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Scribed by Terentius

Spring 1281AD

We met as a council on the first day of spring. Gnaeus had rejoined our number, and Oratio reappointed him to the role of ministrator. Oratio then recounted the tale of his meeting with the faerie knight Sir Maurice, who had ridden up to the covenant gates late in winter demanding an audience with the wizards. Sir Maurice declared that it was time for the mythical king Arthur to return, and he placed a geas upon Oratio to find his grave and lead him back to these lands. Oratio was initially minded to ignore this instruction, regarding it as something of an insult to his dignity, but Hypatia and I reminded him that faerie stories were replete with tales of ill fortune besetting those who sought to avoid completing such quests. He eventually decided that he would pursue the matter, initially by learning more about the legends associated with Arthur. This king is said to have been an inspirational leader who fought the Saxons following the retreat of Rome from these shores. His religious allegiances are unclear, for both Christian and pagan factions claim him as an adherent.

Jari then informed us that he had completed his investigation of one of the items left to the covenant by the former Archimagus Tiarnan of Merinita, a chain with a v-shaped pearl design. The item is rather curious, for it apparently denotes that the bearer is an ambassador from the court of Llyr, the faerie king of the seas, to the court of Gofannon, the faerie king of the undermountain. This is more than a mere masquerade, for in addition to granting safe passage, the faeries will apparently respect any deals conducted by the ambassador, though there is always the risk that inappropriate bargains will anger Llyr. Quite how we might take advantage of the item remains unclear, yet I have no doubt that Jari will find some way to make use of it.

Jari also explained that one of his a consors, Sigurd, had lost his duel with the faerie knight Sir Turold at midwinter. Turold had spared his life, though he demanded in return that Sigurd fight for him in one battle in the future. Jari speculated that this might require him to aid Turold to recover Stonevale from the forces of the Erechwydd, though I think it would be unwise to assume that is the only possibility.

The final matter we discussed related to previous news that the Moors of the Emirate of Granada and the Barbary Coast have discovered a way to use black powder to construct fearsome weapons that have won them battles on both land and sea. Oratio reminded us that the noted scholar Roger Bacon had authored a treatise on black powder some years ago, and he suggested that we seek to obtain a copy. Hypatia mentioned that there were rumours that Bacon had since improved the recipe, though he had not updated his previous work. Oratio therefore declared that, aided by some forged papers that Hypatia could obtain, he would attend the King’s College later in the year to see whether he could persuade Bacon to share his discovery.

Later in the season, the redcap Acerbia brought us news of the wider world. In the south of Iberia, a force of Templar knights supported by a great host of men-at-arms attacked the covenant of Lucia. The magi initially managed to defend their covenant using subtle magics, though the Templars appeared immune to their spells. During the siege, however, part of the wall that had been repaired with magic many years earlier mysteriously collapsed. The attacking force initially appeared surprised by this development, but they were eventually able to exploit the advantage and pour into the covenant grounds. Most of the magi were able to make their escape, though a member of House Criamon and a member of House Ex Miscellanea are missing, presumably either dead or captured. Acerbia also informed us that a new pope, Martin IV, had been elected. He had been quick to reveal his priorities by declaring a crusade against the Byzantine Empire, which has recently come into conflict with the Catholic kingdom of Albania. French and Venetian forces have begun to gather, no doubt eager to plunder under the guise of religious devotion.

Towards the end of the season, Hypatia returned from court with some news of interest. Martin, the new baron of Ipswich, has had his title confirmed by the king, and he has made his way from London to his barony. So far, there appears nothing untoward about the man; he is proud and severe, but that it is to be expected from one of his station in life. His mother has moved to a manor in a nearby village. Furthermore, the king of England is to get married. His bride is Beatrice, the daughter of Charles of Anjou, a supremely wealthy noble who has extensive titles and lands across southern Europe. Hypatia also announced that she had obtained credentials for Oratio that marked him as a visiting scholar from Oxford University.

Summer

At our council meeting, Volutus informed us that he had negotiated two deals with Carrion Moor covenant in his role as Civilitor. In the first, he secured the services of an apprentice herbalist who we hope will be able to assist Blanche in our herb garden. The magi of Carrion Moor extracted a heavy price for this, demanding several texts from our mundane library and twenty pawns of vis. In the second, he agreed a recurring trade arrangement under which our covenants will exchange five pawns each of Aquam and Ignem vis for five pawns each of Animal and Auram vis at every Tribunal meeting. This is a welcome arrangement for both covenants, since it gives us access to rare Forms and permits a broader study of the Arts.

The rest of the council meeting was fairly brief. Oratio informed us that, last year, the shade of the former Pontifex Astrius had provided him with the location of two items that had been hidden within the wall of the treasury. One of these bore the crest of the fallen House Diedne. Given the dubious provenance of the items, we agreed that Oratio would inform Holy Isle of his discovery. Oratio also announced his intention to travel to the King’s College this season to try to obtain a copy of the recipe for black powder.

Early in the season, I made my way to Ipswich with Branock and Gaspard, intending to learn more about whether the new baron had fallen under the sway of the demons that we believe possessed his father. My initial attempts to pose as an unremarkable traveller went poorly. I made an unconvincing excuse for my early arrival from Orford that raised suspicions about my intentions, and the innkeeper summoned a group of men-at-arms, who threatened us with imprisonment if we did not leave the village at once. I protested that we had committed no crimes, but they brandished their weapons and it was clear that they would respond with violence if we did not comply, despite the fact that we were unarmed.

The reason for their extreme reaction perhaps became clearer that night, for we were waylaid by a group of bandits as we camped some miles from Ipswich. It was a desperate fight, as they had the advantage of surprise and we were unprepared. Gaspard was cruelly slain, and it was only a heroic defence by Branock against multiple opponents that allowed me the get to my feet and conjure my weapons. The battle turned after I quaffed a potion of Veil of Invisibility and picked off several foes with my bow. Coldly determined to avenge Gaspard, I tracked the fleeing bandits to their camp and slew them all. I learned later that bandit activity in the region had increased since the death of the previous baron, as patrols had ceased while his son was away. It is possible that the men-at-arms in Ipswich suspected we might be scouting the place for potential plunder, and it will be interesting to see whether the new baron re-enacts the harsh penalties of his father.

Given the heighted vigilance around Ipswich, I decided to spend the rest of the season establish a false identity as an itinerant scribe who provides services to the middling folk in settlements across Suffolk and Norfolk. By travelling periodically between Colchester, Ipswich, Orford and Norwich before heading south to London, I hope that I shall be able to return in future as a recognised figure with a reputation for reliability and discretion. I was also able to take the opportunity to once again sneak into the forest behind Ipswich castle. The trail between the castle and the cave appeared unused, and there was no scent of human flesh about the place. I did, however, approach the cave more closely, and using Sense the Elusive Boundary, I was able to detect that there was regio just inside the mouth of the cave. I did not explore further, but this lends credence to the theory that Black Hugh may be hiding inside.

Autumn

At the autumn council meeting, Volutus brought us news from his House meeting, which had taken place at Durenmar at midsummer. He noted that he had travelled there aboard a new House Mercere ship that had been outfitted in anticipation of more challenging naval conditions, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea. The captain explained that the resurgence of the Moorish pirates off the Barbary Coast, coupled with increased patrols from French, Venetian and Templar fleets, meant that journeys in that region were now extremely hazardous, and he advised avoiding the area unless it was absolutely necessary. Fortunately, Volutus’ journey took him north to Bremen, and he arrived safely at Durenmar in short order.

House Bonisagus debated three motions. In the first, in response to a request from Primus Tremere, the House voted to recommend that the Tremere relocate their domus magnus to the Stonehenge, rather than Iberian, Tribunal. Having turned back the Mongols in the east, my House now looks west to address some of the great challenges that face the Order. In the second motion, the House voted to sponsor the establishment of covenants in wilderness areas so that magi who fear conflict with the church can move to more remote locations. Somewhat curiously to my mind, the House voted against an associated motion to sponsor a great project to investigate whether it is possible to adapt Hermetic magic so that it becomes more compatible with the dominion. In the final motion, the House voted against an investigation of whether the Stonehenge Tribunal had acted against the Code by interfering with mundane affairs. Volutus explained that there was a genuine alarm among some magi of the central Tribunals about Stonehenge’s actions, but the Primus spoke about the need for caution in making any such accusations given the manipulation of the Grand Tribunal vote against the late Archimagus Marius and the subsequent assassination of his son Urbanus, the former Primus of House Jerbiton. An associated motion to try to limit the political influence of the Knights Templar was ruled invalid by the Quaesitor of the House.

Next, Oratio spoke of his time at the King’s College in Gloucester. Posing as a visiting master, he had managed to gain the confidence of Roger Bacon and obtain a copy of the unpublished recipe for black powder. More darkly, during his time there, a mysterious figure had pointed him towards a copy of a strange text with the implication that it might aid his studies. Oratio had recognised this figure as a demon that has apparently haunted the college for many years, luring ambitious scholars into forsaking their legitimate studies in favour of hidden knowledge. Oratio said he was wise to this trick, and he had not even opened the text. The demon did not trouble him further.

The season itself passed without great event. I spent my time in London being trained in the art of forgery. By the end of autumn, I believe I had learned enough to make passable copies of a variety of documents, which should help us in future mundane interactions.

Winter

We held a short meeting at the start of the season, but no matters of import were discussed. Shortly thereafter, Jari led his companions into the lowest level of the faerie regio in an attempt to catch some of the brightly coloured birds that are said to be a source of auram vis. Alas, his efforts were thwarted at an early stage after his party decided to shelter from the cold in a well-appointed but apparently deserted wooden hut. Jari explained that he had assumed that the hut was maintained by friendly faerie folk who would provide food and shelter in return for gifts from weary travellers, but in hindsight the group should have been more cautious. In reality, the hut was a trap used by a faerie-blooded witch known as Maeronwen to lure unsuspecting travellers to their deaths. As the group curled up to get some sleep, they were transformed into a collection of animals, including a bear cub, boar, polecat and fox.

Only Jari proved immune to this magic, as he had not taken one of the bearskins that adorned the hut. As he considered how to rescue his companions, he heard an eerie singing from outside the hut, and he spied an ancient hag making her way closer. One by one, each of the animals fell into a deep slumber as the witch approached, leaving Jari hiding within the hut, an Imagonem spell masking his position. Jari had blocked the doorway to the structure, which flummoxed the witch for a short while, but to Jari’s dismay, she made her way around to the rear and rather inexpertly climbed through the window. A tense standoff ensued, but after the witch realised she could not pierce Jari’s magical protections, they reached an agreement: in return for gold, Maeronwen would release the animals; otherwise they were destined for her pot.

Jari returned to Severn Temple, and we debated whether to fulfil the bargain or attempt to capture the witch. I will admit that I found some of the proposed suggestions, which included a plan, if it can be called that, to rush in to burn down the witch’s hut without any knowledge of her capabilities or how to trap her, to be reckless and irresponsible. In the end, good sense prevailed, and we decided to gather all of the covenant’s gold and pay the ransom. The cost to the covenant’s finances was very heavy, yet I was impressed that no one baulked at the price, which I think reveals much about the sense of solidarity and comradeship here at Severn Temple. Jari travelled to the Palug’s glade to make the exchange, and the witch lived up to her side of the bargain, releasing the animals. The matter is not over: even were we minded to pay back the witch for her actions, we currently have no way to transform the animals back into people. This is a task that Jari will have to investigate in the coming seasons; let us all hope that he avoids further disasters.

The final item of note during the season was a visit from the redcap Acerbia. She had two pieces news: first, Praeco Arcanus has called a meeting of the Stonehenge Tribunal for midsummer next year at which Primus Tremere will address the gathering; and second, Quaesitor Faelon has agreed to hold a meeting of House Ex Miscellanea directly after the Tribunal Meeting, at which the House will appoint a new Primus.

The rest of winter passed peacefully.

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