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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Winter 1228: Famine and flagellation

7th December: news from Quintin

Bertrand, the merchant, visited us today bringing some useful items and some curious news. He reports that a few days ago, there was a riot at the gate of Quintin, where he lives, and some bothersome disturbances in the town itself. A crowd of maybe seventy starving people tried to get into the town and were held back by the guards, not without bloodshed. I was initially puzzled as to how a disorganised mob of hungry peasants could take on armed soldiers. It seems that the rabble were convinced that the famine had been brought down on them by the wrath of God on account of their sins, so they were using whips, chains, boards and I do not know what else to beat themselves as penance. These instruments caused many bloody wounds, and injured the guards as they did the penitents. Many were desperate and offered their bodies to the sword, only to strike down their attacker as they expired. Somehow, Bertrand had observed that the crowd of the living was augmented by many ghosts, presumably the spirits of those who died along the way. When some of the penitents managed to get into the town, they inspired some of the residents to join them. Bertrand says they were undoubtedly very holy people, and many of the townsfolk of Quintin were willing to defend them against the guards. It took two days before the combined efforts of the local lord and the priests, preaching peace and obedience to authority while distributing food, managed to get the flagellants to move on. Bertrand thinks they were headed towards Plaintel and had been to warn Lady Marta of this before coming on to Caribet.

9th December: Redcap visitors

Not unexpectedly, the Redcaps are the first to arrive for the mid-Winter feast. So far we have Aversus, Bartholomeus, Jézéquel, and Petrus Classicus. I was particularly pleased that Bartholomeus brought with him a letter from Gwénolé for me in which she expressed interest in what I wrote to her from Montes Plani and appeared pleased that I am taking my first steps towards understanding the fae. There was no great cordiality, but no sign of anger, so I hope that relations between us can be mended before long.

13th December: More guests

We have a lot of visitors this year, and Jehan has been very busy finding accommodation for them all. The most difficult to house is Mari Amwithig, who arrived two days ago with Gareth o Fflint; she radiates destruction so was offered accommodation in the village rather than our glade. They brought with them six grogs and several horses, all of which Jehan had to find space for. Gareth gave us a pawn of Terram vis in the form of an octahedral lodestone, and Mari gave us not Perdo, but a pawn of Herbam vis.

Yesterday, Marpesius Criamonis from Mummolides arrived with several grogs, bringing us a pawn of Herbam vis, a marsh flower. Urbanus Verbus arrived soon after him, again with grogs, and was very generous, bringing two pawns of Aquam vis. The next arrival was Maestus Merinitae of Dextro Versum - if magi from Stonehenge flock to the feast, we shall be overwhelmed! He gave us a silver nugget containing a pawn of Terram vis.

Today's Hermetic arrivals were Pes Ferreus Tremereris, who is probably best avoided, and Buviniolus Bonisagi, which pleased me very much because I shall enjoy discussing certain aspects of magic theory with him. Even better, he gave us a tractatus on faerie lore, which he must know is something of great interest to me, if not as yet to any of my sodales. Pes Ferreus gave us a very welcome pawn of Mentem vis in the form of a wisdom tooth. During the afternoon, the large oak at the edge of the east field suddenly turned into a splendid pavilion, and Quercus strode out of it, flanked by two dryads.

With such a number of visitors, Sir Achilles' hall will not comfortably accommodate everyone so we considered plans to allow the feast to be held outside the manor. Speculor wanted to create a magical pavilion, decorated with Creo Imaginem and having a magically suspended rafter on which to perch Fulk, but his ambition exceeded his abilities. I am happy to do something to make the surroundings comfortably warm and dry, tent or not, and we will probably make do with that. It is much harder to do anything about the lack of women, for most of the visiting grogs are male and we are already short of women without taking any visitors into consideration.

14th December: Mid-Winter's Day brings unwelcome visitors

An urgent message reached the tower this morning that a large crowd of flagellants was approaching Caribet. We could not risk them entering the village so it was quickly decided that Speculor should set up an illusion just north of the fields to divert them through the northern margin of the most recently-cleared area and on to the track heading west. Ideally, we wanted to let them see the path heading off westward between trees. We considered using some of our store of Imaginem vis to increase the area that Speculor could affect, but we decided against it because each pawn would have so little effect. He ran off as fast as he could and I went just as far as the path leading north, touched the path and cast a spell to create a fog around the people on the path, which I hoped would hold them up enough to give Speculor time to get his illusion in place without them being able to see the change. By the time Speculor got to the edge of the fields, he could clearly hear the sound of singing and there was no sign of fog. Quickly, he created an illusion of the path petering out and ending in a dense wall of brambles.

Speculor was alarmed and very puzzled to see the crowd pause briefly, but then walk straight into and through his illusion. He ran back towards the village and I met him near the manor house. He told me about the lack of fog and the ineffectiveness of his illusion, and we tried to think of some other way to repel the flagellants without hurting any of them in any way. We were still talking when the chanting penitents entered the village. I suddenly felt very nauseous and it seemed to me at that moment that Speculor was very unnerving and entirely untrustworthy. I noticed that his shield grog, Milon was looking very uncomfortable too, and was edging away from his master. Without thinking sufficiently, I ordered Milon to fetch the priest. Speculor was angry that I was ordering his grog around, but it was to late - Milon had shot off in the direction of the presbytery. I tried to apologise to Speculor, but he seemed so dangerous that I could not find the words and I set off as fast as I could towards the glade. Speculor also ran, and overtook me. As soon as we reached the glade, my sickness passed, and so did my trepidation. Speculor seemed just as he normally did, except that he was out of breath and as confused as I was about what had just happened.

The flagellants make themselves at home

I could not settle back to any serious work after such a disturbance. Speculor and I sat in the council chamber and talked over what we had seen and felt and came to the conclusion that, more than anything else we could put a name to, the feeling we had had when in the vicinity of the crowd was like some of the descriptions of God in stories that Br.Joseph used to tell from the Old Testament. Our discussion was interrupted before long by the arrival of Jehan, very harassed. The magi lodged in the village had all come to the glade, insisting that room must be found for them here, inside the Aegis. No doubt they had been affected by the strange aura too. Zane rushed in saying, I swear, that he could see orange fur burning all over the village, then before anyone could ask what he meant, he ran off and has not been seen since. Amelle turned up to, talking of fire in the air, and bringing Rubea and the new baby, both of whom were bawling. Normally, a screaming child would be one of the last creatures that I would invite into my own room, but since there was obviously going to be such pressure on accommodation in the vicinity of our Tower, and I need to get to know Amelle and the children, I have made space for them. Julius and Ignatius have the task of making sure they touch nothing.

Since our problem was with holy men and women, someone went to request that Constantine come and do something about it, but he said he could not be disturbed. I expect he had a woman in his rooms. Jacques came to the tower and told us that Fr.Edwin had spoken to the crowd and persuaded them to move back towards the north a little way to the edge of the fields, and food was being distributed to them there. Some had been overheard to say that they had arrived in the Promised Land of Plenty. Jacques also reported that the pavilion around the oak was looking very tattered and that there was no sign of Quercus and the dryads.

Iuris Perita appeared and we talked over what could be done about the situation. Clearly, we had to get rid of the flagellants, but equally clearly, we could not use force. The risk of having one or more of them die here of their self-inflicted wounds was so great and would be so damaging to our aura that I was all for having Jimena go to treat any that looked likely to expire. On realising that when they did move on, the band was most probably going to continue south along the main track, which would take them to Ploeuc over the troll bridge, Iuris Perita set off to tell her cousin that he must go at once to bribe the troll to let them pass unmolested. She also dispatched a rider to go in all haste to the Hermitage with a letter for the Prior and Fr.Albertus, requesting their assistance.

15th December: Processing

What a dreadful night! Amelle had managed to get the children to stop crying, but they are an almost constant source of disturbance. I must ensure that they are given a cottage to live in during spring, or I will be driven to desperate measures. The council chamber is as crowded as the beer tent at the grogs' Tribunal games, with eleven visiting magi all talking at once and numerous servants trying to move amongst and around them. I notice that Joach is sensibly keeping to his room. Constantine appeared and left the tower intending to go to Mass as usual, but returned very soon. He said that Edwin was saying Mass for the penitents outside the church but would not explain why he had not joined them, then he vanished back upstairs.

Around mid-day our messenger got back from the Hermitage. He had Fr.Albertus and Br.Petrus awaiting welcome at the south gate. Iuris Perita took charge, I am glad to say. She said something I could not catch to Speculor, at which Speculor nodded and went upstairs. Then she said something to one of the servants and pointed towards Joach's room before she left the tower. I returned to my conversation with Buviniolus and hoped for the best.

Banners

Less than an hour later, Iuris Perita and Fr.Albertus joined the crowd in the council chamber, and waved to me to join them. Servants were sent to ask Joach and Speculor to join us, too, and we went outside to find somewhere a little quieter. Br.Petrus had joined Fr.Edwin in talking to the flagellants. Br.Petrus is convinced that they are heretics and would like nothing more to do with them. Indeed, he made it perfectly clear that he has strong reservations about us too, and that it was going very much against his own inclination and belief to give us any help at all, but because the Prior has ordered him, he must do what he can to get them to move away from Caribet. He has requested that we produce a number of banners with appropriate holy symbols on them, as quickly as we possibly can. Finding wooden poles and large pieces of fabric was easy. Under guidance from Fr.Albertus, Speculor created pictures on the banners, most of which were very good. The pictures were given that extra sparkle by Speculor's sigil, so that the halos really glowed and the radiant rays of holy light shone. Albertus rushed off with the banners.

It was near the end of the afternoon when we got report that the banners had worked, and allowed Petrus and Edwin to lead the crowd through the village and out along the west track towards St.Brandan and Quintin. We managed to get out to the fields and cast 'The Bountiful Feast' accompanied by as many of the local inhabitants as could be rounded up. I do hope none were persuaded to join the flagellants as, Bertrand said, some folk from Quintin were. Worryingly, there was no sign seen of our field fae throughout the business of casting the ritual. None of the people who had taken refuge inside the aegis felt like returning to the village tonight, so I have no idea whether the aura there returned to normal before morning.

Council meeting

Once things had quietened down a little, we held our meeting during the early evening, gathering in the library, so as to be out of the way of the visitors. As usual, I cast a Creo Ignem spell outside to create a light that I carried into the library with me. I pointed out to my sodales how inconvenient this was at times, and there were noises of agreement, mainly from those with no interest in the Art of Ignem, as I hoped. I then put forward my proposal that my season of service be spent enchanting a lantern to produce the effect of 'Lamp without Flame', such that any one of us could make use of it and so that there would be no temptation to bring a real flame into the library or to cast a spell in the presence of all our stored vis. Speculor seemed to think that I could make much better use of my time, but did not produce a constructive suggestion as to what this might be. Joach appeared reluctant to have such an item created by anyone but himself, but his understanding of Ignem is lacking, so he was soon won over. I thought I might lose what support I had gained when I told them I would need a little gold and two pawns of Ignem vis, but the vote was in my favour. Just when I thought it was all settled, Constantine broke out of his reverie to say that he agreed that an enchanted flameless lamp would be very useful, and that he could create such an item that could be turned on (and off) six times per day without needing to use any gold. It would require two points of either Creo or Ignem vis, as if the effect is to be used more than once per day it will be at least third magnitude. So, it was agreed that Constantine would do this, but not until next year. Discussion moved on to what other enchanted devices we would find useful, now we felt we could use some vis. Unfortunately, the ideas I put forward all appeared to use Arts where I was best suited to do the work, and I had already chosen my project for this season, so I decided to retreat. One of my sodales suggested that it would be very useful to create devices we could give to the grogs to help them to defend us. I am afraid that my enthusiasm for the notion caused me to be somewhat over-optimistic about what could be done for a while. In the end, we had to abandon the project for now, as it is beyond me to make anything worth having, as yet.

Speculor also was keen to create an enchanted device. He put forward a proposal to create an item in the form of an eagle to fly around the top of the tower and look out in all directions, sending an image of what it saw into a silver bowl or mirror that would be set up in the council chamber. He has some excellent ideas, but little appreciation of his own limitations. We talked about restricting the form and abilities of such a look-out, and Joach began to argue how much better it would be if created as an automaton, but Iuris Perita reminded us that, were a magus to walk into the object's field of view, we would be breaking the Code. She had the same objection to Speculor's next proposal, that he make a device which one could look through to enlarge the view of something in the distance, making it easier to see what it was. Leaving Speculor to think of some safer device to create with his favoured Intellego Imaginem on another occasion, it was suggested that he use Intellego Corpus to create a device to give the same effect as casting The Inexorable Search, a spell which we have several times made use of. He has not yet taken the time to learn the spell, always casting it from a scroll, which risks damage to the scroll, so it was suggested he might learn the spell instead. He reminded council that there was a precedent for learning a spell of general utility as service, and said that if he might learn that spell as service this season, he would create the device to generate the effect next year, which we accepted.

Constantine requested the Ignem summa for private study, while Iuris Perita took the Magic Theory summa. I was sorry to see that vanish into her sanctum for a whole season, but I will not have time to use it myself for ages. We feel much indebted to the Prior. A gift of alms and meat will be sent to him tomorrow morning, but I am sure we owe much more. To guard against a repetition, Joach is to instruct Jacques to post lookouts on the paths round about, and keep a group of soldiers ready to make a show of force to send any more hungry bands away. A small group of grogs should be sent off to the peat bogs, but it is difficult to spare them. Since it is dangerous with the gangs of hungry people roaming, and we need all the soldiers to guard the roads leading here, I suggested we delay collection of vis from the bogs this time and Joach supported this. Elections were not required since all agreed that Iuris Perita continue as Princeps, Joach as Defensor and Speculor as Librarius.

16th December: Apologies

Mid-Winter feast

Sir Achilles held his feast as usual yesterday evening, but it was a relatively subdued affair this year. Everyone had been upset by the flagellants, which no amount of good food and drink could swiftly overcome. Worst of all, the field fae stayed away so there was no faerie dust in the wine, and no Muto vis to collect this morning. As Joach pointed out, it was just as well we had not specifically invited all the Hermetic visitors with promises of faeries, or we would be having to give the gifts of vis back. As it is, we must simply hope they enjoyed themselves anyway and apologise for the absence of the faeries. Of course, some of the villagers and grogs got a lot of fun out of the Mis-Rule and plentiful ale and wine, and I saw many happy couples, but there was no magic in any of it. I suppose we can hope that come September there may be a few boys born, and I am sure they will not all come at harvest moon nor with such easy births as the fae-touched baby girls.

During the morning, I went out to the fields to leave offerings of ale, wine and food for the field fae, in the hopes that they are around somewhere and will very soon be back. Then I set out for Ploeuc and on to the hill where Quercus lives, since I felt he was owed an apology. He had felt it necessary to escape the unpleasant aura that the penitents carried with them, and was glad to know that things were returning to normal at Caribet. I do not think he has taken offence, and feel sure he will visit us again.

20th January: the village slides

At first we could not be certain but by now we are sure that the aura in and around Caribet village is turning from Magic to Dominion. The presence of the fae, which had hitherto held back the influence of the Dominion on most days, is much weakened since the trouble at mid-winter. Speculor's immediate response was to declare that we muct burn the church down. It is fortunate that Constantine was not there to hear him, though whether he would have set fire to the church or to Speculor, I am not sure. It is just as well that we had the village established a a good distance from the glade so that the day to day activities there do not affect our own living space. Even so, we must do what we can to reverse this trend. We cannot stop the people there going about their work, much of which is necessary to sustain ourselves but we must encourage the fae back.

T

he weather continues miserably damp. The fire that maintains the spell to keep our grain dry has been well tended and we can feed everyone, but I hear there is still famine elsewhere and our grogs have had to repel potential troublemakers on several occasions.

28th February: Bad news from Elise

A letter from Elise reached us via Bertrand today. In it she says she wishes to borrow 'The Regio in the Head of Man' again, initially offering just a single pawn of Ignem vis. I am delighted to have the Ignem vis, but we cannot set a precedent of lending to her for just one pawn, whatever it is. We will write back that her offer is inadequate. She also tells us that we have lost this winter's Corpus vis from the bogs, because we could not send our grogs out to collect it. I had hoped that it would rise to the surface and lie there awaiting collection, and hoped the place was remote and wild enough that no-one else would gather it. Alas, Elise is certain that the body parts will start to disintgrate on contact with air and so will have decayed away by now. We must not let this happen again!

3rd March: A visit to Quercus' home

Speculor and I have both been leaving little offerings of food and drink for the fae for weeks now, and yet the Dominion aura around the village grows stronger. The brightness has faded from the place, and it just seems cool and calm. I am avoiding the place entirely on Sundays now. We have had to warn Achilles that the enchanted alarm bell will probably not function correctly now. The only encouraging thing about this is that the forest round about retains its magic aura of the second magnitude, and this extends most of the way across our fields still. Today Speculor and I walked down through Ploeuc to call on Quercus, hoping he might have some idea how we could encourage the fae back. Unfortunately, it is too early in the year and Quercus is still dormant or hibernating. We left him the decorated flagon of good mead, which we had taken as a gift. Speculor is going to write to Jovinus about the problem and I may mention it to Gwénolé.

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