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|The iron rune of Mars and Ignem|
|The silver rune of Luna and Aquam|
|The copper rune of Venus and Auram|
|The lead rune of Saturn and Terram|
We had with us also items of these metals to form by Muto Terram into each shape as we had last year and I hoped we would end the day with 8 pawns of Intellego vis.
In order to keep myself safe should anything unexpected happen this time, I had brought Julius and Ignatius with me, equipped with whatever they thought suitable for an expedition.
Glomerulus had been guided to a comfortable chair in a hut on the far side of the clearing, there to recover from his Twilight experience, or what ever it was, with Nicole set to attend him and make sure he stayed away from the regio. With him out of the way, I felt confident that the collection of vis would be entirely straightforward, since we now know what to do.
The first thing to be done was to organise grogs to carefully gather the vivid bluebells from the regio, which now covered the whole of the main clearing. They were under instructions to take the filled baskets straight to the perfumier, who had some technique for extracting the essence of the blooms.
The next path to open was that of water. Everything proceeded as expected. Speculor invited me to cast the spell but I was still feeling a little queasy after the experiences of the early morning so I declined.
The third path to open was expected to be that of air. Instead of approaching it from the menhir, we decided to go east from the glade of Mars, up a tree and via a rock ledge to an area of bleak open countryside and thence to the edge of a high cliff. The indentation in the form of the rune for copper was in the face of the cliff. Joach tells us that he has lots of experience of ropes and high places from his days carving gargoyles on cathedrals and I was in no way interested in taking his place to be lowered over the edge to the place where the symbol was. Joach was soon hauled back up, with the new copper rune in his hand.
We climbed back down to the glade of Mars and went from there directly to the glade of Saturn. This involved going through a dark, cold tunnel. Constantine said he would create a light for us, but he seemed rather slow about it and I was just thinking I'd do it myself when he completed his spell. I expect he was taking special care because of the specially strong magical energies in the regio, something that does not appear to cause Speculor any concern at all. When we reached the symbol of lead, Joach cast MuTe on the cup we had brought for the purpose.
At the stone by the pool in Luna's glade, again we saw a brief flash of light as Speculor put a silver symbol into the indentation. Again Speculor wanted to leave the symbol in place so I had Julius stand guard over that one.
In the glade of Venus, Huon climbed the cliff face to put a copper symbol in place. I was surprised that the flash of light was the same when a grog placed the rune as when a magus did it. I could not persuade Speculor to leave either of his grogs as a guard and had to trust to the inaccessibility of the copper symbol as its protection, but by now, having met nothing unanticipated, I was beginning to feel confident that guards were not required.
The last symbol to be inserted in place was the lead one. Again Constantine carefully illuminated the area for us. Speculor cast a spell using Intellego Terram and announced that he felt sure there was a blocked passage heading away from the T junction where we were gathered. We were sure that the metal symbols were, in some way, keys that opened the paths from the menhir and thought they might also act as keys to other paths. I do not know whether the iron symbol was used as a key to open the path that took Joach to Normandy; no-one had mentioned that but it may have been so. Speculor decided to start by waving each symbol in turn in the direction he believed the blocked passage to be. Logically, he started with the lead one and we were very pleased when a keyhole shaped like it appeared in the rock close by. Just to be sure, we tried removing the first lead shape from its place and seeking the keyhole again but learnt that the keyhole only appeared when the first symbol was in its position on the wall. Speculor inserted the second symbol into the newly-revealed keyhole and we were surprised to find that an archway in the wall appeared in front of him. I was very glad to notice that he still had the lead rune in his hand - however fascinating the paths, we cannot afford to lose vis.
While they were gone, I decided it was time I collected Julius and Ignatius as their usefulness as protectors on the new path exceeded their value as guardians of the runes. We all went to the glade of Mars and spent some time hunting for a concealed path. As we could find nothing, Speculor suggested that these only became findable when all four symbols were in their positions. To make sure we did not miss Constantine and Huon, we returned to the menhir to await their return. They were not long. Constantine looked rather pleased with himself, for some reason.
We decided to begin again at the fire glade, near the place where Joach had disappeared last Autumn. One iron symbol was left in position on the altar. Whoever was carrying the matching rune was able to see clearly the path that Joach had walked down. We searched for any sign of a keyhole and found a carved rune in the base of one of a pair of slender fallen pillars concealed in the long grass by the foot of a tree that marked the path.
Before doing any more here, we wanted to find equivalent locations and keyholes in the other glades. Next to be examined was Luna's glade where we set one silver rune in the rock. Constantine at once took the other silver symbol and waded out into the pool. The water swirled around one point which suggested that that was the significant place to expect a hidden path.
From there we went to the cliff top again. Again it was Constantine who took the lead in the search, striding along the edge of the cliff. I was not sure he was looking in the right direction and directed my attention upwards to the clouds and the breezes; since this place was linked to Auram, I expected any path to be in and of the air. The grogs carefully lowered Joach on a rope down over the edge of the cliff to search along the cliff face. After a while none of us had found anything that seemed significant and I heard talk of going round to the foot of the cliff to try there. At this moment, Speculor noticed what I was up to and he cast Intellego Auram which revealed a vortex of air some way out from the edge of the cliff but at about the same height as the land surface on the cliff top. I felt pleased that I had been on the right track and a little disappointed that I had hesitated to use magic to assist my search.
While these arrangements were being hastily made, Speculor was pressing ahead. It seemed that Milon was finding it hard going and was soon forced to halt. Those of us following stopped too, at a distance of 12 or more paces behind. Speculor was striding ahead but Milon just could not move on. I could see that he was trying hard, as if against a force of some sort. I saw Speculor stop, turn and go back to Milon and hand him the iron rune, whereupon Milon could advance. Then both men held the symbol and both could walk, but there was no room for Huon to walk with them.
Having this extra information, Speculor returned to the rest of us and took a lock of hair from Milon to leave with us and another from Huon to take with him. I noticed one or two bundles pass between Huon and Milon, presumably ensuring that Milon had the supplies they might need. Clearly Speculor was determined to follow the path. We said we would await him a while around the altar stone. I noticed Constantine look a little uncomfortable to hear the lump of rock referred to in this way. Speculor suggested that we might remove the iron symbol from the altar but Constantine reminded him that this might break the path he was on and would then almost certainly leave him somewhere in Normandy. Then Speculor and Milon grasped the rune between them and walked off down the path, going straight ahead into the distance. We watched until they were out of sight.
When Constantine had finished his sermon, I remarked that this was all very well but that I did not see how it affected me directly as I would, in all likelihood, spend my last days in a convent and square everything with God before my end, which was a very long way off. Constantine launched into another lecture so I was very glad indeed that he had hardly got into his stride when Speculor and Milon walked into view.
Immediately, Speculor created for us a detailed, three-dimensional, animated image of the chamber he had visited and described his experiences.
Milon called out in some alarm and the two men realised that they could not always see each other as they, like the rest of the chamber, were fading in and out of view. By both holding the iron key again, they were able to see each other clearly, but this rather impeded Speculor's search. Turning to the altar again, Speculor saw it was covered in carvings: on one side Romans looking military, on another Romans looking important and on a third Romans sacrificing bulls. (Constantine said something at this point in Speculor's story but I didn't pay any attention as the report was so fascinating.) Speculor then examined the carving of the bull on the cave wall behind the altar and was a little alarmed to find that it or he was not quite solid.
He turned around towards the altar and he could make out three tunnels leading from the chamber. The one directly ahead somehow overlaid the path that he had walked in on. The others led to left and right but neither could be penetrated. He cast Intellego Vim to test the aura. It was still a magical aura of the seventh magnitude so he felt that he had not crossed a regio boundary but suspected that there was something more in a level of the regio that he could not reach, in particular he thought the other passages were in higher levels of the regio. Speculor then cast Intellego Imaginem on the fading scene, taking great care, in order to fix the complete image in his mind, which cannot have been easy since parts of it kept fading out. Then the pair had left the chamber and returned along the path.
We had the other two grogs re-erect the fallen pillars as best they could, just where they had fallen. They were not quite in line with the path. I hunted around in the grass in the hope of finding the bases where the pillars had stood and said something about using Intellego Terram to ask the pillars where they should stand. Speculor took up the suggestion and cast the spell. He saw a brief glimpse of a set of symbols, rested a moment and tried again for a clearer view. He learnt that the pillars must be set in place according to a ritual which was described in this set of symbols.
Whilst he still had them in his mind, Speculor tried to trace out the symbols in the dust, using his finger. I was very cross that I had not thought to bring quill and parchment with me and ran off to fetch them, forgetting that I could not get back to the menhir glade whilst the iron rune was on the altar of Mars. I felt rather foolish by the time I returned to the others. The only solution I could think of was to cast Muto Terram on the dust to turn it into clay and thus fix the symbols, which I did. I promised the others that I would make copies onto parchment of the symbols for them when we returned to the covenant, though Constantine said he did not wish to have a copy of any pagan symbols.
We went back to the covenant right away and made the copies, both Speculor and I. We thought the symbols were from some non-Hermetic system of magic and some looked alchemical. Joach examined them and was able to point out those that were alchemical and those that were astrological which left just those which were geometric. We thought we should learn as much about the other concealed paths as we could while the day lasted and equipped ourselves for another expedition of exploration.
Speculor said he wanted better food this time (though I never saw him eat any of the lunch) and again Constantine went on about Lent. I ordered grogs to fetch lanterns and went myself to collect the Pearl of Underwater Breathing, which I felt sure would be useful in the pool of Luna.
The tunnel was cold and gloomy, cut through the rock, but looked normal enough. I went back in, Julius and Ignatius right behind me, and walked towards the light. The others came too and we walked straight for some way until we reached a place where tunnels crossed. The tunnels were lined with rough-hewn stone here. We could go left, right, ahead or back. I remarked that this was very like when I was exploring the passages of the amphitheatre when seeking the home of the magical statue, and how useful it had been to use Intellego Terram to ask the tunnels the way. Speculor at once took up the idea but he did not acquire any useful information about which way to go. He did discover that we were no longer in the magical aura of our regio or on a magical path. He cast Intellego Vim to investigate whether there was an aura of any sort and found that we were in a Dominion aura of the seventh magnitude. I was astonished. I had assumed that my feelings of discomfort were entirely due to the cold, damp, dark tunnel. My immediate desire was to make sure we could get back home by walking back through the tunnel. Constantine was overheard praying.
Others agreed that testing the route home was our first priority and we were all glad to find that we had no difficulty walking back through the tunnel to reach the place we expected. Speculor had rope tied to himself and Milon and left one end with Huon who stayed at the archway, and the pair began walking into the tunnel without any source of light. He said he was going to test the degree of darkness, or where the very dark darkness ended or something like that; I'm not quite sure what. I got very chilled waiting about for them to return. Suddenly Huon announced that the rope had gone slack. Anxious for their safety, we all went back into the tunnel with the lamp and were relieved to meet Speculor and Milon at the crossing of the tunnels. The rope that had joined them was cut in two but neither was harmed. It seems that it is possible to get back home though the tunnel but it was also possible to get lost in the darkness and this seemed to involve crossing a regio boundary, which is where the rope parted.
Constantine hunted around while some of us were standing discussing the matter of the regio boundary. He discovered that there was a grid-pattern of tunnels, with niches containing the remains of very old burials. He was sure it was a catacomb and was delighted to find on the walls carvings of Christian symbols and Latin names. Some of the inscriptions indicated that those buried close by had been martyred for their faith which excited Constantine greatly. He came to tell us that he had found relics we could put in our church. Iuris Perita asked how much one might be able to earn by selling such relics, which did not seem to please him. While this conversation was in progress, Speculor asked me if I thought there was a likelihood of there being any Corpus vis around. I thought it quite possible but Constantine overheard us and went on about not desecrating the bodies. It was not a comfortable place to conduct a debate so we left, Constantine being last to go as he lingered to repeat some prayer or other.
Once we returned to the light of the glade of Saturn, Constantine said he wished to go at once to tell Fr.Edwin about the catacombs. Speculor said we should remove the runes so Constantine could go. I suspect this was so we could go back to explore for Corpus vis, or even look again at the pagan altar, without Constantine's objections. Constantine seemed have the same suspicion and changed his mind about going right away.
We waited what seemed a long time for Constantine to swim to the surface and became worried for him. We had the grogs throw one end of a rope out to land near the whirlpool. It hit the bottom and no-one grabbed at it so we hauled it in again. Huon was given the Pearl of Underwater Breathing and instructed to swim under the surface of the pool to look for Constantine. It was maybe as much as a quarter of an hour before Huon returned, alone. He told us that he had found Constantine who was perfectly alright. I got the pearl back from Huon. He was cold and wet - I used Perdo Aquam to dry his clothing out and he was told to exercise himself to warm up.
After going some distance, he entered a large underground chamber where there was enough light to see weeds and fish. The fresh water was cold so he used Creo Ignem to warm himself. After looking around a little, Constantine went back to the ledge and there he met Huon. They attempted to communicate by gesture and Huon decided that he was being told to return to the surface.
Constantine found that the other two tunnels also opened out into caverns, some of which had other tunnels leading from them, and all the caverns he saw had weed and fish, while some also had bridges of stone leading from one rock outcrop to another but, being unable to swim, he could not easily go up to stand on them. After a while, the caverns all began to look the same and he had not seen the ledge or shaft upwards for a long time but eventually he found it again. He searched the ledge and found four small fallen pillars near the base of the shaft. One of them was marked with the rune of silver. He tried putting the silver symbol in the carved place for it but this had no effect. Presumably, the pillars had to be in the correct position, possibly at the top of the shaft. Constantine tried to climb up the inside of the shaft but had to use Rego Corpus to lift himself up through the water.
Constantine shot up out of the pool in a jet of water, stopped above the surface of the pool and lowered himself down so his feet touched the surface then walked across the water to rejoin us on the margin and deliver his report, gently steaming.
Joach washed the pearl in the pool before popping it under his tongue. I felt sure that the others would by now have set aside their thought that we had got a bad deal in exchanging the silver coins for a magical statue and the statue for the pearl. He walked out into the pool, carrying the magical lamp, which was still glowing nicely, and the silver rune, and sank.
There was a pause of not many minutes then four pillars bobbed up to the surface. I found out afterwards that Joach had tried several means of lifting them but that Muto Terram to make them buoyant had been the successful technique. Speculor and I discussed using Rego Terram to cause the pillars to drift to the edge of the pool and I cast the spell. Meanwhile, Constantine and Iuris Perita had got the grogs to pull them in with a rope.
Very soon afterwards, Joach rose up to the surface, having used 'Lift the Dangling Puppet' to ascend. He had learnt that the aura at the base of the shaft was a magical one of seventh magnitude. Speculor was using Intellego Terram to investigate the pillars. He saw a similar but different set of symbols which he wrote onto the parchment which we had remembered to bring this time.
I took the second copper symbol and used Rego Corpus to lift myself up into the air and move towards the vortex of wind that Speculor had located earlier in the day. I rather expected to be pulled up, or possibly down, within it and was disappointed to move into it and just come out the other side, having felt no more than the brush of the winds against me. I waited there patiently while Speculor walked round via the glade of Mars to appear on the cliff top where I watched him cast an Intellego Auram spell. I watched Huon and Milon lower him down on a rope until he was close to the copper rune where he repeated the spell. I do not know what it was he was trying to find out, but feel sure he would have passed on anything useful.
It appeared that we were making no progress so I floated down to join Iuris Perita at the foot of the cliff and stopped concentrating on my levitation. We discussed the use of Intellego Terram on the rubble to ascertain whether or not it had fallen from the cliff face and she cast the spell. Many of the rocks there had fallen from the cliff above which at one time had extended out as far as the vortex. We talked about the difficulty of magically reconstructing the cliff or building a bridge supported on one end only to permit one to approach the vortex on foot. I recast Rego Corpus on myself, floated up again and attempted to enter the vortex in what seemed to be the correct direction, as if I was walking on an invisible cliff top, but this made no difference so I floated down again.
With encouragement from Speculor, I used Creo Terram with Rego to repair the section of the pillar that held the carving. This worked well however Speculor's Intellego Terram still revealed a series of symbols with gaps in it as before. Then Speculor floated up to examine the vortex more closely but found it was just as I had discovered. Constantine called up to him to collect the copper rune while he was up there - I think he was getting impatient for us to move on. He did not have long to wait for we next collected all the symbols and returned to the covenant.
Once the sun had set, and the regio had shrunk back to its usual size, Speculor headed off to speak to Glomerulus. This proved useful for Glomerulus recognised the symbols and told Speculor that the geometric ones derived from a pre-Hermetic primitive magical system concerned with the manipulation of magic by use of geometry.
I have two free seasons ahead of me. It was hard to decide how best to use them, with so many interesting alternatives but I have settled upon spending this first by continuing my study of the book 'Genesis' on the subject of Creo. It is an Art I have not spent much time on before and I now find it more interesting than I had remembered it to be from my days as an apprentice.
I am delighted to say that, this time, my suggestion, oft repeated, that Constantine could very usefully write out as many of his Ignem spells as possible was accepted at last. Speculor in particular supported the proposal. Joach did not seem very interested but did not prevent it. If there is something of sufficient interest amongst them, I may take the Summer season to study one.
There was quite a lot of enthusiasm for reading Constantine's newly-finished book on Vim. It looks very nice, to be sure, but I cannot see any profit to myself in spending time on it at present. I am a little reluctant to let it out of the library before it has really taken up a place there, but if one of my sodales wishes to read it, I cannot prevent it.
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