The Fourth Object enters the historical record when an Arabic traveler gives it to a serving girl in the palace of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, in 1224. It was, then, a single sprig of blue flowers. How little did he understand the significance of these tiny blossoms!
The cerulea plants first propagated from this sprig were not hardy, and would not have survived without the constant care of the Emporer’s gardeners. That the plants could not be harmed by magic first became known to the order when a faerie (see glossary) pretending to the role of Queen demanded that the magi destroy these trees, and all things made from their wood. Her followers could not see such objects and feared injury from them. The cerulea is not a sovereign ward against such beings, but they cannot, of course, glamour its wood.
When speaking of the Objects, the original sprig is, properly, the Fourth. There has been an increasing laxity, however, particularly on the part of Academicians, to use the epithet to refer to all living cerulea. I know I court the ire of some of my colleagues when I suggest this is harmless and, perhaps, acceptable, given that all of the descendants share the foundational property of the Fourth Object: absolute resistance to Hermetic magic. I also share with many of my younger colleagues the, perhaps mistaken, desire to distinguish the living symbol of our Academy with the higher title, emphasizing its historical link to our mission.
The Imperial trees were poisoned by a group whose identity was kept so secret we thus far have uncovered no record of it. The destruction was complete, officially, although several cerulean artefacts were known to exist, as subjects of study by House Bonisagus and as personal possessions of noblemen. Some sort of secret society, folklore claims, was convened to steal these items, replacing them with mundane duplicates. The cerluean objects seem to have been destroyed in some instances and given to various researchers in others, so it is possible many groups were retrieving them. Our own folklore suggests this was so: at least one set of stories suggests the Academy’s founders competed with other Hermetic groups to locate and collect ceruleana.
Several magi kept and grew their own cuttings: the ancestor of the Academy’s current plantations was grown just outside Valnastium. The Jerbitons and Merinita claimed, afterward, that they had kept it because it was beautiful. The Tytalusians and Tremere bluntly stated that they wanted samples to make weapons which could kill magi. This would have caused them greater trouble, had not cerulean wood proven so useful in the Mongolian Wars.
Two further discoveries have been of particular interest to Academicians.
The First Object is decorated with a cerulean flower, a pattern we have copied as the intagilo of our Academy. This implied, to many researchers, that the First Object must have been made after the Fourth was first seen. This does not now appear to be the case, for the historical records of the sighting of the First Object, and its effects on the history of Venice, are difficult to dispute.
The Nineteenth Object has a frame of interlaced wood, part of which is winter oak, the other part cerulean.
The Twenty-Seventh Object lies in a case made of cerulean wood. Some researchers report that it, uniquely, can be affected by some minor Hermetic spells. Research continues.