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Or perhaps what Jimena told me is correct, and Beate, a mere shield grog, looked so like Saskia that she was pretending to be her and demanding the privileges of Hermetic rank. If this is true, Saskia may well have chosen to flee before being disgraced for permitting such an outrage. If only we had undeniable proof! It is not that I doubt Jimena, but the word of a consortis is hardly enough to ruin the reputation of a Maga, even one of such poor a standing with the Order as Saskia now is. I hope she will go somewhere distant, perhaps the Stonehenge Tribunal where, I believe, they are mostly little more than hedge wizards, or the Novgorod Tribunal which is so far into the wilds that they might not be over particular. Either should suit her well enough.
Council must meet soon to decide on the change to the charter necessitated by her departure. I hope that our Princeps will act on this letter most urgently to remove the sanctum sign from that door. I must get those library books back and find out how much progress Saskia had made with her season's service of writing out spells. According to our Charter, "Any Member may leave the Covenant at any time provided they have performed all service to the Covenant due from them for that year". Maga Saskia was involved in the development of this document and must be well aware that she has not met its requirements by a long way. I hope she feels suitable ashamed of letting us down so badly.
I have decided that something must be done about the books Saskia donated to the covenant library which are entirely or partially in German, now that she is no longer here to write out translations for us. My first step is to write to Petrusca to see if they have anyone with the necessary knowledge. I fear their price may be more then we can afford even if the reply is affirmative.
We moved all the laboratory equipment to safe storage then had Jehan send the grogs in to clean the place. No doubt any curiosity over seeing inside a Magus' room was soon quashed by the unpleasantness of the task. Perhaps they now think we all live like that. I have been giving some thought to what we might do with that room. One idea is to make it into guest quarters for visiting members of the Order, as we seem to get rather a lot of those. In future, it might be necessary to have the extra space for more books. Whatever we do must not require any of us to move since that would cause far too much upset to our work.
I mentioned Jimena's suspicions concerning Beate to Iuris Perita and was surprised to learn that our Quaesitor was aware of the situation and had warned Saskia about it! I think she ought to have told the rest of us and made Saskia give account of herself to council but I suppose she is acting as a Quaesitor does. Typically, our Princeps would say no more about this but it may very likely have been the reason Saskia left us.
I noticed that the book containing 'Gather the Essence of the Beast' was not in the library and feared for a moment that Saskia had taken it so it was a great relief to be told by Iuris Perita that she had it. She reminded me that it was her service this season to learn it. I myself have borrowed the book "Genesis" to study. Thank Hermes I was not delayed so long on the road that I have no chance of completing the book this season!
There are likely to be a few more small changes around here now Saskia has departed. Jehan has been given instructions that those trees which are obviously in the way but which were left because Saskia insisted that they were good to eat may now be felled. He has also been told that we may slaughter one of the swine from time to time, to provide a welcome addition to our diet and so that the skin may be passed to the tanner.
Iuris Perita has been examining the terms of our charter. I was well aware that Saskia had broken the rules by leaving while owing service; it is clear that she ought to have completed her service for the whole year before going. Iuris Perita says that we can expel her for failing to abide by the terms of the charter and this can be passed by council with just a two thirds majority vote. This is what we must do at the earliest opportunity because any changes to the charter, such as removing Saskia from the list of senior members of the covenant, requires a unanimous vote of the senior members and as long as she is one we cannot achieve that.
Speculor and Iuris Perita had also emerged to see what was going on. I could see Zane, Caspar and the new grog who came not long ago from Plaintel and whose name I cannot recall at present. In addition I could see a man who looked like one of the local peasantry, a balding man in dark clothing, a very young man and one somewhat older accoutered like guards and, most interesting, a young nobleman. I saw Jehan bow respectfully to the noble and guide him towards the hut which had been designated as guest quarters. Then our grogs took the other men towards the kitchen.
Joach soon came out. I hoped he would satisfy our curiosity but what he told us just made us more curious. The 'nobleman' is Constantine of house Flambeau, recently gauntleted and just arrived in Brittany from the Stonehenge tribunal. The magus is looking for a covenant to settle in. Those with him are his shield grogs and, most strange, a clerk. We harassed Joach for all he could possibly tell us about this magus.
Joach gave an account of how they met. He had been on the quay at Mont St.Michel, with Abel (a peasant he had somehow acquired en route) and Zane, in the hope of engaging a coaster. Caspar and Alain were absent as they had been sent to the fair to replenish the food supplies. He observed a sizable boat arriving and was waiting for an opportunity to send Abel to enquire of the captain if passage to St.Brieuc could be had. The boat was crowded with pilgrims coming for the festival but one pair drew Joach's attention; they appeared to be looking in his direction and talking to each other. The taller of the two had approached Joach immediately after disembarking and, apparently addressing Zane as much as Joach, had broached the subject of scholars, speaking in perfectly good Latin.
It must have become clear at once that Zane did not understand and was paying no attention. Joach drew the newcomer a little apart and, after a few more words had passed between them, Joach had displayed his House badge and the younger Magus had shown him the badge of House Flambeau.
I pressed Joach for any evidence that this Magus is genuine since I could see no sign of the gift about him. It may be that Constantine has the gentle gift. Joach could not give any example of Constantine having used magic during the journey. However, Joach had very much enjoyed long discussions on the theory of hermetic magic with Constantine as they walked along and was sure that no-one not of the Order could have such knowledge and understanding. This sounded promising.
Joach got exasperated with our doubts about his 'new friend' and urged us to ask him to set fire to something. I felt this would be very rude and unsubtle. I myself would take great offence if my credentials were so put to the test and I would not have our guest insulted so. I urged Iuris Perita to write at once to Objurgator to ask about the standing of Magus Constantine of Flambeau ex Britannia (Stonehenge) tribunal. The reply may take some weeks to reach us but there is plenty of useful work this Magus can do while we wait, and the delay will give us all a reasonable chance to get to know him and see if he will fit in, if it be his wish to stay. I hope he knows some useful Ignem spells and can be persuaded to write them out for us so we have something useful out of him should he move on. I suppose it is too much to hope that he brings some good books on Ignem with him which could become part of our library if he stays.
We easily came to an agreement that, should Constantine wish to be considered as a candidate for membership of Saxum Caribetum, we would agree to this if he accepted all the relevant clauses in the charter. Iuris Perita spent some time attempting to reconcile the wording in the charter concerning visitors with that concerning candidates for membership and suggested that Constantine might be Joach's responsibility, as a visitor, for the whole period of his candidacy, which might, according to the charter, last a full year. Magus Joach was horrified. After a little more thought, our Quaesitor decided that one could not be both a visitor and a candidate at the same time. It is good to have an expert on hermetic law available at times like this, especially when she comes to the obviously sensible conclusion. Perhaps we can take the opportunity presented at our next council meeting, when we have to change the charter because of Saskia, to remove this apparent ambiguity. Also, while we are about it, I feel strongly that we ought to replace every mention of the covenant's vulgar name with its proper Latin equivalent.
One thing Joach told us, which is causing great surprise and confusion, is that every day they were travelling the priest, Fr. Edwin Fairchild, said Mass before setting off and that Magus Constantine always attended. His shield grogs did too. Joach also pointed out that, when in Mont St.Michel, Constantine and his followers had all taken lodgings within the monastery itself and that they had, as far as he knew, spent the whole of the Sunday there. I know they do things differently in some of the remote tribunals but this is entirely peculiar and, to my mind, throws doubt on Constantine's plausibility as a member of our Order. While Iuris Perita, Speculor and I were discussing this and Joach was getting more and more exasperated with us, Jehan was sent to invite the supposed Flambeau to join us.
If first impressions count for anything, I have to admit that I am inclined towards believing this Constantine. He is very good looking, attractive, well-spoken and in every way the nobleman - such a pleasant contrast to some of those I have had to live with here. He speaks excellent Hermetic Latin though his pronunciation is a little odd in places (but nothing like as barbaric as Saskia's). He is very reticent concerning his hermetic lineage and former covenant, which I find highly suspicious. He claims to be most interested in Creo & Perdo, Ignem & Corpus - a rather unusual combination, in my opinion. He reeled off an impressive list of spells he knows by heart, any of which would make a welcome addition to our collection. I hope to be able to get him to start writing soon and then we shall see whether he really does know what he claims. We did not press him to explain why he brings a priest with him but this must be looked into.
Between us, we gave Constantine brief descriptions of the other covenants in the Normandy tribunal so that he should have an idea of what choice there is, if he wishes to settle in Gallia Transalpina. I expected him to show some interest in Fornacula, where they are nearly all of his House and, I imagine, have the relevant books, vis and equipment all available. The magi may all be ancient and not far from Twilight but that offers opportunities for a young Magus to inherit. For whatever reasons, once we had completed our descriptions, Constantine declared that he wished to be considered as a candidate for membership with us and we agreed that it would be so.
The balding man who came with Constantine is certainly a priest and we must make sure he does not attempt to say Mass within our covenant. I shall instruct Jehan to keep an eye on him and prevent any such disaster. The other two are shield grogs, or at least the older one, Redwald, is. The other, William, is perhaps being trained up to the post.
The fifth new arrival is named Abel. I only know that Joach met him somewhere on the road and that he proved very helpful in finding the way home. It was he who had recommended they head for the coast and take a boat to St.Brieuc as being much quicker than walking cross-country. My own experiences in the Loire valley reinforce this idea that water transport is always to be preferred if there is a choice.
Joach told me, when Iuris Perita was nowhere near, that he had made good use of ReMe to help them deal with two difficult groups of men on the road. One looked as if they might be local guards who wanted to detain the men for questioning but were really just after a bribe. The second group were demanding an exorbitant toll to use a river crossing. Both demanded a shilling but were tricked with two pennies when Joach caused the leader to become confused. I must remember this stratagem!
After meeting Magus Constantine, they were delayed in Mont St.Michel by contrary winds. I do not see why this was not easily dealt with, and fail to understand why one or both magi did not even make any effort to try to fix it, especially with the Dominion aura likely to be so uncomfortably strong the next day, it being both a Sunday and the feast of St.Michael. What they did there is not clear. There is talk amongst the grogs of Zane having been taken ill or been scared by something he saw in one of the tents at the fair. The mummified head of a hag, a unicorn's horn, a devil's tail, a bearded woman, twins, a giant and a dwarf have all been mentioned but it appears that it was the devil's tail that caused the most fuss. Joach assures us that he used InVi behind the tent to convince himself that there were no items of real interest inside. He seems reluctant to say more about this investigation though I have gathered that, after some time, he mentioned to Constantine that there was possibly an item with infernal taint on display at the fair and that Constantine had passed the matter on to his travelling companion, the priest.
The remainder of the journey had been uneventful. Because of the size of the group, and the fact that a Magus was part of it, Joach had decided not to call in Plaintel on the way.
I very much regret having been unable to bring any Aquam vis from the nympheum as we have so little of this and no known source of our own. The arrival of Magus Constantine has drawn my attention to our utter lack of Ignem vis; until now, it was only myself who showed much interest in this art but now things may change. Our deficiency in Rego and Auram vis is very serious, for me.
The reports of the exploration of our regio in Autumn has made me worry that the metal symbols of Intellego vis may not be renewable and I perhaps should treat these as unique objects which will be required every year to gain access to the Autumn regio.
Only Herbam vis is in good supply.
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