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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

A Diabolical Easter: Part 3 - Easter Sunday and beyond

3rd April: Easter Sunday

I decided to attend Mass this morning, which seemed to please Ignatius for some reason. For one thing, I hoped it would put an end to the little hints that that priest has been bothering me with during Lent but mainly it was because I dislike demons and am willing to use anything that will work against them, including a Church blessing. I was interested to see Joach and Iuris Perita there too, and just about all the grogs and coven-folk attended. For such a small church in such an out of the way location, I have to say that the service was not bad. The priest and a young man sang the liturgy and several other pieces very nicely, though their efforts hardly compare with what I remember hearing in the cathedral of Zaragossa when I was small. I had thought the young man to be a trainee shield grog of Constantine's but, if that were indeed so, would have expected him to have accompanied his master to St.Brieuc.

Jimena has been much occupied in attending the injured Jews. She continues to express her amazement at their fortitude when so badly hurt and seems unconvinced by their belief that prayer alone kept them alive while awaiting the inevitable rescue that God had promised to them. Discussions with my sodales leads me to suspect that they are actually Criamon magi who are unwilling, for some reason, to admit this. I would have thought that the protection offered by the Code would have been sufficient incentive for them to claim membership of the Order now they are in our covenant and protected by little more than Christian hospitality. I gather that Jimena feels they are not yet strong enough to be interrogated but Joach plans to have some detailed discussions with them on subjects such as alchemy when they are well enough.

A request from Ploeuc

Late in the morning, word reached the Tower that armed riders were at the south gate. It was Sir Ernaut, one of Jean de Ploeuc's household knights. It seems he came to demand the release of his Lord, having been convinced that sorcery was used last night to kidnap him and that we were to blame. He was unwilling to accept the word of our Centurion that we were not holding Sir Jean but was apparently convinced when Fr. Edwin gave him the same information. The priest does have his uses.

A short while later, I observed Fr. Edwin going towards the south gate with Sir Ernaut and one of our grogs; Abel, I think it was. It seems that Sir Ernaut had asked that Fr. Edwin go to celebrate the Easter Mass for the people of Ploeuc. While I find the man somewhat irritating, I hope he comes to no harm amongst those devil-worshipers.

The Hermitage needs help

During the day, a novice monk arrived on a donkey from the Hermitage, bringing worrying news. Lord Achilles was still at the Hermitage, assisting with the defence of the monastery. Six armed raiders had come to the Hermitage gate last night under the leadership of Sir Baudouin of Ploeuc, one of Jean's household knights, demanding the release of Sir Jean de Ploeuc and the return of their priest, Père Vidal, claiming that these two had been kidnapped. Fr. Michael, the Under-Prior, had seen the riders off, having told them that both men were being held prisoner on charges of heresy, diabolism and civil crimes against the Duke. Sir Baudouin had ridden off in a very angry mood, promising revenge, so Achilles desired reinforcements to be sent to the Hermitage at once to help defend the place against bandits, if there be need. What a mercy we did not try to keep the prisoners here!

Jacques took charge of the request, which seems to ask especially that the old crusaders, Sergo and Yussef, be amongst those sent. The men were instructed to avoid the road in the vicinity of Ploeuc. Since the village of Ploeuc commands a good view from its hill-top perch, this means leaving the road quite a way from the place and pushing through the undergrowth for ages, which will be very slow going, as I found yesterday.

Once he had delivered the urgent part of his message, the young novice took some refreshment and told us, with great excitement, of the story the novices had heard on waking that morning. Apparently, the Lord Achilles de Caribet and Fr. Albertus had arrived in the middle of the night with Sir Jean de Ploeuc and Père Vidal as prisoners. The Prior himself, using the holiest relics and the great big Bible, had exorcised a demon in the form of an enormous winged serpent, which had wrapped itself around Sir Jean and had been whispering evil in his ear all the while. Sir Jean and Père Vidal were now under the care of the monks, who were praying with them and for them. I imagine there is some truth in this tale and hope to hear of it from a more reliable source.

Keeping an eye on Abel

Magus Speculor must have shared my concerns for the safety of Fr. Edwin. He had once again cast magics to observe our grog, Abel, in Ploeuc and saw nothing disturbing. By listening in on what the villagers of Ploeuc told Abel, he gathered what he thought was useful information which he wanted to pass on to our Princeps, who seemed in two minds whether she wished to hear it or not. I was glad when Speculor reported that he could see our priest and Abel being brought home and went back to my book, confident that was the end of the day's concerns.

I have been wondering whether the animals of the forest, or those of Ploeuc, might be holding useful testimony of the evil deeds performed by Sir Jean and his men. I feel sure they have some very damning evidence to present but I have no wish to reveal to a mundane court that any of us can communicate with animals, and no doubt the mundane lawyers are too unimaginative to look into this aspect of the case themselves.

4th April: Easter Monday

I spent the whole day in my room reading. There was a little noise outside during the day, and I saw a small crowd gathered around the itinerant merchant, Jourdain, who calls here from time to time. I sent Guena down to purchase one or two small items and she returned with the news that the man was heading off towards Ploeuc to sell holy relics there. How convenient that he has a supply - they certainly have need of them!

5th April: Easter Tuesday

Magus Constantine returned today, having walked to and from St.Brieuc on a pilgrimage. I think it very odd of him, especially when he went by a long and winding route via any number of shrines. However, it is good to have him back and we all told him what had been going on; Speculor showed him his version of events in an impressive display of Imaginem magic.

A letter came somewhat later in the day, from Lady Marta of Plaintel, addressed to Iuris Perita. Typically, she did not see fit to share the contents with the rest of us. It must be something to do with Sir Jean who, I think, is as unpopular with Lady Marta as he is with us.

6th April: Easter Wednesday

Mid-morning or thereabouts I was disturbed from my studies and called down to the council chamber. We had all been called to hear the dreadful news carried here from the Hermitage by Sergo. During the previous night, a mist had come down upon the Hermitage and raiders had set fire to the walls and outer buildings. Many had been injured in the fight. The attackers had only been driven off when Prior Quietus had come out with several of the monks carrying the holiest relics and the mist had been dispersed by prayer. A written message from Lord Achilles confirmed this story and told us that none of the attackers had been amongst the wounded taken to the infirmary and that there was no sign of a trail left by the fleeing riders. Both the prisoners were still captive but it is assumed that the attack was Sir Jean's people attempting to free him.

Speculor wanted to set off at once for the Hermitage to investigate the vanishing trail. Joach was concerned to strengthen the guard around the covenant. Constantine suggested that we should move the prisoners to the covenant where we could better fight off attack, and to remove the cause of violence against the Hermitage but no-one agreed with him. Joach suggested burning Ploeuc to the ground but this also was rejected. I decided that the sooner we divert the road to go around the covenant, the better, and I was reminded of a ritual that we might use to discourage visitors. I believe it acts through Rego Mentem to make it hard to find a place. I shall follow up this idea as soon as possible. At the end of our discussion, Constantine and Speculor set off for the Hermitage and I went back to work.

During the late afternoon, four soldiers arrived from Plaintel, heading for the Hermitage and requesting help from our people to guide them though the forest so as to avoid going through Ploeuc. I gather one of the huntsmen will take them in the morning.

7th April: Easter Thursday

A number of our grogs have arrived from the Hermitage, all wounded. Doctura Jimena is busy looking after them and seems confident that all will recover in time. They brought with them more tales of the raid on Sunday night and a request from Achilles that fit replacements be sent to him at the Hermitage. I fear this will leave us inadequately defended here and have instructed Julius and Ignatius to help out on guard duty when not with me.

Constantine and Speculor returned home this afternoon, Guena tells me. I swear she turned pink when mentioning the name of Magus Constantine. I suppose I might have heard if they had done anything rash there. I do think they would have done better to keep well away.

8th April: Easter Friday

More disturbing news from the Hermitage reached us today when Zane and Yussef arrived somewhat late in the day. There was another raid last night. Two of the attackers were captured, men at arms, who reported that the village of Ploeuc was now under the control of Sir Hammund, who had arrived on the night of Easter Sunday, bearing Sir Jean's signet ring. It is Sir Hammund who is leading the raids, he who raided Ploeuc, Plaintel and Caribet four months ago and whom we believed to be in league with infernal powers.

There is other bad news, which has put our Princeps into some agitation. Canon Philbert arrived at the Hermitage yesterday, with any number of clergymen, bringing warrants and false accusations. Lady Ermengart de Ploeuc has laid charges of kidnapping against the Prior himself and Fr. Albertus and a group she calls 'the witches of Caribet'! Her information is pathetically inaccurate, for she refers to myself as Mistress Esperance and thinks we are led by a Prince Iuris, so I think it will be easy to convince anyone with sense that she has no idea what she is on about. Iuris Perita does not seem to think it will be so easy.

There is good news, too. The Hermitage is abuzz with the joyous news that both the prisoners have confessed to dealings with demons and have repented. Canon Philbert was, naturally, shocked by the attacks made on the Hermitage. The Prior himself has laid counter-charges against the prisoners and Canon Philbert is conducting them to stand trial before the Bishop in St.Brieuc. I gather that Lord Achilles has gone with them and intends to speak to the Duke's county lieutenant in Perros-Guirec so he may be away some while. I am sure we can do without him, just as long as he gets it right, keeping us out of any involvement with the business. With luck, this will be the end of the matter as far as we magi are concerned.

10th April: Sunday after Easter

I went to Mass this morning, along with most of the rest of the people here. Constantine went with Fr. Edwin to see him safely to Ploeuc and back, and it is as well he did because Sir Hammund is causing trouble there. I hear that Fr. Edwin was banned from entering the village so said Mass in a field at the bottom of the hill, and that Constantine confronted Sir Hammund and sent him away with no interruption to the service.

Letters

Tuesday 12 April: news from the Bishop's Court

We have received notification that the trial of Jean de Ploeuc will take place at the Bishop's Court in St.Brieuc on Wednesday 10th May. I said I was glad it was to take place but that I had no intention of being there myself, but both Iuris Perita and Sir Achilles say that I have no option. I hope they are both wrong but Iuris Perita has already started to lecture us on what we may and may not say and do when there. What an utter waste of time!

Fr. Albertus has let it be known here that he did use magic to blow out the wall of Ploeuc barn to make his escape when confronted by a group of hooded, black-robed figures carrying black candles and chalk and leading a goat. I can see why he wanted to run away and am glad he has drooped any pretence with us about his knowledge and abilities. Perhaps now we can start to learn from each other. I am sure that I can bring some new understanding of Hermetic Magic Theory out of a basic grounding in Natural Magic.

Whilst we were met together to share the news of the trial date, we were told also of a letter expected from the Bishop to make Fr. Edwin's ministry to Ploeuc official, if temporary. If only everything could be managed so conveniently by the written word, we would have less need to leave our books!

Sunday 17th April: The Deacon's letter

Today Fr. Edwin went to Ploeuc to say Mass again, but as well as Constantine, Redwald and William, he had with him a deacon, representing the Bishop, and several minor clerks. Sir Hammund had again made a show of forbidding them access to the church but his argument that Fr. Edwin had no right was overthrown by the letter from the Bishop that the deacon carried. I gather than none of the knights and men at arms attended Mass but many of the peasants did.

Sunday 24th April: Jean de Ploeuc's letter

Constantine went with Fr. Edwin to Ploeuc, as usual, and took with him the letter Achilles had recently obtained, sealed with Jean de Pleouc's own ring, in which he makes it plain that Sir Hammund does not have his authority in Ploeuc. I hear that the effect on the populace of hearing this read out after Mass was quite dramatic. I do not think they had pitchforks and torches, nor that they chanted as they went, but the villagers did certainly march behind Constantine and Fr. Edwin to confront Sir Hammund, who saw them coming and made his escape on a stolen horse. Alas, not only did he get away, but Lady Ermengart is still convinced that her husband is innocent and it is us who are to blame

It has crossed my mind that, since Lady Ermengart persists with this stupid charge against us, we might do worse than send Constantine to persuade her to drop it since he does seem to have a way with words, especially when talking to women. I must find an opportunity to suggest this course of action.

I hear that Constantine brought something back from Ploeuc manor that might be an arcane connection to Sir Hammund but that Speculor has failed to locate him with The Inexorable Search and has failed to hear him with Ear for Distant Voice. I think Speculor had best spend his next free season in committing The Inexorable Search to memory before he wears out our casting copy.

Monday 2nd May: The Quaesitors call

My work was interrupted during the morning with a summons to appear at once in the council chamber. I had hardly had time to start to be annoyed when I discovered that it was Maga Industria Quaesitoris Guernici, filia Augusti Accurati Quaesitoris ex Objurgatore, so being annoyed was not a good response. I went down at once. Maga Industria demanded to be told about the mess we were in and said that we needed to arrange for the correct verdicts. I could only agree with her, but did not see how this could be managed since the courts involved were those of the church and the state. Iuris Perita ventured that it would be a great help if the charges against the magi could be dropped so that none of us had to appear in court. Speculor took the opportunity to tell Industria about the threat posed by Sir Hammund and handed over the arcane connections he had to him in the hope that the Quaesitors might succeed where he had failed.

Industria was keen to move on to the Hermitage as swiftly as possible and wanted Iuris Perita to accompany her. She waved aside Iuris' objections about being unable to ride. She wasted no time in calming a horse so that Iuris could sit on it, and then she cast spells of speed on the horses used by Iuris and Achilles so they could keep up with Industria and her two knights.

I went back to my book but found it a little hard to get back into it, with the worry about what trouble we might be in, now that House Guernicus was involved.

Tuesday 3rd May: Planning

Iuris Perita returned from the Hermitage. She said little, as usual, about what happened there yesterday, but I did gather that she met there two canon lawyers, Canon Paulus of Rennes and Canon Carolus of St.Malo, both of whom appeared to know Maga Industria well. These two had helped Iuris Perita, Achilles and Fr. Albertus prepare what must be said and done to bring about a satisfactory outcome at the trial. Iuris has commenced instructing us. It seems that I cannot get out of it, so have instructed Guena to prepare my best gown and robe.

Wednesday 10th May: The Trial

Although I resent the interruption to my studies caused by this trip to St.Brieuc, I have to say that the outcome was almost worth the trouble.

The courtroom was packed. Not only were there dozens of clergy of all ranks, there were all the local nobility too. Of the Order, there was all the magi of Caribet, Maga Industria and Aversus the Redcap. Canon Philbert was in charge and seemed to be enjoying his importance. The first significant matter was the condemnation of Sir Hammund in absentia. When brought to give account of himself, Jean de Ploeuc stood up boldly, recanted his confession and began to speak eloquently in his own defence. The courtroom was disturbed as a few people in the crowd started to point and exclaim, and I saw one or two make the sign of the cross. Feeling that all was not well, one of the senior clergymen gathered up some holy relics which lay on a table near the Bishop, while Sir Jean was still speaking, and performed an exorcism. We all saw clearly the serpentine demon uncurl itself from about Sir Jean's shoulders and fly away! The sight made even me gasp. It had a profound effect on Lady Marta, who seemed to suffer a severe choking fit.

Immediately the devil had left him, Ploeuc withdrew his words and repeated his repentance but no-one believed he was sincere now. Since there was no doubt now in anyone's mind that Ploeuc had been under demonic influence, any charges or testimony from Ploeuc inhabitants were dubious so the charge against us magi was dropped, thank Hermes.

All that was left was retribution. The household knights of Sir Jean, being Sir Baudouin, Sir Ernaut and Sir Marc of St Eloi (a vassal and cousin to Sir Jean) were sent to fight in the Holy Land as penance for attacking the Hermitage and preventing the celebration of Mass. Lady Ermengart was sent to take up residence in a nunnery, there to pray for the rest of her life. Jean himself was burnt at the stake this evening as an example to all.

We can set off homewards tomorrow, one villain out of the way and the other under the eye of the Quaesitors, and get back to some real work.

Saturday 21st May: News from the Civil Court

Sir Achilles has returned from Perros-Guirec where he took part in the posthumous civil trial of Sir Jean de Pleouc in front of the Duke's county lieutenant. Sir Jean was charged with violation of feudal rights and obligations over a period of several months and charges were brought against him concerning the attack on the Hermitage by men claiming to be acting in his name. Sir Jean was also charged with offenses against the Jews, who, it seems, are under the protection of the King of France. I do not imagine that the King will see fit to reward us for rescuing and tending his wards. I expect that Achilles, being more of a lawyer than anything else, was relishing the opportunity to show off his learning and arguments in such august company, but I would not be surprised if little was required, the accused being a known diabolist and already dead.

The family of Sir Jean have been evicted from Ploeuc and the neighbouring village of St.Eloi. The Duke had let it be known that he wished to appoint a steward to oversee Ploeuc and St.Eloi for a period of seven years, during which time most of the income would be owed to the Duke himself as a fine and to the Hermitage in reparation for the damage caused there, in the name of Pleouc, by Sir Hammund. He appointed our Achilles to this post. Myself, I do not understand why Achilles looked pleased about it. As far as I can tell, it is much more work and responsibility for next to no profit. Indeed, if the drain on Ploeuc is too much, and there is any hint of support of any kind being contributed by the covenant, I shall resist it strongly.

Achilles brought with him from Perros-Guirec warrants and a few men, ducal officers of some sort, to back up the written orders. My work was disturbed by the great amount of fuss that went on as Jacques assembled a group of soldierly grogs to accompany this party to Ploeuc. I suppose it might have been necessary to show that force could be used to enforce the warrants if required but it was probably just ostentation.

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