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Scribed by Justinian

Spring 1275AD

We met at dawn in the council chamber and, just like in the corners of the room, I was trying to shake the cobwebs from my head (as usual at our early meetings). The first order of business was listening to Maga Hypatia and then voting on accepting her to the covenant. Although there was no reason for any of us to reject her, Astrius, traditional as ever, requested she make a formal speech. She announced she was fillia Olafsson and of house Ex miscellanea, then went on to describe how she considered Severn Temple her home and that a lot of her family (going back generations) had also called these stone walls their home as well. I remembered the first time I had met her, how shy and innocent she had been but with a keen intellect even as a child.

Gnaeus asked what power she now had due to her special training in the Crystal Caves and she said that she had the ability to walk in the magical realm (as evidenced by her arrival behind the door in the great hall); that the lords and ladies of the fae would talk to her rather than attack her, and might help her due to her position. She went on to say that she had the ability to call on the power of the magical realm to influence and defeat creatures of that realm or the mundane realm (I remembered the great beast we detected coming up from the depths of the magical realm not many years ago). She retired to allow us to vote (which was again a tradition of Severn Temple). The council was unanimous in agreement and she was readmitted to be a full member of Severn Temple.

We then went on to discuss Ptolemaeus and what we might do to rescue him from his imprisonment by the Templars. Gnaeus wisely suggested that we seek the help of other Magi in Stonehenge and we were all in agreement. We agreed to suspend the meeting until the Pontifex had visited Arcanus and Acerbia in Blackthorn that day. A few hours later he returned with the news that Arcanus, Acerbia, Faelon, Laurius and Olafsson would meet here for a discussion later in the week. Husam asked to know who the unnamed magus was, so he could check the veracity of the evidence and Astrius said he would consider revealing their identity. (private journal: I am not sure that Astrius will tell Husam as Felicia did ask to keep her participation anonymous due to the fact that, if there was a conspiracy in house Guernicus, her position would be compromised). Hypatia said she would investigate the Baron of Ipswich this season as covenants service and was told that it was the Bishop of Colchester who discovered the ancient document that legally enabled the Baron to increase the taxes. She said she would investigate the Bishop as well. I proposed to train my apprentice and, if needed, to be allowed to assist on the mission to Tomar to free my Primus. All but Husam voted in favour (he abstained). Astrius reminded me that this was the last season of my excordis. Husam also suggested that Hypatia learn of our spy network this season in case anything happened to him in Tomar.

During the week the invited magi arrived and were quartered around the covenant, then we had a meeting to discuss our plans (private journal: They requested to know the sources of our information and I admitted to this small group of magi my ability to divine the future). The whole story was discussed and we convinced them of the veracity of our claims. Faelon invited us all to become Hoplites to protect us in case of criticism; which was a very brave decision. It was decided that Lysimachus, Husam, Faelon and myself would search the grounds of the castle looking for the dungeon we assumed Ptolemaeus would be incarcerated in. For a long time we discussed the various contingencies if we were discovered and decided to use hand signals to minimise the chances of us being found. Once we had rescued Ptolemaeus, we would retreat in an orderly manner and break off the fight. We also agreed that Arcanus and Gnaeus would wait on the ship until we had returned; then we could return on our ship whilst they continued to their house meeting on the Mercere ship.

To Tomar: Our grand party journeyed across the bay of Biscay - in quick order thanks to the enchantments upon both vessels - and after only four days we made landfall north of Lisbon in a very pretty bay. The others disembarked but, due to my desire not to climb into the rowing boat, I foolishly decided to fly off the ship and was rewarded by a loose rope hitting me in the side of the head. Luckily it did not hurt and I was able to make it to shore without further incident. We travelled at night and rested during the day to avoid observation by the local populace. Husam scouted ahead as an owl during the night and managed not to lead us into any villages or patrols. We approached Tomar and our progress was slowed due to being forced to detour in order to avoid the more cultivated areas. We established a base camp, which Husam said was about fifteen miles from Tomar, in a large copse which had no people within sight or sound.

The First Scouting of Tomar

Husam in his owl form scouted the grounds and spotted that they now had huge mastiffs walking with the patrols around the castle. He was also able to accurately map the stronghold from the air, which would make our infiltration easier. With the knowledge that there were hounds in the courtyards, we decided to use magics to remove our scent, make our footsteps silent and allow each other to see through our illusions for the duration of a moon. This was accomplished using vis and casting more powerful magnitude spontaneous spells. We flew into what looked like a horse training area and started our reconnaissance. We used magic to pass through a portcullis to avoid the noise, if raised mundanely, from alerting our enemy.

In one of the quads, as Lysimachus moved to the upper floor we spotted a patrol entering the quad. We all hid and luckily they did not see us. I did notice however, with my second sight, that the dog had glowing red eyes. With my knowledge of the occult, I recognised the beast as a fabled hellhound; a demon in canine form. It seemed not to spot us and the patrol moved on. I waited in trepidation, waiting for the alarm to sound; but luckily our hiding seemed to evade its senses. We spread out and checked the balconies in pairs to speed up our search. One quad after another were cleared and no stairs down were found. Finally in one quad we found a refectory, kitchen, stores and some stairs descending. Husam and Faelon took some arcane connections to the surface near an old olive tree as they deemed it a satisfactory place to apport to. We examined the stairs, progressed carefully down them and found a locked door at bottom. Lysimachus cast a spell which allowed him to look through the wall but stated that it was pitch black within. Husam opened the door silently and we entered quickly, closing the door behind us. Lysimachus then cast a very gentle light and we saw that we were in a wine cellar with no other exits. After a rest we returned to the surface upstairs. Husam decided to return to the base in the woods to make final plans, so we retraced our steps to the horse training area and flew back.

Back in the woods we discussed various plans and it was decided that, if we had to fight in the Grandmaster’s quad, Astrius would block the entry points with webs to slow down the ability of the Templars to reinforce themselves. We cast spells to allow the other magi to see through our illusions. Lysimachus seemed to have a problem casting his spell on Olafsson. Even when he finally said he had cast it, Olafsson could not see through any of our illusions. However, it was decided to continue and accept the risk.

The Assault

We four flew into Tomar again, just after the darkest hour, and moved stealthily through the portcullis. We crossed quickly to the Grandmaster’s quad. It should have been simple, but something went wrong. Before we knew what was happening the demon dogs heard us and bayed in alarm. The guards released the hounds and followed quickly after to catch those who would invade their stronghold. Husam bravely held the corner against a rushing hellhound on his own and Lysimachus opened a hole in a wall of the Grandmaster’s quad. To be honest, I panicked a bit and needed direction; should I have raised a ward against demons around Husam or Lysimachus? Husam gave the order that we were to go through the hole in the wall that Lysimachus was holding open. I rushed past him under a tapestry and was immediately hit by a Templar on the other side. Luckily, I was invisible and maneuvered to the side; casting ‘confusion of the numbed will’ on him. Faelon followed me into the room - which was lucky as two Templars rushed inside from the open door opposite. Husam and Lysimachus bravely fought the dogs with sword and staff. Disaster struck when Lysimachus got bitten to the bone on his leg; blood rushing from the gash on his leg. It must have been very bad because he lost concentration on his spell and the wall closed up behind us; trapping us inside with three knights.
Between Faelon and myself we managed to incapacitate the three knights; first they were blinded then I confused them. In the silence that followed, I heard chanting from upstairs and knew it was the Grandmaster summoning the angelic demon I had seen in my vision. Outside, I later learned that another hound came in and, outmatched and outnumbered, my sodales fought for as long as they could but eventually the hounds overwhelmed them. Magus Lysimachus, filius Acantha, discipulus Bonisagus, my best friend and Magus Husam member of Ex Miscellanea were slain. I would like to pause here for a moment to say that I have prayed, every night, from then to this day, and promise to pray till my last day, that the almighty and all merciful God scoops up these giants of men into his bosom. I will miss my friends for forever and a day.

A few moments after their passing, Olafsson and Astrius came around the corner and applied nearly three hundred years of magical might between them to the hounds and Templars. Astrius cast multiple lightning bolts into the hounds till all was left was smears of charcoal on the floor. Olafsson killed one man with a back swipe of his hammer and then brought it forward, screaming “creo auram”, and struck the last man in the chest, vapourising him instantly. Laurius moved around the quad, scattering the men charging into the Grandmaster’s quad with fire pouring forth from his fingers. At Faelon’s suggestion we barred the door to prevent any further knights entering and with a few massive blows of his warhammer, Olafsson broke down the wall separating us.

Astrius immediately went upstairs and saw the Grandmaster engulfed in flame. He slew him with a skillfully aimed lightning bolt, however it was too late! Just as at Cotterley, where the knights had martyred themselves to summon the fallen angel, so had the Grandmaster at Tomar. The demon slowly appeared as smoke; pulling a physical form from the ether and the bloody, broken remains of the master. Astrius gathered a massive amount of vis in his hands and cast a lightning bolt to rival Zeus' famed bolts. The demon attempted to parry with its sword but, because of the sheer power, the spell still blackened its hand; fake flesh peeling from fake bones. The demon rapidly healed its wounds; using its infernal power without even thinking about it. It closed the range, wielding its flaming sword. When Astrius’ dragon sword Tetheryn and the demon’s flaming golden sword clashed, everyone in Tomar heard and paused for a second. Red flames dripped from the demon’s sword, flames powerful enough to melt the iron stairs, but had as much effect against the Archimagus of Flambeau as a candle. The same could not be said for the icy, blue burning fire that dripped from Tetheryn. It burned as it was smeared across the demon's body by the blows Astrius applied. Each time the demon used its infernal power to heal itself but, not being used to being hurt, it howled in agony and redoubled its blows against Astrius. The demon looked doomed to fail but then satan must have reached up from hell and twisted Astrius’ ankle, for the demon got a clean blow and knocked Astrius unconscious. However, any joy the demon might have gathered was short lived; as the dragon spirit took over Astrius’ body and fought on.

Whilst this was happening, Faelon and myself found some stairs leading down and we descended to search for Ptolemaeus. Our path was blocked by a bound wooden door. I cast a spell to rot the door, but to our shock a demonic knight was waiting. I quickly cast a ward to protect us. With the minor demon unable to penetrate the ward, we slew it with Damnat and ‘demons eternal oblivion’. Moving further, Faelon detected a regio and using ‘glimpse through the mystic veil’ I surveyed the horror beyond: I saw a torture chamber with two minor demons and one which looked powerful enough to penetrate my ward if we engaged it. Faelon suggested we get one of the martial magi from upstairs to protect us. I concurred so we ascended the stairs into what looked like hell itself.

As we arrived upstairs Astrius, possessed by Tetheryn, and the demon fell through to our level as their floor collapsed due to the horrific fires from the demon’s sword. The way was clear to the hole that Olafsson was standing in (guarding against any further Templar activity) but it looked as if Laurius had attracted all the attention outside with his use of fire around the quads. Olafsson turned and ran towards the inferno to engage alongside Astius in a final effort to destroy the demon. To assist, I called on the Lord to intercede via the devotion of Damnat and caused the demon to flinch. In response to this, as well as fending off two of the most able warriors in the order, it swept its arm causing the inferno to engulf the room. The fires licked over me, flattening my parma and burning my clothes, hair and skin to a black crisp. Faelon fared only slightly better, but was able to make his escape by apporting back to our base in the woods. I too retreated from the flames, drinking one of Erla’s healing potions whilst I considered my next actions. I realised I could not see the demon without re-entering the flames and that standing in the fire would stop me from concentrating on my devotion. So, with limited options, I decided to flee. I rolled through the flame and was lucky that my ‘gift of bears fortitude’ protected me from the heat this time. Once through the hole, I was shocked to see my deceased sodales under a pile of knights and hellhound corpses. I stood there for a second, trying to process the fact, but then the roar of battle behind reminded me that I was not safe. So, I too retreated via the air to our base camp. I was later to learn that between them, they almost defeated the demon; who was forced to abandon its physical form and flee. At that point, Astrius’ body fell as Tetheryn lost its grasp upon him. Olafsson carefully sheathed the sword and retreated with the body alongside Laurius.

The Retreat

Back in the woods, I hid my blackened skin with a muto corporem spell (so none might be shocked by my horns). I went then to Faelon and asked him what we should do. He stated that we should wait till morning and then fly back to the ship. Later that night, just before dawn, Olafsson and Laurius flew back with Astrius’ battered, burnt and bleeding body.

I tried to help him with the skills that Blanche had taught me, but as dawn arrived his breath rattled from his body and he lay still. Thus died Astrius filius Garius discipulus Flambeau, defender of the west, champion of the Morrigan, druid of the old gods, slayer of dragons, and my sodalis. We retreated to the ship with Astrius’ body and informed Gnaeus and Arcanus. They both grieved with us and, after a short discussion, both Criamon decided that they would return to Stonehenge Tribunal with us to answer all questions the senior quaesitor would surely have. We sailed home quickly, ignoring all other ships, and disembarked at Lydney. Olafsson refused a cart for Astrius’ body and carried it personally back to Severn Temple.

To Home

Once home, we met with Hypatia and the sad tale was recounted. We all grieved again; it felt like a cold dagger in my stomach and a darkness in my head - for we have lost so much! Hypatia led the way to the Morrigan’s hill whence we placed the body of Astius with his dragon sword. The powerful dark spirit appeared at Hypatia’s plea and without word claimed her champion; whose spirit would now be in Arawn’s halls according to his beliefs.

We thence returned home to the covenant and I to my sanctum where I now write this journal. May God cherish the souls of my fallen sodales and may they find relief from life's pains and worries in the Heaven each and every one of them deserves.

Summer

We met on the cold morning, which reflected the feelings in my heart for my friends were dead and gone.

We discussed the position of Pontifex and who might take it. As eldest I volunteered to take the position and Gnaeus agreed, however, Hypatia thought that at the tribunal if I am accused it could look bad on the covenant and I should consider the ramifications. After careful consideration, I felt that I should still take the position and did so. My first action was to appoint Gnaeus as ministrator as he is often in the covenant and Hypatia was away dealing with mundane affairs. We agreed that I would go to Blackthorn and send out a notice via the Redcaps to make a request for recruits to replace our lost sodales and maintain our covenant as a spring summer covenant. I also sent letters to the Primi to inform them of the deaths of Lysimachus and Astrius. We agreed that Gnaeus would cast the aegis after the council meeting and although he was nervous he was keen to give it a try. To power the next aegis Gnaeus agreed to extract Vim vis as covenant service and Hypathia agreed to do a second season learning the spy network from our spymaster lucky Samuel. I stated that I would send for items to be made to enable our new Magi to travel more easily. Hypathia decided to move into Lysimachus' lab as it had the better quality equipment.

The aegis was cast successfully, and we were all relieved that the covenant would still have its magical protection. I traveled to Blackthorn where I met Arcanus and discussed the fallout of the raid on Tomer. He informed me of the arrest of quaesitor Faelon and that he had been charged with a breach of the primary code. Faelon has taken all responsibility upon himself for the raid and not revealed the source of the vision that started the hunt for Ptolemeus. Arcanus and Olafson will have to explain themselves at next grand tribunal in 1295, Laurius and I will have to explain ourselves at the tribunal. Arcanus also informed me that the skull taken from the abbey was confirmed as that of Ptolemeus by the quaesitori of Mag Villas, which must mean that infernal magics were involved or there is a conspiracy to hide the truth. I returned swiftly to Severn Temple to continue to educate my apprentice.

Acerbia arrived a few weeks later with disturbing news. The new Grandmaster of the Knights Templar had travelled to Rome seeking an audience with the Pope, We discussed the ramifications but all we could do was speculate.

Near the end of the season, my recruitment letter bore fruit and a magus Terentius filius Constantine discipulus Tremere came to join us which cheered me a little as staring at the empty seats at council just brought back bad memories. I suggested he read the lore of the covenant from the journal and eat with us so we could get a feeling for what each other was like and whether he would fit in with us.

Autumn

Council started with discussing Terentius application and what we thought of the man. All were in agreement that he seemed an excellent addition to the covenant and after he had formally Applied and we had unanimously voted in favour he swore the oath and joined the council and covenant. He agreed to learn the spy network as the first of his two seasons which was good as we need news of what is happening around the covenant and further afield.

Our spies brought us local new which seemed a bit odd there had been a child abduction from the village of Coleford but when the mother went into the bedroom to investigate a blackbird was seen on the open window sill.

Volutus filius Presulis discipulus Bonisagus from the Singing Stones covenant of the Normandy tribunal near the mountains are known as the Alps applied to join our Covenant and we again suggested he read the lore of the place from the Journal to see if this was the sort of place he would want to join.

Winter

The council assembled in the first dawn of winter and discussed local issues. Another child had been taken from the village of Coleford and we decide if and how we can investigate the matter. We ended up setting our spymaster Lucky Samuel to investigate the matter mundanely. Terentius said he would scribe some of his spells as a seasons service this winter, he also stated that he did not want the acorns from the heart of the forest and I proposed that we plant them in memory of Astrius around the Dean which was agreed by all.

A few weeks into the season Lucky discovered that no more children had gone missing and the disappearances have been evenly spaced, not on an occult or auspicious day and the only one he could get an exact date on was right in the middle of the village making eyes of the past very dangerous and difficult to cast without being detected.by the dogs in the village.

Midseason Acerbia arrived with letters for me from Primus Olafson and Voressio the Verditius.

At the end of the season, we had a visitor from Novgorod tribunal. Magus Jari Alfarson Filius Steria discipulus Merinita arrived with two companions called Erik and Sigurd. We again suggested he read the lore of the place from the Journal to see if this was the sort of place he would want to join. I broached the subject to Volutus of him becoming the connection between us covenant bound magi and magi who live outside the covenant, I felt that it would be a good use of his talents and assist those who might need help, also it would build a bond of friendship between our covenant and those magi which could be useful in the future.The steward returned with a nice opal for the cloak I will enchant before sending it away to Voressio.
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