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I have come to Mummolides for a Tribunal where the Redcaps report that the founding of a new Covenant will be considered. This may be my opportunity for independent research. I travel with Jimena, Ignatio and Julio.
We arrived without incident. Mummolides is several hundred years old and all the Magi are aged Criamon except for one, equally aged, Redcap. Indeed, one of the senior Magi here is actually dead but that doesn't seem to stop him; I am keeping out of his way. The buildings are not maintained well. Some of the rooms, including those to which I and Jimena were conducted, are not habitable. There is, I understand, an excellent Library but it is hard to reach and seems to be levitating - it appears to perch, in defiance of gravity, on one wall.
I was fascinated to meet two Archmagi from Petrusca of House Bonisagus who arrived in undignified haste just as proceedings were about to commence. I introduced myself; they urged upon me their opposition to the founding of a new Covenant, making it very evident that they would be displeased if I wished to join it. Then they invited me to visit their Covenant at Petrusca, and tempted me with details of their magnificent Library, presumably as an inducement to give up my intention of joining the new Covenant, should it be voted in. I fear they will not make it easy for me to read their books if I do join.
A considerable stir was created when Maga Saskia of the Rhine Tribunal arrived with Magus René of House Bjornær. Both were whisked away so I must wait to find out what is the cause of the excitement. I passed the time by attempting to make enquiries of the Criamon hosts about their proposal for a new foundation. The first I approached spoke in highly enigmatic riddles which put me out of patience; what else should I have expected? I did gather that opposition was anticipated from Wirbelnia; there seems to be doubt about all the Magi there (Houses Ex Miscellanea and Merinta, and one Redcap).
I made better progress with Magus Aversus, the Redcap based at Mummolides. He has a warm air heating system in his rooms which I much admire and plan to imitate. I was taken to the Library and shown a report which mentions a glade containing a Menhir in a thickly forested region of Brittany to the north of here which is the proposed location f or the new Covenant. It seems very promising. I do not know why, but Magus Aversus recommended that I do not seek information from the Bonisagus Archmagi about the nature of the magic associated with the Menhir.
The open business of the Tribunal began with several rounds of Certamen which were not worth noting here. During this I met Magus Joach filius Dergorus, schola Verditius who was also interested in the proposed new Covenant. Then Maga Saskia stepped forward and I learnt something of what had been going on behind closed doors since her arrival. It was all very odd and the procedures were not at all what I would have expected - maybe they do things differently in these outlandish places. Indeed the Bonisagus Archmagi must have thought it queer too because they tried to put off her report and requests until later in the proceedings. She was transferred from Priscus in the Rhine Tribunal to Taurus Candidus in the Normandy Tribunal, then she presented the Sigils of several Priscus Magi who had passed into final Twilight (attempting to rush their work, so rumour had it).
The Tribunal then considered a dispute between Covenants Wirbelnia and Eau Dela concerning the right to use certain magic mushrooms near Le Havre. These two Covenants show no loss of love between them and I gather they are always in disagreement. It was a very small Vis source and the fine was ten times the loss. Serves them right. The meeting took a break at this point, and I was approached by a Magus from Fundarus who seemed to want me to make him a promise of future favours in return for his support of the vote for a new Covenant. I did not think this a good idea.
The proposal for the new covenant was the next matter for consideration. Many speeches against the proposal were made. I had hoped our hosts of Criamon who speak well in favour of this, their own proposal, but I found their speeches incomprehensible. The vote itself followed. It was close and tense. Uylenspiegel, Brugensis and Les Sept Puys were in favour. Petrusca, Griffon d'Argent and Fornacula were against. Then Mummolides voted for and Fundarus against. Wirbelnia and Eau Dela cancelled each other out by taking opposite sides on principle. The vote was carried by about 32 to 27.
In conversation after the official business, I gathered that the Tytalus magi from Fundarus were probably voting tactically so I have no idea whether they are and are not going to support the new Covenant. Mummolides are glad that their proposal is to go ahead and will be giving the new foundation a number of their own servants. I expressed some regret to the Archmagi from Petrusca that their recommendations against the new Covenant had been ignored by so many. They did not seem much perturbed and suggested that if I were to join the new covenant, they would be pleased to receive reports of the activities there; thus I may be able to gain favour with them and thereby access to their library.
A sizeable party set out from Mummolides for the Forêt de Lorge a few days later. Three Magi travelled: Saskia, accompanied by her friend Beate, Joach and myself, with Jimena, Ignatio and Julio. Other grogs sent with us include Zane, Francis, Caspar, Jacques, Garth, Elli, Therese Rouet and Jean Rouet. We have two carts and strong horses to pull them though I prefer to walk.
Joach claimed the tower in the new covenant, but I said we need no tower, just light, airy buildings with colourful mosaics. He insisted that we must have a tower to house both himself and a clock; this last I was unfamiliar with but he explained, and I was a little the wiser about his proposed mechanism for recording the hour of the day - as if such matters much. Our immediate plan was to camp overnight outdoors during what I expect to be eight days' journeying. The only amusing incident in the first part of our trip was when Saskia cast a spell upon Therese to silence her prattling. I didn't understand a word the woman spoke but it was incessant so I was very grateful to Saskia for this, until the Rouet children, their Mother unable to scold them, became rowdy in their turn. I glared at their father who kept them well away from me after that. Jimena could find no medical reason for Therese's lost voice and I was in no mood to enlighten her.
Passing the vicinity of L'Hermitage was very unpleasant. The Dominion aura was very strong. Saskia and Beate left the road to skirt around in the woods, so avoiding close contact with the place. I stayed with the cart, hunched down as if ill, and indeed I felt very unwell, while Jimena went off to pay the toll so we could pass the gate. Jacques went with her. Jimena told me afterwards that she had had some difficulty with the guardians of the gate. Jacques had told them that they were transporting a noble Lady to her new home, which was true, but they were insistent that I must wish to visit the shine and relics. I most certainly did not so wish, wanting only to be far from this dreadful place. Thankfully they did let us through without bothering me further. We followed a rough forest track and progress with the carts was pitifully slow. But after eight nights we arrived in the glade of Caribet.
It was a fine Spring morning, the glade was bright blue with flowers of some variety and the standing stone radiated a palpable aura of magic, and I was able to confirm for myself the Redcap's report of a Magical Aura of magnitude around 5 in the clearing. I concentrated on the stone for ages but it was too strong and ancient to yield its secrets so easily. I must make this my first concern once we are established here. Whilst I was engaged upon study of the Stone, Saskia surveyed the clearing, pronouncing the water in the stream as pure after casting a spell upon it. Jimena chose to check it in her own way and went a little way off to do this and to bathe.
One of the grogs (Garth) suddenly shouted from the trees where he had retreated to relieve himself. He cried out that he had been attacked by a glowing, chilling sphere of light. He was weary and afraid when he stumbled back into the clearing but was not followed by his attacker. He reported that it was invulnerable to weapons. Despite this, other grogs armed themselves and went off to seek this sphere but saw no sign of it. Saskia scouted around and said that she had no reason to suspect that this was the work of the Fae. An alert guard was kept all night but we were not disturbed.
Next morning, I went off into the woods with some strong, armed men to look for the cause of the glowing light. Saskia came too, though this time I saw her in the guise of a very fine wild boar. We were summoned back to the clearing before long by wild screaming - Therese had been washing clothes at the stream when the sphere of light had approached her. She ran screaming back towards our camp and Joach went out to meet her. Francis got cross about something - no idea what but grogs are like that at times, though this was a bad time to choose. He strode off with an axe and started chopping at the trees.
Saskia, Joach and I went out into the woods around the glade, each accompanied by a group of strong grogs, to try and deal with this disturbing light once and for all. Garth encountered it, and I was close enough to see it. He reported that it was a hostile ghost. With this information, we made a plan involving Zane, a grog from Mummolides who had an ability to sense spirits. We sent him to the end of the clearing. He called out after a while that he could see a merchant approaching up the path, waved and went to meet him. I followed, with my guards, at a distance. But Zane had vanished. Saskia discovered that his trail vanished a little way down the path.
Meanwhile, in another plane of reality, Zane met the merchant and led him back to the clearing. There was no sign of the camp, just the menhir and a skeleton resting at its base; the clearing had a strongly magical look. The merchant told Zane that there were twelve or so ghosts recently arrived and haunting the clearing at times. Zane examined the menhir which, unlike the one by the camp, was covered in animal carvings. The merchant said he got lost on a journey and spoke of being trapped near the clearing, though he cannot recall how long he has been here. He said he still had a little food in his pack so it cannot have been long, and offered bread and cheese. After eating, the merchant guided Zane along the northward path out of the clearing but they seemed to go wrong and were soon back by the stone. Suddenly several glowing eyes appeared; the merchant urged Zane to flee but he stood and watched.
Back in the camp, Saskia found a strand of Zane's hair from his bedding roll to use as an arcane connection. Whilst studying it, the ghost attacked her. I cast a spell on it and learnt that it was confused and alive. Beate leapt at the sphere with a knife in defence of her friend. Joach attempted to calm the spirit's mind.
Zane could see both the empty clearing and the clearing with the camp, somehow overlapping, and was able to step from the one into the other. When Zane reappeared in the camp, Jacques questioned him. Neither Saskia nor I could find any trace of a grave near the stone in this clearing. I was unable to see a way into the other Regio but did discern the figure of the merchant but he could not see me - I waved but he ignored me and stepped away. Zane went back into the Regio to talk to the merchant, leading Garth through with him where they gathered up the skeleton. The merchant queried what they were doing, because he himself was unable to see the skeleton. Saskia perceived that Zane was having difficulty returning to us and used the arcane connection to try and assist him. She managed to manifest her ear in the Regio where Zane was, though he saw it as a pair of identical boars' ears - he spoke into it, ignoring the merchant who was wailing that there were ghosts all around.
Joach and I tried to make ourselves more visible to Zane but suddenly Joach vanished from the sight of those in our Regio and appeared to the merchant, Zane and Garth. However, Joach himself noticed no change and spoke to me as if we could clearly see each other. I felt someone touching my hand, presumably the, to me invisible, Joach - a moment's investigation proved that it was indeed him. We used paper and quill to communicate with Joach since we could read what he wrote when we could not see or hear him. The merchant tried to prevent Joach touching the paper and was at the same time, he said, working hard at keeping the ghosts away. By concentrating hard on Joach, the merchant was able to perceive little by little, more of our Regio. He told Zane he could see a campsite and two women looking at some paper. Zane urged him to see Saskia and myself more vividly, to view us a real and not ghosts. After a moment, Zane was able to take Garth's hand and lead him back into our Regio. As soon as could be arranged, Garth, Julio and Ignatio set off for L'Hermitage to ask that the skeleton be given a Church burial.
While this arrangement was in progress, Saskia requested Joach to lower his Parma Magica so she could cast a spell with the intention of hearing him. This was unsuccessful. Joach walked to the edge of the clearing in the Regio he occupied, with me holding one hand and Caspar the other, and as we reached the edge of the clearing, Joach suddenly re-appeared. The supposition is that the merchant fell asleep resting against the stone and was somehow transported into an overlapping Regio where he had been trapped for many years. Christian burial should give his spirit rest.
The alternate Regio is now confined to an area around the Stone some two paces across so it no longer represents a threat but is still available for study. This area close around the Menhir exhibits a higher aura than the clearing as a whole so we plan to construct our laboratories around it such that we all have some access to it. Messages were sent to Mummolides that we find the glade conducive to our needs and intend to found the new Covenant here. I have also written to Petrusca on the subject, as I promised. We need to plan our living accommodation, locate sources of income, devise rules for service to the Covenant and about sharing Vis (should we ever find any), and many other things before I can be in peace to study.
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