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I have set myself the task this season of gleaning more from the book 'Genesis' which I found so absorbing last Autumn. Several questions and ideas have come to me in the interim and I want to sort them out and improve my understanding of the Art of Creo.
There has so far been just one interruption to my studies, and, for once, it was welcome. Iuris Perita's lady's maid, Pernelle, has found a young woman who will act in this same capacity for myself. Guena is from St.Brieuc, where, I gather, she was working in a similar role. I have not enquired why she left, assuming that Pernelle has taken care to ensure there is nothing suspicious about the woman. I am grateful that Pernelle has taken some trouble to make up anything that might have been lacking in Guena's skills and has schooled her to tolerance of the Gift and the importance of not disturbing me unnecessarily or touching anything in my rooms that is outside her sphere of business.
She seems an obedient servant, reasonably bright and alert, and with an adequate understanding of French, though Breton is her native tongue. It is just as well she did not understand what passed between Julius and Ignatius, in Spanish, when they first learnt that she was to live with us here. I am sure they only jested, but I have spoken sternly to them about maintaining propriety within my immediate household and they have since been as kindly and welcoming as gruff soldiers can be.
26th March 1221: Bad news from the forest
Apparently some of the grogs are complaining, in particular those who go out into the forest to hunt for our food and those who patrol the same area to guard us. I am anxious about the reports that the fae are bothering our people, and nagging at them to give some unspecified 'help' to stop some unknown people from harming the animals,
If the tales are to be believed, someone is torturing animals in a disgusting fashion and it ought to be stopped, most especially because it stirs up the dangerously unpredictable fairy-folk and blame might fall on us. Much of this story came from an encounter some of our grogs had with one of the fair folk in the guise of a little old man. Since my own area of understanding does not really cover either animals or fae, I feel there is little I can do of a practical nature and it is up to one of the others to deal with this. I gather that Speculor has been taking an active interest and has tracked some of the perpetrators towards Ploeuc.
27th March 1221: Commissions
I met Jehan this morning in our council chamber. He was preoccupied with preparation for some expedition that Magus Constantine was about to undertake, calling it a pilgrimage. This season he had already seen Magus Joach off on a Vis-hunting trip with a few grogs and was bothered by having to find others he could send. I assured him that he must be mistaken, since Constantine was to spend this season in the scriptorium writing out some very useful spells for the library.
It seems that it is I who am mistaken, and Constantine is about to depart for St.Brieuc, taking with him a couple of grogs. I have no idea why they are to go on this pilgrimage right now (I am more inclined to call it a waste of time or dereliction of duty) and will consider it very prejudicial to Constantine's application for full membership of the covenant if he fails to carry out the service imposed by council.
However, since he was to go, I took the opportunity of suggesting to Jehan that this was perhaps an excellent opportunity to obtain that red ink which will go such a long way to improving our writings. It seems that he had already thought of this and had added it to the list of comparatively hard to come by items that were to be sought in St.Brieuc. One important activity for the expedition was to attempt to obtain commissions for the holy books that we have set the mundane scribes to producing. If only we could obtain the services of a good Illuminator and a 'Book of Hours' to copy from, I feel sure our output would find a ready market.
30th March 1222: Elli l'Arbellatrieuse is missing
I was disturbed this evening by urgent knocking at the door of my sanctum. This was such an unusual event that I was more curious than angry when I flung open the door to find one of the serving men trembling near the staircase. He stammered out that Magus Speculor needed to see me downstairs right away and then ran down. I followed.
One of our soldiers, Elli, the female with an odd accent and a crossbow who has been with us since the earliest days, is missing. I gather that she was out in the forest, looking for traces of the trouble-makers, and had not returned before dark. Speculor had used 'Summon the Distant Image' to discover that she is bound as a captive in a small room with stone walls. He has used 'The Inexorable Search' to establish that she is somewhere near Ploeuc. Jacques had assembled a small rescue party and my part was to create light for them. I cast 'Lamp without Flame' on two lanterns, one rather more successful than the other, but was then obliged to return to my room and concentrate on maintaining the spell for as long as I could manage. I had hoped to stay awake and alert until dawn but, fatigued by my studies during the day, I regret to say I fell asleep while it was still dark.
1st April 1222: Good Friday
I hear that Elli has been brought back, bruised but alive. Iuris Perita is in some agitation because she believes that our grog was taken by diabolists. She has had a letter written by the priest and taken to the Hermitage, hoping that they will deal with the problem so we can maintain a safe distance.
As a rule, I tend to avoid the grog's gossip but there was no escaping the tales of her rescue. From what I hear, it involved a lot of stealth and creeping along ditches and hedges, much evading of guards, repeated spell-casting by Speculor to locate the prisoner, and a certain amount of breaking and entering.
There is some incident that is causing much hilarity amongst the servants but I have gathered no more than reference to a distant barking dog and something about Speculor drawing attention to himself then vanishing. I expect Iuris Perita saw what happened and will deal with it, or with Speculor, if he took risks in front of the mundanes again.
They say that Elli was being held, very tightly bound at wrists and ankles, in one of three small cells under the great hall in Jean de Ploeuc's own house. The only access was by way of a trap door in the kitchen, where several servants were sleeping. It seems to me that this trouble with Ploeuc is exactly the sort of thing we recruited Achilles to deal with for us, and just when we need him, he is off somewhere to purchase horses!
Although the talk amongst the grogs is mainly of the heroic rescue of Elli from the manor house by Huon and Abel, aided by some magical silence provided by Speculor, the more serious matter is what they found in the church. There were two people there, sitting side by side against the wall in a dark corner within the church. One, described as having a pointy beard, was chanting for a very long time in a strange guttural language unrecognised by Iuris Perita or Speculor. His companion was younger and clean shaven. Speculor had cast 'Eyes of the Cat' on the whole party, I gather, so seeing in the dark was no problem. I wish they had thought of that before having me work on those lamps but at least my having fallen asleep need not be mentioned.
I hear that Elli screamed as loud as she could when her rescuers opened her cell door, which she explained by saying she saw two horrific devils coming to torture her, and that one grabbed her and the other smote her unconscious.
Not content to leave matters in the hands of the Hermitage and Father Edwin, Iuris Perita has sent one of our people to Ploeuc to see what he can learn. It is our tanner, Georges Trouin, who has been sent. It seems to me an odd choice but apparently his piety and intelligence are thought to compensate for his attendant odour in this case. He is instructed to attend the services in Ploeuc, take a good look inside the church, and to keep his eyes open in general. Most particularly, he is not to let on that he is associated with us, but is posing as a pilgrim from the south, heading to share the Easter celebrations at the Hermitage.
There is more to add concerning what the tanner found in Ploeuc which I did not discover until several days following Easter. The Good Friday service had taken place as expected but the priest gave a highly inappropriate sermon on the importance of duty to one's feudal superiors and the paying of taxes. Georges was able to get a meal with one of the villagers afterwards and learnt from him that 'everything' in Ploeuc had changed since Christmas, that there was a strictly-enforced curfew, taxes had risen steeply, and the guards working for the lord of the manor were treating people roughly. No-one had been sent to work for the lord's feudal superior since Jean de Ploeuc was now paying his dues in coin.
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