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Scribed by Volutus

Spring 1288AD

With Jari still There are many twists and loops within the ribbons of fate, and the relief and gladness that the first council of the year brought us with the return of Jari from the faerie regio was tempered by disappointment and sadness as Oratio confirmed his determination that he would leave our covenant and take a place with the magi of Holy Isle. Our sodalis came to Severn Temple in the year 1220 and he has had a part in many significant events, both within this tribunal and the wider order. He led the council for several years through difficult times and, while it would be remiss of me to fail to acknowledge that in recent times he has sometimes been a brooding and troubled presence on our council, he has played his part in rebuilding some of the strength that the covenant lost at Tomar. It is plain that those events still weigh heavily upon him, and perhaps it is best that he seeks a new start away from the memories of his former friends lost in that disaster, but his departure is nevertheless a loss to this covenant. We formally voted to accept his petition to depart and he announced that he would not tarry beyond the end of our meeting. We further agreed that with Jari having only just returned a decision on the application made by Magus Pyrrhus would be deferred until our summer council, where we shall also discuss whether to adopt a new charter for the covenant.

We next discussed the formal investigation being led by the Senior Quaesitor into whether Hypatia was involved in the great storm that ruined the French fleet. Last season we were all questioned on this matter and it is clear that despite the impossibility of our sodalis submitting herself to extended periods of questioning, given the nature of her position in the mundane sphere, she must herself speak with the Senior Quaesitor urgently. With our discovery, following our questioning of the Lladra, that the Morrigan had some hand in this matter we agreed that she and I would travel to Blackthorn following our meeting, though we will travel to Cad Gadu first so that she may speak with Primus Galioin prior to meeting with Octavia. She will then return to London.

We turned next to a discussion on what action we should take next regarding our search for the scabbard that may help to temper the effects of Excalibur. After appraising Jari of what had occurred while he had been gone we discussed the options and agreed that Jari should speak with Renwick and see whether it might be possible to divine some guidance. It is clear that we shall need to venture to Loch Leglean at some point, and likely soon, but with Scotland so dangerous at the current time the more information we might garner the better.

The spoke next on the likely return of Black Hugh to his cave in Norfolk. With message having been sent to Emerius we agreed to wait his response before deciding how we will proceed, although again this is a matter that we cannot allow to fester before taking action. With Hypatia’s suggestion that there may be a new power of some kind within Mynydd Myddyn we also need to make some investigation of that place once more and we agreed that unless other events preclude it we would make a journey there in Summer.

Our council then asked Jari to relay his tale and why he has been delayed for so long but it swiftly turned to a familiar argument between Terrentius and Hypatia as to what she was able to say about her own travels after taking the sword. She told us for the first time that there were secrets of others involved as well as her own and repeated that she would tell us the tale when she was able. Terrentius asked Jari if he had learned anything more and our sodalis said that he had learned nothing that affects the covenant, save that the Silver Gate has opened once more. He bade us to take great care if within its vicinity for it seems that it exerts some lure upon men and if touched one might be lost for ever in Arcadia, a fate that seemingly almost befell his consors Sigurd. He also told us that Gofannon is apparently abroad and that the faerie smith Gofynwy is an amicable host though the path to his cave is most treacherous. He had recovered some vis from the tower, spoken with the Erechwydd and travelled to the foot of the Morrigan’s Hill. He was surprised at how long had passed since he left but I do not sense that he believed he had been waylaid in any way.

Myself, Terrentius and Jari all indicated that we would be studying from personal vis this season.

It took just a single day for Hypatia to make her way to Cad Gadu and return to our own covenant, although the means by which she travels so fast remains a secret to her alone. She was able to confirm that the texts on pagan practices that they have been translating for us are largely completed and we should be able to collect them late this year or early in the next. We then travelled together to Blackthorn to speak with the Senior Quaesitor. She questioned me further on the Lladra’s claim that the Morrigan had been involved in the matter and asked whether any of the council had had any dealings with the entity or visited the hill in the forest named for her. I reported that I believed Jari had travelled in that vicinity while he was searching for Hypatia and he will be questioned on the matter. Hypatia herself was in conversation with the Quaesitor late into the night and most of the following day. I understand from my sodalis that she was satisfied with her statement, and Hypatia further expressed her belief that Octavia is irked by the task she has been given, perhaps due to pressure to reach a particular verdict. I took the time to speak a little with Magus Theophilus and Maga Acerbia, the latter of whom was able to provide directions to the tavern where Renwick may be contacted.

Volutus’ private journal: After some discussion with Hypatia we agreed that there was no need to raise the information that she learned from Cad Gadu that Maga Lluddwyn has spent a great deal of time studying from the texts that we provided them. It should not come as a surprise that a maga who is said to practice the old religion might wish to study such works and I would not want us to be party to sowing unfounded rumours about other magi, particularly those from a house that have suffered at the hands of ill founded suspicion in the past. However, my sodalis seems convinced that the great storm was raised as a result of intervention from somewhere within the order. While discovering whether this is the case is clearly a task for the quaesitorii it is clear that Hypatia has more than a little interest in determining some of these answers for herself. The corruption that we believe has found a place within certain parts of House Guernicus and others within the order is leading to the need to make troubling decisions for all of us and I can only hope that we are following the best path.

Hypatia departed Blackthorn for London and I returned to Severn Temple accompanied by Maga Acerbia. There she brought us news that the Stonehenge tribunal has been deferred a year in order to take place at the same time as Theophilus’ symposium and will thus take place in summer of 1290. She also had troubling news from Rome. It seems that Pope Honorius had been taken gravely ill and was pronounced dead to those in his closest circle. Yet some hours later it was announced that he had recovered, the story being that his physician had made an error. While such is not entirely uncommon, though perhaps rare for those of status, the Order’s suspicion of events has been further raised by reports from House Mercere spies that during the period between his supposed misdiagnosed death and subsequent recovery his chambers were visited by Templars. Details of who these men were have not yet been discovered but that House pursues the matter. The news is not well known within mundane circles and the pope himself has reduced his public duties since it happened. A further cause for worry is that he has announced that six new Cardinals are to be appointed, a significant number given that there are only twenty-eight currently. Acerbia also brought news from Scotland where it seems that three main factions are driving the continuing skirmishes and clashes between the clans. The two Scottish noble houses of the Balliols and the Bruces are perhaps the lead influence on the troubles but there is also a group favouring the three-year-old daughter of the Norwegian King. She is named Margaret, Maid of Norway, and seems to have a good blood claim to the throne as she is niece to the former Scottish King.

Acerbia also bore with her a letter from Magus Artoros of Giant Stone covenant. It was a very polite and formal missive but with some good detail about the Templars in Scotland, as their own concerns have led them to set spies widely. They observed that there was little trade and traffic between the different monasteries save for a number of messengers. They have a ship called the North Star which seems likely to be the one identified by my sodales when they journeyed to Lindisfarne. Roxburgh Castle itself has as many as a dozen knights and its wealth was confirmed, with it having built up substantial land holdings and trade arrangements in the 100 years since it was founded. The Magus also reported that they were certain that there has been contact between Roxburgh and Templar masters on the continent.

There was little else to report during the season save for some sad news from Jari. He had made his way to speak with Renwick but learned from the keeper of the tavern we had been directed to that the magus had passed away.

Summer

Our council started by discussing the petition of Magus Pyrrhus to join our number. We agreed that it should be the first order of business, albeit after some heated discussion and a formal vote, so that if invited he might also have a say in any change to the charter. He made a short presentation and was then questioned at some length by our council. I am glad to report that following a unanimous vote in favour he was invited to take a seat at Severn Temple and thus he has become the 36th member of the council since the covenant’s re-founding a little over two centuries ago. He has taken the laboratory in the basement which was formerly occupied by Oratio. On the matter of the charter it was agreed to defer discussion until our next meeting to enable Pyrrhus to properly familiarise himself with the proposed changes.

Hypatia reported some further news regarding the Scottish crown. It appears that the consensus around Margaret of Norway is growing but her father, King Erik, wants a powerful guarantor of her safety. Our own King Theo has been asked to be that guarantor and Hypatia had been asked by him to consider the matter. Agreement would bring Margaret to Scotland, likely giving England a better relationship with that Kingdom and possibly giving some influence over the position of the Templars there. It may also provide an opportunity for further alliance by marriage in the future should Theo have a son. There are risks however, both temporal as Bruce and Balliol may not be so ready to cede their own claims, and Hermetic as Theo strengthens his own position and thus increases the threat from the conspiracy against him and our sodalis. It will also mean that Hypatia will spend yet more time on mundane affairs when it is her hope that she may have an opportunity to spend less time in those circles in the coming months. The general consensus within our council was that influence over the crown of Scotland was too great an opportunity to pass over. Hypatia will once again be in London for the season.

Volutus’ private journal: I wonder at how swiftly some of my views have changed as I took part in this discussion. While clearly we have not used magic, and thus are no court wizards, our guidance is helping to inform the mundane ruler of this country as to his decisions and as I think about it I wonder how much clearer our interference in mundane affairs could be. While I recognise it is the presence of Hypatia on our council and the support within the tribunal for this experiment that has made such discussions seem almost normal it is not so long ago that I urged greater caution on such matters. Perhaps I should again, as this stipulation of the oath was surely brought in to protect the Order, but likewise I cannot deny the benefit of this influence to the Order here on these isles. A philosophical conundrum that I cannot reconcile at this late hour, but one that I should nevertheless reflect further on.

We spoke next of Mynydd Myddyn. Hypatia thinks that some spirit or creature from what she calls beyond the veil, but which I suspect many of us think of as a deep magical regio, has come to the hills., although not the crystal caves, and made a home. It is likely that this presence is changing the magic of that place once again and possibly we will see significant changes in the occupants. We agreed that myself, Terrentius and Jari would travel there with a number of companions and grogs to make some assay of the place. Pyrrhus, who will remain within the covenant and scribe some of his spells as a service, suggested that it might be worth speaking with the werewolves of Lydney, and more specifically the Grandfather Wolf spirit, to se if they know anything about the changes there given their ancestral connection with that place. We agreed that this was a good idea and that we would call on our way.

I reminded that council that at the next tribunal each magus is required to pay a tithe of five pawns. However, undertaking a season of scribing for the Great Library will be rewarded with a payment of 8 pawns.

It was a total of ten of us that departed for Mynydd Myddyn; the three magi, four of our companions and three grogs. As discussed at our council Terrentius and Jari met with the Grandfather Wolf, while I remained in Lydney with our company, who believed that it might be possible to glean some information about the place by communing with the wolf spirit. It seems that this spirit would not be willing to come to Jari as his blood is not that of the wolf. Quite what this means we were unsure but while Terrentius was apparently of appropriate blood to speak with this spirit he was unwilling so the Grandfather Wolf said he would do so himself. He reported the following morning that he had learned an old wild power has made its home at Mynydd Myddyn, though whether it was a power returning or one there anew he could not say. In his view the lands beyond the veil had found a place in our world due to the influence of the girl and the crown. He said that a great change had come upon the place and it now reflected a time before men came to power; a land where men have never walked. He said that in such a place the forests were awake and the trees could move, the rocks would be aware and watchful and creatures of all types would be able to speak with one another and would have established hierarchies much like our own. He believed that the ancestors of his people, who he called the Old Ones and described as great wolves with silver eyes, were present there and that this return was significant, although he was not sure in what way. He said that these Old Ones were greatly fearful of creatures called the Shining Ones who were neither men nor beasts. He said that the spirit did not know if they were present in that place but we should be careful. He gave Terrentius a gift, a carved bone that would indicate that we were friends to the Old Ones and asked that he shared anything he learned of the Old Ones on his journeys, to which my sodalis agreed.

Following this discussion we boarded our barge, travelling up to Skenfrith before heading across country into the hills. We made camp at the usual spot and during the night one of the grogs, a man named Moss, had a vivid dream, perhaps a vision, of those in the camp being entwined with roots and vines. Keeping a good watch we could hear the eerie noise of trees moving upon the hills; for some time the usually bare hilltops were forested although the view had returned to its usual state by the morning and we ourselves were not harassed in any way. Terrentius checked the aura at the campsite and determined it was magical and of the first magnitude. We made our way to the white stone and as we passed three times widdershins about it the land about us changed further. The cliff was as steep as it usually is within the regio but now the top was covered in thick and ancient woodlands. To the north a strange keening sound could be heard in the sky and Terrentius suggested it sounded like tales he had heard of the Harpy or Valkyrie, monsters of the air that it is said can manipulate the minds of men. The sky itself was deeply overcast and glowering and we could also hear a cracking sound atop the steep slope that was suggestive of the movement of trees. Terrentius headed up first in the form of a wolf, whereupon he was able to use the wand to create the ladder by which the rest of us would follow. He let us know that the trees were densely packed right up to the very lip of the top and that a thick ground mist was also present. Even with the ladder the climb was difficult and my consors Lauren fell perhaps a third of the way, although the enchantments we had placed around everyone meant it was just his pride that was hurt. A grog called Aylwin also got stuck a little over midway, a mixture of tiredness and fear I suspect, and had to be pulled up on the ladder, but otherwise all made it up safely. We determined to head towards where the tower, built by the magi who first resided in Severn Temple before the re-founding, has always stood. The going was immensely tiring, the thick woodland containing barely even the slightest of animal trails and the ground mist making it hard to see our footing. We had travelled perhaps half way when the grog Moss suddenly fell as a hole in the earth opened up beneath him. The pit he fell into was extremely dark but, due to a faerie gift or curse from the Queen of Snakes, Lauren was able to spy through the gloom. There he saw that Moss had taken some injury but also that there was a fearsome creature emerging from the tunnels into which the grog had fallen. Terrentius later identified it as a Chimera, a slate grey creature half-Lion and half-Snake and said to have the strength and venom of those creatures. It is also claimed that if it tastes your blood it will pursue you to the end of the world but the veracity of this I can not confirm for Moss was slain so quickly I am not even certain he knew the creature was upon him. As Lauren looked down the Chimera looked up, and as they locked gaze my consors appeared to age by perhaps a decade. I pulled him back from the edge and after determining that he was still fit to walk, although gravely shocked, we agreed as a party to press on.

The mood, following on from the sudden death of Moss, was subdued but perhaps our hearts gladdened a little when coming to a clearing we indeed saw the ruin of a stone tower. It was encompassed by a tree that had grown through and around it but the stone still seemed hale enough and we decided to make a camp within, although as is common in Mynydd Myddyn there was no indication that there would be any change from the dim light of the overcast day. We placed some markers by the trees to see if there was any movement as he camped and also cast around for tracks. We found two sets of these; one was perhaps three or four large wolves that had skirted the edge of the clearing, the other bony feet like a bird but with the tail of a serpent. Such markings indicate a cockatrice, another creature with a dread gaze. Terrentius also determined that the magical aura here was of the 5th magnitude. Our unease growing, we took turns to get some rest and keep watch. As we did so we heard the sound of something moving outside through the woods but there was no approach into the clearing so we remained within the tower. Later we checked for tracks again and it looks like it was the small pack of large wolves, or Old Ones, that had passed by once more. It also looked like there had been some movement of the trees themselves, although not by any great distance, more as a man who stands for some time will resettle his feet from time to time. After some discussion we agreed that we were not sufficiently prepared for the threats that we had encountered, let alone those others that might exist, and determined to return to the covenant.

As we struggled back through the forest, with Terrentius’ keen sense of direction guiding us, we encountered yet another strange beast. It was of great size and had some similarities to a tree in terms of it’s bark like skin and the branch and root like fronds and limbs growing from it; we later speculated that perhaps it was some sort of wood elemental. Initially we had spied it with enough time to avoid it’s path but as we spoke it seemed to hear us and Terrentius’ companion Brannock, a man of stout heart but less wit, was neither quiet or quick enough to avoid it crashing upon him. While he is a fearsome fighter indeed, and with the magical protection upon him was near immune to it’s blows, he could not avoid the branch like limbs grappling him and was caught in a vice like grip before he had done little more than strike one of them off. As the rest of our party engaged with weapon and spell the creature seemingly resisted everything until a combination of torch oil and fire lit it sufficiently to drive it away. Brannock had suffered a broken arm and leg and Aylwin was sorely injured. Pausing only to stabilise wounds and arrange some means of bearing our companions we hurriedly departed, every noise we heard now seeming like a threat from this place. Eventually we reached the steep slope and cast the ladder down. Tragically, while most successfully made their way down safely, the doughty grog Jocelin lost his grip and fell from close to the top. Even his toughened skin was not proof from so great a fall and he was instantly slain.

On our return to the covenant we called in again on Grandfather Wolf just outside Lydney and discussed what we had seen. The creature that we had speculated was an elemental was named by him as a Velka, from old tales he had heard of the spirits of the forest. He said that such a creature was antithetical to men and had existed since mankind first cut down the forest to tame the land, although in legend it was alleged that they had also been called upon by Druids to attack their enemies. He said that they were very tough but had little defence against fire. We had recovered one of it’s limbs and this contained three pawns of Herbam vis.

We had been gone not even a full turn of the moon and so I spent the remainder of the season extracting vim vis for the covenant, with Jari making a journey across the region to further our local mundane intelligence and Terrentius travelling to the East to make further investigation into Black Hugh.

Autumn

We commenced our council by relaying the events in Mynydd Myddyn, and what we had learned from the Grandfather wolf, to Hypatia and Pyrrhus. She said that she had heard of the Shining Ones which in legend have been identified as ancient magical spirits present within the ancient magical forest that covered the land before the coming of man. It has been suggested that as the land was tamed they became faeries or maybe even the pagan gods but in truth nobody knows. She suggested that if one of these has returned then it has come from a place very deep in the magical realm. We agreed that while we were all keen to make further investigation of Mynydd Myddyn there is a lot of preparation needed before we should risk the dangers again.

Terrentius next updated us on his journey to East Anglia. He reported that with the Baron away on campaign in France banditry has risen in the area again. He further reported that while the cave hidden in the forest near the castle still has a regio upon it there was no sign of the infernal taint that has sometimes been present, and he saw no sign of the infernal creatures that have sometimes spied upon him. What this means exactly is hard to discern but we will send word to Emerius once more so that he is aware there does not seem to be any good intelligence on where Black Hugh may be found.

Jari reported that as he had travelled around the Dean he had heard that the Queen regent had been negotiating with the Scots in the North but also heard men in their cups complaining about the state of excommunication upon the country and questioning how long Theo may be king for, although not openly. He believes that there may be a priest preaching against Theo somewhere in the Monmouth area. He also brought ill news from Gloucester that Roger Bacon is reportedly on his deathbed. This was clearly upsetting for Pyrrhus who has openly expressed his admiration for the scholar’s work and he resolved to attend King’s College this season to see if he could meet with him. Hypatia will provide him with a letter of introduction as a man in her service. She further updated us upon the negotiations north of the border. Scotland will remain independent but will recognise Theo as their feudal lord until Margaret comes of age. She believes that Balliol and Bruce have agreed as their desire not to see the other succeed is so great. She also reported that the Praeco and both Primi within Stonehenge, as well as the Praeco of Loch Leglean, have supported the action. Word has been sent to Norway and it is expected that Margaret will travel next year. Our sodalis will need to continue to remain at court for some time yet but is hopeful that Theo may return to the country soon, possibly even next year.

We next turned to the proposed new charter. It seems that there is support for the vast majority of it but that there are two points that require further work to be undertaken before the charter can be ratified. One is that there is a desire for formal roles to be contained within the body of the charter, rather than defined by council decision. The other is a feeling that there should be a rethink on how sanctions are applied to those who fail to uphold the charter, with something perhaps closer akin to how it is presently, although with the removal of some of the more extreme elements. It was agreed that Jari and Hypatia would take the time to develop these proposed amendments and the charter will be brought back before the council when this has been done.

Both Jari and Terrentius are studying from vis this season and I am learning the enchantment Restoration of the Defiled Body that I may restore the years that Lauren lost to the Chimera last season.

The season passed with little event save for events at King’s College. I received a visit from Hereward, a grog whose good service to this covenant has been recorded on more than one occasion, who had accompanied Pyrrhus to Gloucester. He reported that initially all had been well and that Pyrrhus had met with Roger Bacon and another scholar named Marcellus Ingentibus. However, he had been given a book by one of the librarians that he was now obsessing over and Hereward reported that he barely ate or slept and that the Vice Chancellor had not been able to reach him. Suspecting that this was the work of the demon that seems often to be present at the King’s College I travelled there myself. I was unable to persuade Pyrrhus that he was under any malign influence but did get him to agree to me using the diamond tipped wand to cast a ward against demons so that he could get me to leave. As I did so the book that he had been studying evaporated into black smoke and our sodalis had his mind restored from the evil influence placed upon it. At the end of the season Pyrrhus returned and with him came the scholar Marcellus who he has declared as a consors. I understand that he is an alchemist and will move into Blanche’s old quarters with the current occupant, our herbalist, content with the building of a new cottage by the herb garden.

Winter

It was immediately apparent that Jari had suffered some misfortune during his season studying vis for as he arrived at council all could see that one of his eyes was perhaps four times its usual size. He seemed quite sanguine about it and said that he did not feel there was any need to attempt to magically restore it unless the effect continued to linger beyond the winter. It is clear that he is taking his preparation for crafting his own longevity potion next year very seriously for he is returning immediately to vis study this season. Hypatia had little news save that the continent is largely quiet, with the English and French forces both somewhat exhausted. Terrentius believes that the best way to continue our investigation at Roxburgh is to learn more from those who work there, hopefully leading to identification of which of the knights may know the whereabouts of the scabbard. To that end we agreed a number of tasks that we would pursue over the next two years in order to support him, and most likely others, in pursuing this matter. I will focus on crafting a magic item to both allow questions to be asked of a man’s mind and also the taking of arcane connections. Terrentius will commission an item from Ydenia to allow him to see and hear distant images of a place he has an arcane connection to. Both of us were studying within the library this season and Pyrrhus agreed to extract vim vis as his second service this year. With that my scribing is over for there were no other events over the peaceful course of the season.
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