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Scribed by Lysimachus

Spring 1246 AD

Astrius, Husam, Maximus and I met as a Council on the first day of spring; Aeddan was absent, having left towards the end of winter in an attempt to make sure that any rumours of plague in Tintern were not connected to the covenant. Maximus mentioned that he had heard news of plague as he travelled through Chepstow on his way back from Normandy, but the tales were vague and contradictory, which may be the result of typically efficient obfuscation by De Percy’s agents.

I expressed concern with the present state of affairs, noting that Aeddan retained considerable sway over both mundane and supernatural forces, and he sat as an observer on the Council, but was not formally a member. This meant that it was unclear to me to what extent he was bound by our rulings or the strictures of the charter. He had clearly gone against the wishes of the two members of the council who were resident in the covenant last winter, though Husam rightly pointed out that we had not held a formal vote on the matter. Given Aeddan was still away, it did not seem appropriate to conclude on the issue at this time, so we agreed that we would discuss it more fully once he returned.

There was no other news from winter, so we agreed on the covenant services for the year: Husam will continue to secure his position in Bristol; Astrius will extract vim vis for the covenant; Maximus will make copies of several texts to allow us to complete the trade I negotiated with Black Road covenant; and I agreed to investigate the caves in Mynydd Myddyn.

The season itself passed uneventfully, at least within the vicinity of the covenant. Constantius reported that the rumours of plague in the region remained disjointed and contradictory, though a story had emerged that Abbot Edmund of Tintern had performed a miraculous act of healing. It seems that around sixty people had perished at the abbey, but casualties could have been much higher had the abbot not insisted that all who displayed the symptoms – bloody tears running from the eyes – not be locked away in the main tower. All those, including the abbot himself, who contracted the disease died, save four young novices, who were found alive and well once the tower was reopened at the end of the season. Their recovery was acclaimed as a miracle that was attributed to the dying abbot’s call for God in his divine mercy to spare the young. The story remains an unsubstantiated folk tale for now, but we agreed that our spies should continue to monitor it in case it gains more credence and the Brothers In Christ are able to turn it to their advantage.

Summer

The Council once again met without Aeddan. Husam reported that he had spoken with De Percy, who indicated that Aeddan had travelled to Valnastium to consult with Urbanus. If so, it seems unlikely that he will have time to return this year given the need to travel to the Grand Tribunal at Durenmar in the summer of next year. Husam also reported that Daffyd ap Gwynedd had not been mollified by Urbanus’ concessions, and he seems poised to claim the title of Prince of Wales, which he argues lies vacant as Urbanus lacks a son and heir. If so, this implies civil war in Wales and most probably the Marcher lands, which could make travel to Blackthorn and Cad Gadu dangerous. De Percy had counselled Urbanus to take a firmer line with Daffyd, as he seems a grasping sort who is never satisfied with his lot, but the king faces challenges from so many different quarters that he was reluctant to risk opening up another front. Constantius also repeated his news regarding the plague in Tintern to the Council, adding that the Bishop of Hereford had indicated that he intended to visit the abbey to investigate the rumours of the former abbot’s miraculous acts.

A few weeks into the season, we received news from our spies that war had indeed broken out in Wales. Daffyd ap Gwynedd had attacked Powys, and his allies, the princes of Pembroke and Cenarth, had marched on Ceredigion. Anglesey and Conwy have remained neutral so far, but there is a risk that they may be dragged into the conflict in the future. I must admit that I am not entirely sure of the precise location of some of these places, but Powys at least lies close to our borders, which means we cannot rule out the possibility that we will see fighting close to the covenant, particularly as the earl of Gloucester has begun a muster to defend the king’s territories.

Just before midsummer, the Magi made their way to Blackthorn for the emergency Tribunal meeting. On the way, we encountered patrols controlling the river traffic, but Husam was able to use his contacts to ensure that we were not waylaid. Although the main business of the Tribunal was to elect representatives for next year’s Grand Tribunal, the meeting began with an exchange of news.

Alannus announced that Nora of Cad Gadu, a redcap who focussed on the covenants in the north of England, had died of old age. He also repeated the news we had already heard about Daffyd ap Gwynedd claiming the princedom of Wales, and announced that England had been beset by economic problems following a series of strikes that had spread through weavers, cloth merchants and shipbuilders. Further afield, the Mongols had invaded the Kingdom of Hungary and destroyed the covenant of Rottburg. Part of the horde had turned south towards Thebes, which had voted to declare them a formal enemy of the Tribunal. In addition, a force of Moors, including their sorcerous allies, had been encountered on the island of Majorca, and there are rumours that they may be associated with the pirates that haunt the western Mediterranean.

For Blackthorn, Theophilus reminded the Tribunal that the magical symposium would be held in the summer of 1250 AD. For Cad Gadu, Serenia advised Magi to take care when travelling through north Wales due to tensions between the Welsh and English forces. For Carrion Moor, Loricatus requested that the Tribunal authorise a Quaesitorial investigation into the disappearance of his mater, Kira. He explained that he had experienced a vision that suggested she had been stabbed in the back while investigating a hollow in the ground, which lent further credence to his belief that she was not simply engaged in some secret business of her own. After a short debate, in which several Magi expressed a great reluctance to set a precedent that would allow scrying on Magi before they had officially been declared dead, the Tribunal narrowly voted against the motion.

For Severn Temple, Astrius expressed our sadness at Fabius’ death and invited applications from young Magi who wished augment our numbers. For Solis Castle, Moravius also invited such applications, promising free access to the covenant’s libraries and a season of his own time as incentives to new members. For Borri-Tor, Emerius noted that tensions with the Scots remained high and advised Magi to be careful when travelling through the border counties. For Scarfell, Magnus mentioned rumours of a hedge wizard skilled in the use of esoteric ritual magic in the lakes region. For Narwold, Fergus announced that more unquiet spirits had emerged in the fenlands around the covenant. The spirits appeared to be those of the drowned dead, but he had been unable to determine the reasons for their increased activity. For Oakham Vale, Justin explained that there had been tensions between several villages and a local abbey. Finally, for Carrion Moor, Augustus expressed regret for the death of Idanacht at the hands of the Moorish sorcerers, who he believed should be declared enemies of the Order.

With the news concluded, we moved onto presentations for those seeking to represent Stonehenge at the Grand Tribunal. Seven Magi applied for the three positions: Astrius, Husam, Faelon, Augustus, Liberata, Luvidicus and me. The speeches were all broadly similar, except for Liberata, who challenged the general consensus that the Order should consider declaring the Mongols to be a formal enemy. With strong support from their House, Faelon and Husam received by far the highest numbers of votes, with Astrius and Liberata tied for the final position. As Praeca, Edith exercised her right to break the tie in favour of Astrius.

Inbetween the sessions, I approached Constantine of Trevalga to enquire whether he would be willing to enchant a powerful version of the Demon’s Eternal Oblivion into the diamond-tipped wand created by Tiarnan many years ago. He expressed interest in doing so in return for some alchemical metalwork, but he noted that much of his time was devoted to supporting his House in its struggle against the Mongols, so he would need to await the vote of the Grand Tribunal to determine whether the burdens would be shared more widely. We agreed that he would contact me after the vote to confirm whether the deal would go ahead. Separately, like several others, I noticed that Primus Erin had been rather quiet during the Tribunal meeting, and I subsequently learned that he had suffered an episode of twilight.

The final item of note was that we were approached by a newly gauntleted Maga, Erla, filia Gilda, of House Ex Miscellanea, who indicated that she was interested in applying to join Severn Temple. We agreed that she would accompany us back to the covenant so that we could discuss her application in more detail. All of us returned directly to the covenant, except for Maximus, who travelled to Oakham Vale on some personal business.

Autumn

The Council once again met with the four members in attendance. We decided to invite Maga Erla to remain at Severn Temple for the season so we would have a better chance to get to know her. We then agreed that, given the likelihood of increased troop movements in south Wales, my covenant service would be changed from exploring Mynydd Myddyn to enchanting an item that will make it easier to collect the Ignem and Perdo vis, both of which lie in subterranean caverns filled with noxious fumes. Husam announced that he planned to spend the season in Bristol, Astrius agreed to extract Vim vis on behalf of the covenant and Maximus decided to learn a spell from the library.

[Lysimachus’ private journal: My attempts to find out more about Erla met with only limited success. Though polite enough, she was vague and unforthcoming on most topics, and it was difficult to elicit her opinions without turning it into an interrogation. Such reticence may be a natural consequence of her sheltered upbringing, but if the other Magi had the same experience, I find it hard to believe that her application will be successful.]

Later in the season, Alannus arrived with news from across the Tribunal. He announced that the armies of Daffyd ap Gwynedd controlled the north of Powys, with those of De Percy, following a victory over Pembroke, controlling the south. Both forces were expected to return home to winter, with a resumption of hostilities likely in the spring. Senior Quaesitor Luvidicus reminded Magi about getting involved in this mundane conflict given the possible impact on covenants close to the fighting. Alannus also announced that the strikes mentioned earlier in the year had turned to violence, as workers had been forced to return to their trades despite their wishes. In Hermetic news, Alannus informed us that a newly gauntleted Maga, Phaedra, filia Arcanus, follower of Criamon, had been presented to her House meeting and planned to visit Severn Temple next season to apply for membership. In addition, he provided details of the senior redcap of the Hibernian Tribunal, Maga Floridia of Glencoghlea covenant, who we plan to approach for assistance with investigating the activities of the diabolists in Dublin.

Winter

As the first item of business, the Council voted unanimously to invite Erla to join our number. She accepted, signed the charter and took her place on the Council.

[Lysimachus’ private journal: Despite my inability to find out anything of consequence about Erla, the other Magi all strongly advocated her candidacy. Husam was the most forthright, arguing that she would give the Council access to a more diverse range of magical traditions. Astrius agreed, and noted that she would also provide a different viewpoint given that she had spent almost all of her life outside covenants. Maximus was just as enthusiastic, claiming she was a young and naïve soul who required help and protection. I asked them how they could possibly know this given her closed demeanour, but they all seemed to have reached clear conclusions, so perhaps she was more open with them than with me. Given I did not have any real impression, either positive or negative, I did not feel it would be fair to veto her candidacy in the face of such strong support, so I agreed to vote in favour. I do hope we have not made a terrible mistake.]

Husam then told us an alarming tale of his activities in Bristol. It seems that his erstwhile ally, Girardino, has betrayed us, and the only question is whether this is a recent turn of events, or whether he has been working with the diabolists since the beginning. Earlier in autumn, Husam had raided a warehouse used by the diabolists, where he discovered that the packing crates unloaded from the Ain Fian contained human blood. He also took an arcane connection, which he and Constantius periodically used to spy on the place using the Mirror of Far Seeing. Several weeks after his break-in, Husam heard a voice he recognised, that of the vampire Dougal, who he had believed dead following an ambush set up by Girardino. Suspecting he had been betrayed, Husam arranged a meeting with Girardino close to Keynsham, but the Veronese did not show up, sending one of his men, the inappropriately named Big Roger, as a spy in his place. Husam and Astrius interrogated Roger, which revealed that Girardino had grown suspicious that his activities might have been detected after Dougal confronted him angrily shortly after he detected that the blood in the warehouse had been tampered with. Husam and Astrius released Roger, hoping that he would lead them to Girardino, but it seems that he has gone to ground, for he no longer frequents his previous haunts.

The Council discussed how best to respond to these events. Astrius and Maximus challenged Husam’s decision to keep the knowledge that Girardino had previously been working with Dougal a secret from the Council. Husam admitted that it had partly been due to embarrassment at his own involvement, but that he had genuinely believed that Girardino had seen the error of his ways and that the matter had been resolved when he ‘killed’ Dougal. The Council concluded that we needed to find out more about how actively Girardino had been cooperating with the White Lady and whether the diabolists now knew about all of our previous plans, particularly those involving Dublin. We also agreed that Husam should continue to lead our efforts in Bristol, though there must be full transparency over any suspicions about diabolic activity in the city.

The season of winter proved to be quiet. The only item of note was that Maga Phaedra arrived towards the end of the season. She seems to be a delightful sort, with a wide appreciation of magical phenomena and a particular interest in the Nature of Form. I do hope that we can convince her to apply for formal membership of the Council next year.



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