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.