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Scribed by Oratio

Spring 1285AD

We met in the council chamber and the mood was dark. My sodales looked unhappy and restless. I realised that this covenant needed a leader who was positive and could lead with enthusiasm, something I severely lacked. I suggested that I hand over the reigns of power temporarily to the ministrator until I had worked out why I was in such a dark mood. But my sodales pointed out this was a halfway measure and would leave the ministrator in a horrible position of having power but not knowing when he would lose such power, which was unfair. I realised that yet again I was trying to make a bad decision and then listening to the advice of Volutus, Terentius and Gnaeus decided that my time as pontifex was over and I announced that I would step down. Jari raised a point of order that the charter did not have a method of passing on rule after a resignation but Gnaeus quickly nipped in the bud this debate by saying who would do it if not him and so he took the heavy mantle of pontifex of Severn Temple covenant. Volutus accepted the role of ministrator from Gnaeus, which was strange because he would not accept it from me but maybe he had his reasons.

Terentius reported his encounter with Martin of Lydney, the spokesman for the werewolves of that village who are our allies. It turned out that the tracks that Terentius and Volutus saw in Mynedd Merddin were not werewolves but ancient wolves that initially caused the creation of the werewolves with their bite. Martin stated that, as long as we did not attack them or take their food supplies, we would be left alone, but I would not trust him personally. These new wolves will not attack a big group, but separated individuals would soon be hunted down and killed like all their kind. Whilst these creatures exist in the Regio, I will not be going anywhere near it. It was a relief that these wolves did not seem to be a resurgence of the bloodwolves that Ieuan corrupted but even so how could you trust them or sleep anywhere near them. I did have a theory that the Regio was echoes of time from the crystal caves and so these wolves from many centuries ago had reappeared as if they had never left, but Gnaeus was not able to spread any wisdom on the matter.

Moving on to other matters Jari suggested that Terentius should go to the heart of the forest to try and talk with the pagan spirit Lugh, but Terentius refused as he did not wish to become entangled in the machinations of the powerful spirits in the area. We discussed the Vis that I had saved for longevity potions and trade and questions were asked about the tithe and the great library. Gnaeus distributed 5 pawns of vis per season’s service and 100 silver pennies. Jari requested a few items to take to Irencillia with him and they were granted.

After only a few weeks, Jari returned to the covenant with important news. He had discussed the sword with Marissa, who advised him not to go to the house meeting as he would be questioned by some very old magi who would winkle out our secrets. He instead went to see an archimagus of the house and spoke with him to garner some wisdom. Apparently, Prima Merinita and Primus Ex Miscellanea are close and are in frequent communication with each other via the Redcaps.This would mean that between them they would rapidly work out our predicament and order us to take action. Thus, if we wanted to be masters of our own fate we would have to keep our secrets close until we had sorted them out for ourselves. With this news, we sent an urgent message to Hypatia to come back as quickly as she could, but realised that it would take her time to get away from her Regent duties in London.

The rest of the season passed peacefully.

Summer

We met in the council chamber with all including Hypatia present. She was rapidly brought up to speed concerning the change of pontifex, Jari’s news and Volutus’ and Gnaeus’ investigation in Cad Gadu. I explained my investigations and, although she gave me some sour glances, she seems to have calmed down greatly from when I brought the blade here initially. Indeed, she seems to think it may have been a manipulation by the fae all along, but could not say for certain if it was deliberate or not. Hypatia made a statement about her position and how if it was a choice between her and Theo to take the blade then she would do it as she had protections under the code and due to the crown. Jari pointed out it would also mean I would not be giving a powerful artefact to a mundane and thus break the code that way. Jari also described the writing on the blade and showed Hypatia the letters which he had scribed. She studied it for a few seconds and looked surprised but then stated that she did not know the language. Hypatia then went on to talk about the road to war and how the sword was a significant step towards it but that it was a path that many of the powers were pushing us towards. She also informed us of the politics of the Scots and York and how both might rebel, but how they feared each other more and so were stymied from performing any action. Terentius then informed Hypatia of the plague and our investigations about it, but we came to no conclusion about its origin or the motives behind it, though Holy Isle had been informed and was investigating. We then went on to discuss the sword and I suggested that I take the Nectan's water to try and locate the scabbard which can sheath it, as the scabbard hopefully most if not all of its warlike effects can be ameliorated. I also suggested that Merddyn might know of its location, but Hypatia said that travelling to the crystal caves was very dangerous as they had taken poor Erla from us. Eventually, my sodalis thought my idea about Nectan's waters had merit and we postponed the meeting till I had had the dream.

I went down to the stores and took the bottle which had lain there for a hundred year at least. The dust on it made it hard to read the label, but when I eventually removed the waxed cork from the bottle there was still some liquid inside. I sat in the Council chamber with Volutus watching over me in case of disaster and downed the draft. We waited, but nothing happened.We waited some more and still no result. We then went about our business with plans to report our failure on the morrow when the council regathered.

That night, however, I had a vivid dream. I was standing in front of a gatehouse with a big wooden door bound in iron. To one side a tree stump had a crow on it, or maybe a raven eating a dead mouse. I tried to open the door and at that point, the crow attacked me, scratching my face quite badly. I pushed and pulled the door. but could not open it, and then more crows came and attacked me. I quickly decided to cast magic and used Curse of the Rotten Wood on the door. he power of the spell flooded through me and I nearly lost control but luckily got it to take hold on the door in front of me. With the door gone, I entered into darkness and then found myself standing underground in a grotto or crypt. There was a gold cross on a low stone table and a communion plate and then I saw on the table the reliquary of a Saint and in that casket lay the scabbard I sought surrounded by the Saint’s yellowing bones. After I awoke, I used the skills I had developed over the years to understand my dream. The place was not symbolic to my eyes and it was an austere place underground, but the architecture of the crypt was that of a monastery, not of a castle, and so that gave us the clue we needed.

With the council reconvened, I told my tale and moods lifted a little as we did not have a clue how to progress beforehand​. Although I had agreed to teach magus Veddius the secrets of black powder, it was decided I should go to Oxford to read of saints and legends. Hypatia provided me with papers and I determined to go to Brother Avery of Corpus Domini and thence to the libraries of Oxford. Terentius said he would be on house business, Jari learnt Part the Yielding Boards, a spell to allow him easy access through doorways, Volutus determined to create an item of Call to Slumber, Hypatia had to return to London to resume her duties as regent and Gnaeus said he would bind the spell of The Aura of Moonlight into the light of Myrddin.

Myself, Barnabas and Jackelin journeyed to Oxford, but due to my aversion to the water, we went via Chepstow, Ross-on-ye and Gloucester, which meant the journey took a little longer but we stayed in taverns and were lucky to have no problems on our journey. As we passed through Witney we met a Knight in a tavern who was on a quest of his own. He explained he had had a dream and it seemed to direct him to a necklace. He explained the dream to me and it piqued my interest and so I asked him to come up to my room where I would try and interpret it for him. What I did not tell him was I was going to cast my magic of Perceiving the Dreamer's Dream so I could see for myself his magical vision.

In his dream he saw a knight wearing old fashioned armour consisting of big plates of iron. The knight also was wearing a wolfskin cloak with the head of the wolf around his helmet. The knight was walking through a deep forest from which cruel eyes watched his progress. He was accompanied by someone who I could not see, but I could sense his presence. He entered a clearing and there on an old gnarled tree hung a golden necklace which was obviously the target of his quest. He turned to his companion and said softly to them “Not this time my old friend, it's my sin and my responsibility, if I fail please make sure others do not fall under the same sin”. He approached the tree and suddenly one of the branches seemed to detach from the tree and become a huge serpent. The vision shifted and time had obviously passed. Now we saw a clearing on a hill surrounded by a forest, and on its peak lay a Celtic cross with a grave. Four knights tried to approach the summit. They were dressed well but with simple heraldry which echoed a time centuries ago; indeed for some reason I was reminded of Arthurian knights on a quest. Suddenly out of thin air a black leopard attacked and shredded one of their shields. They swung at it and, although one managed to land a blow, it vanished. Interestingly, even though the shield had been destroyed, the beast had done no harm to the knight who wielded it. This played out three more times until the knights, shaken from this fell beast, retreated down the hill. As they retreated, a shadow fell over the hill.

With that, I awoke from the spell and explained in couched terms what I had seen and how I had interpreted it. Sir Hugh thanked me for it and, after a bit of fumbling, I said if he wished to contact me to come to Lydney and say he wished to talk with John of Stone the scholar. He was going onward to consult with a person he called a magician called Cuthbert just to the east of Oxford, which might be someone for Volutus to investigate.

When we met Brother Avery, he informed me that his Primus and the quaesitor of his house had not called a house meeting, spent most of their time in the city of Rome and had banned the teaching of the Septum Sancti to any outside the house. All of these things troubled magus Avery and myself and we discussed what they might mean for the order and the house. The rest of my season was spent studying from the libraries and after much searching, I found a record of a Saint Kenneth, who had a blessed blade and who was buried at the ancient monastery of Lindisfarne.

The return journey was without incident and we arrived just before the council meeting for Autumn.

Autumn

We met in the council chamber with the leaves on the trees surrounding the covenant losing their vibrant green of summer and beginning to descend into their death and decay. We discussed ours options with the knowledge of the location of St Kenneth’s scabbard now discovered, The difficulty of stealing the relic from the crypt at Lindisfarne was not minor and after some debate about the best way to achieve our goal, it was decided that Terentius and Jari would sail there on the covenant ship and make the attempt, they decided on the items that they needed and the pontifex released them for this mission. Volutus said he would learn Glimpse through the mystic veil, Gnaeus studied from personal Vis and I said I would train Veddius the Mercere in the methods of creating a better black powder.

Terentius and Jari sailed from Chepstow on the Severn star and sailed up around Scotland, they did this to avoid the war between the French and the English which might have caused them problems in the English Channel.

One night a few weeks after Terentius and Jari had left the covenant a member of the turb called Moss had a premonition in which he saw his colleagues killed and burnt, he immediately informed his sergeant of this, and given that Moss had had such premonitions in the past and they were worth listening to he raised the alarm. It was however too late and suddenly the trees forming the defences around the south of the Covenant burst into flame. The alarm was raised and set the plan to light the beacon to summon aid into effect. I sent Jaquelin up to the top of the tower to light the beacon and then I then waited with Barnabas in the great hall waiting for instruction from the Pontifex. Unknown to me Jacquelin reach the roof just as an intruder finished off our man at arms up there. A quick fight broke out but my apprentice was not a warrior and had no hope, he fell to the ground unconscious and I count my blessings that the intruder had special orders and did not tarry to finish off my poor apprentice. More men were detected in the Covenant grounds by the Bears squad who quickly moved to intercept them, but these might have been a distraction to allow the roof intruder to do his deadly work unhindered. Gnaeus told me to go to get the sword and flee to Blackthorn, he said he would go up to the roof to make sure the beacon was lit. I went down to my sanctum and using Ruaridh’s hammer I extracted the blade. I then used the potion of leap of homecoming to apport to Blackthorn, when I arrived however the sword was not there and it was then that I recalled that the journal had stated that apporting with the treasures of Britain did not work. Using the spell the Leap of homecoming I apported back to my sanctum only to see it empty as the intruder had already been there and found the magical sword lying on the ground and had took it. I decided to follow to attempt to stop him with my Mentem magics. In the meantime it was later apparent that Gnaeus had met the Intruder coming down the stairs and a quick and brutal fight had occurred which ended in the man slicing open the throat of our Pontifex. The Intruder had met his gristly end however as he had met my protector who had at last entered the covenant and come to our defence. He then informed me to fly off and protect the sword whilst he went off in pursuit of the attacking entity from the south who had used the fire magic. I ran to the roof then summoning the winds about me I flew with the sword to Blackthorn to protect it. The fighting ended quickly in the courtyard as the Bears squad soon overpowered the men out there, however one man escaped into the treeline of the forest.

With the fight over, Volutus arranged the gathering of the corpses and a few hours later I returned from Blackthorn to see what remained of the covenant. Seeing it intact I landed and made my way to our new Pontifex . The Bjornaer magus who had come to our assistance returned to the covenant and stated that he could not find the enemy who had caused the fires. It was apparent that it was a gifted individual using hermetic magic who attacked us and then escaped via an apportation spell. He also stated that he would not trust the senior quaesitor Octavia as she might be a pawn of the faction of our order that is allying with the Church. We then determined to send a message to Martin at Lydney so they might protect our southern borders by patrolling there, I was not happy with wolves being allowed so close to the Covenant but if it made us safer here I decided to accept the discomfort.

I went onto investigate the corpses using the skills I had developed as a quaesitor. The clothing they wore was of French origin maybe of the Anger region. Checking their equipment, the man who had come in from the roof and whom had slain Gnaeus seemed to be more senior and his brass ring vibrated to indicate that it had some magical effect enclosed in it. The man had had two spells upon him one that smothered sound and a spell that appeared to enable him to walk on air, both with the sigil of twisting flames. This it turned out was the same sigil on the trees that had burnt and so indicated that the magus whom assaulted us had cast the magics or created the ring. Looking again at the senior dead assailant I noticed he had multiple cuts on his arm which I recognised as possibly being from a bloodletting ritual, indicating occult or infernal activity.

I then cast whispers through the black gate on one of the junior assailants corpses. He called me a traitor against God and he was to of cleansed with fire the bastard Cathar and regain the stolen artefacts. He was a driven man but not of monastic origin. The assailants had come come on a ship called ‘The Black Gull’ into a large port on the south coast of England and then moved directly to the covenant, they had crossed the river by small boat and then attacked. They were supposed to meet back at the bank with there leader who was a wizard. I then took a corpse of one of the junior men outside the covenant and using Vis summoned his spirit to it. I used my magics upon the spirit and force it to answer my questions. The senior dead man was called Vincent and they had general instructions to kill all and cause a distraction while Vincent made his way in stealthily, this had been planned about a moon before the attack. The wizard was called Leopolis or more commonly brother Leopold and used to belong to house Flambeau and live in the Larionda covenant in Provence, He had fled the justice of the order which had condemned him for assisting in the crusade against the Cathars and had taken up living Templar priory near Arles, there they assisted the Templars, indeed he and his men had killed a witch at an inn just south of Velance not long before the attack on our covenant.. The spirit told me that Leopolis had met an Angel and gained some power through him, this Angel apparently had a fiery sword although the spirit stated he had never met it personally but heard it second hand through Vincent. Vincent has told the men that the Angel had said that I had the holy sword that had to be recovered, they had a description of Gnaeus and myself which indicates they had those from the Tomer expedition. The man who had escaped was called Carl who was in his mid twenties with two scars on his face. If they had succeeded here they were to of gone on and killed the Queen in London whom he called a witch. I had forgotten how much I love investigative work, working with Barnabas we extracted information and kept at it, Luvidicus was right when he said I should get a familiar which supported me. My weaknesses.for stopping an investigation early is now balanced by Barnabas's determination to extract all the information. It made me long for my days as a quaesitor and working through a problem.

Terentius and Jari ventured north to Lindisfarne and came ashore north of the monastery and walked south from there so as not to raise suspicion. They set out a camp and observed the monastery from afar trying to probe its weaknesses. One of Jari’s men had the ability to command beasts and seemingly see what the animal sees, it sounds like a combination of Command the harness beast and Sight through the eyes of the ally, which sounds like an interesting mix of magics. The man saw that the monastery had visitors which looked like a noble who was arguing with the abbot and a man in templar dress. after the noble had apparently browbeaten the abbot they all went into the church together. They then left after an hour or so and the templar and noble rode across the causeway back to the nearby castle. The next day a ship carrying the templar and some of his allies left the castle harbour and went north to Scotland. Jari and Terentius prepared there theft and being invisible tried to cross the causeway, unfortunately Jari twisted his ankle and had to be carried back to safety by Terentius. After Jari's ankle was tended by his men they tried again and this time succeeded in crossing the causeway unscathed. They then used magics to enter the monastery via the main gain and thence to the church. Being the middle of the night they had no issue entering the crypt and saw that the panes of thick smoked glass were held in by lead. They prised the pane out but noticed that it seemed that this was not the first time this might have been done. Replacing the scabbard with a fake they replaced the pane of glass and then extricated themselves from the monastery with no issue. They then returned to the ship and back to the covenant.

On their return we convened a meeting in the council chamber and discussed the events. We decided to test the sword and slid it into the scabbard. After a few moments the scabbard blackened and then split leaving the sword naked again. It was obvious that this scabbard was a fake and on investigation we determined its age to be only eight weeks old or so. It was suspected that the Templars had recovered the sword only a day before our attempt, which was frustrating. With no further ideas coming from my sodales I suggested we go to the Grey hill to see if we could get a vision to help us from that magical place. However I was starting to feel that we were being thwarted at every turn and a dark mood was coming over me again.

The next day with a heavy heart I journeyed with Barnabas, Volutus and Lauren too the Grey hill and using the light of Myrddyn easily traversed the regio boundaries. At the regio where spirits appeared we met the spirit of Gnaeus and I apologised to him for his death, he dismissed my apology saying it was not my fault and I am grateful to his soul for that mercy he showed me. He informed us that death had freed him from the shackles of time but that the spirit world had rules that could not be broken and so what he could tell us was limited. He stated that I must place the sword into the hands of another and that the peace that we seek would be elusive but that one day it would come again. He then left us and we stepped through the next regio to the one with a cloudless night sky and a heaven full of stars. I looked aloft thinking whom I should give the sword too and soon my mind's eye was whisked away and I saw 3 figures standing near a sword in a stone talking, one was obviously the Morrigan another might have been Lugh and a man with a ferocious look on his face and a long spear was discussing the sword. Apparently Lugh and the man did not want to give Myrddyn the blade and wanted to keep it for themselves, but the Morrigan convinced them that the war was not theirs to fight and it was up to the mortals to decide the fate of all.

In the dream I looked up beyond them and saw that Mars and Venus were both in ascendancy with Venus close to the moon and Mars close to the horizon where the sun would appear from. I could tell this vision was of the past and so we are repeating a course that has been tried before.

Waking from the dream it was as I suspected of no help and we made our way back to the covenant with the last of the leaves falling from the trees and already the first hints of snow in the air , a gift from the mighty Erechwyth to curse our cold winter mornings.

Winter

The cold winds were biting that morning we met, and with no hope from the previous season it was a despondent council that met. Terentius reported that he had met with the werewolves of Lydney and done a deal with them so they will guard our southern borders. The grandfather wolf reportedly said that all who have the sight can see the sword in the spirit world which I know to be true but how can we trust a creature ruled by a wolf spirit. We discerned that the voices of the sailors on the Templars ship had Scottish accents and spoke Scots gaelic so that they had probably retreated to Scotland to hide the scabbard in a priory there. We all reported our visions from the Grey hill but it made no easier the choice I had to make. Hypatia reported that there was fighting on the continent , which was to be expected as the French and the English were at war, and that the French had captured some ports in Normandy which again seemed to always happen when the two nations fought. Some knights from Castile an Iberian Kingdom had joined the French at the annoyed Popes encouragement to assault the English armies. She then announced some news that I must confess caused me to cry out in anguish, Brother Avery in Oxford had been slain but no further news of why or what had killed him was forthcoming to ease my pain. There was some further discussion but I can barely recall it as my mind was swimming with grief. Earlier I had suggested that Magus Kareem might recover the scabbard for us for a payment but Hypatia mentioned that Kareem did not like her for some family reason so asking him to recover the scabbard would be in vain. Volutus said he would go to crystal caves with Arcanus to talk with Myrddyn but I doubted that would solve anything. I agreed to venture with Jari south to Glastonbury to talk of the sword with the shade of Morgana le fay who resided in a regio near the green chapel.

A few days later we held the funeral for my friend Gnaeus, he was a good man who tried his best but in the end achieved little. I wondered if that will that be my epitaph as well or should I have strived to accomplish something in my life that is positive. Some of the people from Blackthorn came down to remember him and we had a feast but the food tasted of ashes in my mouth, as I looked out at the burnt trees covered in snow.

After the funeral Jari and myself went south and Arcturus and Volutus went to the crystal caves to attempt to discover some knowledge about the sword and its fate, however I held no hope on the success of any of these missions as nothing we had done up to that point had helped so why expect a change in our luck. As a covenant since Tomer we only had one sort of luck and that was bad.

Inside the covenant the rest of the season passed quietly, with just Terentius there in the cold lonely place. We all returned to the covenant just a few days before the meeting and so saved our reports for the council meeting of spring.
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