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The Redcap who called today brought me another letter from my sodalis Speculor. It was quite a bundle of several sheets with some fascinating details of his recent practical work using his favourite Art of Imaginem. If I were not quite so busy at this moment, I would give his theories my most careful consideration but for now, I must make haste, and confine my attention to the recent events at Saxum Caribetum. Our Sir Achilles has been honoured by a visit by not only his grace the Duke of Brittany but also his cousin, his grace the Duke of Normandy. At least, I assume this to have been an honour as far as Achilles was concerned, and I am sure it must be so in the world of mundane politics, but for the covenant, it was an enormous inconvenience and potential danger. I feel certain that Iuris Perita was in agonies lest one Duke or other come too close to our clearing. It must have been a very serious risk, for Speculor has set out for my benefit some of the most relevant precedents that he has come across in his recent studies of the Hermetic Law books.
Speculor seems very proud of his first attempt to make the tower invisible using a variation of a Perdo Imaginem spell well known to him, but modified to affect the whole tower until sunset: 'Invisibility of the Standing Tower'. It made the structure of the tower, and also everything and everyone inside it, invisible, which strikes me as an annoying inconvenience though Speculor reports it as highly amusing. His enjoyment of the incident appears to have been increased by finding he was the only member of council able to see through the illusion, so everyone became dependent on him to guide them outside until the spell wore off. The general idea of hiding the tower seems to me something we ought to be able to manage with less terror amongst the servants and inconvenience to the magi. I hope Speculor will devise and learn a more suitable formula; I would be prepared to vote in council that such a project could be counted as service.
The magi got almost as much warning of the visit as did Sir Achilles himself, for no sooner had the letter arrived from the Duke of Brittany, than our man was at the Tower for advice. The Duke has determined that all the stories of the Foret de Lorge were true, including those we put about to keep mundanes away. His grace required his former legal clerk to organise a hunt from Caribet which would capture or slay a magical creature impressive enough to give his royal cousin of Normandy a magnificent trophy - and Achilles expected the magi to produce this mythical beast! Council decided that it was in their best interests to make the hunt a success so as to keep Achilles in favour at court, but not so good that the Duke would be keen to return. Speculor tells me that he created splendidly realistic illusions of mythical creatures for Sir Achilles to choose from and was rather disappointed that the difficulties the others pointed out - like needing to control the illusion in a life-like manner charging through the forest, and providing an enduring trophy from it - meant that it really was not feasible to make use of his Imaginem beasts. Then someone pointed out that a real magical beast would contain vis, which we should be able to contrive to salvage before giving the remains to the dukes, and all thoughts of an illusory animal were forgotten. So, while Sir Achilles enlisted Sir Guillaume of Pleouc to organise the hunt, and Lady Helissente made plans for the refreshment and housing of the visitors, the magi sent the hunters of Caribet out into the forest.
Before I left, this would have been impossible, since the best of our hunters were so cruelly slaughtered by the despicable Eleusinus last winter. However, new hunters have been recruited quite recently. I can't imagine why it was thought sensible or suitable for a magus to be involved in this recruitment activity, but I'm told that Magus Joach walked all the way to the Autumn hiring fair at Dinan, along with a few grogs. They came back with a mute dog-handler, a young female transvestite, an outspoken outlaw, a lazy mercenary, an effeminate archer and another who is afraid of heights! Well, I can sympathise with the last. This array of talent did succeed in locating potential quarry for the hunt, though it was Gilles of Corey, the young man who has been visiting Caribet during the past few months to supplement our meat supply, who found the beast they chose for the Duke.
When the hunters had searched for several days, a surprising number of magical beasts had been located: an ogre, a relatively small wyrm, a panther or pard, and a beast of virtue. It was decided that the wyrm was the most likely to impress the dukes and, it was hoped, wyrms being generally solitary creatures, there would be no danger of a repeat visit for another hunt in the near future. Fresh droppings from the creature were provided for Speculor to cast 'Summoning the Distant Image' which showed that the wyrm was about ten feet in length, like a black scaly serpent with horns, short legs, and a spiny tail. It was seen to move mainly by slithering along the ground, and its breath was a poisonous, black vapour.
On the day of the hunt, the magi gathered just outside the tower before Speculor cast his spell. Then they gathered to listen as Speculor used 'Summoning the Distant Image' to observe the wyrm. A long time passed before he could report that grogs sent out by Sir Guillaume and Sir Achilles to locate the beast and drive it towards the hunters had got close to it. They were able to force it out of dense woodland onto an open, flatter area of heath which gave the mounted knights exactly the sport they desired. They attacked on both flanks. The wyrm breathed at one group, bringing down two of the horses and tumbling their riders. Other knights pierced the wyrm through with five lances, then the Duke of Brittany strode boldly forward, swung his great sword, and struck off its head. While the visitors were congratulating themselves on such a successful hunt, the spell faded.
The arrangement had been made that Sir Achilles would ensure that the whole wyrm was brought back and taken somewhere out of sight where Iuris Perita would be free to cast 'Gather the Essence of the Beast'. Sir Achilles insisted that the skull and skin must be presented intact to the Duke. I do wish he had been persuaded to let us extract a couple of dragon-teeth. I am delighted to read that the creature yielded two pawns of Animal vis and two pawns of Perdo vis - the first Perdo we have added to our store. Jimena was able to tend the burns of the injured knights, so I am confident that they will very quickly recover. The successful hunt was, Speculor relates, concluded by a feast of venison in the manor house, where the Duke's bard presented the tale as a stirring song. I think it highly unlikely that any of the magi were at the feast, so I assume this information came via someone else, or perhaps Speculor spied on them with the permanent arcane connection to Sir Achilles.
It seems to me that this tale is one I may be able to work on to entertain the fae when I am next called upon for a story.
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