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Scribed by Jari

Spring

It seems traditional to begin your first entry in this journal by remarking on the sagacity of those who have gone before and on your responsibility to faithfully convey the truth, while imparting a little of your own unique ‘wisdom’. I’m not a big believer in the importance of tradition, so I’ll just say that while I’ll document the key events so that this record continues to be useful, I might add a little narrative spice to otherwise dull events and at times I may well just make things up. Any such account is after all a story.

As for adding my own thoughts, I do find looking back that there’s quite a lot of pontificating, but I’m sure I won’t be immune to that either, it’s too much fun and I’m too egotistical and vain not to indulge in it. Finally, with regard to the wisdom of previous writers, while there clearly were some very sharp minds, there are at least as many dullards. I’m probably not half as clever as I think I am, but I’m confident I’m smarter than many previous writers here. Judge for yourself.

Anyway, enough wittering. Spring council discussed what should be done about Stonevale after my introduction there last season. I think we’ve got a good chance of getting some terram vis, but that risks drawing us, yours truly in particular, further into the machinations of the fae. Of course, it remains a point of some philosophical debate as to whether these machinations go on without any mortal involvement. I’m tempted to follow Gnaeus’s very interesting example of philosophical musings at this point, but I’m not sure I’ve got the patience this early into my writing career and Sigurd and Erik are waiting for me in the tavern.

So, the debate went back and forth with Terentius, very sensibly, urging caution and Hypathia and Oratio keen to act and “balance out” our effect on the regio. On reflection, this seems surprisingly naïve of the Queen of the Land, if her most gracious majesty will forgive me for saying so, for even my limited experience seems to make pretty clear that any attempt at balancing out consequences will quickly become an endless back and forth of acting to balance out ones’ previous actions.

In any event, I was tasked to act in service to the covenant this Winter by revisiting the fae regio and seeing what could sensibly be done in addition to collecting the vis from the Wizards’ Tower. So action and balancing out it is then! To try and reduce my not insignificant chances of messing things up I agreed to visit Marissa down in Carrion Moor to ask her advice. A task that I was more than happy to agree to as it will be good to speak with an elder of my House, especially one who was close to the Archimagus Tiarnan.

Other covenant services agreed by the various magi included Hypathia investigating the Baron of Ipswich’s involvement in mundane affairs and Volutus arranging the safe delivery of our pagan tomes to Cad Gadu. None of the rest were interesting enough to be recorded here.

Gnaeus then reminded everyone that this coming Winter will mark the 200th anniversary of the refounding of Severn Temple. The three refounders, Petrus, Jean and Ruaridh, set the pattern for magi here, that of going on to greatness or ignominy, by going on to become an Archimagus, a diabolist and a murderer, respectively. There was some discussion about how best to commemorate such an anniversary, though I’m not quite sure quite why our beloved Pontifex felt the need to call for a vote about whether to hold a feast or not, nor indeed why he decided to then abstain. If there’s some deeper political game being played here it’s far too subtle for an inexperienced young magus coming from remote Novgorod. Anyway, we agreed that we shall commission a frieze commemorating all the magi who have been part of this council, whether diabolist or Archimagus. Gnaeus kindly agreed to organise it and I offered to help as time allows. No one else here appears to have much of an interest in the arts. I suspect if Aristotle were alive today and joined this covenant as a magus he’d be set to extract vim vis as his service.

After the council was ended, with directions from Volutus and the services of our covenant ship, I made the journey to Carrion Moor quickly and uneventfully, even if the going was a little snowy at first. That covenant lies a good walk from the small harbour in which we put in and we heard that the moor, not unsurprisingly given its name, is a dark, brooding place and best avoided at night. Its ill air appears to originate from a “witch tree” which lies to the North of the covenant and the witch who dwells within is apparently powerful enough to even pose a threat to the wizards if roused. But, accompanied as we were by grogs from the covenant, the walk the next day was simple enough, if somewhat bleak.

It was good to see Marissa. Although she must be a century and a half old, she appeared like a young woman still, albeit one heavily touched by the Winter Court of Water. She was however very pleasant and easy company and she was helpful and happy to give me good advice on matters in our local faerie regio. She suggested that a deal could be safely struck with Cyrgig and Stonevale, but that bronze armour and shields might be a safer choice than weapons. This is an excellent idea, but in truth it’s so obvious that it’s somewhat disappointing that neither I nor anyone else at our council thought of it. I blame the Pontifex.

As to the waning of the Nynniaw and his loss of the Silver Gate to the Erequith, she was not so sure. She thought it possible the Erequith had somehow engineered it, perhaps through my blood, but she admitted she wasn’t really sure how such could be done. Even Merinitans with her levels of experience have little more than a rudimentary understanding of how Silver Gates work, for they are much more than simple regio boundaries. The Gate is such a prize that any skirmish that costs the Erequith a few goblins or giants will be trivial in comparison, so giving aid in the form of bronze equipment shouldn’t cause any problems, so long as I don’t join in directly myself.

I also sought Marissa’s opinion on whether it might be possible to restore the Palug. She was a little surprised that I was interested in such a lowly creature, a touch of her ‘unseelie’ influence showing through there I think, but when I explained my interest in it as part of a broader, more philosophical enquiry into what faeries are she shrugged and suggested that retelling stories of him might help him find his way back. Marissa explained that we mortals can redirect the stories that faeries tell themselves, so telling stories of his past deeds from the ‘memories’ contained within this journal might help, though of course stories are unavoidably coloured by the storyteller so any tale should be carefully crafted.

I must read Aristotle’s treatise on Poetics as I understand from Theophilus that he has much to say on the subject of stories. But is it just the faerie that stories define? How do they impact on the power and influence of religions? Also, what can be learnt from great storytellers and their art? Theo who as I understand things re-sparked his ‘line’ of ‘royal’ blood and his stories were noted for their effect on people.

Lastly, we talked about Eanfled. Marissa said that he was a rare beast, for a faerie to be able to travel around outside of a specific place is distinctly unusual, especially one who likes to hang around practitioners of magic who live in a magical, not a faerie place. She suggested that the closest analogy might be a church fae, and he could be thought of as a “wizard fae”. An interesting concept indeed. Such a rare power may well be linked to the mechanism through which the Silver Gate was forced open.

Jari’s private journal
Marissa also told me that the world has changed deeply and that something has awoken. She doesn’t know what it is, but she’s been to the deepest, darkest ocean and heard the fae there speak of the coming great rising of the ocean that will flood the world. This tale has been repeated elsewhere, varying by the fae involved – Tessius of the Court of Air described it as the sky falling and the sun heating the air so much that all else withers. The common thread appears to be the triumph of that Court or their aspect of the world. She bade me speak to Hypathia about it and to convey our House’s offer of aid with such message. Marissa added that Hypathia has more power than the others of her bloodline had and we should do all that we can to help her succeed.


With much to ponder I thanked Marissa and promised to return erelong, remembering to invite her to our bicentennial celebrations.

Back at the covenant, a week after the Equinox, Acerbia arrived at the covenant with grave news. The Christian Teutonic knights have attacked the Kingdom of Lithuania and during their war there they took the opportunity to sack the covenant of Tronia, stealing books and equipment before being repulsed by mundane Lithuanian armies. Fortunately the two magi there, a Bjornaer and a Tytalan, escaped, but the suspicion is that the whole conflict was naught but a cover to attack the covenant.

Acerbia also informed us there’s a new chief Christian priest in Canterbury, handpicked by the Pope so he’s probably another murderous zealot. More encouragingly, the Moroccans, one of the peoples from the great continent beyond the sea to the south of Iberia, have used explosive cannons with black powder to defeat a Castilian fleet. I’m not quite sure what or where Castile is, a Christian kingdom in Iberia apparently, but let’s raise a glass to the valiant Moroccans fighting back against their would-be tyrannical oppressors!

This demonstration of the power of this mysterious black powder sparked no little interest as to what it was and how we might get some for ourselves and the Order as a whole. It seems that Roger Bacon, a brilliant scholar recruited for King’s College Gloucester some time ago may possess its secret so we shall try through him.

Jari’s private journal
Acerbia also brought me a letter from my mater answering my queries about the Silver Gate. In addition to confirming much of what Marissa suggested, she offered the amusing and intriguing information that being able to open a Silver Gate without its owner’s permission is Archimagus Dorissius’s Challenge. Tempting as it is to pursue this, I think it’s probably best, for now at least, to keep a lower profile.

 
Summer

The first point of order at the Summer council meeting was a vote of whether to go ahead on the offer of a couple of bronze shields and helmets in return for some of the terram vis containing ore from Stonevale. The vote passed easily with only the ever cautious Terentius opposing it, though Volutus abstained.

Gnaeus reported that the work on the frieze is going well, with I’m happy to report, the Archimagus Tiarnan prominently featured.

Volutus then revealed the somewhat shocking news that he had had word from the continent (from a trusted source he wishes to be kept quiet) that Primus Guernicus and the new leaders of Corpus Domini are working together to make the Order Christian by any means necessary, allegedly believing it to be the only way that it will survive. On reflection, maybe shocking is the wrong word given the known Christian proclivities of that murderous old bigot, but it was troubling nevertheless to hear it from one such as Volutus. In addition to the known opposition to this faction from Merinita and Bjornaer, there is apparently a third faction in Iberia and possibly the Rhine  which supports the military Christian orders in the hope of defeating the Christian Church itself and fixing things that way. Volutus said that he has been strongly warned against travelling to the covenant so if a Bonisagan such as he isn’t safe then we need all watch out.

House Verditius, ever the soulless mercenaries, are making items for all factions who can pay. Although they seem to be very careful to avoid taking sides in internal conflicts such as this one, I can’t help but wonder whether magi within that House have recognised the profits to be made from conflict and have at the very least thought about how to keep tensions simmering nicely.

There are also intriguing rumours that the Criamon elders have retreated to study a “force within twilight”. Quite what that means or how it relates to anything else is unclear.

Jari’s private journal
Is this mysterious force related to the reports from the faerie courts of something having awoken? It seems like too much of a coincidence for it not to be. Perhaps I should have a quiet discussion with Gnaeus about it and share a little of what I know about the fae with him? I should also look to improve my arts in perdo and corporem and illusions, so I’m a little more prepared if trouble comes to us.


Autumn

Hypathia reported mixed news from London. The new Archbishop is already pressing King Theo hard and instructing his priests to preach against the Order of Hermes. There was also news that our fears about a crusade being called against the Order might be overblown as the Byzantine Empire has marched from Constantinople and attacked Albania, which lies to the East of the Rome tribunal. Although the Byzantines are also christians, they’re “orthodox” not “catholic” whatever that means. In any event, given that the fourth crusade sacked Constantinople the conflict appears to have good precedent so with luck the next crusade will involve nothing more than two large armies of Christians killing each other.

Her other news was that the Baron of Ipswich has apparently died. While this initially seems quite a good thing, Hypathia thinks it is very suspicious and could even be faked, though his son and heir, Martin, is returning from the continent. She’s said will follow up on it.

Gnaeus reported on progress with the frieze, which is going excellently and will I think really add to our covenant. There are enough dreary and foreboding stone walls around.

Volutus said that he had spoken with Theophilus and that the elder Bonisagan thinks that Volutus’s news from last season makes a Grand Tribunal less not more likely. Of trades for vis, which I suppose should be recorded, Anselm will exchange 7 pawns of vim and & auram for 7 pawns of mercurial silver. We also agreed an ongoing trade every three years with Carrion Moor for a rook of our ignem or aquam vis for a rook of their animal, auram or corporem. Oratio also asked that Volutus look into selling copies of our mundane texts on church doctrine, occult traditions and bestiaries to Carrion Moor in return for vis.

Terentius then reported that a month ago he received word from our spymaster “Lucky” that three monks had been seen getting on a barge at Tintern at night. As one was doing so he dropped the bundle he was carrying, revealing chainmail and a sword. Fearing they were Templars our bold Tremere set off in pursuit. He was able to trace their journey past Ross-on-Wye, where they hid the barge and set off cross country to Eastnor. There, at night again, they met a contact from the castle and were shown in. Terentius is working with Lucky to get spies into Eastnor castle but he said that it’s not easy for the knight of that manor is feared by the locals. Hypathia offered to get the King’s spies to help. There was some debate as it would be more of a direct action and I sense that our Tremere is loath to rely on outside help but in the end it was agreed to be worth doing as it promises the greatest chance of success. She will also ensure that they pass on anything they learn directly to our spies so that we are not dependent on Hypathia visiting London to get word of the nefarious local Christian goings on. Following on from this, Oratio will instruct Lucky to train up three apprentices to help him in such matters.

Oratio then reported that he has developed a creo mentem spell to help deal with possession. He believes it will work on entities up to the fifth magnitude in power, although it is very experimental, dealing as it does with a side of hermetic magic that is somewhat sketchily defined. He has named it “Elevate the Suppressed Spirit”. I await report of its first use with interest.

Talk then returned to the Baron of Ipswich. Terentius suggested that Oratio visit his grave, apparently a familial crypt in a big church in the middle of Ipswich to see if he was truly dead and had had a Christian burial to destroy his spirit. There was a bit of debate about what could be achieved by this and what the risks were. What started out as rather reasonable questions deteriorated into wild speculation by Oratio about possible links between the deceased Baron and the Templars and how the Baron’s death was just a plot to lure Oratio out. I think this says more about our Pontifex’s ego than anything else. After much back and forth and unanswered questions about whether Black Hugh is being fed now, what the rat demon is up to and so forth, Oratio finally agreed to go and investigate in Winter. He will learn some spells to help him, picking locks and visage of the recently dead I think he said, though I was getting rather bored of it all by this point I’m afraid.

We then moved on to what we would all be doing during Autumn. I was asked by the Pontifex what I wished to do and I politely requested the perdo books. As I did so I saw Hypathia’s face flush with barely controlled fury. Leaping to her feet she angrily demanded I cede them to her. I couldn't believe her arrogance and retorted that she would have them only over my dead body. For a terrible moment I thought she would lose it altogether and physically launch herself across the council table at me, but she instead roared out a challenge of “muto”. I'm not ashamed to say I quailed slightly, replying "imagonem" as coolly as I was able, trying to mask my inner turmoil. Such was her eagerness to begin the contest that she shoved the council table aside with such force that Volutus had to leap aside lest he be squashed against the wall!

But as we readied ourselves my emotions changed from fear to anger. Not her raw elemental rage, but a cold fury filling my being as though icy winds had blown in straight from Northern Novgorod. The challenge I set was to change a simple drinking song either to the raucous beat I had heard in the Erequith’s court or that of a normal mundane choir.

My mind is still reeling from the titanic magical forces that echoed about the council chamber in the arcane conflict that followed. For a moment I felt the tower itself shake, but after the certamen had ebbed back and forth for what felt like an eternity I saw a weakness in her enchantments and attacked hard. To my delight and her dismay, the voices that had been wavering back and forth without great change now shifted decisively to the loud drums and deep bass voices of the Erequith’s ice giants and goblins! Her head bowed and a look of intense weariness upon her face, Hypathia stepped back, conceding the contest.

Then, with the certamen concluded, we calmly and amicably took our seats again to resume council as civilised magi should. Honestly, I don’t know why some people make such a drama out of certamen.
 
We carried on with the council, Hypathia stifling the occasional yawn after her exertions, though it’s possible she was getting bored with the long discussion about exactly which items Volutus and Terentius should take for their exploration and vis collection in Mynydd Myrrdin this season. Anyway, suitably festooned with enchantments and potions, Volutus and Terentius set off.

The season seemingly proceeded uneventfully until just under a month before the end of the season when Volutus and Terentius returned, without Volutus’s consor Laurent. All had not gone according to plan and they called a meeting of the magi to explain what was amiss. They had been able to collect the usual vis without incident and then had pressed on through the regio boundary, beyond which Laurent and Terentius had previously successfully fought a great snake. They assayed the aura beyond the boundary, finding it to be of the 4th magnitude and pressed on. The twisting passageway led down to a great underground cavern filled almost entirely with a lake of dark water, the surface of which was preternaturally still. As Laurent bent down to peer more closely at the water, perhaps to look at his own reflection, ‘hands’ of water suddenly emerged and dragged beneath the dark waters, leaving nary a ripple behind.

Terentius valiantly dived in after him, again leaving no ripple. Volutus was then left with a nervous wait, but after a short while Terentius re-emerged in the form of a seal. After turning back into human form, he reported that he had felt a great force dragging him down deeper into the waters so he cast a spell to give him the ability to swim strongly enough to resist it. Of Laurent he had seen no sign. With no idea what had become of Laurent, they left behind a low-burning lamp – for the darkness in the cavern would be absolute without a light source – and some supplies and pressed on. They found a potential infernal aura in an adjacent stalactite-strewn cave and then, deeper still, another, smaller, pool of dark water with a similar magic, one that was resistable by their parmae. Eventually though, without lamp oil and water starting to run low, they left the caves and returned here to discuss matters with the rest of the council.

Terentius and Volutus reported that theaura around the lake is of the 4th magnitude and was “probably” magical in nature, but admitted they had not checked. This could well be an oversight, for to me it sounds like a faerie effect. Rippleless water in an underground cavern is evocative of Gofannon and Hypathia also made the good point that the hands carrying someone into the water sounds a little like the Lladra helping bear someone to Llyr’s court. After a bit of nudge, and with permission from Volutus, Oratio cast ‘Sense the Lingering Magic” on Volutus, for he believed his parma had resisted the effect that claimed Laurent. The effect was unsurprisingly non-hermetic, with a sense of magic to ‘draw someone in’.

With further discussion providing little help, Volutus borrowed our tome of “Voice of the Lake” from the library and cast it on the Spring to talk to the Lladra. I watched the spring waters as he did so using my ability to perceive fae magics and saw the face of a woman in starlight there. She told Volutus that she knew of the caves “under the veil of Merlin” and that she would ask the many water courses that run through there to see if she could find Laurent, with no favour nor debt required. Hypathia noted that the Lladra has never asked for anything in return from the wizards here, for we are essentially her protectors. With that the Lladra faded back into the spring water. She returned an hour or so later with the news that Laurent had been carried deep in the under caverns, into the realm of the Queen of Snakes. She said that she didn’t know what the Queen would do with him, for few mortals return from that place.

With the air growing chill, for my sodales at least, we returned back to the council chamber to discuss matters further,. Hypathia said that the Queen of Snakes could be bargained with, for the Erequith did a deal with her to have her drive out a corrupt wizard (the late and unlamented Amabilia of my house I believe). However, while she believes that the Peace still holds good, the Queen of Snakes may not realise that Laurent is a companion of wizards. While it did not sound too promising, Hypathia and I offered to accompany Volutus to the cave of snakes in the local faerie regio to attempt to bargain for Laurent’s release.

We made our way into the regio along Sigurd’s trod, relying on his great strength to force a path through the deep snows that lay all about as. Guided by Eanfled, our journey was straightforward enough and before too long we spotted a snow-covered hill, about the bottom of which were growing lots of berryless holly bushes. As we drew nearer we could hear a clear hissing emanating from the cave mouth, which had an uncanny resemblance to a great bestial maw, with large, sharp-looking icicles hanging down from its roof like teeth.

By strange coincidence, or perhaps not, I heard footsteps within the cave as we got close and from the cave mouth emerged Laurent! He appeared almost unscathed from his travails, but I caught a glimpse of what looked like a tattoo of a snake wrapped about his neck. Narrowing my eyes I saw that it was in fact a glamoured faerie serpent, likely on of the Queen’s sisters or daughters – the Queen of Snakes that is, not Hypathia. It saw that it had been spotted for its forked tongue flickered as I met its gaze. The others hurried to check on Laurent and Hypathia had stern words with the snake about him being under her protection, no doubt making her point to the Queen of Snakes too.

Meanwhile I decided to take a quick peek inside the cave. A shortish passage opens out into a circular cave, with smooth walls and a waterfall at the back that falls continually into a dark pool. Beside it lies a smooth, round passage heading down into the dark earth. There is also a regio boundary at the tunnel’s start. Hidden from mortal sight around the edge of the cave were a dozen or so silvery serpentine forms, probably more of the Queen’s female relatives. Curiosity satisfied for now, I headed back with the others to the covenant.

A little later that day, Volutus called the magi together to report what he had learnt from Laurent. It seems that, wandering alone in the dark and lost, surrounded by some very large and hungry snakes, Laurent had made the altogether understandable decision to agree to swear a bargain to act as a spy for the Queen of Snakes within the covenant. Predictably there was much consternation, with one magus in particular adamant that Laurent had to go. I won’t reveal exactly who that was, but you can probably guess. Let’s just say his first name begins with the same letter as that of his house.

Hypathia made clear that the Queen of Snakes is bound to the Peace, as is the snake itself, so it should be no more dangerous that any of the other faeries we have had abide within the covenant over the years. I promised that I would learn more about the Queen and her court and report back to council, but our mystery magus was not to be mollified and said that he would not venture abroad with Volutus if Laurent also came along. Oratio then went further and said that Laurent should be barred from the tower, de facto stripping him of his status as Volutus’s consors. Volutus was quite rightly very indignant about this attack on his rights and both I and Hypathia gave him our firm support. Whether through dislike of confrontation or realising the strength of the opposition to such a move, Oratio backed down. Not however before Hypathia had offered up the juicy titbit that Theo too once had such a snake attached to him. What an interesting magus he must have been!
 
Winter

The covenant was predictably snowbound when the council met formally for the last time this year. Hypathia reported that the Kings agents had not yet been able to discover anything of interest in Eastnor, though when they do they will leave word at the Kings manor in Lydney. Terentius has set Lucky to train three new deputies, though such plan will clearly take a while before it bears fruit. He then offered a little further speculation about their investigations in Mynnydd Myrddin – was the large snake he and Laurent fought a couple of years ago part of the Queen of Snakes’ court? It would certainly make sense. There was further discussion about the Queen and how the infernalist Ieuan once managed to pass quietly through her realm to attack the covenant. It was believed that he had worked some infernal influence there, though exactly what is not known. I confess I know little of such and while Oratio seems to have some good knowledge of that area, no one at council knew enough of both faeries and the infernal to add to what we already know from the journal.

Next, council discussed plans for Oratio and Terentius to visit Ipswich to investigate whether the Baron is really dead. There was much back and forth about the best way to do it without arousing suspicion and in truth I forget exactly what, if any plan was decided on as my mind started to wander before any resolution was reached. In any event, both seemed content enough to go and I suspect they’ll both just wing it when they get there anyway. I would like to make one further observation about the debate – Oratio and Terentius debated whether or not Oratio should take his familiar, Barnabas, the perpetually depressed donkey. Oratio eventually decided he would, but Terentius was adamant that this was the wrong choice and could make it easier for our enemies to find them. I think the real danger here is that we are prone to making too many assumptions of the power of our enemies and thus stripping ourselves of our options and allies when trouble does come.

There was nothing else of interest to report from council, save for Hypathia amusingly requesting the perdo books. Had I not committed to venturing into the faerie regio for the covenant I’d have found it hard not to ask for them for myself again. But I didn’t so let’s turn our attention to yours truly skipping off into the faerie regio with my trusty companions Sigurd and Erik. I took it as a good omen that this time I was able to actually see the damn trod. I affect not to mind that my violent Viking companion is the one who can see this mystical path that leads deep into the faerie regio, but in truth it does dent a magus’s pride a little when I have to follow a man who, much as I love him, thinks that hitting things with an axe is the best thing a man can do.

We made it through the snows to the Wizard’s tower and after the usual sorting through lots of faerie tat, we were able to find a couple of broken items that contain vis. Having stayed here a couple of times without incident, with the door locked from the inside we felt safe enough to go to sleep with just Eanfled watching over us. I was awoken some indeterminate amount of time later by the noise of our unique and powerful ‘wizard faerie’ fighting a tatty old shoe. I’m not altogether sure he was winning either.

Rested and somewhat less damp, we set off to Stonevale where we were warmly greeted by Cyrgig. He was very pleased with the two helms and shields that we – I say we, I mean Sigurd – had brought with us and sent for an ore sample to make a trade. However, just then, Eanfled warned us that the Erequith was about to attack. I went outside the hut where we’d been talking and saw that he was right. Amidst a conjured snowstorm that was rapidly heading our way I could see 3 giants, several knights and at least half a dozen goblins. Cyrgig left us watching from the doorway, saying that he regretted he was unable to guarantee our safety and set out to rally his defenders.

Erik and I watched a little nervously, it’s one thing to be confident that the Queen’s Peace is secure when you’re debating matters in the council chamber and another thing entirely to be in the middle of a pitched battle where your safety could well depend it. Sigurd of course watched with growing excitement and impatience, though I had been careful enough to ask him to protect me in case something went awry.

We watched as the gates became covered in ice from the wands of the goblins. One stone faerie attempted to push them shut but as his arm touched the ice it froze solid and when the giants battered at the gate, it shattered into rubble, leaving a gap big enough for the Erequith’s forces to pour in. The battle that followed was hard fought, but the two sides seemed evenly matched and thankfully neither side’s combatants showed any interest in us.

All too aware that for me to do anything directly could have disastrous consequences, but seeing that the stalemate needed to be broken if we wanted to get hold of the terram vis, I reminded Sigurd that we should not oppose the Erequith given how powerful she is now and in truth despite her goodwill that we seem to enjoy at present she is still v rather frightening presence. I also ‘happened’ to remind him that he was a free man. I had not misinterpreted Sigurd’s impatient body language and with a roar of satisfaction he plunged into the fray. However he found the villagers, made of stone as they were, harder foes that he had expected. His axe merely took chips out of their flesh, probably doing its edge more damage than they. The Erequith’s forces took note of this mortal on their side and the ice goblins, with low cunning, used their wands to freeze parts of the stone faerie he was fighting so that when he struck it again it shattered. The knights used a similar trick, with ice spreading from the wounds that their blades inflicted. Sigurd was able to down two stone faeries in this manner before there was a brief lull in proceedings.

No more stone faeries save Cyrgig were left standing, with several ice goblins and one knight also lying still on the ground. Sigurd boldy, if foolishly, charged Cyrgig. After the opening exchange of blows it was clear that he was outmatched, but that did not in the least deter him. It probably should have for Cyrgig’s next blow caught him on the side of the head and knocked him insensible. Fortunately for Sigurd, Cyrgig was using the flat of his blade. Whether this was his way of upholding the Queen’s Peace or due to some lingering loyalty to the covenant I know not.

Then, surrounded by goblins and giants as he was, Cyrgig laid down his sword, saying “I shall take my leave now” and melted into the ground. We hurried out to drag Sigurd back into the hut, where Erik revealed what a skilled chirurgeon he is in binding Sigurd’s wounds. A little later the Erequith arrived with a cold smile of triumph upon her face. She inclined her head a little to me when she saw me and I took that as a good sign that the trade we had come here for could be completed. I brought over the bronze goods we had shown Cyrgig and she airily agreed that the giants would transport the village’s ore back to the mundane realm in return. Given the amount of ore that emerged from the stores this help was much needed. She then told me to tell Sigurd that she would craft him a better weapon to face the stone faeries next time and that he could receive it when next we visit her halls. With that she departed, leaving Cyrgig’s sword lying untouched on the ground. It looked well made, with a fine bronze blade and an unusual decorative style that I did not recognise. I could see that there was a strong faerie magic about it, but sensing that it had perhaps been deliberately left behind by the Erequith as a test, or even as bait to entice me into some expensive bargain, I did not touch it.

With that we made our way home, following in the wake of the carts of ore. They were delivered as promised to the mundane level of the forest and such was the quantity that it took several shifts for a squad of grogs to carry all the ore back to the covenant. There it was determined we had got 57 pawns of terram vis! This may well be a one-off deal, for there are no longer any miners left in Stonevale, but it is nevertheless a fine sum indeed!
 
As for Sigurd, he recovered soon enough in the infirmary and was soon bragging of his fight in the tavern. No doubt his desire for glory and violence will drag me deeper into trouble from time to time, but good on him for that. You don't learn much by just doing the same thing over and over again. That said, if he goes and gets me killed, I’m going to look like the stupidest wizard ever to write here and, as I wrote earlier, there’s some pretty fierce competition.

So that’s 1279 as described by me. If anything else happened in Winter I’m sure Oratio will record it in his usual vivid detail when he takes up the journal for 1280.
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