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Council has decided that one of us should learn to cast the Ritual The Bountiful Feast. I am sure that it is right and appropriate that we use magic to ensure that we are all well fed even though it requires a whole seven pawns of vis every year. Unfortunately, although my understanding of Creo has improved considerably recently, I still have difficulty with Herbam so I cannot help with this spell. I had expected it to be Joach, or maybe Constantine, who was best suited to this task but it turns out to be Speculor. The greater emphasis that House Bonisagus puts on book-learning and Magic Theory must explain it. The necessary Arts are not ones that Speculor has devoted much attention to but we have the books he will need and he is confident that he will have the spell for the mid-winter after next. The bailiff and Jehan will have to make preparations to get us safely through this coming year without the aid of this spell, but we have the silver to purchase food and can use magic to preserve it so I foresee no difficulty.
Of course, for a ritual, there is more required than knowing the spell and I was concerned that this might be a problem since we have as yet no source of Creo vis other than trade so are very loathe to use it. Unless Speculor spends an extra season to advance his understanding of Herbam beyond the limit of the one book we have, he will be unable to handle the required seven pawns of Herbam vis so we will be obliged to use a pawn of Creo every year, which may prove impossible. I am optimistic that some time in the next year, while Speculor is studying and inventing, we will obtain more Creo vis.
Naturally, Speculor could not be expected to have his study plan dictated by Council for three consecutive seasons and to invent the spell as well without compensation, particularly as he did two seasons of service last year so was to have been free this year to follow his own plans. Since he will gain considerable long term benefit to himself by working on Creo and Herbam, there was a lot of thought put into how far to compensate him for the time. It was agreed that he be paid in vis: four pawns of Intellego and five of Imaginem. He was very enthusiastic about having a set of the regio keys as his personal property but Iuris Perita seemed to be very worried by the idea, though not enough to forbid it. I cannot see why she should be worried, and she declined to explain. Speculor was, if I remember correctly, the first to point out how important it was that the sets of keys did not fall into the hands of anyone from outside this covenant, and they can only be used at the equinox when we all take a set for the day anyway, so I cannot imagine why she is anxious. Speculor will be given the vis when he has completed the work. Joach seemed especially pleased that we had established a precedent now for paying in vis for a magus's time and effort so I expect he has plans for things to enchant. I am sure that, in future, I shall be happy to pay him for magically-enhanced equipment for my shield grogs.
Floristan's book on Rego was somewhat disappointing. I expect I could gain some benefit by reading it since he certainly has a good grasp of the Art but he does not write well. It really is not worth asking him to write more so we are sending him on a vis hunt again, in hopes of finding Ignem, Mentem or, best of all, Creo vis.
Joach, a usual, will most usefully perform his covenant service by enchanting a device. His little flying pig is fondly remembered but it took a great deal of time and vis so Council is not willing to agree to anything so complex just yet. I heard some of my sodales talking about a very much larger version that could carry a magus aloft but the idea filled me with anxiety since I felt sure that the rider would slide off and fall to their death. Joach proposed a gargoyle to mount on one of the gates to the glade that would throw rocks at an enemy. While not in itself a bad idea, we could think of no situation where such a thing would have been any real use so could not support the suggestion. Thinking of some of the situations we have found ourselves in, I put forward the idea of a device to create fog. Fortunately, this was quite popular, so much so that Joach was willing to spend the coming season of his own study time with the Auram summa in preparation for creating a wooden fog-breathing gargoyle as service in Autumn.
One of my sodales proposed that we should teach one of the scribes some Magic Theory so that they would be able to copy our books on the Arts for trade. Whilst I approve of letting the unGifted do anything they can to free the time of the Gifted for more important things, I am very dubious about relying on any work on a Hermetic Art or spell copied out by someone who does not really understand it. I find it hard to believe that anyone who does not have the Gift in their blood and in their bones, who has not used it and felt the power of magic under their control, can ever be entirely reliable in copying out the words that describe and explain the very essence of what we understand about magic. As if they think that I shall be more confident about the ability and reliability of the scribe, it is to be myself who has the task of teaching one of our scribes, Arnaud, this coming Winter.
In talking over which scribe should be singled out, I was delighted to hear that Pepin is to start a course of study with one of the village women, Mered, in order to learn Breton with the particular aim of recording, in Francien or Latin, as many of the local legends and stories as possible. I hope he will spend one Winter taking down the stories that Derv the Hunter tells under the faerie oak. Probably more urgent is that he record the stories that the local storyteller, Mai, knows. She is very old indeed, and has recently come to live in the village with her grandson because he hopes that Jimena's care will prolong the old woman's life. I know of no better physician but even Jimena can do nothing about natural deterioration. Just let the woman live long enough to pass on her fund of knowledge! Iuris Perita is to arrange that one of the older Breton-speaking children who shows some aptitude will be sent to Mai as an apprentice.
While we were talking about The Bountiful Feast, I was reminded of the Herbam book in our library so I have decided that I shall spend this season studying it, while Speculor continues to study Creo, then he can have the Herbam book after me. Iuris Perita and Constantine are to continue with private study this season. Fulk will illuminate the tractatus I wrote on Creo. I hope he makes a good job of it; I am not at all keen on having to talk to him about it so hope it will be sufficient to send one of the grogs with the book.
This year, the Summer Solstice fell on a Sunday, so Speculor and I were especially keen to observe the changes in the auras around Caribet. In the glade, things were as we have come to expect, as the magical regio around the menhir grew to cover the glade. As the day dawned, the faerie aura in the village strengthened, the church slipped into a little area of its own with a Dominion aura, and the forest, with its heightened magical aura, formed a third distinct regio. Some of my sodales took the opportunity to complain at me about the faerie aura in the village as if it was a bad thing and my fault. Whilst I agree with them that the magical aura that we had previously was certainly preferable, what we have now is vastly better than the Dominion aura left after the flagellants paid us a visit. Astonishingly, not all my sodales agreed!
I was very glad to have learnt the spell to see regio boundaries and cast this on myself, so I could easily see the boundaries until sunset. Speculor cast the spell on himself too. Constantine arrived in the village to attend Mass, and I had to guide him, Edwin, Achilles, Helissente and a number of the villagers to the church. I did not join them.
Quercus arrived, in full majesty as a powerful Lord of the Forest, and held court under his oak tree. He looked very imposing and attractive. I was tempted to stay and talk with him but the matter of the minor fae was more immediately important. Many little bramble fairies could be seen around the oak. I was very pleased to see them but looked in vain for any sign of our little field fae. Speculor and I were determined that we would make contact with them again. We collected Zane and gathered up some of the wine, mead and cake that they used to enjoy and went off to the fields. Floristan saw what we were up to and decided to join us. He intend to bring his shield grogs with him but I insisted that he leave them behind, with their horrid iron weapons.
We walked around the edge of one of the fields without success and then went a little way into the forest. Speculor said he was going to cast an Intellego Herbam spell to try to locate the field fae. I questioned him about how he intended to locate them and he responded with a prolonged analysis of the virtues of sight, smell, hearing and taste as means of learning about things. This was hardly the time or place for such a lecture. Zane wandered off and had to be retrieved. Once Speculor had completed his spell, he was able to point out where there were some tiny fae in the undergrowth. Much to my alarm, these were neither bramble fae nor field fae, but looked like our little field fae reverting to their former selves, their little smocks torn and stained and much more spikiness about them. I set out some of our offerings and stepped back to wait but they would not approach. I cast a Muto Corpus spell on myself to make me smaller; I could not manage a spell suitable to take me to their size so became the size of a girl about eight years old. They would not come for offerings from me when shrunk either. Thinking that it might be The Gift rather than my size that scared them, I shrank Zane in the same way and bade him offer cake and wine. They would not come to Zane either. I was sure that all we needed to do was talk to them to regain their friendship, but they would not accept our friendliest overtures and I was sure that we were running out of time. While Zane was offering, Speculor cast a spell on Floristan to try and give him the ability to see the little fae, but for some reason it failed.
We thought for a little about what else we could try and decided to see whether Quercus would agree to assist us. When we started the discussion, I had stopped concentrating on keeping Zane small so he returned to his normal height. I, however, had cast the spell on myself until sunset because I wished to be free to concentrate on any conversation we might achieve with the fae, so I had to trot to keep up with the men on the way back to the village. Speculor had to guide Floristan over the regio boundaries as we went from the forest to the fields and the village, which reminded me that I had left a number of people, including Constantine, in the church and they were almost certainly trapped there until I went to lead them out. I wanted to go at once to do this but Speculor, currently much larger and stronger than me, took my arm and steered me firmly towards Quercus.
I would have complained but the thought was put out of my head by the sight of Quercus. His glory had attracted all the women who had failed to get to church that morning. I spotted Amelle with Rubea and Fleur close beside him. Speculor approached Quercus and started by asking his advice on how to deal with our problem. The Lord of the Oak said that we should command them by our noble presence. Clearly, he was talking of how he would behave, and I sensed that, if we persuaded him to do this for us, there was a significant risk that he would, by so doing, spread the power of the forest over our cultivated fields, which would be very unfortunate.
I was struck by a sudden idea and made as much haste as I could with short legs to return to my sanctum. Thinking about the fields and the good harvest we needed, I had remembered the ears of corn that I and my companions had obtained on our visit to Sommerberg. Each contained a pawn of Creo vis, and it was possible that each was also a luck token of some sort. I put all five ears into a pouch and returned to Quercus. I showed him one of them, and he seemed amused, calling it "trivial", which was discouraging, but I was not put off. I told Speculor that I had an idea I wanted to try and, grabbing Zane again, set off back to the forest where we last saw the only-just-field fae.
I handed Zane one of the ears of corn and instructed him to try offering cake and mead now. Speculor was very interested in the ear, of course, but I did not explain. Zane's offering was ignored. In exasperation, I offered cake and wine with one of the magical ears of corn between them, thinking that this must surely lure the fae out of hiding. Well, it did, but they just darted out, gathered it all up, scattered and hid. We stayed a little longer, offering more food and drink, but the fae had gone.
I was very fed up about the loss of a pawn of Creo vis. I was brooding on it when I got back to the village and went to rescue the people from the church. They had been there for only about two hours. Of course, they were surprised to see me so small, but no-one questioned it. I went directly back to my sanctum to put the remaining four ears of corn away safely. Now my sodales know that I have this Creo vis, I expect there will be pressure to make it available for covenant use since we have only just five pawns of it in store. I am very reluctant to part with any of it until I have confirmed that it is not a luck charm of some sort. It has to be said that today's loss and failure suggest strongly that it is not. I was tired of being so small so cast another spell to return myself to as close as I could manage to my normal height.
When I next left the tower, I found that the collection of vis has been organised. Speculor had had to lead villagers out into the forest to gather up the droppings from the talking animals. Jehan had gone to talk to the menhir, bringing it up to date with the past years' news. Throughout the rest of the day, I tried to think of some other way to make contact with the fae who had lived in our fields, feeling sure that we did not have much time before they entirely reverted. We felt fairly certain that the faerie aura on the village might well stay strong until the following Sunday, so there was a little time in which to make another attempt, if only we could work out how.
Aversus arrived with a letter from Jovinus to Speculor about the visit we had in May from Robusta of Flambeau and Laureus of Bonisagus. Jovinus mentioned books at Petrusca on magic theory, Hermetic Lore and the history of Normandy. I wondered whether this was an invitation to Speculor to spend some time at Petrusca to study from these books. I would be glad to spend time there myself but there are subjects other than Normandy and the Order that I would prefer to study, and no doubt a gift of some sort would have to be given in payment. Speculor told us about the contents of his letter over dinner because he wanted the views of his sodales on the two visitors. In the end, he said he was intending to reply saying that the pair appeared to be far more interested in the Cult of Mithras than in Mercurian magic, and yet more fond of arguing between themselves. He mentioned that he was going to invite Jovinus to visit us at the equinox, when we had some expectation of the two researchers coming back here in order to see for themselves the path from the glade of Mars.
Somewhat later in the evening, when some of my sodales and I were relaxing with the visitor, Aversus brought up the subject of Robusta and Laureus again. He asked how we found them and we all agreed that they appeared rather wrapped up in their own concerns. Aversus' view was that they talked overmuch and he felt that this might be to hide something. By the time we had finished talking over this possibility, we had become convinced that it was possible that the pair really did know where to look for the Mithraic temple which would lead them into our regio, in much the same way that one can get into it from Nantes cathedral. The best response was to set off for Normandy as quickly as possible. They had the advantage of more information and a considerable start, but we may yet beat them to it.
I am taking advantage of Aversus' visit to send a letter to Buviniolus about the problem with the field fae and what we found out about them recently. It may be that he can suggest a way to tempt them back.
The group who are to seek the Mithraic temple in Normandy set out today. Floristan is going because he has the Gentle Gift so is better able to ask about among the mundane populace for information that might help find the place. He will take his shield grog Stephan, leaving Farrukh behind since he is far too likely to draw attention. Iuris Perita was to go, partly to use Intellego spells to seek the place and partly, I think, to keep an eye on Floristan but she was not with the others when they set off. This is both very puzzling, and rather worrying since I do not know or trust Floristan sufficiently to entrust covenant business, and property to him. There was a suggestion that Joach should go, since he has been there before, but he was not at all keen and would slow the party down, so Caspar, who was one of those sent into Normandy to rescue Joach, and Abel, who used to live there, were selected to find the way to Alencon. They have also taken William, Constantine's favourite, since we understand that the people there speak a dialect more like that used by the nobility in England than what is spoken around here, and William speaks this language and is a very presentable and well-spoken young man who may well have more success in gathering information than Floristan. They are to walk to St.Brieuc then go by sea to Caen, then up river to Sées and then towards Alencon on foot, unless they gather any information en route that leads them more directly to their goal.
I was delighted today to receive a letter from Gwénolé. She seems to want to be friends again. She says she forgives me over the matter of Séanna. Of course, I do not think that I am to blame that Buviniolus took her, as is his right, and am fairly certain that the girl will see it as having been a change to her own advantage, but there is no sense in doing anything other than accepting the forgiveness as part of rebuilding my relationship with Gwénolé. The letter goes on to tell me that they have resolved the matter of Alan Kerbol's heritage and that the tree he turned into has slipped into a regio of its own. I shall write back and ask her advice about the field fae.
Gwénolé has replied very quickly. She offers the same idea for communicating with the fae as I wished I could have done at mid-Summer, that is, to make oneself as small as they are. She brought about this transformation for herself and for me once before. Her suggested approach to the spell is to not just reduce one's own size but to treat it as a shape-changing spell to turn oneself into a little faerie, possibly including elements of faerie magic. I need to invent a suitable spell to do this, which I am sure will be possible, but it will take time. I will prepare for this by exchanging a few thoughts on the matter with Gwénolé since she has a far greater understanding of faerie magic than I do as yet. I am sure she will be happy to offer her advice. I am very much hoping I can persuade her to pay us a visit here for the Harvest or the Autumn equinox and that she will take me with her, made small, to talk our field fae into returning.
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