon’s Eternal Oblivion to destroy it. However, this triumph was short lived, for Constantius had barely managed to carry Husam a few steps further when he also collapsed unconscious from the effort. Given the prospect of further attacks from infernal serpents, I was unwilling to leave either one of them alone while I carried the other to safety, but I managed to summon and small earth elemental that was able to lift Constantius while I carried Husam. We finally reached the chamber of the underground river, where it was safe for us to rest long enough to recover. Recognising how fortunate we had been, we made our way out of the caves, though not before we encountered Osmer lurking in the entranceway, for he had spotted a member of Myddyn’s Brood in the forest close to the campsite. It had evidently also seen him, for as we travelled out of the regio, we found it had set a snare to trap him, though this was disarmed easily enough.

As we camped outside the regio, we encountered Astrius, Nyal and Cairwyn, who had returned from their journey to the standing stones. The stones themselves had appeared undisturbed, with no signs of the ritual summoning practices. Cairwyn had then conducted a druidic ritual to summon the Morrigan spirit, who told the group that the lights in the sky did indeed presage the arrival of a great dragon from the magical realm. The spirit cautioned that the might of this entity exceeded those of previous dragons that our predecessors at Severn Temple had encountered. She claimed that the creature represented a primordial force of nature that was older than her and all but the eldest of the faerie lords, and I could see that Astrius regarded this as a matter of great import. She advised the group to look to the past – most obviously to the creation of Mynydd Myddyn itself - for the reasons for the dragon’s journey.

The council debated how best to pursue the matter of the dragon. Given previous indications that its journey related to something deep underground, we considered whether to approach the faerie king Gofannon, though Astrius seemed reluctant to trust him. Eventually, we decided to mount a further expedition to Mynydd Myddyn later in the year to see whether Cairwyn’s former master recalled anything of the origin myths of the regio. Maximus also agreed to conduct a divination on the matter.

Aeddan then raised the issue that, under the terms of the agreement made of at the Grand Tribunal, he must step down as king within three years. He explained that he saw three options open to him. First, he could step down and name the Earl of York as his successor. The Earl is apparently a venal but not overly religious man, and Aeddan noted that Gofannon’s previous hold over him might have lapsed as the Earl’s faerie wife had disappeared several years ago. De Percy’s influence would probably diminish considerably, as he is viewed by the Earl as being too close to Aeddan, and the Welsh would be displeased, but they could be made to accept the situation. Second, Aeddan could step down in favour of Urbanus. We debated how great a risk this posed to Urbanus’ safety, as none of us wished him to suffer the same penalties as Aeddan. Estimating the likely reaction of the Grand Tribunal was an exercise fraught with difficulty, though one concern that was raised was whether the inexorable advance of the Mongols would cause that body to become even more conservative and risk averse. A further issue if this option is chosen is whether Aeddan would also pass the crown of Math to Urbanus, or whether he would retain it. Third and finally, Primus Jerbiton could withdraw the status of amicus from Aeddan, allowing him to retain the English crown, as he would no longer be subject to the rulings of the Grand Tribunal. Aeddan indicated that this was his least favourite option. The council agreed to consider the matter in advance of the deadline, and Aeddan made it clear that, though he would listen carefully to our advice, the decision would be his alone.

The final issue of substance discussed at the council meeting was the plan to capture William, one of the Brothers In Christ sect, at midsummer. After considering the issue over winter, Maximus agreed to meet William in Gloucester cathedral so that he could be identified by De Percy’s agents. I am sure that this decision took much soul searching, for Maximus clearly wished to explore every avenue to reach a peaceful accommodation with the monks, but in the end he accepted that such an outcome was not a realistic possibility. Fabius was commissioned to construct an item to that could remove a hair from William to use as an arcane connection, and Constantius was set to spend the season in Gloucester liaising with De Percy’s men, who would be stationed at the entrances to the city, the cathedral itself and along the river. Although our plan is not fool proof, we believe that we have a good chance of catching the monk next season, which should allow us to find out more about the sect’s operations.

During the night following the council meeting, Maximus conducted a divination on the reasons for the dragon’s journey from the magic realm. He told us that he saw a man dressed as a druid trace the shape of a dragon on what we believe was Mynydd’s Stone and assume that form. The dragon flew then undertook a great journey across the sky before the vision shifted to a hand lifting a smooth black stone from its resting place deep underneath a great mountain. This was followed by a crack of lightning, and the dragon fled from the place pursued by a second dragon, far greater in power than the first. The vision shifted again to show Roman soldiers marching west, at which point there was a tearing sound, almost as cloth was being ripped into two, perhaps signifying Mynydd Myddyn being moved through a regio boundary closer to the magical realm. Finally, Maximus saw the druid as an older man, bearing a bronze sword rather than his previous sickle, entering a crystal cave beneath the earth to meet a woman. Whether the vision is true or not, its interpretation seemed relatively straightforward, as it suggested that a druid, perhaps the Mynydd of legend, had stolen an item from a powerful dragon, which he had used to seal Mynydd Myddyn away from the mundane world. The implication is that the dragon wishes the item returned and now travels to the regio to retrieve it. To avoid any accompanying destruction, we resolved to try to find the item first, so that it might be taken as far away as possible, though this will no doubt prove rather easier said than done. Astrius agreed to take this news to Blackthorn, which lies close to the regio, and also consult with McKeidh and Cerdic of Holy Isle, who may have further insight to bring on the matter.

Towards the end of the season, Alannus the redcap arrived with news of the wider world. Boniface of Savoy has been appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, but he has indicated that he has no intention of travelling to England, preferring to minister to his flock from afar. The city of Krakow has been ravaged by the Mongols, who defeated a Polish army that included many knights of the Rhine. Further south, King Bela IV of Hungary also suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of a second Mongol force. In Rome, Goffredo Castiglioni has become the new Pope, taking the name Celestine IV. It is unknown whether he will continue his predecessor’s conflicts with the Emperor. The situation in the Levant remains confused, with disputes between the crusader leaders and a disorganised campaign against the Saracens. The crusaders did manage to loot a rich caravan of supplies that had been headed to Damascus, moving to intercept a relief force sent by the Egyptians. In Hermetic news, Serentea of Cad Gadu has become an Archimaga, having achieved a challenge set by a former Archimagus of her House.

[Lysimachus’ private journal: At the end of the season, I witnessed an intriguing encounter between Maximus and Husam in the library. Maximus issued what I took to be a sincere if stilted apology for pursuing an investigation into Husam based on unreliable evidence. Husam used the opportunity to give him a short but pointed lecture on the need for the Quaesitori to investigate only where there has been a formal accusation, rather than relying on hearsay. I do not know the substance of the matter under investigation, but it cannot have improved the relationship between the two, which was already rather difficult. This event was symptomatic of a wider fracture in the council, for Husam, Astrius and Urbanus are openly contemptuous of what they see as the overt politicisation of House Guernicus, and I worry that they see Maximus as an instrument of its current Primus. I hope all sides will take steps to ensure that such disagreements do not become further entrenched.]

Summer

All save Aeddan were present at the summer council. The meeting was dominated by a discussion of the plan to seize Brother William, and we spent several hours considering whether it contained any flaws and how we would react to unexpected events. At length, we agreed that we had taken all reasonable steps, and we wished those who were most likely to be directly involved the best of luck.

The only other matter of note discussed at the council was Fabius’ announcement that the Boar Tide had produced only two, rather than the usual three, pawns of Rego vis at the spring equinox. We had no explanation for the reduction in its potency, so Fabius and I agreed to examine the tide in detail at the summer solstice.

The abduction of Brother William included several unexpected twists and turns but eventually resulted in great success. Maximus met William at the appointed hour and immediately, to his subsequent surprise, began to confess the details of the plan to capture the monk. William appeared to accept the betrayal without rancour, and he pressed Maximus to stab him in chest to spare him the torments of an interrogation. Maximus refused, even when William grabbed him to prevent him leaving, but he eventually agreed, at William’s request, to lower his Parma Magica so that it would not shield him from the divine atmosphere of the cathedral. This action did indeed fill Maximus with a sense of calm and peacefulness, but he left the cathedral in tears rather than fulfil William’s request to end his life. Seeing Maximus leave, Husam entered the cathedral to see that William had prostrated himself before the altar.

Unsure how to react given the desire to avoid arresting William in such a public place, Husam bade Constantius to return to the covenant with the news. There, Astrius, Kira and I discussed William’s actions, and it occurred to us that he might seek to claim sanctuary in the cathedral, which would place him beyond the secular law if granted. We determined that this must not happen, so we informed Husam and sent a message to De Percy. Gratifyingly, De Percy appears to have impressed on the Bishop that the was an undesirable outcome, and William was unceremoniously dumped out of the cathedral. There, Kira was able to use a Rego Mentem spell to take over his mind and guide him to a nearby barge, which spirited him back to Severn Temple.

William was installed in the cell in the basement of the tower, which sparked outrage from Maximus, who first claimed that he had been unaware of the intention to use torture on William to make him give up his secrets and then declared that any such actions should take place in the guest quarters, rather than in the cell beneath his sanctum, as he was concerned that it might generate an infernal aura. At one point, Maximus threatened to raise a charge against Astrius, as Pontifex, should such an aura manifest, and tempers on both sides became frayed. I fully understand Maximus’ natural distaste for the circumstances of William’s interrogation, and at length he was persuaded that this was implicit in the council’s decision to capture the monk. Kira took charge of the interrogation, and after several weeks, she forced William to reveal the name of a conspirator within the Order. At this point, she explained that we needed to have the confession witnessed by a Quaesitor to ensure that the information could be used in a prosecution. Maximus refused to participate, and so Astrius travelled to Blackthorn to speak with Luvidicus, who agreed to act as witness. Luvidicus confirmed Kira’s findings, and he agreed to appoint Quaesitor Veritius to continue the investigation next season.

Autumn

The council met on the first day of autumn, with all members save Aeddan in attendance. Maximus mentioned that his familiar, Rufus, had noticed a white dove perched in the branches of a tree outside the aegis, and we speculated that this might be the same dove that Rufus had encountered when Maximus and William had first met on the north road. Astrius determined to catch the bird in case it was William’s familiar, but it fled before he was able to get close enough.

Husam reported that he had spent the second half of summer in Bristol catching up on events. His contacts explained that the criminal gangs in the city were beginning to regroup, though there had been no further signs of infernal activity. Husam also declared Thomas De Percy to be his amicus, which Maximus accepted, though not before warning him of the dangers of appointing a high profile member of the nobility to such a position. Urbanus pointed out that Primus Jerbiton had gone one better in appointing Aeddan, the king of England, as his amicus, and he asked whether Maximus believed that the Primus had erred in this matter. Fortunately, Astrius decided to end the discussion on this issue before it became unhelpful.

The final matter discussed at the council related to the Boar Tide, which had failed to produce any Aquam vis at the summer solstice. Concerned that we were unaware of the cause of this event, Astrius used an Intellego Aquam spell to contact the Lladra, though this required several attempts before she answered his call. She explained that the faerie courts had tied themselves closely to Aeddan as king, which meant that their connections to the mortal world had weakened as his power waned. This is a potentially alarming state of affairs, not least because several of our vis sources arise in areas of faerie power. We resolved to consult with some of the Merinitans within the Tribunal to ascertain whether this was merely a local effect or whether it was a widespread phenomenon.

Early in the season, Husam and I led an expedition to Mynydd Myddyn to pursue the matter of the origins of the regio. It quickly became apparent that the regio had experienced another of its periodic shifts in aspect, for the tower appeared long abandoned and Cairwyn could find no sign of the hut in the forester where he had received his druidic training. We were on the verge of giving up on our search for the celts when Cairwyn explained that in ancient times his people were believed to have made their home in a cleft close to where Mynydd’s Brood dwell. Husam transformed into an owl to scout out the place, and true enough, found a celtic village where Cairwyn had predicted. The rest of us made our way there and, being careful to avoid the use of Latin, managed to secure the hospitality of the clan chief.

Cairwyn approach the clan druid and returned with a puzzled expression a few moments later. He said that he had explained a little of our mission to the druid, who had replied that he was a young boy named Myddyn in the village, though he was not regarded as anything other than a hopeless dreamer. This resonated with some of the tales recorded in the journal, whereby some of our predecessors met a boy claiming to be Myddyn. Cairwyn and I found Myddyn skipping stones off the surface of a nearby lake. He seem unusually keen-witted for one of his age, and he claimed that we were in fact spirits, which he demonstrated by throwing a stone that passed right through my body. At the time I was focussed on the task in hand and so put aside all consideration of how this happened, but now it occurs to me that the incident raises all sorts of interesting issues, such as how the stone had sufficient substance to interact with the surrounding environment but not my body. I now wish I had kept it, though my suspicion it was Myddyn’s agency rather than the stone’s properties that explain its peculiar behaviour.

There followed a slightly cryptic conversation in which I explained that Myddyn would seal the regio off from the mundane world in the future by taking a powerful artefact from the magical realm. The boy seemed to understand how this could be achieved, and he also understood my warning that the owner of the item would seek its return at some point, which could bring great destruction to the place. I asked where he would place such an object were he to decide to do so in the future. He did not have a firm idea – other than suggesting somewhere underground at the centre of the regio – so I asked him to place the symbol of the Boar Tide as a marker that would allow others to retrieve it when the time was right. I have no idea whether this will work – basic Hermetic theory says that it should not, even if time behaves unusually in Mynydd Myddyn – but I thought it would be an interesting experiment in causality. Even if it does not, we have a clue that the object might be at the centre of the regio. With that, we made our way back to Severn Temple.

The only other event of note in autumn was that Quaesitor Veritius arrived to continue the interrogation of Brother William. He dismissed Kira’s offer of assistance, which seemed both churlish and ill advised, on the grounds that he had brought a specialised interrogator with him. Two weeks later, he reported that William had died, though not before providing additional evidence. Veritius then departed to consult Luvidicus. A few days later, Rufus spotted the remains of a white dove, corroborating our previous view that it had been William’s familiar.

Winter

The council met on a damp but mild winter’s morning, with all members save Aeddan present. Urbanus opened the meeting by announcing that, while he was studying at the King’s College in Gloucester, he had discovered that one of the masters, a mathematician named Laurence, had been found dead in his chambers. The man had apparently been behaving erratically in previous weeks, disregarding his teaching responsibilities in favour of private research and working long into the night. His quarters were in a state of disarray, with sheaves of frantically scribbled notes and bowls of half-eaten food stacked all around his desk. The vice-chancellor, Raymond, has kept the circumstances of Laurence’s death quiet given the unusual circumstances, but the matter certainly warrants further investigation. The council agreed, as a first step, to attempt to obtain Laurence’s mortal remains so that Maximus can question his ghost.

The only other matter of note raised at the council was Fabius’ report that the Boar Tide had once again failed to produce any vis. Even more worryingly, the spring had produced only four, rather than the usual five, pawns of corporem vis at the Autumn Equinox. The council speculated that the reduction in the potency of our vis sites might be linked to the faeries having tied their fates to the success of Aeddan’s mission, which had suffered a severe setback after he lost the case at the Grand Tribunal. There was a short diversion when Maximus declared that whoever had caused the reduction in output would have a legal case to answer. Urbanus and Astrius reacted badly to Maximus’ interjection, declaring that there was no proof that Aeddan’s fall was the cause of the problem and that, even if it was, the fault lay with the Grand Tribunal or even Primus Guernicus himself, rather than our sodales. Fortunately, the discussion did not spiral entirely out of control, and we were able to return to more productive matters. I queried why the spring should also be effected, as our understanding was that it was a magical, rather than faerie, site with possible links to the magical entity known as the Morrigan. I do not feel that we reached a satisfactory conclusion on this issue, and it became obvious to us all that the council lacks anyone with recent experience of events in the faerie courts. We determined that we needed to find out more about whether the reduced vis harvest was purely a local phenomenon or whether other covenants had also noticed the impact, so Astrius agreed to travel to Cad Gadu and Holy Isle to speak with Serentea and McKeidh, who are knowledgeable about matters involving the faerie and magical realms, respectively.

A couple of weeks into the season, we received a message from De Percy’s agents that they had managed to secure Laurence’s body, which was now awaiting us in Blackney. Maximus and I travelled down to the village, where he was able to converse with the man’s ghost. It seems that Laurence had obtained a mysterious text allegedly written by one of Pythagoras’ students that recorded that luminary’s work on the mathematics linking two and three dimensional shapes. Such knowledge has, as far as I am aware, been lost to the west, so this is potentially a great discovery, but Laurence’s attempts to uncover a final proof had driven him to exhaustion and eventually death. His obsession continued into the afterlife, for he begged Maximus to ensure that the text was distributed widely throughout the universities of Christendom. Alas, it seems likely that the source of the text was the friar Benedict’s bound demon, which gives it an evil provenance, though we must be careful to distinguish between its origin and content. I resolved to investigate the matter in more detail as soon as time permits.

Towards the end of the season, Alannus arrived bearing news from abroad. In the Levant, divisions between the crusader forces and a failure to listen properly to the reports of their spies meant that only half of their forces were deployed to meet an advancing Saracen army from Gaza, resulting in a comprehensive defeat. The Saracens subsequently captured Jerusalem and destroyed its fortifications, though disagreements between the Saracens of Damascus and Cairo broke out shortly thereafter, which allowed the crusaders to secure a peace treaty with Damascus. Much of the opprobrium for the sorry state of the crusaders’ affairs has been placed at the feet of the controversial Count Thibaut of Champagne, who has been roundly condemned by the Pope. The Saracens’ success is rumoured to be partly due to active assistance from the Order of Suleiman, who have cut off supplies to several Hermetic covenants. Some Magi have already given up on the Levant Tribunal, fleeing to Thebes to avoid what they regard as an inevitable collapse.

Alannus also brought a reply to the letter I wrote to Black Road covenant in Normandy. In truth, it was not quite what I wanted, as rather than being a general invitation to travel there to discuss cooperation across a wide range of magical and mundane spheres, it was restricted to an exchange of magical texts that, on the face of it, favoured them rather than us. Still, despite the slightly disadvantageous terms, we resolved to take them up on their offer, both the show commitment to our initial proposal and also to give me an excuse to visit them to deliver the texts.

There were no other events of note.
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