Isaiah's Journal Session 2

4th day of Shevat, 48910 (18 January 1220 Gregorian calendar)

When last I wrote, I had finished tending to the wounded of the Bynnewalle covenant, and which of the mundanes from the village had also made the trip to the silver mine. Dalton laid out elaborate plans for a construction of physical defenses of the silver mine, using his Arts to loosen the dirt surrounding the entrance in order to construct ditches, and earthen wall, and an interior ramp. Guillaume was disdainful of the need for a physical defense, and others with more militaristic training pointed out to Dalton the infeasibility of constructing a double wall with mere hours available. The young quaesitor was convinced to accept a more modest defensive system, though one that still left him and the able-bodied men of the covenant exhausted from moving such large amounts of earth in such a short period of time. It seemed to me that exhausting the men of fighting capabilities prior to an expected attack was of questionable tactical value, but this is not my area of expertise.

The refugees in the mine were clearly uncomfortable around me. I couldn't tell if it were my Gift, my ancestry, or my previous time at Bynnewalle. I am fairly certain that Glenda could place me — she is now the head cook at Bynnewalle — and she seemed to see nothing wrong with my being there, but she was always relatively open-minded. It is unfortunate that more of the others couldn't look past my heritage and note that I was the one treating their injuries, but such is the way of the world.

Prior to sundown, I spent my remaining time talking with Tristan. Unsurprisingly, his Arts have followed the practices of Ambrose quite directly, relying on magics to enhance his natural prowess. I feel for my old friend; the strain has been intense on him, and though a gauntlet is itself stressful, these attacks are far more than he should have had to face yet. He seemed as mystified by the lack of a protective Aegis at the silver mine as I was; he reports that the covenant renewed both its Aegis and that at the covenant proper at the winter solstice. He can't be sure when the Aegis failed, as he was too accustomed to it to be aware of it as an outside force. Apparently, Brangwyn had developed a blood magic ritual that allowed all of the apprentices to participate in the ritual, even without knowing the the spell or having a written copy present. I must hope that either Brangwyn can be found, or Tyceline restored, or that they at least left a written copy available. Assuming that this ritual is not diabolic, it could represent a significant contribution to Hermetic practice. More immediately, if my suspicions are correct that Lucian has been evaluating us as a possible covenant, this could give us a way to set up an Aegis without requiring a large number of texts of that spell and the Wizard's Communion. He also told us that there was a magical construct named Viviana who was assisting Tyceline as well; we had not noted her but a subsequent visit to Condercum might uncover her.

He also revealed that there are other villages which have endured attacks in the past few weeks. Some of the survivors have fled to Newcastle, but that town is not disposed to absorbing all of the refugees. It seems possible that if the other magi from Bynnewalle cannot be located, we will need to reestablish the covenant there; the villagers have nowhere else to go, and the Order cannot afford to lose the magical resources that still need to be recovered. Tristan has said that each return to the covenant has shown more items missing than can be accounted for by their salvaging, so someone else is depleting the resources. Still, it is a daunting task; anything capable of overcoming the Aegis of a covenant like Bynnewalle, with multiple archmagi contributing to it, is likely strong enough to crush our group with little difficulty. We must hope that even in his falling, Ambrose was able to inflict heavy losses on his enemies.

After sundown, Atria and I joined in the effort of constructing defenses. Atria worked spontaneous magics to create brambles along the entryway to the mine, to slow any possible attackers. I used those brambles to anchor numerous instances of Weaver's Trap of Webs to further ensnare any hostile individuals. Atria and Dalton were exhausted by their repeated spontaneous magics, as were the mundanes required to cart loads of dirt for hours. Tristan was likewise weary from his extended defensive efforts over the past two weeks, so Guillaume volunteered to keep guard all night. I opted to join him on the second watch, allowing Tristan to join him for the less demanding first watch, and Atria and Dalton to take the 3rd watch. Lucian took no watch at all; he seems quite distant at times, as if the dangers here are of no concern to him.

It was during my watch that Atria awoke screaming about an attack. It appears that she had two dreams; one, relating to the fall of the Bynnewalle covenant which I will need to question her about in more detail later, and one of an attack on our compatriots on the way back from examining the covenant. It was her woodsman she focused most on — I'm not sure she even noticed whether the other members of the party were all there as well — but she was very distraught. She demanded that we do something to save him, but was less than forthcoming about how that was even possible. She was quite insistent that the attack was either about to take place, or currently in progress, but was not particularly helpful in explaining out where this attack was or would take place. Admittedly, she is one of the least clear individuals I've encountered in years, even among magi. Finally, we were able to get from her that her two visions took place at the same location, and as the one about the fall of the covenant in the first place clearly took place just outside the covenant's walls, the attack on our compatriots must be there as well.

Many of the others awoke to her screamings. At first, Dalton seemed content to leave the exploratory party to fend for themselves. When we did managed to get the location of the attack out of the crone, I awoke Lucian to explain the situation and secure use of his horse — he gruffly granted permission then promptly went back to sleep, as if it were a mere nuisance to him. At this point, Dalton wished to go himself, leaving the more logical rescue party at the mine. I argued that unless Lucian himself wished to join us, the only rational choice was to send Guilluame — the magus most capable of battlefield magics of all present — to the site of the known attack, rather than leaving him behind to guard against the possibility of an attack on the mine. Dalton then planned to join him on the horse, at which I must admit that I lost my temper and told him quite bluntly that I was both capable of defending myself if the battle were still in process, and was the only person who would be capable of treating any injured parties needing immediate attention. I am finding myself becoming less tactful in the face of our mission's authority figures than is my predilection.

We arrived in the immediate aftermath of a battle. An undead monstrosity lay in pieces on the ground, and the mercenary Frederico lay unconscious and gushing blood from a mangled leg while the others stood around debating what to do. Their indecision could well have cost him his life, or at least his leg, had I not arrived just in time. The best I can say for them is that at least they didn't make it any worse with inept treatment, but I would have expected at least someone to know enough to stanch wounds. I got his wound stabilized, and though he was unconscious we were able to get him onto Lucian's horse and back to the silver mine.

Our exploratory party seems to have made disastrous decisions in their exploration of the Bynnewalle covenant. Ambrose's body was visible in the courtyard, so we must conclude that he has fallen, as impossible as it is to believe. They started prudently enough, announcing themselves prior to entering any magus' sanctum, and clearing out of Brangwyn's when a disembodied voice challenged their daring to enter her realm. Asketil's sanctum had apparently been searched, with many items removed, but it remained in better repair than some of the others'. Within, a chest was found which released what they described as waves of fear whenever opened, causing the searcher to jump back in surprise and let the chest reshut. Several of them ascended to the balcony above Ambrose's quarters, from where the girl Sarah noticed humanoid shapes matching the description of the attackers moving about in the courtyard. The party reassembled in the second floor corridor, but were unable to get back to the first floor due to these creatures entering the first floor and ascending the stairs. From reports, Cornelius was able to use his Torrent to keep the creatures at bay, while Frederico held the top of the stairs with his swords. The strange little girl Cuirc managed to convince the magi, somehow, to open the chest and toss it down the stairs, where it broke open, and a skull crashed to the base of the stairs. This made it obvious that the chest had been shielded, as the fear became powerful enough to make several individuals sick. Ysle managed to work the ladders together to give the party a chance to escape out of Ambrose's balcony, but it was unable to reach the ground. However, it was long enough to reach the window to Nicholas' study, where they took refuge, having noticed that the seal was still present on his door.

Inside, Nicholas was dead and decomposing, but the laboratory was clearly untouched; it was as messy as one would expect of Nicholas, but not ransacked. I suspect he somehow warded his lab. The party began investigating the items present, even going so far as to try on his rings without properly investigating them in a safe fashion. I would have expected more prudence from Ysle, especially as she traces descent from Nicholas and knows how nasty he can be. Or could be, I should say. John noted a figure much larger than the others present approach, after which the party could hear the sounds of walls being knocked in in other parts of the covenant.

Cuirc found a secret mechanism under a lectern, leading into an underground laboratory, where she began trying on more equipment in a reckless fashion, and tossing other items to the others. Among them are a helmet that seems to have telepathic properties, gloves that increase perceptive abilities, a blade on which Cuirc was uncommunicative, and boots that greatly enhance the strength of those in contact with the ground. They also uncovered one of the same creatures in a cage, chained to the wall. Frederico apparently wanted to kill it, while Ysle and Cornelius conversed with it instead, Cornelius going so far as to feed it the corpses of mice, from which it drained the blood and asked for more — and idea they got after it showed interest in John's blood when Cuirc inexplicably bit him on the ear and spit the blood at the creature. She later took advantage of a distraction caused by Cornelius triggering a trap that set loose sheets of notes on fire — ruining them and the knowledge they contained — to feed the creature Kinsis with a notable amount of her own blood.

This weird fae girl somehow had enough sway over the others to convince them to bind Kinsis' hands and let him out of his cage, supposedly to help them find a magic sword. It bounded up the stairs in just a few leaps, and when let back into the main portion of Nicholas' lab it immediately leaped out the window and ran off into the distance. John noticed the large figure in the distance leave immediately upon Kinsis' release, so the group decided to return to the silver mine, to aid our defense.

They were shortly set upon by a giant of a creature, 12 to 14 feet in height, and seemingly made of randomly stitched together muscle and bone with little regard to natural plans. It was large and strong enough to use a tree trunk as a club, and attacked with no effort to talk to the party first. Frederico's swords, John's arrows, and Ysle's Crystal Darts managed to fell the beast, at the cost of Frederico's maimed leg. Thankfully, I have reason to believe that it will recover without the need for raw vis; that concentrated from the corpse of the creature would not have been sufficient.

We've now made it back to the mine, and the sun has risen. There was no attack on the mine over night, which likely means there are a limited number of these creatures in the region. We are exhausted, and have yet to uncover the source of the attack, though from the descriptions of the creatures, I suspect that there must be an Infernal connection. Frederico is severely injured, and will need weeks to recover. Morale is low, with several individuals feeling overwhelmed, and many are seemingly on the edge of violence against Cuirc. I'm not sure what this coming day has in store for us, but I can only hope it goes better than our first.

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