Friday, September 16, 2016

Fiction Friday: Vol 6: City Tales | Book II: Sacrilege Ch 1 + Ch 2

This adventure takes place in September of 1623 shortly after Father Signoret, who left the legation while they were trapped by the Spanish siege inside the town of Bergen-op-Zoom, has returned to Paris alone.

Father Gaétan Signoret is a Jesuit priest and a bit of a Renaissance man. He is the first cousin of Guy de Bourges on the mother's side and despite being a priest he is a skilled and well-known duelist.

September 1623


Volume 6: City Tales, Book II: Sacrilege

Chapter 1: Nobody Expects the Inquisition

(SEP 1623) Father Signoret discovers he has a rival within the Jesuits – Father Vargas Inteccion. The two are sent to recover a Holy Relic, the Thigh Bone of St. Cyril from a church some distance from Paris and to return it Paris so that it can be examined by a Jesuit investigator sent from the Father General of the Jesuits in Rome. The investigator was injured on his way to Paris and rather than going to see the relic, they are to bring the relic to him. But unknown to the Jesuits, there is a rival group of searchers who are also from Rome. 

The rival searchers are led by Friar Fitellus di Canem who is a fanatic Dominican, a member of a secret Dominican Order, and an Inquisitor with broad ranging powers including documents and an authorization from the Pope in Rome that give the Inquisitor Plenipotentiary powers. Friar Fitellus is accompanied by an elite bodyguard of the Roman Inquisition and a squad of Papal Swiss Guards from Avignon led by an Ensign. 

Signoret, Vargas, and Claude encounter the rival searchers while stopped at a roadside inn for a meal and a drink and to rest their mounts. While they are eating, a large group of travelers arrive on horseback. One group enters the inn and questions the Jesuits. A second group checks the stables and tends to the group’s mounts. The Jesuits retire to their room upstairs leaving the common room to the Inquisitor. Then they escape out the window and hide in the woods. Although they have lost their mounts and baggage, they are free of the Inquisitors. 

Father Signoret’s skills as a hunter allow the three to travel off the roads to the town with the relic. As they travel, Father Vargas informs Signoret that although the Inquisitor claims to have been given Plenipotentiary powers by the Pope in Rome, his authority as an Inquisitor is not recognized in France. In fact, since it is unlikely that he has actually been to Paris to present his credentials to the King, his Plenipotentiary powers are also not valid within France. “It is likely,” Vargas says, “that the Gallicans on the King’s Council will advise the His Majesty not to recognize the Inquisitor’s credentials. In addition, the Plenipotentiary, even if he is a representative of the Pope, is not the Pope himself and since our Order owes allegiance directly to the Pope we fall under the authority of the head of our Order, the Commander General in Rome, not a Papal Plenipotentiary.

Near the town, around a bend in the road, they find a wrecked coach.  A large tree branch blocks the path. Anyone with the Huntsman career can tell that the driver most have lost control when the coach went over the branch. Scattered in and around the wreck are the bodies of the driver, coachman, and a well-dressed gentleman or minor noble. They are covered in blood and have clearly been murdered. Amidst the wreckage, hidden beneath a cloak and several pillows is an injured young girl. Who tells them that her mother has been kidnapped by Outlaws. She saw their leader who she calls, “the Beast.”

Chapter 2: Cat and Mouse

The PCs arrive in the town and leave the girl with a healer, Mother Hubbard. As they head towards the main church, Outlaws attack the town. Some Outlaws attack the townspeople while other break into the church to steal the gold and silver altar pieces. 

Father Signoret heads directly for the Church as Farther Vargas accompanies him. Signoret leaves Claude behind to help a townswoman, Mother Hubbard, to safety. Signoret protects the altar pieces from the Outlaws and the arrival of the Inquisition troops frightens the remaining Outlaws, who are unsure how many soldiers they are facing, into fleeing. The Outlaws retreat to the safety of the surrounding forest. Meanwhile the Jesuits explain to Father Menard that they are here for the relic, then Signoret, Vargas, and the church’s pastor, Father Menard, push aside the stone top of the altar and uncover the Thigh Bone of St. Cyril. To avoid the Inquisition, the Jesuits flee out the back door of the church with the Thigh Bone of St. Cyril.

The combined efforts of the Jesuits and the Inquisitor and his party have foiled the Outlaws for now. But that night, while Signoret, Vargas, and Claude hide in the woods, Cat’s Claw Fornier strikes. Signoret hears a call for help and then a blood curdling series of screams from the church. Just inside the doors to the church is the body of Father Menard nearly torn apart as if by the claws of a lion. Although horribly wounded he still has time to gasp out, “He is still here. Do not let him get it…”

The Jesuits again take refuge outside of town to avoid the men of the Inquisitor. Meanwhile, having found from the dying Father Menard that the relic is missing, Cat’s Claw Fornier and his men track the Jesuits. At a lonely river crossing, Fornier springs from ambush. Evading Father Signoret’s attack, he threatens to kill Father Vargas Ior is it Claude) unless they give him the Holy relic. Rather than see his fellow Jesuit killed (or poor Claude), Signoret (or the Jesuits) gives Fornier the Thigh Bone of St. Cyril. Father Signoret’s tries to track Fornier, but the villain’s woodland skills are even better than those of the Jesuit. However, Signoret’s skills are sufficient to allow the two Jesuits and Claude to avoid any pursuit and to make their way safely cross-country and  back to Paris. 

One they reach Paris, they learn that Friar Fitella, the Inquisitor, is there ahead of them and he thinks that the Jesuits are responsible for the theft of the Relic. He lodges a formal complaint with the ecclesiastical court in Paris and insinuates that “the timing of Father Menard’s murder is most suspicious.”

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