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So here I am back in Castellar after a reasonably comfortable journey. The sea voyage was uneventful, I am glad to say. I kept away from the other passengers, as far as this was possible in such cramped conditions, and only had to use a very little subtle magic occasionally to encourage the wind. The trek through the mountains was hard going - I must have gone soft with all the writing and study during the last couple of years - but we made good speed along the river valleys and completed the journey in about twenty days. My former home is in a sorry state, alas. Either the rate of decay has accelerated, or my memory is at fault. I had been so looking forward to seeing the gloriously-carved cream stonework, the delicate arches, the cool fountains, the vividly coloured geometric mosaics. Yes, they are still there, but no-one has kept the water flowing where it was only to delight the senses, the tiles are often dirty or damaged, and some rooms are quite unusable, so badly have the ceilings rotted.
My disappointment with the surroundings was in contrast with the joy of seeking Laurentius again, and I believe he was as delighted to see me. We set to talking in his rooms, which unlike so much of the covenant, are warm, dry and comfortable. He seems to have been much pleased with the book I sent him, and showed me some passages from it that he thinks may help with the project he is currently working on - that it, the one he has so generously set aside for this season to help me. We will begin work on the magic that will prolong my years of vigour almost at once. I have brought with me the seven pawns of Vim vis that we need, but who knows what other ingredients may turn out to be necessary? Of course, I am familiar with the theory of what we are about to do, but assisting with the creation of such a potion will be a fascinating experience, even if it does take me back to my apprentice days as fetcher and carrier and stirrer.
Speculor has kindly written. His letter is very welcome; I am surprised to find how much I miss my new home in the cold, wet north. The first part of the letter is mostly about his ideas on the applications of the Art of Imaginem in developing a clearer insight into the judgments of the Quaesitors in certain complex cases that came before them rather a long time ago. I fear my understanding of Hermetic Law is inadequate for a full appreciation of what he means. The more immediately interesting part of his letter is to let me know about the Council meeting at the Autumn equinox. Council has decided to allocate a pawn of vis from our meagre stores to each Member of the Covenant, all because Joach says he needs a pawn of Terram or of Rego to complete a project. I am asked to write back to let Speculor know what sort of vis I would like! If only a pawn of vis had been offered to me before I set off, I might have chosen Corpus, of which we have plenty, to go towards my potion. It is too late for that, so I think I should like Ignem or Auram, to enchant a means of improving conditions in my laboratory in winter. However, I happen to know that our stocks of both are pathetic in the former case and poor in the latter. I expect I could manage with Muto or Creo, but of these Muto is all we have any supply over 6 pawns. So, I shall request a pawn of Muto vis. Had I been present, I should have spoken strongly against any distribution before we have reached our five pawns in each Art, since it just delays the time when we can reduce service to one season a year by at least a year!
Joach has made a little wooden pig! A real automaton, with the ability to act independently and follow simple orders! It is certainly a very clever creation, and, as Speculor so vividly describes it, a source of great amusement, not least because he has named it Little Saskia. It is a carved wooden gargoyle with claws on its feet, a pair of wings and the face of a pig, and is about the size of a crow, Speculor tells me. It extricated itself from the large wooden box that Joach had put it into, and can trot about on its little legs but flaps its wings to no effect. It was prompt to follow instructions from Joach, and seems to be able to catch mice, but don't we have cats for that? Our sodales remembered the automata at Dextrovorsum, of course. Joach was insistent that although Little Saskia had a will of its own, it was entirely obedient to him. That's all very well, if true, but what about when Joach is not there?
Was Joach's use for the vis important enough to raid our stores for? I am unconvinced, particularly after the dreadful behaviour of the automata in Britannia recently. I gather he wants it to make some improvement to his little pig so that it can fly, and then he plans to give it away to some magi, presumably Verditii, in order to please his parens, and to 'impress' these other magi, for no obvious reason other than to earn their favour. It must be something to do with why he stayed so long in Septem Montes, and is probably a task laid on him by his parens in return for the longevity potion, for I believe Joach took no gift or vis with him when he went to request the potion. If Joach gives it away, it is possible that I shall never see it, which is rather a pity if it is so entertaining. If it does turn out to be dangerous, I shall be glad it is not at Saxum Caribetum. One could take Speculor's words to indicate that Joach thought that his creation of the automaton would help our covenant, but I think this is an incorrect reading for it makes no sense at all to me.
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