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Scribed by Hypatia

Spring 1292AD

We met as a council of four in spring, as Terentius will be locked away in his sanctum for much of this year enchanting the cords between himself and ‘Meliorax’. Jari reported the departure of the fae serpent which had attached itself to Branock, speculating that the faerie might owe Terentius’ companion a debt after transporting it from Abingdon, but there was no other news to report. After identifying some possible covenant services for this year, Volutus moved to the distribution of vis and coin for services performed across the last.

I raised a question regarding the warning from the Red Cap of a wizard of the Unnamed House having eluded the magi of Holy Isle in Harlech; whether there was any chance that this same individual might be behind the disturbing events at Abingdon. We agreed to check the dates of these events with Acerbia.

The council meeting drew to a close and I travelled to attend court at Durham.

Hypatia’s private journal

The negotiations in Durham were lengthy and not always smooth and good tempered. Out of the 13 competitors for the Crown of Scotland, John Balliol and Robert de Brus were most serious contenders. Of course, Theo listened to the petitions and promises from all of them and we spent much of the season trying to reason out the best way to disappoint those that Theo would not select and the consequences, for politics in Scotland and England, of his eventual selection.

The older man, Balliol was the more accommodating of the two rivals. Knowing of Theo’s difficulties with Rome and the problems that this created with some of the nobles in England, Balliol was swift to offer an assurance that Scotland would raise an army to help Theo defend his Crown – and wanted Theo to reciprocate this – and march to his aid should his rivals seek to overthrow him.

De Brus on the other hand, was a young man and, despite his education and father’s coaching, was far less accomplished as a diplomat. It was clear that he had been counselled to offer Theo as little as possible to secure the throne, but his inexperience meant that he came across as somewhat vacillating when presenting his case to Theo.

In the end, Theo selected Balliol – a choice that might be considered weaker for Scotland than for England. However, whilst Balliol stays true to his oath, Theo should have much less worry about York’s ambitions. The process of delivering this news to the various parties and managing the disappointment of twelve powerful Scottish families took up the remainder of the season.


Summer

With Terentius beginning his third season of the familiar enchantment, the council met in his absence on the morning of summer. Volutus began by breaking the terrible news that Primus Providus of Bonisagus had passed into final twilight towards the end of Winter 1291 and that his House was due to meet later this season to choose a new Primus. This appears to confirm something of the prophecy by Praeco Rochus of Ex-Miscellanea, who told Volutus that his Primus would not survive to preside at the Grand Tribunal in 1296 (now only four years away).

I reported Theo’s selection for the Scottish Crown and also that I had sent letters to Karim and Edward regarding the activity of Templars near York and the appearance of a ‘necromancer’ and the earthquake in Rochester.

In other news, it appears that Holy Isle lost the trail in Harlech early in the winter of 1290, which means that the events at Abingdon around the middle of spring 1291 could be the work of the same infernal magician with the sigil of rotting flesh. The possibility that the unnamed House is responsible for the disappearance of the monks and destruction of the abbey has been communicated to the dedicated covenant.

There was also a little more detail about events in Rochester: The ‘necromancer’ that was arrested was a man named Wakelyn, and it appears he may have escaped when the jail in which he was being held prior to hanging was damaged by the earthquake.

Other than confirming that one of the King’s agents would be waiting to train Jari in London, there was little discussion to report and the short meeting ended.

Hypatia’s private journal

We had a lengthy discussion regarding the death of Providus and likely succession within House Bonisagus. Last year, Galioin and Julius appeared almost sanguine that – under his careful stewardship – the tribunal would give me a fair trial and exonerate me for the storm and the death of a Red Cap. The Primus’ death throws that influence and the balance of the voting at the Grand Tribunal into great doubt.

Volutus urged me to take seriously Rochus’ vision and the warning that I should not attend the Grand Tribunal. It’s clear that Rochus made an impression upon him, and our Bonisagus does not dismiss non-Hermetic magic out of hand. However, I am placed in an impossible bind – if I attend and the trial is like that my grandfather faced, then I can look forward to circumstantial, perhaps even false evidence, being used to play upon the prejudices and the very real fears of Magi living on the continent; and my life – or at very least my gift – will be forfeit. If I fail to attend, then that vote is beyond doubt – my absence will be taken as evidence of my guilt – and surely Wizards’ March will be called against me.

My hope is that the new Primus of House Bonisagus will support the ‘Stonehenge experiment’ like his predecessor and use his influence to steer the Tribunal away from fear and envy towards wise consideration of the facts. Unfortunately, Volutus wasn’t certain who amongst his House would stand for and receive the title of Primus.


Autumn

If all goes well, Terentius should be completing the familiar enchantment over this season. The remainder of the council met on the first morning of autumn.

Volutus began by relating the events from his House meeting. Archimagus Praeberus has taken the mantle of Primus and will be presiding as Praeco at the Grand Tribunal in 1296.

I reported that I have not yet heard from either Karim or Edward. Whilst in London this season, I will set some agents to investigate and hopefully learn more about events in Rochester.

There was no other news to report.

Hypatia’s private journal

It seems the new Primus led a short assembly, with none of the discussion and debate which typically characterises a meeting of Bonisagus’ House. He started by briefly acknowledging Providus’ achievements, but it sounds like it was faint praise as Praeberus concentrated his inaugural speech on his predecessor’s ‘greatest failing’ – that being his tolerance for the ‘reckless’ and ‘illegal’ meddling in mundane affairs within the Stonehenge Tribunal.

He argued that the situation in Stonehenge was dominating Order-wide politics and reflected the impression that the ‘fruit’ we enjoyed in this Tribunal came at the expense of suffering and persecution at the hands of the Church across other Tribunals. Regardless of the outcome of my case, the experiment in Stonehenge must come to an end – he announced – and if our Tribunal were not to accept this decision then the good of the Order would mean even a grave act like renouncing Stonehenge should be considered.

However, Volutus was approached privately by some senior members of his House who clearly did not share their new Primus’ views.

Archimaga Margaretha told him that the House’s great hope – a translation of the practices of Corpus Dominii – has met with failure. It seems that the conceptual basis of their art is founded so heavily upon religious beliefs and practices that it has resisted all attempts at interpretation into Hermetic principles. In essence, she implied, there was no longer much hope for making our magic less vulnerable to the Dominion, and that there are some with strong sympathy for the idea of seeking stronger alliances with mundane forces to resist the hostility of the Church. She also warned him that I should not attend the Grand Tribunal. Her claim that I apparently have ‘allies’ brings limited solace, as clearly she doesn’t believe they number or influence sufficiently for me to have a fair trial.

Quaesitor Vitraxius also approached him for a private discussion. It seems Senior Quaesitor Octavia has lost favour within House Guernicus – perhaps for failing to uncover the non-existent evidence of my culpability for the storm which wrecked the Flemish fleet, or perhaps her failure to manufacture such evidence. I spoke with her some time ago and definitely sensed a deep frustration – I personally wonder whether she suspects another in my House was responsible, but has been told to keep the focus of the investigation squarely aimed upon me rather than any true culprit. This may explain why there appears to have been so little progress – and perhaps also explain why she has fallen out of favour with Primus Praetorius.

Vitraxius has approached Praetorius with a suggestion that he replace Octavia as Senior Quaesitor for the Tribunal, and suggested to Volutus that his case would be aided by appearing to be strongly against the Stonehenge experiment and keen to see me face penalty at the Grand Tribunal. His motivation for seeking this position in our Tribunal wasn’t clear to Volutus – though clearly the Senior Quaesitor has significant sway at Tribunal and influence over investigations which are conducted.

Finally, the Quaestor suggested that Providus had called the Grand Tribunal with the intention of seeking a great repeal of rulings within the peripheral Code to unbind the Order’s hands and give magi more freedom when dealing with mundane politics. Such a move, if successful, would have been extremely beneficial, I think. However, such a wise plan cannot benefit us now as it seems clear that this is not the attitude or priority for the new Primus Bonisagus.

In the first part of the season, I travelled to Cad Gadu and to Eurus Aquilae to speak with Galioin and Julius regarding the new Primus of House Bonisagus. Neither gave me great cause for hope. Galioin has been in communication with Primus Vincentius of Merinita, and it seems that sympathy towards me remains strong in that House. House Merinita has long warned of the encroachment of the Dominion and the driving out of magic and faerie in the lands strongly influenced by Rome, and it appears there is no appetite for capitulation to the Church regarding the protection of magi in Stonehenge. Julius was also confident that renouncing the Tribunal wouldn’t be a straightforward matter for the Grand Tribunal – the presence of two Domus Magni within Stonehenge making such a ruling extremely unlikely. He also reminded me that House Bjornear was also a strong ally in this – having no intention of becoming even nominally Christian in order to placate the hostility of Rome.

However, of the other Houses, it seems we can be less certain: Indeed much of the politics appears divided more by Tribunal than by House in some instances – those feeling the pressure of the Order’s excommunication are probably more hostile towards Stonehenge, whilst tribunals like Thebes and Novgorod are less certain. However, it seems likely that I would face votes against me from the magi of House Jerbiton, and many magi from Iberia, Provencal, Rome, Greater Alps, parts of Normandy and Rhine. I recalled the fact that Volutus came back from Loch Leglean less than confident that magi there would support me – so it would be foolish to count on those even far from Rome’s immediate influence.

The trial, they both argued, would not come down to a discussion of objective evidence against me, but the circumstantial gains for Theo and paranoia about what will happen if the Church continues this line of aggression or if the Templars direct whatever weapon they employed in Iberia against other covenants. Both counselled me against attending the Grand Tribunal lest I never return. I face the very real prospect of being cast out of the Order, and it seems everyone counsels me that I shouldn’t even travel to Durenmar to contest it.


Winter

Terentius re-joined our council in winter. It seems the process of bonding with Meliorax went without problems. Our sodalis appears only subtly changed by the enchantment – I’m sure I detected a little more sarcasm directed at Jari at times, though I dare say our Merinitan will find this new aspect to his demeanour a rich source of amusement rather than offence.

Whilst I was away in London, it seems that Quaesitor Faelon and magus Geddyn visited the covenant. They stayed for a short time to get more information regarding the events at Abingdon and the demonic spirit that Pyrrhus, Terentius and Volutus encountered.

It also appears that plans to refound Narwold covenant proceed with pace. Volutus was visited by two prospective members of that council: Magus Oswald who is filius to magus Toby of Ex-Miscellanea – whose training appears to have involved little knowledge of the Order; and Maga Druscilla of Merinitia, who trained in Mora Cove covenant in Hibernia. Oswald is apparently at the Great Library in Blackthorn learning some Latin.

Magus Pyrrhus presented a range of proposals for improving the defence of the covenant. Some of his suggestions were deemed rather less than practical (a deep, covered pit around the entrance to the keep) and others appeared to require some further thought regarding their application (the use of flags to send warnings from the walls – which would obviously be harder to spot at night). However, other suggestions were readily approved by the council, for example planting thick hawthorn bushes between the trees to make entry into the covenant more difficult.

I reported that some of the King’s agents were due to investigate Rochester and that hopefully whatever they manage to uncover will advantage a potential investigation by members of our council planned for summer next year.

Hypatia’s private journal

Our council returned to discussion regarding the Grand Tribunal and what increasingly seems to be my inevitable ejection from the Order. Terentius, having been away for a year, was briefed on the complex politics which had unfolded over its course and I passed on some of the reflections gained from the Primi of Houses Ex-Miscellanea and Tremere.

We speculated further on the problems Octavia faces and Vitraxius’ gambit to replace her as Senior Quaesitor. Octavia is certainly a traditionalist with regard to the Code, and we suspect that the sense of frustration we have detected stems from the probable manipulation of her investigation by Magvillus.

It also seems that Vitraxius was apparently very close to Providus – friends as well as political allies – so it seems likely that his motives are helpful to us (though who can say for sure?). If it comes to a Wizards’ March against me, the Senior Quaesitor will apparently hold a fair degree of power – as they essentially lead the March and define the terms and circumstances by which nominated hoplites may act within the Code. Obviously, if the Senior Quaesitor were sympathetic, these stipulations could potentially make it extremely difficult to prosecute the March.

We also speculated that Praeberus’ threat of renouncing the Stonehenge Tribunal is probably a bluff – an attempt to intimidate the Tribunal rather than a realistic prospect. If Ex-Miscellanea were the only House to have its Domus Magnus here, perhaps such a threat could be carried out more readily, but to threaten House Tremere as well … we think the possibility of the Order marching against Stonehenge unlikely. Julius noted that the Schism war took nearly sixty years to move from accusation to instigation, and that the more recent moves against House Bjornear had taken many years and multiple Grand Tribunals before things came to a head.

So, it does seem that the Tribunal is relatively safe – though none of this will prevent my expulsion from the Order. I sense the urgent concerns of my sodales and yet there appears very little that I can actually do to navigate my fate in this. I cannot really investigate magi of Ex-Miscellanea to discover the true culprit behind the storm (not least because I’m not entitled to use scrying magic, but also such an act might be seen as ‘betrayal’ by the Morrigan) – I cannot prepare a defence (as I’ve no idea what evidence they think they have and it looks increasingly likely that I won’t even attend to defend myself) – I cannot even discuss how I might hide myself following expulsion from the Order (as doing so would place my sodales in a dangerous and compromised position, and such information could potentially be forced from them if my enemies were prepared to press certamen or use scrying magics).

It seems our enemies have won. Once renounced I cannot continue my life as a maga of the Order – I’ll be banished from the safety and security of Severn Temple – and it will be extremely difficult to support Theo as surely the court will be watched by magi or mundane agents armed to quietly assassinate me. My options appear to be hiding in one of the faerie courts – essentially removing my presence and influence entirely.

My other worry is how Theo will take all this. Theo is no longer the naïve youth who took the throne – he has navigated years of deadly politics, forged difficult alliances and been tempered by long, bitter wars; he commands a network of highly skilled spies and agents, both across his Kingdom and abroad, and knows me better than perhaps anyone alive. Lying to him would be unlikely to succeed in anything but arousing his suspicions.

He knows that members of the Order betrayed his grandfather and had a hand in his father’s assassination – how will he react if he discovers that the Order seeks to kill his sister? With Beatrice’s death, and Eleanor and Theo yet so young, he holds me dear as sister, confidant and godmother to his children … I know Theo, even if I simply disappear, he will not sit idly by – what might he be prepared to do to find me?

Words cannot convey the sense of bewildered hopelessness I’m feeling right now.


Later in the season, Faelon and Geddyn returned to let us know the outcome of their investigations at Abingdon. Faelon identified the same sigil of rotting flesh as that of the infernalist they had tracked into Wales, and ‘Eyes of the Past’ revealed that he had entered the abbey disguised as a monk (though, it should be noted that this individual has a withered arm which it appears was not, or could not be, easily disguised).

Entering the infernal regio with difficulty, they discovered signs of a diabolical ritual along with the bodies of the monks of the abbey – many still burning – and they confronted the demonic spirit within. It seems that Geddyn was able to destroy its presence using lightning.

However, the fate of the infernalist is unknown. Faelon speculated that he uses some dark gift or spell to shroud his presence as he moves through mundane circles – almost as if people cannot perceive him clearly unless he chooses them to. This magic allowed him to evade Holy Isle in Harlech and it seems he has once again slipped away. Faelon bid us to have caution – the motivations for this attack on the abbey are not clear, but the presence of a regio means makes it likely a very powerful demon was summoned to that place.

The season and the year ended peacefully.

I earnestly hope that this shall not be my last entry to the journal of Severn Temple. Time shall tell.
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