Scribed by Branwen, in the English tongue and Ogham script

Spring 1308AD

In the year since my Mistress Deanna announced that my time as her apprentice had come to an end, I have had to adjust to a very different world than the one in which I was raised. The Order of Hermes is by turns both miraculous and ridiculous, with its lofty ideals, such as the promotion of collaboration and friendship between practitioners of magic, an inspiration that seems frequently diminished when one sees the everyday reality of our lives. This is a world where a wizard such as Naevius is able to offer me kindness and courtesy, despite his clear unfamiliarity and uncertainty with one raised such as I have been, and yet also condemn to death another sorceress merely for a spell going awry. It is a world where all are acclaimed equal at tribunal, but where political machinations and a plethora of titles limit what can be said and done. It is also a world where this covenant’s noble tradition of keeping a record of events is passed under some arcane mechanism to a young witch who has held membership for but one season and is unable to read anything of what has previously been written – a fate which will befall her own writings in regard to all others resident here. Still, I suppose tradition is in itself a thing of some importance, and while I am unsure whether others who have written here before me have made thorough record of each and every decision taken at council or chosen to express our history with a grand narrative sweep, the fact that it is likely that none other than myself shall ever be in a position to read this means I shall approach it as I will, unburdened by any particular style that has derived over the many years I understand this tradition to have been in place.

At our council meeting Jari began by telling us that there had been many changes within the faerie forest that lies within the boughs of the Forest of Dean. For many years this has been a place in the grip of winter, ruled by a faerie sorceress called the Erechwydd, but it seems that following a spell that Hypatia cast in the covenant’s battle against the evil priests called Templars there has been a change in what power holds sway there. The Queen of Winter, as Jari told me the Erechwydd is also known, has retreated leaving upon her throne a faerie of the dark earth called Tegid Foel who was once her servant but now acclaims himself a king. Jari also reported the return of another faerie who has been gone for many years but who represents a rival to the winter court. He is named Nynniaw and is titled the Lord of the Oaks. He holds his court in a place called the Summer Glade and it sounds like the power of that place is still waxing. Both Tegid Foel and Nynniaw had words of advice for Jari, who it seems is clever enough to steer a path between such powerful entities, even if not quite as clever as his own high opinion of himself would have it. Tegid Foel advised that there was likely to be some friction between Nynniaw and a faerie called Gofannon (who regards himself as King of the Undermountain – the fae are even more given to awarding themselves grand titles than wizards of the Order of Hermes). This apparently stems from another faerie called Llyn-Y-Fan being held by Gofannon when once she was an ally of Nynniaw. Nynniaw advised Jari that those who called themselves Guardians of the Forest should seek out the Golden Stag that lies somewhere in our surrounds.

Jari also reported that Nynniaw had thanked the covenant for guarding the Amaranth but that it was time for it to be returned to the fae once more. There was some discussion among the wizards at our council as to whether it had been given as a gift to the covenant but Jari counselled that they may well have considered that the custodianship of such a treasure was gift enough. Whether this is true or not I can not say, my knowledge of faerie customs is not as great as I would wish, but Jari was convincing enough that to return it was the right course of action. The other wizards wanted to know whether there might be some sort of payment for looking after it and in the end it was decided by vote that Jari should be given the responsibility to determine what should or should not be done, with all agreeing to grant him this authority save for Naevius.

The conversation next turned to the wizards from the tribunal north of our own who this tribunal last year voted to kill, despite there being some doubt as to whether they had done anything that wizards of Stonehenge have not done recently and without knowing who they were and therefore providing them no opportunity to offer a defence against the accusations made. Terentius thinks that he will be asked to assist in this hunt by others of his House, which I understand is akin to an order that he is unable to refuse unless he wants to risk being thrown out of the Order and murdered himself in a year’s time if no other House will take him in.

I digress for a moment here, as it seems from conversations that I have had that there is assumption that in the event that a wizard is thrown out of their House they will be granted automatic membership of my own House Ex Miscellanea. There is much that I need to learn about the history of the Order and how the Houses came to be formed but, given that even the Queen of the Land has taken membership of another House as soon as it were offered to her, I suspect that the frequency of the occasions on which I have been patronised by other members of this council in the time since I have been here may in part lie with older prejudices. Not all though perhaps, for I find it hard to imagine that the Princeps of this council queries every visiting wizard of my House on whether they understand the Parma Magica.

Pyrrhus said that he might also travel to Loch Leglean on this hunt but there seemed to be several caveats regarding whether there was anything that he could do which might suggest that he was not overly keen on the idea. To be honest I think there is more than a little sense in that.

It was suggested that Jari might wish to make some further investigation of what is happening within the Forest of Dean and I was asked if I might wish to accompany him. I would gladly have done so for it seems that this is considered worthy of being counted as a covenant service, which given my own interest in the forest is a blessing indeed, but I had already agreed to accompany Terentius to a place called the Grey Hill to investigate an underground regio that had previously been found by the late wizard Volutus.

Another short digression is due on the matter of covenant service. The council awarded seven pawns of vis for each service undertaken last year, a sum of vis that would have been gladly welcomed by my own mistress and a sign that membership of a covenant has real material benefits. However, I do wonder now if what seemed like kindness from the council in rejecting my offer to perform a service last season had an ulterior motive, for I had no right to any share in this bounty. It seems that there is an expectation that I shall perform one at some point this year – given such a reward this will clearly not be a grave burden. To be fair, after the council had ended Hypatia asked whether I would be able to spend a season creating some herbal poultices that will aid swiftly staunch any wounds and aid recovery. I have agreed to do this for her in Summer and she has made an extremely generous offer of payment to the sum of a rook of vis. Pyrrhus also has responsibility for granting coin to the wizards here and this is not dependant on service to the covenant. We were each given 150 pennies, a sum that I find barely believable as I write it here. If such sums are typical I will be quickly able to develop my laboratory in future so that it is more closely aligned to my art.

My visit to the Grey Hill was interesting, although it involved little investigation of the regio that Terentius had spoken of for even though he had a map we were unable to find how we might enter it. The only entrance we could find to an underground passage was close to the base of the hill and it did not match that described by Volutus. It was not a large entrance and even taking the form of a cat I was unable to venture far down its tight confines although it appears that there is a regio boundary of some sort, which Terentius detected after reducing his own size. Sadly for any further investigation, by the time that we found it there were but two weeks left of Spring and we did not feel that we had time to risk further venture. The reason for our limited time was that there are several layers of the regio that encompasses the Grey Hill and at the peak time in the mundane world passes swiftly. The sky there is full of stars and to gaze upon them is to invite visions. I had one such and saw the figures of two men who appeared to be transforming into trees, their skin petrifying as the bark grew upon it. One seemed to me to be cut down before the transformation was complete but the other became a young sapling. I then saw a dark visage, a face that seemed to me to be hewn from wood, whose eyes locked with my own. A voice spoke to me saying, ‘Do not dare enter here without the proper sacrifice and rite. Man is not welcome in my domain. Death awaits any who would dishonour the forest. Whether she wears a crown or no she is not my queen.’ I then saw an image of myself, older but not greatly so. I was brewing something with the sweet scent of cinnamon and apples, something that Deanna once taught me was a suitable offering for the dark forest god, Jack in the Green.

Terentius had chosen to cast his eyes down to the ground as we entered and avoided any vision of his own but we had also been accompanied by a friend of his called Leolf, a strange man who I believe to be one of the werewolves that reside on Lydney Hill. He also had a vision although he did not speak of it in front of me. Terentius did find a brass coin among the standing stones that lie in that place and he told me that it contained Terram vis which shall be placed into the covenant stores as the Grey Hill is recorded as a vis site of the covenant. He is an interesting man Terentius, for he can be of ill temper and has shown open scorn of others at our council, but who showed me the courtesy of treating me as an equal, seemingly without any attempt at manipulating my opinions. It is too early for me to let my guard drop however as it is clear he is a man with purpose and what that might be I do not yet know.

On our return to the covenant Jari was unsubtle in letting hint that he had quite a time of it on his own venture, but I shall have to wait until the council of summer tomorrow morning to hear the tale so that I may recount it.


At the council I relayed the vision that I had upon the Grey Hill, although I could sense a little frustration from some members of the council that my words had to be translated for the benefit of Naevius, whose English is only a little bit better than my Latin. In truth the telling was a little pointless, save to show something of the power of that mystical place, as the events that I described had already happened, relating as they did to Jari’s trip to the Heart of the Forest. He told us his story, and it was clear that the events had affected him deeply for there was very little of the glib humour that he seems to more commonly favour at our meetings. He had travelled with his companion Erik, a man from the northern lands, his familiar, the captain of the grogs and one of the turb, a man called Amaury. It sounds like the journey was difficult from the start, with the trees becoming darker and more menacing, and roots and branches impeding the passage of the men who travelled with him. Initially he had planned to enter the Heart accompanied only by Races the Wind but due to the foreboding presence of the forest his companions asked that they too might enter with him. Passing through what I understand to be a hidden path into the glade, which I understand is ringed tightly by trees in much the same way that our covenant is, they saw that the Oak tree that lies at the centre was changed, the patterns of the bark forming what looked like a giant human face perhaps 8 feet from the ground. This was as I had thought Jack of the Green and they were quickly aware that the place was now hostile in a way that it has not been in the past. Races the Wind warned that there was danger, seemingly having some sense for such – no great surprise for an enchanted hare perhaps, but there was no sign of the path to lead them back out of the glade. The dark god spoke with Jari, giving much the same message that I had sene in my vision, and as the sun began to fade Erik and Amaury began to develop a rash which swiftly started changing their skin to bark. Jari appealed to Jack of the Green but was told that his life alone of the men who had violated his sacred place would be spared, in recognition that he was a guardian of the forest. As they spoke Merrick also began to transform, although much more slowly. I suspect this is because he is clearly a man of no small constitution although I can not be certain. The god continued to speak with Jari, telling him that the acorns that had been granted in the past to the wizards would no longer fall unless the proper sacrifices were made in the future. He also asserted that Hypatia must pay homage to him if we are to live in peace in this forest. As he spoke the transformations proceeded apace and from Jari’s description it must have been harrowing indeed, as his companions cried out in their agony, begging for the wizard to do something to alleviate their fate. It sounds like the faith of the norsemen requires that death must occur with a weapon in their hand if they are to travel onwards to their halls of the dead, a place Jari called Valhalla, and Erik begged that he be slain before the transformation had reached its end. Jari agreed and Merrick, who was still only a little affected, cut him down swiftly. Amaury’s cries also came to an end as he transformed fully into a tree, a fate that would eventually have fallen on the Captain if Jari, perhaps no longer distracted by the screams of his companions, had not thought to transform him into a fox, using vis to augment a spell that he has. This seemed to quell the curse laid upon the party for the path became visible once more and the three were able to flee that place.

It is clear that Terentius holds little truck with the gods for he made it clear that he had no intention of paying homage to Jack of the Green and that even if there are rites that might assuage that beign he preferred to rely on Hermetic art. Indeed he and Pyrrhus had another of the testy exchanges that seem to characterise their relationship and which inevitably end up with our so called leader ceding to Terentius’ view. There was some discussion about what this might mean for us and our home. Jari thought that the forest started to become hostile roughly halfway between the covenant and the Heart, a distance of about half a league, suggesting that there is currently some limit to the dark god’s control of the forest. How long this might be the case is uncertain of course so I agreed to send a letter to Mistress Deana to see whether she might be willing to teach me a little more of the rites that might calm his anger towards us. I also suggested that I could spend some time talking to some of the trees within the forest to gain a little understanding of his reach, an idea that seemed well received (even if Pyrrhus once again seemed surprised that I was capable of thought) and which Jari might also undertake. Given that we have recently granted a home in the forest for the mystical wolves that Terentius calls the Great Ones it was also agreed that we should see if they are under his influence at all. Naevius rightly highlighted the need for us to warn the redcaps of this new danger and Jari agreed to bear the massage to Blackthorn following our council.

There was little else that anyone wanted to discuss save for how they planned to spend the season. Hypatia was travelling to the mundane court to see what was happening in the country, particularly in the north where the Scots and English are fighting and where the wizards, that this tribunal last year renounced, might be present. I have previously written that I planned to craft some poultices for her while she was away and everyone else planned to spend the warmest months of the year locked away in our library either studying arts or learning spells.

Over the course of the season I spent a little time, that which was available to me when not working in my laboratory or learning the Roman script from our librarian, speaking with some of the trees that encircle Severn Temple. They are clearly awakened, the spell taking little time to match their speech with my own, and they were happy to talk in exchange for a few small favours such as clearing ivy or shooing away a woodpecker. Interestingly they do not see themselves as part of the Forest of Dean, considering themselves guardians of our home. Indeed it seems that this is the only imperative that they can recall and they had little awareness of the wood that lies around them, save to comment that since they had heard sounds of battle there were a lot more trees talking to each other. Apparently, many of the wizards who have resided here in this place have planted the acorns that they received in the past from the Heart of the Forest and I plan to make further study of them in the future. I wonder if they all consider themselves so separate.

At midsummer we were visited by the faerie court of Summer, led by Nynniaw who had come to take possession of the Amaranth. Accompanying him were strange creatures called Bwbachod, which are stiff moving creatures shorter than a man with thick bark-like skin, a centaur called Jago and a Giant Stag with great antlers and a hide that was tinged green as if covered with moss. Jari, Pyrrhus and myself were the only wizards in attendance at the feast that our Merinitan had arranged. I helped with the serving of food and drink, although only the centaur fully partook with Nynniaw restricting himself to a little drink and the Bwbachod touching none of it, while Jari entertained us with his music and song. He is a talented player and I found myself enjoying the time, even while perfectly aware that the fay around us were both strange and dangerous. The Nynniaw then claimed the Amaranth once more, his twig like fingers easily lifting it from the soil in which it has been thriving, and in return offered Jari a boon for his custodianship. Jari said that there had once been a pear tree that grew in the covenant grounds, an earlier gift from the fay that had been lost, and asked whether it might be possible that a new one be planted. He was given three silvery seeds and told that they would one day prosper in good soil. Discussing it afterwards Jari told me that the tree had fruited with Muto vis so it our hope that this will be a significant boon indeed. Lucy’s skills in the garden currently outweigh my own so she agreed to plant the three seeds, doing so at a well-chosen point alongside the herb garden.

Towards the end of Summer we were visited by the redcap Gaines, who I understand is considered the senior of those members of House Mercere who reside within Stonehenge. For some reason he began by relaying news about the mundane world, which involved a lot of talk about popes, templars and a group called the Teutonic Knights, before informing us that one of the wizards from Loch Leglean had been slain. His name was Drurst and Terentius said he thought that he was the youngest of the three that had been identified. The Primus of his House believes that there are still Scottish Wizards about the region. Gaines also informed us that there had been no reply to the letters sent to the leader of the Loch Leglean tribunal so a wizard called Romanus, who is a Quaesitor and so has some legal authority within the Order of Hermes, is planning to visit the covenant of Bucholly Castle. We passed on our news about the Forest of Dean and I gave the redcap my letter for Deana. Afterwards Jari told us that he had spoken to Llandoddwyn, who was at Blackthorn when he visited earlier in the season, and he believed that the best source of information regarding Jack of the Green was probably in the texts within our library or from the lineage to which I belong. He also warned us that we should watch for any sign that the trees are impinging upon the roads nearby for my Primus had cast some spell in the recent past that had guided them away from such paths.


Hypatia had not returned for our council but the other wizards did not think that this was unusual, particularly given that Gaines had told us that her brother the King was mired in a protracted siege of a city called York where poor weather and disease were hampering his efforts. Terentius began by confirming Jari’s estimate of the influence that Jack of the Green currently has on the forest, having made an assay of where going is difficult for men. He noted that there were no issues when he and his companion Leolf had travelled in the form of wolves. He also related that the vision that his companion had upon the Grey Hill was related to the arrival of Jack of the Green. He told us that the werewolves who reside near Lydney had indicated some loss of control when venturing near the Heart of the Forest, becoming more bestial and reasoning not as a man. The Grandfather Wolf has warned his tribe to keep away from the area but said that it was easier to hear their spirit wolf than previously. Terentius also told us that the Great Ones were aware that the forest has grown wilder but had not felt the presence of the god. They have reaffirmed the bargain struck with us and do not believe any malign influence will affect them. Jari reported a little more of his conversation in Summer with Llandoddwyn. It wasn’t particularly revelatory as it focussed on why the god hates men (they chopped down the wild wood that once covered the isle) and holds no love for domesticated creatures (they were tamed by the same men). Interestingly, despite his obvious affinity with the woodlands my Primus said that his relationship with Jack of the Green was no better than any others for at the end of it all he is still a man. In response to all this news we agreed that we should scout the north and west of the forest, where there are mundane settlements that Jack of the Green might seek vengeance against. Given that we had received a windfall of the acorns from the Heart of the Forest prior to the change in that places nature there was some discussion about what we did with such a resource. I was firmly on the side of waiting to learn more and that was the position we eventually reached. We did have to vote on the status of the site however, unsurprisingly reaching the conclusion that the vis there was now contested.

Terentius said that he planned to check a nearby abbey located in a village called Tintern where an infernal enemy of the covenant had previously been present. He asked about the progress in training a new spymaster and Jari informed us that the apprentice that Vasile had been training had died of the flux. It seems that a new candidate has been identified however.

Once again, we all planned to largely remain within the covenant over the course of the season. Naevius agreed to spend a season extracting vim vis from the aura as a service to the council and I agreed to enchant the Foresters Wand with the spell Intuition of the Forest to the same end. I am able to do so in a way that allows vis to be used so that if required the enchantment can be cast on another, while still giving a fair number of uses. Once again Pyrrhus expressed surprise that I was capable of such. I am beginning to find it a little wearing to smile and act demurely to his repeated insults but until I fully understand the ripples and eddies of the relationships among the wizards in this place it seems wisest to let it pass. Most entertainingly Naevius is generally quickest to come to my defence, despite the fact that I suspect he holds similar views himself. Whether it is to do with his feelings for the Princeps or because he sees himself as a courteous man I do not know.

As planned, I found a little bit of time to speak with some more of the trees planted by wizards in the past. There is a circle of them around a dell found south and a little west of the covenant, a place that contains an infernal regio and to which I travelled with Jari. I was unable to cast the spell to speak with the trees on the first attempt, the dark feelings of the place suggestive that even from the outside of the ring there is something of a hostile aura. After a moment’s rest I tried again, and this time was successful. The trees there are in great anguish, the bitter water that they draw from the soil causing them discomfort and even pain. They spoke of shadows within, taking the form of woodland creatures as they attempt to breach the boundary that the trees had set about the place, yet never successfully. The trees here also regarded themselves as separate from the rest of the forest and said that the only purpose they have ever known was to guard this place.

Terentius travelled to Tintern Abbey as he had said he would, taking his familiar with him, a hawk that he has given the somewhat unwieldy name of Meliorax Virtus to. He found no evidence of a black script that had previously been present, no infernal wards upon the windows and no sign of infernal shadows within, although he did discover a low magnitude infernal aura in a small area within the former Abbots quarters, such being the foe that had fled from that place when unmasked.

About a week into the season Hypatia returned to the covenant and called for a meeting of the council. The change in her was immense, for instead of the surprisingly warm hearted and cheerful woman that I have encountered over the past year, here was the Dark Queen that I have heard referred to by some of the witches I have known as I have grown. She was terse, with a morose and bitter tone, as she told us that her brother was dead. He had suffered the same fate as a Knight that he had left in charge at York before the Scottish took the city, seemingly poisoned but almost certain the victim of a malign spell. The wizards of Euros Aquilae are leading an investigation, but the event happened only a few days before she was relating the tale so she did not yet know the outcome. Her nineteen-year-old nephew Urbanus will take the throne and she told us that she was returning to him immediately and would remain with him at least until he was crowned although possibly for longer given the ongoing risk. It was agreed that Terentius would also travel to the court as he would more swiftly be able to detect any sigils upon Theo’s body than the wizards from Euros Aquilae. Indeed, he returned to us after only a few days to confirm that he had detected a spell of the eighth magnitude which had slowed the King’s blood to a stop over a night and a day. He also reported that he had identified a sigil of dried blood, known to be that manifested by one of the Scottish wizards. It seems clear that these wizards are indeed the enemies of this tribunal, despite my concerns as to the fairness of the process that first named them so, and having so clearly revealed themselves I hope that those of our number capable of taking action against them do so. To see the anguish upon Hypatia’s face and not feel vengeful heat in your own veins is unimaginable.

A few days later Gaines returned to the covenant once more. He was travelling with the news of the King’s death but also told us that many of the knights and nobles within the northern army were also reportedly being affected by a disease that was believed to be magic of some kind, possibly even the same spell. Terentius received a summons from his House and announced that he was immediately travelling north.


To the surprise of no-one Hypatia had elected to miss another meeting of our council. Terentius had returned, and the council started with him telling us that he had spent his time in Yorkshire scouting, looking for places where the Scottish wizards might be hiding. After some weeks he found a cave to the north west of York, near a place called Swaledale, which lay within a magical aura and had tracks of a nature that led him to suspect it might be such a hiding place. A force of wizards entered the cave while Terentius kept a watch from without. He told us that he heard a rumble in the ground as if from a rockfall and then became aware of someone moving through the ground beneath his feet, a feat of perception that it seems hard to comprehend. He pursued at ground level but must have been detected himself in some manner for he was repeatedly assailed with Terram spells that his Parma Magica barely deflected. Eventually his quarry broke free from the ground in marshland and was able to cast the seven-league stride before Terentius could reach him. Although the wizard escaped, the cases of mysterious illness within the English forces dwindled and then disappeared altogether. The weather also improved significantly suggesting that this too might have been the work of wizards. A few wizards of Stonehenge are planning to remain in the area over winter although the suspicion is the Scottish wizards may retire for a time. It is believed that there are currently four of their number who have been active, with the one pursued by Terentius estimated to be in his seventies or eighties. Pyrrhus called a formal vote to declare Terentius’ activities over Autumn as a service to the tribunal and thus a service to the covenant. All agreed.

I had arranged to spend the season learning more of the Latin language from our librarian and was initially not alone in spending time in the library, with both Terentius and Naevius also there. In the end it was easier to use the council chamber for the majority of the time as for me it proved quite difficult learning a language in front of wizards that had been speaking it since they were children. I do not fault the teachings of my mistress at all, for there is much that I have learned that is clearly a match for the initial training of other wizards, but there is no doubt that it would have been useful to learn the common language of the Order of Hermes while I was younger and had more time. As it was I received a letter from her later in the season when we were visited by the redcap Nitoria who was bringing news that the new king , named Aeddan II, had been crowned at Westminster in the autumn and had named his aunt as his chief advisor. I was glad to hear that Hedda has borne another litter and that the kittens are already wreaking mischief in my Mistress’ hut, and she also had comments regarding the observations that I had made about life here at Severn Temple, but most importantly she said she was happy to teach me some of the rites related to Jack of the Green and suggested I spend Summer with her. Nitoria agreed to guide me if I travelled to Cad Gadu at the start of that season and that I can do for it appears that I have the right to make a claim upon the ship that the covenant owns to speed my travel. I have never travelled by sea before.