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My sodales were also looking about them. Speculor cast an InVi spell and announced that we were in a magical aura of the seventh magnitude. From this, it seemed most likely to me that we were in a previously-unseen part of the regio that surrounds our menhir. I wondered if we had been moved into an earlier time, before the menhir was set in place. In case we had not moved from the centre of the regio at all, and were perhaps under some illusion, I stood in what seemed to be the centre of the small clearing while Speculor walked around me, taking the same route that one follows around the menhir in order to leave the regio under normal circumstances. My impersonation of the menhir was ineffective. The single path entered the clearing on one side and left on the opposite side. Whilst the rest of us were discussing where the paths might lead, Speculor had set off along one of them so we made haste to catch him up, one direction being as good as another, since we had no guidance.
We had no sound reason to believe anything these travellers had said but agreed to follow on behind them for a while to see where we got to. It was agreed that we would follow the path for about an hour, then, if we had not learnt anything more about our location or discovered anything helpful, we would turn back and try the path in the other direction from where we started. The path was always straight but sometimes the trees were close about it and at other times they opened out into a broad lane or small clearing. Speculor tested the aura periodically and found it did not alter. After an hour, during which we walked at a fairly gentle, steady pace, we had encountered no other paths apart from faint animal trails and seen nothing but trees.
We turned back and began to retrace our steps. After about five diameters, we met the three traveller again. I do not understand how we came to pass them. They were still heading in the same direction and assured us that they would reach Petra Mundi by nightfall. We left them and walked swiftly back to the clearing where we first met them and on to the one in which we had awoken, then continued on the path away from the possible Petra Mundi, hoping for something to help us get home. The path here was as straight as before but was not always so distinct. We stopped when we realised that the path had become as indistinct as some of the animal trails that crossed it and we were at risk of losing it entirely. While we paused to reconsider our position, I cast ReAq to gather moisture from the foliage as we were all thirsty. Our developing hunger was less easy to deal with. While drinking, we noticed that the forest was unnaturally quiet: there was no birdsong nor rustling of leaves. This reinforced the idea in my mind that this was no natural forest.
We decided that the best thing to do was to turn around again, go back all the way along the path to where we had last turned, and continue on in that direction in case Petra Mundi did exist. As we walked along, I discussed with Speculor the possibility of using InTe to interrogate the path about its destination. He seemed taken with the idea and stopped to cast the spell. I noticed that Constantine appeared to think this a waste of time and was bored or irritated by the delay but it seemed to me a sensible thing to try. I certainly felt happier when Speculor reported that the path went to a settlement and that it was not very far away. I was annoyed with myself for not having thought to try this sooner, before we tired ourselves out with all that walking.
Whilst we were considering the possible meaning or purpose of this stone, we heard a familiar voice calling to us from across the clearing. It was Joach, standing in the doorway of a large building, and with a mug in his grasp. He did not seem in the least surprised to see us, or to be there, and said he had been waiting for us to arrive. He said he had walked to the inn through the forest especially to be there to meet us, though he had no idea why it was that he needed to find us, and denied any suggestion that he had told anyone he intended to spend the whole day in his laboratory. Constantine wandered off while I went into the inn with Joach, Iuris Perita and Speculor.
The inn was very busy and the host very large and very welcoming. We found a table to sit at and ordered ale and food. Before these arrived, Constantine rejoined us and said something about having been unable to see a church or any religious symbols amongst the cluster of buildings. I did not find this significant of anything except the magus' obsessive interest in church matters. I had been rather hoping for some simple but substantial fare but what arrived with our mugs of weak ale was a platter of oak cakes sweetened with honey. These were delicious. While we ate, the landlord juggled balls of coloured light "to entertain us", he said. The trick was simple in itself but did demonstrate that even he could work a little magic in this strange place.
As well as providing us with food and drink, the landlord was eager that we take rooms at his inn. I was very curious to see more of the inn, partly because I did not trust any of what I was seeing and partly because the scribe we met on the road had mentioned that he was seeking a book so I had hopes that there might be a few books somewhere about. I used the offer of rooms as an excuse to ask to be shown around. One of the serving girls was happy to take me up the steps behind the bar and showed be inside three rooms, each of which contained a large bed which she assured me was wonderfully comfortable. I suspected that if one took up the offer and fell asleep, one might never awaken. There was no sign of any books and she declined to show me any other rooms but she did say that, if I was to spend the night, the landlord would make sure I was well settled for the night and might read me a bedtime story. I asked at once which book he would read from but she got vague and seemed to imply that he would 'conjure up' whatever book was required at the time. Disappointed, I returned to my sodales and found them about to leave the inn.
We wandered around the clearing for a while. Speculor cast 'Discern the Images of Truth and Falsehood' while touching the wall of the inn and discovered that the place was real, rather to my surprise. There were two paths leading out of the clearing in addition to that we had walked along. The setting sun illuminated two buildings which had previously been hidden behind the trees, or perhaps the ground they stood on had somehow risen up for they were now quite clearly visible above the trees. In one direction there was a building with a reddish roof supported by pillars, which reminded me of what I knew of Roman architecture. In the other direction was a building that looked decidedly Moorish in style with domes and small minarets.
I felt sure that we had not been in the inn anything like as long as the light suggested. It ought to have been no later than mid-afternoon even allowing for the walking in two directions. This reinforced my idea that we were not in the normal world and suggested to me that our experience was in some way associated with Twilight. While waiting for Speculor, this notion grew stronger when I saw that dusk was prolonged unnaturally. Speculor had gone back into the inn to look for the three travellers amongst the crowd there. He found them and was told that they were planning to rest and look for the items they wanted in the morning. This sounded to me like an attempt to make us waste time or risk the beds and never wake. The landlord had told Speculor that the Roman-style building was the Library so I set of towards it the moment he passed on this information.
I was too absorbed in the book to notice what my sodales were doing but I gathered afterwards some of what they had done. Constantine had looked at some of the books but not settled to read any. Speculor had checked the nature and strength of the aura, and spoken to the children, who were not at all in awe of him and wanted him to play with them. They persuaded him to create magical lights to amuse them then the eldest girl said that his lights were just like in the scholar's book. Iuris Perita had gone to look for someone in charge of the place and had found a young man reading in one of the rooms. Constantine had joined Iuris Perita and conversed a while with the scholar, who said he had been in the library for as long as he could remember and was looking for a particular book. Although he did not know the title or subject, he would know it when he saw it. It contained everything that one needed to know, he believed. Constantine was sure the man must be referring to the Bible so went off to hunt through the rooms for one.
Iuris Perita found Speculor talking to the children and noticed that the girl always looked towards one particular room when she talked about the scholar's book, and it was not the room the young man was in. She went to that room and found that the scholar was following her, as were Constantine and Speculor. One the top of the highest pile was a large book with the title 'De Rebus Quas Homines Non Debent Scire'. The scholar fell on it with enthusiasm, saying it was certainly the book he had been searching for. He began to read and my sodales could see that the first page was all riddles, the first concerning three serpents. Constantine was clearly dubious about it and made a point of looking at any other book. He said he was sure we were somehow inside Glomerulus' head or very heavily under the influence of his Twilight experience.
The other magi decided it was safer to leave as soon as possible and came to collect me. I was not keen to be collected since I was very much enjoying the Muto book. They told me I could come back to the library tomorrow but it was important to leave now. This was exasperating and I did not entirely believe them that we would be able to return but I was unlikely to learn anything of real value in so short a time and it would be necessary to borrow the book for a season or two so I agreed to accompany them.
Even as he spoke, a female figure strode out onto the stage, wearing a blindfold over her eyes and wielding a sword. Her words carried up to us - "Do you submit to the power of truth and falsehood?". I was happy to submit to the truth but never to falsehood. Joach called out to her that truth was unavoidable while falsehood must be avoided at all costs. Only a response of "yes" or "no" would satisfy her, it seemed. The warrior got to his feet, cried out "No!" and, now grasping a sword in his hand, ran down the steps towards the woman. Constantine clasped his crucifix and closed his eyes a moment, apparently in prayer, before striding down the steps. I hastened down the steps to try and stop the pair coming to blows, as this seemed to me a fight better conducted with words than with swords. Speculor had noticed that the warrior looked very much like one might imagine Glomerulus to have looked in his youth.
When we reached the stage, the warrior and woman were squaring up to each other, she in no way inconvenienced by the blindfold, by the look of it. Constantine cast 'Demon's Eternal Oblivion' to try to dispel the demon who, he believed was impersonating truth, since Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. His magic had no discernible effect whereas the spell I cast, 'Deflect the Sharp Edge' prevented Truth from injuring the warrior for a while, which I hoped would give me time to think of a way to stop them fighting and start a debate. While I was thinking and Constantine was praying aloud, crucifix held high, Speculor cast a spell to create an image of the warrior on either side of the original warrior. The multiple targets seemed to be confusing the woman a little and when the illusory fighters hit her, we could hear the noise of the impact. Speculor was pleased and created another image behind her. The woman named as Truth then seemed to cast a spell herself. Speculor seemed to take this as a challenge and created more images of the warrior. I thought this a waste of time and rushed to cast 'Deflect the Sharp Edge' on the original warrior again before I lost track of which he was. Unfortunately, I was in too much of a rush and did not take the time necessary to control the high magical energies in this powerful aura. So, I found that all stone and metal was repelled from my person and I was floating above the seats with my necklace pulled taut at right angles to my neck. Iuris Perita noticed my plight and pulled me down, holding onto my belt. The arena was by now almost filled with warriors and Truths. Speculor was still casting spells but suddenly he stopped, looked unwell and slumped onto a bench.
All the time the fight had been going on, Joach had been whittling away at some wood and by this time he had a small figure that looked very much like the woman claiming to be Truth. Joach used the doll to cast 'Lift the Dangling Puppet' and quite soon found one of the images of Truth that he was unable to lift. Seeing so many images of Truth floating in the air, I decided to call up a strong wind to blow them away but again I failed to take full account of the circumstances and managed only to create a gale around myself. I am very grateful to Iuris Perita that she managed to continue to hold on to me during this unfortunate and embarrassing interlude. While I could only watch, the wind being all I could hear, I saw Speculor cast a spell then a large arrow appeared over his head and fell down and hit him. I cannot imagine what he was intending to do with it. Joach cast a ReTe spell, by the look of it, but the only effect I could see was that he seemed to be being punched from all sides by invisible opponents. He dropped the puppet and Iuris Perita was able to reach over and pick it up. She used it to help cast a spell at Truth, I believe, but I could not see that it had any effect. Constantine requested the doll from her and used it to help him cast a dart of fire at the woman. This was clearly effective so he repeated it. Then the woman let her sword drop and said something, which I was told afterwards was "No more; I submit.". I saw the young man pick up the sword that the woman had been fighting with, the Sword of Truth, as he believed it to be, said something I could not hear to us and bowed.
It was still not quite dark, still twilight, as we left the theatre and tried again to reach the Moorish building. As we went, the wind around me died down, I floated to earth, Speculor's headache began to fade and Joach's fight with an invisible foe ended.
My sodales left me there and I heard later what they saw and did. They had quickly found a man who looked a little like Glomerulus, sitting apart on a bench with an empty cup beside him. Constantine had approached one of the serving people but had been ignored. Speculor had found a recess containing a jug of water and a cup. He had taken the jug and from it filled the cup beside the man who looked like Glomerulus. When offered the drink, the man had replied that he thirsted for knowledge and might prefer a drink from the cup in the niche.
When he had given this man a drink from the cup from the niche, Speculor decided to try it himself. Iuris Perita and Constantine cautiously declined but Joach took a sip. Speculor then brought the drink over to me and urged me to drink, saying something about it helping me to understand. I had no idea what he was on about and was a little irritated at his disturbing me yet again, but I realised he was holding out a drink and took a sip, as much to satisfy him without further talk as anything else. At once I was able to comprehend the discussion, which was a deep analysis of truth and enlightenment. I could have stayed there for ever, I think, but my sodales urged me to come away and there was something in their urgency that made me think we were in danger. I suddenly found that I knew that in order to get home, we had to walk into the stone in the centre of the settlement. It seemed at the time to make perfect sense. We went to the stone, taking the man we believed to be Glomerulus with us. I hesitated to return home when there were so many wonders to experience here but Iuris Perita pushed me.
Iuris Perita's first utterance was a strong hint that we had better cast the Aegis right away before anything else unexpected happened. I was really rather irritated with her for she expected me to come at once when all I wanted to do was reach the scriptorium. I was already part way up the first flight of stairs when she called me back, insisting that I should perform the ritual and then could spend the rest of the season on my notes if I so wished. I could see the sense in getting the job out of the way and then devoting as much time as needed to recording my memories, so I agreed to go outside again.
I knew I ought to have ignored the Princeps and locked myself in my Sanctum instead. I am finding it almost impossible to remember any details of the fascinating discussion that I was so privileged to hear. There are scraps of sentences in my head and no coherent statements yet I am perfectly certain that it all made sense at the time. I plan to write down all that I think I can remember and hope then to make some sense of it, or to be reminded of what it was that struck me as so absolutely right and significant at the time.
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