When Sergeant Major Wood and Pip woke up, we examined them again, and they were back to their normal selves. It turned out that they'd both been affected by something which made them extremely paranoid. The Teutonians told them to stay put in one corner of the camp while they looked into it, but since these two are very sneaky scouts, they escaped. That's why they were acting strangely when I passed them on the path, because they saw me as a (potential) enemy too. Anyway, Pip then went back to the Teutonian camp, and we started to prepare for the battle.
The High King then called for Parliament. He mainly wanted to tell people who to report to, e.g. Issa (as First Wizard) was organising all the mages. Also, after the various tests to become the Champion of Law, he narrowed the aspirants down to 3: Teagan, Anise, and Rudraigh. He then selected Teagan as the new Champion. She got a new sash; this looked very similar to the ones that all the aspirants had worn, but it had a black hem.
I congratulated Teagan afterwards: I think that she'll do a good job, and we seem to have similar values (e.g. we were on the same side during the Forsythe trial). I asked whether I should remove my sash, because I didn't want to infringe on her role. She said that she didn't object at all, so it was up to me. Anise was nearby, and suggested that we should keep them on for the rest of the day, then remove them afterwards. That seemed like a sensible compromise.
While Anise was there, I asked her whether she'd had (or would have) any more opportunities to meditate about Hazel's bow. She hadn't, but she informed me that the Knights of the Clarion had done so. I spoke to them, and they said that the spirits were inconclusive, but they knew that the bow was still in Teutonia.
Issa then redistributed some of the magical items around the faction. This was a somewhat contentious decision. There are some artefacts (e.g. Merlin's Wand) which belong to the faction as a whole, so it certainly makes sense to assign them to whoever can make best use of them. There are other items which belong to particular people or groups (e.g. if someone has bought a magical sword from a trader or paid for the ritual to enchant it), and it seems a little harsh to essentially confiscate them. However, is that any different from assigning a person to a particular position on the battlefield, where they'll have to use their own personal abilities (e.g. their limited supply of spells)? Maybe the needs of the faction should take precedence here.
I think the most awkward issue was when Sergeant Major Wood borrowed an item from someone in another faction and then it was re-assigned to someone else. That made things difficult for Wood, particularly when other people then asked her to do things that she couldn't do without it (e.g. turning extra clothing into armour). Also, if the other person lost the item then she wouldn't be able to return it to the owner after the battle. From a pragmatic point of view, this may make people less likely to borrow an item if they think that someone else is going to take it away from them.
Having said all that, if I want other people to defer to my authority as acting Castellan (or acting Master of the Hunt) then I have to extend the same courtesy in return. If the High King is satisfied with the way that the First Wizard is doing her job then it's not for me to argue.
Before the battle, someone came over to paint a portrait of each group. Here are (some of) the Arcane Tempest and the crew of the Santia Maria:
(Photo © Lucy Feltham.)
That's Mae on the far left (from the Santia Maria), then the rest of us are Arcane Tempest. From left to right: Cadet Vulpus, Captain Philips, Sergeant Major Wood, Private Cox, and Private Mef. Aside from our distinctive coats and tricorns, each of the Tempest have the yellow phoenix symbol on our left arm. (That's what I was sewing on before the event started.)
After that, it was time to march out. It was a damp day, and this turned to mist as we reached the battlefield. (OC, that's because the event crew were standing nearby with fog machines, which helped to make it feel a bit more eerie.)
Then came the waves of possessed villagers, as we'd expected. Some of them taunted us, inviting us to kill them; it wasn't their body, so it was just a minor inconvenience for them if they had to jump to another villager back in the holding pen. So, there wasn't much satisfaction to be had there, and we mainly focussed on holding the line rather than chasing them back into the undergrowth.
I also recognised a few of the hag creatures from the Steppe lands, but they just ran past with a couple of strikes to paralyse people. In hindsight, I probably should have tried turning my sword into silver again to deal with them; it didn't occur to me at the time, maybe because they weren't around for long.
I didn't see much of what was happening with the avatars, but I believe that this all went according to plan. Sir Will called for Esme at the end of the battle, when he could feel himself starting to fade. ("My queen! Where is my queen?") I ran to find her, and Princess Morwynn pointed me in the right direction, so I'm glad that they were able to make a final farewell.
When we got back to camp, we assembled briefly. This wasn't a formal Parliament, but King Beaumont spoke about a particular incident from the battle. He had been paralysed, and Swithin guarded him with just a dagger (no armour), outnumbered about 5:1. Beaumont said that he had never seen such valour, so he knighted Swithin, and said that he would arrange for someone to teach him how to use a sword and shield.
After that, a small group of us practiced the Tuareg spells again, to use up our last reserves of magic before it was time to leave. That was productive, and I'm close to mastering a few more.
The main season is over, and the factions won't reunite until next May. However, there are smaller events taking place during the winter months.
The Arcane Tempest will remain in Teutonian lands for a while longer: the ACT (Allied Churches of Teutonia) have asked us to assist them with a murder investigation at the end of November. This may give me an opportunity to continue the search for Hazel's bow, in case it's still in Teutonia. This was the last task that Sir Will charged me to do before he died, and he emphasised how important it was, so I'm not going to abandon it.
If I survive that journey, I will return to Albion for the Lions' winter banquet in December. Lord Leofric is hosting that in Oxford, and it should be a good opportunity to relax and celebrate without being constantly on guard against the imminent threat of attack. Having said that, a few people were briefly possessed at last year's banquet, and as acting Castellan I probably ought to make some effort to make sure that everyone else is safe (without treading on anyone else's toes).
In March next year, the Lions will be heading to Cornwall. The current plan is that we will ask all the other factions to join us there for the next Renewal of Magic (in August), but we need to do our own expedition first.
Fortunately, I will have an extra advantage at these events: since I survived Renewal, I now gain another skill. I've been thinking this over, and I've decided to become a lesser Corporealist. There are times when it would be very useful to have a bit of healing magic, e.g. on scouting missions (when there's nobody else around) or if someone is lying on the ground near the gate after a camp attack and I don't recognise them (at the very least I can put them under a Sanctuary spell so that they won't die until we've identified them as friend or foe). Aside from healing, the Enhancement spell will also be useful: there are times on scouting missions when I want to be able to see/hear things from a distance (so that I can remain hidden), and as I mentioned earlier I think it would have helped when Grunewald summoned the garland wearers to the Kesh camp.
As a fringe benefit, this means that my mage rank also goes up within the Arcane Tempest. I am now a Magus Adept (1 greater sphere and all 3 lesser spheres), and the next level after this is Warcaster (2 greater spheres). My military rank remains the same (Private), and I don't see that changing any time soon. Basically, the mage rank reflects power whereas the military rank reflects responsibility; I have enough responsibilities already, so I'm quite content to remain in my current role.
I included one of Lucy Feltham's photos above. She wrote her own blog post about the event, which includes a short video. I was aware that it was a bit damp on Monday (so I tucked my spell cards inside my coat) but I hadn't consciously noticed that it was raining continuously for most of the day until I saw that!