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1150 AD
The Tribunal (Day 1)

On a chilly day with a cold wind blowing from the north I arrived at Cad Gadu for a meeting of the Stonehenge Tribunal. I had travelled with my master, William from Shrewsbury. I was eager with anticipation for I had completed my apprenticeship and passed my apprentice gauntlet. I was to be recognised as a magus in my own right!

Magi and apprentices alone were allowed into Cad Gadu. Our companions and grogs were left at the bottom of the hill, though refreshment and entertainment was provided for them. We climbed the hill in good spirit for the promise of warmth and shelter lay before us.

Entering Cad Gadu we were led to a large hall with several large circular tables and a raised dais at one end of the hall. Apprentices had to stand behind our masters while they ate warm food and drank wine. At dusk, five magi entered the hall and took their places on the raised dais.

The Praeco started the tribunal, outlining the order of events to come: 1st night - Initiation of new magi 2nd night - Deal with conflict between magi 3rd night - Issues between covenants 4th night - The founding of a new covenant

Edwin of Tytalus a magus from Blackthorn suggested that the order be altered so that the initiation of new magi come last! How dare he, after all those years, I was not willing to wait another day. It was an obvious ploy to ensure we would have no vote on the matters to come.

The Praeco overruled him. So that night we apprentices who had spent fifteen long hard years studying became magi. The pride shone on all our faces. I stood and recited my oath. I wore my finest dark blue robe, black leather boots, my black hair and trimmed beard neat as always. Among the others were:

  • Cuthbert of Bonisagus, five and a half feet tall in a dark blue robe, and sandals. His brown hair flowed down his back and he puffed out his chest as he spoke his oath
  • Allain of House Ex-Miscellanea, with trousers, shirt and cape of varying shade of brown. He had a seep scar running across his face, the ruffian. No surprise considering he’s only a hedge wizard
  • Roderick of Merinita. - slim, tall clean shaven with aquiline features and flamboyant clothes. He is another of those magi who deal too frequently with the fey for my liking.

Before we left the magi of Blackthorn tried to intimidate us but I for one do not scare so easily. It was that vile Edwin of Tytalus. I had heard that the magi of Blackthorn were bullies and it proved to be true.


The Tribunal (Day 2)

On this day I engaged in Certamen with Edwin of Tytalus. He challenged me saying I had not given him due respect. I would not back down so certamen it was. He chose Perdo and I Auram, thinking it unlikely that he would have studied this form as much as Mentem.

The contest took the appearance of two whirlwinds and we tried to destroy each others creation. He took an early lead in the contest and I conceded defeat at this stage to avoid him building up a big advantage. His spell failed to best my Parma Magica.

Edward of Tremere, another magus of Blackthorn, challenged Cuthbert. He accepted and Muto Vim was decided upon. Both magi stood still in a trance for a few moments. Then they created the forms that would represent their duel. In between them was a blue light that they twisted and altered into forms they used to attack one another. The contest raged for some time with Edward gaining the ascendance until there was a huge blinding sphere of light which he cast at Cuthbert who collapsed unconscious the moment it struck him. Edward seeing his opponent defeated rubbed salt into the wounds by waiving his right to cast a spell at the prone form of Cuthbert.


The Tribunal (Day 3)

On this day many present complained that the magi of Blackthorn were using bullying tactics to gain advantage over other magi, intimidating them into voting a certain way in tribunal. The magi of Blackthorn claimed that they had merely been lobbying other magi in an attempt to gain their vote. The issue was debated for over two hours before the presiding Quaesitor ruled that there was no proof and that therefore no action could be taken.


The Tribunal (Day 4)

Pedrog of House Jerbiton proposed that a new covenant be founded. He explained that there were few covenants in the tribunal considering its physical size and that many of the covenants were weak. Another covenant would strengthen us all. The magi of Blackthorn disagreed but were outvoted.

The location was discussed, with options including the Lake District, Wales and the Peak District. Wales was decided upon over the objections of Blackthorn. The new magi were chosen to create this new covenant. At this point Edwin offered to lead us but we declined. Funding and allowance of manpower etc. were discussed but I found it hard to concentrate. I, and the other recently appointed magi were to create our own covenant. What responsibility!


The Journey

At last! After many days of planning and preparation we set out for North Wales. The hedge wizard has with him a shifty looking fellow dressed in greys and blacks. I do not like the look of him. Cuthbert has shown his worth helping me to chose some companions for our new covenant. We have a fine cook, several guards, a turb sergeant with a loud commanding voice, a blacksmith and a carpenter. We had hoped for more but none could be spared. I made sure that the precious books we had been entrusted with were well wrapped up. We had some carts and a few horses for those that could ride. After a week on the road we passed through Chester, spending the night at the Pure Drop Inn, a modest but clean place run by a fat man by the name of Matthew. It suited my tastes as I was able to read in some peace. Some of the other inns are more rowdy and I noticed that a number of our fellows disappeared that evening and were the worse for wear the next morning. The perils of drink are thus made evident. We tried to hire more people but it all came to nought.

A few days later we camped at the foot of a hill. Cuthbert disappeared while I was arranging the camp. I sent men to look for him, but followed soon after when there was no news of him. He had gone through a regio to inspect the monument at the top of the hill. The stone that had appeared plain was the statue of a man. He was dressed for war and had runes on his shield. We managed to get him to speak. The runes were:

Here lies Kras-Nagar the Mighty, whose kingdom lies before you. He said that Morrigan had trapped him because of his pride. To free him we must break the spell. He was cursed to watch powerless as his mighty kingdom fell and his descendants forgot him and his people. After a lengthy series of questions and answers it became apparent that freeing Kras-Nagar from his curse would not be easy.

In the morning we move on, having decided that we were not yet capable of returning Kras-Nagar to his human form. Extensive research would be required. We would have to return when we had grown in power and learning. Shortly thereafter we arrived in Ruthin, glad to have reached some civilised place after many nights spent under canvas. The grogs remained in the common rooms of the local Inn while the Magi and a few attendants visited the Lord in his council room. He took an immediate dislike to us due to the number of English in our group. I replied, in Welsh that we were scholars just passing through. He seemed uneasy. I suggested that we could come to some sort of arrangement.

I conversed with my fellow magi, in Latin. Unfortunately for us, the local Priest spoke Latin. He asked whether we were Christians, and when we last attended mass. I replied that we were Christians but that we seldom attended mass. He did not seem convinced. He asked about our destination and why we were heading to such a remote place if we were scholars. I replied that our destination was approximately ten miles away, and that we required peace and quiet to study. At that point the Lord spoke, asking for one silver piece for every member of our party. It did not seem unreasonable so I agreed. Also it got us out of a difficult situation. We stayed the night in Ruthin.

The following day we searched Ruthin, trying to find some skilled men and although we found no mason, we did come across a parchment maker. What a stroke of good fortune. Parchment will be in great demand, in the years to come. Our luck did not hold though. Shortly after leaving Ruthin we were ambushed as we travelled through the forest. The first thing we saw were a hail of arrows coming from the bushes either side of us. A dozen brigands, in leather armour, wielding swords and spears, rushed the wagons. The grogs fought bravely and defended the wagons, aided by my spells which gave some great strength. Forked lightning came from the hands of the witch Damaura and Roderick caused the earth itself to rise up and fight them. Cuthbert used mentem magic to confuse them. We survived with no casualties, although two of our party were incapacitated. The cook showed that he is skilled in chirurgy as well as being a fine cook. We captured three of the brigands and stripped and buried the bodies. Later, when the magical confusion wore off the brigands, we questioned them. They said that their slain leader had been hired in Shrewsbury, by a robed fellow with a deep cowl. Money had changed hands. Then there was a blank in their minds until the ambush. Mentem magic must have been used. I strongly suspect the magi of Blackthorn. We suggested that they joined up with us. They agreed.


Arrival

Today we finally arrived at our destination. A ruined tower at the top of a hill in Clocaenog Forest. The well seems to be fit for use. Simon, our Grog Sergeant said that it would be difficult to defend due to the surrounding forest. The place has a strong magical aura. The nearest town or village is Ruthin. We have plentiful Vis stocks and supplies. Our library contains a large number of spell grimoires and Hermetic Texts. Sadly we have no mundane books at all. This situation will have to be rectified. We have little glassware for our laboratories so they will remain poor until we can obtain more.

I believe we may have caused the priest to be suspicious. I suspect he thinks of us as pagans. Perhaps some of us should attend mass occasionally to put his mind at rest. At least some of our covenant are Christians. We have a powerful enemy in Blackthorn and if the ambush was due to them then that is twice that they have attacked us in the space of two months. There are bound to be others that will resent us. The locals will dislike us because of the large number of Norman and Saxon folk amongst us. The buildings need repair, and a wooden palisade will need to be erected around the buildings for defence. I look forward to the forming of the covenant with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation.


The First Council Meeting

Today we decided to call a council meeting to discuss the creation of the covenant. The following items were considered to be of importance in the near future:

  • Repair of the ruined tower
  • Defences, including Aegis of the Hearth
  • Search for local Vis supplies
  • Find a source of income
  • Investigation of the locals
  • Gaining ownership of the site
  • Supplies
  • Hiring more folk
  • Local information

It was decided that myself, Caergil and Luke, along with some grogs should travel to Denbigh. There we would meet the local Lord and discuss ownership of the land. We would also try to hire some labourers, and hopefully a stonemason. If a stonemason could not be found we would ask about local stone quarries. It would also be a good time to hear gossip about the area.

Allain and Liam were to scout the wood on foot. Damaura would scout the area from the air (she has a great affinity for Auram magic and can also conceal her presence from prying eyes). Cuthbert was to oversee bringing material from the carts, at the bottom of the hill to the top. Alfred the carpenter would organise chopping some wood and start to repair the buildings.

Following the council meeting, Cuthbert lead the Aegis of the Hearth ritual that would provide magical protection for the covenant in the year to come.


Denbigh

We set off yesterday and travelled through Ruthin arriving at Denbigh, just prior to sunset. Caergil managed to bargain well with Owain, the landlord at the White Stag Inn. It is a small wattle and daub building. We decided to sleep in the stables for the private room seemed expensive. We have become used to sleeping under canvas, so this will be no great hardship. Having ordered food and ale we sat down and listened to the storyteller, Tathin, who entertained all with a tale of the fey. Afterwards Caergil told the tale of how he came to have the gruesome scars on his face. It was a tall tale but well told nevertheless. We talked with Tathin and plied him with ale. We learned that the locals are afraid of Clocaenog forest and particularly the ruined building at the top. They say the fey live in the forest and lure away unwary travellers with their haunting music.

In the morning we arranged an audience with Geraint, Lord of Denbigh. That afternoon we sat through a series of tiresome squabbles over land and sheep. Finally our turn came and Caergil and I stepped forwards. I did most of the talking while Caergil stood a pace back, hiding his hideous visage with a hood. We asked permission to live in the tower at the top of the hill, Craig Bron-Banog in Clocaenog Forest. We naturally offered to pay for the land and to pay taxes to the Lord. We were asked why we wished to live there. I replied that we were scholars searching for the Holy Grail and other legendary artefacts and that this would make a good base from which to explore. He asked if all our number were Welsh. I replied not, but that they would be attempting to learn the language (there is little chance of that, the arrogant English!). His advisor whispered in his ear the whole time. He seemed interested in the possibility of finding the Grail and the associated credit the area might gain from its retrieval. He also asked about our grogs. I said there were about twenty of us including ten soldiers. He was keen that these men might be lent to him in times of need. He asked why I had been doing all the talking. Caegil, stepped forwards and said that he had not wanted the Lord to suffer from seeing his scarred face. He is a crafty one, indeed. Finally it was decided that someone from his court should visit our covenant. In a months time all the scholars were to return and the case finally settled. The lord also made it clear that the local priest would be present at that audience, since we'd claimed to be searching for a holy relic! We were invited to stay for a feast and entertainment. There were jugglers and fire eaters but by far the best entertainment was provided by Gwyneth the Bard. She stood 5’ 8” tall, beautiful and willowy with raven black hair. She wore a dark green dress and her piercing green eyes caught everyone’s eyes. She sang of ancient chieftains and maidens from days long gone. Afterwards she told the story from the Isle of Erin, The Fate of the Children of Tuireann, one of the three great tragedies of the Gael. The telling was such that the whole audience hung on her every word. I hope that she is performing again when we return in a months time, for her talent is rare indeed.

The following day we visited the market. It bustled with activity. There were folk gaming with pigs knuckles and dice. Bloodier games such as cock-fighting were also to be seen. A wide range of produce was available, meat and foul being plentiful. Dyed clothes caught our eyes and strange scents from the East. We spoke to a stonemason who was too busy to work for us but told us the location of a nearby stone quarry. We hired a few workers to help cut trees and shape wood for the tower. Most were put off by mention of the forest and its fairy inhabitants, but a few agreed for a hefty price. None were willing to work at the tower itself. They claimed it is haunted!


The Mounds

On our return another council meeting was held where I told the other magi what had happened in Denbigh. Nobody was happy with the inconclusive outcome, the need to journey back to Denbigh and the likely presence of the local priest however it was decided to continue to repair the tower on the assumption that Lord Geraint would ultimately accept our presence.

Damaura then informed the council that she had discovered three sites that warranted further investigation. To the west lay three mounds that from above did not appear to be a natural land formation. Deep within the forest was a glade that felt unusual and to the south was a mountain range that might hold valuable ores. The council decided that the mounds should be investigated first. Allain and Roderick and I all volunteered to go and this was approved. Cuthbert was to continue overseeing repairs with the assistance of Caergil and Damaura would resume scouting the area from the skies.

Early the next morning we set out through the forest, heading for the mounds. Progress was slow due to the thick forest and steep slopes. While Damaura could complete the journey there and back within an hour it took us over a day! We had to camp out overnight next to Llyn Brenig.

Early the following morning we approached the first mound. Upon inspection we found a likely entrance facing east. We cleared away the foliage and a mixture of digging and spontaneous Rego Terram spells cleared the way to a stone. Roderick succeeded in turning it to earth, which was cleared away revealing a passageway. We lit two brands and proceeded inwards. The passageway led to a circular room with a stone sarcophagus in the centre. Various bronze burial goods and earthen pots lay about. The grogs lifted the stone cover to the sarcophagus. Inside was a mummified body. I used Intellego vim to discover that there was corpus Vis inside the heart. We cut it out, and put it safely in a pouch.

Next we moved to the largest mound. Again a potential entrance was discovered and the covering vegetation and earth which was removed to reveal another passageway. This one was about 5' tall and a tangle of roots made progress through it difficult. The passage ended at another stone door. This door had a number of faint inscriptions carved upon it but we could not decipher them. Roderick turned this one to earth and immediately a foul stench wafted onto the passageway from a chamber beyond. I tried a spontaneous rego auram spell to remove the stench but it persisted. We entered cautiously, Roderick following a grog inside. The stench hit them and the grog was sick and forced to retreat. Further auram spells failed to clear the air. We entered again. This time the source of the stench appeared out of a tunnel. It was a short decaying undead creature that may have once been a man. It's claws looked wickedly sharp and it had a piercing gaze. I immediately set about bolstering the grogs by arcane means, making them strong and turning their skin into armour to protect them. Roderick used his magic to set the earth itself against the creature and Allain tried to entangle it with roots that grew at his command. Our grogs hewed at it valiantly, the wounds it received would have killed a normal man. The creature however withstood them all and its wounds seemed to close before our very eyes. Its gaze came to rest on each grog in turn and eventually their courage left them and they fled in fear out of the mound and the magi were forced to make a hasty retreat. The creature followed and ran off into the woods. On reflection I have come to believe that the inscriptions on the stone doorway were there to keep the creature imprisoned and we have now loosed it. What damage it will wreak and what Lord Geraint will make of it I know not.

Re-entering the tomb we found the central chamber to be empty but three passageways led off it. To get into the west chamber we needed to jump across a water-filled pit. I willed the earth to move narrowing the gap. Dyfed easily jumped across. I didn't quite make it but Dyfed managed to catch me and drag me. We found another stone sarcophagus holding a mummified body that contained Corpus vis. On the way back across the pit I misjudged the leap badly and fell into the pit. The cold muddy water covered my garments. I managed to alter the earth to make handholds and climbed out. To the north was a similar chamber. On inspecting the mummy in there I discovered that the muddy water on my clothes contained Terram and Aquam vis. We collected a sample from the pit. The chamber to the east held an open sarcophagus, no doubt the resting place of the creature that attacked us.

The last mound proved similar to the first and yielded more corpus vis. We covered the entrances to the mounds to stop others discovering them and returned to the covenant.


The 3 Songs

Based on the adventure by Kevin Hassall

It is approaching Christmas. A messenger has arrived at the Covenant from Lord Geraint of Denbigh with an invitation to spend the last five evenings of the twelve days of Christmas with him. We arrive at the castle and are formally received by the Lord.

That evening we are presented to the local dignitaries including Hywel ab Iorwerth, lord of Ruthin and his niece the lady Melisandra. Hywel wears red robes and a tan belt with a silver buckle in the shape of a wolf. Lady Melisandra stands 5'2" tall with piercing clear emerald eyes and lustrous black hair flowing to her waist. She wears a green V necked dress and veil. There is a silver necklace around her neck.

The food is excellent, served in several "removes" or instalments, with the rare and highly spiced foods - including a whole roast swan, decorated with its feathers etc., as the centrepiece - served to the high table, while the lowest folk must make do with coarse brown bread, bacon, mutton and beans. Between each "remove" the lord's bard plays and a group of wandering jongleurs tumble and juggle.

An hour into this first feast, a servant approaches the high table and tells his lord that a traveller has sought shelter at the castle. “Who is he?” the lord asks. The servant didn't catch the name, but speaks of the stranger's deeply dyed red tunic and gold bangle in the shape of a dragon. The lord assumes the man to be a knight or wealthy merchant, and orders that he is found a seat on one of the better.

The stranger chats amiably and occasionally fills in gaps in the conversation with stories and as people get drunker and coarser he tells the comic story of the bird, The sausage and the mouse who set up home together, and ends with an almost pornographic poem about a young man spying on two lovers! He is a great communicator and storyteller.

As the meal ends he stand and calls out to his host, the Lord. He thanks the lord for his hospitality and says that wishes to repay him for the favour. The lord consents and the stranger calls for the bard's harp. Accompanied by the harp he begins to sing a song in an unknown language, which successfully reduces the rowdy, drunken, happy revellers into a mass of sombre, maudlin mourners, many of them sobbing into their wine glasses. At the end of the song, he bows, carries the harp back to the bard's seat, turns towards the door and leaves

That night Luke receives a love letter form Melisandra.

The next night, the stranger arrives again, just as the banquet begins. The lord welcomes him formally, clearly delighted to see him, and makes some remark about his skills so outshining those of anyone present. Gwyneth the bard, purple with rage, rises and declares that anything that the stranger can do, she too, is capable of and she takes her harp, and begins to play the Song of Sadness and soon everyone is in tears. We notice that she too is now wearing a golden bangle beneath her sleeves. When the song ends, the stranger rises and complements the bard politely, but announces that there are better ways to begin a feast. He takes the bard's harp and begins to play again. Although the stranger is dressed as before he wears a different gold bangle this time, in the shape of a heron. Soon people are clapping, dancing on the tables and laughing, with tears of joy pouring down their faces. As soon as he has finished his song, the stranger puts the harp down and turns to go.

About an hour later the bard also vanishes.

The following night, at the feast, the lord calls on the bard to play and she rises with a smug grin and begins to play the Song of Joy. Now she is wearing two bangles. Soon there is dancing on the tables again, and everyone is well set up for a night of merriment. And as the last notes of the song end, the stranger enters the hall to a warm welcome. He takes a seat and gets on with enjoying the feast, showing no animosity or anger or, indeed, any interest in the minstrel. Questions about who he is and where he comes from he simply deflects or avoids - which is easy enough, given that everyone around him has been put in a light-hearted and loud sort of a mood by the bard's song.

At the end of the feast, he rises, and says that he has one last song which he would like to play, and he dedicates it to the lord's own bard. The first few notes of the magical Lullaby will ring in the guests' ears but then the next thing that anyone knows a cock is crowing and the sleepy guests are raising their heads from the tables. Everyone has slept wonderfully through the night. The stranger and the bard are gone. The lord is disturbed. There is talk of witchcraft, faeries and demons. No one knows what to do. The lord, naturally enough, turns to us and asks us to investigate the situation.

Leaving Denbigh we search for tracks and eventually discover a large mound with doors. The doors ask us our purpose and we say we are seeking the bard. We are allowed to enter but only if we leave our weapons and armour behind. This enrages Sir Bartholomew who feels his honour has been called into question. He argues loudly but the door will not relent so eventually he acquiesces.

Inside we find the Faerie lord of the mound (the stranger) has taken the bard hostage since she stole the golden bangles. They intend to hold her until they can think of a suitable punishment, which could take decades. After some debate we agree a suitable punishment - Gwyneth is to return every year to the fairy mound and play a tune or sing a song that the Fae had not heard before.




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Last Updated:  Feb 2003
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1150AD


The Tribunal (Day 1)
The Tribunal (Day 2)
The Tribunal (Day 3)
The Tribunal (Day 4)
The Journey
Arrival
The First Council Meeting
Denbigh
The Mounds
The 3 Songs