Isaiah's Journal Session 1

3rd day of Shevat, 4980 (17 January 1220, Gregorian calendar)

This morning was the gathering at the covenant in Utrecht. Lucian ex Guernicus, a Quaesitor in high standing within the Order, had gathered a group of recently gauntleted magi and several companions to meet with Garius ex Miscellaneus, an unGifted messenger who had dark tidings of Bynnewalle. The information Garius provided is dark indeed; a week before he had come upon the covenant and seen it in ruins. The stone had crumbled and caved in at several locations; he claimed it was obvious that much of the space dedicated to the companions and grogs was destroyed, though he knew not what fate befell the library, or several of the research wings. Before he had a chance to explore the devastation, he sensed movement and felt pursuit, from which he fled by means of an invested device enabling flight. His statements lacked much in the way of specifics, though he made repeated statements about “the eyes” following him, though none were what about these eyes was so disturbing. He was insistent that they were of human distance above the ground, though, and not beasts such as wolves.

Of the magi of the covenant, all he could say was that he believed Ambrose ex Flambeau to be dead. At the least, a very large man lay unmoving, crushed beneath a large stone. From my recollections of Ambrose, had he life in his body a mere stone, no matter how large, would have little chance of standing in his way; if the body seen was indeed his, it is likely to be but his mortal remains. Garius did not draw close enough to get any further detail. He could say nothing about the fate of Asketil, or that of his laboratory.

In his flight, he encountered another refugee, who claimed that others had fled to the silver mine. Garius did not visit the mine, nor did he visit the fortress at Condercum where Tyceline ex Crimaon keeps her sanctum.

Lucian has gathered a collection of magi to investigate the occurrence at Bynnewalle. It is clear to me that I have been chosen in large part because of my early years there as an apprentice. Perhaps it would surprise others to find that it was Lucian who insisted on my inclusion, and not Batholmeus, my parens. Such people are unlikely to know Batholomeus in great depth. While I am indebted to Batholomeus for the majority of my magical training – and in particular the basis in magical theory he provided and the prestige within the Order that comes from direct descent from Bonisagus himself – my parens’ recent forays into politics within the Order have made him more ruthless than before, and he was ever the harsh master. I fear he has not quite forgiven me for passing my gauntlet on the first trial, and thus depriving him of my assistance in the lab for a few more seasons after I became competent enough to perform not insignificant aid.

The leader of our mission is a young Guernicus by name Dalton. Though nothing has been formally spelled out, my impression is that this is the first missions he is leading in his role of Quaesitor; that is, I believe he may have handled some smaller missions on his own. I believe he is self-conscious with Lucian looking over his shoulder on this mission, recording notes as he does so; it is the most logical explanation of some apparently un-Quaesitori actions, such as requesting that Garius submit to mental examination of his memories of the events.

The other magi chosen for this mission leave me suspecting that Lucian is not only testing Dalton, but the rest of us as well. We are a surprisingly diverse collection of Houses, nearly all within a few years of passing our gauntlets. I think it likely that we are being groomed for possible incorporation as a Spring covenant. Strikingly, though of course one never speaks of age among magi, I believe it likely that I am the youngest of us, and perhaps by a considerable mark. This is not terribly unusual for me – I began my apprenticeship younger than most – but unless I miss my guess, a few of these magi will need use of a longevity potion within a few years, and yet all seem to be only recently their own masters.

Ysle ex Verditius is one with whom I think I shall enjoy working. Though limited in her ability to work her Arts with but voice and gesture like all of her lineage, the Verditius way of incorporating magic into physical devices surpasses even that which we of Bonisagus have yet managed to delineate into properly theorized magic. Her inclusion in this group is the most logical; she is the grandfilia of Nicholas, and her magic is said to closely resemble his in flavor. If the covenant has indeed fallen, she is a good choice to puzzle out some of his creations.

Atria ex Miscellaneus is a former hedge witch whose mysterious ways and witchy demeanor cloaked an actual Gift for divination and visions. Her hands are already clenched with age, and her face warty, and she claims that she was 20 when faced with a requirement to join the Order or face execution. She chose the former. Lucian tells us that she reported dreams of dark tidings weeks ago which seem to link to events at Bynnewalle; I’ve not yet heard the details. While I have little use for divinations, I can’t help but recognize that her abilities seem genuine. Perhaps she will also reveal a knowledge of herbalism; it’s been too long ignored in Hermetic theory regarding healing and disease, and there could be insights there which she doesn’t even know she possesses, if someone could separate the useful workings of magic from the superstitions that build up among the informally trained.

She brought with her a woodsman by the name of John. He seemed properly respectful of the magi, and has said little; I believe he knows enough to keep his tongue still when others discuss things outside his expertise. He seemed surprisingly unaffected by the magical auras projected by many of those present. I wonder if he is insensitive to magic, or just unconcerned. Perhaps he will consent to some experimentation.

Guillaume ex Flambeau is as is expected from a Flambeau: dedicated to violence, though in his case with Perdo, rather than Ignem. As a student of Creo myself, I can’t help but note that his dedication is to the easier Technique of destruction than the more useful one of creation. Still, his dedication to a single Art is to be respected; without experts within each Art, we would not have the books needed for future generations of students. Perhaps he will survive long enough to record his insights, so that they will not be lost to time.

Cornelius ex Jerbiton breaks the mold of his house a little, being a scion of merchants rather than of nobility. The Gift is calm in him; I didn’t notice anyone flinch from his presence. He seems showy, but not as subtle with his Arts as I expect from a Jerbiton. This may be due to his also advanced age, having not started his apprenticeship until after finishing a mundane scholar’s education. He was accompanied by his brother Sextus, of whom I have little impression thus far.

Lucian also assembled two other mundanes. Marsilia is an educated widow whose specialty lies in languages; she can speak more than most magi, and can even write in several; this may prove especially useful if we need to recover Bynnewalle’s library. Accompanying her is a hotheaded man named Frederico, a man seemingly much taken with himself and with the ladies. His tendency to touch his weapons so quickly leave me questioning his ability to handle situations not best served by violence.

After Garius was interrogated, we chose to head over to the Bynnewalle region. While Dalton advocated heading first to the covenant, I suggested that we seek out Tyceline at her sanctum in Condercum, on the basis that if the covenant really had suffered such structural deprivation, our investigation would benefit greatly from a Terram archmaga’s assistance. Ysle backed me up, expressing reluctance to enter a covenant without a formal invitation if at least one member of it still remained. Ysle’s views may well be colored by her descent from Nicholas, but from my memories of my time at Bynnewalle, I cannot blame her.

At Condercum, we discovered that the fortress had shrunk notably, and was transformed into a white crystalline rock – the walls, the door, all of it. Atria gesticulated wildly, muttering to herself, and tasting the rock before telling us that it tasted of twilight, and also salt. We announced ourselves, to no answer, and a lack of a sanctum symbol on the entrance made Dalton decide that we should enter by force, the windows being too high to reach. Our grogs were unable to open the door, as the hinges themselves had been turned to salt. Cornelius chose to blast the hinges with a torrent of water, dissolving them in a matter of minutes. When our grogs could not gain a hold of the door, I called forth the Charge of the Angry Winds to knock it over; it crashed upon the entryway with a resounding thud, but was so thick that it did not even crack, let alone shatter.

At the top of the stairs to the next floor we found Tyceline’s mark of sanctum. Pounding on the door and calling out our names and intentions brought no response. Cornelius began to gesture for another Torrent when he was stopped. I expressed concern that another toppling door would destroy part of her sanctum and damage anyone trapped inside, as perhaps Tyceline was caught in Wizard’s Twilight, while Ysle pointed out the danger of dissolving either the salt floor on which we stood or the staircase we had ascended. We returned to the outside, where Dalton recalled that he had learned the Charm of the Feathered Body, and levitated himself up to the window of Tyceline’s sanctum. Seeing a silvery statue inside which did not respond to his hails, he entered with a torch and found her unresponsive, though he was able to reach the salt statue of a young apprentice of hers with Mentem magic. The apprentice was unable to provide helpful answers, and from Dalton’s descriptions of the scene all that I could tell him was that she was in the midst of performing some sort of Terram ritual when she was frozen. I did point out that it was impossible that she was in Final Twilight, however, as she was still physically present, even if her mind was unreachable. Dalton proposed leaving the apprentice there, though this angered Lucian enough that Lucian levitated into the sanctum and transformed the apprentice back to flesh, though Lucian was visibly shaken by the difficulty involved. I was able to determine that the apprentice, Jacob, was suffering from nothing more than malnourishment and dehydration, so we were able to transport him in a litter and get some food and drink into his system.

We next headed toward the mine; while Dalton wished to see to the covenant, I refused to take the poor boy into danger until he had a chance to recover some. I am normally deferential toward authority, but I do not back down when the good of my patient is concerned. We compromised, and headed toward the silver mine, where the refugees were said to have gathered; it was likely to provide a safer respite for my charge, and we needed to investigate it as well.

Along the way, we met a distinctly odd group of travelers. Two were young women, perhaps little more than girls: a hearty one by the name of Sarah, and a diminuitive one known as Cuirc. The third was a knight by the name of Guy. Cuirc was uncommunicative, Sarah was belligerent, but Ivan conveyed that he had been hired to look after Sarah. All three were seeking the Bynnewalle covenant, but provided no reason for their desire to go there even when asked directly. One did let slip that Cuirc in particular was seeking a magus named (Kaben’s magus’ name), though why he would be at the covenant is entirely unclear, as none of us – Dalton, who leads the mission; Lucian, an experienced Quaesitor who organized it; nor me, who actually lived at the covenant for 5 years – had ever heard of this individual before. At last, Henry, a relatively dimwitted soldier from the covenant recognized Guy as a hedge knight working for Gavin, and thus we found a reason to let them join forces with us.

At the mine, we were met by Tristan, Ambrose’s apprentice who should rightly have been preparing for his gauntlet. Instead, he has organized the refugees, and seems to be their sole source of the Arts. He was obviously relieved at our arrival, and told us of nightly attacks by mindless emaciated automata which have left nearly all their fighting force injured; Tristan himself was limping visibly. I immediately went to tend to the wounded, and by the time I finished I found that only Lucian, Dalton, Guillaume, Atria, and Marsilia had stayed at the mine; the others had left to explore the covenant for a short time before sunset. Marsilia is cataloging the books which have been recovered, while Guillaume prepares defenses. I do hope the others return with a report of the state of the covenant before nightfall and the attack we’ve been told to expect. Tristan is more on edge than I ever recall seeing him, though the appearance of full members of the Order has obviously reassured him greatly. Several of those I’ve tended are still shaking, though I can tell it is a disorder of the mind, not of the body.

In any event, my plan is clear. At nightfall I will renew my Parma Magica, and make sure that all in our defensive force receive the healing they need to be effective for tonight; they will be able to begin natural healing only once they are in a place of sufficient safety that the earlier start on their recuperation doesn’t come at the expense of a risk of being overrun by attackers. My battle magics are meager compared to that of a Flambeau, but I may be able to perceive what twists the bodies of these attackers so, or at least hold them back with a sufficient gale. Beyond that, I am likely to be called on to deal with any injuries which accrue, though our greater magical forces should reduce our side’s casualties substantially. If we are fortunate, the others will return soon and there will be no attack, but it is safer to have contingencies prepared for.

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