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Scribed by Jari

Spring 1289AD

The year’s first council meeting began with a consensus, not necessarily a good thing, but in this case it was. We agreed that our top priority this year should be the retrieval of the Scabbard from the Templar stronghold of Roxburgh (assuming of course it really is there). To that end, Volutus and Terentius will spend much of the year engaged in various preparatory activities. If this makes it sound like Hypathia, Pyrrhus and I are being lazy, please bear in mind that Hypathia is the Regent of England and I’m trying to maximise the duration of the longevity potion that I’ll be brewing for myself this autumn.

While Mynydd Myrrdin remains of great interest, we agreed that it has to take second place to our efforts to retrieve the Scabbard, for now at least. Volutus suggested that it would be useful to see if any of the changes that have so affected Mynydd Myrrdin are mirrored in the faerie realm. While I wasn’t entirely convinced of the likelihood of such, it was nevertheless a good idea to check and, in any event, something that married nicely with my plans to return to that place as it has been some time since I had last visited the Erequith’s court for the mid-winter feast. Although I have no desire to follow the Merinitan stereotype of becoming inextricably caught up in the machinations of the fae and having my head turned by the undoubted rewards that could be accrued by involving myself in the service of one of the great faerie powers, it is nevertheless useful to maintain good relations with powers such as the Erequith, and most certainly to avoid angering her in any way. Hopefully I shall also avoid writing many more sentences as long as that last one.

Hypathia poured cold water on my relaxed attitude towards this covenant service by reminding me that the Silver Gate was wide open the last time I had seen it so who knew what could have come through. An unfortunately excellent point, we’d better be careful.

Happily, my good mood was almost instantly restored when Volutus announced that he would be awarding a rook of vis per season’s service last year and granted me the first pick of the available art types. In the spirit of true hermetic fellowship I immediately took as many pawns of the less common techniques as I could!

Two weeks into the season, Acerbia arrived at the covenant with two other magi and an assortment of well-armed and efficient-looking soldiers. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between them and our fighting men. It seems to be part of the essential nature of this covenant that our grogs have a somewhat relaxed and individualistic approach, no matter who is tasked to maintain order. The two magi accompanying our local Redcap were Senior Quaesitor Octavia, whose austere and stern demeanour matched everything I'd heard about her, and the tall and imposing Magus Fulvius of Tremere.

A short while after the group’s arrival, as they were settling into their various quarters, a somewhat sheepish-looking Volutus came to see me. It seems that he had been asked by the Senior Quaesitor over a year ago to bid me come and see her at Blackthorn. Even Bonisagi it seems are prone to forgetfulness! Ever generous of spirit, Volutus said that he would take full responsibility for this oversight.

Octavia wasted little time in requesting I attend upon her, so of course I made my way promptly to her guest quarters. She was formal but pleasantly polite as she sought to find out what I knew. I told her that I had been deep in the faerie regio while the magical storm in the Channel wrought its mischief, so she outlined the situation as she understood it. Someone, a pagan by the sounds of it, has been very naughty indeed, albeit in a good cause.

I confirmed to Octavia that while I had visited the base of the Morrigan’s hill I had not gone any further, nor had I seen any sign of anyone else there. She asked a few more questions about local pagans and activity but, not having been able to read our books yet, I could say little to aid her for I know nothing of any substance as to how the pagan powers work.

Jari’s private journal
Tempting as it was to ignore Octavia’s summons, given it wasn't my own neck on the line I suppressed my rebellious urges. I was on my best behaviour, dressed in formal robes and trying to appear sober and responsible. I was keen not to drop Hypathia in it, so àll in all it was a perfect opportunity to practise lying to the Quaesitori! I confess I was also curious as to whether Octavia seemed like the abetter of the Guernicans’ purported evil conspiracy or not. Always best not to base your worldview on other people's opinions.

Octavia appeared polite and even respectful, with no hint of accusation in her voice though given she’s a Senior Quaesitor I’d expect her to be good at concealing her emotions and thoughts. Things started well enough as she asked about the possibility the storm had been a creation of faeries of the court of water. I can’t imagine Marissa being particularly forthcoming with her, so Octavia may have viewed this as an opportunity to learn more about possible faerie involvement or capabilities. She asked about whether it was likely anyone had visited Llyr’s Winter Court and I happily told her what I knew about the wild and dangerous nature of that court in winter. Apparently satisfied, she moved on to pagan possibilities, starting with what had been gleaned from the Lladra.

Unsurprisingly, she was very interested in the role of the Morrigan and it wasn't long before I was on dangerous ground as she asked me whether I’d seen Hypathia or anyone else by the Morrigan’s Hill. The honest answer of course was that I’d seen a group of lights which I’d assumed was Hypathia, though I don’t know for sure. Fortunately I think I was calm and confident enough when I told her that I'd seen no one that she believed me. Knowing that no one else knew what I had seen certainly helped me lie more fluently.

Sadly, having got past the tricky point, I may have relaxed a little too soon for I became a little flustered as it became clear she was very interested in active pagans in the covenant. To that end, I may have inadvertently pointed her in the direction of both Cad Gadu and Blanche, but given it was surely Hypathia that did it, that should cause few problems.


Acerbia reported that the Symposium being held at Blackthorn next summer has two confirmed speakers, Laurius and Theophilus. Laurius will be presenting details of a minor breakthrough he has had in the parma magica, while Theophilus will explain something of his understanding of magical theory at the edges of Bonisagus’ theorems. There are two other possible speakers, Voressio on enchanting and crafting magical items, and Liberata on non-hermetic magica and occult knowledge. The rest of the season passed quietly.

Summer

Council began with an announcement by Pyrrhus announced that he now has another consors, the Holy Isle-trained Arnulph who will act as his shield grog and will dwell in his sanctum. Hypathia however bore a troubled look on her face as she bore the considerably less good news that Margaret, Maid of Norway and heir to the Scottish throne had died of ‘fever’ before even boarding the ship that was to take her to England and the care of King Theo. Although this isn’t as bad as having her die while under Theo’s protection, it does make real again the threat of an all-out civil war in Scotland. Hypathia believes there is time to avert this if King Theo can return quickly to try and force a parley between the warring clans of Balliols and Bruces. Whether or not the French will recognise this for the opportunity it will present to them is less clear. There was little else to report, save that Terentius will take the ship south to see Edenier of Verditius and thence North to his Domus Magnus, demonstrating how close our other covenants really are if we put our minds to it.

Autumn

Terentius reported that all had gone well at the celebrations held at mid-summer for his House’s formal opening of their new Domus Magnus, now to be known as “Eus Aquilae”, which translates as “Good Eagles”. Presumably some reference to Transylvanian heraldry or the previous Domus Magnus’s mountain location. Terentius relayed that another one of the party guests, Maga Elouise of Glenrisdell, has extended an invitation for Volutus, as our Civilitor, to visit her covenant, which lies in the Western Isles off Scotland. She said that Giantstone would also likely welcome visitors, but advised against going to any other covenant in Loch Lagleann without prior invitation.

More interesting than dangerously xenophobic Scots, was the conversation that Terentius had had with Magus Eremon of House Bjornaer, who now resides at Eus Aquilae. Eremon, who has a wolf heart beast, is clearly very knowledgeable about magical beasts and had a lot to say about some of the beasts we had encountered in our brief foray into Mynydd Myrrdin.

Regarding the cockatrice, it seems that the scorn of those former members of this council who mocked Magus Lothar for his purchase of a female domestic weasel was misplaced. Eremon said that the cockatrice is small and physically weak so it is easy prey for creatures who are immune to its deadly gaze, namely weasels and stoats. Eremon wasn't clear on whether the gender of said mustelids is important, but it would seem prudent to err on the side of caution. As to harpies, he confirmed the tales told at our council of magical screams that can drive men so mad that they no longer recognise friend from foe. Eremon had a pleasingly simple and practical solution for dealing with them, wax in the ears and a couple of skilled archers! Apparently their eggs are extremely magical so if his advice proves sound then an expedition to find their nest could be worthwhile. For the most dangerous of the creatures we encountered, or to be more accurate watched in horror as Moss and Laurent encountered, Eremon said that he had heard that music might sooth the chimera’s murderous instincts. Terentius’ slightly hesitant tone suggested that perhaps Eremon had not sounded quite as confident about this bit of advice so I won’t be rushing off to Mynyndd Myrddin with my lute. Terentius added that the chimera’s vision somehow works through the air not species of light so invisibility will likely not be a safe defence against them, nor illusions. Oh dear.

Terentius said that Eremon was keen to speak with the ancient magical wolves that the werewolves of Lydney described as the “Old Ones”. Terentius added that Eremon did not wish to explain any further his reasons for doing so as it relates to his medical heritage, something the Bjornaer are notoriously secretive about. Attitudes like this normally only pique my curiosity still further, but given all his helpful advice it seemed churlish not to grant him his wish and council duly did so.

Jari’s private journal
While magi such as Terentius and Volutus will doubtless see this as an example of the benefits of close cooperation, I think the real lesson here is the power of knowledge. Problems that initially seem prohibitively dangerous may well be solvable with clever thinking or a little research.


Of the Christians’ supreme overlord in Rome, Hypathia reported the news that, as had been feared, the Pope has made four templars cardinals. This is apparently the first time anyone from the monkish orders has ever been appointed to such a high position, deputies to the Pope himself! It remains to be seen how people across Europe will react to this, for there may be many who are uncomfortable at such a breach of tradition. I certainly hope so, let’s hope that people will turn against him as a result and at the very least weaken his power base.

Jari’s private journal
Let's also hope that members of Mercere and others in the know are quietly working to inflame such ill feelings.


We also heard from Cad Gadu that the latin copies of our pagan books are ready, though frankly I’ll believe that when I see them sitting in our library. Hypathia will help collect them in Spring, it would be immensely disappointing to have waited so long for them only to have them robbed at the last by some illiterate bandit or greedy town guard.

The only other matter that seems worth recording from the council meeting is that Terentius will spend the season making potions to turn the drinker into a mouse. While practical for mundane infiltration, it might also be an amusing way of dealing with enemies if he could brew a transform to cat potion next.

On a personal note, I managed to successfully complete my longevity potion this season, with the able assistance of Volutus. Given the many seasons of preparation and planning I’d put into it, I had been planning on a season-long binge once it was done, but alas my timing has been poor for next season I’ve promised to undertake a trip to the faerie regio as covenant service. Probably best not celebrate too wildly in the Erequith’s court, though perhaps a drink or two could be in order!

Winter

Hypathia reported that King Theo is back in England as the situation in France is relatively stable. I was naive enough to think for a moment that this had come about through the leaders of both countries having undertaken a mature analysis of the situation, how foolish of me! Apparently they’ve just both run low on money. Looking in the bright side, I suppose ongoing wars between the mundane armies keep them busy and reduce the risk of greedy eyes turning upon the Order.

Theo’s next task will be to try and stabilise the Scottish situation. More shocking however than the King of England actually being in England, was that Maga Hypathia will be studying in the covenant this season! She also said that she was planning to spend next summer here in further study. This should spare us any squabbling over who has to stay behind in the covenant while the symposium is underway, but does deprive us of some potentially useful certamen practice.

With little else of interest to discuss the council concluded and soon my companions and I set off for the faerie regio. We walked down through the forest, the sound of our footsteps deadened by the blanket of snow that already covered the ground. Happily Erik had learnt from his rather chilly experience last time when he'd neglected to touch the shield conferring a Ward against Cold and Ice upon him so there was no moaning about the temperature.

As we passed into the faerie realm and along the trod that leads into the deeper levels, I was reminded that I have still not made a serious attempt to see if the Palug can be restored. Previous information I've gleaned from Marissa and other sources suggests that telling tales of who he once was while sitting on his mound might call him back from wherever it is his essence is? Arcadia presumably, much as spirits may lie on the other side of the 'veil’ but dwell also in the pagan otherworld. I wonder whether planting one of my acorns might help things along?

Anyway, hoping to keep things simple and to avoid any entanglements or delays, especially with the symposium next summer, we set off across the snowy plains aiming for the Erequith’s caverns. It wasn't long before we heard sounds of fighting ahead and so with a muttered curse we snuck forwards to see what was going on. It turned out to be a fight between the forces of Stonevale led by Sir Turold and a smaller force of the Erequith's giants and goblins. Sir Turold, an example, if one were needed, of just how different the faerie 'part’ of magi that survives a trip into Arcadia really is to the mortal man he once was, quickly finished off his few remaining enemies and then turned to us. I suspect even Oratio could have worked out what was going to happen next. Sure enough, Sir Turold demanded that Sigurd fulfill his 'debt’ and join the forces of the Gofannan in the fight to retake Stonevale. He invited me to join them but not wishing to anger the dominant power in the regio I declined as politely as I could. This of course left us with the tricky decision of what to do next as the stone fae marched off to battle. Worried as I was about Sigurd's chances of survival, I dare not follow behind the army lest it appear that I too marched beneath their banner. Nor was I greatly keen about the prospect of turning up at court knowing an attack was about to happen and saying naught. If I were to inform the Erequith of what I had seen then Sir Turold claimed that Gofannan would see that as my taking sides against him, but equally it's hard to see the Erequith not being very cross indeed if I were to turn up but neglect to mention it. Such are the 'joys’ of traveling in this chaotic realm!

In the end, I set off for the Wizard’s tower in the hope that the diversion would take up enough time that by the the time I got to the Erequith’s caverns, the battle would be underway. The comedic episode that followed our arrival at the tower reminded me of just how much I rely on my companions. The snow had drifted to such an extent against the base of the tower that it was taller than me and I knew from past experience that it would be frozen too firmly shut for me to be able to physically open it. Eanfled of course went straight under the door and we had a helpful commentary from inside about how warm it was before he turned his attention to his favourite activity - hunting for shoes. Although the hunt went well initially, his excitement turned to panic as he feared the hunter had become the hunted! It’s probably best not to dwell too much on what goes on inside that unique head of his, but it did help lighten the mood. By strange coincidence, or perhaps not, one of the pieces of old junk we found to contain vis was in fact the remains of an old leather shoe…

Anyway, after some undignified fumbling in the snow looking for the keyhole and overly complicated plans around how quickly the snow would refreeze if I turned it to water, Erik and I finally joined our faithful fox inside. After gathering some vis for the covenant and having a quick bite to eat we made ready to leave for the Erequith's court. Eager to avoid a repeat of the feeble shenanigans trying to get the door open, I remembered that I did in fact have a spell perfect for such an occasion and, with a smug flourish, cast 'Part the Yielding Boards’. I like to think that the slight embarrassment that followed when nothing happened was worth the discovery of the tower’s magic resistance. I'd estimate it is about the fourth magnitude for a louder and less casual casting worked and we soon slipped back out into the snows.

Ere long the entrance to the ice caverns loomed ahead and we were guided swiftly to an audience. It was immediately clear that word of the attack had reached here for there was no sign of a feast, but instead giants and goblins readying themselves for battle. The Erequith was pleased to see me, but less so when I declined to join the battle or remove one of Gofynnwy’s brands. This was carried with the stone faerie army and clearly has great power against the Erequith’s forces. Something that could prove useful if relations with the Erequith ever turn sour, given we have a brand of our own in the covenant stores.

Unfortunately, Erik was less polite in declining. He even got slightly tetchy with her which was disappointingly stupid. Sensing an opportunity, the Erequith moved quickly to threats about how she might punish his rudeness. There was a slightly bizarre back and forth between the two of them about whether or not Erik’s honour would allow him to remove the brand. In the end, after allusions as to what Loki would do, he agreed to try and remove it from Stonevale for her. During all this I bit my lip as best I could, partly because she’s really rather scary, especially in her place of power, and partly because trying to persuade Erik one way or the other could have been construed as interference, making a tricky situation worse. The most I allowed myself to interject was with a loud coughing fit when Erik lost his mind and started to lecture her on honour!

Anyway, with Erik now with the Erequith's army, the rest of us followed her army at a short distance. The “rest of us” now consisting of a fox who gets chased by shoes and me. My other companions busy lining up on opposite sides of the battle. In truth I was a little concerned that if Sigurd caught Erik sneaking into Stonevale to steal the brand from the gatehouse he might cut him down on the spot. Happily the big lummox didn't spot Erik until it was too late and Erik was already running off, brand in hand, melting a circle of snow about him as he ran. Then the Erequith's forces charged.

The battle two’d and fro’d a little bit, but it was quickly obvious that Erik’s intervention had been pivotal. Sigurd got beaten unconscious by one of the giants but his chainmail and ‘Gift of the Bear's Fortitude’ saved him from serious harm. Sir Turold was not so lucky and was dragged, badly injured, off to the Erequith's dungeons. Erik was offered a big reward by a very satisfied Erequith and he asked for “One weapon, one prisoner and one song.” He was duly given Sir Turold's broken sword, custody of Sigurd and a promise of a song about Loki the Trickster at the next mid-Winter feast he attends. Hopefully there's a deal to be done for me there!

With that, after patching up Sigurd, we headed home, just in time for the end of the year and thus my stint writing this journal. Before I finish, I feel that I should note that, although they're often frustrating and sometimes create more problems than they help solve, I'm lucky to have the companions I do. I'm increasingly coming to believe that such independent minds and decision making are key to successfully navigating the strange faerie world which seems to constantly crave mortal intervention.
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