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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

The route North from the menhir

Who owns the soldiers?

I have been worried for a little while now that Sir Achilles has a tendency to treat our grogs, particularly the soldiers, as if they were his to command. It would be a great inconvenience if there were not enough available to act as shield grogs when magi wished to leave the covenant under armed escort. It would be a disaster if the covenant came under attack when inadequately guarded. I discussed my concerns with the Defensor. My first thought was that Sir Achilles should be encouraged to acquire soldiers of his own, but Constantine alerted me to a possible risk if there were soldiers here who owed their loyalty to the Lord of the Manor and not to the Covenant. We agreed that Constantine would speak to the Centurion about recruiting a few more experienced and skilled soldiers so we could afford to lend a few to Sir Achilles from time to time. It will be up to Jacques to ensure that he releases only as many grogs as can be spared.

29th August: Which Arts can we spare?

Iuris Perita's departure for Objurgator is imminent and we have yet to settle exactly which vis to send with her as payment to buy back the menhir chip. I find that the assessment I made at the beginning of the year is invalid since we used Vim vis to cast the Aegis of the Hearth this time so have less of it in store than I anticipated. We do have those 4 pawns of Rego vis in store, of course, so it is good. My recommendation now is that we send 3 Animal, 12 Corpus, 8 Imaginem, 7 Intellego and 6 Vim. Iuris Perita prefers 3 Animal, 16 Corpus, 6 Imaginem, 5 Intellego and 6 Vim.

Constantine appears to be supporting every suggestion of mine so quickly that I am becoming suspicious! I would like to think it is because he knows I am right, or because he has respect for my office or my House but I begin to think that he wants me on his side for some reason that has yet to become clear. I must be wary.

30 August

Iuris Perita is on the point of going and still we are arguing about the vis. I proposed a compromise: 3 Animal, 14 Corpus, 7 Imaginem, 6 Intellego and 6 Vim. This was accepted and I thought that was the end of it, but Speculor has plans to investigate further in the regio at the equinox and realised that we could not give away so much Intellego vis as it is our keys to the regio. It appears that we only have excess of Imaginem and Corpus. I am beginning to lose track of what we can sensibly do!

Iuris Perita needs soldiers to protect her while carrying such riches so, in addition to Duncan and Pernelle, she will take Garth, Caspar, Yves, Zacharias, Elli and Cado. I fear this leaves our defences here very weak. Jacques must see this and make haste to recruit!

Autumn's work

I am delighted that my sodales have accepted my offer that, as service to the Covenant this season, I write a primer on the Art of Auram in the form of a Liber Quaestionem. I shall enjoy doing this, even if it does mean I shall have done little other than scribble this year. Perhaps we should keep more geese! I would enchant a quill for enhanced durability if I had a season to spare. Indeed, there is so much I would do had I time - but I shall have time once I have my Potion and all my efforts now must be directed towards obtaining the best I can afford, whether it be making preparation in my own time by the making of a suitable gift for my parens and distilling the essential vis, or by working hard to further our Covenant so that we may reduce the required service to one season per year very soon, so that I have time to get to Castellar.

I hear that the harvest has been quite good, showing the benefit of the expensive fertility ritual, and we even have a few grapes.

9th September, the Autumn equinox

I rose around dawn and went to the menhir, arriving almost an hour after the regio had expanded. With my maid, Guena, so close to her time, I have had to do a number of things for myself recently and it is most vexing. I took with me Julius and Ignatius, my warm cloak, some food and two each of the four metal symbols. I found Speculor there, with Milon and Huon; he had been watching by the menhir from the small hours, as usual. Constantine arrived, alone, while Speculor was telling me what he had seen and felt as the sun came up and the regio grew. (This phenomenon was no different to last year).

Placing the first set of keys

Firstly, we had to put all the keys in position, to open up the other-wise hidden paths around the regio. First we went north, walked about a mile, and entered the dark tunnel that leads to the rune of Saturn and Terra. This is carved into the wall there, but no-one had thought to bring a torch so we could not see it. Constantine was reluctant to use magic in the strong aura but did produce a candle flame in his palm, enough for us to see the carving and place one of the lead shapes in it. We then followed the tunnel to where it forks. I waved the second lead symbol here, since last time this revealed a keyhole, but nothing happened as we had not placed the other keys in position yet.

Next we went east, to the rune of Mars and Ignis. As before, a beam of bright sunlight fell on the carving on the ancient altar stone. I carefully placed the iron symbol in the depression. Constantine looked disapproving, I thought.

From here, the route was up a tree and over some stones to the open flat area on top of the cliff where the fascinating air vortex swirls out beyond the cliff edge. I could not see this as yet, but hoped it would become visible once all the keys were positioned. The sky was overcast, as always. I was lowered down on a rope by my shield grogs so I could position the copper symbol of Venus and Aura in its carving on the cliff face.

Then we returned to the glade of Mars and located the stony path that took us to the moonlit pool of Luna and Aqua. Fallen leaves of Autumn largely clogged the little stream. I was able to put the silver symbol in place without getting significantly wet.

Now the paths within the regio were much more obvious, but we could not get back to the glade without removing a key.

Investigation at the cliff of Air

We went now to the foot of the cliff. I was glad to find that the fragments of pillars that I had found and examined on my last visit were undisturbed. I studied the surfaces of the pillars carefully for some time. Then I began examining the fallen lumps of rock and did not notice what the others where doing. By the time I had sorted out some of the largest pieces and had used Intellego magics to find out just where they had fallen from, the other magi had gone. Ignatius told me that Magus Constantine had been keen to get to the dark tunnels again and he thought that they had gone there, perhaps half an hour ago or longer.

I spent a little while meditating on the clouds above the cliff top, looking for patterns where the cliff edge met the cloud, then decided to go and find the others.

Seeking Speculor & Constantine

By the time I and my grogs got to the part of the tunnel where the light from the glade of Air did not reach, there was no sign of anyone. I shouted and my voice echoed along the tunnels. Anyone in there must have heard it, but there was no response. I could not guess whether they had gone off into the catacomb beyond the second lead key (which was likely since I now noticed that they had taken this with them), or gone to one of the other glades.

I went back into the tunnels, to about where I thought the keyhole was. I could not see this as I had no light and had brought no spare lead key. However, Intellego Terram on the wall told me that four people had recently passed this way. Thinking about this now, as I write it, I suspect that Iuris Perita might interpret this as having used magic to spy on my sodales so I shall not speak of it, but at the time I was just glad to know that they had gone that way. I rather hoped that Speculor was examining the skeletons in the catacomb for Corpus vis and settled down to wait with this happy thought. I nibbled on a little fruit and cheese from the basket, which reminded me that the others probably had no provisions with them so would be bound to return soon.

They were being very slow about returning so I decided to go back to the tower to collect the third lead key, which should open the way through to the catacomb. I left Julius in the glade of Air, close to the narrow cleft that leads eventually to the tunnel where the lead rune is carved, in case the others returned while I was gone. Then, going quite swiftly, I took Ignatius and went to the glade of water, removed the key, walked the mile back to the menhir and went to the tower.

I was glad to find Jehan in the common room. I told him my fear that Speculor and Constantine might be lost in the regio. When collecting the third lead key, I was reminded that we had given away too many of the keys in our enthusiasm to pay Objurgator; if we needed more keys, we could not get them until spring! I did, thank Hermes, have this one. I went back to the menhir, walked the mile to the glade of Venus, replaced the silver key and then walked to where I had left Julius.

I was delighted to see Huon there talking with Julius, but alarmed to find he was alone. Huon is not very good at explaining things but from what he said, I gathered that Constantine and Speculor had, indeed, gone into the catacombs and wandered about there quite a lot, passing through a number of regio boundaries. (Waking backwards, in the dark, praying and singing seemed to have been the preferred methods, according to Huon.) It was in passing through these boundaries that the group had become separated. Huon also mentioned a large church on the far side of 'the caves of bones'.

The Inexorable Search

I felt that I was unlikely to do any good by dashing into the catacomb right away, so went back to the tower to consult with Joach. He was immersed in some project in his laboratory and not happy to be disturbed though I believe he did derive some satisfaction from repeating "I told you so" in various ways once I explained what had happened to our sodales.

We have a collection of long-lived arcane connections to our grogs for use in situations like this and agreed that we should use that for Milon to cast 'The Inexorable Search' from the text and hope he was with the magi, since we were forbidden to search in this way for them personally. Because Joach had found himself in distant Normandy when he went along a path from the regio, we knew they could be a considerable distance away and, because they had been though a catacomb and come to a large church, I feared they were as far away as Rome. However, in optimistic mood, we started with the local map that we have used for this spell before. Joach cast it, but after considerable concentration over the map, he declared that Milon was not in this area. I sketched out on parchment a map covering a little more than the region commonly named Brittany, marking the locations of the covenants, and used this to cast the spell. I found that Milon was somewhere between Mummolides and Petrusca. Joach thought for a while and announced that the biggest churches he knew of down that way were Tour, Nantes and Angers.

We estimated that it could take the magi somewhat over a week to walk back from these places. We agreed to try the same spell in a couple of days' time, to check whether Milon was closer to home, and not to worry unless the wanderers had not got back in two weeks.

I went back to collect the metal symbols from the regio before dusk. I was a bit worried that, should the missing magi be still somewhere inside the regio, they might be trapped there by my removing the keys. Until someone does stay inside beyond the end of the day of the equinox, when the regio shrinks, we will not know the consequences of being inside.

11th September: Birth day

I was busily writing in the scriptorium when Julius came up with a message for me. He was, of course, highly apologetic about disturbing me. It seemed that Guena had been delivered of her baby, and la Doctura Jimena was concerned about some aspect of the birth and thought I ought to know about it. Given the circumstances under which this child had been conceived, I agreed that this was probably worth disturbing me for. On my way down the tower, I stopped at my room to pick up my cloak. Ignatius (father of Guena's child) was sitting on the stone steps by the door, looking morose; I thought it safest to say nothing until I had seen Jimena.

I found Jimena in her cottage, with six new mothers. She had a couple of the other women helping her. Amongst the mothers, I recognised my Guena (looking tired but not upset), Nolwen the cook and Galliene (who had been carrying Sir Achilles child). Jimena met me in the doorway and steered me outside for a quiet word, so I did not get a chance to peer at any of the babies, to look for signs of fairy features in them. Apparently all six babies were, as far as she could tell, perfectly normal to look at and in their behaviour. Only one birth had been at all problematic. The oddity that had caused Jimena to speak to me was that all had arrived on the same day and all were female.

Clearly, they cannot be entirely normal children. We must watch these six girls as they grow up, in case any show signs of unusual interests or abilities, or develop unusual features as they get older. If they have shown unusual and worrying signs before the next mid-Winter, we will have to consider taking measures to reduce the risk of producing more. What if we have half a dozen odd girls born every year? What if it is all boys next year? What might the third year bring? Just how many fae-touched grogs can one covenant have and still stay viable in the mundane world? Imagine a hoard of the likes of Zane and Amelle! We badly need to acquire some of the knowledge of House Merinita.

Milon heading homeward

I mentioned the birth of the six girls to Joach later in the day when we met, as planned, to try casting the spell to see where Milon now was. Joach cast it. We were glad to see that Milon had moved at least one day's march northward and took this as a sign that the lost trio were heading for home.

18th September: Pilgrims return

We were much relieved today when Speculor, Constantine and Milon arrived back at Caribet. They had walked from Nantes! All were tired so we gathered only briefly to consider the implications of having a route from our menhir to the basement of Nantes cathedral. We decided to keep this a secret to be known only to the magi of Saxum Caribetum. Those grogs who know of it are to be told to keep the secret. We feel a need to make the acquaintance of an expert on the magic of Architecture but cannot go advertising for one, since that would draw too much attention where we do not want it. Nor can we pay anyone to help us reinstate the damaged pillars in the regio. As we slowly build up our store of vis again, we much make use of any contacts with other covenants to try and pick up news of someone with expertise in this field.

19th September: The Divine aspect of our regio

Constantine's version

I had a few words with Magus Constantine today. He is keen to get on with his covenant service, to write an Ignem Tractatus based on 'Arrow of Flame' and could not spare much time, having lost some days of this season already. He told me that once he and Speculor had passed through the door in the tunnel that was opened by use of the second lead key, they had walked about a mile in the dark along a tunnel and come not to the catacomb he expected but a small square chamber with a bricked-up doorway opposite the one they had entered by, which had herm pillars either side of it. It had taken them several attempts to get into the Dominion aura and the catacomb, since paying attention and trying to get there just took one to the small chamber.

Eventually they had found themselves in a very holy place, the catacomb containing the bones of Christians from Roman times, including the relics of a number of holy martyrs that we had visited in spring of last year. The place was very blessed and peaceful. By following the tunnel that went upwards from the far end of the catacomb, one could pass into a lower regio level. Here the Dominion aura was of level five and the catacomb was a little dusty. Turning back, the way back into the higher level was now blocked by a brick wall. It was easy to go on, into a lower level of the regio, where the bones were less tidily stacked, there was more dust and the atmosphere was less serene. Going on, they came to a mundane level were the very dusty catacomb had spider webs thick with dust. Here, the tunnel on the far side ended at a wooden door, beyond which was a store room which was in the basement of a large church, cathedral or abbey.

Having heard male voices singing the Office of Terce, the magi had decided to try and get back through the regio levels to the covenant. This had proved much harder than going down the levels and the group had become separated more than once. Constantine had got through to the catacomb in the level seven Dominion aura, by the power of prayer, he said, but had done so alone. He could not leave the others trapped in the lower levels, so had left a note on a piece of slate by the way into the catacomb from the covenant side, which explained the regio levels for anyone who came looking and saying he intended trying to get home by the mundane route. Then he had returned for Speculor, going all the way back to the church basement, where he found Milon and Speculor. No-one knew where Huon was, and it was feared he may be wandering around the regio levels in the dark, though Constantine he had not found him on his way through so they had hopes that he had emerged one way or the other.

They had managed to leave the cathedral without being challenged, found themselves in the city of Nantes, and had walked home along the pilgrim routes. Constantine talked about a number of shrines he had visited on the way, but I did not discern anything in his report of Hermetic interest. The only practical lesson in this was that, by taking the role of pilgrims to the Hermitage, they had been able to acquire sustenance and accommodation of a poor sort without expense, which was fortunate as they had taken no money.

Speculor's version

Although I had had the story from Constantine, I also wished for Speculor's report of the adventure, which was bound to differ in some points. From Speculor I heard that the small chamber that they had originally found themselves in had a magical aura like that of the covenant. The darkness was profound; despite the magic aura, Constantine had had to work hard to produce even a candle flame of light. Intellego Terram showed that the brickwork blocking the other doorway in the chamber had been put in place by ordinary workmen some thousand years ago, confirming the Roman origins of the place. On the far side of the wall, which was just one block in thickness, there was an upward-sloping tunnel. Once through into the regio levels with a Dominion aura, a wall very like this blocked off the access tunnel and it was necessary to 'walk through' the wall to ascend the levels.

In trying to return through the regio levels, Speculor and Milon had found themselves in the dark, because Constantine had passed through a boundary and they had not. Then Speculor had lost his shield grog for a while and found him huddled and scared. It seems that Milon has claustrophobia and could not stand being alone in the dark in the cave. This had caused Speculor to guide his grog back into the mundane world, to get out into the city, and they had met Constantine by the door into the south transept of the cathedral.

As for the journey home, Speculor mentioned Constantine's insistence that he keep away from people as much as possible, and how hard this was to do when Constantine so often kept them waiting in busy places, teeming with pilgrims.

Our regio is going to provide interest and risk for many years to come, I suspect.

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