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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Summer 1222: Someone to watch over us

The first watcher

Maga Industria came to stay with us immediately the business of the trial was over. I find she makes me a little nervous, even though I am quite sure I have no reason to feel so. Fortunately she made no demands on my time. Alas for Iuris Perita, who seemed to be constantly in demand, not just at home but also to accompany the Enforcer on trips to Fudarus and Wirbelnia, and must have been unable to complete her studies. I have no clear idea what all the fuss was for, though our Princeps did say something about discussions of Hermetic law in one of her rare confiding moments, and it did not appear to me that we were in trouble. One useful aspect of having Maga Industria on the premises was the frequent visits of Redcaps, not just our usual Aversus, but some others from further afield who brought some interesting bits of news.

Through local, mundane channels, I heard that Sir Achilles has invited two of his friends or relations to come to live in the manor houses at Ploeuc and St.Eloi. They are a Sir Guillaume and a Sir Yves. I have to assume that this is done with the full consent of Iuris Perita and that it has been made clear that they are to leave us in peace. Their help should ensure that Achilles does not neglect his duties here, at any rate.

The work I had set myself for Spring with the Summa on the Art of Creo has been very satisfying. I hope my sodales have profited from the season also. Our small library has certainly benefited; my concern that Constantine was too much away to complete the work he had promised us was unnecessary and we now have copies of several useful spells, mainly concerning Creo, Perdo, Ignem and Corpus. I hope to learn all of them before too long. Come to think of it, if he produced such well-written books in the limited time he had, perhaps we should have set a larger task!

Jimena is about half way through her work to produce a translation into Francien French of the 'Libros del Saber de Astronomía'. Now that we know they contain Occult Lore in addition to the Astronomy promised by the title, I expect there will be some interest in reading them. I think I should choose to study from the originals; not that I doubt Jimena's skill in the translation, but working from the source is usually to be preferred. I must consider whether there might be any demand for such a work elsewhere in the Tribunal, for we have scribes who could commence work to make a copy for trade.

There are two pawns of Vim vis to add to our stores from Speculor's season of distillation and a further contribution of Vim vis from Joach too, since his hunting expedition was successful. Speculor's takes the form of transparent crystals filled with motes of light which move as you look at them and often seem to be on the point of forming an image but never stay still long enough for one to make it out. Joach's is spiders' web which stays permanently wet with dew. It has taken some ingenuity to find a good way to store these webs.

The Summer season's work plans

I have proposed to Council that I spend the coming season carrying out some service for the covenant. If we are to have aid with the Autumn ploughing, it is important that the proposed enchanted device be created this Summer. If my offer to work on the enchantment of a ploughshare using Rego Terram is not accepted, I shall offer to distill Vim vis for a season as service, or to defer my service and spend the season in private study with the book 'The Manipulation of Aurae, Regiones and Vis'. I wish Maga Industria would hurry up and go. We have decided to postpone our Council meeting if she is still here when the solstice arrives. She seems to have been spending rather a lot of time with the recuperating Jews but I have not heard anything of what she might have been talking to them about. I did ask Jimena but she says she has made a point of staying out of earshot during their discussions and finds the Maga too intimidating to want to risk any chance of being thought an eavesdropper. I can't say I blame her.

Magus Constantine has proposed a most interesting and powerful enchanted device which, he tells us, could be built into the wall surrounding our new vineyard, and act to dispel frosts. I am very enthusiastic about this idea but have had to point out to Constantine that we lack any Ignem or Creo vis. Undaunted, he has proposed to spend the coming season in a hunt for suitable vis, Ignem for preference. I told him of the magical oven that Iuris Perita found near the coast not long after we came to live here, since that is the only reference I have come across to Ignem locally. I have also told him that the old lady, Mai Corey, is reputed to have a fund of knowledge concerning local legends and stories which he might find helpful. I think I forgot to mention that she speaks only the local Breton language.

Thinking of Mai, I reminded Iuris Perita that we had once thought it a good idea to send a scribe to note down anything she could tell us that might lead us to local sources of vis. It seems that we have no scribe capable of understanding and writing Breton, nor any who can comprehend the local language and take down her words in Latin or French. What a great pity!

I noticed recently that the masons appear to have finished working on the church. They have certainly made an excellent job of it, and some of the carving is as fine as any one might see on a cathedral. Surely it is high time that these people, having proved their skill, were set to work on the hexagonal building we plan to construct around the menhir? I brought the matter up with some of the others over a meal last night. It seems there are all sorts of other things that can usefully be done with stone, including gatehouses to defend our covenant, prestigious fire-resistant houses for favoured consortes and grogs, a bell-tower for the church, outbuildings for the Manor in the form of a granary, barn, stables and a mill ... if Achilles wishes to develop the village, he will have to wait his turn with the masons, I believe. I said as much and was told that such simple work could be done by our quarryman and unskilled grogs, which leaves the Ruan family free to work on our new laboratories.

I am very satisfied with the maid, Guena. That is, she performs her duties well and I hardly notice her most of the time, which is as it should be.

15th June 1222: Midsummer

Maga Industria is still here! Whatever she is doing, it did not involve any attempt to interfere with our vis collection activities. We nominated a considerable number of grogs to follow the animals on Mid-summer Eve and to collect the droppings of any that were heard to speak. Iuris Perita was spared from her discussions long enough to cast 'Gather the Essence of the Beast' on what was brought in, or at least, on that part of the material found to contain vis, for one of the grogs, Abel, showed an excess of enthusiasm for the messy task of collection and was rewarded accordingly by being sent to help in the stables. This year, we set the scribes to go around with some of the grogs who could speak a reasonable amount of both Breton and Francien, to record some of the sayings of the animals, but nothing of use was obtained.

Speculor was beside the menhir from well before dawn, as usual. I rose early enough to be there at dawn to greet the stone face on the menhir and the mossy faces on the trees. Constantine came to do the same as it was his first opportunity to see the regio at this season. After we had trimmed its stony beard, Jehan kept the menhir engaged with stories of what had been going on in the world since this time last year. I supervised the grogs who trimmed the tree beards and made sure the resulting vis was stored safely away.

Council meeting

Two days after the solstice, Maga Industria departed. The guest quarters were then occupied by Bartholomeus, the Redcap from Wirbelnia. We held our delayed meeting as soon as we could. Joach took the opportunity to tell us about a interesting ruined castle that he had passed close to when returning from his vis hunt. It lies two or maybe three days' walk towards the northwest from here, I think (his descriptions are not very clear). On a high place overlooking an overgrown, wooded valley he found an abandoned keep with trees growing inside it. Below the keep was a lake and nearby, a deserted village which rumour said was haunted. He thought it probable that part of the cliff had fallen away, taking some of the castle walls with it. The place has a slight magic aura.

Constantine made his proposal to Council that he hunt vis during the coming season, so as to be able to make the protective device for the vineyard, and this was accepted. He expressed an intention to head towards St.Brieuc and the coast, so was asked to look at the state of the Tour de Cesson and assess the amount of work required from our carpenters to make the lower floors habitable. I reminded him to listen out for any information concerning Sir Hammund and his recruiting activities in that area. He was to take the vis detection wand with him.

I put forward my offers of service to Council as I had planned but Joach was keen to create the enchanted ploughshare and he won approval to do this. It was decided that I should have this season free and spend the following one distilling vis, which suits me well enough.

I suggested that Iuris Perita could spend the season making a device to allow us to listen to what was going on in Sir Achilles' hall. I said this in part to try to find out how far she trusts him. It seems that she does not trust him so much as I had hoped he deserves because the discussion was all about how difficult and expensive it would be to ensure that the device was not active when a member of the Order was present. We opted instead to enchant a lock of Sir Achilles' hair so that it could endure as a very long-lasting arcane connection to him, which we could use to cast appropriate spells when he was not with a Magus.

Speculor decided to spend the season once again in private study, most probably with the Imaginem Summa again.

Late June: Constantine is wounded

Constantine has been very badly hurt. Jimena is tending him and tells me that he has just one wound, where an arrow sank deeply in, but it is serious. She says he had used his magic to reduce the loss of blood and that he would certainly be dead by now had he not had that skill. As it is, he must stay in her care for many weeks, as I did when badly hurt, but she is confident that he will make a full recovery as long as he heeds her instructions.

The story of how he came to be injured has reached me in two contrasting forms. One, quite straightforward and brief, from Constantine himself, and another, far more exciting, via the grog Gerard, who, along with Redwald, was with Constantine when it happened. Gerard had been sent along because he alone amongst our people knows something of the local legends; since he is also familiar with the area and can use a weapon to some effect, he seemed like the ideal choice were it not for his enthusiasm for the Order. Of course, I can quite understand that a loyal grog has respect and loyalty to members of the Order of Hermes, and applaud him for this. The difficulty, it seems to me, is that he wishes to engage any magus he encounters in detailed discussions of Hermetic history, and if given the least encouragement, will descend into a lecture on 'the lineage, activities and interests of magi I have heard about' and this can get very tiresome unless one is quite firm with him, as I usually am myself. On this occasion, I put up with him in order to get his story. Because of his own particular obsession, Gerard gave a very detailed account of everything that had happened involving Constantine since the moment the three of them had left Saxum Caribetum, but I will abbreviate here.

The vis hunt had commenced as planned, leading them to the Tour de Cesson where Constantine dealt with the rampant brambles by burning a path through them. They went from there to Point de Rossilier to see that magical oven. They then headed inland and made their way to the ruined castle that Joach had reported, and this was where the accident happened.

They were ambushed by archers and Constantine was wounded by the first volley - according to Gerard this was perhaps because he misjudged the direction of the attack and moved in the wrong direction but it was probably just very bad luck. Naturally, Gerard and Redwald moved at once to interpose themselves between the magus and the archers, who now showed themselves for a moment and seemed to be only children. A second volley of arrows flew towards the trio. Gerard says he could hear Constantine casting spells behind him and was waiting for fire to strike down the enemy but it appears that it was healing spells he heard. Redwald then did something inexplicable and, I think, inexcusable - he charged the attackers, leaving Constantine badly wounded and very poorly protected. Gerard had a lot to say about this, being quite rightly appalled. Redwald is Constantine's own shield grog so it is up to him what punishment is in order, but I hope he will be very severe. Apart from anything else, it sets such a bad example!

Gerard took on himself the role of shield grog, fending off arrows while Constantine continued to cast spells. Several times flame shot out towards the archers and each time Gerard's heart rose, anticipating the end of the fight, but Constantine's Ignem magic seemed too weak to have any effect on these opponents. It was clear to all by now that these were not children but folk of the fae. Redwald was in amongst them now, slashing with his longsword. He quickly felled one, which lay sobbing. While he attacked the remaining pair, Gerard and Constantine advanced cautiously towards them and still the darts and arrows of fire failed to do any damage. Redwald was not doing much better as the thick furs they wore protected the fairies from most of his blows. Then Constantine set fire to some of the undergrowth not far from Redwald. This may have been an error but Constantine followed it up with two effective spells and a second of the fae fell. Redwald turned all his ferocity against the last one, which fled. As it did so, according to Gerard, Constantine surrounded himself in flame. Gerard's description is scarcely plausible unless this was again an accident, and knowing how badly the magus was hurt, it may be that his control of the magic was imperfect. Redwald pursued the fairy a little way but soon lost it in the dense forest.

According to Gerard, Constantine went over to the two injured fairies and slew one of them, then he waved the vis detection wand over it and looked disappointed. I imagine he thought that a little vis would be some recompense for his wound. That sounds somewhat callous, though I am not sure what I would have done if in the same circumstances myself. They made attempts to get answers from the other but either it did not understand Latin, Breton or Normand French or, more likely, it was too upset or hurt to respond. They bound it, intending to bring it here, but it died at sunset. I cannot say I am sorry that they did not manage to bring it to the covenant as I become less trusting of the fae with every piece of news I hear of them.

I am wondering whether the precedent set when I was badly hurt by one of the fae applies in Constantine's case, as a mere candidate for membership. If it does, we will have lost one of the seasons of service due to the covenant from an applicant. This would be unfortunate but I am reluctant to bring up the subject if none of the others think of it. His injury also means that we still have no Ignem or Creo vis and will be unable to have the device to protect the vineyard this Winter.

July: Taking it in turns

While Bartholomeus Mercereris filius Aversi was preparing to depart, Hominis Calamitas Tytali, filius Nestorii arrived from Fudarus. I gather that the grogs he brought from Fudarus thought themselves superior to our people and there was some bad feeling but they only stayed about a week and a half. His place was taken by Eclogorus Quaesitor Guernici, filius Barucci Quaesitoris of Objurgator. I felt this succession of visitors was rather more than the results of the fine weather bringing magi out of their sancta on various missions that just happened to bring them this way. It was becoming a very vexing imposition but I suppose, at this time of year, food is abundant, and the visitors seemed to have their own business and did not interfere with mine. Iuris Perita and Constantine both believe that these visitors have been sent to watch us, following the recent accusations against us of diabolism, to make sure we do not get into any more trouble. If this is so, I am affronted; the charges were lies from the start and were proved in court to be lies. However, I shall keep quiet, especially while there is a Quaesitor visiting.

Eclogorus has gone and I am annoyed to find that his place has been taken by Urbanus Verbus Tytali, filius Delaborati from Fudarus, he who stole a chip from our menhir and thereby plunged us into debt before we had even set up our laboratories. I am doing my best to avoid all contact with this visitor. One consequence of this is that I am keeping to my sanctum for a few days so, on the whole, I am only hearing news through the servants. So I was pleased this afternoon when Jimena came to my door. It seems that Constantine is now well enough to leave her direct supervision and return to his own room, and she was visiting him there to make sure he has done nothing to aggravate the wound. I am not sure, but I think she was a little unhappy at the rate of healing, saying something about him over-exerting himself, but she was very vague.

Urbanus Verbus has left, after spending over a week here. He has been replaced as our 'minder', if that is what is going on, by Industria Quaesitoris filia Augusti Accurati Quaesitoris. Who would have thought that I could actually be glad to have Maga Industria visit? She is certainly an improvement on Urbanus Verbus.

August: The seventh watcher

Industria stayed a few days, as all the others had done, and she may have taken up Iuris Perita's time again but she was no bother to me. When she went, the guest rooms were taken over by Gwénolé le Guen Merinitae filia Claude. I remembered the annoying behaviour of this maga just two years ago, but she did pay a fine in vis and has not bothered us since so I shall try not to hold it against her.

Two weeks have passed since Industria left us, and Gwénolé is still here. I have seen her from time to time during the day about the glade. It may be that there is no-one else in the tribunal who can be persuaded or forced to come and keep an eye on us, but if she stays any longer, her season's work will be at great risk. Perhaps her work this season requires her to be in our forest, as we know she finds the local fae interesting. If I felt convinced that this was the reason for her prolonged stay, I would bring the matter up with Iuris Perita, since we cannot risk having the local fae annoyed by a visitor. As it is, I cannot ignore the stories circulating amongst the grogs that it is her enthusiasm for spending time alone with Constantine that is keeping her here. Of course, this is no business of mine, since he has already lost the season's service through injury, but it is annoying for, having enjoyed her exquisite beauty (however illusory it is), I can be fairly sure I do not stand a chance with him. One comfort is that as long as he is with her, he is not upsetting the grogs, though, from what I hear, Gwénolé is doing some of that herself.

End of Summer

Joach has worked very hard and has created the enchanted ploughshare with time to spare. The device is just what we needed, something that will make the work lighter but not lead to any accusations of 'ploughing by witchcraft'. The operator must start it, and stop it and steer it. It has an engraving on the side of a gargoyle face but, when in use, this is concealed within the earth so ought not to cause comment from any visiting mundanes. He says he needs to set off before the equinox if he is to reach Septem Montes in good time. He is going there to assist in the crafting of his longevity potion and may not return before Spring. He is taking with him Abel and Nobby. We can only afford to send two as they are to stay away so long. Before leaving, Joach let us know that he had no objection to the admittance of Constantine as a member of the covenant.

Gwénolé has gone, after staying here for four weeks. The Redcap Aversus has come, presumably to take her place as our monitor or watcher or whatever it is. It is a pleasure to have him here, though, as he is good company, bringing us news of goings on throughout Gallia Transalpina and beyond. I have made good progress with my studies in Magic Theory, and so have been able to spare some time with Aversus. Council have agreed that Aversus be asked to take three of our precious pawns of Terram vis to trade with Mummolides for two pawns of Ignem vis. It is a great loss to us, since we cannot be sure of obtaining more Terram until next mid-Summer, but we do need that Ignem right away.

Whether in spite of or because of his time with Gwénolé, Constantine has gone out vis-hunting again. This time, he has taken two additional experienced, armed grogs, Caspar and Ellie. They should be well able to take care of him, if he is incapable of taking care of himself.

As the equinox approaches, Iuris Perita has produced the enchanted lock of Achilles' hair, so proving that her time had not been too badly taken up with our succession of visitors. Constantine returned just before the equinox with 1 pawn of Corpus vis in the form of a fungal growth.

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