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It seems to me essential that we ensure that our new Covenant of Saxum Caribetum be accorded the traditional vote of welcome. I have taken the opportunity to speak to some of my sodales on this matter. While I do not want it to appear that we have had to owe favours to make sure this vote is proposed and carried, I am concerned that we have no friends in Wirbelnia, that we may have just upset Fudarus (though they may look on us with favour for having won the challenge) and they were against us from the outset, that Petrusca was against us from the start, that our sponsors at Mummolides cannot take a visible role in this motion, that our Princeps, as Quaesitor, cannot act openly in this nor call on her former home for action, and that I have as yet no friends in this Tribunal. It was Uylenspiegel, Brugensis and Les Sept Puys who voted for us at the crucial vote for the foundation of the new Covenant. I have asked Joach if he might have a contact there other than his parens who might be prepared to propose our vote of welcome. I have also asked Speculor the same, for I feel it would look a great deal more impressive if a covenant that voted against the new foundation was to propose our welcome. He seemed fairly confident that this might be possible to arrange. We have just about five months to arrange this matter.
Two Magi departed the covenant soon after Fr.Albertus left us. It was no surprise that Speculor set off again with Zane, Milon, Huon, Galienne and Alain to continue his hunt for Vis, according to his promised Service but it was very odd that Iuris left also. She did not say where she was going or why, even though we pointed out that we could not send grogs to rescue her if she would not tell where. Nor did she give any indication how long she would be. She took only her own people, Pernelle, Duncan and Arno. She is on foot in the mud so I doubt she will go far.
I could not help overhearing a rumour passing amongst the grogs that Maga Saskia was overheard making demands that she be given a 'proper shield grog' in a threatening manner. I have had my doubts about the role of her shield pig before and this just makes me wonder the more. However, it is none of my business as long as the Covenant is not left ill-defended. We are a little short on soldiers, they say.
The Baron claims that the land we have occupied belongs to neither Lady Marta of Plaintel nor Jean de Ploeuc but to the Duc of Normandy. The Baron appears to be offering to come to some arrangement on our behalf with the Duc whereby we make some sort of payment to him (the Baron or the Duc, I am not sure which, or maybe both) and we may then continue to live here. The Baron further warned us not to pay heed to the minor local landowners who would be trying to use us to bolster their own claims against each other. I was puzzling over this when Saskia arrived so attempted to summarise the situation, as far as I understood it, for her in Latin. She and I agreed that we should delay making any reply until we had consulted Lady Marta, who has so far shown herself to be a friend towards us, and Iuris Perita, as our Princeps and legal expert. We told Sir Garier that we would send a reply within the next two to three weeks and they rode away. I really can't see why Jehan could not have dealt with this matter without disturbing me.
Brother Joseph was standing not far from the gates, and had apparently heard most of what was said, and I assume understood all but the Spanish. I questioned him about the Baron de Robien and learnt that where Plaintel had four or five knights and Pleouc but three, the Baron had fifteen owing fealty to him. This much I do understand. Brother Joseph is of the opinion that the Baron is probably in some dispute with either or both of the minor land owners. Our decision to delay our response seems good. It would be a good idea to tell Joach of this development but he has been shut away in his laboratory for days now and shows no sign of emerging.
Once I could get his attention away from this plan for a moment, I outlined our problem with the Baron. He said that Petrusca never paid any sort of fees to any mundane power and nor should we. Jehan heard this and humbly pointed out that he knew of some covenants that do pay mundanes for the right to dwell in peace on good lands which are not isolated. We do need to consult Iuris, if she ever returns. Speculor proposed that when we send our response to the Baron, we make two copies of the same letter on the same sheet of parchment, and then cut the piece in two so that one copy of the letter is delivered and the other remains with us as an arcane connection through which we might be able to overhear the Baron discussing our reply. Thus we might learn something of his intentions and motives. This seems to me a very good plan.
I observed Speculor make several attempts to make his raft float in the air. From my window, I could see that it did float but he seemed in some way dissatisfied with the result. Soon after that, I saw him and his grogs setting off into the forest again.
Pepin studied the letter we were provided with and told me that it was very carefully worded and full of details quoting law and precedent but did not seem to commit us to anything. We had him make two copies as planned because we had decided to send the letter anyway should Iuris stay away more than two weeks. It seems also a good idea to repeat the tactic and send a similarly paired letter to Plaintel, perhaps after we get any reply from the Baron to the letter we have prepared for him using Lady Marta's, or her scribe's, words.
By making contact with Pernelle, I was able to pass word to her mistress of the Baron's visit and the need for some response from us. Iuris did then spare the time to look over the letter we proposed to send and seemed satisfied with it. A day or so later we had the opportunity to show it to Speculor. He returned from the bogs with the damp, leathery remains of an arm which had been very long in the bog and contained a pawn of Corpus Vis. Speculor was quite certain that no more of the body was preserved there but had hopes that other such remains might be found in other bogs and in other seasons.
We sent a messenger to the Baron, carrying one copy of the letter. Speculor went most of the way with him. The letter was delivered at sunset, so Speculor would know when to cast his spell. He had to try a couple of times until he managed to locate the room where the Baron was listening to the letter being read aloud to him. The Baron recognised it as a carefully-couched delaying tactic. Someone else in the room pointed out that it was well-phrased, and not what one would expect of those people in the tower, who did not speak well. Another voice said that one could detect the hand of Lady Marta of Plaintel in the wording, describing her as 'a subtle sort of witch'. Someone remarked that they had come off rather badly the last time they had moved against her. There was no mention at all of the Duc. There was a little discussion about what the people in the tower might be up to, and the general conclusion seemed to be that we were mad. A voice said that they, the people at the tower, had better watch out for the bishop. Another voice suggested telling the bishop about the newcomers but someone responded that there was no advantage in that and the conversation faded away.
Listing in on Lady Marta was not profitable. She was heard to mutter something about the naivety and incompetence of so-called scholars and put the letter down saying she might visit but not immediately.
I have been occupied in drawing up a list of some items I find I need for my laboratory. It will not be long now before I can commence my work, so I have commissioned the merchant who calls here from time to time, Bertrand, to obtain a few items which may be easier to come by than last time I asked.
Jehan has made them as comfortable in our council chamber as is possible under the circumstances. It appears they travelled here in great haste, that they wish to speak to us together and alone over the next few days to investigate our activities. I have nothing to hide or feel guilty about, but am concerned about my sodales. It is some twenty days or so since Iuris Perita returned from her mysterious expedition. Perhaps this visit has something to do with the 'official business' she said she had been conducting. I hope we find out soon.
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