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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Autumn 1222: A small-scale war in our fields

Mid-September: Council meeting at the Autumn equinox

The first matter before Council was Constantine, since our Charter required us to decide now whether to admit him as a member. We already had Joach's vote in favour of Constantine, and I was ready to vote for him. Speculor was worried on account of Constantine's obvious piety. I have to say that, given Speculor's enthusiastic friendship for Fr.Albertus, this objection astonished me. I would have pressed the point had Speculor cast his vote against but he did not so I stayed silent. Iuris Perita hesitated for a long time and then told us that she was concerned about the effect he was having on the grogs, distracting the women and angering the men. I have to agree that this is unfortunate but, in my view, a Magus should, in general, be free to do as he pleases, provided that is within the Code, and the coven-folk are there to see to the well-being of the magi. Also, I feel we can benefit greatly from the knowledge and abilities that Constantine can contribute to our covenant. To remind the others of this, I mentioned the proposed frost-protection device and suggested we admit him provided he agrees to make the creation of this his work for the coming season. In the end, Constantine was sent for and Iuris Perita welcomed him as a member of Saxum Caribetum, but with the added warning about not upsetting the grogs. I don't see how we can enforce this, but if it becomes a significant problem, perhaps Iuris Perita can find something in her law books that we can use.

Council agreed that I should spend this season in the distillation of vis as service, which I am very happy to do. I can go back to the Magic Theory book next season. Speculor has borrowed the Summa on Intellego, saying something, with a note of regret, about knowing everything in the Imaginem book by now. Iuris Perita, will distil vis as service.

We spent much of the day in the regio, walking the paths that were made accessible with use of the metal keys, but we put off the plan to explore any further along the paths like the one Joach had used before he found himself lost in Normandy.

19 September: Ploughing

I had hardly got my thoughts in order to commence the interesting business of distilling vis from the magical aura here when I was disturbed. The coven-folk had started work to plough the east field using the splendid ploughshare that Joach enchanted last season but had run complaining to Achilles that there was something wrong with it, and word had come from him to us. Of course, I thought it highly unlikely that there was anything wrong with the ploughshare, and would have left Joach to convince them of this but he was already well on his way to Septem Montes. To get around this as quickly as possible, I took the plough myself and tried it out in the east field. I was very surprised to find that although it always started off in a straight line, it consistently veered to left or right after a variable distance. I began to think that Joach had indeed introduced a flaw into his device. Not wanting to investigate his lapse in front of the grogs, I took the device back to my laboratory for a cursory examination. Speculor set about examining the ground.

I used Intellego Terram on the device but could not find any fault with it so I took it to the west field and attempted to use it. It worked perfectly there so I tried it on the far side of the east field, where again it deviated from the rectilinear. This indicated a problem with the field itself. I was satisfied that my sodalis had not erred and was ready to leave the matter there but Speculor was keen to solve the puzzle. I ordered the peasants to go and start work on the west field, where I knew the plough worked as it ought, then I tried turning the earth by magic, as we had done previously, by which means it was easy to maintain straight lines.

Some of my sodales believe that magical ploughing is best done by application of Muto Terram but I am sure that Rego Terram is the correct method. After all, one is not altering the properties of the earth, just moving it. I must give a lecture on this topic soon to correct this misunderstanding. Indeed, we probably all have something we can teach each other so it would be a very good idea to hold regular meetings in which we take it in turn to lecture. I must remember to propose it.

When I had demonstrated the correct way to turn the earth without the plough, and proved that the field could be worked in straight lines, I went back to see what Speculor had discovered. He suggested that it might be a fairy influence that was at work, disturbed by the iron of our fine new ploughshare. He had failed to locate any earth fairy effects but, by use of Intellego Herbam, he had discovered some tiny fairies living in the soil which looked like tiny plant roots clothed in little peasant smocks. It seems they had lived in the forest and, when we cleared it for cultivation, had decided to stay. They might be very small, but my experience of fairies has not been encouraging so I sent at once for Zane, who seems to be able to deal with these creatures better than most. I decided also that it was essential to inform Iuris Perita, in case there was any hint that the fae might be molesting us and retaliation be called for.

Negotiating

The fairies were so small that I had to get much closer to them than I liked in order to hear anything of Zane's conversation with them. First we had him tell them that we must plough the field. They threw little clods of earth at Zane for this. They complained that they did not like the iron plough because it poisoned the ground. They refused to plough for us, saying it was 'not their job' which was a disappointment since they seemed to be making an effort to look like peasants, in their little smocks. I hoped we could agree to just leave a small island of earth untouched by the iron. They claimed that the bit of field that they were in was theirs, and that they had many friends and relations elsewhere in the field, so that plan failed. We withdrew to consult.

Zane was sent off to the west field to see if he could see any fairies there. Since we agreed that the fairies in the east field appeared to be forest fae that were starting to adapt to life in a cultivated field, and it seemed safe to assume that a real field fairy would be used to iron implements, I thought it would make sense to accelerate their acclimatisation to iron. Iuris Perita suggested we might get some born-and-bred field fairies to re-educate these transforming fae. We debated doing all the ploughing by magic again this season in the hope that the fairies would have completed their transition by spring. We did not come to any clear decision so Speculor and I got on with magically turning the soil for a while.

About an hour after the peasants started work on the west field, they came back to the east field, with Zane. Things had started normally there, using the plough, but after a while the same problem had arisen. Zane said he had seen other forest fae in the west field but that they were more scattered there than in the east field.

20 September: War breaks out

This morning it was discovered that the carefully turned furrows we had made in the east field had been disturbed overnight and the earth had been heaped up in small mounds across the field. Zane was sent for again. Some genuine field fairies had moved into the field and were in conflict with our former forest fae. Speculor proposed sprinkling the fields with iron filings to get rid of all the fae. I was more in favour of moving the real field fae to one field and letting the former forest fairies have the other field.

We decided to get on with magically ploughing the west field while the fairies sorted themselves out, since time was getting on. We had Zane keep watch while we worked. He would keep wandering off so we tethered him to a stake like a beast, which did cause him to pay attention periodically. He told us that not all the birds who were swooping down on the freshly turned earth were there to pick up worms. Some were either carrying field fae or were themselves field fae - I did not understand whether both or either of these propositions was true. I must endeavour to obtain a good book on fairy lore and make time to study it, on the sound principle that knowledge of what one is annoyed by or frightened by is always useful.

Speculor created an image of circling eagles above the field, which kept off many of the other birds, but seemed to daunt the fae birds a great deal less than it did the normal ones so we had grogs acting as scarecrows while we worked.

Towards the end of the day, Giles the quarryman reported that he was having trouble using the stone cutting knife. It too was refusing to move straight. By the time the message got to us, and we had taken Zane along to the quarry, the knife was functioning perfectly well.

21 September: Warding

Today the mounds in the fields were higher and some were topped by what looked to me like small piles of irregular stones but which Zane described as miniature fortifications. He said it was our forest fairies who had had assistance from their friends, the stone fairies from the quarry. I suggested we might scare them all away by having the priest come and bless the fields, but Iuris Perita feared this might interfere with our casting of 'The Bountiful Feast' at the winter solstice so should not be risked. Speculor proposed that we give up any attempt to use the iron ploughshare here, that we should have Joach make us an enchanted wooden plough as soon as possible, and that we should use the iron ploughshare on what were now our fields at Ploeuc. This seemed like a very good plan to me, though it might make sense for another of us to make the new plough, perhaps out of some other strong material, so we could have it quickly. Since the peasants were anxious about the lost time, we started to magically re-ploughed the east field with bird-scarers in action as we worked.

Later in the day, while resting, I had Guena take a message to Constantine, thinking it only fair that he take a share of the anxiety and labour. She seemed flustered by my request but went. Very soon she came back with a message from him, apparently shouted through the firmly-closed door, that he was busy and knew nothing about fairies.

I think it was Speculor who had the idea of casting magical wards about the fields to keep out the fae. Iuris Perita, Speculor and I discussed this and decided that it would be easy enough to have ditches dug, set up the warding circles along the line of the ditches and have wooden planks lain across the ditches in appropriate places so no-one would need to step into the ditch and risk disturbing the line. Iuris Perita said that a ward would be within the Code. We decided to try a single strip first and had grogs with wooden spades excavate the ditch all round the strip. Since we were to use Rego Terram, against the fairies of the earth, I felt sure I would have no difficulty in creating this first ward. I am sure it would have succeeded if Speculor's illusory eagles had been doing their job properly, for my concentration was broken by a stupid gull.

Speculor then had a go and got around the full length of the ditch without disturbance. As far as we could tell, his ward was effective so we considered how we might protect the full extent of both fields the same way. While we considered the options, we had grogs dig the necessary ditches. We considered using 'Rise of the Feathery Body' to allow the caster to float then attaching a rope to guide the caster around the ditches. Speculor proposed casting a spell on his own hand to make it has hard as that of a peasant so he could scribe the circles without damaging himself. I was sufficiently irritated by the failure of his eagles to protect me from the gulls that I decided that he could have the indignity of being dragged around the fields while floating in the air if he wanted it. I watched him fail at the first ward and the second, but succeed in protecting an area of about one quarter of the whole east field. This was clearly going to take a while so I left him to it and returned to my laboratory.

22 September: Our Fortune is made

I gather that by the end of yesterday, Speculor had completed all the wards in the east field, and that the grogs were lectured at length about the importance of not stepping in the ditches. The forest fairies who are now living in the fields are pleased with what we have done as their rivals are being kept out satisfactorily.

I put in some hours magically ploughing in the east field, where I was pleased to find that the mounds had all been flattened and the stones scattered. Speculor set up wards around the west field. Iuris Perita spoke to the former forest fae through Zane and confirmed that they had been afraid that the incomers were going to drive them away and that they had nowhere else to go, that this was their home even though the trees had been cleared from it.

It seems that some of our peasants want to bury an offering of food in the field for the fairies. Apparently this is the local custom, which seems harmless enough to me. To be on the safe side, we had Zane ask the fairies how they felt about the idea. They seemed to squabble for a while, some welcoming a gift of cakes and ale while others wanted acorns. It seemed prudent to us to favour the progressive faction so cakes and ale were duly buried. What strange things one has to do to stay on the right side of the fae!

We had better devote some resources as soon as we can to the creation of magical devices or of spells to protect these fields more reliably. I fear the warding circles will not last long since we cannot stop animals from entering the ditches.

Once we had cemented our good relationship with the remaining fae, we learnt that the quarry fairies were pleased with us for having helped their friends. They did not appear to wish for any offering but they were keen to talk to us, through Zane, of shiny stuff in the rocks. This immediately got my attention! I showed them my rings and brooch but they did not seems to know of any stones like these within the local rocks. My disappointment was very brief because they recognised silver and said they could take Iuris Perita and I to the place in the woods beneath which we would find silver ore. They were, naturally, accustomed to travel directly through the rock, but they estimated that the place they spoke of was a short distance towards the south west from our home at the tower. Before long, we had reached the place and marked it. I am sure this will be our way to better laboratories, a much larger library and more comfortable living!

Late September: development of Caribet

Giles the quarryman has been off to Quintin or somewhere like that to send messages to someone he knows who is knowledgeable about mining. Achilles has heard of our discovery and, with terms like 'mineral rights', he has insisted on a meeting with our Princeps to talk about it. I fail to see what it has to do with him and she has not said anything about their discussion so I assume he was just curious.

Jehan complained that too many of the grogs were being set to work on clearing the roads by 'a trumped up lordling', by which we understood he meant Achilles. This was very odd since, as far as council knew, the work to divert the road around rather than through our clearing was completed during summer. Iuris Perita had a word with her cousin and it turns out that he has been having the road between Ploeuc and the new village of Caribet improved. He feels that the reputation of a haunted tower in a haunted forest should be sufficient to keep the curious from straying too close to our clearing, or did he say that it was keeping visitors away and that this was a bad thing? That makes no sense to me.

I felt it was important enough to be sure that this work on the roads was not likely to lead to more disturbance that I went out to see for myself. I was much relieved to find that the track way that had been cleared in summer, skirting well away from the clearing, is now a much better defined road and even more certain to guide travellers around us. The junctions of the improved road with the old one that still does lead to the clearing are very well disguised so I feel sure that no-one would even notice them if they did not know for sure that a path existed.

Jehan has been talking of other things that sound interesting. He is not easy to understand and I do not often have the patience to listen to him, so I am not sure what is behind his recent talk of glassblowers, illuminators, Achilles, building and silver. No doubt it will all be to our benefit before long. Jimena too had heard talk of building and, encouraged by the silver that we shall soon have to spend, has spoken to Achilles about the bathhouse she believes will benefit the health of us all. Speculor, having heard that it is based on the design of a Roman bathhouse, has spoken enthusiastically for the project too.

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