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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1249 AD

Details of the Spring council were related to me by Magus Lysimachus, the ministrator, when I returned a couple of days later, Aeddan being also still away. Husam reported that Urbanus had taken a mundane wife and thus queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her holdings in France are apparently sizeable and will expand the realm of England significantly. Meanwhile, Urbanus’s war is going well, the Scots have been soundly beaten by York and Gwynedd appears to be on the retreat. There is, it seems, a good chance that peace lies ahead. Meanwhile, in Bristol, he has set agents to watch Girardino’s right hand man “Roger”.

Lysimachus reported that Magus Arcanus had arrived in the covenant as invited and, after reading a little of our journal, was keen to visit Mynydd Myrddyn. Arcanus apparently has a spell, analogous to ‘Greeting the Maker’ that he would like to use to investigate the past magics in that site. I called for a formal vote to permit him to do such and with the exception of an abstention from Erla, all were in favour.

After some discussion as to what items would be best created for our stores, Daedalus agreed to spend Spring investing a rook and a half of vis in an iron dagger with a small sapphire in the pommel. The dagger will be imbued with intellego vim enchantments to help magi better assess any aurae and regios they may encounter on their travels. Maximus will place the enchantment ‘Sense the Elusive Boundary’ into the device in Summer.

Lysimachus and Husam set plans to travel to Dublin in Summer, on covenant service, to finally pursue the leads we have long suspected may lead to a further nest of Fells there, maybe even Guyere himself. Finally, Erla requested, and was granted, approval to hunt for the birds in the lower level of the faerie regio whose tail feathers provide auram vis – a contested covenant vis source.

Astrius’s private journal

Although I felt better for my rest in the Anu’s glade and her comforting words, the grief at the loss of Maelgwyn was still all too fresh when I returned to the covenant – it feels as though a part of my spirit has been ripped away.


A few weeks after the council, Senior Quaesitor Ludovidicus arrived at the covenant, en route to Narwold. He met with me and Maximus to discuss the situation, deciding that my services as hoplite would not be needed, but that Maximus would serve as an investigative hoplite to help determine whether Salius was insane or maybe possessed by one of the restless spirits.

Just before the equinox, a small party of armed men arrived outside the covenant. They were well armoured and disciplined, but turned out to be no noble’s war band but men from Doissetep. They were guarding a young girl, of no more than thirteen summers, dressed in fine robes. They bore a letter from Primus Viperion, introducing her as Constanza, formerly apprentice to Magus Egredus, who perished in the fall of Coeris. Although polite and formal in manner, I sensed a confidence and strong will about her that I hope shall stand her in good stead for the hard years ahead of her. Our initial communication was a little faltering for her latin is still sketchy and her home tongue is not known to me - something called ‘Occitan’, a language from Provence I think. Nevertheless her desire to become a maga and avenge the death of her pater came across clearly! I hope she will make a fine apprentice to carry on my and Garius's line.

Summer

Erla reported that she had found a potential new vis site in the forest, a cave where a magically touched boar dwells and whose piglets contain animal vis. Although it is not clear how sustainable such a source will be, Erla believes that as long as not all of the piglets are taken each year then it is worth registering as a source. The maga was also successful in hunting down some of the birds whose tail feathers provide auram vis in the lower levels of the faerie regio. She was however rather loathe to reveal how many birds she had recovered but eventually relented when it was pointed out that it was a covenant vis site she was harvesting and said she had brought down two of the birds.

Lysimachus reported that the demon that has plagued both him and the college had reared its ugly head again and was behind a feud between two of the scholars at the King’s College. He also bore happier news – that Urbanus is now the proud father of twins, named Theo and Eleanor. He hopes that now he has an heir the warring may diminish.

Maximus told what he could of the investigations at Narwold. As Fergus had related to me last year, it seems that Salius had indeed rewritten the charter while he was the only magus present in that covenant. Maximus reported that he had spoken to Salius, apparently Salius believes that Maximus has “good eyes” and “good blood”, unlike his sodales and the likes of me. Maximus went on to suggest that Salius was referring to psychomachia when Salius spoke of his fears of people with ‘bad blood’ turning on one another when the “storm” comes. However, rather confusingly, he went on to say that this was the power that the Brothers in Christ had used on him in Gloucester Cathedral.

Nevertheless, Maximus’s conversations with Salius were apparently enough for him to rule that Salius was sane and thus legally able to make the changes he had made to Narwold’s charter. Unfortunately, this means that the changes must stand until an emergency tribunal can be called and a vote passed that the new charter is not reasonable.

Maximus had no further news of Mona, but said that he thinks she is waiting for Aeddan to lose his crown and thus an end to the King’s Peace. The Senior Quaesitor however apparently believes that this peace had been broken by her murder of Maelgwyn. I told council what I knew of Mona and the other two dark spirits, and my belief that the King’s Peace holds yet, with Aeddan regarded as the King by the three spirits. The murder of Maelgwyn was claimed by Mona under the ‘old law’ as penalty for our ‘trespass’ into her home. I will journey to Cad Gadu in Summer to see if I can learn more about the nature of Mona and the others, as well as more on the nature of the ‘King’s Peace’ and other such ‘old laws’.

There was also some discussion on our Charter and whether it could be amended by a mad or malicious member of the council if they were alone in the covenant. While it has held well for a hundred years or so, such could not be ruled out, so Maximus and Daedalus were charged to scribe a suitable amendment and present such to a future lawful council for consideration.

Husam and Lysimachus spoke on their plans for their trip to Hibernia. They will meet with Maga Floridia on the outskirts on Dublin and she will give them an overview of the city and surrounding countryside. It is their intent to start their investigations by checking harbor records to see what is recorded of the Ann Feann’s movements there, as well as gaining a feel for the city as a whole.

Astrius’s private journal

Erla was difficult and secretive, even when asked simple questions about her harvesting of a covenant vis site, albeit a contested one in her own time. She had better not turn out to be another Madoc, Edith’s filia’s filia, or no.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Salius’s belief that Maximus was a ‘good man’, presumably Salius was a closet Christian.

I presented Constanza to council at the end of the meeting, she was suitably polite but I caught a flicker of suppressed anger in her face when Erla mischievously corrected a simple latin mistake she made in her introduction.

At Cad Gadu, Primus Erin was kind enough to allow me to consult their extensive libraries on celtic legends and lore for information on Mona, Barroc and Candalo, as well as the “King’s Peace” and “old laws” relating to hospitality and the like. One problem that Erin himself pointed out was that from all that he had heard of the three spirits, they were likely to be very old, old enough that their contemporaries would have written nothing about them – at that time, such histories were passed down orally by the druids. However, if there is anything recorded about them, then Cad Gadu is as likely a place as any to hold such information.

Of Candalo, there were many stories about roguish tricksters and nothing specific enough to work with, Similarly with Barroc, there were many tales of mighty warriors whose pride or lust for their Lord’s wife had brought about their downfall and again nothing specific. It did make me wonder whether Barroc, or indeed either of the others was still prone to normal human feelings and failings though. There was a little more on dark sorceress archetypes, with one initially hopeful story about a “witch of the marsh” but that concerned a witch who appeared as a fair maiden and sought to lure men to a watery doom – hardly Mona’s modus operandi.

There was more on the ‘Law of Hospitality’, once invited in, guests cannot be harmed in any way without the host incurring the severest of penalties. Conversely, the penalties for trespass, even accidental, can be brutal too, though the legends I read were not always consistent. Clearly though, it is this that Mona was exploiting when she murdered Maelgwyn without breaking the King’s Peace.

Of that state, I found a few tales which said that the King’s Peace was something of a formal state, usually set after a conflict where former enemies of the winning side were bound to such a peace and all their holdings honoured while they held to it. If they then broke it in any way, they would lose everything, presumably up to and including their lives too if the King were so minded.

While I was in Cad Gadu, I met Magus Zephyrus, filius Leonardus, discipilus Mercere, newly assigned to the Domus Magnus from Harco. He seems like a likeable and experienced man, and also possesses the Gift, which will I imagine make him even busier than Alannus, some of whose duties he will be assuming.

I rejoined the Severn Star in Chester and we called in overnight in Holy Isle. Although McKeidh was not present, we had a brief talk with Magus Laurius, who promised me his aide in my obtaining vengeance for the death of Maelgwyn. He also reported that Holy Isle’s hunt for the black ship was proving difficult, not least because of the scale of the area to be searched, but also because of a fair degree of recalcitrance by those Ex Miscellanians dwelling in the West of Loch Legleann.

Autumn

The council meeting began with a report from Husam and Lysimachus on their initial investigations in Dublin. The city does not have the same air of menace and corruption as Bristol and mundanely is ruled with an iron fist by the Fitzwilliams, a Norman noble family who answer to the King of England. The Irish are much put upon by the English within the city and are allowed to bear no weapons, to forestall any thoughts of an Irish uprising. Maga Floredia told them that if there was a diabolic conspiracy within the city of its nobility then it is well hidden. The city itself is mostly under a Dominion aura of the 3rd magnitude, with many churches throughout the city – the Irish are apparently a religious and superstitious folk.

After a little scouting, the two magi established that the shipping records were held in a well-guarded fortified house. Apportation within proved too difficult, so they hatched a plan using Lysimachus’s terram magics to effect an entry through the building’s stone walls. With careful use of both ‘Veil of Invisibility’ and mundane stealth they were able to access the records without being detected, though it was not easy. The records showed that, unlike the once-a-year arrival in Bristol, the Ann Feann calls into Dublin several times a season and trades in tin, beer, iron, wool, livestock and wine.

Later in the season, when Maga Floredia’s travels brought her back to the city, she was able to help suggest other ports from whence the Ann Feann could have acquired such goods. Tin suggested a Cornish port and beer, which apparently spoils quite quickly, the Southeastern Irish port of Wexford. She thought it unlikely that the blood which is transported to Bristol is loaded aboard ship in Dublin, for trade is too tightly controlled and the risk of exposure too high. However, there are a myriad of small coves dotted along the coastline, both North and South of Dublin and smuggling is far from uncommon.

Lysimachus agreed to write to Augustus, the Pontifex of Trevalga covenant to ask if they have any information or contacts that could help us track down any tin shipments the Ann Feann may be involved in. Plymouth is reportedly a big town for such trading and is not so very far from that covenant. He will also look into the practicalities of using one of his water elementals to follow the ship to see where it goes, such a tail should be extremely difficult to spot, even for those with a wary eye for anything suspicious or magical.

Floredia also reported that, having kept an eye out for rumours suggestive of the infernal, that a nunnery some 7 or 8 leagues South along the coastal road from Dublin might be worth investigating. There is talk of people going missing from the area around the nunnery, the Abbé de Saint Denise. Not with great frequency, but enough for talk of it to have reached her ears. Peasants from the nearby village of Darragh Drgr are reportedly very wary of any of the nuns from the abbey and there was even tale that the local knight, Sir Ralph Montané had not only helped to track a runaway novice but had actually ridden the poor woman down. Floredia cautioned that at least some of the disappearances could be due to unseelie faeries in the area, some of which take malignant delight in using strange lights to lure travelers over the edges of the cliffs.

Finally, Husam and Lysimachus reported that Maga Floredia was convinced enough by what they and she had found to promise to raise the matter at the next meeting of the Hibernian tribunal. She will also ask whether any of the magi from covenants in the West of Hibernia recognize the name “Scathatch” – the name of Lambert’s ‘heir’ and one-time passenger on the Ann Feann. Apparently the name is an old gaelic one and not one in use in the Dublin and the surrounding lands.

With matters relating to Hibernia concluded, Aeddan, recently returned to the covenant, spoke of what he knew of the mundane situation. There was fierce fighting in Summer as Urbanus ordered the Marcher Barons to help the campaign against the renegade Prince of Gwynedd, but Aeddan hopes that the news of an heir for the King may help bring about peace. It should at the very least weaken Gwynedd’s claims. The French King Louis’s crusade in the Levant has begun with a victory as his forces have captured the Egyptian city of Damiata. The King has also apparently sent a monk as emissary to the Mongols, though there is as yet no word of how he has fared.

Aeddan also spoke a little of Urbanus’s plans to grant the Barons more powers through parliament. I sense Aeddan was perhaps less keen on this than his filius, but could at least see how such a powerful incentive could help keep them more biddable.

Urbanus, as Primus Jerbiton, has asked his House to cooperate fully with Archimagus Carnifexus’s investigation into his affairs. Hopefully, this suggests that, as Urbanus has met the Archimagus, Carnifexus is pursuing a fair investigation rather than the witch hunt we have seen also too often over recent years. Aeddan also gave us the good news that our former sodalist plans to visit the covenant this season.

Sure enough, a week or so later, the ‘King’ arrived, resplendent in his royal regalia, his emblem bearing quartered lions and dragons.

Astrius’s private journal

I spoke with Urbanus in private soon after his arrival. He has spoken with Primus Bonisagus who is not happy that the matter of Aeddan and the crown of Madh is being raised yet again. Although Primus Bonisagus cannot stop the motion raised by House Guernicus, he can control the agenda and hopefully ameliorate the worst excesses of Praetorius and his Christian co-conspirators. Urbanus was also hopeful that his House will approve a motion declaring the Brothers in Christ to be a formal enemy, though with so many Christians in House Jerbiton there is a risk it will cause a grave rift within the House. However, were they to pass such a motion, it would greatly strengthen our efforts against them and make it much harder for their allies with the Order to paint opposition to them as being limited to the ‘hairys’ to the West of the continent. Meanwhile, fears that House Guernicus’s ruling on House Bjornaer will push that House closer to a potential Schism seem real, though Urbanus said that he has spoken with Primus Bjornaer to offer his help in trying to resolve the situation. Urbanus said that he thinks Praetorius and his House are becoming ever more isolated—Primus Tremere is furious, given his careful diplomacy at the Emergency Grand Tribunal and even Viperion views what they are doing as misguided. Urbanus also confirmed that he believes Archimagus Carnifexus to be a straight and honour-bound investigator who will simply investigate the matter before him and not engage in any form of ‘witch hunt’.


Urbanus stayed for a fortnight before departing back to Lydney with his retinue. A week or so later, Archimagus Carnifexus arrived at Severn Temple with a small party comprising his apprentice, a scribe, guides and several guards. I am happy to report that he was formal but polite, and not in the least bit accusatory, and I duly granted him access to our journals from Winter 1244 onwards—the date of Urbanus’s ascension to the throne.

Astrius’s private journal

Carnifexus came to see me soon after he arrived, asking to speak Archimagus to Archimagus about how I felt about the investigation and the wider politics surrounding it. I told him frankly of my concerns and he said that they were not entirely unfounded. Carnifexus said that he himself voted against the investigation and that he knew Primus Bonisagus to be unhappy with it. While he was clearly not going to share everything with me, he was careful to state that he was not on a fishing expedition. He told me that he was in something of a tricky position with regard to his Primus, as he was honour bound to carry out that investigation as assigned, but promised that he would be a “straight arrow” while conducting it. On the matter of his researches, he asked for access to the journal records dating back to when Urbanus joined the covenant in 1231, which, reassured by his promises, he agreed to.


Archimagus’s Carnifexus’s investigations were short and to the point, not focusing on any extraneous detail, asking simply us all individually whether we knew of anything to suggest that Urbanus or Aeddan had used magics to gain or maintain their mundane positions. When answer came back negative, he simply thanked us and concluded the interview.
After some eight days of interview and reading back through our journal, Archimagus Carnifexus addressed an informal session of council and thanked us for our hospitality and cooperation. He further told us that although the investigation was still ongoing, as things stood, he believed that Urbanus had “no case to answer”.

Winter

Heavy snows lay all around the covenant and the forest as we met for the last council of the year. Erla reported that she had found more useful herbs with a magical nature that she had added to the growing herb garden. Of particular note was the rare plant ‘Mallowsweet’, which she says will work in sympathy with those seeking visions and divination—Maximus was not the only one of us to be interested in that property! With the batch of ‘Leap of Homecoming’ potions I had created, we had sufficient for each magus to be given one and four more set into covenant stores.

A few days after the equinox, a lone rider made his ways through the snows, it was the Redcap, Magus Zephyrus, but his countenance was grim when I met him at the gate and welcomed him. He said that he had dire news and asked me to call a council urgently for he had more covenants to visit and could not tarry long. Zephyrus said that a great disaster had befallen the Order, for Primus Jerbiton had been assassinated by a monk. The monk had used a knife carved from human bone and envenomed with an unknown but potent poison. There were few other details, but Zephyrus said that Archimagus Carnifexus and Senior Quaesitor Ludovidicus were actively pursuing the investigation.

True to his word, Zephyrus did not tarry and left soon afterwards. Magus Husam did likewise, seeking urgently to bear the news to Aeddan, along with the obvious warning that Brothers in Christ assassins could well be seeking him out too, as well as the potential danger he was now in from members of the Order. Maximus sought to suggest that it might not be the Brothers in Christ, but given all that we had been told, I’m not sure that even he believed what he was saying.

Astrius’s private journal

A couple of days later, Lysimachus came and asked me if Urbanus’s death meant that the King’s Peace had been broken. I reassured him that to the best of my knowledge, that role was maintained by Aeddan and thus it should still stand. After Lysimachus left I could not help but worry about Aeddan. So long as he receives warning of what has happened I believe he has the art, both mundane and hermetic to steer clear of ungifted members of the Brothers in Christ, but I fear for him if members of the Order, whether those in league with the Brothers or those vindictive and spiteful enough to seize their chance to kill a controversial figure. I can see no other way to protect him from such people than to make him my amicus, with luck, despite the inevitable furore surrounding him, being amicus to an archimagus of House Flambeau will make all but the boldest magi think twice. I just hope Husam is able to find him in time.


There was no further news to report for the remainder of the year, but it seems to me that the Brothers in Christ have made their intentions only too clear. I have little doubt that those in the Order who sympathise with the Brothers’ aims will try and suggest the assassins were just part of some minor faction and that a peace can still be achieved, but to my mind it is clear that battle lines are being drawn up and magi must choose their sides. Best they choose them wisely.



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