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