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

Revelations which a French army arrives and a Bjornaer plot is revealed

March 1225 saw a great deal of rain, and the plain about Commarque was a soggy mess. Unhindered by such simple concerns, the Bjornaer maga Curina once again paid a courtesy call to the magi of Crypta Venatus, and warned them that she and her clan (Ilfetu) would again be performing their mystery cult rituals nearby. As a fellow Wilderist, she invited Gaston of Bjornaer to participate.

Meanwhile, another familiar face arrived, bearing her own invitation. Melisandre, bride to Royal family member Henri de la Rochenoire, arrived the following day to visit her father. She also extended an invitation to William de Bonville and the other ‘scholars’ to dine with Count Archambaud II Talairand de Périgord, who himself was entertaining many powerful French nobles…it was even possible that His Majesty, King Louis VIII, would be in attendance! Raymond of Toulouse had been excommunicated, and a large army was being sent south to push him into the sea and return the light of Christ (and rule by the Crown) to these heathen lands.

Melisandre admitted to William and Melita of Bonisagus that her marriage was not what she had hoped it would be. With the dissipation of William’s love philters, Henri had gone back to his womanizing ways, and paid her no heed since their daughter was born the year before. William planned to create another potion; Melita recommended Melisandre carve out her own life with the power given her.

Arriving in La Cité, the party from Commarque was stunned to see the large French host arrayed around Archambaud’s lands. William tried to procure housing for their men from the army’s commander, Humbert de Beaujeu, but was rebuffed. Archambaud made the necessary arrangements, and held an audience with the magi. They discussed strategies for moving the army on, while stressing the need to downplay allegiance with King Henry III.

Lady Agatha again impressed the guests at dinner with her singing, accompanied by the legendary Bertran de Born lo Filhs. Yet during dinner, Giovani realized that vicious rumors of Godlessness in the area were being perpetuated by one of Humbert’s party, a Dominican brother named Michel. Williams quickly put an end to this by casting Gossip of the Marketplace, insinuating that the brother himself was a buggerer. The next day saw the good brother off. (William also gained a reputation for managing a 43 on his Carouse roll, drinking the place practically dry and being unfazed!)

Meanwhile, Gaston discovered that Petrocoricus, the lead Bjornaer of the group of Wilderists that had enacted the ritual, had himself discovered a way to awakened the Heartbeasts of mundanes, and that some of the participants in the recent ritual were not magi, but simple peasants from the village nearby in which Petrocoricus lived. He then grappled with the implications of this news, and worried whether or not he should inform his sodales.

Calling the magi together, Gaston tried to gauge his fellow magi’s positions with respect to the advance of the Dominion. Melita quickly gathered that his meandering queries had to do with the recent Bjornaer rituals, but William, Fortis of Flambeau and Jehans of Tremere were obviously of the mind that the Dominion could and should not be challenged. Melita advocated formally disavowing the Bjornaer activities and Gaston’s fellow magi favored alerting the Quaesitors, lest any possible violations of the Code come back to haunt them.

Cast: Gaston and Giovani (Guillaume), Eadwyn, Melita, and Agatha (Val); William (Bob); Giles and Jehans (Eric).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

Source Quality: 6 (+1 Cnf to Agatha and William)

The Way of St. James, Part II which Crypta Venatus leads a small army to recover a missing heir

Having been understandably cowed by the fearsome Lady of the Hills and her consort, Bonebreaker, the magi pondered their next step. Determined to free the Montagrier lad, but wary of relying solely on their magics, they dispatched Gaston to the covenant to consult with their sodales and gather reinforcements. Fortis embraced the idea of giving battle, and suggested that bowmen and a cavalry charge were the best bet against a 14-foot-tall giant. Lord Commarque, Sir Jehans and the doughty Sir Etienne provided mounted knights to back Sir Gaidon, while the turb captain brought 5 longbowmen and even Giovani’s crossbowmen.

Leading this small army to rendezvous with the others, the magi decided to turn the mundane forces loose on the giant, while the magi focused their attentions on the lamia. Melita somewhat reluctantly agreed that she was needed to lead the force into the regio, being only partially reassured when Fortis stated he would be right behind her, and she was to get behind him as soon as they entered the regio. On the third pass around the stele, the group was surprised to have not been immediately set upon. Quickly, though, the giant Bonebreaker made himself known, roaring as he rushed the covenant forces.

However, this was a disciplined force, and the prowess of both Welsh longbowmen and the flower of English chivalry was on display. The longbowmen repeatedly found their target with their murderous shafts, and as the gravely wounded giant yet roared defiance, Fortis dropped him into a Pit of the Gaping Earth. Bonebreaker was able to make but one mighty attack, which Sir Jehans just dodged before losing his sword. The charging knights incapacitated the now pitiful creature, and Ivor mercilessly ordered his men to fell him with arrows.

A nearby hut seemed to be the Lady’s home, but she was nowhere to be seen. Melita hit upon the idea of using The Inexorable Search on a makeshift map of their surroundings, again using their Arcane Connection to young Antoine. Though still not visible, Melita discerned the lamia must be watching them from a nearby stand of trees, and subsequent spells from her gave her brief glimpses of their invisible adversary. The other magi joined in trying to subdue the creature: Fortis blindly (but ineffectually) throwing down more pits to try to hamper her, and William more effectively creating a swampy area to both slow her and allow her to be tracked. Finally seeing her tracks, Sir Gaidon tackled the invisible beast, and though the Lady assumed her terrible visage and menaced him with her claws, the great bear Griou charged into the fray and slew her in a single blow.

Melita carefully opened her gizzard, and found within a great many small stones. When these were arranged on the ground beside the corpse, they took on the form of children – children apparently turned into stones and swallowed over the course of hundreds of years. One was the Montagrier heir, while one girl claimed the date was almost 200 years prior. There were over 40 children so revived, and it was clear many would never be reunited with their families. Melita insisted she take charge of them, although Gaston and Fortis demurred at first. Count Archambaud II was ecstatic at the return of young Antoine, though he showed no real interest in the other children, so it seemed they would be left in the hands of the Bonisagus maga after all.

Cast: Melita of Bonisagus (Val), Sir Gaidon and William of Jerbiton (Bob), Gaston of Bjornaer and Griou (Guillaume), Fortis of Flambeau (Patrick).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

Source Quality: 8 (for both parts I & II), 6 (part II only)

The Way of St. James, Part I which a noble heir's disappearance puts the magi on the pilgrims' path

Amidst the heat of summer in 1224, Gaidon d’Aubec received an urgent summons from his liege lord, Comte Archambaud II Talairand de Périgord. This missive not only summoned him to La Cité, but also intimated that the ‘scholars’ of Crypta Venatus might prove useful in a manner that suggested he was familiar with their involvement in rescuing a missing noble boy (see The Legend of St. Guinefort). William de Bonville, Gaston du Rouergue and Jehan of Tremere agreed to accompany the Count’s man on the two-day journey to La Cité.

The normally boisterous Count was clearly vexed by something of import, and quickly explained how Antoine, the son and heir of Antoine Montagrier, Lord of Château Mourette and important vassal of Hugh “le Brun” de Lusignan, Count of Marche, Aubusson and Angoulême. Given the complicated relationship between the two counts, Archambaud was concerned how the disappearance of Montagrier’s heir while in his care would play out. He tasked Gaidon with the boy’s recovery.

Questioning Guy, the captain of the guard, amde it clear that while the premises had been searched quite thoroughly, the investigation had also proceeded without imagination and was stymied. Those who say him last – the serving girl Maude and Father Francois – added little information of use, but it was revealed that pilgrims had stayed at the castle a week prior, on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Still, the boy had not disappeared until some days after the pilgrims had passed on, so it was not seen how this event could be related. Arcane connections to the boy were gathered, and Gaston took bird form to fly these back to the covenant. Gaidon spurred his horse along the road to the Pyrenees, hoping to catch and interrogate the pilgrim group.

Gaidon caught up with the pilgrims, but learned a strange woman named Ala had joined their group just before entering the castle and then quit their number a day after leaving. Melita of Bonisagus cast The Inexorable Search using the arcane connections Gaston brought her and pinpointed the boy’s location somewhere between La Cité and Ostabat. Recalling that the Way of St. James was purported to predate Christianity, and associated with the fertility magic that so enthralled her, she set out to rendezvous with the other magi while Gaston sought out Gaidon.

When the groups had reunited, they struck south and Melita made repeated castings to try to gather their proximity to the boy. One night, the grogs glimpsed a shadowy figure, and soon the magi were confronted by a specter. William managed to gain its attention, and it gestured for them to follow it. Where no road had been before, they were now walking on the old Ab Asturica Burdigalam. The apparition led them to a small hollow, where they found the remains of a robed man. Then the spirit spoke.

He revealed himself to be one Adolphus of Bonisagus, and retold how he was traveling the Way when he was mortally wounded by a pack of magical wolves. He requested that his remains be taken to the catacombs of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. While the magi were hesitant to comply, Adolphus said he would reveal to them the hidden fertility rituals within the Codex Calixtinus is they would do so. Melita quickly agreed.

Within days the group was apparently right on top of the missing boy, according to her magics. Finding an old standing stone, the Bonisagus maga led them around it three times in a counterclockwise direction. The regio they entered was not unlike their normal surroundings, but a large boulder nearby now assumed the visage of an ugly, 14-foot tall giant. The giant, Bonebreaker, queried the visitors as to their business here, and seemed amused by their answers. He called for “the Lady”, who likewise parlayed with the wizards, assuming a knowing and superior manner. Their conversation convinced the magi that this creature had eaten the boy, and faced with the prospect of combat against two apparently powerful foes, they retreated to consider their options.

Cast: Jehan (Eric), Gaston (Guillaume), Melita (Val), Gaidon and William (Bob).

Alpha Storyguide: Patrick

The Dordogne River which the magi face nosy monks, Cathar heretics, and a possible rogue magus

In July of 1223 Phillip II Augustus, who had reclaimed so much of France from the English, died and was succeeded by Louis VIII. In September following this, William of Jerbiton was rudely awakened in the early morning (from his usual wine-soaked sleep) by a screaming chambermaid. A spider who had arrived with a mysterious shipment of silk brought by a trader had woven a message in the supply room overnight. It was written by the Covenant of Florum and beseeched Crypta Venatus, especially Gaston of Bjornaer, to help thwart the plans of a traveling Quaesitor of the Rhine Tribunal named Siegfried.

Siegfried shortly showed up at Commarque with letters of introduction from Confluensis. He demanded assistance, especially from Fortis the Hoplite, to investigate and potentially bring to justice a magus named Trajan who was supposedly causing floods on the upper Dordogne to stop the encroachment of mundane loggers in the wild regions of the upper river. It was a test case to extend the “Law of the Forest” into the Tribunal of Normandy, which allows such actions.

This was all part of a political game extending deep into the Rhine Tribunal and the desire of Florum and other Covenants to split and resurrect the Lotharingian Tribunal at the next Grand Tribunal.

Fortis, William, Melita (and her new apprentice Margaux), Gaston, and the grogs Hugo, Theomund, Eadwyn and Balthasar left with Siegfried to go up the river. While checking in with the Abbot at Sarlat, the Abbot introduced a party of Spanish inquisitors from the new Dominican order: the elderly faithful Fr. Diego, the young ambitious noble Fr. Bruno (who out-drank William!), and his cousin, a Castillian knight Sir Rodriguez. The Dominicans had heard of the flooding and assumed it to be the work of unnatural evil. William did an excellent job delaying and obfuscating the Dominican party the rest of the adventure, while Gaston used his shape-changing abilities to communicate with him and prevent Siegfried’s men-at-arms from discovering William’s whereabouts.

Traveling upriver, the party found numerous bodies marked by a bloody cross on their chest and a slit throat. More thorough investigation showed that drowning was the cause of death and the throats were slit afterwards.

The party eventually reached the ruined town of Argentat, home of a small Benedictine priory (smaller and lower ranking than an abbey). The town was mostly full of refugees under the grip of a Cathar heretic, Brother Arnauld, preaching a suicide cult devoted to self-flagellation and sacrificing oneself to the “second Great Flood”. The party stayed with the desperate prior and brothers for the night and confronted Arnauld and the refugees the next day. Fortis’ magic and oratory prevented yet another sinful suicide.

The quick-thinking magi ordered Siegfried to identify a group of bandits who were inciting the crowd against the party. Melita and her men-at-arms rounded them up and forced them to return to the priory. Margaux was able to identify one of them as a bandit working for Atsingani. They confessed their crimes after Siegfried read into their sordid minds. They were guilty of mutilating the drowned bodies of the suicides to harvest their blood for vis purposes and handing it off to a man who appeared to be Jacques the Flambeau of Atsingani. Siegfried found this highly unsavory as a Quaesitor — who knows what aspect such vis would be. Potentially even Infernal.

After leaving the bandits to justice, the party journeyed further up into the gorges of the Maronne River, the source of the flooding. [Pending possible die rolls and skills, they found unusual underwater volcanic caves and potential entrances to a regio — perhaps even sources of Aquam or Ignem vis].

Confronting Trajan with Siegfried, the party took a middle line and asserted that the “Law of the Forests” did not hold here in the Rhine Tribunal and that, while not blatantly guilty of violating the Code against inciting mundanes against magi, he was pretty close and was better off leaving the Tribunal alone, being unlikely to find the political support here he might have in the Rhine. Trajan seemed to agree to relent.

William later led the Dominicans to Argentat, and the Dominicans purged the heresy with fire and sword. William, somewhat unconvincingly, blamed the Cathar heresy and suicide cult for the flooding.


The party generally aided Siegfried on his investigation. Confluensis and the Quaesitors of the Normandy Tribunal are pleased, especially with Fortis’ attention to his Hoplite duty.

Siegfried noted that the party would not break the Code themselves and start rumors against a magus causing the flooding in order to build a case against Trajan. It’s obviously nothing he can complain about as a Quaesitor, but he probably suspects the party of dragging their feet a little. He and his Oak Gild of the Rhine will be somewhat pleased with the party although not as much as Confluensis.

Trajan, House Florum, and the Hawthorne Gild of the Rhine will be disappointed that the party didn’t help Trajan out more, especially with Gaston not siding a bit more with his Bjornaer leanings.

Commarque pretty much cast their lot with the anti-Lotharingian forces for the next Grand Tribunal.

William became good friends with the Dominicans. Although the elderly Fr. Diego is probably shuffling rapidly toward his impending demise and canonization, the ambitious Fr. Bruno is likely going to be around for some time to come in a position of power. This is a useful if dangerous connection.

The magi of Commarque, and Siegfried the Quaesitor, are also in possession of some fairly damning information against Atsingani — are they really collecting vis that is potentially Infernal?

Cast: William of Jerbiton (Bob); Gaston of Bjornaer (Guillaume); Melita of Bonisagus and Margaux (Val); Fortis of Flambeau and Hugo (Patrick).

Eta Storyguide: Eric.