The Eighteenth Object is unique, in that it manifested in a covenant. This allowed Hermetic magic to observe the process by which the Object appeared in the world. It appeared on the Eighteenth day of November, in 1238, in the covenant of Magvillus. The Object seemed to fade into reality, appearing initially in a ghostly, golden form, travelling at the speed of a walking man. It tore through the Aegis of the Hearth, leaving a hole through which spells could be cast without resistance. It then passed through several walls, eventually developing complete solidity in time to strike the library’s presentation copy of Ars Magica by the Founder Bonisagus with sufficient force to knock it from the display stand on which it rested.
Researchers since have argued whether this was random, planned by an intelligent being, or the result of the metaphysical opposition of the Objects to Hermetic Magic. At the time, as the War of the Trees was still raging in the Rhineland. House Guernicus assumed it was under attack, and pulled it hoplites out of many key installations, to investigate in force, and protect the House’s resources. This made the War of the Trees far bloodier, as observers and enforcers were called away from minor trouble spots, and House Guernicus almost became an added faction in the War, raiding sites it believed might hide the, thankfully fictional, New Weapon.
The Object takes the shape of a simple beam balance, just under two feet high, with dishes a few inches across. Similar balances can be found in many Hermetic laboratories. It has been discovered that this Object, like so many others, resists all Hermetic magic, but actively dispels only one variant of it. If a portion of vis is placed on one pan, and an item with even the slightest amount of Warping is placed on the other, then the vis transfers to the new item. The most interesting point is, however, that although no pawns of vis are lost in the exchange, the flavor of the vis is altered to correspond with the mystical significance of the object into which the vis travels.
This interesting effect has been studied by magi for centuries since, but it was only the development of Strange Wisdom as a discipline that allowed a breakthrough to occur. It is widely know that one of the Mysteries of the Path of the Dawn is that they can use any form of vis as if it were any other form of vis. Our belief is that Vim vis is not the generic form: the generic form of vis lacks a material component. By granting that component, to allow it to be handled, targeted, and used by Hermetic magi, the vis is being limited. It is being forced to act through a filter that weakens it, or obscures its full potential. House Bonisagus is attempting to incorporate this learning into the core of Hermetic Magic, but even they estimate that this may take centuries.
Once the Object’s actual nature was discovered, it was kept secret by the magi of Magvillus, only emerging once the Academy formed, and the Grand Tribunal ordered all Objects to be surrendered to us for research. House Guernicus claimed they used the item to smooth out disparities in the market for vis within Europe, and artificially reduce the cost of Corpus vis. Others claim they created vast amounts of vis matching that of the combatants in the War of the Trees, so that they were unable to find buyers for their own surpluses.
A subterranean supply depot was discovered during 1376 in Bohemia. It included wards, and the sigil of these wards was that of a master geomancer known from the 1230s. THese wards protected a truly staggering quantity of Corpus vis, and some magic items which aided transport. How this cache came to be lost is unclear: a scouting party of Guernican magi may have been murdered and disposed of during The War of the Trees.
The cache was only discovered with the aid of demons. The foolish magus responsible went on a spree, taking revenge on all whom he felt had slighted him. He was captured by hoplites, and was killed by immersion in boiling lead. This is the origin of the preference for this form of disposal for diabolists, although it is, of course, made far from universal due to a lack of battlefield suitability.