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Scribed by Volutus

Spring

Looking back through the pages of this journal I observe that it is not uncommon for each Magus, upon the first time that they set their quill upon these pages, to record for the future reader something of their thoughts about their new place on the council of this covenant. I then shall do no different, and I pray your good indulgences for such. In the near two centuries since the covenant of Severn Temple was re-founded it has been at the heart of many of the great events, both good and ill, of this tribunal and the wider Order of Hermes. I have taken my seat here at a time of great turmoil, for the Order has perhaps not seen such a great threat to its wellbeing since the Schism set House against House, sodales against sodales. There is great discord within our ranks, with cabals pursuing their own agendas with reckless disregard for the Oath that we have all sworn. The magi that have gone before me at this place have paid a great price, with many of those who have filled the pages of this journal having fallen at the hands of those who seek an Order united under a single faith, excluding all others, or men who have sacrificed their very souls for the power promised by Lucifer and his demonic servants. Within Stonehenge there has been great loss in more recent years, and as I travelled from covenant to covenant soon after my arrival the damage in these isles has been plain. What I have heard from my sodales within this tribunal, and have read within these very pages, fills me with both an anger and melancholy, that the goals of the founders could have been so easily forgotten in the half a millennium since the first tribunal met.

Yet still I find hope in this place. While this council has been gravely weakened by the losses of so many at Tomar, I have found good sodales here. Like so much of the rest of the Order we have our differences, but I sense a desire to concentrate on those things that unite us; learning more of the mystical secrets of our surroundings, strengthening our covenant through good service to our council and seeking allies from those around us who would fight against those others who would, by their actions, bring the Order to ruin. For myself I see a path within this tribunal, to travel amongst my fellows and seek to bring some greater unity once more and by offering my arts and resources to help replace that which we have lost. I do not fool myself that my dreams and ambitions will be easy to fulfil, but I choose to believe that they are not beyond hope and that with the support of my sodales I can honour the Order, my House and my lineage in my deeds.

On the first day of the new year we met for our council with two of our number absent. Magus Gnaeus was, as he had believed likely, still abroad on the matter of his longevity potion but the absence of Maga Hypathia was of some concern to us for she had not returned from the faerie regio after she had separated from Terentius to journey with the centaur Iago. Given the events that had occurred there, with the change in season of the Summer Glade to Winter, we speculated that she might have encountered some difficulties in her return. The feeling of the council was that as she seems to have some position of authority within the lands of the fae, granted her through her lineage, we would take no action this season but if she had not returned by the Summer council we would consider what courses of action lay open to us. Jari believed that the Silver gate and the regio will not be weakened by the changes wrought there but he intends to write to an elder member of his House, Maga Marissa, to see whether she might shed any more light upon what these events might mean. It is apparent that the strength of Erechwydd’s court has grown and Jari is not sure how those of the other courts might react. He did report that his search of the tower that he has been granted by the Queen of the Snows had borne fruit however, with vis in the forms of Vim and Perdo recovered. He also announced that the faerie fox Eanfled has returned to the covenant with him. Oratio reminded him that he would be responsible for the creature’s actions.

The Pontifex asked that all those charged with duties by the council make report, as he wishes to adopt a new approach to how the council meetings are governed with a view to better determining courses of action, but there was no further news from winter and we turned our attention to a discussion of what services might be performed for the covenant this year. Given our desire to increase the number of enchanted items we hold both the Pontifex and I agreed to extracting vis from our aura this year, with Oratio setting himself upon the task this season. Jari will again seek to learn more from the faerie regio, the timing of his visit depending somewhat on whether Hypathia returned this season. Terentius agreed that he would work with our spymaster to establish some form of intelligence network around the town of Ipswich in the east of the tribunal. This will seek to determine what more can be learned about the whereabouts of the demon called Black Hugh. The Pontifex also said that he intended to travel to Coleford at some point this season, with a view to enacting our plan to help the sorry women of that village have their stolen children once more returned to them.

We next turned our minds to determining how each would spend this season. Of Oratio I have already spoken but I shall record that Jari determined to make study from our works upon the form of Vim and both myself and Terentius were learning spells from the covenant’s extensive library. Lastly the Pontifex made a reward of vis for the services performed last year. It was also agreed that given no tithe has been levied by the tribunal for many years that the vis that has been stockpiled for that eventuality would also be shared. So that none were unfairly rewarded or penalised for their actions last year the Pontifex wisely distributed that vis equally among all the magi of the council. A stipend of 100 pennies was also made to all who wished it.

About a month into the spring we were visited by the redcap Acerbia. She reported that the decision made at last year’s tribunal meeting that Olafsson bears sole responsibility for the attack made upon the Templar stronghold at Tomar has been accepted by the Senior Quaesitor of the Iberian tribunal. He will attend that tribunal in the summer of this year. She further reported that two scholars at Oxford University have been condemned, with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for espousing a philosophy that contests some articles of Theology. Such condemnations I understand are common abroad but not so greatly on these shores. The two scholars were forced to recant their beliefs. The redcaps have also been monitoring the position of the Knights Templar, who are still forbidden from coming to these isles. Acerbia said that there was no evidence that they had any presence here but that it was believed a strong possibility that they may know the names of the magi involved in the attack upon Tomar and that Oratio should be cautious when travelling abroad. They are said to be highly skilled warriors and there may be some secret support from them her in England. The last news that she brought concerns the raising of a large army by the Teutonic Knights, who hold lands to the east of the Rhine tribunal. The purpose of this army has not been revealed and the suspicion must be that with the Golden Horde no longer a threat in those parts there may be some prosecution of war in that region. We were advised to have a care if travelling in those parts. Before she left I asked her to carry two letters to Cad Gadu, one for Anselm concerning the possibility of trade and the second for the council of that covenant with an offer to gift our library on the pagan religion in exchange for them providing copies translated from the welsh they are currently written in.

The remainder of the season passed quietly and I am happy to report that both Gnaeus and Hypathia returned to the covenant as summer drew near.

Summer

The Pontifex once again asked for reports from the previous season and Jari reported that he had observed the Lladra appear within the spring at the equinox. Oratio then revealed that he had not travelled to Coleford during the season but will travel there this season, and it was confirmed that this still gave sufficient time for the mothers to perform the ritual that the witch’s spirit had suggested. He asked for suggestions as to the best words to use. There was a minor point of order raised concerning whether this should be discussed prior to all reports being received and it was agreed by the council to return to a less regimented structure. Oratio confirmed that he intended to appear to the women away from the menfolk of the village, as they were at the stream washing, and that he would take the guise of a hermit. It was agreed that he would relay his message with reference to the Christian trinity in order to make it appear less like witchcraft. There was some discussion about what he would do if he was assailed but Hypathia will be travelling in her mundane position as the King’s sister and thus could potentially lend some aid if required.

Volutus’ private journal: The ease with which we as a council rely on the position that Hypathia has, given her ties to the King of England, remain of some concern to me, with I sometimes as guilty as others at failing to challenge whether this is always the best course. We take money from the crown into our treasury and we utilise her mundane position to gain information; indeed she has been formally tasked with dealing with the royal court. Her reports to this covenant even suggest to me the possibility that on occasion she offers her brother some counsel. Of course House Jerbiton has many of the same difficulties when determining what is permitted within the code but I wonder whether, given the events of the past and the current political climate within the Order, it would be better for all if she said goodbye to her brother. It seems to me that she seeks to use these ties to good ends but is there not a risk of corruption to all of us if we do not take more care. I know that there has been discussion about this within my own House – I must seek further guidance when next I travel to Durenmar.

Maga Hypathia then told us the tale of why she had been delayed in returning to the covenant. She had visited the faerie regio for she wished to talk with some of the fae and magical entities that had once sat upon the body known as the King’s Council. After she had departed the Summer Glade with Iago she reported that he became quite agitated and wished to return there but that he was unable to find the path to it. He accused her of in some way being responsible for this difficulty and after she had denied it he turned his accusations against Jari and the others who had accompanied her, particularly given our sodalis’ blood ties to the winter court. He believed that the Summer Glade had been lost. Not knowing what had happened she assured him that none bore any intention to cause any harm. He eventually relented and agreed to return her to another part of the regio but it seems that he took her far away to a place called the Halls of the Forest, in the north of Herefordshire, from where it took her some time to orientate herself. Eventually she found the town of Leominster and returned. As to why the events took place as they did she is unsure. She said that the journey from Arcadia to the mortal world is a difficult one and that she doubted whether it was a path that could easily have been followed by Eanfled. It was postulated that this may be some scheme of the Erechwydd but we shall await the response of Marissa to Jari’s letter before discussing this further.

Gnaeus reported that his journeys had been largely uneventful and the purpose he had set out on fulfilled. He did however have some news regarding the Moorish pirates who prey on shipping from the northern coast of the dark continent. They have apparently invaded the lands of Egypt and struck a victory against the Mongols that occupied that place, using some sort of hand held metal tube that fires projectiles powered by black powder. He believed this black powder to be the same as that identified at King’s College in Gloucester by the master Roger Bacon.

We then spent some time discussing aspects of the charter. It was agreed that there should be some stipulation as to how the charter might be changed and we eventually set upon an amendment that requires a unanimous vote of the full membership of the council to make any changes. A second amendment was also added that stipulated that to exile a magus from the covenant requires a vote that is supported by a majority of all magi who sit upon the council, a tally that currently stands at four votes. This is to ensure that we never face the ruin that occurred at the now lost Narwold covenant. Oratio also revisited the issue of whether Terentius would be appointed as Imperator. Terentius was not enthusiastic about the role, although agreeing that he would perform it with diligence should it be required of him and Gnaeus made it clear that he would not accept the post of Ministrator if an Imperator was appointed. Therefore Oratio called a vote on whether the council felt the post was required. Myself and Jari voted against such a role with all others abstaining and the matter was thus resolved. Gnaeus then agreed to take up the post of Ministrator once more when it was offered by Oratio.

Volutus’ private journal: Unfortunately the discussions about changes to the charter were greatly drawn out by long discussions about the precise language to use, which did not help the mood of any of my sodales. This meant that my original hope to spend some time discussing what we want from our charter was not met. I believe that there is some will within our council to look at this again however, so I will speak privately with each of my sodales in turn to gain their opinions rather than bring it up at council. Armed with such knowledge I hope to find enough common ground to draft a replacement rather than this council having long discussions about possible amendments to the existing charter. We need a charter that binds and supports us, and I do not believe that what we have now is close to this goal.

This season four of our number agreed to undertake service to the covenant. In addition to the tasks that Terentius and I had agreed at the Spring council meeting Hypathia said that she would be attending court in London, although she also offered to assist Terentius in his own task. Gnaeus agreed to investigate a magical enchantment formerly owned by Archimagus Tiarnan, a chain with a v-shaped pearl inlay. It appears that there are a number of enchanted items owned by the Archimagus that had not been recorded in the ledgers of what we hold within the covenant, seemingly due to an oversight from the previous Pontifex. Oratio said that he would be learning a spell from the library and Jari will spend the season improving his mastery of the language of the English.

Following the conclusion of our meeting Gnaeus led us in the casting of the Aegis of the Hearth. In truth it felt good to be connected once more to the covenant in this way – I had not entirely realised how uncomfortable I have felt for the last year until the link was re-forged.

Oratio did not tarry long in the covenant before he set off to Coleford. He later reported to us that he had found about half a dozen women working at the stream and delivered his message to them easily enough, although he was chased off to cries that he was a charlatan and was bringing false hope, and one of the women started heading to the village, no doubt to fetch one of the menfolk. He believes that another of the women did pay some attention to his words however and it is our hope that we can put this sad tale behind us now. We have tasked our spies to keep an eye on the village and listen for any word of returning children.

Terentius’ time in the east of the country yielded a greater result than we had hoped for. He initially spent some time in London where we have an agent named Thomas. Through this man he was able to contact another spy in our employ called Robert, an itinerant pedlar who is based at A place called Waltham Abbey but fairly frequently travels within East Anglia. Between them they were able to identify two potential agents within Ipswich, the wife of an innkeeper who has good contacts and an enquiring manner and a criminal who has been set upon watch of the castle at night. It was our sodalis himself who attained the greatest information however for one night taking the form of a wolf he scouted beyond the castle walls and within the woods that lie close by. In the latter he found a charnel scent which he followed to the mouth of a large cave deep within those woods. Returning to the source of the trail he discovered a hidden entrance to a tunnel that surely leads within the castle itself and where he was able to determine an infernal aura was present. The tracks about indicated that corpses were being transported upon a hand cart from this tunnel to the cave. Wisely he did not attempt to enter either place but it seems likely to us that he has discovered the current resting place of Black Hugh.

Autumn

Our council began with Terentius relating his discoveries in Ipswich. There was much discussion about what course of action we should take next and we agreed that we needed to learn more about the role of the Baron of Ipswich in all of this. To that end Oratio agreed to travel with Hypathia to London in winter where there will be an opportunity to make some investigation of the Baron, for he will be in attendance at court. The council also agreed that we would inform the redcap of our discoveries so that our sodales in the tribunal might be warned of the potential danger in that region, and might also share their thoughts on the best course of action to pursue. We are certainly not of sufficient might to enter into battle with this creature, if indeed we determine that this is the best course of action to take. Terentius also revealed that he had purchased two maps while in London, one covering pilgrim routes across the south of the country to and from Canterbury, and the other of the city of Paris. He asked whether they would be something that the covenant would want and the council agreed that we would and agreed to recompense him the 115 pennies that the maps had cost.

Hypatia informed us that King Theo has received a lot of pressure regarding the Order of Hermetic Scholars and the status accorded it within the country. This seems to be emanating from the senior clergy within the land, no doubt responding to the Pope’s proclamations. They are using their contacts within the nobility but this may be a difficult battle for them to win, even were the King not minded to maintain his support for magi. The provisions regarding the Order are contained within the Great Charter of England and this charter also sets down the majority of the rights that are held by the Barons. Despite their disinterest in our cause they would be loath to make any changes to this charter for fear that it sets a precedent that might affect their own rights in years to come.

Gnaeus reported that he had been unable to determine any information as to the nature of the enchantment he had been investigating. He did not know if this was due to magnitude of its enchantments or whether the faerie nature of the item was confounding his understanding. Jari said that he would cast his eyes over the items to try and determine which held some faerie power for we might determine to investigate others beforehand.

Terentius then revealed that he had received disturbing news from the agents that had been placed to listen for word from Coleford. Initially there was great joy within the village for the lost children returned to their mothers but some time later it appears that they took on a monstrous form at night, black winged creatures that preyed upon other children of the village. Two such innocents were slain before the creatures were espied and driven off by the villagers. Oratio took the news badly and will investigate this season to determine what has happened and how we have been so tricked. Our concern is whether there was some flaw in his spellcasting and a demon had its attentions drawn to our sodalis. It is not impossible that it was a spirit of sufficient might to withstand Oratio’s magic but he does not believe it likely and Jari is adamant that the tale is not redolent of the fae, even the darkest of their kind. Terentius agreed to accompany Oration to a point close to the tree where the witch was originally hanged, but our Pontifex will make the investigation alone for he is the only one of us capable of rendering himself invisible to the eyes of the nearby village.

This season I was granted permission to extract Vim vis from the aura for my own personal use. Such is always useful but a large part of my desire is to continue to familiarise myself with the laboratory equipment I have inherited. It is still very unfamiliar to me but with each season I am beginning to see how I might be able to turn it to uses that I had not previously considered. In truth it is hard to determine how some of the more exotic pieces were crafted for I can see no seam or joint where I might expect to find them. Oratio announced that he would be developing a spell and the remainder of my sodales all planned to spend time in the library, studying books of the art.

Shortly after our council meeting had drawn to a close we were visited by Acerbia. She had grave news from the Iberian tribunal. Within that tribunal it is the custom to announce the proposed penalty for the charge raised at the commencement of proceedings and the magnitude of that penalty was without precedent. They announced that should Olafsson be found guilty then he would be stripped of his gift and delivered to the Knights Templar. Acerbia reported that the trial was lengthy and that upon its conclusion the voting took an entire morning to complete. Perhaps Primus Ex Miscellanea garnered some knowledge of how it would fall for as it took place he evaded the hoplite set to watch him and made his escape from Duresca. The vote did indeed find him guilty of the charge and the Iberian tribunal duly renounced him from the order, announcing an immediate Wizard’s March. They have also made a formal request to our tribunal that we offer advice if any know where he might be found. There was lengthy discussion amongst our council following this news, although I missed the first part as I wished to pass on news of Black Hugh to Acerbia and she had but an hour to spare before continuing her travels. Much of what we talked about focussed on what we would do if he came to Severn Temple, for there was some fear that he might seek to find allies and pursue those that he held responsible for what had happened. We agreed that should he come we would not treat with him and would seek to notify Blackthorn covenant at the earliest opportunity. While he is now renounced none here are of sufficient power to present any challenge to him. We also speculated as to how he might have escaped. While he is a powerful magus of some resource it must be possible that he had help from within Duresca. It might even be the case that his escape suits those plotters for who the current excommunication of the order makes schism more likely. Recognising we needed to know more I agreed to travel to Blackthorn and speak with Theophilus and also send message to a contact I have on the continent.

Theohpilus had already had some word from the House and told me that there was some consternation throughout the Order. Primus Bjornaer has issued a declaration of protest concerning the proposed punishment that the Iberian Tribunal had set and it was my sodalis’ belief that despite his well know dislike of such decisions our Primus might seek to convene an emergency gathering of the Grand Tribunal. What it would mean if this happens and the actions of Iberia are ruled incompatible with the code I am not entirely sure – there has never been a case of a renounced magus being invited back into the order. Theophilus did not believe it likely that Olafsson would return to Stonehenge feeling it more likely that he will return to Novgorod from where he originally came. He is likely to have allies there and there is a significant presence of Bjornaer magi also. He also passed on some words of caution from Praeco Arcanus. With the escape of Olafsson there will be no scapegoat for the Knights Templar and he believes, like House Mercere, that there is a possible threat against those involved in the attack upon Tomar. Clearly the least well defended within our tribunal is our own Pontifex Oratio. I left Blackthorn and returned to Severn Temple, calling on the way at Mynydd Myddyn to harvest those vis sites that can be more easily reached. When I returned I informed Oratio of what had been said and also offered to travel to Holy Isle if he wished to see if Laurius might have some ideas on how he could be best protected. Oratio declined my offer however and thus I went about my personal business.

Oratio and Terentius left for Coleford about a week after the council. Leaving Terentius a little way away within the bounds of the forest Oratio made his way to the lone tree that sits on the hill above the village. There he found the bodies of the three women swinging from nooses, no doubt found guilty of witchcraft for what had befallen. The Pontifex cast the spell ‘Sense the Lingering Magic’ and could determine no sigil of any previous spellcasting by himself. Realising that this meant that our worst fears had likely come true he cast his eyes into the realm of spirits, and glancing away from the pale images of the three hanged mothers he espied a dark spindly figure with claws and strange ears covered with something like fish scales. The demon was clawing at the legs of the spirits, torturing them even beyond their cruel deaths. Oratio cast an enchantment of the art of Damnat, one of the seven pillars of magic of House Corpus Domini, and I understand that the infernal spirit was swiftly dispatched. He then cut down the three women and with the aid of his familiar transported them back to the covenant, from where I understand he arranged for them to be taken to be granted a Christian burial. Our sodalis has some considerable knowledge of the occult and it is his belief that the demon that he destroyed would not have had the power to permanently bind other infernal spirits to its will, and thus it was likely that the three creatures that had been driven from Coleford were long gone, sustained on the world only briefly by the blood sacrificed to them. We later heard that when the women were taken into custody one of their husbands had been slain while resisting and another had fled into the forest. The disappearance of the women’s bodies has been attributed to the latter and there is no rumour of any involvement from beyond the village.

Midway through the season the weather swiftly became colder and the first falls of snow were barely a day beyond the equinox. It seems that the growing power of the Erechwydd is likely to mean our winters are going to be longer and harder than usual. Jari and Hypathia had anticipated this and the steward had already made provision, laying in additional supplies.

The latter part of the season passed uneventfully until the last few days. First Acerbia called upon us for the third time this year. She brought letters for some of the magi within the covenant including myself. I received two letters. Both responses to my trade enquiries from earlier in the year. Cad Gadu have agreed to the proposal around the works on the Pagan faith and Anselm has expressed some interest in Mercurial Silver.

I heard that there was another visitor at the end of the seaon, a magus of House Bjornaer called Ivor who met with two of the grogs upon the road up the hill, but I did not meet him while he was here and I do not know who it was he came to visit.

Winter

I am glad that the covenfolk are so devoted to their duties for they had set a good fire within the council chamber to ward the bitter weather that encompassed the covenant. We began by discussing Oratio’s news regarding Coleford. He was clearly greatly affected by what had happened and there was little convincing him that he did not bear the responsibility for what had occurred. There was some discussion as to whether there was more that we could do, for the children are presumably still in the form of crows somewhere in the forest, possibly still close to the village that they heralded from. While no one was keen to see whether the Morrigan could help, given her affinity with Corvids, other suggestions were made as to how they might be identified through spells, although it would be a task of extreme difficulty. Even if we found them we can not be certain how they might be restored given that we do not know if the original curse was laid from a faerie, magical or infernal source. If there is still a magical effect upon them it might be as simple as dispelling this, although it is likely to be an enchantment of some magnitude. In the end no decision was made as to whether there was any benefit in pursuing the matter but I wonder whether Oratio might take it upon himself once he has recovered from his malaise.

We discussed the warnings for Oratio that Arcanus had passed on and what actions we might take. Oratio did not wish for any further discussion regarding any threat to him beyond the walls of Severn Temple so we restricted ourselves to matters of defence of the covenant. The threat may not only be from the Knights Templar but also that faction within the order that has prosecuted their zealous faith beyond the boundaries of the code, although we consider it unlikely that any of the three magi that have been previously named in this journal would undertake an attack directly themselves. In the end we agreed that we would institute more rigorous controls regarding entry to the covenant. Any magus will be obliged to demonstrate their sigil and those from mundane society will be met by a magus who will use enchantment to determine that they are who they claim to be. It was also suggested that we could call upon the Erechwydd or the Werewolves of Lydney to watch the forest about the covenant for strangers. There was no desire to enter into arrangements with the faerie sorceress but it was agreed that Terentius and Hypathia would speak with the werewolves.

With the adverse weather making travel extremely difficult, and possible threats on the road, it was agreed that Oratio and Hypathia would not travel to London this season to try and learn more of the Baron of Ipswich. Instead the Pontifex determined to train his apprentice and she to study from our magical library, an activity that Gnaeus and myself also chose. Terentius petitioned to learn a spell and Jari will be upon his service, entering the faerie regio once more.

Terentius and Hypathia spoke with the werewolves of Lydney just a few days after our council and they have said that they will extend their patrols and bring us warning if anyone unknown to them is seen. Their leader, a man named Martin, did report that they had scented a bear in the forest a week previously, which was unusual as there have been no bears seen in the Dean for many years. My sodales did not seem overly concerned with this however.

Volutus’ private journal: In the short time that I have known him I have gained the impression that Terentius does not like to leave unattended, matters that might impact upon the covenant. I surmise from his easy manner that he knows something about this bear wandering the Dean and I wonder if it has anything to do with the visit last season of Magus Ivor.

Jari travelled as usual with his companions Sigurd and Erik, and also the faerie Eanfled. I understand that they once again managed to locate some vis from the tower that he has been granted, this time in the forms of Ignem and Muto. They also travelled to a place called Stonevale, a settlement within the forest which is held by the Court of Stone and where rock giants are overseen by a faerie named Cyrgig, who had a relationship many years ago with the wizards of this covenant. I believe that some discussion was had concerning possible trade for that place is a source of Terram vis but as yet no deal has been done.

Thus the year ended and with it my current duty to scribe our history.
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