Mortui Vivos Docent

The Wicked Players, Part III which the a powerful creature is confronted
The Wicked Players, Part II which the mystery of Saint-Cernin is further investigated

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.

The Wicked Players, Part I which the magi become embroiled in a macabre tale

The end of 1225 was a time of great upheaval, with the Council of Bourges in November and the excommunication of Raymond of Toulouse. As the Winter Solstice of 1225 approached, Aedifex of Merinita made his way south to Crypta Venatus, amidst a great many crusaders, to his new home. He struck up an acquaintance with one Simon, a learned man and Magister in Artibus, who was glad to find an educated companion with whom to travel south. The travelers made it to Commarque without trouble, and the magus was bid welcome to his new covenant. While the established magi discussed the relevant merits of the new addition, a great deal of maneuvering surrounded his traveling companion. Would the man Simon, obviously educated and a man of talent, be open to the idea of magic and the Hermetic Order? Giovani spent most of a dinner trying to feel out the newcomer, when a hue and cry arose in the courtyard. A chagrined Fortis was irate to learn that an intruder had infiltrated the outer walls before being apprehended at the barbican. This young man, one Pierre, requested an audience with the “masters,” having heard of their authority and wisdom. It seemed that Pierre’s mother was accused of hanging her husband (and Pierre’s father), she being a well-known witch. Pierre insisted she was innocent, and described the “pixies or imps” she saw hanging his poor father. By the end of the evening, loose tongues spoke of magic and faeries, and there was no telling what the itinerant Simon might make of it all.

The suggestion of pixies brought Aedifex into action, and Gaston agreed to accompany him,scouting ahead in avian form. After journeying south and spending a night at Cadouin Abbey, the party came upon the abbey of Saint-Avit-Sénieur, home of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine.

Cast: Aedifex (Jeff), Nequam (Paul), Gaston and Giovani (Guillaume), Simon (Rick), and Fortis and Agatha (Patrick).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

Source Quality: TBD

The Relic, Part II which Giovanni and Fortis navigate through a difficult situation with the Templars

On the morning of Sir Guy de Chatillon’s appearance at Commarque, Giovanni successfully coaxed the truth about the relic out of his uncle-in-law, Pasquale Scharaffi. A Templar clerk had told Scharaffi about the relic and had conspired with him to steal it, sell it, and divide the profit. After the relic was stolen but before Scharaffi could find a buyer, the clerk gave in to fear and guilt and identified Scharaffi as the sole thief. Scharaffi had been on the run since that time, with Sir Guy in hot pursuit.

Fortis quickly called a meeting of the other magi after the Templar group’s departure, and Giovanni and Scharaffi were summoned to the meeting to give a full account of the Templar property and the circumstances of its theft. The magi, wishing fervently not to run afoul of the Templars, decided that Scharaffi and the relic should leave the castrum and that they would provide no assistance.

Giovanni made arrangements for Scharaffi to leave, and travelled to Sarlat to give the relic to the Abbot of Sarlat, Elie I de Vinion. He made an ostentatious show on the way of asking for information about the best routes and methods to transport an expensive item, in order to draw attention to himself and away from his uncle-in-law. Abbot Elie I accepted the relic and invited Giovanni to stay for dinner. The two were joined by Sir Guy, who quickly deduced that Giovanni was the relative with whom Scharaffi was seeking sanctuary. The discussion turned to the disposition of the relic, and when Sir Guy learned that it was now in the Abbot’s possession, he made a veiled threat of violence against the abbey. The Abbot countered with a veiled threat of excommunication against the brother-knight. Giovanni managed to cool the situation by suggesting that the matter be settled in the ecclesiastical courts.

Giovanni and his crossbowmen, Giacomo, Enzo, and Luigi, left for Commarque the following day. On the way, they were accosted by a group of thugs, who had followed Giovanni to Sarlat. The thugs managed to put arrows into Giacomo and Enzo before Giovanni’s party escaped on horseback. Scharaffi escaped the Dordogne valley area without detection, thanks to Fortis privately arranging with Giovanni to cast Disguise of the New Visage on Scharaffi.

Some time after the departures of Scharaffi and Sir Guy, Sir Gaidon d’Aubec caught the thugs. Before being hanged, their leader confessed that they had been hired by Sir Guy de Chatillon to keep on eye on the castrum and keep tabs on anyone in the area who might be related to Sir Guy’s quarry.

Cast: Giovanni and Gaston (Guillaume), Giacomo Di Firenze, Lady Agatha, and Melita (Val), Enzo Piccolino and Fortis (Patrick), Luigi Romano and William de Bonville (Paul).

Gamma Storyguide: Bob

Source Quality: 7 (Giovanni, Giacomo, Enzo, Luigi, & Fortis)

The Relic, Part I which Giovanni's life is made more interesting by the appearance of old friends and relatives

Giovanni Dimatti and his Genoese crossbowmen guards were in Sarlat on the Feast of St. Bernard, August 20, 1225, when he encountered an old acquaintance: Cedric Autain, who managed the Ile-de-France estates of Pierre Mauclerc, the current Duke Peter I of Brittany. Cedric was in the south of France to arrange lodgings for Duke Peter in preparation for the imminent resumption of crusade against the Cathars and the southern barons. He asked about Giovanni’s absence from Paris, and seemed not to know of the events leading to Giovanni’s sudden departure years ago.

Nevertheless, Giovanni was suspicious. He informed his Genoese mercenaries, Giacomo di Firenze, Luigi Romano, and Enzo Piccolino, that Cedric should suffer an accident. Giovanni and Cedric went drinking at the local taverns until late into the evening, then Giovanni and Luigi retired to the cathedral to pray. Enzo and Giacomo followed Cedric, who could not handle his drink and was already quite inebriated, as he stumbled back to the festivities in the town center and drank himself into a stupor. Once the feast-goers had left, Enzo helped Cedric to his feet and walked him to a stand of trees outside of town, with Giacomo following behind. The two crossbowmen quickly stabbed the defenseless Cedric to death and took his clothes and other belongings to make his murder look like part of a robbery.

Cedric’s body was discovered a few days later, after Giovanni had returned to Commarque. No suspicion was cast on the Lombard moneylender.

Approximately one week after the Feast of St. Bernard, Pasquale Scharaffi, an Italian merchant and relative of Giovanni’s arrived at Commarque, along with a Jewish locksmith, Binyamin ben Yitzchak, who came to live with his uncle Avram ben Schlomo. Pasquale, looking exhausted and malnourished, related his recent financial troubles to Giovanni and asked for a loan to help him get back to Lombardy. Pasquale offered the contents of a white box he carried as collateral. Inside the box, wrapped in red silk, was a gold mask containing a skull. Pasquale claimed that the skull was the head of John the Baptist. After consulting with the magi Zaccheus and William de Bonville and with the priest Father Godefroi, Giovanni was convinced that the skull was indeed a genuine relic and pondered what to do with it and with his uncle Pasquale.

The following day, a small group of Templar knights and monks arrived at Commarque. Their leader, Sir Guy de Chatillon, explained to the assembled lords of Commarque (Agatha de Reims, Jehans des Escars, Roger de Commarque, and Fortis) that they sought an Italian, Pasquale Scharaffi, who had stolen Templar property (“letters of credit”) and had received word that he was heading for Commarque to meet with a relative here. Fortis and the others claimed ignorance of such a person, though Ivor the Turb Captain, who was also in attendance, silently signaled to Fortis that such a person was within the walls of Commarque. Sir Guy and the other Templars took their leave after securing permission to search the surrounding countryside for Scharaffi, noting that they would be staying at the estate of Lord D’Aubec.

Cast: Giovanni and Roger de Commarque (Guillaume), Giacomo Di Firenze, Lady Agatha, and Zaccheus (Val), Enzo Piccolino, Father Godefroi, and Fortis (Patrick), Luigi Romano, Binyamin ben Yitzchak, and Ivor (Paul).

Gamma Storyguide: Bob