It being the year that common men call 1211 AD, my former master, Ulfric of Verditius arrived at Kettle Crag whereat, he intended to establish a new covenant which was to be registered as Profundus. The business of acquisition and rebuilding the hillside farm to make it suitable had been carried out, ahead under the supervision of our Steward, Baldwyne.
It was a long journey by land and by sea to these cold and inhospitable shores. I only hope that the secrets and ancient magic said to be strong in these isles, compensates for the weather and the damp. Since the port of Rye, where we landed, to this windswept moorland, it has hardly ceased raining. There are squalls and howling gales all through the night. In Jorvik that commoners now call York, the shutters on the inn windows rattled all night so that I found sleep was nigh on impossible.
There we met with two of the other mages who wished to join the new covenant. I found them uncommunicative. The last, Saphone, met with us outside the town. He is a Criamon. I suppose the markings which he wears all over his spare frame, would have attracted too much attention inside the walls.
It was not a glad party that arrived to view our new home. There had been little spoken between the mages, the baggage handlers grumbled and wanted to be paid more and the grogs muttered about being better treated and paid as soldiers abroad. It was only thanks to the Steward's underling who is nicknamed "Shrewd" that we did not lose some of them in York. When the two mercenaries were released, upon the arrival of two men employed by our covenant, I was much relieved. Gorwing seemed at ease with countryfolk as we passed through the villages and seems competent. Brannulf was more reticent but he handled himself adequately, dealing with the horses, so we had no more troubles, there.
Thus we approached Kettle Crag for the first time. The way up winds back on itself, passing through a cut in a layer of grey limestone which I am told was arranged to offer a defensive "choke point". There is a small wooden tower and sentry point, here where we were greeted and the gate held open for us by a tall grog warrior who I am told is named Leofric. The covenant looked muddy and uninmpressive, a far cry from some of the burghs of the Rhein or covenants of the Magyar and Frankish lands . The main hall and our living quarters are the only buildings that are wholly of stone. The rest is mostly wood, wattle and thatch. Everything looks and smells damp. The cold, here, is full of water and chills my bones. It is not what I had hoped for. Ulfric said nothing but departed to his laboratory, at once, to view the arrangements made. Later, I heard his yelling at Baldwyne. I do not think this is what he hoped for, either.
That evening, we dined together in the council chamber. Ulfric did not join us. We were served with roast lamb and root vegetables all covered with what the locals call "a good gravy" This seems to be thick and full of fat. I imagine it became popular because it helps stave off the cold. There was red wine which was passable. The cook, a Tom Yardley, came in and was audacious enough to beg his leave but was the food to the liking of the masters. He got short reply and was quickly ushered out by Scathlock, "Shrewd", who seems to have a much better idea what is needed, here. Scathlock had bargained in York for us and now hung some dried fruits and nuts dipped in spices, in each corner so that the room began to smell pungent and more pleasant. When the log fire was built up, the cold almost receded altogether. We sat huddled for some time, there, each reflecting on what we had come to, I think. At length, there was a little discussion and I learned that the Flambeau, Tempestus, grew impatient with the masters at his original covenant and called them "a line of old men, waiting to die". The Bjornaer, Claven, had issues with his master and wished to put distance between them. His former covenant will be one of the nearest to ours, being on the moors of the North-East Riding. His master sounds a daunting and grim man. Let us hope we do not have to ask for the assistance of those sodales. I fear that we will be begging favours in our first years, here. There is no stock of vis as I would have expected at any properly run covenant nor have we access to all the supplies that we may require. The port which lies west of us, Ravenglas, is a small one, we have been told. Carlisle is dominion territory and Lancaster is a good way from us.
Three days have past and Ulfric has refused to come out of his sanctum where he says he is busy. I believe he may be contemplating and sulking. But yestereve was more cheerful. A bard arrived whom they call Cwllwch. He played upon the lute and made light for a while while we ate and talked of ambitions. Afterwards, he grew more serious and played a long epic saga-tale, singing of the Manx Fae who live just across the water to the west and are said to be amongst the most powerful of fae known to all the many and diverse sodales in the Order of Hermes. He sang of Fynoderee who was banished for loving a mortal maid and missing important festivals in the fae calendar. In anger, the lord of the fae did smite this poor fool with a curse that turned him into a thing like a satyr of the old places, a fynoderee (hairy one). In after times, he is said to have performed odd feats for the human settlers and they leave out food and clothing in return but he is cursed that he cannot enjoy these comforts. Then Cwllwch broke into a little of the manx tongue which is truly horrible to hear. I have had him write down a verse of what the cursed Fynoderee was said to have sung;
Bayrn da'n choine, dy doogh dan choine,
Cooat da'n dreeym, dy doogh da'n dreeym,
Breechyn da'n toyn, dy doogh da'n toyn,
Agh my she lhiat ooiley, shob cha nee lhiat Glen reagh Rushen.
Which I am told means
Cap for the head, alas, poor head.
Coat for the back, alas, poor back.
Breeches for the legs, alas, poor legs.
If these be all thine, thine cannot be the merry Glen of Rushen.
I did not make complete sense of the last line but I am told that there is no merriment thereabouts since the curse was placed on Fynoderee and he started to howl and sing sorrowfully of his fate. It was a well executed song. We sent Shrewd to invite Ulfric to join us for this, but my former master apparently said it was all foolishness and he had no time for such things. Strangely, I actually felt that, for the first time, I had understood some of the mood and the magic of this land.
Today, being the seventh since we arrived, we gathered in council to review the grogs and servants who have decided they would like to stay and take employment. Before we began, however, we learned that a recap had arrived, bearing some news and keen to see the council of this new covenant. He turned out to be a lean fellow in black, tiered robes, a red skull cap covering his balding head. He introduced himself as Marcus of House Mercere. Ulfric actually emerged from his rooms but only long enough to hear the words of the redcap and to be short with us all, saying that as we called ourselves mages, we could surely get on with the business of administration without his say so. He would go along with our choices as long as he is kept clothed, fed and able to study without more pointless interruptions. I do not know what my old master is busy with but I now believe he had wanted unbroken and undisturbed time for some thing of his own which he had been waiting to start as soon as he was away from his old covenant and had privacy. So it was, that we had each potential servant brought before us in turn and decided who would be appointed to the most necessary tasks in the covenant. We asked Marcus to remain and offer his thoughts.
Having first re-affirmed Baldwyne as Steward, we asked him to proceed with the introductions. Jack Scathlock, "Shrewd" was first in. We immediately accepted his offer to stay but held short of his request to be recognised as deputy steward to Baldwyn, giving him some authority over our resources by calling him Trade Manager. Baldwyne seemed pleased that Shrewd had not succeeded in obtaining the title that he really wanted. Perhaps Baldwyne senses a challenge to his authority. But Shrewd is young, yet and Baldwyne, although an experienced steward will not last forever nor do I think this climate will be kind to him. Shrewd provided information on the financial arrangements which it seems have not only left us with a debt of some 500lbs of silver but also an obligation to ensure the local landowner's quarry works without issue, thus meaning that we must find the means to protect it from bandits, accident and even war. This commits us to always leaving some force at the covenant, capable of responding to such issues. We were not well pleased. Later, Baldwyne began to explain the situation, himself. We did not let him know that we had heard this, already. He seemed embarrassed at the deal he had made. We did not pass judgement, at this time.
We saw a number of others. Like my sodales, I believe what we have is a crowd of misfits whose inability to settle in the local villages or to normal labours have driven them to seek something more. There are a handful, only, who have some history of service with covenants or their families have such. We sized up the leading warriors with a view to appointing shield grogs but as yet, none of us have taken that step. I, for one, decided I would observe them at work before I made up my mind.
The turb sergeant is a somewhat dull-witted man called Cragwyn. We understand that the others call him "Crags" He seems able enough in matters of discipline and has the respect of the grogs. We liked the look of the saracen, Azir, who has an air of competence about him. A difficult man to be seen with us, too frequently unless we resort to magic to disguise his nature but one who appears to be a veteran in combat and can easily best most of the other grogs, we hear. We were also glad to retain the services of the bard, Cwllwch. Although he is a traveller, I believe that his curiosity will bring him upon our sorties in search of mystery. The cook, Tom Yardley, the shepherd Jed, and a builder, Hod all put forward cases to do more than their appointed tasks. We have said we will consider what they have said. There may be more to these men than meets the eye, of course. More interesting were Ronan Fisher, an irish wayfarer and Brannulf, the stable master. They also requested to speak and asked of us, the same. The first appears to be a jack of all trades who has turned his hand to many a thing. He may prove useful, particularly, for now, as our groundskeeper. His hunting and fishing skills will certainly save buying as much from the markets and indeed, he provided some good trout for our supper on the next day. Brannulf, we had already marked out. He seems at ease with the peasant folk and he is eager to please, making him a ready servant.
There was also a scholar, by name, Owain, who it seems is some sort of indentured servant to the Bishop of Carlisle, the most eminent of the dominion's people in these parts. This Owain knows of our order and indeed, it seemed from the pleasantries exchanged as well as the nods from Marcus, the redcap, that Owain had been advised to see us by the Mercere. His request was simple - to exchange some of his skills, which include law, scribing latin and good academic knowledge for an opportunity to study in the library and to learn more of the mystery. He gave out that he is already on similar terms with two other covenants. His clothing and general upkeep, although tidy, were those of a poor man. I do not think the Bishop prizes his intellectuals as much as he ought. Time will tell if Owain is leaning towards the House of Hermes or the House of the Christians.
Twas the twelfth day since we arrived here and I have started to doubt if I was wise to be part of the same covenant as my old master. In the few minutes that Ulfric will take to join us for a meal or as he emerges, wanting texts from the library, he seeks always to belittle me. He forgets himself. I may be his junior and his former apprentice but I am a better copyist than he and, dare I say it, a more original thinker than my master as I shall prove, one day, soon. My other sodales are pleasant enough to work with. Tempestus, who made me wary, is not a destructive Flambeau of the sort I have seen serving the Quisatores, in Europe but seems more inclined to think before acting. He speaks well and is rarely silent at council. The Criamon, Saphone, seems less interested in most matters but does not grow irritable or vague when involved in discussion. The Bjornaer, Claven, seems quiet and inward looking but I expected something of that sort. He is still under the shadow of his master, too, I think. I have some sympathy with his position.
In the afternoon of this day, we were disturbed by a great banging at the gates of the stockade and swiftly, Shrewd came seeking us to say that there were armed men at our gate. A force of them remained below the path up, on the main trail but three had come to the gates and one looked well armoured enough to be a knight. He also made something of Baldwyne's failure to warn us sooner. Sergeant Cragwyn, it seems, had matters in hand and the men were duly admitted. The leader, a somewhat arrogant man burst into the council chamber demanding our help. He had come, he said, from the lord of the lands about, the Baron of Kendal, Lord De Lancastre. This knight then explained that there was trouble in the village of Hamelside and that his men and the dominion had been unable to deal with it. He turned now, to us and seemed impatient for an answer that would confirm it could just be done, like that. In giving answer, Saphone now showed strength and did not waver before the man's stare as he explained, twice, that we would look but could not say what we could do until then. I think he was so strained with the issue, he would have had us come that evening had we said yea. As it was, we wished for some time to prepare and discuss the matter.
It fell out like this. This Hamelside had once been a Roman settlement, dominated by a fort. In digging to prepare ground for new houses, the workers had uncovered part of a building. This is not uncommon, we were told. There have been many Roman remains found. However, a night or two after, ghostly forms started to appear, frightening the townsfolk and their livestock. This had grown worse and resulted in at least two deaths as well as cows not giving milk. I should say that word has got back to the Baron for this knight seemed most agitated. The Bishop had despatched priests to exercise the apparitions to no avail. So, it seems, now, the mundanes suddenly need us. He asked if we might put out that we were come from Furness Abbey and were churchmen, all. We said neither yea or nay to this but agreed we would certainly not talk of our real identities.
He departed in better mood when we said we would come on the day following. We are to meet he or his servant outside the village on the old road which the Romans built to march their soldiers in times past.
It is the thirteenth day since we came to Kettle Crag. We have chosen Brannulf to guide the wagon and accompany those of us who will go on this mission. Also, will go, Azir and Cwllwch. Fearing this may be a trap to lure us and then destroy us and the covenant, the majority of our force will stay, here, in readiness. Cragwyn has been instructed to position his men to defend against hostile insurgents. I will also stay. My powers with the undead are not tested. One of us must be ready to assist in the defence and Ulfric will show no interest. Better to use magic if we must than to sacrifice an unacceptable number of our grogs.
Here, then, is the tale of the haunting, as related by Cwllwch, so that I might record it in this log of our doings. Upon the road to Hamelside, the party remained largely closeted in the wagon. Azir, carefully hooded against his true nature and Cwllwch acted as outriders. As they passed through villages, there was evidence of an outbreak of swine fever. In one village, a woman who appeared to be some kind of hedge-witch, turned on them and said she knew what they were, inciting the villagers to jeer and cry out for them to be on their way. This experience suggests that word had passed from some source and that the local "wise woman" believes our nature will be to intrude. In Hamelside, things were little better. Rumour had reached ears of mages who were the cause of the haunting. Our party were to give out that they had come from Furness Abbey and thus would avoid difficulties.
At the inn, Brannulf discovered a scholar was staying who had an interest in what had been unearthed. He was persuaded to speak with the others and some information was exchanged. Tempestus, Saphone and Claven learned that there had been haunting, previously but it was only the dim lines of soldiers seen on occasion whereas they had become aggressive, in particular the shade of a centurion who changed his appearance to be hideous and gave great fright to man and beast. Mundanes had even died of failure of the heart and mind. This spirit was obviously angry and had some strength which they must combat. The party set about finding information on the ruins and anything that had been removed. Cwllwch reports that he and Brannulf worked inns and markets while my three sodales asked questions of the headman and the scholar. They concluded that a chest full of items had been removed from the site, amongst which was a skull pierced through with the remains of a Roman weapon. Thinking the disturbance had perhaps brought about the haunting, they purposed to return the pieces and to proceed to set watch, that night.
Upon the first night, they made contact with the angered spirit. During this contact, they believed that they crossed into the first regio of the spirit plane and were thus somewhat disadvantaged. The centurion would not obey their attempts to control and calm it and, in fact, made efforts to bring even more fear, causing at least one death in the process. An aged man at the inn died of fright when confronted with the shade. This caused many guests to start threatening to depart. Cwllwch was deployed by my sodales to calm the situation by entertaining the sleepless guests so that they did not leave and were kept away from the corridors where the hauntings were concentrated. Some still departed so on the following day, my sodales rested and their grogs set about finding supplies and information on what people knew of any other sorcerer or witch that had come forth to Hamelside in recent weeks.
The angry spirit tried to drive the party away with threats and an explanation that it had been forced to accept orders such that it would bring about the death of every inhabitant one by one until the mages left this whole region and did not return. It seems we are not wanted although by whom, it is not clear other than they have the gift which suggests another covenant. Adopting a communion, the three sodales put forth their power and banished the centurion's spirit while it roamed at the inn, hurling items manifested through poltergeist activity. In this struggle, they forced from the spirit, proof that it had been bound by a green stone. When morning came and all was quiet, they returned to the ruin and removed the skull which they learned was a source of a small amount of corpus vis. In a wall that was created by imaginem, they found a small piece of green turquoise, a stone from foreign parts. Setting to work with this artefact, they were able to banish the noisesome spirit altogether but not before forcing it to tell them something that suggested it had been called forth by one of the living. This came as confirmation to them, on top of the Imaginem magic that had been used to conceal the item. They returned to the covenant and made me aware of that matter. At first,I suspected that they might think I could have been the one who set this situation in motion but shortly, their questioning fell to those who might bear our covenant ill.
As we were roused from our studies, some of us took the opportunity to travel to Jorvik, there hoping to find tools and items of better quality than we had been provided. Whilst buying supplies and looking around the large market, there, we witnessed some trouble between local folk and what turned out to be a small Jewish party. That evening, the trouble widened and we saw jews being clubbed and beaten during a riot and protest. This trouble seemed to stem from activity by a templar group who had recently arrived back from crusades in the araby. As we tried to avoid the disturbance, a young lad ran into us and begged for protection. A small mob were on his heels and we swiftly debated what to do. Ravienne De Bretagne decided the issue, drawing his blade and backed by his friend, Erryn, they stood up to the townspeople, warning them off. Not wishing to press their attack in the face of armoured men with weapons, the mob retreated but threats were made. Ravienne was not prepared to be admonished for his action and stated that he would undertake to get the boy to the east coast where we understood that a jewish trader was waiting to help his fellows escape the growing violence. We decided that fate had dealt us a hand and we should play it out, accordingly.
This decision led to our first physical conflict with mundanes. A small party of templars purused us from Jorvik, perhaps informed of who we were. They came on us around twilight of the second day, calling us heretics and demonaics who would burn in hell. When reason failed to calm matters, they moved to attack us. I am sorry to report that we used our powers to defend ourselves, concerned that we might otherwise risk casualties amongst our grogs, though they were prepared and took a brave stance. I got to see Ravienne de Bretagne fight alongside Erryn, Leofric and Gorwing. These four were strong and fast. With our help, they overcame and slew the templars. We thought it best that we did not proclaim our victory for fear of a crusade against our covenant or even the whole order. The bodies were buried near the road and a cairn raised over them. Tempestus used fire to seal it and we placed a cross, as they were Christians, on the top of this stone tomb. Let us hope no questions result from this action. We then carried on to the coast and there put the lad onto a small ship that waited at Whitby. This done, we returned by divers routes across the moors and dales to our home, giving Jorvik a wide berth.
This year having passed by without further note, the mages getting on quietly with their own studies, has enabled us to settle to life in this wet and chilling place. I had thought my old covenant of little comfort but this place is worse. The wind blows continuously and the rain, ah, the rain. It does not fall but is rather hurled. It sometimes sweeps through in sheets which soak everything. The grogs' houses leak and they grumble. One has left us already, complaining that even campaigning in winter was better. I fear my master's lack of attention to the mundane matters of living and maintaining a covenant will be our undoing if we do not address the issue. I have been ill, again and much given to discomfort in mind and body.
The debt we are in weighs heavily upon us. In the depths of Winter when the wind did bite most unforgiving, one from House Gurenicus did come to our gate accompanied by his guards and a redcap unknown to us. A long discussion of our situation ensued. The result of this is that a covenant beyond the isles in the realm of Normandie has underwritten the majority of our debt for three years in exchange for which Tempestus, on the recommendation of his old master, has returned to France. He will serve with the Inquisatores in that wider realm who have need of Flambeau mages. Thus was his laboratory sealed. Now we are but four. Perhaps Master Ulfric has no care for longevity of this place once his experiments are done. We also learned during this time that a local churchman, probably backed by the dominion's authorities had learned of our presence and started to preach against us from the pulpits of churches in the local villages. This does not bode well.
The rest of the Winter months passed with few visitors and even fewer reasons for cheer. The food has been poor and the conditions, harsh. I thought the heavy snows and winds of Eastern Europe were bad but this interminable damp in the air makes the weather here harder to bear. I think I shall catch a fatal chill and thus become the first of my kind to die from a bad cold. I was ill over Winter with bad colds and headaches that interrupted much of my work. I have seen little of my sodales whom I imagine are closeted in their own chambers, reading or experimenting.
Against the expectation of all, Master Ulfric has emerged from his laboratory. He seems pleased with himself and was smiling and talking to people for two days. In that time, he called us together and spoke of increasing the number of mages at the covenant. He had received a letter which he opened while we were present. It recommended two mages seeking a place to establish themselves. It seems that Tempestus has been a great success with House Guernicus and that they have spoken with certain masters who are seeking to find placements for their apprentices.
Furthermore, Baldwyne had left us a seperate letter asking about the possibility of a third, unknown mage who also wants to find a covenant in this northern country. We were charged by my master to investigate and to decide whether these new sodales should be accepted into our fold. Also to find resources such that another laboratory could be built and to stop the grogs from moaning and leaving us. Two more have departed, of late so now we are down to just eighteen servants in all and less than thirty even considering their spouses and children. All of this will have a detrimental effect on our studies but my master is correct that action needs to be taken and in freeing funds and resources, he has made this possible.
The best news of all is that the local lord whom we served in the matter of the spirit has agreed that the covenant shall now run the slate quarry nearby to this place rather than just protecting it. The profits that will be had even after paying the lord's fee, should help us. There are seventeen men and women who live around that place and see to the quarrying. We will need to pay attention to their situation, also. Baldwyne has confirmed that there have been slips and collapses. Perhaps some terram magic would be of help in making the quarry more stable. And then, he reports, there are robbers in the hills who have stolen livestock and even pony trains carrying the slate. Despite these things, which are not outwith the powers of mages to correct, the slate income may yet pay for new roofs and doors for our servants.
Having been roused from our chambers by the arrival of two newcomers, we will spend a few weeks, now, looking at matters around and within the covenant. It is clear that Master Ulfric has no desire to act so we must do so or expect to lose more of our men. The two mages whom Ulfric had offered places seem pleasant enough. The Criamon, Mihael is quiet and studious. Methinks he will be sucked up into his own research into the mysteries and have little interest in mundane matters. I urged him to consider the needs of the covenant. Dimitri seems a capital fellow, very forward and ready to assist. He is a Tytalus and most interested in pitting his skills against any challenge. He speaks of the fae and their powers. I suspect he will find out about those by facing down seelie or unseelie at some time. I hope he is circumspect in his actions at that time. Meanwhile, his assistance in dealing with the mundanes will be useful. He seems a mage who is not going to let self interest rule over the general needs of the sodales.
There has been much issue in recruiting workers and in establishing good local trade. The Vicar, Father Careag Moloney has taken against us most strongly and daily preaches about the evil of devil worhsippers in the midst of the villages, calling us Lucifer's agents who creep into the bosom of men as the serpent did beguile Eve. His influence causes the local folk to shun our sevants and refuse to sell anything to them, publically.
It was suggested by Baldwyne that we might acquaint ourselves with Ravenglas, the largest town and port in the area as well as look for specialist supplies while Shrewd, Dana and Brannulf traded for certain essentials which were required. There was also an order for certain stock which Baldwyne had bought and was to be delivered into our hands. Owain the scribe accompanied us as did the turb sergeant, Cragwyn, turb guard Leofric and another turb guard, Ganrier. Owain told us that Ravenglas was once a Roman settlement with baths when it was called Eskdde and may have been once called Avenglass or Blue River after the river at whose mouth it was built. There had been a large Roman fort high in the pass above, possibly called Mediobogdun. As we climbed the Hardknott Pass, Brannulf introduced us to a group of drovers. He seemed well acquainted with these folk who drive sheep and cattle from one place to another for sale or to move them between winter and summer pasture. They had news and tales to impart and were eager for what events had befallen the villages to the south. In such ways do the rumours and reports reach folk of the villages and hamlets.Whilst we tarried there, trying to stay in the background while the chat went on, we did note a lad calling hawks from the skies. On enquiring through Brannulf, we learned his name was Ralph and that he had an uncanny control over animals and birds. Brought to speak with us, he delighted in the attention and called windhovers to his wrist, made the sheepdogs dance about him and showed us a ferret which he kept in his jacket sleeve. Clearly, the boy has something of the gift but to what extent it will stay with him when he passes through the change to manhood remains to be seen. Many children possess some power but most lose it in their early teenage years. Thinking Claven would be most interested in the boy, I asked him if he would return to see the lad in a year or two but to my surprise, he shook his head and spoke with some disdain saying the animals did not respond to a gentle gift but out of fear. Such power was not to his taste and he would have none of encouraging its growth.
Ravenglas was a dull place with little to compare to Jorvik. We did detect some residual power of the spirit world around the old Roman baths. Upon enquiring, we heard a tale of a ghostly Roman army that marches out to do battle at the same time every year, so it was said, in the high pass beside the old fort. We resolved to make a special journey in time to sit and behold that event in the next year. Such an occurence would be bound to have some residual power and we might be able to return with some vis as a result. On our return, we had tidings of illegal activity in the quarry. Two families, the Barrows and the Stillwells live in the hills hereabouts. These rough people do bully and fright the local folk into paying them for their protection and carry on with stealing of sheep, cattle and one thing and another. It seems they used our quarry to coral stolen beasts and yea, sell them there, too. That matter we took in hand and warned them off with threats of reprisal on both sides.
Our intervention at the quarry seems to have put an end to one bad practice, at least. The sale of stolen sheep was not to be desired on our property nor association with the two families who were responsible. We are given to understand that they have many relations in the hills about and most live a hand to mouth existence, partaking in numerous activities of a nefarious or at best questionable nature. The thanks received from several local sheep farmers has stood us in good stead, temporarily. Shrewd reports that he has been able to secure food and supplies at better prices and we shall not lack for decent mutton and cuts of lamb this winter. Only Ulfric was not present but he would have considered it foolish detail, I am sure. For my part, I feel happier within, knowing we have made our mark in the local lands. It is important to demonstrate that a covenant will not be easily cowed.
In addition, the increase in supply coupled with men seeking autumn and winter work has brought two new grogs to our doors. One, a young scout whom we took with us on the trip to the quarry. They call him Will Surefoot. He has now confirmed that he wishes to stay in our employ. I think he was impressed by the handling of the vagrant Barrows at the quarry and the way that they skulked off when confronted. The other claims to be a cook. It would be good if he were more capable than Tom Yardley whose fayre is usually edible but rarely attractive.
I, Owain of Raglan, Scholar of Oxford and other places have been asked to record the happenings which I witnessed in the year of our lord, twelve hundred and twelve. Twas the early Autumn when the Bishop, my master, approached me with a priest unknown and a quiet man who stayed in the background throughout. My master spoke of the covenant and his knowledge of my dealings with the mages there and other places in the course of my learning. I nodded and said indeed it was so and that, in my experience, there were mages who were devout men and women as well as those who actively pursued the servants of Satan. It seemed his grace knew of these matters for he also gave opinion that we should not pre-judge such men and women and they are,also, part of our flock and thus, in the eyes of the lord, need guidance to protect their souls. At length, he came to the matter of Caldbeck. The village is of particular note for it was here that blessed St Kentigern caused a spring to gush forth holy water whereat many a man and woman have been restored to health, not just by Kentigern but by St Mungo after whom the church, there, is devoted. It seems that there are new ways of digging wealth from the rocks and that this mining will bring prosperity to all if it goes ahead in the hills above the village. His grace seemed quite supportive and mentioned that the coffers of pur church will always need conytributions so that we may save the poor and needy, build and repair churches and pay the stipends that support our own priests and those who do good work.
I asked what was it that required the attention of the mages for although I know they can find precious metals by divining, that is considered a craft of the pagans and one to be strongly discouraged, yea, even seen as witchcraft amongst villagers. His grace replied that there had been some strange troubles and, despite the efforts of the new vicar, the hauntings or whatever evil was afoot had persisted to the point where the mining could not continue. This matter, he said, was one for those of the peculiar talents which mages possess. He entreated me to approach the covenant and explain that his grace would be grateful should the mages attend to the matter in the name of the church. He also stressed to me that I should ask the mages to be most careful not to reveal their true natures to the peasantry. If this was agreed, he would write to the local priest, brother Stephen of Furness and explain the matter.
Thus, as Autumn turned the leaves from green to gold and brown, I trudged up the muddy trail that leads to Kettle Crag and there, presented myself to the mages. They listened and asked questions. At first, I thought them reluctant to intercede but after some debate, they agreed that it would be in the best interests of all. Mihael, Dimitri, Saphone and Claven would attend to the matter. I was to go as intermediary and they chose three of their servants, Craggs, Gorwing and Tom Yardley to accompany them. It seems that the mages proceed with less guards than is usual because they are expecting trouble at the local slate quarry. The Barrows and Stillwells have taken against them, I was told by Ronan. These men are bandits living sinfully in the hills, taking that which does not belong to them and forcing the maidenhead of some unfortunate women against their wills.
We journeyed unremarkably to Caldbeck, some two days and a little more distant. On the first night, we stopped at a remote farm and the Bjornaer mage, Claven helped with a poorly animal. We were much welcomed at the farmhouse table after that. Even Mihael was able to eat without censure and he is a strange individual and one who even I find a little disturbing. Upon our arrival, we were greeted fairly by Brother Stephen but almost at once, the Vicar, a burly man with a thick accent pushed past and berated us all, calling the mages heretics and the spawn of Satan. The exchange was angry but he must have been told of our coming by letters from the Bishop for although he wished to see us off, he clearly did not have that authority and parted with threatening words that the covenant had not heard the last of this, instructing the priest who is below him in the hierarchy of the church that he was not to allow the holy church and places of the blessed saints to be defiled by these sinners and pagans.
This slightly disturbing meeting having ended, we chose to set up a tent from the wagon, thus saving the priest from further embarrassment. He and I ate together in the vestry, that evening and I explained my part in the expedition. Brother Stephen seemed more open to the assistance offered and impressed by the letters from his grace, the Bishop. Next morning, therefore, we were introduced to a man who is the chief miner. He spoke of tunnels collapsing, timber shoring giving way and strange voices in the dark. He drew attanetion to all the props being broken in the same place which he said was more than merely unusual. The mages seemed to take all this as quite normal and exhorted him to tell more of his tale but the man seemed embarrassed by it. He took the group up to the mine entrance and explained more about the actual events. Once again, he was beset by questions that hinted at a presence but he shied away from this. The mages thanked him, professing their expertise to be in exorcisms and giving out that they were churchmen.
The mages took some time deciding upon a course of action but eventually proceeded into the mine. They did not seem to feel it was necessary to take their servants and despatched Gorwing and Tom Yardley to the wagon. At length, a strange voice was heard. The mages covened outside the mine, again to discuss their thoughts on the evidence they had gathered. Having discussed this, they entered once more and there saw revealed, a strange being which they named as a troll. This creature was man like and yet no human, being able to blend with the colours of rock and possessing magic which was demonstrated when the mages tried to proceed. This troll told them that neither the mine shaft nor the cavernous corridor which had been found were to be used by people or he would grow angry and do bad things including causing the church to fall down, again. This was of interest for we knew that at least two previous churches had collapsed. It would seem that this creature or his forebears have the power to so affect the earth that bringing down even the house of our lord is not beyond them. The mages, again, seemed unsurprised by events. They retired to consider the options for dealing with this troll. I was given to understand that this creature was unseelie or dark fae, to place a type of race upon him. They did not doubt his power to do was he said.
At length, the mages decided that Craggs would use his carving skills to fashion an animal which they would offer as a means to finding out what the troll wanted or might bargain over. The group decided that a duck, by virtue of being a winged beast and thus unusual to a troll of the dark, might intrigue the creature. The fae have oft been known to take pleasure in unusual things, I was told. Having set that in motion, the mages went to look at the holy spring accompanied by myself and Brother Stephen. Having examined it, they concluded that the power in the water must emanate elsewhere although I believe they withheld this knowledge from Brother Stephen who would prefer to believe that it originates at the Spring where the blessed Kentigern called it into being. As a scholar, I could appreciate that things are not always as they appear and although a miracle explained is less of a momentous thing, it is good to enquire and to find proofs.
The next morning, we proceeded to the waterfall which the mages believed might feed the underground waterway as well as it feeds the river. This proved most fascinating. Having perceived something we others could not see, two of the mages stepped into the shallows of the pool and promptly vanished from our view. The others held back, saying that it was likely their comrades had crossed the boundary of a regio. As I understand it, there are regions of the land which appear to mortals as part of their world but have layers which they cannot see but fae and other beings can cross into so they may be in parallel and yet not aware of one another. In the pool, the two mages, Clavon and Dimitri spoke with fae of the water. Returning some moments later, they told us what had befallen them. They were led beyond the waterfall into a grotto of beauty and there conversed with the fae of the water about the troll. The water fae promised information on how to defeat the troll in exchange for certain promises. One was that mankind should not destroy or otherwise damage the waterfall and the immediate area about it. The second was about the times that church bells are rung. We considered this second request before I went ahead to prepare the ground with Brother Stephen. Having secured some form of agreement on the matter, Brother Stephen accompanied us to the waterfall pool. It seemed that he wanted to see for himself, that there were things in the world beyond his teachings. The two mages, Clavon and Dimitri entered the water and asked permission to bring others. This was granted and so I and Brother Stephen joined them. This was my first encounter with fae and I find it hard to set down a description that does them justice. At first, all I saw was sparkling upon the water, like small patches of sunlight that moved and jumped up, spraying small fountains of water outwards. But then, I perceived that where the fountains sprung up, small people of grace and beauty stood in a group, watching us. Their faces were pale, their skin smooth and unsullied, eyes all blue with no pupils and hair that seemed to tumble and move like restless waterfalls pouring into a pool. Having passed some pleasantries, the mages spoke to the fae who were present.
They learned that the troll was considered a nuisance by these folk, particularly because he would foul the waters feeding the waterfall and, presumably, the spring, too. They spoke of Kentigern as a mage and told a tale of how he dealt with the evil and much more powerful brother of the troll that we met. The brother they called "The Bowder" and "The Crusher", telling how he had devoured humans and caused much grief for all. The mage bound him in stone and as a stone he appears. They told that taking a piece of his "flesh" would render our troll unable to use his magic against us and that it could be used to bargain with him. Some of the group disliked this outcome. There had already been some sympathy for the troll for it was his domain that man had invaded, they said. For my part, I could not see how this was relevant. A troll is a beast of evil and a fae of shadowlands. Yet, the mages of Profundus debated and at length, agreed that they would not proceed agressively unless forced. They seem a most moderately tempered group. I suspect they will do well for being careful of their actions amongst communities. They seemed at pains to conceal their true natures which not all mages that I have met have any concern about. The fae also made further demands upon our group, requiring future payment from the mages against a forfeit. I did not hear their speech for the two mages and the fae leaders were out of earshot. I gather it involved a member of the covenant visiting them or some such. (GM - Owain himself is forfeited to the fae in the event that the bargain is bnot completed).
In the end, it fell out like this. The mages, myself and Gorwing travelled to the head of Borrowdale, leaving Craggs and Yardley in Caldbeck. There, we seized a lump of rock from the "Bowder Stone" a great boulder perched on the valley side. Some of the mages told me that they saw the rock become a great troll bound in bands of iron like metal, unable to move or even to speak, this when the clouds covered the moon. For my part, I saw naught but a great rock. I perceive that the magical eye and talent are bound together. In many ways, I envy them the second sight of that which most mortals only dream about. And yet, I also am glad, in many ways, that most of us cannot be troubled by such as this. The idea of a troll the size of that great rock is a terrifying thought. Imagine what it could wreak it if were tio be freed. Best that few have such power. With power comes great responsibility. I give thanks that the House of Hermes has its Inquisatores who ensure there is good governance amongst the order.
Having thus secured the rock, we travelled back to Caldbeck and waited for a day so that Craggs might finish his carving. This done, the mages left all bar myself in the village, cast protection upon themselves and went to the mine to meet with the troll a second time. Having attracted the attention of the creature which appeared larger and more ugly than before, they first offered the duck made of wood. The troll seemed taken with this and swept it up with a delighted manner. Then he negotiated over the rights regarding his caverns. In the end it was settled easily enough. No human should set foot into the left hand passage, ever for this was the domain of the troll folk. The right hand passage and anything in that direction could be mined provided people were not over greedy and did not take too much at one time. In return, every so many passages of the moon, the people of the village must place a carved animal from the upper worlds at the opening of the left hand passage and leave it when they go home for the night. As long as this is done, the troll will remain friendly towards the miners and villagers. Dire threats were made on what might happen if the word of the party was broken. The troll then relented on this attitude and took us into his cavern which is immense and flooded. He tore a piece of blue crystal, embedded in a rock matrix and gave it to the mage, Clavon who had done the majority of the talking. The mages thanked him greatly for this raw gift and when we left, the troll used his magic to place a rock wall across the entrance to the left passage, thus sealing it, perhaps for evermore.
The mages seemed most pleased with the outcome and went back to the village to report. The mining will now begin in Spring. Both priest and people are happy. Brother Stephen has seen things beyond his reckoning and has even tasted the shield of magic upon him so he knows there is no evil taint in it, a most unsually open young man, he is not as most in the church and a far cry from his vicar-general. I think the people of Caldbeck will do well. I just hope in time, they do not forget the importance of the bargains agreed on their behalf. For my part, I have witnessed magic and met fae. I am also content.
Here endeth the account of Caldbeck and the journal to the close of 1212.