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So far, it has only been necessary to shout at the cooks once for stirring my food with an iron spoon; I think they will not make that mistake again. I am delighted that despite the sickness to iron that I acquired while investigating Haeconius, and the consequent changes that I have had to make in my laboratory, I have managed to complete my study of the Perdo book I copied whilst at Castellar.Having submitted my report on Haeconius and had a very warm and welcoming response, I am anxious to pay a visit to maga Letitia but it is a long way to her covenant so I must put this off until next year, when I shall certainly go if I can get two consecutive free seasons.
Our vis stores have improved a little, because in addition to the three pawns distilled by Speculor, we have one pawn each of Terram and Rego, found by Iuris Perita. I have to say that, compared to Constantine, she did not do well, but two is better than nothing. We have, of course, used up two pawns of Corpus vis this season, as Constantine required them to enchant the healing bed, which now stands in Jimena's cottage. I wonder if she will ever be tempted to pass the night on it, if she has no patient? It looks very fine, though the only adornment is a small icon of Saint Luke. I hope I never have to lie in it myself, but it is useful to us all that it has been made. These enchanted devices seem extremely useful and a good use of vis, so I hope that before long I shall have the opportunity to make something myself.
I was very surprised to discover that maga Elise has written a tractatus on Rego. I had no idea that she was much of a scholar. It will be interesting to see how good her written Latin is, and whether she has anything interesting to say on my favourite Art. As I will not have leisure to read it for a while, I must hope that Fulk, who made a good job of the illumination of the Muto book I sent to him in Summer, will take this on in Winter and do as good work in this Rego book. This season, he is to work on Speculor's tractatus on Hermetic Law.
The first matter that I wished to put before my sodales was the state of our Council Chamber. I pointed out that whilst the arrangement for cooking at the great fireplace in our common room was a good idea when we first came here, we should now be looking for some improvement. The noise and smell of cooking are not conducive to serious debate when we meet as Council, and they must give a very poor impression to our visitors. It so happened that the lingering smells of roast meat and potage were strong enough this evening that I could smell them mixed in with the stink from the iron cooking pots, which may well be why my proposal was quickly taken up and agreed upon. We will have Giles cut some stone blocks and have a kitchen built close to the tower.
With the Tribunal not far off, we gave serious thought to possible book trades. First a list was drawn up of the books we would most like to acquire. It was no surprise that Speculor was only interested in obtaining a more advanced summa on Imaginem and any number of tractatus on the same Art. After a little, we managed to lower his expectations a little, to something that we might one day be able to afford. Constantine and I both spoke up for a summa on Ignem and more on Perdo, though I would be satisfied with something less advanced than he wishes to have. Herbam, Philosophiae and Certamen were also mentioned as desirable. There was general agreement that a primer on Vim would be useful, and most of us were interested in works on Finesse and Penetration. At this, Constantine spoke up and offered to compose a tractatus on Penetration this coming season. There was a strained sort of silence for a moment or two, then someone coughed - I do not know who for I was carefully not looking at my sodales. Then came acceptance of the suggestion.
This moved the talk on to what we could write, for use here and for trade. Speculor was keen to write on Intellego and Imaginem, but I was rather reluctant to agree to this. It is clear that the best authors in the covenant are Constantine and myself, so it seems sensible to me that we two spend our next few seasons of service writing on topics that interest us, and our sodales use their service to make copies. Thus we should have half a dozen high quality tractatus available with which to trade at the Tribunal. They will all be very nicely bound, of course, but there will probably not be time to get more than a few illuminated. We anticipate that one summa might cost us three or four tractatus. This reminded me to request that the Spanish book we were given be sent for re-binding this season; Alban can do that before he has our new compositions to work on.
Constantine then suggested that he and I could perform three seasons of service this year. I did not at first like the sound of this, but of course, it is an excellent scheme. It means not only one more good tractatus from us both, but gives me the opportunity for three consecutive free seasons next year to make my journey into the Rhine tribunal. I think I shall stay here until March, to write another tractatus, then, after visiting Cierella, set off eastwards with no pressing need to return until mid-December.
At the end of the discussion, it was agreed that, for the coming season, Constantine should write the book he suggested, I would write a tractatus on Creo, Speculor would write on Parma Magica and Elise would write on Corpus. Joach and Iuris Perita will have the time to themselves. I am not satisfied that adequate agreement was reached on the matter of Elise and access to the library and scriptorium. Whilst I am glad that she is going to perform some service that is of benefit to the covenant, I cannot bear the idea of her taking books all the way to St.Brieuc, and keeping them there for a whole season. Anything could happen to them on the journey. If she wants the same rights to use covenant resources as the rest of us, she should serve an extended period of probation and service as Constantine did.
The talk of writing gave me the opportunity to raise another of my concerns. I pointed out that we have several industrious and skilful scribes but that we should plan for the future and look amongst the children for any sign that they might have the intelligence and aptitude be trained to be scribes. I also reminded my sodales of the value of having the Harvest girls taught some Latin, in case any of them proved to be Gifted. No-one spoke against the idea, and so we considered who might teach. Pepin was proposed as the scribe most likely to get on with the children, and we feel sure that Edwin and that tutor at the manor can be called upon to assist. Pepin will be told to organise a school.
The last thing to be decided was who would make the trip to Fudarus to represent us at the meeting of Breton covenants. Constantine was selected to go. I am glad it was not me, because I do not think that all the arrangements have yet been completed to re-equip my shield grogs without use of iron. If I am here writing all season, this should give ample time for this.
Constantine was keen to be off, the sooner to return and begin his book. He set off today with Maud and Redwald. They plan to go to St.Brieuc and take a boat along the coast from there. I could see that Constantine was not very keen on the idea of setting out to sea again, especially as the voyage would take him along the same rocky coast where he had so much trouble recently, but that is the only way he can make the trip quickly enough. If he would bother to devote a little time to the fascinating study of Aquam and Auram, he would have access to the spells to ensure the boat went safely.
I had let it be known that, the next time the merchant Bertrand called, I was to be informed since there was something I wished to discuss with him. I was not so pleased when the message came that the pedlar Jourdain had arrived, because I do not trust him and suspect he spies on us, but since I had been waiting several weeks for Bertrand and the need was great, I decided to approach Jourdain. I was after some fine gloves, something thin and supple which I could wear when handling those books which have iron fittings, to protect both myself and the books if I should accidentally touch the metal. The pedlar seemed certain that he could find someone who made gloves. He insisted that it would be impossible to get a good fit unless the glover measured my hands and worked the gloves while I was present. This was not at all what I had hoped for, but I had to accept that this was how it must be. Jourdain demanded payment in advance, both for his time and trouble in finding a glover, which would probably mean going all the way to St.Brieuc, and yet more money to persuade the glover to come with him to Caribet. We settled on six silver pieces in advance, for three pairs of gloves. I had one of the scribes come and write out a receipt for Jourdain to sign but, of course, he cannot really write his name.
Constantine called a council meeting as soon as he returned this afternoon. I was fascinated to hear his account of the covenant of Fudarus. The coast there is very bleak, with large areas of rock, sand and mud exposed at low tide. There is a small fishing village close to a hillock on which stand two menhirs known as The Talkers and beyond them, a dolmen. The dolmen and menhirs sound promising as a site for a magical aura and a covenant, but there is some sort of crucifix, a Calvary Constantine called it, set up close to them, which will do nothing for the aura, and the area is also under the influence of the village church. Somehow, a magical regio survives close to this village, and within it is Fudarus. The magic is so strong that it holds the sea back on all sides like a great wall of water and it enables the unpromising terrain of the mundane level to yield meadows of grass and flowers where sheep graze. Constantine told us that there are trees there, but they are not planted directly into the earth, but each is in its own great vessel or bowl of stone, filled with soil.
An avenue of marble led to the grand council chamber where Constantine was greeted by Foedus Tytali, who acted as host throughout. Archmagus Bulistius, Primus of House Tytalus, and Archmagus Probus Malignis were elsewhere, which was quite possibly a blessing. I think it was a great pity they had not taken Urbanus Verbus with them, as he has caused us so much trouble, but he was there, and did not seem to be antagonistic this time. Hominis Calamitas was also present. The other guests were Gareth O Fflint and Mari Amwythig of Wirbelnia and Aversus and Marpesius, representing Mummolides.
Constantine made excellent use of the opportunity to talk to Gareth O Fflint about trading books and has made some excellent arrangements. Wirbelnia have heard about the excellent summae we have on Magic Theory and on Animal. We are aware that Petrusca would not look kindly on attempts by us to trade away copies of the Magic Theory book, but Priscus are in no position to object to anything we do with the Animal summa, so it is good news that Wirbelnia are willing to exchange a copy of the Animal summa for an equally good Mentem summa from their library. I might have been disappointed, since Mentem was not on our list of desired topics, but there was no doubt that Iuris Perita is very keen to obtain the offered summa, and I know we would be foolish to pass up the chance to acquire such a valuable book. Exchanges of tractatus were also agreed, and it will take all our time writing the books and making copies during the coming year, I think. We are to receive a good primer on Vim and a more advanced summa on Perdo in exchange for tractatus on Ignem, Rego, Vim and Creo.
Discussions with Marpesius did not go so well, not surprisingly. We have encountered him before. I think Elise really has to meet him - he looks so skeletal and talks about death all the time so that they should get on very well. I gather he offered Constantine a series of riddles to explain his feeling that it was time to leave Odela and return to the covenant of his parens. Something about "following the enigma" and "returning to the clutch", I gather.
Constantine brought news of two magi of House Tremere who are recently come to Normandy from Transylvania. It seems they are not settled yet and are unlikely to join the other Tremere at Gryps Argenteus because they come from another faction. This sort of intra-House politics is not helpful or constructive, I feel. I hope they will not bring their disputes in this direction.
The formal part of the meeting was conducted by Foedus, who gave a very stirring speech on strength in unity, making it very clear, without actually saying so, that Fudarus expect all the Breton magi to vote together, and vote as Fudarus wish them to. Hominis Calamitas said something about "promoting wider conflict" which I do not like the sound of at all. If it is a choice between Fudarus and Petrusca, with nothing else to tip the balance, I know which way I would wish my sigil to go.
The matter of Eleusinus was the main topic. Not only has he seriously inconvenienced us, but he has also caused difficulties for Wirbelnia by damaging a vis source of theirs and attempting to steal an apprentice. I recall that Iuris Perita did not see it quite that way, but if Wirbelnia's view means they will support Saxum Caribetum against Odela, I think we need not remind them that the situation was not quite as clear-cut as they make out. It has to be said that Wirbelnia had themselves raided a vis source registered to Odela, but they say that was a long time ago and they would not do it now. Aversus, being far easier to communicate with than Marpesius, presented the Mummolides point of view that whilst Odela had not done anything to offend them, he did not like them himself. His main interest seemed to be in building a strong unified network of magi in Brittany, and for this reason, he indicated, Mummolides would be likely to support any motion brought by Wirbelnia and Saxum Caribetum against Eleusinus. Since Eleusinus is, alas, rather powerful, the conclusion was that we need to find something which can be easily proved to show that his actions have deprived other magi of resources that has limited their ability to practice magic, and press for a vis fine. Perhaps we can get the apprentice he tried to steal and the parens to testify against him. Constantine should be able to report on the trouble Eleusinus caused us, from first hand experience, but it is hard to prove. I suspect that a word or two from Iuris Perita, if she would agree to speak out, would be more effective but I presume she will claim Quaesitorial neutrality rather than tell anyone anything. If we have to give vis bribes, we do at least have a little surplus in some Arts, and Corpus is usually welcome.
Six healthy baby girls were born today. The first girls born at Harvest Moon are now four years old. They are not mixing much with the other children but seem, as far as I know, to be developing normally. What is particularly striking is that Rubea, though only a year old, is as tall as the three-year-olds and already walking and talking. I have seen Rubea talking to the field fae as if they are the best of friends. I would like to examine her more closely but Constantine is almost as protective as Helissente if I suggest casting a few spells on the child. Last time I watched her for a while, Rubea was playing under the shade of the oak tree that Quercus left for us at the edge of the East Field, where he had pitched his pavilion for the mid-winter feast. Amele was supervising her and I am certain they were playing with some of the faeries. The tree now has acorns forming on it. How excited Saskia would have been to see this!
I have heard that we should eat rather better this winter, since three more huntsmen have come to live in Caribet during the past few weeks. I do not know whether they have joined Sir Achilles' household but they are not under Jacques command so I cannot call upon them as part of the turb. They are named Briog, Derv and Tudal.
There is now no doubt at all that three of the acorns on the Faerie Oak are very special indeed. They are much larger and heavier than usual, and are turning a brilliant golden colour. We have tested them for vis but found none; however, gold has value too, so I am very pleased. It may be possible to have items of gold made for use in the laboratory, or to use gold leaf on our books. Thinking of this, I showed the silversmith the acorns, so he could start thinking about how to work the gold. We have arranged that the branches bearing these three be propped up with beams of wood, that nets be hung below the golden acorns to catch them if they fall, lest they roll away, that a fence be constructed around the tree to keep people from getting close, and that a soldier stands guard at all times to keep people, squirrels and any other hazard away. I have seen Jean, Milon and Yves on duty there most often. Speculor thought to test the aura beneath the tree and found it be a faerie aura of the second magnitude. This is a very exciting discovery. It gives us somewhere close to the village of Caribet where there is a favourable aura for magic, which will be very useful, I am sure. I wonder if I might be able, in time, to set up a laboratory under the tree to work on faerie magic? It will be interesting to see if it is higher still at times, for example at mid-Summer when the faerie aura round about here is at its strongest.
While tidying my clothes away, Guenna said something this morning about a magical spring, which sounded very promising, but when I questioned her, she said it was not anywhere she knew, just something she heard about in a story yesterday afternoon. Of course, I wanted to know the rest of the story but she said it would sound better if I heard it from the man who told it to her. It seems that one of the hunters who has joined the village recently likes to relax near the Faerie Oak on fine afternoons and tell tales, sometimes in Breton and sometimes in Francien, and a number of the tales he has told so far concern local legends and the doings of the fae. They tell me he collects quite an audience and is especially popular with the women. I am rather caught up in composition at present, but one day I shall wander along to hear him for myself. Perhaps, if I could spare the time, I might be able to learn some of his stories. That will probably have to wait until the end of next year, alas.
The alarm bell rang in the tower this morning. Speculor, Constantine and I were all busy in the scriptorium at the time. We looked at each other, put down our quills and rushed for the stairs. We met Speculor near the foot of the tower, on his way back from the village. He had gone that morning, as he usually did, to look at the acorns and found them missing. Yves was on guard duty and reported that Georges the silver wright had come past just after he went on watch, saying the magi had sent him to harvest the acorns! That was hours ago. Speculor had been to the man's workshop and found that Georges had packed up and left. Speculor found some hairs and was going to cast The Inexorable Search. Meanwhile, I heard Jacques giving orders to send trackers out and for grogs to set off in pursuit.
The spell indicated that the thief was heading for Quintin. Speculor was all for chasing after him himself, but was persuaded that he would not find it easy to hunt someone in the town. Constantine was to go instead, and on horseback. He cast a spell to help himself stay firmly in the saddle and set off at speed with Yussef, the only grog we have who is proficient at riding. Surely they will very soon catch up with the despicable thief!
The silver wright has been brought back, and, thank Hermes, we also have back the golden acorns and a great deal of silver. It is obvious from the burns that he did not give himself up readily. Constantine and Yussef followed the road to Quintin as fast as they could, overtaking and sending back the grogs that Jacques had ordered out. Constantine had used a spell to make the thief stand out in a crowd, but could not find him in the streets of the town. By the time they picked up the trail again, Georges had acquired a horse and was making haste along the road to St.Brieuc.
I do not know why it took them so long to find this out, but they made good speed once they headed north and soon caught up with the thief in a small village. Yussef said he went to apprehend the villain at the alehouse, but that Georges threw a handful of coins onto the floor, causing some confusion, and slipped out the back door. Fortunately, Constantine saw him and stopped him there. The idiot silver wright tried to bargain and argue with the angry magus and suffered the consequences. When searched, there was no sign of gold or silver in the man's possession, but he was obviously guilty. Yussef tied Georges over the back of his horse and the trio returned to Caribet. It only took Iuris Perita a moment to read all the thief's guilty secrets directly from his mind. He had buried the gold beside the road between Caribet at Quintin. Yussef was sent to ride out and retrieve it.
It was a great surprise to all but Iuris Perita when Yussef came back with not only the gold acorns but also a sack of silver coins and a great deal of unworked silver. This was taken to Sir Achilles, who became aware that Georges must have been stealing from him for a long time, and had been making illegal coins. The trial was short. The time Georges spent with Edwin when sent to make his last confession was not much longer. The crowd that gathered to watch Georges hang was large and excited. Fulk was an unlikely hangman, I thought, but he volunteered and looked the part. I trust that the memory of Georges' badly-burnt body dangling there will deter anyone else who might think of stealing from us. Constantine was dissuaded from asking Elise to bind Georges' ghost so that we could continue to torture him after death. I had no idea that my sodalis had such a thirst for revenge, but when we discovered that the three acorns, in addition to being made of gold, contained a pawn each of Herbam vis, I could see that I myself would have probably become like a Fury had they been lost to us.
I hear that Yves is being taught a lesson for his gullibility, and has been assigned to latrine duty for at least a month. In my opinion, that is getting off very lightly indeed. If I could, I would most certainly turn him into a toad. I must remember to ask amongst my sodales to find out if anyone can manage that yet; it would be worth a pawn or two of Animal vis to make him stay like it. I gather that the priest has buried the thief. Now we are going to have to find another silver wright, an honest one. I did not greatly feel the need of one to start with, but now I have had several very useful and pretty items made in silver for the laboratory, I can see that we need such a craftsman. What use is a silver mine if one cannot have the stuff made up into something useful?
Jourdain has done what I paid him for, and brought a competent glover all the way from St.Brieuc to Caribet. I thought it wise not to have her come to the glade, so arranged to meet her at the Manor. Lady Helissente was also to have gloves made, I discovered, and Galienne, too. Since I could hardly spare the time, and I am sure these ladies have nothing very important to do, I said I would have mine made first. It is probably as well, for had I seen the process performed on another first, I might have changed my mind. The glover, whose name I think is Rozenn, wanted me to lay my hand upon a kid skin, and then to cut around my fingers with sharp iron blades! I could hardly hold my hand still for a moment, so scared was I that the blades might touch me. It took a deal of persuading, and some promise of money, before I could get her to agree to take the outline of my hands on an old piece of parchment and then to cut around that. She claims that we will never achieve a perfect fit this way, but I am sure she is only saying that because it is a new idea to her.
The next stage of the operation was almost as horrifying, for Rozenn wanted to stitch the kid skin around my hand using iron needles. I asked her to use silver, but she had no such thing as a silver needle and neither do I. I could see by now that the gloves were going to be just what I needed so decided to endure the risk for the first seam. This was completed without the needle coming into contact with my skin, and so it was for the rest of the ordeal. The glover seemed mightily relieved when my third pair was completed, and happy that I did not wish for any embroidery or other embellishment on the gloves. I believe we were both glad that we did not have to spend another minute in each other's company. I shall keep one pair of gloves in the library, one in my laboratory and keep one with me - and I will hope that they last a very long time indeed.
Jimena passed on some curious news this evening. It seems that the tutor who was hired to teach Lady Helissente and her children, and who has been living at Caribet for some months now, is female. I was sure that this Naimes has been spoken of before as male, for example when we were first talking about educating some of the brighter children. Jimena explained that I was not mistaken, and that everyone had thought Naimes to be a man until today. I still did not understand why there had been any confusion, so Jimena reminded me of the disguise she herself had adopted when studying in Granada, where only males were meant to have access to the schools. It is the same in this part of the world, and Naimes had taken on a disguise in order to be allowed to learn. How different things are within the Order!
Oh dear! I have just had the most awful meeting with Maga Gwénolé, she who has been such a good a friend and advisor to me on the fae for so long and is now so furious with me that I am afraid. She looked absolutely terrifying in her rage! Magus Buviniolus Bonisagi ad Petrusca has exercised his right to take the apprentice of another, and has selected Séanna, who was the apprentice of Gwénolé, on the grounds that he is studying Faerie Magic, and so this apprentice from House Merinita will be of great benefit to him in his studies. Of course, he is perfectly within his rights, and Séanna is an excellent choice - I feel sure that Gwénolé has given her former apprentice an excellent grounding in the relevant subjects, and that Séanna will be a credit to our House as well as of great benefit to her new pater.
Alas, Gwénolé is furious, and what's worse, she blames me, saying now that I have no business to be looking into Faerie Magic! She blames me for drawing the attention of Bouviniolus to the study of Faerie Magic, saying that it is all due to my 'scheming' and 'mad ideas' that he has taken any interest in the subject, as if I had been plotting against her, and claims that I tempted him to steal her child. Well, this is nonsense, of course, but there is no point in trying to tell her that while she is in such a fury. It was entirely through Gwénolé that I took any notice of this branch of magic at all, and I did try to remind her of this. It would perhaps have been better had I not, for she just got more angry, blaming herself for giving me so much encouragement.
Gwénolé is convinced that Séanna is unhappy at being "dragged away" from her home and her House. There was no point saying anything, for she would not have listened, but in my opinion, Bouviniolus has done the girl a favour by taking her into a greater House where she will have the best of teaching, be allowed access to the greatest collection of books in the tribunal, and will study with the best minds in the Order. Gwénolé claims that, with my prompting and encouragement, Bouviniolus' "prying interest" has made him take "her Seanna to dissect and investigate", and that he will not teach Séanna the proper ways of Faerie which Séanna will now lose. I think this is nonsense, and a sign of misguided pride on the part of House Merinita, if they truly think that only they can have understanding of Faerie. If the magus has taken on this apprentice to help him in the study of Faerie Magic, it should be obvious that this will be an important part of her teaching and development, and I trust that Gwénolé will recognise this when she calms down.
For now, all I could do was to try and appear sympathetic, for there are no grounds for me to make an apology, and just hope that, even if my friendship with Gwénolé is over, that she does not work against me, Saxum Caribetum, or House Bonisagus.
I have had a very interesting conversation with Joach today. He has offered to help me by enchanting swords of bronze for Julius and Ignatius. The swords would, he says, be stronger and sharper than an iron sword. Each will take a season, and will require me to provide a pawn for each of Terram or Muto vis. I dare say that over two years I may well be able to obtain two pawns of Muto vis from Cierella, so that should not pose a great obstacle. I would have to pay Joach for his time, of course. At the very least, I would need to spend two seasons distilling Vim vis to give to him to compensate for what he could have distilled for himself in the same time. I cannot as yet think of anything else that I could offer in exchange, but perhaps something will come up whilst I gather the vis needed to perform the enchantments.
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