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Scribed by Astrius

Spring 1259 AD

The Spring council began with a discussion of the broken staff and its implications. Of prime concern was what it meant regarding Amabilia. Is she dead? Fled? Hiding in some deep, dark part of the forest? It certainly indicates that she is likely significantly weakened so we agreed that an expedition would be mounted in Summer to the faerie regio to try and track her down. Given the nature of the black iron bound about the staff, there was a brief question as to whether the remnants of the staff were still tainted but Maximus thinks not.

I agreed to spend Spring in Lydney as part of our ongoing protection of that settlement, critical as it is now to our mundane finance and supplies. Our efforts to reinforce our mundane resources continued with the agreement to order the construction of a new covenant barge for the sum of 500d from the boatyard in Chepstow. It should, all being well, be ready for the start of
Autumn

Next, was the issue of finding a replacement for our Captain whose leadership abilities, never as great as we had hoped, are in increasingly plain decline. We agreed to seek a successor from Trevalga, in return for a hopefully relatively modest payment, for they are reputed to have a fine turb and train their men-at-arms well. Of other note, Maximus announced that he will begin binding his familiar in Summer, after first agreeing to extract vim vis for the covenant in Spring.

Later that season, we made the short journey to Blackthorn for the emergency tribunal meeting to try Augustus for his attack on Maximus and apparent treasonous alliance with the Brothers in Christ. The evidence against him was stark. Maximus gave full account of Augustus’s assault upon him. Given Augustus’s age and martial prowess, Maximus surviving such a close range surprise attack as he described, seemed barely credible. I can only think Augustus was overconfident and Maximus extremely lucky, there was certainly no hint in the Quaesitor’s account of Augustus seeking merely to scare him off. Elicia then recounted the results of her covenant’s investigation into its former Pontifex. Constantine can take no blame for being tricked by Augustus into waiting without while Augustus went inside the Moorstow caves, but it seems that such ruse allowed Augustus to destroy all the spirits of the slain monks so that they could not be interrogated for the Brothers in Christ’s secrets. However, Ludovidicus’s investigation of the head of the one monk that Constantine had kept with him uncovered further evidence of Augustus’s guilt. It seems that Augustus’s horse familiar alerted the Brothers as to the tribunal ruling declaring them enemies about 5 years ago, not long after the ruling was made.

Given the danger that Augustus poses, great effort has been made to locate him. Loraticus of Carrion Moor traced a man, whom he believes likely Augustus with familiar in tow, to a ship that left the port Exmouth in the early Autumn of last year, bound for the continent. Ludovidicus has informed the Senior Quaesitori of the Western continental tribunals of what has happened, though I do not hold out much hope of them revealing aught.

Of the 3 monks still in the deeper regio within the cave complex, no sign has been found despite extensive and lengthy searches by Liberata. Of the laboratory that was found there, Ludovidicus reported that it doesn’t seem to date back to the time when Moorstow was still a covenant and appears to be an unholy mixture of hermetic and infernal practices. The handwriting within the tomes does not match that of any magus from Stonehenge and given the writer’s knowledge of hermetic art he thinks it unlikely the writer was one of the Brothers in Christ. Maximus suggested that it could be Ieuan.

Before moving to the vote, Ludovidicus apologised to the tribunal for his tardiness in investigating Moorstow. He claimed, not altogether unreasonably, that matters relating to the destroyed covenants of Oakham Vale and Moorstow had kept him busy. Unsurprisingly given the weight of evidence, there was a unanimous vote for Augustus’s guilt and he was duly Renounced. Ludovidicus requested that if Augustus was slain his body was to be brought to Blackthorn. He reminded the tribunal that the ghosts of magi, especially old and powerful ones, can be dangerous.

Astrius’s secret journal
I wonder how many other Christian magi are in contact with the Brothers in Christ? It baffles and frustrates me intensely that the Christian faith is held in much higher esteem across the Order than mine, although it seeks naught but the destruction of magic, yet my pagan Gods, who actively strengthen the magical and the faerie realms, are held in contempt or derided as mere ‘spirits’! On a brighter note, on the way home from the tribunal I called in on Magus Tewdric and picked up the batch of non-magical herbal blade venom he had created for me. A welcome addition to our arsenal against Damhain Allaidh and the Renounced Merinitans.


My mood was lightened after we returned to the covenant and found that the Spring once more produced creo vis on the Spring Equinox.

Summer

Lysimachus reported to council that he had spoken to Alicia regarding a suitable new captain and that, following Augustus’s sudden and unexpected disappearance, Trevalga’s financial situation had taken an abrupt turn for the worse. Thus, a payment of silver would suffice for a well-trained sergeant-at-arms. One of us will call at Trevalaga in Autumn to pick from a few appropriate candidates, likely Lysimachus again. There was little else to discuss other than mine and Lysimachus’s foray into the faerie realm to hunt for Amabilia, save for Erla agreeing to conduct her studies into herbam in Lydney rather than the covenant.

In hindsight, we had perhaps become too emboldened by our victory over Amabilia’s forces in the dark faerie woods near the Morrigan’s Hill. We set off single-file into the faerie regio, well provisioned with wards and items. I led the party, with Lysimachus at the rear, and my apprentice Constanza in the middle and three shield grogs to protect the party. Despite the warm summer sun that had shone on us as we walked through the forest, the lower levels of the regio were icy cold and the deeper level was fully in winter, with snow underfoot and swirling about us.

The Erechwydd’s attack when it came was sudden and overwhelming. I counted I think eight ice goblins, four dark earth knights and four ice giants. I managed to get off a ‘Circle of Encompassing Flames’ that warded off first wave of goblins and burnt a couple of the knights, but I was soon surrounded by both knights and giants and was smashed to the ground by a fierce blow from a giant’s club to my back that knocked the wind from me and broke a few ribs. It proved all-but impossible to cast further ignem magics when the air all around flashed with the weapons of my enemies. Behind me things were going even worse, Lysimachus was badly wounded, as were two of the grogs and only Constanza and Spurling were still standing. The thought of Arawn’s hall flashed briefly before my mind as I fought to rise, only to see the faerie mockery of Njall advancing. I called him a coward for waiting until his mistress’s minions had beaten us and, acting the role, he called the faeries off.

In the brief respite I caught sight of the Erechwydd a little way off ahead and her face twisted in a cruel smile as she demanded that we yield or die. There was no hope of victory but I was briefly tempted to apport behind her and then let fly at her with my most potent ignem magics before she could find me. Yet such an option, however appealing, would almost certainly result in the deaths of Lysimachus, Constanza and the grogs, so, with great reluctance I shouted back that I would yield if she would let my companions go. She agreed at once and I cast my sword to the ground. As I was led away, arms held firm by the giants, I felt a flicker of paternal pride I watched Constanza lead the battered group back through the snows.

Happily, as Constanza subsequently recounted to me, they were able to leave the regio unmolested and returned safely to the covenant, where Lysimachus was rushed to the infirmary. On hearing of my capture, Daedalus flew to Cad Gadu to speak with Archimaga Sorrentia. She returned quickly with her, and, after speaking with Lysimachus, she flew off into the faerie regio. She was there for two weeks before returning to speak with those magi present. The Erechwydd had told her that she would only free me when the Crown of Madh was on the head of one of Aeddan’s heirs. Thus, for now at least, I would be remaining within her icy realm.

Autumn

It was a reduced council that met in Autumn, with neither me nor Maximus present. Lysimachus, still suffering a little from his wounds, told council that he had a potential solution but could not yet speak of it for fear of dire consequences. The three other magi unanimously backed their sodalis to act as he believed best.

Astrius’s private journal
I found out when I returned that Lysimachus’s secret solution involved a secret trip to London to fetch his apprentice “Emma”, Queen Eleanor’s daughter by Urbanus. “Emma” will be mundanely presented as the daughter of the Chancellor’s recently deceased sister, it being too complicated and dangerous for one of Eleanor’s heirs to reside openly with him.


Talk then turned to a motion from Erla who was sore aggrieved that Archimaga Sorrentia had used rego mentem magics upon Blanche, who she reminded council was still Renwyck’s amica. She asked for a motion of council to support Blanche’s case against Sorrentia at tribunal – save for Daedalus who has no sigil of his own. The motion was duly passed by three votes to one, with only Lysimachus dissenting. There was little else to discuss, Lydney was yet quiet, though Husam agreed to stay there over Autumn, and Daedalus cast the Aegis of Hearth without great difficulty.

A fortnight before the Equinox, Zephyrus arrived bearing news from the meeting of House Guernicus in Summer, though there was apparently little of hermetic import arising from it. There have been diabolists causing pestilences and famines in the North of the Rome tribunal, and, more mundanely, a new book “De Laude Novae Militiae” by Bernard of Clairveaux is proving popular as a justification for the use of force of arms and monastic orders to spread Church influence and power.

Of more interest were the reports from the East that my House meeting had failed to find Latou, the shaman who we believe directs the Eastern dragons. Those creatures have been sighted attacked castles in Northern Novgorod, in the kingdoms of Lithuania and Poland, just 40 or so leagues from the Eastern edge of the Rhone tribunal. However, although unable to track down and slay Latou, House Flambeau was able to wreak bloody havoc upon the Horde’s armies in the East and have captured one of its senior commanders, though how much of a dent such slaughter will make to such an enormous army is unclear.

Later in the season, a fortnight after the Equinox, the trees in our glade burst in blossom, as did the orchard in Lydney and there were reports of figures matching the description of Gofannon and Nynniaw appearing, along with a bwbachod. By our Spring, it seems that we were visited by Llyr and Llugh, all of the figures were seen to turn briefly in the direction of the covenant and then disappeared. In Lydney, Husam witnessed a very large boar tide, with the form of a boar clearly visible within the roiling waters. He reassured the villagers that the happenings were all a great blessing and a good omen. The covenant folk needed no such encouragement and spontaneous celebrations broke out.

Meanwhile, deep in the faerie regio, the walls of the icy cell in which I was being held prisoner cracked, revealing a single corridor leading to the Erechwydd’s throne room. There sat the Queen of Snows and as I entered she proclaimed that the King had returned, and the lineage was restored. With that my blades were returned to me (though not even the frost Njall would touch the Tetheryn) and I was free to go. Before I left, the Erechwydd offered an alliance against the dark forces that beset us both, and specifically her help in finding Amabilia. I said I would speak with the council but thought that it would be of benefit to both of us. I arrived back in Severn Temple that night.

Astrius’s private journal
Lysimachus and I had a long private conversation that evening. He told me that he had given the crown to Urbanus’s daughter, Eleanor (who took it as freely as a child may take such things). He told me that he had kept the details from council for fear of alerting those who had murdered Aeddan and Urbanus, though of course Husam also knew. We discussed whether or not to share all we knew with the rest of council and though we had grave concern about letting Maximus know, for fear of him passing tales, accidentally or not, to his pater or, much worse, his Primus, after long debate we agreed we would tell all.


The next morning, I called an informal council meeting with me, Lysimachus, Daedalus and Erla and there we told them of all that had gone on with the retrieval of the Crown of Madh from Iberia, and the subsequent crowning of little Eleanor. We outlined the reasons for our secrecy, most notably the fear that word would escape, accidentally or not, alerting those who murdered Aeddan and held the crown. Erla was remarkably unfazed by the revelations, but Daedalus was much aggrieved, stating that we had broken faith with him and the council by keeping such important matters secret from him for such a longperiod of time. It was clear from his words that he will seriously consider his position at this covenant as a result, though we asked him to reconsider.

Winter

As I had feared, Daedalus promptly called for a vote permitting him to leave the covenant and reluctantly such motion was passed unanimously, though none, save perhaps Erla, wanted him to go.

Astrius’s private journal
Daedalus’s decision was to leave was very disappointing, but maybe if he’ll give up his membership so quickly then we’re better off without him.


With that sad business concluded, Lysimachus presented Sergeant Tristram to the council, obtained for the sum of 350d from Trevalga. He seems like a promising leader and I told the Captain, who seems to grow ever more befuddled with every passing week, that Tristram would be replacing him by the end of the year. Whether he entirely grasped this is unclear. Tristram will have to be a quick learner!

With the council meeting concluded, Lysimachus, Sergeant Conal, Spurling and I set off once more into the faerie regio to speak with the Erechwydd. Once we reached the second level of the regio and stood upon the snow there I called out for her. She swiftly came, with frost Njall, two knights, a giant and several ice goblins. It sounded a little strange to be addressed by her with a smile and a “Well met ally.” But we soon got down to the business of how to slay Amabilia. Unsurprisingly she is not hiding anywhere touched by snows, “twisted by shadows” as she is and the Erechwydd believes she is hiding in the realm of snakes. She suggested she take us there but I refused point blank, remembering Theo’s deeply unpleasant experience of that place and it’s mistress.

After some back and forth, we agreed that the Erechwydd would speak forcibly with the Queen of Snakes and have her minions drive out Amabilia into an ambush we would set. She bade us return at the start of Spring and so we returned home, hopeful that before too long we shall be revenged upon the enemy who has plagued us so these past few years.
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