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The first part of our journey was to pass again through the marshes of The Brenne where Petrusca is concealed. As when we arrived, we were guided by one of the Petrusca grogs, which was essential since the great number of bodies of water all look the same, except in size, from the smallest puddle to the large lakes, the heathland is bleak and featureless, and the paths are treacherous.
I went closer to try and get a better look. Julius said that the plates did seem very fine though they looked very ordinary to me. I had hoped he would be too busy to pay me any attention but I was almost at once spoken to by the stall holder. I told the fellow that my female servant would return soon and would know what was required, in the hope he would stop trying to sell me things.
Fortunately Jimena reappeared quite soon. I rapidly explained to her in Spanish that I desired to her acquire the statue if possible and stood back a little while she got to work. She started by talking to the stallholder about his pottery, gradually working her way along the stall, onto the shelves behind and towards the statue. The man was doing his best to make her buy plates and goblets and I do not know what else. Fearing that this might become difficult, I moved closer to overhear, with the idea in mind of using a little magic to put a more helpful idea into the seller's head.
Once I was close enough to see it clearly, I observed that the statue was indeed of a scantily clad female with a ewer in her arms and hands outheld together as if in a gesture of offering. It was shiny and bright with a rosy glow. Once he noticed us looking at it, the stallholder volunteered the information that his recent success was due to this statue which he had obtained not long ago and that he would be very loathe to part with it. Jimena turned away as if going to leave, and he hastily added that everything had its price, so negotiations were open. Jimena picked it up and held it out to show me. I feigned little interest and said she might buy it if it pleased her. I tried to pay attention to the negotiation, which appeared to involve us buying the statue plus the plates and goblets but my understanding of French is poor and the stall holder's accent hard to make out. Suddenly, the seller switched from gradually reducing his asking price to suddenly increasing it. This was very unexpected and I at once suspected interference. Jimena and I walked a little way from the statue and I looked about but could not see any source of possible magic, unless it was the statue itself. I spoke to Jimena in Spanish, explaining what I was about to do, then raised my voice and switched to Latin, using subtle gestures to try and conceal the fact that I was casting a spell to plant the idea of ten silver pieces into the mind of the stall holder. Fortunately, he looked at me as I raised my voice so I could easily hold his eye for long enough. While I concentrated on maintaining the thought in his mind, Jimena moved in to complete the sale - ten pieces for the statue alone.
As we made to get away from the stall as quickly as we could without exciting comment, the stallholder said that, if we gave him another shilling, he would tell us the story of the statue. Perhaps we would have benefited by hearing this, but we did not have much money left and were anxious to get away from there before he changed his mind about parting with the statue. We told him that we had insufficient funds and he offered us a wager, with the promise to tell us where he got the statue if we won. I took some offence at this suggestion that a lady would be party to such an arrangement and declined. Jimena checked our funds and confirmed that we were likely to run out of money on the way home as a result of this purchase. For this night, Caspar had managed to find us somewhere to stay and Jimena negotiated as good a price as we could reasonably hope for, given the crowds.
Once safely inside, I took out the statue and cast InVi at it. Sure enough, it was certainly magical. I did no more with it that night as Jimena advocated an early start, but left it standing close by. The following morning I noticed that there was a gentle magical aura in the room. No wonder I had slept so comfortably this close to the centre of the town.
Next morning, Jimena went to investigate the possibility of taking a boat downstream to easy our travel to Angers but the cost was too much for the benefit to be worth while.
The walking next day was hard as we are all feeling hungry. We stayed the night outdoors again in a small village not far from the town of Château Briant. The following night we were at Rennes. It was necessary for us to enter the city to obtain food and it was impossible to then travel far enough away that we could sleep under the stars again so Jimena had to bargain hard for accommodation. She did well at the second attempt and we were all glad of a hot meal and a roof to sleep under. The grogs went to Mass the next morning and I worried about the statue which was looking very old and pitted.
We managed to afford simple food on the way to St.Brieuc but no accommodation. Luckily the weather held and I had no need to use magic other than to start our campfires. The mood of the party seemed to lift once we were in more familiar territory. There was a suggestion that we stay the night in the tower above St.Brieuc but we had not brought any tools to cut back the brambles so stayed in town at the cheapest inn Jimena could find.
Anxious to change the subject, I told the council of the invitation to the two Criamon to visit us at the next Autumn equinox. I told them of Glomerulus' vision and Speculor confirmed that it might well be linked to the visions he shared with Elaboratus. Jehan was told to make preparations for the visitors when the time comes. I was relieved that no-one expressed any displeasure at the news of this visitation.
I said we should pour some water into the cupped hands of the figure. Joach called for a jug and poured out enough to fill the hands. Every time he filled the hands to overflowing and stopped, the water sank into the statue. He tried the InMe again to see if it was still asleep but got no response - perhaps it was waking and was able to resist his question. He poured water into the statue's pitcher as well as into the hands and it too was all absorbed. Iuris Perita tried 'Peering into the Mortal Mind' of the statue and found images of rushing water and watery depths with a feeling of being lost, alone and far from home. I tried InAq to find out how old it was but, now it was awake, it seemed to be resisting magical questioning. Of course, we could put it back to sleep by letting it dry out again, I assume, but it was interesting to see what we could discover while it was damp.
Since it seemed to like water and to be very thirsty, Speculor and I wanted to carry it to the nearest spring. We put it beside the spring which rises just outside our clearing and watched it for two hours during which nothing happened. Then we dug down into the bed of the spring and stood the statue in the water so that its hands were immersed. It is about eighteen inches high in all so we did not have to excavate much. Speculor noticed that the water around the statue was swirling in an unnatural way. I expressed a hope that the statue would begin to turn pink then had to explain how it had looked originally and how it had faded and aged on the journey. Iuris Perita peered into its mind again and found the same images and feelings as before. We dug deeper and stood it entirely submerged. It looked no different a few hours later. I suggested we might have to leave it soaking for the full period of time that my journey from Chinon had taken, in order to reverse the ageing process.
Hearing this idea, we decided to remove the statue from the spring, bring it back into the council chamber and offer it red wine. Each of the Magi in turn poured wine into the ewer and the hands and waited until it soaked away. Iuris Perita peered into its mind again with the same result as before. We repeated the wine offerings the next day and the next and I was delighted to see the return of a faint rosy tinge to it. After 4 or 5 days it was restored to its original attractive state.
Now everyone was keenly interested in my purchase so I told them about the magical aura associated with it and the belief of the man I bought it from that it had been the source of good luck for him. Someone sent to ask Jimena to come and see it and she was able to confirm that the trader's plates had looked to be of a very good quality. We began to think that perhaps the statue enhanced the attractiveness of things left in its vicinity for a period of time.
We handed over the duty of pouring a little wine into the statue to grogs but after a few days they complained that it was calling out to them to be allowed to go home, which they found distressing. None of the magi heard it so we thought about keeping it in a Sanctum - but whose? Iuris Perita peered into its mind to try and find out where 'home' was for it. She was shown an image of rushing water, a stone-rimmed pool with a fountain, mosaic all around it and niches for statues around the edge. Speculor's InAq magic failed on it and we felt sure the awakened statue had a resistance to magic. Iuris Perita Posed a Silent Question: "Where do you want us to take you?" The response was in Latin: "The Nymphaeum at Glanfella" Iuris Perita was shown a headland overlooking a bend in a river between steep banks. She had a feeling this might be in the Loire valley.
Discussion now centred around whether I should take the statue to try and return it to its home. However, only Iuris Perita had seen the picture of where it wanted to go. I suggested we describe the place to Aversus and see if he could tell us where it was but Speculor was not willing to wait for the Redcap's next visit. He carried the statue outside the covenant boundary where he had greater success with InAq. He saw a stone-lined pool, the fountain, mosaic pavement in a courtyard and the whole on a headland by the river, which he too recognised as the Loire valley. The headland was on the left as one faced downstream. He returned inside and magically created a detailed tableau of all he had seen so I could remember and recognise the place. I made sure that anyone who might be likely to travel with me saw the image too.
Meanwhile we had a brief meeting to sort out routine matters. Saskia has run off during a season of service in which she was meant to be writing out spells. We have not considered entering her sanctum just yet to see how much she had done. When she returns (or do I mean 'if'?) she will owe us another full season to make up for what she has lost. Magus Joachus has been pondering on his need for a Longevity Potion for some time now and some of the discussion concerned how best to provide the vis for this. Any arrangement reached to lend vis to him would affect any similar requests from the rest of us so everyone was very interested in the matter. He had been spending the summer season distilling for his own use and hoped to have 2 pawns of Vim vis by the end of the season.
It was noted that, if I were willing to spend a season studying the Summa on Creo that we have, I would be able to distil 3 pawns of Vim vis from our aura in a season which would be a useful contribution to stocks. I am willing to spend the Autumn season studying Creo for the eventual benefit of the covenant as a whole (and considerable benefit to myself, of course). This was agreed by council provided it was recognised that each of the others might also spend a season of service in study provided the subject of study was agreed by council.
We needed to consider what would happen if Saskia had not returned by the spring equinox, the time we had to recast the Aegis of the Hearth. She had spent a season's service studying this. I offered to spend Winter learning it, if she was not back by then, so I could cast it in Spring as long as I was permitted two seasons for my own use in the year to come. This offer was accepted so it seems my time is allocated until next Spring.
Other activities agreed for Autumn are that Speculor will study the Imaginem summa, it being his free season. Joach is to continue with his distillation, though this time for the communal vis stores. Iuris Perita is going to learn 'Gather the Essence of the Beast'. Jimena has requested permission to study the Spanish book on astronomy with a view to translating it later, if we think it worth doing.
We have acquired 4 pawns of Corpus vis from the vegetable garden this season.
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