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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1244 AD

All members of the council save Urbanus were present for the first council meeting of 1244. The meeting began with a discussion of the changes in Mynydd Myrddyn. It seems that the basic geography of the place is still the same and while the aura is diminished it remains a reasonably potent magical aura. Husam proposed that, if it is no longer a regio, we should look to establish a permanent base there. It was agreed this was a good idea so Constantius was given the task of setting up a small hamlet capable of supporting a couple of grogs on permanent station. More locally it seems that, happily, the boar tide is back to producing a pawn of aquam vis per season.

I reminded my sodales that I would be journeying to Transylvania for my House meeting, there to take battle to the Mongol Horde. The day after the council I thus joined the Mercere ship "Spear of the North Wind" at Chepstow, meeting Laurius, Magnus and Emerius on board.

The ship took us swiftly through the Pillars of Hercules, but disappointingly there were no pirates unwise enough to attack us so we made our way unopposed into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. After a short stop at the beautiful covenant of Verdi, we sailed on to Venice. As we made our way into the large lake that marks the harbour there, I could not help but think back to the first time I had come to the city, when Medius and I were tracking the Renounced Magus Caelestis. Frightening to think that it was almost 80 years ago now!

From there we were given a guide to take us East into the Kingdom of Hungary to the Tremere covenant of Rottberg. After a march of just over a week we reached the covenant, a satellite of Coeris. From there it was a further fortnight as we took first a barge up the higher reaches of the river Danube and then a well-built winding road into the Carpathian mountains. It was obvious that, even with the good road, a mundane army would struggle to reach Coeris in large enough numbers to pose a significant threat, let alone one composed largely of cavalry.

Some two weeks out of Rottburg we reached Coeris, first passing through the ruins of “old Coeris”, destroyed in the aftermath of the Lich plot. The nature of the destruction indicating potent magics of both Ignem and Perdo had been brought to bear up the tower and walls. There were two curious looking guards, belonging to the “Night Watch”, whose appearance, with pale skin and white eyes, had uneasy echoes of that of the liches. Perhaps guessing my thoughts, our guide hurriedly assured us that they were mortal men, bred from locals who had lived within the magical aurae thereabouts and who thus bore the supernatural ability to see spirits and their like. Reassured, if not completely convinced, we pressed on to the ‘new’ Domus Magnus Tremere.

It lay across a great stone bridge and was built in a more modern ‘gothic’ style than the Roman era stonework of old Coeris. Stone statues of wolves sat on each side of the bridge, the wolf being the new symbol of Coeris, replacing the former moth. Set into the roof of the gatehouse was the lantern whose light reveals and destroys liches. It was a strange feeling, visiting Coeris and seeing the lantern we had worked so hard to reclaim from Swallowcliff set there, but more knowing minds than mine have declared the House of Tremere to be free of taint now so I shall take them at their word.

We were met by Archimagus Scrutius of Tremere who bade us enter. The covenant had an air of busy efficiency and was austerely furnished. Inside I was led up to see Primus Motus who explained the nature of the House’s mission there. The primary goal was to protect the surrounding area of the Transylvania, as Coeris occupies a strategically vital position and its fall could allow the Mongols open access to Thebes. The Horde are apparently only twenty leagues to the East and have already taken the great Rus city of Kiev and smashed their armies. Motus stressed however that the primary threat is not mundane but magical.

I explained my vision to him, stressing my fear of some sort of covert infiltration. Motus said that he had heard reports that the gates of Kiev had been opened by shapeshifters of some sort. The key question is whether or not any of them belong to House Bjornaer.

That evening I met with Primus Probius, filius Vertis, discipilus Tremere. I found him to be a thoughtful seeming man of indeterminate age, with a white wolf familiar. He began by offering me his thanks for the “great service” I had done his House, which, still a little ill at ease with such a senior Tremere, I somewhat curtly accepted. He then told me what they had learnt of our foe. The Horde have shamen who practice some form of divination and can predict the most auspicious times and places to fight their battles. They also use magical spirits as scouts and, while none have been sighted near Coeris by the Night Watch, there have been reports of them to the East.

Astrius’s private journal

When I mentioned my frustrations about the results of Archimagus Martellus’s failed mission to the Order of Suleiman, Primus Tremere told me that he believes Primus Guernicus is prejudiced. It was encouraging to hear that House Guernicus's continuing poor leadership and wilful blindness is known so widely.


The two most troubling rumours were the involvement of shapeshifters whose nature when in animal form is not detectable by magic; however, the Tremere believe they are not related to the Bjornaer.

The second concerned the 'onslaught'. From careful study of the ruins of the town of Legnica, where the Horde crushed the Hungarian Templar army, this power is elemental in nature, with two discernible elements – one of the power of the storm, the other ice and cold. However, most of the damage done to the town – walls being torn down, towers split - left no trace of magic. Examination of corpses of men killed on the walls revealed wounds caused by great claw marks, yet no one questioned saw a beast. I was shown a preserved corpse of one of the dead and upon casting 'Vision of the Marauding Beast' saw a rather odd creature. It had a long wingless, serpentine body with feathers down the centre of its back, short legs and a very long, whip-like tail. Its head was unmistakably draconian, but also had somewhat of a leonine look. It was clearly a greater serpent of some sort, and one able to fly without wings. This dragon from the East, or more likely dragons, must be the source of the 'onslaught'.
To the best of the Tremere's knowledge, the 'onslaught' has only ever been encountered with the shaman Latou, a short, portly, elderly man, covered in tattoos. He wears a rich fur mantle, with dark blue silk robes embroidered with a yellow pattern of some sort. He appears just before the 'onslaught' is unleashed and it seems like a fair guess that he is somehow able to call and control the beasts. While he is always closely guarded, the fact that no assassin sent after him has ever been seen again, either dead or alive, suggests that the dragons may well be constantly close to him.

With the three Flambeau magi I had led in the last House meeting, Obscurus, Tormentia and Pravius (with his new familiar, a boar named Agresté), I made an assay of the mountains surrounding the covenant, trying to get a feel for the countryside and to identify spots where the enemy could best overlook the covenant. I also took time to take some arcane connections to convenient apportation sites near each likely spot. Primus Tremere bade us be aware of the local tribe of white furred wolves which his familiar leads as alpha and who act as external watchers for the covenant.

Summer

Once all members of my House had arrived, on the first day of summer the Tremere conducted a ritual of the Aegis of the Hearth of the 17th magnitude, with all magi invited to take part.

We then undertook more scouting, following along the wide ridge, beyond rolling hills out towards the plains where the Horde is approaching from. Once back in the covenant we discussed how best to deal with the Horde, eventually deciding on waiting at a spot in a nearby pass they were approaching where blatant magics could be used and the Tremere had already set magics in place to drop half the mountainside down into the valley below. Although there was no sign of anything threatening the covenant itself and with its war Aegis sufficiently powerful to reasonably expect to keep even dragons out, I nevertheless could not be help recall my vision and relayed it briefly to those present.

Astrius's private journal

I had had my vision the previous year when visiting Renwick and the White Horse Hill, hoping that I would be helped with my search for an apprentice.

I was standing on the battlements of a fort set amidst high hills or mountains. Alongside me were soldiers wearing strange-looking armour and surcoats with the design of Mars in a square - the symbol of House Tremere. To my left stood Motus, a look of concern in his eye as he gazed out East where storm clouds were gathering. In the tumult I could see hail and lightning striking out all around. My vision was drawn into the storm and within it I saw a great castle on a mountain pass, where men in Eastern-style armour, presumably from the lands of the Order of Suleiman, were looking down from battlements at thousands of Mongol cavalry and siege engines coming advancing on the fortress. The defenders launched a counter charge of their own heavy cavalry but some powerful invisible force slapped them around like toys. After devastating the horsemen, it hit the castle walls, leaving great cracks in the thick stone. Lightning and hail hit the top of the keep and the main tower fell, ruined and I awoke with a start, my senses back on the hillside.

Renwick thought it meant that my destiny lay in the East, but said that Magus Kenwyck, a diviner who lived nearby, might be able to provide more specific advice. I took him up on this and was able to ask three questions. As to whether my vision indicated doom for me or my Primus there were two possible outcomes, one being Motus's death, the other a mortal peril for me that I might not survive. The one certain outcome was that something symbolised by a wolf would be brought down. The next question asked about how I could overcome the invisible force. Kenwyck said that the serpent's fang indicated something of the nature of my foe and although the details were a little unclear, fire would be my ally. I asked for more information on the nature of my foe and Kenwyck revealed that it was not one foe but two, or two parts of one. One aligned to auram, the other cold and ice, both were very powerful and somehow hidden from sight.

At least one part of the vision was confirmed a few weeks later when a Redcap brought news of the destruction of the Eastern fortress in Summer 1243 as Khan Batu of the Horde defeated the Seljuk Turks and their Order of Suleiman helpers - and Primus Motus subsequently called for a House meeting in Coeris to face it.

One other point of note relating to the vision, I was urged by the Anu that Autumn that when the choice of fates lies before me I should think of my home and Stonehenge - she said that my death might not help as much as I think and that "from ashes a phoenix may rise."


Despite my concerns, not all set much, if any, store in such, especially not Viperion, but Motus sensed my genuine anxiety about a surprise attack on the covenant and thus asked if I and my three junior Flambeau would stay and guard the covenant. I was a little disappointed at the thought of missing out on open battle with the Horde, though not as disappointed as my three sodales who would be staying with me, but agreed readily nevertheless. While the rest of my House made their way to the ambush site I stayed in the great hall with Primus Probius and the array of scrying mirrors he'd had set up there. As word came of the Horde massing at the entrance to the pass, the mirror linked to the first watcher cracked and broke. Intellego magics confirmed the man to be dead, likely at the hands of shapeshifters.

Motus sent a magus up to watch the Horde and they reported that they were forming up in classical battle lines as thought facing a mundane opponent, apparently not their usual tactics.

That night, as I slept, I dreamt that I was running through a pine forest, leaping low branches when I felt something strike me in the back, knocking me to the ground. I could feel an almost instantaneous burning in my veins and my throat closed up before I could call out, leaving me lying dying, gasping vainly for breath. I woke sweating, my heart racing, feeling certain that the attack was about to begin. Believing my dream symbolised the death of one of the magical white wolves, I bade Probius ask his familiar to check in with his pack, Sure enough, three were not answering. It was still dark so, with the alert raised, we magi slept in shifts. Perhaps half an hour before dawn we received reports that the Horde camp was packing up. Then, as dawn broke and our parmae faded, the attack came.

The first sign was all the scrying devices suddenly growing dark and shattering. Then from outside, the Night Watch on duty outside cried out that two large shapes were moving through the spirit world and a runner burst through the double doors to the keep where we were standing and shouted "They come" before being engulfed in lightning. As I ran for the cover of the stairwell, I could see ice raining down on the grogs in the courtyard outside.

There was no time to reweave my parma so I had to content myself with wards against both ice and lightning, and the 'Gift of Achilles', before joining the fray. Using 'Vision of Heats Light' from one of the keep towers I caught a glimpse of a long tail and hit it with a bolt of flame from Garius's wand. I'm pretty sure I hurt the creature, for it and its twin twisted and came right at me as I stood in the doorway leading from the tower onto the battlements. I managed to hit the one I believed to be the ice dragon with a further gout of flame but it didn't slow the creature down at all and I was hit by ice then lightning from their invisible maws. My protective spells shielded me from the worst of the ice, but the lightning burned me painfully and I threw myself backwards down the stairs before they could breathe again. Not a moment too soon either, for the dragons crashed into the tower a moment later.

Meanwhile, outside, Motus and those other Flambeau who could apport, began appearing in the courtyard. As they scanned around for the foe, they tried to form up with the surviving grogs, many of whom were already slain. As I picked myself up from the base of the stairs I hurried over to an arrow slit to try and find the dragons again. As I looked out I saw Motus, with Pravius loyally covering him with his shield, badly burnt by lightning. Pravius fell lifeless, but Primus Motus, despite his wounds, was getting to his feet to fight on when a hail of ice struck him and he fell, and House Flambeau lost one of its finest Primi, One who had brought back honour to our great House after that dog Periculus had so besmirched it. Archimagus Scrutius was able to cast a ward on the courtyard, presumably something to keep the dragons at bay but then the second wave of attackers came in. They flew in as birds, passing seemingly straight through the Aegis but on landing assuming the forms of men in worn clothes and carrying bows and daggers.

Before I knew it they were inside the keep, a good number darting swiftly through the arrow slits before I could conjure a 'Wall of Flame' to keep them out. A vicious fight ensued, though my new blade acquitted itself well and, despite being slashed by a poisoned blade I was able to slay five or six of them before I heard a scream "Run for your lives" from down in the great hall. The Tremere had been conducting what I would later learn was a muto terram ritual to seal the keep and render its walls as strong as steel. However, they had been interrupted when they were attacked by one or more of the shapeshifters and there was an awful feel of twilight in the air. As the keep began to collapse in on itself I apported hurriedly out to a point just past old Coeris.

Primus Tremere, along with Maelgwyn and several other magi had made good their escape through a Hermes Portal at the base of the keep and so I was able to communicate with Probius and learn more of what was happening. I rewove my parma and after casting 'Incantation of the Body Made Whole' on myself, I apported out to the mountainside to see if I could find any sign of Latou. There I met one of the white wolves and he led me on a hunt for he had picked up the scent of Latou's party. We journeyed hard for several hours, at one point stopping and hiding as the wolf sensed the dragons passing overhead. Latou must have been afraid of being caught for he was travelling at a fierce pace and we were unable to catch them before they rejoined the Horde.

Somewhat dispiritedly, I apported back to old Coeris and there joined up with what remained of my House who had been able to fly or apport back from the pass. Viperion was there, perhaps a little contrite about his earlier snide remarks about my concerns of the covenant's safety, but his primary emotion was clearly vengeance. He stated clearly that, by right of age, he intended to assume the role of Primus and that one of his first acts would be to lead the house against the Horde to take revenge for the death of Motus and the others. I first made clear my support for Viperion's right to the position of Primus, but then equally clearly pointed out that with our reduced numbers and the dragons still around and relatively unscathed, such an attack was more likely to result in the death of a goodly part of our House rather than slaying Latou and the Horde's leaders. And this was before considering the difficulty of finding one man with a huge army. There was some debate but in the end Viperion saw sense. Viperion will however co-ordinate efforts across the Order to assassinate Latou.

Curiously, of the Horde itself, it seems that they had packed up that morning and headed back out East. It makes me wonder whether the army was only ever bait to draw in as many magi as possible.

I took on responsibility for dealing with the Flambeau dead and returned to the ruins of 'new' Coeris with a few of the surviving Tremere. There we found the bodies of Motus, Pravius and Areste, and Tormentia, though of the latter naught more than a burnt pair of boots and some charred bones remained. How many magi lie dead in the great pile of rubble that was once the keep I know not, but the Tremere will be hard pressed to recover those bodies for when one magus used perdo terram magics on it he was cast immediately into twilight. I found Archimagus Scrutius lying dead in the courtyard in the ward he had erected, with several bone arrows sticking out of his back.

I set a torch to the pyre of Primus Motus and those others whose bodies we had been able to find and watched sadly as the flames consumed the mortal remains of the man who had done so much for the House, for me personally and for the Order as a whole. Wherever his spirit goes, I hope he finds the rest he deserves. Standing in the remains of Coeris, once the heart of the Lich conspiracy, I was reminded that another of the key players in their downfall has passed on.

I made some little investigation of the bodies of some of the shapeshifters, finding no signs that either their clothes or armaments had been conjured - there was no sign of any magic about them and they had a distinct patina of age and use. One possibly noteworthy thing was that they were made of solely 'natural' forms and there appeared to be no metal on them at all.
Amongst the items I recovered from my dead sodales was the chain of office of House Flambeau. I took it from my former Primus and presented it to my new one, formally acknowledging him as Primus Viperion. For all our past disagreements, profound as they were - costing him his filia and me my familiar – I believe that, just as Tiarnan and I came to work well together for the good of the Severn Temple, so can Viperion and I for the good of House Flambeau.

Meanwhile, I was still in touch with Primus Tremere through Maelgwyn and after some discussion we agreed to withdraw to Rottberg. I offered to stay behind and lead the rearguard of the last magi, those who knew neither flying nor apportation magics, through the mountains.

Astrius's private journal

There is much to do, both in learning more of the twin dragons from the East, but also how they were able to breach an aegis of apparently more than sufficient power to keep them out. Or does their intense magical nature somehow give them the ability to cross aurae, despite the assurances that Primus Tremere offered. Mayhap Archimagus Petrus will be able to shed further light on this.

I must also with some urgency speak with an Archimagus of Bjornaer Archimagus, for whatever the nature of the shapeshifters, if as seems likely, House Bjornaer has some intelligence regarding the shifters who joined in the attack on Coeris then they must share it with the Order. A prime covenant, a Domus Magnus has fallen to our enemies and if the Oath means anything still to the Bjornaer then they will have to help. Even if not for the good of the Order, for the good of their house for while I was able to convince Viperion that all the evidence indicates that the shapeshifters were not Bjornaer, I have little doubt that many fingers will be pointed to them across the Order in the months to come.


Whatever else comes of this, what happened at Coeris must be viewed for what it is - an open declaration of war upon the Order by the Horde. Primus Viperion is to travel to Durenmar to speak with Primus Bonisagus to ensure that he will guide the Order in declaring the Horde an enemy of the Order. For if the Horde is not our enemy then that term has no meaning any more.

Meanwhile, back in the covenant, at the meeting at the start of the season, Maximus had reported that the Senior Quaesitor was unable to launch a formal investigation of Kira's disappearance without a formal request from Tytalus or Flambeau or a tribunal vote. Maximus and Husam made plans for their trip to Keynsham. They found the situation under the new knight was even worse than the last one with a carpenter to be hung for merely speaking out of turn – sentenced to death by the magistrate “Benedict”. Husam returned to the covenant to discuss with his sodales what to do, for this ‘magistrate’ was still present in the manor. It was decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss and so Husam, Lysimachus and Maximus made their way swiftly to Keynsham to launch an attack.

Outside the manor, Maximus noticed the Benedict’s demon standing just behind Lysimachus. It made itself visible and told the magi that Benedict was training the knight as an apprentice in demonology. It also claimed that if Benedict was attacked it would be forced to use its infernal powers to age the magi unnaturally, but it would be able to delay doing this for a short while, long enough it hoped for the magi to be able to slay Benedict. Despite the obvious temptation to tacitly accept its aid, my sodales acted properly, launching an attack upon the demon with the various items that had been crafted to fight just such a creature. Although Lysimachus’s wand failed to work, Husam was able to burn it with his 13th magnitude enchantment, but the demon was apparently able to destroy that before it could be used again. Maximus’s wand didn’t appear to hurt the demon, but seemed instead to cause it momentary fear. The demon was visibly angry and told the magi to stop wasting their items on it, but Lysimachus merely retorted that if it wanted that it should leave and leave it duly did.

A little shaken perhaps, the three magi pressed on, avoiding the spirit on the front gate by the simple expedient of climbing the back wall. Despite some difficulties with the climb, Husam was able to gain access to the manor and let the others in and with judicious use of magics to send the guards to sleep they successfully effected their entrance, although some alarm was raised. With the element of surprise lost a quick attack was made on the top room where the knight and Benedict lurked. Husam blinded the knight as Maximus destroyed the spirit set to watch the stairs.

There then followed a vicious and somewhat confused fight in the room itself with fire, blades and infernal magics flicking back and forth. It was perhaps a little close for comfort for Maximus grew afeared and apported out after his parma was flattened, and Lysimachus had his tongue twisted but the magi triumphed. Husam slew the knight with his daggers and then decapitated Benedict whilst the diabolist was still in the form of a snake. As he did so, the demon, who had been urging the magi on, cried out triumphantly “Free at last” and vanished. Just before he did so, Maximus’s familiar Rufus reported that the demon told him that it would overlook their rudeness in attacking it in return for the service they had done it.
All the magi were able to return safely to the covenant, having won a fine victory, though I fear we have not seen the last of Benedict’s demon, though I hope I am proved wrong.

Autumn

Naturally, the first part of the Autumn council was taken up with discussion of our respective adventures, but there was little to add to the accounts written above, save for my belief that it is extremely likely that an Emergency Grand Tribunal will be called in the next few years. Husam then reported that Ex Miscellania was actively gathering intelligence on the Brothers in Christ. Marius also reported on some intrigue, though this was of a more mundane variety, with the Prince of Gwynedd reportedly making difficult and impolitic demands on Urbanus. Potentially serious strife in North Wales appears possible and we were warned that travel to Cad Gadu could become hazardous later in the season. To add to this, tidings from the North suggest that the ever-rowdy Scots may be keen to test both the new King and York’s loyalty to him.

Fabius requested permission to undertake two seasons service this year and be released from the obligation to perform one next year, for he anticipates being at Verdi all next year. As Pontifex I agreed to this, noting however that it was considered to be an exceptional circumstance and would not set a general precedent for magi being able to opt out of a given year’s service simply by performing two seasons’ service the preceding year. Fabius spoke a little of his item for his House meeting, he said that he had had some form of unintended but beneficial side effect to his experimental enchantments, for the emotions of those reflected in his mirror appear as a hue surrounding the reflected image.

Maximus agreed to undertake a follow-up investigation in Keynsham as covenant service, while Lysimachus was to travel to Mynydd Myrddyn with a carpenter and miner to shore up the caves there and make them more easily accessible and, all being well, enable them to become uncontested sources. Husam and I both took the Severn Star round the coast of Wales. I to Holy Isle, with Husam and his amicus carrying on to Chester and thence to Cad Gadu.

In Holy Isle, Cerdic was able to shed a little more light on the nature of the wyrms I had fought. He had heard tale of them, or at least those bearing a similar description, from an Arabian bestiary detailing the fantastical beasts of the East, as far as the lands of the Indus and beyond. Such serpents are creatures of storms and the elements and while they are not as magically potent as the great drakes of the West they are still physically very powerful.

Cerdic was then kind enough to grant me access on behalf of his covenant to study Holy Isle’s tomes on crossing regio boundaries for the remainder of the season as I continued my efforts to discover how the dragons were able to breach the war Aegis at Coeris.

Astrius's private journal

de Percy kept mostly to himself and was polite but watchful and largely inscrutable. However, when I used simple creo imagonem magics to show what I had seen of the Eastern dragons to Cerdic in Holy Isle, de Percy’s eyes went wide. Clearly he has not seen much in the way of overt magic! I wonder just how much Husam has shared with him.

As well as telling me what he knew of the nature of the Eastern dragons, Cerdic said that he thought it might be possible summon them inside an Aegis of the Hearth. From what he knows of the UnNamed House’s magical practices, they summon fantastical beasts using non-infernal pagan magics.


Back in the Dean, Lysimachus enjoyed a productive season in Mynydd Myrddyn, widening narrow passages, cutting steps in steep slopes, building a bridge over a stream and setting a ladder down a cliff. As a result, while some reasonably straightforward magics may still be needed (a ward against lime fumes for the perdo vis and a ward versus cold for the imagonem), as with the fissure from whence we source our ignem vis, I believe we can confidently nominate the sources of imagonem, terram and muto within the caves as being uncontested. Fine work indeed!

Maximus had a somewhat darker season. He travelled into Bristol without incident, but that night, while he was abed in a private room in the Waggoner’s Rest, Duncan, or at least the creature that had become knocked on his door. Maximus was able to erect a Circular Ward Against Demons and so keep the vampire out, but not before he heard what must have been a somewhat alarming message “She knows you’re here.” Whether this was because he was spotted by a crew member, human or otherwise, from the Ain Feann, which was in port when he arrived, is not known, but it is a clear reminder that we cannot allow our focus to drop from Bristol for a moment. The White Lady and all her accursed blood lineage must be put to flame and sword.

Fortunately, Maximus was not assailed further and so the next morning he set off for Keynsham with a couple of grogs and his servant. However, Duncan was not to be so lightly ignored, for he followed, as a heavily hooded and cloaked figure some half a mile back along the road. Dressed as a magistrate, Maximus arrived at Keynsham in the middle of the day. After the inevitable stop for lunch, he set about his investigation, finding to his alarm that there were shadows of some sort about the minds of the villagers. On questioning them using intellego magics, he found that their memories had been altered, seemingly to remove memories of anything unusual about the manor burning down and the death of the knight. With his uncanny Sight, Maximus later noticed that there were restless spirits in the back of the graveyard, an apparent sign that that part of the graveyard was not consecrated. While investigating there, he met the Duncan vampire again and was told by the creature that it had been set to watch Maximus.

‘Duncan’ came to the inn that night, asking to be let in but Maximus wisely refused. Before returning to sleep though he espied with his Sight a black miasma pervading through the village, centred on the church or perhaps the unconsecrated section of graveyard behind it.

Next morning Maximus decided to return to the covenant to report his findings. Not wanting to pass through Bristol again he set off North via the back roads that lead through Chipping Sodbury and thence through rolling, poorly marked hills to Stroud. Duncan followed them but at some point before Maximus’ party reached the river he disappeared, presumably to report back to his diabolic mistress.

Winter

There was a heavy frost about the covenant as all save Urbanus gathered for the final council meeting of the year. Maximus spoke about the events in Bristol and Keynsham, adding that, while physically very potent, the vampire Duncan did not appear to be magically overly so for an intellego mentem spell of the fifth magnitude appeared to work on him. To Maximus’s Sight he seemed somehow ‘hollow’.

There was some discussion about the extent of the ‘White Lady’s’ power in Bristol and is seems possible that she has watchers of a capability perhaps approaching that which the Fells previously enjoyed. Maximus said that the first time he used magic in the city was to raise a ward after dusk, while in his room in the Waggoner’s Rest, though it is possible his Gifted nature was spotted when he passed through the docks. Also, he was in his mundane magistrate guise and, as Bernard, he may well be known to the enemy. Of further note was the fact that Duncan was seen to travel in the day, albeit cloaked and hooded, overturning another fact we thought we knew about vampires.

There was a lengthy discussion about the nature of the black mist and its relationship to the memory lapses in the villagers. Investigations revealed a faint lingering fog on Sergeant Geoffrey’s mind and on questioning he had no recollection of ‘Duncan’. When the spell, ‘Gift of Reason’ was cast on him, he suddenly regained his memories of the creature, but as soon as the spell faded so did those memories. The second grog who had accompanied Maximus to Keynsham, William, appeared unaffected by the fog, so it could that it may be resisted by more strong-minded individuals.

Husam had news of mundane politics, the Prince of Gwynedd has attacked lands in England to ‘reclaim’ his lost territories while King Urien fights the Scots in the North. Urien’s initial battle was successful but not decisive so the war will drag on. With the strife in North Wales, we may have to keep a careful watch on the rest of the Marches to see how neighbouring lords react to Gwynedd’s land grab.

Finally, Fabius reported that he had successfully completed a new item imbued with four 13th magnitude charges of ‘Demon’s Eternal Oblivion’.

A fortnight or so before mid-winter, Alannus arrived bearing news both hermetic and mundane. There was much hermetic news of note: Primus Bonisagus has called an Emergency Grand Tribunal for mid-summer 1247 to discuss the destruction of Coeris; Primus Guernicus has had the effrontery to issue a public warning to Urbanus that he must cleave tightly to the Code or suffer the fate of his renounced pater; and, of no little significance to the latter, Primus Jerbiton has passed into final twilight.
There was some discussion about this news and it seems likely that, given his position as King of England, Urbanus will be first in line for the office of Primus Jerbiton. Given that, Aeddan believes that his filius will make him his amicus, thus restoring his protection from hostile magi.

Astrius’s private journal

I could scarcely believe the warning from Primus Guernicus. What nerve the man has to issue such a threat when the key evidence that resulted in Marius being found in breach of the Code has been shown to be fake! He should think himself lucky that some of us hold the spirit of the Code in higher esteem than he clearly does or else I would be setting sail on the next available ship for Magvillus to put an end to the miserable cur’s existence!

At least we know that House Mercere holds his actions in similarly low esteem for Alannus told us that he had been bidden by Harco to deliver the message of Primus Jerbiton’s demise here first.

A week later, Senior Quaesitor Ludovidicus arrived, doubtless at the instruction of his Primus. After he asked us where Aeddan was and Lysimachus and I refused to tell him, an argument broke out and I, still infuriated by Primus Guernicus’s threat, briefly lost my temper with him. After things had calmed down a little, Ludovidicus then tried to claim that some of the Primi (he wouldn’t say which ones) had come up with a plan “for the stability of the Order” to have Aeddan rejoin the Order, even without his Gift. I told him that I would pass on such message to Aeddan indirectly, for I did not know his exact location. Seeing that he would get no more, Ludovidicus left things at that.

Astrius’s private journal

Although I passed on the message via de Percy, I added to it my grave suspicions of its veracity. There is only one House that I know of which accepts UnGifted magi, but Alannus made no mention of such an offer and he bore word directly from Harco! More lies from Primus Guernicus and his cabal no doubt.


There were no more events of note before the year came to an end.

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