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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Winter 1221: Raiders from below

I am continuing with my study of the spell 'Aegis of the Hearth' in readiness for the coming equinox. I recall that Saskia spent a great deal of time pacing the boundaries of the glade when she was learning it (unless, of course, that was Beate we saw). I see no need to do likewise, for all that is needed can be learnt from the book. However, on the few fine days I have ventured out to walk around the edges of the clearing. I keep hoping for the return of the grogs who are out seeking Corpus vis in the bogs. With the knowledge they gathered from the unfortunate peasant, I would have expected them to have found the wet areas easily and the detection wand should have made the task of finding the vis very easy for them.

I am still awaiting word from Petrusca about translation of the books Saskia left that are in German. If I do not hear soon, I may have to write directly to the Rhine Tribunal.

Achilles de Azé, Iuris Perita's cousin, has moved into the almost-finished manor house. I hope he will be no trouble and will save us from any more bother with the local land-owners. I hear that he has already sided with Magus Constantine and Fr.Edwin to put our stone masons to work on constructing a church of stone. Magus Joach is also in favour of the project. I am not against the plan, provided it does not take up any resources needed by the magi, since it would reinforce the status of the northern clearing as the centre of mundane attention.

1st January : Invitations

The arrival of Achilles has obviously stirred up some excitement locally and already he is proving useful. The knight Eberhardt who represents Lady Marta has ridden over from Plaintel to issue one of her invitations. Previously this would have required at least one of us to set aside our work to pay a visit to her, and possibly oblige us to invite her in return but now this can all be done by our own noble knight. A messenger has also come from the Baron du Robien with an invitation to a feast of welcome. I understand he provides a fine feast and good entertainment, but going and coming take one away for 2 or 3 days so it is an honour I can live without so I am very thankful that it is Achilles who is now invited. I trust that Iuris Perita has instructed him carefully in what he may or may not say about us or on our behalf, and has set out clearly the bounds of his authority here. He is to take with him a few of the grogs but has been heard to complain that we have insufficient mounts. If he needs horses, I think it is up to him to obtain them, and from his own purse. Jacques, Caspar, Sergo and Zacharias are to go with him; I assume adequate provision for the defence of the covenant has been made while the Centurion is away. It isn't my job, anyway.

14th January: Raid on La Roche Caribet

The very same day that Sir Achilles set out, a most distressing disturbance took place. I cannot believe that this timing was coincidence. I did not hear until it was all over so have had to put together an account from the report of Fr.Edwin and others who were witnesses to the outrage.

A group of mounted men rode into the clearing that contains our new village and set torches to several of the buildings! They were not wearing any visible insignia but were well-equipped and well-mounted. Constantine was the first magus to respond to the cry for help. He had been able to quickly extinguish the flames by Perdo Ignem so the damage is not great. Jimena had rushed out too and was busy treating breaks and bruises. She mentioned that Constantine had helped to tend the injured and seems to be more tolerant of his involvement than she was, even if she does not trust his methods. We must be grateful that none of the injuries are very serious and all seem to have resulted from people tripping and falling as they ran away from the riders, not from any blows inflicted. I was rather busy when the call for help reached my ears so I sent Julius to find out what was going on with instructions to make himself useful in any way that was wanted.

Speculor and Joach both went out to see what was going on, after gathering a few grogs to attend them. One of the grogs had found a scrap of cloth which Speculor cast a spell on that allowed him to learn that it was a fragment from a cloth that bore the arms of Baron du Robien, a black dragon facing left on a ground of orange. Speculor used other spells too, 'Summoning the Distant Image' and 'Ear for Distant Voice' and was very surprised to get no result from either. He became convinced that the raiders were carrying a blessed sword or some other such item or were being provided with magical protection of some sort. This made me start to doubt my immediate assumption that the raiders had been sent by our old adversary, Jean de Ploeuc. Sorting out this sort of problem is surely the business of Achilles and when we need him, he is off feasting.

Constantine had, through his shield grog, Redwald, tracked the riders through the forest, heading northwest towards du Robien's territory. Julius went with them, which is how I know what happened. Much to the puzzlement of Redwald and Ellie in particular, the tracks had simply faded out soon after leaving a stream. Julius said that Constantine spent ages using magic of some sort to hunt about the area. Some of it may well have been looking for traces of the use of magic since when Julius pointed out to Constantine that we had in the past had trouble with fairies in the depths of the forest, Constantine appeared to find this interesting, thought for a moment and did some more magic. Other spells may have been Corpus as he seemed satisfied on finding a number of hairs which I gather he brought back here.

It would be good to have some sort of PeIg enchantment to protect our most important flammable structures from such atrocities. On the subject of atrocities, I was very annoyed indeed to find the state that Speculor had left the library in. His excuse was that he did not wish to disturb me, which I approve of in general. However, sorting out the mess he left has proven a greater disturbance than if he had simply asked me to find for him the book containing the spell he wanted. He appears to believe that the piles of books are just random where the system for arranging them seems obvious to me. He had even left many of the books on the floor! Perhaps I ought to bring something up at the next council meeting about damage to books, but one would not have thought it necessary.

While I have been sorting out the mess Speculor left, he as been out with Constantine and Zane to have another look at the place where the tracks vanish because even with the hairs that Constantine found, Speculor can still get no response using 'Ear for Distant Voice' and is now convinced that magic of some sort is being used to protect the raiders. It appears that Julius has gone too, having thought that he is still meant to be making himself useful. I wish I had thought to rescind that order when he was here just an hour ago.

16th January : Tracks

Two days after the raid, and Speculor and Constantine have returned without any idea of who the raiders are, or who sent them, and without my shield grog. They say he volunteered to be the one left watching the gate at castle Robien to see if any group of riders return there during the day. I must make sure this misunderstanding about my orders does not happen again.

I have managed to find out a little of what they did. Apparently Zane has once again proved useful where magic has failed. He was able to see a trail of hoof marks leading away from the spot where the visible tracks vanished and led the magi until they reached one of the paths through the forest, somewhere beyond le Hutte, that goes towards Robien. The track was clear for some way along the path towards Robien but after a while became lost in the signs of other traffic. Constantine had had the group walk swiftly to reach Robien late in the night.

A message was sent in to bid Sir Achilles attend the 'messengers' at the main gate. It was fortunate that the lavish entertainment had only recently finished so Achilles was still up. Speculor had told him what had happened. Knowing Speculor, the account was probably not very clear on mundane details but it seemed to have the desired effect. I gather that Sir Achilles was even overheard to refer to 'my village' when speaking of the outrage done here. I was pleased to hear that Julius had made himself useful by engaging the gate guards in conversation whereby he learnt that there had been no group of riders admitted after the guests had arrived before noon and that there was a secret postern gate somewhere in the castle walls. The gate was soon located but proved far too tiny to admit a horse.

Speculor cast 'The Inexorable Search' and we were all surprised that he found nothing at all. At least he did not find the band hiding in Robien castle, thus we are fairly sure that the clue to implicate the Baron is meant to mislead. We considered the alternatives. I feel sure it is not the fae for it seems to me that they would not take the trouble to bother with local politics if trying to anger us. Joach agrees, pointing out that it would be unlike malevolent fae to worry about sparing the peasants serious injury. My suspicions are still with Ploeuc who, I understand, was not at the feast. Whoever it is, I think we can leave it to Sir Achilles to sort out.

I gather that Achilles has organised some people to set about repairing the damage to the buildings. I have to say that I am now entirely in favour of this idea of building a stone church as should any danger of this sort come again, that would be a good place for people to take refuge. I discussed with Joach the possibility of providing some sort of defences for the village similar to the palisades we have here at the entrances to the glade but it seems impractical.

17th January : Raid at Plaintel

It is now three days since the raiders came here and at last Julius has returned. He arrived in the early hours of the morning so I let him sleep for a while before demanding an account of his activities. He had very little to report. He was asked to keep watch on the castle gate, saw no-one on horseback arrive, saw the guests leave and, by mid-afternoon, decided he had done what was wanted, found a meal and returned here. I have told him that he to check with me before leaving the covenant again.

I hear that the entertainments at Baron du Robien's were as good as anticipated. There were martial displays, where I expect he was just making sure that his new neighbour understood who had the greater fighting force at his disposal.

Later in the day a messenger arrived from Plaintel to inform us that Lady Marta's lands had also been attacked, reportedly by bandits. Not long after that. her ladyship herself arrived, saying that clues pointing to the Baron had been discovered, left by the raiders. Achilles has done as we hoped and taken charge of the situation. I understand that both suspected that Jean de Ploeuc is behind the raids and so the arrival of a messenger from the south, with news that bandits had attacked Ploeuc too, was a surprise.

18th January : Attack and defence

With Achilles preoccupied with stopping the raiders, we magi considered what we could do to defend our glade and the village should they return. Constantine proposed creating a bell for the village which could be rung at the first sign of danger. He volunteered to take his work to the manor house so as to be on hand if needed. It is good to see he is so keen to make himself useful. It will be quite a shame when he is accepted into membership, which I feel sure will happen soon.

A message arrived for Achilles; something to do with Baron du Robien's men coming across our lands to apprehend the raiders. It sounds undesirable even though we do want them captured.

It was not long after this that the raiders struck again. I was thankful for Constantine's bell and left my sanctum the moment I heard it. When I reached the village clearing, the riders had gone. So had Constantine, Achilles, Redwald, Francis and Garth. I attempted to get information about what had happened from the few frightened grogs who had seen it. They said that riders had broken out of the forest but Constantine had emerged the moment the bell sounded and had waved and shouted a lot, causing arrows of fire to fly at the leader's horse which had bolted, the rider barely clinging on. One of the grogs said that there were only a few fiery arrows then a lot more shouting after that but whether this was Constantine casting other spells I cannot tell. I wonder what Iuris Perita will have to say about such blatant use of magic in front of mundanes? It would have been alright if they had actually taken the leader prisoner, I suppose. The bolting horse had gone one way, the hapless rider clinging on somehow, and the rest of the band had gone another. Speculor took Milon and followed Jacques who set off north with a few grogs to try and track the larger party of riders.

As they went out of my sight, Achilles appeared from the trees. He said something about a strange mist and a smell of sulphur so, having gathered an idea of where it was, I called Julius and Ignatius and set off to find this fascinating phenomenon. The patch of mist was about thirty paces wide. Beside it I found Constantine, looking very weary, Francis itching for a fight and Garth tossing stones into and through the mist, which certainly did smell of sulphur. I was somewhat put out that my Rego Auram wind failed to disperse the unpleasant mist. Pausing a moment to catch my breath, I tried Perdo Auram with considerable more success, replacing the stench of the infernal with the fragrance of orange blossom. We could see the rider's trail vanish in the otherwise normal patch of forest. There was nothing else to learn here so we all returned home to worry about the implications of the sulphurous smell.

19th January : Apprehending the raiders

Word of hell must have spread quickly amongst the grogs. Both Julius and Ignatius asked leave to attend Mass this morning and I gather just about everyone else was there too. A messenger from Plaintel rode in during the early part of the day, having set off at dawn with urgent news. He had passed Yussef, a rider sent by us to Plaintel, as we felt it essential to pass on the warning of infernal involvement. Lady Marta's man told us that Jacques, Speculor and some of our people had arrived at Lady Marta's manor late the previous evening to report having found the bandit's encampment in the forest about an hour's walk from Plaintel, and the news that their leader, Sir Hammond, was absent. A sizable band of du Robien's men, under the leadership of three knights, had arrived at Plaintel during the previous day and had set up camp there.

The plan made by Sir Dulan de Corley, leading the Robien party, was to attack the bandit encampment, combining with Lady Marta's forces and using the Caribet foresters to watch for escapees. As we learned later, mainly from Speculor and Jacques, this is what happened. The attack was an overwhelming victory for our side. At least half of the raiders were taken prisoner. It seems they were all mercenaries, hired in St.Brieuc to cause trouble. They did not seem to know anything about the man who hired then, other than to give a physical description and to say he had promised more money if they carried out their orders well. These orders seemed to concern causing sufficient trouble to draw in the trained troops while dropping the bits of cloth to misdirect suspicion. I should very much like to know what arrangements were made regarding meeting the man who hired them to get the extra reward; perhaps we could use such information to find him and learn who was the instigator of this plan, and why.

The leader of the raiders was never seen and I feel sure he is being aided by demons and that we must find and, if possible, rescue him or destroy him. The captured knight said that he had worked with Sir Hammond before but that he had changed recently, from about the time this job began, which is very suspect.

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