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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Spring 1229: The Forêt de Lorge lives up to its reputation

11th March: Fading magic

Last week I had occasion to visit our village, where I was rather alarmed to feel that the magic aura there was much weaker than usual. The air was cool and calm, and the brightness had faded from the scene. The damage done by the visiting flagellants at mid-winter lingers. I believe the only way we can repair this is to lure back the fae. Speculor's suggestion, that we burn down the church, has something to recommend it but would probably be a bad idea overall, and may not solve the problem. It was just as well that he did not mention this idea to Constantine! Speculor and I went to visit Quercus, in the hope that he might be able to help us, but we found his glade quiet and deserted, as if he was hibernating. We left a flask of good mead there for him.

On our return, we left small offerings of ale and mead at the edges of our fields closest to the village, in the hope of pleasing the field fae and enticing them back to the village. I know the field fae are there, for the aura over most of the fields is still a magical aura of second magnitude, as it is in the forest round about. It is only Caribet village that suffers. Today the problem was very obvious: the aura in the village was of the Dominion and of the third magnitude almost all day, and when it faded, it only fell by one magnitude. I am so very glad that we settled the village a good distance from our magical glade where the comfortable magic aura prevails. Speculor says he will write to his parens on this subject. I doubt if my parens, Laurentius, will have much to offer on this problem, so instead I shall write to Buviniolus and to Gwénolé, who may be helpful. I know she was very angry with me recently, but I am optimistic that she has come to understand and accept the loss of her apprentice and will be inclined to be friends with me again. Meanwhile we are having to find a way to live with this developing Dominion power so close to home. Speculor has sent word to Sir Achilles that there is a serious possibility that the alarm bell, set up to alert us in the tower should trouble come to the village, will not have the power to carry the sound to us while the unsuitable aura lies over the village.

13th March: Spring Equinox

I renewed the Aegis this morning, in bright sunshine. We have gathered up the Imaginem and Intellego vis from our regio as usual. I do wish we could continue our exploration of this fantastic magical area, but I believe we have a great deal more to learn before we can safely continue our study of the area within the magical regio. Our stock of regio 'keys' now comprises eight full sets so I believe we can afford to make use of a few of them if we have a need for Intellego vis, though the rule about never trading any away must remain.

The weather is improving at last, and it may be permissible to allow the small fires I set going to die down. These are the fires that maintain the spell to keep the grain dry. I was very pleased to have such an effective and suitable demonstration of the power of fae-touched magic to prolong a simple spell, though I gather that certain of my sodales have been heard to mutter that this is dubiously un-Hermetic. I am all the more determined to do all I can to bring knowledge and understanding of the magic of the fae firmly into Bonisagus' magic theory.

Council meeting

Everyone agreed that we need now only perform one season of service per year, but we must ensure that one of us is on service every season. There was rather a rush to volunteer for this season to be service. We had agreed that the enchanted lamp for the library was a high priority, and that Constantine should create it this Spring, but we had also decided that if Speculor learnt 'The Inexorable Search' last season, he should use that knowledge right away to create the magical device incorporating that effect, then Iuris Perita announced that she was off vis hunting as her service for the year. After a little debate, Speculor pointed out that the days were growing longer so we could probably manage another season without the lamp, and so it was settled: Iuris Perita and Speculor will be on service this season; Constantine's service will be delayed until next season.

Joach is to borrow the tractatus on Philosophiae. Elise has agreed to increase her payment for borrowing the Mentem summa to one pawn of Ignem and one of Vim, so she can have the book. I expect Constantine will want a book as well, but he did not say how he would be spending his time this season. I will be studying with Amelle, to learn how to see the fae. This is convenient because it is very important to try to find out where our local field fae have gone and to encourage them back after the disaster at mid-winter, so I can combine this task with my lessons.

Everyone was in agreement with the proposal that we allow ourselves two pawns of vis each from the stores, to be claimed at any time, and to be of any Art provided we retain at least five pawns of every Art. I have so many plans in mind which require a little vis that I cannot decide which to request for myself just yet. We spoke of the Corpus vis from the bogs which we had been unable to collect during winter. Elise has assured us that we have lost that, as the body parts float up somehow to the surface at that time and decay swiftly on exposure to the air, so there is no point in our sending grogs for it now.

14th March: Invasion

Amelle has moved into my sanctum, along with little Rubea and the baby Fleur. The wet-nurse comes so often and stays so long that she might as well have moved in too. Sir Achilles was most insistent that I could only have the services of Amelle as my teacher if she brought the children, and that he did not consider they would be safe enough in a cottage so much be housed here in the tower. It did not seem worth fighting him over this, so I shall have to make the best of it. Gwenna seems the most tolerant of the invasion and I can see that she will be tempted to spend time with the children when she ought to be attending to her duties. Julius and Ignatius are largely making themselves scarce. Sometimes they take up a station outside my door, but normally they are quite keen to come inside from time to time, particularly when it is chilly, and I have seen hardly anything of them since Amelle arrived.

Before Amelle arrived, I had carefully packed as much of my equipment and materials as I could into a large wooden chest, which is already covered in shawls and baby clothes. I do not suppose I shall have any opportunity or need to use any of it this season, so it is not worth making a fuss about it now being so hard to get at any of these things. I fear it will take a very long time indeed to set everything out again. I had hoped that my lessons with Amelle would begin at once but she says she has to settle the children and establish a new routine for them before she can spare much time for me. I was about to respond sharply, but it was not worth getting off to a bad start with my teacher.

I tried to read but there was so much noise, I was unable to concentrate until the children were both asleep. Then I had hardly read three pages when Amelle whispered that she could now talk with me, but we would have to talk very quietly. We were starting to make progress, but the baby woke up after less than an hour and Amelle had to go and settle her again. The next time both the little ones were sound asleep, Amelle said she needed to leave the room. Fortunately, Gwenna was there as I would have had little idea what to do had either of the children woken. It was a relief when Amelle appeared again after a short while. I am aware that she has been a frequent visitor to Constantine, and am hoping she will take her responsibilities here seriously enough to avoid leaving me in sole charge of the girls while she goes to him. We had another short discussion and were interrupted by the arrival, yet again, of the wet-nurse. This involved waking the baby, which seemed madness after all the trouble that had gone into getting her to go to sleep. By the time the wet-nurse went, the baby was asleep again, which looked promising, but Amelle herself was asleep too. This is all very tiresome! I trust that very soon the girls will feel more at home here and will give us longer study periods. Of course, some of the lessons will be shared with them, and I am looking forward particularly to going with them to visit Quercus and to look for our field fae.

14th March: Improving the environment

I have had to have words with Amelle today. Whilst I appreciate that it is important that potential apprentices are taken good care of, she and they are in my room specifically to help me learnt to see as they do. I cannot, of course, absent myself from Amelle for long, since I need to be close at hand if her charges give her a moment's peace and she gets an opportunity to talk to me, but I think that I shall learn a great deal more when we get outside the Aegis, where she can show me. It is no use me trying to talk about Imaginem with her for she has no clue about the theory of magic, of course, so I have been trying to find ways of talking about the perception of visual images in terms that she might understand, but it is very hard-going and I get quite exasperated. Knowing no Latin, she does not have the vocabulary, even if she has the wit, which I doubt. I had hoped we might go out to make a start today, but she says it is too cold for the children. If she says the same tomorrow, I shall use a spell to keep them warm and so stop her wasting any more of my time with such an excuse.

The bustling about in my room is as restful as a castle kitchen on a feast day. It is just as well I am not trying to learn a spell or read a book! Since I cannot just do nothing while Amelle is busy with the children, and I am certainly not inclined to assist her, I have returned to an activity of my early years and started a little embroidery. I have fashioned some plugs of soft beeswax to put in my ears, which cuts the noise down considerably, and I cast a Creo Auram spell on my room to make the air fresh and improve the odour. I think things will now go on a whole lot better.

15th March: Patience exhausted

What a night! I do not think I managed to sleep more than half an hour at a time! While I lay there, trying not to listen to Amelle crooning to that wretch, Fleur, to get her to stop grizzling, or the noise of the wet-nurse burbling in some silly Breton baby-talk as she fed the horrid infant, or the cries of the ghastly Rubea when she woke up from a bad dream, I pondered ways to silence the lot of them. Alas, there is no magic I can use to stop the sound from one end of the room reaching the other for long enough to be worthwhile. I have devised an enchanted nightcap, which I could pull right down over my ears to cut out the sound, but it would take a great deal of time to create it. I have decided that I shall turn the embroidery I am doing into a nightcap so that I will have a suitable piece of work to use as the basis for such a device when I have the opportunity to carry out the enchantment, which is all very well, but slight comfort when I am deprived of sleep right now. I have thrown the invaders out of my room for the afternoon, telling Amelle to take the girls to visit Helissente, so I can catch some sleep while they are out.

17th March: Outdoor lesson time

Today, the sun shone and it was bright if not warm. Amelle and I spent several hours outdoors, walking around the field boundaries close to the forest, and into the edge of the forest, to see if we could find any of the small, local fae to talk to. Rubea was the first to see one. Amelle could see it as soon as Rubea pointed it out to her but it took me very much longer to be able to see it at all. Eventually, with Amelle's help, I was able to just distinguish the shape of the little thing as it moved, though it was very hard to tell that the movement was not just a leaf caught by the breeze. Once I had the creature in focus, I began to wonder what had made it so hard to see, but one glance away and it was invisible again. I hope this is going to get easier.

21st March: Quercus visits us

Quercus came visiting today. I suppose that as the sap rises and the oak leaves start to unfurl, he awakes and perhaps one of the first things he wants to do is to visit this daughter of his, though surely he has others. Of course, he could not come to visit Fleur here, within our Aegis, so it was arranged that Amelle took Rubea and Fleur to meet him under the oak tree he planted at the edge of one of the fields, close to the village. I went along too, of course. It was rather cool on the way, and I was expecting Amelle to start complaining, but under the tree itself, the air felt decidedly spring-like and there was a lovely, strong, fresh smell of earthy vitality. The children seemed quite contented there and made far less fuss than when in my sanctum; perhaps they can move to a tent under the oak when the weather improves.

24th March: An invitation

Today we collected the flowers from within a dense thorn bush which yield four pawns of Rego vis. M. Bertrand had called during the day and Jimena had departed with him. The merchant has business in St.Brieuc and it was convenient for Jimena to travel in his company as she wishes to spend some time in St.Brieuc, looking for a suitable apprentice for herself. I will be setting out on a journey myself tomorrow, as it is time for me to go to the Valley of the Mists to re-enact Cierella's rescue. It is a tremendous relief that Amelle has arranged that the girls be looked after by one of the other women for a few days, so we will be free of them for a while. I am looking forward to continuing my lessons on seeing the fae in such a special, magical place.

An invitation arrived today, though I do not think the Redcaps brought it since it was addressed to the 'Scholars of Caribet' and delivered care of Sir Achilles. Lord Gaidon of Quintin is holding a great feast at Easter and has invited us to attend. I gather that the Duke of Brittany will be there as well as the Bishop of St.Brieuc. I have no interest what so ever in attending this gathering of the local nobility, but I have every intention of going to the Quintin Easter fair, in the hopes of finding a way into the faerie fair. I think we shall send Lord Gaidon some wine, as we did before, once it has been improved with a moon duration Muto Aquam spell.

9th April: Visiting the Valley of the Mists

Everything went well except that the whole visit took eleven days and Amelle complained nearly all the way there and back. One would think she was a noblewoman used to travelling everywhere in a carriage and sleeping in a great feather bed to hear her moans about the state of the paths and the camping conditions. She enjoyed our stay in the Valley so much that she was almost a tolerable travelling companion on the way back until she realised how much time had passed, and then she worried noisily about the children, yet would not make an effort to travel more swiftly. I was tempted to use magic to make her more tolerable, but I need her to keep teaching me a while longer.

In the Valley, everything went much as usual, except that I saw so much more this time, under Amelle's guidance. The boundary between mundane lands and the faerie regio was perceptible. The shadows that move in the vegetation to either side of the path through the Valley, usually caught in the corner of one's eye so one could believe there was just a trick of the light, were quite clearly visible this time as strangely shaped creatures, not like any beast I ever saw, but slightly like distorted children or people viewed in the rippled surface of a pool. The silver wolves appeared more frightening than I remember them, but behaved themselves perfectly well. Cierella herself was gracious as ever, and made both Amelle and I very welcome, though I felt she gave Amelle too much status.

I had given Amelle some idea of what to expect, so she was no significant hindrance as I played out the story of Cierella's capture and rescue, but everything was slower this time because Amelle wanted to look at everything. I am sure that the lessons she gave me within the boulder were particularly useful, so I do not regret taking her even though it was necessary to cast a short-lived spell on her to get her to crawl inside the boulder at all. I really thought that the unicorn was going to trample her as she rebelled at the idea of climbing a tree even though I gave her a clear order and the sound of its great pounding feet was getting louder and louder. She only escaped because Julius and Ignatius grabbed her and pulled her up just in time. At least she was quicker to obey instructions for a while after that. I told the story of Rubea's rescue at the concluding feast, with Amelle making her own contributions to the narrative. It went down very well, I felt, and Cierella must have enjoyed it, since she gave me gifts on parting of a pawn of Muto vis, and one of Aquam.

15th April: Easter Sunday and departure for Quintin

Quite a crowd are heading to Quintin today. Constantine and I are to represent the 'Scholars of Caribet'. I objected initially, saying it was a waste of time and I had much more important things to do in Quintin, but have been assured that I have only to appear at the feast on Monday evening, and then I may do as I please. The priest, Edwin, is to go, also Sir Achilles and Lady Helissente. I hear that she expects to see some of her relations there; the moon is a little past full so they will probably all be in human form. Sir Guillaume and Lady Gallienne are travelling with us. I expect they are glad of the show of strength made by our shield grogs and Achilles' own men at arms. I am thankful that we have been spared taking Rubea and Fleur with us. Amelle will probably fret about them, and complain along the road, but she will be in the company of her usual employers, so may be less trouble than I expect. Helissente has indicated that she wishes Amelle to keep her head covered, which is very sensible since her feline ears are very noticeable and we are to be much among mundanes. Amelle made a huge fuss about this, complaining bitterly that she had enough of such treatment when she was a little girl, but in the end she did do it.

17th April: Seeking the Fair

I have had a frustrating day today. The mundane fair is lively enough, and seemed to amuse Ignatius and Julius, but it holds nothing to interest me. I soon became bored with Amelle's enthusiasm for the trinkets on sale, the clothes the other women had on, the good looks or otherwise of the men. She was quite taken with the dancing bear; I suppose she never read a bestiary so it was something entirely new to her. I purchased a small broach and a green ribbon and gave them to her, which seemed to please. Try as we might, we could see no way out of the mundane fair to reach the faerie fair. I took Amelle and my shield grogs up to the standing stone on the hill and descended with care, following the muddled instructions from Joach who several years ago entered the faerie regio by following the zig-zag path down the hill. It did not work this time. We will try again tomorrow.

I hear disturbing news from Fr.Edwin. He was summoned to an audience with the Bishop of St.Brieuc today and learnt that the bishop has appointed Fr.Mark of Rennes to be the new parish priest of Ploeuc. Edwin says that this Mark is a strict theologian and a great favourite with the bishop. It is obvious that the prior will not wish to have such a close friend of the bishop established almost on his doorstep, and we most certainly do not want a Church spy so close. However, I feel sure that the troll under the bridge will soon deal with Fr.Mark, though I did not say as much to Edwin and did my best to appear to share his anxiety. I hear that Sir Achilles was granted an audience with the Duke and there is a rumour that he came away rather unhappy regarding the taxes. I believe he is going back to Caribet soon, perhaps to prepare for a visit by the Duke.

20th April: Faerie Fair

Again this morning I set off to walk the path down the hill from the standing stone, but before we got anywhere near the hill, just as we were passing close to the mundane fair, now in its fifth day, Amelle asked why we were bothering to climb the hill when the way into the faerie fair was quite obvious. Looking carefully, I saw what she meant, and, taking hold of my shield grogs, we stepped through together. It was quite marvellous! I hardly knew where to start! Since my lessons are about seeing, I decided at first to observe all that passed at each stall in turn but, however closely I watched, I never saw any sign of money or anything else changing hands, yet I am sure that visitors to the fair were obtaining things from the stalls somehow.

By the time I had tried watching at each stall in turn, the fair was getting busy, and I saw several familiar faces in the crowd. It was interesting to observe who spoke with whom. There was Mari Amwithig Merinitae, Gwénolé le Guen Merinitae, Buviniolus Bonisagi and the dreadful Eleusinus Merinitae. I avoided Eleusinus and warned Amelle to keep away from him too, but spoke with the others. All had stayed at Caribet the night before and had come by their own means to Quintin: Mari as a raven, Gwénolé via her magical portal and Buviniolus by riding a horse using a magical bridle. Regarding my prolonged stay in Quintin, seeking the fair, one was puzzled, another amused and another sorry for me - apparently "everyone knew" that it was only on the Friday. Well, I shall know another time, and will be able to see the way in, too. I was particularly pleased to find that Gwénolé was quite approachable. I was a bit careful about what I said, and I think the conversation went well. She was interested in discussing the problem we had since our fae were driven out of the village and suggested that mid-summer might be the best time to make a big effort towards enticing them back. Since the field fae like our Mid-Winter Feast so much, I am thinking that it might be a good idea to hold a party with feasting and entertainments in summer too, in the hope that something would please the fae. I could ask Speculor to provide some of his colourful, moving images and might send invitations to Derv the storyteller, to Piet Heda Lartae of Brugensis, to Quercus and Cierella, and, of course, to Gwénolé.

While Gwénolé and I were talking, other familiar figures had arrived. I saw one who I am sure was the faerie from the cave above Plaintel. I spotted both Cierella and the Lord of Dark Summer from within the boulder. I expressed some surprise at seeing these two, but Gwénolé just smiled. I am sure she knows how they, who appear bound to their realms and in opposition to each other, can travel here and be seen together, both displaying their power. I spoke to Cierella. She said that, for her, the fair was a place to meet people, get information and exchange things. She also pointed out to me that, here most especially, appearances were deceptive.

I met a bear who held a young person captive on the end of a chain. My curiosity and concern overcame my caution but fortunately the bear did not object to my question and offered the explanation that the dancer was serving out some period of service as payment. The bear was fond of stories so, hoping to improve my own stock of tales, I agreed to an exchange. I started with the tale of the Duke's Dragon Hunt, which the bear replied to with a very funny story of a dragon that hunted a stupid knight. I went on with the Harem of Cats and the bear responded with a tale about a cat that hunted mice. My last contribution was Rubea's Rescue, which the bear followed with a story about a princess who received magical gifts from faeries at her birth which she forgot about until she needed to defeat a wicked queen once she was almost grown up. It was an excellent story and I wish I had been able to write it down at the time. I thought the bear and I were getting on very well, so I started to ask how I might know when the fairie fair would be held next, but the bear could not or would not give me any meaningful clue.

21st April: Giving the Bishop a Fright

Whilst my attention had been on the faerie fair, my sodales had been plotting. The Bishop of St.Brieuc was to travel today from Quintin to Ploeuc, either via the Hermitage or via Caribet, depending on whose version one believed. Neither option was good. The Prior did not want this rival authority taking too close an interest in the Hermitage, where the monks are probably all above reproach but the activities of Fr.Albertus would probably excite more questions than one might wish. Sir Achilles was quite keen that the Duke, who would be riding with the Bishop, not have the opportunity to see that the fine stone buildings of Caribet were quite so splendid as they are - I am not sure why. None of the magi wanted any close scrutiny of Caribet. So, a plan had been devised by Speculor and Joach which required my assistance. I arranged for Amelle to travel back to Caribet with Helissente so I did not have to worry about her while playing my part.

Setting off very early, long before the Duke, Bishop and their entourage were ready to leave, I headed out along the forest road to meet Speculor. We waited a long time, then Speculor went off through the forest, close to the road but out of sight, to use Imaginem magic to create odd noises amongst the trees. When the party drew near, he created the image of a raven swooping down from one side of the track, across directly in front of the bishop and off into the trees on the other side. I could hear the noise it made, which was my signal to create a cold wet mist across the path. From within the thick mist came more of Speculor's eerie noises, then Joach released two boars and two bears to rush at the travellers. The animals were real enough. They had been capture by our hunters (one of whom had been very badly injured in the process) and made to look more ferocious than usual by suitable magic. To make sure they went the right way, I cast Jupiter's Resounding Blow then followed it up with two more claps of thunder.

The whole thing was a great success. The bishop and his attendants turned and fled back along the track in the direction of Quintin. I heard afterwards that someone had been telling stories of the haunted forest along the way, so the nervous amongst the party were well primed to receive our surprise. The Duke was less easily scared, but he was happy to travel to the Hermitage and thence to Ploeuc, so no-one came unwanted to Caribet.

1st May: May Day

Today we had to visit Quercus. I was very anxious to set off bright and early in the first light of this special day, but although Amelle was up earlier than I, there was just so much to do before she would agree that the children were ready for the outing. She packed up two large willow baskets of things which she said were indispensable, in case they were needed, and there was nothing for it but I must ask Julius and Ignatius to carry these. Imagine, my two brave and noble warriors carrying baskets of baby's things! They bore it all very stoically and I have given them both the evening off, in some sort of compensation.

The sun was already quite high in the sky by the time we were on the road to Ploeuc. We gathered springs of may blossom and other flowers and, while taking a rest, we wove these into garlands for each of us to wear. Fleur tried to put hers in her mouth so we had to take it off her. Rubea has more sense, but she was fiddling with the wreath so much, one minute wearing it as a bracelet, then putting it back on her head, them tossing it like a quoit, so, of course, it quickly fell apart. In the end, Amelle made fresh garlands for the girls and kept them so she could put them on them just as we reached Quercus's glade. On the way, Amelle pointed out to me things that she thought I ought to be able to see, and quite often, I could. It seemed to get easier as we drew closer to our destination.

It was so wonderfully peaceful there! The dryads and Amelle kept the children happily occupied while Quercus and I had a fascinating discussion but, long before I thought we had exhausted the subject, he wanted to join the laughing group. I was a little irritated at first and hung back, but in fact it was quite fun to join the play and I have no doubt that it was a useful contribution to my studies. I mentioned to Quercus something about the field and bramble fae having retreated from our village, and how badly we want them back. He was quite interested. These fae do not fall under his rule but he knows of them, and seems to consider their ruler as some sort of relation. He was not at all encouraging about my idea of a party, saying that he had business of his own at mid-Summer, and I gathered that he believed the fae around Caribet would be equally unenthusiastic. He said that we should call upon him at mid-Summer and he would help us. He did not make it at all clear how he intended to do this, though a 'fairy seed' has something to do with it, and I am optimistic that he will solve the problem for us.

5th May: Jimena returns

I could hardly believe that Jimena would come back alone! It seems impossible that she found no young person with education and aptitude who was enthusiastic about learning from someone so skilled as she. However, so it is. She tells me she went first to the school attached to the cathedral in St.Brieuc where she spoke to one of the clergy. She had a very cool, almost hostile, interview and came away with no more than a worthless promise that they would write to her, care of Sir Achilles, should a suitable potential apprentice come to their notice. The attitude towards educated women in the world outside the Order is quite intolerable! Jimena had then spent a week or two in the city, talking to people in the shops and marketplaces, but found no help or encouragement. Well, I do not think they deserve the favour of Jimena's attention and would have her give up the idea, but she is right, that she should pass on her knowledge. She now thinks that St.Brieuc is too small a city and she should travel next to Rennes. I suggested she simply ask Achilles to write on her behalf to one of his contacts - he may be able to conceal the fact that the doctor offering teaching is female. I am sure he will appreciate how important it is for a suitable apprentice to be found.

18th May: Seeking the boundaries

Today's lesson took place close to the menhir. The idea was to see whether I had learnt enough to see the edge of the regio that surrounds the menhir. It is far more difficult to perceive something that does not move. I am very pleased that I managed it eventually without using a spell.
A letter arrived from Gwénolé. She has been thinking about what I told her last time we met, about the fae leaving our village, and tells me that she believes we need to "rebuild the connection". The theory sounds entirely sound, but a practical means of doing it eludes me at present. However, we have some time before mid-Summer, and I expect we will find a way.

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