The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques

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  • #7300
    ÉricÉric
    Keymaster

      Spring was upon them.

      “Bloody too early, if you ask me” said Malové, the Head of the Coven of Mystiques, but just CEO of Quadrivium Emporium to the outside world.

      “Meow.” Only the Coven’s familiar, a clichéd black cat dared to voice what seemed to have been the common thought. How tedious, so much spring cleaning of the collective energies to do, and almost 2 months ahead of schedule. Blame the telluric energies catch-up with the cosmic downpour of the world’s mind agitation. Or global warming, as it’s labelled nowadays.

      “You know how it goes.” Malové continued. “We set the tone of the stories ahead. And it can only be done by actually writing it. Yeah, how exciting. Like conducting an orchestra in a zoo, there’s plenty of potential, but I guess we’ll have to work on our priorities.”

      “Do you mean keeping the zoo’s hyenas from eating everybody else?” Frigella was not one to beat around the bush.

      “Yeah, something like that. And you know how you control hyenas?”

      The witches assembled looked at each other sideways.

      “The Whale would tell you it’s a lovely story of shared resonance, forging bonds based on trust… But that’s a load of bollocks. Some emotions are only managed through stronger ones – so let’s do what we do best, get our Incense ready, and put some order in this bloody chaotic mess. Who wants to start?”

       

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    • #7521

      It was matins, the early break of dawn at cockcrow, and the sisters had been diligent to call everyone for prayers.

      Mother Lorena was expounding on the powers of prayer while Eris was struggling to keep her friends awake after the short night.

      “Our Sister Hildegard,” Mother Lorena was droning, as to make everything painfully clear to the newcomers “was one of the founding members of our secret order of nun-witches as you would like to say. But make no mistake, she tapped into a power much much older. The power of prayer of the early Christians was capable of great miracles…”

      “If we’re here for a history lesson, hope she tells us more about the dragons…” muttered Truella, still groggy from her sleepless night.

      As if the absurdly hearing-impaired Mother superior had heard the plea, she went on “It is that same power of prayer from the early covens of nun-witches that helped vanquish the hordes of dragon-boat riding invaders.”

      “Did she say dragon??” 

      “Ssshttt!” Jeezel and Eris shushed Truella as they were struggling to keep up with the rosary count.

      “Of course, I mean the viking hordes with their drakkar boats. Such be the tale forever embedded in our embroidered tapestries.”

      “She didn’t say about the frogs nuns though, has she?” Truella ventured, hoping the hearing/inspiration spell would still work.

      “I suppose the frog-nuns were symbols of transformation, alchemy — or mastery about the water element from which the invaders came, or maybe just waiting for a prince’s kiss… what should I know?” Eris shrugged, mildly annoyed. Her phone was busy spewing messages. Luckily the silent prayer was over, and everyone was invited to the breakfast in the great hall.

      “What’s happened?” Jeezel ventured.

      Eris sighed. “I’ll have to leave you for today. Another bank errand for Austreberthe. Hope it doesn’t become a habit… Luckily she’s asked Mother Lorena to allow me to use the covent’s portal to make haste.”

      She turned to Truella. “I trust you with this Tru, please don’t make a mess of it while I’m gone. There are forces at play here, and we can’t be distracted; I’ll be back as soon as I can. We still have the crypts and the reanimated nuns to investigate, but I’m sure they can wait for a few hours more.”

      Before Truella could protest, Eris was on her way.

      #7522

      As soon as Eris had left the room, Truella thought for a moment she was hallucinating, as Eris popped back right in through the entrance.

      “So, what did I miss?” Eris asked, looking exactly the same if a little worn out.

      “What do you mean what did you miss? You hardly missed anything, since you’ve just never left!” Truella protested, as the absence of sleep wasn’t cause enough to make her doubt her senses.

      “Ah… I see… Those time-travel shenanigans. Hard to wrap one’s head around sometimes.” Eris said matter-of-factly. “No matter, glad to be back, well… so soon… by your standards. Let’s get back to business then? When’s the next ritual? Don’t we have to brew a potion or something?”

      “No, no, no… Not so fast! What happened to your trip? you have to tell us all, and TIME TRAVEL! Where, when, how, with whom? We want to know all, n’est-ce-pas ma petite Jeezel?”

      “Tsk, tsk. For another time. Suffice to say, I was gone for longer than I wanted, and clearly that nun-witch portal had been tempered with, sent me right in the middle of the darn Middle-Ages. But I can’t tell you more here…” Eris said with an air of mystery. “Stone walls are thick, but not as deaf as Mother Lorena, that’s for sure.”

      #7523

      Of course! A fleeting flash of illumination lit Truella’s eyes. That’s it!  

      “Thick, yes, deaf, oh! That’s too funny, and the middle ages…. Hildegarde….too late, all too late, it can’t be the nuns! Don’t you see, Eris?” Truella cackled wildly. “We can rule the nuns out!”

      “We can?” Eris was baffled.   What had suddenly come over Truella?

      “We can’t rule the morticians out yet though, What do we know about their background?”

      “Not much,” admitted Eris. “But why are we ruling the nuns out? Ruling them out of what?”

      “Because they are not connected to this place. They’re not old enough.”

      “Well, that’s as clear as mud,” Jeezel said, expecting Truella to explain what she was talking about, but Truella had wandered off saying she needed to think.

      #7524

      The obvious place to start with investigations into the history of the Morticians Guild was to question Rufus.  But first she needed to think. Truella made her way to her room, and locked the door.  At least now that Eris was back so soon, Truella was free to let Eris get on with whatever she was doing. After lowering the blinds at the windows, she lay back on the bed and closed her eyes.  As she started to drift off to sleep, an imaginary conversation ran through her head.

       

      Rufus: “The Morticians’ Guild, originally known as the ‘Necro-Keepers,’ trace their lineage back to ancient Egypt. They were the guardians of rites that ensured the safe passage of souls to the afterlife. Over millennia, they adapted and evolved, absorbing arcane knowledge from various cultures—the Greeks with their Eleusinian Mysteries, the Romans with their burial rites, even the Celtic traditions of Samhain.”

      Truella: “That’s fascinating. So, this ancient craft has been handed down through generations?”

      Rufus: “Precisely. While Hildegarde von Bingen brought enlightenment and medicinal wisdom to her nuns in the 12th century, the Morticians’ practices were already etched in the annals of history. They operated in silence, often in the shadows, perfecting the skills of embalming, necromancy, and spirit communication.”

      Truella: “And what about their presence here, in this coven merger?”

      Rufus: “We’ve been called upon at times of great need, when balance must be maintained between the living and the dead. Our presence here isn’t coincidental. The dragons and ancient spirits awaken, and we, the keepers, ensure that not all realms collide irreversibly.”

      Truella: “So, would you say the Guild has played a role in significant historical events?”

      Rufus: “Indeed. We’ve been the unsung heroes, the silent watchers. From plagues to wars, ensuring the dead find peace and don’t linger to disrupt the world of the living. Our methods may have modernized, but our core purpose remains unchanged. The knowledge, the rituals—they are our legacy.”

      Truella: “Thank you, Rufus. That’s more fascinating than a year’s worth of ancient spellbooks.”

      Rufus:  “You’re welcome, Truella. Just remember, history isn’t merely dates and names; it’s living through us, weaving its magic continuously.”

      #7526

      Truella slept for longer than she intended, indeed, she had not intended to sleep at all, there was too much to do.  Trying to hold on to the fragments of dream recall, she sat up and rubbed her eyes. Glancing around the room, she couldn’t immediately remember what she was doing there. Suddenly she sat bolt upright. What was that conversation she’d had before falling alseep? Truella felt dizzy trying to remember. She stood up and started to pace the room, and noticed a letter had been pushed under the bedroom door. She frowned as she bent to pick it up. Nothing was written on the outside, but the envelope had been sealed with a blob of red wax. Truella opened the letter carefully without breaking the seal. A yellowy page was inside, written in Latin.

       

      Ordo Amphibiae-Luciae: pertinebant ad Ordinem Amphibiae-Luciae.

       

      Truella’s Latin was rusty to say the least. She sat back down on the bed struggling to decipher the message.

       

      The Order of Amphibia-Lucia: They belonged to the Order of Amphibia-Lucia. 

      Nomen Amphibia-Lucia provenit ex duplici natura: tam terrena quam mundana. Rana facies symbolica est repraesentatio nexus eorum ad aquam, transformationem, et antiqua numina amphibiana.

      The name “Amphibia-Lucia” stems from their dual nature: both earthly and otherworldly. The frog face is a symbolic representation of their connection to water, transformation, and ancient amphibian deities. They believe in metamorphosis, much like a tadpole turns into a frog, embodying cycles of death and rebirth These priestesses predated Christianity by eons. Their practices and rituals were about aligning with the cosmic cycles, harnessing planetary energies, and maintaining harmony between the seen and the unseen. They were known to perform rites that involved intricate dances, chants in forgotten tongues, and the use of ancient artifacts that, according to legend, could summon or banish entities from beyond our realm—dragons included.

      Tartessus in obscurum, secretissimae sectae, ordo Amphibiae-Luciae, sub terra perrexit, ad litteram. Scientiam suam servaverunt, eam per generationes transeuntes, ritus suos in secretis clausulis sub culturis recentioribus obrutos servaverunt. Christianismus in terram pervasit, sed hae sorores aptatae, antiquas vias obtegunt sub specie hodiernae opinionis systemata superstites vigereque.

       When Tartessos fell into obscurity, its most secretive sect, the Order of Amphibia-Lucia, went underground—literally. They preserved their knowledge, passing it down through generations, maintaining their rituals in secretive enclaves buried beneath newer civilizations. Christianity might’ve swept over the land, but these sisters adapted, cloaking their ancient ways under the guise of more contemporary belief systems to survive and thrive. 

      In cellis cellis in ipsum cubiculum illorum claustrorum contextum habemus reliquias ordinis pervetusti, dogmatum ac dogmatum recentioris millennii securos. Hais ex quo saeviunt dii, rudis sacra, et advena mundus.

      In the cellars woven into the very bedrock of those cloisters, we have the remnants of an archaic order, unconcerned with dogmas and doctrines of the more recent two millennia. They’re from a time when gods were wilder, rituals were raw, and the world was a stranger.

      When the nuns under Hildegarde von Bingen’s influence merged with these ancient priestesses, it wasn’t just a blending of orders but a clash and harmony of traditions. Hildegarde herself, in her visionary wisdom, likely recognized the power and ancient wisdom of the Order of Amphibia-Lucia, choosing to weave their potent rituals into her own esoteric Christian practices.  The frog-faced sisters are no mere relics of an outdated faith. They’re the living embodiment of an ancient, potent lineage that predates and outlasts many of the world’s religions. They’re the keepers of ancient Tartessian magic, lurking in those cellars, waiting for the right time to hop back into the forefront of history.

       

      So that was it! But who had pushed the letter under her door? And why was it written in Latin? Had everyone else received a letter?

      #7527

      It was good to get a break from the merger craziness. Eris was thankful for the small mercy of a quiet week-end back at the cottage, free of the second guessing of the suspicious if not philandering undertakers, and even more of the tedious homework to cement the improbable union of the covens.

      The nun-witches had been an interesting lot to interact with, but Eris’d had it up to her eyeballs of the tense and meticulous ceremonies. They had been brewing potions for hours on, trying to get a suitable mixture between the herbs the nuns where fond of, and the general ingredients of their own Quadrivium coven’s incenses. Luckily they had been saved by the godlike apparition of another of Frella’s multi-tasking possessions, this time of a willing Sandra, and she’s had harmonized in no time the most perfect blend, in a stroke of brilliance and sheer inspiration, not unlike the magical talent she’d displayed when she invented the luminous world-famous wonder that is ‘Liz n°5’.

      As she breathed in the sweet air, Eris could finally enjoy the full swing of summer in the cottage, while Thorsten was happily busy experimenting with an assortment of cybernetic appendages to cut, mulch, segment and compost the overgrown brambles and nettles in the woodland at the back of the property.

      Interestingly, she’d received a letter in the mail — quaintly posted from Spain in a nondescript envelop —so anachronistic it was too tempting to resist looking.

      Without distrust, but still with a swish of a magical counterspell in case the envelop had traces of unwanted magic, she opened it, only to find it burst with an annoying puff of blue glitter that decided to stick in every corner of the coffee table and other places.

      Eris almost cursed at the amount of micro-plastics, but her attention was immediately caught by the Latin sentence mysteriously written in a psychopath ransom note manner: “QUAERO THESAURUM INCONTINUUM”

      “Whisp! Elias? A little help here, my Latin must be wrong. What accumulation of incontinence? What sort of spell is that?!”

      Echo appeared first, looking every bit like the reflection of Malové. “Quaero Thesaurum Incontinuum,” you say. How quaint, how cryptic, how annoyingly enigmatic. Eris, it seems the universe has a sense of humor—sending you this little riddle while you’re neck-deep in organizational chaos.

      “Oh, Echo, stop that! I won’t spend my well-earned week-end on some riddle-riddled chase…”

      “You’re no fun Eris” the sprite said, reverting into a more simple form. “It translates roughly to “I seek the endless treasure.” Do you want me to help you dissect this more?”

      “Why not…” Eris answered pursing up her lips.

      “Seek the endless treasure.” We’re talking obviously something deeper, more profound than simple gold; maybe knowledge —something  truly inexhaustible. Given your current state of affairs, with the merger and the restructuring, this message could be a nudge—an invitation to look beyond the immediate chaos and find the opportunity within.”

      “Sure,” Eris said, already tired with the explanations. She was not going to spend more time to determine the who, the why, and the what. Who’d sent this? Didn’t really matter if it was an ally, a rival, or even a neutral party with vested interests? She wasn’t interested in seeking an answer to “why now?”. Endless rabbit holes, more like it.

      The only conundrum she was left with was to decide whether to keep the pesky glittering offering, or just vacuum the hell of it, and decide if it could stand the test of ‘will it blend?’. She wrapped it in a sheet of clear plastic, deciding it may reveal more clues in the right time.

      With that done, Eris’ mind started to wander, letting the enigmatic message linger a while longer… as reminder that while we navigate the mundane, our eyes must always be on the transcendent. To seek the endless treasure…

      The thought came to her as an evidence “Death? The end of suffering…” To whom could this be an endless treasure? Eris sometimes wondered how her brain picked up such things, but she rarely doubted it. She might have caught some vibes during the various meetings. Truella mentioning Silas talking about ‘retiring nuns’, or Nemo hinting at Penelope that ‘death was all about…”

      The postcard was probably a warning, and they had to stay on their guards.

      But now was not the time for more drama, the icecream was waiting for her on the patio, nicely prepared by Thorsten who after a hard day of bramble mulching was all smiling despite looking like he had went through a herd of cats’ fight.

      #7530

      At last the weekend was over. What had been acheived was anyones guess, certainly Truella couldn’t have said if it had been a success from the organizers point of view or not.  One thing was abundantly clear: the witches were not cut from the same cloth as the nuns and the pious gravity of some of them had been anathema to the witches. But not all of them, it had to be said.

      When Truella had wandered into the library, ostensibly to look for material on the frog sisters, but in reality just wanting a break from the constant presence of so many others, she was initially disheartened to find someone else had the same idea. Sassafras was curled up in an armchair poring over an old journal.  She started guiltily when Truella walked in and quickly closed the leather bound volume.

      “Oh please, don’t mind me. Carry on reading,” Truella reassured her, “I just came in here for a break. Point me in the direction of the local history section and I’ll not bother you.”

      “Are you interested in the local history?” Sassafras asked, genuinely curious.

      “Obsessed, more like!” Truella laughed, and proceeded to tell the story of the dig in her garden.  She hadn’t intended to go into such detail and at such length, but Sassafras was interested and asked all the right questions.

      “You seem very knowledgable about the history of the area,” Truella was prompted to invite Sassafras to come to her house to see what she’d uncovered.  “I assume they let you out of here sometimes.”

      Sassafras laughed. “Not very often, but I escape. I tell them I’m collecting herbs in the woods.   Want to know a secret?” she leaned forward and lowered her voice.  “I’m not really a nun, I’m only here because of the place. This place,” she sighed and her eyes had a faraway look, “This place, the history, oh my dear you have no idea, it’s rich beyond imagining for ancient history.”

      The conversation that ensued had been illuminating for both of them, and they had agreed to keep in contact.  Sassafras had given Truella a bundle of old journals to smuggle out of the Cloisters, written in the early 16th century.

      Now all Truella had to do was get the journals home without being detected. It would require an effective cloaking spell, and she wished she had more confidence in her own magic.

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