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Ever since Floristan returned from the Temple of Mithras, we have been thinking of ways to ensure that other magi cannot take possession of the location, a back door into our regio. Iuris Perita has advised that the soundest way to lay claim is to establish a Chapter House at the chapel. None of us want to go and live there. Since Floristan is but newly arrived, I did think he might be persuaded as he has hardly had time to get settled in here. I thought he might set up a hunting lodge there, where he could pose as mundane nobility, if he wished. He is the only one of us who currently has the means to pop back to Caribet if he needed anything; with his Seven League Stride, he could come here for dinner every day should he wish to. He has been collecting pieces of rock from suitable outcrops as close as possible to the direct line between the chapel and the covenant and so I believe he could manage the entire journey in about a minute. The main problem with having Floristan there is that he cannot summon up the magic necessary to see through the regio boundary. When Speculor eventually has the time, Council could usefully have him create a devise to help those so challenged.
The decision of Council is that grogs be sent. One eager volunteer was Marc, the young hunter who is so often the victim of faerie tricks when he is out in the forest here abouts. A couple of the men from the fields are to go along too. A wooden cottage is to be erected for them, adjacent to the ruins of the chapel. It is to be hoped that they find suitable wives locally and settle down there. Floristan will go periodically to check up on them. We cannot wait for Speculor to get back, and they are setting out today. Unlike Speculor, who is travelling overland in the wagon, these people will be able to go by boat as Floristan did in the first instance, so they will only take about a week, if the weather is favourable. Iuris Perita is to inform Objurgator and Petrusca of our new Chapter House. I fear that Robusta and Laureus may be rather upset about this but no doubt they will find something of value at Noviodunum and I hope they will not bother about us.
I have chosen today, the full moon, to transfer the pawn of vis from one of the golden acorns to the faerie acorn cup. I have set the cup in a little nest of oak leaves that I gathered from beneath Quercus' tree where it will rest in my laboratory for the next few weeks while the new faerie acorn grows inside it.
The village of Caribet has taken on a faerie aura today. Not the brittle Bright Winter that we had last mid-winter, nor quite full Bright Summer, but more a sense of Quercus' realm of the fruitful oak, laden with acorns as the leaves begin to turn to gold.
Speculor was in the regio first thing this morning and the rest of us joined him quite early in the day. Firstly we went to the Glade of Mars and examined the remains of the pillars there. The markings on them are an exact match to those on the pillars concealed in the Temple of Mithras. Speculor used Intellego Terram to locate the sockets that the damaged pillars should be set into. They were close to the metal chain across the obscured path, as we expected, but sunk quite a lot deeper into the earth than we anticipated. We excavated where Speculor said they were and uncovered both.Both are quite worn. We tried fitting the damaged pillars into them but the sockets are too badly worn. I wanted to use Rego Terram to straighten and smooth the sockets. I am sure it would have worked out alright but my sodales were unconvinced, fearing that I might somehow damage the sockets irreparably, and would not allow me to attempt this.
Since Speculor's investigative magic had been successful in the Glade of Fire, we then went to Water to try it there. We have the pillars from under the water, but had not yet found where to fit them. Speculor soon found the right places. Then we went to the Glade of Air, where so many pieces of stone lie at the foot of the cliff. From amongst the rubble, magic soon identified the component pieces of four pillars. We had expected only two, but there is no doubt that there are four here, and bits of sockets too, but the whole needs to be reassembled at the top of the cliff before we can make use of any of these pillars.
It was still quite early in the day. A plan was formed to send Floristan to the Temple of Mithras via the labyrinth so he could test the whole pathway back to the Glade of Mars but then we remembered that he is unable to use Vim well enough to deal with the Regio boundary. This time next year, I may also have the means to travel there quickly as he does, and will be able to try this. The alternative plan for today was to show Floristan the Path of Earth. He is able to get back from Nantes quickly by use of his spell, so we showed him the route through the catacombs and asked him to go all the way through into the cathedral and to leave a key there so that the way be left open. Now he can stay in the regio beyond the end of the equinox to explore and, when the normal route back to the central glade and the menhir is blocked, he can go through to Nantes and jump his way back to Caribet.
For me, the most important thing to discuss was what Floristan should do as service this season. I am very keen that he write detailed notes on the spell Seven League Stride so that we can all learn this splendid way of getting around. Initially, I was wary since I had only known him to use it after levitating. It made me quail just to think of hovering in the air like that. It is not that I doubt the power of my own magic to keep me from falling; it is just that the ground is so far away and so hard. I have now had an opportunity to discuss the specific details of his own version of this spell with Floristan and find that the levitation is not actually a necessary component so it will be perfectly safe for me to learn and use his spell. It is just a Rego Corpus effect and I feel sure I shall have no difficulty in learning it once I have Floristan's notes to guide me.
Constantine performed six consecutive seasons of service before we voted on whether to admit him as a member of the covenant. Floristan will have done but five after this, and it seems to me that he grows impatient. It would in a way be fitting that we vote on whether to admit him or not at the Council meeting where we vote in the officers for the year but it is only fair that we wait until he has done at least six seasons, so he must wait until Spring or longer. He will, after all, if accepted, be entering a well set-up covenant where only one season of service is required from each member, whereas when Constantine joined, we had to give half a year each.
Elise has offered us two pawns of Terram vis in return for borrowing the Rego summa. I am very reluctant to let it go but she has not allowed any book to come to any harm as yet, and has always returned books on time so I could not refuse the vis. Perhaps she too will want to learn Floristan's spell, and will become a more frequent visitor by use of it. Constantine will do private study this season. Speculor is to have the Herbam book that I read last season.
Iuris Perita was considering taking on covenant service this autumn. I mentioned that it seemed to me about time that one of us went back to the caves near where Constantine was held thrall by the sea witch a few years ago, to discover whether the icicles of Perdo vis that we found there have regrown. If they have not, then we need never go there again, but if they have produced a pawn or two of Perdo vis in the intervening four years, we can plan to return there at intervals. Of course, it is essential that a female carry out this mission since she will see the witch for what she really is, if she is unfortunate enough to encounter her. My own service for this year is already planned, so it is right that Iuris Perita go, though she will go next season rather than right away.
Joach is clearly excited by his new project, as service, to create a device to generate fog. We feel it will be useful at times for grogs to be able to cast a concealing mist about themselves in the same way that I have done once or twice when out on the road. This device is to take the form of a gargoyle with agate eyes which, when activated, will breath out the fog. There was some discussion about whether it should generate the fog by waving a veil of some sort, but Joach decided against that, confident that Bertrand will be able to acquire suitable agates soon.
I have decided to take a rest from reading and to do some practical work. I shall devote the season to Creo Ignem effects. In particular, I wish to become thoroughly familiar with the creation of light so that I can cast Lamp without Flame very easily. I know we have a laboratory text in the library that I can use so anticipate that this will only take a few weeks. It may then be possible to also learn Arrow of Fire, or, should that prove a little too demanding, Dart of Fire.
Today is the full moon, and the day that I told Gwénolé that I would be planting the faerie acorn near the village. She arrived just in time, tinkling and glittering as she stepped through her arcadian gateway, looking even more like a fae creature herself than when last we met. I was very pleased to see her, and to find that there was no trace of her former animosity left. Indeed, she has been a great friend today to me and to the covenant. Once the acorn had been planted close to where I placed last years', she suggested that we go to try and find our former field fae, and offered to use her magic to make me a suitable size. Remembering how badly I managed my last attempt to make contact, I eagerly agreed.
First we went to the tower to collect suitable things to take as gifts. Jehan knew what we wanted before we asked, and had had some of the children weave tiny baskets of grass into which had been packed little bundles of homecakes wrapped up in fabric and a couple of minute pots of mead. Whilst we were in the tower, Gwénolé wanted to look at the acorn cup. I brought it down to the council room for her to see. She did not spend long over it; one can tell very little from a cursory inspection and I was not going to lend it to her for a season's research. Gwénolé proposed that she cast her spell to make us both tiny there and that we fly to the edge of the fields. I am afraid she was rather exasperated when I said I would fly but only close to the ground. I believe her particular reason for wanting to cast the spell some way away from the fae is that it uses a casting tool which some of the fae might find objectionable. I am not sure exactly what it is but it looks to be made of pieces of bramble woven together. She agreed that it would be satisfactory if we walked much of the way there as we were, but accompanied by Ignatius, and that he would be entrusted to gather up the casting tool when she was done with it and bring it safely back to the tower.
Once I was but four inches or so tall, it seemed a long way from the edge of the field to the boundary of the forest. Everything looked very different so it was hard to be sure but I took Gwénolé to where I thought I had spoken with the fae at the summer solstice. It did not take us long to spot a bramble faerie though it took a bit of effort to catch the attention of one sufficiently for communication. They seem rather lacking in curiosity, or perhaps they are just not very bright. This particular faerie was very spikey, showing no sign of ever having been one of those living in our fields. We said we had come from the fields. This faerie knew that the fields were dangerous but could not say what was dangerous about them. We made little progress in this line of conversation so were very glad when he suggested we might like to talk to the king, and he agreed to lead up to the Bramble Hall, if we would promise to mention that he, Bramble, had been the one to help us. The route took us through some dense bramble patches and I was very glad to find that my recent studies paid off and I could easily Rego Herbam the worst spikey bits out of my way.
We were taken to what looked like a very large harvest mouse's nest of woven grass and straw, but in a shape approximating a human cottage. Instead of being almost spherical, great pains had been taken with straw to make the structure have a flattish floor, straightish sides and a more or less pitched roof. Inside we beheld a field mouse reclining in a woven chair. It was obviously a faerie in the form of a field mouse. Gwénolé spoke up politely in greeting. The mouse rose on its hind legs and told us that it was Lord of the Hall, so we both curtsied and I offered the bundle of honey cakes as a gift. Lord Mouse seemed satisfied with the gift and in return he offered us some seeds. I was somewhat perplexed about these. I did not think that I could make an attempt to eat even one or two just as they were, but fortunately it did not appear that we were expected to consume them, at least not right away. I wondered whether there might be vis in any of them but was reluctant to cast a spell on our gift in front of the giver, so I started to put as many of the seeds as I could fit into the basket that had held the cakes. Gwénolé cast a spell to create a hempen sack which she filled with seeds until they were all gathered up. We explained that we had come from the fields in hopes of meeting the King of the Brambles. Lord Mouse said that he could arrange for us to meet the Hedge King. Without knowing whether this was the faerie we needed to see or just another step on the way, it seemed a good idea to accept the offer of a junior mouse to conduct us on our way.
We were guided along secret paths through dense undergrowth to a palace of woven grass. As we drew near, we saw self-important looking mice equipped as guards with spears and a few birds wearing golden circlets. We were take inside and led before a wren wearing a gold crown, perched on a throne. Both Gwénolé and I dropped deep curtseys. I have to believe that Gwénolé knows how to behave with the fae, so I tried to copy her whilst keeping in mind that the wren before me was the equivalent of the King of Aragon. I offered the two pots of mead, hoping they would be considered a fitting gift. Gwénolé went on to offer the seeds. This alarmed me. Not only was it now too late to find out if any of them contained vis, she might have caused offense by so readily passing on the gift from Lord Mouse. Fortunately, the gift was accepted and there was no hint of offense taken.
Formalities over, King Wren asked us a little about our home. I hesitated for a moment when asked who our king was. I decided that he probably thought on a much smaller scale than humans so it was inappropriate to mention the leaders of the Order or even the great nobility of Brittany, so I offered the name Lord Achilles. King Wren seemed happy with this, and remarked that it was all right and proper that we should owe fealty to our king as his subjects do to him. Luckily he did not pursue the subject of our relationship with Lord Achilles! When a suitable opening presented itself in the conversation, I invited the king to once again expand his realm into the adjacent fields.
The king called at once for Mole, his advisor on matters concerning the fields. The pair spoke about the Storm of Wrath that had driven the fae from the fields. I assured them both that it was long gone. The king called for another advisor, a Blackbird, and for the head of the guard, a Hedgehog, to join the discussion. Mole obviously had fond memories of the castles he had constructed in the fields when the fae lived there and he talked of tunnels and castles so enthusiastically to the king that I did not need to say anything myself in favour of the fields for a while. When the group got back onto the subject of the feel of the fields, I spoke up to tell them that I had taken measures to make the area more congenial for them by planting a very special acorn which had the effect, at special times of the year, of making the whole area round about very suitable for the fae. Mole must have been in the fields at the right time for he at once supported me. The King Wren ordered Hedgehog to summon the mouse guards so he could go and inspect the fields for himself.
Gwenole flitted ahead enthusiastically. She was all for raising up some mole hills so that the fae would find castles in the fields when they arrived. I feared that they would see that these were not their own castles and might believe that some others had invaded there, which would defeat our object. I could not dissuade her. Fortunately, Mole was not upset by her mole hills and fell at once to sending a team of his fellows to tunneling and the construction of further earthworks. Perhaps they thought the new mole hills were the remains of those they made there themselves.
When King Wren felt how comfortable the field was now, I mentioned again that I had planted a special acorn and that I would continue to do so every year, in the hopes that this would convince him that there was going to be some continuity. It was the best I could offer when he asked for reassurance that the Storm would not come back again. Once again we encouraged the king to expand his realm and reassert his authority over the fields.
While we were talking, we spotted a huge raven circling above. It was joined by two others and they started to descend. I felt so small and vulnerable. I moved to stand as close as I dared to the hedgehog, thinking that I might not be seen there. Then I tried to cast a Rego Auram spell to send a wind to drive the birds away from us. I must have been too afraid. Whilst I was failing to control the air, Gwénolé cast a spell that transformed all the ravens into toads. The toads landed with three great splats, flat on the ground. They were probably dead when they landed, but the mouse guards made very sure of it with their spears. Once again, I feared that our embassy had failed, since a danger had come upon them in the fields and we would not be able to stay to defend the fae, but the king was roused by the incident and declared that any of his subjects who wished could prove their worth by establishing a holding in this new territory.
At once the Blackbird spoke up, insisting that if the kingdom expanded, then so must the armed forces. The king did not appear to deny this request, but he didn't actually make any promises either. His majesty did make it very clear that those of us who live beyond the fields must respect his castles. I thought this might prove a serious difficulty, for we must plough the ground and walk about in the fields. Rather than say that, I reminded his majesty that when his people had lived in the fields previously, they had helped to tend the crops and that when the crops do well, there is plenty of shed grain for mice, birds and faeries. He raised no objection. I went on to remind him that some of his folk from the fields used to come to our mid-winter feast and mentioned that they would once again be very welcome, should they choose to attend. Gwénolé reinforced the invitation, since she says that the old-style feast was so much more fun. Fun or not, I was more concerned about the valuable gifts our Hermetic visitors to the event had started to bring for us.
Everything seemed to have been settled most satisfactorily and I felt sure that my sodales would be pleased, and would have no difficulty to taking care of the molehills. Gwénolé and I curtseyed and took our leave. We set off across the field on foot, which was very slow going. Then we flew far enough away so that the king and court should not see when we regained our usual size. It was a bit chilly as we had not brought any full-sized clothing with us. I was just wondering whether I would be more likely to manage something useful with Creo Animal or Creo Herbam, and thinking that Imaginem would be far more reliable as a means of concealing my nakedness when Gwénolé's Creo Herbam produced a veritable heap of well-made clothes to select from. I thanked her and chose several items to form a respectable outfit. Of course, Gwénolé's taste is rather more fae and flamboyant than my own, so I used a little Imaginem magic to adjust the appearance.
When we returned to the tower, Gwénolé astonished me by producing a gift for me. I am delighted to have this gift, a collection of texts on several useful shape-change spells, but I am worried what I can give her in return. I feel sure that I shall think of something or find something suitable before long, The spells include the one she used today, to make herself look like a bramble faerie, and several others that have a similar effect but to imitate the size and shape of fae of larger sizes, right up to the size of an ogre! All are spells that make use of aspects of faerie magic, so are unlikely to be of use to my sodales, but I am sure they will be very useful indeed to me and that when I have learnt to cast them all, I shall have a better understanding of faerie magic and I am sure that I will be able to make use of the spells' effects to learn yet more. This will help greatly with my studies of the theory of faerie magic.
Now I must do gown to dinner, and make sure that I explain to my sodales that we should avoid damage to the molehills, at least for now. Gwénolé thinks that the moles can throw their hills up with so little effort, and that they probably enjoy building them, so we should not worry unduly about this stipulation, and I very much hope that she is right.
Jimena is always busy at this time of year. She says that the cold wet weather raises dangerous miasmas which threaten the health of us all so we must keep fires burning and cover the floors with whatever we can afford to keep out the cold. I, of course, just use some Creo Ignem. She has been very busy tending our wounded grogs ever since so many were badly injured on the expedition to the labyrinth. Speculor made sure that his shield grog, Milon, was the first to take advantage of the healing bed, and he was well enough to resume light duties by the end of October. This was just as well because it was about this time that Huon's wounds became infected so he was the one to sleep in the special bed. Jimena was horrified, believing she had done everything she could to avoid such a calamity. Perhaps she was not quite as diligent as she thought, now that some of her attention is directed to training her apprentice. William was not making any discernable improvement and then Stefan's wounds also became infected. Constantine had to go to Jimena's infirmary to use Creo Corpus spells to help clear the infections from both the sick grogs. Huon then made better progress but the other two, denied use of the enchanted bed, did not improve. William will have the opportunity to use the bed throughout the coming season, now that Huon is on the mend. Council will ask Constantine to make a second enchanted bed when he next has to perform a season of service.
I was rather surprised to find that Elise had decided to travel at this difficult time of year to attend our meeting. Fortunately, she did not come to cause difficulties. Council produced no change in the official posts within the covenant. The discussion was all about activities. Floristan produced the spell descriptions we had asked for, so we now have details of Grip of the Choking Hand, Command the Obstructing Plants, and Coerce the Spirits of the Night as well as the promised Seven League Stride. It may be worth asking Elise to write out some of the spells she knows instead of offering vis next time she wants to borrow a book, but that will depend on what sort of vis she is offering, as we are still rather short of some Arts.
Joach showed off his fog-breathing gargoyle. It is a fine device for those who cannot make fog any other way, and I am sure the grogs will want to take it when they are sent out on errands. The next group to go are those who are to collect vis in the peat bogs, but they have not been allowed to take the new device this time. Joach will have the coming season to himself for study, as will Constantine. Joach has chosen to borrow the summa on Vim. I am to perform service, which is to take the form of giving lessons in Magic Theory to Arnaud the scribe. I have to say that I am not at all sure that this is going to be worth the time spent, since I doubt that a mere scribe has the mental agility and capacity to understand the intricacies of magic. Lacking any trace of the Gift, he will have no feel for magic, and can never experience the power and beauty. Despite this, my sodales think he will comprehend enough to be trusted with making copies of Hermetic texts. Speculor is to read the Creo summa. Elise is going to spend the season working on an enchantment so she can leave her servants in the tower while she is busy elsewhere. If they have a wand to move the brambles aside, they will be able to enter and leave the tower so need not be lodged in town. Fulk is, at last, going to illuminate the tractatus I wrote on aurae and regiones; I hope he will not require me to explain anything to him since I doubt he would understand and he is so rude that I might do him permanent damage.
Iuris Perita and Floristan are to do service. Iuris Perita has agreed to return to the cavern of the sea hags on the north coast to discover whether the icicles containg Perdo vis have regrown since we last gathered some there. The intention is to enter through the minor tunnels close to the exit instead of going into the main cavern. If only women go, and they are careful, they should be able to avoid encountering the sirens. As for Floristan's service, well, I made a bold proposal which I had little expectation of my sodales agreeing to but, to my delight, they agreed! Once one has learned Seven League Stride, it will be useful to have some arcane connections to places on the way to locations we will probably want to visit, and I suggested that we ask Floristan to spend the season scouting out safe and secluded places that one could stride to, and to collect connections of hard stone or metal at each. I imagine that I and probably Joach are the most likely to be able to learn and cast this particular spell soon, so I expected some opposition from the others but there was none. In fact, there was considerable enthusiasm for the notion of a string of beads, perhaps held on a metal chain, one chain for each route. We have asked for routes to both of our Chapter Houses, one from Nantes to be taken if someone uses the passage from the regio through the catacombs, and, for myself particularly, to the Valley of Mists. If he has time, he might usefully include Petrusca.
Joach cast The Bountiful Feast for us. It was a cold but fine day, with no hint of the Bright Winter invasion that took over the village this time last year. This year it took on an aspect of the woodland fae, which I found very comfortable and enjoyable. Sir Achilles held his feast for everyone living in Caribet's village, glade or fields and, I am delighted to say, the bramble faeries came to join in. They are rather spikey, being fae of the hedges still, but not spikey and mean like the fae who pinched the mundanes so hard last year. They ate and drank and danced, and sprinkled faerie dust in the wine, which had just the same effects on the imbibers as it used to. Sir Achilles proclaimed Mis-Rule with considerably greater enthusiasm than in the last couple of years, or was it urgency? We had only three outsiders visting for this feast: Gwénolé, Quercus and a faerie-seeming woman who we had not met before. I did not get an opportunity to speak to her and did not find out who she was at the time, and afterwards no-one claimed to know her.
I hope there will be one or two fae-touched girls born as a result of the night's entertainment, although some of the established couples were noticeably restrained. I gather that this was probably due to recent sermons from Edwin in which he urged restraint and chastity. He would probably have been disappointed to see that it was only those who were married to each other who took his words to heart. Since he had gone to the Hermitage that morning, it will be a while before he finds out how little-heeded his preaching was. Regardless of any other outcome of the evening's activities, I was delighted to find that there was Muto vis in the wine dregs.
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