A short story not suited to the communal anthology we are working on in the Ars noticeboards.

***

To Justina of Guernicus, chief Quaesitor of the Normandy Tribunal, Salve!

As per your instructions I traveled to the Covenant of the Autumnal Sun to investigate the disappearance of the maga Berenice, filia Petrus Verdi of Bonisagus. The magi have been extremely helpful, granting me access to the western tower, the laboratory of their missing colleague. Her laboratory is a rat’s warren, filled with the sort of tangle of bric-a-brac common in the homes of Criamon magi.

Her journals, which are comprehensive, detail her search for a book called The Shadow of the Founders. She has been questing for it, with the assistance of her husband, a redcap called Dimitrios, for thirty years. Her search seems comprehensive, and her correspondence voluminous. It appears the book did not actually exist. Her searches indicate that the book is a faerie, which plants rumors of its existence so that magi seek it out. The diary notes a final confrontation with the faerie that causes the book to manifest. I believe that after this confrontation, her decade-long search being fruitless, Berenice committed suicide by casting Call of Twilight on herself and her partner, at a place unknown.

A page of the diary is enclosed.

In faith and trust,

Jorges filius Carminus of Guernicus

[Enclosed page]

“I can tell that you do not accept it. If you did, you would not be here. You, like the other scholars, would vanish.

The book really exists. I merely play at making it exist at times. My illusion comes from a real thing, however. I cannot have created the story. You know this. You know my kind cannot create new stories, only live in the ones we are told.

Here is what the book says, during those times that it is apparent in this world. You may write this down if you wish, but if you do, your writing will change to become a copy of the book. It will fade away, much as all of the other copies have. It will re-merge only when someone, like you but more convinced, is truly ready to read it. You cannot see the book without accepting its thesis, and having accepted its thesis, you do not need to see the book. Mysteries are mysteries not because they are obscure, but because they hide themselves.

The world was built to last one thousand years. A goodly time, by mortal lives, and yet, to a person living in the eight century, surely too short? The forces of darkness, the servants of the moon goddess of Greece, were told by the pricking in the back of their minds that came to them as a goddess that they must soon fade away. How to continue a world whose end was already written in the Great Book of Life? The answer is in the book you seek.

So says the Shadow of the Founders: The world before the Order was not before the Order in time, but in iteration. Under the guidance of the moon witch of three names, the Founders came together and chanted their secrets to an illusionary man, created by the Founder Criamon. They told their stories to it, and through Criamon’s vast strength, the Good Sage became sufficiently real to father your Order. The mission of the early Bonisagus magi was to go look for the history of magic, so that it would come into being, over-writing what came before. The Order made the world, in a literally sense.

The Order made the world, and at the millennium, as the dragons arose to consume the Earth, the wizard pope stopped them and lulled them to sleep. A reprieve, but not an end.

You have heard that Criamon stands as a doorway, to allow magi to escape time and death, by passing through him into Twilight. This is true, but have you ever wondered why it is necessary? It is necessary because the world is an illusion spun from his illusionary magus. You may flee the world through him to the Realm of Magic. In that realm, illusions are self-sustaining, There you do not need him anymore. Criamon connects the World of Forms and this world of illusions because he must. Were he to stop, the world would fade away, like an illusion when a magus’s concentration fails.”

[Annotation in another hand]

As per your instructions, I have investigated the provenance of this letter.

There is no quaesitor of the name given.

The parens for the quaesitor exists, but did not take an apprentice.

The covenant mentioned exists, but has never had a member of the name given. The tower in which she is said to have lived was never occupied and is kept for storage.

The redcap mentioned has never been recruited by House Mercere.

The covenant mentioned reports that an amount of Vim vis is missing from their treasury, and request support in their investigation.

Yours in faith and trust

Victorius of Guernicus

[In another hand]

No further action is required.  J.

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