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Covenant of La Roche Caribet

Spring 1225: Speculor is mistaken for a demon

4th April: Speculor arrived back a few days ago, with Yves and Zacharias, and an alarming tale.

Speculor's version

Speculor told us that he walked through the catacombs and found himself in the store rooms of the basement under the cathedral at Nantes. Remembering his previous visit, he had used magic to make himself invisible and crept towards the door while the congregation were absorbed in a service of some sort. Unfortunately, it appeared that the priest was probably one of those like Father Albertus who has some understanding of magic, and was able to see him. The celebrant advanced boldly bearing an elevated crucifix and intoning what sounded like words of exorcism. As Speculor was opening the door to leave, his spell dropped, either because his concentration wavered, or because of something the priest did. Speculor dodged out, closing the door behind him, and made haste to cross the open plaza in front of the cathedral, trusting in his fleetness of foot. A number of people tried to stop the fleeing magus, but he cast Wizard's Sidestep to make it harder for them to grab him. Eventually the press of bodies around him meant that Speculor could not escape, and thus he was taken prisoner by the priest and a couple of guards. The captors seemed convinced that they had caught a demon in the form of a man!

Speculor had been loaded with chains, sprinkled liberally with holy water, had a cross hung about his neck, and was dragged back to a side chapel in the cathedral where he was tied up and kept under guard. He was hoping to be left alone for long enough to effect an escape, but the demon theory had taken hold so all the holiest relics were produced and laid out around him while prayers of exorcism were repeated for an hour or more.

Eventually, another priest arrived, interrupted the exorcism, sent the other clergy away and asked Speculor for a good explanation. This priest knew that Speculor was a magus and accepted his report of attempting to leave the cathedral without disturbing anyone. When pressed to explain what he was doing in the basement in the first place, Speculor told the truth about entering through a regio - alas, surely such honesty must have been unwise! Speculor says he managed to avoid mentioning Caribet or the Order of Hermes, but he did mention the Foret de Lorge and the Hermitage, and is sure the interrogator knew about the Order and that the magus was in trouble. I feel sure trouble from the Church is heading our way because of this!

The priest said he would arrange for Speculor to lie low in Nantes for a few days for the excitement to die down before seeing him on his way. This seemed, to Speculor, a very satisfactory end to the problem. He just had to deal with the rescue party ...

The grog's version

Yves and Zacharias had no difficulty following the instructions which took them through the catacombs and into the basement of Nantes cathedral. It was quiet and almost deserted when they emerged so they had no difficulty walking out into the body of the cathedral then thence into the plaza without anyone taking any notice of them. Both these grogs came to us from Mummolides, so their understanding of town life is unfortunately lacking, but they did know enough to realise that one way to get information is to talk to people and a good place to start a conversation is in the alehouse.

They were hoping to hear talk of how a wizard had appeared in the cathedral and had flown away, since they are sure that wizards can all get about by flying. (While I might be able to do this, had I a mind to, I doubt that Speculor has sufficient understanding of Auram.) The talk amongst the drinkers was all about the slippery demon with the sparks of fire flying from its hair that had been exorcised from the cathedral, then captured by the clergy and was now held in the cathedral, bound in chains of iron. Even Zacharias eventually worked out that it was Speculor they were speaking of.

Yves took the lead and decided they must ask a priest where the demon was being held. They found a young man who was willing to talk to them, and he told them that they should not worry because the demon was being sent straight back to hell. Yves, so he says, had a brilliant idea and told a magnificent story of how a demon had appeared in their village, then he described Speculor and said he wanted to know if it was the same demon. It may have been a good story, but the young priest would not agree to let the men see the demon because it would be dangerous for them. He called over a young monk who took the pair aside and had the grogs repeat their story in detail to him, so he could record it.

Zacharias was getting impatient and would have gladly hit the monk over the head to escape from him and set off to hunt for Speculor. Yves tried to bribe the monk into letting them see the demon, by promising to buy him ale. It turned out that the monk had not seen the demon himself and that he was terrified of it. Yves was rather enjoying his deception, and elaborated on the story of the demon visiting his village, telling the monk how many big men it had eaten before making off. Then he wove into his story various elements of the time when we discovered demons in Ploeuc. Eventually, the story was over, the monk had finished writing, and the grogs were allowed to go, having promised to meet the monk in the alehouse that evening to buy him a drink.

As they were heading towards the main door, Yves and Zacharias saw a group heading the same way - three priests and several guards around Speculor. Zacharias charged forward to the rescue, Yves tried to grab him but was left holding his cloak and shouted to him to stop. Two of the guards pointed their spears at Zacharias who skidded to a halt and fell over backwards. Yves caught up and apologised for his friend's behaviour, saying that the demon had eaten three of Zacharias' best mates. Speculor recognised the grogs and bade them be quiet, saying "These people are sorting everything out". Zacharias talked to Speculor about getting home while Yves stuck to the 'demon' story, telling everyone else that Zacharias was mad because the demon had also eaten his companion's favourite chickens. Speculor insisted that everything was alright and he did not need rescuing.

The trio were housed comfortably in a building close to the Bishop's residence for about a week before being conducted to the edge of the city and seen on their way.

10th April: Punishment

I am glad to say that my work is progressing well. Jimena was looking rather tired when I saw her this morning. She said she had had what must have been a very disturbing dream, for she had awoken just before dawn with no memory of what she had dreamt but a very strong sense of relief to be safe in her own bed. I suspect she was affected by some of those potions she makes to treat the grogs' ills.

I now know why there were thumps and crashes, and sounds of breaking glass coming from Speculor's rooms soon after his return. The Quaesitors have ruled that his behaviour in Nantes was inappropriate and have decreed that he much write a Tractatus on Hermetic Law as a way of improving his own understanding of the law, and as some compemsation to them for the negotiations with the Church that must have been necessary to hush the matter up. Poor Speculor! I fear that he will have to spend a season reading on the subject before he is ready to begin composition, if his book is to satisfy the Quaesitors. How easy it is to transgress! It does seem rather unfair - it was not as if he had chosen to be in the cathedral, after all.

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