Aedifex was greeted by his new soldales, but the mundane Simon proved more problematic. During introductions, a commotion ensued: it seemed a peasant had somehow evaded much of the guard and penetrated some of the castle before being apprehended. Pleading that he needed to see the magi, Fortis and Aedifex quarantined the new arrival and proceeded to interrogate him. His name was Pierre, and he sought assistance from the magi in vindicating his mother, who stood accused of witchcraft, and killing her husband Jean. It seemed she had seen “pixies or imps” witnessing a hanging the night before her own husband was found hanged from a hawthorn tree. The lad’s earnestness and his description of the strange manifestations intrigued the magi, who decided to investigate. After much hemming and hawing, it was decided that the magi would accelerate Simon’s introduction to the ars magica and therefore begin to speak openly of the unusual circumstances of the case.
So it was that Aedifex started south with Gaston, Simon, and the grogs Gerard, Eadwyn, Esteve and Broderick. After spending a night at Cadouin Abbey, they group soon came upon Saint-Avit-Sénieur, a house of Augustinian canons. The canons admitted they knew of the matter, but seemed disinterested in further queries, believing that Father Aubert of the village of Saint-Cernin had correctly held a trial and found the woman Margot guilty of murdering her husband and witchcraft.
So it was that the group struck northwest to the village of Saint-Cernin and the scene of the unpleasantness. The villagers did not welcome their new guests, but the headsman Evrard greeted them. He confirmed much of Pierre’s story and Margot’s guilt, having found the body of Jean hung from a tree the day after the “witch” described her vision of imps hanging one of their own.
The magi interviewed Margot herself, locked up in the village church, who confirmed much of what was known, but denied having anything to do with Jean’s death, despite the fact that he beat her regularly. She had previously shown the gift of foresight, and for this was branded a witch by the villagers. Thus she never attended Mass, and this proved decisive to them that she was of the Devil.
Gaston had seen markings on the oak tree in the village common consistent with the “imp hanging” story of Margot, and Evrard took the group to visit the hawthorn tree where Jean was found hanged. Curious as to who ended up with Jean’s belongings, the group set about investigating a villager who had ended up with a “Venus” that apparently Jean had found the day before.