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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Summer 1223

I am pleased with the book I have just completed on Rego, and hope some of my sodales will find it helpful. They will have to wait a few months more, as it is to be illuminated in the coming season, the first of our own books to be improved in this way. For some reason, it has been suggested that I do not keep a regular check on Fulk's progress. Perhaps, like Alban the book-binder, he is sensitive and secretive about his work. If the quality of what he produces is as high as Alban's, I will be more than satisfied.

I hear that the silversmith is busy at work on a project for Sir Achilles. Perhaps we are letting him have too much silver, if he can afford to have it made up into a pair of goblets. A man of his station needs a few fine things, though.

Guenna is growing very round. She is still unmarried, though the child is due in about three months, she tells me. So far, she has continued to carry out all her duties. I do not know how I shall manage when she cannot as I have come to depend upon her. A number of other women are expecting to give birth at the same time, following the fairy-inspired antics at the mid-Winter feast. One of these is Galienne; Guenna reports that Galienne is still convinced that Sir Achilles will marry her soon!

Thursday 15th June: Mid-Summer

Council meeting

As I hoped, the meeting was a swift one. Everyone will do as announced at the Spring meeting. It only remained to decide what Joachus' service should be. Since we are in need of an enchanted ploughshare of wood, to replace the iron one which had upset the field fae so much, there is no doubt what he should do.

There was no disagreement with the proposal that we modify the Charter. We have, alas, been in breach of it for a while so amendment was urgent. We have relaxed the requirement on Covenant Members to attend the casting of the Aegis of the Hearth. (One tempting proposal was that Senior Members could be absent and be given a token automatically on their return, with permission for absence being given retrospectively, but it seemed unnecessarily complicated.) We have made it clear that it is only resources obtained when out on Covenant business that must be surrendered. The Appendix has been modified to require of us two seasons of service each year until the vis debt is repaid and Vis stores contain at least five pawns of every Art of Vis. We have agreed that Council is to set the priority on tasks for specialists, to ensure that the illuminator, book-binder, glassblower and any others use their skills primarily to advance the Covenant and share their remaining time fairly between us.

We did not reach a happy conclusion of the matter of holding money individually. Constantine likes the monastic ideal of everything held in common, which is all very well, but would require another Charter revision as several of its stipulations assume we do have our own funds. We must debate this for a while and reach a consensus before it becomes a material issue.

Vis collection

Everything went as anticipated in the regio today. Jehan chatted with the stone face on the menhir once it had had its beard trimmed, and we trimmed the beards of the trees while grogs spent the whole day in the forest collecting droppings from talking animals. I am so relieved that the fairies did not play tricks on us this year.

Monday 19th June: A noble visitor

I have been busy in the scriptorium today, copying out a page from the Magic Theory summa. Fairly early on, I was disturbed by the scribes talking at a window and went to see what the fuss was about. There seemed to be an unusually large amount of activity over in the village so I sent a servant to find out what was going on, in the hope that this would satisfy the scribes and allow us all to get back to work. Some while later, the boy came back to report that a small party of visitors had arrived in Caribet. The message was a little confused, as usual. Someone really should teach servants to carry a message! First it was that Sir Achilles had arrived with the visitors then that they had arrived to visit him. They say that the man of noble bearing is a representative of some other nobleman and is come to see whether Sir Achilles is doing a good job here. Perhaps the Duke is sending someone on a visit of inspection. If so, I trust the inspection will not head towards the glade. Surely Achilles has the sense to make sure it does not!

Sunday 25th June: Wolf, bear or ermine?

Guenna came up to find me in the scriptorium today to tell me that there was a trader over in the village selling furs. She thought, quite rightly, that it would be good to have some fur trim for my heavy woollen cloak. I left her descending the stairs with care, and hastened to the village, pausing only to call Julius to accompany me and to request a handful of silver coins from Jehan.

I was guided to a tall, slim man, dressed in hunting garb. He had a most unusual grey streak running through his hair. He showed me fine pelts of wolf and bear. Somehow, I did not much like the wolf skin though it was of excellent quality. Cutting it up would have been a pity, yet whole it looked so savage. I think the bear skin will make a fine addition to my room and be very cosy in the cold, wet winter so as well as selecting a beaver skin to trim my cloak, I took the bear. Julius seemed to think the price asked was not unreasonable so the transaction was easily accomplished. I had Julius take both skins directly to our tanner. When he returned, he reported that the tanner is also working on some ermine skins for Sir Achilles. Quite why he wants to wear anything so grand and extravagant out here in the forest, I cannot imagine.

Monday 3rd July: Sir Achilles goes to hunt a bride

The fine long days mean I have been able to get a lot of writing done up in the scriptorium. The only news today concerns our Lord of the Manor. It seems he has gone riding off to visit a nobleman somewhere near St.Brieuc with the intention of becoming betrothed to the daughter of the house. He has taken a few of our soldiers with him as escort. I appreciate that he wants to put on a good show, and that one always needs protection from dangers along the road, but he really ought to hire his own guards, not borrow ours, who might be needed here. I should mention this to Iuris Perita, if I think of it when I see her, or to Constantine as Defensor.

I should also ask her what she knows of her cousin's marriage plans. Of course, it is only right that a Lord of the Manor should have a wife and raise children, but she must be someone who will recognise the special circumstances here and not spread tales of us back to her madre and padre. I have little doubt she will be easy enough to control and will work to our ends and do as she is told.

Tuesday 11 July: Galienne stirs up trouble

I have heard a worrying report that Iuris Perita has had to have words with Speculor about the behaviour of one of his grogs. It seems that Galienne went so far as to write a letter to Achilles' intended father in law, claiming that she was herself betrothed to him, and signing herself as 'of Petrusca'. Her persistence with the impossible idea of marrying into nobility is foolish; her interference in Sir Achilles' business is insolent; but drawing the attention of a mundane lord to a hermetic covenant is criminal. I trust Speculor will teach her a stern lesson.

Monday 7th August: Preparations

I understand that Speculor has had to be dissuaded from putting on a great show of Imaginem magic in celebration of Sir Achilles' marriage. Not only that, but he is to keep Galienne confined while the visitors are here. Perhaps he needs to spend a season re-learning the Code. No doubt Iuris Perita has the matter under control. I gather that she is to attend the wedding herself, both as cousin of the bridegroom and to make sure there are no breaches of the Code. I plan to be somewhere near the church when they come out, just to get a look at the bride and guests. They arrived during today but have not bothered us here in the glade. It is to be hoped that Achilles will keep them in the village all the time they are here.

Wednesday 9th August: Slain by a wolf

A commotion brought me out of my sanctum early this morning. One of the labourers, Jacques Peuchet, had been found dead this morning, not far from his cottage by one of the large fields. Sir Achilles had come directly to us for help, hoping, I believe, to keep the whole business hidden from the visitors in the village.

At the scene of the crime

Speculor went out with Achilles to see the body and returned some while later with worrying information. The poor man had had his throat torn out by a wild beast which magic had revealed to be a wolf with a streak of red fur over its head and along its back. On hearing this, Achilles had turned very pale and had rushed away, muttering something about a werewolf. Speculor had lingered to locate some hairs from the creature and had brought them back to the tower.

The investigation in the glade

The first thing Speculor did with the hairs he had gathered was to use Intellego to determine whether the creature that shed them was, as Sir Achilles seemed to fear, a werewolf. It was! Then he tried to use the hairs as an arcane connection to allow him to establish the current location of their owner. This proved too difficult in the tower, so he asked if everyone could assemble in the glade where he could try gain at closer range. We decided that it would not be in Sir Achilles' or our best interests to involve his future in laws at this stage, and looked for other ways of learning more.

It was easy to learn from the grogs that several of the visitors had red hair, including Sir Foulque (he who had visited before), Sir Guibert (elder brother of Foulque and father of the bride), Guillame (ten year old son of Sir Guibert) and Helissente (Sir Achilles' intended bride). Speculor determined that the hairs came from a male, which ruled out only one suspect, but did draw a sigh of relief from several of us.

We magi launched into a long discussion on how to proceed. Constantine suggested casting Intellego Corpus magics on the visitors to discover which were truly human. The aura in the village is now that of the Dominion and it would be hard to cast the spell several times close to the visitors and remain undetected. I thought Iuris Perita might use one of her Quaesitorial spells to Pose the Silent Question "Are you a werewolf?". At some point, Sir Achilles had joined us. I did not notice when he came but he spoke up now telling us how he had presented a gift of silver candlesticks to Sir Guibert and that he had handled them without any difficulty, which indicated that the werewolf was not he.

I must remember to question the amount of silver he is taking from our mine!

Since the ability to handle silver seems like an easily-applied test, I was asked to use Muto Terram on some silver to form several goblets. They came out rather well, I thought, though I was getting a little tired by the time I came to make the fifth and it was not quite as elegant as the others. This did not matter, however, as there were four good ones for Sir Achilles to fill with wine and offer to his guests to join him in a toast, and he would use the last one himself.

The investigation at the manor

We gathered together, apart from Joach who has not set foot outside his laboratory for weeks, at about the hour when we expected Sir Achilles and the visitors to be dining. Speculor used the werewolf hairs to Summon the Distant Image. It proved hard work. I had hoped he would be in time to observe the use of my silver goblets, but it was too late by the time he could see into the room where the werewolf was. The ladies had retired and he observed the men relaxing after their meal. It was not certain, but seemed most likely that Sir Foulque was the werewolf.

We quickly went to the village and sent in a message that I needed to speak to Sir Achilles urgently. Not many minutes passed before he came out. He told us that only Helissente had made a fuss about drinking from a silver goblet, but that Sir Foulque's hand had shaken when he took one, and that he had drained it and put it down very quickly. We assured him that we were now in no doubt that Sir Foulque was a werewolf. We agreed to set guards around the manor house at once, which Sir Achilles could assure his guests was for their own safety, since a wolf had been seen in the forest nearby.

While Sir Achilles went back to his guests to tell them about the guards and his own intention to keep vigil that night in the chapel (on the excuse that it was preparation for the marriage), a messenger was sent to instruct Jacques about the guards. The magi went back to the tower to disturb Joach because he is familiar with the spell 'Soothe the Ferocious Bear' which was a key element in our plan. The rest of the plan required that a stout net be created, which Constantine did using Creo Herbam. Jimena found some of the herb wolfsbane in her garden and gave some to everyone who wished for it. We also had some twisted into the knots of the net. Then we made haste back to the manor. All this time, Speculor maintained his observations of the men inside the manor hall.

The wolf captured

We had not been waiting long when Speculor announced that Sir Foulque had come to one of the windows. We moved towards it in time to see the shape of a large wolf leap through the window. Joach immediately cast his spell which was very successful in making the wolf hesitate long enough for the grogs to throw the net over it and start to bind it with ropes. The wolf was not soothed for long, and struggled mightily, but the grogs managed to get it tied up. Sir Achilles slipped quietly back into the manor to wake Sir Guibert. All the magi but Constantine retreated far enough away that Sir Guibert would not notice us. Speculor and I started whispering about how much vis there might be in a dead werewolf.

I saw Sir Achilles come out of the manor with Sir Guibert and observed the two men talking in low voices between us and the bundled wolf. It had been securely muzzled, else it would certainly have howled and brought the rest of the guests out. There were gestures towards the church, then guards started to drag the animal in that direction while one went running towards the priest's home. The magi stayed out of sight until the wolf had been dragged into the church and the men had gone in behind it, with Fr.Edwin too. Then we moved close to one of the windows of the church to overhear what we could of what passed inside.

The werewolf exposed

At first I heard Edwin conducting what sounded most likely to be a ritual of exorcism. Then there were gasps and cries from inside the church. Once the noise died down enough to allow me to distinguish what was being said, it seemed that the ladies were being sent for from the manor, so we had to make sure we were well out of sight. They seemed an age in coming. While they waited, I could hear unrecognisable male voices, presumably Sir Guibert and Sir Foulque talking to each other and to Sir Achilles. It seems that Sir Foulque was quite ignorant of his alter ego.

During the extended wait for Lady Marguerite and Helissente, I was surprised to see Jimena arrive at the church in haste. There had been no noises to indicate that anyone had been injured by the wolf or by anything or anyone else. I wondered what sort of trouble they were anticipating from the ladies. As soon as the other ladies were inside, we clustered silently at the window again. One did not need to be close to hear the fuss that Helissente made when asked to clasp a silver crucifix. She did hold it as long as she was told to, in the end, and with no ill effects, it seemed. Foulque, on the other hand, was unable to hold it long and his skin was marked by it.

We saw the grogs leave the church. Again there was a great outcry from Helissente, this time over Achilles insistence that she should be forced to wear a silver bracelet at all times. Her main complaint, if I heard it correctly amongst all her protestations, was that silver was a nasty, cheap metal and she would wear only gold. The talking went on a while, though we could not hear details. Then Achilles came out alone and sought us out. He wanted yet more confirmation that Helissente was not a werewolf. I can understand why! He spoke to Iuris Perita, went back into the church briefly, and came back bringing some of the girl's hair and much information about the girl that was useful as connections to make the spell as powerful as could be. Iuris Perita cast the spell and stated that Helissente was not a werewolf. Achilles seems to accept this and left us.

Soon after this, Sir Achilles and Sir Guibert emerged from the church in earnest conversation which I could not catch any of. The ladies went back to the manor, Helissente still whining. She looks very young, but that is no excuse for such behaviour. However will she win the respect of her servants and the peasants? What a dreadful Lady of the Manor she will make if she carries on like that! I hope Achilles will use this incident to get out of the marriage contract.

As we walked back to the glade, Speculor and I discussed what we know of lycanthropy, which is, sadly, very little. It would be good to keep Foulque here to study him, but I am sure Iuris Perita would consider that a gross violation of the Code. We will seek a cure for him, if we can, but it will be a long term project.

Saturday 12th August: A wedding at Full Moon

The wedding of Sir Achilles and the dreadful Helissente took place today. Despite my misgivings about the match, I did go to watch them come out of church. At least she did not make a fuss during the ceremony. She seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention, which probably helped her temper. I wonder how long before Achilles is begging his cousin to use Mentem magic on her!

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